Articles, Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche and Russian Fatalism

Whether debilitated by a physical illness or overcome by an intense bout with psychological/emotional pain, Nietzsche recommended that one utilize the remedy which he called ‘Russian fatalism’. One who utilizes such a remedy ceases the attempt to cure himself, and simply lies down and accepts his sickness and pain and inhibits any physical or emotional reaction whatsoever. In doing so he conserves precious energy and hastens his recovery.

As Nietzsche explained in his ‘autobiography’, Ecce Homo:

“If anything at all must be adduced against being sick and being weak, it is that man’s really remedial instinct, his fighting instinct wears out. One cannot get rid of anything, one cannot get over anything, one cannot repel anything—everything hurts. Men and things obtrude too closely; experiences strike one too deeply; memory becomes a festering wound. Against all this the sick person has only one great remedy: I call it Russian fatalism, that fatalism without revolt which is exemplified by a Russian soldier who, finding a campaign too strenuous, finally lies down in the snow. No longer to accept anything at all, no longer to take anything, no longer to absorb anything—to cease reacting altogether. This fatalism is not always merely the courage to die; it can also preserve life under the most perilous conditions by reducing the metabolism, slowing it down, as a kind of will to hibernate. Carrying this logic a few steps further, we arrive at the fakir who sleeps for weeks in a grave. Because one would use oneself up too quickly if one reacted in any way, one does not react at all any more: this is the logic. Nothing burns one up faster than the affects of ressentiment. Anger, pathological vulnerability, impotent lust for revenge, thirst for revenge, poison-mixing in any sense—no reaction could be more disadvantageous for the exhausted: such affects involve a rapid consumption of nervous energy, a pathological increase of harmful excretions…” (Ecce Homo)