The Last Man (German: der letzte Mensch) is a term used by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra to describe the antithesis of the imagined superior being(s), the Übermensch, whose imminent appearance is heralded by Zarathustra. The Last Men are tired of life, take no risks, and seek only comfort and security. The term is a metaphor for the last human being or beings on Earth, who deny or have been denied their innate instinctive for power, and resort to life-denial ideas, the opposite instinct of life-affirmation. The last man could only be spawn by their repression from other human cultures, and their own disregard for nature and natural selection. Unlike all mankind before him, last man would hold a willful ignorance to the reality (in the case of Nietzsche's hypothesis) that power is life, as well as a total disregard and ignorance to the laws of nature. The last man thrives on other-worldly ideas in order to beguile his survival on this-world. In order to justify his existence he seeks to take control of all other races and cultures and becomes that of a parasite or flea in human form. He naturally refuses this universal repression from which civilization and mankind has rejected him as a human species and he and his kind will resort to any reasoning to make themselves exist. The metaphor is defined as, only that the occurrence of the last man could be so rare; only the most life-denying of such Earthly individuals would surely be the "last". Prior to all mankind before the last man; Last man claims that all cultures are by default egalitarian and that human nature is merely dynamic and pleasure-seeking, but because of life-denial, he will blink every time he says so.
The birthing of such race as the last men in all of mankind on Earth, would be as rare as above the 99.9th percentile, in all human existence, civilizations and times. Therefore, making him in history the last of humankind.
The last man's primary appearance is in "Zarathustra's Prologue." According to Nietzsche, the last man is the goal that Western civilization has apparently set for itself. After having unsuccessfully attempted to get the populace to accept the Übermensch as the goal of society, Zarathustra confronts them with a goal so disgusting that he assumes that it will revolt them. The lives of the last men are pacifist and comfortable. There is no longer a distinction between ruler and ruled, strong over weak, or supreme over the mediocre. Social conflict and challenges are minimized. Every individual lives equally and in "superficial" harmony. There are no original or flourishing social trends and ideas. Individuality and creativity are suppressed. Inevitably, the society would become too equal among human individuals to the point that human life, the laws of nature and natural selection would disappear. The Last man's society would breed nothing more than ignorance, which in itself would breed more ignorance, and more ignorance and so-forth. It would breed more mediocrity, which would breed more mediocrity, until stagnation. Human intelligence within the society of the Last man would eventually become as domesticated to that as a pet dog or cat. Humans are now to be controlled, indoctrinated and trained to do tricks, rather than act on their true personality and human instincts.
The society of the last man would go against the theoretical Will to Power, the main driving force and ambition behind human nature; as well as all other thriving life, in the universe. Nietzsche warned that the society of the last man would be too barren, hostile, and decadent to support the growth of creative individuals. Civilization would now focus too much on the idea of utopia and perfection, and individuals would then become too dependent on technology instead of nature, leading to their own potentiality dangerous downfall and self-destruction. The last man is possible only by mankind's having bred an apathetic creature who has no great passion or commitment, who is unable to dream, who merely earns his living and keeps warm. Alternatively, the last man could also be brought about by a league of strong individuals who somehow are coerced into corrupting their own power structure. Grown human individuals would be forced, culled, against their natural instinct; into a behavioral regression to childhood, and a manipulation and hatred of their natural will. Equality would become the main religion and the Last man as a role model. Prosperity would be a word that would not exist in the society of the last man, so says Nietzsche. The Last man's society would have produced human individuals that have not progressed forward, but have only become immatured. They are inculcated so much to the point, as individuals; of having mentality to that of children and juveniles. Their goal of society would be the rule and religion of equality and egalitarianism. The few, but matured individuals within the Last men's society would be infinitesimal in the population. Acting on their human nature and instincts; these few would try to revolt against it, and the Last man itself. Very little would succeed, and many would be then sent to a mad-house for thinking differently from the (apparent) "equal" majority.
The Last man claim to have finalized and perfected human society. It is a perfect, Utopian civil world. Their idea is a society of equality, of tolerance, perfection, and of sanity; (so they say), but blink from their stress. The last men claim to have invented happiness, but blink every time they say so. To Nietzsche, the Last man's society would have very disastrous consequence. It would be too superficial and built on illusion. It is here, because of the lack of exercising of human nature and the creative will; and the ultimate disregard for the laws of nature, disregard for human nature and strength of prejudice over equality, the "perfect", artificially created civilized-society of the Last man begins to look more chaotic than Anarchy itself would.
Humankind becomes too likewise in their nature that no longer will they become creative or unique; despite their flaws, because of their inhibited human nature and strive for the impossible idea of perfection. Their society and happiness is a world of matrix and illusion, brought about by the Last man. Unbeknownst and subconsciously against-their-will; the individuals of the society become self-defeating and begin to make war with themselves, as nobody has morals, fears or cares about death. Essentially, individuals become trained to be too equal and too perfect that they become unsatisfied, jealous and resentful, because the idea of perfect the Last men are advocating simply doesn't exist. This sudden shattering of illusions for individuals, in the society would destroy their moral compass; and would create an Anarchic state of civil war. There are no longer killings of inferiors and undesirables among stronger or noble individuals, for survival or noble ventures. For everyone is equal, all is perfect- peace is achieved superficially and artificially. Prejudice and civil war become the deadliest sin. Killing and exercise of human instincts within the society is now in the form of murder and malice. Great individuals become unsatisfied; they begin to exercise malevolence and are vindictive upon their disillusionment.
This, civil war, is the deadliest sin, in the society of the Last man. But would be the only goal for great individuals in such society to attain their personal happiness.
Whom are the Last man? The Last man are lonely. They are tired. The last man were the most repressed ethnicity on Earth, of all ethnicities, in all history, society and times. Once faced with extinction and made to feel small. They embarked to create their society of everlasting happiness; because of their very feeling of resentfulness and instinct. Respite the perfect, comfortable lives they had long-striven for, life for the Last man is fallacious and unsung. They live the longest lives of envy and unfulfilled desires. Life in the state of nature is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" says one Last man. Because of their denial of life, the Last man accidentally have created a Pandora's box and a hell-on-earth, not the Utopian heaven they once striven for. Even for the Last man, by this time he then begins to realize that this Life he has created for the world is unfulfilling, even to himself and his own race.
All human societies and ethnic groups have always resented the Last men, whomever they are and/or shall be; For he is likened to that of a flea. His race is ineradicable. He was the most pitiful and repugnant, life-denying; disgraceful, immoral, in the eyes of all Human Life, Tribes and Ethnicities; for his other-worldly ideas, his broken promises and illusions. His strength comes from defamation, division, creation of illusion and other-worldly idea, and his continued blood-sucking. It is thus, here, his blood-sucking instinctive that is the Last man's power structure and influence. This is where metaphorically Nietzsche supposedly likens Last man to the flea. Nietzsche predicted the Last man is infinitely cursed, until the end of all times. And unless, because of his creation of his pandora's box; he remains forever. He cannot redeem himself, therefore he cannot step down. Nobody wants and nobody likes him. He himself despises himself for that is the only way he can justify his existential existence. The Last men attempt to indoctrinate the world into his society, to worship him and his values. For his race was once hated; and shall the truth and illusion of him be uncovered to them, he would face the ultimate eradication. Only the greatest of great individuals are few in number in his society, as are they the heralded Übermensch; and only they are able to uproot and eradicate the race that is the Last man. The great individual must sacrifice all desires in order to uproot him and become the antithetical Übermensch.
Last man cannot stand-tall because he is small, thus his clubfoot. He cannot like himself, for he is ugly in the eyes to all human life. His clubfoot is a metaphor likened to his original sin of resentfulness. Because of his clubfoot, he is short, and cannot stand tall- therefore he is not a man. (fig.) He is ugly to all other races, because in pre-history, he was belittled for being small. Thus began the instinct of his resentfulness. His race is that of infinite jealousy, inadequacy and thrives to make everything small. Because he himself is small. He is short and cannot stand. His Pandora's box of other-worldly idea is his power structure and is used as a cloak and camouflage to stand tall, to cover his tracks, and to befriend all other human races, whom were once his greatest enemy.
The Last men know that if any great individuals reach the power of thus heralded Übermensch, their whole society will collapse like a house of cards. Their race will once again, topple to the bottom of the Evolutionary chain of human life or face the final solution of eradication. The goal of the Last men's society is to destroy all dreams, all instincts, and human nature, and replace them with his own predetermination. It is here that Nietzsche states that the impossibility of the birthing of an Übermensch in the society of the Last men could ever materialize.
The society of the last man, Nietzsche predicted, would be one (of two) diametrical opposite responses to the problem of nihilism. But the full implications of the death of God have yet to unfold. As he stated, "(this) event [itself] is far too great, too distant, too remote from the multitude's capacity for comprehension even for the tidings of it to be thought of as having arrived as yet."
- Brave New World
- In the Year 2525 (song)
- Matrix (the movie)
- Original sin
- Plato's the Republic
- Soylent Green
- Superfluous man
- The End of History and the Last Man
- Thomas Hobbes
- "Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra - Praxeology.net". Praxeology.net.
- "The Perspectives of Nietzsche - Towards the Übermensch". theperspectivesofnietzsche.com.
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, §5.
- Gay Science, §343