The Complexity of Human Actions
The complexity of what humans do indicates that human actions cannot be reduced to something singular. For example, the consideration of stealing reflects this complexity. Although stealing is morally unjustifiable, the decision-making process still involves various shades of consideration between good and evil. The decision to steal cannot be directly equated to the act of stealing, as each action is closely related to the decision-making process and how an individual plans and executes the action. In this context, perpetrators of theft may have specific considerations and motivations underlying their decisions.
As human actions involve various layers of complexity, assessing an individual’s moral quality must consistently consider intricate and varied nuances. An individual compelled to commit theft due to basic needs such as food is situated in a different context than those who steal out of greed. For instance, a corrupt individual engaging in theft to enrich themselves, indulge in extravagance, or fund illicit relationships presents a more complex motive. These divergent motives introduce a new dimension to moral evaluation, as theft driven by essential needs reflects a situation of compulsion and life crisis. On the other hand, stealing stemming from greed portrays a conscious decision to achieve personal satisfaction, disregarding moral consequences or negative impacts on others.
In the context of corruption, normatively, corrupt individuals’ actions and conduct are already considered crimes and deviations from prevailing moral values. Nevertheless, empirically, the ongoing acts of corruption by individuals driven by greed cannot be disregarded and have even become ingrained in the culture of Indonesia. Despite this complexity, a fundamental question arises: Is the wrongdoing in corrupt practices solely due to legal violations? For instance, is it a transgression against divine law or laws formed and applied in a state society at one time, or does it stem from a profoundly poor moral dimension? These considerations open a window to explore whether the immorality of corrupt behavior lies solely in legal prohibitions or if the moral essence inherent in such actions also plays a role. Nietzsche, as one of the thinkers, perceived that the concepts of good and evil in human behavior result from the power individuals possess to act or carry out certain deeds.
Link Between Corruption and Morality
In many cases, involvement in acts of corruption and the assessment of morality are often linked to values and happiness. A corrupt individual often perceives happiness as a pleasure and categorizes values between pleasant and unpleasant. Pursuing happiness in the context of corrupt actions is often interpreted as attaining personal well-being, where money is considered a means to bring joy to oneself and one’s family. The moral perspective of a corrupt individual is deemed unpleasant, especially when caught red-handed in corrupt activities, as they are then affixed with a negative label. Prior to the revelation of their actions, the moral view of a corruptor may seem pleasant, as they often appear to hold high-ranking positions and enjoy economic stability in the eyes of others.
A lack of understanding of respecting life and its freedoms is the main factor in forming poor morality. In this context, an individual can become ensnared in the control dictated by materialistic aspects, making it challenging to break free from the shackles beyond personal control. Self-understanding is the foundation for the most fundamental moral knowledge, given that it enables individuals to act and make wise decisions. Understanding how to respect life and freedom encompasses acknowledging intrinsic values inherent in every individual and appreciating everyone’s right to live and express themselves freely. Someone caught in materialistic control tends to disregard these principles, leading to the distortion of moral formation.
More than merely understanding moral knowledge of right and wrong is required, as comprehending moral values without applying them in life only produces intelligent individuals who lack morality. However, for those who understand moral sentiments, there is often a more profound comprehension of what actions should be taken. Moral sentiments represent an aspect that should be instilled in every individual, as these sentiments motivate one’s moral actions. The significance of moral sentiments extends beyond mere intellectual grasp, transcending into the realm of emotional awareness and empathetic understanding. Individuals who have cultivated moral sentiments possess the knowledge of moral principles and internalize a sense of moral responsibility. This internalization goes beyond theoretical comprehension, guiding individuals to incorporate ethical considerations into their decision-making processes.
Rational Consideration and Emotional Connection in Moral Dilemmas
When faced with moral dilemmas, we tend to rationally consider the actions we will take while simultaneously being connected to the feelings that arise from empathy. In such situations, an individual makes a moral decision to act, even though specific obligations may not bind them. Therefore, moral knowledge and feelings play a crucial role in shaping human attitudes and behavior. Moral knowledge provides a rational foundation that enables an individual to understand ethical principles and discern actions that can be deemed good or bad. However, when dilemmas peak, moral feelings stemming from the ability to empathize with others or even with the situation contribute to a more holistic response.
These moral feelings encompass empathy, sympathy, and a profound understanding of the moral impact of an action. Thus, an individual acts based on ethical knowledge and is guided by emotional depth that allows them to feel and appreciate the moral consequences of the choices made. Corruptors understand moral values, assessing what is considered good and evil; ironically, they do not feel the moral impact on themselves. It is due to the existence of the will to power, which compels them to disregard or even reject moral principles that hinder their ambitions for power. As described by Nietzsche, the significant resistance they can offer, their ability to endure suffering, and their understanding of exploiting situations for personal gain are the focal elements.
Nietzsche depicts a hypocrisy that emerges in this context, where there is a naive rejection of the will to power, later justified by using morality as a façade. Corruptors, engaged in amoral actions that often harm many parties, frequently overlook moral norms under the pretext that their desire for power surpasses adherence to the moral standards recognized by society. Nietzsche observes that this action is not merely a debasement of existence but also reflects the hope that life can become worse and more full of suffering, albeit in a manner consistent with their ambitions and the will to power. Humans fundamentally live to achieve personal well-being by seeking pleasures they deem good without always considering the perspectives or well-being of others. Therefore, the desire to control the property of others or engage in corrupt practices does not necessarily need to be hypocritically denied, as every individual has a natural tendency to pursue power, including the desire to control or engage in corruption. Nietzsche’s perspective asserts that the drive for power, granted by supernatural forces to humans, is essentially a result of fear.
No one desires their life to be harmful or not prosperous. To overcome an unprosperous life, individuals tend to seek power. Corruption becomes one manifestation of this pursuit of power, where individuals may perceive it as a means to achieve goodness. However, this may not always align with moral principles. Something that has been corroded by corruption often occurs because no one dares to define the specific elements of happiness as a form of feeling derived from power.
The Dual Nature of Power
The concept of power inherent in God or humans always encompasses the ability to assist and simultaneously involves the capacity to inflict harm. The influence of this power arises from various motivations, such as the desire for dominance, the craving for specific positions or roles, vengeance, and the sense of ownership underlying actions or decisions. Nevertheless, individuals should be able to free themselves from the control that these impulses may exert. Nietzsche contends that the ability to liberate oneself from these impulses is an essential form of autonomy. Individuals who can transcend uncontrollable desires for dominance, the craving for positions, intentions of revenge, and excessive feelings of possession have the potential to be good people. In this context, a “good person” refers to an individual not ensnared by ambitions that could harm oneself or others.
Some individuals with a naive and confident nature believe that pleasure is something to be desired, resulting in an expression of human weakness, namely moral intolerance. This phenomenon can be considered a sign that they fear the amoral aspects within themselves and tend to deny their most vital impulses because they do not know how to manage them. Degraded desires emerge as if only serving as motifs without possessing intrinsic value, both for the object and for themselves, but merely as a form of pleasure. From Nietzsche’s perspective, the will to power is not only a drive to achieve physical dominance or strength but also entails liberating oneself from various psychological and moral constraints. These constraints encompass fear, excessive concern for those considered weak, affection that is seen as limiting courage, and all sorts of moral rules that he labels as restricting the desires and instincts of humanity. Nietzsche argues that, for instance, Christian morality represents a form of slave morality that stems from sentiments of weakness toward the strong.
The morality of this enslaved person reflects a worldview trapped in the herd mentality, where individuals are reluctant to take independent steps and prefer to follow the majority. They seek recognition and praise from their surroundings, even though they fear reprimand or criticism. Ironically, hidden behind their obedience to the group is a lack of courage to act independently and attain proper moral high ground. It must be acknowledged that morality cannot be firmly separated from the religious aspect. Religion, as the primary foundation of morality, should guide individuals toward truth and justice. However, there is a paradox when morality is used to fulfill personal desires, leveraging strengths, power, creativity, and the ability to sustain one’s will over an extended period, whether through laws, religion, or customs.
In the context of nihilistic religious physiology, a narrative emerges that presents a history of systematic illness. The naming of religious morality becomes a binding norm but is often used for specific interests. It creates an environment where religion is seen as a victim of belief in morality. Nietzsche’s work asserts that the concept of God in Christian morality can no longer be defended, indicating that religion is vulnerable to manipulation and abuse of morality. Nietzsche not only includes Christianity in the morality of enslaved people but also criticizes the democratic movement for rejecting dictatorships and elites.
Additionally, he scrutinizes the socialist movement, considering it a sentiment of weak-spirited individuals who envy those who are strong and wealthy. In his view, these movements reflect a slave mentality. To counteract this slave morality, Nietzsche introduces the concept of master morality.
In master morality, good is equated with noble qualities, while evil is synonymous with lowly attributes. Those deemed lowly include the fearful, the weak, profiteering thieves, sycophants, liars, and those who demean themselves. Master morality justifies strength and power and inherently validates itself through the desire for dominance. According to Nietzsche, it embraces a perspective that recognizes the inherent distinctions between individuals based on their qualities and accomplishments. In this framework, actions and virtues are evaluated not through the lens of pity or egalitarianism but rather through the lens of strength and nobility. The master morality asserts a hierarchy where the powerful and dominant are esteemed, while those exhibiting weakness or dependence are viewed with disdain. It establishes a moral code that celebrates individualism, self-assertion, and the pursuit of power, contrasting sharply with the values propagated by slave morality.
Inherent Will to Power and Societal Dynamics
The human will to power is an inherent aspect of the natural order within individuals. This drive for power is intricately connected to politics, which is inseparable from social life. Consequently, as social beings, humans harbor an innate desire that manifests itself in attempting to dominate others and even exert control over the environment in which they reside. Its will to power is deeply rooted in the fabric of human existence and is pivotal in shaping societal dynamics. Pursuing power goes beyond simple interpersonal connections and includes a broader context, spanning the political realm where individuals and collectives compete for influence and dominance. As social creatures, humans are driven by this inherent force, leading them to seek power over their fellow beings and the very world they inhabit. This intrinsic yearning for dominance is fundamental to human nature, shaping the course of civilizations and governance structures.
For Nietzsche, the root of every wrongdoing, including corruption, is, in essence, hypocrisy. He perceives naivety in rejecting the will to power in the name of morality as a form of disingenuousness. In Nietzsche’s view, individuals and societies often engage in a facade of moral righteousness while harboring an underlying drive for power. The corruption that arises manifests this suppressed will to power, expressing itself in ways that contradict the professed moral values. In Indonesia, corruption paints a portrait of the darker side of human nature. It includes an inherent desire for power, a lust for personal gain, laziness, thoughtlessness, spiritual emptiness, and the existence of an untamed, primal aspect. This portrayal reflects that the seeds of criminal behavior are deeply embedded in the tapestry of human life, particularly in Indonesia. Over time, these criminal inclinations transform into systematic wrongdoing, rooted so deeply that they become ingrained in the culture.
The occurrence of corruption illustrates how the shadowy aspects of human behavior leave an indelible mark on the history of human existence, especially in Indonesia. What starts as individual inclinations, such as the desire for power and the pursuit of pleasure at any cost, gradually evolves into a systemic issue, weaving its way into the fabric of societal norms. The persistence and prevalence of corruption suggest that it has metamorphosed into a cultural phenomenon, shaping how people conduct themselves within society. Power indeed enchants individuals, influencing their thoughts and behaviors towards paths that may be deemed immoral. The tumultuous waves of authority can easily swallow those who are vulnerable. However, for those who comprehend the true nature of power, it transcends Nietzsche’s characterization, where power is not merely synonymous with evil. Instead, it is a force not to be denied but to be attained, celebrated, and wielded for creative purposes rather than malevolent actions.
Understanding the essence of power involves recognizing it as a tool with the potential for both constructive and destructive outcomes. Nietzsche’s critique of power as inherently harmful does not negate its intrinsic value. When harnessed with wisdom and responsibility, power can be a driving force for positive transformation, innovation, and societal progress. The enlightened perspective on power emphasizes its potential to shape and create, urging individuals to celebrate their capacity to influence change. It encourages the use of power not for harm but as a means to build, uplift, and contribute to the betterment of society. This nuanced understanding of power suggests a shift from viewing it solely as a corrupting force to recognizing its role as a catalyst for positive evolution.
In a world fundamentally flawed, truth becomes an uncommon inclination—a tendency that only holds significance as a means to attain a higher realm of deceptive power. Consequently, for a world founded on the essence of truth to emerge, individuals embodying truth must be cultivated and steadfastly believe in their own righteousness. To achieve this, these virtues define such individuals: simplicity, honesty, internal consistency, resilience, lack of prejudice, absence of pretense, and formlessness. According to their perception, this kind of person comprehends the world of existence as a manifestation of God. To create an environment where honesty flourishes, every aspect of human society must be characterized by profound purity, simplicity, and nobility. From this perspective, true fortune emanates from individuals who embody truth, as deceit, cunning, and falsehood invariably lead to chaos. The foundation for a world shaped by genuine virtue can be laid in the simplicity and integrity of those who stand firm in their truth.
This perspective challenges the prevailing norms that often associate success with manipulation and deceit. Instead, it champions a paradigm where success is a product of authentic living, devoid of the complications that arise from deception and cunning tactics. In this envisioned world, the authenticity of individuals paves the way for a harmonious existence, free from the tumult generated by dishonesty and pretense. From a moral standpoint, individuals engaged in corruption can be categorized as having herd or enslaved person morality since they often follow the crowd without asserting independent values. However, they also exhibit a form of master morality in a negative sense by engaging in actions considered degrading—such as deceit, falsehood, and self-harm. The desire for power, inherently dual-edged, thus reveals both positive and negative dimensions.
On the positive side, power can be a force for construction and development. It has the potential to build, create, and contribute to the betterment of society. However, on the negative side, unchecked power can lead to destructive authoritarianism and abuse. The dichotomy of power exemplifies its paradoxical nature, capable of being a tool for progress or a source of harm, depending on how it is wielded. Acknowledging the dual nature of the will to power, individuals need not hypocritically deny their inclination for power. Instead, the emphasis should be on redirecting this desire toward more constructive possibilities rather than corruptive tendencies. This redirection applies to personal growth and contributions to the well-being of others. Rather than suppressing the inherent desire for power, it can be channeled into avenues that foster constructive outcomes and positive societal change.
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- Rouhana, N. N. (2011). Key issues in reconciliation: Challenging traditional assumptions on conflict resolution and power dynamics. Intergroup conflicts and their resolution: A social psychological perspective, 291-314.