If a war proves unsuccessful one asks who was to ‘blame’ for the war; if it ends in victory one praises the instigator. Guilt is always sought whenever there is failure; for failure brings with it a depression of spirits against which the sole remedy is instinctively applied: a new excitation of the feeling of power – and this is to be discovered in the condemnation of the ‘guilty’. This guilty person is not to be thought of as a scapegoat for the guilt of others: he is a sacrifice to the weak, humiliated and depressed, who want to demonstrate on something that they still have some strength left. To condemn oneself can also be a means of restoring the feeling of strength after a defeat. – On the other hand, the glorification of the instigator is often the equally blind result of another drive which wants its sacrifice – and this time the sacrifice smells sweet and inviting to the sacrificial beast itself – :for when the feeling of power in a people or a society is surfeited by a great and glittering success and a weariness with victory sets in, one relinquishes some of one’s pride; the feeling of devotion rises up and seeks an object. – Whether we are praised or blamed, what we usually constitute is opportunities, and arbitrarily seized opportunities, for our neighbours to discharge the drive to praise or blame which has become distended in them: in both cases we do them a favour for which we deserve no credit and they display no gratitude.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak