3. Humane Liberalism
As liberalism is completed in self-criticizing, “critical” liberalism — in which the critic remains a liberal and does not go beyond the principle of liberalism, Man — this may distinctively be named after Man and called the “humane.”
The laborer is counted as the most material and egoistical man. He does nothing at all for humanity, does everything for himself, for his welfare.
The commonalty, because it proclaimed the freedom of Man only as to his birth, had to leave him in the claws of the un-human man (the egoist) for the rest of life. Hence under the regime of political liberalism egoism has an immense field for free utilization.
The laborer will utilize society for his egoistic ends as the commoner does the State. You have only an egoistic end after all, your welfare, is the humane liberal’s reproach to the Socialist; take up a purely human interest, then I will be your companion. “But to this there belongs a consciousness stronger, more comprehensive, than a laborer-consciousness”. “The laborer makes nothing, therefore he has nothing; but he makes nothing because his labor is always a labor that remains individual, calculated strictly for his own want, a labor day by day.” In opposition to this one might, e.g., consider the fact that Gutenberg’s labor did not remain individual, but begot innumerable children, and still lives today; it was calculated for the want of humanity, and was an eternal, imperishable labor.
The humane consciousness despises the commoner-consciousness as well as the laborer-consciousness: for the commoner is “indignant” only at vagabonds (at all who have “no definite occupation”) and their “immorality”; the laborer is “disgusted” by the idler (“lazy-bones”) and his “immoral,” because parasitic and unsocial, principles. To this the humane liberal retorts: The unsettledness of many is only your product, Philistine! But that you, proletarian, demand the grind of all, and want to make drudgery general, is a part, still clinging to you, of your pack-mule life up to this time. Certainly you want to lighten drudgery itself by all having to drudge equally hard, yet only for this reason, that all may gain leisure to an equal extent. But what are they to do with their leisure? What does your “society” do, that this leisure may be passed humanly? It must leave the gained leisure to egoistic preference again, and the very gain that your society furthers falls to the egoist, as the gain of the commonalty, the masterlessness of man, could not be filled with a human element by the State, and therefore was left to arbitrary choice.
It is assuredly necessary that man be masterless: but therefore the egoist is not to become master over man again either, but man over the egoist. Man must assuredly find leisure: but, if the egoist makes use of it, it will be lost for man; therefore you ought to have given leisure a human significance. But you laborers undertake even your labor from an egoistic impulse, because you want to eat, drink, live; how should you be less egoists in leisure? You labor only because having your time to yourselves (idling) goes well after work done, and what you are to while away your leisure time with is left to chance.
But, if every door is to be bolted against egoism, it would be necessary to strive after completely “disinterested” action, total disinterestedness. This alone is human, because only Man is disinterested, the egoist always interested.
* * *
If we let disinterestedness pass unchallenged for a while, then we ask, do you mean not to take an interest in anything, not to be enthusiastic for anything, not for liberty, humanity, etc.? “Oh, yes, but that is not an egoistic interest, not interestedness, but a human, i.e. a — theoretical interest, to wit, an interest not for an individual or individuals (‘all’), but for the idea, for Man!”
And you do not notice that you too are enthusiastic only for your idea, your idea of liberty?
And, further, do you not notice that your disinterestedness is again, like religious disinterestedness, a heavenly interestedness? Certainly benefit to the individual leaves you cold, and abstractly you could cry fiat libertas, pereat mundus. You do not take thought for the coming day either, and take no serious care for the individual’s wants anyhow, not for your own comfort nor for that of the rest; but you make nothing of all this, because you are a — dreamer.
Do you suppose the humane liberal will be so liberal as to aver that everything possible to man is human? On the contrary! He does not, indeed, share the Philistine’s moral prejudice about the strumpet, but “that this woman turns her body into a money-getting machine” makes her despicable to him as “human being.” His judgment is, the strumpet is not a human being; or, so far as a woman is a strumpet, so far is she unhuman, dehumanized. Further: The Jew, the Christian, the privileged person, the theologian, etc., is not a human being; so far as you are a Jew, etc., you are not a human being. Again the imperious postulate: Cast from you everything peculiar, criticize it away! Be not a Jew, not a Christian, but be a human being, nothing but a human being. Assert your humanity against every restrictive specification; make yourself, by means of it, a human being, and free from those limits; make yourself a “free man” — i.e. recognize humanity as your all-determining essence.
I say: You are indeed more than a Jew, more than a Christian, etc., but you are also more than a human being. Those are all ideas, but you are corporeal. Do you suppose, then, that you can ever become a “human being as such?” Do you suppose our posterity will find no prejudices and limits to clear away, for which our powers were not sufficient? Or do you perhaps think that in your fortieth or fiftieth year you have come so far that the following days have nothing more to dissipate in you, and that you are a human being? The men of the future will yet fight their way to many a liberty that we do not even miss. What do you need that later liberty for? If you meant to esteem yourself as nothing before you had become a human being, you would have to wait till the “last judgment,” till the day when man, or humanity, shall have attained perfection. But, as you will surely die before that, what becomes of your prize of victory?
Rather, therefore, invert the case, and say to yourself, I am a human being! I do not need to begin by producing the human being in myself, for he belongs to me already, like all my qualities.
But, asks the critic, how can one be a Jew and a man at once? In the first place, I answer, one cannot be either a Jew or a man at all, if “one” and Jew or man are to mean the same; “one” always reaches beyond those specifications, and — let Isaacs be ever so Jewish — a Jew, nothing but a Jew, he cannot be, just because he is this Jew. In the second place, as a Jew one assuredly cannot be a man, if being a man means being nothing special. But in the third place — and this is the point — I can, as a Jew, be entirely what I — can be. From Samuel or Moses, and others, you hardly expect that they should have raised themselves above Judaism, although you must say that they were not yet “men.” They simply were what they could be. Is it otherwise with the Jews of today? Because you have discovered the idea of humanity, does it follow from this that every Jew can become a convert to it? If he can, he does not fail to, and, if he fails to, he — cannot. What does your demand concern him? What the call to be a man, which you address to him?
* * *
As a universal principle, in the “human society” which the humane liberal promises, nothing “special” which one or another has is to find recognition, nothing which bears the character of “private” is to have value. In this way the circle of liberalism, which has its good principle in man and human liberty, its bad in the, egoist and everything private, its God in the former, its devil in the latter, rounds itself off completely; and, if the special or private person lost his value in the State (no personal prerogative), if in the “laborers’ or ragamuffins’ society” special (private) property is no longer recognized, so in “human society” everything special or private will be left out of account; and, when “pure criticism” shall have accomplished its arduous task, then it will be known just what we must look upon as private, and what, “penetrated with a sense of our nothingness,” we must — let stand.
Because State and Society do not suffice for humane liberalism, it negates both, and at the same time retains them. So at one time the cry is that the task of the day is “not a political, but a social, one,” and then again the “free State” is promised for the future. In truth, “human society” is both — the most general State and the most general society. Only against the limited State is it asserted that it makes too much stir about spiritual private interests (e.g. people’s religious belief), and against limited society that it makes too much of material private interests. Both are to leave private interests to private people, and, as human society, concern themselves solely about general human interests.
The politicians, thinking to abolish personal will, self-will or arbitrariness, did not observe that through property[Eigentum, “owndom”] our self-will[Eigenwille “own-will”] gained a secure place of refuge.
The Socialists, taking away property too, do not notice that this secures itself a continued existence in self-ownership. Is it only money and goods, then, that are a property. or is every opinion something of mine, something of my own?
So every opinion must be abolished or made impersonal. The person is entitled to no opinion, but, as self-will was transferred to the State, property to society, so opinion too must be transferred to something general, “Man,” and thereby become a general human opinion.
If opinion persists, then I have my God (why, God exists only as “my God,” he is an opinion or my “faith”), and consequently my faith, my religion, my thoughts, my ideals. Therefore a general human faith must come into existence, the “fanaticism of liberty.” For this would be a faith that agreed with the “essence of man,” and, because only “man” is reasonable (you and I might be very unreasonable!), a reasonable faith.
As self-will and property become powerless, so must self-ownership or egoism in general.
In this supreme development of “free man” egoism, self-ownership, is combated on principle, and such subordinate ends as the social “welfare” of the Socialists, etc., vanish before the lofty “idea of humanity.” Everything that is not a “general human” entity is something separate, satisfies only some or one; or, if it satisfies all, it does this to them only as individuals, not as men, and is therefore called “egoistic.”
To the Socialists welfare is still the supreme aim, as free rivalry was the approved thing to the political liberals; now welfare is free too, and we are free to achieve welfare, just as he who wanted to enter into rivalry (competition) was free to do so.
But to take part in the rivalry you need only to be commoners; to take part in the welfare, only to be laborers. Neither reaches the point of being synonymous with “man.” It is “truly well” with man only when he is also “intellectually free!” For man is mind: therefore all powers that are alien to him, the mind — all superhuman, heavenly, unhuman powers — must be overthrown and the name “man” must be above every name.
So in this end of the modern age (age of the moderns) there returns again, as the main point, what had been the main point at its beginning: “intellectual liberty.”
To the Communist in particular the humane liberal says: If society prescribes to you your activity, then this is indeed free from the influence of the individual, i.e. the egoist, but it still does not on that account need to be a purely human activity, nor you to be a complete organ of humanity. What kind of activity society demands of you remains accidental, you know; it might give you a place in building a temple or something of that sort, or, even if not that, you might yet on your own impulse be active for something foolish, therefore unhuman; yes, more yet, you really labor only to nourish yourself, in general to live, for dear life’s sake, not for the glorification of humanity. Consequently free activity is not attained till you make yourself free from all stupidities, from everything non-human, i.e., egoistic (pertaining only to the individual, not to the Man in the individual), dissipate all untrue thoughts that obscure man or the idea of humanity: in short, when you are not merely unhampered in your activity, but the substance too of your activity is only what is human, and you live and work only for humanity. But this is not the case so long as the aim of your effort is only your welfare and that of all; what you do for the society of ragamuffins is not yet anything done for “human society.”
Laboring does not alone make you a man, because it is something formal and its object accidental; the question is who you that labor are. As far as laboring goes, you might do it from an egoistic (material) impulse, merely to procure nourishment and the like; it must be a labor furthering humanity, calculated for the good of humanity, serving historical (i.e. human) evolution — in short, a human labor. This implies two things: one, that it be useful to humanity; next, that it be the work of a “man.” The first alone may be the case with every labor, as even the labors of nature, e.g. of animals, are utilized by humanity for the furthering of science, etc.; the second requires that he who labors should know the human object of his labor; and, as he can have this consciousness only when he knows himself as man, the crucial condition is — self-consciousness.
Unquestionably much is already attained when you cease to be a “fragment-laborer,” yet therewith you only get a view of the whole of your labor, and acquire a consciousness about it, which is still far removed from a self-consciousness, a consciousness about your true “self” or “essence,” Man. The laborer has still remaining the desire for a “higher consciousness,” which, because the activity of labor is unable to quiet it, he satisfies in a leisure hour. Hence leisure stands by the side of his labor, and he sees himself compelled to proclaim labor and idling human in one breath, yes, to attribute the true elevation to the idler, the leisure-enjoyer. He labors only to get rid of labor; he wants to make labor free, only that he may be free from labor.
In fine, his work has no satisfying substance, because it is only imposed by society, only a stint, a task, a calling; and, conversely, his society does not satisfy, because it gives only work.
His labor ought to satisfy him as a man; instead of that, it satisfies society; society ought to treat him as a man, and it treats him as — a rag-tag laborer, or a laboring ragamuffin.
Labor and society are of use to him not as he needs them as a man, but only as he needs them as an “egoist.”
Such is the attitude of criticism toward labor. It points to “mind,” wages the war “of mind with the masses,” and pronounces communistic labor unintellectual mass-labor. Averse to labor as they are, the masses love to make labor easy for themselves. In literature, which is today furnished in mass, this aversion to labor begets the universally-known superficiality, which puts from it “the toil of research.”
Therefore humane liberalism says: You want labor; all right, we want it likewise, but we want it in the fullest measure. We want it, not that we may gain spare time, but that we may find all satisfaction in it itself. We want labor because it is our self-development.
But then the labor too must be adapted to that end! Man is honored only by human, self-conscious labor, only by the labor that has for its end no “egoistic” purpose, but Man, and is Man’s self-revelation; so that the saying should be laboro, ergo sum, I labor, therefore I am a man. The humane liberal wants that labor of the mind which works up all material; he wants the mind, that leaves no thing quiet or in its existing condition, that acquiesces in nothing, analyzes everything, criticises anew every result that has been gained. This restless mind is the true laborer, it obliterates prejudices, shatters limits and narrownesses, and raises man above everything that would like to dominate over him, while the Communist labors only for himself, and not even freely, but from necessity, — in short, represents a man condemned to hard labor.
The laborer of such a type is not “egoistic,” because he does not labor for individuals, neither for himself nor for other individuals, not for private men therefore, but for humanity and its progress: he does not ease individual pains, does not care for individual wants, but removes limits within which humanity is pressed, dispels prejudices which dominate an entire time, vanquishes hindrances that obstruct the path of all, clears away errors in which men entangle themselves, discovers truths which are found through him for all and for all time; in short — he lives and labors for humanity.
Now, in the first place, the discoverer of a great truth doubtless knows that it can be useful to the rest of men, and, as a jealous withholding furnishes him no enjoyment, he communicates it; but, even though he has the consciousness that his communication is highly valuable to the rest, yet he has in no wise sought and found his truth for the sake of the rest, but for his own sake, because he himself desired it, because darkness and fancies left him no rest till he had procured for himself light and enlightenment to the best of his powers.
He labors, therefore, for his own sake and for the satisfaction of his want. That along with this he was also useful to others, yes, to posterity, does not take from his labor the egoistic character.
In the next place, if he did labor only on his own account, like the rest, why should his act be human, those of the rest unhuman, i. e., egoistic? Perhaps because this book, painting, symphony, etc., is the labor of his whole being, because he has done his best in it, has spread himself out wholly and is wholly to be known from it, while the work of a handicraftsman mirrors only the handicraftsman, i.e. the skill in handicraft, not “the man?” In his poems we have the whole Schiller; in so many hundred stoves, on the other hand, we have before us only the stove-maker, not “the man.”
But does this mean more than “in the one work you see me as completely as possible, in the other only my skill?” Is it not me again that the act expresses? And is it not more egoistic to offer oneself to the world in a work, to work out and shape oneself, than to remain concealed behind one’s labor? You say, to be sure, that you are revealing Man. But the Man that you reveal is you; you reveal only yourself, yet with this distinction from the handicraftsman — that he does not understand how to compress himself into one labor, but, in order to be known as himself, must be searched out in his other relations of life, and that your want, through whose satisfaction that work came into being, was a — theoretical want.
But you will reply that you reveal quite another man, a worthier, higher, greater, a man that is more man than that other. I will assume that you accomplish all that is possible to man, that you bring to pass what no other succeeds in. Wherein, then, does your greatness consist? Precisely in this, that you are more than other men (the “masses”), more than men ordinarily are, more than “ordinary men”; precisely in your elevation above men. You are distinguished beyond other men not by being man, but because you are a “unique” [“einziger”] man. Doubtless you show what a man can do; but because you, a man, do it, this by no means shows that others, also men, are able to do as much; you have executed it only as a unique man, and are unique therein.
It is not man that makes up your greatness, but you create it, because you are more than man, and mightier than other — men.
It is believed that one cannot be more than man. Rather, one cannot be less!
It is believed further that whatever one attains is good for Man. In so far as I remain at all times a man — or, like Schiller, a Swabian; like Kant, a Prussian; like Gustavus Adolfus, a near-sighted person — I certainly become by my superior qualities a notable man, Swabian, Prussian, or near-sighted person. But the case is not much better with that than with Frederick the Great’s cane, which became famous for Frederick’s sake.
To “Give God the glory” corresponds the modern “Give Man the glory.” But I mean to keep it for myself.
Criticism, issuing the summons to man to be “human,” enunciates the necessary condition of sociability; for only as a man among men is one companionable. Herewith it makes known its social object, the establishment of “human society.”
Among social theories criticism is indisputably the most complete, because it removes and deprives of value everything that separates man from man: all prerogatives, down to the prerogative of faith. In it the love-principle of Christianity, the true social principle, comes to the purest fulfillment, and the last possible experiment is tried to take away exclusiveness and repulsion from men: a fight against egoism in its simplest and therefore hardest form, in the form of singleness,[“Einzigkeit”] exclusiveness, itself.
“How can you live a truly social life so long as even one exclusiveness still exists between you?”
I ask conversely, How can you be truly single so long as even one connection still exists between you? If you are connected, you cannot leave each other; if a “tie” clasps you, you are something only with another, and twelve of you make a dozen, thousands of you a people, millions of you humanity.
“Only when you are human can you keep company with each other as men, just as you can understand each other as patriots only when you are patriotic!”
All right; then I answer, Only when you are single can you have intercourse with each other as what you are.
It is precisely the keenest critic who is hit hardest by the curse of his principle. Putting from him one exclusive thing after another, shaking off churchliness, patriotism, etc., he undoes one tie after another and separates himself from the churchly man, from the patriot, till at last, when all ties are undone, he stands — alone. He, of all men, must exclude all that have anything exclusive or private; and, when you get to the bottom, what can be more exclusive than the exclusive, single person himself!
Or does he perhaps think that the situation would be better if all became “man” and gave up exclusiveness? Why, for the very reason that “all” means “every individual” the most glaring contradiction is still maintained, for the “individual” is exclusiveness itself. If the humane liberal no longer concedes to the individual anything private or exclusive, any private thought, any private folly; if he criticises everything away from him before his face, since his hatred of the private is an absolute and fanatical hatred; if he knows no tolerance toward what is private, because everything private is unhuman — yet he cannot criticize away the private person himself, since the hardness of the individual person resists his criticism, and he must be satisfied with declaring this person a “private person” and really leaving everything private to him again.
What will the society that no longer cares about anything private do? Make the private impossible? No, but “subordinate it to the interests of society, and, e.g., leave it to private will to institute holidays as many as it chooses, if only it does not come in collision with the general interest.” Everything private is left free; i.e., it has no interest for society.
“By their raising barriers against science the church and religiousness have declared that they are what they always were, only that this was hidden under another semblance when they were proclaimed to be the basis and necessary foundation of the State — a matter of purely private concern. Even when they were connected with the State and made it Christian, they were only the proof that the State had not yet developed its general political idea, that it was only instituting private rights — they were only the highest expression for the fact that the State was a private affair and had to do only with private affairs. When the State shall at last have the courage and strength to fulfil its general destiny and to be free; when, therefore, it is also able to give separate interests and private concerns their true position — then religion and the church will be free as they have never been hitherto. As a matter of the most purely private concern, and a satisfaction of purely personal want, they will be left to themselves; and every individual, every congregation and ecclesiastical communion, will be able to care for the blessedness of their souls as they choose and as they think necessary. Every one will care for his soul’s blessedness so far as it is to him a personal want, and will accept and pay as spiritual caretaker the one who seems to him to offer the best guarantee for the satisfaction of his want. Science is at last left entirely out of the game.”
What is to happen, though? Is social life to have an end, and all affability, all fraternization, everything that is created by the love or society principle, to disappear?
As if one will not always seek the other because he needs him; as if one must accommodate himself to the other when he needs him. But the difference is this, that then the individual really unites with the individual, while formerly they were bound together by a tie; son and father are bound together before majority, after it they can come together independently; before it they belonged together as members of the family, after it they unite as egoists; sonship and fatherhood remain, but son and father no longer pin themselves down to these.
The last privilege, in truth, is “Man”; with it all are privileged or invested. For, as Bruno Bauer himself says, “privilege remains even when it is extended to all.”
Thus liberalism runs its course in the following transformations: “First, the individual is not man, therefore his individual personality is of no account: no personal will, no arbitrariness, no orders or mandates!
“Second, the individual has nothing human, therefore no mine and thine, or property, is valid.
“Third, as the individual neither is man nor has anything human, he shall not exist at all: he shall, as an egoist with his egoistic belongings, be annihilated by criticism to make room for Man, ‘Man, just discovered.’”
But, although the individual is not Man, Man is yet present in the individual, and, like every spook and everything divine, has its existence in him. Hence political liberalism awards to the individual everything that pertains to him as “a man by birth,” as a born man, among which there are counted liberty of conscience, the possession of goods, etc. — in short, the “rights of man”; Socialism grants to the individual what pertains to him as an active man, as a “laboring” man; finally. humane liberalism gives the individual what he has as “a man,” i. e., everything that belongs to humanity. Accordingly the single one [“Einzige”] has nothing at all, humanity everything; and the necessity of the “regeneration” preached in Christianity is demanded unambiguously and in the completest measure. Become a new creature, become “man!”
One might even think himself reminded of the close of the Lord’s Prayer. To Man belongs the lordship (the “power” or dynamis); therefore no individual may be lord, but Man is the lord of individuals; — Man’s is the kingdom, i.e. the world, consequently the individual is not to be proprietor, but Man, “all,” command the world as property — to Man is due renown, glorification or “glory” (doxa) from all, for Man or humanity is the individual’s end, for which he labors, thinks, lives, and for whose glorification he must become “man.”
Hitherto men have always striven to find out a fellowship in which their inequalities in other respects should become “nonessential”; they strove for equalization, consequently for equality, and wanted to come all under one hat, which means nothing less than that they were seeking for one lord, one tie, one faith (“‘Tis in one God we all believe”). There cannot be for men anything more fellowly or more equal than Man himself, and in this fellowship the love-craving has found its contentment: it did not rest till it had brought on this last equalization, leveled all inequality, laid man on the breast of man. But under this very fellowship decay and ruin become most glaring. In a more limited fellowship the Frenchman still stood against the German, the Christian against the Mohammedan, etc. Now, on the contrary, man stands against men, or, as men are not man, man stands against the un-man.
The sentence “God has become man” is now followed by the other, “Man has become I.” This is the human 1. But we invert it and say: I was not able to find myself so long as I sought myself as Man. But, now that it appears that Man is aspiring to become I and to gain a corporeity in me, I note that, after all, everything depends on me, and Man is lost without me. But I do not care to give myself up to be the shrine of this most holy thing, and shall not ask henceforward whether I am man or un-man in what I set about; let this spirit keep off my neck!
Humane liberalism goes to work radically. If you want to be or have anything especial even in one point, if you want to retain for yourself even one prerogative above others, to claim even one right that is not a “general right of man,” you are an egoist.
Very good! I do not want to have or be anything especial above others, I do not want to claim any prerogative against them, but — I do not measure myself by others either, and do not want to have any right whatever. I want to be all and have all that I can be and have. Whether others are and have anything similar, what do I care? The equal, the same, they can neither be nor have. I cause no detriment to them, as I cause no detriment to the rock by being “ahead of it” in having motion. If they could have it, they would have it.
To cause other men no detriment is the point of the demand to possess no prerogative; to renounce all “being ahead,” the strictest theory of renunciation. One is not to count himself as “anything especial,” e.g. a Jew or a Christian. Well, I do not count myself as anything especial, but as unique.[“einzig”] Doubtless I have similarity with others; yet that holds good only for comparison or reflection; in fact I am incomparable, unique. My flesh is not their flesh, my mind is not their mind. If you bring them under the generalities “flesh, mind,” those are your thoughts, which have nothing to do with my flesh, my mind, and can least of all issue a “call” to mine.
I do not want to recognize or respect in you any thing, neither the proprietor nor the ragamuffin, nor even the man, but to use you. In salt I find that it makes food palatable to me, therefore I dissolve it; in the fish I recognize an aliment, therefore I eat it; in you I discover the gift of making my life agreeable, therefore I choose you as a companion. Or, in salt I study crystallization, in the fish animality, in you men, etc. But to me you are only what you are for me — to wit, my object; and, because my object, therefore my property.
In humane liberalism ragamuffinhood is completed. We must first come down to the most ragamuffin-like, most poverty-stricken condition if we want to arrive at ownness, for we must strip off everything alien. But nothing seems more ragamuffin-like than naked — Man.
It is more than ragamuffinhood, however, when I throw away Man too because I feel that he too is alien to me and that T can make no pretensions on that basis. This is no longer mere ragamuffinhood: because even the last rag has fallen off, here stands real nakedness, denudation of everything alien. The ragamuffin has stripped off ragamuffinhood itself, and therewith has ceased to be what he was, a ragamuffin.
I am no longer a ragamuffin, but have been one.
* * *
Up to this time the discord could not come to an outbreak, because properly there is current only a contention of modern liberals with antiquated liberals, a contention of those who understand “freedom” in a small measure and those who want the “full measure” of freedom; of the moderate and measureless, therefore. Everything turns on the question, how free must man be? That man must be free, in this all believe; therefore all are liberal too. But the un-man who is somewhere in every individual, how is he blocked? How can it be arranged not to leave the un-man free at the same time with man?
Liberalism as a whole has a deadly enemy, an invincible opposite, as God has the devil: by the side of man stands always the un-man, the individual, the egoist. State, society, humanity, do not master this devil.
Humane liberalism has undertaken the task of showing the other liberals that they still do not want “freedom.”
If the other liberals had before their eyes only isolated egoism and were for the most part blind, radical liberalism has against it egoism “in mass,” throws among the masses all who do not make the cause of freedom their own as it does, so that now man and un-man rigorously separated, stand over against each other as enemies, to wit, the “masses” and “criticism”; namely, “free, human criticism,” as it is called (Judenfrage, p. 114), in opposition to crude, that is, religious criticism.
Criticism expresses the hope that it will be victorious over all the masses and “give them a general certificate of insolvency.” So it means finally to make itself out in the right, and to represent all contention of the “faint-hearted and timorous” as an egoistic stubbornness,[Rechthaberei, literally the character of always insisting on making one’s self out to be in the right] as pettiness, paltriness. All wrangling loses significance, and petty dissensions are given up, because in criticism a common enemy enters the field. “You are egoists altogether, one no better than another!” Now the egoists stand together against criticism.
Really the egoists? No, they fight against criticism precisely because it accuses them of egoism; they do not plead guilty of egoism. Accordingly criticism and the masses stand on the same basis: both fight against egoism, both repudiate it for themselves and charge it to each other.
Criticism and the masses pursue the same goal, freedom from egoism, and wrangle only over which of them approaches nearest to the goal or even attains it.
The Jews, the Christians, the absolutists, the men of darkness and men of light, politicians, Communists — all, in short — hold the reproach of egoism far from them; and, as criticism brings against them this reproach in plain terms and in the most extended sense, all justify themselves against the accusation of egoism, and combat — egoism, the same enemy with whom criticism wages war.
Both, criticism and masses, are enemies of egoists, and both seek to liberate themselves from egoism, as well by clearing or whitewashing themselvesas by ascribing it to the opposite party.
The critic is the true “spokesman of the masses” who gives them the “simple concept and the phrase” of egoism, while the spokesmen to whom the triumph is denied were only bunglers. He is their prince and general in the war against egoism for freedom; what he fights against they fight against. But at the same time he is their enemy too, only not the enemy before them, but the friendly enemy who wields the knout behind the timorous to force courage into them.
Hereby the opposition of criticism and the masses is reduced to the following contradiction: “You are egoists!” “No, we are not!” “I will prove it to you!” “You shall have our justification!”
Let us then take both for what they give themselves out for, non-egoists, and what they take each other for, egoists. They are egoists and are not.
Properly criticism says: You must liberate your ego from all limitedness so entirely that it becomes a human ego. I say: Liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively: not to every one is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Consequently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough if you tear down yours. Who has ever succeeded in tearing down even one limit for all men? Are not countless persons today, as at all times, running about with all the “limitations of humanity?” He who overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair. Nobody does anything else either. To demand of people that they become wholly men is to call on them to cast down all human limits. That is impossible, because Man has no limits. I have some indeed, but then it is only mine that concern me any, and only they can be overcome by me. A human ego I cannot become, just because I am I and not merely man.
Yet let us still see whether criticism has not taught us something that we can lay to heart! I am not free if I am not without interests, not man if I am not disinterested? Well, even if it makes little difference to me to be free or man, yet I do not want to leave unused any occasion to realize myself or make myself count. Criticism offers me this occasion by the teaching that, if anything plants itself firmly in me, and becomes indissoluble, I become its prisoner and servant, i.e. a possessed man. An interest, be it for what it may, has kidnapped a slave in me if I cannot get away from it, and is no longer my property, but I am its. Let us therefore accept criticism’s lesson to let no part of our property become stable, and to feel comfortable only in — dissolving it.
So, if criticism says: You are man only when you are restlessly criticizing and dissolving! then we say: Man I am without that, and I am I likewise; therefore I want only to be careful to secure my property to myself; and, in order to secure it, I continually take it back into myself, annihilate in it every movement toward independence, and swallow it before it can fix itself and become a “fixed idea” or a “mania.”
But I do that not for the sake of my “human calling,” but because I call myself to it. I do not strut about dissolving everything that it is possible for a man to dissolve, and, e.g., while not yet ten years old I do not criticize the nonsense of the Commandments, but I am man all the same, and act humanly in just this — that I still leave them uncriticized. In short, I have no calling, and follow none, not even that to be a man.
Do I now reject what liberalism has won in its various exertions? Far be the day that anything won should be lost! Only, after “Man” has become free through liberalism, I turn my gaze back upon myself and confess to myself openly: What Man seems to have gained, I alone have gained.
Man is free when “Man is to man the supreme being.” So it belongs to the completion of liberalism that every other supreme being be annulled, theology overturned by anthropology, God and his grace laughed down, “atheism” universal.
The egoism of property has given up the last that it had to give when even the “My God” has become senseless; for God exists only when he has at heart the individual’s welfare, as the latter seeks his welfare in him.
Political liberalism abolished the inequality of masters and servants: it made people masterless, anarchic. The master was now removed from the individual, the “egoist,” to become a ghost — the law or the State. Social liberalism abolishes the inequality of possession, of the poor and rich, and makes people possessionless or propertyless. Property is withdrawn from the individual and surrendered to ghostly society. Humane liberalism makes people godless, atheistic. Therefore the individual’s God, “My God,” must be put an end to. Now masterlessness is indeed at the same time freedom from service, possessionlessness at the same time freedom from care, and godlessness at the same time freedom from prejudice: for with the master the servant falls away; with possession, the care about it; with the firmly-rooted God, prejudice. But, since the master rises again as State, the servants appears again as subject; since possession becomes the property of society, care is begotten anew as labor; and, since God as Man becomes a prejudice, there arises a new faith, faith in humanity or liberty. For the individual’s God the God of all, viz., “Man,” is now exalted; “for it is the highest thing in us all to be man.” But, as nobody can become entirely what the idea “man” imports, Man remains to the individual a lofty other world, an unattained supreme being, a God. But at the same time this is the “true God,” because he is fully adequate to us — to wit, our own “self”; we ourselves, but separated from us and lifted above us.
* * *