At the entrance of the modern time stands the “God-man.” At its exit will only the God in the God-man evaporate? And can the God-man really die if only the God in him dies? They did not think of this question, and thought they were through when in our days they brought to a victorious end the work of the Illumination, the vanquishing of God: they did not notice that Man has killed God in order to become now — “sole God on high.” The other world outside us is indeed brushed away, and the great undertaking of the Illuminators completed; but the other world in us has become a new heaven and calls us forth to renewed heaven-storming: God has had to give place, yet not to us, but to — Man. How can you believe that the God-man is dead before the Man in him, besides the God, is dead?
[This is a literal translation of the German word Eigenheit, which, with its primitive eigen, “own,” is used in this chapter in a way that the German dictionaries do not quite recognize. The author’s conception being new, he had to make an innovation in the German language to express it. The translator is under the like necessity. In most passages “self-ownership,” or else “personality,” would translate the word, but there are some where the thought is so eigen, i. e., so peculiar or so thoroughly the author’s own, that no English word I can think of would express it. It will explain itself to one who has read Part First intelligently]
“Does not the spirit thirst for freedom?” — Alas, not my spirit alone, my body too thirsts for it hourly! When before the odorous castle-kitchen my nose tells my palate of the savory dishes that are being prepared therein, it feels a fearful pining at its dry bread; when my eyes tell the hardened back about soft down on which one may lie more delightfully than on its compressed straw, a suppressed rage seizes it; when — but let us not follow the pains further. — And you call that a longing for freedom? What do you want to become free from, then? From your hardtack and your straw bed? Then throw them away! — But that seems not to serve you: you want rather to have the freedom to enjoy delicious foods and downy beds. Are men to give you this “freedom” — are they to permit it to you? You do not hope that from their philanthropy, because you know they all think like you: each is the nearest to himself! How, therefore, do you mean to come to the enjoyment of those foods and beds? Evidently not otherwise than in making them your property!
If you think it over rightly, you do not want the freedom to have all these fine things, for with this freedom you still do not have them; you want really to have them, to call them yours and possess them as your property. Of what use is a freedom to you, indeed, if it brings in nothing? And, if you became free from everything, you would no longer have anything; for freedom is empty of substance. Whoso knows not how to make use of it, for him it has no value, this useless permission; but how I make use of it depends on my personality.[Eigenheit]
I have no objection to freedom, but I wish more than freedom for you: you should not merely be rid of what you do not want; you should not only be a “freeman,” you should be an “owner” too.
Free — from what? Oh! what is there that cannot be shaken off? The yoke of serfdom, of sovereignty, of aristocracy and princes, the dominion of the desires and passions; yes, even the dominion of one’s own will, of self-will, for the completest self-denial is nothing but freedom — freedom, to wit, from self-determination, from one’s own self. And the craving for freedom as for something absolute, worthy of every praise, deprived us of ownness: it created self-denial. However, the freer I become, the more compulsion piles up before my eyes; and the more impotent I feel myself. The unfree son of the wilderness does not yet feel anything of all the limits that crowd a civilized man: he seems to himself freer than this latter. In the measure that I conquer freedom for myself I create for myself new bounds and new tasks: if I have invented railroads, I feel myself weak again because I cannot yet sail through the skies like the bird; and, if I have solved a problem whose obscurity disturbed my mind, at once there await me innumerable others, whose perplexities impede my progress, dim my free gaze, make the limits of my freedom painfully sensible to me. “Now that you have become free from sin, you have become servants of righteousness.” Republicans in their broad freedom, do they not become servants of the law? How true Christian hearts at all times longed to “become free,” how they pined to see themselves delivered from the “bonds of this earth-life”! They looked out toward the land of freedom. (“The Jerusalem that is above is the freewoman; she is the mother of us all.” Gal. 4. 26.)
Being free from anything — means only being clear or rid. “He is free from headache” is equal to “he is rid of it.” “He is free from this prejudice” is equal to “he has never conceived it” or “he has got rid of it.” In “less” we complete the freedom recommended by Christianity, in sinless, godless, moralityless, etc.
Must we then, because freedom betrays itself as a Christian ideal, give it up? No, nothing is to be lost, freedom no more than the rest; but it is to become our own, and in the form of freedom it cannot.
What a difference between freedom and ownness! One can get rid of a great many things, one yet does not get rid of all; one becomes free from much, not from everything. Inwardly one may be free in spite of the condition of slavery, although, too, it is again only from all sorts of things, not from everything; but from the whip, the domineering temper, of the master, one does not as slave become free. “Freedom lives only in the realm of dreams!” Ownness, on the contrary, is my whole being and existence, it is I myself. I am free from what I am rid of, owner of what I have in my power or what I control. My own I am at all times and under all circumstances, if I know how to have myself and do not throw myself away on others. To be free is something that I cannot truly will, because I cannot make it, cannot create it: I can only wish it and — aspire toward it, for it remains an ideal, a spook. The fetters of reality cut the sharpest welts in my flesh every moment. But my own I remain. Given up as serf to a master, I think only of myself and my advantage; his blows strike me indeed, I am not free from them; but I endure them only for my benefit, perhaps in order to deceive him and make him secure by the semblance of patience, or, again, not to draw worse upon myself by contumacy. But, as I keep my eye on myself and my selfishness, I take by the forelock the first good opportunity to trample the slaveholder into the dust. That I then become free from him and his whip is only the consequence of my antecedent egoism. Here one perhaps says I was “free” even in the condition of slavery — to wit, “intrinsically” or “inwardly.” But “intrinsically free” is not “really free,” and “inwardly” is not “outwardly.” I was own, on the other hand, my own, altogether, inwardly and outwardly. Under the dominion of a cruel master my body is not “free” from torments and lashes; but it is my bones that moan under the torture, my fibres that quiver under the blows, and I moan because my body moans. That I sigh and shiver proves that I have not yet lost myself, that I am still my own. My leg is not “free” from the master’s stick, but it is my leg and is inseparable. Let him tear it off me and look and see if he still has my leg! He retains in his hand nothing but the — corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg as a dead dog is still a dog: a dog has a pulsating heart, a so-called dead dog has none and is therefore no longer a dog.
If one opines that a slave may yet be inwardly free, he says in fact only the most indisputable and trivial thing. For who is going to assert that any man is wholly without freedom? If I am an eye-servant, can I therefore not be free from innumerable things, e.g. from faith in Zeus, from the desire for fame, etc.? Why then should not a whipped slave also be able to be inwardly free from un-Christian sentiments, from hatred of his enemy, etc.? He then has “Christian freedom,” is rid of the un-Christian; but has he absolute freedom, freedom from everything, e.g. from the Christian delusion, or from bodily pain?
In the meantime, all this seems to be said more against names than against the thing. But is the name indifferent, and has not a word, a shibboleth, always inspired and — fooled men? Yet between freedom and ownness there lies still a deeper chasm than the mere difference of the words.
All the world desires freedom, all long for its reign to come. Oh, enchantingly beautiful dream of a blooming “reign of freedom,” a “free human race”! — who has not dreamed it? So men shall become free, entirely free, free from all constraint! From all constraint, really from all? Are they never to put constraint on themselves any more? “Oh yes, that, of course; don’t you see, that is no constraint at all?” Well, then at any rate they — are to become free from religious faith, from the strict duties of morality, from the inexorability of the law, from — “What a fearful misunderstanding!” Well, what are they to be free from then, and what not?
The lovely dream is dissipated; awakened, one rubs his half-opened eyes and stares at the prosaic questioner. “What men are to be free from?” — From blind credulity, cries one. What’s that? exclaims another, all faith is blind credulity; they must become free from all faith. No, no, for God’s sake — inveighs the first again — do not cast all faith from you, else the power of brutality breaks in. We must have the republic — a third makes himself heard, — and become — free from all commanding lords. There is no help in that, says a fourth: we only get a new lord then, a “dominant majority”; let us rather free ourselves from this dreadful inequality. — O, hapless equality, already I hear your plebeian roar again! How I had dreamed so beautifully just now of a paradise of freedom, and what — impudence and licentiousness now raises its wild clamor! Thus the first laments, and gets on his feet to grasp the sword against “unmeasured freedom.” Soon we no longer hear anything but the clashing of the swords of the disagreeing dreamers of freedom.
What the craving for freedom has always come to has been the desire for a particular freedom, e.g. freedom of faith; i.e. the believing man wanted to be free and independent; of what? of faith perhaps? no! but of the inquisitors of faith. So now “political or civil” freedom. The citizen wants to become free not from citizenhood, but from bureaucracy, the arbitrariness of princes, etc. Prince Metternich once said he had “found a way that was adapted to guide men in the path of genuine freedom for all the future.” The Count of Provence ran away from France precisely at the time when he was preparing the “reign of freedom,” and said: “My imprisonment had become intolerable to me; I had only one passion, the desire for freedom; I thought only of it.”
The craving for a particular freedom always includes the purpose of a new dominion, as it was with the Revolution, which indeed “could give its defenders the uplifting feeling that they were fighting for freedom,” but in truth only because they were after a particular freedom, therefore a new dominion, the “dominion of the law.”
Freedom you all want, you want freedom. Why then do you haggle over a more or less? Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a piece of freedom is not freedom. You despair of the possibility of obtaining the whole of freedom, freedom from everything — yes, you consider it insanity even to wish this? — Well, then leave off chasing after the phantom, and spend your pains on something better than the — unattainable.
“Ah, but there is nothing better than freedom!”
What have you then when you have freedom, viz., — for I will not speak here of your piecemeal bits of freedom — complete freedom? Then you are rid of everything that embarrasses you, everything, and there is probably nothing that does not once in your life embarrass you and cause you inconvenience. And for whose sake, then, did you want to be rid of it? Doubtless for your sake, because it is in your way! But, if something were not inconvenient to you; if, on the contrary, it were quite to your mind (e.g. the gently but irresistibly commanding look of your loved one) — then you would not want to be rid of it and free from it. Why not? For your sake again! So you take yourselves as measure and judge over all. You gladly let freedom go when unfreedom, the “sweet service of love,” suits you; and you take up your freedom again on occasion when it begins to suit you better — i. e., supposing, which is not the point here, that you are not afraid of such a Repeal of the Union for other (perhaps religious) reasons.
Why will you not take courage now to really make yourselves the central point and the main thing altogether? Why grasp in the air at freedom, your dream? Are you your dream? Do not begin by inquiring of your dreams, your notions, your thoughts, for that is all “hollow theory.” Ask yourselves and ask after yourselves — that is practical, and you know you want very much to be “practical.” But there the one hearkens what his God (of course what he thinks of at the name God is his God) may be going to say to it, and another what his moral feelings, his conscience, his feeling of duty, may determine about it, and a third calculates what folks will think of it — and, when each has thus asked his Lord God (folks are a Lord God just as good as, nay, even more compact than, the other-worldly and imaginary one: vox populi, vox dei), then he accommodates himself to his Lord’s will and listens no more at all for what he himself would like to say and decide.
Therefore turn to yourselves rather than to your gods or idols. Bring out from yourselves what is in you, bring it to the light, bring yourselves to revelation.
How one acts only from himself, and asks after nothing further, the Christians have realized in the notion “God.” He acts “as it pleases him.” And foolish man, who could do just so, is to act as it “pleases God” instead. — If it is said that even God proceeds according to eternal laws, that too fits me, since I too cannot get out of my skin, but have my law in my whole nature, i.e. in myself.
But one needs only admonish you of yourselves to bring you to despair at once. “What am I?” each of you asks himself. An abyss of lawless and unregulated impulses, desires, wishes, passions, a chaos without light or guiding star! How am I to obtain a correct answer, if, without regard to God’s commandments or to the duties which morality prescribes, without regard to the voice of reason, which in the course of history, after bitter experiences, has exalted the best and most reasonable thing into law, I simply appeal to myself? My passion would advise me to do the most senseless thing possible. — Thus each deems himself the — devil; for, if, so far as he is unconcerned about religion, etc., he only deemed himself a beast, he would easily find that the beast, which does follow only its impulse (as it were, its advice), does not advise and impel itself to do the “most senseless” things, but takes very correct steps. But the habit of the religious way of thinking has biased our mind so grievously that we are — terrified at ourselves in our nakedness and naturalness; it has degraded us so that we deem ourselves depraved by nature, born devils. Of course it comes into your head at once that your calling requires you to do the “good,” the moral, the right. Now, if you ask yourselves what is to be done, how can the right voice sound forth from you, the voice which points the way of the good, the right, the true, etc.? What concord have God and Belial?
But what would you think if one answered you by saying: “That one is to listen to God, conscience, duties, laws, and so forth, is flim-flam with which people have stuffed your head and heart and made you crazy”? And if he asked you how it is that you know so surely that the voice of nature is a seducer? And if he even demanded of you to turn the thing about and actually to deem the voice of God and conscience to be the devil’s work? There are such graceless men; how will you settle them? You cannot appeal to your parsons, parents, and good men, for precisely these are designated by them as your seducers, as the true seducers and corrupters of youth, who busily sow broadcast the tares of self-contempt and reverence to God, who fill young hearts with mud and young heads with stupidity.
But now those people go on and ask: For whose sake do you care about God’s and the other commandments? You surely do not suppose that this is done merely out of complaisance toward God? No, you are doing it — for your sake again. — Here too, therefore, you are the main thing, and each must say to himself, I am everything to myself and I do everything on my account. If it ever became clear to you that God, the commandments, etc., only harm you, that they reduce and ruin you, to a certainty you would throw them from you just as the Christians once condemned Apollo or Minerva or heathen morality. They did indeed put in the place of these Christ and afterward Mary, as well as a Christian morality; but they did this for the sake of their souls’ welfare too, therefore out of egoism or ownness.
And it was by this egoism, this ownness, that they got rid of the old world of gods and became free from it. Ownness created a new freedom; for ownness is the creator of everything, as genius (a definite ownness), which is always originality, has for a long time already been looked upon as the creator of new productions that have a place in the history of the world.
If your efforts are ever to make “freedom” the issue, then exhaust freedom’s demands. Who is it that is to become free? You, I, we. Free from what? From everything that is not you, not I, not we. I, therefore, am the kernel that is to be delivered from all wrappings and — freed from all cramping shells. What is left when I have been freed from everything that is not I? Only I; nothing but I. But freedom has nothing to offer to this I himself. As to what is now to happen further after I have become free, freedom is silent — as our governments, when the prisoner’s time is up, merely let him go, thrusting him out into abandonment.
Now why, if freedom is striven after for love of the I after all — why not choose the I himself as beginning, middle, and end? Am I not worth more than freedom? Is it not I that make myself free, am not I the first? Even unfree, even laid in a thousand fetters, I yet am; and I am not, like freedom, extant only in the future and in hopes, but even as the most abject of slaves I am — present.
Think that over well, and decide whether you will place on your banner the dream of “freedom” or the resolution of “egoism,” of “ownness.” “Freedom” awakens your rage against everything that is not you; “egoism” calls you to joy over yourselves, to self-enjoyment; “freedom” is and remains a longing , a romantic plaint, a Christian hope for unearthliness and futurity; “ownness” is a reality, which of itself removes just so much unfreedom as by barring your own way hinders you. What does not disturb you, you will not want to renounce; and, if it begins to disturb you, why, you know that “you must obey yourselves rather than men!”
Freedom teaches only: Get yourselves rid, relieve yourselves, of everything burdensome; it does not teach you who you yourselves are. Rid, rid! So call, get rid even of yourselves, “deny yourselves.” But ownness calls you back to yourselves, it says “Come to yourself!” Under the aegis of freedom you get rid of many kinds of things, but something new pinches you again: “you are rid of the Evil One; evil is left.” As own you are really rid of everything, and what clings to you you have accepted; it is your choice and your pleasure. The own man is the free-born, the man free to begin with; the free man, on the contrary, is only the eleutheromaniac, the dreamer and enthusiast.
The former is originally free, because he recognizes nothing but himself; he does not need to free himself first, because at the start he rejects everything outside himself, because he prizes nothing more than himself, rates nothing higher, because, in short, he starts from himself and “comes to himself.” Constrained by childish respect, he is nevertheless already working at “freeing” himself from this constraint. Ownness works in the little egoist, and procures him the desired — freedom.
Thousands of years of civilization have obscured to you what you are, have made you believe you are not egoists but are called to be idealists (“good men”). Shake that off! Do not seek for freedom, which does precisely deprive you of yourselves, in “self-denial”; but seek for yourselves, become egoists, become each of you an almighty ego. Or, more clearly: Just recognize yourselves again, just recognize what you really are, and let go your hypocritical endeavors, your foolish mania to be something else than you are. Hypocritical I call them because you have yet remained egoists all these thousands of years, but sleeping, self-deceiving, crazy egoists, you Heautontimorumenoses, you self- tormentors. Never yet has a religion been able to dispense with “promises,” whether they referred us to the other world or to this (“long life,” etc.); for man is mercenary and does nothing “gratis.” But how about that “doing the good for the good’s sake” without prospect of reward? As if here too the pay was not contained in the satisfaction that it is to afford. Even religion, therefore, is founded on our egoism and — exploits it; calculated for our desires, it stifles many others for the sake of one. This then gives the phenomenon of cheated egoism, where I satisfy, not myself, but one of my desires, e.g. the impulse toward blessedness. Religion promises me the — “supreme good”; to gain this I no longer regard any other of my desires, and do not slake them. — All your doings are unconfessed, secret, covert, and concealed egoism. But because they are egoism that you are unwilling to confess to yourselves, that you keep secret from yourselves, hence not manifest and public egoism, consequently unconscious egoism — therefore they are not egoism, but thraldom, service, self-renunciation; you are egoists, and you are not, since you renounce egoism. Where you seem most to be such, you have drawn upon the word “egoist” — loathing and contempt.
I secure my freedom with regard to the world in the degree that I make the world my own, i.e. “gain it and take possession of it” for myself, by whatever might, by that of persuasion, of petition, of categorical demand, yes, even by hypocrisy, cheating, etc.; for the means that I use for it are determined by what I am. If I am weak, I have only weak means, like the aforesaid, which yet are good enough for a considerable part of the world. Besides, cheating, hypocrisy, lying, look worse than they are. Who has not cheated the police, the law? Who has not quickly taken on an air of honourable loyalty before the sheriff’s officer who meets him, in order to conceal an illegality that may have been committed, etc.? He who has not done it has simply let violence be done to him; he was a weakling from — conscience. I know that my freedom is diminished even by my not being able to carry out my will on another object, be this other something without will, like a rock, or something with will, like a government, an individual; I deny my ownness when — in presence of another — I give myself up, i.e. give way, desist, submit; therefore by loyalty, submission. For it is one thing when I give up my previous course because it does not lead to the goal, and therefore turn out of a wrong road; it is another when I yield myself a prisoner. I get around a rock that stands in my way, till I have powder enough to blast it; I get around the laws of a people, till I have gathered strength to overthrow them. Because I cannot grasp the moon, is it therefore to be “sacred” to me, an Astarte? If I only could grasp you, I surely would, and, if I only find a means to get up to you, you shall not frighten me! You inapprehensible one, you shall remain inapprehensible to me only till I have acquired the might for apprehension and call you my own; I do not give myself up before you, but only bide my time. Even if for the present I put up with my inability to touch you, I yet remember it against you.
Vigorous men have always done so. When the “loyal” had exalted an unsubdued power to be their master and had adored it, when they had demanded adoration from all, then there came some such son of nature who would not loyally submit, and drove the adored power from its inaccessible Olympus. He cried his “Stand still” to the rolling sun, and made the earth go round; the loyal had to make the best of it; he laid his axe to the sacred oaks, and the “loyal” were astonished that no heavenly fire consumed him; he threw the pope off Peter’s chair, and the “loyal” had no way to hinder it; he is tearing down the divine-right business, and the “loyal” croak in vain, and at last are silent.
My freedom becomes complete only when it is my — might; but by this I cease to be a merely free man, and become an own man. Why is the freedom of the peoples a “hollow word”? Because the peoples have no might! With a breath of the living ego I blow peoples over, be it the breath of a Nero, a Chinese emperor, or a poor writer. Why is it that the G…  legislatures pine in vain for freedom, and are lectured for it by the cabinet ministers? Because they are not of the “mighty”! Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for “one goes further with a handful of might than with a bagful of right.” You long for freedom? You fools! If you took might, freedom would come of itself. See, he who has might “stands above the law.” How does this prospect taste to you, you “law-abiding” people? But you have no taste!
The cry for “freedom” rings loudly all around. But is it felt and known what a donated or chartered freedom must mean? It is not recognized in the full amplitude of the word that all freedom is essentially — self-liberation — i.e. that I can have only so much freedom as I procure for myself by my ownness. Of what use is it to sheep that no one abridges their freedom of speech? They stick to bleating. Give one who is inwardly a Mohammedan, a Jew, or a Christian, permission to speak what he likes: he will yet utter only narrow-minded stuff. If, on the contrary, certain others rob you of the freedom of speaking and hearing, they know quite rightly wherein lies their temporary advantage, as you would perhaps be able to say and hear something whereby those “certain” persons would lose their credit.
If they nevertheless give you freedom, they are simply knaves who give more than they have. For then they give you nothing of their own, but stolen wares: they give you your own freedom, the freedom that you must take for yourselves; and they give it to you only that you may not take it and call the thieves and cheats to an account to boot. In their slyness they know well that given (chartered) freedom is no freedom, since only the freedom one takes for himself, therefore the egoist’s freedom, rides with full sails. Donated freedom strikes its sails as soon as there comes a storm — or calm; it requires always a — gentle and moderate breeze.
Here lies the difference between self-liberation and emancipation (manumission, setting free). Those who today “stand in the opposition” are thirsting and screaming to be “set free.” The princes are to “declare their peoples of age,” i. e., emancipate them! Behave as if you were of age, and you are so without any declaration of majority; if you do not behave accordingly, you are not worthy of it, and would never be of age even by a declaration of majority. When the Greeks were of age, they drove out their tyrants, and, when the son is of age, he makes himself independent of his father. If the Greeks had waited till their tyrants graciously allowed them their majority, they might have waited long. A sensible father throws out a son who will not come of age, and keeps the house to himself; it serves the noodle right.
The man who is set free is nothing but a freed man, a libertinus, a dog dragging a piece of chain with him: he is an unfree man in the garment of freedom, like the ass in the lion’s skin. Emancipated Jews are nothing bettered in themselves, but only relieved as Jews, although he who relieves their condition is certainly more than a churchly Christian, as the latter cannot do this without inconsistency. But, emancipated or not emancipated, Jew remains Jew; he who is not self-freed is merely an — emancipated man. The Protestant State can certainly set free (emancipate) the Catholics; but, because they do not make themselves free, they remain simply — Catholics.
Selfishness and unselfishness have already been spoken of. The friends of freedom are exasperated against selfishness because in their religious striving after freedom they cannot — free themselves from that sublime thing, “self-renunciation.” The liberal’s anger is directed against egoism, for the egoist, you know, never takes trouble about a thing for the sake of the thing, but for his sake: the thing must serve him. It is egoistic to ascribe to no thing a value of its own, an “absolute” value, but to seek its value in me. One often hears that pot-boiling study which is so common counted among the most repulsive traits of egoistic behavior, because it manifests the most shameful desecration of science; but what is science for but to be consumed? If one does not know how to use it for anything better than to keep the pot boiling, then his egoism is a petty one indeed, because this egoist’s power is a limited power; but the egoistic element in it, and the desecration of science, only a possessed man can blame.
Because Christianity, incapable of letting the individual count as an ego,[“Einzige”] thought of him only as a dependent, and was properly nothing but a social theory — a doctrine of living together, and that of man with God as well as of man with man — therefore in it everything “own” must fall into most woeful disrepute: selfishness, self-will, ownness, self-love, etc. The Christian way of looking at things has on all sides gradually re-stamped honourable words into dishonorable; why should they not be brought into honor again? So Schimpf (contumely) is in its old sense equivalent to jest, but for Christian seriousness pastime became a dishonor,[I take Entbehrung, “destitution,” to be a misprint for Entehrung] for that seriousness cannot take a joke; frech (impudent) formerly meant only bold, brave; Frevel (wanton outrage) was only daring. It is well known how askance the word “reason” was looked at for a long time.
Our language has settled itself pretty well to the Christian standpoint, and the general consciousness is still too Christian not to shrink in terror from everything un-Christian as from something incomplete or evil. Therefore “selfishness” is in a bad way too.
Selfishness,[Eigennutz, literally “own-use”] in the Christian sense, means something like this: I look only to see whether anything is of use to me as a sensual man. But is sensuality then the whole of my ownness? Am I in my own senses when I am given up to sensuality? Do I follow myself, my own determination, when I follow that? I am my own only when I am master of myself, instead of being mastered either by sensuality or by anything else (God, man, authority, law, State, Church, etc.); what is of use to me, this self-owned or self-appertaining one, my selfishness pursues.
Besides, one sees himself every moment compelled to believe in that constantly-blasphemed selfishness as an all-controlling power. In the session of February 10, 1844, Welcker argues a motion on the dependence of the judges, and sets forth in a detailed speech that removable, dismissable, transferable, and pensionable judges — in short, such members of a court of justice as can by mere administrative process be damaged and endangered — are wholly without reliability, yes, lose all respect and all confidence among the people. The whole bench, Welcker cries, is demoralized by this dependence! In blunt words this means nothing else than that the judges find it more to their advantage to give judgment as the ministers would have them than to give it as the law would have them. How is that to be helped? Perhaps by bringing home to the judges’ hearts the ignominiousness of their venality, and then cherishing the confidence that they will repent and henceforth prize justice more highly than their selfishness? No, the people does not soar to this romantic confidence, for it feels that selfishness is mightier than any other motive. Therefore the same persons who have been judges hitherto may remain so, however thoroughly one has convinced himself that they behaved as egoists; only they must not any longer find their selfishness favored by the venality of justice, but must stand so independent of the government that by a judgment in conformity with the facts they do not throw into the shade their own cause, their “well-understood interest,” but rather secure a comfortable combination of a good salary with respect among the citizens.
So Welcker and the commoners of Baden consider themselves secured only when they can count on selfishness. What is one to think, then, of the countless phrases of unselfishness with which their mouths overflow at other times?
To a cause which I am pushing selfishly I have another relation than to one which I am serving unselfishly. The following criterion might be cited for it; against the one I can sin or commit a sin, the other I can only trifle away, push from me, deprive myself of — i.e. commit an imprudence. Free trade is looked at in both ways, being regarded partly as a freedom which may under certain circumstances be granted or withdrawn, partly as one which is to be held sacred under all circumstances.
If I am not concerned about a thing in and for itself, and do not desire it for its own sake, then I desire it solely as a means to an end, for its usefulness; for the sake of another end, e.g., oysters for a pleasant flavor. Now will not every thing whose final end he himself is, serve the egoist as means? And is he to protect a thing that serves him for nothing — e.g., the proletarian to protect the State?
Ownness includes in itself everything own, and brings to honor again what Christian language dishonored. But ownness has not any alien standard either, as it is not in any sense an idea like freedom, morality, humanity, etc.: it is only a description of the — owner.
I — do I come to myself and mine through liberalism? Whom does the liberal look upon as his equal? Man! Be only man — and that you are anyway — and the liberal calls you his brother. He asks very little about your private opinions and private follies, if only he can espy “Man” in you.
But, as he takes little heed of what you are privatim — nay, in a strict following out of his principle sets no value at all on it — he sees in you only what you are generatim. In other words, he sees in you, not you, but the species; not Tom or Jim, but Man; not the real or unique one,[Einzigen] but your essence or your concept; not the bodily man, but the spirit.
As Tom you would not be his equal, because he is Jim, therefore not Tom; as man you are the same that he is. And, since as Tom you virtually do not exist at all for him (so far, to wit, as he is a liberal and not unconsciously an egoist), he has really made “brother-love” very easy for himself: he loves in you not Tom, of whom he knows nothing and wants to know nothing, but Man.
To see in you and me nothing further than “men,” that is running the Christian way of looking at things, according to which one is for the other nothing but a concept (e.g. a man called to salvation, etc.), into the ground.
Christianity properly so called gathers us under a less utterly general concept: there we are “sons of God” and “led by the Spirit of God.” Yet not all can boast of being God’s sons, but “the same Spirit which witnesses to our spirit that we are sons of God reveals also who are the sons of the devil.” Consequently, to be a son of God one must not be a son of the devil; the sonship of God excluded certain men. To be sons of men — i. e., men — on the contrary, we need nothing but to belong to the human species, need only to be specimens of the same species. What I am as this I is no concern of yours as a good liberal, but is my private affair alone; enough that we are both sons of one and the same mother, to wit, the human species: as “a son of man” I am your equal.
What am I now to you? Perhaps this bodily I as I walk and stand? Anything but that. This bodily I, with its thoughts, decisions, and passions, is in your eyes a “private affair” which is no concern of yours: it is an “affair by itself.” As an “affair for you” there exists only my concept, my generic concept, only the Man, who, as he is called Tom, could just as well be Joe or Dick. You see in me not me, the bodily man, but an unreal thing, the spook, i.e. a Man.
In the course of the Christian centuries we declared the most various persons to be “our equals,” but each time in the measure of that spirit which we expected from them — e.g. each one in whom the spirit of the need of redemption may be assumed, then later each one who has the spirit of integrity, finally each one who shows a human spirit and a human face. Thus the fundamental principle of “equality” varied.
Equality being now conceived as equality of the human spirit, there has certainly been discovered an equality that includes all men; for who could deny that we men have a human spirit, i. e., no other than a human!
But are we on that account further on now than in the beginning of Christianity? Then we were to have a divine spirit, now a human; but, if the divine did not exhaust us, how should the human wholly express what we are? Feuerbach e.g. thinks, that if he humanizes the divine, he has found the truth. No, if God has given us pain, “Man” is capable of pinching us still more torturingly. The long and the short of it is this: that we are men is the slightest thing about us, and has significance only in so far as it is one of our qualities,[Eigenschaften] i. e. our property.[Eigentum] I am indeed among other things a man, as I am e.g. a living being, therefore an animal, or a European, a Berliner, etc.; but he who chose to have regard for me only as a man, or as a Berliner, would pay me a regard that would be very unimportant to me. And wherefore? Because he would have regard only for one of my qualities, not for me.
It is just so with the spirit too. A Christian spirit, an upright spirit, etc. may well be my acquired quality, my property, but I am not this spirit: it is mine, not I its.
Hence we have in liberalism only the continuation of the old Christian depreciation of the I, the bodily Tom. Instead of taking me as I am, one looks solely at my property, my qualities, and enters into marriage bonds with me only for the sake of my — possessions; one marries, as it were, what I have, not what I am. The Christian takes hold of my spirit, the liberal of my humanity.
But, if the spirit, which is not regarded as the property of the bodily ego but as the proper ego itself, is a ghost, then the Man too, who is not recognized as my quality but as the proper I, is nothing but a spook, a thought, a concept.
Therefore the liberal too revolves in the same circle as the Christian. Because the spirit of mankind, i.e. Man, dwells in you, you are a man, as when the spirit of Christ dwells in you are a Christian; but, because it dwells in you only as a second ego, even though it be as your proper or “better” ego, it remains otherworldly to you, and you have to strive to become wholly man. A striving just as fruitless as the Christian’s to become wholly a blessed spirit!
One can now, after liberalism has proclaimed Man, declare openly that herewith was only completed the consistent carrying out of Christianity, and that in truth Christianity set itself no other task from the start than to realize “man,” the “true man.” Hence, then, the illusion that Christianity ascribes an infinite value to the ego (as e.g. in the doctrine of immortality, in the cure of souls, etc.) comes to light. No, it assigns this value to Man alone. Only Manis immortal, and only because I am Man am I too immortal. In fact, Christianity had to teach that no one is lost, just as liberalism too puts all on an equality as men; but that eternity, like this equality, applied only to the Man in me, not to me. Only as the bearer and harborer of Man do I not die, as notoriously “the king never dies.” Louis dies, but the king remains; I die, but my spirit, Man, remains. To identify me now entirely with Man the demand has been invented, and stated, that I must become a “real generic being.”
The HUMAN religion is only the last metamorphosis of the Christian religion. For liberalism is a religion because it separates my essence from me and sets it above me, because it exalts “Man” to the same extent as any other religion does its God or idol, because it makes what is mine into something otherworldly, because in general it makes out of what is mine, out of my qualities and my property, something alien — to wit, an “essence”; in short, because it sets me beneath Man, and thereby creates for me a “vocation.” But liberalism declares itself a religion in form too when it demands for this supreme being, Man, a zeal of faith, “a faith that some day will at last prove its fiery zeal too, a zeal that will be invincible.” But, as liberalism is a human religion, its professor takes a tolerant attitude toward the professor of any other (Catholic, Jewish, etc.), as Frederick the Great did toward every one who performed his duties as a subject, whatever fashion of becoming blest he might be inclined toward. This religion is now to be raised to the rank of the generally customary one, and separated from the others as mere “private follies,” toward which, besides, one takes a highly liberal attitude on account of their unessentialness.
One may call it the State-religion, the religion of the “free State,” not in the sense hitherto current that it is the one favored or privileged by the State, but as that religion which the “free State” not only has the right, but is compelled, to demand from each of those who belong to it, let him be privatim a Jew, a Christian, or anything else. For it does the same service to the State as filial piety to the family. If the family is to be recognized and maintained, in its existing condition, by each one of those who belong to it, then to him the tie of blood must be sacred, and his feeling for it must be that of piety, of respect for the ties of blood, by which every blood-relation becomes to him a consecrated person. So also to every member of the State-community this community must be sacred, and the concept which is the highest to the State must likewise be the highest to him.
But what concept is the highest to the State? Doubtless that of being a really human society, a society in which every one who is really a man, i. e., not an un-man, can obtain admission as a member. Let a State’s tolerance go ever so far, toward an un-man and toward what is inhuman it ceases. And yet this “un-man” is a man, yet the “inhuman” itself is something human, yes, possible only to a man, not to any beast; it is, in fact, something “possible to man.” But, although every un-man is a man, yet the State excludes him; i.e. it locks him up, or transforms him from a fellow of the State into a fellow of the prison (fellow of the lunatic asylum or hospital, according to Communism).
To say in blunt words what an un-man is not particularly hard: it is a man who does not correspond to the concept man, as the inhuman is something human which is not conformed to the concept of the human. Logic calls this a “self-contradictory judgment.” Would it be permissible for one to pronounce this judgment, that one can be a man without being a man, if he did not admit the hypothesis that the concept of man can be separated from the existence, the essence from the appearance? They say, he appears indeed as a man, but is not a man.
Men have passed this “self-contradictory judgment” through a long line of centuries! Nay, what is still more, in this long time there were only — un-men. What individual can have corresponded to his concept? Christianity knows only one Man, and this one — Christ — is at once an un-man again in the reverse sense, to wit, a superhuman man, a “God.” Only the — un-man is a real man.
Men that are not men, what should they be but ghosts? Every real man, because he does not correspond to the concept “man,” or because he is not a “generic man,” is a spook. But do I still remain an un-man even if I bring Man (who towered above me and remained otherworldly to me only as my ideal, my task, my essence or concept) down to be my quality, my own and inherent in me; so that Man is nothing else than my humanity, my human existence, and everything that I do is human precisely because I do it, but not because it corresponds to the concept “man”? I am really Man and the un-man in one; for I am a man and at the same time more than a man; i.e. I am the ego of this my mere quality.
It had to come to this at last, that it was no longer merely demanded of us to be Christians, but to become men; for, though we could never really become even Christians, but always remained “poor sinners” (for the Christian was an unattainable ideal too), yet in this the contradictoriness did not come before our consciousness so, and the illusion was easier than now when of us, who are men act humanly (yes, cannot do otherwise than be such and act so), the demand is made that we are to be men, “real men.”
Our States of today, because they still have all sorts of things sticking to them, left from their churchly mother, do indeed load those who belong to them with various obligations (e.g. churchly religiousness) which properly do not a bit concern them, the States; yet on the whole they do not deny their significance, since they want to be looked upon as human societies, in which man as man can be a member, even if he is less privileged than other members; most of them admit adherence of every religious sect, and receive people without distinction of race or nation: Jews, Turks, Moors, etc., can become French citizens. In the act of reception, therefore, the State looks only to see whether one is a man. The Church, as a society of believers, could not receive every man into her bosom; the State, as a society of men, can. But, when the State has carried its principle clear through, of presupposing in its constituents nothing but that they are men (even the North Americans still presuppose in theirs that they have religion, at least the religion of integrity, of responsibility), then it has dug its grave. While it will fancy that those whom it possesses are without exception men, these have meanwhile become without exception egoists, each of whom utilizes it according to his egoistic powers and ends. Against the egoists “human society” is wrecked; for they no longer have to do with each other as men, but appear egoistically as an I against a You altogether different from me and in opposition to me.
If the State must count on our humanity, it is the same if one says it must count on our morality. Seeing Man in each other, and acting as men toward each other, is called moral behavior. This is every whit the “spiritual love” of Christianity. For, if I see Man in you, as in myself I see Man and nothing but Man, then I care for you as I would care for myself; for we represent, you see, nothing but the mathematical proposition: A = C and B = C, consequently A = B — i.e. I nothing but man and you nothing but man, consequently I and you the same. Morality is incompatible with egoism, because the former does not allow validity to me, but only to the Man in me. But, if the State is a society of men, not a union of egos each of whom has only himself before his eyes, then it cannot last without morality, and must insist on morality.
Therefore we two, the State and I, are enemies. I, the egoist, have not at heart the welfare of this “human society,” I sacrifice nothing to it, I only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform it rather into my property and my creature; i. e., I annihilate it, and form in its place the Union of Egoists.
So the State betrays its enmity to me by demanding that I be a man, which presupposes that I may also not be a man, but rank for it as an “un- man”; it imposes being a man upon me as a duty. Further, it desires me to do nothing along with which it cannot last; so its permanence is to be sacred for me. Then I am not to be an egoist, but a “respectable, upright,” i.e. moral, man. Enough: before it and its permanence I am to be impotent and respectful.
This State, not a present one indeed, but still in need of being first created, is the ideal of advancing liberalism. There is to come into existence a true “society of men,” in which every “man” finds room. Liberalism means to realize “Man,” i.e. create a world for him; and this should be the human world or the general (Communistic) society of men. It was said, “The Church could regard only the spirit, the State is to regard the whole man.” But is not “Man” “spirit”? The kernel of the State is simply “Man,” this unreality, and it itself is only a “society of men.” The world which the believer (believing spirit) creates is called Church, the world which the man (human or humane spirit) creates is called State. But that is not my world. I never execute anything human in the abstract, but always my own things; my human act is diverse from every other human act, and only by this diversity is it a real act belonging to me. The human in it is an abstraction, and, as such, spirit, i.e. abstracted essence.
Bruno Bauer states (e.g. Judenfrage, p. 84) that the truth of criticism is the final truth, and in fact the truth sought for by Christianity itself — to wit, “Man.” He says, “The history of the Christian world is the history of the supreme fight for truth, for in it — and in it only! — the thing at issue is the discovery of the final or the primal truth — man and freedom.”
All right, let us accept this gain, and let us take man as the ultimately found result of Christian history and of the religious or ideal efforts of man in general. Now, who is Man? I am! Man, the end and outcome of Christianity, is, as I, the beginning and raw material of the new history, a history of enjoyment after the history of sacrifices, a history not of man or humanity, but of — me. Man ranks as the general. Now then, I and the egoistic are the really general, since every one is an egoist and of paramount importance to himself. The Jewish is not the purely egoistic, because the Jew still devotes himself to Jehovah; the Christian is not, because the Christian lives on the grace of God and subjects himself to him. As Jew and as Christian alike a man satisfies only certain of his wants, only a certain need, not himself: a half-egoism, because the egoism of a half-man, who is half he, half Jew, or half his own proprietor, half a slave. Therefore, too, Jew and Christian always half-way exclude each other; i.e. as men they recognize each other, as slaves they exclude each other, because they are servants of two different masters. If they could be complete egoists, they would exclude each other wholly and hold together so much the more firmly. Their ignominy is not that they exclude each other, but that this is done only half-way. Bruno Bauer, on the contrary, thinks Jews and Christians cannot regard and treat each other as “men” till they give up the separate essence which parts them and obligates them to eternal separation, recognize the general essence of “Man,” and regard this as their “true essence.”
According to his representation the defect of the Jews and the Christians alike lies in their wanting to be and have something “particular” instead of only being men and endeavoring after what is human — to wit, the “general rights of man.” He thinks their fundamental error consists in the belief that they are “privileged,” possess “prerogatives”; in general, in the belief in prerogative.[Vorrecht, literally “precedent right”] In opposition to this he holds up to them the general rights of man. The rights of man! —
Man is man in general, and in so far every one who is a man. Now every one is to have the eternal rights of man, and, according to the opinion of Communism, enjoy them in the complete “democracy,” or, as it ought more correctly to be called — anthropocracy. But it is I alone who have everything that I — procure for myself; as man I have nothing. People would like to give every man an affluence of all good, merely because he has the title “man.” But I put the accent on me, not on my being man.
Man is something only as my quality[Eigenschaft] (property[Eigentum]), like masculinity or femininity. The ancients found the ideal in one’s being male in the full sense; their virtue is virtus and arete — i.e. manliness. What is one to think of a woman who should want only to be perfectly “woman?” That is not given to all, and many a one would therein be fixing for herself an unattainable goal. Feminine, on the other hand, she is anyhow, by nature; femininity is her quality, and she does not need “true femininity.” I am a man just as the earth is a star. As ridiculous as it would be to set the earth the task of being a “thorough star,” so ridiculous it is to burden me with the call to be a “thorough man.”
When Fichte says, “The ego is all,” this seems to harmonize perfectly with my thesis. But it is not that the ego is all, but the ego destroys all, and only the self-dissolving ego, the never-being ego, the — finite ego is really I. Fichte speaks of the “absolute” ego, but I speak of me, the transitory ego.
How natural is the supposition that man and ego mean the same! And yet one sees, e.g., by Feuerbach, that the expression “man” is to designate the absolute ego, the species, not the transitory, individual ego. Egoism and humanity (humaneness) ought to mean the same, but according to Feuerbach the individual can “only lift himself above the limits of his individuality, but not above the laws, the positive ordinances,of his species.” But the species is nothing, and, if the individual lifts himself above the limits of his individuality, this is rather his very self as an individual; he exists only in raising himself, he exists only in not remaining what he is; otherwise he would be done, dead. Man with the great M is only an ideal, the species only something thought of. To be a man is not to realize the ideal of Man, but to present oneself, the individual. It is not how I realize the generally humanthat needs to be my task, but how I satisfy myself. I am my species, am without norm, without law, without model, etc. It is possible that I can make very little out of myself; but this little is everything, and is better than what I allow to be made out of me by the might of others, by the training of custom, religion, the laws, the State. Better — if the talk is to be of better at all — better an unmannerly child than an old head on young shoulders, better a mulish man than a man compliant in everything. The unmannerly and mulish fellow is still on the way to form himself according to his own will; the prematurely knowing and compliant one is determined by the “species,” the general demands — the species is law to him. He is determined[bestimmt] by it; for what else is the species to him but his “destiny,”[Bestimmung] his “calling”? Whether I look to “humanity,” the species, in order to strive toward this ideal, or to God and Christ with like endeavor, where is the essential dissimilarity? At most the former is more washed-out than the latter. As the individual is the whole of nature, so he is the whole of the species too.
Everything that I do, think — in short, my expression or manifestation — is indeed conditioned by what I am. The Jew e.g. can will only thus or thus, can “present himself” only thus; the Christian can present and manifest himself only Christianly, etc. If it were possible that you could be a Jew or Christian, you would indeed bring out only what was Jewish or Christian; but it is not possible; in the most rigorous conduct you yet remain an egoist, a sinner against that concept — i.e., you are not the precise equivalent of Jew. Now, because the egoistic always keeps peeping through, people have inquired for a more perfect concept which should really wholly express what you are, and which, because it is your true nature, should contain all the laws of your activity. The most perfect thing of the kind has been attained in “Man.” As a Jew you are too little, and the Jewish is not your task; to be a Greek, a German, does not suffice. But be a — man, then you have everything; look upon the human as your calling.
Now I know what is expected of me, and the new catechism can be written. The subject is again subjected to the predicate, the individual to something general; the dominion is again secured to an idea, and the foundation laid for a new religion. This is a step forward in the domain of religion, and in particular of Christianity; not a step out beyond it.
To step out beyond it leads into the unspeakable. For me paltry language has no word, and “the Word,” the Logos, is to me a “mere word.”
My essence is sought for. If not the Jew, the German, etc., then at any rate it is — the man. “Man is my essence.”
I am repulsive or repugnant to myself; I have a horror and loathing of myself, I am a horror to myself, or, I am never enough for myself and never do enough to satisfy myself. From such feelings springs self-dissolution or self-criticism. Religiousness begins with self-renunciation, ends with completed criticism.
I am possessed, and want to get rid of the “evil spirit.” How do I set about it? I fearlessly commit the sin that seems to the Christian the most dire, the sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. “He who blasphemes the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is liable to the eternal judgment!” I want no forgiveness, and am not afraid of the judgment.
Man is the last evil spirit or spook, the most deceptive or most intimate, the craftiest liar with honest mien, the father of lies.
The egoist, turning against the demands and concepts of the present, executes pitilessly the most measureless — desecration. Nothing is holy to him!
It would be foolish to assert that there is no power above mine. Only the attitude that I take toward it will be quite another than that of the religious age: I shall be the enemy of — every higher power, while religion teaches us to make it our friend and be humble toward it.
The desecrator puts forth his strength against every fear of God, for fear of God would determine him in everything that he left standing as sacred. Whether it is the God or the Man that exercises the hallowing power in the God-man — whether, therefore, anything is held sacred for God’s sake or for Man’s (Humanity’s) — this does not change the fear of God, since Man is revered as “supreme essence,” as much as on the specifically religious standpoint God as “supreme essence” calls for our fear and reverence; both overawe us.
The fear of God in the proper sense was shaken long ago, and a more or less conscious “atheism,” externally recognizable by a wide-spread “unchurchliness,” has involuntarily become the mode. But what was taken from God has been superadded to Man, and the power of humanity grew greater in just the degree that of piety lost weight: “Man” is the God of today, and fear of Man has taken the place of the old fear of God.
But, because Man represents only another Supreme Being, nothing in fact has taken place but a metamorphosis in the Supreme Being, and the fear of Man is merely an altered form of the fear of God.
Our atheists are pious people.
If in the so-called feudal times we held everything as a fief from God, in the liberal period the same feudal relation exists with Man. God was the Lord, now Man is the Lord; God was the Mediator, now Man is; God was the Spirit, now Man is. In this three fold regard the feudal relation has experienced a transformation. For now, firstly, we hold as a fief from all-powerful Man our power, which, because it comes from a higher, is not called power or might, but “right” — the “rights of man”; we further hold as a fief from him our position in the world, for he, the mediator, mediates our intercourse with others, which therefore may not be otherwise than “human”; finally, we hold as a fief from him ourselves — to wit, our own value, or all that we are worth — inasmuch as we are worth nothing when he does not dwell in us, and when or where we are not “human.” The power is Man’s, the world is Man’s, I am Man’s.
But am I not still unrestrained from declaring myself the entitler, the mediator, and the own self? Then it runs thus:
My power is my property.
My power gives me property.
My power am I myself, and through it am I my property.
Right is the spirit of society. If society has a will this will is simply right: society exists only through right. But, as it endures only exercising a sovereignty over individuals, right is its SOVEREIGN WILL. Aristotle says justice is the advantage of society.
All existing right is — foreign law; some one makes me out to be in the right, “does right by me.” But should I therefore be in the right if all the world made me out so? And yet what else is the right that I obtain in the State, in society, but a right of those foreign to me? When a blockhead makes me out in the right, I grow distrustful of my rightness; I don’t like to receive it from him. But, even when a wise man makes me out in the right, I nevertheless am not in the right on that account. Whether I am in the right is completely independent of the fool’s making out and of the wise man’s.
All the same, we have coveted this right till now. We seek for right, and turn to the court for that purpose. To what? To a royal, a papal, a popular court, etc. Can a sultanic court declare another right than that which the sultan has ordained to be right? Can it make me out in the right if I seek for a right that does not agree with the sultan’s law? Can it, e.g., concede to me high treason as a right, since it is assuredly not a right according to the sultan’s mind? Can it as a court of censorship allow me the free utterance of opinion as a right, since the sultan will hear nothing of this my right? What am I seeking for in this court, then? I am seeking for sultanic right, not my right; I am seeking for — foreign right. As long as this foreign right harmonizes with mine, to be sure, I shall find in it the latter too.
The State does not permit pitching into each other man to man; it opposes the duel. Even every ordinary appeal to blows, notwithstanding that neither of the fighters calls the police to it, is punished; except when it is not an I whacking away at a you, but, say, the head of a family at the child. The familyis entitled to this, and in its name the father; I as Ego am not.
The Vossische Zeitung presents to us the “commonwealth of right.” There everything is to be decided by the judge and a court. It ranks the supreme court of censorship as a “court” where “right is declared.” What sort of a right? The right of the censorship. To recognize the sentences of that court as right one must regard the censorship as right. But it is thought nevertheless that this court offers a protection. Yes, protection against an individual censor’s error: it protects only the censorship-legislator against false interpretation of his will, at the same time making his statute, by the “sacred power of right,” all the firmer against writers.
Whether I am in the right or not there is no judge but myself. Others can judge only whether they endorse my right, and whether it exists as right for them too.
In the meantime let us take the matter yet another way. I am to reverence sultanic law in the sultanate, popular law in republics, canon law in Catholic communities. To these laws I am to subordinate myself; I am to regard them as sacred. A “sense of right” and “law-abiding mind” of such a sort is so firmly planted in people’s heads that the most revolutionary persons of our days want to subject us to a new “sacred law,” the “law of society,” the law of mankind, the “right of all,” and the like. The right of “all” is to go before my right. As a right of all it would indeed be my right among the rest, since I, with the rest, am included in all; but that it is at the same time a right of others, or even of all others, does not move me to its upholding. Not as a right of all will I defend it, but as my right; and then every other may see to it how he shall likewise maintain it for himself. The right of all (e.g., to eat) is a right of every individual. Let each keep this right unabridged for himself, then all exercise it spontaneously; let him not take care for all though — let him not grow zealous for it as for a right of all.
But the social reformers preach to us a “law of society”. There the individual becomes society’s slave, and is in the right only when society makes him out in the right, i.e. when he lives according to society’s statutes and so is — loyal. Whether I am loyal under a despotism or in a “society” à la Weitling, it is the same absence of right in so far as in both cases I have not my right but foreign right.
In consideration of right the question is always asked, “What or who gives me the right to it?” Answer: God, love, reason, nature, humanity, etc. No, only your might, your power gives you the right (your reason, e.g.,, may give it to you).
Communism, which assumes that men “have equal rights by nature,” contradicts its own proposition till it comes to this, that men have no right at all by nature. For it is not willing to recognize, e.g., that parents have “by nature” rights as against their children, or the children as against the parents: it abolishes the family. Nature gives parents, brothers, etc., no right at all. Altogether, this entire revolutionary or Babouvist principle rests on a religious, i. e., false, view of things. Who can ask after “right” if he does not occupy the religious standpoint himself? Is not “right” a religious concept, i.e. something sacred? Why, “equality of rights”, as the Revolution propounded it, is only another name for “Christian equality,” the “equality of the brethren,” “of God’s children,” “of Christians”; in short, fraternité. Each and every inquiry after right deserves to be lashed with Schiller’s words:
Many a year I’ve used my nose
To smell the onion and the rose;
Is there any proof which shows
That I’ve a right to that same nose?
When the Revolution stamped equality as a “right,” it took flight into the religious domain, into the region of the sacred, of the ideal. Hence, since then, the fight for the “sacred, inalienable rights of man.” Against the “eternal rights of man” the “well-earned rights of the established order” are quite naturally, and with equal right, brought to bear: right against right, where of course one is decried by the other as “wrong.” This has been the contest of rights [Rechtsstreit, a word which usually means “lawsuit”] since the Revolution.
You want to be “in the right” as against the rest. That you cannot; as against them you remain forever “in the wrong”; for they surely would not be your opponents if they were not in “their right” too; they will always make you out “in the wrong.” But, as against the right of the rest, yours is a higher, greater, more powerful right, is it not? No such thing! Your right is not more powerful if you are not more powerful. Have Chinese subjects a right to freedom? Just bestow it on them, and then look how far you have gone wrong in your attempt: because they do not know how to use freedom they have no right to it, or, in clearer terms, because they have not freedom they have not the right to it. Children have no right to the condition of majority because they are not of age, i.e. because they are children. Peoples that let themselves be kept in nonage have no rights to the condition of majority; if they ceased to be in nonage, then only would they have the right to be of age. This means nothing else than “What you have the power to be you have the right to.” I derive all right and all warrant from me; I am entitled to everything that I have in my power. I am entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, God, etc., if I can; if I cannot, then these gods will always remain in the right and in power as against me, and what I do will be to fear their right and their power in impotent “god-fearingness,” to keep their commandments and believe that I do right in everything that I do according to their right, about as the Russian boundary-sentinels think themselves rightfully entitled to shoot dead the suspicious persons who are escaping, since they murder “by superior authority,” i.e. “with right.” But I am entitled by myself to murder if I myself do not forbid it to myself, if I myself do not fear murder as a “wrong.” This view of things lies at the foundation of Chamisso’s poem, “The Valley of Murder,” where the gray-haired Indian murderer compels reverence from the white man whose brethren he has murdered. The only thing I am not entitled to is what I do not do with a free cheer, i. e. what I do not entitle myself to.
I decide whether it is the right thing in me; there is no right outside me. If it is right for me,[a common German phrase for “it suits me”] it is right. Possibly this may not suffice to make it right for the rest; i. e., their care, not mine: let them defend themselves. And if for the whole world something were not right, but it were right for me, i. e., I wanted it, then I would ask nothing about the whole world. So every one does who knows how to value himself, every one in the degree that he is an egoist; for might goes before right, and that — with perfect right.
Because I am “by nature” a man I have an equal right to the enjoyment of all goods, says Babeuf. Must he not also say: because I am “by nature” a first-born prince I have a right to the throne? The rights of man and the “well-earned rights” come to the same thing in the end, i.e. to nature, which gives me a right, i. e. to birth (and, further, inheritance, etc.). “I am born as a man” is equal to “I am born as a king’s son.” The natural man has only a natural right (because he has only a natural power) and natural claims: he has right of birth and claims of birth. But nature cannot entitle me, i.e. give me capacity or might, to that to which only my act entitles me. That the king’s child sets himself above other children, even this is his act, which secures to him the precedence; and that the other children approve and recognize this act is their act, which makes them worthy to be — subjects.
Whether nature gives me a right, or whether God, the people’s choice, etc., does so, all of i. e., the same foreign right, a right that I do not give or take to myself.
Thus the Communists say, equal labor entitles man to equal enjoyment. Formerly the question was raised whether the “virtuous” man must not be “happy” on earth. The Jews actually drew this inference: “That it may go well with thee on earth.” No, equal labor does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have labored and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then — “it serves you right.”
If you take the enjoyment, it is your right; if, on the contrary, you only pine for it without laying hands on it, it remains as before, a, “well-earned right” of those who are privileged for enjoyment. It is their right, as by laying hands on it would become your right.
The conflict over the “right of property” wavers in vehement commotion. The Communists affirm that “the earth belongs rightfully to him who tills it, and its products to those who bring them out.” I think it belongs to him who knows how to take it, or who does not let it be taken from him, does not let himself be deprived of it. If he appropriates it, then not only the earth, but the right to it too, belongs to him. This is egoistic right: i.e. it is right for me, therefore it is right.
Aside from this, right does have “a wax nose.” The tiger that assails me is in the right, and I who strike him down am also in the right. I defend against him not my right, but myself.
As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, i.e. “concede,” to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves. It will be objected, the children had nevertheless “by nature” the right to exist; only the Spartans refused recognition to this right. But then they simply had no right to this recognition — no more than they had to recognition of their life by the wild beasts to which they were thrown.
People talk so much about birthright and complain:
There is alas! — no mention of the rights
That were born with us.
What sort of right, then, is there that was born with me? The right to receive an entailed estate, to inherit a throne, to enjoy a princely or noble education; or, again, because poor parents begot me, to — get free schooling, be clothed out of contributions of alms, and at last earn my bread and my herring in the coal-mines or at the loom? Are these not birthrights, rights that have come down to me from my parents through birth? You think — no; you think these are only rights improperly so called, it is just these rights that you aim to abolish through the real birthright. To give a basis for this you go back to the simplest thing and affirm that every one is by birth equal to another — to wit, a man. I will grant you that every one is born as man, hence the new-born are therein equal to each other. Why are they? Only because they do not yet show and exert themselves as anything but bare — children of men, naked little human beings. But thereby they are at once different from those who have already made something out of themselves, who thus are no longer bare “children of man,” but — children of their own creation. The latter possesses more than bare birthrights: they have earnedrights. What an antithesis, what a field of combat! The old combat of the birthrights of man and well-earned rights. Go right on appealing to your birthrights; people will not fail to oppose to you the well-earned. Both stand on the “ground of right”; for each of the two has a “right” against the other, the one the birthright of natural right, the other the earned or “well-earned” right.
If you remain on the ground of right, you remain in — Rechthaberei. The other cannot give you your right; he cannot “mete out right” to you. He who has might has — right; if you have not the former, neither have you the latter. Is this wisdom so hard to attain? Just look at the mighty and their doings! We are talking here only of China and Japan, of course. Just try it once, you Chinese and Japanese, to make them out in the wrong, and learn by experience how they throw you into jail. (Only do not confuse with this the “well-meaning counsels” which — in China and Japan — are permitted, because they do not hinder the mighty one, but possibly help him on.) For him who should want to make them out in the wrong there would stand open only one way thereto, that of might. If he deprives them of their might, then he has really made them out in the wrong, deprived them of their right; in any other case he can do nothing but clench his little fist in his pocket, or fall a victim as an obtrusive fool.
In short, if you Chinese or Japanese did not ask after right, and in particular if you did not ask after the rights “that were born with you,” then you would not need to ask at all after the well-earned rights either.
You start back in fright before others, because you think you see beside them the ghost of right, which, as in the Homeric combats, seems to fight as a goddess at their side, helping them. What do you do? Do you throw the spear? No, you creep around to gain the spook over to yourselves, that it may fight on your side: you woo for the ghost’s favor. Another would simply ask thus: Do I will what my opponent wills? “No!” Now then, there may fight for him a thousand devils or gods, I go at him all the same!
The “commonwealth of right,” as the Vossische Zeitung among others stands for it, asks that office-holders be removable only by the judge, not by the administration. Vain illusion! If it were settled by law that an office-holder who is once seen drunken shall lose his office, then the judges would have to condemn him on the word of the witnesses. In short, the law-giver would only have to state precisely all the possible grounds which entail the loss of office, however laughable they might be (e.g. he who laughs in his superiors’ faces, who does not go to church every Sunday, who does not take the communion every four weeks, who runs in debt, who has disreputable associates, who shows no determination, etc., shall be removed. These things the law-giver might take it into his head to prescribe, e.g., for a court of honor); then the judge would solely have to investigate whether the accused had “become guilty” of those “offenses,” and, on presentation of the proof, pronounce sentence of removal against him “in the name of the law.”
The judge is lost when he ceases to be mechanical, when he “is forsaken by the rules of evidence.” Then he no longer has anything but an opinion like everybody else; and, if he decides according to this opinion, his action is no longer an official action. As judge he must decide only according to the law. Commend me rather to the old French parliaments, which wanted to examine for themselves what was to be matters of right, and to register it only after their own approval. They at least judged according to a right of their own, and were not willing to give themselves up to be machines of the law-giver, although as judges they must, to be sure, become their own machines.
It is said that punishment is the criminal’s right. But impunity is just as much his right. If his undertaking succeeds, it serves him right, and, if it does not succeed, it likewise serves him right. You make your bed and lie in it. If some one goes foolhardily into dangers and perishes in them, we are apt to say, “It serves him right; he would have it so.” But, if he conquered the dangers, i.e. if his might was victorious, then he would be in the right too. If a child plays with the knife and gets cut, it is served right; but, if it doesn’t get cut, it is served right too. Hence right befalls the criminal, doubtless, when he suffers what he risked; why, what did he risk it for, since he knew the possible consequences? But the punishment that we decree against him is only our right, not his. Our right reacts against his, and he is — “in the wrong at last” because — we get the upper hand.
* * *
But what is right, what is matter of right in a society, is voiced too — in the law.[Gesetz, statute; no longer the same German word as “right”]
Whatever the law may be, it must be respected by the — loyal citizen. Thus the law-abiding mind of Old England is eulogized. To this that Euripidean sentiment (Orestes, 418) entirely corresponds: “We serve the gods, whatever the gods are.” Law as such, God as such, thus far we are today.
People are at pains to distinguish law from arbitrary orders, from an ordinance: the former comes from a duly entitled authority. But a law over human action (ethical law, State law, etc.) is always a declaration of will, and so an order. Yes, even if I myself gave myself the law, it would yet be only my order, to which in the next moment I can refuse obedience. One may well enough declare what he will put up with, and so deprecate the opposite of the law, making known that in the contrary case he will treat the transgressor as his enemy; but no one has any business to command my actions, to say what course I shall pursue and set up a code to govern it. I must put up with it that he treats me as his enemy, but never that he makes free with me as his creature, and that he makes his reason, or even unreason, my plumb-line.
States last only so long as there is a ruling will and this ruling will is looked upon as tantamount to the own will. The lord’s will is — law. What do your laws amount to if no one obeys them? What your orders, if nobody lets himself be ordered? The State cannot forbear the claim to determine the individual’s will, to speculate and count on this. For the State it is indispensable that nobody have an own will ; if one had, the State would have to exclude (lock up, banish, etc.) this one; if all had, they would do away with the State. The State is not thinkable without lordship and servitude (subjection); for the State must will to be the lord of all that it embraces, and this will is called the “will of the State.”
He who, to hold his own, must count on the absence of will in others is a thing made by these others, as the master is a thing made by the servant. If submissiveness ceased, it would be over with all lordship.
The own will of Me is the State’s destroyer; it is therefore branded by the State as “self-will.” Own will and the State are powers in deadly hostility, between which no “eternal peace” is possible. As long as the State asserts itself, it represents own will, its ever-hostile opponent, as unreasonable, evil; and the latter lets itself be talked into believing this — nay, it really is such, for no more reason than this, that it still lets itself be talked into such belief: it has not yet come to itself and to the consciousness of its dignity; hence it is still incomplete, still amenable to fine words, etc.
Every State is a despotism, be the despot one or many, or (as one is likely to imagine about a republic) if all be lords, i. e. despotize one over another. For this is the case when the law given at any time, the expressed volition of (it may be) a popular assembly, is thenceforth to be law for the individual, to which obedience is due from him or toward which he has the duty of obedience. If one were even to conceive the case that every individual in the people had expressed the same will, and hereby a complete “collective will” had come into being, the matter would still remain the same. Would I not be bound today and henceforth to my will of yesterday? My will would in this case be frozen. Wretched stability! My creature — to wit, a particular expression of will — would have become my commander. But I in my will, I the creator, should be hindered in my flow and my dissolution. Because I was a fool yesterday I must remain such my life long. So in the State-life I am at best — I might just as well say, at worst — a bondman of myself. Because I was a willer yesterday, I am today without will: yesterday voluntary, today involuntary.
How change it? Only be recognizing no duty, not binding myself nor letting myself be bound. If I have no duty, then I know no law either.
“But they will bind me!” My will nobody can bind, and my disinclination remains free.
“Why, everything must go topsy-turvy if every one could do what he would!” Well, who says that every one can do everything? What are you there for, pray, you who do not need to put up with everything? Defend yourself, and no one will do anything to you! He who would break your will has to do with you, and is your enemy. Deal with him as such. If there stand behind you for your protection some millions more, then you are an imposing power and will have an easy victory. But, even if as a power you overawe your opponent, still you are not on that account a hallowed authority to him, unless he be a simpleton. He does not owe you respect and regard, even though he will have to consider your might.
We are accustomed to classify States according to the different ways in which “the supreme might” is distributed. If an individual has it — monarchy; if all have it — democracy; etc. Supreme might then! Might against whom? Against the individual and his “self-will.” The State practices “violence,” the individual must not do so. The State’s behavior is violence, and it calls its violence “law”; that of the individual, “crime.” Crime, then [Verbrechen] — so the individual’s violence is called; and only by crime does he overcome [brechen] the State’s violence when he thinks that the State is not above him, but he is above the State.
Now, if I wanted to act ridiculously, I might, as a well-meaning person, admonish you not to make laws which impair my self-development, self-activity, self-creation. I do not give this advice. For, if you should follow it, you would be unwise, and I should have been cheated of my entire profit. I request nothing at all from you; for, whatever I might demand, you would still be dictatorial law-givers, and must be so, because a raven cannot sing, nor a robber live without robbery. Rather do I ask those who would be egoists what they think the more egoistic — to let laws be given them by you, and to respect those that are given, or to practice refractoriness, yes, complete disobedience. Good-hearted people think the laws ought to prescribe only what is accepted in the people’s feeling as right and proper. But what concern is it of mine what is accepted in the nation and by the nation? The nation will perhaps be against the blasphemer; therefore a law against blasphemy. Am I not to blaspheme on that account? Is this law to be more than an “order” to me? I put the question.
Solely from the principle that all right and all authority belong to the collectivity of the people do all forms of government arise. For none of them lacks this appeal to the collectivity, and the despot, as well as the president or any aristocracy, acts and commands “in the name of the State.” They are in possession of the “authority of the State,” and it is perfectly indifferent whether, were this possible, the people as a collectivity (all individuals) exercise this State — authority, or whether it is only the representatives of this collectivity, be there many of them as in aristocracies or one as in monarchies. Always the collectivity is above the individual, and has a power which is called legitimate, i.e. which is law.
Over against the sacredness of the State, the individual is only a vessel of dishonor, in which “exuberance, malevolence, mania for ridicule and slander, frivolity,” etc., are left as soon as he does not deem that object of veneration, the State, to be worthy of recognition. The spiritual haughtiness of the servants and subjects of the State has fine penalties against unspiritual “exuberance.”
When the government designates as punishable all play of mind against the State, the moderate liberals come and opine that fun, satire, wit, humor, must have free play anyhow, and genius must enjoy freedom. So not the individual man indeed, but still genius, is to be free. Here the State, or in its name the government, says with perfect right: He who is not for me is against me. Fun, wit, etc. — in short, the turning of State affairs into a comedy — have undermined States from of old: they are not “innocent.” And, further, what boundaries are to be drawn between guilty and innocent wit, etc.? At this question the moderates fall into great perplexity, and everything reduces itself to the prayer that the State (government) would please not be so sensitive, so ticklish; that it would not immediately scent malevolence in “harmless’ things, and would in general be a little “more tolerant.” Exaggerated sensitiveness is certainly a weakness, its avoidance may be praiseworthy virtue; but in time of war one cannot be sparing, and what may be allowed under peaceable circumstances ceases to be permitted as soon as a state of siege is declared. Because the well-meaning liberals feel this plainly, they hasten to declare that, considering “the devotion of the people,” there is assuredly no danger to be feared. But the government will be wiser, and not let itself be talked into believing anything of that sort. It knows too well how people stuff one with fine words, and will not let itself be satisfied with the Barmecide dish.
But they are bound to have their play-ground, for they are children, you know, and cannot be so staid as old folks; boys will be boys. Only for this playground, only for a few hours of jolly running about, they bargain. They ask only that the State should not, like a splenetic papa, be too cross. It should permit some Processions of the Ass and plays of fools, as the church allowed them in the Middle Ages. But the times when it could grant this without danger are past. Children that now once come into the open, and live through an hour without the rod of discipline, are no longer willing to go into the cell. For the open is now no longer a supplement to the cell, no longer a refreshing recreation, but its opposite, an aut-aut. In short, the State must either no longer put up with anything, or put up with everything and perish; it must be either sensitive through and through, or, like a dead man, insensitive. Tolerance is done with. If the State but gives a finger, they take the whole hand at once. There can be no more “jesting,” and all jest, such as fun, wit, humor, becomes bitter earnest.
The clamor of the Liberals for freedom of the press runs counter to their own principle, their proper will. They will what they do not will, i.e. they wish, they would like. Hence it is too that they fall away so easily when once so-called freedom of the press appears; then they would like censorship. Quite naturally. The State is sacred even to them; likewise morals. They behave toward it only as ill-bred brats, as tricky children who seek to utilize the weaknesses of their parents. Papa State is to permit them to say many things that do not please him, but papa has the right, by a stern look, to blue-pencil their impertinent gabble. If they recognize in him their papa, they must in his presence put up with the censorship of speech, like every child.
* * *
If you let yourself be made out in the right by another, you must no less let yourself be made out in the wrong by him; if justification and reward come to you from him, expect also his arraignment and punishment. Alongside right goes wrong, alongside legality crime. What are you? — You are a — criminal!
“The criminal is in the utmost degree the State’s own crime!” says Bettina. One may let this sentiment pass, even if Bettina herself does not understand it exactly so. For in the State the unbridled I — I, as I belong to myself alone — cannot come to my fulfillment and realization. Every ego is from birth a criminal to begin with against the people, the State. Hence it is that it does really keep watch over all; it sees in each one an — egoist, and it is afraid of the egoist. It presumes the worst about each one, and takes care, police-care, that “no harm happens to the State,” ne quid respublica detrimenti capiat. The unbridled ego — and this we originally are, and in our secret inward parts we remain so always — is the never-ceasing criminal in the State. The man whom his boldness, his will, his inconsiderateness and fearlessness lead is surrounded with spies by the State, by the people. I say, by the people! The people (think it something wonderful, you good-hearted folks, what you have in the people) — the people is full of police sentiments through and through. — Only he who renounces his ego, who practices “self-renunciation,” is acceptable to the people.
In the book cited Bettina is throughout good-natured enough to regard the State as only sick, and to hope for its recovery, a recovery which she would bring about through the “demagogues”; but it is not sick; rather is it in its full strength, when it puts from it the demagogues who want to acquire something for the individuals, for “all.” In its believers it is provided with the best demagogues (leaders of the people). According to Bettina, the State is to “develop mankind’s germ of freedom; otherwise it is a raven-mother[An unnatural mother] and caring for raven-fodder!” It cannot do otherwise, for in its very caring for “mankind” (which, besides, would have to be the “humane” or “free” State to begin with) the “individual” is raven-fodder for it. How rightly speaks the burgomaster, on the other hand: “What? the State has no other duty than to be merely the attendant of incurable invalids? — that isn’t to the point. From of old the healthy State has relieved itself of the diseased matter, and not mixed itself with it. It does not need to be so economical with its juices. Cut off the robber-branches without hesitation, that the others may bloom. — Do not shiver at the State’s harshness; its morality, its policy and religion, point it to that. Accuse it of no want of feeling; its sympathy revolts against this, but its experience finds safety only in this severity! There are diseases in which only drastic remedies will help. The physician who recognizes the disease as such, but timidly turns to palliatives, will never remove the disease, but may well cause the patient to succumb after a shorter or longer sickness.” Frau Rat’s question, “If you apply death as a drastic remedy, how is the cure to be wrought then?” isn’t to the point. Why, the State does not apply death against itself, but against an offensive member; it tears out an eye that offends it, etc.
“For the invalid State the only way of salvation is to make man flourish in it.” If one here, like Bettina, understand by man the concept “Man,” she is right; the “invalid” State will recover by the flourishing of “Man,” for, the more infatuated the individuals are with “Man,” the better it serves the State’s turn. But, if one referred it to the individuals, to “all” (and the authoress half-does this too, because about “Man” she is still involved in vagueness), then it would sound somewhat like the following: For an invalid band of robbers the only way of salvation is to make the loyal citizen nourish in it! Why, thereby the band of robbers would simply go to ruin as a band of robbers; and, because it perceives this, it prefers to shoot every one who has a leaning toward becoming a “steady man.”
In this book Bettina is a patriot, or, what is little more, a philanthropist, a worker for human happiness. She is discontented with the existing order in quite the same way as is the title-ghost of her book, along with all who would like to bring back the good old faith and what goes with it. Only she thinks, contrariwise, that the politicians, place-holders, and diplomats ruined the State, while those lay it at the door of the malevolent, the “seducers of the people.”
What is the ordinary criminal but one who has committed the fatal mistake of endeavoring after what is the people’s instead of seeking for what is his? He has sought despicable alien goods, has done what believers do who seek after what is God’s. What does the priest who admonishes the criminal do? He sets before him the great wrong of having desecrated by his act what was hallowed by the State, its property (in which, of course, must be included even the life of those who belong to the State); instead of this, he might rather hold up to him the fact that he has befouled himself in not despising the alien thing, but thinking it worth stealing; he could, if he were not a parson. Talk with the so-called criminal as with an egoist, and he will be ashamed, not that he transgressed against your laws and goods, but that he considered your laws worth evading, your goods worth desiring; he will be ashamed that he did not — despise you and yours together, that he was too little an egoist. But you cannot talk egoistically with him, for you are not so great as a criminal, you — commit no crime! You do not know that an ego who is his own cannot desist from being a criminal, that crime is his life. And yet you should know it, since you believe that “we are all miserable sinners”; but you think surreptitiously to get beyond sin, you do not comprehend — for you are devil-fearing — that guilt is the value of a man. Oh, if you were guilty! But now you are “righteous.”[Gerechte] Well — just put every thing nicely to rights [macht Alles hübsch gerecht] for your master!
When the Christian consciousness, or the Christian man, draws up a criminal code, what can the concept of crime be there but simply — heartlessness? Each severing and wounding of a heart relation, each heartless behavior toward a sacred being, is crime. The more heartfelt the relation is supposed to be, the more scandalous is the deriding of it, and the more worthy of punishment the crime. Everyone who is subject to the lord should love him; to deny this love is a high treason worthy of death. Adultery is a heartlessness worthy of punishment; one has no heart, no enthusiasm, no pathetic feeling for the sacredness of marriage. So long as the heart or soul dictates laws, only the heartful or soulful man enjoys the protection of the laws. That the man of soul makes laws means properly that the moral man makes them: what contradicts these men’s “moral feeling,” this they penalize. How, e.g., should disloyalty, secession, breach of oaths — in short, all radical breaking off, all tearing asunder of venerable ties — not be flagitious and criminal in their eyes? He who breaks with these demands of the soul has for enemies all the moral, all the men of soul. Only Krummacher and his mates are the right people to set up consistently a penal code of the heart, as a certain bill sufficiently proves. The consistent legislation of the Christian State must be placed wholly in the hands of the — parsons, and will not become pure and coherent so long as it is worked out only by — the parson-ridden, who are always only half-parsons. Only then will every lack of soulfulness, every heartlessness, be certified as an unpardonable crime, only then will every agitation of the soul become condemnable, every objection of criticism and doubt be anathematized; only then is the own man, before the Christian consciousness, a convicted — criminal to begin with.
The men of the Revolution often talked of the people’s “just revenge” as its “right.” Revenge and right coincide here. Is this an attitude of an ego to an ego? The people cries that the opposite party has committed “crimes” against it. Can I assume that one commits a crime against me, without assuming that he has to act as I see fit? And this action I call the right, the good, etc.; the divergent action, a crime. So I think that the others must aim at the same goal with me; i.e., I do not treat them as unique beings[Einzige] who bear their law in themselves and live according to it, but as beings who are to obey some “rational” law. I set up what “Man” is and what acting in a “truly human” way is, and I demand of every one that this law become norm and ideal to him; otherwise he will expose himself as a “sinner and criminal.” But upon the “guilty” falls the “penalty of the law”!
One sees here how it is “Man” again who sets on foot even the concept of crime, of sin, and therewith that of right. A man in whom I do not recognize “man” is “sinner, a guilty one.”
Only against a sacred thing are there criminals; you against me can never be a criminal, but only an opponent. But not to hate him who injures a sacred thing is in itself a crime, as St. Just cries out against Danton: “Are you not a criminal and responsible for not having hated the enemies of the fatherland?” —
If, as in the Revolution, what “Man” is apprehended as “good citizen,” then from this concept of “Man” we have the well-known “political offenses and crimes.”
In all this the individual, the individual man, is regarded as refuse, and on the other hand the general man, “Man,” is honored. Now, according to how this ghost is named — as Christian, Jew, Mussulman, good citizen, loyal subject, freeman, patriot, etc. — just so do those who would like to carry through a divergent concept of man, as well as those who want to put themselves through, fall before victorious “Man.”
And with what unction the butchery goes on here in the name of the law, of the sovereign people, of God, etc.!
Now, if the persecuted trickily conceal and protect themselves from the stern parsonical judges, people stigmatize them as St. Just, e.g., does those whom he accuses in the speech against Danton. One is to be a fool, and deliver himself up to their Moloch.
Crimes spring from fixed ideas. The sacredness of marriage is a fixed idea. From the sacredness it follows that infidelity is a crime, and therefore a certain marriage law imposes upon it a shorter or longer penalty. But by those who proclaim “freedom as sacred” this penalty must be regarded as a crime against freedom, and only in this sense has public opinion in fact branded the marriage law.
Society would have every one come to his right indeed, but yet only to that which is sanctioned by society, to the society-right, not really to his right. But I give or take to myself the right out of my own plenitude of power, and against every superior power I am the most impenitent criminal. Owner and creator of my right, I recognize no other source of right than — me, neither God nor the State nor nature nor even man himself with his “eternal rights of man,” neither divine nor human right.
Right “in and for itself.” Without relation to me, therefore! “Absolute right.” Separated from me, therefore! A thing that exists in and for itself! An absolute! An eternal right, like an eternal truth!
According to the liberal way of thinking, right is to be obligatory for me because it is thus established by human reason, against which my reason is “unreason.” Formerly people inveighed in the name of divine reason against weak human reason; now, in the name of strong human reason, against egoistic reason, which is rejected as “unreason.” And yet none is real but this very “unreason.” Neither divine nor human reason, but only your and my reason existing at any given time, is real, as and because you and I are real.
The thought of right is originally my thought; or, it has its origin in me. But, when it has sprung from me, when the “Word” is out, then it has “become flesh,” it is a fixed idea. Now I no longer get rid of the thought; however I turn, it stands before me. Thus men have not become masters again of the thought “right,” which they themselves created; their creature is running away with them. This is absolute right, that which is absolved or unfastened from me. We, revering it as absolute, cannot devour it again, and it takes from us the creative power: the creature is more than the creator, it is “in and for itself.”
Once you no longer let right run around free, once you draw it back into its origin, into you, it is your right; and that is right which suits you.
* * *
Right has had to suffer an attack within itself, i.e. from the standpoint of right; war being declared on the part of liberalism against “privilege.”[Literally, “precedent right”]
Privileged and endowed with equal rights — on these two concepts turns a stubborn fight. Excluded or admitted — would mean the same. But where should there be a power — be it an imaginary one like God, law, or a real one like I, you — of which it should not be true that before it all are “endowed with equal rights,” i. e., no respect of persons holds? Every one is equally dear to God if he adores him, equally agreeable to the law if only he is a law- abiding person; whether the lover of God and the law is humpbacked and lame, whether poor or rich, etc., that amounts to nothing for God and the law; just so, when you are at the point of drowning, you like a Negro as rescuer as well as the most excellent Caucasian — yes, in this situation you esteem a dog not less than a man. But to whom will not every one be also, contrariwise, a preferred or disregarded person? God punishes the wicked with his wrath, the law chastises the lawless, you let one visit you every moment and show the other the door.
The “equality of right” is a phantom just because right is nothing more and nothing less than admission, a matter of grace, which, be it said, one may also acquire by his desert; for desert and grace are not contradictory, since even grace wishes to be “deserved” and our gracious smile falls only to him who knows how to force it from us.
So people dream of “all citizens of the State having to stand side by side, with equal rights.” As citizens of the State they are certainly all equal for the State. But it will divide them, and advance them or put them in the rear, according to its special ends, if on no other account; and still more must it distinguish them from one another as good and bad citizens.
Bruno Bauer disposes of the Jew question from the standpoint that “privilege” is not justified. Because Jew and Christian have each some point of advantage over the other, and in having this point of advantage are exclusive, therefore before the critic’s gaze they crumble into nothingness. With them the State lies under the like blame, since it justifies their having advantages and stamps it as a “privilege.” or prerogative, but thereby derogates from its calling to become a “free State.”
But now every one has something of advantage over another — viz., himself or his individuality; in this everybody remains exclusive.
And, again, before a third party every one makes his peculiarity count for as much as possible, and (if he wants to win him at all) tries to make it appear attractive before him.
Now, is the third party to be insensible to the difference of the one from the other? Do they ask that of the free State or of humanity? Then these would have to be absolutely without self-interest, and incapable of taking an interest in any one whatever. Neither God (who divides his own from the wicked) nor the State (which knows how to separate good citizens from bad) was thought of as so indifferent.
But they are looking for this very third party that bestows no more “privilege.” Then it is called perhaps the free State, or humanity, or whatever else it may be.
As Christian and Jew are ranked low by Bruno Bauer on account of their asserting privileges, it must be that they could and should free themselves from their narrow standpoint by self-renunciation or unselfishness. If they threw off their “egoism,” the mutual wrong would cease, and with it Christian and Jewish religiousness in general; it would be necessary only that neither of them should any longer want to be anything peculiar.
But, if they gave up this exclusiveness, with that the ground on which their hostilities were waged would in truth not yet be forsaken. In case of need they would indeed find a third thing on which they could unite, a “general religion,” a “religion of humanity,” etc.; in short, an equalization, which need not be better than that which would result if all Jews became Christians, by this likewise the “privilege” of one over the other would have an end. The tension[Spannung] would indeed be done away, but in this consisted not the essence of the two, but only their neighborhood. As being distinguished from each other they must necessarily be mutually resistant,[gespannt] and the disparity will always remain. Truly it is not a failing in you that you stiffen [spannen] yourself against me and assert your distinctness or peculiarity: you need not give way or renounce yourself.
People conceive the significance of the opposition too formally and weakly when they want only to “dissolve” it in order to make room for a third thing that shall “unite.” The opposition deserves rather to be sharpened. As Jew and Christian you are in too slight an opposition, and are contending only about religion, as it were about the emperor’s beard, about a fiddlestick’s end. Enemies in religion indeed, in the rest you still remain good friends, and equal to each other, e.g. as men. Nevertheless the rest too is unlike in each; and the time when you no longer merely dissemble your opposition will be only when you entirely recognize it, and everybody asserts himself from top to toe as unique [Einzig]. Then the former opposition will assuredly be dissolved, but only because a stronger has taken it up into itself.
Our weakness consists not in this, that we are in opposition to others, but in this, that we are not completely so; that we are not entirely severed from them, or that we seek a “communion,” a “bond,” that in communion we have an ideal. One faith, one God, one idea, one hat, for all! If all were brought under one hat, certainly no one would any longer need to take off his hat before another.
The last and most decided opposition, that of unique against unique, is at bottom beyond what is called opposition, but without having sunk back into “unity” and unison. As unique you have nothing in common with the other any longer, and therefore nothing divisive or hostile either; you are not seeking to be in the right against him before a third party, and are standing with him neither “on the ground of right” nor on any other common ground. The opposition vanishes in complete — severance or singleness.[Einzigkeit] This might indeed be regarded as the new point in common or a new parity, but here the parity consists precisely in the disparity, and is itself nothing but disparity, a par of disparity, and that only for him who institutes a “comparison.”
The polemic against privilege forms a characteristic feature of liberalism, which fumes against “privilege” because it itself appeals to “right.” Further than to fuming it cannot carry this; for privileges do not fall before right falls, as they are only forms of right. But right falls apart into its nothingness when it is swallowed up by might, i.e. when one understands what is meant by “Might goes before right.” All right explains itself then as privilege, and privilege itself as power, as — superior power.
But must not the mighty combat against superior power show quite another face than the modest combat against privilege, which is to be fought out before a first judge, “Right,” according to the judge’s mind?
* * *
Now, in conclusion, I have still to take back the half-way form of expression of which I was willing to make use only so long as I was still rooting among the entrails of right, and letting the word at least stand. But, in fact, with the concept the word too loses its meaning. What I called “my right” is no longer “right” at all, because right can be bestowed only by a spirit, be it the spirit of nature or that of the species, of mankind, the Spirit of God or that of His Holiness or His Highness, etc. What I have without an entitling spirit I have without right; I have it solely and alone through my power.
I do not demand any right, therefore I need not recognize any either. What I can get by force I get by force, and what I do not get by force I have no right to, nor do I give myself airs, or consolation, with my imprescriptible right.
With absolute right, right itself passes away; the dominion of the “concept of right” is canceled at the same time. For it is not to be forgotten that hitherto concepts, ideas, or principles ruled us, and that among these rulers the concept of right, or of justice, played one of the most important parts.
Entitled or unentitled — that does not concern me, if I am only powerful, I am of myself empowered, and need no other empowering or entitling.
Right — is a wheel in the head, put there by a spook; power — that am I myself, I am the powerful one and owner of power. Right is above me, is absolute, and exists in one higher, as whose grace it flows to me: right is a gift of grace from the judge; power and might exist only in me the powerful and mighty.
In society the human demand at most can be satisfied, while the egoistic must always come short.
Because it can hardly escape anybody that the present shows no such living interest in any question as in the “social,” one has to direct his gaze especially to society. Nay, if the interest felt in it were less passionate and dazzled, people would not so much, in looking at society, lose sight of the individuals in it, and would recognize that a society cannot become new so long as those who form and constitute it remain the old ones. If, e.g., there was to arise in the Jewish people a society which should spread a new faith over the earth, these apostles could in no case remain Pharisees.
As you are, so you present yourself, so you behave toward men: a hypocrite as a hypocrite, a Christian as a Christian. Therefore the character of a society is determined by the character of its members: they are its creators. So much at least one must perceive even if one were not willing to put to the test the concept “society” itself.
Ever far from letting themselves come to their full development and consequence, men have hitherto not been able to found their societies on themselves; or rather, they have been able only to found “societies” and to live in societies. The societies were always persons, powerful persons, so-called “moral persons,” i.e. ghosts, before which the individual had the appropriate wheel in his head, the fear of ghosts. As such ghosts they may most suitably be designated by the respective names “people” and “peoplet”: the people of the patriarchs, the people of the Hellenes, etc., at last the — people of men, Mankind (Anacharsis Clootz was enthusiastic for the “nation” of mankind); then every subdivision of this “people,” which could and must have its special societies, the Spanish, French people, etc.; within it again classes, cities, in short all kinds of corporations; lastly, tapering to the finest point, the little peoplet of the —family. Hence, instead of saying that the person that walked as ghost in all societies hitherto has been the people, there might also have been named the two extremes — to wit, either “mankind” or the “family,” both the most “natural-born units.” We choose the word “people” because its derivation has been brought into connection with the Greek polloi, the “many” or “the masses,” but still more because “national efforts” are at present the order of the day, and because even the newest mutineers have not yet shaken off this deceptive person, although on the other hand the latter consideration must give the preference to the expression “mankind,” since on all sides they are going in for enthusiasm over “mankind.”
The people, then — mankind or the family — have hitherto, as it seems, played history: no egoistic interest was to come up in these societies, but solely general ones, national or popular interests, class interests, family interests, and “general human interests.” But who has brought to their fall the peoples whose decline history relates? Who but the egoist, who was seeking his satisfaction! If once an egoistic interest crept in, the society was “corrupted” and moved toward its dissolution, as Rome, e.g. proves with its highly developed system of private rights, or Christianity with the incessantly-breaking-in “rational self-determination,” “self-consciousness,” the “autonomy of the spirit,” etc.
The Christian people has produced two societies whose duration will keep equal measure with the permanence of that people: these are the societies State and Church. Can they be called a union of egoists? Do we in them pursue an egoistic, personal, own interest, or do we pursue a popular (i.e. an interest of the Christian people), to wit, a State, and Church interest? Can I and may I be myself in them? May I think and act as I will, may I reveal myself, live myself out, busy myself? Must I not leave untouched the majesty of the State, the sanctity of the Church?
Well, I may not do so as I will. But shall I find in any society such an unmeasured freedom of maying? Certainly no! Accordingly we might be content? Not a bit! It is a different thing whether I rebound from an ego or from a people, a generalization. There I am my opponent’s opponent, born his equal; here I am a despised opponent, bound and under a guardian: there I stand man to man; here I am a schoolboy who can accomplish nothing against his comrade because the latter has called father and mother to aid and has crept under the apron, while I am well scolded as an ill-bred brat, and I must not “argue”: there I fight against a bodily enemy; here against mankind, against a generalization, against a “majesty,” against a spook. But to me no majesty, nothing sacred, is a limit; nothing that I know how to overpower. Only that which I cannot overpower still limits my might; and I of limited might am temporarily a limited I, not limited by the might outside me, but limited by my own still deficient might, by my own impotence. However, “the Guard dies, but does not surrender!” Above all, only a bodily opponent!
I dare meet every foeman
Whom I can see and measure with my eye,
mettle fires my mettle for the fight — etc.
Many privileges have indeed been cancelled with time, but solely for the sake of the common weal, of the State and the State’s weal, by no means for the strengthening of me. Vassalage, e.g., was abrogated only that a single liege lord, the lord of the people, the monarchical power, might be strengthened: vassalage under the one became yet more rigorous thereby. Only in favor of the monarch, be he called “prince” or “law,” have privileges fallen. In France the citizens are not, indeed, vassals of the king, but are instead vassals of the “law” (the Charter). Subordination was retained, only the Christian State recognized that man cannot serve two masters (the lord of the manor and the prince); therefore one obtained all the prerogatives; now he can again place one above another, he can make “men in high place.”
But of what concern to me is the common weal? The common weal as such is not my weal, but only the furthest extremity of self- renunciation. The common weal may cheer aloud while I must “down”;[Kuschen, a word whose only use is in ordering dogs to keep quiet] the State may shine while I starve. In what lies the folly of the political liberals but in their opposing the people to the government and talking of people’s rights? So there is the people going to be of age, etc. As if one who has no mouth could be mündig![This is the word for “of age”; but it is derived from Mund, “mouth,” and refers properly to the right of speaking through one’s own mouth, not by a guardian] Only the individual is able to be mündig. Thus the whole question of the liberty of the press is turned upside down when it is laid claim to as a “right of the people.” It is only a right, or better the might, of the individual. If a people has liberty of the press, then I, although in the midst of this people, have it not; a liberty of the people is not my liberty, and the liberty of the press as a liberty of the people must have at its side a press law directed against me.
This must be insisted on all around against the present-day efforts for liberty:
Liberty of the people is not my liberty!
Let us admit these categories, liberty of the people and right of the people: e.g., the right of the people that everybody may bear arms. Does one not forfeit such a right? One cannot forfeit his own right, but may well forfeit a right that belongs not to me but to the people. I may be locked up for the sake of the liberty of the people; I may, under sentence, incur the loss of the right to bear arms.
Liberalism appears as the last attempt at a creation of the liberty of the people, a liberty of the commune, of “society,” of the general, of mankind; the dream of a humanity, a people, a commune, a “society,” that shall be of age.
A people cannot be free otherwise than at the individual’s expense; for it is not the individual that is the main point in this liberty, but the people. The freer the people, the more bound the individual; the Athenian people, precisely at its freest time, created ostracism, banished the atheists, poisoned the most honest thinker.
How they do praise Socrates for his conscientiousness, which makes him resist the advice to get away from the dungeon! He is a fool that he concedes to the Athenians a right to condemn him. Therefore it certainly serves him right; why then does he remain standing on an equal footing with the Athenians? Why does he not break with them? Had he known, and been able to know, what he was, he would have conceded to such judges no claim, no right. That he did not escape was just his weakness, his delusion of still having something in common with the Athenians, or the opinion that he was a member, a mere member of this people. But he was rather this people itself in person, and could only be his own judge. There was no judge over him, as he himself had really pronounced a public sentence on himself and rated himself worthy of the Prytaneum. He should have stuck to that, and, as he had uttered no sentence of death against himself, should have despised that of the Athenians too and escaped. But he subordinated himself and recognized in the people his judge; he seemed little to himself before the majesty of the people. That he subjected himself to might (to which alone he could succumb) as to a “right” was treason against himself: it was virtue. To Christ, who, it is alleged, refrained from using the power over his heavenly legions, the same scrupulousness is thereby ascribed by the narrators. Luther did very well and wisely to have the safety of his journey to Worms warranted to him in black and white, and Socrates should have known that the Athenians were his enemies, he alone his judge. The self-deception of a “reign of law,” etc., should have given way to the perception that the relation was a relation of might.
It was with pettifoggery and intrigues that Greek liberty ended. Why? Because the ordinary Greeks could still less attain that logical conclusion which not even their hero of thought, Socrates, was able to draw. What then is pettifoggery but a way of utilizing something established without doing away with it? I might add “for one’s own advantage,” but, you see, that lies in “utilizing.” Such pettifoggers are the theologians who “wrest” and “force” God’s word; what would they have to wrest if it were not for the “established” Word of God? So those liberals who only shake and wrest the “established order.” They are all perverters, like those perverters of the law. Socrates recognized law, right; the Greeks constantly retained the authority of right and law. If with this recognition they wanted nevertheless to assert their advantage, every one his own, then they had to seek it in perversion of the law, or intrigue. Alcibiades, an intriguer of genius, introduces the period of Athenian “decay”; the Spartan Lysander and others show that intrigue had become universally Greek. Greek law, on which the Greek States rested, had to be perverted and undermined by the egoists within these States, and the States went down that the individuals might become free, the Greek people fell because the individuals cared less for this people than for themselves. In general, all States, constitutions, churches, have sunk by the secession of individuals; for the individual is the irreconcilable enemy of every generality, every tie, i.e. every fetter. Yet people fancy to this day that man needs “sacred ties”: he, the deadly enemy of every “tie.” The history of the world shows that no tie has yet remained unrent, shows that man tirelessly defends himself against ties of every sort; and yet, blinded, people think up new ties again and again, and think, e.g., that they have arrived at the right one if one puts upon them the tie of a so-called free constitution, a beautiful, constitutional tie; decoration ribbons, the ties of confidence between “— — —,” do seem gradually to have become somewhat infirm, but people have made no further progress than from apron-strings to garters and collars.
Everything sacred is a tie, a fetter.
Everything sacred is and must be perverted by perverters of the law; therefore our present time has multitudes of such perverters in all spheres. They are preparing the way for the break-up of law, for lawlessness.
Poor Athenians who are accused of pettifoggery and sophistry! poor Alcibiades, of intrigue! Why, that was just your best point, your first step in freedom. Your Æeschylus, Herodotus, etc., only wanted to have a free Greek people; you were the first to surmise something of your freedom.
A people represses those who tower above its majesty, by ostracism against too-powerful citizens, by the Inquisition against the heretics of the Church, by the — Inquisition against traitors in the State.
For the people is concerned only with its self-assertion; it demands “patriotic self-sacrifice” from everybody. To it, accordingly, every one in himself is indifferent, a nothing, and it cannot do, not even suffer, what the individual and he alone must do — to wit, turn him to account. Every people, every State, is unjust toward the egoist.
As long as there still exists even one institution which the individual may not dissolve, the ownness and self-appurtenance of Me is still very remote. How can I, e.g. be free when I must bind myself by oath to a constitution, a charter, a law, “vow body and soul” to my people? How can I be my own when my faculties may develop only so far as they “do not disturb the harmony of society” (Weitling)?
The fall of peoples and mankind will invite me to my rise.
Listen, even as I am writing this, the bells begin to sound, that they may jingle in for tomorrow the festival of the thousand years’ existence of our dear Germany. Sound, sound its knell! You do sound solemn enough, as if your tongue was moved by the presentiment that it is giving convoy to a corpse. The German people and German peoples have behind them a history of a thousand years: what a long life! O, go to rest, never to rise again — that all may become free whom you so long have held in fetters. — The people is dead. — Up with me!
O thou my much-tormented German people — what was thy torment? It was the torment of a thought that cannot create itself a body, the torment of a walking spirit that dissolves into nothing at every cock-crow and yet pines for deliverance and fulfillment. In me too thou hast lived long, thou dear — thought, thou dear — spook. Already I almost fancied I had found the word of thy deliverance, discovered flesh and bones for the wandering spirit; then I hear them sound, the bells that usher thee into eternal rest; then the last hope fades out, then the notes of the last love die away, then I depart from the desolate house of those who now are dead and enter at the door of the — living one:
For only he who is alive is in the right.
Farewell, thou dream of so many millions; farewell, thou who hast tyrannized over thy children for a thousand years!
Tomorrow they carry thee to the grave; soon thy sisters, the peoples, will follow thee. But, when they have all followed, then — — mankind is buried, and I am my own, I am the laughing heir!
* * *
The word Gesellschaft (society) has its origin in the word Sal (hall). If one hall encloses many persons, then the hall causes these persons to be in society. They are in society, and at most constitute a parlor-society by talking in the traditional forms of parlor speech. When it comes to real intercourse, this is to be regarded as independent of society: it may occur or be lacking, without altering the nature of what is named society. Those who are in the hall are a society even as mute persons, or when they put each other off solely with empty phrases of courtesy. Intercourse is mutuality, it is the action, the commercium, of individuals; society is only community of the hall, and even the statues of a museum-hall are in society, they are “grouped.” People are accustomed to say “they haben inne [“Occupy”; literally, “have within”] this hall in common,” but the case is rather that the hall has us inne or in it. So far the natural signification of the word society. In this it comes out that society is not generated by me and you, but by a third factor which makes associates out of us two, and that it is just this third factor that is the creative one, that which creates society.
Just so a prison society or prison companionship (those who enjoy the same prison). Here we already hit upon a third factor fuller of significance than was that merely local one, the hall. Prison no longer means a space only, but a space with express reference to its inhabitants: for it is a prison only through being destined for prisoners, without whom it would be a mere building. What gives a common stamp to those who are gathered in it? Evidently the prison, since it is only by means of the prison that they are prisoners. What, then, determines the manner of life of the prison society? The prison! What determines their intercourse? The prison too, perhaps? Certainly they can enter upon intercourse only as prisoners, i.e. only so far as the prison laws allow it; but that they themselves hold intercourse, I with you, this the prison cannot bring to pass; on the contrary, it must have an eye to guarding against such egoistic, purely personal intercourse (and only as such is it really intercourse between me and you). That we jointly execute a job, run a machine, effectuate anything in general — for this a prison will indeed provide; but that I forget that I am a prisoner, and engage in intercourse with you who likewise disregard it, brings danger to the prison, and not only cannot be caused by it, but must not even be permitted. For this reason the saintly and moral-minded French chamber decides to introduce solitary confinement, and other saints will do the like in order to cut off “demoralizing intercourse.” Imprisonment is the established and — sacred condition, to injure which no attempt must be made. The slightest push of that kind is punishable, as is every uprising against a sacred thing by which man is to be charmed and chained.
Like the hall, the prison does form a society, a companionship, a communion (e.g. communion of labor), but no intercourse, no reciprocity, no union. On the contrary, every union in the prison bears within it the dangerous seed of a “plot,” which under favorable circumstances might spring up and bear fruit.
Yet one does not usually enter the prison voluntarily, and seldom remains in it voluntarily either, but cherishes the egoistic desire for liberty. Here, therefore, it sooner becomes manifest that personal intercourse is in hostile relations to the prison society and tends to the dissolution of this very society, this joint incarceration.
Let us therefore look about for such communions as, it seems, we remain in gladly and voluntarily, without wanting to endanger them by our egoistic impulses.
As a communion of the required sort the family offers itself in the first place. Parents, husbands and wife, children, brothers and sisters, represent a whole or form a family, for the further widening of which the collateral relatives also may be made to serve if taken into account. The family is a true communion only when the law of the family, piety or family love, is observed by its members. A son to whom parents, brothers, and sisters have become indifferent has been a son; for, as the sonship no longer shows itself efficacious, it has no greater significance than the long-past connection of mother and child by the navel-string. That one has once lived in this bodily juncture cannot as a fact be undone; and so far one remains irrevocably this mother’s son and the brother of the rest of her children; but it would come to a lasting connection only by lasting piety, this spirit of the family. Individuals are members of a family in the full sense only when they make the persistence of the family their task; only as conservative do they keep aloof from doubting their basis, the family. To every member of the family one thing must be fixed and sacred — viz., the family itself, or, more expressively, piety. That the family is to persist remains to its member, so long as he keeps himself free from that egoism which is hostile to the family, an unassailable truth. In a word: — If the family is sacred, then nobody who belongs to it may secede from it; else he becomes a “criminal” against the family: he may never pursue an interest hostile to the family, e.g. form a misalliance. He who does this has “dishonored the family,” “put it to shame,” etc.
Now, if in an individual the egoistic impulse has not force enough, he complies and makes a marriage which suits the claims of the family, takes a rank which harmonizes with its position, etc.; in short, he “does honor to the family.”
If, on the contrary, the egoistic blood flows fierily enough in his veins, he prefers to become a “criminal” against the family and to throw off its laws.
Which of the two lies nearer my heart, the good of the family or my good? In innumerable cases both go peacefully together; the advantage of the family is at the same time mine, and vice versa. Then it is hard to decide whether I am thinking selfishly or for the common benefit, and perhaps I complacently flatter myself with my unselfishness. But there comes the day when a necessity of choice makes me tremble, when I have it in mind to dishonor my family tree, to affront parents, brothers, and kindred. What then? Now it will appear how I am disposed at the bottom of my heart; now it will be revealed whether piety ever stood above egoism for me, now the selfish one can no longer skulk behind the semblance of unselfishness. A wish rises in my soul, and, growing from hour to hour, becomes a passion. To whom does it occur at first blush that the slightest thought which may result adversely to the spirit of the family (piety) bears within it a transgression against this? Nay, who at once, in the first moment, becomes completely conscious of the matter? It happens so with Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” The unruly passion can at last no longer be tamed, and undermines the building of piety. You will say, indeed, it is from self-will that the family casts out of its bosom those wilful ones that grant more of a hearing to their passion than to piety; the good Protestants used the same excuse with much success against the Catholics, and believed in it themselves. But it is just a subterfuge to roll the fault off oneself, nothing more. The Catholics had regard for the common bond of the church, and thrust those heretics from them only because these did not have so much regard for the bond of the church as to sacrifice their convictions to it; the former, therefore, held the bond fast, because the bond, the Catholic (i.e. common and united) church, was sacred to them; the latter, on the contrary, disregarded the bond. Just so those who lack piety. They are not thrust out, but thrust themselves out, prizing their passion, their wilfulness, higher than the bond of the family.
But now sometimes a wish glimmers in a less passionate and wilful heart than Juliet’s. The pliable girl brings herself as a sacrifice to the peace of the family. One might say that here too selfishness prevailed, for the decision came from the feeling that the pliable girl felt herself more satisfied by the unity of the family than by the fulfillment of her wish. That might be; but what if there remained a sure sign that egoism had been sacrificed to piety? What if, even after the wish that had been directed against the peace of the family was sacrificed, it remained at least as a recollection of a “sacrifice” brought to a sacred tie? What if the pliable girl were conscious of having left her self-will unsatisfied and humbly subjected herself to a higher power? Subjected and sacrificed, because the superstition of piety exercised its dominion over her!
There egoism won, here piety wins and the egoistic heart bleeds; there egoism was strong, here it was — weak. But the weak, as we have long known, are the — unselfish. For them, for these its weak members, the family cares, because they belong to the family, do not belong to themselves and care for themselves. This weakness Hegel, e.g. praises when he wants to have match- making left to the choice of the parents.
As a sacred communion to which, among the rest, the individual owes obedience, the family has the judicial function too vested in it; such a “family court” is described e.g. in the Cabanis of Wilibald Alexis. There the father, in the name of the “family council,” puts the intractable son among the soldiers and thrusts him out of the family, in order to cleanse the smirched family again by means of this act of punishment. — The most consistent development of family responsibility is contained in Chinese law, according to which the whole family has to expiate the individual’s fault.
Today, however, the arm of family power seldom reaches far enough to take seriously in hand the punishment of apostates (in most cases the State protects even against disinheritance). The criminal against the family (family-criminal) flees into the domain of the State and is free, as the State-criminal who gets away to America is no longer reached by the punishments of his State. He who has shamed his family, the graceless son, is protected against the family’s punishment because the State, this protecting lord, takes away from family punishment its “sacredness” and profanes it, decreeing that it is only —“revenge”: it restrains punishment, this sacred family right, because before its, the State’s, “sacredness” the subordinate sacredness of the family always pales and loses its sanctity as soon as it comes in conflict with this higher sacredness. Without the conflict, the State lets pass the lesser sacredness of the family; but in the opposite case it even commands crime against the family, charging, e.g., the son to refuse obedience to his parents as soon as they want to beguile him to a crime against the State.
Well, the egoist has broken the ties of the family and found in the State a lord to shelter him against the grievously affronted spirit of the family. But where has he run now? Straight into a new society, in which his egoism is awaited by the same snares and nets that it has just escaped. For the State is likewise a society, not a union; it is the broadened family (“Father of the Country — Mother of the Country — children of the country”).
* * *
What is called a State is a tissue and plexus of dependence and adherence; it is a belonging together, a holding together, in which those who are placed together fit themselves to each other, or, in short, mutually depend on each other: it is the order of this dependence. Suppose the king, whose authority lends authority to all down to the beadle, should vanish: still all in whom the will for order was awake would keep order erect against the disorders of bestiality. If disorder were victorious, the State would be at an end.
But is this thought of love, to fit ourselves to each other, to adhere to each other and depend on each other, really capable of winning us? According to this the State should be love realized, the being for each other and living for each other of all. Is not self-will being lost while we attend to the will for order? Will people not be satisfied when order is cared for by authority, i.e. when authority sees to it that no one “gets in the way of” another; when, then, the herd is judiciously distributed or ordered? Why, then everything is in “the best order,” and it is this best order that is called — State!
Our societies and States are without our making them, are united without our uniting, are predestined and established, or have an independent standing of their own, are the indissolubly established against us egoists. The fight of the world today is, as it is said, directed against the “established.” Yet people are wont to misunderstand this as if it were only that what is now established was to be exchanged for another, a better, established system. But war might rather be declared against establishment itself, the State, not a particular State, not any such thing as the mere condition of the State at the time; it is not another State (e.g. a “people’s State”) that men aim at, but their union, uniting, this ever-fluid uniting of everything standing. — A State exists even without my co-operation: I am born in it, brought up in it, under obligations to it, and must “do it homage.”[huldigen] It takes me up into its “favor,”[Huld] and I live by its “grace.” Thus the independent establishment of the State founds my lack of independence; its condition as a “natural growth,” its organism, demands that my nature do not grow freely, but be cut to fit it. That it may be able to unfold in natural growth, it applies to me the shears of “civilization”; it gives me an education and culture adapted to it, not to me, and teaches me e.g.to respect the laws, to refrain from injury to State property (i.e. private property), to reverence divine and earthly highness, etc.; in short, it teaches me to be — unpunishable, “sacrificing” my ownness to “sacredness” (everything possible is sacred; e.g. property, others’ life, etc.). In this consists the sort of civilization and culture that the State is able to give me: it brings me up to be a “serviceable instrument,” a “serviceable member of society.”
This every State must do, the people’s State as well as the absolute or constitutional one. It must do so as long as we rest in the error that it is an I, as which it then applies to itself the name of a “moral, mystical, or political person.” I, who really am I, must pull off this lion-skin of the I from the stalking thistle-eater. What manifold robbery have I not put up with in the history of the world! There I let sun, moon, and stars, cats and crocodiles, receive the honor of ranking as I; there Jehovah, Allah, and Our Father came and were invested with the I; there families, tribes, peoples, and at last actually mankind, came and were honored as I’s; there the Church, the State, came with the pretension to be I — and I gazed calmly on all. What wonder if then there was always a real I too that joined the company and affirmed in my face that it was not my you but my real I. Why, the Son of Man par excellencehad done the like; why should not a son of man do it too? So I saw my I always above me and outside me, and could never really come to myself.
I never believed in myself; I never believed in my present, I saw myself only in the future. The boy believes he will be a proper I, a proper fellow, only when he has become a man; the man thinks, only in the other world will he be something proper. And, to enter more closely upon reality at once, even the best are today still persuading each other that one must have received into himself the State, his people, mankind, and what not, in order to be a real I, a “free burgher,” a “citizen,” a “free or true man”; they too see the truth and reality of me in the reception of an alien I and devotion to it. And what sort of an I? An I that is neither an I nor a you, a fancied I, a spook.
While in the Middle Ages the church could well brook many States living united in it, the States learned after the Reformation, especially after the Thirty Years’ War, to tolerate many churches (confessions) gathering under one crown. But all States are religious and, as the case may be, “Christian States,” and make it their task to force the intractable, the “egoists,” under the bond of the unnatural, e.g., Christianize them. All arrangements of the Christian State have the object of Christianizing the people. Thus the court has the object of forcing people to justice, the school that of forcing them to mental culture — in short, the object of protecting those who act Christianly against those who act un-Christianly, of bringing Christian action to dominion, of making it powerful. Among these means of force the State counted the Church too, it demanded a — particular religion from everybody. Dupin said lately against the clergy, “Instruction and education belong to the State.”
Certainly everything that regards the principle of morality is a State affair. Hence it is that the Chinese State meddles so much in family concerns, and one is nothing there if one is not first of all a good child to his parents. Family concerns are altogether State concerns with us too, only that our State — puts confidence in the families without painful oversight; it holds the family bound by the marriage tie, and this tie cannot be broken without it.
But that the State makes me responsible for my principles, and demands certain ones from me, might make me ask, what concern has it with the “wheel in my head” (principle)? Very much, for the State is the — ruling principle. It is supposed that in divorce matters, in marriage law in general, the question is of the proportion of rights between Church and States. Rather, the question is of whether anything sacred is to rule over man, be it called faith or ethical law (morality). The State behaves as the same ruler that the Church was. The latter rests on godliness, the former on morality.
People talk of the tolerance, the leaving opposite tendencies free, etc., by which civilized States are distinguished. Certainly some are strong enough to look with complacency on even the most unrestrained meetings, while others charge their catchpolls to go hunting for tobacco-pipes. Yet for one State as for another the play of individuals among themselves, their buzzing to and fro, their daily life, is an incident which it must be content to leave to themselves because it can do nothing with this. Many, indeed, still strain out gnats and swallow camels, while others are shrewder. Individuals are “freer” in the latter, because less pestered. But I am free in no State. The lauded tolerance of States is simply a tolerating of the “harmless,” the “not dangerous”; it is only elevation above pettymindedness, only a more estimable, grander, prouder — despotism. A certain State seemed for a while to mean to be pretty well elevated above literary combats, which might be carried on with all heat; England is elevated above popular turmoil and — tobacco-smoking. But woe to the literature that deals blows at the State itself, woe to the mobs that “endanger” the State. In that certain State they dream of a “free science,” in England of a “free popular life.”
The State does let individuals play as freely as possible, only they must not be in earnest, must not forget it. Man must not carry on intercourse with man unconcernedly, not without “superior oversight and mediation.” I must not execute all that I am able to, but only so much as the State allows; I must not turn to account my thoughts, nor my work, nor, in general, anything of mine.
The State always has the sole purpose to limit, tame, subordinate, the individual — to make him subject to some generality or other; it lasts only so long as the individual is not all in all, and it is only the clearly-marked restriction of me, my limitation, my slavery. Never does a State aim to bring in the free activity of individuals, but always that which is bound to the purpose of the State. Through the State nothing in common comes to pass either, as little as one can call a piece of cloth the common work of all the individual parts of a machine; it is rather the work of the whole machine as a unit, machine work. In the same style everything is done by the State machine too; for it moves the clockwork of the individual minds, none of which follow their own impulse. The State seeks to hinder every free activity by its censorship, its supervision, its police, and holds this hindering to be its duty, because it is in truth a duty of self-preservation. The State wants to make something out of man, therefore there live in it only made men; every one who wants to be his own self is its opponent and is nothing. “He is nothing” means as much as, the State does not make use of him, grants him no position, no office, no trade, etc.
Edgar Bauer, in the Liberale Bestrebungen (vol. II, p.50), is still dreaming of a “government which, proceeding out of the people, can never stand in opposition to it.” He does indeed (p.69) himself take back the word “government”: “In the republic no government at all obtains, but only an executive authority. An authority which proceeds purely and alone out of the people; which has not an independent power, independent principles, independent officers, over against the people; but which has its foundation, the fountain of its power and of its principles, in the sole, supreme authority of the State, in the people. The concept government, therefore, is not at all suitable in the people’s State.” But the thing remains the same. That which has “proceeded, been founded, sprung from the fountain” becomes something “independent” and, like a child delivered from the womb, enters upon opposition at once. The government, if it were nothing independent and opposing, would be nothing at all.
“In the free State there is no government,” etc. (p.94). This surely means that the people, when it is the sovereign, does not let itself be conducted by a superior authority. Is it perchance different in absolute monarchy? Is there there for the sovereign, perchance, a government standing over him? Overthe sovereign, be he called prince or people, there never stands a government: that is understood of itself. But over me there will stand a government in every “State,” in the absolute as well as in the republican or “free.” I am as badly off in one as in the other.
The republic is nothing whatever but — absolute monarchy; for it makes no difference whether the monarch is called prince or people, both being a “majesty.” Constitutionalism itself proves that nobody is able and willing to be only an instrument. The ministers domineer over their master the prince, the deputies over their master the people. Here, then, the parties at least are already free — videlicet, the office-holders’ party (so-called people’s party). The prince must conform to the will of the ministers, the people dance to the pipe of the chambers. Constitutionalism is further than the republic, because it is the State in incipient dissolution.
Edgar Bauer denies (p.56) that the people is a “personality” in the constitutional State; per contra, then, in the republic? Well, in the constitutional State the people is — a party, and a party is surely a “personality” if one is once resolved to talk of a “political” (p.76) moral person anyhow. The fact is that a moral person, be it called people’s party or people or even “the Lord,” is in no wise a person, but a spook.
Further, Edgar Bauer goes on (p.69): “guardianship is the characteristic of a government.” Truly, still more that of a people and “people’s State”; it is the characteristic of all dominion. A people’s State, which “unites in itself all completeness of power,” the “absolute master,” cannot let me become powerful. And what a chimera, to be no longer willing to call the “people’s officials” “servants, instruments,” because they “execute the free, rational law-will of the people!” (p.73). He thinks (p.74): “Only by all official circles subordinating themselves to the government’s views can unity be brought into the State”; but his “people’s State” is to have “unity” too; how will a lack of subordination be allowed there? subordination to the — people’s will.
“In the constitutional State it is the regent and his disposition that the whole structure of government rests on in the end.” (p. 130.) How would that be otherwise in the “people’s State”? Shall I not there be governed by the people’s disposition too, and does it make a difference for me whether I see myself kept in dependence by the prince’s disposition or by the people’s disposition, so-called “public opinion”? If dependence means as much as “religious relation,” as Edgar Bauer rightly alleges, then in the people’s State the people remains for me the superior power, the “majesty” (for God and prince have their proper essence in “majesty”) to which I stand in religious relations. — Like the sovereign regent, the sovereign people too would be reached by no law. Edgar Bauer’s whole attempt comes to a change of masters. Instead of wanting to make the people free, he should have had his mind on the sole realizable freedom, his own.
In the constitutional State absolutism itself has at last come in conflict with itself, as it has been shattered into a duality; the government wants to be absolute, and the people wants to be absolute. These two absolutes will wear out against each other.
Edgar Bauer inveighs against the determination of the regent by birth, by chance. But, when “the people” have become “the sole power in the State” (p. 132), have we not then in it a master from chance? Why, what is the people? The people has always been only the body of the government: it is many under one hat (a prince’s hat) or many under one constitution. And the constitution is the — prince. Princes and peoples will persist so long as both do not collapse, i. e., fall together. If under one constitution there are many “peoples” — as in the ancient Persian monarchy and today —then these “peoples” rank only as “provinces.” For me the people is in any case an —accidental power, a force of nature, an enemy that I must overcome.
What is one to think of under the name of an “organized” people (p. 132)? A people “that no longer has a government,” that governs itself. In which, therefore, no ego stands out prominently; a people organized by ostracism. The banishment of egos, ostracism, makes the people autocrat.
If you speak of the people, you must speak of the prince; for the people, if it is to be a subject and make history, must, like everything that acts, have a head, its “supreme head.” Weitling sets this forth in [Die Europäische] Triarchie, and Proudhon declares, “une société, pour ainsi dire acéphale, ne peut vivre.”
The vox populi is now always held up to us, and “public opinion” is to rule our princes. Certainly the vox populi is at the same time vox dei; but is either of any use, and is not the vox principis also vox dei?
At this point the “Nationals” may be brought to mind. To demand of the thirty-eight States of Germany that they shall act as one nation can only be put alongside the senseless desire that thirty-eight swarms of bees, led by thirty-eight queen-bees, shall unite themselves into one swarm. Bees they all remain; but it is not the bees as bees that belong together and can join themselves together, it is only that the subject bees are connected with the ruling queens. Bees and peoples are destitute of will, and the instinct of their queens leads them.
If one were to point the bees to their beehood, in which at any rate they are all equal to each other, one would be doing the same thing that they are now doing so stormily in pointing the Germans to their Germanhood. Why, Germanhood is just like beehood in this very thing, that it bears in itself the necessity of cleavages and separations, yet without pushing on to the last separation, where, with the complete carrying through of the process of separating, its end appears: I mean, to the separation of man from man. Germanhood does indeed divide itself into different peoples and tribes, i.e.beehives; but the individual who has the quality of being a German is still as powerless as the isolated bee. And yet only individuals can enter into union with each other, and all alliances and leagues of peoples are and remain mechanical compoundings, because those who come together, at least so far as the “peoples” are regarded as the ones that have come together, are destitute of will. Only with the last separation does separation itself end and change to unification.
Now the Nationals are exerting themselves to set up the abstract, lifeless unity of beehood; but the self-owned are going to fight for the unity willed by their own will, for union. This is the token of all reactionary wishes, that they want to set up something general, abstract, an empty, lifeless concept, in distinction from which the self-owned aspire to relieve the robust, lively particular from the trashy burden of generalities. The reactionaries would be glad to smite a people, a nation, forth from the earth; the self-owned have before their eyes only themselves. In essentials the two efforts that are just now the order of the day — to wit, the restoration of provincial rights and of the old tribal divisions (Franks, Bavarians, Lusatia, etc.), and the restoration of the entire nationality — coincide in one. But the Germans will come into unison, i.e. unite themselves, only when they knock over their beehood as well as all the beehives; in other words, when they are more than — Germans: only then can they form a “German Union.” They must not want to turn back into their nationality, into the womb, in order to be born again, but let every one turn in to himself. How ridiculously sentimental when one German grasps another’s hand and presses it with sacred awe because “he too is a German!” With that he is something great! But this will certainly still be thought touching as long as people are enthusiastic for “brotherliness,” i.e. as long as they have a “family disposition”. From the superstition of “piety,” from “brotherliness” or “childlikeness” or however else the soft-hearted piety-phrases run — from the family spirit — the Nationals, who want to have a great family of Germans, cannot liberate themselves.
Aside from this, the so-called Nationals would only have to understand themselves rightly in order to lift themselves out of their juncture with the good-natured Teutomaniacs. For the uniting for material ends and interests, which they demand of the Germans, comes to nothing else than a voluntary union. Carrière, inspired, cries out, “Railroads are to the more penetrating eye the way to a life of the people e.g. has not yet anywhere appeared in such significance.” Quite right, it will be a life of the people that has nowhere appeared, because it is not a — life of the people. — So Carrière then combats himself (p. 10): “Pure humanity or manhood cannot be better represented than by a people fulfilling its mission.” Why, by this nationality only is represented. “Washed-out generality is lower than the form complete in itself, which is itself a whole, and lives as a living member of the truly general, the organized.” Why, the people is this very “washed-out generality,” and it is only a man that is the “form complete in itself.”
The impersonality of what they call “people, nation,” is clear also from this: that a people which wants to bring its I into view to the best of its power puts at its head the ruler without will. It finds itself in the alternative either to be subjected to a prince who realizes only himself, his individual pleasure — then it does not recognize in the “absolute master” its own will, the so-called will of the people — or to seat on the throne a prince who gives effect to no will of his own — then it has a prince without will, whose place some ingenious clockwork would perhaps fill just as well. — Therefore insight need go only a step farther; then it becomes clear of itself that the I of the people is an impersonal, “spiritual” power, the — law. The people’s I, therefore, is a — spook, not an I. I am I only by this, that I make myself; i.e. that it is not another who makes me, but I must be my own work. But how is it with this I of the people? Chance plays it into the people’s hand, chance gives it this or that born lord, accidents procure it the chosen one; he is not its (the “sovereign” people’s) product, as I am my product. Conceive of one wanting to talk you into believing that you were not your I, but Tom or Jack was your I! But so it is with the people, and rightly. For the people has an I as little as the eleven planets counted together have an I, though they revolve around a common center.
Bailly’s utterance is representative of the slave-disposition that folks manifest before the sovereign people, as before the prince. “I have,” says he, “no longer any extra reason when the general reason has pronounced itself. My first law was the nation’s will; as soon as it had assembled I knew nothing beyond its sovereign will.” He would have no “extra reason,” and yet this extra reason alone accomplishes everything. Just so Mirabeau inveighs in the words, “No power on earth has the right to say to the nation’s representatives, It is my will!”
As with the Greeks, there is now a wish to make man a zoon politicon, a citizen of the State or political man. So he ranked for a long time as a “citizen of heaven.” But the Greek fell into ignominy along with his State, the citizen of heaven likewise falls with heaven; we, on the other hand, are not willing to go down along with the people, the nation and nationality, not willing to be merely political men or politicians. Since the Revolution they have striven to “make the people happy,” and in making the people happy, great, etc., they make us unhappy: the people’s good hap is — my mishap.
What empty talk the political liberals utter with emphatic decorum is well seen again in Nauwerck’s “On Taking Part in the State”. There complaint is made of those who are indifferent and do not take part, who are not in the full sense citizens, and the author speaks as if one could not be man at all if one did not take a lively part in State affairs, i.e. if one were not a politician. In this he is right; for, if the State ranks as the warder of everything “human,” we can have nothing human without taking part in it. But what does this make out against the egoist? Nothing at all, because the egoist is to himself the warder of the human, and has nothing to say to the State except “Get out of my sunshine.” Only when the State comes in contact with his ownness does the egoist take an active interest in it. If the condition of the State does not bear hard on the closet-philosopher, is he to occupy himself with it because it is his “most sacred duty?” So long as the State does according to his wish, what need has he to look up from his studies? Let those who from an interest of their own want to have conditions otherwise busy themselves with them. Not now, nor evermore, will “sacred duty” bring folks to reflect about the State — as little as they become disciples of science, artists, etc., from “sacred duty.” Egoism alone can impel them to it, and will as soon as things have become much worse. If you showed folks that their egoism demanded that they busy themselves with State affairs, you would not have to call on them long; if, on the other hand, you appeal to their love of fatherland etc., you will long preach to deaf hearts in behalf of this “service of love.” Certainly, in your sense the egoists will not participate in State affairs at all.
Nauwerck utters a genuine liberal phrase on p. 16: “Man completely fulfills his calling only in feeling and knowing himself as a member of humanity, and being active as such. The individual cannot realize the idea of manhood if he does not stay himself upon all humanity, if he does not draw his powers from it like Antaeus.”
In the same place it is said: “Man’s relation to the res publica is degraded to a purely private matter by the theological view; is, accordingly, made away with by denial.” As if the political view did otherwise with religion! There religion is a “private matter.”
If, instead of “sacred duty,” “man’s destiny,” the “calling to full manhood,” and similar commandments, it were held up to people that their self-interestwas infringed on when they let everything in the State go as it goes, then, without declamations, they would be addressed as one will have to address them at the decisive moment if he wants to attain his end. Instead of this, the theology-hating author says, “If there has ever been a time when the State laid claim to all that are hers, such a time is ours. — The thinking man sees in participation in the theory and practice of the State a duty, one of the most sacred duties that rest upon him” — and then takes under closer consideration the “unconditional necessity that everybody participate in the State.”
He in whose head or heart or both the State is seated, he who is possessed by the State, or the believer in the State, is a politician, and remains such to all eternity.
“The State is the most necessary means for the complete development of mankind.” It assuredly has been so as long as we wanted to develop mankind; but, if we want to develop ourselves, it can be to us only a means of hindrance.
Can State and people still be reformed and bettered now? As little as the nobility, the clergy, the church, etc.: they can be abrogated, annihilated, done away with, not reformed. Can I change a piece of nonsense into sense by reforming it, or must I drop it outright?
Henceforth what is to be done is no longer about the State (the form of the State, etc.), but about me. With this all questions about the prince’s power, the constitution, etc., sink into their true abyss and their true nothingness. I, this nothing, shall put forth my creations from myself.
* * *
To the chapter of society belongs also “the party,” whose praise has of late been sung.
In the State the party is current. “Party, party, who should not join one!” But the individual is unique,[einzig] not a member of the party. He unites freely, and separates freely again. The party is nothing but a State in the State, and in this smaller bee- State “peace” is also to rule just as in the greater. The very people who cry loudest that there must be an opposition in the State inveigh against every discord in the party. A proof that they too want only a —State. All parties are shattered not against the State, but against the ego.[am Einzigen]
One hears nothing oftener now than the admonition to remain true to his party; party men despise nothing so much as a mugwump. One must run with his party through thick and thin, and unconditionally approve and represent its chief principles. It does not indeed go quite so badly here as with closed societies, because these bind their members to fixed laws or statutes (e.g. the orders, the Society of Jesus, etc.). But yet the party ceases to be a union at the same moment at which it makes certain principles binding and wants to have them assured against attacks; but this moment is the very birth-act of the party. As party it is already a born society, a dead union, an idea that has become fixed. As party of absolutism it cannot will that its members should doubt the irrefragable truth of this principle; they could cherish this doubt only if they were egoistic enough to want still to be something outside their party, i.e. non-partisans. Non-partisans they cannot be as party-men, but only as egoists. If you are a Protestant and belong to that party, you must only justify Protestantism, at most “purge” it, not reject it; if you are a Christian and belong among men to the Christian party, you cannot be beyond this as a member of this party, but only when your egoism, i.e. non-partisanship, impels you to it. What exertions the Christians, down to Hegel and the Communists, have put forth to make their party strong! They stuck to it that Christianity must contain the eternal truth, and that one needs only to get at it, make sure of it, and justify it.
In short, the party cannot bear non-partisanship, and it is in this that egoism appears. What matters the party to me? I shall find enough anyhow who unite with me without swearing allegiance to my flag.
He who passes over from one party to another is at once abused as a “turncoat.” Certainly morality demands that one stand by his party, and to become apostate from it is to spot oneself with the stain of “faithlessness”; but ownness knows no commandment of “faithlessness”; adhesion, etc., ownness permits everything, even apostasy, defection. Unconsciously even the moral themselves let themselves be led by this principle when they have to judge one who passes over to their party — nay, they are likely to be making proselytes; they should only at the same time acquire a consciousness of the fact that one must commit immoral actions in order to commit his own — i.e. here, that one must break faith, yes, even his oath, in order to determine himself instead of being determined by moral considerations. In the eyes of people of strict moral judgment an apostate always shimmers in equivocal colors, and will not easily obtain their confidence; for there sticks to him the taint of “faithlessness,” i.e. of an immorality. In the lower man this view is found almost generally; advanced thinkers fall here too, as always, into an uncertainty and bewilderment, and the contradiction necessarily founded in the principle of morality does not, on account of the confusion of their concepts, come clearly to their consciousness. They do not venture to call the apostate downright immoral, because they themselves entice to apostasy, to defection from one religion to another, etc.; still, they cannot give up the standpoint of morality either. And yet here the occasion was to be seized to step outside of morality.
Are the Own or Unique [Einzigen] perchance a party? How could they be own if they were e.g. belonged to a party?
Or is one to hold with no party? In the very act of joining them and entering their circle one forms a union with them that lasts as long as party and I pursue one and the same goal. But today I still share the party’s tendency, as by tomorrow I can do so no longer and I become “untrue” to it. The party has nothing binding (obligatory) for me, and I do not have respect for it; if it no longer pleases me, I become its foe.
In every party that cares for itself and its persistence, the members are unfree (or better, unown) in that degree, they lack egoism in that degree, in which they serve this desire of the party. The independence of the party conditions the lack of independence in the party-members.
A party, of whatever kind it may be, can never do without a confession of faith. For those who belong to the party must believe in its principle, it must not be brought in doubt or put in question by them, it must be the certain, indubitable thing for the party-member. That is: One must belong to a party body and soul, else one is not truly a party-man, but more or less — an egoist. Harbor a doubt of Christianity, and you are already no longer a true Christian, you have lifted yourself to the “effrontery” of putting a question beyond it and haling Christianity before your egoistic judgment-seat. You have — sinned against Christianity, this party cause (for it is surely not e.g. a cause for the Jews, another party.) But well for you if you do not let yourself be affrighted: your effrontery helps you to ownness.
So then an egoist could never embrace a party or take up with a party? Oh, yes, only he cannot let himself be embraced and taken up by the party. For him the party remains all the time nothing but a gathering: he is one of the party, he takes part.
* * *
The best State will clearly be that which has the most loyal citizens, and the more the devoted mind for legality is lost, so much the more will the State, this system of morality, this moral life itself, be diminished in force and quality. With the “good citizens” the good State too perishes and dissolves into anarchy and lawlessness. “Respect for the law!” By this cement the total of the State is held together. “The law is sacred, and he who affronts it a criminal”. Without crime no State: the moral world — and this the State is — is crammed full of scamps, cheats, liars, thieves, etc. Since the State is the “lordship of law,” its hierarchy, it follows that the egoist, in all cases where his advantage runs against the State’s, can satisfy himself only by crime.
The State cannot give up the claim that its laws and ordinances are sacred.[heilig] At this the individual ranks as the unholy [unheilig] (barbarian, natural man, “egoist”) over against the State, exactly as he was once regarded by the Church; before the individual the State takes on the nimbus of a saint.[Heiliger] Thus it issues a law against dueling. Two men who are both at one in this, that they are willing to stake their life for a cause (no matter what), are not to be allowed this, because the State will not have it: it imposes a penalty on it. Where is the liberty of self-determination then? It is at once quite another situation if, as e.g. in North America, society determines to let the duelists bear certain evil consequences of their act, e.g. withdrawal of the credit hitherto enjoyed. To refuse credit is everybody’s affair, and, if a society wants to withdraw it for this or that reason, the man who is hit cannot therefore complain of encroachment on his liberty: the society is simply availing itself of its own liberty. That is no penalty for sin, no penalty for a crime. The duel is no crime there, but only an act against which the society adopts counter-measures, resolves on a defense. The State, on the contrary, stamps the duel as a crime, i.e. as an injury to its sacred law: it makes it a criminal case. The society leaves it to the individual’s decision whether he will draw upon himself evil consequences and inconveniences by his mode of action, and hereby recognizes his free decision; the State behaves in exactly the reverse way, denying all right to the individual’s decision and, instead, ascribing the sole right to its own decision, the law of the State, so that he who transgresses the State’s commandment is looked upon as if he were acting against God’s commandment — a view which likewise was once maintained by the Church. Here God is the Holy in and of himself, and the commandments of the Church, as of the State, are the commandments of this Holy One, which he transmits to the world through his anointed and Lords-by-the-Grace-of-God. If the Church had deadly sins, the State has capital crimes; if the one had heretics, the other has traitors; the one ecclesiastical penalties, the other criminal penalties; the one inquisitorial processes, the other fiscal; in short, there sins, here crimes, there inquisition and here — inquisition. Will the sanctity of the State not fall like the Church’s? The awe of its laws, the reverence for its highness, the humility of its “subjects,” will this remain? Will the “saint’s” face not be stripped of its adornment?
What a folly, to ask of the State’s authority that it should enter into an honourable fight with the individual, and, as they express themselves in the matter of freedom of the press, share sun and wind equally! If the State, this thought, is to be a de facto power, it simply must be a superior power against the individual. The State is “sacred” and must not expose itself to the “impudent attacks” of individuals. If the State is sacred, there must be censorship. The political liberals admit the former and dispute the inference. But in any case they concede repressive measures to it, for — they stick to this, that State is more than the individual and exercises a justified revenge, called punishment.
Punishment has a meaning only when it is to afford expiation for the injuring of a sacred thing. If something is sacred to any one, he certainly deserves punishment when he acts as its enemy. A man who lets a man’s life continue in existence because to him it is sacred and he has a dread of touching it is simply a — religious man.
Weitling lays crime at the door of “social disorder,” and lives in the expectation that under Communistic arrangements crimes will become impossible, because the temptations to them, e.g. money, fall away. As, however, his organized society is also exalted into a sacred and inviolable one, he miscalculates in that good-hearted opinion. e.g. with their mouth professed allegiance to the Communistic society, but worked underhand for its ruin, would not be lacking. Besides, Weitling has to keep on with “curative means against the natural remainder of human diseases and weaknesses,” and “curative means” always announce to begin with that individuals will be looked upon as “called” to a particular “salvation” and hence treated according to the requirements of this “human calling.” Curative means or healing is only the reverse side of punishment, the theory of cure runs parallel with the theory of punishment; if the latter sees in an action a sin against right, the former takes it for a sin of the man against himself, as a decadence from his health. But the correct thing is that I regard it either as an action that suits me or as one that does not suit me, as hostile or friendly to me, i.e. that I treat it as my property, which I cherish or demolish. “Crime” or “disease” are not either of them an egoistic view of the matter, i.e. a judgment starting from me, but starting from another — to wit, whether it injures right, general right, or the health partly of the individual (the sick one), partly of the generality (society). “Crime” is treated inexorably, “disease” with “loving gentleness, compassion,” etc.
Punishment follows crime. If crime falls because the sacred vanishes, punishment must not less be drawn into its fall; for it too has significance only over against something sacred. Ecclesiastical punishments have been abolished. Why? Because how one behaves toward the “holy God” is his own affair. But, as this one punishment, ecclesiastical punishment, has fallen, so all punishments must fall. As sin against the so-called God is a man’s own affair, so is that against every kind of the so-called sacred. According to our theories of penal law, with whose “improvement in conformity to the times” people are tormenting themselves in vain, they want to punish men for this or that “inhumanity”; and therein they make the silliness of these theories especially plain by their consistency, hanging the little thieves and letting the big ones run. For injury to property they have the house of correction, and for “violence to thought,” suppression of “natural rights of man,” only —representations and petitions.
The criminal code has continued existence only through the sacred, and perishes of itself if punishment is given up. Now they want to create everywhere a new penal law, without indulging in a misgiving about punishment itself. But it is exactly punishment that must make room for satisfaction, which, again, cannot aim at satisfying right or justice, but at procuring us a satisfactory outcome. If one does to us what we will not put up with, we break his power and bring our own to bear: we satisfy ourselves on him, and do not fall into the folly of wanting to satisfy right (the spook). It is not the sacred that is to defend itself against man, but man against man; as God too, you know, no longer defends himself against man, God to whom formerly (and in part, indeed, even now) all the “servants of God” offered their hands to punish the blasphemer, as they still at this very day lend their hands to the sacred. This devotion to the sacred brings it to pass also that, without lively participation of one’s own, one only delivers misdoers into the hands of the police and courts: a non-participating making over to the authorities, “who, of course, will best administer sacred matters.” The people is quite crazy for hounding the police on against everything that seems to it to be immoral, often only unseemly, and this popular rage for the moral protects the police institution more than the government could in any way protect it.
In crime the egoist has hitherto asserted himself and mocked at the sacred; the break with the sacred, or rather of the sacred, may become general. A revolution never returns, but a mighty, reckless, shameless, conscienceless. proud —crime, does it not rumble in distant thunders, and do you not see how the sky grows presciently silent and gloomy?
* * *
He who refuses to spend his powers for such limited societies as family, party, nation, is still always longing for a worthier society, and thinks he has found the true object of love, perhaps, in “human society” or “mankind,” to sacrifice himself to which constitutes his honor; from now on he “lives for and serves mankind.”
People is the name of the body, State of the spirit, of that ruling person that has hitherto suppressed me. Some have wanted to transfigure peoples and States by broadening them out to “mankind” and “general reason”; but servitude would only become still more intense with this widening, and philanthropists and humanitarians are as absolute masters as politicians and diplomats.
Modern critics inveigh against religion because it sets God, the divine, moral, etc., outside of man, or makes them something objective, in opposition to which the critics rather transfer these very subjects into man. But those critics none the less fall into the proper error of religion, to give man a “destiny,” in that they too want to have him divine, human, and the like: morality, freedom and humanity, etc., are his essence. And, like religion politics too wanted to “educate” man, to bring him to the realization of his “essence,” his “destiny,” to make something out of him — to wit, a “true man,” the one in the form of the “true believer,” the other in that of the “true citizen or subject.” In fact, it comes to the same whether one calls the destiny the divine or human.
Under religion and politics man finds himself at the standpoint of should: he should become this and that, should be so and so. With this postulate, this commandment, every one steps not only in front of another but also in front of himself. Those critics say: You should be a whole, free man. Thus they too stand in the temptation to proclaim a new religion, to set up a new absolute, an ideal — to wit, freedom. Men should be free. Then there might even arise missionaries of freedom, as Christianity, in the conviction that all were properly destined to become Christians, sent out missionaries of the faith. Freedom would then (as have hitherto faith as Church, morality as State) constitute itself as a new community and carry on a like “propaganda” therefrom. Certainly no objection can be raised against a getting together; but so much the more must one oppose every renewal of the old care for us, of culture directed toward an end — in short, the principle of making something out of us, no matter whether Christians, subjects, or freemen and men.
One may well say with Feuerbach and others that religion has displaced the human from man, and has transferred it so into another world that, unattainable, it went on with its own existence there as something personal in itself, as a “God”: but the error of religion is by no means exhausted with this. One might very well let fall the personality of the displaced human, might transform God into the divine, and still remain religious. For the religious consists in discontent with the present men, in the setting up of a “perfection” to be striven for, in “man wrestling for his completion.” (“Ye therefore should be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” Matt. 5, 48): it consists in the fixation of an ideal, an absolute. Perfection is the “supreme good,” the finis bonorum; every one’s ideal is the perfect man, the true, the free man, etc.
The efforts of modern times aim to set up the ideal of the “free man.” If one could find it, there would be a new — religion, because a new ideal; there would be a new longing, a new torment, a new devotion, a new deity, a new contrition.
With the ideal of “absolute liberty,” the same turmoil is made as with everything absolute, and according to Hess, e.g., it is said to “be realizable in absolute human society.” Nay, this realization is immediately afterward styled a “vocation”; just so he then defines liberty as “morality”: the kingdom of “justice” (equality) and “morality” (i.e. liberty) is to begin, etc.
Ridiculous is he who, while fellows of his tribe, family, nation, rank high, is — nothing but “puffed up” over the merit of his fellows; but blinded too is he who wants only to be “man.” Neither of them puts his worth in exclusiveness, but in connectedness, or in the “tie” that conjoins him with others, in the ties of blood, of nationality, of humanity.
Through the “Nationals” of today the conflict has again been stirred up between those who think themselves to have merely human blood and human ties of blood, and the others who brag of their special blood and the special ties of blood.
If we disregard the fact that pride may mean conceit, and take it for consciousness alone, there is found to be a vast difference between pride in “belonging to” a nation and therefore being its property, and that in calling a nationality one’s property. Nationality is my quality, but the nation my owner and mistress. If you have bodily strength, you can apply it at a suitable place and have a self-consciousness or pride of it; if, on the contrary, your strong body has you, then it pricks you everywhere, and at the most unsuitable place, to show its strength: you can give nobody your hand without squeezing his.
The perception that one is more than a member of the family, more than a fellow of the tribe, more than an individual of the people, has finally led to saying, one is more than all this because one is man, or, the man is more than the Jew, German, etc. “Therefore be every one wholly and solely — man.” Could one not rather say: Because we are more than what has been stated, therefore we will be this, as well as that “more” also? Man and Germans, then, man and Guelph, etc.? The Nationals are in the right; one cannot deny his nationality: and the humanitarians are in the right; one must not remain in the narrowness of the national. In uniqueness [Einzigkeit] the contradiction is solved; the national is my quality. But I am not swallowed up in my quality — as the human too is my quality, but I give to man his existence first through my uniqueness.
History seeks for Man: but he is I, you, we. Sought as a mysterious essence, as the divine, first as God, then as Man (humanity, humaneness, and mankind), he is found as the individual, the finite, the unique one.
I am owner of humanity, am humanity, and do nothing for the good of another humanity. Fool, you who are a unique humanity, that you make a merit of wanting to live for another than you are.
The hitherto-considered relation of me to the world of men offers such a wealth of phenomena that it will have to be taken up again and again on other occasions, but here, where it was only to have its chief outlines made clear to the eye, it must be broken off to make place for an apprehension of two other sides toward which it radiates. For, as I find myself in relation not merely to men so far as they present in themselves the concept “man” or are children of men (children of Man, as children of God are spoken of), but also to that which they have of man and call their own, and as therefore I relate myself not only to that which they are through man, but also to their human possessions: so, besides the world of men, the world of the senses and of ideas will have to be included in our survey, and somewhat said of what men call their own of sensuous goods, and of spiritual as well.
According as one had developed and clearly grasped the concept of man, he gave it to us to respect as this or that person of respect, and from the broadest understanding of this concept there proceeded at last the command “to respect Man in every one.” But if I respect Man, my respect must likewise extend to the human, or what is Man’s.
Men have somewhat of their own, and I am to recognize this own and hold it sacred. Their own consists partly in outward, partly in inward possessions. The former are things, the latter spiritualities, thoughts, convictions, noble feelings, etc. But I am always to respect only rightful or human possessions: the wrongful and unhuman I need not spare, for only Man’s own is men’s real own. An inward possession of this sort is, e.g., religion; because religionis free, i. e. is Man’s, I must not strike at it. Just so honor is an inward possession; it is free and must not be struck at my me. (Action for insult, caricatures, etc.) Religion and honor are “spiritual property.” In tangible property the person stands foremost: my person is my first property. Hence freedom of the person; but only the rightful or human person is free, the other is locked up. Your life is your property; but it is sacred for men only if it is not that of an inhuman monster.
What a man as such cannot defend of bodily goods, we may take from him: this is the meaning of competition, of freedom of occupation. What he cannot defend of spiritual goods falls a prey to us likewise: so far goes the liberty of discussion, of science, of criticism.
But consecrated goods are inviolable. Consecrated and guarantied by whom? Proximately by the State, society, but properly by man or the “concept,” the “concept of the thing”; for the concept of consecrated goods is this, that they are truly human, or rather that the holder possesses them as man and not as un-man.
On the spiritual side man’s faith is such goods, his honor, his moral feeling — yes, his feeling of decency, modesty, etc. Actions (speeches, writings) that touch honor are punishable; attacks on “the foundations of all religion”; attacks on political faith; in short, attacks on everything that a man “rightly” has.
How far critical liberalism would extend the sanctity of goods — on this point it has not yet made any pronouncement, and doubtless fancies itself to be ill-disposed toward all sanctity; but, as it combats egoism, it must set limits to it, and must not let the un-man pounce on the human. To its theoretical contempt for the “masses” there must correspond a practical snub if it should get into power.
What extension the concept “man” receives, and what comes to the individual man through it — what, therefore, man and the human are — on this point the various grades of liberalism differ, and the political, the social, the humane man are each always claiming more than the other for “man.” He who has best grasped this concept knows best what is “man’s.” The State still grasps this concept in political restriction, society in social; mankind, so it is said, is the first to comprehend it entirely, or “the history of mankind develops it.” But, if “man is discovered,” then we know also what pertains to man as his own, man’s property, the human.
But let the individual man lay claim to ever so many rights because Man or the concept man “entitles” him to them, because his being man does it: what do I care for his right and his claim? If he has his right only from Man and does not have it from me, then for me he has no right. His life, e.g., counts to me only for what it is worth to me. I respect neither a so-called right of property (or his claim to tangible goods) nor yet his right to the “sanctuary of his inner nature” (or his right to have the spiritual goods and divinities, his gods, remain un-aggrieved). His goods, the sensuous as well as the spiritual, are mine, and I dispose of them as proprietor, in the measure of my — might.
In the property question lies a broader meaning than the limited statement of the question allows to be brought out. Referred solely to what men call our possessions, it is capable of no solution; the decision is to be found in him “from whom we have everything.” Property depends on the owner.
The Revolution directed its weapons against everything which came “from the grace of God,” e.g., against divine right, in whose place the human was confirmed. To that which is granted by the grace of God, there is opposed that which is derived “from the essence of man.”
Now, as men’s relation to each other, in opposition to the religious dogma which commands a “Love one another for God’s sake,” had to receive its human position by a “Love each other for man’s sake,” so the revolutionary teaching could not do otherwise than, first, as to what concerns the relation of men to the things of this world, settle it that the world, which hitherto was arranged according to God’s ordinance, henceforth belongs to “Man.”
The world belongs to “Man,” and is to be respected by me as his property.
Property is what is mine!
Property in the civic sense means sacred property, such that I must respect your property. “Respect for property!” Hence the politicians would like to have every one possess his little bit of property, and they have in part brought about an incredible parcellation by this effort. Each must have his bone on which he may find something to bite.
The position of affairs is different in the egoistic sense. I do not step shyly back from your property, but look upon it always as my property, in which I need to “respect” nothing. Pray do the like with what you call my property!
With this view we shall most easily come to an understanding with each other.
The political liberals are anxious that, if possible, all servitudes be dissolved, and every one be free lord on his ground, even if this ground has only so much area as can have its requirements adequately filled by the manure of one person. (The farmer in the story married even in his old age “that he might profit by his wife’s dung.”) Be it ever so little, if one only has somewhat of his own — to wit, a respected property! The more such owners, such cotters, the more “free people and good patriots” has the State.
Political liberalism, like everything religious, counts on respect, humaneness, the virtues of love. Therefore does it live in incessant vexation. For in practice people respect nothing, and every day the small possessions are bought up again by greater proprietors, and the “free people” change into day- laborers.
If, on the contrary, the “small proprietors” had reflected that the great property was also theirs, they would not have respectfully shut themselves out from it, and would not have been shut out.
Property as the civic liberals understand it deserves the attacks of the Communists and Proudhon: it is untenable, because the civic proprietor is in truth nothing but a property-less man, one who is everywhere shut out. Instead of owning the world, as he might, he does not own even the paltry point on which he turns around.
Proudhon wants not the propriétaire but the possesseur or usufruitier. What does that mean? He wants no one to own the land; but the benefit of it — even though one were allowed only the hundredth part of this benefit, this fruit — is at any rate one’s property, which he can dispose of at will. He who has only the benefit of a field is assuredly not the proprietor of it; still less he who, as Proudhon would have it, must give up so much of this benefit as is not required for his wants; but he is the proprietor of the share that is left him. Proudhon, therefore, denies only such and such property, not property itself. If we want no longer to leave the land to the landed proprietors, but to appropriate it to ourselves, we unite ourselves to this end, form a union, a société, that makes itself proprietor; if we have good luck in this, then those persons cease to be landed proprietors. And, as from the land, so we can drive them out of many another property yet, in order to make it our property, the property of the — conquerors. The conquerors form a society which one may imagine so great that it by degrees embraces all humanity; but so-called humanity too is as such only a thought (spook); the individuals are its reality. And these individuals as a collective (mass will treat land and earth not less arbitrarily than an isolated individual or so-called propriétaire. Even so, therefore, property remains standing, and that as exclusive” too, in that humanity, this great society, excludes the individual from its property (perhaps only leases to him, gives his as a fief, a piece of it) as it besides excludes everything that is not humanity, e.g. does not allow animals to have property. — So too it will remain, and will grow to be. That in which all want to have a share will be withdrawn from that individual who wants to have it for himself alone: it is made a common estate. As a common estate every one has his share in it, and this share is his property. Why, so in our old relations a house which belongs to five heirs is their common estate; but the fifth part of the revenue is, each one’s property. Proudhon might spare his prolix pathos if he said: “There are some things that belong only to a few, and to which we others will from now on lay claim or — siege. Let us take them, because one comes to property by taking, and the property of which for the present we are still deprived came to the proprietors likewise only by taking. It can be utilized better if it is in the hands of us all than if the few control it. Let us therefore associate ourselves for the purpose of this robbery (vol).” — Instead of this, he tries to get us to believe that society is the original possessor and the sole proprietor, of imprescriptible right; against it the so-called proprietors have become thieves (La propriété c’est le vol); if it now deprives of his property the present proprietor, it robs him of nothing, as it is only availing itself of its imprescriptible right. — So far one comes with the spook of society as a moral person. On the contrary, what man can obtain belongs to him: the world belongs to me. Do you say anything else by your opposite proposition? “The world belongs to all”? All are I and again I, etc. But you make out of the “all” a spook, and make it sacred, so that then the “all” become the individual’s fearful master. Then the ghost of “right” places itself on their side.
Proudhon, like the Communists, fights against egoism. Therefore they are continuations and consistent carryings-out of the Christian principle, the principle of love, of sacrifice for something general, something alien. They complete in property, e.g., only what has long been extant as a matter of fact — to wit, the propertylessness of the individual. When the laws says, Ad reges potestas omnium pertinet, ad singulos proprietas; omnia rex imperio possidet, singuli dominio, this means: The king is proprietor, for he alone can control and dispose of “everything,” he has potestas and imperium over it. The Communists make this clearer, transferring that imperium to the “society of all.” Therefore: Because enemies of egoism, they are on that account — Christians, or, more generally speaking, religious men, believers in ghosts, dependents, servants of some generality (God, society, etc.). In this too Proudhon is like the Christians, that he ascribes to God that which he denies to men. He names him (e.g. page 90) the Propriétaire of the earth. Herewith he proves that he cannot think away the proprietor as such; he comes to a proprietor at last, but removes him to the other world.
Neither God nor Man (“human society”) is proprietor, but the individual.
* * *
Proudhon (Weitling too) thinks he is telling the worst about property when he calls it theft (vol). Passing quite over the embarrassing question, what well-founded objection could be made against theft, we only ask: Is the concept “theft” at all possible unless one allows validity to the concept “property”? How can one steal if property is not already extant? What belongs to no one cannot be stolen; the water that one draws out of the sea he does not steal. Accordingly property is not theft, but a theft becomes possible only through property. Weitling has to come to this too, as he does regard everything as the property of all: if something is “the property of all,” then indeed the individual who appropriates it to himself steals.
Private property lives by grace of the law. Only in the law has it its warrant — for possession is not yet property, it becomes “mine” only by assent of the law; it is not a fact, not un fait as Proudhon thinks, but a fiction, a thought. This is legal property, legitimate property, guarantied property. It is mine not through me but through the — law.
Nevertheless, property is the expression for unlimited dominion over somewhat (thing, beast, man) which “I can judge and dispose of as seems good to me.” According to Roman law, indeed, jus utendi et abutendi re sua, quatenus juris ratio patitur, an exclusive and unlimited right; but property is conditioned by might. What I have in my power, that is my own. So long as I assert myself as holder, I am the proprietor of the thing; if it gets away from me again, no matter by what power, e.g. through my recognition of a title of others to the thing — then the property is extinct. Thus property and possession coincide. It is not a right lying outside my might that legitimizes me, but solely my might: if I no longer have this, the thing vanishes away from me. When the Romans no longer had any might against the Germans, the world-empire of Rome belonged to the latter, and it would sound ridiculous to insist that the Romans had nevertheless remained properly the proprietors. Whoever knows how to take and to defend the thing, to him it belongs till it is again taken from him, as liberty belongs to him who takes it.—
Only might decides about property, and, as the State (no matter whether State or well-to-do citizens or of ragamuffins or of men in the absolute) is the sole mighty one, it alone is proprietor; I, the unique,[Einzige] have nothing, and am only enfeoffed, am vassal and as such, servitor. Under the dominion of the State there is no property of mine.
I want to raise the value of myself, the value of ownness, and should I cheapen property? No, as I was not respected hitherto because people, mankind, and a thousand other generalities were put higher, so property too has to this day not yet been recognized in its full value. Property too was only the property of a ghost, e.g. the people’s property; my whole existence “belonged to the fatherland”; I belonged to the fatherland, the people, the State, and therefore also everything that I called my own. It is demanded of States that they make away with pauperism. It seems to me this is asking that the State should cut off its own head and lay it at its feet; for so long as the State is the ego the individual ego must remain a poor devil, a non-ego. The State has an interest only in being itself rich; whether Michael is rich and Peter poor is alike to it; Peter might also be rich and Michael poor. It looks on indifferently as one grows poor and the other rich, unruffled by this alternation. As individuals they are really equal before its face; in this it is just: before it both of them are — nothing, as we “are altogether sinners before God”; on the other hand, it has a very great interest in this, that those individuals who make it their ego should have a part in its wealth; it makes them partakers in its property. Through property, with which it rewards the individuals, it tames them; but this remains its property, and every one has the usufruct of it only so long as he bears in himself the ego of the State, or is a “loyal member of society”; in the opposite case the property is confiscated, or made to melt away by vexatious lawsuits. The property, then, is and remains State property, not property of the ego. That the State does not arbitrarily deprive the individual of what he has from the State means simply that the State does not rob itself. He who is State-ego, i.e. a good citizen or subject, holds his fief undisturbed as such an ego, not as being an ego of his own. According to the code, property is what I call mine “by virtue of God and law.” But it is mine by virtue of God and law only so long as — the State has nothing against it.
In expropriations, disarmaments, etc. (as, when the exchequer confiscates inheritances if the heirs do not put in an appearance early enough) how plainly the else-veiled principle that only the people, “the State,” is proprietor, while the individual is feoffee, strikes the eye!
The State, I mean to say, cannot intend that anybody should for his own sake have property or actually be rich, nay, even well-to-do; it can acknowledge nothing, yield nothing, grant nothing to me as me. The State cannot check pauperism, because the poverty of possession is a poverty of me. He who is nothing but what chance or another — to wit, the State — makes out of him also has quite rightly nothing but what another gives him. And this other will give him only what he deserves, i.e. what he is worth by service. It is not he that realizes a value from himself; the State realizes a value from him.
National economy busies itself much with this subject. It lies far out beyond the “national,” however, and goes beyond the concepts and horizon of the State, which knows only State property and can distribute nothing else. For this reason it binds the possessions of property to conditions — as it binds everything to them, e.g. marriage, allowing validity only to the marriage sanctioned by it, and wresting this out of my power. But property is my property only when I hold it unconditionally : only I, an unconditional ego, have property, enter a relation of love, carry on free trade.
The State has no anxiety about me and mine, but about itself and its: I count for something to it only as its child, as “a son of the country”; as ego I am nothing at all for it. For the State’s understanding, what befalls me as ego is something accidental, my wealth as well as my impoverishment. But, if I with all that is mine am an accident in the State’s eyes, this proves that it cannot comprehend me: I go beyond its concepts, or, its understanding is too limited to comprehend me. Therefore it cannot do anything for me either.
Pauperism is the valuelessness of me, the phenomenon that I cannot realize value from myself. For this reason State and pauperism are one and the same. The State does not let me come to my value, and continues in existence only through my valuelessness: it is forever intent on getting benefitfrom me, i.e. exploiting me, turning me to account, using me up, even if the use it gets from me consists only in my supplying a proles (proletariat); it wants me to be “its creature.”
Pauperism can be removed only when I as ego realize value from myself, when I give my own self value, and make my price myself. I must rise in revolt to rise in the world.
What I produce, flour, linen, or iron and coal, which I toilsomely win from the earth, is my work that I want to realize value from. But then I may long complain that I am not paid for my work according to its value: the payer will not listen to me, and the State likewise will maintain an apathetic attitude so long as it does not think it must “appease” me that I may not break out with my dreaded might. But this “appeasing” will be all, and, if it comes into my head to ask for more, the State turns against me with all the force of its lion-paws and eagle-claws: for it is the king of beasts, it is lion and eagle. If I refuse to be content with the price that it fixes for my ware and labor, if I rather aspire to determine the price of my ware myself, e.g., “to pay myself,” in the first place I come into a conflict with the buyers of the ware. If this were stilled by a mutual understanding, the State would not readily make objections; for how individuals get along with each other troubles it little, so long as therein they do not get in its way. Its damage and its danger begin only when they do not agree, but, in the absence of a settlement, take each other by the hair. The State cannot endure that man stand in a direct relation to man; it must step between as —mediator, must — intervene. What Christ was, what the saints, the Church were, the State has become — to wit, “mediator.” It tears man from man to put itself between them as “spirit.” The laborers who ask for higher pay are treated as criminals as soon as they want to compel it. What are they to do? Without compulsion they don’t get it, and in compulsion the State sees a self-help, a determination of price by the ego, a genuine, free realization of value from his property, which it cannot admit of. What then are the laborers to do? Look to themselves and ask nothing about the State?
But, as is the situation with regard to my material work, so it is with my intellectual too. The State allows me to realize value from all my thoughts and to find customers for them (I do realize value from them, e.g. in the very fact that they bring me honor from the listeners, etc.); but only so long as mythoughts are —its thoughts. If, on the other hand, I harbor thoughts that it cannot approve (i.e. make its own), then it does not allow me at all to realize value from them, to bring them into exchange into commerce. My thoughts are free only if they are granted to me by the State’s grace, i.e. if they are the State’s thoughts. It lets me philosophize freely only so far as I approve myself a “philosopher of State”; against the State I must not philosophize, gladly as it tolerates my helping it out of its “deficiencies,” “furthering” it. — Therefore, as I may behave only as an ego most graciously permitted by the State, provided with its testimonial of legitimacy and police pass, so too it is not granted me to realize value from what is mine, unless this proves to be its, which I hold as fief from it. My ways must be its ways, else it distrains me; my thoughts its thoughts, else it stops my mouth.
The State has nothing to be more afraid of than the value of me, and nothing must it more carefully guard against than every occasion that offers itself to me for realizing value from myself. I am the deadly enemy of the State, which always hovers between the alternatives, it or I. Therefore it strictly insists not only on not letting me have a standing, but also on keeping down what is mine. In the State there is no property, i.e. no property of the individual, but only State property. Only through the State have I what I have, as I am only through it what I am. My private property is only that which the State leaves to me of its, cutting off others from it (depriving them, making it private); it is State property.
But, in opposition to the State, I feel more and more clearly that there is still left me a great might, the might over myself, i.e. over everything that pertains only to me and that exists only in being my own.
What do I do if my ways are no longer its ways, my thoughts no longer its thoughts? I look to myself, and ask nothing about it! In my thoughts, which I get sanctioned by no assent, grant, or grace, I have my real property, a property with which I can trade. For as mine they are my creatures, and I am in a position to give them away in return for other thoughts: I give them up and take in exchange for them others, which then are my new purchased property.
What then is my property? Nothing but what is in my power! To what property am I entitled? To every property to which I — empower myself.[A German idiom for “take upon myself,” “assume”] I give myself the right of property in taking property to myself, or giving myself the proprietor’s power, full power, empowerment.
Everything over which I have might that cannot be torn from me remains my property; well, then let might decide about property, and I will expect everything from my might! Alien might, might that I leave to another, makes me an owned slave: then let my own might make me an owner. Let me then withdraw the might that I have conceded to others out of ignorance regarding the strength of my own might! Let me say to myself, what my might reaches to is my property; and let me claim as property everything that I feel myself strong enough to attain, and let me extend my actual property as far as I entitle, i. e. — empower, myself to take.
Here egoism, selfishness, must decide; not the principle of love, not love-motives like mercy, gentleness, good-nature, or even justice and equity (for justitia too is a phenomenon of — love, a product of love): love knows only sacrifices and demands “self-sacrifice.”
Egoism does not think of sacrificing anything, giving away anything that it wants; it simply decides, what I want I must have and will procure.
All attempts to enact rational laws about property have put out from the bay of love into a desolate sea of regulations. Even Socialism and Communism cannot be excepted from this. Every one is to be provided with adequate means, for which it is little to the point whether one socialistically finds them still in a personal property, or communistically draws them from the community of goods. The individual’s mind in this remains the same; it remains a mind of dependence. The distributing board of equity lets me have only what the sense of equity, its loving care for all, prescribes. For me, the individual, there lies no less of a check in collective wealth than in that of individual others; neither that is mine, nor this: whether the wealth belongs to the collectivity, which confers part of it on me, or to individual possessors, is for me the same constraint, as I cannot decide about either of the two. On the contrary, Communism, by the abolition of all personal property, only presses me back still more into dependence on another, viz., on the generality or collectivity; and, loudly as it always attacks the “State,” what it intends is itself again a State, a status, a condition hindering my free movement, a sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts against the pressure that I experience from individual proprietors; but still more horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity.
Egoism takes another way to root out the non-possessing rabble. It does not say: Wait for what the board of equity will — bestow on you in the name of the collectivity (for such bestowal took place in “States” from the most ancient times, each receiving “according to his desert,” and therefore according to the measure in which each was able to deserve it, to acquire it by service), but: Take hold, and take what you require! With this the war of all against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have.
“Now, that is truly no new wisdom, for self-seekers have acted so at all times!” Not at all necessary either that the thing be new, if only consciousnessof it is present. But this latter will not be able to claim great age, unless perhaps one counts in the Egyptian and Spartan law; for how little current it is appears even from the stricture above, which speaks with contempt of “self-seekers.” One is to know just this, that the procedure of taking hold is not contemptible, but manifests the pure deed of the egoist at one with himself.
Only when I expect neither from individuals nor from a collectivity what I can give to myself, only then do I slip out of the snares of —love; the rabble ceases to be rabble only when it takes hold. Only the dread of taking hold, and the corresponding punishment thereof, makes it a rabble. Only that taking hold is sin, crime — only this dogma creates a rabble. For the fact that the rabble remains what it is, it (because it allows validity to that dogma) is to blame as well as, more especially, those who “self-seekingly” (to give them back their favorite word) demand that the dogma be respected. In short, the lack of consciousness of that “new wisdom,” the old consciousness of sin, alone bears the blame.
If men reach the point of losing respect for property, every one will have property, as all slaves become free men as soon as they no longer respect the master as master. Unions will then, in this matter too, multiply the individual’s means and secure his assailed property.
According to the Communists’ opinion the commune should be proprietor. On the contrary, I am proprietor, and I only come to an understanding with others about my property. If the commune does not do what suits me, I rise against it and defend my property. I am proprietor, but property is not sacred. I should be merely possessor? No, hitherto one was only possessor, secured in the possession of a parcel by leaving others also in possession of a parcel; but now everything belongs to me, I am proprietor of everything that I require and can get possession of. If it is said socialistically, society gives me what I require — then the egoist says, I take what I require. If the Communists conduct themselves as ragamuffins, the egoist behaves as proprietor.
All swan-fraternities, and attempts at making the rabble happy, that spring from the principle of love, must miscarry. Only from egoism can the rabble get help, and this help it must give to itself and — will give to itself. If it does not let itself be coerced into fear, it is a power. “People would lose all respect if one did not coerce them into fear,” says bugbear Law in Der gestiefelte Kater.
Property, therefore, should not and cannot be abolished; it must rather be torn from ghostly hands and become my property; then the erroneous consciousness, that I cannot entitle myself to as much as I require, will vanish. —
“But what cannot man require!” Well, whoever requires much, and understands how to get it, has at all times helped himself to it, as Napoleon did with the Continent and France with Algiers. Hence the exact point is that the respectful “rabble” should learn at last to help itself to what it requires. If it reaches out too far for you, why, then defend yourselves. You have no need at all to good-heartedly — bestow anything on it; and, when it learns to know itself, it — or rather: whoever of the rabble learns to know himself, he — casts off the rabble-quality in refusing your alms with thanks. But it remains ridiculous that you declare the rabble “sinful and criminal” if it is not pleased to live from your favors because it can do something in its own favor. Your bestowals cheat it and put it off. Defend your property, then you will be strong; if, on the other hand, you want to retain your ability to bestow, and perhaps actually have the more political rights the more alms (poor-rates) you can give, this will work just as long as the recipients let you work it.
In short, the property question cannot be solved so amicably as the Socialists, yes, even the Communists, dream. It is solved only by the war of all against all. The poor become free and proprietors only when they — rise. Bestow ever so much on them, they will still always want more; for they want nothing less than that at last — nothing more be bestowed.
It will be asked, but how then will it be when the have- nots take heart? Of what sort is the settlement to be? One might as well ask that I cast a child’s nativity. What a slave will do as soon as he has broken his fetters, one must —await.
In Kaiser’s pamphlet, worthless for lack of form as well as substance (“Die Persönlichkeit des Eigentümers in Bezug auf den Socialismus und Communismus,” etc.), he hopes from the State that it will bring about a leveling of property. Always the State! Herr Papa! As the Church was proclaimed and looked upon as the “mother” of believers, so the State has altogether the face of the provident father.
* * *
Competition shows itself most strictly connected with the principle of civism. Is it anything else than equality (égalité)? And is not equality a product of that same Revolution which was brought on by the commonalty, the middle classes? As no one is barred from competing with all in the State (except the prince, because he represents the State itself) and working himself up to their height, yes, overthrowing or exploiting them for his own advantage, soaring above them and by stronger exertion depriving them of their favorable circumstances — this serves as a clear proof that before the State’s judgment-seat every one has only the value of a “simple individual” and may not count on any favoritism. Outrun and outbid each other as much as you like and can; that shall not trouble me, the State! Among yourselves you are free in competing, you are competitors; that is your social position. But before me, the State, you are nothing but “simple individuals”!
What in the form of principle or theory was propounded as the equality of all has found here in competition its realization and practical carrying out; for égalité is — free competition. All are, before the State —simple individuals; in society, or in relation to each other — competitors.
I need be nothing further than a simple individual to be able to compete with all others aside from the prince and his family: a freedom which formerly was made impossible by the fact that only by means of one’s corporation, and within it, did one enjoy any freedom of effort.
In the guild and feudality the State is in an intolerant and fastidious attitude, granting privileges; in competition and liberalism it is in a tolerant and indulgent attitude, granting only patents (letters assuring the applicant that the business stands open (patent) to him) or “concessions.” Now, as the State has thus left everything to the applicants, it must come in conflict with all, because each and all are entitled to make application. It will be “stormed,” and will go down in this storm.
Is “free competition” then really “free?” nay, is it really a “competition” — to wit, one of persons — as it gives itself out to be because on this title it bases its right? It originated, you know, in persons becoming free of all personal rule. Is a competition “free” which the State, this ruler in the civic principle, hems in by a thousand barriers? There is a rich manufacturer doing a brilliant business, and I should like to compete with him. “Go ahead,” says the State, “I have no objection to make to your person as competitor.” Yes, I reply, but for that I need a space for buildings, I need money! “That’s bad; but, if you have no money, you cannot compete. You must not take anything from anybody, for I protect property and grant it privileges.” Free competition is not “free,” because I lack the THINGS for competition. Against my person no objection can be made, but because I have not the things my person too must step to the rear. And who has the necessary things? Perhaps that manufacturer? Why, from him I could take them away! No, the State has them as property, the manufacturer only as fief, as possession.
But, since it is no use trying it with the manufacturer, I will compete with that professor of jurisprudence; the man is a booby, and I, who know a hundred times more than he, shall make his class-room empty. “Have you studied and graduated, friend?” No, but what of that? I understand abundantly what is necessary for instruction in that department. “Sorry, but competition is not ‘free’ here. Against your person there is nothing to be said, but the thing, the doctor’s diploma, is lacking. And this diploma I, the State, demand. Ask me for it respectfully first; then we will see what is to be done.”
This, therefore, is the “freedom” of competition. The State, my lord, first qualifies me to compete.
But do persons really compete? No, again things only! Moneys in the first place, etc.
In the rivalry one will always be left behind another (e.g. a poetaster behind a poet). But it makes a difference whether the means that the unlucky competitor lacks are personal or material, and likewise whether the material means can be won by personal energy or are to be obtained only by grace, only as a present; as when e.g. the poorer man must leave, i. e. present, to the rich man his riches. But, if I must all along wait for the State’s approvalto obtain or to use (e.g. in the case of graduation) the means, I have the means by the grace of the State.
Free competition, therefore, has only the following meaning: To the State all rank as its equal children, and every one can scud and run to earn the State’s goods and largesse. Therefore all do chase after havings, holdings, possessions (be it of money or offices, titles of honor, etc.), after the things.
In the mind of the commonalty every one is possessor or “owner.” Now, whence comes it that the most have in fact next to nothing? From this, that the most are already joyful over being possessors at all, even though it be of some rags, as children are joyful in their first trousers or even the first penny that is presented to them. More precisely, however, the matter is to be taken as follows. Liberalism came forward at once with the declaration that it belonged to man’s essence not to be property, but proprietor. As the consideration here was about “man,” not about the individual, the how-much (which formed exactly the point of the individual’s special interest) was left to him. Hence the individual’s egoism retained room for the freest play in this how- much, and carried on an indefatigable competition.
However, the lucky egoism had to become a snag in the way of the less fortunate, and the latter, still keeping its feet planted on the principle of humanity, put forward the question as to how-much of possession, and answered it to the effect that “man must have as much as he requires.”
Will it be possible for my egoism to let itself be satisfied with that? What “man” requires furnishes by no means a scale for measuring me and my needs; for I may have use for less or more. I must rather have so much as I am competent to appropriate.
Competition suffers from the unfavorable circumstance that the means for competing are not at every one’s command, because they are not taken from personality, but from accident. Most are without means, and for this reason without goods.
Hence the Socialists demand the means for all, and aim at a society that shall offer means. Your money value, say they, we no longer recognize as your “competence”; you must show another competence — to wit, your working force. In the possession of a property, or as “possessor,” man does certainly show himself as man; it was for this reason that we let the possessor, whom we called “proprietor,” keep his standing so long. Yet you possess the things only so long as you are not “put out of this property.”
The possessor is competent, but only so far as the others are incompetent. Since your ware forms your competence only so long as you are competent to defend it (i.e. as we are not competent to do anything with it), look about you for another competence; for we now, by our might, surpass your alleged competence.
It was an extraordinarily large gain made, when the point of being regarded as possessors was put through. Therein bondservice was abolished, and every one who till then had been bound to the lord’s service, and more or less had been his property, now became a “lord.” But henceforth your having, and what you have, are no longer adequate and no longer recognized; per contra, your working and your work rise in value. We now respect your subduing things, as we formerly did your possessing them. Your work is your competence! You are lord or possessor only of what comes by work, not by inheritance. But as at the time everything has come by inheritance, and every copper that you possess bears not a labor-stamp but an inheritance-stamp, everything must be melted over.
But is my work then really, as the Communists suppose, my sole competence? or does not this consist rather in everything that I am competent for? And does not the workers’ society itself have to concede this, e.g., in supporting also the sick, children, old men — in short, those who are incapable of work? These are still competent for a good deal, e.g. for instance, to preserve their life instead of taking it. If they are competent to cause you to desire their continued existence, they have a power over you. To him who exercised utterly no power over you, you would vouchsafe nothing; he might perish.
Therefore, what you are competent for is your competence! If you are competent to furnish pleasure to thousands, then thousands will pay you an honorarium for it; for it would stand in your power to forbear doing it, hence they must purchase your deed. If you are not competent to captivate any one, you may simply starve.
Now am I, who am competent for much, perchance to have no advantage over the less competent?
We are all in the midst of abundance; now shall I not help myself as well as I can, but only wait and see how much is left me in an equal division?
Against competition there rises up the principle of ragamuffin society — partition.
To be looked upon as a mere part, part of society, the individual cannot bear — because he is more; his uniqueness puts from it this limited conception.
Hence he does not await his competence from the sharing of others, and even in the workers’ society there arises the misgiving that in an equal partition the strong will be exploited by the weak; he awaits his competence rather from himself, and says now, what I am competent to have, that is my competence.
What competence does not the child possess in its smiling, its playing, its screaming! in short, in its mere existence! Are you capable of resisting its desire? Or do you not hold out to it, as mother, your breast; as father, as much of your possessions as it needs? It compels you, therefore it possesses what you call yours.
If your person is of consequence to me, you pay me with your very existence; if I am concerned only with one of your qualities, then your compliance, perhaps, or your aid, has a value (a money value) for me, and I purchase it.
If you do not know how to give yourself any other than a money value in my estimation, there may arise the case of which history tells us, that Germans, sons of the fatherland, were sold to America. Should those who let themselves to be traded in be worth more to the seller? He preferred the cash to this living ware that did not understand how to make itself precious to him. That he discovered nothing more valuable in it was assuredly a defect of his competence; but it takes a rogue to give more than he has. How should he show respect when he did not have it, nay, hardly could have it for such a pack!
You behave egoistically when you respect each other neither as possessors nor as ragamuffins or workers, but as a part of your competence, as “useful bodies”. Then you will neither give anything to the possessor (“proprietor”) for his possessions, nor to him who works, but only to him whom you require. The North Americans ask themselves, Do we require a king? and answer, Not a farthing are he and his work worth to us.
If it is said that competition throws every thing open to all, the expression is not accurate, and it is better put thus: competition makes everything purchasable. In abandoning [preisgeben] it to them, competition leaves it to their appraisal [Preis] or their estimation, and demands a price [Preis] for it.
But the would-be buyers mostly lack the means to make themselves buyers: they have no money. For money, then, the purchasable things are indeed to be had (“For money everything is to be had!”), but it is exactly money that is lacking. Where is one to get money, this current or circulating property? Know then, you have as much money [Geld] as you have — might; for you count [gelten] for as much as you make yourself count for.
One pays not with money, of which there may come a lack, but with his competence, by which alone we are “competent”;[Equivalent in ordinary German use to our “possessed of a competence”] for one is proprietor only so far as the arm of our power reaches.
Weitling has thought out a new means of payment — work. But the true means of payment remains, as always, competence. With what you have “within your competence” you pay. Therefore think on the enlargement of your competence.
This being admitted, they are nevertheless right on hand again with the motto, “To each according to his competence!” Who is to give to me according to my competence? Society? Then I should have to put up with its estimation. Rather, I shall take according to my competence.
“All belongs to all!” This proposition springs from the same unsubstantial theory. To each belongs only what he is competent for. If I say, The world belongs to me, properly that too is empty talk, which has a meaning only in so far as I respect no alien property. But to me belongs only as much as I am competent for, or have within my competence.
One is not worthy to have what one, through weakness, lets be taken from him; one is not worthy of it because one is not capable of it.
They raise a mighty uproar over the “wrong of a thousand years” which is being committed by the rich against the poor. As if the rich were to blame for poverty, and the poor were not in like manner responsible for riches! Is there another difference between the two than that of competence and incompetence, of the competent and incompetent? Wherein, pray, does the crime of the rich consist? “In their hardheartedness.” But who then have maintained the poor? Who have cared for their nourishment? Who have given alms, those alms that have even their name from mercy (eleemosyne)? Have not the rich been “merciful” at all times? Are they not to this day “tender-hearted,” as poor-taxes, hospitals, foundations of all sorts, etc., prove?
But all this does not satisfy you! Doubtless, then, they are to share with the poor? Now you are demanding that they shall abolish poverty. Aside from the point that there might be hardly one among you who would act so, and that this one would be a fool for it, do ask yourselves: why should the rich let go their fleeces and give up themselves, thereby pursuing the advantage of the poor rather than their own? You, who have your thaler daily, are rich above thousands who live on four groschen. Is it for your interest to share with the thousands, or is it not rather for theirs?
With competition is connected less the intention to do the thing best than the intention to make it as profitable, as productive, as possible. Hence people study to get into the civil service (pot-boiling study), study cringing and flattery, routine and “acquaintance with business,” work “for appearance.” Hence, while it is apparently a matter of doing “good service,” in truth only a “good business” and earning of money are looked out for. The job is done only ostensibly for the job’s sake, but in fact on account of the gain that it yields. One would indeed prefer not to be censor, but one wants to be — advanced; one would like to judge, administer, etc., according to his best convictions, but one is afraid of transference or even dismissal; one must, above all things — live.
Thus these goings-on are a fight for dear life, and, in gradation upward, for more or less of a “good living.”
And yet, withal, their whole round of toil and care brings in for most only “bitter life” and “bitter poverty.” All the bitter painstaking for this!
Restless acquisition does not let us take breath, take a calm enjoyment: we do not get the comfort of our possessions.
But the organization of labor touches only such labors as others can do for us, slaughtering, tillage, etc.; the rest remain egoistic, because no one can in your stead elaborate your musical compositions, carry out your projects of painting, etc.; nobody can replace Raphael’s labors. The latter are labors of a unique person,[Einzige] which only he is competent to achieve, while the former deserved to be called “human,” since what is anybody’s own in them is of slight account, and almost “any man” can be trained to it.
Now, as society can regard only labors for the common benefit, human labors, he who does anything unique remains without its care; nay, he may find himself disturbed by its intervention. The unique person will work himself forth out of society all right, but society brings forth no unique person.
Hence it is at any rate helpful that we come to an agreement about human labors, that they may not, as under competition, claim all our time and toil. So far Communism will bear its fruits. For before the dominion of the commonalty even that for which all men are qualified, or can be qualified, was tied up to a few and withheld from the rest: it was a privilege. To the commonalty it looked equitable to leave free all that seemed to exist for every “man.” But, because left [Literally, “given”] free, it was yet given to no one, but rather left to each to be got hold of by his human power. By this the mind was turned to the acquisition of the human, which henceforth beckoned to every one; and there arose a movement which one hears so loudly bemoaned under the name of “materialism.”
Communism seeks to check its course, spreading the belief that the human is not worth so much discomfort, and, with sensible arrangements, could be gained without the great expense of time and powers which has hitherto seemed requisite.
But for whom is time to be gained? For what does man require more time than is necessary to refresh his wearied powers of labor? Here Communism is silent.
For what? To take comfort in himself as the unique, after he has done his part as man!
In the first joy over being allowed to stretch out their hands toward everything human, people forgot to want anything else; and they competed away vigorously, as if the possession of the human were the goal of all our wishes.
But they have run themselves tired, and are gradually noticing that “possession does not give happiness.” Therefore they are thinking of obtaining the necessary by an easier bargain, and spending on it only so much time and toil as its indispensableness exacts. Riches fall in price, and contented poverty, the care-free ragamuffin, becomes the seductive ideal.
Should such human activities, that every one is confident of his capacity for, be highly salaried, and sought for with toil and expenditure of all life-forces? Even in the everyday form of speech, “If I were minister, or even the., then it should go quite otherwise,” that confidence expresses itself — that one holds himself capable of playing the part of such a dignitary; one does get a perception that to things of this sort there belongs not uniqueness, but only a culture which is attainable, even if not exactly by all, at any rate by many; i.e. that for such a thing one need only be an ordinary man.
If we assume that, as order belongs to the essence of the State, so subordination too is founded in its nature, then we see that the subordinates, or those who have received preferment, disproportionately overcharge and overreach those who are put in the lower ranks. But the latter take heart (first from the Socialist standpoint, but certainly with egoistic consciousness later, of which we will therefore at once give their speech some coloring) for the question, By what then is your property secure, you creatures of preferment? — and give themselves the answer, By our refraining from interference! And so by our protection! And what do you give us for it? Kicks and disdain you give to the “common people”; police supervision, and a catechism with the chief sentence “Respect what is not yours, what belongs to others! respect others, and especially your superiors!” But we reply, “If you want our respect, buy it for a price agreeable to us. We will leave you your property, if you give a due equivalent for this leaving.” Really, what equivalent does the general in time of peace give for the many thousands of his yearly income.? — another for the sheer hundred-thousands and millions yearly? What equivalent do you give for our chewing potatoes and looking calmly on while you swallow oysters? Only buy the oysters of us as dear as we have to buy the potatoes of you, then you may go on eating them. Or do you suppose the oysters do not belong to us as much as to you? You will make an outcry over violence if we reach out our hands and help consume them, and you are right. Without violence we do not get them, as you no less have them by doing violence to us.
But take the oysters and have done with it, and let us consider our nearer property, labor; for the other is only possession. We distress ourselves twelve hours in the sweat of our face, and you offer us a few groschen for it. Then take the like for your labor too. Are you not willing? You fancy that our labor is richly repaid with that wage, while yours on the other hands is worth a wage of many thousands. But, if you did not rate yours so high, and gave us a better chance to realize value from ours, then we might well, if the case demanded it, bring to pass still more important things than you do for the many thousand thalers; and, if you got only such wages as we, you would soon grow more industrious in order to receive more. But, if you render any service that seems to us worth ten and a hundred times more than our own labor, why, then you shall get a hundred times more for it too; we, on the other hand, think also to produce for you things for which you will requite us more highly than with the ordinary day’s wages. We shall be willing to get along with each other all right, if only we have first agreed on this — that neither any longer needs to — present anything to the other. Then we may perhaps actually go so far as to pay even the cripples and sick and old an appropriate price for not parting from us by hunger and want; for, if we want them to live, it is fitting also that we — purchase the fulfillment of our will. I say “purchase,” and therefore do not mean a wretched “alms.” For their life is the property even of those who cannot work; if we (no matter for what reason) want them not to withdraw this life from us, we can mean to bring this to pass only by purchase; nay, we shall perhaps (maybe because we like to have friendly faces about us) even want a life of comfort for them. In short, we want nothing presented by you, but neither will we present you with anything. For centuries we have handed alms to you from goodhearted — stupidity, have doled out the mite of the poor and given to the masters the things that are — not the masters’; now just open your wallet, for henceforth our ware rises in price quite enormously. We do not want to take from you anything, anything at all, only you are to pay better for what you want to have. What then have you? “I have an estate of a thousand acres.” And I am your plowman, and will henceforth attend to your fields only for one thaler a day wages. “Then I’ll take another.” You won’t find any, for we plowmen are no longer doing otherwise, and, if one puts in an appearance who takes less, then let him beware of us. There is the housemaid, she too is now demanding as much, and you will no longer find one below this price. “Why, then it is all over with me.” Not so fast! You will doubtless take in as much as we; and, if it should not be so, we will take off so much that you shall have wherewith to live like us. “But I am accustomed to live better.” We have nothing against that, but it is not our look-out; if you can clear more, go ahead. Are we to hire out under rates, that you may have a good living? The rich man always puts off the poor with the words, “What does your want concern me? See to it how you make your way through the world; that is your affair, not mine.” Well, let us let it be our affair, then, and let us not let the means that we have to realize value from ourselves be pilfered from us by the rich. “But you uncultured people really do not need so much.” Well, we are taking somewhat more in order that for it we may procure the culture that we perhaps need. “But, if you thus bring down the rich, who is then to support the arts and sciences hereafter?” Oh, well, we must make it up by numbers; we club together, that gives a nice little sum — besides, you rich men now buy only the most tasteless books and the most lamentable Madonnas or a pair of lively dancer’s legs. “O ill-starred equality!” No, my good old sir, nothing of equality. We only want to count for what we are worth, and, if you are worth more, you shall count for more right along. We only want to be worth our price, and think to show ourselves worth the price that you will pay.
Is the State likely to be able to awaken so secure a temper and so forceful a self-consciousness in the menial? Can it make man feel himself? Nay, may it even do so much as set this goal for itself? Can it want the individual to recognize his value and realize this value from himself? Let us keep the parts of the double question separate, and see first whether the State can bring about such a thing. As the unanimity of the plowmen is required, only this unanimity can bring it to pass, and a State law would be evaded in a thousand ways by competition and in secret. But can the State bear with it? The State cannot possibly bear with people’s suffering coercion from another than it; it could not, therefore, admit the self-help of the unanimous plowmen against those who want to engage for lower wages. Suppose, however, that the State made the law, and all the plowmen were in accord with it: could the State bear with it then?
In the isolated case — yes; but the isolated case is more than that, it is a case of principle. The question therein is of the whole range of the ego’s self-realization of value from himself, and therefore also of his self-consciousness against the State. So far the Communists keep company; but, as self-realization of value from self necessarily directs itself against the State, so it does against society too, and therewith reaches out beyond the commune and the communistic — out of egoism.
Communism makes the maxim of the commonalty, that every one is a possessor (“proprietor”), into an irrefragable truth, into a reality, since the anxiety about obtaining now ceases and every one has from the start what he requires. In his labor-force he has his competence, and, if he makes no use of it, that is his fault. The grasping and hounding is at an end, and no competition is left (as so often now) without fruit, because with every stroke of labor an adequate supply of the needful is brought into the house. Now for the first time one is a real possessor, because what one has in his labor-force can no longer escape from him as it was continually threatening to do under the system of competition. One is a care-free and assured possessor. And one is this precisely by seeking his competence no longer in a ware, but in his own labor, his competence for labor; and therefore by being a ragamuffin, a man of only ideal wealth. I, however, cannot content myself with the little that I scrape up by my competence for labor, because my competence does not consist merely in my labor.
By labor I can perform the official functions of a president, a minister, etc.; these offices demand only a general culture — to wit, such a culture as is generally attainable (for general culture is not merely that which every one has attained, but broadly that which every one can attain, and therefore every special culture, e.g. medical, military, philological, of which no “cultivated man” believes that they surpass his powers), or, broadly, only a skill possible to all.
But, even if these offices may vest in every one, yet it is only the individual’s unique force, peculiar to him alone. that gives them, so to speak, life and significance. That he does not manage his office like an “ordinary man.” but puts in the competence of his uniqueness, this he is not yet paid for when he is paid only in general as an official or a minister. If he has done it so as to earn your thanks, and you wish to retain this thank-worthy force of the unique one, you must not pay him like a mere man who performed only what was human, but as one who accomplishes what is unique. Do the like with your labor, do!
There cannot be a general schedule-price fixed for my uniqueness as there can for what I do as man. Only for the latter can a schedule-price be set.
Go right on, then, setting up a general appraisal for human labors, but do not deprive your uniqueness of its desert.
Human or general needs can be satisfied through society; for satisfaction of unique needs you must do some seeking. A friend and a friendly service, or even an individual’s service, society cannot procure you. And yet you will every moment be in need of such a service, and on the slightest occasions require somebody who is helpful to you. Therefore do not rely on society, but see to it that you have the wherewithal to — purchase the fulfillment of your wishes.
Whether money is to be retained among egoists? To the old stamp an inherited possession adheres. If you no longer let yourselves be paid with it, it is ruined: if you do nothing for this money, it loses all power. Cancel the inheritance, and you have broken off the executor’s court-seal. For now everything is an inheritance, whether it be already inherited or await its heir. If it is yours, wherefore do you let it be sealed up from you? Why do you respect the seal?
But why should you not create a new money? Do you then annihilate the ware in taking from it the hereditary stamp? Now, money is a ware, and an essential means or competence. For it protects against the ossification of resources, keeps them in flux and brings to pass their exchange. If you know a better medium of exchange, go ahead; yet it will be a “money” again. It is not the money that does you damage, but your incompetence to take it. Let your competence take effect, collect yourselves, and there will be no lack of money — of your money, the money of your stamp. But working I do not call “letting your competence take effect.” Those who are only “looking for work” and “willing to work hard” are preparing for their own selves the infallible upshot — to be out of work.
Good and bad luck depend on money. It is a power in the bourgeois period for this reason, that it is only wooed on all hands like a girl, indissolubly wedded by nobody. All the romance and chivalry of wooing for a dear object come to life again in competition. Money, an object of longing, is carried off by the bold “knights of industry.”[A German phrase for sharpers]
He who has luck takes home the bride. The ragamuffin has luck; he takes her into his household, “society,” and destroys the virgin. In his house she is no longer bride, but wife; and with her virginity her family name is also lost. As housewife the maiden Money is called “Labor,” for “Labor” is her husband’s name. She is a possession of her husband’s.
To bring this figure to an end, the child of Labor and Money is again a girl, an unwedded one and therefore Money but with the certain descent from Labor, her father. The form of the face, the “effigy,” bears another stamp.
Finally, as regards competition once more, it has a continued existence by this very means, that all do not attend to their affair and come to an understanding with each other about it. Bread e.g. is a need of all the inhabitants of a city; therefore they might easily agree on setting up a public bakery. Instead of this, they leave the furnishing of the needful to the competing bakers. Just so meat to the butchers, wine to wine-dealers, etc.
Abolishing competition is not equivalent to favoring the guild. The difference is this: In the guild baking, etc., is the affair of the guild-brothers; in competition, the affair of chance competitors; in the union, of those who require baked goods, and therefore my affair, yours, the affair of neither the guildic nor the concessionary baker, but the affair of the united.
If I do not trouble myself about my affair, I must be content with what it pleases others to vouchsafe me. To have bread is my affair, my wish and desire, and yet people leave that to the bakers and hope at most to obtain through their wrangling, their getting ahead of each other, their rivalry —in short, their competition — an advantage which one could not count on in the case of the guild-brothers who were lodged entirely and alone in the proprietorship of the baking franchise. — What every one requires, every one should also take a hand in procuring and producing; it is his affair, his property, not the property of the guildic or concessionary master.
Let us look back once more. The world belongs to the children of this world, the children of men; it is no longer God’s world, but man’s. As much as every man can procure of it, let him call his; only the true man, the State, human society or mankind, will look to it that each shall make nothing else his own than what he appropriates as man, i.e. in human fashion. Unhuman appropriation is that which is not consented to by man, i.e., it is a “criminal” appropriation, as the human, vice versa, is a “rightful” one, one acquired in the “way of law.”
So they talk since the Revolution.
But my property is not a thing, since this has an existence independent of me; only my might is my own. Not this tree, but my might or control over it, is what is mine.
Now, how is this might perversely expressed? They say I have a right to this tree, or it is my rightful property. So I have earned it by might. That the might must last in order that the tree may also be held — or better, that the might is not a thing existing of itself, but has existence solely in the mighty ego, in me the mighty — is forgotten. Might, like other of my qualities (e.g. humanity, majesty, etc.), is exalted to something existing of itself, so that it still exists long after it has ceased to be my might. Thus transformed into a ghost, might is — right. This eternalized might is not extinguished even with my death, but is transferred to “bequeathed.”
Things now really belong not to me, but to right.
On the other side, this is nothing but a hallucination of vision. For the individual’s might becomes permanent and a right only by others joining their might with his. The delusion consists in their believing that they cannot withdraw their might. The same phenomenon over again; might is separated from me. I cannot take back the might that I gave to the possessor. One has “granted power of attorney,” has given away his power, has renounced coming to a better mind.
The proprietor can give up his might and his right to a thing by giving the thing away, squandering it, etc. And we should not be able likewise to let go the might that we lend to him?
The rightful man, the just, desires to call nothing his own that he does not have “rightly” or have the right to, and therefore only legitimate property.
Now, who is to be judge, and adjudge his right to him? At last, surely, Man, who imparts to him the rights of man: then he can say, in an infinitely broader sense than Terence, humani nihil a me alienum puto, e.g., the human is my property. However he may go about it, so long as he occupies this standpoint he cannot get clear of a judge; and in our time the multifarious judges that had been selected have set themselves against each other in two persons at deadly enmity — to wit, in God and Man. The one party appeal to divine right, the other to human right or the rights of man.
So much is clear, that in neither case does the individual do the entitling himself.
Just pick me out an action today that would not be a violation of right! Every moment the rights of man are trampled under foot by one side, while their opponents cannot open their mouth without uttering a blasphemy against divine right. Give an alms, you mock at a right of man, because the relation of beggar and benefactor is an inhuman relation; utter a doubt, you sin against a divine right. Eat dry bread with contentment, you violate the right of man by your equanimity; eat it with discontent, you revile divine right by your repining. There is not one among you who does not commit a crime at every moment; your speeches are crimes, and every hindrance to your freedom of speech is no less a crime. Ye are criminals altogether!
Yet you are so only in that you all stand on the ground of right, i.e. in that you do not even know, and understand how to value, the fact that you are criminals.
Inviolable or sacred property has grown on this very ground: it is a juridical concept.
A dog sees the bone in another’s power, — and stands off only if it feels itself too weak. But man respects the other’s right to his bone. The latter action, therefore, ranks as human, the former as brutal or “egoistic.”
And as here, so in general, it is called “human” when one sees in everything something spiritual (here right), i.e. makes everything a ghost and takes his attitude toward it as toward a ghost, which one can indeed scare away at its appearance, but cannot kill. It is human to look at what is individual not as individual, but as a generality.
In nature as such I no longer respect anything, but know myself to be entitled to everything against it; in the tree in that garden, on the other hand, I must respect alienness (they say in one-sided fashion “property”), I must keep my hand off it. This comes to an end only when I can indeed leave that tree to another as I leave my stick. etc., to another, but do not in advance regard it as alien to me, i.e. sacred. Rather, I make to myself no crime of felling it if I will, and it remains my property, however long as I resign it to others: it is and remains mine. In the banker’s fortune I as little see anything alien as Napoleon did in the territories of kings: we have no dread of “conquering” it, and we look about us also for the means thereto. We strip off from it, therefore, the spirit of alienness, of which we had been afraid.
Therefore it is necessary that I do not lay claim to, anything more as man, but to everything as I, this I; and accordingly to nothing human, but to mine; i. e., nothing that pertains to me as man, but — what I will and because I will it.
Rightful, or legitimate, property of another will be only that which you are content to recognize as such. If your content ceases, then this property has lost legitimacy for you, and you will laugh at absolute right to it.
Besides the hitherto discussed property in the limited sense, there is held up to our reverent heart another property against which we are far less “to sin.” This property consists in spiritual goods, in the “sanctuary of the inner nature.” What a man holds sacred, no other is to gibe at; because, untrue as it may be, and zealously as one may “in loving and modest wise” seek to convince of a true sanctity the man who adheres to it and believes in it, yet the sacred itself is always to be honored in it: the mistaken man does believe in the sacred, even though in an incorrect essence of it, and so his belief in the sacred must at least be respected.
In ruder times than ours it was customary to demand a particular faith, and devotion to a particular sacred essence, and they did not take the gentlest way with those who believed otherwise; since, however, “freedom of belief” spread itself more and more abroad, the “jealous God and sole Lord” gradually melted into a pretty general “supreme being,” and it satisfied humane tolerance if only every one revered “something sacred.”
Reduced to the most human expression, this sacred essence is “man himself” and “the human.” With the deceptive semblance as if the human were altogether our own, and free from all the otherworldliness with which the divine is tainted — yes, as if Man were as much as I or you — there may arise even the proud fancy that the talk is no longer of a “sacred essence” and that we now feel ourselves everywhere at home and no longer in the uncanny,[Literally, “unhomely”] i.e. in the sacred and in sacred awe: in the ecstasy over “Man discovered at last” the egoistic cry of pain passes unheard, and the spook that has become so intimate is taken for our true ego.
But “Humanus is the saint’s name” (see Goethe), and the humane is only the most clarified sanctity.
The egoist makes the reverse declaration. For this precise reason, because you hold something sacred, I gibe at you; and, even if I respected everything in you, your sanctuary is precisely what I should not respect.
With these opposed views there must also be assumed a contradictory relation to spiritual goods: the egoist insults them, the religious man (i.e. every one who puts his “essence” above himself) must consistently — protect them. But what kind of spiritual goods are to be protected, and what left unprotected, depends entirely on the concept that one forms of the “supreme being”; and he who fears God, e.g., has more to shelter than he (the liberal) who fears Man.
In spiritual goods we are (in distinction from the sensuous) injured in a spiritual way, and the sin against them consists in a direct desecration, while against the sensuous a purloining or alienation takes place; the goods themselves are robbed of value and of consecration, not merely taken away; the sacred is immediately compromised. With the word “irreverence” or “flippancy” is designated everything that can be committed as crime against spiritual goods, i.e. against everything that is sacred for us; and scoffing, reviling, contempt, doubt, etc., are only different shades of criminal flippancy.
That desecration can be practiced in the most manifold way is here to be passed over, and only that desecration is to be preferentially mentioned which threatens the sacred with danger through an unrestricted press.
As long as respect is demanded even for one spiritual essence, speech and the press must be enthralled in the name of this essence; for just so long the egoist might “trespass” against it by his utterances, from which thing he must be hindered by “due punishment” at least, if one does not prefer to take up the more correct means against it, the preventive use of police authority, e.g. censorship.
What a sighing for liberty of the press! What then is the press to be liberated from? Surely from a dependence, a belonging, and a liability to service! But to liberate himself from that is every one’s affair, and it may with safety be assumed that, when you have delivered yourself from liability to service, that which you compose and write will also belong to you as your own instead of having been thought and indicted in the service of some power. What can a believer in Christ say and have printed, that should be freer from that belief in Christ than he himself is? If I cannot or may not write something, perhaps the primary fault lies with me. Little as this seems to hit the point, so near is the application nevertheless to be found. By a press-law I draw a boundary for my publications, or let one be drawn, beyond which wrong and its punishment follows. I myself limit myself.
If the press was to be free, nothing would be so important as precisely its liberation from every coercion that could be put on it in the name of a law. And, that it might come to that, I my own self should have to have absolved myself from obedience to the law.
Certainly, the absolute liberty of the press is like every absolute liberty, a nonentity. The press can become free from full many a thing, but always only from what I too am free from. If we make ourselves free from the sacred, if we have become graceless and lawless, our words too will become so.
As little as we can be declared clear of every coercion in the world, so little can our writing be withdrawn from it. But as free as we are, so free we can make it too.
It must therefore become our own, instead of, as hitherto, serving a spook.
People do not yet know what they mean by their cry for liberty of the press. What they ostensibly ask is that the State shall set the press free; but what they are really after, without knowing it themselves, is that the press become free from the State, or clear of the State. The former is a petition to the State, the latter an insurrection against the State. As a “petition for right,” even as a serious demanding of the right of liberty of the press, it presupposes the State as the giver, and can hope only for a present, a permission, a chartering. Possible, no doubt, that a State acts so senselessly as to grant the demanded present; but you may bet everything that those who receive the present will not know how to use it so long as they regard the State as a truth: they will not trespass against this “sacred thing,” and will call for a penal press-law against every one who would be willing to dare this.
In a word, the press does not become free from what I am not free from.
Do I perhaps hereby show myself an opponent of the liberty of the press? On the contrary, I only assert that one will never get it if one wants only it, the liberty of the press, i.e. if one sets out only for an unrestricted permission. Only beg right along for this permission: you may wait forever for it, for there is no one in the world who could give it to you. As long as you want to have yourselves “entitled” to the use of the press by a permission, i.e. liberty of the press, you live in vain hope and complaint.
“Nonsense! Why, you yourself, who harbor such thoughts as stand in your book, can unfortunately bring them to publicity only through a lucky chance or by stealth; nevertheless you will inveigh against one’s pressing and importuning his own State till it gives the refused permission to print?” But an author thus addressed would perhaps — for the impudence of such people goes far — give the following reply: “Consider well what you say! What then do I do to procure myself liberty of the press for my book? Do I ask for permission, or do I not rather, without any question of legality, seek a favorable occasion and grasp it in complete recklessness of the State and its wishes? I — the terrifying word must be uttered — I cheat the State. You unconsciously do the same. From your tribunes you talk it into the idea that it must give up its sanctity and inviolability, it must lay itself bare to the attacks of writers, without needing on that account to fear danger. But you are imposing on it; for its existence is done for as soon as it loses its unapproachableness. To you indeed it might well accord liberty of writing, as England has done; you are believers in the State and incapable of writing against the State, however much you would like to reform it and ‘remedy its defects.’ But what if opponents of the State availed themselves of free utterance, and stormed out against Church, State, morals, and everything ‘sacred’ with inexorable reasons? You would then be the first, in terrible agonies, to call into life the September laws. Too late would you then rue the stupidity that earlier made you so ready to fool and palaver into compliance the State, or the government of the State. — But, I prove by my act only two things. This for one, that the liberty of the press is always bound to ‘favorable opportunities,’ and accordingly will never be an absolute liberty; but secondly this, that he who would enjoy it must seek out and, if possible, create the favorable opportunity, availing himself of his own advantage against the State; and counting himself and his will more than the State and every ‘superior’ power. Not in the State, but only against it, can the liberty of the press be carried through; if it is to be established, it is to be obtained not as the consequence of a petition but as the work of an insurrection. Every petition and every motion for liberty of the press is already an insurrection, be it conscious or unconscious: a thing which Philistine halfness alone will not and cannot confess to itself until, with a shrinking shudder, it shall see it clearly and irrefutably by the outcome. For the requested liberty of the press has indeed a friendly and well-meaning face at the beginning, as it is not in the least minded ever to let the ‘insolence of the press’ come into vogue; but little by little its heart grows more hardened, and the inference flatters its way in that really a liberty is not a liberty if it stands in the service of the State, of morals, or of the law. A liberty indeed from the coercion of censorship, it is yet not a liberty from the coercion of law. The press, once seized by the lust for liberty, always wants to grow freer, till at last the writer says to himself, really I am not wholly free till I ask about nothing; and writing is free only when it is my own, dictated to me by no power or authority, by no faith, no dread; the press must not be free — that is too little — it must be mine: — ownness of the press or property in the press, that is what I will take.
“Why, liberty of the press is only permission of the press, and the State never will or can voluntarily permit me to grind it to nothingness by the press.”
Let us now, in conclusion, bettering the above language, which is still vague, owing to the phrase ‘liberty of the press,’ rather put it thus: “liberty of the press, the liberals’ loud demand, is assuredly possible in the State; yes, it is possible only in the State, because it is a permission, and consequently the permitter (the State) must not be lacking. But as permission it has its limit in this very State, which surely should not in reason permit more than is compatible with itself and its welfare: the State fixes for it this limit as the law of its existence and of its extension. That one State brooks more than another is only a quantitative distinction, which alone, nevertheless, lies at the heart of the political liberals: they want in Germany, i. e., only a ’more extended, broader accordance of free utterance.’ The liberty of the press which is sought for is an affair of the people’s, and before the people (the State) possesses it I may make no use of it. From the standpoint of property in the press, the situation is different. Let my people, if they will, go without liberty of free press, I will manage to print by force or ruse; I get my permission to print only from — myself and my strength.
If the press is my own, I as little need a permission of the State for employing it as I seek that permission in order to blow my nose. The press is my property from the moment when nothing is more to me than myself; for from this moment State, Church, people, society, etc., cease, because they have to thank for their existence only the disrespect that I have for myself, and with the vanishing of this undervaluation they themselves are extinguished: they exist only when they exist above me, exist only as powers and power-holders. Or can you imagine a State whose citizens one and all think nothing of it? It would be as certainly a dream, an existence in seeming, as ‘united Germany.’
The press is my own as soon as I myself am my own, a self- owned man: to the egoist belongs the world, because he belongs to no power of the world.
With this my press might still be very unfree, as e.g. at this moment. But the world is large, and one helps himself as well as he can. If I were willing to abate from the property of my press, I could easily attain the point where I might everywhere have as much printed as my fingers produced. But, as I want to assert my property, I must necessarily swindle my enemies. ‘Would you not accept their permission if it were given you?’ Certainly, with joy; for their permission would be to me a proof that I had fooled them and started them on the road to ruin. I am not concerned for their permission, but so much the more for their folly and their overthrow. I do not sue for their permission as if I flattered myself (like the political liberals) that we both, they and I, could make out peaceably alongside and with each other, yes, probably raise and prop each other; but I sue for it in order to make them bleed to death by it, that the permitters themselves may cease at last. I act as a conscious enemy, overreaching them and utilizing their heedlessness.
The press is mine when I recognize outside myself no judge whatever over its utilization, i.e. when my writing is no longer determined by morality or religion or respect for the State laws or the like, but by me and my egoism!”
Now, what have you to reply to him who gives you so impudent an answer? — We shall perhaps put the question most strikingly by phrasing it as follows: Whose is the press, the people’s (State’s) or mine? The politicals on their side intend nothing further than to liberate the press from personal and arbitrary interferences of the possessors of power, without thinking of the point that to be really open for everybody it would also have to be free from the laws, from the people’s (State’s) will. They want to make a “people’s affair” of it.
But, having become the people’s property, it is still far from being mine; rather, it retains for me the subordinate significance of a permission. The people plays judge over my thoughts; it has the right of calling me to account for them, or, I am responsible to it for them. Jurors, when their fixed ideas are attacked, have just as hard heads as the stiffest despots and their servile officials.
In the “Liberale Bestrebungen” Edgar Bauer asserts that liberty of the press is impossible in the absolutist and the constitutional State, whereas in the “free State” it finds its place. “Here,” the statement is, “it is recognized that the individual, because he is no longer an individual but a member of a true and rational generality, has the right to utter his mind.” So not the individual, but the “member,” has liberty of the press. But, if for the purpose of liberty of the press the individual must first give proof of himself regarding his belief in the generality, the people; if he does not have this liberty through might of his own — then it is a people’s liberty, a liberty that he is invested with for the sake of his faith, his “membership.” The reverse is the case: it is precisely as an individual that every one has open to him the liberty to utter his mind. But he has not the “right”: that liberty is assuredly not his “sacred right.” He has only the might; but the might alone makes him owner. I need no concession for the liberty of the press, do not need the people’s consent to it, do not need the “right” to it, nor any “justification.” The liberty of the press too, like every liberty, I must “take”; the people, “as being the sole judge,” cannot give it to me. It can put up with me the liberty that I take, or defend itself against it; give, bestow, grant it cannot. I exercise it despite the people, purely as an individual; i.e. I get it by fighting the people, my — enemy, and obtain it only when I really get it by such fighting, i. e. take it. But I take it because it is my property.
Sander, against whom E. Bauer writes, lays claim (page 99) to the liberty of the press “as the right and the liberty of the citizens in the State”. What else does Edgar Bauer do? To him also it is only a right of the free citizen.
The liberty of the press is also demanded under the name of a “general human right.” Against this the objection was well-founded that not every man knew how to use it rightly, for not every individual was truly man. Never did a government refuse it to Man as such; but Man writes nothing, for the reason that he is a ghost. It always refused it to individuals only, and gave it to others, e.g. its organs. If then one would have it for all, one must assert outright that it is due to the individual, me, not to man or to the individual so far as he is man. Besides, another than a man (a beast) can make no use of it. The French government, e.g., does not dispute the liberty of the press as a right of man, but demands from the individual a security for his really being man; for it assigns liberty of the press not to the individual, but to man.
Under the exact pretense that it was not human, what was mine was taken from me! What was human was left to me undiminished.
Liberty of the press can bring about only a responsible press; the irresponsible proceeds solely from property in the press.
* * *
For intercourse with men an express law (conformity to which one may venture at times sinfully to forget, but the absolute value of which one at no time ventures to deny) is placed foremost among all who live religiously: this is the law — of love, to which not even those who seem to fight against its principle, and who hate its name, have as yet become untrue; for they also still have love, yes, they love with a deeper and more sublimated love, they love “man and mankind.”
If we formulate the sense of this law, it will be about as follows: Every man must have a something that is more to him than himself. You are to put your “private interest” in the background when it is a question of the welfare of others, the weal of the fatherland, of society, the common weal, the weal of mankind, the good cause, etc.! Fatherland, society, mankind, must be more to you than yourself, and as against their interest your “private interest” must stand back; for you must not be an — egoist.
Love is a far-reaching religious demand, which is not, as might be supposed, limited to love to God and man, but stands foremost in every regard. Whatever we do, think, will, the ground of it is always to be love. Thus we may indeed judge, but only “with love.” The Bible may assuredly be criticized, and that very thoroughly, but the critic must before all things love it and see in it the sacred book. Is this anything else than to say he must not criticize it to death, he must leave it standing, and that as a sacred thing that cannot be upset? — In our criticism on men too, love must remain the unchanged key-note. Certainly judgments that hatred inspires are not at all our own judgments, but judgments of the hatred that rules us, “rancorous judgments.” But are judgments that love inspires in us any more our own? They are judgments of the love that rules us, they are “loving, lenient” judgments, they are not our own, and accordingly not real judgments at all. He who burns with love for justice cries out, fiat justitia, pereat mundus! He can doubtless ask and investigate what justice properly is or demands, and in what it consists, but not whether it is anything.
It is very true, “He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4. 16.) God abides in him, he does not get rid of God, does not become godless; and he abides in God, does not come to himself and into his own home, abides in love to God and does not become loveless.
“God is love! All times and all races recognize in this word the central point of Christianity.” God, who is love, is an officious God: he cannot leave the world in peace, but wants to make it blest. “God became man to make men divine.” He has his hand in the game everywhere, and nothing happens without it; everywhere he has his “best purposes,” his “incomprehensible plans and decrees.” Reason, which he himself is, is to be forwarded and realized in the whole world. His fatherly care deprives us of all independence. We can do nothing sensible without its being said, God did that, and can bring upon ourselves no misfortune without hearing, God ordained that; we have nothing that we have not from him, he “gave” everything. But, as God does, so does Man. God wants perforce to make the world blest, and Man wants to make it happy, to make all men happy. Hence every “man” wants to awaken in all men the reason which he supposes his own self to have: everything is to be rational throughout. God torments himself with the devil, and the philosopher does it with unreason and the accidental. God lets no being go its own gait, and Man likewise wants to make us walk only in human wise.
But whoso is full of sacred (religious, moral, humane) love loves only the spook, the “true man,” and persecutes with dull mercilessness the individual, the real man, under the phlegmatic legal title of measures against the “un- man.” He finds it praiseworthy and indispensable to exercise pitilessness in the harshest measure; for love to the spook or generality commands him to hate him who is not ghostly, i.e. the egoist or individual; such is the meaning of the renowned love-phenomenon that is called “justice.”
The criminally arraigned man can expect no forbearance, and no one spreads a friendly veil over his unhappy nakedness. Without emotion the stern judge tears the last rags of excuse from the body of the poor accused; without compassion the jailer drags him into his damp abode; without placability, when the time of punishment has expired, he thrusts the branded man again among men, his good, Christian, loyal brethren, who contemptuously spit on him. Yes, without grace a criminal “deserving of death” is led to the scaffold, and before the eyes of a jubilating crowd the appeased moral law celebrates its sublime — revenge. For only one can live, the moral law or the criminal. Where criminals live unpunished, the moral law has fallen; and, where this prevails, those must go down. Their enmity is indestructible.
The Christian age is precisely that of mercy, love, solicitude to have men receive what is due them, yes, to bring them to fulfil their human (divine) calling. Therefore the principle has been put foremost for intercourse, that this and that is man’s essence and consequently his calling, to which either God has called him or (according to the concepts of today) his being man (the species) calls him. Hence the zeal for conversion. That the Communists and the humane expect from man more than the Christians do does not change the standpoint in the least. Man shall get what is human! If it was enough for the pious that what was divine became his part, the humane demand that he be not curtailed of what is human. Both set themselves against what is egoistic. Of course; for what is egoistic cannot be accorded to him or vested in him (a fief); he must procure it for himself. Love imparts the former, the latter can be given to me by myself alone.
Intercourse hitherto has rested on love, regardful behavior, doing for each other. As one owed it to himself to make himself blessed, or owed himself the bliss of taking up into himself the supreme essence and bringing it to a vérité (a truth and reality), so one owed it to others to help them realize their essence and their calling: in both cases one owed it to the essence of man to contribute to its realization.
But one owes it neither to himself to make anything out of himself, nor to others to make anything out of them; for one owes nothing to his essence and that of others. Intercourse resting on essence is an intercourse with the spook, not with anything real. If I hold intercourse with the supreme essence, I am not holding intercourse with myself, and, if I hold intercourse with the essence of man, I am not holding intercourse with men.
The natural man’s love becomes through culture a commandment. But as commandment it belongs to Man as such. not to me; it is my essence,[Wesen] about which much ado [Wesen] is made. not my property. Man, i.e. humanity, presents that demand to me; love is demanded, it is my duty. Instead, therefore, of being really won for me, it has been won for the generality, Man, as his property or peculiarity: “it becomes man, every man, to love; love is the duty and calling of man,” etc.
Consequently I must again vindicate love for myself, and deliver it out of the power of Man with the great M.
What was originally mine, but accidentally mine, instinctively mine, I was invested with as the property of Man; I became feoffee in loving, I became the retainer of mankind, only a specimen of this species, and acted, loving, not as I, but as man, as a specimen of man, the humanly. The whole condition of civilization is the feudal system, the property being Man’s or mankind’s, not mine. A monstrous feudal State was founded, the individual robbed of everything, everything left to “man.” The individual had to appear at last as a “sinner through and through.”
Am I perchance to have no lively interest in the person of another, are his joy and his weal not to lie at my heart, is the enjoyment that I furnish him not to be more to me than other enjoyments of my own? On the contrary, I can with joy sacrifice to him numberless enjoyments, I can deny myself numberless things for the enhancement of his pleasure, and I can hazard for him what without him was the dearest to me, my life, my welfare, my freedom. Why, it constitutes my pleasure and my happiness to refresh myself with his happiness and his pleasure. But myself, my own self, I do not sacrifice to him, but remain an egoist and — enjoy him. If I sacrifice to him everything that but for my love to him I should keep, that is very simple, and even more usual in life than it seems to be; but it proves nothing further than that this one passion is more powerful in me than all the rest. Christianity too teaches us to sacrifice all other passions to this. But, if to one passion I sacrifice others, I do not on that account go so far as to sacrifice myself, nor sacrifice anything of that whereby I truly am myself; I do not sacrifice my peculiar value, my ownness. Where this bad case occurs, love cuts no better figure than any other passion that I obey blindly. The ambitious man, who is carried away by ambition and remains deaf to every warning that a calm moment begets in him, has let this passion grow up into a despot against whom he abandons all power of dissolution: he has given up himself, because he cannot dissolve himself, and consequently cannot absolve himself from the passion: he is possessed.
I love men too — not merely individuals, but every one. But I love them with the consciousness of egoism; I love them because love makes me happy, I love because loving is natural to me, because it pleases me. I know no “commandment of love.” I have a fellow-feeling with every feeling being, and their torment torments, their refreshment refreshes me too; I can kill them, not torture them. Per contra, the high-souled, virtuous Philistine prince Rudolph in The Mysteries of Paris, because the wicked provoke his “indignation,” plans their torture. That fellow-feeling proves only that the feeling of those who feel is mine too, my property; in opposition to which the pitiless dealing of the “righteous” man (e.g. against notary Ferrand) is like the unfeelingness of that robber [Procrustes] who cut off or stretched his prisoners’ legs to the measure of his bedstead: Rudolph’s bedstead, which he cuts men to fit, is the concept of the “good.” The for right, virtue, etc., makes people hard-hearted and intolerant. Rudolph does not feel like the notary, but the reverse; he feels that “it serves the rascal right”; that is no fellow-feeling.
You love man, therefore you torture the individual man, the egoist; your philanthropy (love of men) is the tormenting of men.
If I see the loved one suffer, I suffer with him, and I know no rest till I have tried everything to comfort and cheer him; if I see him glad, I too become glad over his joy. From this it does not follow that suffering or joy is caused in me by the same thing that brings out this effect in him, as is sufficiently proved by every bodily pain which I do not feel as he does; his tooth pains him, but his pain pains me.
But, because I cannot bear the troubled crease on the beloved forehead, for that reason, and therefore for my sake, I kiss it away. If I did not love this person, he might go right on making creases, they would not trouble me; I am only driving away my trouble.
How now, has anybody or anything, whom and which I do not love, a right to be loved by me? Is my love first, or is his right first? Parents, kinsfolk, fatherland, nation, native town, etc., finally fellowmen in general (“brothers, fraternity”), assert that they have a right to my love, and lay claim to it without further ceremony. They look upon it as their property, and upon me, if I do not respect this, as a robber who takes from them what pertains to them and is theirs. I should love. If love is a commandment and law, then I must be educated into it, cultivated up to it, and, if I trespass against it, punished. Hence people will exercise as strong a “moral influence” as possible on me to bring me to love. And there is no doubt that one can work up and seduce men to love as one can to other passions — if you like, to hate. Hate runs through whole races merely because the ancestors of the one belonged to the Guelphs, those of the other to the Ghibellines.
But love is not a commandment, but, like each of my feelings, my property. Acquire, i.e. purchase, my property, and then I will make it over to you. A church, a nation, a fatherland, a family, etc., that does not know how to acquire my love, I need not love; and I fix the purchase price of my love quite at my pleasure.
Selfish love is far distant from unselfish, mystical, or romantic love. One can love everything possible, not merely men, but an “object” in general (wine, one’s fatherland, etc.). Love becomes blind and crazy by a must taking it out of my power (infatuation), romantic by a should entering into it, i.e. by the “objects” becoming sacred for me, or my becoming bound to it by duty, conscience, oath. Now the object no longer exists for me, but I for it.
Love is a possessedness, not as my feeling — as such I rather keep it in my possession as property — but through the alienness of the object. For religious love consists in the commandment to love in the beloved a “holy one,” or to adhere to a holy one; for unselfish love there are objects absolutely lovable for which my heart is to beat, e.g. fellow-men, or my wedded mate, kinsfolk, etc. Holy Love loves the holy in the beloved, and therefore exerts itself also to make of the beloved more and more a holy one (a “man”).
The beloved is an object that should be loved by me. He is not an object of my love on account of, because of, or by, my loving him, but is an object of love in and of himself. Not I make him an object of love, but he is such to begin with; for it is here irrelevant that he has become so by my choice, if so it be (as with a fiancée, a spouse, etc.), since even so he has in any case, as the person once chosen, obtained a “right of his own to my love,” and I, because I have loved him, am under obligation to love him forever. He is therefore not an object of my love, but of love in general: an object that shouldbe loved. Love appertains to him, is due to him, or is his right, while I am under obligation to love him. My love, i.e. the toll of love that I pay him, is in truth his love, which he only collects from me as toll.
Every love to which there clings but the smallest speck of obligation is an unselfish love, and, so far as this speck reaches, a possessedness. He who believes that he owes the object of his love anything loves romantically or religiously.
Family love, e.g. as it is usually understood as “piety,” is a religious love; love of fatherland, preached as “patriotism,” likewise. All our romantic loves move in the same pattern: everywhere the hypocrisy, or rather self-deception, of an “unselfish love,” an interest in the object for the object’s sake, not for my sake and mine alone.
Religious or romantic love is distinguished from sensual love by the difference of the object indeed, but not by the dependence of the relation to it. In the latter regard both are possessedness; but in the former the one object is profane, the other sacred. The dominion of the object over me is the same in both cases, only that it is one time a sensuous one, the other time a spiritual (ghostly) one. My love is my own only when it consists altogether in a selfish and egoistic interest, and when consequently the object of my love is really my object or my property. I owe my property nothing, and have no duty to it, as little as I might have a duty to my eye; if nevertheless I guard it with the greatest care, I do so on my account.
Antiquity lacked love as little as do Christian times; the god of love is older than the God of Love. But the mystical possessedness belongs to the moderns.
The possessedness of love lies in the alienation of the object, or in my powerlessness as against its alienness and superior power. To the egoist nothing is high enough for him to humble himself before it, nothing so independent that he would live for love of it, nothing so sacred that he would sacrifice himself to it. The egoist’s love rises in selfishness, flows in the bed of selfishness, and empties into selfishness again.
Whether this can still be called love? If you know another word for it, go ahead and choose it; then the sweet word love may wither with the departed world; for the present I at least find none in our Christian language, and hence stick to the old sound and “love” my object, my — property.
Only as one of my feelings do I harbor love; but as a power above me, as a divine power, as Feuerbach says, as a passion that I am not to cast off, as a religious and moral duty, I — scorn it. As my feeling it is mine; as a principle to which I consecrate and “vow” my soul it is a dominator and divine, just as hatred as a principle is diabolical; one not better than the other. In short, egoistic love, i.e. my love, is neither holy nor unholy, neither divine nor diabolical.
“A love that is limited by faith is an untrue love. The sole limitation that does not contradict the essence of love is the self-limitation of love by reason, intelligence. Love that scorns the rigor, the law, of intelligence, is theoretically a false love, practically a ruinous one.” So love is in its essence rational! So thinks Feuerbach; the believer, on the contrary, thinks, Love is in its essence believing. The one inveighs against irrational, the other against unbelieving, love. To both it can at most rank as a splendidum vitium. Do not both leave love standing, even in the form of unreason and unbelief? They do not dare to say, irrational or unbelieving love is nonsense, is not love; as little as they are willing to say, irrational or unbelieving tears are not tears. But, if even irrational love, etc., must count as love, and if they are nevertheless to be unworthy of man, there follows simply this: love is not the highest thing, but reason or faith; even the unreasonable and the unbelieving can love; but love has value only when it is that of a rational or believing person. It is an illusion when Feuerbach calls the rationality of love its “self-limitation”; the believer might with the same right call belief its “self-limitation.” Irrational love is neither “false” nor “ruinous”; its does its service as love.
Toward the world, especially toward men, I am to assume a particular feeling, and “meet them with love,” with the feeling of love, from the beginning. Certainly, in this there is revealed far more free-will and self-determination than when I let myself be stormed, by way of the world, by all possible feelings, and remain exposed to the most checkered, most accidental impressions. I go to the world rather with a preconceived feeling, as if it were a prejudice and a preconceived opinion; I have prescribed to myself in advance my behavior toward it, and, despite all its temptations, feel and think about it only as I have once determined to. Against the dominion of the world I secure myself by the principle of love; for, whatever may come, I — love. The ugly — e.g. —makes a repulsive impression on me; but, determined to love, I master this impression as I do every antipathy.
But the feeling to which I have determined and — condemned myself from the start is a narrow feeling, because it is a predestined one, of which I myself am not able to get clear or to declare myself clear. Because preconceived, it is a prejudice. I no longer show myself in face of the world, but my love shows itself. The world indeed does not rule me, but so much the more inevitably does the spirit of love rule this spirit.
If I first said, I love the world, I now add likewise: I do not love it, for I annihilate it as I annihilate myself; I dissolve it. I do not limit myself to one feeling for men, but give free play to all that I am capable of. Why should I not dare speak it out in all its glaringness? Yes, I utilize the world and men! With this I can keep myself open to every impression without being torn away from myself by one of them. I can love, love with a full heart, and let the most consuming glow of passion burn in my heart, without taking the beloved one for anything else than the nourishment of my passion, on which it ever refreshes itself anew. All my care for him applies only to the object of my love, only to him whom my love requires, only to him, the “warmly loved.” How indifferent would he be to me without this — my love! I feed only my love with him, I utilize him for this only: I enjoy him.
Let us choose another convenient example. I see how men are fretted in dark superstition by a swarm of ghosts. If to the extent of my powers I let a bit of daylight fall in on the nocturnal spookery, is it perchance because love to you inspires this in me? Do I write out of love to men? No, I write because I want to procure for my thoughts an existence in the world; and, even if I foresaw that these thoughts would deprive you of your rest and your peace, even if I saw the bloodiest wars and the fall of many generations springing up from this seed of thought — I would nevertheless scatter it. Do with it what you will and can, that is your affair and does not trouble me. You will perhaps have only trouble, combat, and death from it, very few will draw joy from it. If your weal lay at my heart, I should act as the church did in withholding the Bible from the laity, or Christian governments, which make it a sacred duty for themselves to “protect the common people from bad books.”
But not only not for your sake, not even for truth’s sake either do I speak out what I think. No —
I sing as the bird sings
That on the bough alights;
The song that from me springs
Is pay that well requites.
I sing because — I am a singer. But I use[gebrauche] you for it because I — need [brauche] ears.
Where the world comes in my way — and it comes in my way everywhere — I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but —my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use. We owe each other nothing, for what I seem to owe you I owe at most to myself. If I show you a cheery air in order to cheer you likewise, then your cheeriness is of consequence to me, and my air serves my wish; to a thousand others, whom I do not aim to cheer, I do not show it.
* * *
One has to be educated up to that love which founds itself on the “essence of man” or, in the ecclesiastical and moral period, lies upon us as a “commandment.” In what fashion moral influence, the chief ingredient of our education, seeks to regulate the intercourse of men shall here be looked at with egoistic eyes in one example at least.
Those who educate us make it their concern early to break us of lying and to inculcate the principle that one must always tell the truth. If selfishness were made the basis for this rule, every one would easily understand how by lying he fools away that confidence in him which he hopes to awaken in others, and how correct the maxim proves, Nobody believes a liar even when he tells the truth. Yet, at the same time, he would also feel that he had to meet with truth only him whom he authorized to hear the truth. If a spy walks in disguise through the hostile camp, and is asked who he is, the askers are assuredly entitled to inquire after his name, but the disguised man does not give them the right to learn the truth from him; he tells them what he likes, only not the fact. And yet morality demands, “Thou shalt not lie!” By morality those persons are vested with the right to expect the truth; but by me they are not vested with that right, and I recognize only the right that I impart. In a gathering of revolutionists the police force their way in and ask the orator for his name; everybody knows that the police have the right to do so, but they do not have it from the revolutionist, since he is their enemy; he tells them a false name and —cheats them with a lie. The police do not act so foolishly either as to count on their enemies’ love of truth; on the contrary, they do not believe without further ceremony, but have the questioned individual “identified” if they can. Nay, the State — everywhere proceeds incredulously with individuals, because in their egoism it recognizes its natural enemy; it invariably demands a “voucher,” and he who cannot show vouchers falls a prey to its investigating inquisition. The State does not believe nor trust the individual, and so of itself places itself with him in the convention of lying; it trusts me only when it has convinced itself of the truth of my statement, for which there often remains to it no other means than the oath. How clearly, too, this (the oath) proves that the State does not count on our credibility and love of truth, but on our interest, our selfishness: it relies on our not wanting to fall foul of God by a perjury.
Now, let one imagine a French revolutionist in the year 1788, who among friends let fall the now well-known phrase, “the world will have no rest till the last king is hanged with the guts of the last priest.” The king then still had all power, and, when the utterance is betrayed by an accident, yet without its being possible to produce witnesses, confession is demanded from the accused. Is he to confess or not? If he denies, he lies and — remains unpunished; if he confesses, he is candid and — is beheaded. If truth is more than everything else to him, all right, let him die. Only a paltry poet could try to make a tragedy out of the end of his life; for what interest is there in seeing how a man succumbs from cowardice? But, if he had the courage not to be a slave of truth and sincerity, he would ask somewhat thus: Why need the judges know what I have spoken among friends? If I had wished them to know, I should have said it to them as I said it to my friends. I will not have them know it. They force themselves into my confidence without my having called them to it and made them my confidants; they will learn what I will keep secret. Come on then, you who wish to break my will by your will, and try your arts. You can torture me by the rack, you can threaten me with hell and eternal damnation, you can make me so nerveless that I swear a false oath, but the truth you shall not press out of me, for I will lie to you because I have given you no claim and no right to my sincerity. Let God, “who is truth,” look down ever so threateningly on me, let lying come ever so hard to me, I have nevertheless the courage of a lie; and, even if I were weary of my life, even if nothing appeared to me more welcome than your executioner’s sword, you nevertheless should not have the joy of finding in me a slave of truth, whom by your priestly arts you make a traitor to his will. When I spoke those treasonable words, I would not have had you know anything of them; I now retain the same will, and do not let myself be frightened by the curse of the lie.
Sigismund is not a miserable caitiff because he broke his princely word, but he broke the word because he was a caitiff; he might have kept his word and would still have been a caitiff, a priest-ridden man. Luther, driven by a higher power, became unfaithful to his monastic vow: he became so for God’s sake. Both broke their oath as possessed persons: Sigismund, because he wanted to appear as a sincere professor of the divine truth, i. e., of the true, genuinely Catholic faith; Luther, in order to give testimony for the gospel sincerely and with entire truth. with body and soul; both became perjured in order to be sincere toward the “higher truth.” Only, the priests absolved the one, the other absolved himself. What else did both observe than what is contained in those apostolic words, “Thou hast not lied to men, but to God?” They lied to men, broke their oath before the world’s eyes, in order not to lie to God, but to serve him. Thus they show us a way to deal with truth before men. For God’s glory, and for God’s sake, a — breach of oath, a lie, a prince’s word broken!
How would it be, now, if we changed the thing a little and wrote, A perjury and lie for — my sake? Would not that be pleading for every baseness? It seems so, assuredly, only in this it is altogether like the “for God’s sake.” For was not every baseness committed for God’s sake, were not all the scaffolds filled for his sake and all the autos-da-fé held for his sake, was not all stupefaction introduced for his sake? And do they not today still for God’s sake fetter the mind in tender children by religious education? Were not sacred vows broken for his sake, and do not missionaries and priests still go around every day to bring Jews, heathen, Protestants or Catholics, to treason against the faith of their fathers — for his sake? And that should be worse with the for my sake? What then does on my account mean? There people immediately think of “filthy lucre”. But he who acts from love of filthy lucre does it on his own account indeed, as there is nothing anyhow that one does not do for his own sake — among other things, everything that is done for God’s glory; yet he, for whom he seeks the lucre, is a slave of lucre, not raised above lucre; he is one who belongs to lucre, the money-bag, not to himself; he is not his own. Must not a man whom the passion of avarice rules follow the commands of this master? And, if a weak goodnaturedness once beguiles him, does this not appear as simply an exceptional case of precisely the same sort as when pious believers are sometimes forsaken by their Lord’s guidance and ensnared by the arts of the “devil?” So an avaricious man is not a self-owned man, but a servant; and he can do nothing for his own sake without at the same time doing it for his lord’s sake — precisely like the godly man.
Famous is the breach of oath which Francis I committed against Emperor Charles V. Not later, when he ripely weighed his promise, but at once, when he swore the oath, King Francis took it back in thought as well as by a secret protestation documentarily subscribed before his councillors; he uttered a perjury aforethought. Francis did not show himself disinclined to buy his release, but the price that Charles put on it seemed to him too high and unreasonable. Even though Charles behaved himself in a sordid fashion when he sought to extort as much as possible, it was yet shabby of Francis to want to purchase his freedom for a lower ransom; and his later dealings, among which there occurs yet a second breach of his word, prove sufficiently how the huckster spirit held him enthralled and made him a shabby swindler. However, what shall we say to the reproach of perjury against him? In the first place, surely, this again: that not the perjury, but his sordidness, shamed him; that he did not deserve contempt for his perjury, but made himself guilty of perjury because he was a contemptible man. But Francis’s perjury, regarded in itself, demands another judgment. One might say Francis did not respond to the confidence that Charles put in him in setting him free. But, if Charles had really favored him with confidence, he would have named to him the price that he considered the release worth, and would then have set him at liberty and expected Francis to pay the redemption-sum. Charles harbored no such trust, but only believed in Francis’s impotence and credulity, which would not allow him to act against his oath; but Francis deceived only this — credulous calculation. When Charles believed he was assuring himself of his enemy by an oath, right there he was freeing him from every obligation. Charles had given the king credit for a piece of stupidity, a narrow conscience, and, without confidence in Francis, counted only on Francis’s stupidity, e.g., conscientiousness: he let him go from the Madrid prison only to hold him the more securely in the prison of conscientiousness, the great jail built about the mind of man by religion: he sent him back to France locked fast in invisible chains, what wonder if Francis sought to escape and sawed the chains apart? No man would have taken it amiss of him if he had secretly fled from Madrid, for he was in an enemy’s power; but every good Christian cries out upon him, that he wanted to loose himself from God’s bonds too. (It was only later that the pope absolved him from his oath.)
It is despicable to deceive a confidence that we voluntarily call forth; but it is no shame to egoism to let every one who wants to get us into his power by an oath bleed to death by the failure of his untrustful craft. If you have wanted to bind me, then learn that I know how to burst your bonds.
The point is whether I give the confider the right to confidence. If the pursuer of my friend asks me where he has fled to, I shall surely put him on a false trail. Why does he ask precisely me, the pursued man’s friend? In order not to be a false, traitorous friend, I prefer to be false to the enemy. I might certainly in courageous conscientiousness, answer, “I will not tell” (so Fichte decides the case); by that I should salve my love of truth and do for my friend as much as — nothing, for, if I do not mislead the enemy, he may accidentally take the right street, and my love of truth would have given up my friend as a prey, because it hindered me from the —courage for a lie. He who has in the truth an idol, a sacred thing, must humble himself before it, must not defy its demands, not resist courageously; in short, he must renounce the heroism of the lie. For to the lie belongs not less courage than to the truth: a courage that young men are most apt to be defective in, who would rather confess the truth and mount the scaffold for it than confound the enemy’s power by the impudence of a lie. To them the truth is “sacred,” and the sacred at all times demands blind reverence, submission, and self-sacrifice. If you are not impudent, not mockers of the sacred, you are tame and its servants. Let one but lay a grain of truth in the trap for you, you peck at it to a certainty, and the fool is caught. You will not lie? Well, then, fall as sacrifices to the truth and become — martyrs! Martyrs! — for what? For yourselves, for self-ownership? No, for your goddess — the truth. You know only two services, only two kinds of servants: servants of the truth and servants of the lie. Then in God’s name serve the truth!
Others, again, serve the truth also; but they serve it “in moderation,” and make, e.g. a great distinction between a simple lie and a lie sworn to. And yet the whole chapter of the oath coincides with that of the lie, since an oath, everybody knows, is only a strongly assured statement. You consider yourselves entitled to lie, if only you do not swear to it besides? One who is particular about it must judge and condemn a lie as sharply as a false oath. But now there has been kept up in morality an ancient point of controversy, which is customarily treated of under the name of the “lie of necessity.” No one who dares plead for this can consistently put from him an “oath of necessity.” If I justify my lie as a lie of necessity, I should not be so pusillanimous as to rob the justified lie of the strongest corroboration. Whatever I do, why should I not do it entirely and without reservations (reservatio mentalis)? If I once lie, why then not lie completely, with entire consciousness and all my might? As a spy I should have to swear to each of my false statements at the enemy’s demand; determined to lie to him, should I suddenly become cowardly and undecided in face of an oath? Then I should have been ruined in advance for a liar and spy; for, you see, I should be voluntarily putting into the enemy’s hands a means to catch me. — The State too fears the oath of necessity, and for this reason does not give the accused a chance to swear. But you do not justify the State’s fear; you lie, but do not swear falsely. If, e.g. you show some one a kindness, and he is not to know it, but he guesses it and tells you so to your face, you deny; if he insists, you say, “honestly, no!” If it came to swearing, then you would refuse; for, from fear of the sacred, you always stop half way. Against the sacred you have no will of your own. You lie in — moderation, as you are free “in moderation,” religious “in moderation” (the clergy are not to “encroach”; over this point the most rapid of controversies is now being carried on, on the part of the university against the church), monarchically disposed “in moderation” (you want a monarch limited by the constitution, by a fundamental law of the State), everything nicely tempered, lukewarm, half God’s, half the devil’s.
There was a university where the usage was that every word of honor that must be given to the university judge was looked upon by the students as null and void. For the students saw in the demanding of it nothing but a snare, which they could not escape otherwise than by taking away all its significance. He who at that same university broke his word of honor to one of the fellows was infamous; he who gave it to the university judge derided, in union with these very fellows, the dupe who fancied that a word had the same value among friends and among foes. It was less a correct theory than the constraint of practice that had there taught the students to act so, as, without that means of getting out, they would have been pitilessly driven to treachery against their comrades. But, as the means approved itself in practice, so it has its theoretical probation too. A word of honor, an oath, is one only for him whom I entitle to receive it; he who forces me to it obtains only a forced, i.e. a hostile word, the word of a foe, whom one has no right to trust; for the foe does not give us the right.
Aside from this, the courts of the State do not even recognize the inviolability of an oath. For, if I had sworn to one who comes under examination that I would not declare anything against him, the court would demand my declaration in spite of the fact that an oath binds me, and, in case of refusal, would lock me up till I decided to become — an oath-breaker. The court “absolves me from my oath”; — how magnanimous! If any power can absolve me from the oath, I myself am surely the very first power that has a claim to.
As a curiosity, and to remind us of customary oaths of all sorts, let place be given here to that which Emperor Paul commanded the captured Poles (Kosciuszko, Potocki, Niemcewicz, and others) to take when he released them: “We not merely swear fidelity and obedience to the emperor, but also further promise to pour out our blood for his glory; we obligate ourselves to discover everything threatening to his person or his empire that we ever learn; we declare finally that, in whatever part of the earth we may be, a single word of the emperor shall suffice to make us leave everything and repair to him at once.”
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In one domain the principle of love seems to have been long outsoared by egoism, and to be still in need only of sure consciousness, as it were of victory with a good conscience. This domain is speculation, in its double manifestation as thinking and as trade. One thinks with a will, whatever may come of it; one speculates, however many may suffer under our speculative undertakings. But, when it finally becomes serious, when even the last remnant of religiousness, romance, or “humanity” is to be done away, then the pulse of religious conscience beats, and one at least professeshumanity. The avaricious speculator throws some coppers into the poor-box and “does good,” the bold thinker consoles himself with the fact that he is working for the advancement of the human race and that his devastation “turns to the good” of mankind, or, in another case, that he is “serving the idea”; mankind, the idea, is to him that something of which he must say, It is more to me than myself.
To this day thinking and trading have been done for — God’s sake. Those who for six days were trampling down everything by their selfish aims sacrificed on the seventh to the Lord; and those who destroyed a hundred “good causes” by their reckless thinking still did this in the service of another “good cause,” and had yet to think of another — besides themselves — to whose good their self-indulgence should turn; of the people, mankind, etc. But this other thing is a being above them, a higher or supreme being; and therefore I say, they are toiling for God’s sake.
Hence I can also say that the ultimate basis of their actions is — love. Not a voluntary love however, not their own, but a tributary love, or the higher being’s own (God’s, who himself is love); in short, not the egoistic, but the religious; a love that springs from their fancy that they must discharge a tribute of love, i.e. that they must not be “egoists.”
If we want to deliver the world from many kinds of unfreedom, we want this not on its account but on ours; for, as we are not world-liberators by profession and out of “love,” we only want to win it away from others. We want to make it our own; it is not to be any longer owned as serf by God (the church) nor by the law (State), but to be our own; therefore we seek to “win” it, to “captivate” it, and, by meeting it halfway and “devoting” ourselves to it as to ourselves as soon as it belongs to us, to complete and make superfluous the force that it turns against us. If the world is ours, it no longer attempts any force against us, but only with us. My selfishness has an interest in the liberation of the world, that it may become — my property.
Not isolation or being alone, but society, is man’s original state. Our existence begins with the most intimate conjunction, as we are already living with our mother before we breathe; when we see the light of the world, we at once lie on a human being’s breast again, her love cradles us in the lap, leads us in the go-cart, and chains us to her person with a thousand ties. Society is our state of nature. And this is why, the more we learn to feel ourselves, the connection that was formerly most intimate becomes ever looser and the dissolution of the original society more unmistakable. To have once again for herself the child that once lay under her heart, the mother must fetch it from the street and from the midst of its playmates. The child prefers the intercourse that it enters into with its fellows to the society that it has not entered into, but only been born in.
But the dissolution of society is intercourse or union. A society does assuredly arise by union too, but only as a fixed idea arises by a thought — to wit, by the vanishing of the energy of the thought (the thinking itself, this restless taking back all thoughts that make themselves fast) from the thought. If a union [Verein] has crystallized into a society, it has ceased to be a coalition; [Vereinigung] for coalition is an incessant self-uniting; it has become a unitedness, come to a standstill, degenerated into a fixity; it is — dead as a union, it is the corpse of the union or the coalition, i.e. it is —society, community. A striking example of this kind is furnished by the party.
That a society (e.g. the society of the State) diminishes my liberty offends me little. Why, I have to let my liberty be limited by all sorts of powers and by every one who is stronger; nay, by every fellow-man; and, were I the autocrat of all the R…, I yet should not enjoy absolute liberty. But ownness I will not have taken from me. And ownness is precisely what every society has designs on, precisely what is to succumb to its power.
A society which I join does indeed take from me many liberties, but in return it affords me other liberties; neither does it matter if I myself deprive myself of this and that liberty (e.g. by any contract). On the other hand, I want to hold jealously to my ownness. Every community has the propensity, stronger or weaker according to the fullness of its power, to become an authority to its members and to set limits for them: it asks, and must ask, for a “subject’s limited understanding”; it asks that those who belong to it be subjected to it, be its “subjects”; it exists only by subjection. In this a certain tolerance need by no means be excluded; on the contrary, the society will welcome improvements, corrections, and blame, so far as such are calculated for its gain: but the blame must be “well-meaning,” it may not be “insolent and disrespectful” — in other words, one must leave uninjured, and hold sacred, the substance of the society. The society demands that those who belong to it shall not go beyond it and exalt themselves, but remain “within the bounds of legality,” e.g., allow themselves only so much as the society and its law allow them.
There is a difference whether my liberty or my ownness is limited by a society. If the former only is the case, it is a coalition, an agreement, a union; but, if ruin is threatened to ownness, it is a power of itself, a power above me, a thing unattainable by me, which I can indeed admire, adore, reverence, respect, but cannot subdue and consume, and that for the reason that I am resigned. It exists by my resignation, my self-renunciation, my spiritlessness,[Muthlösigkeit] called — HUMILITY.[Demuth] My humility makes its courage,[Muth] my submissiveness gives it its dominion.
But in reference to liberty, State and union are subject to no essential difference. The latter can just as little come into existence, or continue in existence, without liberty’s being limited in all sorts of ways, as the State is compatible with unmeasured liberty. Limitation of liberty is inevitable everywhere, for one cannot get rid of everything; one cannot fly like a bird merely because one would like to fly so, for one does not get free from his own weight; one cannot live under water as long as he likes, like a fish, because one cannot do without air and cannot get free from this indispensable necessity; etc. As religion, and most decidedly Christianity, tormented man with the demand to realize the unnatural and self- contradictory, so it is to be looked upon only as the true logical outcome of that religious over-straining and overwroughtness that finally liberty itself, absolute liberty, was exalted into an ideal, and thus the nonsense of the impossible to come glaringly to the light. — The union will assuredly offer a greater measure of liberty, as well as (and especially because by it one escapes all the coercion peculiar to State and society life) admit of being considered as “a new liberty”; but nevertheless it will still contain enough of unfreedom and involuntariness. For its object is not this — liberty (which on the contrary it sacrifices to ownness), but only ownness. Referred to this, the difference between State and union is great enough. The former is an enemy and murderer of ownness, the latter a son and co-worker of it; the former a spirit that would be adored in spirit and in truth, the latter my work, my product ; the State is the lord of my spirit, who demands faith and prescribes to me articles of faith, the creed of legality; it exerts moral influence, dominates my spirit, drives away my ego to put itself in its place as “my true ego” — in short, the State is sacred, and as against me, the individual man, it is the true man, the spirit, the ghost; but the union is my own creation, my creature, not sacred, not a spiritual power above my spirit, as little as any association of whatever sort. As I am not willing to be a slave of my maxims, but lay them bare to my continual criticism without any warrant, and admit no bail at all for their persistence, so still less do I obligate myself to the union for my future and pledge my soul to it, as is said to be done with the devil, and is really the case with the State and all spiritual authority; but I am and remain more to myself than State, Church, God, etc.; consequently infinitely more than the union too.
That society which Communism wants to found seems to stand nearest to coalition. For it is to aim at the “welfare of all,” oh, yes, of all, cries Weitling innumerable times, of all! That does really look as if in it no one needed to take a back seat. But what then will this welfare be? Have all one and the same welfare, are all equally well off with one and the same thing? If that be so, the question is of the “true welfare.” Do we not with this come right to the point where religion begins its dominion of violence? Christianity says, Look not on earthly toys, but seek your true welfare, become — pious Christians; being Christians is the true welfare. It is the true welfare of “all,” because it is the welfare of Man as such (this spook). Now, the welfare of all is surely to be your and my welfare too? But, if you and I do not look upon that welfare as our welfare, will care then be taken for that in which we feel well? On the contrary, society has decreed a welfare as the “true welfare,” if this welfare were called e.g. “enjoyment honestly worked for”; but if you preferred enjoyable laziness, enjoyment without work, then society, which cares for the “welfare of all,” would wisely avoid caring for that in which you are well off. Communism, in proclaiming the welfare of all, annuls outright the well-being of those who hitherto lived on their income from investments and apparently felt better in that than in the prospect of Weitling’s strict hours of labor. Hence the latter asserts that with the welfare of thousands the welfare of millions cannot exist, and the former must give up their special welfare “for the sake of the general welfare.” No, let people not be summoned to sacrifice their special welfare for the general, for this Christian admonition will not carry you through; they will better understand the opposite admonition, not to let their own welfare be snatched from them by anybody, but to put it on a permanent foundation. Then they are of themselves led to the point that they care best for their welfare if they unite with others for this purpose, e.g., “sacrifice a part of their liberty,” yet not to the welfare of others, but to their own. An appeal to men’s self-sacrificing disposition end self- renouncing love ought at least to have lost its seductive plausibility when, after an activity of thousands of years, it has left nothing behind but the — misère of today. Why then still fruitlessly expect self-sacrifice to bring us better time? Why not rather hope for them from usurpation? Salvation comes no longer from the giver, the bestower, the loving one, but from the taker, the appropriator (usurper), the owner. Communism, and, consciously, egoism-reviling humanism, still count on love.
If community is once a need of man, and he finds himself furthered by it in his aims, then very soon, because it has become his principle, it prescribes to him its laws too, the laws of — society. The principle of men exalts itself into a sovereign power over them, becomes their supreme essence, their God, and, as such — law-giver. Communism gives this principle the strictest effect, and Christianity is the religion of society, for, as Feuerbach rightly says, although he does not mean it rightly, love is the essence of man; e.g., the essence of society or of societary (Communistic) man. All religion is a cult of society, this principle by which societary (cultivated) man is dominated; neither is any god an ego’s exclusive god, but always a society’s or community’s, be it of the society, “family” (Lar, Penates) or of a “people” (“national god”) or of “all men” (“he is a Father of all men”).
Consequently one has a prospect of extirpating religion down to the ground only when one antiquates society and everything that flows from this principle. But it is precisely in Communism that this principle seeks to culminate, as in it everything is to become common for the establishment of — “equality.” If this “equality” is won, “liberty” too is not lacking. But whose liberty? Society’s! Society is then all in all, and men are only “for each other.” It would be the glory of the — love-State.
But I would rather be referred to men’s selfishness than to their “kindnesses,”[Literally, “love-services”] their mercy, pity, etc. The former demands reciprocity (as thou to me, so I to thee), does nothing “gratis,” and may be won and — bought. But with what shall I obtain the kindness? It is a matter of chance whether I am at the time having to do with a “loving” person. The affectionate one’s service can be had only by — begging, be it by my lamentable appearance, by my need of help, my misery, my — suffering. What can I offer him for his assistance? Nothing! I must accept it as a —present. Love is unpayable, or rather, love can assuredly be paid for, but only by counter-love (“One good turn deserves another”). What paltriness and beggarliness does it not take to accept gifts year in and year out without service in return, as they are regularly collected e.g. from the poor day-laborer? What can the receiver do for him and his donated pennies, in which his wealth consists? The day- laborer would really have more enjoyment if the receiver with his laws, his institutions, etc., all of which the day-laborer has to pay for though, did not exist at all. And yet, with it all, the poor wight loves his master.
No, community, as the “goal” of history hitherto, is impossible. Let us rather renounce every hypocrisy of community, and recognize that, if we are equal as men, we are not equal for the very reason that we are not men. We are equal only in thoughts, only when “we” are thought, not as we really and bodily are. I am ego, and you are ego: but I am not this thought-of ego; this ego in which we are all equal is only my thought. I am man, and you are man: but “man” is only a thought, a generality; neither I nor you are speakable, we are unutterable, because only thoughts are speakable and consist in speaking.
Let us therefore not aspire to community, but to one-sidedness. Let us not seek the most comprehensive commune, “human society,” but let us seek in others only means and organs which we may use as our property! As we do not see our equals in the tree, the beast, so the presupposition that others are our equals springs from a hypocrisy. No one is my equal, but I regard him, equally with all other beings, as my property. In opposition to this I am told that I should be a man among “fellow-men” (Judenfrage, p. 60); I should “respect” the fellow-man in them. For me no one is a person to be respected, not even the fellow-man, but solely, like other beings, an object in which I take an interest or else do not, an interesting or uninteresting object, a usable or unusable person.
And, if I can use him, I doubtless come to an understanding and make myself at one with him, in order, by the agreement, to strengthen my power, and by combined force to accomplish more than individual force could effect. In this combination I see nothing whatever but a multiplication of my force, and I retain it only so long as it is my multiplied force. But thus it is a — union.
Neither a natural ligature nor a spiritual one holds the union together, and it is not a natural, not a spiritual league. It is not brought about by one blood, not by one faith (spirit). In a natural league — like a family, a tribe, a nation, yes, mankind — the individuals have only the value of specimens of the same species or genus; in a spiritual league — like a commune, a church — the individual signifies only a member of the same spirit; what you are in both cases as a unique person must be — suppressed. Only in the union can you assert yourself as unique, because the union does not possess you, but you possess it or make it of use to you.
Property is recognized in the union, and only in the union, because one no longer holds what is his as a fief from any being. The Communists are only consistently carrying further what had already been long present during religious evolution, and especially in the State; to wit, propertylessness, the feudal system.
The State exerts itself to tame the desirous man; in other words, it seeks to direct his desire to it alone, and to content that desire with what it offers. To sate the desire for the desirous man’s sake does not come into the mind: on the contrary, it stigmatizes as an “egoistic man” the man who breathes out unbridled desire, and the “egoistic man” is its enemy. He is this for it because the capacity to agree with him is wanting to the State; the egoist is precisely what it cannot “comprehend.” Since the State (as nothing else is possible) has to do only for itself, it does not take care for my needs, but takes care only of how it make away with me, i.e. make out of me another ego, a good citizen. It takes measures for the “improvement of morals.” — And with what does it win individuals for itself? With itself, i.e. with what is the State’s, with State property. It will be unremittingly active in making all participants in its “goods,” providing all with the “good things of culture”; it presents them its education, opens to them the access to its institutions of culture, capacitates them to come to property (i.e. to a fief) in the way of industry, etc. For all these fiefs it demands only the just rent of continual thanks. But the “unthankful” forget to pay these thanks. — Now, neither can “society” do essentially otherwise than the State.
You bring into a union your whole power, your competence, and make yourself count; in a society you are employed, with your working power; in the former you live egoistically, in the latter humanly, i.e. religiously, as a “member in the body of this Lord”; to a society you owe what you have, and are in duty bound to it, are — possessed by “social duties”; a union you utilize, and give it up undutifully and unfaithfully when you see no way to use it further. If a society is more than you, then it is more to you than yourself; a union is only your instrument, or the sword with which you sharpen and increase your natural force; the union exists for you and through you, the society conversely lays claim to you for itself and exists even without you, in short, the society is sacred, the union your own; consumes you, you consume the union.
Nevertheless people will not be backward with the objection that the agreement which has been concluded may again become burdensome to us and limit our freedom; they will say, we too would at last come to this, that “every one must sacrifice a part of his freedom for the sake of the generality.” But the sacrifice would not be made for the “generality’s” sake a bit, as little as I concluded the agreement for the “generality’s” or even for any other man’s sake; rather I came into it only for the sake of my own benefit, from selfishness.[Literally, “own-benefit”] But, as regards the sacrificing, surely I “sacrifice” only that which does not stand in my power, i. e., I “sacrifice” nothing at all.
To come back to property, the lord is proprietor. Choose then whether you want to be lord, or whether society shall be! On this depends whether you are to be an owner or a ragamuffin! The egoist is owner, the Socialist a ragamuffin. But ragamuffinism or propertylessness is the sense of feudalism, of the feudal system which since the last century has only changed its overlord, putting “Man” in the place of God, and accepting as a fief from Man what had before been a fief from the grace of God. That the ragamuffinism of Communism is carried out by the humane principle into the absolute or most ragamuffinly ragamuffinism has been shown above; but at the same time also, how ragamuffinism can only thus swing around into ownness. The oldfeudal system was so thoroughly trampled into the ground in the Revolution that since then all reactionary craft has remained fruitless, and will always remain fruitless, because the dead is — dead; but the resurrection too had to prove itself a truth in Christian history, and has so proved itself: for in another world feudalism is risen again with a glorified body, the new feudalism under the suzerainty of “Man.”
Christianity is not annihilated, but the faithful are right in having hitherto trustfully assumed of every combat against it that this could serve only for the purgation and confirmation of Christianity; for it has really only been glorified, and “Christianity exposed” is the — human Christianity. We are still living entirely in the Christian age, and the very ones who feel worst about it are the most zealously contributing to “complete” it. The more human, the dearer has feudalism become to us; for we the less believe that it still is feudalism, we take it the more confidently for ownness and think we have found what is “most absolutely our own” when we discover “the human.”
Liberalism wants to give me what is mine, but it thinks to procure it for me not under the title of mine, but under that of the “human.” As if it were attainable under this mask! The rights of man, the precious work of the Revolution, have the meaning that the Man in me entitles [Literally, furnishes me with a right] me to this and that; I as individual, i.e. as this man, am not entitled, but Man has the right and entitles me. Hence as man I may well be entitled; but, as I am more than man, to wit, a special man, it may be refused to this very me, the special one. If on the other hand you insist on the value of your gifts, keep up their price, do not let yourselves be forced to sell out below price, do not let yourselves be talked into the idea that your ware is not worth its price. do not make yourself ridiculous by a “ridiculous price,” but imitate the brave man who says, I will sell my life (property) dear, the enemy shall not have it at a cheap bargain; then you have recognized the reverse of Communism as the correct thing, and the word then is not “Give up your property!” but “Get the value out of your property!”
Over the portal of our time stands not that “Know thyself” of Apollo, but a “Get the value out of thyself!”
Proudhon calls property “robbery” (le vol). But alien property — and he is talking of this alone — is not less existent by renunciation, cession, and humility; it is a present. Why so sentimentally call for compassion as a poor victim of robbery, when one is just a foolish, cowardly giver of presents? Why here again put the fault on others as if they were robbing us, while we ourselves do bear the fault in leaving the others unrobbed? The poor are to blame for there being rich men.
Universally, no one grows indignant at his, but at alien property. They do not in truth attack property, but the alienation of property. They want to be able to call more, not less, theirs; they want to call everything theirs. They are fighting, therefore, against alienness, or, to form a word similar to property, against alienty. And how do they help themselves therein? Instead of transforming the alien into own, they play impartial and ask only that all property be left to a third party, e.g. human society. They revindicate the alien not in their own name but in a third party’s. Now the “egoistic” coloring is wiped off, and everything is so clean and — human!
Propertylessness or ragamuffinism, this then is the “essence of Christianity,” as it is essence of all religiousness (i.e. godliness, morality, humanity), and only announced itself most clearly, and, as glad tidings, became a gospel capable of development, in the “absolute religion.” We have before us the most striking development in the present fight against property, a fight which is to bring “Man” to victory and make propertylessness complete: victorious humanity is the victory of —Christianity. But the “Christianity exposed” thus is feudalism completed. the most all-embracing feudal system, i.e. perfect ragamuffinism.
Once more then, doubtless, a “revolution” against the feudal system? —
Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synonymous. The former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the established condition or status, the State or society, and is accordingly a political or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable consequence a transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it but from men’s discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, but a rising of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring from it. The Revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on “institutions.” It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay. Now, as my object is not the overthrow of an established order but my elevation above it, my purpose and deed are not a political or social but (as directed toward myself and my ownness alone) an egoistic purpose and deed.
The revolution commands one to make arrangements, the insurrection [Empörung] demands that he rise or exalt himself.[sich auf-oder empörzurichten] What constitution was to be chosen, this question busied the revolutionary heads, and the whole political period foams with constitutional fights and constitutional questions, as the social talents too were uncommonly inventive in societary arrangements (phalansteries etc.). The insurgent  strives to become constitutionless.
While, to get greater clearness, I am thinking up a comparison, the founding of Christianity comes unexpectedly into my mind. On the liberal side it is noted as a bad point in the first Christians that they preached obedience to the established heathen civil order, enjoined recognition of the heathen authorities, and confidently delivered a command, “Give to the emperor that which is the emperor’s.” Yet how much disturbance arose at the same time against the Roman supremacy, how mutinous did the Jews and even the Romans show themselves against their own temporal government! In short, how popular was “political discontent!” Those Christians would hear nothing of it; would not side with the “liberal tendencies.” The time was politically so agitated that, as is said in the gospels, people thought they could not accuse the founder of Christianity more successfully than if they arraigned him for “political intrigue,” and yet the same gospels report that he was precisely the one who took least part in these political doings. But why was he not a revolutionist, not a demagogue, as the Jews would gladly have seen him? Why was he not a liberal? Because he expected no salvation from a change of conditions, and this whole business was indifferent to him. He was not a revolutionist, like e.g. Caesar, but an insurgent; not a State-overturner, but one who straightened himself up. That was why it was for him only a matter of “Be ye wise as serpents,” which expresses the same sense as, in the special case, that “Give to the emperor that which is the emperor’s”; for he was not carrying on any liberal or political fight against the established authorities, but wanted to walk his own way, untroubled about, and undisturbed by, these authorities. Not less indifferent to him than the government were its enemies, for neither understood what he wanted, and he had only to keep them off from him with the wisdom of the serpent. But, even though not a ringleader of popular mutiny, not a demagogue or revolutionist, he (and every one of the ancient Christians) was so much the more an insurgent, who lifted himself above everything that seemed sublime to the government and its opponents, and absolved himself from everything that they remained bound to, and who at the same time cut off the sources of life of the whole heathen world, with which the established State must wither away as a matter of course; precisely because he put from him the upsetting of the established, he was its deadly enemy and real annihilator; for he walled it in, confidently and recklessly carrying up the building of his temple over it, without heeding the pains of the immured.
Now, as it happened to the heathen order of the world, will the Christian order fare likewise? A revolution certainly does not bring on the end if an insurrection is not consummated first!
My intercourse with the world, what does it aim at? I want to have the enjoyment of it, therefore it must be my property, and therefore I want to win it. I do not want the liberty of men, nor their equality; I want only my power over them, I want to make them my property, i.e. material for enjoyment. And, if I do not succeed in that, well, then I call even the power over life and death, which Church and State reserved to themselves — mine. Brand that officer’s widow who, in the flight in Russia, after her leg has been shot away, takes the garter from it, strangles her child therewith, and then bleeds to death alongside the corpse — brand the memory of the — infanticide. Who knows, if this child had remained alive, how much it might have “been of use to the world!” The mother murdered it because she wanted to die satisfied and at rest. Perhaps this case still appeals to your sentimentality, and you do not know how to read out of it anything further. Be it so; I on my part use it as an example for this, that my satisfaction decides about my relation to men, and that I do not renounce, from any access of humility, even the power over life and death.
As regards “social duties” in general, another does not give me my position toward others, therefore neither God nor humanity prescribes to me my relation to men, but I give myself this position. This is more strikingly said thus: I have no duty to others, as I have a duty even to myself (e.g. that of self-preservation, and therefore not suicide) only so long as I distinguish myself from myself (my immortal soul from my earthly existence, etc.).
I no longer humble myself before any power, and I recognize that all powers are only my power, which I have to subject at once when they threaten to become a power against or above me; each of them must be only one of my means to carry my point, as a hound is our power against game, but is killed by us if it should fall upon us ourselves. All powers that dominate me I then reduce to serving me. The idols exist through me; I need only refrain from creating them anew, then they exist no longer: “higher powers” exist only through my exalting them and abasing myself.
Consequently my relation to the world is this: I no longer do anything for it “for God’s sake,” I do nothing “for man’s sake,” but what I do I do “for my sake.” Thus alone does the world satisfy me, while it is characteristic of the religious standpoint, in which I include the moral and humane also, that from it everything remains a pious wish (pium desiderium), i.e. an other-world matter, something unattained. Thus the general salvation of men, the moral world of a general love, eternal peace, the cessation of egoism, etc. “Nothing in this world is perfect.” With this miserable phrase the good part from it, and take flight into their closet to God, or into their proud “self-consciousness.” But we remain in this “imperfect” world, because even so we can use it for our — self-enjoyment.
My intercourse with the world consists in my enjoying it, and so consuming it for my self-enjoyment. Intercourse is the enjoyment of the world, and belongs to my — self-enjoyment.
We stand at the boundary of a period. The world hitherto took thought for nothing but the gain of life, took care for — life. For whether all activity is put on the stretch for the life of this world or of the other, for the temporal or for the eternal, whether one hankers for “daily bread” (“Give us our daily bread”) or for “holy bread” (“the true bread from heaven” “the bread of God, that comes from heaven and gives life to the world”; “the bread of life,” John 6), whether one takes care for “dear life” or for “life to eternity” — this does not change the object of the strain and care, which in the one case as in the other shows itself to be life. Do the modern tendencies announce themselves otherwise? People now want nobody to be embarrassed for the most indispensable necessaries of life, but want every one to feel secure as to these; and on the other hand they teach that man has this life to attend to and the real world to adapt himself to, without vain care for another.
Let us take up the same thing from another side. When one is anxious only to live, he easily, in this solicitude, forgets the enjoyment of life. If his only concern is for life, and he thinks “if I only have my dear life,” he does not apply his full strength to using, i. e., enjoying, life. But how does one use life? In using it up, like the candle, which one uses in burning it up. One uses life, and consequently himself the living one, in consuming it and himself. Enjoyment of life is using life up.
Now — we are in search of the enjoyment of life! And what did the religious world do? It went in search of life. Wherein consists the true life, the blessed life; etc.? How is it to be attained? What must man do and become in order to become a truly living man? How does he fulfil this calling? These and similar questions indicate that the askers were still seeking for themselves — to wit, themselves in the true sense, in the sense of true living. “What I am is foam and shadow; what I shall be is my true self.” To chase after this self, to produce it, to realize it, constitutes the hard task of mortals, who die only to rise again, live only to die, live only to find the true life.
Not till I am certain of myself, and no longer seeking for myself, am I really my property; I have myself, therefore I use and enjoy myself. On the other hand, I can never take comfort in myself as long as I think that I have still to find my true self and that it must come to this, that not I but Christ or some other spiritual, i.e. ghostly, self (e.g. the true man, the essence of man, etc.) lives in me.
A vast interval separates the two views. In the old I go toward myself, in the new I start from myself; in the former I long for myself, in the latter I have myself and do with myself as one does with any other property — I enjoy myself at my pleasure. I am no longer afraid for my life, but “squander” it.
Henceforth, the question runs, not how one can acquire life, but how one can squander, enjoy it; or, not how one is to produce the true self in himself, but how one is to dissolve himself, to live himself out.
What else should the ideal be but the sought-for ever-distant self? One seeks for himself, consequently one doth not yet have himself; one aspires toward what one ought to be, consequently one is not it. One lives in longing and has lived thousands of years in it, in hope. Living is quite another thing in — enjoyment!
Does this perchance apply only to the so-called pious? No, it applies to all who belong to the departing period of history, even to its men of pleasure. For them too the work-days were followed by a Sunday, and the rush of the world by the dream of a better world, of a general happiness of humanity; in short by an ideal. But philosophers especially are contrasted with the pious. Now, have they been thinking of anything else than the ideal, been planning for anything else than the absolute self? Longing and hope everywhere, and nothing but these. For me, call it romanticism.
If the enjoyment of life is to triumph over the longing for life or hope of life, it must vanquish this in its double significance which Schiller introduces in his “Ideal and Life”; it must crush spiritual and secular poverty, exterminate the ideal and — the want of daily bread. He who must expend his life to prolong life cannot enjoy it, and he who is still seeking for his life does not have it and can as little enjoy it: both are poor, but “blessed are the poor.”
Those who are hungering for the true life have no power over their present life, but must apply it for the purpose of thereby gaining that true life, and must sacrifice it entirely to this aspiration and this task. If in the case of those devotees who hope for a life in the other world, and look upon that in this world as merely a preparation for it, the tributariness of their earthly existence, which they put solely into the service of the hoped-for heavenly existence, is pretty distinctly apparent; one would yet go far wrong if one wanted to consider the most rationalistic and enlightened as less self-sacrificing. Oh, there is to be found in the “true life” a much more comprehensive significance than the “heavenly” is competent to express. Now, is not — to introduce the liberal concept of it at once — the “human” and “truly human” life the true one? And is every one already leading this truly human life from the start, or must he first raise himself to it with hard toil? Does he already have it as his present life, or must he struggle for it as his future life, which will become his part only when he “is no longer tainted with any egoism”? In this view life exists only to gain life, and one lives only to make the essence of man alive in oneself, one lives for the sake of this essence. One has his life only in order to procure by means of it the “true” life cleansed of all egoism. Hence one is afraid to make any use he likes of his life: it is to serve only for the “right use.”
In short, one has a calling in life, a task in life; one has something to realize and produce by his life, a something for which our life is only means and implement, a something that is worth more than this life, a something to which one owes his life. One has a God who asks a living sacrifice. Only the rudeness of human sacrifice has been lost with time; human sacrifice itself has remained unabated, and criminals hourly fall sacrifices to justice, and we “poor sinners” slay our own selves as sacrifices for “the human essence,” the “idea of mankind,” “humanity,” and whatever the idols or gods are called besides.
But, because we owe our life to that something, therefore —this is the next point — we have no right to take it from us.
The conservative tendency of Christianity does not permit thinking of death otherwise than with the purpose to take its sting from it and — live on and preserve oneself nicely. The Christian lets everything happen and come upon him if he — the arch-Jew — can only haggle and smuggle himself into heaven; he must not kill himself, he must only — preserve himself and work at the “preparation of a future abode.” Conservatism or “conquest of death” lies at his heart; “the last enemy that is abolished is death.” “Christ has taken the power from death and brought life and imperishable being to light by the gospel.” “Imperishableness,” stability.
The moral man wants the good, the right; and, if he takes to the means that lead to this goal, really lead to it, then these means are not his means, but those of the good, right, etc., itself. These means are never immoral, because the good end itself mediates itself through them: the end sanctifies the means. They call this maxim jesuitical, but it is “moral” through and through. The moral man acts in the service of an end or an idea: he makes himself the tool of the idea of the good, as the pious man counts it his glory to be a tool or instrument of God. To await death is what the moral commandment postulates as the good; to give it to oneself is immoral and bad: suicide finds no excuse before the judgment-seat of morality. If the religious man forbids it because “you have not given yourself life, but God, who alone can also take it from you again” (as if, even taking in this conception, God did not take it from me just as much when I kill myself as when a tile from the roof, or a hostile bullet, fells me; for he would have aroused the resolution of death in me too!), the moral man forbids it because I owe my life to the fatherland, etc., “because I do not know whether I may not yet accomplish good by my life.” Of course, for in me good loses a tool, as God does an instrument. If I am immoral, the good is served in my amendment; if I am “ungodly,” God has joy in my penitence. Suicide, therefore, is ungodly as well as nefarious. If one whose standpoint is religiousness takes his own life, he acts in forgetfulness of God; but, if the suicide’s standpoint is morality, he acts in forgetfulness of duty, immorally. People worried themselves much with the question whether Emilia Galotti’s death can be justified before morality (they take it as if it were suicide, which it is too in substance). That she is so infatuated with chastity, this moral good, as to yield up even her life for it is certainly moral; but, again, that she fears the weakness of her flesh is immoral. Such contradictions form the tragic conflict universally in the moral drama; and one must think and feel morally to be able to take an interest in it.
What holds good of piety and morality will necessarily apply to humanity also, because one owes his life likewise to man, mankind or the species. Only when I am under obligation to no being is the maintaining of life — my affair. “A leap from this bridge makes me free!”
But, if we owe the maintaining of our life to that being that we are to make alive in ourselves, it is not less our duty not to lead this life according to ourpleasure, but to shape it in conformity to that being. All my feeling, thinking, and willing, all my doing and designing, belongs to — him.
What is in conformity to that being is to be inferred from his concept; and how differently has this concept been conceived! or how differently has that being been imagined! What demands the Supreme Being makes on the Mohammedan; what different ones the Christian, again, thinks he hears from him; how divergent, therefore, must the shaping of the lives of the two turn out! Only this do all hold fast, that the Supreme Being is to judge [Or, “regulate” (richten)] our life.
But the pious who have their judge in God, and in his word a book of directions for their life, I everywhere pass by only reminiscently, because they belong to a period of development that has been lived through, and as petrifactions they may remain in their fixed place right along; in our time it is no longer the pious, but the liberals, who have the floor, and piety itself cannot keep from reddening its pale face with liberal coloring. But the liberals do not adore their judge in God, and do not unfold their life by the directions of the divine word, but regulate [richten] themselves by man: they want to be not “divine” but “human,” and to live so.
Man is the liberal’s supreme being, man the judge of his life, humanity his directions, or catechism. God is spirit, but man is the “most perfect spirit,” the final result of the long chase after the spirit or of the “searching in the depths of the Godhead,” i.e. in the depths of the spirit.
Every one of your traits is to be human; you yourself are to be so from top to toe, in the inward as in the outward; for humanity is your calling.
Calling — destiny — task! —
What one can become he does become. A born poet may well be hindered by the disfavor of circumstances from standing on the high level of his time, and, after the great studies that are indispensable for this, producing consummate works of art; but he will make poetry, be he a plowman or so lucky as to live at the court of Weimar. A born musician will make music, no matter whether on all instruments or only on an oaten pipe. A born philosophical head can give proof of itself as university philosopher or as village philosopher. Finally, a born dolt, who, as is very well compatible with this, may at the same time be a sly-boots, will (as probably every one who has visited schools is in a position to exemplify to himself by many instances of fellow-scholars) always remain a blockhead, let him have been drilled and trained into the chief of a bureau, or let him serve that same chief as bootblack. Nay, the born shallow-pates indisputably form the most numerous class of men. And why. indeed, should not the same distinctions show themselves in the human species that are unmistakable in every species of beasts? The more gifted and the less gifted are to be found everywhere.
Only a few, however, are so imbecile that one could not get ideas into them. Hence, people usually consider all men capable of having religion. In a certain degree they may be trained to other ideas too, e.g. to some musical intelligence, even some philosophy. At this point then the priesthood of religion, of morality, of culture, of science, etc., takes its start, and the Communists, e.g. want to make everything accessible to all by their “public school.” There is heard a common assertion that this “great mass” cannot get along without religion; the Communists broaden it into the proposition that not only the “great mass,” but absolutely all, are called to everything.
Not enough that the great mass has been trained to religion, now it is actually to have to occupy itself with “everything human.” Training is growing ever more general and more comprehensive.
You poor beings who could live so happily if you might skip according to your mind, you are to dance to the pipe of schoolmasters and bear-leaders, in order to perform tricks that you yourselves would never use yourselves for. And you do not even kick out of the traces at last against being always taken otherwise than you want to give yourselves. No, you mechanically recite to yourselves the question that is recited to you: “What am I called to? What ought I to do?” You need only ask thus, to have yourselves told what you ought to do and ordered to do it, to have your calling marked out for you, or else to order yourselves and impose it on yourselves according to the spirit’s prescription. Then in reference to the will the word is, I will to do what I ought.
A man is “called” to nothing, and has no “calling,” no “destiny,” as little as a plant or a beast has a “calling.” The flower does not follow the calling to complete itself, but it spends all its forces to enjoy and consume the world as well as it can — i.e. it sucks in as much of the juices of the earth, as much air of the ether, as much light of the sun, as it can get and lodge. The bird lives up to no calling, but it uses its forces as much as is practicable; it catches beetles and sings to its heart’s delight. But the forces of the flower and the bird are slight in comparison to those of a man, and a man who applies his forces will affect the world much more powerfully than flower and beast. A calling he has not, but he has forces that manifest themselves where they are because their being consists solely in their manifestation, and are as little able to abide inactive as life, which, if it “stood still” only a second, would no longer be life. Now, one might call out to the man, “use your force.” Yet to this imperative would be given the meaning that it was man’s task to use his force. It is not so. Rather, each one really uses his force without first looking upon this as his calling: at all times every one uses as much force as he possesses. One does say of a beaten man that he ought to have exerted his force more; but one forgets that, if in the moment of succumbing he had the force to exert his forces (e.g. bodily forces), he would not have failed to do it: even if it was only the discouragement of a minute, this was yet a —destitution of force, a minute long. Forces may assuredly be sharpened and redoubled, especially by hostile resistance or friendly assistance; but where one misses their application one may be sure of their absence too. One can strike fire out of a stone, but without the blow none comes out; in like manner a man too needs “impact.”
Now, for this reason that forces always of themselves show themselves operative, the command to use them would be superfluous and senseless. To use his forces is not man’s calling and task, but is his act, real and extant at all times. Force is only a simpler word for manifestation of force.
Now, as this rose is a true rose to begin with, this nightingale always a true nightingale, so I am not for the first time a true man when I fulfil my calling, live up to my destiny, but I am a “true man” from the start. My first babble is the token of the life of a “true man,” the struggles of my life are the outpourings of his force, my last breath is the last exhalation of the force of the “man.”
The true man does not lie in the future, an object of longing, but lies, existent and real, in the present. Whatever and whoever I may be, joyous and suffering, a child or a graybeard, in confidence or doubt, in sleep or in waking, I am it, I am the true man.
But, if I am Man, and have really found in myself him whom religious humanity designated as the distant goal, then everything “truly human” is also myown. What was ascribed to the idea of humanity belongs to me. That freedom of trade, e.g., which humanity has yet to attain — and which, like an enchanting dream, people remove to humanity’s golden future — I take by anticipation as my property, and carry it on for the time in the form of smuggling. There may indeed be but few smugglers who have sufficient understanding to thus account to themselves for their doings, but the instinct of egoism replaces their consciousness. Above I have shown the same thing about freedom of the press.
Everything is my own, therefore I bring back to myself what wants to withdraw from me; but above all I always bring myself back when I have slipped away from myself to any tributariness. But this too is not my calling, but my natural act.
Enough, there is a mighty difference whether I make myself the starting-point or the goal. As the latter I do not have myself, am consequently still alien to myself, am my essence, my “true essence,” and this “true essence,” alien to me, will mock me as a spook of a thousand different names. Because I am not yet I, another (like God, the true man, the truly pious man, the rational man, the freeman, etc.) is I, my ego.
Still far from myself, I separate myself into two halves, of which one, the one unattained and to be fulfilled, is the true one. The one, the untrue, must be brought as a sacrifice; to wit, the unspiritual one. The other, the true, is to be the whole man; to wit, the spirit. Then it is said, “The spirit is man’s proper essence,” or, “man exists as man only spiritually.” Now, there is a greedy rush to catch the spirit, as if one would then have bagged himself; and so, in chasing after himself, one loses sight of himself, whom he is.
And, as one stormily pursues his own self, the never-attained, so one also despises shrewd people’s rule to take men as they are, and prefers to take them as they should be; and, for this reason, hounds every one on after his should-be self and “endeavors to make all into equally entitled, equally respectable, equally moral or rational men.”
Yes, “if men were what they should be, could be, if all men were rational, all loved each other as brothers,” then it would be a paradisiacal life. — All right, men are as they should be, can be. What should they be? Surely not more than they can be! And what can they be? Not more, again, than they — can, than they have the competence, the force, to be. But this they really are, because what they are not they are incapable of being; for to be capable means — really to be. One is not capable for anything that one really is not; one is not capable of anything that one does not really do. Could a man blinded by cataracts see? Oh, yes, if he had his cataracts successfully removed. But now he cannot see because he does not see. Possibility and reality always coincide. One can do nothing that one does not, as one does nothing that one cannot.
The singularity of this assertion vanishes when one reflects that the words “it is possible that.” almost never contain another meaning than “I can imagine that…,” e.g., It is possible for all men to live rationally; e.g., I can imagine that all, etc. Now — since my thinking cannot, and accordingly does not, cause all men to live rationally, but this must still be left to the men themselves — general reason is for me only thinkable, a thinkableness, but as such in fact a reality that is called a possibility only in reference to what I can not bring to pass, to wit, the rationality of others. So far as depends on you, all men might be rational, for you have nothing against it; nay, so far as your thinking reaches, you perhaps cannot discover any hindrance either, and accordingly nothing does stand in the way of the thing in your thinking; it is thinkable to you.
As men are not all rational, though, it is probable that they — cannot be so.
If something which one imagines to be easily possible is not, or does not happen, then one may be assured that something stands in the way of the thing, and that it is — impossible. Our time has its art, science, etc.; the art may be bad in all conscience; but may one say that we deserved to have a better, and “could” have it if we only would? We have just as much art as we can have. Our art of today is the only art possible, and therefore real, at the time.
Even in the sense to which one might at last still reduce the word “possible,” that it should mean “future,” it retains the full force of the “real.” If one says, e.g., “It is possible that the sun will rise tomorrow” — this means only, “for today tomorrow is the real future”; for I suppose there is hardly need of the suggestion that a future is real “future” only when it has not yet appeared.
Yet wherefore this dignifying of a word? If the most prolific misunderstanding of thousands of years were not in ambush behind it, if this single concept of the little word “possible” were not haunted by all the spooks of possessed men, its contemplation should trouble us little here.
The thought, it was just now shown, rules the possessed world. Well, then, possibility is nothing but thinkableness, and innumerable sacrifices have hitherto been made to hideous thinkableness. It was thinkable that men might become rational; thinkable, that they might know Christ; thinkable, that they might become moral and enthusiastic for the good; thinkable, that they might all take refuge in the Church’s lap; thinkable, that they might meditate, speak, and do, nothing dangerous to the State; thinkable, that they might be obedient subjects; but, because it was thinkable, it was — so ran the inference — possible, and further, because it was possible to men (right here lies the deceptive point; because it is thinkable to me, it is possible to men), therefore they ought to be so, it was their calling; and finally — one is to take men only according to this calling, only as called men, “not as they are, but as they ought to be.”
And the further inference? Man is not the individual, but man is a thought, an ideal, to which the individual is related not even as the child to the man, but as a chalk point to a point thought of, or as a — finite creature to the eternal Creator, or, according to modern views, as the specimen to the species. Here then comes to light the glorification of “humanity,” the “eternal, immortal,” for whose glory (in majorem humanitatis gloriam) the individual must devote himself and find his “immortal renown” in having done something for the “spirit of humanity.”
Thus the thinkers rule in the world as long as the age of priests or of schoolmasters lasts, and what they think of is possible, but what is possible must be realized. They think an ideal of man, which for the time is real only in their thoughts; but they also think the possibility of carrying it out, and there is no chance for dispute, the carrying out is really — thinkable, it is an — idea.
But you and I, we may indeed be people of whom a Krummacher can think that we might yet become good Christians; if, however, he wanted to “labor with” us, we should soon make it palpable to him that our Christianity is only thinkable, but in other respects impossible; if he grinned on and on at us with his obtrusive thoughts, his “good belief,” he would have to learn that we do not at all need to become what we do not like to become.
And so it goes on, far beyond the most pious of the pious. “If all men were rational, if all did right, if all were guided by philanthropy, etc.”! Reason, right, philanthropy, are put before the eyes of men as their calling, as the goal of their aspiration. And what does being rational mean? Giving oneself a hearing?[vernünftig, derived from vernehmen, to hear] No, reason is a book full of laws, which are all enacted against egoism.
History hitherto is the history of the intellectual man. After the period of sensuality, history proper begins; i.e. the period of intellectuality,[Geistigkeit] spirituality,[Geistlichkeit] non-sensuality, supersensuality, nonsensicality. Man now begins to want to be and become something. What? Good, beautiful, true; more precisely, moral, pious, agreeable, etc. He wants to make of himself a “proper man,” “something proper.” Man is his goal, his ought, his destiny, calling, task, his — ideal; he is to himself a future, otherworldly he. And what makes a “proper fellow” of him? Being true, being good, being moral, etc. Now he looks askance at every one who does not recognize the same “what,” seek the same morality, have the same faith, he chases out “separatists, heretics, sects,” etc.
No sheep, no dog, exerts itself to become a “proper sheep, a proper dog”; no beast has its essence appear to it as a task, i.e. as a concept that it has to realize. It realizes itself in living itself out, in dissolving itself, passing away. It does not ask to be or to become anything other than it is.
Do I mean to advise you to be like the beasts? That you ought to become beasts is an exhortation which I certainly cannot give you, as that would again be a task, an ideal (“How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour. In works of labor or of skill I would be busy too, for Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do”). It would be the same, too, as if one wished for the beasts that they should become human beings. Your nature is, once for all, a human one; you are human natures, human beings. But, just because you already are so, you do not still need to become so. Beasts too are “trained,” and a trained beast executes many unnatural things. But a trained dog is no better for itself than a natural one, and has no profit from it, even if it is more companionable for us.
Exertions to “form” all men into moral, rational, pious, human, “beings” (i.e. training) were in vogue from of yore. They are wrecked against the indomitable quality of I, against own nature, against egoism. Those who are trained never attain their ideal, and only profess with their mouth the sublime principles, or make a profession, a profession of faith. In face of this profession they must in life “acknowledge themselves sinners altogether,” and they fall short of their ideal, are “weak men,” and bear with them the consciousness of “human weakness.”
It is different if you do not chase after an ideal as your “destiny,” but dissolve yourself as time dissolves everything. The dissolution is not your “destiny,” because it is present time.
Yet the culture, the religiousness, of men has assuredly made them free, but only free from one lord, to lead them to another. I have learned by religion to tame my appetite, I break the world’s resistance by the cunning that is put in my hand by science; I even serve no man; “I am no man’s lackey.” But then it comes. You must obey God more than man. Just so I am indeed free from irrational determination by my impulses. but obedient to the master Reason. I have gained “spiritual freedom,” “freedom of the spirit.” But with that I have then become subject to that very spirit. The spirit gives me orders, reason guides me, they are my leaders and commanders. The “rational,” the “servants of the spirit,” rule. But, if I am not flesh, I am in truth not spirit either. Freedom of the spirit is servitude of me, because I am more than spirit or flesh.
Without doubt culture has made me powerful. It has given me power over all motives, over the impulses of my nature as well as over the exactions and violences of the world. I know, and have gained the force for it by culture, that I need not let myself be coerced by any of my appetites, pleasures, emotions, etc.; I am their — master; in like manner I become, through the sciences and arts, the master of the refractory world, whom sea and earth obey, and to whom even the stars must give an account of themselves. The spirit has made me master. — But I have no power over the spirit itself. From religion (culture) I do learn the means for the “vanquishing of the world,” but not how I am to subdue God too and become master of him; for God “is the spirit.” And this same spirit, of which I am unable to become master, may have the most manifold shapes; he may be called God or National Spirit, State, Family, Reason, also — Liberty, Humanity, Man.
I receive with thanks what the centuries of culture have acquired for me; I am not willing to throw away and give up anything of it: I have not lived in vain. The experience that I have power over my nature, and need not be the slave of my appetites, shall not be lost to me; the experience that I can subdue the world by culture’s means is too dear- bought for me to be able to forget it. But I want still more.
People ask, what can man do? What can he accomplish? What goods procure, and put down the highest of everything as a calling. As if everything were possible to me!
If one sees somebody going to ruin in a mania, a passion, etc. (e.g. in the huckster-spirit, in jealousy), the desire is stirred to deliver him out of this possession and to help him to “self-conquest.” “We want to make a man of him!” That would be very fine if another possession were not immediately put in the place of the earlier one. But one frees from the love of money him who is a thrall to it, only to deliver him over to piety, humanity, or some principle else, and to transfer him to a fixed standpoint anew.
This transference from a narrow standpoint to a sublime one is declared in the words that the sense must not be directed to the perishable, but to the imperishable alone: not to the temporal, but to the eternal, absolute, divine, purely human, etc. — to the spiritual.
People very soon discerned that it was not indifferent what one set his affections on, or what one occupied himself with; they recognized the importance of the object. An object exalted above the individuality of things is the essence of things; yes, the essence is alone the thinkable in them. it is for the thinking man. Therefore direct no longer your sense to the things, but your thoughts to the essence. “Blessed are they who see not, and yet believe”; i. e., blessed are the thinkers, for they have to do with the invisible and believe in it. Yet even an object of thought, that constituted an essential point of contention centuries long, comes at last to the point of being “No longer worth speaking of.” This was discerned, but nevertheless people always kept before their eyes again a self-valid importance of the object, an absolute value of it, as if the doll were not the most important thing to the child, the Koran to the Turk. As long as I am not the sole important thing to myself, it is indifferent of what object I “make much,” and only my greater or lesser delinquency against it is of value. The degree of my attachment and devotion marks the standpoint of my liability to service, the degree of my sinning shows the measure of my ownness.
But finally, and in general, one must know how to “put everything out of his mind,” if only so as to be able to — go to sleep. Nothing may occupy us with which we do not occupy ourselves: the victim of ambition cannot run away from his ambitious plans, nor the God-fearing man from the thought of God; infatuation and possessedness coincide.
To want to realize his essence or live comfortably to his concept (which with believers in God signifies as much as to be “pious,” and with believers in humanity means living “humanly”) is what only the sensual and sinful man can propose to himself, the man so long as he has the anxious choice between happiness of sense and peace of soul, so long as he is a “poor sinner.” The Christian is nothing but a sensual man who, knowing of the sacred and being conscious that he violates it, sees in himself a poor sinner: sensualness, recognized as “sinfulness,” is Christian consciousness, is the Christian himself. And if “sin” and “sinfulness” are now no longer taken into the mouths of moderns, but, instead of that, “egoism,” “self-seeking,” “selfishness,” etc., engage them; if the devil has been translated into the “un-man” or “egoistic man” — is the Christian less present then than before? Is not the old discord between good and evil — is not a judge over us, man — is not a calling, the calling to make oneself man — left? If they no longer name it calling, but “task” or, very likely, “duty,” the change of name is quite correct, because “man” is not, like God, a personal being that can “call”; but outside the name the thing remains as of old.
* * *
Every one has a relation to objects, and more, every one is differently related to them. Let us choose as an example that book to which millions of men had a relation for two thousand years, the Bible. What is it, what was it, to each? Absolutely, only what he made out of it! For him who makes to himself nothing at all out of it, it is nothing at all; for him who uses it as an amulet, it has solely the value, the significance, of a means of sorcery; for him who, like children, plays with it, it is nothing but a plaything, etc.
Now, Christianity asks that it shall be the same for all: say the sacred book or the “sacred Scriptures.” This means as much as that the Christian’s view shall also be that of other men, and that no one may be otherwise related to that object. And with this the ownness of the relation is destroyed, and one mind, one disposition, is fixed as the “true”, the “only true” one. In the limitation of the freedom to make of the Bible what I will, the freedom of making in general is limited; and the coercion of a view or a judgment is put in its place. He who should pass the judgment that the Bible was a long error of mankind would judge — criminally.
In fact, the child who tears it to pieces or plays with it, the Inca Atahualpa who lays his ear to it and throws it away contemptuously when it remains dumb, judges just as correctly about the Bible as the priest who praises in it the “Word of God,” or the critic who calls it a job of men’s hands. For how we toss things about is the affair of our option, our free will: we use them according to our heart’s pleasure, or, more clearly, we use them just as we can. Why, what do the parsons scream about when they see how Hegel and the speculative theologians make speculative thoughts out of the contents of the Bible? Precisely this, that they deal with it according to their heart’s pleasure, or “proceed arbitrarily with it.”
But, because we all show ourselves arbitrary in the handling of objects, i.e. do with them as we like best, at our liking (the philosopher likes nothing so well as when he can trace out an “idea” in everything, as the God-fearing man likes to make God his friend by everything, and so, e.g., by keeping the Bible sacred), therefore we nowhere meet such grievous arbitrariness, such a frightful tendency to violence, such stupid coercion, as in this very domain of our — own free will. If we proceed arbitrarily in taking the sacred objects thus or so, how is it then that we want to take it ill of the parson-spirits if they take us just as arbitrarily, in their fashion, and esteem us worthy of the heretic’s fire or of another punishment, perhaps of the — censorship?
What a man is, he makes out of things; “as you look at the world, so it looks at you again.” Then the wise advice makes itself heard again at once, You must only look at it “rightly, unbiasedly,” etc. As if the child did not look at the Bible “rightly and unbiasedly” when it makes it a plaything. That shrewd precept is given us, e.g. by Feuerbach. One does look at things rightly when one makes of them what one will (by things objects in general are here understood, e.g. God, our fellowmen, a sweetheart, a book, a beast, etc.). And therefore the things and the looking at them are not first, but I am, my will is. One will brings thoughts out of the things, will discover reason in the world, will have sacredness in it: therefore one shall find them. “Seek and ye shall find.” What I will seek, I determine: I want, e.g., to get edification from the Bible; it is to be found; I want to read and test the Bible thoroughly; my outcome will be a thorough instruction and criticism — to the extent of my powers. I elect for myself what I have a fancy for, and in electing I show myself — arbitrary.
Connected with this is the discernment that every judgment which I pass upon an object is the creature of my will; and that discernment again leads me to not losing myself in the creature, the judgment, but remaining the creator, the judge, who is ever creating anew. All predicates of objects are my statements, my judgments, my — creatures. If they want to tear themselves loose from me and be something for themselves, or actually overawe me, then I have nothing more pressing to do than to take them back into their nothing, into me the creator. God, Christ, Trinity, morality, the good, etc., are such creatures, of which I must not merely allow myself to say that they are truths, but also that they are deceptions. As I once willed and decreed their existence, so I want to have license to will their non- existence too; I must not let them grow over my head, must not have the weakness to let them become something “absolute,” whereby they would be eternalized and withdrawn from my power and decision. With that I should fall a prey to the principle of stability, the proper life-principle of religion, which concerns itself with creating “sanctuaries that must not be touched,” “eternal truths” — in short, that which shall be “sacred” — and depriving you of what is yours.
The object makes us into possessed men in its sacred form just as in its profane, as a supersensuous object, just as it does as a sensuous one. The appetite or mania refers to both, and avarice and longing for heaven stand on a level. When the rationalists wanted to win people for the sensuous world, Lavater preached the longing for the invisible. The one party wanted to call forth emotion, the other motion, activity.
The conception of objects is altogether diverse, even as God, Christ, the world, were and are conceived of in the most manifold wise. In this every one is a “dissenter,” and after bloody combats so much has at last been attained, that opposite views about one and the same object are no longer condemned as heresies worthy of death. The “dissenters” reconcile themselves to each other. But why should I only dissent (think otherwise) about a thing? Why not push the thinking otherwise to its last extremity, that of no longer having any regard at all for the thing, and therefore thinking its nothingness, crushing it? Then the conception itself has an end, because there is no longer anything to conceive of. Why am I to say, let us suppose, “God is not Allah, not Brahma, not Jehovah, but — God”; but not, “God is nothing but a deception”? Why do people brand me if I am an “atheist”? Because they put the creature above the creator (“They honor and serve the creature more than the Creator”) and require a ruling object, that the subject may be right submissive. I am to bend beneath the absolute, I ought to.
By the “realm of thoughts” Christianity has completed itself; the thought is that inwardness in which all the world’s lights go out, all existence becomes existenceless, the inward. man (the heart, the head) is all in all. This realm of thoughts awaits its deliverance, awaits, like the Sphinx, Oedipus’s key- word to the riddle, that it may enter in at last to its death. I am the annihilator of its continuance, for in the creator’s realm it no longer forms a realm of its own, not a State in the State, but a creature of my creative — thoughtlessness. Only together and at the same time with the benumbed thinkingworld can the world of Christians, Christianity and religion itself, come to its downfall; only when thoughts run out are there no more believers. To the thinker his thinking is a “sublime labor, a sacred activity,” and it rests on a firm faith, the faith in truth. At first praying is a sacred activity, then this sacred “devotion” passes over into a rational and reasoning “thinking,” which, however, likewise retains in the “sacred truth” its underangeable basis of faith, and is only a marvelous machine that the spirit of truth winds up for its service. Free thinking and free science busy me — for it is not I that am free, not I that busy myself, but thinking is free and busies me — with heaven and the heavenly or “divine”; e.g., properly, with the world and the worldly, not this world but “another” world; it is only the reversing and deranging of the world, a busying with the essence of the world, therefore a derangement. The thinker is blind to the immediateness of things, and incapable of mastering them: he does not eat, does not drink, does not enjoy; for the eater and drinker is never the thinker, nay, the latter forgets eating and drinking, his getting on in life, the cares of nourishment, etc., over his thinking; he forgets it as the praying man too forgets it. This is why he appears to the forceful son of nature as a queer Dick, a fool — even if he does look upon him as holy, just as lunatics appeared so to the ancients. Free thinking is lunacy, because it is pure movement of the inwardness, of the merely inward man, which guides and regulates the rest of the man. The shaman and the speculative philosopher mark the bottom and top rounds on the ladder of the inward man, the — Mongol. Shaman and philosopher fight with ghosts, demons, spirits, gods.
Totally different from this free thinking is own thinking, my thinking, a thinking which does not guide me, but is guided, continued, or broken off, by me at my pleasure. The distinction of this own thinking from free thinking is similar to that of own sensuality, which I satisfy at pleasure, from free, unruly sensuality to which I succumb.
Feuerbach, in the Principles of the Philosophy of the Future, is always harping upon being. In this he too, with all his antagonism to Hegel and the absolute philosophy, is stuck fast in abstraction; for “being” is abstraction, as is even “the I.” Only I am not abstraction alone: I am all in all, consequently even abstraction or nothing; I am all and nothing; I am not a mere thought, but at the same time I am full of thoughts, a thought-world. Hegel condemns the own, mine,[das Meinige] — “opinion.” [die —“Meinung”] “Absolute thinking” is that which forgets that it is my thinking, that I think, and that it exists only through me. But I, as I, swallow up again what is mine, am its master; it is only my opinion, which I can at any moment change, i.e. annihilate, take back into myself, and consume. Feuerbach wants to smite Hegel’s “absolute thinking” with unconquered being. But in me being is as much conquered as thinking is. It is my being, as the other is my thinking.
With this, of course, Feuerbach does not get further than to the proof, trivial in itself, that I require the senses for everything, or that I cannot entirely do without these organs. Certainly I cannot think if I do not exist sensuously. But for thinking as well as for feeling, and so for the abstract as well as for the sensuous, I need above all things myself, this quite particular myself, this unique myself. If I were not this one, e.g. Hegel, I should not look at the world as I do look at it, I should not pick out of it that philosophical system which just I as Hegel do, etc. I should indeed have senses, as do other people too, but I should not utilize them as I do.
Thus the reproach is brought up against Hegel by Feuerbach that he misuses language, understanding by many words something else than what natural consciousness takes them for; and yet he too commits the same fault when he gives the “sensuous” a sense of unusual eminence. Thus it is said, p. 69, “the sensuous is not the profane, the destitute of thought, the obvious, that which is understood of itself.” But, if it is the sacred, the full of thought, the recondite, that which can be understood only through mediation — well, then it is no longer what people call the sensuous. The sensuous is only that which exists for the senses; what, on the other hand, is enjoyable only to those who enjoy with more than the senses, who go beyond sense-enjoyment or sense-reception, is at most mediated or introduced by the senses, i. e., the senses constitute a condition for obtaining it, but it is no longer anything sensuous. The sensuous, whatever it may be, when taken up into me becomes something non-sensuous, which, however, may again have sensuous effects, e.g. as by the stirring of my emotions and my blood.
It is well that Feuerbach brings sensuousness to honor, but the only thing he is able to do with it is to clothe the materialism of his “new philosophy” with what had hitherto been the property of idealism, the “absolute philosophy.” As little as people let it be talked into them that one can live on the “spiritual” alone without bread, so little will they believe his word that as a sensuous being one is already everything, and so spiritual, full of thoughts, etc.
Nothing at all is justified by being. What is thought of is as well as what is not thought of; the stone in the street is, and my notion of it is too. Both are only in different spaces, the former in airy space, the latter in my head, in me; for I am space like the street.
The professionals, the privileged, brook no freedom of thought, i.e. no thoughts that do not come from the “Giver of all good,” be he called God, pope, church, or whatever else. If anybody has such illegitimate thoughts, he must whisper them into his confessor’s ear, and have himself chastised by him till the slave-whip becomes unendurable to the free thoughts. In other ways too the professional spirit takes care that free thoughts shall not come at all: first and foremost, by a wise education. He on whom the principles of morality have been duly inculcated never becomes free again from moralizing thoughts, and robbery, perjury, overreaching, etc., remain to him fixed ideas against which no freedom of thought protects him. He has his thoughts “from above,” and gets no further.
It is different with the holders of concessions or patents. Every one must be able to have and form thoughts as he will. If he has the patent, or the concession, of a capacity to think, he needs no special privilege. But, as “all men are rational,” it is free to every one to put into his head any thoughts whatever, and, to the extent of the patent of his natural endowment, to have a greater or less wealth of thoughts. Now one hears the admonitions that one “is to honor all opinions and convictions,” that “every conviction is authorized,” that one must be “tolerant to the views of others,” etc.
But “your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” Or rather, I mean the reverse: Your thoughts are my thoughts, which I dispose of as I will, and which I strike down unmercifully; they are my property, which I annihilate as I list. I do not wait for authorization from you first, to decompose and blow away your thoughts. It does not matter to me that you call these thoughts yours too, they remain mine nevertheless, and how I will proceed with them is my affair, not a usurpation. It may please me to leave you in your thoughts; then I keep still. Do you believe thoughts fly around free like birds, so that every one may get himself some which he may then make good against me as his inviolable property? What is flying around is all — mine.
Do you believe you have your thoughts for yourselves and need answer to no one for them, or as you do also say, you have to give an account of them to God only? No, your great and small thoughts belong to me, and I handle them at my pleasure.
The thought is my own only when I have no misgiving about bringing it in danger of death every moment, when I do not have to fear its loss as a loss for me, a loss of me. The thought is my own only when I can indeed subjugate it, but it never can subjugate me, never fanaticizes me, makes me the tool of its realization.
So freedom of thought exists when I can have all possible thoughts; but the thoughts become property only by not being able to become masters. In the time of freedom of thought, thoughts (ideas) rule; but, if I attain to property in thought, they stand as my creatures.
If the hierarchy had not so penetrated men to the innermost as to take from them all courage to pursue free thoughts, e.g., thoughts perhaps displeasing to God, one would have to consider freedom of thought just as empty a word as, say, a freedom of digestion.
According to the professionals’ opinion, the thought is given to me; according to the freethinkers’, I seek the thought. There the truth is already found and extant, only I must — receive it from its Giver by grace; here the truth is to be sought and is my goal, lying in the future, toward which I have to run.
In both cases the truth (the true thought) lies outside me, and I aspire to get it, be it by presentation (grace), be it by earning (merit of my own). Therefore, (1) The truth is a privilege; (2) No, the way to it is patent to all, and neither the Bible nor the holy fathers nor the church nor any one else is in possession of the truth; but one can come into possession of it by — speculating.
Both, one sees, are property-less in relation to the truth: they have it either as a fief (for the “holy father,” e.g. is not a unique person; as unique he is this Sixtus, Clement, but he does not have the truth as Sixtus, Clement, but as “holy father,” i.e. as a spirit) or as an ideal. As a fief, it is only for a few (the privileged); as an ideal, for all (the patentees).
Freedom of thought, then, has the meaning that we do indeed all walk in the dark and in the paths of error, but every one can on this path approach the truth and is accordingly on the right path (“All roads lead to Rome, to the world’s end, etc.”). Hence freedom of thought means this much, that the true thought is not my own; for, if it were this, how should people want to shut me off from it?
Thinking has become entirely free, and has laid down a lot of truths which I must accommodate myself to. It seeks to complete itself into a system and to bring itself to an absolute “constitution.” In the State e.g. it seeks for the idea, say, till it has brought out the “rational State,” in which I am then obliged to be suited; in man (anthropology), till it “has found man.”
The thinker is distinguished from the believer only by believing much more than the latter, who on his part thinks of much less as signified by his faith (creed). The thinker has a thousand tenets of faith where the believer gets along with few; but the former brings coherence into his tenets, and takes the coherence in turn for the scale to estimate their worth by. If one or the other does not fit into his budget, he throws it out.
The thinkers run parallel to the believers in their pronouncements. Instead of “If it is from God you will not root it out,” the word is “If it is from the truth, is true, etc.”; instead of “Give God the glory” — “Give truth the glory.” But it is very much the same to me whether God or the truth wins; first and foremost I want to win.
Aside from this, how is an “unlimited freedom” to be thinkable inside of the State or society? The State may well protect one against another, but yet it must not let itself be endangered by an unmeasured freedom, a so-called unbridledness. Thus in “freedom of instruction” the State declares only this — that it is suited with every one who instructs as the State (or, speaking more comprehensibly, the political power) would have it. The point for the competitors is this “as the State would have it.” If the clergy, e.g., does not will as the State does, then it itself excludes itself from competition (vid.France). The limit that is necessarily drawn in the State for any and all competition is called “the oversight and superintendence of the State.” In bidding freedom of instruction keep within the due bounds, the State at the same time fixes the scope of freedom of thought; because, as a rule, people do not think farther than their teachers have thought.
Hear Minister Guizot: “The great difficulty of today is the guiding and dominating of the mind. Formerly the church fulfilled this mission; now it is not adequate to it. It is from the university that this great service must be expected, and the university will not fail to perform it. We, the government, have the duty of supporting it therein. The charter calls for the freedom of thought and that of conscience.” So, in favor of freedom of thought and conscience, the minister demands “the guiding and dominating of the mind.”
Catholicism haled the examinee before the forum of ecclesiasticism, Protestantism before that of biblical Christianity. It would be but little bettered if one haled him before that of reason, as Ruge, e.g., wants to.  Whether the church, the Bible, or reason (to which, moreover, Luther and Huss already appealed) is the sacred authority makes no difference in essentials.
The “question of our time” does not become soluble even when one puts it thus: Is anything general authorized, or only the individual? Is the generality (e.g. State, law, custom, morality, etc.) authorized, or individuality? It becomes soluble for the first time when one no longer asks after an “authorization” at all, and does not carry on a mere fight against “privileges.” — A “rational” freedom of teaching, which recognizes only the conscience of reason,” does not bring us to the goal; we require an egoistic freedom of teaching rather, a freedom of teaching for all ownness, wherein Ibecome audible and can announce myself unchecked. That I make myself “audible”[vernehmbar], this alone is “reason,”[Vernunft] be I ever so irrational; in my making myself heard, and so hearing myself, others as well as I myself enjoy me, and at the same time consume me.
What would be gained if, as formerly the orthodox I, the loyal I, the moral I, etc., was free, now the rational I should become free? Would this be the freedom of me?
If I am free as “rational I,” then the rational in me, or reason, is free; and this freedom of reason, or freedom of the thought, was the ideal of the Christian world from of old. They wanted to make thinking — and, as aforesaid, faith is also thinking, as thinking is faith — free; the thinkers, i.e. the believers as well as the rational, were to be free; for the rest freedom was impossible. But the freedom of thinkers is the “freedom of the children of God,” and at the same time the most merciless —hierarchy or dominion of the thought; for I succumb to the thought. If thoughts are free, I am their slave; I have no power over them, and am dominated by them. But I want to have the thought, want to be full of thoughts, but at the same time I want to be thoughtless, and, instead of freedom of thought, I preserve for myself thoughtlessness.
If the point is to have myself understood and to make communications, then assuredly I can make use only of human means, which are at my command because I am at the same time man. And really I have thoughts only as man; as I, I am at the same time thoughtless.[Literally, “thought-rid”] He who cannot get rid of a thought is so far only man, is a thrall of language, this human institution, this treasury of human thoughts. Language or “the word” tyrannizes hardest over us, because it brings up against us a whole army of fixed ideas. Just observe yourself in the act of reflection, right now, and you will find how you make progress only by becoming thoughtless and speechless every moment. You are not thoughtless and speechless merely in (say) sleep, but even in the deepest reflection; yes, precisely then most so. And only by this thoughtlessness, this unrecognized “freedom of thought” or freedom from the thought, are you your own. Only from it do you arrive at putting language to use as your property.
If thinking is not my thinking, it is merely a spun-out thought; it is slave work, or the work of a “servant obeying at the word.” For not a thought, but I, am the beginning for my thinking, and therefore I am its goal too, even as its whole course is only a course of my self-enjoyment; for absolute or free thinking, on the other hand, thinking itself is the beginning, and it plagues itself with propounding this beginning as the extremest “abstraction” (e.g. as being). This very abstraction, or this thought, is then spun out further.
Absolute thinking is the affair of the human spirit, and this is a holy spirit. Hence this thinking is an affair of the parsons, who have “a sense for it,” a sense for the “highest interests of mankind,” for “the spirit.”
To the believer, truths are a settled thing, a fact; to the freethinker, a thing that is still to be settled. Be absolute thinking ever so unbelieving, its incredulity has its limits, and there does remain a belief in the truth, in the spirit, in the idea and its final victory: this thinking does not sin against the holy spirit. But all thinking that does not sin against the holy spirit is belief in spirits or ghosts.
I can as little renounce thinking as feeling, the spirit’s activity as little as the activity of the senses. As feeling is our sense for things, so thinking is our sense for essences (thoughts). Essences have their existence in everything sensuous, especially in the word. The power of words follows that of things: first one is coerced by the rod, afterward by conviction. The might of things overcomes our courage, our spirit; against the power of a conviction, and so of the word, even the rack and the sword lose their overpoweringness and force. The men of conviction are the priestly men, who resist every enticement of Satan.
Christianity took away from the things of this world only their irresistibleness, made us independent of them. In like manner I raise myself above truths and their power: as I am supersensual, so I am supertrue. Before me truths are as common and as indifferent as things; they do not carry me away, and do not inspire me with enthusiasm. There exists not even one truth, not right, not freedom, humanity, etc., that has stability before me, and to which I subject myself. They are words, nothing but words, as to the Christian nothing but “vain things.” In words and truths (every word is a truth, as Hegel asserts that one cannot tell a lie) there is no salvation for me, as little as there is for the Christian in things and vanities. As the riches of this world do not make me happy, so neither do its truths. It is now no longer Satan, but the spirit, that plays the story of the temptation; and he does not seduce by the things of this world, but by its thoughts, by the “glitter of the idea.”
Along with worldly goods, all sacred goods too must be put away as no longer valuable.
Truths are phrases, ways of speaking, words (lógos); brought into connection, or into an articulate series, they form logic, science, philosophy.
For thinking and speaking I need truths and words, as I do foods for eating; without them I cannot think nor speak. Truths are men’s thoughts, set down in words and therefore just as extant as other things, although extant only for the mind or for thinking. They are human institutions and human creatures, and, even if they are given out for divine revelations, there still remains in them the quality of alienness for me; yes, as my own creatures they are already alienated from me after the act of creation.
The Christian man is the man with faith in thinking, who believes in the supreme dominion of thoughts and wants to bring thoughts, so-called “principles,” to dominion. Many a one does indeed test the thoughts, and chooses none of them for his master without criticism, but in this he is like the dog who sniffs at people to smell out “his master”; he is always aiming at the ruling thought. The Christian may reform and revolt an infinite deal, may demolish the ruling concepts of centuries; he will always aspire to a new “principle” or new master again, always set up a higher or “deeper” truth again, always call forth a cult again, always proclaim a spirit called to dominion, lay down a law for all.
If there is even one truth only to which man has to devote his life and his powers because he is man, then he is subjected to a rule, dominion, law; he is a servingman. It is supposed that, e.g. man, humanity, liberty, etc., are such truths.
On the other hand, one can say thus: Whether you will further occupy yourself with thinking depends on you; only know that, if in your thinking you would like to make out anything worthy of notice, many hard problems are to be solved, without vanquishing which you cannot get far. There exists, therefore, no duty and no calling for you to meddle with thoughts (ideas, truths); but, if you will do so, you will do well to utilize what the forces of others have already achieved toward clearing up these difficult subjects.
Thus, therefore, he who will think does assuredly have a task, which he consciously or unconsciously sets for himself in willing that; but no one has the task of thinking or of believing. In the former case it may be said, “You do not go far enough, you have a narrow and biased interest, you do not go to the bottom of the thing; in short, you do not completely subdue it. But, on the other hand, however far you may come at any time, you are still always at the end, you have no call to step farther, and you can have it as you will or as you are able. It stands with this as with any other piece of work, which you can give up when the humor for it wears off. Just so, if you can no longer believe a thing, you do not have to force yourself into faith or to busy yourself lastingly as if with a sacred truth of the faith, as theologians or philosophers do, but you can tranquilly draw back your interest from it and let it run. Priestly spirits will indeed expound this your lack of interest as “laziness, thoughtlessness, obduracy, self-deception,” etc. But do you just let the trumpery lie, notwithstanding. No thing,[Sache] no so-called “highest interest of mankind,” no “sacred cause,”[Sache] is worth your serving it, and occupying yourself with it for its sake; you may seek its worth in this alone, whether it is worth anything to you for your sake. Become like children, the biblical saying admonishes us. But children have no sacred interest and know nothing of a “good cause.” They know all the more accurately what they have a fancy for; and they think over, to the best of their powers, how they are to arrive at it.
Thinking will as little cease as feeling. But the power of thoughts and ideas, the dominion of theories and principles, the sovereignty of the spirit, in short the — hierarchy, lasts as long as the parsons, i.e., theologians, philosophers, statesmen, philistines, liberals, schoolmasters, servants, parents, children, married couples, Proudhon, George Sand, Bluntschli, etc., etc., have the floor; the hierarchy will endure as long as people believe in, think of, or even criticize, principles; for even the most inexorable criticism, which undermines all current principles, still does finally believe in the principle.
Every one criticises, but the criterion is different. People run after the “right” criterion. The right criterion is the first presupposition. The critic starts from a proposition, a truth, a belief. This is not a creation of the critic, but of the dogmatist; nay, commonly it is actually taken up out of the culture of the time without further ceremony, like e.g. “liberty,” “humanity,” etc. The critic has not “discovered man,” but this truth has been established as “man” by the dogmatist, and the critic (who, besides, may be the same person with him) believes in this truth, this article of faith. In this faith, and possessed by this faith, he criticises.
The secret of criticism is some “truth” or other: this remains its energizing mystery.
But I distinguish between servile and own criticism. If I criticize under the presupposition of a supreme being, my criticism serves the being and is carried on for its sake: if e.g. I am possessed by the belief in a “free State,” then everything that has a bearing on it I criticize from the standpoint of whether it is suitable to this State, for I love this State; if I criticize as a pious man, then for me everything falls into the classes of divine and diabolical, and before my criticism nature consists of traces of God or traces of the devil (hence names like Godsgift, Godmount, the Devil’s Pulpit), men of believers and unbelievers; if I criticize while believing in man as the “true essence,” then for me everything falls primarily into the classes of man and the un-man, etc.
Criticism has to this day remained a work of love: for at all times we exercised it for the love of some being. All servile criticism is a product of love, a possessedness, and proceeds according to that New Testament precept, “Test everything and hold fast the good.” “The good” is the touchstone, the criterion. The good, returning under a thousand names and forms, remained always the presupposition, remained the dogmatic fixed point for this criticism, remained the — fixed idea.
The critic, in setting to work, impartially presupposes the “truth,” and seeks for the truth in the belief that it is to be found. He wants to ascertain the true, and has in it that very “good.”
Presuppose means nothing else than put a thought in front, or think something before everything else and think the rest from the starting-point of this that has been thought, i.e. measure and criticize it by this. In other words, this is as much as to say that thinking is to begin with something already thought. If thinking began at all, instead of being begun, if thinking were a subject, an acting personality of its own, as even the plant is such, then indeed there would be no abandoning the principle that thinking must begin with itself. But it is just the personification of thinking that brings to pass those innumerable errors. In the Hegelian system they always talk as if thinking or “the thinking spirit” (i.e. personified thinking, thinking as a ghost) thought and acted; in critical liberalism it is always said that “criticism” does this and that, or else that “self- consciousness” finds this and that. But, if thinking ranks as the personal actor, thinking itself must be presupposed; if criticism ranks as such, a thought must likewise stand in front. Thinking and criticism could be active only starting from themselves, would have to be themselves the presupposition of their activity, as without being they could not be active. But thinking, as a thing presupposed, is a fixed thought, a dogma; thinking and criticism, therefore, can start only from a dogma, i. e. from a thought, a fixed idea, a presupposition.
With this we come back again to what was enunciated above, that Christianity consists in the development of a world of thoughts, or that it is the proper “freedom of thought,” the “free thought,” the “free spirit.” The “true” criticism, which I called “servile,” is therefore just as much “free” criticism, for it is not my own.
The case stands otherwise when what is yours is not made into something that is of itself, not personified, not made independent as a “spirit” to itself. Your thinking has for a presupposition not “thinking,” but you. But thus you do presuppose yourself after all? Yes, but not for myself, but for my thinking. Before my thinking, there is — I. From this it follows that my thinking is not preceded by a thought, or that my thinking is without a “presupposition.” For the presupposition which I am for my thinking is not one made by thinking, not one thought of, but it is posited thinking itself, it is the owner of the thought, and proves only that thinking is nothing more than — property, i. e. that an “independent” thinking, a “thinking spirit,” does not exist at all.
This reversal of the usual way of regarding things might so resemble an empty playing with abstractions that even those against whom it is directed would acquiesce in the harmless aspect I give it, if practical consequences were not connected with it.
To bring these into a concise expression, the assertion now made is that man is not the measure of all things, but I am this measure. The servile critic has before his eyes another being, an idea, which he means to serve; therefore he only slays the false idols for his God. What is done for the love of this being, what else should it be but a — work of love? But I, when I criticize, do not even have myself before my eyes, but am only doing myself a pleasure, amusing myself according to my taste; according to my several needs I chew the thing up or only inhale its odor.
The distinction between the two attitudes will come out still more strikingly if one reflects that the servile critic, because love guides him, supposes he is serving the thing (cause) itself.
The truth, or “truth in general,” people are bound not to give up, but to seek for. What else is it but the Être suprême, the highest essence? Even “true criticism” would have to despair if it lost faith in the truth. And yet the truth is only a — thought; but it is not merely “a” thought, but the thought that is above all thoughts, the irrefragable thought; it is the thought itself, which gives the first hallowing to all others; it is the consecration of thoughts, the “absolute,” the “sacred” thought. The truth wears longer than all the gods; for it is only in the truth’s service, and for love of it, that people have overthrown the gods and at last God himself. “The truth” outlasts the downfall of the world of gods, for it is the immortal soul of this transitory world of gods, it is Deity itself.
I will answer Pilate’s question, What is truth? Truth is the free thought, the free idea, the free spirit; truth is what is free from you, what is not your own, what is not in your power. But truth is also the completely unindependent, impersonal, unreal, and incorporeal; truth cannot step forward as you do, cannot move, change, develop; truth awaits and receives everything from you, and itself is only through you; for it exists only — in your head. You concede that the truth is a thought, but say that not every thought is a true one, or, as you are also likely to express it, not every thought is truly and really a thought. And by what do you measure and recognize the thought? By your impotence, to wit, by your being no longer able to make any successful assault on it! When it overpowers you, inspires you, and carries you away, then you hold it to be the true one. Its dominion over you certifies to you its truth; and, when it possesses you, and you are possessed by it, then you feel well with it, for then you have found your — lord and master. When you were seeking the truth, what did your heart then long for? For your master! You did not aspire to your might, but to a Mighty One, and wanted to exalt a Mighty One (“Exalt ye the Lord our God!”). The truth, my dear Pilate, is — the Lord, and all who seek the truth are seeking and praising the Lord. Where does the Lord exist? Where else but in your head? He is only spirit, and, wherever you believe you really see him, there he is a — ghost; for the Lord is merely something that is thought of, and it was only the Christian pains and agony to make the invisible visible, the spiritual corporeal, that generated the ghost and was the frightful misery of the belief in ghosts.
As long as you believe in the truth, you do not believe in yourself, and you are a — servant, a — religious man. You alone are the truth, or rather, you are more than the truth, which is nothing at all before you. You too do assuredly ask about the truth, you too do assuredly “criticize,” but you do not ask about a “higher truth” — to wit, one that should be higher than you — nor criticize according to the criterion of such a truth. You address yourself to thoughts and notions, as you do to the appearances of things, only for the purpose of making them palatable to you, enjoyable to you, and your own: you want only to subdue them and become their owner, you want to orient yourself and feel at home in them, and you find them true, or see them in their true light, when they can no longer slip away from you, no longer have any unseized or uncomprehended place, or when they are right for you, when they are your property. If afterward they become heavier again, if they wriggle themselves out of your power again, then that is just their untruth — to wit, your impotence. Your impotence is their power, your humility their exaltation. Their truth, therefore, is you, or is the nothing which you are for them and in which they dissolve: their truth is their nothingness.
Only as the property of me do the spirits, the truths, get to rest; and they then for the first time really are, when they have been deprived of their sorry existence and made a property of mine, when it is no longer said “the truth develops itself, rules, asserts itself; history (also a concept) wins the victory,” etc. The truth never has won a victory, but was always my means to the victory, like the sword (“the sword of truth”). The truth is dead, a letter, a word, a material that I can use up. All truth by itself is dead, a corpse; it is alive only in the same way as my lungs are alive — to wit, in the measure of my own vitality. Truths are material, like vegetables and weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed, the decision lies in me.
Objects are to me only material that I use up. Wherever I put my hand I grasp a truth, which I trim for myself. The truth is certain to me, and I do not need to long after it. To do the truth a service is in no case my intent; it is to me only a nourishment for my thinking head, as potatoes are for my digesting stomach, or as a friend is for my social heart. As long as I have the humor and force for thinking, every truth serves me only for me to work it up according to my powers. As reality or worldliness is “vain and a thing of naught” for Christians, so is the truth for me. It exists, exactly as much as the things of this world go on existing although the Christian has proved their nothingness; but it is vain, because it has its value not in itself but in me. Of itself it is valueless. The truth is a — creature.
As you produce innumerable things by your activity, yes, shape the earth’s surface anew and set up works of men everywhere, so too you may still ascertain numberless truths by your thinking, and we will gladly take delight in them. Nevertheless, as I do not please to hand myself over to serve your newly discovered machines mechanically, but only help to set them running for my benefit, so too I will only use your truths, without letting myself be used for their demands.
All truths beneath me are to my liking; a truth above me, a truth that I should have to direct myself by, I am not acquainted with. For me there is no truth, for nothing is more than I! Not even my essence, not even the essence of man, is more than I! than I, this “drop in the bucket,” this “insignificant man”!
You believe that you have done the utmost when you boldly assert that, because every time has its own truth, there is no “absolute truth.” Why, with this you nevertheless still leave to each time its truth, and thus you quite genuinely create an “absolute truth,” a truth that no time lacks, because every time, however its truth may be, still has a “truth.”
Is it meant only that people have been thinking in every time, and so have had thoughts or truths, and that in the subsequent time these were other than they were in the earlier? No, the word is to be that every time had its “truth of faith”; and in fact none has yet appeared in which a “higher truth” has not been recognized, a truth that people believed they must subject themselves to as “highness and majesty.” Every truth of a time is its fixed idea, and, if people later found another truth, this always happened only because they sought for another; they only reformed the folly and put a modern dress on it. For they did want — who would dare doubt their justification for this? — they wanted to be “inspired by an idea.” They wanted to be dominated — possessed, by a thought! The most modern ruler of this kind is “our essence,” or “man.”
For all free criticism a thought was the criterion; for own criticism I am, I the unspeakable, and so not the merely thought-of; for what is merely thought of is always speakable, because word and thought coincide. That is true which is mine, untrue that whose own I am; true, e.g. the union; untrue, the State and society. “Free and true” criticism takes care for the consistent dominion of a thought, an idea, a spirit; “own” criticism, for nothing but my self-enjoyment. But in this the latter is in fact — and we will not spare it this “ignominy”! — like the bestial criticism of instinct. I, like the criticizing beast, am concerned only for myself, not “for the cause.” I am the criterion of truth, but I am not an idea, but more than idea, e.g., unutterable. My criticism is not a “free” criticism, not free from me, and not “servile,” not in the service of an idea, but an own criticism.
True or human criticism makes out only whether something is suitable to man, to the true man; but by own criticism you ascertain whether it is suitable to you.
Free criticism busies itself with ideas, and therefore is always theoretical. However it may rage against ideas, it still does not get clear of them. It pitches into the ghosts, but it can do this only as it holds them to be ghosts. The ideas it has to do with do not fully disappear; the morning breeze of a new day does not scare them away.
The critic may indeed come to ataraxia before ideas, but he never gets rid of them; i.e. he will never comprehend that above the bodily man there does not exist something higher — to wit, liberty, his humanity, etc. He always has a “calling” of man still left, “humanity.” And this idea of humanity remains unrealized, just because it is an “idea” and is to remain such.
If, on the other hand, I grasp the idea as my idea, then it is already realized, because I am its reality; its reality consists in the fact that I, the bodily, have it.
They say, the idea of liberty realizes itself in the history of the world. The reverse is the case; this idea is real as a man thinks it, and it is real in the measure in which it is idea, i. e. in which I think it or have it. It is not the idea of liberty that develops itself, but men develop themselves, and, of course, in this self-development develop their thinking too.
In short, the critic is not yet owner, because he still fights with ideas as with powerful aliens — as the Christian is not owner of his “bad desires” so long as he has to combat them; for him who contends against vice, vice exists.
Criticism remains stuck fast in the “freedom of knowing,” the freedom of the spirit, and the spirit gains its proper freedom when it fills itself with the pure, true idea; this is the freedom of thinking, which cannot be without thoughts.
Criticism smites one idea only by another, e.g. that of privilege by that of manhood, or that of egoism by that of unselfishness.
In general, the beginning of Christianity comes on the stage again in its critical end, egoism being combated here as there. I am not to make myself (the individual) count, but the idea, the general.
Why, warfare of the priesthood with egoism, of the spiritually minded with the worldly-minded, constitutes the substance of all Christian history. In the newest criticism this war only becomes all-embracing, fanaticism complete. Indeed, neither can it pass away till it passes thus, after it has had its life and its rage out.
* * *
Whether what I think and do is Christian, what do I care? Whether it is human, liberal, humane, whether unhuman, illiberal, inhuman, what do I ask about that? If only it accomplishes what I want, if only I satisfy myself in it, then overlay it with predicates as you will; it is all alike to me.
Perhaps I too, in the very next moment, defend myself against my former thoughts; I too am likely to change suddenly my mode of action; but not on account of its not corresponding to Christianity, not on account of its running counter to the eternal rights of man, not on account of its affronting the idea of mankind, humanity, and humanitarianism, but — because I am no longer all in it, because it no longer furnishes me any full enjoyment, because I doubt the earlier thought or no longer please myself in the mode of action just now practiced.
As the world as property has become a material with which I undertake what I will, so the spirit too as property must sink down into a material before which I no longer entertain any sacred dread. Then, firstly, I shall shudder no more before a thought, let it appear as presumptuous and “devilish” as it will, because, if it threatens to become too inconvenient and unsatisfactory for me, its end lies in my power; but neither shall I recoil from any deed because there dwells in it a spirit of godlessness, immorality, wrongfulness. as little as St. Boniface pleased to desist, through religious scrupulousness, from cutting down the sacred oak of the heathens. If the things of the world have once become vain, the thoughts of the spirit must also become vain.
No thought is sacred, for let no thought rank as “devotions”;[Andacht, a compound form of the word “thought”] no feeling is sacred (no sacred feeling of friendship, mother’s feelings, etc.), no belief is sacred. They are all alienable, my alienable property, and are annihilated, as they are created, by me.
The Christian can lose all things or objects, the most loved persons, these “objects” of his love, without giving up himself (i.e., in the Christian sense, his spirit, his soul! as lost. The owner can cast from him all the thoughts that were dear to his heart and kindled his zeal, and will likewise “gain a thousandfold again,” because he, their creator, remains.
Unconsciously and involuntarily we all strive toward ownness, and there will hardly be one among us who has not given up a sacred feeling, a sacred thought, a sacred belief; nay, we probably meet no one who could not still deliver himself from one or another of his sacred thoughts. All our contention against convictions starts from the opinion that maybe we are capable of driving our opponent out of his entrenchments of thought. But what I do unconsciously I half-do, and therefore after every victory over a faith I become again the prisoner (possessed) of a faith which then takes my whole self anew into its service, and makes me an enthusiast for reason after I have ceased to be enthusiastic for the Bible, or an enthusiast for the idea of humanity after I have fought long enough for that of Christianity.
Doubtless, as owner of thoughts, I shall cover my property with my shield, just as I do not, as owner of things, willingly let everybody help himself to them; but at the same time I shall look forward smilingly to the outcome of the battle, smilingly lay the shield on the corpses of my thoughts and my faith, smilingly triumph when I am beaten. That is the very humor of the thing. Every one who has “sublimer feelings” is able to vent his humor on the pettiness of men; but to let it play with all “great thoughts, sublime feelings, noble inspiration, and sacred faith” presupposes that I am the owner of all.
If religion has set up the proposition that we are sinners altogether, I set over against it the other: we are perfect altogether! For we are, every moment, all that we can be; and we never need be more. Since no defect cleaves to us, sin has no meaning either. Show me a sinner in the world still, if no one any longer needs to do what suits a superior! If I only need do what suits myself, I am no sinner if I do not do what suits myself, as I do not injure in myself a “holy one”; if, on the other hand, I am to be pious, then I must do what suits God; if I am to act humanly, I must do what suits the essence of man, the idea of mankind, etc. What religion calls the “sinner,” humanitarianism calls the “egoist.” But, once more: if I need not do what suits any other, is the “egoist,” in whom humanitarianism has borne to itself a new-fangled devil, anything more than a piece of nonsense? The egoist, before whom the humane shudder, is a spook as much as the devil is: he exists only as a bogie and phantasm in their brain. If they were not unsophisticatedly drifting back and forth in the antediluvian opposition of good and evil, to which they have given the modern names of “human” and “egoistic,” they would not have freshened up the hoary “sinner” into an “egoist” either, and put a new patch on an old garment. But they could not do otherwise, for they hold it for their task to be “men.” They are rid of the Good One; good is left!
We are perfect altogether, and on the whole earth there is not one man who is a sinner! There are crazy people who imagine that they are God the Father, God the Son, or the man in the moon, and so too the world swarms with fools who seem to themselves to be sinners; but, as the former are not the man in the moon, so the latter are — not sinners. Their sin is imaginary.
Yet, it is insidiously objected, their craziness or their possessedness is at least their sin. Their possessedness is nothing but what they — could achieve, the result of their development, just as Luther’s faith in the Bible was all that he was — competent to make out. The one brings himself into the madhouse with his development, the other brings himself therewith into the Pantheon and to the loss of —Valhalla.
There is no sinner and no sinful egoism!
Get away from me with your “philanthropy”! Creep in, you philanthropist, into the “dens of vice,” linger awhile in the throng of the great city: will you not everywhere find sin, and sin, and again sin? Will you not wail over corrupt humanity, not lament at the monstrous egoism? Will you see a rich man without finding him pitiless and “egoistic?” Perhaps you already call yourself an atheist, but you remain true to the Christian feeling that a camel will sooner go through a needle’s eye than a rich man not be an “un-man.” How many do you see anyhow that you would not throw into the “egoistic mass”? What, therefore, has your philanthropy [love of man] found? Nothing but unlovable men! And where do they all come from? From you, from your philanthropy! You brought the sinner with you in your head, therefore you found him, therefore you inserted him everywhere. Do not call men sinners, and they are not: you alone are the creator of sinners; you, who fancy that you love men, are the very one to throw them into the mire of sin, the very one to divide them into vicious and virtuous, into men and un-men, the very one to befoul them with the slaver of your possessedness; for you love not men, but man. But I tell you, you have never seen a sinner, you have only — dreamed of him.
Self-enjoyment is embittered to me by my thinking I must serve another, by my fancying myself under obligation to him, by my holding myself called to “self-sacrifice,” “resignation,” “enthusiasm.” All right: if I no longer serve any idea, any “higher essence,” then it is clear of itself that I no longer serve any man either, but — under all circumstances — myself. But thus I am not merely in fact or in being, but also for my consciousness, the — unique.[Einzige]
There pertains to you more than the divine, the human, etc.; yours pertains to you.
Look upon yourself as more powerful than they give you out for, and you have more power; look upon yourself as more, and you have more.
You are then not merely called to everything divine, entitled to everything human, but owner of what is yours, i.e. of all that you possess the force to make your own; [Eigen] i.e. you are appropriate [geeignet] and capacitated for everything that is yours.
People have always supposed that they must give me a destiny lying outside myself, so that at last they demanded that I should lay claim to the human because I am — man. This is the Christian magic circle. Fichte’s ego too is the same essence outside me, for every one is ego; and, if only this ego has rights, then it is “the ego,” it is not I. But I am not an ego along with other egos, but the sole ego: I am unique. Hence my wants too are unique, and my deeds; in short, everything about me is unique. And it is only as this unique I that I take everything for my own, as I set myself to work, and develop myself, only as this. I do not develop men, nor as man, but, as I, I develop — myself.
This is the meaning of the — unique one.
Pre-Christian and Christian times pursue opposite goals; the former wants to idealize the real, the latter to realize the ideal; the former seeks the “holy spirit,” the latter the “glorified body.” Hence the former closes with insensitivity to the real, with “contempt for the world”; the latter will end with the casting off of the ideal, with “contempt for the spirit.”
The opposition of the real and the ideal is an irreconcilable one, and the one can never become the other: if the ideal became the real, it would no longer be the ideal; and, if the real became the ideal, the ideal alone would be, but not at all the real. The opposition of the two is not to be vanquished otherwise than if some one annihilates both. Only in this “some one,” the third party, does the opposition find its end; otherwise idea and reality will ever fail to coincide. The idea cannot be so realized as to remain idea, but is realized only when it dies as idea; and it is the same with the real.
But now we have before us in the ancients adherents of the idea, in the moderns adherents of reality. Neither can get clear of the opposition, and both pine only, the one party for the spirit, and, when this craving of the ancient world seemed to be satisfied and this spirit to have come, the others immediately for the secularization of this spirit again, which must forever remain a “pious wish.”
The pious wish of the ancients was sanctity, the pious wish of the moderns is corporeity. But, as antiquity had to go down if its longing was to be satisfied (for it consisted only in the longing), so too corporeity can never be attained within the ring of Christianness. As the trait of sanctification or purification goes through the old world (the washings, etc.), so that of incorporation goes through the Christian world: God plunges down into this world, becomes flesh, and wants to redeem it, e.g., fill it with himself; but, since he is “the idea” or “the spirit,” people (e.g. Hegel) in the end introduce the idea into everything, into the world, and prove “that the idea is, that reason is, in everything.” “Man” corresponds in the culture of today to what the heathen Stoics set up as “the wise man”; the latter, like the former, a — fleshless being. The unreal “wise man,” this bodiless “holy one” of the Stoics, became a real person, a bodily “Holy One,” in God made flesh; the unreal “man,” the bodiless ego, will become real in the corporeal ego, in me.
There winds its way through Christianity the question about the “existence of God,” which, taken up ever and ever again, gives testimony that the craving for existence, corporeity, personality, reality, was incessantly busying the heart because it never found a satisfying solution. At last the question about the existence of God fell, but only to rise up again in the proposition that the “divine” had existence (Feuerbach). But this too has no existence, and neither will the last refuge, that the “purely human” is realizable, afford shelter much longer. No idea has existence, for none is capable of corporeity. The scholastic contention of realism and nominalism has the same content; in short, this spins itself out through all Christian history, and cannot end in it.
The world of Christians is working at realizing ideas in the individual relations of life, the institutions and laws of the Church and the State; but they make resistance, and always keep back something unembodied (unrealizable). Nevertheless this embodiment is restlessly rushed after, no matter in what degree corporeity constantly fails to result.
For realities matter little to the realizer, but it matters everything that they be realizations of the idea. Hence he is ever examining anew whether the realized does in truth have the idea, its kernel, dwelling in it; and in testing the real he at the same time tests the idea, whether it is realizable as he thinks it, or is only thought by him incorrectly, and for that reason unfeasibly.
The Christian is no longer to care for family, State, etc., as existences; Christians are not to sacrifice themselves for these “divine things” like the ancients, but these are only to be utilized to make the spirit alive in them. The real family has become indifferent, and there is to arise out of it an idealone which would then be the “truly real,” a sacred family, blessed by God, or, according to the liberal way of thinking, a “rational” family. With the ancients, family, State, fatherland, is divine as a thing extant; with the moderns it is still awaiting divinity, as extant it is only sinful, earthly, and has still to be “redeemed,” i. e., to become truly real. This has the following meaning: The family, etc., is not the extant and real, but the divine, the idea, is extant and real; whether this family will make itself real by taking up the truly real, the idea, is still unsettled. It is not the individual’s task to serve the family as the divine, but, reversely, to serve the divine and to bring to it the still undivine family, to subject everything in the idea’s name, to set up the idea’s banner everywhere, to bring the idea to real efficacy.
But, since the concern of Christianity, as of antiquity, is for the divine, they always come out at this again on their opposite ways. At the end of heathenism the divine becomes the extramundane, at the end of Christianity the intramundane. Antiquity does not succeed in putting it entirely outside the world, and, when Christianity accomplishes this task, the divine instantly longs to get back into the world and wants to “redeem” the world. But within Christianity it does not and cannot come to this, that the divine as intramundane should really become the mundane itself: there is enough left that does and must maintain itself unpenetrated as the “bad,” irrational, accidental, “egoistic,” the “mundane” in the bad sense. Christianity begins with God’s becoming man, and carries on its work of conversion and redemption through all time in order to prepare for God a reception in all men and in everything human, and to penetrate everything with the spirit: it sticks to preparing a place for the “spirit.”
When the accent was at last laid on Man or mankind, it was again the idea that they “pronounced eternal.” “Man does not die!” They thought they had now found the reality of the idea: Man is the I of history, of the world’s history; it is he, this ideal, that really develops, i.e. realizes, himself. He is the really real and corporeal one, for history is his body, in which individuals are only members. Christ is the I of the world’s history, even of the pre-Christian; in modern apprehension it is man, the figure of Christ has developed into the figure of man: man as such, man absolutely, is the “central point” of history. In “man” the imaginary beginning returns again; for “man” is as imaginary as Christ is. “Man,” as the I of the world’s history, closes the cycle of Christian apprehensions.
Christianity’s magic circle would be broken if the strained relation between existence and calling, e.g., between me as I am and me as I should be, ceased; it persists only as the longing of the idea for its bodiliness, and vanishes with the relaxing separation of the two: only when the idea remains — idea, as man or mankind is indeed a bodiless idea, is Christianity still extant. The corporeal idea, the corporeal or “completed” spirit, floats before the Christian as “the end of the days” or as the “goal of history”; it is not present time to him.
The individual can only have a part in the founding of the Kingdom of God, or, according to the modern notion of the same thing, in the development and history of humanity; and only so far as he has a part in it does a Christian, or according to the modern expression human, value pertain to him; for the rest he is dust and a worm-bag. That the individual is of himself a world’s history, and possesses his property in the rest of the world’s history, goes beyond what is Christian. To the Christian the world’s history is the higher thing, because it is the history of Christ or “man”; to the egoist only hishistory has value, because he wants to develop only himself not the mankind-idea, not God’s plan, not the purposes of Providence, not liberty, etc. He does not look upon himself as a tool of the idea or a vessel of God, he recognizes no calling, he does not fancy that he exists for the further development of mankind and that he must contribute his mite to it, but he lives himself out, careless of how well or ill humanity may fare thereby. If it were not open to confusion with the idea that a state of nature is to be praised, one might recall Lenau’s “Three Gypsies.”– What, am I in the world to realize ideas? To do my part by my citizenship, say, toward the realization of the idea “State,” or by marriage, as husband and father, to bring the idea of the family into an existence? What does such a calling concern me! I live after a calling as little as the flower grows and gives fragrance after a calling.
The ideal “Man” is realized when the Christian apprehension turns about and becomes the proposition, “I, this unique one, am man.” The conceptual question, “what is man?” — has then changed into the personal question, “who is man?” With “what” the concept was sought for, in order to realize it; with “who” it is no longer any question at all, but the answer is personally on hand at once in the asker: the question answers itself.
They say of God, “Names name thee not.” That holds good of me: no concept expresses me, nothing that is designated as my essence exhausts me; they are only names. Likewise they say of God that he is perfect and has no calling to strive after perfection. That too holds good of me alone.
I am owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique. In the unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, of which he is born. Every higher essence above me, be it God, be it man, weakens the feeling of my uniqueness, and pales only before the sun of this consciousness. If I concern myself for myself,[Stell’ Ich auf Mich meine Sache. Literally, “if I set my affair on myself”] the unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and I may say:
All things are nothing to me.