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.
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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.”
* * *
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.