The ancients and the moderns having been presented above in two divisions, it may seem as if the free were here to be described in a third division as independent and distinct. This is not so. The free are only the more modern and most modern among the “moderns,” and are put in a separate division merely because they belong to the present, and what is present, above all, claims our attention here. I give “the free” only as a translation of “the liberals,” but must with regard to the concept of freedom (as in general with regard to so many other things whose anticipatory introduction cannot be avoided) refer to what comes later.
After the chalice of so-called absolute monarchy had been drained down to the dregs, in the eighteenth century people became aware that their drink did not taste human — too clearly aware not to begin to crave a different cup. Since our fathers were “human beings” after all, they at last desired also to be regarded as such.
Whoever sees in us something else than human beings, in him we likewise will not see a human being, but an inhuman being, and will meet him as an unhuman being; on the other hand, whoever recognizes us as human beings and protects us against the danger of being treated inhumanly, him we will honor as our true protector and guardian.
Let us then hold together and protect the man in each other; then we find the necessary protection in our holding together, and in ourselves, those who hold together, a fellowship of those who know their human dignity and hold together as “human beings.” Our holding together is the State; we who hold together are the nation.
In our being together as nation or State we are only human beings. How we deport ourselves in other respects as individuals, and what self-seeking impulses we may there succumb to, belongs solely to our private life; our public or State life is a purely human one. Everything un-human or “egoistic” that clings to us is degraded to a “private matter” and we distinguish the State definitely from “civil society,” which is the sphere of “egoism’s” activity.
The true man is the nation, but the individual is always an egoist. Therefore strip off your individuality or isolation wherein dwells discord and egoistic inequality, and consecrate yourselves wholly to the true man — the nation or the State. Then you will rank as men, and have all that is man’s; the State, the true man, will entitle you to what belongs to it, and give you the “rights of man”; Man gives you his rights!
So runs the speech of the commonalty.
The commonalty is nothing else than the thought that the State is all in all, the true man, and that the individual’s human value consists in being a citizen of the State. In being a good citizen he seeks his highest honor; beyond that he knows nothing higher than at most the antiquated — “being a good Christian.”
The commonalty developed itself in the struggle against the privileged classes, by whom it was cavalierly treated as “third estate” and confounded with the canaille. In other words, up to this time the State had recognized caste.[Man hatte im Staate “die ungleiche Person angesehen,” there had been “respect of unequal persons” in the State] The son of a nobleman was selected for posts to which the most distinguished commoners aspired in vain. The civic feeling revolted against this. No more distinction, no giving preference to persons, no difference of classes! Let all be alike! No separate interest is to be pursued longer, but the general interest of all. The State is to be a fellowship of free and equal men, and every one is to devote himself to the “welfare of the whole,” to be dissolved in the State, to make the State his end and ideal. State! State! so ran the general cry, and thenceforth people sought for the “right form of State,” the best constitution, and so the State in its best conception. The thought of the State passed into all hearts and awakened enthusiasm; to serve it, this mundane god, became the new divine service and worship. The properly political epoch had dawned. To serve the State or the nation became the highest ideal, the State’s interest the highest interest, State service (for which one does not by any means need to be an official) the highest honor.
So then the separate interests and personalities had been scared away, and sacrifice for the State had become the shibboleth. One must give up himself, and live only for the State. One must act “disinterestedly,” not want to benefit himself, but the State. Hereby the latter has become the true person. before whom the individual personality vanishes; not I live, but it lives in me. Therefore, in comparison with the former self-seeking, this was unselfishness and impersonality itself. Before this god — State — all egoism vanished, and before it all were equal; they were without any other distinction — men, nothing but men.
The Revolution took fire from the inflammable material of property. The government needed money. Now it must prove the proposition that it is absolute, and so master of all property, sole proprietor; it must take to itself its money, which was only in the possession of the subjects, not their property. Instead of this, it calls States-general, to have this money granted to it. The shrinking from strictly logical action destroyed the illusion of an absolute government; he who must have something “granted” to him cannot be regarded as absolute. The subjects recognized that they were real proprietors, and that it was their money that was demanded. Those who had hitherto been subjects attained the consciousness that they were proprietors. Bailly depicts this in a few words: “If you cannot dispose of my property without my assent, how much less can you of my person, of all that concerns my mental and social position? All this is my property, like the piece of land that I till; and I have a right, an interest, to make the laws myself.” Bailly’s words sound, certainly, as if every one was a proprietor now. However, instead of the government, instead of the prince, the — nationnow became proprietor and master. From this time on the ideal is spoken of as — “popular liberty” — “a free people,” etc.
As early as July 8, 1789, the declaration of the bishop of Autun and Barrere took away all semblance of the importance of each and every individual in legislation; it showed the complete powerlessness of the constituents; the majority of the representatives has become master. When on July 9 the plan for division of the work on the constitution is proposed, Mirabeau remarks that “the government has only power, no rights; only in the people is the source of all right to be found.” On July 16 this same Mirabeau exclaims: “Is not the people the source of all power?” The source, therefore, of all right, and the source of all — power![Gewalt, a word which is also commonly used like the English “violence,” denoting especially unlawful violence] By the way, here the substance of “right” becomes visible; it is — power. “He who has power has right.”
The commonalty is the heir of the privileged classes. In fact, the rights of the barons, which were taken from them as “usurpations,” only passed over to the commonalty. For the commonalty was now called the “nation.” “Into the hands of the nation” all prerogatives were given back. Thereby they ceased to be “prerogatives”:[Vorrechte] they became “rights.”[Rechte] From this time on the nation demands tithes, compulsory services; it has inherited the lord’s court, the rights of vert and venison, the — serfs. The night of August 4 was the death-night of privileges or “prerogatives” (cities, communes, boards of magistrates, were also privileged, furnished with prerogatives and seigniorial rights), and ended with the new morning of “right,” the “rights of the State,” the “rights of the nation.”
The monarch in the person of the “royal master” had been a paltry monarch compared with this new monarch, the “sovereign nation.” This monarchywas a thousand times severer, stricter, and more consistent. Against the new monarch there was no longer any right, any privilege at all; how limited the “absolute king” of the ancien regime looks in comparison! The Revolution effected the transformation of limited monarchy into absolute monarchy. From this time on every right that is not conferred by this monarch is an “assumption”; but every prerogative that he bestows, a “right.” The times demanded absolute royalty, absolute monarchy; therefore down fell that so-called absolute royalty which had so little understood how to become absolute that it remained limited by a thousand little lords.
What was longed for and striven for through thousands of years — to wit, to find that absolute lord beside whom no other lords and lordlings any longer exist to clip his power — the bourgeoisie has brought to pass. It has revealed the Lord who alone confers “rightful titles,” and without whose warrant nothing is justified. “So now we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other god save the one.”
Against right one can no longer, as against a right, come forward with the assertion that it is “a wrong.” One can say now only that it is a piece of nonsense, an illusion. If one called it wrong, one would have to set up another right in opposition to it, and measure it by this. If, on the contrary, one rejects right as such, right in and of itself, altogether, then one also rejects the concept of wrong, and dissolves the whole concept of right (to which the concept of wrong belongs).
What is the meaning of the doctrine that we all enjoy “equality of political rights”? Only this — that the State has no regard for my person, that to it I, like every other, am only a man, without having another significance that commands its deference. I do not command its deference as an aristocrat, a nobleman’s son, or even as heir of an official whose office belongs to me by inheritance (as in the Middle Ages countships, etc., and later under absolute royalty, where hereditary offices occur). Now the State has an innumerable multitude of rights to give away, e.g. the right to lead a battalion, a company, etc.; the right to lecture at a university, and so forth; it has them to give away because they are its own, i.e., State rights or “political” rights. Withal, it makes no difference to it to whom it gives them, if the receiver only fulfills the duties that spring from the delegated rights. To it we are all of us all right, and — equal — one worth no more and no less than another. It is indifferent to me who receives the command of the army, says the sovereign State, provided the grantee understands the matter properly. “Equality of political rights” has, consequently, the meaning that every one may acquire every right that the State has to give away, if only he fulfills the conditions annexed thereto — conditions which are to be sought only in the nature of the particular right, not in a predilection for the person (persona grata): the nature of the right to become an officer brings with it, e.g. the necessity that one possess sound limbs and a suitable measure of knowledge, but it does not have noble birth as a condition; if, on the other hand, even the most deserving commoner could not reach that station, then an inequality of political rights would exist. Among the States of today one has carried out that maxim of equality more, another less.
The monarchy of estates (so I will call absolute royalty, the time of the kings before the revolution) kept the individual in dependence on a lot of little monarchies. These were fellowships (societies) like the guilds, the nobility, the priesthood, the burgher class, cities, communes. Everywhere the individual must regard himself first as a member of this little society, and yield unconditional obedience to its spirit, the esprit de corps, as his monarch. More, e.g. than the individual nobleman himself must his family, the honor of his race, be to him. Only by means of his corporation, his estate, did the individual have relation to the greater corporation, the State — as in Catholicism the individual deals with God only through the priest. To this the third estate now, showing courage to negate itself as an estate, made an end. It decided no longer to be and be called an estate beside other estates, but to glorify and generalize itself into the “nation.” Hereby it created a much more complete and absolute monarchy,’ and the entire previously ruling principle of estates, the principle of little monarchies inside the great, went down. Therefore it cannot be said that the Revolution was a revolution against the first two privileged estates. It was against the little monarchies of estates in general. But, if the estates and their despotism were broken (the king too, we know, was only a king of estates, not a citizen-king), the individuals freed from the inequality of estate were left. Were they now really to be without estate and “out of gear,” no longer bound by any estate, without a general bond of union? No, for the third estate had declared itself the nation only in order not to remain an estate beside other estates, but to become the sole estate. This sole estate is the nation, the “State.” What had the individual now become? A political Protestant, for he had come into immediate connection with his God, the State. He was no longer, as an aristocrat, in the monarchy of the nobility; as a mechanic, in the monarchy of the guild; but he, like all, recognized and acknowledged only — one lord, the State, as whose servants they all received the equal title of honor, “citizen.”
The bourgeoisie is the aristocracy of DESERT; its motto, “Let desert wear its crowns.” It fought against the “lazy” aristocracy, for according to it (the industrious aristocracy acquired by industry and desert) it is not the “born” who is free, nor yet I who am free either, but the “deserving” man, the honest servant (of his king; of the State; of the people in constitutional States). Through service one acquires freedom, i. e., acquires “deserts,” even if one served — mammon. One must deserve well of the State, i.e. of the principle of the State, of its moral spirit. He who serves this spirit of the State is a good citizen, let him live to whatever honest branch of industry he will. In its eyes innovators practice a “breadless art.” Only the “shopkeeper” is “practical,” and the spirit that chases after public offices is as much the shopkeeping spirit as is that which tries in trade to feather its nest or otherwise to become useful to itself and anybody else.
But, if the deserving count as the free (for what does the comfortable commoner, the faithful office-holder, lack of that freedom that his heart desires?), then the “servants” are the — free. The obedient servant is the free man! What glaring nonsense! Yet this is the sense of the bourgeoisie, and its poet, Goethe, as well as its philosopher, Hegel, succeeded in glorifying the dependence of the subject on the object, obedience to the objective world. He who only serves the cause, “devotes himself entirely to it,” has the true freedom. And among thinkers the cause was — reason, that which, like State and Church, gives — general laws, and puts the individual man in irons by the thought of humanity. It determines what is “true,” according to which one must then act. No more “rational” people than the honest servants, who primarily are called good citizens as servants of the State.
Be rich as Croesus or poor as Job — the State of the commonalty leaves that to your option; but only have a “good disposition.” This it demands of you, and counts it its most urgent task to establish this in all. Therefore it will keep you from “evil promptings,” holding the “ill-disposed” in check and silencing their inflammatory discourses under censors’ canceling-marks or press-penalties and behind dungeon walls, and will, on the other hand, appoint people of “good disposition” as censors, and in every way have a moral influence exerted on you by “well-disposed and well-meaning” people. If it has made you deaf to evil promptings, then it opens your ears again all the more diligently to good promptings.
With the time of the bourgeoisie begins that of liberalism. People want to see what is “rational,” “suited to the times,” etc., established everywhere. The following definition of liberalism, which is supposed to be pronounced in its honor, characterizes it completely: “Liberalism is nothing else than the knowledge of reason, applied to our existing relations.” Its aim is a “rational order,” a “moral behavior,” a “limited freedom,” not anarchy, lawlessness, selfhood. But, if reason rules, then the person succumbs. Art has for a long time not only acknowledged the ugly, but considered the ugly as necessary to its existence, and takes it up into itself; it needs the villain. In the religious domain, too, the extremest liberals go so far that they want to see the most religious man regarded as a citizen — i. e., the religious villain; they want to see no more of trials for heresy. But against the “rational law” no one is to rebel, otherwise he is threatened with the severest penalty. What is wanted is not free movement and realization of the person or of me, but of reason — i.e. a dominion of reason, a dominion. The liberals are zealots, not exactly for the faith, for God, but certainly for reason, their master. They brook no lack of breeding, and therefore no self-development and self- determination; they play the guardian as effectively as the most absolute rulers.
“Political liberty,” what are we to understand by that? Perhaps the individual’s independence of the State and its laws? No; on the contrary, the individual’s subjection in the State and to the State’s laws. But why “liberty”? Because one is no longer separated from the State by intermediaries, but stands in direct and immediate relation to it; because one is a — citizen, not the subject of another, not even of the king as a person, but only in his quality as “supreme head of the State.” Political liberty, this fundamental doctrine of liberalism, is nothing but a second phase of — Protestantism, and runs quite parallel with “religious liberty.” Or would it perhaps be right to understand by the latter an independence of religion? Anything but that. Independence of intermediaries is all that it is intended to express, independence of mediating priests, the abolition of the “laity,” and so, direct and immediate relation to religion or to God. Only on the supposition that one has religion can he enjoy freedom of religion; freedom of religion does not mean being without religion, but inwardness of faith, unmediated intercourse with God. To him who is “religiously free” religion is an affair of the heart, it is to him his own affair, it is to him a “sacredly serious matter.” So, too, to the “politically free” man the State is a sacredly serious matter; it is his heart’s affair, his chief affair, his own affair.
Political liberty means that the polis, the State, is free; freedom of religion that religion is free, as freedom of conscience signifies that conscience is free; not, therefore, that I am free from the State, from religion, from conscience, or that I am rid of them. It does not mean my liberty, but the liberty of a power that rules and subjugates me; it means that one of my despots, like State, religion, conscience, is free. State, religion, conscience, these despots, make me a slave, and their liberty is my slavery. That in this they necessarily follow the principle, “the end hallows the means,” is self-evident. If the welfare of the State is the end, war is a hallowed means; if justice is the State’s end, homicide is a hallowed means, and is called by its sacred name, “execution”; the sacred State hallows everything that is serviceable to it.
“Individual liberty,” over which civic liberalism keeps jealous watch, does not by any means signify a completely free self-determination, by which actions become altogether mine, but only independence of persons. Individually free is he who is responsible to no man. Taken in this sense — and we are not allowed to understand it otherwise — not only the ruler is individually free, i.e., irresponsible toward men (“before God,” we know, he acknowledges himself responsible), but all who are “responsible only to the law.” This kind of liberty was won through the revolutionary movement of the century — to wit, independence of arbitrary will, or tel est notre plaisir. Hence the constitutional prince must himself be stripped of all personality, deprived of all individual decision, that he may not as a person, as an individual man, violate the “individual liberty” of others. The personal will of the ruler has disappeared in the constitutional prince; it is with a right feeling, therefore, that absolute princes resist this. Nevertheless these very ones profess to be in the best sense “Christian princes.” For this, however, they must become a purely spiritual power, as the Christian is subject only to spirit (“God is spirit”). The purely spiritual power is consistently represented only by the constitutional prince, he who, without any personal significance, stands there spiritualized to the degree that he can rank as a sheer, uncanny “spirit,” as an idea. The constitutional king is the truly Christian king, the genuine, consistent carrying-out of the Christian principle. In the constitutional monarchy individual dominion — i.e. a real ruler that wills — has found its end; here, therefore, individual liberty prevails, independence of every individual dictator, of everyone who could dictate to me with a tel est notre plaisir. It is the completed Christian State-life, a spiritualized life.
The behavior of the commonalty is liberal through and through. Every personal invasion of another’s sphere revolts the civic sense; if the citizen sees that one is dependent on the humor, the pleasure, the will of a man as individual (i.e. as not as authorized by a “higher power”), at once he brings his liberalism to the front and shrieks about “arbitrariness.” In fine, the citizen asserts his freedom from what is called orders (ordonnance): “No one has any business to give me — orders!” Orders carries the idea that what I am to do is another man’s will, while law does not express a personal authority of another. The liberty of the commonalty is liberty or independence from the will of another person, so-called personal or individual liberty; for being personally free means being only so free that no other person can dispose of mine, or that what I may or may not do does not depend on the personal decree of another. The liberty of the press, e.g., is such a liberty of liberalism, liberalism fighting only against the coercion of the censorship as that of personal wilfulness, but otherwise showing itself extremely inclined and willing to tyrannize over the press by “press laws”; i.e. the civic liberals want liberty of writing for themselves; for, as they are law-abiding, their writings will not bring them under the law. Only liberal matter, i.e. only lawful matter, is to be allowed to be printed; otherwise the “press laws” threaten “press-penalties.” If one sees personal liberty assured, one does not notice at all how, if a new issue happens to arise, the most glaring unfreedom becomes dominant. For one is rid of orders indeed, and “no one has any business to give us orders,” but one has become so much the more submissive to the — law. One is enthralled now in due legal form.
In the citizen-State there are only “free people,” who are compelled to thousands of things (e.g. to deference, to a confession of faith, etc.). But what does that amount to? Why, it is only the — State, the law, not any man, that compels them!
What does the commonalty mean by inveighing against every personal order, i.e. every order not founded on the “cause,” on “reason”? It is simply fighting in the interest of the “cause”[Sache, which commonly means thing]. against the dominion of “persons”! But the mind’s cause is the rational, good, lawful, etc.; that is the “good cause.” The commonalty wants an impersonal ruler.
Furthermore, if the principle is this, that only the cause is to rule man — to wit, the cause of morality, the cause of legality, etc., then no personal balking of one by the other may be authorized either (as formerly, e.g. the commoner was balked of the aristocratic offices, the aristocrat of common mechanical trades, etc.); free competition must exist. Only through the thing[Sache] can one balk another (e.g. the rich man balking the impecunious man by money, a thing), not as a person. Henceforth only one lordship, the lordship of the State, is admitted; personally no one is any longer lord of another. Even at birth the children belong to the State, and to the parents only in the name of the State, which e.g. does not allow infanticide, demands their baptism etc.
But all the State’s children, furthermore, are of quite equal account in its eyes (“civic or political equality”), and they may see to it themselves how they get along with each other; they may compete.
Free competition means nothing else than that every one can present himself, assert himself, fight, against another. Of course the feudal party set itself against this, as its existence depended on an absence of competition. The contests in the time of the Restoration in France had no other substance than this — that the bourgeoisie was struggling for free competition, and the feudalists were seeking to bring back the guild system.
Now, free competition has won, and against the guild system it had to win. (See below for the further discussion.)
If the Revolution ended in a reaction, this only showed what the Revolution really was. For every effort arrives at reaction when it comes to discreet reflection, and storms forward in the original action only so long as it is an intoxication, an “indiscretion.” “Discretion” will always be the cue of the reaction, because discretion sets limits, and liberates what was really wanted, i. e., the principle, from the initial “unbridledness” and “unrestrainedness.” Wild young fellows, bumptious students, who set aside all considerations, are really Philistines, since with them, as with the latter, considerations form the substance of their conduct; only that as swaggerers they are mutinous against considerations and in negative relations to them, but as Philistines, later, they give themselves up to considerations and have positive relations to them. In both cases all their doing and thinking turns upon “considerations,” but the Philistine is reactionary in relation to the student; he is the wild fellow come to discreet reflection, as the latter is the unreflecting Philistine. Daily experience confirms the truth of this transformation, and shows how the swaggerers turn to Philistines in turning gray.
So, too, the so-called reaction in Germany gives proof that it was only the discreet continuation of the warlike jubilation of liberty.
The Revolution was not directed against the established, but against the establishment in question, against a particular establishment. It did away with this ruler, not with the ruler — on the contrary, the French were ruled most inexorably; it killed the old vicious rulers, but wanted to confer on the virtuous ones a securely established position, i. e., it simply set virtue in the place of vice. (Vice and virtue, again, are on their part distinguished from each other only as a wild young fellow from a Philistine.) Etc.
To this day the revolutionary principle has gone no farther than to assail only one or another particular establishment, i.e. be reformatory. Much as may be improved, strongly as “discreet progress” may be adhered to, always there is only a new master set in the old one’s place, and the overturning is a — building up. We are still at the distinction of the young Philistine from the old one. The Revolution began in bourgeois fashion with the uprising of the third estate, the middle class; in bourgeois fashion it dries away. It was not the individual man — and he alone is Man — that became free, but the citizen, the citoyen, the political man, who for that very reason is not Man but a specimen of the human species, and more particularly a specimen of the species Citizen, a free citizen.
In the Revolution it was not the individual who acted so as to affect the world’s history, but a people; the nation, the sovereign nation, wanted to effect everything. A fancied I, an idea, e.g. the nation is, appears acting; the individuals contribute themselves as tools of this idea, and act as “citizens.”
The commonalty has its power, and at the same time its limits, in the fundamental law of the State, in a charter, in a legitimate [or “righteous.” German rechtlich] or “just” [gerecht] prince who himself is guided, and rules, according to “rational laws,” in short, in legality. The period of the bourgeoisie is ruled by the British spirit of legality. An assembly of provincial estates, e.g. is ever recalling that its authorization goes only so and so far, and that it is called at all only through favor and can be thrown out again through disfavor. It is always reminding itself of its — vocation. It is certainly not to be denied that my father begot me; but, now that I am once begotten, surely his purposes in begetting do not concern me a bit and, whatever he may have called me to, I do what I myself will. Therefore even a called assembly of estates, the French assembly in the beginning of the Revolution, recognized quite rightly that it was independent of the caller. It existed, and would have been stupid if it did not avail itself of the right of existence, but fancied itself dependent as on a father. The called one no longer has to ask “what did the caller want when he created me?” but “what do I want after I have once followed the call?” Not the caller, not the constituents, not the charter according to which their meeting was called out, nothing will be to him a sacred, inviolable power. He is authorized for everything that is in his power; he will know no restrictive “authorization,” will not want to be loyal. This, if any such thing could be expected from chambers at all, would give a completely egoistic chamber, severed from all navel-string and without consideration. But chambers are always devout, and therefore one cannot be surprised if so much half-way or undecided, i. e., hypocritical, “egoism” parades in them.
The members of the estates are to remain within the limits that are traced for them by the charter, by the king’s will, etc. If they will not or can not do that, then they are to “step out.” What dutiful man could act otherwise, could put himself, his conviction, and his will as the first thing? Who could be so immoral as to want to assert himself, even if the body corporate and everything should go to ruin over it? People keep carefully within the limits of their authorization; of course one must remain within the limits of his power anyhow, because no one can do more than he can. “My power, or, if it be so, powerlessness, be my sole limit, but authorizations only restraining — precepts? Should I profess this all-subversive view? No, I am a — law-abiding citizen!”
The commonalty professes a morality which is most closely connected with its essence. The first demand of this morality is to the effect that one should carry on a solid business, an honourable trade, lead a moral life. Immoral, to it, is the sharper, the, demirep, the thief, robber, and murderer, the gamester, the penniless man without a situation, the frivolous man. The doughty commoner designates the feeling against these “immoral” people as his “deepest indignation.”
All these lack settlement, the solid quality of business, a solid, seemly life, a fixed income, etc.; in short, they belong, because their existence does not rest on a secure basis to the dangerous “individuals or isolated persons,” to the dangerous proletariat; they are “individual bawlers” who offer no “guarantee” and have “nothing to lose,” and so nothing to risk. The forming of family ties, e.g., binds a man: he who is bound furnishes security, can be taken hold of; not so the street-walker. The gamester stakes everything on the game, ruins himself and others — no guarantee. All who appear to the commoner suspicious, hostile, and dangerous might be comprised under the name “vagabonds”; every vagabondish way of living displeases him. For there are intellectual vagabonds too, to whom the hereditary dwelling-place of their fathers seems too cramped and oppressive for them to be willing to satisfy themselves with the limited space any more: instead of keeping within the limits of a temperate style of thinking, and taking as inviolable truth what furnishes comfort and tranquillity to thousands, they overlap all bounds of the traditional and run wild with their impudent criticism and untamed mania for doubt, these extravagating vagabonds. They form the class of the unstable, restless, changeable, i.e. of the prolétariat, and, if they give voice to their unsettled nature, are called “unruly fellows.”
Such a broad sense has the so-called proletariat, or pauperism. How much one would err if one believed the commonalty to be desirous of doing away with poverty (pauperism) to the best of its ability! On the contrary, the good citizen helps himself with the incomparably comforting conviction that “the fact is that the good things of fortune are unequally divided and will always remain so — according to God’s wise decree.” The poverty which surrounds him in every alley does not disturb the true commoner further than that at most he clears his account with it by throwing an alms, or finds work and food for an “honest and serviceable” fellow. But so much the more does he feel his quiet enjoyment clouded by innovating and discontentedpoverty, by those poor who no longer behave quietly and endure, but begin to run wild and become restless. Lock up the vagabond, thrust the breeder of unrest into the darkest dungeon! He wants to “arouse dissatisfaction and incite people against existing institutions” in the State — stone him, stone him!
But from these identical discontented ones comes a reasoning somewhat as follows: It need not make any difference to the “good citizens” who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute king or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. And what is their principle, whose protector they always “love”? Not that of labor; not that of birth either. But, that of mediocrity, of the golden mean: a little birth and a little labor, i. e., an interest-bearing possession. Possession is here the fixed, the given, inherited (birth); interest-drawing is the exertion about it (labor); laboring capital, therefore. Only no immoderation, no ultra, no radicalism! Right of birth certainly, but only hereditary possessions; labor certainly, yet little or none at all of one’s own, but labor of capital and of the — subject laborers.
If an age is imbued with an error, some always derive advantage from the error, while the rest have to suffer from it. In the Middle Ages the error was general among Christians that the church must have all power, or the supreme lordship on earth; the hierarchs believed in this “truth” not less than the laymen, and both were spellbound in the like error. But by it the hierarchs had the advantage of power, the laymen had to suffer subjection. However, as the saying goes, “one learns wisdom by suffering”; and so the laymen at last learned wisdom and no longer believed in the medieval “truth.” — A like relation exists between the commonalty and the laboring class. Commoner and laborer believe in the “truth” of money; they who do not possess it believe in it no less than those who possess it: the laymen, therefore, as well as the priests.
“Money governs the world” is the keynote of the civic epoch. A destitute aristocrat and a destitute laborer, as “starvelings,” amount to nothing so far as political consideration is concerned; birth and labor do not do it, but money brings consideration [das Geld gibt Geltung]. The possessors rule, but the State trains up from the destitute its “servants,” to whom, in proportion as they are to rule (govern) in its name, it gives money (a salary).
I receive everything from the State. Have I anything without the State’s assent? What I have without this it takes from me as soon as it discovers the lack of a “legal title.” Do I not, therefore, have everything through its grace, its assent?
On this alone, on the legal title, the commonalty rests. The commoner is what he is through the protection of the State, through the State’s grace. He would necessarily be afraid of losing everything if the State’s power were broken.
But how is it with him who has nothing to lose, how with the proletarian? As he has nothing to lose, he does not need the protection of the State for his “nothing.” He may gain, on the contrary, if that protection of the State is withdrawn from the protégé.
Therefore the non-possessor will regard the State as a power protecting the possessor, which privileges the latter, but does nothing for him, the non-possessor, but to — suck his blood. The State is a — commoners’ State, is the estate of the commonalty. It protects man not according to his labor, but according to his tractableness (“loyalty”) — to wit, according to whether the rights entrusted to him by the State are enjoyed and managed in accordance with the will, i. e., laws, of the State.
Under the regime of the commonalty the laborers always fall into the hands of the possessors, of those who have at their disposal some bit of the State domains (and everything possessible in State domain, belongs to the State, and is only a fief of the individual), especially money and land; of the capitalists, therefore. The laborer cannot realize on his labor to the extent of the value that it has for the consumer. “Labor is badly paid!” The capitalist has the greatest profit from it. — Well paid, and more than well paid, are only the labors of those who heighten the splendor and dominion of the State, the labors of high State servants. The State pays well that its “good citizens,” the possessors, may be able to pay badly without danger; it secures to itself by good payment its servants, out of whom it forms a protecting power, a “police” (to the police belong soldiers, officials of all kinds, e.g. those of justice, education, etc. — in short, the whole “machinery of the State”) for the “good citizens,” and the “good citizens” gladly pay high tax-rates to it in order to pay so much lower rates to their laborers.
But the class of laborers, because unprotected in what they essentially are (for they do not enjoy the protection of the State as laborers, but as its subjects they have a share in the enjoyment of the police, a so-called protection of the law), remains a power hostile to this State, this State of possessors, this “citizen kingship.” Its principle, labor, is not recognized as to its value; it is exploited,[ausgebeutet] a spoil [Kriegsbeute] of the possessors, the enemy.
The laborers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, if they once became thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing would withstand them; they would only have to stop labor, regard the product of labor as theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the labor disturbances which show themselves here and there.
The State rests on the — slavery of labor. If labor becomes free. the State is lost.
We are freeborn men, and wherever we look we see ourselves made servants of egoists! Are we therefore to become egoists too! Heaven forbid! We want rather to make egoists impossible! We want to make them all “ragamuffins”; all of us must have nothing, that “all may have.”
So say the Socialists.
Who is this person that you call “All”? — It is “society”! — But is it corporeal, then? — We are its body! — You? Why, you are not a body yourselves — you, sir, are corporeal to be sure, you too, and you, but you all together are only bodies, not a body. Accordingly the united society may indeed have bodies at its service, but no one body of its own. Like the “nation of the politicians, it will turn out to be nothing but a “spirit,” its body only semblance.
The freedom of man is, in political liberalism, freedom from persons, from personal dominion, from the master; the securing of each individual person against other persons, personal freedom.
No one has any orders to give; the law alone gives orders.
But, even if the persons have become equal, yet their possessions have not. And yet the poor man needs the rich, the rich the poor, the former the rich man’s money, the latter the poor man’s labor. So no one needs another as a person, but needs him as a giver, and thus as one who has something to give, as holder or possessor. So what he has makes the man. And in having, or in “possessions,” people are unequal.
Consequently, social liberalism concludes, no one must have, as according to political liberalism no one was to give orders; i.e. as in that case the State alone obtained the command, so now society alone obtains the possessions.
For the State, protecting each one’s person and property against the other, separates them from one another; each one is his special part and has his special part. He who is satisfied with what he is and has finds this state of things profitable; but he who would like to be and have more looks around for this “more,” and finds it in the power of other persons. Here he comes upon a contradiction; as a person no one is inferior to another, and yet one person has what another has not but would like to have. So, he concludes, the one person is more than the other, after all, for the former has what he needs, the latter has not; the former is a rich man, the latter a poor man.
He now asks himself further, are we to let what we rightly buried come to life again? Are we to let this circuitously restored inequality of persons pass? No; on the contrary, we must bring quite to an end what was only half accomplished. Our freedom from another’s person still lacks the freedom from what the other’s person can command, from what he has in his personal power — in short, from “personal property.” Let us then do away with personal property. Let no one have anything any longer, let every one be a — ragamuffin. Let property be impersonal, let it belong to — society.
Before the supreme ruler, the sole commander, we had all become equal, equal persons, i. e., nullities.
Before the supreme proprietor we all become equal — ragamuffins. For the present, one is still in another’s estimation a “ragamuffin,” a “have-nothing”; but then this estimation ceases. We are all ragamuffins together, and as the aggregate of Communistic society we might call ourselves a “ragamuffin crew.”
When the proletarian shall really have founded his purposed “society” in which the interval between rich and poor is to be removed, then he will be a ragamuffin, for then he will feel that it amounts to something to be a ragamuffin, and might lift “Ragamuffin” to be an honourable form of address, just as the Revolution did with the word “Citizen.” Ragamuffin is his ideal; we are all to become ragamuffins.
This is the second robbery of the “personal” in the interest of “humanity.” Neither command nor property is left to the individual; the State took the former, society the latter.
Because in society the most oppressive evils make themselves felt, therefore the oppressed especially, and consequently the members of the lower regions of society, think they found the fault in society, and make it their task to discover the right society. This is only the old phenomenon — that one looks for the fault first in everything but himself, and consequently in the State, in the self-seeking of the rich, etc., which yet have precisely our fault to thank for their existence.
The reflections and conclusions of Communism look very simple. As matters lie at this time — in the present situation with regard to the State, therefore — some, and they the majority, are at a disadvantage compared to others, the minority. In this state of things the former are in a state of prosperity, the latter in state of need. Hence the present state of things, i.e. the State itself, must be done away with. And what in its place? Instead of the isolated state of prosperity — a general state of prosperity, a prosperity of all.
Through the Revolution the bourgeoisie became omnipotent, and all inequality was abolished by every one’s being raised or degraded to the dignity of a citizen : the common man — raised, the aristocrat — degraded; the third estate became sole estate, viz., namely, the estate of — citizens of the State. Now Communism responds: Our dignity and our essence consist not in our being all — the equal children of our mother, the State, all born with equal claim to her love and her protection, but in our all existing for each other. This is our equality, or herein we are equal, in that we, I as well as you and you and all of you, are active or “labor” each one for the rest; in that each of us is a laborer, then. The point for us is not what we are for the State(citizens), not our citizenship therefore, but what we are for each other, that each of us exists only through the other, who, caring for my wants, at the same time sees his own satisfied by me. He labors e.g. for my clothing (tailor), I for his need of amusement (comedy-writer, rope-dancer), he for my food (farmer), I for his instruction (scientist). It is labor that constitutes our dignity and our — equality.
What advantage does citizenship bring us? Burdens! And how high is our labor appraised? As low as possible! But labor is our sole value all the same: that we are laborers is the best thing about us, this is our significance in the world, and therefore it must be our consideration too and must come to receive consideration. What can you meet us with? Surely nothing but — labor too. Only for labor or services do we owe you a recompense, not for your bare existence; not for what you are for yourselves either, but only for what you are for us. By what have you claims on us? Perhaps by your high birth? No, only by what you do for us that is desirable or useful. Be it thus then: we are willing to be worth to you only so much as we do for you; but you are to be held likewise by us. Services determine value, — i.e. those services that are worth something to us, and consequently labors for each other, labors for the common good. Let each one be in the other’s eyes a laborer. He who accomplishes something useful is inferior to none, or — all laborers (laborers, of course, in the sense of laborers “for the common good,” i. e., communistic laborers) are equal. But, as the laborer is worth his wages, let the wages too be equal.
As long as faith sufficed for man’s honor and dignity, no labor, however harassing, could be objected to if it only did not hinder a man in his faith. Now, on the contrary, when every one is to cultivate himself into man, condemning a man to machine-like labor amounts to the same thing as slavery. If a factory worker must tire himself to death twelve hours and more, he is cut off from becoming man. Every labor is to have the intent that the man be satisfied. Therefore he must become a master in it too, i.e. be able to perform it as a totality. He who in a pin factory only puts on the heads, only draws the wire, works, as it were, mechanically, like a machine; he remains half-trained, does not become a master: his labor cannot satisfy him, it can only fatigue him. His labor is nothing by itself, has no object in itself, is nothing complete in itself; he labors only into another’s hands, and is used (exploited) by this other. For this laborer in another’s service there is no enjoyment of a cultivated mind, at most, crude amusements: culture, you see, is barred against him. To be a good Christian one needs only to believe, and that can be done under the most oppressive circumstances. Hence the Christian-minded take care only of the oppressed laborers’ piety, their patience, submission, etc. Only so long as the downtrodden classes were Christians could they bear all their misery: for Christianity does not let their murmurings and exasperation rise. Now the hushing of desires is no longer enough, but their sating is demanded. The bourgeoisie has proclaimed the gospel of the enjoyment of the world, of material enjoyment, and now wonders that this doctrine finds adherents among us poor: it has shown that not faith and poverty, but culture and possessions, make a man blessed; we proletarians understand that too.
The commonalty freed us from the orders and arbitrariness of individuals. But that arbitrariness was left which springs from the conjuncture of situations, and may be called the fortuity of circumstances; favoring .fortune. and those “favored by fortune,” still remain.
When, e.g., a branch of industry is ruined and thousands of laborers become breadless, people think reasonably enough to acknowledge that it is not the individual who must bear the blame, but that “the evil lies in the situation.” Let us change the situation then, but let us change it thoroughly, and so that its fortuity becomes powerless and a law! Let us no longer be slaves of chance! Let us create a new order that makes an end of fluctuations. Let this order then be sacred!
Formerly one had to suit the lords to come to anything; after the Revolution the word was “Grasp fortune!” Luck-hunting or hazard-playing, civil life was absorbed in this. Then, alongside this, the demand that he who has obtained something shall not frivolously stake it again.
Strange and yet supremely natural contradiction. Competition, in which alone civil or political life unrolls itself, is a game of luck through and through, from the speculations of the exchange down to the solicitation of offices, the hunt for customers, looking for work, aspiring to promotion and decorations, the second-hand dealer’s petty haggling, etc. If one succeeds in supplanting and outbidding his rivals, then the “lucky throw” is made; for it must be taken as a piece of luck to begin with that the victor sees himself equipped with an ability (even though it has been developed by the most careful industry) against which the others do not know how to rise, consequently that — no abler ones are found. And now those who ply their daily lives in the midst of these changes of fortune without seeing any harm in it are seized with the most virtuous indignation when their own principle appears in naked form and “breeds misfortune” as — hazard-playing. Hazard-playing, you see, is too clear, too barefaced a competition, and, like every decided nakedness, offends honourable modesty.
The Socialists want to put a stop to this activity of chance, and to form a society in which men are no longer dependent on fortune, but free.
In the most natural way in the world this endeavor first utters itself as hatred of the “unfortunate” against the “fortunate,” i.e., of those for whom fortune has done little or nothing, against those for whom it has done everything. But properly the ill- feeling is not directed against the fortunate, but against fortune, this rotten spot of the commonalty.
As the Communists first declare free activity to be man’s essence, they, like all work-day dispositions, need a Sunday; like all material endeavors, they need a God, an uplifting and edification alongside their witless “labor.”
That the Communist sees in you the man, the brother, is only the Sunday side of Communism. According to the work-day side he does not by any means take you as man simply, but as human laborer or laboring man. The first view has in it the liberal principle; in the second, illiberality is concealed. If you were a “lazy-bones,” he would not indeed fail to recognize the man in you, but would endeavor to cleanse him as a “lazy man” from laziness and to convert you to the faith that labor is man’s “destiny and calling.”
Therefore he shows a double face: with the one he takes heed that the spiritual man be satisfied, with the other he looks about him for means for the material or corporeal man. He gives man a twofold post — an office of material acquisition and one of spiritual.
The commonalty had thrown open spiritual and material goods, and left it with each one to reach out for them if he liked.
Communism really procures them for each one, presses them upon him, and compels him to acquire them. It takes seriously the idea that, because only spiritual and material goods make us men, we must unquestionably acquire these goods in order to be man. The commonalty made acquisition free; Communism compels to acquisition, and recognizes only the acquirer, him who practices a trade. It is not enough that the trade is free, but you must take it up.
So all that is left for criticism to do is to prove that the acquisition of these goods does not yet by any means make us men.
With the liberal commandment that every one is to make a man of himself, or every one to make himself man, there was posited the necessity that every one must gain time for this labor of humanization, i. e., that it should become possible for every one to labor on himself.
The commonalty thought it had brought this about if it handed over everything human to competition, but gave the individual a right to every human thing. “Each may strive after everything!”
Social liberalism finds that the matter is not settled with the “may,” because may means only “it is forbidden to none” but not “it is made possible to every one.” Hence it affirms that the commonalty is liberal only with the mouth and in words, supremely illiberal in act. It on its part wants to give all of us the means to be able to labor on ourselves.
By the principle of labor that of fortune or competition is certainly outdone. But at the same time the laborer, in his consciousness that the essential thing in him is “the laborer,” holds himself aloof from egoism and subjects himself to the supremacy of a society of laborers, as the commoner clung with self-abandonment to the competition-State. The beautiful dream of a “social duty” still continues to be dreamed. People think again that society gives what we need, and we are under obligations to it on that account, owe it everything. They are still at the point of wanting to serve a “supreme giver of all good.” That society is no ego at all, which could give, bestow, or grant, but an instrument or means, from which we may derive benefit; that we have no social duties, but solely interests for the pursuance of which society must serve us; that we owe society no sacrifice, but, if we sacrifice anything, sacrifice it to ourselves — of this the Socialists do not think, because they — as liberals — are imprisoned in the religious principle, and zealously aspire after — a sacred society, e.g. the State was hitherto.
Society, from which we have everything, is a new master, a new spook, a new “supreme being,” which “takes us into its service and allegiance!”
The more precise appreciation of political as well as social liberalism must wait to find its place further on. For the present we pass this over, in order first to summon them before the tribunal of humane or critical liberalism.
3. Humane Liberalism
As liberalism is completed in self-criticizing, “critical” liberalism — in which the critic remains a liberal and does not go beyond the principle of liberalism, Man — this may distinctively be named after Man and called the “humane.”
The laborer is counted as the most material and egoistical man. He does nothing at all for humanity, does everything for himself, for his welfare.
The commonalty, because it proclaimed the freedom of Man only as to his birth, had to leave him in the claws of the un-human man (the egoist) for the rest of life. Hence under the regime of political liberalism egoism has an immense field for free utilization.
The laborer will utilize society for his egoistic ends as the commoner does the State. You have only an egoistic end after all, your welfare, is the humane liberal’s reproach to the Socialist; take up a purely human interest, then I will be your companion. “But to this there belongs a consciousness stronger, more comprehensive, than a laborer-consciousness”. “The laborer makes nothing, therefore he has nothing; but he makes nothing because his labor is always a labor that remains individual, calculated strictly for his own want, a labor day by day.” In opposition to this one might, e.g., consider the fact that Gutenberg’s labor did not remain individual, but begot innumerable children, and still lives today; it was calculated for the want of humanity, and was an eternal, imperishable labor.
The humane consciousness despises the commoner-consciousness as well as the laborer-consciousness: for the commoner is “indignant” only at vagabonds (at all who have “no definite occupation”) and their “immorality”; the laborer is “disgusted” by the idler (“lazy-bones”) and his “immoral,” because parasitic and unsocial, principles. To this the humane liberal retorts: The unsettledness of many is only your product, Philistine! But that you, proletarian, demand the grind of all, and want to make drudgery general, is a part, still clinging to you, of your pack-mule life up to this time. Certainly you want to lighten drudgery itself by all having to drudge equally hard, yet only for this reason, that all may gain leisure to an equal extent. But what are they to do with their leisure? What does your “society” do, that this leisure may be passed humanly? It must leave the gained leisure to egoistic preference again, and the very gain that your society furthers falls to the egoist, as the gain of the commonalty, the masterlessness of man, could not be filled with a human element by the State, and therefore was left to arbitrary choice.
It is assuredly necessary that man be masterless: but therefore the egoist is not to become master over man again either, but man over the egoist. Man must assuredly find leisure: but, if the egoist makes use of it, it will be lost for man; therefore you ought to have given leisure a human significance. But you laborers undertake even your labor from an egoistic impulse, because you want to eat, drink, live; how should you be less egoists in leisure? You labor only because having your time to yourselves (idling) goes well after work done, and what you are to while away your leisure time with is left to chance.
But, if every door is to be bolted against egoism, it would be necessary to strive after completely “disinterested” action, total disinterestedness. This alone is human, because only Man is disinterested, the egoist always interested.
* * *
If we let disinterestedness pass unchallenged for a while, then we ask, do you mean not to take an interest in anything, not to be enthusiastic for anything, not for liberty, humanity, etc.? “Oh, yes, but that is not an egoistic interest, not interestedness, but a human, i.e. a — theoretical interest, to wit, an interest not for an individual or individuals (‘all’), but for the idea, for Man!”
And you do not notice that you too are enthusiastic only for your idea, your idea of liberty?
And, further, do you not notice that your disinterestedness is again, like religious disinterestedness, a heavenly interestedness? Certainly benefit to the individual leaves you cold, and abstractly you could cry fiat libertas, pereat mundus. You do not take thought for the coming day either, and take no serious care for the individual’s wants anyhow, not for your own comfort nor for that of the rest; but you make nothing of all this, because you are a — dreamer.
Do you suppose the humane liberal will be so liberal as to aver that everything possible to man is human? On the contrary! He does not, indeed, share the Philistine’s moral prejudice about the strumpet, but “that this woman turns her body into a money-getting machine” makes her despicable to him as “human being.” His judgment is, the strumpet is not a human being; or, so far as a woman is a strumpet, so far is she unhuman, dehumanized. Further: The Jew, the Christian, the privileged person, the theologian, etc., is not a human being; so far as you are a Jew, etc., you are not a human being. Again the imperious postulate: Cast from you everything peculiar, criticize it away! Be not a Jew, not a Christian, but be a human being, nothing but a human being. Assert your humanity against every restrictive specification; make yourself, by means of it, a human being, and free from those limits; make yourself a “free man” — i.e. recognize humanity as your all-determining essence.
I say: You are indeed more than a Jew, more than a Christian, etc., but you are also more than a human being. Those are all ideas, but you are corporeal. Do you suppose, then, that you can ever become a “human being as such?” Do you suppose our posterity will find no prejudices and limits to clear away, for which our powers were not sufficient? Or do you perhaps think that in your fortieth or fiftieth year you have come so far that the following days have nothing more to dissipate in you, and that you are a human being? The men of the future will yet fight their way to many a liberty that we do not even miss. What do you need that later liberty for? If you meant to esteem yourself as nothing before you had become a human being, you would have to wait till the “last judgment,” till the day when man, or humanity, shall have attained perfection. But, as you will surely die before that, what becomes of your prize of victory?
Rather, therefore, invert the case, and say to yourself, I am a human being! I do not need to begin by producing the human being in myself, for he belongs to me already, like all my qualities.
But, asks the critic, how can one be a Jew and a man at once? In the first place, I answer, one cannot be either a Jew or a man at all, if “one” and Jew or man are to mean the same; “one” always reaches beyond those specifications, and — let Isaacs be ever so Jewish — a Jew, nothing but a Jew, he cannot be, just because he is this Jew. In the second place, as a Jew one assuredly cannot be a man, if being a man means being nothing special. But in the third place — and this is the point — I can, as a Jew, be entirely what I — can be. From Samuel or Moses, and others, you hardly expect that they should have raised themselves above Judaism, although you must say that they were not yet “men.” They simply were what they could be. Is it otherwise with the Jews of today? Because you have discovered the idea of humanity, does it follow from this that every Jew can become a convert to it? If he can, he does not fail to, and, if he fails to, he — cannot. What does your demand concern him? What the call to be a man, which you address to him?
* * *
As a universal principle, in the “human society” which the humane liberal promises, nothing “special” which one or another has is to find recognition, nothing which bears the character of “private” is to have value. In this way the circle of liberalism, which has its good principle in man and human liberty, its bad in the, egoist and everything private, its God in the former, its devil in the latter, rounds itself off completely; and, if the special or private person lost his value in the State (no personal prerogative), if in the “laborers’ or ragamuffins’ society” special (private) property is no longer recognized, so in “human society” everything special or private will be left out of account; and, when “pure criticism” shall have accomplished its arduous task, then it will be known just what we must look upon as private, and what, “penetrated with a sense of our nothingness,” we must — let stand.
Because State and Society do not suffice for humane liberalism, it negates both, and at the same time retains them. So at one time the cry is that the task of the day is “not a political, but a social, one,” and then again the “free State” is promised for the future. In truth, “human society” is both — the most general State and the most general society. Only against the limited State is it asserted that it makes too much stir about spiritual private interests (e.g. people’s religious belief), and against limited society that it makes too much of material private interests. Both are to leave private interests to private people, and, as human society, concern themselves solely about general human interests.
The politicians, thinking to abolish personal will, self-will or arbitrariness, did not observe that through property[Eigentum, “owndom”] our self-will[Eigenwille “own-will”] gained a secure place of refuge.
The Socialists, taking away property too, do not notice that this secures itself a continued existence in self-ownership. Is it only money and goods, then, that are a property. or is every opinion something of mine, something of my own?
So every opinion must be abolished or made impersonal. The person is entitled to no opinion, but, as self-will was transferred to the State, property to society, so opinion too must be transferred to something general, “Man,” and thereby become a general human opinion.
If opinion persists, then I have my God (why, God exists only as “my God,” he is an opinion or my “faith”), and consequently my faith, my religion, my thoughts, my ideals. Therefore a general human faith must come into existence, the “fanaticism of liberty.” For this would be a faith that agreed with the “essence of man,” and, because only “man” is reasonable (you and I might be very unreasonable!), a reasonable faith.
As self-will and property become powerless, so must self-ownership or egoism in general.
In this supreme development of “free man” egoism, self-ownership, is combated on principle, and such subordinate ends as the social “welfare” of the Socialists, etc., vanish before the lofty “idea of humanity.” Everything that is not a “general human” entity is something separate, satisfies only some or one; or, if it satisfies all, it does this to them only as individuals, not as men, and is therefore called “egoistic.”
To the Socialists welfare is still the supreme aim, as free rivalry was the approved thing to the political liberals; now welfare is free too, and we are free to achieve welfare, just as he who wanted to enter into rivalry (competition) was free to do so.
But to take part in the rivalry you need only to be commoners; to take part in the welfare, only to be laborers. Neither reaches the point of being synonymous with “man.” It is “truly well” with man only when he is also “intellectually free!” For man is mind: therefore all powers that are alien to him, the mind — all superhuman, heavenly, unhuman powers — must be overthrown and the name “man” must be above every name.
So in this end of the modern age (age of the moderns) there returns again, as the main point, what had been the main point at its beginning: “intellectual liberty.”
To the Communist in particular the humane liberal says: If society prescribes to you your activity, then this is indeed free from the influence of the individual, i.e. the egoist, but it still does not on that account need to be a purely human activity, nor you to be a complete organ of humanity. What kind of activity society demands of you remains accidental, you know; it might give you a place in building a temple or something of that sort, or, even if not that, you might yet on your own impulse be active for something foolish, therefore unhuman; yes, more yet, you really labor only to nourish yourself, in general to live, for dear life’s sake, not for the glorification of humanity. Consequently free activity is not attained till you make yourself free from all stupidities, from everything non-human, i.e., egoistic (pertaining only to the individual, not to the Man in the individual), dissipate all untrue thoughts that obscure man or the idea of humanity: in short, when you are not merely unhampered in your activity, but the substance too of your activity is only what is human, and you live and work only for humanity. But this is not the case so long as the aim of your effort is only your welfare and that of all; what you do for the society of ragamuffins is not yet anything done for “human society.”
Laboring does not alone make you a man, because it is something formal and its object accidental; the question is who you that labor are. As far as laboring goes, you might do it from an egoistic (material) impulse, merely to procure nourishment and the like; it must be a labor furthering humanity, calculated for the good of humanity, serving historical (i.e. human) evolution — in short, a human labor. This implies two things: one, that it be useful to humanity; next, that it be the work of a “man.” The first alone may be the case with every labor, as even the labors of nature, e.g. of animals, are utilized by humanity for the furthering of science, etc.; the second requires that he who labors should know the human object of his labor; and, as he can have this consciousness only when he knows himself as man, the crucial condition is — self-consciousness.
Unquestionably much is already attained when you cease to be a “fragment-laborer,” yet therewith you only get a view of the whole of your labor, and acquire a consciousness about it, which is still far removed from a self-consciousness, a consciousness about your true “self” or “essence,” Man. The laborer has still remaining the desire for a “higher consciousness,” which, because the activity of labor is unable to quiet it, he satisfies in a leisure hour. Hence leisure stands by the side of his labor, and he sees himself compelled to proclaim labor and idling human in one breath, yes, to attribute the true elevation to the idler, the leisure-enjoyer. He labors only to get rid of labor; he wants to make labor free, only that he may be free from labor.
In fine, his work has no satisfying substance, because it is only imposed by society, only a stint, a task, a calling; and, conversely, his society does not satisfy, because it gives only work.
His labor ought to satisfy him as a man; instead of that, it satisfies society; society ought to treat him as a man, and it treats him as — a rag-tag laborer, or a laboring ragamuffin.
Labor and society are of use to him not as he needs them as a man, but only as he needs them as an “egoist.”
Such is the attitude of criticism toward labor. It points to “mind,” wages the war “of mind with the masses,” and pronounces communistic labor unintellectual mass-labor. Averse to labor as they are, the masses love to make labor easy for themselves. In literature, which is today furnished in mass, this aversion to labor begets the universally-known superficiality, which puts from it “the toil of research.”
Therefore humane liberalism says: You want labor; all right, we want it likewise, but we want it in the fullest measure. We want it, not that we may gain spare time, but that we may find all satisfaction in it itself. We want labor because it is our self-development.
But then the labor too must be adapted to that end! Man is honored only by human, self-conscious labor, only by the labor that has for its end no “egoistic” purpose, but Man, and is Man’s self-revelation; so that the saying should be laboro, ergo sum, I labor, therefore I am a man. The humane liberal wants that labor of the mind which works up all material; he wants the mind, that leaves no thing quiet or in its existing condition, that acquiesces in nothing, analyzes everything, criticises anew every result that has been gained. This restless mind is the true laborer, it obliterates prejudices, shatters limits and narrownesses, and raises man above everything that would like to dominate over him, while the Communist labors only for himself, and not even freely, but from necessity, — in short, represents a man condemned to hard labor.
The laborer of such a type is not “egoistic,” because he does not labor for individuals, neither for himself nor for other individuals, not for private men therefore, but for humanity and its progress: he does not ease individual pains, does not care for individual wants, but removes limits within which humanity is pressed, dispels prejudices which dominate an entire time, vanquishes hindrances that obstruct the path of all, clears away errors in which men entangle themselves, discovers truths which are found through him for all and for all time; in short — he lives and labors for humanity.
Now, in the first place, the discoverer of a great truth doubtless knows that it can be useful to the rest of men, and, as a jealous withholding furnishes him no enjoyment, he communicates it; but, even though he has the consciousness that his communication is highly valuable to the rest, yet he has in no wise sought and found his truth for the sake of the rest, but for his own sake, because he himself desired it, because darkness and fancies left him no rest till he had procured for himself light and enlightenment to the best of his powers.
He labors, therefore, for his own sake and for the satisfaction of his want. That along with this he was also useful to others, yes, to posterity, does not take from his labor the egoistic character.
In the next place, if he did labor only on his own account, like the rest, why should his act be human, those of the rest unhuman, i. e., egoistic? Perhaps because this book, painting, symphony, etc., is the labor of his whole being, because he has done his best in it, has spread himself out wholly and is wholly to be known from it, while the work of a handicraftsman mirrors only the handicraftsman, i.e. the skill in handicraft, not “the man?” In his poems we have the whole Schiller; in so many hundred stoves, on the other hand, we have before us only the stove-maker, not “the man.”
But does this mean more than “in the one work you see me as completely as possible, in the other only my skill?” Is it not me again that the act expresses? And is it not more egoistic to offer oneself to the world in a work, to work out and shape oneself, than to remain concealed behind one’s labor? You say, to be sure, that you are revealing Man. But the Man that you reveal is you; you reveal only yourself, yet with this distinction from the handicraftsman — that he does not understand how to compress himself into one labor, but, in order to be known as himself, must be searched out in his other relations of life, and that your want, through whose satisfaction that work came into being, was a — theoretical want.
But you will reply that you reveal quite another man, a worthier, higher, greater, a man that is more man than that other. I will assume that you accomplish all that is possible to man, that you bring to pass what no other succeeds in. Wherein, then, does your greatness consist? Precisely in this, that you are more than other men (the “masses”), more than men ordinarily are, more than “ordinary men”; precisely in your elevation above men. You are distinguished beyond other men not by being man, but because you are a “unique” [“einziger”] man. Doubtless you show what a man can do; but because you, a man, do it, this by no means shows that others, also men, are able to do as much; you have executed it only as a unique man, and are unique therein.
It is not man that makes up your greatness, but you create it, because you are more than man, and mightier than other — men.
It is believed that one cannot be more than man. Rather, one cannot be less!
It is believed further that whatever one attains is good for Man. In so far as I remain at all times a man — or, like Schiller, a Swabian; like Kant, a Prussian; like Gustavus Adolfus, a near-sighted person — I certainly become by my superior qualities a notable man, Swabian, Prussian, or near-sighted person. But the case is not much better with that than with Frederick the Great’s cane, which became famous for Frederick’s sake.
To “Give God the glory” corresponds the modern “Give Man the glory.” But I mean to keep it for myself.
Criticism, issuing the summons to man to be “human,” enunciates the necessary condition of sociability; for only as a man among men is one companionable. Herewith it makes known its social object, the establishment of “human society.”
Among social theories criticism is indisputably the most complete, because it removes and deprives of value everything that separates man from man: all prerogatives, down to the prerogative of faith. In it the love-principle of Christianity, the true social principle, comes to the purest fulfillment, and the last possible experiment is tried to take away exclusiveness and repulsion from men: a fight against egoism in its simplest and therefore hardest form, in the form of singleness,[“Einzigkeit”] exclusiveness, itself.
“How can you live a truly social life so long as even one exclusiveness still exists between you?”
I ask conversely, How can you be truly single so long as even one connection still exists between you? If you are connected, you cannot leave each other; if a “tie” clasps you, you are something only with another, and twelve of you make a dozen, thousands of you a people, millions of you humanity.
“Only when you are human can you keep company with each other as men, just as you can understand each other as patriots only when you are patriotic!”
All right; then I answer, Only when you are single can you have intercourse with each other as what you are.
It is precisely the keenest critic who is hit hardest by the curse of his principle. Putting from him one exclusive thing after another, shaking off churchliness, patriotism, etc., he undoes one tie after another and separates himself from the churchly man, from the patriot, till at last, when all ties are undone, he stands — alone. He, of all men, must exclude all that have anything exclusive or private; and, when you get to the bottom, what can be more exclusive than the exclusive, single person himself!
Or does he perhaps think that the situation would be better if all became “man” and gave up exclusiveness? Why, for the very reason that “all” means “every individual” the most glaring contradiction is still maintained, for the “individual” is exclusiveness itself. If the humane liberal no longer concedes to the individual anything private or exclusive, any private thought, any private folly; if he criticises everything away from him before his face, since his hatred of the private is an absolute and fanatical hatred; if he knows no tolerance toward what is private, because everything private is unhuman — yet he cannot criticize away the private person himself, since the hardness of the individual person resists his criticism, and he must be satisfied with declaring this person a “private person” and really leaving everything private to him again.
What will the society that no longer cares about anything private do? Make the private impossible? No, but “subordinate it to the interests of society, and, e.g., leave it to private will to institute holidays as many as it chooses, if only it does not come in collision with the general interest.” Everything private is left free; i.e., it has no interest for society.
“By their raising barriers against science the church and religiousness have declared that they are what they always were, only that this was hidden under another semblance when they were proclaimed to be the basis and necessary foundation of the State — a matter of purely private concern. Even when they were connected with the State and made it Christian, they were only the proof that the State had not yet developed its general political idea, that it was only instituting private rights — they were only the highest expression for the fact that the State was a private affair and had to do only with private affairs. When the State shall at last have the courage and strength to fulfil its general destiny and to be free; when, therefore, it is also able to give separate interests and private concerns their true position — then religion and the church will be free as they have never been hitherto. As a matter of the most purely private concern, and a satisfaction of purely personal want, they will be left to themselves; and every individual, every congregation and ecclesiastical communion, will be able to care for the blessedness of their souls as they choose and as they think necessary. Every one will care for his soul’s blessedness so far as it is to him a personal want, and will accept and pay as spiritual caretaker the one who seems to him to offer the best guarantee for the satisfaction of his want. Science is at last left entirely out of the game.”
What is to happen, though? Is social life to have an end, and all affability, all fraternization, everything that is created by the love or society principle, to disappear?
As if one will not always seek the other because he needs him; as if one must accommodate himself to the other when he needs him. But the difference is this, that then the individual really unites with the individual, while formerly they were bound together by a tie; son and father are bound together before majority, after it they can come together independently; before it they belonged together as members of the family, after it they unite as egoists; sonship and fatherhood remain, but son and father no longer pin themselves down to these.
The last privilege, in truth, is “Man”; with it all are privileged or invested. For, as Bruno Bauer himself says, “privilege remains even when it is extended to all.”
Thus liberalism runs its course in the following transformations: “First, the individual is not man, therefore his individual personality is of no account: no personal will, no arbitrariness, no orders or mandates!
“Second, the individual has nothing human, therefore no mine and thine, or property, is valid.
“Third, as the individual neither is man nor has anything human, he shall not exist at all: he shall, as an egoist with his egoistic belongings, be annihilated by criticism to make room for Man, ‘Man, just discovered.’”
But, although the individual is not Man, Man is yet present in the individual, and, like every spook and everything divine, has its existence in him. Hence political liberalism awards to the individual everything that pertains to him as “a man by birth,” as a born man, among which there are counted liberty of conscience, the possession of goods, etc. — in short, the “rights of man”; Socialism grants to the individual what pertains to him as an active man, as a “laboring” man; finally. humane liberalism gives the individual what he has as “a man,” i. e., everything that belongs to humanity. Accordingly the single one [“Einzige”] has nothing at all, humanity everything; and the necessity of the “regeneration” preached in Christianity is demanded unambiguously and in the completest measure. Become a new creature, become “man!”
One might even think himself reminded of the close of the Lord’s Prayer. To Man belongs the lordship (the “power” or dynamis); therefore no individual may be lord, but Man is the lord of individuals; — Man’s is the kingdom, i.e. the world, consequently the individual is not to be proprietor, but Man, “all,” command the world as property — to Man is due renown, glorification or “glory” (doxa) from all, for Man or humanity is the individual’s end, for which he labors, thinks, lives, and for whose glorification he must become “man.”
Hitherto men have always striven to find out a fellowship in which their inequalities in other respects should become “nonessential”; they strove for equalization, consequently for equality, and wanted to come all under one hat, which means nothing less than that they were seeking for one lord, one tie, one faith (“‘Tis in one God we all believe”). There cannot be for men anything more fellowly or more equal than Man himself, and in this fellowship the love-craving has found its contentment: it did not rest till it had brought on this last equalization, leveled all inequality, laid man on the breast of man. But under this very fellowship decay and ruin become most glaring. In a more limited fellowship the Frenchman still stood against the German, the Christian against the Mohammedan, etc. Now, on the contrary, man stands against men, or, as men are not man, man stands against the un-man.
The sentence “God has become man” is now followed by the other, “Man has become I.” This is the human 1. But we invert it and say: I was not able to find myself so long as I sought myself as Man. But, now that it appears that Man is aspiring to become I and to gain a corporeity in me, I note that, after all, everything depends on me, and Man is lost without me. But I do not care to give myself up to be the shrine of this most holy thing, and shall not ask henceforward whether I am man or un-man in what I set about; let this spirit keep off my neck!
Humane liberalism goes to work radically. If you want to be or have anything especial even in one point, if you want to retain for yourself even one prerogative above others, to claim even one right that is not a “general right of man,” you are an egoist.
Very good! I do not want to have or be anything especial above others, I do not want to claim any prerogative against them, but — I do not measure myself by others either, and do not want to have any right whatever. I want to be all and have all that I can be and have. Whether others are and have anything similar, what do I care? The equal, the same, they can neither be nor have. I cause no detriment to them, as I cause no detriment to the rock by being “ahead of it” in having motion. If they could have it, they would have it.
To cause other men no detriment is the point of the demand to possess no prerogative; to renounce all “being ahead,” the strictest theory of renunciation. One is not to count himself as “anything especial,” e.g. a Jew or a Christian. Well, I do not count myself as anything especial, but as unique.[“einzig”] Doubtless I have similarity with others; yet that holds good only for comparison or reflection; in fact I am incomparable, unique. My flesh is not their flesh, my mind is not their mind. If you bring them under the generalities “flesh, mind,” those are your thoughts, which have nothing to do with my flesh, my mind, and can least of all issue a “call” to mine.
I do not want to recognize or respect in you any thing, neither the proprietor nor the ragamuffin, nor even the man, but to use you. In salt I find that it makes food palatable to me, therefore I dissolve it; in the fish I recognize an aliment, therefore I eat it; in you I discover the gift of making my life agreeable, therefore I choose you as a companion. Or, in salt I study crystallization, in the fish animality, in you men, etc. But to me you are only what you are for me — to wit, my object; and, because my object, therefore my property.
In humane liberalism ragamuffinhood is completed. We must first come down to the most ragamuffin-like, most poverty-stricken condition if we want to arrive at ownness, for we must strip off everything alien. But nothing seems more ragamuffin-like than naked — Man.
It is more than ragamuffinhood, however, when I throw away Man too because I feel that he too is alien to me and that T can make no pretensions on that basis. This is no longer mere ragamuffinhood: because even the last rag has fallen off, here stands real nakedness, denudation of everything alien. The ragamuffin has stripped off ragamuffinhood itself, and therewith has ceased to be what he was, a ragamuffin.
I am no longer a ragamuffin, but have been one.
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Up to this time the discord could not come to an outbreak, because properly there is current only a contention of modern liberals with antiquated liberals, a contention of those who understand “freedom” in a small measure and those who want the “full measure” of freedom; of the moderate and measureless, therefore. Everything turns on the question, how free must man be? That man must be free, in this all believe; therefore all are liberal too. But the un-man who is somewhere in every individual, how is he blocked? How can it be arranged not to leave the un-man free at the same time with man?
Liberalism as a whole has a deadly enemy, an invincible opposite, as God has the devil: by the side of man stands always the un-man, the individual, the egoist. State, society, humanity, do not master this devil.
Humane liberalism has undertaken the task of showing the other liberals that they still do not want “freedom.”
If the other liberals had before their eyes only isolated egoism and were for the most part blind, radical liberalism has against it egoism “in mass,” throws among the masses all who do not make the cause of freedom their own as it does, so that now man and un-man rigorously separated, stand over against each other as enemies, to wit, the “masses” and “criticism”; namely, “free, human criticism,” as it is called (Judenfrage, p. 114), in opposition to crude, that is, religious criticism.
Criticism expresses the hope that it will be victorious over all the masses and “give them a general certificate of insolvency.” So it means finally to make itself out in the right, and to represent all contention of the “faint-hearted and timorous” as an egoistic stubbornness,[Rechthaberei, literally the character of always insisting on making one’s self out to be in the right] as pettiness, paltriness. All wrangling loses significance, and petty dissensions are given up, because in criticism a common enemy enters the field. “You are egoists altogether, one no better than another!” Now the egoists stand together against criticism.
Really the egoists? No, they fight against criticism precisely because it accuses them of egoism; they do not plead guilty of egoism. Accordingly criticism and the masses stand on the same basis: both fight against egoism, both repudiate it for themselves and charge it to each other.
Criticism and the masses pursue the same goal, freedom from egoism, and wrangle only over which of them approaches nearest to the goal or even attains it.
The Jews, the Christians, the absolutists, the men of darkness and men of light, politicians, Communists — all, in short — hold the reproach of egoism far from them; and, as criticism brings against them this reproach in plain terms and in the most extended sense, all justify themselves against the accusation of egoism, and combat — egoism, the same enemy with whom criticism wages war.
Both, criticism and masses, are enemies of egoists, and both seek to liberate themselves from egoism, as well by clearing or whitewashing themselvesas by ascribing it to the opposite party.
The critic is the true “spokesman of the masses” who gives them the “simple concept and the phrase” of egoism, while the spokesmen to whom the triumph is denied were only bunglers. He is their prince and general in the war against egoism for freedom; what he fights against they fight against. But at the same time he is their enemy too, only not the enemy before them, but the friendly enemy who wields the knout behind the timorous to force courage into them.
Hereby the opposition of criticism and the masses is reduced to the following contradiction: “You are egoists!” “No, we are not!” “I will prove it to you!” “You shall have our justification!”
Let us then take both for what they give themselves out for, non-egoists, and what they take each other for, egoists. They are egoists and are not.
Properly criticism says: You must liberate your ego from all limitedness so entirely that it becomes a human ego. I say: Liberate yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively: not to every one is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Consequently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough if you tear down yours. Who has ever succeeded in tearing down even one limit for all men? Are not countless persons today, as at all times, running about with all the “limitations of humanity?” He who overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair. Nobody does anything else either. To demand of people that they become wholly men is to call on them to cast down all human limits. That is impossible, because Man has no limits. I have some indeed, but then it is only mine that concern me any, and only they can be overcome by me. A human ego I cannot become, just because I am I and not merely man.
Yet let us still see whether criticism has not taught us something that we can lay to heart! I am not free if I am not without interests, not man if I am not disinterested? Well, even if it makes little difference to me to be free or man, yet I do not want to leave unused any occasion to realize myself or make myself count. Criticism offers me this occasion by the teaching that, if anything plants itself firmly in me, and becomes indissoluble, I become its prisoner and servant, i.e. a possessed man. An interest, be it for what it may, has kidnapped a slave in me if I cannot get away from it, and is no longer my property, but I am its. Let us therefore accept criticism’s lesson to let no part of our property become stable, and to feel comfortable only in — dissolving it.
So, if criticism says: You are man only when you are restlessly criticizing and dissolving! then we say: Man I am without that, and I am I likewise; therefore I want only to be careful to secure my property to myself; and, in order to secure it, I continually take it back into myself, annihilate in it every movement toward independence, and swallow it before it can fix itself and become a “fixed idea” or a “mania.”
But I do that not for the sake of my “human calling,” but because I call myself to it. I do not strut about dissolving everything that it is possible for a man to dissolve, and, e.g., while not yet ten years old I do not criticize the nonsense of the Commandments, but I am man all the same, and act humanly in just this — that I still leave them uncriticized. In short, I have no calling, and follow none, not even that to be a man.
Do I now reject what liberalism has won in its various exertions? Far be the day that anything won should be lost! Only, after “Man” has become free through liberalism, I turn my gaze back upon myself and confess to myself openly: What Man seems to have gained, I alone have gained.
Man is free when “Man is to man the supreme being.” So it belongs to the completion of liberalism that every other supreme being be annulled, theology overturned by anthropology, God and his grace laughed down, “atheism” universal.
The egoism of property has given up the last that it had to give when even the “My God” has become senseless; for God exists only when he has at heart the individual’s welfare, as the latter seeks his welfare in him.
Political liberalism abolished the inequality of masters and servants: it made people masterless, anarchic. The master was now removed from the individual, the “egoist,” to become a ghost — the law or the State. Social liberalism abolishes the inequality of possession, of the poor and rich, and makes people possessionless or propertyless. Property is withdrawn from the individual and surrendered to ghostly society. Humane liberalism makes people godless, atheistic. Therefore the individual’s God, “My God,” must be put an end to. Now masterlessness is indeed at the same time freedom from service, possessionlessness at the same time freedom from care, and godlessness at the same time freedom from prejudice: for with the master the servant falls away; with possession, the care about it; with the firmly-rooted God, prejudice. But, since the master rises again as State, the servants appears again as subject; since possession becomes the property of society, care is begotten anew as labor; and, since God as Man becomes a prejudice, there arises a new faith, faith in humanity or liberty. For the individual’s God the God of all, viz., “Man,” is now exalted; “for it is the highest thing in us all to be man.” But, as nobody can become entirely what the idea “man” imports, Man remains to the individual a lofty other world, an unattained supreme being, a God. But at the same time this is the “true God,” because he is fully adequate to us — to wit, our own “self”; we ourselves, but separated from us and lifted above us.
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