Right is the spirit of society. If society has a will this will is simply right: society exists only through right. But, as it endures only exercising a sovereignty over individuals, right is its SOVEREIGN WILL. Aristotle says justice is the advantage of society.
All existing right is — foreign law; some one makes me out to be in the right, “does right by me.” But should I therefore be in the right if all the world made me out so? And yet what else is the right that I obtain in the State, in society, but a right of those foreign to me? When a blockhead makes me out in the right, I grow distrustful of my rightness; I don’t like to receive it from him. But, even when a wise man makes me out in the right, I nevertheless am not in the right on that account. Whether I am in the right is completely independent of the fool’s making out and of the wise man’s.
All the same, we have coveted this right till now. We seek for right, and turn to the court for that purpose. To what? To a royal, a papal, a popular court, etc. Can a sultanic court declare another right than that which the sultan has ordained to be right? Can it make me out in the right if I seek for a right that does not agree with the sultan’s law? Can it, e.g., concede to me high treason as a right, since it is assuredly not a right according to the sultan’s mind? Can it as a court of censorship allow me the free utterance of opinion as a right, since the sultan will hear nothing of this my right? What am I seeking for in this court, then? I am seeking for sultanic right, not my right; I am seeking for — foreign right. As long as this foreign right harmonizes with mine, to be sure, I shall find in it the latter too.
The State does not permit pitching into each other man to man; it opposes the duel. Even every ordinary appeal to blows, notwithstanding that neither of the fighters calls the police to it, is punished; except when it is not an I whacking away at a you, but, say, the head of a family at the child. The familyis entitled to this, and in its name the father; I as Ego am not.
The Vossische Zeitung presents to us the “commonwealth of right.” There everything is to be decided by the judge and a court. It ranks the supreme court of censorship as a “court” where “right is declared.” What sort of a right? The right of the censorship. To recognize the sentences of that court as right one must regard the censorship as right. But it is thought nevertheless that this court offers a protection. Yes, protection against an individual censor’s error: it protects only the censorship-legislator against false interpretation of his will, at the same time making his statute, by the “sacred power of right,” all the firmer against writers.
Whether I am in the right or not there is no judge but myself. Others can judge only whether they endorse my right, and whether it exists as right for them too.
In the meantime let us take the matter yet another way. I am to reverence sultanic law in the sultanate, popular law in republics, canon law in Catholic communities. To these laws I am to subordinate myself; I am to regard them as sacred. A “sense of right” and “law-abiding mind” of such a sort is so firmly planted in people’s heads that the most revolutionary persons of our days want to subject us to a new “sacred law,” the “law of society,” the law of mankind, the “right of all,” and the like. The right of “all” is to go before my right. As a right of all it would indeed be my right among the rest, since I, with the rest, am included in all; but that it is at the same time a right of others, or even of all others, does not move me to its upholding. Not as a right of all will I defend it, but as my right; and then every other may see to it how he shall likewise maintain it for himself. The right of all (e.g., to eat) is a right of every individual. Let each keep this right unabridged for himself, then all exercise it spontaneously; let him not take care for all though — let him not grow zealous for it as for a right of all.
But the social reformers preach to us a “law of society”. There the individual becomes society’s slave, and is in the right only when society makes him out in the right, i.e. when he lives according to society’s statutes and so is — loyal. Whether I am loyal under a despotism or in a “society” à la Weitling, it is the same absence of right in so far as in both cases I have not my right but foreign right.
In consideration of right the question is always asked, “What or who gives me the right to it?” Answer: God, love, reason, nature, humanity, etc. No, only your might, your power gives you the right (your reason, e.g.,, may give it to you).
Communism, which assumes that men “have equal rights by nature,” contradicts its own proposition till it comes to this, that men have no right at all by nature. For it is not willing to recognize, e.g., that parents have “by nature” rights as against their children, or the children as against the parents: it abolishes the family. Nature gives parents, brothers, etc., no right at all. Altogether, this entire revolutionary or Babouvist principle rests on a religious, i. e., false, view of things. Who can ask after “right” if he does not occupy the religious standpoint himself? Is not “right” a religious concept, i.e. something sacred? Why, “equality of rights”, as the Revolution propounded it, is only another name for “Christian equality,” the “equality of the brethren,” “of God’s children,” “of Christians”; in short, fraternité. Each and every inquiry after right deserves to be lashed with Schiller’s words:
Many a year I’ve used my nose
To smell the onion and the rose;
Is there any proof which shows
That I’ve a right to that same nose?
When the Revolution stamped equality as a “right,” it took flight into the religious domain, into the region of the sacred, of the ideal. Hence, since then, the fight for the “sacred, inalienable rights of man.” Against the “eternal rights of man” the “well-earned rights of the established order” are quite naturally, and with equal right, brought to bear: right against right, where of course one is decried by the other as “wrong.” This has been the contest of rights [Rechtsstreit, a word which usually means “lawsuit”] since the Revolution.
You want to be “in the right” as against the rest. That you cannot; as against them you remain forever “in the wrong”; for they surely would not be your opponents if they were not in “their right” too; they will always make you out “in the wrong.” But, as against the right of the rest, yours is a higher, greater, more powerful right, is it not? No such thing! Your right is not more powerful if you are not more powerful. Have Chinese subjects a right to freedom? Just bestow it on them, and then look how far you have gone wrong in your attempt: because they do not know how to use freedom they have no right to it, or, in clearer terms, because they have not freedom they have not the right to it. Children have no right to the condition of majority because they are not of age, i.e. because they are children. Peoples that let themselves be kept in nonage have no rights to the condition of majority; if they ceased to be in nonage, then only would they have the right to be of age. This means nothing else than “What you have the power to be you have the right to.” I derive all right and all warrant from me; I am entitled to everything that I have in my power. I am entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, God, etc., if I can; if I cannot, then these gods will always remain in the right and in power as against me, and what I do will be to fear their right and their power in impotent “god-fearingness,” to keep their commandments and believe that I do right in everything that I do according to their right, about as the Russian boundary-sentinels think themselves rightfully entitled to shoot dead the suspicious persons who are escaping, since they murder “by superior authority,” i.e. “with right.” But I am entitled by myself to murder if I myself do not forbid it to myself, if I myself do not fear murder as a “wrong.” This view of things lies at the foundation of Chamisso’s poem, “The Valley of Murder,” where the gray-haired Indian murderer compels reverence from the white man whose brethren he has murdered. The only thing I am not entitled to is what I do not do with a free cheer, i. e. what I do not entitle myself to.
I decide whether it is the right thing in me; there is no right outside me. If it is right for me,[a common German phrase for “it suits me”] it is right. Possibly this may not suffice to make it right for the rest; i. e., their care, not mine: let them defend themselves. And if for the whole world something were not right, but it were right for me, i. e., I wanted it, then I would ask nothing about the whole world. So every one does who knows how to value himself, every one in the degree that he is an egoist; for might goes before right, and that — with perfect right.
Because I am “by nature” a man I have an equal right to the enjoyment of all goods, says Babeuf. Must he not also say: because I am “by nature” a first-born prince I have a right to the throne? The rights of man and the “well-earned rights” come to the same thing in the end, i.e. to nature, which gives me a right, i. e. to birth (and, further, inheritance, etc.). “I am born as a man” is equal to “I am born as a king’s son.” The natural man has only a natural right (because he has only a natural power) and natural claims: he has right of birth and claims of birth. But nature cannot entitle me, i.e. give me capacity or might, to that to which only my act entitles me. That the king’s child sets himself above other children, even this is his act, which secures to him the precedence; and that the other children approve and recognize this act is their act, which makes them worthy to be — subjects.
Whether nature gives me a right, or whether God, the people’s choice, etc., does so, all of i. e., the same foreign right, a right that I do not give or take to myself.
Thus the Communists say, equal labor entitles man to equal enjoyment. Formerly the question was raised whether the “virtuous” man must not be “happy” on earth. The Jews actually drew this inference: “That it may go well with thee on earth.” No, equal labor does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have labored and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then — “it serves you right.”
If you take the enjoyment, it is your right; if, on the contrary, you only pine for it without laying hands on it, it remains as before, a, “well-earned right” of those who are privileged for enjoyment. It is their right, as by laying hands on it would become your right.
The conflict over the “right of property” wavers in vehement commotion. The Communists affirm that “the earth belongs rightfully to him who tills it, and its products to those who bring them out.” I think it belongs to him who knows how to take it, or who does not let it be taken from him, does not let himself be deprived of it. If he appropriates it, then not only the earth, but the right to it too, belongs to him. This is egoistic right: i.e. it is right for me, therefore it is right.
Aside from this, right does have “a wax nose.” The tiger that assails me is in the right, and I who strike him down am also in the right. I defend against him not my right, but myself.
As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, i.e. “concede,” to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves. It will be objected, the children had nevertheless “by nature” the right to exist; only the Spartans refused recognition to this right. But then they simply had no right to this recognition — no more than they had to recognition of their life by the wild beasts to which they were thrown.
People talk so much about birthright and complain:
There is alas! — no mention of the rights
That were born with us.
What sort of right, then, is there that was born with me? The right to receive an entailed estate, to inherit a throne, to enjoy a princely or noble education; or, again, because poor parents begot me, to — get free schooling, be clothed out of contributions of alms, and at last earn my bread and my herring in the coal-mines or at the loom? Are these not birthrights, rights that have come down to me from my parents through birth? You think — no; you think these are only rights improperly so called, it is just these rights that you aim to abolish through the real birthright. To give a basis for this you go back to the simplest thing and affirm that every one is by birth equal to another — to wit, a man. I will grant you that every one is born as man, hence the new-born are therein equal to each other. Why are they? Only because they do not yet show and exert themselves as anything but bare — children of men, naked little human beings. But thereby they are at once different from those who have already made something out of themselves, who thus are no longer bare “children of man,” but — children of their own creation. The latter possesses more than bare birthrights: they have earnedrights. What an antithesis, what a field of combat! The old combat of the birthrights of man and well-earned rights. Go right on appealing to your birthrights; people will not fail to oppose to you the well-earned. Both stand on the “ground of right”; for each of the two has a “right” against the other, the one the birthright of natural right, the other the earned or “well-earned” right.
If you remain on the ground of right, you remain in — Rechthaberei. The other cannot give you your right; he cannot “mete out right” to you. He who has might has — right; if you have not the former, neither have you the latter. Is this wisdom so hard to attain? Just look at the mighty and their doings! We are talking here only of China and Japan, of course. Just try it once, you Chinese and Japanese, to make them out in the wrong, and learn by experience how they throw you into jail. (Only do not confuse with this the “well-meaning counsels” which — in China and Japan — are permitted, because they do not hinder the mighty one, but possibly help him on.) For him who should want to make them out in the wrong there would stand open only one way thereto, that of might. If he deprives them of their might, then he has really made them out in the wrong, deprived them of their right; in any other case he can do nothing but clench his little fist in his pocket, or fall a victim as an obtrusive fool.
In short, if you Chinese or Japanese did not ask after right, and in particular if you did not ask after the rights “that were born with you,” then you would not need to ask at all after the well-earned rights either.
You start back in fright before others, because you think you see beside them the ghost of right, which, as in the Homeric combats, seems to fight as a goddess at their side, helping them. What do you do? Do you throw the spear? No, you creep around to gain the spook over to yourselves, that it may fight on your side: you woo for the ghost’s favor. Another would simply ask thus: Do I will what my opponent wills? “No!” Now then, there may fight for him a thousand devils or gods, I go at him all the same!
The “commonwealth of right,” as the Vossische Zeitung among others stands for it, asks that office-holders be removable only by the judge, not by the administration. Vain illusion! If it were settled by law that an office-holder who is once seen drunken shall lose his office, then the judges would have to condemn him on the word of the witnesses. In short, the law-giver would only have to state precisely all the possible grounds which entail the loss of office, however laughable they might be (e.g. he who laughs in his superiors’ faces, who does not go to church every Sunday, who does not take the communion every four weeks, who runs in debt, who has disreputable associates, who shows no determination, etc., shall be removed. These things the law-giver might take it into his head to prescribe, e.g., for a court of honor); then the judge would solely have to investigate whether the accused had “become guilty” of those “offenses,” and, on presentation of the proof, pronounce sentence of removal against him “in the name of the law.”
The judge is lost when he ceases to be mechanical, when he “is forsaken by the rules of evidence.” Then he no longer has anything but an opinion like everybody else; and, if he decides according to this opinion, his action is no longer an official action. As judge he must decide only according to the law. Commend me rather to the old French parliaments, which wanted to examine for themselves what was to be matters of right, and to register it only after their own approval. They at least judged according to a right of their own, and were not willing to give themselves up to be machines of the law-giver, although as judges they must, to be sure, become their own machines.
It is said that punishment is the criminal’s right. But impunity is just as much his right. If his undertaking succeeds, it serves him right, and, if it does not succeed, it likewise serves him right. You make your bed and lie in it. If some one goes foolhardily into dangers and perishes in them, we are apt to say, “It serves him right; he would have it so.” But, if he conquered the dangers, i.e. if his might was victorious, then he would be in the right too. If a child plays with the knife and gets cut, it is served right; but, if it doesn’t get cut, it is served right too. Hence right befalls the criminal, doubtless, when he suffers what he risked; why, what did he risk it for, since he knew the possible consequences? But the punishment that we decree against him is only our right, not his. Our right reacts against his, and he is — “in the wrong at last” because — we get the upper hand.
* * *
But what is right, what is matter of right in a society, is voiced too — in the law.[Gesetz, statute; no longer the same German word as “right”]
Whatever the law may be, it must be respected by the — loyal citizen. Thus the law-abiding mind of Old England is eulogized. To this that Euripidean sentiment (Orestes, 418) entirely corresponds: “We serve the gods, whatever the gods are.” Law as such, God as such, thus far we are today.
People are at pains to distinguish law from arbitrary orders, from an ordinance: the former comes from a duly entitled authority. But a law over human action (ethical law, State law, etc.) is always a declaration of will, and so an order. Yes, even if I myself gave myself the law, it would yet be only my order, to which in the next moment I can refuse obedience. One may well enough declare what he will put up with, and so deprecate the opposite of the law, making known that in the contrary case he will treat the transgressor as his enemy; but no one has any business to command my actions, to say what course I shall pursue and set up a code to govern it. I must put up with it that he treats me as his enemy, but never that he makes free with me as his creature, and that he makes his reason, or even unreason, my plumb-line.
States last only so long as there is a ruling will and this ruling will is looked upon as tantamount to the own will. The lord’s will is — law. What do your laws amount to if no one obeys them? What your orders, if nobody lets himself be ordered? The State cannot forbear the claim to determine the individual’s will, to speculate and count on this. For the State it is indispensable that nobody have an own will ; if one had, the State would have to exclude (lock up, banish, etc.) this one; if all had, they would do away with the State. The State is not thinkable without lordship and servitude (subjection); for the State must will to be the lord of all that it embraces, and this will is called the “will of the State.”
He who, to hold his own, must count on the absence of will in others is a thing made by these others, as the master is a thing made by the servant. If submissiveness ceased, it would be over with all lordship.
The own will of Me is the State’s destroyer; it is therefore branded by the State as “self-will.” Own will and the State are powers in deadly hostility, between which no “eternal peace” is possible. As long as the State asserts itself, it represents own will, its ever-hostile opponent, as unreasonable, evil; and the latter lets itself be talked into believing this — nay, it really is such, for no more reason than this, that it still lets itself be talked into such belief: it has not yet come to itself and to the consciousness of its dignity; hence it is still incomplete, still amenable to fine words, etc.
Every State is a despotism, be the despot one or many, or (as one is likely to imagine about a republic) if all be lords, i. e. despotize one over another. For this is the case when the law given at any time, the expressed volition of (it may be) a popular assembly, is thenceforth to be law for the individual, to which obedience is due from him or toward which he has the duty of obedience. If one were even to conceive the case that every individual in the people had expressed the same will, and hereby a complete “collective will” had come into being, the matter would still remain the same. Would I not be bound today and henceforth to my will of yesterday? My will would in this case be frozen. Wretched stability! My creature — to wit, a particular expression of will — would have become my commander. But I in my will, I the creator, should be hindered in my flow and my dissolution. Because I was a fool yesterday I must remain such my life long. So in the State-life I am at best — I might just as well say, at worst — a bondman of myself. Because I was a willer yesterday, I am today without will: yesterday voluntary, today involuntary.
How change it? Only be recognizing no duty, not binding myself nor letting myself be bound. If I have no duty, then I know no law either.
“But they will bind me!” My will nobody can bind, and my disinclination remains free.
“Why, everything must go topsy-turvy if every one could do what he would!” Well, who says that every one can do everything? What are you there for, pray, you who do not need to put up with everything? Defend yourself, and no one will do anything to you! He who would break your will has to do with you, and is your enemy. Deal with him as such. If there stand behind you for your protection some millions more, then you are an imposing power and will have an easy victory. But, even if as a power you overawe your opponent, still you are not on that account a hallowed authority to him, unless he be a simpleton. He does not owe you respect and regard, even though he will have to consider your might.
We are accustomed to classify States according to the different ways in which “the supreme might” is distributed. If an individual has it — monarchy; if all have it — democracy; etc. Supreme might then! Might against whom? Against the individual and his “self-will.” The State practices “violence,” the individual must not do so. The State’s behavior is violence, and it calls its violence “law”; that of the individual, “crime.” Crime, then [Verbrechen] — so the individual’s violence is called; and only by crime does he overcome [brechen] the State’s violence when he thinks that the State is not above him, but he is above the State.
Now, if I wanted to act ridiculously, I might, as a well-meaning person, admonish you not to make laws which impair my self-development, self-activity, self-creation. I do not give this advice. For, if you should follow it, you would be unwise, and I should have been cheated of my entire profit. I request nothing at all from you; for, whatever I might demand, you would still be dictatorial law-givers, and must be so, because a raven cannot sing, nor a robber live without robbery. Rather do I ask those who would be egoists what they think the more egoistic — to let laws be given them by you, and to respect those that are given, or to practice refractoriness, yes, complete disobedience. Good-hearted people think the laws ought to prescribe only what is accepted in the people’s feeling as right and proper. But what concern is it of mine what is accepted in the nation and by the nation? The nation will perhaps be against the blasphemer; therefore a law against blasphemy. Am I not to blaspheme on that account? Is this law to be more than an “order” to me? I put the question.
Solely from the principle that all right and all authority belong to the collectivity of the people do all forms of government arise. For none of them lacks this appeal to the collectivity, and the despot, as well as the president or any aristocracy, acts and commands “in the name of the State.” They are in possession of the “authority of the State,” and it is perfectly indifferent whether, were this possible, the people as a collectivity (all individuals) exercise this State — authority, or whether it is only the representatives of this collectivity, be there many of them as in aristocracies or one as in monarchies. Always the collectivity is above the individual, and has a power which is called legitimate, i.e. which is law.
Over against the sacredness of the State, the individual is only a vessel of dishonor, in which “exuberance, malevolence, mania for ridicule and slander, frivolity,” etc., are left as soon as he does not deem that object of veneration, the State, to be worthy of recognition. The spiritual haughtiness of the servants and subjects of the State has fine penalties against unspiritual “exuberance.”
When the government designates as punishable all play of mind against the State, the moderate liberals come and opine that fun, satire, wit, humor, must have free play anyhow, and genius must enjoy freedom. So not the individual man indeed, but still genius, is to be free. Here the State, or in its name the government, says with perfect right: He who is not for me is against me. Fun, wit, etc. — in short, the turning of State affairs into a comedy — have undermined States from of old: they are not “innocent.” And, further, what boundaries are to be drawn between guilty and innocent wit, etc.? At this question the moderates fall into great perplexity, and everything reduces itself to the prayer that the State (government) would please not be so sensitive, so ticklish; that it would not immediately scent malevolence in “harmless’ things, and would in general be a little “more tolerant.” Exaggerated sensitiveness is certainly a weakness, its avoidance may be praiseworthy virtue; but in time of war one cannot be sparing, and what may be allowed under peaceable circumstances ceases to be permitted as soon as a state of siege is declared. Because the well-meaning liberals feel this plainly, they hasten to declare that, considering “the devotion of the people,” there is assuredly no danger to be feared. But the government will be wiser, and not let itself be talked into believing anything of that sort. It knows too well how people stuff one with fine words, and will not let itself be satisfied with the Barmecide dish.
But they are bound to have their play-ground, for they are children, you know, and cannot be so staid as old folks; boys will be boys. Only for this playground, only for a few hours of jolly running about, they bargain. They ask only that the State should not, like a splenetic papa, be too cross. It should permit some Processions of the Ass and plays of fools, as the church allowed them in the Middle Ages. But the times when it could grant this without danger are past. Children that now once come into the open, and live through an hour without the rod of discipline, are no longer willing to go into the cell. For the open is now no longer a supplement to the cell, no longer a refreshing recreation, but its opposite, an aut-aut. In short, the State must either no longer put up with anything, or put up with everything and perish; it must be either sensitive through and through, or, like a dead man, insensitive. Tolerance is done with. If the State but gives a finger, they take the whole hand at once. There can be no more “jesting,” and all jest, such as fun, wit, humor, becomes bitter earnest.
The clamor of the Liberals for freedom of the press runs counter to their own principle, their proper will. They will what they do not will, i.e. they wish, they would like. Hence it is too that they fall away so easily when once so-called freedom of the press appears; then they would like censorship. Quite naturally. The State is sacred even to them; likewise morals. They behave toward it only as ill-bred brats, as tricky children who seek to utilize the weaknesses of their parents. Papa State is to permit them to say many things that do not please him, but papa has the right, by a stern look, to blue-pencil their impertinent gabble. If they recognize in him their papa, they must in his presence put up with the censorship of speech, like every child.
* * *
If you let yourself be made out in the right by another, you must no less let yourself be made out in the wrong by him; if justification and reward come to you from him, expect also his arraignment and punishment. Alongside right goes wrong, alongside legality crime. What are you? — You are a — criminal!
“The criminal is in the utmost degree the State’s own crime!” says Bettina. One may let this sentiment pass, even if Bettina herself does not understand it exactly so. For in the State the unbridled I — I, as I belong to myself alone — cannot come to my fulfillment and realization. Every ego is from birth a criminal to begin with against the people, the State. Hence it is that it does really keep watch over all; it sees in each one an — egoist, and it is afraid of the egoist. It presumes the worst about each one, and takes care, police-care, that “no harm happens to the State,” ne quid respublica detrimenti capiat. The unbridled ego — and this we originally are, and in our secret inward parts we remain so always — is the never-ceasing criminal in the State. The man whom his boldness, his will, his inconsiderateness and fearlessness lead is surrounded with spies by the State, by the people. I say, by the people! The people (think it something wonderful, you good-hearted folks, what you have in the people) — the people is full of police sentiments through and through. — Only he who renounces his ego, who practices “self-renunciation,” is acceptable to the people.
In the book cited Bettina is throughout good-natured enough to regard the State as only sick, and to hope for its recovery, a recovery which she would bring about through the “demagogues”; but it is not sick; rather is it in its full strength, when it puts from it the demagogues who want to acquire something for the individuals, for “all.” In its believers it is provided with the best demagogues (leaders of the people). According to Bettina, the State is to “develop mankind’s germ of freedom; otherwise it is a raven-mother[An unnatural mother] and caring for raven-fodder!” It cannot do otherwise, for in its very caring for “mankind” (which, besides, would have to be the “humane” or “free” State to begin with) the “individual” is raven-fodder for it. How rightly speaks the burgomaster, on the other hand: “What? the State has no other duty than to be merely the attendant of incurable invalids? — that isn’t to the point. From of old the healthy State has relieved itself of the diseased matter, and not mixed itself with it. It does not need to be so economical with its juices. Cut off the robber-branches without hesitation, that the others may bloom. — Do not shiver at the State’s harshness; its morality, its policy and religion, point it to that. Accuse it of no want of feeling; its sympathy revolts against this, but its experience finds safety only in this severity! There are diseases in which only drastic remedies will help. The physician who recognizes the disease as such, but timidly turns to palliatives, will never remove the disease, but may well cause the patient to succumb after a shorter or longer sickness.” Frau Rat’s question, “If you apply death as a drastic remedy, how is the cure to be wrought then?” isn’t to the point. Why, the State does not apply death against itself, but against an offensive member; it tears out an eye that offends it, etc.
“For the invalid State the only way of salvation is to make man flourish in it.” If one here, like Bettina, understand by man the concept “Man,” she is right; the “invalid” State will recover by the flourishing of “Man,” for, the more infatuated the individuals are with “Man,” the better it serves the State’s turn. But, if one referred it to the individuals, to “all” (and the authoress half-does this too, because about “Man” she is still involved in vagueness), then it would sound somewhat like the following: For an invalid band of robbers the only way of salvation is to make the loyal citizen nourish in it! Why, thereby the band of robbers would simply go to ruin as a band of robbers; and, because it perceives this, it prefers to shoot every one who has a leaning toward becoming a “steady man.”
In this book Bettina is a patriot, or, what is little more, a philanthropist, a worker for human happiness. She is discontented with the existing order in quite the same way as is the title-ghost of her book, along with all who would like to bring back the good old faith and what goes with it. Only she thinks, contrariwise, that the politicians, place-holders, and diplomats ruined the State, while those lay it at the door of the malevolent, the “seducers of the people.”
What is the ordinary criminal but one who has committed the fatal mistake of endeavoring after what is the people’s instead of seeking for what is his? He has sought despicable alien goods, has done what believers do who seek after what is God’s. What does the priest who admonishes the criminal do? He sets before him the great wrong of having desecrated by his act what was hallowed by the State, its property (in which, of course, must be included even the life of those who belong to the State); instead of this, he might rather hold up to him the fact that he has befouled himself in not despising the alien thing, but thinking it worth stealing; he could, if he were not a parson. Talk with the so-called criminal as with an egoist, and he will be ashamed, not that he transgressed against your laws and goods, but that he considered your laws worth evading, your goods worth desiring; he will be ashamed that he did not — despise you and yours together, that he was too little an egoist. But you cannot talk egoistically with him, for you are not so great as a criminal, you — commit no crime! You do not know that an ego who is his own cannot desist from being a criminal, that crime is his life. And yet you should know it, since you believe that “we are all miserable sinners”; but you think surreptitiously to get beyond sin, you do not comprehend — for you are devil-fearing — that guilt is the value of a man. Oh, if you were guilty! But now you are “righteous.”[Gerechte] Well — just put every thing nicely to rights [macht Alles hübsch gerecht] for your master!
When the Christian consciousness, or the Christian man, draws up a criminal code, what can the concept of crime be there but simply — heartlessness? Each severing and wounding of a heart relation, each heartless behavior toward a sacred being, is crime. The more heartfelt the relation is supposed to be, the more scandalous is the deriding of it, and the more worthy of punishment the crime. Everyone who is subject to the lord should love him; to deny this love is a high treason worthy of death. Adultery is a heartlessness worthy of punishment; one has no heart, no enthusiasm, no pathetic feeling for the sacredness of marriage. So long as the heart or soul dictates laws, only the heartful or soulful man enjoys the protection of the laws. That the man of soul makes laws means properly that the moral man makes them: what contradicts these men’s “moral feeling,” this they penalize. How, e.g., should disloyalty, secession, breach of oaths — in short, all radical breaking off, all tearing asunder of venerable ties — not be flagitious and criminal in their eyes? He who breaks with these demands of the soul has for enemies all the moral, all the men of soul. Only Krummacher and his mates are the right people to set up consistently a penal code of the heart, as a certain bill sufficiently proves. The consistent legislation of the Christian State must be placed wholly in the hands of the — parsons, and will not become pure and coherent so long as it is worked out only by — the parson-ridden, who are always only half-parsons. Only then will every lack of soulfulness, every heartlessness, be certified as an unpardonable crime, only then will every agitation of the soul become condemnable, every objection of criticism and doubt be anathematized; only then is the own man, before the Christian consciousness, a convicted — criminal to begin with.
The men of the Revolution often talked of the people’s “just revenge” as its “right.” Revenge and right coincide here. Is this an attitude of an ego to an ego? The people cries that the opposite party has committed “crimes” against it. Can I assume that one commits a crime against me, without assuming that he has to act as I see fit? And this action I call the right, the good, etc.; the divergent action, a crime. So I think that the others must aim at the same goal with me; i.e., I do not treat them as unique beings[Einzige] who bear their law in themselves and live according to it, but as beings who are to obey some “rational” law. I set up what “Man” is and what acting in a “truly human” way is, and I demand of every one that this law become norm and ideal to him; otherwise he will expose himself as a “sinner and criminal.” But upon the “guilty” falls the “penalty of the law”!
One sees here how it is “Man” again who sets on foot even the concept of crime, of sin, and therewith that of right. A man in whom I do not recognize “man” is “sinner, a guilty one.”
Only against a sacred thing are there criminals; you against me can never be a criminal, but only an opponent. But not to hate him who injures a sacred thing is in itself a crime, as St. Just cries out against Danton: “Are you not a criminal and responsible for not having hated the enemies of the fatherland?” —
If, as in the Revolution, what “Man” is apprehended as “good citizen,” then from this concept of “Man” we have the well-known “political offenses and crimes.”
In all this the individual, the individual man, is regarded as refuse, and on the other hand the general man, “Man,” is honored. Now, according to how this ghost is named — as Christian, Jew, Mussulman, good citizen, loyal subject, freeman, patriot, etc. — just so do those who would like to carry through a divergent concept of man, as well as those who want to put themselves through, fall before victorious “Man.”
And with what unction the butchery goes on here in the name of the law, of the sovereign people, of God, etc.!
Now, if the persecuted trickily conceal and protect themselves from the stern parsonical judges, people stigmatize them as St. Just, e.g., does those whom he accuses in the speech against Danton. One is to be a fool, and deliver himself up to their Moloch.
Crimes spring from fixed ideas. The sacredness of marriage is a fixed idea. From the sacredness it follows that infidelity is a crime, and therefore a certain marriage law imposes upon it a shorter or longer penalty. But by those who proclaim “freedom as sacred” this penalty must be regarded as a crime against freedom, and only in this sense has public opinion in fact branded the marriage law.
Society would have every one come to his right indeed, but yet only to that which is sanctioned by society, to the society-right, not really to his right. But I give or take to myself the right out of my own plenitude of power, and against every superior power I am the most impenitent criminal. Owner and creator of my right, I recognize no other source of right than — me, neither God nor the State nor nature nor even man himself with his “eternal rights of man,” neither divine nor human right.
Right “in and for itself.” Without relation to me, therefore! “Absolute right.” Separated from me, therefore! A thing that exists in and for itself! An absolute! An eternal right, like an eternal truth!
According to the liberal way of thinking, right is to be obligatory for me because it is thus established by human reason, against which my reason is “unreason.” Formerly people inveighed in the name of divine reason against weak human reason; now, in the name of strong human reason, against egoistic reason, which is rejected as “unreason.” And yet none is real but this very “unreason.” Neither divine nor human reason, but only your and my reason existing at any given time, is real, as and because you and I are real.
The thought of right is originally my thought; or, it has its origin in me. But, when it has sprung from me, when the “Word” is out, then it has “become flesh,” it is a fixed idea. Now I no longer get rid of the thought; however I turn, it stands before me. Thus men have not become masters again of the thought “right,” which they themselves created; their creature is running away with them. This is absolute right, that which is absolved or unfastened from me. We, revering it as absolute, cannot devour it again, and it takes from us the creative power: the creature is more than the creator, it is “in and for itself.”
Once you no longer let right run around free, once you draw it back into its origin, into you, it is your right; and that is right which suits you.
* * *
Right has had to suffer an attack within itself, i.e. from the standpoint of right; war being declared on the part of liberalism against “privilege.”[Literally, “precedent right”]
Privileged and endowed with equal rights — on these two concepts turns a stubborn fight. Excluded or admitted — would mean the same. But where should there be a power — be it an imaginary one like God, law, or a real one like I, you — of which it should not be true that before it all are “endowed with equal rights,” i. e., no respect of persons holds? Every one is equally dear to God if he adores him, equally agreeable to the law if only he is a law- abiding person; whether the lover of God and the law is humpbacked and lame, whether poor or rich, etc., that amounts to nothing for God and the law; just so, when you are at the point of drowning, you like a Negro as rescuer as well as the most excellent Caucasian — yes, in this situation you esteem a dog not less than a man. But to whom will not every one be also, contrariwise, a preferred or disregarded person? God punishes the wicked with his wrath, the law chastises the lawless, you let one visit you every moment and show the other the door.
The “equality of right” is a phantom just because right is nothing more and nothing less than admission, a matter of grace, which, be it said, one may also acquire by his desert; for desert and grace are not contradictory, since even grace wishes to be “deserved” and our gracious smile falls only to him who knows how to force it from us.
So people dream of “all citizens of the State having to stand side by side, with equal rights.” As citizens of the State they are certainly all equal for the State. But it will divide them, and advance them or put them in the rear, according to its special ends, if on no other account; and still more must it distinguish them from one another as good and bad citizens.
Bruno Bauer disposes of the Jew question from the standpoint that “privilege” is not justified. Because Jew and Christian have each some point of advantage over the other, and in having this point of advantage are exclusive, therefore before the critic’s gaze they crumble into nothingness. With them the State lies under the like blame, since it justifies their having advantages and stamps it as a “privilege.” or prerogative, but thereby derogates from its calling to become a “free State.”
But now every one has something of advantage over another — viz., himself or his individuality; in this everybody remains exclusive.
And, again, before a third party every one makes his peculiarity count for as much as possible, and (if he wants to win him at all) tries to make it appear attractive before him.
Now, is the third party to be insensible to the difference of the one from the other? Do they ask that of the free State or of humanity? Then these would have to be absolutely without self-interest, and incapable of taking an interest in any one whatever. Neither God (who divides his own from the wicked) nor the State (which knows how to separate good citizens from bad) was thought of as so indifferent.
But they are looking for this very third party that bestows no more “privilege.” Then it is called perhaps the free State, or humanity, or whatever else it may be.
As Christian and Jew are ranked low by Bruno Bauer on account of their asserting privileges, it must be that they could and should free themselves from their narrow standpoint by self-renunciation or unselfishness. If they threw off their “egoism,” the mutual wrong would cease, and with it Christian and Jewish religiousness in general; it would be necessary only that neither of them should any longer want to be anything peculiar.
But, if they gave up this exclusiveness, with that the ground on which their hostilities were waged would in truth not yet be forsaken. In case of need they would indeed find a third thing on which they could unite, a “general religion,” a “religion of humanity,” etc.; in short, an equalization, which need not be better than that which would result if all Jews became Christians, by this likewise the “privilege” of one over the other would have an end. The tension[Spannung] would indeed be done away, but in this consisted not the essence of the two, but only their neighborhood. As being distinguished from each other they must necessarily be mutually resistant,[gespannt] and the disparity will always remain. Truly it is not a failing in you that you stiffen [spannen] yourself against me and assert your distinctness or peculiarity: you need not give way or renounce yourself.
People conceive the significance of the opposition too formally and weakly when they want only to “dissolve” it in order to make room for a third thing that shall “unite.” The opposition deserves rather to be sharpened. As Jew and Christian you are in too slight an opposition, and are contending only about religion, as it were about the emperor’s beard, about a fiddlestick’s end. Enemies in religion indeed, in the rest you still remain good friends, and equal to each other, e.g. as men. Nevertheless the rest too is unlike in each; and the time when you no longer merely dissemble your opposition will be only when you entirely recognize it, and everybody asserts himself from top to toe as unique [Einzig]. Then the former opposition will assuredly be dissolved, but only because a stronger has taken it up into itself.
Our weakness consists not in this, that we are in opposition to others, but in this, that we are not completely so; that we are not entirely severed from them, or that we seek a “communion,” a “bond,” that in communion we have an ideal. One faith, one God, one idea, one hat, for all! If all were brought under one hat, certainly no one would any longer need to take off his hat before another.
The last and most decided opposition, that of unique against unique, is at bottom beyond what is called opposition, but without having sunk back into “unity” and unison. As unique you have nothing in common with the other any longer, and therefore nothing divisive or hostile either; you are not seeking to be in the right against him before a third party, and are standing with him neither “on the ground of right” nor on any other common ground. The opposition vanishes in complete — severance or singleness.[Einzigkeit] This might indeed be regarded as the new point in common or a new parity, but here the parity consists precisely in the disparity, and is itself nothing but disparity, a par of disparity, and that only for him who institutes a “comparison.”
The polemic against privilege forms a characteristic feature of liberalism, which fumes against “privilege” because it itself appeals to “right.” Further than to fuming it cannot carry this; for privileges do not fall before right falls, as they are only forms of right. But right falls apart into its nothingness when it is swallowed up by might, i.e. when one understands what is meant by “Might goes before right.” All right explains itself then as privilege, and privilege itself as power, as — superior power.
But must not the mighty combat against superior power show quite another face than the modest combat against privilege, which is to be fought out before a first judge, “Right,” according to the judge’s mind?
* * *
Now, in conclusion, I have still to take back the half-way form of expression of which I was willing to make use only so long as I was still rooting among the entrails of right, and letting the word at least stand. But, in fact, with the concept the word too loses its meaning. What I called “my right” is no longer “right” at all, because right can be bestowed only by a spirit, be it the spirit of nature or that of the species, of mankind, the Spirit of God or that of His Holiness or His Highness, etc. What I have without an entitling spirit I have without right; I have it solely and alone through my power.
I do not demand any right, therefore I need not recognize any either. What I can get by force I get by force, and what I do not get by force I have no right to, nor do I give myself airs, or consolation, with my imprescriptible right.
With absolute right, right itself passes away; the dominion of the “concept of right” is canceled at the same time. For it is not to be forgotten that hitherto concepts, ideas, or principles ruled us, and that among these rulers the concept of right, or of justice, played one of the most important parts.
Entitled or unentitled — that does not concern me, if I am only powerful, I am of myself empowered, and need no other empowering or entitling.
Right — is a wheel in the head, put there by a spook; power — that am I myself, I am the powerful one and owner of power. Right is above me, is absolute, and exists in one higher, as whose grace it flows to me: right is a gift of grace from the judge; power and might exist only in me the powerful and mighty.