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TUCoPS :: Cyber Culture :: der_einz.txt

Max Stirner's "Der Einzige un Sein Eigentum" - LONG Anarchist rant

Max Stirner's "Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum"


All Things Are Nothing To Me1

What is not supposed to be my concern!2 First and foremost, the Good
Cause3, then God's cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, of
humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, my
fatherland; finally, even the cause of Mind, and a thousand other causes.
Only my cause is never to be my concern. ''Shame on the egoist who thinks
only of himself!"
Let us look and see, then, how they manage their concerns - they for whose
cause we are to labour, devote ourselves, and grow enthusiastic.
You have much profound information to give about God, and have for
thousands of years "searched the depths of the Godhead," and looked into
its heart, so that you can doubtless tell us how God himself attends to
"God's cause," which we are called to serve. And you do not conceal the
Lord's doings, either. Now, what is his cause? Has he, as is demanded of
us, made an alien cause, the cause of truth or love, his own? You are
shocked by this misunderstanding, and you instruct us that God's cause is
indeed the cause of truth and love, but that this cause cannot be called
alien to him, because God is himself truth and love; you are shocked by the
assumption that God could be like us poor worms in furthering an alien
cause as his own. "Should God take up the cause of truth if he were not
himself truth?" He cares only for his cause, but, because he is all in all,
therefore all is his cause! But we, we are not all in all, and our cause is
altogether little and contemptible; therefore we must "serve a higher
cause." - Now it is clear, God cares only for what is his, busies himself
only with himself, thinks only of himself, and has only himself before his
eyes; woe to all that is not well pleasing to him. He serves no higher
person, and satisfies only himself. His cause is - a purely egoistic cause.
How is it with mankind, whose cause we are to make our own? Is its cause
that of another, and does mankind serve a higher cause? No, mankind looks
only at itself, mankind will promote the interests of mankind only, mankind
is its own cause. That it may develop, it causes nations and individuals to
wear themselves out in its service, and, when they have accomplished what
mankind needs, it throws them on the dung-heap of history in gratitude. Is
not mankind's cause - a purely egoistic cause? 
I have no need to take up each thing that wants to throw its cause on us
and show that it is occupied only with itself, not with us, only with its
good, not with ours. Look at the rest for yourselves. Do truth, freedom,
humanity, justice, desire anything else than that you grow enthusiastic and
serve them?
They all have an admirable time of it when they receive zealous homage.
Just observe the nation that is defended by devoted patriots. The patriots
fall in bloody battle or in the fight with hunger and want; what does the
nation care for that? By the manure of their corpses the nation comes to
"its bloom"! The individuals have died "for the great cause of the nation,"
and the nation sends some words of thanks after them and - has the profit
of it. I call that a paying kind of egoism.
But only look at that Sultan who cares so lovingly for his people. Is he
not pure unselfishness itself, and does he not hourly sacrifice himself for
his people? Oh, yes, for "his people." Just try it; show yourself not as
his, but as your own; for breaking away from his egoism you will take a
trip to jail. The Sultan has set his cause on nothing but himself; he is to
himself all in all, he is to himself the only one, and tolerates nobody who
would dare not to be one of "his people."
And will you not learn by these brilliant examples that the egoist gets on
best? I for my part take a lesson from them, and propose, instead of
further unselfishly serving those great egoists, rather to be the egoist
God and mankind have concerned themselves for nothing, for nothing but
themselves. Let me then likewise concern myself for myself, who am equally
with God the nothing of all others, who am my all, who am the only one.4
If God, if mankind, as you affirm, have substance enough in themselves to
be all in all to themselves, then I feel that I shall still less lack that,
and that I shall have no complaint to make of my "emptiness." I am not
nothing in the sense of emptiness, but I am the creative nothing, the
nothing out of which I myself as creator create everything.
Away, then, with every concern that is not altogether my concern! You think
at least the "good cause" must be my concern? What's good, what's bad? Why,
I myself am my concern, and I am neither good nor bad. Neither has meaning
for me. The divine is God's concern; the human, man's. My concern is
neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., but
solely what is mine, and it is not a general one, but is - unique5, as I am
Nothing is more to me than myself!
1(Ich hab` Mein Sach` auf Nichts gestellt, first line of Goethe`s poem,
Vanitas! Vanitatum Vanitas!  Literal translation: "I have set my affair on
4(der Einzige)



	Man is to man the supreme being, says Feuerbach.
	Man has just been discovered, says Bruno Bauer.
	Let us take a more careful look at this supreme being
	and this new discovery.


A Human Life

>From the moment when he catches sight of the light of the world a man seeks
to find out himself and get hold of himself out of its confusion, in which
he, with everything else, is tossed about in motley mixture.
But everything that comes in contact with the child defends itself in turn
against his attacks, and asserts its own persistence.
Accordingly, because each thing cares for itself and at the same time comes
into constant collision with other things, the combat of self-assertion is
Victory or defeat Q between the two alternatives the fate of the combat
wavers. The victor becomes the lord, the vanquished one the subject: the
former exercises supremacy and "rights of supremacy," the latter fulfils in
awe and deference the "duties of a subject."
But both remain enemies, and always lie in wait: they watch for each
other's weaknesses Q children for those of their parents and parents for
those of their children (their fear, for example); either the stick
conquers the man, or the man conquers the stick.
In childhood liberation takes the direction of trying to get to the bottom
of things, to get at what is "back of" things; therefore we spy out the
weak points of everybody, for which, it is well known, children have a sure
instinct; therefore we like to smash things, like to rummage through hidden
corners, pry after what is covered up or out of the way, and try what we
can do with everything. When we once get at what is back of the things, we
know we are safe; when we have got at the fact that the rod is too weak
against our obduracy, then we no longer fear it, "have outgrown it."
Back of the rod, mightier than it, stands our Q obduracy, our obdurate
courage. By degrees we get at what is back of everything that was
mysterious and uncanny to us, the mysteriousIy-dreaded might of the rod,
the father's stern look, etc., and back of all we find our ataraxia Q our
imperturbability, intrepidity, our counter forces, our odds of strength,
our invincibility. Before that which formerly inspired in us fear and
deference we no longer retreat shyly, but take courage. Back of everything
we find our courage, our superiority; back of the sharp command of parents
and authorities stands, after all, our courageous choice or our outwitting
shrewdness. And the more we feel ourselves, the smaller appears that which
before seemed invincible. And what is our trickery, shrewdness, courage,
obduracy? What else but Q mind !1
Through a considerable time we are spared a fight that is so exhausting
later Q the fight against reason. The fairest part of childhood passes
without the necessity of coming to blows with reason. We care nothing at
all about it, do not meddle with it, admit no reason. We are not to be
persuaded to anything by conviction, and are deaf to good arguments and
principles; on the other hand, coaxing, punishment, and the like are hard
for us to resist. This stem life-and-death combat with reason enters later,
and begins a new phase; in childhood we scamper about without racking our
brains much.
Mind is the name of the first self-discovery, the first undeification of
the divine; that is, of the uncanny, the spooks, the "powers above." Our
fresh feeling of youth, this feeling of self, now defers to nothing; the
world is discredited, for we are above it, we are mind. Now for the first
time we see that hitherto we have not looked at the world intelligently at
all, but only stared at it.
We exercise the beginnings of our strength on natural powers. We defer to
parents as a natural power; later we say: Father and mother are to be
forsaken, all natural power to be counted as riven. They are vanquished.
For the rational, the "intellectual" man, there is no family as a natural
power; a renunciation of parents, brothers, etc., makes its appearance. If
these are "born again" as intellectual, rational powers, they are no longer
at all what they were before.
And not only parents, but men in general, are conquered by the young man;
they are no hindrance to him, and are no longer regarded; for now he says:
One must obey God rather than men.
Prom this high stand-point everything "earthly" recedes into contemptible
remoteness; for the stand-point is Q the heavenly.
The attitude is now altogether reversed; the youth takes up an intellectual
position, while the boy, who did not yet feel himself as mind, grew up on
mindless learning. The former does not try to get hold of things (for
instance, to get into his head the data of history), but of the thoughts
that lie hidden in things, and so, therefore, of the spirit of history. On
the other hand, the boy understands connections no doubt, but not ideas,
the spirit; therefore he strings together whatever can be learned, without
proceeding a priori and theoretically, without looking for ideas.
As in childhood one had to overcome the resistance of the laws of the
world, so now in everything that he proposes he is met by an objection of
the mind, of reason, of his own conscience. "That is unreasonable,
unchristian, unpatriotic," and the like, cries conscience to us, and Q
frightens us away from it. Not the might of the avenging Eumenides, not
Poseidon's wrath, not God, far as he sees the hidden, not the father's rod
of punishment, do we fear, but Qconscience.
We "run after our thoughts" now, and follow their commands just as before
we followed parental, human ones. Our course of action is determined by our
thoughts (ideas, conceptions, faith ) as it is in childhood by the commands
of our parents.
For all that, we were already thinking when we were children, only our
thoughts were not fleshless, abstract, absolute, that is, NOTHING BUT
THOUGHTS, a heaven in themselves, a pure world of thought, logical
On the contrary, they had been only thoughts that we had about a thing; we
thought of the thing so or so. Thus we may have thought "God made the world
that we see there," but we did not think of ("search") the "depths of the
Godhead itself"; we may have thought "that is the truth about the matter,"
but we do not think of Truth itself, nor unite into one sentence "God is
truth." The "depths of the Godhead, who is truth," we did not touch. Over
such purely logical (theological) questions, "What is truth?" Pilate does
not stop, though he does not therefore hesitate to ascertain in an
individual case "what truth there is in the thing," whether the thing is
Any thought bound to a thing is not yet nothing but a thought, absolute thought.
To bring to light the pure thought, or to be of its party, is the delight
of youth; and all the shapes of light in the world of thought, like truth,
freedom, humanity, Man, illumine and inspire the youthful soul.
But, when the spirit is recognized as the essential thing, it still makes a
difference whether the spirit is poor or rich, and therefore one seeks to
become rich in spirit; the spirit wants to spread out so as to found its
empire Q an empire that is not of this world, the world just conquered.
Thus, then, it longs to become all in all to itself; for, although I am
spirit, I am not yet perfected spirit, and must first seek the complete
But with that I, who had just now found myself as spirit, lose myself again
at once, bowing before the complete spirit as one not my own but supernal,
and feeling my emptiness.
Spirit is the essential point for everything, to be sure; but then is every
spirit the "right" spirit? The right and true spirit is the ideal of
spirit, the "Holy Spirit." It is not my or your spirit, but just Q an
ideal, supernal one, it is "God." "God is spirit." And this supernal
"Father in heaven gives it to those that pray to him."2
The man is distinguished from the youth by the fact that he takes the world
as it is, instead of everywhere fancying it amiss and wanting to improve
it, model it after his ideal; in him the view that one must deal with the
world according to his interest, not according to his ideals, becomes
So long as one knows himself only as spirit, and feels that all the value
of his existence consists in being spirit (it becomes easy for the youth to
give his life, the "bodily life," for a nothing, for the silliest point of
honour), so long it is only thoughts that one has, ideas that he hopes to
be able to realize some day when he has found a sphere of action; thus one
has meanwhile only ideals, unexecuted ideas or thoughts.
Not till one has fallen in love with his corporeal self, and takes a
pleasure in himself as a living flesh-and-blood person Q but it is in
mature years, in the man, that we find it so Q not till then has one a
personal or egoistic interest, an interest not only of our spirit, for
instance, but of total satisfaction, satisfaction of the whole chap, a
selfish interest. Just compare a man with a youth, and see if he will not
appear to you harder, less magnanimous, more selfish. Is he therefore
worse? No, you say; he has only become more definite, or, as you also call
it, more "practical." But the main point is this, that he makes himself
more the centre than does the youth, who is infatuated about other things,
for example, God, fatherland, and so on.
Therefore the man shows a second self-discovery. The youth found himself as
spirit and lost himself again in the general spirit, the complete, holy
spirit, Man, mankind Q in short, all ideals; the man finds himself as
embodied spirit.
Boys had only unintellectual interests (those interests devoid of thoughts
and ideas), youths only intellectual ones; the man has bodily, personal,
egoistic interests.
If the child has not an object that it can occupy itself with, it feels
ennui; for it does not yet know how to occupy itself with itself. The
youth, on the contrary, throws the object aside, because for him thoughts
arose out of the object; he occupies himself with his thoughts, his dreams,
occupies himself intellectually, or "his mind is occupied."
The young man includes everything not intellectual under the contemptuous
name of "externalities." If he nevertheless sticks to the most trivial
externalities (such as the customs of students' clubs and other
formalities), it is because, and when, he discovers mind in them, when they
are symbols to him.
As I find myself back of things, and that as mind, so I must later find
myself also back of thoughts Q to wit, as their creator and owner. In the
time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring
they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies
Q an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account,
were ghosts, such as God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy
their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: "I alone am
corporeal." And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my
property; I refer all to myself.
If as spirit I had thrust away the world in the deepest contempt, so as
owner I thrust spirits or ideas away into their "vanity." They have no
longer any power over me, as no "earthly might" has power over the spirit.
The child was realistic, taken up with the things of this world, till
little by little he succeeded in getting at what was back of these very
things; the youth was idealistic, inspired by thoughts, till he worked his
way up to where he became the man, the egoistic man, who deals with things
and thoughts according to his heart's pleasure, and sets his personal
interest above everything. Finally, the old man? When I become one, there
will still be time enough to speak of that.
1(Geist. This word will be translated sometimes "mind" and sometimes
"spirit" in the following pages.)
2Luke 11. 13.


Men of The Old Time and The New

How each of us developed himself, what he strove for, attained, or missed,
what objects he formerly pursued and what plans and wishes his heart is now
set on, what transformation his views have experienced, what perturbations
his principles Q in short, how he has today become what yesterday or years
ago he was not Q this he brings out again from his memory with more or less
ease, and he feels with especial vividness what changes have taken place in
himself when he has before his eyes the unrolling of another's life.
Let us therefore look into the activities our forefathers busied themselves

A.- The Ancients

Custom having once given the name of "the ancients" to our pre-Christian
ancestors, we will not throw it up against them that, in comparison with us
experienced people, they ought properly to be called children, but will
rather continue to honour them as our good old fathers. But how have they
come to be antiquated, and who could displace them through his pretended
We know, of course, the revolutionary innovator and disrespectful heir, who
even took away the sanctity of the fathers' sabbath to hallow his Sunday,
and interrupted the course of time to begin at himself with a new
chronology; we know him, and know that it is Q the Christian. But does he
remain forever young, and is he today still the new man, or will he too be
superseded, as he has superseded the "ancients"?
The fathers must doubtless have themselves begotten the young one who
entombed them. Let us then peep at this act of generation.
"To the ancients the world was a truth," says Feuerbach,1 but he forgets to
make the important addition, "a truth whose untruth they tried to get back
of, and at last really did." What is meant by those words of Feuerbach will
be easily recognized if they are put alongside the Christian thesis of the
"vanity and transitoriness of the world." For, as the Christian can never
convince himself of the vanity of the divine word, but believes in its
eternal and unshakable truth, which, the more its depths are searched, must
all the more brilliantly come to light and triumph, so the ancients on
their side lived in the feeling that the world and mundane relations (such
as the natural ties of blood) were the truth before which their powerless
"I" must bow. The very thing on which the ancients set the highest value is
spurned by Christians as the valueless, and what they recognized as truth
these brand as idle lies; the high significance of the fatherland
disappears, and the Christian must regard himself as "a stranger on
earth";2 the sanctity of funeral rites, from which sprang a work of art
like the Antigone of Sophocles, is designated as a paltry thing ("Let the
dead bury their dead"); the infrangible truth of family ties is represented
as an untruth which one cannot promptly enough get clear of;3 and so in
If we now see that to the two sides opposite things appear as truth, to one
the natural, to the other the intellectual, to one earthly things and
relations, to the other heavenly (the heavenly fatherland, "Jerusalem that
is above," etc.), it still remains to be considered how the new time and
that undeniable reversal could come out of antiquity. But the ancients
themselves worked toward making their truth a lie.
Let us plunge at once into the midst of the most brilliant years of the
ancients, into the Periclean century. Then the Sophistic culture was
spreading, and Greece made a pastime of what had hitherto been to her a
monstrously serious matter.
The fathers had been enslaved by the undisturbed power of existing things
too long for the posterity not to have to learn by bitter experience to
feel themselves. Therefore the Sophists, with courageous sauciness,
pronounce the reassuring words, "Don't be bluffed!" and diffuse the
rationalistic doctrine, "Use your understanding, your wit, your mind,
against everything; it is by having a good and well-drilled understanding
that one gets through the world best, provides for himself the best lot,
the pleasantest life." Thus they recognize in mind man's true weapon
against the world. This is why they lay such stress on dialectic skill,
command of language, the art of disputation, etc. They announce that mind
is to be used against everything; but they are still far removed from the
holiness of the Spirit, for to them it is a means, a weapon, as trickery
and defiance serve children for the same purpose; their mind is the
unbribable understanding.
Today we should call that a one-sided culture of the understanding, and add
the warning, "Cultivate not only your understanding, but also, and
especially, your heart." Socrates did the same. For, if the heart did not
become free from its natural impulses, but remained filled with the most
fortuitous contents and, as an uncriticized avidity, altogether in the
power of things, nothing but a vessel of the most various appetites Q then
it was unavoidable that the free understanding must serve the "bad heart"
and was ready to justify everything that the wicked heart desired.
Therefore Socrates says that it is not enough for one to use his
understanding in all things, but it is a question of what cause one exerts
it for. We should now say, one must serve the "good cause." But serving the
good cause is Q being moral. Hence Socrates is the founder of ethics.
Certainly the principle of the Sophistic doctrine must lead to the
possibility that the blindest and most dependent slave of his desires might
yet be an excellent sophist, and, with keen understanding, trim and expound
everything in favour of his coarse heart. What could there be for which a
"good reason" might not be found, or which might not be defended through
thick and thin?
Therefore Socrates says: "You must be 'pure-hearted' if your shrewdness is
to be valued." At this point begins the second period of Greek liberation
of the mind, the period of purity of heart. For the first was brought to a
close by the Sophists in their proclaiming the omnipotence of the
understanding. But the heart remained worldly-minded, remained a servant of
the world, always affected by worldly wishes. This coarse heart was to be
cultivated from now on Q the era of culture of the heart. But how is the
heart to be cultivated? What the understanding; this one side of the mind,
has reached Q to wit, the capability of playing freely with and over every
concern Q awaits the heart also; everything worldly must come to grief
before it, so that at last family, commonwealth, fatherland, and the like,
are given up for the sake of the heart, that is, of blessedness, the
heart's blessedness.
Daily experience confirms the truth that the understanding may have
renounced a thing many years before the heart has ceased to beat for it. So
the Sophistic understanding too had so far become master over the dominant,
ancient powers that they now needed only to be driven out of the heart, in
which they dwelt unmolested, to have at last no part at all left in man.
This war is opened by Socrates, and not till the dying day of the old world
does it end in peace.
The examination of the heart takes its start with Socrates, and all the
contents of the heart are sifted. In their last and extremest struggles the
ancients threw all contents out of the heart and let it no longer beat for
anything; this was the deed of the Skeptics. The same purgation of the
heart was now achieved in the Skeptical age, as the understanding had
succeeded in establishing in the Sophistic age.
The Sophistic culture has brought it to pass that one's understanding no
longer stands still before anything, and the Skeptical, that his heart is
no longer moved by anything.
So long as man is entangled in the movements of the world and embarrassed
by relations to the world Q and he is so till the end of antiquity, because
his heart still has to struggle for independence from the worldly Q so long
he is not yet spirit; for spirit is without body, and has no relations to
the world and corporeality; for it the world does not exist, nor natural
bonds, but only the spiritual, and spiritual bonds. Therefore man must
first become so completely unconcerned and reckless, so altogether without
relations, as the Skeptical culture presents him Q so altogether
indifferent to the world that even its falling in ruins would not move him
Q before he could feel himself as worldless; that is, as spirit. And this
is the result of the gigantic work of the ancients: that man knows himself
as a being without relations and without a world, as spirit.
Only now, after all worldly care has left him, is he all in all to himself,
is he only for himself, is he spirit for the spirit, or, in plainer
language, he cares only for the spiritual.
In the Christian wisdom of serpents and innocence of doves the two sides Q
understanding and heart Q of the ancient liberation of mind are so
completed that they appear young and new again, and neither the one nor the
other lets itself be bluffed any longer by the worldly and natural.
Thus the ancients mounted to spirit, and strove to become spiritual. But a
man who wishes to be active as spirit is drawn to quite other tasks than he
was able to set himself formerly: to tasks which really give something to
do to the spirit and not to mere sense or acuteness,4 which exerts itself
only to become master of things. The spirit busies itself solely about the
spiritual, and seeks out the "traces of mind" in everything; to the
believing spirit "everything comes from God," and interests him only to the
extent that it reveals this origin; to the philosophic spirit everything
appears with the stamp of reason, and interests him only so far as he is
able to discover in it reason, that is, spiritual content.
Not the spirit, then, which has to do with absolutely nothing unspiritual,
with no thing, but only with the essence which exists behind and above
things, with thoughts Q not that did the ancients exert, for they did not
yet have it; no, they had only reached the point of struggling and longing
for it, and therefore sharpened it against their too-powerful foe, the
world of sense (but what would not have been sensuous for them, since
Jehovah or the gods of the heathen were yet far removed from the conception
"God is spirit," since the "heavenly fatherland" had not yet stepped into
the place of the sensuous, etc.?) Q they sharpened against the world of
sense their sense, their acuteness. To this day the Jews, those precocious
children of antiquity, have got no farther; and with all the subtlety and
strength of their prudence and understanding, which easily becomes master
of things and forces them to obey it, they cannot discover spirit, which
takes no account whatever of things.
The Christian has spiritual interests, because he allows himself to be a
spiritual man; the Jew does not even understand these interests in their
purity, because he does not allow himself to assign no value to things. He
does not arrive at pure spirituality, a spirituality such as is religiously
expressed, for instance, in the faith of Christians, which alone (without
works) justifies. Their unspirituality sets Jews forever apart from
Christians; for the spiritual man is incomprehensible to the unspiritual,
as the unspiritual is contemptible to the spiritual. But the Jews have only
"the spirit of this world."
The ancient acuteness and profundity lies as far from the spirit and the
spirituality of the Christian world as earth from heaven.
He who feels himself as free spirit is not oppressed and made anxious by
the things of this world, because he does not care for them; if one is
still to feel their burden, he must be narrow enough to attach weight to
them Q as is evidently the case, for instance, when one is still concerned
for his "dear life." He to whom everything centres in knowing and
conducting himself as a free spirit gives little heed to how scantily he is
supplied meanwhile, and does not reflect at all on how he must make his
arrangements to have a thoroughly free or enjoyable life. He is not
disturbed by the inconveniences of the life that depends on things, because
he lives only spiritually and on spiritual food, while aside from this he
only gulps things down like a beast, hardly knowing it, and dies bodily, to
be sure, when his fodder gives out, but knows himself immortal as spirit,
and closes his eyes with an adoration or a thought. His life is occupation
with the spiritual, is Q thinking; the rest does not bother him; let him
busy himself with the spiritual in any way that he can and chooses Q in
devotion, in contemplation, or in philosophic cognition Q his doing is
always thinking; and therefore Descartes, to whom this had at last become
quite clear, could lay down the proposition: "I think, that is Q I am."
This means, my thinking is my being or my life; only when I live
spiritually do I live; only as spirit am I really, or Q I am spirit through
and through and nothing but spirit. Unlucky Peter Schlemihl,5 who has lost
his shadow, is the portrait of this man become a spirit; for the spirit's
body is shadowless. - Over against this, how different among the ancients!
Stoutly and manfully as they might bear themselves against the might of
things, they must yet acknowledge the might itself, and got no farther than
to protect their life against it as well as possible. Only at a late hour
did they recognize that their "true life" was not that which they led in
the fight against the things of the world, but the "spiritual life,"
"turned away" from these things; and, when they saw this, they became
Christians, the moderns, and innovators upon the ancients. But the life
turned away from things, the spiritual life, no longer draws any
nourishment from nature, but "lives only on thoughts," and therefore is no
longer "life," but Q thinking.
Yet it must not be supposed now that the ancients were without thoughts,
just as the most spiritual man is not to be conceived of as if he could be
without life. Rather, they had their thoughts about everything, about the
world, man, the gods, etc., and showed themselves keenly active in bringing
all this to their consciousness. But they did not know thought, even though
they thought of all sorts of things and "worried themselves with their
thoughts." Compare with their position the Christian saying, "My thoughts
are not your thoughts; as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my
thoughts higher than your thoughts," and remember what was said above about
our child-thoughts.
What is antiquity seeking, then? The true enjoyment of life! You will find
that at bottom it is all the same as "the true life."
The Greek poet Simonides6 sings: "Health is the noblest good for mortal
man, the next to this is beauty, the third riches acquired without guile,
the fourth the enjoyment of social pleasures in the company of young
friends." These are all good things of life, pleasures of life. What else
was Diogenes of Sinope seeking for than the true enjoyment of life, which
he discovered in having the least possible wants? What else Aristippus,7
who found it in a cheery temper under all circumstances? They are seeking
for cheery, unclouded life-courage, for cheeriness; they are seeking to "be
of good cheer."
The Stoics want to realize the wise man, the man with practical philosophy,
the man who knows how to live Q a wise life, therefore; they find him in
contempt for the world, in a life without development, without spreading
out, without friendly relations with the world, thus in the isolated life,
in life as life, not in life with others; only the Stoic lives, all else is
dead for him. The Epicureans, on the contrary, demand a moving life.
The ancients, as they want to be of good cheer, desire good living (the
Jews especially a long life, blessed with children and goods), eudaemonia,
well-being in the most various forms. Democritus, for example, praises as
such the "calm of the soul" in which one "lives smoothly, without fear and
without excitement."
So what he thinks is that with this he gets on best, provides for himself
the best lot, and gets through the world best. But as he cannot get rid of
the world Q and in fact cannot for the very reason that his whole activity
is taken up in the effort to get rid of it, that is, in repelling the world
(for which it is yet necessary that what can be and is repelled should
remain existing, otherwise there would be no longer anything to repel) Q he
reaches at most an extreme degree of liberation, and is distinguishable
only in degree from the less liberated. If he even got as far as the
deadening of the earthly sense, which at last admits only the monotonous
whisper of the word "Brahm,"8 he nevertheless would not be essentially
distinguishable from the sensual man.
Even the stoic attitude and manly virtue amounts only to this Q that one
must maintain and assert himself against the world; and the ethics of the
Stoics (their only science, since they could tell nothing about the spirit
but how it should behave toward the world, and of nature (physics) only
this, that the wise man must assert himself against it) is not a doctrine
of the spirit, but only a doctrine of the repelling of the world and of
self-assertion against the world. And this consists in "imperturbability
and equanimity of life," and so in the most explicit Roman virtue.
The Romans too (Horace, Cicero, and others) went no further than this
practical philosophy.
The comfort (hedone) of the Epicureans is the same practical philosophy the
Stoics teach, only trickier, more deceitful. They teach only another
behaviour toward the world, exhort us only to take a shrewd attitude toward
the world; the world must be deceived, for it is my enemy.
The break with the world is completely carried through by the Skeptics. My
entire relation to the world is "worthless and truthless." Timon9 says,
"The feelings and thoughts which we draw from the world contain no truth."
"What is truth?" cries Pilate. According to Pyrrho's10 doctrine the world
is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly, but these are
predicates which I give it. Timon says that "in itself nothing is either
good or bad, but man only thinks of it thus or thus"; to face the world
only ataraxia (unmovedness) and aphasia (speechlessness Q or, in other
words, isolated inwardness) are left. There is "no longer any truth to be
recognized" in the world; things contradict themselves; thoughts about
things are without distinction (good and bad are all the same, so that what
one calls good another finds bad); here the recognition of "truth" is at an
end, and only the man without power of recognition, the man who finds in
the world nothing to recognize, is left, and this man just leaves the
truth-vacant world where it is and takes no account of it.
So antiquity gets through with the world of things, the order of the world,
the world as a whole; but to the order of the world, or the things of this
world, belong not only nature, but all relations in which man sees himself
placed by nature, as in the family, the community Q in short, the so-called
"natural bonds." With the world of the spirit Christianity then begins. The
man who still faces the world armed is the ancient, the Q heathen (to which
class the Jew, too, as non-Christian, belongs); the man who has come to be
led by nothing but his "heart's pleasure," the interest he takes, his
fellow-feeling, his Q spirit, is the modern, the  Q Christian.
As the ancients worked toward the conquest of the world and strove to
release man from the heavy trammels of connection with other things, at
last they came also to the dissolution of the State and giving preference
to everything private. Of course community, family, and so forth, as
natural relations, are burdensome hindrances which diminish my spiritual

B.-The Moderns

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old is passed away,
behold, all is become new.''11
As it was said above, "To the ancients the world was a truth," we must say
here, "To the moderns the spirit was a truth"; but here, as there, we must
not omit the supplement, "a truth whose untruth they tried to get back of,
and at last they really do."
A course similar to that which antiquity took may be demonstrated in
Christianity also, in that the understanding was held a prisoner under the
dominion of the Christian dogmas up to the time preparatory to the Reformati
on, but in the pre-Reformation century asserted itself sophistically and
played heretical pranks with all tenets of the faith. And the talk then
was, especially in Italy and at the Roman court, "If only the heart remains
Christian-minded, the understanding may go right on taking its pleasure."
Long before the Reformation, people were so thoroughly accustomed to
fine-spun "wranglings" that the pope, and most others, looked on Luther's
appearance too as a mere "wrangling of monks" at first. Humanism
corresponds to Sophisticism, and, as in the time of the Sophists Greek life
stood in its fullest bloom (the Periclean age), so the most brilliant
things happened in the time of Humanism, or, as one might perhaps also say,
of Machiavellianism (printing, the New World, etc.). At this time the heart
was still far from wanting to relieve itself of its Christian contents.
But finally the Reformation, like Socrates, took hold seriously of the
heart itself, and since then hearts have kept growing visibly Q more
unchristian. As with Luther people began to take the matter to heart, the
outcome of this step of the Reformation must be that the heart also gets
lightened of the heavy burden of Christian faith. The heart, from day to
day more unchristian, loses the contents with which it had busied itself,
till at last nothing but empty warmheartedness is left it, the quite
general love of men, the love of Man, the consciousness of freedom,
Only so is Christianity complete, because it has become bald, withered, and
void of contents. There are now no contents whatever against which the
heart does not mutiny, unless indeed the heart unconsciously or without
"self-consciousness" lets them slip in. The heart criticizes to death with
hard-hearted mercilessness everything that wants to make its way in, and is
capable (except, as before, unconsciously or taken by surprise) of no
friendship, no love. What could there be in men to love, since they are all
alike "egoists," none of them man as such, none are spirit only? The
Christian loves only the spirit; but where could one be found who should be
really nothing but spirit?
To have a liking for the corporeal man with hide and hair  Q why, that
would no longer be a "spiritual" warmheartedness, it would be treason
against "pure" warmheartedness, the "theoretical regard." For pure
warmheartedness is by no means to be conceived as like that kindliness that
gives everybody a friendly hand-shake; on the contrary, pure
warmheartedness is warm-hearted toward nobody, it is only a theoretical
interest, concern for man as man, not as a person. The person is repulsive
to it because of being "egoistic," because of not being that abstraction,
Man. But it is only for the abstraction that one can have a theoretical
regard. To pure warmheartedness or pure theory men exist only to be
criticized, scoffed at, and thoroughly despised; to it, no less than to the
fanatical parson, they are only "filth" and other such nice things.
Pushed to this extremity of disinterested warmheartedness, we must finally
become conscious that the spirit, which alone the Christian loves, is
nothing; in other words, that the spirit is Q a lie.
What has here been set down roughly, summarily, and doubtless as yet
incomprehensibly, will, it is to be hoped, become clear as we go on.
Let us take up the inheritance left by the ancients, and, as active
workmen, do with it as much as Q can be done with it! The world lies
despised at our feet, far beneath us and our heaven, into which its mighty
arms are no longer thrust and its stupefying breath does not come.
Seductively as it may pose, it can delude nothing but our sense; it cannot
lead astray the spirit Q and spirit alone, after all, we really are. Having
once got back of things, the spirit has also got above them, and become
free from their bonds, emancipated, supernal, free. So speaks "spiritual
To the spirit which, after long toil, has got rid of the world, the
worldless spirit, nothing is left after the loss of the world and the
worldly but Q the spirit and the spiritual.
Yet, as it has only moved away from the world and made of itself a being
free from the world, without being able really to annihilate the world,
this remains to it a stumbling-block that cannot be cleared away, a
discredited existence; and, as, on the other hand, it knows and recognizes
nothing but the spirit and the spiritual, it must perpetually carry about
with it the longing to spiritualize the world, to redeem it from the "black
list." Therefore, like a youth, it goes about with plans for the redemption
or improvement of the world.
The ancients, we saw, served the natural, the worldly, the natural order of
the world, but they incessantly asked themselves of this service; and, when
they had tired themselves to death in ever-renewed attempts at revolt,
then, among their last sighs, was born to them the God, the "conqueror of
the world." All their doing had been nothing but wisdom of the world, an
effort to get back of the world and above it. And what is the wisdom of the
many following centuries? What did the moderns try to get back of? No
longer to get back of the world, for the ancients had accomplished that;
but back of the God whom the ancients bequeathed to them, back of the God
who "is spirit," back of everything that is the spirit's, the spiritual.
But the activity of the spirit, which "searches even the depths of the
Godhead," is theology. If the ancients have nothing to show but wisdom of
the world, the moderns never did nor do make their way further than to
theology. We shall see later that even the newest revolts against God are
nothing but the extremest efforts of "theology," that is, theological

1.- The Spirit

The realm of spirits is monstrously great, there is an infinite deal of the
spiritual; yet let us look and see what the spirit, this bequest of the
ancients, properly is.
Out of their birth-pangs it came forth, but they themselves could not utter
themselves as spirit; they could give birth to it, it itself must speak.
The "born God, the Son of Man," is the first to utter the word that the
spirit, he, God, has to do with nothing earthly and no earthly
relationship, but solely ,with the spirit and spiritual relationships.
Is my courage, indestructible under all the world's blows, my inflexibility
and my obduracy, perchance already spirit in the full sense, because the
world cannot touch it? Why, then it would not yet be at enmity with the
world, and all its action would consist merely in not succumbing to the
world! No, so long as it does not busy itself with itself alone, so long as
it does not have to do with its world, the spiritual, alone, it is not free
spirit, but only the "spirit of this world," the spirit fettered to it. The
spirit is free spirit, that is, really spirit, only in a world of its own;
in "this," the earthly world, it is a stranger. Only through a spiritual
world is the spirit really spirit, for "this" world does not understand it
and does not know how to keep "the maiden from a foreign land''12 from
But where is it to get this spiritual world? Where but out of itself? It
must reveal itself; and the words that it speaks, ;the revelations in which
it unveils itself, these are its world. As a visionary lives and has his
world only in the visionary pictures that he himself creates, as a crazy
man generates for himself his own dream-world, without which he could not
be crazy, so the spirit must create for itself its spirit world, and is not
spirit till it creates it.
Thus its creations make it spirit, and by its creatures we know it, the
creator; in them it lives, they are its world.
Now, what is the spirit? It is the creator of a spiritual world! Even in
you and me people do not recognize spirit till they see that we have
appropriated to ourselves something spiritual; though thoughts may have
been set before us, we have at least brought them to live in ourselves;
for, as long as we were children, the most edifying thoughts might have
been laid before us without our wishing, or being able, to reproduce them
in ourselves. So the spirit also exists only when it creates something
spiritual; it is real only together with the spiritual, its creature.
As, then, we know it by its works, the question is what these works are.
But the works or children of the spirit are nothing else but Q spirits.
If I had before me Jews, Jews of the true metal, I should have to stop here
and leave them standing before this mystery as for almost two thousand
years they have remained standing before it, unbelieving and without
knowledge. But, as you, my dear reader, are at least not a full-blooded Jew
Q for such a one will not go astray as far as this Q we will still go along
a bit of road together, till perhaps you too turn your back on me because I
laugh in your face.
If somebody told you you were altogether spirit, you would take hold of
your body and not believe him, but answer: "I have a spirit, no doubt, but
do not exist only as spirit, but as a man with a body." You would still
distinguish yourself from "your spirit." "But," replies he, "it is your
destiny, even though now you are yet going about in the fetters of the
body, to be one day a 'blessed spirit,' and, however you may conceive of
the future aspect of your spirit, so much is yet certain, that in death you
will put off this body and yet keep yourself, your spirit, for all
eternity; accordingly your spirit is the eternal and true in you, the body
only a dwelling here below, which you may leave and perhaps exchange for
Now you believe him! For the present, indeed, you are not spirit only; but,
when you emigrate from the mortal body, as one day you must, then you will
have to help yourself without the body, and therefore it is needful that
you be prudent and care in time for your proper self. "What should it
profit a man if he gained the whole world and yet suffered damage in his
But, even granted that doubts, raised in the course of time against the
tenets of the Christian faith, have long since robbed you of faith in the
immortality of your spirit, you have nevertheless left one tenet
undisturbed, and still ingenuously adhere to the one truth, that the spirit
is your better part, and that the spiritual has greater claims on you than
anything else. Despite all your atheism, in zeal against egoism you concur
with the believers in immortality.
But whom do you think of under the name of egoist? A man who, instead of
living to an idea, that is, a spiritual thing, and sacrificing to it his
personal advantage, serves the latter. A good patriot brings his sacrifice
to the altar of the fatherland; but it cannot be disputed that the
fatherland is an idea, since for beasts incapable of mind,13 or children as
yet without mind, there is no fatherland and no patriotism. Now, if any one
does not approve himself as a good patriot, he betrays his egoism with
reference to the fatherland. And so the matter stands in innumerable other
cases: he who in human society takes the benefit of a prerogative sins
egoistically against the idea of equality; he who exercises dominion is
blamed as an egoist against the idea of liberty, and so on.
You despise the egoist because he puts the spiritual in the background as
compared with the personal, and has his eyes on himself where you would
like to see him act to favour an idea. The distinction between you is that
he makes himself the central point, but you the spirit; or that you cut
your identity in two and exalt your "proper self," the spirit, to be ruler
of the paltrier remainder, while he will hear nothing of this cutting in
two, and pursues spiritual and material interests just as he pleases. You
think, to be sure, that you are falling foul of those only who enter into
no spiritual interest at all, but in fact you curse at everybody who does
not look on the spiritual interest as his "true and highest" interest. You
carry your knightly service for this beauty so far that you affirm her to
be the only beauty of the world. You live not to yourself, but to your
spirit and to what is the spirit's, that is, ideas.
As the spirit exists only in its creating of the spiritual, let us take a
look about us for its first creation. If only it has accomplished this,
there follows thenceforth a natural propagation of creations, as according
to the myth only the first human beings needed to be created, the rest of
the race propagating of itself. The first creation, on the other hand, must
come forth "out of nothing" Q the spirit has toward its realization nothing
but itself, or rather it has not yet even itself, but must create itself;
hence its first creation is itself, the spirit. Mystical as this sounds, we
yet go through it as an every-day experience. Are you a thinking being
before you think? In creating the first thought you create yourself, the
thinking one; for you do not think before you think a thought, or have a
thought. Is it not your singing that first makes you a singer, your talking
that makes you a talker? Now, so too it is the production of the spiritual
that first makes you a spirit.
Meantime, as you distinguish yourself from the thinker, singer, and talker,
so you no less distinguish yourself from the spirit, and feel very clearly
that you are something beside spirit. But, as in the thinking ego hearing
and sight easily vanish in the enthusiasm of thought, so you also have been
seized by the spirit-enthusiasm, and you now long with all your might to
become wholly spirit and to be dissolved in spirit. The spirit is your
ideal, the unattained, the other-worldly; spirit is the name of your Q god,
"God is spirit."
Against all that is not spirit you are a zealot, and therefore you play the
zealot against yourself who cannot get rid of a remainder of the
non-spiritual. Instead of saying, "I am more than spirit," you say with
contrition, "I am less than spirit; and spirit, pure spirit, or the spirit
that is nothing but spirit, I can only think of, but am not; and, since I
am not it, it is another, exists as another, whom I call 'God'."
It lies in the nature of the case that the spirit that is to exist as pure
spirit must be an otherworldly one, for, since I am not it, it follows that
it can only be outside me; since in any case a human being is not fully
comprehended in the concept "spirit," it follows that the pure spirit, the
spirit as such, can only be outside of men, beyond the human world Q not
earthly, but heavenly.
Only from this disunion in which I and the spirit lie; only because "I" and
"spirit" are not names for one and the same thing, but different names for
completely different things; only because I am not spirit and spirit not I
Q only from this do we get a quite tautological explanation of the
necessity that the spirit dwells in the other world, that is, is God.
But from this it also appears how thoroughly theological is the liberation
that Feuerbach14 is labouring to give us. What he says is that we had only
mistaken our own essence, and therefore looked for it in the other world,
but that now, when we see that God was only our human essence, we must
recognize it again as ours and move it back out of the other world into
this. To God, who is spirit, Feuerbach gives the name "Our Essence." Can we
put up with this, that "Our Essence" is brought into opposition to us Q
that we are split into an essential and an unessential self? Do we not
therewith go back into the dreary misery of seeing ourselves banished out
of ourselves?
What have we gained, then, when for a variation we have transferred into
ourselves the divine outside us? Are we that which is in us? As little as
we are that which is outside us. I am as little my heart as I am my
sweetheart, this "other self" of mine. Just because we are not the spirit
that dwells in us, just for that reason we had to take it and set it
outside us; it was not we, did not coincide with us, and therefore we
could, not think of it as existing otherwise than outside us, on the other
side from us, in the other world.
With the strength of despair Feuerbach clutches at the total substance of
Christianity, not to throw it away, no, to drag it to himself, to draw it,
the long-yearned-for, ever-distant, out of its heaven with a last effort,
and keep it by him forever. Is not that a clutch of the uttermost despair,
a clutch for life or death, and is it not at the same time the Christian
yearning and hungering for the other world? The hero wants not to go into
the other world, but to draw the other world to him, and compel it to
become this world! And since then has not all the world, with more or less
consciousness, been crying that "this world" is the vital point, and heaven
must come down on earth and be experienced even here?
Let us, in brief, set Feuerbach's theological view and our contradiction
over against each other! "The essence of man is man's supreme being;15 now
by religion, to be sure, the supreme being is called God and regarded as an
objective essence, but in truth it is only man's own essence; and therefore
the turning point of the world's history is that henceforth no longer God,
but man, is to appear to man as God.''16
To this we reply: The supreme being is indeed the essence of man, but, just
because it is his essence and not he himself, it remains quite immaterial
whether we see it outside him and view it as "God," or find it in him and
call it "Essence of Man" or "Man."    I am neither God nor Man,17 neither
the supreme essence nor my essence, and therefore it is all one in the main
whether I think of the essence as in me or outside me. Nay, we really do
always think of the supreme being as in both kinds of otherworldliness, the
inward and outward, at once; for the "Spirit of God" is, according to the
Christian view, also "our spirit," and "dwells in us.''18 It dwells in
heaven and dwells in us; we poor things are just its "dwelling," and, if
Feuerbach goes on to destroy its heavenly dwelling and force it to move to
us bag and baggage, then we, its earthly apartments, will be badly
But after this digression (which, if we were at all proposing to work by
line and level, we should have had to save for later pages in order to
avoid repetition) we return to the spirit's first creation, the spirit
The spirit is something other than myself. But this other, what is it?

2. - The Possessed

Have you ever seen a spirit? "No, not I, but my grandmother." Now, you see,
it's just so with me too; I myself haven't seen any, but my grandmother had
them running between her feet all sorts of ways, and out of confidence in
our grandmothers' honesty we believe in the existence of spirits.
But had we no grandfathers then, and did they not shrug their shoulders
every time our grandmothers told about their ghosts? Yes, those were
unbelieving men who have harmed our good religion much, those rationalists!
We shall feel that! What else lies at the bottom of this warm faith in
ghosts, if not the faith in "the existence of spiritual beings in general,"
and is not this latter itself disastrously unsettled if saucy men of the
understanding may disturb the former? The Romanticists were quite conscious
what a blow the very belief in God suffered by the laying aside of the
belief in spirits or ghosts, and they tried to help us out of the baleful
consequences not only by their reawakened fairy world, but at last, and
especially, by the "intrusion of a higher world," by their somnambulists of
Prevorst,19 etc. The good believers and fathers of the church did not
suspect that with the belief in ghosts the foundation of religion was
withdrawn, and that since then it had been floating in the air. He who no
longer believes in any ghost needs only to travel on consistently in his
unbelief to see that there is no separate being at all concealed behind
things, no ghost or Q what is naively reckoned as synonymous even in our
use of words Q no "spirit."
"Spirits exist!" Look about in the world, and say for yourself whether a
spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything. Out of the lovely little
flower there speaks to you the spirit of the Creator, who has shaped it so
wonderfully; the stars proclaim the spirit that established their order;
from the mountain-tops a spirit of sublimity breathes down; out of the
waters a spirit of yearning murmurs up; and Q out of men millions of
spirits speak. The mountains may sink, the flowers fade, the world of stars
fall in ruins, the men die Q what matters the wreck of these visible
bodies? The spirit, the "invisible spirit," abides eternally!
Yes, the whole world is haunted! Only is haunted? Nay, it itself "walks,"
it is uncanny through and through, it is the wandering seeming-body of a
spirit, it is a spook. What else should a ghost be, then, than an apparent
body, but real spirit? Well, the world is "empty," is "naught," is only
glamorous "semblance"; its truth is the spirit alone; it is the
seeming-body of a spirit.
Look out near or far, a ghostly world surrounds you everywhere; you are
always having "apparitions" or visions. Everything that appears to you is
only the phantasm of an indwelling spirit, is a ghostly "apparition"; the
world is to you only a "world of appearances," behind which the spirit
walks. You "see spirits."
Are you perchance thinking of comparing yourself with the ancients, who saw
gods everywhere? Gods, my dear modern, are not spirits; gods do not degrade
the world to a semblance, and do not spiritualize it.
But to you the whole world is spiritualized, and has become an enigmatical
ghost; therefore do not wonder if you likewise find in yourself nothing but
a spook. Is not your body haunted by your spirit, and is not the latter
alone the true and real, the former only the "transitory, naught" or a
"semblance"? Are we not all ghosts, uncanny beings that wait for
"deliverance" Q to wit, "spirits"?
Since the spirit appeared in the world, since "the Word became flesh,"
since then the world has been spiritualized, enchanted, a spook.
You have spirit, for you have thoughts. What are your thoughts? "Spiritual
entities." Not things, then? "No, but the spirit of things, the main point
in all things, the inmost in them, their Q idea." Consequently what you
think is not only your thought? "On the contrary, it is that in the world
which is most real, that which is properly to be called true; it is the
truth itself; if I only think truly, I think the truth. I may, to be sure,
err with regard to the truth, and fail to recognize it; but, if I recognize
truly, the object of my cognition is the truth." So, I suppose, you strive
at all times to recognize the truth? "To me the truth is sacred. It may
well happen that I find a truth incomplete and replace it with a better,
but the truth I cannot abrogate. I believe in the truth, therefore I search
in it; nothing transcends it, it is eternal."
Sacred, eternal is the truth; it is the Sacred, the Eternal. But you, who
let yourself be filled and led by this sacred thing, are yourself hallowed.
Further, the sacred is not for your senses Q and you never as a sensual man
discover its trace Q but for your faith, or, more definitely still, for
your spirit; for it itself, you know, is a spiritual thing, a spirit Q is
spirit for the spirit.
The sacred is by no means so easily to be set aside as many at present
affirm, who no longer take this "unsuitable" word into their mouths. If
even in a single respect I am still upbraided as an "egoist," there is left
the thought of something else which I should serve more than myself, and
which must be to me more important than everything; in short, somewhat in
which I should have to seek my true welfare,20 something Q ''sacred.''21
However human this sacred thing may look, though it be the Human itself,
that does not take away its sacredness, but at most changes it from an
unearthly to an earthly sacred thing, from a divine one to a human.
Sacred things exist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge himself,
the involuntary egoist, for him who is always looking after his own and yet
does not count himself as the highest being, who serves only himself and at
the same time always thinks he is serving a higher being, who knows nothing
higher than himself and yet is infatuated about something higher; in short,
for the egoist who would like not to be an egoist, and abases himself
(combats his egoism), but at the same time abases himself only for the sake
of "being exalted," and therefore of gratifying his egoism. Because he
would like to cease to be an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for
higher beings to serve and sacrifice himself to; but, however much he
shakes and disciplines himself, in the end he does all for his own sake,
and the disreputable egoism will not come off him. On this account I call
him the involuntary egoist.
His toil and care to get away from himself is nothing but the misunderstood
impulse to self-dissolution. If you are bound to your past hour, if you
must babble today because you babbled yesterday,22 if you cannot transform
yourself each instant, you feel yourself fettered to slavery and benumbed.
Therefore over each minute of your existence a fresh minute of the future
beckons to you, and, developing yourself, you get away "from yourself,"
that is, from the self that was at that moment. As you are at each instant,
you are your own creature, and in this very "creature" you do not wish to
lose yourself, the creator. You are yourself a higher being than you are,
and surpass yourself. But that you are the one who is higher than you, that
is, that you are not only creature, but likewise your creator Q just this,
as an involuntary egoist, you fail to recognize; and therefore the "higher
essence" is to you Q an alien23 essence. Every higher essence, such as
truth, mankind, and so on, is an essence over us.
Alienness is a criterion of the "sacred." In everything sacred there lies
something "uncanny," strange,24 such as we are not quite familiar and at
home in. What is sacred to me is not my own; and if, for instance, the
property of others was not sacred to me, I should look on it as mine, which
I should take to myself when occasion offered. Or, on the other side, if I
regard the face of the Chinese emperor as sacred, it remains strange to my
eye, which I close at its appearance.
Why is an incontrovertible mathematical truth, which might even be called
eternal according to the common understanding of words, not Q sacred?
Because it is not revealed, or not the revelation of, a higher being. If by
revealed we understand only the so-called religious truths, we go far
astray, and entirely fail to recognize the breadth of the concept "higher
being." Atheists keep up their scoffing at the higher being, which was also
honoured under the name of the "highest" or tre suprme, and trample in
the dust one "proof of his existence" after another, without noticing that
they themselves, out of need for a higher being, only annihilate the old to
make room for a new. Is "Man" perchance not a higher essence than an
individual man, and must not the truths, rights, and ideas which result
from the concept of him be honoured and Q counted sacred, as revelations of
this very concept? For, even though we should abrogate again many a truth
that seemed to be made manifest by this concept, yet this would only evince
a misunderstanding on our part, without in the least degree harming the
sacred concept itself or taking their sacredness from those truths that
must "rightly" be looked upon as its revelations. Man reaches beyond every
individual man, and yet Q though he be "his essence" Q is not in fact his
essence (which rather would be as single25 as he the individual himself),
but a general and "higher," yes, for atheists "the highest essence."26 And,
as the divine revelations were not written down by God with his own hand,
but made public through "the Lord's instruments," so also the new highest
essence does not write out its revelations itself, but lets them come to
our knowledge through "true men." Only the new essence betrays, in fact, a
more spiritual style of conception than the old God, because the latter was
still represented in a sort of embodiedness or form, while the undimmed
spirituality of the new is retained, and no special material body is
fancied for it. And withal it does not lack corporeity, which even takes on
a yet more seductive appearance because it looks more natural and mundane
and consists in nothing less than in every bodily man Q yes, or outright in
"humanity" or "all men." Thereby the spectralness of the spirit in a
seemingbody has once again become really solid and popular.
Sacred, then, is the highest essence and everything in which this highest
essence reveals or will reveal itself; but hallowed are they who recognize
this highest essence together with its own, together with its revelations.
The sacred hallows in turn its reverer, who by his worship becomes himself
a saint, as Likewise what he does is saintly, a saintly walk, saintly
thoughts and actions, imaginations and aspirations.
It is easily understood that the conflict over what is revered as the
highest essence can be significant only so long as even the most embittered
opponents concede to each other the main point Q that there is a highest
essence to which worship or service is due. If one should smile
compassionately at the whole struggle over a highest essence, as a
Christian might at the war of words between a Shiite and a Sunnite or
between a Brahman and a Buddhist,27 then the hypothesis of a highest
essence would be null in his eyes, and the conflict on this basis an idle
play. Whether then the one God or the three in one. whether the Lutheran
God or the tre suprme or not God at all, but "Man," may represent the
highest essence, that makes no difference at all for him who denies the
highest essence itself, for in his eyes those servants of a highest essence
are one and all Q pious people, the most raging atheist not less than the
most faith-filled Christian.
In the foremost place of the sacred,28 then, stands the highest essence and
the faith in this essence, our "holy29 faith."

The spook

With ghosts we arrive in the spirit-realm, in the realm of essences.
What haunts the universe, and has its occult, "incomprehensible" being
there, is precisely the mysterious spook that we call highest essence. And
to get to the bottom of this spook, to comprehend it, to discover reality
in it (to prove "the existence of God") Q this task men set to themselves
for thousands of years; with the horrible impossibility, the endless
Danaid-labour,30 of transforming the spook into a non-spook, the unreal
into something real, the spirit into an entire and corporeal person Q with
this they tormented themselves to death. Behind the existing world they
sought the "thing in itself," the essence; behind the thing they sought the
When one looks to the bottom of anything, searches out its essence, one
often discovers something quite other than what it seems to be; honeyed
speech and a lying heart, pompous words and beggarly thoughts, and so on.
By bringing the essence into prominence one degrades the hitherto
misapprehended appearance to a bare semblance, a deception. The essence of
the world, so attractive and splendid, is for him who looks to the bottom
of it Q emptiness; emptiness is = world's essence (world's doings). Now, he
who is religious does not occupy himself with the deceitful semblance, with
the empty appearances, but looks upon the essence, and in the essence has Q
the truth.
The essences which are deduced from some appearances are the evil essences,
and conversely from others the good. The essence of human feeling, for
instance, is love; the essence of human will is the good; that of one's
thinking, the true, and so on.
What at first passed for existence, such as the world and its like, appears
now as bare semblance, and the truly existent is much rather the essence,
whose realm is filled with gods, spirits, demons, with good or bad
essences. Only this inverted world, the world of essences, truly exists
now. The human heart may be loveless, but its essence exists, God, "who is
love"; human thought may wander in error, but its essence, truth, exists;
"God is truth," and the like.
To know and acknowledge essences alone and nothing but essences, that is
religion; its realm is a realm of essences, spooks, and ghosts.
The longing to make the spook comprehensible, or to realize non-sense, has
brought about a corporeal ghost, a ghost or spirit with a real body, an
embodied ghost. How the strongest and most talented Christians have
tortured themselves to get a conception of this ghostly apparition! But
there always remained the contradiction of two natures, the divine and
human, the ghostly and sensual; there remained the most wondrous spook, a
thing that was not a thing. Never yet was a ghost more soul torturing, and
no shaman, who pricks himself to raving fury and nerve-lacerating cramps to
conjure a ghost, can endure such soul-torment as Christians suffered from
that most incomprehensible ghost.
But through Christ the truth of the matter had at the same time come to
light, that the veritable spirit or ghost is Q man. The corporeal or
embodied spirit is just man; he himself is the ghostly being and at the
same time the being's appearance and existence. Henceforth man no longer,
in typical cases, shudders at ghosts outside him, but at himself; he is
terrified at himself. In the depth of his breast dwells the spirit of sin;
even the faintest thought (and this is itself a spirit, you know) may be a
devil, etc. Q The ghost has put on a body, God has become man, but now man
is himself the gruesome spook which he seeks to get back of, to exorcise,
to fathom, to bring to reality and to speech; man is Q spirit. What matter
if the body wither, if only the spirit is saved? Everything rests on the
spirit, and the spirit's or "soul's" welfare becomes the exclusive goal.
Man has become to himself a ghost, an uncanny spook, to which there is even
assigned a distinct seat in the body (dispute over the seat of the soul,
whether in the head, etc.).
You are not to me, and I am not to you, a higher essence. Nevertheless a
higher essence may be hidden in each of us, and call forth a mutual
reverence. To take at once the most general, Man lives in you and me. If I
did not see Man in you, what occasion should I have to respect you? To be
sure, you are not Man and his true and adequate form, but only a mortal
veil of his, from which he can withdraw without himself ceasing; but yet
for the present this general and higher essence is housed in you, and you
present before me (because an imperishable spirit has in you assumed a
perishable body, so that really your form is only an "assumed" one) a
spirit that appears, appears in you, without being bound to your body and
to this particular mode of appearance Q therefore a spook. Hence I do not
regard you as a higher essence but only respect that higher essence which
'"walks" in you; I "respect Man in you." The ancients did not observe
anything of this sort in their slaves, and the higher essence "Man" found
as yet little response. To make up for this, they saw in each other ghosts
of another sort. The People is a higher essence than an individual, and,
like Man or the Spirit of Man, a spirit haunting the individual Q the
Spirit of the People. For this reason they revered this spirit, and only so
far as he served this or else a spirit related to it (as in the Spirit of
the Family) could the individual appear significant; only for the sake of
the higher essence, the People, was consideration allowed to the "member of
the people." As you are hallowed to us by "Man" who haunts you, so at every
time men have been hallowed by some higher essence or other, like People,
Family, and such. Only for the sake of a higher essence has any one been
honoured from of old, only as a ghost has he been regarded in the light of
a hallowed, a protected and recognized person. If I cherish you because I
hold you dear, because in you my heart finds nourishment, my need
satisfaction, then it is not done for the sake of a higher essence, whose
hallowed body you are, not on account of my beholding in you a ghost, an
appearing spirit, but from egoistic pleasure; you yourself with your
essence are valuable to me, for your essence is not a higher one, is not
higher and more general than you, is unique31 like you yourself, because it
is you.
But it is not only man that "haunts"; so does everything. The higher
essence, the spirit, that walks in everything, is at the same time bound to
nothing, and only Q "appears" in it. Ghosts in every corner!
Here would be the place to pass the haunting spirits in review, if they
were not to come before us again further on in order to vanish before
egoism. Hence let only a few of them be particularized by way of example,
in order to bring us at once to our attitude toward them.
Sacred above all is the "holy Spirit," sacred the truth, sacred are right,
law, a good cause, majesty, marriage, the common good, order, the
fatherland, and so on.

Wheels in the Head

Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head! You imagine great
things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods that has an existence
for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose yourself to be called, an
ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed idea!
Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I regard those
persons who cling to the Higher, and (because the vast majority belongs
under this head) almost the whole world of men, as veritable fools, fools
in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a "fixed idea"? An idea
that has subjected the man to itself. When you recognize, with regard to
such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut its slave up in an asylum.
And is the truth of the faith, say, which we are not to doubt; the majesty
of the people, which we are not to strike at (he who does is guilty of Q
lese-majesty); virtue, against which the censor is not to let a word pass,
that morality may be kept pure; Q are these not "fixed ideas"? Is not all
the stupid chatter of most of our newspapers the babble of fools who suffer
from the fixed idea of morality, legality, Christianity, and so forth, and
only seem to go about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in
so broad a space? Touch the fixed idea of such a fool, and you will at once
have to guard your back against the lunatic's stealthy malice. For these
great lunatics are like the little so-called lunatics in this point too Q
that they assail by stealth him who touches their fixed idea. They first
steal his weapon, steal free speech from him, and then they fall upon him
with their nails. Every day now lays bare the cowardice and vindictiveness
of these maniacs, and the stupid populace hurrahs for their crazy measures.
One must read the journals of this period, and must hear the Philistines32
talk, to get the horrible conviction that one is shut up in a house with
fools. "Thou shalt not call thy brother a fool; if thou dost Q etc." But I
do not fear the curse, and I say, my brothers are arch-fools. Whether a
poor fool of the insane asylum is possessed by the fancy that he is God the
Father, Emperor of Japan, the Holy Spirit, or whatnot, or whether a citizen
in comfortable circumstances conceives that it is his mission to be a good
Christian, a faithful Protestant, a loyal citizen, a virtuous man Q both
these are one and the same "fixed idea." He who has never tried and dared
not to be a good Christian, a faithful Protestant, a virtuous man, and the
like, is possessed and prepossessed33 by faith, virtuousness, etc. Just as
the schoolmen philosophized only inside the belief of the church; as Pope
Benedict XIV34 wrote fat books inside the papist superstition, without ever
throwing a doubt upon this belief; as authors fill whole folios on the
State without calling in question the fixed idea of the State itself; as
our newspapers are crammed with politics because they are conjured into the
fancy that man was created to be a zoon politicon Q so also subjects
vegetate in subjection, virtuous people in virtue, liberals in humanity,
without ever putting to these fixed ideas of theirs the searching knife of
criticism. Undislodgeable, like a madman's delusion, those thoughts stand
on a firm footing, and he who doubts them Q lays hands on the sacred! Yes,
the "fixed idea," that is the truly sacred!
Is it perchance only people possessed by the devil that meet us, or do we
as often come upon people possessed in the contrary way Q possessed by "the
good," by virtue, morality, the law, or some "principle" or other?
Possessions of the devil are not the only ones. God works on us, and the
devil does; the former "workings of grace," the latter "workings of the
devil." Possessed35 people are set36 in their opinions.
If the word "possession" displeases you, then call it prepossession; yes,
since the spirit possesses you, and all "inspirations" come from it, call
it Q inspiration and enthusiasm. I add that complete enthusiasm Q for we
cannot stop with the sluggish, half-way kind Q is called fanaticism.
It is precisely among cultured people that fanaticism is at home; for man
is cultured so far as he takes an interest in spiritual things, and
interest in spiritual things, when it is alive, is and must be fanaticism;
it is a fanatical interest in the sacred (fanum). Observe our liberals,
look into the S
"Holbach's company constituted a regular plot against the traditional
doctrine and the existing system, and its members were as fanatical on
behalf of their unbelief as monks and priests, Jesuits and Pietists,
Methodists, missionary and Bible societies, commonly are for mechanical
worship and orthodoxy."
Take notice how a "moral man" behaves, who today often thinks he is through
with God and throws off Christianity as a bygone thing. If you ask him
whether he has ever doubted that the copulation of brother and sister is
incest, that monogamy is the truth of marriage, that filial piety is a
sacred duty, then a moral shudder will come over him at the conception of
one's being allowed to touch his sister as wife also. And whence this
shudder? Because he believes in those moral commandments. This moral faith
is deeply rooted in his breast. Much as he rages against the pious
Christians, he himself has nevertheless as thoroughly remained a Christian
Q to wit, a moral Christian. In the form of morality Christianity holds him
a prisoner, and a prisoner under faith. Monogamy is to be something sacred,
and he who may live in bigamy is punished as a criminal; he who commits
incest suffers as a criminal. Those who are always crying that religion is
not to be regarded in the State, and the Jew is to be a citizen equally
with the Christian, show themselves in accord with this. Is not this of
incest and monogamy a dogma of faith? Touch it, and you will learn by
experience how this moral man is a hero of faith too, not less than
Krummacher,39 not less than Philip II.40 These fight for the faith of the
Church, he for the faith of the State, or the moral laws of the State; for
articles of faith, both condemn him who acts otherwise than their faith
will allow. The brand of "crime" is stamped upon him, and he may languish
in reformatories, in jails. Moral faith is as fanatical as religious faith!
They call that "liberty of faith" then, when brother and sister, on account
of a relation that they should have settled with their "conscience," are
thrown into prison. "But they set a pernicious example." Yes, indeed:
others might have taken the notion that the State had no business to meddle
with their relation, and thereupon "purity of morals" would go to ruin. So
then the religious heroes of faith are zealous for the "sacred God," the
moral ones for the "sacred good."
Those who are zealous for something sacred often look very little like each
other. How the strictly orthodox or old-style believers differ from the
fighters for "truth, light, and justice," from the Philalethes, the Friends
of Light, the Rationalists, and others. And yet, how utterly unessential is
this difference! If one buffets single traditional truths (miracles,
unlimited power of princes), then the Rationalists buffet them too, and
only the old-style believers wail. But, if one buffets truth itself, he
immediately has both, as believers, for opponents. So with moralities; the
strict believers are relentless, the clearer heads are more tolerant. But
he who attacks morality itself gets both to deal with. "Truth, morality,
justice, light, etc.," are to be and remain "sacred." What any one finds to
censure in Christianity is simply supposed to be "unchristian" according to
the view of these rationalists, but Christianity must remain a "fixture,"
to buffet it is outrageous, "an outrage." To be sure, the heretic against
pure faith no longer exposes himself to the earlier fury of persecution,
but so much the more does it now fall upon the heretic against pure morals.
*	*	*
Piety has for a century received so many blows, and had to hear its
superhuman essence reviled as an "inhuman" one so often, that one cannot
feel tempted to draw the sword against it again. And yet it has almost
always been only moral opponents that have appeared in the arena, to assail
the supreme essence in favour of Q another supreme essence. So Proudhon,
unabashed, says:41 "Man is destined to live without religion, but the moral
law is eternal and absolute. Who would dare today to attack morality?"
Moral people skimmed off the best fat from religion, ate it themselves, and
are now having a tough job to get rid of the resulting scrofula. If,
therefore, we point out that religion has not by any means been hurt in its
inmost part so long as people reproach it only with its superhuman essence,
and that it takes its final appeal to the "spirit" alone (for God is
spirit), then we have sufficiently indicated its final accord with
morality, and can leave its stubborn conflict with the latter Iying behind
us. It is a question of a supreme essence with both, and whether this is a
superhuman or a human one can make (since it is in any case an essence over
me, a super-mine one, so to speak) but little difference to me. In the end
the relation to the human essence, or to "Man," as soon as ever it has shed
the snake-skin of the old religion, will yet wear a religious snake-skin
So Feuerbach instructs us that, "if one only inverts speculative
philosophy, always makes the predicate the subject, and so makes the
subject the object and principle, one has the undraped truth, pure and
clean."42 Herewith, to be sure, we lost the narrow religious stand-point,
lost the God, who from this stand-point is subject; but we take in exchange
for it the other side of the religious stand-point, the moral stand-point.
Thus we no longer say "God is love," but "Love is divine." If we further
put in place of the predicate "divine" the equivalent "sacred," then, as
far as concerns the sense, all the old comes back-again. According to this,
love is to be the good in man, his divineness, that which does him honour,
his true humanity (it "makes him Man for the first time," makes for the
first time a man out of him). So then it would be more accurately worded
thus: Love is what is human in man, and what is inhuman is the loveless
egoist. But precisely all that which Christianity and with it speculative
philosophy (i.e., theology) offers as the good, the absolute, is to
self-ownership simply not the good (or, what means the same, it is only the
good). Consequently, by the transformation of the predicate into the
subject, the Christian essence (and it is the predicate that contains the
essence, you know) would only be fixed yet more oppressively. God and the
divine would entwine themselves all the more inextricably with me. To expel
God from his heaven and to rob him of his "transcendence" cannot yet
support a claim of complete victory, if therein he is only chased into the
human breast and gifted with indelible immanence. Now they say, "The divine
is the truly human!"
The same people who oppose Christianity as the basis of the State, who
oppose the so-called Christian State, do not tire of repeating that
morality is "the fundamental pillar of social life and of the State." As if
the dominion of morality were not a complete dominion of the sacred, a
So we may here mention by the way that rationalist movement which, after
theologians had long insisted that only faith was capable of grasping
religious truths, that only to believers did God reveal himself, and that
therefore only the heart, the feelings, the believing fancy was religious,
broke out with the assertion that the "natural understanding," human
reason, was also capable of discerning God. What does that mean but that
the reason laid claim to be the same visionary as the fancy?43 In this
sense Reimarus44wrote his Most Notable Truths of Natural Religion. It had
to come to this Q that the whole man with all his faculties was found to be
religious; heart and affections, understanding and reason, feeling,
knowledge, and will Q in short, everything in man Q appeared religious.
Hegel has shown that even philosophy is religious. And what is not called
religion today? The "religion of love," the "religion of freedom,"
"political religion" Q in short, every enthusiasm. So it is, too, in fact.
To this day we use the Romance word "religion," which expresses the concept
of a condition of being bound. To be sure, we remain bound, so far as
religion takes possession of our inward parts; but is the mind also bound?
On the contrary, that is free, is sole lord, is not our mind, but absolute.
Therefore the correct affirmative translation of the word religion would be
"freedom of mind" ! In whomsoever the mind is free, he is religious in just
the same way as he in whom the senses have free course is called a sensual
man. The mind binds the former, the desires the latter. Religion,
therefore, is boundness or religio with reference to me Q I am bound; it is
freedom with reference to the mind Q the mind is free, or has freedom of
mind. Many know from experience how hard it is on us when the desires run
away with us, free and unbridled; but that the free mind, splendid
intellectuality, enthusiasm for intellectual interests, or however this
jewel may in the most various phrase be named, brings us into yet more
grievous straits than even the wildest impropriety, people will not
perceive; nor can they perceive it without being consciously egoists.
Reimarus, and all who have shown that our reason, our heart, etc., also
lead to God, have therewithal shown that we are possessed through and
through. To be sure, they vexed the theologians, from whom they took away
the prerogative of religious exaltation; but for religion, for freedom of
mind, they thereby conquered yet more ground. For, when the mind is no
longer limited to feeling or faith, but also, as understanding, reason, and
thought in general, belongs to itself the mind Q when therefore, it may
take part in the spiritual45 and heavenly truths in the form of
understanding, as well as in its other forms Q then the whole mind is
occupied only with spiritual things, that is, with itself, and is therefore
free. Now we are so through-and-through religious that "jurors," "sworn
men," condemn us to death, and every policeman, as a good Christian, takes
us to the lock-up by virtue of an "oath of office."
Morality could not come into opposition with piety till after the time when
in general the boisterous hate of everything that looked like an "order"
(decrees, commandments, etc.) spoke out in revolt, and the personal
"absolute lord" was scoffed at and persecuted; consequently it could arrive
at independence only through liberalism, whose first form acquired
significance in the world's history as "citizenship," and weakened the
specifically religious powers (see "Liberalism" below). For, when morality
not merely goes alongside of piety, but stands on feet of its own, then its
principle lies no longer in the divine commandments, but in the law of
reason, from which the commandments, so far as they are still to remain
valid, must first await justification for their validity. In the law of
reason man determines himself out of himself, for "Man" is rational, and
out of the "essence of Man" those laws follow of necessity. Piety and
morality part company in this Q that the former makes God the law-giver,
the latter Man.
>From a certain stand-point of morality people reason about as follows:
Either man is led by his sensuality, and is, following it, immoral, or he
is led by the good, which, taken up into the will, is called moral
sentiment (sentiment and prepossession in favour of the good); then he
shows himself moral. From this point of view how, for instance, can Sand's
act against Kotzebue be called immoral?46 What is commonly understood by
unselfish it certainly was, in the same measure as (among other things) St.
Crispin's47 thieveries in favour of the poor. "He should not have murdered,
for it stands written, Thou shalt not murder!" Then to serve the good, the
welfare of the people, as Sand at least intended, or the welfare of the
poor, like Crispin Q is moral; but murder and theft are immoral; the
purpose moral, the means immoral. Why? "Because murder, assassination, is
something absolutely bad." When the Guerrillas48 enticed the enemies of the
country into ravines and shot them down unseen from the bushes, do you
suppose that was assassination? According to the principle of morality,
which commands us to serve the good, you could really ask only whether
murder could never in any case be a realization of the good, and would have
to endorse that murder which realized the good. You cannot condemn Sand's
deed at all; it was moral, because in the service of the good, because
unselfish; it was an act of punishment, which the individual inflicted, an
Q execution inflicted at the risk of the executioner's life. What else had
his scheme been, after all, but that he wanted to suppress writings by
brute force? Are you not acquainted with the same procedure as a "legal"
and sanctioned one? And what can be objected against it from your principle
of morality? Q "But it was an illegal execution." So the immoral thing in
it was the illegality, the disobedience to law? Then you admit that the
good is nothing else than Q law, morality nothing else than loyalty. And to
this externality of "loyalty" your morality must sink, to this
righteousness of works in the fulfilment of the law, only that the latter
is at once more tyrannical and more revolting than the old-time
righteousness of works. For in the latter only the act is needed, but you
require the disposition too; one must carry in himself the law, the
statute; and he who is most legally disposed is the most moral. Even the
last vestige of cheerfulness in Catholic life must perish in this
Protestant legality. Here at last the domination of the law is for the
first time complete. "Not I live, but the law lives in me."$ Thus I have
really come so far to be only the "vessel of its glory." "Every Prussian
carries his gendarme in his breast," says a high Prussian officer.
Why do certain opposition parties fail to flourish? Solely for the reason
that they refuse to forsake the path of morality or legality. Hence the
measureless hypocrisy of devotion, love, etc., from whose repulsiveness one
may daily get the most thorough nausea at this rotten and hypocritical
relation of a "lawful opposition." Q In the moral relation of love and
fidelity a divided or opposed will cannot have place; the beautiful
relation is disturbed if the one wills this and the other the reverse. But
now, according to the practice hitherto and the old prejudice of the
opposition, the moral relation is to be preserved above all. What is then
left to the opposition? Perhaps the will to have a liberty, if the beloved
one sees fit to deny it? Not a bit! It may not will to have the freedom, it
can only wish for it, "petition" for it, lisp a "Please, please!" What
would come of it, if the opposition really willed, willed with the full
energy of the will? No, it must renounce will in order to live to love,
renounce liberty Q for love of morality. It may never "claim as a right"
what it is permitted only to. "beg as a favour." Love, devotion. etc.,
demand with undeviating definiteness that there be only one will to which
the others devote themselves, which they serve, follow, love. Whether this
will is regarded as reasonable or as unreasonable, in both cases one acts
morally when one follows it, and immorally when one breaks away from it.
The will that commands the censorship seems to many unreasonable; but he
who in a land of censorship evades the censoring of his book acts
immorally, and he who submits it to the censorship acts morally. If some
one let his moral judgment go, and set up a secret press, one would have to
call him immoral, and imprudent in the bargain if he let himself be caught;
but will such a man lay claim to a value in the eyes of the "moral"?
Perhaps! Q That is, if he fancied he was serving a "higher morality."
The web of the hypocrisy of today hangs on the frontiers of two domains,
between which our time swings back and forth, attaching its fine threads of
deception and self-deception. No longer vigorous enough to serve morality
without doubt or weakening, not yet reckless enough to live wholly to
egoism, it trembles now toward the one and now toward the other in the
spider-web of hypocrisy, and, crippled by the curse of halfness, catches
only miserable, stupid flies. If one has once dared to make a "free"
motion, immediately one waters it again with assurances of love, and Q
shams resignation; if, on the other side, they have had the face to reject
the free motion with moral appeals to confidence, immediately the moral
courage also sinks, and they assure one how they hear the free words with
special pleasure; they - sham approval. In short, people would like to have
the one, but not go without the other; they would like to have a free will,
but not for their lives lack the moral will. Just come in contact with a
servile loyalist, you Liberals.49 You will sweeten every word of freedom
with a look of the most loyal confidence, and he will clothe his servilism
in the most flattering phrases of freedom. Then you go apart, and he, like
you, thinks "I know you, fox!" He scents the devil in you as much as you do
the dark old Lord God in him.
A Nero is a "bad" man only in the eyes of the "good"; in mine he is nothing
but a possessed man, as are the good too. The good see in him an
arch-villain, and relegate him to hell. Why did nothing hinder him in his
arbitrary course? Why did people put up with so much? Do you suppose the
tame Romans, who let all their will be bound by such a tyrant, were a hair
the better? In old Rome they would have put him to death instantly, would
never have been his slaves. But the contemporary "good" among the Romans
opposed to him only moral demands, not their will; they sighed that their
emperor did not do homage to morality, like them; they themselves remained
"moral subjects," till at last one found courage to give up "moral,
obedient subjection." And then the same "good Romans" who, as "obedient
subjects," had borne all the ignominy of having no will, hurrahed over the
nefarious, immoral act of the rebel. Where then in the "good" was the
courage for the revolution, that courage which they now praised, after
another had mustered it up? The good could not have this courage, for a
revolution, and an insurrection into the bargain, is always something
"immoral," which one can resolve upon only when one ceases to be "good" and
becomes either "bad" or Q neither of the two. Nero was no viler than his
time, in which one could only be one of the two, good or bad. The judgment
of his time on him had to be that he was bad, and this in the highest
degree: not a milksop, but an arch-scoundrel. All moral people can
pronounce only this judgment on him. Rascals such as he was are still
living here and there today (see for example the Memoirs of Ritter von
Lang50) in the midst of the moral. It is not convenient to live among them
certainly, as one is not sure of his life for a moment; but can you say
that it is more convenient to live among the moral? One is just as little
sure of his life there, only that one is hanged "in the way of justice,"
but least of all is one sure of his honour, and the national cockade is
gone before you can say Jack Robinson. The hard fist of morality treats the
noble nature of egoism altogether without compassion.
"But surely one cannot put a rascal and an honest man on the same level!"
Now, no human being does that oftener than you judges of morals; yes, still
more than that, you imprison as a criminal an honest man who speaks openly
against the existing constitution, against the hallowed institutions, and
you entrust portfolios and still more important things to a crafty rascal.
So in praxi you have nothing to reproach me with. "But in theory!" Now
there I do put both on the same level, as two opposite poles Q to wit, both
on the level of the moral law. Both have meaning only in the "moral world,
just as in the pre-Christian time a Jew who kept the law and one who broke
it had meaning and significance only in respect to the Jewish law; before
Jesus Christ, on the contrary, the Pharisee was no more than the "sinner
and publican." So before self-ownership the moral Pharisee amounts to as
much as the immoral sinner.
Nero became very inconvenient by his possessedness. But a self-owning man
would not sillily oppose to him the "sacred," and whine if the tyrant does
not regard the sacred; he would oppose to him his will. How often the
sacredness of the inalienable rights of man has been held up to their foes,
and some liberty or other shown and demonstrated to be a "sacred right of
man!" Those who do that deserve to be laughed out of court Q as they
actually are Q were it not that in truth they do, even though
unconsciously, take the road that leads to the goal. They have a
presentiment that, if only the majority is once won for that liberty, it
will also will the liberty, and will then take what it will have. The
sacredness of the liberty, and all possible proofs of this sacredness, will
never procure it; lamenting and petitioning only shows beggars.
The moral man is necessarily narrow in that he knows no other enemy than
the "immoral" man. "He who is not moral is immoral!" and accordingly
reprobate, despicable, etc. Therefore the moral man can never comprehend
the egoist. Is not unwedded cohabitation an immorality? The moral man may
turn as he pleases, he will have to stand by this verdict; Emilia Galotti51
gave up her life for this moral truth. And it is true, it is an immorality.
A virtuous girl may become an old maid; a virtuous man may pass the time in
fighting his natural impulses till he has perhaps dulled them, he may
castrate himself for the sake of virtue as St. Origen52 did for the sake of
heaven: he thereby honours sacred wedlock, sacred chastity, as inviolable;
he is Q moral. Unchastity can never become a moral act. However indulgently
the moral man may judge and excuse him who committed it, it remains a
transgression, a sin against a moral commandment; there clings to it an
indelible stain. As chastity once belonged to the monastic vow, so it does
to moral conduct. Chastity is a Q good. Q For the egoist, on the contrary,
even chastity is not a good without which he could not get along; he cares
nothing at all about it. What now follows from this for the judgment of the
moral man? This: that he throws the egoist into the only class of men that
he knows besides moral men, into that of tho - immoral. He cannot do
otherwise; he must find the egoist immoral in everything in which the
egoist disregards morality. If he did not find him so, then he would
already have become an apostate from morality without confessing it to
himself, he would already no longer be a truly moral man. One should not
let himself be led astray by such phenomena, which at the present day are
certainly no longer to be classed as rare, but should reflect that he who
yields any point of morality can as little be counted among the truly moral
as Lessing was a pious Christian when, in the well-known parable, he
compared the Christian religion, as well as the Mohammedan and Jewish, to a
"counterfeit ring." Often people are already further than they venture to
confess to themselves. For Socrates, because in culture he stood on the
level of morality, it would have been an immorality if he had been willing
to follow Crito's seductive incitement and escape from the dungeon; to
remain was the only moral thing. But it was solely because Socrates was Q a
moral man. The "unprincipled, sacrilegious" men of the Revolution, on the
contrary, had sworn fidelity to Louis XVI,53 and decreed his deposition,
yes, his death; but the act was an immoral one, at which moral persons will
be horrified to all eternity.
Yet all this applies, more or less, only to "civic morality," on which the
freer look down with contempt. For it (like civism, its native ground, in
general) is still too little removed and free from the religious heaven not
to transplant the latter's laws without criticism or further consideration
to its domain instead of producing independent doctrines of its own.
Morality cuts a quite different figure when it arrives at the consciousness
of its dignity, and raises its principle, the essence of man, or "Man," to
be the only regulative power. Those who have worked their way through to
such a decided consciousness break entirely with religion, whose God no
longer finds any place alongside their "Man," and, as they (see below)
themselves scuttle the ship of State, so too they crumble away that
"morality" which flourishes only in the State, and logically have no right
to use even its name any further. For what this "critical" party calls
morality is very positively distinguished from the so-called "civic or
political morality," and must appear to the citizen like an "insensate and
unbridled liberty." But at bottom it has only the advantage of the "purity
of the principle," which, freed from its defilement with the religious, has
now reached universal power in its clarified definiteness as ''humanity.''
Therefore one should not wonder that the name "morality" is retained along
with others, like freedom, benevolence, self-consciousness, and is only
garnished now and then with the addition, a "free" morality - just as,
though the civic State is abused, yet the State is to arise again as a
"free State," or, if not even so, yet as a "free society."
Because this morality completed into humanity has fully settled its
accounts with the religion out of which it historically came forth, nothing
hinders it from becoming a religion on its own account. For a distinction
prevails between religion and morality only so long as our dealings with
the world of men are regulated and hallowed by our relation to a superhuman
being, or so long as our doing is a doing "for God's sake." If, on the
other hand, it comes to the point that "man is to man the supreme being,"
then that distinction vanishes, and morality, being removed from its
subordinate position, is completed into Q religion. For then the higher
being who had hitherto been subordinated to the highest, Man, has ascended
to absolute height, and we are related to him as one is related to the
highest being, religiously. Morality and piety are now as synonymous as in
the beginning of Christianity, and it is only because the supreme being has
come to be a different one that a holy walk is no longer called a "holy"
one, but a "human" one. If morality has conquered, then a complete Q change
of masters has taken place.
After the annihilation of faith Feuerbach thinks to put in to the
supposedly safe harbour of love. "The first and highest law must be the
love of man to man. Homo homini Deus est Q this is the supreme practical
maxim, this is the turning point of the world's history."54 But, properly
speaking, only the god is changed Q the deus; love has remained: there love
to the superhuman God, here love to the human God, to homo as Deus.
Therefore man is to me Q sacred. And everything "truly human" is to me Q
sacred! "Marriage is sacred of itself. And so it is with all moral
relations. Friendship is and must be sacred for you, and property, and
marriage, and the good of every man, but sacred in and of itself. "55
Haven't we the priest again there? Who is his God? Man with a great M! What
is the divine? The human! Then the predicate has indeed only been changed
into the subject, and, instead of the sentence "God is love," they say
"love is divine"; instead of "God has become man," "Man has become God,"
etc. It is nothing more or less than a new Q religion. "All moral relations
are ethical, are cultivated with a moral mind, only where of themselves
(without religious consecration by the priest's blessing) they are counted
religious." Feuerbach's proposition, "Theology is anthropology," means only
"religion must be ethics, ethics alone is religion."
Altogether Feuerbach accomplishes only a transposition of subject and
predicate, a giving of preference to the latter. But, since he himself
says, "Love is not (and has never been considered by men) sacred through
being a predicate of God, but it is a predicate of God because it is divine
in and of itself," he might judge that the fight against the predicates
themselves, against love and all sanctities, must be commenced. How could
he hope to turn men away from God when he left them the divine? And if, as
Feuerbach says, God himself has never been the main thing to them, but only
his predicates, then he might have gone on leaving them the tinsel longer
yet, since the doll, the real kernel, was left at any rate. He recognizes,
too, that with him it is "only a matter of annihilating an illusion";56 he
thinks, however, that the effect of the illusion on men is "downright
ruinous, since even love, in itself the truest, most inward sentiment,
becomes an obscure, illusory one through religiousness, since religious
love loves man57 only for God's sake, therefore loves man only apparently,
but in truth God only." Is this different with moral love? Does it love the
man, this man for this man's sake, or for morality's sake, and so Q for
homo homini Deus Q for God's sake?

The wheels in the head have a number of other formal aspects, some of which
it may be useful to indicate here.
Thus self-renunciation is common to the holy with the unholy, to the pure
and the impure. The impure man renounces all "better feelings," all shame,
even natural timidity, and follows only the appetite that rules him. The
pure man renounces his natural relation to the world ("renounces the
world") and follows only the "desire" which rules him. Driven by the thirst
for money, the avaricious man renounces all admonitions of conscience, all
feeling of honour, all gentleness and all compassion; he puts all
considerations out of sight; the appetite drags him along. The holy man
behaves similarly. He makes himself the "laughing-stock of the world," is
hard-hearted and "strictly just"; for the desire drags him along. As the
unholy man renounces himself before Mammon, so the holy man renounces
himself before God and the divine laws. We are now living in a time when
the shamelessness of the holy is every day more and more felt and
uncovered, whereby it is at the same time compelled to unveil itself, and
lay itself bare, more and more every day. Have not the shamelessness and
stupidity of the reasons with which men antagonize the "progress of the
age" long surpassed all measure and all expectation? But it must be so. The
self-renouncers must, as holy men, take the same course that they do so as
unholy men; as the latter little by little sink to the fullest measure of
self-renouncing vulgarity and lowness, so the former must ascend to the
most dishonourable exaltation. The mammon of the earth and the God of
heaven both demand exactly the same degree of Q self-renunciation. The low
man, like the exalted one, reaches out for a "good" Q the former for the
material good, the latter for the ideal, the so-called "supreme good"; and
at last both complete each other again too, as the "materially-minded" man
sacrifices everything to an ideal phantasm, his vanity, and the
"spirituallyminded" man to a material gratification, the life of enjoyment.
Those who exhort men to "unselfishness"58 think they are saying an uncommon
deal. What do they understand by it? Probably something like what they
understand by "self-renunciation." But who is this self that is to be
renounced and to have no benefit? It seems that you yourself are supposed
to be it. And for whose benefit is unselfish self-renunciation recommended
to you? Again for your benefit and behoof, only that through unselfishness
you are procuring your "true benefit."
You are to benefit yourself, and yet you are not to seek your benefit.
People regard as unselfish the benefactor of men, a Francke59 who founded
the orphan asylum, an O'Connell60 who works tirelessly for his Irish
people; but also the fanatic who, like St. Boniface,61 hazards his life for
the conversion of the heathen, or, like Robespierre,"62 sacrifices
everything to virtue - like Krner,63 dies for God, king, and fatherland.
Hence, among others, O'Connell's opponents try to trump up against him some
selfishness or mercenariness, for which the O'Connell fund seemed to give
them a foundation; for, if they were successful in casting suspicion on his
"unselfishness," they would easily separate him from his adherents.
Yet what could they show further than that O'Connell was working for
another end than the ostensible one? But, whether he may aim at making
money or at liberating the people, it still remains certain, in one case as
in the other, that he is striving for an end, and that his end; selfishness
here as there, only that his national self-interest would be beneficial to
others too, and so would be for the common interest.
Now, do you suppose unselfishness is unreal and nowhere extant? On the
contrary, nothing is more ordinary! One may even call it an article of
fashion in the civilized world, which is considered so indispensable that,
if it costs too much in solid material, people at least adorn themselves
with its tinsel counterfeit and feign it. Where does unselfishness begin?
Right where an end ceases to be our end and our property, which we, as
owners, can dispose of at pleasure; where it becomes a fixed end or a Q
fixed idea; where it begins to inspire, enthuse, fantasize us; in short,
where it passes into our stubbornness and becomes our Q master. One is not
unselfish so long as he retains the end in his power; one becomes so only
at that "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise," the fundamental maxim of all
the possessed; one becomes so in the case of a sacred end, through the
corresponding sacred zeal.
I am not unselfish so long as the end remains my own, and I, instead of
giving myself up to be the blind means of its fulfilment, leave it always
an open question. My zeal need not on that account be slacker than the most
fanatical, but at the same time I remain toward it frostily cold,
unbelieving, and its most irreconcilable enemy; I remain its judge, because
I am its owner.
Unselfishness grows rank as far as possessedness reaches, as much on
possessions of the devil as on those of a good spirit; there vice, folly,
and the like; here humility, devotion, and so forth.
Where could one look without meeting victims of self-renunciation? There
sits a girl opposite me, who perhaps has been making bloody sacrifices to
her soul for ten years already. Over the buxom form droops a deathly-tired
head, and pale cheeks betray the slow bleeding away of her youth. Poor
child, how often the passions may have beaten at your heart, and the rich
powers of youth have demanded their right! When your head rolled in the
soft pillow, how awakening nature quivered through your limbs, the blood
swelled your veins, and fiery fancies poured the gleam of voluptuousness
into your eyes! Then appeared the ghost of the soul and its eternal bliss.
You were terrified, your hands folded themselves, your tormented eyes
turned their look upward, you Q prayed. The storms of nature were hushed, a
calm glided over the ocean of your appetites. Slowly the weary eyelids sank
over the life extinguished under them, the tension crept out unperceived
from the rounded limbs, the boisterous waves dried up in the heart, the
folded hands themselves rested a powerless weight on the unresisting bosom,
one last faint "Oh dear!" moaned itself away, and Q the soul was at rest.
You fell asleep, to awake in the morning to a new combat and a new Q
prayer. Now the habit of renunciation cools the heat of your desire, and
the roses of your youth are growing pale in the Q chlorosis of your
heavenliness. The soul is saved, the body may perish! O Lais, O Ninon,64
how well you did to scorn this pale virtue! One free grisette against a
thousand virgins grown gray in virtue!
The fixed idea may also be perceived as "maxim," "principle,"
"stand-point," and the like. Archimedes, to move the earth, asked for a stan
d-point outside it. Men sought continually for this stand-point, and every
one seized upon it as well as he was able. This foreign stand-point is the
world of mind, of ideas, thoughts, concepts, essences; it is heaven. Heaven
is the "stand-point" from which the earth is moved, earthly doings surveyed
and Q despised. To assure to themselves heaven, to occupy the heavenly
stand-point firmly and for ever Q how painfully and tirelessly humanity
struggled for this!
Christianity has aimed to deliver us from a life determined by nature, from
the appetites as actuating us, and so has meant that man should not let
himself be determined by his appetites. This does not involve the idea that
he was not to have appetites, but that the appetites were not to have him,
that they were not to become fixed, uncontrollable, indissoluble. Now,
could not what Christianity (religion) contrived against the appetites be
applied by us to its own precept that mind (thought, conceptions, ideas,
faith) must determine us; could we not ask that neither should mind, or the
conception, the idea, be allowed to determine us, to become fixed and
inviolable or "sacred"? Then it would end in the dissolution of mind, the
dissolution of all thoughts, of all conceptions. As we there had to say,
"We are indeed to have appetites, but the appetites are not to have us," so
we should now say, "We are indeed to have mind, but mind is not to have
us." If the latter seems lacking in sense, think of the fact that with so
many a man a thought becomes a "maxim," whereby he himself is made prisoner
to it, so that it is not he that has the maxim, but rather it that has him.
And with the maxim he has a "permanent stand-point" again. The doctrines of
the catechism become our principles before we find it out, and no longer
brook rejection. Their thought, or Q mind, has the sole power, and no
protest of the "flesh" is further listened to. Nevertheless it is only
through the "flesh" that I can break tyranny of mind; for it is only when a
man hears his flesh along with the rest of him that he hears himself
wholly, and it is only when he wholly hears himself that he is a hearing or
rational65 being. The Christian does not hear the agony of his enthralled
nature, but lives in "humility"; therefore he does not grumble at the wrong
which befalls his person; he thinks himself satisfied with the "freedom of
the spirit." But, if the flesh once takes the floor, and its tone is
"passionate," "indecorous," "not well-disposed," "spiteful" (as it cannot
be otherwise), then he thinks he hears voices of devils, voices against the
spirit (for decorum, passionlessness, kindly disposition, and the like, is
Q spirit), and is justly zealous against them. He could not be a Christian
if he were willing to endure them. He listens only to morality, and slaps
unmorality in the mouth; he listens only to legality, and gags the lawless
word. The spirit of morality and legality holds him a prisoner; a rigid,
unbending master. They call that the "mastery of the spirit" Q it is at the
same time the stand-point of the spirit.
And now whom do the ordinary liberal gentlemen mean to make free? Whose
freedom is it that they cry out and thirst for? The spirit's! That of the
spirit of morality, legality, piety, the fear of God. That is what the
anti-liberal gentlemen also want, and the whole contention between the two
turns on a matter of advantage - whether the latter are to be the only
speakers, or the former are to receive a "share in the enjoyment of the
same advantage." The spirit remains the absolute lord for both, and their
only quarrel is over who shall occupy the hierarchical throne that pertains
to the "Viceregent of the Lord." The best of it is that one can calmly look
upon the stir with the certainty that the wild beasts of history will tear
each other to pieces just like those of nature; their putrefying corpses
fertilize the ground for Q our crops.
We shall come back later to many another wheel in the head Q for instance,
those of vocation, truthfulness, love, and the like.

When one's own is contrasted with what is imparted to him, there is no use
in objecting that we cannot have anything isolated, but receive everything
as a part of the universal order, and therefore through the impression of
what is around us, and that consequently we have it as something
"imparted"; for there is a great difference between the feelings and
thoughts which are aroused in me by other things and those which are given
to me. God, immortality, freedom, humanity, are drilled into us from
childhood as thoughts and feelings which move our inner being more or less
strongly, either ruling us without our knowing it, or sometimes in richer
natures manifesting themselves in systems and works of art; but are always
not aroused, but imparted, feelings, because we must believe in them and
cling to them. That an Absolute existed, and that it must be taken in,
felt, and thought by us, was settled as a faith in the minds of those who
spent all the strength of their mind on recognizing it and setting it
forth. The feeling for the Absolute exists there as an imparted one, and
thenceforth results only in the most manifold revelations of its own self.
So in Klopstock66 the religious feeling was an imparted one, which in the
Messias simply found artistic expression. If, on the other hand, the
religion with which he was confronted had been for him only an incitation
to feeling and thought, and if he had known how to take an attitude
completely his own toward it, then there would have resulted, instead of
religious inspiration, a dissolution and consumption of the religion
itself. Instead of that, he only continued in mature years his childish
feelings received in childhood, and squandered the powers of his manhood in
decking out his childish trines.
The difference is, then, whether feelings are imparted to me or only
aroused. Those which are aroused are my own, egoistic, because they are not
as feelings drilled into me, dictated to me, and pressed upon me; but those
which are imparted to me I receive, with open arms Q I cherish them in me
as a heritage, cultivate them, and am possessed by them. Who is there that
has never, more or less consciously, noticed that our whole education is
calculated to produce feelings in us, impart them to us, instead of leaving
their production to ourselves however they may turn out? If we hear the
name of God, we are to feel veneration; if we hear that of the prince's
majesty, it is to be received with reverence, deference, submission; if we
hear that of morality, we are to think that we hear something inviolable;
if we hear of the Evil One or evil ones, we are to shudder. The intention
is directed to these feelings, and he who should hear with pleasure the
deeds of the "bad" would have to be "taught what's what" with the rod of
discipline. Thus stuffed with imparted feelings, we appear before the bar
of majority and are "pronounced of age." Our equipment consists of
"elevating feelings, lofty thoughts, inspiring maxims, eternal principles."
The young are of age when they twitter like the old; they are driven
through school to learn the old song, and, when they have this by heart,
they are declared of age.
We must not feel at every thing and every name that comes before us what we
could and would like to feel thereat; at the name of God we must think of
nothing laughable, feel nothing disrespectful, it being prescribed and
imparted to us what and how we are to feel and think at mention of that
That is the meaning of the care of souls Q that my soul or my mind be tuned
as others think right, not as I myself would like it. How much trouble does
it not cost one, finally to secure to oneself a feeling of one's own at the
mention of at least this or that name, and to laugh in the face of many who
expect from us a holy face and a composed expression at their speeches.
What is imparted is alien to us, is not our own, and therefore is "sacred,"
and it is hard work to lay aside the "sacred dread of it."
Today one again hears "seriousness" praised, "seriousness in the presence
of highly important subjects and discussions," "German seriousness," and so
on. This sort of seriousness proclaims clearly how old and grave lunacy and
possession have already become. For there is nothing more serious than a
lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy; then his great
earnestness incapacitates him for taking a joke. (See madhouses.)

3. - The Hierarchy

The historical reflections on our Mongolism which I propose to insert
episodically at this place are not given with the claim of thoroughness, or
even of approved soundness, but solely because it seems to me that they may
contribute toward making the rest clear.
The history of the world, whose shaping properly belongs altogether to the
Caucasian race, seems till now to have run through two Caucasian ages, in
the first of which we had to work out and work off our innate negroidity;
this was followed in the second by Mongoloidity (Chineseness), which must
likewise be terribly made an end of. Negroidity represents antiquity, the
time of dependence on things (on cocks' eating, birds' flight, on sneezing,
on thunder and lightning, on the rustling of sacred trees, and so forth);
Mongoloidity the time of dependence on thoughts, the Christian time.
Reserved for the future are the words, "I am the owner of the world of
things, I am the owner of the world of mind."
In the negroid age fall the campaigns of Sesostris67 and the importance of
Egypt and of northern Africa in general. To the Mongoloid age belong the
invasions of the Huns and Mongols, up to the Russians.
The value of me cannot possibly be rated high so long as the hard diamond
of the not-me bears so enormous a price as was the case both with God and
with the world. The not-me is still too stony and indomitable to be
consumed and absorbed by me; rather, men only creep about with
extraordinary bustle on this immovable entity, on this substance, like
parasitic animals on a body from whose juices they draw nourishment, yet
without consuming it. It is the bustle of vermin, the assiduity of
Mongolians. Among the Chinese, we know, everything remains as it used to
be, and nothing "essential" or "substantial" suffers a change; all the more
actively do they work away at that which remains, which bears the name of
the "old," "ancestors," and the like.
Accordingly, in our Mongolian age all change has been only reformatory or
ameliorative, not destructive or consuming and annihilating. The substance,
the object, remains. All our assiduity was only the activity of ants and
the hopping of fleas, jugglers' tricks on the immovable tight-rope of the
objective, corve-service under the leadership of the unchangeable or
"eternal." The Chinese are doubtless the most positive nation, because
totally buried in precepts; but neither has the Christian age come out from
the positive, from "limited freedom," freedom "within certain limits." In
the most advanced stage of civilization this activity earns the name of
scientific activity, of working on a motionless presupposition, a
hypothesis that is not to be upset.
In its first and most unintelligible form morality shows itself as habit.
To act according to the habit and usage (mores) of one's country - is to be
moral there. Therefore pure moral action, clear, unadulterated morality, is
most straightforwardly practiced in China; they keep to the old habit and
usage, and hate each innovation as a crime worthy of death. For innovation
is the deadly enemy of habit, of the old, of permanence. In fact, too, it
admits of no doubt that through habit man secures himself against the
obtrusiveness of things, of the world, and founds a world of his own in
which alone he is and feels at home, builds himself a heaven. Why, heaven
has no other meaning than that it is man's proper home, in which nothing
alien regulates and rules him any longer, no influence of the earthly any
longer makes him himself alien; in short, in which the dross of the earthly
is thrown off, and the combat against the world has found an end Q in
which, therefore, nothing is any longer denied him. Heaven is the end of
abnegation, it is free enjoyment. There man no longer denies himself
anything, because nothing is any longer alien and hostile to him. But now
habit is a "second nature," which detaches and frees man from his first and
original natural condition, in securing him against every casualty of it.
The fully elaborated habit of the Chinese has provided for all emergencies,
and everything is "looked out for"; whatever may come, the Chinaman always
knows how he has to behave, and does not need to decide first according to
the circumstances; no unforeseen case throws him down from the heaven of
his rest. The morally habituated and inured Chinaman is not surprised and
taken off his guard; he behaves with equanamity (that is, with equal spirit
or temper) toward everything, because his temper, protected by the
precaution of his traditional usage, does not lose its balance. Hence, on
the ladder of culture or civilization humanity mounts the first round
through habit; and, as it conceives that, in climbing to culture, it is at
the same time climbing to heaven, the realm of culture or second nature, it
really mounts the first round of the Q ladder to heaven.
If Mongoldom has settled the existence of spiritual beings Q if it has
created a world of spirits, a heaven Q the Caucasians have wrestled for
thousands of years with these spiritual beings, to get to the bottom of
them. What were they doing, then, but building on Mongolian ground? They
have not built on sand, but in the air; they have wrestled with Mongolism,
stormed the Mongolian heaven, Tien. When will they at last annihilate this
heaven? When will they at last become really Caucasians, and find
themselves? When will the "immortality of the soul," which in these latter
days thought it was giving itself still more security if it presented
itself as "immortality of mind," at last change to the mortality of mind?
It was when, in the industrious struggle of the Mongolian race, men had
built a heaven, that those of the Caucasian race, since in their Mongolian
complexion they have to do with heaven, took upon themselves the opposite
task, the task of storming that heaven of custom, heaven-storming68
activity. To dig under all human ordinance, in order to set up a new and Q
better one on the cleared site, to wreck all customs in order to put new
and Q better customs in their place Q their act is limited to this. But is
it thus already purely and really what it aspires to be, and does it reach
its final aim? No, in this creation of a "better" it is tainted with
Mongolism. It storms heaven only to make a heaven again, it overthrows an
old power only to legitimate a new power, it only Q improves. Nevertheless
the point aimed at, often as it may vanish from the eyes at every new
attempt, is the real, complete downfall of heaven, customs Q in short, of
man secured only against the world, of the isolation or inwardness of man.
Through the heaven of culture man seeks to isolate himself from the world,
to break its hostile power. But this isolation of heaven must likewise be
broken, and the true end of heaven-storming is the Q downfall of heaven,
the annihilation of heaven. Improving and reforming is the Mongolism of the
Caucasian, because thereby he is always getting up again what already
existed Q to wit, a precept, a generality, a heaven. He harbours the most
irreconcilable enmity to heaven, and yet builds new heavens daily; piling
heaven on heaven, he only crushes one by another; the Jews' heaven destroys
the Greeks', the Christians' the Jews', the Protestants' the Catholics'. Q
If the heaven-storming men of Caucasian blood throw off their Mongolian
skin, they will bury the emotional man under the ruins of the monstrous
world of emotion, the isolated man under his isolated world, the
paradisiacal man under his heaven. And heaven is the realm of spirits, the
realm of freedom of the spirit.
The realm of heaven, the realm of spirits and ghosts, has found its right
standing in the speculative philosophy. Here it was stated as the realm of
thoughts, concepts, and ideas; heaven is peopled with thoughts and ideas,
and this "realm of spirits" is then the true reality.
To want to win freedom for the spirit is Mongolism; freedom of the spirit
is Mongolian freedom, freedom of feeling, moral freedom, and so forth.
We may find the word "morality" taken as synonymous with spontaneity,
self-determination. But that is not involved in it; rather has the
Caucasian shown himself spontaneous only in spite of his Mongolian
morality. The Mongolian heaven, or morals,69 remained the strong castle,
and only by storming incessantly at this castle did the Caucasian show
himself moral; if he had not had to do with morals at all any longer, if he
had not had therein his indomitable, continual enemy, the relation to
morals would cease, and consequently morality would cease. That his
spontaneity is still a moral spontaneity, therefore, is just the
Mongoloidity of it Q is a sign that in it he has not arrived at himself.
"Moral spontaneity" corresponds entirely with "religious and orthodox
philosophy," "constitutional monarchy," "the Christian State," "freedom
within certain limits," "the limited freedom of the press," or, in a
figure, to the hero fettered to a sick-bed.
Man has not really vanquished Shamanism and its spooks till he possesses
the strength to lay aside not only the belief in ghosts or in spirits, but
also the belief in the spirit.
He who believes in a spook no more assumes the "introduction of a higher
world" than he who believes in the spirit, and both seek behind the sensual
world a supersensual one; in short, they produce and believe another world,
and this other world, the product of their mind, is a spiritual world; for
their senses grasp and know nothing of another, a non-sensual world, only
their spirit lives in it. Going on from this Mongolian belief in the
existence of spiritual beings to the point that the proper being of man too
is his spirit, and that all care must be directed to this alone, to the
"welfare of his soul," is not hard. Influence on the spirit, so-called
"moral influence," is hereby assured.
Hence it is manifest that Mongolism represents utter absence of any rights
of the sensuous, represents non-sensuousness and unnature, and that sin and
the consciousness of sin was our Mongolian torment that lasted thousands of
But who, then, will dissolve the spirit into its nothing? He who by means
of the spirit set forth nature as the null, finite, transitory, he alone
can bring down the spirit too to like nullity. I can; each one among you
can, who does his will as an absolute I; in a word, the egoist can.

Before the sacred, people lose all sense of power and all confidence; they
occupy a powerless and humble attitude toward it. And yet no thing is
sacred of itself, but by my declaring it sacred, by my declaration, my
judgment, my bending the knee; in short, by my Q conscience.
Sacred is everything which for the egoist is to be unapproachable, not to
be touched, outside his power Q above him; sacred, in a word, is every
matter of conscience, for "this is a matter of conscience to me" means
simply, "I hold this sacred."
For little children, just as for animals, nothing sacred exists, because,
in order to make room for this conception, one must already have progressed
so far in understanding that he can make distinctions like "good and bad,"
"warranted and unwarranted"; only at such a level of reflection or
intelligence Q the proper stand-point of religion Q can unnatural (that is,
brought into existence by thinking) reverence, "sacred dread," step into
the place of natural fear. To this sacred dread belongs holding something
outside oneself for mightier, greater, better warranted, better; the
attitude in which one acknowledges the might of something alien Q not
merely feels it, then, but expressly acknowledges it, admits it, yields,
surrenders, lets himself be tied (devotion, humility, servility,
submission). Here walks the whole ghostly troop of the "Christian virtues."
Everything toward which you cherish any respect or reverence deserves the
name of sacred; you yourselves, too, say that you would feel a "sacred dread
" of laying hands on it. And you give this tinge even to the unholy
(gallows, crime, etc.). You have a horror of touching it. There lies in it
something uncanny, that is, unfamiliar or not your own.
"If something or other did not rank as sacred in a man's mind, why, then
all bars would be let down to self-will, to unlimited subjectivity!" Fear
makes the beginning, and one can make himself fearful to the coarsest man;
already, therefore, a barrier against his insolence. But in fear there
always remains the attempt to liberate oneself from what is feared, by
guile, deception, tricks, etc. In reverence,70 on the contrary, it is quite
otherwise. Here something is not only feared,71 but also honoured:72 what
is feared has become an inward power which I can no longer get clear of; I
honour it, am captivated by it and devoted to it, belong to it; by the
honour which I pay it I am completely in its power, and do not even attempt
liberation any longer. Now I am attached to it with all the strength of
faith; I believe. I and what I fear are one; "not I live, but the respected
lives in me!" Because the spirit, the infinite, does not allow of coming to
any end, therefore it is stationary; it fears dying, it cannot let go its
dear Jesus, the greatness of finiteness is no longer recognized by its
blinded eye; the object of fear, now raised to veneration, may no longer be
handled; reverence is made eternal, the respected is deified. The man is
now no longer employed in creating, but in learning (knowing,
investigating), occupied with a fixed object, losing himself in its depths,
without return to himself. The relation to this object is that of knowing,
fathoming, basing, not that of dissolution (abrogation). "Man is to be
religious," that is settled; therefore people busy themselves only with the
question how this is to be attained, what is the right meaning of
religiousness, etc. Quite otherwise when one makes the axiom itself
doubtful and calls it in question, even though it should go to smash.
Morality too is such a sacred conception; one must be moral, and must look
only for the right "how," the right way to be so. One dares not go at
morality itself with the question whether it is not itself an illusion; it
remains exalted above all doubt, unchangeable. And so we go on with the
sacred, grade after grade, from the "holy" to the "holy of holies." 

Men are sometimes divided into two classes: cultured and uncultured. The
former, so far as they were worthy of their name, occupied themselves with
thoughts, with mind, and (because in the time since Christ, of which the
very principle is thought, they were the ruling ones) demanded a servile
respect for the thoughts recognized by them. State, emperor, church, God,
morality, order, are such thoughts or spirits, that exist only for the
mind. A merely living being, an animal, cares as little for them as a
child. But the uncultured are really nothing but children, and he who
attends only to the necessities of his life is indifferent to those
spirits; but, because he is also weak before them, he succumbs to their
power, and is ruled by Q thoughts. This is the meaning of hierarchy.
Hierarchy is dominion of thoughts, dominion of mind!
We are hierarchic to this day, kept down by those who are supported by
thoughts. Thoughts are the sacred.
But the two are always clashing, now one and now the other giving the
offence; and this clash occurs, not only in the collision of two men, but
in one and the same man. For no cultured man is so cultured as not to find
enjoyment in things too, and so be uncultured; and no uncultured man is
totally without thoughts. In Hegel it comes to light at last what a longing
for things even the most cultured man has, and what a horror of every
"hollow theory" he harbours. With him reality, the world of things, is
altogether to correspond to the thought, and no concept is to be without
reality. This caused Hegel's system to be known as the most objective, as
if in it thought and thing celebrated their union. But this was simply the
extremest case of violence on the part of thought, its highest pitch of
despotism and sole dominion, the triumph of mind, and with it the triumph
of philosophy. Philosophy cannot hereafter achieve anything higher, for its
highest is the omnipotence of mind, the almightiness of mind.73
Spiritual men have taken into their head something that is to be realized.
They have concepts of love, goodness, and the like, which they would like
to see realized; therefore they want to set up a kingdom of love on earth,
in which no one any longer acts from selfishness, but each one "from love."
Love is to rule. What they have taken into their head, what shall we call
it but Q fixed idea? Why, "their head is haunted." The most oppressive
spook is Man. Think of the proverb, "The road to ruin is paved with good
intentions." The intention to realize humanity altogether in oneself, to
become altogether man, is of such ruinous kind; here belong the intentions
to become good, noble, loving, and so forth.
In the sixth part of the Denkwrdigkeiten,''74 p. 7, Bruno Bauer says:
"That middle class, which was to receive such a terrible importance for
modern history, is capable of no self-sacrificing action, no enthusiasm for
an idea, no exaltation; it devotes itself to nothing but the interests of
its mediocrity; i.e. it remains always limited to itself, and conquers at
last only through its bulk, with which it has succeeded in tiring out the
efforts of passion, enthusiasm, consistency Q through its surface, into
which it absorbs a part of the new ideas." And (p. 6) "It has turned the
revolutionary ideas, for which not it, but unselfish or impassioned men
sacrificed themselves, solely to its own profit, has turned spirit into
money. Q That is, to be sure, after it had taken away from those ideas
their point, their consistency, their destructive seriousness, fanatical
against all egoism." These people, then, are not self-sacrificing, not
enthusiastic, not idealistic, not consistent, not zealots; they are egoists
in the usual sense, selfish people, looking out for their advantage, sober,
Who, then, is "self-sacrificing?"75 In the full sense, surely, he who
ventures everything else for one thing, one object, one will, one passion.
Is not the lover self-sacrificing who forsakes father and mother, endures
all dangers and privations, to reach his goal? Or the ambitious man, who
offers up all his desires, wishes, and satisfactions to the single passion,
or the avaricious man who denies himself everything to gather treasures, or
the pleasure-seeker? He is ruled by a passion to which he brings the rest
as sacrifices.
And are these self-sacrificing people perchance not selfish, not egoist? As
they have only one ruling passion, so they provide for only one
satisfaction, but for this the more strenuously, they are wholly absorbed
in it. Their entire activity is egoistic, but it is a one-sided, unopened,
narrow egoism; it is possessedness.
"Why, those are petty passions, by which, on the contrary, man must not let
himself be enthralled. Man must make sacrifices for a great idea, a great
cause!" A "great idea," a "good cause," is, it may be, the honour of God,
for which innumerable people have met death; Christianity, which has found
its willing martyrs; the Holy Catholic Church, which has greedily demanded
sacrifices of heretics; liberty and equality, which were waited on by
bloody guillotines.
He who lives for a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty
calling, may not let any worldly lusts, any self-seeking interest, spring
up in him. Here we have the concept of clericalism, or, as it may also be
called in its pedagogic activity, school-masterliness; for the idealists
play the schoolmaster over us. The clergyman is especially called to live
to the idea and to work for the idea, the truly good cause. Therefore the
people feel how little it befits him to show worldly haughtiness, to desire
good living, to join in such pleasures as dancing and gaming Q in short, to
have any other than a "sacred interest." Hence, too, doubtless, is derived
the scanty salary of teachers, who are to feel themselves repaid by the
sacredness of their calling alone, and to "renounce" other enjoyments.
Even a directory of the sacred ideas, one or more of which man is to look
upon as his calling, is not lacking. Family, fatherland, science, etc., may
find in me a servant faithful to his calling.
Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world, which has not yet
learned to do without clericalism Q that to live and work for an idea is
man's calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfilment his
human worth is measured.
This is the dominion of the idea; in other words, it is clericalism. Thus
Robespierre and St. Just were priests through and through, inspired by the
idea, enthusiasts, consistent instruments of this idea, idealistic men.76
So St. Just exclaims in a speech, "There is something terrible in the
sacred love of country; it is so exclusive that it sacrifices everything to
the public interest without mercy, without fear, without human
consideration. It hurls Manlius down the precipice; it sacrifices its
private inclinations; it leads Regulus to Carthage, throws a Roman into the
chasm, and sets Marat, as a victim of his devotion, in the Pantheon."
Now, over against these representatives of ideal or sacred interests stands
a world of innumerable "personal" profane interests. No idea, no system, no
sacred cause is so great as never to be outrivaled and modified by these
personal interests. Even if they are silent momentarily, and in times of
rage ,and fanaticism, yet they soon come uppermost again through "the sound
sense of the people." Those ideas do not completely conquer till they are
no longer hostile to personal interests, till they satisfy egoism.
The man who is just now crying herrings in front of my window has a
personal interest in good sales, and, if his wife or anybody else wishes
him the like, this remains a personal interest all the same. If, on the
other hand, a thief deprived him of his basket, then there would at once
arise an interest of many, of the whole city, of the whole country, or .in
a word, of all who abhor theft; an interest in which the herring-seller's
person would become indifferent, and in its place the category of the
"robbed man" would come into the foreground. But even here all might yet
resolve itself into a personal interest, each of the partakers reflecting
that he must concur in the punishment of the thief because unpunished
stealing might otherwise become general and cause him too to lose his own.
Such a calculation, however, can hardly be assumed on the part of many, and
we shall rather hear the cry that the thief is a "criminal." Here we have
before us a judgment, the thief's action receiving its expression in the
concept "crime." Now the matter stands thus: even if a crime did not cause
the slightest damage either to me or to any of those in whom I take an
interest, I should nevertheless denounce it. Why? Because I am enthusiastic
for morality, filled with the idea of morality; what is hostile to it I
everywhere assail. Because in his mind theft ranks as abominable without
any question, Proudhon, for instance, thinks that with the sentence
"Property is theft" he has at once put a brand on property. In the sense of
the priestly, theft is always a crime, or at least a misdeed.
Here the personal interest is at an end. This particular person who has
stolen the basket is perfectly indifferent to my person; it is only the
thief, this concept of which that person presents a specimen, that I take
an interest in. The thief and man are in my mind irreconcilable opposites;
for one is not truly man when one is a thief; one degrades Man or
"humanity" in himself when one steals. Dropping out of personal concern,
one gets into philanthropy, friendliness to man, which is usually
misunderstood as if it was a love to men, to each individual, while it is
nothing but a love of Man, the unreal concept, the spook. It is not touz
anqrwpouz, men, but ton anqrwpon, Man, that the philantropist carries in
his heart. To be sure, he cares for each individual, but only because he
wants to see his beloved ideal realized everywhere.
So there is nothing said here of care for me, you, us; that would be
personal interest, and belongs under the head of "worldly love."
Philanthropy is a heavenly, spiritual, a Q priestly love. Man must be
restored in us, even if thereby we poor devils should come to grief. It is
the same priestly principle as that famous fiat justitia, pereat mundus;
man and justice are ideas, ghosts, for love of which everything is
sacrificed; therefore, the priestly spirits are the "self-sacrificing"
He who is infatuated with Man leaves persons out of account so far as that
infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. Man, you see,
is not a person, but an ideal, a spook.
Now, things as different as possible can belong to Man and be so regarded.
If one finds Man's chief requirement in piety, there arises religious
clericalism; if one sees it in morality, then moral clericalism raises its
head. On this account the priestly spirits of our day want to make a
"religion" of everything, a "religion of liberty," "religion of equality,"
etc., and for them every idea becomes a "sacred cause," even citizenship,
politics, publicity, freedom of the press, trial by jury.
Now, what does "unselfishness" mean in this sense? Having only an ideal
interest, before which no respect of persons avails!
The stiff head of the worldly man opposes this, but for centuries has
always been worsted at least so far as to have to bend the unruly neck and
"honour the higher power"; clericalism pressed it down. When the worldly
egoist had shaken off a higher power (such as the Old Testament law, the
Roman pope), then at once a seven times higher one was over him again, such
as faith in the place of the law, the transformation of all laymen into
divines in place of the limited body of clergy, and so on. His experience
was like that of the possessed man into whom seven devils passed when he
thought he had freed himself from one.
In the passage quoted above, all ideality is denied to the middle class. It
certainly schemed against the ideal consistency with which Robespierre
wanted to carry out the principle. The instinct of its interest told it
that this consistency harmonized too little with what its mind was set on,
and that it would be acting against itself if it were willing to further
the enthusiasm for principle. Was it to behave so unselfishly as to abandon
all its aims in order to bring a harsh theory to its triumph? It suits the
priests admirably, to be sure, when people listen to their summons, "Cast
away everything and follow me," or "Sell all that thou hast and give to the
poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Some
decided idealists obey this call; but most act like Ananias and Sapphira,
maintaining a behaviour half clerical or religious and half worldly,
serving God and Mammon.
I do not blame the middle class for not wanting to let its aims be
frustrated by Robespierre, for inquiring of its egoism how far it might
give the revolutionary idea a chance. But one might blame (if blame were in
place here anyhow) those who let their own interests be frustrated by the
interests of the middle class. However, will not they likewise sooner or
later learn to understand what is to their advantage? August Becker says:77
"To win the producers (proletarians) a negation of the traditional
conception of right is by no means enough. Folks unfortunately care little
for the theoretical victory of the idea. One must demonstrate to them ad
oculos how this victory can be practically utilized in life." And (p.32):
"You must get hold of folks by their real interests if you want to work
upon them." Immediately after this he shows how a fine looseness of morals
is already spreading among our peasants, because they prefer to follow
their real interests rather than the commands of morality.
Because the revolutionary priests or schoolmasters served Man, they cut off
the heads of men. The revolutionary laymen, those outside the sacred
circle, did not feel any greater horror of cutting off heads, but were less
anxious about the rights of Man than about their own.
How comes it, though, that the egoism of those who affirm personal
interest, and always inquire of it, is nevertheless forever succumbing to a
priestly or schoolmasterly (that is, an ideal) interest? Their person seems
to them too small, too insignificant Q and is so in fact Q to lay claim to
everything and be able to put itself completely in force. There is a sure
sign of this in their dividing themselves into two persons, an eternal and
a temporal, and always caring either only for the one or only for the
other, on Sunday for the eternal, on the work-day for the temporal, in
prayer for the former, in work for the latter. They have the priest in
themselves, therefore they do not get rid of him, but hear themselves
lectured inwardly every Sunday.
How men have struggled and calculated to get at a solution regarding these
dualistic essences! Idea followed upon idea, principle upon principle,
system upon system, and none knew how to keep down permanently the
contradiction of the "worldly" man, the so-called "egoist." Does not this
prove that all those ideas were too feeble to take up my whole will into
themselves and satisfy it? They were and remained hostile to me, even if
the hostility lay concealed for a considerable time. Will it be the same
with self-ownership? Is it too only an attempt at mediation? Whatever
principle I turned to, it might be to that of reason, I always had to turn
away from it again. Or can I always be rational, arrange my life according
to reason in everything? I can, no doubt, strive after rationality, I can
love it, just as I can also love God and every other idea. I can be a
philosopher, a lover of wisdom, as I love God. But what I love, what I
strive for, is only in my idea, my conception, my thoughts; it is in my
heart, my head, it is in me like the heart, but it is not I, I am not it.
To the activity of priestly minds belongs especially what one often hears
called "moral influence."
Moral influence takes its start where humiliation begins; yes, it is
nothing else than this humiliation itself, the breaking and bending of the
temper78 down to humility.79 If I call to some one to run away when a rock
is to be blasted, I exert no moral influence by this demand; if I say to a
child "You will go hungry if you will not eat what is put on the table,"
this is not moral influence. But, if I say to it, "You will pray, honour
your parents, respect the crucifix, speak the truth, for this belongs to
man and is man's calling," or even "this is God's will," then moral
influence is complete; then a man is to bend before the calling of man, be
tractable, become humble, give up his will for an alien one which is set up
as rule and law; he is to abase himself before something higher:
self-abasement. "He that abaseth himself shall be exalted." Yes, yes,
children must early be made to practice piety, godliness, and propriety; a
person of good breeding is one into whom "good maxims" have been instilled
and impressed, poured in through a funnel, thrashed in and preached in.
If one shrugs his shoulders at this, at once the good wring their hands
despairingly, and cry: "But, for heaven's sake, if one is to give children
no good instruction, why, then they will run straight into the jaws of sin,
and become good-for-nothing hoodlums!'' Gently, you prophets of evil.
Good-for-nothing in your sense they certainly will become; but your sense
happens to be a very good-for-nothing sense. The impudent lads will no
longer let anything be whined and chattered into them by you, and will have
no sympathy for all the follies for which you have been raving and
driveling since the memory of man began; they will abolish the law of
inheritance; they will not be willing to inherit your stupidities as you
inherited them from your fathers; they destroy inherited sin.80 If you
command them, "Bend before the Most High," they will answer: "If he wants
to bend us, let him come himself and do it; we, at least, will not bend of
our own accord." And, if you threaten them with his wrath and his
punishment, they will take it like being threatened with the bogieman. If
you are no more successful in making them afraid of ghosts, then the
dominion of ghosts is at an end, and nurses' tales find no Q faith.
And is it not precisely the liberals again that press for good education
and improvement of the educational system? For how could their liberalism,
their "liberty within the bounds of law," come about without discipline?
Even if they do not exactly educate to the fear of God, yet they demand the
fear of Man all the more strictly, and awaken "enthusiasm for the truly
human calling" by discipline.

A long time passed away, in which people were satisfied with the fancy that
they had the truth, without thinking seriously whether perhaps they
themselves must be true to possess the truth. This time was the Middle
Ages. With the common consciousness Q the consciousness which deals with
things, that consciousness which has receptivity only for things, or for
what is sensuous and sense-moving Q they thought to grasp what did not deal
with things and was not perceptible by the senses. As one does indeed also
exert his eye to see the remote, or laboriously exercise his hand till its
fingers have become dexterous enough to press the keys correctly, so they
chastened themselves in the most manifold ways, in order to become capable
of receiving the supersensual wholly into themselves. But what they
chastened was, after all, only the sensual man, the common consciousness,
so-called finite or objective thought. Yet as this thought, this
understanding, which Luther decries under the name of reason, is incapable
of comprehending the divine, its chastening contributed just as much to the
understanding of the truth as if one exercised the feet year in and year
out in dancing, and hoped that in this way they would finally learn to play
the flute. Luther, with whom the so-called Middle Ages end, was the first
who understood that the man himself must become other than he was if he
wanted to comprehend truth Q must become as true as truth itself. Only he
who already has truth in his belief, only he who believes in it, can become
a partaker of it; only the believer finds it accessible and sounds its
depths. Only that organ of man which is able to blow can attain the further
capacity of flute-playing, and only that man can become a partaker of truth
who has the right organ for it. He who is capable of thinking only what is
sensuous, objective, pertaining to things, figures to himself in truth only
what pertains to things. But truth is spirit, stuff altogether
inappreciable by the senses, and therefore only for the "higher
consciousness," not for that which is "earthly-minded."
With Luther, accordingly, dawns the perception that truth, because it is a
thought, is only for the thinking man. And this is to say that man must
henceforth take an utterly different stand-point, to wit, the heavenly,
believing, scientific stand-point, or that of thought in relation to its
object, the Q thought Q that of mind in relation to mind. Consequently:
only the like apprehend the like. "You are like the spirit that you
Because Protestantism broke the medieval hierarchy, the opinion could take
root that hierarchy in general had been shattered by it, and it could be
wholly overlooked that it was precisely a "reformation," and so a
reinvigoration of the antiquated hierarchy. That medieval hierarchy had
been only a weakly one, as it had to let all possible barbarism of
unsanctified things run on uncoerced beside it, and it was the Reformation
that first steeled the power of hierarchy. If Bruno Bauer thinks:82 "As the
Reformation was mainly the abstract rending of the religious principle from
art, State, and science, and so its liberation from those powers with which
it had joined itself in the antiquity of the church and in the hierarchy of
the Middle Ages, so too the theological and ecclesiastical movements which
proceeded from the Reformation are only the consistent carrying out of this
abstraction of the religious principle from the other powers of humanity,"
I regard precisely the opposite as correct, and think that the dominion of
spirits, or freedom of mind (which comes to the same thing), was never
before so all-embracing and all-powerful, because the present one, instead
of rending the religious principle from art, State, and science, lifted the
latter altogether out of secularity into the "realm of spirit" and made
them religious.
Luther and Descartes have been appropriately put side by side in their "He
who believes in God" and "I think, therefore I am" (cogito, ergo sum).
Man's heaven is thought Q mind. Everything can be wrested from him, except
thought, except faith. Particular faith, like faith of Zeus, Astarte,
Jehovah, Allah, may be destroyed, but faith itself is indestructible. In
thought is freedom. What I need and what I hunger for is no longer granted
to me by any grace, by the Virgin Mary. by intercession of the saints, or
by the binding and loosing church, but I procure it for myself. In short,
my being (the sum) is a living in the heaven of thought, of mind, a
cogitare. But I myself am nothing else than mind, thinking mind (according
to Descartes), believing mind (according to Luther). My body I am not; my
flesh may suffer from appetites or pains. I am not my flesh, but I am mind,
only mind.
This thought runs through the history of the Reformation till today.
Only by the more modern philosophy since Descartes has a serious effort
been made to bring Christianity to complete efficacy, by exalting the
"scientific consciousness.." to be the only true and valid one. Hence it
begins with absolute doubt, dubitare, with grinding common consciousness to
atoms, with turning away from everything that "mind," "thought," does not
legitimate. To it Nature counts for nothing; the opinion of men, their
"human precepts," for nothing: and it does not rest till it has brought
reason into everything, and can say "The real is the rational, and only the
rational is the real." Thus it has at last brought mind, reason, to
victory; and everything is mind, because everything is rational, because
all nature, as well as even the most perverse opinions of men, contains
reason; for "all must serve for the best," that is, lead to the victory of
Descartes's dubitare contains the decided statement that only cogitare,
thought, mind Q is. A complete break with "common" consciousness, which
ascribes reality to irrational things! Only the rational is, only mind is!
This is the principle of modern philosophy, the genuine Christian
principle. Descartes in his own time discriminated the body sharply from
the mind, and "the spirit 'tis that builds itself the body," says Goethe.
But this philosophy itself, Christian philosophy, still does not get rid of
the rational, and therefore inveighs against the "merely subjective,"
against "fancies, fortuities, arbitrariness," etc. What it wants is that
the divine should become visible in everything, and all consciousness
become a knowing of the divine, and man behold God everywhere; but God
never is, without the devil.
For this very reason the name of philosopher is not to be given to him who
has indeed open eyes for the things of the world, a clear and undazzled
gaze, a correct judgment about the world, but who sees in the world just
the world, in objects only objects, and, in short, everything prosaically
as it is; but he alone is a philosopher who sees, and points out or
demonstrates, heaven in the world, the supernal in the earthly, the -
divine in the mundane. The former may be ever so wise, there is no getting
away from this:
	What wise men see not by their wisdom's art 
	Is practiced simply by a childlike heart.83
It takes this childlike heart, this eye for the divine, to make a
philosopher. The first-named man has only a "common" consciousness, but he
who knows the divine, and knows how to tell it, has a "scientific" one. On
this ground Bacon was turned out of the realm of philosophers. And
certainly what is called English philosophy seems to have got no further
than to the discoveries of so-called "clear heads," such as Bacon and Hume.
The English did not know how to exalt the simplicity of the childlike heart
to philosophic significance, did not know how to make Q philosophers out of
childlike hearts. This is as much as to say, their philosophy was not able
to become theological or theology, and yet it is only as theology that it
can really live itself out, complete itself. The field of its battle to the
death is in theology. Bacon did not trouble himself about theological
questions and cardinal points.
Cognition has its object in life. German thought seeks, more than that of
others, to reach the beginnings and fountain-heads of life, and sees no
life till it sees it in cognition itself. Descartes's cogito, ergo sum has
the meaning "One lives only when one thinks." Thinking life is called
"intellectual life"! Only mind lives, its life is the true life. Then, just
so in nature only the "eternal laws," the mind or the reason of nature, are
its true life. In man, as in nature, only the thought lives; everything
else is dead! To this abstraction, to the life of generalities or of that
which is lifeless, the history of mind had to come. God, who is spirit,
alone lives. Nothing lives but the ghost.
How can one try to assert of modern philosophy or modern times that they
have reached freedom, since they have not freed us from the power of
objectivity? Or am I perhaps free from a despot when I am not afraid of the
personal potentate, to be sure, but of every infraction of the loving
reverence which I fancy I owe him? The case is the same with modern times.
They only changed the existing objects, the real ruler, into conceived
objects, into ideas, before which the old respect not only was not lost,
but increased in intensity. Even if people snapped their fingers at God and
the devil in their former crass reality, people devoted only the greater
attention to their ideas. "They are rid of the Evil One; evil is left."84
The decision having once been made not to let oneself be imposed on any
longer by the extant and palpable, little scruple was felt about revolting
against the existing State or overturning the existing laws; but to sin
against the idea of the State, not to submit to the idea of law, who would
have dared that? So one remained a "citizen" and a "law-respecting," loyal
man; yes, one seemed to himself to be only so much more law-respecting, the
more rationalistically one abrogated the former defective law in order to
do homage to the "spirit of the law." In all this the objects had only
suffered a change of form; they had remained in their preponderance and
pre-eminence; in short, one was still involved in obedience and
possessedness, lived in reflection, and had an object on which one
reflected, which one respected, and before which one felt reverence and
fear. One had done nothing but transform the things into conceptions of the
things, into-thoughts and ideas, whereby one's dependence became all the
more intimate and indissoluble. Thus, it is not hard to emancipate oneself
from the commands of parents, or to set aside the admonitions of uncle and
aunt, the entreaties of brother and sister; but the renounced obedience
easily gets into one's conscience, and the less one does give way to the
individual demands, because he rationalistically, by his own reason,
recognizes them to be unreasonable, so much the more conscientiously does
he hold fast to filial piety and family love, and so much the harder is it
for him to forgive himself a trespass against the conception which he has
formed of family love and of filial duty. Released from dependence as
regards the existing family, one falls into the more binding dependence on
the idea of the family; one is ruled by the spirit of the family. The
family consisting of John, Maggie, etc., whose dominion has become
powerless, is only internalized, being left as "family" in general, to
which one just applies the old saying, "We must obey God rather than man,"
whose significance here is this: "I cannot, to be sure, accommodate myself
to your senseless requirements, but, as my 'family,' you still remain the
object of my love and care"; for "the family" is a sacred idea, which the
individual must never offend against. Q And this family internalized and
desensualized into a thought, a conception, now ranks as the "sacred,"
whose despotism is tenfold more grievous because it makes a racket in my
conscience. This despotism is broken when the conception, family, also
becomes a nothing to me The Christian dicta, "Woman, what have I to do with
thee?"85 "I am come to stir up a man against his father, and a daughter
against her mother,"86 and others, are accompanied by something that refers
us to the heavenly or true family, and mean no more than the State's
demand, in case of a collision between it and the family, that we obey its
The case of morality is like that of the family. Many a man renounces
morals, but with great difficulty the conception, "morality." Morality is
the "idea" of morals, their intellectual power, their power over the
conscience; on the other hand, morals are too material to rule the mind,
and do not fetter an "intellectual" man, a so-called independent, a
The Protestant may put it as he will, the "holy87 Scripture," the "Word of
God," still remains sacred88 for him. He for whom this is no longer "holy"
has ceased to Q be a Protestant. But herewith what is "ordained" in it, the
public authorities appointed by God, etc., also remain sacred for him. For
him these things remain indissoluble, unapproachable, "raised above all
doubt"; and, as doubt, which in practice becomes a buffeting, is what is
most man's own, these things remain "raised" above himself. He who cannot
get away from them will Q believe; for to believe in them is to be bound to
them. Through the fact that in Protestantism the faith becomes a more
inward faith, the servitude has also become a more inward servitude; one
has taken those sanctities up into himself, entwined them with all his
thoughts and endeavours, made them a "matter of conscience", constructed
out of them a "sacred duty" for himself. Therefore what the Protestant's
conscience cannot get away from is sacred to him, and conscientiousness
most clearly designates his character.
Protestantism has actually put a man in the position of a country governed
by secret police. The spy and eavesdropper, "conscience," watches over
every motion of the mind, and all thought and action is for it a "matter of
conscience," that is, police business. This tearing apart of man into
"natural impulse" and "conscience" (inner populace and inner police) is
what constitutes the Protestant. The reason of the Bible (in place of the
Catholic "reason of the church") ranks as sacred, and this feeling and
consciousness that the word of the Bible is sacred is called Q conscience.
With this, then, sacredness is "laid upon one's conscience." If one does
not free himself from conscience, the consciousness of the sacred, he may
act unconscientiously indeed, but never consciencelessly.
The Catholic finds himself satisfied when he fulfils the command; the
Protestant acts according to his "best judgment and conscience." For the
Catholic is only a layman; the Protestant is himself a clergyman.89 Just
this is the progress of the Reformation period beyond the Middle Ages, and
at the same time its curse Q that the spiritual became complete.
What else was the Jesuit moral philosophy than a continuation of the sale
of indulgences? Only that the man who was relieved of his burden of sin now
gained also an insight into the remission of sins, and convinced himself
how really his sin was taken from him, since in this or that particular
case (casuists) it was so clearly no sin at all that he committed. The sale
of indulgences had made all sins and transgressions permissible, and
silenced every movement of conscience. All sensuality might hold sway, if
it was only purchased from the church. This favouring of sensuality was
continued by the Jesuits, while the strictly moral, dark, fanatical,
repentant, contrite, praying Protestants (as the true completers of Christia
nity, to be sure) acknowledged only the intellectual and spiritual man.
Catholicism, especially the Jesuits, gave aid to egoism in this way, found
involuntary and unconscious adherents within Protestantism itself, and
saved us from the subversion and extinction of sensuality. Nevertheless the
Protestant spirit spreads its dominion farther and farther; and, as, beside
it the "divine," the Jesuit spirit represents only the "diabolic" which is
inseparable from everything divine, the latter can never assert itself
alone, but must look on and see how in France, for example, the
Philistinism of Protestantism90 wins at last, and mind is on top.
Protestantism is usually complimented on having brought the mundane into
repute again, such as marriage, the State, etc. But the mundane itself as
mundane, the secular, is even more indifferent to it than to Catholicism,
which lets the profane world stand, yes, and relishes its pleasures, while
the rational, consistent Protestant sets about annihilating the mundane
altogether, and that simply by hallowing it. So marriage has been deprived
of its naturalness by becoming sacred, not in the sense of the Catholic
sacrament, where it only receives its consecration from the church and so
is unholy at bottom, but in the sense of being something sacred in itself
to begin with, a sacred relation. Just so the State, also. Formerly the
pope gave consecration and his blessing to it and its princes, now the
State is intrinsically sacred, majesty is sacred without needing the
priest's blessing. The order of nature, or natural law, was altogether
hallowed as "God's ordinance." Hence it is said in the Augsburg
Confession,91 Art. II: "So now we reasonably abide by the saying, as the
jurisconsults have wisely and rightly said: that man and woman should be
with each other is a natural law. Now, if it is a natural law, then it is
God's ordinance, therefore implanted in nature, and therefore a divine law
also." And is it anything more than Protestantism brought up to date, when
Feuerbach pronounces moral relations sacred, not as God's ordinance indeed,
but, instead, for the sake of the spirit that dwells in them? "But marriage
as a free alliance of love, of course Q is sacred of itself, by the nature
of the union that is formed here. That marriage alone is a religious one
that is a true one, that corresponds to the essence of marriage, love. And
so it is with all moral relations. They are ethical, are cultivated with a
moral mind, only where they rank as religious of themselves. True
friendship is only where the limits of friendship are preserved with
religious conscientiousness, with the same conscientiousness with which the
believer guards the dignity of his God. Friendship is and must be sacred
for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of every man, but sacred
in and of itself."92
That is a very essential consideration. In Catholicism the mundane can
indeed be consecrated or hallowed, but it is not sacred without this
priestly blessing; in Protestantism, on the contrary, mundane relations are
sacred of themselves, sacred by their mere existence. The Jesuit maxim,
"the end hallows the means," corresponds precisely to the consecration by
which sanctity is bestowed. No means are holy or unholy in themselves, but
their relation to the church, their use for the church, hallows the means.
Regicide was named as such; if it was committed for the church's behoof, it
could be certain of being hallowed by the church, even if the hallowing was
not openly pronounced. To the Protestant, majesty ranks as sacred; to the
Catholic only that majesty which is consecrated by the pontiff can rank as
such; and it does rank as such to him only because the pope, even though it
be without a special act, confers this sacredness on it once for all. If he
retracted his consecration, the king would be left only a "man of the world
or layman," an "unconsecrated" man, to the Catholic.
If the Protestant seeks to discover a sacredness in the sensual itself,
that he may then be linked only to what is holy, the Catholic strives rather
to banish the sensual from himself into a separate domain, where it, like
the rest of nature, keeps its value for itself. The Catholic church
eliminated mundane marriage from its consecrated order, and withdrew those
who were its own from the mundane family; the Protestant church declared
marriage and family ties to be holy, and therefore not unsuitable for its
A Jesuit may, as a good Catholic, hallow everything. He needs only, for
example, to say to himself: "I as a priest am necessary to the church, but
serve it more zealously when I appease my desires properly; consequently I
will seduce this girl, have my enemy there poisoned, etc.; my end is holy
because it is a priest's, consequently it hallows the means." For in the
end it is still done for the benefit of the church. Why should the Catholic
priest shrink from handing Emperor Henry VII93 the poisoned wafer for the Q
church's welfare?
The genuinely churchly Protestants inveighed against every "innocent
pleasure," because only the sacred, the spiritual, could be innocent. What
they could not point out the holy spirit in, the Protestants had to reject
Q dancing, the theatre, ostentation in the church, and the like.
Compared with this puritanical Calvinism, Lutheranism is again more on the
religious, spiritual, track Q is more radical. For the former excludes at
once a great number of things as sensual and worldly, and purifies the
church; Lutheranism, on the contrary, tries to bring spirit into all things
as far as possible, to recognize the holy spirit as an essence in
everything, and so to hallow everything worldly. ("No one can forbid a kiss
in honour." The spirit of honour hallows it.) Hence it was that the
Lutheran Hegel (he declares himself such in some passage or other: he
"wants to remain a Lutheran") was completely successful in carrying the
idea through everything. In everything there is reason, holy spirit, or
"the real is rational." For the real is in fact everything; as in each
thing, for instance, each lie, the truth can be detected: there is no
absolute lie, no absolute evil, and the like.
Great "works of mind" were created almost solely by Protestants, as they
alone were the true disciples and consummators of mind.

How little man is able to control! He must let the sun run its course, the
sea roll its waves, the mountains rise to heaven. Thus he stands powerless
before the uncontrollable. Can he keep off the impression that he is
helpless against this gigantic world? It is a fixed law to which he must
submit, it determines his fate. Now, what did pre-Christian humanity work
toward? Toward getting rid of the irruptions of the destinies, not letting
oneself be vexed by them. The Stoics attained this in apathy, declaring the
attacks of nature indifferent, and not letting themselves be affected by
them. Horace utters the famous Nil admirari, by which he likewise announces
the indifference of the other, the world; it is not to influence us, not to
rouse our astonishment. And that impavidum ferient ruinae expresses the
very same imperturbability as Ps. 46.3: "We do not fear, though the earth
should perish." In all this there is room made for the Christian
proposition that the world is empty, for the Christian contempt of the
The imperturbable spirit of "the wise man," with which the old world worked
to prepare its end, now underwent an inner perturbation against which no
ataraxia, no Stoic courage, was able to protect it. The spirit, secured
against all influence of the world, insensible to its shocks and exalted
above its attacks, admiring nothing, not to be disconcerted by any downfall
of the world Q foamed over irrepressibly again, because gases (spirits)
were evolved in its own interior, and, after the mechanical shock that
comes from without had become ineffective, chemical tensions, that agitate
within, began their wonderful play.
In fact, ancient history ends with this Q that I have struggled till I won
my ownership of the world. "All things have been delivered to me by my
Father" (Matt. 11.27). It has ceased to be overpowering, unapproachable,
sacred, divine, for me; it is undeified, and now I treat it so entirely as
I please that, if I cared, I could exert on it all miracle-working power,
that is, power of mind Q remove mountains, command mulberry trees to tear
themselves up and transplant themselves into the sea (Luke 17.6), and do
everything possible, thinkable: "All things are possible to him who
believes."94 I am the lord of the world, mine is the "glory."95 The world
has become prosaic, for the divine has vanished from it: it is my property,
which I dispose of as I (to wit, the mind) choose.
When I had exalted myself to be the owner of the world, egoism had won its
first complete victory, had vanquished the world, had become worldless, and
put the acquisitions of a long age under lock and key.
The first property, the first "glory," has been acquired!
But the lord of the world is not yet lord of his thoughts, his feelings,
his will: he is not lord and owner of the spirit, for the spirit is still
sacred, the "Holy Spirit," and the "worldless" Christian is not able to
become "godless." If the ancient struggle was a struggle against the world,
the medieval (Christian) struggle is a struggle against self, the mind; the
former against the outer world, the latter against the inner world. The
medieval man is the man "whose gaze is turned inward," the thinking,
All wisdom of the ancients is the science of the world, all wisdom of the
moderns is the science of God.
The heathen (Jews included) got through with the world; but now the thing
was to get through with self, the spirit, too; to become spiritless or
For almost two thousand years we have been working at subjecting the Holy
Spirit to ourselves, and little by little we have torn off and trodden
under foot many bits of sacredness; but the gigantic opponent is constantly
rising anew under a changed form and name. The spirit has not yet lost its
divinity, its holiness, its sacredness. To be sure, it has long ceased to
flutter over our heads as a dove; to be sure, it no longer gladdens its
saints alone, but lets itself be caught by the laity too; but as spirit of
humanity, as spirit of Man, it remains still an alien spirit to me or you,
still far from becoming our unrestricted property, which we dispose of at
our pleasure. However, one thing certainly happened, and visibly guided the
progress of post-Christian history: this one thing was the endeavour to
make the Holy Spirit more human, and bring it nearer to men, or men to it.
Through this it came about that at last it could be conceived as the
"spirit of humanity," and, under different expressions like "idea of
humanity, mankind, humaneness, general philanthropy," appeared more
attractive, more familiar, and more accessible.
Would not one think that now everybody could possess the Holy Spirit, take
up into himself the idea of humanity, bring mankind to form and existence
in himself?
No, the spirit is not stripped of its holiness and robbed of its
unapproachableness, is not accessible to us, not our property; for the
spirit of humanity is not my spirit. My ideal it may be, and as a thought I
call it mine; the thought of humanity is my property, and I prove this
sufficiently by propounding it quite according to my views, and shaping it
today so, tomorrow otherwise; we represent it to ourselves in the most
manifold ways. But it is at the same time an entail, which I cannot
alienate nor get rid of.
Among many transformations, the Holy Spirit became in time the "absolute
idea", which again in manifold refractions split into the different ideas
of philanthropy, reasonableness, civic virtue, and so on.
But can I call the idea my property if it is the idea of humanity, and can
I consider the Spirit as vanquished if I am to serve it, "sacrifice myself"
to it? Antiquity, at its close, had gained its ownership of the world only
when it had broken the world's overpoweringness and "divinity," recognized
the world's powerlessness and "vanity."
The case with regard to the spirit corresponds. When I have degraded it to
a spook and its control over me to a cranky notion, then it is to be looked
upon as having lost its sacredness, its holiness, its divinity, and then I
use it, as one uses nature at pleasure without scruple.
The "nature of the case," the "concept of the relationship," is to guide me
in dealing with the case or in contracting the reIation. As if a concept of
the case existed on its own account, and was not rather the concept that
one forms of the case! As if a relation which we enter into was not, by the
uniqueness of those who enter into it, itself unique! As if it depended on
how others stamp it! But, as people separated the "essence of Man" from the
real man, and judged the latter by the former, so they also separate his
action from him, and appraise it by "human value." Concepts are to decide
everywhere, concepts to regulate life, concepts to rule. This is the
religious world, to which Hegel gave a systematic expression, bringing
method into the nonsense and completing the conceptual precepts into a
rounded, firmly-based dogmatic. Everything is sung according to concepts,
and the real man, I, am compelled to live according to these conceptual
laws. Can there be a more grievous dominion of law, and did not
Christianity confess at the very beginning that it meant only to draw
Judaism's dominion of law tighter? ("Not a letter of the law shall be
Liberalism simply brought other concepts on the carpet; human instead of
divine, political instead of ecclesiastical, "scientific" instead of
doctrinal, or, more generally, real concepts and eternal laws instead of
"crude dogmas" and precepts.
Now nothing but mind rules in the world. An innumerable multitude of
concepts buzz about in people's heads, and what are those doing who
endeavour to get further? They are negating these concepts to put new ones
in their place! They are saying: "You form a false concept of right, of the
State, of man, of liberty, of truth, of marriage; the concept of right,
etc., is rather that one which we now set up." Thus the confusion of
concepts moves forward.
The history of the world has dealt cruelly with us, and the spirit has
obtained an almighty power. You must have regard for my miserable shoes,
which could protect your naked foot, my salt, by which your potatoes would
become palatable, and my state-carriage, whose possession would relieve you
of all need at once; you must not reach out after them. Man is to recognize
the independence of all these and innumerable other things: they are to
rank in his mind as something that cannot be seized or approached, are to
be kept away from him. He must have regard for it, respect it; woe to him
if he stretches out his fingers desirously; we call that "being
How beggarly little is left us, yes, how really nothing! Everything has
been removed, we must not venture on anything unless it is given us; we
continue to live only by the grace of the giver. You must not pick up a
pin, unless indeed you have got leave to do so. And got it from whom? From
respect! Only when this lets you have it as property, only when you can
respect it as property, only then may you take it. And again, you are not
to conceive a thought, speak a syllable, commit an action, that should have
their warrant in you alone, instead of receiving it from morality or reason
or humanity. Happy unconstraint of the desirous man, how mercilessly people
have tried to slay you on the altar of constraint!
But around the altar rise the arches of a church,, and its walls keep
moving further and further out. What they enclose is sacred. You can no
longer get to it, no longer touch it. Shrieking with the hunger that
devours you, you wander round about these walls in search of the little
that is profane, and the circles of your course keep growing more and more
extended. Soon that church will embrace the whole world, and you be driven
out to the extreme edge; another step, and the world of the sacred has
conquered: you sink into the abyss. Therefore take courage while it is yet
time, wander about no longer in the profane where now it is dry feeding,
dare the leap, and rush in through the gates into the sanctuary itself. If
you devour the sacred, you have made it your own! Digest the sacramental
wafer, and you are rid of it!

C. - The Free

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.

1. - Political Liberalism

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 Q 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
honour 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 Q
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 commonalty96 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
honour; beyond that he knows nothing higher than at most the antiquated Q
"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.97 The son of a nobleman was selected for posts to which the most
distinguished commononers 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
fellows.hip 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 honour.
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 Q State Q
all egoism vanished, and before it all were equal; they were without any
other distinction Q 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. Bailly98 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 Q nation now became proprietor and master. From this
time on the ideal is spoken of as Q "popular liberty" Q "a free people,"
As early as July 8, 1789, the declaration of the bishop of Autun and
Barrere99 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, Mirabeau100 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 Q
power!101 By the way, here the substance of "right" becomes visible; it is
Q 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":102 they became ''rights.''103 From this
time on the nation demands tithes, compulsory services; it has inherited
the lord's court, the rights of vert and venison, the Q 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 monarchy was 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 Q to wit, to
find that absolute lord beside whom no other lords and lordlings any longer
exist to clip his power Q 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."104
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 Q 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; 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, namely, State rights or "political" rights. Withal, it makes no
difference to it to whom it gives them, if the receiver only fulfils the
duties that spring from the delegated rights. To it we are all of us all
right, and Q equal Q 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 fulfils the
conditions annexed thereto Q 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 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 than the individual nobleman himself must his
family, the honour 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 Q 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 Q one
lord, the State, as whose servants they all received the equal title of
honour, "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, that is,
acquires "deserts," even if one served Q mammon. One must deserve well of
the State, 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 Q 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 Q reason, that
which, like State and Church, gives Q 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
Be rich as Croesus or poor as Job Q 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 honour, characterizes it completely: "Liberalism is nothing else
than the knowledge of reason, applied to our existing relations."105 Its
aim is a "rational order," a "moral behaviour," 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 Q that is, 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 - 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 Q 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 Q Protestantism, and runs quite parallel with "religious
liberty.''106 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 Q
and we are not allowed to understand it otherwise Q not only the ruler is
individually free, 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 Q 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 Q a real ruler that wills Q 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 behaviour 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 humour, the pleasure, the will of
a man as individual (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 Q 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, for instance, 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"; 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, 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 Q 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 (to deference, to a confession of faith, and the like).
But what does that amount to? Why, it is only the Q State, the law, not any
man, that compels them!
What does the commonalty mean by inveighing against every personal order,
every order not founded on the "cause," on "reason"? It is simply fighting
in the interest of the ''cause''107 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 Q
to wit, the cause of morality, the cause of legality, and so on, then no
personal balking of one by the other may be authorized either (as formerly
the commoner was balked of the aristocratic offices, the aristocrat of
common mechanical trades, etc.); free competition must exist. Only through
the thing108 can one balk another (as 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 does not allow infanticide, demands
their baptism and so on.
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 Q that the bourgeoisie was struggling for free
competition, and the feudalists were seeking to bring back the guild
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, that is, 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 Q 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, that is, 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. )
To this day the revolutionary principle has gone no farther than to assail
only one or another particular establishment, to 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 Q 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 Q and he alone is Man Q 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, such as 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 legitimate109 or
''just'''110 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
is ever recalling that its authorization goes only so and so far, and that
it is called at all only through favour and can be thrown out again through
disfavour. It is always reminding itself of its  Q 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, that is, 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, and the like. 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 Q precepts? Should I profess this
all-subversive view? No, I am a Q 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 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 Q 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, of the proletariat, 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 Q 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
discontented poverty, 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 Q 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 labour;
not that of birth either. But ,that of mediocrity, of the golden mean: a
little birth and a little labour, that is, an interest-bearing possession.
Possession is here the fixed, the given, inherited (birth);
interest-drawing is the exertion about it (labour); labouring capital,
therefore. Only no immoderation, no ultra, no radicalism! Right of birth
certainly, but only hereditary possessions; labour certainly, yet little or
none at all of one's own, but labour of capital and of the Q subject
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." Q A like relation exists between the commonalty and the labouring
class. Commoner and labourer 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 labourer, as "starvelings," amount to nothing so
far as political consideration is concerned; birth and labour do not do it,
but money brings consideration.111 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 wer
e 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 protg.
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 Q suck his blood. The State is a - commoners' State,
is the estate of the commonalty. It protects man not according to his
labour, but according to his tractableness ("loyalty") Q to wit, according
to whether the rights entrusted to him by the State are enjoyed and managed
in accordance with the will, that is, laws, of the State.
Under the regime of the commonalty the labourers 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 labourer cannot realize on his labour to
the extent of the value that it has for the consumer. "Labour is badly
paid!" The capitalist has the greatest profit from it. Q Well paid, and
more than well paid, are only the labours of those who heighten the
splendour and dominion of the State, the labours 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, those of justice,
education, etc. Q 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 labourers.
But the class of labourers, because unprotected in what they essentially
are (for they do not enjoy the protection of the State as labourers, 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, labour, is not
recognized as to its value; it is exploited,112 a spoil113 of the
possessors, the enemy.
The labourers 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 labour, regard the product of labour as
theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the labour disturbances which
show themselves here and there.
The State rests on the Q slavery of labour. If labour becomes free. the
State is lost.

2. - Social Liberalism

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"? Q It is "society"! - But is it
corporeal, then? Q We are its body! Q You? Why, you are not a body
yourselves Q 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 labour. 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; as in that case the
State alone obtained the command, so now society alone obtains the
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 Q 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
Q ragamuffin. Let property be impersonal, let it belong to - society.
Before the supreme ruler, the sole commander, we had all become equal,
equal persons, that is, nullities.
Before the supreme proprietor we all become equal Q 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 Q that one looks for the fault first in everything but himself,
and consequently in the State, in the self-seeking of the rich, and so on,
which yet have precisely our fault to thank for their existence.
The reflections and conclusions of Communism114 look very simple. As
matters lie at this time - in the present situation with regard to the
State, therefore Q 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, the State itself, must be done away with. And what in its place?
Instead of the isolated state of prosperity Q 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 Q raised, the aristocrat Q degraded;
the third estate became sole estate, namely, the estate of Q citizens of
the State. Now Communism responds: Our dignity and our essence consist not
in our being all Q 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 "labour" each one for
the rest; in that each of us is a labourer, 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
labours 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 labour that constitutes our dignity and our
Q equality.
What advantage does citizenship bring us? Burdens! And how high is our
labour appraised? As low as possible! But labour is our sole value all the
same: that we are labourers 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 Q labour too. Only for labour 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, those services that are worth something to us,
and consequently labours for each other, labours for the common good. Let
each one be in the other's eyes a labourer. He who accomplishes something
useful is inferior to none, or Q all labourers (labourers, of course, in
the sense of labourers "for the common good," that is, communistic
labourers) are equal. But, as the labourer is worth his wages,115 let the
wages too be equal.
As long as faith sufficed for man's honour and dignity, no labour, 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 labour 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 labour is to have the intent
that the man be satisfied. Therefore he must become a master in it too, be
able to perform it as a totality. He who in a pinfactory 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 labour
cannot satisfy him, it can only fatigue him. His labour is nothing by
itself, has no object in itself, is nothing complete in itself; he labours
only into another's hands, and is used (exploited) by this other. For this
labourer 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 labourers' 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; favouring
.fortune. and those "favoured by fortune," still remain.
When, for example, a branch of industry is ruined and thousands of
labourers 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 Q 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 Q
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 endeavour first utters itself as
hatred of the "unfortunate" against the "fortunate," 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
endeavours, they need a God, an uplifting and edification alongside their
witless "labour."
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 labourer or labouring 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 endeavour to cleanse him as a "lazy
man" from laziness and to convert you to the faith that labour 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 lor 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 labour of humanization, that is, that it should
become possible for every one to labour 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 labour on ourselves.
By the principle of labour that of fortune or competition is certainly
outdone. But at the same time the labourer, in his consciousness that the
essential thing in him is "the labourer," holds himself aloof from egoism
and subjects himself to the supremacy of a society of labourers, 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.116 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 Q of this the Socialists do not think, because they Q as liberals
Q are imprisoned in the religious principle, and zealously aspire after Q a
sacred society, such as 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

3. - Humane Liberalism

As liberalism is completed in self-criticizing, ''critical''117 liberalism
Q in which the critic remains a liberal and does not go beyond the
principle of liberalism, Man Q this may distinctively be named after Man
and called the "humane."
The labourer 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 labourer 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 labourer-consciousness".
"The labourer makes nothing, therefore he has nothing; but he makes nothing
because his labour is always a labour that remains individual, calculated
strictly for his own want, a labour day by day.''118 In opposition to this
one might, for instance, consider the fact that Gutenberg's119 labour 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 labour.
The humane consciousness despises the commoner-consciousness as well as the
labourer-consciousness: for the commoner is "indignant" only at vagabonds
(at all who have "no definite occupation") and their "immorality"; the
labourer 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 labourers undertake even your labour from an egoistic
impulse, because you want to eat, drink, live; how should you be less
egoists in leisure? You labour 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

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, a Q 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 Q 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''120 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" Q 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 Q let Isaacs be ever so Jewish Q 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 Q and this is the point Q 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 Q
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 "labourers' 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 Q 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
Q 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 (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 property121 our self-will122
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, selfownership, 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 labourers. 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 Q all superhuman, heavenly, unhuman powers Q 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, 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 labour 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, namely, 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."
Labouring does not alone make you a man, because it is something formal and
its object accidental; the question is who you that labour are. As far as
labouring goes, you might do it from an egoistic (material) impulse, merely
to procure nourishment and the like; it must be a labour furthering
humanity, calculated for the good of humanity, serving historical (human)
evolution Q in short, a human labour. 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 labour, as even the labours of nature, as
of animals, are utilized by humanity for the furthering of science, etc.;
the second requires that he who labours should know the human object of his
labour; and, as he can have this consciousness only when he knows himself
as man, the crucial condition is Q self-consciousness.
Unquestionably much is already attained when you cease to be a
''fragment-labourer,''123 yet therewith you only get a view of the whole of
your labour, 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 labourer has still remaining the desire for a
"higher consciousness," which, because the activity of labour is unable to
quiet it, he satisfies in a leisure hour. Hence leisure stands by the side
of his labour, and he sees himself compelled to proclaim labour and idling
human in one breath, yes, to attribute the true elevation to the idler, the
leisure-enjoyer. He labours only to get rid of labour; he wants to make
labour free, only that he may be free from labour.
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 labour 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 Q a
rag-tag labourer, or a labouring ragamuffin.
Labour 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 labour. It points to "mind," wages
the war "of mind with the masses,''124 and pronounces communistic labour
unintellectual mass-labour. Averse to labour as they are, the masses love
to make labour easy for themselves. In literature, which is today furnished
in mass, this aversion to labour begets the universally-known
superficiality, which puts from it "the toil of research.''125
Therefore humane liberalism says: You want labour; 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 labour because it is our self-development.
But then the labour too must be adapted to that end! Man is honoured only
by human, self-conscious labour, only by the labour 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 labour, therefore I am a man. The
humane liberal wants that labour 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, criticizes anew every
result that has been gained. This restless mind is the true labourer, it
obliterates prejudices, shatters limits and narrownesses, and raises man
above everything that would like to dominate over him, while the Communist
labours only for himself, and not even freely, but from necessity Q in
short, represents a man condemned to hard labour.
The labourer of such a type is not "egoistic," because he does not labour
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 Q he lives and labours
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 labours, 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 labour the egoistic character.
In the next place, if he did labour only on his own account, like the rest,
why should his act be human, those of the rest unhuman, that is, egoistic?
Perhaps because this book, painting, symphony, is the labour 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, 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
labour? 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 Q that he does not understand how to compress himself
into one labour, 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 Q 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''126 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 Q 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 Q or, like Schiller, a Swabian; like Kant, a
Prussian; like Gustavus Adolphus, a near-sighted person Q 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 fulfilment, 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,127
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
"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 Q 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
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 criticizes 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 Q 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.''128 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 Q 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 Q 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.''129
What is to happen, though? Is social life to have an end, and all
companionableness, 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.''130
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 Q in short, the
"rights of man"; Socialism grants to the individual what pertains to him as
an active man, as a "labouring"man; finally. humane liberalism gives the
individual what he has as "a man," that is, everything that belongs to
humanity. Accordingly the single one131 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; Q Man's is the kingdom,
the world, consequently the individual is not to be proprietor, but Man,
"all," command the world as property Q to Man is due renown, glorification
or "glory" (doxa) from all, for Man or humanity is the individual's end,
for which he labours, 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, levelled 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, and so on. 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 Q 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," such as
for example a Jew or a Christian. Well, I do not count myself as anything
especial, but as unique.132 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 Q 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 Q Man.
It is more than ragamuffinhood, however, when I throw away Man too because
I feel that he too is alien to me and that T can make no pretensions on
that basis. This is no longer mere ragamuffinhood: because even the last
rag has fallen off, here stands real nakedness, denudation of everything
alien. The ragamuffin has stripped off ragamuffinhood itself, and therewith
has ceased to be what he was, a ragamuffin.
I am no longer a ragamuffin, but have been one.

Up to this time the discord could not come to an outbreak, because properly
there is current only a contention of modern liberals with antiquated
liberals, a contention of those who understand "freedom" in a small measure
and those who want the "full measure" of freedom; of the moderate and
measureless, therefore. Everything turns on the question, how free must man
be? That man must be free, in this all believe; therefore all are liberal
too. But the un-man133 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 rigourously separated,
stand over against each other as enemies, to wit, the "masses" and
"criticism";134 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.''135 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,136 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 Q all, in short Q 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 Q 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
themselves as 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.137 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, 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 Q 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, for example, 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 Q 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 Q 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 labour; 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, to wit, "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 Q
to wit, our own "self"; we ourselves, but separated from us and lifted
above us.


The foregoing review of "free human criticism" was written by bits
immediately after the appearance of the books in question, as was also that
which elsewhere refers to writings of this tendency, and I did little more
than bring together the fragments. But criticism is restlessly pressing
forward, and thereby makes it necessary for me to come back to it once
more, now that my book is finished, and insert this concluding note.
I have before me the latest (eighth) number of the Allgemeine
Literatur-Zeitung of Bruno Bauer.
There again "the general interests of society" stand at the top. But
criticism has reflected, and given this "society" a specification by which
it is discriminated from a form which previously had still been confused
with it: the "State," in former passages still celebrated as "free State,"
is quite given up because it can in no wise fulfil the task of "human
society." Criticism only "saw itself compelled to identify for a moment
human and political affairs" in 1842; but now it has found that the State,
even as "free State," is not human society, or, as it could likewise say,
that the people is not "man." We saw how it got through with theology and
showed clearly that God sinks into dust before Man; we see it now come to a
clearance with politics in the same way, and show that before Man peoples
and nationalities fall: so we see how it has its explanation with Church
and State, declaring them both unhuman, and we shall see Q for it betrays
this to us already Q how it can also give proof that before Man the
"masses," which it even calls a "spiritual being," appear worthless. And
how should the lesser "spiritual beings" be able to maintain themselves
before the supreme spirit? "Man" casts down the false idols.
So what the critic has in view for the present is the scrutiny of the
"masses," which he will place before "Man" in order to combat them from the
stand-point of Man. "What is now the object of criticism?" "The masses, a
spiritual being!" These the critic will "learn to know," and will find that
they are in contradiction with Man; he will demonstrate that they are
unhuman, and will succeed just as well in this demonstration as in the
former ones, that the divine and the national, or the concerns of Church
and of State, were the unhuman.
The masses are defined as "the most significant product of the Revolution,
as the deceived multitude which the illusions of political Illumination,
and in general the entire Illumination movement of the eighteenth century,
have given over to boundless disgruntlement." The Revolution satisfied some
by its result, and left others unsatisfied; the satisfied part is the
commonalty (bourgeoisie, etc.), the unsatisfied is the Q masses. Does not
the critic, so placed, himself belong to the "masses"?
But the unsatisfied are still in great mistiness, and their discontent
utters itself only in a "boundless disgruntlement." This the likewise
unsatisfied critic now wants to master: he cannot want and attain more than
to bring that "spiritual being," the masses, out of its disgruntlement, and
to "uplift" those who were only disgruntled, to give them the right
attitude toward those results of the Revolution which are to be overcome; Q
he can become the head of the masses, their decided spokesman. Therefore he
wants also to "abolish the deep chasm which parts him from the multitude."
>From those who want to "uplift the lower classes of the people" he is
distinguished by wanting to deliver from "disgruntlement," not merely
these, but himself too.
But assuredly his consciousness does not deceive him either, when he takes
the masses to be the "natural opponents of theory," and forsees that, "the
more this theory shall develop itself, so much the more will it make the
masses compact." For the critic cannot enlighten or satisfy the masses with
his presupposition, Man. If over against the commonalty they are only the
"lower classes of the people," politically insignificant masses, over
against "Man" they must still more be mere "masses," humanly insignificant
Q yes, unhuman Q masses, or a multitude of un-men.
The critic clears away everything human; and, starting from the
presupposition that the human is the true, he works against himself,
denying it wherever it had been hitherto found. He proves only that the
human is to be found nowhere except in his head, but the unhuman
everywhere. The unhuman is the real, the extant on all hands, and by the
proof that it is "not human" the critic only enunciates plainly the
tautological sentence that it is the unhuman.
But what if the unhuman, turning its back on itself with resolute heart,
should at the same time turn away from the disturbing critic and leave him
standing, untouched and unstung by his remonstrance? "You call me the
unhuman," it might say to him, "and so I really am Q for you; but I am so
only because you bring me into opposition to the human, and I could despise
myself only so long as I let myself be hypnotized into this opposition. I
was contemptible because I sought my 'better self' outside me; I was the
unhuman because I dreamed of the 'human'; I resembled the pious who hunger
for their 'true self' and always remain 'poor sinners'; I thought of myself
only in comparison to another; enough, I was not all in all, was not Q
unique.138 But now I cease to appear to myself as the unhuman, cease to
measure myself and let myself be measured by man, cease to recognize
anything above me: consequently Q adieu, humane critic! I only have been
the unhuman, am it now no longer, but am the unique, yes, to your loathing,
the egoistic; yet not the egoistic as it lets itself be measured by the
human, humane, and unselfish, but the egoistic as the Q unique."
We have to pay attention to still another sentence of the same number.
"Criticism sets up no dogmas, and wants to learn to know nothing but
The critic is afraid of becoming "dogmatic" or setting up dogmas. Of
course: why, thereby he would become the opposite of the critic Q the
dogmatist; he would now become bad, as he is good as critic, or would
become from an unselfish man an egoist. "Of all things, no dogma!" This is
his Q dogma. For the critic remains on one and the same ground with the
dogmatist Q that of thoughts. Like the latter he always starts from a
thought, but varies in this, that he never ceases to keep the
principle-thought in the process of thinking, and so does not let it become
stable. He only asserts the thought-process against the thought-faith, the
progress of thinking against stationariness in it. From criticism no
thought is safe, since criticism is thought or the thinking mind itself.
Therefore I repeat that the religious world Q and this is the world of
thought Q reaches its completion in criticism, where thinking extends its
encroachments over every thought, no one of which may "egoistically"
establish itself. Where would the "purity of criticism," the purity of
thinking, be left if even one thought escaped the process of thinking? This
explains the fact that the critic has even begun already to gibe gently
here and there at the thought of Man, of humanity and humaneness, because
he suspects that here a thought is approaching dogmatic fixity. But yet he
cannot decompose this thought till he has found a Q "higher" in which it
dissolves; for he moves only Q in thoughts. This higher thought might be
enunciated as that of the movement or process of thinking itself. as the
thought of thinking or of criticism, for example.
Freedom of thinking has in fact become complete hereby, freedom of mind
celebrates its triumph: for the individual, "egoistic" thoughts have lost
their dogmatic truculence. There is nothing left but the Q dogma of free
thinking or of criticism.
Against everything that belongs to the world of thought, criticism is in
the right, that is, in might: it is the victor. Criticism, and criticism
alone, is "up to date." From the stand-point of thought there is no power
capable of being an overmatch for criticism's, and it is a pleasure to see
how easily and sportively this dragon swallows all other serpents of
thought. Each serpent twists, to be sure, but criticism crushes it in all
its "turns."
I am no opponent of criticism. I am no dogmatist, and do not feel myself
touched by the critic's tooth with which he tears the dogmatist to pieces.
If I were a "dogmatist," I should place at the head a dogma, a thought, an
idea, a principle, and should complete this as a "systematist," spinning it
out to a system, a structure of thought. Conversely, if I were a critic, an
opponent of the dogmatist, I should carry on the fight of free thinking
against the enthralling thought, I should defend thinking against what was
thought. But I am neither the champion of a thought nor the champion of
thinking; for "I," from whom I start, am not a thought, nor do I consist in
thinking. Against me, the unnameable, the realm of thoughts, thinking, and
mind is shattered.
Criticism is the possessed man's fight against possession as such, against
all possession: a fight which is founded in the consciousness that
everywhere possession, or, as the critic calls it, a religious and
theological attitude, is extant. He knows that people stand in a religious
or believing attitude not only toward God, but toward other ideas as well,
like right, the State, law; he recognizes possession in all places. So he
wants to break up thoughts by thinking; but I say, only thoughtlessness
really saves me from thoughts. It is not thinking, but my thoughtlessness,
or I the unthinkable, incomprehensible, that frees me from possession.
A jerk does me the service of the most anxious thinking, a stretching of
the limbs shakes off the torment of thoughts, a leap upward hurls from my
breast the nightmare of the religious world, a jubilant Hoopla throws off
year-long burdens. But the monstrous significance of unthinking jubilation
could not be recognized in the long night of thinking and believing.
"What clumsiness and frivolity, to want to solve the most difficult
problems, acquit yourself of the most comprehensive tasks, by a breaking
off !"
But have you tasks if you do not set them to yourself? So long as you set
them, you will not give them up, and I certainly do not care if you think,
and, thinking, create a thousand thoughts. But you who have set the tasks,
are you not to be able to upset them again? Must you be bound to these
tasks, and must they become absolute tasks?
To cite only one thing, the government has been disparaged on account of
its resorting to forcible means against thoughts, interfering against the
press by means of the police power of the censorship, and making a personal
fight out of a literary one. As if it were solely a matter of thoughts, and
as if one's attitude toward thoughts must be unselfish, self-denying, and
self-sacrificing! Do not those thoughts attack the governing parties
themselves, and so call out egoism? And do the thinkers not set before the
attacked ones the religious demand to reverence the power of thought, of
ideas? They are to succumb voluntarily and resignedly, because the divine
power of thought, Minerva, fights on their enemies' side. Why, that would
be an act of possession, a religious sacrifice. To be sure, the governing
parties are themselves held fast in a religious bias, and follow the
leading power of an idea or a faith; but they are at the same time
unconfessed egoists, and right here, against the enemy, their pent-up
egoism breaks loose: possessed in their faith, they are at the same time
unpossessed by their opponents' faith; they are egoists toward this. If one
wants to make them a reproach, it could only be the converse Q to wit, that
they are possessed by their ideas.
Against thoughts no egoistic power is to appear, no police power and the
like. So the believers in thinking believe. But thinking and its thoughts
are not sacred to me, and I defend my skin against them as against other
things. That may be an unreasonable defense; but, if I am in duty bound to
reason, then I, like Abraham, must sacrifice my dearest to it!
In the kingdom of thought, which, like that of faith, is the kingdom of
heaven, every one is assuredly wrong who uses unthinking force, just as
every one is wrong who in the kingdom of love behaves unlovingly, or,
although he is a Christian and therefore lives in the kingdom of love, yet
acts un-Christianly; in these kingdoms, to which he supposes himself to
belong though he nevertheless throws off their laws, he is a "sinner" or
"egoist." But it is only when he he becomes a criminal against these
kingdoms that he can throw off their dominion.
Here too the result is this, that the fight of the thinkers against the
government is indeed in the right, namely, in might Q so far as it is
carried on against the government's thoughts (the government is dumb, and
does not succeed in making any literary rejoinder to speak of), but is, on
the other hand, in the wrong, to wit, in impotence, so far as it does not
succeed in bringing into the field anything but thoughts against a personal
power (the egoistic power stops the mouths of the thinkers). The
theoretical fight cannot complete the victory, and the sacred power of
thought succumbs to the might of egoism. Only the egoistic fight, the fight
of egoists on both sides, clears up everything.
This last now, to make thinking an affair of egoistic option, an affair of
the single person,139 a mere pastime or hobby as it were, and, to take from
it the importance of "being the last decisive power"; this degradation and
desecration of thinking; this equalization of the unthinking and thoughtful
ego; this clumsy but real "equality" Q criticism is not able to produce,
because it itself is only the priest of thinking, and sees nothing beyond
thinking but Q the deluge.
Criticism does indeed affirm, that free criticism may overcome the State,
but at the same time it defends itself against the reproach which is laid
upon it by the State government, that it is "self-will and impudence"; it
thinks, then, that "self-will and impudence" may not overcome, it alone
may. The truth is rather the reverse: the State can be really overcome only
by impudent self-will.
It may now, to conclude with this, be clear that in the critic's new change
of front he has not transformed himself, but only "made good an oversight,"
"disentangled a subject," and is saying too much when he speaks of
"criticism criticizing itself"; it, or rather he, has only criticized its
"oversight" and cleared it of its "inconsistencies." If he wanted to
criticize criticism, he would have to look and see if there was anything in
its presupposition.
I on my part start from a presupposition in presupposing myself; but my
presupposition does not struggle for its perfection like "Man struggling
for his perfection," but only serves me to enjoy it and consume it. I
consume my presupposition, and nothing else, and exist only in consuming
it. But that presupposition is therefore not a presupposition at all: for,
as I am the Unique, I know nothing of the duality of a presupposing and a
presupposed ego (an "incomplete" and a "complete" ego or man); but this,
that I consume myself, means only that I am. I do not presuppose myself,
because I am every moment just positing or creating myself, and am I only
by being not presupposed but posited, and, again, posited only in the
moment when I posit myself; that is, I am creator and creature in one.
If the presuppositions that have hitherto been current are to melt away in
a full dissolution, they must not be dissolved into a higher presupposition
again Q a thought, or thinking itself, criticism. For that dissolution is
to be for my good; otherwise it would belong only in the series of the
innumerable dissolutions which, in favour of others (as this very Man, God,
the State, pure morality, etc.), declared old truths to be untruths and did
away with long-fostered presuppositions.
1 [Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (1804-1872), probably the outstanding of the
young Hegelians, had abandoned the master and moved into front rank himself
as a philosopher with the publication of Das Wesen des Christentums
(Leipzig, 1841).]
2 Heb. 11. 13.
3 Mark 10. 29.
4 (Italicized in the original for the sake of its etymology, Scharfsinn
="sharp sense." Compare next paragraph.)
5 [The reference is to the famous work of the German writer Adelbert von
Chamisso (1781-1838), Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte, published in
1814, a fantasy built around a man who sold his shadow; reprinted many
times. An English translation appeared in London in 1845 titled, The
Shadowless Man; or, the Wonderful History  of Peter Schlemihl.]
6 [A Greek lyric poet, probable dates 556-468 B.C. Only scattered portions
of his work survive.]
7 [Founder of a hedonistic school of philosophy at Cyrene, a Greek city in
North Africa; his probable dates 435-356 B.C.]
8 [Presumably a reference to the impersonal theological Absolute in early
Hindu philosophy.]
9 [An Athenian philosopher and moralist of the latter half of the fifth
century B.C., usually associated with the famed general and politician
10 [Founder of a Greek school of extreme skeptic philosophy, probable dates
365-275 B.C.]
11 2 Cor. 5. 17. (The words "new" and "modern" are the same in German.)
12 [Title of a poem by the celebrated Johann Christoph-Friedrich Schiller
13 (The reader will remember (it is to be hoped he has never forgotten)
that "mind" and "spirit" are one and the same word in German. For several
pages back the connection of the discourse has seemed to require the almost
exclusive use of the translation "spirit," but to complete the sense it has
often been necessary that the reader recall the thought of its identity
with "mind," as stated in a previous note.)
14 Essence of Christianity. [Byington's translation of Feuerbach's Das
Wesen des Christentums.]
15 (Or, "highest essence." The word Wesen, which means both "essence" and
"being," will be translated now one way and now the other in the following
pages. The reader must bear in mind that these two words are identical in
German; and so are "supreme" and "highest.")
16 Essence of Christianity, p. 402.
17 (That is, the abstract conception of man, as in the preceding sentence.)
18 For instance. Rom. 8. 9; 1 Cor. 3. 16; John 20. 22 and innumerable other
19 [Friederike Hauffe (1801-1829), known as the "Visionary of Prevorst," a
young woman native to this small town in Wrttemberg. Her trances and
visions made her one of the celebrated cases involving magnetism and
somnambulism which excited wide attention in Europe.]
20 (Heil)
22  (How the priests tinkle! how important they 
Would make it out, that men should come their way 
And babble, just as yesterday, today! 
Oh, blame them not! They know man's need, I say! 
For he takes all his happiness this way, 
To babble just tomorrow as today.
			QTranslated from Goethe's Venetian Epigrams.)
23 (fremd)
24 (fremd)
25 (einzig)
26 (The supreme being.)
27 [The two major divisions of the religious world of the Muslim and Hindu
communities, respectively.]
28 (heilig)
29 (heilig)
30 [The fate of the Danaides in Hades has traditionally been a figure of
speech for endless labour; in Greek mythology, the fifty daughters of the
king Danaus who killed their husbands on their wedding night and were
condemned, in one account or another, forever to raise water from a well
with a perforated vessel, or pour it into a receptacle of similar
31 (einzig)
32 [Stirner is referring in the above passage to the furious controversy
involving press censorship in the early 1840s and various legal proceedings
which stemmed from these actions. There may be some debate as to whether
Byington has translated the German Philister correctly. Originally the word
was used by German university students to mean the townspeople, although it
may be argued that Germans gave it the same meaning attributed to Matthew
Arnold (1822-1888), the British man of letters, "Philistine" meaning a rude
and uncultured materialist of a low sort.]
33 (gefangen und befangen, literally "imprisoned and prepossessed.")
34 [Prospero Lambertini (1675-1758), Pope Benedict XIV from 1740 to 1758, a
very learned, intellectual and many-sided pope who came under the influence
of eighteenth century Enlightenment.]
35 (besessene)
36 (versessen)
37 [A weekly published in Dresden beginning in 1841.]
38 [Stirner cited page 519 from the second volume of Geschichte des
achtzenten Jahrhunderts of Friedrich Christoph Schlosser (1776-1861),
historian and professor at Heidelberg, whose book was published in that
city in 1842. The reference is to the rationalists and the writers of the
Enlightenment, Holbach, d'Alembert, Diderot and others, and their part in
undermining the beliefs of the period prior to the French Revolution.]
39 [It is not clear from the context which member of this formidable family
of fierce defenders of orthodox German Protestantism Stirner is referring
to; Friedrich Adolf Krummacher (1768-1845), his brother Gottfried Daniel
(1774-1837) and his son Friedrich Wilhelm (1796-1868) all had reputations
as theologians. The latter's strong attacks on rationalists in various
books suggest that he is the referent.]
40 [King of Spain (1556-1598), noted throughout the Western world for his
strong devotion to advancing the fortunes of the Roman Catholic faith.]
41 [Stirner quoted from page 36 of Pierre Joseph Proudhon's De la Cration
de l'Ordre dans l'Humani, ou Principes d'Organization politique (Paris,
1843). Stirner did not recognize in Proudhon a holder of congenial
42 [This was cited from page 64 of the second volume of Anekdota zur
neuesten deutschen Philosophie und Publicistik von Bruno Bauer, Ludwig
Feuerbach, Friedrich Kppen, Karl Nauwerck, Arnold Ruge, published in
Zurich and Mannheim in 1843.]
43 (dieselbe Phantastin wie die Phantasie.)
44  [Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1767), a German of impressive erudition
in many diverse fields, lifelong resident of Hamburg. His Abhandlung von
die vornehmsten Wahrheiten der naturlichen Religion was first published in
Hamburg in 1754, and was in its sixth edition in 1791.]
45 (The same word as "intellectual", as "mind" and "spirit" are the same.)
46 [The assassination of August Friedrich Ferdinand de Kotzebue (1761-1819)
by Karl-Ludwig Sand (1795-1820). Kotzebue, a defender of the older
political order, ridiculed the new German nationalism which grew out of the
struggle against Napoleon. He was called a "traitor" and was stabbed to
death by Sand, an extremely zealous younger exponent of this sentiment.]
47 [The patron saint of shoemakers.]
48 [A reference to the irregular forces fighting in Spain against Napoleon
during the Peninsular Wars, 1808-1814.]
$  Compare Gal. 2.29
49 [Stirner is speaking here to the reformers of the 1840s in Germany,
exponents of stronger national unity, constitutional rule, more widespread
participation in government, and civil and political rights established by
50 [Karl Heinrich, Ritters von Lang (1764-1835); Jean Bourdeau, in his
Potes et Humoristes de l'Allemagne (Paris, 1906), referred to von Lang as
"A German Gil Blas." Memorien des Karl Heinrich Ritters von Lang; Skizzen
aus meinem Leben und Wirken, meinen Reisen und meiner Zeit had been
published in Brunswick in 1841-1842.]
51 [The heroine of the famous dramatic work of the same name by Gotthold
Ephraim Lessing (1728-1781); this had been reprinted in 1841 and again in
52 [One of the Fathers and Doctors of the Christian Church, resident of
Alexandria, probable dates 182-185/251-254 A.D.]
53 [King of France from 1774 until his deposition by the revolutionaries in
1792, and guillotined the following year.]
54 Essence of Christianity, second edition [1843], p. 402.
55 [Work cited above], p. 403.
56 [Work cited above], p. 408.
57 (Literally "the man.")
58 (uneigenntzigkeit, literally "un-self-benefitingness.")
59 [August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), the founder of pietism in Halle,
professor and theologian, established an orphanage in Halle in 1698.]
60 [Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), Irish political leader, member of
Parliament and important figure in the emancipation of the Irish from
religious discrimination in political life.]
61 [The English monk who became a Christian missionary in Germany and is
credited with undermining paganism there; probable dates 680-755.]
62 See note 76.
63 [Karl-Theodore Krner (1791-1813), soldier and poet of German
independence, killed in action near Hamburg in August, 1813.]
64 [A reference to the beauteous Greek courtesan made famous by
Demosthenes, and to Ninon de Lenclos (1620-1705), the worldly French
beauty, known among other things for her many amatory liaisons.]
65 (vernnftig, derived from vernehmen, to hear.)
66 [Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803), one of the important 18th
century German poets; Der Messias drew enthusiastic acclaim the world over.
Several multi-volume editions of his works appeared in the 1820s and
67 [Stirner did not specify which of the two Egyptian pharaohs who bore
this name during the Twelfth Dynasty he was thinking of, but presumably it
was Sesostris III (1887-1849 B.C.), who conquered Nubia.]
68 (A German idiom for destructive radicalism.)
69 (The same word that has been translated "custom" several times in this
70 (Ehrfurcht)
71 (gefrchtet)
72 (geehrt)
73 Rousseau, the Philanthropists; and others were hostile to culture and
intelligence, but they overlooked the fact that this is present in all men
of the Christian type, and assailed only learned and refined culture.
74 [A work in twelve parts bearing the full title Denkwrdigkeiten zur
Geschichte der neueren Zeit seit der franzsische Revolution; Nach den
Quellen und Original-Memoiren bearbeiten und herausgeben von Bruno und
Edgar Bauer (Charlottenburg, 1843-1844). Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) was one of
the most frequently-cited figures in Stirner's book, one of the outstanding
of the Junghegelianer and a serious student of the French Revolution.]
75 (Literally, "sacrificing"; the German word has not the prefix "self.")
76 [Maximilien Franois Robespierre (1758-1794) and Louis Antoine Leon de
Saint-Just (1767-1794), two major leaders of the French Revolution who bear
responsibility for the Reign of Terror and who were both victims of the
reaction against it.]
77 Die Volksphilosophie unserer Tage [Neumeister, 1843], p. 22.
78 (Muth)
79 (Demuth)
80 (Called in English theology "original sin.")
81 (Goethe, Faust.)
82 Anekdota, vol. 2, p. 152.
83 (Schiller, Die Worte des Glaubens.)
84 (Parodied from the words of Mephistopheles in the witch's kitchen in Faust. )
85 John 2. 4.
86 Matt. 10. 35.
87 (heilig)
88 (heilig)
89 (Geistlicher, literally "spiritual man.")
90 [A reference to the success of Calvinism as a more extreme form of
Protestantism than Lutheranism.]
91 [A document drafted by Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), German
theologian and reformer, closely associated with Luther; it was presented
to the Diet of German princes meeting in Augsburg in 1530 as a contribution
to bringing about unity among Christians once more.]
92 Essence of Christianity, p. 403.
93 [Holy Roman Emperor of the House of Luxemburg (1308-1313), who claimed
to be independent of the spiritual power of the pope and encountered a
coalition of power against him created in part by Pope Clement V. Stirner's
historical reference, regardless of the objections which might be raised by
the Jesuits, was incorrect, since the Society of Jesus was not founded
until 1534.]
94 Mark 9. 23.
95(Herrlichkeit, which, according to its derivation, means "lordliness '")
96 (Or "citizenhood." The word (das Brgertum) means either the condition
of being a citizen, or citizen-like principles, of the body of citizens or
of the middle or business class, the bourgeoisie.)
97 (Man hatte im Staate "die ungleiche Person angesehen," there had been
"respect of unequal persons" in the State.)
98 [Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793), famous astronomer and mayor of Paris
in first years of the French Revolution, 1789-1793; guillotined during the
Reign of Terror in October of the latter year.]
99 [Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-1838), bishop of Autun and
Barrere, 1789-1791. Talleyrand, whose name has become synonymous with
craftiness in politics, was one of the prime movers in the concessions made
by the French upper classes prior to the bloody phase of the Prench
100 [Count de Mirabeau (1749-1791) was the principal spokesman for the
"third estate" at the National Assembly of 1789-1791 in France, where all
the basic steps of the Revolution were taken.]
101 (Gewalt, a word which is also commonly used like the English
"violence," denoting especially unlawful violence.)
102 (Vorrechte )
103 (Rechte )
104 1. Corinthians, 8. 4.
105 [Stirner's quotation was from page 12 of Georg Herwegh (ed.), Ein und
zwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz (Zurich and Winterthur, 1843). This book,
consisting of material by German radicals, was published in Switzerland to
escape German press censorship laws.]
106 Louis Blanc says (Histoire des dix Ans, I, 138) of the time of the
Restoration: "Le protestantisme devint le fond des ides et des moeurs."
[Louis Blanc (1811-1882), probably the most important of the French
socialist propagandists; his two-volume Revolution Francaise: Histoire de
dix Ans, 1830-1840 was published in Paris, 1841-1844.]
107 (Sache, which commonly means thing.)
108 (Sache )
109 (Or "righteous." German rechtlich. )
110 (gerecht )
111 (das Geld gibt Geltung. )
112 (ausgebeutet )
113 (Kriegsbeute )
114 [Stirner, as did most of the writers of his time, used the words
"Socialism" and "Communism" interchangeably. even as did many of the
propagandists of collectivism themselves. It is well after mid-century
before the fine qualifications begin and the sectarian conflicts herald the
present-day conventional distinctions between the two..]
115 (In German an exact quotation of Luke 10. 7.)
116 Proudhon (Cration de l'ordre ) cries out, p. 414, "In industry, as in
science, the publication of an invention is the first and most sacred of
117 (In his strictures on "criticism" Stirner refers to a special movement
known by that name in the early forties of the last century, of which Bruno
Bauer was the principal exponent. After his official separation from the
faculty of the university of Bonn on account of his views in regard to the
Bible, Bruno Bauer in 1843 settled near Berlin and founded the Allgemeine
Literatur-Zeitung, in which he and his friends, at war with their
surroundings, championed the "absolute emancipation" of the individual
within the limits of "pure humanity" and fought as their foe "the mass,"
comprehending in that term the radical aspirations of political liberalism
and the communistic demands of the rising Socialist movement of that time.
For a brief account of Bruno Bauer's movement of criticism, see John Henry
Mackay, Max Stirner. Sein Leben und sein Werk. )
[Twelve issues of this journal, published in Charlottenburg in 1843-1844,
were subsequently issued in two bound volumes. It does not appear lo have
been published after the latter date. An earlier and surviving journal with
the identical name was currently being published in Halle.]
118 Br. Bauer, Lit. Ztg., V, 18.
119 [A reference to Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468), perfector of printing
from moveable type.]
120 Lit. Ztg.  V, 26.
121 (Eigentum, "owndom.")
122 (Eigenwille, "own-will.")
123 (Referring to minute subdivision of labor, whereby the single workman
produces, not a whole, but a part.)
124 Lit. Ztg., V, 24.
125 Lit. Ztg., ibid
126 ("einziger" )
127 (Einzigkeit )
128 Bruno Bauer, Judenfrage, p. 66. [Bruno Bauer's Die Judenfrage,
published in Brunswick in 1843. It was the object of a vigorous
controversy, Bauer arguing in part that the Jews did not deserve civil and
political rights by the withdrawal of barriers of exclusion on the grounds
that they did not abandon their group exclusiveness. This was partially
carried on again in the pages of the Deutsch-franzsische Jahrbucher, by
Bauer, and Karl Marx, who, along with Arnold Ruge (1803-1880), edited this
journal in Paris in 1844. Ruge and Marx proved to be awkward associates,
and soon parted company, and this journal had a short-lived existence.
Ruge, an editor and author of some stature then and later, discussed this
episode in his Zwei Jahre in Paris (2 vols. Leipzig, 1846).]
129 Bruno Bauer, Die gute Sache der Freiheit, pp. 62-63. [Bauer's Die gute
Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit was published in Zurich
and Winterthur in 1842. probably as a precaution against running into Saxon
or Prussian press censorship obstacles.]
130 Bruno Bauer, Judenfrage, p. 60.
131 (Einzige )
132 (einzig )
133 (It should be remembered that to be an Unmensch (un-man) one must be a
man. The word means an inhuman or unhuman man, a man who is not man. A
tiger, an avalanche, a drought, a cabbage, is not an un-man.)
134 Lit. Ztg., V, 23; as comment, V, 12ff.
135 Lit. Ztg, V 15.
136 (Rechthaberei, literally the character of always insisting on making
one+s self out to be in the right.)
137 Lit. Ztg., V, 24.
138 (einzig )
139 (des Einzigen )



At the entrance of the modern time stands the "God-man." At its exit will
only the God in the God-man evaporate? And can the God-man really die if
only the God in him dies? They did not think of this question, and thought
they were through when in our days they brought to a victorious end the
work of the Illumination, the vanquishing of God: they did not notice that
Man has killed God in order to become now Q "sole  God on high." The other
world outside us is indeed brushed away, and the great undertaking of the
Illuminators completed; but the other world in us has become a new heaven
and calls us forth to renewed heaven-storming: God has had to give place,
yet not to us, but to Q Man. How can you believe that the God-man is dead
before the Man in him, besides the God, is dead?



"Does not the spirit thirst for freedom?" Q Alas, not my spirit alone, my
body too thirsts for it hourly! When before the odorous castle-kitchen my
nose tells my palate of the savory dishes that are being prepared therein,
it feels a fearful pining at its dry bread; when my eyes tell the hardened
back about soft down on which one may lie more delightfully than on its
compressed straw, a suppressed rage seizes it; when Q but let us not follow
the pains further. Q And you call that a longing for freedom? What do you
want to become free from, then? From your hardtack and your straw bed? Then
throw them away! Q But that seems not to serve you: you want rather to have
the freedom to enjoy delicious foods and downy beds. Are men to give you
this "freedom" Q are they to permit it to you? You do not hope that from
their philanthropy, because you know they all think like you: each is the
nearest to himself! How, therefore, do you mean to come to the enjoyment of
those foods and beds? Evidently not otherwise than in making them your
If you think it over rightly, you do not want the freedom to have all these
fine things, for with this freedom you still do not have them; you want
really to have them, to call them yours and possess them as your property.
Of what use is a freedom to you, indeed, if it brings in nothing? And, if
you became free from everything, you would no longer have anything; for
freedom is empty of substance. Whoso knows not how to make use of it, for
him it has no value, this useless permission; but how I make use of it
depends on my personality.2
I have no objection to freedom, but I wish more than freedom for you: you
should not merely be rid of what you do not want; you should not only be a
"freeman," you should be an "owner" too.
Free Q from what? Oh! what is there that cannot be shaken off? The yoke of
serfdom, of sovereignty, of aristocracy and princes, the dominion of the
desires and passions; yes, even the dominion of one's own will, of
self-will, for the completest self-denial is nothing but freedom Q freedom,
to wit, from self-determination, from one's own self. And the craving for
freedom as for something absolute, worthy of every praise, deprived us of
ownness: it created self-denial. However, the freer I become, the more
compulsion piles up before my eyes; and the more impotent I feel myself.
The unfree son of the wilderness does not yet feel anything of all the
limits that crowd a civilized man: he seems to himself freer than this
latter. In the measure that I conquer freedom for myself I create for
myself new bounds and new tasks: if I have invented railroads, I feel
myself weak again because I cannot yet sail through the skies like the
bird;3 and, if I have solved a problem whose obscurity disturbed my mind,
at once there await me innumerable others, whose perplexities impede my
progress, dim my free gaze, make the limits of my freedom painfully
sensible to me. "Now that you have become free from sin, you have become
servants of righteousness."4 Republicans in their broad freedom, do they
not become servants of the law? How true Christian hearts at all times
longed to "become free," how they pined to see themselves delivered from
the "bonds of this earth-life"! They looked out toward the land of freedom.
("The Jerusalem that is above is the freewoman; she is the mother of us
all." Gal. 4. 26.)
Being free from anything Q means only being clear or rid. "He is free from
headache" is equal to "he is rid of it." "He is free from this prejudice"
is equal to "he has never conceived it" or "he has got rid of it." In
"less" we complete the freedom recommended by Christianity, in sinless,
godless, moralityless, etc.
Freedom is the doctrine of Christianity. "Ye, dear brethren, are called to
freedom."5 "So speak and so do, as those who are to be judged by the law of
Must we then, because freedom betrays itself as a Christian ideal, give it
up? No, nothing is to be lost, freedom no more than the rest; but it is to
become our own, and in the form of freedom it cannot.
What a difference between freedom and ownness! One can get rid of a great
many things, one yet does not get rid of all; one becomes free from much,
not from everything. Inwardly one may be free in spite of the condition of
slavery, although, too, it is again only from all sorts of things, not from
everything; but from the whip, the domineering temper, of the master, one
does not as slave become free. "Freedom lives only in the realm of
dreams!'' Ownness, on the contrary, is my whole being and existence, it is
I myself. I am free from what I am rid of, owner of what I have in my power
or what I control. My own I am at all times and under all circumstances, if
I know how to have myself and do not throw myself away on others. To be
free is something that I cannot truly will, because I cannot make it,
cannot create it: I can only wish it and Q aspire toward it, for it remains
an ideal, a spook. The fetters of reality cut the sharpest welts in my
flesh every moment. But my own I remain. Given up as serf to a master, I
think only of myself and my advantage; his blows strike me indeed, I am not
free from them; but I endure them only for my benefit, perhaps in order to
deceive him and make him secure by the semblance of patience, or, again,
not to draw worse upon myself by contumacy. But, as I keep my eye on myself
and my selfishness, I take by the forelock the first good opportunity to
trample the slaveholder into the dust. That I then become free from him and
his whip is only the consequence of my antecedent egoism. Here one perhaps
says I was "free" even in the condition of slavery Q to wit,
"intrinsically" or "inwardly." But "intrinsically free" is not "really
free," and "inwardly" is not "outwardly." I was own, on the other hand, my
own, altogether, inwardly and outwardly. Under the dominion of a cruel
master my body is not "free" from torments and lashes; but it is my bones
that moan under the torture, my fibres that quiver under the blows, and I
moan because my body moans. That I sigh and shiver proves that I have not
yet lost myself, that I am still my own. My leg is not "free" from the
master's stick, but it is my leg and is inseparable. Let him tear it off me
and look and see if he still has my leg! He retains in his hand nothing but
the Q corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg as a dead dog is still a
dog: a dog has a pulsating heart, a so-called dead dog has none and is
therefore no longer a dog.
If one opines that a slave may yet be inwardly free, he says in fact only
the most indisputable and trivial thing. For who is going to assert that
any man is wholly without freedom? If I am an eye-servant, can I therefore
not be free from innumerable things, from faith in Zeus, from the desire
for fame, and the like? Why then should not a whipped slave also be able to
be inwardly free from un-Christian sentiments, from hatred of his enemy,
etc.? He then has "Christian freedom," is rid of the un-Christian; but has
he absolute freedom, freedom from everything, as from the Christian
delusion, or from bodily pain?
In the meantime, all this seems to be said more against names than against
the thing. But is the name indifferent, and has not a word, a shibboleth,
always inspired and Q fooled men? Yet between freedom and ownness there
lies still a deeper chasm than the mere difference of the words.
All the world desires freedom, all long for its reign to come. Oh,
enchantingly beautiful dream of a blooming "reign of freedom," a "free
human race"! Q who has not dreamed it? So men shall become free, entirely
free, free from all constraint! From all constraint, really from all? Are
they never to put constraint on themselves any more? "Oh yes, that, of
course; don't you see, that is no constraint at all?" Well, then at any
rate they - are to become free from religious faith, from the strict duties
of morality, from the inexorability of the law, from Q "What a fearful
misunderstanding!" Well, what are they to be free from then, and what not?
The lovely dream is dissipated; awakened, one rubs his half-opened eyes and
stares at the prosaic questioner. "What men are to be free from?" Q From
blind credulity, cries one. What's that? exclaims another, all faith is
blind credulity; they must become free from all faith. No, no, for God's
sake Q inveighs the first again Q do not cast all faith from you, else the
power of brutality breaks in. We must have the republic Q a third makes
himself heard Q and become Q free from all commanding lords. There is no
help in that, says a fourth: we only get a new lord then, a "dominant
majority"; let us rather free ourselves from this dreadful inequality. Q O,
hapless equality, already I hear your plebeian roar again! How I had
dreamed so beautifully just now of a paradise of freedom, and what Q
impudence and licentiousness now raises its wild clamour! Thus the first
laments, and gets on his feet to grasp the sword against "unmeasured
freedom." Soon we no longer hear anything but the clashing of the swords of
the disagreing dreamers of freedom.
What the craving for freedom has always come to has been the desire for a
particular freedom, such as freedom of faith; the believing man wanted to
be free and independent; of what? of faith perhaps? no! but of the
inquisitors of faith. So now "political or civil" freedom. The citizen
wants to become free not from citizenhood, but from bureaucracy, the
arbitrariness of princes, and the like. Prince Metternich7 once said he had
"found a way that was adapted to guide men in the path of genuine freedom
for all the future." The Count of Provence8 ran away from France precisely
at the time when she was preparing the "reign of freedom," and said: "My
imprisonment had become intolerable to me; I had only one passion, the
desire for freedom; I thought only of it."
The craving for a particular freedom always includes the purpose of a new
dominion, as it was with the Revolution, which indeed "could give its
defenders the uplifting feeling that they were fighting for freedom," but
in truth only because they were after a particular freedom, therefore a new
dominion, the "dominion of the law."
Freedom you all want, you want freedom. Why then do you haggle over a more
or less? Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a piece of freedom is
not freedom. You despair of the possibility of obtaining the whole of
freedom, freedom from everything Q yes, you consider it insanity even to
wish this? Q Well, then leave off chasing after the phantom, and spend your
pains on something better than the - unattainable.
"Ah, but there is nothing better than freedom!"
What have you then when you have freedom Q for I will not speak here of
your piecemeal bits of freedom Q complete freedom? Then you are rid of
everything that embarrasses you, everything, and there is probably nothing
that does not once in your life embarrass you and cause you inconvenience.
And for whose sake, then, did you want to be rid of it? Doubtless for your
sake, because it is in your way! But, if something were not inconvenient to
you; if, on the contrary, it were quite to your mind (such as the gently
but irresistibly commanding look of your loved one) Q then you would not
want to be rid of it and free from it. Why not? For your sake again! So you
take yourselves as measure and judge over all. You gladly let freedom go
when unfreedom, the "sweet service of love," suits you; and you take up
your freedom again on occasion when it begins to suit you better Q that is,
supposing, which is not the point here, that you are not afraid of such a
Repeal of the Union for other (perhaps religious) reasons.
Why will you not take courage now to really make yourselves the central
point and the main thing altogether? Why grasp in the air at freedom, your
dream? Are you your dream? Do not begin by inquiring of your dreams, your
notions, your thoughts, for that is all "hollow theory." Ask yourselves and
ask after yourselves Q that is practical, and you know you want very much
to be "practical." But there the one hearkens what his God (of course what
he thinks of at the name God is his God) may be going to say to it, and
another what his moral feelings, his conscience, his feeling of duty, may
determine about it, and a third calculates what folks will think of it Q
and, when each has thus asked his Lord God (folks are a Lord God just as
good as, nay, even more compact than, the other-worldly and imaginary one:
vox populi, vox dei), then he accommodates himself to his Lord's will and
listens no more at all for what he himself would like to say and decide.
Therefore turn to yourselves rather than to your gods or idols. Bring out
from yourselves what is in you, bring it to the light, bring yourselves to
How one acts only from himself, and asks after nothing further, the
Christians have realized in the notion "God." He acts "as it pleases him."
And foolish man, who could do just so, is to act as it "pleases God"
instead. Q If it is said that even God proceeds according to eternal laws,
that too fits me, since I too cannot get out of my skin, but have my law in
my whole nature, in myself.
But one needs only admonish you of yourselves to bring you to despair at
once. "What am I?" each of you asks himself. An abyss of lawless and
unregulated impulses, desires, wishes, passions, a chaos without light or
guiding star! How am I to obtain a correct answer, if, without regard to
God's commandments or to the duties which morality prescribes, without
regard to the voice of reason, which in the course of history, after bitter
experiences, has exalted the best and most reasonable thing into law, I
simply appeal to myself? My passion would advise me to do the most
senseless thing possible. Q Thus each deems himself the Q devil; for, if,
so far as he is unconcerned about religion, he only deemed himself a beast,
he would easily find that the beast, which does follow only its impulse (as
it were, its advice), does not advise and impel itself to do the "most
senseless" things, but takes very correct steps. But the habit of the
religious way of thinking has biased our mind so grievously that we are Q
terrified at ourselves in our nakedness and naturalness; it has degraded us
so that we deem ourselves depraved by nature, born devils. Of course it
comes into your head at once that your calling requires you to do the
"good," the moral, the right. Now, if you ask yourselves what is to be
done, how can the right voice sound forth from you, the voice which points
the way of the good, the right, the true? What concord have God and Belial?
But what would you think if one answered you by saying: "That one is to
listen to God, conscience, duties, laws, and so forth, is flim-flam with
which people have stuffed your head and heart and made you crazy"? And if
he asked you how it is that you know so surely that the voice of nature is
a seducer? And if he even demanded of you to turn the thing about and
actually to deem the voice of God and conscience to be the devil's work?
There are such graceless men; how will you settle them? You cannot appeal
to your parsons, parents, and good men, for precisely these are designated
by them as your seducers, as the true seducers and corrupters of youth, who
busily sow broadcast the tares of self-contempt and reverence to God, who
fill young hearts with mud and young heads with stupidity.
But now those people go on and ask: For whose sake do you care about God's
and the other commandments? You surely do not suppose that this is done
merely out of complaisance toward God? No, you are doing it Q for your sake
again. Q Here too, therefore, you are the main thing, and each must say to
himself, I am everything to myself and I do everything on my account. If it
ever became clear to you that God, the commandments, and so on, only harm
you, that they reduce and ruin you, to a certainty you would throw them
from you just as the Christians once condemned Apollo or Minerva or heathen
morality. They did indeed put in the place of these Christ and afterward
Mary, as well as a Christian morality; but they did this for the sake of
their souls' welfare too, therefore out of egoism or ownness.
And it was by this egoism, this ownness, that they got rid of the old world
of gods and became free from it. Ownness created a new freedom; for ownness
is the creator of everything, as genius (a definite ownness), which is
always originality, has for a long time already been looked upon as the
creator of new productions that have a place in the history of the world.
If your efforts are ever to make "freedom" the issue, then exhaust
freedom's demands. Who is it that is to become free? You, I, we. Free from
what? From everything that is not you, not I, not we. I, therefore, am the
kernel that is to be delivered from all wrappings and Q freed from all
cramping shells. What is left when I have been freed from everything that
is not I? Only I; nothing but I. But freedom has nothing to offer to this I
himself. As to what is now to happen further after I have become free,
freedom is silent Q as our governments, when the prisoner's time is up,
merely let him go, thrusting him out into abandonment.
Now why, if freedom is striven after for love of the I after all Q why not
choose the I himself as beginning, middle, and end? Am I not worth more
than freedom? Is it not I that make myself free, am not I the first? Even
unfree, even laid in a thousand fetters, I yet am; and I am not, like
freedom, extant only in the future and in hopes, but even as the most
abject of slaves I am Q present.
Think that over well, and decide whether you will place on your banner the
dream of "freedom" or the resolution of "egoism," of "ownness." "Freedom"
awakens your rage against everything that is not you; "egoism" calls you to
joy over yourselves, to self-enjoyment; "freedom" is and remains a longing,
a romantic plaint, a Christian hope for unearthliness and futurity;
"ownness" is a reality, which of ifself removes just so much unfreedom as
by barring your own way hinders you. What does not disturb you, you will
not want to renounce; and, if it begins to disturb you, why, you know that
"you must obey yourselves rather than men!"
Freedom teaches only: Get yourselves rid, relieve yourselves, of everything
burdensome; it does not teach you who you yourselves are. Rid, rid! so
call, get rid even of yourselves, "deny yourselves." But ownness calls you
back to yourselves, it says "Come to yourself!" Under the aegis of freedom
you get rid of many kinds of things, but something new pinches you again:
"you are rid of the Evil One; evil is left."9 As own you are really rid of
everything, and what clings to you you have accepted; it is your choice and
your pleasure. The own man is the free-born, the man free to begin with;
the free man, on the contrary, is only the eleutheromaniac, the dreamer and
The former is originally free, because he recognizes nothing but himself;
he does not need to free himself first, because at the start he rejects
everything outside himself, because he prizes nothing more than himself,
rates nothing higher, because, in short, he starts from himself and "comes
to himself." Constrained by childish respect, he is nevertheless already
working at "freeing" himself from this constraint. Ownness works in the
little egoist, and procures him the desired Q freedom.
Thousands of years of civilization have obscured to you what you are, have
made you believe you are not egoists but are called to be idealists ("good
men"). Shake that off! Do not seek for freedom, which does precisely
deprive you of yourselves, in "self-denial"; but seek for yourselves,
become egoists, become each of you an almighty ego. Or, more clearly: Just
recognize yourselves again, just recognize what you really are, and let go
your hypocritical endeavours, your foolish mania to be something else than
you are. Hypocritical I call them because you have yet remained egoists all
these thousands of years, but sleeping, self-deceiving, crazy egoists, you
Heautontimorumenoses, you self-tormentors. Never yet has a religion been
able to dispense with "promises," whether they referred us to the other
world or to this ("long life," etc.); for man is mercenary and does nothing
"gratis." But how about that "doing the good for the good's sake" without
prospect of reward? As if here too the pay was not contained in the
satisfaction that it is to afford. Even religion, therefore, is founded on
our egoism and Q exploits it; calculated for our desires, it stifles many
others for the sake of one. This then gives the phenomenon of cheated
egoism, where I satisfy, not myself, but one of my desires, such as the
impulse toward blessedness. Religion promises me the Q "supreme good"; to
gain this I no longer regard any other of my desires, and do not slake
them. Q All your doings are unconfessed, secret, covert, and concealed
egoism. But because they are egoism that you are unwilling to confess to
yourselves, that you keep secret from yourselves, hence not manifest and
public egoism, consequently unconscious egoism Q therefore they are not
egoism, but thraldom, service, self-renunciation; you are egoists, and you
are not, since you renounce egoism. Where you seem most to be such, you
have drawn upon the word "egoist" Q loathing and contempt.
I secure my freedom with regard to the world in the degree that I make the
world my own, "gain it and take possession of it" for myself, by whatever
might, by that of persuasion, of petition, of categorical demand, yes, even
by hypocrisy, cheating, etc.; for the means that I use for it are
determined by what I am. If I am weak, I have only weak means, like the
aforesaid, which yet are good enough for a considerable part of the world.
Besides, cheating, hypocrisy, lying, look worse than they are. Who has not
cheated the police, the law? Who has not quickly taken on an air of
honourable loyalty before the sheriff's officer who meets him, in order to
conceal an illegality that may have been committed? He who has not done it
has simply let violence be done to him; he was a weakling from Q
conscience. I know that my freedom is diminished even by my not being able
to carry out my will on another object, be this other something without
will, like a rock, or something with will, like a government, an
individual; I deny my ownness when Q in presence of another Q I give myself
up, give way, desist, submit; therefore by loyalty, submission. For it is
one thing when I give up my previous course because it does not lead to the
goal, and therefore turn out of a wrong road; it is another when I yield
myself a prisoner. I get around a rock that stands in my way, till I have
powder enough to blast it; I get around the laws of a people, till I have
gathered strength to overthrow them. Because I cannot grasp the moon, is it
therefore to be "sacred" to me, an Astarte? If I only could grasp you, I
surely would, and, if I only find a means to get up to you, you shall not
frighten me! You inapprehensible one, you shall remain inapprehensible to
me only till I have acquired the might for apprehension and call you my
own; I do not give myself up before you, but only bide my time. Even if for
the present I put up with my inability to touch you, I yet remember it
against you.
Vigorous men have always done so. When the "loyal" had exalted an unsubdued
power to be their master and had adored it, when they had demanded
adoration from all, then there came some such son of nature who would not
loyally submit, and drove the adored power from its inaccessible Olympus.
He cried his "Stand still" to the rolling sun, and made the earth go round;
the loyal had to make the best of it; he laid his axe to the sacred oaks,
and the "loyal" were astonished that no heavenly fire consumed him; he
threw the pope off Peter's chair, and the "loyal" had no way to hinder it;
he is tearing down the divine-right business, and the "loyal" croak in
vain, and at last are silent.
My freedom becomes complete only when it is my Q might; but by this I cease
to be a merely free man, and become an own man. Why is the freedom of the
peoples a "hollow word"? Because the peoples have no might! With a breath
of the living ego I blow peoples over, be it the breath of a Nero, a
Chinese emperor, or a poor writer. Why is it that the G. . . . .10
legislatures pine in vain for freedom, and are lectured for it by the
cabinet ministers? Because they are not of the "mighty"! Might is a fine
thing, and useful for many purposes; for "one goes further with a handful
of might than with a bagful of right." You long for freedom? You fools! If
you took might, freedom would come of itself. See, he who has might "stands
above the law." How does this prospect taste to you, you "law-abiding"
people? But you have no taste!
The cry for "freedom" rings loudly all around. But is it felt and known
what a donated or chartered freedom must mean? It is not recognized in the
full amplitude of the word that all freedom is essentially Q
self-liberation Q that I can have only so much freedom as I procure for
myself by my ownness. Of what use is it to sheep that no one abridges their
freedom of speech? They stick to bleating. Give one who is inwardly a
Mohammedan, a Jew, or a Christian, permission to speak what he likes: he
will yet utter only narrow-minded stuff. If, on the contrary, certain
others rob you of the freedom of speaking and hearing, they know quite
rightly wherein lies their temporary advantage, as you would perhaps be
able to say and hear something whereby those "certain" persons would lose
their credit.
If they nevertheless give you freedom, they are simply knaves who give more
than they have. For then they give you nothing of their own, but stolen
wares: they give you your own freedom, the freedom that you must take for
yourselves; and they give it to you only that you may not take it and call
the thieves and cheats to an account to boot. In their slyness they know
well that given (chartered) freedom is no freedom, since only the freedom
one takes for himself, therefore the egoist's freedom, rides with full
sails. Donated freedom strikes its sails as soon as there comes a storm Q
or calm; it requires always a Q gentle and moderate breeze.
Here lies the difference between self-liberation and emancipation
(manumission, setting free). Those who today "stand in the opposition" are
thirsting and screaming to be "set free." The princes are to "declare their
peoples of age," that is, emancipate them! Behave as if you were of age,
and you are so without any declaration of majority; if you do not behave
accordingly, you are not worthy of it, and would never be of age even by a
declaration of majority. When the Greeks were of age, they drove out their
tyrants, and, when the son is of age, he makes himself independent of his
father. If the Greeks had waited till their tyrants graciously allowed them
their majority, they might have waited long. A sensible father throws out a
son who will not come of age, and keeps the house to himself; it serves the
noodle right.
The man who is set free is nothing but a freed man, a libertinus, a dog
dragging a piece of chain with him: he is an unfree man in the garment of
freedom, like the ass in the lion's skin. Emancipated Jews are nothing
bettered in themselves, but only relieved as Jews, although he who relieves
their condition is certainly more than a churchly Christian, as the latter
cannot do this without inconsistency. But, emancipated or not emancipated,
Jew remains Jew; he who is not self-freed is merely an Q emancipated man.
The Protestant State can certainly set free (emancipate) the Catholics;
but, because they do not make themselves free, they remain simply Q
Selfishness and unselfishness have already been spoken of. The friends of
freedom are exasperated against selfishness because in their religious
striving after freedom they cannot Q free themselves from that sublime
thing, "self-renunciation." The liberal's anger is directed against egoism,
for the egoist, you know, never takes trouble about a thing for the sake of
the thing, but for his sake: the thing must serve him. It is egoistic to
ascribe to no thing a value of its own, an "absolute" value, but to seek
its value in me. One often hears that pot-boiling study which is so common
counted among the most repulsive traits of egoistic behaviour, because it
manifests the most shameful desecration of science; but what is science for
but to be consumed? If one does not know how to use it for anything better
than to keep the pot boiling, then his egoism is a petty one indeed,
because this egoist's power is a limited power; but the egoistic element in
it, and the desecration of science, only a possessed man can blame.
Because Christianity, incapable of letting the individual count as an
ego,11 thought of him only as a dependent, and was properly nothing but a
social theory Q a doctrine of living together, and that of man with God as
well as of man with man Q therefore in it everything "own" must fall into
most woeful disrepute: selfishness, self-will, ownness, self-love, and the
like. The Christian way of looking at things has on all sides gradually
re-stamped honourable words into dishonourable; why should they not be
brought into honour again? So Schimpf (contumely) is in its old sense
equivalent to jest, but for Christian seriousness pastime became a
dishonour,12 for that seriousness cannot take a joke; frech (impudent)
formerly meant only bold, brave; Frevel (wanton outrage) was only daring.
It is well known how askance the word "reason" was looked at for a long
Our language has settled itself pretty well to the Christian stand-point,
and the general consciousness is still too Christian not to shrink in
terror from everything un-Christian as from something incomplete or evil.
Therefore "selfishness" is in a bad way too.
Selfishness,13 in the Christian sense, means something like this: I look
only to see whether anything is of use to me as a sensual man. But is
sensuality then the whole of my ownness? Am I in my own senses when I am
given up to sensuality? Do I follow myself, my own determination, when I
follow that? I am my own only when I am master of myself, instead of being
mastered either by sensuality or by anything else (God, man, authority,
law, State, Church); what is of use to me, this self-owned or
self-appertaining one, my selfishness pursues.
Besides, one sees himself every moment compelled to believe in that
constantly-blasphemed selfishness as an all-controlling power. In the
session of February 10, 1844, Welcker14 argues a motion on the dependence
of the judges, and sets forth in a detailed speech that removable,
dismissable, transferable, and pensionable judges Q in short, such members
of a court of justice as can by mere administrative process be damaged and
endangered - are wholly without reliability, yes, lose all respect and all
confidence among the people. The whole bench, Welcker cries, is demoralized
by this dependence! In blunt words this means nothing else than that the
judges find it more to their advantage to give judgment as the ministers
would have them than to give it as the law would have them. How is that to
be helped? Perhaps by bringing home to the judges' hearts the
ignominiousness of their venality, and then cherishing the confidence that
they will repent and henceforth prize justice more highly than their
selfishness? No, the people does not soar to this romantic confidence, for
it feels that selfishness is mightier than any other motive. Therefore the
same persons who have been judges hitherto may remain so, however
thoroughly one has convinced himself that they behaved as egoists; only
they must not any longer find their selfishness favoured by the venality of
justice, but must stand so independent of the government that by a judgment
in conformity with the facts they do not throw into the shade their own
cause, their "well-understood interest," but rather secure a comfortable
combination of a good salary with respect among the citizens.
So Welcker and the commoners of Baden consider themselves secured only when
they can count on selfishness. What is one to think, then, of the countless
phrases of unselfishness with which their mouths overflow at other times?
To a cause which I am pushing selfishly I have another relation than to one
which I am serving unselfishly. The following criterion might be cited for
it; against the one I can sin or commit a sin, the other I can only trifle
away, push from me, deprive myself of - commit an imprudence. Free trade is
looked at in both ways, being regarded partly as a freedom which may under
certain circumstances be granted or withdrawn, partly as one which is to be
held sacred under all circumstances.
If I am not concerned about a thing in and for itself, and do not desire it
for its own sake, then I desire it solely as a means to an end, for its
usefulness; for the sake of another end, as in oysters for a pleasant
flavour. Now will not every thing whose final end he himself is, serve the
egoist as means? And is he to protect a thing that serves him for nothing Q
for example, the proletarian to protect the State?
Ownness includes in itself everything own, and brings to honour again what
Christian language dishonoured. But ownness has not any alien standard
either, as it is not in any sense an idea like freedom, morality, humanity,
and the like: it is only a description of the Q owner.
1 (This is a literal translation of the German word Eigenheit, which, with
its primitive eigen, "own," is used in this chapter in a way that the
German dictionaries do not quite recognize. The author's conception being
new, he had to make an innovation in the German language to express it. The
translator is under the like necessity. In most passages "self-ownership,"
or else "personality," would translate the word, but there are some where
the thought is so eigen, that is, so peculiar or so thoroughly the author's
own, that no English word I can think of would express it. It will explain
itself to one who has read Part First intelligently.)
2 (Eigenheit )
3 [Even the achievement of flight through space has not dimmed Stirner's
point; contemporary physicists and astronomers describe with anguish the
staggering difficulties in the way of reaching even the nearest star.]
4 Rom. 6. 18.
5 1 Pet. 2. 16.
6 James 2. 12.
7 [Metternich (1773-1859). a minister in various capacities under Austrian
emperors between the time of Napoleon and the Revolutions of 1848, was the
very symbol of reaction to Stirner's Liberal contemporaries, mainly as a
consequence of his grim resistance to the extension of political democracy
within the Austrian Empire.]
8 [Brother of Louis XVI of France, who fled the country in the days after
the uprising of the Paris mob which stormed the Bastille in July, 1789]
9 (See note 84, previous chapter.)
10 (Meaning "German." Written in this form because of the censorship.) [The
legislatures of the various German states in the 1840s were relatively
powerless, and their demands for a larger voice in the conduct of public
policy usually brought serious reproaches from the administrative ministers
of state appointed by the princes who controlled executive power. The issue
was so touchy in 1843-1844 that even Stirner tip-toed around it, for fear
his work might be confiscated upon publication, for even mentioning the
subject. According to Mackay, Der Einzige actually was impounded by the
Saxon Ministry of the Interior for a short time following its publication,
but was soon released; perhaps no censor in the Ministry was capable of
understanding it.]
11 (Einzige )
12 (I take Entbehrung, "destitution," to be a misprint for Entehrung.) [The
1892 (Reclam) edition reprinted this error.]
13 (Eigennutz, literally "own-use.")
14 [Karl Theodor Welcker (1790-1869), a prominent German liberal, teacher
and student of law, a member of the Baden legislature for a time beginning
in 1831. He was a widely-known and controversial fighter for freedom of the
press. See his Die vollkommene und ganze Pressfreiheit  (Freiburg, 1830),
and, jointly, with Wilhelm Schulz, Die geheime Inquisition; die Censur und
Kabinetsjustiz im verderblichen Bunde  (Karlsruhe, 1845).]


The Owner

I Q do I come to myself and mine through liberalism? Whom does the liberal
look upon as his equal? Man! Be only man Q and that you are anyway Q and
the liberal calls you his brother. He asks very little about your private
opinions and private follies, if only he can espy "Man" in you.
But, as he takes little heed of what you are privatim Q nay, in a strict
following out of his principle sets no value at all on it Q he sees in you
only what you are generatim. In other words, he sees in you, not you, but
the species; not Tom or Jim, but Man; not the real or unique one,1 but your
essence or your concept; not the bodily man, but the spirit.
As Tom you would not be his equal, because he is Jim, therefore not Tom; as
man you are the same that he is. And, since as Tom you virtually do not
exist at all for him (so far, to wit, as he is a liberal and not
unconsciously an egoist), he has really made "brother-love" very easy for
himself: he loves in you not Tom, of whom he knows nothing and wants to
know nothing, but Man.
To see in you and me nothing further than "men," that is running the
Christian way of looking at things, according to which one is for the other
nothing but a concept (a man called to salvation, for instance), into the
Christianity properly so called gathers us under a less utterly general
concept: there we are "sons of God" and "led by the Spirit of God."2 Yet
not all can boast of being God's sons, but "the same Spirit which witnesses
to our spirit that we are sons of God reveals also who are the sons of the
devil."3 Consequently, to be a son of God one must not be a son of the
devil; the sonship of God excluded certain men. To be sons of men Q that
is, men Q on the contrary, we need nothing but to belong to the human
species, need only to be specimens of the same species. What I am as this I
is no concern of yours as a good liberal, but is my private affair alone;
enough that we are both sons of one and the same mother, to wit, the human
species: as "a son of man" I am your equal.
What am I now to you? Perhaps this bodily I as I walk and stand? Anything
but that. This bodily I, with its thoughts, decisions, and passions, is in
your eyes a "private affair" which is no concern of yours: it is an "affair
by itself." As an "affair for you" there exists only my concept, my generic
concept, only the Man, who, as he is called Tom, could just as well be Joe
or Dick. You see in me not me, the bodily man, but an unreal thing, the
spook, a Man.
In the course of the Christian centuries we declared the most various
persons to be "our equals," but each time in the measure of that spirit
which we expected from them Q each one in whom the spirit of the need of
redemption may be assumed, then later each one who has the spirit of
integrity, finally each one who shows a human spirit and a human face. Thus
the fundamental principle of "equality" varied.
Equality being now conceived as equality of the human spirit, there has
certainly been discovered an equality that includes all men; for who could
deny that we men have a human spirit, that is, no other than a human!
But are we on that account further on now than in the beginning of
Christianity? Then we were to have a divine spirit, now a human; but, if
the divine did not exhaust us, how should the human wholly express what we
are? Feuerbach thinks, that if he humanizes the divine, he has found the
truth. No, if God has given us pain, "Man" is capable of pinching us still
more torturingly. The long and the short of it is this: that we are men is
the slightest thing about us, and has significance only in so far as it is
one of our qualities,4 our property.5 I am indeed among other things a man,
as I am a living being, therefore an animal, or a European, a Berliner, and
the like; but he who chose to have regard for me only as a man, or as a
Berliner, would pay me a regard that would be very unimportant to me. And
wherefore? Because he would have regard only for one of my qualities, not
for me.
It is just so with the spirit too. A Christian spirit, an upright spirit, and the 
like may well be my acquired quality, my property, but I am not this spirit: 
it is mine, not I its.
Hence we have in liberalism only the continuation of the old Christian
depreciation of the I, the bodily Tom. Instead of taking me as I am, one
looks solely at my property, my qualities, and enters into marriage bonds
with me only for the sake of my Q possessions; one marries, as it were,
what I have, not what I am. The Christian takes hold of my spirit, the
liberal of my humanity.
But, if the spirit, which is not regarded as the property of the bodily ego
but as the proper ego itself, is a ghost, then the Man too, who is not
recognized as my quality but as the proper I, is nothing but a spook, a
thought, a concept.
Therefore the liberal too revolves in the same circle as the Christian.
Because the spirit of mankind, Man, dwells in you, you are a man, as when
the spirit of Christ dwells in you you are a Christian; but, because it
dwells in you only as a second ego, even though it be as your proper or
"better" ego, it remains otherworldly to you, and you have to strive to
become wholly man. A striving just as fruitless as the Christian's to
become wholly a blessed spirit!
One can now, after liberalism has proclaimed Man, declare openly that
herewith was only completed the consistent carrying out of Christianity,
and that in truth Christianity set itself no other task from the start than
to realize "man," the "true man." Hence, then, the illusion that
Christianity ascribes an infinite value to the ego (as in the doctrine of
immortality, in the cure of souls, etc.) comes to light. No, it assigns
this value to Man alone. Only Man is immortal, and only because I am Man am
I too immortal. In fact, Christianity had to teach that no one is lost,
just as liberalism too puts all on an equality as men; but that eternity,
like this equality, applied only to the Man in me, not to me. Only as the
bearer and harbourer of Man do I not die, as notoriously "the king never
dies." Louis dies, but the king remains; I die, but my spirit, Man,
remains. To identify me now entirely with Man the demand has been invented,
and stated, that I must become a "real generic being."6
The human religion is only the last metamorphosis of the Christian
religion. For liberalism is a religion because it separates my essence from
me and sets it above me, because it exalts "Man" to the same extent as any
other religion does its God or idol, because it makes what is mine into
something otherworldly, because in general it makes out of what is mine,
out of my qualities and my property, something alien Q to wit, an
"essence"; in short, because it sets me beneath Man, and thereby creates
for me a "vocation." But liberalism declares itself a religion in form too
when it demands for this supreme being, Man, a zeal of faith, "a faith that
some day will at last prove its fiery zeal too, a zeal that will be
invincible."7 But, as liberalism is a human religion, its professor takes a
tolerant attitude toward the professor of any other (Catholic, Jewish,
etc.), as Frederick the Great8 did toward every one who performed his
duties as a subject, whatever fashion of becoming blest he might be
inclined toward. This religion is now to be raised to the rank of the
generally customary one, and separated from the others as mere "private
follies," toward which, besides, one takes a highly liberal attitude on
account of their unessentialness.
One may call it the State-religion, the religion of the "free State," not
in the sense hitherto current that it is the one favoured or privileged by
the State, but as that religion which the "free State" not only has the
right, but is compelled, to demand from each of those who belong to it, let
him be privatim a Jew, a Christian, or anything else. For it does the same
service to the State as filial piety to the family. If the family is to be
recognized and maintained, in its existing condition, by each one of those
who belong to it, then to him the tie of blood must be sacred, and his
feeling for it must be that of piety, of respect for the ties of blood, by
which every blood-relation becomes to him a consecrated person. So also to
every member of the State-community this community must be sacred, and the
concept which is the highest to the State must likewise be the highest to
But what concept is the highest to the State? Doubtless that of being a
really human society, a society in which every one who is really a man,
that is, not an un-man, can obtain admission as a member. Let a State's
tolerance go ever so far, toward an un-man and toward what is inhuman it
ceases. And yet this "un-man" is a man, yet the "inhuman" itself is
something human, yes, possible only to a man, not to any beast; it is, in
fact, something "possible to man." But, although every un-man is a man, yet
the State excludes him; it locks him up, or transforms him from a fellow of
the State into a fellow of the prison (fellow of the lunatic asylum or
hospital, according to Communism).
To say in blunt words what an un-man is is not particularly hard: it is a
man who does not correspond to the concept man, as the inhuman is something
human which is not conformed to the concept of the human. Logic calls this
a "self-contradictory judgment." Would it be permissible for one to
pronounce this judgment, that one can be a man without being a man, if he
did not admit the hypothesis that the concept of man can be separated from
the existence, the essence from the appearance? They say, he appears indeed
as a man, but is not a man.
Men have passed this "self-contradictory judgment" through a long line of
centuries! Nay, what is still more, in this long time there were only Q
un-men. What individual can have corresponded to his concept? Christianity
knows only one Man, and this one - Christ Q is at once an un-man again in
the reverse sense, to wit, a superhuman man, a "God." Only the Q un-man is
a real man.
Men that are not men, what should they be but ghosts? Every real man,
because he does not correspond to the concept "man," or because he is not a
"generic man," is a spook. But do I still remain an un-man even if I bring
Man (who towered above me and remained otherworldly to me only as my ideal,
my task, my essence or concept) down to be my quality, my own and inherent
in me; so that Man is nothing else than my humanity, my human existence,
and everything that I do is human precisely because I do it, but not
because it corresponds to the concept "man"? I am really Man and the un-man
in one; for I am a man and at the same time more than a man; I am the ego
of this my mere quality.
It had to come to this at last, that it was no longer merely demanded of us
to be Christians, but to become men; for, though we could never really
become even Christians, but always remained "poor sinners" (for the
Christian was an unattainable ideal too), yet in this the contradictoriness
did not come before our consciousness so, and the illusion was easier than
now when of us, who are men act humanly (yes, cannot do otherwise than be
such and act so), the demand is made that we are to be men, "real men."
Our States of today, because they still have all sorts of things sticking
to them, left from their churchly mother, do indeed load those who belong
to them with various obligations (such as churchly religiousness) which
properly do not a bit concern them, the States; yet on the whole they do
not deny their significance, .since they want to be looked upon as human
societies, in which man as man can be a member, even if he is less
privileged than other members; most of them admit adherence of every
religious sect, and receive people without distinction of race or nation:
Jews, Turks, Moors, etc., can become French citizens. In the act of
reception, therefore, the State looks only to see whether one is a man. The
Church, as a society of believers, could not receive every man into her
bosom; the State, as a society of men, can. But, when the State has carried
its principle clear through, of presupposing in its constituents nothing
but that they are men (even the North Americans still presuppose in theirs
that they have religion, at least the religion of integrity, of
responsibility), then it has dug its grave. While it will fancy that those
whom it possesses are without exception men, these have meanwhile become
without exception egoists, each of whom utilizes it according to his
egoistic powers and ends. Against the egoists "human society" is wrecked;
for they no longer have to do with each other as men, but appear
egoistically as an I against a You altogether different from me and in
opposition to me.
If the State must count on our humanity, it is the same if one says it must
count on our morality. Seeing Man in each other, and acting as men toward
each other, is called moral behaviour. This is every whit the "spiritual
love" of Christianity. For, if I see Man in you, as in myself I see Man and
nothing but Man, then I care for you as I would care for myself; for we
represent, you see, nothing but the mathematical proposition: A = C and B =
C, consequently A = B Q I nothing but man and you nothing but man,
consequently I and you the same. Morality is incompatible with egoism,
because the former does not allow validity to me, but only to the Man in
me. But, if the State is a society of men, not a union of egos each of whom
has only himself before his eyes, then it cannot last without morality, and
must insist on morality.
Therefore we two, the State and I, are enemies. I, the egoist, have not at
heart the welfare of this "human society," I sacrifice nothing to it, I
only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform it
rather into my property and my creature; that is, I annihilate it, and form
in its place the Union of Egoists.9
So the State betrays its enmity to me by demanding that I be a man, which
presupposes that I may also not be a man, but rank for it as an "un-man";
it imposes being a man upon me as a duty. Further, it desires me to do
nothing along with which it cannot last; so its permanence is to be sacred
for me. Then I am not to be an egoist, but a "respectable, upright," thus
moral, man. Enough: before it and its permanence I am to be impotent and
This State, not a present one indeed, but still in need of being first
created, is the ideal of advancing liberalism. There is to come into
existence a true "society of men," in which every "man" finds room.
Liberalism means to realize "Man," create a world for him; and this should
be the human world or the general (Communistic) society of men. It was
said, "The Church could regard only the spirit, the State s to regard the
whole man.''10 But is not "Man" "spirit"? The kernel of the State is simply
"Man," this unreality, and it itself is only a "society of men." The world
which the believer (believing spirit) creates is called Church, the world
which the man (human or humane spirit) creates is called State. But that is
not my world. I never execute anything human in the abstract, but always my
own things; my human act is diverse from every other human act, and only by
this diversity is it a real act belonging to me. The human in it is an
abstraction, and, as such, spirit, abstracted essence.
Bruno Bauer states (Judenfrage, p. 84) that the truth of criticism is the
final truth, and in fact the truth sought for by Christianity itself Q to
wit, "Man." He says, "The history of the Christian world is the history of
the supreme fight for truth, for in it Q and in it only! Q the thing at
issue is the discovery of the final or the primal truth Q man and freedom."
All right, let us accept this gain, and let us take man as the ultimately
found result of Christian history and of the religious or ideal efforts of
man in general. Now, who is Man? I am! Man, the end and outcome of
Christianity, is, as I, the beginning and raw material of the new history,
a history of enjoyment after the history of sacrifices, a history not of
man or humanity, but of Q me. Man ranks as the general. Now then, I and the
egoistic are the really general, since every one is an egoist and of
paramount importance to himself. The Jewish is not the purely egoistic, beca
use the Jew still devotes himself to Jehovah; the Christian is not, because
the Christian lives on the grace of God and subjects himself to him. As Jew
and as Christian alike a man satisfies only certain of his wants, only a
certain need, not himself: a half-egoism, because the egoism of a half-man,
who is half he, half Jew, or half his own proprietor, half a slave.
Therefore, too, Jew and Christian always half-way exclude each other; as
men they recognize each other, as slaves they exclude each other, because
they are servants of two different masters. If they could be complete
egoists, they would exclude each other wholly and hold together so much the
more firmly. Their ignominy is not that they exclude each other, but that
this is done only half-way. Bruno Bauer, on the contrary, thinks Jews and
Christians cannot regard and treat each other as "men" till they give up
the separate essence which parts them and obligates them to eternal
separation, recognize the general essence of "Man," and regard this as
their "true essence."
According to his representation the defect of the Jews and the Christians
alike lies in their wanting to be and have something "particular" instead
of only being men and endeavouring after what is human Q to wit, the
"general rights of man." He thinks their fundamental error consists in the
belief that they are "privileged," possess "prerogatives"; in general, in
the belief in prerogative.11 In opposition to this he holds up to them the
general rights of man. The rights of man!  Q 
Man is man in general, and in so far every one who is a man. Now every one
is to have the eternal rights of man, and, according to the opinion of
Communism, enjoy them in the complete "democracy," or, as it ought more
correctly to be called Q anthropocracy. But it is I alone who have
everything that I Q procure for myself; as man I have nothing. People would
like to give every man an affluence of all good, merely because he has the
title "man." But I put the accent on me, not on my being man.
Man is something only as my quality12 (property),13 like masculinity or
femininity. The ancients found the ideal in one's being male in the full
sense; their virtue is virtus and arete Q manliness. What is one to think
of a woman who should want only to be perfectly "woman?" That is not given
to all, and many a one would therein be fixing for herself an unattainable
goal. Feminine, on the other hand, she is anyhow, by nature; femininity is
her quality, and she does not need "true femininity." I am a man just as
the earth is a star. As ridiculous as it would be to set the earth the task
of being a "thorough star," so ridiculous it is to burden me with the call
to be a "thorough man."
When Fichte says, "The ego is all," this seems to harmonize perfectly with
my thesis. But it is not that the ego is all, but the ego destroys all, and
only the self-dissolving ego, the never-being ego, the Q finite ego is
really I. Fichte speaks of the "absolute" ego, but I speak of me, the
transitory ego.
How natural is the supposition that man and ego mean the same! And yet one
sees, as by Feuerbach, that the expression "man" is to designate the
absolute ego, the species, not the transitory, individual ego. Egoism and
humanity (humaneness) ought to mean the same, but according to Feuerbach
the individual can "only lift himself above the limits of his
individuality, but not above the laws, the positive ordinances, of his
species.''14 But the species is nothing, and, if the individual lifts
himself above the limits of his individuality, this is rather his very self
as an individual; he exists only in raising himself, he exists only in not
remaining what he is; otherwise he would be done, dead. Man with the great
M is only an ideal, the species only something thought of. To be a man is
not to realize the ideal of Man, but to present oneself, the individual. It
is not how I realize the generally human that needs to be my task, but how
I satisfy myself. I am my species, am without norm, without law, without
model, and the like. It is possible that I can make very little out of
myself; but this little is everything, and is better than what I allow to
be made out of me by the might of others, by the training of custom,
religion, the laws, the State. Better Q if the talk is to be of better at
all Q better an unmannerly child than an old head on young shoulders,
better a mulish man than a man compliant in everything. The unmannerly and
mulish fellow is still on the way to form himself according to his own
will; the prematurely knowing and compliant one is determined by the
"species," the general demands Q the species is law to him. He is
determined15 by it; for what else is the species to him but his
''destiny,''16 his "calling"? Whether I look to "humanity," the species, in
order to strive toward this ideal, or to God and Christ with like
endeavour, where is the essential dissimilarity? At most the former is more
washed-out than the latter. As the individual is the whole of nature, so he
is the whole of the species too.
Everything that I do, think Q in short, my expression or manifestation Q is
indeed conditioned by what I am. The Jew can will only thus or thus, can
"present himself" only thus; the Christian can present and manifest himself
only Christianly, etc. If it were possible that you could be a Jew or
Christian, you would indeed bring out only what was Jewish or Christian;
but it is not possible; in the most rigourous conduct you yet remain an
egoist, a sinner against that concept Q you are not the precise equivalent
of Jew. Now, because the egoistic always keeps peeping through, people have
inquired for a more perfect concept which should really wholly express what
you are, and which, because it is your true nature, should contain all the
laws of your activity. The most perfect thing of the kind has been attained
in "Man." As a Jew you are too little, and the Jewish is not your task; to
be a Greek, a German, does not suffice. But be a Q man, then you have
everything; look upon the human as your calling.
Now I know what is expected of me, and the new catechism can be written.
The subject is again subjected to the predicate, the individual to
something general; the dominion is again secured to an idea, and the
foundation laid for a new religion. This is a step forward in the domain of
religion, and in particular of Christianity; not a step out beyond it.
To step out beyond it leads into the unspeakable. For me paltry language
has no word, and "the Word," the Logos, is to me a ''mere word."
My essence is sought for. If not the Jew, the German, then at any rate it
is Q the man. "Man is my essence."
I am repulsive or repugnant to myself; I have a horror and loathing of
myself, I am a horror to myself, or, I am never enough for myself and never
do enough to satisfy myself. From such feelings springs self-dissolution or
self-criticism. Religiousness begins with self-renunciation, ends with
completed criticism.
I am possessed, and want to get rid of the "evil spirit." How do I set
about it? I fearlessly commit the sin that seems to the Christian the most
dire, the sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "He who blasphemes the
Holy Spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is liable to the eternal
judgment!''17 I want no forgiveness, and am not afraid of the judgment.
Man is the last evil spirit or spook, the most deceptive or most intimate,
the craftiest liar with honest mien, the father of lies.
The egoist, turning against the demands and concepts of the present,
executes pitilessly the most measureless Q desecration. Nothing is holy to
It would be foolish to assert that there is no power above mine. Only the
attitude that I take toward it will be quite another than that of the
religious age: I shall be the enemy of - every higher power, while religion
teaches us to make it our friend and be humble toward it.
The desecrator puts forth his strength against every fear of God, for fear
of God would determine him in everything that he left standing as sacred.
Whether it is the God or the Man that exercises the hallowing power in the
God-man Q whether, therefore, anything is held sacred for God's sake or for
Man's (Humanity's) Q this does not change the fear of God, since Man is
revered as "supreme essence," as much as on the specifically religious
stand-point God as "supreme essence" calls for our fear and reverence; both
overawe us.
The fear of God in the proper sense was shaken long ago, and a more or less
conscious "atheism," externally recognizable by a wide-spread
"unchurchliness," has involuntarily become the mode. But what was taken
from God has been superadded to Man, and the power of humanity grew greater
in just the degree that that of piety lost weight: "Man" is the God of
today, and fear of Man has taken the place of the old fear of God.
But, because Man represents only another Supreme Being, nothing in fact has
taken place but a metamorphosis in the Supreme Being, and the fear of Man
is merely an altered form of the fear of God.
Our atheists are pious people.
If in the so-called feudal times we held everything as a fief from God, in
the liberal period the same feudal relation exists with Man. God was the
Lord, now Man is the Lord; God was the Mediator, now Man is; God was the
Spirit, now Man is. In this three fold regard the feudal relation has
experienced a transformation. For now, firstly, we a fief from
all-powerful Man our power, which, because it comes from a higher, is not
called power or might, but "right" Q the "rights of man"; we further hold
as a fief from him our position in the world, for he, the mediator,
mediates our intercourse with others, which therefore may not be otherwise
than "human"; finally, we hold as a fief from him ourselves Q to wit, our
own value, or all that we are worth Q inasmuch as we are worth nothing when
he does not dwell in us, and when or where we are not "human." The power is
Man's, the world is Man's, I am Man's.
But am I not still unrestrained from declaring myself the entitler, the
mediator, and the own self? Then it runs thus:

		My power is my  property.
		My power gives  me property.
		My power am  I myself, and through it am I my property.

A. - My Power

Right18 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 Q 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, for
instance, 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 Q 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. Th
e family is entitled to this, and in its name the father; I as Ego am not.
The Vossische Zeitung19presents 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 (for example, 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 Q 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, when he lives according to society's statutes
and so is Q loyal. Whether I am loyal under a despotism or in a "society" a
la Weitling,20 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, therefore,
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, for instance,
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, and so on, no right at all. Altogether, this entire
revolutionary or Babouvist principle21 rests on a religious, that is,
false, view of things. Who can ask after "right" if he does not occupy the
religious stand-point himself? Is not "right" a religious concept,
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, fraternit. 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 22 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, 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, 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," "with right."23 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, that is, 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,24 it is right. Possibly this may not suffice to make
it right for the rest; that is their care, not mine: let them defend
themselves. And if for the whole world something were not right, but it
were right for me, that is, 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 Q
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, to wit, to nature,
which gives me a right, that is, to birth (and, further, inheritance). "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, 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 that is the same foreign right, a right that I do not give
or take to myself.
Thus the Communists say, equal labour 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 labour 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 laboured and let the enjoyment be
taken from you, then Q "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 affirm25 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: 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, "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 Q 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! Q no mention of the rights 
		That were born with us.26

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 Q 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 Q 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 Q 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 Q 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 Q children of their own creation. The latter possesses more than
bare birthrights: they have earned rights. 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.27 The
other cannot give you your right; he cannot "mete out right" to you. He who
has might has Q 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 Q in China and Japan Q 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 favour. 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 (that is,
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 for a court of honour); then the judge would solely have to
investigate whether the accused had "become guilty" of those "offences,"
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
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, 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 Q "in the wrong at last" because Q we get the
upper hand.

But what is right, what is matter of right in a society, is voiced too Q in
the law.28
Whatever the law may be, it must be respected by the Q 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 Q 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 Q 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.
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, that is, 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 Q to
wit, a particular expression of will Q 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 Q I might just as well say, at
worst Q 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 Q
monarchy; if all have it Q 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 behaviour
is violence, and it calls its violence "law"; that of the individual,
"crime." Crime,29 then Q so the individual's violence is called; and only
by crime does he overcome30 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 Q 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
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 Q 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, which is law.
Over against the sacredness of the State, the individual is only a vessel
of dishonour, in which "exuberance, malevolence, mania for ridicule and
slander, frivolity," 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, humour,
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. Q in short, the turning of State affairs
into a comedy Q have undermined States from of old: they are not
"innocent." And, further, what boundaries are to be drawn between guilty
and innocent wit? 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.31
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
play-ground, 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, humour, becomes bitter
The clamour of the Liberals for freedom of the press runs counter to their
own principle, their proper will. They will what they do not will; 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? Q You are a -
"The criminal is in the utmost degree the State's own crime!" says
Bettina.32 One may let this sentiment pass, even if Bettina herself does
not understand it exactly so. For in the State the unbridled I Q I, as I
belong to myself alone Q cannot come to my fulfilment 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 Q 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 Q and this
we originally are, and in our secret inward parts we remain so always Q 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) Q
the people is full of police sentiments through and through. Q Only he who
renounces his ego, who practices "self-renunciation," is acceptable to the
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";33 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 to34 "develop mankind's germ of freedom; otherwise it
is a raven-mother35 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:36 "What? the
State has no other duty than to be merely the attendant of incurable
invalids? Q 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. Q 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."37 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
philantropist, 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 endeavouring 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 Q 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 Q 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 Q for you are devil-fearing Q that guilt is the value of a
man. Oh, if you were guilty! But now you are "righteous."38 Well Q just put
every thing nicely to rights39 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 Q heartlessness?
Each severing and wounding of a heart relation, each heartless behaviour
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 should disloyalty, secession, breach of oaths Q in short, all
radical breaking off, all tearing asunder of venerable ties Q 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 Q parsons, and will not become pure and coherent so long as it
is worked out only by Q 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 Q 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 do not treat them as unique beings40
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:41
"Are you not a criminal and responsible for not having hated the enemies of
the fatherland?" Q 
If, as in the Revolution, what "Man" is is apprehended as "good citizen,"
then from this concept of "Man" we have the well-known "political offences
and crimes."
In all this the individual, the individual man, is regarded as refuse, and
on the other hand the general man, "Man," is honoured. Now, according to
how this ghost is named Q as Christian, Jew, Mussulman, good citizen, loyal
subject, freeman, patriot, etc. Q 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 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 Q
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
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, from the stand-point of
right; war being declared on the part of liberalism against "privilege."42
Privileged and endowed with equal rights Q on these two concepts turns a
stubborn fight. Excluded or admitted Q would mean the same. But where
should there be a power Q be it an imaginary one like God, law, or a real
one like I, you Q of which it should not be true that before it all are
"endowed with equal rights," that is, 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, and the like, 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 Caucasia
n Q 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 stand-point 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
But now every one has something of advantage over another Q to wit, 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 stand-point 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," and the like; 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 43 would indeed be done away, but in
this consisted not the essence of the two, but only their neighbourhood. As
being distinguished from each other they must necessarily be mutually
resistant,44 and the disparity will always remain. Truly it is not a
failing in you that you stiffen45 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 fiddle-stick's end. Enemies in religion indeed, in the rest you still
remain good friends, and equal to each other, 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. 46 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 Q severance or singleness.47
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, when one understands
what is meant by "Might goes before right." All right explains itself then
as privilege, and privilege itself as power, as Q 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 cancelled 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 Q that does not concern me, if I am only powerful, I
am of myself empowered, and need no other empowering or entitling.
Right Q is a wheel in the head, put there by a spook; power Q 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.

B. - My Intercourse

In society the human demand at most can be satisfied, while the egoistic
must always come short.
Because it can hardly escape anybody that the present shows no such living
interest in any question as in the "social," one has to direct his gaze
especially to society. Nay, if the interest felt in it were less passionate
and dazzled, people would not so much, in looking at society, lose sight of
the individuals in it, and would recognize that a society cannot become new
so long as those who form and constitute it remain the old ones. If, for
example, there was to arise in the Jewish people a society which should
spread a new faith over the earth, these apostles could in no case remain
As you are, so you present yourself, so you behave toward men: a hypocrite
as a hypocrite, a Christian as a Christian. Therefore the character of a
society is determined by the character of its members: they are its
creators. So much at least one must perceive even if one were not willing
to put to the test the concept "society" itself.
Ever far from letting themselves come to their full development and
consequence, men have hitherto not been able to found their societies on
themselves; or rather, they have been able only to found "societies" and to
live in societies. The societies were always persons, powerful persons,
so-called "moral persons," ghosts, before which the individual had the
appropriate wheel in his head, the fear of ghosts. As such ghosts they may
most suitably be designated by the respective names "people" and "peoplet":
the people of the patriarchs, the people of the Hellenes, etc., at last the
Q people of men, Mankind (Anacharsis Cloots48 was enthusiastic for the
"nation" of mankind); then every subdivision of this "people," which could
and must have its special societies, the Spanish, French people, etc.;
within it again classes, cities, in short all kinds of corporations;
lastly, tapering to the finest point, the little peoplet of the - family.
Hence, instead of saying that the person that walked as ghost in all
societies hitherto has been the people, there might also have been named
the two extremes Q to wit, either "mankind" or the "family," both the most
"natural-born units." We choose the word "people"49 because its derivation
has been brought into connection with the Greek polloi, the "many" or "the
masses," but still more because "national efforts" are at present the order
of the day, and because even the newest mutineers have not yet shaken off
this deceptive person, although on the other hand the latter consideration
must give the preference to the expression "mankind," since on all sides
they are going in for enthusiasm over "mankind."
The people, then Q mankind or the family Q have hitherto, as it seems,
played history: no egoistic interest was to come up in these societies, but
solely general ones, national or popular interests, class interests, family
interests, and "general human interests." But who has brought to their fall
the peoples whose decline history relates? Who but the egoist, who was
seeking his satisfaction! If once an egoistic interest crept in, the
society was "corrupted" and moved toward its dissolution, as Rome proves
with its highly developed system of private rights, or Christianity with
the incessantly-breaking-in "rational self-determination,"
"self-consciousness," the "autonomy of the spirit," and so on.
The Christian people has produced two societies whose duration will keep
equal measure with the permanence of that people: these are the societies
State and Church. Can they be called a union of egoists? Do we in them
pursue an egoistic, personal, own interest, or do we pursue a popular, an
interest of the Christian people, to wit, a State, and Church interest? Can
I and may I be myself in them? May I think and act as I will, may I reveal
myself, live myself out, busy myself? Must I not leave untouched the
majesty of the State, the sanctity of the Church?
Well, I may not do so as I will. But shall I find in any society such an
unmeasured freedom of maying? Certainly no! Accordingly we might be
content? Not a bit! It is a different thing whether I rebound from an ego
or from a people, a generalization. There I am my opponent's opponent, born
his equal; here I am a despised opponent, bound and under a guardian: there
I stand man to man; here I am a schoolboy who can accomplish nothing
against his comrade because the latter has called father and mother to aid
and has crept under the apron, while I am well scolded as an ill-bred brat,
and I must not "argue": there I fight against a bodily enemy; here against
mankind, against a generalization, against a "majesty," against a spook.
But to me no majesty, nothing sacred, is a limit; nothing that I know how
to overpower. Only that which I cannot overpower still limits my might; and
I of limited might am temporarily a limited I, not limited by the might
outside me, but limited by my own still deficient might, by my own
impotence. However, "the Guard dies, but does not surrender!" Above all,
only a bodily opponent!

		I dare meet every foeman
		Whom I can see and measure with my eye,
		Whose mettle fires my mettle for the fight - etc.

Many privileges have indeed been cancelled with time, but solely for the
sake of the common weal, of the State and the State's weal, by no means for
the strengthening of me. Vassalage was abrogated only that a single liege
lord, the lord of the people, the monarchical power, might be strengthened:
vassalage under the one became yet more rigourous thereby. Only in favour
of the monarch, be he called "prince" or "law," have privileges fallen. In
France the citizens are not, indeed, vassals of the king, but are instead
vassals of the "law" (the Charter). Subordination was retained, only the
Christian State recognized that man cannot serve two masters (the lord of
the manor and the prince); therefore one obtained all the prerogatives; now
he can again place one above another, he can make "men in high place."
But of what concern to me is the common weal? The common weal as such is
not my weal, but only the furthest extremity of self-renunciation. The
common weal may cheer aloud while I must "down";50 the State may shine
while I starve. In what lies the folly of the political liberals but in
their opposing the people to the government and talking of people's rights?
So there is the people going to be of age, etc. As if one who has no mouth
could be mndig!51 Only the individual is able to be mndig. Thus the whole
question of the liberty of the press is turned upside down when it is laid
claim to as a "right of the people." It is only a right, or better the
might, of the individual. If a people has liberty of the press, then I,
although in the midst of this people, have it not; a liberty of the people
is not my liberty, and the liberty of the press as a liberty of the people
must have at its side a press law directed against me.
This must be insisted on all around against the present-day efforts for liberty:
Liberty of the people is not my liberty!
Let us admit these categories, liberty of the people and right of the
people: for example, the right of the people that everybody may bear arms.
Does one not forfeit such a right? One cannot forfeit his own right, but
may well forfeit a right that belongs not to me but to the people. I may be
locked up for the sake of the liberty of the people; I may, under sentence,
incur the loss of the right to bear arms.
Liberalism appears as the last attempt at a creation of the liberty of the
people, a liberty of the commune, of "society," of the general, of mankind;
the dream of a humanity, a people, a commune, a "society," that shall be of
A people cannot be free otherwise than at the individual's expense; for it
is not the individual that is the main point in this liberty, but the
people. The freer the people, the more bound the individual; the Athenian
people, precisely at its freest time, created ostracism, banished the
atheists, poisoned the most honest thinker.
How they do praise Socrates for his conscientiousness, which makes him
resist the advice to get away from the dungeon! He is a fool that he
concedes to the Athenians a right to condemn him. Therefore it certainly
serves him right; why then does he remain standing on an equal footing with
the Athenians? Why does he not break with them? Had he known, and been able
to know, what he was, he would have conceded to such judges no claim, no
right. That he did not escape was just his weakness, his delusion of still
having something in common with the Athenians, or the opinion that he was a
member, a mere member of this people. But he was rather this people itself
in person, and could only be his own judge. There was no judge over him, as
he himself had really pronounced a public sentence on himself and rated
himself worthy of the Prytaneum. He should have stuck to that, and, as he
had uttered no sentence of death against himself, should have despised that
of the Athenians too and escaped. But he subordinated himself and
recognized in the people his judge; he seemed little to himself before the
majesty of the people. That he subjected himself to might (to which alone
he could succumb) as to a "right" was treason against himself: it was
virtue. To Christ, who, it is alleged, refrained from using the power over
his heavenly legions, the same scrupulousness is thereby ascribed by the
narrators. Luther did very well and wisely to have the safety of his
journey to Worms52 warranted to him in black and white, and Socrates should
have known that the Athenians were his enemies, he alone his judge. The
self-deception of a "reign of law," etc., should have given way to the
perception that the relation was a relation of might.
It was with pettifoggery and intrigues that Greek liberty ended. Why?
Because the ordinary Greeks could still less attain that logical conclusion
which not even their hero of thought, Socrates, was able to draw. What then
is pettifoggery but a way of utilizing something established without doing
away with it? I might add "for one's own advantage," but, you see, that
lies in "utilizing." Such pettifoggers are the theologians who "wrest" and
"force" God's word; what would they have to wrest if it were not for the
"established" Word of God? So those liberals who only shake and wrest the
"established order." They are all perverters, like those perverters of the
law. Socrates recognized law, right; the Greeks constantly retained the
authority of right and law. If with this recognition they wanted
nevertheless to assert their advantage, every one his own, then they had to
seek it in perversion of the law, or intrigue. Alcibiades, an intriguer of
genius, introduces the period of Athenian "decay"; the Spartan Lysander and
others show that intrigue had become universally Greek. Greek law, on which
the Greek States rested, had to be perverted and undermined by the egoists
within these States, and the States went down that the individuals might
become free, the Greek people fell because the individuals cared less for
this people than for themselves. In general, all States, constitutions,
churches, have sunk by the secession of individuals; for the individual is
the irreconcilable enemy of every generality, every tie, every fetter. Yet
people fancy to this day that man needs "sacred ties": he, the deadly enemy
of every "tie." The history of the world shows that no tie has yet remained
unrent, shows that man tirelessly defends himself against ties of every
sort; and yet, blinded, people think up new ties again and again, and think
that they have arrived at the right one if one puts upon them the tie of a
so-called free constitution, a beautiful, constitutional tie; decoration
ribbons, the ties of confidence between " Q Q Q ," do seem gradually to
have become somewhat infirm, but people have made no further progress than
from apron-strings to garters and collars.
Everything sacred is a tie, a fetter.
Everything sacred is and must be perverted by perverters of the law;
therefore our present time has multitudes of such perverters in all
spheres. They are preparing the way for the break-up of law, for
Poor Athenians who are accused of pettifoggery and sophistry! poor
Alcibiades, of intrigue! Why, that was just your best point, your first
step in freedom. Your Aeschylus, Herodotus, etc., only wanted to have a
free Greek people; you were the first to surmise something of your freedom.
A people represses those who tower above its majesty, by ostracism against
too-powerful citizens, by the Inquisition against the heretics of the
Church, by the Q Inquisition against traitors in the State.
For the people is concerned only with its self-assertion; it demands
"patriotic self-sacrifice" from everybody. To it, accordingly, every one in
himself is indifferent, a nothing, and it cannot do, not even suffer, what
the individual and he alone must do Q to wit, turn him to account. Every
people, every State, is unjust toward the egoist.
As long as there still exists even one institution which the individual may
not dissolve, the ownness and self-appurtenance of Me is still very remote.
How can I be free when I must bind myself by oath to a constitution, a
charter, a law, "vow body and soul" to my people? How can I be my own when
my faculties may develop only so far as they "do not disturb the harmony of
society" (Weitling)?
The fall of peoples and mankind will invite me to my rise.
Listen, even as I am writing this, the bells begin to sound, that they may
jingle in for tomorrow the festival of the thousand years' existence of our
dear Germany.53 Sound, sound its knell! You do sound solemn enough, as if
your tongue was moved by the presentiment that it is giving convoy to a
corpse. The German people and German peoples have behind them a history of
a thousand years: what a long life! O, go to rest, never to rise again Q
that all may become free whom you so long have held in fetters. Q The
people is dead. Q Up with me !
O thou my much-tormented German people Q what was thy torment? It was the
torment of a thought that cannot create itself a body, the torment of a
walking spirit that dissolves into nothing at every cock-crow and yet pines
for deliverance and fulfilment. In me too thou hast lived long, thou dear Q
thought, thou dear Q spook. Already I almost fancied I had found the word
of thy deliverance, discovered flesh and bones for the wandering spirit;
then I hear them sound, the bells that usher thee into eternal rest; then
the last hope fades out, then the notes of the last love die away, then I
depart from the desolate house of those who now are dead and enter at the
door of the - living one:
		For only he who is alive is in the right.
Farewell, thou dream of so many millions; farewell, thou who hast
tyrannized over thy children for a thousand years!
Tomorrow they carry thee to the grave; soon thy sisters, the peoples, will
follow thee. But, when they have all followed, then Q Q  mankind is buried,
and I am my own, I am the laughing heir!

The word Gesellschaft (society) has its origin in the word Sal (hall). If
one hall encloses many persons, then the hall causes these persons to be in
society. They are in society, and at most constitute a parlour-society by
talking in the traditional forms of parlour speech. When it comes to real
intercourse, this is to be regarded as independent of society: it may occur
or be lacking, without altering the nature of what is named society. Those
who are in the hall are a society even as mute persons, or when they put
each other off solely with empty phrases of courtesy. Intercourse is
mutuality, it is the action, the commercium, of individuals; society is
only community of the hall, and even the statues of a museum-hall are in
society, they are "grouped." People are accustomed to say "they haben inne
54 this hall in common," but the case is rather that the hall has us inne
or in it. So far the natural signification of the word society. In this it
comes out that society is not generated by me and you, but by a third
factor which makes associates out of us two, and that it is just this third
factor that is the creative one, that which creates society.
Just so a prison society or prison companionship (those who enjoy55 the
same prison). Here we already hit upon a third factor fuller of
significance than was that merely local one, the hall. Prison no longer
means a space only, but a space with express reference to its inhabitants:
for it is a prison only through being destined for prisoners, without whom
it would be a mere building. What gives a common stamp to those who are
gathered in it? Evidently the prison, since it is only by means of the
prison that they are prisoners. What, then, determines the manner of life
of the prison society? The prison! What determines their intercourse? The
prison too, perhaps? Certainly they can enter upon intercourse only as
prisoners, only so far as the prison laws allow it; but that they
themselves hold intercourse, I with you, this the prison cannot bring to
pass; on the contrary, it must have an eye to guarding against such
egoistic, purely personal intercourse (and only as such is it really
intercourse between me and you). That we jointly execute a job, run a
machine, effectuate anything in general Q for this a prison will indeed
provide; but that I forget that I am a prisoner, and engage in intercourse
with you who likewise disregard it, brings danger to the prison, and not
only cannot be caused by it, but must not even be permitted. For this
reason the saintly and moral-minded French chamber decides to introduce
solitary confinement, and other saints will do the like in order to cut off
"demoralizing intercourse." Imprisonment is the established and Q sacred
condition, to injure which no attempt must be made. The slightest push of
that kind is punishable, as is every uprising against a sacred thing by
which man is to be charmed and chained.
Like the hall, the prison does form a society, a companionship, a communion
(as in a communion of labour), but no intercourse, no reciprocity, no
union. On the contrary, every union in the prison bears within it the
dangerous seed of a "plot," which under favourable circumstances might
spring up and bear fruit.
Yet one does not usually enter the prison voluntarily, and seldom remains
in it voluntarily either, but cherishes the egoistic desire for liberty.
Here, therefore, it sooner becomes manifest that personal intercourse is in
hostile relations to the prison society and tends to the dissolution of
this very society, this joint incarceration.
Let us therefore look about for such communions as, it seems, we remain in
gladly and voluntarily, without wanting to endanger them by our egoistic
As a communion of the required sort the family offers itself in the first
place. Parents, husbands and wife, children, brothers and sisters,
represent a whole or form a family, for the further widening of which the
collateral relatives also may be made to serve if taken into account. The
family is a true communion only when the law of the family, piety56 or
family love, is observed by its members. A son to whom parents, brothers,
and sisters have become indifferent has been a son; for, as the sonship no
longer shows itself efficacious, it has no greater significance than the
long-past connection of mother and child by the navel-string. That one has
once lived in this bodily juncture cannot as a fact be undone; and so far
one remains irrevocably this mother's son and the brother of the rest of
her children; but it would come to a lasting connection only by lasting
piety, this spirit of the family. Individuals are members of a family in
the full sense only when they make the persistence of the family their
task; only as conservative do they keep aloof from doubting their basis,
the family. To every member of the family one thing must be fixed and
sacred Q to wit, the family itself, or, more expressively, piety. That the
family is to persist remains to its member, so long as he keeps himself
free from that egoism which is hostile to the family, an unassailable
truth. In a word: Q If the family is sacred, then nobody who belongs to it
may secede from it; else he becomes a "criminal" against the family: he may
never pursue an interest hostile to the family, form a misalliance. He who
does this has "dishonoured the family," "put it to shame," etc.
Now, if in an individual the egoistic impulse has not force enough, he
complies and makes a marriage which suits the claims of the family, takes a
rank which harmonizes with its position, and the like; in short, he "does
honour to the family."
If, on the contrary, the egoistic blood flows fierily enough in his veins,
he prefers to become a "criminal" against the family and to throw off its
Which of the two lies nearer my heart, the good of the family or my good?
In innumerable cases both go peacefully together; the advantage of the
family is at the same time mine, and vice versa. Then it is hard to decide
whether I am thinking selfishly or for the common benefit, and perhaps I
complacently flatter myself with my unselfishness. But there comes the day
when a necessity of choice makes me tremble, when I have it in mind to
dishonour my family tree, to affront parents, brothers, and kindred. What
then? Now it will appear how I am disposed at the bottom of my heart; now
it will be revealed whether piety ever stood above egoism for me, now the
selfish one can no longer skulk behind the semblance of unselfishness. A
wish rises in my soul, and, growing from hour to hour, becomes a passion.
To whom does it occur at first blush that the slightest thought which may
result adversely to the spirit of the family (piety) bears within it a
transgression against this? Nay, who at once, in the first moment, becomes
completely conscious of the matter? It happens so with Juliet in "Romeo and
Juliet." The unruly passion can at last no longer be tamed, and undermines
the building of piety. You will say, indeed, it is from self-will that the
family casts out of its bosom those wilful ones that grant more of a
hearing to their passion than to piety; the good Protestants used the same
excuse with much success against the Catholics, and believed in it
themselves. But it is just a subterfuge to roll the fault off oneself,
nothing more. The Catholics had regard for the common bond of the church,
and thrust those heretics from them only because these did not have so much
regard for the bond of the church as to sacrifice their convictions to it;
the former, therefore, held the bond fast, because the bond, the Catholic
(common and united) church, was sacred to them; the latter, on the
contrary, disregarded the bond. Just so those who lack piety. They are not
thrust out, but thrust themselves out, prizing their passion, their
wilfulness, higher than the bond of the family.
But now sometimes a wish glimmers in a less passionate and wilful heart
than Juliet's. The pliable girl brings herself as a sacrifice to the peace
of the family. One might say that here too selfishness prevailed, for the
decision came from the feeling that the pliable girl felt herself more
satisfied by the unity of the family than by the fulfilment of her wish.
That might be; but what if there remained a sure sign that egoism had been
sacrificed to piety? What if, even after the wish that had been directed
against the peace of the family was sacrificed, it remained at least as a
recollection of a "sacrifice" brought to a sacred tie? What if the pliable
girl were conscious of having left her self-will unsatisfied and humbly
subjected herself to a higher power? Subjected and sacrificed, because the
superstition of piety exercised its dominion over her!
There egoism won, here piety wins and the egoistic heart bleeds; there
egoism was strong, here it was Q weak. But the weak, as we have long known,
are the Q unselfish. For them, for these its weak members, the family
cares, because they belong to the family, do not belong to themselves and
care for themselves. This weakness Hegel praises when he wants to have
match-making left to the choice of the parents.
As a sacred communion to which, among the rest, the individual owes
obedience, the family has the judicial function too vested in it; such a
"family court" is described in the Cabanis of Wilibald Alexis.57 There the
father, in the name of the "family council," puts the intractable son among
the soldiers and thrusts him out of the family, in order to cleanse the
smirched family again by means of this act of punishment. Q The most consist
ent development of family responsibility is contained in Chinese law,
according to which the whole family has to expiate the individual's fault.
Today, however, the arm of family power seldom reaches far enough to take
seriously in hand the punishment of apostates (in most cases the State
protects even against disinheritance). The criminal against the family
(family-criminal) flees into the domain of the State and is free, as the
State-criminal who gets away to America is no longer reached by the
punishments of his State. He who has shamed his family, the graceless son,
is protected against the family's punishment because the State, this
protecting lord, takes away from family punishment its "sacredness" and
profanes it, decreeing that it is only Q "revenge": it restrains
punishment, this sacred family right, because before its, the State's,
"sacredness" the subordinate sacredness of the family always pales and
loses its sanctity as soon as it comes in conflict with this higher
sacredness. Without the conflict, the State lets pass the lesser sacredness
of the family; but in the opposite case it even commands crime against the
family, charging, for example, the son to refuse obedience to his parents
as soon as they want to beguile him to a crime against the State.
Well, the egoist has broken the ties of the family and found in the State a
lord to shelter him against the grievously affronted spirit of the family.
But where has he run now? Straight into a new society, in which his egoism
is awaited by the same snares and nets that it has just escaped. For the
State is likewise a society, not a union; it is the broadened family
("Father of the Country Q Mother of the Country Q children of the
What is called a State is a tissue and plexus of dependence and adherence;
it is a belonging together, a holding together, in which those who are
placed together fit themselves to each other, or, in short, mutually depend
on each other: it is the order of this dependence. Suppose the king, whose
authority lends authority to all down to the beadle, should vanish: still
all in whom the will for order was awake would keep order erect against the
disorders of bestiality. If disorder were victorious, the State would be at
an end.
But is this thought of love, to fit ourselves to each other, to adhere to
each other and depend on each other, really capable of winning us?
According to this the State should be love realized, the being for each
other and living for each other of all. Is not self-will being lost while
we attend to the will for order? Will people not be satisfied when order is
cared for by authority, when authority sees to it that no one "gets in the
way of" another; when, then, the herd is judiciously distributed or
ordered? Why, then everything is in "the best order," and it is this best
order that is called Q State!
Our societies and States are without our making them, are united without
our uniting, are predestined and established, or have an independent
standing58 of their own, are the indissolubly established against us
egoists. The fight of the world today is, as it is said, directed against
the "established." Yet people are wont to misunderstand this as if it were
only that what is now established was to be exchanged for another, a
better, established system. But war might rather be declared against
establishment itself, the State, not a particular State, not any such thing
as the mere condition of the State at the time; it is not another State
(such as a "people's State") that men aim at, but their union, uniting,
this ever-fluid uniting of everything standing. Q A State exists even
without my co-operation: I am born in it, brought up in it, under
obligations to it, and must "do it homage."59 It takes me up into its
"favour,"60 and I live by its "grace." Thus the independent establishment
of the State founds my lack of independence; its condition as a "natural
growth," its organism, demands that my nature do not grow freely, but be
cut to fit it. That it may be able to unfold in natural growth, it applies
to me the shears of "civilization"; it gives me an education and culture
adapted to it, not to me, and teaches me to respect the laws, to refrain
from injury to State property (that is, private property), to reverence
divine and earthly highness, etc.; in short, it teaches me to be Q
unpunishable, "sacrificing" my ownness to "sacredness" (everything possible
is sacred; property, others' life, etc.). In this consists the sort of
civilization and culture that the State is able to give me: it brings me up
to be a "serviceable instrument," a "serviceable member of society."
This every State must do, the people's State as well as the absolute or
constitutional one. It must do so as long as we rest in the error that it
is an I, as which it then applies to itself the name of a "moral, mystical,
or political person." I, who really am I, must pull off this lion-skin of
the I from the stalking thistle-eater. What manifold robbery have I not put
up with in the history of the world! There I let sun, moon, and stars, cats
and crocodiles, receive the honour of ranking as I; there Jehovah, Allah,
and Our Father came and were invested with the I; there families, tribes,
peoples, and at last actually mankind, came and were honoured as I's; there
the Church, the State, came with the pretension to be I Q and I gazed
calmly on all. What wonder if then there was always a real I too that
joined the company and affirmed in my face that it was not my you but my
real I. Why, the Son of Man par excellence had done the like; why should
not a son of man do it too? So I saw my I always above me and outside me,
and could never really come to myself.
I never believed in myself; I never believed in my present, I saw myself
only in the future. The boy believes he will be a proper I, a proper
fellow, only when he has become a man; the man thinks, only in the other
world will he be something proper. And, to enter more closely upon reality
at once, even the best are today still persuading each other that one must
have received into himself the State, his people, mankind, and what not, in
order to be a real I, a "free burgher," a "citizen," a "free or true man";
they too see the truth and reality of me in the reception of an alien I and
devotion to it. And what sort of an I? An I that is neither an I nor a you,
a fancied I, a spook.
While in the Middle Ages the church could well brook many States living
united in it, the States learned after the Reformation, especially after
the Thirty Years' War, to tolerate many churches (confessions) gathering
under one crown. But all States are religious and, as the case may be,
"Christian States," and make it their task to force the intractable, the
"egoists," under the bond of the unnatural, that is, Christianize them. All
arrangements of the Christian State have the object of Christianizing the
people. Thus the court has the object of forcing people to justice, the
school that of forcing them to mental culture Q in short, the object of
protecting those who act Christianly against those who act un-Christianly,
of bringing Christian action to dominion, of making it powerful. Among
these means of force the State counted the Church too, it demanded a Q
particular religion from everybody. Dupin61 said lately against the clergy,
"Instruction and education belong to the State."
Certainly everything that regards the principle of morality is a State
affair. Hence it is that the Chinese State meddles so much in family
concerns, and one is nothing there if one is not first of all a good child
to his parents. Family concerns are altogether State concerns with us too,
only that our State Q puts confidence in the families without painful
oversight; it holds the family bound by the marriage tie, and this tie
cannot be broken without it.
But that the State makes me responsible for my principles, and demands
certain ones from me, might make me ask, what concern has it with the
"wheel in my head" (principle)? Very much, for the State is the Q ruling
principle. It is supposed that in divorce matters, in marriage law in
general, the question is of the proportion of rights between Church and
States. Rather, the question is of whether anything sacred is to rule over
man, be it called faith or ethical law (morality). The State behaves as the
same ruler that the Church was. The latter rests on godliness, the former
on morality.
People talk of the tolerance, the leaving opposite tendencies free, and the
like, by which civilized States are distinguished. Certainly some are
strong enough to look with complacency on even the most unrestrained
meetings, while others charge their catchpole to go hunting for
tobacco-pipes. Yet for one State as for another the play of individuals
among themselves, their buzzing to and fro, their daily life, is an
incident which it must be content to leave to themselves because it can do
nothing with this. Many, indeed, still strain out gnats and swallow camels,
while others are shrewder. Individuals are "freer" in the latter, because
less pestered. But I am free in no State. The lauded tolerance of States is
simply a tolerating of the "harmless," the "not dangerous"; it is only
elevation above pettymindedness, only a more estimable, grander, prouder Q
despotism. A certain State seemed for a while to mean to be pretty well
elevated above literary combats, which might be carried on with all heat;
England is elevated above popular turmoil and Q tobacco-smoking. But woe to
the literature that deals blows at the State itself, woe to the mobs that
"endanger" the State. In that certain State they dream of a "free science,"
in England of a "free popular life."
The State does let individuals play as freely as possible, only they must
not be in earnest, must not forget it. Man must not carry on intercourse
with man unconcernedly, not without "superior oversight and mediation." I
must not execute all that I am able to, but only so much as the State
allows; I must not turn to account my thoughts, nor my work, nor, in
general, anything of mine.
The State always has the sole purpose to limit, tame, subordinate, the
individual Q to make him subject to some generality or other; it lasts only
so long as the individual is not all in all, and it is only the
clearly-marked restriction of me, my limitation, my slavery. Never does a
State aim to bring in the free activity of individuals, but always that
which is bound to the purpose of the State. Through the State nothing in
common comes to pass either, as little as one can call a piece of cloth the
common work of all the individual parts of a machine; it is rather the work
of the whole machine as a unit, machine work. In the same style everything
is done by the State machine too; for it moves the clockwork of the
individual minds, none of which follow their own impulse. The State seeks
to hinder every free activity by its censorship, its supervision, its
police, and holds this hindering to be its duty, because it is in truth a
duty of self-preservation. The State wants to make something out of man,
therefore there live in it only made men; every one who wants to be his own
self is its opponent and is nothing. "He is nothing" means as much as, the
State does not make use of him, grants him no position, no office, no
trade, and the like.
Edgar Bauer,62 in the Liberalen Bestrebungen (vol. II, p.50), is still
dreaming of a "government which, proceeding out of the people, can never
stand in opposition to it." He does indeed (p.69) himself take back the
word "government": "In the republic no government at all obtains, but only
an executive authority. An authority which proceeds purely and alone out of
the people; which has not an independent power, independent principles,
independent officers, over against the people; but which has its
foundation, the fountain of its power and of its principles, in the sole,
supreme authority of the State, in the people. The concept government,
therefore, is not at all suitable in the people's State." But the thing
remains the same. That which has "proceeded, been founded, sprung from the
fountain" becomes something "independent" and, like a child delivered from
the womb, enters upon opposition at once. The government, if it were
nothing independent and opposing, would be nothing at all.
"In the free State there is no government," etc. (p.94). This surely means
that the people, when it is the sovereign, does not let itself be conducted
by a superior authority. Is it perchance different in absolute monarchy? Is
there there for the sovereign, perchance, a government standing over him?
Over the sovereign, be he called prince or people, there never stands a
government: that is understood of itself. But over me there will stand a
government in every "State," in the absolute as well as in the republican
or "free." I am as badly off in one as in the other.
The republic is nothing whatever but Q absolute monarchy; for it makes no
difference whether the monarch is called prince or people, both being a
"majesty." Constitutionalism itself proves that nobody is able and willing
to be only an instrument. The ministers domineer over their master the
prince, the deputies over their master the people. Here, then, the parties
at least are already free Q videlicet, the office-holders' party (so-called
people's party). The prince must conform to the will of the ministers, the
people dance to the pipe of the chambers. Constitutionalism is further than
the republic, because it is the State in incipient dissolution.
Edgar Bauer denies (p.56) that the people is a "personality" in the
constitutional State; per contra, then, in the republic? Well, in the
constitutional State the people is Q a party, and a party is surely a
"personality" if one is once resolved to talk of a "political" (p.76) moral
person anyhow. The fact is that a moral person, be it called people's party
or people or even "the Lord," is in no wise a person, but a spook.
Further, Edgar Bauer goes on (p.69 ): "guardianship is the characteristic
of a government." Truly, still more that of a people and "people's State";
it is the characteristic of all dominion. A people's State, which "unites
in itself all completeness of power," the "absolute master," cannot let me
become powerful. And what a chimera, to be no longer willing to call the
"people's officials" "servants, instruments," because they "execute the
free, rational law-will of the people!" (p.73). He thinks (p.74): "Only by
all official circles subordinating themselves to the government's views can
unity be brought into the State"; but his "people's State" is to have
"unity" too; how will a lack of subordination be allowed there?
subordination to the Q people's will.
"In the constitutional State it is the regent and his disposition that the
whole structure of government rests on in the end." (p.130.) How would that
be otherwise in the "people's State"? Shall I not there be governed by the
people's disposition too, and does it make a difference for me whether I
see myself kept in dependence by the prince's disposition or by the
people's disposition, so-called "public opinion"? If dependence means as
much as "religious relation," as Edgar Bauer rightly alleges, then in the
people's State the people remains for me the superior power, the "majesty"
(for God and prince have their proper essence in "majesty") to which I
stand in religious relations. Q Like the sovereign regent, the sovereign
people too would be reached by no law. Edgar Bauer's whole attempt comes to
a change of masters. Instead of wanting to make the people free, he should
have had his mind on the sole realizable freedom, his own.
In the constitutional State absolutism itself has at last come in conflict
with itself, as it has been shattered into a duality; the government wants
to be absolute, and the people wants to be absolute. These two absolutes
will wear out against each other.
Edgar Bauer inveighs against the determination of the regent by birth, by
chance. But, when "the people" have become "the sole power in the State"
(p.132), have we not then in it a master from chance? Why, what is the
people? The people has always been only the body of the government: it is
many under one hat (a prince's hat) or many under one constitution. And the
constitution is the Q prince. Princes and peoples will persist so long as
both do not collapse, that is, fall together. If under one constitution
there are many "peoples" Q as in the ancient Persian monarchy and today Q
then these "peoples" rank only as "provinces." For me the people is in any
case an Q accidental power, a force of nature, an enemy that I must
What is one to think of under the name of an "organized" people (p.132)? A
people "that no longer has a government," that governs itself. In which,
therefore, no ego stands out prominently; a people organized by ostracism.
The banishment of egos, ostracism, makes the people autocrat.
If you speak of the people, you must speak of the prince; for the people,
if it is to be a subject63 and make history, must, like everything that
acts, have a head, its "supreme head." Weitling sets this forth in [Die
dire acphale, ne peut vivre." 64
The vox populi is now always held up to us, and "public opinion" is to rule
our princes. Certainly the vox populi is at the same time vox dei; but is
either of any use, and is not the vox principis also vox dei ?
At this point the "Nationals" may be brought to mind. To demand of the
thirty-eight States of Germany that they shall act as one nation can only
be put alongside the senseless desire that thirty-eight swarms of bees, led
by thirty-eight queen-bees, shall unite themselves into one swarm. Bees
they all remain; but it is not the bees as bees that belong together and
can join themselves together, it is only that the subject bees are
connected with the ruling queens. Bees and peoples are destitute of will,
and the instinct of their queens leads them.
If one were to point the bees to their beehood, in which at any rate they
are all equal to each other, one would be doing the same thing that they
are now doing so stormily in pointing the Germans to their Germanhood. Why,
Germanhood is just like beehood in this very thing, that it bears in itself
the necessity of cleavages and separations, yet without pushing on to the
last separation, where, with the complete carrying through of the process
of separating, its end appears: I mean, to the separation of man from man.
Germanhood does indeed divide itself into different peoples and tribes,
beehives; but the individual who has the quality of being a German is still
as powerless as the isolated bee. And yet only individuals can enter into
union with each other, and all alliances and leagues of peoples are and
remain mechanical compoundings, because those who come together, at least
so far as the "peoples" are regarded as the ones that have come together,
are destitute of will. Only with the last separation does separation itself
end and change to unification.
Now the Nationals are exerting themselves to set up the abstract, lifeless
unity of beehood; but the self-owned are going to fight for the unity
willed by their own will, for union. This is the token of all reactionary
wishes, that they want to set up something general, abstract, an empty,
lifeless concept, in distinction from which the self-owned aspire to
relieve the robust, lively particular from the trashy burden of
generalities. The reactionaries would be glad to smite a people, a nation,
forth from the earth; the self-owned have before their eyes only
themselves. In essentials the two efforts that are just now the order of
the day - to wit, the restoration of provincial rights and of the old
tribal divisions (Franks, Bavarians, Lusatia,65 etc.), and the restoration
of the entire nationality Q coincide in one. But the Germans will come into
unison, unite themselves, only when they knock over their beehood as well
as all the beehives; in other words, when they are more than Q Germans:
only then can they form a "German Union." They must not want to turn back
into their nationality, into the womb, in order to be born again, but let
every one turn in to himself. How ridiculously sentimental when one German
grasps another's hand and presses it with sacred awe because "he too is a
German!" With that he is something great! But this will certainly still be
thought touching as long as people are enthusiastic for "brotherliness," as
long as they have a "family disposition". From the superstition of "piety,"
from "brotherliness" or "childlikeness" or however else the soft-hearted
piety-phrases run Q from the family spirit Q the Nationals, who want to
have a great family of Germans, cannot liberate themselves.
Aside from this, the so-called Nationals would only have to understand
themselves rightly in order to lift themselves out of their juncture with
the good-natured Teutomaniacs. For the uniting for material ends and
interests, which they demand of the Germans, comes to nothing else than a
voluntary union. Carrire, inspired, cries out,66 "Railroads are to the
more penetrating eye the way to a life of the people such as has not yet
anywhere appeared in such significance." Quite right, it will be a life of
the people that has nowhere appeared, because it is not a Q life of the
people. Q So Carrire then combats himself (p.10): "Pure humanity or
manhood cannot be better represented than by a people fulfilling its
mission." Why, by this nationality only is represented. "Washed-out
generality is lower than the form complete in itself, which is itself a
whole, and lives as a living member of the truly general, the organized."
Why, the people is this very "washed-out generality," and it is only a man
that is the "form complete in itself."
The impersonality of what they call "people, nation," is clear also from
this: that a people which wants to bring its I into view to the best of its
power puts at its head the ruler without will. It finds itself in the
alternative either to be subjected to a prince who realizes only himself,
his individual pleasure Q then it does not recognize in the "absolute
master" its own will, the so-called will of the people Q or to seat on the
throne a prince who gives effect to no will of his own Q then it has a
prince without will, whose place some ingenious clockwork would perhaps
fill just as well. Q Therefore insight need go only a step farther; then it
becomes clear of itself that the I of the people is an impersonal,
"spiritual" power, the Q law. The people's I, therefore, is a Q spook, not
an I. I am I only by this, that I make myself; that it is not another who
makes me, but I must be my own work. But how is it with this I of the
people? Chance plays it into the people's hand, chance gives it this or
that born lord, accidents procure it the chosen one; he is not its (the
"sovereign" people's) product, as I am my product. Conceive of one wanting
to talk you into believing that you were not your I, but Tom or Jack was
your I! But so it is with the people, and rightly. For the people has an I
as little as the eleven planets counted together have an I, though they
revolve around a common centre.
Bailly's utterance is representative of the slave-disposition that folks
manifest before the sovereign people, as before the prince. "I have," says
he, "no longer any extra reason when the general reason has pronounced
itself. My first law was the nation's will; as soon as it had assembled I
knew nothing beyond its sovereign will." He would have no "extra reason,"
and yet this extra reason alone accomplishes everything. Just so Mirabeau
inveighs in the words, "No power on earth has the right to say to the
nation's representatives, It is my will!"
As with the Greeks, there is now a wish to make man a zoon politicon, a
citizen of the State or political man. So he ranked for a long time as a
"citizen of heaven." But the Greek fell into ignominy along with his State,
the citizen of heaven likewise falls with heaven; we, on the other hand,
are not willing to go down along with the people, the nation and
nationality, not willing to be merely political men or politicians. Since
the Revolution they have striven to "make the people happy," and in making
the people happy, great, and the like, they make us unhappy: the people's
good hap is Q my mishap.
What empty talk the political liberals utter with emphatic decorum is well
seen again in Nauwerck's On Taking Part in the State.67 There complaint is
made of those who are indifferent and do not take part, who are not in the
full sense citizens, and the author speaks as if one could not be man at
all if one were not a politician. In this he is right; for, if the State
ranks as the warder of everything "human," we can have nothing human
without taking part in it. But what does this make out against the egoist?
Nothing at all, because the egoist is to himself the warder of the human,
and has nothing to say to the State except "Get out of my sunshine." Only
when the State comes in contact with his ownness does the egoist take an
active interest in it. If the condition of the State does not bear hard on
the closet-philosopher, is he to occupy himself with it because it is his
"most sacred duty?" So long as the State does according to his wish, what
need has he to look up from his studies? Let those who from an interest of
their own want to have conditions otherwise busy themselves with them. Not
now, nor evermore, will "sacred duty" bring folks to reflect about the
State Q as little as they become disciples of science, artists, etc., from
"sacred duty." Egoism alone can impel them to it, and will as soon as
things have become much worse. If you showed folks that their egoism
demanded that they busy themselves with State affairs, you would not have
to call on them long; if, on the other hand, you appeal to their love of
fatherland and the like, you will long preach to deaf hearts in behalf of
this "service of love." Certainly, in your sense the egoists will not
participate in State affairs at all.
Nauwerck utters a genuine liberal phrase on p.16: "Man completely fulfils
his calling only in feeling and knowing himself as a member of humanity,
and being active as such. The individual cannot realize the idea of manhood
if he does not stay himself upon all humanity, if he does not draw his
powers from it like Antaeus."
In the same place it is said: "Man's relation to the res publica is
degraded to a purely private matter by the theological view; is,
accordingly, made away with by denial." As if the political view did
otherwise with religion! There religion is a "private matter."
If, instead of "sacred duty," "man's destiny," the "calling to full
manhood," and similar commandments, it were held up to people that their
self-interest was infringed on when they let everything in the State go as
it goes, then, without declamations, they would be addressed as one will
have to address them at the decisive moment if he wants to attain his end.
Instead of this, the theology-hating author says, "If there has ever been a
time when the State laid claim to all that are hers, such a time is ours. Q
The thinking man sees in participation in the theory and practice of the
State a duty, one of the most sacred duties that rest upon him" Q and then
takes under closer consideration the "unconditional necessity that
everybody participate in the State."
He in whose head or heart or both the State is seated, he who is possessed
by the State, or the believer in the State, is a politician, and remains
such to all eternity.
"The State is the most necessary means for the complete development of
mankind." It assuredly has been so as long as we wanted to develop mankind;
but, if we want to develop ourselves, it can be to us only a means of
Can State and people still be reformed and bettered now? As little as the
nobility, the clergy, the church, etc.: they can be abrogated, annihilated,
done away with, not reformed. Can I change a piece of nonsense into sense
by reforming it, or must I drop it outright?
Henceforth what is to be done is no longer about the State (the form of the
State, etc.), but about me. With this all questions about the prince's
power, the constitution, and so on, sink into their true abyss and their
true nothingness. I, this nothing, shall put forth my creations from

To the chapter of society belongs also "the party," whose praise has of late been sung.
In the State the party is current. "Party, party, who should not join one!"
But the individual is unique,68 not a member of the party. He unites
freely, and separates freely again. The party is nothing but a State in the
State, and in this smaller bee-State "peace" is also to rule just as in the
greater. The very people who cry loudest that there must be an opposition
in the State inveigh against every discord in the party. A proof that they
too want only a Q State. All parties are shattered not against the State,
but against the ego.69
One hears nothing oftener now than the admonition to remain true to his
party; party men despise nothing so much as a mugwump. One must run with
his party through thick and thin, and unconditionally approve and represent
its chief principles. It does not indeed go quite so badly here as with
closed societies, because these bind their members to fixed laws or
statutes (such as the orders, the Society of Jesus, etc.). But yet the
party ceases to be a union at the same moment at which it makes certain
principles binding and wants to have them assured against attacks; but this
moment is the very birth-act of the party. As party it is already a born
society, a dead union, an idea that has become fixed. As party of
absolutism it cannot will that its members should doubt the irrefragable
truth of this principle; they could cherish this doubt only if they were
egoistic enough to want still to be something outside their party,
non-partisans. Non-partisans they cannot be as party-men, but only as
egoists. If you are a Protestant and belong to that party, you must only
justify Protestantism, at most "purge" it, not reject it; if you are a
Christian and belong among men to the Christian party, you cannot be beyond
this as a member of this party, but only when your egoism,
non-partisanship, impels you to it. What exertions the Christians, down to
Hegel and the Communists, have put forth to make their party strong! They
stuck to it that Christianity must contain the eternal truth, and that one
needs only to get at it, make sure of it, and justify it.
In short, the party cannot bear non-partisanship, and it is in this that
egoism appears. What matters the party to me? I shall find enough anyhow
who unite with me without swearing allegiance to my flag.
He who passes over from one party to another is at once abused as a
"turncoat." Certainly morality demands that one stand by his party, and to
become apostate from it is to spot oneself with the stain of
"faithlessness"; but ownness knows no commandment of "faithlessness";
adhesion, and the like, ownness permits everything, even apostasy,
defection. Unconsciously even the moral themselves let themselves be led by
this principle when they have to judge one who passes over to their party Q
nay, they are likely to be making proselytes; they should only at the same
time acquire a consciousness of the fact that one must commit immoral
actions in order to commit his own Q here, that one must break faith, yes,
even his oath, in order to determine himself instead of being determined by
moral considerations. In the eyes of people of strict moral judgment an
apostate always shimmers in equivocal colours, and will not easily obtain
their confidence; for there sticks to him the taint of "faithlessness," of
an immorality. In the lower man this view is found almost generally;
advanced thinkers fall here too, as always, into an uncertainty and
bewilderment, and the contradiction necessarily founded in the principle of
morality does not, on account of the confusion of their concepts, come
clearly to their consciousness. They do not venture to call the apostate
immoral downright, because they themselves entice to apostasy, to defection
from one religion to another; still, they cannot give up the stand-point of
morality either. And yet here the occasion was to be seized to step outside
of morality.
Are the Own or Unique70 perchance a party? How could they be own if they
were such as belonged to a party?
Or is one to hold with no party? In the very act of joining them and
entering their circle one forms a union with them that lasts as long as
party and I pursue one and the same goal. But today I still share the
party's tendency, as by tomorrow I can do so no longer and I become
"untrue" to it. The party has nothing binding (obligatory) for me, and I do
not have respect for it; if it no longer pleases me, I become its foe.
In every party that cares for itself and its persistence, the members are
unfree (or better, unown) in that degree, they lack egoism in that degree,
in which they serve this desire of the party. The independence of the party
conditions the lack of independence in the party-members.
A party, of whatever kind it may be, can never do without a confession of
faith. For those who belong to the party must believe in its principle, it
must not be brought in doubt or put in question by them, it must be the
certain, indubitable thing for the party-member. That is: One must belong
to a party body and soul, else one is not truly a party-man, but more or
less Q an egoist. Harbour a doubt of Christianity, and you are already no
longer a true Christian, you have lifted yourself to the "effrontery" of
putting a question beyond it and haling Christianity before your egoistic
judgment-seat. You have Q sinned against Christianity, this party cause
(for it is surely not for example a cause for the Jews, another party.) But
well for you if you do not let yourself be affrighted: your effrontery
helps you to ownness.
So then an egoist could never embrace a party or take up with a party? Oh,
yes, only he cannot let himself be embraced and taken up by the party. For
him the party remains all the time nothing but a gathering: he is one of
the party, he takes part.

The best State will clearly be that which has the most loyal citizens, and
the more the devoted mind for legality is lost, so much the more will the
State, this system of morality, this moral life itself, be diminished in
force and quality. With the "good citizens" the good State too perishes and
dissolves into anarchy and lawlessness. "Respect for the law!" By this
cement the total of the State is held together. "The law is sacred, and he
who affronts it a criminal". Without crime no State: the moral world Q and
this the State is Q is crammed full of scamps, cheats, liars, thieves.
Since the State is the "lordship of law," its hierarchy, it follows that
the egoist, in all cases where his advantage runs against the State's, can
satisfy himself only by crime.
The State cannot give up the claim that its laws and ordinances are sacred
.71 At this the individual ranks as the unholy72 (barbarian, natural man,
"egoist") over against the State, exactly as he was once regarded by the
Church; before the individual the State takes on the nimbus of a saint.73
Thus it issues a law against dueling. Two men who are both at one in this,
that they are willing to stake their life for a cause (no matter what), are
not to be allowed this, because the State will not have it: it imposes a
penalty on it. Where is the liberty of self-determination then? It is at
once quite another situation if, as in North America, society determines to
let the duelists bear certain evil consequences of their act, such as
withdrawal of the credit hitherto enjoyed. To refuse credit is everybody's
affair, and, if a society wants to withdraw it for this or that reason, the
man who is hit cannot therefore complain of encroachment on his liberty:
the society is simply availing itself of its own liberty. That is no
penalty for sin, no penalty for a crime. The duel is no crime there, but
only an act against which the society adopts counter-measures, resolves on
a defense. The State, on the contrary, stamps the duel as a crime, as an
injury to its sacred law: it makes it a criminal case. The society leaves
it to the individual's decision whether he will draw upon himself evil
consequences and inconveniences by his mode of action, and hereby
recognizes his free decision; the State behaves in exactly the reverse way,
denying all right to the individual's decision and, instead, ascribing the
sole right to its own decision, the law of the State, so that he who
transgresses the State's commandment is looked upon as if he were acting
against God's commandment Q a view which likewise was once maintained by
the Church. Here God is the Holy in and of himself, and the commandments of
the Church, as of the State, are the commandments of this Holy One, which
he transmits to the world through his anointed and
Lords-by-the-Grace-of-God. If the Church had deadly sins, the State has
capital crimes; if the one had heretics, the other has traitors; the one
ecclesiastical penalties, the other criminal penalties; the one
inquisitorial processes, the other fiscal; in short, there sins, here
crimes, there inquisition and here Q inquisition. Will the sanctity of the
State not fall like the Church's? The awe of its laws, the reverence for
its highness, the humility of its "subjects," will this remain? Will the
"saint's" face not be stripped of its adornment?
What a folly, to ask of the State's authority that it should enter into an
honourable fight with the individual, and, as they express themselves in
the matter of freedom of the press, share sun and wind equally! If the
State, this thought, is to be a de facto power, it simply must be a
superior power against the individual. The State is "sacred" and must not
expose itself to the "impudent attacks" of individuals. If the State is
sacred, there must be censorship. The political liberals admit the former
and dispute the inference. But in any case they concede repressive measures
to it, for Q they stick to this, that State is more than the individual and
exercises a justified revenge, called punishment.
Punishment has a meaning only when it is to afford expiation for the
injuring of a sacred thing. If something is sacred to any one, he certainly
deserves punishment when he acts as its enemy. A man who lets a man's life
continue in existence because to him it is sacred and he has a dread of
touching it is simply a Q religious man.
Weitling lays crime at the door of "social disorder," and lives in the
expectation that under Communistic arrangements crimes will become
impossible, because the temptations to them, such as money, fall away. As,
however, his organized society is also exalted into a sacred and inviolable
one, he miscalculates in that good-hearted opinion. Such as with their
mouth professed allegiance to the Communistic society, but worked underhand
for its ruin, would not be lacking. Besides, Weitling has to keep on with
"curative means against the natural remainder of human diseases and
weaknesses," and "curative means" always announce to begin with that
individuals will be looked upon as "called" to a particular "salvation" and
hence treated according to the requirements of this "human calling."
Curative means or healing is only the reverse side of punishment, the
theory of cure runs parallel with the theory of punishment; if the latter
sees in an action a sin against right, the former takes it for a sin of the
man against himself, as a decadence from his health. But the correct thing
is that I regard it either as an action that suits me or as one that does
not suit me, as hostile or friendly to me, that I treat it as my property,
which I cherish or demolish. "Crime" or "disease" are not either of them an
egoistic view of the matter, a judgment starting from me, but starting from
another Q to wit, whether it injures right, general right, or the health
partly of the individual (the sick one), partly of the generality (society
). "Crime" is treated inexorably, "disease" with "loving gentleness,
compassion," and the like.
Punishment follows crime. If crime falls because the sacred vanishes,
punishment must not less be drawn into its fall; for it too has
significance only over against something sacred. Ecclesiastical punishments
have been abolished. Why? Because how one behaves toward the "holy God" is
his own affair. But, as this one punishment, ecclesiastical punishment, has
fallen, so all punishments must fall. As sin against the so-called God is a
man's own affair, so is that against every kind of the so-called sacred.
According to our theories of penal law, with whose "improvement in
conformity to the times" people are tormenting themselves in vain, they
want to punish men for this or that "inhumanity"; and therein they make the
silliness of these theories especially plain by their consistency, hanging
the little thieves and letting the big ones run. For injury to property
they have the house of correction, and for "violence to thought,"
suppression of "natural rights of man," only Q representations and
The criminal code has continued existence only through the sacred, and
perishes of itself if punishment is given up. Now they want to create
everywhere a new penal law, without indulging in a misgiving about
punishment itself. But it is exactly punishment that must make room for
satisfaction, which, again, cannot aim at satisfying right or justice, but
at procuring us a satisfactory outcome. If one does to us what we will not
put up with, we break his power and bring our own to bear: we satisfy
ourselves on him, and do not fall into the folly of wanting to satisfy
right (the spook). It is not the sacred that is to defend itself against
man, but man against man; as God too, you know, no longer defends himself
against man, God to whom formerly (and in part, indeed, even now) all the
"servants of God" offered their hands to punish the blasphemer, as they
still at this very day lend their hands to the sacred. This devotion to the
sacred brings it to pass also that, without lively participation of one's
own, one only delivers misdoers into the hands of the police and courts: a
non-participating making over to the authorities, "who, of course, will
best administer sacred matters." The people is quite crazy for hounding the
police on against everything that seems to it to be immoral, often only
unseemly, and this popular rage for the moral protects the police
institution more than the government could in any way protect it.
In crime the egoist has hitherto asserted himself and mocked at the sacred;
the break with the sacred, or rather of the sacred, may become general. A
revolution never returns, but a mighty, reckless, shameless,
conscienceless. proud Q crime, does it not rumble in distant thunders, and
do you not see how the sky grows presciently silent and gloomy?

He who refuses to spend his powers for such limited societies as family,
party, nation, is still always longing for a worthier society, and thinks
he has found the true object of love, perhaps, in "human society" or
"mankind," to sacrifice himself to which constitutes his honour; from now
on he "lives for and serves mankind."
People is the name of the body, State of the spirit, of that ruling person
that has hitherto suppressed me. Some have wanted to transfigure peoples
and States by broadening them out to "mankind" and "general reason"; but
servitude would only become still more intense with this widening, and
philantropists and humanitarians are as absolute masters as politicians and
Modern critics inveigh against religion because it sets God, the divine,
moral, etc., outside of man, or makes them something objective, in
opposition to which the critics rather transfer these very subjects into
man. But those critics none the less fall into the proper error of
religion, to give man a "destiny," in that they too want to have him
divine, human, and the like: morality, freedom and humanity, etc., are his
essence. And, like religion politics too wanted to "educate" man, to bring
him to the realization of his "essence," his "destiny," to make something
out of him Q to wit, a "true man," the one in the form of the "true
believer," the other in that of the "true citizen or subject." In fact, it
comes to the same whether one calls the destiny the divine or human.
Under religion and politics man finds himself at the stand-point of should:
he should become this and that, should be so and so. With this postulate,
this commandment, every one steps not only in front of another but also in
front of himself. Those critics say: You should be a whole, free man. Thus
they too stand in the temptation to proclaim a new religion, to set up a
new absolute, an ideal Q to wit, freedom. Men should be free. Then there
might even arise missionaries of freedom , as Christianity, in the
conviction that all were properly destined to become Christians, sent out
missionaries of the faith. Freedom would then (as have hitherto faith as
Church, morality as State) constitute itself as a new community and carry
on a like "propaganda" therefrom. Certainly no objection can be raised
against a getting together; but so much the more must one oppose every
renewal of the old care for us, of culture directed toward an end Q in
short, the principle of making something out of us, no matter whether
Christians, subjects, or freemen and men.
One may well say with Feuerbach and others that religion has displaced the
human from man, and has transferred it so into another world that,
unattainable, it went on with its own existence there as something personal
in itself, as a "God": but the error of religion is by no means exhausted
with this. One might very well let fall the personality of the displaced
human, might transform God into the divine, and still remain religious. For
the religious consists in discontent with the present men, in the setting
up of a "perfection" to be striven for, in "man wrestling for his
completion."74 ("Ye therefore should be perfect as your father in heaven is
perfect." Matt. 5, 48): it consists in the fixation of an ideal, an
absolute. Perfection is the "supreme good," the finis bonorum; every one's
ideal is the perfect man, the true, the free man, etc.
The efforts of modern times aim to set up the ideal of the "free man." If
one could find it, there would be a new Q religion, because a new ideal;
there would be a new longing, a new torment, a new devotion, a new deity, a
new contrition.
With the ideal of "absolute liberty," the same turmoil is made as with
everything absolute, and according to Hess, it is said to "be realizable in
absolute human society.''75 Nay, this realization is immediately afterward
styled a "vocation"; just so he then defines liberty as "morality": the
kingdom of "justice" (equality) and "morality" (liberty) is to begin, etc.
Ridiculous is he who, while fellows of his tribe, family, nation, rank
high, is Q nothing but "puffed up" over the merit of his fellows; but
blinded too is he who wants only to be "man." Neither of them puts his
worth in exclusiveness, but in connectedness, or in the "tie" that conjoins
him with others, in the ties of blood, of nationality, of humanity.
Through the "Nationals" of today the conflict has again been stirred up
between those who think themselves to have merely human blood and human
ties of blood, and the others who brag of their special blood and the
special ties of blood.
If we disregard the fact that pride may mean conceit, and take it for
consciousness alone, there is found to be a vast difference between pride
in "belonging to" a nation and therefore being its property, and that in
calling a nationality one's property. Nationality is my quality, but the
nation my owner and mistress. If you have bodily strength, you can apply it
at a suitable place and have a self-consciousness or pride of it; if, on
the contrary, your strong body has you, then it pricks you everywhere, and
at the most unsuitable place, to show its strength: you can give nobody
your hand without squeezing his.
The perception that one is more than a member of the family, more than a
fellow of the tribe, more than an individual of the people, has finally led
to saying, one is more than all this because one is man, or, the man is
more than the Jew, German, etc. "Therefore be every one wholly and solely Q
man." Could one not rather say: Because we are more than what has been
stated, therefore we will be this, as well as that "more" also? Man and
Germans, then, man and Guelph?76 The Nationals are in the right; one cannot
deny his nationality: and the humanitarians are in the right; one must not
remain in the narrowness of the national. In uniqueness 77 the
contradiction is solved; the national is my quality. But I am not swallowed
up in my quality Q as the human too is my quality, but I give to man his
existence first through my uniqueness.
History seeks for Man: but he is I, you, we. Sought as a mysterious
essence, as the divine, first as God, then as Man (humanity, humaneness,
and mankind), he is found as the individual, the finite, the unique one.
I am owner of humanity, am humanity, and do nothing for the good of another
humanity. Fool, you who are a unique humanity, that you make a merit of
wanting to live for another than you are.
The hitherto-considered relation of me to the world of men offers such a
wealth of phenomena that it will have to be taken up again and again on
other occasions, but here, where it was only to have its chief outlines
made clear to the eye, it must be broken off to make place for an
apprehension of two other sides toward which it radiates. For, as I find
myself in relation not merely to men so far as they present in themselves
the concept "man" or are children of men (children of Man, as children of
God are spoken of), but also to that which they have of man and call their
own, and as therefore I relate myself not only to that which they are
through man, but also to their human possessions: so, besides the world of
men, the world of the senses and of ideas will have to be included in our
survey, and somewhat said of what men call their own of sensuous goods, and
of spiritual as well.
According as one had developed and clearly grasped the concept of man, he
gave it to us to respect as this or that person of respect, and from the
broadest understanding of this concept there proceeded at last the command
"to respect Man in every one." But if I respect Man, my respect must
likewise extend to the human, or what is Man's.
Men have somewhat of their own, and I am to recognize this own and hold it
sacred. Their own consists partly in outward, partly in inward possessions.
The former are things, the latter spiritualities, thoughts, convictions,
noble feelings. But I am always to respect only rightful or human
possessions: the wrongful and unhuman I need not spare, for only Man's own
is men's real own. An inward possession of this sort is, for example,
religion; because religion is free, that is, is Man's, I must not strike at
it. Just so honour is an inward possession; it is free and must not be
struck at my me. (Action for insult, caricatures, etc.) Religion and honour
are "spiritual property." In tangible property the person stands foremost:
my person is my first property. Hence freedom of the person; but only the
rightful or human person is free, the other is locked up. Your life is your
property; but it is sacred for men only if it is not that of an inhuman
What a man as such cannot defend of bodily goods, we may take from him:
this is the meaning of competition, of freedom of occupation. What he
cannot defend of spiritual goods falls a prey to us likewise: so far goes
the liberty of discussion, of science, of criticism.
But consecrated goods are inviolable. Consecrated and guarantied by whom?
Proximately by the State, society, but properly by man or the "concept,"
the "concept of the thing"; for the concept of consecrated goods is this,
that they are truly human, or rather that the holder possesses them as man
and not as un-man.78
On the spiritual side man's faith is such goods, his honour, his moral
feeling Q yes, his feeling of decency, modesty, etc. Actions (speeches,
writings) that touch honour are punishable; attacks on "the foundations of
all religion"; attacks on political faith; in short, attacks on everything
that a man "rightly" has.
How far critical liberalism would extend the sanctity of goods Q on this
point it has not yet made any pronouncement, and doubtless fancies itself
to be ill-disposed toward all sanctity; but, as it combats egoism, it must
set limits to it, and must not let the un-man pounce on the human. To its
theoretical contempt for the "masses" there must correspond a practical
snub if it should get into power.
What extension the concept "man" receives, and what comes to the individual
man through it Q what, therefore, man and the human are Q on this point the
various grades of liberalism differ, and the political, the social, the
humane man are each always claiming more than the other for "man." He who
has best grasped this concept knows best what is "man's." The State still
grasps this concept in political restriction, society in social; mankind,
so it is said, is the first to comprehend it entirely, or "the history of
mankind develops it." But, if "man is discovered," then we know also what
pertains to man as his own, man's property, the human.
But let the individual man lay claim to ever so many rights because Man or
the concept man "entitles" him to them, because his being man does it: what
do I care for his right and his claim? If he has his right only from Man
and does not have it from me, then for me he has no right. His life, for
example, counts to me only for what it is worth to me. I respect neither a
so-called right of property (or his claim to tangible goods) nor yet his
right to the "sanctuary of his inner nature" (or his right to have the
spiritual goods and divinities, his gods, remain un-aggrieved). His goods,
the sensuous as well as the spiritual, are mine, and I dispose of them as
proprietor, in the measure of my Q might.
In the property question lies a broader meaning than the limited statement
of the question allows to be brought out. Referred solely to what men call
our possessions, it is capable of no solution; the decision is to be found
in him "from whom we have everything." Property depends on the owner.
The Revolution directed its weapons against everything which came "from the
grace of God," against divine right, in whose place the human was
confirmed. To that which is granted by the grace of God, there is opposed
that which is derived "from the essence of man."
Now, as men's relation to each other, in opposition to the religious dogma
which commands a "Love one another for God's sake," had to receive its
human position by a "Love each other for man's sake," so the revolutionary
teaching could not do otherwise than, first, as to what concerns the
relation of men to the things of this world, settle it that the world,
which hitherto was arranged according to God's ordinance, henceforth
belongs to "Man."
The world belongs to "Man," and is to be respected by me as his property.
Property is what is mine!
Property in the civic sense means sacred property, such that I must respect
your property. "Respect for property!" Hence the politicians would like to
have every one possess his little bit of property, and they have in part
brought about an incredible parcellation by this effort. Each must have his
bone on which he may find something to bite.
The position of affairs is different in the egoistic sense. I do not step
shyly back from your property, but look upon it always as my property, in
which I need to "respect" nothing. Pray do the like with what you call my
With this view we shall most easily come to an understanding with each other.
The political liberals are anxious that, if possible, all servitudes be
dissolved, and every one be free lord on his ground, even if this ground
has only so much area as can have its requirements adequately filled by the
manure of one person. (The farmer in the story married even in his old age
"that he might profit by his wife's dung.") Be it ever so little, if one
only has somewhat of his own Q to wit, a respected property! The more such
owners, such cotters,79 the more "free people and good patriots" has the
Political liberalism, like everything religious, counts on respect,
humaneness, the virtues of love. Therefore does it live in incessant
vexation. For in practice people respect nothing, and every day the small
possessions are bought up again by greater proprietors, and the "free
people" change into day-labourers.
If, on the contrary, the "small proprietors" had reflected that the great
property was also theirs, they would not have respectfully shut themselves
out from it, and would not have been shut out.
Property as the civic liberals understand it deserves the attacks of the
Communists and Proudhon: it is untenable, because the civic proprietor is
in truth nothing but a property-less man, one who is everywhere shut out.
Instead of owning the world, as he might, he does not own even the paltry
point on which he turns around.
Proudhon wants not the propritaire but the possesseur or usufruitier.80
What does that mean? He wants no one to own the land; but the benefit of it
Q even though one were allowed only the hundredth part of this benefit,
this fruit Q is at any rate one's property, which he can dispose of at
will. He who has only the benefit of a field is assuredly not the
proprietor of it; still less he who, as Proudhon would have it, must give
up so much of this benefit as is not required for his wants; but he is the
proprietor of the share that is left him. Proudhon, therefore, denies only
such and such property, not property itself. If we want no longer to leave
the land to the landed proprietors, but to appropriate it to ourselves, we
unite ourselves to this end, form a union, a societ, that makes itself
proprietor; if we have good luck in this, then those persons cease to be
landed proprietors. And, as from the land, so we can drive them out of many
another property yet, in order to make it our property, the property of the
Q conquerors. The conquerors form a society which one may imagine so great
that it by degrees embraces all humanity; but so-called humanity too is as
such only a thought (spook); the individuals are its reality. And these
individuals as a collective (mass will treat land and earth not less
arbitrarily than an isolated individual or so-called propritaire. Even so,
therefore, property remains standing, and that as exclusive" too, in that
humanity, this great society, excludes the individual from its property
(perhaps only leases to him, gives his as a fief, a piece of it) as it
besides excludes everything that is not humanity, does not allow animals to
have property. - So too it will remain, and will grow to be. That in which
all want to have a share will be withdrawn from that individual who wants
to have it for himself alone: it is made a common estate. As a common
estate every one has his share in it, and this share is his property. Why,
so in our old relations a house which belongs to five heirs is their common
estate; but the fifth part of the revenue is, each one's property. Proudhon
might spare his prolix pathos if he said: "There are some things that
belong only to a few, and to which we others will from now on lay claim or
Q siege. Let us take them, because one comes to property by taking, and the
property of which for the present we are still deprived came to the
proprietors likewise only by taking. It can be utilized better if it is in
the hands of us all than if the few control it. Let us therefore associate
ourselves for the purpose of this robbery (vol )." Q Instead of this, he
tries to get us to believe that society is the original possessor and the
sole proprietor, of imprescriptible right; against it the so-called
proprietors have become thieves (La propriete c'est le vol ); if it now
deprives of his property the present proprietor, it robs him of nothing, as
it is only availing itself of its imprescriptible right. Q So far one comes
with the spook of society as a moral person. On the contrary, what man can
obtain belongs to him: the world belongs to me. Do you say anything else by
your opposite proposition? "The world belongs to all" ? All are I and again
I, etc. But you make out of the "all" a spook, and make it sacred, so that
then the "all" become the individual's fearful master. Then the ghost of
"right" places itself on their side.
Proudhon, like the Communists, fights against egoism. Therefore they are
continuations and consistent carryings-out of the Christian principle, the
principle of love, of sacrifice for something general, something alien.
They complete in property, only what has long been extant as a matter of
fact Q to wit, the propertylessness of the individual. When the laws says,
Ad reges potestas omnium pertinet, ad singulos proprietas; omnia rex
imperio possidet, singuli dominio, this means: The king is proprietor, for
he alone can control and dispose of "everything," he has potesta and
imperium over it. The Communists make this clearer, transferring that
imperium to the "society of all." Therefore: Because enemies of egoism,
they are on that account Q Christians, or, more generally speaking,
religious men, believers in ghosts, dependents, servants of some generality
(God, society, etc.). In this too Proudhon is like the Christians, that he
ascribes to God that which he denies to men. He names him (on page 90) the
Proprietaire of the earth. Herewith he proves that he cannot think away the
proprietor as such; he comes to a proprietor at last, but removes him to
the other world.
Neither God nor Man ("human society") is proprietor, but the individual.

Proudhon (Weitling too) thinks he is telling the worst about property when
he calls it theft (vol ). Passing quite over the embarrassing question,
what well-founded objection could be made against theft, we only ask: Is
the concept "theft" at all possible unless one allows validity to the
concept "property"? How can one steal if property is not already extant?
What belongs to no one cannot be stolen; the water that one draws out of
the sea he does not steal. Accordingly property is not theft, but a theft
becomes possible only through property. Weitling has to come to this too,
as he does regard everything as the property of all: if something is "the
property of all," then indeed the individual who appropriates it to himself
Private property lives by grace of the law. Only in the law has it its
warrant Q for possession is not yet property, it becomes "mine" only by
assent of the law; it is not a fact, not un fait as Proudhon thinks, but a
fiction, a thought. This is legal property, legitimate property, guarantied
property. It is mine not through me but through the Q law.
Nevertheless, property is the expression for unlimited dominion over
somewhat (thing, beast, man) which "I can judge and dispose of as seems
good to me." According to Roman law, indeed, jus utendi et abutendi re sua,
quatenus juris ratio patitur, an exclusive and unlimited right; but
property is conditioned by might. What I have in my power, that is my own.
So long as I assert myself as holder, I am the proprietor of the thing; if
it gets away from me again, no matter by what power, as through my
recognition of a title of others to the thing Q then the property is
extinct. Thus property and possession coincide. It is not a right lying
outside my might that legitimizes me, but solely my might: if I no longer
have this, the thing vanishes away from me. When the Romans no longer had
any might against the Germans, the world-empire of Rome belonged to the
latter, and it would sound ridiculous to insist that the Romans had
nevertheless remained properly the proprietors. Whoever knows how to take
and to defend the thing, to him it belongs till it is again taken from him,
as liberty belongs to him who takes it.
Only might decides about property, and, as the State (no matter whether
State or well-to-do citizens or of ragamuffins or of men in the absolute)
is the sole mighty one, it alone is proprietor; I, the unique,81 have
nothing, and am only enfeoffed, am vassal and as such, servitor. Under the
dominion of the State there is no property of mine.
I want to raise the value of myself, the value of ownness, and should I
cheapen property? No, as I was not respected hitherto because people,
mankind, and a thousand other generalities were put higher, so property too
has to this day not yet been recognized in its full value. Property too was
only the property of a ghost, the people's property; my whole existence
"belonged to the fatherland"; I belonged to the fatherland, the people, the
State, and therefore also everything that I called my own. It is demanded
of States that they make away with pauperism. It seems to me this is asking
that the State should cut off its own head and lay it at its feet; for so
long as the State is the ego the individual ego must remain a poor devil, a
non-ego. The State has an interest only in being itself rich; whether
Michael is rich and Peter poor is alike to it; Peter might also be rich and
Michael poor. It looks on indifferently as one grows poor and the other
rich, unruffled by this alternation. As individuals they are really equal
before its face; in this it is just: before it both of them are Q nothing,
as we "are altogether sinners before God"; on the other hand, it has a very
great interest in this, that those individuals who make it their ego should
have a part in its wealth; it makes them partakers in its property. Through
property, with which it rewards the individuals, it tames them; but this
remains its property, and every one has the usufruct of it only so long as
he bears in himself the ego of the State, or is a "loyal member of
society"; in the opposite case the property is confiscated, or made to melt
away by vexatious lawsuits. The property, then, is and remains State
property, not property of the ego. That the State does not arbitrarily
deprive the individual of what he has from the State means simply that the
State does not rob itself. He who is State-ego, a good citizen or subject,
holds his fief undisturbed as such an ego, not as being an ego of his own.
According to the code, property is what I call mine "by virtue of God and
law." But it is mine by virtue of God and law only so long as Q the State
has nothing against it.
In expropriations, disarmaments, and the like (as, when the exchequer
confiscates inheritances if the heirs do not put in an appearance early
enough) how plainly the else-veiled principle that only the people, "the
State," is proprietor, while the individual is feoffee, strikes the eye!
The State, I mean to say, cannot intend that anybody should for his own
sake have property or actually be rich, nay, even well-to-do; it can
acknowledge nothing, yield nothing, grant nothing to me as me. The State
cannot check pauperism, because the poverty of possession is a poverty of
me. He who is nothing but what chance or another Q to wit, the State -
makes out of him also has quite rightly nothing but what another gives him.
And this other will give him only what he deserves, what he is worth by
service. It is not he that realizes a value from himself; the State
realizes a value from him.
National economy busies itself much with this subject. It lies far out
beyond the "national," however, and goes beyond the concepts and horizon of
the State, which knows only State property and can distribute nothing else.
For this reason it binds the possessions of property to conditions Q as it
binds everything to them, as in marriage, allowing validity only to the
marriage sanctioned by it, and wresting this out of my power. But property
is my property only when I hold it unconditionally : only I, an
unconditional ego, have property, enter a relation of love, carry on free
The State has no anxiety about me and mine, but about itself and its: I
count for something to it only as its child, as "a son of the country"; as
ego I am nothing at all for it. For the State's understanding, what befalls
me as ego is something accidental, my wealth as well as my impoverishment.
But, if I with all that is mine am an accident in the State's eyes, this
proves that it cannot comprehend me: I go beyond its concepts, or, its
understanding is too limited to comprehend me. Therefore it cannot do
anything for me either.
Pauperism is the valuelessness of me, the phenomenon that I cannot realize
value from myself. For this reason State and pauperism are one and the
same. The State does not let me come to my value, and continues in
existence only through my valuelessness: it is forever intent on getting
benefit from me, exploiting me, turning me to account, using me up, even if
the use it gets from me consists only in my supplying a proles (proletariat
); it wants me to be "its creature."
Pauperism can be removed only when I as ego realize value from myself, when
I give my own self value, and make my price myself. I must rise in revolt
to rise in the world.
What I produce, flour, linen, or iron and coal, which I toilsomely win from
the earth, is my work that I want to realize value from. But then I may
long complain that I am not paid for my work according to its value: the
payer will not listen to me, and the State likewise will maintain an
apathetic attitude so long as it does not think it must "appease" me that I
may not break out with my dreaded might. But this "appeasing" will be all,
and, if it comes into my head to ask for more, the State turns against me
with all the force of its lion-paws and eagle-claws: for it is the king of
beasts, it is lion and eagle. If I refuse to be content with the price that
it fixes for my ware and labour, if I rather aspire to determine the price
of my ware myself, that is, "to pay myself," in the first place I come into
a conflict with the buyers of the ware. If this were stilled by a mutual
understanding, the State would not readily make objections; for how
individuals get along with each other troubles it little, so long as
therein they do not get in its way. Its damage and its danger begin only
when they do not agree, but, in the absence of a settlement, take each
other by the hair. The State cannot endure that man stand in a direct
relation to man; it must step between as - mediator, must - intervene. What
Christ was, what the saints, the Church were, the State has become - to
wit, "mediator." It tears man from man to put itself between them as
"spirit." The labourers who ask for higher pay are treated as criminals as
soon as they want to compel it. What are they to do? Without compulsion
they don't get it, and in compulsion the State sees a self-help, a
determination of price by the ego, a genuine, free realization of value
from his property, which it cannot admit of. What then are the labourers to
do? Look to themselves and ask nothing about the State? Q Q 
But, as is the situation with regard to my material work, so it is with my
intellectual too. The State allows me to realize value from all my thoughts
and to find customers for them (I do realize value from them, in the very
fact that they bring me honour from the listeners, and the like); but only
so long as my thoughts are - its thoughts. If, on the other hand, I harbour
thoughts that it cannot approve (make its own), then it does not allow me
at all to realize value from them, to bring them into exchange into
commerce. My thoughts are free only if they are granted to me by the
State's grace, if they are the State's thoughts. It lets me philosophize
freely only so far as I approve myself a "philosopher of State"; against
the State I must not philosophize, gladly as it tolerates my helping it out
of its "deficiencies," "furthering" it. Q Therefore, as I may behave only
as an ego most graciously permitted by the State, provided with its
testimonial of legitimacy and police pass, so too it is not granted me to
realize value from what is mine, unless this proves to be its, which I hold
as fief from it. My ways must be its ways, else it distrains me; my
thoughts its thoughts, else it stops my mouth.
The State has nothing to be more afraid of than the value of me, and
nothing must it more carefully guard against than every occasion that
offers itself to me for realizing value from myself. I am the deadly enemy
of the State, which always hovers between the alternatives, it or I.
Therefore it strictly insists not only on not letting me have a standing,
but also on keeping down what is mine. In the State there is no property,
no property of the individual, but only State property. Only through the
State have I what I have, as I am only through it what I am. My private
property is only that which the State leaves to me of its, cutting off
others from it (depriving them, making it private); it is State property.
But, in opposition to the State, I feel more and more clearly that there is
still left me a great might, the might over myself, over everything that
pertains only to me and that exists only in being my own.
What do I do if my ways are no longer its ways, my thoughts no longer its
thoughts? I look to myself, and ask nothing about it! In my thoughts, which
I get sanctioned by no assent, grant, or grace, I have my real property, a
property with which I can trade. For as mine they are my creatures, and I
am in a position to give them away in return for other thoughts: I give
them up and take in exchange for them others, which then are my new
purchased property.
What then is my property? Nothing but what is in my power! To what property
am I entitled? To every property to which I Q empower myself.82 I give
myself the right of property in taking property to myself, or giving myself
the proprietor's power, full power, empowerment.
Everything over which I have might that cannot be torn from me remains my
property; well, then let might decide about property, and I will expect
everything from my might! Alien might, might that I leave to another, makes
me an owned slave: then let my own might make me an owner. Let me then
withdraw the might that I have conceded to others out of ignorance
regarding the strength of my own might! Let me say to myself, what my might
reaches to is my property; and let me claim as property everything that I
feel myself strong enough to attain, and let me extend my actual property
as far as I entitle, that is, empower, myself to take.
Here egoism, selfishness, must decide; not the principle of love, not
love-motives like mercy, gentleness, good-nature, or even justice and
equity (for justitia too is a phenomenon of Q love, a product of love):
love knows only sacrifices and demands "self-sacrifice."
Egoism does not think of sacrificing anything, giving away anything that it
wants; it simply decides, what I want I must have and will procure.
All attempts to enact rational laws about property have put out from the
bay of love into a desolate sea of regulations. Even Socialism and
Communism cannot be excepted from this. Every one is to be provided with
adequate means, for which it is little to the point whether one
socialistically finds them still in a personal property, or communistically
draws them from the community of goods. The individual's mind in this
remains the same; it remains a mind of dependence. The distributing board
of equity lets me have only what the sense of equity, its loving care for
all, prescribes. For me, the individual, there lies no less of a check in
collective wealth than in that of individual others; neither that is mine,
nor this: whether the wealth belongs to the collectivity, which confers
part of it on me, or to individual possessors, is for me the same
constraint, as I cannot decide about either of the two. On the contrary,
Communism, by the abolition of all personal property, only presses me back
still more into dependence on another, to wit, on the generality or
collectivity; and, loudly as it always attacks the "State," what it intends
is itself again a State, a status, a condition hindering my free movement,
a sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts against the pressure
that I experience from individual proprietors; but still more horrible is
the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity.
Egoism takes another way to root out the non-possessing rabble. It does not
say: Wait for what the board of equity will Q bestow on you in the name of
the collectivity (for such bestowal took place in "States" from the most
ancient times, each receiving "according to his desert," and therefore
according to the measure in which each was able to deserve it, to acquire
it by service ), but: Take hold, and take what you require! With this the
war of all against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have.
"Now, that is truly no new wisdom, for self-seekers have acted so at all
times!" Not at all necessary either that the thing be new, if only
consciousness of it is present. But this latter will not be able to claim
great age, unless perhaps one counts in the Egyptian and Spartan law; for
how little current it is appears even from the stricture above, which
speaks with contempt of "self-seekers." One is to know just this, that the
procedure of taking hold is not contemptible, but manifests the pure deed
of the egoist at one with himself.
Only when I expect neither from individuals nor from a collectivity what I
can give to myself, only then do I slip out of the snares of Q love; the
rabble ceases to be rabble only when it takes hold. Only the dread of
taking hold, and the corresponding punishment thereof, makes it a rabble.
Only that taking hold is sin, crime Q only this dogma creates a rabble. For
the fact that the rabble remains what it is, it (because it allows validity
to that dogma) is to blame as well as, more especially, those who
"self-seekingly" (to give them back their favourite word) demand that the
dogma be respected. In short, the lack of consciousness of that "new
wisdom," the old consciousness of sin, alone bears the blame.
If men reach the point of losing respect for property, every one will have
property, as all slaves become free men as soon as they no longer respect
the master as master. Unions will then, in this matter too, multiply the
individual's means and secure his assailed property.
According to the Communists' opinion the commune should be proprietor. On
the contrary, I am proprietor, and I only come to an understanding with
others about my property. If the commune does not do what suits me, I rise
against it and defend my property. I am proprietor, but property is not
sacred. I should be merely possessor? No, hitherto one was only possessor,
secured in the possession of a parcel by leaving others also in possession
of a parcel; but now everything belongs to me, I am proprietor of
everything that I require and can get possession of. If it is said
socialistically, society gives me what I require - then the egoist says, I
take what I require. If the Communists conduct themselves as ragamuffins,
the egoist behaves as proprietor.
All swan-fraternities,83 and attempts at making the rabble happy, that
spring from the principle of love, must miscarry. Only from egoism can the
rabble get help, and this help it must give to itself and Q will give to
itself. If it does not let itself be coerced into fear, it is a power.
"People would lose all respect if one did not coerce them into fear," says
bugbear Law in Der gestiefelte Kater. 84
Property, therefore, should not and cannot be abolished; it must rather be
torn from ghostly hands and become my property; then the erroneous
consciousness, that I cannot entitle myself to as much as I require, will
vanish. Q 
"But what cannot man require!" Well, whoever requires much, and understands
how to get it, has at all times helped himself to it, as Napoleon did with
the Continent and France with Algiers.85 Hence the exact point is that the
respectful "rabble" should learn at last to help itself to what it
requires. If it reaches out too far for you, why, then defend yourselves.
You have no need at all to good-heartedly Q bestow anything on it; and,
when it learns to know itself, it Q or rather: whoever of the rabble learns
to know himself, he - casts off the rabble-quality in refusing your alms
with thanks. But it remains ridiculous that you declare the rabble "sinful
and criminal" if it is not pleased to live from your favours because it can
do something in its own favour. Your bestowals cheat it and put it off.
Defend your property, then you will be strong; if, on the other hand, you
want to retain your ability to bestow, and perhaps actually have the more
political rights the more alms (poor-rates) you can give, this will work
just as long as the recipients let you work it.86
In short, the property question cannot be solved so amicably as the
Socialists, yes, even the Communists, dream. It is solved only by the war
of all against all. The poor become free and proprietors only when they Q
rise. Bestow ever so much on them, they will still always want more; for
they want nothing less than that at last Q nothing more be bestowed.
It will be asked, but how then will it be when the have-nots take heart? Of
what sort is the settlement to be? One might as well ask that I cast a
child's nativity. What a slave will do as soon as he has broken his
fetters, one must Q await.
In Kaiser's pamphlet,87 worthless for lack of form as well as substance, he
hopes from the State that it will bring about a leveling of property.
Always the State! Herr Papa! As the Church was proclaimed and looked upon
as the "mother" of believers, so the State has altogether the face of the
provident father.

Competition shows itself most strictly connected with the principle of
civism. Is it anything else than equality (galit )? And is not equality a
product of that same Revolution which was brought on by the commonalty, the
middle classes? As no one is barred from competing with all in the State
(except the prince, because he represents the State itself) and working
himself up to their height, yes, overthrowing or exploiting them for his
own advantage, soaring above them and by stronger exertion depriving them
of their favourable circumstances Q this serves as a clear proof that
before the State's judgment-seat every one has only the value of a "simple
individual" and may not count on any favouritism. Outrun and outbid each
other as much as you like and can; that shall not trouble me, the State!
Among yourselves you are free in competing, you are competitors; that is
your social position. But before me, the State, you are nothing but "simple
What in the form of principle or theory was propounded as the equality of
all has found here in competition its realization and practical carrying
out; for galit is Q free competition. All are, before the State Q simple
individuals; in society, or in relation to each other Q competitors.
I need be nothing further than a simple individual to be able to compete
with all others aside from the prince and his family: a freedom which
formerly was made impossible by the fact that only by means of one's
corporation, and within it, did one enjoy any freedom of effort.
In the guild and feudality the State is in an intolerant and fastidious
attitude, granting privileges; in competition and liberalism it is in a
tolerant and indulgent attitude, granting only patents (letters assuring
the applicant that the business stands open (patent) to him) or
"concessions." Now, as the State has thus left everything to the
applicants, it must come in conflict with all, because each and all are
entitled to make application. It will be "stormed," and will go down in
this storm.
Is "free competition" then really "free?" nay, is it really a "competition"
Q to wit, one of persons Q as it gives itself out to be because on this
title it bases its right? It originated, you know, in persons becoming free
of all personal rule. Is a competition "free" which the State, this ruler
in the civic principle, hems in by a thousand barriers? There is a rich
manufacturer doing a brilliant business, and I should like to compete with
him. "Go ahead," says the State, "I have no objection to make to your
person as competitor." Yes, I reply, but for that I need a space for
buildings, I need money! "That's bad; but, if you have no money, you cannot
compete. You must not take anything from anybody, for I protect property
and grant it privileges." Free competition is not "free," because I lack
the things for competition. Against my person no objection can be made, but
because I have not the things my person too must step to the rear. And who
has the necessary things? Perhaps that manufacturer? Why, from him I could
take them away! No, the State has them as property, the manufacturer only
as fief, as possession.
But, since it is no use trying it with the manufacturer, I will compete
with that professor of jurisprudence; the man is a booby, and I, who know a
hundred times more than he, shall make his class-room empty. "Have you
studied and graduated, friend?" No, but what of that? I understand
abundantly what is necessary for instruction in that department. "Sorry,
but competition is not 'free' here. Against your person there is nothing to
be said, but the thing, the doctor's diploma, is lacking. And this diploma
I, the State, demand. Ask me for it respectfully first; then we will see
what is to be done."
This, therefore, is the "freedom" of competition. The State, my lord, first
qualifies me to compete.
But do persons really compete? No, again things only! Moneys in the first
place, etc.
In the rivalry one will always be left behind another (as, a poetaster
behind a poet). But it makes a difference whether the means that the
unlucky competitor lacks are personal or material, and likewise whether the
material means can be won by personal energy or are to be obtained only by
grace, only as a present; as when the poorer man must leave, that is,
present, to the rich man his riches. But, if I must all along wait for the
State's approval to obtain or to use (as in the case of graduation) the
means, I have the means by the grace of the State. 89
Free competition, therefore, has only the following meaning: To the State
all rank as its equal children, and every one can scud and run to earn the
State's goods and largesse. Therefore all do chase after havings, holdings,
possessions (be it of money or offices, titles of honour, etc.), after the
In the mind of the commonalty every one is possessor or "owner." Now,
whence comes it that the most have in fact next to nothing? From this, that
the most are already joyful over being possessors at all, even though it be
of some rags, as children are joyful in their first trousers or even the
first penny that is presented to them. More precisely, however, the matter
is to be taken as follows. Liberalism came forward at once with the
declaration that it belonged to man's essence not to be property, but
proprietor. As the consideration here was about "man," not about the
individual, the how-much (which formed exactly the point of the
individual's special interest) was left to him. Hence the individual's
egoism retained room for the freest play in this how-much, and carried on
an indefatigable competition.
However, the lucky egoism had to become a snag in the way of the less
fortunate, and the latter, still keeping its feet planted on the principle
of humanity, put forward the question as to how-much of possession, and
answered it to the effect that "man must have as much as he requires."
Will it be possible for my egoism to let itself be satisfied with that?
What "man" requires furnishes by no means a scale for measuring me and my
needs; for I may have use for less or more. I must rather have so much as I
am competent to appropriate.
Competition suffers from the unfavourable circumstance that the means for
competing are not at every one's command, because they are not taken from
personality, but from accident. Most are without means, and for this reason
without goods.
Hence the Socialists demand the means for all, and aim at a society that
shall offer means. Your money value, say they, we no longer recognize as
your "competence"; you must show another competence Q to wit, your working
force. In the possession of a property, or as "possessor," man does
certainly show himself as man; it was for this reason that we let the
possessor, whom we called "proprietor," keep his standing so long. Yet you
possess the things only so long as you are not "put out of this property."
The possessor is competent, but only so far as the others are incompetent.
Since your ware forms your competence only so long as you are competent to
defend it (as we are not competent to do anything with it), look about you
for another competence; for we now, by our might, surpass your alleged
It was an extraordinarily large gain made, when the point of being regarded
as possessors was put through. Therein bondservice was abolished, and every
one who till then had been bound to the lord's service, and more or less
had been his property, now became a "lord." But henceforth your having, and
what you have, are no longer adequate and no longer recognized; per contra,
your working and your work rise in value. We now respect your subduing
things, as we formerly did your possessing them. Your work is your
competence! You are lord or possessor only of what comes by work, not by
inheritance. But as at the time everything has come by inheritance, and
every copper that you possess bears not a labour-stamp but an
inheritance-stamp, everything must be melted over.
But is my work then really, as the Communists suppose, my sole competence?
or does not this consist rather in everything that I am competent for? And
does not the workers' society itself have to concede this, in supporting
also the sick, children, old men Q in short, those who are incapable of
work? These are still competent for a good deal, for instance, to preserve
their life instead of taking it. If they are competent to cause you to
desire their continued existence, they have a power over you. To him who
exercised utterly no power over you, you would vouchsafe nothing; he might
Therefore, what you are competent for is your competence! If you are
competent to furnish pleasure to thousands, then thousands will pay you an
honorarium for it; for it would stand in your power to forbear doing it,
hence they must purchase your deed. If you are not competent to captivate
any one, you may simply starve.
Now am I, who am competent for much, perchance to have no advantage over
the less competent?
We are all in the midst of abundance; now shall I not help myself as well
as I can, but only wait and see how much is left me in an equal division?
Against competition there rises up the principle of ragamuffin society Q
To be looked upon as a mere part, part of society, the individual cannot
bear Q because he is more; his uniqueness puts from it this limited
Hence he does not await his competence from the sharing of others, and even
in the workers' society there arises the misgiving that in an equal
partition the strong will be exploited by the weak; he awaits his
competence rather from himself, and says now, what I am competent to have,
that is my competence.
What competence does not the child possess in its smiling, its playing, its
screaming! in short, in its mere existence! Are you capable of resisting
its desire? Or do you not hold out to it, as mother, your breast; as
father, as much of your possessions as it needs? It compels you, therefore
it possesses what you call yours.
If your person is of consequence to me, you pay me with your very
existence; if I am concerned only with one of your qualities, then your
compliance, perhaps, or your aid, has a value (a money value) for me, and I
purchase it.
If you do not know how to give yourself any other than a money value in my
estimation, there may arise the case of which history tells us, that
Germans, sons of the fatherland, were sold to America. Should those who let
themselves to be traded in be worth more to the seller? He preferred the
cash to this living ware that did not understand how to make itself
precious to him. That he discovered nothing more valuable in it was
assuredly a defect of his competence; but it takes a rogue to give more
than he has. How should he show respect when he did not have it, nay,
hardly could have it for such a pack!
You behave egoistically when you respect each other neither as possessors
nor as ragamuffins or workers, but as a part of your competence, as "useful
bodies". Then you will neither give anything to the possessor
("proprietor") for his possessions, nor to him who works, but only to him
whom you require. The North Americans ask themselves, Do we require a king?
and answer, Not a farthing are he and his work worth to us.
If it is said that competition throws every thing open to all, the
expression is not accurate, and it is better put thus: competition makes
everything purchasable. In abandoning 90 it to them, competition leaves it
to their appraisal91 or their estimation, and demands a price92 for it.
But the would-be buyers mostly lack the means to make themselves buyers:
they have no money. For money, then, the purchasable things are indeed to
be had ("For money everything is to be had!"), but it is exactly money that
is lacking. Where is one to get money, this current or circulating
property? Know then, you have as much money93 as you have Q might; for you
count94 for as much as you make yourself count for.
One pays not with money, of which there may come a lack, but with his
competence, by which alone we are "competent";95 for one is proprietor only
so far as the arm of our power reaches.
Weitling has thought out a new means of payment Q work. But the true means
of payment remains, as always, competence. With what you have "within your
competence" you pay. Therefore think on the enlargement of your competence.
This being admitted, they are nevertheless right on hand again with the
motto, "To each according to his competence!" Who is to give to me
according to my competence? Society? Then I should have to put up with its
estimation. Rather, I shall take according to my competence.
"All belongs to all!" This proposition springs from the same unsubstantial
theory. To each belongs only what he is competent for. If I say, The world
belongs to me, properly that too is empty talk, which has a meaning only in
so far as I respect no alien property. But to me belongs only as much as I
am competent for, or have within my competence.
One is not worthy to have what one, through weakness, lets be taken from
him; one is not worthy of it because one is not capable of it.
They raise a mighty uproar over the "wrong of a thousand years" which is
being committed by the rich against the poor. As if the rich were to blame
for poverty, and the poor were not in like manner responsible for riches!
Is there another difference between the two than that of competence and
incompetence, of the competent and incompetent? Wherein, pray, does the
crime of the rich consist? "In their hardheartedness." But who then have
maintained the poor? Who have cared for their nourishment? Who have given
alms, those alms that have even their name from mercy (eleemosyne )? Have
not the rich been "merciful" at all times? Are they not to this day
"tender-hearted," as poor-taxes, hospitals, foundations of all sorts, etc.,
But all this does not satisfy you! Doubtless, then, they are to share with
the poor? Now you are demanding that they shall abolish poverty. Aside from
the point that there might be hardly one among you who would act so, and
that this one would be a fool for it, do ask yourselves: why should the
rich let go their fleeces and give up themselves, thereby pursuing the
advantage of the poor rather than their own? You, who have your thaler
daily, are rich above thousands who live on four groschen. Is it for your
interest to share with the thousands, or is it not rather for theirs? --
With competition is connected less the intention to do the thing best than
the intention to make it as profitable, as productive, as possible. Hence
people study to get into the civil service (pot-boiling study), study
cringing and flattery, routine and "acquaintance with business," work "for
appearance." Hence, while it is apparently a matter of doing "good
service," in truth only a "good business" and earning of money are looked
out for. The job is done only ostensibly for the job's sake, but in fact on
account of the gain that it yields. One would indeed prefer not to be
censor, but one wants to be Q advanced; one would like to judge,
administer, etc., according to his best convictions, but one is afraid of
transference or even dismissal; one must, above all things Q live.
Thus these goings-on are a fight for dear life, and, in gradation upward,
for more or less of a "good living."
And yet, withal, their whole round of toil and care brings in for most only
"bitter life" and "bitter poverty." All the bitter painstaking for this!
Restless acquisition does not let us take breath, take a calm enjoyment: we
do not get the comfort of our possessions.
But the organization of labour touches only such labours as others can do
for us, slaughtering, tillage, and the like; the rest remain egoistic,
because no one can in your stead elaborate your musical compositions, carry
out your projects of painting, etc.; nobody can replace Raphael's labours.
The latter are labours of a unique person,96 which only he is competent to
achieve, while the former deserved to be called "human," since what is
anybody's own in them is of slight account, and almost "any man" can be
trained to it.
Now, as society can regard only labours for the common benefit, human
labours, he who does anything unique remains without its care; nay, he may
find himself disturbed by its intervention. The unique person will work
himself forth out of society all right, but society brings forth no unique
Hence it is at any rate helpful that we come to an agreement about human
labours, that they may not, as under competition, claim all our time and
toil. So far Communism will bear its fruits. For before the dominion of the
commonalty even that for which all men are qualified, or can be qualified,
was tied up to a few and withheld from the rest: it was a privilege. To the
commonalty it looked equitable to leave free all that seemed to exist for
every "man." But, because left97 free, it was yet given to no one, but
rather left to each to be got hold of by his human power. By this the mind
was turned to the acquisition of the human, which henceforth beckoned to
every one; and there arose a movement which one hears so loudly bemoaned
under the name of "materialism."
Communism seeks to check its course, spreading the belief that the human is
not worth so much discomfort, and, with sensible arrangements, could be
gained without the great expense of time and powers which has hitherto
seemed requisite.
But for whom is time to be gained? For what does man require more time than
is necessary to refresh his wearied powers of labour? Here Communism is
For what? To take comfort in himself as the unique, after he has done his
part as man!
In the first joy over being allowed to stretch out their hands toward
everything human, people forgot to want anything else; and they competed
away vigorously, as if the possession of the human were the goal of all our
But they have run themselves tired, and are gradually noticing that
"possession does not give happiness." Therefore they are thinking of
obtaining the necessary by an easier bargain, and spending on it only so
much time and toil as its indispensableness exacts. Riches fall in price,
and contented poverty, the care-free ragamuffin, becomes the seductive
Should such human activities, that every one is confident of his capacity
for, be highly salaried, and sought for with toil and expenditure of all
life-forces? Even in the every-day form of speech, "If I were minister, or
even the . . ., then it should go quite otherwise," that confidence
expresses itself Q that one holds himself capable of playing the part of
such a dignitary; one does get a perception that to things of this sort
there belongs not uniqueness, but only a culture which is attainable, even
if not exactly by all, at any rate by many; that for such a thing one need
only be an ordinary man.
If we assume that, as order belongs to the essence of the State, so
subordination too is founded in its nature, then we see that the
subordinates, or those who have received preferment, disproportionately
overcharge and overreach those who are put in the lower ranks. But the
latter take heart (first from the Socialist stand-point, but certainly with
egoistic consciousness later, of which we will therefore at once give their
speech some colouring) for the question, By what then is your property
secure, you creatures of preferment? Q and give themselves the answer, By
our refraining from interference! And so by our protection! And what do you
give us for it? Kicks and disdain you give to the "common people"; police
supervision, and a catechism with the chief sentence "Respect what is not
yours, what belongs to others! respect others, and especially your
superiors!" But we reply, "If you want our respect, buy it for a price
agreeable to us. We will leave you your property, if you give a due
equivalent for this leaving." Really, what equivalent does the general in
time of peace give for the many thousands of his yearly income.? Q another
for the sheer hundred-thousands and millions yearly? What equivalent do you
give for our chewing potatoes and looking calmly on while you swallow
oysters? Only buy the oysters of us as dear as we have to buy the potatoes
of you, then you may go on eating them. Or do you suppose the oysters do
not belong to us as much as to you? You will make an outcry over violence
if we reach out our hands and help consume them, and you are right. Without
violence we do not get them, as you no less have them by doing violence to
But take the oysters and have done with it, and let us consider our nearer
property, labour; for the other is only possession. We distress ourselves
twelve hours in the sweat of our face, and you offer us a few groschen for
it. Then take the like for your labour too. Are you not willing? You fancy
that our labour is richly repaid with that wage, while yours on the other
hands is worth a wage of many thousands. But, if you did not rate yours so
high, and gave us a better chance to realize value from ours, then we might
well, if the case demanded it, bring to pass still more important things
than you do for the many thousand thalers; and, if you got only such wages
as we, you would soon grow more industrious in order to receive more. But,
if you render any service that seems to us worth ten and a hundred times
more than our own labour, why, then you shall get a hundred times more for
it too; we, on the other hand, think also to produce for you things for
which you will requite us more highly than with the ordinary day's wages.
We shall be willing to get along with each other all right, if only we have
first agreed on this Q that neither any longer needs to Q present anything
to the other. Then we may perhaps actually go so far as to pay even the
cripples and sick and old an appropriate price for not parting from us by
hunger and want; for, if we want them to live, it is fitting also that we Q
purchase the fulfilment of our will. I say "purchase," and therefore do not
mean a wretched "alms." For their life is the property even of those who
cannot work; if we (no matter for what reason) want them not to withdraw
this life from us, we can mean to bring this to pass only by purchase; nay,
we shall perhaps (maybe because we like to have friendly faces about us)
even want a life of comfort for them. In short, we want nothing presented
by you, but neither will we present you with anything. For centuries we
have handed alms to you from goodhearted Q stupidity, have doled out the
mite of the poor and given to the masters the things that are Q not the
masters'; now just open your wallet, for henceforth our ware rises in price
quite enormously. We do not want to take from you anything, anything at
all, only you are to pay better for what you want to have. What then have
you? "I have an estate of a thousand acres." And I am your plowman, and
will henceforth attend to your fields only for one thaler a day wages.
"Then I'll take another." You won't find any, for we plowmen are no longer
doing otherwise, and, if one puts in an appearance who takes less, then let
him beware of us. There is the housemaid, she too is now demanding as much,
and you will no longer find one below this price."Why, then it is all over
with me." Not so fast! You will doubtless take in as much as we; and, if it
should not be so, we will take off so much that you shall have wherewith to
live like us. "But I am accustomed to live better." We have nothing against
that, but it is not our look-out; if you can clear more, go ahead. Are we
to hire out under rates, that you may have a good living? The rich man
always puts off the poor with the words, "What does your want concern me?
See to it how you make your way through the world; that is your affair, not
mine." Well, let us let it be our affair, then, and let us not let the
means that we have to realize value from ourselves be pilfered from us by
the rich. "But you uncultured people really do not need so much." Well, we
are taking somewhat more in order that for it we may procure the culture
that we perhaps need. "But, if you thus bring down the rich, who is then to
support the arts and sciences hereafter?" Oh, well, we must make it up by
numbers; we club together, that gives a nice little sum Q besides, you rich
men now buy only the most tasteless books and the most lamentable Madonnas
or a pair of lively dancer's legs. "O ill-starred equality!" No, my good
old sir, nothing of equality. We only want to count for what we are worth,
and, if you are worth more, you shall count for more right along. We only
want to be worth our price, and think to show ourselves worth the price
that you will pay.
Is the State likely to be able to awaken so secure a temper and so forceful
a self-consciousness in the menial? Can it make man feel himself? Nay, may
it even do so much as set this goal for itself? Can it want the individual
to recognize his value and realize this value from himself? Let us keep the
parts of the double question separate, and see first whether the State can
bring about such a thing. As the unanimity of the plowmen is required, only
this unanimity can bring it to pass, and a State law would be evaded in a
thousand ways by competition and in secret. But can the State bear with it?
The State cannot possibly bear with people's suffering coercion from
another than it; it could not, therefore, admit the self-help of the
unanimous plowmen against those who want to engage for lower wages.
Suppose, however, that the State made the law, and all the plowmen were in
accord with it: could the State bear with it then?
In the isolated case Q yes; but the isolated case is more than that, it is
a case of principle. The question therein is of the whole range of the
ego's self-realization of value from himself, and therefore also of his
self-consciousness against the State. So far the Communists keep company;
but, as self-realization of value from self necessarily directs itself
against the State, so it does against society too, and therewith reaches
out beyond the commune and the communistic Q out of egoism.
Communism makes the maxim of the commonalty, that every one is a possessor
("proprietor"), into an irrefragable truth, into a reality, since the
anxiety about obtaining now ceases and every one has from the start what he
requires. In his labour-force he has his competence, and, if he makes no
use of it, that is his fault. The grasping and hounding is at an end, and
no competition is left (as so often now) without fruit, because with every
stroke of labour an adequate supply of the needful is brought into the
house. Now for the first time one is a real possessor, because what one has
in his labour-force can no longer escape from him as it was continually
threatening to do under the system of competition. One is a care-free and
assured possessor. And one is this precisely by seeking his competence no
longer in a ware, but in his own labour, his competence for labour; and
therefore by being a ragamuffin, a man of only ideal wealth. I, however,
cannot content myself with the little that I scrape up by my competence for
labour, because my competence does not consist merely in my labour.
By labour I can perform the official functions of a president, a minister,
etc.; these offices demand only a general culture Q to wit, such a culture
as is generally attainable (for general culture is not merely that which
every one has attained, but broadly that which every one can attain, and
therefore every special culture, medical, military, philological, of which
no "cultivated man" believes that they surpass his powers), or, broadly,
only a skill possible to all.
But, even if these offices may vest in every one, yet it is only the
individual's unique force, peculiar to him alone. that gives them, so to
speak, life and significance. That he does not manage his office like an
"ordinary man." but puts in the competence of his uniqueness, this he is
not yet paid for when he is paid only in general as an official or a
minister. If he has done it so as to earn your thanks, and you wish to
retain this thank-worthy force of the unique one, you must not pay him like
a mere man who performed only what was human, but as one who accomplishes
what is unique. Do the like with your labour, do!
There cannot be a general schedule-price fixed for my uniqueness as there
can for what I do as man. Only for the latter can a schedule-price be set.
Go right on, then, setting up a general appraisal for human labours, but do
not deprive your uniqueness of its desert.
Human or general needs can be satisfied through society; for satisfaction
of unique needs you must do some seeking. A friend and a friendly service,
or even an individual's service, society cannot procure you. And yet you
will every moment be in need of such a service, and on the slightest
occasions require somebody who is helpful to you. Therefore do not rely on
society, but see to it that you have the wherewithal to Q purchase the
fulfilment of your wishes.
Whether money is to be retained among egoists? To the old stamp an
inherited possession adheres. If you no longer let yourselves be paid with
it, it is ruined: if you do nothing for this money, it loses all power.
Cancel the inheritance, and you have broken off the executor's court-seal.
For now everything is an inheritance, whether it be already inherited or
await its heir. If it is yours, wherefore do you let it be sealed up from
you? Why do you respect the seal?
But why should you not create a new money? Do you then annihilate the ware
in taking from it the hereditary stamp? Now, money is a ware, and an
essential means or competence. For it protects against the ossification of
resources, keeps them in flux and brings to pass their exchange. If you
know a better medium of exchange, go ahead; yet it will be a "money" again.
It is not the money that does you damage, but your incompetence to take it.
Let your competence take effect, collect yourselves, and there will be no
lack of money Q of your money, the money of your stamp. But working I do
not call "letting your competence take effect." Those who are only "looking
for work" and "willing to work hard" are preparing for their own selves the
infallible upshot Q to be out of work.
Good and bad luck depend on money. It is a power in the bourgeois period
for this reason, that it is only wooed on all hands like a girl,
indissolubly wedded by nobody. All the romance and chivalry of wooing for a
dear object come to life again in competition. Money, an object of longing,
is carried off by the bold "knights of industry."98
He who has luck takes home the bride. The ragamuffin has luck; he takes her
into his household, "society," and destroys the virgin. In his house she is
no longer bride, but wife; and with her virginity her family name is also
lost. As housewife the maiden Money is called "Labour," for "Labour" is her
husband's name. She is a possession of her husband's.
To bring this figure to an end, the child of Labour and Money is again a
girl, an unwedded one and therefore Money but with the certain descent from
Labour, her father. The form of the face, the "effigy," bears another
Finally, as regards competition once more, it has a continued existence by
this very means, that all do not attend to their affair and come to an
understanding with each other about it. Bread is a need of all the
inhabitants of a city; therefore they might easily agree on setting up a
public bakery. Instead of this, they leave the furnishing of the needful to
the competing bakers. Just so meat to the butchers, wine to wine-dealers,
Abolishing competition is not equivalent to favouring the guild. The
difference is this: In the guild baking, etc., is the affair of the
guild-brothers; in competition, the affair of chance competitors; in the
union, of those who require baked goods, and therefore my affair, yours,
the affair of neither the guildic nor the concessionary baker, but the
affair of the united.
If I do not trouble myself about my affair, I must be content with what it
pleases others to vouchsafe me. To have bread is my affair, my wish and
desire, and yet people leave that to the bakers and hope at most to obtain
through their wrangling, their getting ahead of each other, their rivalry Q
in short, their competition Q an advantage which one could not count on in
the case of the guild-brothers who were lodged entirely and alone in the
proprietorship of the baking franchise. Q What every one requires, every
one should also take a hand in procuring and producing; it is his affair,
his property, not the property of the guildic or concessionary master.
Let us look back once more. The world belongs to the children of this
world, the children of men; it is no longer God's world, but man's. As much
as every man can procure of it, let him call his; only the true man, the
State, human society or mankind, will look to it that each shall make
nothing else his own than what he appropriates as man, in human fashion.
Unhuman appropriation is that which is not consented to by man, that is, it
is a "criminal" appropriation, as the human, vice versa, is a "rightful"
one, one acquired in the "way of law."
So they talk since the Revolution.
But my property is not a thing, since this has an existence independent of
me; only my might is my own. Not this tree, but my might or control over
it, is what is mine.
Now, how is this might perversely expressed? They say I have a right to
this tree, or it is my rightful property. So I have earned it by might.
That the might must last in order that the tree may also be held - or
better, that the might is not a thing existing of itself, but has existence
solely in the mighty ego, in me the mighty Q is forgotten. Might, like
other of my qualities (humanity, majesty, etc.), is exalted to something
existing of itself, so that it still exists long after it has ceased to be
my might. Thus transformed into a ghost, might is Q right. This eternalized
might is not extinguished even with my death, but is transferred to
Things now really belong not to me, but to right.
On the other side, this is nothing but a hallucination of vision. For the
individual's might becomes permanent and a right only by others joining
their might with his. The delusion consists in their believing that they
cannot withdraw their might. The same phenomenon over again; might is
separated from me. I cannot take back the might that I gave to the
possessor. One has "granted power of attorney," has given away his power,
has renounced coming to a better mind.
The proprietor can give up his might and his right to a thing by giving the
thing away, squandering it, and the like. And we should not be able
likewise to let go the might that we lend to him?
The rightful man, the just, desires to call nothing his own that he does
not have "rightly" or have the right to, and therefore only legitimate
Now, who is to be judge, and adjudge his right to him? At last, surely,
Man, who imparts to him the rights of man: then he can say, in an
infinitely broader sense than Terence, humani nihil a me alienum puto, that
is, the human is my property. However he may go about it, so long as he
occupies this stand-point he cannot get clear of a judge; and in our time
the multifarious judges that had been selected have set themselves against
each other in two persons at deadly enmity Q to wit, in God and Man. The
one party appeal to divine right, the other to human right or the rights of
So much is clear, that in neither case does the individual do the entitling
Just pick me out an action today that would not be a violation of right!
Every moment the rights of man are trampled under foot by one side, while
their opponents cannot open their mouth without uttering a blasphemy
against divine right. Give an alms, you mock at a right of man, because the
relation of beggar and benefactor is an inhuman relation; utter a doubt,
you sin against a divine right. Eat dry bread with contentment, you violate
the right of man by your equanimity; eat it with discontent, you revile
divine right by your repining. There is not one among you who does not
commit a crime at every moment; your speeches are crimes, and every
hindrance to your freedom of speech is no less a crime. Ye are criminals
Yet you are so only in that you all stand on the ground of right, in that
you do not even know, and understand how to value, the fact that you are
Inviolable or sacred property has grown on this very ground: it is a
juridical concept.
A dog sees the bone in another's power, - and stands off only if it feels
itself too weak. But man respects the other's right to his bone. The latter
action, therefore, ranks as human, the former as brutal or "egoistic."
And as here, so in general, it is called "human" when one sees in
everything something spiritual (here right), makes everything a ghost and
takes his attitude toward it as toward a ghost, which one can indeed scare
away at its appearance, but cannot kill. It is human to look at what is
individual not as individual, but as a generality.
In nature as such I no longer respect anything, but know myself to be
entitled to everything against it; in the tree in that garden, on the other
hand, I must respect alienness (they say in one-sided fashion "property"),
I must keep my hand off it. This comes to an end only when I can indeed
leave that tree to another as I leave my stick. etc., to another, but do
not in advance regard it as alien to me, sacred. Rather, I make to myself
no crime of felling it if I will, and it remains my property, however long
as I resign it to others: it is and remains mine. In the banker's fortune I
as little see anything alien as Napoleon did in the territories of kings:
we have no dread of "conquering" it, and we look about us also for the
means thereto. We strip off from it, therefore, the spirit of alienness, of
which we had been afraid.
Therefore it is necessary that I do not lay claim to, anything more as man,
but to everything as I, this I; and accordingly to nothing human, but to
mine; that is, nothing that pertains to me as man, but Q what I will and
because I will it.
Rightful, or legitimate, property of another will be only that which you
are content to recognize as such. If your content ceases, then this
property has lost legitimacy for you, and you will laugh at absolute right
to it.
Besides the hitherto discussed property in the limited sense, there is held
up to our reverent heart another property against which we are far less "to
sin." This property consists in spiritual goods, in the "sanctuary of the
inner nature." What a man holds sacred, no other is to gibe at; because,
untrue as it may be, and zealously as one may "in loving and modest wise"
seek to convince of a true sanctity the man who adheres to it and believes
in it, yet the sacred itself is always to be honoured in it: the mistaken
man does believe in the sacred, even though in an incorrect essence of it,
and so his belief in the sacred must at least be respected.
In ruder times than ours it was customary to demand a particular faith, and
devotion to a particular sacred essence, and they did not take the gentlest
way with those who believed otherwise; since, however, "freedom of belief"
spread itself more and more abroad, the "jealous God and sole Lord"
gradually melted into a pretty general "supreme being," and it satisfied
humane tolerance if only every one revered "something sacred."
Reduced to the most human expression, this sacred essence is "man himself"
and "the human." With the deceptive semblance as if the human were
altogether our own, and free from all the otherworldliness with which the
divine is tainted Q yes, as if Man were as much as I or you Q there may
arise even the proud fancy that the talk is no longer of a "sacred essence"
and that we now feel ourselves everywhere at home and no longer in the
uncanny,99 in the sacred and in sacred awe: in the ecstasy over "Man
discovered at last" the egoistic cry of pain passes unheard, and the spook
that has become so intimate is taken for our true ego.
But "Humanus is the saint's name" (see Goethe), and the humane is only the
most clarified sanctity.
The egoist makes the reverse declaration. For this precise reason, because
you hold something sacred, I gibe at you; and, even if I respected
everything in you, your sanctuary is precisely what I should not respect.
With these opposed views there must also be assumed a contradictory
relation to spiritual goods: the egoist insults them, the religious man
(every one who puts his "essence" above himself ) must consistently Q
protect them. But what kind of spiritual goods are to be protected, and
what left unprotected, depends entirely on the concept that one forms of
the "supreme being"; and he who fears God, for example, has more to shelter
than he (the liberal) who fears Man.
In spiritual goods we are (in distinction from the sensuous) injured in a
spiritual way, and the sin against them consists in a direct desecration,
while against the sensuous a purloining or alienation takes place; the
goods themselves are robbed of value and of consecration, not merely taken
away; the sacred is immediately compromised. With the word "irreverence" or
"flippancy" is designated everything that can be committed as crime against
spiritual goods, against everything that is sacred for us; and scoffing,
reviling, contempt, doubt, and the like, are only different shades of
criminal flippancy.
That desecration can be practiced in the most manifold way is here to be
passed over, and only that desecration is to be preferentially mentioned
which threatens the sacred with danger through an unrestricted press.
As long as respect is demanded even for one spiritual essence, speech and
the press must be enthralled in the name of this essence; for just so long
the egoist might "trespass" against it by his utterances, from which thing
he must be hindered by "due punishment" at least, if one does not prefer to
take up the more correct means against it, the preventive use of police
authority, such as censorship.
What a sighing for liberty of the press! What then is the press to be
liberated from? Surely from a dependence, a belonging, and a liability to
service! But to liberate himself from that is every one's affair, and it
may with safety be assumed that, when you have delivered yourself from
liability to service, that which you compose and write will also belong to
you as your own instead of having been thought and indicted in the service
of some power. What can a believer in Christ say and have printed, that
should be freer from that belief in Christ than he himself is? If I cannot
or may not write something, perhaps the primary fault lies with me. Little
as this seems to hit the point, so near is the application nevertheless to
be found. By a press-law I draw a boundary for my publications, or let one
be drawn, beyond which wrong and its punishment follows. I myself limit
If the press was to be free, nothing would be so important as precisely its
liberation from every coercion that could be put on it in the name of a
law. And, that it might come to that, I my own self should have to have
absolved myself from obedience to the law.
Certainly, the absolute liberty of the press is like every absolute
liberty, a nonentity. The press can become free from full many a thing, but
always only from what I too am free from. If we make ourselves free from
the sacred, if we have become graceless and lawless, our words too will
become so.
As little as we can be declared clear of every coercion in the world, so
little can our writing be withdrawn from it. But as free as we are, so free
we can make it too.
It must therefore become our own, instead of, as hitherto, serving a spook.
People do not yet know what they mean by their cry for liberty of the
press. What they ostensibly ask is that the State shall set the press free;
but what they are really after, without knowing it themselves, is that the
press become free from the the State, or clear of the State. The former is
a petition to the State, the latter an insurrection against the State. As a
"petition for right," even as a serious demanding of the right of liberty
of the press, it presupposes the State as the giver, and can hope only for
a present, a permission, a chartering. Possible, no doubt, that a State
acts so senselessly as to grant the demanded present; but you may bet
everything that those who receive the present will not know how to use it
so long as they regard the State as a truth: they will not trespass against
this "sacred thing," and will call for a penal press-law against every one
who would be willing to dare this.
In a word, the press does not become free from what I am not free from.
Do I perhaps hereby show myself an opponent of the liberty of the press? On
the contrary, I only assert that one will never get it if one wants only
it, the liberty of the press, if one sets out only for an unrestricted
permission. Only beg right along for this permission: you may wait forever
for it, for there is no one in the world who could give it to you. As long
as you want to have yourselves "entitled" to the use of the press by a
permission, you live in vain hope and complaint.
"Nonsense! Why, you yourself, who harbour such thoughts as stand in your
book, can unfortunately bring them to publicity only through a lucky chance
or by stealth; nevertheless you will inveigh against one's pressing and
importuning his own State till it gives the refused permission to print?"
But an author thus addressed would perhaps Q for the impudence of such
people goes far Q give the following reply: "Consider well what you say!
What then do I do to procure myself liberty of the press for my book? Do I
ask for permission, or do I not rather, without any question of legality,
seek a favourable occasion and grasp it in complete recklessness of the
State and its wishes? I Q the terrifying word must be uttered Q I cheat the
State. You unconsciously do the same. From your tribunes you talk it into
the idea that it must give up its sanctity and inviolability, it must lay
itself bare to the attacks of writers, without needing on that account to
fear danger. But you are imposing on it; for its existence is done for as
soon as it loses its unapproachableness. To you indeed it might well accord
liberty of writing, as England has done; you are believers in the State and
incapable of writing against the State, however much you would like to
reform it and 'remedy its defects.' But what if opponents of the State
availed themselves of free utterance, and stormed out against Church,
State, morals, and everything 'sacred' with inexorable reasons? You would
then be the first, in terrible agonies, to call into life the September
laws.100 Too late would you then rue the stupidity that earlier made you so
ready to fool and palaver into compliance the State, or the government of
the State. Q But, I prove by my act only two things. This for one, that the
liberty of the press is always bound to 'favourable opportunities,' and
accordingly will never be an absolute liberty; but secondly this, that he
who would enjoy it must seek out and, if possible, create the favourable
opportunity, availing himself of his own advantage against the State; and
counting himself and his will more than the State and every 'superior'
power. Not in the State, but only against it, can the liberty of the press
be carried through; if it is to be established, it is to be obtained not as
the consequence of a petition but as the work of an insurrection. Every
petition and every motion for liberty of the press is already an
insurrection, be it conscious or unconscious: a thing which Philistine
halfness alone will not and cannot confess to itself until, with a
shrinking shudder, it shall see it clearly and irrefutably by the outcome.
For the requested liberty of the press has indeed a friendly and
well-meaning face at the beginning, as it is not in the least minded ever
to let the 'insolence of the press' come into vogue; but little by little
its heart grows more hardened, and the inference flatters its way in that
really a liberty is not a liberty if it stands in the service of the State,
of morals, or of the law. A liberty indeed from the coercion of censorship,
it is yet not a liberty from the coercion of law. The press, once seized by
the lust for liberty, always wants to grow freer, till at last the writer
says to himself, really I am not wholly free till I ask about nothing; and
writing is free only when it is my own, dictated to me by no power or
authority, by no faith, no dread; the press must not be free Q that is too
little Q it must be mine: Q ownness of the press or property in the press,
that is what I will take.
"Why, liberty of the press is only permission of the press, and the State
never will or can voluntarily permit me to grind it to nothingness by the
Let us now, in conclusion, bettering the above language, which is still
vague, owing to the phrase 'liberty of the press,' rather put it thus:
"liberty of the press, the liberals' loud demand, is assuredly possible in
the State; yes, it is possible only in the State, because it is a
permission, and consequently the permitter (the State) must not be lacking.
But as permission it has its limit in this very State, which surely should
not in reason permit more than is compatible with itself and its welfare:
the State fixes for it this limit as the law of its existence and of its
extension. That one State brooks more than another is only a quantitative
distinction, which alone, nevertheless, lies at the heart of the political
liberals: they want in Germany, for example, only a 'more extended, broader
accordance of free utterance.' The liberty of the press which is sought for
is an affair of the people'.s, and before the people (the State) possesses
it I may make no use of it. From the stand-point of property in the press,
the situation is different. Let my people, if they will, go without liberty
of free press, I will manage to print by force or ruse; I get my permission
to print only from Q myself and my strength.
If the press is my own, I as little need a permission of the State for
employing it as I seek that permission in order to blow my nose. The press
is my property from the moment when nothing is more to me than myself; for
from this moment State, Church, people, society, and the like, cease,
because they have to thank for their existence only the disrespect that I
have for myself, and with the vanishing of this undervaluation they
themselves are extinguished: they exist only when they exist above me,
exist only as powers and power-holders. Or can you imagine a State whose
citizens one and all think nothing of it? It would be as certainly a dream,
an existence in seeming, as 'united Germany.'
The press is my own as soon as I myself am my own, a self-owned man: to the
egoist belongs the world, because he belongs to no power of the world.
With this my press might still be very unfree, as at this moment. But the
world is large, and one helps himself as well as he can. If I were willing
to abate from the property of my press, I could easily attain the point
where I might everywhere have as much printed as my fingers produced. But,
as I want to assert my property, I must necessarily swindle my enemies.
'Would you not accept their permission if it were given you?' Certainly,
with joy; for their permission would be to me a proof that I had fooled
them and started them on the road to ruin. I am not concerned for their
permission, but so much the more for their folly and their overthrow. I do
not sue for their permission as if I flattered myself (like the political
liberals) that we both, they and I, could make out peaceably alongside and
with each other, yes, probably raise and prop each other; but I sue for it
in order to make them bleed to death by it, that the permitters themselves
may cease at last. I act as a conscious enemy, overreaching them and
utilizing their heedlessness.
The press is mine when I recognize outside myself no judge whatever over
its utilization, when my writing is no longer determined by morality or
religion or respect for the State laws or the like, but by me and my
Now, what have you to reply to him who gives you so impudent an answer? Q
We shall perhaps put the question most strikingly by phrasing it as
follows: Whose is the press, the people's (State's) or mine? The politicals
on their side intend nothing further than to liberate the press from
personal and arbitrary interferences of the possessors of power, without
thinking of the point that to be really open for everybody it would also
have to be free from the laws, from the people's (State's) will. They want
to make a "people's affair" of it.
But, having become the people's property, it is still far from being mine;
rather, it retains for me the subordinate significance of a permission. The
people plays judge over my thoughts; it has the right of calling me to
account for them, or, I am responsible to it for them. Jurors, when their
fixed ideas are attacked, have just as hard heads as the stiffest despots
and their servile officials.
In the Liberalen Bestrebungen 101 Edgar Bauer asserts that liberty of the
press is impossible in the absolutist and the constitutional State, whereas
in the "free State" it finds its place. "Here," the statement is, "it is
recognized that the individual, because he is no longer an individual but a
member of a true and rational generality, has the right to utter his mind."
So not the individual, but the "member," has liberty of the press. But, if
for the purpose of liberty of the press the individual must first give
proof of himself regarding his belief in the generality, the people; if he
does not have this liberty through might of his own Q then it is a people's
liberty, a liberty that he is invested with for the sake of his faith, his
"membership." The reverse is the case: it is precisely as an individual
that every one has open to him the liberty to utter his mind. But he has
not the "right": that liberty is assuredly not his "sacred right." He has
only the might; but the might alone makes him owner. I need no concession
for the liberty of the press, do not need the people's consent to it, do
not need the "right" to it, nor any "justification." The liberty of the
press too, like every liberty, I must "take"; the people, "as being the
sole judge," cannot give it to me. It can put up with me the liberty that I
take, or defend itself against it; give, bestow, grant it it cannot. I
exercise it despite the people, purely as an individual; I get it by
fighting the people, my Q enemy, and obtain it only when I really get it by
such fighting, take it. But I take it because it is my property.
Sander, against whom E. Bauer writes, lays claim (page 99) to the liberty
of the press "as the right and the liberty of the citizens in the State".
What else does Edgar Bauer do? To him also it is only a right of the free
The liberty of the press is also demanded under the name of a "general
human right." Against this the objection was well-founded that not every
man knew how to use it rightly, for not every individual was truly man.
Never did a government refuse it to Man as such; but Man writes nothing,
for the reason that he is a ghost. It always refused it to individuals
only, and gave it to others, its organs. If then one would have it for all,
one must assert outright that it is due to the individual, me, not to man
or to the individual so far as he is man. Besides, another than a man (a
beast) can make no use of it. The French government, for example, does not
dispute the liberty of the press as a right of man, but demands from the
individual a security for his really being man; for it assigns liberty of
the press not to the individual, but to man.
Under the exact pretense that it was not human, what was mine was taken
from me! What was human was left to me undiminished.
Liberty of the press can bring about only a responsible press; the
irresponsible proceeds solely from property in the press.

For intercourse with men an express law (conformity to which one may
venture at times sinfully to forget, but the absolute value of which one at
no time ventures to deny) is placed foremost among all who live
religiously: this is the law Q of love, to which not even those who seem to
fight against its principle, and who hate its name, have as yet become
untrue; for they also still have love, yes, they love with a deeper and
more sublimated love, they love "man and mankind."
If we formulate the sense of this law, it will be about as follows: Every
man must have a something that is more to him than himself. You are to put
your "private interest" in the background when it is a question of the
welfare of others, the weal of the fatherland, of society, the common weal,
the weal of mankind, the good cause, and the like! Fatherland, society,
mankind, must be more to you than yourself, and as against their interest
your "private interest" must stand back; for you must not be an Q egoist.
Love is a far-reaching religious demand, which is not, as might be
supposed, limited to love to God and man, but stands foremost in every
regard. Whatever we do, think, will, the ground of it is always to be love.
Thus we may indeed judge, but only "with love." The Bible may assuredly be
criticized, and that very thoroughly, but the critic must before all things
love it and see in it the sacred book. Is this anything else than to say he
must not criticize it to death, he must leave it standing, and that as a
sacred thing that cannot be upset? Q In our criticism on men too, love must
remain the unchanged key-note. Certainly judgments that hatred inspires are
not at all our own judgments, but judgments of the hatred that rules us,
"rancorous judgments." But are judgments that love inspires in us any more
our own ? They are judgments of the love that rules us, they are "loving,
lenient" judgments, they are not our own, and accordingly not real
judgments at all. He who burns with love for justice cries out, fiat
justitia, pereat mundus! He can doubtless ask and investigate what justice
properly is or demands, and in what it consists, but not whether it is
It is very true, "He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1
John 4. 16.) God abides in him, he does not get rid of God, does not become
godless; and he abides in God, does not come to himself and into his own
home, abides in love to God and does not become loveless.
"God is love! All times and all races recognize in this word the central
point of Christianity." God, who is love, is an officious God: he cannot
leave the world in peace, but wants to make it blest. "God became man to
make men divine.''102 He has his hand in the game everywhere, and nothing
happens without it; everywhere he has his "best purposes," his
"incomprehensible plans and decrees." Reason, which he himself is, is to be
forwarded and realized in the whole world. His fatherly care deprives us of
all independence. We can do nothing sensible without its being said, God
did that, and can bring upon ourselves no misfortune without hearing, God
ordained that; we have nothing that we have not from him, he "gave"
everything. But, as God does, so does Man. God wants perforce to make the
world blest, and Man wants to make it happy, to make all men happy. Hence
every "man" wants to awaken in all men the reason which he supposes his own
self to have: everything is to be rational throughout. God torments himself
with the devil, and the philosopher does it with unreason and the
accidental. God lets no being go its own gait, and Man likewise wants to
make us walk only in human wise.
But whoso is full of sacred (religious, moral, humane) love loves only the
spook, the "true man," and persecutes with dull mercilessness the
individual, the real man, under the phlegmatic legal title of measures
against the "un-man." He finds it praiseworthy and indispensable to
exercise pitilessness in the harshest measure; for love to the spook or
generality commands him to hate him who is not ghostly, the egoist or
individual; such is the meaning of the renowned love-phenomenon that is
called "justice."
The criminally arraigned man can expect no forbearance, and no one spreads
a friendly veil over his unhappy nakedness. Without emotion the stern judge
tears the last rags of excuse from the body of the poor accused; without
compassion the jailer drags him into his damp abode; without placability,
when the time of punishment has expired, he thrusts the branded man again
among men, his good, Christian, loyal brethren, who contemptuously spit on
him. Yes, without grace a criminal "deserving of death" is led to the
scaffold, and before the eyes of a jubilating crowd the appeased moral law
celebrates its sublime Q revenge. For only one can live, the moral law or
the criminal. Where criminals live unpunished, the moral law has fallen;
and, where this prevails, those must go down. Their enmity is
The Christian age is precisely that of mercy, love, solicitude to have men
receive what is due them, yes, to bring them to fulfil their human (divine)
calling. Therefore the principle has been put foremost for intercourse,
that this and that is man's essence and consequently his calling, to which
either God has called him or (according to the concepts of today) his being
man (the species) calls him. Hence the zeal for conversion. That the
Communists and the humane expect from man more than the Christians do does
not change the stand-point in the least. Man shall get what is human! If it
was enough for the pious that what was divine became his part, the humane
demand that he be not curtailed of what is human. Both set themselves
against what is egoistic. Of course; for what is egoistic cannot be
accorded to him or vested in him (a fief); he must procure it for himself.
Love imparts the former, the latter can be given to me by myself alone.
Intercourse hitherto has rested on love, regardful behaviour, doing for
each other. As one owed it to himself to make himself blessed, or owed
himself the bliss of taking up into himself the supreme essence and
bringing it to a vrit (a truth and reality), so one owed it to others to
help them realize their essence and their calling: in both cases one owed
it to the essence of man to contribute to its realization.
But one owes it neither to himself to make anything out of himself, nor to
others to make anything out of them; for one owes nothing to his essence
and that of others. Intercourse resting on essence is an intercourse with
the spook, not with anything real. If I hold intercourse with the supreme
essence, I am not holding intercourse with myself, and, if I hold
intercourse with the essence of man, I am not holding intercourse with men.
The natural man's love becomes through culture a commandment. But as
commandment it belongs to Man as such. not to me; it is my essence,103
about which much ado104 is made. not my property. Man, humanity, presents
that demand to me; love is demanded, it is my duty. Instead, therefore, of
being really won for me, it has been won for the generality, Man, as his
property or peculiarity: "it becomes man, every man, to love; love is the
duty and calling of man," etc.
Consequently I must again vindicate love for myself, and deliver it out of
the power of Man with the great M.
What was originally mine, but accidentally mine, instinctively mine, I was
invested with as the property of Man; I became feoffee in loving, I became
the retainer of mankind, only a specimen of this species, and acted,
loving, not as I, but as man, as a specimen of man, the humanly. The whole
condition of civilization is the feudal system, the property being Man's or
mankind's, not mine. A monstrous feudal State was founded, the individual
robbed of everything, everything left to "man." The individual had to
appear at last as a "sinner through and through."
Am I perchance to have no lively interest in the person of another, are his
joy and his weal not to lie at my heart, is the enjoyment that I furnish
him not to be more to me than other enjoyments of my own? On the contrary,
I can with joy sacrifice to him numberless enjoyments, I can deny myself
numberless things for the enhancement of his pleasure, and I can hazard for
him what without him was the dearest to me, my life, my welfare, my
freedom. Why, it constitutes my pleasure and my happiness to refresh myself
with his happiness and his pleasure. But myself, my own self, I do not
sacrifice to him, but remain an egoist and - enjoy him. If I sacrifice to
him everything that but for my love to him I should keep, that is very
simple, and even more usual in life than it seems to be; but it proves
nothing further than that this one passion is more powerful in me than all
the rest. Christianity too teaches us to sacrifice all other passions to
this. But, if to one passion I sacrifice others, I do not on that account
go so far as to sacrifice myself, nor sacrifice anything of that whereby I
truly am myself; I do not sacrifice my peculiar value, my ownness. Where
this bad case occurs, love cuts no better figure than any other passion
that I obey blindly. The ambitious man, who is carried away by ambition and
remains deaf to every warning that a calm moment begets in him, has let
this passion grow up into a despot against whom he abandons all power of
dissolution: he has given up himself, because he cannot dissolve himself,
and consequently cannot absolve himself from the passion: he is possessed.
I love men too Q not merely individuals, but every one. But I love them
with the consciousness of egoism; I love them because love makes me happy,
I love because loving is natural to me, because it pleases me. I know no
''commandment of love." I have a fellow-feeling with every feeling being,
and their torment torments, their refreshment refreshes me too; I can kill
them, not torture them. Per contra, the high-souled, virtuous Philistine
prince Rudolph in The Mysteries of Paris,105 because the wicked provoke his
"indignation," plans their torture. That fellow-feeling proves only that
the feeling of those who feel is mine too, my property; in opposition to
which the pitiless dealing of the "righteous" man (as against notary
Ferrand) is like the unfeelingness of that robber [Procrustes] who cut off
or stretched his prisoners' legs to the measure of his bedstead: Rudolph's
bedstead, which he cuts men to fit, is the concept of the "good." The for
right, virtue, etc., makes people hard-hearted and intolerant. Rudolph does
not feel like the notary, but the reverse; he feels that "it serves the
rascal right"; that is no fellow-feeling.
You love man, therefore you torture the individual man, the egoist; your
philanthropy (love of men) is the tormenting of men.
If I see the loved one suffer, I suffer with him, and I know no rest till I
have tried everything to comfort and cheer him; if I see him glad, I too
become glad over his joy. From this it does not follow that suffering or
joy is caused in me by the same thing that brings out this effect in him,
as is sufficiently proved by every bodily pain which I do not feel as he
does; his tooth pains him, but his pain pains me.
But, because I cannot bear the troubled crease on the beloved forehead, for
that reason, and therefore for my sake, I kiss it away. If I did not love
this person, he might go right on making creases, they would not trouble
me; I am only driving away my trouble.
How now, has anybody or anything, whom and.which I do not love, a right to
be loved by me? Is my love first, or is his right first? Parents, kinsfolk,
fatherland, nation, native town, etc., finally fellowmen in general
("brothers, fraternity"), assert that they have a right to my love, and lay
claim to it without further ceremony. They look upon it as their property,
and upon me, if I do not respect this, as a robber who takes from them what
pertains to them and is theirs. I should love. If love is a commandment and
law, then I must be educated into it, cultivated up to it, and, if I
trespass against it, punished. Hence people will exercise as strong a
"moral influence" as possible on me to bring me to love. And there is no
doubt that one can work up and seduce men to love as one can to other
passions Q if you like, to hate. Hate runs through whole races merely
because the ancestors of the one belonged to the Guelphs, those of the other
to the Ghibellines.
But love is not a commandment, but, like each of my feelings, my property.
Acquire, purchase, my property, and then I will make it over to you. A
church, a nation, a fatherland, a family, etc., that does not know how to
acquire my love, I need not love; and I fix the purchase price of my love
quite at my pleasure.
Selfish love is far distant from unselfish, mystical, or romantic love. One
can love everything possible, not merely men, but an "object" in general
(wine, one's fatherland, etc.). Love becomes blind and crazy by a must
taking it out of my power (infatuation), romantic by a should entering into
it, by the "objects" becoming sacred for me, or my becoming bound to it by
duty, conscience, oath. Now the object no longer exists for me, but I for
Love is a possessedness, not as my feeling Q as such I rather keep it in my
possession as property Q but through the alienness of the object. For
religious love consists in the commandment to love in the beloved a "holy
one," or to adhere to a holy one; for unselfish love there are objects
absolutely lovable for which my heart is to beat, such as fellow-men, or my
wedded mate, kinsfolk, etc. Holy Love loves the holy in the beloved, and
therefore exerts itself also to make of the beloved more and more a holy
one (a "man").
The beloved is an object that should be loved by me. He is not an object of
my love on account of, because of, or by, my loving him, but is an object
of love in and of himself. Not I make him an object of love, but he is such
to begin with; for it is here irrelevant that he has become so by my
choice, if so it be (as with a fiance, a spouse, and the like), since even
so he has in any case, as the person once chosen, obtained a "right of his
own to my love," and I, because I have loved him, am under obligation to
love him forever. He is therefore not an object of my love, but of love in
general: an object that should be loved. Love appertains to him, is due to
him, or is his right, while I am under obligation to love him. My love, the
toll of love that I pay him, is in truth his love, which he only collects
from me as toll.
Every love to which there clings but the smallest speck of obligation is an
unselfish love, and, so far as this speck reaches, a possessedness. He who
believes that he owes the object of his love anything loves romantically or
Family love, as it is usually understood as "piety," is a religious love;
love of fatherland, preached as "patriotism," likewise. All our romantic
loves move in the same pattern: everywhere the hypocrisy, or rather
self-deception, of an "unselfish love," an interest in the object for the
object's sake, not for my sake and mine alone.
Religious or romantic love is distinguished from sensual love by the
difference of the object indeed, but not by the dependence of the relation
to it. In the latter regard both are possessedness; but in the former the
one object is profane, the other sacred. The dominion of the object over me
is the same in both cases, only that it is one time a sensuous one, the
other time a spiritual (ghostly) one. My love is my own only when it
consists altogether in a selfish and egoistic interest, and when
consequently the object of my love is really my object or my property. I
owe my property nothing, and have no duty to it, as little as I might have
a duty to my eye; if nevertheless I guard it with the greatest care, I do
so on my account.
Antiquity lacked love as little as do Christian times; the god of love is
older than the God of Love. But the mystical possessedness belongs to the
The possessedness of love lies in the alienation of the object, or in my
powerlessness as against its alienness and superior power. To the egoist
nothing is high enough for him to humble himself before it, nothing so
independent that he would live for love of it, nothing so sacred that he
would sacrifice himself to it. The egoist's love rises in selfishness,
flows in the bed of selfishness, and empties into selfishness again.
Whether this can still be called love? If you know another word for it, go
ahead and choose it; then the sweet word love may wither with the departed
world; for the present I at least find none in our Christian language, and
hence stick to the old sound and "love" my object, my Q property.
Only as one of my feelings do I harbour love; but as a power above me, as a
divine power, as Feuerbach says, as a passion that I am not to cast off, as
a religious and moral duty, I Q scorn it. As my feeling it is mine; as a
principle to which I consecrate and "vow" my soul it is a dominator and
divine, just as hatred as a principle is diabolical; one not better than
the other. In short, egoistic love, my love, is neither holy nor unholy,
neither divine nor diabolical.
"A love that is limited by faith is an untrue love. The sole limitation
that does not contradict the essence of love is the self-limitation of love
by reason, intelligence. Love that scorns the rigour, the law, of
intelligence, is theoretically a false love, practically a ruinous
one.''106 So love is in its essence rational! So thinks Feuerbach; the
believer, on the contrary, thinks, Love is in its essence believing. The
one inveighs against irrational, the other against unbelieving, love. To
both it can at most rank as a splendidum vitium. Do not both leave love
standing, even in the form of unreason and unbelief? They do not dare to
say, irrational or unbelieving love is nonsense, is not love; as little as
they are willing to say, irrational or unbelieving tears are not tears.
But, if even irrational love, etc., must count as love, and if they are
nevertheless to be unworthy of man, there follows simply this: love is not
the highest thing, but reason or faith; even the unreasonable and the
unbelieving can love; but love has value only when it is that of a rational
or believing person. It is an illusion when Feuerbach calls the rationality
of love its ''self-limitation''; the believer might with the same right
call belief its "self-limitation." Irrational love is neither "false" nor
"ruinous"; its does its service as love.
Toward the world, especially toward men, I am to assume a particular
feeling, and "meet them with love," with the feeling of love, from the
beginning. Certainly, in this there is revealed far more free-will and
self-determination than when I let myself be stormed, by way of the world,
by all possible feelings, and remain exposed to the most checkered, most
accidental impressions. I go to the world rather with a preconceived
feeling, as if it were a prejudice and a preconceived opinion; I have
prescribed to myself in advance my behaviour toward it, and, despite all
its temptations, feel and think about it only as I have once determined to.
Against the dominion of the world I secure myself by the principle of love;
for, whatever may come, I Q love. The ugly, for example, makes a repulsive
impression on me; but, determined to love, I master this impression as I do
every antipathy.
But the feeling to which I have determined and Q condemned myself from the
start is a narrow feeling, because it is a predestined one, of which I
myself am not able to get clear or to declare myself clear. Because
preconceived, it is a prejudice. I no longer show myself in face of the
world, but my love shows itself. The world indeed does not rule me, but so
much the more inevitably does the spirit of love rule this spirit.
If I first said, I love the world, I now add likewise: I do not love it,
for I annihilate it as I annihilate myself; I dissolve it. I do not limit
myself to one feeling for men, but give free play to all that I am capable
of. Why should I not dare speak it out in all its glaringness? Yes, I
utilize the world and men! With this I can keep myself open to every
impression without being torn away from myself by one of them. I can love,
love with a full heart, and let the most consuming glow of passion burn in
my heart, without taking the beloved one for anything else than the
nourishment of my passion, on which it ever refreshes itself anew. All my
care for him applies only to the object of my love, only to him whom my
love requires, only to him, the "warmly loved." How indifferent would he be
to me without this Q my love! I feed only my love with him, I utilize him
for this only: I enjoy him.
Let us choose another convenient example. I see how men are fretted in dark
superstition by a swarm of ghosts. If to the extent of my powers I let a
bit of daylight fall in on the nocturnal spookery, is it perchance because
love to you inspires this in me? Do I write out of love to men? No, I write
because I want to procure for my thoughts an existence in the world; and,
even if I foresaw that these thoughts would deprive you of your rest and
your peace, even if I saw the bloodiest wars and the fall of many
generations springing up from this seed of thought Q I would nevertheless
scatter it. Do with it what you will and can, that is your affair and does
not trouble me. You will perhaps have only trouble, combat, and death from
it, very few will draw joy from it. If your weal lay at my heart, I should
act as the church did in withholding the Bible from the laity, or Christian
governments, which make it a sacred duty for themselves to "protect the
common people from bad books."
But not only not for your sake, not even for truth's sake either do I speak
out what I think. No Q 

		I sing as the bird sings
		That on the bough alights;
		The song that from me springs
		Is pay that well requites.

I sing because Q I am a singer. But I use107 you for it because I Q need108
Where the world comes in my way Q and it comes in my way everywhere Q I
consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For me you are nothing but Q
my food, even as I too am fed upon and turned to use by you. We have only
one relation to each other, that of usableness, of utility, of use. We owe
each other nothing, for what I seem to owe you I owe at most to myself. If
I show you a cheery air in order to cheer you likewise, then your
cheeriness is of consequence to me, and my air serves my wish; to a
thousand others, whom I do not aim to cheer, I do not show it.

One has to be educated up to that love which founds itself on the "essence
of man" or, in the ecclesiastical and moral period, lies upon us as a
"commandment." In what fashion moral influence, the chief ingredient of our
education, seeks to regulate the intercourse of men shall here be looked at
with egoistic eyes in one example at least.
Those who educate us make it their concern early to break us of lying and
to inculcate the principle that one must always tell the truth. If
selfishness were made the basis for this rule, every one would easily
understand how by lying he fools away that confidence in him which he hopes
to awaken in others, and how correct the maxim proves, Nobody believes a
liar even when he tells the truth. Yet, at the same time, he would also
feel that he had to meet with truth only him whom he authorized to hear the
truth. If a spy walks in disguise through the hostile camp, and is asked
who he is, the askers are assuredly entitled to inquire after his name, but
the disguised man does not give them the right to learn the truth from him;
he tells them what he likes, only not the fact. And yet morality demands,
"Thou shalt not lie!" By morality those persons are vested with the right
to expect the truth; but by me they are not vested with that right, and I
recognize only the right that I impart. In a gathering of revolutionists
the police force their way in and ask the orator for his name; everybody
knows that the police have the right to do so, but they do not have it from
the revolutionist, since he is their enemy; he tells them a false name and
Q cheats them with a lie. The police do not act so foolishly either as to
count on their enemies' love of truth; on the contrary, they do not believe
without further ceremony, but have the questioned individual "identified"
if they can. Nay, the State - everywhere proceeds incredulously with
individuals, because in their egoism it recognizes its natural enemy; it
invariably demands a "voucher," and he who cannot show vouchers falls a
prey to its investigating inquisition. The State does not believe nor trust
the individual, and so of itself places itself with him in the convention
of lying; it trusts me only when it has convinced itself of the truth of my
statement, for which there often remains to it no other means than the
oath. How clearly, too, this (the oath) proves that the State does not
count on our credibility and love of truth, but on our interest, our
selfishness: it relies on our not wanting to fall foul of God by a perjury.
Now, let one imagine a French revolutionist in the year 1788, who among
friends let fall the now well-known phrase, "the world will have no rest
till the last king is hanged with the guts of the last priest." The king
then still had all power, and, when the utterance is betrayed by an
accident, yet without its being possible to produce witnesses, confession
is demanded from the accused. Is he to confess or not? If he denies, he
lies and Q remains unpunished; if he confesses, he is candid and Q is
beheaded. If truth is more than everything else to him, all right, let him
die. Only a paltry poet could try to make a tragedy out of the end of his
life; for what interest is there in seeing how a man succumbs from
cowardice? But, if he had the courage not to be a slave of truth and
sincerity, he would ask somewhat thus: Why need the judges know what I have
spoken among friends? If I had wished them to know, I should have said it
to them as I said it to my friends. I will not have them know it. They
force themselves into my confidence without my having called them to it and
made them my confidants; they will learn what I will keep secret. Come on
then, you who wish to break my will by your will, and try your arts. You
can torture me by the rack, you can threaten me with hell and eternal
damnation, you can make me so nerveless that I swear a false oath, but the
truth you shall not press out of me, for I will lie to you because I have
given you no claim and no right to my sincerity. Let God, "who is truth,"
look down ever so threateningly on me, let lying come ever so hard to me, I
have nevertheless the courage of a lie; and, even if I were weary of my
life, even if nothing appeared to me more welcome than your executioner's
sword, you nevertheless should not have the joy of finding in me a slave of
truth, whom by your priestly arts you make a traitor to his will. When I
spoke those treasonable words, I would not have had you know anything of
them; I now retain the same will, and do not let myself be frightened by
the curse of the lie.
Sigismund is not a miserable caitiff because he broke his princely word,109
but he broke the word because he was a caitiff; he might have kept his word
and would still have been a caitiff, a priest-ridden man. Luther, driven by
a higher power, became unfaithful to his monastic vow: he became so for
God's sake. Both broke their oath as possessed persons: Sigismund, because
he wanted to appear as a sincere professor of the divine truth, that is, of
the true, genuinely Catholic faith; Luther, in order to give testimony for
the gospel sincerely and with entire truth. with body and soul; both became
perjured in order to be sincere toward the "higher truth." Only, the
priests absolved the one, the other absolved himself. What else did both
observe than what is contained in those apostolic words, "Thou hast not
lied to men, but to God?" They lied to men, broke their oath before the
world's eyes, in order not to lie to God, but to serve him. Thus they show
us a way to deal with truth before men. For God's glory, and for God's
sake, a Q breach of oath, a lie, a prince's word broken!
How would it be, now, if we changed the thing a little and wrote, A perjury
and lie for Q my sake? Would not that be pleading for every baseness? It
seems so, assuredly, only in this it is altogether like the "for God's
sake." For was not every baseness committed for God's sake, were not all
the scaffolds filled for his sake and all the autos-da-f held for his
sake, was not all stupefaction introduced for his sake? And do they not
today still for God's sake fetter the mind in tender children by religious
education? Were not sacred vows broken for his sake, and do not
missionaries and priests still go around every day to bring Jews, heathen,
Protestants or Catholics, to treason against the faith of their fathers Q
for his sake? And that should be worse with the for my sake? What then does
on my account mean? There people immediately think of "filthy lucre". But
he who acts from love of filthy lucre does it on his own account indeed, as
there is nothing anyhow that one does not do for his own sake Q among other
things, everything that is done for God's glory; yet he, for whom he seeks
the lucre, is a slave of lucre, not raised above lucre; he is one who
belongs to lucre, the money-bag, not to himself; he is not his own. Must
not a man whom the passion of avarice rules follow the commands of this
master? And, if a weak goodnaturedness once beguiles him, does this not
appear as simply an exceptional case of precisely the same sort as when
pious believers are sometimes forsaken by their Lord's guidance and
ensnared by the arts of the "devil?" So an avaricious man is not a
self-owned man, but a servant; and he can do nothing for his own sake
without at the same time doing it for his lord's sake - precisely like the
godly man.
Famous is the breach of oath which Francis I committed against Emperor
Charles V.110 Not later, when he ripely weighed his promise, but at once,
when he swore the oath, King Francis took it back in thought as well as by
a secret protestation documentarily subscribed before his councillors; he
uttered a perjury afore-thought. Francis did not show himself disinclined
to buy his release, but the price that Charles put on it seemed to him too
high and unreasonable. Even though Charles behaved himself in a sordid
fashion when he sought to extort as much as possible, it was yet shabby of
Francis to want to purchase his freedom for a lower ransom; and his later
dealings, among which there occurs yet a second breach of his word, prove
sufficiently how the huckster spirit held him enthralled and made him a
shabby swindler. However, what shall we say to the reproach of perjury
against him? In the first place, surely, this again: that not the perjury,
but his sordidness, shamed him; that he did not deserve contempt for his
perjury, but made himself guilty of perjury because he was a contemptible
man. But Francis's perjury, regarded in itself, demands another judgment.
One might say Francis did not respond to the confidence that Charles put in
him in setting him free. But, if Charles had really favoured him with
confidence, he would have named to him the price that he considered the
release worth, and would then have set him at liberty and expected Francis
to pay the redemption-sum. Charles harboured no such trust, but only
believed in Francis's impotence and credulity, which would not allow him to
act against his oath; but Francis deceived only this Q credulous
calculation. When Charles believed he was assuring himself of his enemy by
an oath, right there he was freeing him from every obligation. Charles had
given the king credit for a piece of stupidity, a narrow conscience, and,
without confidence in Francis, counted only on Francis's stupidity, that
is, conscientiousness: he let him go from the Madrid prison only to hold
him the more securely in the prison of conscientiousness, the great jail
built about the mind of man by religion: he sent him back to France locked
fast in invisible chains, what wonder if Francis sought to escape and sawed
the chains apart? No man would have taken it amiss of him if he had
secretly fled from Madrid, for he was in an enemy's power; but every good
Christian cries out upon him, that he wanted to loose himself from God's
bonds too. (It was only later that the pope absolved him from his oath.)
It is despicable to deceive a confidence that we voluntarily call forth;
but it is no shame to egoism to let every one who wants to get us into his
power by an oath bleed to death by the unsuccessfulness of his untrustful
craft. If you have wanted to bind me, then learn that I know how to burst
your bonds.
The point is whether I give the confider the right to confidence. If the
pursuer of my friend asks me where he has fled to, I shall surely put him
on a false trail. Why does he ask precisely me, the pursued man's friend?
In order not to be a false, traitorous friend, I prefer to be false to the
enemy. I might certainly in courageous conscientiousness, answer, "I will
not tell" (so Fichte decides the case); by that I should salve my love of
truth and do for my friend as much as Q nothing, for, if I do not mislead
the enemy, he may accidentally take the right street, and my love of truth
would have given up my friend as a prey, because it hindered me from the Q
courage for a lie. He who has in the truth an idol, a sacred thing, must
humble himself before it, must not defy its demands, not resist
courageously; in short, he must renounce the heroism of the lie. For to the
lie belongs not less courage than to the truth: a courage that young men
are most apt to be defective in, who would rather confess the truth and
mount the scaffold for it than confound the enemy's power by the impudence
of a lie. To them the truth is "sacred," and the sacred at all times
demands blind reverence, submission, and self-sacrifice. If you are not
impudent, not mockers of the sacred, you are tame and its servants. Let one
but lay a grain of truth in the trap for you, you peck at it to a
certainty, and the fool is caught. You will not lie? Well, then, fall as
sacrifices to the truth and become Q martyrs! Martyrs! Q for what? For
yourselves, for self-ownership? No, for your goddess Q the truth. You know
only two services, only two kinds of servants: servants of the truth and
servants of the lie. Then in God's name serve the truth!
Others, again, serve the truth also; but they serve it "in moderation," and
make a great distinction between a simple lie and a lie sworn to. And yet
the whole chapter of the oath coincides with that of the lie, since an
oath, everybody knows, is only a strongly assured statement. You consider
yourselves entitled to lie, if only you do not swear to it besides? One who
is particular about it must judge and condemn a lie as sharply as a false
oath. But now there has been kept up in morality an ancient point of
controversy, which is customarily treated of under the name of the "lie of
necessity." No one who dares plead for this can consistently put from him
an "oath of necessity." If I justify my lie as a lie of necessity, I should
not be so pusillanimous as to rob the justified lie of the strongest
corroboration. Whatever I do, why should I not do it entirely and without
reservations (reservatio mentalis )? If I once lie, why then not lie
completely, with entire consciousness and all my might? As a spy I should
have to swear to each of my false statements at the enemy's demand;
determined to lie to him, should I suddenly become cowardly and undecided
in face of an oath? Then I should have been ruined in advance for a liar
and spy; for, you see, I should be voluntarily putting into the enemy's
hands a means to catch me. Q The State too fears the oath of necessity, and
for this reason does not give the accused a chance to swear. But you do not
justify the State's fear; you lie, but do not swear falsely. If you show
some one a kindness, and he is not to know it, but he guesses it and tells
you so to your face, you deny; if he insists, you say, "honestly, no!" If
it came to swearing, then you would refuse; for, from fear of the sacred,
you always stop half way. Against the sacred you have no will of your own.
You lie in Q moderation, as you are free "in moderation," religious "in
moderation" (the clergy are not to "encroach"; over this point the most
rapid of controversies is now being carried on, on the part of the
university against the church), monarchically disposed "in moderation" (you
want a monarch limited by the constitution, by a fundamental law of the
State), everything nicely tempered, lukewarm, half God's, half the devil's.
There was a university where the usage was that every word of honour that
must be given to the university judge was looked upon by the students as
null and void. For the students saw in the demanding of it nothing but a
snare, which they could not escape otherwise than by taking away all its
significance. He who at that same university broke his word of honour to
one of the fellows was infamous; he who gave it to the university judge
derided, in union with these very fellows, the dupe who fancied that a word
had the same value among friends and among foes. It was less a correct
theory than the constraint of practice that had there taught the students
to act so, as, without that means of getting out, they would have been
pitilessly driven to treachery against their comrades. But, as the means
approved itself in practice, so it has its theoretical probation too. A
word of honour, an oath, is one only for him whom I entitle to receive it;
he who forces me to it obtains only a forced, a hostile word, the word of a
foe, whom one has no right to trust; for the foe does not give us the
Aside from this, the courts of the State do not even recognize the
inviolability of an oath. For, if I had sworn to one who comes under
examination that I would not declare anything against him, the court would
demand my declaration in spite of the fact that an oath binds me, and, in
case of refusal, would lock me up till I decided to become Q an
oath-breaker. The court "absolves me from my oath"; Q how magnanimous! If
any power can absolve me from the oath, I myself am surely the very first
power that has a claim to.
As a curiosity, and to remind us of customary oaths of all sorts, let place
be given here to that which Emperor Paul111 commanded the captured Poles
(Kosciuszko, Potocki, Niemcewicz, and others) to take when he released
them: "We not merely swear fidelity and obedience to the emperor, but also
further promise to pour out our blood for his glory; we obligate ourselves
to discover everything threatening to his person or his empire that we ever
learn; we declare finally that, in whatever part of the earth we may be, a
single word of the emperor shall suffice to make us leave everything and
repair to him at once."

In one domain the principle of love seems to have been long outsoared by
egoism, and to be still in need only of sure consciousness, as it were of
victory with a good conscience. This domain is speculation, in its double
manifestation as thinking and as trade. One thinks with a will, whatever
may come of it; one speculates, however many may suffer under our
speculative undertakings. But, when it finally becomes serious, when even
the last remnant of religiousness, romance, or "humanity" is to be done
away, then the pulse of religious conscience beats, and one at least
professes humanity. The avaricious speculator throws some coppers into the
poor-box and "does good," the bold thinker consoles himself with the fact
that he is working for the advancement of the human race and that his
devastation "turns to the good" of mankind, or, in another case, that he is
"serving the idea"; mankind, the idea, is to him that something of which he
must say, It is more to me than myself.
To this day thinking and trading have been done for Q God's sake. Those who
for six days were trampling down everything by their selfish aims
sacrificed on the seventh to the Lord; and those who destroyed a hundred
"good causes" by their reckless thinking still did this in the service of
another "good cause," and had yet to think of another Q besides themselves
Q to whose good their self-indulgence should turn; of the people, mankind,
and the like. But this other thing is a being above them, a higher or
supreme being; and therefore I say, they are toiling for God's sake.
Hence I can also say that the ultimate basis of their actions is - love.
Not a voluntary love however, not their own, but a tributary love, or the
higher being's own (God's, who himself is love); in short, not the
egoistic, but the religious; a love that springs from their fancy that they
must discharge a tribute of love, that they must not be "egoists."
If we want to deliver the world from many kinds of unfreedom, we want this
not on its account but on ours; for, as we are not world-liberators by
profession and out of "love," we only want to win it away from others. We
want to make it our own; it is not to be any longer owned as serf by God
(the church) nor by the law (State), but to be our own; therefore we seek
to "win" it, to "captivate" it, and, by meeting it halfway and "devoting"
ourselves to it as to ourselves as soon as it belongs to us, to complete
and make superfluous the force that it turns against us. If the world is
ours, it no longer attempts any force against us, but only with us. My
selfishness has an interest in the liberation of the world, that it may
become Q my property.
Not isolation or being alone, but society, is man's original state. Our
existence begins with the most intimate conjunction, as we are already
living with our mother before we breathe; when we see the light of the
world, we at once lie on a human being's breast again, her love cradles us
in the lap, leads us in the go-cart, and chains us to her person with a
thousand ties. Society is our state of nature. And this is why, the more we
learn to feel ourselves, the connection that was formerly most intimate
becomes ever looser and the dissolution of the original society more
unmistakable. To have once again for herself the child that once lay under
her heart, the mother must fetch it from the street and from the midst of
its playmates. The child prefers the intercourse that it enters into with
its fellows to the society that it has not entered into, but only been born
But the dissolution of society is intercourse or union. A society does
assuredly arise by union too, but only as a fixed idea arises by a thought
Q to wit, by the vanishing of the energy of the thought (the thinking
itself, this restless taking back all thoughts that make themselves fast)
from the thought. If a union112 has crystallized into a society, it has
ceased to be a coalition;113 for coalition is an incessant self-uniting; it
has become a unitedness, come to a standstill, degenerated into a fixity;
it is - dead as a union, it is the corpse of the union or the coalition, it
is Q society, community. A striking example of this kind is furnished by
the party.
That a society (such as the society of the State) diminishes my liberty
offends me little. Why, I have to let my liberty be limited by all sorts of
powers and by every one who is stronger; nay, by every fellow-man; and,
were I the autocrat of all the R. . . . . ,* I yet should not enjoy
absolute liberty. But ownness I will not have taken from me. And ownness is
precisely what every society has designs on, precisely what is to succumb
to its power.
A society which I join does indeed take from me many liberties, but in
return it affords me other liberties; neither does it matter if I myself
deprive myself of this and that liberty (such as by any contract). On the
other hand, I want to hold jealously to my ownness. Every community has the
propensity, stronger or weaker according to the fullness of its power, to
become an authority to its members and to set limits for them: it asks, and
must ask, for a "subject's limited understanding"; it asks that those who
belong to it be subjected to it, be its "subjects"; it exists only by
subjection. In this a certain tolerance need by no means be excluded; on
the contrary, the society will welcome improvements, corrections, and
blame, so far as such are calculated for its gain: but the blame must be
"well-meaning," it may not be "insolent and disrespectful" Q in other
words, one must leave uninjured, and hold sacred, the substance of the
society. The society demands that those who belong to it shall not go
beyond it and exalt themselves, but remain "within the bounds of legality,"
that is, allow themselves only so much as the society and its law allow
There is a difference whether my liberty or my ownness is limited by a socie
ty. If the former only is the case, it is a coalition, an agreement, a
union; but, if ruin is threatened to ownness, it is a power of itself, a
power above me, a thing unattainable by me, which I can indeed admire,
adore, reverence, respect, but cannot subdue and consume, and that for the
reason that I am resigned. It exists by my resignation, my
self-renunciation, my spiritlessness,114 called Q humility.115 My humility
makes its courage,116 my submissiveness gives it its dominion.
But in reference to liberty, State and union are subject to no essential
difference. The latter can just as little come into existence, or continue
in existence, without liberty's being limited in all sorts of ways, as the
State is compatible with unmeasured liberty. Limitation of liberty is
inevitable everywhere, for one cannot get rid of everything; one cannot fly
like a bird merely because one would like to fly so, for one does not get
free from his own weight; one cannot live under water as long as he likes,
like a fish, because one cannot do without air and cannot get free from
this indispensable necessity; and the like. As religion, and most decidedly
Christianity, tormented man with the demand to realize the unnatural and
self-contradictory, so it is to be looked upon only as the true logical
outcome of that religious over-straining and overwroughtness that finally
liberty itself, absolute liberty, was exalted into an ideal, and thus the
nonsense of the impossible to come glaringly to the light. Q The union will
assuredly offer a greater measure of liberty, as well as (and especially
because by it one escapes all the coercion peculiar to State and society
life) admit of being considered as "a new liberty"; but nevertheless it
will still contain enough of unfreedom and involuntariness. For its object
is not this Q liberty (which on the contrary it sacrifices to ownness), but
only ownness. Referred to this, the difference between State and union is
great enough. The former is an enemy and murderer of ownness, the latter a
son and co-worker of it; the former a spirit that would be adored in spirit
and in truth, the latter my work, my product ; the State is the lord of my
spirit, who demands faith and prescribes to me articles of faith, the creed
of legality; it exerts moral influence, dominates my spirit, drives away my
ego to put itself in its place as "my true ego" Q in short, the State is
sacred, and as against me, the individual man, it is the true man, the
spirit, the ghost; but the union is my own creation, my creature, not
sacred, not a spiritual power above my spirit, as little as any association
of whatever sort. As I am not willing to be a slave of my maxims, but lay
them bare to my continual criticism without any warrant, and admit no bail
at all for their persistence, so still less do I obligate myself to the
union for my future and pledge my soul to it, as is said to be done with
the devil, and is really the case with the State and all spiritual
authority; but I am and remain more to myself than State, Church, God, and
the like; consequently infinitely more than the union too.
That society which Communism wants to found seems to stand nearest to
coalition. For it is to aim at the "welfare of all," oh, yes, of all, cries
Weitling innumerable times, of all! That does really look as if in it no
one needed to take a back seat. But what then will this welfare be? Have
all one and the same welfare, are all equally well off with one and the
same thing? If that be so, the question is of the "true welfare." Do we not
with this come right to the point where religion begins its dominion of
violence? Christianity says, Look not on earthly toys, but seek your true
welfare, become Q pious Christians; being Christians is the true welfare.
It is the true welfare of "all," because it is the welfare of Man as such
(this spook). Now, the welfare of all is surely to be your and my welfare
too? But, if you and I do not look upon that welfare as our welfare, will
care then be taken for that in which we feel well? On the contrary, society
has decreed a welfare as the "true welfare," if this welfare were called
"enjoyment honestly worked for"; but if you preferred enjoyable laziness,
enjoyment without work, then society, which cares for the "welfare of all,"
would wisely avoid caring for that in which you are well off. Communism, in
proclaiming the welfare of all, annuls outright the well-being of those who
hitherto lived on their income from investments and apparently felt better
in that than in the prospect of Weitling's strict hours of labour. Hence
the latter asserts that with the welfare of thousands the welfare of
millions cannot exist, and the former must give up their special welfare
"for the sake of the general welfare." No, let people not be summoned to
sacrifice their special welfare for the general, for this Christian
admonition will not carry you through; they will better understand the
opposite admonition, not to let their own welfare be snatched from them by
anybody, but to put it on a permanent foundation. Then they are of
themselves led to the point that they care best for their welfare if they
unite with others for this purpose, that is, "sacrifice a part of their
liberty," yet not to the welfare of others, but to their own. An appeal to
men's self-sacrificing disposition end self-renouncing love ought at least
to have lost its seductive plausibility when, after an activity of
thousands of years, it has left nothing behind but the - misre of today.
Why then still fruitlessly expect self-sacrifice to bring us better time?
Why not rather hope for them from usurpation? Salvation comes no longer
from the giver, the bestower, the loving one, but from the taker, the
appropriator (usurper), the owner. Communism, and, consciously,
egoism-reviling humanism, still count on love.
If community is once a need of man, and he finds himself furthered by it in
his aims, then very soon, because it has become his principle, it
prescribes to him its laws too, the laws of Q society. The principle of men
exalts itself into a sovereign power over them, becomes their supreme
essence, their God, and, as such Q law-giver. Communism gives this
principle the strictest effect, and Christianity is the religion of
society, for, as Feuerbach rightly says, although he does not mean it
rightly, love is the essence of man; that is, the essence of society or of
societary (Communistic) man. All religion is a cult of society, this
principle by which societary (cultivated) man is dominated; neither is any
god an ego's exclusive god, but always a society's or community's, be it of
the society, "family" (Lar, Penates117) or of a "people" ("national god")
or of "all men" ("he is a Father of all men").
Consequently one has a prospect of extirpating religion down to the ground
only when one antiquates society and everything that flows from this
principle. But it is precisely in Communism that this principle seeks to
culminate, as in it everything is to become common for the establishment of
Q "equality." If this "equality" is won, "liberty" too is not lacking. But
whose liberty? Society's ! Society is then all in all, and men are only
"for each other." It would be the glory of the Q love-State.
But I would rather be referred to men's selfishness than to their
''kindnesses,''118 their mercy, pity, etc. The former demands reciprocity
(as thou to me, so I to thee), does nothing "gratis," and may be won and Q
bought. But with what shall I obtain the kindness? It is a matter of chance
whether I am at the time having to do with a "loving" person. The
affectionate one's service can be had only by Q begging, be it by my
lamentable appearance, by my need of help, my misery, my Q suffering. What
can I offer him for his assistance? Nothing! I must accept it as a Q
present. Love is unpayable, or rather, love can assuredly be paid for, but
only by counter-love ("One good turn deserves another"). What paltriness
and beggarliness does it not take to accept gifts year in and year out
without service in return, as they are regularly collected, for instance,
from the poor day-labourer? What can the receiver do for him and his
donated pennies, in which his wealth consists? The day-labourer would
really have more enjoyment if the receiver with his laws, his institutions,
etc., all of which the day-labourer has to pay for though, did not exist at
all. And yet, with it all, the poor wight loves his master.
No, community, as the "goal" of history hitherto, is impossible. Let us
rather renounce every hypocrisy of community, and recognize that, if we are
equal as men, we are not equal for the very reason that we are not men. We
are equal only in thoughts, only when "we" are thought, not as we really
and bodily are. I am ego, and you are ego: but I am not this thought-of
ego; this ego in which we are all equal is only my thought. I am man, and
you are man: but "man" is only a thought, a generality; neither I nor you
are speakable, we are unutterable, because only thoughts are speakable and
consist in speaking.
Let us therefore not aspire to community, but to one-sidedness. Let us not
seek the most comprehensive commune, "human society," but let us seek in
others only means and organs which we may use as our property! As we do not
see our equals in the tree, the beast, so the presupposition that others
are our equals springs from a hypocrisy. No one is my equal, but I regard
him, equally with all other beings, as my property. In opposition to this I
am told that I should be a man among "fellow-men" (Judenfrage, p. 60); I
should "respect" the fellow-man in them. For me no one is a person to be
respected, not even the fellow-man, but solely, like other beings, an
object in which I take an interest or else do not, an interesting or
uninteresting object, a usable or unusable person.
And, if I can use him, I doubtless come to an understanding and make myself
at one with him, in order, by the agreement, to strengthen my power, and by
combined force to accomplish more than individual force could effect. In
this combination I see nothing whatever but a multiplication of my force,
and I retain it only so long as it is my multiplied force. But thus it is a
Q union.
Neither a natural ligature nor a spiritual one holds the union together,
and it is not a natural, not a spiritual league. It is not brought about by
one blood, not by one faith (spirit). In a natural league Q like a family,
a tribe, a nation, yes, mankind Q the individuals have only the value of
specimens of the same species or genus; in a spiritual league Q like a
commune, a church Q the individual signifies only a member of the same
spirit; what you are in both cases as a unique person must be Q suppressed.
Only in the union can you assert yourself as unique, because the union does
not possess you, but you possess it or make it of use to you.
Property is recognized in the union, and only in the union, because one no
longer holds what is his as a fief from any being. The Communists are only
consistently carrying further what had already been long present during
religious evolution, and especially in the State; to wit, propertylessness,
the feudal system.
The State exerts itself to tame the desirous man; in other words, it seeks
to direct his desire to it alone, and to content that desire with what it
offers. To sate the desire for the desirous man's sake does not come into
the mind: on the contrary, it stigmatizes as an "egoistic man" the man who
breathes out unbridled desire, and the "egoistic man" is its enemy. He is
this for it because the capacity to agree with him is wanting to the State;
the egoist is precisely what it cannot "comprehend." Since the State (as
nothing else is possible) has to do only for itself, it does not take care
for my needs, but takes care only of how it make away with me, make out of
me another ego, a good citizen. It takes measures for the "improvement of
morals." Q And with what does it win individuals for itself? With itself,
with what is the State's, with State property. It will be unremittingly
active in making all participants in its "goods," providing all with the
"good things of culture"; it presents them its education, opens to them the
access to its institutions of culture, capacitates them to come to property
(as, to a fief) in the way of industry, etc. For all these fiefs it demands
only the just rent of continual thanks. But the "unthankful" forget to pay
these thanks. Q Now, neither can "society" do essentially otherwise than
the State.
You bring into a union your whole power, your competence, and make yourself
count; in a society you are employed, with your working power; in the
former you live egoistically, in the latter humanly, that is, religiously,
as a "member in the body of this Lord"; to a society you owe what you have,
and are in duty bound to it, are Q possessed by "social duties"; a union
you utilize, and give it up undutifully and unfaithfully when you see no
way to use it further. If a society is more than you, then it is more to
you than yourself; a union is only your instrument, or the sword with which
you sharpen and increase your natural force; the union exists for you and
through you, the society conversely lays claim to you for itself and exists
even without you, in short, the society is sacred, the union your own;
consumes you, you consume the union.
Nevertheless people will not be backward with the objection that the
agreement which has been concluded may again become burdensome to us and
limit our freedom; they will say, we too would at last come to this, that
"every one must sacrifice a part of his freedom for the sake of the
generality." But the sacrifice would not be made for the "generality's"
sake a bit, as little as I concluded the agreement for the "generality's"
or even for any other man's sake; rather I came into it only for the sake
of my own benefit, from selfishness.119 But, as regards the sacrificing,
surely I "sacrifice" only that which does not stand in my power, that is, I
"sacrifice" nothing at all.
To come back to property, the lord is proprietor. Choose then whether you
want to be lord, or whether society shall be! On this depends whether you
are to be an owner or a ragamuffin ! The egoist is owner, the Socialist a
ragamuffin. But ragamuffinism or propertylessness is the sense of
feudalism, of the feudal system which since the last century has only
changed its overlord, putting "Man" in the place of God, and accepting as a
fief from Man what had before been a fief from the grace of God. That the
ragamuffinism of Communism is carried out by the humane principle into the
absolute or most ragamuffinly ragamuffinism has been shown above; but at
the same time also, how ragamuffinism can only thus swing around into
ownness. The old feudal system was so thoroughly trampled into the ground
in the Revolution that since then all reactionary craft has remained
fruitless, and will always remain fruitless, because the dead is Q dead;
but the resurrection too had to prove itself a truth in Christian history,
and has so proved itself: for in another world feudalism is risen again
with a glorified body, the new feudalism under the suzerainty of "Man."
Christianity is not annihilated, but the faithful are right in having
hitherto trustfully assumed of every combat against it that this could
serve only for the purgation and confirmation of Christianity; for it has
really only been glorified, and "Christianity exposed" is the Q human
Christianity. We are still living entirely in the Christian age, and the
very ones who feel worst about it are the most zealously contributing to
"complete" it. The more human, the dearer has feudalism become to us; for
we the less believe that it still is feudalism, we take it the more
confidently for ownness and think we have found what is "most absolutely
our own" when we discover "the human."
Liberalism wants to give me what is mine, but it thinks to procure it for
me not under the title of mine, but under that of the "human." As if it
were attainable under this mask! The rights of man, the precious work of
the Revolution, have the meaning that the Man in me entitles 120 me to this
and that; I as individual, as this man, am not entitled, but Man has the
right and entitles me. Hence as man I may well be entitled; but, as I am
more than man, to wit, a special man, it may be refused to this very me,
the special one. If on the other hand you insist on the value of your
gifts, keep up their price, do not let yourselves be forced to sell out
below price, do not let yourselves be talked into the idea that your ware
is not worth its price. do not make yourself ridiculous by a "ridiculous
price," but imitate the brave man who says, I will sell my life (property)
dear, the enemy shall not have it at a cheap bargain; then you have
recognized the reverse of Communism as the correct thing, and the word then
is not "Give up your property!" but "Get the value out of your property!"
Over the portal of our time stands not that "Know thyself" of Apollo, but a
"Get the value out of thyself!"
Proudhon calls property "robbery" (le vol ). But alien property Q and he is
talking of this alone Q is not less existent by renunciation, cession, and
humility; it is a present. Why so sentimentally call for compassion as a
poor victim of robbery, when one is just a foolish, cowardly giver of
presents? Why here again put the fault on others as if they were robbing
us, while we ourselves do bear the fault in leaving the others unrobbed?
The poor are to blame for there being rich men.
Universally, no one grows indignant at his, but at alien property. They do
not in truth attack property, but the alienation of property. They want to
be able to call more, not less, theirs; they want to call everything
theirs. They are fighting, therefore, against alienness, or, to form a word
similar to property, against alienty. And how do they help themselves
therein? Instead of transforming the alien into own, they play impartial
and ask only that all property be left to a third party, such as human
society. They revindicate the alien not in their own name but in a third
party's. Now the "egoistic" colouring is wiped off, and everything is so
clean and Q human!
Propertylessness or ragamuffinism, this then is the "essence of
Christianity," as it is essence of all religiousness (godliness, morality,
humanity), and only announced itself most clearly, and, as glad tidings,
became a gospel capable of development, in the "absolute religion." We have
before us the most striking development in the present fight against
property, a fight which is to bring "Man" to victory and make
propertylessness complete: victorious humanity is the victory of Q
Christianity. But the "Christianity exposed" thus is feudalism completed.
the most all-embracing feudal system, that is, perfect ragamuffinism.
Once more then, doubtless, a "revolution" against the feudal system? Q 
Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synonymous. The
former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the established
condition or status, the State or society, and is accordingly a political
or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable consequence a
transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it but from men's
discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, but a rising of
individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring
from it. The Revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no
longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no
glittering hopes on "institutions." It is not a fight against the
established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it
is only a working forth of me out of the established. If I leave the
established, it is dead and passes into decay. Now, as my object is not the
overthrow of an established order but my elevation above it, my purpose and
deed are not a political or social but (as directed toward myself and my
ownness alone) an egoistic purpose and deed.
The revolution commands one to make arrangements, the insurrection121
demands that he rise or exalt himself.122 What constitution was to be
chosen, this question busied the revolutionary heads, and the whole
political period foams with constitutional fights and constitutional
questions, as the social talents too were uncommonly inventive in societary
arrangements (phalansteries and the like). The insurgent123 strives to
become constitutionless.
While, to get greater clearness, I am thinking up a comparison, the
founding of Christianity comes unexpectedly into my mind. On the liberal
side it is noted as a bad point in the first Christians that they preached
obedience to the established heathen civil order, enjoined recognition of
the heathen authorities, and confidently delivered a command, "Give to the
emperor that which is the emperor's." Yet how much disturbance arose at the
same time against the Roman supremacy, how mutinous did the Jews and even
the Romans show themselves against their own temporal government! In short,
how popular was "political discontent!" Those Christians would hear nothing
of it; would not side with the "liberal tendencies." The time was
politically so agitated that, as is said in the gospels, people thought
they could not accuse the founder of Christianity more successfully than if
they arraigned him for "political intrigue," and yet the same gospels
report that he was precisely the one who took least part in these political
doings. But why was he not a revolutionist, not a demagogue, as the Jews
would gladly have seen him? Why was he not a liberal? Because he expected
no salvation from a change of conditions, and this whole business was
indifferent to him. He was not a revolutionist, like Caesar, but an
insurgent; not a State-overturner, but one who straightened himself up.
That was why it was for him only a matter of "Be ye wise as serpents,"
which expresses the same sense as, in the special case, that "Give to the
emperor that which is the emperor's"; for he was not carrying on any
liberal or political fight against the established authorities, but wanted
to walk his own way, untroubled about, and undisturbed by, these
authorities. Not less indifferent to him than the government were its
enemies, for neither understood what he wanted, and he had only to keep
them off from him with the wisdom of the serpent. But, even though not a
ringleader of popular mutiny, not a demagogue or revolutionist, he (and
every one of the ancient Christians) was so much the more an insurgent, who
lifted himself above everything that seemed sublime to the government and
its opponents, and absolved himself from everything that they remained
bound to, and who at the same time cut off the sources of life of the whole
heathen world, with which the established State must wither away as a
matter of course; precisely because he put from him the upsetting of the
established, he was its deadly enemy and real annihilator; for he walled it
in, confidently and recklessly carrying up the building of his temple over
it, without heeding the pains of the immured.
Now, as it happened to the heathen order of the world, will the Christian
order fare likewise? A revolution certainly does not bring on the end if an
insurrection is not consummated first!
My intercourse with the world, what does it aim at? I want to have the
enjoyment of it, therefore it must be my property, and therefore I want to
win it. I do not want the liberty of men, nor their equality; I want only
my power over them, I want to make them my property, material for
enjoyment. And, if I do not succeed in that, well, then I call even the
power over life and death, which Church and State reserved to themselves Q
mine. Brand that officer's widow who, in the flight in Russia, after her
leg has been shot away, takes the garter from it, strangles her child
therewith, and then bleeds to death alongside the corpse Q brand the memory
of the Q infanticide. Who knows, if this child had remained alive, how much
it might have "been of use to the world!" The mother murdered it because
she wanted to die satisfied and at rest. Perhaps this case still appeals to
your sentimentality, and you do not know how to read out of it anything
further. Be it so; I on my part use it as an example for this, that my
satisfaction decides about my relation to men, and that I do not renounce,
from any access of humility, even the power over life and death.
As regards "social duties" in general, another does not give me my position
toward others, therefore neither God nor humanity prescribes to me my
relation to men, but I give myself this position. This is more strikingly
said thus: I have no duty to others, as I have a duty even to myself (that
of self-preservation, and therefore not suicide) only so long as I
distinguish myself from myself (my immortal soul from my earthly existence,
I no longer humble myself before any power, and I recognize that all powers
are only my power, which I have to subject at once when they threaten to
become a power against or above me; each of them must be only one of my
means to carry my point, as a hound is our power against game, but is
killed by us if it should fall upon us ourselves. All powers that dominate
me I then reduce to serving me. The idols exist through me; I need only
refrain from creating them anew, then they exist no longer: "higher powers"
exist only through my exalting them and abasing myself.
Consequently my relation to the world is this: I no longer do anything for
it "for God's sake," I do nothing "for man's sake," but what I do I do "for
my sake." Thus alone does the world satisfy me, while it is characteristic
of the religious stand-point, in which I include the moral and humane also,
that from it everything remains a pious wish (pium desiderium ), an
other-world matter, something unattained. Thus the general salvation of
men, the moral world of a general love, eternal peace, the cessation of
egoism, etc. "Nothing in this world is perfect." With this miserable phrase
the good part from it, and take flight into their closet to God, or into
their proud "self-consciousness." But we remain in this "imperfect" world,
because even so we can use it for our - self-enjoyment.
My intercourse with the world consists in my enjoying it, and so consuming
it for my self-enjoyment. Intercourse is the enjoyment of the world, and
belongs to my Q self-enjoyment.

C. - My Self-enjoyment

We stand at the boundary of a period. The world hitherto took thought for
nothing but the gain of life, took care for Q life. For whether all
activity is put on the stretch for the life of this world or of the other,
for the temporal or for the eternal, whether one hankers for "daily bread"
("Give us our daily bread") or for "holy bread" ("the true bread from
heaven" "the bread of God, that comes from heaven and gives life to the
world"; "the bread of life," John 6), whether one takes care for "dear
life" or for "life to eternity" Q this does not change the object of the
strain and care, which in the one case as in the other shows itself to be
life. Do the modern tendencies announce themselves otherwise? People now
want nobody to be embarrassed for the most indispensable necessaries of
life, but want every one to feel secure as to these; and on the other hand
they teach that man has this life to attend to and the real world to adapt
himself to, without vain care for another.
Let us take up the same thing from another side. When one is anxious only
to live, he easily, in this solicitude, forgets the enjoyment of life. If
his only concern is for life, and he thinks "if I only have my dear life,"
he does not apply his full strength to using, that is, enjoying, life. But
how does one use life? In using it up, like the candle, which one uses in
burning it up. One uses life, and consequently himself the living one, in
consuming it and himself. Enjoyment of life is using life up.
Now Q we are in search of the enjoyment of life! And what did the religious
world do? It went in search of life. Wherein consists the true life, the
blessed life; etc.? How is it to be attained? What must man do and become
in order to become a truly living man? How does he fulfil this calling?
These and similar questions indicate that the askers were still seeking for
themselves Q to wit, themselves in the true sense, in the sense of true
living. "What I am is foam and shadow; what I shall be is my true self." To
chase after this self, to produce it, to realize it, constitutes the hard
task of mortals, who die only to rise again, live only to die, live only to
find the true life.
Not till I am certain of myself, and no longer seeking for myself, am I
really my property; I have myself, therefore I use and enjoy myself. On the
other hand, I can never take comfort in myself as long as I think that I
have still to find my true self and that it must come to this, that not I
but Christ or some other spiritual, ghostly, self (the true man, the
essence of man, and the like) lives in me.
A vast interval separates the two views. In the old I go toward myself, in
the new I start from myself; in the former I long for myself, in the latter
I have myself and do with myself as one does with any other property Q I
enjoy myself at my pleasure. I am no longer afraid for my life, but
"squander" it.
Henceforth, the question runs, not how one can acquire life, but how one
can squander, enjoy it; or, not how one is to produce the true self in
himself, but how one is to dissolve himself, to live himself out.
What else should the ideal be but the sought-for ever-distant self? One
seeks for himself, consequently one doth not yet have himself; one aspires
toward what one ought to be, consequently one is not it. One lives in
longing and has lived thousands of years in it, in hope. Living is quite
another thing in - enjoyment!
Does this perchance apply only to the so-called pious? No, it applies to
all who belong to the departing period of history, even to its men of
pleasure. For them too the work-days were followed by a Sunday, and the
rush of the world by the dream of a better world, of a general happiness of
humanity; in short by an ideal. But philosophers especially are contrasted
with the pious. Now, have they been thinking of anything else than the
ideal, been planning for anything else than the absolute self? Longing and
hope everywhere, and nothing but these. For me, call it romanticism.
If the enjoyment of life is to triumph over the longing for life or hope of
life, it must vanquish this in its double significance which Schiller
introduces in his "Ideal and Life"; it must crush spiritual and secular
poverty, exterminate the ideal and Q the want of daily bread. He who must
expend his life to prolong life cannot enjoy it, and he who is still
seeking for his life does not have it and can as as little enjoy it: both
are poor, but "blessed are the poor."
Those who are hungering for the true life have no power over their present
life, but must apply it for the purpose of thereby gaining that true life,
and must sacrifice it entirely to this aspiration and this task. If in the
case of those devotees who hope for a life in the other world, and look
upon that in this world as merely a preparation for it, the tributariness
of their earthly existence, which they put solely into the service of the
hoped-for heavenly existence, is pretty distinctly apparent; one would yet
go far wrong if one wanted to consider the most rationalistic and
enlightened as less self-sacrificing. Oh, there is to be found in the "true
life" a much more comprehensive significance than the "heavenly" is
competent to express. Now, is not Q to introduce the liberal concept of it
at once Q the "human" and "truly human" life the true one? And is every one
already leading this truly human life from the start, or must he first
raise himself to it with hard toil? Does he already have it as his present
life, or must he struggle for it as his future life, which will become his
part only when he "is no longer tainted with any egoism"? In this view life
exists only to gain life, and one lives only to make the essence of man
alive in oneself, one lives for the sake of this essence. One has his life
only in order to procure by means of it the "true" life cleansed of all
egoism. Hence one is afraid to make any use he likes of his life: it is to
serve only for the "right use."
In short, one has a calling in life, a task in life; one has something to
realize and produce by his life, a something for which our life is only
means and implement, a something that is worth more than this life, a
something to which one owes his life. One has a God who asks a living
sacrifice. Only the rudeness of human sacrifice has been lost with time;
human sacrifice itself has remained unabated, and criminals hourly fall
sacrifices to justice, and we "poor sinners" slay our own selves as
sacrifices for "the human essence," the "idea of mankind," "humanity," and
whatever the idols or gods are called besides.
But, because we owe our life to that something, therefore Q this is the
next point Q we have no right to take it from us.
The conservative tendency of Christianity does not permit thinking of death
otherwise than with the purpose to take its sting from it and Q live on and
preserve oneself nicely. The Christian lets everything happen and come upon
him if he - the arch-Jew Q can only haggle and smuggle himself into heaven;
he must not kill himself, he must only Q preserve himself and work at the
"preparation of a future abode." Conservatism or "conquest of death" lies
at his heart; "the last enemy that is abolished is death.''124 "Christ has
taken the power from death and brought life and imperishable being to light
by the gospel.''125 "Imperishableness," stability.
The moral man wants the good, the right; and, if he takes to the means that
lead to this goal, really lead to it, then these means are not his means,
but those of the good, right, etc., itself. These means are never immoral,
because the good end itself mediates itself through them: the end
sanctifies the means. They call this maxim jesuitical, but it is "moral"
through and through. The moral man acts in the service of an end or an
idea: he makes himself the tool of the idea of the good, as the pious man
counts it his glory to be a tool or instrument of God. To await death is
what the moral commandment postulates as the good; to give it to oneself is
immoral and bad: suicide finds no excuse before the judgment-seat of
morality. If the religious man forbids it because "you have not given
yourself life, but God, who alone can also take it from you again" (as if,
even taking in this conception, God did not take it from me just as much
when I kill myself as when a tile from the roof, or a hostile bullet, fells
me; for he would have aroused the resolution of death in me too!), the
moral man forbids it because I owe my life to the fatherland, etc.,
"because I do not know whether I may not yet accomplish good by my life."
Of course, for in me good loses a tool, as God does an instrument. If I am
immoral, the good is served in my amendment; if I am "ungodly," God has joy
in my penitence. Suicide, therefore, is ungodly as well as nefarious. If
one whose stand-point is religiousness takes his own life, he acts in
forgetfulness of God; but, if the suicide's stand-point is morality, he
acts in forgetfulness of duty, immorally. People worried themselves much
with the question whether Emilia Galotti's death can be justified before
morality (they take it as if it were suicide, which it is too in
substance). That she is so infatuated with chastity, this moral good, as to
yield up even her life for it is certainly moral; but, again, that she
fears the weakness of her flesh is immoral.126 Such contradictions form the
tragic conflict universally in the moral drama; and one must think and feel
morally to be able to take an interest in it.
What holds good of piety and morality will necessarily apply to humanity
also, because one owes his life likewise to man, mankind or the species.
Only when I am under obligation to no being is the maintaining of life Q my
affair. "A leap from this bridge makes me free!"
But, if we owe the maintaining of our life to that being that we are to
make alive in ourselves, it is not less our duty not to lead this life
according to our pleasure, but to shape it in conformity to that being. All
my feeling, thinking, and willing, all my doing and designing, belongs to Q
What is in conformity to that being is to be inferred from his concept; and
how differently has this concept been conceived! or how differently has
that being been imagined! What demands the Supreme Being makes on the
Mohammedan; what different ones the Christian, again, thinks he hears from
him; how divergent, therefore, must the shaping of the lives of the two
turn out! Only this do all hold fast, that the Supreme Being is to judge127
our life.
But the pious who have their judge in God, and in his word a book of
directions for their life, I everywhere pass by only reminiscently, because
they belong to a period of development that has been lived through, and as
petrifactions they may remain in their fixed place right along; in our time
it is no longer the pious, but the liberals, who have the floor, and piety
itself cannot keep from reddening its pale face with liberal colouring. But
the liberals do not adore their judge in God, and do not unfold their life
by the directions of the divine word, but regulate128 themselves by man:
they want to be not "divine" but "human," and to live so.
Man is the liberal's supreme being, man the judge of his life, humanity his
directions, or catechism. God is spirit, but man is the "most perfect
spirit," the final result of the long chase after the spirit or of the
"searching in the depths of the Godhead," that is, in the depths of the
Every one of your traits is to be human; you yourself are to be so from top
to toe, in the inward as in the outward; for humanity is your calling.
Calling Q destiny Q task! Q 
What one can become he does become. A born poet may well be hindered by the
disfavour of circumstances from standing on the high level of his time,
and, after the great studies that are indispensable for this, producing
consummate works of art; but he will make poetry, be he a plowman or so
lucky as to live at the court of Weimar. A born musician will make music,
no matter whether on all instruments or only on an oaten pipe. A born
philosophical head can give proof of itself as university philosopher or as
village philosopher. Finally, a born dolt, who, as is very well compatible
with this, may at the same time be a sly-boots, will (as probably every one
who has visited schools is in a position to exemplify to himself by many
instances of fellow-scholars) always remain a blockhead, let him have been
drilled and trained into the chief of a bureau, or let him serve that same
chief as bootblack. Nay, the born shallow-pates indisputably form the most
numerous class of men. And why. indeed, should not the same distinctions
show themselves in the human species that are unmistakable in every species
of beasts? The more gifted and the less gifted are to be found everywhere.
Only a few, however, are so imbecile that one could not get ideas into
them. Hence, people usually consider all men capable of having religion. In
a certain degree they may be trained to other ideas too, to some musical
intelligence, even some philosophy. At this point then the priesthood of
religion, of morality, of culture, of science, etc., takes its start, and
the Communists, for instance, want to make everything accessible to all by
their "public school." There is heard a common assertion that this "great
mass" cannot get along without religion; the Communists broaden it into the
proposition that not only the "great mass," but absolutely all, are called
to everything.
Not enough that the great mass has been trained to religion, now it is
actually to have to occupy itself with "everything human." Training is
growing ever more general and more comprehensive.
You poor beings who could live so happily if you might skip according to
your mind, you are to dance to the pipe of schoolmasters and bear-leaders,
in order to perform tricks that you yourselves would never use yourselves
for. And you do not even kick out of the traces at last against being
always taken otherwise than you want to give yourselves. No, you
mechanically recite to yourselves the question that is recited to you:
"What am I called to? What ought I to do?" You need only ask thus, to have
yourselves told what you ought to do and ordered to do it, to have your
calling marked out for you, or else to order yourselves and impose it on
yourselves according to the spirit's prescription. Then in reference to the
will the word is, I will to do what I ought.
A man is "called" to nothing, and has no "calling," no "destiny," as little
as a plant or a beast has a "calling." The flower does not follow the
calling to complete itself, but it spends all its forces to enjoy and
consume the world as well as it can Q it sucks in as much of the juices of
the earth, as much air of the ether, as much light of the sun, as it can
get and lodge. The bird lives up to no calling, but it uses its forces as
much as is practicable; it catches beetles and sings to its heart's
delight. But the forces of the flower and the bird are slight in comparison
to those of a man, and a man who applies his forces will affect the world
much more powerfully than flower and beast. A calling he has not, but he
has forces that manifest themselves where they are because their being
consists solely in their manifestation, and are as little able to abide
inactive as life, which, if it "stood still" only a second, would no longer
be life. Now, one might call out to the man, "use your force." Yet to this
imperative would be given the meaning that it was man's task to use his
force. It is not so. Rather, each one really uses his force without first
looking upon this as his calling: at all times every one uses as much force
as he possesses. One does say of a beaten man that he ought to have exerted
his force more; but one forgets that, if in the moment of succumbing he had
had the force to exert his forces (bodily forces), he would not have failed
to do it: even if it was only the discouragement of a minute, this was yet
a Q destitution of force, a minute long. Forces may assuredly be sharpened
and redoubled, especially by hostile resistance or friendly assistance; but
where one misses their application one may be sure of their absence too.
One can strike fire out of a stone, but without the blow none comes out; in
like manner a man too needs "impact."
Now, for this reason that forces always of themselves show themselves
operative, the command to use them would be superfluous and senseless. To
use his forces is not man's calling and task, but is his act, real and
extant at all times. Force is only a simpler word for manifestation of
Now, as this rose is a true rose to begin with, this nightingale always a
true nightingale, so I am not for the first time a true man when I fulfil
my calling, live up to my destiny, but I am a "true man" from the start. My
first babble is the token of the life of a "true man," the struggles of my
life are the outpourings of his force, my last breath is the last
exhalation of the force of the "man."
The true man does not lie in the future, an object of longing, but lies,
existent and real, in the present. Whatever and whoever I may be, joyous
and suffering, a child or a greybeard, in confidence or doubt, in sleep or
in waking, I am it, I am the true man.
But, if I am Man, and have really found in myself him whom religious
humanity designated as the distant goal, then everything "truly human" is
also my own. What was ascribed to the idea of humanity belongs to me. That
freedom of trade, for example, which humanity has yet to attain Q and
which, like an enchanting dream, people remove to humanity's golden future
Q I take by anticipation as my property, and carry it on for the time in
the form of smuggling. There may indeed be but few smugglers who have
sufficient understanding to thus account to themselves for their doings,
but the instinct of egoism replaces their consciousness. Above I have shown
the same thing about freedom of the press.
Everything is my own, therefore I bring back to myself what wants to
withdraw from me; but above all I always bring myself back when I have
slipped away from myself to any tributariness. But this too is not my
calling, but my natural act.
Enough, there is a mighty difference whether I make myself the
starting-point or the goal. As the latter I do not have myself, am
consequently still alien to myself, am my essence, my "true essence," and
this "true essence," alien to me, will mock me as a spook of a thousand
different names. Because I am not yet I, another (like God, the true man,
the truly pious man, the rational man, the freeman, etc.) is I, my ego.
Still far from myself, I separate myself into two halves, of which one, the
one unattained and to be fulfilled, is the true one. The one, the untrue,
must be brought as a sacrifice; to wit, the unspiritual one. The other, the
true, is to be the whole man; to wit, the spirit. Then it is said, "The
spirit is man's proper essence," or, "man exists as man only spiritually."
Now, there is a greedy rush to catch the spirit, as if one would then have
bagged himself; and so, in chasing after himself, one loses sight of
himself, whom he is.
And, as one stormily pursues his own self, the never-attained, so one also
despises shrewd people's rule to take men as they are, and prefers to take
them as they should be; and, for this reason, hounds every one on after his
should-be self and "endeavours to make all into equally entitled, equally
respectable, equally moral or rational men.''129
Yes, "if men were what they should be, could be, if all men were rational,
all loved each other as brothers," then it would be a paradisiacal life.130
Q All right, men are as they should be, can be. What should they be? Surely
not more than they can be! And what can they be? Not more, again, than they
- can, than they have the competence, the force, to be. But this they
really are, because what they are not they are incapable of being; for to
be capable means Q really to be. One is not capable for anything that one
really is not; one is not capable of anything that one does not really do.
Could a man blinded by cataract see? Oh, yes, if he had his cataract
successfully removed. But now he cannot see because he does not see.
Possibility and reality always coincide. One can do nothing that one does
not, as one does nothing that one cannot.
The singularity of this assertion vanishes when one reflects that the words
"it is possible that . . ." almost never contain another meaning than ''I
can imagine that . . . ," for instance, It is possible for all men to live
rationally; that is, I can imagine that all, etc. Now Q since my thinking
cannot, and accordingly does not, cause all men to live rationally, but
this must still be left to the men themselves Q general reason is for me
only thinkable, a thinkableness, but as such in fact a reality that is
called a possibility only in reference to what I can not bring to pass, to
wit, the rationality of others. So far as depends on you, all men might be
rational, for you have nothing against it; nay, so far as your thinking
reaches, you perhaps cannot discover any hindrance either, and accordingly
nothing does stand in the way of the thing in your thinking; it is
thinkable to you.
As men are not all rational, though, it is probable that they Q cannot be so.
If something which one imagines to be easily possible is not, or does not
happen, then one may be assured that something stands in the way of the
thing, and that it is Q impossible. Our time has its art, science, etc,;
the art may be bad in all conscience; but may one say that we deserved to
have a better, and "could" have it if we only would? We have just as much
art as we can have. Our art of to-day is the only art possible, and
therefore real, at the time.
Even in the sense to which one might at last still reduce the word
"possible," that it should mean "future," it retains the full force of the
"real." If one says, "It is possible that the sun will rise tomorrow" Q
this means only, "for today tomorrow is the real future"; for I suppose
there is hardly need of the suggestion that a future is real "future" only
when it has not yet appeared.
Yet wherefore this dignifying of a word? If the most prolific
misunderstanding of thousands of years were not in ambush behind it, if
this single concept of the little word "possible" were not haunted by all
the spooks of possessed men, its contemplation should trouble us little
The thought, it was just now shown, rules the possessed world. Well, then,
possibility is nothing but thinkableness, and innumerable sacrifices have
hitherto been made to hideous thinkableness. It was thinkable that men
might become rational; thinkable, that they might know Christ; thinkable,
that they might become moral and enthusiastic for the good; thinkable, that
they might all take refuge in the Church's lap; thinkable, that they might
meditate, speak, and do, nothing dangerous to the State; thinkable, that
they might be obedient subjects; but, because it was thinkable, it was Q so
ran the inference Q possible, and further, because it was possible to men
(right here lies the deceptive point; because it is thinkable to me, it is
possible to men ), therefore they ought to be so, it was their calling; and
finally Q one is to take men only according to this calling, only as called
men, "not as they are, but as they ought to be."
And the further inference? Man is not the individual, but man is a thought,
an ideal, to which the individual is related not even as the child to the
man, but as a chalk point to a point thought of, or as a Q finite creature
to the eternal Creator, or, according to modern views, as the specimen to
the species. Here then comes to light the glorification of "humanity," the
"eternal, immortal," for whose glory (in majorem humanitatis gloriam ) the
individual must devote himself and find his "immortal renown" in having
done something for the "spirit of humanity."
Thus the thinkers rule in the world as long as the age of priests or of
schoolmasters lasts, and what they think of is possible, but what is
possible must be realized. They think an ideal of man, which for the time
is real only in their thoughts; but they also think the possibility of
carrying it out, and there is no chance for dispute, the carrying out is
really Q thinkable, it is an Q idea.
But you and I, we may indeed be people of whom a Krummacher can think that
we might yet become good Christians; if, however, he wanted to "labour
with" us, we should soon make it palpable to him that our Christianity is
only thinkable, but in other respects impossible; if he grinned on and on
at us with his obtrusive thoughts, his "good belief," he would have to
learn that we do not at all need to become what we do not like to become.
And so it goes on, far beyond the most pious of the pious. "If all men were
rational, if all did right, if all were guided by philanthropy, etc."!
Reason, right, philanthropy, are put before the eyes of men as their
calling, as the goal of their aspiration. And what does being rational
mean? Giving oneself a hearing?131 No, reason is a book full of laws, which
are all enacted against egoism.
History hitherto is the history of the intellectual man. After the period
of sensuality, history proper begins; the period of intellectuality,132
spirituality,133 non-sensuality, supersensuality, nonsensicality. Man now
begins to want to be and become something. What? Good, beautiful, true;
more precisely, moral, pious, agreeable, etc. He wants to make of himself a
"proper man," "something proper." Man is his goal, his ought, his destiny,
calling, task, his Q ideal; he is to himself a future, otherworldly he. And
what makes a "proper fellow" of him? Being true, being good, being moral,
and the like. Now he looks askance at every one who does not recognize the
same "what," seek the same morality, have the same faith, he chases out
"separatists, heretics, sects," etc.
No sheep, no dog, exerts itself to become a "proper sheep, a proper dog";
no beast has its essence appear to it as a task, as a concept that it has
to realize. It realizes itself in living itself out, in dissolving itself,
passing away. It does not ask to be or to become anything other than it is.
Do I mean to advise you to be like the beasts? That you ought to become
beasts is an exhortation which I certainly cannot give you, as that would
again be a task, an ideal ("How doth the little busy bee improve each shinin
g hour. . . . In works of labour or of skill I would be busy too, for Satan
finds some mischief still for idle hands to do"). It would be the same,
too, as if one wished for the beasts that they should become human beings.
Your nature is, once for all, a human one; you are human natures, human
beings. But, just because you already are so, you do not still need to
become so. Beasts too are "trained," and a trained beast executes many
unnatural things. But a trained dog is no better for itself than a natural
one, and has no profit from it, even if it is more companionable for us.
Exertions to "form" all men into moral, rational, pious, human, "beings"
(training) were in vogue from of yore. They are wrecked against the
indomitable quality of I, against own nature, against egoism. Those who are
trained never attain their ideal, and only profess with their mouth the
sublime principles, or make a profession, a profession of faith. In face of
this profession they must in life "acknowledge themselves sinners
altogether," and they fall short of their ideal, are "weak men," and bear
with them the consciousness of "human weakness."
It is different if you do not chase after an ideal as your "destiny," but
dissolve yourself as time dissolves everything. The dissolution is not your
"destiny," because it is present time.
Yet the culture, the religiousness, of men has assuredly made them free,
but only free from one lord, to lead them to another. I have learned by
religion to tame my appetite, I break the world's resistance by the cunning
that is put in my hand by science; I even serve no man; "I am no man's
lackey." But then it comes. You must obey God more than man. Just so I am
indeed free from irrational determination by my impulses. but obedient to
the master Reason. I have gained "spiritual freedom," "freedom of the
spirit." But with that I have then become subject to that very spirit. The
spirit gives me orders, reason guides me, they are my leaders and
commanders. The "rational," the "servants of the spirit," rule. But, if I
am not flesh, I am in truth not spirit either. Freedom of the spirit is
servitude of me, because I am more than spirit or flesh.
Without doubt culture has made me powerful. It has given me power over all
motives, over the impulses of my nature as well as over the exactions and
violences of the world. I know, and have gained the force for it by
culture, that I need not let myself be coerced by any of my appetites,
pleasures, emotions, etc.; I am their Q master; in like manner I become,
through the sciences and arts, the master of the refractory world, whom sea
and earth obey, and to whom even the stars must give an account of
themselves. The spirit has made me master. Q But I have no power over the
spirit itself. From religion (culture) I do learn the means for the
"vanquishing of the world," but not how I am to subdue God too and become
master of him; for God "is the spirit." And this same spirit, of which I am
unable to become master, may have the most manifold shapes; he may be
called God or National Spirit, State, Family, Reason, also Q Liberty,
Humanity, Man.
I receive with thanks what the centuries of culture have acquired for me; I
am not willing to throw away and give up anything of it: I have not lived
in vain. The experience that I have power over my nature, and need not be
the slave of my appetites, shall not be lost to me; the experience that I
can subdue the world by culture's means is too dear-bought for me to be
able to forget it. But I want still more.
People ask, what can man do? What can he accomplish? What goods procure,
and put down the highest of everything as a calling. As if everything were
possible to me!
If one sees somebody going to ruin in a mania, a passion, etc. (as in the
huckster-spirit, in jealousy), the desire is stirred to deliver him out of
this possession and to help him to "self-conquest." "We want to make a man
of him!'' That would be very fine if another possession were not
immediately put in the place of the earlier one. But one frees from the
love of money him who is a thrall to it, only to deliver him over to piety,
humanity, or some principle else, and to transfer him to a fixed
stand-point anew.
This transference from a narrow stand-point to a sublime one is declared in
the words that the sense must not be directed to the perishable, but to the
imperishable alone: not to the temporal, but to the eternal, absolute,
divine, purely human, etc. Q to the spiritual.
People very soon discerned that it was not indifferent what one set his
affections on, or what one occupied himself with; they recognized the
importance of the object. An object exalted above the individuality of
things is the essence of things; yes, the essence is alone the thinkable in
them. it is for the thinking man. Therefore direct no longer your sense to
the things, but your thoughts to the essence. "Blessed are they who see
not, and yet believe"; that is, blessed are the thinkers, for they have to
do with the invisible and believe in it. Yet even an object of thought,
that constituted an essential point of contention centuries long, comes at
last to the point of being "No longer worth speaking of." This was
discerned, but nevertheless people always kept before their eyes again a
self-valid importance of the object, an absolute value of it, as if the
doll were not the most important thing to the child, the Koran to the Turk.
As long as I am not the sole important thing to myself, it is indifferent
of what object I "make much," and only my greater or lesser delinquency
against it is of value. The degree of my attachment and devotion marks the
stand-point of my liability to service, the degree of my sinning shows the
measure of my ownness.
But finally, and in general, one must know how to "put everything out of
his mind," if only so as to be able to Q go to sleep. Nothing may occupy us
with which we do not occupy ourselves: the victim of ambition cannot run
away from his ambitious plans, nor the God-fearing man from the thought of
God; infatuation and possessedness coincide.
To want to realize his essence or live comfortably to his concept (which
with believers in God signifies as much as to be "pious," and with
believers in humanity means living "humanly") is what only the sensual and
sinful man can propose to himself, the man so long as he has the anxious
choice between happiness of sense and peace of soul, so long as he is a
"poor sinner." The Christian is nothing but a sensual man who, knowing of
the sacred and being conscious that he violates it, sees in himself a poor
sinner: sensualness, recognized as "sinfulness," is Christian
consciousness, is the Christian himself. And if "sin" and "sinfulness" are
now no longer taken into the mouths of moderns, but, instead of that,
"egoism," "self-seeking," "selfishness," and the like, engage them; if the
devil has been translated into the "un-man" or "egoistic man" Q is the
Christian less present then than before? Is not the old discord between
good and evil Q is not a judge over us, man Q is not a calling, the calling
to make oneself man Q left? If they no longer name it calling, but "task"
or, very likely, "duty," the change of name is quite correct, because "man"
is not, like God, a personal being that can "call"; but outside the name
the thing remains as of old.

Every one has a relation to objects, and more, every one is differently
related to them. Let us choose as an example that book to which millions of
men had a relation for two thousand years, the Bible. What is it, what was
it, to each? Absolutely, only what he made out of it! For him who makes to
himself nothing at all out of it, it is nothing at all; for him who uses it
as an amulet, it has solely the value, the significance, of a means of
sorcery; for him who, like children, plays with it, it is nothing but a
plaything, etc.
Now, Christianity asks that it shall be the same for all : say the sacred
book or the "sacred Scriptures." This means as much as that the Christian's
view shall also be that of other men, and that no one may be otherwise
related to that object. And with this the ownness of the relation is
destroyed, and one mind, one disposition, is fixed as the "true", the "only
true" one. In the limitation of the freedom to make of the Bible what I
will, the freedom of making in general is limited; and the coercion of a
view or a judgment is put in its place. He who should pass the judgment
that the Bible was a long error of mankind would judge Q criminally.
In fact, the child who tears it to pieces or plays with it, the Inca
Atahualpa134 who lays his ear to it and throws it away contemptuously when
it remains dumb, judges just as correctly about the Bible as the priest who
praises in it the "Word of God," or the critic who calls it a job of men's
hands. For how we toss things about is the affair of our option, our free
will: we use them according to our heart's pleasure, or, more clearly, we
use them just as we can. Why, what do the parsons scream about when they
see how Hegel and the speculative theologians make speculative thoughts out
of the contents of the Bible? Precisely this, that they deal with it
according to their heart's pleasure, or "proceed arbitrarily with it."
But, because we all show ourselves arbitrary in the handling of objects,
that is, do with them as we like best, at our liking (the philosopher likes
nothing so well as when he can trace out an "idea" in everything, as the
God-fearing man likes to make God his friend by everything, and so, for
example, by keeping the Bible sacred), therefore we nowhere meet such
grievous arbitrariness, such a frightful tendency to violence, such stupid
coercion, as in this very domain of our Q own free will. If we proceed
arbitrarily in taking the sacred objects thus or so, how is it then that we
want to take it ill of the parson-spirits if they take us just as
arbitrarily, in their fashion, and esteem us worthy of the heretic's fire
or of another punishment, perhaps of the Q censorship?
What a man is, he makes out of things; "as you look at the world, so it
looks at you again." Then the wise advice makes itself heard again at once,
You must only look at it "rightly, unbiasedly," etc. As if the child did
not look at the Bible "rightly and unbiasedly" when it makes it a
plaything. That shrewd precept is given us by Feuerbach. One does look at
things rightly when one makes of them what one will (by things objects in
general are here understood, such as God, our fellowmen, a sweetheart, a
book, a beast, etc.). And therefore the things and the looking at them are
not first, but I am, my will is. One will brings thoughts out of the
things, will discover reason in the world, will have sacredness in it:
therefore one shall find them. "Seek and ye shall find." What I will seek,
I determine: I want, for example, to get edification from the Bible; it is
to be found; I want to read and test the Bible thoroughly; my outcome will
be a thorough instruction and criticism Q to the extent of my powers. I
elect for myself what I have a fancy for, and in electing I show myself Q
Connected with this is the discernment that every judgment which I pass
upon an object is the creature of my will; and that discernment again leads
me to not losing myself in the creature, the judgment, but remaining the
creator, the judger, who is ever creating anew. All predicates of objects
are my statements, my judgments, my Q creatures. If they want to tear
themselves loose from me and be something for themselves, or actually
overawe me, then I have nothing more pressing to do than to take them back
into their nothing, into me the creator. God, Christ, Trinity, morality,
the good, etc., are such creatures, of which I must not merely allow myself
to say that they are truths, but also that they are deceptions. As I once
willed and decreed their existence, so I want to have license to will their
non-existence too; I must not let them grow over my head, must not have the
weakness to let them become something "absolute," whereby they would be
eternalized and withdrawn from my power and decision. With that I should
fall a prey to the principle of stability, the proper life-principle of
religion, which concerns itself with creating "sanctuaries that must not be
touched," "eternal truths" Q in short, that which shall be "sacred" Q and
depriving you of what is yours.
The object makes us into possessed men in its sacred form just as in its
profane, as a supersensuous object, just as it does as a sensuous one. The
appetite or mania refers to both, and avarice and longing for heaven stand
on a level. When the rationalists wanted to win people for the sensuous
world, Lavater135 preached the longing for the invisible. The one party
wanted to call forth emotion, the other motion, activity.
The conception of objects is altogether diverse, even as God, Christ, the
world, were and are conceived of in the most manifold wise. In this every
one is a "dissenter," and after bloody combats so much has at last been
attained, that opposite views about one and the same object are no longer
condemned as heresies worthy of death. The "dissenters" reconcile
themselves to each other. But why should I only dissent (think otherwise)
about a thing? Why not push the thinking otherwise to its last extremity,
that of no longer having any regard at all for the thing, and therefore
thinking its nothingness, crushing it? Then the conception itself has an
end, because there is no longer anything to conceive of. Why am I to say,
let us suppose, "God is not Allah, not Brahma, not Jehovah, but Q God"; but
not, "God is nothing but a deception"? Why do people brand me if I am an
"atheist"? Because they put the creature above the creator ("They honour
and serve the creature more than the Creator'')136 and require a ruling
object, that the subject may be right submissive. I am to bend beneath the
absolute, I ought to.
By the "realm of thoughts" Christianity has completed itself; the thought
is that inwardness in which all the world's lights go out, all existence
becomes existenceless, the inward. man (the heart, the head) is all in all.
This realm of thoughts awaits its deliverance, awaits, like the Sphinx,
Oedipus's key-word to the riddle, that it may enter in at last to its
death. I am the annihilator of its continuance, for in the creator's realm
it no longer forms a realm of its own, not a State in the State, but a
creature of my creative Q thoughtlessness. Only together and at the same
time with the benumbed thinking world can the world of Christians,
Christianity and religion itself, come to its downfall; only when thoughts
run out are there no more believers. To the thinker his thinking is a
"sublime labour, a sacred activity," and it rests on a firm faith, the
faith in truth. At first praying is a sacred activity, then this sacred
"devotion" passes over into a rational and reasoning "thinking," which,
however, likewise retains in the "sacred truth" its underangeable basis of
faith, and is only a marvellous machine that the spirit of truth winds up
for its service. Free thinking and free science busy me Q for it is not I
that am free, not I that busy myself, but thinking is free and busies me Q
with heaven and the heavenly or "divine"; that is, properly, with the world
and the worldly, not this world but "another" world; it is only the
reversing and deranging of the world, a busying with the essence of the
world, therefore a derangement. The thinker is blind to the immediateness
of things, and incapable of mastering them: he does not eat, does not
drink, does not enjoy; for the eater and drinker is never the thinker, nay,
the latter forgets eating and drinking, his getting on in life, the cares
of nourishment, etc., over his thinking; he forgets it as the praying man
too forgets it. This is why he appears to the forceful son of nature as a
queer Dick, a fool Q even if he does look upon him as holy, just as
lunatics appeared so to the ancients. Free thinking is lunacy, because it
is pure movement of the inwardness, of the merely inward man, which guides
and regulates the rest of the man. The shaman and the speculative
philosopher mark the bottom and top rounds on the ladder of the inward man,
the Q Mongol. Shaman and philosopher fight with ghosts, demons, spirits,
Totally different from this free thinking is own thinking, my thinking, a
thinking which does not guide me, but is guided, continued, or broken off,
by me at my pleasure. The distinction of this own thinking from free
thinking is similar to that of own sensuality, which I satisfy at pleasure,
from free, unruly sensuality to which I succumb.
Feuerbach, in the Principles of the Philosophy of the Future,137 is always
harping upon being. In this he too, with all his antagonism to Hegel and
the absolute philosophy, is stuck fast in abstraction; for "being" is
abstraction, as is even "the I." Only I am not abstraction alone: I am all
in all, consequently even abstraction or nothing; I am all and nothing; I
am not a mere thought, but at the same time I am full of thoughts, a
thoughtworld. Hegel condemns the own, mine138 Q "opinion."139 "Absolute
thinking" is that which forgets that it is my thinking, that I think, and
that it exists only through me. But I, as I, swallow up again what is mine,
am its master; it is only my opinion, which I can at any moment change,
annihilate, take back into myself, and consume. Feuerbach wants to smite
Hegel's "absolute thinking" with unconquered being. But in me being is as
much conquered as thinking is. It is my being, as the other is my thinking.
With this, of course, Feuerbach does not get further than to the proof,
trivial in itself, that I require the senses for everything, or that I
cannot entirely do without these organs. Certainly I cannot think if I do
not exist sensuously. But for thinking as well as for feeling, and so for
the abstract as well as for the sensuous, I need above all things myself,
this quite particular myself, this unique myself. If I were not this one,
for instance, Hegel, I should not look at the world as I do look at it, I
should not pick out of it that philosophical system which just I as Hegel
do, etc. I should indeed have senses, as do other people too, but I should
not utilize them as I do.
Thus the reproach is brought up against Hegel by Feuerbach140 that he
misuses language, understanding by many words something else than what
natural consciousness takes them for; and yet he too commits the same fault
when he gives the "sensuous" a sense of unusual eminence. Thus it is said,
p. 69, "the sensuous is not the profane, the destitute of thought, the
obvious, that which is understood of itself." But, if it is the sacred, the
full of thought, the recondite, that which can be understood only through
mediation Q well, then it is no longer what people call the sensuous. The
sensuous is only that which exists for the senses; what, on the other hand,
is enjoyable only to those who enjoy with more than the senses, who go
beyond sense-enjoyment or sense-reception, is at most mediated or
introduced by the senses, that is, the senses constitute a condition for
obtaining it, but it is no longer anything sensuous. The sensuous, whatever
it may be, when taken up into me becomes something non-sensuous, which,
however, may again have sensuous effects, as by the stirring of my emotions
and my blood.
It is well that Feuerbach brings sensuousness to honour, but the only thing
he is able to do with it is to clothe the materialism of his "new
philosophy" with what had hitherto been the property of idealism, the
"absolute philosophy." As little as people let it be talked into them that
one can live on the "spiritual" alone without bread, so little will they
believe his word that as a sensuous being one is already everything, and so
spiritual, full of thoughts, etc.
Nothing at all is justified by being. What is thought of is as well as what
is not thought of; the stone in the street is, and my notion of it is too.
Both are only in different spaces, the former in airy space, the latter in
my head, in me; for I am space like the street.
The professionals, the privileged, brook no freedom of thought, no thoughts
that do not come from the "Giver of all good," be he called God, pope,
church, or whatever else. If anybody has such illegitimate thoughts, he
must whisper them into his confessor's ear, and have himself chastised by
him till the slave-whip becomes unendurable to the free thoughts. In other
ways too the professional spirit takes care that free thoughts shall not
come at all: first and foremost, by a wise education. He on whom the
principles of morality have been duly inculcated never becomes free again
from moralizing thoughts, and robbery, perjury, overreaching, and the like,
remain to him fixed ideas against which no freedom of thought protects him.
He has his thoughts "from above," and gets no further.
It is different with the holders of concessions or patents. Every one must
be able to have and form thoughts as he will. If he has the patent, or the
concession, of a capacity to think, he needs no special privilege. But, as
"all men are rational," it is free to every one to put into his head any
thoughts whatever, and, to the extent of the patent of his natural
endowment, to have a greater or less wealth of thoughts. Now one hears the
admonitions that one "is to honour all opinions and convictions," that
"every conviction is authorized," that one must be "tolerant to the views
of others," etc.
But "your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways." Or
rather, I mean the reverse: Your thoughts are my thoughts, which I dispose
of as I will, and which I strike down unmercifully; they are my property,
which I annihilate as I list. I do not wait for authorization from you
first, to decompose and blow away your thoughts. It does not matter to me
that you call these thoughts yours too, they remain mine nevertheless, and
how I will proceed with them is my affair, not a usurpation. It may please
me to leave you in your thoughts; then I keep still. Do you believe
thoughts fly around free like birds, so that every one may get himself some
which he may then make good against me as his inviolable property? What is
flying around is all Q mine.
Do you believe you have your thoughts for yourselves and need answer to no
one for them, or as you do also say, you have to give an account of them to
God only? No, your great and small thoughts belong to me, and I handle them
at my pleasure.
The thought is my own only when I have no misgiving about bringing it in
danger of death every moment, when I do not have to fear its loss as a loss
for me, a loss of me. The thought is my own only when I can indeed
subjugate it, but it never can subjugate me, never fanaticizes me, makes me
the tool of its realization.
So freedom of thought exists when I can have all possible thoughts; but the
thoughts become property only by not being able to become masters. In the
time of freedom of thought, thoughts (ideas) rule; but, if I attain to
property in thought, they stand as my creatures.
If the hierarchy had not so penetrated men to the innermost as to take from
them all courage to pursue free thoughts, that is, thoughts perhaps
displeasing to God, one would have to consider freedom of thought just as
empty a word as, say, a freedom of digestion.
According to the professionals' opinion, the thought is given to me;
according to the freethinkers', I seek the thought. There the truth is
already found and extant, only I must Q receive it from its Giver by grace;
here the truth is to be sought and is my goal, lying in the future, toward
which I have to run.
In both cases the truth (the true thought) lies outside me, and I aspire to
get it, be it by presentation (grace), be it by earning (merit of my own).
Therefore, (1) The truth is a privilege; (2) No, the way to it is patent to
all, and neither the Bible nor the holy fathers nor the church nor any one
else is in possession of the truth; but one can come into possession of it
by Q speculating.
Both, one sees, are property-less in relation to the truth: they have it
either as a fief (for the "holy father," is not a unique person; as unique
he is this Sixtus, Clement, but he does not have the truth as Sixtus,
Clement, but as "holy father," that is, as a spirit) or as an ideal. As a
fief, it is only for a few (the privileged); as an ideal, for all (the
Freedom of thought, then, has the meaning that we do indeed all walk in the
dark and in the paths of error, but every one can on this path approach the
truth and is accordingly on the right path ("All roads lead to Rome, to the
world's end, etc."). Hence freedom of thought means this much, that the
true thought is not my own; for, if it were this, how should people want to
shut me off from it?
Thinking has become entirely free, and has laid down a lot of truths which
I must accommodate myself to. It seeks to complete itself into a system and
to bring itself to an absolute "constitution." In the State it seeks for
the idea, say, till it has brought out the "rational State," in which I am
then obliged to be suited; in man (anthropology), till it "has found man."
The thinker is distinguished from the believer only by believing much more
than the latter, who on his part thinks of much less as signified by his
faith (creed). The thinker has a thousand tenets of faith where the
believer gets along with few; but the former brings coherence into his
tenets, and takes the coherence in turn for the scale to estimate their
worth by. If one or the other does not fit into his budget, he throws it
The thinkers run parallel to the believers in their pronouncements. Instead
of "If it is from God you will not root it out," the word is "If it is from
the truth, is true, etc."; instead of "Give God the glory" Q "Give truth
the glory." But it is very much the same to me whether God or the truth
wins; first and foremost I want to win.
Aside from this, how is an "unlimited freedom" to be thinkable inside of
the State or society? The State may well protect one against another, but
yet it must not let itself be endangered by an unmeasured freedom, a
so-called unbridleness. Thus in "freedom of instruction" the State declares
only this Q that it is suited with every one who instructs as the State
(or, speaking more comprehensibly, the political power) would have it. The
point for the competitors is this "as the State would have it." If the
clergy, for example, does not will as the State does, then it itself
excludes itself from competition (vide France). The limit that is
necessarily drawn in the State for any and all competition is called "the
oversight and superintendence of the State." In bidding freedom of
instruction keep within the due bounds, the State at the same time fixes
the scope of freedom of thought; because, as a rule, people do not think
farther than their teachers have thought.
Hear Minister Guizot:141 "The great difficulty of today is the guiding and
dominating of the mind. Formerly the church fulfilled this mission; now it
is not adequate to it. It is from the university that this great service
must be expected, and the university will not fail to perform it. We, the
government, have the duty of supporting it therein. The charter calls for
the freedom of thought and that of conscience.''142 So, in favour of
freedom of thought and conscience, the minister demands "the guiding and
dominating of the mind."
Catholicism haled the examinee before the forum of ecclesiasticism,
Protestantism before that of biblical Christianity. It would be but little
bettered if one haled him before that of reason, as Ruge wants to.143
Whether the church, the Bible, or reason (to which, moreover, Luther and
Hus already appealed) is the sacred authority makes no difference in
The "question of our time" does not become soluble even when one puts it
thus: Is anything general authorized, or only the individual? Is the
generality (such as State, law, custom, morality, etc.) authorized, or
individuality? It becomes soluble for the first time when one no longer
asks after an "authorization" at all, and does not carry on a mere fight
against "privileges." Q A "rational" freedom of teaching, which recognizes
only the conscience of reason,"144 does not bring us to the goal; we
require an egoistic freedom of teaching rather, a freedom of teaching for
all ownness, wherein I become audible and can announce myself unchecked.
That I make myself ''audible",145 this alone is ''reason,''146 be I ever so
irrational; in my making myself heard, and so hearing myself, others as
well as I myself enjoy me, and at the same time consume me.
What would be gained if, as formerly the orthodox I, the loyal I, the moral
I, etc., was free, now the rational I should become free? Would this be the
freedom of me?
If I am free as "rational I," then the rational in me, or reason, is free;
and this freedom of reason, or freedom of the thought, was the ideal of the
Christian world from of old. They wanted to make thinking Q and, as
aforesaid, faith is also thinking, as thinking is faith Q free; the
thinkers, the believers as well as the rational, were to be free; for the
rest freedom was impossible. But the freedom of thinkers is the "freedom of
the children of God," and at the same time the most merciless Q hierarchy
or dominion of the thought; for I succumb to the thought. If thoughts are
free, I am their slave; I have no power over them, and am dominated by
them. But I want to have the thought, want to be full of thoughts, but at
the same time I want to be thoughtless, and, instead of freedom of thought,
I preserve for myself thoughtlessness.
If the point is to have myself understood and to make communications, then
assuredly I can make use only of human means, which are at my command
because I am at the same time man. And really I have thoughts only as man;
as I, I am at the same time thoughtless.147 He who cannot get rid of a
thought is so far only man, is a thrall of language, this human
institution, this treasury of human thoughts. Language or "the word"
tyrannizes hardest over us, because it brings up against us a whole army of
fixed ideas. Just observe yourself in the act of reflection, right now, and
you will find how you make progress only by becoming thoughtless and
speechless every moment. You are not thoughtless and speechless merely in
(say) sleep, but even in the deepest reflection; yes, precisely then most
so. And only by this thoughtlessness, this unrecognized "freedom of
thought" or freedom from the thought, are you your own. Only from it do you
arrive at putting language to use as your property.
If thinking is not my thinking, it is merely a spun-out thought; it is
slave work, or the work of a "servant obeying at the word." For not a
thought, but I, am the beginning for my thinking, and therefore I am its
goal too, even as its whole course is only a course of my self-enjoyment;
for absolute or free thinking, on the other hand, thinking itself is the
beginning, and it plagues itself with propounding this beginning as the
extremest "abstraction" (such as being). This very abstraction, or this
thought, is then spun out further.
Absolute thinking is the affair of the human spirit, and this is a holy
spirit. Hence this thinking is an affair of the parsons, who have "a sense
for it," a sense for the "highest interests of mankind," for "the spirit."
To the believer, truths are a settled thing, a fact; to the freethinker, a
thing that is still to be settled. Be absolute thinking ever so
unbelieving, its incredulity has its limits, and there does remain a belief
in the truth, in the spirit, in the idea and its final victory: this
thinking does not sin against the holy spirit. But all thinking that does
not sin against the holy spirit is belief in spirits or ghosts.
I can as little renounce thinking as feeling, the spirit's activity as
little as the activity of the senses. As feeling is our sense for things,
so thinking is our sense for essences (thoughts). Essences have their
existence in everything sensuous, especially in the word. The power of
words follows that of things: first one is coerced by the rod, afterward by
conviction. The might of things overcomes our courage, our spirit; against
the power of a conviction, and so of the word, even the rack and the sword
lose their overpoweringness and force. The men of conviction are the
priestly men, who resist every enticement of Satan.
Christianity took away from the things of this world only their irresistible
ness, made us independent of them. In like manner I raise myself above
truths and their power: as I am supersensual, so I am supertrue. Before me
truths are as common and as indifferent as things; they do not carry me
away, and do not inspire me with enthusiasm. There exists not even one
truth, not right, not freedom, humanity, etc., that has stability before
me, and to which I subject myself. They are words, nothing but words, as
all things are to the Christian nothing but "vain things." In words and
truths (every word is a truth, as Hegel asserts that one cannot tell a lie)
there is no salvation for me, as little as there is for the Christian in
things and vanities. As the riches of this world do not make me happy, so
neither do its truths. It is now no longer Satan, but the spirit, that
plays the story of the temptation; and he does not seduce by the things of
this world, but by its thoughts, by the "glitter of the idea."
Along with worldly goods, all sacred goods too must be put away as no
longer valuable.
Truths are phrases, ways of speaking, words (logoz); brought into
connection, or into an articulate series, they form logic, science,
For thinking and speaking I need truths and words, as I do foods for
eating; without them I cannot think nor speak. Truths are men's thoughts,
set down in words and therefore just as extant as other things, although
extant only for the mind or for thinking. They are human institutions and
human creatures, and, even if they are given out for divine revelations,
there still remains in them the quality of alienness for me; yes, as my own
creatures they are already alienated from me after the act of creation.
The Christian man is the man with faith in thinking, who believes in the
supreme dominion of thoughts and wants to bring thoughts, so-called
"principles," to dominion. Many a one does indeed test the thoughts, and
chooses none of them for his master without criticism, but in this he is
like the dog who sniffs at people to smell out "his master"; he is always
aiming at the ruling thought. The Christian may reform and revolt an
infinite deal, may demolish the ruling concepts of centuries; he will
always aspire to a new "principle" or new master again, always set up a
higher or "deeper" truth again, always call forth a cult again, always
proclaim a spirit called to dominion, lay down a law for all.
If there is even one truth only to which man has to devote his life and his
powers because he is man, then he is subjected to a rule, dominion, law; he
is a servingman. It is supposed that man, humanity, liberty, etc., are such
On the other hand, one can say thus: Whether you will further occupy
yourself with thinking depends on you; only know that, if in your thinking
you would like to make out anything worthy of notice, many hard problems
are to be solved, without vanquishing which you cannot get far. There
exists, therefore, no duty and no calling for you to meddle with thoughts
(ideas, truths); but, if you will do so, you will do well to utilize what
the forces of others have already achieved toward clearing up these
difficult subjects.
Thus, therefore, he who will think does assuredly have a task, which he
consciously or unconsciously sets for himself in willing that; but no one
has the task of thinking or of believing. In the former case it may be
said, "You do not go far enough, you have a narrow and biased interest, you
do not go to the bottom of the thing; in short, you do not completely
subdue it. But, on the other hand, however far you may come at any time,
you are still always at the end, you have no call to step farther, and you
can have it as you will or as you are able. It stands with this as with any
other piece of work, which you can give up when the humour for it wears
off. Just so, if you can no longer believe a thing, you do not have to
force yourself into faith or to busy yourself lastingly as if with a sacred
truth of the faith, as theologians or philosophers do, but you can
tranquilly draw back your interest from it and let it run. Priestly spirits
will indeed expound this your lack of interest as "laziness,
thoughtlessness, obduracy, self-deception," and the like. But do you just
let the trumpery lie, notwithstanding. No thing,148 no so-called "highest
interest of mankind," no "sacred cause,''149 is worth your serving it, and
occupying yourself with it for its sake; you may seek its worth in this
alone, whether it is worth anything to you for your sake. Become like
children, the biblical saying admonishes us. But children have no sacred
interest and know nothing of a "good cause." They know all the more
accurately what they have a fancy for; and they think over, to the best of
their powers, how they are to arrive at it.
Thinking will as little cease as feeling. But the power of thoughts and
ideas, the dominion of theories and principles, the sovereignty of the
spirit, in short the Q hierarchy, lasts as long as the parsons, that is,
theologians, philosophers, statesmen, philistines, liberals, schoolmasters,
servants, parents, children, married couples, Proudhon, George Sand,150
Bluntschli,151 and others, have the floor; the hierarchy will endure as
long as people believe in, think of, or even criticize, principles; for
even the most inexorable criticism, which undermines all current
principles, still does finally believe in the principle.
Every one criticizes, but the criterion is different. People run after the
"right" criterion. The right criterion is the first presupposition. The
critic starts from a proposition, a truth, a belief. This is not a creation
of the critic, but of the dogmatist; nay, commonly it is actually taken up
out of the culture of the time without further ceremony, like "liberty,"
"humanity," etc. The critic has not "discovered man," but this truth has
been established as "man" by the dogmatist, and the critic (who, besides,
may be the same person with him) believes in this truth, this article of
faith. In this faith, and possessed by this faith, he criticizes.
The secret of criticism is some "truth" or other: this remains its
energizing mystery.
But I distinguish between servile and own criticism. If I criticize under
the presupposition of a supreme being, my criticism serves the being and is
carried on for its sake: if I am possessed by the belief in a "free State,"
then everything that has a bearing on it I criticize from the stand-point
of whether it is suitable to this State, for I love this State; if I
criticize as a pious man, then for me everything falls into the classes of
divine and diabolical, and before my criticism nature consists of traces of
God or traces of the devil (hence names like Godsgift, Godmount, the
Devil's Pulpit), men of believers and unbelievers; if I criticize while
believing in man as the "true essence," then for me everything falls
primarily into the classes of man and the un-man, etc.
Criticism has to this day remained a work of love: for at all times we
exercised it for the love of some being. All servile criticism is a product
of love, a possessedness, and proceeds according to that New Testament
precept, "Test everything and hold fast the good". 152 "The good" is the
touchstone, the criterion. The good, returning under a thousand names and
forms, remained always the presupposition, remained the dogmatic fixed
point for this criticism, remained the Q fixed idea.
The critic, in setting to work, impartially presupposes the "truth," and
seeks for the truth in the belief that it is to be found. He wants to
ascertain the true, and has in it that very "good."
Presuppose means nothing else than put a thought in front, or think
something before everything else and think the rest from the starting-point
of this that has been thought, measure and criticize it by this. In other
words, this is as much as to say that thinking is to begin with something
already thought. If thinking began at all, instead of being begun, if
thinking were a subject, an acting personality of its own, as even the
plant is such, then indeed there would be no abandoning the principle that
thinking must begin with itself. But it is just the personification of
thinking that brings to pass those innumerable errors. In the Hegelian
system they always talk as if thinking or "the thinking spirit" (that is,
personified thinking, thinking as a ghost) thought and acted; in critical
liberalism it is always said that "criticism" does this and that, or else
that "self-consciousness" finds this and that. But, if thinking ranks as
the personal actor, thinking itself must be presupposed; if criticism ranks
as such, a thought must likewise stand in front. Thinking and criticism
could be active only starting from themselves, would have to be themselves
the presupposition of their activity, as without being they could not be
active. But thinking, as a thing presupposed, is a fixed thought, a dogma;
thinking and criticism, therefore, can start only from a dogma, from a
thought, a fixed idea, a presupposition.
With this we come back again to what was enunciated above, that
Christianity consists in the development of a world of thoughts, or that it
is the proper "freedom of thought," the "free thought," the "free spirit."
The "true" criticism, which I called "servile," is therefore just as much
"free" criticism, for it is not my own.
The case stands otherwise when what is yours is not made into something
that is of itself, not personified, not made independent as a "spirit" to
itself. Your thinking has for a presupposition not "thinking," but you. But
thus you do presuppose yourself after all? Yes, but not for myself, but for
my thinking. Before my thinking, there is Q I. From this it follows that my
thinking is not preceded by a thought, or that my thinking is without a
"presupposition." For the presupposition which I am for my thinking is not
one made by thinking, not one thought of, but it is posited thinking
itself, it is the owner of the thought, and proves only that thinking is
nothing more than Q property, that an "independent" thinking, a "thinking
spirit," does not exist at all.
This reversal of the usual way of regarding things might so resemble an
empty playing with abstractions that even those against whom it is directed
would acquiesce in the harmless aspect I give it, if practical consequences
were not connected with it.
To bring these into a concise expression, the assertion now made is that
man is not the measure of all things, but I am this measure. The servile
critic has before his eyes another being, an idea, which he means to serve;
therefore he only slays the false idols for his God. What is done for the
love of this being, what else should it be but a Q work of love? But I,
when I criticize, do not even have myself before my eyes, but am only doing
myself a pleasure, amusing myself according to my taste; according to my
several needs I chew the thing up or only inhale its odour.
The distinction between the two attitudes will come out still more
strikingly if one reflects that the servile critic, because love guides
him, supposes he is serving the thing (cause) itself.
The truth, or "truth in general," people are bound not to give up, but to
seek for. What else is it but the tre suprme, the highest essence? Even
"true criticism" would have to despair if it lost faith in the truth. And
yet the truth is only a Q thought; but it is not merely "a" thought, but
the thought that is above all thoughts, the irrefragable thought; it is the
thought itself, which gives the first hallowing to all others; it is the
consecration of thoughts, the "absolute," the "sacred" thought. The truth
wears longer than all the gods; for it is only in the truth's service, and
for love of it, that people have overthrown the gods and at last God
himself. "The truth" outlasts the downfall of the world of gods, for it is
the immortal soul of this transitory world of gods, it is Deity itself.
I will answer Pilate's question, What is truth? Truth is the free thought,
the free idea, the free spirit; truth is what is free from you, what is not
your own, what is not in your power. But truth is also the completely
unindependent, impersonal, unreal, and incorporeal; truth cannot step forwar
d as you do, cannot move, change, develop; truth awaits and receives
everything from you, and itself is only through you; for it exists only Q
in your head. You concede that the truth is a thought, but say that not
every thought is a true one, or, as you are also likely to express it, not
every thought is truly and really a thought. And by what do you measure and
recognize the thought? By your impotence, to wit, by your being no longer
able to make any successful assault on it! When it overpowers you, inspires
you, and carries you away, then you hold it to be the true one. Its
dominion over you certifies to you its truth; and, when it possesses you,
and you are possessed by it, then you feel well with it, for then you have
found your Q lord and master. When you were seeking the truth, what did
your heart then long for? For your master! You did not aspire to your
might, but to a Mighty One, and wanted to exalt a Mighty One ("Exalt ye the
Lord our God!"). The truth, my dear Pilate, is Q the Lord, and all who seek
the truth are seeking and praising the Lord. Where does the Lord exist?
Where else but in your head? He is only spirit, and, wherever you believe
you really see him, there he is a Q ghost; for the Lord is merely something
that is thought of, and it was only the Christian pains and agony to make
the invisible visible, the spiritual corporeal, that generated the ghost
and was the frightful misery of the belief in ghosts.
As long as you believe in the truth, you do not believe in yourself, and
you are a Q servant, a Q religious man. You alone are the truth, or rather,
you are more than the truth, which is nothing at all before you. You too do
assuredly ask about the truth, you too do assuredly "criticize," but you do
not ask about a "higher truth" Q to wit, one that should be higher than you
Q nor criticize according to the criterion of such a truth. You address
yourself to thoughts and notions, as you do to the appearances of things,
only for the purpose of making them palatable to you, enjoyable to you, and
your own: you want only to subdue them and become their owner, you want to
orient yourself and feel at home in them, and you find them true, or see
them in their true light, when they can no longer slip away from you, no
longer have any unseized or uncomprehended place, or when they are right
for you, when they are your property. If afterward they become heavier
again, if they wriggle themselves out of your power again, then that is
just their untruth Q to wit, your impotence. Your impotence is their power,
your humility their exaltation. Their truth, therefore, is you, or is the
nothing which you are for them and in which they dissolve: their truth is
their nothingness.
Only as the property of me do the spirits, the truths, get to rest; and
they then for the first time really are, when they have been deprived of
their sorry existence and made a property of mine, when it is no longer
said "the truth develops itself, rules, asserts itself; history (also a
concept) wins the victory," and the like. The truth never has won a
victory, but was always my means to the victory, like the sword ("the sword
of truth"). The truth is dead, a letter, a word, a material that I can use
up. All truth by itself is dead, a corpse; it is alive only in the same way
as my lungs are alive Q to wit, in the measure of my own vitality. Truths
are material, like vegetables and weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed,
the decision lies in me.
Objects are to me only material that I use up. Wherever I put my hand I
grasp a truth, which I trim for myself. The truth is certain to me, and I
do not need to long after it. To do the truth a service is in no case my
intent; it is to me only a nourishment for my thinking head, as potatoes
are for my digesting stomach, or as a friend is for my social heart. As
long as I have the humour and force for thinking, every truth serves me
only for me to work it up according to my powers. As reality or worldliness
is "vain and a thing of naught" for Christians, so is the truth for me. It
exists, exactly as much as the things of this world go on existing although
the Christian has proved their nothingness; but it is vain, because it has
its value not in itself but in me. Of itself it is valueless. The truth is
a Q creature.
As you produce innumerable things by your activity, yes, shape the earth's
surface anew and set up works of men everywhere, so too you may still
ascertain numberless truths by your thinking, and we will gladly take
delight in them. Nevertheless, as I do not please to hand myself over to
serve your newly discovered machines mechanically, but only help to set
them running for my benefit, so too I will only use your truths, without
letting myself be used for their demands.
All truths beneath me are to my liking; a truth above me, a truth that I
should have to direct myself by, I am not acquainted with. For me there is
no truth, for nothing is more than I! Not even my essence, not even the
essence of man, is more than I! than I, this "drop in the bucket," this
"insignificant man"!
You believe that you have done the utmost when you boldly assert that,
because every time has its own truth, there is no "absolute truth." Why,
with this you nevertheless still leave to each time its truth, and thus you
quite genuinely create an "absolute truth," a truth that no time lacks,
because every time, however its truth may be, still has a "truth."
Is it meant only that people have been thinking in every time, and so have
had thoughts or truths, and that in the subsequent time these were other
than they were in the earlier? No, the word is to be that every time had
its "truth of faith"; and in fact none has yet appeared in which a "higher
truth" has not been recognized, a truth that people believed they must
subject themselves to as "highness and majesty." Every truth of a time is
its fixed idea, and, if people later found another truth, this always
happened only because they sought for another; they only reformed the folly
and put a modern dress on it. For they did want Q who would dare doubt
their justification for this? Q they wanted to be "inspired by an idea."
They wanted to be dominated Q possessed, by a thought ! The most modern
ruler of this kind is "our essence," or "man."
For all free criticism a thought was the criterion; for own criticism I am,
I the unspeakable, and so not the merely thought-of; for what is merely
thought of is always speakable, because word and thought coincide. That is
true which is mine, untrue that whose own I am; true, as in the union;
untrue, the State and society. "Free and true" criticism takes care for the
consistent dominion of a thought, an idea, a spirit; "own" criticism, for
nothing but my self-enjoyment. But in this the latter is in fact Q and we
will not spare it this "ignominy"! Q like the bestial criticism of
instinct. I, like the criticizing beast, am concerned only for myself, not
"for the cause." I am the criterion of truth, but I am not an idea, but
more than idea, that is, unutterable. My criticism is not a "free"
criticism, not free from me, and not "servile," not in the service of an
idea, but an own criticism.
True or human criticism makes out only whether something is suitable to
man, to the true man; but by own criticism you ascertain whether it is
suitable to you.
Free criticism busies itself with ideas, and therefore is always
theoretical. However it may rage against ideas, it still does not get clear
of them. It pitches into the ghosts, but it can do this only as it holds
them to be ghosts. The ideas it has to do with do not fully disappear; the
morning breeze of a new day does not scare them away.
The critic may indeed come to ataraxia before ideas, but he never gets rid
of them; he will never comprehend that above the bodily man there does not
exist something higher Q to wit, liberty, his humanity, etc. He always has
a "calling" of man still left, "humanity." And this idea of humanity
remains unrealized, just because it is an "idea" and is to remain such.
If, on the other hand, I grasp the idea as my idea, then it is already
realized, because I am its reality; its reality consists in the fact that
I, the bodily, have it.
They say, the idea of liberty realizes itself in the history of the world.
The reverse is the case; this idea is real as a man thinks it, and it is
real in the measure in which it is idea, that is, in which I think it or
have it. It is not the idea of liberty that develops itself, but men
develop themselves, and, of course, in this self-development develop their
thinking too.
In short, the critic is not yet owner, because he still fights with ideas
as with powerful aliens Q as the Christian is not owner of his "bad
desires" so long as he has to combat them; for him who contends against
vice, vice exists.
Criticism remains stuck fast in the "freedom of knowing," the freedom of
the spirit, and the spirit gains its proper freedom when it fills itself
with the pure, true idea; this is the freedom of thinking, which cannot be
without thoughts.
Criticism smites one idea only by another, such as that of privilege by
that of manhood, or that of egoism by that of unselfishness.
In general, the beginning of Christianity comes on the stage again in its
critical end, egoism being combated here as there. I am not to make myself
(the individual) count, but the idea, the general.
Why, warfare of the priesthood with egoism, of the spirituallyminded with
the worldly-minded, constitutes the substance of all Christian history. In
the newest criticism this war only becomes all-embracing, fanaticism
complete. Indeed, neither can it pass away till it passes thus, after it
has had its life and its rage out.

Whether what I think and do is Christian, what do I care? Whether it is
human, liberal, humane, whether unhuman, illiberal, inhuman, what do I ask
about that? If only it accomplishes what I want, if only I satisfy myself
in it, then overlay it with predicates as you will; it is all alike to me.
Perhaps I too, in the very next moment, defend myself against my former
thoughts; I too am likely to change suddenly my mode of action; but not on
account of its not corresponding to Christianity, not on account of its
running counter to the eternal rights of man, not on account of its
affronting the idea of mankind, humanity, and humanitarianism, but Q
because I am no longer all in it, because it no longer furnishes me any
full enjoyment, because I doubt the earlier thought or no longer please
myself in the mode of action just now practiced.
As the world as property has become a material with which I undertake what
I will, so the spirit too as property must sink down into a material before
which I no longer entertain any sacred dread. Then, firstly, I shall
shudder no more before a thought, let it appear as presumptuous and
"devilish" as it will, because, if it threatens to become too inconvenient
and unsatisfactory for me, its end lies in my power; but neither shall I
recoil from any deed because there dwells in it a spirit of godlessness,
immorality, wrongfulness. as little as St. Boniface pleased to desist,
through religious scrupulousness, from cutting down the sacred oak of the
heathens. If the things of the world have once become vain, the thoughts of
the spirit must also become vain.
No thought is sacred, for let no thought rank as "devotions";153 no feeling
is sacred (no sacred feeling of friendship, mother's feelings, etc.), no
belief is sacred. They are all alienable, my alienable property, and are
annihilated, as they are created, by me.
The Christian can lose all things or objects, the most loved persons, these
"objects" of his love, without giving up himself (that is, in the Christian
sense, his spirit, his soul! as lost. The owner can cast from him all the
thoughts that were dear to his heart and kindled his zeal, and will
likewise "gain a thousandfold again," because he, their creator, remains.
Unconsciously and involuntarily we all strive toward ownness, and there
will hardly be one among us who has not given up a sacred feeling, a sacred
thought, a sacred belief; nay, we probably meet no one who could not still
deliver himself from one or another of his sacred thoughts. All our
contention against convictions starts from the opinion that maybe we are
capable of driving our opponent out of his entrenchments of thought. But
what I do unconsciously I half-do, and therefore after every victory over a
faith I become again the prisoner (possessed) of a faith which then takes
my whole self anew into its service, and makes me an enthusiast for reason
after I have ceased to be enthusiastic for the Bible, or an enthusiast for
the idea of humanity after I have fought long enough for that of
Doubtless, as owner of thoughts, I shall cover my property with my shield,
just as I do not, as owner of things, willingly let everybody help himself
to them; but at the same time I shall look forward smilingly to the outcome
of the battle, smilingly lay the shield on the corpses of my thoughts and
my faith, smilingly triumph when I am beaten. That is the very humour of
the thing. Every one who has "sublimer feelings" is able to vent his humour
on the pettinesses of men; but to let it play with all "great thoughts,
sublime feelings, noble inspiration, and sacred faith" presupposes that I
am the owner of all.
If religion has set up the proposition that we are sinners altogether, I
set over against it the other: we are perfect altogether! For we are, every
moment, all that we can be; and we never need be more. Since no defect
cleaves to us, sin has no meaning either. Show me a sinner in the world
still, if no one any longer needs to do what suits a superior! If I only
need do what suits myself, I am no sinner if I do not do what suits myself,
as I do not injure in myself a "holy one"; if, on the other hand, I am to
be pious, then I must do what suits God; if I am to act humanly, I must do
what suits the essence of man, the idea of mankind, etc. What religion
calls the "sinner," humanitarianism calls the "egoist." But, once more: if
I need not do what suits any other, is the "egoist," in whom
humanitarianism has borne to itself a new-fangled devil, anything more than
a piece of nonsense? The egoist, before whom the humane shudder, is a spook
as much as the devil is: he exists only as a bogie and phantasm in their
brain. If they were not unsophisticatedly drifting back and forth in the
antediluvian opposition of good and evil, to which they have given the
modern names of "human" and "egoistic," they would not have freshened up
the hoary "sinner" into an "egoist" either, and put a new patch on an old
garment. But they could not do otherwise, for they hold it for their task
to be "men." They are rid of the Good One; good is left!154
We are perfect altogether, and on the whole earth there is not one man who
is a sinner! There are crazy people who imagine that they are God the
Father, God the Son, or the man in the moon, and so too the world swarms
with fools who seem to themselves to be sinners; but, as the former are not
the man in the moon, so the latter are Q not sinners. Their sin is
Yet, it is insidiously objected, their craziness or their possessedness is
at least their sin. Their possessedness is nothing but what they Q could
achieve, the result of their development, just as Luther's faith in the
Bible was all that he was Q competent to make out. The one brings himself
into the madhouse with his development, the other brings himself therewith
into the Pantheon and to the loss of Q Valhalla.
There is no sinner and no sinful egoism!
Get away from me with your "philanthropy"! Creep in, you philantropist,
into the "dens of vice," linger awhile in the throng of the great city:
will you not everywhere find sin, and sin, and again sin? Will you not wail
over corrupt humanity, not lament at the monstrous egoism? Will you see a
rich man without finding him pitiless and "egoistic?" Perhaps you already
call yourself an atheist, but you remain true to the Christian feeling that
a camel will sooner go through a needle's eye than a rich man not be an
"un-man." How many do you see anyhow that you would not throw into the
"egoistic mass"? What, therefore, has your philanthropy (love of man) found?
Nothing but unlovable men! And where do they all come from? From you, from
your philanthropy! You brought the sinner with you in your head, therefore
you found him, therefore you inserted him everywhere. Do not call men
sinners, and they are not: you alone are the creator of sinners; you, who
fancy that you love men, are the very one to throw them into the mire of
sin, the very one to divide them into vicious and virtuous, into men and
un-men, the very one to befoul them with the slaver of your possessedness;
for you love not men, but man. But I tell you, you have never seen a
sinner, you have only Q dreamed of him.
 Self-enjoyment is embittered to me by my thinking I must serve another, by
my fancying myself under obligation to him, by my holding myself called to
"self-sacrifice," "resignation," "enthusiasm." All right: if I no longer
serve any idea, any "higher essence," then it is clear of itself that I no
longer serve any man either, but Q under all circumstances Q myself. But
thus I am not merely in fact or in being, but also for my consciousness,
the Q unique.155
There pertains to you more than the divine, the human, etc.; yours pertains
to you.
Look upon yourself as more powerful than they give you out for, and you
have more power; look upon yourself as more, and you have more.
You are then not merely called to everything divine, entitled to everything
human, but owner of what is yours, that is, of all that you possess the
force to make your own;156 you are appropriate157 and capacitated for
everything that is yours.
People have always supposed that they must give me a destiny lying outside
myself, so that at last they demanded that I should lay claim to the human
because I am Q man. This is the Christian magic circle. Fichte's ego too is
the same essence outside me, for every one is ego; and, if only this ego
has rights, then it is "the ego," it is not I. But I am not an ego along
with other egos, but the sole ego: I am unique. Hence my wants too are
unique, and my deeds; in short, everything about me is unique. And it is
only as this unique I that I take everything for my own, as I set myself to
work, and develop myself, only as this. I do not develop men, nor as man,
but, as I, I develop -- myself.
This is the meaning of the - unique one.
1 (Einzigen )
2 Romans 8. 14.
3 Compare with Romans 8. 14. - 1. John 3. 10.
4 (Eigenschaften )
5 (Eigentum )
6 Karl Marx, in the Deutsch-franzsische Jahrbcher, p. 197.
7 Bruno Bauer, Judenfrage, p. 61.
8 [Frederick II (1712-1786), King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786, widely
known for his indifference to the religious professions and preferences of
his subjects.]
9 [Stirner's Verein von Egoisten has drawn the attention of a number of
students, critics and commentators over the years. It is the closest he
came to suggesting an alternative socio-political system to that he
abominated, and does not go beyond the very outline of a "new order." At
the minimum it suggests a loose association of conscious "egoists" drawn
together voluntarily by the attraction of their mutual interests, and
contracting out the recourse to force as their starting point.]
10 Hess, Triarchie, p. 76. [Moses Hess (1812-1875), a contemporary of Marx
in the propagation of Socialist views; his Die Europ
published in Leipzig in 1841 by the same house which brought out Stirner,
Otto Wigand.]
11 (Vorrecht, literally "precedent right.")
12 (Eigenschaft )
13 (Eigentum )
14 Essence of Christianity, 2nd ed., p. 401.
15 (bestimmt )
16 (Bestimmung )
17 Mark 3. 29.
18 (This word has also, in German, the meaning of "common law," and will
sometimes be translated "law" in the following paragraphs.)
19 [The oldest and most respected newspaper in Berlin, founded in the 18th
century. For a time it was published under the title Kniglich
privilegierte Berliner Zeitung. ]
20 [Wilhelm Christian Weitling (1809-1871), born in Magdeburg, a very
active participant in communist propaganda in Germany between 1842 and
1848. He was one of the radicals who came to America after the latter date,
and all his activities were confined to the United States thereafter.
Weitling was a favourite target of Stirner's.]
21 Cf. Die Kommunisten in der Schweiz, committee report, p. 3. [The
reference is to Franois-Nol Babeuf (1764-1797), one of the earliest
theorists of equalitarian communism during the French Revolution; Babouvism
became the term which described the substance of his overall views. The
source cited by Stirner is Die Kommunisten in der Schweiz nach den bei
Weitling vorgefundenen Papieren; Wortlicher Abdruck des
Kommissionalberichtes an die Regierung des Standes (Zurich, 1843). It was
reprinted in another form by inclusion within another publication,
presumably to outwit the press censors, in Schaffhausen in the same year.]
$ gleichberechtigt. (just as justified)
22 (Rechtsstreit, a word which usually means "lawsuit.")
23 [There is an electrifying contemporary ring to this example of
Stirner's, though it is probably superfluous to mention that he is speaking
of circumstances nearly a century and a quarter ago.]
24 (A common German phrase for "it suits me.")
25 A. Becker, Volksphilosophie, p. 22 f.
26 (Mephistopheles in Falust.)
27 "I beg you, spare my lungs! He who insists on proving himself right, if
he but has one of these things called tongues, can hold his own in all the
world's despite!" (Faust's words to Mephistopheles, slightly misquoted. Q
For Rechthaberei see note 136 in second chapter.)
28 (Gesetz, statute; no longer the same German word as "right.")
29 (Verbrechen )
30 (brechen )
$  Compare Matt 12. 30
31 [A figure of speech for a particularly disappointing illusion, referring
to the story in The Arabian Nights, wherein a member of the Barmecide
family pretended to serve a feast to a beggar but set before him only a
succession of empty dishes.]
32 This Book Belongs to the King, p. 376. [The pseudonym of Elizabeth
Brentano, Countess von Arnim (1785-1859), a writer and belated socialist
propagandist best remembered for her correspondence with Goethe, published
in 1835. Dies Buch gehrt dem Knig, cited by Stirner, was published in
Berlin in 1843.]
33 [Bettina, This Book,] p. 376.
34 [Bettina, This Book,] p. 374.
35 (An unnatural mother.)
36 [Bettina, This Book,] p. 381.
$ Compare for instance Mark 9. 47.
37 [Bettina, This Book,] p. 385.
38 (Gerechte )
39 (macht Alles hbsch gerecht )
40 (Einzige )
41 [Georges Jacques Danton (1759-1791), along with Robespierre, Marat and
St. Just, leaders of the French Revolution. Danton fell afoul of an
intra-revolutionary coup, charged with insufficient zeal in his opposition
to the country's foreign enemies, and was guillotined in April, 1794.]
42 (Literally, "precedent right.")
43 (Spannung )
44 (gespannt )
45 (spannen )
46 (einzig )
47 (Einzigkeit )
48 [Jean Baptiste, Baron de Cloots (1755-1794), of Dutch origin, a writer
and rationalist, instrumental in the famous action in the French
Revolution, known as the "Abolition of the worship of God," in November,
1793. Cloots was one of the followers of Hbert who was guillotined by
Robespierre in March, 1794.]
49 (Volk; but the etymological remark following applies equally to the
English word "people." See Liddell & Scott's Greek lexicon, under pimplemi.
50 (Kuschen, a word whose only use is in ordering dogs to keep quiet.)
51 (This is the word for "of age"; but it is derived from Mund, "mouth,"
and refers properly to the right of speaking through one's own mouth, not
by a guardian.)
52 [A reference to Martin Luther's safe-conduct pass under which he
journeyed to the grand Diet of the German princes at Worms in 1521 to
defend himself of charges of heresy.]
53 [Written in 1843, the thousandth anniversary of the Treaty of Verdun,
when the empire of Charlemagne was divided into three parts, the part from
the Rhine to the easterly marches of the empire becoming what was
essentially Germany upon unification in 1870, though it was a confederation
of several separate political units in Stirner's time.]
54 ("Occupy"; literally, "have within".)
55 (The word Genosse, "companion," signifies originally a companion in
56 (This word in German does not mean religion, but, as in Latin,
faithfulness to family ties Q as we speak of "filial piety." But the word
elsewhere translated "pious" (fromm ) means "religious," as usually in
57 [The pseudonym of Georg Wilhelm Haring (1798-1871), a novelist, resident
of Breslau, descended from a refugee family from Brittany. Cabanis  was
published in Berlin in 1832, and was one of his most famous stories; seven
editions appeared in the following sixty years.]
58 (It should be remembered that the words "establish" and "State" are both
derived from the root "stand.")
59 (huldigen )
60 (Huld  )
61 [Andre Marie J. Q J. Dupin (1783-1865), formidable and Versatile French
politician, a judge and one time president of the Chamber of Deputies, and
active under several quite different regimes; Stirner's quote presumably
came from a newspaper comment on a current speech.]
62What was said in the concluding remarks after Humane Liberalism holds
good of the following Q to wit, that it was likewise written immediately
after the appearance of the book cited. [Edgar Bauer (1820-1886), younger
brother of Bruno and a collaborator on a number of literary projects, as
well as being ideologically allied to him. A third Bauer brother, Egbert,
did not figure in Stirner's polemical discussions. Die Liberalen
Bestrebungen in Deutschland  was published in Zurich and Winterthur in
63 (In the philosophical sense (a thinking and acting being) not in the
political sense.)
64 Creation de l'ordre,  p.485.
65 [A 10th century district or march created between the Elbe and Oder
Rivers to serve as a buffer and advance frontier against the Eastern
enemies of the Saxon and Salian emperors.]
66 [Moriz Carrire (1817-1895), a German writer, and professor of
philosophy at Giessen and later Munich. Stirner quoted from page four of
Carrire's Der Klner Dom als freie Deutsche Kirche: Gedanken ber
Stuttgart in 1843.]
67 [Karl Nauwerck, Uber die Teilnahme am Staate, published by Wigand in
Leipzig, 1844.]
68 (einzig )
69 (am Einzigen )
70 (Einzigen )
71 (heilig )
72 (unheilig )
73 (Heiliger )
74 B. Bauer, Lit. Ztg., No. VIII, p. 22.
75 [This is cited from Hess's "Philosophie der Tat," in Herweg (ed.), Ein
und zwanzig Bogen, pp. 89 ff.]
76 [It is not clear from the context whether Stirner meant the partisans of
the pope against the Ghibelline aristocratic faction in medieval Italy or
the secret society of the same name in then-contemporary Italy with
political ambitions not very different from nationalistic liberals in
77(Einzigkeit )
78 (See note 133 in second chapter.)
79 (The words "cot" and "dung" are alike in German.)
80 Qu'est-ce que la Proprit, p. 83. [This was published in Paris in 1840.]
81 (Einzige )
82 (A German idiom for "take upon myself," "assume.")
83 [This word mystified Byington; the reference was to the famous
Renaissance Schwanenorden, the oldest order of the Hohenzollern house,
established September 29, 1440, open to both men and women, with its
principal object being the founding and conducting of charitable
enterprises and societies. It had been reorganized and renewed, after a
long period of neglect, by the romanticist Kaiser Frederick Wilhelm IV in
1843, the year Stirner was at work on his book.]
84 [Puss in Boots, one of the stories of Johann Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853), a
Romantic period writer of prodigious output; twenty volumes of his novels
were published in Berlin between 1828 and 1846.]
85 [A French army captured Algiers on July 5, 1830 and proceeded to make
Algeria a French colony.]
86 In a registration bill for Ireland the government made the proposal to
let those be electors who pay #5 sterling of poor-rates. He who gives alms,
therefore, acquires political rights, or elsewhere becomes a swanknight.
[The Schwanenritter (Chevalier au Cygne  in French), legendary figures of
the 12th and 13th centuries, rescuers of those in need or distress, as
Godfrey of Bouillon, and later, Lohengrin.]

87 [Die Personlichkeit des Eigentums in Bezug auf den Sozialismus und 
Communismus im heutigen Frankreich, by Heinrich Wilhelm Kaiser, 
published in Bremen in 1843.]

88 Minister Stein used this expression about Count von Reisach, when he
cold-bloodedly left the latter at the mercy of the Bavarian government
because to him, as he said, "a government like Bavaria must be worth more
than a simple individual." Reisach had written against Montgelas at Stein's
bidding, and Stein later agreed to the giving up of Reisach, which was
demanded by Montgelas on account of this very book. See Hinrichs,
Politische Vorlesungen,  I, 280. [Politische Vorlesungen  by Hermann F.W.
Hinrichs (1794-1861) was published in two volumes in Halle in 1843; the
principals in the statecraft described by Stirner, Baron vom Stein
(1757-1831), Baron von Montgelas (1757-1838), Minister to Maximilian Joseph
of Bavaria, and Karl August, Count von Reisach, were all well-known figures
in then-recent German affairs. The work which led to Reisach's prosecution
was his Beitrage zur kenntniss der neuen Einrichtungen in Baiern, der
Ursachen des Widerstandes, welche man finden wird  (Nurnberg, 1802.)]
89 In colleges and universities poor men compete with rich. But they are
able to do in most eases only through scholarships, which Q a significant
point Q almost all come down to us from a time when free competition was
still far from being a controlling principle. The principle of competition
founds no scholarship, but says, Help yourself; provide yourself the means.
What the State gives for such purposes it pays out from interested motives,
to educate "servants" for itself.
90 (preisgeben )
91 (Preis )
92 (Preis )
93 (Geld )
94 (gelten )
95 (Equivalent in ordinary German use to our "possessed of a competence.")
96 (Einzige )
97 (Literally, "given.")
98 (A German phrase for sharpers.)
99 (Literally, "unhomely.")
100 [A series of very repressive measures enacted in France in September,
1835 in the reign of Louis Philippe; one of them was a severe press
restriction, aimed at curtailing the expression of radical views and
101 Vol. II, p. 91 ff. See my note above.
102 Athanasius. [A Greek Father of the Church, Bishop of Alexandria, born
late in the 3rd century, died 373 A.D., and subsequently canonized a
103 (Wesen )
104 (Wesen )
105 [Mystres de Paris, the major work of Marie-Joseph Sue (18041857),
celebrated French novelist, published in Paris, 1842-1843; the author was
known as Eugne Sue.]
106 Feuerbach, Essence of Christianity, p. 394.
107 (gebrauche )
108 (brauche )
109 [A reference to the safe-conduct pass given by Sigismund, the King of
Bohemia (from 1410 to 1437) to John Hus, accused of preaching heresy, that
the latter might attend the Council of Constance, in 1415, and defend
himself of the charges. But the king then allowed him to be arrested, and
he was subsequently tried and burned at the stake.]
110 [In the first war (1521-1526) of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
against Francis I, King of France, Francis was routed and personally
captured in 1525. At the treaty of peace signed at Madrid the following
year, Francis agreed to a number of humiliating provisions in order to
obtain his release, but in 1527 denounced the terms on the grounds that
they had been wrung from him by extortion, and were therefore not binding.]
111 [Czar Paul I of Russia (1796-1801), who forced this upon the Polish
patriots following their unsuccessful insurrection and the subsequent third
partition of Poland in 1795; the revolt had begun in 1794 led by Thaddeus
Kosciuszko (1746-1817), famous for his earlier part in the American
112 (Verein )
113 (Vereinigung )
*  [Stirner is undoubtedly referring here to the Czar "of all the
Russians," but for reasons again of probable censorship on the grounds of
invidious reference to a contemporary and not unfriendly monarch, has
chosen to disguise it in this manner.]
114 (Muthlosigkeit )
115 (Demuth )
116 (Muth )
117 [In Roman mythology. the traditional household or family deities.]
118 (Literally, "love-services")
119 (Literally, "own-benefit.")
120 (Literally, furnishes me with a right.)
121 (Emprung )
122 (sich auf-oder emprzurichten )
123 To secure myself against a criminal charge I superfluously make the
express remark that I choose the word "insurrection" on account of its
etymological sense, and therefore am not using it in the limited sense
which is disallowed by the penal code. [Another precautionary effort of
Stirner's to avoid running afoul of the Saxon state press censorship laws.]
124 1 Cor 15. 26.
125 2 Tim. 1. 10.
126 [See the next to the last scene of the tragedy:
ODOARDO: Under the pretext of a judicial investigation he tears you out of
our arms and takes you to Grimaldi. . . .
EMILIA: Give me that dagger, father, me! . . .
ODOARDO: No, no! Reflect Q You too have only one life to lose.
EMILIA: And only one innocence!
ODOARDO: Which is above the reach of any violence. Q 
EMILIA: But not above the reach of any seduction. Q Violence! violence! Who
cannot defy violence? What is called violence is nothing; seduction is the
true violence. Q I have blood, father; blood as youthful and warm as
anybody's. My senses are senses. Q I can warrant nothing.I am sure of
nothing. I know Grimaldi's house. It is the house of pleasure. An hour
there, under my mother's eyes Q and there arose in my soul so much tumult
as the strictest exercises of religion could hardly quiet in weeks. Q
Religion! And what religion? Q To escape nothing worse, thousands sprang
into the water and are saints. Q Give me that dagger, father, give it to
me. . . .
EMILIA: Once indeed there was a father who. to save his daughter from
shame, drove into her heart whatever steel he could quickest find Q gave
life to her for the second time. But all such deeds are of the past! Of
such fathers there are no more.
ODOARDO: Yes, daughter, yes! (Stabs her.)]
127 [Or, "regulate," (richten ).]
128 (richten )
129 Der Kommunismus in der Schweiz, p. 24.
130 [Above ] p. 63.
131 (Cf. note 65, Chapter II.)
132 (Geistigkeit )
133 (Geistlichkeit )
134 [The last native ruler of Peru, killed by the Spanish invaders in 1533.]
135 [Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) Swiss student of physiognomy, and
the author of over 125 works published in Germany and Switzerland between
1770 and 1801; his Aphorisms on Man represents one of the small number of
his writings translated into English.]
136 Rom. 1. 25.
137 [Feuerbach's Grunds
138 (das Meinige )
139 (die Q "Meinung" )
140 Feuerbach, Principles, p. 47 ff.
141 [Franois Guizot (1787-1874), undoubtedly the dominant political figure
in France between 1840 and 1847. Oddly enough, hardly more than a decade
before the speech Stirner cites, Guizot had authored legislation which gave
the Church control of French primary education.]
142 Chamber of peers, Apr. 25, 1844.
143 Anekdota, vol. 1, p. 120.
144 Anekdota, vol. 1, p. 127.
145 (vernehmbar )
146 (Vernunft )
147 (Literally "thought-rid.")
148 (Sache )
149 (Sache )
150 [Pseudonym of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin (1804-1876). famous French
novelist, whose stories were coming out in proliferation during Stirner's
time; her works in the decade of the 1840s were deeply coloured with
contemporary socialist sentiments.]
151 [Johann Kaspar Blntschli (1808-1881), Swiss historian and
jurisconsult. The work of Bluntschli to which Stirner probably is referring
is Psychologische Studien ber Staat und Kirche  (Zurich, 1844). This
appeared, in several German editions, the sixth being translated into
English as The Theory of the State (Oxford, 1885).]
152 1 Thess. 5. 21.
153 (Andacht, a compound form of the word "thought,")
154 (See note 84, second chapter.)
155 (Einzige )
156 (eigen )
157 (geeignet )


The Unique One

Pre-Christian and Christian times pursue opposite goals; the former wants
to idealize the real, the latter to realize the ideal; the former seeks the
"holy spirit," the latter the "glorified body." Hence the former closes
with insensitiveness to the real, with "contempt for the world"; the latter
will end with the casting off of the ideal, with "contempt for the spirit."
The opposition of the real and the ideal is an irreconcilable one, and the
one can never become the other: if the ideal became the real, it would no
longer be the ideal; and, if the real became the ideal, the ideal alone
would be, but not at all the real. The opposition of the two is not to be
vanquished otherwise than if some one annihilates both. Only in this "some
one," the third party, does the opposition find its end; otherwise idea and
reality will ever fail to coincide. The idea cannot be so realized as to
remain idea, but is realized only when it dies as idea; and it is the same
with the real.
But now we have before us in the ancients adherents of the idea, in the
moderns adherents of reality. Neither can get clear of the opposition, and
both pine only, the one party for the spirit, and, when this craving of the
ancient world seemed to be satisfied and this spirit to have come, the
others immediately for the secularisation of this spirit again, which must
forever remain a "pious wish."
The pious wish of the ancients was sanctity, the pious wish of the moderns
is corporeity. But, as antiquity had to go down if its longing was to be
satisfied (for it consisted only in the longing), so too corporeity can
never be attained within the ring of Christianness. As the trait of
sanctification or purification goes through the old world (the washings,
etc.), so that of incorporation goes through the Christian world: God
plunges down into this world, becomes flesh, and wants to redeem it, that
is, fill it with himself; but, since he is "the idea" or "the spirit,"
people (Hegel, for example) in the end introduce the idea into everything,
into the world, and prove "that the idea is, that reason is, in
everything." "Man" corresponds in the culture of today to what the heathen
Stoics set up as "the wise man"; the latter, like the former, a Q fleshless
being. The unreal "wise man," this bodiless "holy one" of the Stoics,
became a real person, a bodily "Holy One," in God made flesh; the unreal
"man," the bodiless ego, will become real in the corporeal ego, in me.
There winds its way through Christianity the question about the "existence
of God," which, taken up ever and ever again, gives testimony that the
craving for existence, corporeity, personality, reality, was incessantly
busying the heart because it never found a satisfying solution. At last the
question about the existence of God fell, but only to rise up again in the
proposition that the "divine" had existence (Feuerbach). But this too has
no existence, and neither will the last refuge, that the "purely human" is
realizable, afford shelter much longer. No idea has existence, for none is
capable of corporeity. The scholastic contention of realism and nominalism
has the same content; in short, this spins itself out through all Christian
history, and cannot end in it.
The world of Christians is working at realizing ideas in the individual
relations of life, the institutions and laws of the Church and the State;
but they make resistance, and always keep back something unembodied
(unrealizable). Nevertheless this embodiment is restlessly rushed after, no
matter in what degree corporeity constantly fails to result.
For realities matter little to the realizer, but it matters everything that
they be realizations of the idea. Hence he is ever examining anew whether
the realized does in truth have the idea, its kernel, dwelling in it; and
in testing the real he at the same time tests the idea, whether it is
realizable as he thinks it, or is only thought by him incorrectly, and for
that reason unfeasibly.
The Christian is no longer to care for family, State, etc., as existences;
Christians are not to sacrifice themselves for these "divine things" like
the ancients, but these are only to be utilized to make the spirit alive in
them. The real family has become indifferent, and there is to arise out of
it an ideal one which would then be the "truly real," a sacred family,
blessed by God, or, according to the liberal way of thinking, a "rational"
family. With the ancients, family, State, fatherland, is divine as a thing
extant; with the moderns it is still awaiting divinity, as extant it is
only sinful, earthly, and has still to be "redeemed," that is, to become
truly real. This has the following meaning: The family, etc., is not the
extant and real, but the divine, the idea, is extant and real; whether this
family will make itself real by taking up the truly real, the idea, is
still unsetted. It is not the individual's task to serve the family as the
divine, but, reversely, to serve the divine and to bring to it the still
undivine family, to subject everything in the idea's name, to set up the
idea's banner everywhere, to bring the idea to real efficacy.
But, since the concern of Christianity, as of antiquity, is for the divine,
they always come out at this again on their opposite ways. At the end of
heathenism the divine becomes the extramundane, at the end of Christianity
the intramundane. Antiquity does not succeed in putting it entirely outside
the world, and, when Christianity accomplishes this task, the divine
instantly longs to get back into the world and wants to "redeem" the world.
But within Christianity it does not and cannot come to this, that the
divine as intramundane should really become the mundane itself: there is
enough left that does and must maintain itself unpenetrated as the "bad,"
irrational, accidental, "egoistic," the "mundane" in the bad sense.
Christianity begins with God's becoming man, and carries on its work of
conversion and redemption through all time in order to prepare for God a
reception in all men and in everything human, and to penetrate everything
with the spirit: it sticks to preparing a place for the "spirit."
When the accent was at last laid on Man or mankind, it was again the idea
that they "pronounced eternal." "Man does not die!" They thought they had
now found the reality of the idea: Man is the I of history, of the world's
history; it is he, this ideal, that really develops, realizes, himself. He
is the really real and corporeal one, for history is his body, in which
individuals are only members. Christ is the I of the world's history, even
of the pre-Christian; in modern apprehension it is man, the figure of
Christ has developed into the figure of man: man as such, man absolutely,
is the "central point" of history. In "man" the imaginary beginning returns
again; for "man" is as imaginary as Christ is. "Man," as the I of the
world's history, closes the cycle of Christian apprehensions.
Christianity's magic circle would be broken if the strained relation
between existence and calling, that is, between me as I am and me as I
should be, ceased; it persists only as the longing of the idea for its
bodiliness, and vanishes with the relaxing separation of the two: only when
the idea remains Q idea, as man or mankind is indeed a bodiless idea, is
Christianity still extant. The corporeal idea, the corporeal or "completed"
spirit, floats before the Christian as "the end of the days" or as the
"goal of history"; it is not present time to him.
The individual can only have a part in the founding of the Kingdom of God,
or, according to the modern notion of the same thing, in the development
and history of humanity; and only so far as he has a part in it does a
Christian, or according to the modern expression human, value pertain to
him; for the rest he is dust and a worm-bag. That the individual is of
himself a world's history, and possesses his property in the rest of the
world's history, goes beyond what is Christian. To the Christian the
world's history is the higher thing, because it is the history of Christ or
"man"; to the egoist only his history has value, because he wants to
develop only himself not the mankind-idea, not God's plan, not the purposes
of Providence, not liberty, and the like. He does not look upon himself as
a tool of the idea or a vessel of God, he recognizes no calling, he does
not fancy that he exists for the further development of mankind and that he
must contribute his mite to it, but he lives himself out, careless of how
well or ill humanity may fare thereby. If it were not open to confusion
with the idea that a state of nature is to be praised, one might recall
Lenau's Three Gypsies.1 What, am I in the world to realize ideas? To do my
part by my citizenship, say, toward the realization of the idea "State," or
by marriage, as husband and father, to bring the idea of the family into an
existence? What does such a calling concern me! I live after a calling as
little as the flower grows and gives fragrance after a calling.
The ideal "Man" is realized when the Christian apprehension turns about and
becomes the proposition, "I, this unique one, am man." The conceptual
question, "what is man?" Q has then changed into the personal question,
"who is man?" With "what" the concept was sought for, in order to realize
it; with "who" it is no longer any question at all, but the answer is
personally on hand at once in the asker: the question answers itself.
They say of God, "Names name thee not." That holds good of me: no concept
expresses me, nothing that is designated as my essence exhausts me; they
are only names. Likewise they say of God that he is perfect and has no
calling to strive after perfection. That too holds good of me alone.
I am owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique. In the
unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, of which he
is born. Every higher essence above me, be it God, be it man, weakens the
feeling of my uniqueness, and pales only before the sun of this
consciousness. If I concern myself for myself,2 the unique one, then my
concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and
I may say:
All things are nothing to me.3
1 [A story by Nicholaus Lenau, the pseudonym of Nicolaus Franz Niembsch von
Strehlenau (1802-1850). There is an immense volume of comment and criticism
pertaining to his poetry and Stories.]
2 (Stell' Ich auf Mich meine Sache. Literally, "if I set my affair on myself.")
3 ("Ich hab' Mein' Sach' auf Nichts gestellt." Literally, "I have set my
affair on nothing." See note on page 3.)

Translator's Preface

If the style of this book is found unattractive, it will show that I have
done my work ill and not represented the author truly; but, if it is found
odd, I beg that I may not bear all the blame. I have simply tried to
reproduce the author's own mixture of colloquialisms and technicalities,
and his preference for the precise expression of his thought rather than
the word conventionally expected.
One especial feature of the style, however, gives the reason why this
preface should exist. It is characteristic of Stirner's writing that the
thread of thought is carried on largely by the repetition of the same word
in a modified form or sense. That connection of ideas which has guided
popular instinct in the formation of words is made to suggest the line of
thought which the writer wishes to follow. If this echoing of words is
missed, the bearing of the statements on each other is in a measure lost;
and, where the ideas are very new, one cannot afford to throw away any help
in following their connection.Therefore, where a useful echo (and then are
few useless ones in the book) could not be reproduced in English, I have
generally called attention to it in a note. My notes are distinguished from
the author's by being enclosed in parentheses.
One or two of such coincidences of language, occurring in words which are
prominent throughout the book, should be borne constantly in mind as a sort
of Keri perpetuum; for instance, the identity in the original of the words
"spirit" and "mind," and of the phrases "supreme being" and "highest
essence." In such cases I have repeated the note where it seemed that such
repetition might be absolutely necessary, but have trusted the reader to
carry it in his head where a failure of his memory would not be ruinous or
For the same reasonQthat is, in order not to miss any indication of the
drift of the thought Q I have followed the original in the very liberal use
of italics, and in the occasional eccentric use of a punctuation mark, as I
might not have done in translating a work of a different nature.
.I have set my face as a flint against the temptation to add notes that
were not part of the translation. There is no telling how much I might have
enlarged the book if I had put a note at every sentence which deserved to
have its truth brought out by fuller elucidation Q or even at every one
which I thought needed correction. It might have been within my province,
if I had been able, to explain all the allusions to contemporary events,
but I doubt whether any one could do that properly without having access to
the files of three or four well-chosen German newspapers of Stirner's time.
The allusions are clear enough, without names and dates, to give a vivid
picture of certain aspects of German life then. The tone of some of them is
explained by the fact that the book was published under censorship.
I have usually preferred, for the sake of the connection, to translate
Biblical quotations somewhat as they stand in the German, rather than
conform them altogether to the English Bible. I am sometimes quite as near
the original Greek as if I had followed the current translation.
Where German books are referred to, the pages cited are those of the German
editions even when (usually because of some allusions in the text) the
titles of the books are translated.


Publisher+s Preface

For more than twenty years I have entertained the design of publishing an
English translation of "Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum." When I formed this
design, the number of English-speaking persons who had ever heard of the
book was very limited. The memory of Max Stirner had been virtually extinct
for an entire generation. But in the last two decades there has been a
remarkable revival of interest both in the book and in its author. It began
in this country with a discussion in the pages of the Anarchist periodical,
"Liberty," in which Stirner's thought was clearly expounded and vigorously
championed by Dr. James L. Walker, who adopted for this discussion the
pseudonym "Tak Kak." At that time Dr. Walker was the chief editorial writer
for the Galveston "News." Some years later he became a practising physician
in Mexico, where he died in 1904. A series of essays which he began in an
Anarchist periodical, "Egoism," and which he lived to complete, was
published after his death in a small volume, "The Philosophy of Egoism." It
is a very able and convincing exposition of Stirner's teachings, and almost
the only one that exists in the English language. But the chief instrument
in the revival of Stirnerism was and is the German poet, John Henry Mackay.
Very early in his career he met Stirner's name in Lange's "History of
Materialism," and was moved thereby to read his book. The work made such an
impression on him that he resolved to devote a portion of his life to the
rediscovery and rehabilitation of the lost and forgotten genius. Through
years of toil and correspondence and travel, and triumphing over tremendous
obstacles, he carried his task to completion, and his biography of Stirner
appeared in Berlin in 1898. It is a tribute to the thoroughness of Mackay's
work that since its publication not one important fact about Stirner has
been discovered by anybody. During his years of investigation Mackay's
advertising for information had created a new interest in Stirner, which
was enhanced by the sudden fame of the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, an
author whose intellectual kinship with Stirner has been a subject of much
controversy. "Der einzige," previously obtainable only in an expensive
form, was included in Philipp Reclam's Universal-Bibliothek, and this cheap
edition has enjoyed a wide and ever-increasing circulation. During the last
dozen years the book has been translated twice into French, once into
Italian, once into Russian, and possibly into other languages. The
Scandinavian critic, Brandes, has written on Stirner. A large and
appreciative volume, entitled "L'Individualisme Anarchiste: Max Stirner,"
from the pen of Prof Victor Basch, of the University of Rennes, has
appeared in Paris. Another large and sympathetic volume, "Max Stirner,"
written by Dr. Anselm Ruest, has been published very recently in Berlin.
Dr. Paul Eltzbacher, in his work, "Der Anarchismus," gives a chapter to
Stirner, making him one of the seven typical Anarchists, beginning with
William Godwin and ending with Tolstoi, of whom his book treats. There is
hardly a notable magazine or a review on the Continent that has not given
at least one leading article to the subject of Stirner. Upon the initiative
of Mackay and with the aid of other admirers a suitable stone has been
placed above the philosopher's previously neglected grave, and a memorial
tablet upon the house in Berlin where he died in 1856; and this spring
another is to be placed upon the house in Bayreuth where he was born in
1806. As a result of these various efforts, and though but little has been
written about Stirner in the English language, his name is now known at
least to thousands in America and England where formerly it was known only
to hundreds.
Therefore conditions are now more favourable for the reception of this
volume than they were when I formed the design of publishing it, more than
twenty years ago.
The problem of securing a reasonably good translation (for in the case of a
work presenting difficulties so enormous it was idle to hope for an
adequate translation) was finally solved by entrusting the task to Steven
T. Byington, a scholar of remarkable attainments, whose specialty is
philology, and who is also one of the ablest workers in the propaganda of
Anarchism. But, for further security from error, it was agreed with Mr.
Byington that his translation should have the benefit of revision by Dr.
Walker, the most thorough American student of Stirner, and by Emma Heller
Schumm and George Schumm, who are not only sympathetic with Stirner, but
familiar with the history of his time, and who enjoy a knowledge of English
and German that makes it difficult to decide which is their native tongue.
It was also agreed that, upon any point of difference between the
translator and his revisers which consultation might fail to solve, the
publisher should decide. This method has been followed, and in a
considerable number of instances it has fallen to me to make a decision. It
is only fair to say, therefore, that the responsibility for special errors
and imperfections properly rests on my shoulders, whereas, on the other
hand, the credit for whatever general excellence the translation may
possess belongs with the same propriety to Mr. Byington and his coadjutors.
One thing is certain: its defects are due to no lack of loving care and
pains. And I think I may add with confidence, while realizing fully how far
short of perfection it necessarily falls, that it may safely challenge
comparison with the translations that have been made into other languages.
In particular, I am responsible for the admittedly erroneous rendering of
the title. "The Ego and His Own " is not an exact English equivalent of
"Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum." But then, there is no exact English
equivalent. Perhaps the nearest is "The Unique One and His Property." But
the unique one is not strictly the Einzige, for uniqueness connotes not
only singleness but an admirable singleness, while Stirner's Einzigkeit is
admirable in his eyes only as such, it being no part of the purpose of his
book to distinguish a particular Einzigkeit as more excellent than another.
Moreover, "The Unique One and His Property " has no graces to compel our
forgiveness of its slight inaccuracy. It is clumsy and unattractive. And
the same objections may be urged with still greater force against all the
other renderings that have been suggested, Q "The Single One and His
Property," "The Only One and His Property," "The Lone One and His
Property," "The Unit and His Property," and, last and least and worst, "The
Individual and His Prerogative." " The Ego and His Own," on the other hand,
if not a precise rendering, is at least an excellent title in itself;
excellent by its euphony, its monosyllabic incisiveness, and its telling Q
Einzigkeit . Another strong argument in its favour is the emphatic
correspondence of the phrase "his own" with Mr. Byington's renderings of
the kindred words, Eigenheit and Eigner. Moreover, no reader will be led
astray who bears in mind Stirner's distinction: "I am not an ego along with
other egos, but the sole ego; I am unique." And, to help the reader to bear
this in mind, the various renderings of the word Einzige that occur through
the volume are often accompanied by foot-notes showing that, in the German,
one and the same word does duty for all.
If the reader finds the first quarter of this book somewhat forbidding and
obscure, he is advised nevertheless not to falter. Close attention will
master almost every difficulty, and, if he will but give it, he will find
abundant reward in what follows. For his guidance I may specify one defect
in the author's style. When controverting a view opposite to his own, he
seldom distinguishes with sufficient clearness his statement of his own
view from his re-statement of the antagonistic view. As a result, the
reader is plunged into deeper and deeper mystification, until something
suddenly reveals the cause of his misunderstanding, after which he must go
back and read again. I therefore put him on his guard. The other
difficulties lie, as a rule, in the structure of the work. As to these I
can hardly do better than translate the following passage from Prof.
Basch's book, alluded to above: "There is nothing more disconcerting than
the first approach to this strange work. Stirner does not condescend to
inform us as to the architecture of his edifice, or furnish us the
slightest guiding thread. The apparent divisions of the book are few and
misleading. From the first page to the last a unique thought circulates,
but it divides itself among an infinity of vessels and arteries in each of
which runs a blood so rich in ferments that one is tempted to describe them
all. There is no progress in the development, and the repetitions are
innumerable....The reader who is not deterred by this oddity, or rather
absence, of composition gives proof of genuine intellectual courage. At
first one seems to be confronted with a collection of essays strung
together, with a throng of aphorisms....But, if you read this book several
times; if, after having penetrated the intimacy of each of its parts, you
then traverse it as a whole, Q gradually the fragments weld themselves
together, and Stirner's thought is revealed in all its unity, in all its
force, and in all its depth."
A word about the dedication. Mackay's investigations have brought to light
that Marie D
was unworthy of the honour conferred upon her. She was no Eigene. I
therefore reproduce the dedication merely in the interest of historical
Happy as I am in the appearance of this book, my joy is not unmixed with
sorrow. The cherished project was as dear to the heart of Dr. Walker as to
mine, and I deeply grieve that he is no longer with us to share our delight
in the fruition. Nothing, however, can rob us of the masterly introduction
that he wrote for this volume (in 1903, or perhaps earlier), from which I
will not longer keep the reader. This introduction, no more than the book
itself, shall that Einzige, Death, make his Eigentum.

 February, 1907.	BENJAMIN R. TUCKER.


Fifty years sooner or later can make little difference in the; case of a
book so revolutionary as this.
It saw the light when a so-called revolutionary movement was preparing in
men's minds which agitation was, however, only a disturbance due to desires
to participate in government, and to govern and to be governed, in a manner
different to that which prevails. The "revolutionists" of 1848 were
bewitched with an idea. They were not at all the masters of ideas. Most of
those who since that time have prided themselves upon being revolutionists
have been and are likewise but the bondmen of an idea, Q that of the
different lodgment of authority.
The temptation is, of course, present to attempt an explanation of the
central thought of this work; but such an effort appears to be unnecessary
to one who has the volume in his hand. The author's care in illustrating
his meaning shows that he realized how prone the possessed man is to
misunderstand whatever is not moulded according to the fashions in
thinking. The author's learning was considerable, his command of words and
ideas may never be excelled by another, and he judged it needful to develop
his argument in manifold ways. So those who enter into the spirit of it
will scarcely hope to impress others with the same conclusion in a more
summary manner. Or, if one might deem that possible after reading Stirner,
still one cannot think that it could be done so surely. The author has made
certain work of it, even though he has to wait for his public; but still,
the reception of the book by its critics amply proves the truth of the
saying that one can give another arguments, but not understanding. The
system-makers and system-believers thus far cannot get it out of their
heads that any discourse about the nature of an ego must turn upon the
common characteristics of egos, to make a systematic scheme of what they
share as a generality. The critics inquire what kind of man the author is
talking about. They repeat the question: What does he believe in? They fail
to grasp the purport of the recorded answer: "I believe in myself"; which
is attributed to a common soldier long before the time of Stirner. They
ask, what is the principle of the self-conscious egoist, the Einzige? To
this perplexity Stirner says: Change the question; put "who?" instead of
"what?" and an answer can then be given by naming him!
This, of course, is too simple for persons governed by ideas, and for
persons in quest of new governing ideas. They wish to classify the man.
Now, that in me which you can classify is not my distinguishing self. "Man"
is the horizon or zero of my existence as an individual. Over that I rise
as I can. At least I am something more than "man in general." Pre-existing
worship of ideals and disrespect for self had made of the ego at the very
most a Somebody, oftener an empty vessel to be filled with the grace or the
leavings of a tyrannous doctrine; thus a Nobody. Stirner dispels the morbid
subjection, and recognizes each one who knows and feels himself as his own
property to be neither humble Nobody nor befogged Somebody, but henceforth
flat-footed and level-headed Mr. Thisbody, who has a character and good
pleasure of his own, just as he has a name of his own.
The critics who attacked this work and were answered in the author's minor
writings, rescued from oblivion by John Henry Mackay, nearly all display
the most astonishing triviality and impotent malice.
We owe to Dr. Eduard von Hartmann the unquestionable service which he
rendered by directing attention to this book in his "Philosophie des
Unbewu'ten," the first edition of which was published in 1869, and in other
writings. I do not begrudge Dr. von Hartmann the liberty of criticism which
he used; and I think the admirers of Stirner's teaching must quite
appreciate one thing which Von Hartmann did at a much later date. In "Der
Eigene" of August 10, 1896, there appeared a letter written by him and
giving, among other things, certain data from which to judge that, when
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote his later essays, Nietzsche was not ignorant of
Stirner's book.
Von Hartmann wishes that Stirner had gone on and developed his principle.
Von Hartmann suggests that you and I are really the same spirit, looking
out through two pairs of eyes. Then, one may reply, I need not concern
myself about you, for in myself I have Q us; and at that rate Von Hartmann
is merely accusing himself of inconsistency: for, when Stirner wrote this
book, Von Hartmann's spirit was writing it; and it is just the pity that
Von Hartmann in his present form does not indorse what he said in the form
of Stirner, Q that Stirner was different from any other man; that his ego
was not Fichte's transcendental generality, but "this transitory ego of
flesh and blood." It is not as a generality that you and I differ, but as a
couple of facts which are not to be reasoned into one. "I" is somewise
Hartmann, and thus Hartmann is "I"; but I am not Hartmann, and Hartmann is
not Q I. Neither am I the "I" of Stirner; only Stirner himself was
Stirner's "I." Note how comparatively indifferent a matter it is with
Stirner that one is an ego, but how all-important it is that one be a
self-conscious ego, Q a self-conscious, self-willed person.
Those not self-conscious and self-willed are constantly acting from
self-interested motives, but clothing these in various garbs. Watch those
people closely in the light of Stirner's teaching, and they seem to be
hypocrites, they have so many good moral and religious plans of which
self-interest is at the end and bottom; but they, we may believe, do not
know that this is more than a coincidence.
In Stirner we have the philosophical foundation for political liberty. His
interest in the practical development of egoism to the dissolution of the
State and the union of free men is clear and pronounced, and harmonizes
perfectly with the economic philosophy of Josiah Warren. Allowing for
difference of temperament and language, there is a substantial agreement
between Stirner and Proudhon. Each would be free, and sees in every
increase of the number of free people and their intelligence an auxiliary
force against the oppressor. But, on the other hand, will any one for a
moment seriously contend that Nietzsche and Proudhon march together in
general aim and tendency, Q that they have anything in common except the
daring to profane the shrine and sepulchre of superstition ?
Nietzsche has been much spoken of as a disciple of Stirner, and, owing to
favourable cullings from Nietzsche's writings, it has occurred that one of
his books has been supposed to contain more sense than it really does Q so
long as one had read only the extracts.
Nietzsche cites scores or hundreds of authors. Had he read everything, and
not read Stirner ?
But Nietzsche is as unlike Stirner as a tight-rope performance is unlike an
algebraic equation.
Stirner loved liberty for himself, and loved to see any and all men and
women taking liberty, and he had no lust of power. Democracy to him was
sham liberty, egoism the genuine liberty.
Nietzsche, on the contrary, pours out his contempt upon democracy because
it is not aristocratic. He is predatory to the point of demanding that
those who must succumb to feline rapacity shall be taught to submit with
resignation. When he speaks of "Anarchistic dogs" scouring the streets of
great civilized cities; it is true, the context shows that he means the
Communists; but his worship of Napoleon, his bathos of anxiety for the rise
of an aristocracy that shall rule Europe for thousands of years, his idea
of treating women in the oriental fashion, show that Nietzsche has struck
out in a very old path Q doing the apotheosis of tyranny. We individual
egoistic Anarchists, however, may say to the Nietzsche school, so as not to
be misunderstood: We do not ask of the Napoleons to have pity, nor of the
predatory barons to do justice. They will find it convenient for their own
welfare to make terms with men who have learned of Stirner what a man can
be who worships nothing, bears allegiance to nothing. To Nietzsche's
rhodomontade of eagles in baronial form, born to prey on industrial lambs,
we rather tauntingly oppose the ironical question: Where are your claws?
What if the "eagles" are found to be plain barn-yard fowls on which more
silly fowls have fastened steel spurs to hack the victims, who, however,
have the power to disarm the sham "eagles" between two suns?
Stirner shows that men make their tyrants as they make their gods, and his
purpose is to unmake tyrants.
Nietzsche dearly loves a tyrant.
In style Stirner's work offers the greatest possible contrast to the
puerile, padded phraseology of Nietzsche's "Zarathustra" and its false
imagery. Who ever imagined such an unnatural conjuncture as an eagle
"toting" a serpent in friendship? which performance is told of in bare
words, but nothing comes of it. In Stirner we are treated to an enlivening
and earnest discussion addressed to serious minds, and every reader feels
that the word is to him, for his instruction and benefit, so far as he has
mental independence and courage to take it and use it. The startling
intrepidity of this book is infused with a whole-hearted love for all
mankind, as evidenced by the fact that the author shows not one iota of
prejudice or any idea of division of men into ranks. He would lay aside
government, but would establish any regulation deemed convenient, and for
this only our convenience in consulted. Thus there will be general liberty
only when the disposition toward tyranny is met by intelligent opposition
that will no longer submit to such a rule. Beyond this the manly sympathy
and philosophical bent of Stirner are such that rulership appears by
contrast a vanity, an infatuation of perverted pride. We know not whether
we more admire our author or more love him.
Stirner's attitude toward woman is not special. She is an individual if she
can be, not handicapped by anything he says, feels, thinks, or plans. This
was more fully exemplified in his life than even in this book; but there is
not a line in the book to put or keep woman in an inferior position to man,
neither is there anything of caste or aristocracy in the book.
Likewise there is nothing of obscurantism or affected mysticism about it.
Everything in it is made as plain as the author could make it. He who does
not so is not Stirner's disciple nor successor nor co-worker.
Some one may ask: How does plumb-line Anarchism train with the unbridled
egoism proclaimed by Stirner? The plumb-line is not a fetish, but an
intellectual conviction, and egoism is a universal fact of animal life.
Nothing could seem clearer to my mind than that the reality of egoism must
first come into the consciousness of men, before we can have the unbiased
Einzige in place of the prejudiced biped who lends himself to the support
of tyrannies a million times stronger over me than the natural
self-interest of any individual. When plumb-line doctrine is misconceived
as duty between unequal-minded men, Q as a religion of humanity, Q it is
indeed the confusion of trying to read without knowing the alphabet and of
putting philanthropy in place of contract. But, if the plumb-line be
scientific, it is or can be my possession, my property, and I choose it for
its use Q when circumstances admit of its use. I do not feel bound to use
it because it is scientific, in building my house; but, as my will, to be
intelligent, is not to be merely wilful, the adoption of the plumb-line
follows the discarding of incantations. There is no plumb-line without the
unvarying lead at the end of the line; not a fluttering bird or a clawing
On the practical side of the question of egoism versus self-surrender and
for a trial of egoism in politics, this may be said: the belief that men
not moved by a sense of duty will be unkind or unjust to others is but an
indirect confession that those who hold that belief are greatly interested
in having others live for them rather than for themselves. But I do not ask
or expect so much. I am content if others individually live for themselves,
and thus cease in so many ways to act in opposition to my living for
myself, Q to our living for ourselves.
If Christianity has failed to turn the world from evil, it is not to be
dreamed that rationalism of a pious moral stamp will succeed in the same
task. Christianity, or all philanthropic love, is tested in non-resistance.
It is a dream that example will change the hearts of rulers, tyrants, mobs.
If the extremest self-surrender fails, how can a mixture of Christian love
and worldly caution succeed? This at least must be given up. The policy of
Christ and Tolstoi can soon be tested, but Tolstoi's belief is not
satisfied with a present test and failure. He has the infatuation of one
who persists because this ought to be. The egoist who thinks "I should like
this to be" still has the sense to perceive that it is not accomplished by
the fact of some believing and submitting, inasmuch as others are alert to
prey upon the unresisting. The Pharaohs we have ever with us.
Several passages in this most remarkable book show the author as a man full
of sympathy. When we reflect upon his deliberately expressed opinions and
sentiments, Q his spurning of the sense of moral obligation as the last
form of superstition, Q may we not be warranted in thinking that the total
disappearance of the sentimental supposition of duty liberates a quantity
of nervous energy for the purest generosity and clarifies the intellect for
the more discriminating choice of objects of merit? 
					J. L. WALKER.


The book "The Ego and His Own" was published in Leipzig in the year 1845 -
a book that got no small attention by its rebellious daringness. It has in
our days been brought up and examined anew as a precedent to present
individualist or anarchist teaching, and has now also found a Danish
admirer and translator.
The author called himself Max Stirner, but his real name was Johann Kaspar
Schmidt. He was born in Bayreuth in 1806, and lived as a poor teacher, a
job he had to give up as a consequence of the publishing of his book. For
some time he tempted a life as an author and a translator. He died a
forgotten man in Berlin in 1856.
Followers of Friedrich Nietzsche have returned to Max Stirner driven by the
widespread urge to find an ancestor, and modern anarchism lays claim to
him, as he has influenced one of their most important men, Bakunin.
Max Stirner descends in a straight line from the Nominalists of the early
Middles Ages that about 800 years before his time already claimed that
universals like those he fights by the name of ghosts ("Man" and "Mankind"
in particular), had no reality of their own, but were mere words and names.
Their fight continued through all of the 14th and 15th century, and they
suffered persecution for their convictions, as later did Stirner.
Stirner seems to have been moved into action by the publishing of Ludwig
Feuerbach's "The Essence of Christianity" (1841), a book seen as the last
word in progressive thought at the time. In this book the most radical
conclusions of the day were drawn. The book turned theology upside-down in
that it claimed that the truth was revealed by substituting "Love is
divine, goodness is divine" for "God[The divine] is love, God is good," and
praising everything human; Man was holy, friendship and marriage were holy.
It appeared to Max Stirner that by this turning upside-down of theology,
the basic outlook of theology was preserved, and he rebelled rightly
against it. As far as he as spirit and writer might have been inferior to
Feuerbach in style, he was nevertheless as an improvement upon him as a
thinker that went beyond him.
In that religion of Humanity, that Feuerbach had left standing, Self-denial
was hardly less praised than in Christianity. Self-love was seen as the
Unhuman, and was to be sacrificed. With a passion, that might have received
its nourishment through the study of Helvtius, and that precedes
Nietzsche, Max Stirner fights against the religiously influenced view of
self-love as the Evil Principle. To him the unique Self is the only real
Self, and thus the only source of power and right. Man, the People, the
Church, the State, these secretive moral or political persons, are lost
personalities, asses in the lion hide of the Self, that Stirner pulls down
over their ears. That I love myself, does in his opponents' view imply that
I care only only for the sensual Self, whereas he claims that my Self is
not exhausted by my sensuality. He demonstrates on what superstition the
commandment of self-denial can rest, and portrays emphatically the victims
of unnatural abstinence.
In the talk of his opponents he finds a hidden, unconfessed Self-love. He
himself openly endorses Self-love as a principle, and shows how I assure my
freedom only through using what surrounds me in my own best interest. Like
all thinkers of this creed he claims that any sacrifice that I bring to my
friend or to my lover, I do not bring for their sake alone, but for my own
sake, as I cannot stand seeing them suffering or wanting. But nobody has a
claim to my love - and love is no commandment, but a free service, through
which the I relates to itself.
The philosophy of Egoism is (just like Pessimism) is a conceptual attempt -
the attempt to see whether we can attain illumination of being by the
unique Self. It is worth noticing that by Stirner, just as by the
speculative philosophers, the Self never occurs as a result, a product, but
always as the ever-new starting-point, unexplained. But it is instructive
to follow him, when he rightly shows that neither does the discoverer
follow his discovery, nor does the author follow his fundamental idea of
love of Humanity, but do it solely to express themselves, just as the bird
sings because it is a - songbird. One need not, he says, look at the
welfare of humanity in order not to lie and deceive, but might perfectly
well refrain from it for purely selfish reasons.
When he establishes the principle of Self-love as the one true and blessed,
and on purpose uses the offensive expression that we see each other as
objects, he probably means that nobody gives money or good-will to that for
which he has no use. The North Americans ask themselves, "Do we require a
king?" and answer, "Not a farthing are he and his work worth to us." And
when he states that the egoist does not expect his possession by hand-outs,
but conquers what is in his might, in that all that he can appropriate is
his property - he does not conceive the word as raw and pertaining to
superficial things. "What a competence2", he says, " does not the child
possess in its smiling, its playing, its screaming! in short, in its mere
existence! Are you capable of resisting its desire?"
It is characteristic that the most perfect example of that self-love and
self-assertiveness that he praises, he finds in Jesus, who in his opinion
was not (like Julius Caesar) a mere revolutionary turning over the State
only to make room for a new one, but was an insurgent, who lifted himself
above everything that seemed sublime to the government and its opponents,
and absolved himself from everything that they remained bound to. In
particular Stirner glorifies Jesus that he did not waste his power on
turning over the established, but rather immured it, as he walled it in,
confidently and recklessly carrying up the building of his temple over it,
without heeding the pains of the immured. He then of course suggests that
the Christian world order will see the same fate as once did the heathen
Self-will, as he portrays it, is by its being the corruption of the State.
What his contemporaries desired by the name of political freedom, was
bondage to the State and its laws. None should, according to their opinion,
ridicule what was sacred to others. Extramarital sex was seen as "immoral".
When only an impersonal ruler came in place of the personal arbitrariness,
they were satisfied, and they desired "Freedom", a so-called free
constitution, as a bestowal from the Powers that be. Stirner vigorously
attacks them: You long for freedom? You fools! If you took might, freedom
would come of itself; I can have only so much freedom as I procure for
myself; It is not given to me, and I let myself be robbed! And he mocks
those who believe freedom can be bestowed, just like those who believe that
right has no other base than might. The tiger that assails me is in the
right, and I who strike him down am also in the right.
To him, as later also to Henrik Ibsen and Nietzsche, the State is the curse
of the individual. The State is a ruler just as the church was, and builds
its case on "morality" just as the church built its case on "piety". The
State does from the first moment on apply the scissors of State culture
against the individual, and any creative work against the state is
punishable. The freer the people as such is said to be, the stronger the
bonds of the individual to State, Society and Party. But popular freedom
was at that time a mere ideal, and Stirner's well of mockery of the
contemporary political opposition in Germany never goes dry - the
law-abiding and loyal opposition that hold even the most wretched laws in
high esteem as laws, and found whoever tried to evade censorship to be
immoral. Against the socialist opponents of the State he affirms that as
Society is capable only of organizing work for the common good, he who
produces something unique cannot become an object of its care, but will
rather be seen as a disturbing element. He draws his parallels all the way
back to Antiquity. The Athenians were not Socrates' judges, but his
In the year 1843 the German empire celebrated its thousandth anniversary.
Stirner must have started working on his book already then. For as he
states in it: "Listen, even as I am writing this, the bells begin to sound,
that they may jingle in for tomorrow the festival of the thousand years'
existence of our dear Germany. Sound, sound its knell! You do sound solemn
enough, as if your tongue was moved by the presentiment that it is giving
convoy to a corpse. . . . The people is dead. Q Up with me ! . . . Tomorrow
they carry thee to the grave; soon thy sisters, the peoples, will follow
thee. But, when they have all followed, then QQ mankind is buried, and I am
my own, I am the laughing heir!"
That close a victory the first German anarchist envisioned for his ideas.
Little did he know that 60 years later, Germany would entertain the idea of
the State to an unprecedented degree.
To the question what will happen when the great revolution that he is
awaiting, comes, he is at loss for an answer with the phrase that one might
just as well expect him to do the horoscope of a child. The only
suggestions to be seen, is that he envisions the State society replaced by
a free union, in which I sacrifice a part of my freedom, not for the sake
of others, but for myself.
Stirner's form and course of action as a thinker have been outdated; but
his work abounds with thoughts that belonged to the future, some of which
are already realized, and some whose realization seem close at hand.
One will naturally encounter a lot that will seem unreasonable and pushed
to an extreme, and also some clear cases of a dream of the past. But all
the more frequently the modern reader will run into Stirner's clairvoyance.


1 So James J. Martin (see his foreword) was right: There was a Scandinavian
edition. This preface by Brandes has been translated into English by Svein
Olav Nyberg.
2 Also "possession". or "power".


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