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To see in you and me nothing further than "men," that is running the Christian way of looking at things, according to which one is for the other nothing but a concept (e. g. a man called to salvation, etc.), into the ground.
Christianity properly so called gathers us under a less utterly general concept: there we are "sons of God" and "led by the Spirit of God."* Yet not all can boast of being God's sons, but "the same Spirit which witnesses to our spirit that we are sons of God reveals also who are the sons of the devil."** Consequently, to be a son of God one must not be a son of the devil; the sonship of God excluded certain men. To be sons of men -- i. e., men -- on the contrary, we need nothing but to belong to the human species, need only to be specimens of the same species. What I am as this I is no concern of yours as a good liberal, but is my private affair alone; enough that we are both sons of one and the same mother, to wit, the human species: as "a son of man" I am your equal.
What am I now to you? Perhaps this bodily I as I walk and stand? Anything but that. This bodily I, with its thoughts, decisions, and passions, is in your eyes a "private affair" which is no concern of yours: it is an "affair by itself." As an "affair for you" there exists only my concept, my generic concept, only the Man, who, as he is called Tom, could just as well be Joe or Dick. You see in me not me, the bodily man, but an unreal thing, the spook, i.e. a Man.
In the course of the Christian centuries we declared
*Rom 8. 14.
**Cf. John 3. 10. with Rom. 8. 16.
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the most various persons to be "our equals," but each time in the measure of that spirit which we expected from them -- e. g. each one in whom the spirit of the need of redemption may be assumed, then later each one who has the spirit of integrity, finally each one who shows a human spirit and a human face. Thus the fundamental principle of "equality" varied.
Equality being now conceived as equality of the human spirit, there has certainly been discovered an equality that includes all men; for who could deny that we men have a human spirit, i. e., no other than a human!
But are we on that account further on now than in the beginning of Christianity? Then we were to have a divine spirit, now a human; but, if the divine did not exhaust us, how should the human wholly express what we are? Feuerbach e. g. thinks, that if he humanizes the divine, he has found the truth. No, if God has given us pain, "Man" is capable of pinching us still more torturingly. The long and the short of it is this: that we are men is the slightest thing about us, and has significance only in so far as it is one of our qualities,* i. e. our property.** I am indeed among other things a man, as I am e. g. a living being, therefore an animal, or a European, a Berliner, etc.; but he who chose to have regard for me only as a man, or as a Berliner, would pay me a regard that would be very unimportant to me. And wherefore? Because he would have regard only for one of my qualities, not for me.
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It is just so with the spirit too. A Christian spirit, an upright spirit, etc. may well be my acquired quality, my property, but I am not this spirit: it is mine, not I its.
Hence we have in liberalism only the continuation of the old Christian depreciation of the I, the bodily Tom. Instead of taking me as I am, one looks solely at my property, my qualities, and enters into marriage bonds with me only for the sake of my -- possessions; one marries, as it were, what I have, not what I am. The Christian takes hold of my spirit, the liberal of my humanity.
But, if the spirit, which is not regarded as the property of the bodily ego but as the proper ego itself, is a ghost, then the Man too, who is not recognized as my quality but as the proper I, is nothing but a spook, a thought, a concept.
Therefore the liberal too revolves in the same circle as the Christian. Because the spirit of mankind, i.e. Man, dwells in you, you are a man, as when the spirit of Christ dwells in you are a Christian; but, because it dwells in you only as a second ego, even though it be as your proper or "better" ego, it remains otherworldly to you, and you have to strive to become wholly man. A striving just as fruitless as the Christian's to become wholly a blessed spirit!
One can now, after liberalism has proclaimed Man, declare openly that herewith was only completed the consistent carrying out of Christianity, and that in truth Christianity set itself no other task from the start than to realize "man," the "true man." Hence, then, the illusion that Christianity ascribes an infinite value
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to the ego (as e. g. in the doctrine of immortality, in the cure of souls, etc.) comes to light. No, it assigns this value to Man alone. Only 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 harborer of Man do I not die, as notoriously "the king never dies." Louis dies, but the king remains; I die, but my spirit, Man, remains. To identify me now entirely with Man the demand has been invented, and stated, that I must become a "real generic being."*
The HUMAN religion is only the last metamorphosis of the Christian religion. For liberalism is a religion because it separates my essence from me and sets it above me, because it exalts "Man" to the same extent as any other religion does its God or idol, because it makes what is mine into something otherworldly, because in general it makes out of what is mine, out of my qualities and my property, something alien -- to wit, an "essence"; in short, because it sets me beneath Man, and thereby creates for me a "vocation." But liberalism declares itself a religion in form too when it demands for this supreme being, Man, a zeal of faith, "a faith that some day will at last prove its fiery zeal too, a zeal that will be invincible."** But, as liberalism is a human religion, its professor takes a tolerant attitude toward the professor of any other
*Karl Marx, in the "Deutsch-französische
Jahrbucher," p. 197.
**Br. Bauer, "Judenfrage,", p. 61.
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(Catholic, Jewish, etc.), as Frederick the Great did toward every one who performed his duties as a subject, whatever fashion of becoming blest he might be inclined toward. This religion is now to be raised to the rank of the generally customary one, and separated from the others as mere "private follies," toward which, besides, one takes a highly liberal attitude on account of their unessentialness.
One may call it the State-religion, the religion of the "free State," not in the sense hitherto current that it is the one favored or privileged by the State, but as that religion which the "free State" not only has the right, but is compelled, to demand from each of those who belong to it, let him be privatim a Jew, a Christian, or anything else. For it does the same service to the State as filial piety to the family. If the family is to be recognized and maintained, in its existing condition, by each one of those who belong to it, then to him the tie of blood must be sacred, and his feeling for it must be that of piety, of respect for the ties of blood, by which every blood-relation becomes to him a consecrated person. So also to every member of the State-community this community must be sacred, and the concept which is the highest to the State must likewise be the highest to him.
But what concept is the highest to the State? Doubtless that of being a really human society, a society in which every one who is really a man, i. e., not an un-man, can obtain admission as a member. Let a State's tolerance go ever so far, toward an un-man and toward what is inhuman it ceases. And yet this "un-man" is a man, yet the "inhuman" itself is
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something human, yes, possible only to a man, not to any beast; it is, in fact, something "possible to man." But, although every un-man is a man, yet the State excludes him; i.e. it locks him up, or transforms him from a fellow of the State into a fellow of the prison (fellow of the lunatic asylum or hospital, according to Communism).
To say in blunt words what an un-man is not particularly hard: it is a man who does not correspond to the concept man, as the inhuman is something human which is not conformed to the concept of the human. Logic calls this a "self-contradictory judgment." Would it be permissible for one to pronounce this judgment, that one can be a man without being a man, if he did not admit the hypothesis that the concept of man can be separated from the existence, the essence from the appearance? They say, he appears indeed as a man, but is not a man.
Men have passed this "self-contradictory judgment" through a long line of centuries! Nay, what is still more, in this long time there were only -- un-men. What individual can have corresponded to his concept? Christianity knows only one Man, and this one -- Christ -- is at once an un-man again in the reverse sense, to wit, a superhuman man, a "God." Only the -- un-man is a real man.
Men that are not men, what should they be but ghosts? Every real man, because he does not correspond to the concept "man," or because he is not a "generic man," is a spook. But do I still remain an un-man even if I bring Man (who towered above me and remained otherworldly to me only as my
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ideal, my task, my essence or concept) down to be my quality, my own and inherent in me; so that Man is nothing else than my humanity, my human existence, and everything that I do is human precisely because I do it, but not because it corresponds to the concept "man"? I am really Man and the un-man in one; for I am a man and at the same time more than a man; i.e. I am the ego of this my mere quality.
It had to come to this at last, that it was no longer merely demanded of us to be Christians, but to become men; for, though we could never really become even Christians, but always remained "poor sinners" (for the Christian was an unattainable ideal too), yet in this the contradictoriness did not come before our consciousness so, and the illusion was easier than now when of us, who are men act humanly (yes, cannot do otherwise than be such and act so), the demand is made that we are to be men, "real men."
Our States of today, because they still have all sorts of things sticking to them, left from their churchly mother, do indeed load those who belong to them with various obligations (e. g. churchly religiousness) which properly do not a bit concern them, the States; yet on the whole they do not deny their significance, since they want to be looked upon as human societies, in which man as man can be a member, even if he is less privileged than other members; most of them admit adherence of every religious sect, and receive people without distinction of race or nation: Jews, Turks, Moors, etc., can become French citizens. In the act of reception, therefore, the State looks only to see whether one is a man. The Church, as a society of
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believers, could not receive every man into her bosom; the State, as a society of men, can. But, when the State has carried its principle clear through, of presupposing in its constituents nothing but that they are men (even the North Americans still presuppose in theirs that they have religion, at least the religion of integrity, of responsibility), then it has dug its grave. While it will fancy that those whom it possesses are without exception men, these have meanwhile become without exception egoists, each of whom utilizes it according to his egoistic powers and ends. Against the egoists "human society" is wrecked; for they no longer have to do with each other as men, but appear egoistically as an I against a You altogether different from me and in opposition to me.
If the State must count on our humanity, it is the same if one says it must count on our morality. Seeing Man in each other, and acting as men toward each other, is called moral behavior. This is every whit the "spiritual love" of Christianity. For, if I see Man in you, as in myself I see Man and nothing but Man, then I care for you as I would care for myself; for we represent, you see, nothing but the mathematical proposition: A = C and B = C, consequently A = B -- i.e. I nothing but man and you nothing but man, consequently I and you the same. Morality is incompatible with egoism, because the former does not allow validity to me, but only to the Man in me. But, if the State is a society of men, not a union of egos each of whom has only himself before his eyes, then it cannot last without morality, and must insist on morality.
Therefore we two, the State and I, are enemies. I,
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the egoist, have not at heart the welfare of this "human society," I sacrifice nothing to it, I only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform it rather into my property and my creature; i. e., I annihilate it, and form in its place the Union of Egoists.
So the State betrays its enmity to me by demanding that I be a man, which presupposes that I may also not be a man, but rank for it as an "un- man"; it imposes being a man upon me as a duty. Further, it desires me to do nothing along with which it cannot last; so its permanence is to be sacred for me. Then I am not to be an egoist, but a "respectable, upright," i.e. moral, man. Enough: before it and its permanence I am to be impotent and respectful.
This State, not a present one indeed, but still in need of being first created, is the ideal of advancing liberalism. There is to come into existence a true "society of men," in which every "man" finds room. Liberalism means to realize "Man," i.e. create a world for him; and this should be the human world or the general (Communistic) society of men. It was said, "The Church could regard only the spirit, the State is to regard the whole man."* But is not "Man" "spirit"? The kernel of the State is simply "Man," this unreality, and it itself is only a "society of men." The world which the believer (believing spirit) creates is called Church, the world which the man (human or humane spirit) creates is called State. But that is not my world. I never execute anything human in the
*Hess, "Triarchie," p. 76.
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abstract, but always my own things; my human act is diverse from every other human act, and only by this diversity is it a real act belonging to me. The human in it is an abstraction, and, as such, spirit, i.e. abstracted essence.
Bruno Bauer states (e. g. Judenfrage, p. 84) that the truth of criticism is the final truth, and in fact the truth sought for by Christianity itself --to wit, "Man." He says, "The history of the Christian world is the history of the supreme fight for truth, for in it -- and in it only! -- the thing at issue is the discovery of the final or the primal truth -- man and freedom."
All right, let us accept this gain, and let us take man as the ultimately found result of Christian history and of the religious or ideal efforts of man in general. Now, who is Man? I am! Man, the end and outcome of Christianity, is, as I, the beginning and raw material of the new history, a history of enjoyment after the history of sacrifices, a history not of man or humanity, but of -- me. Man ranks as the general. Now then, I and the egoistic are the really general, since every one is an egoist and of paramount importance to himself. The Jewish is not the purely egoistic, because the Jew still devotes himself to Jehovah; the Christian is not, because the Christian lives on the grace of God and subjects himself to him. As Jew and as Christian alike a man satisfies only certain of his wants, only a certain need, not himself: a half-egoism, because the egoism of a half-man, who is half he, half Jew, or half his own proprietor, half a slave. Therefore, too, Jew and Christian always half-way exclude each other; i.e. as men they recognize
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each other, as slaves they exclude each other, because they are servants of two different masters. If they could be complete egoists, they would exclude each other wholly and hold together so much the more firmly. Their ignominy is not that they exclude each other, but that this is done only half-way. Bruno Bauer, on the contrary, thinks Jews and Christians cannot regard and treat each other as "men" till they give up the separate essence which parts them and obligates them to eternal separation, recognize the general essence of "Man," and regard this as their "true essence."
According to his representation the defect of the Jews and the Christians alike lies in their wanting to be and have something "particular" instead of only being men and endeavoring after what is human -- to wit, the "general rights of man." He thinks their fundamental error consists in the belief that they are "privileged," possess "prerogatives"; in general, in the belief in prerogative .* In opposition to this he holds up to them the general rights of man. The rights of man! --
Man is man in general, and in so far every one who is a man. Now every one is to have the eternal rights of man, and, according to the opinion of Communism, enjoy them in the complete "democracy," or, as it ought more correctly to be called -- anthropocracy. But it is I alone who have everything that I -- procure for myself; as man I have nothing. People would like to give every man an affluence of all good, merely
*[Vorrecht, literally "precedent right."]
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because he has the title "man." But I put the accent on me, not on my being man.
Man is something only as my quality* (property**), like masculinity or femininity. The ancients found the ideal in one's being male in the full sense; their virtue is virtus and arete -- i.e. manliness. What is one to think of a woman who should want only to be perfectly "woman?" That is not given to all, and many a one would therein be fixing for herself an unattainable goal. Feminine, on the other hand, she is anyhow, by nature; femininity is her quality, and she does not need "true femininity." I am a man just as the earth is a star. As ridiculous as it would be to set the earth the task of being a "thorough star," so ridiculous it is to burden me with the call to be a "thorough man."
When Fichte says, "The ego is all," this seems to harmonize perfectly with my thesis. But it is not that the ego is all, but the ego destroys all, and only the self-dissolving ego, the never-being ego, the -- finite ego is really I. Fichte speaks of the "absolute" ego, but I speak of me, the transitory ego.
How natural is the supposition that man and ego mean the same! And yet one sees, e. g., by Feuerbach, that the expression "man" is to designate the absolute ego, the species, not the transitory, individual ego. Egoism and humanity (humaneness) ought to mean the same, but according to Feuerbach the individual can "only lift himself above the limits of his individuality, but not above the laws, the positive ordinances,
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of his species."* But the species is nothing, and, if the individual lifts himself above the limits of his individuality, this is rather his very self as an individual; he exists only in raising himself, he exists only in not remaining what he is; otherwise he would be done, dead. Man with the great M is only an ideal, the species only something thought of. To be a man is not to realize the ideal of Man, but to present oneself, the individual. It is not how I realize the generally human that needs to be my task, but how I satisfy myself. I am my species, am without norm, without law, without model, etc. It is possible that I can make very little out of myself; but this little is everything, and is better than what I allow to be made out of me by the might of others, by the training of custom, religion, the laws, the State. Better -- if the talk is to be of better at all -- better an unmannerly child than an old head on young shoulders, better a mulish man than a man compliant in everything. The unmannerly and mulish fellow is still on the way to form himself according to his own will; the prematurely knowing and compliant one is determined by the "species," the general demands -- the species is law to him. He is determined** by it; for what else is the species to him but his "destiny,"*** his "calling"? Whether I look to "humanity," the species, in order to strive toward this ideal, or to God and Christ with like endeavor, where is the essential dissimilarity? At most the former is
*"Essence of Christianity," 2nd ed., p.
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more washed-out than the latter. As the individual is the whole of nature, so he is the whole of the species too.
Everything that I do, think -- in short, my expression or manifestation -- is indeed conditioned by what I am. The Jew
e. g. can will only thus or thus, can "present himself" only thus; the Christian can present and manifest himself only Christianly, etc. If it were possible that you could be a Jew or Christian, you would indeed bring out only what was Jewish or Christian; but it is not possible; in the most rigorous conduct you yet remain an egoist, a sinner against that concept -- i.e., you are not the precise equivalent of Jew. Now, because the egoistic always keeps peeping through, people have inquired for a more perfect concept which should really wholly express what you are, and which, because it is your true nature, should contain all the laws of your activity. The most perfect thing of the kind has been attained in "Man." As a Jew you are too little, and the Jewish is not your task; to be a Greek, a German, does not suffice. But be a -- man, then you have everything; look upon the human as your calling.
Now I know what is expected of me, and the new catechism can be written. The subject is again subjected to the predicate, the individual to something general; the dominion is again secured to an idea, and the foundation laid for a new religion. This is a step forward in the domain of religion, and in particular of Christianity; not a step out beyond it.
To step out beyond it leads into the unspeakable. For me paltry language has no word, and "the
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Word," the Logos, is to me a "mere word."
My essence is sought for. If not the Jew, the German, etc., then at any rate it is -- the man. "Man is my essence."
I am repulsive or repugnant to myself; I have a horror and loathing of myself, I am a horror to myself, or, I am never enough for myself and never do enough to satisfy myself. From such feelings springs self-dissolution or self-criticism. Religiousness begins with self-renunciation, ends with completed criticism.
I am possessed, and want to get rid of the "evil spirit." How do I set about it? I fearlessly commit the sin that seems to the Christian the most dire, the sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "He who blasphemes the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is liable to the eternal judgment!"* I want no forgiveness, and am not afraid of the judgment.
Man is the last evil spirit or spook, the most deceptive or most intimate, the craftiest liar with honest mien, the father of lies.
The egoist, turning against the demands and concepts of the present, executes pitilessly the most measureless -- desecration. Nothing is holy to him!
It would be foolish to assert that there is no power above mine. Only the attitude that I take toward it will be quite another than that of the religious age: I shall be the enemy of -- every higher power, while religion teaches us to make it our friend and be humble toward it.
The desecrator puts forth his strength against every
*Mark 3. 29.
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fear of God, for fear of God would determine him in everything that he left standing as sacred. Whether it is the God or the Man that exercises the hallowing power in the God-man -- whether, therefore, anything is held sacred for God's sake or for Man's (Humanity's) -- this does not change the fear of God, since Man is revered as "supreme essence," as much as on the specifically religious standpoint God as "supreme essence" calls for our fear and reverence; both overawe us.
The fear of God in the proper sense was shaken long ago, and a more or less conscious "atheism," externally recognizable by a wide-spread "unchurchliness," has involuntarily become the mode. But what was taken from God has been superadded to Man, and the power of humanity grew greater in just the degree that of piety lost weight: "Man" is the God of today, and fear of Man has taken the place of the old fear of God.
But, because Man represents only another Supreme Being, nothing in fact has taken place but a metamorphosis in the Supreme Being, and the fear of Man is merely an altered form of the fear of God.
Our atheists are pious people.
If in the so-called feudal times we held everything as a fief from God, in the liberal period the same feudal relation exists with Man. God was the Lord, now Man is the Lord; God was the Mediator, now Man is; God was the Spirit, now Man is. In this three fold regard the feudal relation has experienced a transformation. For now, firstly, we hold as a fief from all-powerful Man our power, which, because it
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comes from a higher, is not called power or might, but "right" -- the "rights of man"; we further hold as a fief from him our position in the world, for he, the mediator, mediates our intercourse with others, which therefore may not be otherwise than "human"; finally, we hold as a fief from him ourselves -- to wit, our own value, or all that we are worth -- inasmuch as we are worth nothing when he does not dwell in us, and when or where we are not "human." The power is Man's, the world is Man's, I am Man's.
But am I not still unrestrained from declaring myself the entitler, the mediator, and the own self? Then it runs thus:
My power is my property.
My power gives me property.
My power am I myself, and through it am I my property.
Right* is the spirit of society.
If society has a will this will is simply right: society
exists only through right. But, as it endures only exercising
a sovereignty over individuals, right is its SOVEREIGN
WILL. Aristotle says justice is the advantage of society.
All existing right is -- foreign law; some one makes me out to be in the right, "does right by me." But should I therefore be in the right if all the world made me out so? And yet what else is the right that I obtain in the State, in society, but a right of those
*[This word has also, in German, the meaning of "common law," and will sometimes be translated "law" in the following paragraphs.]
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foreign to me? When a blockhead makes me out in the right, I grow distrustful of my rightness; I don't like to receive it from him. But, even when a wise man makes me out in the right, I nevertheless am not in the right on that account. Whether I am in the right is completely independent of the fool's making out and of the wise man's.
All the same, we have coveted this right till now. We seek for right, and turn to the court for that purpose. To what? To a royal, a papal, a popular court, etc. Can a sultanic court declare another right than that which the sultan has ordained to be right? Can it make me out in the right if I seek for a right that does not agree with the sultan's law? Can it, e. g., concede to me high treason as a right, since it is assuredly not a right according to the sultan's mind? Can it as a court of censorship allow me the free utterance of opinion as a right, since the sultan will hear nothing of this my right? What am I seeking for in this court, then? I am seeking for sultanic right, not my right; I am seeking for -- foreign right. As long as this foreign right harmonizes with mine, to be sure, I shall find in it the latter too.
The State does not permit pitching into each other man to man; it opposes the duel. Even every ordinary appeal to blows, notwithstanding that neither of the fighters calls the police to it, is punished; except when it is not an I whacking away at a you, but, say, the head of a family at the child. The family is entitled to this, and in its name the father; I as Ego am not.
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The Vossische Zeitung presents to us the "commonwealth of right." There everything is to be decided by the judge and a court. It ranks the supreme court of censorship as a "court" where "right is declared." What sort of a right? The right of the censorship. To recognize the sentences of that court as right one must regard the censorship as right. But it is thought nevertheless that this court offers a protection. Yes, protection against an individual censor's error: it protects only the censorship-legislator against false interpretation of his will, at the same time making his statute, by the "sacred power of right," all the firmer against writers.
Whether I am in the right or not there is no judge but myself. Others can judge only whether they endorse my right, and whether it exists as right for them too.
In the meantime let us take the matter yet another way. I am to reverence sultanic law in the sultanate, popular law in republics, canon law in Catholic communities. To these laws I am to subordinate myself; I am to regard them as sacred. A "sense of right" and "law-abiding mind" of such a sort is so firmly planted in people's heads that the most revolutionary persons of our days want to subject us to a new "sacred law," the "law of society," the law of mankind, the "right of all," and the like. The right of "all" is to go before my right. As a right of all it would indeed be my right among the rest, since I, with the rest, am included in all; but that it is at the same time a right of others, or even of all others, does not move me to its upholding. Not as a
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right of all will I defend it, but as my right; and then every other may see to it how he shall likewise maintain it for himself. The right of all (e. g., to eat) is a right of every individual. Let each keep this right unabridged for himself, then all exercise it spontaneously; let him not take care for all though -- let him not grow zealous for it as for a right of all.
But the social reformers preach to us a "law of society". There the individual becomes society's slave, and is in the right only when society makes him out in the right, i.e. when he lives according to society's statutes and so is -- loyal. Whether I am loyal under a despotism or in a "society" à la Weitling, it is the same absence of right in so far as in both cases I have not my right but foreign right.
In consideration of right the question is always asked, "What or who gives me the right to it?" Answer: God, love, reason, nature, humanity, etc. No, only your might, your power gives you the right (your reason, e. g.,, may give it to you).
Communism, which assumes that men "have equal rights by nature," contradicts its own proposition till it comes to this, that men have no right at all by nature. For it is not willing to recognize, e. g., that parents have "by nature" rights as against their children, or the children as against the parents: it abolishes the family. Nature gives parents, brothers, etc., no right at all. Altogether, this entire revolutionary or Babouvist principle* rests on a religious, i. e., false, view of things. Who can ask after "right"
*Cf. "Die Kommunisten in der Schweiz," committee report, p. 3.
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if he does not occupy the religious standpoint himself? Is not "right" a religious concept, i.e. something sacred? Why, "equality of rights", as the Revolution propounded it, is only another name for "Christian equality," the "equality of the brethren," "of God's children," "of Christians"; in short, fraternité. Each and every inquiry after right deserves to be lashed with Schiller's words:
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* 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
*[Rechtsstreit, a word which usually means "lawsuit."]
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not more powerful. Have Chinese subjects a right to freedom? Just bestow it on them, and then look how far you have gone wrong in your attempt: because they do not know how to use freedom they have no right to it, or, in clearer terms, because they have not freedom they have not the right to it. Children have no right to the condition of majority because they are not of age, i.e. because they are children. Peoples that let themselves be kept in nonage have no rights to the condition of majority; if they ceased to be in nonage, then only would they have the right to be of age. This means nothing else than "What you have the power to be you have the right to." I derive all right and all warrant from me ; I am entitled to everything that I have in my power. I am entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, God, etc., if I can ; if I cannot, then these gods will always remain in the right and in power as against me, and what I do will be to fear their right and their power in impotent "god-fearingness," to keep their commandments and believe that I do right in everything that I do according to their right, about as the Russian boundary-sentinels think themselves rightfully entitled to shoot dead the suspicious persons who are escaping, since they murder "by superior authority," i.e. "with right." But I am entitled by myself to murder if I myself do not forbid it to myself, if I myself do not fear murder as a "wrong." This view of things lies at the foundation of Chamisso's poem, "The Valley of Murder," where the gray-haired Indian murderer compels reverence from the white man whose brethren he has murdered. The only thing I am not entitled to is what I do not
248 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
do with a free cheer, i. e. what I do not entitle myself to.
I decide whether it is the right thing in me; there is no right outside me. If it is right for me,* it is right. Possibly this may not suffice to make it right for the rest; i. e., their care, not mine: let them defend themselves. And if for the whole world something were not right, but it were right for me, i. e., I wanted it, then I would ask nothing about the whole world. So every one does who knows how to value himself, every one in the degree that he is an egoist; for might goes before right, and that -- with perfect right.
Because I am "by nature" a man I have an equal right to the enjoyment of all goods, says Babeuf. Must he not also say: because I am "by nature" a first-born prince I have a right to the throne? The rights of man and the "well-earned rights" come to the same thing in the end, i.e. to nature, which gives me a right, i. e. to birth (and, further, inheritance, etc.). "I am born as a man" is equal to "I am born as a king's son." The natural man has only a natural right (because he has only a natural power) and natural claims: he has right of birth and claims of birth. But nature cannot entitle me, i.e. give me capacity or might, to that to which only my act entitles me. That the king's child sets himself above other children, even this is his act, which secures to him the precedence; and that the other children approve and recognize this act is their act, which makes
*[A common German phrase for "it suits me."]
THE OWNER 249
them worthy to be -- subjects.
Whether nature gives me a right, or whether God, the people's choice, etc., does so, all of i. e., the same foreign right, a right that I do not give or take to myself.
Thus the Communists say, equal labor entitles man to equal enjoyment. Formerly the question was raised whether the "virtuous" man must not be "happy" on earth. The Jews actually drew this inference: "That it may go well with thee on earth." No, equal labor does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have labored and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then -- "it serves you right."
If you take the enjoyment, it is your right; if, on the contrary, you only pine for it without laying hands on it, it remains as before, a, "well-earned right" of those who are privileged for enjoyment. It is their right, as by laying hands on it would become your right.
The conflict over the "right of property" wavers in vehement commotion. The Communists affirm* that "the earth belongs rightfully to him who tills it, and its products to those who bring them out." I think it belongs to him who knows how to take it, or who does not let it be taken from him, does not let himself be deprived of it. If he appropriates it, then not only the earth, but the right to it too, belongs to him. This is egoistic right: i.e. it is right for me, therefore
*A. Becker, "Volksphilosophie,", p. 22f.
250 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
it is right.
Aside from this, right does have "a wax nose." The tiger that assails me is in the right, and I who strike him down am also in the right. I defend against him not my right, but myself.
As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, i.e. "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves. It will be objected, the children had nevertheless "by nature" the right to exist; only the Spartans refused recognition to this right. But then they simply had no right to this recognition -- no more than they had to recognition of their life by the wild beasts to which they were thrown.
People talk so much about birthright and complain:
is alas! -- no mention of the rights
That were born with us. *
What sort of right, then, is there
that was born with me? The right to receive an entailed estate,
to inherit a throne, to enjoy a princely or noble education; or,
again, because poor parents begot me, to -- get free schooling,
be clothed out of contributions of alms, and at last earn my bread
and my herring in
*[Mephistopheles in "Faust."
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