THE OWNER 401
jail built about the mind of man by religion: he sent him back to France locked fast in invisible chains, what wonder if Francis sought to escape and sawed the chains apart? No man would have taken it amiss of him if he had secretly fled from Madrid, for he was in an enemy's power; but every good Christian cries out upon him, that he wanted to loose himself from God's bonds too. (It was only later that the pope absolved him from his oath.)
It is despicable to deceive a confidence that we voluntarily call forth; but it is no shame to egoism to let every one who wants to get us into his power by an oath bleed to death by the failure of his untrustful craft. If you have wanted to bind me, then learn that I know how to burst your bonds.
The point is whether I give the confider the right to confidence. If the pursuer of my friend asks me where he has fled to, I shall surely put him on a false trail. Why does he ask precisely me, the pursued man's friend? In order not to be a false, traitorous friend, I prefer to be false to the enemy. I might certainly in courageous conscientiousness, answer, "I will not tell" (so Fichte decides the case); by that I should salve my love of truth and do for my friend as much as -- nothing, for, if I do not mislead the enemy, he may accidentally take the right street, and my love of truth would have given up my friend as a prey, because it hindered me from the --courage for a lie. He who has in the truth an idol, a sacred thing, must humble himself before it, must not defy its demands, not resist courageously; in short, he must renounce the heroism of the lie. For to the lie belongs not less
|402 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
courage than to the truth: a courage that young men are most apt to be defective in, who would rather confess the truth and mount the scaffold for it than confound the enemy's power by the impudence of a lie. To them the truth is "sacred," and the sacred at all times demands blind reverence, submission, and self-sacrifice. If you are not impudent, not mockers of the sacred, you are tame and its servants. Let one but lay a grain of truth in the trap for you, you peck at it to a certainty, and the fool is caught. You will not lie? Well, then, fall as sacrifices to the truth and become -- martyrs! Martyrs! -- for what? For yourselves, for self-ownership? No, for your goddess -- the truth. You know only two services, only two kinds of servants: servants of the truth and servants of the lie. Then in God's name serve the truth!
Others, again, serve the truth also; but they serve it "in moderation," and make, e. g. a great distinction between a simple lie and a lie sworn to. And yet the whole chapter of the oath coincides with that of the lie, since an oath, everybody knows, is only a strongly assured statement. You consider yourselves entitled to lie, if only you do not swear to it besides? One who is particular about it must judge and condemn a lie as sharply as a false oath. But now there has been kept up in morality an ancient point of controversy, which is customarily treated of under the name of the "lie of necessity." No one who dares plead for this can consistently put from him an "oath of necessity." If I justify my lie as a lie of necessity, I should not be so pusillanimous as to rob the justified lie of the strongest corroboration. Whatever I do,
THE OWNER 403
why should I not do it entirely and without reservations (reservatio mentalis)? If I once lie, why then not lie completely, with entire consciousness and all my might? As a spy I should have to swear to each of my false statements at the enemy's demand; determined to lie to him, should I suddenly become cowardly and undecided in face of an oath? Then I should have been ruined in advance for a liar and spy; for, you see, I should be voluntarily putting into the enemy's hands a means to catch me. -- The State too fears the oath of necessity, and for this reason does not give the accused a chance to swear. But you do not justify the State's fear; you lie, but do not swear falsely. If, e. g. you show some one a kindness, and he is not to know it, but he guesses it and tells you so to your face, you deny; if he insists, you say, "honestly, no!" If it came to swearing, then you would refuse; for, from fear of the sacred, you always stop half way. Against the sacred you have no will of your own. You lie in -- moderation, as you are free "in moderation," religious "in moderation" (the clergy are not to "encroach"; over this point the most rapid of controversies is now being carried on, on the part of the university against the church), monarchically disposed "in moderation" (you want a monarch limited by the constitution, by a fundamental law of the State), everything nicely tempered, lukewarm, half God's, half the devil's.
There was a university where the usage was that every word of honor that must be given to the university judge was looked upon by the students as null and void. For the students saw in the demanding of
404 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
it nothing but a snare, which they could not escape otherwise than by taking away all its significance. He who at that same university broke his word of honor to one of the fellows was infamous; he who gave it to the university judge derided, in union with these very fellows, the dupe who fancied that a word had the same value among friends and among foes. It was less a correct theory than the constraint of practice that had there taught the students to act so, as, without that means of getting out, they would have been pitilessly driven to treachery against their comrades. But, as the means approved itself in practice, so it has its theoretical probation too. A word of honor, an oath, is one only for him whom I entitle to receive it; he who forces me to it obtains only a forced, i.e. a hostile word, the word of a foe, whom one has no right to trust; for the foe does not give us the right.
Aside from this, the courts of the State do not even recognize the inviolability of an oath. For, if I had sworn to one who comes under examination that I would not declare anything against him, the court would demand my declaration in spite of the fact that an oath binds me, and, in case of refusal, would lock me up till I decided to become -- an oath-breaker. The court "absolves me from my oath"; -- how magnanimous! If any power can absolve me from the oath, I myself am surely the very first power that has a claim to.
As a curiosity, and to remind us of customary oaths of all sorts, let place be given here to that which Emperor Paul commanded the captured Poles (Kos-
THE OWNER 405
ciuszko, 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
To this day thinking and trading have been done for -- God's sake. Those who for six days were trampling down everything by their selfish aims sacrificed
|406 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
on the seventh to the Lord; and those who destroyed a hundred "good causes" by their reckless thinking still did this in the service of another "good cause," and had yet to think of another -- besides themselves -- to whose good their self-indulgence should turn; of the people, mankind, etc. But this other thing is a being above them, a higher or supreme being; and therefore I say, they are toiling for God's sake.
Hence I can also say that the ultimate basis of their actions is -- love. Not a voluntary love however, not their own, but a tributary love, or the higher being's own (God's, who himself is love); in short, not the egoistic, but the religious; a love that springs from their fancy that they must discharge a tribute of love, i.e. that they must not be "egoists."
If we want to deliver the world from many kinds of unfreedom, we want this not on its account but on ours; for, as we are not world-liberators by profession and out of "love," we only want to win it away from others. We want to make it our own; it is not to be any longer owned as serf by God (the church) nor by the law (State), but to be our own; therefore we seek to "win" it, to "captivate" it, and, by meeting it halfway and "devoting" ourselves to it as to ourselves as soon as it belongs to us, to complete and make superfluous the force that it turns against us. If the world is ours, it no longer attempts any force against us, but only with us. My selfishness has an interest in the liberation of the world, that it may become -- my property.
Not isolation or being alone, but society, is man's
THE OWNER 407
original state. Our existence begins with the most intimate conjunction, as we are already living with our mother before we breathe; when we see the light of the world, we at once lie on a human being's breast again, her love cradles us in the lap, leads us in the go-cart, and chains us to her person with a thousand ties. Society is our state of nature. And this is why, the more we learn to feel ourselves, the connection that was formerly most intimate becomes ever looser and the dissolution of the original society more unmistakable. To have once again for herself the child that once lay under her heart, the mother must fetch it from the street and from the midst of its playmates. The child prefers the intercourse that it enters into with its fellows to the society that it has not entered into, but only been born in.
But the dissolution of society is intercourse or union. A society does assuredly arise by union too, but only as a fixed idea arises by a thought -- to wit, by the vanishing of the energy of the thought (the thinking itself, this restless taking back all thoughts that make themselves fast) from the thought. If a union* has crystallized into a society, it has ceased to be a coalition; ** for coalition is an incessant self-uniting; it has become a unitedness, come to a standstill, degenerated into a fixity; it is -- dead as a union, it is the corpse of the union or the coalition, i.e. it is --society, community. A striking example of this kind is furnished by the party.
That a society (e. g. the society of the State) di-
408 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
minishes my liberty offends me little. Why, I have to let my liberty be limited by all sorts of powers and by every one who is stronger; nay, by every fellow-man; and, were I the autocrat of all the R. . . . . ., I yet should not enjoy absolute liberty. But ownness I will not have taken from me. And ownness is precisely what every society has designs on, precisely what is to succumb to its power.
A society which I join does indeed take from me many liberties, but in return it affords me other liberties; neither does it matter if I myself deprive myself of this and that liberty (e. g. by any contract). On the other hand, I want to hold jealously to my ownness. Every community has the propensity, stronger or weaker according to the fullness of its power, to become an authority to its members and to set limits for them: it asks, and must ask, for a "subject's limited understanding"; it asks that those who belong to it be subjected to it, be its "subjects"; it exists only by subjection. In this a certain tolerance need by no means be excluded; on the contrary, the society will welcome improvements, corrections, and blame, so far as such are calculated for its gain: but the blame must be "well-meaning," it may not be "insolent and disrespectful" -- in other words, one must leave uninjured, and hold sacred, the substance of the society. The society demands that those who belong to it shall not go beyond it and exalt themselves, but remain "within the bounds of legality," e. g., allow themselves only so much as the society and its law allow them.
There is a difference whether my liberty or my ownness is limited by a society. If the former only is the
THE OWNER 409
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,* called --
HUMILITY.** My humility makes its courage,*** my submissiveness gives it its dominion.
But in reference to liberty, State and union are subject to no essential difference. The latter can just as little come into existence, or continue in existence, without liberty's being limited in all sorts of ways, as the State is compatible with unmeasured liberty. Limitation of liberty is inevitable everywhere, for one cannot get rid of everything; one cannot fly like a bird merely because one would like to fly so, for one does not get free from his own weight; one cannot live under water as long as he likes, like a fish, because one cannot do without air and cannot get free from this indispensable necessity; etc. As religion, and most decidedly Christianity, tormented man with the demand to realize the unnatural and self- contradictory, so it is to be looked upon only as the true logical outcome of that religious over-straining and overwroughtness that finally liberty itself, absolute liberty, was exalted into an ideal, and thus the nonsense of the impossible to come glaringly to the light. -- The union will assuredly offer a greater measure of liberty, as well as (and especially because
|410 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
by it one escapes all the coercion peculiar to State and society life) admit of being considered as "a new liberty"; but nevertheless it will still contain enough of unfreedom and involuntariness. For its object is not this -- liberty (which on the contrary it sacrifices to ownness), but only ownness. Referred to this, the difference between State and union is great enough. The former is an enemy and murderer of ownness, the latter a son and co-worker of it; the former a spirit that would be adored in spirit and in truth, the latter my work, my product ; the State is the lord of my spirit, who demands faith and prescribes to me articles of faith, the creed of legality; it exerts moral influence, dominates my spirit, drives away my ego to put itself in its place as "my true ego" -- in short, the State is sacred, and as against me, the individual man, it is the true man, the spirit, the ghost; but the union is my own creation, my creature, not sacred, not a spiritual power above my spirit, as little as any association of whatever sort. As I am not willing to be a slave of my maxims, but lay them bare to my continual criticism without any warrant, and admit no bail at all for their persistence, so still less do I obligate myself to the union for my future and pledge my soul to it, as is said to be done with the devil, and is really the case with the State and all spiritual authority; but I am and remain more to myself than State, Church, God, etc.; consequently infinitely more than the union too.
That society which Communism wants to found seems to stand nearest to coalition. For it is to aim at the "welfare of all," oh, yes, of all, cries Weitling
THE OWNER 411
innumerable times, of all! That does really look as if in it no one needed to take a back seat. But what then will this welfare be? Have all one and the same welfare, are all equally well off with one and the same thing? If that be so, the question is of the "true welfare." Do we not with this come right to the point where religion begins its dominion of violence? Christianity says, Look not on earthly toys, but seek your true welfare, become -- pious Christians; being Christians is the true welfare. It is the true welfare of "all," because it is the welfare of Man as such (this spook). Now, the welfare of all is surely to be your and my welfare too? But, if you and I do not look upon that welfare as our welfare, will care then be taken for that in which we feel well? On the contrary, society has decreed a welfare as the "true welfare," if this welfare were called e. g. "enjoyment honestly worked for"; but if you preferred enjoyable laziness, enjoyment without work, then society, which cares for the "welfare of all," would wisely avoid caring for that in which you are well off. Communism, in proclaiming the welfare of all, annuls outright the well-being of those who hitherto lived on their income from investments and apparently felt better in that than in the prospect of Weitling's strict hours of labor. Hence the latter asserts that with the welfare of thousands the welfare of millions cannot exist, and the former must give up their special welfare "for the sake of the general welfare." No, let people not be summoned to sacrifice their special welfare for the general, for this Christian admonition will not carry you through; they will better understand the
412 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
opposite admonition, not to let their own welfare be snatched from them by anybody, but to put it on a permanent foundation. Then they are of themselves led to the point that they care best for their welfare if they unite with others for this purpose,
e. g., "sacrifice a part of their liberty," yet not to the welfare of others, but to their own. An appeal to men's self-sacrificing disposition end self- renouncing love ought at least to have lost its seductive plausibility when, after an activity of thousands of years, it has left nothing behind but the -- misère of today. Why then still fruitlessly expect self-sacrifice to bring us better time? Why not rather hope for them from usurpation? Salvation comes no longer from the giver, the bestower, the loving one, but from the taker, the appropriator (usurper), the owner. Communism, and, consciously, egoism-reviling humanism, still count on love.
If community is once a need of man, and he finds himself furthered by it in his aims, then very soon, because it has become his principle, it prescribes to him its laws too, the laws of -- society. The principle of men exalts itself into a sovereign power over them, becomes their supreme essence, their God, and, as such -- law-giver. Communism gives this principle the strictest effect, and Christianity is the religion of society, for, as Feuerbach rightly says, although he does not mean it rightly, love is the essence of man; e. g., the essence of society or of societary (Communistic) man. All religion is a cult of society, this principle by which societary (cultivated) man is dominated; neither is any god an ego's exclusive god, but always a
THE OWNER 413
society's or community's, be it of the society, "family" (Lar, Penates) or of a "people" ("national god") or of "all men" ("he is a Father of all men").
Consequently one has a prospect of extirpating religion down to the ground only when one antiquates society and everything that flows from this principle. But it is precisely in Communism that this principle seeks to culminate, as in it everything is to become common for the establishment of -- "equality." If this "equality" is won, "liberty" too is not lacking. But whose liberty? Society's! Society is then all in all, and men are only "for each other." It would be the glory of the -- love-State.
But I would rather be referred to men's selfishness than to their "kindnesses,"* their mercy, pity, etc. The former demands reciprocity (as thou to me, so I to thee), does nothing "gratis," and may be won and -- bought. But with what shall I obtain the kindness? It is a matter of chance whether I am at the time having to do with a "loving" person. The affectionate one's service can be had only by -- begging, be it by my lamentable appearance, by my need of help, my misery, my -- suffering. What can I offer him for his assistance? Nothing! I must accept it as a --present. Love is unpayable, or rather, love can assuredly be paid for, but only by counter-love ("One good turn deserves another"). What paltriness and beggarliness does it not take to accept gifts year in and year out without service in return, as they are regularly collected e. g. from the poor day-laborer? What can
|414 THE EGO AND HIS OWN|
the receiver do for him and his donated pennies, in which his wealth consists? The day- laborer would really have more enjoyment if the receiver with his laws, his institutions, etc., all of which the day-laborer has to pay for though, did not exist at all. And yet, with it all, the poor wight loves his master.
No, community, as the "goal" of history hitherto, is impossible. Let us rather renounce every hypocrisy of community, and recognize that, if we are equal as men, we are not equal for the very reason that we are not men. We are equal only in thoughts, only when "we" are thought, not as we really and bodily are. I am ego, and you are ego: but I am not this thought-of ego; this ego in which we are all equal is only my thought. I am man, and you are man: but "man" is only a thought, a generality; neither I nor you are speakable, we are unutterable, because only thoughts are speakable and consist in speaking.
Let us therefore not aspire to community, but to one-sidedness. Let us not seek the most comprehensive commune, "human society," but let us seek in others only means and organs which we may use as our property! As we do not see our equals in the tree, the beast, so the presupposition that others are our equals springs from a hypocrisy. No one is my equal, but I regard him, equally with all other beings, as my property. In opposition to this I am told that I should be a man among "fellow-men" (Judenfrage, p. 60); I should "respect" the fellow-man in them. For me no one is a person to be respected, not even the fellow-man, but solely, like other beings, an object in which I take an interest or else do not,
THE OWNER 415
an interesting or uninteresting object, a usable or unusable person.
And, if I can use him, I doubtless come to an understanding and make myself at one with him, in order, by the agreement, to strengthen my power, and by combined force to accomplish more than individual force could effect. In this combination I see nothing whatever but a multiplication of my force, and I retain it only so long as it is my multiplied force. But thus it is a -- union.
Neither a natural ligature nor a spiritual one holds the union together, and it is not a natural, not a spiritual league. It is not brought about by one blood, not by one faith (spirit). In a natural league -- like a family, a tribe, a nation, yes, mankind -- the individuals have only the value of specimens of the same species or genus; in a spiritual league -- like a commune, a church -- the individual signifies only a member of the same spirit; what you are in both cases as a unique person must be -- suppressed. Only in the union can you assert yourself as unique, because the union does not possess you, but you possess it or make it of use to you.
Property is recognized in the union, and only in the union, because one no longer holds what is his as a fief from any being. The Communists are only consistently carrying further what had already been long present during religious evolution, and especially in the State; to wit, propertylessness, the feudal system.
The State exerts itself to tame the desirous man; in other words, it seeks to direct his desire to it alone,
416 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
and to content that desire with what it offers. To sate the desire for the desirous man's sake does not come into the mind: on the contrary, it stigmatizes as an "egoistic man" the man who breathes out unbridled desire, and the "egoistic man" is its enemy. He is this for it because the capacity to agree with him is wanting to the State; the egoist is precisely what it cannot "comprehend." Since the State (as nothing else is possible) has to do only for itself, it does not take care for my needs, but takes care only of how it make away with me, i.e. make out of me another ego, a good citizen. It takes measures for the "improvement of morals." -- And with what does it win individuals for itself? With itself, i.e. with what is the State's, with State property. It will be unremittingly active in making all participants in its "goods," providing all with the "good things of culture"; it presents them its education, opens to them the access to its institutions of culture, capacitates them to come to property (i.e. to a fief) in the way of industry, etc. For all these fiefs it demands only the just rent of continual thanks. But the "unthankful" forget to pay these thanks. -- Now, neither can "society" do essentially otherwise than the State.
You bring into a union your whole power, your competence, and make yourself count; in a society you are employed, with your working power; in the former you live egoistically, in the latter humanly, i.e. religiously, as a "member in the body of this Lord"; to a society you owe what you have, and are in duty bound to it, are -- possessed by "social duties"; a union you utilize, and give it up undutifully and un-
THE OWNER 417
faithfully 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.* But, as regards the sacrificing, surely I "sacrifice" only that which does not stand in my power, i. e., I "sacrifice" nothing at all.
To come back to property, the lord is proprietor. Choose then whether you want to be lord, or whether society shall be! On this depends whether you are to be an owner or a ragamuffin! The egoist is owner, the Socialist a ragamuffin. But ragamuffinism or propertylessness is the sense of feudalism, of the feudal system which since the last century has only changed its overlord, putting "Man" in the place of God, and
418 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
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 -- dead; but the resurrection too had to prove itself a truth in Christian history, and has so proved itself: for in another world feudalism is risen again with a glorified body, the new feudalism under the suzerainty of "Man."
Christianity is not annihilated, but the faithful are right in having hitherto trustfully assumed of every combat against it that this could serve only for the purgation and confirmation of Christianity; for it has really only been glorified, and "Christianity exposed" is the -- human Christianity. We are still living entirely in the Christian age, and the very ones who feel worst about it are the most zealously contributing to "complete" it. The more human, the dearer has feudalism become to us; for we the less believe that it still is feudalism, we take it the more confidently for ownness and think we have found what is "most absolutely our own" when we discover "the human."
Liberalism wants to give me what is mine, but it thinks to procure it for me not under the title of mine, but under that of the "human." As if it were
|THE OWNER 419|
attainable under this mask! The rights of man, the precious work of the Revolution, have the meaning that the Man in me entitles* me to this and that; I as individual, i.e. as this man, am not entitled, but Man has the right and entitles me. Hence as man I may well be entitled; but, as I am more than man, to wit, a special man, it may be refused to this very me, the special one. If on the other hand you insist on the value of your gifts, keep up their price, do not let yourselves be forced to sell out below price, do not let yourselves be talked into the idea that your ware is not worth its price. do not make yourself ridiculous by a "ridiculous price," but imitate the brave man who says, I will sell my life (property) dear, the enemy shall not have it at a cheap bargain; then you have recognized the reverse of Communism as the correct thing, and the word then is not "Give up your property!" but "Get the value out of your property!"
Over the portal of our time stands not that "Know thyself" of Apollo, but a "Get the value out of thyself!"
Proudhon calls property "robbery" (le vol). But alien property -- and he is talking of this alone -- is not less existent by renunciation, cession, and humility; it is a present. Why so sentimentally call for compassion as a poor victim of robbery, when one is just a foolish, cowardly giver of presents? Why here again put the fault on others as if they were robbing us, while we ourselves do bear the fault in leaving the others unrobbed? The poor are to
*[Literally, furnishes me with a right.]
420 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
blame for there being rich men.
Universally, no one grows indignant at his, but at alien property. They do not in truth attack property, but the alienation of property. They want to be able to call more, not less, theirs; they want to call everything theirs. They are fighting, therefore, against alienness, or, to form a word similar to property, against alienty. And how do they help themselves therein? Instead of transforming the alien into own, they play impartial and ask only that all property be left to a third party, e. g. human society. They revindicate the alien not in their own name but in a third party's. Now the "egoistic" coloring is wiped off, and everything is so clean and -- human!
Propertylessness or ragamuffinism, this then is the "essence of Christianity," as it is essence of all religiousness (i.e. godliness, morality, humanity), and only announced itself most clearly, and, as glad tidings, became a gospel capable of development, in the "absolute religion." We have before us the most striking development in the present fight against property, a fight which is to bring "Man" to victory and make propertylessness complete: victorious humanity is the victory of --Christianity. But the "Christianity exposed" thus is feudalism completed. the most all-embracing feudal system, i.e. perfect ragamuffinism.
Once more then, doubtless, a "revolution" against the feudal system? --
Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synonymous. The former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the established condition or
THE OWNER 421
status, the State or society, and is accordingly a political or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable consequence a transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it but from men's discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, but a rising of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring from it. The Revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on "institutions." It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay. Now, as my object is not the overthrow of an established order but my elevation above it, my purpose and deed are not a political or social but (as directed toward myself and my ownness alone) an egoistic purpose and deed.
The revolution commands one to make arrangements, the insurrection* demands that he rise or exalt himself.** What constitution was to be chosen, this question busied the revolutionary heads, and the whole political period foams with constitutional fights and constitutional questions, as the social talents too were uncommonly inventive in societary arrangements (phalansteries etc.). The insurgent*** strives to become constitutionless.
**[sich auf-oder empörzurichten]
***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.
422 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
While, to get greater clearness, I am thinking up a comparison, the founding of Christianity comes unexpectedly into my mind. On the liberal side it is noted as a bad point in the first Christians that they preached obedience to the established heathen civil order, enjoined recognition of the heathen authorities, and confidently delivered a command, "Give to the emperor that which is the emperor's." Yet how much disturbance arose at the same time against the Roman supremacy, how mutinous did the Jews and even the Romans show themselves against their own temporal government! In short, how popular was "political discontent!" Those Christians would hear nothing of it; would not side with the "liberal tendencies." The time was politically so agitated that, as is said in the gospels, people thought they could not accuse the founder of Christianity more successfully than if they arraigned him for "political intrigue," and yet the same gospels report that he was precisely the one who took least part in these political doings. But why was he not a revolutionist, not a demagogue, as the Jews would gladly have seen him? Why was he not a liberal? Because he expected no salvation from a change of conditions, and this whole business was indifferent to him. He was not a revolutionist, like e. g. Caesar, but an insurgent; not a State-overturner, but one who straightened himself up. That was why it was for him only a matter of "Be ye wise as serpents," which expresses the same sense as, in the special case, that "Give to the emperor that which is the emperor's"; for he was not carrying on any liberal or political fight against the established authorities,
|THE OWNER 423|
but wanted to walk his own way, untroubled about, and undisturbed by, these authorities. Not less indifferent to him than the government were its enemies, for neither understood what he wanted, and he had only to keep them off from him with the wisdom of the serpent. But, even though not a ringleader of popular mutiny, not a demagogue or revolutionist, he (and every one of the ancient Christians) was so much the more an insurgent, who lifted himself above everything that seemed sublime to the government and its opponents, and absolved himself from everything that they remained bound to, and who at the same time cut off the sources of life of the whole heathen world, with which the established State must wither away as a matter of course; precisely because he put from him the upsetting of the established, he was its deadly enemy and real annihilator; for he walled it in, confidently and recklessly carrying up the building of his temple over it, without heeding the pains of the immured.
Now, as it happened to the heathen order of the world, will the Christian order fare likewise? A revolution certainly does not bring on the end if an insurrection is not consummated first!
My intercourse with the world, what does it aim at? I want to have the enjoyment of it, therefore it must be my property, and therefore I want to win it. I do not want the liberty of men, nor their equality; I want only my power over them, I want to make them my property, i.e. material for enjoyment. And, if I do not succeed in that, well, then I call even the power over life and death, which Church and State
424 THE EGO AND HIS OWN
reserved to themselves -- mine. Brand that officer's widow who, in the flight in Russia, after her leg has been shot away, takes the garter from it, strangles her child therewith, and then bleeds to death alongside the corpse -- brand the memory of the -- infanticide. Who knows, if this child had remained alive, how much it might have "been of use to the world!" The mother murdered it because she wanted to die satisfied and at rest. Perhaps this case still appeals to your sentimentality, and you do not know how to read out of it anything further. Be it so; I on my part use it as an example for this, that my satisfaction decides about my relation to men, and that I do not renounce, from any access of humility, even the power over life and death.
As regards "social duties" in general, another does not give me my position toward others, therefore neither God nor humanity prescribes to me my relation to men, but I give myself this position. This is more strikingly said thus: I have no duty to others, as I have a duty even to myself (e. g. that of self-preservation, and therefore not suicide) only so long as I distinguish myself from myself (my immortal soul from my earthly existence, etc.).
I no longer humble myself before any power, and I recognize that all powers are only my power, which I have to subject at once when they threaten to become a power against or above me; each of them must be only one of my means to carry my point, as a hound is our power against game, but is killed by us if it should fall upon us ourselves. All powers that dominate me I then reduce to serving me. The idols exist
THE OWNER 425
through me; I need only refrain from creating them anew, then they exist no longer: "higher powers" exist only through my exalting them and abasing myself.
Consequently my relation to the world is this: I no longer do anything for it "for God's sake," I do nothing "for man's sake," but what I do I do "for my sake." Thus alone does the world satisfy me, while it is characteristic of the religious standpoint, in which I include the moral and humane also, that from it everything remains a pious wish (pium desiderium), i.e. an other-world matter, something unattained. Thus the general salvation of men, the moral world of a general love, eternal peace, the cessation of egoism, etc. "Nothing in this world is perfect." With this miserable phrase the good part from it, and take flight into their closet to God, or into their proud "self-consciousness." But we remain in this "imperfect" world, because even so we can use it for our -- self-enjoyment.
My intercourse with the world consists in my enjoying it, and so consuming it for my self-enjoyment. Intercourse is the enjoyment of the world, and belongs to my -- self-enjoyment.
We stand at the boundary of a period. The world hitherto took thought for nothing but the gain of life, took care for -- 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 hank-
Previous Section | Contents/Index | Next Section