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226 THE EGO AND HIS
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
*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"
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
228 THE EGO AND HIS
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,
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
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,",
230 THE EGO AND HIS
(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
232 THE EGO AND HIS
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
THE OWNER 233
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,
234 THE EGO AND HIS
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
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
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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
236 THE EGO AND HIS
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
literally "precedent right."]
THE OWNER 237
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,
238 THE EGO AND HIS
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.
THE OWNER 239
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,
240 THE EGO AND HIS
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
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.
THE OWNER 241
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
242 THE EGO AND HIS
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.
A. -- My Power
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.]
THE OWNER 243
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.
244 THE EGO AND HIS
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
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
THE OWNER 245
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
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,
246 THE EGO AND HIS
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
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* 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
a word which usually means "lawsuit."]
THE OWNER 247
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
do with a free cheer, i. e. what I do not entitle myself
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,",
250 THE EGO AND HIS
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
People talk so much about birthright
is alas! -- no mention of the rights
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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