The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Chapter Three: Saint Max
[...] again he reveals only his credulity. The reactionaries knew already that by the constitution the bourgeoisie abolishes the naturally arisen state and establishes and makes its own state, that “le pouvoir constituant, qui était dans le temps” naturally “passa dans la volonté humaine”, ["The constitutional power which had been shaped in the course of time had permeated the human will.” Lourdoueix, “Appel à la France contre la division des opinions”, quoted from Karl Wilhelm Lancizolle’s book Ueber Ursachen, Character und Folgen der Julitage] that “this fabricated state was like a fabricated, painted tree”, etc. See Fiévée’s Correspondance politique et administrative, Paris, 1815, Appel à la France contre la division des opinions, Le drapeau blanc by Sarran ainé the Gazette de France of the Restoration period, and the earlier works of Bonald, de Maistre, etc. The liberal bourgeois, in turn, reproach the old republicans — about whom they obviously know as little as Saint Max knows about the bourgeois state — on the grounds that their patriotism is nothing but “une passion factice envers un être abstrait, une idée générale” ["An artificial passion directed towards something abstract, a general idea."] (Benj. Constant, De 1'esprit de conquête, Paris, 1814, p. 48), whereas the reactionaries accused the bourgeois on the grounds that their political ideology is nothing but “une mystification que la classe aisée fait subir à celles qui ne le sont pas” (Gazette de France, 1831, Février. ["A deception with which the wealthy class deludes those that are not wealthy.” Quoted from Karl Wilhelm Lancizolle, op. cit.]
On page 295, Saint Sancho declares that the state is “an institution for making the nation Christian”, and all he can say about the basis of the state is that it “is held together” with the “cement” o “respect for the law”, or that the holy “is held together” by respect (the holy as link) for the holy (p. 314).
If the state is holy, there must be censorship” (p. 316). “The French Government does not contest freedom of the press as a right of man, but it demands a guarantee from the individual that he is really a human being.” (Quel bonhomme! [What a simpleton] Jacques le bonhomme is “called upon” to study the September Laws) (p. 380).
Note 5, in which we find the most profound explanations about the various forms of the state, which Jacques le bonhomme makes independent and in which he sees only different attempts to realise the true state.
“The republic is nothing but absolute monarchy, for it makes no difference whether the monarch is called prince of people, since both are majesties” (the holy) ... “Constitutionalism is a step further than the republic, for it is the state in the process of dissolution.”
This dissolution is explained as follows:
“In the constitutional state ... the government wants to be absolute, and the people wants to be absolute. These two absolutes” (i.e., holies) “will destroy one another” (p. 302). “I am not the state, I am the creative negation of the state”; “thereby all questions” (about the constitution, etc.) “sink into their true nothing” (p. 310).
He should have added that these propositions about forms of the state are merely a paraphrase of this “nothing”, whose sole creation is the proposition given above: I am not the state. Saint Sancho, just like a German school-master, speaks here of “the republic,” which is, of course, far older than constitutional monarchy, e.g., the Greek republics.
That in a democratic, representative state like North America class conflicts have already reached a form which the constitutional monarchies are only just being forced to approach — about this, of course, he knows nothing. His phrases about constitutional monarchy prove that since 1842 by the Berlin calendar, he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. [paraphrase of the French saying: “Ils n'ont rien appris ni rien oublié” — “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing”; when it was first coined, shortly after the French Revolution, it was used in relation to the royalists]
“The state owes its existence only to the contempt which I have for myself”, and with the disappearance of this disdain it will fade away entirely” (it seems that it depends solely on Sancho how soon all the states on earth will “fade away”. Repetition of Note 3 in the reversed equation, see “Logic”): “It exists only when it is superior to me, only as might [Macht] and the mighty [Mächtiger]. Or” (a remarkable or which proves just the opposite of what it is intended to prove) “can you imagine a state the inhabitants of which in all their entirety” (a jump from “I” to “we”) “attach no importance to it [sich allesamt nichts aus ihm machen]?” (p. 377).
There is no need to dwell on the synonymy of the words “ Macht “Mächtig” and “machen”.
From the fact that in any state there are people who attach importance to it, i.e., who, in the state and thanks to the state, themselves acquire importance, Sancho concludes that the state is a power standing above these people. Here again it is only a matter of getting the fixed idea about the state out of one’s mind. Jacques le bonhomme continues to imagine that the state is a mere idea and he believes in the independent power of this idea of the state. He is the true “politician who believes in the state, is possessed by the state” (p. 309). Hegel idealises the conception of the state held by the political ideologists who still took separate individuals as their point of departure, even if it was merely the will of these individuals; Hegel transforms the common will of these individuals into the absolute will, and Jacques le bonhomme bona fide accepts this idealisation of ideology as the correct view of the state and, in this belief, criticises it by declaring the Absolute to be the Absolute.
We shall spend somewhat more time on this chapter because, not unintentionally, it is the most confused of all the confused chapters in “the book”, and because at the same time it proves most strikingly how little our saint succeeds in getting to know things in their mundane shape. Instead of making them worldly, he makes them holy by “giving” the reader the “benefit” only of his own holy conception. Before coming to bourgeois society proper, we shall hear some new explanations about property in general and in its relation to the state. These explanations appear the newer because they give Saint Sancho the opportunity to put forward again his most favourite equations about right and the state and thus to give his “treatise” “more manifold transformations” and “refractions”. We need, of course, only quote the last members of these equations since the reader will still have it mind their context from the chapter “My Power”.
Private property or bourgeois
= Not my property
= Holy property
= Property of others
= Respected property or respect
= Property of man (pp. 327, 369).
From these equations one obtains at once the following antitheses:
Property in the bourgeois sense
= Property in the egoistical sense (p. 327).
“Property of man”
= “My property.”
= My, belongings.) p. 324.
= State power.
Private property or
= Rightful property (p. 324),
= mine by virtue of right (p. 332),
= guaranteed property,
= property of others,
= property belonging to another,
= property belonging to right,
= property by right (pp. 367, 332),
= a concept of right,
= something spiritual,
= pure thought,
= fixed idea,
= property of the spectre (pp. 368, 324, 332, 367, 369).
= Property of right.
= Power of the state.
=Property in the power of the state
= State property or also
= State Property.
= My non-property.
= The sole owner (pp. 339, 334).
We now come to the antitheses:
— Egoistical property.
Authorised by right (by the state, by Man) to have property
— Empowered by me to have property (p. 339).
Mine by virtue of right
— Mine by virtue of my power
Property given by
— Property taken by, me (p. 339).
Rightful property of others
— Rightful property of another is
which can be repeated in a hundred other formulas if, for example, one puts plenary powers instead of power, or uses formulas already given.
Private property =
— My property, = property
Property comprising a few
— Property comprising
Alienation [Entfremdung], as the relation or link in the above equations, can be expressed also in the following antitheses:
— Egoistical property.
“To behave towards property as towards something holy,
— “To renounce the holy relation towards property”,
The modes of appropriation contained in the above equations and antitheses will be dealt with when we come to the “ union “, but as for the time being we are still in the “holy society”, we are here only concerned with canonisation.
Note. In the section “Hierarchy” we already dealt with the question why the ideologists can regard the property relation as a relation of “Man”, the different forms of which in different epochs are determined by the individuals’ conception of “Man”. It suffices here to refer the reader to that analysis.
Treatise 1. On the parcellation of landed property, the redemption of feudal obligations and the swallowing-up of small landed property by large landed property.
All these things are deduced from holy property and the equation: bourgeois property = respect for the holy.
1) “Property in the bourgeois sense means holy property, in such a way that I must respect your property. ‘Respect for property!’ Hence the politicians would like everyone to possess his little piece of property and by their endeavour have partly brought about an incredible parcellation” (pp. 327, 328). — 2) “The political liberals see to it that as far as possible all feudal obligations are redeemed and that everyone is a free master on his land, even though this land has only such a quantity of ground” (the land has a quantity of ground!) “that it can be adequately fertilised by the manure from one person.... No matter how small it is, so long as it is one’s own, i.e., a respected property! The more such owners there are, the more free people and good patriots has the state” (p. 328). — 3) “Political liberalism, like everything religious, counts on respect, humanity, the virtues of love. Therefore it experiences constant vexation. For in practice people respect nothing, and every day small properties are being bought up by large landowners, and the ‘free people’ are turned into day-labourers. If, on the other hand, the ‘small owners’ had borne in mind that large property also belongs to them, they would not have respectfully excluded themselves from it and would not have become excluded” (p. 328).
1) Here, therefore, first of all the whole development of parcellation, about which Saint Sancho knows only that it is the holy, is explained from a mere idea which “the politicians” “have got into their heads”. Because “the politicians” demand “respect for property”, hence they “would like” parcellation, which moreover was carried out everywhere by not respecting other people’s property! “The politicians” actually have “partly brought about an incredible parcellation”. It was therefore through the action of the “politicians” that in France even before the revolution, just as today in Ireland and partly in Wales, parcellation had long existed in agriculture, and that capital and all other conditions were lacking for large-scale cultivation. Incidentally, how much “politicians” nowadays “world like” to carry out parcellation, Saint Sancho could see from the fact that all the French bourgeois are dissatisfied with parcellation, both because it weakens competition among the workers and also for political reasons; further, from the fact that all reactionaries (as Sancho could see if only from the Erinnerungen of the old Arndt) regarded parcellation simply as the conversion of landed property into modern, industrial, marketable, desanctified property. We shall not here set forth for our saint the economic reasons why the bourgeoisie, as soon as it has attained power, must carry out this conversion, which can come about both by the abolition of land rents that exceed profit and by parcellation. Nor shall we explain to him that the form in which this conversion takes place depends on the level of development of industry, trade, shipping, etc., in the country concerned. The propositions cited above about parcellation are nothing more than a bombastic circumlocution of the simple fact that in various places “here and there” considerable parcellation exists — expressed in our Sancho’s canonising manner of speech, which suits everything and nothing. For the rest, Sancho’s propositions given above contain merely the fantasies of the German petty bourgeois about parcellation which, of course, is for him the alien, “the holy”. Cf. “Political Liberalism”.
2) The redemption of feudal obligations, a misery which occurs only in Germany, where the governments were only compelled to carry it through by the more advanced conditions in neighbouring countries and by financial difficulties — this redemption is held by our saint to be something that “the political liberals” desire in order to produce “free people and good burghers”. Sancho’s horizon again does not go beyond the Pomeranian Landtag and the Saxon Chamber of Deputies. This German redemption of feudal obligations never led to any political or economic results and, being a half-measure, remained without any effect at all. Sancho knows nothing, of course, about the historically important redemption of feudal obligations in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries which was due to the commencing development of trade and industry and the landowners’ need for money.
The very same people who, like Stein and Vincke, wanted the redemption of feudal obligations in Germany in order, as Sancho believes, to make good burghers and free people, found later on that in order to produce “good burghers and free people” feudal obligations ought to be restored, as is just now being attempted in Westphalia. From which it follows that “respect”, like the fear of God, is useful for all purposes.
3) The “buying-up” of small landed property by the “large landowners” takes place, according to Sancho, because in practice “respect for property” does not occur. Two of the most common consequences of competition — concentration and buying-up — and competition as a whole, which does not exist without concentration, seem here to our Sancho to be violations of bourgeois property, which moves within the sphere of competition. Bourgeois property is already violated by the very fact of its existence. In Sancho’s opinion, it is not possible to buy anything without attacking property. How deeply Saint Sancho has penetrated into the concentration of landed property can already be deduced from the fact that he sees in it only the most obvious act of concentration, the mere “buying-up”. Incidentally, from what Sancho says it is not possible to perceive to what extent small landowners cease to be owners by becoming day-labourers. Indeed, on the following page (p. 329) Sancho himself with great solemnity advances as an argument against Proudhon that they continue to be “owners of the share remaining to them in the utilisation of the land”, namely owners of wages. “It can sometimes be observed in history” that large landed property swallows up small landed property, and then in turn the small swallows up the large, two phenomena which, in Saint Sancho’s opinion, become peacefully resolved into the adequate reason that “in practice people respect nothing”. The same thing holds good for the other manifold forms of landed property. And then the wise “if the small owners had”, etc.! In the Old Testament we saw how Saint Sancho, in accordance with the speculative method, made earlier generations reflect on the experiences of later ones; now we see how, in accordance with his ranting method, he complains that the earlier generations have failed to bear in mind not only the thoughts of later generations about them, but also his own nonsense. What schoolmasterly “wisdom! If the terrorists had considered that they would bring Napoleon to the throne, if the English barons at the time of Runnymede and Magna Charta had considered that in 1849 the Corn Laws  would be repealed, if Croesus had considered that Rothschild would surpass him in riches, if Alexander the Great had considered that Rotteck would judge him and that his Empire would fall into the hands of the Turks, if Themistocles had considered that he would defeat the Persians in the interests of Otto the Child, if Hegel had considered that he would be exploited in such a “vulgar” way by Saint Sancho, if, if, if! About what kind of “small owners” does Saint Sancho fancy that he is talking? About the propertyless peasants who only became “small owners” as a result of the parcelling out of large landed property, or about those who are being ruined nowadays as a result of concentration? For Saint Sancho these two cases are as like as two drops of water. In the first case, the small owners did not by any means exclude themselves from “large property”, but each took possession of it insofar as he was not excluded by others and had the power to do so. This power, however, was not Stirner’s vaunted power, but was determined by quite empirical relations, e.g., their development and the whole preceding development of bourgeois society, the locality and its greater or lesser degree of connection with the neighbourhood, the size of the piece of land taken into possession, and the number of those who appropriated it, the relations of industry, of intercourse, means of communication, instruments of production, etc., etc’ That they had no intention of excluding themselves from large landed property is evident even from the fact that many of them became large landed proprietors themselves. Sancho makes himself ridiculous even in Germany by his unreasonable demand that these peasants should have jumped the stage of parcellation, which did not yet exist and was at that time the only revolutionary form for them, and that they should have thrown themselves at a bound into his egoism in agreement with itself. Disregarding this nonsense of his, it was not possible for these peasants to organise themselves communistically, since they lacked all the means necessary for bringing about the first condition of communist association, namely collective husbandry, and since, on the contrary, parcellation was only one of the conditions which subsequently evoked the need for such an association. In general, a communist movement can never originate from the countryside, but only from the towns.
In the second case, when Saint Sancho talks of the ruined small owners, these still have a common interest with the big landowners as against the wholly propertyless class and the industrial bourgeoisie. If this common interest is absent, they lack the power to appropriate large landed property, since they live scattered and their whole activity and way of life make association, the first condition for such appropriation, impossible for them, and such a movement, in its turn, presupposes a much more general movement which by no means depends on them.
Finally, Sancho’s whole tirade amounts to this: that they ought merely to get rid of their respect for the property of others. We shall hear a little more about this later on.
In conclusion, let us take one more proposition ad acta. “The point is that in practice people respect nothing,” so, after all, it appears that it is not “just” a matter of “respect”.
Treatise No. 2. Private property, state and right.
“If, if, if!”
“If” Saint Sancho had for one moment set aside the current ideas of lawyers and politicians about private property, and also the polemic against it, if he had once looked at this private property in its empirical existence, in its connection with the productive forces of individuals, then all his Solomon’s wisdom, with which he will now entertain us, would have been reduced to nothing. Then it would hardly have escaped him (although like Habakkuk he is capable de tout  ) that private property is a form of intercourse necessary for certain stages of development of the productive forces; a form of . intercourse that cannot be abolished, and cannot be dispensed with in the production of actual material life, until productive forces have been created for which private property becomes a restricting fetter. In that case it could not have escaped the reader also that Sancho ought to have occupied himself with material relations, instead of dissolving the whole world in a system of theological morality in order to set against it a new system of would-be egoistical morality. It could not have escaped him that it was a question of things altogether different from “respect” or disrespect. “If, if, if!”
Incidentally, this “if” is only an echo of Sancho’s proposition given above; for “if” Sancho had done all that, he obviously could not have written his book.
Since Saint Sancho accepts in good faith the illusion of politicians, lawyers and other ideologists which puts all empirical relations upside-down, and, in addition, in the German manner adds something of his own, private property for him becomes transformed into state property, or property by right, on which he can now make an experiment to justify his equations given above. Let us first of all look at the transformation of private property into state property.
“The question of property is decided only by force” (on the contrary, the question of force has so far been decided by property), “and since the state alone is the mighty one — irrespective of whether it is a state of burghers, a state of ragamuffins” (Stirner’s “union”) “or simply a state of human beings — it alone is the owner” (p. 333).
Side by side with the fact of the German “state of burghers” here again fantasies invented by Sancho and Bauer appear on an equal footing, whereas no mention is made anywhere of the historically important state formations. First of all he transforms the state into a person, into “the Mighty one”. The fact that the ruling class establishes its joint domination as public power, as the state, Sancho interprets and distorts in the German petty bourgeois manner as meaning that the “state” is established as a third force against this ruling class and absorbs all power in the face of it. He proceeds now to confirm this belief of his by means of a series of examples.
Because property under the rule of the bourgeoisie, as in all epochs, is bound up with definite conditions, first of all economic, which depend on the degree of development of the productive forces and intercourse — conditions which inevitably acquire a legal and political expression — Saint Sancho in his simplicity believes that
“the state links possession of property” (car tel est son bon plaisir [because it chooses to do so — a paraphrase of the concluding words of French royal edicts]) “just as it links everything else, e.g., marriage, with certain conditions” (p. 335).
Because the bourgeois do not allow the state to interfere in their private interests and give it only as much power as is necessary for their own safety and the maintenance of competition and because the bourgeois in general act as citizens only to the extent that their private interests demand it, Jacques le bonhomme believes that they are “nothing” in face of the state.
“The state is only interested in being wealthy itself; whether Michael is rich and Peter poor is a matter of indifference to it ... in face of it both of them are nothing” (p. 334).
On page 345 he derives the same wisdom from the fact that competition is tolerated in the state.
Because the board of a railway is concerned about its shareholders only insofar as they make their payments and receive their dividends, the Berlin school-master in his innocence concludes that the shareholders are “nothing in face of the board just as we are all sinners in the face of God”. On the basis of the impotence of the state in face of the activities of private property-owners Sancho proves the impotence of private property-owners in face of the state and his own impotence in face of both.
Further, since the bourgeois have organised the defence of their own property in the state, and the “ego” cannot, therefore, take away his factory “from such and such a manufacturer”, except under the conditions of the bourgeoisie, i.e., under the conditions of competition, Jacques le bonhomme believes that
“the state has the factory as property, the manufacturer holds it only in fee, as possession” (p. 347).
In exactly the same way when a dog guards my house it “has” the house “as property”, and I hold it only “in fee, as possession” from the dog.
Since the concealed material conditions of private property are often bound to come into contradiction with the juridical illusion about private property — as seen, for example, in expropriations — Jacques le bonhomme, concludes that
“here the otherwise concealed principle that only the state is the property-owner whereas the individual is a feudal tenant, strikes the eye” (p. 335).
All that “strikes the eye here” is the fact that worldly property relations are hidden from the eyes of our worthy burgher behind the mantle of “the holy”, and that he has still to borrow a “heavenly ladder” from China In order to “climb” to the “rung of civilisation” attained even by school-masters in civilised countries. In the same way as Sancho here transforms the contradictions belonging to the existence of private property into the negation of private property, he dealt, as we saw above, with the contradictions within the bourgeois family.
Since the bourgeois, and in general all the members of civil society, are forced to constitute themselves as “we”, as a juridical person, as the state, in order to safeguard their common interests and — if only because of the division of labour — to delegate the collective power thus created to a few persons, Jacques le bonhomme imagines that
“each has the use of property only so long as he bears within himself the ego of the state or is a loyal member of society.... He who is a state — ego, i.e., a good burgher or subject, he, as such an ego, not as his own, holds the fee undisturbed” (pp. 334, 335).
From this point of view, a. person possesses a railway share only so long as he “bears within himself” the “ego” of the board; consequently it is only as a saint that one can possess a railway share.
Having in this way convinced himself of the identity of private and state property, Saint Sancho can continue:
“That the state does not arbitrarily take away from the individual that which he has from the state, only means that the state does not rob itself” (pp. 334, 335).
That Saint Sancho does not arbitrarily rob others of their property only means that Saint Sancho does not rob himself, for indeed he “regards” all property as his own.
One cannot demand of us that we should deal further with the rest of Saint Sancho’s fantasies about the state and property, e.g., that the state “tames” and “rewards” individuals by means of property, that out of special malice it has invented high stamp duties in order to ruin the citizens if they are not loyal, etc., etc. and in general with the petty-bourgeois German idea of the omnipotence of the state, an idea which was already current among the old German lawyers and is here presented in the form of grandiloquent assertions.
Finally Saint Sancho also tries to confirm his adequately proved identity of state and private property by means of etymological synonymy; in doing which, however, he belabours his erudition en ambas posaderas.
“My private property is only that which the state allows me out of its property, by depriving [privieren] other state members of it: it is state property” (p. 339).
By chance this is just the reverse of what happened. Private property in Rome, to which alone this etymological witticism can relate, was in the most direct contradiction to state property. True, the state gave the plebeians private property; in doing so it did not, however, deprive “others” of their private property but deprived these plebeians themselves of their state property (ager publicus [common land]) and their political rights, and it was precisely on that account that they themselves were called privati, robbed ones. and not the fantastical “other state members” of whom Saint Sancho dreams. Jacques le bonhomme covers himself with shame in all countries, all languages and all epochs as soon as he begins to talk about positive facts concerning which “the holy” cannot have any knowledge a priori.
Desperation because the state swallows up all property drives Sancho back to his innermost “indignant” self-consciousness, where he is surprised to discover that he is a man of letters. He expresses his astonishment in the following remarkable words:
“In opposition to the state I feel ever more clearly that I still retain one great power, power over myself.”
Further on this is developed thus:
“My thoughts constitute real property for me with which I can carry on trade” (p. 339).
Thus, Stirner the “ragamuffin”, the “man of only ideal wealth”, arrives at the desperate decision to carry on trade with the curdled, sour milk of his thoughts.  But what cunning does he use if the state declares his thoughts to be contraband? Just listen to this:
“I renounce them” (which is undoubtedly very wise) “and exchange them for others” (that is, if anyone should be such a bad businessman as to accept his exchanges of thoughts), “ which then become my new, purchased property” (p. 339).
Our honourable burgher will not rest until he has it in black and white that he has bought his property honestly. Here one sees the consolation of the Berlin burgher in the face of all his political calamities and police tribulations: “Thoughts are free of customs duty!” [Martin Luther, Von weltlicher Obrigkeit]
The transformation of private property into state property reduces itself, in the final analysis, to the idea that the bourgeois has possessions only as a member of the bourgeois species, a species which as a whole is called the state and which invests individuals with the fief of property. He re again the matter is put upside-down. In the bourgeois class, as in every other, it is only personal conditions that are developed into common and universal conditions under which the separate members of the class possess and live. Although previously philosophical illusions of this kind could be current in Germany, they have now become completely ludicrous, since world trade has adequately proved that bourgeois gain is quite independent of politics, but that politics, on the other hand, is entirely dependent on bourgeois gain. Already in the eighteenth century, politics was so dependent on trade that when, for example, the French Government wanted to raise a loan, the Dutch demanded that a private individual should stand security for the state.
That “my worthlessness” or “pauperism” is the “realisation of the value” or the “existence” of the “state” (p. 336) is one of the thousand and one Stirnerian equations which we mention here only because in this connection we shall hear something new about pauperism.
“Pauperism is my worthlessness, the phenomenon that I cannot realise my value. Hence state and pauperism are one and the same.... The state is always trying to derive benefit from me, i.e., to exploit me. make use of me, to utilise me, even though this utilisation consists merely in my providing proles [offspring] (proletariat). It wants me to be its creature” (p. 336).
Apart from the fact that one sees here how little it depends on him to realise his value, although everywhere and at all times he can assert his peculiarity, and that here once again, in contradiction to former statements, essence and appearance are totally divorced from each other, we have again the above-mentioned petty-bourgeois view of our bonhomme that the “state” wants to exploit him. The only further point of interest to us is the ancient Roman etymological derivation of the word “proletariat”, which is here naively smuggled into the modern state. Does Saint Sancho really not know that wherever the modern state has developed, “providing proles” is for the state, i.e., the official bourgeois, precisely the most unpleasant activity of the proletariat? Perhaps he ought to translate Malthus and Minister Duchâtel into German, [Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population; Charles Marie Duchâtel, De la Charité] for his own benefit’, just now, Saint Sancho, as a German petty bourgeois, “felt” “ever more clearly” that “in opposition to the state he still retained one great power”, namely — the power to think in defiance of the state. If he were an English proletarian He would have felt that he “retained the power” to produce children in defiance of the state.
Another Jeremiad against the state! Another theory of pauperism! To start with he, as “ego”, “creates” “flour, linen or iron and coal”, thereby from the outset abolishing division of labour. Then he begins “to complain” “at length” that his work is not paid for at its value, and in the first instance he comes into conflict with those who pay for it. Then the state comes between them in the role of “conciliator”.
“If I am not satisfied with the price it” (i.e., the state) “pays for my commodity and labour, if instead I myself endeavour to fix the price of my commodity, i.e., try to see that it is lucrative for me, I come into conflict in the first instance” (a great “in the first instance"! — not with the state, but) “with the buyers of the commodity” (p. 337).
If then he wants to enter into “direct relation” with these buyers, i.e., “seize them by the throat”, the state “intervenes”, “tears man from man” (although it was not a matter of “man in general” but of worker and employer or, what he lumps together in confusion, of the seller and buyer of commodities); moreover, the state does this with the malicious intention “to put itself in the middle as spirit” (obviously the holy spirit).
“Workers who demand higher wages are treated as criminals as soon as they try to achieve this by force” (p. 337).
Once more we are presented with a bouquet of nonsense. Mr. Senior need never have written his letters on wages [Nassau William Senior, Three Lectures on the Rate of Wages] if he had first entered into “direct relation” with Stirner, especially as in that case the state would hardly have “torn man from man”. Sancho here gives the state a triple function. It first acts as a “conciliator”, then as price fixer, and finally as “spirit”, as the holy. The fact that, after having gloriously identified private and state property, Saint Sancho also makes the state fix the level of wages, is testimony equally to his great consistency and his ignorance of the affairs of this world. The fact that in England, America and Belgium “workers A ho try to gain higher wages by force” are by no means immediately treated as “criminals”, but on the contrary quite often actually succeed in obtaining higher wages, is also something of which our saint is ignorant, and which disposes of his whole legend about wages. The fact that, even if the state did not “put itself in the middle”, the workers would gain nothing by “seizing” their employers “by the throat” or at any rate much less than through association and strikes, that is, so long as they remain workers and their opponents capitalists — this is also something that could be comprehended even in Berlin. There is likewise no need to demonstrate that bourgeois society, which is based on competition, and its bourgeois state, owing to their whole material basis, cannot permit any struggle among the citizens except the struggle of competition, and are bound to intervene not as “spirit”, but with bayonets if people “seize each other by the throat”.
Incidentally, Stirner’s idea that only the state becomes richer when individuals become richer on the basis of bourgeois property, or that up to now all private property has been state property, is an idea that again puts historical relations upside-down.
With the development and accumulation of bourgeois property, i.e., with the development of commerce and industry, individuals grew richer and richer while the state fell ever more deeply into debt. This phenomenon was evident already in the first Italian commercial republics; later, since the last century, it showed itself to a marked degree in Holland, where the stock exchange speculator Pinto drew attention to it as early as 1750, [Isaac Pinto, Lettre sur la Jalousie du Commerce in Traité de la Circulation et du Crédit] and now it is again occurring in England. It is therefore obvious that as soon as the bourgeoisie has accumulated money, the state has to beg from the bourgeoisie and in the end it is actually bought up by the latter. This takes place in a period in which the bourgeoisie is still confronted by another class, and consequently the state can retain some appearance of independence in relation to both of them. Even after the state has been bought up, it still needs money and, therefore, continues to be dependent on the bourgeoisie; nevertheless, when the interests of the bourgeoisie demand it, the state can have at its disposal more funds than states which are less developed and, therefore, less burdened with debts. However, even the least developed states of Europe, those of the Holy Alliance, are inexorably approaching this fate, for they will be bought up by the bourgeoisie; then Stirner will be able to console them with the identity of private and state property, especially his own sovereign, who is trying in vain to postpone the hour when political power will be sold to the “burghers” who have become “angry”.
We come now to the relation between private property and right, where we have to listen to the same stuff in another form. The identity of state and private property is apparently given a new turn. Political recognition of private property in law is declared to be the basis of private property.
“Private property lives by grace of right. It is guaranteed only in right — for possession is not yet property — it becomes mine only with the consent of right; it is not a fact, but a fiction, a thought. That is property by right, rightful property, guaranteed property; it is mine not thanks to me, but thanks to right” (p. 332).
In this passage the previous nonsense about state property merely reaches still more comical heights. We shall, therefore, pass on at once to Sancho’s exploitation of the fictitious jus utendi et abutendi. [the right of using and consuming (also: abusing), i.e., of disposing of a thing at will] On page 332 we learn, besides the beautiful passage above, that property
“is unlimited power over something which I can dispose of as I please”. But “power” is “not something existing of itself, but exists only in the powerful ego, in me, the possessor of power” (p. 366). Hence property is not a “thing”, “what is mine is not this tree, but my power over it, my ability to dispose of it” (p. 366). He only knows “things” or “egos”. “The power” which is “separated from the ego”, given independent existence, transformed into a “spectre”, is “right”. “This perpetuated power” (treatise on right of inheritance) “is not extinguished even when I die, but is passed on or inherited. Things now really belong not to me, but to right. On the other hand, this is nothing but a delusion, for the power of the individual becomes permanent, and becomes a right, only because other individuals combine their power with his. The delusion consists in their belief that they cannot take back their power” (pp. 366, 367). “A dog who sees a bone in the power of another dog stands aside only if it feels it is too weak. Man, however, respects the right of the other man to his bone.... And as here, so in general, it is called ‘human’ when something spiritual, in this case right, is seen in everything, i.e., when everything is made into a spectre and treated as a spectre.... It is human to regard the individual phenomenon not as an individual, but as a universal phenomenon” (pp. 368, 369).
Thus once again the whole mischief arises from the faith of individuals in the conception of right, which they ought to get out of their heads. Saint Sancho only knows “things” and “egos”, and as regards anything that does not come under these headings, as regards all relations, he knows only the abstract concepts of them, which for him, therefore, also become “spectres”. “On the other hand”, it does dawn on him at times that all this is “nothing but a delusion” and that the “power of the individual” very much depends on whether others combine their power with his. But in the final analysis everything is nevertheless reduced to the “illusion” that individuals “believe that they cannot take back their power”. Once again the railways do not “actually” belong to the shareholders, but to the statutes. Sancho immediately puts forward the right of inheritance as a striking example. He explains it not from the necessity for accumulation and from the family which existed before right, but from the juridical fiction of the prolongation of power beyond death. However, the more feudal society passes into bourgeois society, the more is this juridical fiction itself abandoned by the legislation of all countries. (Cf., for example, the Code Napoléon.) There is no need to show here that absolute paternal power and primogeniture — both natural feudal primogeniture and the later form — were based on very definite material relations. The same thing is to be found among ancient peoples in the epoch of the disintegration of the community in consequence of the development of private life (the best proof of this is the history of the Roman right of inheritance). In general, Sancho could not have chosen a more unfortunate example than the right of inheritance, which in the clearest possible way shows the dependence of right on the relations of production. Compare, for example, Roman and German right of inheritance. Certainly, no dog has ever made phosphorus, bone-meal or lime out of a bone, any more than it has ever “got into its head” anything about its “right” to a bone; equally, it has never “entered the head” of Saint Sancho to reflect whether the right to a bone which people, but not dogs, claim for themselves, is not connected with the way in which people, but not dogs, utilise this bone in production. In general, in this one example we have before us Sancho’s whole method of criticism and his unshakeable faith in current illusions. The hitherto existing production relations of individuals are bound also to be expressed as political and legal relations. (See above a) Within the division of labour these relations are bound to acquire an independent existence over against the individuals. All relations can be expressed in language only in the form of concepts. That these general ideas and concepts are looked upon as mysterious forces is the necessary result of the fact that the real relations, of which they are the expression, have acquired independent existence. Besides this meaning in everyday consciousness, these general ideas are further elaborated and given a special significance by politicians and lawyers, who, as a result of the division of labour, are dependent on the cult of these concepts, and who see in them, and not in the relations of production, the true basis of all real property relations. Saint Sancho, who takes over this illusion without examination, is thus enabled to declare that property by right is the basis of private property, and that the concept of right is the basis of property by right, after which he can restrict his whole criticism to declaring that the concept of right is a concept, a spectre. That is the end of the matter for Saint Sancho. To set his mind at rest, we can add that in all the early law books the behaviour of two dogs who have found a bone is regarded as right: vim vi repellere licere [it is permissible to repel force by force], say the Pandects ; idque jus nature comparatur [and this right is fixed by nature], by which is meant jus quod nature omnia animalia (people and dogs) docuit [a right which nature has taught all living beings]; but that later it is “just” the organised repulsion of force by force that becomes right.
Saint Sancho, who is now well under way, proves his erudition in the field of the history of right by disputing a “bone” with Proudhon.
Proudhon, he says, “tries to humbug us into believing that society is the original possessor and sole owner of imprescriptible right; that the so-called owner has committed theft with regard to society; that if society takes from any present-day owner his property, it does not steal anything from him, for it is only asserting its imprescriptible right. That is where one can get with the spectre of society as a juridical person” (pp. 330, 331).
In contrast to this Stirner “tries to humbug us into believing” (pp. 340, 367, 420 and elsewhere) that we, viz., the propertyless, presented the owners with their property,, out of ignorance, cowardice or good nature, etc., and he calls on us to take back our gift. The difference between these two “attempts at humbugging” is that Proudhon bases himself on a historical fact, while Saint Sancho has only “got something into his head” in order to give the matter a new turn”. For recent investigations into the history of right have established that both in Rome and among the German, Celtic and Slay peoples the development of property had as its starting-point communal or tribal property and that private property strictly speaking arose everywhere by usurpation; Saint Sancho could of course not extract this from the profound idea that the concept of right is a concept. In relation to the legal dogmatists, Proudhon was perfectly right when he stressed this fact and in general combated them by means of their own premises. “That is where one can get with the spectre” of the concept of right as a concept. Proudhon could only have been attacked on account of his proposition quoted above if he had defended the earlier and cruder form of property against the private property that had developed out of this primitive communal system. Sancho sums up his criticism of Proudhon in the arrogant question:
“Why such a sentimental appeal for sympathy as if he were a poor victim of robbery?” (p. 420).
Sentimentality, of which, incidentally, not a trace is to be found in Proudhon, is only permitted towards Maritornes. Sancho really imagines that he is a “whole fellow” compared with such a believer in apparitions as Proudhon. He considers his inflated bureaucratic style, of which even Frederick William IV would be ashamed, to be revolutionary. “Blessed are those that believe.”
On page 340 we learn:
“All the attempts to enact rational laws about property proceeded from the bay of love into a barren ocean of definitions.”
A fitting companion to this is the equally bizarre statement:
“Intercourse hitherto has been based on love, on considerate behaviour, on care for one another” (p. 385).
Saint Sancho here surprises himself with a striking paradox about right and intercourse. If, however, we recall that by “love” he understands love of “Man”, love of something existing in and for itself, of the universal, that by love he understands the relation to an individual or thing regarded as essence, the holy, then this appearance of brilliance is dissipated. The oracular utterances quoted above are then reduced to the old trivialities which have bored us throughout the “book”, i.e., that two things, about which Sancho knows nothing, viz., in this case hitherto existing right and hitherto existing intercourse, are “the holy”, and that in general only “concepts have ruled the world” up to now. The relation to the holy, as a rule called “respect”, can on occasion also be entitled “love”. (See “Logic”.)
Just one example of how Saint Sancho transforms legislation into a love relation, and trade into a love-affair:
“In a Registration Bill for Ireland, the government put forward the proposal to give the suffrage to those who pay a tax of £5 for the poor. Consequently one who gives alms acquires political rights or, elsewhere, becomes a Knight of the Swan” (p. 344).
It is to be noted here first of all that this “Registration Bill” granting “political rights” was a municipal or corporation Bill or, in more comprehensible language to Sancho, an “urban regulation”, which was not designed to grant “political rights” but only urban rights, the right to elect local officials. Secondly, Sancho, who translates McCulloch, surely ought to know quite well the meaning of “to be assessed to the poor-rates at five pounds”. [McCulloch, Statistical Account of the British Empire] This does not mean “to pay a tax of £5 for the poor”, but means to be entered on the list of those who pay this tax as the tenants of a house the annual rent of which amounts to £5. Our Berlin bonhomme does not know that the poor-rate in England and Ireland is a local tax which varies in amount in different towns and different years, so that it would be a sheer impossibility to connect any sort of right with the payment of a particular amount of tax. Finally, Sancho believes that the English and Irish poor-rate is an “alms”; whereas it only provides funds for a direct and open offensive war of the ruling bourgeoisie against the proletariat. It pays the cost of work-houses which, as is well known, are a Malthusian deterrent against pauperism. We see how Sancho “proceeds from the bay of love into a barren ocean of definitions”.
It may be remarked in passing that German philosophy, because it took consciousness alone as its point of departure, was bound to end in moral philosophy, where the various heroes squabble about true morals. Feuerbach loves man for the sake of man, Saint Bruno loves him because he “deserves” it (Wigand, p. 137 [Bruno Bauer, “Charakteristic Ludwig Feuerbachs"]), while Saint Sancho loves “everyone”, because he likes to do so, with the consciousness of egoism (“the book”, p. 387).
We have already seen above — in the first treatise — how the small landed proprietors respectfully excluded themselves from large landed property. This self-exclusion from other people’s property, out of respect, is depicted in general as the characteristic of bourgeois property. From this characteristic Stirner is able to explain to himself why it is that
“within the bourgeois system, in spite of its implication that everyone should be an owner, the majority have practically nothing” (p. 348). This “occurs because the majority are pleased if they are owners at all, even if they are merely owners of a few rags” (p. 349).
That the “majority” possess only “a few rags”, Szeliga regards as a perfectly natural consequence of their love of rags.
Page 343: “Am I thus nothing but an owner? No, hitherto a person was merely an owner, secure in possession of a plot of land by allowing others also to possess their plot; now, however, everything belongs to me. I am the owner of everything that I need and can take possession of.”
Just as Sancho previously made small landed proprietors respectfully exclude themselves from large landed property, and now makes the small landed proprietors exclude one another, so he could go into more detail and make respect responsible for the exclusion of commercial property from landed property, of industrial property from commercial property proper, etc., and thus arrive at a totally new political economy on the basis of the holy. He has only then to get respect out of his head in order to abolish at one stroke division of labour and the form of property that arises from it. Sancho gives an example of this new political economy on page 128 of “the book”, where he buys a needle not from a shopkeeper a but from respect, and not with money paid to the shopkeeper, but with respect paid to the needle. Incidentally, the dogmatic self-exclusion of each individual from other people’s property which Sancho attacks is a purely juridical illusion. Under the modern mode of production and intercourse each person delivers a blow at this illusion and directs his efforts precisely to excluding all others from the property that at present belongs to them. How the matter stands with regard to Sancho’s “property in everything” is clear enough from the supplementary clause: “that I need and can take possession of “ He explains this in more detail on page 353:
“If I say: the world belongs to me, then, properly speaking, this too is empty talk, which has meaning only insofar as I do not respect any property of others”;
that is insofar as non-respect of the property of others constitutes his property.
What irks Sancho about the. private property that is so dear to him is precisely its exclusiveness, without which it would be nonsense — the fact that besides him there are also other private owners. For the private property of others is something holy. We shall see how in his “union” he gets over this inconvenience. We shall find that his egoistical property, property in the extraordinary sense, is nothing but ordinary or bourgeois property transfigured by his sanctifying fantasy.
Let us conclude with the following wisdom of Solomon:
“If people reach a stage where they lose respect for property, then each will possess property ... then [in this matter, too, unions will augment the means of the individual and safeguard his contested property” (p. 342)].”
[Four pages of the manuscript are missing here ... Treatise No. 3. On competition in the ordinary and extraordinary sense.]
One morning the writer of these lines, in suitable attire, went to see Herr Minister Eichhorn:
“Since things have come to nothing with the factory-owner” (for the Finance Minister had given him neither a site nor funds to build a factory of his own, and the Minister of justice had not given him permission to take the factory away from the factory-owner — see above on bourgeois property) “I will compete with this professor of law; the man is a blockhead, and I, who know a hundred times more than he does, will take his audience away from him.” — “But, my friend, did you study at a university and get a degree?” — “No, but what of that? I fully understand all that is necessary for teaching.” — “I'm sorry, but in this matter there is no free competition. I have nothing against you personally, but the essential thing is lacking — a doctor’s diploma — and I, the state, demand it.” — “So that is the freedom of competition,” sighed the author. “Only the state, my master, gives me the possibility of competing.” Whereupon he returned home downcast (p. 347).
In a more advanced country it would not have occurred to him to ask the state for permission to compete with a professor of law. But once he turns to the state as an employer and asks for remuneration, i.e., wages, thus entering the sphere of competition, then of course after his previous treatises about private property and privati, communal property, the proletariat, lettres patentes, the state and status, etc., one cannot suppose that his “solicitation will be successful”. Judging by his past feats, the state can at best appoint him as custodian (custos) of “the holy” on some domanial estate in the backwoods of Pomerania.
By way of amusement we can “insert” here “episodically” Sancho’s great discovery that there is no “other difference” between the “poor” and the “rich” “than that between the resourceful [vermögende] and the resourceless [unvermögende]” (p. 354).
Let us plunge once more into the “barren ocean” of Stirner’s “definitions” of competition:
“Competition is connected less” (Oh, “less"!) “with the intention of doing a thing as well as possible, than with the intention of making it as profitable, lucrative, as possible. For that reason people study for the sake of a post (bread-and-butter study), cultivate obsequiousness and flattery, routine and knowledge of business; they work for appearance. Hence while apparently it is a matter of a good performance, in reality people aim only at a good stroke of business and monetary gain. Of course, no one wants to be a censor, but people want to get advancement ... people are afraid of being transferred or even more of being dismissed” (pp. 354, 355).
Let our bonhomme discover a textbook on political economy where even theoreticians assert that in competition it is a matter of a “good performance” or “of doing a thing as well as possible” and not of making “it as profitable as possible”. Incidentally, in any such book he will find it stated that under the system of private property highly developed competition, for example in England, certainly causes a “thing” to be “done as well as possible”. Small-scale commercial and industrial swindling flourishes only in conditions of restricted competition, among the Chinese, Germans and Jews, and in general among hawkers and small shopkeepers. But even hawking is not mentioned by our saint; he only knows the competition of supernumerary officials and school-masters on probation, he reveals himself here as a downright royal-Prussian junior official. He might just as well have given as an example of competition the endeavour of courtiers in every age to win the favour of their sovereign, but that lay much too far beyond his petty-bourgeois field of vision.
After these tremendous adventures with supernumerary officials, salaried accountants and registrars, Saint Sancho experiences his great adventure with the famous horse Clavileño, of which the prophet Cervantes has already spoken in the New Testament, Chapter 41. For Sancho mounts the high horse of political economy and determines the minimum wage by means of “the holy”. True, here once again he reveals his innate timidity and at first refuses to mount the flying steed that carries him far above the clouds into the region “where hail and snow, thunder, lightning and thunderbolts are engendered”. But the “Duke”, i.e., the “state”, encourages him and as soon as the bolder and more experienced Szeliga-Don Quixote has swung himself into the saddle, our worthy Sancho climbs behind him on to the horse’s crupper. And when Szeliga’s hand had turned the peg on the horse’s head, the horse soared high into the air and all the ladies — especially Maritornes — cried after them: “May egoism in agreement with itself guide you, valiant knight, and you, still more valiant armour-bearer, and may you succeed in liberating us from the spectre of Malambruno, of ‘the holy’. Only keep your balance, valiant Sancho, so that you do not fall and suffer the same fate as Phaeton, when he wanted to drive the chariot of the sun.”
“If we assume” (he is already wavering hypothetically) “that just as order belongs to the essence of the state, subordination too is based on its nature” (a pleasant modulation between “essence” and “nature” — the “goats” which Sancho observed during his flight), “then we observe that the underprivileged are excessively overcharged and defrauded by the inferior” (it should probably read superior) “or privileged” (p. 357).
“If we assume ... then we observe.” It should read: then we assume. If we assume that “superior” and “inferior” exist in the state, then “we assume” likewise that the former are “privileged” compared with the latter. We can, however, ascribe the stylistic beauty of this sentence, as also the sudden recognition of the “essence” and “nature” of a thing, to the timidity and confusion of our Sancho while anxiously trying to retain his balance during his aerial flight, and to the rockets set alight under his nose. We are not even surprised that Saint Sancho derives the consequences of competition not from competition but from bureaucracy, and once again makes the state determine wages.
He does not take into consideration that the continual fluctuations in wages explode the whole of his beautiful theory; a closer examination of industrial conditions would certainly have provided him with examples of a factory-owner being “overcharged” and “defrauded” by his workers according to the universal laws of competition, if these juridical and moral expressions had not lost all meaning within the framework of competition.
The dwarfish form to which competition has shrunk for Sancho once again demonstrates the naive and petty-bourgeois manner in which world-embracing relations are reflected inside his unique skull, and the extent to which he as a school-master is bound to extract moral applications from all these relations and to refute them with moral postulates. We must give this precious passage in extenso “so that nothing should be lost”.
“As regards competition again, it exists precisely because not all persons attend to their business and come to an understanding with one another about it. Thus, for example, bread is needed by all the inhabitants of a town; hence they could easily come to an agreement to establish a public bakery. Instead, they leave the supply of bread to competing bakers. Similarly, they leave the supply of great to the butchers, of wine to the wine merchants, etc.... If I do not concern myself with my business, then I have to be content with what it suits others to offer me. To have bread is my business, my wish and desire, and yet people leave it to the bakers, and hope at most, thanks to their contention, rivalry and their attempts to outstrip one another, in a word, thanks to their competition, to get an advantage which people could not count on under the guild-system, when the right to bake bread belonged wholly and solely to the guilds-men” (p. 365).
It is characteristic of our petty bourgeois that he here recommends to his fellow-philistines, in place of competition, an institution like public bakeries, which existed in many places under the guild-system and which were put an end to by the cheaper competitive mode of production. That is to say, he recommends an institution of a local nature, which could only persist under narrowly restricted conditions and was inevitably bound to perish with the rise of competition, which abolished local narrowness. He has not even learned from competition that the “need” of bread, for example, differs from day to day, that it does not at all depend on him whether tomorrow bread will still be “his business” or whether others will still regard his need as their business, and that within the framework of competition the price of bread is determined by the costs of production and not by the whim of the bakers. He ignores all those relations which were brought about by competition: the abolition of local narrowness, the establishment of means of communication, highly developed division of labour, world intercourse, the proletariat, machinery, etc., and regretfully looks back to medieval philistinism. All he knows about competition is that it is “contention, rivalry and attempts to outstrip one another”; he is not concerned about its connection with division of labour, the relation between supply and demand, etc. That the bourgeois, whenever their interests demanded it (and they are better judges of this than Saint Sancho), always “came to an understanding” insofar as this was possible in the framework of competition and private property, is proved by the joint-stock companies, which came into being with the rise of sea-borne trade and manufacture and took possession of all the branches of industry and commerce accessible to them. Such “agreements”, which led among other things to the conquest of an empire in the East Indies, are of course a small matter compared with the well-meaning fantasy about public bakeries, which is worthy of being discussed in the Vossische Zeitung.
As for the proletarians, they — at any rate in the modern form — first arose out of competition; they have already repeatedly set up collective enterprises which, however, always perished because they were unable to compete with the “contending” private bakers, butchers, etc., and because for proletarians — owing to the frequent opposition of interests among them arising out of the division of labour — no other “agreement” is possible than a political one directed against the whole present system. Where the development of competition enables the proletarians to “come to an understanding”, they reach an understanding not about public bakeries but about quite different matters. The lack of “agreement” between competing individuals that Sancho notes here entirely corresponds to and contradicts his further exposition of competition, which we can enjoy in the “Commentary” (Wigand, p. 173).
“Competition was introduced because it was looked upon as a blessing for all. People came to an agreement about it, attempts were made to approach it jointly ... people agreed about it in much the same way as on a hunting expedition all the hunters taking part... may find it expedient for their purpose to scatter in the forest and to hunt “singly..... True, it now turns out ... that in the case of competition not everyone gets ... his advantage.”
“It turns out” that Sancho knows as much about hunting as he knows about competition. He is not speaking about a battue nor about hunting with hounds, but about hunting in the extraordinary sense. It only remains for him to write a new history of industry and commerce according to the above principles, and to set up a “union” for this kind of extraordinary hunting.
In the same calm, comfortable style appropriate to a parish magazine he speaks of the relation of competition to morality.
“Those corporeal goods which man as such” (!) “cannot maintain, we have the right to take away from him: this is the meaning of competition, of freedom of industry. Any of the spiritual goods that he cannot maintain devolve likewise upon us. But sanctified goods are inviolable. Sanctified and guaranteed — by whom?... By man or the concept, the concept of the matter under consideration.” As such sanctified goods he cites “life”, “freedom of the person”, “religion”, “honour”, “sense of decency”, “sense of shame”, etc. ([Stirner, Der Einzige and sein Eigenthum,] p. 325).
In the advanced countries, Stirner “has the right” to take all these “sanctified goods”, although not from “man as such”, but from actual men, of course, by means of and under the conditions of competition. The great revolution of society brought about by competition, which resolved the relations of the bourgeois to one another and to the proletarians into purely monetary relations, and converted all the above-named “sanctified goods” into articles of trade, and which destroyed for the proletarians all naturally derived and traditional relations, e.g., family and political relations, together with their entire ideological superstructure — this mighty revolution did not, of course, originate in Germany. Germany played only a passive role in it; she allowed her sanctified goods to be taken from her without even getting the current price for them. Hence our German petty bourgeois knows only the hypocritical assertions of the bourgeoisie about the moral limits of competition observed by the bourgeoisie, which every day tramples underfoot the “sanctified goods” of the proletarians, their “honour”, “sense of shame” and “freedom of the person”, and which even deprives them of religious instruction. These would-be “moral limits” are regarded by Sancho as the true “meaning” of competition, and its reality is excluded from its meaning.
Sancho sums up the results of his investigation of competition as follows:
“Is the competition free which the state, this ruler, according to bourgeois principles, cramps by a thousand barriers?” (p. 347).
Sancho’s “bourgeois principles” of everywhere making the “state” the “ruler” and regarding the barriers of competition that arise from the mode of production and intercourse as barriers by which the state” “cramps” competition, are here once more proclaimed with suitable “indignation”.
“Recently” Saint Sancho has vaguely heard miscellaneous news “from France” (cf. Wigand, p. 190), inter alia, about the objectification of persons in competition and the difference between competition and emulation. But the “poor Berliner” has, “out of stupidity, spoilt these fine things” (Wigand, ibid., where it is his guilty conscience that speaks). “Thus, for example, he says” on page 346 of “the book":
“Is free competition actually free? Indeed, is it real competition, i.e., competition of persons, as it gives itself out to be, because it bases its right on this title?”
Madame Competition gives herself out to be something, because she (i.e., some lawyers, politicians and petty-bourgeois dreamers, trailing in the tail of her suite) bases bet, right on this title. With this allegory Sancho begins to adapt the “fine things” “from France” to suit the Berlin meridian. We shall skip the absurd assertion already dealt with above that “the state has no objection to make against me personally” and thus allows me to compete, but does not give me the “thing” (p. 347), and we shall pass straight on to his proof that competition is not at all a competition of persons.
“But is it persons who actually compete? No, it is again only things! In the first place — money, etc. There is always one who lags behind the other in the contest. But it makes a difference whether the means that are lacking can be gained through personal power or can only be obtained by grace, as a gift, and moreover by the poorer, for instance, being forced to leave, I.e., to present, his wealth to the richer” (p. 348).
As for the gift theory, we shall “spare him” [schenken] (Wigand, p. 190). Let him look up the chapter on “contract” in any textbook of law and find out whether a “gift” he is “forced to present” is still a gift. In this way, Stirner “presents” us with our criticism of his book, for he “is forced to leave, i.e., to present”, it to us.
The fact that of two competitors whose “things” are equal one ruins the other, does not exist for Sancho. That workers compete among themselves, although they possess no “things” (in Stirner’s sense) is also a fact that does not exist for him. By doing away with the competition of workers among themselves, he is fulfilling one of the most pious wishes of our “true socialists”, whose deepest thanks he is sure to receive. So it is “only things” and not “persons” that compete. Only weapons fight, not the people who use them, and who have learned to wield them. The people are only there to be shot dead. This is how the competitive struggle is reflected in the minds of petty-bourgeois school-masters who, faced with modern stock exchange barons and cotton-lords, console themselves with the thought that they only lack the “things” in order to bring their “personal power” to bear against them. This narrow-minded idea appears still more comic if one looks a little more closely at the “things” instead of restricting oneself to the commonest and most popular, e.g., “money (which, however, is not so popular as it seems). These “things” include, among others: that the competitor lives in a country and town, where he enjoys the same advantages as the competitors whom he encounters; that relations between town and countryside have reached an advanced stage of development, that he is competing under favourable geographical, geological and hydrographical conditions; that as a silk manufacturer he carries on his business in Lyons, as a cotton manufacturer in Manchester, or, in an earlier period, as a shipper in Holland; that division of labour in his branch of industry — as in other branches totally independent of him — has become highly developed; that the means of communication ensure him the same cheap transport as his competitors; and that he finds in existence skilful workers and experienced overseers. All these “things”, which are essential for competition and in general the ability to compete on the world market (which he does not know and cannot know because of his theory of the state and public bakeries, but which, unfortunately, determines competition and the ability to compete), are “things” that he can neither gain by personal power” nor “get presented” to him by “grace” of the “state” (cf. p. 348). The Prussian state, which attempted to “present” all this to the Seehandlung, could give him the best instruction or, that subject. Sancho appears here as the royal Prussian philosopher of the Seehandlung, by giving a detailed commentary. on the illusion of the Prussian state about its omnipotence and the illusion of the Seehandlung about its competitive capacity. Incidentally, competition certainly began as a “competition of persons” possessing “personal means”. The liberation of the feudal serfs, the first condition of competition, and the first accumulation of “things” were purely personal” acts. If, therefore, Sancho wishes to put the competition of persons In the place of competition of things, it means that he wishes to return to the beginning of competition, imagining in doing so that by his good will and his extraordinary egoistical consciousness, he can give a different direction to the development of competition.
This great man, for whom nothing is holy, and who is not interested in the “nature of things’ and the “concept of the relation”, has nevertheless in the end to declare the “nature” of the difference between personal and material to be holy, as also the concept of the relation,” between these two qualities and so renounce the role of “creator” in respect of them. The difference — regarded by him as holy — which he notes in the passage quoted, can nevertheless be abolished without thereby committing, the most unmitigated profanation”. Firstly, he, abolishes it himself by causing material means to be acquired through personal power and thus converts personal power into material power. He can then calmly address others with the moral postulate that they should adopt a personal attitude to him. In just the same way, the Mexicans could have demanded that the Spaniards should not shoot them with rifles but attack them with their fists or, according to Saint Sancho’s proposal, “seize them by the throat” in order to adopt a “personal” attitude to them.
If one person, thanks to good food, careful education and physical exercise, has acquired well-developed bodily powers and skill, while another, owing to inadequate and unhealthy food and consequent poor digestion, and as the result of neglect in childhood and over-exertion, has never been able to acquire the “things” necessary for developing his muscles — not to mention acquiring mastery over them — then the “personal power” of the first in relation to the second is a purely material one. It was not “through personal power” that he gained the “means that were lacking”; on the contrary, he owes his “personal power” to the material means already existing. Incidentally, the transformation of personal means into material means and of material means into personal means is only an aspect of competition and quite inseparable from it. The demand that competition should be conducted not with material means but with personal means amounts to the moral postulate that competition and the relations on which it depends should have consequences other than those inevitably arising from them.
Here is yet another, and this time the final summing-up of the philosophy of competition:
“Competition suffers from the drawback that not everyone has the means for competition, because these means are taken not from personality, but from chance. The majority are without means and therefore” (Oh, Therefore!) “impecunious” (p. 349).
It has already been pointed out to him that in competition personality itself is a matter of chance, while chance is personality. The “means” for competition which are independent of personality are the conditions of production and intercourse of the persons themselves, which within the framework of competition appear as an independent force in relation to these persons, as means which are accidental for them. The liberation of people from these forces comes about, according to Sancho, by people getting out of their heads the ideas about these forces, or rather the philosophical and religious distortions of these ideas — whether by etymological synonymy (“Vermögen” and “vermögen”), moral postulates (e.g., let each one be an all-powerful ego), or by making monkey faces and by sentimentally comic bragging against “the holy”.
We have heard the complaint made before that in present-day bourgeois society the “ego”, especially because of the state, cannot realise its value, i.e., cannot bring its “abilities” [ Vermögen] into play. Now we learn in addition that “peculiarity” does not give the “ego” the means for competition, that “its might” is no might at all and that it remains “impecunious”, although every object, “being its object, is also its property”. It is a complete denial of egoism in agreement with itself. But all these “drawbacks” of competition will disappear, once “the book” has become part of the general consciousness of people. Until then Sancho persists in his trade in thoughts, without however achieving a “good performance” or “doing things as well as possible”.