The Holy Family Chapter VI 3)
“Absolute Criticism” does not stop at proving by its autobiography its own singular almightiness which “properly speaking, first creates the old, just as much as the new”. It does not stop at writing in person the apology of its past. It now sets third persons, the rest of the secular world, the Absolute “Task”, the “task which is much more important now”, the apologia for Bauer’s deeds and “works”.
The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher published a criticism of Herr Bauer’s Die Judenfrage [K. Marx, On the Jewish Question]. His basic error, the confusion of “political” with “human emancipation”, was revealed. True, the old Jewish question was not first brought into its “correct setting”; the “Jewish question” was rather dealt with and solved in the setting which recent developments have given to old questions of the day, and as a result of which the latter have become “questions” of the present instead of “questions” of the past.
Absolute Criticism’s third campaign, it seems, is intended to reply to the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. First of all, Absolute Criticism admits:
“In Die Judenfrage the same ‘oversight’ was made — that of identifying the human with the political essence.”
“it would be too late to reproach criticism for the stand which it still maintained partially two years ago.” “The question is rather to explain why criticism ... even had to engage in politics.”
“Two years ago?” We must reckon according to the absolute chronology, from the birth of the Critical Redeemer of the world, Bauer’s Literatur-Zeitung! The Critical world redeemer was born anno 1843. In the same year the second, enlarged edition of Die Judenfrage was published. The “Critical” treatment of the ,Jewish question” in Einundzwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz appeared later in the same year, 1843 old style. After the end of the Deutsche Jahrbücher and the Rheinische Zeitung, in the same momentous year 1843 old style, or anno 1 of the Critical era, appeared Herr Bauer’s fantastic-political work Staat, Religion und Parthei, which exactly repeated his old errors on the “political essence”. The apologist is forced to falsify chronology.
The “explanation” why Herr Bauer “even had to” engage in politics is a matter of general interest only under certain conditions. If the infallibility, purity and absoluteness of Critical Criticism are assumed as basic dogma, then, of course, the facts contradicting that dogma turn into riddles which are just as difficult, profound and mysterious as the apparently ungodly deeds of God are for theologians.
If, on the other hand, “the Critic” is considered as a finite individual, if he is not separated from the limitations of his time, one does not have to answer the question why he had to develop even within the world, because the question itself does not exist.
If, however, Absolute Criticism insists on its demand, one can offer to provide a little scholastic treatise dealing with the following “questions of the times":
“Why had the Virgin Mary’s conception by the Holy Ghost to be proved by no other than Herr Bruno Bauer?” “Why had Herr Bauer to prove that the angel that appeared to Abraham was a real emanation of God, an emanation which, nevertheless, lacked the consistency necessary to digest food?” “Why had Herr Bauer to provide an apologia for the Prussian royal house and to raise the Prussian state to the rank of absolute state?” “Why had Herr Bauer, in his Kritik der Synoptiker, to substitute ‘infinite self-consciousness’ for man?” “Why had Herr Bauer in his Das entdeckte Christenthum to repeat the Christian theory of creation in a Hegelian form?” “Why had Herr Bauer to demand of himself and others an ‘explanation’ of the miracle that he was bound to be mistaken?”
While waiting for proofs of these necessities, which are just as “Critical” as they are “Absolute”, let us listen once more to “Criticism’s” apologetic evasions.
“The Jewish question ... had ... first to he brought into its correct setting, as a religious and theological and as a political question.” “As to the treatment and solution of both these questions, Criticism is neither religious nor political.”
The point is that the Deutsch-Französische-Jahrbücher declares Bauer’s treatment of the “Jewish question” to be really theological and fantastic-political.
First, “Criticism” replies to the “reproach” of theological limitation.
“The Jewish question is a religious question. The Enlightenment claimed to solve it by describing the religious contradiction as insignificant or even by denying it. Criticism, on the contrary, had to present it in its purity.”
When we come to the political part of the Jewish question we shall see that in politics, too, Herr Bauer the theologian is not concerned with politics but with theology.
But when the Deutsch-Französische-Jahrbücher attacked his treatment of the Jewish question as “purely religious”, it was concerned especially with his article in Einundzwanzig Bogen, the title of which was:
“Die Fähigkeit der hewigen Juden und Christen, frei zu werden”.
"The Ability of Present-Day Jews and Christians to obtain Freedom.”
This article has nothing to do with the old “Enlightenment” . It contains Herr Bauer’s positive view on the ability of the present-day Jews to be emancipated, that is, on the possibility of their emancipation.
“The Jewish question is a religious question.”
The question is: What is a religious question? and, in particular, what is a religious question today?
The theologian will judge by appearances and see a religious question in a religious question. But “Criticism” must remember the explanation it gave Professor Hinrichs that the political interests of the present time have social significance, that it is “no longer a question” of political interests.
The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher with equal right said to Criticism: Religious questions of the day have at the present time a social significance. It is no longer a question of religious interests as such. Only the theologian can believe it is a question of religion as religion. Granted, the Jahrbücher committed the error of not stopping at the word “social”. It characterised the real position of the Jews in civil society today. Once Jewry was stripped bare of the religious shell and its empirical, worldly, practical kernel was revealed, the practical, really social way in which this kernel is to be abolished could be indicated. Herr Bauer was content with a “religious question” being a “religious question”.
It was by no means denied, as Herr Bauer makes out, that the Jewish question is also a religious question. On the contrary, it was shown that Herr Bauer grasps only the religious essence of Jewry, but not the secular, real basis of that religious essence. He combats religious consciousness as if it were something independent. Herr Bauer therefore explains the real Jews by the Jewish religion, instead of explaining the mystery of the Jewish religion by the real Jews. Herr Bauer therefore understands the Jew only insofar as he is an immediate object of theology or a theologian.
Consequently Herr Bauer has no inkling that real secular Jewry, and hence religious Jewry too, is being continually produced by the present-day civil life and finds its final development in the money system. He could not have any inkling of this because he did not know Jewry as a part of the real world but only as a part of his world, theology; because he, a pious, godly man, considers not the active everyday Jew but the hypocritical Jew of the Sabbath to be the real Jew. For Herr Bauer, as a theologian of the Christian faith, the world-historic significance of Jewry had to cease the moment Christianity was born. Hence he had to repeat the old orthodox view that it has maintained itself in spite of history; and the old theological superstition that Jewry exists only as a confirmation of the divine curse, as a tangible proof of the Christian revelation had to recur with him in the Critical-theological form that it exists and has existed only as crude religious doubt about the supernatural origin of Christianity, i.e., as a tangible proof against Christian revelation.
On the other hand, it was proved that Jewry has maintained. itself and developed through history, in and with history, and that this development is to be perceived not by the eye of the theologian, but only by the eye of the man of the world, because it is to be found, not in religious theory, but only in commercial and industrial practice. It was explained why practical Jewry attains its full development only in the fully developed Christian world, why indeed it is the fully developed practice of the Christian world itself. The existence of the present-day Jew was not explained by his religion — as though this religion were something apart, independently existing — but the tenacious survival of the Jewish religion was explained by practical features of civil society which are fantastically reflected in that religion. The emancipation of the Jews into human beings, or the human emancipation of Jewry, was therefore not conceived, as by Herr Bauer, as the special task of the Jews, but as a general practical task of the present-day world, which is Jewish to the core. It was proved that the task of abolishing the essence of Jewry is actually the task of abolishing the Jewish character of civil society, abolishing the inhumanity of the present-day practice of life, the most extreme expression of which is the money system.
Herr Bauer, as a genuine, although Critical, theologian or theological Critic, could not get beyond the religious contradiction. In the attitude of the Jews to the Christian world he could see only the attitude of the Jewish religion to the Christian religion. He even had to restore the religious contradiction in a Critical way — in the antithesis between the attitudes of the Jew and the Christian to Critical religion — atheism, the last stage of theism, the negative recognition of God. Finally, in his theological fanaticism he had to restrict the ability of the “present-day Jews and Christians”, i.e., of the present-day world, “to obtain freedom” to their ability to grasp “the Criticism” of theology and apply it themselves. For the orthodox theologian the whole world is dissolved in “religion and theology”. (He could just as well dissolve it in politics, political economy, etc., and call theology heavenly political economy, for example, since it is the theory of the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of “spiritual wealth” and of the treasures of heaven!) Similarly, for the radical, Critical theologian, the ability of the world to achieve freedom, is dissolved in the single abstract ability to criticise “religion and theology” as “religion and theology”. The only struggle he knows is the struggle against the religious limitations of self-consciousness, whose Critical “purity” and “infinity” is just as much a theological limitation.
Herr Bauer, therefore, dealt with the religious and theological question in the religious and theological way, if only because he saw in the “religious” question of the time a “purely religious” question. His “correct setting of the question” set the question “correctly” only in respect of his “own ability” — to answer!
Let us now go on to the political part of the Jewish question.
The Jews (like the Christians) are fully politically emancipated in various states. Both Jews and Christians are far from being humanly emancipated. Hence there must be a difference between political and human emancipation. The essence of political emancipation, i.e., of the developed, modern state, must therefore be studied. On the other hand, states which cannot yet politically emancipate the Jews must be rated by comparison with the perfected political state and shown to be under-developed states.
That is the point of view from which the “political emancipation” of the Jews should have been dealt with and is dealt with in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.
Herr Bauer offers the following defence of “Criticism’s” Die Judenfrage.
“The Jews were shown that they laboured under an illusion about the system from which they demanded freedom.”
Herr Bauer did show that the illusion of the German Jews was to demand the right to partake in the political community life in a land where there was no political community and to demand political rights where only political privileges existed. On the other hand, Herr Bauer was shown that he himself, no less than the Jews, laboured under “illusions” about the “German political system”. For he explained the position of the Jews in the German states as being due to the inability of “the Christian state” to emancipate the Jews politically. Flying in the face of the facts, he depicted the state of privilege, the Christian-Germanic state, as the Absolute Christian state. It was proved to him, on the contrary, that the politically perfected, modern state that knows no religious privileges is also the fully developed Christian state, and that therefore the fully developed Christian state, not only can emancipate the Jews but has emancipated them and by its very nature must emancipate them.
.’the Jews are shown ... that they are under the greatest illusion about themselves when they think they are demanding freedom and the recognition of free humanity, whereas for them it is, and can be, only a question of a special privilege.”
Freedom! Recognition of free humanity! Special privilege! Edifying words by which to by-pass certain questions apologetically!
Freedom? it was a question of political freedom. Herr Bauer was shown that when the Jew demands freedom and nevertheless refuses to renounce his religion, he “is engaging in politics” and sets no condition that is contrary to political freedom. Herr Bauer was shown that it is by no means contrary to political emancipation to divide man into the non-religious citizen and the religious private individual. He was shown that just as the state emancipates itself from religion by emancipating itself from state religion and leaving religion to itself within civil society, so the individual emancipates himself politically from religion by regarding it no longer as a public matter but as a private matter. Finally, it was shown that the terroristic attitude of the French Revolution to religion, far from refuting this conception, bears it out.
Instead of studying the real attitude of the modern state to religion, Herr Bauer thought it necessary to imagine a Critical state, a state which is nothing but the Critic of theology inflated into a state in Herr Bauer’s imagination. If Herr Bauer is caught up in politics he continually makes politics a prisoner of his faith, Critical faith. Insofar as he deals with the state he always makes out of it an argument against “the adversary”, un-Critical religion and theology. The state acts as executor of Critical-theological cherished desires.
When Herr Bauer had first freed himself from orthodox, un-Critical theology, political authority took for him the place of religious authority. His faith in Jehovah changed into faith in the Prussian state. In Bruno Bauer’s work Die evangelische Landeskirche [B. Bauer, Die evangelische Landeskirche Preussens und die Wissenschaft], not only the Prussian state, but, quite consistently, the Prussian royal house too, was made into an absolute. In reality Herr Bauer had no political interest in that state; its merit, in the eyes of “Criticism”, was rather that it abolished dogmas by means of the Unified Church and suppressed the dissenting sects with the help of the police.
The political movement that began in the year 1840 redeemed Herr Bauer from his conservative politics and raised him for a moment to liberal politics. But here again politics was in reality only a pretext for theology. In his work Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit, the free state is the Critic of the theological faculty in Bonn and an argument against religion. In Die Judenfrage the contradiction between state and religion is the main interest, so that the criticism of political emancipation changes into a criticism of the Jewish religion. In his latest political work, Staat, Religion und Parthei, the most secret cherished desire of the Critic inflated into a state is at last expressed. Religion is sacrificed to the state or rather the state is only the means by which the opponent of “Criticism”, un-Critical religion and theology, is done to death. Finally, after Criticism has been redeemed, if only apparently, from all politics by the socialist ideas, which have been spreading in Germany from 1843 onwards, in the same way as it was redeemed from its conservative politics by the political movement after 1840, it is finally able to proclaim its writings against un-Critical theology to be social and to indulge unhindered in its own Critical theology, the contrasting of Spirit and Mass, as the annunciation of the Critical Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
Let us return to our subject!
Recognition of free humanity? “Free humanity”, recognition of which the Jews did not merely think they wanted, but really did want, is. the same “free humanity” which found classic recognition in the so-called universal rights of man. Herr Bauer himself explicitly treated the Jews’ efforts for recognition of their free humanity as their efforts to obtain the universal rights of man.
In the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher it was demonstrated to Herr Bauer that this “free humanity” and the “recognition” of it are nothing but the recognition of the egoistic civil individual and of the unrestrained movement of the spiritual and material elements which are the content of his life situation, the content of present-day civil life; that the rights of man do not, therefore, free man from religion, but give him freedom of religion; that they do not free him from property, but procure for him freedom of property; that they do not free him from the filth of gain, but rather give him freedom of gainful occupation.
It was shown that the recognition of the rights of man by the modern state has no other meaning than the recognition of slavery by the state of antiquity had. In other words, just as the ancient state had slavery as its natural basis, the modern state has as its natural basis civil society and the man of civil society, i.e., the independent man linked with other men ‘ only by the ties of private interest and unconscious natural necessity, the slave of labour for gain and of his own as well as other men’s selfish need. The modern state has recognised this its natural basis as such in the universal rights of man. It did not create it. As it was the product of civil society driven beyond the old political bonds by its own development, the modern state, for its part, now recognised the womb from which it sprang and its basis by the declaration of the rights of man. Hence, the political emancipation of the Jews and the granting to them of the “rights of man” is an act the two sides of which are mutually dependent. Herr Riesser correctly expresses the meaning of the Jews’ desire for recognition of their free humanity when he demands, among other things, the freedom of movement. sojourn, travel, earning one’s living, etc. These manifestations of “free humanity” are explicitly recognised as such in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. The Jew has all the more right to the recognition of his “free humanity” as “free civil society” is of a thoroughly commercial and Jewish nature, and the Jew is a necessary member of it. The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher further demonstrated why the member of civil society is called, par excellence, “Man” and why the rights of man are called “inborn rights”.
The only Critical thing Criticism could say about the rights of man was that they are not inborn but arose in the course of history. That much Hegel had already told us. Finally, to its assertion that both Jews and Christians, in order to grant or receive the universal rights of man, must sacrifice the privilege of faith — the Critical theologian supposes his one fixed idea at the basis of all things — there was specially counterposed the fact contained in all un-Critical declarations of the rights of man that the right to believe what one wishes, the right to practise any religion, is explicitly recognised as a universal right of man. Besides, “Criticism” should have known that Hébert’s party in particular was defeated on the pretext that it attacked the rights of man by attacking freedom of religion , and that similarly the rights of man were invoked later when freedom of worship was restored.
“As far as political essence is concerned, Criticism followed its contradictions to the point where the contradiction between theory and practice had been most thoroughly elaborated during the past fifty years — to the French representative system, in which the freedom of theory is disavowed by practice and the freedom of practical life seeks in vain its expression in theory.
“Now that the basic illusion has been done away with, the contradiction proved in the debates in the French Chamber, the contradiction between free theory and the practical validity of privileges, between the legal validity of privileges and a public system in which the egoism of the pure individual tries to dominate the exclusivity of the privileged, should be conceived as a general contradiction in this sphere.”
The contradiction that Criticism proved in the debates in the French Chamber was nothing but a contradiction of constitutionalism. Had Criticism grasped it as a general contradiction it would have grasped the general contradiction of constitutionalism. Had it gone still further than in its opinion it “should have” gone, had it, to be precise, gone as far as the abolition of this general contradiction, it would have proceeded correctly from constitutional monarchy to arrive at the democratic representative state, the perfected modern state. Far from having criticised the essence of political emancipation and proved its definite relation to the essence of man, it would have arrived only at the fact of political emancipation, at the fully developed modern state, that is to say, only at the point where the existence of the modern state conforms to its essence and where, therefore, not only the relative, but the absolute imperfections, those which constitute its very essence, can be observed and described.
The above-quoted “Critical” passage is all the more valuable as it proves beyond any doubt that at the very moment when Criticism sees the “political essence” far below itself, it is, on the contrary, far below the political essence; it still needs to find in the latter the solution of its own contradictions and it still persists in not giving a thought to the modern principle of the state.
To “free theory” Criticism contrasts the “practical validity of privileges”; to the “legal validity of privileges” it contrasts the “public system”.
In order not to misinterpret the opinion of Criticism, let us recall the contradiction it proved in the debates in the French Chamber, the very contradiction which “should have been conceived” as a general one. One of the questions dealt with was the fixing of a day in the week on which children would be freed from work. Sunday was suggested. One deputy moved to leave out mention of Sunday in the law as being unconstitutional. The Minister Martin (du Nord) saw in this motion an attempt to proclaim that Christianity had ceased to exist. Monsieur Crémieux declared on behalf of the French Jews that the Jews, out of respect for the religion of the great majority of Frenchmen, did not object to Sunday being mentioned. Now, according to free theory, Jews and Christians are equal, but according to this practice Christians have a privilege over Jews; for otherwise how could the Sunday of the Christians have a place in a law made for all Frenchmen? Should not the Jewish Sabbath have the same right, etc.? Or in the practical life of the French too, the Jew is not really oppressed by Christian privileges; but the law does not dare to express this practical equality. All the contradictions in the political essence expounded by Herr Bauer in Die Judenfrage are of this kind — contradictions of constitutionalism, which is, in general, the contradiction between the modern representative state and the old state of privileges.
Herr Bauer is committing a very serious oversight when he thinks he is rising from the political to the human essence by conceiving and criticising this contradiction as a “general” one. He would thus only rise from partial political emancipation to full Political emancipation, from the constitutional state to the democratic representative state.
Herr Bauer thinks that by the abolition of privilege the object of privilege is also abolished. Concerning the statement of Monsieur Martin (du Nord), he says:
“There is no longer any religion when there is no longer any privileged religion. Take from religion its exclusive power and it will no longer exist.”
Just as industrial activity is not abolished when the privileges of the trades, guilds and corporations are abolished, but, on the contrary, real industry begins only after the abolition of these privileges; just as ownership of the land is not abolished when privileged land-ownership is abolished, but, on the contrary, begins its universal movement only with the abolition of privileges and with the free division and free sale of land; just as trade is not abolished by the abolition of trade privileges, but finds its true realisation in free trade; so religion develops in its practical universality only where there is no privileged religion (cf. the North American States).
The modern “public system”, the developed modern state, is not based, as Criticism thinks, on a society of privileges, but on a society in which privileges have been abolished and dissolved, on developed civil society in which the vital elements which were still politically bound under the privilege system have been set free. Here no “privileged exclusivity,” stands opposed either to any other exclusivity or to the public system. Free industry and free trade abolish privileged exclusivity and thereby the struggle between the privileged exclusivities. They replace exclusivity with man freed from privilege — which isolates from the general totality but at the same time unites in a smaller exclusive totality — man no longer bound to other men even by the semblance of a common bond. Thus they produce the universal struggle of man against man, individual against individual. In the same way civil society as a whole is this war against one another of all individuals, who are no longer isolated from one another by anything but their individuality, and the universal unrestrained movement of the elementary forces of life freed from the fetters of privilege. ‘the contradiction between the democratic representative state and civil society is the completion of the classic contradiction between public commonweal and slavery. In the modern world each person is at the same time a member of slave society and of the public commonweal. Precisely the slavery of civil society is in appearance the greatest freedom because it is in appearance the fully developed independence of the individual, who considers as his own freedom the uncurbed movement, no longer bound by a common bond or by man, of the estranged elements of his life, such as property, industry, religion, etc., whereas actually this is his fully developed slavery and inhumanity. Law has here taken the place of privilege.
It is therefore only here, where we find no contradiction between free theory and the practical validity of privilege, but, on the contrary, the practical abolition of privilege, free industry, free trade, etc., conform to “free theory”, where the public system is not opposed by any privileged exclusivity, where the contradiction expounded by Criticism is abolished — only here is the fully developed modern state to be found.
Here also reigns the reverse of the law which Herr Bauer, on the occasion of the debates in the French Chamber, formulated in perfect agreement with Monsieur Martin (du Nord):
“Just as M. Martin (du Nord) saw the proposal to omit mention of Sunday in the law as a motion to declare that Christianity has ceased to exist, with equal reason (and this reason is very well founded) — the declaration that the law of the Sabbath is no longer binding on the Jews would he a proclamation abolishing Judaism.”
It is just the opposite in the developed modern state. The state declares that religion, like the other elements of civil life, only begins to exist in its full scope when the state declares it to be non-political and therefore leaves it to itself. To the dissolution of the political existence of these elements, as for example, the: dissolution of property by the abolition of the property qualification for electors, the dissolution of religion by the abolition of the state church, to this proclamation of their civil death corresponds their most vigorous life, which henceforth obeys its own laws undisturbed and develops to its full scope.
Anarchy is the law of civil society emancipated from divisive privileges, and the anarchy of. civil society is the basis of the modern public system, just as the public system in its turn is the guarantee of that anarchy. To the same great extent that the two are opposed to each other they also determine each other.
h is clear how capable Criticism is of assimilating the “new”. But if we remain within the bounds of “pure Criticism”, the question arises: Why did Criticism not conceive as a universal contradiction the contradiction which it disclosed in connection with the debates in the French Chamber, although in its own opinion that is what it “should have” been done?
“That step was, however, then impossible — not only because ... not only because ... but also because without that last remnant of inner involvement with its opposite Criticism was impossible and could not have come to the point from which only one step remained to be taken.” [Here and below quotations are taken from the article “Was ist jetzt der Gegenstand der Kritik?”, Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Heft VIII.]
It was impossible ... because ... it was impossible! Criticism assures us, moreover, that the fateful “one step” necessary .,to come to the point from which only one step remained to be taken” was impossible. Who will dispute that? In order to be able to come to a point from which only “one step” remains to be taken, it is absolutely impossible to take that “one step” more which leads over the point beyond which still “one step” remains to be taken.
All’s well that ends well! At the end of the encounter with the Mass, which is hostile to Criticism’s Die Judenfrage, “Criticism” admits that its conception of the “rights of man”, its
“appraisal of religion in the French Revolution”, the “free political essence it pointed to occasionally at the conclusion of its considerations”, in short, the whole ‘.period of the French Revolution, was for Criticism neither more nor less than a symbol — that is to say, not the period of the revolutionary efforts of the French in the exact and prosaic sense — a symbol and therefore only a fantastic expression of the shapes which it saw at the end”.
We shall not deprive Criticism of the consolation that when it sinned politically it did so only at the “conclusion” and at the “end” of its works. A notorious drunkard used to console himself with the thought that he was never drunk before midnight.
In the sphere of the “Jewish question”, Criticism has indisputably been winning more and more ground from the Enemy. In No. 1 of the “Jewish question”, the treatise of “Criticism” defended by Herr Bauer was still absolute and revealed the “true” and “general” significance of the “Jewish question”. In No. 2 Criticism had neither the “will” nor the “right” to go beyond Criticism. In No. 3 it had still to take “one step”, but that step was “impossible” — because it was — “impossible”. It was not its “will or right” but its involvement in its “opposite” that prevented it from taking that one step”. It would very much have liked to clear the last obstacle, but unfortunately a last remnant of Mass stuck to its Critical seven-league boots.