Moses Hess 1845
Source: Rheinische Jarhrbücher zur gesellschaftlichen Reform, Darmstadt, 1845;
Transcribed: by Adam Buick.
Commerce has set the mark of selfishness,
The signet of its all-enslaving power
Upon a shining ore, and called it gold:
Before whose image bow the vulgar great,
The vainly rich, the miserable proud,
The mob of peasants, nobles, priests and kings,
And with blinding feelings reverence the power
That grinds them to the dust of misery.
But in the temple of their hireling hearts
Gold is a living god ... (V, lines 53-62)
All things are sold: the very light of Heaven
Is venal; earth’s unsparing gifts of love,
The smallest and most despicable things
That lurk in the abysses of the deep,
All objects of our life, even life itself,
And the poor pittance which the laws allow
Of liberty, the fellowship of man,
Those duties which his heart of human love
Should urge him to perform instinctively,
Are bought and sold as in a public mart
Of undisguising selfishness, that sets
On each its price, the stamp mark of her reign.
Even love is sold; the solace of all woe
Is turned to deadliest agony, old age
shivers in selfish beauty’s loathing arms ... (V, lines 177-188)
But hoary headed Selfishness has felt
Its death blow and is tottering to the grave:
A brighter morn awaits the human day,
When every transfer of earth’s natural gifts
Shall be a commerce of good words and works;
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,
The fear of infamy, disease and woe,
War with its million horrors, and fierce heel
Shall live but in the memory of Time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,
Look back, and shudder at his younger days. (V, lines 249-259)
(Shelley, Queen Mab)
Life is exchange of creative life-activity. The body of each living being, i.e., of the animal, the plant, the individual man, is the medium of its life because this is the medium of the exchange of the creative life-activity of this or any being, its inalienable means of life, hence those organs of the body which are the central points of the exchanges are also its noblest, most inalienable organs, i.e., the brain and the heart. What holds good for the bodies of the smallest units holds also for those of the largest and also for the unconscious so-called earthly bodies as for the conscious so-called social bodies. The atmosphere of the Earth, the inalienable medium of the exchange of earthly productions, is the element of earthly life; the sphere in which men exchange their social life-activity with each other - namely intercourse (Verkehr) in society - is the inalienable element of social life. Single men behave as conscious and consciously acting individuals here in the sphere of the exchange of their social life, just as they behave as unconscious individuals, as bodies, in the sphere of their bodily life-activity, in the atmosphere of the Earth. They can as little live if separated from the medium of their social life than they can live bodily if separated from the medium of their bodily life-activity - than if their life-air is taken from them. They behave with regard to the whole social body in the same way that the individual members and organs behave with regard to the body of a single individual. They die if they are separated from each other. Their real life consists only in collaboration, only in connexion with the whole social body.
The mutual exchange of individual life-activity, the intercourse, the mutual stimulation of individual powers, this collaboration is the real essence of individuals, their real capacity (Vermogen). They cannot realise, make use of, exercise, activate their powers, they do not bring them to life, or (if they have brought them to life) they die out again, if they do not mutually exchange their life-activity in intercourse with the fellow-members of the same community or with the parts of the same body. As the Earth’s air is the workplace of the Earth so is the intercourse of men the human workplace in which individual men come to the realisation, to the exercise of their real life or capacity. The stronger their intercourse, the stronger also is their creative power and as long as their intercourse is restricted so too is their creative power. Without their life-medium, without exchange of their individual powers, individuals do not live. The intercourse of men does not arise from their essence; it is their real essence and is indeed not only their theoretical essence, their real life-consciousness, but also their practical, their real life- activity. Thinking and doing only arise from the intercourse, the collaboration of individuals, and what is called the mystical “Spirit” is just this life-air, this workplace, this collaboration of ours. Any free activity - and there is no other since free activity that a being does not draw out of himself and so bring it about freely is not a free activity at all, at least not his but that of another being - so, any real, practical as well as theoretical life-activity is a species-act, a collaboration of different individuals. These collaborations above all realise the creative power and are therefore the real essence of each individual.
The human essence, human intercourse, develops, as any essence, in the course of a history through many struggles and destructions. The real essence, the collaboration of individuals of the human species, had, as all reality, a development or creation history. The social world, human organisation, had its natural history, its genesis, its history of creation, as any other world, as any other organic body. But the natural history of mankind began when that of the Earth had fully developed, when the Earth had already produced its last and highest organisation, the human body, and thus with it all its bodily organisation. The natural history of the Earth which, according to the views of the geologists, lasted for many millions of years and has been over and ended for many thousands of years; the Earth is fully developed. The natural history of mankind conversely is not yet ended; we still live in its struggles. Mankind is not yet fully developed, but its full development is near. We already see in the distance the promised land of organised mankind; we can already reach it with our eyes, this land of promise to which the whole history of mankind up till now points - although we cannot yet tread on it with our feet. It is false to see in the full development of the natural history of, in the end of the history of the creation of mankind the end of mankind itself, its “Doomsday” - an optical illusion to which were subject those who could think of no other reality than the existing one, even though they were not satisfied with it and so wanted another, and who see in the fall of their bad and in the rise of a better world the destruction of the world and the approach of the hereafter. Are also subject to the illusions of “Doomsday” those who do not believe in a better hereafter but who do not believe either in a better life in this world down here than exists at present, who make theirs the Christian dogma of the imperfection of life in this world down here but without accepting the consolation of the hereafter, who dream of infinite progress and accept no other end, no other completion, for it than death or some lifeless ghost which they call “Spirit.” The philosophers too belong to those who can imagine no other reality than the existing one; they belong to those antediluvian species who see in the fall of the old world only their own fall and in the completed organisation of mankind only death - because a correct instinct tells them that they themselves are an integral part of the old, decadent and bad, reality. If the antediluvian monsters that the Earth produced before its completion, before its maturity, in its growing-up years, had had consciousness they would have reasoned and boasted in the same way as our philosophers, theologians and priests. They too would not have believed in any superior creations, in any completed earthly forms, in men; they too would have believed that they saw coming in the decline of the vermin of the primitive world the fall of the world. But as little as the end of the Earth came with its completed condition which was rather the beginning of its real life, so little comes the end of mankind with its completed condition, i.e., with its perfection; on the contrary it is its true beginning.
A necessity in human development, in the formation or natural history, necessary in the creation of men, is their mutual destruction arising from the contradiction of their intercourse in the midst of their isolation. The history of the creation of the human essence, of mankind, appears first as a self-destruction of this essence. Men already sacrificed themselves to their heavenly and earthly idols long before there was a heavenly and earthly, religious and political economy to justify it. They destroyed themselves because in the beginning they could only maintain themselves as isolated individuals, because they could not collaborate harmoniously as members of one and the same organic whole, as members of mankind. If an organised exchange of products, an organised activity, a collaboration of all had already been possible straightaway men would not have needed to wrest or acquire as isolated individuals on their own account their material and spiritual needs through naked force or refined deceit; they would not have had to seek their spiritual and material goods outside themselves, they would have formed themselves by themselves, that is to say they could have exercised their faculties in community. But this amounts to saying that if men had come into the world as a formed human essence they would not have needed to pass through a period of formation. In other words, if mankind had not begun with isolated individua1s men would not have had to fight their way through egoistic struggles to obtain their still extraneous (fremd) and exterior goods. At the end of these brutal struggles for our own essence, now that our essence is formed at least theoretically, we can indeed conceive of and bring into being a human society without self-destruction, a reasonable, organic, human society with many-sided, harmonious collaborating productions, with many-sided organised spheres of activity corresponding to the various life-aims, the many-sided activities of men, so that each formed man can freely exercise his faculties and talents according to his vocation and inclination. This is possible now since now the human capacity, the human essence (the production and communication of the consumption of products for the purpose of further production) has developed to excess. Natural forces no longer stand opposed to man as extraneous and hostile; he knows them and uses them for human ends. Men themselves are drawing closer every day. The barriers of space and time, religion and nationalism, the barriers of individuals are crashing down together, to the terror of the narrow-minded but to the delight of the enlightened friends of: man! We need do no more than .recognise the surrounding light of freedom, no more than dismiss the nightwatchman, so as to be able to all clasp hands joyously. Yes, now mankind is major; nothing prevents it from at last coming into its heritage, the fruit of many thousands of years’ slave labour and e1emental struggles! Indeed its present misery itself proves this most convincingly; for it is not the consequence of the shortage, but of the excess of productive capacities. England penetrates into the most remote parts of the Earth in search of consumers, but the whole Earth is or soon will be too small a market for its products which constantly rise in geometric progression while its consumers increase in arithmetic. progression so that the Malthusian theory -according to which, as is known, the consumers should increase in geometric and the products in arithmetic progression - is in actual fact the opposite of the truth. Yes, men are now ripe for the total enjoyment of their freedom or their life. This was not so at the beginning. The productive capacity of men had first to be formed, the human essence had to be developed. To begin with there were only raw individuals, when the simple elements of mankind which either had not yet come into contact with each other and, like the plants, obtained their nourishment, their bodily life-needs, quite directly from the Earth or they only came into contact with each other by exchanging their forces in a brutal, animal-like struggle. The first form of the exchange of products, of intercourse, could thus only be robbery with murder (Raubmord), and the first form of human activity could only be slave labour. On this still uncontested basis of historical right no organised exchange could occur: there could only be a sell-off (Verschacherung) of products - which is therefore what occurred. The laws resting on this historical basis have only regulated robbery with murder and slavery, they have only raised to a rule, to a principle what was an the beginning only contingent, unconscious and involuntary. History up to now is nothing other than the history of the regulation, the justification, the completion and the generalisation of robbery with murder and slavery. How finally it has come to this that we all without exception and at every moment sell off our activity, our creative power, our capacity -- how the cannibalism, the mutual robbery with murder and slavery, with which the history of mankind had begun has been raised to a princip1e - and how first and foremost the organic community can arise from this general exploitation and universal servitude, that shall be demonstrated in what follows.
The individual raised to an end, the species degraded to a means; that is the inversion of human and natural life in general. Man consciously sacrifices his individual life to the life of the species if they both enter into collision. Even non-thinking beings, the animals, who feel forget their instinct, their drive for self-preservation when this comes into collision with their species-essence or creative instinct. Love, wherever it also appears, is more powerful than egoism. The hen goes into an unequal fight if she must defend her chicks against attack. Cats voluntarily go hungry for days on end to satisfy their species instinct and by grief over the loss of their young which are habitually. taken from them by cruel men. Nature is only always concerned with self-creation, with the preservation of the life of the species, of actual life-activity. Individuals always die in the natural world and they only commence to die off from the moment when they have ceased to be capable of procreation. Indeed with many individuals of the animal world the day of marriage is the day of death. With man who can perform a species-act through thinking, feeling and willing the gradual dwindling of all its spiritual forces is a sure herald of his natural death. The natural conception of the world which sees life itself in the species and the means to life in the individual bases itself on this world order. The inverted conception of the world reigns rather in the condition of egoism because this condition is itself an inverted world. For our philistines, our Christian shopkeepers (Krämer) and our Jewish Christians the individual is the end, the life of the species being rather the means to life. They have created for themselves a world apart. The classic theoretical form of this inverted world is the Christian heaven. In the real world the individual dies; in the Christian heaven he lives for ever. In the real world the species acts in and through the individual; in heaven the essence of the species, God, lives outside the individuals and these are not the medium through which God lives and through which the essence of the species lives but, conversely, the individual lives by means of God. The essence of the species is here degraded to the means for the life of the individual. The Christian “I” needs his God; he needs him for his individual existence, for his holy and immortal soul, for the salvation of his soul! “If I did not hope to participate in immortality, I would care neither about God nor about the whole of dogmatics.” The whole essence of Christianity is contained in these few words from a very pious man. Christianity is the theory, the logic of egoism. Conversely the classic ground of egoistic practice is the modern Christian world of shopkeepers (Krämerwelt): here also is a heaven, a fiction, an imaginary and pretended benefit for the life of the individual, derived from the sick egoistic madness of depraved mankind. The individual who wants to live not through himself for the species, but through the species for himself alone, must create practically an inverted world. In our world of shopkeepers the individual is practically, just as in the Christian heaven he is theoretically, the end and the species only the means to life. Here also the life of the species does not manifest itself through the individual; here as in heaven the life of the species is placed outside of individuals and degraded to a means; here there is money. What God is to the theoretical life, money is to the practical life in this inverted world: the externalised (entäussert) capacity of men, their sold-off life-activity. Money is human value expressed in figures; it is the mark of our slavery, the indelible brand of our servitude. Money is the congealed blood sweat of the miserable wretches who bring to market their inalienable property, their most personal capacity, their life-activity itself, to barter it for a caput mortuum, a so-called capital and to consume cannibalistically their own fat. And all of us, we are these miserable wretches! We can indeed emancipate ourselves theoretically from the inverted consciousness of the world; but as long as we are not also out of this inverted world practically we must, as the proverb says, howl with the wolves. Yes, we must constantly alienate (veräussen) our essence, our life, our own free life-activity, in order to eke out our miserable existence. We constantly buy our own individual existence at the loss of our freedom. And of course it is not just us proletarians but also us capitalists who are these miserable wretches who suck their blood and eat themselves. All of us, we cannot freely act our life, nor can we create or work for each other. We all can only eat up our life; we can only mutually devour each other if we don’t want to die of starvation. For this money which we eat up and which we work to acquire is our own flesh and blood which in its externalisation (Entäusserung) must be acquired, captured and eaten up. We are all - this we are not allowed to hide from ourselves - cannibals, beasts of prey, bloodsuckers. We are so as long as we don’t act all for others, but have to gain our living each for himself.
Money is, according to the principles of political economy, the general means of exchange, thus the medium of life, the human capacity, the real creative power, the real wealth of mankind. If this externalised wealth really corresponded to intrinsic wealth then each man would be worth exactly as much as the cash or money values that he owned - just as a consistent theology values a man by the extent of his orthodoxy, so a consistent economics values him by the weight of his purse. But in fact economics like theology is not at all concerned with men. Economics is the science of the acquisition of earthy goods just as theology is the science of the acquisition of heavenly goods. But men are not goods! For the purely “scientific” economist and theologian men have no value. Where conversely both these holy sciences are applied, thus in the practice of our modern world of shopkeepers, man is really only valued according to his pursue, just as in the practice of the Christian Middle Ages, which still flourishes in part, man was only judged according to his professions of faith.
Money is the product of mutually estranged (entfremdet) man, of externalised man. Money is not the “noble metal” - we now have paper money, State money and bank money than metallic money. Money is what has come to pass for human creative power, the real life-activity of the human essence. Hence capital is, according to the definition of political economy, accumulated, piled-up labour and, where production arises from the exchange of products, money is exchange value. What cannot be exchanged, what cannot be sold, thus has no value. Where men can no longer be sold they are no longer worth a penny, but only when they sell or “hire out” themselves. The economists even claim that the value of a man would increase to the extent that he was no longer sold and was consequently obliged, in order to live, to himself sell himself; they draw the conclusion from this that the “free” man has more “value” than the slave. This is quite true. Hunger is a much stronger impulse to work than the slaveowner’s whip and greed for money a much stronger incentive for the private owner to exert his energies than the condescending smile of the satisfied lord. The economists forget only that the “value” of “freedom” must fall to the extent that it becomes more general. The more “free” men there are rushing to do slave labour, i.e., the more there are on sale, the cheaper they will be or are. Accursed competition ruins the price of “free” men and in fact on the basis of egoistic private acquisition there is to the other way to restore the “value” of men than the re-establishment of slavery.
Ancient slavery is human intercourse based on robbery with murder in a natural form; and it is also the most human form. It is natural and human that one only lets oneself be sold unwillingly; conversely it is unnatural and unhuman to oneself to sell oneself voluntarily. The modern world of shopkeepers could only come to this high point of baseness, of unnaturality and inhumanity by means of Christianity, the unnaturality par principe. Man had first to learn to look down on human life so as to externalise it voluntarily. He had to unlearn considering the real life, real freedom as a priceless good so as to offer these for sale. Mankind had first to pass through the school of servitude so as to come to embrace slavery as a principle. Our modern shopkeepers are the worthy descendants of the mediaeval serfs as these latter, the Christian slaves, were the worthy descendants of the heathen slaves. Just as mediaeval serfdom was an intensified ancient slavery so the modern Christian world of shopkeepers is an intensified mediaeval serfdom. The Ancients had not yet raised the externalisation of human life to Christian self-externalisation, nor the decomposition of human society to consciousness, they had not raised these factual situations to a principle. The Ancients were naïve: they simply accepted what lay in the essence of the world they moved (and in which we still move today): the externalisation of man. Just as religion received from the Ancients the human sacrifices that it demanded so politics also received its without seeking to establish this “scientifically” nor to hypocritically explain it away in the face of a still slumbering bad conscience. It is when the bad conscience woke up that Christianity began. Christianity is the sophistry of the awoken bad conscience of mankind, it is the attempt to be freed from the reproaches of this bad conscience. But the Christian does not get rid of his qualms of conscience by freeing miserable mankind from its misery, but by convincing himself that this human misery is not an inversion but rather something that is right, that the real life is rightly the external life, and that the externalisation of life is the normal condition of the world in general. The Christian draws a distinction between the “internal” and the “external” man, between reality and non-reality. The human “spirit,” i.e., the remains that are left over when all that is “bodily” has been removed (and what is left over is invisible because it is precisely nothing), is thus holy and inalienable life of man; but the human “body” is the impious, bad, condemnable, external and thus also alienable (veräusslich) life. The unreal man cannot sell himself as a slave; the real man is anyhow a vile thing and so not only can he but he should be in misery: the kingdom of heaven belongs to the miserable. The direct consequence of this doctrine was that slavery was left to exist factually and was even considered to be legitimate, except that it was no longer men but simple bodies that were being sold: a greater progress but a progress deeper into the morass. Afterwards once the principle of saleability was acquired in this way the route was open for the universal servitude, for the general mutual and voluntary selling-off of our shopkeepers.
The essence of our modern world of hucksters, money, is the realised essence of Christianity. The shopkeeper-state, the so-called “free” state is the promised kingdom of God, the world of shopkeepers is the promised kingdom of heaven, just as conversely God is only idealised capital and heaven the theoretical world of shopkeepers. Christianity discovered the principle of saleability but it was not concerned with the application of its principle. For, for it, reality was evil and nothing, thus it could not concern itself at all with reality in general and so not with the realisation of its principle. Christianity was quite indifferent to the fact that men externalised themselves really, i.e., that they became bondsmen, bodily slaves. This “external” practice it abandoned to the “external,” “worldly” authorities. Real servitude in spite of its theoretical justification was purely contingent as long as this was still more or less acceptable in theoretical externalisation, in the Christian faith, as long as this had not been brought into Christian practice. To begin with Christianity changed nothing of the reality of classical slavery; existing slavery remained - and was only enriched by a principle. But a new principle is not a new existence, a distinction very current with our new Christians. the last philosophers. Who can be surprised at such cleverness? When only a theory is given - and Christianity like philosophy has only given a theory - the relationship to the practice of life will be indifferent; the theory is a truth, taught and learned, given and received “for itself” and not for the sake of application. Thus in the Middle Ages as in Antiquity whether a man became a real slave or whether he remained in the “free” world was quite contingent. The distinction between Mediaeval serfdom and Ancient slavery lay only in the idea. Conversely in the reality there was not the slightest difference between them. The one was neither better nor worse than the other. In the Middle Ages a man could as little make a claim to real freedom in virtue of his essence than in Antiquity; in Antiquity this essence was not yet known and for this reason was not recognised, but in the Middle Ages the human essence was only recognised in “spirit” and in “truth,” in the divine beyond and for this other reason was not recognised in the reality of life. So in the Middle Ages as little as in Antiquity the problem was not to make man in general, i.e. ., each man, into a real slave. In the one case as in the other therefore there still existed some freedom: in the Middle Ages as little as in Antiquity there existed in the facts, i.e., contingently, alongside those “some” men who according to Aristotle were “born” for “slavery” also “some” free born, “well born” or “very highly born,” “highly born” men. In the reality servitude was thus still exchange based on robbery with murder in a natural form. Mediaeval serfdom was not in the reality a self-externalisation of men and it could not be; for man cannot make himself into a direct, natural bondsman. The direct life of man, his natural body, can be appropriated only by other men. Direct bondage implies men who are not bondsmen. The serf of the Middle Ages could not own serfs; he owned nothing - not even his own body was his own property - so he could not own other bodies. If the Christians had been interested in legislating for this world down here they would have had to quickly realise that the “worldly” situation still contradicted their principle and that there still reigned here much too much “naturalness.” But they were not interested in this because they were theoretical egoists. Nevertheless when in the course of time, having become enlightened and practical, they wanted to put Christianity into practice down here, when they wanted to apply “pure” Christianity, to realise the “Idea,” it was discovered that the “spiritual” freedom and equality proclaimed by Christianity was in no way realised. To introduce into life the clever distinction between body and spirit one had to go to work with much more cleverness than the purely theoretical egoists had done. A form of social life had to be found in which the externalisation of man took shape as universally as in the Christian heaven. The free spirits without bodies had to appear down here as well: a colossal nonsense due to the cleverness of our modern Christian-trained law-givers and political economists. Christianity is realised in our world of shopkeepers.
The modern law-givers, who as enlightened practical Christians could not be kept quiet with the law-giving of the hereafter, thus wanted to have the Christian world, its heaven, on Earth they had to make the blessed spirits of heaven appear down here. But such a conjuring up of spirits was no witchcraft: it had all already been prepared and the modern law-givers could therefore bring about this conjuring up even though they were not witches. One needed only to sanctify the factual already existing private man of the mediaeval bourgeois society (which emerged from serfdom) who had disposed of, abstracted himself from all that belonged to his species-life and who had ceded it to God in heaven, i.e., in theory, and to money on Earth, i.e., in practice. It is this dead relic of real man, this abstract personality, that it sufficed to sanctify; thus was the sexless individual of the Christian heaven was also realised in this world down here. In other words, it only needed to happen for politics and economics with regard to practical life what up till then had happened for religion and theology with regard to theoretical life. The practical as well as the theoretical, externalisation of man only needed to be raised to a principle. Thus was heavenly egoism also achieved on Earth. This is what was done. Practical egoism was sanctioned by declaring men as isolated individuals, as abstracted naked persons, to be real men, by proclaiming the rights of man to be the right of independent men, thus declaring that the independence of men from each other, their separation and isolation, was the essence of life and freedom, and stamping isolated persons as free, true and natural men. Logically these monads should not have been allowed to enter any more into direct intercourse with each other - which in our intercourse based on robbery with murder simply meant that they should no longer be brought into intercourse, should no longer be directly bought and sold. This direct intercourse, direct trade in men, direct slavery and serfdom had to be abolished, otherwise men would have continued to be dependent on each other. In the place of direct had to come indirect servitude, in the place of factual had to come principled servitude, that which made all men free and equal, i.e., isolated and dead. But with the abolition of factual slavery robbery with murder is not abolished, only direct robbery with murder is. It was only through the application of logical egoism that ancient and mediaeval slavery was now abolished. Above all, the principle of slavery - the externalisation of the human essence through the isolation of individuals and the degradation of this essence to a means of existence for these individuals - could now be brought into being universally. The principally established egoism of the modern world of shopkeepers removes down here as well as in the hereafter, theoretically and practically, all direct intercourse, all direct life and allows this only as a means for private existence. But where all human intercourse, all direct human activity, is abolished and can be used only as a means to egoist existence; where all intercourse from natural love, sexual relations, to the exchange of the thoughts of the fully educated world, is not feasible without money; where there are no practical men but cashed-in and sold-off men; where each emotion must first be converted into cash so as to be able to come into being; there heavenly spirits have travelled down to Earth, there dehumanised man is also down here, the “bliss” of heaven has become the “happiness” of down here, theoretical egoism has become practical: the bare fact of real slavery has become a consistently-applied principle.
The divorce between the private man and the community, between home life and public life, has always existed factually; for it is nothing other than the divorce between person and property. The “personality” separated, removed from all its means of existence, this ghost without body or life, has chased its lost body since the beginning of history and it searched for it sometimes in the heavenly beyond, in God, the granter of eternal, far away and never-accessible bliss, sometimes in money, the granter of eternal, far away, this-worldly and never-accessible happiness. This divorce between person and property, which was factual as long as religion and politics were factual, only needed to be recognised and sanctioned as a principle; thus it was therewith expressed that only money was the essence of the community or State and that man was a bare wage-bearer or more exactly only a bearer of a tattered moneybag. In the modern essence of the State it is thus also not man but the moneybag that is the law-giver - and just as the private man .represents the holy “personality” so conversely the citizen represents the holy “property.” Just as formerly the law-givers received from God. their fully-developed power they now receive it from property, from money. The holiness of “property” detached and abstracted from the person, from man, presupposes the holiness of the naked, empty “personality” detached and abstracted from its property, and vice versa. This abstract, externalised, exterior and a1ienable “property” can only appear in its holy purity separated from all human-ness if, in the same way, the “personality” appears in its holy purity separated from all real property. A clear frontier is thus drawn around each individual inside of which should be found the holy personality. These holy personalities are the blessed spirits of heaven on Earth; they are the bodies of these shadows and their frontier is their outer skin. But the actual atmosphere of man which in heaven is God, the superhuman good, is on Earth the extra-human, unhuman, touchable good, the thing, the property, the product which has been taken from the producer its creator, the abstract essence of intercourse, money. Thus the “person” was pronounced holy not because it was a human essence (its essence is quite the contrary torn from it, general human-ness not entering into account in egoism) but because it is an “I"! On the other hand “property” was pronounced holy again not because it was human (it is certainly only a thing and not even a superhuman thing like God in heaven, but only a thing exterior to man), it was rather pronounced so because it is the means of egoistic existence, because it is needed by an “I” (in the practice the egoism of the hereafter becomes touchable). But the egoism which only wants to conserve the person, naked, separated and independent from its natural and human environment, from its physical and social atmosphere, in a lifeless, inorganic, inactive, stone-like existence, egoism which feels no further than its outer skin and sees no further than the end of its nose - this limited essence destroys rather the real life of the very individual. It has not occurred to the wise Christian law-givers that man can not be separated from the atmosphere in which he breathes without suffocating in his miserable solitude; that his natural and physical life concerns not only what is within the traced frontiers of the body but the whole of nature; that his spiritual or social activity concerns not only the creations, ideas and feelings which remain within him but all the products of social life. They have not therefore considered that man cut off from his environment was an abstracted, skinned being as little alive as the raw animal flesh from which the hide has been removed, as a breathing creature which has been deprived of air. They have deprived man of social life-air and have left him free to surround himself with the fumes of money, this materialised spirit or God, and to survive as he can. And this holy corpse set in spirit they have proclaimed to be free man, inviolable, holy and eternal personality! What do these holy corpses do in order to conserve themselves? They seek to mutually deprive each other of the spirit, their abstract essence without which they decompose; they rob each other so as not to be without property - t hey murder each other in order to live, i.e., to be able to exist pitifully! It was thought that human freedom and equality had been created whereas a freedom of beasts of prey based on the equality of the dead had been consistently achieved. And it is this freedom that has been named the natural freedom of man! What enlightened law-givers! They spoke to poor men along the following lines: “You are free by nature and your natural freedom, your naked personality must remain your inviolable, inalienable property. But as concerns your social life (and that of course concerns everything, for you cannot prolong your natural life if you do not acquire the means of life produced by society) and so as concerns your life you must struggle isolatedly with each other. You must use your natural freedom to acquire your means of life. You only acquire them by alienating your natural freedom, but alienate it voluntarily! Nobody is forced to alienate his natural freedom, to sell, rent or hire himself, if he prefers to die of hunger. But take care not to disturb the others, who have understood better, from cashing in, from converting into money their natural freedom, take care not to disturb these honest people in their business! You want to earn a living, so you must voluntarily offer your natural freedom for sale, as do all other honest people. Thus if you have acquired something you can in your turn buy and use the natural freedom of others.”
The trade in humans, the trade in human freedom, in human life, is today too universal to be able to be seen at first glance. Quite literally one cannot see the wood for the trees. It is by no means only the propertyless who sell off their freedom against means of existence. For the more someone has “earned” the more he wants to “earn” - in the end he wants to suck up the whole world for his private purpose. Yes, the trade in our own freedom and in the freedom of others will be so usual that in the end we will be so steeped in our slavery that no suspicion, no trace of an idea of free activity, of the true life will remain any more. The slavery is more visible for the propertyless whereas for the propertied it is more a state of mind. But for this race of born slaves, even visible slavery is invisible! Our working men and women, our day labourers, valets and maids who are glad to find masters are, according to our modern concepts, free workers; and the master who employs very many hands and feeds very many mouths is an “honourable (normally very broad-minded) useful member of bourgeois society” ... But what about those blacks in “free” North America who in exactly the same way as our “free” workers work for masters, those slaveowners who in exactly the same way as our honourable, broad-minded and useful members of bourgeois society employ very many hands and feed very many mouths? Oh how unchristian! In any event, there is a distinction between the “shameful” trade in men on the coasts of Africa and the honourable trade in men on our doorsteps! Yes, and what is more, there is an essential distinction between the modern slavery of Christian America and the ancient slavery of heathen Greece! The Greeks only had slaves to be able to devote their services to the community, to live in freedom, to cultivate the arts and sciences in their free time; the Ancients did not yet have machines which would have made slaves, the human machines, unnecessary, but if they had had modern inventions, as Aristotle clearly stated, they would not have kept slaves to pander to their greed. But the Moderns, the Christians, only buy men because bought men could work more cheaply than hired men; conversely they declare this trade in men shameful as soon as it threatens to be less profitable or to be very dangerous for the existence of the shopkeepers. So what about the trade in men on our doorstep! What is the essential difference! With us slavery is no longer one-sided, it is mutual: not only do I make you a slave but you make me a slave, but we do not rob each other directly of our freedom - that would not be feasible - but we mutually tear from each other the means of freedom and life. As we can no longer be sold against our will we must sell ourselves voluntarily! In fact we can no longer sell ourselves, no, we must continually rent, hire ourselves; we must, as has been said, continually and completely voluntarily give up our freedom. Yes, our modern law-givers have clearly distinguished between sale and hire ... Such a cleverness is frightful! But ah, the cleverness of our modern law-givers is nothing but slave sense. As has been said, the visible slavery of our modern world of shopkeepers is itself an invisible one.
The task of realising Christianity, i.e., the task of absolutely removing all and any capacity from man in his real, actual life, in practice and not just in imaginary theory and of attributing to him an imagined, chimerical essence, the task of, under the pretence of making a tangible heaven on Earth, making a just as tangible hell on Earth, the task of removing from man in social life all human life-air, of bringing him under the air pump of egoism and of interpreting the struggle to the death of the miserable as the normal life-activity of men, this task the world of shopkeepers has solved! Compared with the relations of our society, Antiquity and also the Middle Ages are still human. Mediaeval society with its whole detestable appendage of barbarous laws and institutions did not entirely deform men, as modern society does. In the Middle Ages indeed beside the serfs who were and had nothing there were also men who had a social possession and a social character, who were something. The estates and corporations, although they were only egoistic associations, had a social character if also only a limited one; the individual could flourish in his social sphere of activity and unite himself into the community even though only in a limited way. It is quite different now where the formula for universal servitude has been discovered. The social life of men is now completely deprived of all noble impulses. There is no social possession, no living property, there are no more men who really have or are something. This general rubbish (Plunder) of which it is imagined that in it something is owned is a phantom which is strived for in vain! For in what consists the true social property? Surely only in the means to live and act in society. Property is the body of social man and as such the first condition of social life, just as the natural body, the natural property, is the first condition of life in general. But what is our social property? This general rubbish, this money, is not an organic, living body. Yes, it should represent the social body, the organic species-life, social intercourse, but it cannot do so because it is by nature inorganic, unarticulated, undifferentiated, nothing other than a dead mass, a sum and a figure. How can the value of a living being, of man and his highest life and activity, how can the value of social life be expressed in sums, in figures? One can arrive at such nonsense only after having robbed the real life of its soul, after having dismembered and divided it, and after having placed a half for the hereafter and a half for this world down here. Imagine a world of spirits without bodies, thus a chimera, in face of a world of bodies without spirit and without life, a dead matter, (another chimera), then imagine that these bodiless spirits run after this soul-less matter to grab from it more or less large pieces and drag them after them, and you have a faithful picture of the chimerical world in which we live. We can indeed acquire and obtain some of this dead, soul-less, inorganic matter, some of this rubbish after which we chase like ghosts after their lost bodies; but we do not thereby have any real living property or social possession, something which determines and conditions our life and our activity in society, our social activity, but only the materialised Christian God, the spirit or spirits in which we can conserve our earthly corpse, maintain it in a dead, stone-like existence. Money can never ever become property; it must rather be considered by all not yet corrupted human nature as something so external, so little the property of man that the intimate attachment between the possessor and his possession which constitutes the character of any true and real property appears here as the most revolting and despicable depravity. He who on the other hand identifies with his property, with his real social possession, to the point of being as intimately attached to it as the soul is to the body; the man who fills his post so fully that a separation of him from his sphere of activity is just unthinkable (a phenomenon that is now the exception because money is now the content of all social efforts), is a man of honour, a true man. For it is not the Christian and philosophical elevation above the common life but the devotion, the life and activity for others that makes man man. So the attachment of the possessor and possession is also the character of real and so of social property as well as of natural property in general. All that I have appropriated really, and so my living property, is intimately attached to me and must and should be so. But what is someone who is intimately attached to our so-called property, to money-property? Who is so identified with his money that he is not separated from it? A miserable wretch! Nevertheless we must consider this universal rubbish as so much our first condition of life, so much our indispensable property, that we cannot conserve ourselves without it. You must therefore constantly strive to appropriate something that cannot be appropriated, that always remains far, on the other side for you. You can possess with your money only a soul-less body to which you can never give a soul, which can never become your property! You must consider yourself happy to be able to exchange your own body, your own flesh and blood, your life-activity, for this rubbish, happy to be able to sell yourself -- something which in the Middle Ages and Antiquity was considered at the least as a misfortune. You must consider yourself happy to be a modern bondsman; for you are always exposed to the danger of falling back into the original condition of the blessed spirits which the law-givers have brought down from the Christian heaven and which they have proclaimed the normal condition of “natural” man - you are always exposed to the danger of becoming a pure, free, naked person!
The world of shopkeepers is the practical world of illusion and lies. Under the appearance of absolute independence there is absolute want; under the appearance of the most living intercourse there is the most deadly separation of every man from his fellow men; under the appearance of an inviolable property guaranteed to everyone the capacity of everyone is taken from them in reality; under the appearance of general freedom there is general servitude. No wonder that in the realised world of lies dishonesty is the rule and honesty the infringement, that baseness should have all the honours and the man of honour should fall into misery and shame; that hypocrisy celebrates its triumph and is taken as the truth; that there should be division amongst the majority and determination amongst the minority; that finally the freest understanding is the most destructive and conversely the narrowest servility is the most conservative element!
The isolated individual, separated from his roots, from his life-element, as a rotten fruit falling from a living tree and thereby perishing, can only be artificially removed from his decomposition or conserved. A living being does not conserve itself but manifests itself, produces itself anew at each moment. But in order to be able to live really, i.e., to manifest or produce themselves, the various isolated members of one and the same organic body must be indissolubly linked to each other as well as to their communal life-elements or materials; they and their bodies and their life-atmosphere must not be separated from each other. This separation, isolation and disintegration of individuals is the characteristic of the animal world, of egoism. And mankind has had this animal characteristic till now because it was still being created; for the animal world itself is nothing other than developing mankind in creation. In other words, mankind has a double history of creation: the first is that of its still unconscious or bodily existence and this we meet in the animal world; the second creation history, which follows from and after the first and which completes it, exists wholly and completely; this creation is that of its conscious, spiritual or social existence and this we meet in the social animal world. We now find ourselves at the summit, at the culminating point of the social animal world; we are thus now social beasts of prey, fully-developed conscious egoists who sanction in free competition the war of all against all, in the so-called rights of man the rights of isolated individuals, of private persons, of the “absolute personality,” and in freedom of trade mutual exploitation, thirst for money. This thirst for money is nothing but the thirst for blood of the social beast of prey. We are no longer grass-eaters like our good-natured ancestors, who indeed were also social beasts but were not yet beasts of prey, the great majority of whom let themselves be fed like good-natured domestic animals. We are bloodsuckers who mutually skin and devour each other. Just as the animal tastes in blood only his own life in an animal-like, brutal way, so man tastes in money his own life in a brutal, animal-like, cannibalistic way. Money is the social blood, but externalised, spilt blood. The Jews had the world-historic mission in the natural history of the social animal world of developing the beast of prey out of man; they have finally fulfilled their mission. The mystery of Judaism and Christianity has been made public in the modern Jewish-Christian world of shopkeepers. The mystery of the blood of Christ, like the mystery of the old Jewish blood cult, appears here finally completely unveiled as the mystery of the beast of prey. In ancient Judaism the cult of blood was only prototypic; in the Christian Middle Ages it was realised theoretically, ideally, logically, i.e., the externalised, split blood of mankind was consumed really but only in the imagination, as the blood of the man-God. In the modern Jewish-Christian world of shopkeepers this bent and drive of the social animal world no longer comes out either symbolic or mystic but as wholly prosaic. In the religion of the social beasts of prey there was still some poetry. It was not at all the poetry of Olympus, but indeed that of Blocksberg. The social animal world first became common and prosaic when nature again enforced its rights and the isolated man, this pitiful slave of Antiquity and serf of the Middle Ages, no longer wanted to be satisfied with heavenly nourishment; when he began to struggle for material instead of for spiritual treasures and when he wanted to play out his externalised life, his split blood in a visible purse rather than in an invisible stomach. So the holy juggling tricks became profane, heavenly trickery became earthly, the poetic fight of God and the Devil became a prosaic animal fight and the mystical theophagy became a public anthrophagy. The church of God, the heavenly vault where the priest, the hyena of the social animal world, celebrated an imaginary funeral meal changed itself into the money State, into this earthly battlefield where beasts of prey with equal rights suck each other’s blood. In the money State, the State of free competition, all privilege and all distinctions of rank come to an end. There reigns, as has been said, a poetry-less freedom of beasts of prey based on the equality of death. In face of money kings are no longer entitled to conquer as the lions of the animal-men, just as little as the gloomy priests still have the right to refresh themselves with the smell of corpses because they are their hyenas. Rather have they only the right, like the other animal-men, arising from common natural right, from their common quality of beasts of prey, bloodsuckers, Jews, money-wolves.
Money is the life-killing means of intercourse which has solidified into a dead letter just as the letter is the spirit-killing means of intercourse which has solidified into dead money. The invention of money and letters is attributed to the Phoenicians, the same people to whom is also attributed the invention of the Jewish God. A writing joker believes he has said something very intelligent against the abolition of money in comparing, in one of his writings entitled Bewegung der Production, the spiritual capital which we possess in writings (especially in his own) to the material capital which we possess in money, and then he adds: “An abolition of money would have the same significance as an abolition of writing: this would be an edict to world history to return to its mother’s womb.” First Mr Schulz has overlooked the difference between the material capital which we possess in money and the spiritual capital which we can appropriate through writing. This difference is as great as that between true and false property. I can indeed appropriate for myself through writing spiritual treasures. But it would not occur to anyone to wish to stamp the treasure which we appropriate through word and writing as the private property of individuals who could then transmit it to their private heirs. I can indeed inherit and acquire a library and its so-called treasures; I can also receive so-called revelations from the Holy Scriptures; but the more this acquisition comes near to being a money acquisition, the more external, contingent it is, the more it is subject to profit and loss, the more worthless, spirit-less is my “spiritual” treasure. Or does Mr Schulz believe that I already received the spirit with the letters and the books? Language is a living, spirit-rich means of intercourse but letters are not. Spiritual money is only valid in so far as it is organically attached to man. Language can be organically attached to man because it is an organic, articulated whole. But money cannot be organically attached to man, as already shown above. Money therefore resembles writing not as a living language but as a dead letter. The letter - this is very significant - must have been invented like money by those who invented Moloch. But language was never and nowhere in the world invented. When an invention is no longer necessary, no longer usable, when it has even become harmful, it is not used any more, without it therefore having to be returned to the “mother’s womb.” It is not disputed that the invention of letters and coins was a “useful” and even a “necessary” invention, but it is disputed that it will therefore also be in the future. It is quite right that in the old condition of the isolation of men, in the old mutual estrangement of men, an external symbol had to be invented to represent the spiritual and material exchange of products. Through this abstraction from real, spiritual and living intercourse the capacity, the creative force of men was increased during their estrangement; in other words, they found in this abstract means of intercourse a mediating essence for their own estrangement; they had to seek the unifying essence outside of themselves, i. e., an inhuman, super-human essence, since they were not men, i.e., were not united. Without this inhuman means of intercourse they would never have entered into intercourse. But as soon as men unite, as soon as a direct intercourse between them can take place the inhuman, external, dead means of intercourse must necessarily be abolished. This dead and deadly means of intercourse cannot and will not be abolished arbitrarily; its abolition therefore happens as little through an “edict” as did its creation. In the same way that the need for an external means of union during the period of the internal disintegration of the human species had brought into being spiritual and material idols, so the need for a direct and intimate union of men will demolish these idols again. Love which fled to heaven while the Earth was not yet able to grasp it will again have its seats of living in the place where it was born and nurtured, the breast of man. We will no longer vainly seek our life outside and above us. No extraneous essence, no third middle term will any more intrude between us so as to unite us externally and apparently to “mediate” us, while separating and splitting us internally and really. With commercial speculations will cease philosophical and theological speculations and with politics will cease religion. Driven by the internal necessity of our nature and by the external necessity of our relations we will put an end once and for all to all these absurdities and hypocritical nonsense of our philosophers, scholars, priests and statesmen, who harmonise so well with the inhumanity and baseness of our bourgeois society; we will do this by uniting together in a community and expelling all these extraneous bodies and all these external means of communication, these thorns in our flesh.
The organic community which we are looking forward to can only come into being as a result of the highest development of all our forces and by means of the painful stimulus of necessity and of vicious passions. The organic community, the ripe fruit of human development, could not come into being as long as we were not wholly developed and we could not develop ourselves unless we engaged in intercourse with each other. But during the development of this intercourse we still grappled with each other as single and isolated individuals. We grappled with each other for our material and spiritual means of intercourse because as isolated individuals we needed this means of intercourse to live. We needed it because we were not united, but the union or the collaboration of our forces is our life. We thus had to seek our own life outside of us and to secure it in mutual struggle. But through this struggle we have won something entirely different from what we were striving and hoping to win. We thought we were winning an external good, but we were developing ourselves. But this madness was salutary and beneficial for us for as long as it contributed really to develop our forces and faculties. After these had developed we will only mutually ruin ourselves if we do not pass on to communism. Our forces are now no longer further developed through struggle, for the good reason that they are already developed. But we also see every day that, on the one hand, we only waste our forces fruitlessly and that, on the other hand, due to the excess of productive forces they just can not be developed any more. If the liberal bourgeois are always talking to us about the need for progress through the struggle of competition, this is because they are thoughtless chatterers, because they commit anachronisms or are blinded by egoism and unable to understand the truths which impose themselves on all those who are only prepared to open their eyes. At the stage of development where we are, we can only further mutually exploit and consume ourselves if we do not unite ourselves in love. Contrary to what the thoughtless liberals think, not centuries, not decades will elapse when the hundredfold-increased productive forces will precipitate into the deepest misery the great mass of people who have to work with their hands, because their hands will have become worthless; while a tiny minority, which is engaged in the accumulation of capital, will wallow in abundance and sink in disgusting dissipation, if they have not previously heard the voice of love and reason or if they have yielded to force.
The creation history of society is over; the last hour of the social animal world will soon sound. The mechanism of the money-machine has run down and it is in vain that our progressive and reactionary statesmen seek to keeping it turning ...