The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Chapter Three: Saint Max
Here we again start from the point at which, above, we began the description of the union. Sancho employs two categories: property and wealth; the illusions about property correspond mainly to the positive data given on landed property, the illusions about wealth to the data on the organisation of labour and the monetary system in the union.
Page 331: “The world belongs to me.”
Interpretation of his hereditary tenure of a plot of land.
Page 343: “I am the owner of everything that I need”,
a euphemistic way of saying that his needs are his possession and that what he needs as a corvée peasant is determined by his circumstances. In the. same way the economists maintain that the worker is the owner of everything that he needs as a worker. See the discourse on the minimum wage in Ricardo. [David Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation]
Page 343: “Now, however, everything belongs to me.”
A musical flourish in honour of his rate of wages, his plot of land, his permanent lack of money, and his expulsion from everything that the “society” does not want him to have in exclusive possession. The same idea occurs on page 327, expressed thus:
“His” (i.e., of another person) “possessions are mine and I dispose of them as the owner to the extent of my power.”
This pompous allegro marciale passes in the following way into a gentle cadence, in which it gradually collapses on its backside — Sancho’s usual fate:
Page 331: “The world belongs to me. Do You” (communists) “say anything different with your opposite thesis: the world belongs to all? All are I, and once more I, etc.” (for example, “Robespierre, for example. Saint-Just, and so on”).
Page 415: “I am I and you are I, but ... this I, in which we are all equal, is only my thought [... ] a generality” (the holy).
The practical variation on this theme occurs on page 330, where the “individuals collectively” (i.e., all) are counterposed as a regulating force to the “Isolated individual” (i.e., the I as distinct from all).
These dissonances are at last resolved in the soothing final chord, to the effect that what I do not possess is at any rate the property of another “ego”. Thus, “ownership of everything” is only an interpretation of the statement that each person possesses exclusive property.
Page 336: “But property is only my property if I have unconditional possession of it. As the unconditional ego, I have property, I carry on free trade.”
We already know that only freedom, and not peculiarity, is affected if freedom of trade and unconditionality are not respected in the union. “Unconditional property” is a fitting supplement to the secure”, guaranteed property in the union.
Page 342: “In the opinion of the communists, the community should be the owner. On the contrary, I am the owner and only come to an agreement with others about my property.”
On page 329 we saw how “the société makes itself the owner” and on page 330 how it “excludes individuals from its property”. In general, we saw that the tribal system of feudal tenure, the crudest beginnings of the system of feudal tenure, was introduced. According to page 416, the “feudal system = absence of property”; hence, according to the same page, “property is recognised in the union, and only in the union”, and moreover for a conclusive reason: “because no one any longer holds his possession in feudal tenure from any being [Wesen]” (ibid.). That is to say, under the hitherto existing’ feudal system, the feudal lord was this “being”, in the union it is the société. From this one may at least conclude that Sancho possesses an “exclusive” but by no means “secure” property in the “essence” [Wesen] [Wesen can mean “being” or “essence"], of past history.
In connection with page 330, according to which each individual’ is excluded from that which society does not consider it right for him to hold in his sole possession, and in connection with the state and legal system of the union, it is stated:
Page 369: “The rightful and legitimate property of another will only be that which you consider it right to recognise as his property. If you no longer consider it right, it loses its rightfulness for you and You will deride any claim to absolute right in it.”
He thus proves the astounding fact that what is right in the union does not have to be right for him — an Indisputable right of man. If there exists in the union the institution of the old French parliaments, which Sancho loves so much, then he can even have his dislike recorded and deposit the document in the office of the law courts, consoling himself with the thought that lone cannot get rid of everything”.
These various statements appear to contradict themselves, one another and the actual state of things in the union. But the key o this riddle is to be found ‘n the juridical fiction, already mentioned, that when Sancho is excluded from the property of others, he is merely coming to an agreement with these others. This fiction is expounded in more detail in the following statements:
Page 369: “This” (i.e., respect for the property of others) “comes to an end when I can leave the tree in question to another, just as I leave my stick, etc., to another, but do not from the outset regard it as something alien, i. e., holy. Rather ... it remains my property, no matter for what period I cede it to another; it is mine and remains mine. see nothing alien in the wealth belonging to the banker.”
Page 328: “I do not retreat timidly before thy and your property, but always regard it as my property, which I do not need to respect at all. just do the same with what you call my property. With this point of view we shall most easily reach agreement with one another.”
If, according to the rules of the union, Sancho is “given a drubbing” as soon as he tries to seize another’s property, he will, of course, maintain that pilfering is a “peculiarity” of his; nevertheless, the union will decide that Sancho has merely taken a “liberty”. And if Sancho takes the “liberty” of attempting to seize another’s possessions, the union has the “peculiarity” of sentencing him to a flogging for it.
The essence of the matter is this. Bourgeois and, particularly, petty-bourgeois and small-peasant property is, as we have seen, retained in the union. Merely the interpretation, the “point of view”, is different, for which reason Sancho always lays stress on the way of “regarding”. “Agreement” is reached when this new philosophy of regarding enjoys the regard of the whole union. This philosophy consists of the following. Firstly, every relation, whether caused by, economic conditions or direct compulsion, is regarded as a relation of “agreement”. Secondly, it is imagined that all property belonging to others is relinquished to them by us and remains with them only until we have the power to take it from them; and if we never get the power, tant mieux. Thirdly, Sancho and his union in theory guarantee each other absence of respect, whereas in practice the. union “reaches agreement” with Sancho with the aid of a stick. Finally, this “agreement” is a mere phrase, since everyone knows that the others enter into it only with the secret reservation that they will reject it on the first convenient occasion, I see in your property something that is not yours but mine; since every ego does likewise, they see in it the universal, by which we arrive at the modern-German philosophical interpretation of ordinary, special and exclusive private property.
The union’s philosophy of property includes, inter alia, the following fancies derived from Sancho’s system:
On page 342, that property can be acquired in the union through, absence of respect; on page 351, that “we are all in the midst of “abundance”, and “have only to help myself to as much as I can” whereas in actual fact the whole union belongs to Pharaoh’s seven lean kine  and finally, that Sancho “cherishes thoughts” which arc written in his book; and which are sung on page 374 in the incomparable ode addressed to himself imitating Heine’s three odes to Schlegel: “You, who cherishes such thoughts as are written in your. book ... you cherish nonsense” Such is the hymn which for the time being Sancho addresses to himself, and about which the union will later “reach agreement” with him.
Finally, it is obvious even without reaching “agreement” that property in the extraordinary sense, about which we already spoke in the “Phenomenology”, is accepted in the union in lieu of payment, as “marketable” property and “property in circulation”. Concerning simple facts, e.g., that I feel sympathy, that I talk to others, that my leg is amputated (or torn off), the union will reach agreement that “the feeling experienced by sentient beings is also mine, my property” (p. 387); that other people’s ears and tongues are Likewise my property, and that mechanical relations too are my property.
Thus, appropriation in the union will consist chiefly in all relations being transformed into property relations by means of a facile paraphrase. This new mode of expressing “evils” that are already now rife is an “essential means or faculty” in the union and will successfully make up for the deficit in the means of existence that is inevitable in view of Sancho’s “social gifts”.
Page 216: “Let each of you become an omnipotent ego!"
Page 353: “Think about increasing your wealth!"
Page 420: “Keep up the value of your gifts;
"Keep up their price,
"Do not allow yourself to be compelled to sell below the price,
"Do not allow yourself to be persuaded that your commodity is not worth the price,
"Do not make yourself ridiculous by a ridiculously low price,
"Follow the example of the courageous man, etc.!
Page 420: “Increase the value of your property!"
"Increase your value”
These moral sayings, which Sancho learned from an Andalusian Jewish huckster who drew up rules of life and trade for his son, and which Sancho now pulls out of his knapsack, form the main wealth of the union. The basis of all these statements is the great proposition on page 351:
“Everything that you are able to do [vermagst — inflected form of vermögen] is your wealth [Vermögen].”
This proposition is either meaningless, i. e., mere tautology, or is nonsense. It is tautology if it means: what you are able to do, you are able to do. It is nonsense if Vermögen No. 2 is meant to denote wealth “in the ordinary sense”, commercial wealth, and if the proposition is based, therefore, on the etymological similarity. The collision consists precisely in the fact that what is expected of my ability [Vermögen] is different from what it is capable of doing, c. g., it is demanded of my ability to write verses that it should make money out of these verses. My ability is expected to produce something quite different from the specific product of this special ability, viz., a product depending on extraneous conditions which are not subject to my ability. This difficulty is supposed to be resolved in the union by means of etymological synonymy. We see that our egoistical school-master hopes to occupy an important post in the union. Incidentally, this difficulty is only an apparent one. The usual pithy moral saying of the bourgeois: “Anything is good to make money of”, is here expounded at length in Sancho’s solemn manner.
Page 352: “You behave egoistically when you regard one another neither as owners nor as ragamuffins or workers, but as part of your wealth, as useful creatures. Then you will not give anything either to the owner, the proprietor, for his property, or to the one who works, but only to him whom you can make use of. Do we need a king? the North Americans ask themselves, and they reply: ‘He and his work are not worth a farthing to us’,”
On the other hand, on page 229, he reproaches the “bourgeois period” for the following:
“Instead of taking me as I am. attention is paid only to my property, my qualities, and a marriage alliances is concluded with me only for the sake of what I possess. The marriage is concluded, so to speak, with what I have and not with what I am.”
That is to say, attention is paid solely to what I am for others, to my usefulness, I am dealt with as a useful creature. Sancho spits into the “bourgeois period’s” soup, so that in the union he alone can devour it.
If the individuals of modern society regard one another as owners, as workers and, if Sancho wishes, as ragamuffins, this only means that they treat one another as useful creatures, a fact which can only be doubted by such a useless individual as Sancho. The capitalist, who “regards” the worker “as a worker”, shows consideration for him only because he needs workers; the worker treats the capitalist in the same way, and the Americans too, in Sancho’s opinion (we would like him to point out the source from which he took this historic fact), have no use for a king, because he is useless to them as a worker. Sancho has chosen his example with his usual clumsiness, for it is supposed to prove exactly the opposite of what it actually proves.
Page 395: “For me, you are nothing but food, just as I am eaten up and consumed by you. We stand in only one relation to one another: that of usefulness, utility, use.”
Page 416: “No one is to me a person to be held in respect, not even my fellow-man; but, like other beings” (!), “he is solely an object, for which I may or may not have sympathy, an interesting or uninteresting object, a useful or useless creature.”
The relation of “usefulness”, which is supposed to be the sole relation of the individuals to one another in the union, is at once paraphrased as “eating” one another. The “perfect Christians” of the union, of course, also celebrate holy communion, only not by eating together but by eating one another.
The extent to which this theory of mutual exploitation, which Bentham expounded ad nauseam, could already at the beginning of the present century be regarded as a phase of the previous one is shown by Hegel in his Phänomenologie. See there the chapter “The Struggle of Enlightenment with Superstition”, where the theory of usefulness is depicted as the final result of enlightenment. The apparent absurdity of merging all the manifold relationships of people in the one relation of usefulness, this apparently metaphysical abstraction arises from the fact that in modern bourgeois society all relations are subordinated in practice to the one abstract monetary-commercial relation. This theory came to the fore with Hobbes and Locke, at the same time as the first and second English revolutions, those first battles by which the bourgeoisie won political power. it is to be found even earlier, of course, among writers on political economy, as a tacit presupposition. Political economy is the real science of this theory of utility; it acquires its true content among the Physiocrats, since they were the first to treat political economy systematically. In Helvétius and Holbach one can already find an idealisation of this doctrine, which fully corresponds to the attitude of opposition adopted by the French bourgeoisie before the revolution. Holbach depicts the entire activity of individuals in their mutual intercourse, e. g., speech, love, etc., as a relation of utility and utilisation. Hence the actual relations that are presupposed here are speech, love, definite manifestations of definite qualities of individuals. Now these relations are supposed not to have the meaning peculiar to them but to be the expression and manifestation of some third relation attributed to them, the relation of utility or utilisation. This paraphrasing ceases to be meaningless and arbitrary only when these relations have validity for the individual not on their own account, not as spontaneous activity, but rather as disguises, though by no means disguises of the category of Utilisation, but of an actual third aim and relation which is called the relation of utility.
The verbal masquerade only has meaning when it is the unconscious or deliberate expression of an actual masquerade. In this case, the utility relation has a quite definite meaning, namely, that I derive benefit for myself by doing harm to someone else (exploitation de 1'homme par l'homme, [exploitation of man by man.” See Doctrine de Saint-Simon. Exposition. Première année]); in this case moreover the use that I derive from some relation is entirely extraneous to this relation, as we saw above in connection with ability [Vermögen] that from each ability a product alien to it was demanded, a relation determined by social relations — and this is precisely the relation of utility. All this is actually the case with the bourgeois. For him only one relation is valid on its own account — the relation of exploitation; all other relations have validity for him only insofar as he can include them under this one relation; and even where he encounters relations which cannot be directly subordinated to the relation of exploitation, he subordinates them to it at least in his imagination. The material expression of this use is money which represents the value of all things, people and social relations. Incidentally, one sees at a glance that the category of “utilisation” is first abstracted from the actual relations of intercourse which I have with other people (but by no means from reflection and mere will) and then these relations. are made out to be the reality of the category that has been abstracted from them themselves, a wholly metaphysical method of procedure. In exactly the same way and with the same justification, Hegel depicts all relations as relations of the objective spirit. Hence Holbach’s theory is the historically justified philosophical illusion about the bourgeoisie just then developing in France, whose thirst for exploitation could still be regarded as a thirst for the full development of individuals in conditions of intercourse freed from the old feudal fetters. Liberation from the standpoint of the bourgeoisie, i. e., competition, was, of course, for the eighteenth century the only possible way of offering the individuals a new career for freer development. The theoretical proclamation of the consciousness corresponding to this bourgeois practice, of the consciousness of mutual exploitation as the universal mutual relation of all individuals, was also a bold and open step forward. It was a kind of enlightenment which interpreted the political, patriarchal, religious and sentimental embellishment of exploitation under feudalism in a secular way; the embellishment corresponded to the form of exploitation existing at that time and it had been systematised especially by the theoretical writers of the absolute monarchy.
Even if Sancho had done the same thing in his “book” as Helvétius and Holbach did in the last century, the anachronism would still have made it ridiculous. But we have seen that in the place of active bourgeois egoism he put a bragging egoism in agreement with itself.
His sole service — rendered against his will and without realising it — was that he expressed the aspirations of the German petty bourgeois of today whose aim it is to become bourgeois. It was quite fitting that the petty, shy and timid behaviour of these petty bourgeois should have as its counterpart the noisy, blustering and impertinent public boasting of “the unique” among their philosophical representatives. It is quite in accordance with the situation of these petty bourgeois that they do not want to know about their theoretical loud-mouthed champion, and that he knows nothing about them; that they are at variance with one another, and he is forced to preach egoism in agreement with itself. Now, perhaps, Sancho will realise the sort of umbilical cord that connects his “union” with the Customs Union.
The advances made by the theory of utility and exploitation, its various phases are closely connected with the various periods of development of the bourgeoisie. In the case of Helvétius and Holbach, the actual content of the theory never went much beyond paraphrasing the mode of expression of writers belonging to the period of the absolute monarchy. It was a different method of expression which reflected the desire to reduce all relations to the relation of exploitation and to explain the intercourse of people from their material needs and the ways of satisfying them, rather than the actual realisation of this desire. The problem was set. Hobbes and Locke had before their eyes not only the earlier development of the Dutch bourgeoisie (both of them had lived for some time in Holland) but also the first political actions by which the English bourgeoisie emerged from local and provincial limitations, as well as a comparatively highly developed stage of manufacture, overseas trade and colonisation. This particularly applies to Locke, who wrote during the first period of the English economy, at the time of the rise of joint-stock companies, the Bank of England and time of England’s mastery of the seas. In their case, and particularly in that of Locke, the theory of exploitation was still directly connected with the economic content.
Helvétius and Holbach had before them, besides English theory and the preceding development of the Dutch and English bourgeoisie, also the French bourgeoisie which was still struggling for its free development. The commercial spirit, universal in the eighteenth century, had especially in France taken possession of all classes in the form of speculation. The financial difficulties of the government and the resulting disputes over taxation occupied the attention of all France even at. that time. In addition, Paris in the eighteenth century was the only world city, the only city where there was personal intercourse among individuals of all nations. These premises, combined with the more universal character typical of the French in general, gave the theory of Helvétius and Holbach its peculiar universal colouring, but at ,he same time deprived it of the positive economic content that was still to be found among the English. The theory which for the English was still simply the registration of facts becomes for the French a philosophical system. This generality devoid of positive content, such as we find it in Helvétius and Holbach, is essentially different from the substantial comprehensive view which is first found in Bentham and Mill. The former corresponds to the struggling, still undeveloped bourgeoisie, the latter to the ruling, developed bourgeoisie.
The content of the theory of exploitation that was neglected by Helvétius and Holbach was developed and systematised by the Physiocrats — who worked at the same time as Holbach — but because their basis was the undeveloped economic relations of France where feudalism, under which landownership plays the chief role, was still unshaken, they remained in thrall to the feudal outlook insofar as they declared landownership and land cultivation to be that [productive force] which determines the whole structure of society.
The theory of exploitation owes its further development in England to Godwin, and especially to Bentham. As the bourgeoisie succeeded in asserting itself more and more both in England and in France, the economic content, which the French had neglected, was gradually re-introduced by Bentham. Godwin’s Political Justice was written during the terror, and Bentham’s chief works during and after the French Revolution and the development of large-scale industry in England. The complete union of the theory of utility with political economy is to be found, finally, in Mill.
At an earlier period political economy had been the subject of inquiry either by financiers, bankers and merchants, i.e., in general by persons directly concerned with economic relations, or by persons with an all-round education like Hobbes, Locke and Hume, for whom it was of importance as a branch of encyclopaedic knowledge. Thanks to the Physiocrats, political economy for the first time was raised to the rank of a special science and has been treated as such ever since. As a special branch of science it absorbed the other relations — political, juridical, etc. — to such an extent that it reduced them to economic relations. But it regarded this subordination of all relations to itself as only one aspect of these relations, and thereby allowed them for the rest an independent significance outside political economy. The complete subordination of all existing relations to the relation of utility, and its unconditional elevation to the sole content of all other relations, occurs for the first time in Bentham’s works, where, after the French Revolution and the development of large-scale industry, the bourgeoisie is no longer presented as a special class, but as the class whose conditions of existence are those of the whole society.
When the sentimental and moral paraphrases, which for the French were the entire content of the utility theory, had been exhausted, all that remained for its further development was the question how individuals and relations were to be used, to be exploited. Political economy had meanwhile already provided the answer to this question; the only possible advance consisted in the inclusion of the economic content. Bentham achieved this advance. Political economy, however, had already given expression to the fact that the chief relations of exploitation are determined by production in general, independently of the will of individuals, who find them already in existence. Hence, no other field of speculative thought remained for the utility theory than the attitude of individuals to these important relations, the private exploitation of an already existing world by individuals. On this subject Bentham and his school indulged in lengthy moral reflections. The whole criticism of the existing world by the utility theory was consequently restricted within a narrow range. Remaining within the confines of bourgeois conditions, it could criticise. only those relations which had been handed down from a past epoch and were an obstacle to the development of the bourgeoisie. Hence, although the utility theory does expound the connection of all existing relations with economic relations, it does so only in a restricted way.
From the outset the utility theory had the aspect of a theory of general utility, yet this aspect only became fraught with meaning when economic relations, especially division of labour and exchange, were included. With division of labour, the private activity of the individual becomes generally useful; Bentham’s general utility becomes reduced to the same general utility which is asserted in competition as a whole. By taking into account the economic relations of rent, profit and wages, the definite relations of exploitation of the various classes were introduced, since the manner of exploitation depends on the social position of the exploiter. Up to this point the theory of utility was able to base itself on definite social facts; its further account of the manner of exploitation amounts to a mere recital of catechism phrases.
The economic content gradually turned the utility theory into a mere apologia for the existing state of affairs, an attempt to prove that under existing conditions the mutual relations of people today are the most advantageous and generally useful. It has this character among all modern economists.
But whereas the utility theory had thus at least the advantage of indicating the connection of all existing relations with the economic foundations of society, in Sancho the theory has lost all positive content; it is divorced from all actual relations and is restricted to the mere illusion cherished by the isolated bourgeois about his “cleverness”, by means of which he reckons to exploit the world. Incidentally, it is only in a few passages that Sancho deals with the theory of utility even in this diluted form; almost the entire “book” is taken up, as we have seen, with egoism in agreement with itself, i.e., with an illusion about this illusion of the petty bourgeois. Even these few passages are finally reduced by Sancho to mere vapour, as we shall see.
“In this community” (namely with other people) “I perceive nothing at all but a multiplication of my power, and I retain it only for so long as it is my multiplied power” (p. 416).
“I no longer abase myself before any power, and recognise that all powers are only my power, which I have immediately to subdue if they threaten to become a power against me or over me; each of them is permitted to be only one of my means for achieving my purpose.”
I “perceive”, I “recognise”, I “have to subdue”, power “ is permitted to be only one of my means”. We have already been shown in connection with the “union” what these moral demands mean and how far they correspond to reality. This illusion about his power is closely connected with the other illusion: that in the union “substance” is abolished (see “Humane Liberalism”), and that the relations of the union members never assume a rigid form in respect to separate individuals.
“The union, the association, this eternally fluid association of everything that exists.... Of course, society can arise also from union, but only as a fixed idea arises out of a thought.... If a union has crystallised into a society, it has ceased to be an association, for association is the unceasing process of associating with one another; it has reached the state of being associated, it has become society, the corpse of the union or association.... Neither a natural nor a spiritual bond holds the union together” (pp. 294, 408, 416).
As regards the “natural bond”, it exists, despite Sancho’s “ill will”, in the form of corvée peasant economy and organisation of labour, etc., in the union; likewise the “spiritual bond” in Sancho’s philosophy. For the rest we need only refer to what we have already said several times, and repeated in connection with the union, about division of labour causing the relations to confront individuals as something existing independently of them.
“In short, society is holy, the union is your own; society uses you, you use the union”, etc. [p. 418].
Whereas hitherto we were shown no other possibility of reaching the “union” than through rebellion, now we learn from the “Commentary” that the “union of egoists” already exists in “hundreds of thousands” of cases as one of the aspects of existing bourgeois society and that it is accessible to us even without any rebellion and any “Stirner”. Then Sancho shows us
“such unions in actual life. Faust is within such unions when he exclaims: Here I am a human being” (!), “here I dare to be one [Goethe, Faust, I. Teil, “Osterspaziergang"] here Goethe states it even in black and white” (“but the holy person is called Humanus, see Goethe”, [Humanus — a character in Goethe’s unfinished poem “Die Geheimnisse"] cf. “the book”)....... If Hess were to look attentively at real life, he would see hundreds of thousands of such egoistical unions — some of short duration, some enduring.”
Sancho then makes some “children” meet for a game in front of Hess’ window, and makes “a few friends” take Hess to a tavern and lets him associate with his “beloved”.
“Of course, Hess does not notice how full of significance these trivial examples are and how infinitely different they are from the holy societies and indeed from the fraternal, human society of holy socialists” (Sancho contra Hess, Wigand, pp. 193, 194).
In just the same way, on page 305 of “the book”, “association for interests” is graciously accepted as a voluntary material aims and union of egoists.
Thus the union here is reduced, on the one hand, to bourgeois associations and joint-stock companies and, on the other hand, to bourgeois clubs, picnics, etc. That the former belong wholly to the present epoch is well known, and that this equally applies to the latter is a so well known. Let Sancho look at the “unions” of an earlier epoch, e.g., of feudal times, or those of other nations, e.g., of the Italians, English, etc., right down to the “unions” of children, in order to realise what the difference is. By this new interpretation of the union he confirms only his obdurate conservatism. Sancho, who incorporated the whole of bourgeois society, insofar as he liked it, into his allegedly new institution, here by way of supplement only assures us that in his union people will also enjoy themselves and indeed in quite the traditional way. Our bonhomme, of course, does not consider the question: what relations existing independently of him enable — or do not enable — him to “accompany a few friends to a tavern”.
The idea of resolving the whole of society into voluntary groups — which is here, on the basis of hearsay accounts current in Berlin, turned into a Stirnerian idea — belongs to Fourier. [Charles Fourier, Théorie de l'unité universelle] But with Fourier this view presupposes a complete transformation of society and is based on a criticism of the existing “unions”, so much admired by Sancho, and of their infinite tedium. Fourier describes these present-day attempts at amusement in their connection with the existing relations of production and intercourse, and wages a polemic against them; Sancho, far from criticising them, wants on the contrary to transplant them in their entirety into his new “mutual agreement” institution for promoting happiness; he thereby only proves once again how strongly he is held in thrall to existing bourgeois society.
Finally, Sancho delivers the following oratio pro domo, i.e., in defence of the “union”.
“Is a union in which the majority allow themselves to be cheated in regard to their most natural and obvious interests, a union of egoists? Have egoists united where one is the slave or serf of another?... Societies in which the needs of some are satisfied at the expense of others, in which, for example, some can satisfy the need for rest by others having to work to the point of exhaustion ... Hess ... identifies ... these ‘egoistical unions’ of his with Stirner’s union of egoists” ([Wigand,] pp. 192, 193).
Sancho, therefore, expresses the pious wish that in his union, based on mutual exploitation, all the members will be equally powerful, cunning, etc., etc., so that each can exploit the others to exactly the same extent as they exploit him, and so that no one will be “cheated” in regard to his “most natural and obvious interests” or be able to “satisfy his needs at the expense of others”. We note here that Sancho recognises “natural and obvious interests” and “needs” of all — consequently, equal interests and needs. Further, we recall at once page 456 of the book, according to which “overreaching” is a “moral idea inculcated by the guild spirit”, and for a man who has had a “wise education”, it remains a “fixed idea from which no freedom of thought can give protection”. Sancho “gets his thoughts from above and adheres to them” (ibid.). This equal power of all consists, according to his demand, in that everyone should become “omnipotent”, i.e., all should become impotent in relation to one another, a perfectly consistent postulate that coincides with the sentimental desire of the petty bourgeois for a world of hucksters, in which everyone gets his advantage. Or, on the other hand, our saint quite suddenly presupposes a society in which each can satisfy his needs unhampered, without doing so “at the expense of others”, and in that case the theory of exploitation again becomes a meaningless paraphrase for the actual relations of individuals to one another.
After Sancho in his “union” has “devoured” and consumed the others, thereby transforming intercourse with the world into intercourse with himself, he passes from this indirect self-enjoyment to direct self-enjoyment, by consuming himself.