The Holy Family Chapter VI
So far Critical Criticism has seemed to deal more or less with the Critical treatment of various mass-type objects. We now find it dealing with the absolutely Critical object, with itself. So far it has derived its relative glory from Critical debasement, rejection and transformation of definite mass-type objects and persons. It now derives its absolute glory from the Critical debasement, rejection and transformation of the Mass in general. Relative Criticism was faced with relative limits. Absolute Criticism is faced with an absolute limit, the limit of the Mass, the Mass as limit. Relative Criticism in its opposition to definite limits was itself necessarily a limited individual. Absolute Criticism, in its opposition to the general limit, to limit in general, is necessarily an absolute individual. As the various mass-type objects and persons have merged in the impure pulp of the “Mass”, so has still seemingly objective and personal Criticism changed into “pure Criticism”. So far Criticism has appeared to be more or less a quality of the Critical individuals: Reichardt, Edgar, Faucher, etc. Now it is the Subject and Herr Bruno is its incarnation.
So far mass character has seemed to be more or less the quality of the objects and persons criticised; now objects and persons have become the “Mass”, and the “Mass” has become object and person. All previous Critical attitudes have been dissolved in the attitude of absolute Critical wisdom to absolute mass-type stupidity. This basic attitude appears as the meaning, the tendency and the keyword of Criticism’s previous deeds and struggles.
In accordance with its absolute character, “pure” Criticism, as soon as it appears, will pronounce the differentiating “cue”; nevertheless, as Absolute Spirit it must go through a dialectical process. Only at the end of its heavenly motion will its original concept be truly realised (see Hegel, Enzyklopädie).
“But a few months ago,” Absolute Criticism announces, “the Mass believed itself to be of gigantic strength and destined to world mastery within a time that it could count on its fingers.”
It was Herr Bruno Bauer, in Die gute Sache der Freiheit [The Good Cause of Freedom] (his “own” cause, of course), in Die Judenfrage, etc., who counted on his fingers the time until the approaching world mastery, although he admitted he could not give the exact date. To the record of the sins of the Mass he adds the mass of his own sins.
“The Mass thought itself in possession of so many truths which seemed obvious to it.” “But one possesses a truth completely only ... when one follows it through its proofs.”
For Herr Bauer, as for Hegel, truth is an automaton that proves itself. Man must follow it. As in Hegel, the result of real development is nothing but the truth proven, — i.e., brought to consciousness. Absolute Criticism may therefore ask with the most’ narrow-minded theologian:
“What would be the purpose of history if it; task were not precisely to prove these simplest of all truths (such as the movement of the earth round the sun)?”
Just as, according to the earlier teleologists, plants exist to be eaten by animals, and animals to be eaten by men, history exists in order to serve as the act of consumption of theoretical eating — proving. Man exists so that history may exist, and history exists so that the proof of truths exists. In this Critically trivialised form is repeated the speculative wisdom that man exists, and history exists, so that truth may arrive at self-consciousness.
That is why history, like truth, becomes a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which the real human individuals are merely the bearers. That is why Absolute Criticism uses phrases like these:
“History does not allow itself to be mocked at ... History has exerted its greatest efforts to ... History has been engaged ... what would be the purpose of History?... History provides the explicit proof ... History puts forward truths,” etc.
If, as Absolute Criticism asserts, history has so far been occupied with only a few such truths — the simplest of all — which in the end are self-evident, this inadequacy to which Absolute Criticism reduces previous human experiences proves first of all only its own inadequacy. From the un-Critical standpoint the result of history is, on the contrary, that the most complicated truth, the quintessence of all truth, man, is self-evident in the end.
“But truths,” Absolute Criticism continues to argue, “which seem to the mass to be so crystal-clear that they are self-evident from the start ... and that the mass regards proof of them as superfluous, are not worth history supplying explicit proof of them; they are in general no part of the problem which history is engaged in solving.”
In its holy zeal against the mass, Absolute Criticism pays it the finest compliment. If a truth is crystal-clear because it seems crystal-clear to the mass; if history’s attitude to truths depends on the opinion of the mass, then the verdict of the mass is absolute, infallible, the law of history, and history proves only what does not seem crystal-clear to the mass, and therefore needs proof. It is the mass, then, that prescribes history’s “task” and “occupation”.
Absolute Criticism speaks of “truths which are self-evident from the start. In its Critical naivety it invents an absolute “from the start” and an abstract, immutable “mass”. There is just as little difference, in the eyes of Absolute Criticism, between the “from the start” of the sixteenth-century mass and the “from the start” of the nineteenth-century mass as there is between those masses themselves. It is precisely the characteristic feature of a truth which has become true and obvious and is self-evident that it is “self-evident from the start”. Absolute Criticism’s polemic against truths which are self-evident from the start is a polemic against truths which are “self-evident” in general.
A truth which is self-evident has lost its savour, its meaning, its value for Absolute Criticism as it has for divine dialectic. It has become flat, like stale water. On the one hand, therefore, Absolute Criticism proves everything which is self-evident and, in addition, many things which have the luck to be incomprehensible and therefore will never be self-evident. On the other hand, it considers as self-evident everything which needs some elaboration. Why? Because it is self-evident that real problems are not self-evident.
Since, the “Truth”, like history, is an ethereal subject separate from the material mass, it addresses itself not to the empirical man but to the “innermost depths of the soul”; in order to be “truly apprehended” it does not act on his vulgar body, which may live deep down in an English cellar or at the top of a French block of flats; it “stretches” “from end to end” through his idealistic intestines. Absolute Criticism does certify that “the mass” has so far in its own way, i.e., superficially, been affected by the truths that history has been so gracious as to “put forward”; but at the same time it prophesies that
“the attitude of the mass to historical progress will “completely change”.
It will not be long before the mysterious meaning of this Critical prophecy becomes “crystal-clear” to us.
“All great actions of previous history,” we are told, “were failures from the start and had no effective success because the mass became interested in and enthusiastic over them — or, they were bound to come to a pitiful end because the idea underlying them was such that it had to be content with a superficial comprehension and therefore to rely on the approval of the mass.”
It seems that the comprehension which suffices for, and therefore corresponds to, an idea ceases to be superficial. It is only for appearance’s sake that Herr Bruno brings out a relation between an idea and its comprehension, just as it is only for appearance’s sake that he brings out a relation between unsuccessful historical action and the mass. If, therefore, Absolute Criticism condemns something as “superficial”, it is simply previous history, the actions and ideas of which were those of the “masses”. It rejects mass-type — history to replace it by Critical history (see Herr Jules Faucher on English problems of the day). According to previous un-Critical history, i.e., history not conceived in the sense of Absolute Criticism, it must further be precisely distinguished to what extent the mass was “interested” in aims and to what extent it was “enthusiastic” over them.. The “idea” always disgraced itself insofar as it differed from the “interest”. On the other hand, it is easy to understand that every mass-type “interest” that asserts itself historically goes far beyond its real limits in the “idea” or “imagination” when it-first comes on the scene and is confused with human interest in general. This illusion constitutes what Fourier calls the tone of each historical epoch. The interest of the bourgeoisie in the 1789 Revolution, far from having been a “failure”, “won” everything and had “most effective success”, however much its “pathos” has evaporated and the “enthusiastic” flowers with which that Interest adorned its cradle have faded. That interest was so powerful that it was victorious over the pen of Marat, the guillotine of the Terror and the sword of Napoleon as well as the crucifix and the blue blood of the Bourbons. The Revolution was a “failure” only for the mass which did not have in the political “idea” the idea of its real “interest”, i.e., whose true life-principle did not coincide with the life-principle of the Revolution, the mass whose real conditions for emancipation were essentially different from the conditions within which the bourgeoisie could emancipate itself and society. If the Revolution, which can exemplify all great historical “actions”, was a failure, it was so because the mass within whose living conditions it essentially came to a stop, was an exclusive, limited mass, not an all-embracing one. If the Revolution was a failure it was not because the mass was “enthusiastic” over it and “interested” in it, but because the most numerous part of the mass, the part distinct from the bourgeoisie, did not have its real interest in the principle of the Revolution, did not have a revolutionary principle of its own, but only an “idea”, and hence only an object of momentary enthusiasm and only seeming uplift.
Together with the thoroughness of the historical action, the size of the mass whose action it is will therefore increase. In Critical history, according to which in historical actions it is not a matter of the acting masses, of empirical action, or of the empirical interest of this action, but instead is only “a matter of an idea in them”, things must naturally take a different course.
“In the mass,” Criticism teaches us, “not somewhere else, as its former liberal spokesmen believed, is the enemy of the spirit to be found.”
The enemies of progress outside the mass are precisely those products of self-debasement, self-rejection and self-alienation of the mass which have been endowed with independent being and a life of their own. The mass therefore turns against its own deficiency when it turns against the independently existing products of its self-debasement, just as man, turning against the existence of God, turns against his own religiosity. But as those practical self-alienations of the mass exist in the real world in an outward way, the mass must fight them in an outward way. It must by no means hold these products of its self-alienation for mere ideal fantasies, mere alienations of self-consciousness, and must not wish to abolish material estrangement by purely inward spiritual action. As early as 1789 Loustalot’s journal bore the motto:
The great appear great in our eyes
Only because we kneel
Let us rise!
[The great appear great in our eyes
Only because we are kneeling.
Let us rise!]
But to rise it is not enough to do so in thought and to leave hanging over one’s real sensuously perceptible head the real sensuously perceptible yoke that cannot be subtilised away with ideas. Yet Absolute Criticism has learnt from Hegel’s Phänomenologie at least the art of converting real objective chains that exist outside me into merely ideal, merely subjective chains, existing merely in me and thus of converting all external sensuously perceptible struggles into pure struggles of thought.
This Critical transformation is the basis of the pre-established harmony between Critical Criticism and the censorship. From the Critical point of view, the writer’s fight against the censor is not a fight of “man against man”. The censor is nothing but my own tact personified for me by the solicitous police, my own tact struggling against my tactlessness and un-Criticalness. The struggle of the writer with the censor is only seemingly, only in the eyes of wicked sensuousness, anything else than the inner struggle of the writer with himself. Insofar as the censor is really individually different from myself, a police executioner who mishandles the product of my mind by applying an external standard alien to the matter in question, he is a mere mass-type fantasy, an un-Critical figment of the brain. When Feuerbach’s Thesen zur Reform der Philosophy were prohibited by the censorship, it was not the official barbarity of the censorship that was to blame but the uncultured character of Feuerbach’s Thesen. “Pure” Criticism, unsullied by mass or matter, too, has in the censor a purely “ethereal” form, divorced from all mass-type reality.
Absolute Criticism has declared the “Mass” to be the true enemy of the Spirit. It develops this in more detail as follows:
“The Spirit now knows where to look for its only adversary — in the self-deception and the pithlessness of the Mass.”
Absolute Criticism proceeds from the dogma of the absolute competency of the “Spirit”. Furthermore, it proceeds from the dogma of the extramundane existence of the Spirit, i.e., of its existence outside the mass of humanity. Finally, it transforms “the Spirit”, “Progress”, on the one hand, and “the Mass”, on the other, into fixed entities, into concepts, and then relates them to one another as such given rigid extremes. It does not occur to Absolute Criticism to investigate the “Spirit” itself, to find out whether it is not in its spiritualistic nature, in its airy pretensions, that the “Phrase”, “self-deception” and “pithlessness” are rooted. No, the Spirit is absolute, but unfortunately at the same time it continually turns into spiritlessness; it continually reckons without its host. Hence it must necessarily have an adversary that intrigues against it. That adversary is the Mass.
The position is the same with “Progress”. In spite of the pretensions of “Progress”, continual retrogressions and circular movements occur. Far from suspecting that the category “Progress” is completely empty and abstract, Absolute Criticism is so profound as to recognise “Progress” as being absolute, so as to explain retrogression by assuming a “personal adversary” of Progress, the Mass. As “the Mass” is nothing but the “opposite of the Spirit”, of Progress, of “Criticism”, it can accordingly be defined only by this imaginary opposition; apart from that opposition all that Criticism can say about the meaning and the existence of the Mass is only something meaningless, because completely undefined:
“The Mass, in that sense in which the ‘word’ also embraces the so-called educated world.”
“Also” and “so-called suffice for a Critical definition. The “Mass” is therefore distinct from the real masses and exists as the “Mass” only for “Criticism”.
All communist and socialist writers proceeded from the observation that, on the one hand, even the most favourably brilliant deeds seemed to remain without brilliant results, to end in trivialities, and, on the other, all progress of the Spirit had so far been progress against the mass of mankind, driving it into an ever more dehumanised situation. They therefore declared “progress” (see Fourier) to be an inadequate, abstract phrase; they assumed (see Owen among others) a fundamental flaw in the civilised world; that is why they subjected the real foundations of contemporary society to incisive criticism. This communist criticism had practically at once as its counterpart the movement of the great mass, in opposition to which history had been developing so far. One must know the studiousness, the craving for knowledge, the moral energy and ‘the unceasing urge for development of the French and English workers to be able to form an idea of the human nobility of this movement.
How infinitely profound then is “Absolute Criticism”, which, in face of these intellectual and practical facts, sees in a one-sided way only one aspect of the relationship, the continual foundering of the Spirit, and, vexed at this, seeks in addition an adversary of the “Spirit”, which it finds in the “Mass"! In the end this great Critical discovery amounts to a tautology. According to Criticism, the Spirit has so far had a limit, an obstacle, in other words, an adversary, because it has had an adversary. Who, then, is the adversary of the Spirit? Spiritlessness. For the Mass is defined only as the “opposite” of the Spirit, as spiritlessness or, to take the more precise definitions of spiritlessness, as “indolence”, “superficiality”, “self-complacency”. What a fundamental superiority over the communist writers it is not to have traced spiritlessness, indolence, superficiality and self-complacency to their places of origin, but to have denounced them morally and exposed them as the opposite of the Spirit, of Progress! If these qualities are proclaimed qualities of the Mass, as of a subject still distinct from them, that distinction is nothing but a “Critical” semblance of distinction. Only in appearance has Absolute Criticism a definite concrete subject besides the abstract qualities of spiritlessness, indolence, etc., for “the Mass” in the Critical conception is nothing but those abstract qualities, another word for them, a fantastic personification of them. . The relation between “Spirit and Mass” has, however, also a hidden meaning which will be completely revealed in the course of the reasoning. We only indicate it here. That relation discovered by Herr Bruno is, in fact, nothing but a Critically caricatured consummation of Hegel’s conception of history, which, in turn, is nothing but the speculative expression of the Christian-Germanic dogma of the antithesis between Spirit and Matter, between God and the world-. This antithesis finds expression in history, in the human world itself in such a way that a few chosen individuals as the active Spirit are counterposed to the rest of mankind, as the spiritless Mass, as Matter.
Hegel’s conception of history presupposes an Abstract or Absolute Spirit which develops in such a way that mankind is a mere mass that bears the Spirit with a varying degree of consciousness or. unconsciousness. Within empirical, exoteric history, therefor e, Hegel makes a speculative, esoteric history, develop. The history of mankind becomes the history of the Abstract Spirit of mankind, hence a spirit far removed from the real man.
Parallel with this doctrine of Hegel’s there developed in France the theory of the Soctrinairians proclaiming the sovereignty of reason in opposition to the sovereignty of the people, in order to exclude the masses and rule alone. This was quite consistent. If the activity of real mankind is nothing but the activity of a mass of human individuals, then abstract generality, Reason, the Spirit, on the contrary, must have an abstract expression restricted to a few individuals. It then depends on the situation and imaginative power of each individual whether he will claim to be this representative of “the Spirit”.
Already in Hegel the Absolute Spirit of history has its material in the Mass and finds its appropriate expression only in philosophy. The philosopher, however, is only the organ through which the maker of history, the Absolute Spirit, arrives at self-consciousness retrospectively after the movement has ended. The participation of the philosopher in history is reduced to this retrospective consciousness, for the real movement is accomplished by the Absolute Spirit unconsciously. Hence the philosopher appears on the scene post festum [after the event].
Hegel is guilty of being doubly half-hearted: firstly in that, while declaring that philosophy is the mode of existence of the Absolute Spirit, he refuses to recognise the actual philosophical individual as the Absolute Spirit; secondly, in that he lets the Absolute Spirit as Absolute Spirit make history only in appearance. For since the Absolute Spirit becomes conscious of itself as the creative World Spirit only post festum in the philosopher, its making of history exists only in the consciousness, in the opinion and conception of the philosopher, i.e., only in the speculative imagination. Herr Bruno Bauer overcomes Hegel’s half-heartedness.
Firstly, he proclaims Criticism to be the Absolute Spirit and himself to be Criticism. Just as the element of Criticism is banished from the Mass, so the element of the Mass is banished from Criticism. Therefore Criticism sees itself incarnate not in a mass, but exclusively in a handful of chosen men, in Herr Bauer and his disciples.
Herr Bauer furthermore overcomes Hegel’s other half-heartedness. No longer, like the Hegelian Spirit, does he make history post festum and in imagination. He consciously plays the part of the World Spirit in opposition to the mass of the rest of mankind; he enters into a contemporary dramatic relation with that mass; he invents and executes history with a purpose and after mature reflection.
On the one side is the Mass as the passive, spiritless, unhistorical, material element of history. On the other is the Spirit, Criticism, Herr Bruno and Co. as the active element from which all historical action proceeds. The act of transforming society is reduced to the cerebral activity of Critical Criticism.
Indeed, the relation of Criticism, and hence of Criticism incarnate, Herr Bruno and Co., to the Mass is in truth the only historical relation of the present time. The whole of present-day history is reduced to the movement of these two sides against each other. All antitheses have been dissolved in this Critical antithesis.
Critical Criticism, which becomes objective to itself only in relation to its antithesis, to the Mass, to stupidity, is consequently obliged continually to produce this antithesis for itself, and Herren Faucher, Edgar and Szeliga have supplied sufficient proof of their Virtuosity in their speciality, the mass stupefaction of persons and things.
Let us now accompany Absolute Criticism in its campaigns against the Mass.
The “Spirit”, contrary to the Mass, behaves from the outset in a Critical way by considering its own narrow-minded work, Bruno Bauer’s Die Judenfrage, as absolute, and only the opponents of that work as sinners. In Reply No. 1 to attacks on that treatise, he does not show any inkling of its defects; on the contrary, he declares he has set forth the “true”, “general” (!) significance of the Jewish question. In later replies we shall see him obliged to admit his “oversights”.
“The reception my book has had is the beginning of the proof that the very ones who so far have advocated freedom, and still advocate it, must rise against the Spirit more than any others; the defence of my book which 1 am now going to undertake will supply further pond how thoughtless the spokesmen of the Mass are; they have God knows what a great opinion of themselves for supporting emancipation and the dogma of the ‘rights of man’.”
On the occasion of a treatise by Absolute Criticism, the “Mass” must necessarily have begun to prove its antithesis to the Spirit; for it is its antithesis to Absolute Criticism that determines and proves its very existence.
The polemic of a few liberal and rationalist Jews against Herr Bruno’s Die Judenfrage has naturally a Critical meaning quite different from that of the mass-type polemic of the liberals against philosophy and of the rationalists against Strauss. Incidentally, the originality of the above-quoted remark can be judged by the following passage from Hegel:
“We can here note the particular form of bad conscience manifest in the kind of eloquence with which that shallowness” (of the liberals) “plumes itself, and first of all in the fact that it speaks most of Spirit where its speech has the least spirit, and uses the word life”, etc., “where it is most dead and withered.” [G.W.F. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts. Vorrede]
As for the “rights of man”, it has been proved to Herr Bruno (“On the Jewish Question”, Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher) that it is “he himself’, not the spokesmen of the Mass, who has misunderstood and dogmatically mishandled the essence of those rights. Compared to his discovery that the rights of man are not “inborn” — a discovery which has been made innumerable times in England during the last 40-odd years — Fourier’s assertion that the right to fish, to hunt, etc., are inborn rights of men is one of genius.
We give only a few examples of Herr Bruno’s fight against Philippson, Hirsch and others. Even such poor opponents as these are not disposed of by Absolute Criticism. It is by no means preposterous of Herr Philippson, as Absolute Criticism maintains, to say:
“Bauer conceives a peculiar kind of state ... a philosophical ideal of a state.”
Herr Bruno, who confuses the state with humanity, the rights of man with man and political emancipation with human emancipation, was bound, if not to conceive, at least to imagine a peculiar kind of state, a philosophical ideal of a state.
“Instead of writing his laboured statement, the rhetorician” (Herr Hirsch) “would have done better to refute my proof that the Christian state, having as its vital principle a definite religion, cannot allow adherents of another particular religion ... complete equality with its own social estates.”
Had the rhetorician Hirsch really refuted Herr Bruno’s proof and shown, as is done in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, that the state of social estates and of exclusive Christianity is not only an incomplete state but an incomplete Christian state, Herr Bruno would have answered as he does to that refutation:
“Objections in this matter are meaningless.”
Herr Hirsch is quite correct when in answer to Herr Bruno’s statement:
“By pressure against the mainsprings of history the Jews provided counterpressure”,
“Then they must have counted for something in the making of history, and if Bauer himself asserts this, he has no right to assert, on the other hand, that they did not contribute anything to the making of modern times.”
Herr Bruno answers:
“An eyesore is something too — does that mean it contributes to develop my eyesight?”
Something which has been an eyesore to me from birth, as the Jews have been to the Christian world, and which persists and develops with the eye is not an ordinary sore, but a wonderful one, one that really belongs to my eye and must even contribute to a highly original development of my eyesight. The Critical “eyesore” does not therefore hurt the rhetorician “Hirsch”. Incidentally, the criticism quoted above revealed to Herr Bruno the significance of Jewry in “the making of modern times”.
The theological mind of Absolute Criticism feels so offended by a deputy of the Rhenish Landtag stating that “the Jews are queer in their own Jewish way, not in our so-called Christian way”, that it is still “calling him to order for using that argument”.
Concerning the assertion of another deputy that “civil equality of the Jews can be implemented only where Jewry no longer exists”, Herr Bruno comments:
“Correct! That is correct if Criticism’s other proposition, which 1 put forward in my treatise, is not omitted”, namely the proposition that Christianity also must have ceased to exist.
We see that in its Reply No. 1 to the attacks upon Die Judenfrage, Absolute Criticism still regards the abolition of religion . atheism, as the condition for civil equality. In its first stage it has therefore not yet acquired any deeper insight into the essence of the state than into the “oversights” of its “work”.
Absolute Criticism feels offended when one of its intended “latest” scientific discoveries is betrayed as something already generally recognised. A Rhenish deputy remarks:
“No one has yet maintained that France and Belgium were distinguished by particular clarity in recognising principles in the organisation of their political affairs.”
Absolute Criticism could have objected that that assertion transferred the present into the past by representing as traditional the now trivial view of the inadequacy of French political principles. Such a relevant objection ‘ would not be profitable for Absolute Criticism. On the contrary, it must assert the obsolete view to be that at present prevailing, and proclaim the now prevailing view a Critical mystery which its investigation still has to reveal to the Mass. Hence it must say:
“It” (the antiquated prejudice) “has been asserted by very many” (of the Mass): “but a thorough investigation of history will provide the proof that even after the great work done by France to comprehend the principles, much still remains to be achieved.”
That means that a thorough investigation of history will not itself “achieve” the comprehension of the principles. It will only prove in its thoroughness that “much still remains to be achieved”. A great achievement, especially after the works of the Socialists! Nevertheless Herr Bruno already achieves much for the comprehension of the present social state of things by his remark:
“The certainty prevailing at present is uncertainty.”
If Hegel says that the prevailing Chinese certainty is “Being”, that the prevailing Indian certainty is “Nothing”, etc., Absolute Criticism joins him in the “pure” way when it resolves the character of the present time in the logical category “Uncertainty”, and all the purer since “Uncertainty”, like “Being” and “Nothing”, belongs to the first chapter of speculative logic, the chapter on “Quality”.
We cannot leave No. 1 of Die Judenfrage without a general remark.
One of the chief pursuits of Absolute Criticism consists in first bringing all questions of the day into their right setting. For it does not answer the real questions — it substitutes quite different ones. As it makes everything, it must also first make the “questions of the day”, make them its own questions, questions of Critical Criticism. If it were a question of the Code Napoléon, it would prove that it is properly a question of the Pentateuch. Its setting of “questions of the day” is Critical distortion and misrepresentation of them. It thus distorted the “Jewish question”, too, in such a way that it did not need to investigate political emancipation, which is the subject-matter of that question, but could instead confine itself to a criticism of the Jewish religion and a description of the Christian-Germanic state.
This method, too, like all Absolute Criticism’s originalities, is the repetition of a speculative verbal trick. Speculative philosophy, namely, Hegel’s philosophy, had to transpose all questions from the form of common sense to the form of speculative reason and convert the real question into a speculative one to be able to answer it. Having distorted my question on my lips and, like the catechism, put its own question into my mouth, it could, of course, like the catechism, have its ready answer to all my questions.
“Political!” Absolute Criticism is literally horrified at the presence of this word in Professor Hinrichs’ lectures.
“Whoever has followed the development of modern times and knows history will also know that the political movements at present taking place have a significance quite different” (!) “from a political one: at their base” (at their base! ... now for basic wisdom) “they have a social” (!) “significance, which, as we know” (!) “is such” (!) “that all political interests appear insignificant” (!) “in comparison with it.”
A few months before the Critical Literatur-Zeitung began to be published, there appeared, as we know (!), Herr Bruno’s fantastic political treatise: Staat, Religion und Parthei!
If political movements have social significance, how can political interests appear “insignificant” in comparison with their own social significance?
“Herr Hinrichs does not know his way about either in his own house or anywhere else in the world.... He could not be at home anywhere because ... because Criticism, which in the last four years has begun and carried on its by no means ‘political’ but ‘social'” (!) “work, has remained completely” (!) “unknown to him.”
Criticism, which according to the opinion of the Mass carried on “by no means political” but “in all respects theological” work, is still content with the word “social”, even now when it has uttered this word for the first time, not just in the last four years, but since its literary birth.
Since socialist writings spread in Germany the recognition that all human aspirations and actions without exception have social significance, Herr Bruno can call his theological works social too. But what a Critical demand it is that Professor Hinrichs should have derived socialism from an acquaintance with Bauer’s works, considering that all Bruno Bauer’s works published up to the appearance of Hinrichs’ lectures, when they do draw practical conclusions, draw political ones! It was impossible, un-Critically speaking, for Professor Hinrichs to supplement Herr Bruno’s published works with his as yet unpublished ones. From the Critical point of view, the Mass is, of course, obliged to interpret all Absolute Criticism’s mass-type “movements”, as well as “political” ones, from the angle of the future and of Absolute Progress! But in order that Herr Hinrichs, after becoming acquainted with the Literatur-Zeitung, may never again forget the word “social” or fail to recognise the “social” character of Criticism, Criticism prohibits the word “political” for the third time before the whole world and solemnly repeats the word “social” for the third time.
“If the true tendency of modern history is considered it is no longer a question of political, but — but of social significance”, etc.
Just as Professor Hinrichs is the scapegoat for the former political” movements, so is he also for the “Hegelian” movements and expressions which Absolute Criticism used intentionally up to the publication of the Literatur-Zeitung, and continues to use unintentionally in it.
Once “real Hegelian” and twice “Hegelian philosopher” are thrown in Hinrichs’ face as catchwords. Herr Bruno even “hopes” that the “banal expressions so tiresomely circulated in all the books of the Hegelian school” (in particular in his own books) will, in view of their great “exhaustion” as seen in Professor Hinrichs’ lectures, soon reach the end of their journey. From the “exhaustion” of Professor Hinrichs, Herr Bruno hopes for the dissolution of Hegel’s philosophy and thereby his own redemption from it.
Thus in its first campaign Absolute Criticism overthrows its own long-worshipped gods, “Politics” and “Philosophy’, declaring them idols of Professor Hinrichs.
Glorious first campaign!