Selected Essays by Karl Marx/On The Jewish Question
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On The Jewish Question
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- 2. Bruno Bauer, Die Fähigkeit der heutigen Juden und Christen, frei zu werden (The Capacity of Modern Jews and Christians to become free), Zurich 1843.
The German Jews crave for emancipation. What emancipation do they crave? Civic, political emancipation.
Bruno Bauer answers them: Nobody in Germany is politically emancipated. We ourselves are unfree. How shall we liberate you? You Jews are egoists, if you demand a special emancipation for yourselves as Jews. As Germans you ought to labour for the political emancipation of Germany, as men for human emancipation, and you ought to feel the special nature of your oppression and your disgrace not as an exception from the rule, but rather as its confirmation.
Or do Jews demand to be put on an equal footing with Christian subjects? Then they recognize the Christian State as justified, then they recognize the régime of general subjugation. Why are they displeased at their special yoke, when the general yoke pleases them? Why should Germans interest themselves in the emancipation of the Jews, if Jews do not interest themselves in the emancipation of Germans?
The Christian State knows only privileges. In that State the Jew possesses the privilege of being a Jew. As a Jew, he has rights which a Christian has not. Why does he crave the rights which he has not, and which Christians enjoy?
If the Jew wants to be emancipated from the Christian State, then he should demand that the Christian State abandon its religious prejudice. Will the Jew abandon his religious prejudice? Has he therefore the right to demand of another this abdication of religion?
By its very nature the Christian State cannot emancipate the Jews; but, adds Bauer, by his very nature the Jew cannot be emancipated.
So long as the State is Christian and the Jew is Jewish, both are equally incapable of granting and receiving emancipation.
The Christian State can only behave towards the Jew in the manner of a Christian State, that is in a privileged manner, by granting the separation of the Jew from the other subjects, but causing him to feel the pressure of the other separated spheres, and all the more onerously inasmuch as the Jew is in religious antagonism to the dominant religion. But the Jew also can only conduct himself towards the State in a Jewish fashion, that is as a stranger, by opposing his chimerical nationality to the real nationality, his illusory law to the real law, by imagining that his separation from humanity is justified, by abstaining on principle from all participation in the historical movement, by waiting on a future which has nothing in common with the general future of mankind, by regarding himself as a member of the Jewish people and the Jewish people as the chosen people.
Upon what grounds therefore do you Jews crave emancipation? On account of your religion? It is the mortal enemy of the State religion. As citizens? There are no citizens in Germany. As men? You are as little men as He on whom you called.
After giving a criticism of the previous positions and solutions of the question, Bauer has freshly posited the question of Jewish emancipation. How, he asks, are they constituted, the Jew to be emancipated, and the Christian State which is to emancipate? He replies by a criticism of the Jewish religion, he analyses the religious antagonism between Judaism and Christianity, he explains the nature of the Christian State, and all this with boldness, acuteness, spirit, and thoroughness, in a style as precise as it is forcible and energetic.
How then does Bauer solve the Jewish question? What is the result? The formulation of a question is its solution. The criticism of the Jewish question is the answer to the Jewish question.
The summary is therefore as follows:
We must emancipate ourselves before we are able to emancipate others.
The most rigid form of the antagonism between the Jew and the Christian is the religious antagonism. How is this antagonism resolved? By making it impossible. How is a religious antagonism made impossible? By abolishing religion.
As soon as Jew and Christian recognize their respective religions as different stages in the development of the human mind, as different snake skins which history has cast off, and men as the snakes encased therein, they stand no longer in a religious relationship, but in a critical, a scientific, a human one. Science then constitutes their unity. Antagonisms in science, however, are resolved by science itself.
The German Jew is particularly affected by the lack of political emancipation in general and the pronounced Christianity of the State. In Bauer's sense, however, the Jewish question has a general significance independent of the specific German conditions.
It is the question of the relation of religion to the State, of the contradiction between religious entanglement and political emancipation. Emancipation from religion is posited as a condition, both for the Jews, who desire to be politically emancipated, and for the State, which shall emancipate and itself be emancipated.
"Good, you say, and the Jew says so too, the Jew also is not to be emancipated as Jew, not because he is a Jew, not because he has such an excellent, general, human principle of morality; the Jew will rather retire behind the citizen and be a citizen, although he is a Jew and wants to remain one: that is, he is and remains a Jew, in spite of the fact that he is a citizen and lives in general human relationships: his Jewish and limited nature always and eventually triumphs over his human and political obligations. The prejudice remains in spite of the fact that it has been outstripped by general principles. If, however, it remains, it rather outstrips everything else." "Only sophistically and to outward seeming would the Jew be able to remain a Jew in civic life; if he desired to remain a Jew, the mere semblance would therefore be the essential thing and would triumph, that is, his life in the State would be only a semblance or a passing exception to the rule and the nature of things" ("The Capacity of modern Jews and Christians to become free," p. 57).
Let us see, on the other hand, how Bauer describes the task of the State: "France has recently (proceedings of the Chamber of Deputies, 26th December 1840) in connection with the Jewish question—as constantly in all other political questions—given us a glimpse of a life which is free, but revokes its freedom in law, and therefore asserts it to be a sham, and on the other hand contradicts its free law by its act." "The Jewish Question," p. 64.
"General freedom is not yet legal in France, the Jewish question is not yet solved, because legal freedom—that all citizens are equal—is limited in practice, which is still dominated by religious privileges, and this unfreedom in practice reacts on the law, compelling the latter to sanction the division of nominally free citizens into oppressed and oppressor," p. 65.
When, therefore, would the Jewish problem be solved for France?
"The Jew, for instance, must cease to be a Jew if he will not allow himself to be hindered by his law from fulfilling his duties towards the State and his fellow-citizens, going, for example, to the Chamber of Deputies on the Sabbath and taking part in the public sittings. Every religious privilege, and consequently the monopoly of a privileged Church, must be surrendered, and if few or many or even the great majority believe they ought still to perform religious duties, this performance must be left to themselves as a private matter," p. 65. "When there is no longer a privileged religion, there will no longer be a religion. Take from religion its excommunicating power, and it exists no longer," p. 66.
On the one hand, Bauer states that the Jew must abandon Judaism, and that man must abandon religion, in order to be emancipated as a citizen. On the other hand, he feels he is logical in interpreting the political abolition of religion to mean the abolition of religion altogether. The State, which presupposes religion, is as yet no true, no real State. "At any rate the religious idea gives the State guarantees. But what State? What kind of State?" p. 97.
At this point we are brought up against the one-sided conception of the Jewish question.
It was by no means sufficient to inquire: Who shall emancipate? Who shall be emancipated? Criticism had a third task to perform.
It had to ask: what kind of emancipation are we concerned with? Upon what conditions is the desired emancipation based? The criticism of political emancipation itself was only the eventual criticism of the Jewish question and its true solution, in the "general question of the time."
Because Bauer does not raise the question to this level he falls into contradictions. He posits conditions which are not involved in the nature of political emancipation itself. He suggests questions which his problem does not imply, and he solves problems which leave his questions unsettled. Whereas Bauer says of the opponents of Jewish emancipation: "Their mistake was that they assumed the Christian State to be the only real State, and did not subject it to the same criticism that they applied to Judaism," we find Bauer's mistake to consist in the fact that it is only the Christian State, and not the "general State," that he subjects to criticism, that he does not investigate the relation of political emancipation to human emancipation, and consequently lays down conditions which are only explicable from an uncritical confusion of political emancipation with general human emancipation.
When Bauer asks Jews: Have you the right from your standpoint to crave political emancipation? we would inquire on the contrary: Has the standpoint of political emancipation the right to demand of Jews the abolition of Judaism, or from men generally the abolition of religion.
The complexion of the Jewish question changes according to the State in which Jews find themselves. In Germany, where no political State, no State as State exists, the Jewish question is a purely theological question. The Jew finds himself in religious antagonism to the State, which acknowledges Christianity as its basis. This State is theologian ex professo. Here criticism is criticism of theology, is two-edged criticism, criticism of Christian and criticism of Jewish theology. But however critical we may be, we cannot get out of the theological circle.
In France, in the constitutional State, the Jewish question is the question of constitutionalism, of the incompleteness of political emancipation. As the semblance of a State religion is there preserved, although in a meaningless and self-contradictory formula, in the formula of a religion of the majority, the relationship of Jews to the State retains the semblance of a religious and theological antagonism.
It is only in the North American Free States—at least in part of them—that the Jewish question loses its theological significance and becomes a really secular question. Only where the political State exists in its completeness can the relation of the Jew, of the religious man generally, to the political State, and therefore the relation of religion to the State, be studied in its special features and its purity. The criticism of this relationship ceases to be theological criticism when the State ceases to adopt a theological attitude towards religion, when its attitude towards religion becomes purely political. The criticism then becomes criticism of the political State. At this point, where the question ceases to be theological, Bauer's criticism ceases to be critical. In the United States there is neither a State religion nor a religion declared to be that of the majority, nor the predominance of one cult over another. The State is alien to all cults. (Marie ou l'esclavage aux Etats-Unis, etc., by G. Beaumont, Paris 1835, p. 214.) There are even North American States where "the constitution does not impose religious beliefs or the practice of a cult as a condition of political privileges" (l. c. p. 225). Yet "nobody in the United States believes that a man without religion might be an honest man" (l. c. p. 224). Yet North America is pre-eminently the country of religiosity, as Beaumont, Tocqueville and the Englishman Hamilton assure us with one voice. Meanwhile, the North American States only serve us as an example. The question is: What is the attitude of completed political emancipation towards religion? If even in the country of completed political emancipation we find religion not only existing, but in a fresh and vital state, it proves that the existence of religion does not contradict the completeness of the State. But as the existence of religion indicates the presence of a defect, the source of this defect may only be looked for in the nature of the State. We are no longer concerned with religion as the basis, but only as the phenomenon of secular shortcomings. Consequently we explain the religious handicap of the free citizens from their secular handicap. We do not assert that they must remove their religious handicap as soon as they cast off their secular fetters. We do not transform secular questions into theological questions. We transform theological questions into secular questions.
After history has for so long been dissolved in superstition, we dissolve the superstition in history. The question of the relation of political emancipation becomes for us the question of the relation of political emancipation to human emancipation. We criticize the religious weakness of the political State by criticizing the political State in its secular construction, apart from the religious weaknesses. We transmute the contradiction of the State with a specific religion, like Judaism, into the contradiction of the State with specific secular elements, and the contradiction of the State with religion generally into the contradiction of the State with its general assumptions.
The political emancipation of the Jew, of the Christian, of the religious man in general, means the emancipation of the State from Judaism, from Christianity, from religion generally. In its form as State, in the manner peculiar to its nature, the State emancipates itself from religion by emancipating itself from the State religion, that is, by the State as State acknowledging no religion.
Political emancipation from religion is not a thorough-going and consistent emancipation from religion, because political emancipation is not effectual and consistent human emancipation.
The limit of political emancipation is immediately seen to consist in the fact that the State can cast off a fetter without men really becoming free from it, that the State can become a free State without men becoming free men. Bauer tacitly assents to this in laying down the following condition for political emancipation. "Every religious privilege, and therefore the monopoly of a privileged Church must be surrendered, and if few or many or even the great majority believe they ought still to perform religious duties, this performance must be left to themselves as a private matter." The State may therefore achieve emancipation from religion, although the great majority are still religious. And the great majority do not cease to be religious by being religious privately.
The political elevation of the individual above religion shares all the defects and all the advantages of political elevation generally. For example, the State as State annuls private property, the individual declares in a political manner that private property is abolished as soon as he abolishes the census for active and passive eligibility, which has been done in many North American States. Hamilton interprets this fact quite correctly from the political standpoint: "The great multitude has won the victory over the property owners and the monied men." Is not private property ideally abolished when the have-nots become the legislators of the haves? The census is the last political form to recognize private property.
Yet private property is not only not abolished with the political annulment of private property, but is even implied therein. The State abolishes in its fashion the distinctions of birth, status, education, and occupation when it declares birth, status, education, and occupation to be unpolitical distinctions, when, without taking account of these distinctions, it calls upon every member of the community to participate in the popular sovereignty on an equal footing, when it deals with all the elements of the real popular life from the State's point of view. Nevertheless the State leaves private property, education, occupation operating in their own manner, that is, as education, as occupation, and developing their potentialities.
From abolishing these actual distinctions, it rather exists only upon their basis, and is conscious of being a political State and enforcing its communal principle only in opposition to these its elements. Consequently Hegel defines the relation of the political State to religion quite correctly when he says: "If the State is to have reality as the ethical, self-conscious realization of spirit, it must be distinguished from the form of authority and faith. But this distinction arises only in so far as the ecclesiastical side is in itself divided into several churches. Then only is the State seen to be superior to them, and wins and brings into existence the universality of thought as the principle of its form." ("Philosophy of Right," Eng. tr. p. 270.)
By its nature the completed political State is the generic life of man in contradistinction to his material life. All the assumptions of this egoistic life remain in existence outside the sphere of the State, in bourgeois society, but as the peculiarities of bourgeois society.
Where the political State has attained its true development, the individual leads not only in thought, in consciousness, but in reality, a double life, a heavenly and an earthly life, a life in the political community, wherein he counts as a member of the community, and a life in bourgeois society, wherein he is active as a private person, regarding other men as a means, degrading himself into a means and becoming a plaything of alien powers.
The political State is related to bourgeois society as spiritualistically as heaven is to earth. It occupies the same position of antagonism towards bourgeois society; it subdues the latter just as religion overcomes the limitations of the profane world, that is, by recognizing bourgeois society and allowing the latter to dominate it. Man in his outermost reality, in bourgeois society, is a profane being. Here, where he is a real individual for himself and others, he is an untrue phenomenon.
In the State, on the other hand, where the individual is a generic being, he is the imaginary member of an imagined sovereignty, he is robbed of his real individual life and filled with an unreal universality.
The conflict in which the individual as the professor of a particular religion is involved with his citizenship, with other individuals as members of the community, reduces itself to the secular cleavage between the political State and bourgeois society.
For the individual as a bourgeois, "life in the State is only a semblance, or a passing exception to the rule and the nature of things." In any case, the bourgeois, like the Jew, remains only sophistically in political life, just as the citizen remains a Jew or a bourgeois only sophistically; but this sophistry is not personal. It is the sophistry of the political State itself. The difference between the religious individual and the citizen is the difference between the merchant and the citizen, between the labourer and the citizen, between the landowner and the citizen, between the living individual and the citizen. The contradiction in which the religious individual is involved with the political individual is the same contradiction in which the bourgeois is involved with the citizen, in which the member of bourgeois society is involved with his political lionskin.
This secular conflict to which the Jewish question is finally reduced, the relation of the political State to its fundamental conditions, whether the latter be material elements, like private property, etc., or spiritual elements, like education or religion, the conflict between the general interest and the private interest, the cleavage between the political State and bourgeois society—these secular antagonisms are left unnoticed by Bauer, while he controverts their religious expression. "It is precisely its foundation, the need which assures to bourgeois society its existence and guarantees its necessity, which exposes its existence to constant dangers, maintains in it an uncertain element and converts the latter into a constantly changing mixture of poverty and wealth, distress and prosperity," p. 8.
Bourgeois society in its antagonism to the political State is recognized as necessary, because the political State is recognized as necessary.
Political emancipation at least represents important progress; while not the last form of human emancipation generally, it is the last form of human emancipation within the existing world order. It is understood that we are speaking here of real, of practical emancipation.
The individual emancipates himself politically from religion by banishing it from public right into private right. It is no longer the spirit of the State, where the individual—although in a limited manner, under a particular form and in a special sphere—behaves as a generic being, in conjunction with other individuals; it has become the spirit of bourgeois society, of the sphere of egoism, of the bellum omnium contra omnes. It is no longer the essence of the community, but the essence of social distinctions.
It has become the expression of the separation of the individual from his community, from himself and from other individuals—what it was originally. It is only the abstract profession of special perversity, of private whim. The infinite splitting-up of religion in North America, for example, gives it outwardly the form of a purely individual concern. It has been added to the heap of private interests, and exiled from the community as community. But there is no misunderstanding about the limits of political emancipation. The division of the individual into a public and a private individual, the expulsion of religion from the State into bourgeois society, is not a step, it is the completion of political emancipation, which thus neither abolishes nor seeks to abolish the real religiosity of the individual.
The splitting-up of the individual into Jew and citizen, into Protestant and citizen, into a religious person and citizen, this decomposition does not belie citizenship; it is not a circumvention of political emancipation; it is political emancipation itself, it is the political manner of becoming emancipated from religion. Moreover, in times when the political State as a political State is forcibly born of bourgeois society, when human self-liberation strives to realize itself under the form of political self-liberation, the State is driven the whole length of abolishing, of destroying religion, but it also proceeds to the abolition of private property, to the law of maximum, to confiscation, to progressive taxation, just as it proceeds to the abolition of life, to the guillotine. In the moment of its heightened consciousness, the political life seeks to suppress its fundamental conditions, bourgeois society and its elements, and to constitute itself as the real and uncontradictory generic life of the individual. It is, however, only enabled to do this by a flagrant violation of its own conditions of life, by declaring the revolution to be permanent, and the political drama therefore ends as inevitably with the restoration of religion, of private property, and all the elements of bourgeois society, as war ends with peace.
Why not even the so-called Christian State, which acknowledges Christianity as its basis, as the State religion, and therefore adopts a proscriptive attitude towards other religions is the completed Christian State. The latter is rather the atheistic State, the democratic State, the State which consigns religion among the other elements of bourgeois society. The State which is still theological and which still officially prescribes belief in Christianity, has not yet succeeded in giving secular and human expression to those human foundations whose exaggerated expression is Christianity. The so-called Christian State is simply no State at all, because it is not Christianity as a religion, but only the human background of the Christian religion which can realize itself in actual human creations.
The so-called Christian State is the Christian denial of the State, although it is not by any means the political realization of Christianity. The State, which still professes Christianity in the form of religion, does not yet profess it in the form of the State, for its attitude towards religion is a religious attitude. It is not yet the actual realization of the human basis of religion, because it still operates upon the unreality, upon the imaginary shape of this human kernel. The so-called Christian State is the incomplete State, and the Christian religion is regarded by it as the complement and the redemption of its imperfection. Consequently religion becomes its instrument, and it is the State of hypocrisy. The so-called Christian State needs the Christian religion in order to complete itself as a State. The democratic State, the real State, does not need religion for its political completion. It can rather do without religion, because it represents the realization of the human basis of religion in a secular manner. The so-called Christian State, on the other hand, adopts a political attitude towards religion and a religious attitude towards politics. If it degrades the State form to the level of a fiction, it equally degrades religion to a fiction.
In order to elucidate these antagonisms, let us consider Bauer's construction of the Christian State, a construction which has proceeded from contemplating the Christian-Germanic State.
Says Bauer: "In order to demonstrate the impossibility or the non-existence of a Christian State, we are frequently referred to that pronouncement in the Gospel which it not only does not follow, but cannot follow without dissolving itself completely as a State." "But the question is not settled so easily. What then does this Gospel text enjoin? Supernatural self-denial, subjection to the authority of revelation, the turning away from the State, the abolition of secular conditions. Now all this is enjoined and carried out by the Christian State. It has absorbed the spirit of the Gospel, and if it does not repeat it in the same words as the Gospel expresses it, the reason is only because it expresses this spirit in the State form, that is, in forms which are indeed derived from the State of this world, but which are degraded to a sham in the religious rebirth which they have to undergo."
Bauer goes on to show how the people of the Christian State are only a sham people, who no longer have any will of their own, but possess their real existence in the chief to whom they are subject, but from whom they were originally and naturally alien, as he was given to them by God; how the laws of this people are not their creation, but positive revelations; how their chief requires privileged mediators with his own people, with the masses; how these masses themselves are split up into a multitude of special circles, which are formed and determined by chance, which are distinguished by their interests, their particular passions and prejudices, and receive as a privilege permission to make mutual compacts (p. 56).
The separation of the "spirit of the Gospel" from the "letter of the Gospel" is an irreligious act. The State, which makes the Gospel speak in the letter of politics, in other letters than those of the Holy Spirit, commits a sacrilege if not in human eyes, at least in its own religious eyes. The State, which acknowledges Christianity as its supreme embodiment and the Bible as its charter, must be confronted with the words of Holy Writ, for the writings are sacred to the letter. The State lapses into a painful, and from the standpoint of the religious consciousness, irresolvable contradiction, when it is pinned down to that pronouncement of the Gospel, which it "not only does not follow, but cannot follow without completely dissolving itself as a State." And why does it not want to completely dissolve itself? To this question it can find no answer, either for itself or for others. In its own consciousness the official Christian State is an Ought, which is impossible of realization. Only by lies can it persuade itself of the reality of its existence, and consequently it always remains for itself an object of doubt, an unreliable and ambiguous object. The critic is therefore quite justified in forcing the State, which appeals to the Bible, into a condition of mental derangement where it no longer knows whether it is a phantasm or a reality, where the infamy of its secular objects, for which religion serves as a mantle, falls into irresolvable conflict with the integrity of its religious consciousness, to which religion appears as the object of the world. This State can only redeem itself from its inner torment by becoming the hangman of the Catholic Church. As against the latter, which declares the secular power to be its serving body, the State is impotent. Impotent is the secular power which claimed to be the rule of the religious spirit.
In the so-called Christian State it is true that alienation counts, but not the individual. The only individual who counts, the king, is a being specially distinguished from other individuals, who is also religious and directly connected with heaven, with God. The relations which here prevail are still relations of faith. The religious spirit is therefore not yet really secularized.
Moreover, the religious spirit cannot be really secularized, for what in fact is it but the unworldly form of a stage in the development of the human mind? The religious spirit can only be realized in so far as the stage of development of the human mind, whose religious expression it is, emerges and constitutes itself in its secular form. This is what happens in the democratic State. It is not Christianity, but the human basis of Christianity which is the basis of this State. Religion remains the ideal, unworldly consciousness of its members, because it is the ideal form of the human stage of development which it represents.
The members of the political State are religious by virtue of the dualism between the individual life and the generic life, between the life of bourgeois society and the political life; they are religious inasmuch as the individual regards as his true life the political life beyond his real individuality, in so far as religion is here the spirit of bourgeois society, the expression of the separation and the alienation of man from man. The political democracy is Christian to the extent that it regards every individual as the sovereign, the supreme being, but it means the individual in his uncultivated, unsocial aspect, the individual in his fortuitous existence, the individual just as he is, the individual as he is destroyed, lost, and alienated through the whole organization of our society, as he is given under the dominance of inhuman conditions and elements, in a word, the individual who is not yet a real generic being.
The sovereignty of the individual, as an alien being distinguished from the real individual, which is the chimera, the dream, and the postulate of Christianity, is under democracy sensual reality, the present, and the secular maximum.
The religious and theological consciousness itself is heightened and accentuated under a completed democracy, because it is apparently without political significance, without earthly aims, an affair of misanthropic feeling, the expression of narrow-mindedness, the product of caprice, because it is a really other-worldly life. Here Christianity achieves the practical expression of its universal religious significance, in that the most various philosophies are marshalled in the form of Christianity, and, what is more, other members of society are not required to subscribe to Christianity, but to some kind of religion. The religious consciousness riots in the wealth of religious antagonism and of religious variety.
We have therefore shown: Political emancipation from religion leaves religion in existence, although not as a privileged religion. The contradiction in which the supporter of a particular religion finds himself involved with his citizenship, is only a part of the general secular contradiction between the political State and bourgeois society. The completion of the Christian State is the State which professes to be a State and abstracts from the religion of its members. The emancipation of the State from religion is not the emancipation of the real individual from religion.
We do not therefore tell the Jews with Bauer: You cannot be politically emancipated without radically emancipating yourselves from Judaism. We tell them rather: Because you could be emancipated politically without entirely breaking away from Judaism, political emancipation is not human emancipation. If you Jews desire to be politically emancipated without emancipating yourselves humanly, the incompleteness, the contradiction, lies not only in you, but it also resides in the essence and the category of political emancipation. If you remain enmeshed in this category, you share in a general disability.
But if the individual, although a Jew, can be politically emancipated and receive civic rights, can he claim and receive the so-called rights of man? Bauer denies it: "The question is whether the Jew as such, that is the Jew who admits that by his very nature he is compelled to live in everlasting separation from others, is capable of receiving and conceding to others the general rights of man."
"The idea of the rights of man was first discovered in the last century so far as the Christian world is concerned. It is not innate in the individual, it is rather conquered in the struggle with the historical traditions in which the individual has hitherto been brought up. Thus the rights of man are not a gift from Nature, not a legacy from past history, but the price of the struggle against the accident of birth and against the privileges which history has bequeathed from generation to generation up to now. They are the result of education, and can only be possessed by those who have acquired and earned them."
"Can they really be claimed by the Jew? So long as he is a Jew, the limiting quality which makes him a Jew must triumph over the human quality which binds him as a man to other men, and must separate him from gentiles. By this separation he proclaims that the special quality which makes him a Jew is his real supreme quality, to which the human quality must give place."
"In the same manner the Christian as Christian cannot grant the rights of man," pp. 19, 20.
According to Bauer, the individual must sacrifice the "privilege of faith" in order to be able to receive the general rights of man. Let us consider for a moment the so-called rights of man, in fact the rights of man in their authentic shape, in the shape which they possess among their discoverers, the North Americans and the French. In part these rights of man are political rights, rights which are only exercised in the community with others. Participation in the affairs of the community, in fact of the political community, forms their substance. They come within the category of political freedom, of civil rights, which does not, as we have seen, by any means presuppose the unequivocal and positive abolition of religion, and therefore of Judaism. It remains to consider the other aspect of human rights, the droits de l'homme apart from the droits du citoyen.
Among them is to be found liberty of conscience, the right to practise any cult to one's liking. The privilege of belief is expressly recognized, either as a human right or as the consequence of a human right, of freedom.
Declaration of the rights of man and of citizenship, 1791, article 10: No penalty should attach to the holding of religious opinions. The right of every man to practise the religious cult to which he is attached is guaranteed by clause 1 of the Constitution of 1791.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man, etc., 1793, includes among human rights, article 7: The free practice of cults. With respect to the right to publish ideas and opinions and to assemble for the practice of a cult, it is even stated: The necessity for enunciating these rights presupposes either the presence or the recent memory of a despotism.
Constitution of Pennsylvania, article 9, paragraph 3: All men have received from Nature the imprescriptible right to worship the Almighty according to the dictates of their conscience, and nobody may legally be constrained to follow, to institute, or to support, against his will, any religious cult or ministry. In no case may any human authority interfere in questions of conscience and control the prerogatives of the soul.
Constitution of New Hampshire, articles 5 and 6: Among the number of natural rights, some are inalienable by their nature, because nothing can take their place. Such are the rights of conscience.
The incompatibility of religion with the rights of man is thus not implied by the conception of the rights of man, because the right to be religious, to be religious according to one's liking, to practise the cult of a particular religion, is expressly included among the rights of man. The privilege of faith is a general right of man.
The rights of man as such are distinguished from the rights of the citizen. What is man apart from the citizen? Nothing else than a member of bourgeois society. Why is the member of bourgeois society called "man," and why are his rights called the rights of man? How do we explain this fact? From the relation of the political State to bourgeois society, from the meaning of political emancipation.
Above all we must record the fact that the so-called rights of man, as distinguished from the rights of the citizen, are nothing else than the rights of the member of bourgeois society, that is of the egoistic individual, of man separated from man and the community. The most radical constitution, the Constitution of 1793, may be cited:
Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen. Article 2. These rights, etc. (natural and imprescriptible rights) are: equality, liberty, security, property.
Of what consists liberty? Article 6. Liberty is the power which belongs to man to do everything which does not injure the rights of others.
Freedom is therefore the right to do and perform that which injures none. The limits within which each may move without injuring others are fixed by the law, as the boundary between two fields is fixed by the fence. The freedom in question is the freedom of the individual as an isolated atom thrown back upon itself. Why, according to Bauer, is the Jew incapable of receiving the rights of man? "So long as he is a Jew, the limiting quality which makes him a Jew must triumph over the human quality which binds him as a man to other men, and must separate him from gentiles." But the right of man to freedom is not based upon the connection of man with man, but rather on the separation of man from man. It is the right to this separation, the right of the individual limited to himself.
The practical application of the right of man to freedom is the right of man to private property.
In what consists the right of man to private property?
Article 16 (Const. of 1793): The right to property is the right of every citizen to enjoy and dispose of as he likes his goods, his income, the fruit of his toil and of his industry.
The right of man to private property is therefore the right to enjoy and dispose of his property, at his will and pleasure, without regard for others, and independently of society: the right of self-interest. Each particular individual freedom exercised in this way forms the basis of bourgeois society. It leaves every man to find in other men not the realization, but rather the limits of his freedom. But it proclaims above all the right of man to enjoy and dispose of his property, his income, and the fruit of his toil and his industry according to his pleasure.
There still remain the other rights of man, equality and security.
Equality here in its non-political significance is nothing but the equality of the above described liberty, viz.: every individual is regarded as a uniform atom resting on its own bottom. Article 5 of the Constitution of 1793 states: Equality consists in the fact that the law is the same for all, whether it protects or whether it punishes.
And security? Article 8 of the Constitution of 1793: Security consists in the protection accorded by society to each of its members for the preservation of his person, his rights, and his property.
Security is the supreme social conception of bourgeois society, the conception of the police, the idea that society as a whole only exists to guarantee to each of its members the maintenance of his person, his rights, and his property.
By the conception of security bourgeois society does not raise itself above its egoism. Security is rather the confirmation of its egoism.
None of the so-called rights of man, therefore, goes beyond the egoistic individual, beyond the individual as a member of bourgeois society, withdrawn into his private interests and separated from the community. Far from regarding the individual as a generic being, the generic life, Society itself, rather appears as an external frame for the individual, as a limitation of his original independence. The sole bond which connects him with his fellows is natural necessity, material needs and private interest, the preservation of his property and his egoistic person.
It is strange that a people who were just beginning to free themselves, to break down all the barriers between the various members of the community, to establish a political community, that such a people should solemnly proclaim the justification of the egoistic individual, separated from his fellows and from the community, and should even repeat this declaration at a moment when the most heroic sacrifice could alone save the nation and was therefore urgently required, at a moment when the sacrifice of all interests of bourgeois society was imperative, and egoism should have been punished as a crime. This fact is even stranger when we behold the political liberators degrading citizenship and the political community to the level of a mere means for the maintenance of these so-called rights of man, proclaiming the citizen to be the servant of the egoistic man, degrading the sphere in which the individual behaves as a social being below the sphere in which he behaves as a fractional being, and finally accepting as the true proper man not the individual as citizen, but the individual as bourgeois.
The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. (Declaration of the rights, etc., of 1791, article 2.) The purpose of government is to assure to man the enjoyment of his natural and imprescriptible rights. (Declaration of 1793, art. 1.)
Thus even at the time when its enthusiasm was still fresh and kept at boiling point by the pressure of circumstances, the political life proclaimed itself to be a mere means whose end is the life of bourgeois society.
It is true that its revolutionary practice was in flagrant contradiction to its theory. While security, for example, was proclaimed to be a right of man, the violation of the secrecy of correspondence was publicly proposed.
While the indefinite liberty of the press (1793 Constitution, art. 122) was guaranteed as a consequence of the right of man to individual liberty, the freedom of the press was completely destroyed, for liberty of the press could not be permitted when it compromised public liberty. (Robespierre jeune, "Parliamentary History of the French Revolution." Buchez et Roux, p. 135.) This means that the right of man to liberty ceases to be a right as soon as it comes into conflict with the political life, whereas, according to theory, the political life is only the guarantee of the rights of man, and should therefore be surrendered as soon as its object contradicts these rights of man. But the practice is only the exception and the theory is the rule. If, however, we regard the revolutionary practice as the correct position of the relation, the riddle still remains to be solved, why the relationship was inverted in the consciousness of the political liberators, the end appearing as the means, and the means as the end. This optical illusion of their consciousness would still be the same riddle, although a psychological, a theoretical riddle.
The riddle admits of easy solution.
The political emancipation is at the same time the dissolution of the old society, upon which was based the civic society, or the rulership alienated from the people. The political revolution is the revolution of bourgeois society. What was the character of the old society? It can be described in one word. Feudality. The old civic society had a directly political character, that is, the elements of civic life, as for example property or the family, or the mode and kind of labour, were raised to the level of elements of the community in the form of landlordism, status, and corporation. In this form they determined the relation of the individual to the community, that is his political relation, his relationship of separation and exclusion from the other constituent parts of society. For the latter organization of popular life did not raise property or labour to the level of social elements, but rather completed their separation from the political whole and constituted them as special societies within society. Thus the vital functions and vital conditions of society continued to be political, although political in the sense of feudality, which means that they excluded the individual from the political whole, and transformed the special relation of his corporation to the political whole into his own general relation to the popular life. As a consequence of this organization, the political unity necessarily appears as the consciousness, the will and the activity of the political unity, and likewise the general State power as the special concern of a ruler and his servants sundered from the people.
The political revolution, which overthrew this domination and raised political affairs to the rank of popular affairs, which constituted the political State as a general concern, that is as a real State, necessarily shattered all Estates, corporations, guilds, privileges, which were just so many expressions of the separation of the people from their community. The political revolution thereby abolished the political character of civic society.
It dissolved civic society into its elemental parts, on the one hand, into the individuals, on the other hand, into the material and spiritual elements, which formed the vital content, the civic situation of these individuals. It released the political spirit, which was imprisoned in fragments in the various blind alleys of the feudal society; it collected all these dispersed parts of it, liberated it from its entanglement with the civic life, and constituted it as the sphere of the community, of the general popular concerns in ideal independence from its particular elements of civic life. The specific life activity and the specific life situation settled into a merely general significance. They no longer formed the general relation of the individual to the political whole. The public business as such became rather the general business of every individual and the political function became his general function.
But the completion of the idealism of the State was at the same time the completion of the materialism of civic society.
The throwing off of the political yoke was at the same time the throwing off of the bond which had curbed the egoistic spirit of civic society. The political emancipation was at the same time the emancipation of civic society from politics, from even the semblance of a general content.
Feudal society was resolved into its basic elements, its individual members. But into the individuals who really formed its basis, that is, the egoistic individual.
This individual, the member of civic society, is now the basis, the assumption of the political State. He is recognized as such in the rights of man.
The liberty of the egoistic individual and the recognition of this liberty are, however, tantamount to the recognition of the unbridled movement of the intellectual and material elements which inform him.
The individual was therefore not liberated from religion; he received religious freedom. He was not freed from property; he received freedom of property. He was not freed from the egoism of industry; he received industrial freedom.
The constitution of the political State and the dissolution of civic society into independent individuals—whose relation is right, as the relation of the members of Estates and of guilds was privilege—is accomplished in one and the same act. But the individual as a member of civic society, the unpolitical individual, necessarily appears as the natural individual. The rights of man appear as natural rights, for the self-conscious activity concentrates itself upon the political act. The egoistic individual is the sediment of the dissolved society, the object of immediate certitude, and therefore a natural object. The political revolution dissolves the civic society into its constituent parts without revolutionizing and subjecting to criticism those parts themselves. It regards bourgeois society, the world of needs, of labour, of private interests, as the foundation of its existence, as an assumption needing no proof, and therefore as its natural basis. Lastly, the individual as a member of bourgeois society counts as the proper individual, as the man in contradistinction to the citizen, because he is man in his sensual, individual, closest existence, whereas political man is only the abstract, artificial individual, the individual as an allegorical, moral person. The real man is only recognized in the shape of the egoistic individual, the true man is only recognized in the shape of the abstract citizen.
The abstraction of the political man was very well described by Rousseau: He who dares undertake to give instructions to a nation ought to feel himself capable as it were of changing human nature; of transforming every individual who in himself is a complete and independent whole into part of a greater whole, from which he receives in some manner his life and his being; of altering man's constitution, in order to strengthen it; of substituting a social and moral existence for the independent and physical existence which we have all received from nature. In a word, it is necessary to deprive man of his native powers, in order to endow him with some which are alien to him, and of which he cannot make use without the aid of other people.
All emancipation leads back to the human world, to relationships, to men themselves.
Political emancipation is the reduction of man, on the one side, to the member of bourgeois society, to the egoistic, independent individual, on the other side, to the citizen, to the moral person.
Not until the real, individual man is identical with the citizen, and has become a generic being in his empirical life, in his individual work, in his individual relationships, not until man has recognized and organized his own capacities as social capacities, and consequently the social force is no longer divided by the political power, not until then will human emancipation be achieved.
Under this form Bauer deals with the relation of the Jewish and Christian religion, as well as with the relation of the same to criticism. Its relation to criticism is its relation "to the capacity to be free."
It follows: "The Christian has only one stage to surmount, viz.: his religion, in order to abolish religion generally," and therefore to become free. "The Jew, on the contrary, has to break not only with his Jewish essence, but also with the development of the completion of his religion, with a development that has remained alien to him" (p. 71).
Bauer therefore transforms here the question of Jewish emancipation into a purely religious question. The theological scruple as to who stood the most chance of being saved, Jew or Christian, is here repeated in the enlightened form: which of the two is most capable of emancipation? It is no longer a question of whether Judaism or Christianity makes free? but rather on the contrary: which makes more for freedom, the negation of Judaism or the negation of Christianity?
"If they wish to be free, Jews should be converted, not to Christianity, but to Christianity in dissolution, to religion generally in dissolution, that is to enlightenment, criticism and its results, to free humanity," p. 70.
It appears that Jews have still to be converted, but to Christianity in dissolution, instead of to Christianity.
Bauer requires Jews to break with the essence of the Christian religion, a requirement which, as he says himself, does not arise from the development of Jewish essentials.
As Bauer had interpreted Judaism merely as a crude-religious criticism of Christianity, and had therefore read "only" a religious meaning into it, it was to be foreseen that the emancipation of the Jews would be transformed into a philosophic-theological act.
Bauer conceives the ideal abstract being of the Jew, his religion as his whole being. Consequently he correctly infers: "The Jew gives mankind nothing, when he despises his narrow law, when he abolishes his whole Judaism," p. 65.
The relation of Jews and Christians is therefore as follows: the sole interest of Christians in the emancipation of the Jews is a general human, a theoretical interest. Judaism is a detrimental fact in the religious eyes of Christians. As soon as their eyes cease to be religious, this fact ceases to be detrimental. The emancipation of Jews in itself is no work for Christians.
But in order to emancipate himself, the Jew has to undertake not only his own work, but at the same time the work of the Christian, the criticism of the synoptics, etc.
We will try to get rid of the theological conception of the question. The question of the capacity of the Jews for emancipation is from our standpoint transformed into the question, what particular social element has to be overcome in order to abolish Judaism? For the capacity for emancipation of the modern Jew is the relation of Judaism to the emancipation of the modern world. This relation is necessarily disclosed by the special position of Judaism in the modern subjugated world.
Let us consider the real worldly Jews, not the Sabbath Jews, as Bauer does, but the every-day Jews.
We will not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but we will look for the secret of religion in the real Jew.
What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical needs, egoism.
What is the secular cult of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his secular God? Money.
Very well. Emancipation from huckstering and from money, and therefore from practical, real Judaism would be the self-emancipation of our epoch.
An organization of society, which would abolish the fundamental conditions of huckstering, and therefore the possibility of huckstering, would render the Jew impossible. His religious consciousness would dissolve like a mist in the real vital air of society. On the other hand: if the Jew recognizes as valueless this his practical essence, and labours for its abolition, he would work himself free of his previous development, and labour for human emancipation generally, turning against the supreme practical expression of human self-alienation.
We therefore perceive in Judaism a general pervading anti-social element, which has been carried to its highest point by the historical development, in which Jews in this bad relation have zealously co-operated, a point at which it must necessarily dissolve itself.
The emancipation of the Jews in its last significance is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.
The Jew has already emancipated himself in Jewish fashion. "The Jew who in Vienna, for example, is only tolerated, determines by his financial power the fate of the whole Empire. The Jew who may be deprived of rights in the smallest German State, determines the fate of Europe."
"While the corporations and guilds excluded the Jew, the enterprise of industry laughs at the obstinacy of the medieval institution." (Bauer, "The Jewish Question," p. 14.)
This is no isolated fact. The Jew has emancipated himself in Jewish fashion, not only by taking to himself financial power, but by virtue of the fact that with and without his co-operation, money has become a world power, and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves in so far as Christians have become Jews.
"The pious and politically free inhabitant of New England," relates Colonel Hamilton, "is a kind of Laokoon, who does not make even the slightest effort to free himself from the serpents which are throttling him. Mammon is his god, he prays to him, not merely with his lips, but with all the force of his body and mind.
"In his eyes, the world is nothing more than a Stock Exchange, and he is convinced that here below he has no other destiny than to become richer than his neighbours. When he travels, he carries his shop or his counter on his back, so to speak, and talks of nothing but interest and profit."
The practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has reached such a point in North America that the preaching of the Gospel itself, the Christian ministry, has become an article of commerce, and the bankrupt merchant takes to the Gospel, while the minister grown rich goes into business.
"He whom you see at the head of a respectable congregation began as a merchant; his business failing, he became a minister. The other started his career in the ministry, but as soon as he had saved a sum of money, he abandoned the pulpit for the counter. In the eyes of a large number, the ministry is a commercial career." Beaumont.
According to Bauer, to withhold political rights from the Jew in theory, while in practice he wields enormous power, exercising wholesale the influence he is forbidden to distribute in retail, is an anomaly.
The contradiction between the practical, political power of the Jew and his political rights is the contradiction between politics and financial power generally. While the former is raised ideally above the latter, it has in reality become its bond slave.
Judaism has persisted alongside of Christianity not only as religious criticism of Christianity, not only as the embodiment of doubt in the religious parentage of Christianity, but equally because Judaism has maintained itself, and even received its supreme development, in Christian society. The Jew who exists as a peculiar member of bourgeois society, is only the particular expression of the Judaism of bourgeois society.
Judaism has survived not in spite of, but by virtue of history.
Out of its own entrails, bourgeois society continually creates Jews.
What was the foundation of the Jewish religion? Practical needs, egoism. Consequently the monotheism of the Jew is in reality the polytheism of many needs. Practical needs or egoism are the principle of bourgeois society, and they appear openly as such so soon as bourgeois society gives birth to the political state. The God of practical needs and egoism is money.
Money is the jealous God of Israel, by the side of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man and converts them into commodities. Money is the general and self-constituted value of all things. Consequently it has robbed the whole world—the world of mankind as well as Nature—of its peculiar value. Money is the being of man's work and existence alienated from himself, and this alien being rules him, and he prays to it.
The God of the Jews has secularized himself and become the universal God. Exchange is the Jew's real God.
The conception of Nature which prevails under the rule of private property and of money is the practical degradation of Nature, which indeed exists in the Jewish religion, but only in imagination.
In this sense Thomas Münzer declared it to be intolerable "that all creatures have been turned into property, the fishes in the water, the birds in the air, the growths of the soil."
What remains as the abstract part of the Jewish religion, contempt for theory, for art, for history, for man as an end in himself, is the real conscious standpoint and virtue of the monied man. The generic relation itself—the relation of man to woman, etc., becomes an object of commerce. Woman is bartered.
The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the monied man generally.
The baseless law of the Jew is only the religious caricature of the baseless morality and of right generally, of the merely formal ceremonies which pervade the world of egoism.
Here also the highest relation of man is the legal relation—the relation to laws which do not govern him because they are the laws of his own will and being, but because they are imposed on him from without. Any infraction thereof is punished.
Jewish Jesuitism, the same practical Jesuitism that Bauer infers from the Talmud, is the relation of the world of egoism to the laws which dominate it, and the cunning circumvention of which is the supreme art of this world.
The movement of this world within its laws is necessarily a continual abrogation of the law.
Judaism cannot develop any further as a religion, that is theoretically, because the philosophy of practical needs is limited by its nature and is exhausted in a few moves.
Judaism could create no new world; it could only draw the new world creations and world relations within the orbit of its activity, because the practical need whose rationale is egoism remains a passive state, which does not extend itself by spontaneous act, but only expands with the development of social conditions.
Judaism reaches its acme with the completion of bourgeois society, but bourgeois society first completes itself in the Christian world. Only under the reign of Christianity, which turns all national, natural, moral and theoretical relations into relations external to man, can bourgeois society separate itself entirely from the political life, dissever all the generic ties of the individual, set egoism in the place of these generic ties, and dissolve the human world into a world of atomized, mutually hostile individuals.
Christianity sprang out of Judaism. It has again withdrawn into Judaism.
The Christian from the outset was the theorizing Jew; the Jew is therefore the practical Christian, and the practical Christian has again become a Jew.
Christianity had only appeared to overcome Judaism. It was too noble, too spiritual to abolish the crudeness of practical needs except by elevation into the blue sky.
Christianity is the sublime idea of Judaism. Judaism is the common application of Christianity, but this application could only become general after Christianity had completed the alienation of man from himself, and theoretically from Nature. Not until then could Judaism attain to general domination and turn the alienated individual and alienated Nature into alienable and saleable objects.
Just as the individual while he remained in the toils of religion could only objectivize his being by turning it into a fantastic and alien being, so under the domination of egoistic needs he can only manifest himself in a practical way and only create practical objects by placing both his products and his activity under the domination of an alien being, and investing them with the significance of an alien being—of money.
The Christian selfishness of bliss is necessarily transmuted in its completed practice into the material selfishness of the Jew, heavenly needs become earthly needs, and subjectivity becomes egoism. We do not explain the Jew's tenacity from his religion, but rather from the human basis of his religion, that is, practical needs, egoism.
Because the real essence of the Jew has been generally realized and secularized in bourgeois society, the latter could not convince the Jew of the unreality of his religious essence, which is merely the ideal reflexion of his practical needs.
Consequently, it is not only in the Pentateuch or the Talmud, but also in present-day society that we find the essence of the modern Jew; not as an abstract, but as an extremely empirical being, not merely in the form of the Jew's limitations, but in that of the Jewish limitations of society.
As soon as society succeeds in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism, the huckster, and the conditions which produce him, the Jew will become impossible, because his consciousness will no longer have a corresponding object, because the subjective basis of Judaism, viz.: practical needs, will have been humanized, because the conflict of the individual sensual existence with the generic existence of the individual will have been abolished.
The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.