Chapter VI Absolute Critical Criticism, Or Critical Criticism As Herr Bruno
- Chapter I “Critical Criticism in the Form of a Master-Bookbinder”, Or Critical Criticism As Herr Reichardt
- Chapter II “Critical Criticism” As a ‘Mill-Owner’, Or Critical Criticism As Herr Jules Faucher
- Chapter III “The Thoroughness of Critical Criticism”, Or Critical Criticism As Herr J. (Jungnitz?)
- Chapter IV “Critical Criticism” As the Tranquillity of Knowledge, Or “Critical Criticism” As Herr Edgar
- Chapter V “Critical Criticism” As a Mystery-Monger, Or “Critical Criticism” As Herr Szeliga
- Chapter VI Absolute Critical Criticism, Or Critical Criticism As Herr Bruno
- Chapter VII Critical Criticism’s Correspondence
- Chapter VIII The Earthly Course and Transfiguration Of “Critical Criticism”, Or “Critical Criticism” As Rudolph, Prince of Geroldstein
- Chapter IX The Critical Last Judgment and Historical Epilogue
1) Absolute Criticism’s First Campaign[edit source]
a) “Spirit” and “Mass”[edit source]
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.
b) The Jewish Question No. 1. The Setting of the Questions[edit source]
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.
c) Hinrichs No. 1. Mysterious Hints on Politics, Socialism and Philosophy[edit source]
“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!
2) Absolute Criticism’s Second Campaign[edit source]
a) Hinrichs No. 2. “Criticism” and “Feuerbach”. Condemnation of Philosophy[edit source]
This part is written by Engels
As the result of its first campaign, Absolute Criticism can regard “philosophy” as having been dealt with and term it outright an ally of the “Mass”.
“Philosophy were predestined to fulfil the heart’s desires of the ‘Mass'”. For “the Mass wants simple concepts, in order to have nothing to do with the thing itself, shibboleths, so as to have finished with everything from the start, phrases by which Criticism can be done away with “
And “philosophy” fulfils this longing of the “Mass”!
Dizzy after its victories, Absolute Criticism breaks out in Pythian frenzy against philosophy. Feuerbach’s Philosophie der Zukunft [L. Feuerbach, Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft] is the concealed cauldron [Engels here makes a pun on “Feuerbach” (literally stream of fire) and ‘Feuerkesser’ (boiler)] whose fumes inspire the frenzy of Absolute Criticism’s victory-intoxicated head. It read Feuerbach’s work in March. The fruit of that reading, and at the same time the criterion of the earnestness with which it was undertaken, is Article No. 2 against Professor Hinrichs.
In this article Absolute Criticism, which has never freed itself from the cage of the Hegelian way of viewing things, storms at the iron bars and walls of its prison. The “simple concept”, the terminology, the whole mode of thought of philosophy, indeed, the whole of philosophy, is rejected with disgust. In its place we suddenly find the “real wealth of human relations”, the “immense content of history”, the “significance of man”, etc. “The mystery of the system” is declared “revealed”.
But who, then, revealed the mystery of the “system”? Feuerbach. Who annihilated the dialectics of concepts, the war of the gods that was known to the philosophers alone? Feuerbach. Who substituted for the old lumber and for “infinite self-consciousness” if not, indeed, “the significance of man” — as though man had another significance than that of being man! — at any rate “Man"? Feuerbach, and only Feuerbach. And he did more. Long ago he did away with the very categories with which “Criticism” now operates — the “real wealth of human relations, the immense content of history, the struggle of history, the fight of the Mass against the Spirit”, etc., etc.
Once man is recognised as the essence, the basis of all human activity and situations, only “Criticism” can invent new categories and transform man himself into a category and into the principle of a whole series of categories, as it is doing now. It is true that in so doing it takes the only road to salvation that has remained for frightened and persecuted theological inhumanity. History does nothing, it “possesses no immense wealth”, it “wages no battles”. It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; “history” is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims. If Absolute Criticism, after Feuerbach’s brilliant expositions, still dares to reproduce all the old trash in a new form, at the same time abusing it as “mass-type” trash — which it has all the less right to do as it never stirred a finger to dissolve philosophy — that fact alone is sufficient to bring the “mystery” of Criticism to light and to assess the Critical naivety with which it says the following to Professor Hinrichs, whose “exhaustion” once did it such a great service:
“The damage is to those who have not gone through any development and therefore could not alter themselves even if they wished to, and at most to the new principle — but no! The new cannot be made into a phrase, separate turn of speech cannot be borrowed from it.”
Absolute Criticism prides itself that, in contrast to Professor Hinrichs, it has solved “the mystery of the faculty sciences”. Has it then solved the “mystery” of philosophy, jurisprudence, politics, medicine, political economy and so forth? Not at all! It has — be it noted! — shown in Die gute Sache der Freiheit that science as a source of livelihood and free science, freedom of teaching and faculty statutes, contradict each other.
If “Absolute Criticism” were honest it would have admitted where its pretended illumination on the “Mystery of Philosophy” Comes from. It is a good thing all the same that it does not put into Feuerbach’s mouth such nonsense as the misunderstood and distorted propositions that it borrowed from him, as it has done with other people. By the way, it is characteristic of “Absolute Criticism’s” theological viewpoint that, whereas the German philistines are now beginning to understand Feuerbach and to adopt his conclusions, it is unable to grasp a single sentence of his correctly or to use it properly.
Criticism achieves a real advance over its feats of the first campaign when it “defines” the struggle of “the Mass” against the “Spirit” as “the aim” of all previous history, when it declares that “the Mass” is the “pure nothing” of “misery”; when it calls the Mass purely and simply “Matter” and contrasts “the Spirit” as truth to “Matter”. Is not Absolute Criticism therefore genuinely Christian-Germanic? After the old antithesis between spiritualism and materialism has been fought out on all sides and overcome once for all by Feuerbach, “Criticism” again makes a basic dogma of it in its most loathsome form and gives the victory to the “Christian-Germanic spirit”.
Finally, it must be considered as a development of Criticism’s mystery concealed in its first campaign when it now identifies the antithesis between Spirit and Mass with the antithesis between “Criticism” and the Mass. Later it will go on to identify itself with “Criticism” and therefore to represent itself as “the Spirit”, the Absolute and Infinite, and the Mass, on the other hand, as finite, coarse, brutal, dead and inorganic — for that is what “Criticism” understands by matter.
How immense is the wealth of history that is exhausted in the relationship of humanity to Herr Bauer!
b) The Jewish Question No. 2. Critical Discoveries on Socialism, Jurisprudence and Politics (Nationality)[edit source]
To the material, mass-type Jews is preached the Christian doctrine of freedom of the Spirit, freedom in theory, that spiritualistic freedom which imagines itself to be free even in chains, and whose soul is satisfied with “the idea” and only embarrassed by any mass-type existence.
“The Jews are emancipated to the extent they have now reached in theory, they are free to the extent that they wish to be free.”
From this proposition one can immediately measure the Critical gap which separates mass-type, profane communism and socialism from absolute socialism. The first proposition of profane socialism rejects emancipation in mere theory as an illusion and for real freedom it demands besides the idealistic “will” very tangible, very material conditions. How low “the Mass” is in comparison with holy Criticism, the Mass which considers material, practical Upheavals necessary even to win the time and means required merely to occupy itself with “theory"!
Let us leave purely spiritual socialism an instant for politics!
Herr Riesser maintains against Bruno Bauer that his state (i.e., the Critical state) must exclude “Jews” and “Christians”. Herr Riesser is right. Since Herr Bauer confuses political emancipation with human emancipation, since the state can react to antagonistic elements — and Christianity and Judaism are described as treasonable elements in Die Judenfrage — only by forcible exclusion of the persons representing them (as the Terror, for instance, wished to do away with hoarding by guillotining the hoarders), Herr Bauer must have both Jews and Christians hanged in his “Critical state”. Having confused political emancipation with human emancipation, he had to be consistent and confuse the political means of emancipation with the human means. But as soon as Absolute Criticism is told the definite meaning of its deductions, it gives the answer that Schelling once gave to all his opponents who substituted real thoughts for his phrases:
“Criticism’s opponents are its opponents because they not only measure it with their dogmatic yardstick but regard Criticism itself as dogmatic; they oppose Criticism because it does not recognise their dogmatic distinctions, definitions and evasions.”
It is, of course, to adopt a dogmatic attitude to Absolute Criticism, as also to Herr Schelling, if one assumes it to have definite, real meaning, thoughts and views. In order to be accommodating and to prove to Herr Riesser its humanity, “Criticism”, however, decides to resort to dogmatic distinctions, definitions and especially to “evasions”. Thus we read:
“Had I in that work” (Die Judenfrage) “had the will or the right to go beyond, criticism, I ought’ (!) .’to have spoken” (!) “not of the state, but of ‘society’, which excludes no one but from which only those exclude themselves who do not wish to take part in its development.”
Here Absolute Criticism makes a dogmatic distinction between what it ought to have done, if it had not done the contrary, and what it actually did. It explains the narrowness of its work Die Judenfrage by the “dogmatic evasions” of having the will and the right which prohibited it from going “beyond criticism”. What? “Criticism” should go beyond “criticism"? This quite mass-type notion occurs to Absolute Criticism because of the dogmatic necessity for, on the one hand, asserting its conception of the Jewish question as absolute, as “Criticism”, and on the other hand, admitting the possibility of a more comprehensive conception.
The mystery of its “not having the will” and “not having the right” will later be revealed as the Critical dogma according to which all apparent limitations of “Criticism” are nothing but necessary adaptations to the powers of comprehension of the Mass.
It had not the will! It had not the right to go beyond its narrow conception of the Jewish question! But what would it have done had it had the will or the right? — It would have given a dogmatic definition. It would have spoken of “society” instead of the “state”, that is to say, it would not have studied the real relation of Jewry to present-day civil society! It would have given a dogmatic definition of “society” as distinct from the “state”, in the sense that if the state excludes, on the other hand they exclude themselves from society who do not wish to take part in its development!
Society behaves just as exclusively as the state, only in a more polite form: it does not throw you out, but it makes it so uncomfortable for you that you go out of your own will.
Basically, the state does not behave otherwise, for it does not exclude anybody who complies with all its demands and orders and its development. In its perfection it even closes its eyes and declares real contradictions to be non-political contradictions which do not disturb it. Besides, Absolute Criticism itself has argued that the state excludes Jew.. because and in so far as the Jews exclude the state and hence exclude themselves from the state. If this reciprocal relationship has a more polite, a more hypocritical, a more insidious form in Critical “society”, this only proves that “Critical” “society” is more hypocritical and less developed.
Let us follow Absolute Criticism deeper in its “dogmatic distinctions” and “definitions”, and, in particular, in its “evasions”.
Herr Riesser, for example, demands of the critic “that he distinguish what belongs to the domain of law” from “what is beyond its sphere”.
The Critic is indignant at the impertinence of this juridical demand.
“So far, however,” he retorts, “both feeling and conscience have interfered in law, always supplemented it, and because of its character, based on its dogmatic form” (not, therefore, on its dogmatic essence?), “have always had to supplement it.”
The Critic forgets only that law, on the other hand, distinguishes itself quite explicitly from “feeling and conscience”, that this distinction is based on the one-sided essence of law as well as on its dogmatic form, and is even one of the main dogmas of law; that, finally, the practical implementation of that distinction is just as much the peak of the development of law as the separation of religion from all profane content makes it abstract, absolute religion. The fact that “feeling and conscience” interfere in law is sufficient reason for the “Critic” to speak of feeling and conscience when it is a matter of law, and of theological dogmatism when it is a matter of juridical dogmatism. The “definitions and distinctions of Absolute Criticism” have prepared us sufficiently to hear its latest “discoveries” on “society” and “law”.
“The world form that Criticism is preparing, and the thought of which it is even only just preparing, is not a merely legal form but” (collect yourself, reader) “a social one, about which at least this much” (this little?) “can he said: whoever has not made his contribution to its development and does not live with his conscience and feeling in it. cannot feel at home in it or take part in its history.”
The world form that “Criticism” is preparing is defined as not merely legal, but social. This definition can be interpreted in two ways. The sentence quoted may be taken as “not legal but social” or as “not merely legal, but also social”. Let us consider its content according to both readings, beginning with the first. Earlier, Absolute Criticism defined the new “world form” distinct from the “state” as “society”. Now it defines the noun “society” by the adjective “social”. If Herr Hinrichs was three times given the word “social” in contrast to his “political”, Herr Riesser is now given social society in contrast to his “legal” society. If the Critical explanations for Herr Hinrichs reduced themselves to the formula “social” + “social” + “social” = 3a, Absolute Criticism in its second campaign passes from addition to multiplication and Herr Riesser is referred to society multiplied by itself, society to the second power, Social society = a2. In order to complete its deductions on society, all that now remains for Absolute Criticism to do is to go On to fractions, to extract the square root of society, and so forth.
If, on the other hand, we take the second reading: the “not merely legal, but also social” world form, this hybrid world form is nothing but the world form existing today, the world form of present-day society. It is a great, a meritorious Critical miracle that “Criticism” in its pre-world thinking is only just preparing the future existence of the world form which exists today. But however matters stand with “not merely legal but social society”, Criticism can for the time being say no more about it than “fabula docet”,[the fable teaches] the moral application. Those who do not live in that society with their feeling and their conscience will “not feel at home” in it. In the end, no one will live in that society except “pure feeling” and “pure conscience”, that is, “the Spirit”, “Criticism” and its supporters. The Mass will be excluded from it in one way or another so that “mass-type society” will exist outside “social society”.
In a word, this society is nothing but the Critical heaven from which the real world is excluded as being the un-Critical hell. In its pure thinking, Absolute Criticism is preparing this transfigured world form of the contradiction between “Mass” and “Spirit”.
Of the same Critical depth as these explanations on “society” are the explanations Herr Riesser is given on the destiny of nations.
The Jews’ desire for emancipation and the desire of the Christian states to “classify” the Jews in “their government scheme” — as though the Jews had not long ago been classified in the Christian government scheme! — lead Absolute Criticism to prophecies on the decay of nationalities. See by what a complicated detour Absolute Criticism arrives at the present historical movement — namely, by the detour of theology. The following illuminating oracle shows us what great results Criticism achieves in this way:
“The future of all nationalities — is — very — obscure!”
But let the future of nationalities be as obscure as it may be, for Criticism’s sake. The one essential thing is clear: the future is the work of Criticism.
“Destiny,” it exclaims, “may decide as it will: we now know that it is our work.”
As God leaves his creation, man, his own will, so Criticism leaves destiny, which is its creation, its own will. Criticism, of which destiny is the work, is, like God, almighty. Even the “resistance” which it “finds” outside itself is its own work. “Criticism makes its adversaries.” The “mass indignation” against it is therefore “dangerous” only for “the Mass” itself. But if Criticism, like God, is almighty, it is also, like God, all-wise and is capable of combining its almightiness with the freedom, the will and the natural determination of human individuals.
“It would not be the epoch-making force if it did not have the effect of making each one what he wills to be and showing each one irrevocably the standpoint corresponding to his nature and his will.”
Leibniz could not have given a happier presentation of the re-established harmony between the almightiness of God and the p freedom and natural determination of man.
If “Criticism” seems to clash with psychology by not distinguishing between the will to be something and the ability to be something, it must be borne in mind that it has decisive grounds to declare this “distinction” “dogmatic”.
Let us steel ourselves for the third campaign! Let us recall once more that “Criticism makes its adversary"! But how could it make its adversary, the. “phrase”, if it were not a phrase-monger?
3) Absolute Criticism’s Third Campaign[edit source]
a) Absolute Criticism’s Self-Apology. Its “Political” Past[edit source]
Absolute Criticism begins its third campaign against the “Mass” with the question:
“What is now the object of criticism?” 
In the same number of the Literatur-Zeitung we find the information:
“Criticism wishes nothing but to know things.”
According to this, all things are the object of Criticism. It would be senseless to inquire about some particular, definite object peculiar to Criticism. The contradiction is easily resolved when one remembers that all things “merge” into Critical things and all Critical things into the Mass, as the “Object” of “Absolute Criticism”.
First of all, Herr Bruno describes his infinite pity for the “Mass.” He makes “the gap that separates him from the crowd” an object of “persevering study.” He wants “to find out the significance of that gap for the future” (this is what above was called knowing “all” things) and at the same time “to abolish it”. In truth he therefore already knows the significance of that gap. It consists in being abolished by him.
As each man’s self is nearest to him, “Criticism” first sets about abolishing its own mass nature, like the Christian ascetics who begin the campaign of the spirit against the flesh with the mortification of their own flesh. The “flesh” of Absolute Criticism is its really massive literary past, amounting to 20-30 volumes. Herr Bauer must therefore free the literary biography of “Criticism” — which coincides exactly with his own literary biography — from its mass-like appearance; he must retrospectively improve and explain it and by this apologetic commentary “place its earlier works in safety”.
He begins by explaining by a double cause the error of the Mass, which until the end of the Deutsche Jahrbücher and the Rheinische Zeitung  regarded Herr Bauer as one of its supporters. Firstly the mistake was made of regarding the literary movement as not “purely literary”. At the same time the opposite mistake was made, that of regarding the literary movement as “a merely” or purely” literary movement. There is no doubt that the “Mass” was mistaken in any case, if only because it made two mutually incompatible errors at the same time.
Absolute Criticism takes this opportunity of exclaiming to those who ridiculed the “German nation” as a “blue stocking":
“Name even a single historical epoch which was not authoritatively outlined beforehand by the ‘pen’ and had not to allow itself to be shattered by a stroke of the pen.”
In his Critical naivety Herr Bruno separates “the pen” from the subject who writes, and the subject who writes as “abstract writer” from the living historical man who wrote. This allows him to go into ecstasy over the wonder-working power of the “pen”. He might just as well have demanded to be told of a historical movement which was not outlined beforehand by “poultry” or the “goose girl”.
Later we shall be told by the same Herr Bruno that so far not one historical epoch, not a single one, has become known. How could the “pen”, which so far has been unable to outline “any single” historical epoch after the event, have been able to outline them all beforehand?
Nevertheless, Herr Bruno proves the correctness of his view by deeds, by himself “outlining beforehand” his own “past” with apologetic “strokes of the pen”.
Criticism, which was involved on all sides not only in the general limitation of the world and of the epoch, but in quite particular and personal limitations, and which nevertheless assures us that it has been “absolute, perfect and pure” Criticism in all its works for as long as man can think, has only accommodated itself to the prejudices and power of comprehension of the Mass, as God is wont to do in his revelations to man.
“It was bound to come,” Absolute Criticism informs us, “to a breach of Theory with its seeming ally.”
But because Criticism, here called Theory for a change, comes to nothing, but everything, on the contrary, comes from it; because it develops not inside but outside the world, and has predestined everything in its divine immutable consciousness, the breach with its former ally was a “new turn” only in appearance, only for others, not in itself and not for Criticism itself.
“But this rum ‘properly speaking’ was not even new. Theory had continually worked on criticism of itself’ (we know how much effort has been expended on it to force it to criticise itself); “it had never flattered the Mass” (but itself an the more); lit had always taken care not to get itself ensnared in the premises of its opponent.”
“The Christian theologian must tread cautiously.” (Bruno Bauer, Das entdeckte Christenthum, p. 99.) How did it happen that “cautious” Criticism nevertheless did get ensnared and did not already at that time express its “proper” meaning clearly and audibly? Why did it not speak out bluntly? Why did it let the illusion of its brotherhood with the Mass persist?
“'Why hast thou done this to me?’ said Pharaoh to Abraham as he restored to him Sarah his wife. ‘Why didst thou say she was thy sister?'” (Das entdeckte Christenthum by Bruno Bauer, p. 100.)
“'Away with reason and language!’ says the theologian, ‘for otherwise Abraham would be a liar. It would be a mortal insult to Revelation!'” (loc. cit.)
“'Away with reason and language!’ says the Critic. For had Herr Bauer really and not just apparently been ensnared with the Mass, Absolute Criticism would not be absolute in its revelations, it would be mortally insulted.
“It is only,” Absolute Criticism continues, “that its” (Absolute Criticism’s) efforts had not been noticed, and there was moreover a stage of Criticism when it was forced sincerely to consider its opponent’s premises and to take them seriously for an instant; a stage, in short, when it was not yet fully capable of taking away from the Mass the latter’s conviction that it had the same cause and the same interest as Criticism.”
“Criticism’s efforts had just not been noticed; therefore the Mass was to blame. On the other hand, Criticism admits that its efforts could not be noticed because it itself was not yet “capable” of making them noticeable. Criticism therefore appears to be to blame.
God help us! Criticism was “forced” — violence was used against it — “sincerely to consider its opponent’s premises and to take them seriously for an instant”. A fine sincerity, a truly theological sincerity, which does not really take a thing seriously but only “takes it seriously for an instant”; which has always, therefore every instant, been careful not to get itself ensnared in its opponent’s premises, and nevertheless, “for an instant” “sincerely” takes these very premises into consideration. Its “sincerity” is still greater in the closing part of the sentence. It was in the same instant when Criticism “sincerely took into consideration the premises of the Mass” that it “was not yet fully capable” of destroying the illusion about the unity of its cause and the cause of the Mass. It was not yet capable, but it already had the will and the thought of it. It could not yet outwardly break with the Mass but the break was already complete inside it, in its mind — complete in the same instant when it sincerely sympathised with the Mass!
In its involvement with the prejudices of the Mass, Criticism was not really involved in them; on the contrary, it was, properly speaking, free from its own limitation and was only “not yet completely capable” of informing the Mass of this. Hence all the limitation of “Criticism” was pure appearance; an appearance which without the limitation of the Mass would have been superfluous and would therefore not have existed at all. It is therefore again the Mass that is to blame.
Insofar as this appearance, however, was supported by “the inability”, “the impotence” of Criticism to express its thought, Criticism itself was imperfect. This it admits in its own way, which is as sincere as it is apologetic.
“In spite of having subjected liberalism itself to devastating criticism, it” (Criticism) “could still be regarded as a peculiar kind of liberalism, perhaps as its extreme form; in spite of its true and decisive arguments having gone beyond politics, it nevertheless was still bound to give an appearance of engaging in politics, and this incomplete appearance won it most of the friends mentioned above.”
Criticism won its friends through its incomplete appearance of engaging in politics. Had it completely appeared to engage in politics, it would inevitably have lost its political friends. In its apologetic anxiety to wash itself free of all sin, it accuses the false appearance of having been an incomplete false appearance, not a complete false one. By substituting one appearance for the other, “Criticism” can console itself with the thought that if it had the “complete appearance” of wishing to engage in politics, it does not have, on the other hand, even the “incomplete appearance” of anywhere or at any time having dissolved politics. Not completely satisfied with the “incomplete appearance”, Absolute Criticism again asks itself:
“How did it happen that Criticism at that time became involved in ‘mass-linked, political’ interests, that it — even” (!) — “was obliged” (!) — “to engage in politics”
Bauer the theologian takes it as a matter of course that Criticism had to indulge endlessly in speculative theology for he, “Criticism”, is indeed a theologian ex professo. But to engage in politics? That must be motivated by very special, political, personal circumstances!
Why, then, had “Criticism” to engage even in politics? “It was accused — that is the answer to the question.” At least the “mystery” of “Bauer’s politics” is thereby disclosed; at least the appearance, which in Bruno Bauer’s Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Sache links its “own cause” to the mass-linked “cause of freedom” by means of an “and”, cannot be called non-political. But if Criticism pursued not its “own cause” in the interest of politics, but politics in the interest of its own cause, it must be admitted that not Criticism was taken in by politics, but politics by Criticism.
So Bruno Bauer was to be dismissed from his chair of theology: he was accused; “Criticism” had to engage in politics, that is to say, to conduct “its”, i.e., Bruno Bauer’s, suit. Herr Bauer did not conduct Criticism’s suit, “Criticism” conducted Herr Bauer’s suit. Why did “Criticism” have to conduct its suit?
“In order to justify itself!” It may well be; only “Criticism” is far from limiting itself to such a personal, vulgar reason. It may well be; but not solely for that reason, “but mainly in order to bring out the contradictions of its opponents”, and, Criticism could add, in order to have bound together in a single book old essays against various theologians — see among other things the wordy bickering with Planck,  that family affair between “Bauer-theology” and Strauss-theology.
Having got a load off its heart by admitting the real interest of its “politics”, Absolute Criticism remembers its “suit” and again chews the old Hegelian cud (see the struggle between Enlightenment and faith in the Phänomenologie, see the whole of the Phänomenologie) that “the old which resists the new is no longer really the old”, the cud which it has already chewed over at length in Die gute Sache der Freiheit. Critical Criticism is a ruminant animal. It keeps on warming up a few crumbs dropped by Hegel, like the above-quoted proposition about the “old” and the “new”, or again that about the “development of the extreme out of its opposite extreme”, and the like, without ever feeling the need to deal with “speculative dialectic” in any other way than by the exhaustion of Professor Hinrichs. Hegel, on the contrary, it continually transcends “Critically” by repeating him. For example:
“Criticism, by appearing and giving the investigation a new form, i.e., giving it she form which is no longer susceptible of being transformed into an external limitation,” etc.
When I transform something I make it something essentially different. Since every form is also an “external limitation”, no form is “ susceptible” of being transformed into an “external limitation” any more than an apple of being “transformed” into an apple. Admittedly, the form which “Criticism” gives to the investigation is not susceptible of being transformed into any “external limitation” for quite another reason. Beyond every “external limitation” it is blurred into an ash-grey, dark-blue vapour of nonsense.
“It” (the struggle between the old and the new) “would, however, be quit. impossible even then” (namely at the moment when Criticism “gives” the investigation “the new form”) “if the old were to deal with the question of compatibility or incompatibility ... theoretically.”
But why does not the old deal with this question theoretically? Because “this, however, is least of all possible for it in the beginning, since at the moment of surprise” (i.e., in the beginning) it “knows neither itself nor the new”, i.e., it deals theoretically neither with itself nor with the new. It would be quite impossible if “impossibility”, unfortunately, were not impossible! When the “Critic” from the theological faculty further “admits that he erred intentionally, that he committed the mistake deliberately and after mature reflection” (all that Criticism has experienced, learnt, and done is transformed for it into a free, pure and intentional product of its reflection) this confession of the Critic has only an “incomplete appearance” of truth. Since the Kritik der Synoptiker [B. Bauer, Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker] has a completely theological foundation, since it is through and through theological criticism, Herr Bauer, university lecturer in theology, could write and teach it “without mistake or error”. The mistake and error were rather on the part of the theological faculties, which did not realise how strictly Herr Bauer had kept his promise, the promise he gave in Kritik der Synoptiker, Bd. 1, Foreword, p. xxiii.
“If the negation may appear still too sharp and far-reaching in this first volume too, we must remember that the truly positive can be born only if the negation has been serious and general.... In the end it will be seen that only the most devastating criticism of the world can teach us the creative power of Jesus and of his principle.”
Herr Bauer intentionally separates the Lord “Jesus” and his “principle” in order to free the positive meaning of his promise from all semblance of ambiguity. And Herr Bauer has really made the “creative” power of the Lord Jesus and of his principle so evident that his “infinite self-consciousness” and the “Spirit” are nothing but creations of Christianity. If Critical Criticism’s dispute with the Bonn theological faculty explained so well its “politics” at that time, why did Critical Criticism continue to engage in politics after the dispute had been settled? Listen to this:
“At this point ‘Criticism’ should have either come to a halt or immediately proceeded further to examine the essence of politics and depict it as its adversary; — if only it had been possible for it to be able to come to a halt in the struggle at that time and if, on the other hand, there had not been a far too strict historical law that when a principle measures itself for the first time with its opposite it must let itself be repressed by it ...”
What a delightful apologetic phrase! “Criticism should have come to a halt” if only it had been possible ... “to be able to come to a halt"! Who “should” come to a halt? And who should have done what “it would not have been possible ... to be able to do"? On the other hand! Criticism should have proceeded “if only, on the other hand, there had not been a far too strict historical law,” etc. Historical laws are also “far too strict” with Absolute Criticism! If only they did not stand on the opposite side to Critical Criticism, how brilliantly the latter would proceed! But à la guerre comme à la guerre! In history, Critical Criticism must allow itself to be made a sorry “story” of!
“If Criticism” (still Herr Bauer) “had to ... it will at the same time be admitted that it always felt uncertain when it gave in to demands of this” (political) “kind, and that as a result of these demands it came into contradiction with its true elements, a contradiction that had already found its solution in those elements.”
Criticism was forced into political weaknesses by the all too strict laws of history, but — it entreats — it will at the same time be admitted that it was above those weaknesses, if not in reality, at least in itself. Firstly, it had overcome them, “in feeling”, for “it always felt uncertain in its demands”; it felt ill at ease in politics, it could not make out what was the matter with it. More- than that! It came into contradiction with its true elements. And finally the greatest thing of ally The contradiction with its true elements into which it came found its solution not in the course of Criticism’s development, but “had”, on the contrary, “already” found its solution in Criticism’s true elements existing independently of the contradiction! These Critical elements can claim with pride: before Abraham was, we were. Before the opposite to us was produced by development, it lay yet unborn in our chaotic womb, dissolved, dead, ruined. But since Criticism’s contradiction with its true elements “had already found its solution” in the true elements of Criticism, and since a solved contradiction is not a contradiction, it found itself, to be precise, in no contradiction with its true elements, in no contradiction with itself, and — the general aim of self-apology seems attained. Absolute Criticism’s self-apology has a whole apologetical dictionary at its disposal:
“not even properly speaking”, “only not noticed”, “there was besides”, “not yet complete”, “although — nevertheless”, “not only — but mainly”, “just as much, properly speaking, only”, “Criticism should have if only it had been possible and if on the other hand”, “if ... it will at the same time be admitted”, “was it not 1. natural, was it not inevitable”, “neither ...” etc.
Not so very long ago Absolute Criticism said the following about apologetic phrases of this kind:
“'Although’ and ‘nevertheless’, ‘indeed’ and ‘but’, a heavenly ‘Nay’, and an earthly ‘Yea’, are the main pillars of modern theology, the stilts on which it strides along, the artifice to which its whole wisdom is reduced, the phrase which recurs in all its phrases, its alpha and omega” (Das entdeckte Christenthum, p. 102).
b) The Jewish Question No. 3[edit source]
“Absolute Criticism” does not stop at proving by its autobiography its own singular almightiness which “properly speaking, first creates the old, just as much as the new”. It does not stop at writing in person the apology of its past. It now sets third persons, the rest of the secular world, the Absolute “Task”, the “task which is much more important now”, the apologia for Bauer’s deeds and “works”.
The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher published a criticism of Herr Bauer’s Die Judenfrage [K. Marx, On the Jewish Question]. His basic error, the confusion of “political” with “human emancipation”, was revealed. True, the old Jewish question was not first brought into its “correct setting”; the “Jewish question” was rather dealt with and solved in the setting which recent developments have given to old questions of the day, and as a result of which the latter have become “questions” of the present instead of “questions” of the past.
Absolute Criticism’s third campaign, it seems, is intended to reply to the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. First of all, Absolute Criticism admits:
“In Die Judenfrage the same ‘oversight’ was made — that of identifying the human with the political essence.”
“it would be too late to reproach criticism for the stand which it still maintained partially two years ago.” “The question is rather to explain why criticism ... even had to engage in politics.”
“Two years ago?” We must reckon according to the absolute chronology, from the birth of the Critical Redeemer of the world, Bauer’s Literatur-Zeitung! The Critical world redeemer was born anno 1843. In the same year the second, enlarged edition of Die Judenfrage was published. The “Critical” treatment of the ,Jewish question” in Einundzwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz appeared later in the same year, 1843 old style. After the end of the Deutsche Jahrbücher and the Rheinische Zeitung, in the same momentous year 1843 old style, or anno 1 of the Critical era, appeared Herr Bauer’s fantastic-political work Staat, Religion und Parthei, which exactly repeated his old errors on the “political essence”. The apologist is forced to falsify chronology.
The “explanation” why Herr Bauer “even had to” engage in politics is a matter of general interest only under certain conditions. If the infallibility, purity and absoluteness of Critical Criticism are assumed as basic dogma, then, of course, the facts contradicting that dogma turn into riddles which are just as difficult, profound and mysterious as the apparently ungodly deeds of God are for theologians.
If, on the other hand, “the Critic” is considered as a finite individual, if he is not separated from the limitations of his time, one does not have to answer the question why he had to develop even within the world, because the question itself does not exist.
If, however, Absolute Criticism insists on its demand, one can offer to provide a little scholastic treatise dealing with the following “questions of the times":
“Why had the Virgin Mary’s conception by the Holy Ghost to be proved by no other than Herr Bruno Bauer?” “Why had Herr Bauer to prove that the angel that appeared to Abraham was a real emanation of God, an emanation which, nevertheless, lacked the consistency necessary to digest food?” “Why had Herr Bauer to provide an apologia for the Prussian royal house and to raise the Prussian state to the rank of absolute state?” “Why had Herr Bauer, in his Kritik der Synoptiker, to substitute ‘infinite self-consciousness’ for man?” “Why had Herr Bauer in his Das entdeckte Christenthum to repeat the Christian theory of creation in a Hegelian form?” “Why had Herr Bauer to demand of himself and others an ‘explanation’ of the miracle that he was bound to be mistaken?”
While waiting for proofs of these necessities, which are just as “Critical” as they are “Absolute”, let us listen once more to “Criticism’s” apologetic evasions.
“The Jewish question ... had ... first to he brought into its correct setting, as a religious and theological and as a political question.” “As to the treatment and solution of both these questions, Criticism is neither religious nor political.”
The point is that the Deutsch-Französische-Jahrbücher declares Bauer’s treatment of the “Jewish question” to be really theological and fantastic-political. First, “Criticism” replies to the “reproach” of theological limitation.
“The Jewish question is a religious question. The Enlightenment claimed to solve it by describing the religious contradiction as insignificant or even by denying it. Criticism, on the contrary, had to present it in its purity.”
When we come to the political part of the Jewish question we shall see that in politics, too, Herr Bauer the theologian is not concerned with politics but with theology. But when the Deutsch-Französische-Jahrbücher attacked his treatment of the Jewish question as “purely religious”, it was concerned especially with his article in Einundzwanzig Bogen, the title of which was:
“Die Fähigkeit der hewigen Juden und Christen, frei zu werden”. "The Ability of Present-Day Jews and Christians to obtain Freedom.”
This article has nothing to do with the old “Enlightenment” . It contains Herr Bauer’s positive view on the ability of the present-day Jews to be emancipated, that is, on the possibility of their emancipation. “Criticism” says:
“The Jewish question is a religious question.”
The question is: What is a religious question? and, in particular, what is a religious question today?
The theologian will judge by appearances and see a religious question in a religious question. But “Criticism” must remember the explanation it gave Professor Hinrichs that the political interests of the present time have social significance, that it is “no longer a question” of political interests.
The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher with equal right said to Criticism: Religious questions of the day have at the present time a social significance. It is no longer a question of religious interests as such. Only the theologian can believe it is a question of religion as religion. Granted, the Jahrbücher committed the error of not stopping at the word “social”. It characterised the real position of the Jews in civil society today. Once Jewry was stripped bare of the religious shell and its empirical, worldly, practical kernel was revealed, the practical, really social way in which this kernel is to be abolished could be indicated. Herr Bauer was content with a “religious question” being a “religious question”.
It was by no means denied, as Herr Bauer makes out, that the Jewish question is also a religious question. On the contrary, it was shown that Herr Bauer grasps only the religious essence of Jewry, but not the secular, real basis of that religious essence. He combats religious consciousness as if it were something independent. Herr Bauer therefore explains the real Jews by the Jewish religion, instead of explaining the mystery of the Jewish religion by the real Jews. Herr Bauer therefore understands the Jew only insofar as he is an immediate object of theology or a theologian.
Consequently Herr Bauer has no inkling that real secular Jewry, and hence religious Jewry too, is being continually produced by the present-day civil life and finds its final development in the money system. He could not have any inkling of this because he did not know Jewry as a part of the real world but only as a part of his world, theology; because he, a pious, godly man, considers not the active everyday Jew but the hypocritical Jew of the Sabbath to be the real Jew. For Herr Bauer, as a theologian of the Christian faith, the world-historic significance of Jewry had to cease the moment Christianity was born. Hence he had to repeat the old orthodox view that it has maintained itself in spite of history; and the old theological superstition that Jewry exists only as a confirmation of the divine curse, as a tangible proof of the Christian revelation had to recur with him in the Critical-theological form that it exists and has existed only as crude religious doubt about the supernatural origin of Christianity, i.e., as a tangible proof against Christian revelation.
On the other hand, it was proved that Jewry has maintained. itself and developed through history, in and with history, and that this development is to be perceived not by the eye of the theologian, but only by the eye of the man of the world, because it is to be found, not in religious theory, but only in commercial and industrial practice. It was explained why practical Jewry attains its full development only in the fully developed Christian world, why indeed it is the fully developed practice of the Christian world itself. The existence of the present-day Jew was not explained by his religion — as though this religion were something apart, independently existing — but the tenacious survival of the Jewish religion was explained by practical features of civil society which are fantastically reflected in that religion. The emancipation of the Jews into human beings, or the human emancipation of Jewry, was therefore not conceived, as by Herr Bauer, as the special task of the Jews, but as a general practical task of the present-day world, which is Jewish to the core. It was proved that the task of abolishing the essence of Jewry is actually the task of abolishing the Jewish character of civil society, abolishing the inhumanity of the present-day practice of life, the most extreme expression of which is the money system.
Herr Bauer, as a genuine, although Critical, theologian or theological Critic, could not get beyond the religious contradiction. In the attitude of the Jews to the Christian world he could see only the attitude of the Jewish religion to the Christian religion. He even had to restore the religious contradiction in a Critical way — in the antithesis between the attitudes of the Jew and the Christian to Critical religion — atheism, the last stage of theism, the negative recognition of God. Finally, in his theological fanaticism he had to restrict the ability of the “present-day Jews and Christians”, i.e., of the present-day world, “to obtain freedom” to their ability to grasp “the Criticism” of theology and apply it themselves. For the orthodox theologian the whole world is dissolved in “religion and theology”. (He could just as well dissolve it in politics, political economy, etc., and call theology heavenly political economy, for example, since it is the theory of the production, distribution, exchange and consumption of “spiritual wealth” and of the treasures of heaven!) Similarly, for the radical, Critical theologian, the ability of the world to achieve freedom, is dissolved in the single abstract ability to criticise “religion and theology” as “religion and theology”. The only struggle he knows is the struggle against the religious limitations of self-consciousness, whose Critical “purity” and “infinity” is just as much a theological limitation.
Herr Bauer, therefore, dealt with the religious and theological question in the religious and theological way, if only because he saw in the “religious” question of the time a “purely religious” question. His “correct setting of the question” set the question “correctly” only in respect of his “own ability” — to answer!
Let us now go on to the political part of the Jewish question.
The Jews (like the Christians) are fully politically emancipated in various states. Both Jews and Christians are far from being humanly emancipated. Hence there must be a difference between political and human emancipation. The essence of political emancipation, i.e., of the developed, modern state, must therefore be studied. On the other hand, states which cannot yet politically emancipate the Jews must be rated by comparison with the perfected political state and shown to be under-developed states.
That is the point of view from which the “political emancipation” of the Jews should have been dealt with and is dealt with in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.
Herr Bauer offers the following defence of “Criticism’s” Die Judenfrage.
“The Jews were shown that they laboured under an illusion about the system from which they demanded freedom.”
Herr Bauer did show that the illusion of the German Jews was to demand the right to partake in the political community life in a land where there was no political community and to demand political rights where only political privileges existed. On the other hand, Herr Bauer was shown that he himself, no less than the Jews, laboured under “illusions” about the “German political system”. For he explained the position of the Jews in the German states as being due to the inability of “the Christian state” to emancipate the Jews politically. Flying in the face of the facts, he depicted the state of privilege, the Christian-Germanic state, as the Absolute Christian state. It was proved to him, on the contrary, that the politically perfected, modern state that knows no religious privileges is also the fully developed Christian state, and that therefore the fully developed Christian state, not only can emancipate the Jews but has emancipated them and by its very nature must emancipate them.
.’the Jews are shown ... that they are under the greatest illusion about themselves when they think they are demanding freedom and the recognition of free humanity, whereas for them it is, and can be, only a question of a special privilege.”
Freedom! Recognition of free humanity! Special privilege! Edifying words by which to by-pass certain questions apologetically!
Freedom? it was a question of political freedom. Herr Bauer was shown that when the Jew demands freedom and nevertheless refuses to renounce his religion, he “is engaging in politics” and sets no condition that is contrary to political freedom. Herr Bauer was shown that it is by no means contrary to political emancipation to divide man into the non-religious citizen and the religious private individual. He was shown that just as the state emancipates itself from religion by emancipating itself from state religion and leaving religion to itself within civil society, so the individual emancipates himself politically from religion by regarding it no longer as a public matter but as a private matter. Finally, it was shown that the terroristic attitude of the French Revolution to religion, far from refuting this conception, bears it out.
Instead of studying the real attitude of the modern state to religion, Herr Bauer thought it necessary to imagine a Critical state, a state which is nothing but the Critic of theology inflated into a state in Herr Bauer’s imagination. If Herr Bauer is caught up in politics he continually makes politics a prisoner of his faith, Critical faith. Insofar as he deals with the state he always makes out of it an argument against “the adversary”, un-Critical religion and theology. The state acts as executor of Critical-theological cherished desires.
When Herr Bauer had first freed himself from orthodox, un-Critical theology, political authority took for him the place of religious authority. His faith in Jehovah changed into faith in the Prussian state. In Bruno Bauer’s work Die evangelische Landeskirche [B. Bauer, Die evangelische Landeskirche Preussens und die Wissenschaft], not only the Prussian state, but, quite consistently, the Prussian royal house too, was made into an absolute. In reality Herr Bauer had no political interest in that state; its merit, in the eyes of “Criticism”, was rather that it abolished dogmas by means of the Unified Church and suppressed the dissenting sects with the help of the police.
The political movement that began in the year 1840 redeemed Herr Bauer from his conservative politics and raised him for a moment to liberal politics. But here again politics was in reality only a pretext for theology. In his work Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit, the free state is the Critic of the theological faculty in Bonn and an argument against religion. In Die Judenfrage the contradiction between state and religion is the main interest, so that the criticism of political emancipation changes into a criticism of the Jewish religion. In his latest political work, Staat, Religion und Parthei, the most secret cherished desire of the Critic inflated into a state is at last expressed. Religion is sacrificed to the state or rather the state is only the means by which the opponent of “Criticism”, un-Critical religion and theology, is done to death. Finally, after Criticism has been redeemed, if only apparently, from all politics by the socialist ideas, which have been spreading in Germany from 1843 onwards, in the same way as it was redeemed from its conservative politics by the political movement after 1840, it is finally able to proclaim its writings against un-Critical theology to be social and to indulge unhindered in its own Critical theology, the contrasting of Spirit and Mass, as the annunciation of the Critical Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
Let us return to our subject!
Recognition of free humanity? “Free humanity”, recognition of which the Jews did not merely think they wanted, but really did want, is. the same “free humanity” which found classic recognition in the so-called universal rights of man. Herr Bauer himself explicitly treated the Jews’ efforts for recognition of their free humanity as their efforts to obtain the universal rights of man.
In the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher it was demonstrated to Herr Bauer that this “free humanity” and the “recognition” of it are nothing but the recognition of the egoistic civil individual and of the unrestrained movement of the spiritual and material elements which are the content of his life situation, the content of present-day civil life; that the rights of man do not, therefore, free man from religion, but give him freedom of religion; that they do not free him from property, but procure for him freedom of property; that they do not free him from the filth of gain, but rather give him freedom of gainful occupation.
It was shown that the recognition of the rights of man by the modern state has no other meaning than the recognition of slavery by the state of antiquity had. In other words, just as the ancient state had slavery as its natural basis, the modern state has as its natural basis civil society and the man of civil society, i.e., the independent man linked with other men ‘ only by the ties of private interest and unconscious natural necessity, the slave of labour for gain and of his own as well as other men’s selfish need. The modern state has recognised this its natural basis as such in the universal rights of man. It did not create it. As it was the product of civil society driven beyond the old political bonds by its own development, the modern state, for its part, now recognised the womb from which it sprang and its basis by the declaration of the rights of man. Hence, the political emancipation of the Jews and the granting to them of the “rights of man” is an act the two sides of which are mutually dependent. Herr Riesser correctly expresses the meaning of the Jews’ desire for recognition of their free humanity when he demands, among other things, the freedom of movement. sojourn, travel, earning one’s living, etc. These manifestations of “free humanity” are explicitly recognised as such in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. The Jew has all the more right to the recognition of his “free humanity” as “free civil society” is of a thoroughly commercial and Jewish nature, and the Jew is a necessary member of it. The Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher further demonstrated why the member of civil society is called, par excellence, “Man” and why the rights of man are called “inborn rights”.
The only Critical thing Criticism could say about the rights of man was that they are not inborn but arose in the course of history. That much Hegel had already told us. Finally, to its assertion that both Jews and Christians, in order to grant or receive the universal rights of man, must sacrifice the privilege of faith — the Critical theologian supposes his one fixed idea at the basis of all things — there was specially counterposed the fact contained in all un-Critical declarations of the rights of man that the right to believe what one wishes, the right to practise any religion, is explicitly recognised as a universal right of man. Besides, “Criticism” should have known that Hébert’s party in particular was defeated on the pretext that it attacked the rights of man by attacking freedom of religion, and that similarly the rights of man were invoked later when freedom of worship was restored.
“As far as political essence is concerned, Criticism followed its contradictions to the point where the contradiction between theory and practice had been most thoroughly elaborated during the past fifty years — to the French representative system, in which the freedom of theory is disavowed by practice and the freedom of practical life seeks in vain its expression in theory.
“Now that the basic illusion has been done away with, the contradiction proved in the debates in the French Chamber, the contradiction between free theory and the practical validity of privileges, between the legal validity of privileges and a public system in which the egoism of the pure individual tries to dominate the exclusivity of the privileged, should be conceived as a general contradiction in this sphere.”
The contradiction that Criticism proved in the debates in the French Chamber was nothing but a contradiction of constitutionalism. Had Criticism grasped it as a general contradiction it would have grasped the general contradiction of constitutionalism. Had it gone still further than in its opinion it “should have” gone, had it, to be precise, gone as far as the abolition of this general contradiction, it would have proceeded correctly from constitutional monarchy to arrive at the democratic representative state, the perfected modern state. Far from having criticised the essence of political emancipation and proved its definite relation to the essence of man, it would have arrived only at the fact of political emancipation, at the fully developed modern state, that is to say, only at the point where the existence of the modern state conforms to its essence and where, therefore, not only the relative, but the absolute imperfections, those which constitute its very essence, can be observed and described.
The above-quoted “Critical” passage is all the more valuable as it proves beyond any doubt that at the very moment when Criticism sees the “political essence” far below itself, it is, on the contrary, far below the political essence; it still needs to find in the latter the solution of its own contradictions and it still persists in not giving a thought to the modern principle of the state.
To “free theory” Criticism contrasts the “practical validity of privileges”; to the “legal validity of privileges” it contrasts the “public system”.
In order not to misinterpret the opinion of Criticism, let us recall the contradiction it proved in the debates in the French Chamber, the very contradiction which “should have been conceived” as a general one. One of the questions dealt with was the fixing of a day in the week on which children would be freed from work. Sunday was suggested. One deputy moved to leave out mention of Sunday in the law as being unconstitutional. The Minister Martin (du Nord) saw in this motion an attempt to proclaim that Christianity had ceased to exist. Monsieur Crémieux declared on behalf of the French Jews that the Jews, out of respect for the religion of the great majority of Frenchmen, did not object to Sunday being mentioned. Now, according to free theory, Jews and Christians are equal, but according to this practice Christians have a privilege over Jews; for otherwise how could the Sunday of the Christians have a place in a law made for all Frenchmen? Should not the Jewish Sabbath have the same right, etc.? Or in the practical life of the French too, the Jew is not really oppressed by Christian privileges; but the law does not dare to express this practical equality. All the contradictions in the political essence expounded by Herr Bauer in Die Judenfrage are of this kind — contradictions of constitutionalism, which is, in general, the contradiction between the modern representative state and the old state of privileges.
Herr Bauer is committing a very serious oversight when he thinks he is rising from the political to the human essence by conceiving and criticising this contradiction as a “general” one. He would thus only rise from partial political emancipation to full Political emancipation, from the constitutional state to the democratic representative state.
Herr Bauer thinks that by the abolition of privilege the object of privilege is also abolished. Concerning the statement of Monsieur Martin (du Nord), he says:
“There is no longer any religion when there is no longer any privileged religion. Take from religion its exclusive power and it will no longer exist.”
Just as industrial activity is not abolished when the privileges of the trades, guilds and corporations are abolished, but, on the contrary, real industry begins only after the abolition of these privileges; just as ownership of the land is not abolished when privileged land-ownership is abolished, but, on the contrary, begins its universal movement only with the abolition of privileges and with the free division and free sale of land; just as trade is not abolished by the abolition of trade privileges, but finds its true realisation in free trade; so religion develops in its practical universality only where there is no privileged religion (cf. the North American States).
The modern “public system”, the developed modern state, is not based, as Criticism thinks, on a society of privileges, but on a society in which privileges have been abolished and dissolved, on developed civil society in which the vital elements which were still politically bound under the privilege system have been set free. Here no “privileged exclusivity,” stands opposed either to any other exclusivity or to the public system. Free industry and free trade abolish privileged exclusivity and thereby the struggle between the privileged exclusivities. They replace exclusivity with man freed from privilege — which isolates from the general totality but at the same time unites in a smaller exclusive totality — man no longer bound to other men even by the semblance of a common bond. Thus they produce the universal struggle of man against man, individual against individual. In the same way civil society as a whole is this war against one another of all individuals, who are no longer isolated from one another by anything but their individuality, and the universal unrestrained movement of the elementary forces of life freed from the fetters of privilege. ‘the contradiction between the democratic representative state and civil society is the completion of the classic contradiction between public commonweal and slavery. In the modern world each person is at the same time a member of slave society and of the public commonweal. Precisely the slavery of civil society is in appearance the greatest freedom because it is in appearance the fully developed independence of the individual, who considers as his own freedom the uncurbed movement, no longer bound by a common bond or by man, of the estranged elements of his life, such as property, industry, religion, etc., whereas actually this is his fully developed slavery and inhumanity. Law has here taken the place of privilege.
It is therefore only here, where we find no contradiction between free theory and the practical validity of privilege, but, on the contrary, the practical abolition of privilege, free industry, free trade, etc., conform to “free theory”, where the public system is not opposed by any privileged exclusivity, where the contradiction expounded by Criticism is abolished — only here is the fully developed modern state to be found.
Here also reigns the reverse of the law which Herr Bauer, on the occasion of the debates in the French Chamber, formulated in perfect agreement with Monsieur Martin (du Nord):
“Just as M. Martin (du Nord) saw the proposal to omit mention of Sunday in the law as a motion to declare that Christianity has ceased to exist, with equal reason (and this reason is very well founded) — the declaration that the law of the Sabbath is no longer binding on the Jews would he a proclamation abolishing Judaism.”
It is just the opposite in the developed modern state. The state declares that religion, like the other elements of civil life, only begins to exist in its full scope when the state declares it to be non-political and therefore leaves it to itself. To the dissolution of the political existence of these elements, as for example, the: dissolution of property by the abolition of the property qualification for electors, the dissolution of religion by the abolition of the state church, to this proclamation of their civil death corresponds their most vigorous life, which henceforth obeys its own laws undisturbed and develops to its full scope.
Anarchy is the law of civil society emancipated from divisive privileges, and the anarchy of. civil society is the basis of the modern public system, just as the public system in its turn is the guarantee of that anarchy. To the same great extent that the two are opposed to each other they also determine each other.
h is clear how capable Criticism is of assimilating the “new”. But if we remain within the bounds of “pure Criticism”, the question arises: Why did Criticism not conceive as a universal contradiction the contradiction which it disclosed in connection with the debates in the French Chamber, although in its own opinion that is what it “should have” been done?
“That step was, however, then impossible — not only because ... not only because ... but also because without that last remnant of inner involvement with its opposite Criticism was impossible and could not have come to the point from which only one step remained to be taken.” [Here and below quotations are taken from the article “Was ist jetzt der Gegenstand der Kritik?”, Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Heft VIII.]
It was impossible ... because ... it was impossible! Criticism assures us, moreover, that the fateful “one step” necessary .,to come to the point from which only one step remained to be taken” was impossible. Who will dispute that? In order to be able to come to a point from which only “one step” remains to be taken, it is absolutely impossible to take that “one step” more which leads over the point beyond which still “one step” remains to be taken. All’s well that ends well! At the end of the encounter with the Mass, which is hostile to Criticism’s Die Judenfrage, “Criticism” admits that its conception of the “rights of man”, its
“appraisal of religion in the French Revolution”, the “free political essence it pointed to occasionally at the conclusion of its considerations”, in short, the whole ‘.period of the French Revolution, was for Criticism neither more nor less than a symbol — that is to say, not the period of the revolutionary efforts of the French in the exact and prosaic sense — a symbol and therefore only a fantastic expression of the shapes which it saw at the end”.
We shall not deprive Criticism of the consolation that when it sinned politically it did so only at the “conclusion” and at the “end” of its works. A notorious drunkard used to console himself with the thought that he was never drunk before midnight.
In the sphere of the “Jewish question”, Criticism has indisputably been winning more and more ground from the Enemy. In No. 1 of the “Jewish question”, the treatise of “Criticism” defended by Herr Bauer was still absolute and revealed the “true” and “general” significance of the “Jewish question”. In No. 2 Criticism had neither the “will” nor the “right” to go beyond Criticism. In No. 3 it had still to take “one step”, but that step was “impossible” — because it was — “impossible”. It was not its “will or right” but its involvement in its “opposite” that prevented it from taking that one step”. It would very much have liked to clear the last obstacle, but unfortunately a last remnant of Mass stuck to its Critical seven-league boots.
c) Critical Battle Against the French Revolution[edit source]
The narrow-mindedness of the Mass forced the “Spirit”, Criticism, Herr Bauer, to consider the French Revolution not as the time of the revolutionary efforts of the French in the “prosaic sense” but “only” as the “symbol and fantastic expression” of the Critical figments of his own brain. Criticism does penance for its “oversight” by submitting the Revolution to a fresh examination. At the same time it punishes the seducer of its innocence — “the Mass” — by communicating to it the results of this “fresh examination”.
“The French Revolution was an experiment which still belonged entirely to the eighteenth century.”
The chronological truth that an experiment of the eighteenth century like the French Revolution is still entirely an experiment of the eighteenth century, and not, for example, an experiment of the nineteenth, seems “still entirely” to be one of those truths which “are self-evident from the start”. But in the terminology of criticism, which is very prejudiced against “crystal-clear” truths, a truth like that is called an “examination” and therefore naturally has its place in a “fresh examination of the Revolution”.
“The ideas to which the French Revolution gave rise did not, however, lead beyond the order of things that it wanted to abolish by force.”
Ideas can never lead beyond an old world order but only beyond the ideas of the old world order. Ideas cannot carry out anything at all. In order to carry out ideas men are needed who can exert practical force. In its literal sense the Critical sentence is therefore another truth that is self-evident, and therefore another “examination”. Undeterred by this examination, the French Revolution gave rise to ideas which led beyond the ideas of the entire old world order. The revolutionary movement which began in 1789 in the Cercle Social,  which in the middle of its course had as its chief representatives Leclerc and Roux, and which finally with Babeuf’s conspiracy was temporarily defeated, gave rise to the communist idea which Babeuf’s friend Buonarroti re-introduced in France after the Revolution of 1830. This idea, consistently developed, is the idea of the new world order.
“After the Revolution had therefore” (!) “abolished the feudal barriers in the fife of the people, it was compelled to satisfy and even to inflame the pure egoism of the nation and, on the other hand, to curb it by its necessary complement, the recognition of a supreme being, by this higher confirmation of the general state System, which has to hold together the individual self-seeking atoms.”
The egoism of the nation is the natural egoism of the general state system, as opposed to the egoism of the feudal classes. The supreme being is the higher confirmation of the general state system, and hence also of the nation. Nevertheless, the supreme being is supposed to curb the egoism of the nation, that is, of the general state system! A really Critical task, to curb egoism by means of its confirmation and even of its religious confirmation, i.e., by recognising that it is of a superhuman nature and therefore free of human restraint! The creators of the supreme being were not aware of this, their Critical intention.
Monsieur Buchez, who bases national fanaticism on religious fanaticism, understands his hero Robespierre better.
Nationalism [Nationalität] led to the downfall of Rome and Greece. Criticism therefore says nothing specific about the French Revolution when it maintains that nationalism caused its downfall, and it says just as little about the nation when it defines its egoism as pure. This pure egoism appears rather to be a very dark, spontaneous egoism, combined with flesh and blood, when compared, for example, with the pure egoism of Fichte’s “ego”. But if, in contrast to the egoism of the feudal classes, its purity is only relative, no “fresh examination of the revolution” was needed to see that the egoism which has a nation as its content is more general or purer than that which has as its content a particular social class or a particular corporation.
Criticism’s explanations about the general state system are no less instructive. They are confined to saying that the general state system must hold together the individual self-seeking atoms.
Speaking exactly and in the prosaic sense, the members of civil society are not atoms. The specific property of the atom is that it has no properties and is therefore not connected with beings outside it by any relationship determined by its own natural necessity. The atom has no needs, it is self-sufficient., the world outside it is an absolute vacuum, i.e., is contentless, senseless, meaningless, just because the atom has all fullness in itself. The egoistic individual in civil society may in his non-sensuous imagination and lifeless abstraction inflate himself into an atom, i.e., into an unrelated, self-sufficient, wantless, absolutely full, blessed being. Unblessed sensuous reality does not bother about his imagination, each of his senses compels him to believe in the existence of the world and of individuals outside him, and even his profane stomach reminds him every day that the world outside him is not empty, but is what really fills. Every activity and property of his being, every one of his vital urges, becomes a need, a necessity, which his self-seeking transforms into seeking for other things and human beings outside him. But since the need of one individual has no self-evident meaning for another egoistic individual capable of satisfying that need, and therefore no direct connection with its satisfaction, each individual has to create this connection; it thus becomes the intermediary between the need of another and the objects of this need. Therefore, it is natural necessity, the essential human properties however estranged they may seem to be, and interest that hold the members of civil society together; civil, not political life is their real tie. It is therefore not the state that holds the atoms of civil society together, but the fact that they are atoms only in imagination in the heaven of their fancy, but in reality beings tremendously different from atoms, in other words, not divine egoists, but egoistic human beings. Only political superstition still imagines today that civil life must be held together by the state, whereas in reality, on the contrary, the state is held together by civil life.
“Robespierre’s and Saint-Just’s tremendous idea of making a ‘free people’ which would live only according to the rules of justice and virtue — see, for example, Saint-Just’s report on Danton’s crimes and his other report on the general police — could be maintained for a certain time only by terror and was a contradiction against which the vulgar, self-seeking elements of the popular community reacted in the cowardly and insidious way that was only to he expected from them..,
This phrase of Absolute Criticism, which describes a “free people” as a “contradiction” against which the elements of the “popular community” are bound to react, is absolutely hollow, for according to Robespierre and Saint-just liberty, justice and virtue could, on the contrary, be only manifestations of the life of the “people” and only properties of the “popular community”. Robespierre and Saint-just spoke explicitly of “liberty, justice and virtue” of ancient times, belonging only to the “popular community”. Spartans, Athenians and Romans at the time of their greatness were “free, just and virtuous peoples”.
“What,” asks Robespierre in his speech on the principles of public morals (sitting of the Convention on February 5, 1794), “is the fundamental principle of democratic or popular government? It is virtue, I mean public virtue, which worked such miracles in Greece and Rome and which will work still greater ones in Republican France; virtue which is nothing but love of one’s country and its laws.” >
Robespierre then explicitly calls the Athenians and Spartans “peuples libres”. He continually recalls the ancient popular commune and quotes its heroes as well as its corrupters — Lycurgus, Demosthenes, Miltiades, Aristides, Brutus and Catilina, Caesar, Clodius and Piso. In his report on Danton’s arrest (referred to by Criticism) Saint-Just says explicitly:
“The world has been empty since the Romans, and only their memory fills it and still prophesies liberty.”
His accusation is composed in the ancient style and directed against Danton as against Catilina. In Saint-Just’s other report, the one on the general police, the republican is described exactly in the ancient sense, as inflexible, modest, simple and so on. The police should be an institution of the same nature as the Roman censorship. — He does not fail to mention Codrus, Lycurgus, Caesar, Cato, Catilina, Brutus, Antonius, and Cassius. Finally, Saint-Just describes the “liberty, justice and virtue” that he demands in a single word when he says:
“Que les hommes révolutionnaires soient des Romains." ["Let revolutionary men he Romans."]
Robespierre, Saint-just and their party fell because they confused the ancient, realistic-democratic commonweal based on real slavery with the modern spiritualistic-democratic representative state, which is based on emancipated slavery, bourgeois society. What a terrible illusion it is to have to recognise and sanction in the rights of man modern bourgeois society, the society of industry, of universal competition, of private interest freely pursuing its aims, of anarchy, of self-estranged natural and spiritual individuality, and at the same time to want afterwards to annul the manifestations of the life of this society in particular individuals and simultaneously to want to model the political head of that society in the manner of antiquity!
The illusion appears tragic when Saint-Just, on the day of his execution, pointed to the large table of the Rights of Man hanging in the hall of the Conciergerie and said with proud dignity: “C'est pourtant moi qui ai fait cela” [Yet it was I who made that] It was just this table that proclaimed the right of a man who cannot be the man of the ancient commonweal any more than his economic and industrial conditions are those of ancient times.
This is not the place to vindicate the illusion of the Terrorists historically.
“After the fall of Robespierre the political enlightenment and movement hastened to the point where they became the prey of Napoleon who, shortly after 18 Brumaire, could say: ‘With my prefects, gendarmes and priests I can do what I like with France.'”
Profane history, on the other hand, reports: After the fall of Robespierre, the political enlightenment, which formerly had been overreaching itself and had been extravagant, began for the first time to develop prosaically. Under the government of the Directory, bourgeois society, freed by the Revolution itself from the trammels of feudalism and officially recognised in spite of the Terror’s wish to sacrifice it to an ancient form of political life, broke out in powerful streams of life. A storm and stress of commercial enterprise, a passion for enrichment, the exuberance of the new bourgeois life, whose first self-enjoyment is pert, light-hearted, frivolous and intoxicating; a real enlightenment of the land of France, the feudal structure of which had been smashed by the hammer of the Revolution and which, by the first feverish efforts of the numerous new owners, had become the object of all-round cultivation; the first moves of industry that had now become free — these were some of the signs of life of the newly emerged bourgeois society. Bourgeois society is positively represented by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, therefore, begins its rule. The rights of man cease to exist merely in theory.
It was not the revolutionary movement as a whole that became the prey of Napoleon on 18 Brumaire, as Criticism in its faith in a Herr von Rotteck or Welcker believes; it was the liberal bourgeoisie. One only needs to read the speeches of the legislators of the time to be convinced of this. One has the impression of coming from the National Convention into a modern Chamber of Deputies.
Napoleon represented the last battle of revolutionary terror against the bourgeois society which had been proclaimed by this same Revolution, and against its policy. Napoleon, of course, already discerned the essence of the modern state; he understood that it is based on the unhampered development of bourgeois society, on the free movement of private interest, etc. He decided to recognise and protect this basis. He was no terrorist with his head in the clouds. Yet at the same time he still regarded the state as an end in itself and civil life only as a treasurer and his subordinate which must have no will of its own. He perfected the Terror by substituting permanent war for permanent revolution. He fed the egoism of the French nation to complete satiety but demanded also the sacrifice of bourgeois business, enjoyments, wealth, etc., whenever this was required by the political aim of conquest. If he despotically suppressed the liberalism of bourgeois society — the political idealism of its daily practice — he showed no more consideration for its essential material interests, trade and industry, whenever they conflicted with his political interests. His scorn of industrial hommes d'affaires was the complement to his scorn of ideologists. In his home policy, too, he combated bourgeois society as the opponent of the state which in his own person he still held to be an absolute aim in itself. Thus he declared in the State Council that he would not suffer the owner of extensive estates to cultivate them or not as he pleased. Thus, too, he conceived the plan of subordinating trade to the state by appropriation of roulage [road haulage]. French businessmen took steps to anticipate the event that first shook Napoleon’s power. Paris exchange- brokers forced him by means of an artificially created famine to delay the opening of the Russian campaign by nearly two months and thus to launch it too late in the year.
Just as the liberal bourgeoisie was opposed once more by revolutionary terror in the person of Napoleon, so it was opposed once more by counter-revolution in the Restoration in the person of the Bourbons. Finally, in 1830 the bourgeoisie put into effect its wishes of the year 1789, with the only difference that its political enlightenment was now completed, that it no longer considered the constitutional representative state as a means for achieving the ideal of the state, the welfare of the world and universal human aims but, on the contrary, had acknowledged it as the official expression of its own exclusive power and the political recognition of its own special interests.
The history of the French Revolution, which dates from 1789, did not come to an end in 1830 with the victory of one of its components enriched by the consciousness of its own social importance.
d) Critical Battle Against French Materialism[edit source]
“Spinozism dominated the eighteenth century both in its later French variety, which made matter into substance, and in deism, which conferred on matter a more spiritual name.... Spinoza’s French school and the supporters of deism were but two sects disputing over the true meaning of his system.... The simple fate of this Enlightenment was its decline in romanticism after being obliged to surrender to the reaction which began after the French movement.”
That is what Criticism says.
To the Critical history of French materialism we shall oppose a brief outline of its ordinary, mass-type history. We shall acknowledge with due respect the abyss between history as it really happened and history as it takes place according to the decree of “Absolute Criticism”, the creator equally of the old and of the new. And finally, obeying the prescriptions of Criticism, we shall make the “Why?”, “Whence?” and “Whither?” of Critical history the “object of a persevering study”.
“Speaking exactly and in the prosaic sense”, the French Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, and in particular French materialism, was not only a struggle against the existing political institutions and the existing religion and theology; it was just as much an open, clearly expressed struggle against the metaphysics of the seventeenth century, and against all metaphysics, in particular that of Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza and Leibniz. Philosophy was counterposed to metaphysics, just as Feuerbach, in his first resolute attack on Hegel, counterposed sober philosophy to wild speculation. Seventeenth century metaphysics, driven from the field by the French Enlightenment, notably, by French materialism of the eighteenth century, experienced a victorious and substantial restoration in German philosophy, particularly in the speculative German philosophy of the nineteenth century. After Hegel linked it in a masterly fashion with all subsequent metaphysics and with German idealism and founded a metaphysical universal kingdom, the attack on theology again corresponded, as in the eighteenth century, to an attack on speculative metaphysics and metaphysics in general. It will be defeated for ever by materialism, which has now been perfected by the work of speculation itself and coincides with humanism. But just as Feuerbach is the representative of materialism coinciding with humanism in the theoretical domain, French and English socialism and communism represent materialism coinciding with humanism in the practical domain.
“Speaking exactly and in the prosaic sense”, there are two trends in French materialism; one traces its origin to Descartes, the other to Locke. The latter is mainly a French development and leads directly to socialism. The former, mechanical materialism, merges with French natural science proper. The two trends intersect in the course of development. We have no need here to go more deeply into the French materialism that derives directly from Descartes, any more than into the French school of Newton and the development of French natural science in general.
We shall therefore merely say the following:
Descartes in his physics endowed matter with self-creative power and conceived mechanical motion as the manifestation of its life. He completely separated his physics from his metaphysics. Within his physics, matter is the sole substance, the sole basis of being and of knowledge.
Mechanical French materialism adopted Descartes’ physics in opposition to his metaphysics. His followers were by profession anti-metaphysicians, i.e., physicists.
This school begins with the physician Le Roy, reaches its zenith with the physician Cabanis, and the physician La Mettrie is its centre. Descartes was still living when Le Roy, like La Mettrie in the eighteenth century, transposed the Cartesian structure of the animal to the human soul and declared that the soul is a modus of the body and ideas are mechanical motions. Le Roy even thought Descartes had kept his real opinion secret. Descartes protested. At the end of the eighteenth century Cabanis perfected Cartesian materialism in his treatise: Rapport du physique et du moral de 1'homme.
Cartesian materialism still exists today in France. It has achieved great successes in mechanical natural science which, “speaking exactly and in the prosaic sense”, will be least of all reproached with romanticism.
The metaphysics of the seventeenth century, represented in France by Descartes, had materialism as its antagonist from its very birth. The latter’s opposition to Descartes was personified by Gassendi, the restorer of Epicurean materialism. French and English materialism was always closely related to Democritus and Epicurus. Cartesian metaphysics had another opponent in the English materialist Hobbes. Gassendi and Hobbes triumphed over their opponent long after their death at the very time when metaphysics was already officially dominant in all French schools.
Voltaire pointed out that the indifference of the French of the eighteenth century to the disputes between the Jesuits and the Jansenists was due less to philosophy than to Law’s financial speculations. So the downfall of seventeenth-century metaphysics can be explained by the materialistic theory of the eighteenth century only in so far as this theoretical movement itself is explained by the practical nature of French life at that time. This life was turned to the immediate present, to worldly enjoyment and worldly interests, to the earthly world. Its anti-theological, anti-metaphysical, materialistic practice demanded corresponding anti-theological, anti-metaphysical, materialistic theories. Metaphysics had in practice lost all credit. Here we have only to indicate briefly the theoretical course of events.
In the seventeenth century metaphysics (cf. Descartes, Leibniz, and others) still contained a positive, secular element. It made discoveries in mathematics, physics and other exact sciences which seemed to come within its scope. This semblance was done away with as early as the beginning of the eighteenth century. The positive sciences broke away from metaphysics and marked out their independent fields. The whole wealth of metaphysics now consisted only of beings of thought and heavenly things, at the very time when real beings and earthly things began to be the centre of all interest. Metaphysics had become insipid. In the very year in which Malebranche and Arnauld, the last great French metaphysicians of the seventeenth century, died, Helvétius and Condillac were born.
The man who deprived seventeenth-century metaphysics and metaphysics in general of all credit in the domain of theory was Pierre Bayle. His weapon was scepticism, which he forged out of metaphysics’ own magic formulas. He himself proceeded at first from Cartesian metaphysics. Just as Feuerbach by combating speculative theology was driven further to combat speculative philosophy, precisely because he recognised in speculation the last drop of theology, because he had to force theology to retreat from pseudo-science to crude, repulsive faith, so Bayle too was driven by religious doubt to doubt about the metaphysics which was the prop of that faith. He therefore critically investigated metaphysics in its entire historical development. He became its historian in order to write the history of its death. He refuted chiefly Spinoza and Leibniz.
Pierre Bayle not only prepared the reception of materialism and of the philosophy of common sense in France by shattering metaphysics with his scepticism. He heralded the atheistic society which was soon to come into existence by proving that a society consisting only of atheists is possible, that an atheist can be a man worthy of respect, and that it is not by atheism but by superstition and idolatry that man debases himself.
To quote a French writer, Pierre Bayle was “the last metaphysician in the sense of the seventeenth century and the first philosopher in the sense of the eighteenth century”.
Besides the negative refutation of seventeenth-century theology and metaphysics, a positive, anti-metaphysical system was required. A book was needed which would systematise and theoretically substantiate the life practice of that time. Locke’s treatise An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding came from across the Channel as if in answer to a call. It was welcomed enthusiastically like a long-awaited guest.
The question arises: Is Locke perhaps a disciple of Spinoza? “Profane” history can answer:
Materialism is the natural-born son of Great Britain. Already the British schoolman, Duns Scotus, asked, “whether it was impossible for matter to think?”
In order to effect this miracle, he took refuge in God’s omnipotence, i.e., he made theology preach materialism. Moreover, he was a nominalist. Nominalism, the first form of materialism, is chiefly found among the English schoolmen.
The real progenitor of English materialism and all modern experimental science is Bacon. To him natural philosophy is the only true philosophy, and physics based upon the experience of the senses is the chiefest part of natural philosophy. Anaxagoras and his homoeomeriae, Democritus and his atoms, he often quotes as his authorities. According to him the senses are infallible and the source of all knowledge. All science is based on experience, and consists in subjecting the data furnished by the senses to a rational method of investigation. Induction, analysis, comparison, observation, experiment, are the principal forms of such a rational method. Among the qualities inherent in matter, motion is the first and foremost, not only in the form of mechanical and mathematical motion, but chiefly in the form of an impulse, a vital spirit, a tension — or a ‘Qual’, to use a term of Jakob Böhme’s — of matter. The primary forms of matter are the living, individualising forces of being inherent in it and producing the distinctions between the species.
In Bacon, its first creator, materialism still holds back within itself in a naive way the germs of a many-sided development. On the one hand, matter, surrounded by a sensuous, poetic glamour, seems to attract man’s whole entity by winning smiles. On the other, the aphoristically formulated doctrine pullulates with inconsistencies imported from theology.
In its further evolution, materialism becomes one-sided. Hobbes is the man who systematises Baconian materialism. Knowledge based upon the senses loses its poetic blossom, it passes into the abstract experience of the geometrician. Physical motion is sacrificed to mechanical or mathematical motion; geometry is proclaimed as the queen of sciences. Materialism takes to misanthropy. If it is to overcome its opponent, misanthropic, fleshless spiritualism, and that on the latter’s own ground, materialism has to chastise its own flesh and turn ascetic. Thus it passes into an intellectual entity; but thus, too, it evolves all the consistency, regardless of consequences, characteristic of the intellect.
Hobbes, as Bacon’s continuator, argues thus: if all human knowledge is furnished by the senses, then our concepts, notions, and ideas are but the phantoms of the real world, more or less divested of its sensual form. Philosophy can but give names to these phantoms. One name may be applied to more than one of them. There may even be names of names. But it would imply a contradiction if, on the one hand, we maintained that all ideas had their origin in the world of sensation, and, on the other, that a word was more than a word; that besides the beings known to us by our senses, beings which are one and all individuals, there existed also beings of a general, not individual, nature. An unbodily substance is the same absurdity as an unbodily body. Body, being, substance, are but different terms for the same reality. It is impossible to separate thought from matter that thinks. This matter is the substratum of all changes going on in the world. The word infinite is meaningless, unless it states that our mind is capable of performing an endless process of addition. Only material things being perceptible, knowable to us, we cannot know anything about the existence of God. My own existence alone is certain. Every human passion is a mechanical movement which has a beginning and an end. The objects of impulse are what we call good. Man is subject to the same laws as nature. Power and freedom are identical.
Hobbes had systematised Bacon without, however, furnishing a proof for Bacon’s fundamental principle, the origin of all human knowledge and ideas from the world of sensation.
It was Locke who, in his Essay on the Humane Understanding, supplied this proof.
Hobbes had shattered the theistic prejudices of Baconian materialism; Collins, Dodwell, Coward, Hartley, Priestley, similarly shattered the last theological bars that still hemmed in Locke’s sensationalism. At all events, for materialists, deism is but an easy-going way of getting rid of religion.
We have already mentioned how opportune Locke’s work was for the French. Locke founded the philosophy of bon sens, of common sense; i.e., he said indirectly that there cannot be any philosophy at variance with the healthy human senses and reason based on them.
Locke’s immediate pupil, Condillac, who translated him into French, at once applied Locke’s sensualism against seventeenth-century metaphysics. He proved that the French had rightly rejected this metaphysics as a mere botch work of fancy and theological prejudice. He published a refutation of the systems of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and Malebranche.
In his Essai sur l'origine des connaissances humaines he expounded Locke’s ideas and proved that not only the soul, but the senses too, not only the art of creating ideas, but also the art of sensuous perception, are matters of experience and habit. The whole development of man therefore depends on education and external circumstances. It was only by eclectic philosophy that Condillac was ousted from the French schools.
The difference between French and English materialism reflects the difference between the two nations. The French imparted to English materialism wit, flesh and blood, and eloquence. They gave it the temperament and grace that it lacked. They civilised it.
In Helvétius, who also based himself on Locke, materialism assumed a really French character. Helvétius conceived it immediately in its application to social life (Helvétius, De 1'homme). The sensory qualities and self-love, enjoyment and correctly understood personal interest are the basis of all morality. The natural equality of human intelligences, the unity of progress of reason and progress of industry, the natural goodness of man, and the omnipotence of education, are the main features in his system.
In Lamettrie’s works we find a synthesis of Cartesian and English materialism. He makes use of Descartes’ physics in detail. His Man Machine is a treatise after the model of Descartes’ animal-machine. The physical part of Holbach’s Système de la nature is also a result of the combination of French and English materialism, while the moral part is based essentially on the morality of Helvétius. Robinet (De la nature), the French materialist who had the most connection with metaphysics and was therefore praised by Hegel, refers explicitly to Leibniz.
We need not dwell on Volney, Dupuis, Diderot and others, any more than on the physiocrats, after we have proved the dual origin of French materialism from Descartes’ physics and English materialism, and the opposition of French materialism to seventeenth-century metaphysics, to the metaphysics of Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche, and Leibniz. This opposition only became evident to the Germans after they themselves had come into opposition to speculative metaphysics.
Just as Cartesian materialism passes into natural science proper, the other trend of French materialism leads directly to socialism and communism.
There is no need for any great penetration to see from the teaching of materialism on the original goodness and equal intellectual endowment of men, the omnipotence of experience, habit and education, and the influence of environment on man, the great significance of industry, the justification of enjoyment, etc., how necessarily materialism is connected with communism and socialism. If man draws all his knowledge, sensation, etc., from the world of the senses and the experience gained in it, then what has to be done is to arrange the empirical world in such a way that man experiences and becomes accustomed to what is truly human in it and that he becomes aware of himself as man. If correctly understood interest is the principle of all morality, man’s private interest must be made to coincide with the interest of humanity. If man is unfree in the materialistic sense, i.e., is free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the anti-social sources of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. If man is shaped by environment, his environment must be made human. If man is social by nature, he will develop his true nature only in society, and the power of his nature must be measured not by the power of the separate individual but by the power of society. These and similar propositions are to be found almost literally even in the oldest French materialists. This is not the place to assess them. The apologia of vices by Mandeville, one of Locke’s early English followers, is typical of the socialist tendencies of materialism. He proves that in modern society vice is indispensable and useful. [Bernard de. Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits] This was by no means an apologia for modern society.
Fourier proceeds directly from the teaching of the French materialists. The Babouvists were crude, uncivilised materialists, but developed communism, too, derives directly from French materialism. The latter returned to its mother-country, England, in the form Helvétius gave it. Bentham based his system of correctly understood interest on Helvétius’ morality, and Owen proceeded from Bentham’s system to found English communism. Exiled to England, the Frenchman Cabet came under the influence of communist ideas there and on his return to France became the most popular, if the most superficial, representative of communism. Like Owen, the more scientific French Communists, Dézamy, Gay and others, developed the teaching of materialism as the teaching of real humanism and the logical basis of communism.
Where, then, did Herr Bauer or, Criticism, manage to acquire the documents for the Critical history of French materialism?
1) Hegel’s [Vorlesungen über die] Geschichte der Philosophie presents French materialism as the realisation of the Substance of Spinoza, which at any rate is far more comprehensible than “the French school of Spinoza’.
2) Herr Bauer read Hegel’s Geschichte dear Philosophie as saying that French materialism was the school of Spinoza. Then, as he found in another of Hegel’s works that deism and materialism are two parties representing one and the same basic principle, he concluded that Spinoza had two schools which disputed over the meaning of his system. Herr Bauer could have found the supposed explanation in Hegel’s Phänomenologie, where it is said:
“Regarding that Absolute Being, Enlightenment itself fails out with itself ... and is divided between the views of two parties.... The one ... calls Absolute Being that predicateless Absolute ... the other calls it matter .... Both are entirely the same notion — the distinction lies not in the objective fact, but purely in the diversity of starting-point adopted by the two developments” (Hegel, Phänomenologie, pp. 420, 421, 422)
3) Finally Herr Bauer could find, again in Hegel, that when Substance does not develop into a concept and self-consciousness, it degenerates into “romanticism”. The journal Hallische Jahrbücher at one time developed a similar theory.
But at all costs the “Spirit” had to decree a “foolish destiny” for its “adversary”, materialism.
Note. French materialism’s connection with Descartes and Locke and the opposition of eighteenth-century philosophy to seventeenth-century metaphysics are presented in detail in most recent French histories of philosophy. In this respect, we had only to repeat against Critical Criticism what was already known. But the connection of eighteenth-century materialism with English and French communism of the nineteenth century still needs to be presented in detail. We confine ourselves here to quoting a few typical passages from Helvétius, Holbach and Bentham.
1) Helvétius. “Man is not wicked, but he is subordinate to his interests. One must not therefore complain of the wickedness of man but of the ignorance of the legislators, who have always placed the particular interest in opposition to the general interest.” — “The moralists have so far had no success because we have to dig into legislation to pull out the roots which create vice. In New Orleans women have the right to repudiate their husbands as soon as they are tired of them. In countries like that women are not faithless, because they have no interest in being so.” — “Morality is but a frivolous science when not combined with politics and legislation The hypocritical moralists can be recognised on the one hand by the equanimity with which they consider vices which undermine the state, and on the other by the fury with which they condemn private vice” — “Human beings are born neither good nor bad but ready to become one or the other according as a common interest unites or divides them.” — “If citizens could not achieve their own particular good without achieving the general good, there would be no vicious people except fools” (De l'esprit. 1, Paris, 1822, pp. 117, 240, 241, 249, 251, 369 and 339).
As, according to Helvétius, it is education, by which he means (cf. loc. cit., p. 390) not only education in the ordinary sense but the totality of the individual’s conditions of life, which forms man, if a reform is necessary to abolish the contradiction between particular interests and those of society, so, on the other hand, a transformation of consciousness is necessary to carry out such a reform:
“Great reforms can he implemented only by weakening the stupid respect of peoples for old laws and customs” (loc. cit., p. 260)
or, as he says elsewhere, by abolishing ignorance.
2) Holbach. “Man can only love himself in the objects he loves: he can have affection only for himself in the other beings of his-kind.” “Man can never separate himself from himself for a single instant in his life, he cannot lose sight of himself.” ‘It is always our convenience, our interest ... that makes us hate or love things.” (Système social, t. 1, Paris, 1822,56 pp. 80, 112), but “In his own interest man must love other men, because they are necessary to welfare.... Morality proves to him that of all beings the most necessary to man is man.” (p. 76). “True morality, and true politics as well, is that which seeks to bring men nearer to one another to make them work by united efforts for their common happiness. Any morality which separates our interests from those of our associates, is false, senseless, unnatural.” (p. 116). “To love others ... is to merge our interests with those of our associates, to work for the common benefit.... Virtue is but the usefulness of men united in society”. (p. 77). “A man without desires or passions would cease to be a man.... Perfectly detached from himself, how could one make him decide to attach himself to others? A man indifferent to everything and having no passions, sufficient to himself, would cease to he a social being.... Virtue is but the communication of good.” (loc. cit., p. 118). “ Religious morality never served to make mortals more sociable.” (loc. cit., p. 36).
3) Bentham. We only quote one passage from Bentham in which he opposes “intérêt général in the political sense” “The interest of individuals ... must give way to the public interest. But ... what does that mean? Is not each individual part of the public as much as any other? This public interest that you personify is but an abstract term: it represents but the mass of individual interests.... If it were good to sacrifice the fortune of one individual to increase that of others, it would be better to sacrifice that of a second, a third, and so on ad infinitum.... Individual interests are the only real interests.” (Bentham, Théorie des peines et des récompenses, Paris, 1826, 3ème 6d., II, p. , 230).
e) Final Defeat of Socialism[edit source]
“The French set up a series of systems of how the mass should be organised, but they had to resort to fantasy because they considered the mass, as it is, to be usable material.”
Actually, the French and the English have proved, and proved in great detail, that the present social system organises the “mass as it is” and is therefore its organisation. Criticism, following the example of the Allgemeine Zeitung, disposes of all socialist and communist systems by means of the fundamental word “fantasy”. Having thus shattered foreign socialism and communism, Criticism transfers its war-like operations to Germany.
“When the German Enlighteners suddenly found themselves disappointed in their hopes of 1842 and, in their embarrassment, did not know what to do, news of the recent French systems came in the nick of time. They were henceforth able to speak of raising the lower classes of the people and at that price they were able to dispense with the question whether they did not themselves belong to the mass, which is to be found not only in the lowest strata.”
Criticism has obviously so exhausted its entire provision of well meaning motives in the apologia for Bauer’s literary past that it can find no other explanation for the German socialist movement than the “embarrassment” of the Enlighteners in 1842. “Fortunately they received news of the recent French systems.” Why not of the English? For the decisive Critical reason that Herr Bauer received no news of the recent English systems through Stein’s book: Der Communismus und Socialismus des heutigen Frankreichs. This is also the decisive reason why only French systems ever exist for Criticism in all its talk about socialist systems. The German Enlighteners, Criticism goes on to explain, committed a sin against the Holy Ghost. They busied themselves with the “lower classes of the people”, already in existence in 1842, in order to get rid of the question, which did not yet exist then, as to what rank they were destined to occupy in the Critical world system that was to be instituted in anno 1843: sheep or goat, Critical Critic or impure Mass, Spirit or Matter. But above all they should have thought seriously of the Critical salvation of their own souls, for of what profit is it to me if I gain the whole world, including the lower classes of the people, and suffer the loss of my own soul?
“But a spiritual being cannot be raised to a higher level unless it is altered, and it cannot be altered before it has experienced extreme resistance.”
Were Criticism better acquainted with the movement of the lower classes of the people it would know that the extreme resistance that they have experienced from practical life is changing them every day. Modern prose and poetry emanating in England and France from the lower classes of the people would show it that the lower classes of the people know how to raise themselves spiritually even without being directly overshadowed by the Holy Ghost of Critical Criticism.
“They,” Absolute Criticism continues to indulge in fancy, “whose whole wealth is the word ‘organisation of the mass'”, etc.
A lot has been said about “organisation of labour”, although even this “catchword” came not from the Socialists themselves but from the politically radical party in France, which tried to be an intermediary between politics and socialism. But nobody before Critical Criticism spoke of “organisation of the mass” as of a question yet to be solved. It was proved, on the contrary, that bourgeois society, the dissolution of the old feudal society, is this organisation of the mass.
Criticism puts its discovery in quotation marks [Gänsefüsse (=goose-feet) is a German word for quotation marks]. The goose that cackled to Herr Bauer the watchword for saving the Capitol is none but his own goose, Critical Criticism. It organised the mass anew by speculatively constructing it as the Absolute Opponent of the Spirit. The antithesis between spirit and mass is the Critical “organisation of society”, in which the Spirit, or Criticism, represents the organising work, the mass — the raw material, and history — the product.
After Absolute Criticism’s great victories over revolution, materialism and socialism in its third campaign, we may ask: What is the final result of these Herculean feats? Only that these movements perished without any result because they were still criticism adulterated by mass or spirit adulterated by matter. Even in Herr Bauer’s own literary past Criticism discovered manifold adulterations of criticism by the mass. But here it writes an apologia instead of a criticism, “places in safety” instead of surrendering; instead of seeing in the adulteration of the spirit by the flesh the death of the spirit too, it reverses the case and finds in the adulteration of the flesh by the spirit the life even of Bauer’s flesh. On the other hand, it is all the more ruthless and decisively terroristic as soon as imperfect criticism still adulterated by mass is no longer the work of Herr Bauer but of whole peoples and of a number of ordinary Frenchmen and Englishmen; as soon as imperfect criticism is no longer entitled Die Judenfrage, or Die gute Sache der Freiheit, or Staat, Religion und Parthei, but revolution, materialism, socialism or communism. Thus Criticism did away with the adulteration of spirit by matter and of criticism by mass by sparing its own flesh and crucifying the flesh of others.
One way or the other, the “spirit adulterated by flesh” or “Criticism adulterated by mass” has been cleared out of the way. Instead of this un-Critical adulteration, there appears absolutely Critical disintegration of spirit and flesh, criticism and mass, their pure opposition. This opposition in its world-historic form in which it constitutes the true historical interest of the present time, is the opposition of Herr Bauer and Co., or the Spirit, to the rest of the human race as Matter.
Revolution, materialism and communism therefore have fulfilled their historic mission. By their downfall they have prepared the way for the Critical Lord. Hosanna!
f) The Speculative Cycle of Absolute Criticism and the Philosophy of Self-Consciousness[edit source]
Criticism, having supposedly attained perfection and purity in one domain, therefore committed only one oversight “only” one “inconsistency”, that of not being “pure” and “perfect” in all domains. The “one” Critical domain is none other than that of theology. The pure area of this domain extends from the Kritik der Synoptiker by Bruno Bauer to Das entdeckte Christenthum by Bruno Bauer, as the farthest frontier post.
“Modern Criticism,” we are told, “had finally dealt with Spinozism; it was therefore inconsistent of it naively to presuppose Substance in one domain, even if only in individual, falsely expounded points.”
Criticism’s earlier admission that it had been involved in political prejudice was immediately followed by the extenuating circumstance that this involvement had been “basically so slight!” Now “the admission of inconsistency is tempered by the parenthesis that it committed only in individual, falsely expounded points. It was not Herr Bauer who was to blame, but the false points which ran away with Criticism like recalcitrant mounts.
A few quotations will show that by overcoming Spinozism Criticism ended up in Hegelian idealism, that from “Substance” it arrived at another metaphysical monster, the “Subject”, “Substance as a process”, “infinite self-consciousness”, and that the final result of “perfect” and “pure” Criticism is the restoration of the Christian theory of creation in a speculative, Hegelian form.
Let us first open the Kritik der Synoptiker.
“Strauss remains true to the view that Substance is the Absolute. Tradition in this form of universality, which has not yet attained the real and rational certitude of universality, that certitude which can be attained only in self-consciousness, in the o~ and infinity of self-consciousness, is nothing but Substance which has emerged from its logical simplicity and has assumed a definite form of existence as the power of the community.” (Kritik der Synoptiker, Vol. I, Preface, pp. vi [-vii]).
Let us leave to their fate “the universality which attains certitude”, the “oneness and infinity” (the Hegelian Notion). — Instead of saying that the view put forward in Strauss’ theory on the “power of the community” and “tradition” has its abstract expression, its logical and metaphysical hieroglyphic, in the Spinozist conception of Substance, Herr Bauer makes “Substance emerge from its logical simplicity and assume a definite form of existence in the power of the community”. He applies the Hegelian miracle apparatus by which the “metaphysical categories” — abstractions extracted out of reality — emerge from logic, where they are dissolved in the “simplicity” of thought, and assume “a definite form” of physical or human existence; he makes them become incarnate. Help, Hinrichs!
“Mysterious,” Criticism continues its argument against Strauss, “mysterious is this view because whenever it wishes to explain and make visible the process to which the gospel history owes its origin, it can only bring out the semblance of a press [... ] The sentence: ‘The gospel history has its source and origin in tradition’, posits the same thing twice — ‘tradition’ and the ‘gospel history'; admittedly it does posit a relation between them, but it does not tell us to what internal process of Substance the development and exposition owe their origin."'
According to Hegel, Substance must be conceived as an internal process. He characterises development from the viewpoint of Substance as follows:
“But if we look more closely at this expansion, we find that it has not come about by one and the same principle taking shape in diverse ways; it is only the shapeless repetition of one and the same thing ... keeping up a tedious semblance of diversity” (Phänomenologie, Preface, p. 12).
“Criticism,” Herr Bauer continues, “according to this, must turn against itself and look for the solution of the mysterious substantiality ... in what the development of Substance itself leads to, in the universality and certitude of the idea and its real existence, in infinite self-consciousness.”
Hegel’s criticism of the substantiality view continues:
“The compact solidity of Substance is to be opened up and Substance raised to self-consciousness” (loc. cit., p. 7).
Bauer’s self-consciousness, too, is Substance raised to self-consciousness or self-consciousness as Substance; self-consciousness is transformed from an attribute of man into a self-existing subject. This is the metaphysical-theological caricature of man in his severance from nature. The being of this self-consciousness is therefore not man, but the idea of which self-consciousness is the real existence. It is the idea become man, and therefore it is infinite. All human qualities are thus transformed in a mysterious way into qualities of imaginary “infinite self-consciousness”. Hence, Herr Bauer says expressly that everything has its origin and its explanation in this “infinite selfconsciousness”, i.e., finds in it the basis of its existence. Help, Hinrichs! Herr Bauer continues:
“The power of the substantiality relation lies in its impulse, which leads us to the concept, the idea and self-consciousness.”
“Thus the concept is the truth of the substance.” “The transition of the substantiality relation takes place through its own immanent necessity and consists in this only, that the concept is the truth of the substance.” “The idea is the adequate concept.” “The concept ... having achieved free existence ... is nothing but the ego or pure self-consciousness” (Logik, Hegel’s Werke, 2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 6, 9, 229, 13).
Help, Hinrichs! It seems comic in the extreme when Herr Bauer says in his Literatur-Zeitung:
“Strauss came to grief because he was unable to complete the criticism of Hegel’s system, although he proved by his half-way criticism the necessity for its completion”, etc.
It was not a complete criticism of Hegel’s system that Herr Bauer himself thought he was giving in his Kritik der Synoptiker but at the most the completion of Hegel’s system, at least in its application to theology.
He describes his criticism (Kritik der Synoptiker, Preface, p. xxi) as “the last act of a definite system”, which is no other than Hegel’s system.
The dispute between Strauss and Bauer over Substance and Self-Consciousness is a dispute within Hegelian speculation. In Hegel there are three elements, Spinoza’s Substance, Fichte’s Self-Consciousness and Hegel’s necessarily antagonistic unity of the two, the Absolute Spirit. The first element is metaphysically disguised nature separated from man; the second is metaphysically disguised spirit separated from nature; the third is the metaphysically disguised unity of both, real man and the real human species.
Within the domain of theology, Strauss expounds Hegel from Spinoza’s point of view, and Bauer does so from Fichte’s point of view, both quite consistently. They both criticised Hegel insofar as with him each of the two elements was falsified by the other, whereas they carried each of these elements to its one-sided and hence consistent development. — Both of them therefore go beyond Hegel in their criticism, but both also remain within his speculation and each represents only one side of his system. Feuerbach, who completed and criticised Hegel from Hegel’s point of view by resolving the metaphysical Absolute Spirit into “real man on the basis of nature”, was the first to complete the criticism of religion by sketching in a grand and masterly manner the basic features of the criticism of Hegel’s speculation and hence of all metaphysics.
With Herr Bauer it is, admittedly, no longer the Holy Ghost, but nevertheless infinite self-consciousness that dictates the writings of the evangelist.
“We ought not any longer to conceal the fact that the correct conception of the gospel history also has its philosophical basis, namely, the philosophy of self-consciousness” (Bruno Bauer, Kritik der Synoptiker, Preface, p. xv).
This philosophy of Herr Bauer, the philosophy of self-consciousness, like the results he achieved by his criticism of theology, must be characterised by a few extracts from Das entdeckte Christenthum, his last work on the philosophy of religion. Speaking of the French materialists, he says:
“When the truth of materialism, the philosophy of self-consciousness, is revealed and self-consciousness is recognised as the Universe, as the solution of the riddle of Spinoza’s substance and as the true causa sui [Cause of itself]..., what is the purpose of the Spirit? What is the purpose of self-consciousness? As if self-consciousness, by positing the world, did not posit distinction and did not produce itself in all it produces, since it does away again with the distinction of what it produced from itself, and since, consequently it is itself only in production and in movement — as if self-consciousness in this movement, which is itself, had not its purpose and did not possess itself!” (Das entdeckte Christenthum, p. 113.)
“The French materialists did, indeed, conceive the movement of selfconsciousness as the movement of the universal being, matter, but they could not yet see that the movement of the universe became real for itself and achieved unity with itself only as the movement of self-consciousness” (1. c., pp. [114-] 115).
In plain language the first extract means: the truth of materialism is the opposite of materialism, absolute, i.e., exclusive, unmitigated idealism. Self-consciousness, the Spirit, is the Universe. Outside of it there is nothing. “Self-consciousness”, “the Spirit”, is the almighty creator of the world, of heaven and earth. The world is a manifestation of the life of self-consciousness which has to alienate itself and take on the form of a slave, but the difference between the world and self-consciousness is only an apparent difference. Self-consciousness distinguishes nothing real from itself. The world is, rather, only a metaphysical distinction, a phantom of its ethereal brain and an imaginary product of the latter. Hence selfconsciousness does away again with the appearance, which it conceded for a moment, that something exists outside of it, and it recognises in what it has “produced” no real object, i.e., no object which in reality, is distinct from it. By this movement, however, self-consciousness first produces itself as absolute, for the absolute idealist, in order to be an absolute idealist, must necessarily constantly go through the sophistical process of first transforming the world outside himself into an appearance, a mere fancy of his brain, and afterwards declaring this fantasy to be what it really is, i.e., a mere fantasy, so as finally to be able to proclaim his sole, exclusive existence, which is no longer disturbed even by the semblance of an external world.
In plain language the second extract means: The French materialists did, of course, conceive the movements of matter as movements involving spirit, but they were not yet able to see that they are not material but ideal movements, movements of selfconsciousness, consequently pure movements of thought. They were not yet able to see that the real movement of the universe became true and real only as the ideal movement of selfconsciousness free and freed from matter, that is, from reality; in other words, that a material movement distinct from ideal brain movement exists only in appearance. Help, Hinrichs!
This speculative theory of creation is almost word for word in Hegel; it can be found in his first work, his Phänomenologie.
“The alienation of self-consciousness itself establishes thinghood.... In this alienation self-consciousness establishes itself as object or sets up the object as itself. On the other hand, there is also this other moment in the process that it has just as much abolished this alienation and objectification and resumed them into itself.... This is the movement of consciousness” (Hegel, Phänomenologie, pp. 574-75).
“Self-consciousness has a content which it distinguishes from itself... This content in its distinction is itself the ego, for it is the movement of superseding itself.... More precisely stated, this content is nothing but the very movement just spoken of; for the content is the Spirit which traverses the whole range of its own being, and does this for itself as Spirit” (loc. cit., pp. [582-] 583).
Referring to this theory of creation of Hegel’s, Feuerbach observes:
“Matter is the self-alienation of the spirit. Thereby matter itself acquires spirit and reason — but at the same time it is assumed as a nothingness, an unreal being, inasmuch as being producing itself from this alienation, i.e., being divesting itself of matter, of sensuousness, is pronounced to be being in its perfection, in its true shape and form. Therefore the natural, the material, the sensuous, is what is to he negated here too, as nature poisoned by original sin is in theology” (Philosophie der Zukunft p. 35).
Herr Bauer therefore defends materialism against un-Critical theology, at the same time as he reproaches it with “not yet” being Critical theology, theology of reason, Hegelian speculation. Hinrichs! Hinrichs! Herr Bauer, who in all domains carries through his opposition to Substance, his philosophy of self-consciousness or of the Spirit, must therefore in all domains have only the figments of his own brain to deal with. In his hands, Criticism is the instrument to sublimate into mere appearance and pure thought all that affirms a finite material existence outside infinite self-consciousness. What he combats in Substance is not the metaphysical illusion but its mundane kernel — nature; nature both as it exists outside man and as man’s nature. Not to presume Substance in any domain — he still uses this language — means therefore for him not to recognise any being distinct from thought, any natural energy distinct from the spontaneity of the spirit, any power of human nature distinct from reason, any passivity distinct from activity, any influence of others distinct from one’s own action any feeling or willing distinct from knowing, any heart distinct from the head, any object distinct from the subject, any practice distinct from theory, any man distinct from the Critic, any real community distinct from abstract generality, any Thou distinct from I. Herr Bauer is therefore consistent when he goes on to identify himself with infinite self-consciousness, with the Spirit, i.e., to replace these creations of his by their creator. He is just as consistent in rejecting as stubborn mass and matter the rest of the world which obstinately insists on being something distinct from what he, Herr Bauer, has produced. And so he hopes:
It will not belong Before all bodies perish.
His own ill-humour at so far being unable to master “the something of this clumsy world” he interprets equally consistently as the self-discontent of this world, and the indignation of his Criticism at the development of mankind as the mass-type indignation of mankind against his Criticism, against the Spirit, against Herr Bruno Bauer and Co.
Herr Bauer was a theologian from the very beginning, but no ordinary one; he was a Critical theologian or a theological Critic. While still the extreme representative of old Hegelian orthodoxy who put in a speculative form all religious and theological nonsense, he constantly proclaimed Criticism his private domain. At that time he called Strauss’ criticism human criticism and expressly asserted the right of divine criticism in opposition to it. He later stripped the great self-reliance or self-consciousness, which was the hidden kernel of this divinity, of its religious shell, made it self-existing as an independent being, and raised it, under the trade-mark “Infinite Self-consciousness”, to the rank of the principle of Criticism. Then he accomplished in his own movement the movement that the “philosophy of self-consciousness” describes as the absolute act of life. He abolished anew the “distinction” between “the product”, infinite self-consciousness, and the producer, himself, and acknowledged that infinite self-consciousness in its movement “was only he himself”, and that therefore the movement of the universe only becomes true and real in his ideal self-movement.
Divine criticism in its return into itself is restored in a rational, conscious, Critical way; being in-itself is transformed into being in-and-for-itself and only at the end does the fulfilled, realised, revealed beginning take place. Divine criticism, as distinct from human criticism, reveals itself as Criticism, pure Criticism, Critical Criticism. The apologia for the Old and the New Testament is replaced by the apologia for the old and new works of Herr Bauer. The theological antithesis of God and man, spirit and flesh, infinity and finiteness is transformed into the Critical-theological antithesis of the Spirit, Criticism, or Herr Bauer, and the matter of the mass, or the secular world. The theological antithesis of faith and reason has been resolved into the Critical-theological antithesis of common sense and pure Critical thought. The Zeitschrift für spekulative Theologie has been transformed into the Critical Literatur-Zeitung. The religious redeemer of the world has finally become a reality in the Critical redeemer of the world, Herr Bauer.
Herr Bauer’s last stage is not an anomaly in his development; it is the return of his development into itself from its alienation. Naturally, the point at which divine Criticism alienated itself and came out of itself coincided with the point at which it became partly untrue to itself and created something human.
Returning to its starting-point, Absolute Criticism has ended the speculative cycle and thereby its own life’s career. Its further movement is pure, lofty circling within itself, above all interest of a mass nature and therefore devoid of any further interest for the Mass.
- Here and lower quotations are made from B. Bauer’s article “Latest Works on the Jewish Question” published in No. 1 of Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (December 1843); this was B. Bauer’s reply to press criticism of his book Die Judenfrage.
- Bruno Bauer’s book Die Judenfrage (The Jewish Question) is a reprint with a few additions of his articles on the same subject published in Deutsche Jahrbücher (German Year-Book) in November 1842. The book was published in Brunswick in 1843.
- The reference is to the weekly paper Revolutions de Paris, which appeared in Paris from July 1789 to February 1794. Until September 1790 it was edited by the revolutionary publicist Eliseé Loustallot.
- Doctrinaires – a group of French bourgeois politicians during the Restoration (1815-30); they were constitutional monarchists and rabid enemies of the democratic and revolutionary movement and wished to establish in France a bloc of the bourgeoisie and gentry after the English fashion; the best known among them were the historian F. Guizot and the philosopher P. Royer-Collard.
- Marx has in mind B. Bauer’s article “Latest Works on the Jewish Question.”
- The reference is to B. Bauer’s review of the first volume of a course of lectures on law by the right Hegelian Hinrichs published in Halle in 1843 under the title Politische Vorlesungen, Bd. I-II (Political Lectures, Vols. I-II), Bauer’s review was published in No. I of Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (December 1843). Lower, in the section “Hinrichs No. 2” the reference is to B. Bauer’s review on the second volume of the lectures published in No. V (April 1844) of the same journal.
- This and the following quotations are from the second article written by B. Bauer against the critics of his book Die Judenfrage. This article, entitled as the first “Now Works on the Jewish Question,” was given in No. IV of Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (March 1844).
- The title of B. Bauer’s article, published in No. VIII of Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (July 1844). Nearly all the quotations made by Marx in Absolute Criticism’s Third Campaign are taken from this article.
- Deutsche Jahrbücher – abridged title of the literary-philosophical Young Hegelian journal Deutsche Jahrbücher für Wissenschaft und Kunst (German Year-Book on Science and Art). The year-book was published in Leipzig and edited by A. Ruge from July 1841. From 1838 to 1841 it appeared under the name Hallische Jahrbücher für deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst (the Halle Year-Book on German Science and Art). The transfer of the editorial office from the Prussian town of Halle to Saxony and the alteration in the title of the year-book were motivated by the threat of prohibition in Prussia But the journal did not exist long under its new name. In January, 1843 it was closed down by the Saxonian government and prohibited in the whole of Germany by a decree of the Diet.
- Rheinische Zeitung für Politik, Handel und Gewerbe (Rhine Gazette of Politics, Trade and Industry) – a daily paper which appeared in Cologne from January 1, 1842 to March 31, 1843. It was founded by representatives of the Rhineland bourgeoisie who were opposed to Prussian absolutism. Some young Hegelians were also on the staff. Marx wrote for it from April 1842 and became one of its editors in October of the same year. A number of Engels’s articles were also published in Rheinische Zeitung. During Marx’s editorship the paper became more and more markedly revolutionary-democratic. The government introduced a particularly strict censorship in regard to it and subsequently closed it.
- Allgemeine Zeitung (General Newspaper) a reactionary German daily newspaper founded in 1798; from 1810 to 1882 it appeared in Augsburg.
- Synoptics is the name given in the history of religion to the compilers of the first three gospels.
- The reference is to Marx’s article “On the Jewish Question.”
- The article in question is B. Bauer’s “Fahigkeit der heutigen Juden und Christen, frei zu werden” (“The Capacity of the Jews and Christians of Today to Obtain Freedom”).
- Cercle social – an organization established by democratic intellectuals and functioning, in Paris in the first years of the French Pevolution. Its place in the history of communist ideas in France is determined by the fact that its ideologist K. Foche demanded an equalitarian redivision of the land, restrictions on large fortunes and employment for all able-bodied citizens. Foche’s criticism of the formal equality proclaimed in the documents of the French Revolution prepared the ground for bolder action on the question by Jacques Roux, leader of the “Enragés.”
- Jansenists – named after the Dutch theologian Jansenius – representatives of the opposition trend among Catholics in France in the 17th and early 18th centuries. They voiced the discontent of a part of the French bourgeoisie at the feudal ideology of official Catholicism.
- Lamettrie’s book (L'homme machine) was published anonymously in Leyden in 1748. It was burnt and its author was banished from Holland whither he had emigrated from France in 1745.
- Allgemeine Zeitung (General Newspaper) a reactionary German daily newspaper founded in 1798; from 1810 to 1882 it appeared in Augsburg.
- Goethe, Faust, Part 1, Sc. 3 (Faust’s Study).
- Zeitschrift für spekulative Theologie (Journal of Speculative Theology) – published in Berlin from 1836 to 1838 under the editorship of B. Bauer, who then belonged to the right Hegelians.