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The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Saint Max — The New Testament: “Ego”

3. The Revelation of John the Divine, or
“The Logic of the New Wisdom”

In the beginning was the word, the logos. In it was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shone in darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. That was the true light, it was in the world, and the world did not know it. He came into his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become owners, who believe in the name of the unique. [But who] has ever [seen] the unique [?]

[Let] us now [examine] this “light of the [world” in “the] logic of the new wisdom [”, for Saint] Sancho does not rest content with his previous [destructions].

[In the case of our] “unique” author, it is a matter [of course that] the basis of his [genius lies] in the brilliant [series of personal] advantages [which constitute] his special [virtuosity] of thought. [Since] all these advantages have already been extensively demonstrated, it suffices here to give a brief summary of the most important of them: carelessness of thought — confusion — incoherence — admitted clumsiness — endless repetitions — constant contradiction with himself — unequalled comparisons — attempts to intimidate the reader — systematic legacy-hunting in the realm of thoughts by means of the levers “you”, “it”, “one”, etc., and crude abuse of the conjunctions for, therefore, for that reason, because, accordingly, but, etc. — ignorance — clumsy assertions — solemn frivolity — revolutionary phrases and peaceful thoughts — bluster — bombastic vulgarity and coquetting with cheap indecency — elevation of Nante the loafer[83] to the rank of an absolute concept — dependence on Hegelian traditions and current Berlin phrases — in short, sheer manufacture of a thin beggar’s broth (491 pages of it) in the Rumford manner.

Drifting like bones in this beggar’s broth are a whole series of transitions, a few specimens of which we shall now give for the amusement of the German public depressed as it is:

“Could we not — now, however — one sometimes shares — one can then — to the efficacy of ... belongs especially that which one frequently ... hears called — and that is to say — to conclude, it can now be clear — in the meantime — thus it can, incidentally, be thought here — were it not for — or if, perhaps, it were not — progress from ... to the point that ... is not difficult — from a certain point of view it is argued approximately, thus — for example, and so on”, etc., and “it is to that” in all possible “transformations”.


We can at once mention here a [logical] trick about which [it is impossible] to decide whether it owes [its] existence to the [lauded] efficiency of Sancho [or to] the inefficiency of his [thinking]. This [trick consists] in seizing on [one aspect], treating it as if it were the sole [and only] aspect so far known of an idea [or] concept which [has several well]-defined aspects, foisting this aspect [on the concept as] its sole characteristic and then setting [against it every other] aspect under a [new name, as] something original. This is how the concepts of freedom and peculiarity are dealt with, [as] we shall see later.

Among the categories which owe their origin not so much to the personality of Sancho, as to the universal distress in which the German theoreticians find themselves at the present time, the first place is taken by trashy distinction, the extreme of trashiness. Since our saint immerses himself in such “soul-torturing” antitheses as singular and universal, private interest and universal interest, ordinary egoism and selflessness, etc., in the final analysis one arrives at the trashiest mutual concessions and dealings between the two aspects, which again rest on the most subtle distinctions — distinctions whose existence side by side is expressed by “also” and whose separation from each other is then maintained by means of a miserable “insofar as”. Such trashy distinctions, for instance, are: how people exploit one another, but none does so at the expense of another, the extent to which something in me is inherent or suggested; the construction of human and of unique work, existing side by side, what is indispensable for human life and what is indispensable for unique life; what belongs to personality in its pure form and what is essentially fortuitous, to decide which Saint Max, from his point of view, has no criterion at all; what belongs to the rags and tatters and what to the skin of the individual; what by means of denial he gets rid of altogether or appropriates, to what extent he sacrifices merely his freedom or merely his peculiarity, in which case he also makes a sacrifice but only insofar as, properly speaking, he does not make a sacrifice; what brings me into relation with others as a link or as a personal relation. Some of these distinctions are absolutely trashy, others — in the case of Sancho at least — lose all meaning and foundation. One can regard as the peak of these trashy distinctions that between the creation of the world — by the individual and the impulse which the individual receives from the world. If, for example, he had gone more deeply here into this impulse, into the whole extent and multifarious character of its influence on him, he would in the end have discovered the contradiction that he is as blindly [dependent] on the world as he [egoistically] and ideologically creates [it]. (See: “My Self-Enjoyment”.) He [would not then have put] side by side [his"] .also” and “insofar as”, [any more than] “human” work [and] unique” work; he would not have opposed one to the other, therefore one would [not have] attacked the other [in the rear,] and the “egoist in agreement [with himself"] would not be completely [subordinated to himself] — but we [know] that the latter did not need to be [presupposed] because from the outset this was the point of departure.


This trashy play with distinctions occurs throughout “the book”; It is a main lever also for the other logical tricks and particularly takes the form of a moral casuistry that is as self-satisfied as it is ridiculously cheap. Thus, it is made clear to us by means of examples how far the true egoist has the right to tell lies and how far he has not; to what extent the betrayal of confidence is “despicable” and to what extent it is not; to what extent the Emperor Sigismund and the French King Francis I had the right to break their oath [84] and how far their behaviour in this respect was “disgraceful”, and other subtle historical illustrations of the same sort. Against these painstaking distinctions and petty questions there stands out in strong relief the indifference of our Sancho for whom it is all the same and who ignores all actual, practical and conceptual differences. In general we can already say now that his ability to distinguish is far inferior to his ability not to distinguish, to regard all cats as black in the darkness of the holy, and to reduce everything to anything — an art which finds its adequate expression in the use of the apposition.

Embrace your “ass”, Sancho, you have found him again here. He gallops merrily to meet you, taking no notice of the kicks he has been given, and greets you with his ringing voice. Kneel before him, embrace his neck and fulfil the calling laid down for you by Cervantes in Chapter XXX.

The apposition is Saint Sancho’s ass, his logical and historical locomotive, the driving force of “the book”, reduced to its briefest and simplest expression. In order to transform one idea into another, or to prove the identity of two quite different things, a few intermediate links are sought which partly by their meaning, partly by their etymology and partly by their mere sound can be used to establish an apparent connection between the two basic ideas. These links are then appended to the first idea in the form of an apposition, and in such a way that one gets farther and farther away from the starting-point and nearer and nearer to the point one wants to reach. If the chain of oppositions has got so far that one can draw a conclusion without any danger, the final idea is likewise fastened on in the form of an apposition by means of a dash, and the trick is done. This is a highly recommendable method of insinuating thoughts, which is the more effective the more it is made to serve as the lever for the main arguments. When this trick has been successfully performed several times, one can, following Saint Sancho’s procedure, gradually omit some of the intermediate links and finally reduce the series of oppositions to a few absolutely essential hooks.


The apposition, as we have seen above, can also be reversed and thus lead to new, even more complicated tricks and more astounding results. We have seen there, too, that the apposition is the logical form of the infinite series of mathematics.

Saint Sancho employs the apposition in two ways: on the one hand, purely logically, in the canonisation of the world, where it enables him to transform any earthly thing into “the holy”, and, on the other hand, historically, in disquisitions on the connection of various epochs and in summing them up, each historical stage being reduced to a single word, and the final result is that the last link of the historical series has not got us an inch farther than the first, and in the end all the epochs of the series are combined in a single abstract category like idealism, dependence on thoughts, etc. If the historical series of oppositions is to be given the appearance of progress, this is achieved by regarding the concluding phrase as the completion of the first epoch of the series, and the intermediate links as ascending stages of development leading to the final, culminating phrase.

Alongside the apposition we have synonymy, which Saint Sancho exploits in every way. If two words are etymologically linked or are merely similar in sound, they are made responsible for each other, or if one word has different meanings, then, according to need, it is used sometimes in one sense and sometimes in the other, while Saint Sancho makes it appear that he is speaking of one and the same thing in different “refractions”. Further, a special branch of synonymy consists of translation, where a French or Latin expression is supplemented by a German one which only half-expresses it, and in addition denotes something totally different; as we saw above, for example, when the word “ respektieren” was translated “to experience reverence and fear”, and so on. One recalls the words Staat, Status, Stand, Notstand, etc. In the section on communism we have already had the opportunity of observing numerous examples of this use of ambiguous expressions. Let us briefly examine an example of etymological synonymy.


“The word ‘Gesellschaft’ [society] is derived from the word ‘Sal’. If there are many people in a Saal, [hall, room] then the Saal brings it about that they are in society. They are in society and they constitute at most a salon society, since they talk in conventional salon phrases. If real intercourse takes place, it should be regarded as independent of society” (p. 286).

Since the “word ‘Gesellschaft’ is derived from ‘Sal"’ (which, incidentally, is not true, for the original roots of all words are verbs) then “Sal” must be equivalent to “Saal”. But “Sal” in old High-German means a building; Kisello, Geselle — from which Gesellschaft is derived — means a house companion; hence “Saal” is dragged in here quite arbitrarily. But that does not matter; “Saal” is immediately transformed into “salon”, as though there was not a gap of about a thousand years and a great many miles between the old High-German “ Sal” and the modern French “salon”. Thus society is transformed into a salon society, in which, according to the German philistine idea, an intercourse consisting only of phrases takes place and all real intercourse is excluded. — Incidentally since Saint Max only aimed at transforming society into “the holy”, he could have arrived at this by a much shorter route if he had made a somewhat more accurate study of etymology and consulted any dictionary of word roots. What a find it would have been for him to discover there the etymological connection between the words “Gesellschaft” andselig”; Gesellschaft — selig — heilig — das Heilige [society-blessed-holy-the holy] — what could look simpler?

If “Stirner’s” etymological synonymy is correct, then the communists are seeking the true earldom, the earldom as the holy. As Gesellschaft comes from Sal, a building, so Graf [earl] (Gothic garâvo) comes from the Gothic râvo, house. Sal, building = râvo, house; consequently Gesellschaft=Grafschaft. [earldom] The prefixes and suffixes are the same in both words, the root syllables have the same meaning — hence the holy society of the communists is the holy earldom, the earldom as the holy — what could look simpler? Saint Sancho had an inkling of this, when he saw in communism the perfection of the feudal system, i.e., the system of earldoms.


Synonymy serves our saint, on the one hand, to transform empirical relations into speculative relations, by using in its speculative meaning a word that occurs both in practical life and in philosophical speculation, uttering a few phrases about this speculative meaning and then making out that he has thereby also criticised the actual relations which this word denotes as well. He does this with the word speculation. On page 406, “speculation” “appears” showing two sides as one essence that possesses a “dual manifestation” — O Szeliga! He rages against philosophical speculation and thinks he has thereby also settled accounts with commercial speculation, about [which] he knows nothing. On the other hand, this synonymy enables him, a concealed petty bourgeois, to transform bourgeois relations (see what was said above in dealing with “communism about the connection between language and bourgeois relations') into personal, individual relations, which one cannot attack without attacking the individuality, “peculiarity” and “uniqueness” of the individual. Thus, for example, Sancho exploits the etymological connection between Geld [money] and Geltung, [worth, value] Vermögen [wealth, property] vermögen, [to be able, capable] etc.

Synonymy, combined with the apposition, provides the main lever for his conjuring tricks, which we have already exposed on countless occasions. To give an example how easy this art is, let us also perform a conjuring trick à la Sancho.

Wechsel, [change, bill of exchange] as change, is the law of phenomena, says Hegel, This is the reason, “Stirner” could continue, for the phenomenon of the strictness of the law against false bills of exchange; for we see here the law raised above phenomena, the law as such, holy law, the law as the holy, the holy itself, against which sin is committed and which is avenged in the punishment. Or in other words: Wechsel “in its dual manifestation”, as a bill of exchange (lettre de change) and as change (changement), leads to Verfall [expiry, falling due, decline], (échéance and décadence). Decline as a result of change is observed in history, inter alia, in the fall of the Roman Empire, feudalism, the German Empire and the domination of Napoleon. The “transition from” these great historical crises “to” the commercial crises of our day “is not difficult”, and this explains also why these commercial crises are always determined by the expiry of bills of exchange.


Or he could also, as in the case of “Vermögen” and “Geld”, justify the “Wechsel” etymologically and “from a certain point of view argue approximately as follows”. The communists want, among other things, to abolish the Wechsel (bill of exchange). But does not the main pleasure of the world lie precisely in Wechsel (change)? They want, therefore, the dead, the immobile, China — that is to say, the perfect Chinese is a communist. “Hence” communist declamations against Wechselbriefe and Wechsler. As though every letter were not a Wechselbrief, a letter that notes a change, and every man not a Wechselnder, a Wechsler.

To give the simplicity of his construction and logical tricks the appearance of great variety, Saint Sancho needs the episode. From time to time he “episodically” inserts a passage which belongs to another part of the book, or which could quite well have been left out altogether, and thus still further breaks the thread of his so-called argument, which has already been repeatedly broken without that. This is accompanied by the naive statement that “we” “do not stick to the rules”, and after numerous repetitions causes in the reader a certain insensitiveness to even the greatest incoherence. When one reads “the book”, one becomes accustomed to everything and finally one readily submits even to the worst. Incidentally, these episodes (as was only [to be] expected from Saint Sancho) are themselves only imaginary and mere repetitions under [other guises] of phrases encountered hundreds of times [already].

After Saint Max has [thus displayed] his personal qualities, and then revealed himself as ["appearance” and] as “essence” in the distinction, [in] synonymy and in the episode, [we] come [to the] true culmination and completion of logic, the “concept”.

[The] concept is the “ego” (see Hegel’s Logik, Part 3), logic [as the ego]. This is the pure relation [of the] ego to the world, a relation [divested] of all the real relations that exist for it; [a formula] for all the equations to [which the holy] man reduces mundane [concepts]. It was already [revealed] above that by applying this formula to all sorts of things Sancho merely makes an unsuccessful “attempt” to understand the various pure determinations of reflection, such as identity, antithesis,, etc.

Let us begin at once with a definite example, e.g., the relation between the “ego” and the people.


I am not the people.
The people = non-I
I = the non-people.

Hence, I am the negation of the people, the people is dissolved in me.

The second equation can be expressed also by an auxiliary equation:

The people’s ego is non-existent,


The ego of the people is the negation of my ego.

The whole trick, therefore, consists in: 1) that the negation which at the outset belonged to the copula is attached first to the subject and then to the predicate; and 2) that the negation, the “not”, is, according to convenience, regarded as an expression of dissimilarity, difference, antithesis or direct dissolution. In the present example it is regarded as absolute dissolution, as complete negation; we shall find that — at Saint Max’s convenience — it is used also in the other meanings. Thus the tautological proposition that I am not the people is transformed into the tremendous new discovery that I am the dissolution of the people.

For the equations given above, it was not even necessary for Saint Sancho to have any idea of the people; it was enough for him to know that I and the people are “totally different names for totally different things”; it was sufficient that the two words do not have a single letter in common. If now there is to be further speculation about the people from the standpoint of egoistical logic, it suffices to attach any kind of trivial determination to the people and to “I” from outside, from day-to-day experience, thus giving rise to new equations. At the same time it is made to appear that different determinations are being criticised in different ways. We shall now proceed to speculate in this manner about freedom, happiness and wealth:

Basic equations:

The people = non-I.

Equation No. 1:

Freedom of the people = Not my freedom.
Freedom of the people = My non-freedom.
Freedom of the people = My lack of freedom.

(This can also be reversed, resulting in the grand proposition: My lack of freedom = slavery is the freedom of the people.)

Equation No. 2:

Happiness of the people = Not my happiness.
Happiness of the people = My non-happiness.
Happiness of the people = My unhappiness.


(Reversed equation: My unhappiness, my distress, is the happiness of the people.)

Equation No. 3:

Wealth of the people = Not my wealth.
Wealth of the people = My non-wealth.
Wealth of the people = My poverty.

(Reversed equation: My poverty is the wealth of the people.) This can be continued ad libitum and extended to other determinations.

For the formation of such equations all that is required, apart from a very general acquaintance with such ideas as Stirner can combine in one notion with “people”, is to know the positive expression for the result obtained in the negative form, e.g., “poverty” — for “non-wealth”, etc. That is to say, as much knowledge of the language as one acquires in everyday life is quite sufficient to arrive in this way at the most surprising discoveries.

The entire trick here, therefore, consisted in transforming not-my-wealth, not-my-happiness, not-my-freedom into my non-wealth, my non-happiness, my non-freedom. The “not”, which in the first equation is a general negation that can express all possible forms of difference, e.g., it may merely mean that it is our common, and not exclusively my, wealth — this “not” is transformed in the [second] equation into the negation of my wealth, [my] happiness, etc., and ascribes to me [non-happiness], unhappiness, slavery. [Since] I am denied some definite form of wealth, [the people’s] wealth but by no means [wealth] in general, [Sancho believes poverty] must be ascribed to me. [But] this is also [brought about] by expressing my non-freedom in a positive way and so transforming it into my ["lack of freedom"]. But [my non-freedom] can, of course, also mean hundreds [of other] things — e.g., my ["lack of freedom]”, my non-freedom from [my] body, etc.

We started out just now from the second equation: the people = non-I. We could also have taken the third equation as Our starting-point: I =the non-people, and then, in the case of wealth for example, according to the same method, it would be proved in the end that “my wealth is the poverty of the people”. Here, however, Saint Sancho would not proceed in this way, but would dissolve altogether the property relations of the people and the people itself, and then arrive at the following result: my wealth is the destruction not only of the people’s wealth but of the people itself. This shows how arbitrarily Saint Sancho acted when he transformed non-wealth into poverty. Our saint applies these different methods higgledy-piggledy and exploits negation sometimes in one meaning and sometimes in another. Even “anyone who has not read Stirner’s book” “sees at once” (Wigand, p. 191) what confusions this is liable to produce.


In just the same way the “ego” “operates” against the state.

I am not the state.
I="Negation” of the state.
Nothing of the state=I.

Or in other words: I am the “creative nothing” in which the state is swallowed up.

This simple melody can be used to ring the changes with any subject.

The great proposition that forms the basis of all these equations is: I am not non-I. This non-I is given various names, which, on the one hand, can be purely logical, e.g., being-in-itself, other-being, or, on the other hand, the names of concrete ideas such as the people, state, etc. In this way the appearance of a development can he produced by taking these names as the starting-point and gradually reducing them — with the aid of equations, or a series of appositions — again to the non-ego, which was their basis at the outset. Since the real relations thus introduced figure only as different modifications of the non-ego, and only nominally different modifications at that — nothing at all need be said about these real relations themselves. This is all the more ludicrous since [the real] relations are the relations [of the individuals] themselves, and declaring them to be relations [of the non]-ego only proves that one knows nothing about them. The matter is thereby so greatly simplified that even “the great majority consisting of innately limited intellects” can learn the trick in ten minutes at most. At the same time, this gives us a criterion of the “uniqueness” of Saint Sancho.

Saint Sancho further defines the non-ego opposed to the ego as being that which is alien to the ego, that which is the alien. The relation of the non-ego to the ego is “therefore” that of alienation [Entfremdung]. We have just given the logical formula by which Saint Sancho presents any object or relation whatsoever as that which is alien to the ego, as the alienation of the ego; on the other hand, Saint Sancho can, as we shall see, also present any object or relation as something created by the ego and belonging to it. Apart, first of all, from the arbitrary way in which he presents, or does not present, any relation as a relation of alienation (for everything can he made to fit in the above equations), we see already here that his only concern is to present all actual relations, [and also] actual individuals, [as alienated] (to retain this philosophical [expression] for the time being), to [transform] them into the wholly [abstract] phrase of alienation. Thus [instead] of the task of describing [actual] individuals in their [actual] alienation and in the empirical relations of this alienation, [purely empirical] relations, the same happens here — the setting forth is replaced by the [mere idea] of alienation, of [the Alien], of the Holy. [The] substitution of the category of alienation (this is again a determination of reflection which can be considered as antithesis, difference, non-identity, etc.) finds its final and highest expression in “the alien” being transformed again into “the holy”, and alienation into the relation of the ego to anything whatever as the holy. We prefer to elucidate the logical process on the basis of Saint Sancho’s relation to the holy, since this is the predominant formula, and in passing we note that “the alien” is considered also as ‘,the existing” (per appos.), that which exists apart from me, that which exists independently of me, per appos., that which is regarded as independent owing to my non-independence, so that Saint Sancho can depict as the holy everything that exists independently of him, e.g., the Blocksberg. [85]


Because the holy is something alien, everything alien is transformed into the holy; and because everything holy is a bond, a fetter, all bonds and all fetters are transformed into the holy. By this means Saint Sancho has already achieved the result that everything alien becomes for him a mere appearance, a mere idea, from which he frees himself by simply protesting against it and declaring that he does not have this idea. just as we saw in the case of the egoist not in agreement with himself: people have only to change their consciousness to make everything in the world all right.

Our whole exposition has shown that Saint Sancho criticises all actual conditions by declaring them “the holy”, and combats them by combating his holy idea of them. This simple trick of transforming everything into the holy was achieved, as we have already seen in detail above, by Jacques le bonhomme accepting in good faith the illusions of philosophy, the ideological, speculative expression of reality divorced from its empirical basis, for reality, just as he mistook the illusions of the petty [bourgeois concerning] the bourgeoisie for the “[holy essence” of the] bourgeoisie, and could therefore imagine that he was only dealing with thoughts and ideas. With equal ease people were transformed into the “holy”, for after their thoughts had been divorced from them themselves and from their empirical relations, it became possible to consider people as mere vehicles for these thoughts and thus, for example, the bourgeois was made into the holy liberal.


The positive relation of [Sancho] — who is in the final analysis [pious] — to the holy (a relation [he] calls respect) figures also [under the] name of “love”. “Love” [is a ] relation that approves of “[man"], the holy, the ideal, the supreme being, or such a human, holy, ideal, essential relation. Anything that was elsewhere designated as the existence of the holy, e.g., the state, prisons, torture, police, trade and traffic, etc., can also be regarded by Sancho as “another example” of “love”. This new nomenclature enables him to write new chapters about what he has already utterly rejected under the trade mark of the holy and respect. It is the old story of the goats of the shepherdess Torralva, in a holy form. And as at one time, with the aid of this story, he led his master by the nose, so now he leads himself and the public by the nose throughout the book without, however, be) rig able to break off his story as wittily as he did in those earlier times when he was still a secular armour-bearer. In general, since his canonisation Sancho has lost all his original mother wit.

The first difficulty appears to arise because this holy is in itself very diverse, so that when criticising some definite holy thing one ought to leave the holiness out of account and criticise the definite content itself. Saint Sancho avoids this rock by presenting everything definite as merely an “example” of the holy; just as in Hegel’s Logik it is immaterial whether atom or personality is adduced to explain “being-for-itself”, or the solar system, magnetism or sexual love as an example of attraction. It is, therefore, by no means an accident that “the book” teems with examples, but is rooted in the innermost essence of the method of exposition employed in it. This is the unique” possibility which Saint Sancho has of producing an appearance of some sort of content, the prototype of which is already to be found in Cervantes, since Sancho also speaks all the time in examples. Thus Sancho is able to say: “Another example of the holy” (the uninteresting) “is labour”. He could have continued: another example is the state, another is the family, another is rent of land, another is Saint Jacob (Saint-Jacques, le bonhomme), another is Saint Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins.[86] Indeed, in his imagination, all these things have this in common: that they are the “holy”. But at the same time they are totally different things, and it is just this that constitutes their specific nature. Insofar as one speaks of their specific nature, one does not speak of them as “the holy”.


[Labour is] not rent of land, and [rent of land] is not the state; [the main] thing, therefore, is to define [what] the state, land rent and labour are [apart from] their imagined holiness, [and Saint] Max achieves this in the following way. [He pretends to] be speaking about the state, [labour,] etc., and then calls ["the” state] the reality of some [sort of idea] — of love, of [being]-for-one-another, of the existing, of power over [Individuals], and — by means [of a] dash — of “the holy”, but [he could] have said [that at the] outset. Or [he says] of labour that it is regarded as a life task, [a vocation, a] destiny — “the holy”. That is to say, the state and labour are first of all brought under a particular kind of the holy which has been previously prepared in the same way, and this particular holy is then again dissolved in the universal “holy”; all of which can take place without saying anything about labour and. the state. The same stale cud can then be chewed over again on any convenient occasion, because everything that is apparently the object of criticism serves our Sancho merely as an excuse for declaring that the abstract ideas and the predicates transformed into subjects (which are nothing but suitably assorted holies, a sufficient store of which is always kept in reserve) are what they were made to be at the outset, viz., the holy. He has in fact reduced everything to its exhaustive, classic expression, by saying of it that it is “another example of the holy”. The definitions which he has picked up by hearsay, and which are supposed to relate to content, are altogether superfluous, and on closer examination it is found, too, that they introduce neither definition nor content and amount to no more than ignorant banalities. This cheap “virtuosity of thought” which polishes off any subject-matter whatever even before knowing anything about it, can of course be acquired by anyone, and not in ten minutes, as previously [stated], but even in five. In the “Commentary” Saint Sancho threatens us with “treatises” about Feuerbach, socialism, bourgeois society, and only the holy knows what else. Provisionally we can already here reduce these treatises to their simplest expression as follows:

First treatise: Another example of the holy is Feuerbach.
Second treatise: Another example of the holy is socialism.
Third treatise: Another example of the holy is bourgeois society.
Fourth treatise: Another example of the holy is the “treatise” in the Stirner manner.

Etc., in infinitum.


A little reflection shows that the second rock against which Saint Sancho was bound to suffer shipwreck was his own assertion that every individual is totally different from every other, is unique. Since every individual is an altogether different being, hence an other-being, it is by no means necessary that what is alien, holy, for one individual should be so for another individual; it even cannot be so. And the common name used, such as state, religion, morality, etc., should not mislead us, for these names are only abstractions from the actual attitude of separate individuals, and these objects, in consequence of the totally different attitude towards them of the unique individuals, become for each of the latter unique objects, hence totally different objects, which have only their name in common. Consequently, Saint Sancho could at most have said: for me, Saint Sancho, the state, religion, etc., are the alien, the holy. Instead of this he has to make them the absolutely holy, the holy for all individuals — how else could he have fabricated his constructed ego, his egoist in agreement with himself, etc., how else could he at all have written his whole “book"? How little it occurs to him to make each “unique” the measure of his own “uniqueness”, how much he uses his own “uniqueness” as a measure, as a moral norm, to be applied to all other individuals, like a true moralist forcing them into his Procrustean bed, is already evident, inter alia, from his judgment on the departed and forgotten Klopstock, whom he opposes with the moral maxim that he ought to have adopted an “attitude to religion altogether his own”, in that case he would have arrived not at a religion of his own, which would be the correct conclusion (a conclusion that “Stirner” himself draws innumerable times, e.g., in regard to money), but at a “dissolution and swallowing up of religion” (p. 85), a universal result instead of an individual, unique result. As though Klopstock had not arrived at a “dissolution and swallowing up of religion”, and indeed at a quite individual, unique dissolution, such as only this unique Klopstock could have ,achieved”, a dissolution whose uniqueness “Stirner” could have easily seen even from the many unsuccessful imitations. Klopstock’s attitude to religion is supposed to be not his “own”, although it was altogether peculiar to him, and indeed was a relation to religion which made Klopstock Klopstock. His attitude to religion would have been “peculiar” only if he had behaved towards it not like Klopstock but like a modern German philosopher.


The “egoist in the ordinary sense”, who is not so docile as Szeliga and who has already above put forward all sorts of objections, here makes the following retort to our saint: here in the actual world, as I know very well, I am concerned with my own advantage and nothing else, rien pour la gloire [mere honour is worth nothing]. Besides this, I enjoy thinking that I am immortal and can have advantages also in heaven. Ought I to sacrifice this egoistical conception for the sake of the mere consciousness of egoism in agreement with itself, which will not bring me in a farthing? The philosophers tell me: that is inhuman. What do I care? Am I not a human being? Is not everything I do human, and human because I do it, and is it any concern of mine how “others” “classify” my actions? You, Sancho, who indeed are also a philosopher, but a bankrupt one — and because of your philosophy you deserve no financial credit, and because of your bankruptcy you deserve no intellectual credit — you tell me that my attitude to religion is not one peculiar to me. What you say, therefore, is the same as what the other philosophers tell me, but in your case, as usual, it loses all meaning since you call “peculiar” what they call “human”. Could you speak of any other peculiarity than your own and transform your own relation again into a universal one? In my own way, my attitude to religion, if you like, is also a critical one. Firstly, I have no hesitation in sacrificing it, as soon as it attempts to interfere in my commerce; secondly, in my business affairs it is useful for me to be regarded as religious (as it is useful for my proletarian, if the pie that I eat here he eats at least in heaven); and, finally, I turn heaven into my property. It is une propriété ajoutée à la propriété, [property added to property] although already Montesquieu, who was of course a quite different type of man from you, tried to make me believe that it is une terreur ajoutée à la terreur. [terror added to terror]My attitude to heaven is not like that of any other person, and by virtue of the unique attitude that I adopt towards it, it is a unique object, a unique heaven. At most, therefore, you are criticising your idea of my heaven, but not my heaven. And now immortality! Here you become simply ridiculous. I deny my egoism — as you assert to please the philosophers — because I immortalise it and declare the laws of nature and thought null and void, as soon as they want to give my existence a determination which is not produced by me myself and is highly unpleasant for rite, namely, death. You call immortality “tedious stability” — as though I could not always live an “eventful” life so long as trade is flourishing in this or the other world and I can do business in other things than your “book”. And what can be “more stable” than death, which against my will puts an end to my movement and submerges me in the universal, nature, the species, the holy? And now the state, law, police! For many an “ego” they may appear to be alien powers; but I know that they are my own powers. Incidentally — and at this point the bourgeois, this time with a gracious nod of the head, again turns his back on our saint — as far as I am concerned, go on blustering against religion, heaven, God and so on. I know all the same that in everything that interests me — private property, value, price, money, purchase and sale — you always perceive something “peculiar”.


We have just seen how individuals differ from one another. But every individual again is diverse in himself. Thus, by reflecting himself in one of these qualities, i.e., by regarding, defining his “ego” through one of these determinations, Saint Sancho can define the object of the other qualities and these other qualities themselves as the alien, the holy; and so in turn with all his qualities. Thus, for example, that which is object for his flesh is the holy for his spirit, or that which is object for his need of rest is the holy for his need of movement. His transformation, described above, of all action and inaction into self-denial is based on this trick. Moreover, his ego is no real ego, but only the ego of the equations given above, the same ego that in formal logic, in the theory of propositions, figures as Caius [87].

“Another example”, namely, a more general example of the canonisation of the world, is the transformation of real collisions, i.e., collisions between individuals and their actual conditions of life, into ideal collisions, i.e., into collisions between these individuals and the ideas which they form or get into their heads. This trick, too, is extremely simple. As Saint Sancho earlier made the thoughts of individuals into something existing independently, so here he separates the ideal reflection of real collisions from these collisions and turns this reflection into something existing independently. The real contradictions in which the Individual finds himself are transformed into contradictions of the individual with his idea or, as Saint Sancho also expresses it more simply, into contradictions with the idea as such, with the holy. Thus he manages to transform the real collision, the prototype of its ideal copy, into the consequence of this ideological pretence. Thus he arrives at the result that it is not a question of the practical abolition of the practical collision, but only of renouncing the idea of this collision, a renunciation which he, as a good moralist, insistently urges people to carry out.

After Saint Sancho has thus transformed all the contradictions and collisions in which the individual finds himself into mere contradictions and collisions of the individual with one or other of his ideas, an idea which has become independent of him and has subordinated him to itself, and, therefore, is “easily” transformed into the idea as such, the holy idea, the holy — after this there remains only one thing for the individual to do: to commit the sin against the Holy Spirit, to abstract from this idea and declare the holy to be a spectre. This logical swindle, which the individual performs on himself, our saint regards as one of the greatest efforts of the egoist. On the other hand, however, anyone can see how easy it is in this way to declare that from the egoistical point of view all historically occurring conflicts and movements are subsidiary, without knowing anything about them. To do this one has only to extract a few of the phrases usually adopted in such cases, to transform them, in the manner indicated, into “the holy”, to depict the individuals as being subordinated to this holy, and to put oneself forward as one who despises “the holy as such”.


A further offshoot of this logical trick, and indeed our saint’s favourite manoeuvre, is the exploitation of the words designation, vocation, task, etc., thereby immensely facilitating the transformation of whatever he likes into the holy. For, in vocation, designation, task, etc., the individual appears in his own imagination as something different from what he actually is, as the alien, hence as the holy, and in opposition to his real being he asserts his idea of what he ought to be as the rightful, the ideal, the holy. Thus, when it is necessary for him, Saint Sancho can transform everything into the holy by means of the following series of oppositions: to designate oneself, i.e., to choose a designation (insert here any content you like) for oneself; to choose the designation as such; to choose a holy designation, to choose a designation as the holy, i.e., to choose the holy as designation. Or: to be designated, i.e., to have a designation, to have the designation, the holy designation, designation as the holy, the holy as designation, the holy for designation, the designation of the holy.

And now, of course, it only remains for him strongly to admonish people to select for themselves the designation of absence of any designation, the vocation of absence of any vocation, the task of absence of any task — although throughout “the book”, “up to and including” the “Commentary”, he does nothing but select designations for people, set people tasks and, like a prophet in the wilderness, call them to the gospel of true egoism, about whom, of course, it is said: many are called but only one — O'Connell — is chosen.

— The Conditions of Life of a Class Appear as Universal —

We have already seen above how Saint Sancho separates the ideas of individuals from the conditions of their life, from their practical collisions and contradictions, in order then to transform them into the holy. Now these ideas appear in the form of designation, vocation, task. For Saint Sancho vocation has a double form; firstly as the vocation which others choose for me — examples of which we have already had above in the case of the newspapers that are full of politics and the prisons that our saint mistook for houses of moral correction. Afterwards vocation appears also as a vocation in which the individual himself believes. If the ego is divorced from all its empirical conditions of life, its activity, the conditions of its existence, if it is separated from the world that forms its basis and from its own body, then, of course, it has no other vocation and no other designation than that of representing the Caius of the logical proposition and to assist Saint Sancho in arriving at the equations given above. In the real world, on the other hand, where individuals have needs, they thereby already have a vocation and task; and at the outset it is still immaterial whether they make this their vocation in their imagination as well. It is clear, however, that because the individuals possess consciousness they form an idea of this vocation which their empirical existence has given them and, thus, furnish Saint Sancho with the opportunity of seizing on the word vocation, that is, on the mental expression of their actual conditions of life, and of leaving out of account these conditions of life themselves. The proletarian, for example, who like every human being has the vocation of satisfying his needs and who is not in a position to satisfy even the needs that he has in common with all human beings, the proletarian whom the necessity to work a 14-hour day debases to the level of a beast of burden, whom competition degrades to a mere thing, an article of trade, who from his position as a mere productive force, the sole position left to him, is squeezed out by other, more powerful productive forces — this proletarian is, if only for these reasons, confronted with the real task of revolutionising his conditions. He can, of course, imagine this to be his “vocation”, he can also, if he likes to engage in propaganda, express his “vocation” by saying that to do this or that is the human vocation of the proletarian, the more so since his position does not even allow him to satisfy the needs arising directly from his human nature. Saint Sancho does not concern himself with the reality underlying this idea, with the practical aim of this proletarian — he clings to the word “vocation” and declares it to be the holy, and the proletarian to be a servant of the holy — the easiest way of considering himself superior and “proceeding further”.


Particularly in the relations that have existed hitherto, when one class always ruled, when the conditions of life of an individual always coincided with the conditions of life of a class, when, therefore, the practical task of each newly emerging class was bound to appear to each of its members as a universal task, and when each class could actually overthrow its predecessor only by liberating the individuals of all classes from certain chains which had hitherto fettered them — under these circumstances it was essential that the task of the individual members of a class striving for domination should be described as a universal human task.

Incidentally, when for example the bourgeois tells the proletarian that his, the proletarian’s, human task is to work fourteen hours a day, the proletarian is quite justified in replying in the same language that on the contrary his task is to overthrow the entire bourgeois system.

We have already repeatedly seen how Saint Sancho puts forward a whole series of tasks all of which resolve themselves into the final task, which exists for all people, that of true egoism. But even where he does not reflect, and does not see himself as creator and creation, he manages to arrive at a task by means of the following trashy distinction.

Page 466: “Whether you want to continue to occupy yourself with thinking depends on you. If you wish to achieve anything substantial in thinking, then” (the conditions and designations begin for you) “then ... anyone who wishes to think, therefore, certainly has a task, which by having that wish he sets himself, consciously or unconsciously; but no one has the task of thinking.”

First of all, apart from any other content of this proposition, it is incorrect even from Saint Sancho’s own viewpoint, since the egoist in agreement with himself, whether he wishes it or not, certainly has the “task” of thinking. He must think, on the one hand, to keep in check the flesh, which can be tamed only through the spirit, through thought, and, on the other hand, to be able to fulfil his reflective determination as creator and creation. Consequently he sets the whole world of deceived egoists the “task” of knowing themselves — a “task” which, of course, cannot be accomplished without thought.


In order to change this proposition from the form of trashy distinction into a logical form, one must first of all get rid of the term “substantial”. For each person the “substantial” that he wishes to achieve in thought is something different, depending on his degree of education, the conditions of his life and his aim at the time. Saint Max, therefore, does not give us here any firm criterion for determining when the task begins which one sets oneself by thinking and how far one can go in thought without setting oneself any task — he limits himself to the relative expression “substantial”. But for me everything is “substantial” that induces me to think, everything about which I think is “substantial”. Therefore instead of: “if you want to achieve anything substantial in thinking”, it should read: “if you want to think at all”. This depends, however, not at all on your wishing or not wishing, since you possess consciousness and can satisfy your needs only by an activity in which you have to use your consciousness as well. Further, the hypothetical form must be got rid of. “If you want to think” — then from the outset you are setting yourself the “task” of thinking; Saint Sancho had no need to proclaim this tautological statement with such pomposity. The whole proposition was only clothed in this form of trashy distinction and pompous tautology in order to conceal the content: as a definite person, an actual person, you have a designation, a task, whether you are conscious of it or not. It arises from your need and the connection of the latter with the existing world. Sancho’s real wisdom lies in his assertion that it depends on your will whether you think, live, etc., whether in general you possess any sort of determinateness. He is afraid that otherwise determination would cease to be your self-determination. When you equate your self with your reflection, or according to need, with your will, then it is obvious that in this abstraction everything that is not posited by your reflection or your will is not self-determination — therefore also, for example, your breathing, your blood circulation, thought, life, etc. For Saint Sancho, however, self-determination does not even consist in will but, as we saw already in regard to the true egoist, in the reservatio mentalis of indifference to any kind of determinateness — an indifference which reappears here as absence of determination. In his “own” series of oppositions this would assume the following form: as opposed to all real determination, he chooses absence of determination as his determination, at each moment he distinguishes between himself and the undeterminated, thus at each moment he is also some other than he is, a third person, and indeed the other pure and simple, the holy other, the other counterposed to all uniqueness, the undeterminated, the universal, the ordinary — the ragamuffin.


If Saint Sancho saves himself from determination by his leap into absence of determination (which is itself a determination and indeed the worst of all), then the practical, moral content of this whole trick, apart from what was said above in connection with the true egoist, is merely an apology for the vocation forced on every individual in the world as it has existed so far. If, for example, the workers assert in their communist propaganda that the vocation, designation, task of every person is to achieve all-round development of all his abilities, including, for example, the ability to think, Saint Sancho sees in this only the vocation to something alien, the assertion of “the holy”. He seeks to free them from this by defending the individual who has been crippled by the division of labour at the expense of his abilities and relegated to a one-sided vocation against his own need to become different, a need which has been stated to be his vocation by others. What is here asserted in the form of a vocation, a designation, is precisely the negation of the vocation that has hitherto resulted in practice from the division of labour, i.e., the only actually existing vocation — hence, the negation of vocation altogether. The all-round realisation of the individual will only cease to be conceived as an ideal, a vocation, etc., when the impact of the world which stimulates the real development of the abilities of the individual is under the control of the individuals themselves, as the communists desire.

Finally, in the egoistical logic all the twaddle about vocation has moreover the purpose of making it possible to introduce the holy into things and to enable us to destroy them without having to touch them. Thus, for example, one person or another regards work, business affairs, etc., as his vocation. Thereby these become holy work, holy business affairs, the holy. The true egoist does not regard them as vocation; thereby he has dissolved holy work and holy business affairs. So they remain what they are and he remains what he was. It does not occur to him to investigate whether work, business affairs, etc., these modes of existence of individuals, by their real content and process of development necessarily lead to those ideological notions which he combats as independent beings, or, to use his expression, which he canonises.

Just as Saint Sancho canonises communism in order later, in connection with the union, the better to palm off his holy idea of it as his “own” invention, so, in exactly the same way, he blusters against “vocation, designation, task” merely in order to reproduce them throughout his book as the categorical imperative. Wherever difficulties arise, Sancho hacks his way through them by means of a categorical imperative such as “turn yourself to account”, “recognise yourself”, “let each become an all-powerful ego”, etc. On the categorical imperative, see the section on the “union”; on “vocation”, etc., see the section on “self-enjoyment”.

We have now revealed the chief logical tricks Saint Sancho uses to canonise the existing world and thereby to criticise and consume it. Actually, however, he consumes only the holy in the world, without even touching the world itself. Hence it is obvious that he has to remain wholly conservative in practice. If he wanted to criticise, then earthly criticism would begin just where any possible halo ends.

— Social Development Exposes Falsehoods —

The more the normal form of intercourse of society, and with it the conditions of the ruling class, develop their contradiction to the advanced productive forces, and the greater the consequent discord within the ruling class itself as well as between it and the class ruled by it, the more fictitious, of course, becomes the consciousness which originally corresponded to this form of intercourse (i.e., it ceases to be the consciousness corresponding to this form of intercourse), and the more do the old traditional ideas of these relations of intercourse, in which actual private interests, etc., etc., are expressed as universal interests, descend to the level of mere idealising phrases, conscious illusion, deliberate hypocrisy. But the more their falsity is exposed by life, and the less meaning they have for consciousness itself, the more resolutely are they asserted, the more hypocritical, moral and holy becomes the language of this normal society. The more hypocritical this society becomes, the easier it is for such a credulous man as Sancho to discover everywhere the idea of the holy, the ideal. From the universal hypocrisy of society he, the credulous, can deduce universal faith in the holy, the domination of the holy, and can even mistake this holy for the pedestal of existing society. He is the dupe of this hypocrisy, from which he should have drawn exactly the opposite conclusion.

The world of the holy is in the final analysis epitomised in “man”. As we have already seen throughout the Old Testament, Sancho regards “man” as the active subject on which the whole of previous history ‘s based; in the New Testament he extends this domination of “man” to the whole of the existing, contemporary physical and spiritual world, and also to the properties of the individuals at present existing. Everything belongs to “man” and thus the world is transformed into the “world of man”. The holy as a person is “man”, which for Sancho is only another name for the concept, the idea. The conceptions and ideas of people, separated from actual things, are bound, of course, to have as their basis not actual individuals, but the individual of the philosophical conception, the individual separated from his actuality and existing only in thought, man as such, the concept of man. With this, his faith in philosophy reaches its culmination.


Now that everything has been transformed into “the holy” or into what belongs to “man”, our saint is enabled to proceed further to appropriation, by renouncing the idea of “the holy” or of “man” as a power standing above him. Owing to the alien having been transformed into the holy, into a mere idea, this idea of the alien, which he mistakes for the actually existing alien, is of course his property. The basic formulas for the appropriation of the world of man (the way in which the ego gains possession of the world when it no longer has any respect for the holy) are already contained in the equations given above.

As we have seen, Saint Sancho is already master of his qualities as the egoist in agreement with himself. In order to become master of the world, all he has to do is to make it one of his qualities. The simplest way of doing so is for Sancho to proclaim the quality of “man”, with all the nonsense contained in this, directly as his quality. Thus he claims for himself, for example, as a quality of the ego, the nonsense of universal love of mankind by asserting that he loves “everyone” (p. 387) and indeed with the consciousness of egoism, for “love makes him happy”. A person who has such a happy nature, indubitably belongs to those of whom it is said: Woe unto you if you offend even one of these little ones! [cf. Luke 17:1-2]

The second method is that Saint Sancho tries to preserve something as a quality of his, while he transforms it — when it seems necessary to him as a relation — into a relation, a mode of existence, of “man”, a holy relation, and thereby repudiates it. Saint Sancho does this even when the quality, separated from the relation through which it is realised, becomes pure nonsense. Thus, for example, on page 322 he wants to preserve national pride by declaring that “nationality is one of his qualities and the nation his owner and master”. He could have continued: religiousness is a quality of mine, I have no intention of renouncing it as one of my qualities — religion is my master, the holy. Family love is a quality of mine, the family is my master. justice is a quality of mine, the law is my master; to engage in politics is a quality of mine, the state is my master.

The third method of appropriation is employed when some alien power whose force he experiences in practice is regarded by him as holy and spurned altogether without being appropriated. In this case he sees his own powerlessness in the alien power and recognises this powerlessness as his property, his creation, above which he always stands as creator. This, for example, is the case with the state. Here, too, he fortunately arrives at the point at which he has to deal not with something alien, but only with a quality of his own, against which he needs only to set himself as creator in order to overcome it. In an emergency, therefore, the lack of a quality is also taken by him as a quality of his. When Saint Sancho is starving to death it is not due to lack of food, but to his own hungriness, his own quality of starving. If he falls out of a window and breaks his neck, it happens not because the force of gravity plunges him downwards, but because absence of wings, inability to fly, is a quality of his own.


The fourth method, which he employs with the most brilliant success, consists in declaring that everything that is the object of one of his qualities, is, since it is his object, his property, because he has a relation to it by virtue of one of his qualities, irrespective of the character of this relation. Thus, what has up to now been called seeing, hearing, feeling, etc., Sancho, this inoffensive acquisitor, calls: acquiring property. The shop at which I am looking is, as something seen by me, the object of my eye, and its reflection on my retina is the possession of my eye. And now the shop, besides its relation to the eye, becomes his possession and not merely the possession of his eye — his possession, which is as much upside-down as the image of the shop on his retina. When the shopkeeper lets down the shutters (or, as Szeliga puts it, the “blinds and curtains”), his property disappears and, like a bankrupt bourgeois, he retains only the painful memory of vanished brilliance. If “Stirner” passes by the royal kitchen he will undoubtedly acquire possession of the smell of the pheasants roasting there, but he will not even see the pheasants themselves. The only persisting possession that falls to his share is a more or less vociferous rumbling in his stomach. incidentally, what and how much he can see depends not only on the existing state of affairs in the world, a state of affairs by no means created by him, but also on his purse and on the position in life which falls to his lot owing to division of labour, which perhaps shuts away very much from him, although he may have very acquisitive eyes and ears.

If Saint Sancho had said simply and frankly that everything that is the object of his imagination, as an object imagined by him, i.e., as his idea of an object, is his idea, i.e., his possession (and the same thing holds with looking at something, etc.), one would only have marvelled at the childish näiveté of a man who believes that such a triviality is a discovery and a fortune. But the fact that he passes off this conjectural property as property in general was bound, of course, to have a magical attraction for the propertyless German ideologists.

Every other person in his sphere of action, too, is his object, and “as his object — his property”, his creature. Each ego says to the other (see p. 184):


“For me you are only what you are for me” (for example, my exploiteur), “namely my object and, because my object, my property.”

Hence also my creature, which at any moment as creator I can swallow up and take back into myself. Thus, each ego regards the other not as a property-owner, but as his property; not as “ego” (see [p. 184)l but as being-for-him, as object; not as belonging to himself, but as belonging to him, to another, as alienated from himself. “Let us take both for what they give themselves out to be” (p. 187), for property-owners, for something belonging to themselves, “and for what they take each other to be”, for property, for something belonging to the alien. They are property-owners and they are not property-owners (cf. p. 187). What is important for Saint Sancho, however, in all relations to others, is not to take the real relation, but how each can see himself in his imagination, in his reflection.

Since everything that is object for the “ego” is, through the medium of one or other of his properties, also his object and, therefore, his property — thus, for example, the beatings he receives as the object of his members, his feelings and his mind, are his object and, therefore, his property — he is able to proclaim himself the owner of every object that exists for him. By this means he can proclaim that the world surrounding him is his property, and that he is its owner — no matter how much it maltreats him and debases him to the level of a “man having only ideal wealth, a ragamuffin”. On the other hand, since every object for the “ego” is not only my object, but also my object, it is possible, with the same indifference towards the content, to declare that every object is not-my-own, alien, holy. one and the same object and one and the same relation can, therefore, with equal ease and with equal success be declared to be the holy and my property. Everything depends on whether stress is laid on the word “my” or on the word “object”. The methods of appropriation and canonisation are merely two different “refractions” of one “transformation”.


All these methods are merely positive expressions for negating what was posited as alien to the ego in the above equations; except that the negation is again, as above, taken in various determinations. Negation can, firstly, be determined in a purely formal way, so that it does not at all affect the content — as we saw above in the case of love of mankind and in all cases when its whole alteration is limited to introducing consciousness of indifference. Or the whole sphere of the object or predicate, the whole content, can be negated, as in the case of religion and the state. Or, thirdly, the copula alone, my hitherto alien relation to the predicate, can be negated and the stress laid on the word “my” so that my attitude to what is mine is that of property-owner — in the case of money, for instance, which becomes coin of my own coining. In this last case both the quality of Man and his relation can lose all meaning. Every one of the qualities of Man, by being taken back into myself, is extinguished in my individuality. It is no longer possible to say what the quality is. It remains only nominally what it was. As “mine”, as determinateness dissolved in me, it no longer has any determinateness whether in relation to others or in relation to me, it is only posited by me, an illusory quality. Thus, for example, my thought. just as with my qualities, so with the things which stand in a relation to me and which, as we have seen above, are basically also only my qualities — as, for example, in the case of the shop I am looking at. Insofar, [therefore,] as thought in me is totally [different] from all [other] qualities, just as, for example, a jeweller’s shop is totally different from a sausage shop, etc. — the [difference] emerges again as a difference of appearance, and reasserts itself externally too in my manifestation for others. Thereby this annihilated determinateness is fortunately restored and, insofar as it is at all possible to express it in words, must also be reproduced in the old expressions. (Incidentally, we shall be hearing a little more yet concerning Saint Sancho’s non-etymological illusions about language.)

The simple equation encountered above is here replaced by the antithesis. In its simplest form it is expressed, for example, as follows:

Man’s thought — my thought, egoistical thought,

where the word my means only that he can also be without thoughts, so that the word my abolishes thought. The antithesis already becomes more complicated in the following example:

Money as man’s means of exchange —

Money of my own coining as the egoist’s means of exchange

where the absurdity stands revealed.

The antithesis becomes still more complicated when Saint Max introduces a determination and wants to create the appearance of a far-reaching development. Here the single antithesis becomes a series of antitheses. First of all, for example, it is stated:

Right in general as the right of man

Right is what is right for me,


where, instead of right, he might equally well have put any other word, since admittedly it no longer has any meaning. Although this nonsense continues to crop up all the time, in order to proceed further he has to introduce another, well-known determination of right which can be used both in the purely personal and in the ideological sense — for example, might as the basis of right. Only now, where the right mentioned in the first thesis has acquired yet another determination, which is retained in the antithesis, can this antithesis produce Some content. Now we get:

Right — might of Man — Might — my right

which then again simply becomes reduced to:

Might as my right = My might.

These antitheses are no more than positive reversals of the above-mentioned negative equations, in which antitheses continually proved to be contained in the conclusion. They even surpass those equations in simple grandeur and great simple-mindedness.

Just as previously Saint Sancho could regard everything as alien, as existing independently of him, as holy, so now with equal ease he can regard everything as his own product, as only existing thanks to him, as his property. Indeed, since he transforms everything into his qualities, it only remains for him to behave towards them as he behaves towards his original qualities, in the capacity of the egoist in agreement with himself, a procedure we do not need to repeat here. In this way our Berlin school-master becomes the absolute master of the world — “this, of course, is also the case with every goose, every dog, every horse” (Wigand, p. 187).

The real logical experiment, on which all these forms of appropriation are based, is a mere form of speech, namely a paraphrase, expressing one relation as a manifestation, as a mode of existence of another. just as we have seen that every relation can be depicted as an example of the relation of property, in exactly the same way it can be depicted as the relation of love, might, exploitation, etc. Saint Sancho found this manner of paraphrase ready-made in philosophical speculation where it plays a very important part. See below on the “theory of exploitation”.


The various categories of appropriation become emotional categories as soon as the appearance of practice is introduced and appropriation is to be taken seriously. The emotional form of assertion of the ego against the alien, the holy, the world of “Man”, is bragging. Refusal to revere the holy is proclaimed (reverence, respect, etc. — these emotional categories serve to express his relation to the holy or to some third thing as the holy), and this permanent refusal is entitled a deed, a deed that appears all the more comic because all the time Sancho is battling only against the spectre of his own sanctifying conception. On the other hand, since the world, despite his refusal to revere the holy, treats him in the most ungodly fashion, he enjoys the inner satisfaction of declaring to the world that he has only to attain power over it in order to treat it without any reverence. This threat with its world-shattering reservatio mentalis completes the comedy. To the first form of bragging belongs Saint Sancho’s statement on page 16 that he “is not afraid of the anger of Poseidon, nor of the vengeful Eumenides”, “does not fear the curse” (p. 58), “desires no forgiveness” (p. 242), etc., and his final assurance that he commits “the most boundless desecration” of the holy. To the second form belongs his threat against the moon (p. 218):

“If only I could seize you, I would in truth seize you, and if only I could find a means to get to you, you would in no way terrify me.... I do not surrender to you, but am only hiding my time. Even if for the present I refrain from having designs on you, I still have a grudge against you” —

an apostrophe in which our saint sinks below the level of Pfeffel’s pug-dog in the ditch. [88] And likewise on page 425, where he “does not renounce power over life and death”, etc.

Finally, the practice of bragging [can] again become mere [practice] within the sphere of theory [by] our holy man [asserting] in the [most] pompous language that he has performed actions that he has never performed, and [at the same time] endeavouring by means of high-sounding phrases to smuggle in traditional trivialities [as] his original creations. Actually this is characteristic of the entire book, particularly his construction of history — which is foisted on us as an exposition of his thought but is only a bad piece of copying out — then the assurance that “the book” “appears to be written against man” (Wigand, p. 168), and a multitude of separate assertions, such as: “With one puff of the living ego I blow down whole peoples” (p. 219 of “the book”), “I recklessly attack” (p. 254), “the people is dead” (p. 285), further the assurance that he “delves into the bowels of right” (p. 275), and, finally, the challenging call, embellished with quotations and aphorisms, for “a flesh-and-blood opponent” (p. 280).


Bragging is already in itself sentimental. But, in addition, sentimentality occurs in “the book” as a particular category, which plays a definite part especially in positive appropriation that is no longer mere assertion against the alien. However simple the methods of appropriation so far examined, with a more detailed exposition the appearance has to be given that the ego thereby acquires also property “in the ordinary sense”, and this can only be achieved by a forcible puffing-up of this ego, by enveloping himself and others in a sentimental charm. Sentimentality cannot be avoided since, without previous examination, he claims the predicates of “Man” as his own — he asserts, for example, that he “loves” “everyone” “out of egoism” — and thus gives his qualities an exuberant turgidity. Thus, on page 351, he declares that the “smile of the infant” is “his property” and in the same passage the stage of civilisation at which old men are no longer killed off is depicted with the most touching expressions as the deed of these old men themselves, etc. His attitude to Maritornes also belongs wholly to this same sentimentality.

The unity of sentimentality and bragging is rebellion. Directed outwards, against others, it is bragging; directed inwards, as grumbling-in-oneself, it is sentimentality. It is the specific expression of the impotent dissatisfaction of the philistine. He waxes indignant at the thought of atheism, terrorism, communism, regicide, etc. The object against which Saint Sancho rebels is the holy; therefore rebellion, which indeed is also characterised as a crime, becomes, in the final analysis, a sin. It is therefore by no means necessary for rebellion to take the form of an action, as it is only the “sin” against “the holy”. Saint Sancho, therefore, is satisfied with “getting” “holiness” or the “spirit of alienation” “out of his head” and accomplishing his ideological appropriation. But just as present and future are altogether confused in his head, and just as he sometimes asserts that he has already appropriated everything and sometimes that it has still to be acquired, so in connection with rebellion also at times it occurs to him quite accidentally that he is still confronted by the actually existing alien even after he has finished with the halo of the alien. In this case, or rather in the case of this sudden idea, rebellion is transformed into an imaginary act, and the ego into we”. We shall examine this in more detail later (see “Rebellion”).

The true egoist, who from the description given so far has proved to be the greatest conservative, finally collects up the fragments of the “world of man”, twelve basketfuls; for “far be it that anything should be lost!” Since his whole activity is limited to trying a few hackneyed, casuistical tricks on the world of thoughts handed down to him by philosophical tradition, it is a matter of course that the real world does not exist for him at all and, therefore, too, remains in existence as before. The content of the New Testament will furnish us with detailed proof of this.


Thus, “we appear at the bar of majority and are declared of age” (p. 86).