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The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Chapter Three: Saint Max

4. Peculiarity

“To create for oneself one’s own world, that means building a heaven for oneself” (p. 89 of “the book”).
[Leopold Ranke’s “Einleitung” in Historisch-politische Zeitschrift. I. Band, Hamburg, 1832 — the place and date of publication are cited incorrectly in the text]


We have already “penetrated” into the innermost sanctuary of this heaven; now we shall try to learn “more things” about it. In the New Testament, however, we shall rediscover the same hypocrisy that permeated the Old Testament. just as in the latter the historical data were only names for a few simple categories, so here in the New Testament, too, all worldly relations are only disguises, different designations, for the meagre content which we have assembled in the “Phenomenology” and “Logic”. Under the appearance of speaking about the actual world, Saint Sancho always speaks only about these meagre categories.

“You do not want the freedom to have all these fine things.... You want to have them in actuality ... to possess them as your property.... You ought to be not only a free person, but also an owner” (p. 205).

One of the oldest formulas arrived at by the early social movement — the opposition between socialism in its most miserable form and liberalism — is here exalted into an utterance of the “egoist in agreement with himself”. How old this opposition is even for Berlin, our holy man could have seen if only from the fact that it is mentioned with terror already in Ranke’s Historisch-politische Zeitschrift, Berlin, 1831 .

“How I utilise it” (freedom) “depends on my peculiarity” (p. 205).

The great dialectician can also reverse this and say: “How I utilise my peculiarity depends on my freedom.” — Then he continues:

“Free — from what?”

Here, therefore, by means of a dash freedom is already transformed into freedom from something and, per appos., from “everything”. This time, however, the apposition is given in the form of a proposition that apparently provides a closer definition. Having thus achieved this great result, Sancho becomes sentimental.

“Oh, how much can be shaken off!"
First, the “yoke of serfdom”, then a whole series of other yokes, leading imperceptibly to the result that “the most perfect self-denial is nothing but freedom, freedom ... from one’s own ego, and the urge towards freedom as something absolute ... has deprived us of our peculiarity.”

By means of an extremely artless series of yokes, liberation from serfdom, which was the assertion of the individuality of the serfs and at the same time the abolition of a definite empirical barrier, is here equated with the much earlier Christian-idealist freedom of the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians, thereby transforming freedom in general into self-denial. At this point we have already finished with freedom, since it is now indisputably the “holy”. Saint Max transforms a definite historical act of self-liberation into the abstract category of “freedom”, and this category is then defined more closely by means of a totally different historical phenomenon which can likewise be included under the general conception of “freedom”. This is the whole trick by which the throwing off of the yoke of serfdom is transformed into self-denial.

To make his theory of freedom as clear as noonday to the German burgher, Sancho now begins to declaim in the burgher’s own language, particularly that of the Berlin burgher:

“But the freer I become, the larger does compulsion loom before my eyes, and the more powerless do I feel. The unfree son of the wilds is not yet aware of all the limitations that trouble an ‘educated’ man, he imagines himself freer than the latter. In proportion as I achieve freedom for myself I create new limits and new tasks for myself; no sooner have I invented railways than I again feel myself weak because I still cannot sail through the air like a bird, and I have no sooner solved a problem that was perplexing my mind than countless others await me,” etc. (pp. 205, 206).

O “clumsy” story-writer for townsman and villager!


Not the “unfree sons of the wilds” but “educated people” “imagine” the savage freer than the educated man. That the son of the wilds” (whom F. Halm brought on the stage [Friedrich Halm, Der Sohn der Wildniss]) is ignorant of the limitations of the educated man because he cannot experience them is just as clear as that the “educated” citizen of Berlin, who only knows the “son of the wilds” from the theatre, knows nothing of the limitations of the savage. The simple fact is this: the limitations of the savage are not those of the civilised man. The comparison that our saint draws between them is the fantastic comparison of an “educated” Berliner whose education consists of knowing nothing about either of them. That he knows nothing of the limitations of the savage is explicable, although after the large number of new travel books, it is certainly easy enough to know something about them; but that he is also ignorant of the limitations of the educated man, is proved by his example of railways and flying. The inactive petty bourgeois, for whom railways dropped from the sky and who for that very reason I imagines that he invented them himself, begins to indulge in fantasies about aerial flight after having once travelled by railway. Actually, the balloon came first and then the railways. Saint Sancho had to reverse this, for otherwise everyone would have seen that when the balloon was invented the demand for railways was still a long way off, whereas the opposite is easy to imagine. In general, Sancho turns empirical relations upside down. When hackney carriages and carts no longer sufficed for the growing requirements of communication, when, inter alia, the centralisation of production due to large-scale industry necessitated new methods to accelerate and expand the transport of its mass of products, the locomotive was invented and thus the use of railways for transport on a large scale. The inventor and shareholders were interested in their profits, and commerce in general in reducing production costs; the possibility, indeed the absolute necessity, of the invention lay in the empirical conditions. The application of the new invention in the various countries depended on the various empirical conditions; in America, for example, on the need to unite the individual states of that vast area and to link the semi-civilised districts of the interior with the sea and the markets for their products. (Compare, inter alia, M. Chevalier, Lettres sur 1'Amérique du Nord.) In other countries, for example in Germany, where every new invention makes people regret that it does not complete the sum total of inventions — in such countries after stubbornly resisting these detestable railways which cannot supply them with wings, people are nevertheless compelled by competition to accept them in the end and to give up hackney carriages and carts along with the time-honoured, respectable spinning-wheel. The absence of other profitable investment of capital made railway construction the predominant branch of industry in Germany. The development of her railway construction and reverses on the world market went hand in hand. But nowhere are railways built for the sake of the category “freedom from”; Saint Max could have realised this even from the fact that no one builds railways in order to free himself from his money. The real kernel of the burgher’s ideological contempt for railways due to his longing to fly like a bird is to be found in his preference for hackney carriages, vans and country roads. Sancho yearns for his “own world” which, as we saw above, is heaven. Therefore he wants to replace the locomotive by Elijah’s fiery chariot and be carried up to heaven.


After the actual tearing down of restrictions — which is at the same time an extremely positive development of the productive forces, real energy and satisfaction of urgent requirements, and an expansion of the power of individuals — after the actual tearing down of restrictions has been transformed in the eyes of this passive and ignorant spectator into simple freedom from a restriction, which he can again logically make into a postulate of freedom from restriction as such — at the conclusion of the whole argument, we arrive at what was already presupposed at the beginning:

“To be free from something means only to be relieved of something, to be rid of something” (p. 206).

He at once gives an extremely unfortunate example: “He is free of headache is equivalent to saying: he is rid of it”; as though this “riddance” of headache were not equivalent to a wholly positive ability to dispose of my head, equivalent to ownership of my head, while as long as I had a headache I was the property of my sick head.

“In ‘riddance’ — in riddance from sin, from God, from morality, etc. — we consummate the freedom that Christianity recommends” (p. 206).

Hence our “consummate Christian”, too, finds his peculiarity only in “riddance” from “thought”, from “determination”, from “vocation”, from “law”, from “constitution”, etc., and invites his brothers in Christ to “feel happy only in dissolution”, i.e., in accomplishing “riddance” and the “consummate”, “Christian freedom”.

He continues:

“Ought we, perhaps, to renounce freedom because it turns out to he a Christian ideal? No, nothing should be lost” (voilà notre conservateur tout trouvé [there’s the conservative all complete]), “freedom too should not be lost, it should however become our own, and it cannot become our own in the form of freedom” (p. 207).


Here “our egoist” (toujours et partout [always and everywhere]) “in agreement with himself” forgets that already in the Old Testament, thanks to the Christian ideal of freedom, i.e., thanks to the illusion of freedom, we became “owners” of the “world of things”; he forgets, likewise, that accordingly we had only to get rid of the “world of thoughts” to become “owners” of that world as well, that in this context peculiarly” was for him a consequence of freedom, of riddance.

Having interpreted freedom as the state of being free from something, and this, in turn, as “riddance”, and this as the Christian ideal of freedom, and hence as the freedom of “Man”, our saint can, with the material thus prepared, carry through a practical course of his logic. The first, simplest antithesis reads:

Freedom of Man — My freedom,

where in the antithesis freedom ceases to exist “in the form of freedom”. Or:

Riddance in the interests of Man —

Riddance in my interests.

Both these antitheses, with a numerous retinue of declamations, continually appear throughout the chapter on peculiarity, but with their help alone our world-conquering Sancho would attain very little, he would not even attain the island of Barataria. Earlier, when observing the behaviour of people from his “own world”, from his “heaven”, he set aside two factors of actual liberation in making his abstraction of freedom. The first factor was that individuals in their self-liberation satisfy a definite need actually experienced by them. As the result of setting aside this factor, “Man” has been substituted for actual individuals, and striving for a fantastic ideal — for freedom as such, for the “freedom of Man” — has been substituted for the satisfaction of actual needs.

The second factor was that an ability that has hitherto existed merely as a potentiality in the individuals who are freeing themselves begins to function as a real power, or that an already existing power becomes greater by removal of some restriction. The removal of the restriction, which is merely a consequence of the new creation of power, can of course be considered the main thing. But this illusion arises only if one takes politics as the basis of empirical history, or if, like Hegel, one wants everywhere to demonstrate the negation of negation, or finally if, after the new power has been created, one reflects, as an ignorant citizen of Berlin, on this new creation.

By setting aside this second factor for his own use, Saint Sancho acquires a determinateness that he can counterpose to the remaining, abstract caput mortuum of “freedom”. Thus he arrives at the following new antitheses:


Freedom, the empty removal of alien power

Peculiarity, the actual possession of one’s own power.

Or, even:

Freedom, repulsion of alien power

Peculiarity, possession of one’s own power.

To show the extent to which Saint Sancho has juggled his own “power”, which he here counterposes to freedom, out of this same freedom and into himself, we do not intend to refer him to the materialists or communists, but merely to the Dictionnaire de 1'académie, where he will find that the word liberté is most frequently used in the sense of puissance. If, however, Saint Sancho should maintain that he does not combat “liberté “, but “freedom”, then he ought to consult Hegel on negative and positive freedom. As a German petty bourgeois, he might enjoy the concluding remark in this chapter.

The antithesis can also be expressed as follows:

Freedom, idealistic striving for riddance and the struggle against other-being

Peculiarity, actual riddance and pleasure in one’s own existence.

Having thus, by means of a cheap abstraction, distinguished peculiarity from freedom, Sancho pretends that he is only now beginning to analyse this difference and exclaims:

“What a difference there is between freedom and peculiarity!” (p. 207).

We shall see that, apart from the general antitheses, he has achieved nothing, and that peculiarity “in the ordinary sense” continues most amusingly to creep in side by side with this definition of peculiarity.

“In spite of the state of slavery, one can be inwardly free, although, again, only from various things, but not from everything, but the slave cannot be free from the whip, from the despotic mood, etc., of his master.”

“On the other hand, peculiarity is my whole essence and existence, it is I myself. I am free from that which I have got rid of; I am the owner of that which I have in my power or which I have mastered. I am my own at all times and under all circumstances, if only I know how to possess myself and do not abandon myself to others. I cannot truly want the state of being free, because I cannot ... achieve it; I can only wish for it and strive towards it, for it remains an ideal, a spectre. At every moment the fetters of actuality cut very deeply into my flesh. But I remain my own. Belonging as a feudal serf to some master, I think only of myself and of my own advantage; his blows, it is true, strike me: I am not free from them; but I endure them only for my own good, for example, in order to deceive him by an appearance of patience and to lull him into security or perhaps in order not to incur something worse by my defiance. But since I constantly have in mind myself and my own advantage” (while the blows retain possession of him and his back) “I seize on the first convenient opportunity” (i.e., he “wishes”, he “strives” towards the first convenient opportunity, which, however, “remains an ideal, a spectre”) “to crush the slave-owner. That I then become free from him and his whip is only a consequence of my previous egoism. It will, perhaps, he said here that even in the state of slavery I was free, namely ‘in myself’ or ‘inwardly'; however, ‘free in oneself’ is not ‘actually free’, and ‘inwardly’ is not ‘outwardly’. On the other hand, was myself, my own wholly and completely, both inwardly and outwardly. Under the domination of a cruel master, my body is not ‘free’ from the pain of torture and the lashes of the whip; but it is my bones that crack under torture, my muscles that twitch under the blows, and it is I who groan because my body suffers. The fact that I sigh and tremble proves that I still belong to myself, that I am my own” (pp. 207, 208).


Our Sancho, who here again acts the story-teller for the petty bourgeois and villagers, proves here that, despite the numerous drubbings he has already received in Cervantes, he has always remained “owner” of himself and that these blows belonged rather to his “peculiarity”. He is “his own” “at all times and under all circumstances” provided he knows how to possess himself. Here, therefore, peculiarity is hypothetical and depends on his knowledge, by which term he understands a slavish casuistry. This knowledge later on becomes thinking as well, when he begins “to think” about himself and his “advantage” — this thinking and this imagined “advantage” being his imagined “property”. It is further interpreted in the sense that he endures the blows “for his own good”, where peculiarity once again consists in the idea of “good”, and where he “endures” the bad in order not to become the “owner” of “something worse”. Subsequently, knowledge is revealed also as the “owner” of the reservation about “the first convenient opportunity”, hence of a mere reservatio mentalis, and, finally, as the “crushing” of the “slave-owner”, in the anticipation of the idea, in which case he is the “owner” of this anticipation, whereas at present the slave-owner actually tramples him underfoot. While, therefore, he identifies himself here with his consciousness, which endeavours to calm itself by means of all kinds of maxims of worldly wisdom, in the end he identifies himself with his body, so that he is wholly “his own”, outwardly as well as inwardly, so long as he still retains a spark of life, even if it is merely unconscious life. Such phenomena as the cracking of his “bones”, the twitching of his muscles, etc., are phenomena which, when translated from the language of unique natural science into the language of pathology, can be produced with the aid of galvanism on his corpse, when freshly cut down from the gallows on which he hanged himself, as we saw above, and which can be produced even in a dead frog — these phenomena serve him here as proof that he is “wholly and completely” “both inwardly and outwardly” still “his own”, that he still has control over himself. The very fact which demonstrates the power and peculiarity of the slave-owner, namely that it is precisely he who is flogged and not someone else, that it is precisely his bones that “crack”, his muscles that twitch, without his being able to alter it — this very fact here serves our saint as proof of his own peculiarity and power. Thus, when he lies trussed up in the spanso bocko” [89] torture of Surinam, unable to move hand or foot, or any other of his limbs, and has to put up with everything done to him, in such circumstances his power and peculiarity do not consist in his being able to make use of his limbs, but in the fact that they are his limbs. Here once again he has saved his peculiarity by always considering himself as otherwise-determined — sometimes as mere consciousness, sometimes as an unconscious body (see the “Phenomenology”).


At any rate, Saint Sancho “endures” his portion of blows with more dignity than actual slaves do. However often, in the interests of the slave-owners, missionaries may tell the slaves that they have to “endure” the blows “for their own good”, the slaves are not taken in by such twaddle. They do not coldly and timidly reflect that they would otherwise “incur something worse”, nor do they imagine that they “deceive the slave-owner by an appearance of patience”. On the contrary, they scoff at their torturers, they jeer at the latter’s impotence even to force them to humble themselves, and they in suppress every “groan” and every sigh, as long as the physical pain permits them to do so. (See Charles Comte, Traité de legislation.) They are therefore, neither “inwardly” nor “outwardly” their own “owners”, but only the “owners” of their defiance, which could equally well be expressed by saying that they are neither “inwardly” nor “outwardly” “free”, but are free only in one respect, namely that they are “inwardly” free from self-humiliation as they also show “outwardly”. Insofar as “Stirner” suffers blows, he is the owner of the blows and thus free from being not beaten; and this freedom, this riddance, belongs to his peculiarity.

From the fact that Saint Sancho assumes that the reservation about running away at “the first convenient opportunity” is a special characteristic of peculiarity and sees in the “liberation” thus obtained “merely the consequence of his previous egoism” (of his own egoism, i.e., egoism in agreement with itself), it follows that he imagines that the insurgent Negroes of Haiti[90] and the fugitive Negroes of all the colonies wanted to free not themselves, but “man”. The slave who takes the decision to free himself must already be superior to the idea that slavery is his “peculiarity”. He must be “free” from this “peculiarity”. The peculiarity” of an individual, however, can consist in his “abandoning” himself. For “one” to assert the opposite means to apply an “alien scale” to this individual.


In conclusion, Saint Sancho takes revenge for the blows he has received by the following address to the “owner” of his “peculiarity”, the slave-owner:

“My leg is not ‘free’ from the blows of the master, but it is my leg, and it cannot be taken away. Let him tear it firm me and see whether he has possession of my leg! He will find in his hands nothing but the corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg as a dead dog is a dog” (p. 208).

But let him — Sancho, who imagines here that the slave-owner wants to have his living leg, probably for his own use — let him “see” what he still retains of his leg which “cannot be taken away”. He retains nothing but the loss of his leg and has become the one-legged owner of his torn-out leg. If he has to labour at a treadmill eight hours every day, then it is he who in the course of time becomes an idiot, and idiocy will then be his “peculiarity”. Let the judge who sentences him to this “see” whether he has still Sancho’s brain “in his hands”. But that will be of little help to poor Sancho.

“The first property, the first splendour has been won!”

After our saint, by means of these examples, which are worthy of an ascetic, has revealed the difference between freedom and peculiarity, at a considerable belletristical production cost, he quite unexpectedly declares on page 209 that

“between peculiarity and freedom there lies a still deeper gulf than the simple verbal difference”.

This “deeper gulf” consists in the fact that the above definition of freedom is repeated with “manifold transformations” and “refractions” and numerous “episodical insertions”. From the definition of “freedom” as “riddance” the questions arise: from what should people be free (p. 209), etc., disputes concerning this “from what” (ibid.) (here, too, as a German petty bourgeois, he sees in the struggle of actual interests only wrangling about the definition of this “from what”, in which connection, of course, it appears very strange to him that the “citizen” does not wish to be free “from citizenship”, page 210). Then the proposition is repeated that the removal of a barrier is the establishment of a new barrier, in the form that “the striving for a definite freedom always includes the aim of a new rule”, page 210 (in which connection we learn that in the revolution the bourgeois was not striving for his own rule but for the “rule of law” — see above concerning liberalism); then follows the result that one does not wish to be rid of what “is wholly to one’s liking, e.g., the irresistible glance of the beloved” (p. 211). Further on, it turns out that freedom is a “phantom” (p. 211), a “dream” (p. 212); then we learn by the way that the “voice of nature” can sometimes also become “peculiarity” (p. 213); on the other hand the “voice of God and conscience” is to be considered “devil’s work”, and the author boasts: “Such godless people” (who consider it the work of the devil) “do exist; how will you deal with them?” (pp. 213, 214). But it is not nature that should determine me, but I who should determine my nature, says the egoist in agreement with himself. And my conscience is also a “voice of nature”.


In this connection it also turns out that the animal “takes very correct steps” (p. 213). We learn further that “freedom is silent about what should happen after I have become free” (p. 215). (See “Solomon’s Song of Songs”) The exposition of the abovementioned “deeper gulf” is closed by Saint Sancho repeating the scene with the blows and this time expressing himself somewhat more clearly about peculiarity:

“Even when unfree, even bound by a thousand fetters, I nevertheless exist, and I exist not only just in the future, and in the hope, like freedom, but even as the most abject of slaves I am present” (p. 215).

Here, therefore, he counterposes himself and “freedom” as two persons, and peculiarity becomes mere existence, being present, and indeed the “most abject” presence. Peculiarity here is the simple registering of personal identity. Stirner, who in an earlier passage has already constituted himself the “secret police state”, here sets himself up as the passport department. “By no means” should anything be lost” from “the world of human beings!” (See “Solomon’s Song of Songs”.)

According to page 218, one can also “give up” one’s peculiarity through “submissiveness”, “submission”, although, according to the preceding, peculiarity cannot cease so long as one is present at all, even in the most “abject” or “submissive” form. And is not the most abject” slave the “most submissive"? According to one of the earlier descriptions of peculiarity, one can only “give up” one’s peculiarity by giving up one’s life.


On page 218, peculiarity as one aspect of freedom, as power, is once again set against freedom as riddance; and among the means by which Sancho pretends to protect his peculiarity, are mentioned “hypocrisy”, “deception” (means which my peculiarity employs. because it had to “submit” to the conditions of the world), etc.,

“for the means that I employ are determined by what I am”.

We have already seen that among these means the absence of any means plays a major role, as was evident also from his proceedings against the moon (see above “Logic”). Then, for a change, freedom is regarded as “self-liberation”, “i.e., that I can only have as much freedom as I procure by my peculiarity”, where the definition of freedom as self-determination, which occurs among all, and particularly German, ideologists, makes its appearance as peculiarity. This is then explained to us on the example of “sheen”; to whom it is of no use” at all “if they are given freedom of speech” (p. 220). How trivial is his conception here of peculiarity as self-liberation is evident if only from his repetition of the most hackneyed phrases about granted freedom, setting free, self-liberation, etc. (pp. 220, 221). The antithesis between freedom as riddance and peculiarity as the negation of this riddance is now also portrayed poetically:

“Freedom arouses your wrath against everything that you are not” (it is, therefore, wrathful peculiarity, or have choleric natures, e.g., Guizot, in Saint Sancho’s opinion, no “peculiarity"? And do I not enjoy myself in wrath against others,,), “egoism calls on you to rejoice over yourself, to delight in yourself “ (hence egoism is freedom which rejoices; incidentally, we have already become acquainted with the joy and self-enjoyment of the egoist in agreement with himself). “Freedom is and remains a longing” (as though longing were not also a peculiarity, the self-enjoyment of individuals of a particular nature, especially of Christian-German individuals — and should this longing “be lost"?). “Peculiarity is a reality which of itself abolishes all the non-freedom which is an impediment and blocks your own path” (in which case, then, until non-freedom is abolished my peculiarity is a blocked peculiarity. It is characteristic again of the German petty bourgeois that for him all barriers and obstacles disappear “of themselves”, since he never lifts a finger to achieve it, and by habit he turns those barriers which do not disappear “of themselves” into his peculiarity. It may be remarked in passing that peculiarity appears here as an acting person, although it is later demoted to a mere description of its owner) (p. 215).


The same antithesis appears again in the following form:

“As being your own, you are in actuality rid of everything, and what remains with you, you have yourself accepted, it is your choice and option. One who is his own is born free, one who is free on the other hand is only one who desires freedom.”

Nevertheless Saint Sancho “admits” on page 252

“that each is born as a human being; hence in this respect the newborn children are equal”.

What you as being your own have not “rid yourself of” is “your choice and option”, as in the case of the beatings of the slave mentioned above. — Banal paraphrase! — Here, therefore, peculiarity is reduced to the fantastic idea that Saint Sancho has voluntarily accepted and retained everything from which he has not “rid” himself, e.g., hunger when he has no money. Apart from the many things, e.g., dialect, scrofula, haemorrhoids, poverty, one-leggedness, forced philosophising imposed on him by division of labour, etc., etc. — apart from the fact that it in no way depends on him whether he “accepts” these things or not; all the same, even if for an instant we accept his premises, he has only the choice between definite things which lie within his province and which are in no way posited by his peculiarity. As an Irish peasant, for example, he can only choose to eat potatoes or starve, and he is not always free to make even this choice. In the sentence quoted above one should note also the beautiful apposition, by which, just as in jurisprudence, “acceptance” is directly identified with “choice” and “option”. Incidentally, it is impossible to say what Saint Sancho means by one who is “born free”, whether in the context or outside it.

And is not a feeling instilled into him, his feeling accepted by him? And do we not learn on pages 84, 85, that “instilled” feelings are not “ones own” feelings? For the rest, it turns out here, as we have already seen in connection with Klopstock (who is put forward here as an example), that “one’s own” behaviour by no means coincides with individual behaviour, although for Klopstock Christianity seems to have been “quite right” and in no way to have “obstructively blocked his path”.

“One who is his own does not need to free himself, because from the outset he rejects everything except himself.... Although he remains in the confines of childish reverence, he already works to ‘free’ himself from this enthralment.”


Since one who is his own does not need to free himself, already as a child he works to free himself, and all this because, as we have seen, he is one who is “born free”. “Although he remains in the confines of childish reverence” he already reflects without any restraint, namely in his own fashion, about this his own enthralment. But this should not surprise us: we already saw at the beginning of the Old Testament what a prodigy the egoist in agreement with himself was.

Peculiarity works in the little egoist and secures him the desired ‘freedom’.”

It is not “Stirner” who lives, it is “peculiarity” that lives, “works” and “secures” in him. Here we learn that peculiarity is not a description of one who is his own, but that one who is his own is merely a paraphrase of peculiarity.

As we have seen, “riddance” at its climax was riddance from one’s own self, self-denial. We saw also that on the other hand he put forward “peculiarity” as the assertion of self, as self-interestedness. But we have seen likewise that this self-interestedness itself was again self-denial.

For some time past we have been painfully aware that “the holy” was missing. But we rediscover it suddenly, on page 224, at the end of the section on peculiarity, where it stands quite bashfully and proves its identity by means of the following new turn of expression:

“My relation to something which I selfishly carry on” (or do not carry on at all) “is different from my relation to something which I unselfishly serve” (or which I carry on).

But Saint Max is not satisfied with this remarkable piece of tautology, which he “accepted” from “choice and option”; there suddenly reappears the long forgotten “one”, in the shape of the night watchman who establishes the identity of the holy, and declares that he

“could put forward the following distinguishing mark: against the former I can sin or commit a sin” (a remarkable tautology!), “the other I can only lose by my folly, push away from myself, deprive myself of it, i.e., do something stupid” (it follows that he can lose himself by his folly, can deprive himself of himself, can be deprived of himself — can be deprived of life). “Both these points of view are applicable to freedom of trade, because it” is partly taken for the holy and partly not so taken, or, as Sancho himself expresses it more circumstantially, “because it is partly regarded as a freedom which can be granted or withdrawn depending on circumstances, and partly as a freedom which should be regarded as holy under all circumstances” (pp. 224, 225).

Here again Sancho reveals his “peculiar” “penetration” into the question of freedom of trade and protective tariffs. He is herewith given the “vocation” of pointing out just one single case where freedom of trade was regarded as “holy” 1) because it is a “freedom”, and 2) “under all circumstances”. The holy comes in useful for all purposes.


After peculiarity, by means of logical antitheses and the phenomenological “being-also-otherwise-determined”, has been constructed, as we have seen, from a “freedom” previously trimmed up for the purpose — Saint Sancho meanwhile having “dismissed” everything that happened to suit him (e.g., beatings) into peculiarity, and whatever did not suit him into freedom — we learn finally that all this was still not true peculiarity.

“Peculiarity,” it is stated on page 225, “is not at all an idea, such as freedom, etc., it is only a description — of the owner.”

We shall see that this “description of the owner” consists in negating freedom in the three refractions which Saint Sancho ascribes to it — liberalism, communism and humanism — comprehending it in its truth and then calling this process of thought, which is extremely simple according to advanced logic, the description of a real ego.

The entire chapter about peculiarity boils down to the most trivial self-embellishments by means of which the German petty bourgeois consoles himself for his own impotence. Exactly like Sancho, he thinks that in the struggle of bourgeois interests against the remnants of feudalism and absolute monarchy in other countries everything turns merely on a question of principles, on the question of from what “Man” should free himself. (See also above on political liberalism.) Therefore in freedom of trade he sees only a freedom and, exactly like Sancho, expatiates with a great air of importance about whether “Man” ought to enjoy freedom of trade “under all circumstances’ or not. And when, as is inevitable in such conditions, his aspirations for freedom suffer a miserable collapse, then, again like Sancho, he consoles himself that “Man”, or he himself, cannot “become free from everything”, that freedom is a highly indefinite concept, and that even Metternich and Charles X were able to appeal to “true freedom” (p. 210 of “the book”; and it need only be remarked here that it is precisely the reactionaries, especially the Historical School and the Romanticists[91] who — again just like Sancho — reduce true freedom to peculiarity, for instance, to the peculiarity of the Tyrolean peasants, and in general, to the peculiar development of individuals, and also of localities, provinces and estates). — The petty bourgeois also consoles himself that as a German, even if he is not free, he finds compensation for all sufferings in his own indisputable peculiarity. Again like Sancho, he does not see in freedom a power that he is able to obtain and therefore declares his own impotence to be power.


What the ordinary German petty bourgeois whispers to himself as a consolation, in the quiet depths of his mind, the Berliner trumpets out loudly as an ingenious turn of thought. He is proud of his trashy peculiarity and his peculiar trashiness.