II. THE CAPACITY OF TODAY'S JEWS
AND CHRISTIANS TO BECOME FREE
[Page 35] Under this title Bauer deals with the relationship between the Christian and the Jewish religions and the relationship of religion to "the capacity to become free."
His conclusion is this: "The Christian has only one stage to go in order to abolish religion altogether (that is, to become free).... The Jew, on the other hand, has to break not only with his own Jewish nature but also with the perfectionist trend of his religion, a trend to which he has remained essentially alien."
Bauer thus turns the question of Jewish emancipation into a purely religious one. The old theological argument as to who has the better prospect of salvation, Christian or Jew, is repeated in a new form: Which of the two is more capable of emancipation? The question is no longer: Is it Judaism or Christianity which makes one free? It is, on the contrary: Is it the negation of Judaism or of Christianity which makes one freer?
"If the Jews want to be free they should embrace Christianity, but a dissolved Christianity, dissolved religion in general, that is, enlightenment, the critical! spirit and its consequence, a free humanity."
And so there is still left a profession of faith for the Jews, though no longer that of Christianity but of a dissolved Christianity.
[Page 36] Bauer asks the Jews to break with the tradition of the Christian religion, a demand, which, as he himself admits, does not jibe with Jewish nature.
Since, toward the end of his study, Bauer views Judaism as a mere religious criticism of Christianity, it was to be expected that he would view Jewish emancipation as a philosophical and theological act.
Bauer takes the ideal, abstract nature of the Jew that is, his religion as his whole nature. He therefore correctly concludes: "The Jew contributes nothing to humanity when he disregards his limited Law, when he abolishes his Judaism."
The relation between Jews and Christians is therefore as follows: The Christian's only interest in Jewish emancipation is a general, humanitarian, theoretical one. Judaism is a fact offensive to the Christian's religious eye. As soon as his eye ceases to be religious, however, the fact ceases to offend him. And so Jewish emancipation in itself involves no work for the Christian.
But the Jew who wants to be emancipated has to do not only his own work but that of the Christian as well such as the higher criticism of the Gospels, The Life of Jesus, etc.
"They may look on; they will determine their own fate; but history will not be mocked."
Let us break the theological framing of the question. For us the question of Jewish capacity for emancipation becomes the question of which element in society must be overcome in order to abolish Judaism. For the Jews capacity for emancipation depends on the [Page 37] Jews' relation to the emancipation of our whole enslaved world.
Let us look at the real Jew of our time; not the Jew of the Sabbath, whom Bauer considers, but the Jew of everyday life.
What is the Jew's foundation in our world? Material necessity, private advantage.
What is the object of the Jew's worship in this world? Usury. What is his worldly god? Money.
Very well then; emancipation from usury and money, that is, from practical, real Judaism, would constitute the emancipation of our time.
The organization of society so as to abolish the preconditions of usury, and hence its possibility, would render the Jew impossible. His religious conviction would dissolve like a stale miasma under the pressure of the real life of the community. On the other hand, should the Jew recognize his materialistic nature as valueless and work for its abolition, he would be working for simple human emancipation and the shedding of his development to date, thus rejecting the highest practical expression of human self-alienation.
[Page 38] Thus we recognize in Judaism generally an anti-social element which has reached its present strength through a historical development in which the Jews eagerly collaborated. Jewish emancipation means, ultimately, the emancipation of humanity from Judaism.
The Jew has already emancipated himself in the Jewish way: "The Jew, who is, for example, merely tolerated in Vienna, determines by his money power the fate of the entire German Empire. The Jew, who is without rights in the smallest German state, decides the fate of Europe...
"While corporations and guilds are closed to the Jew or are not yet favorable to him, the daring of private industry mocks the obstinacy of medieval institutions." (The Jewish Question.)
This is no isolated fact. The Jew has emancipated himself in the Jewish fashion not only by acquiring money power but through money's having become (with him or without him) the world power and the Jewish spirit's having become the practical spirit of the Christian peoples. The Jews have emancipated themselves to the extent that Christians have become Jews.
[Page 39] "The pious and politically free inhabitant of New England," reports Colonel Hamilton, "is a kind of Laocoon who makes not the slightest effort to free himself from the snakes which are strangling him. Mammon is the God of these people: they worship him not only with their lips but with all the powers of their bodies and soul. The earth in their eyes is nothing but one great stock exchange and they are convinced that they have no other mission here below than to become richer than their neighbors. Usury has taken hold of all their thoughts, excitement derives from some change in its object. When they travel, they carry their office or store, so to speak, with them on their backs and speak of nothing but interest and profits and if they turn their eyes for an instant from their own business it is only to turn them to the business of others."
Indeed, the materialistic rule of the Jew over the Christian world has in the United States reached such everyday acceptability that the propagation of the Gospels, the teaching of Christianity itself, has become an article of commerce, and the bankrupt merchant deals in Gospels just as the enriched gospeler deals in business. "Tel que vous le voyez à la tête d'une congrégation respectable a commencé par être marchand; son commerce étant tombé, il s'est fait ministre; cet autre a débuté par le sacerdoce, mais des qu'il a eu quelque somme d'argent à la disposition, il a laissé la chaire pour le négoce. Aux yeux d'un grand nombre, le ministère religieux est une véritable carrière industrielle." ("The man who is now leading a respectable congregation may have started out as a merchant; his [Page 40] business having failed, he became a minister. Another started out as a minister; but as soon as he accumulated some money; he left the pulpit and went into business. In the eyes of many people, religious ministry is a genuine business career.") (Beaumont, op. cit.)
Bauer holds that it is a fiction to state that the Jew is deprived of political rights while in practice he wields enormous power and exercises wholesale a political influence whose retail use is denied him.
The contradiction between this actual political power and Jews' political rights is the universal contradiction between politics and the power of money. Theoretically, the first stands over the second; in practice it has become its slave.
Judaism has maintained itself alongside Christianity not only as a religious criticism of Christianity, and as an official questioner as to its religious origin, but also because the materialistic spirit of Judaism has kept itself alive in Christian society and achieved there its highest expression. The Jew who remains a special member of bourgeois society is only a special phenomenon of Judaism within that society.
Judaism has maintained itself not in spite of, but because of, history.
Bourgeois society continuously brings forth the Jew from its own entrails.
What was the essential foundation of the Jewish religion? Practical needs, egotism.
The monotheism of the Jew is therefore actually a [Page 41] polytheism of many needs, and it makes even renunciation the object of divine law. Practical need, egotism, is the underlying principle of bourgeois society and is recognizable as such immediately this society sets up its own political state. The god of practical needs and private interest is money.
Money is the zealous one God of Israel, beside which no other God may stand. Money degrades all the gods of mankind and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal and self-constituted value set upon all things. It has therefore robbed the whole world, of both nature and man, of its original value. Money is the essence of man's life and work, which have become alienated from him. This alien monster rules him and he worships it.
The God of the Jews has become secularized and is now a worldly God. The bill of exchange is the Jew's real God. His God is the illusory bill of exchange.
The view of nature gained under the dominion of money and private property is a genuine contempt, a materialistic degradation of nature, such as exist in Jewish religion, if only in fancy.
[Page 42] It is in this sense that Thomas Münzer complains that "all creatures have become property, the fish in the water, the birds in the air, the plants on the ground the creatures, too, must become free."
What is stated as theory in Jewish religion, namely, contempt for theory, art, history and man as an end in himself, is an actual and conscious point of view, held to be virtuous by the man of money. Even the relations between the sexes, between man and woman, become an object of commerce. The woman is auctioned off.
The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the true nationality of the merchant, of the man of money.
The law of the Jew, lacking all solid foundation, is only a religious caricature of morality and of law in general, but it provides the formal rites in which the world of property clothes its transactions.
Jewish Jesuitism that practical Jesuitism which in the Talmud, as Bauer shows, deals with the clever circumvention by the world of private interest of the laws that rule it is the chief art of that world.
The transactions of this world within its own laws [Page 43] are, indeed, necessarily a constant abrogation of real law.
The Jew obeys his laws not because they express his will and nature but because man is dominated by these laws and will be punished for transgressing them.
The religion of practical necessity can, by its very nature, achieve perfection only through practice, because practice is its truth.
Jewry cannot create a new world; it can only draw the world's new-made creations and relationships into the sphere of its industriousness, because practical need, whose motivation is private interest, acts passively and never initiates growth, only feeds on the growth of society.
Jewry reaches its peak with the perfection of bourgeois society; but bourgeois society reaches perfection only in the Christian world. Only under the rule of Christianity, which externalizes all human relationships national, natural, ethical and theoretical could bourgeois society isolate itself entirely from the life of the state, destroy all those bonds that link man as a species, replace them with egotism and the demands of private interest, and dissolve the human world into a world of atomized and mutually hostile individuals.
Christianity sprang from Judaism; it has now dissolved itself back into Judaism.
The Christian was from the start the theorizing Jew; the Jew therefore the practical Christian, and the practical Christian has once more become Jew.
Christianity overcame real Judaism in appearance only. It was too refined, too spiritual, to abolish raw [Page 44] material needs save by elevating them into the wild blue yonder.
Christianity is the sublime thought of Judaism, Judaism is the everyday practical application of Christianity. But this application could become universal only after Christianity had been theoretically perfected as the religion of self-alienation of man, from himself and from nature.
Only then could Jewry become universally dominant and turn alienated man and alienated nature into alienable, salable objects, subject to the serfdom of egotistical needs and to usury.
Sale is the practice of alienation. Just as man, so long as he is engrossed in religion, can objectify his nature only by turning it into an alien and fantastic being, so, when he is dominated by egotistical needs, can he busy himself in production only by putting his products in the power of an alien being and bestowing upon him his own alien products the value of money.
The Christian egotism of salvation is inevitably turned in practice into the materialistic egotism of the Jew, heavenly need into earthly, subjectivity into private interest. We explain the Jew's tenacity not by his religion but rather by the human foundation of his religion practical need, egotism.
Since the real nature of the Jew is amply fulfilled in bourgeois society, this society could hardly convince [Page 45] the Jew that his religious nature (which is only the ideal form of practical necessity) is not real. And so we find the real nature of today's Jew not only in the Pentateuch and the Talmud but in contemporary society as well not as a theoretical but as a highly empirical fact, and not only as a limitation upon the Jew but as a Jewish limitation upon society.
As soon as society can abolish the empirical nature of the Jew, that is, usury and its preconditions, being a Jew will become impossible because his conviction will no longer have any object, since the subjective basis of Judaism (practical necessity) will have become humanized and the conflict between man as a sensual individual and as a species will have been abolished.
The social emancipation of Jewry is the emancipation of society from Jewry.