Anarchist World, anarchy, existentialism, German Authors, Max Stirner, Uncategorized

The Peace of the Family

But now sometimes a wish glimmers in a less passionate and wilful heart than Juliet’s. The pliable girl brings herself as a sacrifice to the peace of the family. One might say that here too selfishness prevailed, for the decision came from the feeling that the pliable girl felt herself more satisfied by the unity of the family than by the fulfilment of her wish. That might be; but what if there remained a sure sign that egoism had been sacrificed to piety? What if, even after the wish that had been directed against the peace of the family was sacrificed, it remained at least as a recollection of a “sacrifice” brought to a sacred tie? What if the pliable girl were conscious of having left her self-will unsatisfied and humbly subjected herself to a higher power? Subjected and sacrificed, because the superstition of piety exercised its dominion over her!

There egoism won, here piety wins and the egoistic heart bleeds; there egoism was strong, here it was—weak. But the weak, as we have long known, are the—unselfish. For them, for these its weak members, the family cares, because they belong to the family, do not belong to themselves and care for themselves. This weakness Hegel, e. g., praises when he wants to have match-making left to the choice of the parents.

As a sacred communion to which, among the rest, the individual owes obedience, the family has the judicial function too vested in it; such a “family court” is described e. g. in the “Cabanis” of Wilibald Alexis. There the father, in the name of the “family council,” puts the intractable son among the soldiers and thrusts him out of the family, in order to cleanse the smirched family again by means of this act of punishment.—The most consistent development of family responsibility is contained in Chinese law, according to which the whole family has to expiate the individual’s fault.

To-day, however, the arm of family power seldom reaches far enough to take seriously in hand the punishment of apostates (in most cases the State protects even against disinheritance). The criminal against the family (family-criminal) flees into the domain of the State and is free, as the State-criminal who gets away to America is no longer reached by the punishments of his State. He who has shamed his family, the graceless son, is protected against the family’s punishment because the State, this protecting lord, takes away from family punishment its “sacredness” and profanes it, decreeing that it is only—”revenge”: it restrains punishment, this sacred family right, because before its, the State’s, “sacredness” the subordinate sacredness of the family always pales and loses its sanctity as soon as it comes in conflict with this higher sacredness. Without the conflict, the State lets pass the lesser sacredness of the family; but in the opposite case it even commands crime against the family, charging, e. g., the son to refuse obedience to his parents as soon as they want to beguile him to a crime against the State.

Well, the egoist has broken the ties of the family and found in the State a lord to shelter him against the grievously affronted spirit of the family. But where has he run now? Straight into a new society, in which his egoism is awaited by the same snares and nets that it has just escaped. For the State is likewise a society, not a union; it is the broadened family (“Father of the Country—Mother of the Country—children of the country”).

What is called a State is a tissue and plexus of dependence and adherence; it is a belonging together, a holding together, in which those who are placed together fit themselves to each other, or, in short, mutually depend on each other: it is the order of this dependence. Suppose the king, whose authority lends authority to all down to the beadle, should vanish: still all in whom the will for order was awake would keep order erect against the disorders of bestiality. If disorder were victorious, the State would be at an end.

But is this thought of love, to fit ourselves to each other, to adhere to each other and depend on each other, really capable of winning us? According to this the State would be love realized, the being for each other and living for each other of all. Is not self-will being lost while we attend to the will for order? Will people not be satisfied when order is cared for by authority, i. e. when authority sees to it that no one “gets in the way of” another; when, then, the herd is judiciously distributed or ordered? Why, then everything is in “the best order,” and it is this best order that is called—State!

Our societies and States are without our making them, are united without our uniting, are predestined and established, or have an independent standing[161] of their own, are the indissolubly established against us egoists. The fight of the world to-day is, as it is said, directed against the “established.” Yet people are wont to misunderstand this as if it were only that what is now established was to be exchanged for another, a better, established system. But war might rather be declared against establishment itself, i. e. the State, not a particular State, not any such thing as the mere condition of the State at the time; it is not another State (such as a “people’s State”) that men aim at, but their union, uniting, this ever-fluid uniting of everything standing.—A State exists even without my co-operation: I am born in it, brought up in it, under obligations to it, and must “do it homage.”[162] It takes me up into its “favor,”[163] and I live by its “grace.” Thus the independent establishment of the State founds my lack of independence; its condition as a “natural growth,” its organism, demands that my nature do not grow freely, but be cut to fit it. That it may be able to unfold in natural growth, it applies to me the shears of “civilization”; it gives me an education and culture adapted to it, not to me, and teaches me e. g. to respect the laws, to refrain from injury to State property (i. e. private property), to reverence divine and earthly highness, etc.; in short, it teaches me to be—unpunishable, “sacrificing” my ownness to “sacredness” (everything possible is sacred, e. g. property, others’ life, etc.). In this consists the sort of civilization and culture that the State is able to give me: it brings me up to be a “serviceable instrument,” a “serviceable member of society.”

This every State must do, the people’s State as well as the absolute or constitutional one. It must do so as long as we rest in the error that it is an I, as which it then applies to itself the name of a “moral, mystical, or political person.” I, who really am I, must pull off this lion-skin of the I from the stalking thistle-eater. What manifold robbery have I not put up with in the history of the world! There I let sun, moon, and stars, cats and crocodiles, receive the honor of ranking as I; there Jehovah, Allah, and Our Father came and were invested with the I; there families, tribes, peoples, and at last actually mankind, came and were honored as I’s; there the Church, the State, came with the pretension to be I,—and I gazed calmly on all. What wonder if then there was always a real I too that joined the company and affirmed in my face that it was not my you but my real I. Why, the Son of Man par excellence had done the like; why should not a son of man do it too? So I saw my I always above me and outside me, and could never really come to myself.

I never believed in myself; I never believed in my present, I saw myself only in the future. The boy believes he will be a proper I, a proper fellow, only when he has become a man; the man thinks, only in the other world will he be something proper. And, to enter more closely upon reality at once, even the best are to-day still persuading each other that one must have received into himself the State, his people, mankind, and what not, in order to be a real I, a “free burgher,” a “citizen,” a “free or true man”; they too see the truth and reality of me in the reception of an alien I and devotion to it. And what sort of an I? An I that is neither an I nor a you, a fancied I, a spook.

While in the Middle Ages the church could well brook many States living united in it, the States learned after the Reformation, especially after the Thirty Years’ War, to tolerate many churches (confessions) gathering under one crown. But all States are religious and, as the case may be, “Christian States,” and make it their task to force the intractable, the “egoists,” under the bond of the unnatural, i. e. Christianize them. All arrangements of the Christian State have the object of Christianizing the people. Thus the court has the object of forcing people to justice, the school that of forcing them to mental culture,—in short, the object of protecting those who act Christianly against those who act unchristianly, of bringing Christian action to dominion, of making it powerful. Among these means of force the State counted the Church, too, it demanded a—particular religion from everybody. Dupin said lately against the clergy, “Instruction and education belong to the State.”

Certainly everything that regards the principle of morality is a State affair. Hence it is that the Chinese State meddles so much in family concerns, and one is nothing there if one is not first of all a good child to his parents. Family concerns are altogether State concerns with us too, only that our State—puts confidence in the families without painful oversight; it holds the family bound by the marriage tie, and this tie cannot be broken without it.


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