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|Author: Moses Hess|
III. The Genetic View of the World
Inasmuch as Spinola's Works have already been translated into Hebrew, the time has come when we must defend this great Jewish teacher against misrepresentation on the part of Jewish scholars. The objection raised by Luzzato against Spinola proves only that this great Hebrew scholar has wandered into a field in which he is a total stranger. The teaching of Spinoza, which derives the entire spiritual-moral system of life from the single idea of God as the ground of Nature and Thought, and which assigns the Knowledge of God as the highest aim of life, reconciles the apparent contradiction between philosophy and experimental science on the one hand and between reason 'and feeling on the other. Luzzato, who charges the system of Spinola, which is an immediate outflow of the Creative Spirit with a lack of emotion, calling it a system of dry reason, displays only his own ignorance of the true nature of these problems and of their masterly solution by Spinoza.
The basic idea of the system of Spinola, namely, that God is the only substance, the ground and origin of all being, is the fundamental expression of the Jewish genius, which has ever manifested itself in divine revelations from the time of Moses and the Prophets, down to modern days. These manifestations of the Jewish genius are not a supernatural phenomenon, but form a part of the great eternal Law which governs all three life spheres, the cosmic, organic and social. The special field of operation of the Jewish genius, however, is the social sphere, and it is due to it that a unified historical development of humanity was made possible. The revelations of the Jewish spirit express the universal law in its entirety; its past workings as well as its future operations, using the scientific formula of to-day with the same facility as formerly the proofs of imagination and feeling.
The Jewish view, which sees in the world of Nature and life the continual operation of one creative force, is confirmed by observation. We cannot fail to conceive in any created phenomenon in Nature, or in the sphere of spirit, the immediate influence of the Creator. Those who try to avoid this conclusion, explaining the rise of beings as only a result of a mere mechanical operation of the law of cause and effect, and oppose to the theory of creation that of the eternity of matter, will find it difficult to uphold their view. The hypothesis of the eternity of the atoms of matter and of their rigidity and unchangeability does not explain all phenomena of the behavior of matter under certain conditions, and is gradually giving way to the genetic view, which sees everywhere only movements and no fixed atoms nor any stable cosmic ether, chemical atoms have not existed from eternity, but, like organic germs, were once generated and are subject to the great law of growth and decay. They arose through the act of creation, by the same act which successively calls into existence every being, and continues to form centers of gravity, which in the cosmic world we name atoms; in the organic, germs; and in the social, revelations.
Creation, however, does not mean the forming of new elements, but only a new arrangement of existing materials. Every creation is a combination of two opposite movements into a new, balanced and more perfect one. The cosmic rotation of the planetary bodies, which is the result of two opposite movements, the centripetal and the centrifugal, is an excellent illustration of this form of combination. A spiritual creation is, similarly, a combination of two preceding mental tendencies into a new synthesis. Every physical creation presupposes the eternal Creator, and every spiritual creation an inspiration, which is only a channel through which the immediate influences of the Creator are conveyed. Religion is the greatest and the highest of such inspirations. Can we, then, doubt its teaching of the existence of a creative element in life, which is evidenced by experience and science; or shall we name it supernatural, an exception to the eternal law? It requires extraordinary reason to do so.
The creative process in the social life-sphere operates according to a well-formed plan, which is gradually being unfolded in history, just as a similar plan was previously developed in Nature. Spiritual creations, like the organic, have their paleontological and modem epochs, the last stage of which is the age of maturity, in which the development of social life will come to completion. The coming of the future epoch of social life will be hastened by the efforts and energy of the Jews, who have a special calling for conveying to the world revelations affecting the social life-sphere.
The typical expression of the Jewish genius, the genetic view, is essentially one with all its representatives, with Moses and the Prophets as well as with Spinoza. The first do not contradict modern science, their views are only divergent and different in external form from that of science but not contradictory to it. Nor is Spinoza's teaching contradictory to Jewish Monotheism. What Jewish revelation emphasized most is the unity of the creative spirit, in opposition to the plurality of forces; and this idea has been expressed clearly also by Spinoza. The Bible, stripped of its anthropomorphic expressions, does not offer a single point which expressly contradicts the teachings of Spinoza. Moses himself says that the Knowledge of God is not found either in heaven or in the distances of space, but that the real revelation of God takes place within ourselves, in our spirit and heart. A similar expression occurs in the Talmud. "The Holy Presence never descended to earth, nor did Moses ascend to heaven." Must we consider the anthropomorphic expressions of the Bible as dogmas? If so, they will finally undermine the fundamental dogma of Jewish teaching which is so clearly enunciated in the Shema. Nor is the doctrine of the eternity of the spirit to be misunderstood. The eternity of the spirit does not begin after death, but is, like God, always present.
An external God, who does not manifest himself to men as an immediate ever-present Creator, is not the God of the Jews, Christians and Mohammedans, and can become as little the religious ground of the regenerated nations as pagan Polytheism and Pantheism. A God head, of whom we know nothing, is without influence on our social, spiritual and moral life. It is only the creative God who will be the God of the age of maturity of the social life. The rationalistic view of life suits only the now antiquated form of Society, which is at present in the process of dissolution. Just as modern Nationalism is a reflection of the spirit of revolution, so is modern rationalistic supernaturalism a spiritual reflection of the reaction against the progressive social tendencies.
IV. The Last Antagonism
In order to estimate truly the spiritual attitudes toward life we must take into account the social movements of which they are the result. The present day philosophical point of view differs essentially from that held during the last century. Not only has science made tremendous progress during this time, but it has been greatly influenced by philosophical criticism and speculation, just as industry has been essentially affected by democratic revolution and the development of capitalism. The field of battle, the struggle itself and the contending forces have been changed in the historical course of the social movement, which began in the last century and which we are still continuing. The speculative philosopher of the nineteenth century has as little sympathy with the revolutionary philosopher of the eighteenth as the liberal citizen of to-day has for the revolutionist of that time. The oppressed industrial producers of the last century are the lordly speculators of our present-day Society. And even within the productive class itself, a thorough process of separation between its constituent elements has taken place. The last resolution, that which we are now witnessing, could not, therefore, have previously created a perfected organization. The old, rigid institutions of feudal Society and the last dead residue of dogmatism must first be dissected by the sharp knife of criticism and analysis, into its elements, before new social and spiritual creations can come into being. In the course of the development of new elements there came to the front a new antagonism which did not exist before, and the reconciliation of which is at present under discussion. The forces of labor in the industrial world on the one hand, and the investigators in the scientific field, on the other, liberated from the bonds of feudalism and dogmatism alike, have brought forth the last antagonism, namely, the one between labor and speculation. In the revolutionary atmosphere of free competition of all labor forces, there were formed centers of gravity which will ultimately absorb the individual productive forces and organize them for their own purpose. Following the law of Gravitation, the fundamental law of all life, the single atoms of laborers grouped themselves around industrial, and the individual investigators around speculative centers. Not only in the sphere of industry but even in the field of science, it is no light task to oppose the attractive force of the speculative centers.
In merely negating the speculative system, as in merely destroying accumulated capital, we will gain but little; for all life has a natural tendency toward centralization, combination and organization. If the real producers earnestly desire to free themselves from the exploitation of the speculators, they must, following the successful attempt of English workingmen, oppose to the mass of accumulated labor in the hands of the captains of industry, on the one hand, and in the heads of the philosophic speculators on the other, the larger mass of the individual productions, as well as the results of investigations in the scientific field. This applies to scientific material as well as to industrial. Materials are only dead capital when they are not organized for further creation and production. The same law governing all productive life movements, serves also for further creations out of the already gained materials. The so-called indestructibility of matter is nothing but the persistence of the productive force inherent in matter even in its dissolution and decomposition. Should the industrial and intellectual workers remain in individual isolation; should they not centralize and organize their scattered forces and become speculative in a cooperative way, the antagonism between labor and speculation will, of necessity, remain stationary.
The final theoretical antagonism which can in some measure be overcome, namely, that between philosophy and the experimental sciences, between materialism and idealism, is nothing but the theoretical expression of the practical antagonism in social life. The same attitude that the master displayed toward the slave, the priest toward the uninitiated, and later, the feudal lord toward the serf, the clerical toward the secular, is finally assumed .to-day by the capitalist toward the workingman, the philosopher toward the investigator, namely, the attitude of the organized toward the unorganized and of the strong toward the weak. The people fall short in regard to the reconciliation of this antagonism. Such an attitude leads only to decomposition and death, and therefore Moses exclaimed to our people "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy people."
As industrial speculation, so philosophical speculation, is a historical necessity, and its existence is justified, as long as the productive labors and investigations are not centralized and organized, as long as they have not their own center of gravity and equilibrium. "Absolute" speculation represented, before the revolutionary critical epoch, a governing, compelling force. After this period, it is only a controlling power, strange and hostile in its attitude toward material labor. The root of this antagonism, however, lies not in the malice of this or that class, but is inherent in the history of the development of the human race which, as long as it has not reached its aim, the age of maturity, must pass toward its goal through race and class struggles, just as the human individual, while in the midst of his mental development, is dominated by one-sided representations and tendencies.
In the course of human history, only one-sided movements have arisen in social life, the influences of which have helped to engender one-sided views, representations and conceptions. During the development of organic or social life, there occurs always a division of labor among the various parts of the organisms which brings forth, along with the perfection of special functions, a certain narrowness and one-sidedness. In human life, this tendency often degenerates into a kind of monomania, the effects of which are harmful to the human spirit. But when the perfected organism of the historical races reaches its final stage of development, the various strivings of history will also reach their ultimate harmony in a perfected human society. Just as only after the completion of the organic life-sphere, namely, after the creation of man, the Sabbath of Nature began, so will the historical Sabbath begin only after the completion of the development of social life, after the creation of a harmonious social organization in which production and consumption will be in a state of equilibrium. We stand at present on the eve of the historical Sabbath. Our age is still the age of speculation. But speculation can, by its very nature, be the inheritance of only a minority. What, then, of the majority?
Every life-sphere, which has reached the completion of its development, insures the continuity of its existence, first, by means of reproduction, and, secondly, by establishing an equilibrium between production and consumption. The social life-sphere also will enter upon its age of maturity from the moment when this point of view prevails in the social economic movement. Where this point of view is only shared by a few individuals, who utilize it for private purposes, the age is dominated by speculation. The essence of speculation consists in the exploitation of the reproductive sources of social life for private purposes.
Life in general is a producing and consuming activity. Science is universal economics which investigates and determines the amount and degree of production and consumption in the various life-spheres and epochs. Physiology is the economics of the organic life-sphere, and social economy is the physiology of Society. The latter science shows us that social life is still in its childhood epoch. Between the stage of embryonic life, through which Society had passed, and the stage of maturity and independence, upon which it will enter, there lies the gap which we can hardly bridge, namely, the revolutionary critical epoch, which gave birth to modern Society, the period which made possible the independence of future social life from the past and laid the foundation of a creative Society. What revolution does for life, criticism accomplishes for ideas and views. It unfastens the chains of traditional representations which hold the present in the grip of the past, opens the way toward a new independent life, and, like revolution, considers itself independent of the creative being itself, which tradition has represented as extra-mundane, as long as it has not rediscovered that creative being in the world itself. Most of our contemporaries continue to attack the external "absolute" of tradition, but they do not discover the real "Absolute," the creative center of all life, namely, the equilibrium and harmony of all spiritual forces. The few that have dared to make such a step were finally lost in speculation.
Just as the new-born babe is not entirely independent of its mother, as long as it is still being nourished by her, so social life cannot be considered emancipated until it has outgrown the nursing period. The philosophical and industrial forms of speculation employed by spiritual and material capitalists and dominating the fields of scientific and industrial labor, are the two breasts which nourish our Society, and as a result, the child labor is strongly bound to its mother-capital-the creative spirit is chained to the former traditional achievements; and finally, the new Society is made subject to its ancient ghost. It is, therefore, the task of the intellectual, as well as the industrial workers, to liberate themselves from the domination of speculation. Scientists and Socialists should work hand in hand for the last liberation of humanity, for the emancipation of all forms of labor from speculation. And their efforts will certainly be successful, for we see that scientists in Germany and industrial laborers in England are gradually approaching the goal. But in Germany, as well as in England, these efforts are isolated; the impulse to unite both tendencies, the scientific and the industrial, can come only from the land of modern revolution and centralization. France, on the one hand, and from the Jewish people on the other, the people which has, from the beginning of its history, had for its mission, the unity of different tendencies of social life into one center of activity.
If Spinoza laid the foundation for a definite reconciliation between the two typical antithetical expressions of the human genius which reached their culminating point in the creations of the Greeks and the Jews, then it became the task of history after Spinoza to develop the seed which he had sown, into a definite reconciliation of all antagonism in the life of nations.
German philosophy undoubtedly rendered a great service when it succeeded in overcoming, on the basis laid by Spinoza's conception of Jewish monotheism, the opposition of atheism to theism, which was expressed so clearly by the revolutionary thinkers. But at the same time, this philosophy lacked a positive foundation in life and experimental science, and as a result, it must have necessarily come into conflict with the latter. The last form of antagonism, which is still to be reconciled, is not the one between Monotheism and Polytheism, as in antiquity, nor between Moslem Monism and Christian Dualism, as in the Medieva l Ages, nor between Theism and Atheism, but between speculative philosophy and experimental science. The German scientists are called to the mission of reconciling this last form of antagonism by work like Moleschott's, which will ultimately lead to the merging of science into philosophy and philosophy into science. It is in Germany, where experimental science will be emancipated by means of a cooperative activity on the part of the scientists, to gather all data collected in different fields and interpret them from a general point of view, so as to bring all the various parts into a harmonious, organic whole.
V. The Last Race Rule
The more perfect a people is in its own special calling, the more it appreciates the particular services of other peoples, and the more willingly it borrows from them the ideas, conceptions and inventions which are necessary to modem life. This tendency is especially noticeable in the German people and it certainly does honor to the German spirit.
The Jewish nation, therefore, must not hesitate to follow France in all matters relating to the political and social regeneration of the nations, and especially in what concerns its own rebirth as a nation, on the one hand; and in everything which bears upon the revival of intellectual life in Germany on the other. Only a stupid reaction, which is consciously or unconsciously swept along by its own alarm, can bear us malice when we sympathize with France in all matters of a social, political nature, and yet try to absorb and assimilate everything good in German spiritual and intellectual life.
The cause of national regeneration of oppressed peoples can expect no help and sympathy from Germany. The problem of regeneration, which dates not from the second restoration of the kingdom in France, but goes back to the French Revolution, the definite solution of which began in Europe only recently, with the outbreak of the Italian war, was received in Germany with mockery and derision; and in spite of the fact that the question is an urgent one and is uppermost almost everywhere, even in Germany itself, the Germans have named it the "Nationality trick." Our Jewish democrats, also, display their patriotism in accusing the French and the peoples sympathizing with them, of conquering designs. The French, say the German politicians, as well as the allies, will only be exploited by the second Monarchy, for purposes of restraining liberty rather than promoting it. It is, therefore, according to the deep logic of these politicians, the duty of the German to be obedient to the Kaiser and the kings, in order that they should be able to defeat the conquering desires of the French. These politicians and patriots forget, that if Germany were to conquer France and Italy to-day, it would only result in placing the entire German people under police law; and in depriving the Jews of their civil rights, in a worse manner than after the Way of Liberation, when the only reward granted by the Germans to their Jewish brethren in arms was exclusion from civil life. And, truly, the German people and the German Jews do not deserve any better lot when they allow themselves, in spite of the examples of history, to be entrapped by medieva l reaction.
Scientific studies, together with my life experiences, have matured my political sympathies for France, especially after I learned to know the people. I have formulated my thoughts in the following sentences:
Social life-tendencies are, like spiritual life-views, typical and primal race creations. The entire past history of humanity originally moved only in the circle of race and class struggle. The race struggle is the primal one, and the class struggle secondary. The last dominating race is the German. But, thanks to the French people, which succeeded not only in reconciling race antagonism in its own land, but also uprooted every form of race domination within the borders of France, the race struggle is nearing its end. And along with the cessation of race antagonism, the class struggle will also come to a standstill. The equalization of all classes of Society will necessarily follow the emancipation of the races, for it will ultimately become only a scientific question of social economics.
Yet it seems that a final race struggle is unavoidable, if the German politicians, failing to grasp the situation, do not attempt to oppose the tremendous current of reaction, which will ultimately involve Germany in a collision with the Romance nations, and will also entrap the progressive German democrats in the net of Romantic demagogy. Medieva l reaction succeeded twice during the present century, once during the War of Liberation, and for the second time, during the Italian war, in defeating the modern efforts of the German people for political and social regeneration, by inflaming the race dominance instincts in the hearts of the lords of war, who think themselves lords of the land by divine right, and consider the people as their rightly inherited slaves. It is not impossible, that in case of a war between Italy and Austria. German democracy will, for the third time, be engulfed by the whirl of reaction and join her in a war for race dominance, the results of which will be detrimental to progress. But out of the last race struggle, which Ferdinand Freiligrath has vividly depicted in his vision "At the Birch Tree;" there 1vill arise no new domination of any race, and the equality of all world historical peoples will follow as a necessary result.
VI. A Chapter of History
Nations like individuals pass, in the course of their development, through certain definite life-periods. Not every age is adapted for every stage of development; but every age has its particular degree of progress. And if a people is belated in its development or has missed one of the stages, it will be very difficult for it to follow the harmonious march of nations toward progress.
Germany at the time of the Reformation, occupied a high position in the field of social and political development. Even the masses were permeated with the spirit of social-political reform, the like of which was seen only in England in the seventeenth century and in France in the eighteenth. The sixteenth century was the epoch of the German Renaissance. Germany, during that period, gave birth to a great reform, but inasmuch as it did not succeed in becoming a truly national reform, it only divided the nation into two. The political-social revolution of the peasants, on the other hand was finally drowned in their own blood.
Had not the uprising of the peasants been shamefully betrayed by the leaders of German culture and civilization, the development of the nation would, at that time, have already assumed a normal form, and not only would Germany be the equal of the other civilized nations, but as the first-born modern nation, would have held the roost prominent place among them. The might of the medieva l "German Sword" would have been transformed into the nobler and higher force of the modern German spirit. The nation which overthrew the world empire of Rome, in order to substitute for it the medieva l feudal power, would have been the first to give the signal for the overthrow of its own institutions, the overthrow of the last form of race dominance. But Fate willed otherwise. The last chosen people, like the first, must atone for its sins before it is granted the privilege of leading its historical role, before it will be worthy to enter into the modern alliance of humanity, which is based on the equality of all historical nations.
The external causes which brought about the nipping in the bud of the German revolution are well known. Charles the Fifth, who, at the time of the awakening of a national consciousness among the historical nations, strove to realize his dream of a world German-Roman empire, was one of the chief factors in causing the destruction of the popular revolution. This monarch missed his great opportunity to raise Germany, by means of supporting social, political and religious reform, to the dignity of a useful modern State, to liberate it from the yoke of Feudalism and save it from disruption, and finally to create for himself a nation and to give to the people a real king, to create a modern monarchy which would support all the oppressed peoples and terrify the conquering mediaeva l lords of war. But, through his wavering conduct, the contrary result occurred. The nobility could free themselves from the subjection to the Emperor, on the one hand, by joining with the new religious reform, and from the influence of the people, on the other, by suppressing the political social uprising; and consequently they followed this course of action. This anti-national activity was furthered, not only by the contradictory policy of the German Emperor and the ambition of the nobles, but also by the political inability of the leader of the Reformation. Luther, with his doctrinal stupidity, thought it more advantageous to join the nobility rather than the common people and finally betrayed the peasants, just as, even to-day, the German doctrinaires are always ready to betray the people whenever they attempt to take the democratic movement seriously. And yet, in spite of all these difficulties, the German revolution would have triumphed, had it not been for the fact that the cities, the seat of a social class, which had immediate interest in the downfall of Feudalism, were too narrow-minded and cowardly at heart to see the great importance of the peasant uprising and to struggle for their own liberation. Having been delivered into the hands of their enemies by their natural allies, denounced in shameful orations by the German reformer, forsaken by the Emperor and butchered by the hereditary warlords, the German peasants were forced to abandon the revolution, along with which was also nipped in the bud the germ of Germany's regeneration. And from that moment, the German nations began to descend lower and lower in the scale of progress. Luther, who lacked no insight into human affairs, saw it and expressed himself sorrowfully about it.
The punishment for this great crime against the people on the part of the nobles and citizens came but too soon. In the Thirty Years War, the German cities had to submit involuntarily to the sentence which they themselves, by their breaking away from the German revolution, had thus pronounced. They could then see that "the history of the world is the world's Court of Justice," but they could not avert the fated doom. For at the time when the English revolution raised our proud neighbor to the height of culture and civilization and laid the foundation of its present world power, Germany was bleeding white through its civil and religious wars, and this process was repeated many times. Even the French Revolution, which taught all European nations to love and esteem liberty, brought to Germany only the shame of foreign rule and the still worse domination of the reaction, which since then settled so securely upon the back of the German people, that not even the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 could, in any way, overthrow it from its seat. And just as at the time of the first French Revolution, German literature and philosophy, which were then at their height, could not protect the ghost of a German empire from its fate, so are all our orators, writers and poets of to-day unable to revive the political corpse of Germany, the soul of which had departed long ago in the unfortunate peasant war. Great popular leaders and patriotic heroes do not descend from the skies, but grow out of the deep soil of the people and its history. When the latter is arrested in the midst of its flight toward progress, the political genius of the nation must necessarily be extinguished.
And this is just what happened in Germany. At the time of the peasant war, Germany possessed great statesmen, who united in their persons patriotism and modernity and were also able to train the people and implant in them the same traits. To-day these people lack the common soil and traditions necessary for development of statesmen of such stamp. All reminiscences of German greatness go back either to medieva l times or further back to the primitive forests. The present German patriotism is reactionary and has no root in the life of the people. As long as it is impossible to realize the aim of a modern German movement, so long can there exist no modern German people.
Without regeneration there can be no people, and without a people, in the modern sense of the word, there can be no modern patriotism. Present-day German patriotism, which expresses itself only in verbal protestations against our neighbors, while it has neither the courage nor the talent to occupy itself with the work of regeneration, is only an air bubble. Germany does not suffer from the oppression of a foreign yoke, nor is there any fear that it will suffer in the future, as the patriots would have us believe, but it is ailing as a result of its murdered revolution; it can no more make the same move toward progress without the help of the other progressive European nations. The Germans are too proud to join forces with those nations which succeeded in liberating themselves from the Christian medieva l spirit. Hence they will have to be subjected to a medieva l reaction, which they did not know how to defeat at the right moment.
The last opportunity, which offered us the elevation of the German people to the degree of a modern nation, namely, the War of Liberation; ended only in a victory for reaction; for the war against France was a war of reactionary Europe against the spirit of the French Revolution. And were Germany to go to war again with any nation, the same result would be repeated; a victory of the army would be a victory of reaction. So deeply have we sunk, that we are forced to hail a defeat of the army as a happy event in the history of the German people. Indeed, "the history of the world is the world's Court of Justice." We must atone now for the sins we committed in the sixteenth century.
Who can foresee the catastrophes that may befall us as a result of our arrested development? Certainly, we hope that the struggle of the German people will come to an end with the equalization of all oppressed peoples which struggle to attain the same aim. But by what means the goal will be reached, no one knows. What peaceful or warlike German patriot dares to think about it?
The age of race dominance is at an end. Even the smallest people, whether it belongs to the Germanic or Romance, Slavic or Finnic, Celtic or Semitic races, as soon as it advances its claims to a place among the historical nations, will find sympathetic supporters in the powerful civilized Western nations. Like the patriots of other unfortunate nations, the German 'patriots can attain their aim only by means of a friendly alliance with the progressive and powerful nations of the world. But if they continue to conjure themselves, as well as the German people, with the might and glory of the "German Sword," they will only add to the old unpardonable mistakes, grave new ones; they will only play into the hands of the reaction, and drag all Germany along with them.
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