The Bourgeois State Ruthless Criticism

The Bourgeois State

1. The monopoly on force

a) The bourgeois state subjects its individual members to its rule; this is its first and fundamental feat, the basis of everything it does with and for its people. [1] It is the political power of the society that it forms with its subordinate masses.

The state does not tolerate any relativization of its rule. It precludes competing relations of force as well as any exceptions: it reserves the monopoly on the use of force to itself. It is not subject to any conditions, either from higher authorities or overriding regulations or claims by its subjects: its force is sovereign. It doesn’t even depend on the interests or ambitions of its power-holders: it is impersonal; those in power are functionaries and their office distinguishes them from those who are on the subordinate side of the political relation of force and, as such, constitute the people.

The members of bourgeois states consequently have a peculiar social character in their subservience to this force. The state decrees their equality in relation to its force; contrary to the claims of political science and leftist hopes, this in no way announces any type of social egalitarianism, but just the opposite: that its rule is perfectly compatible with all the social differences that it permits; it views everybody equally as subjects, precisely within their differences, which then become important. It awards them a freedom guaranteed by its monopoly on force, thus places the free activity of individuals under the general reservation that it and no one else determines its conditions and its scope; it announces a definition of freedom that can only be established by a monopoly on force. Freedom and equality characterize individuals as subjects of a state that intends to intervene so fundamentally in the formation of their will that they pursue no other interests and projects than those it permits; this makes them equal and free from restrictions.

b) The bourgeois state demands and expects one basic thing from its subjects: submission. They are made aware of this fact and know who they must obey and behave accordingly, that is, passively. After that comes the whole bourgeois content of life in a modern state, and this includes the far more nuanced demands of the highest power on its subjects. However, the force monopoly in its pure elementary form – the rule carried out by a power that all must obey – is the essential prerequisite for everything that follows; in a state of emergency, the bourgeois state falls back on this in practice.

c) The career of the citizen duly begins: subordination with no further viewpoint and justification, just the sole fact that the question of force has been settled in the country. A people needs nothing else to establish itself as a people, but it needs one thing absolutely: that it is effectively coerced and becomes a people.

2. Private property and competition

a) The bourgeois state dictates the substance of the freedom of its subjects by taking hold of their materialism, that is, their material needs and wants in life, and binding them to an all-decisive condition: private property. Any satisfaction of needs, participation in social wealth or its production is made dependent on an exclusive power of access over universally needed things, the effectiveness and exclusiveness of which it justifies and guarantees. Under this requirement, it approves the striving of individuals for self-preservation and well-being; in this form, it commands social materialism – thus excluding it in any other form. [2]

With private property, the bourgeois state power imposes the principle of private ownership, which it decrees and guarantees, between individual needs and the means of satisfying them, as well as between the goods-creating use of means of production, labor, and the consumption of the produced goods, separating them from each other. It sets real material needs and the benefits of use values under the criteria of the access power of private property, rendering them contingent on it – and thereby defines the generally binding benefit that matters under its regime: it does not consist in use value, but in property as such. As the exclusive condition for every concrete material utility, private property itself is the only thing useful per se; but this utility consists precisely in abstraction from each specific need and utility. Under the condition of private property, the benefit around which everything revolves is therefore not met by such simple achievements as the sustenance and well-being of the members of society, but in the service of the only “need” that can relate to private property as such: to enlarge it. The yield produced by the work of the society does not consist of the use-values it has created, but is defined by the measure to which it fulfills these claims to enlargement. The performance of use-value creating activities, as well as the reproduction of those who do the work, is made dependent on this abstract result.

It is thus a whole system of social wealth and social labor that the bourgeois state puts into effect by establishing private property for its subjects. [3] Social wealth is defined abstractly as a quantum of private property; therefore, conversely, the binding social nature of wealth consists in private property: because all private owners exclude each other from the necessary means of creating and increasing their wealth, they are dependent on each other. Their necessary cooperation is thus placed under a negative premise and determines its form: It takes place as an all-around compulsion to use the means of others for one’s own success and to make one’s own means available to others for them to enlarge their property. In their quest for success, private owners who are dependent on each other act against each other; the creation and procurement of wealth is achieved by damaging others; the condition and procedural form for all “cooperation” is competition.

This requirement not only applies to all private property in concrete means of production and useful goods in general, but also to productive activity itself: By decreeing the inviolability of the person as a complement to private property being put into place, the state grants individuals the power to have exclusive disposal over themselves, thus defining them as owners of their own physical existence and their time and, conversely, their work capacity as their private property, which they are able to use to involve themselves in the negative dependency of the private owners on each another, that is, by making it available to others who may need it for their own interests. Work itself thus becomes a means of private property – in two ways and in totally opposite senses: some make themselves into their means of private property because they have no other concrete private property and no means for producing wealth; they make their labor power into their means of self-preservation by selling the disposal they have over themselves – to private owners who have means sufficient to commission the labor of others for their interests, namely to increase their property. Property thus becomes a means of commanding the work of the society, that is, of privately and exclusively using it as a work capacity under the exclusive control of private people. And thus it becomes the necessary and sufficient means to obtain the abstract utility embossed in it, that is, to enlarge itself. This way of using work as a means of producing private property for its own enlargement reproduces the owner of labor power on the other side – as what he is: a private person who continues to have no more property than being labor power and time.

This is the materialism that the bourgeois state dictates to its society; this is how the productive dependency of everyone on everyone else, which it alone makes possible, functions: the exclusive power of access, private property, becomes, as the abstract embodiment of all benefit, the content of all economic relations, the exclusive and universal purpose of production and means of production, the economic thing in itself which the state gives concrete, quantifiable material form in money. The mode of production mediated by this politically-established economic “object” looks the way you would expect it to: It subjects labor and all created wealth, as well as all the natural conditions of production, to the sole purpose of wealth in its valid form: increasing private property; on the other hand, it reproduces and increases poverty in its modern form: the politically and economically enforced exclusion from the continually accumulating surplus of those whose exclusive power to control extends only over themselves.

b) The bourgeois state imposes private property on its subjects as an exclusionary condition of their utility, makes them agents of abstract wealth – a minority as beneficiaries, the masses as employees who remain poor – and wants this appreciated as a service to its society; in a way that guarantees to each his own: the exclusive power of access over one’s own means of private materialism – despite the fact that this is usually not at all sufficient as a means for privately getting by. It sets a political-economic condition for the freedom of individuals beyond all natural limits, makes them dependent on each other in the most negative sense possible, thus institutionalizing the exact opposite of social freedom in the reasonable sense that the individuals make life as easy as possible for themselves and others through planned cooperation; this is how it wants to open its realm of economic freedom to each individual. With the compulsion to support oneself according to the criteria of private property, it brings about the class of owners who have social wealth at their disposal as a means of their property and the class of workers who must make themselves into a means for increasing the property of others; it commends itself to both classes as an authority that guarantees to each his own without distinction, that is, it creates equality between the private persons. It arranges people as economic counterparts against each other and demands that they use their conflicting private properties against each other as their state-guaranteed means of enrichment, hence that they seek their fortune in competition.

All these impositions assume as the most self-evident thing in the world that people do not define any material interests of their own which they could then relate to the state-imposed materialism of private property, but from the outset want only what their privately owned means and their negative dependence on each other dictate to them – namely: as private persons with whatever property they may have, they compete for shares of wealth. No alternatives are included because these are excluded by the power of the state and consequently considered unrealistic or utopian at best. By means of the assumption that individual benefit could hardly function any other way, the bourgeois state demands that its subjects carry out the transition that any person with self-control is always making from involuntary needs to deliberate interests according to its precepts, namely in such a way that they end up with the need for property and with the search for competitive advantages; conversely, they should see the necessities that this behavior causes for them as their needs, as if they came from their nature. They are supposed to take the fact that they would not have to compete without the state-imposed coercion of private property and construe it into the irrefutable worldly wisdom that they would be unable to compete without the state guarantee of person and property.

So it is up to the better-off minority in the country to develop an interest, beyond all their own desires, in profit-making business activity, in abstract wealth as an end in itself. The larger, less well-off part of the people has to acquire a need for wage labor and to recognize this as the quintessence of any material claim that a normal person could realistically make. They are not supposed to notice that the state power makes them actors in a system of reciprocal and rather one-sided usage and damage, and instead dress themselves up as character masks of this system who enjoy their freedom and consider competition to be in their nature.

c) In their everyday economic life, in order to maintain themselves at all, the members of a bourgeois community can’t avoid accepting as “reality” what the ruling force monopoly has established as a premise of their freedom and acting accordingly. This practical compulsion to be “realistic” is by no means a good reason to consent and surrender to “the way it is”; just the opposite: the efforts to survive the daily life of competition and participate in social wealth give the majority of individuals their bad experiences in life; in the specific case, it is certainly the primary cause of the damage from which the affected person could quite well become wiser in a way that is unfavorable to the state.

This is countered, however, by a way of seeing that views every case of damage as caused by unsuccessful individual efforts and interprets the competition in which people fail as an array of good and bad opportunities where everything depends on what the individual makes of it – after all, there are winners too. Successes in everyday competition are then offset against defeats and all bad experiences are taken as an impetus to keep giving “it” a go. Worldly-wise people do not insist on their needs in opposition to “circumstances” – this is regarded as the hopeless protest attitude of the notorious “losers” who nobody wants to be ranked with; rather, with their constantly crushed claims and “dreams,” they make overtures to the world of competition and try to make themselves suitable for the system. They become critics of private property in exactly one sense, and this criticism is shared, in principle indiscriminately, by the poor and the rich: It is notoriously not enough. And as long as this finding does not lead to the realization that exclusion and restriction constitute the essence of private property, that property and the satisfaction of needs are therefore incommensurable variables, and that the enrichment of private property necessarily generates poverty – its notorious scarcity is not an argument against property, but for it, namely for its value and any effort to “get” some.

For this effort, it no longer matters that for the mass of people it never leads to a prosperity that even secures just their existence, let alone budges the dividing line between private property’s control of social production for its benefit, on the one hand, and exclusion from access to the essential means of social reproduction, on the other. Instead, what is important is the formal guarantee that even the slightest thing that one owns and uses is actually one’s property and solely one’s own – as if it were ever a serious purpose of the state to assure that the individual has access power to the few commodities that he already physically uses; and as if the state guarantee of property relating to such belongings did not mainly come into play when it is about confiscating something directly needed and useful from someone because someone else has a property right to it. Only the positive side of the antagonism that property brings into the world, one’s own legitimate possession, and on the negative side, only the exclusion of others from one’s own possessions, is considered significant – contrary to the not even denied achievement of private property, exclusion from everything, which is only just the beginning of wealth in this society. Under this affirmative viewpoint, even the service that the property-less workers perform for the property of others loses its shabby self-less character and the one who ultimately disposes freely and equally over his own personhood and makes it available to an employer regards it as an effort he performs only for himself and his own.

With this partisanship for private property, which their state imposes on them as a political-economic principle, and for the competition to which they are sentenced, the members of the bourgeois community correspond to the definition of the abstractly free will: they control their free will, define their own interests autonomously, and in doing so blindly accept the fact that most things, namely the decisive social conditions of their free activity and the goals they must therefore set for themselves, have long since been decided and that none of this is under their control. They take the liberty of allowing the decisions of their free will to begin only on the basis of all the “realities” that the state power has decreed, thus eliminating the whole world of the prescribed “objective constraints” from the realm of their free will and squandering their will power in the lifelong effort to make themselves at home in them.

3. The law

a) The bourgeois state exercises its rule in the form of law: It issues universal rules for everything that its citizens are supposed to do or are permitted to do; it defines any violation as a violence it counteracts as the monopolist on force, by means of physical coercion where necessary.

So it’s only fair. The bourgeois state is ultimately not concerned in its rule with any distinct claims that it would have to provide an otherwise finished society that functions by itself. It is concerned with the enforcement of private property as a principle of the economy, thus with the foundation of a peculiar social life process. And that this is anything but a natural need that all those involved would follow by themselves out of inclination and common sense; that, rather, a system of contradictory disconnections and dependencies and all-around competitive conflict is imposed on people as the only permissible type of cooperation; that none of this would get off the ground as an indisputable “reality” if it were not behind it everywhere: the bourgeois state power assumes in its practice of rule. It does not even let anything happen by itself, but prescribes rules to people according to which they have to make their needs into claims and be permitted to act; rules that do not have an ends-oriented division of labor as their content or even as their goal, but rather treat the individual as a private owner and set forth an enormous bundle of stipulations and prohibitions on how human beings and objects of daily use present themselves, how work and consumption take place, the satisfaction of needs become a problem, and even the simplest meeting of two persons turns into mutually exclusive claims to entitlement once private property has become the ruling point of reference in life. In its laws, the state draws up a comprehensive picture of the competitive conditions that it wants [4] and does not gloss over anything: this picture is composed of nothing but regulations for shaping the conflicts of interest and for handling the collisions that must occur when people are on the go as competing private subjects with nothing in mind but the claim to maintain and increase their property. The law assumes individuals to be holders of antagonistic claims, defines them as personifications of their economic function, as private property gifted with will and consciousness, because it wants them this way, and confronts this personage with restrictions. In a dictatorial way, it demands consideration for the private property of others – thus it takes into account from the outset that the will to safeguard one owner’s interest in property, which it presupposes for everyone, does not include respect for other people’s property, but subjects it to self-interested calculations. Because it assumes this, the bourgeois state more generally decrees that personal claims be rescinded to a prescribed level or submitted to a prescribed method for carrying them out which safeguards and limits the corresponding claims of the respective counterparty in the same way. Thus relativized and domesticated, it elevates the interest in property to the rank of rights, which it backs up by emphasizing its monopoly on force. By assigning rights to its subjects, the state subjects their competition to its control – and thus sets them in motion.

The central legal institution for this is the contract. By entering contracts, opponents agree to serve the complementary interest of the other party, contrary to their own interest in increasing their own property, but for the sake of realizing this interest. At the state’s discretion, however, this agreement is completely useless as long as it is only backed by the interest of the involved parties; just as their property is dependent on force when they act in conformity with the system, a force must be included which compels them to serve the other party’s property as agreed. This is already at work and lays down the procedures for signing a contract and the conditions under which the interests of the partners, assumed to be in conflict, become legal claims. Nothing is removed from the antagonism; it is, however, subjected to legal regulations in advance – and only then becomes practicable. From the standpoint and in the name of lawful rules, the state monitors and, if necessary, enforces the fulfillment of the contract; for this purpose, it maintains, in addition to legislative bodies, an entire judicial apparatus which must be up to the level of current competitive manoeuvres. Apart from the terms of this schema, the bourgeois state power is not at all in a position to establish relations between its subjects. It therefore makes them accessible to its control by interpreting everything its members do with, against, and in relation to each other as contractual relations, measuring them by its respective norms and meting them out according to right and wrong. This is how the state always and everywhere intervenes – at least in principle, and in effect quite comprehensively – in the interests of people whom it presumes to have no other interests than those of competition, and awards them in the form of rights. In this way, it makes its subjects into the useful figures it wants them to be.

So it’s clear that the beneficial effects so readily attributed to the law, or at least credited to the state as the actual intention of its juridical rule, are guaranteed not to be forthcoming: an overall considerateness towards other people does not commence; nor are conflicts settled, let alone their causes eliminated. The law does not remove colliding private interests from the world, but puts them into it. Because in this way and only in this way – as rights that are protected by the state and obligated to mediation procedures – conflicting interests are made tenable without their antagonism being given up; their conflicts are preserved as legal disputes. The state does not therefore realistically assume that its decisions according to the law will end the conflict once it has so constructively supervised it, on the contrary: Already with the enforcement of the law as the procedural form of all conflicts of interest, it expects that those affected will try to circumvent it and, if necessary, break it in order to achieve the goal; and indeed not as an exception, but as a social rule. At any rate, it adjusts to this and takes its precautions again in the form of law. In relatively vague descriptions of situations and moral images, namely in the sections of its criminal law [5], it defines the elements of wrongdoing; and with these it opens up a legal dispute of a higher kind with its subjects: it subsumes under this category everything that pushes people beyond the limits of the rights granted to them, attributes their law breaking to an evil intention to challenge its monopoly on the use of force, and proves its undiminished validity by damaging the free property owners in their freedom or their property; even this is done according to rules that have long been fixed. In this way, what it defines as crime also acquires its firm and permanent place; in its legal system as well as in its society. In this way, it rules over the conflicts that it itself creates.

The bourgeois state thus exercises its rule in the form of law; and this means that it subjects its society to the rule of law: to a schematism of private property elevated to a canon of restrictive rights: it establishes its use of force accordingly, namely pursuant to the anonymity of its mission. In the interest of the impersonality of its rule and the objectivity of its decisions, it separates the various functions of its power organizationally as well, and institutionalizes their control by its own judicial body. In its constitution, it fixes both the separation of powers and the rule of law as principles standing above the ordinary revision and application of the laws.

b) The bourgeois state is at hand with its normative and regulating power wherever its subjects take action for themselves, and under the regime of private property put into effect by the state that means: against others. It demands that their claims move within the scope of what is prescribed, and offers them a guarantee that their claims are valid and extend as far as its laws permit, thus recognizing them as rights. It doesn’t care that it thereby does a material favor for the exceedingly few, namely that it helps their private wealth achieve its far-reaching effectiveness while on the other hand it establishes the right of the majority to be separated from the means of self-maintenance: everyone is equal before its law; it assigns to each his own with egalitarian sovereignty. That is why the bourgeois constitutional state also demands that all its subjects equally regard their legal restriction positively, as an entitlement, and their rights as indispensable means for the realization of their interests. Where they – contractually – use the property of others to get ahead, they do not merely have to obey its rules; they should see this as if they are also using its rules for themselves. In return, thus as if this were the fair price for the state power putting itself at the disposal of the legitimate claims of its subjects, they should accept as binding the demand that their interests always remain within the bounds of what is permitted. They should approach their entire existence as legal subjects and handle it as a chain of legal relationships, i.e. not so much according to their needs and sensible considerations but rather, and primarily, in line with the will of the legislators. As a binding higher will, they should recognize the law, but their material needs should be provided with the reservation that they are merely their own. Thinking in terms of property rights should become their “second nature” which their “first” obeys by itself.

The bourgeois state allows every freedom to the person who acts as a legal subject; it keeps out of his private life as long as he stays within the scope of what is permitted; it refrains from normative interventions into any residual individual desires and private activities when the schematism of private property law is obeyed. By referring to other forms of rule that do not have this type of “state-free” private sphere, the bourgeois monopolist on force points out that it could also do otherwise; so the functionalism of its rule testifies to self-restraint. It declares the legal subject in whom it no longer finds anything to suppress, thus the perfect character mask of its ordained right to property, to be the “human” par excellence, and the principle of its legal order, the freedom it standardizes, to be his “fundamental right”: the inalienable “human right” that brings the “human” into relation with his authority. The bourgeois state gives itself the modest role of the protective power of all decent people whose private sphere it shields from unauthorized encroachments; when, in order to do this, it must take a peak into everyone’s private sphere to see whether they are also obeying their vocation of being law-abiding “humans” and not abusing their innate rights, this only shows how it takes on its primary task of serving “the human.” It likes being measured in this way by “human rights” without fearing for its sovereignty. [6]

c) The constitutional state’s call to its citizens to get what they can in conformity with the law is followed out of necessity and reluctantly, but by no means only because of the omnipresent threat of sanctions. The individuals who are designated as private owners and subjects of the law are ready to see the law’s permissions and prohibitions as nothing but offers and opportunities, the transformation of their interests into rights not as a restriction, but as a chance. The state’s offer to use its law as a means for competitive advancement finds buyers. The fact that a normal modern person without property sacrifices some personal needs and has to make do with a very restrictively defined materialism is accepted by the affected people themselves – for the advantage in it of at least having the supreme power on their side and of being in the right in the effort to realize the conceded interests.

Certainly, most legally calculating people get confused here. They bank on the legal authorization of their restricted interests being, if not a guarantee of success, a significant aid – which it certainly is, but only for the few, namely for those who are lawfully blessed with a lot of property. For the majority, on the other hand, the law is merely a negative condition for success: Without rights, one does not even have a chance of competing; if one doesn’t respect the law, it destroys any success one may have achieved; if one respects it, it regularly makes failure completely permanent: the law certainly includes the promise that a law-abiding interest is valid in that respect. But the misunderstanding that this would also help assure its realization is consistently disappointed.

That’s enough reason to let go of the delusion and to read the equation of restriction and permission correctly. The much more effective alternative for life in a bourgeois state, and the one that is implemented on a mass scale, is the decision to hold tight, against every disappointment, to the calculation that is at least permitted – and certainly used successfully by some – and to insist on the confusion that a legitimate interest ought to nevertheless,“at the end of the day,” find fulfillment. A materialism restrained for the sake of its permission insists on its right.

The result is the well-known double strategy of legal consciousness. It plots ways to circumvent the law in order to get what it supposedly promises and what one is still actually entitled to – this: the cherished equation of permission and success, of “having a right” and “getting justice,” which is the source of what’s called “criminal intent” in the lawyerly appraisal of the human race. The other complementary conclusion ensures that it mainly remains an intent and that crimes are committed in the imagination: the disappointed legal personality moves on to a criticism of the law – in the name of that “real” right on which his servile calculation of advantage depends; if it were fair, everyone would ultimately have to get what they want to have gained by claiming obedience to the rules ... Such criticism of the real existing law in the name of its calculatingly interpreted ideal is motivated by a submissive materialism that thinks it has gotten a raw deal. It is inspired by an idealism of justice which – however hypocritical and calculating – denies the material interest and claims only that “justice will again be righteous.” Anyone who wants “only his rights” has so much faith in the law as a means of success – one denied to him – that he no longer calculates with rights and law as his means, but insists on the law as a purpose which everything must be subordinated to.

The person who is eager for justice certainly starts with himself: with a guilty conscience, he registers the undying remnants of a materialistic calculation in his own soul, is ashamed of himself, and negates it as best he can: The good conscience given by this moral self-criticism (that’s its real purpose) then takes on the rest of the world with the appropriate vehemence. Because he fights it in himself, the good man uncovers calculating materialism everywhere, thus unjustified claims that he demands the law-making and executing authorities forcefully refuse; and because they do not at all have his problem of conscience, but maintain order in the competition and nothing else, he even strikes a disrespectful and demanding tone with the state power for not taking its own rules seriously and, instead of paying attention to discipline and order, making room for every other egotism that comes along – of course, other people’s. The collective discontent of people who allow their materialism to be defined and restricted and calculatingly restrict themselves and yet do not get the reward they expect is turned into a demand on the state – namely: to be much more strict in imposing all this and to make no compromises. There are levels of escalation here; they range from suggesting or even practicing various types of administrative assistance for the rule of law to a responsiveness to right-wing agitation that brings fanatics of justice into conflict with the real justice of the criminal law.

The minority, by the way, who don’t take this leap of faith in the law as a purpose because it proves to be a real means for them, still permit themselves the luxury of converting their happily paying off competitive calculations into a pure fulfillment of their duties. With the triumph of materialism and morality, the successful elite even becomes a model for the masses for whom decency and success forever diverge – as long as they rely on the law’s promise of their identity.

4. The economy

a) The bourgeois state defines a money in which abstract wealth, the private access power to goods of all kinds, set in law, exists as a specific quantum of one and the same “substance”: a “good” that has no other use value than that which the state gives it, namely of representing the social value of all things, the private property in them, in a concrete material magnitude.

The state thereby gives the authorization to exclusive personal possession its measure in a universally binding material unit and thus really makes private property into the measure of all things: Everything is part of social wealth exactly to the extent that it is quantified in a sum of money; other than as such a sum, nothing is worth anything in this economy: the state thereby provides its private subjects with the means by which they hold their property in an immediately and universally applicable, socially agile form and can use it to lawfully acquire other people’s property; of course, it makes them dependent in all their undertakings on having the appropriate sum of money: the whole world is for sale; everything is available for money, nothing without money: In money, therefore, the state provides the power and the right of private property to use the entire living and inanimate stock of the society for its increase with the material substance that permits a calculation with costs and gains, as well as total and unrestricted access to all the means needed to make this calculation a reality. Conversely, any money that does not immediately disappear in the necessities of subsistence is inscribed with the social power, the right, and the economic purpose of becoming greater. With money, the state gives its society its sole, necessary, and sufficient means of enrichment: other than through money and as money, wealth does not come into existence. And so at the same time it defines the sole content and purpose of all economic activity: the point is to make more money out of money. Money is capital – or it is not money at all. Money has to be sufficient for this purpose in order for any other money-earning to take place in the society and consequently be viable. – The bourgeois state does this by defining a money.

It therefore also ensures that this purpose can’t fail in any case due to a limited availability of the “substance” to which it attaches the use value of being the all-decisive means of enrichment. It allows the business world, which has the money of the society at its disposal anyway, to use promissory – i.e., in the future at best – payments as means of payment, legally protects the stability of this risky construction, thereby justifies credit as the object of a higher type of trade, and frees capital from the barriers that would otherwise arise from the limited amount of money already earned and available for augmentation. It even materially secures the loans of its business world from the always imminent danger that failed transactions will cause the entire “money creation” built on future profits to collapse by making itself their first and supreme credit lender and serving their money needs with its own promises of payment which it circulates as legal tender by virtue of its power. The amount of money by which the private owners increase their wealth is then no longer a problem for the success of this undertaking; the state power vouches for it with slips of paper that are worth far more than the paper on which they are printed – as long as its monopoly on the use of force functions and everyone views it as the wealth of society. – This is how the bourgeois state establishes the domination of money that so many common sense sayings proclaim.

b) The fact that the state defines money, that is, its increase, as the purpose of all economic activity, makes “the economy” in general the “site” of money making: The state presents this constraint to its citizens as an offer. It gives them the right, offers them the freedom, opens up the world as an opportunity for them, and encourages everyone to make money.

This offer does not make any distinctions; in particular, it does not know of any classes. It is one and the same money that everyone calculates with, that everyone depends on, that everyone who belongs to the state must strive to earn, and through which they competitively relate to each other and seek to enrich themselves in conflict with one another: It is the “real community.” Before money, all are equal; it only depends on how much of it one has.

With this difference, however, some very significant qualitative differences then emerge in relation to the character and the specific capacities of the respective sources of money. This certainly doesn’t detract from legal equality; after all, the state does not dictate to anyone which of the various legal ways of making money they have to take up; it merely donates the medium and universal means of competition. This medium, however, automatically results in the various economic positions to which individuals are distributed by competition – indeed, depending on the financial means they bring with them.

For those who have enough money to use for business, money is itself a source of money. For the vast majority who do not have that kind of money, money used for business is likewise the source of money, albeit that of others and only as far as it needs labor power for its augmentation. In a society that lives on and for money, capital is logically the sole source of revenue, namely by increasing itself it creates, depending on how this works out, opportunities to earn money via participation in its process of increase; including wage labor in particular. [7] That’s how simply money divides into types of income; and divides so reliably and so thoroughly into classes that the state power really does not need to first sort its people and train them in different social positions in order to have a properly structured society at its disposal. Rather, it relates to this consequence as if it were a condition that pre-existed its activities and adds only the egalitarian – that is, equally valid for all members of the society – demand that they relate to it the same way, that is, accept class society with its highly contrasting earnings possibilities as a given living condition and adapt to the objective constraints of the source of revenue that is attainable for each person according to their personal financial resources. The ideological combination of “practical” and “constraint,” which is extremely popular in this context, still points out clearly enough that the economic circumstances which seem so constraining are anything but natural prerequisites of all economic activity, but rather the result of a constraint relation to which social life is subjected. But if this coercive relation is given, it is in fact nothing but practical necessities, namely those of capitalistic money augmentation, that shape what is then called “the economy.” The individuals should respect it and comply with the dependencies that come about between them as a result. By doing this, they support their state; each according to his source of income and his function in the whole.

So the state doesn’t ignore the fact that those who have enough money to use it as its own source, as capital, not only pursue and advance their private affairs, but have at their disposal the earnings potential of the whole society and thus hold the common good in their hands. It is therefore not guilty of unjustly favoring the rich when it uses its power for the success of private business, but draws the only appropriate conclusion for a general well-being from the submission of all needs and all social production and consumption to the private power of money. For this, it still has a lot more to do than what it has already achieved by creating legal security for business. Precisely because the competition for money – even that has to be defined by the monopolist on violence so that the private property owners can obtain a universally valid “material” for their wealth at all – dominates social production, essential prerequisites and important means of this mode of production do not come into being because they are unsuitable as a means of business, until the public authority, not separate from “the economy,” takes care of its “infrastructure” – science, road construction, and the like. If the lawful use of all means of production by competing business people then occurs, it ruins the natural living conditions so comprehensively that some effects impair the use of capital itself; here too the highest powers have to intervene in a corrective and reparative way. Moreover, it also not self-evident that the the business world can always find for all its needs the prerequisite of a suitably equipped “labor market,” i.e. an oversupply of usable labor. However, the provision of human resources for the needs of “the economy” falls more into the department of state activity dedicated to the others, namely the “proprietors” of the “revenue source wage labor.”

The state does not expect them to do much more than seek wages and take into account the conditions under which they can earn a living. It automatically follows from the logic of money augmentation that they are completely dependent on the success of the calculations made by capital which are carried out at their expense and to their detriment, as far as the relation between wages and work goes. The public authorities recognize this dependency as an objective constraint and make it clear to those affected that they and their work are not “the economy,” but the “dependent employees” who – as if this was an offer and not exploitation! – “accept the work” that the money-investing business world “gives” them. Presupposing all this, the state takes into account the consequences, namely the unequal balance of power between “employers” and “employees” as freely contracting partners, and allows the easily extorted side to bundle its wage interests in the form of a labor union that can face the power players of “the economy” as a negotiable “collective bargaining partner” – and may only do that; since the interest represented by the labor unions is justifiable only as the dependent variable of a capital accumulation that it must not disrupt. For people who depend on wages, the role they play in the common good is clearly and decisively spelled out in the keyword “jobs”: what they regard as their source of revenue is “created” by the other economic class as a means of its business success – and abolished whenever capitalistically optimized procedures permit, and this is compelled by all the rules of competition. With their entire financial existence, “wage earners” are liable for the competitive successes and failures of those who really decree over jobs – namely, their number and the ratio of wages to work – as a means of their competitive struggle.

The bourgeois state acknowledges that the wage earners have their practical problems with this “situation.” They are therefore encouraged to not give up; the state helps them out with training programs and financial aid; later on, it helps with its unemployment offices ... Almost as a trade-off, however, the “dependent employees,” because they have no other “chance” anyway, should then consider the given supply of jobs to be their chance, make themselves fit for them and, no matter how it turns out, accept that at best it can go as well for them as for others with the tough competing entrepreneurs who need their services. And because the benefits they bring the entrepreneurs are offset by the costs caused by their wages, they should see the money they depend on and may and should be concerned with – this legitimate remnant of their capitalistically distorted and overruled materialism – as both an economic problem and an obstacle to its continued disbursement; as the epitome of economic reason, they should recognize the paradox that the restriction and permanent insecurity of their livelihood is the only conceivable means of securing it, if that is possible at all. Basically, therefore, nothing is sugar-coated; all that is demanded is that those affected adjust themselves correctly to everything – as reality, i.e. that which first and foremost can’t be avoided and second is also okay because it is their right. They may regard their class position, in which being useful to other people’s property is remunerated by remaining poor and not being useful leads to pauperization, as a publicly recognized status which is indispensable for the common good, set in law by the highest authorities, that is to say, completely respectable. When they are proud of this, the bourgeois state has no more complaints about its proletariat.

c) It can hardly be surprising that those who do not merely have the society’s money, but use it capitalistically and set the conditions for every other type of money earning, approve of a state that sets all this up and consequently makes their success the binding guideline of all economic activity. The special closeness of state and economy is noticed in that the owners and managers of money are constantly advising the movers and shakers of the state, as well as supporting lobbies to influence political decision-making, yet never approve of the policies that are made and give free rein to their dissatisfaction: they are sure that their interest is the recognized community concern, so that it is worth it for them to demand an even more diligent handling of their requirements everywhere. The fact that they occasionally come up with general statements about a far too “all-powerful” and “omnipresent” state power only shows that they in all seriousness consider it a scandal if the benefits of state activity are not immediately clear for them.

It is a remarkable political achievement that people who are dependent on wage labor as a source of income conform to a state that makes this revenue dependent on the success of the directly opposing business interest of the money owners as an objectified compulsion, that lets the affected people take the rap for this contradiction and makes no secret about it, but also demands the “conclusion” that, with so much dependence on this, one’s own wage interests can’t be modest enough. After all, the contradiction between the source of revenue and its earnings, between the compulsory interest in earning money and the completely inadequate opportunity to do so, characterizes the lived experience of the class affected by it; the type of message that wage “recipients” may be honorable people with all their quite productive efforts, but are in any case not “the economy,” but rather a single obstacle to its state-desired course with their need for money, virtually spoon-feeds them the answer: this economy can then hardly be their cause and the state with its common good even less so. In fact, there was once a workers’ movement that attempted to correct the mismatch and to force guarantees from the public authorities that would ensure a secure livelihood to wage labor. The bourgeois state, of course, has been much more consistent in regards to this request than the mass of wage earners in generally recognizing it as an attack on its system of revenue sources, and has taken a stand on it with its monopoly on force. After some back and forth[8] , the workers’ movement and its supporters adopted the position that if nothing more than their poor source of income can be obtained in this society or from this state, it must stay that way and docility is called for if the success of the economy – whether the one achieved, the one missing, or the one to be achieved soon, usually all three ... – does not hand out anything more than too little money. What once was perceived as the dictate of an anti-worker power that could be broken by the counter-power of the united workers has now been accepted under the guidance of “rationalized” unions, equipped with restrictive rights and politically integrated as an objective precondition for an honest working life – by those who have to work their way through it. They only want to hear about something like a fundamental antagonism between their need for money and the ruling interest of the money owners in the form of a non-binding complaint; when it comes down to it, they admit that successful business is the indispensable prerequisite for any wage payment, and through this submissive insight they make this hostile condition into the content of their interest as best they can[9]: they hold themselves back, accept cutbacks, fear for the stability of their personal source of revenue, and are uncompromisingly for “their” company and “the economy” making money. For all their concerns about good business activity, they are certainly not spared from finding out that they can’t do anything about it and, even when capital growth is on the rise, their own practical money troubles and worries for their livelihood remain; not even their union gets a lot of attention when it speaks up with constructive ideas about stimulating worker-friendly economic growth and job creation. In line with their accepted dependence on conditions of existence that are anyway beyond their control, such people insist, however, that their having no alternative to reliance on a job should nevertheless be the same as the interest of those who calculate with jobs, and they become avowed partisans of the calculation, which they themselves never carry out, but only pay for. They are ready to address the tone-setting class for whom they merely serve as a paid labor force, or not even that, as “our economy”; they value their profits as “our growth”; they even refer to their business resources and revenues as “our money,” although it really isn’t theirs. They think and act – in addition to the work they have to do and the everyday worries they practically have to cope with – politically, namely to the best of their abilities from the standpoint of the state that has pushed them into their plight and in the name of the common good that promises them nothing but their plight being a recognized right and represents an important part of the system of the money economy. In the end, with the call for “jobs!” they strike a pose of menacing discontent and intransigent demands and ask for only one thing: to be taken into service by the ruling class of employers according to their point of view or to be allowed to make themselves directly useful for the nation; in any case, to be able to remain dependent maneuverable masses.

5. The social state

a) The bourgeois state takes special care of the great majority who are regularly worn out by their involvement in and for “the economy” and returned to their private lives just as poorly provided with money as they entered it: the hardships of this class are its next field of activity.

It is perpetually busy here because it leaves the use and remuneration of labor power to the relative strength between private property in its capacity as the “employer” of the society and the “dependent employees,” which it has enacted in all its unambiguousness and which it protects from system-adverse attempts at correction. The consequences on the side of wage labor fit into two columns, “wear and tear” and “impoverishment”: because the money spent on labor power increases itself on the basis of the work that it extracts, health falls by the wayside in the capitalist production process – unlike in conditions where a “struggle” with nature has not been technically mastered, i.e. not for natural reasons. Because the wage is a sum of money expended with the purpose of bringing in profits and is in itself a cost factor that can be kept to a minimum, it is often barely enough for the livelihoods of those who earn it, and is often not even earned – which leads to a different kind of poverty than a mode of production in which the technical means still do not exist for turning nature into means of subsistence, i.e. one that excludes the workers from the wealth they create. One symptom of this type of poverty is the use of science and technology to cheapen production and mass consumption so that the human body becomes acquainted with completely new diseases: the state focuses its attention on all this – even if mostly only at the insistence of representatives of the interests of the aggrieved parties – and looks after the situation with labor inspectors, social laws, environmental protection, health policies, etc. and thus only becomes a perfect class state which has control over each social class so that it remains what it is and does what it is supposed to do.

That this is the viewpoint from which the bourgeois state intervenes in the “social situation” of those who its free market system turns into “social cases” is showed by the way it organizes this department of its policies. It sets up a health care system that very consistently and very effectively combats the damage to people’s health, namely by delaying those effects of wage labor that make people unfit to earn money. In keeping with the class-specific purpose of the affair, it finances this sector’s services for all those who can’t afford any better by making deductions compulsory from wages paid,[10] thus in practice prescribing “solidarity” to everyone who has to get by on this source of revenue. Following the same pattern, with further compulsorily collected parts of the sum of socially paid wages, a livelihood of sorts is organized for the foreseeable cases when illness, old age, or even a layoff without a new job cause the dependent source of income to dry up. If one believes the socially-minded politicians, then this redistribution of the wage sum is the solution to the “social question” that earlier generations of wage workers addressed to their state power; they found a hearing there, because the usability of the whole class was at stake; it was to be the “price” for “social peace” by which one must obviously imagine the submissiveness of workers who have nothing more to demand than a survival anyway. The whole thing is organized in line with the model of individual risk prevention; the result is that, in case of need, each person has to take care of what he is entitled to by himself and then, according to his previous income, undergo his particular career in impoverishment.

Of course, such precautions do not make the wage suitable for a lifelong livelihood; it does not increase, but becomes, in addition to its other functions, the balance item of the state: into the source of money for the coffers which align the lifelong maintenance costs of labor power with the prices that entrepreneurs are prepared to pay for the “production factor of labor” – at the costs of livelihoods. Active wage “recipients,” and non-active ones even more so, regularly fail at such basic life necessities and tasks as finding housing, starting a family, supporting children, not to mention educating them, etc. The welfare state acknowledges these results as a variety of problem cases which it helps them cope with. It transforms the indigence, the causes of which it sets in motion and maintains, into dependence on its statutory services, which avowedly are not to degenerate into “charity” and must not under any circumstances “stifle” “individual initiative”: those affected must first take care of themselves, make use of all private sources of help, and then audition again with properly filled out applications, something that already severely thins out the crowds and helps the “subsidiarity principle” gain acceptance. Nevertheless, social policy routinely seems quite “out of hand” to those in charge of it. And because this can of course never ever be due to the fact that being forced to live on wage labor leads to an endless variety of existential hardships, the bourgeois welfare state periodically criticizes itself as too luxurious.

If then the economic cycles of business also lead the wage working class’s dwindling incomes to collapse as a source of money and the contributions received no longer fit the established system of calculation and redistribution, then the bourgeois welfare state also once again releases itself bit by bit from the responsibility it has assumed for the forced organization of the survival of the dependent class. It then uses the power over the wage that it has obtained with its deposit system against the wage: in favor of business, on which everything indeed depends, it presses down the total wage sum by manipulating the obligatory contributions and accordingly even further reduces the payments to the needy, whose number rises as a result of the course of business. The supreme power expressly redefines the standard of living that one may hope for with the revenue source of wage labor.

In this way, the welfare state’s cocky self-praise that it has solved and settled the “social question” is replaced with the aggressive confession that it can’t be solved at all under the conditions of its political economy – in fact, it is guaranteed by this economic mode and is a permanent part of the living conditions whose stability the state’s social policy has taken responsibility for. And cutbacks to its responsiveness do not directly impede any state concerns – as would be the case, for example, with shortcomings in questions of “securing business incentives”: the hardships of wage labor are always first and foremost the problem of the people who have to make a living from it, not the state; the boundary where it becomes a problem for the state because the fitness of the class is at stake is also historically redrawn in new historical situations. The main point of the “solution to the social question” remains: poverty is still regulated by the state, so that “social peace” has no chance of getting out of control simply because it is radically cheapened in line with the economic situation.

b) As with everything it does, the bourgeois state regulates support for the needy elements of its class society in legal form: it turns their poverty into a legal status and misery into a recognized claim. It demands neither satisfaction nor gratitude from those affected; they should “merely” accept their assigned legal status and adopt a sense of entitlement that aims at exactly the type and level of support that it has established.

On the one hand, therefore, the “active,” still usable and used labor force must take a positive view of the compulsory contributions that the welfare state deducts from their income; and not only because that’s what the law requires, but above all because they are accumulating personal legal claims for certainly foreseeable cases in which they are incapable of working or unemployed, those unavoidable “vicissitudes” of a wage-dependent existence. At the same time, wage workers are given the free lesson that it is only through dutiful sacrifices that they are entitled to a living in times when they have no income. It is thus tacitly accepted as a completely normal part of bourgeois life that such periods in which wage labor fails as a source of money occur. The discontent still remaining with the duty to fill the coffers of the welfare state from earnings that are already inadequate is guided by invocations of the virtue of solidarity: the system of capitalist competition is not to be blamed, but its current victims; the payer of contributions may revolt against their maintenance – in this way he does not at all question his obligation to contribute, but rather gives moral support to the authors of the whole problem with every austerity measure against those who until recently were themselves contributors and have since then become welfare cases.

For their part, the social cases should view the existence dictated to them by the welfare state as their right, thus accept their poverty in the name of the wretched claims granted to them, and take the standpoint of an entitled boarder of the “community of solidarity.” The state makes it clear to them that they thereby exercise a precious right by imposing a number of duties on them in return; especially in the “careers” of unemployed people, quite a few of the disciplinary imperatives of wage labor are continued. Those who follow these rules should know that they are definitely entitled to claims; that these never aim at anything more than what has been earmarked for the particular case that the welfare state is certain of. Conversely, in return for the sense of entitlement it has conceded, it demands the willingness to put up with deteriorated social benefits when the legislature deems this necessary and adjusts the law accordingly: After all, the needy person, for all his eligibility, is a boarder of the “general public” and as such not only legally but morally in a weak position. And the bourgeois state can’t in any case detect a danger to the “social peace” in its social cases.

c) The addressees of the welfare state’s assistance have enough to do in practice, filling up the social coffers on the one hand and getting their indigence into the prescribed form of legitimate claims on the other. Unfortunately, they mostly remain ideologically biased in these two tasks.

Discontent with the payment of contributions taken by the state does not lead in any case to criticism of the source of income; not of the fact that it has “vagaries” in store which it is insufficient to deal with, nor of the fact that it is already insufficient when it is forced to make provision beforehand for these cases. One knows and accepts the fact that one is dependent on capital for wages, so nothing significant can be changed about its frugal amount; and even though one might try to avoid some of what the state imposes in wage deductions by working under the table – it can’t be refused; quitting a job to collect unemployment would ultimately also be of no use at all; humankind knows the pitfalls of the welfare state system. In the absence of alternatives, the spirit of rebellion among those affected only leads to indignant inquiries about how much is already being debited from paychecks in advance. As for the comforting idea of at least acquiring legal claims for the day it is needed, this never gets bogged down in the hope of being able to have a good life on it some day – everyone knows that it would be unrealistic to expect at least a golden retirement for a life loyally endured as a worker; and nobody thinks this is a criticism of this world. On the contrary: what gets criticized is all those who are suspected of pursuing such plans or even looking for and possibly finding loopholes in the payment of contributions. And the more the welfare state charges, the easier it is to place all those who depend on social state benefits under the suspicion of illegitimately living off those who are so unselfishly doing all the work. The welfare state’s redistribution of earnings and hardships among the wage workers should at least be fair. This is how those who are supposed to give some of the money they don't have criticize their state: for still allowing “the others” too much!

Anyone who then makes it to a case of social state support is certainly less than likely to begin criticizing the system of competition which stereotypically always brings about the same predicaments. Instead, one has to apply for rights on the basis of accrued earnings – the fact that one otherwise has no needs to assert has become so self-evident to friends of a fair burden-sharing that they can’t stand their existence as a burden on the “community” without uncomplainingly boasting about accepted privations and participating in the complaint about cases of unfair preferential treatment that everyone knows. The guideline for legitimate claims is again given by the relevant legislation with its definition of entitlements and conditions for entitlements – the reverse, that the material claims of the needy could be the yardstick for the legislation, occurs to nobody, and would really be contrary to the system. As everyone knows, a legitimate claim follows only from the predicament suffered by definition; once satisfied, it won’t logically be overcome; one would like to be supported in it in order to better cope with it; this is why it often then leads to litigation. One only wants one’s right, and this modest entitlement mentality is far from any rational thinking about the miserable situation in which one finds oneself by no means accidentally and certainly not alone.

All discontent with benefits which still fall far short of what one had modestly hoped for, all criticism of decisions by which one feels wronged, consistently leads to an appeal for review as to whether nothing more is really available according to the legal and financial situation – thus a declaration of dependency. And if the welfare state cuts benefits on a larger scale and does away with the customary system of allowances in order to rescue and secure itself, it does not then reap a challenge from the damaged party, but the deep insight of living in “bad times” from which only everyone should suffer equally. For the victims of the welfare state can hardly be so badly off that they do not know how to boast one more demand: for a socially just power.

6. The treasury

a) The bourgeois state meets its expenses – for the livelihoods of its employees, for the enforcement of the law, for the support of property and the maintenance of wage labor – with the economic means by which it sets up its whole society: with money. It makes all its citizens pay taxes from their incomes – thus some pay for the security of their business, others for the insecurity of their existence.

The expropriation that it carries out here contradicts the purpose of its rule, the promotion of private property; it diminishes the basis for the economic growth that provides the revenue that the state in turn makes use of. This contradiction is unavoidable and is the reason for the perpetual reform efforts that multiply the types of taxes and special regulations, as well as the reason for tapping into credit as a source of financing for the state budget.[11] In this way, the supreme goal of the state, the mobilization of every resource for the increase of capitalistic wealth, becomes a political “objective constraint” that the state power itself must obey: its strength depends on success.

b) With the collection of taxes, the state power comes into direct conflict with the legally-defined materialism of its citizens who are duty-bound to make money. This is why the tax system, even under normal circumstances for the government, regularly becomes something of a test for the monopoly on force. It doesn’t overdo this, on the other hand, but automatically respects the necessity of accommodating those citizens who not only have funds, but also have alternative commercial uses for them, and not only particularly strong motives for evading taxes, but also methods – and their business success matters as well. On the one hand, tax law has the character of a constant haggling over payment obligations and, on the other hand, exemptions or rebates in the interest of economic goals. Insofar as it insists on taxing its money-making elite, the state expects a modicum of tax morality and provides the assistance needed for this with the tax investigation agency.

For the rest, it is easier to collect taxes by deducting it “at the source.” The fact that the citizens who are fleeced in this way have no money to spare is taken into account in the tax rate which the state burdens their income with all the same. In their case, tax morality mainly consists in the right to wish for a fairer distribution of burdens and for success in the fight against tax evasion.

c) For all citizens, regardless of the size of their taxable income, the compulsory aspect of having to hand over money is the occasion and starting point for the most strident criticism of the state – in line with the parliamentary custom of “using the budget debate for a general accounting with government policies.” The minority who have businesses that make the existence of state power always worthwhile comply just like those who are only damaged by the regime of monopolized bourgeois violence: All the right-wingers who disparage the quality of public services, get outraged about government waste, think their state is much too expensive, want proper services, find nothing but bad services, namely for the wrong beneficiaries, fundamentally fail to understand the complicated laws and demand a fairer distribution of the tax quota that never comes about because someone is always looking after number one ... The false materialism, which has long since adapted to the permissible revenue sources of capitalist competition, gets up in arms and rips into the treasury.

In this criticism, for all its volatility, the citizen takes a remarkably affirmative stance toward his income being used as a state resource. First and foremost, his uninhibited groaning about the state and its need for money testifies to how sure he is of his own competitive materialism: he always tries hard to make money and always as much as possible, and every success he achieves makes him not just generally in the right, but of material importance for the supreme power, which can’t do anything without its taxpayers. For the treasury, as everybody knows, a good citizen is someone who has a lot and earns a lot; and this is not only good for the moral self-confidence of the rich, but also proves to those who don’t earn much money that every little bit they earn proves them to be citizens with the character that “the general public” needs and values. Of course, this notion of an almost objectively compelled harmony between each person’s private materialism and their public-legal materialism stands, of course, in a certain contradiction to its starting point: the appropriation of private means by the state. However, the self-confident taxpayer certainly does not lower himself to admitting the real relation between these interests, the gouging state power and the fleeced individual. He prefers to believe that, in collecting taxes, the state power is, for its part, acknowledging its dependence on his economic success, and he challenges the right of the authorities to take away from this and to make deductions from the earnings of all honest money makers.[12] This is how the clever subject reverses the logic of conditions by which the state power decrees that he concede its unconditional priority as the indispensable condition for him to pursue his interests.

Of course, this can only be idealistic; in practice, the state collects the taxes and only annoys its most important money earners by reducing their assets. In regards to the sums taken, however, even the simple taxpayer retains at least a memory of the private power of money, which otherwise everything in the world – including himself! – is subjected to: Following the logic of the bindingly valid price form, set in force and law by the state itself, he “infers” from the money given away that he has acquired a claim against the state, and imagines himself in a position of power towards his own rulers. This too is a particularly stupid delusion insofar as the state power proves just how little it is subject to the power of money which it itself establishes and how easily it is able to expropriate the private property that it institutionalizes. It really is impossible to overlook the fact that paying taxes is not a purchase and not at all the result of making a calculation with a need and one’s own ability to pay, but rather a tribute to the rule that takes for itself. But that’s why the self-confidence of the tax-paying citizen just resorts all the more emphatically to the imaginary calculation that enters tax payments in the books as a quasi-business expenditure and fails to see a return in the form of positive state compensations. The decisive factor in this calculation is not the well-meaning advice on how to improve the budgetary situation and performance of the supreme power, which is achieved at best in the spirit of constructive criticism. Its irresistible appeal for honest taxpayers lies in the fact that it ideally downgrades the state to a service providing company in view of the costs it imposes on its subjects. Rule is reinterpreted as if it were self-evident that it is a public service much like garbage collection; the political power, subsumed under the price form in view of the expropriated money, is regarded as almost a commodity; civic obedience appears to those who have to carry it out as a solvent demand for useful services. The slightly different reality, which can hardly be ignored in practice, is strictly interpreted further along this line and processed in the absurd grievance that public services leave much to be desired; as if the dutiful citizen has to deal with a defaulting and particularly inept contractual partner. [13] In this way, against all realities, the fantasy of being the real master of the situation as a taxpayer is maintained. From this point of view, in the name of the skewed relationship between private service and political remuneration, the damaged materialism of good citizens is even open to practical findings: If they have any opportunity, they evade taxes; because they usually have no opportunity, they are at least happier and gloat when others also have no chance and the few real, not-just-thinking-about-it tax evaders are caught; on the whole, they are quite inclined to regard fraud at the tax office as a fundamentally not unjustified attempt at indemnity and as a “trivial offense.”

The same calculation has, however, another, more conciliatory side: the rejection of fiscal access ultimately never applies – with a few extremist exceptions – to the state’s overall money need, but to an imagined excess and disproportion. The most critical taxpayers recognize that the state certainly needs it and that they have to pay for it, and from this loyal concession they make another facet of their cocky self-confidence: because the state has them pay for everything it has to do, they also feel to that extent responsible for everything it does, in no other capacity than that of the fleeced taxpayer. Because they are materially affected by everything that happens politically, they consider everything that involves their state, simply and in a tangibly material sense, to be their concern, and see themselves as the actual subject of all state concerns, tribulations, and deeds. In this way, the inspection of state activities under the viewpoint of the price paid for them, despite all the grumbling about the wastefulness and dilatoriness of public services, welds the citizen as a self-confident financial resource of his rule together with the national cause.

So it’s no wonder the politicians don’t dampen down the taxpayer’s criticism of the state, let alone ban it as an attack on the constitutional system, but instead calculatingly add fuel to it themselves. They are certain that the delusion of being a financier of power and, as such, important unites the citizens with the state much more thoroughly than the complaint about unredeemed rights to state services can divide them from it. They know that a taxpayer who so proudly insists on the state power’s dependence on his revenue adheres one hundred per cent to the money-making materialism that they, as administrators of the market economy, want him to, and he strives for it. And above all, they immediately notice how easy it is to steer indignation about incorrectly assessed, incorrectly distributed and incorrectly used tax burdens – always toward the very programs they want to carry out; be it to “save taxpayers’ money” by making life even worse for those whose poverty has been transformed by the welfare state into dependency; be it to spend money on whatever in order to meet the “legitimate demands of the taxpayers”: Precisely because there is no real price-service equation in their occupation, they are not obligated to anything specific by taxpayers' complaints if they agree with them, but empower themselves thereby to freely use the “argument” that their use of power is exclusively for the satisfaction of those who pay for it.

In an absolutely ideal manner, the figure of the taxpayer unites the reality of the money sovereignly used by the state with the fiction of sovereign, because paying, customers of the state power. Decent citizens love to recognize themselves in it; and every statesman knows what a gift this is.

7. Democracy

a) The bourgeois state periodically allows its subjects to assume no less a role than that of the real sovereign and decide on the state power. Of course, not on what constitutes the basis and content of the bourgeois reasons of state; from the monopoly on the use of violence to money and taxes, no purpose and no means of state power is left up to the citizens. Instead, there are alternatives in the exercise of power, namely personnel, to choose from: in the form of its decision makers, the bourgeois state puts its rule up for negotiation.

It thus distinguishes, in an organized form, between the state power and its office holders, between those who are delegated to govern the nation and those who delegate them. It subjects the power-holders to interchangeability[14]; not, however, in the sense that it would not still be a question of the persons, but with exactly the opposite tendency: the decision over the personnel proves precisely that the people are sovereign and that the state power submits to them. What is to be decided is not just an impersonal question of staffing, the search for a suitable functionary for a social function, but the appointment of ruling personnel – meaning: people who have power over everybody else and exercise it according to their sovereign discretion; a power that is by no means diminished by the fact that it lays down so broadly what it is based on and what its exercise is about. Democracy makes no secret of the fact that it assigns the political leadership that the normal person has to follow: on the contrary, it emphasizes this when it offers the election decision to the citizens as the supreme act that makes them the true sovereign in the last instance.

However, this decision is wisely organized so that it can’t do anything other than enthrone a leadership – or vice versa: submission to the power that the elected officials then hold and therefore submission to the elected officials who then hold this power. Because what democracy declares to be separably connected and periodically puts up for decision is really only the occupancy of office. That the holder of the office has power over people is not up for debate, and certainly not what this power if for, but is rather presupposed, not merely tacitly, as the most obvious thing in the world. This is supposed to make the question of office occupancy so important – and at the same time so largely irrelevant because, apart from the figure who holds it, it guarantees nothing will change in the rule. That is precisely the achievement of the bourgeois state power, that it is defined by a complete catalog of tasks and these are specified to the governing as well as the governed as objective reasons of state, in other words, takes away any arbitrariness. The citizens’ electoral decision rescinds and dissolves the one difference, namely between office and person, which the democratic state periodically opens in order to allow its subjects to close it in an act of free decision. The democratic vote then also inevitably establishes this identity of state power and power holder, and indeed remarkably unequivocally: it does not attach any demands or conditions to the assignment of power – such a thing is left completely up to the pact-making coalition partners or the internal rivalries and power struggles of those elected. The vote is not merely incapable of giving any tasks to the rulers, but is, in its entire construction, a single precaution against any possible demands or conditions being drawn from its outcome. Other than awarding the office, the vote does nothing else at all; it can’t even not award it.

With this democratic event, the bourgeois state gives its rule a real basis in the free will of its subjects without putting it at risk and making it subject to any decision which could also go against it.[15] The monopolist on political power fends off anything that calls into question its “basic principles,” any doubts about its sovereign rule and juridical standards, all objections against its “reason.” However, it is not enough that its will faces the subjects and they merely give in, whether out of respect for its power, whether out of the false reasons it offers for its actions which are simply met with approval or not. The bourgeois state assures itself of its people – and of course presupposes their agreement with the interpretations and language rules that go along with its politics – by differentiating itself as an institutionalized, “objective” rule from the figures who personify its will; namely, in such a way that it instructs its subjects to repeatedly establish the identity between the institutionalized will of the state and its personification; with the aim and the result that they confront the real will of the state, that is, the one realized by the leadership personnel, as the work of their own will – which, in regards to the personnel, it in fact is. In any other regard, it is not; the free voter’s decision contributes nothing to the formulation of fixed state goals and tasks; anything else would be incompatible with the sovereign rule which the bourgeois state establishes and which does not tolerate any relativization in the wishes of the citizens. However, by presenting its people with the government administration as elected by them, it uses the free will of the people themselves for its sovereign work, which is fundamentally emancipated from any consideration of social needs, as not merely the ideal but real customer who makes and carries out decisions. The freedom of the government is now based on this will, no longer on the monopoly of violence: the state power is empowered by the people – without anyone but the really existing monopolist of violence having any real power. [16]

b) With the democratic procedure, the bourgeois state subjects its own functionaries to restrictive conditions: The authorization of the respective administrations are limited in time; they have to be subjected to scrutiny by the governed and periodically put up for a popular vote: there is no talk of the voters’ demands; their business is to freely decide, nothing else. It is anyway assumed that they will form their critical opinions about public affairs and about the rulers who are responsible for everything. Their judgement, their criticism is given space and an opportunity to become practical and to influence the course of political affairs.

What this influence looks like is, of course, already clear: a government will emerge from it; whether it is the old one or a new one. Whether this is the effect that the citizen expects from his vote is entirely up to his expectations: It is up to the voter to form his judgement so that it matches the result and he can see it as a contribution; the election that has taken place becomes the realization of his criticism and political intentions.

This is normally not considered an achievement of the voters worth mentioning. It is quite simple – if the voting citizen already thinks about himself and his property, about law and justice, about economic growth and jobs, about social security contributions and taxes and public affairs in the same way as the state authority presents him with these achievements of its political economy: as “the reality” that the individual has to adapt to, whose requirements he must meet, and from which he can expect, after dealing with these, some help from the state in line with his selfless contributions. This attitude, and only this one, offers an appropriate view of the responsible movers and shakers of the bourgeois world; because they are concerned with all the conditions of existence that private life is made dependent on, they are regarded as advocates of the dependent people when they look after their business: the state power on which everything depends. Anyone who thinks this way – and only this way – is able to consider the democratic voting options as the alternative they can’t miss out on.

At least, this is the standpoint that people must first take, that is, away from the “worm’s-eye view” of their practical everyday worries and view them with the eyes of those who are responsible for causing them. They must understand that the world which their state has established is not there to satisfy their needs and concerns, but that they must adapt their interests and intentions to the requirements of the law, to what is economically feasible, to the state’s budgetary status, etc. etc.; they must recognize the good of the state as a condition of their existence and make it the primary content of their will.

In order to bring about this change of perspective, the bourgeois state makes an offer out of it, as it does with all its demands: The politicians who run for government leadership agitate in their election campaigns for their own view of things, and so in this sense for the correct one. They explain to their constituents the problems they have as rulers with the hardships and claims of the masses, thus inviting everyone to view themselves and others of their kind from very high on up as problem cases. But they also remind them of all the worries they are preparing for members of their community with their policies in order to come back to the state power as a support agency and to promote a better use of power, namely by themselves. They turn to the people, seek them out ideologically and even literally in their everyday lives; not to renounce the standpoint of government power and to make the ruined materialism of their addressees their concern, but in order to swear them in to their political standpoint. They promise the voters that they will adapt state power to their legitimate interests and thereby make clear which demands the voters have to adapt their interests to and where they must direct them so that they can be considered legitimate. They outdo each other in promising to help push through the will of the citizens – a will that in the end really wants nothing more than good government.

The parties are agencies of this will-formation process. Their pluralism goes back to their history: some originate from the decision of a ruling elite to take the risk and allow the governed masses to give electoral approval of state power; others have amalgamated the discontent of the less well-off people to the request to be given fair consideration and political recognition in the class state, and first had to work out political versions of this demand to become “capable of governing,” i.e. eligible as an alternative set of rulers. Since then, they all demand the same mature voters, offer them the same path from politicized discontent to critical engagement for the national cause, compete to “define the issues” by which they can make themselves “stand out,” and as “people’s parties of the center” have freed voting from the risk and the delusion that the citizens could vote for a “different republic” designed according to their wishes with the ballot.[17] Their agitation for – or against – an “orientation” and differing “environmental programs” illustrate alternatives that are entirely personnel-related.

With this offer to decide nothing more than between competing leadership figures, the democratic construction of the citizen’s will arrives at the purpose of the whole event and attains perfection: All efforts to turn private concerns – from taxes, economic cycles, health damages to whatever else – into worries about the state power and its successful exercise are immediately summed up in a statement on the one and only question, namely the personnel question, that democracy declares its citizens competent and sovereign over. A person is expected to have gotten over all the relevant misses and to be so politicized in how he perceives his interests that he is able to decide on the personnel in power according to the criterion of character preferences.[18] Hence the parties in charge of the state get right to the point of democracy’s call to its voting-eligible subjects: they have to prove themselves to be accomplices of the state power by answering an open question that the bourgeois state specifically raises with its democratic procedure in order to justify its rule over people as their own free decision because the people answer it in the election that takes place.

For all this, of course, there remains a residual risk that the wrong alternatives may arise again and again and that parties may find supporters and voters who, by abusing democratic freedoms or even with the best of intentions, oppose the valid reasons of state, even if only in sub-points. This risk always exists because the parties of the democratic “constitutional spectrum” see a danger to the nation in every crisis-laden change in the usual course of state and economic affairs, insist on and are prone to tough crackdowns on dubious elements and no longer respect their opponents as congenial competitors but consider them to be a public menace that really wants a “different republic” and must be fought accordingly. Democrats are very sensitive here; that’s why they are are quick to take precautions to protect themselves and grant the state power, when they find it necessary, freedom to appropriately restrict the election whims of its citizens by banning parties or even suspending elections altogether.

But wherever and as long as this risk of divergent positions is under control, democracy self-confidently puts up with it and cares all the more about counteracting incorrect politicizations; the periodic election campaigns offer occasions and opportunities for this again and again. And even in between, the state does not leave its subjects unguided: its free media publicizes the official interpretation of every situation along with the democratically competing assessments, accompanies this with its own commentary from the standpoint of valid state necessities, fits dissenting opinions in, and accustoms the public to considering overall world events always and in general in terms of the successes and tribulations of national power and its holders, and under this viewpoint jiggles them on the “popularity scale” and the “opinion poll.” For this achievement, the business of information, entertainment and opinion-forming is rightly ranked the “fourth estate” among the indispensable institutions of democracy.

Despite everything, the citizen still has the unpopular freedom of skipping the whole democratic supplementary event and refusing or even ignoring this act of approval. The representatives of the state power therefore encourage participation and openly admit that they are not concerned with a civil liberty that no reasonable person would pass up, but with the fulfillment of a duty that the decent citizen owes to his state because it can show this type of consideration for the free will of its subjects.[19] The citizen has to earn the favor of being consulted and recruited by his state’s need for legitimation by being willing to give the requested answer: this is how democrats fess up to the purpose of the whole procedure.

c) The democratic worry about whether the citizens will prove worthy of their right to vote and exercise it on a mass scale is dispelled as soon as elections are scheduled: for a decent result, any rate of participation is sufficient.

It is by no means the case in a modern democracy that the people have a good opinion of their role as a periodically recurring, “true” sovereign. The democratic consensus is more likely to include contempt for the “election circus”; and no mature citizen wants to be so “wide eyed” that he would trust “those up there” to do much more than “what they want to do anyway.” Such disparaging judgments about the top personnel, however, reflect above all the certainty that one must obey them anyway and in any case. Denying that certain people are fit to rule is a permissible boldness which gets its confidence entirely from a respectful view of the office and its power. The indicators which are supposed to speak against certain candidates reflect the standards of a political personality cult which claim a right to admiration where obedience is called for. The decisive criterion, which does not make most politicians look so bad at all, is the pure goodness of power: the “strong man” who proves his strength above all by not letting himself be impressed in the least by the accusations of his opponents and by the nagging of the voters and who makes the bigger impression, thus already exhibits as a candidate the sovereignty he will then have as an elected leader – if he has already been elected to power somewhere, so much the better. The people, so unenthusiastic about their democratic freedoms, think of their state in as fundamentally affirmative, submissive and loyal a way as democracy could only require of its voters.

That’s why the majority is not at all guilty of participating in the periodic “circus” at all. Even people at the local bar who, having studied the muckraking papers extensively, see “nothing but bums” in the political arena will think of important differences on election day. They coin their misgivings in the phrase about “lesser evils” so that after the election they get a government in their own name that decrees with the force of law everything that the state needs.


[1] Logically, this elementary truth is most evident in efforts to (re)establish bourgeois states which by no means all belong to the past: People who want to launch a new rule of their own against an existing state power with people who they ideally claim to be their people, have and see no other means than to open the competition for force over the masses; as soon as they have succeeded, their terrorism turns into a state power and the perpetrators and victims of civil war become a real, new people. In cases in which an old state power is dissolved – such as happened to the creations of real socialism – in order to be newly established as a bourgeois one, there routinely are “forces” who grasp that the state power itself and especially its reach is at stake, and who newly pose the question who belongs to which people and which people under which authority; in practice, the dispute is opened, carried out, and decided as a competition for the monopolization of force.

[2] This is usually overlooked when a bourgeois state – the American government, for example, as a prototype of such a community – is credited with the philanthropic achievement of having made the private “pursuit of happiness” a state purpose. The very fact that an entire state power has taken up this concern makes it hard to overlook that the general permission to strive for one’s happiness includes a condition that has validity because the ruling power decrees and enforces it. This condition is what is being talked about here.

[3] This was vividly demonstrated by the efforts of the former real socialist states to introduce “the market economy” before the end of the last century. The subjugation of national societies under the principle of private property allowed none of the produced use values that had been accumulated under the conditions of the former “planned and managed economy” to continue to count as wealth, namely as a material resource of society; the entire old system’s social division of labor, which functioned in its own way despite all its shortcomings, was destroyed by this. Private property is not a trusty tool for making work more efficient and distributing its products more conveniently, but rather a very special definition of wealth and a very exclusive premise for social production – the type of which is by no means exhaustively presented in the following.

[4] This “picture” is so alien to normal perception that jurisprudence, being well-informed about the laws, and the habit of subsuming real events under circumstances defined by the law, have even gained the reputation of being something like a science: In truth, it is the opposite: it does not reveal the concept of a thing and its reasons, but takes all the relationships that people enter into with one another and overlays them with a schematism that sees the abstract free will of competing private subjects at work everywhere. The fact that something like this is respected as an intellectual achievement shows, among other things, how little is really “natural” about the world of state-controlled competition – and how vehemently the bourgeois state still insists on displaying this construct of its force as the deeper truth and inner logic of “human social relations.”

[5] Prohibitions and threats of punishment only apply to behavioral patterns which are customary in a society because they follow the “logic” that the ruling power has imposed on its subjects for the pursuit of their material interests. What the law punishes is precisely the behaviors that it sets in law as legally standardized. That’s why the legislature in its criminal law can so reliably anticipate all the evils that its subjects will resort to: it is in fact only what it wants from them, without the barrier that it sets, namely its restriction on force.

[6] Exactly the same, i.e. objectively the reverse, holds for the use of the “human rights argument” in foreign policy: the states that use it refer to their principles of rule, namely to the content of their sovereign power – designated by “human” as its essence and right; in doing so, they ideologically deny the sovereignty of the powers they use it against and complain about respect for rights which they assign.

[7] The other, third revenue source of capitalist society is the private ownership of land, for the use of which it levies a tribute in money on capital. All other legal earnings are variants of wage labor or functional services whose payment is arranged by the state.

[8] The “history of the workers' movement” is not a glorious chapter in this respect: in the struggle for “the worker” – that is, not someone who sees himself in terms of his contradictorily constructed material interests as a poorly treated part of class society, but someone who defines himself in terms of his official authorization as a national status and acknowledges his political recognition with loyalty to the state – it has become more and more apparent that not much more was required than a bit of honor and a home for well-behaved service providers; in any case, nothing more has come of it. Incidentally, the fascists in general and the Nazis in Germany in particular played an important role in this outcome, both in terms of the course of the struggle and in terms of the offer of a political home for the working class in the “lap” of the nation.

[9] Since then, that is, after the triumph of democracy & market economy over east bloc socialism was complete, the eager hypocrisy in the basic programs and self-definitions of the labor unions have gone out of fashion – first conjuring up the yearning for fundamental alternatives and announcing to capital a proletarian countervailing power before getting down to the nitty-gritty, recognizing “the realities,” taking “economically feasible” measures and allowing all discontent to lead to requests that those with real power consult them on almost an equal basis and appreciate them as a force crucial for the stability of the system. The commitment to a mode of production that is optimal for a market economy as well as to wage labor is now clearly spelled out and replaces the fictitious character who feigns resignation to a temporary balance of power; the program then bargains from these viewpoints and with language rules which further perfect the adaptation of wage workers to the intensified conditions of today’s economic growth.

[10] These remarks refer to examples of welfare state institutions in the “Modell Deutschland” in which the reunited whole of Germany finds an enormous amount to restructure and dismantle. What is essential, however, is not the modalities, but the principle of making a living for the whole “dependently employed” social class out of the incomes of its wage-earning part. Of course, the same result can also be arranged so that the part that is not employed is left to their private savings and some charity – the fact that a labor movement once resisted doesn’t mean that it has to keep on resisting or that the welfare state can’t declare its concern for the usability of the working class to be quite unnecessary.

[11] The political use of credit, the creation of which is guaranteed in the final instance by the state power itself, is part of the catalog of its essential tasks, and even a decisive instrument of its economic policy: the people are enlisted for this too and, on the side, educated as citizens. However, the explanation this requires is outside the scope of this preliminary remark. For the remainder, refer to GegenStandpunkt, which deals with this subject on an ongoing basis.

[12] In a large democratic country that has made capitalistic success into a human right of its inhabitants, that is, has elevated the “pursuit of happiness” in the form of money to a constitutional level, a few citizens who are competing and making money as ordered get seriously radical when they are asked by their state to pay, and as a “free people” refuse to be fiscally expropriated in any way. Out of the delusion of being unconditionally right as private property owners and, even without authority, top-notch US citizens, they develop an outright tax-refusing anarchism and skirmish with the federal authorities who want to teach them about the state power that lies behind their self-earned dollars.

[13] By the way, the indestructible conviction of the decent citizen that state officials are notorious lazybones stems from this taxpayer’s logic; it is also the source of the verdict that has solidified into a fixed idea, that state enterprises are fundamentally sluggish and moreover inferior to and more expensive than private ones, and that is why all state evils should be cured by privatization.

[14] Of course, even in the worst dictatorship, the power of the state is not really permanently identical with the person of the ruler; the rule and its functionaries are always separably related. Democracy does not leave the divorce between office and person to the whims of nature – or a revolt of the governed – but explicitly defines it as a characteristic of the office and makes the interchangeability of leadership personnel into an institution in its own right. Its purpose is the issue here.

[15] This, of course, assumes that the rule is consolidated. Democratic elections are out of place wherever a state does not function so perfectly that an election is really limited to a choice of personnel, but a debate exists over how it should be governed and what should be governed at all – by the way, that’s the assessment of their most uncompromising supporters themselves who, on the other hand, find nothing wrong with demanding that elections be held anyway and find it reprehensible when they are called off. In fact, they pose a risk to the state in such cases because they are attached to power struggles of a harsher kind, namely for the establishment or orientation of state power itself, and not merely intrigues between interchangeable leaders, and election campaigns take the character of civil wars. Democratic elections in this sense do not take place at all.

[16] When democrats call on other nations which do not function in this way to introduce democratic procedures, they usually have in mind the toppling of the power ruling there and rarely make a secret of their imperialist interest – the democratic additional event is in fact incompatible with anything other than bourgeois relations of rule; sole validity is therefore claimed for them. Sometimes, however, the political scolds do not want any alternative rule at all, can’t think of any better policies for the other country that would be more beneficial for them, do not form alliances with the cause of an oppressed opposition party, if it exists at all. They are simply concerned about the real purpose of democracy, which they openly dedicate themselves to, namely what it does for the state: there must be an election whereby the government has more than the mere power it can summon. They are, of course, concerned with this purpose in an idealistically twisted form, as if through the democratic process, the orderly conditions could be created that it actually presupposes. Democratic imperialists, when it matters to them, confidently ignore the impossibility of getting the stability needed to make a popular will out of an election with an election, just as they do the fact that what they want from other nations without democratic stability is completely incompatible with orderly bourgeois relations of rule in these nations.

[17] Among democrats, the similarity between the party programs, evidenced by the rejection of all “extremes” and by the ability and willingness of all political associations to form coalitions with each other when necessary, is virtually regarded as a criterion of a nation’s political maturity. Conversely, a state power seems unstable to them as long as rival parties do not agree on the list of tasks for the state power they seek. In fact, the monopoly on force is not finished or annulled when there is competition over the substance that should be given to it. This competition is then no longer a civil election campaign, but a power struggle of a harsher kind; it demands that people decide between power centers that are opposed to each other, that is, between incompatible loyalties; it gets correspondingly rougher, that is, more like war. There are gradations of all kinds between these state relations and those that are democratically established.

[18] It is a completely mistaken idea that election campaigns are “non-political” and contribute to the “de-politicization of the people” when they use all the tools of the cult of personality to try to produce a positive judgment of taste about their own candidate and a negative one about the opponent. Sympathy or antipathy does not go out to the person, but to the person as power-holder, i.e. the idea of such a person as ruler: they do not merely presuppose recognition of state power and the concern that it remain in the “right” hands, but is the content. The considerations that influence this political judgment of taste don’t matter because it is only important that they lead to this judgment. In this respect, the “good impression” made by one of the candidates’ manners or eloquence or family life is just as political as the trust in fair regulations or tax policies presented by a party.

[19] The pithiest summary of this beautiful clarification is offered by the democratic platitude: “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” In order to be allowed to be discontent with one’s state, one must have helped it into a government: Anyone who has not embraced this and proved his loyalty to the state has no legitimacy; whereas for someone who has done his duty, no problem arises from his discontent: he can be relied on... This democratic maxim is not too far from the old real socialist slogan which democratic countries always held up as epitomizing the undemocratic nature of the enemy system: “Voting is devotion!”