Freedom and equality Ruthless Criticism

Freedom and equality

To the subjects of earlier times – the Roman slave, the medieval serf, the lawless masses of imperial Germany, the national comrades of fascism – two gifts were not granted by their rule, which democratic rule allows its subjects: freedom and equality. The countless expressions of thanks which are due– and which are recited by the rulers themselves in the form of politicians, representatives of business and science and the “fourth estate,” and whereby the common people are given the role of pious audience – insist merely on an infinite loop of affirmations that these are great gifts, and that one should always be aware of how lucky one is to have such a generous state.

At this point, one must become pensive: If the rule praises itself for these fundamental rights, then it also conversely says: it can also take them away. What the citizens do and are allowed to do is always an act of permission. And if the rule grants these fundamental rights to its citizens, this does not happen simply out of a fit of generosity – the rule thinks of itself and pursues its own purposes with these fundamental rights. Therefore the question: freedom and equality – what are they really?

Concerning freedom, Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everybody has the right to . . . the free development of his personality”; or popularly expressed: “Every man is the maker of his own fortune.” But how does one develop his personality and make his own fortune? One cannot live on air and love, as everybody knows; one needs sturdier things. These are there to be bought, which means: they are the property of someone else, one is excluded from them. To get this property, one needs money – and one gets money only if one has property that one can exchange. Indeed, without money one can talk a lot about freedom, but one canʼt get oneʼs life together. One must exercise oneʼs freedom in order to make money – all “free development of the personality” begins with it. Said differently: precious “freedom” is absolutely worthless if it doesn't serve an economic compulsion. One must ensure one possesses oneʼs own means: the nice offer to “make oneʼs fortune” is in reality the obligation to cultivate oneʼs means by oneʼs own free will and on oneʼs own feet, so that one can live on it, thus to get money. Whoever doesnʼt do this, or canʼt do this, receives an assistance for squalor which contains a clear message: you have not done justice to the compulsion, so you deserve no more than a survival in squalor – be grateful for this mercy because you do not even deserve it.

An estimated 95 percent of the population consists of people who own one special means for making money: themselves – and nothing else. Sure, they have a car or even a house, call that their property and are more or less happy with it, but they cannot make their own fortune with it. We should say: they can not use it for monetary acquisition, but can only use it up and must constantly replenish it. In order to get the goods which are of vital importance, they are forced, for their whole lives, to bring themselves to the market. They must act in all seriousness as if they themselves were a commercial item, an alienable property which is worth money for somebody else. One calls this work – and this is a very peculiar “free development of the personality.” For someone who has only himself to offer, success or ruin depends on finding someone who is interested in the use of this property, which is referred to as an “employable person.” Someone is interested in this property if it augments his property. This potential buyer is called an “employer,” which is an appropriate designation: the employer faces people who can do nothing other than work – but a work that brings in money, on which they are completely dependent, but which they themselves can not provide; working in the garden or the basement hobby room brings in nothing , because nobody pays for it. Only an entrepreneur can provide work which pays money, and he provides it for a reason which everybody knows: the augmentation of his property, and for that he pays a wage. This is why time and again the entrepreneur does not provide work when this condition is not met. Of course, the wage is not provided in accordance with what the worker needs; even more certainly, it is not there to give him the best life possible. In fact, for the employer it is a cost factor which he indeed must use for the augmentation of his property, but which he therefore holds as low as possible.

The property, with which everybody acquires his money completely freely, has two thoroughly different faces.

1. For one it means – as Marx expressed it – carrying his hide to the market with the result that he is lucky if he finds a buyer, and even luckier if this submission under the proprietary interest of someone else lasts for a while, i.e. if he can carry his hide to the market over and over again. He who is compelled to market himself as a property owner can never be a real property owner.

2. A real property owner does not work, but rather allows others to work. He has money and utilizes the dependent existence of others on work for the purpose of monetary acquisition to increase his own money. At the same time, he obeys another compulsion: namely the fact that his property must constantly increase. This compulsion to constantly increase his wealth places him against his equals in the competition, and his “free development of personality” consists in not being overtaken by other money-increasers and therefore being excluded from this competition.

The capitalist, because it is he who is spoken of here, glories in the claims by everyone wanting him only “to create jobs” – one can believe this or not, but it says in any case: there are no jobs other than by capitalistic calculations, the vast rest of ordinary humanity are dependent on them, this is their only chance of acquiring money. This brutality, which is socially institutionalized in capitalism – namely, that the large majority have to treat themselves as a means of moneymaking, in which the opposite side finds the means to increase the money which it already has – is firmly upheld in the second fundamental right:

Equality: here we are dealing with two profoundly different, indeed opposite, social characters: on the one side, the type of property owner who owns nothing but their ability to work, and on the other side, the type of property owner who disposes over an entire production relation, one which they command in order to increase in their own wealth. However, the state declares: here everyone is equal. It considers and treats everyone as its citizens who are all – “without preferential treatment” – equally of great value to it. This is universally seen as a great advance, but in truth it skips over the fundamental economic difference between citizens, and it is the stateʼs decree: everybody has to manage with the means over which he disposes – and it therein recognizes everyone equally. It is therefore the state which makes the “working population” carry their hides to the market and spend their whole lives doing so. And in this way it guarantees for the real property owners that this human material, which serves the augmentation of their property, is to be found. Freedom and equality – these are the fundamental rights which dictate and consolidate a class society.

Of course, this is not accomplished by writing paragraphs into the law. In order for them to be obeyed, force is required.