The Religion of Capital
by Paul Lafargue
|What follows is the English translation of
La Religion du Capital, a bitingly funny satire written by Paul
in 1887. The translation you see here was done by the Socialist Labor
New York Labor News Company in 1918, and the interested reader should
that it was a somewhat loose translation. For more information about
and about Lafargue, please check out the
Kersplebedeb Paul Lafargue Page
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THE LONDON CONGRESS
The progress of Socialism is to such an extent disturbing the peace of
of the property-holding classes on both sides of the Atlantic that
the coronation ceremonies a large number of capitalists, together with
helpers, gathered from all nations in a Congress at London, to
upon the best means whereby to check the ominous growth of Socialism.
Prominent among the representatives of the British capitalist class
Premier Balfour, Lord Rosebery, Joseph Chamberlain and Rothschild.
William could not come in person, but he was represented by his
Prince Henry, who, together with the anti-Semite Ahlwardt and the
Bleichroeder, Eugene Richter, and many other German prominencies,
the Empire. France, Austria, Spain, Russia and all the other
nations also had full delegations.
Strongest of all, however, was the representation of the capitalist
of the United States. Among the official prominencies were the
Judge Brewer of the United States Supreme Court, and the Democratic
Barrett of the New York Supreme Court, Judges Ricks, Taft and Billings;
Reid and Perry Belmont, Thomas C. Platt, the Republican, and William C.
the Democratic boss; Mark Hanna, Tom L. Johnson, Prof. George Gunton
Carroll D. Wright. Then there were several members of the Vanderbilt
J. Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, John Wanamaker, George Gould
Chauncey M. Depew. Besides these, quite a number of gentlemen of the
thronged the aisles: The Rev. Morgan Dix of the New York Trinity Church
the Rev. J. Minot Savage conspicuous among them. There were also Prof.
Adler, Prof. George D. Herron, Hugh O. Pentecost, President Harper of
University, President Eliot and Prof. Peabody of Harvard, Prof. E.R.A.
of Columbia and numerous other minor professional luminaries. Last and
least in the assemblage were Samuel Gompers, John Mitchell and other of
Hanna’s labor lieutenants.
Never before had the spectacle been seen of so many people,
what is generally imagined to be hostile and irreconcilable views,
from such different points of the compass shaking hands as friends. The
J. Minot Savage tapped Hugh O. Pentecost familiarly on the shoulder;
Rosebery and Chamberlain chatted pleasantly together; Carroll D. Wright
Prof. Gunton were splitting their sides over some statistical tables
published by themselves; William C. Whitney and Thomas C. Platt
each other with humorous incidents of their respective political
Ahlwardt and the Jewish capitalist Bleichroeder treated each other to
the Rev. Morgan Dix, who was engaged in the pleasant pastime of footing
the rentals drawn by the Trinity Church Corporation through the
dens, tenement houses, grog shops and houses of prostitution located on
estate, was noticed not to mind being disturbed by Prof. Felix Adler,
whom he soon fell to laughing and joking. The cause that had brought
these people together suppressed their personal animosities, hushed
national antipathies, and established a common bond among all.
The Rev. Morgan Dix opened the deliberations with this allocution to
“Man is governed by both spiritual and physical forces. Until recently,
thing that we called religion was the mystic force that swayed the
of men; it enjoined submission from the workers; it taught, and managed
induce them to give up the substance for the shadow; to forget their
misery in dreams of a heavenly happiness. But Socialism, this evil
of modern days, announces that it will establish paradise on earth, and
the desire of enjoying life on this, instead of on the other side of
grave. With its pestiferous voice, Socialism shouts into the ears of
wage-workers: ‘You are being robbed; rise and free yourselves!’ It is
these means slowly making the once submissive and patient working
ripe for rebellion, to the end of putting aside the privileged classes,
their wealth from the rich and giving it to the poor, overthrowing
disbanding the family, destroying art and sciences and reintroducing
on earth. How is this enemy of civilization and progress to be fought?
are the weapons we should take up against Socialism? Prince Bismarck,
the arbiter of Europe, the modern Nebuchadnezzar, who overran Denmark,
and France, was overcome by a lot of Socialist shoemakers and tailors.
French conservatives massacred, in 1848 and 1871, thousands upon
of Socialists and turned Paris into a mammoth shambles, but out of the
of those wholesale butcheries Socialism has since sprung up in all
After every slaughter, Socialism rises with increased strength. This
has withstood the test of brute force. What is to be done ?”
Thereupon, one after another, the philosophers and freethinkers present
and proposed, in elaborate addresses, that Socialism be curbed by
The Rev. J. Minot Savage and his friends tried to listen to these
with composure, but one of them could finally not contain himself, and
impatiently: “It is your accursed science that furnishes Socialism with
most trenchant arguments.”
“You are ignorant of the natural philosophy that we teach,” retorted
of the followers of Herbert Spencer. “Our theory of evolution teaches
the low social status of the working class is the inevitable result of
laws of nature; and that the privileged members of the upper classes
evolute into higher and higher beings until they shall have formed a
race. The people of that race will resemble in nothing the beasts in
form of the lower classes, who are not to be ruled, except whip in
“God forfend,” broke in another clerical gentleman, “that that theory
evolution of yours should ever reach the ears of the working class; it
set them wild; it would drive them to desperation, from which popular
always spring up. You must be very simple-minded if you flatter
with the notion that your misleading science could stem Socialism, a
that holds out to the working people the prospect of wealth for all,
of the fullest physical and mental development of the individual. If we
to remain a privileged class, and continue to live at the expense of
working people, we shall have to coddle their imagination, and while we
the wool off these human sheep, entertain them with some nursery tales
future happiness. But you, free-thinkers, are played out; you have
yourselves of the power to do this.”
“Not at all!” interjected Prof. Felix Adler: “You should be more
in your observations. If you say some free-thinkers have stripped
of the power to coddle the people while fleecing them, you would be
but all of us have not taken so indiscreet a stand. There are many
those of the ‘ethical’ nomenclature, who have pre-eminently qualified
for that difficult yet important work. We the ‘Ethices’ — capitalist
of the ‘ethical’ school — have set up the dogma that ‘character must be
before improving the material condition of the people.’ This dogma
our system and us pre-eminently for the task of curbing Socialism — a
that is equipped with the very strongest educational power, and whose
characteristic is to use these powers with wonderful effect for the
of the people; a movement that, while it kindles the very highest and
aspirations, correctly shows that, to make these possible for the
their material condition must be first changed, and then proceeds to
out with unerring precision the only practical methods to change these
conditions, and to introduce the prerequisites for the popular
“It is undeniable that character, in the masses, is affected by their
condition, not their material condition by their character. Now then,
our preaching the opposite doctrine, by our exhorting the people to try
change their character first — matters not how free-thinking or
we may be — we take the wind out of the sails of Socialism; we appear
the light of great moralists and great apostles of education ourselves,
as, furthermore, we present our doctrine in all the trappings of
learning, we mystify our hearers — a great point for success in our
endeavor. You have no idea how many people can be fooled in that way.
“By reason of all this we, the ‘Ethices,’ are best calculated to put a
in the wheels of Socialism, and preserve our class privileges.
is a tremendous educator — we strike the attitude of educators par
and nullify all the sense there is in education by carrying it to the
of sublimated abstractness; we seem to agree with the final aim of
— yet in our practice we act contrariwise, by retarding the practical
to that end; we seem to wish to move away from present conditions,
we affect to condemn, and on the condemnation of which we bestow our
phrases – yet we induce the people to busy and wear themselves out with
petty and hopeless methods of reform; we point to the pinnacle of
and freedom lighted by Socialism, and which we pretend to wish to reach
yet we urge the people up tortuous and inaccessible paths where they
sure to lose themselves amid brambles and brakes. For turning a
awry, there is nothing comparable with seeming its friend, taking its
and then leading it into the ground.
“You theologians, churchianists — circumcised and uncircumcised —
fill this mission because you deny the possibility of happiness on
and commend submission to misery — the people have outgrown that, they
none of it. You, Spencerian free-thinkers and atheists, cannot fill
mission, because you do violence to the self-esteem and self-respect of
working classes, by claiming they are doomed to the fate of brutes —
people are too enlightened for that, they will none of it. Only we, the
capitalist free-thinkers of the ethical nomenclature, we alone can fill
desired mission; we combine the good points that there is in both of
and are free from the bad points of which you both suffer; we admit the
of happiness on earth, thereby getting the people on our side, and then
render that possibility an impossibility by striving for it falsely; we
the inevitable brutalization of the working classes, thereby winning
hearts, and then render their brutalization certain and swift by
striving to prevent it. The ‘ethical culture’ scheme is the scheme of
The war of words between the theologians and the philosophers, joined
by the free-thinkers, went on in this wise for a considerable time, and
to threaten a split, when the disputants were reminded by the Rev.
Dix that they had met, not to discuss articles of faith, but to
over the threatened social danger. Order being restored, the notorious
Mallock rose from among a group of capitalists — Vanderbilts, Goulds,
and others — who had all this while kept silent and looked on at the
between the clericals and the philosophers. All eyes were immediately
to Statistician Mallock, and he addressed the assemblage in an
tone. He said:
“We need religion to curb the masses. But what religion? It must be a
religion. Now, then, the only religion that answers the requirements of
days is the Religion of Capital. Capital is the true, only and
God. He manifests Himself in everything. He is found in glittering gold
in stinking guano; in a herd of cattle and in a cargo of coffee; in
stores that offer sacred literature for sale and in obscure booths of
pictures; in gigantic machines, made of hardest steel, and in elegant
goods. He is everywhere. Capital is the God whom the whole world knows,
smells, tastes. He is sensible to all our senses. He is the only God
has not yet run against an atheist. The Priest Solomon worshipped Him
everything else seemed vanity to him; the Philosopher Schopenhauer was
drawn to Him even after he was disappointed in everything else; Herbert
in the midst of all his philosophic perplexities, was not perplexed
that subject; and Bob Ingersoll, who mocked everything else, mocked not
A violent applause from Gould, Baring, the Vanderbilts, Joseph
Carroll D. Wright and all the circumcised Christians and uncircumcised
of the international brotherhood of gold, interrupted the speaker at
point. “Mallock is right!” “Capital is God, the only living God!” they
tumultuously. After the enthusiasm had subsided, Statistician Mallock
“To some He announces His presence in an awful manner, to others
as a loving mother. When Capital visits a country, it is as if a
had broken loose, that tears down and destroys everything that stands
His way — men, animals, the quick and the dead. When European Capital
Himself down in Egypt, He seized the Fellahs with their beasts of
their wagons and their prongs, as so many blades of grass, and carried
off to the Isthmus of Suez; with His iron hand He bent them under the
of servitude; and there, scorched by the sun, worried with hunger and
attacked by fever, the bones of 30,000 of those beings whitened the
of the canal. Capital seizes upon free and healthy, strong and happy
and immures them by the hundreds of thousands in the mills, the
and the mines. There He pumps out their blood; when He lets them go
they are prematurely old, scrofulous, anaemic, consumptive. The
of man has never yet been able to conceive a more fearful, cruel and
God when enraged. And again, how loving, tender and considerate is He
towards his chosen ones! For the well-beloved of Capital the earth
produce too many good things. Every day He invents new pleasures for
He produces new species of flowers and fruits; He brings forth new
to stimulate their cloyed palates. Animate and inanimate nature —
— He hands over to them.”
At the conclusion of this speech the whole assemblage rose to its feet;
the clericals, the philosophers and the freethinkers were carried away.
applause was unanimous and terrific: and above the din were heard these
exclamations, each of which produced new rounds of applause, and more
shouts of approbation:
“Capital is God!”
“He knows no political boundaries nor nationalities; no race nor sex;
is the international God, the God of us all!”
“He will subject the children of man to His law!”
“Away with all former religions, let us forget all the dissensions they
“We are one under the religion of Capital!” etc., etc.
It was long before the turmoil and emotions evoked by Statistician
new Revelation had sufficiently subsided to enable the deliberations to
Having finally shouted itself hoarse, and exhausted itself with the
of hands, the Congress relapsed into quiet. Unanimity of aim being
the rest was smooth sailing. A Committee was appointed, composed of one
from each nationality, to draw up the dogmas of the new creed — The
of Capital — and report to the Congress, which then adjourned to meet
days later, in order to give the Committee ample time to do its work
The Congress adopted, when it re-assembled, the report of the
which consisted of a very complete religious system, with its dogmas,
prayers, invocations and litanies. These are, however, kept so secret
they are hard to get at. Nevertheless, I have succeeded in securing
fragments, and hereby submit them to the public.
That Is to Say, An Instruction, to be Inculcated in the Working
from Early Life.
Q. What is your name?
Q. Who are thy parents?
A. My father was called Wageworker; my mother’s name is Poverty.
Q. Where wast thou born?
A. In a garret under the roof of a tenement house which my father
his comrades built.
Q. What is thy religion?
A. The Religion of CAPITAL.
Q. What general duties does thy religion enjoin upon thee?
A. Two principally: first, the duty of Abnegation; second, the
of Toil. My religion commands me to abdicate my rights to all property
earth, that common mother of us all, to the treasures she bears in her
to the product of her surface, to her wonderful fertility through the
and the heat of the sun; it commands me to abdicate my rights of
in the product of the labor of my hands and my brain. My religion
me to toil from early childhood to my dying day — to toil by sun light,
light, or electric light, by day and by night; to toil on the earth,
the earth, and in the waters that are under the earth; to toil
Q. Does thy religion lay upon thee any other duties?
A. It lays upon me the further duty of self-denial and privation; to
my hunger only partially; to pinch all my physical wants; and to
all my mental aspirations.
Q. Does thy religion forbid thee to taste of certain articles of
A. It forbids me to touch game, poultry and meat unless they are
fourth rate quality, and it forbids me to taste at all the better
of fish, wine or milk.
Q. What food does it allow thee?
A. Bread, potatoes, beans, herrings, the refuse of the butcher
and also sausages. To the end that I may stimulate my exhausted
it also allows me adulterated wines, beer and similar liquors.
Q. What duties does thy religion lay upon thee with regard to
A. To retrench my expenses, to live in narrow and spare rooms, to wear
tattered and patched up clothes, until they actually fall off my body
shreds. To go about out at toes and heels and without stockings,
to the wet and the soilure of the streets and roads.
Q. What duties does thy religion lay upon thee with regard to thy
A. To deny my wife and daughters all ornaments of elegance and
taste; to cause them to be dressed in rude materials and with barely
to escape being hauled up by the police for indecent exposure. To teach
not to shiver in the winter in calicos, and not to smother in the
in close or topfloor rooms, under tin roofs heated with the heat of the
Days. To inculcate in my little ones, from their tenderest years, the
principle of toil, to the end that they may be able to earn their
from early childhood, and not become a burden upon society; to teach
to go to bed without a light and supperless; and to accustom them to
misery that is their lot in life.
Q. What duties does thy religion lay upon thee with regard to
A. To increase the national wealth — first through my toil, and
through my savings as soon as I can make any.
Q. What does thy religion order thee to do with thy savings?
A. To entrust them to the savings banks and such other
that have been established by philanthropic financiers to the end that
may loan them out to our bosses. We are commanded to place our earnings
all times at the disposal of our masters.
Q. Does thy religion allow thee to touch thy savings?
A. As rarely as possible; but it recommends to us not to insist
strongly upon receiving our funds back; we are told we should patiently
to our fate if the philanthropic financiers are unable to meet our
and inform us that our savings have gone up in smoke.
Q. Who is thy God?
Q. Has He existed since the beginning of time?
A. Our most learned high priests, the official political
say He exists since the creation of the world. At first, however, He
very little, hence His throne was usurped by Jupiter and other Gods.
since about the year 1500, He grew daily into power and glory, and
He rules the world according to His will.
Q. Is thy God omnipotent?
A. Yes. His grace can grant any and all enjoyments. When He turns
countenance from a person, a family, a country, they are smitten with
The power of the God CAPITAL increases with the increase of His bulk.
does He conquer new countries; daily does He enlarge the swarms of His
who devote their lives to the mission of increasing His power.
Q. Who are the chosen ones of thy God?
A. The Capitalists — manufacturers, merchants and landlords.
Q. How does thy God reward thee?
A. By furnishing work to me, my wife and my children, down to the
Q. Is that thy only reward?
A. No. Our God allows us to help still our hunger, by
through the large pier glass windows of stylish restaurants, devour
our eyes the delightful roasts and delicacies that we have never tasted
never will taste, because these viands are there only for the
of the chosen ones and their high priests. Out of His kindness we are
allowed to warm our limbs, numb with cold, by affording us occasional
to admire the soft fur and the thick-spun woolen cloths exhibited in
stores and intended for the comfort of the chosen ones and their high
only. He also grants us the exquisite joy of regaling our eyes, on the
and public resorts, with the sight of the sacred crowds of Capitalists
Landlords, to admire their sleekness and roundness, together with their
decked lackeys and footmen as they drive by in brilliant equipages.
Q. Are the chosen ones of the same race as thyself?
A. The manufacturers and landlords are kneaded out of the same
as myself, but they have been chosen out of thousands and millions.
Q. What have they done to deserve this elevation?
A. Nothing. Our God manifests His omnipotence by bestowing His
upon those who have not earned them.
Q. Then is thy God unjust?
A. CAPITAL is the incarnation of Justice; only, His justice
our understanding. CAPITAL is omnipotent. Were He compelled to bestow
grace upon those who earned it, He would be weakened, because then His
would have limits. Consequently, He can show His power in no stronger
than by picking His favorites from among pickpockets and idlers.
Q. How does thy God punish thee?
A. By sentencing me to idleness. From that moment I am
I then know not where to find food, or where to lay myself down. From
moment I and mine must perish with hunger and want.
Q. What are the sins that call this punishment upon thy head ?
A. None. CAPITAL throws me out of work whenever it pleases Him.
Q. What prayers does thy religion commend to thee?
A. I pray not with words. My prayer is LABOR. The bare utterance
any other prayer would interfere with my actual prayer — LABOR. This is
only prayer that profits, because it is the only one that pleases
and that produces surplus values.
Q. Where do you pray?
A. Everywhere. On the fields and in the work-shops; in mills and
ashore and at sea. To the end that our prayer be granted, we are in
bound to lay our freedom, our dignity, our will at the feet of CAPITAL.
the ringing of the bell, at the whistling of the machine, we must
to congregate, and, once engaged in prayer, set our arms and legs,
and feet in motion like automata, we must grunt and swear, we must
our muscles and exhaust our nerves. At our prayer meetings we must
with humble mien and patiently to the ill-temper and insults of the
and his foremen; they are always right. We must never utter a complaint
the boss lowers our wages and raises our hours of work; everything he
is right, and is done for our best. We must consider it an honor if the
takes undue liberties with our wives and daughters. Rather than ever to
a complaint to escape our lips, rather than ever to allow our blood to
rather than ever to think of striking, we should submit to all trials,
our bread moistened with our own spittle only, and drink dirty water to
that down. Should we be impertinent enough to dare find fault with such
then would our masters scourge us with the prisons and penitentiaries,
sabres, repeating rifles, cannons, policemen’s clubs and even the
They would clap us behind the bars if we were to grumble; they would
us down if we were to do aught that is contrary to the decrees of the
which they have enacted and promulgated.
Q. Do you expect any reward after death?
A. A very great one. After I am dead CAPITAL allows me to lie
and rest; I am then freed from hunger and cold, and from the fear of
forevermore. I then enjoy the eternal peace of the GRAVE.
THE CAPITALISTS BREVIARY.
The Nature of the God Capital.
1. Hearken unto the words of CAPITAL, thy God.
2. I am the man-eating God; I seat myself at the table in
mills, factories, mines and yards, and feed upon workingmen. I
their substance into godly CAPITAL. I am the Unsolvable Riddle. My
is eternal, and yet it rests upon perishable flesh; my strength is
from human weakness. The inert force of CAPITAL is the life-force of
3. I am the Immeasurable Spirit of the civilized world; my
has innumerable forms and is manifold. I live in and pervade everything
is bought and sold. I am active in every article of merchandise; none
besides me, any separate existence.
4. I shine in gold and stink in dung; I ferment in wine and
poison in vitriol. I live in everything.
5. Man sees, feels, smells and tastes my body, but my
is finer than ether, and is still less comprehensible to the senses. My
is CREDIT. It needs no tangible body to manifest itself.
6. I animate and transform everything. No chemist is like
me. I transform wide meadow lands, heavy metal and bellowing herds into
stocks. At the breath of my nostrils, railroads and blasting furnaces,
and mines dance and hop, hand in hand, at the Exchanges, the Temples
to my worship.
7. In those countries where the Bank rules, nothing is done
my consent. I manure Labor; I impress the otherwise irresistible forces
nature into servile toil for man; I put at his disposal the powerful
of all the conquests of Science.
8. I weave around human societies the golden web of
and of industry.
9. Man, destitute of CAPITAL, wanders naked, through life,
round about by enemies, who are equipped with all the weapons of
and of death.
10. If he be strong as an ox, the burden he bears will be
if he be diligent as the ant, his toil will be increased.
11. What are Science, Labor and Virtue without CAPITAL? Only
and a weariness to the flesh.
12. Without the grace of CAPITAL, Science drives man towards the
of insanity, and Labor and Virtue cast him into the abyss of misery.
13. Neither Science, nor Virtue, nor Labor can satisfy the spirit
man; I alone can slake the thirsty cravings of his passions.
14. I yield and withdraw myself at my pleasure; I give no account
my acts, I am the Omnipotent, the Sole Ruler of the quick and the dead.
The Chosen Ones of Capital.
Man, this corrupt mass of clay, comes naked into the world, to be
enclosed in a box to decompose under the earth, and to fructify with
ashes the grasses of the fields.
2. Yet it is this very vessel, full of corruption, that I
chosen to represent Me; Me, CAPITAL; Me, the most powerful Being under
3. I pick out my chosen ones not upon the strength of their
nor upon the strength of their beauty, nor yet upon the strength of
youth; but only upon the strength of my own sweet whim.
4. Their stupidity, their vices, their ugliness, their
are so many evidences of my arbitrary power.
5. People pronounce the silly sallies of the Capitalist
they assure him his genius needs not the science of the learned; poets
his inspiration; artists await his criticism upon their knees; women
to him he is their ideal; philosophers reason his vices into virtue;
political economists discover that his idleness is the source of all
Because I have made him My chosen one, everybody sees in the Capitalist
incarnation of Virtue, of Beauty and of Genius.
6. A horde of working people toil for My chosen one, while
eats, drinks, gambles and sleeps.
7. The Capitalist labors neither with his hands nor with
8. He has laboring cattle — men, women and children — to
the land, to smelt the iron, to weave the cloth; he has foremen and
to rule the toilers; he has learned men to do his thinking. The
own work runs into the sewer exclusively.
9. I heap perpetual well-being upon My chosen ones. What is
on earth more real than to eat, drink and wallow in physical pleasures?
else is vanity and sorrow.
10. I alleviate all sorts of suffering in the end that the world
be good and agreeable to My chosen ones.
11. Sight has its organ; so have the senses of smell, touch,
hearing and love. I deny nothing to My chosen ones that either their
their mouths or any of their other organs may crave.
12. Virtue has two faces: the Virtue of the Capitalist is
the Virtue of the working class is privation.
13. The Capitalist seizes whatever he likes on earth; he is
if he is cloyed in one way, he tries to please himself in another.
14. The Capitalist is the law. Lawgivers grind out laws according
his needs; philosophers fit morals to his habits; whatever he does is
and good; every act that injures his interests is a crime and must be
15. I reserve for My chosen ones a joy that remains unknown to
wageworkers. To make Profit is the most inspiring pleasure. When my
ones rake in Profits, they may lose their mothers, their wives, their
their dog and their honor — yet they preserve their equanimity. On the
hand, to make no Profit is an irreparable misfortune for which the
knows no consolation.
The Duties of the Capitalist.
1. Many are called, but few are chosen. Every day I reduce
number of My chosen ones.
2. I give Myself up to the Capitalists; I divide Myself
them. Each chosen one receives a share of INDIVISIBLE CAPITAL, but he
allowed to keep it only if he increases it, if he causes it to bear
CAPITAL withdraws Himself from him who does not live up to His laws.
3. I have chosen the Capitalist to the end that he may
off surplus values; his mission is to heap up Profits.
4. To the end that he may be able to give himself up, free
unhampered, to this hunt after Profits, the Capitalist strips himself
all bonds of friendship and of kin; whenever it concerns the making of
he must know neither friend nor brother, neither wife, mother nor
5. He rises above those trivial bounds which divide mortals
separate fatherlands and parties. Before he is American or English,
or Scotch, French or German, the Capitalist is an Exploiter. He is only
a republican, a democrat, a monarchist, a conservative or a so-called
Gold has its own color, but, as against gold, the Capitalist has no
of his own.
6. With equal equanimity the Capitalist rakes in the money
is wet with tears, soaked in blood, or soiled with dung.
7. He makes no sacrifices to common prejudices. He is not a
for the purpose of producing good merchandise, but for the purpose of
merchandise that will fetch large gains. He does not establish stock
for the purpose of distributing dividends among the stockholders, but
the purpose of drawing to himself the moneys which these own, and to
they have no right. For the small Capitalist is condemned to disappear,
be swallowed up by the large Capitalist. This is the law of CAPITAL.
8. When I raise a man to the dignity of Capitalist I
transfer to him a part of my own omnipotence over mankind and all that
9. The Capitalist says: “Society, that is myself; Morality,
is my Private Interest.”
10. When the interests of a single Capitalist are injured, the
of society suffers. The inability to increase Capital is the greatest
all ills, the one ill for which there is no cure or redress.
11. The Capitalist causes production to be carried on, but he
not himself produce. Every physical or mental exercise is forbidden to
It would draw him away from his sacred mission — to heap up Profits.
12. The Capitalist does not become a metaphysical squirrel, that
its wheel and grinds out wind.
13. He cares little whether the heavens announce the glory of
he does not inquire whether the grasshopper chirps with its legs or
nor does it concern him whether the ant is a Capitalist.
14. He troubles himself little about either the beginning or the
of things; it suffices him to cause them to draw Profits.
15. He allows those attacked with the mania of official political
to declaim upon monometallism or bimetallism to their hearts’ content,
he quietly pockets all the coin he can lay hands on, whether it be of
or of gold.
16. He allows scientists to fathom nature, and inventors to apply
forces of nature to industry, but he quickly appropriates their work,
as soon as it has demonstrated its aptitude for exploitation.
17. He does not cudgel his brains with the inquiries about the
and the beautiful.
18. He applauds dissertations about “Eternal Truths,” but he
money with whatever adulterations business may require.
19. He does not speculate upon the nature of Virtue, of
or of Love, but upon their market price.
20. He does not inquire whether freedom is a good thing in
he takes all freedom to himself, and leaves only the name of the thing
the working class.
21. He enters into no controversy upon the question whether Right
Might; he knows he is in possession of all rights, being in possession
22. He neither opposes nor favors universal suffrage; he neither
nor favors a limited suffrage. He purchases the votes where it is
where it is universal he throws dust into the eyes of the electors. If
has at all any preferences, it is in favor of universal suffrage,
it is cheaper. While, under a limited suffrage, he would have to buy
the voters and their elected candidates, under universal suffrage he
buy only the successful candidates.
23. He takes no hand in the clatter about free trade or
He is alternately protectionist and free trader, according as his
24. He is not burdened with any principles, not even with the
of having none.
25. The Capitalist is in My hand a rod of iron, wherewith to
the stubborn herd of wage workers.
26. The Capitalist smothers in his heart every human feeling; he
no pity. He treats his fellow men harder than his beasts of burden.
women and children are to him only profit-grinding machines. His heart
iron-clad to the end that his eyes may see the sufferings of the
and his ears may hear their cry of rage or pain, without causing him a
27. As a hydraulic press comes down slowly and squeezes dry the
that is to be pressed and reduces it to the lowest weight, so likewise
the Capitalist press the workingmen dry and flat until he has squeezed
of them all the labor power that their muscles contain. Every drop of
sweat he crystallizes into CAPITAL. When, however, the workingman is
up and exhausted, and, despite all further pressure, can yield no
surplus labor, then he is forthwith thrown away by the Capitalist as so
offal or manure.
28. The Capitalist who spares his workingmen betrays Me and
29. The Capitalist turns men, women and children into
to the end that he who owns neither tallow, nor wool, nor any other
may be at least enabled to sell the power of his muscles, his skill, or
learning. Before man can be converted into CAPITAL he must first become
30. I am CAPITAL, the Lord of Creation; the Capitalist is my
Before him all men are equal — they are all equally subject to his
The day laborer, who pawns his muscles; the engineer, who offers for
his technical knowledge; the cashier, who sells his honor; the
who barters his vote; the prostitute, who gives up her body — all are,
the Capitalist, subjects of exploitation.
31. He compels the workingmen to recuperate their forces with
and adulterated food, to the end that they may be able to sell
32. He compels the workingmen to acquire the abstemiousness of a
the patience of an ass, the endurance of an ox at their labor.
33. The workingmen belong to the Capitalist. They are his estate,
property. He causes his workingmen to be watched with Argus eyes in the
They may not interrupt their work with either a word or an unnecessary
34. The workingman’s time is money: every minute that he loses is
theft he commits upon the Capitalist.
35. The pressure of the Capitalist follows the workingmen as a
into their very shanty or tenement. They may not allow either their
to be contaminated by reading, or listening to, Socialist addresses,
their bodies to indulge in excessive sport. The wage worker is
to go straight from the workshop to his abode, eat and lie down, to the
that on the following day he may place at the disposal of his master a
mind and a body able to exert itself to the utmost.
36. The Capitalist does not recognize any rights of the
not even the right to slavery, yclept the right to labor.
37. He strips the workingmen of their intelligence and of the
of their special trades, and transfers these to the machine that is
in perpetual motion.
1. The sailor is assailed by storms, the miner is exposed
explosions and landslides, the toilers in factories are in danger from
wheels of the machine; everywhere the wage-slaves are threatened with
and mutilation. The Capitalist, being an idler, is protected from all
2. Labor racks and kills, but does not enrich. Riches are
gotten by personal labor, but by causing others to labor.
3. Property is the fruit of labor and the reward of
4. Wine is not squeezed out of stones, nor Profits out of a
only the quick are fit subjects for exploitation. The hangman, who
a criminal, cheats the Capitalist of a subject of exploitation.
5. Benevolence draws no interest.
6. When you lay yourself down to sleep, it is better to be
to say: “I have done good business” than “I have done a good deed.”
7. The Capitalist who causes his workingmen to work
out of twenty-four hours has not wasted his day.
8. Spare neither the good nor the poor workingman; the good
needs the spur as well as the poor.
9. It takes longer for a workingman to become a Capitalist
for the leaf of the mulberry to grow up to the size of Pikers Peak.
10. Philanthropy means to steal wholesale, and give away retail.
11. Co-operation means to allow the workingmen to work together
12. Profit-sharing means to take the lion’s share of the products
13. The Capitalist is a devotee of freedom. He gives no alms,
alms-giving robs the unemployed of the freedom to die of hunger.
14. The Capitalist has two tongues in his mouth; he uses the one
buying, the other at selling.
15. To rob everybody means to rob nobody.
16. Honor and sentiment are poison in business.
17. Mistrust the dishonorable man, but place no confidence in the
18. Coins carry the image of a bird, because, like birds, they
to him who catches them.
19. Greenbacks are always picked up, even if they drop in the mud.
20. Thou worriest over many things; thou borrowest much care;
wouldst be honest; thou strivest after wisdom; thou strainest after
and honor. All these are vanity and vexation of spirit. Only one thing
real: CAPITAL, and CAPITAL once more.
21. Youth withers and beauty wilts. Only gold does not age,
does it wrinkle.
22. Gold is the soul of the Capitalist; it is the motive power of
23. Verily I say unto you, it is more glorious to be a purse
with gold and bank notes than a person loaded with talent and virtue
trots to market to sell himself like an ass.
24. Genius, Talent, Modesty, Honor and Beauty exist only because
have a market price.
25. Virtue and labor are useful and profitable only when some one
employs them. To the Capitalist, there is nothing above eating and
and worshipping at the shrine of Venus. Nothing is so real to him, when
end of his days approaches, as the actual enjoyments he has wallowed in.
26. So long as the Capitalist sojourns on the earth, warmed and
by the sun, he must enjoy life and be of good cheer. Youth comes only
none can escape ugly and inconvenient old age, that grabs man by the
and leads him on to death.
27. In the grave, whither thou travelest, thou wilt find only
28. Except a full stomach, that digests lustily, and powerful,
animal spirits, all else is vanity and vexation of spirit.
1. I am CAPITAL, the King of the earth.
2. I strut about with Falsehood, Envy, Covetousness,
and Murder as My bodyguard. I carry war into cities and families.
I pass I sow Rage, Despair, and Hopelessness.
3. I am the pitiless God. I feel well in the midst of
and suffering. I butcher the wageworkers and do not spare even My
ones, the Capitalists.
4. The wageworker is unable to tear himself from Me. When,
the hunted deer, he flees before Me beyond the mountains, he finds Me
ahead of him; when he, trying to escape Me, crosses the ocean, he finds
waiting for him on the shores where he lands. The wageworker is My
the earth is his prison.
5. I smite the Capitalists with a dull and stupid sense of
My chosen ones are physical and mental eunuchs. Their descendants run
into idiocy and impotence.
6. I pour over the Capitalist everything that is desirable,
I deprive him of every wish. I load his board with the most toothsome
but I deprive him of appetite. I throw upon his bed the handsomest and
of women, but their caresses are unable to fire his exhausted body.
in the world cloys him — tired and feelingless, he yawns away his life.
longs for nothing, yet is he afraid of death.
7. According as it may please Me, and in ways that man is
to fathom, I fall upon My chosen ones, and hurl them down into the hell
8. Capitalists are My tools. I use them as a
to scourge the herd of the wageworkers with. I raise My chosen ones to
highest places in society, and yet I despise them.
9. I am the God, who moves the world and upset the brains
10. The poet of antiquity has prophesied the era of Capitalism.
sang: “As yet ill is mixed with good; yet the day will come when there
be neither family bonde, nor justice, nor virtue. Hades and Nemesis
reascend to heaven, and then there will be no cure for the ill.”
That day has come; like unto the ravenous sharks of the seas and the
beasts of prey in the woods, men now devour one another without pity.
11. I laugh at the wisdom of man, “Work, and you will have
work and your locker will be filled,” so saith ancient wisdom. But I
unto you: “Work, and want and misery will be your faithful companions;
and you will carry to the pawnbroker your last bit of furniture.”
12. I am the God, who revolutionizes the nations of the world. I
the mighty under my leveling yoke.
13. The day Socialism should come into power, that day would be
of the God CAPITAL be at end. That gloomy day I, CAPITAL, would cease
rule the world, I would become the slave of the workingman whom I hate.
would no longer kneel before Me, his own handiwork, he would rear
erect on his feet, and, on earth, recognize only Nature as his
14. Woe will be Me and My chosen ones should that day ever dawn.
PRAYERS FOR CAPITALISTS.
The Investor’s Prayer.
My father, CAPITAL, who are on earth, Almighty God, who changest the
of rivers, tunnelest mountains, separatest contiguous shores, and
into one distant nations. Creator of Merchandise, and Source of Life,
Thou, who rulest Kings and subjects, laborers and employers, may Thy
be for evermore on earth. Give us plentiful purchasers to take our
off our hands, without looking too closely whether these be genuine or
pure or adulterated. Give us needy working people, who will accept the
work and the lowest pay without grumbling. Send us gudgeons who may be
by the tempting bait of our prospectuses, and ensnared in the network
our fair promises. Cause our debtors to pay us their debts in full.
us not into the penitentiary, but deliver us from bankruptcy, and grant
never ceasing dividends. Amen.
Confession of Faith.
I believe in CAPITAL, the ruler of body and mind.
I believe in PROFIT, His Right-hand Bower, and in CREDIT, His Left-hand
both of which proceed from and are one with Him.
I believe in GOLD and SILVER, which, melted in the crucible, cut up
bullion, and stamped in the mint, make their appearance in the world as
but, after having rolled over the earth, and being found too heavy,
into the vaults of the BANKS, and reascend in the shape of PAPER MONEY.
I believe in DIVIDENDS, in 5 per cents, 4 per cents and 3 per cents,
also in smaller per cents, that are shaved from notes.
I believe in NATIONAL DEBTS, which secure CAPITAL against the risks of
industry, and the fluctuations of the money market.
I believe in PRIVATE PROPERTY, the fruit of the labor of others; and I
believe in its existence from and for all time.
I believe in the necessity of MISERY — the furnisher of wage slaves,
the mother of surplus labor.
I believe in the eternity of the WAGE SYSTEM, which setteth the
free from all the cares of holding property.
I believe in the EXTENSION of the hours of work, and in the REDUCTION
wages; and I also believe in the adulteration of goods.
I believe in the holy dogma: “BUY CHEAP AND SELL DEAR,” and thereby in
fundamental principles of our sacrosanct Church, as revealed by
Political Economy. Amen.
Hail unto Thee, oh MISERY; Thou art full of grace. Thou dost oppress
bend the workingman; Thou dost torture his entrails with perpetual
and Thou dost condemn him to sell his life and his freedom for a piece
bread. Thou dost break the spirit of rebellion, and Thou dost
the proletarian, his wife and his children to hard labor for life in
capitalist penitentiaries, called factories, mills and mines. Hail unto
Adoration of Gold.
GOLD, wonderful merchandise, who carriest within Thyself all other
GOLD, first-born merchandise, who convertest all other merchandises
Thou, who weighest and measurest everything;
Thou, the completest, most ideal personification of the God CAPITAL;
Thou, the noblest, most wonderful element of Nature;
Thou, who canst be tainted by neither worm, mildew nor lust;
GOLD, unchangeable merchandise, blooming flower, brilliant ray of
luminous sun, Thou immaculate metal, who, torn from the entrails of the
the noble mother of all things, turnest Thyself away, buriest Thyself
the safes of usurers, and the vaults of Banks, and from that place of
where Thou liest in large heaps, transferrest Thy power to common,
paper to the end that it multiply and increase tenfold;
GOLD, inert metal, that settest the world in motion, before Thy
majesty mankind has bent the knee for centuries, and has humbly adored
Oh, bestow Thy godlike grace upon the faithful, who invoke Thee, and,
possess Thee, sacrifice everything — honor and virtue, the esteem of
the love of woman, their soul, the children of their own marrow and
— and who are not held back even by their own self-respect!
GOLD, Thou supreme, invincible, all-conquering power,
Oh, hearken unto our prayer!
Thou builder of cities and destroyer of empires; Thou load-star of
Thou custodian of Conscience; Thou, who dictatest laws to the nations,
who bendest to Thy yoke Congresses and Parliaments, Presidents, Kings
Oh, hearken unto our prayer!
Thou, who purchasest the decisions of Judges, and the votes of
Oh, hearken unto our prayer!
Thou, who callest into being flowers and fruits, unknown to Nature;
who spreadest vice and virtue; Thou, who quickenest art and luxury;
Oh, hearken unto our prayer!
Thou, who smilest upon the Capitalist in his cradle, and who frownest
maltreatest the proletarian on the lap of his mother;
Oh, hearken unto our prayer!
GOLD, Thou tireless wanderer, who are versed in all rascality and in
the tricks of scoundrelism.
Incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou interpreter of all tongues; Thou most skilful of all pimps; Thou
seducer; Thou standard of man;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou Messenger of Peace and Herald of Strife; Thou distributer of
and of excessive toil; Thou staff of virtue and of corruption;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
GOLD, Thou who are cursed and invoked in numberless prayers; who art
by Capitalists and loved by prostitutes,
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou, who startest evil and good; Thou, who art the fortune and
of man; Thou, who healest the sick, and who art balm to all pain;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou, who bewitchest the world, and confusest the human intellect;
who turnest ugliness into beauty, and dullness into cleverness; Thou,
reconcilest all things; who makest shame and dishonor estimable, and
theft and prostitution respectable;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou, who heapest upon cowardice the Glory that belongs to bravery;
who securest to ugliness the homage that belongs to beauty; Malignant
who procurest to senility and impotence the love that belongs to youth
Incline Thine ear toward us!
Demon, who incitest to murder, and lettest insanity loose;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
Thou flaming torch that lightest the path of life; Thou leader,
and savior of the Capitalist;
Oh, incline Thine ear toward us!
GOLD, Thou Lord of Fame, and sun of Justice; GOLD, Thou strength and
of life; illustrious GOLD,
Oh, come to us!
GOLD, Thou well beloved of the Capitalist; Thou scourge of the
Oh, come to us!
Thou mirror of enjoyment; Thou, who turnest to the idler the fruits of
Oh, come to us!
Thou, who fillest the cellars and pantries of those who neither plow
sow, who neither plant nor harvest,
Oh, come to us!
Thou liberator from labor, who degradest man and corruptest his race,
Oh, come to us!
Thou sum of all strength, knowledge and intellect of the Capitalist,
Oh, come to us!
Oh, come to us, seductive GOLD, Thou highest hope, the beginning and
of all capitalist activity, of all capitalist thought, and of all
LAMENTATIONS OF Job Capitalist, A Bankrupt.
CAPITAL, my God and my Master, why hast Thou turned Thy countenance
me? What sin have I committed that Thou shouldst cast me from the
of prosperity and plague me with the burden of poverty?
2. Have I not lived according to Thy laws? Were my actions not
to the Law and the Statute?
3. Canst Thou charge me with ever having worked? Have I not tasted all
which my millions and my senses allowed? Have I not harnessed men,
and children into my service, and driven them even beyond the point of
Have I ever returned to them more than starvation wages? Have I ever
myself to be touched by the want or the despair of my workingmen?
4. CAPITAL, my God, I have adulterated the goods, which I sold, without
myself about whether or not I thereby poisoned the consumer. I have
to the bone the gudgeons, who were caught by the bait of my
5. I lived only to enjoy and to increase my wealth; and Thou hast
my irreproachable conduct, my meritorious life, by bestowing upon me
my private enjoyment, women and young boys, dogs and servants, the
of the flesh and the gratification of vanity.
6. And now have I lost everything, and I am cast off.
7. My competitors rejoice over my ruin, and my friends turn away from
they do not even trouble themselves to blame me, and to give me useless
they know me no more. My former mistresses bespatter me on the street
the mud of the equipages, which I bought for them with my money.
8. Misery lays its heavy hand upon me; like unto prison walls it bars
from the rest of mankind. I stand alone; everything within me and
me is gloomy.
9. My wife, who now has no money to spend in cosmetics wherewith to
her face and disguise herself, now appears before me in all her
ugliness. My son, brought up to idleness, does not even understand the
of my misfortune — idiot that he is! The eyes of my daughters run like
fountains at the recollection of the matches that they missed.
10. But what are the sufferings of mine when compared with my
There where I once gave orders as a master, I now receive a kick if I
myself as a humble suitor!
11. Everything has turned into dung and stench to me in my present
My body, stiffened and full of aches from the hardness of my conchy
and bitten by bedbugs and other insects, finds now no rest; my soul no
tastes the sleep that brings on oblivion.
12. O how happy are the wretches, who never were acquainted with aught
poverty and dirt! They know not the pleasures of soft cushions, and
tastes; their thick skins have no feeling, their dulled senses are not
13. Why was I made to taste of joy, and then to be left with nothing
the remembrance of better days, more galling than a gambling debt?
14. Better had it been, oh Lord, to have cast my birth in misery, than
closing days, after thou didst bring me up in wealth.
15. What can I do to earn my dry crust of bread?
16. My hands, accustomed only to carrying gold rings, and to fingering
cannot handle the tools of labor. My brain, accustomed only to busy
with the question how to escape work, how to rest from the exertion of
wealth, how to get rid of the weariness of idleness, how to overcome
effects of gluttony, is unfit for the mental activity that is requisite
to write letters, and foot up bills.
17. Is it then possible, oh Lord, that Thou canst smite so pitilessly a
who never disobeyed any of Thy commandments?
18. Oh, it is wrong, it is unjust, it is immoral that I should lose the
that the labor of others has heaped up so painfully for me!
19. When the Capitalists, my former comrades, behold my misfortune,
will learn that Thy grace is but a whim, that Thou bestowest it without
and withdrawest it without reason.
20. Who will henceforth believe in Thee?
21. What Capitalist will be sufficiently daring and senseless to accept
Law; to enervate himself in idleness and with riotous living and
if the future is so uncertain and so threatening? If the slightest
that blows on the Stock Exchange, may sweep away the best grounded
If nothing is lasting? If the rich man of to-day may be the beggar of
22. Man will curse Thee, God CAPITAL, when they behold my degradation;
will deny Thy power, when they measure the depth of my fall; they will
23. For the sake of Thine own glory, restore me to my former position.
me from my lowliness, because my heart is filling with gall, and curses
thronging to my lips!
24. Wild God, blind God, stupid God! Beware lest the scales finally
from the eyes of the rich, and they perceive that they are moving
on the verge of an abyss; Tremble, lest they throw Thee into the abyss,
fill it up, and join hands with the Socialists to dethrone Thee.
25. Yet, what profanity, what blasphemy am I now guilty of!
26. Powerful God, pardon me these insane and criminal words. Thou art
Master, who distributest the good things of the earth, without
after the merits of Thy chosen ones, and withdrawing Thy gifts at Thy
Thou knowest what Thou doest.
27. Thou smitest my interests; Thou art only trying me for my good.
28. O friendly, loving God, grant me Thy favor once more! Thou art
itself; and when Thou smitest me, it must be that I have unconsciously
29. O Lord, if Thou returnest my riches to me, I vow, I will obey Thy
with increased rigor. I will exploit the wageworkers more mercilessly
ever; I will deceive the consumers with greater cunning; I will pluck
stockholders and investors more wholesale.
30. I crawl before Thee like a dog before the master who beats him. I
Thy property. May Thy will be done!