I am the secret of perpetual youth, the everlasting creator of life; where I am not, death rages. I am the comfort, the hope, the dream of the oppressed. I destroy what exists; but from the rock whereon I light new life begins to flow. I come to you to break all chains which bear you down; to free you from the embrace of death, and instill a new life into your veins. All that exists must perish; that is the eternal condition of life, and I, the all destroying, fulfill that law to create a fresh new existence. I will renovate to the very foundations the order of things in which you live, for such is the offspring of sin, whose blossom is misery and whose fruit is crime. The grain is ripe, and I am the reaper. I will dissipate every delusion which has mastery over the human race. I will destroy the authority of the one over the many; of the lifeless over the living; of the material over the spiritual. I will break in pieces the authority of the great; OF’ THE LAW OF PROPERTY. Let the will of each be master of mankind, one’s own desires fashion laws, one’s own strength be one’s own property, for the freeman is the sacred man, and there is nothing sublimer than he. Let the delusion be trampled under foot which gives one individual power over millions; which reduces millions to the subjection of one; which would teach that one possesses the power to make others happy.
Let the delusion be destroyed which provides for the mastery of death over life, of the past over the future. The law of the dead, that is their own law; it shares their lot and dies with them-it must not prevail over life. Life is in itself a law. And since law is for the living and not for the dead, and since you are the living, there exists no one who dare master you; thus you alone are the law, your own free will the single sublime law, and therefore I will destroy the mastery of the dead over the living. Destroyed be the delusion which makes mankind the slave of his own work, of his own property. The noblest gift of mankind is his productive power; therein lies the source of all prosperity, and not in what is produced; in production itself is the employment of your power, therein lies your true and highest enjoyment. Man’s work is his true life, the living must not be beholden
to the lifeless, must not be made subject to it. Therefore, DESTROYED BE THE DELUSION WHICH HAMPERS ENJOYMENT AND LIMITS FREE WILL, which elevates property over man, and degrades him to become the slave of his own work. Look around you, misguided one, on these abundant meadows through which you wander, slaves, strangers. You shall walk them free, free from the yoke of the living, free from the chains of the dead. What nature has made, mankind cultivates and transforms into fruitful gardens; it belongs to mankind, to the needy, and no one dare come and say: “To me belongs this forever, and all you are only guests, whom I suffer as long as it pleases me, from whom I get rent and whom I drive away when it pleases me. What nature has given, and man has produced, and what the living stand in need of, is mine?’ Destroyed be this lie. To him who is in need belongs alone what satisfies, and of such super-abundance is offered you by nature, by your own resources. Behold the houses within the towns and everything that satisfies and pleases mankind. All of you must wander past as if strangers; the mind and the arm of men have created it, and therefore it belongs to man, the living. And no single person dare come and say: “To me belongs everything that man has produced in his diligence. I alone have a right to it, and others may only enjoy as it pleases me when they pay me rent.’ Destroyed be this lie along with the other; for what man has produced belongs to man for his boundless enjoyment, as do all other things on the earth.
I will destroy the existing order of things which divides the one humanity into hostile peoples, into strong and weak, into privileged and outlawed, into rich and poor, for that makes unfortunate creatures of one and all. I will destroy the order of things which makes millions the slaves of the few, and those few the slaves of their own power, of their own wealth. I will destroy the order of things which severs enjoyment from labor, which turns labor into a burden and enjoyment into a vice, which makes one man miserable through want and another miserable through super-abundance. I will destroy this order of things which consumes the vigor of manhood in the service
of the dead, of inert matter, which sustains one part of mankind in idleness or useless activity, which forces thousands to devote their sturdy youth to the indolent pursuit of soldiery, officialism. speculation and usury, and the maintenance of such like despicable conditions, while the other half, by excessive exertion and sacrifice of all enjoyment of life, bears the burden of the whole infamous structure. I will destroy even the very memory and trace of this delirious order of things which, pieced together out of force, falsehood, trouble, tears, sorrow, suffering, need, deceit, hypocrisy and crime, is shut up in its own reeking atmosphere, and never receives a breath of pure air, to which no ray of pure joy ever penetrates.
Let everything be destroyed which oppresses you and makes you suffer, and from the ruins of the old let there arise a new undreamed of happiness. Let no hatred, envy, jealousy, animosity remain among you. You must recognize as brothers and sisters all who live; and free to will, free to act, free to enjoy, you shall know the worth of existence. Arise then, ye people of the earth, arise, ye sorrow stricken and oppressed. Ye, also, who vainly struggle to clothe the inner desolation of your hearts, with the transient glory of riches, arise! Come and follow in my track with the joyful crowd, for I know not how to make distinction between those who follow me. There are but two peoples from henceforth on earth-the one which follows me, and the one which resists me. The one I will lead to happiness, but the other I will crush in my progress. For I am the REVOLUTION, I am the new creating force. I am the divinity which discerns all life, which embraces, revives and rewards.
RICHARD WAGNER (1813–1883)
(It is not always remembered that Richard Wagner was an active propagandist of revolutionary thought and wrote on every pertinent subject of his days: communist essays, subversive views of the State, the importance of revolutionary activity-all claimed his attention. During the Saxon revolution of 1848 and 1849, he fought behind the barricades in street battles, and had to flee from Saxony for his life. He was deeply in sympathy with this period of European hope and disappointment — HIPPOLYTE HAVEL, in the “Revolutionary Almanac”.)