In the Jewish Quarter [Judengasse] was I born and educated; until my fifteenth year, they tried to beat the Talmud into me. My teachers were inhuman beings [Unmenschen], my colleagues were bad company, inducing me to secret sin; my body was frail, my spirit raw.
Hess' Diary, September 16, 1836
I was supposed to devote myself only to the Talmud. But the Talmud utterly repelled me, thought I was still a pious Jew-boy [Judenkind]. I wanted to satisfy my craving to be active, to do something: this craving looked for a sphere for itself because none was offered it. I did not want to be a good-for-nothing - and therefore I became a writer.
My main problem was, naturally, religion: from it I moved later on to the principles of ethics. First to be examined was my positive religion [ie. Judaism]. It collapsed. So I wanted to base myself on naturaly religion: but my agony was so great, that this [foundation] also collapsed before my eyes. Nothing, nothing remained. I was the most miserable person in the world. I became an atheist.
Hess' Diary p. 40
A writer? What education did I receive? None. Where did I study? Nowhere. What did I study? It does not matter. I nonetheless became a writer immediately, because I wrote more than I have ever read; hence I thought more than I had food for thought.
The vocation of man, as that of any other creature, is to be active in all his being. But man cannot act as an individual. The essence of his life activity is cooperation with other individuals of his species. Outside this cooperation, outside of society, man does not achieve any specific human activity. But so long as this co-operation is arbitrarily ruled by accidentality, so long as it is not organized, man remains limited and constricted in his life-activity....
Bestimmung des Menschen, p. 275
The focus of all life is its economy, the mode through which every living creature produces its material existence. I know no other criterion for the evaluation of social life except that of social economy. In society, just like anywhere else, the mode of production is the focus around which revolve all the modes of life: in the historical life of conscious beings, it is also the focus of all modes of consciousness.
Hess to Herzen, March 1850, Briefwechsel p. 253
Die europäische Triarchie (The European Triarchy)
He who wishes to study the barometric level of spiritual freedom must examine the relationship of the state to its Jewish subjects.
Translation brought in Prophecy and Politics: Socialism, Nationalism, and the Russian Jews, 1862-1917 by Jonathan Frankel
We Germans are the most universal, the most European people of Europe.