" greid the actor has written a tract here on MARXIST ETHICS, utterly amateurish, using the well-known vocabulary. however he does have a naive interest in speculative thinking, and i occasionally go through a few points with him. he is still totally taken up with the question of how men would have to change in order to change the world, so that they could change themselfs. he sees all sorts of ethical and pseudo-ethical odds and ends looming in the proletatariat, he hears them talking about the inhumanity of their exploiters, about their own animal existence, he sees conceptions of better worlds forming in them, and he sees them going into training for their struggle. we examine a few of these ought-and-may sentences, which relate to social behaviour, which derive from old ethical sentences systems (to get him to accept this plural was difficult) or at least occur in them. in the end i suggest a practical formulation to him. in the interest of the class struggle ought-and-may sentences which contain the expression 'you swine' should be converted into sentences containing 'you ass'. sentences whose 'you swine' cannot be converted into 'you ass', must be extirpated. example: the sentence 'you must not sleep with your mother' was once a 'you ass' - sentence, for in an earlier organisation of society it involved great confusion in the matter of property and production of relationships. in this regard it is today no longer a 'you ass' sentence, but just a 'you swine' sentence. when you get down to it the sentence ought to be dropped entirely. the struggling proletariat will however use it in certain circumstances as a 'you ass' sentence, which goes something like this: 'you ought not to sleep with your mother, you ass, because your partners in the struggle have their prejudices and thus you could put your struggel in jeopardy. over and above which the courts will throw you in prison'. it is easy to see how relatively immoral these sentences are, since a peculiar lack of objectivity clings to them, which repels men of ethics. the reason of course is that the matter on which the argument might have been based has disappeared (the property and production relationships) so that the 'matter' has now become ethics pure and simple."
Bertold Brecht - 15 jan 40