Review: Max Stirner by Saul Newman

  • Posted on: 3 October 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">Marx and Philosophy</a> - Review by Richard Booher

Saul Newman (ed.)
Max Stirner
Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York, 2011. 240pp., £57.50 hb
ISBN 9780230283350

<p>Max Stirner was the <em>enfant terrible</em> of the left Hegelian circle, often referred to as the &lsquo;young Hegelians&rsquo;, that arose in Berlin in the 1840s. In his lifetime, Stirner&rsquo;s sole book, <em>The Ego and Its Own</em>, sent shockwaves through left Hegelian intellectual circles, inciting critical responses by the likes of Bruno Bauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, and the young Karl Marx. By the end of Stirner&rsquo;s life, however, he and his book were almost completely forgotten. Efforts have been made to revive Stirner several times, most importantly by the nineteenth-century anarchist John Henry Mackay, who is responsible for collecting and preserving Stirner&rsquo;s writings and authoring a comprehensive biography of Stirner. </p>

<p>The present edited volume aims to bring about another resurrection of this egoistic gadfly by introducing Stirner to a broader public and demonstrating his relevance to contemporary radical theory. It contains a substantial introduction, six essays on Stirner&rsquo;s thought and influence, a brief biography of Stirner by David Leopold, as well as a translation of an essay published in 1847 under the name G. Edward, which may have been authored by Stirner himself. The essays contained in this volume would serve as a helpful aid to those encountering Stirner for the first time, though there are also essays that will be of interest to scholars of Stirner, anarchism, and Marxism. </p></td><td><img title="Pirate, lamprey, or marketeer?" src=""></td></tr...

<p>Many of the essays touch on the relationship between Stirner and Marx, and with good reason. The lengthiest section of Marx and Engels&rsquo; <em>The German Ideology</em> is devoted to attacking &lsquo;Saint Max&rsquo;, as he is mockingly referred to by Marx. This alone is <em>prima facie</em> evidence for the importance that Stirner had for Marx. Paul Thomas&rsquo; contribution to this volume develops an interpretation of the relationship between Marx and Stirner intended to show that Stirner&rsquo;s impact on Marx was deep and substantive. In his central work, Stirner attacks a series of ideas &ndash; State, Family, Man &ndash; which he describes as fixed ideas lacking in substantive reality, and which are hypostasized by individuals in such a way that they come to dominate human life. According to Thomas, Marx&rsquo;s arguments against Stirner reveal the shortcomings of Stirner&rsquo;s approach, in that they demonstrate how Stirner succumbs to ideological illusions about the nature of individuality. Stirner, on Thomas&rsquo; reading, conceives of liberation as involving simply a change of belief and ignores the material realities of the oppressive apparatus of the state and other social and economic institutions. It was Marx, according to Thomas, who was able to see that liberation and freedom required changes in the material conditions of human society, and not merely changes in our ideas. On this account, it was the prodding of Stirner that led Marx to articulate his theory of ideology and to develop a materialist argument for the social nature of humankind. The upshot of this reading is that the development of some of the central tenets of historical materialism are in great part a product of Marx&rsquo;s engagement with Stirner.</p>

<p>Saul Newman argues that Stirner&rsquo;s account of the problem of voluntary servitude is a strong and valuable resource to which contemporary radical political theorists ought to pay more attention. It was Stirner more than any other modern radical thinker, according to Newman, who made the problem of persons&rsquo; submission to repressive and oppressive institutions a central theme for radical political thought. While Newman is correct that Stirner had a role in making this problem central, some aspects of his claims concerning Stirner&rsquo;s value and originality seems to be overplayed. For example, Newman claims that one of the &lsquo;major contributions of Stirner&rsquo;s thought to anarchism, and indeed to radical politics generally today, is to bring to light what was the blind spot of revolutionary discourses based on the idea of universal emancipation &ndash; the problem of voluntary servitude.&rsquo; (206) As a historical point, this comment is apt and corresponds nicely with Paul Thomas&rsquo; account of Stirner&rsquo;s role in the development of Marx&rsquo;s account of ideology. However, Newman seems to intend his point to apply to the present and suggests that understanding the problem of voluntary servitude requires a return to the study of Stirner. It would not be accurate to claim that the problem of voluntary servitude has been a blind spot for radical political theory in the twentieth-century, as it is a problem dealt with by numerous thinkers who have sought to develop the Marxist theory of ideology, including but not limited to Gramsci, Althusser, and the members of the Frankfurt school. Perhaps the concept of voluntary servitude has not entered into public consciousness as it should, but there has hardly been a dearth of attention paid to it by radical political theorists. It might be that what Newman means, rather, is that Stirner&rsquo;s approach to the problem is superior to other approaches. However, no argument is offered for this position and, it seems rather, that Stirner has a rather weak account of how the &lsquo;spooks&rsquo; he aims to exorcise originate or how they come to have their power and what it would take to liberate ourselves from them. Stirner may have been one of the first to identify the variety of ways in which what he called &lsquo;fixed ideas&rsquo; can cause people to reconcile themselves to oppressive and unfree social conditions, but he doesn&rsquo;t seem to have a theory capable of thoroughly explaining this phenomenon. A stronger argument needs to be made for the strength of Stirner&rsquo;s account relative to other theories in order to successfully establish Stirner&rsquo;s importance for contemporary radical thought.</p>

<p>Because of Stirner&rsquo;s opposition to the state and his reception by anarchists such as John Henry Mackay, Benjamin Tucker, and Dora Marsden, he is often included in anthologies and histories of anarchism, though he never described himself as such. If anarchism is simply the belief that the authority of the state is illegitimate, then Stirner is quite properly regarded as an anarchist. Some anarchists, however, have been uncomfortable with the inclusion of Stirner in their tradition. This is primarily because of Stirner&rsquo;s stubborn individualism and his rejection of the idea of revolution and political programs. Stirner&rsquo;s favored form of political action is the individual revolt or insurrection, a form of action which may perhaps not even be properly conceived of as political. Additionally, Stirner seems to reject all forms of association between individuals that are not temporary and he even encourages individuals to regard others as property or means to be made use of, rather than as deserving respect or recognition as having value of their own. Hence, for anarchists who aim to define an anarchist political program, or even to articulate the possibility of a stable anarchist society, Stirner is commonly seen as bad company to keep.</p>

<p>In her contribution to the present volume, &lsquo;Why Anarchists Need Stirner&rsquo;, Kathy E. Ferguson argues that Stirner offers a helpful corrective to doctrinaire tendencies of some anarchist theorists. Ferguson offers both a conceptual and a historical argument for her view. The historical argument documents Stirner&rsquo;s influence on important anarchist thinkers such as Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Gustav Landauer, and others. Ferguson&rsquo;s conceptual argument attempts to lay out what these thinkers found attractive in Stirner, which is both his attack on various forms of reification and also the worries that he raises about the desire for authority that can threaten to turn allegedly liberatory political movements into repressive ones. Setting aside concerns about Stirner&rsquo;s anarchist credentials, another essay in the present volume by Ruth Kinna offers a very fine, albeit brief, account of Stirner&rsquo;s influence on John Henry Mackay and Dora Marsden, both interesting thinkers who developed different forms of egoism under the influence of Stirner. Both authors make it clear that the attempts to cleanse Stirner from histories of the anarchist tradition are untenable, though Ferguson&rsquo;s argument that anarchists <em>need</em> Stirner is not entirely successful. For a great deal of Ferguson&rsquo;s strategy consists in showing how Stirner&rsquo;s ideas bear a family resemblance to recent work on ideology by Slavoj Žižek. If Ferguson&rsquo;s argument is correct, then Stirner might possibly be a useful thinker to engage with. But if Marxist and post-Marxist work on ideology would also alert activists and theorists to the same dangers that Stirner warned against, then it isn&rsquo;t clear that Stirner is <em>needed</em>. At least, more would need to be said about Stirner&rsquo;s unique merits vis-&agrave;-vis other thinkers.</p>

<p>I will conclude by noting two general concerns about the present volume. The first is that too few of the essays engage in criticism of Stirner. Much effort is made to present Stirner&rsquo;s ideas in a favorable light and some intriguing interpretations are offered, but Stirner&rsquo;s failings and weaknesses are generally ignored or glossed over. This is unfortunate, as one can learn a great deal from a consideration of a thinker&rsquo;s faults, and the opportunity to learn from Stirner in that way is missed. Second, there are several important topics omitted that deserve more attention. Among these are Stirner&rsquo;s conception of property, his understanding of freedom, and his relationship to Hegel. These topics are frequently alluded to, but each deserves a more thorough discussion. These sins of omission are only venial, though, especially in a volume that was produced with the intention of stimulating rather than terminating discussion. In this respect this volume succeeds, and will serve as a valuable resource for students of Stirner and the movements or thinkers who he influenced.</p>

<p><em>30 September 2012</em></p>


In the end these marxists want to keep suggesting us anarchists should concentrate on marxism and marxists thinkers. I say we should delve deeper on Stirner, Kropotkin, Proudhon, Goldman and Emile Armand and "The right to be greedy" by for Ourselves and Charles Fourier. The anarchists that are afraid of Stirner are mostly the platformists who i as well as many others tend to include in the marxist sector.

"The right to be greedy" was by Paul Lafarge. For Ourselves merely adopted the title, about 80 years later.

Lafargue wrote "The Right to be Lazy."

I stand corrected. Good catch.

For example the contemporary guru of platformists, Wayne Price, has been publishing articles called "Marxism for anarchists" There one can see that they worship their marx over anarchism.

Wayne isn't 'They.' For individualists, ya'll are bad at differentiation 'round these parts some times.

they is used both as a singular and plural, so I don't really see your point.

i stanmds for teh right to be who ever I fuckin like anbd live myu own fduclkin lifer incluiding havbe sasme sexc woithj manm tjhe right to kill aggresors tyhe fgreewdom tyo owemn mny owen fuickjin property derived fretom thge lkabnourt of mnyu own fuckjin workj asnd toi driove my fduickjinm v89 chjevy wiotjhout y fuckin drtiverts licemnce asnd rehgistration,,AND not to payu for anythionk no mfuckin monmey iof I have tjhe power to taker ity ifg thje othert personm hjas a fuivckin exsessive surplids ofg ity sityting arouind collectyinmg dust fuckoinm yesah.,.,8ball

the right? rights are nothing but abstractions foo!

Stirner wrote about surplus value before Marx and helped Marx avoid a snare that Negri has recently fallen into - regarding reason as a religion ( via Spinoza )

Thankfully ' The German Ideology' was left to the gnawing criticism of mice while ' The Ego and its own' is still worthy of attention.

For atheists - and what self-respecting anarch isn't an atheist so long as religion hangs around like a bad smell! - Max is useful, like Occam and De Sade before him.

Stirner wields Occams razor like he pulled it easily out of a stone.

Stirners ' union-of-egoists' idea always gets ignored in bs articles like this, but anyone interested in enlightened and sustainable self-interest should know about it.
As a thinker Stirner is flawed - as are all thinkers, including the servile Gramsci of the 20's. the wife-murderer Althusser and the intellectually bankrupt Franfurt school.
But suit yourselves
Marx and his bourgeois capitalist boss, hated Stirner, Proudhon and Bakunin.
I'm happy to detest them straight back and Stirner is the best place to learn the best ways of doing that.
Yours in unionism

well mtrhankl u verty fuckin muchj for knoweinhg abnout surplusd value anbfd thatr bStirmner precedfed marxc!!1q,,AND mny unmcle ghavbe me satirner to leartn from, whjen i drtopped outta schopol.,.,8ball

Wait! Althusser a murderer? So you're a moralist and define mental illness as a flaw rather than an induced social condition, therefore you despise all anarchists, which makes you an individualist platformist, in other words, a wingnut!?

WTF gop stickl you antio-abnstractions up you assd!!.,.,8ball

57 Euro's? Thanks, anarcademic, Saul Newmann.


Can anyone in a concise way explain why an atheist capitalist could not incorporate the Stirner consciousness into their own MO? Convince me other than the selfishness of surplus value and the lazy division of labour, which ARE cultural abstracts!

Richard Dawkin's 'The Selfish Gene' in a nutshell has produced the post-modern theory with the empirical data to back it up to define non-ideological individualist anarchist behavior,(but not atheistic capitalist behavior which requires the ideological premise that qualitative labour divided into class delineations deserves a stratified quantitative wage reward)

Can anyone in a concise way explain why an atheist capitalist could not incorporate the Stirner consciousness into their own MO? Convince me other than the selfishness of surplus value and the lazy division of labour, which ARE cultural abstracts!

To Stirner, the state was a curse.

Atheist capitalists commonly believe in the ‘right’ to own property; i.e. ‘right’ is a concept that transcends the individual and is assumed by atheist capitalists to be a reason for the existence of the state. It is a ‘concept’ of the type that Stirner eschewed.

and as we have noticed, people who acquire much more than they need live in fear of it being taken from them by others who do not have a sufficiency. if you are greedy, you likely believe that everyone is greedy, therefore you must protect yourself against the other greedy bastards. as ayn rand, who “believed in the inherent depravity of human nature” says;

“... a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into chaos and gang warfare.... .... If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door - or to join a protective gang of citizens who would fight other gangs, formed for the same purpose, and thus bring about the degeneration of society into the chaos of gang rule, i.e., rule by brute force, into perpetual warfare of prehistoric savages.” ---‘The Virtue of Selfishness’

Most discussions of egoism such as this one on Stirner fail to inquire into the egoist philosopher’s view of self-and-other. For example, Nietzsche, and it seems Stirner, denied the reality of the ‘ding-an-sich’ and came up with the notion of übermensch [Nietzsche] and ‘unmensch’[Stirner]. in Nietzsche’s case, and possibly in Stirner’s, this unique ‘self’ related to the whole ball of wax, in the manner of a whorl in the flow. Thus the notion of a Darwinian species as a ‘thing-in-itself’ was mocked by Nietzsche in his anti-darwin writings. The relations amongst things were to Nietzsche [as with Mach] more important than the ‘things’ that were continuously coming and going in transforming relational space.

“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067

One can recognize in this view, the individual as the hurricane in the flow of the atmosphere, clearly unique and having a transcendental aspect; i.e. arising out of the nonlocal, nonvisible, nonmaterial [i.e. the relational-spatial], the ‘übermensch”. This would be the same sort of ‘unique individual’ as in aboriginal culture where ‘authenticity/originality’ would be appropriate adjectives.

in capitalist society, almost without exception since mainstream science rules in both capitalist theory and practice; ... mainstream science which was mocked by Nietzsche and by Mach [in terms of its reliance on absolute concepts or ‘secularized theological concepts such as ‘ding-an-sich’], the individual is assumed to be one of these absolute, local ‘ding-an-sich’ concepts, and is therefore categorized by ‘what the thing-in-itself does’ in terms of a series of actions leading to outcomes. that is ayn rand’s view of the egotist individual, it is a producer of outcomes, a ‘creator’ as she often calls her heros in her story, whereas the world is filled with these other wretched creatures, lazy ‘dinge-an-sich’ who are second-handers and parasites; i.e. the measure of her individual’s selfishness comes in terms of his creative and productive achievements which entitle him to ‘own property’. in the following quote, note how she dwells on ‘right’ which is a concept which Stirner eschewed;

”They [the indians] had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you are a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. . . .Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did.”

the 'right' of the selfish man to own property, to ayn rand, comes with his demonstrating practical ability in 'applied selfishness'.

quite likely, there is room for nietzsche’s übermensch and stirner’s unmensch in an aboriginal society, regardless of their ‘creative/productive performance’ and how much property they owned or whether they even believed in ‘the right’ to own property. but there was no room for ayn rand’s atheist capitalist ‘egotist’ there, particularly if he was a low producer depending on others for survival [as in mutual aid]. what good is selfishness if you're not going to use it? use it or lose it.

in conclusion, the notion of 'der einzige', the 'unique individual', to be understood as the author intended, must be reconciled with the author's general view of self-other, habitat-inhabitant, ... duhhh.

not everybody assumes the reality of a 'thing-in-itself' as most atheist capitalists do, ... there must be at least one percent of participants in this forum who do not.

do you believe in god now emile. are you a born-again christian? sounds like you are definitely a 'chosen one'. good thing god loves you.

Shut up! Emile is an atheist!

As Stirner and Nietzsche observed, the popular brand of atheism, called ‘mainstream scientific thinking’, is not atheism at all, but is a secularized theological belief system that believes in ‘things-in-themselves’ and sees humans as ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own locally originating, internally driven and directed development and behaviour, as in ‘genetic theory’ and ‘darwinism’. Now these models are useful tools, but Western civilization is characterized by people confusing them for reality, and thus believing in a ‘spook’ in the machine [the local internal jumpstart sourcing of development and behaviour].

Now, that contrasts with the understanding that the ‘thing-in-itself’ is a feature in a larger system, in the manner that the hurricane is a feature in a relational-spatial flow, so that its development and behaviour doesn’t merely ‘issue forth from the interior its local Ding-an-sich self’.

So, do you believe,as with many Western civ popular science thinkers, in the human organism as a ‘thing-in-itself’ whose development and behaviour is jumpstart-animated by a ‘spook in the machine’? as mocked by Stirner and Nietzsche?

Or, do you believe that the ‘thing’, rather than being a ‘thing-in-itself’ [‘der Einzige’ does not mean ‘thing-in-itself’ but more like unique/authentic, as each storm-cell is; i.e. it’s development and behaviour does not jumpstart out of its ‘Ding-an-sich’ interior, pushed out by a spook, but derives from the continually transforming relational space the unique and authentic thing develops in.

Now, the vast majority of Western civ indoctrinated, mainstream-science informed minds believe in the Ding-an-sich with the spook in it that jumpstarts its development and behaviour. Ayn Rand clearly does. So this sort of atheism that believes in Dinge-an-sich is a secularized theological belief system; the belief is in spooks in local, independently-existing machines made of meat, that jumpstart from the interior, the development and behaviour of these local lumps of robo-fleisch.

On the other hand, these same self-proclaimed atheist believers in spook-driven Dinge-an-sich, point the finger at those who understand that ‘things’ such as ‘humans’ are features within a continually transforming relational space, and accuse them of ‘believing in God’ because they see the human’s development and behaviour as being inhabited by something ‘bigger’ than the human as a ‘thing-in-itself’.

As Nietzsche said, and he did not believe, like most Western atheists do, in the spook-driven Ding-an-sich, since in a continually transforming relational space, there can be no absolute ‘individual’ ‘thing-in-itself’, the , ...

“Continual transition does not allow us to speak of “individuals,” etc; the “number” of beings is itself in flux. We would say nothing of time and know nothing of motion if we did not, in a coarse fashion, believe we see stationary forms beside transitory flow. The same applies to cause and effect, and without the erroneous conception of “empty space” we should certainly not have acquired the conception of space. The principle of identity has behind it the “appearance” that it refers to the same things. A world in a state of becoming could not, in a strict sense, be “comprehended” or “known”; only to the extent that the “comprehending” and “knowing” intellect encounters a coarse, already-created world, fabricated out of nothing but appearances but become firm to the extent that this kind of appearance has preserved life–only to this extent is there anything like “knowledge”; i. e., a matching of earlier and more recent errors with one another.” – Nietzsche, Will to Power, 520 (1885)

The self-proclaimed ‘atheist’ of the Ayn Rand type, a very popular strain of ‘atheist’ in these parts, believes in the idealizations of mainstream science; i.e. ‘the human as a thing-in-itself’ whose development and behaviour are jumpstart animated from some ‘spook-in-the-machine-made-of-meat’. these atheists are secularized theological cult members, believers in spooks. They dominate in modern Western civilization.

Are you one of them? One of their distinguishing characteristics is that they accuse others who believe that the development and behaviour of things such as humans coming from beyond the material form itself [as is always the case with a system that is an included feature in a suprasystem], are ‘believers in God’, rather than in a fecund blackness or sunyata [relational dynamics].

it doesn't matter what i say to you, bc you mockers already always have me 'all figured out' as a-thing-in-itself.

but thanks for that, truly. you are wonderful people.

An egoist doesn't need to believe in the 'right' to own property in order to utilize the advantages that come with their posture as owner in a system that protects the 'right' to own property. In the immediate for an egoist finding themself in, i don't know, say a capitalist society, would an egoist not legitimize utilizing government protection of property for their self interest. Does an egoist need to be a capitalist to, out of self-interest, capitalize by egoistically 'legitimating' their use of capitalist methods to interact within a capitalist society?

You seem to be heading for an ‘ideal’ or ‘absolute’ definition of egotist. Ayn Rand’s view of ‘egotist’ was ‘practical’ in that government or some kind of egotist self-preservation society is needed to make the egotist game satisfying. Rand claimed that her love for her partner was ‘selfish love’. What else does an egotist need besides a bedmate? How about a lot of people to piss on. What’s an ego for if it can’t exalt in putting others down? Ideal egotism is ‘virgin egotism’ which is not very satisfying. Without patsies to boost the ego, egotists would simply consume one another until the last surviving egotist would have no-one to play with and it would be ‘game over’. Government is a nice idea because it keeps a plentiful supply of ‘low-lifes’ in a pit, that can be employed as clay pigeons for egotist target practice.

You say; “would an egoist not legitimize utilizing government protection of property for their self interest?”

Ayn Rand is saying: “if government did not exist, egotists would have to invent it to prevent the truly creative from being brought down by lazies with low self-esteem who parasite off of egotist movers and shakers.”

As a matter of fact, the acknowledgement comes in here that it in fact was egotists that invented government. The Magna Carta Libertatum [“The Great Charter of the Liberties of England”] was formulated by the feudal barons to keep the king from messing with the game that the selfish barons were playing with the serfs;

“The 1215 charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties [‘rights’] and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.”

What’s this about ‘rights’. Does an aboriginal talk about ‘rights’? This notion of ‘rights’ is a kind of window within the base case of ‘prison’, control from the top. The king may have stepped aside but the ‘sovereign state’ has taken his place, so that the ‘Charters of rights and freedoms’ persist as small openings or windows carved in the ground of absolute central control. But the little people in the ‘democracy’ who get their jollies every time they hear these words ‘rights’, ‘liberties’, ‘freedoms’, ‘democracy’ are like mice who have the freedom to run from the cats while the ‘government’ ensures that this cat and mouse game continues; i.e. it protects the teeth and size of the cats [those with a taste for egotism in darwinian predatorial terms] at the same time as it hobbles the mice.

What happens to a modern egotist-capitalist if government is taken away? He no longer gets a huge police force and military that acknowledges that his disproportionate acquistions are coming from his innate thing-in-himself superiority and therefore defend his monopolies that allow him to exploit those whom he has managed to get a leg up on, in order that society may be well-served by preserving the superior types in power so that they may operate the sovereign state machine in trickle-down economy mode. No, the modern egotist is a darwinist who believes in his own innate, built-in superiority and for whom government is the banding together of such types to serve their ego-inflated darwinist views of themselves.

Nietzsche’s ‘übermensch’ is not ‘egotist’ in the sense of believing in the self's superior powers of ‘doing’ or ‘powerboating’ over others, his unique and transcendent self is NOT in terms of ‘coming forth out of its own [notional] internal spook power, it is in terms of living life to the full, ‘stepping up to the plate’;, the web of relations that one is situated in, ‘rising to the occasion’ in one’s uniquely situated inclusion in life, breathing in the nurturance of the world around one so that it will pull one’s assertive/creative/productive potentialities into blossom in unique arrangement. Everywhere in Nietzsche’s writing is this mocking of the Western civ ‘inside-outward-acting-only’ model of science and darwinism present. Always in his writing is there this sense that real life experience calls on one to rise to the occasion [giving oneself, Dionysianly, ecstatically, drunkenly, to the outside-inward pull of the occasion that comes from one’s unique situational inclusion in a continually transforming relational space; ... acknowledging the compelling outside-inward invitation to live life fully, that orchestrates the rising up and blossoming forth of a unique suite of assertive/creative/productive potentialities; i.e. ‘der Einige’.

The notion of a fully formed ego-self like God hatched as if from a popping corn machine in monotheist creation myth or like the machines made of meat that science hatches with its down-and-inward looking 'analytical inquiry', ... that portrays the self setting out, propelled by an already fully-formed package of equipment; knowledge, intellection, purpose and creative/productive actional capabilities package, that is the view of egotism that you and many others seem to be suggesting/promoting, is that of a Supreme Nerd that leads to a Supreme Nerd Herd, aka the ‘democratic sovereign state.

You're repulsive.

thank you. that's better than i usually get.

emile - i surely don't find you repulsive. you are clearly a fairly intelligent person, who appears to be quite well-read.

personally, i just wish you could communicate your ideas in less words and with less reliance on quotes from, and references to, others (usually long dead). i would love it if you could just concisely articulate YOUR thoughts on the topic, without placing them in the context of the thoughts of historical figures (or current figures for that matter). as someone without a college education, i do not appreciate the academic approach to discourse.

i suspect that i would enjoy a discussion with you face to face, but i have a hard time getting through many of your posts due to your style of written communication (here anyway).

obviously this comment is irrelevant to the subject at hand, so ignore as you please.

also you seem to mistake peoples responses to your comments and then go on tangential rants, and the rants go on for dayyyyysssss.


Thanks for your thoughtful, and I am interpreting, ‘well-intended’ comment.

With all due respect, I would say that ‘how we think’ or ‘how anyone thinks’ and thus ‘how you think’, ... is shaped by the culture we are raised in and thus by the people in that culture who have helped shaped its thinking, e.g. ‘Muhammed’ in the Islamic culture and ‘Jesus’ in the Christian culture.

I am saying that nobody’s thinking is ‘their own’ because it is based on assimilated ideas/understandings that come through the culture.

Everybody’s experience is ‘their own’ but nobody’s thinking is ‘their own’.

Therefore, when I am engaging in discourse with another person or persons, I almost always have recourse to bring into question the way they are thinking. NOT ‘what they are thinking’, but ‘the way they are thinking’. To understand the roots of the way they are thinking [the way anyone thinks], one has to go back to historical branch points; e.g. to the branch between East and West in the different views of ‘nothing’. In the East, ‘nothingness’ = ‘the wellspring of everything’ [pure potentialities] as in Lao Tsu’s writings. In the West, ‘nothingness’ = the opposite of ‘thingfulness’, as in ‘it exists’ or ‘it does not exist’.

I have just referenced Lao Tsu to bring up the point that there is more than one way to ‘think of’ the same thing, and it very often happens that in dialogue in a forum, I can see that the person I am dialoguing with is using one way of thinking while I am using another. I therefore have to implicitly say; ‘stop right here’, we have to descend down to one level deeper to get on the same page, by making our different assumptions about how to think about things overt, instead of leaving them unstated where they will confound any and all attempts for us to reconcile our views.

Most of my quotes are to do with these unstated assumptions that form the basis for the way we think. I cite Poincaré alot because he wrote several books on this very topic such as ‘Science and Hypothesis’, ‘Science and Method’, ‘The Value of Science’. These are all to do with what is in the basement of our manner of thinking, mine and yours. Whether you want to dredge it up and look at it is up to us, but if we don’t, our dialogues and debates are prone to be ‘at crossed purposes’ because we are using different assumption as to ‘how to think about things’ that are not included in the formulations of our thoughts. As Poincaré points out, one of the most common assumptions we make, and we make this assumption to simplify our formulating of the observation or model, ... is that ‘the present depends only on the immediate past’ [the time derivative of mathematical calculus] and not on direct influence from a more remote past. If you are using this and you are discussing the Syrian conflict, you will be explaining it in the same terms as the news media; i.e. the people got angry and sought to depose the dictator, Assad, and the rebels are doing this and Assad is doing that.

If one suspends the simplification that the ‘time derivative’ gives us, we open up the window of inquiry into the remote past to include the chopping up of the Middle East by the French and British colonizers in such a manner as to achieve continuing controls over the region, helping to sustain the independence of the imposed sovereign states by installing puppet governments and backing them up with military support. Seen as an ongoing process, this process has had its problems as rebels like Nasser and Assad have deposed puppets and come to power over their piece of the patchwork made of the region by the French and British colonizers. Ideally, they wanted a united arab peoples of the region, but the colonizers were able to keep some of the most secure puppet states in hand and set them against the rebel brothers, in this case Assad.

Someone like Russell Means, modern aboriginal leader, who is tuned to how the colonizers have been manipulating the colonized over the centuries is quick to see the Syrian crisis in these terms [wherein the remote past is directly influencing the present], but the media is giving us the ‘differential equation’.

So, if I am dialoguing with a person who is formulating his thoughts about the Syrian conflict using the simplifying assumption that the present depends only on the immediate past, ... I will try to bring his implicit and hidden assumptions up and onto the table so that it can be seen that we have a choice of assumptions here in how we think about the very same current unfoldings.

As I have just said, the assumptions built into mathematical physics are built into mainstream science and most people growing up in our Western culture are educated and come to think in ‘scientific terms’ in which case they are prone to make this simplification, that the present depends only on the immediate past. So, when the new media report on Syria in these terms, it sounds as if the problem starts with Assad and his bad treatment of his people. But in the longer term view, the colonizing powers have been continually trying to maintain domination/control over the region and all kinds of stuff has been going such as sanctions to make life miserable for the people in those states led by a non-puppet leader [a leader who is not ‘in the pocket of’ the colonizing powers]. This making life miserable for the people of a non-puppet is a tactic to have the people rise up and get rid of the non-puppet so that he can be replaced with a puppet. Of course, as everyone knows, there is clandestine support for the ‘rebels’ who are ready to start the insurrection and who will be well rewarded by the colonizing powers if they succeed in pulling off the deposing of the non-puppet. Eg.

“The United States and its allies have worked to foment a popular revolution under the guise of democracy-promotion. ... A US military attack on Iran would be “a last option” explained the former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. But for the moment, the United States is relying on “economic sanctions and attempts to foment a popular revolution.”

So, if we were in dialogue re Syria, and I could see that you were taking the short term viewpoint that the people of Syria got angry with the current leader of Syria and that was the source of the conflict, I would want to bring out the assumptions in ‘how you think that’ in order that we could have any chance of reconciling our views. It is in this context that I am usually citing people like Poincaré, Nietzsche, and Mach because they all delved into the assumptions we make that go into ‘how we think’.

I don’t have to cite them, of course, but to cite them, to me, is like a ‘hyperlink’ because they put a lot of work into exposing these assumptions and their impact on how we think. This gives the reader a chance to ‘not just take my simple word for it’, but to explore a whole lot of research into what goes into the assumptions that are foundational to ‘how we think’ differently about the same stuff.

Many people would just ‘label me’ as anti-U.S. or something like that when I suggest that the trouble in Syria is a smoldering from the continuing attempt by the colonizing powers to maintain control over the middle east, and insist instead that the Syrian people are uprising against the evil dictator Assad, who is the ‘cause’ of their misery and who is putting down his own people for doing nothing other than promoting democracy in their country. [btw. I don't support the sovereign state system period as it is conducive to war and civil war and spawning nasties at the top]

Where would you say that you get ‘your manner of thinking’? Do you think that there is a ‘right way of thinking’ that is free from assumptions that can tilt the thinking this way or that?

Anyhow, most of my citations are in-effect ‘hyperlinks’ to bring out some of the options we have that we are putting into the foundations of how we think that are the source of our thinking differently about the same things.

The idea of legitimacy is itself a morality steeped rectification.

NOT! 'legitimacy' pertains not to ‘morality’ but to logical consistency: in this case, 'are my actions consistent with my egotism?

legitimate: “in accordance with the laws of reasoning; logically inferable; logical: a legitimate conclusion. “

morality pertains to whether the behaviour of an individual or group is ‘good/correct/right’ or ‘bad/incorrect/wrong’ according to some ‘moral code’ or other. [and assuming that the individual is an absolute Ding-an-sich being with 'its own behaviour']

the difference between these two relates to the difference between Ayn Rand egotism and Nietzsche/Stirner egotism.

‘morality’ assumes that the individual is an ‘independent being’, an ‘inhabitant’ whose ‘inhabitant dynamic’ is mutually exclusive of the ‘habitat-dynamic’. this is the basis for moral codes of monotheist religions whose creation myths see each individual as a ‘separate item’ or ‘Ding-an-sich’.

for those philosophers like Nietzsche and Stirner, the ‘individual’ is NOT a Ding-an-sich [not an absolute self-standing 'being'].

Nietzsche’s notion of the self is ‘relational’; i.e. the individual is the relation between outside-inward flow-of-nurturing potentials influence [endosmosis] and inside-outward flow of material-kinetic influence [exosmosis]; i.e. to nietzsche, the individual is a ‘feature’ within a dynamic spatial-plenum that is a 'continual becoming';

“And do you know what “the world” is to me? Shall I show it to you in my mirror? This world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm, iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself; as a whole, of unalterable size, a household without expenses or losses, but likewise without increase or income …” –Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’, 1067

thus, what would be legitimate for nietzsche’s egotist [legitimate = logically consistent with his concept of egotism] would depend on this ‘relational self’ whose Athman = Brahman (whose personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self in the manner that the feature in the continual becoming is at the same time, the becoming like the storm-cell in the atmosphere).

this type of ‘individual’ understands that it is the spatial-plenum at the same time it is a feature in it, and what he does with the otherness around him, he does to himself (as in the aboriginal belief);i.e. he lives to transform the world he lives in and conflict fuels his transformative works. in this sense of 'self', he can't possibly hard-wire/anchor his behaviour to absolute rules of right or wrong.

“In extending his living space in a manner that destroys the space of others, he destroys his own space. Not initially his inside space, his ‘self’, but his outside space, this real outside-of-self which nourishes his ‘inside-of-self’. The protection of this outside space now becomes the condition without which he is unable to pursue the growth of his own powers of being.” – Frédéric Neyrat, ‘Biopolitics of Catastrophe’

‘Morality’ assumes that there IS such a thing as the ‘behaviour of an individual’ in an absolute sense, that can therefore be assessed as to ‘its rightness’ or ‘wrongness’.

In the Nietzschean view of self, the behaviour of the individual cannot be explicitly defined as the behaviour of an independently-existing Ding-an-sich and therefore cannot be judged as to ‘its rightness’ or ‘wrongness’. The Nietzschean egotist self is an agent of transformation, someone who is able to let himself/herself go, get drunk, party, impregnate or get pregnant, to ‘rise to the occasion’, to run with the wolves, to eat it all up [the endosmotic flow of nurturance] like a hurricane that is gulping in those therms to be able to better party it up. his/her behaviour is PURELY RELATIONAL and beyond good and evil.

Only when the ‘self’ views himself/herself as a Ding-an-sich does he/she see his/her behaviour as ‘absolute’ in the sense of ‘fully and solely’ his, and thus her egotism is seen as her own Ding-an-sich egotism and she unleashes it on what she sees as a mutually-exclusive 'otherness' around her, to consume it, destroy it, contaminate it, cripple it, mutilate it, according to how such action serves her egotist desires and purpose. This is the Ayn Rand version of ‘egotism’ wherein ‘self’ and ‘other’ are mutually exclusive, where creative/constructive/productive ‘outcomes’ are seen as causally determined by a local, independently-existing ‘self’ with its own locally originating, internal process driven and directed Ding-an-sich behaviour. The ‘moral code’ of Ayn Randism thus sees as ‘good’ those behaviours that satisfy the desires and purposes of the ‘Ding-an-sich’ individual, and sees behaviours that are caring of the otherness as altruism=evil.

The behaviours that would accord with the moral code of the Ayn Rand Ding-an-sich egotist would not be LEGITIMATE behaviours for the Nietschean/Stirnerian egotist [neither of them believed in the existence of the ‘Ding-an-sich’; i.e. they saw it as a metaphysical concept].

In a world of becoming that we are included in, our very physical forms [that which we call ‘being’] are not the jumpstart animative sourcing of our actions [they are like the form of the sails on a sailboat that derive from the dynamics they are included in]; i.e. we are relational forms and our behaviour is relational as in Machean physics and aboriginal cultural belief traditions (we are relational nodes in a relational web; i.e. like a sailboat, we derive our movement and our steerage from the relational dynamics we are included in.).

So, ‘morality’ is something that had to be invented to make sense out of Ding-an-sich being, to avoid this ghastly thought (to some) that we are not the best things in the world, but that we are there to do God's good works on earth. Morality is a kind of 'noblesse oblige' that associates with a view of man in a value hierarchy such as that of St. Augustine and the Church,where man is ranked immediately below the angels in the God, angels, man, animals, plants, minerals value hierarchy.

Morality is a defense mechanism against the uncivilized notion that we are instead relational features in a relational web of life. The aboriginals, meanwhile, found this sense of self inspiring in that we are then ‘one with everything’, ‘dimples in the continually transforming spatial plenum’, but Western civilization, starting from a belief in an all powerful monotheism, opted for the hierarchical separation of absolutely existing discrete Ding-an-sich beings whose absolutely-their-own behaviours jumpstarted from out of their own Ding-an-sich interiors [the 'powerboater' view of self]. NOW, since God has made these beings, God must give meaning to their absolutely-their-own, local interior jumpstarting behaviours, and ‘morality’ is thus born out of this concept of 'Ding-an-sich being’. Without ‘morality’ as a value-giving concept, a world composed of ‘beings’ would have no value. As Nietzsche says;

“In sum: morality was the great antidote against practical and theoretical nihilism. ... The nihilistic consequence (the belief in valuelessness) as a consequence of moral valuation: everything egoistic has come to disgust us (even though we realize the impossibility of the unegoistic); what is necessary has come to disgust us. ... Conclusion: Moral value judgments are ways of passing sentence, negations; morality is a way of turning one's back on the will to existence.”

“Given these two insights, that becoming has no goal and that underneath all becoming there is no grand unity in which the individual could immerse himself completely as in an element of supreme value, an escape remains: to pass sentence on this whole world of becoming as a deception and to invent a world beyond it, a true world. But as soon as man finds out how that world is fabricated solely from psychological needs, and how he has absolutely no right to it, the last form of nihilism comes into being: it includes disbelief in any metaphysical world and forbids itself any belief in a true world. Having reached this standpoint, one grants the reality of becoming as the only reality, forbids oneself every kind of clandestine access to afterworlds and false divinities--but cannot endure this world though one does not want to deny it.” ---Nietzsche, ‘The Will to Power’

The alternative, which accepts goal-less becoming, already well developed by aboriginal cultures around the world, is to accept oneself as being ‘one-with-everything’, in the manner of the storm-cell in the atmosphere or the ‘dimple’ in the spatial plenum of relativity and quantum physics.

Egotism, in this world of relational self-others within a common flow of becoming, is to live life to the fullest, to be the biggest possible receptacle for sucking in potential energy at the same time as being the biggest possible fountaining forth of material kinetics, a jelly-fish in jelly-land, ... a feedy-farty swirl-agent within the continually transforming relational space. A Dionysian with Apollonian guts, that resists being hijacked by his Apollonian support systems, as Emerson claims is the disease of Western civilization; i.e. 'the tool has run away with the workman'.

Anyhow, what’s ‘legitimate’ to the Dionysian egotist is not ‘moral’. ‘morality’ is for absolute Ding-an-sich beings, who, in making themselves ‘beings’ have already stacked the deck by making themselves out as ‘more valuable’ than ‘the rest of creation’ [the otherness that they make a unilateral declaration of independence from]. 'Morality' corresponds to an egotism pre-built into the definition of ‘human being’ as a Ding-an-sich whose behaviours are understood as purely and solely 'his own'.

I guess you're right Emile though the when the classical anarchists used the idea of legitimacy against the state it was interchangeable with a moral critique, Stirner took a more might and rhetoric make right approach to taking on the state as did Nietzsche. Also don't these logical insistence appeals rely to much on Aristotelian thinking which has been a co-surrogate of monotheistic ordering for some time now(going back to Aquinas)

Ultimately from a zero existential resting point where the will to power springs there is no inherent bias between a cult like existence and dynamically balanced harmony however you and me might like the latter, I would much rather make subjective appeals to what resonates with people then some objective standard of consistency though the latter can sometimes be useful, if you're a possessed reified being then that is what resonates with you if not all the better for me.

I have a feeling what ends the state will be a qualitative number of people with the right register of integrational energy that outdoes the segregating majority.

Egoism is so useless.

Art seperated from life is a capitalist construct, individualist-anarchists supersede capitalist art by making anti-social praxis an exercise in creative autonomy and individual survival. To carve a spear is individualist-anarchistic, to paint a landscape is capitalistic social. It is sooo obvious that the paradigm that exists in all of the western world has this absurd aesthetic about beauty and monumental expression when the structure as a language translates to authoritarian and elitist herd moralities. I am just sick of the boring and dull totality they seek! I think this is what Stirner meant, and he would have had no regrets of having died from a natural insect bite, possibly an allergy to bee stings, because I myself would have no regrets from being runover by a truck, or of dying from bullet wounds, because to live by Stirner's maxims it would be akin to existing like wild wolves roving the wilderness as amoral entities, revelling in our freedom and mortality, not living in sheltered churches fearful of the future and pessimistically taking out life insurance and seeking and grovelling for an eternal life.

My ego tells me Stirner and most of the egoist-nihilist stuff is useful in the early stages of deprogramming yourself and deconstructing all the shit they spoon-feed you as a kid. You put the emphasis on your autonomy and your interactions with oppression to see the coercive nature of things like the state, the pigs, corporate oligarchies, concepts like representation and institutionalized spirituality. The emphasis on yourself outlines the tools of oppression in contrast.

But eventually, you have to find something to motivate you to action and I've always found the egoist stuff is fucking useless for that. The best nihilist motivation you can hope for is spite. Don't get me wrong, I like spite! Lots of great things have been done out of spite! But can you get out of bed every day on spite alone?

That's what Stirner did for me, you are correct, his work is a manual to de-program or un-condition ones morals and perceptions of societies role in controlling ones life. Yes, it is an adolescent challenge these days, but 160 yrs ago approx it was heresy for all of members of the strictly religious society. Post-modern is where Foucault takes on and elaborates/modernises the Stirner/Nietzsche message to its conclusion. It's just up to anarchists to differentiate between the objective and subjective inner conflicts which exist between what they perceive as individual freedom and the identity that society has imposed upon them. In the end, as ancient poets describe, it is vanity that defeats all utopian desires.

Yeah, occupy was my crash-course in that grim reality. I didn't need the convincing but the way it played out in the camp I was a part of... pretty much exactly how you said. The internal enemies were so problematic, the analysis so weak, that there was never any real hope of a fight with the external enemy. Got to crawl before you walk, let alone running battles with the storm troopers.

Also, the internal programming/enemy is sooo ingrained by the cultural wall/fortress (forgive my metaphorical exuberance)that to resist one must first run the gauntlet of ones own family values, entrenched as they are, enslaved and religiously pious like sheep to their masters, and then venturing out into the society, like a wolf amongst sheep (but a compassionate non-hierarchical wolf)being kind and generous and not eating them, haha, BUT YOU ARE STILL THE OUTSIDER WHO DOES NOT OBEY!!! And so you are confined to a cage for wanting to be an individual in the true and not in the hipster sense. The struggle goes on nevertheless. But yes, Stirner at least gets us onto our feet.

PS. But at least you experienced grim reality. A majority will not even attempt a foray into the 'letting go' potentiality, which is an initiation into the tearing down of the facade of lies and the veneer of moral righteousness, which by way of token charity perpetuates the doctrine of reformist charity in the midst of global human degradation and enslavement.

i'm sold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Only a precious heart succumbs to compassionate ideas. (forgive the romantic poetical idiom)

put a gun to your head, human excrement.

I will if you do sweetheart! :) on the 3 count ... ready? 1 ... 2 ...

OP here. Good stuff wordsworth! You're wasted here. We should jerk each other of in the comment section more often! I do believe I'm smitten! Seriously though, how about that desert of the real? ... so thirsty ...

Thanks. I actually lured in all the trolls deliberately so that I could all get them together, sort of like netting a bunch of morons, condensing their hatred into one thread, and I stand here now, as the executioner, laughing at their naivety. Yes, the desert sounds exciting,,,

Actually I am a registered poster who goes anon occasionally because the trolls are sooo boring. I'm Hal9000 actually, a non adjective anarchist and former nihilist who has recently acquired new values. I know, it sounds very Chomskyish,,,,Actually I just threw up in my throat just thinking of Noam,,,,

Get out! Young Chomsky was a nihilist?! Well bash in my skull with a rusty pipe!

Broadly speaking semanticists bare nihilists.


Hoping the oxidation on that pipe is metaphysical for the sake of your singularity!

I didn't fucking write this!

I don't buy a book costing 57 fucking dollars especialy if its written about me, myself and what I Own... Upload that in anarchist library to see what the fuck the old man was saying about me, myself and my own...

you do realize that the book being reviewed and that costs 57 dollars isn't "The Ego and its own"? right?

Well since I've been intricated by an imposteur, I may as well offer my take on Stirner! For a start the OP is correct, Stirner gets us up and walking, we begin to analyse our perceptions, our subjective relationships within society, we question the moral legal systems which indoctrinate and reify external objective precepts to bring about subjective compliance to hierarchical social structures etc, etc. Basic 101 rebel knowledge.
I offer a scenario, that if Stirner or Nietzsche lived in this modern era, they would look into the cosmos and know things that they were unaware of in their own time. They would see the dark shrouds of inter-stella dust which in 10 to the power of 14 years may exist as a cellular life-form on a mudball circling a sphere of burning hydrogen. And they would still be faithful to the idea that nothing should make that life-form do what it doesn't wish to do.

But eventually, you have to find something to motivate you to action and I've always found the egoist stuff is fucking useless for that.

i would strongly disagree with that statement. egoism is not a program, most especially not one with a goal of revolution. it is a perspective with which one understands and engages with themselves and the world around them. if that engagement includes "action" (assumedly with the objective of affecting the world around them), an egoist perspective is definitely not useless - it informs every aspect of that action, including one's objective in taking said action.

it seems to me only someone who has no substantial egoist tendencies - who sees community, society, etc as taking precedence over the individual - would see egoism as useless. egoists have different desires and objectives from non-egoists, and one would have to know the specific desires and objectives of any individual egoist to understand how useful egoism is in that individual's own life.

to each his own.
that's my philosophy.
i don't know what's right for you,
and you don't know what's right for me.
-- from 1975 disco song "to each his own"

(and don't give me shit about gendered pronouns)

True egoists hate disco music!

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