Anarcho-Egoism

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"You long for freedom? You fools! If you took might, freedom would come of itself."

Anarcho-Egoism, or Egoist Anarchism, often shortened as simply Egoism, is an off-the-compass libertarian unity ideology or anarchist school of thought that arose out of the philosophy of Max Stirner, a 19th-century philosopher. It emphasizes the individual over any other kind of guiding principle; that is, the individual should live themselves out, not bound to any political calling. It proposes that most commonly accepted social institutions—including the notion of State, property as a right, natural rights in general and the very notion of society—were mere "spooks" or "phantasms" in the mind. Stirner's philosophy though being individualist, has influenced some libertarian communists and anarcho-communists. Forms of libertarian communism such as insurrectionary anarchism are influenced by Stirner.

History

An illustration of Max Stirner drawn by Friedrich Engels. No known actual photographs of Stirner exist.

Stirner's egoist philosophy

Egoism is a philosophy and political ideology developed by Max Stirner in 1844. Outlined in his book "Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum" (Translated as "Ego and It's Own" or more accurately as "The Unique and It's Property") Stirner critiques institutions within society such as Christianity, Nationalism, Morality, Humanism, Socialism, Liberalism, and even society itself through a heavily individualist lens. He comes to call these ideas phantasms, or as they are more commonly known, spooks. This name comes from Stirner to describe the actions of these institutions as similar to that of ghosts. They are immaterial, but can still have an affect on, or even possess the individual.

Hegel was a large influence for Stirner as he was a member of the Young Hegelians, a group of thinkers who followed and analyzed Hegel's teachings. Stirner would grow to resent many members of this group, and even antagonize or satirize them in his book. Stirner built off of the Hegelian Dialectic to form these criticisms, and even to criticize the idea of the Hegelian Dialectic. He sought to bring to the individual's attention that many institutions and ideas are of our own creation and entirely dependent on our perception of them. Stirner likens these institutions to the property of the individual, in that the individual is the one who has the real power over them. The ideas of the State, Religion, Family, etc. are all the property of the individual, and as such the individual may do as they please with these institutions. He argues the individual should strive to use their control over these institutions in order to demolish them in the pursuit of becoming truly unique. (hence Der Enzige "The Unique" in the title.)

Stirner's work was criticized with a sort of begrudging respect by many of the Young Hegelians. Including but not limited to: Marx, Engels, and Feuerbach. While each took their own issues with the idea of Egoism, they would still acknowledge the impact and profound nature of Stirner's work. Stirner would respond to these criticisms, often under pseudonyms so he could pretend he wasn't the one responding.

Early development

Egoism was revived by the anarchist John Henry Mackay who discovered Stirner's work in Friedrich Albert Lange's History of Materialism and Critique of its Present Importance. Mackay's promotion of Stirner and his advocacy of homosexual rights influenced Adolf Brand who in 1896 published the world's first ongoing homosexual publication, Der Eigene. Another German anarchist publication publication, Der Einzige, was influenced by Stirner. Stirnerian egoism became a main influence on European individualist anarchism including its main proponents in the early 20th century.

Illegalism

Illegalism was an anarchist practice that developed primarily in France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland during the early 1900s that found justification in Stirner's philosophy. The illegalists openly embraced criminality as a lifestyle. Illegalists usually did not seek moral basis for their actions, recognizing only the reality of "might" rather than "right". For the most part, illegal acts were done simply to satisfy personal desires and needs, not for some greater ideal,although some committed crimes as a form of propaganda of the deed.

As a reaction to this, French anarchist communists attempted to distance themselves from illegalism and anarchist individualism as a whole. In August 1913, the Fédération Communiste-Anarchistes (FCA) condemned individualism as bourgeois and more in keeping with capitalism than communism.

American Egoism

American anarchists who adhered to egoism include Benjamin Tucker, John Beverley Robinson, Steven T. Byington, James L. Walker.

American individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker abandoned natural rights positions and converted to Max Stirner's egoist anarchism. In adopting Stirnerite egoism, Tucker rejected natural rights which had long been considered the foundation of his beliefs. This rejection galvanized the movement into fierce debates, with the natural rights proponents accusing the egoists of destroying individualist anarchism itself. So bitter was the conflict that a number of natural rights proponents withdrew from the pages of the publication Liberty in protest even though they had hitherto been among its frequent contributors. Thereafter, Liberty championed egoism although its general content did not change significantly.

Steven T. Byington was a one-time proponent of Georgism who later converted to egoist Stirnerist positions after associating with Benjamin Tucker. He is known for translating Stirner's The Ego and Its Own into English. Other thinkers such as James L. Walker became the main contributors to Benjamin Tucker's Liberty. He published his major philosophical work called Philosophy of Egoism in the May 1890 to September 1891 in issues of the publication. James L. Walker published the work before reading Stirner's work and later acknowledge the many similarities between their works. Walker describes himself as an "egoistic anarchist" who believed in both contract and cooperation as practical principles to guide everyday interactions". For Walker, the egoist rejects notions of duty and is indifferent to the hardships of the oppressed whose consent to their oppression enslaves not only them, but those who do not consent. Walker thought that "what really defines egoism is not mere self-interest, pleasure, or greed; it is the sovereignty of the individual, the full expression of the subjectivity of the individual ego".

Anarcha-feminist Emma Goldman was influenced by both Stirner and Peter Kropotkin as well as the Russian strain of individualist anarchism and blended these philosophies together in her own as shown in books of hers such as Anarchism And Other Essays. There she defends both Stirner and Nietzsche when she says: "The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality [...] It is the same narrow attitude which sees in Max Stirner naught but the apostle of the theory 'each for himself, the devil take the hind one.' That Stirner's individualism contains the greatest social possibilities is utterly ignored. Yet, it is nevertheless true that if society is ever to become free, it will be so through liberated individuals, whose free efforts make society".

Egoism within anarchism is usually associated with individualist anarchism, but it found admiration in the mainstream social anarchists such as anarcha-feminists and Federica Montseny (who also admired Nietzsche). Max Baginski was an important collaborator in Goldman's publication Mother Earth. Bagisnki in an essay titled "Stirner: The Ego and His Own" published in Mother Earth puts forward an anarcho-communist interpretation of Stirner's philosophy when he manifests that "[f]ully as heartily the Communists concur with Stirner when he puts the word take in place of demand—that leads to the dissolution of property, to expropriation. Individualism and Communism go hand in hand".

Although Stirner was opposed to communism for the same reasons he opposed capitalism, humanism, liberalism, property rights and nationalism, seeing them as forms of authority over the individual and as purveyors of ideologies he could not reconcile himself with, he has influenced many anarcho-communists and post-left anarchists. The writers of An Anarchist FAQ report that "many in the anarchist movement in Glasgow, Scotland, took Stirner's 'Union of egoists' literally as the basis for their anarcho-syndicalist organising in the 1940s and beyond." Similarly, the noted anarchist historian Max Nettlau states that "[o]n reading Stirner, I maintain that he cannot be interpreted except in a socialist sense."

Contemporary Egoism

In the United Kingdom, Herbert Read was influenced highly by egoism as he later came close to existentialism. In Read's Education Through Art (1943), David Goodway writes: "Here we have the egoism of Max Stirner assimilated in the anarchist communism of Peter Kropotkin". He cites Read for this affirmation which shows egoism's influence: "Uniqueness has no practical value in isolation. One of the most certain lessons of modern psychology and of recent historical experiences, is that education must be a process, not only of individuation, but also of integration, which is the reconciliation of individual uniqueness with social unity [...] the individual will be "good" in the degree that his individuality is realized within the organic wholeness of the community."

In the 1980s, in the United States emerged the tendency of post-left anarchy which was influenced profoundly by egoism in aspects such as the critique of ideology. Bob Black and Feral Faun/Wolfi Landstreicher also strongly adhere to Stirnerist egoism. Black has also humorously suggested the idea of "Marxist Stirnerism" just as he wrote an essay on "groucho-marxism". He writes in the preface to The Right to be Greedy: "If Marxism-Stirnerism is conceivable, every orthodoxy prating of freedom or liberation is called into question, anarchism included. The only reason to read this book, as its authors would be the first to agree, is for what you can get out of it." Egoism has also had a strong influence on insurrectionary anarchism as can be seen in the work of Wolfi Landstreicher and Alfredo Bonanno. Bonanno has written on Stirner in works such as Max Stirner and Max Stirner und der Anarchismus.

In the hybrid of post-structuralism and anarchism called post-anarchism, the Australian political theorist Saul Newman has written a lot on Stirner and his similarities to post-structuralism. Newman has published several essays on Stirner. War on the State: Stirner and Deleuze's Anarchism and Empiricism, Pluralism, and Politics in Deleuze and Stirner discusses what he sees are similarities between Stirner's thought and that of Gilles Deleuze. In Spectres of Stirner: A Contemporary Critique of Ideology, he discusses the conception of ideology in Stirner. In Stirner and Foucault: Toward a Post-Kantian Freedom, similarities between Stirner and Michel Foucault. He also wrote the book Max Stirner which is a collection of essays on Stirner's post-structuralism.

Beliefs and Philosophy

Self

Within Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum, Max Stirner outlines how You the individual are a fully self-contained being that is beyond full comprehension. Arguing that the "creative-nothing" being both the creator and creation of your existence is the "end point of language" "Stirner speaks of the Unique and says immediately: Names name you not. He articulates the word, so long as he calls it the Unique, but adds nonetheless that the Unique is only a name. He thus means something different from what he says, as perhaps someone who calls you Ludwig does not mean a Ludwig in general, but means You."

Through this, Stirner is perhaps an early advocate of Nihilism - with the first and last words of his magnum opus being "I Have Based My Affair on Nothing". This is in connection to that fact that their are no "sacred" ideas - no objective facts or meanings to anything - Stirner instead designates the mental concept of the 'creative nothing' - a concept that can be likened to an emtpy bottle. The creative nothing is the unique individual and their existence, their consciousness, their property, their goals, it is what Stirner calls "It is the end point of our phrase world" in that it isn't an idealised man to get to - like a 'good citizen', or a 'moral man'. Instead Stirner's 'nothing' is the fact that YOU are already YOU - you then can't be anything more - and that the world is made out of your mental and physical creation - you are the creator and yet you yourself are also a creation of yourself.

Every moment you dissolve yourself, move on, or head in a new direction breaking with the creator and becoming a new creation just for you to create something new again. This is the notion of the 'creative' nothing - there isn't anything to speak about other than you in a specific instance - Stirner isn't a man, or a citizen, or a German, or even an egoist, these may perhaps be qualities of Stirner - essences - as Hegel would put them, but He or You are more than your essences. Because each Unique Individual is non-existant except in their created and creative state - there can't be a single objective or even subjective meaning to anything - the meaning that is used and made by the creative nothing is used up and altered - Stirner says that the egoist rejects pursuit of devotion to "a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling", arguing that the egoist has no political calling, but rather "lives themselves out" without regard to "how well or ill humanity may fare thereby". You can't reach the 'creative nothing' it isn't abstract like a sacred idea such as being moral or holy - you already are the 'creative nothing' and there is nothing to do except be it - you can't not be it - like you can be immoral or sinful.

Egoism

Stirner begins by arguing that Individuals have causes - God's cause, Humanity's cause, the Nation's cause, Freedom's cause, etc. - and that each of these causes have only themselves in mind, if the Nation only ever aims at improving or furthering the nation - as the cost of soldiers, resources, allies, civil liberties, democracy etc etc., then hasn't the Nation acted in self-interest as an egoist - it only had its own cause in mind - same with God, Humanity, Freedom, Community, the Government, the Family, but never the individual "Shame on the Egoist who thinks only of himself" Max Stirner.

Stirner furthers this by saying that all Individuals do actually serve themselves - either consciously or involuntarily - the latter wishes to throw away their selfishness (usually because it is assumed to be a negative thing) and as such serves other ideas such as a God, or human rights, or the law because they believe it is the right thing to do - and gives them personal security or happiness (which is still benefitting them selfishly - i.e. they are still an egoist) - "Sacred things exist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge himself, the involuntary egoist [...] Because he would like to cease to be an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for higher beings to serve and sacrifice himself to; but, however much he shakes and disciplines himself, in the end he does all for his own sake [...]. On this account I call him the involuntary egoist." Max Stirner.

While, the former (conscious egoist) serves themselves and sees these sacred ideas as just that - ideas - and freems themselves able to do whatever is in their power. "I get around a rock that stands in my way, until I have enough powder to blow it up; I get around the laws of a people, until I’ve gathered the strength to overthrow them. Since I cannot grasp the moon, is it therefore supposed to be “sacred” to me, an Astarte? If I could only grasp you, I surely would, and if I find a way to come up to you, you shall not frighten me! You incomprehensible one, you shall remain incomprehensible to me only until I have acquired the power of comprehension for myself and call you my own; I do not surrender before you, but only bide my time." Max Stirner.

Spooks

The conscious realise that God, the Law, Human Rights etc. are only ideas and are not physically tangible or touchable concepts - there is no physical right to point at or no Law in a room somewhere - as such the conscious egoist accepts that these ideas are solely human constructs and mental creations made to keep the Individual egoist down. "As I find myself behind things, that is, as mind, so I must later also find myself behind thoughts, namely, as their creator and owner. In the time of mind, thoughts grew in me until they were over my head, though they were its offspring; they hovered about me and shook me like the fever dreams, a horrifying power. The thoughts had become embodied for themselves, were ghosts, such as God, emperor, pope, fatherland, etc. If I destroy their embodiment, then I take them back into my own, and say: “I alone am embodied.” And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property: I relate everything to myself." Max Stirner.

Stirner likens these concepts to ghosts or spirits - spectres and spooks - because they are only ever a made-up idea that the Individual has created, the idea of a good citizen is defined by people and individuals and yet, it has become a corporeal and existing concept and phenomena that compels people to act in accordance. Individuals are haunted by their own ideas, the idea has become real and now forces us to follow it. We decided what a good citizen was and made up the consequences for breaking this "rule" and now we have trapped ourselves under our own ideas "I can't break that rule" - "well why not" - "because the rule says so" - "the rule you made up". It is like playing a schoolyard game and failing to realise we made up the rules of the game and can change them at any time and free ourselves.

The Law may exist and be utilised but nothing will happen if it is broken until someone acts upon it - and thus only physical action or might is the tool of the egoist. The Law is enforced by actors - police, courts, citizens, governments, militaries etc. Only illegal if one gets caught - only a criminal if there is such a thing as a crime, only a sinner in the face of a sin. "State behavior is an act of violence, and it calls its violence “legal right”; that of the individual, “crime.”" Max Stirner. Stirner says that sinful and Illegal activities are only negative when they are called negative... "Against the “sacred,” the egoist is always a sinner; toward the “sacred,” he can’t become anything other than — a criminal.". he uses an example that "if a European kills a crocodile, he acts as an egoist against crocodiles, but he has no scruples about doing this, and he is not accused of “sin” for it. If instead an ancient Egyptian, who considered the crocodile to be sacred, had nonetheless killed one in self-defense, he would have, indeed, defended his skin as an egoist, but at the same time, he would have committed a sin; his egoism would have been sin, — he, the egoist, a sinner. — From this, it should be obvious that the egoist is necessarily a sinner before what is “sacred,” before what is “higher”; if he asserts his egoism against the sacred, this is, as such, a sin." Max Stirner.

Property

For Stirner property was not a case of natural rights or promised deeds of property, it only existed as an extension of the Individual: "Whoever knows how to take, to defend, the thing, to him belongs property. [...] What I have in my power, that is my own. So long as I assert myself as holder, I am the proprietor of the thing" and "I do not step shyly back from your property, but look upon it always as my property, in which I respect nothing. Pray do the like with what you call my property!"

Property to the Unique comes from no right, from the very fact that no "right" can stop the Unique from actually de facto owning a piece of property, You have the ownership no matter how many legal or written documents claim otherwise - "No right lying outside my power legitimizes me, but only my power; if I no longer have this, then the thing disappears from me. When the Romans had no more power against the Germanic peoples, the Roman world empire belonged to the latter, and it would sound ridiculous for one to insist that the Romans still remained the real owners. To whoever knows how to take and hold the thing, it belongs, until someone takes it away from him, as freedom belongs to the one who takes it." Max Stirner.

Property in this sense can only exist in possession and personal property - ruling out the possibility of state or authority given property "Therefore it pays strict attention not only to not letting me count, but also to thwarting what is mine. In the state, there is no—property, i.e., no property of the individual, but only state property. I have what I have only through the state, as I am what I am only through it. My private property is only what the state leaves to me of its own, in that it cuts off other state members from it (makes it private); it is state property." Max Stirner. Here, it is clear that capitalists actually have no property of their own - only that which is granted to them by the powers at be. But neither can the answer be to abolish Individual property in favor of the community, as opposed to the state - "If one socialistically says, society gives me what I need,—then the egoist says, I take what I need.Thus, property should not and cannot be done away with; it must rather be snatched from ghostly hands and become my property; then the false awareness, that I cannot entitle myself to as much as I need, will vanish." Max Stirner.

Here, property becomes a means of existence - only gartering what one wants and needs, removing excess, hoarding, accumulation, "hereditary stamps", etc. In this individuals can take control over their own lives and remove the alien and abstract ties such as property "rights", "collective" property and such - instead "If people reach the point where they lose respect for property, then everyone will have property, as all slaves become free people as soon as they no longer respect the master as master. Associations will then, in this matter as well, multiply the individual’s means and secure his contested property." Max Stirner. In this respect Individuals can associate and combine property to meet ends with other Individuals. Always having the ability to defend their property agaisnt this collective and voluntary will.

Although he [Stirner] was not an anarchist, he preferred a political-economic social condition that was anti-statist, anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian completely void of authoritarian monopolies (whether they positioned themselves as property or sovereignty) which were the enemies of individual liberation. Stirner's egoism is all about freeing the individual from the domination of property monopolists such as monarchs, governments, or industrialists while at the same time it positions itself against the anti-individualist nature of the traditional political left. “What every one requires, every one should also take a hand in procuring and producing.” This view on property has been taken by some to be very Communistic, thus sparking movements such as Ego-Communism and Post-Leftism.

However, Stirner also proposes that most commonly accepted social institutions—including the notion of state, property as a right, natural rights in general and the very notion of society—are mere illusions - spooks, or ghosts in the mind, saying of society that "the individuals are its reality". Stirner wants to "abolish not only the state but also society as an institution responsible for its members". Stirner opposed both communism and capitalism stating that:

"All attempts to enact rational laws about property have put out from the bay of love into a desolate sea of regulations. Even Socialism and Communism cannot be excepted from this. Everyone one is to be provided with adequate means, for which it is little to the point whether one socialistically finds them still in a personal property, or communistically draws them from a community of goods. The individual's mind in this remains the same; it remains a mind of dependence. The distributing board of equity lets me have only what the sense of equity, its loving care for all, prescribes. For me, the individual, there lies no less of a check in collective wealth than in that of individual others; neither that is mine, nor this: whether the wealth belongs to the collectivity, which confers part of it on me, or to individual possessors, is for me the same constraint, as I cannot decide about either of the two. One the Contrary, Communism, by the abolition of all personal property, only presses me back still more into dependence on another, viz., on the generality or collectivity; and, loudly as it always attacks the "State," what it intends is itself again a State, a status, a condition hindering my free movement, a sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts against the pressure I experience from individual proprietors; but still more horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity. Egoism takes another way to root out the non-possessing rabble. It does not say: Wait for what the board of equity will—bestow on you in the name of the collectivity (for such bestowal took place in "States" from the most ancient times, each receiving "according to his desert," and therefore according to the measure in which each was able to deserve it, to acquire it by service), but: Take hold, and take what you require! With this the war of all against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have."

Union of Egoists

Stirner opposed the state - as an enforcer of institutions, submission, and force. Therefore, "war might rather be declared against establishment itself, the State, not a particular State, not any such thing as the mere condition of the State at the time; it is not another State (e.g. a "people's State") that men aim at, but their union, uniting, this ever-fluid uniting of everything standing. — A State exists even without my co-operation: I am born in it, brought up in it, under obligations to it, and must "do it homage." [huldigen] It takes me up into its "favor," [Huld] and I live by its "grace." Max Stirner.

State and society stand upon morality and rights, with "morality [being] incompatible with egoism, because the former does not allow validity to me, but only to the Man in me. But, if the State is a society of men, not a union of egos each of whom has only himself before his eyes, then it cannot last without morality, and must insist on morality. Therefore we two, the State and I, are enemies. I, the egoist, have not at heart the welfare of this "human society," I sacrifice nothing to it, I only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform it rather into my property and my creature; i. e., I annihilate it, and form in its place the Union of Egoists".

Stirner's idea of the "Union of egoists" was first expounded in Der Einzige und Sein Eigentum. The Union is understood as a non-systematic association, which Stirner proposed in contradistinction to the state. The Union is understood as a relation between egoists which is continually renewed by all parties' support through an act of will. The Union requires that all parties participate out of a conscious egoism. If one party silently finds themselves to be suffering but puts up and keeps the appearance, the union has degenerated into something else. This Union is not seen as an authority above a person's own will.

Stirner separates this Union from the previous State and Society through its advent of "use", as opposed to being "used up", "you bring into a union your whole power, your competence, and make yourself count; in a society you are employed, with your working power; in the former you live egoistically, in the latter humanly, i.e. religiously, as a "member in the body of this Lord”; to a society you owe what you have, and are in duty bound to it, are — possessed by "social duties"; a union you utilize, and give it up undutifully and unfaithfully when you see no way to use it further"     

Stirner's Economics revolve around his Union of Egoists - which in his opinion unlike the communist commune - doesn't abolish property, saying "Thus, property should not and cannot be done away with; it must rather be snatched from ghostly hands and become my property; then the false awareness, that I cannot entitle myself to as much as I need, will vanish.". However, Stirner also agrees that "If people reach the point where they lose respect for property, then everyone will have property, as all slaves become free people as soon as they no longer respect the master as master. Associations will then, in this matter as well, multiply the individual’s means and secure his contested property." Max Stirner.

Thereby, association within the Union will allow for a larger share of and access to Individual property. Now, Stirner also agrees with William Godwin, The Utopian Socialists, Karl Marx, The Situationists, and Post-Left Anarchists, that work has devasting effects on the uniqueness and individuality of the 'worker' - "If a factory worker has to make himself dead tired for twelve hours and more, he is kept from becoming a human being. All work should have the aim of satisfying the person. Therefore, he must also become a master in it, i.e., be able to create it as a totality. One who only puts on the heads, only draws the wire, etc., in a pin factory, works mechanically, like a machine; he remains a dabbler, doesn’t become a master; his work cannot satisfy him, it can only tire him out. Taken for itself, his work is nothing, has no purpose in itself is nothing complete in itself; he only works into another’s hand, and is used (exploited) by this other." Max Stirner.

Some Anarcho-Syndicalism movements have taken this Union of Egoists as a literal basis for syndicalist communes while other Queer Anarchism groups within Catalonia argued for Stirner's non-systematic approach.

Revolution

Revolutionary actions, especially when it comes to the overturning of capitalism, i.e. Marxism, stem from the Hegelian notion that the evolution of society leads to an idealised outcome - an end in the dialectic. Marx himself - as much as he argues that he separated himself from the Young Hegelians and Hegel himself, advocated for revolutionary change towards this ideal and places the catalyst of revolution in the hands of the proletariat. The disillusionment of religion, capitalism, and the state, has led to the illusionment of yet more ideals - revolution, communism, anarchism, freedom, liberty, etc etc. The creation of new higher essences - the individual is important in the furtherance of ideals, the individual should have the goal of revolution towards these ideas - they cannot give up the revolution - it is their life's calling.

Stirner argues that the revolutionary "harbors the most irreconcilable hostility toward heaven, and yet builds a new heaven daily: piling heaven upon heaven, he only crushes one with another", the revolutionary only ever aims to revolutionise their ideal society - forgetting about the previous revolutionaries. He went further, saying that "the revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on 'institutions'. It is not a fight against the established [...] it is only a working forth of me out of the established. [...] Now, as my object is not an overthrow of the established order but my elevation above it, my purpose and deed are not political or social but (as directed toward myself and my ownness alone) an egoistic purpose indeed."

"Revolution and insurrection should not be looked upon as synonymous. The former consists in a radical change of conditions, of the prevailing condition or status, the state or society, and is therefore a political or social act; the latter indeed has a transformation of conditions as its inevitable result, but doesn’t start from it, but from the discontent of human beings with themselves; it is not an armed uprising, but a rising up of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring from it. The revolution isaimed at new arrangements, while the insurrection leads us to no longer let ourselves be arranged, but rather to arrange ourselves, and sets no radiant hopes on “institutions.” It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established will collapse of itself; it is only a working of my way out of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and falls into decay. Since now my aim is not the overthrow of the established order but my rising up above it, so my intention and action are not a political or social intention and action, but, since they are directed solely toward me and my ownness, an egoistic intention and action."

The revolution commands one to make arrangements; the insurrection demands that one stand or raise himself up. What constitution was to be chosen?—this question busied revolutionary heads, and the entire political period is bubbling with constitutional fights and constitutional questions, as the social talents too were unusually inventive about social arrangements (phalansteries and the like). The insurrectionist strives to become constitutionless" Max Stirner. The goal here should then be to let Individuals create their own revolutionary lives - Stirner says that the unique individual rejects pursuit of devotion to "a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling", arguing that the egoist has no political calling, but rather "lives themselves out" without regard to "how well or ill humanity may fare thereby". This rebellion can take any form, but no cards can be left off the table for the insurrectionist - violence, peace, gradualism, separation & succession, the Individual here must "rebel, rise up".

Stirner here argues that Jesus Christ was not a revolutionary, but rather an insurrectionist, a rebel, "the time [in which Jesus lived] was politically so agitated that, as is said in the gospels, people thought they could not accuse the founder of Christianity more successfully than if they arraigned him for 'political intrigue', and yet the same gospels report that he was precisely the one who took the least part in these political doings. But why was he not a revolutionary, not a demagogue, as the Jews would gladly have seen him? [...] Because he expected no salvation from a change of conditions, and this whole business was indifferent to him. He was not a revolutionary, like Caesar, but an insurgent: not a state-overturner, but one who straightened himself up. [...] [Jesus] was not carrying on any liberal or political fight against the established authorities, but wanted to walk his own way, untroubled about, and undisturbed by, these authorities. [...] But, even though not a ringleader of popular mutiny, not a demagogue or revolutionary, he (and every one of the ancient Christians) was so much the more an insurgent who lifted himself above everything that seemed so sublime to the government and its opponents, and absolved himself from everything that they remained bound to [...]; precisely because he put from him the upsetting of the established, he was its deadly enemy and real annihilator[.]"     

Dogma

As with the classical sceptics before him, Stirner's method of self-liberation is opposed to faith or belief and he envisions a life free from "dogmatic presuppositions" or any "fixed standpoint". It is not merely Christian dogma that his thought repudiates, but also a wide variety of European atheist ideologies that are condemned as crypto-Christian for putting ideas in an equivalent role:

"Among many transformations, the Holy Spirit became in time the 'absolute idea' [in Hegelian philosophy], which again in manifold refractions split into the different ideas of philanthropy, reasonableness, civic virtue, and so on. [...] Antiquity, at its close, had gained its ownership of the world only when it had broken the world's overpoweringness and 'divinity', recognised the world's powerlessness and 'vanity'. [...] [The philosophers of our time say] Concepts are to decide everywhere, concepts to regulate life, concepts to rule. This is the religious world [of our time], to which Hegel gave a systematic expression, bringing method into the nonsense and completing the conceptual precepts into a rounded, firmly-based dogmatic. Everything is sung according to concepts and the real man, I, am compelled to live according to these conceptual laws. [...] Liberalism simply replaced Christian concepts with humanist ones; human instead of divine, political instead of ecclesiastical, 'scientific' instead of doctrinal etc."

What Stirner proposes is not that concepts should rule people, but that people should rule concepts. The "nothingness" of all truth is rooted in the "nothingness" of the self because the ego is the criterion of (dogmatic) truth. Again, Stirner seems closely comparable to the sceptics in that his radical epistemology directs us to emphasise empirical experience (the "unmediated" relationship of mind as world and world as mind), but it leaves only a very limited validity to the category of "truth". When we regard the impressions of the senses with detachment, simply for what they are (e.g. neither good nor evil), we may still correctly assign truth to them. "Truths are material, like vegetables and weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed, the decision lies in me."

Stylistic Notes

  • Egoism usually wears Stirner's glasses, but this is not consistent nor mandatory. If you use the glasses, feel free to add reflections to the lenses.
  • Anarcho-Egoism is usually smoking a cigar.
  • Make certain that the color is distinct from other anarchists by using (#036a66). Colors are a spook though so it's really up to the ego.

How to Draw

Flag of Anarcho-Egoism

Drawing Egoism is very simple:

  1. Draw a ball.
  2. Draw a line in a lighter shade of black (#141414) diagonally through the ball.
  3. Fill the space below the line in black, and the space above the line in teal (#036A66).
  4. Add the tiny glasses, and you're done!
Color Name HEX RGB
Teal #036A66 3, 106, 102
Black #141414 20, 20, 20


Relations

The Unique (Most Important)

  • Me - The Unique (me) above all.

Union of Egoists (Friend)

  • Post-Leftism - You carry my ideas very well.
  • Anarcho-Nihilism - You understand me. I know your main theory isn't just existential nihilism, but many of my followers prefers existentialism and absurdism over defeatist nihilism.
  • Queer Anarchism - Reject social binaries, "True Femininity" and "True Masculinity" are spooks. Although your modern variants are spooked and liberal.
  • Illegalism - My praxis.
  • Insurrectionary Anarchism - "Leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and setting no glittering hope on institutions”.
  • Anarchism - No gods, no masters.
  • Ego-Communism - “People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” - Emma Goldman
  • Ego-Mutualism - "The right of might and the right of contract—are the only rights that ever have been or ever can be. So-called moral rights have no existence." - Benjamin R. Tucker
  • Post-Anarchism - You seem to like my idea of Ownness and my deconstruction of the Dialectic, but you're extremely confusing sometimes.
  • Existentialist Anarchism - "I do not presuppose myself, because I am every moment just positing or creating myself, and am I only by being not presupposed but posited, and ... only the moment when I posit myself; that is, I am creator and creature in one"
  • Radical Apoliticism - No reason in getting yourself into this haunted house called "politics".

Half-Spooks (Neutral)

  • Mutualism - "Property as bourgeois liberals understand it deserves the attack of... Proudhon" but not for the sake of the community, that's a spook.
  • Marxism - Fellow Young Hegelian. He and Engels admired my work until they called me a bourgeois liberal.
  • Socialism - "I am not at all against socialism, but against consecrated socialism... not against socialists, but against sacred socialism."
  • Classical Liberalism - "The “individual freedom” over which bourgeois liberalism keeps a jealous watch, does not at all mean a completely free self-determination, through which actions become completely mine, but independence from persons"
  • Anarcho-Communism - "Communism rightly revolts against the pressure I experience from individual proprietors; but still more horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity".
  • Soulism - If it pleases your ego - share, but what is this fixed ideal of "abolishing laws of physics"?
  • Avaritionism - "Driven by the thirst for money, the greedy person denies all warnings of the conscience, all feelings of honor, all gentleness and all compassion: he puts every consideration out of sight: the desire carries him away."
  • Primalism - "No sheep, no dog, makes the effort to become a “proper sheep, a proper dog”; no beast’s essence appears to it as a task, as a concept that it has to realize. It realizes itself by enjoying itself, dispersing itself, dying. It doesn’t ask to be or become anything other than what it is. ... I certainly can’t suggest that you should become like beasts, because this is also a task, an ideal"
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism - Not that kind of union!
  • Anarcho-Primitivism - If it's your desire to free yourself from the industrial revolution and modern civilization, then do so - but your dogma to destroy any technology you see shows signs of pure fundamentalism and irrational behavior at times.
  • Apoliticism - You also agree that politic is a spook, but you cannot keep yourself from being affected by it.
  • Anarcho-Collectivism - You are a collectivist, but you were a great influence on my followers in Russia. Although let's face it, the collectivism in your name is an exaggeration.

Spooks (Enemy)

  • Anti-Fascism - If fighting fascists pleases me I shall do so, but it is not my sacred obligation.
  • Republicanism - "Every state is a despotism, whether the despot be one or many, or, as some like to imagine a republic, all be lords, i.e., play the despot over each other."
  • Babouvism - "This whole revolutionary or Babouvist principle rests on a religious, i.e., false viewpoint. Who can ask for “rights” if he is not himself coming from a religious standpoint? Isn’t “the right” a religious concept, i.e., something sacred? “Equality of rights,” as the revolution put it forward, is only another form of “Christian equality,” the “equality of brethren, of God’s children, of Christians, etc.”; in short, fraternité. "
  • Ochlocracy - "They must be even more a mere mass, a humanly insignificant, indeed an inhuman, mass, or a mob of inhuman monsters."
  • Enlightenment Thought - "Those Enlightenment philosophers! We’ll feel that! What would form the basis then for this warm belief in ghosts, if not the faith in “the existence of a spiritual essence in general,” and isn’t the latter itself disastrously shaken when one allows insolent rationalists to rattle the former?"
  • Authoritarianism - "Authority subjugates the individual, instilling in him a selfless ideal. An egoist, under any authority, is a dissident, a free-thinker who refuses to follow authority based on his self-interests."
  • Totalitarianism - I read Hegel.
  • Police Statism - Protects authority by suppressing dissidence.
  • Capitalism - "Under the regime of the bourgeoisie, the workers always fall into the hands of the possessors, i.e., of those who have any bit of state property at their disposal, especially money and land; therefore, into the hands of the capitalists"
  • Objectivism - People always confuse us. Individualism is not about private property rights, minarchism or being greedy. Also your fixed idea of truth and rationality is spooked beyond belief.
  • Guild Socialism - "Abolishing competition is not the same thing as favoring the guild. The difference is this: In the guild, baking is the affair of the guild-brothers; in competition the affair of random rivals; in the association, of those who need baked goods, and therefore my affair, your affair, not the affair either of guild or licensed bakers, but the affair of the associates."
  • Communism - "In the opinion of the communists the community should be the property owner. On the contrary, I am the property owner, and I only come to an agreement with others about my property. If the community doesn’t do what suits me, I rise up against it and defend my property."
  • State Socialism - "He hopes from the state that it will bring about an equalization of property. Always the state! The great papa!"
  • Nationalism - "Take a look at the nation, which is defended by devoted patriots. The patriots fall in bloody battle or in the fight against hunger and need; what does the nation say about that? With the manure of these corpses, the nation becomes a “blossoming nation.” Individuals have died for “the great cause of the nation,” and the nation sends some words of thanks after them—and profits from it."
    • Pan-Germanicism - "The German nation and German peoples have a thousand-year history behind them: what a long life! Then go rest in peace, never to rise again, so that all will be free whom you have kept in chains so long.—The people is dead. —Long live me!"
  • Civil Libertarianism - "How often the sacredness of the inalienable rights of man has been helped up before their enemies, and some liberty or other proven and demonstrated to be a “sacred human right”! Those who do this deserve to be laughed at."
  • Christian Theocracy - Why is God's cause to be my cause?
  • Integralism - The worst form of the above, as all aspects of society are integrated in the common goal to oppress the individual under a false superstition. At least you're honest about it, unlike some people...
  • Protestant Theocracy - "Protestantism has actually made the human being into a “secret police state.” The spy and lookout, “conscience,” monitors every movement of the mind, and every thought and action is a “matter of conscience,” i.e., a police matter."
  • Communalism - I'm not giving you my spectacles.
  • Pol Potism - Same to you and GET OFF ME!!! Why you are so hate glasses???
  • Ingsoc - Stop censoring my books! Also, you're my opposite. I hate your Big Brother
  • Hive-Mind Collectivism - Final stage of social oppression.
  • Hobbeseanism - "Thus, the war of all against all is declared."
  • Necrocracy - Rule of spooks, both metaphorically and literally!
  • White Nationalism - No, that's not what I meant when I said I hate spooks!

Further Information

For overlapping political theory see:

Ego-Communism, Anarcho-Individualism, Post-Leftism, Post-Anarchism, Anarcho-Nihilism, Illegalism, Queer Anarchism, Insurrectionary Anarchism, Philosophical Anarchism, Situationism, Existentialist Anarchism

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Note

  1. Stirner is also speculated to have been influenced by Sade's work.
  2. One of Stirner's primary influences, Yang Zhu, is sometimes credited as being a precursor to Taoist thought.
  3. Stirner remained an influence on Max Adler's thinking throughout his life.

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