The following essay and subsequent letters form a discussion found across several issues of the British journal Freedom. I have done a rough transcription but it is filled with errors. It took some time to get to this point, so I’m posting it as is and will edit as I’m able to.
The Anarchism of Max Stirner
Freedom Nov. 22, 1980, Vol. 41, No. 23
SINCE Max Stirner’s The Ego and His Own was published in 1844, Us author has been the subject of controversy. He has been called, among other things, a precursor of fascism, a ptoneer of syndicalism, an egoistic nihilist, an existentlaltst “before the letter”. More than anything else, however, Max Stirner hae been connected with anarchism.
Of course, it has been maintained by some that Stirner cannot be classified as an anarchist. R.W.K. Paterson, for example, in his full-length critique, The Nihilistic Egoist: Max Stirner, argues that StIrner’s philosophy is incompatible with anarchism. Paterson identifies anarchism with the moral ideals of certain evangelical socialists who orant a world of “universal love and brotherly cooperation”, and Chus has to rule Stirner out of the anarchist court. If one accepta Paterson’s definition, then Stirner was certainly not an anarchist. But if one does not see anarchism as a form of egalitarian and democratic communism, then hie objection does not hold. Indeed, its probable source was indicated by the late Enzo Martucci when he wrote in Ms In Defence of Stirner:
The question between anarchiste and archists has been badly stated from the start. We are not concerned with whether anarchy or archy can cement the best social relations, or bring about the most complete understanding and harmony between individuals. We try, instead, to discover which is the most useful for the realisation of the individual.
Although Stirner did not call himself an anarchist, The Ego and His Own tu the most trenchant case for the individual against authority that has ever been written.
Stirner proclaims his cause to be himself, the unique one, conscious of Ms egoism, and scorning the State, God, Humanity, Society — and ail the other abstract “spooks” in which the individual is supposed to believe.
“Away, then, ” he writes, “with every concern that is not altogether my concern!”
“Whats good,what’s bad? Why, I myself am my concern,and I am neither good nor bad. Neither has meaning for me… The divine is God’s concern the human’s, man. My concern is neither the divine,nor the human; not the good,true,just,free,etc. but solely what is mine and it is not a general one,but it is unique ,as I am unique…Nothing is more to me than myself.”
To make myself my own cause is to become a self-owning individual and so enter into perpetual conflict with everything outside of me for which my allegiance is claimed and my obedience demanded. Certainly there are and are always likely to
be forces both saturai and institutional — that are more
powerful than I am. But they have no authority in my eyes, and if I am not strong enough to overthrow the m, I will evade the m in any way that I can.
The state ts one of my enemies, for its purpose is at ail times and in every place to subordinate my interests to its interests, to extinguish my particularity with the generality of its laws.
Every state is a despotisme be the despot one or many, or (as one is likely to imagine about a repub-
lic) if all be i.e. despotise over one.ano-
ther. For this is the case where the law given at any time, the expressed volition of (it may be) a popular assembly, is thenceforth to be law for the individual, to which obedience is due from him, or towards which he has the duty of obedience. If one were even to conceive the case that every individual in the people had expressed the came will, and hereby a complete “collective will” had corne into being, the matter would still remain the same. Would I not be bound today and henceforth to my will of yesterday? My will in this case would be frozen.
Wretched stability! My creature to wit a particular expression of will – – would have become my commander. But I in my will , I the creator, should be hindered in my flow and my dissolution; because I was a fool yesterday I must remain such my life long. So in the state life I am at best — I might just as well say at worst — a bondsman of myself. Because I was a willer yesterday I am today without will; yesterday voluntary, today involuntary.
How change it? Only by recognising no duty i.e. not binding myself nor letting myself be bound. If I have no duty then I know no law either.
Stirner, however, has no Ume for those who rebel against the domination of the state in order to replace it with the domination of “society”. Society is not something created by me in collaboration with you for the attainment of a specific end; it is not an association of egoists. It is something into which I am born w ou choice and from which I must free myself if I am to become fully my own. This cannot be the case if the horizontal authority of “society” is substituted for the vertical authority of the state.
Against the coercions of state and society, Sttrner advocates the formation of associations of egoists when cooperation between individuals is expedient. These associations are temporary and voluntary. They have nothing “sacred” about them and exlst purely to serve the interests of those who compose them. When I consider an association is of no more use to me I will abandon it without ceremony, since at no time do I consider myself under any obligation to it. Association is thus the opposite of soctety.
Stirner, therefore, rejects the communist ideal of making soctety the owner and provider of the means of life:
Communism, by the abolition of ail personal property, only presses me back still more into dependence upon 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.
For Stirner, property is necessary for his well-being, but it is not to be found in the legalised property system of capnor in the collectivised property system of the communist. “Property” is what I have the power to appropriate and make my own, irrespective of the “law” or the “community”. No scruples about private property as a “total concept” will stop me from theft if this is the only way I can survive. Nor will I be halted by the moral imperatives of the community if I desire to have property of my own and I have the might to get it.
Stirner regards morality as one of the forms of domination over the individual. Moral domination is even more binding than the external contraints of the state and society as it is expressed in the internalised authority called “conscience”, a mode of self-intimidation often favoured by the religious (Stirner reminds us that the word “religious” cornes from a Latin word which means “to bind”). This is the most difficult form of authority to shake off, for, white I can unscrupulously rebel against the externat impositions of the law or social custom, to rebel against conscience seems like rebelling against myself. None the tees, the Stirnerian egoist dissolves this spook along with the others, and becomes an amoralist, living “beyond good and evil” even when prudence indicates an outward show of conformity. “I am neither good nor bad. Neither has meantng for me.”
The late Herbert Read once wrote of The Ego and Hie Own that it stuck in hie gizzard. He could neither di gest Stirner’s philosophy nor get rid of it. Stirner has presented this problem to many of his interpreters, particubely those who sought to solve ft by sweetening hie views and incorporating them into doctrines he would have spurned with a few sarcastic words. Daniel Guerin, for instance, tried to do this in hie book Anarchism, but he had to conclue mournfully that ‘Stirner’s synthesis of the individual and society remained halting and incomplete. In the thought of this rebel the social and the antisocial clash and are not always resolved. The social anarchiste moere to reproach him for thts, quite rightly. ”
The reproaches of “social anarchists”, like those of Guerin, are a product of wishful thinking, if not outright ignorance. Stirner’s anarchism is thoroughly individualist and, far from wanting, to reconcile the individual, was aimed at dissolving society into its component individualities. To try to make of Mm yet another social synthesiser is completely to misunderstand him. As John Carroll has remarked, “Stirner’s uncompromising advocacy of self-realisation sets him far apart from other anarchist philosophers, especially Proudhon and Kropotkin. He would have regarded their scrupulous plans and halcyon dreams as abstract and religious in the extreme, not far removed in spirit from the millenarian vision of William Morris’s News from Nowhere. Stirner’s own prolonged introspection gave him a psychological perceptivity which was too down-to-earth to permit Orphic
muengs is this ‘realism’ that makes his brand of anarchism the one most congruent to today’s situation. ”
Stirner as a critic of authority and an advocate of the “anarchy of individuals” las yet to be surpessed. He signposted a way of retellion and of affirmative individualism that depends on neither the changing but superficial fortunes of the political scene, nor the fickle servilities of the acephalous mob. His greatest achievement was to create The E o and His Own and so provide a perpetual source of intellectual ammunition for those unique ones who succeeded hie,. In the words of hie btographer John Henry Mackay:
“He did what he has done for himself, because it was a pleasure to him.
“He demanded no thanks, and we owe him nothing.
“He has only reminded us of our indebtedness to ourselves.”
S. E. PARKER
Parker implies by a quote from Enzo Martucci, that the essential quality the distinguishing characteristic of anarchist thought is the emphasis it gives to discovering those paths of creative action ‘most useful for the realisation of the individual’ (22 Nov. 198J p. 9). Because Stirner is known for the singular emphasis he places upon the individual and his freedom to think and to act as he pleases he can be regarded as-an anarchist thinker.
But what anarchists mean when they speak about realizing the latent virtues and talents of
individuals is not what Stirner ,
What anarchiste mean by this liberty for self-expression and development was clearly stated by Bakunin:
Man completely realizes his individual freedom as well as his personality only through the individuals who surround hirn, and thanks only to the Tabor and the collective power of society. Without society he would surely remain the most stupid and the most miserable among all the other
ferocious beasts 4ociety,
far from decreasing his freedom, on the contrary creates the individual freedom of all human beings. Society
is the root the tree and
liberty is its fruit. ‘
(from Sam Dolgoff, Ed.
`-› Bakunin on Anarchism
– New York 19?2, p. 26)
What Stirner means by liberty la u I f
obviously different than this.
Parker, at one point, speaks of
Stirner’s advocacy of an ‘anarchy
of individuals’. What can this
notion mean? Io it any more
meaningful, or relevant to
anarchiste, than Stirner’s own
• notion of an ‘association of egoista’? I think not.
Parker is quite right when he says that Stirner’s ‘anarchism is
thoroughly Individualists. But
surely an approach that so neglects the collective element of anarchism must be rejected by proponents of an anarchie point of view today? No doubt Stirner has a certain place in what historians might regard as the ‘anarchist tradition’. But how can Parker quote with approval John Carroll’s claim that Stirner’s ‘brand of anarchism (is) the one most congruent to today’s
– (4i– 4–<>9
In his article on Stirner
(FREEDOM 22 November, 1980),
S.E. Parker writes: ‘Stirner
reminds us that the word “religious”
, cornes from a Latin word which
means “to bind”. ‘ In fact, the
derivation of the word ‘religious’
is uncertain. It may corne from
another Latin word, meaning ‘to
gather together’. If so, a truly
religious person is one whose
energy is gathered together, not j
dissipated in conflict: a religious
person is psychologically integrated,
whole (the word ‘holy’ basically
Stirner’s teaching often seems religious in that sense. For example, defining the essential
aifference between the egoist and the non-egoist, he writes:
‘You (the non-egoist) cut your
identity in two and exalt your
“proper self”, the spirit to be
ruler of the paltrier remainder,
while he (the egoist) will hear
nothing of this cutting in two..•’
Stirner, of course, always speaks of religion contemptuously; but he is referring to religion as society understands it and organizes it which is, indeed, a ‘bine.
S.E. Parker belongs to the ‘permanent protest’ school of individualist-anarchist thought, which views society as a permanent tribalistic tyranny, against which a tiny minority of exceptional people will be forever struggling to assert their separate individualities. I doubt if that view is to be found in Stirner.
True, Stirner was neither a socialist nor an idealist. But he never ruled out the possibility that the integrated individual might, in the natural course of events, bring about an integrated world.
Stirner was, certainly, a rebel against the tyranny of tribalistic society. Such a rebel feels himself to be an outsider, alone, and is therefore apt to emphasize his separate individuality, as Stirner did. But he may go on to discover y the extraordinary fact that clone-mess basically means a11-oneness a psychological state in which, not only is there no internai conflict, but the barrier between oneself and the external world has disappeared.
Given that state, human beings could live in harmony without tyranny. Tribalistic society (which is always disintegrating anyway, social religion and
morality being phoney), would finally dissolve, and the truly religious and moral sense of oneness would produce real integration.
Stirner may have been making that extraordinarypsychologicall—)° dis:overy. S.E. Parker thinks there is no evidence to suppose so: I think there is. But, in any case, that discovery – which can only be made by the individual as such – now seems essential for human survivais
It seems my article on the anarchism of Max Stirner has aroused the ire of Jim Cook and Francis Ellingham.
Cook is concerned by Stirner’s emphasis on the individual not being what “anarchists mean”. That depends upon which anarchists he means: the social utopians or the individualists. If Cook thinks that anarchism is defineld in the way that R.W.K. Paterson defined it, that is, as a society of “universal love and brotherly cooperation”, then I have no argument with him. I am not an anarchist in that sense of the word. However, his quotation from Bakunin on ‘society’ makes me suspect that he does not understand anarchism, for, despite Bakunin’s bluster against the authority of the State, it is quite clear that he wished to replace it with the authority of ‘society’.
Society, in Bakunin’s view, is a species of god from whom all blessings flow. It enlightens us, it creates our freedoms, it is the source of our personalities and the root of our lives. That ‘society’ is an abstract term that creates nothing, that it exista only as a belief in people’s minds as to how we should behave, Bakunin and Cook ignore in favour of a mystification any authoritarian would welcome as a means of achieving total subordination of the individual.
Indeed, this is just what the private Bakunin wanted, as is shows by a letter he wrote in 1870 at the height of his ‘anarchist’ period. I n it he states: “Did you ever ponder over the principal reason for the power and vitality of the
Jesuit Order, It consists in
the absolute extinction of the individual in the will, the organisation and the action of the community … This is the sacrifice which I demand from ail our friends and in which I am always ready to set the first example. I do not want to be I, I want to be We.” (Quoted in APostles of Revolution by Max Nomad).
IF is precisely against this “absolute extinction of the individualY_nat wbet.’ called the “anarch” 7,F individuals”1is directed. By it is mea nt the unending struggle to reeist ail encroachments by the authority of the collective upon the individual (and ail authority is collective, as Stirner pointed out), even when carried out en the
narre of Anarchy or The Free Society.
Cook asks why I quoted with approval the words of John Carroll. I quoted them because I do not believe in the democratic communism which is the philosophy of the majority of those who call themselves ‘anarchists’. I think that ,the anarchist critique of authority is valid, even if somewhat superficial. I also think that the notion of an ‘anarchist society’ is a contradiction in tenu. I therefore take up a position of ‘permanent protest’, as Ellingham rightly points out, and I consider that Stirner’s conscious egoism is the best basis for such a position.
It would be pointless to debate at length the various definitions of ‘religion’ with Francis Ellingham. There are so many of them and they are often so contradictory that it would lead nowhere (although I did like that of the religious historian Salomon Reinach: “A collection of scruples which oppose the free exercise of our faculties”). I consider that Stirner’s definition is one of the most meaningful and it substantially agrees with the more usual oves. Ellingham’s suggestion that it means ‘to gather together’ is so vague as to be practically meaningless. It could apply to any act whereby any objects are ‘gathered together’, from a pensant gathering wood for his stove to a confused metaphysician trying to get some order into his assorted mental spooks. This being the case, Ellingham’s effort to brand Stirner as ‘religious’ is nonsensical.
As for Ellingham’s claim that “Stirner may have been making (the) extraordinary psychological discovery” .hat his ‘separate individual’ (i.e. his ‘unique one’) was really the same as Ellingham’s mystical monism, the only evidence for this exists in Ellingham’s imagination and nowhere elle. In his reply to three critics
of The Ego and His Own Szeliga,
Hess and Feuerbach – Stirner reaffirmed his exclusive individuality as distinct from that of other individuals: “The development of the Unique is your and my self-development, an entirely sinRular development, for your development is dbsolutely not my development. Only as a concept, i.e. only as ‘development’ is it one and the same. For that reason, your development is as distinct and singular as mine”. (My emphasis – SEP). A few pages later he repeats “he (Few-hach) is a unique, a single distinct being, an organ or brain as will not tome forward again a second time in the whole world”. This is exactly what he was saying in IbmEgo and His Gym and has nothing to do with ani, “tryly religious and moral sense of oneness”.
In conclusion: I find it very odd that Stirner’s individualism should be regarded as ‘outdated’.
This is an accusation very similar to that levelled by first century christians against those they term ‘nineteenth century” freethinkers, and it comes strangely from those whose ideology has its source in the supposed communism of an allegedly primitive ‘Golden Age’. No doubt those who, like Bakunin, would rather be “We” than “I” and thus expose their contempt for themselves, will find such an accusation reassuring, but then, so would Marxists, fascists, and all the other doctrinaires of the herd who wish to sacrifice the individual on the altar of the collectivity.
What I Want
I’ve been around the anarchist milieu and anarchist thoughts over twenty years. Through many ups and downs and intellectual struggles only one factor in anarchism has pulled me through and continues to provide strength. As it is incredibly hard to be an anarchist and it could be helpful to others who must be finding the road rough and onerous, it is worth passing it on.
It is not everything about anarchism but the influence of Stirner is vital. Jim Cook is totally wrong (FREEDOM Vol 41 No.25) to reject egoism. Whenever I am confused (which is often) and final decisions about the be st course of action difficult, the bedrock of certainty cannot corne from the essentially mystical conceptions of ‘collective’ views , but must come back to what I want.
To truly think first of self, honestly, is very different to capitalistic ‘selfishness’ which usually leads to empty sadness of spirit. People say egoists cannot be altruistic – the reverse is the truth. Getting kicks out of loving is far better than inflicting damage.
E . G. O.
I find your review on Stirner
(22 Nov) interesting and provocative.
Unless the Stirnerian becomes a hermit, his philosophy cannot be sincere and practicable at the same time. To live in society, one’s philosophy
and practice need to be workable and durable – which is obvious enough. This does not mean one has to make a string of compromises, but rather it is for one’s own good to realise common needs and common goals, and the most efficient and constructive ways to realise them – given the society in which one lives.
I know one or two people who corne in the ‘Stirnerian mould’ – outspoken. critical, loud, but whose socialpolitical thoughts have not progresse& very far. Most people, admittedly, are attracted to anarchist thought in some foret or other through the element of individualism (hence such terms as ‘autonomiste’ and whatnot). If they carry their thoughts further, they will corne to the question of social organisation. To arrive at a convivial system of organisation free from authoritarianism, the most efficient and constructive path for one and ail would seem to be that of mutual respect and cooperation – stemming largely from the recognition of overlapping self-interests. From there they might then carry their thoughts on to federalism.
But Stirner remains at the starting-post of a pouting adolescent defiance, with no tangible pathways for realising his ideals. It is not Proudhon or Kropotkin or Morris then who is abstract or religious, but Stirner himself who is being fervently utopian, a personalist fundamentalist What would stop his association_ of evists from exploiting one another and everyone else? Would they want to stop themselves from doing so? At any rate, the association of egoists rounds too much like the archetypal joint-stock company to me. It is this element of a rash youthful rebellion, plus an ‘Ium allright Jack’ attitude, with a dash of superficial existentialism, that in actuality “makes his brand of anarchism the one most congruent to today’s situation”, as John Carroll puts it. If anything, the association of egoists would be worse than joint-stock capitalism in that it encourages the accumulation of not only material goods, but of non-material goods as well. Indeed, the intrinsic conflict of its members’ interests would ensure that such an association would self-destruct before too long.
Stirner is justified in his critique of society if he cannot distingusih between (existing) capitalist society and (post-capitalist) anarchist society (in which case there is no reason to suppose he ever was an anarchist). I would say that the two forms of society are structurally vastly dissferent: capitalist society is rooted in, based on and built upon economic lines; anarchist society on cultural and socioanthropological lines* – and limited, as a collectivity, by the recognition of parameters expressible as the fine balance between individuel and societal wants
pnd available finite resources. To consider the horizontal as an ‘authority’ like the vertical would be to prefer the hermit’s way, or to be totally unrealistic. (And as the earth hasn’t enough space for everyone to be a hermit, if all want to be, Stirnerianism, where workable, would be an elitist lifestyle anyway).
“But individualism is bourgeois” a Labour councillor once said to me. “Perhaps” I replied, “but anarchist philosophy recognises, as Roszak (Person-Planet) does, the vital distinction between individualism and individuality. Individuality is both acknowledged and encouraged in anarchist society, whereas individualism remains (sometimes only more covertyly) the seed of capitalism. Persons who could not see the difference range from Wordsworth to Amis and George-Brown, shunting from left to right like the proverbial drunken driver”. To move from a quasi-anarchism through egoism and individualism to a decidedly rightest ethic was also what Mussolini had done, what many in the Futurist art movement had done, and what many in the so-called Libertarian Party in California are doing.** It would be interesting to see whether this wasn’t what Stirner would also have done, if he had more time to develop his philosophy (instead of his rhetoric). He certainly seemed to have the potential for developing into the full-fledged right-winger that he vaguely was.
Finally a few points in reply to Gerhard’s letter (8 Dec). I can appreciate Gerhard’s good intentions in warning potential audiences away from the Wyndham, but I am sure that Belt and Braces are equally wellmeaning in their approach to performing Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist. If the company had not chosen to perform a Fo play in the West End, there would be even more people – the sort who frequent only theatres in that locale – who would retain their constricted views of anarchists and anarchism. Certainly not many of the city bourgeoisie would without provocation go out of their way to track clown an alternative bookshop just to leaf through an anarchist text in some dingy backroom.
As it is, the play is a beginning; the apparent contradiction of siting it in a bourgeois setting may be seen as the situationist tactic of contfronting the Establishment with
its own irrelevance It is also
in the spirit of Fo and his own company, Il Collettivo Teatrale La Commune, that Belt and Braces have campaigned or helped to campaign for such causes as Rock against Racism, Rock against Sexism and the Southall Campaign in Britain.
Most important of ail, the almost random, spontaneous style of performing a Fo play, improvising on the script from day to daym is very much as Fo would have it, very much in the way La Commune have been doing it for the past ten years. So the approach adopted by Belt and Braces is ail the more Fo-like by keeping to the spirit of the playwright rather than to the letter of the play. The latter method, especially for the performing arts, is too much like dogmatism.
I thoroughly enjoyed the performance at the Wyndham, though I cannot say the same of the even more hauteto-petite-bourgeois atmosphere of another theatre in Leicester, where We_Can’t Pay,. We Won’t Pay was perYorrjdby another theatre company.
University of Leicester
* traditionally erased or buried by economic lines
** for a fuller treatment of this deviance/mystification, wait for my forthcoming (?) vook.
S.E. Parker’s inane paeans to Stirner and egoism give me no -pleasure ( and if I were an egoist that would be the only criticism possible). But besides being boring and banal, Parker’s platitudes are replete with falsehoods.
Society is not an abstraction (unless you’re a solipsist). Take away from a perron ail those hurnan qualities that are undeniably acquired through society such as language culture and morality (all abstractions, or ‘spooks’, of course), and all that will be left is a dumb animal, incapable of even rising to Parker’s level of intelligence. It is the ‘individual’, the ‘I’, that is an abstraction. No wonder Parker has given up on doing away with society – he must • realize that by doing so he would also eliminate his precious ‘self’.
I find egoists calling themselves anarchiste a curious thing (and not because I’m a naive social utopian) If ail that is important is myself and my desires, why should I oppose all authority? Obviously I won’t oppose my Oun authority, las I can use my power to make others conform to my will, to satisfy me. And if other authorities work to my advantage the egoistic thing to do would be to support them also. If I were an egoist I would much prefer to be
a master than a slave, but I wouldn’t be opposed to slavery. Unless anarchy is to the obvions advantage of the individual at this moment, there would be no reason for an egoist to be an anarchist. It seems that some sort of system based on exploitation and domination of others would be much
more to an egoist’s liking. May
I suggest that Parker and Co. are a little confused over this? They have joined the wrong camp.
GRAHA M BAUGH
To continue the Stirner debate I’m a bit of a new corner to the anarchist scene so I can’t really comment on the details and niceties involved in Stirner’s writings except that I would ,oust like to say that S.E. Parker’s conception of the notions of ‘sociality’ and ‘individuality’ seem very oversïmplified. As in bourgeois thought, where the ‘individuel’ has been deformed into the ‘private’ and as in reductionist Marxist thought where the ‘social’ has been deformed into the ‘collective’ Parker seems to regard the two as totally opposed concepts. It might not be very popular if this letter gets printed, but I’m going to quote Marx: ‘It is above ail necessary to avoid postulating “society” once more as an abstraction confronting the individual. The individual is
a social being. The manifestation
of his life – even when it does not appear directly in the foret of a social manifestation, acc omplished in association with othe-r men – is therefore a manifestation of social
life Though man is a unique
individual – and it is }list his particularity which makes him an individual a really individulT social being – he is equally the whole, the ideal whole thesubjective existence of society as thought and experienced.’ (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844)
If you’re going to deny the social as a constitutive element of individuality then I think you must be living in the clouds somewhere.
Love and Anarchy
If anyone’s ire has been raised S.E. Parker’s has (letter, 10). As to the word ‘religion’, the question is whether it cornes from the Latin relizare, ‘to bind’, or ‘relegere’,’to gather together’. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology states that the former derivation is ‘more probable’; which implies that the latter – first suggested by Cicero, not me – is possible,
Parker objects that ‘to gather together’ could apply to a peasant gathering wood for his stove – a fatuous argument: you might as well say that ‘to bind’ could apply to a peasant tying firewood into bundles. Parker knows as well as I do that the meanings of words evolve from simple root meanings.
_ Parker produces a few quotations which show that Stirner emphasised his distinct individuality. But I granted that in my previous letter; and such emphasis by no means excludes the psychological state of ‘alloneness’. Aldous Huxley wrote: “Every individuel is biologically unique and unlike ail othèr individuals” – a fact he regarded as very important. Yet he valued such statements as this of Sen T’sen: “When the Ten Thousand things are viewed in their oneness, we return to the Origin and remain where we have always been”.
Stirner’s whole book is evidence that he was undergoing a radical psychological change. He was moving from the ‘normal’ mentality of the ‘good citizen’, with ail its anxiety and conflict, to the religious (i.e. integrated) state of liberation.
That means liberation from ail ideals, ‘worldly’ or ‘spiritual’; and -that is the very essence of Stirner’s ‘egoism’. To be free of ideals is to live in a new psychological dimension, in which the ego as a separate psychic ‘controller’ is seen to be non-existent (as STirner said it was) but the ego as the whole_human being flowers naturally and spontaneously, having escaped what Stirner called ‘the power of thoughts and ideas, the dominion of theories and principles’.
Then the barrier between oneself and others has gone, and one can say with Stirner: “the feeling of those who feel is mine too”. That’s what I call true religion. Try it.
EDS NOTE We feel this is a good note on which to bring Cie present bout of exchanges to an end. No doubt the ego and the ire will flare up again in the not-too-distant future.