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

    Stirnerism or Stirnerite Egoism is the philosophy of Max Stirner, a German post-Hegelian philosopher, dealing mainly with the Hegelian notion of social alienation and self-consciousness. Stirnerism is often seen as one of the forerunners of Nihilism, Existentialism, Psychoanalytic Theory, Post-Modernism and Individualist Anarchism.

    Stirnerite Egoism rejects the pursuit of devotion to "a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling." According to Stirner, the egoist does not have a political calling but instead lives their life without concern for "how well or ill humanity may fare thereby." He believed that the only limitation on an individual's rights is their power to obtain what they desire.

    Stirner challenged commonly accepted social institutions, including the concept of the State, property as a right, natural rights in general, and even the notion of society, which he considered to be mere "spooks" in the mind. Stirner's goal was to "abolish not only the state but also society as an institution responsible for its members."

    History[edit | edit source]

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

    Stirnerite Egoism[edit | edit source]

    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. Stirnerism, as a philosophical school of thought, arose in the mid-19th century, and its most prominent work, "The Ego and Its Own" ("Der Einzige und sein Eigentum"), was published in 1844. Stirner's ideas represented a significant departure from the prevailing philosophical and political thought of his time, which was heavily influenced by the works of philosophers like Hegel and Marx.

    Later Influences[edit | edit source]

    At the turn of the twentieth century, Stirner was often associated with Nietzsche, seen as a precursor who influenced both the style and substance of Nietzsche's work, even though Nietzsche might not have directly read Stirner's writings. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Stirner's ideas experienced a resurgence as a forerunner of Existentialism, particularly aligning with Sartre's concept of the self as a 'creative nothing.'

    Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    The Self[edit | edit source]

    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.

    The Self-Interest[edit | edit source]

    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.

    The Ego[edit | edit source]

    In Stirner's view, the ego is not a fixed, universal, or abstract entity, but rather it is the individual, concrete, and unique self of each person. The ego, for Stirner, is not bound by moral or social constraints and should not be subjugated to any external authority, whether that be the state, religion, or society.

    Stirner advocated for what he called "egoism" or "ownness" (Eigentum) in which individuals are encouraged to act in their own self-interest and to reject any form of authority or ideology that seeks to impose itself on the individual. He famously declared that "I am the owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique."

    The Ego and the Owner[edit | edit source]

    Stirner distinguishes between the ego and the owner. The ego is the unique individual, while the owner is the ego's possessions and properties. Stirner argues that the ego must liberate itself from the owner, which means that it must liberate itself from all of the things that it possesses and owns. This includes one's body, one's mind, one's relationships, and one's identity. He uses the analogy of a slave to illustrate the relationship between the ego and the owner. The slave is owned by the master, and the master has the power to do whatever he wants with the slave. Stirner argues that the ego is the slave of the owner, and the owner has the power to control the ego's life. True freedom for the ego necessitates its emancipation from external influences, be it possessions, relationships, or identity, thereby allowing it to become its own master.

    The Ego and the Sacred[edit | edit source]

    Stirner is highly critical of the notion of the sacred. He argues that the sacred is a concept that serves to limit and control the individual's autonomy and self-interest. The sacred can be anything considered holy, divine, or transcendent, whether it's religious beliefs, moral principles, social conventions, or other ideologies. Stirner asserts that the sacred is often used to impose obligations and constraints on individuals, limiting their freedom and individuality. For Stirner, the ego's uniqueness should be the highest authority, and it should not be overshadowed by any external, sacred principles.

    The Ego and the Union[edit | edit source]

    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.

    Spooks[edit | edit source]

    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.

    Character Ideal[edit | edit source]

    Stirner's philosophy rejects the concept of "essentialist perfectionism," which assigns value to specific traits based on their alignment with an idealized human nature. Instead, he advocates an alternative notion known as the "character ideal." This character ideal is centered on the self-ruling individual, whose perfection is esteemed regardless of its connection to happiness or pleasure. In other words, Stirner places immense value on the idea of an individual who is autonomous and exercises self-governance, irrespective of whether this autonomy leads to personal satisfaction.

    Egoism as the Future[edit | edit source]

    Stirner's historical analysis involves drawing parallels to portray egoism as a more advanced form of civilization. He inverts the traditional social contract idea, suggesting that it is society's membership, rather than isolation, that represents humankind's "state of nature." He also uses the analogy of a mother and her child to illustrate the evolving relationship between the individual and society. The individual, like a maturing child, must free themselves from the claims of society (the mother) in order to escape subjugation.

    Stirner associates non-egoistic society with relationships of "belonging," which he sees as subjugating individuals. For instance, he argues that family ties bind a person, and he tends to view such connections as oppressive rather than secure or comforting.

    Egoist Morality[edit | edit source]

    The concept of "egoism" in Stirner's works is not always straightforward. While he is occasionally seen as a psychological egoist, claiming that all actions are motivated by self-interest, this characterization can be questioned. Stirner highlights the opposition between egoistic and non-egoistic forms of experience. He even considers adopting the stance of psychological egoism at one point but rejects it. For Stirner, self-interested actions should not be equated with egoism. Stirner's egoism is more about individual self-rule or autonomy, which includes avoiding subordination to others and cultivating emotional detachment from one's own desires and ideas.

    Stirner's rejection of morality is not a rejection of values as a whole. He distinguishes between moral and non-moral goods, acknowledging that certain character traits and behaviors should be positively assessed, even though they do not involve obligations to others. He values "ownness" above all else and rejects legitimate obligations to others, including voluntary ones. He places great importance on individual self-rule and interprets it in a stringent and unique manner.

    Property[edit | edit source]

    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-Left.

    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."

    Revolution[edit | edit source]

    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[edit | edit source]

    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."

    Variants[edit | edit source]

    Dialectical Egoism[edit | edit source]


    Ego-Nihilism[edit | edit source]

    Ego-nihilism is a philosophy that mixes Stirnerite egoism with nihilism. The main proponent of ego-nihilism was Dmitry Pisarev (1840-1868). Ego-nihilism isn't a nihilist in a specific way, for example, existential nihilism. He is instead a total nihilist, meaning he applies nihilism to everything, leading to a path of total negation. He rejects all values, truth, knowledge, ideology, society, morality, organization, and all other beliefs. Ego-nihilism believes that nothing is and nothing ever was. He believes reality itself is an illusion which has sprouted from the spontaneous and ever-fluid flow of absolute nothingness. Ego-nihilism sees this absence as an instrument of self-liberation. In other words, he takes the phrase "All Things Are Nothing To Me" to the most extreme interpretation.

    Jun Tsuji Thought[edit | edit source]

    Jun Tsuji Thought refers to the beliefs of the Japanese philosopher Jun Tsuji (1884-1944). He contributed to spreading Stirner’s works throughout Asia.

    Illegalism[edit | edit source]

    Stylistic Notes[edit | edit source]

    • Stirnerite 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.
    • It is usually smoking a cigar.

    How to Draw[edit | edit source]

    1. Draw a ball.
    2. Draw a phenomenology symbol in dark teal (#001E21).
    3. Color the space surrounding the symbol in teal (#036A66).
    4. Add the tiny glasses, and you're done!
    Color Name HEX RGB
    Dark Teal #001E21 0, 30, 33
    Teal #036A66 3, 106, 102

    Relationships[edit | edit source]

    The Unique[edit | edit source]

    Union of Egoists[edit | edit source]

    • Egoism - My philosophy.
    • Solipsism - "All things are nothing to me."
    • Taoism Yang Chu Thought - Great Chinese Teachers who I can learn a lot.
    • Nihilism - “I’ve set my cause on nothing.”
    • Benevolent Egoism - "And now if someone — we leave it open whether such a one can be shown to exist — doesn’t find any “human” interest in human beings, if he doesn’t know how to appreciate them as human beings, wouldn’t he be a poorer egoist with regard to this interest rather than being, as the enemies of egoism claim, a model of egoism? One who loves a human being is richer, thanks to this love, than another who doesn’t love anyone."

    Neutral[edit | edit source]

    • Marxism - Young Hegelian fellow and Engels was a good friend, but then they called me a Lumpen philosopher for no reason...

    Spooks Ememies[edit | edit source]

    • Democracy - Tyranny of the majority!
    • Collectivism - Freedom of the people, isn't my freedom.
    • Moralism - The only thing that is good is what brings me gain, the only thing that is bad is what brings me loss.

    Gallery[edit | edit source]

    Portraits[edit | edit source]

    Further Information[edit | edit source]

    Wikipedia[edit | edit source]

    Articles[edit | edit source]

    Books[edit | edit source]

    Literature[edit | edit source]

    Videos[edit | edit source]

    Articles[edit | edit source]

    Online Communities[edit | edit source]

    Reddit[edit | edit source]

    Websites[edit | edit source]

    Navigation[edit | edit source]

    1. According to Wolfi Landstricher, Yang Zhu, who is sometimes credited as being a precursor to Taoist thought, is one of Stirner's primary influences,

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