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Stirner Notes


AJ 97 They try to convince you that your life hitherto has been meaningless, oppressed, exploited, and that only in some new pattern lies the hope of something fulfilling. But of course we all face death.
Relation between Stirnerism, individualism, and the law of Do What Thou Wilt. To some people Stirnerism seems to rob life of all context. But that is not true at all
Another antithesis one might try to apply - forces of life versus forces of death. White magic versus black magic.
To owe allegiance to no cause, that is to choose one's cause.
As the real thing sought is a feeling of satisfaction, it is important that one's will should continue. Beyond one's immediate self, beyond one's death. Here country and children may come in. Values become especially important when they are threatened.

AJ 114& The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
 

AJ 191 Marx's relentless onslaught, designed to show that 'ideas make no difference'. That ideas cannot be oppressive, that only material realities can be. Against this:- Ideas in the mind are not everything, but they are quite a lot. An oppressive structure of ideas can be countered by opposing ideas. What Stirner is talking about may not affect, does not affect, material and economic facts, like how much money I have, Obviously such realities are profoundly important. Stirner is not pursuing some fantasy of magical omnipotence. That I have a philosophy does not mean I do not have a network of other allegiances to protect my supposed interests. If the matters affected by philosophical ideas are large or small, nevertheless they have their sphere. Marx promises that allegiance to his ideas will produce enormous benefits, That was dubious from the start.
 

AJ 266& German Ideology
 

AJ 325 Considerations on life, The young male wants certain things, that is natural to him. He wants to use his strength, screw women without responsibility, dispense with morality and concern for others. He is a natural egoist. The young female is naturally attracted to this. Forces of repression are ranged against it.
The Nietzschean/Stirnerite position is that repression and morality are a lie. One claims the right to act irresponsibly on the basis of truth. Moral repression is not only irksome, it is loathsome, cancerous, an attack on the very basis of what ought to be life's principles.
 

AJ 338 Stirner and Marlowe's Jew of Malta. Some people would understand from Stirner the injunction to extract all you can from society and not to give a fuck. From such building blocks, it may be thought, no society is possible.
Yet as soon s you start to take Nietzsche or Stirner away from individualism, it seems there is the danger of something like Hitler. Oppose the Jew of Malta and you get the holocaust.
Stirner obviously needs the help of society to eat, speak and think. What is dear to him, we may ask? His egoism is dear to him. One would say he wants so much support for that. But gratitude? Does this dependence upon society make him wrong in any way?
A feeling one has about the rich. Especially the alien rich, jealous of their rights and privileges. One feels they ought to be contributing. What does the objection come down to? Do I have any right to object to the egoism of anybody? In the light of my reasonable ambition, what I object to is ideas that purport to demoralise or oppress me.
 

A 10 Morality as much to do with power Stirnerism not adequate for one who gets into some of the situations that I get into. Life as an amoral conflict of wills. This is only for the very strong and the very weak. It is a good clean position, it clarifies, but it is not an adequate tool for handling men.
 

A 57 Stirner as the Democritus of egoism.
 

A 89 Stirner and De Sade may help with basic principles, but they do not help to survive, to get the kind of power which is really important. Satire is valuable because it shows how much of what people think important is merely windy pretension, how easy it is in this society to think one is achieving ones aims, satisfying and sublimating ones instincts, when from an objective neutral point of view one is completely ridiculous, self deluded, living in an artificial subculture which has no relation to the permanent values it apes. That is decadence.
 
 

A 94 Stirnerism is useful for young people as a strengthening of the character in early life, since being swamped by alien will is one of the real dangers which people have to face in life.
 

AP 127 Communist collectivism as like the primordial sin. This, rather than any amount of aggression directed at others, is sin. All those Russians who enthused for communism. Their guilt. Greatness of Solzhenitsyn.
Mayakovsky, Babel, Gorky.
The inferiority of this literature compared with that of the nineteenth century. That its meaning finds fulfilment in communist enthusiasm. Basic idea that incompatibles can be reconciled.
Stirner is in some ways clear than Nietzsche. Not to be sublated. He expresses his opposition and hostility so plainly.
 
 

A179 Anti Nietzsche, anti-De Sade. The anti Sadeian position so entrenched, having to be argued out. They say we read back Nietzsche into De Sade.. Thus seeing Nietzsche and his significance very differently from the way in which I see him.
Like an idealist history of philosophy. As if Nietzsche simply determines a mind set. Just makes a way in which we think, just as we could have thought in another way. One looks for precursors if one is sure of his fundamental truth. One sees in Stirner and De Sade the attitudes one would have taken up if there were no Nietzsche. If Nietzsche had not written, the impulses that draw one to him would have drawn one to others.

G 137 The identification of virtue and rationality can really only work for those who are naturally virtuous. Otherwise reason is less than is claimed, and becomes another arbitrary dogma. De Sade's perfection of a rational form of vice, vice that prides itself on being philosophically condoned, puts an end to the idea that only the carnal man is addicted to a vicious style of life.
Even Stirner professed to look down on Nero as a man governed by the sway of his passions rather than by his reason. The later decadents found in Nero the object of extreme admiration, the apotheosis of the Sadeian ideal.
 

IX 7 "I love men too, but I love them with the consciousness of egoism. I love them because it makes me happy". (Max Stirner)
 

IX 23 Jean Pierre Schweitzer claims that the Stirnerite is superior to other prejudiced and hypocritical people, in that he is conscious of what he is, that he has prejudices, for example, which influence his behaviour, and he does not give a fuck about it.

"I don t demand any right, therefore I need not recognise any either. What I can get by force I get by force, and what I do not get by force I have no right to, nor do I give myself airs or consolation with talk of my imprescriptible right."

If this is interpreted liberally, we can see that one egoist principles it leads to an attitude of far greater potential. If I know what I am doing I am in a better position to control what I do and to use it in the service of an unshackled will.
 
 

AN 2 Vital importance of Hegel for communist society. Although his philosophy was supposed to be transcended and rejected, he through his history he was supposed to allow for and sublimate all heretical impulses. Where we see suppression, that may appear to a lot of people not to follow. Hegel for example, describes it differently. How to refute, how to attack, Hegel. From Stirner's brave effort to Solzhentisyn's devastating demonstration.
 
 

AN 11 James L Walker's 'The Philosophy of Egoism'. Popular Stirnerism, Walker, Rand. How, despite some basic sound points, it does not really seem to be a significant idea at all. It is just a voice among many doctrines and can be made to fit in with the prevailing ethos. Like the ethical society, or the rationalist press association. Like some minor religious sect. Largely because so much is unexamined. It is the pre-existing heritage of culture on which the egoist plays his variation. This is egoism without will to power.
Adolescent affirmation. One has to be aware of all the other ideas one is rejecting.
Much of the pleasure of egoism comes from conviction.
Affirmation. One seeks for an identifiable exhilaration.
Walker tells us what it is and is rational to value. Yet even his ideal society would be a kind of hell. What people do not perceive in their own satisfaction with their own ideas. Feeling the logic of one's position compels one to admire what one does not wish to admire.
Walker's criticism of aristocracy. Its support of 'those black coated vermin, the priests'.
 

AM 57 The desire to be a philosopher. Who was as honest as Stirner, with his frank desire to procure for his thoughts an existence in the world?
 

AK 81 Marx's objection to Stirner. Marx and Durkheim are obviously close, both hostile to Stirnerite egoism, even if Marx is in some respects a psychological egoist. A Marxist objection to Stirner, Nietzsche, De Sade, or myself, is that some people have a desire to dominate, that this is unfair and should not be allowed. That they only find Marxism oppressive because it does not allow the satisfaction of this unfair desire.
How do we reply to this? Firstly that it is not an unfair desire. Whatever the desire is that the Marxist describes as a desire to dominate. It is seen by the Stirnerite in one way, & by the Marxist in another. This desire the Stirnerite might be prepared to admit as a conscious desire for power.. He would however say the same desires are present in everyone, including the Marxist, though not in his case admitted, or conscious. That he himself is prepared to avow such a desire, rather than express it is some other way is a function of his psychological theory. That he expresses himself in this way should not be held against him on this level. If he accepted the Marxist account of human nature, he would not feel such a will, If he were convinced of the truth claims of the Marxist scheme presumably he would not feel or express his desire in the way he does.
Or is there another way of looking at it? Are there bad desires? Does morality come into it after all? Is then the Marxist only addressing his message to people of good desires, and not people of bad desires?
 
 

AK 269 Argument about Marx and Stirner with A. Marx's theory, he says, is a meta-theory, a theory about theories, and therefore not subject to the same class determinations as the theories it tries to explain. He will not accept that Nietzsche and 'Stirner also have meta-theories that compete directly with Marx and Hegel, but simply uses the latter to explain those away.
Refusing to accept those one disagrees with as worthy opponents. Treating their ideas as material to be explained rather than threatening the key matter of the justification for one's own ideas. I want to be able to deal with many kinds of intellectual opponents. To marshal arguments that will convince all sorts.

"Hegel would have not the slightest trouble dealing with Stirner" Of course he wouldn't, he could deal with everyone, in a sense he is invulnerable.

But Stirner could convince others by creating a hostility to Hegel, so that one does not even want to take the first step with him.
Creating invulnerable ideologies. This may be acceptable so long as it is quite clear what one is doing.

"Hegel would have not the slightest trouble dealing with Stirner" Of course he wouldn't. On an intellectual level he could easily fit him into his scheme. Stirner fits Hegel into his.
The Marxist attack on Nietzsche, or Stirner, as indeed with any of his opponents, is to say that they speak only from a class perspective, that their whole claim to truth just springs from identification with a doomed class.. this is his whole argument. Thus whatever Nietzsche's claim, however well stated, it could never convince. Nietzsche and Stirner's claim, as it affects communism, is that communism is monstrously oppressive, that it is a faith of a quasi religious kind. Irrational faith that distorts the perception of social and psychological realities.
Nietzsche is gnosis, Max Weber is enemy of the gnosis.
To see Nietzsche's ideas as simply something to be explained away. Is it reasonable to have a philosophy which simply explains away all its antagonists? Will to power. That there is a reality to look at. That the perception of the reality may be distorted by various motives.You, or I , or anyone, begin from certain presumptions, what we believe to be true. I do not simply extract them from experience, irrespective of our class backgrounds.
To be an opponent of Hegel, to create hatred and opposition to what he does.
Taking Nietzsche as standing for Stirner, and the position he represents, and Marx as including his later interpreters:-
Marx's view of Nietzsche versus Nietzsche's view of Marx. Which of these are we to accept, if either? Marx claims to explain away Nietzsche, Nietzsche claims to explain away Marx. Each explains the plausibility of the other.
What are the factors, which determine whether you, now, are persuaded of one or the other? Each offers a perspective on which a structure of knowledge might be built. Nietzsche explains why you might be attracted to the Marxist perspective, Conversely Marx….
Marx says that Nietzsche only appears to be true, because he expresses the interests of a class. He therefore appeals to that class.Nietzsche says that Marxism appears to be true insofar as it expresses the values of the weak, i.e. the excluded. The interests of such excluded groups appear to be served by a dogmatic faith that is inimical to scientific enlightenment. I.e. it does not discriminate what is there to be discriminated. Even granted Marx's class determinations, that there are beliefs appropriate to the middle classes, and beliefs appropriate to the excluded, or he proletarians, what support is give tot he truth of the proletarian values? Belief in communism? Whether or not it serve class interests, it is an irrational faith. Why are you and I invited to share this faith, to say it is not irrational?
Total relativisation of truth, so that it does not make sense to question whether something that is universally believed is 'true'. So are questions of truth applicable to Marx & Nietzsche's ideas about each other? Whether or not these questions are meaningless, they are not meaningless to you, now.Explaining why Nietzsche holds his theory. He holds it because he is not a 'consumptive starveling'. But can a consumptive starveling hold a true theory?
The value of scientific enlightenment is presumably on we appeal to in deciding between Marx and Nietzsche. What idea we start from, what premises of presuppositions, are of the greatest importance in determining what conclusions we come to .
Marx says that all premises are given in experience and have to be abstracted therefrom.
But if I do not abstract the right premises he has an easy answer in that I an merely some bourgeois or petty bourgeois and would think that anyway.
In certain parts f the world the right premises for certain classes might seem to be religious fanaticism.

Is he trying to persuade me of some reality that transcends the premises I naturally draw from my class interest?

If this is so, then my perception of such reality depends very much on intellectual premises in the mind. It is such premises that may draw me to Marx, or draw me to Nietzsche.
To say The German Ideology is not important because Marx left it behind him, seems to me to be wrong. It is in this book that Marx makes clear his difference form the kind of ideas that I find at all sympathetic. From this point of view the later Marx is merely an even more well defended system.
Premises in the mind. Theory of knowledge. Much of this argument is very abstract of a traditional philosophical kind. On many philosophies, if I have these ideas in my head, I will no take even the first step to an acceptance of Marx as true.
What does it mean to say that Nietzsche expressed the interests of a class beyond that he found the prospect of the universal communist faith utterly abhorrent?
In China reading and logic have been defined as bourgeois values.
He might not fancy having to work for a living, let alone work with his hands, digging the fields, but I hardly think such fears play a big part in his thought.
You and I, I the writer, you the reader.
 

AB 382 Blake's Jerusalem. Importance to him of the doctrine of forgiveness of sins.

The concealed Nietzscheanism of this. A form of Do What Thou Wilt. Do What Thou Wilt meaning doing thy true will, which means what thou hast to do. It means everything is permitted. And this is the case in the light of the will to power, The will of man cannot be bound by any moral rules. Always it will burst out of them, because it has to do so. This is its strength not its sin.. And this was the essential message of De Sade, Stirner, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky.

All are against the narrow rationalistic humanism of the enlightenment and the socialists, which is based on a false view of human nature. Stirner advocates extreme selfishness, De Sade advocates extreme crime. As reactions against Hegel and Rousseau they are right. The reason is the will to power. At different phases, or states of the will, different reactions become necessary.

A good conscience for selfishness, that too is covered by Blake's forgiveness of sins.
 

YY 92 Take a group of fanatics, How to understand them? There is the classical method, the Machiavellian, even the behaviourist position. Cynical and detached.

But that is a distorted kind of understanding, say our Vicos, Hegels, Collingwoods. You have to try and think what they think, feel what they feel.

Then how can I escape becoming one of them? You can't, says the Marxist, you are bound to become one of something. Your detachment has no more objective value than their fanaticism, both are but points of view, and there are only points of view.
But for those of us who like Machiavelli and Thucydides. We have a different conception of truth.
Nietzsche roots it in master morality, Stirner in detachment from abstract ideas, someone else in the enlightenment principle. All these relate to neoplatonic conceptions. Throughout much of the history of our civilisation, the neoplatonic philosophy has held up an ideal of enlightenment related to that of the classical world.
In treating enlightenment in terms of detachment, conserving throughout society an aristocratic conception of wisdom. This is not in conflict with Aristotelianism, which is also classical in spirit, but concerned with detailed scientific work. These two outlooks, the neoplatonic and the Aristotelian can work in harmony.
Neoplatonism. Allegorical, esoteric interpretations of dogma. And its magical ideas. Idea of manipulating ideas and concepts to produce desired specific effects.
 

PP 258& Stirner praises crime. At least crime is something spontaneous and willed, done for pleasure and satisfaction. No nonsense here about 'reason'. I do not need reason to tell me how to live.
Mclellan's book 'The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx'. Very illuminating. Conception of 'the free ones' the logic of the dialectic, Bauer, Feuerbach, Stirner. Then Hess and Marx. Fascinating to see one line of development form Hegel.
Hegel as a follower of Rousseau rather than of Kant. Then Hegel, through Fichte, and back to Fichte again. The Absolute Ego, Bauer and the alienation that is Christianity. Alienation from the ego. A species ego (Feuerbach). Then Feuerbach's humanism ( love morality etc) Stirner's demolition of such spooks. Hess and his extension of the idea of alienation. Secularisation of Bauer. Practical programmes for realisation of unalienated state.
Revolution, communism.
Mclellan is, however, too much focussed on Marx. He recognises much of Stirner's strength and power, but does not pursue certain interesting lines of enquiry. He says Stirner's book is largely an amalgam of current clichés. This may be true. These are the counters, almost the spooks in which he deals. They are not central to his message. Also the Fichte connection could be more explored. Mclellan is obviously unsympathetic to Stirner. He says the interest of the book has largely passed. Stirner, he says, wishes to dissolve society into atoms. This is not what I call social atomism. Social atomism is doctrine rooted in morality of the weak. Stirner is merely liberating. Such frank egoism cannot lead to the moralistic defensiveness that is social atomism. Marxism is the most atomistic of all possible doctrines, Stirner's is the least. Stirner would make man amoral, not fill him with some alternative morality. With amorality the superiority of one mind over another can manifest itself.
 

PP 343 What is the most despicable thing in communism? Arguably its repudiation of all personal and family loyalties. Its ideal of the basest form of selfishness. A human being without loyalty is worthless, isolated in his individual desires. He cannot hope to influence others, nor to be influenced by them. His existence or non existence is of no concern to me. For he stands for nothing outside himself. Leninism is a doctrine of pure hate. Its aim is to destroy all ties of love between people.
People are worthwhile insofar as they are open to influence. The fact that you might change your mind and see things differently. Paradox, Marx v Stirner.
Marx's greatest abhorrence was social atomism, that would be precisely what would result form his theories. Stirner, who embraces total egoism, would result in the breaking of barriers between people. D H Lawrence, the Nietzschean, on human relationships, widely regarded as the greatest authority on what is needed. What is needed. Personal co-operation. No single individual knows what is best in life. To follow only his own inclinations, impervious to, resistant against, influence, is to deny the possibility of real improvement. What dialogue is there with him? You cannot influence him, persuade him to what ever original aim you might conceive. Social atomism is a kind of cocooning. People in their cocoons, as distinct from simply egoistic people, are without interest.
 
 

OO 100 De Sade - prison. Nietzsche - madness, Crowley - heroin addiction, Stirner - painful drudgery; my greatest writer heroes seem to have had much suffering in their lives. Stirner's was perhaps the worst fate, if the most common. He gives the impression of not having led an agreeable life.
 

OO 117 Stirner influenced Marx in encouraging him to reject Feuerbach and remove all concepts of love and morality from his socialism. Note that Stirner translated Adam Smith and JB Say, both of whom founded all their ideas upon self interest.
But Marx made bad use of Stirner's moral nihilism. Egoism is the only point of amoralism. Marx tells you to disregard all morality in the pursuit of so called class struggle, i.e. revolution. Marx makes the individual conform, not by morality but by force. He replaces morality by brute force.
 

OO 123 Marx and Stirner. Adam Smith presupposes egoism. A science that begins by assuming people are self interested, that moral ideas are not be to be regarded in explaining human behaviour. Early socialism criticises this, it reinstates ideals, like the 18th century French enlightenment. Early socialism refused to see man as brutally self interested being i.e. it made the mistake of the French enlightenment that De Sade exposed. Marx, influenced by Stirner, did not make that mistake. He, however, made self interest connive at the destruction of egoism.
 
 
 
 

GG 172 The civilisation of Greece and Rome was founded on sound egoistic principles. Such an outlook underlies Machiavelli. In Hobbes it is not true to say there is intellectual dishonesty, because the reasoning is so clear. And the origin of moral values is so frankly placed in egoistic motives. There is however, the beginning of a blurring.

By the time of Hegel, egoistic enlightenment is quite obscured. The moral value has become something to be pursued for its own sake, something with a life of its own. A Old Man of the Sea, clinging to the back of Sinbad. It is even considered to be a matter of fair argument whether this is to be preferred to self interest.
Hobbes endeavours to destroy the moral arguments for rebelling.
So Hegelianism is essentially form of obscurantism. 'the real is the rational' this is really nonsensical. An attempt to close off all options but that which happens to be present. Fear of intellectual freedom, fear of enlightenment, which is dismissed as 'cynicism' or a as 'egoism'.
Max Stirner simply states what everyone used to know. Christian myth may have been a deplorable lie, but at least its appeal was to self interest, simply understood.
 
 

FF 86 Marx and Stirner. Precisely my experience, expressed in terms of Germanic philosophy, the search for the 'perfect spirit'. This becomes something alien to the self. So he returns to the self. He does not speak of the old man. Perhaps it is this latter who makes the discovery of the unreality of the self.. the retreat into self is only a phase. The self must be generalised if it is to withstand the onslaughts of the not self.

Marx sees all these 'ideas' as mere unrealities, and suggests they be analysed away sociologically, i.e. in terms of 'power' i.e. every idea serves someone's interest, do we explain it away thus? We do so only from the point of view of those with on vested interest, i.e. explain it all as exploitation. I suppose everybody ought to read a certain amount of Marx, in order to understand what is going on today, particularly in education, in order to be able to resist it.
 
 

J 149 Geniuses like Stirner using Hegel as a springboards for philosophies of their own.
Stirner, in his attack on the 'life of the spirit' does not consider that 'life of the spirit' may be so broad a term as to include a life lived in accord with principles of Stirnerite egoism. Not as far as I have read, anyway.
 

J 156& Very few people really want to help you. Even Max Stirner only wants to procure an existence for his thoughts in the world. They happen to be very useful thoughts to some of us as individuals. Few would gain by openly professing such principles, though not a few secretly cherish them in their hearts. Stirner was a man of ideas, such principles served his reputation as an original thinkers. But for anyone else it would probably be better to keep quiet about it, or at least to be devious and circumspect. My admiration for him is boundless, but I am not a follower of his. I do not need the bedrock of egoism, I have passed through, though I sometimes return for a visit.
No one would persistently own to being a Stirnerite egoist apart from Stirner himself, the man who originated that philosophy, and is therefore praised for his originality and genius. It is simply not a good way of fulfilling one's will, to admit to such principles.
'The Ego and His Own', is not a book to be lightly skipped though. It has been called 'the most tedious of the Libertarian classics' This s not true, because the book is so clear, so clean, one wants to say 'right'. It is one of the most valuable books ever written, and needs to be taken in short doses.
Stirner's programme would be inadequate if it did not strive to give us access to all the findings of Christianity and idealism quite as much to the new exhilarating thrills of a liberated egoism.
 

I 124 How might an admirer of Stirner come to condemn egotism? Stirner's egoism is not self enclosing, it is merely a methodological approach to the world. Stirner's egoism is s demand for freedom, not for bondage. Stirner was no enemy of deep human relationships,
 

AL 199 The whole idea of great philosophers can be misleading, a kind of tendentious disengagement. Heidegger, Freud, Marx, Derrida, can sweep us along. I admire Russell, who was rooted in logic. Pretentiousness begins with Hegel, who tried to replace religion.Stirner was by most valuations a very minor thinker, but I admire him more than Hegel.