References and Allusions to Max Stirner

Max Stirner / Sunday, July 30th, 2017

References and quotations from Stirner appear in odd places. Collected below are a few of those references. Originally gathered by Dan Davis for the Egoist Archive.

** New additions from The Independent Ego @worthy248

The Failure of Christianity by Emma Goldman

First published in April 1913, in the Mother Earth journal:

Our age has given birth to two intellectual giants, who have undertaken to transvalue the dead social and moral values of the past, especially those contained in Christianity. Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner have hurled blow upon blow against the portals of Christianity, because they saw in it a pernicious slave morality, the denial of life, the destroyer of all the elements that make for strength and character. True, Nietzsche has opposed the slave-morality idea inherent in Christianity in behalf of a master morality for the privileged few. But I venture to suggest that his master idea had nothing to do with the vulgarity of station, caste, or wealth. Rather did it mean the masterful in human possibilities, the masterful in man that would help him to overcome old traditions and worn-out values, so that he may learn to become the creator of new and beautiful things.

Both Nietzsche and Stirner saw in Christianity the leveler of the human race, the breaker of man’s will to dare and to do. They saw in every movement built on Christian morality and ethics attempts not at the emancipation from slavery, but for the perpetuation thereof. Hence they opposed these movements with might and main.

The Rebel by Camus

In The Rebel the second chapter on “Metaphysical Rebellion” has a section on “Absolute Affirmation” – which has a subsection on Stirner entitled “The Unique”. In the American Vintage Book edition this comprises pages 62-65 inclusive. There is also a brief reference to Stirner on page 154.

Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises

pg. 151

If one assumes that there exists above and beyond the individual’s actions an imperishable entity aiming at its own ends, different from those of mortal men, one has already constructed the concept of a superhuman being. The one cannot evade the question whose ends take precedence whenever an antagonism arises, those of the state or society or those of the individual. The answer to this question is already implied in the very concept of state or society as conceived by collectivism and universalism. If one postulates the existence of an entity which ex definitione is higher, nobler, and better than the individuals, then there cannot be any doubt that the aims of this eminent being must tower above those of the wretched individuals. (It is true that some lovers of paradox-for instance, Max Stirner- took pleasure in turning the matter upside down and for all that asserted the precedence of the individual.) If society or state is an entity endowed with volition and intention and all the other qualities attributed to it by the collectivist doctrine, then it is simply nonsensical to set the shabby individual’s trivial aims against its lofty designs.

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne

pg. 19

It is not realized in the full amplitude of the word that all freedom
is essentially self-liberation—that I can have only so much freedom
as I procure for myself by my ownness.
—Max Stirner

pg. 114

Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for “one goes
further with a handful of might than a bagful of right.”
—Max Stirner

The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

Too often, the ethical-political meaning of individualism is held to be: doing whatever one wishes, regardless of the rights of others. Writers such as Nietzsche and Max Stirner are sometimes quoted in support of this interpretation. Altruists and collectivists have an obvious vested interest in persuading men that such is the meaning of individualism, that the man who refuses to be sacrificed intends to sacrifice others.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

“The Eye in the Pyramid”, “The Golden Apple”, “Leviathan”

pg. 53

Anarchism was frequently associated with assassinations. It had an appeal for freethinkers, such as Kropotkin and Bakunin, but also for religious idealists, like Tolstoy and Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. Most anarchists hoped, Joachim-like, to redistribute the wealth, but Rebecca had once told him about a classic of anarchist literature, Max Stirner’s The Ego and His Own, which had been called “the Billionaire’s Bible” because it stressed the advantages the rugged individualist would gain in a stateless society-and Cecil Rhodes was an adventurer before he was a banker. The Illuminati were anarchists.

pg. 495

The next day, he had burned his naturalization papers and put the ashes in an envelope addressed to the President of the United States, with a brief note: “Everything relevant is ruled irrelevant. Everything material is ruled immaterial. An ex-citizen.” The ashes of hie Army Reserve discharge went to the Secretary of Defense with a briefer note: “Non Serviam. An ex-slave.” That year’s income tax form went to the Secretary of the Treasury, after he wiped his ass on it; the note said: “Try robbing a poor box. Der Einziege.” His fury still mounting, he grabbed his copy of Das Kapital off the bookshelf, smiling bitterly at the memory of his sarcastic marginal notes, scrawled “Without private property there is no private life” on the flyleaf, and mailed it to Josef Stalin in the Kremlin.

pg. 577 –







New additions:

Mein zwanzigstes Jahrhundert by Ludwig Marcuse

“[Horkheimer] was a Hegelian and militant sociologist, believing in the objective spirit, and had expected a study from me which would have worked on Jahn as an illustration of the Left Hegelian science of society. I, on the other hand, belonged at an early age to the diverse opposition: the early Romantics, Stirner, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. . . . I had a warm inclination toward Pollock and Horkheimer, a high respect for their Zeitschrift and their collective volume, “Authority and Family,” which the Institut had published- and was sad not to be able to work with them.”
–Ludwig Marcuse, Mein zwanzigstes Jahrhundert (Munich, 1960), pp. 239-240

Society and the Spectacle by Guy Debord

“The thought of history can be saved only by becoming practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a revolutionary class cannot be less than historical consciousness operating on the totality of its world. All the theoretical currents of the revolutionary workers’ movement grew out of a critical confrontation with Hegelian thought–Stirner and Bakunin as well as Marx.”
Society and the Spectacle by Guy Debord Chapter 4 “The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation” Tenet 78.

Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power by Saul Newman

“Stirner, like Nietzsche who was clearly influenced by him, has been interpreted in many different ways.152 One possible interpretation of Stirner is that he is an anarchist. Indeed, he has much in common with the anarchist position—particularly in his rejection of the state and political authority. Stirner argues that the state is an apparatus that denies the individual the right of self realization, the expression of his value: “The State does not let me come to my value, and continues to exist only through my valuelessness.”153 It is a despotism wielded over the individual: “The State always has the sole purpose to limit, tame, subordinate, the individual—to make him subject to some generality or other.”154 For Stirner, the state is the new church—the new place of power, the new authority wielded over the individual. Moreover, it operates through the same moral hypocrisy—now shrouded in legal codes.155 Stirner, therefore, displays an anti-authoritarianism that shares much with anarchism. He wants to lay bare the vicious, oppressive nature of political power: to unmask its underlying morality that might is right, and to examine its effect—to stultify and alienate the individual, instilling in him a dependence on the state.”

“Revolutionary action has been trapped, according to Stirner, by the paradigm of the state—it has remained caught within the dialectic of place. Revolutions have only succeeded in replacing one form of authority with another. This is because, as Stirner argues, they do not question the very condition, the category, the idea of state authority and, therefore, remain within its hold.159 The state can never be reformed, Stirner argues, because it can never be trusted and this is why the place of power itself must be destroyed. Stirner rejects Bruno Bauer’s notion of a democratic state which grows out of the “power of the people” and which is always subordinated to the people. For Stirner, the state can never really be brought under the control of people—it always has its own logic, and it will soon turn against the will of the people.” Pg.55

“Stirner reveals himself as an anti-authoritarian thinker par excellence. Moreover, his critique of the politics of place is useful in a number of ways. Not only does he continue the critique of Marxism elaborated in the first chapter, he also applies the same logic to anarchism itself—he allows us to think beyond the epistemological categories which inform anarchism” Pg.56

“However, Stirner argues that by seeking the sacred in “human essence,” by positing an essential man and attributing to him certain qualities that had hitherto been attributed to God, Feuerbach has merely reintroduced religious alienation. The individual finds himself alienated within the symbolic order: he is subjected to a series of signifiers—man, human essence—that imposes an identity on him which only half represents him, and which is not of his own creation or choosing. This is similar to Lacan’s theory of subjectification, and will be discussed in later chapters. Stirner shows that by making certain characteristics and qualities essential to man, Feuerbach has alienated those in whom these qualities are not found. And so man becomes like God, and just as man was debased under God, so the concrete individual is debased beneath this perfect being, man. Like the Marxist revolution that only reaffirmed state power, Feuerbach’s “insurrection” has not destroyed the place of religious Chapter Three authority—it has merely installed man within it, replacing God. For Stirner, man is just as oppressive, if not more so, than God: “Feuerbach thinks, that if he humanizes the divine, he has found truth. No, if God has given us pain, ‘Man’ is capable of pinching us still more torturingly.”167 The essential man of Feuerbachian humanism is a new ideological construct, a new deception which, according to Stirner, oppresses and denies the individual. It is a mutilating, alienating idea—a “spook,” or a “fixed idea,” as Stirner calls it—something that desecrates the uniqueness of the individual by comparing him to an ideal which is not of his own creation. This is Christian alienation all over again, according to Stirner: “To God, who is spirit, Feuerbach gives the name ‘Our Essence.’ Can we put up with this, that ‘Our Essence’ is brought into opposition to us—that we are split into an essential and unessential self? Do we not therewith go back into the dreary misery of seeing ourselves banished out of ourselves?”168” Pgs.57-58

Eumeswil by Ernst Junger

“Now just what are the cardinal points or the axioms of Stirner’s system, if one cares to call it that? There are only two, but they suffice for thorough reflection:

  1. That is not My business.
  2. Nothing is more important than I.

Quoted from Eumeswil, regarding Max Stirner’s concept of “Der Einziger”


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