NOTES ON PARKER AND ELLINGHAM AND STIRNER
by Robert E. Sagehorn
First, I refuse to believe that either religion or government were invented or initiated by exploiters and oppressors to further their own ends. I do not state this in defence of either, but rather because I see no evidence of the exploiters having any capacity for originality, and such complex designs are simply beyond their competence.
Government grew out of mutual assistance compacts, for trade and defence and general co-operation, and the motto ‘death to tyrants’ is an ancient one. And this code did not apply simply to tyrants at the higher levels, but at every social level down to the lowest — death to tyrants and exploiters of every sort. I will defer for another time the question of whether we are more humane or more evolved today because we no longer do this, but instead suffer the tyranny and exploitation.
Religion began with an attempt to understand the full range of the human condition in an environment that could only be partially controlled or understood. Both religion and government have been taken over by the exploiters, and it is not always clear in any historical instance what began whore, but clearly this has been the pattern, and I know of no evidence of an original fabrication of either religion or government by resident or invading or any other exploiters.
Mention. is made in this exchange of the duality of microcosm and macrocosm as known by modern science, such as man and microbe, or man and molecule. There is another and equally important that even the ‘primitives’ arc aware of: the relation of finite microcosmic mortals of this earth to the macrocosm of the (to us) infinite universe. And at their best philosophy and theology and metaphysics only attempt to order these relationships, to give them proper relevance and meaning, for the man and the moment, for both thinking and acting in our existential immanence of daily living. Within this double tension of micro and macro, man contra atomic or sub-atomic particles of matter/ energy, then again as man contra the cosmos, the individual is both everything and nothing. Each mortal is a un unit of matter possessing self-awareness and volition, each has its hour in the sun so to speak, each is unique, and few approach their full potential, or are even aware of that potential.
Both Stirner and Nietzsche have represented this both rationally and symbolically, and inspired others to realize at least a bit more of their uniqueness and capacity. Which is to the good, and not at all at odds with some of the simpler aboriginal religions or philosophies (call it folk wisdom if you prefer), or the essential perspective of more cultured and sophisticated peoples with their more complex (and often more obscure) philosophy and theology. And as Parker notes ‘mystagoguery’ is not reserved exclusively to the formal religions or the other spirit-believers — the camp-followers of science often display a pitiful true-believing religiosity.
Now as for the question in dispute. What did Stirner mean by calling himself the sole ego, how are we to take that? I don’t really know, or much care. Stirner advanced, or perhaps in this post-medieval epoch, restored would be more accurate, the concept of the ego and its innate individual worth. And as so often happens with genuine individuals his life came to nothing, but his work could not be ignored and despite the labours of Marx end others to refute it, the effect continues, though he is still denied the academies and official recognition. It has been done before and it can be done again, and that is the real end singular worth of the individual. To me the rest is pointless disputation.