Author Archives: Kevin I. Slaughter

Malatesta and Individualism! by S.E. Paker (1975)

What follows is an essay by Sidney E. Parker that appeared in the anarchist journal The Vulture (1975), Vol.1 No.1, Summer 1975.  TheVulture was published by Association Max Stirner du Kébec, a Canadian group that we know very little about. If you have any information on the group, please get in touch.

This essay has also been posted at our sub-project SidParker.com


MALATESTA AND INDIVIDUALISM! by S.E. Paker
from The Vulture, Vol.1 No.1, Summer 1975
published by Association Max Stirner du Kébec

The late E. Armand referred several times to Enrico Malatesta as one of those “anarcho-communists” who were sympathetic to anarchist individualism. His generosity was misplaced.

Malatesta did not understand individualism and he was so possessed by the spook of humanitarianism that he was incapable of understanding it. His apparent concessions to individualism seem to have been motivated by a desire to obtain “unity” in the “anarchist” ranks, and it is significant that his words on this subject are mostly elated by those libertarian socialists who deplore “sectarianism”, who want to reason into one the two distinct facts of anarchism and socialism.

According to Malatesta, one can only be an anarchist when one “loves” mankind.

But what was the “mankind” that he loved?

It was obviously not the mankind of his time, since he did not love politicians, policemen, priests, capitalists, bolsheviks or fascists. He wrote of “the fact of sharing the sufferings of others”, but when he gave examples of the kind of people to which he was referring they were of certain kinds of individuals who suffered from certain kinds of oppression and deprivation. Added together these individuals did not constitute the whole of mankind.

Clearly the “mankind ” that Malatesta loved was the concept of mankind as it would be if it conformed to his ideal. He did not love the aggregate of existing individuals, he loved the unborn mankind of his envisioned future society. In other words, Malatesta believed in a religion of Humanity which was a restatement in secular terms of the Christian notion of a kingdom of heaven on earth.

I do not accept Malatesta’s view that “anarchism would be either a lie or just nonsense” without this feeling of “love for mankind”. In an unguarded moment he wrote “we are all egoists, we all seek our own satisfaction”. Agreed – but when we become conscious egoists we do not delude ourselves with rubbish about “loving mankind”. I base my anarchism on the tangible reality of me and my desire for self-liberation from authority, not on the pursuit of an empty abstraction. I do not need to have the ideological carrot of a future brotherhood dangled before my nose in order to be an anarchist. I am my starting-point and goal, not “mankind”.

Malatesta claimed that anarchism was “not necessarily linked to any philosophical system”, but his own ideas were firmly rooted in a moralistic philosophy in which no alternatives existed except to be either for the Bourgeoisie or for the Revolution. This is made plain in his attack on those anarchists who want “to live their lives” and “poke fun at the revolution and every forward-looking aspiration”. He does not say who these terrible sinners are, but it is obvious that he is referring to the anarchist individualists.

But why must there only be a choice between these two alternatives? Why must scepticism about salvation by social revolution mean support for the bourgeoisie? One cannot refute in this, way those individualists who are also creates of existing society, yet can see no convincing evidence of the possibility or desirability of a world of brotherly love.

Malatesta’s claim that those who want to enjoy living in the present have “the mentality and feelings of unsuccessful bourgeois” reveals his underlying puritanism. When else can one enjoy living except in the present? If individualist “presenteisme” is merely the product of unsuccessful bourgeois then by the are token Malatesta’s evangelical communism is merely the product of guilt-ridden landowners like himself! There is more in common between him and the bourgeois who also believes in “humanity”, than there is between either and the individualist whose anarchy only has meaning for him in the present.

Malatesta’s identification of anarchy with a condition of harmonic brotherhood is an example of that fatuous confusion with socialism that has bedevilled a clear understanding of anarchism for well over a century. One hundred and forty years ego The Ego and His Own was published. In it Max Stirner laid the foundation for a consistent philosophy of anarchism – which is only another name for consistent individualism. The vast majority of historians and professed “anarchists” have still to reach this conclusion. They persistently call “anarchism” what is in fact a sort of anti-parliamentary communism, a vain hope of reaching heaven by means of mass direct action.

Amongst the champions of this hope are some who have an authentic/anarchist element in their thinking and activity. But their attempt to reconcile this with collectivist principles cripples their anarchism and often turns them into accomplices of its antithesis. A cool, critical look at the contradictions of a Malatesta would show that that anarchism is individualism, not communism; egoism, not altruism.

S.E.PARKER

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Filed under 1946-Today, Sidney E. Parker

The Independent Ego reviews The Unique and Its Property

A review of The Unique and Its Property from the blog Thus Spoke Me, used here with permission. The author uses twitter as The Independent Ego.


“I Have Based My Affair on Nothing” is the beginning and end quote of Max Stirner’s most famous book The Unique and Its Property (Most commonly referred to as The Ego and Its Own). This is a new translation edited by Wolfi Landstreicher that clears up common misconceptions and quotes that the interested layman was confused about while delving into egoism. It consists of 377 pages, “Introduction from the Translator,” “Stirner’s Introduction,” “Part 1: Humanity” and “Part 2. I,” with each part divided into many subsections. Many have tried to debunk this man by throwing slurs to downright lying about his position. Karl Marx was so mad about Stirner’s book he wrote a response much larger than all Stirner’s works combined, making Marx the sourpuss in this situation. You want to know the reason why Wolfi wanted the new translation? Well here’s his explanation

“When I first read The Ego and Its Own, I recognized that there was a great deal of humor, sarcasm, and satire throughout the book. I never understood how anyone could call Stimer “humorless” -yet certain critics (particularly those who wanted to present him as a precursor of the political right or some other sort of “supreme evil” in their eyes) accused him of precisely this. After translating Stirner’s Critics and “The Philosophical Reactionaries;’ I realized the extent of his mocking, sarcastic, and, at times, bawdy humor and the breadth of his wordplay. My play with these translations and talks with Jason McQuinn I clarified some of the flaws I had recognized in the existing English translation of Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, and the pleasure I find in the activity of translating moved me to take up the project.”

“I did not make this translation for academics, for institutional intellectuals who want to dissect this unflinching and playful critique of all fixed ideas as a mere text in order to maintain their career. I know some academics will make use of it for their own purposes in any case, and to the extent that they are doing this for their own enjoyment, I would expect nothing less. In turn, some of them may provide me with fodder for furthering my own egoistic purposes. But I will not cater to them. Because-to the extent that they accept their role within the institutional structure, i.e., to the extent that they are and act as academics-they are as distant from the “immense, reckless, shameless, conscienceless, proud crime” that willful self-creation and self-enjoyment require as any bureaucrat, any police officer, any other government employees,”

It seems apparent that most people forget that Stirner was using his book as a weapon for mockery rather than actual discussion. He was the court jester of society with the eloquence and simplicity of a Mockingbird. The fact that he is misinterpreted by so many people brings boundless joy for the egoist, it shows you that they can never tamper with it without making a fool of themselves. You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask people who hate Stirner, watch them as they try to debunk what he says while missing the point entirely. Wolfi goes on later to describe some of the ways Stirner was a “Wise Guy” of his time.

“Almost every scholar of Stirner, whether self-taught or university-trained, insists on referring to the author of The Unique… as a philosopher. I can’t recall Stirner ever referring to himself as such, and certainly, by the time he wrote his book, he had concluded that philosophy was a joke that its purveyors took far too seriously, buffoonery deserving only laughter. And to call the mocker of philosophy a philosopher is as absurd as calling the impious atheist a theologian.

“Philosophers pursue answers in the ultimate sense-universal answers. And so they are, indeed, lovers of wisdom. They conceive of wisdom as something objective, as something that exists in itself, beyond any individual, and so as something they have to pursue, rather than as their own property, their attribute, to use as they see fit. They are still attached to the idea of a “wisdom” that is greater than them, you or me. Stirner called them “pious atheists,” a particularly biting barb in a country where the most extreme Christians were known as “pietists.” So long as a person continues to pursue this external, supposedly universal wisdom, he may well be a wise man (whatever that means), but he will never be a wise guy. Stirner was a wise guy, because he recognized that there is no ultimate, universal wisdom to find; the philosopher’s goal is a pipe dream worthy only of mockery and laughter. And Stirner mocked and laughed often in the most delightfully crude ways in his writings. Unfortunately, both his critics and his disciples have largely missed the joke. And explaining a joke is never as much fun as playing the joke. Hence, Stirner’s increasing exasperation (still humorously and even savagely expressed) in Stirner’s Critics and “The Philosophical Reactionaries.”

Despite the tedium of explaining a joke, I will make the effort to do so to some extent, largely because some who have taken Stirner too literally and seriously have drawn the most ridiculous conclusions about him and those rebels who have found his writings useful in developing their own rebellious thought.

So, for all who wants a good laugh and a brandishing weapon that fights against your enemies, feel free to read Saint Max. He might just give you the answers that you’ve been looking for.

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Filed under 1946-Today, Book, Max Stirner

Egoism reviewed in Reason magazine

Egoism: The First Two Volumes 1890-1892 was the subject of a positive mini-review by in print magazine for Nov. 2017.

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Filed under 1946-Today, Book, Egoism

“Personally Acquainted”, a poem by J. William Lloyd

J. William Lloyd (1857 – 1940) was an individualist anarchist poet and author. The following poem was published in Georgia and Henry Replogle’s Egoism (1890), Vol.4 No.1, published in September, 1897.

Lloyd founded his magazine, The Free Comrade, which first ran from 1900 to 1902, which was edited by Clarence Lee Swartz. There he championed anarchism, free love, Whitman (“Our American Shakespeare, and greater than he”) and Edward Carpenter (“The greatest man of modern England”). In 1902 and 1904 were published his two utopian novels, The Natural Man: A Romance of the Golden Age and The Dwellers in Vale Sunrise: How They Got Together and Lived Happy Ever After. A Sequel to ‘The Natural Man,’ Being an Account of the Tribes of Him.

The Free Comrade resumed publication in a new series, which ran from 1910 to 1912. Lloyd now co-edited it with his friend Leonard D. Abbott, who financed its publication. Between the end of the original series and the beginning of the new, Lloyd had stopped considering himself a pure anarchist, indeed joining the Socialist Party (“I am still anarchistic in the essential sense…. the great need of Socialism is a stronger infusion of Anarchism….”). Meanwhile his friend Abbott had moved from socialism towards anarchism. They saw the new series “as an advocate of the juncture of the Anarchist and Socialist forces.”

Lloyd’s writings appeared in Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty; in Moses Harman’s anarchist and free love journal, Lucifer the Light Bearer; the anarchist and sex-radical newspaper Fair Play, and others.

He wrote hundreds of poems, many of which appeared in anarchist periodicals.


Personally Acquainted.

A man climbed up a mountain steep,
And far and near his eyeballs peep :
“O what seek you, my friend to find?”
“To find myself, ere I grow blind.”

A man went through a forest far,
He dug each root, he watched each star:—
“What seek you, man, in these to find?”
“To find myself, or I grow blind.”

A man went o’er a pathless plain
His brain had joy, his feet had pain :—
“If you had luck, what would you find?”
“Who finds himself cannot be blind.”

A man sat in the sun and thought;
His every whim his swift hands wrought:—
“What is it then, at last, you find?”
“I find myself, and am not blind.”

—J. Wm. LLOYD.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Clarence Lee Swartz, Egoism

SA1033 | The Right to Ignore the State | Herbert Spencer | Ltd.Ed. 66

13th issue of the egoist journal “Stand Alone“.
The Right to Ignore the State by Herbert Spencer
16 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, Saddle-stitched

Order:
Underworld Amusements


A new 16 page typesetting of Benjamin Tucker’s booklet published in 1907, the same year as his edition of The Ego and His Own by Max Stirner.


It is only fair to the memory of Mr. Herbert Spencer that we should warn the reader of the following chapter from the original edition of Mr. Spencer’s Social Statics, written in 1850, that it was omitted by the author from the revised edition, published in 1892. We may legitimately infer that this omission indicates a change of view. But to repudiate is not to answer, and Mr. Spencer never answered his arguments for the right to ignore the State. It is the belief of the Anarchists that these arguments are unanswerable. -Benjamin R. Tucker

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Filed under 1845-1945, Stand Alone

EGOISM’S PURPOSE AND WHYFORE.

The following kicks off the first issue of the fourth volume of Georgia and Henry Replogle’s Egoism (1890) published in September, 1897.


EGOISM’S PURPOSE AND WHYFORE.

EGOISM’S purpose is to make the Ego—the I, master, rather than the slave of his environment. To impel him to the self-entertaining sufficiency for his psychological cravings which places their gratification ever farther from the mercy of other’s whims. To quicken him into full understanding and appreciation of his biological prerogatives, and to press him to their prompt assertion and defense. And, finally, to gain general recognition for a standard of Ethics and Social Polity based on a logical extension of biological order into the social realm.

Such biological order becomes protrudingly obvious when we analyze the physical basis of psychical projection, and note that an Ego is the sum total of consciousness manifested by an organism physiologically separate from the others of any species; that this consciousness is impossible without setting everything second to itself; that hence for the Ego to contemplate ultimate reference to anything but its own satisfaction must be as impossible as it is for consciousness to exist without positing itself prior to the objects it is conscious of; that therefore Self-Interest is psychologically as legitimate as physiological separation is imperative by the organic processes that bring it into existence, and that each one lives, or suicides, exactly in the degree that he conforms to this absolute order of his being.

Society is nothing other than an aggregation of such Egos. One of these can be nothing to another except as he detracts from or adds to that other’s happiness. On this is based the concept of the social compromise known as justice. The resistance of each individual determines what is expedient as such compromise, and as that resistance is necessarily approximatively equal, such approximative equality is the only enduring terms of social compact.

It follows, then, that the basic principle of consistent Social Polity is not a relation of the Majority with the Individual or of the Individual with the Majority as practiced in Majority Rule, but of Individual with Individual, as of nation with nation in international relations. This, therefore, leaves rational defense for neither Minority dictation nor Majority coercion, but requires in all matters political, a strict conformity to the equal freedom terms of Individual Autonomy. And the very nature of this Imperial Democracy demands that the regulations of the social compromise be enforced by the citizens en masse, else all of the imperial divisions of social prerogative would not be sharing in the dispatch of their function and in the responsibility for its manner. Such a court function could with requikite representation be most expeditiously administered by jury trial in its original form, which empowed a jury chosen by lot from the mass of citizens, to judge the fitness of the law as well as the sufficiency of evidence. Thus the people could in the light of Equal Freedom dispose of each case of whatsoever kind upon its own merits, without impediment from the inflexibility of statute law, and without danger from either the bias or corruptibility of a court constituted in a single individual known as the wielder of such power before the day of trial. This system of political administration would confine political authority to its legitimate function, that of restraining invasion, and would be real, not “government of the people by the people,” but defense of the people by the people. It would annihilate political meddling, by destroying it as an industry from which men may gain an easy livelihood, and would inaugurate the era of real sovereignty—Liberty with Responsibility.

Ethically, the Egoist knows no motive of anybody’s except the direct or ultimate satisfaction of the Ego, and recognizes no ” duty ” to anything nor anybody by anybody. Thus conceding duty to no one and exacting it from no one, he openly posits a basis for action about which there can be no misunderstanding and which will place every person squarely on the merit of his probable interests, divested of the opportunity to deceive through other pretension, as under the dominance of Altruistic idealism.

He may do apparently Altruistic conduct to secure self-satisfactions that are to be had in no cheaper way and still be working Egoistically, for all satisfaction is Egoistic. Egoistic conduct therefore makes for general happiness, for just as the Egos are happiest happiness is general.

This is the Egoistic ideal as against that of the rationally impossible Altruist, who, has but one consistent course of conduct, and that is to avoid every selfish attribute. He must work constantly for other than self; he must not even choose for whom he works, for there is choice, self corning in again ; he must not even choose to be Altrurian, for choice is selfism; he must be an idiot.

Politically, the consistent Egoist can sanction no government of man by man save in the sense of defense—defense of that equal liberty which is the logical and necessary compromise of Egoic equal resistance as manifested both by personal capacity to resist and by the sympathy of the onlooker. Necessity thus positing the only needful law there is no use for enactment, and recognizing no political superior there is no political function which he cannot perform or which he could afford to delegate. He is, in short, an Anarchist—an Egoistic Anarchist, and the literature of Egoistic Anarchism alone can answer the questions that acquaint with the only invulnerable political philosophy.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Egoism

Trevor Blake on Buckminster Fuller in “Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine”

I am very proud to announce that my good friend, and associate-editor here at UnionOfEgoists.com, Trevor Blake has a featured cover story in Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine, Volume 27 Number 9 / 10 (September / October 2017). Blake’s article “Buckminster Fuller: A Bibliographical Biography / Scenario”, relays his expertise on the subject. I have personally perused some of his rare Fuller collection and it is one of the top handful in the word. Blake had maintained Synchronofile.com, an independent resource on R. Buckminster Fuller, since 2008.
You can order your own copy at https://www.firstsmagazine.com .

–Kevin I. Slaughter

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“A Dream of Beyond—All-Too-Beyond, Woman” by Volcano (J.B. Barnhill)

This short article was published in Volume 4, Number 1 of Georgia and Henry Replogle’s journal Egoism (1890) and was written by John Basil Barnhill (1864-1929) who went by the pseudonyms John Ewrin McCall (when editing The Eagle and The Serpent) and Volcano (when submitting writing to journals). You’ll note that the cover of The Martyrdom of Percy Whitcomb credits the author as “Erwin McCall, aka ‘Volcano'”.

The quote that leads this piece is from a peom by Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1812-1848). She is considered “one of the most gifted poets among the New England Transcendentalists”, and the poem contains a total of six lines and was originally printed in The Dial.


A Dream of Beyond–All-Too-Beyond, Woman.

“I slept and dreamed that life was beauty,
I woke and found that life was duty.”

No, not duty but—tragedy. I dreamed that social reformers no longer found the words of Coleridge a true description of their success with women:

“It seams a story from the world of spirits,
If any one obtains that which he merits
Or any merits that which he obtains.”

I dreamed that the handsomest, loveliest, women lavished all their charms and favors upon plumb-liners, ruthlessly boycotting all reactionaries and conservatives. Alas, it was a dream.

—–

Again I slept and dreamed that men and women were at last appreciated at their true worth and value, that is according to their ability to make the opposite sex happy.

The saint and hero was that one who could make twenty of the opposite sex happy. Such dreams are strands in the rope which connects us with beyond-man.—Arrows of longing for beyond-woman. Man yet will say :

I slept and dreamed that life was duty,
I woke and found that life was beauty.

VOLCANO.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Egoism, John Basil Barnhill

Stand Alone | A Critique of Anarchist Communism: 45th Anniversary Edition | SA1030

Today we officially announce the opening of the Union of Egoists Patreon account and the newest issue of Stand Alone (2016) – A Critique of Anarchist Communism: 45th Anniversary Edition by Ken Knudson. Keep reading to find out how to get a copy of Knudson’s book for $6.66 shipped (US addresses only).


Stand Alone | SA1030 | August, 2017
Subtitle/Theme: A Critique of Anarchist Communism by Ken Knudson
Published by: Union of Egoists/Underworld Amusements

Order:
Underworld Amusements
Amazon.com

A Critique of Anarchist Communism by Ken Knudson has finally been printed as intended nearly a half-century after it was written.

Bill Dwyer, Editor of the British journal Anarchy, commissioned the essay 1971, but the publication went under before it saw print. Libertarian Analysis sought to publish this essay, but the American quarterly also folded just before it was to appear. A mere excerpt was published in The Voluntaryist by Carl Watner in 1983, but the full essay remained unpublished. Svein Olav Nyberg broke the curse in 1992 when he serialized it across twelve issues of his Egoist e-zine Non Serviam. The essay was then published in parts by egoist-feminist Wendy McElroy at her website wendymcelroy.com.

A Critique of Anarchist Communism argues that “Anarchist Communism” is a contradiction in terms. Knudson argues as an Egoist Anarchist inspired by the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, William B. Greene, Benjamin R. Tucker and Max Stirner. A Critique of Anarchist Communism opens wide the divide between socialism and individualism. Not merely a critique, but ultimately an offering of an alternative: mutualism.

This 12th issue of the Stand Alone journal finally publishes the original essay as a single work, with a new Foreword by Mr. Knudson.

80 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, Perfect bound


Any patrons who have signed up for $6.66 or more per month in the months of July or August will get a copy of this new issue of Stand Alone (to be shipped the first week of September). This offer is limited to US addresses at $6.66 and up, but international customers can get it for the addition of the actual cost of shipping (we’ll co-ordinate that when the time comes). Otherwise, you can just buy it for $6.89 from Amazon.com or Underworld Amusements

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Filed under 1946-Today, Book, Max Stirner, Stand Alone

Stirner’s Materialist Critique of Humanism

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by | August 7, 2017 · 6:57 am