Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Anarchist Every Ideologist Loves To Hate

There had certainly been plenty of de facto anarchists before the European anarchist milieu began to arise at the end of the 1700s and the beginning of the 1800s — most notably throughout prehistory. Max Stirner was not only one of the first to elaborate a consistently anarchist theoretical orientation; he was also the most sophisticated and important anarchist critic of philosophy then and since. Nevertheless, his influence both within and without the anarchist milieu has always been extremely controversial. Stirner´s descriptive, phenomenological egoism and absolute refusal of any and all forms of enslavement have been a perennial source of embarrassment for would—be anarchist moralists, ideologues, and politicians of all persuasions (especially leftists, but also including individualists and others). By clearly and openly acknowledging that every unique individual always makes her or his own decisions and cannot avoid the choices of self—possession or self—alienation and enslavement presented at each moment, Stirner scandalously exposes every attempt not only by reactionaries, but by self—proclaimed radicals and alleged anarchists to recuperate rebellion and channel it back into new forms of alienation and enslavement. In Der Einzige und sein Eigentum Stirner has harsh criticisms of those who attempt to legislate slavery through the imposition of compulsory morality, ideologists who attempt to justify submission to the political state and capitalist economy (or equivalent institutional forms), and politicians who ride herd on the rabble in an attempt to keep everyone in line. Throughout their history, Marxist ideologists, militarists, and politicians have treated Stirner as the arch—anarchist. But even within the anarchist milieu, from Proudhon to Bakunin, from Kropotkin to Faure, from Maximoff to Arshinov, and especially amongst the rankand—file ideologues of the anarcho—left throughout the twentieth century, the words of Max Stirner have been anathema—or worse!

Still, (and quite infuriatingly to anarcho—leftists) there has always been a minority of spirited radicals, including the undomesticated and undisciplined uncontrollables among the anarchists, who have heeded Stirner´s warnings and criticisms, refusing to allow any words, doctrines, or institutions to dominate them. As Stirner proclaimed, "Nothing is more to me than myself!" This clearly implies that I am only free when I choose how to live my own life. Politicians, economists, ideologists, priests, philosophers, cops, and every other con artist with or without official papers, plans, and/or bombs and guns: get the fuck out of our lives! And that includes any fake anarchists who think they can pull the wool over our eyes!

Max Stirner:
the anarchist every ideologist loves to hate
By Jason McQuinn

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