Egoism

Egoist anarchism is a school of anarchist thought that originated in the philosophy of Max Stirner, a 19th century existentialist philosopher whose "name appears with familiar regularity in historically orientated surveys of anarchist thought as one of the earliest and best known exponents of individualist anarchism".

Individualist anarchism of different kinds have a few things in common. These are the following:

  1. The concentration on the individual and their will in preference to any construction such as morality, ideology, social custom, religion, metaphysics, ideas or the will of others.

  2. The rejection of or reservations about the idea of revolution, seeing it as a time of mass uprising which could bring about new hierarchies. Instead, they favor more evolutionary methods of bringing about anarchy through alternative experiences and experiments and education which could be brought about today. This is also because it is not seen as desirable for individuals to wait for revolution to start experiencing alternative experiences outside what is offered in the current social system.

  3. The view that relationships with other persons or things can be in one's own interest only and can be as transitory and without compromises as desired since in individualist anarchism sacrifice is usually rejected. In this way, Max Stirner recommended associations of egoists. Individual experience and exploration therefore is emphasized.

The egoist form of individualist anarchism, derived from the philosophy of Max Stirner, supports the individual doing exactly what they please—taking no notice of God, state, or moral rules. To Stirner, rights were spectres in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality"—he supported property by force of might rather than moral right. Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw "associations of egoists" drawn together by respect for each other's ruthlessness.

For American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster, American individualist anarchism "stresses the isolation of the individual – his right to his own tools, his mind, his body, and to the products of his labor. To the artist who embraces this philosophy it is "aesthetic" anarchism, to the reformer, ethical anarchism, to the independent mechanic, economic anarchism. The former is concerned with philosophy, the latter with practical demonstration. The economic anarchist is concerned with constructing a society on the basis of anarchism. Economically he sees no harm whatever in the private possession of what the individual produces by his own labor, but only so much and no more.


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