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Max Stirner, anarchist, by Clifford Harper
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Max Stirner (1806-1856):

German anarchist.

Enemy of the State.

Stirner was a German social philosopher. He supported himself first as a teacher and then as a translator. It was through the anarchist John Henry Mackaythat an interest in Stirner's work was stimulated in England and the United States. Mackay presented Stirner to the public as the spiritual forefather of individualistic anarchism.

The impression that Stirner was an anarchist arises from his rejection of all political and moral ties of the individual and his attack on all general concepts, such as right, virtue, duty, etc. The individual himself is the overriding reality, these concepts being mere ghosts. Egotism determines everything. He sets his own tasks against these "ghosts," thereby rising above them by mastering himself. All relations in which the individual enters are now freely chosen, as among possessions, and exist solely for the ego.

The ego is not an antimoral force for Stirner. It is merely a fact. Stirner's individualistic egotism was highly democratic. He wrote The Ego and Its Own for proletarians and hoped for everyman to emerge as this liberated individualist.

Irving Horowitz, The Anarchists, (NY: Dell Publishing, 1964)

Note: Stirner is one of the main inspirations for the concept of egoist communism.

...To Mackay's labors we owe all we know of a man who was as absolutely swallowed up by the years as if he had never existed. But some advanced spirits had read Stirner's book, the most revolutionary ever written, and had felt its influence. Let us name two: Henrik Ibsen and Friedrich Nietzsche. Though the name of Stirner is not quoted by Nietzsche, he nevertheless recommended Stirner to a favorite pupil of his, Professor Baumgartner at Basel University. This was in 1874.

(From "Max Stirner" by James G. Huneker located under Philosophical Egoism.)

[Many other sources of articles & materials regards Max Stirner may be found online with any decent search engine; more details on Stirner's life & links, see]

This page created June 2004

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