The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Whereas in the Old Testament the object of our edification was unique” logic in the framework of the past, we are now confronted by the present time in the framework of “unique” logic. We have already thrown sufficient light on the “unique” in his manifold antediluvian “refractions” — as man, Caucasian Caucasian, perfect Christian, truth of humane liberalism, negative unity of realism and idealism, etc., etc. Along with the historical construction of the “ego”, the “ego” itself also collapses. This “ego”, the end of the historical construction, is no “corporeal” ego, carnally procreated by man and woman, which needs no construction in order to exist; it is an “ego” spiritually created by two categories, “idealism” and “realism,” a merely conceptual existence.
The New Testament, which has already been dissolved together with its premise, the Old Testament, possesses a domestic economy that is literally as wisely designed as that of the Old, namely the same “with various transformations”, as can be seen from the following table:
I. Peculiarity = the ancients, child, Negro, etc., in their truth, i.e., development from the “world of things” to one’s “own” outlook and taking possession of this world. Among the ancients this led to riddance of the world, among the moderns — riddance of spirit, among the liberals — riddance of the individual, among the communists — riddance of property, among the — humane [liberals] — riddance of God: hence it led in general to the category of riddance (freedom) as the goal. The negated category of riddance is peculiarity, which of course has no other content than this riddance. Peculiarity is the philosophically constructed quality of all the qualities of Stirner s individual.
II. The owner — as such Stirner has penetrated beyond the untruthfulness of the world of things and the world of spirit; hence the moderns, the phase of Christianity within the logical development: youth, Mongol. — Just as the moderns divide into the triply determined free ones, so the owner falls into three further determinations:
1. My power, corresponding to political liberalism, where the truth of right is brought to light and right as the power of “man” is resolved in power as the right of the “ego”. The struggle against the state as such.
2. My intercourse, corresponding to communism, whereby the truth of society is brought to light and society (in its forms of prison society, family, state, bourgeois society, etc.) as intercourse mediated by “man” is resolved in the intercourse of the “ego”.
3. My self-enjoyment, corresponding to critical, humane liberalism, in which the truth of criticism, the consumption, dissolution and truth of absolute self-consciousness, comes to light as self-consumption, and criticism as dissolution in the interests of man is transformed into dissolution in the interests of the “ego”.
The peculiarity of the individuals was resolved, as we have seen, in the universal category of peculiarity, which was the negation of riddance, of freedom in general. A description of the special qualities of the individual, therefore, can again only consist in the negation of this “freedom” in its three “refractions”; each of these negative freedoms is now converted by its negation into a positive quality. Obviously, just as in the Old Testament riddance of the world of things and the world of thoughts was already regarded as the acquisition of both these worlds, so here also it is a matter of course that this peculiarity or acquisition of things and thoughts is in its turn represented as perfect riddance.
The “ego” with its property, its world, consisting of the qualities just “pointed out”, is owner. As self-enjoying and self-consuming, it is the “ego” raised to the second power, the owner of the owner, it being as much rid of the owner as the owner belongs to it; the result is “absolute negativity” in its dual determination as indifference, “unconcern"’ and negative relation to itself, the owner. Its property in respect of the world and its riddance of the world is now transformed into this negative relation to itself, into this self-dissolution and self-ownership of the owner. The ego, thus determined, is —
III. The unique, who again, therefore, has no other content than that of owner plus the philosophical determination of the “negative relation to himself”. The profound Jacques pretends that there is nothing to say about this unique, because it is a corporeal, not constructed individual. But the matter here is rather the same as in the case of Hegel’s absolute idea at the end of the Logik and of absolute personality at the end of the Encyklopädie, about which there is likewise nothing to say because the construction contains everything that can be said about such constructed personalities. Hegel knows this and does not mind admitting it, whereas Stirner hypocritically maintains that his “unique” ‘s also something different from the constructed unique alone, but something that cannot be expressed, viz., a corporeal individual. This hypocritical appearance vanishes ‘f the thing is reversed, if the unique is defined as owner, and it is said of the owner that he has the universal category of peculiarity as his universal determination. This not only says everything that is “sayable” about the unique, but also what he is in general — minus the fantasy of Jacques le bonhomme about him.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of the unique! How incomprehensible are his thoughts, and his ways past finding out! “ [Romans 11:33]
"Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him!” (Job 26:14.)
As we have already seen in “The Economy of the Old Testament” and afterwards, Saint Sancho’s true egoist in agreement with himself must on no account be confused with the trivial, everyday egoist, the egoist in the ordinary sense”. Rather he has as his presupposition both this latter (the one in thrall to the world of things, child, Negro, ancient, etc.) and the selfless egoist (the one in thrall to the world of thoughts, youth, Mongol, modern, etc,). It is, however, part of the nature of the secrets of the unique that this antithesis and the negative unity which follows from it — the “egoist in agreement with himself” — can be examined only now, in the New Testament.
Since Saint Max wishes to present the “true egoist” as something quite new, as the goal of all preceding history, he must, on the one hand, prove to the selfless, the advocates of dévoûment, that they are egoists against their will, and he must prove to the egoists in the ordinary sense that they are selfless, that they are not true, holy, egoists. — Let us begin with the first, with the selfless.
We have already seen countless times that in the world of Jacques le bonhomme everyone is obsessed by the holy. “Nevertheless it makes a difference” whether “one is educated or uneducated”. The educated, who are occupied with pure thought, confront us here as “obsessed” by the holy par excellence. They are the “selfless” in their practical guise.
“Who then is selfless? Completely” (!) “most” (!!) “likely” (!!!) “he who stakes everything else on one thing, one aim, one purpose, one passion.... He is ruled by a passion to which he sacrifices all others. And are these selfless not selfish, perhaps? Since they possess only a single ruling passion, they are concerned only with a single satisfaction, but the more ardently oil that account. All their deeds and actions are egoistic, but it is a one-sided, concealed, narrow egoism; it is — obsession” (p. 99).
Hence, according to Saint Sancho, they possess only a single ruling passion; ought they to be concerned also with the passions which not they, but others possess, in order to rise to an all-round, unconcealed, unrestricted egoism, in order to correspond to this alien scale of “holy” egoism?
In this passage are incidentally introduced also the “miser” and the “pleasure-seeker” probably because Stirner thinks that he seeks “pleasure” as such, holy pleasure, and not all sorts of real pleasures), as also “Robespierre, for example, Saint-Just, and so on “ (p. 100) as examples of “selfless, obsessed egoists”. “From a certain moral point of view it is argued” (i.e., our holy “egoist in agreement with himself “ argues from his own point of view in extreme disagreement with himself) “approximately as follows":
“But if I sacrifice other passions to one passion, still do not thereby sacrifice myself to this passion, and I do not sacrifice anything thanks to which I am truly I myself” (p. 386).
Saint Max is compelled by these two propositions “in disagreement with each other” to make the “paltry” distinction that one may well sacrifice six “for example”, or seven, “and so on”, passions to a single other passion without ceasing to be “truly I myself”, but by no means ten passions, or a still greater number. Of course, neither Robespierre nor Saint-Just was “truly I myself”, Just as neither was truly “man”, but they were truly Robespierre and Saint-Just, those unique, incomparable individuals.
The trick of proving to the “selfless” that they are egoists is an old dodge, sufficiently exploited already by Helvétius and Bentham. Saint Sancho’s “own” trick consists in the transformation of “egoists in the ordinary sense”, the bourgeois, into non-egoists. Helvétius and Bentham, at any rate, prove to the bourgeois that by their narrow-mindedness they in practice harm themselves, but Saint Max’s “ own trick consists in proving that they do not correspond to the “ideal”, the “concept”, the essence”, the “calling”, etc., of the egoist and that their attitude towards themselves is not that of absolute negation. Here again he has ‘n mind only his German petty bourgeois. Let us point out, incidentally, that whereas on page 99 our saint makes the “miser” figure as a “selfless egoist”, on page 78, on the other hand, the “avaricious one” is included among “egoists in the ordinary sense”, among the “impure, unholy”.
This second class of the hitherto existing egoists is defined on page 99 as follows:
“These people” (the bourgeois) “are therefore not selfless, not inspired, not ideal, not consistent, not enthusiasts; they are egoists in the ordinary sense, selfish people, thinking of their own advantage, sober, calculating, etc.”
Since “the book” is not all of a piece, we have already had occasion, in connection with “whimsy” and “political liberalism”, to see how Stirner achieves the trick of transforming the bourgeois into non-egoists, chiefly owing to his great ignorance of real people and conditions. This same ignorance serves him here as a lever.
“This” (i.e., Stirner’s fantasy about unselfishness) “is repugnant to the stubborn brain of worldly man but for thousands of years he at least succumbed so far that he had to bend his obstinate neck and worship higher powers” (p. 104). The egoists in the ordinary sense “behave half clerically and half in a worldly way, they serve both God and Mammon” (p. 105).
We learn on page 78: “The Mammon of heaven and the God of the world both demand precisely the same degree of self-denial”, hence it is impossible to understand how self-denial for Mammon and self-denial for God can be opposed to each other as “worldly” and “clerical”.
On page 105-106, Jacques le bonhomme asks himself:
“How does it happen, then, that the egoism of those who assert their personal interest nevertheless constantly succumbs to a clerical or school-masterly, i.e., an ideal, interest?”
(Here, one must in passing “point out” that in this passage the bourgeois are depicted as representatives of personal interests.) It happens because:
“Their personality seems to them too small, too unimportant — as indeed it is — to lay claim to everything and be able to assert itself fully. A sure sign of this is the fact that they divide themselves into two persons, an eternal and a temporal; on Sundays they take care of the eternal aspect and on weekdays the temporal. They have the priest within them, therefore they cannot get rid of him.”
Sancho experiences some scruples here; he asks anxiously whether ‘,the same thing will happen” to peculiarity, the egoism in the extraordinary sense.
We shall see that it is not without grounds that this anxious question is asked. Before the cock has crowed twice, Saint Jacob (Jacques le bonhomme) will have “denied” himself thrice. [cf. Mark 14: 30]
He discovers to his great displeasure that the two sides prominently appearing in history, the private interest of individuals and the so-called general interest, always accompany each other. As usual, he discovers this in a false form, in its holy form, from the aspect of ideal interests, of the holy, of illusion. He asks: how is it that the ordinary egoists, the representatives of personal interests, are at the same time dominated by general interests, by school-masters, by the hierarchy? His reply to the question is to the effect that the bourgeois, etc., “seem to themselves too small”, and he discovers a “sure sign” of this in the fact that they behave in a religious way, i.e., that their personality is divided into a temporal and an eternal one, that is to say, he explains their religious behaviour by their religious behaviour, after first transforming the struggle between general and personal interests into a mirror image of the struggle, into a simple reflection inside religious fantasy.
How the matter stands as regards the domination of the ideal, see above in the section on hierarchy.
If Sancho’s question is translated from its high-flown form into everyday language, then “it now reads":
How is it that personal interests always develop, against the will of individuals, into class interests, into common interests which acquire independent existence in relation to the individual persons, and in their independence assume the form of general interests? How is it that as such they come into contradiction with the actual individuals and in this contradiction, by which they are defined as general interests, they can be conceived by consciousness as ideal and even as religious, holy interests? How is it that in this process of private interests acquiring independent existence as class interests the personal behaviour of the individual is bound to be objectified [sich versachlichen], estranged [sich entfremden], and at the same time exists as a power independent of him and without him, created by intercourse, and is transformed into social relations, into a series of powers which determine and subordinate the individual, and which, therefore, appear in the imagination as “holy” powers? Had Sancho understood the fact that within the framework of definite modes of production, which, of course, are not dependent on the will, alien [fremde] practical forces, which are independent not only of isolated individuals but even of all of them together, always come to stand above people — then he could be fairly indifferent as to whether this fact is presented in a religious form or distorted in the fancy of the egoist, above whom everything is placed in imagination, in such a way that he places nothing above himself. Sancho would then have descended from the realm of speculation into the realm of reality, from what people fancy to what they actually are, from what they imagine to how they act and are bound to act in definite circumstances. What seems to him a product of thought, he would have understood to be a product of life. He would not then have arrived at the absurdity worthy of him — of explaining the division between personal and general interests by saying that people imagine this division also in a religious way and seem to themselves to be such and such, which is, however, only another word for “imagining”.
Incidentally, even in the banal, petty-bourgeois German form in which Sancho perceives the contradiction of personal and general interests, he should have realised that individuals have always started out from themselves, and could not do otherwise, and that therefore the two aspects he noted are aspects of the personal development of individuals; both are equally engendered by the empirical conditions under which the individuals live, both are only expressions of one and the same personal development of people and are therefore only in seeming contradiction to each other. As regards the position — determined by the special circumstances of development and by division of labour — which falls to the lot of the given individual, whether he represents to a greater extent one or the other aspect of the antithesis, whether he appears more as an egoist or more as selfless — that was a quite subordinate question, which could only acquire any interest at all if it were raised in definite epochs of history in relation to definite individuals. Otherwise this question could only lead to morally false, charlatan phrases. But as a dogmatist Sancho falls into error here and finds no other way out than by declaring that the Sancho Panzas and Don Quixotes are born such, and that then the Don Quixotes stuff all kinds of nonsense into the heads of the Sanchos; as a dogmatist he seizes on one aspect, conceived in a school-masterly manner, declares it to be characteristic of individuals as such, and expresses his aversion to the other aspect. Therefore, too, as a dogmatist, the other aspect appears to him partly as a mere state of mind, dévoûment, partly as a mere “principle”, and not as a relation necessarily arising from the preceding natural mode of life of individuals. One has, therefore, only to “get this principle out of one’s head”, although, according to Sancho’s ideology, it creates all kinds of empirical things. Thus, for example, on page 180 ,social life, all sociability, all fraternity and all that ... was created by the life principles or social principle”. It is better the other way round: life created the principle.
Communism is quite incomprehensible to our saint because the communists do not oppose egoism to selflessness or selflessness to egoism, nor do they express this contradiction theoretically either in its sentimental or ‘it its high-flown ideological form; they rather demonstrate its material source, with which it disappears of itself. The communists do not preach morality at all, as Stirner does so extensively. They do not put to people the moral demand: love one another, do not be egoists, etc.; on the contrary, they are very well aware that egoism, just as much as selflessness, is in definite circumstances a necessary form of the self-assertion of individuals. Hence, the communists by no means want, as Saint Max believes, and as his loyal Dottore Graziano (Arnold Ruge) repeats after him (for which Saint Max calls him “an unusually cunning and politic mind”, Wigand, p. 192), to do away with the “private individual” for the sake of the “general”, selfless man. That is a figment of the imagination concerning which both of them could already have found the necessary explanation in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. Communist theoreticians, the only communists who have time to devote to the study of history, are distinguished precisely by the fact that they alone have discovered that throughout history the “general interest” is created by individuals who are defined as “private persons”. They know that this contradiction is only a seeming one because one side of it, what is called the “general interest”, is constantly being produced by the other side, private interest, and in relation to the latter it is by no means an independent force with an independent history — so that this contradiction is in practice constantly destroyed and reproduced. Hence it is not a question of the Hegelian “negative unity” of two sides of a contradiction, but of the materially determined destruction of the preceding materially determined mode of life of individuals, with the disappearance of which this contradiction together with its unity also disappears.
Thus we see how the “egoist in agreement with himself” as opposed to the “egoist in the ordinary sense” and the “selfless egoist”, is based from the outset on an illusion about both of these and about the real relations of real people. The representative of personal interests is merely an “egoist in the ordinary sense” because of his necessary contradiction to communal interests which, within the existing mode of production and intercourse, are given an independent existence as general interests and are conceived and vindicated in the form of ideal interests. The representative of the interests of the community is merely “selfless” because of his opposition to personal interests, fixed as private interests, and because the interests of the community are defined as general and ideal interests.
Both the “selfless egoist” and the “egoist in the ordinary sense” coincide, in the final analysis, in self-denial.
Page 78: “Thus, self-denial is common to both the holy and unholy, the pure and impure: the impure denies all better feelings, all shame, even natural timidity, and follows only the desire which rules him. The pure renounces his natural relation to the world.... Impelled by the thirst for money, the avaricious person denies all promptings of conscience, all sense of honour, all soft-heartedness and pity; he is blind to all consideration, his desire drives him on. The holy person acts similarly: he makes himself a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world, he is ‘hard-hearted’ and ‘severely just’, for he is carried away by his longing.”
The “avaricious man”, shown here as an impure, unholy egoist, hence as an egoist in the ordinary sense, is nothing but a figure on whom moral readers for children and novels dilate, but that actually occurs only as an exception, and is by no means the representative of the avaricious bourgeois. The latter, on the contrary, have no need to deny the “promptings of conscience”, “the sense of honour”, etc., or to restrict themselves to the one passion of avarice alone. On the contrary, their avarice engenders a series of other passions — political, etc. — the satisfaction of which the bourgeois on no account sacrifice. Without going more deeply into this matter, let us at once turn to Stirner’s “self-denial”.
For the self which denies itself, Saint Max here substitutes a different self which exists only in Saint Max’s imagination. He makes the “impure” sacrifice general qualities such as “better feelings”, “shame”, “timidity”, “sense of honour”, etc., and does not at all ask whether the impure actually possesses these properties. As if the “impure” is necessarily bound to possess all these qualities! But even if the “impure” did possess all of them, the sacrifice of these qualities would still be no self-denial, but only confirm the fact — which has to be justified even in morality “in agreement with itself” — that for the sake of one passion several others are sacrificed. And, finally, according to this theory, everything that Sancho does or does not do is “self-denial”. He may or may not act in a particular manner ...
[there is a gap here. An extant page, which has been crossed out and greatly damaged, contains the following:] he is an egoist, his own self-denial. If he pursues an interest he denies the indifference to this interest, if he does something he denies idleness. Nothing is easier for Sancho than to prove to the “egoist in the ordinary sense — his stumbling-block-that he always denies himself, because he always denies the opposite of what he does, and never denies his real interest.
In accordance with his theory of self-denial Sancho can exclaim on page 80: “Is perhaps unselfishness unreal and non-existent? On the contrary, nothing is more common!”
We are really very happy [about the “unselfishness"] of the consciousness of the German petty [bourgeois]....
He immediately gives a good example of this unselfishness by [adducing] Orphanage-F[rancke  O'Connell, Saint Boniface, Robespierre, Theodor Körner ... ].
O'Connell [... ], every [child] in Britain knows this. Only in Germany, and particularly in Berlin, is it still possible to believe that O'Connell is “unselfish”. O'Connell, who “tirelessly works” to place his illegitimate children and to enlarge his fortune, who has not for love exchanged his lucrative legal practice (£10,000 per annum) for the even more lucrative job of an agitator (£20,000-30,000 per annum) (especially lucrative in Ireland, where he has no competition); O'Connell who, acting as middleman a “hard-heartedly” exploits the Irish peasants making them live with their pigs while he, King Dan, holds court in princely style in his palace in Merrion Square and at the same time laments continually over the misery of these peasants, “for he is carried away by his longing”; O'Connell, who always pushes the movement just as far as is necessary to secure his national tribute and his position as chief, and who every year after collecting the tribute gives up all agitation in order to pamper himself on his estate at Derrynane. Because of his legal charlatanism carried on over many years and his exceedingly brazen exploitation of every movement in which he participated, O'Connell is regarded with contempt even by the English bourgeoisie, despite his usefulness.
It is moreover obvious that Saint Max, the discoverer of true egoism, is strongly interested in proving that unselfishness has hitherto ruled the world. Therefore he puts forward the great proposition (Wigand, p. 165) that the world was “not egoistic for millennia”. At most he admits that from time to time the “egoist” appeared as Stirner’s forerunner and “ruined nations”.
Although on page 420 Saint Max now says:
“Over the portals of our [epoch] are written not the words ... ‘know thyself’, [but] turn yourself to account"’ [Verwerte Dich]
(here our school-master again transforms the actual turning to account which he finds in existence into a moral precept about turning to account), nevertheless [for the] “egoist in the ordinary [sense’ instead of for] the former “selfless egoist”, “the [Apollonic” maxim  should read:
“Only know yourselves], only know what [you] are in reality and give up your foolish endeavour to be something different from what you are!” “For": “This leads to the phenomenon of deceived egoism, in which I satisfy not myself, but] only one [of my desires, e.] g., the [thirst for] happiness. [ — All] your deeds and [actions are secret], concealed ... [egoism,] unconscious egoism, [but] for that very reason not egoism, but slavery, service, self-denial. You are egoists and at the same time not egoists, inasmuch as you deny egoism” (p. 217).
“No sheep, no dog, endeavours to become a real” egoist (p. 443);
no animal” calls to the others: “Only know yourselves, only know what you are in reality”. — “It is your nature to be” egoistical, “you are” egoistical “natures, i. e.”, egoists. “But precisely because you are that already, you have no need to become so” (ibid.). To what you are belongs also your consciousness, and since you are egoists you possess also the consciousness corresponding to your egoism, and therefore there is no reason at all for paying the slightest heed to Stirner’s moral preaching to look into your heart and do penance.
Here again Stirner exploits the old philosophical device to which we shall return later. The philosopher does not say directly: You are not people. [He says:] You have always been people, but you were not conscious of what you were, and for that very reason you were not in reality True People. Therefore your appearance was not appropriate to your essence. You were people and you were not people.
In a roundabout way the philosopher here admits that a definite consciousness is appropriate to definite people and definite circumstances. But at the same time he imagines that his moral demand to people — the demand that they should change their consciousness — will bring about this altered consciousness, and in people who have changed owing to changed empirical conditions and who, of course, now also possess a different consciousness, he sees nothing but a changed [consciousness]. — It is just the same [with the consciousness for which you are secretly] longing; [in regard to this] you are [secret, unconscious] egoists — i.e., you are really egoists, insofar as you are unconscious, but you are non-egoists, insofar as you are conscious. Or: at the root of your present [consciousness lies] a definite being, which is not the [being] which I demand; your consciousness is the consciousness of the egoist such as he should not [be], and therefore it shows that you yourselves are egoists such as egoists should not be — or it shows that you should be different from what you really are. This entire separation of consciousness from the individuals who are its basis and from their actual conditions, this notion that the egoist of present-day bourgeois society does not possess the consciousness corresponding to his egoism, is merely an old philosophical fad that Jacques le bonhomme here credulously accepts and copies. Let us deal with Stirner’s “touching example” of the avaricious person. He wants to persuade this avaricious person, who is not an “avaricious person” in general, but the avaricious “Tom or Dick”; a quite individually defined, “unique” avaricious person, whose avarice is not the category of “avarice” (an abstraction of Saint Max’s from his all-embracing, complex, “unique” manifestation of life) and “does not depend on the heading under which other people” (for example, Saint Max) “classify it” — he wants to persuade this avaricious person by moral exhortations that he “is satisfying not himself but one of his desires”. But “you are you only for a [moment], only as a momentary being are you real. What [is separated from you,] from the ‘momentary being” is something absolutely higher, [e.g., money. But whether] “for you” money is “rather” [a higher pleasure], whether it is for you [something “absolutely higher” or] not [... ?] perhaps ["deny"] myself [? — He] finds that O am possessed [by avarice] day and night, [but] this is so only in his reflection. It is he who makes “day and night” out of the many moments in which I am always the momentary being, always myself, always real, just as he alone embraces in one moral judgment the different moments of my manifestation of life and asserts that they are the satisfaction of avarice. When Saint Max announces that I am satisfying only one of my desires, and not myself, he puts me as a complete and whole being in opposition to me myself. “And in what does this complete and whole being consist? It is certainly not your Momentary being, not what you are at the present moment” — hence, according to Saint Max himself, it consists in the holy “being” (Wigand, p. 171). When “Stirner” says that I must change my consciousness, then I know for my part that my momentary consciousness also belongs to my momentary being, and Saint Max, by disputing that I have this consciousness, attacks as a covert moralist my whole mode of life. [III (Consciousness)] And then — “do you exist only when you think about yourself, do you exist only owing to self-consciousness?” (Wigand, pp. 157-158.) How can I be anything but an egoist? How can Stirner, for example, be anything but an egoist — whether he denies egoism or not? “You are egoists and you are not egoists, inasmuch as you deny egoism,” — that is what you preach.
Innocent, “deceived”, “unavowed” school-master! Things are just the reverse. We egoists in the ordinary sense, we bourgeois, know quite well: Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même, [charity begins at home] and we have long had the motto: love thy neighbour as thyself, interpreted lit the sense that each is his own neighbour. But we deny that we are heartless egoists, exploiters, ordinary egoists, whose hearts can not be lifted up to the exalted feeling of making the interests of their fellow-men their own — which, between ourselves, only means that we declare our interests to be the interests of our fellow-men. [You] deny the “ordinary” [egoism of the] unique egoist [only because] you ["deny]” your ["natural] relations to the [world]”. Hence you do not understand why we bring practical egoism to perfection precisely by denying the phraseology of egoism — we who are concerned with realising real egoistical interests, not the holy interest of egoism. Incidentally, it could be foreseen — and here the bourgeois coolly turns his back on Saint Max — that you German school-masters, if you once took up the defence of egoism, would proclaim not real, “mundane and plainly evident” egoism (“the book”, p. 455), that is to say, “not what is called” egoism, but egoism in the extraordinary, school-masterly sense, philosophical or vagabond egoism.
The egoist in the extraordinary sense, therefore, is “only now discovered”. “Let us examine this new discovery more closely” (p. 11).
From what has been just said it is already clear that the egoists who existed till now have only to change their consciousness in order to become egoists in the extraordinary sense, hence that the egoist in agreement with himself is distinguished from the previous type only by consciousness, i.e., only as a learned man, as a philosopher. It further follows from the whole historical outlook of Saint Max that, because the former egoists were ruled only by the “holy”, the true egoist has to fight only against the “holy”. “Unique” history has shown us how Saint Max transformed historical conditions into ideas, and then the egoist into a sinner against these ideas; how every egoistic manifestation was transformed into a sin [against these] ideas, [the power of] the privileged into a sin [against the ideal of equality, into the sin of despotism. [Concerning the] idea of freedom [of competition,] therefore, it could be [said in “the book"] that [private property is regarded] by him [(p. 155) as"] the personal” [...] great, [...] [selfless] egoists [...] essential arid invincible [...] only to be fought by transforming them into something holy and then asserting that he abolishes the holiness in them, i.e., his holy idea about them, [i.e.,] abolishes them only insofar as they exist in him as a holy one.
[II (Creator and Creation)]
Page 50: “How you are at each moment you are as your creation, and it is precisely in this creation that you do not want to lose yourself, the creator. You yourself are a higher being than yourself, i.e., you are not merely a creation, but likewise a creator; and it is this that you fail to recognise as an involuntary egoist, and for that reason the higher being is something foreign to you.”
In a somewhat different variation, this same wisdom is stated on page 239 of “the book":
“The species is nothing” (later it becomes all sorts of things, see “Self-Enjoyment”), land when the individual rises above the limitations of his individuality, it is precisely here that he himself appears as an individual; he exists only by raising himself, he exists only by not remaining what he is, otherwise he would be done for, dead.”
In relation to these propositions, to his “creation”, Stirner at once begins to behave as “creator”, “by no means losing himself in them":
“You are only for a moment, only as a momentary being are you real.... At each moment I am wholly what I am ... what is separated from you, the momentary being”, is “something absolutely higher” ... (Wigand, p. 170); arid, on page 171 (ibid.), “your being” is defined as momentary being”.
Whereas lit “the book” Saint Max says that besides a momentary being he has also another, higher being, in the “Apologetical Commentary” “the momentary being” [of his] individual is equated with his “complete [and whole] being”, and every [being] as a “momentary being” is transformed [into an] “absolutely higher being”. In “the book” therefore he is, at every moment, a higher being than
what he is at that moment, whereas in the Commentary”, everything that he is not directly at a given moment is defined as an absolutely higher being”, a holy, being. — And in contrast to all this division we read on page 200 of “the book":
“I know nothing about a division into an ‘imperfect’ and a ‘perfect’ ego.”
“The egoist in agreement with himself” needs no longer sacrifice himself to something higher, since in his own eyes he is himself this higher being, and he transfers this schism between a “higher” and a “lower being” into himself. So, in fact (Saint Sancho contra Feuerbach, “the book”, p. 243), “the highest being has undergone nothing but a metamorphosis”. The true egoism of Saint Max consists in an egoistic attitude to real egoism, to himself, as he is “at each moment”. This egoistic attitude to egoism is selflessness. From this aspect Saint Max as a creation is an egoist in the ordinary sense; as creator he is a selfless egoist. We shall also become acquainted with the opposite aspect, for both these aspects prove to be genuine determinations of reflection since they undergo absolute dialectics in which each of them is the opposite of itself.
Before entering more deeply into this mystery in its esoteric form, one has to observe some of [its arduous] life battles.
[on pages 82, 83 Stirner achieves the feat of] bringing the most general quality, [the egoist,] [into agreement] with himself as creator, [from the standpoint of the world] of spirit:
["Christianity aimed] at [delivering us from natural determination (determination through nature), from desires as a driving force, it consequently wished that man should not allow himself to be] determined [by his desires. This does not mean that] he [should have] no [desires], but that [desires] should not possess [him,] that [they] should not become fixed, unconquerable, ineradicable. Could we not apply these machinations of Christianity against desires to its own precept, that we should be determined by the spirit ... ? ... Then this would signify the dissolution of spirit, the dissolution of all thoughts. As one ought to have said there ... so one would have to say now: We should indeed possess spirit, but spirit should not possess us.”
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24) — thus, according to Stirner, they deal with their crucified affections and lusts like true owners. He accepts Christianity in instalments, but will not let matters rest at the crucified flesh alone, wanting to crucify his spirit as well, consequently, the “whole fellow”.
The only reason why Christianity wanted to free us from the domination of the flesh and “desires as a driving force” was because it regarded our flesh, our desires as something foreign to us; it wanted to free us from determination by nature only because it regarded our own nature as not belonging to us. For if I myself am not nature, if my natural desires, my whole natural character, do not belong to myself — and this is the doctrine of Christianity — then all determination by nature — whether due to my own natural character or to what is known as external nature — seems to me a determination by something foreign, a fetter, compulsion used against me, heteronomy as opposed to autonomy of the spirit. Stirner accepts this Christian dialectic without examining it and then applies it to our spirit. Incidentally, Christianity has indeed never succeeded in freeing us from the domination of desires, even in that juste milieu sense foisted on it by Saint Max; it does not go beyond mere moral injunctions, which remain ineffective in real life. Stirner takes moral injunctions for real deeds and supplements them with the further categorical imperative: “We should indeed possess spirit, but spirit should not possess us” — and consequently all his egoism in agreement with itself is reduced “on closer examination”, as Hegel would say, to a moral philosophy that is as delightful as it is edifying and contemplative.
Whether a desire becomes fixed or not, i.e., whether it obtains exclusive [power over us] — which, however, does [not] exclude [further progress] — depends on whether material circumstances, “bad” mundane conditions permit the normal satisfaction of this desire and, on the other hand, the development of a totality of desires. This latter depends, in turn, on whether we live in circumstances that allow all-round activity and thereby the full development of all our potentialities. On the actual conditions, and the possibility of development they give each individual, depends also whether thoughts become fixed or not — just as, for example, the fixed ideas of the German philosophers, these “victims of society”, qui nous font pitié [for whom we feel pity] are inseparable from the German ‘conditions. Incidentally, in Stirner the domination of desires is a mere phrase, the imprint of the absolute saint. Thus, still keeping to the “touching example” of the avaricious person, we read:
“An avaricious person is not an owner, but a servant, and he can do nothing for his own sake without at the same time doing it for the sake of his master” (p. 400).
No one can do anything without at the same time doing it for the sake of one or other of his needs and for the sake of the organ of this need — for Stirner this means that this need and its organ are made into a master over him, just as earlier he made the means for satisfying a need (cf. the. sections on political liberalism and communism) into a master over him. Stirner cannot eat without at the same time eating for the sake of his stomach. If the worldly conditions prevent him from satisfying his stomach, then his stomach becomes a master over him, the desire to eat becomes a fixed desire, and the thought of eating becomes a fixed idea — which at the same time gives him an example of the influence of world conditions in fixing his desires and ideas. Sancho’s “revolt” against the fixation of desires and thoughts is thus reduced to an impotent moral injunction about self-control and provides new evidence that he merely gives an ideologically high-sounding expression to the most trivial sentiments of the petty bourgeois.
Thus, in this first example he fights, on the one hand, against his carnal desires, and on the other against his spiritual thoughts — on the one hand against his flesh, on the other against his spirit — when they, his creations, want to become independent of him, their creator. How our saint conducts this struggle, how he behaves as creator towards his creation, we shall now see.
In the Christian “in the ordinary sense”, in the chrétien “simple”, to use Fourier’s expression,
“spirit has undivided power and pays no heed to any persuasion of the ‘flesh’. However, only through the ‘flesh’ can I break the tyranny of the spirit; for only when man perceives also his flesh does he perceive himself wholly, and only when he perceives himself wholly does he become perceptive or rational.... But as soon as the flesh speaks and — as cannot be otherwise — in a passionate tone... then he” (the chrétien simple) “believes he hears devil voices, voices against the spirit... and with good reason comes out passionately against them. He would not he a Christian if he were prepared to tolerate them” (p. 83).
Hence, when his spirit wishes to acquire independence in relation to him, Saint Max calls his flesh to his aid, and when his flesh becomes rebellious, he remembers that he is also spirit. What the Christian does in one direction, Saint Max does in both. He is the chrétien “composé”, he once again reveals himself as the perfect Christian.
Here, in this example, Saint Max, as spirit, does not appear as the creator of his flesh and vice versa; he finds his flesh and his spirit both present, and only when one side rebels does he remember that he has also the other, and asserts this other side, as his true ego, against it. Here, therefore, Saint Max is creator only insofar as he is one who is “also-otherwise-determined”, insofar as he possesses yet another quality besides that which it just suits him to subsume under the category of “creation”. His entire creative activity consists here in the good resolution to perceive himself, and indeed to perceive himself entirely or be rational, [Here, therefore, Saint Max completely justifies Feuerbach’s “touching example” of the hetaera and the beloved. In the first case, a man “perceives” only his flesh or only her flesh, in the second he perceives himself entirely or her entirely. See Wigand, pp. 170, 171.] to perceive himself as a “complete, entire being”, as a being different from “his momentary being”, and even in direct contradiction to the kind of being he is “momentarily”.
[Let us now turn to one of the “arduous] life battles” [of our saint]:
[Pages 80, 81: “My zeal] need not [be less than the] most fanatical, [but at the same] time [I remain] towards [it cold as ice, sceptical], and its [most irreconcilable enemy;] I remain [its judge, for I am its] owner.”
[If one desires to] give [meaning] to what Saint [Sancho] says about himself, then it amounts to this: his creative activity here is limited to the fact that in his zeal he preserves the consciousness of his zeal, that he reflects on it, that he adopts the attitude of the reflecting ego to himself as the real ego. It is to consciousness that he arbitrarily gives the name “creator”. He is “creator” only insofar as he possesses consciousness.
“Thereupon, you forget yourself in sweet self-oblivion.... But do you exist only when you think of yourself, and do you vanish when you forget yourself? Who does not forget himself at every instant, who does not lose sight of himself a thousand times an hour?” (Wigand, pp. 157, 158).
This, of course, Sancho cannot forgive his “self-oblivion” and therefore “remains at the same time its most irreconcilable enemy”.
Saint Max, the creation, burns with immense zeal at the very time when Saint Max, the creator, has already risen above his zeal by means of reflection; or the real Saint Max burns with zeal, and the reflecting Saint Max imagines that he has risen above this zeal. This rising in reflection above what he actually is, is now amusingly and adventurously described in the phrases of a novel to the effect that he allows his zeal to remain in existence, i.e., he does not draw any serious consequences from his hostility to it, but his attitude towards it is “cold as ice”, “sceptical” and that of its “most irreconcilable enemy”.
Insofar as Saint Max burns with zeal, i.e., insofar as zeal is his true quality, his attitude to it is not that of creator; and insofar as his attitude is that of creator, he does not really burn with zeal, zeal is foreign to him, not a quality of him. So long as he burns with zeal he is not the owner of zeal, and as soon as he becomes the owner, he ceases to burn with zeal. As an aggregate complex, he is at every instant, in the capacity of creator and owner, the sum total of all his qualities, with the exception of the one quality which he puts in opposition to himself, the embodiment of all the others, as creation and property — so that precisely that quality which he stresses as his own is always foreign to him.
No matter how extravagant Saint Max’s true story of his heroic exploits within himself, in his own consciousness, may sound, it is nevertheless an acknowledged fact that there do exist reflecting individuals, who imagine that in and through reflection they have risen above everything, because in actual fact they never go beyond reflection.
This trick — of declaring oneself against some definite quality as being someone who is also — otherwise-determined, namely, in the present example as being the possessor of reflection directed towards the opposite — this trick can be applied with the necessary variations to any quality you choose. For example, my indifference need be no less than that 6f the most blasé person; but at the same time I remain towards it extremely ardent, sceptical and its most irreconcilable enemy, etc.
[It should] not be forgotten that [the aggregate] complex of all his [qualities, the owner] — in which capacity [Saint] Sancho [by reflecting opposes one particular] quality — is in this [case nothing but Sancho’s] simple [reflection about this] one quality, [which he has] transformed [into his ego by] putting forward, instead of the whole [complex, one] merely reflecting [quality and] putting forward in opposition to each of his qualities [and to] the series [merely the one] quality of reflection, an ego, and himself as the imagined ego.
Now he himself gives expression to this hostile attitude to himself, this solemn parody of Bentham’s book-keeping  of his own interests and qualities.
Page 188: “An interest, no matter towards what end it may be directed, acquires a slave in the shape of myself, if I am unable to rid myself of it; it is no longer my property, but I am its property. Let us, therefore, accept the directive of criticism that we should feel happy only in dissolution.”
“We!” — Who are “We?” It never occurs to “us” to “accept” the “directive of criticism”. — Thus Saint Max, who for the moment is under the police surveillance of “criticism”, here demands “the same well-being for all”, “equal well-being for all in one and the same [respect]”, “the direct tyrannical domination of religion”.
His interestedness in the extraordinary sense is here revealed as a heavenly disinterestedness.
Incidentally, there is no need here to deal at length with the fact that in existing society it does not at all depend on Saint Sancho whether an “interest” “acquires a slave in the shape of himself” and whether “he is unable to rid himself of it”. The fixation of interests through division of labour and class relations is far more obvious than the fixation of “desires” and “thoughts”.
In order to outbid critical criticism, our saint should at least have gone as far as the dissolution of dissolution, for otherwise dissolution becomes an interest which he cannot get rid of, which in him acquires a slave. Dissolution is no longer his property, but he is the property of dissolution. Had he wanted to be consistent in the example just given, [he should] [have treated his zeal against his] own “zeal” as [an “interest"] and [behaved] towards it [as an “irreconcilable] enemy”. [But he should have] also considered his ["ice-cold” disinterestedness] in relation to his ["ice-cold” zeal] and become [just as wholly “ice-cold"] and thereby, [obviously, he would have spared] his original ["interest"] and hence himself the “temptation” to turn [in a circle] on the [heel] of speculation. — Instead, he cheerfully continues (ibid.):
I shall only take care to safeguard my own property for myself” (i.e., to safeguard myself from my property) “and, in order to safeguard it, I take it back into myself at any time, I destroy in it any inclination towards independence and absorb it before it becomes fixed and can become a fixed idea or passion.”
How does Stirner “absorb” the persons who are his property!
Stirner has just allowed himself to be given a “vocation” by “criticism”. He asserts that he at once absorbs this “vocation” again, by saying on page 189:
“I do this, however, not for the sake of my human vocation, but because I call on myself to do so.”
If I do not call on myself to do so, I am, as we have just heard, a slave, not an owner, not a true egoist, I do not behave to myself as creator, as I should do as a true egoist; therefore, insofar as a person wants to be a true egoist, he must call himself to this vocation given him by “criticism”. Thus, it is a universal vocation, a vocation for all, not merely his vocation, but also his vocation.
On the other hand, the true egoist appears here as an ideal which is unattainable by the majority of individuals, for (p. 434) “innately limited intellects unquestionably form the most numerous class of mankind” — and how could these “limited intellects” be able to penetrate the mystery of unlimited absorption of oneself and the world.
Incidentally, all these terrible expressions — to destroy, to absorb etc. — are merely a new variation of the above-mentioned “ice-cold, most irreconcilable enemy”.
Now, at last, we are put in a position to obtain an insight into Stirner’s objections to communism. They were. nothing but a preliminary, concealed legitimisation of his egoism in agreement with itself, in which these objections are resurrected in the flesh. The “equal well-being of all in one and the same respect” is resurrected in the demand that “we should [only] feel happy in [dissolution”. “Care]” is resurrected [in the form of the unique “care]” to secure [one’s ego] [as one’s property]; [but “with the passage of time]” ["care"] again arises as to “how” [one can arrive] at a [unity — ] viz., unity [of creator and creation.] And, finally, humanism re[-appears, which in the form of the true] egoist confronts empirical individuals as an unattainable ideal. Hence page 117 of “the book” should read as follows: Egoism in agreement with itself really endeavours to transform every man into a “secret police state”. The spy and sleuth “reflection” keeps a strict eye on every impulse of spirit and body, and every deed and thought, every manifestation of life is, for him, a matter of reflection, i.e., a police matter. It is this dismemberment of man into “natural instinct” and “reflection” (the inner plebeian-creation, and the internal police — creator) which constitutes the egoist in agreement with himself.
Hess (Die letzten Philosophen, p. 26) reproached our saint:
“He is constantly under the secret police surveillance of his critical conscience.... He has not forgotten the ‘directive of criticism ... to feel happy only in dissolution..... The egoist — his critical conscience is always reminding him — should never become so interested in anything as to devote himself entirely to his subject”, and so on.
Saint Max “empowers himself” to answer as follows:
When “Hess says of Stirner that he is constantly, etc’. — What does this mean except that when he criticises he wants to criticise not at random” (i.e., by the way: in the unique fashion), “not talking twaddle, but criticising properly” (i.e., like a human being)?
“What it means”, when Hess speaks of the secret police, etc., is so clear from the passage by Hess quoted above that even Saint Max’s “unique” understanding of it can only be explained as a deliberate misunderstanding. His “virtuosity of thought” is transformed here into a virtuosity in lying, for which we do not reproach him since it was his only way out, but which is hardly in keeping with the subtle little distinctions on the right to lie which he sets out elsewhere in “the book”. Incidentally, we have already demonstrated — at greater length than he deserves — that “when he criticises”, Sancho by no means “criticises properly”, but “criticises at random” and “talks twaddle”.
Thus, the attitude of the true egoist as creator towards himself as creation was first of all defined in the sense that in opposition to a definition in which he became fixed as a creation — for example, as against himself as thinker, as spirit — he asserts himself as a person also-otherwise-determined, as flesh. Later, he no longer asserts himself as really also-otherwise-determined, but as the mere idea of being also-otherwise-determined in general — hence, in the above example as someone who also-does-not think, who is thoughtless or indifferent to thought, an idea which he abandons again as soon as its nonsensicalness becomes evident. See above on turning round on the heel of speculation. Hence the creative activity consisted here in the reflection that this single determination, in the present case thought, could also be indifferent for him, i.e., it consisted in reflecting in general; as a result, of course, he creates only reflective definitions, if he creates anything at all (e.g., the idea of antithesis, the simple essence of which is concealed by all kinds of fiery arabesques).
As for the content of himself as a creation, we have seen that nowhere does he create this content, these definite qualities, e.g., his thought, his zeal, etc., but only the reflective definition of this content as creation, the idea that these definite qualities are his creations. All his qualities are present in him and whence they come is all the same to him. He, therefore, needs neither to develop them — for example, to learn to dance, in order to have mastery over his feet, or to exercise his thought on material which is not given to everyone, and is not procurable by everyone, in order to become the owner of his thought — nor does he need to worry about the conditions in the world, which in reality determine the extent to which an individual can develop.
Stirner actually only rids himself of one quality by means of another (i.e., the suppression of his remaining qualities by this “other”). In reality, however, [as we] have [already shown,] he does this only insofar as this quality has not only achieved free development, i.e., has not remained merely potential, but also insofar as conditions in the world have permitted him to develop in an equal measure a totality of qualities, [that is to say,] thanks to the division of [labour,] thus making possible the [predominant pursuit] of a [single passion, e.g., that of [writing] books. [In general], it is an [absurdity to assume], as Saint [Max does], that one could satisfy one [passion], apart from all others, that one could satisfy it without at the same time satisfying oneself, the entire living individual. If this passion assumes an abstract, isolated character, if it confronts me as an alien power, if, therefore, the satisfaction of the individual appears as the one-sided satisfaction of a single passion — this by no means depends on consciousness or “good will” and least of all on lack of reflection on the concept of this quality, as Saint Max imagines.
It depends not on consciousness, but on being; not on thought, but on life; it depends on the individual’s empirical development and manifestation of life, which in turn depends on the conditions obtaining in the world. If the circumstances in which the individual lives allow him only the [one]-sided development of one quality at the expense of all the rest, [If] they give him the material and time to develop only that one quality, then this individual achieves only a one-sided, crippled development. No moral preaching avails here. And the manner in which this one, pre-eminently favoured quality develops depends again, on the one hand, on the material available for its development and, on the other hand, on the degree and manner in which the other qualities are suppressed. Precisely because thought, for example, is the thought of a particular, definite individual, it remains his definite thought, determined by his individuality and the conditions in which he lives. The thinking individual therefore has no need to resort to prolonged reflection about thought as such in order to declare that his thought is his own thought, his property; from the outset it is his own, peculiarly determined thought and it was precisely his peculiarity which [in the case of Saint] Sancho [was found to be] the “opposite” of this, a peculiarity which is peculiarity “as such”. In the case of an individual, for example, whose life embraces a wide circle of varied activities and practical relations to the world, and who, therefore, lives a many-sided life, thought has the same character of universality as every other manifestation of his life. Consequently, it neither becomes fixed in the form of abstract thought nor does it need complicated tricks of reflection when the individual passes from thought to some other manifestation of life. From the outset it is always a factor in the total life of the individual, one which disappears and is reproduced as required,
In the case of a parochial Berlin school-master or author, however, whose activity is restricted to arduous work on the one hand and the pleasure of thought on the other, whose world extends from Moabit to Köpenick and ends behind the Hamburger Tor,  whose relations to this world are reduced to a minimum by his pitiful position in life, when such an individual experiences the need to think, it is indeed inevitable that his thought becomes just as abstract as he himself and his life, and that thought confronts him, who is quite incapable of resistance, in the form of a fixed power, whose activity offers the individual the possibility of a momentary escape from his “bad world”, of a momentary pleasure. In the case of such an individual the few remaining desires, which arise not so much from intercourse with the world as from the constitution of the human body, express themselves only through repercussion, i.e., they assume in their narrow development the same one-sided and crude character as does his thought, they appear only at long intervals, stimulated by the excessive development of the predominant desire (fortified by immediate physical causes, e.g. [stomach] spasm) and are manifested turbulently and forcibly, with the most brutal suppression of the ordinary, [natural] desire [ — this leads to further] domination over [thought.] As a matter of course, the school-master’s [thinking reflects on and speculates about] this empirical [fact in a school]masterly fashion. [But the mere announcement] that Stirner in general “creates” [his qualities] does not [explain] even their particular form of development. The extent to which these qualities develop on the universal or local scale, the extent to which they transcend local narrow-mindedness or remain within its confines, depends not on Stirner, but on the development of world intercourse and on the part which he and the locality where he lives play in it. That under favourable circumstances some individuals are able to rid themselves of their local narrow-mindedness is by no means due to individuals imagining that they have got rid of, or intend to get rid of their local narrow-mindedness, but is only due to the fact that in their real empirical life individuals, actuated by empirical needs, have been able to bring about world intercourse.
The only thing our saint achieves with the aid of his arduous reflection about his qualities and passions is that by his constant crotchetiness and scuffling with them he poisons the enjoyment and satisfaction of them.
Saint Max creates, as already said, only himself as a creation, i.e., he is satisfied with placing himself in this category of created entity. His activity [as] creator consists in regarding himself as a creation, and he does not even go on to resolve this division of himself into [creator and] creation, which is his own [product]. The division [into the “essential” and] the “Inessential” becomes [for him a] permanent life process, [hence mere appearance,] i.e., his real life exists only [in “pure"] reflection, is [not] even actual existence; [for since this latter is at every] instant outside [him and his reflection], he tries [in vain to] present [reflection as] essential.
“But [since] this enemy” (viz., the true egoist as a creation) “begets himself in his defeat, since consciousness, by becoming fixed on him, does not free itself from him, but instead always dwells on him and always sees itself besmirched, and since this content of his endeavour is at the same time the very lowest, we find only an individual restricted to himself and his petty activity” (inactivity), “and brooding over himself, as unhappy as he is wretched” (Hegel) [Phänomenologie des Geistes. B. Selbstbewusstsein. 3. Das unglückliche Bewusstsein].
What we have said so far about the division of Sancho into creator and creation, he himself now finally expresses in a logical form: the creator and the creation are transformed into the presupposing and the presupposed ego, or (inasmuch as his presupposition [of his ego] is a positing) into the positing and the posited ego:
“I for my part start from a certain presupposition since I presuppose myself; but my presupposition does not strive for its perfection” (rather does Saint Max strive for its abasement), “on the contrary, it serves me merely as something to enjoy and consume!’ (an enviable enjoyment!). “I am nourished by my presupposition alone and exist only by consuming it. But for that reason” (a grand “for that reason"!) “the presupposition in question is no presupposition at all, for since” (a grand “for since"!) “I am the unique” (it should read: the true egoist in agreement with himself), “I know nothing about the duality of a presupposing and presupposed ego (of an ‘imperfect’ and ‘perfect’ ego or man)” — it should read: the perfection of my ego consists in this alone, that at every instant I know myself as an imperfect ego, as a creation — “ but” (a magnificent “but"!) “the fact that I consume myself signifies merely that I am.” (It should read: The fact that I am signifies here merely that in me I consume in imagination the category of the presupposed.) “I do not presuppose myself, because I really only posit or create myself perpetually” (viz., I posit and create myself as the presupposed, posited or created) “and I am I only because I am not presupposed, but posited” (it should read: and I exist only because I am antecedent to my positing) land, again, I am posited only at the moment when I posit myself, i.e., I am creator and creation in one.”
Stirner is a “posited man”, since he is always a posited ego, and his ego is “also a man” (Wigand, p. 183). “For that reason” he is a posited man; “for since” he is never driven by his passions to excesses, “therefore”, he is what burghers call a sedate man, “but” the fact that he is a sedate man “signifies merely” that he always keeps an account of his own transformations and refractions.
What was so far only “for us” — to use for once, as Stirner does, the language of Hegel — viz., that his whole creative activity had no other content than general definitions of reflection, is now “posited” by, Stirner himself. Saint Max’s struggle against “essence” here attains its “final goal” in that he identifies himself with essence, and indeed with pure, speculative essence. The relation of creator and creation is transformed into an explication of self-presupposition, i.e., [Stirner transforms] into an extremely “clumsy” and confused [idea] what Hegel [says] about reflection in “the [Doctrine of Essence]”. [Since] Saint Max takes out one [element of his] reflection, [viz., positing reflection, his fantasies become] “negative”, [because he] transforms himself, etc., into “self-[presupposition”, in] contradistinction to [himself as the positing] and himself as the posited, [and] transforms reflection into the mystical antithesis of creator and creation. It should be pointed out, by the way, that in this section of his Logik Hegel analyses the “machinations” of the “creative nothing”, which explains also why Saint Max already on page 8 had to “posit” himself as this “creative nothing”.
We shall now “episodically insert” a few passages from Hegel’s explanation of self-presupposition for comparison with Saint Max’s explanation. But as Hegel does not write so incoherently and “at random” as our Jacques le bonhomme, we shall have to collect these passages from various pages of the Logik in order to bring them into correspondence with Sancho’s great thesis.
“Essence presupposes itself and is itself the transcendence of this presupposition. Since it is the repulsion of itself from itself or indifference towards itself, negative relation to itself, it thereby posits itself against itself ... positing has no presupposition ... the other is only posited through essence itself... Thus, reflection is only the negative of itself. Reflection in so far as it presupposes is simply positing reflection. It consists therefore in this, that it is itself and’ not itself in a unity” (“creator and creation in one”) (Hegel, Logik, II, pp. 5, 16, 17, 18, 22).
One might have expected from Stirner’s “virtuosity of thought” that he would have gone on to further researches into Hegel’s Logik. However, he wisely refrained from doing so. For, if he had done so, he would have found that he, as mere “posited” ego, as creation, i.e., insofar as he possesses existence, is merely a seeming ego, and he is “essence”, creator, only insofar as he does not exist, but only imagines himself. We have already seen, and shall see again further on, that all his qualities, his whole activity, and his whole attitude to the world, are a mere appearance which he creates for himself, nothing but “juggling tricks on the tightrope of the objective”. His ego is always a dumb, hidden “ego”, hidden in his ego imagined as essence.
Since the true egoist in his creative activity is, therefore, only a paraphrase of speculative reflection or pure essence, it follows, “according to the myth”, “by natural reproduction”, as was already revealed when examining the “arduous life battles” of the true egoist, that his “creations” are limited to the simplest determinations of reflection, such as identity, difference, equality, inequality, [opposition,] etc. — determinations [of reflection] which he [tries] to make clear for himself in ["himself"], concerning whom “the tidings have [gone] as far as [Berlin]”. [Concerning] his presuppositionless [ego] we [shall] have occasion to “hear [a little] word” later on. See, inter alia, “The Unique”.
As in Sancho’s construction of history the later historical phenomenon is transformed, by Hegel’s method, into the cause, the creator, of an earlier phenomenon, so in the case of the egoist in agreement with himself the Stirner of today is transformed into the creator of the Stirner of yesterday, although, to use his language, the Stirner of today is the creation of the Stirner of yesterday. Reflection, indeed, reverses all this, and in reflection the Stirner of yesterday is the creation of the Stirner of today, as a product of reflection, as an idea — just as in reflection the conditions of the external world are creations of his reflection.
Page 216: “Do not seek in ‘self-denial’ the freedom that actually deprives you of yourselves, but seek yourselves” (i.e., seek yourselves in self-denial), “become egoists, each of you should become an all-powerful ego!”
After the foregoing, we should not be surprised if later on Saint Max’s attitude to this proposition is again that of creator and most irreconcilable enemy and he “dissolves” his lofty moral postulate: “Become an all-powerful ego” into this, that each, in any case, does what he can, and that he can do what he does, and therefore, of course, for Saint Max, he is “all-powerful”.
Incidentally, the nonsense of the egoist in agreement with himself is summarised in the proposition quoted above. First comes the moral injunction to seek and, moreover, to seek oneself. This is defined in the sense that man should become something that he so far is not, namely, an egoist, and this egoist is defined as being an “all-powerful ego”, in whom the peculiar ability has become resolved from actual ability into the ego, into omnipotence, into the fantastic idea of ability. To seek oneself means, therefore, to become something different from what one is and, indeed, to become all-powerful, i.e., nothing, a non-thing, a phantasmagoria.
We have now progressed so far that one of the profoundest mysteries of the unique, and at the same time a problem that has long kept the civilised world in a state of anxious suspense, can be disclosed and solved.
Who is Szeliga? Since the appearance of the critical Literatur-Zeitung (see Die heilige Familie, etc.) this question has been put by everyone who has followed the development of German philosophy. Who is Szeliga? Everyone asks, everyone listens attentively when he hears the barbaric sound of this name — but no one replies.
Who is Szeliga? Saint Max gives us the key to this “secret of secrets”.
Szeliga is Stirner as a creation, Stirner is Szeliga as creator. Stirner is the “I”, Szeliga the “you”, in “the book”. Hence Stirner, the creator, behaves towards Szeliga, his creation, as towards his “most irreconcilable enemy”. As soon as Szeliga wishes to acquire independence in relation to Stirner — he a made a hapless attempt in this direction in the Norddeutsche Blätter — Saint Max “takes him back into himself”, an experiment which was carried out against this attempt of Szeliga’s on pages 176-79 of the “Apologetic Commentary” in Wigand. The struggle of the creator against the creation, of Stirner against Szeliga, is, however, only a seeming one: [Now] Szeliga advances against his creator the phrases of this [creator himself] — for example, the assertion “that [the mere,] bare body is [absence of] thought” (Wigand, p. 148). Saint [Max,] as we have seen, [was thinking] only of [the bare flesh], the body before its [formation], and in [this connection] he gave the body the [determination] of being “the other of thought”, non-thought and the non-thinking being, hence absence of thought; and indeed in a later passage he bluntly declares that only absence of thought (as previously only the flesh — thus the two concepts are treated as identical) saves him from thoughts (p. 196).
We find a still more striking proof of this mysterious connection in Wigand, We have already seen on page 7 of “the book” that the “ego”, i.e., Stirner, is “the unique”. On page 153 of the “Commentary” he addresses his “you": “You......... are the content of the phrase”,. viz., the content of the “unique”, and on the same page it is stated: “he overlooks the fact that he himself, Szeliga, is the content of the phrase”. “The unique” is a phrase, as Saint Max says in so many words. Considered as the “ego”, i.e., as creator, he is the owner of the phrase — this is Saint Max. Considered as “you”, i.e., as creation, he is the content of the phrase — this is Szeliga, as we have just been told. Szeliga the creation appears as a selfless egoist, as a degenerate Don Quixote; Stirner the creator appears as an egoist in the ordinary sense, as Saint Sancho Panza.
Here, therefore, the other aspect of the antithesis of creator and creation makes its appearance, each of the two aspects containing its opposite in itself. Here Sancho Panza Stirner, the egoist in the ordinary sense, is victorious over Don Quixote Szeliga, the selfless and illusory egoist, is victorious over him precisely as Don Quixote by his faith in the world domination of the holy. Who indeed was Stirner’s egoist in the [ordinary] sense if not Sancho [Panza,] and who his self-sacrificing egoist [if not] Don Quixote, and what was [their mutual] relation in the [form in which it has so far existed if] not the relation of [Sancho Panza Stirner] to Don Quixote [Szeliga? Now as] Sancho Panza [Stirner belongs to himself as] Sancho only [in order to make Szeliga as] Don Quixote [believe that] he surpasses him in Don [quixotry] and [in accordance with this role, as] the presupposed universal Don [quixotry,] he takes [no steps] against the [Don quixotry of his] former master (Don quixotry, by which he swears with all the firm faith of a servant), and at the same time he displays the cunning already described by Cervantes. In actual content he is, therefore, the defender of the practical petty bourgeois, but he combats the consciousness that corresponds to the petty bourgeois, a consciousness which in the final analysis reduces itself to the idealising ideas of the petty bourgeois about the bourgeoisie to whom he cannot attain.
Thus, Don Quixote now, as Szeliga, performs mental services for his former armour-bearer.
How greatly Sancho in his new “transformation” has retained his old habits, he shows on every page. “Swallowing” and “consuming” still constitute one of his chief qualities, his “natural timidity” has still such mastery over him that the King of Prussia and Prince Heinrich LXXII become transformed for him into the “Emperor of China” or the “Sultan” and he ventures to speak only about the “G[erman] chambers”; he still strews around him proverbs and moral sayings from his knapsack, he continues to be afraid of “spectres” and even asserts that they alone are to be feared; the only difference is that whereas Sancho in his unholiness was bamboozled by the peasants in the tavern, now in a state of saintliness he continually bamboozles himself.
But let us return to Szeliga. Who has not long ago discovered the hand of Szeliga in all the “phrases” which Saint Sancho put into the mouth of his “you"? And it is always possible to discover traces of Szeliga not only in the phrases of this “you”, but also in the phrases in which Szeliga appears as creator, i.e., as Stirner. But because Szeliga is a creation, he could only figure in Die heilige Familie as a “mystery”. The revelation of this mystery was the task of Stirner the creator. Me surmised, of course, that some great, holy adventure was at the root of this. Nor were we deceived. The unique adventure really has never been seen or heard of and surpasses the adventure with the fulling mills in Cervantes’ twentieth chapter.