An Egoist Critique of ‘‘The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything
Let us look at how the book, ‘‘The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything’’ depicts Dialectical Egoism. For some reason or another, this book is hailed by post-leftist circles and also by leftist circles, but this book is the anti-stirnerite per excallance under a false analysis.
The book starts out by making two contradictory statemenets from the get go:
Greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society.
The present forms of greed lose out, in the end, because they turn out to be not greedy enough.’’
First and foremost Greed is not in it’s fullness in communist society, but at its most lowest. Secondly it claims that the old forms of greed lose out when they are not ‘‘Greedy enough’’ — this claim seems to be correct until it is coupled with statement 1. The book tries to explain how the Narrow Egoism of Max Stirner is a weak egoism when compared to ‘‘communist egoism’’ — because Stirner’s egoism takes into account only my quantity of ‘‘egoism’’ — while in communist society, egoism is quantitavely much larger in scope, because all of ‘‘society’’ is egoist. So therefore the book dialectically argues that the ‘‘weaker Stirner’s egoism’’ will lose out in the end because it is not as greedy as communist egoism — a society where people are so egoists that they demand a stateless, classless and moneyless society where the surplus value of labour is retained and all members of society enjoy the fruits of labour according to their need.
My private egoism is weaker than collective egoism, therefore collective egoism is stronger and wins over my individual private egoism is the argument in a nut shell. But this is an ignorant argument for two main reasons
First reason: ‘‘I can make the claim that anything is stronger in collective form — for instance I can claim that christanity out of a wish to ‘‘enjoy heaven’’ is a much stronger form of egoism than my private egoism’’ — The argument this book makes does not solely exist for ‘‘communism’’ but can literally apply for any ideology in existence, therefore the argument makes no sense.
Second Reason: ‘‘Communist egoism is not the highest form of egoism, because an egoism that demands of me to resign myself and become an addict of society, like a junkie who always wants a fix from ‘‘communist society’’ according to my need is certainly not the most liberatory form of egoism. The egoism that is most liberatory has no ‘ ‘highest form’’ — there isn’t a stage where the egoist stops and thinks and says ‘‘That’s as far as I can liberate myself’’ — because the egoist will always liberate himself as far as he possibly can, until death. Therefore, the book has a misconception of egoism and tries to explain it in ‘‘communist terms’’ — while communism has a ‘‘final historical stage’’ — egoism has no such ‘‘final stage’’ as long as individuals or lifeforms survive in this universe.
The essays in this book in particular seem to confuse Stirner’s Egoism with ‘‘blatant egoism’’ or rather ‘‘Greed and selfishness’’ — this is an incorrect approach to Stirner, — Egoists aren’t just selfish people who want to increase our selfishness, the primary point of egoism is to ‘‘free oneself’’ from any fetter and chain by being unique and in so doing, it therefore follows as a secondary determined factor, that one be ‘‘selfish and egotistic’’ — Selfishness itself is a secondary notion of Stirner’s egoism that is determined by one’s wish to acknowledge himself as the unique one and to free onself from all chains of oppression. This book seems to deny that analysis and instead simply analysis it from the point of view of ‘‘greed’’ in the most obscene and bourgeois manner. The book claims that Narrow egoism shall be transformed into communist egoism through the ‘‘socialization of greed and selfishness’’ — but a selfish society is necessarily a capitalist society, I as an individual can be selfish and still not be capitalist, but a society that is selfish is necessarily a capitalist one, not a communist one. Communist society is altruisitic, even though it’s people may be selfish to a certain extent. The Egoist world on the otherhand is characterized by the fact that it is a non-society, but a temporary union.
The book in general analyses things upside down:
Egoism as precursor to communism, Greed is socialized, Communism fulfills the Egoist.
In reality, its the other way round,
communism is a precursor to egoism, Altruism in communism is socialized as a negation of capitalist egotism and communism in turn oppresses the egoist and suppresses him. The Idler and the egoist develop as contradictions to communist society itself. It makes more sense for altruism to develop as a contradiction to bourgeois egotism — that it makes sense for expanded egoism to develop as a contradiction to narrow egoism.
In it’s analysis of Dialectical Egoism, the book claims the following,
‘‘Communism is not the self-repression of egoism. It is only when narrow egoism wants to transcend itself for its own deepest reasons: when it finds internal reasons, egoistic reasons; when it sees itself becoming its own ruin, defeating to itself, self-defeating, and — therefore, self-contradictory — that it brings itself to its own end, and communism begins. Private egoism historically is its own undoing. Its exercise brings about its own socialization — social egoism. Communism is the negation of egoism only by virtue of being a higher form of egoism — egoism’s own higher form. Narrow egoism, the ideology of self-gratification and self-realization, and the practice of exclusive self-gratification and self-realization becomes, at a certain stage in its development, a fetter upon self-realization and a fetter upon selfgratification. It becomes the main limit and obstacle to its own goals. It becomes a barrier to itself. This is the self-negativity which awakens in it the desire for its own transcendance: for self-transcendance, a supersession in accord with itself, with its own essence, and on its own terms, basing itself on the possibility of the community of gratification as the unlimited amplification of gratification. This is the immanent self-critique of narrow egoism; the death sentence which it pronounces upon itself. Thus the determinate negation of narrow egoism can only be through its own organic development, its own further development. That is, it can only be self-negation. “Happiness” at the expense of others; the exclusion of the others’ happiness from your own henceforth appears as a miserable basis; as the opposite of happiness, as misery, and private property as a wealth of poverty, compared to the new basis which has grown up secretly with modern society itself.
Communism is the comprehension of exclusive egoism as historically self-contradictory and thus finite: doomed to perish — as not eternal “human nature” but, on the contrary, self-canceling; transitory; transitional; as the decidedly unnatural (antisocial) condition of man prior to the historical self-completion of the human species. Communism is the comprehension of bourgeois egoism as already containing and implying its own historical negation, as containing its own negation in embryo — containing the seeds of its own destruction — by virtue of its being false to itself. Society, “socialism” — and social production — was its repressed essence all along. — (The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything)
Within this large quotation, a quote in particular stood out, the ‘‘Communism is the negation of egoism only by virtue of being a higher form of egoism — egoism’s own higher form’’ — Notice dear reader, how these writers in order to denounce personal egoism of the individual had to abstract egoism itself. This is what Stirner critiqued as Ficthe’ Collective ego. They are correct when they say that egoism is the negation of communism, but in order to suit their own ‘‘communistic agenda’’ — they had to add the line ‘‘only by virtue of being a higher form of egoism’’ — these ‘‘Marxists’’ have metaphysically abstracted the individual ego in communism and transposed it into the collective ego — and then they proceed to call this collective ego, the ‘‘Highest form of egoism’’ that is possible. This is incorrect on many levels, because it involves the philosophical device of abstracting the individual ego into collectivism, and when that happens, the ego no longer exists. Therefore there is nothing ‘‘egoist’’ about this sentence, and there is abstraction of the ego in the name of communism. This is metaphysics, something which both Marxists and Egoists are both enemies off. In simple words, the authors of this spooked books are neither egoists, neither are they Marxists, they are merely Metaphysicians of the highest caliber that are trying to unite Stirner with Marx. This represents the main problem with this book, that they recognize that Egoism is the negation of communism. In order to solve this problem, they turn to the tools of metaphysics, they ‘‘abstract’’ the individual ego and place it inside a spooked essence we call society and then they give it a new name, and they call it ‘‘societial, collective, communistic egoism’’ — but this is not egoism — because egoism is an enemy of abstractions and spooks to begin with. If an individual recognizes the existence of abstractions and spooks, he is not an egoist. These so-called ‘‘Egoist Communists’’ — not only recognize the existence of spooks, but they are trying to spookify the individual concrete ego itself into a collective ego of the masses. These are not the disciples of Stirner’s transitionary ego, but they are disciples of what Stirner critiqued as the ‘‘Absolute Ego’’ — because they believe that in communism, the masses will always be satisfied in their egoism, however their egoism is restricted by the permanancy and absoluteness of a communist society. Therefore their egoism is not ever-changing and self-dissolving, it is not transitionary, rather it is metaphysically fixed and itnertwined with a communistic society. Therefore the authors of this book are speaking of an abstracted ‘‘Social Ego’’ that is absolute — not of my ego as an individual.
‘‘When Fichte says, “The ego is all,” this seems to harmonize perfectly with my thesis. But it is not that the ego is all, but the ego destroys all, and only the self-dissolving ego, the never-being ego, the — finite ego is really I. Fichte speaks of the “absolute” ego, but I speak of me, the transitory ego.’’ — Max Stirner
Another quotation is this, ‘‘People have always supposed that they must give me a destiny lying outside myself, so that at last they demanded that I should lay claim to the human because I am — man. This is the Christian magic circle. Fichte’s ego too is the same essence outside me, for every one is ego; and, if only this ego has rights, then it is “the ego,” it is not I. But I am not an ego along with other egos, but the sole ego: I am unique.’’ — This quotation by Stirner, outright denies this book ‘‘The Right to be Greedy’’ — because this book in particular is also part of the Christian Magic Circle like Fichte’s ego that places an essence outside of me, that essence they call the ‘‘Communist social Ego’’ — that essence that is placed outside of my corporeal body is called an ‘‘abstraction, mystifying spook’’ — the authors of this book focuses on the ‘‘ego alongside other egos’’ — this is an absolute ego that is an essence abstraction outside of me, therefore it is not my ego. Therefore the people in celebration of Fichte’s ego are as much as spooked as Christians are, as much as spooked as feuerbach replaced divinity with humanity. Fichte would replace humanity with an ‘‘absolute ego’’ outside of myself — but this is merely name and label ‘‘changing’’ — because both humanity and the absolute ego have the same qualities of being an essence outside of myself. Only Stirner destroys the spook, by seeing himself as a transitionary individual ego that is indeed himself not something outside of him.
Secondly it claims that communism is not the repression of egoism. I must first clarify, that egoism has always been repressed by social systems, whether feudalism, whether capitalism and even communism. Dialectically this book observes ‘‘Egoism’’ as the phenemonology of the subjective within historical development. The book treats egoism as a precursor to ‘‘communism’’ as a precursor to the transcendentalism to the phenemonological development of objectivity in history. It is rather the other way round, communism is a precursor to egoism and the phenemonology of objectivity is a precursor to the phenemonology of subjectivity. This can be simply verified through philosophical historical events themselves, whilst Hegel was an ‘‘objectivist’’ and within the early Hegelians we observe the historical development of objectivity, we observe that this acted as precuros to the historical development of subjectivity that we find later on in Kierkegaard and Stirner. The Egoist can never ‘‘Transcend’’ himself, because the ego is all there can possibly ‘‘Be’’ — the unique cannot transcend himself beyond what he is, he can only acquire the power he already has. Everything the egoist accomplishes in future times, is not because of a new power which he has achieved by ‘‘transcending himself’’ but through a power that was always buried within himself from the beginning. There’s no such thing as a ‘‘narrow or a larger egoism’’ — because the egoist is always fully egoist, not a little bit egoist now, and more egoist later. I always remember Stirner’s quote in cases like these:
‘‘We are perfect altogether! For we are, every moment, all that we can be; and we never need be more.’’
Another quotation I remember, regarding the inability to transcend oneself is specifically this by Stirner,
‘If you are bound to your past hour, if you must babble to-day because you babbled yesterday, if you can not transform yourself each instant, you feel yourself fettered in slavery and benumbed. Therefore over each minute of your existence a fresh minute of the future beckons to you, and, developing yourself, you get away “from yourself,” — i. e. from the self that was at that moment. As you are at each instant, you are your own creature, and in this very “creature” you do not wish to lose yourself, the creator.”
This is the paradox of Stirner’s dialectics, we are namely contradictory individuals, on one hand we are our own creature, on the other hand we are the creator of our own creature. It is true that we are dialectically transformed from creature to creator and vice versa — this is the ‘‘egoist dialectical law’’ — if we want to use a technical term. However Stirner does not call the transformation from creature to creator a ‘‘progress’’ or an ‘‘improvement’’ or a ‘‘transcendence’’ — because even if we are transformed into a creator, we have not transcended over the fact that we shall find ourself as ‘‘creatures’’ — if we do not transform ourselves we feel enslaved and fettered, because we remain a creature, meanwhile, in our being a creature we do not want to lose ourselves the creator. Why is this a paradox? — Because creature and creator are both contradictiory elements within the individual that are not reconciled through the dialectical process of the unity of opposites. This is the essence of Stirner as a paradoxician in dialectical fashion, but books like these ‘‘The Right To Be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything’’ change Stirner’s dialectics in herectical fashion. From the paradox of Stirner’s dialectics, it instead focuses on a ‘‘marxified’’ dialectics of egoism, that only focuses not on the individual’s egoist development, but on the transformation from ‘‘Narrow Egoism’’ — into ‘‘social egoism’’ — this ‘‘social egoism’’ is as much a spook as ‘‘social altruism’’ because it is a ‘‘generality, an absolute ideal’’ — and even if such a thing as social egoism existed, it would still be in the form of ‘‘individualist narrow private egoism’’ — because only individuals can be egoists, societies do not have hearts and minds that can express themselves, we can say that a society is ‘‘egotistic’’ in it’s economic framework, but we cannot say that society is a functioning egoist, or a functioning individual, because society is an ideal all the spookmongrels of the world aspire towards as an absolute.
But let us suppose there is such a thing as a ‘‘narrow egoism’’ — that there is such a thing as the narrow viewpoint of ‘‘My Egoism’’ as an individual, does this imply that my private egoism shall meet its own undoing?
The book claims that communism is a much higher form of egoism that has done away with ‘‘private egoism’’ — but what the author of the book does not understand is that the private egoism he’s refering too, is the private egoism in bourgeois society, the egoism in communism is a different variant of egoism — however by no means is the ‘‘egoism’’ in communism the highest version of egoism. Namely there are two forms of egoism:
‘‘The Narrow Egoism within bourgeois society’’ is not egoism persay but rather ‘‘egotism’’
Second Form: ‘‘Communist society destroys only ‘‘bourgeois egotism’’ — these are the ‘‘social egoists’’. Social egoism stands as a negation to bourgeois egotism
Third Form: ‘‘The egoism of the unique one that is the negation of the ‘‘social egoism’’ of communism.
Clarification: ‘‘The Egoism of the unique one can exist at any moment in history, but it shows itself most clearly in contradiction and negation with the social egoism of communist society.’’
Does narrow egoism bring about its own death dialectically? — This essay seems to think so when it says that the egoist in communist society shall ‘‘negate himself’’ — Even if this is true, that the egoist shall negate himself, then it follows, that egoism shall form oncemore when it meets with the contradiction of the self that negates the ‘‘non-self’’ — Perhaps the author does not understand egoism at all, — How does the author maintain that these ‘‘social egoists’’ still exists, while also maintaining in the same breathe that the egoist shall ‘‘negate himself’’ — clearly this would imply the death of the egoist, not the fulfillment of egoism as the essay has claimed. Even if these social egoists existed, one can still maintain that the most advanced egoist is the egoist who is not a ‘‘social one’’ but an ‘‘anti-social’’ egoist that socializes only when he has too in the form of a union of egoists, or perhaps if he so wishes, never in his life decides to socialize.
The egoism of communist society is the egoism of ‘‘society’’ — it is not my egoism, but rather the egoism of a society at large. Whenever this society has a certain egoism which differs from mine, the society will prioritize itself over my interests, and thus the egoism of society triumphs over my egoism. How can this possibly be the most pure form of egoism, if at a moment’s notice it will demand of its members to sacrifice their egoism, for the egoism of society at large?
The book doesn’t reconcile contradictions at all, rather it adds unto more contradictions that make no sense, such as the concept of the ‘‘social egoist’’ or ‘‘social individual’’ — the idea that society cannot exist without the individual and vice versa, — this of course I also believe to be incorrect, The book claims that,
‘‘Society, without the individual, is empty, is without its existence, just as the individual, without society, is without its existence — and even outside human society, is not a human individual (even if it should chance to survive as a biological individual. However, even as such, it is the issue of a human social — in this case, sexual — relationship). Unless both these moments can be affirmed simultaneously, univocally; grasped as a single, unitary concept — in fact as a conceptual singularity — their contradiction having been transcended (to begin with, in thought), then neither “the individual” nor “society” has been understood.’’
This is indeed correct, society without the individual is empty and barren, however, the individual does not recquire society. Society needs the individual but the individual does not necessarily need society. There can be such an individual that lives alone for eternity, but there can never be a society that exists without the individual. When I say ‘‘society’’ — I am refering to the permanancy of society, — for instance the feudal, capitalist and communist society try to preserve and conserve their existence. The Union of egoists however doesn’t fall under the criteria of a society, because ‘‘every society’’ tries to preserve its relations, meanwhile the Union of Egoists is the opposite, it is merely a necessity of temporary relations, but the Union of Egoists is hell-bent on the quick destruction of these relations as soon as finished, as soon as the bargain between different egos has been struck, as soon as what they had to do is finished, the union of egoist is disbanded immediately. The Union of Egoists is therefore the antithesis of the opposite of society, because unlike society that is always protecting itself and its relations, the union of egoists after building up its’s relations to get a certain deed finished, is interested in destroying it’s relations.
The book goes on with the idea, when it says,
‘‘Dig deeply enough into the individual and you will find society. Dig deeply enough into society and you will find the individual. Dig deeply enough into either and you will come out the “other” side. The concept named “the individual,” fully grasped, is the same as the concept named “society.” The concept named “society,” fully grasped, is also “the individual.” One is impossible, does not exist, without the other. At the heart of society is its “opposite,” the individual. At the center of the individual is his “antithesis,” society. We must speak of the social individual. Both of the abstract universals, “society” and “the individual” find their concrete universal in the social individual.’’
One one hand it says the individual and society are one concept, on the other hand it says that the individual is the opposite of society and vice versa. Two contradictory statements at one go, with no sort of dialectical solution. These contradictory statements cannot possibly be reconciled.
Again it is incorrect, when it treats the individual and society as two sides of the same coin and more worse as the same ‘‘concept’’ — While it is true that the individual and society are contradictory to one another, there can be no such permanent synthesis, the only synthesis there is a transitionary one — in a union of egoists — this however is not a synthesis, because it not ‘‘permanent’’ — rather it is transitionary like ice and steam — Imagine for a moment, that the union of egoists was ‘‘Ice’’ — bonded matter together, forming their own society of egoists, but when it comes time to go their sepearate ways, the particles or the ‘‘egoists’’ want to live a life apart again, they want to become like ‘‘steam’’ — particles not close to one another, but far apart. The Union of egoists is as scientific as the ‘‘states of matter’’ themselves in physics, like bonded particles and particles in disunion after an action that breaks them apart. Unlike Marx’s so called ‘‘science’’ — we the egoists actually seek to live our ‘‘science’’, we become like the particles in physics. We ‘‘join up’’ in an ice-cold union, then break off again in the freedom of the steam. While I Jest in comparing the Union of Egoists to particles in Ice and Steam, I am also serious about this comparison because it helps the reader understand that egoists too believe in the dialectics of qualitative transformation through quantity and vice versa.
The book also claims that ‘‘individuals produce societies and societies produce individuals’’ — again a half-correct statement, individuals do indeed produce societies, but it makes no sense to claim that society produce individuals — this is an ignorant statement, because of the ‘‘Chicken and the Egg Problem’’ — Which came first, the ‘‘Chicken or the Egg?’’ — Who produced whom first, was it society that first produced individuals or was it individuals who first produced society, and if for instance, individuals produce societies, it would imply that individuals already exist, up to which point it wouldn’t be possible for societies to produce individuals if they already exist in the first place. Bruce Gardner and the San Francisco Bay Area pro-situationist group ‘‘For Ourselves’’ that wrote this book must have been a little drunk when they wrote this, but everyone makes slight mistakes, even I, and therefore we’ll just brush this off under the rug for one moment and focus on more important concerns specifically on the title itself of the book, ‘‘The Right to be Greedy’’ — it already shits on Stirner’s name by having the word ‘‘Right’’ as the main title of the book, already it shows the spooked synthesis this book has cooked up between the contradictions of communism and egoism. Egoism has always been about ‘‘Might’’ and not ‘‘Right’’ — the negation of ‘‘Might’’ is the existence of ‘‘Rights’’ — for it is those without Might that engage with Right and they do so ironically with the force of Might, but because they feel threathened to use the force of might against a force they know they might not win, they use the force of Rights.
The unique one doesn’t want communist egoism, he wants everything for himself, and he’s willing and ready to make communist egoism itself his property. I am the owner, the master of my might, through property am I my power, through my power am I myself. If this power, and this power is shared upon communally, then it is not my power, it is not my property, it is not I, but it is society and its monopoly of power, over that which I no longer have and no longer can its master be.
The essay also claims the following regarding dialectical egoism,
‘‘The actual negation of narrow egoism is a matter of transcendance (“aufhebung”
n3), of the transition from a narrow to a qualitatively expanded form of egoism. The original self-expansion of egoism was identically the demise of the primitive community. But its further self-expansion will resolve itself into a community once again. It is only when greed itself at last (or rather, once again) beckons in the direction of community that that direction will be taken. Here the ancient Christian truth that no earthly force can withstand human greed rejoins us on our side of the barricades.’’ — One of the first errors is the word ‘‘transcendance’’ in trying to explain Egoist matters — it rekindles me with a deep desire to bleach my eyes from this Kantian bullcrap. This quotation in particular uses the law of dialectics called, ‘‘The law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa’’ — which is an accurate dialectical law, however it is applied in a false manner. According to this argument, Narrow Egoism is transformed into ‘‘An expansive egoism’’ in communism through the ‘‘influx increase of egoists’’ in communist society. The argument therefore threats egoism as precursor to communism — but this is incorrect — I can make other arguments in the same manner and it would still make sense — my christian example for instance. I can say the following, ‘‘That the Narrow Egoism of Judaistic sects would be transformed into the the ‘‘expanded egoism’’ of christanity who sought no longer to remain a sect, but to preach the gospel to all earths, because the more souls they saved, the more guarauntee they had, they could attain Heaven’’ — Does this therefore imply that Christanity is the most advanced form of egoism? How can this be so if Christanity demands of me to sacrifice my life to it’s traditions and way of life? and in the same manner, how can I freely be the most ‘‘free’’ egoist, if communism demands of me to live always in accorandance to the communist way of life and the ‘‘communist mode of production’’
It also does another error — that of claiming that narrow egoism will bring about its own socialization. How is this possible? How can my egoism, my desires, my uniqueness be socialized into society at large, and if this occurs, that my essence as the unique one is given to ‘‘all’’ — than rather than remain ‘‘unique’’ — I will cease to be unique and therefore become the ‘‘same’’ in communal essence as everybody else — therefore this ‘‘communist egoism’’ is not egoism at all, but a subtle communist critique of egoism. It is simply impossible for my unique essence, for my desires to become ‘‘communal’’ and socialized by society. The productive forces can be socialized as the means of production, but the unique one and one’s own egoism can never be socialized — one cannot even begin to make comparison between the means of production and the unique one — they are seperate things — but for the sake of the argument if communists socialize the means of production — they become masters over the means of production, in the same manner if egoism is socialized under communism — then communists become masters over egoism, and as masters they will suppress egoism, rather than fulfill it. They are not masters of themselves as the egoists are, rather they are masters over egoism and in so being masters over egoism, they repress their own egoism because of communism.
If Communism is the master of egoism just as he is the master of the means of production? Then how can we possibly call the egoist ‘‘free’’ ? This book clearly illustrates one reality — that the egoist is suppressed under communism and he is developing as a contradiction and a negation of communism that will eventually in itself overthrow communism and replace it with an egoist world.
The authors of the book namely the ‘‘For Ourselves: Council for Generalized Self-Management’’ are therefore not egoists in the proper sense of the word. I shall describe them as ‘‘The Worst Kind of Utopian Egoists’’ — because they reject Stirner’s class struggle between Idlers and Labourers and they are even far worse than that, because they also reject the individual ego and replace it with a social one. In other words, they reject the fact that ‘‘Egoism is the negation of Communism’’ — instead they state the opposite, that communism is the negation to egoism and furthermore they resort to metaphysical abstractions in order to suit their agenda.