Alexander Hope

Before we explain the Method, I’m calling ‘‘Dialectical Egoism or Paradoxical Egoism’’ we shall first critique the philosophical method that is in contradiction with the dialectics itself that prides itself on motion.

The method that goes against the concept of ‘‘Motion’’ is specifically known as the method of ‘‘Metaphysics’’ that in contradiction with dialectics is always static, immobile and at rest. Numerous medieval theologians and Ancient Greek Philosophers were metaphysicians in that they believed in certain ‘‘absolute never-changing truths’’, while the dialecticians on the other hand, believed that truth itself is always in motion, and therefore always changing. Throughout this section, I will explain how the contradiction or the antithesis of metaphysics is indeed dialectical materialism, but on the other hand, the synthesis of the two, is precisely ‘‘paradox’’. We shall review the work of the Marxist, Georges Politzer in his ‘‘Elementary Principles of Philosophy’’ — Why have I picked this text? — Because the text and the author both represent the orthodox Marxist view, and unlike other Marxist books, this work by Politzer, highlights the core aspects of Marxism, including Marxism’s critique of Metaphysics.

The metaphysician is an idealist — an idealist is a person that views the external world as by product of his mind’s perception, ‘‘The world exists, because I perceive it, if I perceive it not, the world does not exist’’ — meanwhile the antithesis to the idealist, is the materialist who opposing the idealist believes that the mind is a byproduct of the evolution of the external world. ‘‘The Mind exists because the external world exists independently of the mind’’. The dialectics is both a method that can be used by idealists and materialists, Hegel as an idealist used the dialectics, and Max Stirner as a materialist also used the dialectic. The definition of Metaphysics comes from Greek, Meta means ‘‘Beyond’’ and physics is obviously referring to physics, therefore Metaphysics, is defined as ‘‘Beyond Physics’’.

According to Politzer, there are certain laws to the metaphysics doctrine of science which is in contradiction to dialectical science.

These laws are the following:

(1) First characteristic: The principle of identity

(2) Second characteristic: The isolation of things

(3) Third characteristic: Eternal and impassible divisions

(4) Fourth characteristic: Opposites are mutually exclusive

The first characteristic is the principle of identity where Metaphysics has an idealist outlook on the world, because it looks at the world as unchanging. It views ‘‘Motion’’ as something that emerges out of ‘‘rest’’ — the metaphysician will claim: ‘‘There can be no Motion without Rest’’ to which the materialist will reply, ‘‘There can also be no rest if there is no motion because motion is required for material beings and things to exist, and for the universe to exist in the first place’’ — the metaphysician has a preference for things at ‘‘rest’’ — for things that are immobile. We as human beings even have a metaphysical outlook on life, for example, I bought a pair of red shoes, and after a year of wearing those same shoes, I always think that they are the same shoes that they were from the moment I bought them, but of course the shoes over the course of time have changed, and gotten dirty, perhaps even succumbed to wear & tear. When we use the word ‘‘Motion’’, we mean motion in the strictest sense of the word, for example a falling pebble or a moving train, we therefore mean ‘‘displacement’’ — everything is in motion according to materialist analysis, while for the metaphysician everything has an immobile quality, the earth may revolve around the sun according to the metaphysician, but the earth itself remains the same, the seasons merely repeat themselves over and over again, ‘‘the thing that was, will repeat itself’’ — there is no historical successor to the past, there is no ‘‘history’’ — merely the recycling of the same conditions. According to metaphysicians therefore, the conditions of capitalism will merely reproduce themselves in such a way that capitalism will last forever, because the conditions of capitalism are ‘‘eternal and unchanging’’ — on the other hand the materialist will argue that capitalism will bring about the conditions necessary for its own destruction, because capitalism is in a state of constant change towards socialism. Therefore, metaphysicians consider the universe as unchanging, as the ‘‘same’’ as it was two thousand years ago, or a million years ago, therefore the first characteristic of the metaphysical method is this ‘‘sameness’’ or that the earth merely retains the same conditions of the past, and therefore implies that the material conditions of yesterday are ‘‘identical’’ to the conditions today — as if no change has occurred over the span of a day.

Many Marxists today consider egoism to be idealist and metaphysical, however most of the time, this is merely a false accusation without any research or investigation. Through my research of Politzer’s Marxist analysis of the main principles of Metaphysics, we are now going to investigate whether Stirner’s Egoist philosophy is indeed metaphysical idealist or just as dialectical materialist as Marxism itself.

First and foremost, Does Egoism consider the universe to be the ‘‘same’’ like the first principles of identity in metaphysics? — The answer is ‘‘No’’ — because Stirner’s work highlights how every material substance is ‘‘Unique’’ and this uniqueness is always transforming itself. Therefore, for egoists, nothing every stays the ‘‘same’’ — nothing is ‘‘identical’’ — on the other hand however the Marxists sees the proletariat’s desire as ‘‘identical’’ and the mere fact that all proletarians have ‘‘identical conditions of life’’ and therefore ‘‘identical conditions for liberation from the bourgeoisie’’ — already contradicts Marxism’s own critique against metaphysics. This is why Stirner is the ultimate materialist and why Marx is merely a metaphysician in disguise of a materialist. For Stirner, our desires are not identical and our conditions as ‘‘unique’’ people is not identical. Each of us has different conditions, because each of us is unique, regardless of whether we belong to that class or another. Stirner does not deny however the working class aspect of the proletariat, in fact he acknowledges that we have ‘‘common conditions’’ in so far as we are part of a social class, for instance, when he remarks the following, ‘‘The labourers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, if they once became thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing would withstand them;’’[1] — which implies that Stirner acknowledges the fact that we are proletarians with common conditions, however what makes us individuals is not the fact that we ‘‘labor’’ — but the fact that we are ‘‘unique’’. Yes, we are proletarians, but in reality we are so much more.

The principle of identity of Metaphysics sees the world as a fossil. As Engels says ‘‘the world is considered to be ossified, says Engels. The same is true for nature, society and man. So it is often claimed that “there is nothing new under the sun,” which means that there has never been any change, that the universe has remained immobile and identical. This phrase can equally signify a periodical return to the same events. God created the world by producing fishes, birds, mammals, etc., and since then nothing has changed, the world has not budged. It is also said, “Men are always the same,” as if men had never changed.’’ — of course the egoists doesn’t believe that humans have a ‘‘permanent’’ human nature but that our nature is transitionary and always in motion. What about ‘‘egoism’’ itself? Does Stirner claim that mankind is always egoistic? Perhaps this is true, but Stirner also claims that the mode in which every person displays his egoism is always in a unique manner. There is no such thing as an ‘‘absolute egoism’’ for the entirerty of Mankind, Stirner would claim, rather there are different forms of egoism specific to the individual, for instance one may be selfish and the other may be an altruist communist, but even the altruist communist according to Stirner would be altruist because of his selfish desire to be so. Therefore, Egoists unlike metaphysics don’t claim that there is a universal mode of behavior that is absolute, like capitalists who claim that every human being is selfish in the same identical manner, rather egoists claim that both altruists and egoists are selfish in unique manner, and to an extension everyone’s mode of human behavior is unique to themselves. Stirner’s Egoism therefore passes the first test. On the other hand the Communists maintain that once communism is achieved, it will be the last phase of society with no possible way of changing, they therefore claim that once communism is achieved, it will remain ‘‘communist’’ — it will not change, any changes that occur are merely natural, but the communist system will be eternal. It is funny how when the communists are not in power, they claim that capitalist metaphysician who claim that capitalism is eternal is ‘‘idealist’’- yet when they come into power, they merely adopt a metaphysical outlook on the world and claim that communist society cannot change, it will remain the same and merely reproduce itself. Although the Marxists like Politzer critique metaphysics, they only critique it in so far as they are not in power, once they are in power, they will themselves become the crudest of metaphysicians. In other words, Communists have not entirerly done away with ‘‘Metaphysics’’ — but it takes the egoists to truly do away with spooky metaphysics. What about the Egoist society? Will Egoist society be transformed or will it become ‘‘fixed’’ once egoists are in power? — First and foremost, Egoism has no ‘‘society’’ — what we refer to as ‘‘society’’ is merely the physical relations among egoists. Does Egoist society change? — The answer is simple, ‘‘Yes it does’’ — but the more it changes, the more egoists it becomes, and the more unique it becomes. Meanwhile when communist society changes, the more it strays away from communism and the more it advances towards egoism. Communism and Capitalism are enemies of change, they are metaphysical philosophies. Capitalism is antagonistic to Change, Communists on the other hand are in a half-way road to correct dialectics, although they praise change, once they achieve change, they will become static and fixed. Egoists on the other hand accomplishes what communism couldn’t, because egoism is always changing, and we are friends of change. When Capitalism changes, society strays further away from capitalism, when communist society changes, it also strays away from communism. When egoism changes, the more egoist it becomes.

According to the Marxists Politzer, ‘‘The old “metaphysical” way of thinking, which is applicable to all problems, is also a philosophical concept which considers the universe, man and nature in a very particular way. To the metaphysician, things and their mental images, ideas, are isolated, to be considered one after the other apart from each other, rigid, fixed objects of investigation given once for all. He thinks in absolutely discontinuous antitheses. His communication is: “Yea, yea, Nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” For him a thing either exists, or it does not exist; it is equally impossible for a thing to be itself and at the same time something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another; cause and effect stand in an equally rigid antithesis one to the other. (Engels, Anti-Dühring, pp. 27–28.) The metaphysical point of view, then, regards “the universe as a complex of fixed things.”[2] — Yet this is ironic, although the communists Engels and Politzer recognizes that the Metaphysician views the universe as a complex of fixed things, communist society itself is fixed, in that it cannot be nothing but communist and cannot change into another system according to Marxists. Therefore, the communist himself while defying metaphysics, also resorts to metaphysics in order to defend the existence of communist society, they have to resort to this kind of defense, because if they do not, they might give way for another society to replace communist society. That society we call ‘‘Egoism’’ — which is under constant change. Egoism is the nail to the coffin that is ‘‘metaphysics’’ — because egoism does not need protection, once egoism is achieved, the more it progresses and changes, the more unique it will become. When the unique changes, he remains unique, therefore egoist society undergoes ‘‘change’’ — but the unique itself does not ‘‘change’’ — this is how dialectics is transformed into ‘‘Egoist Paradox’’

The Marxist claims that there are three fundamental laws of the dialectic, ‘‘the law of the transformation of quantity into quality, and vice versa; the law of the interpenetration of opposites; and the law of the negation of the negation.’’ — Once I asked a Marxists a hard question, ‘‘If you claim that everything is in motion, and that nothing is fixed, and that saying that if a fixed outlook is necessarily metaphysical, then how come the laws of the dialectical method also don’t change with time? Are you willing to accept that the laws of Marxist dialectical materialism will one day be transformed into something else, such as dialectical egoism? Or do you claim that the dialectical method will remain static?’’ — The poor Marxists simply made up some nonsense, and resorted to a tantrum, mumbled some words underneath and met my question with cold silence. Like the Pharisees whom asked Jesus when he entered the temple ‘‘and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?” And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.” And answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” He also said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’’ — In the same manner, the Marxists couldn’t say that when we apply the dialectical method to the dialectical method itself, that the method remains fixed. If he claims that the dialectical method never changes, then he will be also saying that the dialectical method is a metaphysical tool, if on the other hand, he says that the dialectical method when applied to itself will change it’s own laws, — then he will have to agree, that the dialectics of Marxism is merely leading the way towards the dialectics of egoism. The Marxists like the Pharisees wants to crucify the insurrectionist egoist, the resurrected Christ. From the ashes of the ragamuffin, Christ was reborn and resurrected as the lord, likewise from the ragamuffinism of communism, the egoist shall shed away his ragamuffinhood and become the lord.

How is dialectical materialism transformed into dialectical egoism (Paradoxical egoism) — Through communism itself, when one achieves ownness, the egoist will become both creator and creature, and although these are contradictions which can live side by side in egoism. Dialectical materialism reconciled contradictions, while Paradoxical egoism reconciled contradictions while still maintaining them.

Let us now shift to the second principle of metaphysics, namely the isolation of things.

If we think for example in terms of animals by separating them into small sections and isolating them, for example, a ‘‘horse is a horse and a cow is a cow’’ — we would be isolating things unto themselves while ignoring the relations and the commonality between the cow and the horse. For instance, Politzer remarks how, ‘‘In common practice, we try to classify and isolate things, to see and study them for themselves. Those who are not Marxists see the State in general by isolating it from society, as if it were independent from the form of society. To reason in this way, by isolating the State from society, is to isolate it from its relations with reality.

The same mistake occurs when we speak of man while isolating him from other men, from his environment, from society.’’[3] Are egoists therefore metaphysician because they only focus on the ‘‘unique’’ and only focus on the ‘‘individual’’ and separate the individual from the state and society? — The answer is yet again ‘‘No’’ — for the simple reason that Max Stirner’s book is only called ‘‘Unique’’ — rather ‘‘The Unique and Its property’’ — the unique therefore in relation with its ‘‘Property’’ — and the property refers to every material object in the universe, including the self, which is the property of the unique. Therefore, egoism isn’t trying to separate society and the individual, rather it is trying to abolish the ‘‘permanence of society’’ or rather the importance given to society as a ‘‘higher essence’’ that is regarded as ‘‘more important than the individual’’. Therefore, what egoism does is transform, society into the property of the egoist. Max Stirner never analyzed the individual by himself, but analyzed the individual always in relation to property and the world that surrounds the egoist. Stirner remarks, ‘‘Who is this person that you call “All”? — It is “society”! — But is it corporeal, then? — We are its body! — You? Why, you are not a body yourselves — you, sir, are corporeal to be sure, you too, and you, but you all together are only bodies, not a body. Accordingly, the united society may indeed have bodies at its service, but no one body of its own. Like the “nation of the politicians, it will turn out to be nothing but a “spirit,” its body only semblance.’’[4] Therefore according to Stirner, Society is not corporeal, it is not material, for it is not a ‘‘physical body’’ — surely I am a body of flesh and blood, but all of society is not a singular body, but rather, ‘‘Many different unique corporeal bodies’’ — Stirner is very specific with his words, the society of Stirner differs from the society of communists. The Society of Stirner is composed of unique bodies all with relations to themselves, and the society of communists is a society of one singular body with limbs, hair and nails, and every single person makes part of the same ‘‘essence’’ — of the same singular body, therefore everyone is considered ‘‘equal’’ — everything is considered identical. This shows us how Communism itself although it criticizes metaphysics for considering everything in nature as ‘‘identical’’ — considers the progress of human beings in history as a singular process, everyone develops as a proletariat in the same identical matter. Isn’t then the communists themselves who have appropriated metaphysics themselves? And aren’t therefore the egoists who are truly the ones who are dialectical materialists and scientists?! For Egoists, Society is merely, my own being that relates to my surroundings, and my development of myself through the surroundings and vice versa the development of the surroundings because of my input. For the Communists, the world develops as one blob of identical essence, society evolves on itself.

Therefore, Egoism passes the second test. Egoism does not isolate the individual, but it only transforms the unique one as the highest essence, and everything else, whether society, religion, economy, nature itself becomes the property of the egoist. For the communist, the working class as a whole develops as a singular thing because of capitalism’s conditions, for the egoist, I develop according to what I appropriate. This is true of all cases, if I am a proletariat and I appropriate a wage, then I have developed as a unique as well. The law of quantity and quality explains this well — the more the egoists appropriates, the more he is developed. The history of all mankind is leading up to my triumph as the egoist who appropriates everything that exists. Little by little, classes appropriate things, under communism, everyone appropriates, and under egoism, only I appropriate the world as my own. There is a contradiction between ‘‘Everyone’’ and the antithesis that develops is ‘‘I’’ — In communism, everyone appropriates, in egoism, I appropriate. Others will have to go through me in order to appropriate what I own.

Let us no go, to the third principle of metaphysics, that of ‘‘Eternal and impassable divisions’’ — According to the principle, the metaphysician resorts to dividing things, for example ‘‘Rich and Poor’’ — Politzer uses this moment to defend Marxism from criticism, because he argues that even though Marxists divide people into categories, namely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, they do so in a class analysis manner, while the metaphysician simply divided them into ‘‘rich and poor’’ — this argument doesn’t defend Marxism well, but simply illustrates how like the Metaphysician, the Marxists also divides things. What about the Egoist? Does he divide things between poor and rich? — Surprisingly Egoism doesn’t divide anything, — even when Stirner refers to the involuntary and voluntary egoists, these are not divisions, because they remain nonetheless egoists. For the egoist, everyone is unique, and therefore there is no division between a non-unique and the unique. Egoism passes this test with flying colors, meanwhile Marxism slightly falters in the third principle of metaphysics as it also faltered in the first and second principle.

Let us now move on to the fourth principle of metaphysics, that of, ‘‘Opposites are mutually exclusive’’ — meaning that the metaphysician says that ‘‘opposites mutually exclude each other and which maintains that two opposite things cannot exist at the same time. Indeed, in the example of life and death, there can be no third possibility. We have to choose one or the other of the possibilities which we have singled out. We regard a third possibility as a contradiction and we consider this contradiction to be absurd and, hence impossible. The fourth characteristic of the metaphysical method is, therefore, the abhorrence of contradiction. The practical consequences of this line of reasoning can be seen, for example, when one speaks of democracy and dictatorship. The metaphysical point of view requires that society choose between the two, because democracy is democracy and dictatorship is dictatorship. Democracy is not a dictatorship and dictatorship is not a democracy. We have to choose, otherwise we are confronted with a contradiction, an absurdity, an impossibility. The Marxist attitude is completely different. We, on the other hand, think that the dictatorship of the proletariat, for example, is both dictatorship by the masses and democracy for the exploited masses.’’[1] — Says Politzer. Marxism passed only this test, in the other test, it completely failed as being an extension of metaphysics in the guise of a ‘‘materialist’’ — What about Egoism? Does it pass the test? Egoism is as much dialectical as Marxism and therefore it goes without saying that it passes this test. However let us state a few examples — Egoism has a historical material analysis throughout time, from the standpoint of the egoist and the idlers. Stirner indeed critiques earlier dialectical materialists such as Feuerbach when he says, ‘‘It is well that Feuerbach brings sensuousness to honour, but the only thing he is able to do with it is to clothe the materialism of his “new philosophy” with what had hitherto been the property of idealism, the “absolute philosophy.”[2] — Meaning that Feuerbach, whom was considered by Marx and Engels an inspiration and one of the first one to expose dialectical materialist thought in his philosophy, for Stirner is merely an idealist in materialist clothing. Secondly, Stirner analyzes history dialectically through contradictions, for instance, the thesis of altruism has the antithesis of egotism, but the synthesis of the two is ‘‘egoism’’ — this is because for Stirner, people are altruistic because they are selfish. Therefore, the opposites of ‘‘selfishness’’ and ‘‘altruism’’ are not mutually exclusive. The metaphysician thinks that selfishness and altruism cannot be brought together, contradictions cannot be brought together. Stirner on the other hand argues that altruism and selfishness are both egoist in character. Henceforth, Stirner’s Egoism passes the last test, therefore having covered all the criteria that make up a ‘‘Metaphysician’’ and having investigated through rigorous research that Stirner doesn’t fit one criteria, we can therefore verify that Stirner’s Egoism is not ‘‘Metaphysical’’ and therefore not ‘‘idealist’’ — if it is not idealist and metaphysical, therefore it is dialectical materialist, and therefore it is a scientific philosophy. On the other hand, Marxism having not passed all the tests of metaphysics, shows acute signs of idealism itself, meaning that Marxism has not done away with metaphysical constructs, despite being critical of them. It is not enough to be critical of something, it becomes enough when one takes action to shed away the shell of that which he is being critical off. Egoism does away with metaphysics, Marxism merely critiques it.

[1] Elementary Principles of Philosophy

by Georges Politzer

[2] Ego and Its own

[1] Elementary Principles of Philosophy

by Georges Politzer

[2] Elementary Principles of Philosophy

by Georges Politzer

[3] Elementary Principles of Philosophy

by Georges Politzer

[4] Ego and its own, Stirner.

I am a platformist anarcho-communist, a writer and student of political philosophy, specifically on anarchism.