LASKA, Bernd A. Max Stirner, a durable dissident in a nutshell

How Marx and Nietzsche suppressed their colleague Max Stirner and why he has intellectually survived them

NIETZSCHE, Friedrich Wilhelm (1844-1900)MARX, Karl (1818-1883)STIRNER, Max (Bayreuth, 1806/10/25 - Berlin, 1806/06/25). Pseud. de Johann Caspar SCHMIDTLASKA, Bernd A.

Max Stirner? The philosophizing petit bourgeois to whom Karl Marx had given the brush-off? The anarchist, egoist, nihilist, the crude precursor of Nietzsche? Yes, he. Having a very bad reputation in the world of philosophy, he is mentioned at most in passing, but even now he possesses that intellectual dynamite which a famous successor claimed to have provided.

The mere mention of Stirner’s name evokes catchy sayings such as, "I am unique," "Nothing is more to me than Myself," "All things are nothing to Me," which cause him to appear the epitome of the uninhibited egoist or naïve solipsist or... — No, he has not been forgotten. His book, »Der Einzige und sein Eigentum« (1844) — he wrote only this one — can be found even today in "Reclam’s Universalbibliothek" [in English: »The Ego and His/Its Own«, 1907...1995], as it were, as the classical author of egotism. Yet this does not mean that anyone today considers him to be of current interest.

My thesis, on the other hand, states that his time has only now arrived. The meaning of this declaration is probably best conveyed through the story of the impact of his book, which was strangely clandestine particularly throughout its momentous passages, and is still barely known. The account also makes it understandable that Stirner’s specific central idea did not really become relevant for the times until more than one and a half centuries later and why this should be so.