Front Page Titles (by Subject) Radical Individualism - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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Radical Individualism - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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“The Revival of Max Stirner.” Journal of the History of Ideas (USA), 35 (1974): 323–328.
Max Stirner (né Johann Caspar Schmidt, 1806–1856) presents a curious paradox. Although judged by such diverse critics as his early friend Engels, and such twentieth century authors as Isaiah Berlin and Sidney Hook to be enormously perceptive in theory and social analysis, he has been periodically ignored and forgotten. Until recent years, Stirner and his chief work, Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (Leipsig, 1844), have suffered scholarly neglect apart from earlier sporadic revivals of interest. Happily, recent editions of his work
Hans G. Helms, ed. Max Stirner: Der Einzige und sein Eigentum und andere Schriften (Munich, 1968); John Carroll, ed. Max Stirner: The Ego and His Own (London, 1971); see also the Dover Press reissue of Steven T. Byington's translation of Max Stirner: The Ego and His Own (New York, 1963); together with the first comprehensive study of Stirner's philosophy ever to appear in English R. W. K. Patterson's The Nihilistic Egoist (Oxford, 1971); and a comprehensive bibliography, Hans G. Helms, Die Ideology der anonymen Gesellschaft (Cologne, 1966), 510–600,
signal a scholarly reawakening of interest that Stirner should long ago have provoked in Marxists and individualist anti-Marxists.
Marx and Engels themselves were quick to realize the radical challenge to communism offered by Stirner's The Ego and His Own. Overnight, Stirner established himself as one of the most formidable opponents of the communists, critical philosophers, humanitarians, and various reformers—those with whom previously he seemed to have so much in common. Labeling Stirner's philosophy “Egoism,” Engels recognized that Stirner had captured “the essence of present society and present man,” and that it called for an answer. The Marxist answer filled some 500 pages in The German Ideology. Stirner's book excited a barrage of other responses, but was largely ignored after the political revolutions of 1848. This should not have been his fate since as Sidney Hook indicated in 1939, the long forgotten debate between Marx and Stirner involved “the fundamental problems of any possible system of ethics and public morality” (Sidney Hook, From Hegel to Marx, 173). Stirner's effect, particularly upon the works of Karl Marx, still remains to be fully assessed.
Stirner's own egoism springs from a conscious and total atheism. He refuses to reverence any higher essence than his own uniqueness (Einzigkeit). Each individual should guard an unalienated self-ownership (Eigenthum) of his being and his thoughts, and reject everything supernatural. No abstractions should be reified and loom superior to their egoist creator. Abstracted essences such as Man, State, Proletariat, and Truth are merely substituted unreal “gods” which hostilely threaten the egoist's self-ownership, who, in fact, gave rise to them. God, and every other abstraction which claims the individual's self-subordination, become for Stirner simply the alienated essence of man. Marxism deposed the transcendent God of Aquinas only to bend its knee to His secularized surrogate Man rather than the individual ego. As Stirner sums up the matter at the end of The Ego and His Own: “Every higher essence above me, be it God, be it man, weakens the feeling of uniqueness; and pales only before the sun of this consciousness.... All things are nothing to me.” Stirner both anticipated Marx's alienation of the proletariat by one year and went far beyond.
Ethics, Rights, and Freedom
The following summaries confront unavoidable ethical questions of whether human freedom may be justified in terms of rational and objective moral significance. How are freedom and individual rights related to moral values, virtue, and self-actualization, both in the abstract and in specific issues of social sciences, economics, and political philosophy?
Can a valid value theory (axiology), defending individual freedom and rights, be articulated and shown as rational and natural when applied to law, political science, and economics? Specifically, can the freedom of the marketplace (and its mechanisms of contract, interest, profits, individual choice, and self-interest) justify itself in moral terms rather than by invoking pragmatism or utilitarianism.