Enemies of Society
5.5″x8.5″, 400 pages
This book tells the story of the most neglected tendency in anarchist thought; egoism. The story of anarchism is usually told as a story of great bearded men who had beautiful ideas and a series of beautiful failures, culminating in the most beautiful failure of them all in the Spanish Civil War. A noble history of failed ideas and practice.
Egoism, and individualist anarchism, suffers a different kind of fate. It is not a great history and glorious failure but an obscure series of stories of winning. Victory defined by the only terms that matter, those who lived life to their fullest and whose struggle against the existing order defined them. This struggle was not one of abstractions, of Big Ideas, but of people attempting to claim an authentic stake in their own life.
Inspired by the writings of Stirner’s “The Ego and His Own” the assertion these people make it not of the composition of a better world (for everyone) but of how the machinations of society, especially one of abstractions and Big Ideas, have shaped the individual members of that society. How everything that we know and believe has been shaped by structure and intent into a conformed, denatured shadow of what we could be.
Individualists anarchists have always argued that anarchism should not be a version of heaven on earth but a “plurality of possibilities”. This has relegated their activity to the actions that people make in their lives rather than participating in political bodies and formations that shape, and participate in, society. Egoists have gone to war with this world, robbed banks, practiced free love, and won everything except those things worth nothing: history, politics, & acceptance by society.
People like you have been denounced as Â“enemies of societyÂ”. No doubt you would indignantly deny being such and claim that you are trying to save society from the vampire of the State. You delude yourselves. Insofar as Â“societyÂ” means an organized collectivity having one basic norm of behavior that must be accepted by all (and that includes your libertarian communist utopia) and insofar as the norm is a product of the average, the crowd, the mediocre, then anarchists are always enemies of society. There is no reason to suppose that the interests of the free individual and the interests of the social machine will ever harmonize, nor is it desirable that they should. Permanent conflict between the two is the only perspective that makes any sense to me. But I expect that you will not see this, that you will continue to hope that if you repeat Â“the free society is possibleÂ” enough times then it will become so.