On Defining Anarchism and Egoism Reply

Whenever I’m asked to define what an anarchist is I usually just say that if you get a 100 self-proclaimed anarchists in a room, and ask them a question, you might get 200 answers. It’s the same way people who are self-proclaimed Christians have argued over Christology for 2000 years. What I tend to like about anarchist theory is that it has so many parallel definitions in terms of what it’s essence is supposed to be, and some these may be only marginally related to each other. There’s also the way that different kinds of seemingly polar opposite forms of anarchism (an-coms and an-caps, an-prims and an-transhumanists) also complement each other in a kind of Hegelian manner.

Philosophically, I’d say my biggest influences are Machiavelli (politics is about power, not virtue), Hobbes (society is a war of self-interested creatures and groups), Nietzsche (values are subjective social constructs and individual states of mind), and Stirner (“It’s all about me!”). his doesn’t necessarily mean an egoist has to be an uncompromisingly selfish person in a conventional sense. Plenty of people actually receive gratification from helping others. For example, I used to have a friend of mine who was a devout Mormon who was also a special ed teacher working with kids in their teens who still weren’t toilet trained, and who volunteered to go to Haiti to help with earthquake relief. Today, she’s a pediatrician. She’s all about trying to help people with terrible problems. Not really stuff I would want to do, but I wouldn’t say she is being non-egoist by doing all that if that’s what she wants to do.

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