Anarchism/Anti-State

Would the Real Max Stirner Please Stand Up?

By Elmo Feiten

This paper criticizes a range of recent positions on Max Stirner’s relationship to the anarchist canon. A recent rise in academic attention to Stirner offers a possibility for new analyses to clear away the misconceptions of the past, however, some old mistakes are still consistently repeated, not all-important insights find their way into the present discussion, and some new readings of Stirner even introduce new inadequacies. Addressing specifically the controversial definition of the anarchist canon in Black Flame and the debate surrounding the concept of postanarchism, I show the theoretical and argumentative problems present in different texts, both those that identify Stirner as part of the anarchist canon and those that exclude him from it. Present difficulties in situating Stirner’s thought are traced back to his original canonization as an anarchist, by Marxists on the one hand and individualist anarchists on the other.

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