Man, ‘Quite a World of Federations’ or Man ‘is a Group’: The Incompatibility of Anarchism and Individualism

Issue: 
Autumn 2017

The aim of this essay is to develop a genealogy of anarchism and individualism. The methodological assumption is that anthropological premises underpin every political philosophy and these ought to be used as analytical tools. The argument shows how one of these genealogical lines connects, among others, Locke with Stirner, as advocates of the propertarian theory of man as an owner, and that the other connects classical thought (Aristotle’s zoon politicon) with classical anarchism, in its view of man as an heir. We will argue, then, that the anthropological theories of Stirner and of anarchism are not only incompatible, but mutually exclusive. Furthermore, we will argue that Stirner fails to achieve his main aims, to provide an anthropology free of abstractions and fictions and thus break away from the western philosophical tradition. And he fails because he bases his philosophy on the ontological premise of a man/society dualism, a dualism that anarchism rejects as inconceivable.

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Anarchist Studies Volume 25 No 2