File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-07-31.055, message 59

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 01:31:50 +0100
Subject: Engels's egoism unselfish and self-sacrificing from the start

Alex T quotes Engels on Stirner, writing to Marx on 19 November 1844:
>"But what is true in his principle, we, too, must accept. And what is
>true is that before we can be active in any cause we must make it our
>own, egoistic cause--and that in this sense, quite aside from any
>material expectations, we are communists in virtue of our egoism..."
>--Marx-Engels *Werke*, vol. 27, p. 11

Immediately preceding this (Coll Works vol 38 pp11&12), Engels writes:

        This egoism is taken to such a pitch, it is so absurd and at the same
        time so self-aware, that it cannot maintain itself even for an
        in its one-sidedness, but must immediately change into communism.
In the
        first place it's a simple matter to prove to Stirner that his
        man is bound to become a communist out of sheer egoism. That's the
        to answer the fellow. In the second place he must be told that in
        egoism the human heart is of itself, from the very outset,
unselfish and
        self-sacrificing, so that he finally ends up with what he is combatting.

And soon after the whole egoism business is firmly rooted in starting from
'the Ego, the empirical, flesh-and-blood individual' instead of some
abstract, idealist concept of 'man'. Bentham, Hess and Feuerbach also
figure in the argument.



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