File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-07-31.055, message 63

Date: Sun, 21 Jul 1996 15:42:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: communist egoism

Indeed, the Marx of the 1844 Manuskripte seemed to march in parallel with 
Stirner in stating the importance of the all-round development of the 
individual's faculties and enjoyment of this life. So much so that the 
blistering attack on "Saint Max" in *The German Ideology* is puzzling to 
me. It seems to form the transition from the 'young Marx'--Romantic, 
'humanist'--to the scientific Marx concerned primarily with the 
descriptive analysis of political economy. The critique of Stirner as a 
"German ideologist" doesn't seem accurate. Feuerbach's 'religion of 
humanity' came under fire not only from Marx's historical materialism but 
also from Stirner's individualism, which is better described as a 
psychological rather than a philosophical position. It is the concrete 
ego/individual he describes (the unique one) and upholds against 
Feuerbach's abstract, ideological Man (meet the new God).
	Now, it may well be that Stirner's egoist is developed 
one-sidedly and does indeed, as Engels suggested, require an attachment 
to communism out of egoism itself. But it also seems true that Marx and 
Engels's position may be lacking something--the proper understanding of 
psychological man. The main currents of marxism have tended to all but 
ignore psychology in favor of historical and economic forces. Haven't we 
all heard such crudities as 'The bourgeoisie wants this, the proletariat 
thinks in such-and-such a way...the mentality of the petty-bourgeoisie,' 
as if people could only have a category consciousness. This is not, of 
course, true of all marxists. There have been attempts by, for example, 
the Frankfurters, to synthesize psychoanalytic with marxist theory (or at 
least to inject some of the insights of the former into the latter).
	Could it be that the habit of insisting on the primacy of a model 
of objectivity borrowed from the natural sciences contributed to 
traditional marxist denigration of 'subjective idealism'? Marxism has 
often been positivistic (like the IInd International) and its overriding 
concern with creating a rational order of political economy (competing 
with capitalism on its own terrain) harkens back to theorists like 
Bentham, who believed that the calculus in mathematics developed by 
Newton and Leibniz could be transferred lock stock and barrel into 
society with his calculus of utility, pleasure, and pain. This is not to 
say that Marx, even at his worst, wanted men to be machines, but some 
marxists certainly did (how about Stalin's 'engineer of souls'?). There 
*is* in fact something unique, noumenal, irrational about the self that 
cannot be explained merely as the effects of the operation of 
physico-chemical processes. And you don't have to fall back into religion 
to recognize this.

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