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War on the State Stirner and Deleuze's Anarchism Saul Newman

War on the State Stirner and Deleuze's Anarchism Saul Newman

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Published by: Griesgramig on May 10, 2009
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Saul Newman
War on the State: Stirner andDeleuze’s Anarism
T A L
 
Contents
I. Critique of the State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4II. State ought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6III. e Subject of Desire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9IV. Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16Recommended Reading: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
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Max Stirner’s impact on contemporary political theory is oen neglected. However inStirner’s political thinking there can be found a surprising convergence with poststructuralisttheory, particularly with regard to the function of power. Andrew Ko, for instance, seesStirnerasathinkerwhotranscendstheHegeliantraditionheisusuallyplacedin,arguingthathis work is a precursor poststructuralist ideas about the foundations of knowledge and truth(Ko 1997). Ko argues that Stirner’s individualistic allenge to the philosophical bases of the State goes beyond the limits of traditional Western philosophy, presenting a allenge toits transcendentalist epistemology. In light of this connection established by Ko betweenStirner and poststructuralist epistemology, I shall look at Stirner’s convergence with a certainpoststructuralist thinker, Gilles Deleuze, on the question of the State and political power.ere are many important parallels between these two thinkers, and they may be viewed,in different ways, as anti-State, anti-authoritarian philosophers. I want to show the wayin whi Stirner’s critique of the State anticipates Deleuze’s poststructuralist rejection of Statethought, andmoreimportantly, thewaysinwhitheiranti-essentialist, post-humanistanarism transcends and, thus, reflects upon, the limits of classical anarism. e paperlooks at the links between human essence, desire and power that form the bases of Stateauthority. So while Ko focuses on Stirner’s rejection of the epistemological foundationsof the State, the emphasis of this paper is on Stirner’s radical
ontology 
— his unmaskingof the subtle connections between humanism, desire and power. I will also argue that thiscritique of humanist power that both Stirner and Deleuze are engaged in can provide us withcontemporary strategies of resistance to State domination.It must be understood, however, that while there are important similarities betweenStirner and Deleuze, there are also many differences, and, in many ways, it may seem anunusual approa to bring these two thinkers together. For instance, Stirner was, along withMarx, one of the Young Hegelians, whose work emerged as a supremely individualistic cri-tique of German Idealism, particularly of the Feuerbaian and Hegelian kind. Deleuze, onthe other hand, was a twentieth century philosopher who, along with Foucault and Derrida,is regarded as one of the ief “poststructuralist” thinkers. While Deleuze’s work can also beseen as an aa on Hegelianism, it follows different and more diverse paths, from politicsand psyoanalysis, to literature and film theory. Stirner is not generally regarded as a “post-structuralist”, and, apart from Ko’s groundbreaking article (Ko 1997) and Derrida’s workon Marx (Derrida 1994), he has received virtually no aention in the light of contemporarytheory. However, and this is perhaps the problem with labels like “poststructuralism”, thereare several crucial planes of convergence between these two thinkers — particularly in theircritique of political domination and authority — that one can tease out, and whi would bedenied if one stu to su labels. It is precisely in this rejection of the tyranny of “labels”, es-sentialidentities, abstractionsand“fixedideas”thisaaonauthoritarianconceptswhilimit thought — that Stirner and Deleuze aieve some sort of common ground. is is not toignore the differences between them, but on the contrary, to show how these differences toresonate together in unpredictable and contingent ways to form, in Deleuze’s words, ‘planesof consistency’ from whi new political concepts can be formed.3

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