Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed
be objects o the subject that I am, are eminently marks orsigns o my subordination to a greater subject. We knowthat it is a subject because that is how it appears in ourspeech. It is greater than me inasmuch as it is imagined astranscendent or eternal. It seems to constitute me in medi-ate relation to things and actions, by means o constitutingme in immediate relation to itsel, to its Cause.I will rehearse the enumeration o causes in the delightulopening rant o the book, entitled “All Things are Nothingto Me.” Stirner opens
The Ego and its Own
in the rst per-son: “What is not supposed to be my concern!” (5). Whatollows is a list o Causes that I am asked to accept as myown: the Cause o God, the Cause o Humanity, the Causeo the State, etc, etc. In each case I am asked to identiywith a Cause alien to my interest. The terms o this oerare hardly delicate. Stirner observes: what we can say aboutGod is that God is God’s main concern. What we can sayabout Humanity is that Humanity is Humanity’s main con-cern. What we can say about the State is that the State isthe State’s main concern. But inexplicably I nd mysel inthis statement: “I mysel am my concern” (7). My Causewill be my own. I note with interest that Stirner gives
as to how he or any o us might come to makesuch a claim. Now please read those statements again andobserve or yoursel. The relation o
being its own main con-cern
is said o an entity that is totally hypothetical. Moreprecisely: imaginary. Stirner never gives us any reason tobelieve that there is God or Humanity beyond the quasi-existence that constellations o xed ideas in the imagina-tion might be said to have. As or the State, according to adenition that ought to be amiliar to anarchists, it can beclearly shown to be the modes o behavior o those wholive in accord with that prooundly inadequate constella-tion o ideas, that Cause.
So, through a more circuitousroute, the same dierence. None. A paradoxical question: i all o these Causes-Subjects are imaginary, am
imaginary? What was I beore this constitutive event, beore this pro-cess began? What am I once I break with the Cause? Was Iever, can I ever be again, its orphan and its atheist?
4 I am alluding, o course, to Landauer’s amous descrip-tion: “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between humanbeings, a mode o human behavior; we destroy it by contractingother relationships, by behaving dierently.” Cited in Buber,
, 46. Goldman and many others have given similar accounts.
In the sacred and sacricial logic o every Cause exceptperhaps my own, the imaginary greater subject (God, Hu-manity, the State, etc, etc.), the one that denes me, orciblyconstitutes me in mediate relation, not only to things and ac-tions, but above all to mysel. One could say, as Debord did,that its operation is separation, the introduction o a “scis-sion within human beings.”
But that cannot be the wholestory. I agree with Stirner that there is no Man: Humanityis another Cause. Scission or separation within what, then? Just this cipher we call the Ego, this variable that names notgeneric humanity but individual human bodies. Individu-als? Humans? I will come back to individuals and humans.
The imagination does not speak.
has spoken. Heor she is a representative o the Cause, or wants you to thinkso. He does not speak in his own name. She says she speaksor the Cause. He shares, without invitation, his imagina-tion. She insists that you accept her git o words, sometimeseven o organs.
As David Hume once put it: “In vain, bypompous phrase and passionate expression, each recom-mends his own pursuit, and invites the credulous hearers toan imitation o his lie and manners.”
says (usuallyrepeats) to you that you must take this Cause as your own;that without it, your lie is meaningless. “Every man musthave something that is more to him than himsel” (254).Stirner implies that, in such moments, you might accept,even embrace, the possibility o meaninglessness. He doesnot assume that, now that the God Cause, the State Cause,etc, etc, is no longer my own, I immediately know what Iam doing, or what to do next. To assume my Cause as myown does not mean that I know what I am or what I want todo.
I can say that I will make my Cause my own, but I maynot know what that means. I might trip up in my imagi-nary sel-constitution. Not knowing is not only possible butprobable. Someone sure o the next step has probably justswitched Causes. Sometimes that is called progress.
5 As has been said o a person ree o myth, or o the un-conscious. Deleuze and Guattari,
Society o the Spectacle
, § 20, translation modied.Debord’s concept o spectacle useully illustrates the social machinesthrough which such imaginary subjects come to appear real.7 The idea o a git o organs was suggested in a dierentcontext by Jean-François Lyotard. I am thinking o all o the non-verbal ways in which we are invited or seduced to join a Cause.8 “The Platonist,” 92.9 The event o breaking with the Cause is not itsel a Cause;however, it is common enough that instances o such breaks areeventually memorialized as part o a new Cause.