Solipsism and Agnosticism

Most everyone has heard of solipsism, even if he or she doesn’t know what the word means.  Anyone who has watched the Matrix movies has been introduced to the concept.  The basic idea is that we all live in our heads and only in our heads, and we don’t have any way of knowing if the world we sense is “truly real”.

Our senses report data to our brains, but we don’t really know if what our brains perceive is a reality that is objectively true.  This is not just because our senses and our brains are imperfect, which they are.  It is because we have no way of knowing what is real in an absolute sense because we have no absolute reference point by which to judge.  There is always the possibility that our reality is some sort of dream or hallucination that is being imposed on us by someone or something that lives in a reality that is “actually real” (or at least more so than ours).

A consideration of the implications of solipsism tells us that we can never “know” anything with absolute certainty.  There is always some possibility that we are wrong, even if that possibility is very, very remote.  The question that faces us then, as we go about our lives trying to make important decisions, is choosing the degree of certainty that we are comfortable with when deciding that we “know” something.

The religious continually use solipsistic reasoning to try to corner atheists into thinking we are actually agnostic.  Their goal is to pressure most atheists into admitting doubt and thus make religious beliefs seem respectable.  They also wish to paint atheists into the “strong atheism” corner–to get them to take the seemingly unreasonable and affirmative position that they are 100% certain that there is no god.  Consequently, they present the “doubt” brought on by a consideration of solipsism and complete, affirmative certainty as the only two options.  Either admit you are agnostic or you are a “strong atheist” claiming certainty that god doesn’t exist.

They do this by confusing the question of the universe’s origins with the question of god’s existence.  These are obviously two different questions to any objective, logical thinker.  To the religious, however, they are the same question because in their minds they have already accepted the idea that god is the only possible explanation.  They accept it so thoroughly that they are not even aware that they are confusing the two questions and that doing so shows they are engaging in circular reasoning.

The reason the religious try to make non-believers choose between “agnostic” or a “strong atheist” is to make it easier for believers to argue that they do not bear the burden of proof.  They are desperate to get out from under this burden because they know they cannot bear it in any way.  If a non-believer makes the mistake of choosing one of these two options in this false dichotomy, then he or she has implicitly taken on the burden of proof.

Any argument based on solipsism or an attempt to get you to say you are agnostic–such as by calling atheism a religion–has this goal in mind.   But, the argument fails for many of the same reasons that the argument from existence fails.  The lack of evidence for an extraordinary proposition that cannot be disproved meets whatever burden of proof we have.  All atheists should make this point whenever the burden of proof comes up as an issue in a debate: 

The complete lack of evidence for such an extraordinary proposition meets whatever burden of proof we atheists have.

Clarifications can be added either before or after that statement: 

“The existence of god cannot be disproved–ever.”


“The god hypothesis is essentially a belief in magic.  Such an extraordinary proposition needs to be proved by those who believe in it.” 

One of the good things about solipsism/agnosticism based arguments is that you can turn their reasoning on them because it applies with equal validity to every proposition imaginable.

For example:  If god does exist in some fashion, then even he cannot know for absolute certainty that he exists and is not merely a hallucination or magically constructed phantasm made by another, greater magical being. The rather obvious reason for this is that there is no objectively verifiable standard for “absolute certainty”.

If one of them tries this argument with you, you can say:

“But, using your reasoning, even god himself, if he existed, would be agnostic as to his own existence.  Because there is an extremely remote possibility that he is merely the imaginary construct of some other being in some plane of existence that is more “real” than his own.”

The religious would define agnosticism with reference to the most ridiculous reaches of solipsism, which stretches the concept to and beyond its breaking point.  Under that definition, I would have to say that I am agnostic as to the question of whether I am really sitting in my office chair typing on my computer keyboard because there is a chance, however slim, that I might be just imagining it.

Such an all-encompassing definition renders the term “agnosticism” meaningless–except to the extent that you can use it as armor to fend off the horrible social pressures exerted on us non-believers by the theists. If you can’t bring yourself to accept the ultimate intellectual violation and simply join the deluded, then, rather than face their wrath, you can use the “agnostic” label as a subterfuge that allows you to allow them to save face.

At the end of Orwell’s “1984” the protagonist had his ability to think independently so thoroughly destroyed that he couldn’t even bring himself to admit that he knew 2 plus 2 equals 4. Well, this sort of agnosticism is similar to that scenario. We all know that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but there is an infinitesimal chance that we are wrong. After all, how do we know that we really exist? How do we know that the universe we live in is real and that we have observed its rules correctly? Where is the ultimate mathematical yardstick by which we can judge the correctness of our calculations? How can we ever know that we have achieved a true observation? If knowing requires some absolute, objective standard be found and met, then we can never “know” anything.

Solipsism is a “trick” of philosophy.  It is a tool used to teach the importance of epistemology, ontology, open-mindedness regarding new evidence, and skepticism.  It’s implications, when taken seriously as the religious would have us do, however, are not worthy of consideration.  It can be very quickly reduced to the absurd.

What I am getting at is that the true lesson of solipsism is that there is no such “absolute” standard and that we don’t need to find it and meet it in order to say that we know something. Those who say we can never know anything, have taken the absurd negative example of solipsism seriously and thus mistaken the Socratic question for the lesson they were meant to learn from the futility of trying to answer it.

Some things are simply beyond proof. The nonexistence of all gods is one of those things because the god concept is far too malleable (as is any concept with “magic” at its core) to be disproved empirically. Thus, the “proof” can only consist of 1. a lack of evidence for the positive, opposite hypothesis; 2. the mountains of evidence showing that gods are man-made constructs (the clear history of fakes, the sheer impossibility of the claimed entity); and 3. the fact that logic leads inexorably from these observations to the conclusion that gods don’t exist.

When there is no evidence at all for a thing, then it almost certainly doesn’t exist (with the exception of probable variations of similar things that have been proven to exist–i.e., previously unknown types of flora or fauna that are within normal parameters of form and function). There is no evidence for any god nor for any magical entity of any sort. The claimed attributes are extremely improbable–so much so that one should require not just evidence but more evidence than normal for such claims. Everyone knows that the improbable magical creatures in the Harry Potter books don’t exist, even though disproving their existence would be almost as hard as disproving the existence of gods. It is only when the question of gods comes up that people suddenly lose their ability or their will to think logically.

As I have pointed out before, the lack of evidence for gods meets whatever burden of proof required to conclude they don’t exist.  Reserving judgment, calling yourself agnostic implies that you think you have the burden of proving conclusively that gods don’t exist, even though it is literally not possible to do that.  I think that is exactly why the religious try so hard to get atheists to say they are agnostic–so they can get us to implicitly accept that we have the burden of proof.

If you click on this link, it will take you to a very good defenses of agnosticism.  The author does a very good job of defending and explaining his position, but I can’t help but see that he has fallen into the trap of the theists.

The author doesn’t distinguish between the question of the origins of the universe and the issue of whether the god hypothesis has merit.  Whenever this happens, whether you are speaking to a believer or an agnostic, you can say:

“We don’t know how the universe came to be, but being agnostic on the question of the universe’s origins doesn’t mean you have to be agnostic on the question of whether “an invisible magic man in the sky did it” is a reasonable theory.”

The author also implicitly accepts that he has the burden of proof with regard to the god hypothesis and must meet it before declaring himself an atheist.  And, most telling, he ends by saying that he calls himself agnostic because that is what makes him most comfortable–even though he is about a certain as anyone that there is no god.  Obviously, this lack of comfort level helps explain why he embraces that label and fails to see the problems with his reasoning.

I am repeating myself here, so I will simply rephrase my primary points on this subject:

1. The point of solipsism isn’t that we can’t know anything but that knowing something requires less than an absolute certainty that we can’t define in any event.

2. Atheism is not a claim to absolute knowledge. One can reach a conclusion without closing one’s mind. (Though in some cases, such as creationism, one might well conclude that re-examining the subject repeatedly is worse than a waste of time).

3. A lack of empirical evidence for a thing is evidence (though not conclusive proof) that the thing doesn’t exist.

4. If the thing is also highly improbable and not subject to disproof, that lack of evidence is all one will ever have and is sufficient to reach a conclusion.

I can more than understand why one would call oneself an agnostic when dealing with religious people. I have done it myself on numerous occasions. But non-believers should resort to this sort of tactic only when necessary for their self-protection.  Otherwise, the implication is that atheists have the burden of proof, which is simply not true.

Three Stages of History

Notwithstanding the above remarks, it appears that Stirner presented his account of the ages of man in earnest, for he next proceeds to describe human history analogously. The ancients, like children, were realists. Modern Christians are idealists, like youth, while men of the future will be egoists, like adults.

For the ancients, the world of nature and blood kinship was the highest value, and they accepted it as unquestioningly as a Christian accepts the mystery of the divine word. This observation was already made by Feuerbach, but Stirner adds that the ancients also tried to subvert or get behind supposed natural truths.

In particular, he praises the Sophists, who used the mind as a weapon against the world. The Sophists lived by their wits to attain the most pleasant life, rather than accepting natural or customary norms. They used the mind as an instrument for getting behind traditional ethics, yet without elevating the mind to the status of a new master or conscience. They cultivated the understanding, but not the heart, which was still free to pursue its most voracious appetites unhindered. Thus, for all their superior understanding, the Sophists remained enslaved to the world through their sensual desires.

Socrates perceived that the heart as well as the mind must be purified. It is not enough to have understanding, but that understanding must also be directed to a worthy cause. Stirner considers this purification of heart to be a further liberation of the mind, freeing it from worldly desires. What is this purification? According to Stirner, just as the Sophist mind had elevated its own interests over the interests of others (i.e., what is “natural” or customary), so does the Socratic heart disdain all worldly things, so that even family and country are given up for the sake of the heart’s own blessedness.

“Daily experience confirms the truth that the understanding may have renounced a thing many years before the heart has ceased to beat for it.” [p.21.] While the Sophists had made themselves masters over “the dominant, ancient powers” in their understanding, it remained to drive these powers out of the heart. Socrates began this war, which would last until the end of the classical age.

The final purgation of the heart was achieved by the Skeptics, who “threw all contents out of the heart and let it no longer beat for anything.” [p.22.] This purgation, stripping man of all bonds to the world even in his desires, effectively detaches man from the corporeal world. He now sees himself as spirit, i.e., as pure thought, a development that would facilitate the reception of Christianity. Continue reading

Thirty-Ninth Communique of the Individualists Tending Toward the Wild

Following the latest criticisms and responses that the anarchic nuns have spit out to people to defend their anarchist “comrades” who live in Chile along with us, we want to express some irrefutable points to situate the debate a bit.

We would like to speak of an “insurrectionary anarchist affinity group of tension,” or whatever they call themselves, that made amoral indiscriminate attack their own. FINALLY THEY ENTERED INTO OUR MADNESS! Or rather, they did so some time ago, and now they want to resurface.

It was 2014 and their target was what seemed to be the office of Chilean prison officials (conveniently without anyone present). That’s what they thought, since it was not clear what they thought they were burning. What is known is that they left a backpack with an explosive device in the street. They didn’t set up the famous anarchist guard of morality that makes sure innocents aren’t hurt.

And they shit the bed on this one by their standards since they became the first indiscriminate anarchists. A young drug addict named Sergio Landskron picked up the backpack and died due to the explosion. Finding this out probably made the anarchists fall off their bike, vomit up their vegan burgers, and start praying to St. Bonnano or Sister Bakunin asking for forgiveness for their sins.

Under the moral parameters of these crybabies, ITS was already in Chile in 2014. This couldn’t possibly have been anarchists. “It’s a set-up!” they should have cried.

But we know this isn’t the case, since the Mafia isn’t anti-prison, and at most eco-anarchist groups were already conspiring who share our hatred. But they don’t focus on prisons, as is well known. Landskron’s murderers never took responsibility for the attack, so much was their shame at violating their standards of the moral of attack.

This indiscriminate attack – let’s call it what it is – was a great SIN of the action group in question. Gallons of ink and saliva of anarchist morality burned that marginal youngster, who we recognize as one of the worst results of this rotten civilization, and, we could even call him a “victim”.

The anarchists kept quiet! They didn’t utter a peep about his death, there was no communique asking for forgiveness or explaining why they didn’t hit they intended target, as was the case with the prisoners of war Juan, Nataly, and Guillermo, to justify why they indiscriminately attacked a bus station.

Even less likely was the existence of a communiqué saying, “yes, we did it, it was an accident.” They hid their snouts out of fear of the cops. They were afraid to end up like savages without anarchist morality. Look at them killing the last victim of the system!

So now that it is all the style to threaten an anarchist war against the Eco-extremist Mafia, snitching included, we gave some clues about these nuns to the friends and family (some of them criminals) of Sergio Landskron, so that they’ll know who to shoot and stab to get even. They’re looking in freed squats around site of the indiscriminate attack and they’ll know who took their son-uncle-brother from them. They’re squats full of shitheads who have gotten out of the explosives game because of this anarcho-Christian sin, but we know that they have this hidden sin on their chest and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Do the moralists consider this snitching too? It’s all the same to us, it’s not for nothing that we are egoists, criminals, and amoral. But let it be known, what we have just stated is just one demonstration that we know quite well those behind certain things, we know where the campaign in Chile against eco-extremism comes from. We thus state that if they continue with this pathetic campaign they shouldn’t be surprised when we respond.

In their anarcho-civilized morality, killing that Landskron kid was a sin so great that the Chilean anarchist movement kept quiet out of shame. They shouldn’t criticize the Tendency with their moral standards, since we aren’t up for being judged by their crooked scales. More than that, people will see that the emperor has no clothes.

Prowling Port Changos (ITS-Chile)


AMORALLY I POST THIS TEXT CRITICIZING MORALITY. IT HAS A MAJOR FLAW THOUGH, IT DOESN’T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE BIOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF MORALITY, WHICH CAN’T BE ”EXORCISED” BY THINKING OR JUST CRITICIZING.Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong. The purpose of all moral systems is to fix human behavior through the imposition of absolute standards, which arc designed in such a manner as to remain beyond examination and critique. All moral systems are presented as the superior norm, the absolute law, the peremptory order that imposes on everyone, at all times, that which they must do and that which they must not do-applicable to all human beings without exception.

To fully understand how morality functions as a mechanism of Control, it’s helpful to examine the psychological functions underpinning moral codes and the justifications used for demanding universal obedience to them. Until recently one of the most common of these justifications was an appeal to god and, indeed, this has not completely disappeared. This god tells us what is right or wrong or so runs the belief. This metaphysical dream-concept issues rules for us to obey, and if we refuse to do so, this god will punish us, horribly. By threatening other people in such a manner, however, the moralist has changed the question from one of morality to one of expediency, to one of avoiding the painful results of not submitting to someone or something more powerful than ourselves.

Of course, there are those who don’t believe in a god who are nonetheless believers in morality. These humanistic moralists seek a sanction for their moral codes in some other fixed idea: the Common Good; a teleological conception of human evolution; the needs of humanity or society; natural rights, and so forth. A critical analysis of this type of moral justification shows that there is no more behind it than there is behind “the will of god”. Concepts such as the “common good” or “social welfare” are merely high-sounding pieces of rhetoric used to disguise the particular interests of those making use of them.

It is exactly this dressing up of particular interests as moral laws that lies behind the ideological masquerade of morality. Moral systems function as a concealment of real purpose and motive and are almost always a disguised “will to power”‘. Soak the luminous blueprints of the Moral Saviors of Humanity in the acid of brutal analysis and see the pattern hidden in the scroll: a desire to force a certain line of action upon everyone, a desire to rule and repress. It is only when, at certain times and places, by means of physical force or of superior cunning, some succeed in imposing their particular moral interpretation on others, that a single morality triumphs, understood and followed by all in the same fashion-as in the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church had dissolved all variety into unity. or as we see today in certain portions of the Islamic world.

One of the most popular uses of the moral myth is to add a garnish to the already unsavory dish of politics. By turning even the most trivial of political pursuits into a moral crusade one can be assured of the support of the credulous, the vindictive, and the envious, as well as giving a pseudo-strength to the weak and the wavering. While it is to be expected that those who desire to rule others will invoke moral reprimands in an attempt to convert (or purge) the ideological deviationist or critical iconoclast, it’s profoundly disheartening to observe self-professed anarchists acting out the same farce, in the form of politically-correct speech codes, dietary restrictions, consumer choices, dogmatic social ethics, and selfrighteous slave-moralities like pacifism. It’s hard to imagine anything more threadbare, more hopelessly platitudinous, to found an antiauthoritarian rebellion on than morality, yet anarchists do it all the time, to the detriment of their own struggle and credibility.

Egoism-conscious egoism-is neither moral nor immoral. It stands beyond ” good and evil”. It is amoral. An egoist may be truthful or untruthful, considerate or inconsiderate, generous or cruel, according to his nature, tastes, or circumstances, and at his own risk, but she is under no obligation to be any of these. She may behave in a way that the moral call “good” or in a way that they call “evil”, but he does so because he judges his interest to lie in one direction or the other, not because she is possessed by the spook of moralism or that of immoralism.

While the moralist tends to see conflicts between individuals (and groups and institutions) in terms of”right” and “wrong”, the egoist never considers either adversary right or wrong in any moral sense. Each is simply pursuing the fulfillment of his or her own agenda, and if the conflict cannot be resolved otherwise, it must be settled by force. For, make no mistake, in repudiating the idea of morality egoists make no exception for “violence”. Nor do they draw any pious distinction between the initiation of force or retaliatory force. Either form is used if it is an expedient way of pursuing a given end, and to the egoist there is no moral law prohibiting violence to which they must subordinate their will to personal sovereignty.

To the conscious egoist, the inexistence of morality is as certain as two and two make four, and in this respect, egoism exceeds the bounds of anarchism’s most audacious speculations regarding individual sovereignty, acting as a powerful dissolvent for an imagination clogged by theories of “right” and “wrong”‘. Only after scanning the full horizon of amorality -the nothingness left in the absence of good and evil or any other metaphysical authority- does the individual come face to face with an exhilarating and terrible freedom in which Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted.

The Stranger

‘Whom do you love best, puzzling man, tell us: your father, your mother, your sister or your brother?’

‘I have no father, no mother, no sister and no brother.’

‘Your friends?’

‘Now you are using a word whose meaning to this day remains unknown to me.’

‘Your country?’

‘I do not know in which latitude it lies.’


‘I would willingly love her, were she a goddess and immortal.’


‘I hate it as you hate God.’

‘What do you love then, extraordinary stranger?’

‘I love the clouds… the passing clouds… there… there… the wonderful clouds!’

Charles Baudelaire

Eco-extremist Reflections


This project of “Eco-extremist Reflections” arises with the idea of gathering all the reflections, both older and more recent, within the scope of eco-extremist theory, in order to facilitate their access to the interested individualists. Since many of them are of a great value and its reading is very important to the strengthening of ideas and practice against the modern human and the techno-industrial civilization. We will divide them into themes and soon we will be publishing all we can collect from blogs, files, books, magazines and so on.

In this first number, we include some older reflections, which fulfilled the duty of discarding concepts and moralities that limited those who at the time, were approaching what we now call eco-extremism. Sterile and expired concepts such as “veganism”, “liberation” or “solidarity”. And finally, four texts of egoist-individualist orientation, one of them taken from the magazine “Ash and Ruin”, an other one from Crimelle et sauvage and the final two from the northern areas of the “Mexican” territory.


  1. The myth of veganism

  2. They do not suit yourself

  3. Solitude and Self-Realisation

  4. I and afterwards I

  5. A false escape


    In this second issue, we bring an old reflection by Abe Cabrera, evidencing already by those days the clear differences between US and the rest, those groups and characters with more progressive inclinations although they deny it, we are talking, of course, about the anarcho-primitivists and co.

    At the same time, we bring a large part of the important reflections of Chahta-Ima, an eco-extremist theorist, pioneer in that field, who with his sharped critics and thoughts was cutting the root of the rottenness that the modern ideologies are. We mention that the writings by Chahta-Ima have been invaluable for some of the individualists who are doing this work and we highlight them with great appreciation and pride.

    And finally, an extract from the text “The Calusa, a savage kingdom?”, Whose teachings are too important to be forgotten.

    We are very thankful for the contributions from the accomplices in the Animus Delendi blog, whom have helped us with the English translations for some of the texts on the first notebook, in this the number two as well and in the next ones which are still on preparations. The complicity between individualists brings the possibility to carry on with every editorial effort we have in mind, thus it allows us to move forward within the Tendency polishing are approaches, exchanging thoughts and posing new questions.


    Primitivism without Catastrophe

    “Saving the World” as the Highest Form of Domestication

    What do we mean when we say, “nature”?

    Politically Incorrect Savages

    Collateral damage: An Eco-Extremist Defense of Indiscriminate Violence

    Lessons from the Yahi War

    Lessons from the Calusa



Misanthropes are not born, they are made.

The recipe for a genuine misanthrope always starts with a person overflowing with love for his fellow man; to this, one adds a pinch of disenchantment, mixed with a healthy dose of cynicism and bitter resentment; then, allowed to rest in order for the ingredients to settle in together until fully immersed, and finished by serving it over a world occupied with other people.

Behind every misanthropic personality one finds the decaying remains of a former philanthropist.

This much is evident if only one considers the intensity of the misanthrope’s passionate vitriol. The degree of his contempt and disdain for humanity is always preceded by an abundance of passionate love; for it is impossible for one to passionately hate if one does not know how to passionately love.

That many misanthropes were at one time, in the naivety of their youth, idealists or romantics should come as absolutely no surprise.

What distinguishes misanthropic hate is its breadth and universality. Misanthropic hate is general, for the misanthrope detests all men; his hatred is all encompassing – for he despises with every fiber of his being the crowd and its imbecilic customs and mannerisms; he heaps scorn on that which is popular and common to the unthinking and amorphous masses; he has far too much experience in the ways of men to take anything at face-value, and his skepticism towards the purported intentions of others knows no bounds.

Genuine and true misanthropy should not be confused with detached indifference, as is the case for the egoist. Egoists subordinate the interests of the other to his own; and thus, he is relatively apathetic to the masses. As such, he is generally oblivious.

On the contrary, the misanthrope is far too reflective and far too aware to be a mere egoist. For misanthropy is never passive indifference, but always manifests itself in active abhorrence and detestation.

38th Communique of the Individualists Tending Toward the Wild

¡Por la expansión del Caos anti-humanístico!

I. The dream

I had a dream where anarchism had the appearance of a human being.

Yes, it was precisely like a normal person with a head, legs, arms… All that is needed.

In the dream that I had anarchism died.

Suddenly, an accursed silent illness took hold of him, without symptoms. One day it knocked on his door and took him away.

Just like that.

Without time to act, understand, try…

Without escape.

Without warning.

No call beforehand.

Death did its job, turned around, and kept going down its path.

Not even a word, a gesture, a glance weighed with meaning.


II. Waking up.

Upon waking up, I realized it was a dream and I began to think.

Strange connections, reflections, cerebral impulses…

And afterwards I laughed.

My laughter became uncontainable, profound, full. Almost inconvenient.

It was a laughter so strong that tears filled my eyes and my sides moved.

You will ask why this reaction. That’s understandable.

Well, in my dream, Death treated anarchism (with the appropriate small “a”), exactly like all things and people.

Death acted and afterward continued to carry out its affairs.

Without conceding any privileges.

And while anarchism was dying without a burial, it continued the effort concerning its why and its debates, the comparisons, the propositions, morality, objective, resources, times, the interminable assembly, forms, and the whole catalogue of idiocies that, effectively, were not anything more than the same disease that was killing it.

Indignant, anarchism asked for solidarity from all places.

Anarchism, unsettled, was not able to resign itself: it was dying without anyone telling it, not even a sign or an indication, nothing.

And all the while all of this occurred. And no one cared.

Or better put, no one was interested.

So many years of history, so many battles, an honorable militancy on the global scene only to die under such banal circumstances, in the midst of general indifference.

And this guy who in my dream represented anarchism, he was livid.

And you won’t believe why.

In that extreme moment he had to get livid due to his unforeseen disappearance, for the manner in which his death was manifested: nothing epic, nothing heroic, no police frame-up or life sentence, nothing- or why no one was noticing its death.

Anarchism was dying anonymously, angry, amidst general indifference.

III. Epilogue

In these times, to dream with the anarchism, truly one has to overdo it at the bar or have ingested some natural or synthetic herb.

In any case when the mind has been freed and savagely separates itself from the civilizing control of reason, this makes the masks fall away and reveals, behind the dreams, the more inconfessable realities.

Friends, anarchy has died.

In general indifference.

It died from an excess of morality.

I know this now, it makes one laugh to the point of tears.

No one misses it.


Prowling Port Monkeys (ITS-Chile)



The contemptible sentiment par excellence. Mosaic of crystallized fears; mixture of herd stupidity and secular religiosity.

I mean the respect of collective beings; of the maleficent and deceptive metaphors that populate our social mythologies.

Stirner gives collective entities the characteristic name of “respectful personalities.” Moral idols, political idols, society idols, they float, like the specter of religion in Lucretius’ heavens; ghostly, vain, formidable.

Stendhal had already pointed out the respectful mania, the mother of all hypocrisies, guardian of all big shots and oligarchs.

The beatific social optimism of the crowd is only a form of that respectful mania. For the crowd, whatever kind of collectivity we might be dealing with – public administration, government body, the family – are always right against the individual. It is right for the very reason that it is a collectivity. The label “collective” suffices. The dogma of infallibility is thus secularized and socialized.

Oligarchs know this. They bank on the crowd’s capacity for respect, which gives an idea of the infinite, as does its stupidity.

The citizen is a respectful and irremediably religious animal; it now inclines to civic genuflection. It adores social fetishes just as the little dog Riquet in “Monsieur Bergeret à Paris” venerated doors, the table, and the kitchen chair.

Reproductive animal, the citizen venerates the fetish “marriage.” An electoral animal, he venerates that other fetish, the modern holy ampoule, the Civic Ballot Box.

With respect to crowds we oppose irony, pensive irony, of a cold smile and a clear eye.

Georges Palante

* Palante specialist Stéphane Beau notes that this piece, which appeared in the December 1903 issue of the anarchist revue “L’Ennemi du people” was signed only GP. There is thus no guarantee that it is actually from the pen of Georges Palante, but the ideas expressed in it, and the form of their expression, are so clearly Palantian, that there is no real question as to its attribution.

various kinds of misanthropes


“What we need is hatred. From it our ideas are born.” – Jean Genet


“Where, I ask you,” cries Verneuil, “is the mortal stupid enough in face of all the evidence to claim that all men are born equal, in law and in fact? It was left to a misanthropist like Rousseau to put forward such a paradox, since, being extremely weak, he wanted to pull down those to whose level he was unable to raise himself. What effrontery did it take, I ask you, for this pygmy four feet two inches tall to compare himself to the model of stature and strength whom nature had endowed with the strength and figure of a Hercules? Is that not the same as comparing a fly to an elephant?” – Sade

One of the most generic understandings of misanthropy has been that it arises from a kind of disappointed idealism. The misanthrope is not so much a hater, but rather a jilted lover, à la Molière’s Alceste, that infamous cantankerous inamorato, whose unfortunate attitude had sprung from loving not wisely but too well. It’s the kind of assessment you get from a shrink or a Marxist: of course it isn’t what it blatantly is, it must be something else… A starkly different conception of the misanthrope emerges in Nietzsche, who recognizes in this figure that which can never be contemporary, that which refuses the community of significance and rejects the pseudo-reality of cultural life. Instead, the misanthrope is an untimely figure “lost in the present, waiting for the past, and haunted by the future.” In Deleuzean terms they would be the paradox, that which refuses the common sense of the world and remains resigned as a witness that never experiences anything – that which is always there but never caught in either being or becoming. Rather like a photograph or a painting.

In spite of the frequency of people hating, it tends to be lucratively pathologized, usually under the umbrella of some sort of phobia. This is clearly stupid. People scarcely hate because they fear, but they seem to pathologically fear hate. And this fear is a deep one because when confronted with hatred, people are confronted with the limits of what constitutes being a person. As soon as there is doubt cast on this sacred definition, usually one furnished and policed by the state, a certain uneasiness arises. This is the result of the fact that one’s humanity, and certainly that of any imaginary Others, is nowhere near self-evident. The pathological and totalitarian insistence on the broadness of humanity has become the backbone of the contemporary academic and artistic economy. Anything that transgresses this imperialism of subjects is immediately stigmatized. Generally this is termed the unhuman, sometimes the demonic, likewise we might call it the perverse, either in Deleuze’s sense or in that of E.A. Poe.

Now deceased, but once professional human hater, Florence King, schematized misanthropes into two basic types. First was that of the naked intellect, who could passionately hate humanity and coolly vivisect it, relishing the surgery. “The misanthrope of the naked intellect hates people straight down the line with no exceptions and no regrets. Regarding mankind as hopeless, he tends to be apolitical. Regarding mankind as loathsome, he tends to be an apolitical arch-conservative, a purely temperamental stance whose sole purpose is hands-off apocalyptic revenge. Presented with Thomas Hobbes’s assessment, ‘The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,’ he replies: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” She contrasts this with the tender misanthrope, a Rousseau type who hates humanity too, but clings to optimism, sure he or she could love humanity if only encountering it in some ideal and uncorrupted variety. Real, authentic, people are all that is required for the cure. They project this onto the oppressed of all shapes, stripes and spasms whose pathos rescues them from the sickness of artifice. If only we eliminated inequality, they suggest, these real and good people could come to the fore. And the only way to reveal their real authentic goodness is to save them from the world of artifice and science, from all the discriminations that are piled up on their humpbacks and inflame their goiters. Without all of that art getting in the way, we could finally see that the derision cast on these creatures is only a vile prejudice and they are actually beautiful and tender souls. They are more beautiful than art, and they don’t even need to be cured of their ills by science because that would be caving to a horrible aesthetic prejudice masquerading as medical treatment. Misanthropes don’t care for misanthropes, but no one hates them more than these sentimental haters. In both cases, there is a type of idealism at play that is both fuelling and feeding off of disaffection with the species. In his look at Victorian-era misanthropes, Christopher Lane describes the idealistic variety succinctly:

The ensuing strain touches on psychology and philosophy. As truculent idealists, misanthropes are society’s conscience and scold. Like revolutionaries, they question what we expect from other people; unlike revolutionaries, they can’t stand other people. Dismissing the idea of harmonious coexistence, misanthropes scorn fellow feeling, to say nothing of loyalty, conformity, and altruism. Ignoring Enlightenment philosophers who claimed that humans rationally would pursue pleasurable activities, many nineteenth-century misanthropes realized they would experience more happiness spoiling other people’s.

Some, such as David Konstan, have argued that the misanthrope stands as the representative of an ideal that had been betrayed. We might say they are a kind of rigid formalism trapped in an organic body and left to the ridiculousness of a society in flux.

There are, of course, misanthropes who hate people because of the misery that people cause, either to their own species or to the non-human world at large. Such people may identify themselves as anti-natalists and volunteer themselves for extinction. But a more cynical misanthrope might suggest that their uncomfortable knitting together of delirious compassion and self-congratulatory loathing is little more than a reduction to absurdity of the most asinine elements of liberal mythology. And it is. Suicidal volunteerism is only one or two peanuts short of welfare advocacy. There is a kind of Buddhist misanthropy here – a condemnation of life because it is suffering. Dolorism, by contrast, affirms the misery of life. In the Occident, this was crystallized in two distinct brands of Christianity, one which extolled the virtues of misery and sought their increase to gain knowledge of divinity; and one that condemned suffering as an evil to be extinguished through acts of mercy. The history of aesthetics, with their enrichment of the capacity for intensification, can be squarely placed in the Dolorist camp, though, unlike suffering (actively or passively), few have ever acknowledged either the aesthetic or ethical superiority perpetuating misery. The history of art institutions, theory, and publicity have largely been founded on obscuring this fact and overcoding its residue in terms more amenable to our phenomenal fancies. But stripped of the fantasies encased in social signalling, it may be best to recall Dostoevski’s suggestion that the only thing societies have ever done is increase the variety of sensations to suffer.

There is also a middle road between what appears to be the Scylla and Charybdis of misanthropy. That’s when the idealistic misanthrope loses their idealism. This can either turn to a pure venting of spite and vitriol, the Timonist manner of misanthropy, or something more dejected. Although King insists on the passion of misanthropy, even among its coldest adherents, the hatred of the species can wear some out. Eventually, they might realize that people are not worth the bother of hating. And while relishing their misery may offer some tangential pleasure, unless you possess a profoundly sensitive palate, what you have to endure for that meagre taste of sadism isn’t quite worth it. Unlike pleasure, which is tediously finite and gets boring fast so it requires aesthetic laws to make it tenable, suffering seems more genuinely infinite: there never seems to be nearly enough of it and it can be exponentially increased.

What resulted from Rousseauist misanthropy was people going on crying jags in the woods and then writing about it to their friends. Today they use social media or go to political protests. Unfortunately, many of them also attend art schools. Even more unfortunately, artist-run centres and state funding seem to exist to foist them on the public. To continue with King: “Only a tender misanthrope could screw up the world as Rousseau did. The misanthrope of the naked intellect, disdaining such categories as real people on the grounds that if indeed they exist, they must be even worse than the other kind, has no wish to liberate the repressions of a species that he already finds intolerable. If he must share the world with people, he wants them to be as decorous and self-controlled as possible. He is thus an Age of Reason unto himself who, for purely selfish motives, places humanity on a pedestal and holds it to the highest standard of behavior. Ironically or not, the misanthrope of the naked intellect is the true friend of mankind.” Driving the irony home, she notes that “Madame Bovary, the work of a misanthrope, is the most user-friendly novel ever written.”

In practice, one might argue, that whether you love or hate really does not make any difference. Or, to paraphrase a dead Irishman, there are two kinds of people who become socialists: those who hate the poor and those who love them. The Rousseauists have, for the moment at least, won out on monopolizing hatred, doing so not too wisely but too well. Soon, any other variety of loathing untempered by the hypocritical sadism of compassion mongering and moral blackmail may indeed be illegal.