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Engels once even recalled at how they were "great friends" (Duzbrüder).[19] In November 1844, Engels wrote a letter to Karl Marx in which he first

Look at Stirner, look at him, the peaceful enemy of all constraint.

For the moment, he is still drinking beer,

Soon he will be drinking blood as though it were water.

When others cry savagely "down with the kings"

Stirner immediately supplements "down with the laws also."

Stirner full of dignity proclaims;

You bend your willpower and you dare to call yourselves free.

You become accustomed to slavery

Down with dogmatism, down with law.[75]

Engels once even recalled at how they were "great friends" (Duzbrüder).Duzbrüder).[19] In November 1844, Engels wrote a letter to Karl Marx in which he first reported a visit to Moses Hess in Cologne and then went on to note that during this visit Hess had given him a press copy of a new book by Stirner, The Ego and Its Own. In his letter to Marx, Engels promised to send a copy of the book to him, for it certainly deserved their attention as Stirner "had obviously, among the 'Free Ones', the most talent, independence and diligence".[19] To begin with, Engels was enthusiastic about the book and expressed his opinions freely in letters to Marx:

[76]

Later, Marx and Engels wrote a major criticism of Stirner's work. The number of pages Marx and Engels

Later, Marx and Engels wrote a major criticism of Stirner's work. The number of pages Marx and Engels devote to attacking Stirner in the unexpurgated text of The German Ideology exceeds the total of Stirner's written works.[77] In the book Stirner is derided as Sankt Max (Saint Max) and as Sancho (a reference to Cervantes’ Sancho Panza). As Isaiah Berlin has described it, Stirner "is pursued through five hundred pages of heavy-handed mockery and insult".[78] The book was written in 1845–1846, but it was not published until 1932. Marx's lengthy ferocious polemic against Stirner has since been considered an important turning point in Marx's intellectual development from idealism to materialism. It has been argued that historical materialism was Marx's method of reconciling communism with a Stirnerite rejection of morality.[47][48][49]

The ideas of Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche have often been compared and many authors have discussed apparent similarities in their writings, sometimes raising the question of influence.[79] During the early years of Nietzsche's emergence as a well-known figure in Germany, the only thinker discussed in connection with his ideas more often than Stirner was Arthur Schopenhauer.[80] It is certain that Nietzsche read about The Ego and Its Own, which was mentioned in Friedrich Albert Lange's History of Materialism and Karl Robert Eduard von Hartmann's Philosophy of the Unconscious, both of which Nietzsche knew well.[81] However, there is no indication that he actually read it as no mention of Stirner is known to exist anywhere in Nietzsche's publications, papers or correspondence.[82] In 2002, a biographical discovery revealed it is probable that Nietzsche had encountered Stirner's ideas before he read Hartmann and Lange in October 1865, when he met with Eduard Mushacke, an old friend of Stirner's during the 1840s.[83]

As soon as Nietzsche's work began to reach a wider audience, the question of whether he owed a debt of influence to Stirner was raised. As early as 1891 when Nietzsche was still alive, though incapacitated by mental illness, Hartmann went so far as to suggest that he had plagiarized Stirner.[84] By the turn of the century, the belief that Nietzsche had been influenced by Stirner was so widespread that it became something of a commonplace at least in Germany, prompting one observer to note in 1907 that "Stirner's influence in modern Germany has assumed astonishing proportions, and moves in

As soon as Nietzsche's work began to reach a wider audience, the question of whether he owed a debt of influence to Stirner was raised. As early as 1891 when Nietzsche was still alive, though incapacitated by mental illness, Hartmann went so far as to suggest that he had plagiarized Stirner.[84] By the turn of the century, the belief that Nietzsche had been influenced by Stirner was so widespread that it became something of a commonplace at least in Germany, prompting one observer to note in 1907 that "Stirner's influence in modern Germany has assumed astonishing proportions, and moves in general parallel with that of Nietzsche. The two thinkers are regarded as exponents of essentially the same philosophy".[85]

From the beginning of what was characterized as "great debate"[86] regarding Stirner's possible positive influence on Nietzsche, serious problems with the idea were nonetheless noted.[87] By the middle of the 20th century, if Stirner was mentioned at all in works on Nietzsche, the idea of influence was often dismissed outright or abandoned as unanswerable.[88] However, the idea that Nietzsche was influenced in some way by Stirner continues to attract a significant minority, perhaps because it seems necessary to explain the oft-noted (though arguably superficial) similarities in their writings.[89] In any case, the most significant problems with the theory of possible Stirner influence on Nietzsche are not limited to the difficulty in establishing whether the one man knew of or read the other. They also consist in determining if Stirner in particular might have been a meaningful influence on a man as widely read as Nietzsche.[90]

The individualist anarchist orientation of Rudolf Steiner's early philosophy—before he turned to theosophy around 1900—has strong parallels to and was admittedly influenced by Stirner's conception of the ego, for which Steiner claimed to have provided a philosophical foundation.[91]

See also