Benjamin Tucker

Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (/ˈtʌkər/; April 17, 1854 – June 22, 1939) was a 19th-century proponent of American individualist anarchism which he called "unterrified Jeffersonianism"[1] and editor and publisher of the individualist anarchist periodical Liberty.

Benjamin Tucker
BornApril 17, 1854
South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, United States
DiedJune 22, 1939 (aged 85)
OccupationEditor, publisher, writer
SubjectPolitical philosophy

Early life and influences

Tucker at a young age

Tucker made his editorial debut in libertarian circles in 1876, when Heywood published Tucker's English translation of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's classic work What is Property?. In 1877, Tucker published his first original journal, Radical Review, which ran for only four issues. From August 1881 to April 1908, he published the periodical Liberty, "widely considered to be the finest individualist-anarchist periodical ever issued in the English language".[2] In 1892, he moved Liberty from Boston to New York.


Tucker said that he became an anarchist at the age of 18.[3] Tucker's contribution to American individualist anarchism was as much through his publishing as his own writing. Tucker was also the first to publish an English translation of Max Stirner's The Ego and Its Own , which Tucker claimed was his proudest accomplishment. Tucker also translated Mikhail Bakunin's book God and the State.[4] In the anarchist periodical Liberty, he published the original work of Stephen Pearl Andrews, Joshua K. Ingalls, Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Dyer Lum, Victor Yarros and Lillian Harman (daughter of the free love anarchist Moses Harman) as well as his own writing.

According to Frank Brooks, an historian of American individualist anarchism, it is easy to misunderstand Tucker's claim to socialism. Before Marxists established a hegemony over definitions of socialism, "the term socialism was a broad concept". Tucker as well as most of the writers and readers of Liberty understood socialism to refer to one or more of various theories aimed at solving "the labor problem" through radical changes in the capitalist economy. Descriptions of the problem, explanations of its causes and proposed solutions (for example, abolition of private property, cooperatives, state-ownership and so on) varied among socialist philosophies.[5]

However, not all modern economists believe Marxists established a hegemony over definitions of socialism. As the modern economist Jim Stanford states:

But capitalism is not the only economic system which relies on markets. Pre-capitalist economies also had markets-where producers could sell excess supplies of agricultural goods or handicrafts, and where exotic commodities (like spices or fabrics) from far-off lands could be purchased. Most forms of socialism also rely heavily on markets to distribute end products and even, in some cases, to organize investment and production. So markets are not unique to capitalism, and there is nothing inherently capitalist about a market.[6]

Karl Marx acknowledged the theory of market socialism, though he strongly disagreed with the theory, especially the theory of Proudhon who happened to be an influence on Tucker's individualist anarchism.[7]

According to James J. Martin, a historian on individualist anarchism, the individualist anarchists (including the views of Tucker and his support for the labor theory of value) made the individualist anarchists and their form of American mutualism an alternative to both capitalism and Marxism.[8]

Tucker said socialism was the claim that "labor should be put in possession of its own"[9] while holding that what "state socialism" and "anarchistic socialism" had in common was the labor theory of value.[10] However, "[i]nstead of asserting, as did..." other "....anarchists, that common ownership was the key to eroding differences of economic power" and appealing to social solidarity, Tucker's individualist anarchism advocated distribution of property in an undistorted natural market as a mediator of egoistic impulses and a source of social stability, saying:[11]

The fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labour, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labour by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labour. . . . And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege. . . every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers . . . What Anarchistic-Socialism aims to abolish is usury . . . it wants to deprive capital of its reward.[12]

Tucker first favored a natural rights philosophy in which an individual had a right to own the fruits of his labor; then he abandoned it in favor of "egoism" (influenced by Max Stirner) in which he believed that only the "right of might" exists, until overridden by contract. He objected to all forms of communism, believing that even a stateless communist society must encroach upon the liberty of individuals:[13]

He denounced Marx as the representative of "the principle of authority which we live to combat." He thought Proudhon the superior theorist and the real champion of freedom. "Marx would nationalize the productive and distributive forces; Proudhon would individualize and associate them."[14]

Tucker connected his economic views which included his opposition to non-labor income in the form of profit, interest and rent with those of Marx, Proudhon and Josiah Warren in the following form:

The economic principles of Modern Socialism are a logical deduction from the principle laid down by Adam Smith in the early chapters of his "Wealth of Nations," – namely, that labor is the true measure of price...Half a century or more after Smith enunciated the principle above stated, Socialism picked it up where he had dropped it, and in following it to its logical conclusions, made it the basis of a new economic philosophy...This seems to have been done independently by three different men, of three different nationalities, in three different languages: Josiah Warren, an American; Pierre J. Proudhon, a Frenchman; Karl Marx, a German Jew...That the work of this interesting trio should have been done so nearly simultaneously would seem to indicate that Socialism was in the air, and that the time was ripe and the conditions favorable for the appearance of this new school of thought. So far as priority of time is concerned, the credit seems to belong to Warren, the American, – a fact which should be noted by the stump orators who are so fond of declaiming against Socialism as an imported article.[15]


Liberty was a 19th-century anarchist periodical published in the United States by Tucker from August 1881 to April 1908. The periodical was instrumental in developing and formalizing the individualist anarchist philosophy through publishing essays and serving as a format for debate. Beside Tucker, contributors also included Lysander Spooner, Gertrude Kelly, Auberon Herbert, Dyer Lum, Joshua K. Ingalls, John Henry Mackay, Victor Yarros, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, James L. Walker, J. William Lloyd, Florence Finch Kelly, Voltairine de Cleyre, Steven T. Byington, John Beverley Robinson, Jo Labadie, Lillian Harman and Henry Appleton. Included in its masthead is a quote from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon saying that liberty is "Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order".

Four monopolies

Tucker argued that the poor condition of American workers resulted from four legal monopolies based in authority:

  1. The money monopoly
  2. The land monopoly
  3. Tariffs
  4. Patents

For several decades, his focus became the state's economic control of how trade could take place, and what currency counted as legitimate. He saw interest and profit as a form of exploitation, made possible by the banking monopoly, which was in turn maintained through coercion and invasion. Tucker called any such interest and profit "usury" and he saw it as the basis of the oppression of the workers. In his words, "interest is theft, Rent Robbery, and Profit Only Another Name for Plunder".[16] Tucker believed that usury was immoral, but he upheld the right of all people to engage in immoral contracts:

Liberty, therefore, must defend the right of individuals to make contracts involving usury, rum, marriage, prostitution, and many other things which are believed to be wrong in principle and opposed to human well-being. The right to do wrong involves the essence of all rights.[17]

Tucker asserted that anarchism would become meaningless unless "it includes the liberty of the individual to control his product or whatever his product has brought him through exchange in a free market – that is, private property".

Land monopoly

Tucker acknowledged that "anything is a product upon which human labor has been expended", but he would not recognize full property rights to labored-upon land:

It should be noted, however, that in the case of land, or of any other material the supply of which is so limited that all cannot hold it in unlimited quantities, Anarchism undertakes to protect no titles except such as are based upon actual occupancy and use.[18]

Tucker opposed granting title to land that was not in use, arguing that an individual should use land continually in order to retain exclusive right to it, believing that if this practice were not followed, there was a land monopoly.

Money and banking monopoly

Tucker also opposed state protection of the banking monopoly, i.e. the requirement that one must obtain a charter to engage in the business of banking. He hoped to raise wages by deregulating the banking industry, reasoning that competition in banking would drive down interest rates and stimulate enterprise. Tucker believed this would decrease the proportion of individuals seeking employment and wages would be driven up by competing employers, saying: "Thus, the same blow that strikes interest down will send wages up".[19]

Tucker did not oppose individuals being employed by others, but due to his interpretation of the labor theory of value he believed that in the present economy individuals do not receive a wage that fully compensates them for their labor. He wrote that if the four "monopolies" were ended, "it will make no difference whether men work for themselves, or are employed, or employ others. In any case they can get nothing but that wages for their labor which free competition determines".[20]

Tariffs and patents

Tucker opposed protectionism, believing that tariffs caused high prices by preventing national producers from having to compete with foreign competitors. He believed that free trade would help keep prices low and therefore would assist laborers in receiving their "natural wage". Tucker did not believe in intellectual property rights in the form of patents on the grounds that patents and copyrights protect something which cannot rightfully be held as property. He wrote that the basis for property is "the fact that it is impossible in the nature of things for concrete objects to be used in different places at the same time".[21] Property in concrete things is "socially necessary" "since successful society rests on individual initiative, [it is necessary] to protect the individual creator in the use of his concrete creations by forbidding others to use them without his consent".

Because ideas are not concrete things, they should not be held and protected as property. Ideas can be used in different places at the same time and so their use should not be restricted by patents.[22] This was a source of conflict with the philosophy of fellow individualist Lysander Spooner, who saw ideas as the product of "intellectual labor" and therefore private property.[23]

Victor Yarros on Tucker

According to Victor Yarros:

He [Tucker] opposed savagely any and all reform movements that had paternalistic aims, and looked to the state for aid and fulfillment...For the same reason, consistent, unrelenting opposition to compulsion, he combated "populism," "greenbackism," the single-tax movement, and all forms of socialism and communism. He denounced and exposed Johann Most, the editor of Freiheit, the anarchist-communist organ. The end, he declared, could never justify the means, if the means were intrinsically immoral – and force, by whomsoever used, was immoral except as a means of preventing or punishing aggression.[24]

Attitude towards unions

Tucker rejected the legislative programs of labor unions, laws imposing a short day, minimum wage laws, forcing businesses to provide insurance to employees and compulsory pension systems.[24] He believed instead that strikes should be organized by free workers rather than by bureaucratic union officials and organizations. He argued that "strikes, whenever and wherever inaugurated, deserve encouragement from all the friends of labour. . . They show that people are beginning to know their rights, and knowing, dare to maintain them".[25] Furthermore, "as an awakening agent, as an agitating force, the beneficent influence of a strike is immeasurable. . . with our present economic system almost every strike is just. For what is justice in production and distribution? That labour, which creates all, shall have all".[26]

Anarchist society

Tucker envisioned an individualist anarchist society as "each man reaping the fruits of his labour and no man able to live in idleness on an income from capital....become[ing] a great hive of Anarchistic workers, prosperous and free individuals [combining] to carry on their production and distribution on the cost principle"[27] rather than a bureaucratic organization of workers organized into rank and file unions. However, he did hold a genuine appreciation for labor unions (which he called "trades-union socialism") and saw it as "an intelligent and self-governing socialism", saying: "[They] promise the coming substitution of industrial socialism for usurping legislative mobism".[28]

In Tucker's individualist anarchism, governments would exist consisting of any belief and in any shape, or form, but the governments would be supported by voluntary taxation and those who chose not to pay the taxes would not get the benefits or protection of the voluntary government. Historian James Martin states:

The abolition of compulsory taxation would mean the abolition of the state as well, Tucker asserted, and the form of society succeeding it would be on the line of a voluntary defensive institution... There were two methods of government...The other was the anarchist method of "leadership", inducing the individual to the "goal of an ideal civilization" through persuasion and "attraction"...Two aims of anarchist activity, the abolition of compulsory taxation and the abolition of legally-protected money and land monopolies, form the main theme of his critical writing.[29]

Private defense forces

Tucker did not have a utopian vision of anarchy, where individuals would not coerce others.[24] He advocated that liberty and property be defended by private institutions. Opposing the monopoly of the state in providing security, he advocated a free market of competing defense providers, saying that "defense is a service like any other service; ... it is labor both useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity, subject to the law of supply and demand".[30]

He said that anarchism "does not exclude prisons, officials, military, or other symbols of force. It merely demands that non-invasive men shall not be made the victims of such force. Anarchism is not the reign of love, but the reign of justice. It does not signify the abolition of force-symbols but the application of force to real invaders".[31] Tucker expressed that the market-based providers of security would offer protection of land that was being used, and would not offer assistance to those attempting to collect rent:

"The land for the people" . . . means the protection by . . . voluntary associations for the maintenance of justice . . . of all people who desire to cultivate land in possession of whatever land they personally cultivate . . . and the positive refusal of the protecting power to lend its aid to the collection of any rent, whatsoever.[32]

Embrace of egoism

Tucker abandoned natural rights positions and converted to Max Stirner's egoist anarchism. Rejecting the idea of moral rights, Tucker said that there were only two rights, "the right of might" and "the right of contract". After converting to egoist individualism, he said: "In times was my habit to talk glibly of the right of man to land. It was a bad habit, and I long ago sloughed it off. Man's only right to land is his might over it. If his neighbor is mightier than he and takes the land from him, then the land is his neighbor's, until the latter is dispossessed by one mightier still.".[33] In adopting Stirnerite egoism in 1886, Tucker rejected natural rights which had long been considered the foundation of libertarianism.

This rejection galvanized the movement into fierce debates, with the natural rights proponents accusing the egoists of destroying libertarianism itself. So bitter was the conflict that a number of natural rights proponents withdrew from the pages of Liberty in protest even though they had hitherto been among its frequent contributors. Thereafter, Liberty championed egoism although its general content did not change significantly.[34] This led to a split in American individualism between the growing number of egoists and the contemporary Spoonerian "Natural Lawyers". Tucker came to hold the position that no rights exist until they are created by contract. This led him to controversial positions such as claiming that infants had no rights and were the property of their parents because they did not have the ability to contract. He said that a person, who physically tries to stop a mother from throwing her "baby into the fire", should be punished for violating her property rights. He said that children would shed their status as property when they became old enough to contract "to buy or sell a house" for example, noting that the precocity varies by age and would be determined by a jury in the case of a complaint.[35]

Tucker also came to believe that aggression towards others was justifiable if doing so led to a greater decrease in "aggregate pain" than refraining from doing so, saying:

The ultimate end of human endeavor is the minimum of pain. We aim to decrease invasion only because, as a rule, invasion increases the total of pain (meaning, of course, pain suffered by the ego, whether directly or through sympathy with others). But it is precisely my contention that this rule, despite the immense importance which I place upon it, is not absolute; that, on the contrary, there are exceptional cases where invasion – that is, coercion of the non-invasive – lessens the aggregate pain. Therefore coercion of the non-invasive, when justifiable at all, is to be justified on the ground that it secures, not a minimum of invasion, but a minimum of pain. . . . [T]o me [it is] axiomatic – that the ultimate end is the minimum of pain[36]

Tucker claimed that ownership in land is legitimately transferred through force unless contracted otherwise.[37] However, he said he believed that individuals would come to the realization that "equal liberty" and "occupancy and use" doctrines were "generally trustworthy guiding principle of action" and as a result they would likely find it in their interests to contract with each other to refrain from infringing upon equal liberty and from protecting land that was not in use.[38] Though he believed that non-invasion and "occupancy and use as the title to land" were general rules that people would find in their own interests to create through contract, Tucker said that these rules "must be sometimes trodden underfoot".[39]

Later life

In 1906, he opened Tucker's Unique Book Shop in New York City promoting "Egoism in Philosophy, Anarchism in Politics, Iconoclasm in Art". In 1908, a fire destroyed Tucker's uninsured printing equipment and his 30-year stock of books and pamphlets. Tucker's lover Pearl Johnson, 25 years his junior, was pregnant with their daughter Oriole Tucker. Six weeks after his daughter's birth, Tucker closed both Liberty and the book shop and retired with his family to France. In 1913, he came out of retirement for two years to contribute articles and letters to The New Freewoman which he called "the most important publication in existence".

Later, Tucker became much more pessimistic about the prospects for anarchism. In 1926, Vanguard Press published a selection of his writings entitled Individual Liberty in which Tucker added a postscript[40] to "State Socialism and Anarchism",[41] which stated:

Forty years ago, when the foregoing essay was written, the denial of competition had not yet effected the enormous concentration of wealth that now so gravely threatens social order. It was not yet too late to stem the current of accumulation by a reversal of the policy of monopoly. The Anarchistic remedy was still applicable.

Furthermore, Tucker argued:

Today the way is not so clear. The four monopolies, unhindered, have made possible the modern development of the trust, and the trust is now a monster which I fear, even the freest banking, could it be instituted, would be unable to destroy. ... If this be true, then monopoly, which can be controlled permanently only for economic forces, has passed for the moment beyond their reach, and must be grappled with for a time solely by forces political or revolutionary. Until measures of forcible confiscation, through the State or in defiance of it, shall have abolished the concentrations that monopoly has created, the economic solution proposed by Anarchism and outlined in the forgoing pages – and there is no other solution... [It] will remain a thing to be taught to the rising generation, that conditions may be favorable to its application after the great leveling. But education is a slow process, and may not come too quickly. Anarchists who endeavor to hasten it by joining in the propaganda of State Socialism or revolution make a sad mistake indeed. They help to so force the march of events that the people will not have time to find out, by the study of their experience, that their troubles have been due to the rejection of competition.

By 1930, Tucker had concluded that centralization and advancing technology had doomed both anarchy and civilization:

The matter of my famous 'Postscript' now sinks into insignificance; the insurmountable obstacle to the realization of Anarchy is no longer the power of the trusts, but the indisputable fact that our civilization is in its death throes. We may last a couple of centuries yet; on the other hand, a decade may precipitate our finish. ... The dark ages sure enough. The Monster, Mechanism, is devouring mankind.[42]

According to individualist anarchist historian James J. Martin, when referring to the world scene of the mid-1930s in private correspondence Tucker wrote that "Capitalism is at least tolerable, which cannot be said of Socialism or Communism" and went on to observe that "under any of these regimes a sufficiently shrewd man can feather his nest".[43] Susan Love Brown claims that this unpublished private letter, which does not distinguish between the anarchist socialism Tucker advocated and the state socialism he criticized, served in "providing the shift further illuminated in the 1970s by anarcho-capitalists".[44] However, according to the editors of the 1970 edition of Martin's book Men Against the State the editors state on the back cover they believed a "new generation has prompted the reissuance of this book",[45] pointing to renewed interest in the views of Tucker and the other individualst anarchists and their market socialism[46] rather than capitalism or anarcho-capitalism.

Tucker died in Monaco in 1939 in the company of his family. His daughter Oriole reported:

Father's attitude towards communism never changed one whit, nor about religion.... In his last months he called in the French housekeeper. 'I want her,' he said, 'to be a witness that on my death bed I'm not recanting. I do not believe in God![47]

In popular culture

In the alternate history novel The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith as part of the North American Confederacy Series in which the United States becomes a libertarian state after a successful Whiskey Rebellion and the overthrowing and execution of George Washington by firing squad for treason in 1794, Tucker served as the 17th President of the North American Confederacy from 1892 to 1912.


  1. ^ McCarthy, Daniel (2010-01-01) A Fistful of Dynamite, The American Conservative
  2. ^ McElroy, Wendy (Winter 1998). "Benjamin Tucker, Liberty, and Individualist Anarchism" (PDF). The Independent Review. II (3): 421.
  3. ^ Symes, Lillian and Clement, Travers. Rebel America: The Story of Social Revolt in the United States. Harper & Brothers Publishers. 1934. p. 156
  4. ^ at
  5. ^ Brooks, Frank H. 1994. The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881–1908). Transaction Publishers. p. 75.
  6. ^ Stanford, Jim. Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism. Ann Arbor: MI., Pluto Press. 2008. p. 36.
  7. ^ "Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx
  8. ^ James J. Martin, Men Against the State. Ralph Myles Publisher Inc. 1970. p. viii, ix, 209.
  9. ^ Tucker, Benjamin. "State Socialism and Anarchism," ¶ 1.
  10. ^ Brown, Susan Love. 1997. "The Free Market as Salvation from Government". In Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture. Berg Publishers. p. 107.
  11. ^ Freeden, Michael. 1996. Ideologies and Political Theory: A Conceptual Approach. Oxford University Press. p. 276.
  12. ^ [Instead of a Book, p. 404]
  13. ^ Madison, Charles A. Anarchism in the United States. Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol 6, No 1, January 1945, p. 53.
  14. ^ Richman, Sheldon, Libertarian Left, The American Conservative (March 2011)
  15. ^ Individual Liberty by Benjamin Tucker
  16. ^ Martin Blatt, Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty. Coughlin, Hamilton and Sullivan (eds.), p. 29
  17. ^ Benjamin R. Tucker, "Right and Individual Rights," Liberty I (January 7, 1882): p. 3.
  18. ^ Tucker, Benjamin, "Instead of a Book", p. 61, footnote.
  19. ^ [1] Libertarian Heritage No. 23. ISSN 0959-566X ISBN 1-85637-549-8, Libertarian Alliance, 2002.
  20. ^ Tucker, Benjamin. "Solutions of the Labor Problem," in Instead of a Book, p. 475.
  21. ^ "The Attitude of Anarchism toward Industrial Combinations"
  22. ^ Tucker, Benjamin: The Attitude of Anarchism toward Industrial Combinations
  23. ^ Spooner, Lysander. The Law of Intellectual Property: or an essay on the right of authors and inventors to a perpetual property in their ideas. Archived May 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Chapter 1, Section VI.
  24. ^ a b c Victor Yarros (1936). "Philosophical Anarchism: Its Rise, Decline, and Eclipse". The American Journal of Sociology. 41 (4): 470–83. doi:10.1086/217188.
  25. ^ Benjamin Tucker, Liberty, 15/4/1881
  26. ^ Benjamin Tucker, Liberty, #19, 1882
  27. ^ The Individualist Anarchists, p. 276
  28. ^ The Individualist Anarchists, pp. 283–284
  29. ^ Martin, James. Men Against The State. Ralph Myles Publisher, Inc. Colorado Springs. 1970. p. 216, 218.
  30. ^ "On Picket Duty." Liberty. July 30, 1887; 4, 26. p4.
  31. ^ Tucker, Benjamin. Liberty October 19, 1891.
  32. ^ Quoted by Martin Blatt, Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty, Coughlin, Hamilton and Sullivan (eds.), p. 299
  33. ^ Tucker, Instead of a Book, p. 350
  34. ^ Wendy Mcelroy. "Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order"
  35. ^ McElroy, Wendy. 2003. The Debates of Liberty. Lexington Books. pp. 77–79
  36. ^ "Land Tenure Again." Liberty. October 19, 1895; 11, 12; p. 3.
  37. ^ Benjamin R. Tucker, "Response to 'Rights,' by William Hansen," Liberty, December 31, 1892; pp. 9, 18; p. 1
  38. ^ Benjamin R. Tucker, "The Two Conceptions of Equal Freedom," Liberty, April 6, 1895; 10, 24; p. 4
  39. ^ Tucker, "Land Tenure Again"
  40. ^ a postscript
  41. ^ "State Socialism and Anarchism"
  42. ^ Letter to Clarence Lee Swartz, July 22, 1930. In Joseph Ishill (ed.), Free Vistas: A Libertarian Outlook on Life and Letters, II, 300–301. Quoted in James J. Martin, Men Against the State, 1953:260.
  43. ^ James J. Martin, Men Against the State, 1970:275, quoting from the Baskette Collection (1933–1935)
  44. ^ Brown, Susan L., The Free Market as Salvation from Government, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, p. 108
  45. ^ James J. Martin, Men Against the State, 1970: description on back cover
  46. ^ James J. Martin, Men Against the State, 1970: Introduction ix,
  47. ^ Paul Avrich (1996). "Oriole Tucker Riché". Anarchist Voices. Princeton University Press. p. 11. ISBN 0-691-04494-5.

Further reading

External links

Anarchism and capitalism

Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. The nature of capitalism is a polarizing issue among anarchists. Capitalism is generally considered by scholars to be an economic system that includes private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit or income, the accumulation of capital, competitive markets, voluntary exchange, wage labor and has generally been opposed by anarchists historically. Capitalism is variously defined by sources and there is no general consensus among scholars on the definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category. The designation is applied to a variety of historical cases, varying in time, geography, politics and culture.Most anarchist commentators do not consider anarcho-capitalism as a legitimate form of anarchism due to perceived coercive characteristics of capitalism. In particular, they argue that certain capitalist transactions are not voluntary and that maintaining the class structure of a capitalist society requires coercion in violation of anarchist principles. Anarcho-capitalists argue that capitalism is the absence of coercion and therefore fully compatible with the philosophy of anarchism. Furthermore, they claim that an effort to put a stop to what they consider voluntary hierarchy is inconsistent with the philosophical tradition of freedom present in anarchist thought.

Anarchist Portraits

Anarchist Portraits is a 1990 history book by Paul Avrich about the lives and personalities of multiple prominent and inconspicuous anarchists.

Mikhail Bakunin

Peter Kropotkin

Chummy Fleming

Sergei Nechaev

Sacco and Vanzetti

Nestor Makhno


Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Anatoli Zelhezniakov

Mollie Steimer

Gustav Landauer

Ricardo Flores Magon

Paul Brousse

Charles Mowbray

Benjamin Tucker


Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and to authoritarian government. Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.

Benjamin T. Eames

Benjamin Tucker Eames (June 4, 1818 – October 6, 1901) was a U.S. Representative from Rhode Island.

Born in Dedham, Massachusetts, Eames attended the common schools of Providence, Rhode Island, and academies in Massachusetts and Connecticut. He was employed as a bookkeeper for several years. He graduated from Yale College in 1843, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He engaged as a teacher in the academy at North Attleboro, studying law at the same time. He was admitted to the bar in 1845 and commenced practice in Providence, Rhode Island. He served as recording and reading clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives 1845-1850, and was a member of the Rhode Island Senate 1854-1857, 1863, and again in 1864. He was one of the commissioners on the revision of the public laws of the State of Rhode Island in 1857. He served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1859, 1860, 1868, and 1869.

Eames was elected as a Republican to the Forty-second and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1871 – March 4, 1879). He served as chairman of the Committee on Private Land Claims (Forty-third Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination. He was again a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives 1879-1881, and served again in the Rhode Island Senate in 1884 and 1885. He died in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, October 6, 1901. He was interred in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

Benjamin Tucker Tanner

Benjamin Tucker Tanner (December 25, 1835 – January 14, 1923) was an African American clergyman and editor. He served as a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1886, and founded the Christian Recorder (see Early American Methodist newspapers), an important early African American newspaper.

He was born to Hugh and Isabella Tanner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He studied for five years at Avery College, paying his expenses by working as a barber. As a student in Pittsburgh, his classmates included Jeremiah A. Brown, Thomas Morris Chester, and James T. Bradford.He then studied for three years at Western Theological Seminary. At twenty five he was appointed to Sacramento by Bishop Daniel A. Payne, but he could not afford to go, so he moved to Washington, D. C. where he organized a Sunday School for freed slaves in the Navy Yard with the permission of Admiral John A. Dahlgren. In 1863 he became pastor of a church in Georgetown. In 1866 he moved to a large church in Baltimore. Shortly later he was appointed principal of the Annual Conference School at Fredericktown, Maryland, and he organized a common school under the auspices of the Freedmen's Bureau. In 1868 he was elected chief secretary of the general conference of the AME church and founded and became editor of the church newspaper, the Christian Recorder, a role he served for 16 years. In 1870 he was given an A. M. degree by Avery College and in the 1870s he was given an honorary D. D. by Wilberforce University. In 1884 he was made editor of the A. M. E. Review, and he was the author of a number of books and pamphlets in the 1870s and 1880s, including: 'Apology for African Methodism;' 'The Negro's Origin; and Is He Cursed of God,' 'An Outline of our History and Government;' 'The Negro, African and American.'In 1889, Tanner was focused on missionary work in Haiti and William B. Derrick was serving as mission secretary. In August, it was found that the mission treasury was empty. AME leader, Daniel A. Payne demanded of Derrick what had happened to the funds. Derrick had been giving money to the Haitian mission in cash, which was not in itself a cause of trouble, but may have led to misuse of the funds. Tanner was hesitant to settle the dispute, but Derrick improved his place in the view of the AME leaders over the next few years and the pair reconciled.He was a participant in the March 5, 1897 meeting to celebrate the memory of Frederick Douglass which founded the American Negro Academy led by Alexander Crummell. Until 1905, he was a participating member of this first major African American learned society, which was led by scholars, activist, editors, and bishops like Tanner. It refuted racist scholarship, promoted black claims to individual, social, and political equality, and studied the history and sociology of African American life. Tanner was the father of artist Henry Ossawa Tanner and the grandfather of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander. Tanner died on January 14, 1923 in Washington D.C.

Cost the limit of price

Cost the limit of price was a maxim coined by Josiah Warren, indicating a (prescriptive) version of the labor theory of value. Warren maintained that the just compensation for labor (or for its product) could only be an equivalent amount of labor (or a product embodying an equivalent amount). Thus, profit, rent, and interest were considered unjust economic arrangements. As Samuel Edward Konkin III put it, "the labor theory of value recognizes no distinction between profit and plunder."In keeping with the tradition of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, the "cost" of labor is considered to be the subjective cost; i.e., the amount of suffering involved in it.

Egoist anarchism

Egoist anarchism is a school of anarchist thought that originated in the philosophy of Max Stirner, a 19th-century existentialist philosopher whose "name appears with familiar regularity in historically orientated surveys of anarchist thought as one of the earliest and best known exponents of individualist anarchism".

Free-market anarchism

Free-market anarchism, or market anarchism, includes several branches of anarchism that advocate an economic system based on voluntary market interactions without the involvement of the state. A branch of market anarchism is left-wing market anarchism such as mutualists or Gary Chartier and Kevin Carson, who consider themselves anti-capitalists and self identify as part of the socialist movement.On the other hand, people who identify as anarcho-capitalists stress the legitimacy and priority of private property, describing it as an integral component of individual rights and a free market economy. There is a strong current within anarchism which does not consider that anarcho-capitalism can be considered a part of the anarchist movement because anarchism has historically been an anti-capitalist movement and for definitional reasons which see anarchism incompatible with capitalist forms. Thus, the term may be used to refer to diverse economic and political concepts, such as those proposed by anarchist libertarian socialists like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Benjamin Tucker or alternatively anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard and David D. Friedman.


Geolibertarianism is a political and economic ideology that integrates libertarianism with Georgism (alternatively geoism or geonomics), most often associated with left-libertarianism or the radical center.Geolibertarians hold that geographical space and raw natural resources—any assets that qualify as land by economic definition—are rivalrous goods to be considered common property or more accurately unowned, which all individuals share an equal human right to access, not capital wealth to be privatized fully and absolutely. Therefore, landholders must pay compensation according to the rental value decided by the free market, absent any improvements, to the community for the civil right of usufruct (that is, legally recognized exclusive possession with restrictions on property abuse) or otherwise fee simple title with no such restrictions. Ideally, the taxing of a site would be administered only after it has been determined that the privately captured economic rent from the land exceeds the title-holder's equal share of total land value in the jurisdiction. On this proposal, rent is collected not for the mere occupancy or use of land as neither the community nor the state rightfully owns the commons, but rather as an objectively assessed indemnity due for the legal right to exclude others from that land. Some geolibertarians also support Pigovian taxes on pollution and severance taxes to regulate natural resource depletion and compensatory fees with ancillary positive environmental effects on activities which negatively impact land values. They endorse the standard right-libertarian view that each individual is naturally entitled to the fruits of their labor as exclusive private property as opposed to produced goods being owned collectively by society or by the government acting to represent society, and that a person's "labor, wages, and the products of labor" should not be taxed. Along with non-Georgists in the libertarian movement, they also support law of equal liberty, advocating "full civil liberties, with no crimes unless there are victims who have been invaded".Geolibertarians are generally influenced by the Georgist single tax movement of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, but the ideas behind it pre-date Henry George and can be found in different forms in the writings of John Locke, the English True Levellers or Diggers such as Gerrard Winstanley, the French Physiocrats (particularly Quesnay and Turgot), Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jean-Baptiste Say, Frédéric Bastiat, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and Thomas Spence. Prominent geolibertarians since George have included Albert Jay Nock, Frank Chodorov and Milton Friedman(on consequentialist grounds). Other libertarians who have expressed support for the land value tax as an incremental reform include John Hospers, Karl Hess and United States Libertarian Party co-founder David Nolan.


Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one's own interests by society or institutions such as the government. Individualism is often defined in contrast to totalitarianism, collectivism, and more corporate social forms.Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts "with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation." Classical liberalism, existentialism, and anarchism are examples of movements that take the human individual as a central unit of analysis. Individualism thus involves "the right of the individual to freedom and self-realization".It has also been used as a term denoting "The quality of being an individual; individuality" related to possessing "An individual characteristic; a quirk." Individualism is thus also associated with artistic and bohemian interests and lifestyles where there is a tendency towards self-creation and experimentation as opposed to tradition or popular mass opinions and behaviors, as with humanist philosophical positions and ethics.

Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions and ideological systems. Individualist anarchism is not a single philosophy, but it refers to a group of individualistic philosophies that sometimes are in conflict. Benjamin Tucker, a famous 19th century individualist anarchist, held that "if the individual has the right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny".

Individualist anarchism in Europe

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems. European individualist anarchism proceeded from the roots laid by William Godwin, Individualist anarchism expanded and diversified through Europe, incorporating influences from American individualist anarchism.

Early European individualist anarchism was influenced by many philosophers, including Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Max Stirner, and Henry David Thoreau. Proudhon was an early pioneer of anarchism as well as of the important individualist anarchist current of mutualism. Stirner became a central figure of individualist anarchism through the publication of his seminal work The Ego and Its Own which is considered to be "a founding text in the tradition of individualist anarchism." The philosophy of Max Stirner supports the individual doing exactly what he pleases – taking no notice of God, state, or moral rules. To Stirner, rights were spooks in the mind, and he held that society does not exist but "the individuals are its reality"– he supported property by force of might rather than moral right. Stirner advocated self-assertion and foresaw "Union of egoists" drawn together by respect for each other's self-ownership. Thoreau emphasized the promotion of simple living, environmental stewardship, and civil disobedience were influential in European individualist anarchists.An important tendency within European individualist anarchism in general is the emphasis on individual subjective exploration and defiance of social conventions. Individualist anarchist philosophy attracted "amongst artists, intellectuals and the well-read, urban middle classes in general." As such Murray Bookchin describes a lot of individualist anarchism as people who "expressed their opposition in uniquely personal forms, especially in fiery tracts, outrageous behavior, and aberrant lifestyles in the cultural ghettos of fin de siecle New York, Paris, and London. As a credo, individualist anarchism remained largely a bohemian lifestyle, most conspicuous in its demands for sexual freedom ('free love') and enamored of innovations in art, behavior, and clothing.". In this way free love currents and other radical lifestyles such as naturism had popularity among individualist anarchists. Other important currents common within European individual anarchism include free love, illegalism, and freethought.Influential European individualist anarchists include Albert Libertad, Bellegarrigue, Oscar Wilde, Émile Armand, Lev Chernyi, John Henry Mackay, Han Ryner, Adolf Brand, Miguel Gimenez Igualada, Renzo Novatore, and Michel Onfray.

Individualist anarchism in the United States

Individualist anarchism in the United States was strongly influenced by Josiah Warren, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lysander Spooner, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Max Stirner, Herbert Spencer and Henry David Thoreau. Other important individualist anarchists in the United States were Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Batchelder Greene, Ezra Heywood, M. E. Lazarus, John Beverley Robinson, James L. Walker, Joseph Labadie, Steven Byington and Laurance Labadie. The first American anarchist publication was The Peaceful Revolutionist, edited by Josiah Warren, whose earliest experiments and writings predate Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

Left-wing market anarchism

Left-wing market anarchism, or free-market socialism, is a form of individualist anarchism and libertarian socialism associated with contemporary scholars such as Kevin Carson, Roderick T. Long, Charles W. Johnson, Brad Spangler, Sheldon Richman, Chris Matthew Sciabarra and Gary Chartier, who stress the value of radically free markets, termed "freed markets" to distinguish them from the common conception which these libertarians believe to be riddled with statist and capitalist privileges. Referred to as left-wing market anarchists or market-oriented left-libertarians, proponents of this approach strongly affirm the classical liberal ideas of self-ownership and free markets while maintaining that taken to their logical conclusions these ideas support anti-capitalist, anti-corporatist, anti-hierarchical and pro-labor positions in economics; anti-imperialism in foreign policy; and thoroughly radical views regarding such cultural issues as gender, sexuality and race.

The genealogy of contemporary market-oriented left-libertarianism, sometimes labeled left-wing market anarchism, overlaps to a significant degree with that of Steiner–Vallentyne left-libertarianism as the roots of that tradition are sketched in the book The Origins of Left-Libertarianism. Carson–Long-style left-libertarianism is rooted in 19th-century mutualism and in the work of figures such as Thomas Hodgskin and American individualist anarchists Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner. While with notable exceptions, market-oriented libertarians after Tucker tended to ally with the political right, relationships between such libertarians and the New Left thrived in the 1960s, laying the groundwork for modern left-wing market anarchism. Thus, left-wing market anarchism identifies with left-libertarianism, also known as classical libertarianism or left-wing libertarianism, which names several related yet distinct approaches to politics, society, culture and political and social theory which stress both individual freedom and social justice. Unlike right-libertarians, they believe that neither claiming nor mixing one's labor with natural resources is enough to generate full private property rights and maintain that natural resources (such as land, oil, gold, trees and so on) ought to be held in some egalitarian manner, either unowned or owned collectively. Those left-libertarians who support private property do so under the condition that recompense is offered to the local community.

Liberty (1881–1908)

Liberty was a nineteenth-century anarchist periodical published in the United States by Benjamin Tucker, from August 1881 to April 1908. The periodical was instrumental in developing and formalizing the individualist anarchist philosophy through publishing essays and serving as a format for debate.

Contributors included Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Dyer Lum, Joshua K. Ingalls, John Henry Mackay, Victor Yarros, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, James L. Walker, J. William Lloyd, Voltairine de Cleyre, Steven T. Byington, John Beverley Robinson, Jo Labadie, and Henry Appleton. Included in its masthead is a quote from Pierre Proudhon saying that liberty is "Not the Daughter But the Mother of Order."

Liberty (magazine)

Liberty magazine may refer to:

Liberty (1881–1908), a political magazine published from 1881 to 1908 by Benjamin Tucker

Liberty (general interest magazine), published from 1924 to 1950

Liberty (libertarian magazine), published from 1987 to 2010, transitioned to online-only starting in 2011

Liberty (Adventist magazine), a religious liberty magazine published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Philosophical anarchism

Philosophical anarchism is an anarchist school of thought which holds that the state lacks moral legitimacy while not supporting violence to eliminate it. Though philosophical anarchism does not necessarily imply any action or desire for the elimination of the state, philosophical anarchists do not believe that they have an obligation or duty to obey the state, or conversely that the state has a right to command. Philosophical anarchism is a component especially of individualist anarchism.Scholar Michael Freeden identifies four broad types of individualist anarchism. He says the first is the type associated with William Godwin that advocates self-government with a "progressive rationalism that included benevolence to others". The second type is egoism, most associated with Max Stirner. The third type is "found in Herbert Spencer's early predictions, and in that of some of his disciples such as Donisthorpe, foreseeing the redundancy of the state in the source of social evolution". The fourth type retains a moderated form of egoism and accounts for social cooperation through the advocacy of the market, having such followers as Benjamin Tucker and Henry David Thoreau.

Pioneers of American Freedom

Pioneers of American Freedom: Origin of Liberal and Radical Thought in America is a book by the German anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker about the history of liberal, libertarian, and anarchist thought in the United States.

Rudolf Rocker, who had been strongly influenced by Benjamin Tucker, started work on Pioneers of American Freedom during World War II. Professor Arthur E. Briggs started translating the book into English from Rocker's native German in 1941. He took over for Rocker's previous English translator Ray E. Chase as he had died. The book was published with the help of the Rocker Publishing Committee in 1949.The first part of the book consists of a series of essays on the American liberal thinkers Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Abraham Lincoln. Rocker emphasizes the importance these men assign to individualism, freedom, and the subordination of the state to the welfare of the individual. This, Rocker claims, is a great similarity between anarchist and liberal thought.The second part deals with American anarchists. Among those covered in the book are Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Lysander Spooner, William Batchelder Greene, Ezra Heywood, and Benjamin Tucker. Rocker argues that these anarchists' emphasis on "free competition of individual and social forces as something inherent in human nature, which if suppressed will inevitably lead to the destruction of the social equilibrium" distinguishes them from authoritarian socialists. He claims that the problem in modern society is not too much competition, but a lack of it as the result of "the destructive forces of monopoly". Further, Rocker seeks to dispel the myth that radicalism in the United States was merely a foreign import, pointing to the fact that most of the thinkers covered by the book were undoubtedly American by descent and born in the New England states. In fact, he argues, they were active "before any modern radical movements were even thought of in Europe" and they were more influenced by the American Declaration of Independence than by any European thinker.Roger Nash Baldwin said of Pioneers of American Freedom: "No American has been able to write such an analysis of our heretics and idealists." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review claimed the essays made no new contribution and considered the discussion of Lincoln inferior. The journal's review does, however, credit Rocker with "bringing together in an orderly discussion of all the important American material on philosophical anarchism before World War I". Joseph Dorfman, in his review in the Journal of Political Economy, credits Rocker with writing one of the first treatments of American radical history, considering it a "welcome supplement" to Eunice M. Schuster's Native American Anarchism.

Voluntary Socialism

Voluntary Socialism is a work of nonfiction by the American mutualist Francis Dashwood Tandy (1867–1913). First published in 1896, it has been favorably cited by many individualist anarchists, including Clarence Lee Swartz, minarchist Robert Nozick and left-libertarian Roderick T. Long, who has noted that "many of the standard moves in market anarchist theory today are already in evidence in Tandy".Tandy was a member of the "Denver Circle", a group of men who associated with Benjamin Tucker and contributed to the periodical Liberty. In the preface to Voluntary Socialism, he declares his intent to "give a complete outline of [Voluntaryism] in its most important bearings". To that end, chapters one through four outline the foundation for Tandy's anarchism, drawing heavily from Max Stirner and Herbert Spencer. Chapters five through fourteen cover specific areas of interest, including private defense agencies, the labor theory of value, mutual banking, transportation, and political strategy.

The book is dedicated to Benjamin Tucker, "whose lucid writings and scathing criticisms have done so much to dispel the clouds of economic superstition".

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