Benjamin Tucker - Anarchism

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Tucker said that he became an anarchist at the age of 18. Tucker's contribution to American individualist anarchism was as much through his publishing as his own writing. Tucker was also the first to translate into English 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. In the anarchist periodical Liberty, he published the original work of Stephen Pearl Andrews, Joshua K. Ingalls, Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, Victor Yarros, and Lillian Harman, daughter of the free love anarchist Moses Harman, as well as his own writing.

He also published George Bernard Shaw's first original article to appear in the United States, and the first American translated excerpts of Friedrich Nietzsche. In Liberty, Tucker both filtered and integrated the theories of such European thinkers as Herbert Spencer and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the economic and legal theories of the American individualists Lysander Spooner, William B. Greene and Josiah Warren, and the writings of the free thought and free love movements in opposition to religiously based legislation and prohibitions on non-invasive behavior. Through these influences Tucker produced a rigorous system of philosophical or individualist anarchism that he called Anarchistic-Socialism, arguing that " most perfect Socialism is possible only on the condition of the most perfect individualism."

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 it causes, and proposed solutions (for example, abolition of private property, cooperatives, state-ownership, and so on) varied among "socialist" philosophies.

Tucker said socialism was the claim that "labor should be put in possession of its own," holding that what "state socialism" and "anarchistic socialism" had in common was the labor theory of value. However, "Instead of asserting, as did socialist 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. Although Tucker described his views as "Anarchistic Socialism," Freeden and some other scholars do not consider Tucker a socialist anarchist, because he supported private control over the means of production, as opposed to socialized or community control.

Tucker said,

"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."

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. 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.'"

Read more about this topic:  Benjamin Tucker

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