Excerpted from the book;
Individual Liberty: Selections From the Writings of Benjamin R. Tucker
Vanguard Press, New York, 1926
Kraus Reprint Co., Millwood, NY, 1973.
Out of a great number of books that could be cited as showing a tendency of modern thought toward the ideals of Individualist Anarchism, the following are those that bear most directly on the subject, and, in some instances may be considered as source books. Where they are available, their reading in connection with the present volume will serve to enlighten the student of individual liberty.
Proudhon was the greatest figure of the middle period of the nineteenth century. He was the first thinker to fully apply the principle of liberty directly to all economic conditions. His "General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century" (Freedom Press, 127 Ossulston Street, London, N. W. 1, England) describes the changes impending and the direction they must take. He predicted the growing power of the financial capitalist, and history has abundantly borne him out. His influence in France has lasted to this day. "What Is Property?" - one of his greatest works and the first translated into English - also may be had from the Freedom Press.
John Stuart Mill was one of the first to see clearly the real meaning of liberty. His essay, "On Liberty," although first published over sixty-five years ago, is so fundamental in its substance that it is quite applicable to present conditions. Moreover, he discussed denials of liberty in the United States as well as in England. For a long time out of print, this essay is fortunately now to be had in the Big Blue Book series of the Haldeman-Julius Company, Girard, Kansas.
William B. Greene, working independently in America, reached the same conclusions as Proudhon in France. In his pamphlet on "Mutual Banking" (published by Henry Cohen, 426 California Building, Los Angeles, California) he attacks, first, the state banks of his day. The intricate processes of exchange and the part played by money and credit are described with such simplicity and yet so correctly that his arguments have not suffered by the lapse of time and are as fully pertinent today as they were when written. He clearly points the way to the abolition of interest.
A brief exposition of some of Proudhon's ideas, brought down to date and linked up with present conditions, is embodied in "The Economics of Liberty," by John Beverly Robinson (supplied by Freedom Press, 127 Ossulston Street, London, N. W. 1). With the exception of some digressions into irrelevancies, it is thought-provoking and valuable.
Individualist Anarchism, especially as expounded by Tucker, is fundamentally egoistic, which makes Max Stirner's masterpiece, "The Ego and His Own" (also to be had from Freedom Press), a book that should be read in connection with any exposition of individual liberty, since it contains the essence of the egoistic philosophy. Another book on the same subject, more modern and less voluminous, but unfortunately not now to be had except in a few public libraries, is James L. Walker's "The Philosophy of Egoism." Walker, under the pen name of Tak Kak, was a frequent editorial contributor to Liberty.
Henry D. Thoreau, though not properly labeled an anarchist, was certainly a free spirit, and his essay, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," will be found to contain many inspiring thoughts for the person who is seeking to understand individual liberty. His "Walden," to a certain extent, may be similarly described.
Josiah Warren's "True Civilization" and Stephen Pearl Andrews' development of the same theme in "The Science of Society" would, were both books not out of print, provide profitable reading for those interested in the ideas set forth in this volume. "Instead of a Book" was dedicated to Warren, and Tucker frequently referred to him as his "master."
Lysander Spooner was one of the most prolific of writers on the subject of liberty and its application to the everyday problems of life, but he too suffers from being wholly out of print. One of his greatest works, "Trial by Jury," was edited and abridged by Victor Yarros and published under the title of "Free Political Institutions," but this too can no longer be had from booksellers. If it can be borrowed or found on second-hand book counters, it should be studied.
"Josiah Warren," by William Bailie (Small, Maynard & Company. Boston), is a biography which deals sympathetically and understandingly with Warren's ideas, and, aside from Tucker's writings, is the best exposition of those ideas now in print.
Francis D. Tandy's "Voluntary Socialism" (alas! also out of print) is designed to show how individual liberty can be applied to conditions as they exist today. It is valuable.
On the financial question Hugo Bilgram's "The Cause of Business Depressions" (Lippincott, Philadelphia) is of importance, especially as exploding the fallacy of the volume theory of money and as showing that interest has no reason for being. As giving a detailed history of the evolution of industry and banking in Great Britain, Charles P. Isaacs' "The Menace of the Money Power" (Jonathan Cape, 11 Gower Street, London) is excellent. It shows how Scotland formerly prospered under a comparatively free system of banking.
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