American individualist anarchist, publisher of the 19th century Liberty periodical
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  • Benjamin Tucker

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


    Tucker, Benjamin R. (1854-1939), by Aaron Steelman, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "Benjamin R. Tucker was a writer, an editor, and a publisher. Tucker is arguably the most significant figure in American individualist anarchism. Through his periodical Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, published from 1881 to 1908, Tucker made the case for a stateless society in clear and uncompromising prose. In addition to Tucker's writings, Liberty published articles by such notable libertarians as Lysander Spooner, Auberon Herbert, and Wordsworth Donisthorpe. It also featured pieces by Irish literary critic George Bernard Shaw and Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto ..."
    Related Topics: Anarchism, Socialism


    17 Apr 1854, Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts


    22 Jun 1939, in Monaco

    Biography People: Benjamin Tucker: Brief Biography
    Short essay, photograph and timeline
    "In editing and publishing the anarchist periodical, Liberty, Tucker both filtered and integrated the theories of such European thinkers as Herbert Spencer and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon with the thinking of American individualist activists, Lysander Spooner, William Greene and Josiah Warren as well as the uniquely American Free Thought and Free Love movements in order to produce a rigorous system of philosophical- or individualist anarchism."
    The Life of Benjamin R. Tucker: Disclosed by Himself In the Principality of Monaco At the age of 74
    Transcribed by Wendy McElroy from Tucker's manuscript; covers mostly the period from his birth to his late teens
    "Whatever may be thought of the verdict thus pronounced by the foremost living dramatist [George Bernard Shaw] upon the man generally admitted to be the foremost living Anarchist, it at any rate encourages me to yield to the pressing solicitation that have reached me from widely-scattered friends and tell the story of my life. ... Were I an artist, I could make it picturesque; being simply an old and weary philosopher, it must needs be garbed in drab, befitting the Quaker blood from which I sprang. Drab or dazzling, the costume covers a personality above the moral law and mentally emancipated, in short an Egoistic Anarchist."

    Web Pages

    Benjamin Tucker |
    Links to essays, columns and other resources about Tucker


    Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Aug 2007
    Biographical essay on Benjamin Tucker from birth to the early years of the periodical Liberty
    "The publisher and author of those words, Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854-1939), defined the radical extreme of American individualism from the post-Civil War era to the first decade of the 20th century. ... Through NELRL Tucker came to conclusions that would guide the rest of his career as a radical: economic change was the primary need of society; and electoral politics was not the path to freedom."
    Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Sep 2007
    Biographical essay on Benjamin Tucker from the first issue of Liberty until his death
    "Tucker's economic views established him in labor ranks. He staunchly advocated strikes as a strategy as long as force was eschewed. ... His rejection of violence did not spring from a faintness of heart. ... Tucker rejected violence because, until all peaceful avenues of social change had been exhausted, violence only turned the average person away from whatever cause used it."
    Benjamin Tucker, Liberty And Individualist Anarchism [PDF], by Wendy McElroy, The Independent Review, 1997
    Presents a short biography of Tucker and then the history of the Liberty journal, including its major themes, the debates over Stirnerite egoism vs. natural rights and its literary and international coverage, concluding with commentary
    "From his involvement in the labor-reform movement, Tucker became convinced that economic reform must underlie all other steps toward freedom. From a later admiration of the radical abolitionist Spooner, Tucker's voice acquired a radical antipolitical edge as well. To these influences were added the European flavor of Herbert Spencer, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Max Stirner, and Michael Bakounin."
    Related Topic: Individualist Anarchism
    Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, by Wendy McElroy, Literature of Liberty, 1981
    Bibliographical essay covering the people and radical movements that influenced Tucker in his founding and publishing of Liberty, its major themes and contributors
    "Coming from a Quaker and radical Unitarian family, Tucker grew up in an atmosphere of dissent and free inquiry. At his parents' prompting, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three years during which time he became involved in labor reform and convinced that economic reform must underlie all other steps toward freedom. He integrated freethought and free love with this conviction to formulate a system of individualist-anarchism which became identified with him as 'philosophical' or 'Boston Anarchism.' "
    Benjamin Tucker's Liberty, by Carl Watner, Reason, Apr 1979
    Examines several of the themes discussed by Tucker in Liberty, e.g., anarchism, natural rights, monopoly, and how his views changed throughout the years
    "Such credentials, cited in a letter to the New York Tribune on December 4, 1898, obviously entitle their holder to claim a prominent role in the libertarian-anarchist tradition in the United States. Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939), author, editor, and anarchist, started in August 1881 a little fortnightly journal called Liberty. Its purpose was to contribute to the solution of social problems by threshing out the ultimate implications of the battle against authority. The journal continued to appear until 1908."
    Faculty Spotlight Interview: Wendy McElroy, by Wendy McElroy, 3 Feb 2011
    "Who is your greatest inspiration? ... In broader terms, however, my greatest inspiration has been the 19th century individualist anarchist movement and most specifically Tucker. In my early twenties, I worked days and, at night, I indexed Tucker's periodical Liberty (1881-1908). After a year of nightly page-turning, it got so that I could predict the line Tucker would take on almost any issue and, then, I started to predict what his wording would be."
    Here are 7 lesser-known classical liberal thinkers for your World Philosophy Day, by Kelly Wright, 17 Nov 2016
    Brief profiles of Spencer, Tucker, Spooner, Paterson, Molinari, Garrison and Herbert, together with a reading recommendation for each one of them
    "Benjamin Tucker was a 19th century American writer, editor, and publisher, and a self-proclaimed 'individualist anarchist'. Tucker is probably best known for his periodical plainly titled Liberty, which ran for nearly 30 years. Feminist thinker Wendy McElroy would go on to describe Liberty as 'widely considered to be the finest individualist-anarchist periodical ever issued in the English language.' ... Tucker was influenced by and attempted to synthesize the political theories of Herbert Spencer, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and others."
    Introducing Revisionism: An interview with James J. Martin, by Michael Hardesty, Peter Kuetzing, John McCarthy, Steven Springer, Reason, Jan 1976
    Topics discussed include: World War II vs. Vietnam War revisionism, genocide, the definition of "aggression" between nations, the Cold War, Lysander Spooner vs. Benjamin Tucker on natural rights, the Columbus complex and individualist anarchism
    "Tucker was a product of a far later time—two generations removed, really, in terms of biology—who ... grew up mainly with European ideas, many of which looked on the idea of natural rights as a sort of comforting fiction. ... If someone wishes to maintain that he has these intangible things called rights, well, what is one to say about it? You can't disprove it—but again there's no way of proving them either. ... Of course Tucker got very angry periodically in hearing these endless word games; the hair-splitting, philosophical vine-climbing discourses on natural rights."
    Libertarian Feminism: An Honorable Tradition, by Sharon Presley, 2 Dec 2014
    Traces the feminist tradition from individualist anarchists in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, to the creation in 1973 of the Association of Libertarian Feminists and on to present activism
    "The other major outlet for the promulgation of what was then called 'the Woman Question' was Benjamin Tucker's individualist anarchist journal Liberty. Though Liberty was not as explicitly oriented toward women's rights as Lucifer, in the 1880s it did devote considerable space to the 'sex question.' ... 'The fundamental idea of Tchernychewsky's work,' wrote Tucker in the preface, 'is that woman is a human being and not an animal created for man's benefit, and its chief purpose is to show the superiority of free unions between men and women over the indissoluble marriage sanctioned by Church and State.'"
    Robert Anton Wilson, by Jeff Riggenbach, 15 Aug 2011
    Biographical essay, including a lengthy digression on the thought of Ralph Borsodi, founder of the publisher of a magazine co-edited by Wilson in the early 1960's; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 4 Aug 2011
    "Still, [Wilson] was somewhat surprised — pleasantly surprised, of course — to discover that, as he put it, 'the School of Living … had a great library of radical and off-beat literature. It was there that I found and read all the issues of Liberty, the individualist-anarchist magazine edited [1881–1908] by the brilliant Benjamin R. Tucker ("the clearest mind, ever, in politics," [James] Joyce called him). ...'"
    The Many Monopolies, by Charles W. Johnson, 24 Aug 2011
    Describes four ways in which markets are distorted by government interventions, explains Tucker's "Four Monopolies", examines five present-day monopolies and discusses Tucker's libertarian views
    "As a model for analyzing the political edge of corporate power and defending markets from the bottom up, we twenty-first-century libertarians might look to our nineteenth-century roots—to the insights of the American individualists, especially their most talented exponent, Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854–1939), editor of the free-market anarchist journal Liberty. ... Tucker argued that the stereotypical features of capitalism in his day were products not of the market form, but of markets deformed by political privileges."
    The Myth of 19th-Century Laissez-Faire: Who Benefits Today?, by Roderick T. Long, 10 Jun 2013
    Responds to questions posed by Michael Lind and E. J. Dionne Jr. regarding lack of actual libertarian countries or the late 19th century supposedly small government utopia
    "In the 1880s, free-market anarchist Benjamin Tucker identified the domination of business interests in the Gilded Age as grounded in a variety of state-imposed monopolies, stressing four in particular: Protectionist tariffs; the monopolization of credit through government control of the money supply; the suppression of competition via informational monopolies (patents and copyrights); and the assignment of titles to land and natural resources on the basis of expropriation and political pull rather than homesteading and trade."
    Related Topic: Libertarianism
    The Singular Henry George: Insights and Influence, by David S. D'Amato, 22 Oct 2014
    Discusses George's early life, the main arguments made in his writings and the influence and disagreements he had with contemporary and later radicals
    "George shared the idea that true laissez faire would accomplish the goals of socialism with individualist anarchist contemporaries such as Benjamin Tucker. For all their similarities, however, George drew a special ire from Tucker, who criticized George as belonging to 'that class who speak in the name of liberty, but do not know the meaning of the word.' Tucker went so far as to call George 'one of the most dangerous men among all of those now posing as public teachers.' The two sparred in the pages of Tucker's anarchist journal Liberty, debating subjects as diverse as the land question and intellectual property."
    What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Apr 2006
    Discusses why corporatism, mercantilism and Big Business are the "the great institutional threat to liberty"
    "The great 19th-century champions of the market, such as Benjamin Tucker and the contributors to his Liberty magazine, thought of themselves as free-market socialists because they wanted no part of capitalism, which they viewed as the historical system in which government intervenes in behalf of capital and to the detriment of common workers. The word still denotes that for many, perhaps most, people. (Kevin Carson, a Tuckerite political economist and blogger, calls himself a free-market anti-capitalist.)"


    Liberty, 1881-1908: A Comprehensive Index, by Wendy McElroy ((compiler)), 1982
    Electronic text available at The Memory Hole; contents: How To Use This Index - Part I: Titles and Periodicals - Part II: Individuals - Part III: Subjects
    The Debates of Liberty: An Overview of Individualist Anarchism, 1881-1908, by Wendy McElroy, 17 Dec 2002
    Excerpts available at; partial contents: Benjamin Tucker, Liberty, and Individualist Anarchism - On the State and Politics - On Violence - Egoism v- Natural Rights - Children's Rights - Intellectual Property - Trial by Jury
    Related Topic: Individualist Anarchism

    Books Authored

    Individual Liberty: Selections from the writings of Benjamin R. Tucker, 1926
    A collection of essays and editorials; contents: Sociology: State Socialism and Anarchism - The Individual, Society, and the State - Economics: Money and Interest - Land And Rent - Trade and Industry
    "Publisher's Note: C.L.S., the editor and compiler of this book, has known Benjamin R. Tucker personally since 1891, having entered his employ at that time in the mechanical department of Liberty, Mr. Tucker's journal for the exposition of Individualist Anarchism. ... For a considerable period he had complete editorial charge, during Mr. Tucker's absence. Thus the present work has been performed by one who has entire familiarity with Liberty's philosophy and who perhaps at present has a closer sympathy with Mr. Tucker's ideas than any other person in America."
    Related Topic: Individual Liberty


    Who Is Benjamin Tucker?, by The Conscious Resistance, 3 Oct 2016
    Discusses the life and writings of Benjamin Tucker

    The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Benjamin Tucker" as of 02 Jul 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.