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Journal Article

Philosophical Anarchism: Its Rise, Decline, and Eclipse

Victor S. Yarros
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 41, No. 4 (Jan., 1936), pp. 470-483
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2768957
Page Count: 14
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Philosophical Anarchism: Its Rise, Decline, and Eclipse
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Abstract

Philosophical anarchism was an American phenomenon propounded by Benjamin R. Thucker of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who was influenced by Proudhon's What Is Property? He founded the journal Liberty in 1882 and continued to edit it for nearly thirty years. He was a pacifist and advocated an absence of all compulsion even in government. From American associates he came to advocate extreme individualism, holding that all coercion was immoral. The four major monopolies which he attacked were land, money and banking, trade, patents and copyright. He held that to abolish these would abolish poverty. He had great difficulty with the problem of the punishment of criminals, but believed that crime would tend to disappear under an anarchistic society. He opposed all paternalistic reform movements; believed in labor unions, but opposed their legislative programs. His journal had several imitators. His following was never large, and he alienated the followers of Herbert Spencer as well as his religious disciples. The growth of trusts and syndicates in America and the increasing development of socialistic forms of organization were, perhaps, most influential in causing the decline of philosophical anarchism.

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