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 proponent, in the 19th century, of American individualist anarchism, which he called "'unterrified Jeffersonianism", and editor and publisher of the individualist anarchist periodical Liberty.


    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."


    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: A Journal of Political Economy, 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
    NewBenjamin 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.' "
    Faculty Spotlight Interview: 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."
    Related Topic: Wendy McElroy
    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 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


    Liberty, 1881-1908: A Comprehensive Index, by Wendy McElroy, 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

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.