Historical Reprints History Individual Freedom

Individual Freedom

Individual Freedom
Catalog # SKU1629
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Ben Tucker


Individual Freedom

Ben Tucker

For a number of years practically all of the literature of Individualist Anarchism has been out of print. The great bulk of whatever matter there was had, of course, been in the hands of Benjamin R. Tucker, and up to 1908 it was being constantly augmented by him.

But when, in January of that year, his entire wholesale stock of publications, manuscripts, etc., and nearly all of his plates were wiped out by fire, the loss was irreparable, and little attempt has been made to replace any of the material destroyed.

The demand for something representative of Individualist Anarchism has become so insistent that it has been determined to produce at least one volume of the best matter available, and in that volume to attempt to cover the whole subject.

The nearest that any book ever came to answering that description is Tucker's 'Instead of a Book', first published in 1893, culled from his writings in his periodical, Liberty, and out of print since 1908. This closely printed volume of nearly 500 pages was composed of questions and criticisms by his correspondents and by writers in other periodicals, all answered by the editor of Liberty in that keen, clearcut style that was the delight of his adherents and the despair of his opponents.

In casting about for material for the proposed volume, therefore, no other writings than those of Benjamin R. Tucker could for a moment be considered, and it is no exaggeration to say that they stand high above everything else that has been written on the subject, not even excepting the works of Josiah Warren, Proudhon, and Lysander Spooner, or of any other person who has ever attempted to expound the principles of Individualist Anarchism.

Consciously or unconsciously, our feelings about almost everything are largely molded by ready-made opinions and attitudes fostered by our mass methods of communication. We cannot buy a bar of soap or a filtered cigarette without paying tribute to the impact of suggestion. Right or wrong, most of us place more confidence in what "they" say than we do in our own powers of reason. This is the basic reason why psychiatrists are in short supply. We distrust our own mental processes and want an expert to tell us what to think and feel.


The courts are at last beginning to take rational views on the question of peaceable picketing and peaceable boycotting. Several refreshing decisions have been rendered within a short time in which the principle is recognized that what one man may legitimately do several men may do in concert. But even the most independent and intelligent of the judges still stultify themselves by attempting baseless distinctions between self-regarding boycotts and purely sympathetic boycotts.

A, they say, may boycott B, if he has any grievance against him, but he may not ask C to boycott B and threaten to boycott him in turn in the event of refusal. When they undertake to defend this position, they fail miserably, of course, and the truth is that they shrink from the clear logic of the principle which they lay down at the outset. But let us not expect too much of them at once. 'It is the first step that is difficult.' Having accepted a sound principle, its corollaries will force themselves on them.

Anarchism and Copyright

Not alone on the land question did Mr. Tucker find himself in disagreement with Henry George. In his newspaper, the Standard of June 23, 1888, the latter discussed with a correspondent the question of property in ideas. The editor of Liberty thus took exception to his arguments:

Mr. George, taking his stand upon the principle that productive labor is the true basis of the right of property, argues through three columns, with all the consummate ability for which credit should be given him, to the triumphant vindication of the position that there can rightfully be no such thing as the exclusive ownership of an idea.

No man, he says, 'can justly claim ownership in natural laws, nor in any of the relations which may be perceived by the human mind, nor in any of the potentialities which nature holds for it...Ownership comes from production. It cannot come from discovery.

Discovery can give no right of ownership...No man can discover anything which, so to speak, was not put there to be discovered, and which some one else might not in time have discovered. If he finds it, it was not lost. It, or its potentiality, existed before he came.

It was there to be found...In the production of any material thing - a machine, for instance there are two separable parts, - the abstract idea of principle, which may be usually expressed by drawing, by writing, or by word of mouth; and the concrete form of the particular machine itself, which is produced by bringing together in certain relations certain quantities and qualities of matter, such as wood, steel, brass, brick, rubber, cloth, etc.

There are two modes in which labor goes to the making of the machine, - the one in ascertaining the principle on which such machines can be made to work; the other in obtaining from their natural reservoirs and bringing together and fashioning into shape the quantities and qualities of matter which in their combination constitute the concrete machine. In the first mode labor is expended in discovery. In the second mode it is expended in production. The work of discovery may be done once for all, as in the case of the discovery in prehistoric time of the principle or idea of the wheelbarrow. But the work of production is required afresh in the case of each particular thing.

No matter how many thousand millions of wheelbarrows have been produced, it requires fresh labor of production to make another one...

The natural reward of labor expended in discovery is in the use that can be made of the discovery without interference with the right of any one else to use it.

Softcover, 5¼" x 8¼", 385+ pages