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Anarchism: Spooner and Tucker. D. Allen Dalton ECON 325 – Radical Economics Boise State University Fall 2011. Lysander Spooner (1808-1887). Born on farm in Athol, Massachusetts Trained, but not educated in law; set up practice in Worcester, led to repeal of college requirement for licensing

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anarchism spooner and tucker

Anarchism:Spooner and Tucker

D. Allen Dalton

ECON 325 – Radical Economics

Boise State University

Fall 2011

lysander spooner 1808 1887
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)
  • Born on farm in Athol, Massachusetts
  • Trained, but not educated in law; set up practice in Worcester, led to repeal of college requirement for licensing
  • Founded American Letter Mail Company in 1844, challenging US Post Office monopoly; commercially successful but government legal actions forced out of business
  • Abolitionist, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1846)
lysander spooner 1808 18871
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)

Essay on the Trial by Jury (1852)

Condemned the Civil War and Reconstruction and the hypocrisy of the Republican Party

No Treason pamphlets (1867-1870), including No Treason No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority

Vices are Not Crimes: A vindication of Moral Liberty (1875)

Natural Law, Or the Science of Justice (1882)


“The science of mine and thine – the science of justice – is the science of all human rights…

It is the science which alone can tell any man what he can, and cannot, do; what he can, and cannot have; what he can, and cannot, say, without infringing the rights of any other person…

…obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other.

The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man’s legal duty to his fellow men to be simply this: ‘To live honestly, to hurt no one, to give to every one his due.’ “

- Natural Law, p. 1

spooner s teaching
Spooner’s Teaching
  • Basis – Natural Law, the Science of Justice; acts of initiatory coercion violate justice
  • On Law – Man-made legislation not confirming to the Natural Law are null and void, and are themselves illegal.
  • On the State – Founded in violence; necessarily opposes justice
  • On Society – The sum of voluntary associations by which men seek to maintain justice and protect themselves against wrongdoers
spooner s teaching1
Spooner’s Teaching

“The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: 'Your money, or your life.' And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection…

spooner s teaching2
Spooner’s Teaching

…Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful 'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you. He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave. “

- No Treason, No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority,

p. 19

spooner s teaching3
Spooner’s Teaching
  • On Rights – Individuals possess rights inherently due to their nature as human beings

“…incapable of being blotted out, extinguished, annihilated, or separated or eliminated form his nature as a human being, or deprived of their inherent authority or obligation.”

- Natural Law, p. 2

“To deny the obligation of justice is…to deny the existence of any moral obligation whatever among men, in their relations to each other.”

- Natural Law, p. 3

spooner s teaching4
Spooner’s Teaching
  • On Property –Lockean view; property in justice must be separated from property by legislation
  • Economics – Money monopoly source of capitalist exploitation of labor

“All the great establishments, of every kind, now in the hands of a few proprietors, but employing a great number of wage labourers, would be broken up; for few, or no persons, who could hire capital, and do business for themselves, would consent to labour for wages for another." - A Letter to Grover Cleveland, p. 41

spooner s teaching5
Spooner’s Teaching
  • On Transition –Jury nullification important source of citizen power in ending unjust laws; use of law to overturn legislation; transition must be peaceful – in accordance with the Science of Justice
benjamin tucker 1854 1939
Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939)
  • Born in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts
  • Studied technology; became acquainted with Josiah Warren, Equitable Commerce (1852); “Cost the limit of price”
  • Turned to publishing; began publishing “Liberty” in 1881
  • Instead of a Book (1893)
  • 1908 fire destroys printing equipment and 30-year stock of books and pamphlets; retires to France
egoistic utilitarianism
Egoistic Utilitarianism

“The Anarchists are not only utilitarians, but egoists in the farthest and fullest sense.”

- Instead of a Book, p. 21

“Equal liberty means the largest amount of liberty compatible with equality and mutuality of respect, on the part of individuals living in society, for their respective spheres of action.”

- Instead of a Book, p. 65.

tucker s teaching
Tucker’s Teaching
  • Basis – Fulfilling one’s self-interest is the basis of human happiness; equality is necessary for a stable society.
  • On Law – Law is necessary for maintaining equal liberty; the people, through the jury, are the judges of facts, law, justice of law, applicability and punishment.
tucker s teaching1
Tucker’s Teaching
  • On the State – The State is opposed to Equal Liberty; the State is an organization that aggresses against the Equal Liberty and claims authority over all those within a geographic area. All acts of government are dependent upon taxation and therefore invasive. The State monopolizes defense services. Competition would serve individuals better.
tucker s teaching2
Tucker’s Teaching

On Society – Society is man’s dearest possession. Society is inseparable from individual life.

Organization of the Stateless Society – Society will be held together by contract through the voluntary association of individuals; such voluntary associations can have “no dominion over a territory.” Voluntary “taxation” as well as payments for service may exist to support the voluntary associations.

tucker s teaching3
Tucker’s Teaching

The Stateless Society (cont.) – Mutual insurance companies, mutual banks, and competitive voluntary defense associations will all be prominent institutions replacing the State.

tucker s teaching4
Tucker’s Teaching
  • On Property – Property per se, is unobjectionable. What matters is the distribution of property. Under the current system, the distribution of property is built upon Four Monopolies:
    • Money Monopoly
    • Land Monopoly
    • Tariff Monopoly
    • Patent Monopoly
tucker s teaching5
Tucker’s Teaching

On Property – The Four Monopolies raise prices above costs and produce usury (≡ taking of surplus value). Labor does not receive the full fruits of its production. Free money and credit, Free land, Free trade, and Free intellectual property will increase supply and lower prices to equal costs. All forms of usury - profits, rent and interest- will disappear. Labor will be rewarded its full product. Inequality will not disappear, but only the limited inequality between one laborer’s product and another.

tucker s teaching6
Tucker’s Teaching

“Nearly all Anarchists consider labor to be the only basis of the right of ownership in harmony with that law [the law of Equal Liberty]…”

“…in the case of land, or of any other material the supply of which is so limited that all cannot hold it in unlimited quantities, Anarchism undertakes to protect no titles except such as are based on actual occupancy and use.”

- Instead of a Book, p. 131, 61

tucker s teaching7
Tucker’s Teaching
  • Economics – Tucker possesses the most sophisticated economics of any of the major anarchists. He operates within a theoretical rather than a philosophical framework. He pays attention to “economic” questions.
  • On Transition –Convince people that their interests demand change; freedom of speech and press; individual resistance leading to general resistance.
tucker s teaching8
Tucker’s Teaching

“Passive resistance is the most potent weapon ever wielded by man against oppression.”

“…fallacious idea that Anarchy can be inaugurated by force.”

- Instead of a Book, p.413, 427