Is Individualist Anarchism Capitalistic?

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Republished with permission.
Source: The Anarchist Library


To answer this question, it is necessary to first define what we mean by capitalism and socialism. While there is a tendency for supporters of capitalism (and a few socialists!) to equate it with the market and private property, this is not the case. It is possible to have both and not have capitalism. Similarly, the notion that “socialism” means, by definition, state ownership and/or control, or that being employed by the state rather than by private capital is “socialism” is distinctly wrong. While some socialists have, undoubtedly, defined socialism in precisely such terms, socialism as a historic movement is much wider than that. As Proudhon put it, “[m]odern Socialism was not founded as a sect or church; it has seen a number of different schools.”[Selected Writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, p. 177]

As Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin and Tucker all stressed, anarchism is one of those schools. For Kropotkin, anarchism was “the no-government system of socialism.” [Anarchism, p. 46] Likewise, for Tucker, there were “two schools of socialistic thought”, one of which represented authority and the other liberty, namely “State Socialism and Anarchism.”[The Individualist Anarchists, pp. 78–9] It was “not Socialist Anarchism against Individualist Anarchism, but of Communist Socialism against Individualist Socialism.” [Tucker, Liberty, no. 129, p. 2] As one expert on Individualist Anarchism noted, Tucker “looked upon anarchism as a branch of the general socialist movement.” [James J. Martin, Men Against the State, pp. 226–7] Thus we find Individualist anarchist Victor Yarros, like Tucker, talking about “the position and teachings of the Anarchistic Socialists” when referring to his ideas. [Liberty, no. 98, p. 5]

Part of problem is that in the 20th century, the statist school of socialism prevailed both within the labour movement (at least in English speaking countries or until fascism destroyed it in mainland Europe and elsewhere) and within the revolutionary movement (first as social democracy, then as Communism after the Russian Revolution). This lead, it should be noted, to anarchists not using the term “socialist” to describe their ideas as they did not want to be confused with either reformed capitalism (social democracy) or state capitalism (Leninism and Stalinism). As anarchism was understood as being inherently anti-capitalist, this did not become an issue until certain right-wing liberals started calling themselves “anarcho”-capitalists (somewhat ironically, these liberals joined with the state socialists in trying to limit anarchism to anti-statism and denying their socialist credentials). Another part of the problem is that many, particularly those in America, derive their notion of what socialism is from right-wing sources who are more than happy to agree with the Stalinists that socialism is state ownership. This is case with right-“libertarians”, who rarely study the history or ideas of socialism and instead take their lead from such fanatical anti-socialists as Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. Thus they equate socialism with social democracy or Leninism/Stalinism, i.e. with state ownership of the means of life, the turning of part or the whole working population into employees of the government or state regulation and the welfare state. In this they are often joined by social democrats and Marxists who seek to excommunicate all other kinds of socialism from the anti-capitalist movement.

All of which leads to some strange contradictions. If “socialism” is equated to state ownership then, clearly, the individualist anarchists are not socialists but, then, neither are the social anarchists! Thus if we assume that the prevailing socialism of the 20th century defines what socialism is, then quite a few self-proclaimed socialists are not, in fact, socialists. This suggests that socialism cannot be limited to state socialism. Perhaps it would be easier to define “socialism” as restrictions on private property? If so, then, clearly, social anarchists are socialists but then, as we will prove, so are the individualist anarchists!

Of course, not all the individualist anarchists used the term “socialist” or “socialism” to describe their ideas although many did. Some called their ideas Mutualism and explicitly opposed socialism (William Greene being the most obvious example). However, at root the ideas were part of the wider socialist movement and, in fact, they followed Proudhon in this as he both proclaimed himself a socialist while also attacking it. The apparent contradiction is easily explained by noting there are two schools of socialism, state and libertarian. Thus it is possible to be both a (libertarian) socialist and condemn (state) socialist in the harshest terms.

So what, then, is socialism? Tucker stated that “the bottom claim of Socialism” was “that labour should be put in possession of its own,” that “the natural wage of labour is its product” and “interest, rent, and profit ... constitute the trinity of usury.” [The Individualist Anarchists, p. 78 and p. 80] This definition also found favour with Kropotkin who stated that socialism “in its wide, generic, and true sense” was an “effort to abolish the exploitation of labour by capital.” [Anarchism, p. 169] For Kropotkin, anarchism was “brought forth by the same critical and revolutionary protest which gave rise to Socialism in general”, socialism aiming for “the negation of Capitalism and of society based on the subjection of labour to capital.” Anarchism, unlike other socialists, extended this to oppose “what constitutes the real strength of Capitalism: the State and its principle supports.” [Environment and Evolution, p. 19] Tucker, similarly, argued that Individualist anarchism was a form of socialism and would result in the “emancipation of the workingman from his present slavery to capital.” [Instead of a Book, p. 323]

The various schools of socialism present different solutions to this exploitation and subjection. From the nationalisation of capitalist property by the state socialists, to the socialisation of property by the libertarian communists, to the co-operatives of mutualism, to the free market of the individualist anarchists, all are seeking, in one way or the other, to ensure the end of the domination and exploitation of labour by capital. The disagreements between them all rest in whether their solutions achieve this aim and whether they will make life worth living and enjoyable (which also explains why individualist and social anarchists disagree so much!). For anarchists, state socialism is little more than state capitalism, with a state monopoly replacing capitalist monopolies and workers being exploited by one boss (the state) rather than many. So all anarchists would agree with Yarrows when he argued that “[w]hile State Socialism removes the disease by killing the patient, no-State Socialism offers him the means of recovering strength, health, and vigour.”[Liberty, no. 98, p. 5]

So, why are the individualist anarchists anti-capitalists? There are two main reasons.

Firstly, the Individualist Anarchists opposed profits, interest and rent as forms of exploitation (they termed these non-labour incomes “usury”, but as Tucker stressed usury was “but another name for the exploitation of labour.” [Liberty, no. 122, p. 4]). To use the words of Ezra Heywood, the Individualist Anarchists thought “Interest is theft, Rent Robbery, and Profit Only Another Name for Plunder.” [quoted by Martin Blatt, “Ezra Heywood & Benjamin Tucker,”, pp. 28–43,Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty, Coughlin, Hamilton and Sullivan (eds.), p. 29] Non-labour incomes are merely “different methods of levying tribute for the use of capital.” Their vision of the good society was one in which “the usurer, the receiver of interest, rent and profit” would not exist and Labour would “secure its natural wage, its entire product.” [Tucker, The Individualist Anarchists, p. 80, p. 82 and p. 85] This would also apply to dividends, “since no idle shareholders could continue in receipt of dividends were it not for the support of monopoly, it follows that these dividends are no part of the proper reward of ability.” [Tucker, Liberty, no. 282, p. 2]

In addition, as a means of social change, the individualists suggested that activists start “inducing the people to steadily refuse the payment of rents and taxes.” [Instead of a Book pp. 299–300] These are hardly statements with which capitalists would agree. Tucker, as noted, also opposed interest, considering it usury (exploitation and a “crime”) pure and simple and one of the means by which workers were denied the full fruits of their labour. Indeed, he looked forward to the day when “any person who charges more than cost for any product [will] ... be regarded very much as we now regard a pickpocket.” This “attitude of hostility to usury, in any form” hardly fits into the capitalist mentality or belief system. [Op. Cit., p. 155] Similarly, Ezra Heywood considered profit-taking “an injustice which ranked second only to legalising titles to absolute ownership of land or raw-materials.” [James J. Martin, Op. Cit., p. 111] Opposition to profits, rent or interest is hardly capitalistic — indeed, the reverse.

Thus the Individualist Anarchists, like the social anarchists, opposed the exploitation of labour and desired to see the end of capitalism by ensuring that labour would own what it produced. They desired a society in which there would no longer be capitalists and workers, only workers. The worker would receive the full product of his/her labour, so ending the exploitation of labour by capital. In Tucker’s words, a free society would see “each man reaping the fruits of his labour and no man able to live in idleness on an income from capital” and so society would “become a great hive of Anarchistic workers, prosperous and free individuals” combining “to carry on their production and distribution on the cost principle.”[The Individualist Anarchists, p. 276]

Secondly, the Individualist Anarchists favoured a new system of land ownership based on “occupancy and use.” So, as well as this opposition to capitalist usury, the individualist anarchists also expressed opposition to capitalist ideas on property (particularly property in land). J.K. Ingalls, for example, considered that “the private domination of the land” originated in “usurpation only, whether of the camp, the court or the market. Whenever such a domination excludes or deprives a single human being of his equal opportunity, it is a violation, not only of the public right, and of the social duty, but of the very principle of law and morals upon which property itself is based.” [quoted by Martin, Op. Cit., p. 148f] As Martin comments, for Ingalls, “[t]o reduce land to the status of a commodity was an act of usurpation, enabling a group to ‘profit by its relation to production’ without the expenditure of labour time.” [Op. Cit., p. 148] These ideas are identical to Proudhon’s and Ingalls continues in this Proudhonian “occupancy and use” vein when he argues that possession “remains possession, and can never become property, in the sense of absolute dominion, except by positive statue [i.e. state action]. Labour can only claim occupancy, and can lay no claim to more than the usufruct.” Current property ownership in land were created by “forceful and fraudulent taking” of land, which “could give no justification to the system.”[quoted by Martin, Op. Cit., p. 149]

The capitalist system of land ownership was usually termed the “land monopoly”, which consisted of “the enforcement by government of land titles which do not rest upon personal occupancy and cultivation.” Under anarchism, individuals would “no longer be protected by their fellows in anything but personal occupancy and cultivation of land” and so “ground rent would disappear.” [Tucker, The Individualist Anarchists, p. 85] This applied to what was on the land as well, such as housing:

“If a man exerts himself by erecting a building on land which afterward, by the operation of the principle of occupancy and use, rightfully becomes another’s, he must, upon demand of the subsequent occupant, remove from this land the results of his self-exertion, or, failing so to do, sacrifice his property therein.” [Liberty, no. 331, p. 4]

This would apply to both the land and what was on it. This meant that “tenants would not be forced to pay ... rent” nor would landlords “be allowed to seize their property.” This, as Tucker noted, was a complete rejection of the capitalist system of property rights and saw anarchism being dependent on “the Anarchistic view that occupancy and use should condition and limit landholding becom[ing] the prevailing view.” [The Individualist Anarchists, p. 162 and p. 159] As Joseph Labadie put it, socialism includes any theory “which has for its object the changing of the present status of property and the relations one person or class holds to another. In other words, any movement which has for its aim the changing of social relations, of companionships, of associations, of powers of one class over another class, is Socialism.” [our emphasis, Liberty, no. 158, p. 8] As such, both social and individualist anarchists are socialists as both aimed at changing the present status of property.

It should also be noted here that the individualist anarchist ideal that competition in banking would drive interest to approximately zero is their equivalent to the social anarchist principle of free access to the means of life. As the only cost involved would be an administration charge which covers the labour involved in running the mutual bank, all workers would have access to “capital” for (in effect) free. Combine this with “occupancy and use” in terms of land use and it can be seen that both individualist and social anarchists shared a common aim to make the means of life available to all without having to pay a tribute to an owner or be dependent on a ruling capitalist or landlord class.

For these reasons, the Individualist Anarchists are clearly anti-capitalist. While an Individualist Anarchy would be a market system, it would not be a capitalist one. As Tucker argued, the anarchists realised “the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labour, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labour by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labour... And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege... every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers ... What Anarchistic-Socialism aims to abolish is usury ... it wants to deprive capital of its reward.” As noted above, the term “usury,” for Tucker, was simply a synonym for “the exploitation of labour.” [Instead of a Book, p. 404 and p. 396]

The similarities with social anarchism are obvious. Like them, the individualist anarchists opposed capitalism because they saw that profit, rent and interest were all forms of exploitation. As communist-anarchist Alexander Berkman noted, “[i]f the worker would get his due — that is, the things he produces or their equivalent — where would the profits of the capitalist come from? If labour owned the wealth it produced, there would be no capitalism.” Like social anarchists they opposed usury, to have to pay purely for access/use for a resource. It ensured that a “slice of their daily labour is taken from [the workers] for the privilege of using these factories” [What is Anarchism?, p. 44 and p. 8] For Marx, abolishing interest and interest-bearing capital “means the abolition of capital and of capitalist production itself.” [Theories of Surplus Value, vol. 3, p. 472] A position, incidentally, also held by Proudhon who maintained that “reduction of interest rates to vanishing point is itself a revolutionary act, because it is destructive of capitalism.” [quoted by Edward Hyams,Pierre-Joseph Proudhon: His Revolutionary Life, Mind and Works, p. 188] Like many socialists, Individualist Anarchists used the term “interest” to cover all forms of surplus value: “the use of money” plus “house-rent, dividends, or share of profits” and having to “pay a tax to somebody who owns the land.” “In doing away with interest, the cause of inequality in material circumstances will be done away with.” [John Beverley Robinson, The Individualist Anarchists, pp. 144–5]

Given that Individualist Anarchism aimed to abolish interest along with rent and profit it would suggest that it is a socialist theory. Unsurprisingly, then, Tucker agreed with Marx’s analysis on capitalism, namely that it lead to industry concentrating into the hands of a few and that it robbed workers of the fruits of the toil (for Francis Tandy it was a case of “the Marxian theory of surplus value, upon which all Socialistic philosophy — whether State or Anarchistic — is necessarily based” [Op. Cit., no. 312, p. 3]). Tucker quoted a leading Marxist’s analysis of capitalism and noted that “Liberty endorses the whole of it, excepting a few phrases concerning the nationalisation of industry and the assumption of political power by working people.” However, he was at pains to argue that this analysis was first expounded by Proudhon, “that the tendency and consequences of capitalistic production ... were demonstrated to the world time and time again during the twenty years preceding the publication of ‘Das Kapital’” by the French anarchist. This included “the historical persistence of class struggles in successive manifestations” as well as “the theory that labour is the source and measure of value.” “Call Marx, then, the father of State socialism, if you will,” argued Tucker, “but we dispute his paternity of the general principles of economy on which all schools of socialism agree.” [Liberty, no. 35, p. 2]

This opposition to profits, rent and interest as forms of exploitation and property as a form of theft clearly makes individualist anarchism anti-capitalist and a form of (libertarian) socialism. In addition, it also indicates well the common ground between the two threads of anarchism, in particular their common position to capitalism. The social anarchist Rudolf Rocker indicates well this common position when he argues:

“it is difficult to reconcile personal freedom with the existing economic system. Without doubt the present inequality of economic interests and the resulting class conflicts in society are a continual danger to the freedom of the individual ... [T]he undisturbed natural development of human personality is impossible in a system which has its root in the shameless exploitation of the great mass of the members of society. One cannot be free either politically or personally so long as one is in economic servitude of another and cannot escape from this condition. This was recognised by men like Godwin, Warren, Proudhon, Bakunin, [and women like Goldman and de Cleyre, we must add!] and many others who subsequently reached the conviction that the domination of man over man will not disappear until there is an end of the exploitation of man by man.” [Nationalism and Culture, p. 167]

There are other, related, reasons why the individualist anarchists must be considered left-wing libertarians rather than right-wing ones. Given their opposition to non-labour income, they saw their proposals as having egalitarian implications. As regards equality, we discover that they saw their ideas as promoting it. Thus we find Tucker arguing that that the “happiness possible in any society that does not improve upon the present in the matter of distribution of wealth, can hardly be described as beatific.” He was clearly opposed to “the inequitable distribution of wealth” under capitalism and equally clearly saw his proposals as a means of reducing it substantially. The abolition of those class monopolies which create interest, rent and profit would reduce income and wealth inequalities substantially. However, there was “one exception, and that a comparatively trivial one”, namely economic rent (the natural differences between different bits of land and individual labour). This “will probably remain with us always. Complete liberty will very much lessen it; of that I have no doubt ... At the worst, it will be a small matter, no more worth consideration in comparison with the liberty than the slight disparity that will always exist in consequence of inequalities of skill.” [“Why I am an Anarchist”, pp. 132–6, Man!, M. Graham (ed.), pp. 135–6] Another individualist anarchist, John Beverley Robinson, agreed:

“When privilege is abolished, and the worker retains all that he produces, then will come the powerful trend toward equality of material reward for labour that will produce substantial financial and social equality, instead of the mere political equality that now exists.” [Patterns of Anarchy, pp. 278–9]

As did Lysander Spooner, who pointed out that the “wheel of fortune, in the present state of things, is of such enormous diameter” and “those on its top are on so showy a height” while “those underneath it are in such a pit of debt, oppression, and despair.” He argued that under his system “fortunes could hardly be represented by a wheel; for it would present no such height, no such depth, no such irregularity of motion as now. It should rather be represented by an extended surface, varied somewhat by inequalities, but still exhibiting a general level, affording a safe position for all, and creating no necessity, for either force or fraud, on the part of anyone to secure his standing.” Thus Individualist anarchism would create a condition “neither of poverty, nor riches; but of moderate competency — such as will neither enervate him by luxury, nor disable him by destitution; but which will at once give him and opportunity to labour, (both mentally and physically) and stimulate him by offering him all the fruits of his labours.” [quoted by Stephan L. Newman, Liberalism at Wit’s End, p. 72 and p. 73]

As one commentator on individualist anarchism, Wm. Gary Kline, correctly tsummarised:

“Their proposals were designed to establish true equality of opportunity ... and they expected this to result in a society without great wealth or poverty. In the absence of monopolistic factors which would distort competition, they expected a society of largely self-employed workmen with no significant disparity of wealth between any of them since all would be required to live at their own expense and not at the expense of exploited fellow human beings.”[The Individualist Anarchists: A Critique of Liberalism, pp. 103–4]

Hence, like social anarchists, the Individualist Anarchists saw their ideas as a means towards equality. By eliminating exploitation, inequality would soon decrease as wealth would no longer accumulate in the hands of the few (the owners). Rather, it would flow back into the hands of those who produced it (i.e. the workers). Until this occurred, society would see“[o]n one side a dependent class of wage-workers and on the other a privileged class of wealth-monopolisers, each become more and more distinct from the other as capitalism advances.” This has “resulted in a grouping and consolidation of wealth which grows apace by attracting all property, no matter by whom produced, into the hands of the privileged, and hence property becomes a social power, an economic force destructive of rights, a fertile source of injustice, a means of enslaving the dispossessed.” [William Ballie, The Individualist Anarchists, p. 121]

Moreover, like the social anarchists, the Individualist Anarchists were aware that the state was not some neutral machine or one that exploited all classes purely for its own ends. They were aware that it was a vehicle of class rule, namely the rule of the capitalist class over the working class. Spooner thought that that “holders of this monopoly [of the money supply] now rule and rob this nation; and the government, in all its branches, is simply their tool” and that “the employers of wage labour ... are also the monopolists of money.” [Spooner, A Letter to Grover Cleveland, p. 42 and p. 48] Tucker recognised that “capital had so manipulated legislation” that they gained an advantage on the capitalist market which allowed them to exploit labour. [The Individualist Anarchists, pp. 82–3] He was quite clear that the state was a capitalist state, with “Capitalists hav[ing] placed and kept on the statute books all sorts of prohibitions and taxes” to ensure a “free market” skewed in favour of themselves. [Instead of a Book, p. 454] A.H. Simpson argued that the Individualist Anarchist “knows very well that the present State ... is simply the tool of the property-owning class.” [The Individualist Anarchists, p. 92] Thus both wings of the anarchist movement were united in their opposition to capitalist exploitation and their common recognition that the state was a tool of the capitalist class, used to allow them to exploit the working class.

Tucker, like other individualist anarchists, also supported labour unions, and although he opposed violence during strikes he recognised that it was caused by frustration due to an unjust system. Indeed, like social anarchists, he considered “the labourer in these days [as] a soldier... His employer is ... a member of an opposing army. The whole industrial and commercial world is in a state of internecine war, in which the proletaires are massed on one side and the proprietors on the other.” The cause of strikes rested in the fact that “before ... strikers violated the equal liberty of others, their own right to equality of liberty had been wantonly and continuously violated” by the capitalists using the state, for the “capitalists ... in denying [a free market] to [the workers] are guilty of criminal invasion.” [Instead of a Book, p. 460 and p. 454] “With our present economic system,” Tucker stressed, “almost every strike is just. For what is justice in production and distribution? That labour, which creates all, shall have all. [Liberty, no. 19, p. 1]

Another important aspects of unions and strikes were that they represented both a growing class consciousness and the ability to change society. “It is the power of the great unions to paralyse industry and ignore the government that has alarmed the political burglars,” argued Victor Yarrows. This explained why unions and strikes were crushed by force as “the State can have no rival, say the plutocrats, and the trades unions, with the sympathetic strike and boycott as weapons, are becoming too formidable.” Even defeated strikes were useful as they ensured that “the strikers and their sympathisers will have acquired some additional knowledge of the essential nature of the beast, government, which plainly has no other purpose at present than to protect monopoly and put down all opposition to it.” “There is such a thing as the solidarity of labour,” Yarrows went on, “and it is a healthy and encouraging sign that workmen recognise the need of mutual support and co-operation in their conflict with monopoly and its official and unofficial servants. Labour has to fight government as well as capital, ‘law and order’ as well as plutocracy. It cannot make the slightest movement against monopoly without colliding with some sort of ‘authority’, Federal, State, or municipal.” The problem was that the unions “have no clear general aims and deal with results rather than causes.” [Liberty, no. 291, p. 3]

This analysis echoed Tucker’s, who applauded the fact that “[a]nother era of strikes apparently is upon us. In all trades and in all sections of the country labour is busy with its demands and its protests. Liberty rejoices in them. They give evidence of life and spirit and hope and growing intelligence. They show that the people are beginning to know their rights, and, knowing, dare to maintain them. Strikes, whenever and wherever inaugurated, deserve encouragement from all true friends of labour.” [Op. Cit., no. 19, p. 1] Even failed strikes were useful, for they exposed “the tremendous and dangerous power now wielded by capital.” [Op. Cit., no. 39, p. 1] The “capitalists and their tools, the legislatures, already begin to scent the impending dangers of trades-union socialism and initiatory steps are on foot in the legislatures of several states to construe labour combinations as conspiracies against commerce and industry, and suppress them by law.” [Op. Cit., no. 22, p. 3]

Some individualist anarchists, like Dyer Lum and Joseph Labadie, were union organisers while Ezra Heywood “scoffed at supporters of the status quo, who saw no evidence of the tyranny on the part of capital, and who brought up the matter of free contract with reference to labourers. This argument was no longer valid. Capital controlled land, machinery, steam power, waterfalls, ships, railways, and above all, money and public opinion, and was in a position to wait out recalcitrancy at its leisure.” [Martin, Op. Cit., p. 107] For Lum, “behind the capitalist ... privilege stands as support” and so social circumstances matter. “Does liberty exist,” he argued, “where rent, interest, and profit hold the employee in economic subjection to the legalised possessor of the means of life? To plead for individual liberty under the present social conditions, to refuse to abate one jot of control that legalised capital has over individual labour, and to assert that the demand for restrictive or class legislation comes only from the voluntary associations of workmen [i.e., trade unions] is not alone the height of impudence, but a barefaced jugglery of words.” [Liberty, no. 101, p. 5]

Likewise, Tucker advocated and supported many other forms of non-violent direct action as well as workplace strikes, such as boycotts and rent strikes, seeing them as important means of radicalising the working class and creating an anarchist society. However, like social anarchists the Individualist Anarchists did not consider labour struggle as an end in itself — they considered reforms (and discussion of a “fair wage” and “harmony between capital and labour”) as essentially “conservative” and would be satisfied with no less than “the abolition of the monopoly privileges of capital and interest-taking, and the return to labour of the full value of its production.” [Victor Yarros, quoted by Martin, Op. Cit., p. 206f]

Therefore, it is clear that both social and Individualist Anarchists share much in common, including an opposition to capitalism. The former may have been in favour of free exchange but between equally situated individuals. Only given a context of equality can free exchange be considered to benefit both parties equally and not generate growing inequalities which benefit the stronger of the parties involved which, in turn, skews the bargaining position of those involved in favour of the stronger.

It is unsurprising, therefore, that the individualist anarchists considered themselves as socialists. Like Proudhon, they desired a (libertarian) socialist system based on the market but without exploitation and which rested on possession rather than capitalist private property. With Proudhon, only the ignorant or mischievous would suggest that such a system was capitalistic. The Individualist Anarchists, as can be seen, fit very easily into Kropotkin’s comments that “the anarchists, in common with all socialists ... maintain that the now prevailing system of private ownership in land, and our capitalist production for the sake of profits, represent a monopoly which runs against both the principles of justice and the dictates of utility.” [Anarchism, p. 285] While they rejected the communist-anarchist solution to the social question, they knew that such a question existed and was rooted in the exploitation of labour and the prevailing system of property rights.

So why is Individualist Anarchism and Proudhon’s mutualism socialist? Simply because they opposed the exploitation of labour by capital and proposed a means of ending it. The big debate between social and individualist anarchists revolves around whether the other school can really achieve this common goal and whether its proposed solution would, in fact, secure meaningful individual liberty for all.




Freedom – Equality – Solidarity


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