57 Varieties of Anarchist Thought

The aim of anchorage anarchy has always been to provide an anarchist  perspective that emphasizes the importance of individual freedom.  Without absolute liberty for people to act as they choose, as long as they do not initiate force against others or otherwise limit the equal freedom of others to live as they please, there can be no anarchist society worthy of the name.  However, even when one accepts this as a first principle of just human interaction, the question remains as to how a society based on the idea of individual sovereignty and equal freedom would operate.

Individualists differ among themselves about how a thoroughgoing anarchist society would, should, or could function.  The early american individualists experimented with intentional communities where the participants functioned entirely without state supervision or internal government or hierarchy.  They exchanged labor for labor, utilized alternative, non-state currencies, and minded their own business when it came to matters which concerned no one except the voluntary participants.  While none of these communities were particularly long-lived, they served to demonstrate that people are capable of living equitably, in peace and freedom, without being ordered about and regulated by higher authorities of any sort.

Inspired by these pioneers, other writers and advocates of various sorts sought to promote the ideas of individualism and anarchy among the broader community.  They campaigned against profit, rent, interest, and what has become known as intellectual “property,” ie, patent and copyright, all of which serve to aggrandize the few at the expense of the many.  And none of which could exist without a state to force them down the throats of those suffer because of them.

These individualists shared the ideas of the earlier anarchists, but developed or elaborated on them in various ways.  They promoted mutual banks, free credit, labor reform, free love, and free speech.  They believed there was no justification for any form of state or government, since free people were more than capable of sorting things out for themselves in all areas, whether economic, social, or sexual, once the privileges granted and coercion practiced by the state were abolished.

This tradition pretty much faded out around 100 years ago and the anarchist individualist current was dormant until it was “rediscovered” in the 1960s.  At this time, some of its advocates once again reinterpreted the ideas of its earlier exponents in innovative ways.  While accepting much of the legacy of Warren, Tucker, etc, these writers and activists rejected some of their economic ideas as outdated and introduced the heretical idea that one could be pro-capitalist as well as an anarchist.  While rejected as “real” anarchists by most anti-capitalist libertarians, the pro-capitalists have contributed in important ways to anarchist thought.

Although pro-capitalist anarchists have a high profile among libertarian individualists, there continue to be some of us who advocate approaches more like those of the historical individualist anarchist writers and activists.  We call ourselves all sorts of things, from mutualists, to market socialists, to, simply, individualists.  We all differ among ourselves, but share a commitment to individual liberty, which is, after all, what is most important in the anarchist tradition.

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