Byron Fraser on Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty

Benjamin R. Tucker and The Champions of Liberty

-Edited by Michael E. Coughlin, Charles H.
Hamilton, and Mark A. Sullivan

         ( reviewed by Byron Fraser)

I am pleased to announce the publication of a marvelous new
anthology of interest to all libertarians, but especially to those
anarchists among us. It is widely acknowledged that modern-day
libertarianism draws on two historical intellectual legacies:
the classical liberal and the individualist anarchist. While
the classical liberal is the better known of the two, the indiv-
idualist anarchist tradition has been kept alive through such
classic works as James J. Martin’s Men Against The State: The
Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827-1908.

Over the years there have been numerous articles in libertarian
journals and magazines which have also kept us in touch with the
vital work of our forefathers. Now, for the first time in a book-
length form, we have a group of essays which will update and
nurture the younger generation of libertarians who are following
in the well-trodden footsteps of a century or more ago.

The editors have gathered together a truly stellar line-up of
contributors to shed their illuminating focus on the past. There
is Paul Avrich, author of The Russian Anarchists and The
Haymarket Tragedy
. Also Michael E. Coughlin, long-time publish-
er of the dandelion as well as Rudolf Rocker’s Nationalism
and Culture,
among other works. Charles H. Hamilton, publisher
of Free Life Editions puts in an appearance. And the famous
Mildred J. Loomis of the School of Living is featured in a
collaborative effort with Mark A. Sullivan of The Storm and
the MacKay Society. Wendy McElroy, known to most readers for
her book Freedom, Feminism and the State is also included.
S. E. Parker, probably the world’s leading authority on the work
of Max Stirner and for many years the publisher of Minus One,
weighs in with an account of a little-known English egoist.
Sharon Presley, well-known in libertarian circles for her work
with the Association of Libertarian Feminists–and as co-founder
of Laissez-Faire Books– offers a piece on the feminist themes
in Liberty. William 0. Reichert, author of Partisans of Free-
dom: A Study In American. Anarchism
,makes an original contrib-
ution. And Charles Shively, editor of Lysander Spooner’s Coll-
ected Works
, adds a piece on Spooner,Tucker and Liberty.
Carl Watner, independent scholar and publisher of The Volun-
is also included with an essay on the English indiv-

As to substance, there is more than enough to whet the appe-
tite of earnest students of libertarianism. Tucker’s life is
outlined with emphasis on the three decades of publishing his
great journal Liberty before his retirement to France in 1908.

The early influence of Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and
Proudhon is delineated. And a separate essay is devoted to his
collaboration with the advocate of free love and sexual libera-
tlon, Ezra Heywood. Yet another essay explores Lysander Spooner’s
monumental contribution to the advocacy of the true and original
trial by jury in which juries have the right to judge of the law
and of the facts. Also included is an interview with Oriole
Tucker– Benjamin’s daughter. As well there is an essay on the
individualist anarchist’s strategy for liberty: Neither Bombs
Nor Ballots.
Tucker’s life-long relationship to George Bernard
Shaw merits a separate essay, as does the dialogue with Henry
George. Other topics covered include feminism and the contro-
versies over natural rights vs. egoism, intellectual property,
free banking, and the basis for ownership of land. Finally,
there is an essay on Laurance Labadie: Keeper of the Flame,
— the man who kept alive the individualist anarchist ideal
through the dark years of the early and middle part of this

All In all, is a veritable feast for hungry minds. I cannot close, however,
without saying that the individualist anarchists were not without
their faults and that their “ideology” cannot be digested uncrit-
ically. For an insightful modern perspective on their work, I
heartily recommend Murray Rothbard’s The Spooner-tucker Doctrine:

          An Economists’s View” contained in the collection of essays Egalitarianism

As A Revolt Against Nature. But for all that, I really cannot too highly recommend

This volume.  It gets us in touch with the core of our beliefs and with our still

vital heritage.

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