Individualist Anarchism is a philosophical tradition that opposes collectivism and has a particularly strong emphasis on the supremacy and autonomy of the individual. The tradition appears most often in the United States, most notably in regard to its advocacy of private property.Individualist anarchism's roots includes Europeans such as William Godwin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Emile Armand, Oscar Wilde, Han Ryner and Max Stirner (who is also connected to the existentialist philosophy), though the individualist anarchist tradition draws heavily on American independent thinkers, including Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Ezra Heywood, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and Henry David Thoreau. The writer and poet John Henry Mackay is also considered an individualist anarchist. Contemporary individualist anarchists include Robert Anton Wilson, Joe Peacott, Daniel Burton, Kevin Carson, and Keith Preston. Individualist anarchism is sometimes seen as an evolution of classical liberalism, and hence, has been called 'liberal anarchism'.
Some of the 19th century individual anarchists, such as Benjamin Tucker, referred to themselves as socialists. Paul Gagnon says "the libertarian socialists such as Proudhon were not socialists in the usual sense of today, meaning state socialists, because they did believe in property rights. They were oriented toward cooperative and decentralized forms of ownership -- yet they agreed with other progressive libertarians in advocating genuinely free markets, with an end to land monopoly and other government-created monopolies." He says the libertarian socialists were divided into two main categories: "the individualists who remained true to Proudhonian mutualism and the collectivists represented by the anarcho-communists."
However, this is true only in a general sense, as there is significant variation between individual philosophers who do not fully align with Proudhon (Proudhon, for example, saw the need for regulating the market and favoured co-operatives to replace wage labour). The key difference between anarchists is that individualists support the product of labor as being property of the individual while communist anarchists consider social ownership of such products more just, while arguing that peasants, artisans and other workers may retain control over their own land and tools as well as the product of their labour if they so desired. Most syndicalists agree with their communist fellows while collectivist anarchists (like Mikhail Bakunin) favoured workers' having ownership of their produce, at least for a period after a successful revolution.
- Individualist Anarchist Resources
- A Vindication of Natural Society: or, a View of the Miseries and Evils arising to Mankind from every Species of Artificial Society by Edmund Burke - some regard this liberal essay to be the first to advocate anarchy
- Enquiry Concerning Political Justice by William Godwin
- The Ego and his Own by Max Stirner, translated by Christian individualist anarchist Steven T. Byington
- Manifesto by Josiah Warren (1841)
- Equitable Commerce by Josiah Warren
- State Socialism and Anarchism: How far they agree, and wherein they differ. by Benjamin Tucker (1886)
- Anarchist Individualism as Life and Activity by E. Armand (1907)
- I. Liberal-Anarchism VIII. Libertarianism from The Conquest of Power, by Albert Weisbord discusses individualism of Godwin and Stirner
- American Liberal-Anarchism from The Conquest of Power, by Albert Weisbord
- American Anarchism by Wendy McElroy 19th Century Individualist Anarchism in America
- A critique of Individualist Anarchism by Murray Bookchin
- Bad Press Contemporary Individualist Anarchist Publications
- The Schism Between Individualist and Communist Anarchism
- Proudhon and Anarchism by Larry Gambone
- Individualist Anarchist Society at UC Berkeley
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