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This booklet collects five essays from the individualist anarchist Benjamin R. Tucker on the nature of competition, labor, pay, stateless markets and the ideal of socialism. Included are: (1) “Socialism: What It Is,” (2) “Armies That Overlap,” (3) “Should Labor be Paid or Not?” (4) “Does Competition Mean War?” and (5) “Competition and Monopoly Confounded.”
“To-day (pardon the paradox!) society is fundamentally anti social.The whole so-called social fabric rests on privilege and power, and is disordered and strained in every direction by the inequalities that necessarily result therefrom. The welfare of each, instead of contributing to that of all, as it naturally should and would, almost invariably detracts from that of all. Wealth is made by legal privilege a hook with which to filch from labor’s pockets. Every man who gets rich thereby makes his neighbor poor. The better off one is, the worse off the rest are. . . .
“What’s one man’s meat must no longer be another’s poison; no man shall be able to add to his riches except by labor; every increase of capital in the hands of the laborer tends, in the absence of legal monopoly, to put more products, better products, cheaper products, and a greater variety of products within the reach of every man who works; and this fact means the physical, mental, and moral perfecting of mankind, and the realization of human fraternity. . . A large number of people, who see the evils of usury and are desirous of destroying them, foolishly imagine they can do so by authority, and accordingly are trying to abolish privilege by centering all production and activity in the State to the destruction of competition and its blessings, to the degradation of the individual, and to the putrefaction of Society. Their efforts are bound to prove abortive. But the very reasonable and just criticisms of the individualists upon State Socialism, when analyzed, are found to be directed, not against the Socialism, but against the State. . . . Liberty insists on Socialism — on true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism: the prevalence on earth of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity. . . .” — Benjamin R. Tucker
Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) was an incredibly influential market anarchist active from the 1870s through 1908. He is best known as the publisher and chief writer for Liberty, a leading anarchist newspaper published at Boston, and for his work as a translator and publisher of avant-garde literature and radical texts from Europe. Tucker prepared and published the first English translations of key works by Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin and Stirner; he also played a major role in introducing the works of Ibsen, Hugo, and Nietzsche to American literary audiences.