Mutual Exchange Radio: William Gillis on Positive and Negative Liberty

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Our guest this month was someone familiar to many in the audience, Will Gillis. Will is the director of the Center for a Stateless Society and is a second-generation anarchist who’s worked as an activist in countless projects since getting involved in the lead-up to N30. He studies physics and writes regularly on the egalitarian potential of markets. His writing can be found on his website,, as well as on

Today’s discussion centers around a technical topic in political philosophy that has utmost importance for real-world political movements and many ideological debates: the distinction between positive and negative liberty. Will positions himself as defending a universalist conception of positive liberty as primary, against neo-Lockean libertarian views that place negative liberty as fundamental. He also discusses how a heavy priority on negative liberty has led many American libertarians to alt-right and fascist perspectives.

This is a fun, philosophically exciting conversation and I hope it is as thought-provoking for you as it was for me. Be warned though, it is a long one which was necessary since we covered a lot of ground and Will takes a lot of great philosophical sophistication and thoughtfulness into his views, which I hope comes across here.

Beyond this most recent episode, big things are happening over at the Mutual Exchange Radio Patreon! We’ve added new swag for supporters, including pins, buttons, stickers, and zines. Bonus content is going up more slowly than planned, but lookout for more soon! And if you have ideas for episodes, questions for upcoming guests, or anything else, reach out on Patreon and let us know!

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory