Politics in Minutes (2016)

Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism puts personal freedom and the rights of the individual above the authority of the state, nation, class or any hierarchical structure. The earliest strand of anarchism, it is in effect an assertion of individual sovereignty. William Godwin, the first to develop what is known as philosophical anarchism, was an early influence. He argued that government corrupts society, because it encourages dependency and ignorance, and imposes upon an individual’s right to ‘private judgement’. Godwin also dismissed various cooperative and rule-determined practices, such as law, private property and marriage, as mental enslavement. Subsequently, Max Stirner promoted a more extreme view arguing for what he described as unions of ‘egoists’, based entirely on self-interest. As individualist anarchism spread, Benjamin Tucker suggested each individual should enjoy the maximum liberty, compatible with others. Individualist anarchists tend to reject revolution as a means of bringing about change, arguing that it can result in new hierarchies.

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Published between 1881 and 1908 by Benjamin Tucker, Liberty was an American anarchist periodical.