As I’ve mentioned before, I have been working on an online edition of Benjamin Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One for the Fair Use Repository. Work is ongoing, and I’m pleased to announce that Part IV: Socialism is now available in full online. The articles in this section defend Tucker’s conception of socialism against critics both from the state socialist and from the anti-socialist camps; he argues that the most consistent and logical form of socialism, i.e. anarchistic socialism, in fact means radical laissez-faire in economics–voluntary socialism, based on the eradication of monopolistic legal privileges for capitalists, and the practice of bottom-up mutual aid between workers. The details are discussed more in Part II and Part III than here; his main target in Part IV are those critics who treat
Socialism as if it were synonymous with
State Socialism, thus making it seem as though the only options were the nationalization of all industry (passed off as if this were synonymous with
Socialism), or else the perpetuation of legal privileges to the capitalist class (passed off as if this were synonymous with
Free Markets). Here’s something from the first essay, Socialism: What It Is.
Do you like the word Socialism?said a lady to me the other day;I fear I do not; somehow I shrink when I hear it. It is associated with so much that is bad! Ought we to keep it?
The lady who asked this question is an earnest Anarchist, a firm friend of Liberty, and—it is almost superfluous to add—highly intelligent. Her words voice the feeling of many. But after all it is only a feeling, and will not stand the test of thought.Yes,I answered,it is a glorious word, much abused, violently distorted, stupidly misunderstood, but expressing better than any other the purpose of political and economic progress, the aim of the Revolution in this century, the recognition of the great truth that Liberty and Equality, through the law of Solidarity, will cause the welfare of each to contribute to the welfare of all. So good a word cannot be spared, must not be sacrificed, shall not be stolen.
Why, then, does my lady questioner shrink when she hears the word Socialism? I will tell her. Because 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 centring 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. They are well-meaning but misguided people, and their efforts are bound to prove abortive. Their influence is mischievous principally in this: that a large number of other people, who have not yet seen the evils of usury and do not know that Liberty will destroy them, but nevertheless earnestly believe in Liberty for Liberty’s sake, are led to mistake this effort to make the State the be-all and end-all of society for the whole of Socialism and the only Socialism, and, rightly horrified at it, to hold it up as such to the deserved scorn of mankind. But the very reasonable and just criticisms of the individualists of this stripe upon State Socialism, when analyzed, are found to be directed, not against the Socialism, but against the State. So far Liberty is with them. But Liberty insists on Socialism, nevertheless,—on true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism: the prevalence on earth of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity. From that my lady questioner will never shrink.
You can find a break-down of the essays from Fair Use Blog 2007-10-26. Read, cite, and enjoy!