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Andrews and Walker: Anarchist Classics Online

Two more additions to the Molinari Online Library:

  • Stephen Pearl Andrews – disciple of Josiah Warren, sometime speechwriter for Victoria Woodhull, and an important influence on Benjamin Tucker – was an abolitionist, feminist, labour activist, individualist anarchist, and a leading proponent of “free love” – a term which in Andrews’ day denoted not promiscuity but simply the banishment of all compulsion, governmental or otherwise, from sexual and/or marital relations. Hence Andrews opposed the legal subordination of wives to husbands, as well as legal restrictions on divorce, birth control, consensual sex, and sex-related publications – the complete separation of sex and state.

    In 1852-53 Andrews had a rather acerbic debate in the press with Horace Greeley (of “go west, young man” fame) and Henry James Sr. (father of the novelist) on the question of individual freedom generally and freedom of divorce specifically. This fascinating and quirky exchange was shortly reprinted as a separate book under the title Love, Marriage, and Divorce and the Sovereignty of the Individual.

  • Edwin C. Walker, writing some fifty years later, was likewise an individualist anarchist, “free love” advocate, and sometime associate of Tucker’s. (Today he is best known for his non-state-sanctioned marriage to fellow activist Lillian Harman, and consequent imprisonment.) Then as now, there were some in the anarchist movement who were convinced that morality was simply one more oppressive force to be discarded along with the state; it was against this view that Walker directed his 1904 pamphlet Communism and Conscience, Pentecost and Paradox; also, Crimes and Criminals, defending morality on broadly Spencerian grounds. (Although Walker’s ostensible target is anarcho-communist Hugh Pentecost, one suspects he also has in his sights the Stirnerite views of his fellow individualist anarchist Tucker.)

    Along the way Walker touches on a variety of topics, from property rights to punishment theory; while his thinking sometimes seems a bit muddled (for example, he can’t seem to decide between hard and soft determinism, and his discussion of the ethics of boycotts evidently conflates “injury” in the sense of a rights-violation with “injury” in the sense of making someone worse off), he scores some sound hits against both moral nihilism and “thin” libertarianism. Murray Rothbard and Jerome Tuccille seem to have thought highly enough of the work to include it in their series “The Right-Wing Individualist Tradition in America” for Arno Press in 1972.

This is the first appearance of either work online.


Contact Roderick T. Long

Roderick T. Long is a senior fellow of the Mises Institute and a professor of philosophy at Auburn University. He runs the Molinari Institute and Molinari Society. His website is Praxeology.net.

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