ECON 325 RADICAL ECONOMICS - College Of Business and …

Spooner and Tucker
D. Allen Dalton
ECON 325 – Radical Economics
Boise State University
Fall 2011
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)
• Born on farm in Athol, Massachusetts
• Trained, but not educated in law; set
up practice in Worcester, led to
repeal of college requirement for
• Founded American Letter Mail
Company in 1844, challenging US Post
Office monopoly; commercially
successful but government legal
actions forced out of business
• Abolitionist, The Unconstitutionality
of Slavery (1846)
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887)
• Essay on the Trial by Jury (1852)
• Condemned the Civil War and
Reconstruction and the hypocrisy of
the Republican Party
• No Treason pamphlets (1867-1870),
including No Treason No. 6: The
Constitution of No Authority
• Vices are Not Crimes: A vindication
of Moral Liberty (1875)
• Natural Law, Or the Science of
Justice (1882)
“The science of mine and thine – the science of justice –
is the science of all human rights…
It is the science which alone can tell any man what he
can, and cannot, do; what he can, and cannot have;
what he can, and cannot, say, without infringing the
rights of any other person…
…obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz.,
that each should live honestly towards every other.
The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man’s legal duty
to his fellow men to be simply this: ‘To live honestly,
to hurt no one, to give to every one his due.’ “
- Natural Law, p. 1
Spooner’s Teaching
• Basis – Natural Law, the Science of Justice;
acts of initiatory coercion violate justice
• On Law – Man-made legislation not confirming
to the Natural Law are null and void, and are
themselves illegal.
• On the State – Founded in violence;
necessarily opposes justice
• On Society – The sum of voluntary
associations by which men seek to maintain
justice and protect themselves against
Spooner’s Teaching
“The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to
a man: 'Your money, or your life.' And many, if not most,
taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The
government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely
place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a
pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the
robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it
is far more dastardly and shameful. The highwayman takes
solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of
his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful
claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your
own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a
robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess
to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money
against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those
infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect
themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of
Spooner’s Teaching
…Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you
wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the
road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful
'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you.
He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to
bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and
forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as
often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so;
and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to
your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you
dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much
of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults,
and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to
robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his
slave. “
- No Treason, No. 6: The Constitution of No Authority,
p. 19
Spooner’s Teaching
• On Rights – Individuals possess rights
inherently due to their nature as human
“…incapable of being blotted out, extinguished,
annihilated, or separated or eliminated form his
nature as a human being, or deprived of their
inherent authority or obligation.”
- Natural Law, p. 2
“To deny the obligation of justice is…to deny the
existence of any moral obligation whatever
among men, in their relations to each other.”
- Natural Law, p. 3
Spooner’s Teaching
• On Property – Lockean view; property in
justice must be separated from
property by legislation
• Economics – Money monopoly source of
capitalist exploitation of labor
“All the great establishments, of every kind, now
in the hands of a few proprietors, but employing
a great number of wage labourers, would be
broken up; for few, or no persons, who could
hire capital, and do business for themselves,
would consent to labour for wages for another."
- A Letter to Grover Cleveland, p. 41
Spooner’s Teaching
• On Transition – Jury nullification
important source of citizen power in
ending unjust laws; use of law to
overturn legislation; transition must be
peaceful – in accordance with the
Science of Justice
Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939)
• Born in South Dartmouth,
• Studied technology; became
acquainted with Josiah Warren,
Equitable Commerce (1852); “Cost the
limit of price”
• Turned to publishing; began publishing
“Liberty” in 1881
• Instead of a Book (1893)
• 1908 fire destroys printing equipment
and 30-year stock of books and
pamphlets; retires to France
Egoistic Utilitarianism
“The Anarchists are not only utilitarians,
but egoists in the farthest and fullest
- Instead of a Book, p. 21
“Equal liberty means the largest amount
of liberty compatible with equality and
mutuality of respect, on the part of
individuals living in society, for their
respective spheres of action.”
- Instead of a Book, p. 65.
Tucker’s Teaching
• Basis – Fulfilling one’s self-interest is
the basis of human happiness; equality is
necessary for a stable society.
• On Law – Law is necessary for
maintaining equal liberty; the people,
through the jury, are the judges of
facts, law, justice of law, applicability
and punishment.
Tucker’s Teaching
• On the State – The State is opposed to
Equal Liberty; the State is an
organization that aggresses against the
Equal Liberty and claims authority over
all those within a geographic area. All
acts of government are dependent upon
taxation and therefore invasive. The
State monopolizes defense services.
Competition would serve individuals
Tucker’s Teaching
• On Society – Society is man’s dearest
possession. Society is inseparable from
individual life.
• Organization of the Stateless Society –
Society will be held together by
contract through the voluntary
association of individuals; such voluntary
associations can have “no dominion over
a territory.” Voluntary “taxation” as well
as payments for service may exist to
support the voluntary associations.
Tucker’s Teaching
• The Stateless Society (cont.) – Mutual
insurance companies, mutual banks, and
competitive voluntary defense
associations will all be prominent
institutions replacing the State.
Tucker’s Teaching
• On Property – Property per se, is
unobjectionable. What matters is the
distribution of property. Under the
current system, the distribution of
property is built upon Four Monopolies:
Money Monopoly
Land Monopoly
Tariff Monopoly
Patent Monopoly
Tucker’s Teaching
• On Property – The Four Monopolies raise
prices above costs and produce usury (≡
taking of surplus value). Labor does not
receive the full fruits of its production. Free
money and credit, Free land, Free trade, and
Free intellectual property will increase supply
and lower prices to equal costs. All forms of
usury - profits, rent and interest- will
disappear. Labor will be rewarded its full
product. Inequality will not disappear, but only
the limited inequality between one laborer’s
product and another.
Tucker’s Teaching
“Nearly all Anarchists consider labor to be
the only basis of the right of ownership in
harmony with that law [the law of Equal
“…in the case of land, or of any other
material the supply of which is so limited
that all cannot hold it in unlimited quantities,
Anarchism undertakes to protect no titles
except such as are based on actual
occupancy and use.”
- Instead of a Book, p. 131, 61
Tucker’s Teaching
• Economics – Tucker possesses the most
sophisticated economics of any of the
major anarchists. He operates within a
theoretical rather than a philosophical
framework. He pays attention to
“economic” questions.
• On Transition – Convince people that
their interests demand change; freedom
of speech and press; individual
resistance leading to general resistance.
Tucker’s Teaching
“Passive resistance is the most potent
weapon ever wielded by man against
“…fallacious idea that Anarchy can be
inaugurated by force.”
- Instead of a Book, p.413, 427

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