Neither Bombs Nor Ballots: Liberty & The Strategy Of Anarchism

by Morgan Edwards

The relationship of means and ends in the anarchist movement was a constant concern to Benjamin R. Tucker and the other contributors to Liberty. The strategy created by Tucker, Victor Yarros, Steven Byington, Henry Appleton and others became a feature of the individualist anarchist movement as distinctively its own as were its political-economic goals.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a description of the working strategies discussed in the columns of Liberty. I have treated the material thematically; I first discuss the two major strategies rejected by Tucker and the "plumb-line" anarchists, and then the strategic campaign that they developed and promoted. Another section examines in detail a single campaign actually organized and directed in Liberty's pages and whose only participants were Liberty readers. In the final section, I examine Tucker as a strategist and draw some conclusions concerning the strategies available to, and discussed by, the Liberty anarchists.


I. Dynamite and Insurrection

In any movement of social revolt, a certain amount of romanticizing of violence is common. Images of apocalypse and redemption pervade much radical literature, sometimes elevating obvious fantasy to the level of ideology. Anarchism has certainly not been completely free of this theme (in the popular press, of course, especially after Haymarket, anarchism was nothing but violence), and part of Tucker's importance derived from his determination to free the anarchist movement from a theoretical or practical reliance on force.1

In the first few years of Liberty, Tucker himself dabbled more than a little in praise of violence and "the real stuff," as dynamite was known in the labor movement. In 1883, he wrote that "Dynamite . . . sets thought and intelligence in motion . . . (Assassination) exchanges . . . bloody and worthless scoundrels for whole volumes of enlightening discussion." Tucker argued further that such judicious acts of violence caused numerous articles to appear in the "great popular reviews" that had previously ignored the social question. Upon the assassination of the French political leader, Leon Gambetta, Tucker commented that "Liberty, . . . simply voicing a sincere desire for the public welfare, can only rejoice." Occasionally his laudation was completely unrestrained; in another early issue he exclaimed, "Success to the Nihilists! They are the only men and women in Russia who do not assent. Liberty honors their deeds and their memories, without fear and without equivocation."2

However, as a general policy, from the beginning of Liberty, Tucker opposed violence. The very issue (Sept. 17, 1881) that praised the Nihilists and had words of approval for . . . the "tyrant-slayers" also had these words: "Our methods are methods of peace. Liberty is not the advocate of force. Speaking for itself, it hates murderous weapons of all descriptions. It enters into no planning, plotting, or dark and secret measures of assassination or revolution . . . Liberty fights . . . with the ploughshare of thought and the lance of freest criticism, disbelieving in all other weapons - those that are death-dealing and not life-giving." And the Liberty of January 20, 1883 - the same number that "rejoiced" at Gambetta's permanent retirement - warned that "The student of Liberty must constantly endeavor to disassociate his imagination from sanguinary dramas of assassination and revolt. These constitute the accidents of the struggle, which are no outcome of Liberty's philosophy, and for which despotism, not she, is alone responsible."3

The key to understanding this apparent contradiction lies in realizing that for Tucker, and to varying degrees many of the other Liberty anarchists, to use or not to use violence was a question of policy not principle, Five months after the Haymarket hangings, in response to criticism by the fire-eating communist/anarchist, Johann Most, of the tactics favored by Libertas (Liberty's short-lived German language edition), Tucker defended his position that "as long as freedom of speech and of the press is not struck down, there should be no resort to physical force in the struggle against oppression." Furthermore, "not until the gag had become completely efficacious would Libertas advise that last resort, the use of force." Thus, Tucker could support the Nihilists in 1881, warring as they were against a despotism under which even rudimentary civil liberties were unknown, while opposing dynamite and armed rebellion in the freer realms of Europe and America.4

Other Liberty contributors seconded Tucker's opposition to a cult of violence, though for differing reasons and to varying degrees. J. William Lloyd, a professed non-resistant, wrote in an 1888 article entitled "Vengeance" (referring to the Haymarket events): "The world has had enough of blood." Auberon Herbert, an English individualist whose essays Tucker frequently reprinted in Liberty, argued, "Dynamite . . . is government in its most intensified and concentrated form . . . There are some reformers-by-dynamite who imagine that they are on the side of liberty . . . Friends of liberty! No."

"If we cannot by reason, by influence, by example, by strenuous effort, and by personal sacrifice, mend the bad places of civilization, we certainly cannot do it by force."5

Commenting in that issue, Victor Yarros praised Herbert's "philosophical and judicious observations," but then argued that "the question of method is chiefly a question of policy and expediency." Force would fail when "better weapons" were neglected; where the choice is between force and entire inactivity, force may and should be used for the purpose of acquiring the liberty of using the other and better weapons.6

In cases of individual assassination - attentats - Tucker observed the same balance of principle and policy. He rarely praised the assassination - the remarks on Gambetta were unusual - seeing this approach to be largely bloody, futile, and self-defeating. However, he detested the characterization by the bourgeois press of the assassins as "sneaks and cowards," and he maintained them to be "manly, brave and generous."7

Of the assassination of Garfield, he had nothing good to say. "No man regrets it more than we do, and no one would condemn it more strongly than we, had it been the work of a responsible mind." (However, he supported Henri Rochefort of L'Intransigeant when the latter termed Guiteau's execution a judicial assassination.) The killing of French premier Carnot, in 1894, Tucker described as "an act of revenge pure and simple . . . madness and folly;" yet, he argued, "Carnot's death is the natural result of his cruel treatment of Vaillant and Henry (two unsuccessful dynamiteurs who were executed despite having killed no one)."8

Tucker's reaction to Alexander Berkman's attentat against Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead strike in 1892 was thus unexceptional. Tucker compared Berkman favorably to Johann Most - the leading champion in America of propaganda by the deed, who had described Berkman as an individualist anarchist. Tucker replied that Berkman, too, was a communist anarchist, "more individualistic than Most only in this, that he is a brave man and dares to do his own bomb-throwing." Tucker then expressed his belief that Berkman was very likely "a man with whom I have much in common;" Frick, on the contrary, he designated as "a conspicuous member of the brotherhood of thieves. When such a man falls, my tears refuse to follow. I am scarcely sorry that he is suffering; I shall be still less sorry if he dies."

Yet, Tucker could not help but believe that "it would be comparatively easy to dispose of the Fricks, if it were not for the Berkmans. . . The strength of the Fricks rests on violence, now it is to violence that the Berkmans appeal . . . Violence is the power of darkness. If the revolution comes by violence . . . the old struggle will have to be begun anew." He concluded: "No pity for Frick, no praise for Berkman, - such is the attitude of Liberty in the present crisis."9

Thus, Tucker and the individualist anarchists held that, as George Macdonald wrote in 1907, in one of the last numbers of Liberty, "Not Anarchists, but Anarchy - meaning . . . liberty - will do the business for rulers . . . Its action . . . is not sudden or violent . . . (Liberty) does not blow (the ruler) out, as (one) does the gas; but turns him off, instead."10


II. The Ballot

The controversy over the vote as a legitimate reform tool - adumbrated in the 1840s by the arguments between the Garrisonian abolitionists and the Liberty Party - subsumed several areas of disagreement between the Anarchists and other radical groups. The primary issue was whether the ballot had utilitarian or moral value for anarchists (or other radicals) - debates on ballot reform, e.g., women's suffrage and the then-novel referendum, were less important to the anarchists. (The question of a separate political party sponsoring libertarian views seems never to have arisen.)

Issue after issue of Liberty contained discussions on the nature and uselessness of voting, the complicity of voters with the State, and in replies to suffrage reformers Tucker himself left no room for doubt about his position on voting. In the October 1, 1881 Liberty, he wrote, "Every man who casts a ballot necessarily uses it in offense against American liberty, it being the chief instrument of American slavery."1

In "The Ballot-Box Craze," Tucker posed these questions: "Is not the very beginning of privilege, monopoly and industrial slavery this erecting of the ballot-box above the individual? Is not the ballot-box unscientific, anti-social, and a simple transposition of the equation of monarchy?" Tucker continued, "The oppressor housed in ballot-boxes is the same deadly genius that lurks in the palaces." He then makes his essential point: when the enemy is "disguised and parked in the ballot-box, ... (the reformer) is thrown off his wits and glorifies the very arch-devil who has deluded him by a change of base."

Tucker then defined the essential anarchist position on voting to be non-involvement. "Study of the Anarchistic philosophy, as developed by the great Proudhon and actively propagated by the heroic Bakounine and his successors on both sides of the Atlantic would open a whole firmament of light to the gaze of these infatuated ballot-box champions if they would but read as they run . . . From the Anarchistic, the only logical point of departure, the ballot-box craze will soon become the silliest surrender of common sense imaginable."2

Tucker espoused an egoistic and utilitarian, rather than moralistic, stand toward voting. He believed that consequences, not intentions, ruled. "It is precisely and only because the ballot is not at all effective for self-defense that no intelligent Anarchist will use it. But I condemn as partial criminals with the government only those who use the ballot for purposes of offense." He added sardonically, "So far as I know, those are the only people who use it at all."3

Against Hugh Pentecost of the Twentieth Century, who endorsed "ballots" over "bullets," Tucker argued that the vote is merely "a labor-saving device for ascertaining on which side force lies and bowing to the inevitable . . . It is neither more nor less than a paper representative of the bayonet, the bully, and the bullet." Any involvement of "moral or intellectual processes" is "incidental." Tucker went so far as to esteem the bomb above the ballot as an effective weapon against government. "The ballot can and will be dodged by the oppressor, but there is no dodging the bomb."4

Despite the weight of Tucker's arguments, some anarchists yielded to the blandishments of electoral reform. August McCraith confessed in the December, 1900 Liberty, that although "voting is not right, anti-imperialistic sympathies had impelled him to vote for the first time in seven years." In reply, Tucker admonished McCraith on the futility of his action, adding piously that "one must feel unpleasantly at having been a criminal in vain."5

Victor Yarros, a long-time contributor to Liberty's polemics, and for a time co-editor of the journal, was one of the many who supplied the "plumb-line" position on voting. In 1887 he wrote that "from the standpoint of anarchistic philosophy there can be but one answer to this question. Except in a society formed by intelligent people on a voluntary basis, voting is wrong; despotic, archistic, and unjustifiable. To vote is to govern, it is also to be governed . . . (In this world of) masters and slaves, to use the ballot is to become a partner in the gigantic conspiracy against equal rights and equity and to assume responsibility for its existence."

Yarros also argued that dynamite was even to be preferred as a weapon over the ballot, "the poorest, the most impotent, the most uncertain of weapons." Dynamite was also superior as exemplar. "Dynamite . . . [is] preeminently a revolutionary force, while the ballot is a legal instrument and is used by all friends of 'law and order.' To propagate Anarchism while regularly visiting the polls is impossible, because the people will . . . note your act . . . (not) your long-winded explanations, and the act being seemingly a contradiction of the Anarchistic principles, derision and contempt will fall to your lot."6

The anarchists' position on the vote led them to oppose measures such as women's suffrage and the referendum that liberals and state socialists considered progressive. Since almost all anarchists opposed voting, they logically opposed its extension.

The anarchist opposition to women's suffrage included both sexes. "Max" (Alan Kelly) wrote, "Either women should vote or men should not - and men should not." Caroline de Maupasant, although favoring equal rights for both sexes, wished to "protest against the use of the ballot by women." Women voters in Wyoming had only "learned the art of selling their votes."7

Tucker's stand on women's suffrage was unequivocal. "There is no freedom that I would grant to any man that I would refuse to woman, and there is no freedom that I would refuse to either man or woman except the freedom to invade. [However], whoever has the ballot has the freedom to invade, and whoever wants the ballot wants the freedom to invade." Give woman equality with man, by all means; but do it by taking power from man, not giving it to woman."8

At best, the Liberty anarchists saw the ballot as a week, last-resort instrument of self-defense; at worst, they considered it one of the state's ¨"most potent instruments of tyranny." Most supported the fear expressed by Dr. M.E. Lazarus (writing as "Edgeworth"), when he said, "Every vote for a governing officer is an instrument for enslaving me."9

Benjamin Tucker undoubtedly expressed the sincerest hopes of all the anarchists in the December, 1904 Liberty: "When the polling booths are deserted, the knell of plutocracy will be sounded. One-third of the legal voters in the United States now do not exercise their prerogative, and, after a while, it will be one-half, then two-thirds, and then - then the politicians will begin to get excited."10


III. Liberty's Strategy

In 1889, John Beverley Robinson wrote to Liberty on the difficulty of promoting anarchism as a social goal. "People invariably feel, if they do not ask, 'How are you going to accomplish it?' "1

Tucker and Liberty became involved with this question of means as much as with honing the arguments favoring anarchism. In Tucker's view, the anarchist strategy was by no means inherent or obvious, but instead a calculated policy.

Disagreements over strategy, no matter how violent, thus did not exclude anyone from acceptance as an anarchist. "An Anarchist is anyone who denies the necessity and legitimacy of government; the question of his methods of attacking it is foreign to the definition." Although Tucker claimed that communist anarchists who meant to force a communal property system on everyone were not anarchists at all, but rather authoritarian "revolutionary communists," he never denied that a dynamiter or even a voter could be an anarchist. He merely considered their folly to be nearly absolute.2

The "revolutionary" anarchists, following Bakunin and Kropotkin, argued the apocalyptic vision of the new society replacing the old at a single stroke. (This was the ideal; in practice many smaller blows might be needed.) The "reformist" anarchists - who in practice tended towards being merely radical unionists, populists, and single-taxers - argued the elimination of government by the gradual and peaceful means of the ballot; in essence, vote in anarchy. Both had serious theoretical shortcomings, according to the frequent criticisms by Tucker and the Liberty circle.

The Liberty anarchists championed, as an alternative to both bomb and ballot, the concept of passive resistance. Tucker described the virtues of this strategy: "It is the only resistance which in these days of military discipline resists with any result. There is not a tyrant in the civilized world today who would not do anything in his power to precipitate a bloody revolution rather than see himself confronted by any large fraction of his subjects determined not to obey. An insurrection is easily quelled, but no army is willing or able to train its guns on inoffensive people who do not even gather in the streets but stay at home and stand back on their rights. Neither the ballot nor the bayonet are to play any great part in the coming struggle; passive resistance, and in emergencies, the dynamite bomb in the hands of isolated individuals are the instruments by which the revolutionary force is destined to secure in the last great conflict the people's rights forever."3

Unlike the competing strategies of violence and electoral politics, passive resistance and its adherents could not be absorbed into or co-opted by the campaigns of state socialists or liberal reformers. As Victor Yarros argued, "passive resistance is essentially an Anarchistic method," which "contemplates only defense and self-protection, ~and is absolutely incapable of constraining or commanding others." An additional advantage of passive resistance lay in its utility even to a small number, "whereas revolution and politics depend entirely for their issue upon the overwhelming force of numbers."4

Since passive resistance was a policy, not an absolute principle, occasion might arise for other strategies. Victor Yarros thought there were "no fixed rules" for determining "wise resistance" to invasion. "Where the right of resistance is once conceded, the question of method becomes simply one of expediency, safety, certainty, and speed . . . . Passive resistance is not always possible. What we maintain is that, where it is possible, it is superior and preferable to all other methods."5

Tucker frequently described and analyzed acts of passive resistance. The Irish Land League was an early source of inspiration; Tucker likewise brought attention to the resistance by non-conformists in England to a school tax - "The appeal to conscience, to individual judgment, is fatal to the whole business of governmentalism." In February, 1906, he rejoiced that "the power of passive resistance has been strikingly illustrated in Russia" by several general strikes. Only one strike was "truly, magnificently successful," and that one had been "absolutely pacific . . . of the sort that Tolstoi has been urging for years. The workers put down their tools and walked out, and the government panicked." In the next issue, Tucker hailed "passive resistance and boycotting" as having become "prominent features of every great national movement."6

Many advocates of non-violent revolution were, like Tolstoy or J. William Lloyd (of the Liberty circle), non-resistants opposed to any violence under any circumstances as a matter of unbending principle. Proponents of passive resistance felt compelled to distinguish their strategy from this principle that they regarded as naive and unworkable. An important review of the distinctions between passive resistance and non-resistance was in a reply by Tucker to a letter from John Beverley Robinson, one of the non-resistant anarchists and a Liberty regular. Robinson had inquired if passive resistance was not merely another name for non-resistance. On that understanding, he had urged Tucker to accept fully "your own (Tucker's) principles" and "totally abjure violence."7

Tucker replied, "The chief difference is this: passive resistance is regarded by its champions as a mere policy, while non-resistance is viewed by those who favor it as a principal or universal rule. Believers in passive resistance consider it as generally more effective than active resistance, but think that there are certain cases in which the opposite is true; believers in non-resistance consider either that it is immoral to actively resist or else that it is always unwise to do so."8

Robinson asserted that government is essentially compulsion by violence and that to be consistent, anarchists must eschew violence. Tucker countered that "Anarchists do not so define government. To them the essence of government is invasion . . . . Why should Anarchists, protesting against invasion and determined not to be invaded, not use violence against it, provided at any time violence shall seem the most effective method of putting a stop to it?"9

Passive resistance was not violence, but neither was it quiet submission. Tucker and other advocates of passive resistance believed that it promised "vigorous resistance to invaders and aggressors." Its weapons and tactics were manifold; but chief among them was the boycott.10

The word "boycott" was just one year older than Liberty itself; James Redpath first publicly used the term (devised by John O'Mally, an Irish priest) in August, 1881. The need for the new word arose from the struggle of the Irish Land League against the British landholders and government in Ireland in the eighteen-seventies and eighties. The landlords and the British newspapers widely condemned the boycott practice, largely because it was extremely effective. The use of the boycott, of course, was far older than the name.11

With the appearance of Liberty, both the Land League and the boycott gained a new voice in their support. Tucker praised the Land League, essentially for its employment of passive resistance and characterized it as "Ireland's true government: the wonderful Land League, the nearest approach, on a large scale, to perfect Anarchistic organization that the world has yet seen. An immense number of local groups, scattered over . . . . two continents; each group autonomous, each group free, each inspired by a common, central purpose; each supported entirely by voluntary contributions, each obeying its own judgment; . . . all coordinated and federated, with a minimum of machinery and without sacrifice of spontaneity, into a vast working unit, whose unparalleled power makes tyrants tremble and armies of no avail."12

Tucker backed the manifesto of the League to Irish tenants to "pay no rent whatsoever" and adjured the Irish to hold to the principles of passive resistance. After Land League speeches appeared in India, as did the League's no-rent manifesto, Tucker applauded the "prospect of a Land League being started in Hindostan."13

By June of 1882, when the political dealings of League leaders Patrick Ford and Michael Davitt had begun to suborn the revolutionary intent of the original idea, Tucker devoted three-quarters of one entire issue to the Land League situation - an unusually intensive and detailed examination. Four months later, he concluded glumly: "We might as well speak plainly and say that the Irish Land League, of once glorious promise, has degenerated into a miserable, humiliating farce . . . . We regret exceedingly to say this, for at one time, while the mammoth no-rent strike was in full blast, Ireland seemed destined to score a victory in modern social methods which would have revolutionized reform and struck with sure death landlordism and politics at one blow." Tucker blamed the failure on the people's "man-worship" of leaders and priests, and the inevitable betrayal thereby.14

Excepting this discussion of the Land League, the boycott issue was a more frequent subject in Liberty from the eighteen-nineties on than in earlier years, remaining a topical matter to the journal's end.

Objections to the boycott were numerous, from both employers and radicals. The boycott was invasive; the boycott was unfair and interfered with someone's livelihood; or else, while an individual might refuse to patronize someone's business, for many to agree to do so was "conspiracy" and illegal. Tucker defended the boycott against all detractors and criticisms.

"The very foundation stone of equal liberty must be the freedom not to do - the right to do nothing. The boycott, either individual or collective, is nothing but the exercise of freedom." Tucker argued that the boycott is not invasive because "you do not interfere with a man by ignoring him."15

Tucker levelled some of his heaviest criticism against those whose support of boycotting in any form was partial or qualified and therefore, he held, inconsistent and illogical. One result was an extensive debate in Liberty between Tucker and the economist Hugo Bilgram, with additional pro-boycott arguments by "S.R."; the debate ran from April through August of 1903. In response to critics of the boycott, Tucker repeatedly hammered home his message: "The boycott," he wrote, "is a powerful thing, but it cannot be used for invasive purposes." His establishment opponents on this Issue thought it was too powerful; even some of Liberty's regular contributors (like Bilgram and E.C. Walker) thought the boycott, or at least "secondary" boycotts, to be invasive.16

"S.R." argued that no real distinction existed between "primary" boycotts - by the turn of the century usually regarded as legal and unobjectionable - and "secondary" boycotts, strikes and blacklisting. (Tucker considered the blacklist to be "simply the employers' boycott.") Both Tucker and S.R. argued that a boycott to induce others to aid the original boycott - a so-called "secondary" boycott - was no more invasive than the "primary." S.R. pointed out that if the boycott was permissible at all, then individuals or groups might boycott for many reasons. "Refusing to co-operate with us in a given boycott . . . is simply one of the possible reasons for boycotting."17

Yet, for many years the boycott in any form was anathema to a large segment of the press and public. "Boycott is a foreign word, Anarchistic and un-Christian," fumed one New York clergyman; to a Memphis paper, the boycott was only "less heinous than Anarchism."18

Such an exhibition of spleen could not pass without notice in Liberty. After suggesting that ignoring offensive individuals was surely an improvement over clubbing them, Steven Byington wondered why the boycott had so poor a name. "The reason is plain; the State is afraid of it. The boycott offers a means for making another do as you wish without calling in the State's aid . . . . It tends to bring the State into contempt. In opposing the boycott the friends of the State are protecting the State from a competitor who would soon take away the bulk of the business." Joseph A. Labadie agreed: "The boycott is non-invasive, and the authoritarians don't know how to deal with weapons that do not need force or violence to be effective . . . . They have the advantage . . . . in the game of war; but, when it comes to passive resistance and non-invasive methods, they are paralyzed." And Victor Yarros described examples of public action by boycott, comparing this "un-American" activity to its alternative: legislative despotism and the overthrow of all liberty.19

Liberty's "plumb-liners" considered the strike to be merely a special case of the boycott. As S.R. asked, "What difference is there between an agreement to quit a man's service and an agreement to withdraw custom from him?" They therefore naturally enough defended the right of workers to band together in unions and to strike. This, of course, was the usual position for political radicals of the time - virtually the sine qua non of late-nineteenth century radicalism - and unremarkable save for the distinctive logic of the Liberty anarchists in discussions of labor strikes.20

Tucker first of all denied that trade unions were a "force institution." "This is unjust. Trades unionists frequently use force against non-unionist workmen, but the trades union is essentially a voluntary institution." Violence from strikers was usually the result of "sheer despair" and the unfairness of a "rotten system."21

Despite problems attendant on the strike in practice, "strikes . . . . deserve encouragement from all true friends of labor . . . . As an awakening agent, as an agitating force, the beneficent influence of a strike is immeasurable . . . . With our present economic system almost every strike is just. For what is justice in production and distribution? That labor, which creates all, shall have all."22

Commenting on the "torrents of denunciation" heaped upon the Pullman and American Railway Union strikes in 1894, Victor Yarros explained that it was "the power of the great unions to paralyze industry and ignore the government that has alarmed the political burglars . . . . The State can have no rival, say the plutocrats, and the trades unions, with the sympathetic strike and boycott as weapons, are becoming too formidable."23

Despite their support of the concept, and frequently the practice, of unions and strikes, Tucker and Yarros were not unaware of the problems that beset the labor movement on organizational and strategic questions. The main problem that they saw was that, "as long as the trades unions have no clear general aims and deal with results, instead of causes, the existing system is safe. Labor must learn to recognize its chief foe, government, and to fight it, not incidentally and blindly, but deliberately and systematically. It must possess a better understanding of the labor question, and a more perfect acquaintance with the machinery of exploitation. It is essential to know what to fight as well as how to fight."24

Francis D. Tandy advised labor against seeking or accepting government-ordained compulsory arbitration. "To give it (the State) power to compel arbitration is to sacrifice the greatest victory labor has ever gained, - the right to strike."25

The message from Liberty to the activists in the labor struggle was clear: use the anarchistic weapons of the boycott and the peaceful strike. Stay clear of involvement with the State.

Tucker, in particular, hoped to see a radically different kind of labor organization based upon "spontaneity, free agency, and choice." Though in "perfect accord" with the slogan that "union is strength," he decried the organization of strikes by labor unions "with an arbitrary code of principles, by-laws, rules of order, and all the paraphernalia of a legislative body, - the whole supplemented by threats, force, and compulsion." He thought rather that organization - as much as might be needed - would result from the presence of "some master mind, or minds, to nerve the outraged operatives into intelligent unity of purpose."

"In the natural order of things the noble fellow who should post himself in the public square and there, in plain language, give his assembled fellow-workers sound advice as to ultimate ends and immediate measures, would do more effective work for Liberty and emancipation than the despotic fiat of a thousand labor organizations."26

Outside of the labor movement, where for a time anarchists in Europe and America commanded undoubted support and influence, the difficulty that the anarchists faced was not that they had no strategy for change, but that the fields open to them for tactical maneuver were few, restricted by the libertarians' limited numbers. After the Haymarket bombing in 1886, the trial, and the executions the following year with the attendant "anarchist scare" whipped up by an hysterical American press, anarchist numbers and power faded even in the American labor movement.

Yet this same era saw active anarchist propaganda. Even with the opposition of a hostile press, public and government, the activists in the Liberty group maintained as high a public profile for anarchist ideas as they could manage.

Some anarchists persevered with labor work in the years following Haymarket. Joseph A. Labadie of Detroit, who moved in the eighteen-eighties from the socialist to the anarchist camp, was one who refused to abandon labor agitation, and who maintained friendly relations with labor groups, especially the Knights of Labor. Arguing that "government must be removed gradually and by piecemeal," Labadie defended his involvement with non-anarchistic groups, declaring that "I am willing to aid anybody going in my direction."27

A Liberty correspondent in England, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, proposed an intriguing alternative, which he called a "league of action." From another writer, Tucker gathered that the league would "probably be a society for insuring people against government, just as they are insured against any other calamity . . . This [wrote Tucker] is a capital idea and very practicable, I should think, in England; though in this country, which is so much less free, such a society would probably be suppressed as treasonable."28

Probably the most fecund planner-activist in Liberty's circle was Steven T. Byington, a regular contributor from the early eighteen-nineties on. Byington specialized in devising tactical schemes that were sound and workable for even relatively few people.

The most interesting of Byington's "campaigns" was his initiation and direction of the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps. Because of its interest, both for the kind of propaganda campaign that the Liberty circle was capable of undertaking, and for the suggestive reasons for the Corps' demise, I treat it separately at some length.

Byington involved himself in numerous other projects, some of a decidedly whimsical nature, over the latter years of Liberty. In his "A Lesson in Civil Government: in words of one syllable," he did not use the word "anarchist" because it was "too long." On another occasion, he used part of an Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps column to announce that, although hitherto the anarchist movement had lacked "cheap tracts," he had ameliorated the situation by publishing two of his "One Syllable" lessons in leaflet form ("100 copies for 25¢").29

Still another Byington project involved the production and sale of anarchist stickers, advertised in Liberty from mid-1904 on as "Aggressive, concise Anarchistic assertions and arguments, gummed and perforated, to be planted everywhere as broadcast seed for thought." Tucker complimented the sticker idea as "a highly useful addition to the Anarchistic propaganda . - . (they) are being used more and more widely. No form of agitation can be conducted as cheaply as this." He praised the available variety of stickers and recommended attaching them to "letters and other mall packages." Tucker went to some effort to ascertain that the post office would consider the stickers mailable, he thought so well of the idea that when Byington had exhausted his stock, Tucker gladly took over the business. (Tucker initially printed one million stickers of forty-eight varieties.)30

Byington possessed, apart from an active imagination, a keen sense of how the anarchist movement appeared to others and what were its practical prospects. For any ambitious young activist looking to make a name and committed to anarchism, Byington pointed out that "there is more chance of finding a great and valuable work waiting to be done if you look where so few workers have tried." He frequently (as in the Letter-Writers Corps) urged anarchists with little time or money available to undertake whatever works they could afford. He suggested that anarchists automatically set aside a certain percentage of their incomes - as much as ten percent or as little as two; "by devoting the money . . . . to giving the people of your town printed enlightenment on Anarchism, you will be a power . . . . and will feel yourself such."31

Byington suggested to Liberty's readers that one useful way to spend their accumulated funds was to provide additional circulating copies of Liberty to public or college reading rooms, or barber shops. He added that increased circulation of Liberty would "encourage the editor to double its frequency." This was particularly desirable, he noted, because it was "hard to keep up an active agitation in a cause whose organ did not appear and quicken the agitators' pulses at least twice a month." Since the termination of the Letter-Writing Corps a few years earlier, after Liberty had gone from being a fortnightly to a monthly journal, Byington must have thought often on this matter of publication frequency.32


IV. The Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps

Among the continuing features of Liberty, the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps, initiated in the March 24, 1894 issue by Stephen T. Byington, was perhaps the longest-lived and most imaginative. Byington based the idea explicitly on the Single Tax Letter-Writing Corps; he believed the Single Tax movement to have been "much-helped" by this idea and thought that the Anarchist movement could profit from having a similar group.1

"In correcting misapprehension," Byington wrote ". . . no movement has more to do. I do not think that men generally are so unwilling to listen to Anarchistic argument, when addressed to them personally, as is commonly believed. Neither do I think papers are so uniformly unwilling to publish Anarchistic letters."

Byington proposed to act as temporary secretary for the first two or three months, requesting Tucker to appoint a permanent secretary thereafter. All who sent their names to Byington would become members, pledged "to write, if possible, at least one letter every fortnight, on Anarchism or kindred subjects, to the targets assigned . . . . No dues . . . . (or) subscription to a creed will be required." Neither, he added, would membership in the Corps bind anyone to support Liberty in any other fashion. Byington urged members and non-members to send him copies or clippings of newspapers to provide targets for the Corps.2

Tucker, for his part, declined to appoint someone in Byington's place; "I have no such authority . . . . the plan is his . . . . (and) he must remain the leader." . . . "The operation of the plan itself will be an excellent Anarchistic object-lesson, for it is a perfect exemplification of the Anarchistic method, a striking forecast of what associative effort will be when compulsion has disappeared from the world . . . . Liberty's columns are at the service of Mr. Byington and the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps."3

Liberty's columns remained in this service, through the varying fortunes of the Corps, for over three years. Beginning with the April 21, 1894 issue (Liberty then being published fortnightly), every number of Liberty through that of August 1897 (by then a monthly) featured Byington and the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps in articles varying in length from the usual half-column to as many as two or three columns. In each issue, Byington provided the name and address of the target or targets (individuals or journals), as well as a description, summary or excerpt of the material that had caused the target's designation. He also suggested for each target a suitable approach that the Letter-Writers might take. Byington encouraged unknowns to enroll in the Corps - "I am glad of the prominent names, and want more; but I want about fifty more obscure ones;" and offered practical advice on Letter-Writing tactics for those members inexperienced in propaganda. "Suggestion No. 2: Be full and careful in explanations. Remember, your reader doesn't know an Anarchistic idea from an enaliosaurus; he expects people to use language loosely . . . . ; he never heard the language we use among ourselves . . . . Aim to make misunderstanding impossible.4

Byington's enthusiasm and careful work proved a spur to the interest and participation of Liberty's readers. The Corps commenced its work with but seven members; the subsequent issue saw an increase to twelve, and Byington divided the group into two "sections," to allow for multiplication of targets. He warned Corps Writers not to become discouraged "when shots at some target produce no effect; and don't always assume that there is no effect when you don't see it." Byington also reported some results of the campaign: "The Home Advocate published four of our letters, besides two letters indirectly connected with our work . . . ." "The Sunday School Times did not print any of our letters, but devoted a leading editorial to answering them."5

The novelty and the immediate, if limited, achievements of the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps helped create an early growth in membership that allowed Byington to create a third section of Letter-Writers in the September 22, 1894 number. He lamented, nonetheless, "I only wish it was growing faster," and emphasized again that even "writers of moderate ability," working together in the Corps, could yet achieve much in concert that was infeasible alone.6

Concern over the uneven efforts of the Letter-Writers caused Byington to request that henceforth members notify him in case of failure to write to a target or of temporary or permanent withdrawal from the Corps; some improvement on the Corps' record followed these admonitions. "My Anarchist letters are coming in thick and fast," wrote H.B. Loud, editor of the Rockland Independent. Soon after, the Corps acquired additional assistance from Henry Cohen, who virtually appointed himself (in true anarchistic fashion) the group's Secretary of Labor, promising to arrange distribution of letters "suitable for publication in labor papers." In the October, 1896 number of Liberty, Cohen, who had started an "Anti-Interest League," could offer to place letters in as many as fifty labor and Populist papers on the interest question.7

By the June 1, 1895 Liberty, prompted by numerous reports of delinquency among Corps members, Byington admitted the necessity of reducing the number of sections to two. He was unable in later issues to restore the lost section, owing to a continued dearth of Letter-Writers; nonetheless, for another two years, Byington kept the Corps in operation.

Frequently, he provided "targets" who had requested letters: allies or sympathizers, like Cohen or Bolton Hall, editor of Tax Reform Studies. Other recipients of an anarchistic education showed less appreciation. Wrote the Farmers Voice, after one barrage: "We desire it to be distinctly understood that [the letters column] is not a slop-bucket for the reception of all the bile of the universe."8

Despite its evident impact on the news journals of the time, the Corps' active membership steadily diminished. Corps members' morale undoubtedly suffered from seldom knowing the results of the particular efforts. Byington acknowledged requests for a "monthly summary of results" but confessed to having "no material" from which to prepare such a feature. He wrote, "We must expect, I think, to work mostly in the dark." Unfortunately, this perhaps unavoidable situation largely vitiated the element of personal involvement that Tucker and Byington had hoped for.9

A harsher blow struck in the October, 1896 issue, when, for financial reasons, Tucker felt compelled to reduce Liberty's publishing schedule from fortnightly to monthly. Although Tucker tried to fill the gap for the Corps by mailing a list of targets to the members half-way between the monthly appearances of Liberty, an almost immediate effect was a reduction of the group to one "section" of Letter-Writers, though Byington maintained the fiction of two sections by assigning both groups to the same target.

By the July, 1897 Liberty, Byington concluded that only he and Joshua T. Small were still active on any regular basis. Too discouraged to start anew - "I feel rather tired just now" - he requested without much seeming hope that anyone still interested in the Corps write him immediately. If "an effective working force" no longer existed to answer the call, he proposed to disband the group. No later mention of the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps appears in Liberty.10

V. Some Considerations of Anarchist Strategy in Liberty

A common theme running through Liberty's discussions of strategy was the idea of the immediacy of anarchism. In all of the writings of Tucker and the Liberty "plumb-liners," we see an unspoken assumption: that to the extent of each one's powers, anarchists should live anarchy now. Liberty was not a call to a political movement, but an invitation to join a way of life and an alternative, free society. "Beginning Anarchy Now," one of a series of articles by Steven T. Byington on anarchist tactics, illustrates this point especially well.

"There can be few things more useful to our cause than that men should live by its principles. In the first place, there is nothing like practice for producing belief, whether in one's self or in his neighbors. In the second place, there is nothing like practice for producing correct understanding." In addition, he argued, whenever anarchistic ideals do triumph and many people were just beginning to live in anarchy, making "the mistakes that are natural to beginners," to mitigate the errors and oil the social gears will be the task of those "who have had, in advance, such experience of anarchic life as has been possible . . . . And finally, it seems as if it must be pleasanter for us to live as citizens of the society we desire, subjugated by an alien conqueror, following his fashions as much as we must and our own as much as we may while we hope and plan for liberation, rather than as citizens of a society which we hate and desire to destroy."

"An Anarchist patriotically loyal to his free society in embryo . . . will avoid governing. He will not accept . . . - office . . . [, prosecute] the unlicensed competitor in the next block . . . [, or] call in the anti-trust law" unless the employer used the law first. "He will disfellowship the State in thought and language . . . He will boycott the government when he can." Anarchists could establish a private currency, a post office, or a "smuggling agency;" they could establish voluntary and cooperative substitutes for the public utility functions of government. Byington concluded, "[This] is surely very nearly the ideal way of establishing Anarchy."1

Tucker himself on one occasion described a classic example of a parallel society, a "state" within the State. "In some large city fairly representative . . . of our heterogeneous civilization let a sufficiently large number of earnest and intelligent Anarchists, engaged in nearly all the different trades and professions, combine to carry on their production and distribution on the cost principle." They should open a bank to provide non-interest-bearing currency for their trade and develop new enterprises as their capital increased. The advantages of the system would be available to anyone who conducted business with it. "Soon the whole composite population [of the city] . . . would become interested in what was going on under their very eyes, more and more of them would actually take part in it, and in a few years . . . the whole city would become a great hive of Anarchistic workers, prosperous and free individuals. It is such results as this that I look forward to, and it is for the accomplishment of such that I work."2

Anarchism, as propounded in these passages, is not a secular religion or a political atavism, It is the political manifestation of a distinct society. Although the Liberty anarchists hoped to eliminate the State altogether eventually, their initial strategic need was to create an anarchist alliance of sufficient numbers to have staying power as a political base. This, they were entirely unable to do, as a result, all propaganda efforts were hampered from the start.

Tucker's and Liberty's primary - almost sole - propaganda focus was on modern urban civilization. Despite his homage to the Jeffersonian tradition - "The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats" - Tucker saw little hope of essential reforms coming out of the agrarian or village populace. Published out of Boston and (from 1892 on) New York, Liberty was a journal for the intelligent, alert, informed (and English-speaking) citizen of any great city in Europe or America. Much of Liberty's difficulties undoubtedly lay in the historic position of individualist anarchism's natural constituency.3

In an article entitled "Are Anarchists Thugs?", Tucker offered a breakdown by profession of Liberty's anarchists. The greatest part proves to be of the professional/intellectual class; the remainder includes independent manufacturers and merchants, farmers, artisans and skilled workers. We see that, although the anarchists - especially of the Liberty group - were not latter-day Jeffersonians in any deep sense, they owned some characteristics in common. The anarchists' hard-core supporters were the socio-economic equivalents of Jefferson's yeoman-farmers and craftsworkers: a freeholder - artisan - independent merchant class allied with free-thinking professionals and intellectuals. These groups - in Europe as well as America - had socio-economic independence, and through their desire to maintain and improve their relatively free positions, had also the incentive to oppose the growing encroachments of the capitalist State.4

Individualist anarchism, although suffering from the repression directed against the anarchists in general, appears to have dwindled into political insignificance largely because of the erosion of its political-economic base, rather than from a simple failure of its strategy. With the impetus of the Civil War, capitalism and the State had too great a head start on the centralization of economic and political life for the anarchists to catch up. This centralization reduced the independence of the intellectual/professional and merchant artisian groups that were the mainstay of the Liberty circle.

In 1911 Tucker judged that this centralizing process had created an accumulation of wealth in the "trusts" that had superseded their need for the "four monopolies." He argued that "even the freest competition" could not presently hope to destroy the trusts, which could afford to sacrifice large sums of money to remove new competition. Tucker thought that only political or revolutionary forces could now whittle down this concentration of capital. He warned, however, that the anarchistic economic solution - "and there is no other solution" - must be taught to following generations. In the meantime, anarchists who aid the "propaganda of State Socialism or [violent] revolution make a sad mistake indeed, "hastening the advent of revolution before the people were prepared to do without the State."5

We must view Tucker's role as chief strategist of the individualist anarchists within the foregoing context.

Rather than attempt to reconcile all of the disparate elements in the anarchist movement in order to form a coalition - no one has ever fully succeeded at this - Tucker chose to establish Liberty as a beacon with firm principles for all to see.6

His policy on recruiting, as shown in his practice, was to reply to all inquiries and criticisms according to their spirit - honest, intelligent criticism always received a courteous, oft-times even gentle, reply. His fabled intolerance was just that - a fable. Although his criticism of a foe's, or a friend's, erring position was generally merciless, it was also impersonal.7

Nonetheless, Tucker's plumb-line drew heavy fire on occasion. He was unmoved by these blows, and he explained, "My practice of 'jumping on' people . . . has generally proved very effective in clarification of thought and expression.8

This adherence to the plumb line preserved a coherent individualist anarchist movement even while its numbers diminished - a decline symbolized by Liberty's reduction from a fortnightly to monthly publication and ultimately to a bi-monthly.

Clearly, we can say that the strategies adhered to in Liberty were effective as organizing tools during Tucker's tenure as the anarchist "pope." Tucker's repeated and insistent excoriations of individualist anarchism's three great rejections: of the capitalist state, of reform by the ballot, of revolution by violence - delineated the movement, giving it identity and cohesion.

Unfortunately, this effect was largely a personal tour-de-force by Tucker. No one else (among the individualists) had the peculiar combination of vision, persistence, experience, intellect and force of will that Benjamin Tucker brought to the editorship of Liberty.

The fire that wiped out Tucker's composing room and nearly the entire stock of his publications on Jan. 10, 1908 also put an end to individualist anarchism as a movement. Local groups continued to publish anarchist propaganda for a time, then gradually faded as old members died or retired.9

In the simplest terms, Tucker and the Liberty circle could not effectively begin propaganda on a large enough scale because, as the Anarchist Letter-Writing Corps campaign showed, they lacked enough active adherents. The individualists were never great in numbers; in 1886, by Tucker's declaration, Liberty had over a thousand subscribers, a figure that probably peaked and began to decline thereafter, as a result of direct repression and indirect social and economic pressures.10

Anarchist movements worldwide generally declined after the turn of the century, if not before; two world wars hastened the centralizing process to the further detriment of action that was independent of the State. Only in the 1960's did serious resistance to the State recommence; the rise of new independent groups - dissident students, professionals and intellectuals on the one hand and a technical/entrepreneurial class on the other - seems to be behind the resurgence of anarchistic and quasi-anarchistic activity.11

This resurgence leads us to the "bottom-line" question on Tucker's strategy: did it fail? And, by extension, we must also ask, did anarchism fail? The commonplace answer is yes; anarchism failed because it was out of touch with historical progress - "progress" in this sense is always a euphemism for centralization and authoritarianism. A more knowledgeable and cautious answer is: not entirely, or not yet. This attitude at least recognizes that twentieth century nation-states own no guarantees of immortality not given to Ur or Babylon. Since States can and do crumble and fail, the "question" of anarchism cannot ever be finally resolved.

This question of failure implies another about success, and what ideology can claim success in the late twentieth century? True, the adherents of socialism, fascism, liberalism, conservatism, social democracy, communism and moat of their variants, have at one time and place or another waxed great in numbers and prestige and wealth, and ruled the State. Each group ruled but briefly in the name of its ideology - then they ruled in the name of the State only.

All of these ideologies had two things in common. Each promised to meet certain goals once its supporters seized the State; each failed to deliver the ideological goods, despite having unquestioned, or even unopposed, control of some very powerful state-formations. In order to hold power to meet their ultimate goals, each set of ideological rulers found themselves forced to betray those same goals so as to meet the intermediate and short-term requirements of political power. These betrayals have seen cynicism, dishonesty, treachery aplenty; but these are more the effect of betrayal than its cause. The true, great corruption of power is the loss of ones aim.

The State today, particularly in America, is vastly more powerful than when Tucker finally despaired of successfully confronting it directly. Today, its lightest touch corrupts (in the sense that I use the term). All of the State ideologies, from the most limited constitutional liberalism to Marxist State Socialism, have failed, corrupted by the logic of power. Against Nietzsche's warning, they gazed too long - and too longingly - into the abyss and became one with it.

Every ideology that has sought to master and direct the State has instead become its servant. The lesson for our time, if any would see it, is that the State is not to be mastered. Like the Ruling Ring, in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the State allows its "wearer" to enjoy for a time the illusion of control - and then asserts its mastery.

Thus, triumph can be illusory; and determining the "success" or "failure" of a movement like anarchism depends largely on what one means by those terms. The usual standards require that one found a thousand-year empire or at least possess adequate fluid assets; such considerations scarcely enable us to judge the merits of anarchist strategies, which refuse altogether to play "the Great Game."

The present generation of anarchists faces anew the question of liberty - which is anarchism. We should know how our predecessors fought the same battle; not in order to judge failure or success, but to know both how they lived as anarchists and how they defended their anarchism - the two complementary halves of the struggle. We should not expect to gain from these studies any certainty about our own course, however. Doubts about our strategy must plague us, even as they plagued Benjamin R. Tucker and the remnants of his circle in later years. "I put the Anarchist case as a goal that humanity moves towards. But the exact routes - ?? ah! it is not so easy to map them!"12




1. See: Eric Hobsbaun; Bandits; Revised Edition, Pantheon Books, 1981. And: Louis Adamic; Dynamite: the Story of Class Violence in America; Peter Smith, Gloucester, Mass, 1960 (reprint of 2nd edition; Harper & Brothers, August, 1934).

2. Liberty: 36 (1883): 2; 29 (1882): 2-3; 32 (1883):2, 4 (1881: 2.

3. Liberty: 4 (1881): 2; 32 (1883):2.

4. Liberty: 122 (1888):4.

5. Liberty: 116 (1888): 4-5;291 (1894): 11.

6. Liberty: 291 (1894): 3-4.

7. Liberty: 291 (1894): 2.

8. Liberty: 3 (1881): 3; 25 (1882): 4; 290 (1894): 6.

9. Liberty: 231 (1891): 1-2.

10. Liberty: 398 (1907): 60-61.



1. Liberty: 5 (1881): 1.

2. Liberty: 26 (1882): 3.

3. Liberty: 77 (1886): 4.

4. Liberty: 141 (1889): 4; 59 (1885)~ 5.

5. Liberty: 287 (1894): 5; 365 (1900): 3-4.

6. Liberty: 113 (i887): 4.

7. Liberty: 155 (1890): 7; 293 (1894): 8. For arguments by anarchists favoring women's suffrage, see Angela & Ezra Heywood, Uncivil Liberty (Colorado Springs, co., Ralph Myles Publisher); first published in 1873.

8. Liberty: 301 (1894): 4; 27 (1882): 1.

9. Liberty: 43 (1884): 8.

10. Liberty: 35 (1883): 3; 386 (1901): 1.



1. Liberty: 142 (1889): 4.

2. Liberty: 311 (1895): 5. Tucker's opposition to enforced communism was misunderstood by some. Thus, J. William Lloyd wrote that "there was nothing he (Tucker) hated more than communism." (Free Vistas, II, p. 281; Joseph Ishill, ed.; Oriole Press, Berkeley Heights, NJ, 1937.)

3. Liberty: 52 (1884): 5.

4. Liberty: 130 (1888): 4.

5. Liberty: 135 (1888): 4.

6. Liberty: 376 (1903): 4; 391 (1906): 6-7; 392 (1906): 8-9.

7. Liberty: 397 (1907): 42.

8. Liberty: 214 (1892): 2-3.

9. Liberty: 118 (1888): 5.

10. Liberty: 118 (1888): 5.

11. Harry B. Laidler, Boycotts and the Labor Struggle: Economic and Legal Aspects, pp. 23-30; John Lane Co., New York, 1913.

12. Liberty: 7 (1881): 1-2.

13. Liberty: 7 (1881): 2; 12 (1882): 1.

14. Liberty: 23 (1892): 1-3; 27 (1882): 3.

15. Liberty: 386 (1904): 4.

16. Liberty: 113 (1887): 4-S;367 (1903): 4; 368 (1903): 1; 369 (1903): 1-2; 370 (1903): 1, 3, 4: 386 (1904): 2-3; 388 (190S): 3-4. "S.R."s identity is not known, but Wendy McElroy, who has indexed Liberty, suggests that S.R. was S.H. Randall of Cincinnati. (See Liberty: 298 (1894): 3, 6; for material about and by Randall.)

17. Liberty: 367 (1903): 4; 371 (1903): 2-3.

18. Liberty: 292 (1894): 1, 296 (1894): 5. For additional non-anarchistic opposition to the boycott, see Liberty: 113 (1887): 4; 291 (1894): 4.

19. Liberty: 287 (1894): 2; 368 (1903): 6; 203 (1891): 2.

20. Liberty: 378 (1903): 2-3. See also Tucker's comments in Liberty: 348 (1896): 1.

21. Liberty: 290 (1894): 1; 294 (1894): 3.

22. Liberty: 19 (1882): 1.

23. Liberty: 291 (1894): 3.

24. Liberty: 291 (1894): 3.

25. Liberty: 294 (1894): 2-3.

26. Liberty: 18 (1882): 2.

27. James J. Martin; Men Against the State, p. 245. Ralph Myles Publisher; Colorado Springs, 1970. Liberty: 143 (1889): 7.

28. Liberty: 182 (1891): 1:

29. Liberty: 291 (1894): 4; 294 (1894): 5.

30. Liberty: 383 (1904): 7; 342 (1906): 1-3. Though seldom seen in current radical propaganda, these stickers were apparently very popular. My collection of I.W.W. stickers from a slightly later period suggests that Byington's stickers were rather larger than ordinary postage stamps; the I.W.W. stickers range in size from 2x3 inches to 3-1/2x5 inches. That they came 25 to a sheet indicates that the Byington stickers were nearer the smaller size.

31. Liberty: 385 (1904): 5.

32. Liberty: 385 (1904): 5; 370 (1903): 2-3.



1. Byington's activity in behalf of the individualist anarchist cause was ironic, inasmuch as he described himself at this time as a single-taxer, a prohibitionist and a Christian. Tucker took this profession lightly. (Liberty: 283 (1894): 4.) Byington was a first-rate intellect, a school teacher, and fluent in ten languages. (Martin, op. cit., p. 257).

2. Liberty: 283 (1894): 3.

3. Liberty: 283 (1894): 4.

4. Liberty: 286 (1894): 5.

5. Liberty: 292 (1894): 5; 293 (1894): 8; 294 (1894): 5.

6. Liberty: 296 (1894): 7.

7. Liberty: 303 (1894): 1; 306 (1895): 8; 308 (1895): 8; 309 (1895): 3; 312 (1895): 7; 346 (1896): 7.

8. Liberty: 314 (1895): 5; 319 (1895): 5; 342 (1896): 5.

9. Liberty: 329 (1895): 5; 335 (1896): 5.

10. Liberty: 346 (1896): 2, 7; 349 (1897): 5; 355 (1897): 5. See also Martin, op. cit., p. 557 fn.



1. Liberty: 384 (1904): 2-4.

2. Liberty: 47 (1884): 1,

3. Benjamin R. Tucker; "State Socialism and Anarchism" and Other Essays, p. 20; Ralph Myles Publisher, Colorado Springs, 1972. "State socialism and Anarchism" first published in 1888.

4. Liberty: 359 0899): 3-4.

5. Tucker; op. cit, pp. 24-25. This was the postscript to the 1911 edition of "State Socialism and Anarchism."

6. For many years the front page of Liberty bore these lines from the poet John Hay: "For always in thine eyes, O Liberty / Shines that high light whereby the world is saved."

7. Contrary to anarchist legend, Tucker accepted quite a bit of "heresy" under Liberty's mast-head. Joseph Labadie's "Cranky Notions" column often contained clearly deviant material but received little if any protest from Tucker. When Byington began the Letter-Writing Corps, he mentioned his Single-Tax, prohibitionist and Christian beliefs. Tucker replied that "Mr. Byington's heresies do not greatly bother me . . . (he) has brains and they will save him," and explained that he thought Byington was rapidly losing these old beliefs.

8. Liberty: 342 (1896): 3-4.

9. Liberty: 403 (1908): 1. Martin; op. cit., pp. 273-276. Martin incorrectly gives the date of the fire as April, 1908 (p. 273).

10. Liberty: (1886): 1. Charles A. Madison (Critics and Crusaders; p. 197; Henry Holt, New York, 1947-1948) estimates Liberty's maximum circulation to have been 600, but cites no source for this figure.

11. See: Robert Justin Goldstein; Political Repression in Modern America: 1870 to the Present; Schenkman/Two Continents, 1978. Study of the relationship between state repression and radical-revolutionary movements in America. Defends the thesis - successfully 1 believe - that these movements have failed largely because of effective measures of repression, not from vaguely "unsuitable" social conditions.

12. Frederic J. Gould to Benjamin Tucker (no date). Quoted by Tucker in a letter to Joseph Ishill, dated Jan. 24, 1935. Cited in Ishill; op. cit., p. 308.



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