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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15814/josiah-warren-the-first-american-anarchist/

Josiah Warren: The First American Anarchist

February 25, 2011 by

“Peace, harmony, ease, security, happiness, will be found only in Individuality.” FULL ARTICLE by Jeff Riggenbach


Bruce Koerber February 25, 2011 at 9:55 am

There are visionaries in every age. Some are more scientifically and morally sound than others.

jon February 25, 2011 at 10:26 am

wow. i was raised in princeton, and eventually became an anarchist. i even knew some warrens. and he was a tinkerer! this is literally my job, in research. food for thought.

Lee February 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I’m puzzled why more articles don’t show up here about groups like various Indian tribes who actually lived probably as free as anyone ever has; surely there is, or at least once was, a treasure there in potential learning how people handled living without government. For instance years back I read an account of one of the first missionaries among the Choctaws; he was apparently shocked at how peacefully they lived among themselves. According to him there were very nearly no rules; a thief was banished from the tribe, murdering someone gave his family a free pass to kill the murderer.

I’m quite aware that what works for one people may well not work for another. But for me empirical data beats theory. We have someone here, Sione, from the Pacific islands who recently commented that anarchy still exists on some of those islands. How do they handle private property? How do they handle disputes? What unwritten laws are there? Apparently there are still tribes in the Amazon still living in their primitive ways. Is there anything we can learn from them? Maybe, maybe not. I just think we’ve already lost a world of opportunity and should make the most of whatever is left.

B.K. Marcus February 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Lee, have you read Jeff Riggenbach’s review of The Art of Not Being Governed?

Lee February 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Thanks for the link, B.K. Being senile I’d forgotten it but actually found I’d seen it and commented. One thing I noticed this time around is the weight given to the necessity of unoccupied space to escape government; I realized that quite a while back. It’s one of the reasons I harp against immigration and excess population. My impression has been that increasing population goes right along with restricting freedom.

Stephen Grossman February 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Anarchism is an unrealistic ideal which anarchists will deny refers to Libya, Somalia or any other concrete reality. To anarchist idealists, the lack of concrete reality is irrelevant. They ,like Marxists, will attempt to approach their unrealistic ideal as close as possible regardless of bloodshed.

nate-m February 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm


Somalia is what happens after a socialist government goes into meltdown and then other governments around it do their damnedest to take it over and place another government, with many repeated failures. It’s Anarchistic, to be certain, but it’s going to be fucked no matter what due to the repeated failures to prop up governments by it’s neighbors and other powers in the region.

Although, not ironically if you understand actual economics, Somalia’s economy is booming in some ways relative to it’s neighbors despite the continued violence in the region. It sports the best telecommunications industry on the continent. They have pioneered new banking standards with mobile transfers of money and a few other interesting things.


Prior to the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, the roughly 53 state-owned small, medium and large manufacturing firms were foundering, with the ensuing conflict destroying many of the remaining industries.

According to the UNDP, investments in light manufacturing have expanded in Bosaso, Hargeisa and Mogadishu, in particular, indicating growing business confidence in the economy.[6] To this end, in 2004, an $8.3 million Coca-Cola bottling plant opened in Mogadishu, with investors hailing from various constituencies in Somalia.[11] The robust private sector has also attracted foreign investment from the likes of General Motors and Dole Fruit.[6]

Prior to the civil war, Somalia had only one national airline, Somali Airlines, that serviced the entire country. Due to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Somali people and a lack of strict regulatory frameworks, by 1997, up to 14 private airline firms operating 62 aircraft were offering commercial flights to international locations.[10][6] With competitively priced flight tickets, these companies have helped buttress Somalia’s bustling trade networks.[10]

Somalia now offers some of the most technologically advanced and competitively priced telecommunications and internet services in the world.[12] After the start of the civil war, various new telecommunications companies began to spring up and compete to provide missing infrastructure. Funded by Somali entrepreneurs and backed by expertise from China, Korea and Europe, these nascent telecommunications firms offer affordable mobile phone and internet services that are not available in many other parts of the continent. Customers can conduct money transfers and other banking activities via mobile phones, as well as easily gain wireless internet access.[13]

Although Somalia has had no central monetary authority for upwards of 15 years between the outbreak of the civil war in 1991 and the subsequent re-establishment of the Central Bank of Somalia in 2009, the nation’s payment system is actually fairly advanced due primarily to the widespread existence of private money transfer operators (MTO) that have acted as informal banking networks.[16]

The World Bank reports that electricity is now in large part supplied by local businesses, using generators purchased abroad. By dividing Somalia’s cities into specific quarters, the private sector has found a manageable method of providing cities with electricity. A customer is given a menu of choices for electricity tailored to his or her needs, such as evenings only, daytime only, 24 hour-supply or charge per lightbulb.[5]

Libya? What sort of crack your smoking? It’s a country undergoing a armed revolt intended to overthrow a hated and unrelenting dictator. Come back when you have something interesting to say.

Lee February 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm


Your remark points up one more reason we need to study groups where it has worked, so we can understand how and why when it does or does not.

Stephen Grossman February 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

>It’s Anarchistic, to be certain

But a moment later, you reject this in a perfect example of whim-worship. As I implied, there is no concrete reality from which the concept of peaceful anarchism can be induced. Peaceful anarchism is a floating abstraction, a rationalization for whim-worship. As The Doors sang, “We want the world and we want it now!” Marxist freedom, Libertarian freedom, Christian freedom ,etc. Its all basically the same rationalization for doing whatever one wants regardless of reality. But anarchism was identified as destructive by Plato and Aristotle 2400 yrs ago. Nothing has changed except the sophistication of rationalization as the result of Kantian subjectivist nihilism.

Lee February 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Are you really denying anyone ever lived peacefully under anarchic conditions, like primitives, or do you just hate the concept of freedom?

Stephen Grossman February 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Primitives had a primitive govt, only subtly different from families and clans, as anthropologists have long known. I value rational freedom and hate subjectivist freedom. Govt, ie, the protection of rights, is an objective need of social living.

Matthew Swaringen February 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Define rational freedom. Define objective need. I already know your definition of government is screwed up.

Matthew Swaringen February 25, 2011 at 7:55 pm

There is no concrete reality from which the concept of peaceful statism can be induced either.

Lee February 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm


I think you’re failing to make the distinction between cultural mores and influence between members with government and laws. The former do not necessarily hinder freedom. If you look at genetics as a set of latent potentials which may or may not be developed by the culture there’s no coercion at all.

newson February 26, 2011 at 2:22 am
Stephen Grossman February 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

Wearing shoes in not shoeism. The state is not statism. The state as means is not the state as end. Rand induces the concepts you mentioned in _The Virtue of Selfishness_ and _Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal_. Libertarians use the non-aggression principle as a floating abstraction ,an unrealistic ideal, without concern for the knowledge needed, eg, rights, life, mind, objectivity, etc, needed to validate it. And since different Libertarians define non-aggression differently, war among Libertarians is necessary. Eg, Christian Libertarians say abortion is aggression against an unborn baby. Other Libertarians deny. This can only be resolved by war. The state, limited to the protection of objectively defined rights, is an objective need of social living.

Black Bloke February 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Places for you to start Stephen:

Once you’ve absorbed those and are ready to address the people who post here on their own terms, you can come back.

Matthew Swaringen February 27, 2011 at 1:33 am

“The state as means is not the state as end.”
The state as a means to what exactly. And when has this worked long term? Perhaps your view is that we need a revolution every 20-30 years but I don’t think there is any reasonable way to expect that the result is better than the previous. While the state may merely be a means for those who want a minimal state how do you expect to prevent the entry of those who know the state can be used for far more than that?

How long did it take the minimal US government to limit severely the rights it had said should never be limited by making acts against sedition?

“Eg, Christian Libertarians say abortion is aggression against an unborn baby. Other Libertarians deny. This can only be resolved by war.”
I think this situation is arguable. I actually tend towards the belief that conception is a reasonably logical point for life to begin (or perhaps half-way through 2nd trimester). Nevertheless, I am not willing to retaliate against someone for breaking this rule because I think it is unclear. Libertarians who support non-violence cannot advocate it on areas that are arguable like this. Enforcing these rules (on those who agree to them) as part of contract I think is reasonable.

The state doesn’t solve this problem either. Those who feel very strongly about it will still try to attack those that disagree with them. But this group of people is fairly small, which I think proves my point and not yours. Even though arguments between pro-life and pro-choice people may be heated, violence between them is rare.

“The state, limited to the protection of objectively defined rights, is an objective need of social living.”
Even objectively defined rights can be murky on the area of “unborn.” Even if the state attempts to eliminate this problem by saying born = human, this doesn’t make all people think the same way. So your “objectively defined rights” don’t mean a whole lot.

Peter Surda February 28, 2011 at 7:11 am


The state, limited to the protection of objectively defined rights, is an objective need of social living.

The state can no more be objective than any other organisation people create. Merely because you want there to be an objective judge and protector does not mean that there is such a thing, or that the state accurately reflects that need. You are projecting your wishes.

Peter Surda February 28, 2011 at 5:24 am

It is minarchism that is floating abstraction and following it is whip-worship, Stephen. There is no logical reason why such a thing as a minarchist government should exist, and of course, even if it existed, as long as it would protect it’s monopoly, it would be violating other people’s rights. Advocating minarchism is like saying that in order to avoid rape, “we” jointly should appoint the position of chief rapist, and only chose such a person for that job that will behave himself, while complaining that people who fully reject rape are deluded.

P.M.Lawrence February 26, 2011 at 6:54 am

Somalia is what happens after a socialist government goes into meltdown and then other governments around it do their damnedest to take it over and place another government, with many repeated failures. It’s Anarchistic, to be certain, but it’s going to be fucked no matter what due to the repeated failures to prop up governments by it’s neighbors and other powers in the region.

However, at a meta- level, that’s a valid point to raise. Suppose, say, a new breed of cow gave more milk and meat, needed less food, matured quicker, and so on – but, unfortunately, usually died first from some opportunistic disease that other breeds never even contracted. One would hardly say it was “better” but for that, on the grounds that the disease came from outside the cow; there are always outside things around, if not one then another. So, similarly, it’s a real concern how anarchism would defend itself against opportunistic threats, even though they came from outside.

Lee February 26, 2011 at 9:01 am

Interesting links, Newson, thanks. One impression I got from them was that whites, coming from diverse backgrounds, seemed to rely more on coercive law to keep the peace relative to long established groups. The links would also seem to confirm that people will usually work out systems to live with. But that seems not necessarily true because cases are known where groups went extinct or nearly so because they didn’t work out successful forms.
I’m going to offer an UN-learned theory about all this. From my unlearned knowledge of genetics the rule is that inbreeding is considered bad because of unfavorable traits having multiplied chances of turning up. But favorable traits also have multiple chances of turning up. According to E.O. Wilson, if inbreeding is continued long enough the unfavorable traits will eventually be wiped out. The rule for out-breeding, on the other hand, is that first generation hybrids tend to be superior; successive generations tend to be progressively inferior.

It seems obvious to me that if genetics has any bearing on culture and behavior, which seems certain that it does, then a generalization would be that people with similar genetic makeup find it easier to find a harmonious path with less actual coercion. But of course as P.M. points out above, the same genetics also leaves the group more vulnerable to some outside disease or negative influence. Ain’t nuthin’ free, huh.

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