Individualist anarchism

Individualist anarchism is the branch of anarchism that emphasizes the individual and their will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions and ideological systems.[1][2] Although usually contrasted to social anarchism, both individualist and social anarchism have influenced each other. Mutualism, an economic theory particularly influential within individualist anarchism whose pursued liberty has been called the synthesis of communism and property,[3] has been considered sometimes part of individualist anarchism[4][5][6] and other times part of social anarchism.[7][8] Many anarcho-communists regard themselves as radical individualists,[9] seeing anarcho-communism as the best social system for the realization of individual freedom.[10] Economically, while European individualist anarchists are pluralists who advocate anarchism without adjectives and synthesis anarchism, ranging from anarcho-communist to mutualist economic types, most American Individualist Anarchists advocate mutualism, a libertarian socialist form of market socialism, or a free-market socialist form of classical economics.[11] Individualist anarchists are opposed to property that gives privilege and is exploitative,[12] seeking to "destroy the tyranny of capital, — that is, of property" by mutual credit.[13]

Individualist anarchism represents a group of several traditions of thought and individualist philosophies within the anarchist movement. Among the early influences on individualist anarchism were William Godwin (philosophical anarchism),[14] Josiah Warren (sovereignty of the individual), Max Stirner (egoism),[15] Lysander Spooner (natural law), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (mutualism), Henry David Thoreau (transcendentalism),[16] Herbert Spencer (law of equal liberty)[17] and Anselme Bellegarrigue (civil disobedience).[18] From there, individualist anarchism expanded through Europe and the United States, where prominent 19th-century individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker held that "if the individual has the right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny".[19]

Within anarchism, individualist anarchism is primarily a literary phenomenon[20] while social anarchism has been the dominant form of anarchism,[21][22][23][24] emerging in the late 19th century as a distinction from individualist anarchism after anarcho-communism replaced collectivist anarchism as the dominant tendency.[25] Individualist anarchism has been described by some as the anarchist branch most influenced by and tied to liberalism (the classical liberalism deriving anti-capitalist notions and socialist economics from classical political economists and the labor theory of value) as well as being described as a part of the liberal or liberal-socialist wing—in contrast to the collectivist or communist wing—of anarchism and libertarian socialism.[26][27][28] However most do not agree with this divide as it should be noted social anarchists including collectivist and communist anarchists regard the individualist anarchists as socialists and libertarian socialists due to their opposition to capitalist profit, interest, and absentee rent.[29] The very idea of an individualist–socialist divide is also contested as individualist anarchism is largely socialistic[30][31][32] and can be considered a form of individualist socialism, with non-Lockean individualism encompassing socialism.[33] Individualist anarchism is the basis of most anarchist schools of thought, influencing nearly all anarchist tendencies and having contributed to much of anarchist discourse.[34][35]