Radical Spencerians Online

Radical Spencerians like Auberon Herbert and Wordworth Donisthorpe represent an interesting bridge between the “capitalist” and “socialist” wings of libertarianism, palling around with the Liberty and Property Defence League on the one hand and Benjamin Tucker on the other (and being hailed by the latter as fellow anarchists – evidently the benighted Tucker had never had a chance to read the AFAQ).

Auberon Herbert, Wordsworth Donisthorpe, and Richard Harding DavisI see that Google Books now offers some previously hard-to-find works by Herbert and Donisthorpe. One is Herbert’s A Politician In Trouble About His Soul (1884), a presentation of political philosophy in dialogue form. The quasi-anarchistic last chapter is widely reprinted as a separate article under the title “A Politician In Sight of Haven,” but the full work has not previously been available online.

There are also four books by Donisthorpe: Principles of Plutology (1876), Individualism: A System of Politics (1889), Law in a Free State (1895), and Down the Stream of Civilization (1898). Of these the second and third have been available online for a while, but the first and the fourth have not.

Down the Stream is a memoir of Donisthorpe’s travels in the Mediterranean; his sometimes bigoted opinions can make it annoying (anomalously for a radical Spencerian and an anarchist, he was an apologist for British imperialism), but it is also witty and enjoyable, and makes a nice pairing with Richard Harding Davis’s somewhat similar Rulers of the Mediterranean (1894), also newly available on Google Books. Rothbard speaks highly of Plutology in his History of Economic Thought. Left-libertarians will be especially interested in Donisthorpe’s theories of “labour capitalisation” in chapters 6 and 7 of Individualism and chapter 8 of Law in a Free State.

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5 Responses to Radical Spencerians Online

  1. Anon73 July 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    If only Tucker had read the AFAQ, he would realize that communism is the only possible form of anarchism. 🙂

    • Brainpolice July 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

      A pox on Ian Mackay’s houses! 😛

      • Joel Schlosberg July 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

        Speaking of which, I just noticed recently that if you click on “register” to post a comment on Iain’s blog, it says that you can’t register except by invitation and that “You are not authorized to post comments.” That’s the spirit of anarchy Iain style right there!

      • Roderick July 21, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

        A pox on Ian Mackay’s houses!

        Aw, I think the fact that no one spells his name right is karmic punishment enough. 🙂


  1. Liberty Alone » Blog Archive » If only Tucker had read AFAQ - July 21, 2009

    […] those interested in the radical liberals of the late 19th century, Roderick Long points out the availability of some of their works on Google […]

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