Blogs > Liberty and Power > Francis Tandy Rides Again

May 16, 2006

Francis Tandy Rides Again

[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

Francis Tandy’s 1896 book Voluntary Socialism is one of the classics of market anarchism. (Don’t be misled by the title; Tandy, a disciple of Benjamin Tucker, uses the term “socialism” in the sense employed by “free-market socialists” like Tucker, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and, today, Kevin Carson.) A good many political philosophers have probably seen Tandy’s name at some point, since Robert Nozick cites him early on in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, in a list of proponents of competing protection agencies; the others listed are Spooner, Tucker, Rothbard, Friedman, and the Tannehills. (Nozick appears unaware of the battlin’ Belgians Molinari and de Puydt.) Nevertheless, Tandy is far and away the most obscure name on the list, and his book is damnably hard to find; and apparently the Denver Public Library (where Tandy, a Denver resident, once worked) possesses one of the few existing copies but refuses to allow it be photocopied.

Happily, I managed to get my hands on the elusive 1979 Revisionist Press reprint version a couple of years ago, and I’ve just now posted the first five chapters on the Molinari site. (I had already posted the preface and introduction back in March ’04.)

The first four of these chapters set out the psychological, sociological, and ethical foundations of Tandy’s libertarianism. This section is rather a mixed bag from my point of view; Tandy’s theory of human action combines praxeological insight with psychologistic confusion, and his blend of Stirner and Spencer manages at times to look more like stereotypical “Social Darwinism” than does either Stirner or Spencer singly. Still, there’s plenty of good stuff here.

But what the book is best known for (well, to the extent that it’s known at all!) is its fifth chapter, which is devoted to an explanation and defense of the concept of competing protection agencies – in its day, one of the fullest discussions of the idea post-Molinari. It’s fascinating to see how many of the standard moves in market anarchist theory today are already in evidence in Tandy.

More chapters to follow! In the meantime, enjoy.

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Roderick T. Long - 5/17/2006

Thanks, Ken! Actually I did already link to your edition of Science of Society in the above post (see the second sentence), but I didn't know about the other ones. I haven't paid sufficient attention to Google Books; time for that to change!

A just thought.
Roderick the Just

Kenneth R. Gregg - 5/16/2006


You might want to add my 2006 online edition of Stephen Pearl Andrews' The Science of Society (I should have my "Introduction to the 2006 Online Edition: Stephen Pearl Andrews, Southern Abolitionism and the Science of Freedom" added soon) and all of the new google books digital project books. There are a lot of libertarian works now available (which now include all of Herbert Spencer's writings). As an example:

and many, many more.


Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism