The First Positive AnarchistEnlightenment thought, combined with the budding industrial revolution, brought on the first positive anarchist theories. The ideas were in the air, so to speak, and several people came up with positive anarchism independently, and roughly about the same time. Chronologically, the first known undisputedly anarchist thinker was Josiah Warren (1798-1874).
Josiah Warren developed his anarchist ideas soon after his participation in Robert Owen's fateful New Harmony utopian community, which lasted from 1825 to 1829. Warren, undaunted by New Harmony's failure, realized that the problem was a lack of respect for individuality; that undue collectivization only brought about discord. Later, Warren created his own communities based on individualism and private property, and a "time store" which traded in labor notes.
Not only is Warren the father of anarchism, but also could fairly be considered the father of socialist economic theory, and perhaps even of geoist land reform. Yet he was little known in his time, and was more an activist than a theoretician, even though he wrote two significant anarchist pieces: Equitable Commerce and True Civilization.
Lest someone challenge the claim that Warren was the first anarchist, we provide the following except published in 1833, seven years before Proudhon's What is Property? essay.
Laws and governments defeat their object. Their professed object is the security and good order of society. But the moment that any such power is erected over one's person or property, that moment he feels insecure and sees that his greatest chance of security is in getting possession of the governing power - in governing, rather than being governed. ... Strife for the attainment of this power, has in all ages up to the present hour produced more confusion, destruction of life and property, and more crimes and intense misery than all other causes put together.
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