A Good Word

Benjamin R. Tucker, “Anarchism or Anarchy” (1881)

At the center of this pamphlet is a disagreement about the use of the terms anarchy and anarchism—a topic that has grown in interest for me in recent years. W. H. Tillinghast accuses Tucker of “misusing words” when he uses the term anarchism to describe anarchist beliefs. The proper word, he claims, would be anarchy—or, more specifically, an-archy (from Proudhon’s occasional spelling, an-archie.) He would seem, from a modern perspective, to be a bit confused and Tucker’s response would be correct, if perhaps a bit excessive. It is easy to forget that in 1881 anarchism was still a “rare” word, whether in English or French. […]