Auberon Herbert (1838-1906)

Auberon Herbert (1838-1906)  

 

Introduction

One of the last of the Spencerites in the 1890s and early 20th century was Auberon Herbert (1838-1906) whom Eric Mack calls “the most consistent advocate of libertarian doctrines writing in late Victorian Britain” [See his entry in the Encyclopedia of LibertarianismHerbert, Auberon (1838-1906)”. He formulated a system of “thorough” individualism that he described as “voluntaryism.” With a group of other late Victorian classical liberals he was active in such organizations as the Personal Rights and Self-Help Association and the Liberty and Property Defense League. He was a Liberal member of Parliament between 1870-74 and between 1890=1901, he published the magazine Free Life, which was subtitled “The Organ of Voluntary Taxation and the Voluntary State.” During the 1890s, Herbert engaged in lengthy published exchanges with two prominent socialists of his day, E. Belfort Bax and J. A. Hobson, as in “Salvation by Force” (1898). He is also one of the most eloquent defenders of liberty with his beautiful and inspiring vision of what a free society might look like, how free people should interact with other, and why compulsion in all its forms is to avoided.

See also the entry on Herbert by Eric Mack, “Herbert, Auberon (1838-1906)Encyclopedia of Libertarianism (2008).

 

Texts in the Collection

Anti-Force Papers, No. 2. The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State: A Statement of the Moral Principles of the Party of Individual Liberty, and the Political Measures founded upon them. (Reprinted, with alterations and additions, from papers published in The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.) (London: Williams and Norgate, 1885).

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“The Ethics of Dynamite,” Contemporary Review (May 1894), vol. LXV, January-June 1894, pp. 667-87.

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The Principles of Voluntaryism and Free Life by Mr. Auberon Herbert. With an Introductory Comment from a New World Point-of-View by Elijah E. Knott (Burlington, Vermont: Printed by the Free Press Association, 1897). A compilation of some of Herbert's articles designed to introduce his ideas to an American audience.

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Auberon Herbert,The Voluntaryist Creed, Being the Herbert Spencer Lecture delivered at Oxford, June 7, 1906, and A Plea For Voluntaryism (London: Oxford University Press, 1908).

The first piece “Mr. Spencer and the Great Machine” was given as the Herbert Spencer Lecture in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford on June 7, 1906. The second piece “A Plea For Voluntaryism” was finished only a few days before his death in November 1906. It contained a summary statement of his “Creed” which he hoped he could get supporters to sign.

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