Victor Yarros (1865–1956) was an American anarchist, lawyer, and author. He was law partner to Clarence Darrow for 11 years in Chicago, husband to the feminist gynecologist Rachelle Yarros, and resident of Hull-House Settlement. He was a prolific contributor to the individualist anarchist periodical in the United States called Liberty.
Yarros was early on associated with the anarcho-communists but soon converted to individualist anarchism, and was very critical of everything collectivist. Yarros did not see anarchism as a utopian system, but like the other individualists in his league, he envisioned a society in which coercion was used only in defense:
"The anarchists, as anarchists, work directly, not for a perfect social state, but for a perfect political system. A perfect social state is a state totally free from sin or crime of folly; a perfect political system in which justice is observed, in which nothing is punished but crime and nobody coerced but invaders."
This was to be accomplished by private forces, rather than by a tax-funded state.
Unlike some individualist anarchists, he supported Individual reclamation.
We, on the other hand... do not think it either unjust or unwise to dispossess the landlords who have monopolized natural wealth by force and fraud. We hold that the poor and disinherited toilers would be justified in expropriating, not alone the landlords, who notoriously have no equitable titles to their lands, but all the financial lords and rulers, all the millionaires and very wealthy individuals.
He did not believe an anarchist society could be achieved until individuals learned to value liberty:
The abolition of the external State must be preceded by the decay of the notions which breathe life and vigour into that clumsy monster: in other words, it is only when the people learn to value liberty, and to understand the truths of the anarchistic philosophy, that the question of practically abolishing the State looms up and acquires significance.
Yarros' views evolved significantly over the years. He initially based his individualist anarchism on egoism, penning an essay called Why I Am An Egoist, however, he later repudiated egoism, calling it "monstrously absurd and miserably nonsensical" (Liberty, VII, May 6, 1891). According to Roderick Long:
Yarros had been a Spencerian anarchist, an associate of Tucker and a popularizer of Lysander Spooner. But by the 1930s he had abandoned free-market anarchism for social democracy, in part because he had become convinced that the democratic state was a useful tool in the struggle against economic privilege.
- Victor Yarros, "Individualist or Philosophical Anarchism" (1897)
- Rachelle and Victor Yarros Collection UIC Library
- Yarros, Liberty 171 (1890): 4-5, quoted by Carl Watner in The English Individualists As They Appear in Liberty
- Long, Roderick (2006-04-08) Rothbard's "Left and Right": Forty Years Later, Mises Institute
- Victor Yarros (1888), The Woman Question
- Victor Yarros (1888), "Socialist Economics and the Labor Movement"
- Works by Victor Yarros at the Fair Use Repository
- Lysander Spooner (1912), Free Political Institutions: Their Nature, Essence, and Maintenance. An Abridgment and Rearrangement of Lysander Spooner's "Trial by Jury" (edited by Victor Yarros)
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