Irving Fisher Quote

“I believe [that William Graham Sumner] was one of the greatest professors we ever had at Yale, but I have drawn far away from his point of view, that of the old laissez faire doctrine. I remember he said in his classroom: 'Gentlemen, the time is coming when there will be two great classes, Socialists, and Anarchists. The Anarchists want the government to be nothing, and the Socialists want government to be everything. There can be no greater contrast. Well, the time will come when there will be only these two great parties, the Anarchists representing the laissez faire doctrine and the Socialists representing the extreme view on the other side, and when that time comes I am an Anarchist.' That amused his class very much, for he was as far from a revolutionary as you could expect. But I would like to say that if that time comes when there are two great parties, Anarchists and Socialists, then I am a Socialist.”

~ Irving Fisher

before the Yale Socialist Club in 1941, quoted in Mark Thorton, The Economics of Prohibition (University of Utah Press, 1991), p. 17

Ratings and Comments

J Carlron, Calgary

Rope Tree Socialist...some assmbly required.

J Carlton, Calgary

And I should learn to type :)

Mike, Norwalk

I don't know what to rate here, That's nice that Fisher prefers Socialism to Anarchy. I personally believe there will be another option, that of freedom and liberty, as are based on law and order.

warren, olathe

The extreme right wing Anarchists could never gain power because anarchy is the absence of power. The opposite is very possible. If Anarchists gained enough popularity to start to affect our system and law and order disappeared, a totalitarian form of government would be the result.

Ron Forberg, Atlanta

As a landscape photographer, I know from experience that photography is 90 percent seeing and 10 percent photographing. A picture seen in this quote are opposing perspectives of mentality & attitude relative to structure: top-down vs. bottom-up. However, both Hitler, a right-wing facist and Stalin, a left-wing socialist, through poles apart politically, became kings in their sandboxes by constructing pyramid organization structues to exercise rigid control of their respective constitutiencies, neighbors and unleash misery and death on millions. There's just one solitary life who's effected the course of history bottom-up rather than top down.

Senor Reek, Heartland West

Ron Paul as about as close to an anarchist as we've gotten in the last 20 years. Let's hope he gets elected and saves us from the Neocons

E Archer, NYC

I suppose I am with Sumner however Libertarianism (classical liberalism + classical conservatism) is the polar opposite of socialism.

  • Reply
RobertSRQ    12/6/07


David B, North Carolina

I'm with the Anarchists!

Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL

I'm a panarchist, but if the only two choices were anarchy or any form of totalitarianism, be it called socialism, fascism, corporatism, communism, theocracy, monarchy or democracy, I'll take my chances with anarchy. At least then, the violations of my rights will not be legal and without impunity.

James, Glasgow

Unlike other commentators on here, I believe Law and Order is the opposite of Freedom and I stand with the Professors' Anarchist view! Maybe, indeed, it was said in jest, but I believe he actually meant it! Look around you today, the answers are right in front of you.

Since his time, you've had civil rights marches, McCarthyism and numerous wars on the pretext of defence, when it's for money or resources. Wake up!


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