Why Government at All?

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William Henry Van Ornum is not one of the names that we remember particularly, but he was one of the more important anarchist voices in the pages of The Twentieth Century, and Why Government at All? deserves its place among the more ambitious works produced by anarchists in the U. S. There is a good deal here to disagree with, but that's to be expected. The anarchist tradition in the U. S. produced lots of articulate writers but very few extended treatments. The ones we have are treasures that ought to be preserved.

Why Government at All?

A Philosophical Examination of the Principles of Human Government, Involving an Analysis of the Constituents of Society, and a Consideration of the Principles and Purposes of all Human Association.

William Henry Van Ornum

Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1892

issued without copyright



  1. Introduction
  2. Henry George: his Economic Absurdities and Contradictions
  3. The Single Tax: Inadequate, Illogical, Cumbersome, and Unjust
  4. State Socialism: its Origin, Objects, and Methods
  5. State Socialism: its Foundation and Necessary Development
  6. The Fallacies of Karl Marx
  7. The Fallacies of Edward Bellamy
  8. The Fallacies of P. J. Proudhon and his School
  9. Social Palliatives
  10. Reform by Political Methods


  1. The Motive of Human Action
  2. The Object of Human Life
  3. The Purpose and Condition of Human Society
  4. The Development of Individual Character
  5. Human Equality
  6. On Property
  7. Human Liberty
  8. Slavery
  9. The Church and the State


  1. Recapitulation
  2. Government: Its Nature, Origin, and Tendencies
  3. Government: Its Functions
  4. The Real Scope and Functions of Civil Administration
  5. Government: Its Relation to Public Enterprises
  6. Crime: Its Nature and Cause
  7. Crime: Its Treatment
  8. Public Education
  9. How Laws are Made
  10. Summary


  1. The Abolition of the Law
  2. Effect Upon Public Order and Security
  3. Effect Upon the Distribution of Wealth
  4. Effect Upon the Development of Individual Character
  5. Solution of the Woman Question
  6. Solution of the Race Question
  7. Solution of Every Phase of the Social Question
  8. Conclusion