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Working paper

Equitable commerce: the mediaeval origins of American anarchism

Traditional ideas sometimes turn into revolutionary ones because of changing circumstances in which they continue to exist. Their revolutionary appearance, however, might be intentionally accentuated by the new followers of these ideas. Consequently, a legitimate and respectable tradition of thought becomes marginal and ridiculed. It is an aim of the history of political thought then to reveal the true origins of these ideas. This paper focuses on one such case, namely, the equitable commerce theory of the first American anarchist Josiah Warren. The study seeks to show that the novel character of this theory is overestimated and that an essentially conservative idea of just price lies in the foundation of the whole American anarchist movement.