L. Susan Brown

Female, Person

1959 –


Who is L. Susan Brown?

L. Susan Brown is a Canadian anarcho-communist writer and theoretician.

Brown is best known for her germinal text The Politics of Individualism and for her article Does Work Really Work?. In The Politics of Individualism, she makes a distinction between "existential individualism" and "instrumental individualism" and examines how these forms are utilized in liberalism and anarchism. She argues for a new vision of human freedom which incorporates the insights of feminism and liberalism into a form of anarchism based on what she calls "existential individualism." The work focuses specifically on the similarities and differences of these political philosophies, by critically examining the liberal feminist writings of John Stuart Mill, Betty Friedan, Simone de Beauvoir and Janet Radcliffe Richards, especially focusing on the issues of employment, education, marriage and the family, and governmental politics. These works are, in turn, compared to the anarcho-feminism of Emma Goldman.

In both The Politics of Individualism and Does Work Really Work?, Brown's conception of libertarian socialism is that all social bonds should be developed by individuals who have an equal amount of bargaining power, because, in Brown's view, an accumulation of monetary wealth leads to the centralization of economic and political power in the hands of a small elite, reducing the bargaining power—and thus the liberty—of the other individuals in society. She provides an in-depth analysis of why, in her view, the wage labor system is inherently corrupt and unreformable and why it must be abolished and replaced with a system in which people would be completely free to choose to perform voluntary activities, a system that would, in Brown's view, encourage people to be creative and self-directed, that would celebrate enjoyment and fulfillment.

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  • University of Toronto

on July 23, 2013


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