Spencer develops various specific disastrous ramifications of the wholesale substitution of the principle of compulsory cooperation—the statist principle—for the individualist principle of voluntary cooperation. His theme is that “there is in society . . . that beautiful self-adjusting principle which will keep all its elements in equilibrium. . . . The attempt to regulate all the actions of a community by legislation will entail little else but misery and compulsion.”
Though almost forgotten today, Herbert Spencer ranks as one of the foremost individualist philosophers. His influence in the latter half of the nineteenth century was immense.