Posts Tagged: Mutualism

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Free exchange would look nothing like the rigidly hierarchical state capitalism we see around us. Facilitated by horizontally networked organization and peer-to-peer exchange, new decentralized economies will look like Occupations, not Corporations. Economic experimentation is the most dangerous threat to the status quo, and the organizations that hope to perpetuate it.

“The nature of distributed systems themselves have brought with them their own culture or ideology. … Our new peer-to-peer reality has changed the way we think about everything from exchange to personal relationships. And we can perceive the ways that technology informs culture (and vice versa) all around us, back through history. The work of the Center for a Stateless Society’s Kevin Carson has demonstrated the effects of a subsidized American car culture on the overall economy, suffusing everything from suburban sprawl to distribution paths or consumer goods. Nothing about the present system was simply a foregone conclusion. Authority has impacted the technological ecosystem at every step of development, suppressed alternatives, and obliged the established economic powers.

“Contrast authoritarian capitalism with the decentralized, horizontally-networked-and-ordered free market presently materializing, one in which the effective exercise of power through hierarchy is less and less possible… . The individualist anarchists’ was the ultimate ‘open source’ economy, enabling each individual to enter into any economic endeavor she pleased, to contribute in any way, thereby occupying the margins on which capitalist profits rested. The Internet has thrown open those margins to the benefit of
individuals and at the expense of established corporations who have used legislative and regulatory means to keep them closed… . The individualists, from Josiah Warren onward, shared amongst one another an enthusiasm for and desire to undertake experimentations within the economic realm, eschewing uniformity and doctrinaire declarations about what a free economy must be. Experimentation of the kinds they esteemed is of course a threat to the status quo, and thus to the organizations that depend upon and hope to perpetuate it.”

M. George van der Meer is a mutualist and decentralist. Formerly a curator of fine art, his interests include social philosophy, antiquing and film.

Support C4SS with M. George van der Meer’s “The Network Economy as New Mutualism”

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“The ballot is only a bullet in another form. An appeal to the majority is an appeal to brute force… . Instead of actually fighting over questions, it is more economical to count noses and see which side would probably win… . The result shown at the polls indicates a certain stage of mental development in the community. As that mental development is changed, the political manifestations of it change also. So we are brought back to the original starting point. If we wish to effect the abolition of the State through politics, we must first teach people how we can get along without it. When that is done, no political action will be necessary. The people will have outgrown the State and will no longer submit to its tyranny. It may still exist and pass laws, but people will no longer obey them, for its power over them will be broken. Political action can never be successful until it is unnecessary…” — Francis D. Tandy,VOLUNTARY SOCIALISM: A SKETCH

“Thus the immediate program of Mutualism is presented: In the social sphere, it is the creation and support of such voluntary associations as will be able to supersede the present coercive system, and, in the economic field, the creation and support of such vol­untary agencies as will sharpen individual initiative and responsibil­ity, and free economic life from the oppressive hand of authority and privilege… . Mutualists, therefore, advocate the forming of voluntary associations which can demonstrate in actual practice that the various services and functions performed by governments can be furnished and discharged better and cheaper by such associations… . By withdrawing support from the State, where it may be done with im­punity, and by ignoring it wherever possible, and where its hand bears most heavily upon the non­invasive citizen, the rigors of governmental interference with individual liberty and with the practice of the princi­ples of Mutualism may be modified by creating a vacuum around the arch­-aggressor.” — Clarence L. Swartz, WHAT IS MUTUALISM?

Support C4SS with ALL Distro’s “Mutualist Methods: Two Essays on Practical Anarchy”

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This “Appendix” was printed with The Inherent Evils of All State Govern­ments Demonstrated, a special reprint of the Vindication of Natural Society (ACS # 6) circulated by early English mutualists in 1858.

“The law of progress in human society is identical with the tend­en­c­y to individualize… . The doctrine of the sovereignty of the individual, the most ultra-radical doctrine in theory and final purpose ever promulgated in the world, teaches, in principle, the pro­spect­ive dis­rupt­ion of every existing institution, utterly at variance with all that has hitherto been prac­tis­ed in the world… . State Govern­ments will never give real freedom to their subjects. When a people know what real liberty is, and what it is worth, they will assume it as their natural inheritance; and will resist any at­tempt to rob them of it, under the pretence of ‘gov­ern­ing’ them, as they would resist a band of robbers.”

“But not until the property-relations of man shall be placed on a foundation of Equity, can the sovereignty of the indivi­du­al be realized; nor can any other of the human relations be just or har­mon­ic… . With the full recognition of the equality and reciproc­ity of all rights and duties; with the use of land, and all oth­er nat­ur­al wealth, easi­ly attainable; with a circulating medi­um of exchange, expanding and contracting as wealth, or bona fide credit was created or consumed; and with the moral belief current in society that the prices of all com­mod­ities or services should be regulated by their absolute cost — the vicious system of profitism or profit-mongering, which now prevails, would cease; because those who now are compelled to resort to this nefarious mode of getting a living, would have other and more legitimate sources of live­lihood… . Equitable Society de­m­ands nothing impossible of humanity… . But words, words alone, will no longer suf­fice. And the remedy is, — homes for the homeless — food for the starving — Equity for all!”

Years after publishing the “Vindication” anonymously, after his author­ship of the essay was discovered, Burke claimed publicly that the anarchistic argument of the “Vindication” was really intended as satire, and a reductio ad absurdum of deistic defenses of “Natural Religion.” However, many early mutualists and anarchists were impressed by the argument and took it seriously; in the “Preface” to their reprint, the anonymous editors, English followers of the American individualist anarchist Josiah Warren, argued that Burke’s argument for philosophical anarchism was both convincing and sincerely made, and his attempts to disown it later should be rejected. While defending the philosophical Anarchism of the “Vindication,” they argued that it was incomplete, con­demn­ing “Arti­fic­ial Society” without offering guidance on how it might be ended, or “Nat­ur­al Society” brought into practical being. They added this “Appendix,” to “briefly [enunciate] the principles through which ‘Natural Society’ may be gradually realized,” draw­ing on the work of the American individualists Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. The result was a fascinating commentary and document of early English mutualism.

Support C4SS with Early English Mutualists’ “Toward Natural Society”

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This “Appendix” was printed with The Inherent Evils of All State Govern­ments Demonstrated, a special reprint of the Vindication of Natural Society (ACS # 6) cir­cul­at­ed by early English mutualists in 1858.

“The law of progress in human society is identical with the tend­en­c­y to individualize… . The doctrine of the sov­e­r­eignty of the individual, the most ultra-radical doctrine in theory and final purpose ever promulgated in the world, teaches, in principle, the pro­spect­ive dis­rupt­ion of every existing institution, utterly at variance with all that has hitherto been prac­tis­ed in the world… . State Govern­ments will never give real freedom to their subjects. When a people know what real liberty is, and what it is worth, they will assume it as their natural inheritance; and will resist any at­tempt to rob them of it, under the pretence of ‘gov­ern­ing’ them, as they would resist a band of robbers.”

“But not until the property-relations of man shall be placed on a foundation of Equity, can the sovereignty of the indivi­du­al be realized; nor can any other of the human relations be just or har­mon­ic… . With the full recognition of the equality and reciproc­ity of all rights and duties; with the use of land, and all oth­er nat­ur­al wealth, easi­ly attainable; with a circulating medi­um of exchange, expanding and contracting as wealth, or bona fide credit was created or consumed; and with the moral belief current in society that the prices of all com­mod­ities or services should be regulated by their absolute cost — the vicious system of profitism or profit-mongering, which now prevails, would cease; because those who now are compelled to resort to this nefarious mode of getting a living, would have other and more legitimate sources of live­lihood… . Equitable Society de­m­ands nothing impossible of humanity… . But words, words alone, will no longer suf­fice. And the remedy is, — homes for the homeless — food for the starving — Equity for all!”

Years after publishing the “Vindication” anonymously, after his author­ship of the essay was discovered, Burke claimed publicly that the anarchistic argument of the “Vindication” was really intended as satire, and a reductio ad absurdum of deistic defenses of “Natural Religion.” However, many early mutualists and anarchists were impressed by the argument and took it seriously; in the “Preface” to their reprint, the anonymous editors, English followers of the American individualist anarchist Josiah Warren, argued that Burke’s argument for philosophical anarchism was both convincing and sincerely made, and his attempts to disown it later should be rejected. While defending the philosophical Anarchism of the “Vindication,” they argued that it was incomplete, con­demn­ing “Arti­fic­ial Society” without offering guidance on how it might be ended, or “Nat­ur­al Society” brought into practical being. They added this “Appendix,” to “briefly [enunciate] the principles through which ‘Natural Society’ may be gradually realized,” draw­ing on the work of the American individualists Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. The result was a fascinating commentary and document of early English mutualism.

Support C4SS with Early English Mutualists’ “Toward Natural Society”

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“The Practicability of Mutualism,” a classic statement of Mutualist theory and practice by Clarence Lee Swartz, first appeared as a two-part serialized essay in one of Edward H. Fulton’s many anarchist newspapers, The Mutualist, published from Clinton, Iowa, in December 1926 and January 1927. This is, to our best knowledge, the first time that the entire essay has ever appeared in print since its original publication.

“MUTUALISM IS A SOCIAL SYSTEM BASED ON RECIPROCAL and non-invasive relations among free individuals. The Mutualist standards are:

  • INDIVIDUAL: Equal freedom for each — without invasion of others.
  • ECONOMIC: Untrammeled reciprocity, implying freedom of exchange and contract — without monopoly or privilege.
  • SOCIAL: Complete freedom of voluntary association — without coercive organization… .

“THE LIBERTARIAN IDEAL IS THE ONLY CONCEPT THAT PAVES the way for the operation of Mutualism. Perfect Mutualism could not exist under any form of authority. It would be thwarted and emasculated at every turn. Just as today every social and economic evil that serves to enslave humanity is the result of some form of governmental interference with freedom and with natural processes, so would the same or similar forces tend to nullify and counteract, to all extent, the advantages to be derived from the application of the principles of Mutualism. It is a plant that requires the fertile soil of liberty in which to make its unimpeded growth… .”

Clarence L. Swartz (1868–1936) was a California mutualist activist, writer and publisher. He was a close friend of the individualist Benjamin Tucker, and contributed frequently Tucker’s paper Liberty, as well as publishing his own anarchist journal, I (1899–1900). After Tucker was forced to retire from publishing by a disastrous fire in his New York book shop, Swartz became a leading figure in preserving, reviving, and carrying forward the tradition of individualist Anarchism and mutualism in America. During the 1920s, he edited an anti-prohibition magazine, The Libertarian, contributed frequently to Edward H. Fulton’s The Mutualist, prepared and published a collection of Tucker’s short articles, entitled Individual Liberty, and published his best-known work, What Is Mutualism? (1927), a new synthesis of individualist and mutualist thought on anarchist economics and strategy.

Support C4SS with Clarence Lee Swartz’s “The Practicability of Mutualism”

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When describing his book, Kevin says: This book is an attempt to revive individualist anarchist political economy, to incorporate the useful developments of the last hundred years, and to make it relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century. We hope this work will go at least part of the way to providing a new theoretical and practical foundation for free market socialist economics. Speaking for the Distro, I think Kevin is much too modest. This is Kevin Carson’s first big book, an immensely important document in the contemporary revival of left-libertarianism and anti-capitalist individualist anarchism, and one of the most significant developments in the last century for both libertarian politics and radical economic thinking.

Anarchists tend to look embarrassed when the subject of economics comes up. Or we mumble something about Proudhon and then sheepishly borrow ideas from Karl Marx… A specifically anarchistic approach to economic analysis has lain dormant for the last 130 years. However, with the publication of Kevin A. Carson’s STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY this period of dormancy has finally come to an end. –Larry Gambone, Red Lion Press.

I highly recommend Carson’s book… That doesn’t mean I agree with everything in the book… But where I agree with it I think it is an excellent defense of the sort of anti-corporatist, pro-labour, left-libertarianism I embrace; and where I disagree with it I think it makes intelligent arguments that deserve consideration. –Roderick Long, editor, JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES

Overall it is a valuable contribution to political economy and a timely reminder… to libertarians of how radical their creed actually is. In my view, one cannot overstate the importance of Carson’s asking libertarians: what are you defending, the free market or the political-economic system we currently live in? –Sheldon Richman, editor, THE FREEMAN

… his remarkable STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY… displays an admirable range of reading and the style invests the driest economic questions with a certain peculiar charm. –Ken MacLeod, author, FALL REVOLUTIONtrilogy

Kevin A. Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and a prolific writer on subjects including free-market anti-cap­it­al­ism, the in­div­idualist anarchist tradition, grassroots technology and radical unionism. He is the author of ”The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand”, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution. He keeps a blog at mutualist.blogspot.com and frequently publishes short columns and longer research reports for the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Support C4SS with Kevin Carson’s “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy”

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Free exchange would look nothing like the rigidly hierarchical state capitalism we see around us. Facilitated by horizontally networked organization and peer-to-peer exchange, new decentralized economies will look like Occupations, not Corporations. Economic experimentation is the most dangerous threat to the status quo, and the organizations that hope to perpetuate it.

“The nature of distributed systems themselves have brought with them their own culture or ideology. … Our new peer-to-peer reality has changed the way we think about everything from exchange to personal relationships. And we can perceive the ways that technology informs culture (and vice versa) all around us, back through history. The work of the Center for a Stateless Society’s Kevin Carson has demonstrated the effects of a subsidized American car culture on the overall economy, suffusing everything from suburban sprawl to distribution paths or consumer goods. Nothing about the present system was simply a foregone conclusion. Authority has impacted the technological ecosystem at every step of development, suppressed alternatives, and obliged the established economic powers.

“Contrast authoritarian capitalism with the decentralized, horizontally-networked-and-ordered free market presently materializing, one in which the effective exercise of power through hierarchy is less and less possible… . The individualist anarchists’ was the ultimate ‘open source’ economy, enabling each individual to enter into any economic endeavor she pleased, to contribute in any way, thereby occupying the margins on which capitalist profits rested. The Internet has thrown open those margins to the benefit of
individuals and at the expense of established corporations who have used legislative and regulatory means to keep them closed… . The individualists, from Josiah Warren onward, shared amongst one another an enthusiasm for and desire to undertake experimentations within the economic realm, eschewing uniformity and doctrinaire declarations about what a free economy must be. Experimentation of the kinds they esteemed is of course a threat to the status quo, and thus to the organizations that depend upon and hope to perpetuate it.”

M. George van der Meer is a mutualist and decentralist. Formerly a curator of fine art, his interests include social philosophy, antiquing and film.

Support C4SS with M. George van der Meer’s “The Network Economy as New Mutualism”

Photo

“The ballot is only a bullet in another form. An appeal to the majority is an appeal to brute force… . Instead of actually fighting over questions, it is more economical to count noses and see which side would probably win… . The result shown at the polls indicates a certain stage of mental development in the community. As that mental development is changed, the political manifestations of it change also. So we are brought back to the original starting point. If we wish to effect the abolition of the State through politics, we must first teach people how we can get along without it. When that is done, no political action will be necessary. The people will have outgrown the State and will no longer submit to its tyranny. It may still exist and pass laws, but people will no longer obey them, for its power over them will be broken. Political action can never be successful until it is unnecessary…” — Francis D. Tandy,VOLUNTARY SOCIALISM: A SKETCH

“Thus the immediate program of Mutualism is presented: In the social sphere, it is the creation and support of such voluntary associations as will be able to supersede the present coercive system, and, in the economic field, the creation and support of such vol­untary agencies as will sharpen individual initiative and responsibil­ity, and free economic life from the oppressive hand of authority and privilege… . Mutualists, therefore, advocate the forming of voluntary associations which can demonstrate in actual practice that the various services and functions performed by governments can be furnished and discharged better and cheaper by such associations… . By withdrawing support from the State, where it may be done with im­punity, and by ignoring it wherever possible, and where its hand bears most heavily upon the non­invasive citizen, the rigors of governmental interference with individual liberty and with the practice of the princi­ples of Mutualism may be modified by creating a vacuum around the arch­-aggressor.” — Clarence L. Swartz, WHAT IS MUTUALISM?

Support C4SS with ALL Distro’s “Mutualist Methods: Two Essays on Practical Anarchy”

Photo

“The Practicability of Mutualism,” a classic statement of Mutualist theory and practice by Clarence Lee Swartz, first appeared as a two-part serialized essay in one of Edward H. Fulton’s many anarchist newspapers, The Mutualist, published from Clinton, Iowa, in December 1926 and January 1927. This is, to our best knowledge, the first time that the entire essay has ever appeared in print since its original publication.

“MUTUALISM IS A SOCIAL SYSTEM BASED ON RECIPROCAL and non-invasive relations among free individuals. The Mutualist standards are:

  • INDIVIDUAL: Equal freedom for each — without invasion of others.
  • ECONOMIC: Untrammeled reciprocity, implying freedom of exchange and contract — without monopoly or privilege.
  • SOCIAL: Complete freedom of voluntary association — without coercive organization… .

“THE LIBERTARIAN IDEAL IS THE ONLY CONCEPT THAT PAVES the way for the operation of Mutualism. Perfect Mutualism could not exist under any form of authority. It would be thwarted and emasculated at every turn. Just as today every social and economic evil that serves to enslave humanity is the result of some form of governmental interference with freedom and with natural processes, so would the same or similar forces tend to nullify and counteract, to all extent, the advantages to be derived from the application of the principles of Mutualism. It is a plant that requires the fertile soil of liberty in which to make its unimpeded growth… .”

Clarence L. Swartz (1868–1936) was a California mutualist activist, writer and publisher. He was a close friend of the individualist Benjamin Tucker, and contributed frequently Tucker’s paper Liberty, as well as publishing his own anarchist journal, I (1899–1900). After Tucker was forced to retire from publishing by a disastrous fire in his New York book shop, Swartz became a leading figure in preserving, reviving, and carrying forward the tradition of individualist Anarchism and mutualism in America. During the 1920s, he edited an anti-prohibition magazine, The Libertarian, contributed frequently to Edward H. Fulton’s The Mutualist, prepared and published a collection of Tucker’s short articles, entitled Individual Liberty, and published his best-known work, What Is Mutualism? (1927), a new synthesis of individualist and mutualist thought on anarchist economics and strategy.

Support C4SS with Clarence Lee Swartz’s “The Practicability of Mutualism”

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First published in 2005 by the author. Second edition published in 2007.

When describing his book, Kevin says: This book is an attempt to revive individualist anarchist political economy, to incorporate the useful developments of the last hundred years, and to make it relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century. We hope this work will go at least part of the way to providing a new theoretical and practical foundation for free market socialist economics. Speaking for the Distro, I think Kevin is much too modest. This is Kevin Carson’s first big book, an immensely important document in the contemporary revival of left-libertarianism and anti-capitalist individualist anarchism, and one of the most significant developments in the last century for both libertarian politics and radical economic thinking.

Anarchists tend to look embarrassed when the subject of economics comes up. Or we mumble something about Proudhon and then sheepishly borrow ideas from Karl Marx… A specifically anarchistic approach to economic analysis has lain dormant for the last 130 years. However, with the publication of Kevin A. Carson’s STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY this period of dormancy has finally come to an end. –Larry Gambone, Red Lion Press.

I highly recommend Carson’s book… That doesn’t mean I agree with everything in the book… But where I agree with it I think it is an excellent defense of the sort of anti-corporatist, pro-labour, left-libertarianism I embrace; and where I disagree with it I think it makes intelligent arguments that deserve consideration. –Roderick Long, editor, JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES

Overall it is a valuable contribution to political economy and a timely reminder… to libertarians of how radical their creed actually is. In my view, one cannot overstate the importance of Carson’s asking libertarians: what are you defending, the free market or the political-economic system we currently live in? –Sheldon Richman, editor, THE FREEMAN

… his remarkable STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY… displays an admirable range of reading and the style invests the driest economic questions with a certain peculiar charm. –Ken MacLeod, author, FALL REVOLUTIONtrilogy

Kevin A. Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and a prolific writer on subjects including free-market anti-cap­it­al­ism, the in­div­idualist anarchist tradition, grassroots technology and radical unionism. He is the author of ”The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand”, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution. He keeps a blog at mutualist.blogspot.com and frequently publishes short columns and longer research reports for the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Support C4SS with Kevin Carson’s “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy”