For every copy of Clarence L. Swartz & Francis D. Tandy’s “Mutualist Methods: Two Essays on Practical Anarchy“ that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage.
… Anarchists must continue to put a strain on the notion of exploitation, to test it, to explain it, experimenting and reviewing. The best Anarchism is the one that holds nothing above the strictest scrutiny, not the labor theory, not equal exchange, not the opposition to ususy; it is a standpoint or inclination rather than a fixed system. Challenges to exploitation are thus challenges to the rigid relationships that now dominate economies, even including those of Marxism, always searching for new ways to free the individual from the system “called slavery, usury, or the tribute levied upon the conquered by the conqueror, and the whole large family of taxes, duties, regalion rights, labor service, tithes, farm-rents, leases, etc., etc.—in a word, property.” As Warren understood so well, we cannot, in our quest to escape exploitation, submerge the individual either conceptually or practically. If exploitation is to wilt and deteriorate, if no exchange is to take place but those that each individual regards as free and fair, then the most vigorous competition must obtain. This, and not “a large blob of protoplasmic homogeneity that lacks all individuality,” is to be the touchstone.
… If individuals were left free to compete and organize, there’s no telling how many would enter the field of banking, or how many different schematics they would develop for that end. As John Beverley Robinson observed, banking is, after all, a “simple and safe business.”
With the capitalist banking apparatus as it is, crises like that of 2008, will not abate at least not for very long intervals. Capital and credit concentration gives way to complacency in business, to waste, to destitution for the people whose work hours drive industry forward even in spite of its unstable footing on which the economic system stands. That system works for the capitalists—is their great swindle—but only to the extent that it remains at all and doesn’t end up completely in ruins. Why those who defend some version of “free banking” should defend the tax—because that’s really what it is—of interest is utterly beyond my comprehension, but what it means is that it’s all the more important for libertarians to continue in the tradition of William B. Greene and Benjamin R. Tucker.
“This essay was born of my life-long search for a meaningful and enriching life-style that moved beyond the limiting world view of dichotomy. Beyond black-white lie shades of grey. Beyond yes-no lie degrees of consent. Beyond up-down and in-out lie concepts of choice. Power webs within institutions and across populations are effective in oppressing individuals and suppressing free expression. Dictates of sex, gender, class and caste remove choice and stifle options.
After a lifetime of struggle and searching, and thirty years of practical experimentation I have come to the conclusion, Mutualism gives an individual the best chance to live a life that can liberate both those who want too much and those who accept too little.”
Essential Mutualism means parity, equity and guardianship. PARITY = on a par by using benchmarking and measuring tools. EQUITY – fair share achieved by linking what you contribute to what you receive. GUARDIANSHIP = giving conscious non-authoritive support by watching out for mission drift, refusing to over-look corrupting activities, avoiding false argument that distracts from purpose, and having honest reasons for including or excluding people.
Q. The biggest reason I’m not a mutualist is because I disagree with the labor theory of value and I don’t consider private (absentee) property to be coercive.
These are usually the two biggest worries that outsiders (e.g. non-socialists) worry about. It’s great to zero-in on these, as that’s half the battle. I will address the concerns (1) and (2) with the aim of showing that they are not truly concerns at all; rather, they stem from a misunderstanding of some of the concepts at hand. From an anarcho-capitalist perspective, it is very reasonable for these to be the biggest sticking points. In fact, they were the two biggest logical obstacles I had to overcome in my transition to mutualism. Without further ado:
Q. One miner, Carl, uses a pickaxe to mine one unit of ore. It takes him 20 hours. Another miner, Fred, unable to find a pickaxe, mines a unit of ore using a crude metal stake. It’s less efficient than using a pick-axe, so it takes him 40 hours. If we consider that one unit of ore, once smelted, can produce 10 steel ladders, then the ‘value’ of both Carl & Fred’s units of ore to someone who makes ladders, is the same. Is it right to say that under the labor theory of value, Fred’s unit of ore, is worth twice as much as Carls, despite both units of ore being equivalent in utility?
This kind of statement resembles a serious misunderstanding of the labour theory of value. I caught myself saying the same things earlier on in my philosophical journey. Before one can show where this analysis goes wrong in that example, one needs to present the mutualist interpretation of the Labour Theory of Value. …
Mutualism, in a nut shell, is best understood as follows:
Mutualism is not a specific social, political or economic system. Mutualism as such is simply the assertion that every meaningfully social relation will have the form, at base, of an anarchic encounter between unique individuals—free absolutes—no matter what layers of convention we pile on it. To the extent that our conventions, institutions and norms respect that basic premise, we can call them “mutualist.” To the extent that we commit ourselves to viewing our relations through this lens, and exert ourselves in the extension of mutualistic freedom, we can call ourselves “mutualists.”
Mutualist “property” (if one can call it that) is based on Proudhonian possession - e.g. occupancy and use. Proudhon arrives to this conclusion through a ‘trialectical’ analysis of property. In What is Property?, he concludes simultaneously that:
… For Proudhon, recall, JUSTICE meant BALANCE, and the various forms of justice formed a SERIES, starting with balances of physical strength and cunning—force and fraud, ultimately. The emergence of cunning as a balance to physical strength initiated not just a change in the criterion of justice, but an increase of complexity, a multiplication of criteria. In the bad old days, when the “equals” or ‘heroes” hardly extended between the strongmen and the con-men (according to Proudhon’s account), we already see the possibility of a multiplication of recognizable strengths. Division of labor—a two-edged sword, like most of Proudhon’s concepts, but not the pure negative of some anti-capitalist theory—opened the possibility for the recognition of additional strengths, and thus the striking of more complex balances. Most importantly, it opened the possibility for a more complete participation by more individuals, or individualities,—all of them (all of us) “differently abled” (as they say)—in the general balancing associated with justice. …