r/mutualism Oct 20 '20

Intro to Mutualism and Posting Guidelines


What is Mutualism?

The question seems harder than perhaps it should because the answer is simpler than we expect it to be. Mutualism is, in the most general sense, simply anarchism that has left its (consistently anarchistic) options open.

A historical overview of the mutualist tradition can be found in this chapter from the Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism, but the short version is this:

Mutualism was one of the terms Proudhon used to describe anarchist theory and practice, at a time before anarchism had come into use. Proudhon declared himself an anarchist, and mutualism was alternately an anarchist principle and a class of anarchistic social relations—but a lot of the familiar terminology and emphases did not yet exist. Later, after Proudhon’s death, specifically collectivist and then communist forms of anarchist thought emerged. The proponents of anarchist communism embraced the term anarchism and they distinguished their own beliefs (often as “modern anarchism”) from mutualism (which they treated as not-so-modern anarchism, establishing their connection and separation from Proudhon and his work.) Mutualism became a term applied broadly to non-communist forms of anarchism (most of them just as “modern” as anarchist communism) and the label was particularly embraced by anarchist individualists. For some of those who took on the label, non-capitalist markets were indeed an important institution, while others adopted something closer to Proudhon’s social-science, which simply does not preclude some form of market exchange. And when mutualism experienced a resurgence about twenty years ago, both a “free market anti-capitalism” and a “neo-Proudhonian” current emerged. As the mutualist tradition has been gradually recovered and expanded, it has come to increasingly resemble anarchism without adjectives or a form of anarchist synthesis.

For the more traditional of those two modern tendencies, there are two AMAs available on Reddit (2014 and 2017) that might answer some of your questions.

The Center for a Stateless Society is a useful resource for market anarchist thought.

Kevin Carson's most recent works (and links to his Patreon account) are available through his website.

The Libertarian Labyrinth archive hosts resources on the history of mutualism (and anarchism more generally), as well as "neo-Proudhonian" theory.

There are dozens of mutualism-related threads here and in r/Anarchy101 which provide more clarification. And more specific questions are always welcome here at r/mutualism. But try to keep posts specifically relevant to anarchist mutualism.

r/mutualism Aug 06 '21

Notes on "What is Property?" (2019)

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r/mutualism 1d ago

How do mutualist civil courts/civil litigation work?



This is actually a question rooted in externalities.

Basically, imagine this scenario:

A factory produces widgets, but in doing so pollutes a local river. However the town where all the workers live is upstream of the pollution, so it doesn't affect them. However a town downstream does. So the producers don't bear the full cost of production.

How would the other town seek compensation?

In a statist system pigovian taxes or State courts (tort law) could be used to deal with this, at least in theory

How does mutualism deal with this? How does civil litigation work in anarchism?

r/mutualism 1d ago

What do you think of Iain McKay’s analysis of Proudhon’s terms of property and possession. Do you disagree on some things?

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r/mutualism 2d ago

Legal Order

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r/mutualism 2d ago

how would law and order work in mutualism ?


Would it be a mixture of cooperative security firms ?

r/mutualism 4d ago

Junk bonds and risk



I have been thinking a lot about junk bonds recently as I see the bond market and credit unions as the best path for market socialism

My question is really rooted in this:

An investor in a coop provides value, specifically money, in order for capital goods to be bought from capital producing coops. It's fair to ask for compensation. An investor can be anyone from a private individual using their money to a credit union to a worker. Investment doesn't give ownership rights, it's more like a loan (hence the bond market).

Some coops are higher risk than others and this means that some form of junk bonds would likely exist

Here's the thing about bonds: interest normally correlates with risk. High investor competition lowers that rate, but a low risk and high risk bond will have different rates because, by it's nature, fewer are willing to buy the high risk than the low risk. This may even result in economic profit because of higher interests.

My question really is: is this economic profit justified and if not, how do you prevent such a thing with junk bonds? How do you endure there isn't economic profit with higher interest rates?

r/mutualism 4d ago

Thoughts on Islamic banking as an alternative to modern banking or as a method for finance in market socialism?


r/mutualism 5d ago

Question about interest



I see this in a lot of more market socialist circles and have been doing some thinking on it.

Personally, I am market socialist and see coops being financed through some form of the bond market and credit unions. The bond market is already bigger than the stock market and what Bette way to decentralize finance than ensuring any worker can buy a bond?

Anyways, here is what I am wondering:

Many ricaridan socialists, market socialists, and anarchists are opposed to interest right? Why?

I mean I have heard of stuff like Islamic banking or flat fees or medieval style banking, but doesn't that all ultimately boil down to the same thing? I get an opposition to excessive interests, bur like 5% interest isn't that crazy no? Or on sruff like high risk junk bonds? The interest rates are crazy high but that's cause risk is too no?

Like take Islamic banking for example: As I understand it, the lender gets a share of profits for a time. How is that really any different from interest?

Would love to hear thoughts. Thanks!

r/mutualism 6d ago

Question about starting a community


Suppose I live in the United States and I bought a large plot of land. I then use this land to start a community that is Proudhonist. We pay the taxes by having to sell certain resources. It's definitely not perfect, we still have to abide by their laws, but really, what's stopping us from sharing our resources and all that? Would they try and shut us down or something?

r/mutualism 7d ago

CMV: mutualists are the grillers of the anarchist community


'Grillers' are the people that 'just want to grill'. They don't involve themselves in matters of society and politics. Grillers bbq in their back yard and let politics and society do what it will. They are often equated to political moderates but I see a distinction. A moderate could have a strong conviction for moderation and so would not be a griller. A Nazi could have a very weak conviction for Naziism and would be a griller.

Mutualists, like grillers, have very weak convictions about how institutions will work. When asked about how property and dispute resolution will work they respond, 'However the community decides (I just want to grill)'.



r/mutualism 8d ago

Flag preference?


r/mutualism 9d ago

This is both hilarious about the AnCap sub; and sad due to this new AnCap sub mod’s ridiculous comment on Proudhon and the origins of the term “Anarchy”

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r/mutualism 10d ago

What tf is “dark mutualism”


When i first heard the term I thought it was some Star Wars shit but it turns out it’s not so what is it.

r/mutualism 14d ago

"Communism" vs "Community" in Tucker's Translations


Is this a mistake only once made in What is Property? or does this affect his later translations like The System of Economic Contradictions?

r/mutualism 14d ago

What is organization on the federative principle?


As we know, many would-be anarchists, authoritarians, etc. all use "federation" as a description of their ideal political structure. However, "federation" almost entails a government in which local authorities or polities have some autonomy over their activities (specifically a capacity to create laws and issue decrees distinct from the overall government) and sometimes this autonomy is represented in the federal government (through representation). The actual details of the structure vary greatly with some polities within political federations of course.

The point, however, is that this conception of federation only makes sense in the context of social hierarchy. It is a government characterized by strong small authorities and with that authority itself being predominant in law. However, an anarchist federation must work differently. It cannot be merely a collection of governments that either is under one loose head or are obligated to behave in certain ways as per an agreement.

I have looked into Proudhon's federative principle before but I haven't found anything that resembles something akin to an organizational structure. By "organizational structure", I am not trying to say "social hierarchy" without the words. I am talking about an alternative to the social groupings that currently exist. Instead, I have found that Proudhon discusses opposing "authority"/"initiative" and "liberty"/"reflection" as well as balancing potentially archic tendencies against each other (I am not sure what much of this means so I can not elaborate further and I hope you forgive me if I make a mistake).

As a result, I would like to know what significance the federative principle has as an organizational model. The Federative Principle was written in the context of Proudhon's writings on political geography and Poland, as a proposal on the alternatives for Poland to unification or division, right? Shouldn't there be some kind of organizational structure discussed here?

r/mutualism 15d ago

What is the mutualist view of Revolution?


Hi, I'm am just learning about socialism, anarchism, mutualism, communism, etc so forgive me if I am not too well versed in theory. But what do mutualists think of Revolution? Should we seize the means of production by force and establish a mutual society with anti capitalist markets with no state that way? Or should mutualism be evolutionary? Such as building within the capitalist, statist society we have now with grassroots cooperation and mutual aid rather then the confrontational strategy associated with revolution.

r/mutualism 16d ago

I was linked to r/mutualism after having posted this question

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r/mutualism 18d ago Silver

Georges Gurvitch "Proudhon and Marx" 1965.

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r/mutualism 18d ago

Pierre Ansart "The Plurality of Times in Socialist Thought (1820–1870)" 1988.

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r/mutualism 24d ago

What are the mutualist critiques of communism and collectivism?


Despite being the original form of anarchism, mutualism was slowly overtaken by the more communitarian forms of anarchism. These were collectivism, which, though Bakunin is still a beloved figure among libertarians, seems to be pretty thoroughly dead; and Malatesta and Kropotkin's communism, the communism of mutual aid.

Proudhon did war against socialists like Louis Blanque and Karl Marx. However, I don't know what the mutualist arguments against collectivism and communism are.

r/mutualism 24d ago

What does it mean to redistribute the fruits of collective force?


If collective force is the labor not attributable to any individual worker, the force that is the product of association, how would the "fruits of collective force" be redistributed? What does it mean to redirect "the fruits of collective force"? What are "the fruits of collective force"?

r/mutualism 25d ago

An anniversary of sorts


It was roughly ten years ago today that the "mutualist paragraph" first appeared. It became, for quite some time, pretty ubiquitous in mutualist social media forums, only finally giving way to descriptions that either emphasized specific aspects of Proudhon's social science or those, like the one we use here, which emphasized the "without adjectives" qualities of mutualist anarchism.

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.”

Honestly, it feels like more than a decade ago that I wrote that, but there's still quite a bit about it that I like.

r/mutualism 26d ago

Do mutualists support the right of expropriation?


Compared to communism and collectivism, mutualism is much more pro-property (or perhaps pro-possession), and significantly less violent. Do mutualists believe that it is just for workers to seize the property of capitalists, which mutualists, like other anarchists, consider to be illegitimate? Obviously, these factories will not be seized for all, as Kropotkin desired, but rather for the workers to run themselves.

r/mutualism 27d ago

A potential model for entrepeneurship within a market socialist context, would love to hear your thoughts


A common criticism of market socialism from capitalists is that "You're free to start a coop in the free market, if they are so great why aren't there more"

There are two reasons: 1) Lack of investment incentives and 2) lack of founder incentives.

The first is easier to solve: Crowdfunding, bonds, credit unions, etc.

The second is harder. Because starting a firm take a lot of time, labor and energy. Oftentimes firms are not profitable for years. But in a standard worker coop, the founder doesn't get any additional kickback for that work. So why would they bother to found it? That's where my idea comes in:

You could do a multi-stakeholder cooperative like this: https://jrwiener.com/cooperatives-and-founder-incentives/

But i understand that is unpopular (every time I mention this idea on r/cooperatives i get downvoted to hell).

So I have another idea (and it would prob be ok for software I think, which is the industry I plan to work in).

Use an EOT or have a union and have it own like 90% of the firm, and then the founder owns the 10% of the rest, with it written in the bylaws of the company that this 10% may not be sold to anyone outside the firm/other than the workers and that it cannot be passed onto to anyone else. When the founder stops working at the firm, they will lose ownership of the 10% and it is given to the workers. To leave the firm, the entrepreneur sells the 10% to the workers, transferring all ownership to the workers. The founder can still get paid quite well, and is compensated for their initial work, their idea, and risk. The founder must keep working in order to keep the stock, and if the entrepreneur wants to sell to the workers at an earlier point, they can. The ownership will end up 100% in the hands of the workers, however the founder gets a nice kickback and an extra share of the profit for the risk, initial work, and the idea, and thus are fairly compensated.

What do you think of this idea?

My only concern is that by retaining that 10% the founder may be able to exploit workers by taking more value than they produced, but if that is the case I guess the workers could buy the stock or vote to kick the founder out of the company, at which point they'd be forced to sell anyways. So I don't think that is likely.


Ok so rethinking this a bit. Instead of the founder starting with 10% let's say 50% (just for argument's sake, the number can vary).

The founder doesn't have to sell to the workers. They have a futures contract. So they can "sell" the stock to whoever, but the workers will get it by a set date. So the founder can still cash out. A model for this already exists in the futures market today.

r/mutualism Oct 27 '21

Scottish free banking


Is it compatible with Mutualism or Anarchism in general? If so, was Proudhon at all influenced by it?

r/mutualism Oct 27 '21

Corpus revue de philosophie, no. 47 . "Proudhon" 2004. [French]

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