Anarchist Schools of Thought - Mutualism


Mutualism began in 18th century English and French labor movements, then took an anarchist form associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in France and others in the US. This influenced individualist anarchists in the United States such as Benjamin Tucker and William B. Greene. Josiah Warren proposed similar ideas in 1833 after participating in a failed Owenite experiment. In the 1840s and 1850s, Charles A. Dana, and William B. Greene introduced Proudhon's works to the US. Greene adapted Proudhon's mutualism to American conditions and introduced it to Benjamin R. Tucker.

Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation, and credit and currency reform. Many mutualists believe a market without government intervention drives prices down to labor-costs, eliminating profit, rent, and interest according to the labor theory of value. Firms would be forced to compete over workers just as workers compete over firms, raising wages. Some see mutualism as between individualist and collectivist anarchism; in What Is Property?, Proudhon develops a concept of "liberty", equivalent to "anarchy", which is the dialectical "synthesis of communism and property." Greene, influenced by Pierre Leroux, sought mutualism in the synthesis of three philosophies – communism, capitalism and socialism. Later individualist anarchists used the term mutualism but retained little emphasis on synthesis, while social anarchists such as the authors of An Anarchist FAQ claim mutualism as a subset of their philosophical tradition.

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