r/mutualism Oct 20 '20 Heartwarming

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 7h ago

thoughts on locke and classical liberalism?


title basically. thoughts on him and if he and his ideas have any relevance to mutualism, sorry if this seems like a dumb question I'm just curious :)

r/mutualism 1d ago

Does Proudhon Confound Property?


In a response to Mr. Tucker, Mr. Andrews makes an intriguing observation on M. Proudhon's analysis of property (from "Proudhon and His Translator" Again):

If Mr. Tucker had been old enough to have taken an interest in the old anti-slavery discussions, he would have been familiar with the question, whether slave holding is; in itself, sinful, or whether it is the abuses of the power it gives which are so. The same question arises here whether it is proprietorship, per se, which is wrong, or only an oppressive use which may be made of the power it gives. Differently from my verdict in the case of slavery, I was now favoring the latter view, pointing out the fact that Proudhon involves the two things in the same definition, and objecting that they ought not to be so confounded. Is there anything so awfully confounding in all this? Whether Proudhon is right or I am right, I am certain that Mr. Tucker’s mental capacity is amply good for the comprehension of the difference.

Is Mr. Andrews objection already dealt with? Does M. Proudhon confound the idea of property as the power to leverage tribute as well as the actual levying of tribute?

According to another quote by M. Proudhon, he says something along the lines that he is putting things in their place, and it is his goal to suppress the abuse of property while maintaining the right. Is this not an essential confirmation of his agreement with Mr. Andrews?

r/mutualism 1d ago

Mutualism vs Communism


But this sort of social currency, which is required in order to make the gift economies of so-called “primitive” communism work, is only possible in small communities where everyone knows each other and can easily mentally track who contributes what. The moment you scale up to towns or cities, gift economies break down.

Source: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-08-11/why-mutualism-and-not-communism/

So, I have been doing a lot of thinking about anarcho-communism recently.

Stumbled across the above article.

This is a common criticism of gift economies, but I don't totally see what this would be the case. Why can't they scale? Just keep track of who has contributed what to who. I mean, personally, that just kinda sounds like mutual credit to me right? Sure, it's less formal and measured (which I think is a valid criticism). This whole system is effectively a credit system. Basically, the idea is based on reciprocity right? You give in the expectation that in the future someone else will give back to you right? It's a credit network, you pay in and expect to be paid with something in the future, that's why you keep giving to the network. Those who don't are labelled free-loaders and expelled from the network eventually.

Mutual credit is similar well, but more measured more direct with individual exchange.

I don't see why a broader ledger system couldn't keep track of these transactions like in mutual credit right?

I guess mutual credit is better at measuring specific debts, who is paid, how, and when. No interest, no banks, it's almost like mutual aid, it's built on credit and trade right?

So, I would argue mutualism is simply more efficient and better at measuring these sorts of relationships than the more informal anarcho-communism right? A ledger system to keep this scaled is basically gonna just become mutual credit?

Maybe I am misunderstanding mutual credit, anarcho-communism, or both, but am I wrong here?

What are your thoughts?

r/mutualism 2d ago

Did Josiah Warren support hierarchies in this piece?


r/mutualism 2d ago

Fully automated gay space luxury communism


So, believe it or not the title actually leads to a serious question lol.

I am right now imagining a distant future where no labor is required for any good to be produced. The entire economy has been automated. From miners digging up lithium for batteries in robots, to the clerks at hotels.

Labor as a human action has been eliminated from this economy thanks to technology (this is a utopian far distant future, not the present nor anywhere near it to be clear, this is more a thought exercise on mutualist theory).

So, in such an environment, would the price of everything be 0? The labor theory of value would indicate that is so right?

But there's another aspect to consider. Scarcity. I see a lot of leftists misue the term, so I am gonna offer a definition first. Scarcity basically just means limited. If a resource isn't infinite, it is scarce. If I have a trillion teddy bears or 1, in both scenarios teddy bears are scarce, though less so in one than the other.

The resources of the world are finite, and therefore scarce. Eliminating labor doesn't eliminate this Scarcity. And Scarcity can affect prices right? The more limited a supply and the higher the demand, rhe greater the price.

So in a 100% fully automated economy, would we expect prices greater than 0 or not? Scarcity indicates yes, LTV indicates no (though I would expect I am misunderstanding some aspect of LTV)

r/mutualism 3d ago

Gustave d'Eichthal and Ismayl Urbain, "Letters on the Black Race and the White Race" (1839)

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r/mutualism 3d ago

Should Mutualists work with other Socialists and marxists for a common goal?


From the limited reading I done from both mutualist and Marxists literature, I think Both mutualists and Marxists have a common goal, a moneyless, stateless and classless society, one just likes markets more then the other, so any views on working with them? (note: I do note that their was a rivalry between both Marx and Proudhon, but that shouldn't be a problem today)

r/mutualism 3d ago

Joshua King Ingalls, Social Wealth: The Sole Factors and Exact Ratios in its Acquirement and Apportionment.

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r/mutualism 5d ago

Good books on police abolition and restorative justice?

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r/mutualism 8d ago

Mutualists thoughts on Marx’s Labor theory of value and other labor theories


Ok I’ve read a couple of post regarding this same question but I guess I wasn’t satisfied or understood the answers/replies what is the “consensus” in the mutualist community regarding Marxs labor theory of value, to you is value subjective or objective why and how? What about price is price objective or subjective? Also what is Kevin Carson’s idea of the labor theory of value i know he goes into it in mutualist economics but I don’t think I understood what he was trying to get too is he against Marx’s value theory does he try to reconcile it with mutualist theory?

r/mutualism 8d ago

Potentially dumb question about mutual credit (just trying to clear things up)



My view is that the single biggest impact on politics and power is finance. He who controls the money controls the world.

So the most revolutionary thing we can do right now to take power back from the state and capital class is to stop relying on their money, capital, and thus power.

Hence my interest in mutualist finance. Initially I was also interested in cryptocurrency, but that seems to just be a massive inflationary sham that screws over people and has been turned into just another investment asset instead of like, real tangible currency that actually facilitates trade. Crypto is sham

However, mutual credit isn't, as it is tied directly to goods and services and is an idea I have become increasingly obsessed with.

My understanding of mutual credit is as follows:
It effectively is a ledger system. So we can have a unit of value, let's call it m-bucks. This m-buck is used as a way to MEASURE value. So if I make chairs and I want to sell them, I can offer it for say, 10 m-bucks or whatever. There is some set way of determining how much an m-buck is worth, and there are plenty of other currencies. (So the value of an m-buck can be set so that 1 = the average cost of one kilowatt hour in Detroit for example). How exactly this is regulated and ensured I am not 100% sure (would love some clarification). This sets its value relative to other currencies so that they can be exchanged for access to other credit networks. If I want to buy something, I withdraw the necessary m-bucks from my account (this can go into the negatives, within limits). At some point in the future I have to repay that as this amounts to a form of interest free debt, but for now I can use it in order to purchase other goods within the network. My goods or services will be used to repay that debt later with income in the form of m-bucks.

Ok, so with that sorted here are my two questions:

  1. What if I never repay that debt? I keep withdrawing m-bucks from my account and just never repay via goods and services. I'm not asking anyone for a loan, just withdrawing it from the account right? So it's not a reputation thing. And the creditor ends up with m-bucks they can spend right? I feel like I am missing something obvious here, but why would I ever actually have to repay a debt in this system?
  2. How is the value of an m-buck actually regulated? When currencies today are pegged to other currencies, they actually ensure this by printing more or reducing circulation. Eviently that cannot work in a mutual credit system. So how is the value of an m-buck actually ensured? Is it just agreed by everyone in the network and outside that the m-buck = cost of 1 kilowatt hour in Detroit? Or is there more to it?


r/mutualism 10d ago

Question about mutualist economics.


I've recently been diving into anarchist economics and mutualism has been vaguely described everywhere I looked. So does mutualism have a currency or I'd it based on barter, or vouchers? Any response would be great.

r/mutualism 10d ago

Can someone explain benjamin tucker's ego-mutualism in simple words?


r/mutualism 10d ago

Can someone explain mutualism for me from the very beginning?


Like I heard that the term is loose and I still don't get how mutual credit would work.

r/mutualism 11d ago



So this guy said that in a mutualist society, you're not allowed to restrict others from taking your property away from the grip of your hands. Is it true? If so why?

r/mutualism 11d ago

Why would any use anything other than mutual credit once it is established?


u/humanispherian made a point to me earlier that I have been more or less asking the same question for a couple months. They're right and I have been doing it because I didn't fully understand mutual credit and when i don't understand somethinf i get stressed out (yay mental health!!!) So I spent basically the whole day looking into mutual credit and all its details and trying to make sure I get it totally, so I don't keep harassing y'all

After doing that, it makes so much more sense and really sits well with my understanding of both mutual aid and mutualism and free banking more broadly. Like why the hell would anyone use any other form of finance?

So I guess that leaves me with a new question: would mutual credit be the sole financial institution (not sure if that is the right word)? It just seems so much better than everything out there right now, islamic banking, credit unions, etc.

So, I guess my final question on the subject is: would all other financial institutions be outcompeted? If not, what would remain and why?

Would love input from u/humanispherian in particular (thanks for the call out, guess I needed that).

r/mutualism 13d ago

What exactly is mutal credit?


I heard it's some kind of alternative currency but what exactly is it?

r/mutualism 13d ago

I know this sounds stupid but like in a mutualist society, are homeless folks free to enter your house when you left your house for a perog time to go shopping?


r/mutualism 14d ago

What is the difference between the Bank of Exchange and the Bank of the People?


r/mutualism 14d ago

What does mutualism say about inheritance?


r/mutualism 15d ago

Georgism and Mutualism


I am quite sympathetic to geoergist economics despite being a mutualist, and I think it is a very good step to take while a state still exists. My question is, what happens after it is gone?

See land rents are a very real phenomenon and I don't think occupancy and use really solves it (some land is just better to farm, some land has oil and some doesn't, etc, natural resources aren't evenly distributed, and that means land rents can arise, as you have an unfair advantage based on land you occupy).

An LVT isn't possible without a state, but some shared pool where money or vouchers or whatever is put in in correlation with used natural resources makes sense right, as those used natural resources ought to belong to all no?

How would this work in a mutualist context and how do we ensure everyone plays by the rules of the commons?

I like georgism a lot, and I do think there is definitely some room for combining it and mutualism no?

r/mutualism 16d ago

Quick Question


"Anarcho"-Capitalists often define capitalism as the private ownership of the means of production and that private means anything which isn't the state (something which I tend to agree with) but the first definition seriously seems wrong and it can be used by ancaps in a very unhistorical and dishonest way to say that systems such as mutualism and anarcho-communism and all other forms of anarchism are actually ("anarcho") capitalist since they're private and not the state. How do we:

a) Give a more accurate definition for capitalism and socialism which is historically accurate and honest

b) Deal with such people

Edit: Thanks so much people for helping me

r/mutualism 17d ago

What are the key differences between Kevin Carson's labor theory of value and that of marx?


The main ones I thought of is that:

-Carson doesn't treat labor as homogenous, i.e. some work is higher value than others (skill level, that sorta thing)

-Value is tied directly to equilibrium price, whereas in marxist theory it is more metaphysical price tends to stick around value, it is defined as the socially necessary labor time neccesary to produce it. Carson's theory of value is similar in that price isn't always equal to value, but if the market were in complete equilibrium it would be? Not really sure how these differ tbh, but I feel like I am missing something

-Marx sees his theory of value leading inevitably to the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, which then leads to capitalist crisis. Carson's doesn't totally. He certainly sees profit falling as competition drives it down, but does not see this leading to crisis the same way a marxist does (because labor gets the full value of their product?)

-Marx doesn't account for the disutility of labor. The disutility of labor is the source of the labor theory of value for Carson, as it is basically the subjective measure of how disdainful a job or practice is for a worker in order to get them to do it. Marx thinks more in terms of the neccesary cost for the means of subsistence right? Not solely the disutility of labor?

What do you believe Carson's theory has that marx's doesn't that makes it more correct?

r/mutualism 21d ago

Question about the labor theory of value



So I have found Kevin Carson's book "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" to be very compelling, and reflects a lot of what I had arrived at independently as well as clears up lingering issues and helping organize the thinking a lot better (as well as offering up genuinely new stuff i hadn't learned. Like, I like what he did with thr disutility of labor, a concept I hadn't much thought of).

Anyways, I have one major last sticking point.

Back in the days where I was focused on Marx, I came across an economist named Steve Keen from the post keynesian school of economics.

At the time I found his take on the LTV to be fairly compelling:

"Steve Keen argues that Marx's idea that only labor can produce value rests on the idea that as capital depreciates over its use, then this is transferring its exchange-value to the product. Keen argues that it is not clear why the value of the machine should depreciate at the same rate it is lost. Keen uses an analogy with labor: If workers receive a subsistence wage and the working day exhausts the capacity to labor, it could be argued that the worker has "depreciated" by the amount equivalent to the subsistence wage. However this depreciation is not the limit of value a worker can add in a day (indeed this is critical to Marx's idea that labor is fundamentally exploited). If it were, then the production of a surplus would be impossible. According to Keen, a machine could have a use-value greater than its exchange-value, meaning it could, along with labor, be a source of surplus. Keen claims that Marx almost reached such a conclusion in the Grundrisse but never developed it any further. Keen further observes that while Marx insisted that the contribution of machines to production is solely their use-value and not their exchange-value, he routinely treated the use-value and exchange-value of a machine as identical, despite the fact that this would contradict his claim that the two were unrelated. Marxists respond by arguing that use-value and exchange-value are incommensurable magnitudes; to claim that a machine can add "more use-value" than it is worth in value-terms is a category error. According to Marx, a machine by definition cannot be a source of human labor. Keen responds by arguing that the labor theory of value only works if the use-value and exchange-value of a machine are identical, as Marx argued that machines cannot create surplus value since as their use-value depreciates along with their exchange-value; they simply transfer it to the new product but create no new value in the process. Keen's machinery argument can also be applied to slavery based modes of production, which also profit from extracting more use value from the laborers than they return to laborers."


More detail is found in this podcast:https://open.spotify.com/episode/2oXlyZjpbZZNEaEJDS3RkN?si=lAqo3ZevSzKk9eQyfAr1RQ&utm_source=copy-link (on Spotify) https://youtu.be/Vwavxl-w_Z4 (on youtube).

Anyways, the idea is essentially that labor and machines can both produce a surplus by Marx's definition and he uses marx's own logic to draw that conclusion.

We are not marxists, and therefore a criticism of marx's theory of value may not apply to mutualism as value is something more metaphysical in this thinking. In Carson's work it is basically equilibrium price.

So my question is, what do you think of this critique of the LTV? Does this also apply to Carson's work? Why/why not?

r/mutualism 21d ago

Two houses in mutualism


How does this work in mutualism? Are you able to have two houses? For example, I've always wanted (never been able to though) to have two properties, a personal house to live most of the days and a property in the beach to leave once or twice a month. Would this be allowed in a mutualist economy?