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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Mutualist (1826): Building the Structure of the New Society, Etc.

Shawn Wilbur has another mutualist classic online: "THE MUTUALIST, Or, Practical Remarks on the Social System of Mutual Cooperation" (1826). Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

1st Remark—A violent and sudden separation from society is always detrimental to the public and the individual. Has it ever been calculated how much the removal to New- Harmony of all its actual inhabitants has cost them? And how many friends of the System have been kept away by not having the means to remove there[?]... This sum saved and put into common stock could have afforded a capital for two or three Communities to being with any where. One thousand individuals at least have preferred to stay at home, or been unable to leave it, principally on this consideration. It is for them that the remark is intended: let them choose n place or placer of cooperation much nearer o at hand, and thus by saving a great expense of removal, be able to throw more in common stock.

2d Remark.—What need of a definite number of members in order to cooperate? why 50 or 1000?—Cannot 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 families cooperate also on a small scale any where, as easily if not as effectually, and by gradual additions increase their number? They can surely and by setting a good example to their neighbors of good intent and brotherly friendship, do much on behalf of themselves and social cause. If they cannot procure all they want among themselves at first, whatever they exchange or perform or produce is so much gained, and the rest they can purchase as if they were in general society. Let therefore mutual societies be formed every where, whenever there are several families willing to help each other, and thus form the nucleus of a future Community.

3d Remark.—Why cannot mutual societies exist in large towns, where are the best markets for labor, and in the midst of actual society? What need of moving or buying large tracts of land, building expensive palaces, at the outset? Why not put their property, skill, funds, labor and resources in common, rent houses and stores, live like brothers, qualify themselves by mutual instruction, establish schools, profess, and create all needful conveniences, until they can by their own labor create sufficient wealth to become land holders, great proprietors and manufacturers?...

12th Remark—Mutual labor can be exerted in as many ways as individual labor, and with the additional advantage of unity of interest and cooperation. In the concentrated communities, gardening, agriculture, manufactures, instruction, and recreations, appear to form the circle of labor. But why are commerce, transportation, improvements, to be neglected? Mutual societies ought to trade (if not for profit) to exchange the exuberant for the needful. No company could better than they, build vessels or steamboats, pave roads, dig canals, and use them to run stages, wagons, lines. This would produce the threefold advantage of being profitable labor, of showing to the people at large how useful cooperation can be made, and to scatter everywhere the seeds of the mutual system.


Blogger Shawn P. Wilbur said...

Thanks for the mention of this one, Kevin. I think this is a really interesting text. There is an earlier letter, apparently from the same individual, that sets up a lot of this stuff. And I'm working to get several of Owen's other critics from the 1825-7 period cleaned up for posting.

December 12, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Vache Folle said...

Sounds like the Kingdom of Heaven.

December 13, 2006 7:19 AM  

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