Full Text


Jeff Shantz

Subject History » Intellectual History
Legal and Political » Political Philosophy

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

Key-Topics anarchism, labor, liberty, monopoly, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01065.x


Mutualism is a social and economic theory, most often associated with anarchism, which traces its roots to the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon, in turn, borrowed the name “mutualism” from a Lyon workers' association, the Mutuellistes, seeing in their practices the principle of a society that would accord labor its true value. As a means towards that end, in place of political parties or trade unions, Proudhon advocated economic organizations based upon principles of equal exchange, such as cooperatives and “People's Banks.” The consequences of this reorganization of social life include the limiting of constraint, the reduction of repressive methods, and the convergence of individual and collective interests ( Proudhon 1989 : 91–2). This Proudhon calls “the state of total liberty” or anarchy, and suggests that it is the only context in which “laws” operate spontaneously without invoking command and control ( Proudhon 1969 : 92). Mutualists follow Proudhon in envisioning future social organizations as economic rather than political. They see society as organized around free federations of producers, both rural and urban. Any coordination of efforts must be voluntary and reasoned. Mutualists differ from other anarchists, as well as from most communists and socialists, in allowing for the existence of private property and even money in a post-capitalist society. Mutualists ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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