Submitted by subrosa in lobby

Just to make some conversation, or to get challenged. To get an idea of how raddlers respond to mutualism. I have a feeling there's a good tension to exploit.

Of course, labels aren't all that important, and I wouldn't reject being called anti-civ, primitivist, post-left, egoist, synthesist, and a couple days ago someone called me a nihilist... I only really reject syndicalism, platformism, transhumanism. Communism is stuck in limbo, I'm not sure if it can be recovered.

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veuzi wrote

Well, how much do you care about markets and economics in general is my only question.

I used to call myself a mutualist back when I was a baby anarchist because I didn't really vibe with communism, and like you, I found that Shawn Wilbur's online presence (on reddit and his blog) illustrated a far more consistent approach to anarchism than what I saw in the syndicalists and ancoms. But to be real, I never really cared about economics and markets. As soon as I discovered that economic nihilism was a thing I just abandoned any pretense of prescribing economics for an anarchic context, and accordingly dropped the mutualist label.

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subrosa OP wrote (edited )

In regards to market [anarchism], I don't have the energy to deal with the 'money crankery' and the various proposals for credit associations and mutual banking. Don't have much of an opinion on that stuff. C4SS style mutualism bores me. As I hinted at elsewhere in this thread, I'm primarily drawn to the synthesist, 'leaving options open' type mutualism.

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veuzi wrote

As I hinted at elsewhere in this thread, I'm primarily drawn to the synthesist, 'leaving options open' type mutualism.

Yeah that's more or less Wilbur's school of thought. But I don't think even he uses the mutualist label for himself.

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ziq wrote

I wouldn't reject being called

Communism is stuck in limbo

I'm not sure how you could be called a mutualist and a communist. They're completely opposing economic systems. Either you believe everyone should be measured and rewarded by the labor they put in to their trade (mutualism), or you believe in a gift economy where everyone is supposedly equal, regardless of what labor they do or don't do (communism).

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subrosa OP wrote

Shit, I shouldn't have started this thread half-drunk. I've been sober for a month or two, and now I decide to talk mutualism. lol

completely opposing economic systems [...] Either you believe everyone should be measured and rewarded by the labor they put in to their trade (mutualism)

That's the persistent myth that keeps me from fully embracing the label. Mutualism as a proposed economic system, a market-oriented one, as the alternative to the communist one. Wilbur likes to point out that mutualism is "simply anarchism that has left its (consistently anarchistic) options open." At the heart of this Proudhonian type mutualism you won't much of a system to-be-implemented, nor a proposed way of measuring the value of labor.

The idea that the product of labor is its 'just reward' is present in all sorts of socialist tendencies; even Adam Smith made that observation. Proudhon went a step further, his theory of exploitation suggests that organized, collective labor produces more than the 'just reward' — after you have paid everyone, there is still the power of the 'collective being' to account for. The 'collective being' is represented in whoever gets to constitute a collectivity: the capitalist and his firm, the politician and his state.

That's as close I can get to suggesting an equitable economic system — and it's an analysis that lends well to communist principles. Again, Wilbur has sketched out some possibilities in that direction. The mutualist position is that both market and communist forms will find its uses, and that the distinctions are primarily different conceptions of exchange.

Anarchist communism emerged along with individualist and syndicalist tendencies, and, in a way, they all represent antagonistic tendencies that mutualism originally sought to balance.

Going off this, in response to u/hellofriendilu

"Economy" is often reduced to political economy:

Archic social relations are shaped by the questions that they consider answered in advance, the standards they take for granted and the structures—starting with the presence of vertical ranks—that give them their fundamental character.

For Proudhon, the move to economic question was characterized by a "suppression" of political forms, it turned to questions of social relations — which usually isn't recognized as 'economics'. Mutualism's strengths lie in its "social science" — question of how we might conceptualize collectivities as individual beings, individuals as collective beings, and ways to balance this tension.

Every individual is a group.

We need, however, no great effort of reflection in order to understand that justice, union, accord, harmony, and even fraternity, necessarily suppose two terms [spoiler: contradiction and reciprocity] and that unless we are to fall in to the absurd system of absolute identity, which is to say absolute nothingness, contradiction is the fundamental law, not only of society, but of the universe!

My own interest is perhaps strongest in the philosophical considerations. Proudhon frequently returned to the "criterion of certainty", and much of his thought can be characterized as a radical anti-fundamentalism, an anti-absolutism that ties well into the egoism of Stirner and modern post-structuralist thought.

I'll stop rambling here, but I hope that gives you a rough idea. I might do better another time.

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tuesday wrote

Shit, I shouldn't have started this thread half-drunk. I've been sober for a month or two, and now I decide to talk mutualism. lol

What better time honestly?

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ziq wrote

Wilbur likes to point out that mutualism is "simply anarchism that has left its (consistently anarchistic) options open."

is that because Proudhon's ideas were ever-changing throughout his life until the end where, according to some people, he was advocating for social democracy?

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subrosa OP wrote

I think it was his unique position in being a pioneer that forced him to experiment with all sorts of rhetorical twists and provocations. Some of his positions are best read as attempts to exploit a contradiction and wring out any possible radical analysis from the language used by his changing audience — never anarchists, but fellow socialists and reformers, democrats, the bourgeoisie, legislators, journalists, emperor Louis Napoleon, etc. The language of anarchism as we would recognize it today was largely established in the decades after Proudhon's death.

I haven't spent much time with the later work, a good majority of it is still not available in English. But I sure have my doubts about anything in it being recognizable as advocacy of "social democracy", as even the late work The Federative Principle suggests a continuation of his anti-governmentalism. If Wilbur's interpretation can be trusted, then Proudhon's work is "more consistent than complete".

"Leaving options open" is more of a response to the narrowing of concerns that the communism vs individualism/markets discourse has established, the whole conversation resting on assumptions that we really don't have to make.

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[deleted] wrote

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subrosa OP wrote (edited )

Absolutes are perhaps better understood as what Stirner called "fixed ideas". Proudhon opposed the absolute to progress, understood as movement and change.

[Absolutism] is the study, in nature, society, religion, politics, morals, etc., of the eternal, the immutable, the perfect, the definitive, the unconvertible, the undivided; it is, to use a phrase made famous in our parliamentary debates, in all and everywhere, the status quo.

Undivided is perhaps a key characteristic. The absolute is an empty, indivisible unity. Only in division, in series, in 'mutual penetration' with antagonistic terms, does a term gain meaning. Which implies movement, progression.

All that reason knows and affirms is that the being, as well as the idea, is a group. [...]

Of or by anyone.

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[deleted] wrote

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subrosa OP wrote

I'm not sure what you're asking. It would be 'disapplied' everywhere. Mutualism would dethrone every god, and recognize every concept you could authorize as an approximation, for lack of absolute certainty about anything.

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tuesday wrote

so, uh, what is mutualism for those of us who aren't into econ stuff?

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subrosa OP wrote

Well, if nothing else, TIL I'm still very much not fluent in mutualism. And the assumption about it being primarily an economic theory is stronger than I expected.

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veuzi wrote (edited )

There is one more distinct thing that mutualism has going for it, and that is what is implied by its name: reciprocal relations. But even this ties into the economic side of things somewhat whereby economic exchanges that are seen as fair or in mutual self-interest by both parties are as reciprocal as mutual aid is.

So whether I do a thing for you today and you do a thing for me next week then that's cool, but we could also trade a block of hashish and a crate of beer for some loaves of bread and a couple kilos of fresh produce and that would be all cool and good for both of us.

But to be fair, it's been a long time since I've read any of this theory. There's probably more to it.

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Fool wrote

I think that it was largely taken over by market anarchists, because there was no use for the older use of the term as it was a synonym of anarchist.

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Fool wrote

I am fine with mutualism as not closing the door on options.

But overall I believe that the problems start with assigning a value to a task or object that persists beyond a momentary event. As such I am more in line with Communist distribution, but I also see no reason why markets cannot be utilised - bring back the definition of market as a meeting place - the mercat square.

So overall I am against economic systems, but I am also against prohibition of economic systems.

I want to write about why Anarchy can only be negation, and cannot be something.

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fortifiedmischief wrote

Bringing back the market as a meeting place really rings with me. I don't think this concept works on a large scale -- and I don't think it should. Meeting place, with emphasis on place as defining the relationship between everyone who meets there. This would mean some big corporation wouldn't be able to participate as they are inherently disconnected from place.

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