Definitions of mutualism

Submitted by Agent of the I… on June 19, 2024

Does anyone else notice how mutualism is defined nowadays by some of its advocates? They tell us that mutualism should not be defined narrowly as some kind of market socialism. That it is really like anarchism without adjectives; it’s an approach to anarchism that doesn’t preclude markets, that it leaves all options open. Sometimes it is any non-communist anarchism.

They argue that when anarchist communism developed, that is when mutualism became associated with market socialism. But this just begs the question? If there are forms of mutualism that doesn’t have markets, where are those proposals? If it’s just an approach that leaves all options available, then what does that approach entail?

Does anyone have any criticism of this redefinition of mutualism? This way of defining mutualism just seems like a way to avoid the criticisms levied at it when it is thought of as a kind of stateless market socialism.


1 week ago

Submitted by Anarcho on July 14, 2024

Any such redefinition is historically wrong -- mutualism was always in favour of markets and members of all its various sub-schools all polemicised against all forms of communism.

However, they always supporting the right of individuals and groups to associate in a communist manner if they like. As the anarchist-communists advocated free and voluntary communism, both schools had the same position in this. As such, it is hardly a mutualist position.

My problem with some mutualists today is that they tolerate "anarcho"-capitalism or certain "anarcho"-capitalists. And certain "anarcho"-capitalists certainly see "market anarchism" as the means of getting a foothold into the movement.

Agent of the I…

3 days 13 hours ago

Submitted by Agent of the I… on July 18, 2024

The mutualists I describe will say that mutualism was the original form of anarchism, that it developed in the 1840s and 1850s, before the emergence of collectivism, and later communism. It is in this period that mutualism is more like an open ended approach as opposed to a stateless market socialism. They say they are just returning to this true definition of mutualism. My problem is that they never provide any evidence of this to prove their point.

These mutualists espousing such views can be found on anarchist subreddits like Anarchy101 when you search ‘mutualism’ or the main mutualist subreddit. One prominent spokesperson for this view is humanispherian, who some of us are familiar with.


16 hours 23 min ago

Submitted by Anarcho on July 21, 2024

Yes, mutualism did develop first -- collectivism and communism came later. However, it could not be "open ended approach" as there was no other tendencies to contrast with. As such, it is not surprising they provide no evidence -- because there cannot be any.