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Mutualism, also known as mutualist anarchism or anarchist mutualism, is a form of anarchism which takes as its core principle mutuality or reciprocity. It is most closely associated with the works of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and William Batchelder Greene, early anarchists whose ideas, along with the equitable commerce proposals of Josiah Warren, formed the foundation for the individualist anarchism of Benjamin R. Tucker and Liberty.

General Caveats

It would be simply incorrect to present the various anarchist projects that have appeared under the name "mutualism"—or to which that name has been retrospectively assigned—in the years since 1826 as if they represented a uniform tradition with a uniform economic program. There are strong family resemblences and discernible patterns of development in the various historical expressions of mutualism, and strong elements of continuity between those traditions and the contemporary mutualist theories of writers such as Kevin A. Carson and Shawn P. Wilbur. Every attempt will be made in developing these entries to obscure neither the similarities, nor the differences, between the various mutualists.

History of the term

"Mutualism," as a term, has seen a variety of related uses. Charles Fourier first used the French term "mutualisme" in 1822,<ref>Fourier, Charles, Traité (1822), cited in Arthur E. Bestor, Jr., "The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jun., 1948), 259-302.</ref> although the reference was not to an economic system. The first use of the noun "mutualist" was in The New-Harmony Gazette by an American Owenite in 1826.<ref>New-Harmony Gazette, I, 301-02 (14 June 1826) cited in Arthur E. Bestor, Jr., "The Evolution of the Socialist Vocabulary", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Jun., 1948), 259-302.</ref> In the early 1830s, a labor organization in Lyons, France, called themselves the "Mutuellists." In What Is Mutualism?, Clarence Lee Swartz gives his own account of the origin of the term, claiming that "[t]he word "mutualism" seems to have been first used by John Gray, an English writer, in 1832."<ref>Swartz, Clarence Lee. What is Mutualism? However, this may be an error, see "Talk:Mutualism#A_John_Gray_mystery" on Talk page.</ref> When Gray's 1825 A Lecture on Human Happiness was first published in the United States in 1826, the publishers appended the Preamble and constitution of the Friendly Association for Mutual Interests, located at Valley Forge. 1826 also saw the publication of the Constitution of the Friendly Association for Mutual Interests at Kendal, Ohio. By 1846, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was speaking of "mutualité" in his writings, and he used the term "mutuellisme," at least as early as 1848, in his "Programme Révolutionnaire." William Batchelder Greene, in 1850, used the term "mutualism" to describe a mutual credit system similar to that of Proudhon. In 1850, the American newspaper The Spirit of the Age, edited by William Henry Channing, published proposals for a "mutualist township" by Joshua King Ingalls<ref>Joshua King Ingalls, "A Practical Movement for Transition," Spirit of the Age, II, 13 (March 30, 1850), p. 202-4.</ref> and Albert Brisbane,<ref>Albert Brisbane, "The Mutualist Township," The Spirit of the Age, II, 12 (March 23, 1850), 179-183.; II, 13 (March 30, 1850), 200-202.</ref> together with works by Proudhon,<ref>Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, "The Coming Era of Mutualism," Spirit of the Age, I, 7 (August 18, 1849), 107-8.</ref> Greene, Pierre Leroux, and others.

The Mutualist of 1826

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

William Batchelder Greene

Joshua King Ingalls

Relation to Equitable Commerce

The mutual banking propagandists

Kevin Carson