Economics/Class Relations

Panarchy Flourishes Under Geo-Mutualism

By William Schnack

Center for a Stateless Society

Panarchy Flourishes Under Geo-Mutualism
William Schnack’s Response to Carson’s Arbitrary Occupancy-and-Use Doctrine

My position on occupancy and use is a little different than Kevin’s, and I dare suggest that it is the position nearest Proudhon’s original intentions. Though I do believe it is a component of the original mutualism, I have branded my stance “geo-mutualism,” both in order to differentiate it from common understandings of occupancy and use and to pay tribute to the clarity of Henry George, who saw himself as a student of Proudhon’s. I eventually came to this position after having wrestled with the arbitrariness of common understandings of occupancy and use, especially as it relates to rules regarding traveling, but also after having been confronted in discussions with Georgists about economic rent. Upon adopting geo-mutualism, I thought I had (under principles of mutualism, such as the cost principle) forsaken the mutualist plan in regards to land. Later, I came to find that the community capture of economic rent was a part of Proudhon’s plan all along. I came to mutualism largely through Benjamin Tucker, like Kevin — so this was not expected. This is why it is neither surprising nor anticipated that Kevin would dismiss Georgism so readily.

At the heart of Kevin’s essay, he asks, “Are We All Mutualists?” In this, he takes a transcendental approach, in which he tries to view mutualism from outside of its own body, looking at its conflicts with other ideologies more objectively. In doing so, he acknowledges, with a supporting quote from Bill Orton, that mutualism and neo-Lockeanism may exist on a spectrum in regard to conventions relating to abandonment and community reclamation. It is implied that capitalists and mutualists may simply diverge in how long one may leave one’s property unattended, with mutualists favoring continual use, with short periods of abandonment, and capitalists being more lenient in regards to disuse. While I see this as a stretch, I do agree that occupancy and use, as Kevin defines it, can be looked at in a very general sense — as existing on a spectrum with neo-Lockeanism, however differing in some important and irreconcilable ways in the specifics (particularly in areas such as rental property and wage labor). In its theoretical extremes, occupancy-and-use represents collectively shared communal possessions, and neo-Lockeanism represents unhampered, undisputed, and perpetual property.


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