William Schnack is an author, philosopher, and community organizer. On the show we discuss Pierre-Joseph Proudon’s mutual credit bank (mutualism), Henry George’s land value tax (Georgism), and how these two schools can be married under the libertarian philosophy of geo-mutualism.
This is one of the very best discussions of the system of social stratification in the United States that I have ever seen, both inside the academic world and outside. This is really great work.
By Will Schnack
Evolution of Consent
Class refers to one’s political and economic position, while status includes one’s cultural standing, or the esteem one’s culture has for them, which is affected by one’s class, but not wholly restricted by it. These are quite often correlated to some degree, such that “class status” may be useful, but this is not always the case. There are times when one’s status is elevated above one’s economic class, or when it falls below.
For instance, a greatly skilled artist from the lower class may find him or herself elevated in status when they find the favor of upper class spectators or otherwise come across wide support. On the other hand, if one goes against the norms or customs of the upper class, as by engaging in the wrong conspicuous consumption, or doing the “wrong” thing, they may fall in their status, without falling in their class.
Class relates to property, but status includes social esteem. Status is composed of the power and/or privilege of one’s class (relationship to property ownership), but also includes one’s level of prestige. Power is the ability to decide or make changes, to rule, while privilege is a granted opportunity (by power), and prestige is social esteem or influence. At times, elevated status, from high levels of prestige, allows one to transcend class boundaries.
In the United States there are three main classes, with some subdivision.
Todd Lewis joined by Keith Preston (classical anarchism), Sean Gabb (classical liberalism), and Will Schnack (geo-mutualism) to discuss economics.
By Will Schnack
Ideologies and philosophies that go by the title “anarchism” are wide-ranging in their span. These include mutualists, individualists, collectivists, communists, capitalists, nationalists, primitivists, futurists, and more. It has become something of a common trend for people to come up with the next new “anarcho-” position. Even more recently, as a revival of an attempt to settle the “infighting,” positions which include all of these into their ranks have been taken, with titles such as “anarchism without adjectives” or “without hyphens” and “pan-anarchism.” However, when one actually analyzes these different factions, one quickly comes to realize that most of the hyphenated positions are not much different from the standard views of the statist, except for a few minor details, usually philosophically inconsistent.
I’m here to do what I can to stop all of the confusion.
The first form of anarchism was mutualism, as Pierre Proudhon was the first to label himself as such. Yes, there were thinkers long before Proudhon who espoused anarchic philosophies. These folks did not call themselves anarchists. William Godwin, labeled an anarchist posthumously, and Josiah Warren, whose writing precedes Proudhon’s by some years, were only widely referred to as anarchists after Proudhon’s use of the term in describing himself. Josiah Warren had actually resisted comparisons to Proudhon made by William Greene, but nonetheless Proudhon’s title of “anarchist” would be attached to Warren’s name in the United States through the thought of folks such as Benjamin Tucker. It is those elements which have something in common with Proudhon’s thought—mutuality—that are responsible for each individual’s claim to the title. Without these similarities to the man who was the first to identify himself as such, there would be no claim for these others. William Godwin and Josiah Warren, like Proudhon, described a liberty of the individual accompanied by a widespread access to land, which set them apart from both state socialists and classical liberals, and made comparisons to Proudhon easy.
Any positive use of the term “anarchist” must relate to the philosophy of Proudhon’s in some way, and indeed this seems to have been the case historically. Proudhon seems to have set the precedent for defining an anarchist. Perhaps what makes Proudhon the most relevant basis for anarchist thought is that it was Proudhon who was the main philosopher of anarchism during anarchism’s rise as a social movement in Europe, during the Paris Commune and First International, where Proudhonists were a dominant presence. No other anarchic thinker had inspired a social movement of this magnitude in the modern era. Because Proudhon was both the first to self-identify as an anarchist, and because he was also the first to inspire a large movement of anarchists behind him, it’s not unreasonable to use his defining thought as a standard from which to gauge the merits of others. In fact, it seems the reasonable thing to do so.
Evolution of Consent
This was composed for a speech given to the East Texas Freethinkers
on February 18th, 2017 in Tyler, Texas.
Mutualism is an anarchist social philosophy first established in print by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. While often considered to be the father of mutualism (something I have repeated and am apt to do again), Proudhon was actually more of its first philosopher, because mutualism already existed to some degree, long before Proudhon would write about it in his works. Proudhon had spent time among the workman’s associations in Lyon, France, where he witnessed fraternal organizations and guilds functioning in mutualistic manners, involving member control from voluntary participants. When he wrote in favor of mutualism, he probably had these cooperative associations in mind. Nonetheless, Proudhon can be considered to be the first philosophical exponent of mutualism as a school of thought.
Along with being the first philosophical proponent of mutualism, Proudhon is the first to call himself an anarchist. Yet, again, the sentiment against government and the state long preceded Proudhon. Some have traced it back to Ancient Greek or Chinese thinkers, such as Zeno or Lao Tzu. Others suggest that others much closer to Proudhon’s time were the first, such as William Godwin or Josiah Warren. Proudhon maintains the title of the first anarchist simply for being the first to call himself such on record.
This is a quick introduction to geo-mutualist panarchism. You can find more details about geo-mutualist panarchism from my website, evolutionofconsent.com, where you will find related articles, as well as my book, “The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays.”