Three Sacred Monsters of Anarchy: Today Proudhon and Mutualism

Every day when I talk about anarchy, the profound ignorance that exists in people about this philosophical and humanist current of self-organization of societies, human and non-human, continues to call my attention.

For me, it is so clear the direct relationship that exists between the social-economic organization proposed by the anarchy and the decentralization proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto in his White Paper, which in recent times, I only dedicate myself to explaining this to my family, my friends and my professional surroundings.

The term anarchy is highly related to chaos, riots, hooded people burning police cars, and political and economic instability. This is the result of many years of misinformation through the disinformation media in the hands of power, which obviously rejects anarchy because it competes directly against any system of power and armed hierarchies to exercise power.

Power, governments, international organizations, insist on making us believe that we are very bad at controlling ourselves and that there has to be a central daddy to guide us and tell us what to do and how we should behave, for society to be an Eden as it is today.

When I discovered Bitcoin in 2011 and understood what blockchain technology meant, a light went on in the tunnel for me. Until then, I had been an unbearable pessimist about the future of humanity, dominated by eternal wars to obtain and pillage resources with the sole desire for dominance. Bitcoin showed me that it is possible for human beings to organize and coordinate the needs of "mutual", without the need for wars to dominate others.

For this reason, and in honor of the large number of followers that Publish0x gave me, many of whom have become great friends over the years, making me learn and grow with their comments, I propose to make a brief description of the three most accredited thinkers of anarchy to show their stories and their focus of thought. Of course, anarchy has a long list of thinkers, not just three, each one with their contributions and their vision of what a peaceful world is, in which each individual is free and nobody tells him/her what to do, at the same time that he/she does not tell anyone what to do. Each one knows what they have to do so that the "mutual" is sustainable for infinite generations, and not a place where a bag of criminals preys on the resources to buy a yacht and a private plane today. It is not that anarchists are angels. It's that we do what needs to be done. This is the bedside phrase of any well-intentioned anarchist "I did this because it was the right thing to do."

In this post, I am going to briefly describe Pierre Joseph Proudhon, considered by many to be the father of anarchy since he was the first human being to call himself an "anarchist".

In his very short life (he lived only 56 years) he developed an extraordinary theory for the 19th century. There are several famous phrases that we can read in his books, for example, "Anarchy is order without power", which was apparently the inspiration for the famous anarchy symbol of an A inside a circle that is still seen today as an identifying symbol of the anarchy.


Image by rhinostril from Pixabay 


Proudhon believed that men's protests against "being organized" and treated like tools were valid. Men must be free in a mutual order, and not "organized" by authoritarian recipes based on "stupid fictions" such as God, State, or Majorities.

Proudhon staunchly defended mutualism in production and trade. His "Workers Associations" organized in total freedom by free men, were the natural response to authoritarian communism and the capitalist wage system. Unfairly, due to this opposition to the authoritarian communism of a Socialist State and his defense of the right of a free association of each member to these groups of freely organized workers who could freely dispose of the products achieved with their work, Proudhon was branded as "bourgeois and individualistic”. One of the many stupidities of history.

The mutualism proposed by Proudhon ha as some rules that I describe here.

1) Every individual employed in the association, man, woman, child, office manager, foreman, laborer, apprentice, has an indivisible right in society.

2) Each individual has the right to perform all his talents, in all their degrees, according to the aptitude of sex and seniority.

3) Education, instruction, and apprenticeship should be organized in such a way as to enable the individual to adequately discharge the portion of difficult duties, and to follow a lifelong course of technical work and instruction, to achieve in the period of retirement an encyclopedic aptitude and sufficient income.

4) The individual can choose his/her work and must adopt the rules established by the “mutual”.

5) The salary must be proportional to the nature of the work, the importance of the talent, and the responsibility delegated.

6) The individual must participate in the benefits of society, as well as in its costs, in proportion to the services he/she provides.

7) Each individual is free to leave the association at his/her own will, claiming the accounts and liquidation of his/her rights. Reciprocally, the association is free to accept new members.


These ideas provide very important support to argue two fundamental problems of the economy: the employment force and the division of labor.



Image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay 


Far from chaos and disorganization, Proudhon had the vision, in the nineteenth century, of replacing the State with an autonomous society, of replacing the political organization with an economic organization, of replacing the central administration with an anarchist federation of "Workers Associations", which he called the principle of “self-government”.

Proudhon's proposal is not idyllic or easy, it is a proposal of concrete responsibility of each individual to contribute to the "mutual" in a sustainable way. This concept was probably influenced by the 3 years he spent in prison for his criticism of Napoleon III. Proudhon is currently recognized as the founding father of "cooperativism", from which co-management and self-management companies derive.

Proudhon maintains with his mutualism based on the labor theory of value, that when the product obtained with the effort of labor is sold, in exchange it must receive goods and services that are equivalent to the "amount of labor necessary” to produce an article exactly similar and that has the same utility. Proudhon expressly says that in mutualism, society is made up of people who have regained the dignity of a job they own, without coercion of any kind, without the need for a state, and with no structure to act as guide or control.


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay 


I do not want to end this brief summary of one of the theoretical fathers of anarchy, without analyzing one of his most famous phrases, which was and continues to be so controversial for those who do not want to understand the underlying concept of anarchy.

I am referring to Proudhon's iconic phrase: "Property is theft."

Proudhon published1840 his book "What is property?", a work that launched him to fame. For this work, Marx congratulated him and called him a true socialist. They began an epistolary exchange that did not last long, because it did not take long for them to fight badly, since Proudhon was not and did not want to be considered a socialist, always reaffirming his condition as an anarchist. And as is well known, Marx always had a bad fight with those who did not think like him.

Qu’est-ce que la propiété? is an emblematic book of anarchy. Proudhon believed that the usual conception of property must necessarily combine two different components, one that has the form of tyranny, and another that has the form of protection of freedom. This concept makes it quite clear that the result of the individual's work, of his profession, of his professional association, generates a legitimate form of property. But he was adamantly opposed to unoccupied and non-productive land being conceived as a form of legitimate property, just because someone holds "possession", generally achieved by the use of force or by some perk of power. By extension, since only worked land is a form of legitimate property, Proudhon questions “sacred” institutions such as interest on loans or rental income.

To make it clear, private property would refer to ownership of vacant land (and this would be theft, theft to the mutual), while personal property would be the product of the work actually done by the individual on raw and semi-finished materials. This differentiation is crucial to understanding Proudhon's mutualist critique of state capitalism. Finally, the property is divided into a common property and an individual property. So, capitalism steals property from the working class by paying them a wage that has nothing to do with what they produced.

When Proudhon died, a large procession followed his body to the Passy Cemetery, made up of thousands of anonymous Parisian workers, the men who in a few years were going to fight in defense of the Paris Commune.

In the same way that the intelligent world is organizing itself in terms of cooperation between different “Workers Associations” that we can associate with the different proposals of cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms, decentralized finance, and Metaverses type “tribes”, I interpret the Proudhonian difference between private property and personal property as the difference that exists between obsolete finances, stagnant banking structures, and international organizations that nobody chooses and that nobody respects anymore, and the cooperation that exists in the spontaneous order of the cryptosphere. The latter, always according to my criteria, is the best current representation of the personal property that this Frenchman imagined more than 200 years ago.


As usual, none of the things written in this post are financial advice and are not intended to replace personal research.


Thank you for reading!


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Franchise veteran, Dapps developer, DeFi evangelizer, Bitcoin and Ether since a long time

SirGerardThe1st Grimoire
SirGerardThe1st Grimoire

The book of secrets. The book of spells. The fundamentals of anarchy. Nature does not make mistakes. Tao does not fight, triumph.

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