The Civic Bank: The Geo-Mutual Bank as Revolutionary Instrument, Political Mobilizer, and Provider of Welfare and Security

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In this essay, we will take a deeper look at the characteristics of the geo-mutual bank. More specifically, we will discuss the ability of the bank to mobilize populations, establish itself as sovereign, and to ensure people’s safety and well-being. In order to do this, I will be utilizing elements from many perspectives, including geo-mutualism, Modern Monetary Theory, anarcho-syndicalism, and agorism. I will introduce these ideas in short, so personal research into each may be good for the reader. To begin, I will introduce the geo-mutual bank, and describe its functions. I will then proceed to give some background on approaches to change, describing the tactics of agorism and syndicalism in terms of Murray Bookchin’s: lifestyle anarchism and social anarchism. I will proceed to suggest mutual credit as a necessary, neutral, and complimentary component of each, a means of tying the two schools together, and giving both power. Using classical mutualism and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), I will suggest the manner by which mutual credit may mobilize, secure, and defend a revolutionary society.

What is the Geo-Mutual Bank?

The geo-mutual bank is the central organization of a geo-mutual panarchist confederation. The geo-mutual bank performs the function of civil registry, court of common law, mutual credit-clearing house, and community land trust. It registers members to voluntarily-chosen subsidiary units (nations, “governments,” syndicates, etc.), issues them interest-free credit, adjusts for seigniorage as time passes, allocates possession of land according to commonly-managed leasehold agreements, and resolves disputes between members.

As a civil registry, the geo-mutual bank provides the function of filing declarations of sovereignty. If a member wishes to join as a sovereign individual, they will be free to do so. If they wish to join as a federation of communes, a workers’ syndicate, a Heathian fiefdom, a left-Rothbardian community, a paleoconservative confederation, a social-ecological municipality, a participatory society, a national identity, etc. they will likewise be enabled to do so.

As a community land trust, the geo-mutual bank will provide the grounds over which a community may claim sovereignty, whether in compact areas as clusters, or in overlapping jurisdictions. For instance, a community may decide that its members’ land must directly connect to others; it may just demand members exist in a service-area (regardless of direct connection); or it may accept membership from anyone, digitally. This may, but does not necessarily, mean that to get to the other side of a community of which one is a member, one will have to pass through communities that one does not have direct membership in (but perhaps a confederal association to). More than likely, this will induce communities to find common ground and to adapt one another’s values. Those communities which have access to the best land will compensate the communities who take more marginal lands. Just about everyone will have a basic income from dividends from the land.

As a mutual credit-clearing house, the geo-mutual bank will issue credit to its members (either as individuals or in groups), which can be used to lease land from the confederation, can be invested in mental and physical capital, used to make general purchases, and to settle disputes. The credit will be backed by collateral or by good-will to perform labor (debt), and will be issued without interest. The bank will adjust for demurrage and dividends on a periodical basis, as the value of the collateral and labor backing the currency fluctuates. This will keep the value of currency directly proportionate to the things it represents.

As a court of common law, mandates of the geo-mutual bank will preside over all lawsuits. Juries will hold the power to interpret and challenge laws on a case-basis. Punishments will not be issued, but full and immediate restitution will be enforced at all times necessary.

In the manner described above, the bank of the geo-mutual panarchist confederation allocates members to their preferred system of management, offers them a share of the Earth on which to practice this system, the money with which to participate, and the courts by which disputes may be resolved between participants. The rest of this essay deals with some of the other, more specific and potential, roles a geo-mutual bank can play. These roles include those relating to the mobilization of civil society, such as the ability of the geo-mutual bank to deal with problems of war, to provide welfare and security, and to dismantle and defend itself against the state. Before we continue, some background on approaches to change, so that we may better address the geo-mutual bank as a revolutionary mechanism.

Approaches to Change

The most common means of political action is the vote, or reform. Revolutionists long gone and newly arriving are under the consensus that the vote is not a means by which capitalism can be corrected. This is partly due to the fact that elected officials all come from the economic ruling class of capitalism, and have no incentive to end their own privilege. They may offer concessions every now and again, especially in order to gain and maintain their elected positions, but the system that gives them power will remain in place. The revolutionists have all concluded that the working and/or middle classes have to settle things themselves, by use of collective force. As this essay is not based on the question of “revolution or reform,” and I find myself clearly on the side of gradual revolution, I will not be detailing this dispute. However, I do suggest you read further on the matter.

Anarchist praxis— as described by Murray Bookchin, a well-respected author of communitarian and social-ecological strains of anarchistic municipalism— can be divided into two classes: Lifestyle anarchism and social anarchism. These two views are often at odds with one another.

Lifestyle anarchism is based in the individualist belief that it is the multiplication of individual actions that create change in society. Lifestyle anarchists, then, focus on living in manners that are contrary to capitalism and the state, and taking personal steps to lively freely in the now. Good examples of lifestyle anarchism include maintaining a dietary program, like veganism or macrobiotics, growing permaculture gardens, being punk, bartering, dumpster diving, nomadic living, illegalist actions such as stealing from or scamming corporations, insurrectionist activities, and anything else that the individual can do in their immediate lives to confront the values of capitalism or the state, or to free themselves directly to some extent, without having to engage in communal activities. Crimethinc., at least in their earlier years, as I am familiar with them, is a good example of lifestyle anarchism; promoting illegal and adventurous activities, living “off the map,” vandalizing property, scamming capitalists, dumpster diving, etc. Lifestyle anarchists often criticize the others of lacking immediate results, and wasting time in meetings.

On the other end of the spectrum is social anarchism, wherein people are less centered on their individual activities, and are more concerned with group activities. Social anarchists will often reject the value of lifestylists, suggesting that they are unable to make any long-term systemic change without the combined interests of the group. The social anarchist will often participate in mainstream culture, holding mainstream and “working class” (as they argue) diets, having liberal and communalist tendencies in regard to education and healthcare, and, aside from participating in meetings and organized actions, may live otherwise mainstream lifestyles. A good example of an organization largely representing social anarchist interests is the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, which is a revolutionary labor union.

These two tendencies of anarchism, lifestyle anarchism and social anarchism, are often found to be at odds, but there are also some common grounds between them. One good example, though Bookchin may disagree, is the wildcat strike. The wildcat strikes of France in the 60’s were not caused by mass social organization so much as culture (specifically the thought of the Situationists), although it was certainly a social practice, and one informed by organized labor. I would also argue that programs related to cooperative gradualism also provide a common category for the individualist-lifestylists and the collectivist-socialists, as cooperatives (and similar projects) provide an immediate return, as well as a plan for growth and continued association through confederation.

Extreme tactics of lifestylism, including insurrection, illegalism, and other forms of confrontational direct-action, such as “propaganda of the deed,” have long provided a shocking approach to anarchist activity. Such people as Johann Most and Luigi Galleani proposed the violent overthrow of the state. This is a tactic that I more than less have to reject, as it is possibly unethical, and certainly lacks in the area of tact. Before such a proposed use of force can gain any kind of gravity, it will lose favor to popular and established— though arguably false— opinion.

Agorism and Syndicalism

Two approaches to change that get to the heart of the matter include anarcho-syndicalism, or anarcho-unionism, and agorism, or gray-marketeering.

Agorism is a philosophy created by rogue libertarian Samuel Edward Konkin III. It is based on the idea, perhaps first described in depth by Gustav Molinari, that security is provided best by firms in a free market. Konkin suggested that, since this is so, it would be profitable to grow “gray market” systems of justice. That is, provision of law that is, paradoxically, against the law as it is established. Konkin promoted the idea that gray market law, under the proper conditions, can abolish the state. He suggested that overthrowing the state could be “profitable.”[1] He cites the activities in the black market, suggesting that the black market operates solely upon the fact that breaking the law provides high returns (so long as one is not caught and is providing valuable services). Konkin points to the fact that black market economies exist because they are profitable to those who participate in them. He suggests the same can be true with the provision of law against the state. Konkin promotes the use of gray markets (which exist as middle grounds of legal, white market sales, and illegal, black market sales; white markets being the sale of legal goods, black markets the sale of illegal goods, and gray markets the sale of legal goods illegally, or without licensing, taxes, respect for zoning, etc.) as eventual providers of law, suggesting that popular providers of law have the means by which to abolish the state, so long as they can find the proper entrepreneurial approach. Agorism offers a pragmatic tool for dismantling the state: the gray market.

The best examples of social anarchism can be found in the programs of the revolutionary syndicalists and the revolutionary platformists. The platformists, such as Nestor Makhno of revolutionary Ukraine (who was also an insurrectionist), created a document laying out the vision for a future anarchist society. It supported revolutionary syndicalism to a great degree, as well as agrarian communes. Anarcho-syndicalism, as presented by Rudolf Rocker, promotes the idea that workplaces should be managed directly by the workers, and that the means to accomplish such ends is through labor unions. The tactic behind anarcho-syndicalism is to get a mass of the workers to join directly-democratic and autonomous labor unions. These labor unions would also be a part of a larger federation that is capable of expropriating workplaces and setting them under the direct control of the workers. This would ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and payment (if it exists) is organized more fairly. The revolutionary syndicalists, like the workers of revolutionary Spain, used directly-democratic labor unions to overthrow the state, and to establish a workers’ democracy. While it was eliminated by the combined interests of fascism, having occurred shortly before World War II, it provides an important experiment in social anarchism (though many of the participants in the CNT were also proponents or participants of illegalism). Syndicalists provide a proven means of dismantling capitalism.

Each of these anarchists’ tactics have advantages and limitations to them, but together they can mutually reinforce a libertarian system. Social and lifestyle anarchists would do best to unite under a common umbrella, and even to intermingle and adapt one another’s strategies. Life doesn’t have to be one-or-the-other; we’re allowed to blur the area between them. Lifestyle anarchists can do well at living in ways that are conducive to a free life, attracting many free-spirited types to anarchism; social anarchists, likewise, often know how to run good meetings, and to work toward long-term goals. Anarchism needs both of these approaches, but in the proper doses and at the right time.

Many of the problems of the social anarchists stem from the things the lifestylists criticize them for, such as lacking immediate benefit to their actions. Many of the things social anarchists do are wonderfully necessary, but circumstance in the life of the worker often muddies the water. Meetings, picketing, organizing, etc. takes time out of the life of the worker. Coupled by “slave-morality” (Nietzsche) and “totalitarian humanist” (Keith Preston) approaches to socialism, social anarchists have a hard time sustaining membership for their beautiful and much-needed long-term projects. The projects of the social anarchists require mass action, but masses take time to build, and, without offering “the meat” they’re after, people aren’t going to stick around. They need material returns, or at least the rush from a good adventure (hopping trains, as many lifestylists, perhaps).

On the other end of the spectrum, the lifestyle anarchists may offer a good adventure, and some immediate returns (such as methods to live without working), but they also lack a clear vision of social ends. Their behavior may provide them a degree of happiness (it doesn’t appeal to me), but it can do nothing to end capitalism or the state. Capitalism and the state can only be thwarted through social means. Social anarchists are correct to criticize them under these terms.

Finding Common Ground

Here are two thinkers on the near polar ends of anarchism: Rocker, a collectivist, who tolerates markets; and Konkin, an individualist, who tolerates democratic decision-making in firms. The two are not so opposed as to be unable to coexist. Each actually concedes facts of the other. Syndicalists are with the individualists, suggesting that revolutionary activity should provide for material needs. Syndicalists believe that union membership must be grown through gradual union victories. Agorists share concerns with the syndicalists, promoting worker-owned business and concerted activity on behalf of gray-marketeers.

Any real revolutionary activity must be simultaneously individualistic and collectivistic in order to succeed. The synthesis of these forces, of course, is mutualism; similarly the synthesis of narcissism and altruism, reciprocity. As humans are concerned with their individuality and the well-being of the collective, simultaneously, a system will not be adopted unless it can be shown to provide for needs, both individual and collective, better than the alternatives. By conceding to the truths of the other side to some degree, syndicalists provide the best means of victory on behalf of social interests, and in the claiming of positive liberty; but agorists provide the strongest suggestion on behalf of individuals, and in the grab for negative liberty. Being oriented as they are—one for the benefit of the collective, while recognizing individual needs; and the other for the benefit of the individual, recognizing strength in numbers— they still find themselves at odds with one another. There is need for a “gray space” between them, which does not necessarily conflate their interests, but which facilitates their co-dependence and allows for solidarity between the groups. Syndicalism— labor, consumer, and tenant-oriented— provides the best means of dealing with naturally monopolistic markets—the provision of law, communications services, etc.—, while agorism provides the best means of freeing markets from diseconomies of scale, where artificial monopolies have been constructed. Naturally competitive markets, bogged down by artificial monopoly, demand competitive solutions (agorism), while naturally monopolistic markets demand monopolistic solutions (syndicalism).

Revolutionary syndicalist organizations, as well as many other collectivist and volunteer-oriented movements, often face the challenge of staying organized and executing tasks. Volunteers are unreliable, unmotivated, and unaccountable. Anarchists who insist that organizations must function without payment are shooting themselves in the foot. There is so much work that is needed to be done, and so few willing or reliable enough to do it. When work does get done in such organizations, the organizations risk the beginning of a hierarchy, because of the natural ownership people tend to feel over organizations in which they do all of the work without compensation. Indeed, the criticism of the individualistic lifestyle anarchists seems to ring true; the social anarchists lack immediate rewards with which to motivate action.

Agorists lack the means to start their economy. They can profit for a short time by utilizing gray markets facilitated by federal bank notes. This does, thereby, distribute wealth further, but, so long as agorists limit themselves to the use of federal bank notes, their projects will be limited. While agorism, by exchanging federal bank notes under the table, can undercut monopolies that gain profit, interest and rent cannot be eliminated through the agorist process alone. Mutual credit is necessary to challenge the two grandest of productive monopolies: land and capital. While profits are certainly to be done away with, it is interest and rent that provide the real challenges to the revolutionary. Agorists have no reliable means by which to do away with interest. Mutual credit has always been a vessel capable of doing away with interest; as we continue in this essay, we will also see why it may put an end to the rent of the landlord. The exercise of mutual credit is only possible through concerted activity, as social anarchists suggest.

The goal of the geo-mutualist, sharing tendencies with both of these schools of thought, should be to incorporate their values into a holistic framework of mutual reinforcement, and to facilitate their growth. Indeed, I have argued in other essays, such as “Revolutionary Incrementalism and Rebellions of Scale,” that the two tactics of agorism and syndicalism have different applications. They could equally benefit, however, from mutual credit.

The geo-mutual bank provides the means by which immediate concerns can be managed in a social manner for the benefit of all involved individuals. Where social anarchists lack the ability to mobilize and maintain their membership, a geo-mutual panarchist confederation, if grown correctly, would provide the means to do so: credit.

If a mutual credit bank forms, this association can issue credit in whatever manner it wants (charging demurrage or dues to make up for any inflation the release of currency may cause). This means that it has the capacity to mobilize social labor, and to distribute its costs. Rather than relying on volunteers, socially valuable labor can be rewarded without need for the dollar (which can only be gained by performing labor for a capitalist). An organization that can pay its constituents—without need for income from capitalism— is an organization that is destined to put up a challenge.

The geo-mutual panarchist confederation would utilize and embrace tactics from both lifestylism and socialism. It would provide the organizational foundation for industrial unionism, craft guild organization, tenant activities, and more. With mutual credit, the work of organizing these institutions can be compensated. The geo-mutual bank—in many ways the central organization of the confederation— also provides the means by which lifestylists can live more efficiently, and a macroeconomic strategy to increase the return to agorists. Functioning on a common constitution, and having a common program, the confederation can also be understood as promoting a platform. As this paper is not about the geo-mutualist confederation as a whole, but the role the bank plays in the revolutionary activities of the confederation, I will not be going into great detail regarding the activity of labor, tenant, or consumer unions; I will, instead, be focusing on the manner by which the mutual bank may distribute credit, thereby incentivizing revolutionary activity. It will be understood however, that such institutions are necessary components of gradual revolution.

The Power of Mutual Credit

Mutual credit has the unique power to beat prices offered under capitalism, without detrimental effects to wages. Many of the prices we pay in the market today are inflated by capitalism. That is, costs associated to privileges like licensing, and returns to monopolists, such as profit, rent, and interest, are all passed down to the consumer in the prices set in the market. When we pay for items at a store, for instance, all of the costs of the store—including the fees that were paid for their license to operate, interest to the bank for the loan needed in order to start up business, rent to the lord of the land the store sits upon, and taxes paid to sustain operation— are added into the price. Customers, then, pay all of the costs of business privileges, including the privilege to operate, to have land to operate on, and to have the means to start one’s business. A free society would operate without these privileges.

As suggested, a geo-mutual bank could provide the means by which everyone would have fair access to interest-free credit, to a fair share of land or a dividend, and to the provision of justice. Such a society would operate without such costs as licensing fees, taxes, interest, and rent to be passed on to the consumer. Thus, prices would decrease without reducing the return to labor. In fact, by eliminating the privilege of first access to loans (representing the social product, or GDP), which is enjoyed by the capitalist or boss class, the “wage-system” itself— wherein profits and interest from capital are taken by an unemployed employer and workers receive a fraction of their due return, called a “wage” (not to be confused with true wages, equal to the productive efforts of labor)—would be eliminated, and so-called “profits”—the missing portion of the true wage— would find themselves in the hands of the workers themselves.

The only thing standing in the way is the state, and the mentality which protects its interests. By accepting the dollar as “legal tender for all debts public and private,” we enable the state to create a capitalist, landlord, and boss class. So long as we place our value on federal bank notes—which represent our labor without our permission—, and do not monetize our own labor, we will suffer the perils of capitalism. Every price we pay will carry a toll of tribute to the lords of land, credit, and industry.

If we were to monetize our own labor in a cooperative fashion, and to respect it as equally valid, the prices of the capitalist could be beat. By monetizing our own labor and using our own homes as unlicensed cottage industries, we can produce more efficiently in many markets, without paying for extra rent in order to respect zoning ordinances, paying interest for a loan for start-up, or profit to the holder of exclusive licenses. With an agorist foundation, collective institutions can spring up, and mutual credit can be used to pay for socially-needed labor, such as secretariat work, and for contracting.

It is not only the ability to beat prices in competitive markets that gives the mutual bank its power, but also its ability to mobilize social activities. Long holding in the interest of the mutualist is the paradigm of insurance. The geo-mutual bank is not limited to the facilitation of individual exchanges, but also has the potential to mobilize collectivities for socially beneficial purposes. This is not true only so far as mutual credit—or land value indemnity— can pay for “public” servants, but also so far as this credit-money can be used for social programs relating to the well-being of society, such as healthcare, accident and death insurance, education, etc. While mutualists are correct to see the value of mutual credit for the transactions of the individual, geo-mutualists should not find themselves limited to this aspect alone. Mutual credit can also be issued in a social manner, in order to support programs relating to welfare and security. Mutual banks, themselves being democratic, can provide socially necessary services separate from the issue of individual credit. The coming sections will focus on this aspect.

Mutual Banking and Modern Monetary Theory

A key to understanding the power and limitations of the mutual bank is to firstly understand the descriptivist view of money as it exists, according to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Modern Monetary Theory studies the relationship between money and sovereignty. The sovereign, a nation-state, will print money and spend or lend it into the economy as it sees fit, and will take it back as interest and taxes. The sovereign does not have to earn the money, just create it. Money is nothing more than a piece of paper that a sovereign issues. It is accepted in our economy because it pays taxes. The entity that can demand taxes from others, or who does not have to pay taxes to others, is sovereign. Mondern Monetary Theory studies money and its relationship to sovereignty, and suggests that the sovereign is free to issue money as it sees fit, by lending or spending, and to demand it back by way of taxation.

In many ways, mutualism speaks the same language. The goal of the mutualist is to allow everyone to become their own sovereign by having access to interest-free loans from democratic banks (effectively monetizing their own labor), which allow them to have productive property with which to employ their own labor. Both schools of thought attribute sovereignty with currency-issuing power. MMT is based in Warren Mosler’s (founder) descriptivist approach, which very nicely describes sovereignty as it operates today under the nation-state. Mutualism, on the other hand, describes sovereignty if it were placed directly in the hands of the workers, without monopoly or hierarchy.

One of the most interesting aspects of Modern Monetary Theory is that it promotes the idea that the government is not restricted in its lending and spending, and can lend and spend in whatever manner it sees fit. This is very different from a view which suggests that the supply of money must be fixed to a certain proportion in regard to the goods it represents. That is, until effects on prices and velocity are taken into account. However, so long as taxes and interest (demand for money) balance the fresh supply of money the inflation endured because of it will be temporary, and the supply of money will again be fixed to such a proportion that velocity is ideal. In reality, government spending, if it is balanced by taxes, simply distorts pre-existing contracts.

For the liberal, unrestricted government spending is cheery news! It means the government can spend on whatever do-gooder social welfare programs it wants to, such as education and medical care. For the mutualist, it is also cheery news! Just as central state banks can spend and lend as they wish, the mutual bank can do the same thing. So long as the members of the bank consent to specific programs, and the sort of post-Keynesian spending Mosler suggests in MMT, such spending does not infringe on the principles of equal liberty or self-ownership. So long as a convincing argument can be made as for why the mutual bank should spend or lend in certain ways, and the members agree, this is plainly consistent with the ethic of mutuality. This includes spending to mobilize soldiers during times of war, as well for social programs. Such spending, in terms of a mutual bank, can be understood as an act of reciprocal insurance. The cost of such spending will, of course, be resolved in demurrage[2] or will come out of the economic rent, in a similar manner to the rising of interest or taxes in MMT. If a program is sponsored, it will lead to the increase of demurrage or a decrease in the citizen’s dividend, which is necessary to balance the monetary inflation.

When the above is considered, the only real dispute between Modern Monetary Theory and mutual credit is a matter of normative and positive economics. MMT, taking a positive or descriptivist approach, suggests that the state is the sovereign who issues money and collects taxes. Mutualism does not necessarily disagree, it just adds a normative or prescriptivist element that most MMT’ers would reject (without much thought): Mutualists suggest that workers should claim sovereignty for themselves, issue their own credit through the mutual bank, operate under terms of market competition, and undermine the sovereignty of the state. Rather than seeing the state as eternally sovereign, mutualists believe banking can be put into the hands of the workers, and therefor sovereignty as well.

A Revolutionary Instrument of Social Mobilization

The battle of the geo-mutualist includes, but is not restricted to, price wars. It also relates to the socially necessary issuance of credit. The mutual bank has no problem beating the prices of the capitalists. It is not only the prices that must be beat, however, but also the manner in which money and titles are to be released into the economy. It is all good and well to beat the prices of the capitalists, but at the end of the day any agorist network or revolutionary syndicate is powerless to stop the state’s implementation of force without having a plan of action. While the mutual bank is beating the prices of the capitalists in agorist networks, and mobilizing official positions in syndicates, the state is not restricted to market competition. It will simply print more money, in order to mobilize armed forces to physically eliminate the revolution. This mechanism is an act of social sovereignty, and one that must be challenged by the geo-mutual bank.

If the state needs more money to pay troops, to send people to college, to pay for healthcare, it just makes it. Mutual credit and dividends, likewise, can be issued in such a manner. While the state distorts contracts in its creation and release of new money, mutual credit can be released in a manner that simply provides a meta-contract. A meta-contract would be one which comes before, or underlies, another. An example would be possessions. People are generally free to do as they wish with their things, but there is a meta-norm which places limitations on such an approach: they cannot harm another person in the act of doing as they wish with their possessions. Before one has a right to do what they wish with their possessions, they first must respect the right of others to do the same. Likewise, one has a right to individual credit and to make exchanges, but this right sits firstly upon the welfare of society and the ethic of reciprocity.

While market competition generally does a great job of allocating goods and resources, and while it is also true that security is governed by the laws of competition, the competition of security-provision is not merely a matter of market forces. That is, if we understand market economies to be a matter of exchanging money, the creation of money and the claim of possessions to be exchanged is meta, or prior, to this. Markets are provided for by jurisprudence and the application of law. The application of law is a matter of enforcing mores. In order to be enforceable, a system of mores needs to gain support. In order to gain support, the system of mores must appeal to already-existing values. The competition of mores is not one of markets, but of cultural selection.

Without security and protection, there is no social title to possessions with which to make exchanges in the first place. There are merely one’s immediate claims to possessions, those which can be protected with personal force. Credit-money, backed by an absentee claim to possessions, is made impossible under such conditions.

Indeed, the title to possessions and the right to exchange is protected socially through jurisprudence, for the sake of common benefit. If titles are no longer found to be socially beneficial, they are to be socially abolished, and protected at the individual’s own cost. This is yet to happen. Social norms protecting the title to possessions have been established and accepted by society at large, because the individual reduces their cost in such a compact. If society did not suit the needs of individuals, society would cease to function. If property does not suit the needs of society, while society is found beneficial for individuals, property is to be abolished. Individuals should have a right to enter and exit society, so far as they can take their influence with them, but society should have a right to demand expectations of its freely associating members. It just so happens that individuals, while maintaining concern for their own efforts, found it beneficial to agree upon rules regarding the mutual respect of these efforts. Jurisprudence and socially-granted title sprang up to protect concerns already existing.

Agorism, in its proposal of creating gray-market systems of law, provides a good means of challenging the state, but this network depends on a means of funding and the guidance of a principal that underlies and protects the market. In other words, as the state may print money at will to apply force to protect its mores, agorist networks depend on the same social mobility, guided by agreeable principals.

Anarcho-capitalists, of which agorists are a soft variant, are often mocked by leftists for maintaining a profit-based system of social services. A common challenge suggests that taxes are necessary for things like fire departments. Multiple times I’ve heard it suggested that a profit-based fire-department may refuse service to an individual who is unable to make a spot-transaction. The argument suggests, quite fairly, the necessary means of social expenditure that is not reliant on spot-transactions.

Indeed, the only good retort to the challenge of the leftists is to suggest that fire stations and similar establishments could operate on a system similar to insurance. Such services as fire protection can be voluntarily socialized, as they are with insurance programs, and refusal to be insured can be considered an act of negligence. If refused to be addressed, this negligence is equal to an act of aggression, similar to the manner in which driving without insurance is today considered an offense (because a threat is to be treated the same as the act itself, and refusing to be insured is the same as threatening to externalize costs of one’s accidents onto others).

Any system of anarchist jurisprudence depends firstly on a reciprocal agreement of mutual protection, and a means of funding. In other words, for an anarchist society to spring up, a system of values must be agreed upon to such an extent that people are willing to expend effort to set it into place. This effort can be direct, or it can be indirect. The direct expenditure of effort can be understood as being employed or volunteering in defense organizations counter to the state, while the indirect expenditure of effort can be understood as employing that effort.

Humans are only willing to exhaust effort if they believe it will reduce the need for future effort. A washing machine, for instance, is maintained so long as the effort needed to fix the machine is less than the effort needed to wash clothes by hand. If the effort is not believed to save future effort, it will not be undertaken. Likewise, a system of jurisprudence, which takes specific effort to set into place and enforce, will only be set into place and enforced if it is believed to reduce costs more generally.

The geo-mutual bank may provide in its contract a plan by which spending may occur, allocating funds from land value indemnity, or creating fiat, for necessary expenses such as employment of security, the provision of health care, education, etc. as the confederation sees fit. While such spending may distort contracts between individuals, this distortion will be accepted through the underlying social, meta-, or mother-contract of the bank. Because of this, such expenditure will be purely voluntary. Social decisions, as within the bank, will be made by consensus, but individual decisions will be made by market transactions.

People will only put up with the distortion of their contracts if doing so allows them to have the contracts to begin with. Since an agorist network depends on the protection of its interests (property, freedom of exchange) to exist at all, a contract providing the protection of those interests should be prior, or meta, to those interests. Similarly, since my legs depend on my brain in order to function, and not vice-versa, I should allocate first consideration to the needs of my brain, and consider my legs a subsidiary concern. As my possession and exchanges depend firstly on the prior condition of my liberty, I should allocate primary consideration to protection from those who would take my liberty.

Sketching a Post-Keynesian Mutualism

Mutualists have long advocated mutual insurance and mutual protection programs. What I am suggesting is nothing new in this department. What I am suggesting is only a new manner by which geo-mutualists can understand and organize payment. As the state does not have to earn money in order to spend money, but instead makes payments on behalf of society, the geo-mutual bank can do the same. The bank does not have to wait for dues-payments in order to mobilize socially necessary labor. Socially necessary expenditure can be written into the contract.

Konkin suggests that agorists may employ private or cooperative gray-market protection firms as good guys that can come kick out the bad guys (the state). His model, of course, would rely on decentralized user-fees. The accumulation of such user fees can be costly. The immediate distribution of newly-released money, that is simply spent into the economy as it is found socially necessary, is much less limited, and acts as much less of a long-term drain on the economy. If money can be spent in times of emergencies, and used to allocate socially necessary labor, this is much more efficient, and allows for the immediate resolution of problems. The problem of spot-transactions to the fire department is resolved. The cost is socialized, as a form of insurance. Perhaps this will reflect on one’s credit, or on one’s land-dividend rate.

Implementation of such a system would not be much different from universal insurance. Rules and procedures would be established in order that spending was limited to events that were indeed necessary to be addressed on a social level. When one signs up for insurance, for instance, one’s policy outlines the conditions of claims. Likewise, spending by the geo-mutual bank, whether it is for protection or security, education, medical care, etc. will be outlined by the policy of the bank to which one becomes a member. There will be federal programs only so far as they are found agreeable to member organizations.

Upon signing up with a mutual credit union, one will be asked to review the policy of the bank. The policy will outline times when social spending may be necessary, thereby reducing one’s account or land-dividend. Such spending may be used for education programs, health programs, payment to a security force or militia, help with natural disasters, etc. Once established as a dual power institution, the mutual bank will also have procedures for debiting members for their economic rent, interest, and profit.

The mutual bank, if it is to be so grand, must begin as all things begin; as a seed planted into sufficiently fertile conditions for its growth. Indeed, as many Georgists contest, the mutual bank—at least in its beginning stages—is unable to provide the means to pay rent and taxes. Alongside this, it lacks the means by which to confront the agents of the state. Indeed, this is sufficiently true, but it does not capture the whole story. It is not the duty of a greenling to reach the forest canopy, just to get enough light as to continue to grow, at which point it may compete for space already taken. Likewise, it is not the duty of mutual credit, in its stages of gestation, to provide the means by which any and all needs may be met. It is merely its duty to, in some form or fashion, reduce costs for its participants. While it is true that a freshly created mutual credit system cannot force landlords and politicians to accept its currency as legal tender, it can be used in its early stages to free such notes for its holder. If one can purchase food with mutual credit, this frees up the availability of money to be spent on rent and taxes.

If sufficiently grown, the mutual credit network can eliminate profit, and begin to command the mass of the labor market. The gray market, if allowed to flourish, will produce security firms, just as Konkin suggests. Once firmly established, a scenario of dual power will present itself. It is true that workers currently need to earn dollar bills to pay for their rent and taxes, but this is only so long as rent and taxes are seen as necessary payments. They are today considered necessary only because of the fact that the state stands by to mobilize force against dissenters. With the labor market in control of the workers, however, and with security falling into such a category, mutual credit gives workers the upper hand. With a lessening means to mobilize security, or any productive labor for that matter, the property of the rich is destined to be “picked off” and claimed piece by piece. Landlords and employers, having no real means of commanding labor, will be forced to apply for membership in mutual credit networks, which will debit them for their economic rent, interest, and profit. The workers will find themselves triumphant; capitalism will be swallowed up in the sovereignty of geo-mutualism.

[1] I certainly have my qualms with profit, but I do think his system, if adopted in a mutualist manner, could operate without it.

[2] An idea proposed by the economist Silvio Gesell. Demurrage is an expiration rate, or a holding-fee, for the use of money. For more, on this, see my essay “The Proper Rate of Money.”


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