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+3 votes
I'm not familiar enough with Proudhon's concepts of mutualist banking to know how possible they would be in the contemporary economy (NA). But, I'm beginning to think that as one possible strategy for creating some resilient cooperatives, communes, and other collectivist or communistic  anarchist infrastructure. What would be some of the dilemmas with such a strategy?
by (2.5k points)
:) someone's gotta ask the questions that make your mouth taste like pickled herring.
Not sure what you mean by 'infrastructure' here.
Power, water, transport?
Or the everything of everyday life:  habitats, workshops, gardens, etc.?

A productive question none the less.
(and i prefer kippers thanks.)

1 Answer

+2 votes
not coming from proudhon, just from experience...
these are some possible problems (in no order at all):
a) the issue of revocabality. anarchists donate to a lot of projects, but as far as i can tell they're mostly either projects and/or donations that are short term, or that the donaters are closely connected with. this provides a flexibility and accountability that longer term projects of distant people don't have.
b) anarchist infrastructure, without anarchists to actively defend it, is worse than nothing. it takes our resources and provides an easy target for the state. the fact that anarchists have (with sweat and blood) carved out and held space in athens is due to conditions that don't exist here, and it's hard to know how the relevant conditions could be recreated/transposed.
c) the power relationship between fund holders/mutualist bankers and other anarchists would be complicated and contradictory. this probably isn't insurmountable, but it's a thing.
d) connected to b, anarchists in the u.s. are not that great at defending. there's an argument that if we had more stuff to defend then we'd get better at it, but who knows. (there are benefits to letting shit go and moving on, but there are definite downsides also. but that's a different discussion.)

what do *you* think?
by (53.1k points)
I think that I should probably read more about mutualist banking because the vague idea I have of it now is practically equivalent to a formal organization that places a high emphasis on its treasury. Or, vaguely understanding the way Mondragon organizes its internal finances... current anarchists that have businesses setting up some sort of bank for themselves that could lead to expansion. This doesn't really get rid of any problems... especially b. It probably wouldn't help a lot if the State (or fascists) could just google map where to find all of the anarchists. Then again it seems like there are a lot of limits to what anarchists can accomplish without reliable spaces (as if anyone has a reliable space right now). At the same time, anarchists do practice forms of collective living already - I just don't know how much they're linked to benefit each other (confederated)? Couldn't there be an anarchist craigslist or something? hahaha. I don't know dot "*shrugs*
Can't help much with the mutualists, but from what I've read of Mondragon:
  Their finances are based on the individual cooperatives, but all the money is agglomerated into a common credit union (cooperative bank).
  The individual cooperatives manage their own affairs, but after paying all expenses (including wages) the surplus is deposited in the credit union.  About 10% is gifted to charity/solidarity works, about 20% is added to the cooperative's reserve accounts for operating capital, and the remainder is deposited in the individual workers' capital accounts - they receive the interest on the account and receive the balance when they retire or quit.  The workers' capital accounts are essentially locked in, creating a large pool of capital that the credit union can loan out to startup/expanding cooperatives, and preventing the 'management' from looting the business (which happens commonly in corporate management).  The individual cooperatives are bound to the credit union by formal contract.
  The credit union itself is a hybrid cooperative, it is owned/controlled both by the workers, and also by the individual cooperatives who are its lifeblood.  The credit union manages the capital accounts, and also accepts personal deposits and makes personal loans; it also provides specialist business advice/support to the individual cooperatives; and it provides the infrastructure for a social security network (since the cooperators were initially excluded from the national schemes).