What is Mutualism?
by Clarence Lee Swartz
In collaboration with The Mutualist Associates (1927)
Chapter II. Proposed But Inadequate Remedies
A great many schemes have been promulgated in the course of time, to remedy the obvious defects which resulted from the inadequacy of state political institutions to cope with the new economic situations. In discussing these schemes in detail, they should be subjected to two inquiries, to which the system set forth in this volume has also been exhaustively submitted. These are:
- Will it give freedom from oppression? Will it permit each man to live his own life as he sees fit?
- Will it obtain for the worker the full product of his labor? And will it abolish involuntary idleness and stimulate production?
The best that men can expect are such social relations as will make it possible for human beings to be happy, and will deprive no one of the means to secure happiness. This will have been accomplished when both of the above questions can be answered in the affirmative; and it will represent the utmost that may be done. Any further step towards trying to make people happy will defeat its own purpose.
Among the ideas set forth to effect a cure of present evils, two main groups may be distinguished: those that propose a complete change and an entirely new order of things, and those that propose minor changes, half-way measures, and compromises, such as Municipal Ownership, the Single Tax, etc.
The best known of the radical movements for a different social order is Socialism. There are a number of schools of this movement, differing on minor points of doctrine and tactics. But they all agree on the proposition that all capital and all land should be owned and managed collectively by the whole people.
Would Socialism give larger individual freedom?
There are many Socialists who claim that this is indeed one of the purposes of Socialism. Yet there is the famous pronunciamento of one of its high priests - Lenin - that "liberty is merely a bourgeois conception."
It is noteworthy that the great Italian dictator, Mussolini, holds the same view!
The amount of control and regimentation that would be necessary to make the Socialist plan work would leave very little personal liberty to the individual.
Indeed, by a queer quirk of thinking, most Socialists would, on general principles, subordinate the individual to the State. Socialism rests admittedly on compulsion; but it would be a compulsion so far-reaching that if it could ever be made to work, personal initiative would be eliminated. It is true that this is an ideal which appeals to many persons. There are some who are temperamentally fearful of having to look out for themselves. A life of freedom, with its resulting responsibility, does not appeal to the timid.
Under present conditions, there are not opportunities for everyone, there are not enough jobs to go around and, even if all were equally capable, a certain portion of the population would not have work. But, as there are different degrees of capacity, the poorer jobs go to those of the least merit, and the least skilled workman is the first one to be laid off. To such people, a plan where all would be employed by a benevolent State at good pay and with all wages equalized is a pleasant prospect. To have access to a common warehouse, and the right to take away everything needed out of the common-stock, irrespective of whether one had a job and worked or not, is a beautiful dream.
There are now in this country thousands of industries and farms employing millions of men, working with billions of capital, and there is an almost infinite number of activities carried on in the production and exchange of goods and services. But, if now there is a sad lack of personal liberty, what would not be the case if this whole complex, self-functioning economic life were run by the government, or some such agency, as the sole landlord, owner of all the means of production and thereby the sole employer!
Summing up the question of personal liberty under Socialism, it is found that the compulsory collectiveness of Socialism is destructive of the personal liberty of individuals to do what they please, even though their actions may be perfectly non-aggressive of other people's rights.
While in capitalist countries the right of the majority to coerce the minority is becoming more and more questioned as a matter of expedience, Socialism in practice would of necessity abrogate even the most elementary civil rights - those of free speech, free press, free assembly, right to trial by jury, the right to work or not to work. Even if Socialism could actually fulfill all its claims to economic emancipation - the abolition of exploitation - it would still find the opposition of millions of men who will not allow themselves to become enslaved in order to be guaranteed a full stomach.
Will Socialism obtain for the worker the full product of his labor?
In its pure form, if this were possible, it most certainly would abolish private exploitation.
If all the means of production and all-land were in the hands of the government, it is obvious that no individual could exploit another, since the State would be the only employer and exploiter. But there would be two other forms of exploitation by the government. The first would take the form of requisitioning from him who produces more than others. Just as in the "communistic" schools of today, in the public school system, there is the tendency to level down, so would the tendency of the socialist commonwealth be to level down. The leveling of results is the socialist ideal - and practice. It is of no avail for some socialists to claim that this would not be done. It has been done and it will be done again. It is inevitable.
It makes no difference what form of government is cited, it can exist only by taking something away from the people through the use of force. Taxation is a form of robbery or exploitation, even though some service may be given in return.
But, in addition to that, Socialism presents another field for exploitation of the people through government. The main claim for government enterprise is that it operates without a profit. What of that ? It may still be more expensive in operation, even if there is no profit. Private enterprise, conducted for profit, can pay rent for land and interest for money to obtain the capital needed for a concern, pay a profit, and still successfully compete with the State industry, since production without profit by the State is so much more expensive than production with profit by private enterprise. The reason is that the cost of corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement of the State is greater than the profits of private enterprise.
When a single government industry is conducted at a loss, the deficit is made up by taxing private Industry. Under pure Socialism, there would be no private industry to tax, and what would be the result? The experience of Russia speaks in no uncertain language. If it had not been for private enterprise by the peasants, there would have been general bankruptcy and continuous famine. The confiscation of industry, by the Soviets was absolutely ruinous to those industries.
A taste of what would be in store, was and is given in the Russian experiment. And that taste is mild compared with what the actual reality of complete Socialism would be; for it must be remembered that pure Communism has always been a rarity even in Bolshevik Russia. Although the Russian Socialists have been hampered in their efforts, it is permissible to draw upon their experiences in the attempt to introduce Socialism. Actual occurrences are much better testimony than all predictions. And, since, there is now available a large mass of undeniable facts, it is much easier and safer than heretofore to show what has actually worked out of Socialist theories. All statements adduced here are from Bolshevik sources.
What about personal liberty in Russia?
The Communists, who are the real government in Russia, number about one-half of one percent of the population. No mention is made in the Russian Constitution of the all-powerful Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party. It numbers fifty-two people and chooses from among its members the Political Bureau, that group of nine who are the real rulers of Russia. All the exciting shifting around of the big Commissars' jobs in Soviet Russia in 1925 and 1926 (to mention only Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Sokolnikov) was done by this non-constitutional body, not by the Soviet Congress. As all the well-informed Communists frankly and cynically admit, this dictatorial clique controls the appointment of all the important officials, who call themselves the Representatives of the people. There is not a dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, but for the proletariat, as Isaac Don Levine stated in the New York Globe, January 5, 1920.
Civic rights still are based in some respects on the acceptance of certain beliefs. The right to strike in the nationalized factories was denied and the practice made an act of treason, and in many cases suppressed by machine guns. (Krasnaya Gazeta, March 6, 1919, about strikes in Petrograd; Pravda of March 23, 1919, about strikes at Putilov Works; etc.). Free speech and free press, the liberty of discussion and criticism of government, were denied.
This brings to mind Thomas Jefferson's dictum that
“Truth can stand by itself; only governments need the support of authority.”
In addition to forcible conscription, which was resisted by the peasants with determination, the Bolsheviks actually started to introduce involuntary servitude, (See Trotsky's Order to the First Labor Army, published in Krasnaya Gazeta, January 18, 1920. Also report in Moscow Izvestia, May 28, 1920, Leo Pasvolsky, Economics of Communism, p. 189 ff.). It is true that they did not get very far, but that was not due to their consideration of the intended victims, but to the resistance they encountered.
Article I of the Code of Labor Laws of 1919 stated:
“All citizens shall be subject to compulsory labor.”
There are some Socialist who do not agree with this? The trouble with them is that they are not logical enough, for compulsory servitude is the logical outcome of Socialism, and one must give the Bolsheviks credit for their heroic attempt to be logical and true to the premises on which Socialism is based.
The people found out soon enough that the Blue gendarmes of the Czarist days, with special powers and privileges, were not gone, but were merely replaced by Red gendarmes, called the Red Guard, also enjoying special powers and privileges. They were needed to rob the peasants of their products without equitable recompense, to give striking workers a taste of lead, to brutally suppress demonstrations, such as the one for a Constituent Assembly on January 18, 1918. But that was mere child's play compared with the work of the secret police organized in the Cheka, a typical Czarist institution, but in this case clothed with powers such as had not been seen since the Middle Ages. In two years there were, in Moscow and Petrograd alone, 9,641 executions, according to Bolshevik statements (Report of All-Russian Extraordinary Commission in February, 1920); how many more that were not reported, it is impossible to tell. Relatives were kept as hostages for deserters from the army (Krasnaya Gazeta, November 4, 1919; also Trotzky's "famous" Decree No. 903, in Izvestia, September 18, 1918). Houses were searched, people arrested and executed without trials, the only requirement being that the fact be reported afterwards.
After the attack on Lenin, there was released and fostered such bloodthirstiness that real St. Bartholomew's Nights against the bourgeoisie were very common. Gorky's paper, Nevaya Zhizn, No. 5, and previous numbers contain accounts. This paper expressed the horror felt by the better element, and was severely censured by the Bolsheviks for its humanity. When Uritzka, the sadistic hunch-back leader of the Cheka, was killed; "Death to all bourgeois!" was the frenzied cry. (Order of Petrovsky, Commissar of Interior, September 2, 1918. Also article in Krasnaya Gazeta.) The expressed sentiment of the leaders was, that if there were one guilty person in one hundred executed, their deaths would be justified. (Answer of Izvestia to the protests of some Bolsheviki against the outrage of permitting the Extraordinary Commission to execute people without proof of their guilt). Lenin complained that the rule had been too mild, frequently resembling jam rather than iron. No wonder freedom-loving people everywhere decided that life under capitalism, with all its drawbacks and iniquities, was preferable to such a regime.
It was entirely logical for the Communists to try to choke the healthy progress of the Co-operatives, which had been growing lustily up to 1918. They represented the exact antithesis to Socialism, since they were voluntary and autonomous associations. The Bolsheviks proceeded to take over these agencies and nationalize their property. With what result? That in April, 1921, the autonomy of the Co-operatives was re-established, because their nationalization had proved an utter failure !
Did Bolshevism give the producer the full value of his product?
Just how badly the peasants were exploited compared with previous times can be seen, when it is realized that the peasant had to pay thirty to forty times as much for the manufactured goods he needed as he received for his grain, if he got paid for it at all. This-was exploitation of the country by the city, as Gorky called it. No wonder the peasants refused to take money and demanded that the workers give them, in exchange for their grain, the tools and machinery and clothes they needed. This type of exploitation would be even greater in a country in which industry was predominant because the breakdown of the industrial end would superimpose a more rapacious parasitism on the smaller agriculture. At the same time that the peasants were being crushed by forcible levies, a dead weight was placed upon all trade and exchange of products. Money was made valueless, and the only means of transferring products was that of simple barter.
With the junking of the co-operatives, it was not to be expected that the Bolsheviks would exhibit any friendliness toward co-operative or mutualistic banking institutions. Money was issued in a continuous stream, having back of it only the valueless fiat of the state. Thus, out of the bitter injustice of the forced levy and the economic blunder of fiat money, grew the terrible famine of 1921. (Kamanev, in report to All-Russian Congress, December 1921, reported in Pravda, A. Shadwell, The Socialist Movement, 1824-1924 p. 43).
The forced levy was given up; industry was nationalized; and although the money problem was never satisfactorily solved, industry improved the closer it came back to capitalism by way of State capitalism and, subsequently, the "NEP" (the New Economic Policy); and the exploitation of country by the city decreased in the same measure.
Still another form of exploitation was exercised by groups of workers over the rest of the population through Syndicalism. The basic defect of this plan is that it will permit exorbitant demands by the workers in the so-called key industries. While this possibility had heretofore always been indignantly denied by Syndicalists, it was found that some of the Soviets exercised just exactly that power of dictatorship by a single group. For instance, the railway workers, while their numbers increased and their efficiency decreased, made such, extravagant demands in wages that the Bolsheviks had to nationalize the railways, so as to alter the status of the members of the Soviets to employees of the government.
And did the government itself, under the succeeding State Capitalism, take something away from some and give it to others? This is how it worked. After nationalization, a great many factories were subsidized from the treasury of the government. This means that deficits were made up by taxing others, mainly the peasants, and by spending what had been accumulated under the previous regime. The amounts, as published in the government papers, were enormous. That this system invited inefficiency and corruption goes without saying. There was no control over expenditures. Money was forwarded in cases where factories did not exist (Economicheskaya Zhizn, February 25, 1919, Report of Nemensky on Centro Textile: Government Textile Trusts). The results of such "help" were, of course, negligible.
When, in April, 1918, State Capitalism was instituted by Lenin, there was exploitation through bureaucracy. This latter was found to be extravagant, inefficient, corrupt, and reminded the populace very strongly of the old Czarist days. In 1919, the official Bolshevik press was full of revelations of graft, spoliation, and robbery by officials. Embezzlement was very common, and high-handed robbery of the peasants the order of the day. In the Centro-Textile, an audit showed that 125 persons not in its service were drawing pay. According to Izvestia, (Izvestia No. 63, 1919, commenting on and quoting report of Nemensky), a Bolshevik organ, the efficiency was so low that typists averaged one letter in, per day; the clerks averaged half a letter out and one in, per day! Lenin in one of his speeches poked fun in particular at the deadening bureaucracy and red tape that had to be overcome before anything could be accomplished. When the output of a particular industry was finally increased, it was at an enormous cost. The example given of the Centro-Textile is typical, not solitary.
It is true that many officials were put to death by the Bolsheviks for embezzlement and corruption. They point with pride to their severity in those matters. But this merely proves the great extent of official graft, and serves to strengthen the argument against bureaucracy, because it is an exploitation of the general populace.
Paxton Hibben, an admirer of Bolshevism, stated in Current History for February, 1926, that "the Russian government is a bureaucracy - the colossal bureaucracy of red tape that Lenin feared.''
The ideal became that of industrial despots everywhere: absolute submission of the individual to the order of the manager. The State as an employer was found to have all the disagreeableness of capitalism plus all the coercive powers of the State behind its orders, with no hesitancy to use them. The effect of government trusts on the consumer was the same as that of any trust: Standardization of output, high prices, the elimination of all individuality in products, and the reduction of the consuming public to the dead level of having to take what can be most cheaply made at the greatest profit to the manufacturer (that is, of the Bolshevik government).
The government trusts of the present day are still subsidized in various ways by the semi-State-Capitalistic government. The tariff (which is the highest in Europe) is, of course, made with an eye to the protection of the State industries, even if the people have to pay a higher price for their goods. Paxton-Hibben in the same article said that "the government monopoly of foreign trade protects the great government trusts which manufacture the articles that the 135,000,000 Russian need so desperately ... the government that is doing (all) the importing sees to it that what it imports does not put its own factories out of business.''
Did Bolshevism abolish involuntary idleness, strikes and lock-outs, and parasites, thus increasing production to the advantage of the producers?
Agriculture, which was not nationalized in Russia, never dropped to less than fifty per cent of pre-war production. Industry, when fully nationalized and militarized, shrunk to one fifth! (Trotzky in Current History, February, 1926; Kamenev, in report to All-Russian Congress, December, 1921). In a modern industrial country, one-fifth production would mean utter ruin and speedy starvation. The Russian peasant, sticking to private production, carried the nationalized, ruined industry - and saved Russia.
The workers were utterly unprepared to run industries. In The State and Revolution (1917), Lenin, like all soap-box orators, had told the proletariat how easily they could carry on economic life. After 1918, it was another story. His speeches are one continuous, brutally frank admission:
"We don't know the first thing about how to organize, how to distribute, how to manage, and so on. We don't know ..."
He found that the experts had to be called back, at huge salaries; equal pay - a cardinal principle - was cast overboard, together with workers' control, and piece work and the bonus system instituted instead. Lenin's The Soviets at work and The Chief Tasks of our Times advocate such things as "the latest progressive measures of capitalism," … "the Taylor system of scientific management."
With Increasing return to capitalism, freely admitted at the time by Lenin, and with the release of the Cooperatives, production, was picking up proportionately. But the communists are even now living off the inheritance of the past to a dangerous degree. For instance, while there is really little construction going on in Germany, investigators say that, compared with Russia, building activity in Germany is feverish. Failure to debit this non-replacement of buildings and other capital goods gives an entirely wrong picture of actual production, in the same way as would a business statement that showed old, dilapidated buildings at the original value.
Is unemployment decreasing?
While on every other subject there is a great, wealth of statistical data, on this unfailing index of economic health - involuntary idleness - the communists are strangely silent. The Soviet Union Yearbook for 1926 gives no information. According to the Russian Review of December, 1926, unemployment among trade union members alone reached 1,182,500 in April, 1926, an increase of nineteen per cent in a year, despite official forecasts of decrease.
Over a million unemployed trade union workers in an industrially weak country like Russia would be equivalent to four of five million unemployed in a highly industrialized nation like Germany; yet Germany, at the very lowest point of her post-inflation crisis, never had a total of more than two million unemployed. Now, according to competent observers, the total number of unemployed in Russia runs up to several millions. (Morus, a pro-Bolshevist writer, in the Weltbühne, September 7, 1926).
No greater indictment of communist failure could be given than this. Nine years of Socialist experimentation and millions of workers are tramping Russian soil in search of work! And this in the richest country in the world, with vast natural resources just crying to be developed - a country, however, burdened with many specimens of the "Communist brag,'' who, according to Lenin, is a person that, "being a member of the Communist Party, and not yet having been put out of it, imagines that he can solve all problems by Communistic decree" (Arthur Shadwell, The Socialist Movement, 1824-1924).
The primitive conditions under which the masses of a half-Asiatic, agrarian country like Russia are even now content to live are not attractive at all to the Western European or American working man, whose standard of living is from two to four times as high.
To sum up: Exploitation still exists under Socialism. There is the dictatorship of the unskilled, the dictatorship of the syndicates or soviets; the exploitation of the country by the city; and exploitation through government inefficiency, graft, and bureaucratic red tape. The more purely Marxian the type of Socialism, the worse this exploitation would be.
In closing the discussion of Socialism, it may not be amiss to point out that the most important Marxian prophecy has not come true. While under ordinary circumstances this would not be a serious thing, it is very serious in this case, because the scheme was based on just these expectations.
The fundamental prediction was that the workers would become poorer and poorer until they would revolt. Yet they were certainly more revolutionary fifty or a hundred years ago; and their living conditions are far superior today than they were, for instance, in England at the time Marx wrote. The skilled worker now has more of a bourgeois outlook on life and desires a higher standard of living, and in this he is seconded very closely by the unskilled worker, whose opportunity to get into the ranks of skilled labor is also greater today than fifty years ago.
Although it is true that capital is being concentrated in a comparatively smaller number enterprises, the number of capitalists has not decreased, owing to the growth of corporations with a large number of stockholders in all walks of life.
Moreover, Marx did not recognize the real capitalist, although he was pointed out to him very forcefully by Proudhon, the French economist. Seventy-five years ago, Proudhon and Marx were discussing the power of capital, the first contending that it lay with the financial capitalist, Marx insisting on the industrial capitalist. Time has borne out Proudhon's contention.
According to Marx, capitalism was going to fall to pieces because of the rapid increase of commodities produced that could not be sold, so that capitalism would fall of its own weight.
Yet the break-down is now no nearer than it was at that time.
Herman Cahn, a follower of Marx, in his book, Capital Today, admits that the system has changed somewhat since Marx's time, and that the need of capital in backward countries is so great that he is forced to state that the revolution is not coming from too much capital. ... China, he says, will need dollars 100,000,000,000, and other countries will also require large sums, so that the surplus capital can be exported for a long time.
In the meantime, he finds, the industrial capitalist of Marx has been supplanted by the financial capitalist. Yet eighty years ago Proudhon showed the power and dominance of the financial capitalist and was roundly abused by Marx for saying so.
Mr. Cahn shows how the banks expand credit until it is several times the amount of the cash deposited by their customers, and that, when all these depositors will go to the bank and ask for their money, the revolution will come.
Marx had expected a revolution by the people who had nothing. As this did not come off, Mr. Cahn looks for a revolution by those who have something. He is not going to be cheated out of a revolution if he can help it. Somebody must start one; and, if the proletariat won't, the rich will.
Victor Berger, in a recent editorial in his paper, The Milwaukee Leader, also admits the supremacy of the financial capitalist, in the following words:
"The banker used to be just a money changer and lender. When the modern industrial capitalist started out on his career as a victor over feudalism, his experts told him that he would rule the whole capitalist roost. The banker and the merchant would always be his subordinates. That's what Adam Smith and Ricardo told the British capitalists, and it became an axiom, that even Karl Marx accepted. Up to the end of the nineteenth century it looked as if Smith, Ricardo and Marx were right about this. But from then on the banker's capital gradually assumed the prerogatives of industrial capital and subjected the industrial capitalist and merchant to its dictation."
Upton Sinclair, in his Letters to Judd, devotes many pages to the main form of modern exploitation: the banking system! He says: "First among the actions of men which have made poverty in America, I list our banking system." He realizes the importance of credit to economic life and the power that the financier wields through his control of credit.
All these changes of heart by prominent Socialists are the more remarkable, since their view is that the money question is dead. Tommy Morgan expressed this view in the words:
"Socialists have no more interest in the money system of today than they have in the money system of ancient Egypt."
The Marxians in Russia had seized the capital goods according to program; but, instead of producing more, they produced less, - much less, than before. They found it was credit and not capital that was needed; and so, at the Genoa Conference, Tchicherin asked the other powers for credit.
And for the same reason they favor those "mixed companies" backed by private capital. Having always sneered at the Proudhonian idea of credit and called it a bourgeois palliative, they did not understand the nature of credit and to establish it. The repudiation of their debts would have worked, if they had been able to establish credit of their own. In the end they will no doubt have to promise to pay their old debts as an earnest of good will so as to get new loans.
The theory known as Single Tax demands the expropriation of rent by diverting it from the coffers of landlords into the national treasury, and to effect this end, according to Henry George, "all taxation should be abolished save a tax upon the value of land."
What this scheme will actually amount to will be land nationalization. "We must make land common property," is one of the expressions of George. Although he thinks that "it is not necessary to confiscate the land, it is only necessary to confiscate rent", the proposal is really a socialistic or communistic scheme. The ultimate result would be that the State would become the landlord and the tenant would pay a tax instead of rent. But what is the difference between having to pay a tax or having to pay rent for the use of natural resources? The Single Tax would not abolish rent, it would simply change it into a tax. The user of the most fertile land would be taxed till his products would net only as much as those of the user of the least fertile land in cultivation. Leveling results is the typical Communist way of attacking the economic problem, instead of leveling, or rather equalizing, only opportunities.
The theories upon which the Single Tax is based have been contradicted by the development of industrial society. Instead of the so-called "pressure on land" increasing, it is decreasing. According to the Ricardian law of rent, the basis of Single Tax, the best land is occupied first, and then recourse must be had to poorer and poorer land. The margin between the first and latest comer keeps growing until everything produced becomes rent, except what the poorest land produces.
In other words, while Malthus claimed that there is not enough land to go around, Ricardo, and George after him, said that there is not enough good land to go around. This has been contradicted by three facts:
- The discovery of new forms of wealth under the surface of the earth, in poor land for which there was formerly no use on account of ignorance of their value; and new chemical methods, such as extracting nitrogen from the air or oil from coal.
- New methods of using the soil for agricultural production. Shortly before Malthus, Goldsmith wrote of the good old days in England "when each rood maintained its man." Modern intensive farming is able to raise, on one acre of land, enough food for fifty men. Even as this is written, news comes from central California of at new record in potato raising: twenty tons gathered from a single acre! Furthermore, the gardener of today is in a position to make his own soil and climate.
- New methods of building permit a greater use of a given area in the cities. Immense hotels are built on two acres, housing two thousand people. And the wealthiest, who have the greatest choice of location, seek these crowded places. In the matter of office room, there are many more people to the acre - it may almost be said, to the square rod. One office building in New York has fifty stories above ground and three below the level of the street, and there is office room to accommodate fifteen thousand people. The pressure on land is really getting less rather than increasing.
In regard to the first question, that of liberty, the Single Tax, with all the good intentions of its sponsors, would yet fail short of accomplishing its purpose. It is a communistic scheme and will increase the sphere of government with its necessary increase in bureaucracy. Whether or not the Single Taxers propose it, the government would inevitably go into all sorts of ventures with the great amount of money accruing from the rent collected. Of course, it would all be intended for the benefit of the people, but officials everywhere have the bad habit of trying to get as much out of their jobs as possible, and of abusing the power that is given them.
Politicians are prone to seek opportunities for graft, and there would be no end of enterprises into which, they would lead the government.
The proposal to tax land up to its full rental value and to distribute the proceeds among the people is only an empty promise. The people of the United States now pay the stupendous sum of eleven billion dollars a year for taxes for the support of national, state, and municipal government, and this sum is constantly growing. If paying taxes could make a people well off, all the nations of the earth would have been rich long ago.
The progress of land tenure has been one of increasing security in possession, from serfdom through tenancy to individual possession. Land nationalization would be a distinct step of retrogression; and the putting up at public auction of the land by the State, which the Single Tax scheme would practically come to, would in all probability increase insecurity of possession.
Exploitation could not be abolished through the operation of the Single Tax. Some Single Taxers are coming to realize the importance of the money monopoly in modern life. Henry George defended interest, which is coming to be recognized as the most vicious form of exploitation.
The power of capital to support its owner without work would still exist, and that all-important economic instrument - credit - would still be in the hands of the privileged financier. The control of modern economic life is in the hands of those who have control of credit of capital.
Just how badly the land-owning farmers are exploited through the money monopoly was shown in 1920, when over 600,000 farmers went bankrupt. What was the reason for that disaster ? The banks in the agricultural regions were directed by the Federal Reserve Board to restrict loans to farmers. The result was that they could not market their goods. The Single Tax would not have changed this situation an iota. What the farmer needs is easy and cheap credit, not a change from rent to a tax. And what he further needs is freedom from tariff on the things he uses.
Individualist (sometimes called Philosophical) Anarchism is, aside from Mutualism, the only movement for sociological reconstruction based on the principle of equal liberty. Individualist Anarchists, however, lay no claim to having a positive or constructive philosophy. Their affirmation of the sovereignty of the individual implies merely a protest against authority as such. Benjamin R. Tucker, the chief expounder of the doctrine in America, has stated the case in these words:
“Anarchy has no side that is affirmative in the sense of constructive. Neither as Anarchists nor - what is practically the same thing - as individual sovereigns have we any constructive work to do, though as progressive beings we have plenty of it.”
While Anarchists have demanded the destruction of the four great monopolies (money, land, tariff, and patent and copyright), which object Mutualists share with them, their program for the accomplishment of that purpose has been the abolition of the State. That consummation is still far off; and Mutualists, "as progressive beings", believe in working toward the gradual elimination of the four great monopolies through a peaceful substitution of voluntary institutions for compulsory ones as an ever and ever greater measure of freedom is secured.
Communist-Anarchism (or Anarchist-Communism) is an attempt to blend authority and freedom. Its adherents believe, with the Socialists, that all capital should be owned and operated by the people in their collective capacity, with the exception that, instead of a large centralized State, they want this done by smaller groups; and they therefore deny liberty in production and exchange.
They believe, also, with the Socialists, that wealth is not produced by the individual, and that therefore the individual can lay no claim to any of it as his separate property.
If they would permit non-participation on the part of dissenters, and allow the latter to secede, and take their property with them; or, if Communist-Anarchists would tolerate with themselves, among themselves, or around themselves, any sort of libertarian society and all of its non-invasive activities, Mutualists could find little to complain of in such a program, since Mutualism is not opposed to the exercise of any non-invasive efforts, be they communistic or otherwise; but not many of the Communist-Anarchists take that position, so that their denial of the liberty of the individual is diametrically opposed to the fundamental principles of Mutualism. The purpose of the Communist-Anarchists seems to be to secure equality at the expense of liberty.
Municipal ownership, not being a complete system of social reform, cannot be here treated as worthy of criticism as a movement. Inasmuch as it is, in practice, merely a preliminary step toward the realization of Socialism, it is open to all the criticisms that have been devoted to those phases of Socialism which it represents.