What is Mutualism?
by Clarence Lee Swartz
In collaboration with The Mutualist Associates (1927)
- The Individual and Society
- Mutualism Essentially Libertarian
- Trial by Jury
- Invasiveness and Futility of the Ballot
- Mutual Insurance
- Freedom Instead of Authority
- The Boycott a Non-invasive Measure
- Rights Not Natural or Inalienable
- Mutualism Not Meddlesome
In the relation of the individual to society, Mutualism offers to develop to the fullest possible degree that limited amount of reciprocity now subsisting between man and man. It is needless to say that this must always be done with the most careful consideration for the principle of equal liberty. Without perfect equality of liberty, reciprocity will not develop. Therefore, at every point, such liberty must be most jealously guarded.
But, as expressed in Mutualism, the idea of helpfulness, where helpfulness is wanted, is something that must appeal to all intelligent and rational persons. When they understand that the principle of liberty must always go hand in hand with mutual helpfulness, they, will not make the mistake of those who use the Golden Rule as their main guide; that is to say, they will not force their assistance upon those who do not ask for it or who do not desire it. The very essence of the meaning of mutuality is cooperation; it cannot be one-sided; and, in its application in conjunction with equal liberty, it must be two-sided. There can be no unwilling participant in Mutualism. There may be a desire to aid, but it must always be accompanied by a willingness to accept help, and to give in return something that is asked for or desired.
Thus it will be seen that aggression has no place in the theory of Mutualism. There must be just as much freedom to decline assistance as there is to offer it. No person or group of persons should be permitted to decide what is good for another person, or to force another to accept something that he doesn't want. Such coercion would be a violation of the principle of equal liberty as embodied in Mutualism. Therefore, it is clear that in respect to the relationship between Mutualism and liberty one is the hand-maiden of the other; they are inseparable. One must be measured by the other. One cannot exist without the other. It is doubtful if, without a full understanding of the fundamentals of liberty, one can have a true appreciation of the underlying idea of Mutualism. For, viewing the principle of equal liberty as an abstraction, Mutualism may be called its practicalization. With equal liberty as the foundation. Mutualism is the structure that is built upon it - the concrete, living, working system that supplies, in the fullest measure, every need of humanity. It can and does cover every human activity.
Here, then, is where Mutualism offers its solution. The Mutualist wants every person to have an equal right to do whatever he wills, at his own cost. That demand is too moderate for the man who says that his freedom is interfered with by a game of ball played on Sunday a mile or more away from his church or his home. It is too mild and too reasonable for him. He wants the freedom to do whatever he wills - at the other fellow's cost. He insists on doing on Sunday exactly what he wants to do, but also he insists that everyone who doesn't want to do what he wants to do be prevented from exercising the same liberty that he demands for himself.
Even prohibition has been saddled on the people in the name of freedom! The man who eats bread that contains more than three per cent of alcohol, and drinks tea, coffee, coca-cola and other highly sweetened beverages that are converted into alcohol in the bodily processes, says that it is a denial of his freedom for others to drink other beverages containing more than one-half of one per cent of alcohol. He doesn't prove such denial of freedom; he merely asserts it.
It is, therefore, one of the purposes of Mutualists, not only to awaken in the people the appreciation of and desire for freedom, but also to arouse in them a determination to abolish the legal restrictions now placed upon non-invasive human activities and to institute, through purely voluntary associations, such measures as will liberate all of us from the exactions of privilege and the power of concentrated capital.
Clearly enough, every product of a man's labor must be his own. As a corollary, any product of the labor of others, if it be given him or if he acquires it by exchanging the products of his own labor therefore is also a man's own. A man's claim to such a "right" cannot be disputed. But, in any discussion of rights, the question always arises: With just what rights is a human being born?
As a matter of elemental ethics, it can not be argued that a human being is born with any right that he is not powerful enough to assert and maintain, since those that precede him are in nowise bound to see that he obtains the means of subsistence. Purely as a matter of abstract right, it is no concern of theirs whether the newcomer survive or perish. In other words, the theory that the world owes everyman a living is a fallacy. Nevertheless, the will to live is such that a human being will fight to the limit for his existence if he is hindered or thwarted in his efforts to secure the satisfaction of his bodily needs.
This being so, the history of civilization has been merely a record of attempts to compromise between the old resident and the new arrival; between the strong and the weak. Vested rights and priority considerations have been forced to yield here and there until today the masses are freer from this domination of the classes than ever before. And so the formulation of the principle of equal liberty, together with its application and practicalization in the system of Mutualism, is simply an attempt to carry this compromise to its logical conclusion.
When the Magna Carta was wrested from King John, among the things which it granted was a trial by a jury of one's peers. The purpose of this provision was to take from the king and from the nobles the power to send a subject to prison for asserting the rights of the common man against the man of privilege.
While the origin of trial by jury seems to be historically hazy, it is a certainty that it came to be most thoroughly established by the Magna Carta; and at that time trial by jury was, fundamentally, in a purer and better form than it has been at any time since. The obvious implications of that great instrument were that, the jury was to judge independently and fearlessly everything involved in the charge, and especially its intrinsic justice, and give its decision thereupon; and this meant that the jury was to judge the law as well as the fact. Within a century of the time of the promulgation of that great instrument, its provisions had been so altered that courts were beginning to take away from juries the power to determine the justice of the laws.
In the seven hundred years that have passed since that charter was granted, lawmakers and judges have so modified trial by jury that today the right of a jury to judge the law is hardly recognized. It is interesting to note, however, that, in America, there has of late been a tendency to travel back toward the original purpose and scope of trials by jury. A case in point is that of Scarf Vs. United States (156 U.S. 61), in which the view of the majority of the court was that it is the duty of a jury in a criminal case to receive the law from the court and to apply it as laid down by the court, subject to the condition that in giving a general verdict the jury may incidentally determine both law and fact as compounded in the issues submitted to them in the particular case; and it was further held that the power to give a general verdict enables the jury to take its own view of the terms and the merits of the law involved.
If juries were properly chosen by lot, out of the whole population of a community, and not, as they are now, taken out of a certain limited panel, the jury would be representative of the sentiment of the community. With all the invasive laws that are now on the books, and with all those that the busybodies are adding from time to time, the ordinary citizen has need of a new Magna Carta, so that he may not be smothered in this maze of laws as the common man in King John's time was crushed by the privileges exercised by the rulers of that day. A return to the kind of jury employed in that period would partly do away with this maze, and invasive laws could be vetoed by the simple expedient of declining to enforce them. If any law is to be enforced, a jury must convict the alleged lawbreaker. If the jury is representative of the general sentiment of the community (and it will be, if fairly drawn by lot from the whole community), there will be, on an average, the same proportion of men on the jury who are opposed to the invasive law as there is among the people in general.
Let it be supposed, for instance, that one-twelfth of the community is opposed to a certain invasive law. This is only a small portion of the majority necessary to repeal it by voting, and at the ballot box that one-twelfth would be powerless. But that one man, in every twelve, who is opposed to that law can, if on a jury, prevent a verdict from being rendered. Thus, if only nine per cent of the community are opposed to a bad law, they can prevent its enforcement. This is less than one-fifth of the number necessary to repeal a law through the medium of an election.
Laws which are for the punishment of those who are clearly invaders, and which practically the whole community wishes to have enforced, would not, under a condition of equal freedom and a system of Mutualism, occupy the attention of the courts as often as they do now, since, in the absence of exploitation by privilege, there would be much less poverty; and poverty, as the criminologists agree, is the chief cause of crime. With economic conditions such that every able-bodied man may be certain of life-sustaining employment, either as his own master or receiving the full product of his labor in the employ of someone, the main incentive for invasive actions would be lacking. Again, more efficient protection against the aggressively inclined, which would mean the prevention of crime rather than its detection and punishment after the act, would relieve the courts of a great deal of their work, and there would be a tendency toward prompter and swifter justice, and experience has shown that this in itself is a very effective crime preventive.
In addition to the foregoing, ostracism and the boycott may be used with good results in defence against criminals, especially against those whose depredations are of the lesser sort which are not of a nature to call for immediate and forcible restraint. Moreover, the application of such punishment could be swift and sure. In civil procedure, the increasing use of private arbitration courts, now already in use in several states, would tend to lighten the burden of the major courts, and under Mutualism they would be developed and utilized to the highest degree.
Government implies force; it implies coercion; it implies the exercise of authority, by some person or institution that has the power, over another person whether he admits such authority or not. Manifestly, such authority should not be exercised over a noninvasive person, unless the functions of the State, as outlined in Chapter I as being inherent in its origin, are to be considered the just and rightful ones.
Right here lies the line of cleavage between the authoritarians (Socialists, Communists, Single Taxers, and all political parties) and the libertarians (Mutualists, Individualists, et al.). The former believe that whatever evils exist in the present system can be eradicated by the enactment of laws - in other words, by the use of physical force against all persons, whether assenting or dissenting. For it is true that the use of the ballot in the hands of a majority is just as much an exercise of physical force as is the use of machine guns in the hands of an army or of a bomb in the hands of a revolutionist. For of what use is the verdict of a majority unless it can be enforced? And how is such verdict going to be enforced by a government unless it is known that, in case of refusal to accept the verdict, the whole power of the army and navy can, if necessary, be brought to bear to secure that enforcement? The very threat of the use of the army and navy is just as much a use of physical force as is the actual firing of the guns and the release of the poison gas.
To those persons whose sense of justice does not revolt at the coercion of inoffensive individuals, the message of the libertarian carries no weight. Their eyes are blind to scenes of rapine and murder; their ears are deaf to pleadings for justice; their hearts are cold to appeals for fair-dealing; and, above all, their reasoning faculties are impotent in the face of arguments of expediency. But let all sentiment be laid aside, and it may still be shown that freedom pays. And it pays from whatever point of view it is regarded. It pays because it costs less in actual cash; it pays because it is simpler and more easily applied; it pays because it reduces the possibility of error to the lowest conceivable point; it pays because it is in lines with the process of evolution; and finally, and this is the greatest asset of all, it pays because it is productive of the largest degree of happiness.
The libertarian ideal is the only concept that paves the way for the operation of Mutualism. Perfect Mutualism could not exist under any form of authority; it would be thwarted and emasculated at every turn. Just as today every social and economic evil that serves to enslave humanity is the result of some form of governmental interference with freedom and with natural processes, so would the same or similar forces tend to nullify and counteract, to some extent, the advantages to be derived from the application of the principles of Mutualism. It is a plant that requires the fertile soil of liberty in which to make its unimpeded growth.
On the other hand, the merit of the system is that it may be inaugurated without any cataclysmic disturbance of the present regime. Indeed, for the most important phase of Mutualism - that of mutual banking - but one federal law, together with its counterpart in a number of states, would need to be repealed in order to pave the way for the realization of this great liberating idea. Again, in other directions, Mutualism may be initiated in spite of the untoward aspect of constituted authority. In mercantile and industrial lines, voluntary cooperation and other associative activities may be carried on without any change in present laws. In many instances, such operations would be facilitated by the removal of certain legal restrictions and obstacles, but the start can be made, once there are enough individuals so minded, without the abolition of a single provision.
As a matter of fact, there are now many voluntary mutualistic associations being conducted with fair success, whose activities would be immensely simplified and whose accomplishments would be greatly augmented if they could be relieved of the handicaps which the law now places upon them. It is one of the cardinal purposes of Mutualism to free them, as rapidly as possible, of these obstacles.
One of the most conspicuous examples of Mutualism in practice at present - under capitalism - is the mutual insurance company, of which many are in successful operation. Their success is undoubtedly due to the fact that they are not needlessly restricted by law; and the wonder is that they are not interfered with, since they are providing to their members insurance at cost, thus keeping a tidy sum in profits from the coffers of the regulation form of insurance company.
What these Mutual Insurance companies have done is conclusive proof of the efficacy of Mutualism in other departments of industry and commerce. If fire and life insurance, through mutual associations, can be supplied at cost, there is no reason why any other protection may not be supplied by the same means on like terms. Mutual insurance companies not only distribute fire losses among the insured, but they also actually prevent fires, since all properties insured are under the supervision of the company's inspector, whose business it is to see that in the first place the owners avail themselves of the best methods of fire prevention, and of the most efficient means of extinguishing fire, should it get started.
This insurance idea is capable of extension in a multitude of directions. As Lloyds (the great English insurance company), who insure every imaginable sort of risk, have amply demonstrated, there is practically no enterprise or venture that may not be covered by this great blanket of protection, the particular merit of which lies in the fact that it is wholly private and voluntary and not in any way operated or supported by the government. It is purely the result of the voluntarily associative effort of individuals.
As an instance of its operation, there may be cited the existence in England of an association that, for a consideration, inspects and passes judgment on the construction of buildings, so that any person, who may be building a house or buying one already built and who knows nothing about the technical factors involved, may obtain information and advice about a proposed building or one already constructed.
This service could conceivably be extended to the insurance of such persons against losses arising from defective or inadequate construction of any building inspected and passed upon by such an association. This would take the place of cumbersome, bureaucratic building ordinances, and would be more efficient and reliable, since the very existence of the association would depend upon service being rendered cheaply and dependably.
The title insurance company, as it exists in many parts of the United States, is a conspicuous example of the successful rendering of a like service. After a title to real estate has been perfected to its satisfaction, the company will insure the same for the approximate value of the property, and charge for this service proportionately according to the risk involved. In some states the government has adopted a system that attempts to obviate the necessity for that sort of insurance; but, instinctively chary of anything the government undertakes, people have been reluctant to avail themselves of the opportunity. They know only too well how government usually bungles and mismanages the things it undertakes!
Although many such activities have been hampered and hedged with restrictions and regulations by the State, their growth shows what might be accomplished under freedom. If there were no state institutions that pretended to give service, voluntary associations would be formed to perform those functions as the need would arise. In fact, it has been the usurpation by the government of functions that should be purely the business of voluntary associations that has retarded development of commerce and industry in many lines.
The late Stephen Pearl Andrews, in his illuminating book, The Science of Society, gives an instance of a private corporation performing the government's work when the post-office department was demoralized by the destruction of a bridge. An express company (a private corporation) immediately restored its own service and for a whole week had to supply the mail service that the government was unable to provide, the postmaster-general himself being obliged to rely upon the express company for the delivery of his own mail. Such instances have multiplied to such an extent that it has become an axiom that what the government does is done with almost uniform inefficiency.
To do without the State does not at all terrify those who are familiar with pioneering conditions in new countries. In such localities and under such conditions, the government, locally, is likely to be extremely weak, due to the sparseness and poverty of the population. The framework of the institution is there, of course, and it functions as well as it can, levying taxes and pursuing its other invasive activities as best it may; but as a protector it is impotent; and, furthermore, in the purely economic field, where it levies taxes for roads and other public improvements, the pittance that it receives from the few and indigent taxpayers leaves little that may be devoted to providing the improvements that are absolutely necessary to the existence of the population.
And right here is one of the best evidences of the workability of the principle of voluntary association, which is one of the fundamentals of Mutualism. After being bled by the government for as much cash as can possibly be raised, and receiving practically nothing in return in service (road building and other improvements), the settlers are obliged to donate in labor many times the value of even what the state has forcibly taken from them, in order that they may have the necessary public improvements. If, therefore, after having been robbed by the State, they still are obliged to associate voluntarily for the purpose of satisfying their collective needs, think how much simpler it would be for them to so associate without the intermediation - unnecessary and worthless - of this same State!
Despite the fact that there is an elaborate police department in every urban community, for the support of which all property owners are taxed, the service rendered by the State is so inadequate that (as was briefly pointed out in an earlier chapter) many businesses are forced to provide their own police protection. Were they to associate in mutual organizations, they could provide themselves with insurance - at cost - against burglary and molestation, without paying the exorbitant rates that burglary insurance companies of the ordinary sort now charge.
In fact, this principle might be extended to the whole population, or to such a part of it as might wish to participate in this, through the organization of mutual protective associations, and thus make the present kind of inefficient and uncontrollable police force unnecessary. When taxpayers find that they can get real protection for just what it costs, they will be loath to support the preposterous and extravagant thing that now goes by that name.
A potent instrument for protection and defence, and one which is at once both libertarian and capable of mutualistic employment, is the boycott, so called because of the fact that it was first made use of (by the Land League in Ireland in 1880) against a landlord's agent by the name of Boycott.
First used by the weak in a contest with the strong, and more frequently since that time by labor organizations in controversies with employers, it has been attacked by the representatives of privilege as a reprehensible thing. It has been almost universally condemned by the courts, and denounced from the pulpit, and it is particularly distasteful to the police, who are always at a loss to know what to do to persons who refuse to use violence and who persist in going quietly about their own business. The lexicographers, too, are prone to anathematize it in their definitions, asserting that it is an instrument for persecution and oppression. And yet it is the only weapon that cannot be used invasively!
The reason for this is that the boycott is not an act; it is merely the refusal to act. Now, how can a refusal to act (in the absence of an express agreement or contract to the contrary) be construed as an invasion? To boycott a person is merely to let him alone; to refuse to trade with him; to refuse to have anything whatever to do with him. Now, before it can be maintained that a person can be wronged by such a refusal to associate with him, the following question must be answered: By what right can he demand such association? In other words, how can there be an assumption that there is any obligation so to associate? There is but one answer, and that is that there can be no such right, and no such assumption can be entertained. To assert the contrary is to make it necessary for the person boycotted to establish his right to the patronage, or the labor, or the society, as the case may be, of the boycotter. Let him do it if he can!
Now if a person may rightfully let another person alone, he may just as rightfully combine with others in his inaction. It is difficult to see how, if a person may go into his house, shut the doors, pull down the shades, and refuse to step off his premises, and still not invade the right of anybody, it becomes a crime when some of his friends agree to follow his example at the same time. So, logically, the so-called law of conspiracy cannot apply to acts that are not performed. There must be an overt act - which cannot come within the scope of a boycott - before it becomes more serious to act in concert with others than it is to act alone.
If a tradesman has no established right to the patronage of a client, or an employer has no contracted right to the labor of an employee, the tradesman has no greater right to the patronage of a thousand clients, and the employer has no greater right to the labor of a thousand employees. The courts are not sustained by right or common sense when they decide that a number of persons may not combine to do what they may properly do singly. Because, if it were true, it would prove too much. They would logically be bound to decide that it is as much murder for an army to shoot down a number of men as it is for a single gunman to shoot down one.
It has been the habit of the courts and other supporters of predatory wealth to denounce more severely the secondary and tertiary boycotts than the primary ones. This contention has no weight or justification in fact. Since it has been shown that the boycott is only abstention from action, and that it can never be invasive of anybody's rights merely to abstain from performing an act, it can make no difference whether that abstention is primary or quaternary. In practice, the secondary boycott is where one person is boycotted for not joining in the primary boycott. Now, precisely the same conditions exist in one case as in the other. If a person has a right to withhold his patronage or his labor from another for one reason, he has the same right so to conduct himself for any other reason - or even for no reason.
Therefore, to put the matter in concrete form, if John Doe does not like a certain grocer, he may withhold his patronage. He may also, with perfect propriety, ask his butcher not to patronize that certain grocer; if the butcher declines to join him in that boycott he may withdraw his patronage from the butcher. And, in order to make his boycott of the butcher effective, he may call upon his baker to assist him in boycotting the butcher; if the baker likewise proves unwilling to participate, he may boycott the baker and request his druggist to withdraw his patronage from the baker - which would be the tertiary boycott. And this course might be extended indefinitely.
The elements in each of these procedures are identical. In no case can any of those tradesmen mentioned establish any right to the patronage which has been taken away from him. Therefore, no wrong has been done him. He has been deprived of no-thing to which he has the slightest claim. Therefore, while he may correctly allege that he has been coerced; while he may rightfully assert that his business has been injured; and while he may be pardoned if he feels angry at his customer, he cannot justly charge that any of his rights have been invaded.
The courts, in discussing cases similar to the one cited above, make the point that the grievance, or whatever it may have been that induced the original individual to boycott his grocer, is entirely lost sight of in the subsequent secondary and tertiary boycotts, and that the persons involved in these latter boycotts have no concern with the original motive, and that therefore it is an injustice to force them to participate in the controversy. All of which may be true - except the injustice.
It must be reiterated that there can be no injustice when nothing has been done. And in not one phase of the case cited has any overt act been performed. In each and every instance of the pressure brought to bear, there was merely a declination to act - simply a letting alone. How silly it would be for one of those tradesmen to complain that it was unjust to let him alone! And yet that is precisely what he says, in effect, when he alleges that he has been done an injustice when a customer refuses - for no matter what reason - longer to purchase goods from him.
Another thing that the courts declare illegal about the boycott is the threat to withdraw patronage from a merchant or the threat to cease working for an employer. They forget, since it suits their purpose for the time, the axiom that a person has a right to threaten that which he has a right to execute. Since a refusal to buy or a refusal to work is in no sense an invasive act, it certainly cannot be invasive to threaten to refuse to buy or to threaten to refuse to work; and no amount of judicial sophism can make it so.
In this discussion of the boycott as a libertarian measure, stress has been laid upon its employment by labor against the employer, since refusal to work for any employer is invariably coupled with a refusal to purchase his products and with an effort to induce others to refuse to patronize him. But it is a game that two can play at; it is not wholly one-sided. Employers often resort to the same measures, in creating and maintaining a blacklist, which contains the names of employees who have struck work or who are otherwise undesirable; and various employers combine to use this list in order to coerce labor. In such instances nothing is heard from the courts concerning "conspiracy" or the secondary or tertiary boycott, although these latter are frequently used to compel recalcitrant employers to join in the blacklisting proceeding. And it should be added that no one has any more right to complain about the blacklist than about the boycott. They are practically identical and neither is violative of the principle of liberty. The courts, of course, should be consistent in their treatment of both. But that would be a little too much to expect of institutions that are, so often, biased in favor of privilege.
It is interesting to note in this connection that in England, where personal liberty is appraised more highly than in the United States, no legal decisions have been reported against the use of the boycott, while in this country there are two notorious and unsavory examples - Buck Stove Company vs. The American Federation of Labor, in which the officers of the federation were found guilty, in the District of Columbia courts, of violating an injunction against advertising the fact that the federation considered the stove company "unfair"; and the case of the Danbury hatters, wherein the United States Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the lower court that the hat company might collect damages from the individual members of the trades union that instituted and carried out the boycott against the company that refused to accede to the terms of the workmen. The hat company was permitted to attach the bank savings, personal property and real estate of the members of the union in satisfaction of its judgment. No account is available of the final success of this undertaking, but for sheer robbery nothing is comparable in the annals of modern court procedure.
As suggested earlier in this chapter, the boycott, and its companion, ostracism, may be utilized as punishments for crime, and also as crime-deterrents. Under certain circumstances, they may constitute a most drastic penalty. On account of the gregarious habits of human beings, to be put wholly beyond the pale of society would be more painful to many than to be incarcerated in a prison with others. To inflict such punishment has many advantages for the defensive organization that makes use of it. It is simple; it is easily and inexpensively applied; it involves, theoretically, none of the elements of physical force; and, above all, it is not in itself an invasive act. What more ideal method of correcting the erring tendencies and anti-social activities of our fellow-men can be conceived?
Since the boycott is purely voluntary association for noninvasive purposes, and since it is at once a distinctly libertarian weapon and the most perfect example of passive resistance, it is, when necessary, an eminent part of the Mutualistic program.
In discussions, such as this, in which ethics is mingled with politics, the word "rights" is often loosely and vaguely used. Fundamentally and elementally, of course, there is only one right - the right of might.
To talk about "natural" rights and " inalienable" rights is to talk about something that does not exist. To speak of natural rights implies that there is an unquestioned or an indisputable right of some kind that is inherent in the individual when he is born. If that were really true, then the right of might could not operate against it. In order that the right of might could not so operate, the inherent or natural or inalienable right would have to be of such a nature that no force could overcome it. Merely to state the case in that way is sufficient to show the nonsense of the notion that there can be anything superior to the right of might; unless there is some metaphysical meaning attached to those three adjectives that is not fathomable by the finite mind.
The real truth of the matter is that, since there is no right superior to that of might, all other rights, of whatever nature, exist only by sufferance; in other words, by contract or agreement. For certain considerations (such as the desire for peace and tranquility and other things that make for happiness) the strongest have agreed to yield, in certain fields, their prerogative; they have consented to forego the privileges which their strength assures them - and thereby there come into existence the elements of modern society.
It should be emphasized that the term "society," as used herein, refers to that social organism which, in its abstract sense, implies the union or sum of relations by which they individuals of any group are associated, and not to that political organization known as "government" or "state.'' The difference between the two is fundamental and vital, and, if not clearly distinguished in the mind of the student, serious confusion of thought will result. All political states and governments are founded on physical force, and, as explained in Chapter I, are necessarily aggressive and invasive in character. Considering their origin and functions, they must be of that nature in order to survive.
Society, on the other hand, has no such origin and has no such functions. Out of it may issue and from it may be adapted any organization that, in the course of evolution, may arise. Society, then, as thus defined, is constituted of myriads of compacts, both express and implied, which are supposed to enable all, regardless of individual strength, to live in peace and harmony, since all recognize, more or less clearly, that that is a necessary condition of happiness. And so Mutualists, since they are keenly aware of this fundamental condition, are concerned with what they consider to be the best adaptation of means to the end.
Accepting frankly the ethical concept outlined above, they hold that they have devised a social system that will conform in the best possible way to all the conditions of modern life, since it is based on equal freedom and reciprocity and the sovereignty of the individual over himself, his affairs, and the product of his labor, to be realized through individual initiative, free contract, and voluntary association.
Mutualism means that there shall be no coercion by society of any person who commits no antisocial act, and that all the collective affairs of society shall be conducted by voluntary associations, wherein payment shall be made for services rendered, and for nothing else.
In the realm of purely personal affairs, Mutualism likewise provides for perfect liberty between individuals, leaving them always free to associate themselves voluntarily in whatever way they may choose; or to remain isolated and apart, and even to refuse to participate in any associative activities, if they so elect, it being understood that no such person is to benefit from the associative efforts without payment therefore, unless, in the nature of things, there is no way to segregate the advantages accruing from the collective operations.
Society, under Mutualism, interferes in no way with the private affairs of men and women. Individuals are left free to enter into any contracts they may wish to make, and they are also free to associate without the formality of contracts, and for any purpose whatever, whether it be social, commercial, industrial, or sexual. As long as those acts are of a non-invasive nature, society has no concern with them whatever, and Mutualism will tolerate no interference with such acts.
Children, being the product of the bodies of their parents, are just as certainly the property of their parents as is the product of the latters' labor, and, under Mutualism, such property rights will be so recognized, until the children have reached the age when they are competent to contract for themselves and to decide whether they will accept the guardianship of their parents or that of some one else.
It should never be forgotten - what the Catholic Church has so clearly demonstrated - that the education of children is the most important factor in determining the course of future events. "As the twig is bent, so the tree will incline" is as true today as when it was written.
One of the principal things in the positive education of the child, then, is to make sure that it has an open mind. What is instilled into the child mind is not as important as that the mind be left open to receive when the time comes for it to make an intelligent choice. It is important that the child be left free to accept or reject what is offered to it; but it is still more important that it should have its powers of perception so developed that it may be able to choose with discrimination. That training must come from the parents - or their representatives; it must not be left to chance acquisition.