Support C4SS with Early English Mutualists’ “Toward Natural Society”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Early English Mutualists’ “Toward Natural Society” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Early English Mutualists’ “Toward Natural Society“.


$1.50 for the first copy. $0.75 for every additional copy.

This “Appendix” was printed with The Inherent Evils of All State Govern­ments Demonstrated, a special reprint of the Vindication of Natural Society (ACS # 6) circulated by early English mutualists in 1858.

“The law of progress in human society is identical with the tend­en­c­y to individualize. . . . The doctrine of the sovereignty of the individual, the most ultra-radical doctrine in theory and final purpose ever promulgated in the world, teaches, in principle, the pro­spect­ive dis­rupt­ion of every existing institution, utterly at variance with all that has hitherto been prac­tis­ed in the world. . . . State Govern­ments will never give real freedom to their subjects. When a people know what real liberty is, and what it is worth, they will assume it as their natural inheritance; and will resist any at­tempt to rob them of it, under the pretence of ‘gov­ern­ing’ them, as they would resist a band of robbers.”

“But not until the property-relations of man shall be placed on a foundation of Equity, can the sovereignty of the indivi­du­al be realized; nor can any other of the human relations be just or har­mon­ic. . . . With the full recognition of the equality and reciproc­ity of all rights and duties; with the use of land, and all oth­er nat­ur­al wealth, easi­ly attainable; with a circulating medi­um of exchange, expanding and contracting as wealth, or bona fide credit was created or consumed; and with the moral belief current in society that the prices of all com­mod­ities or services should be regulated by their absolute cost — the vicious system of profitism or profit-mongering, which now prevails, would cease; because those who now are compelled to resort to this nefarious mode of getting a living, would have other and more legitimate sources of live­lihood. . . . Equitable Society de­m­ands nothing impossible of humanity. . . . But words, words alone, will no longer suf­fice. And the remedy is, — homes for the homeless — food for the starving — Equity for all!”

Years after publishing the “Vindication” anonymously, after his author­ship of the essay was discovered, Burke claimed publicly that the anarchistic argument of the “Vindication” was really intended as satire, and a reductio ad absurdum of deistic defenses of “Natural Religion.” However, many early mutualists and anarchists were impressed by the argument and took it seriously; in the “Preface” to their reprint, the anonymous editors, English followers of the American individualist anarchist Josiah Warren, argued that Burke’s argument for philosophical anarchism was both convincing and sincerely made, and his attempts to disown it later should be rejected. While defending the philosophical Anarchism of the “Vindication,” they argued that it was incomplete, con­demn­ing “Arti­fic­ial Society” without offering guidance on how it might be ended, or “Nat­ur­al Society” brought into practical being. They added this “Appendix,” to “briefly [enunciate] the principles through which ‘Natural Society’ may be gradually realized,” draw­ing on the work of the American individualists Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. The result was a fascinating commentary and document of early English mutualism.

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