What is mutualism? In the broadest terms, I’d define mutualism as that branch of market anarchism basing itself around an occupancy-and-use conception of property.
However, to more fully understand mutualism, one must look at its essence. The theoretical starting point of mutualism is the leveling of capitalist notions of property and the rebuilding of property theory according to the three defining principles of the left: liberty, equality, solidarity.
From this can be derived the principle of occupancy and use. In occupancy and use, one may keep land that they are using, but not forcibly stop others from occupying unused land, nor claim sole ownership of vast tracts of land. Keep what you need for yourself, but do not take from others-laissez-faire taken to its logical conclusion.
From that, it can be deduced that a single boss cannot own a factory which his workers are using, thus leading to support of worker’s self-management. Same with a supermarket, a large farm, or really any major enterprise. The mutualist is thus a staunch supporter of cooperatives, not to mention the radical unionism of organizations such as the IWW, as well as an enemy of that ultimate landlord, the state.
Though mutualism is socialist, it is also radically free market. Acknowledging the mutually beneficial nature of voluntary trade, as well as the dehumanizing and authoritarian effects of state centralization, the mutualist sees a truly free market for what it is- a profoundly liberating system that radically undermines all privilege for the wealthy.
Mutualism is a revolutionary vision for a free society, in which individual liberty and social equality compliment each other seamlessly and all can freely pursue their own hopes and dreams.
What cause could be worthier?