The latest instalment in my tour round the libertarian/anarchist “classics” brings me to a work very appropriate for today’s messed up world.  In “Mutual Banking” American Individualist Anarchist William Batchelder Greene explains clearly what is wrong with the current banking system (now, just as much as then) and proposes a non-profit mutual bank as a solution.

Portrait of William Batchelder Greene
Portrait of William Batchelder Greene

The bankers, he says, are the new aristocracy who, with state collusion through banking licensing and legal tender laws can buy up all the assets of a country and leave its people bankrupt and destitute.  They control access to money and credit and can pick and choose those industrious would be entrepreneurs who will win and lose by their actions.

He presents, at one point, an interesting argument for the repudiation of our current national debt – no real value would be destroyed by so doing, just an unwinding of the legal values that gives the elite few such an upper hand over the rest of us left paying for that debt.  If ever there was a time for revolution against the bankers it seems to me to be now.

This will also be a good read/listen for those who do not understand the nature and inherent flexibility of money, such as a few of those at the “Speak Easy” last week.  Greene’s solution, he says, would be inflation free, low cost, circulating currency backed by real assets that does not allow for a parasite class of bankers (or, indeed politicians) to take control.  If you ever wanted to know how a credit union worked, this will also provide much background information.

I am often finding that ideas that I develop for today’s problems turn out to have been thought of many times before – Greene’s model here describes with uncanny accuracy my proposal for an Oxfordshire local currency network for example.  This is not history – it is living proof that the problems we are facing now have been at the forefront of men’s minds for decades and centuries – and that if we had only listened to the likes of Greene then we would be unlikely to be up this particular shit creek.  The Mutualists’ message is, if anything, more important today for us having comprehensively ignored it for over a century and the problems getting a hundred times worse in the meantime.

You can get the text I have used (the 1870 publication) at the Libertarian Labyrinth website (.pdf), and attached you will find a .zip file of all the chapter MP3s.



Mutual Banking: William Batchelder Greene