equitable commerce

A Counsellor (Josiah Warren), “Modern Government and its True Mission” (1862)

The “United States” are no longer united —“The union” is broken — The great “American experiment” is checked and we have silently drifted under military despotism! and, instead of being a “self governing” people, every one’s person and property are at the mercy or discretion of five or six military commanders—no two of whom can reasonably be expected to have the same settled policy or any policy founded on any principle or generally understood and accepted basis; and “security of person and property” (the professed object of all governments) is annihilated, and confusion and violence already reign supreme in the land proclaimed to be the lead of the political world! […]

equitable commerce

Sidney H. Morse, “Liberty and Wealth” (1882)

“Well,” he said, the smile still lingering in the corners of his mouth, “we are in one sense, my friend, a poverty-stricken people. We haven’t any institutions to speak of. All we can boast are certain outgrowths of our needs, which, for the most part, have taken care of themselves. We have, perhaps, an unwritten law, or general understanding, though no one to my knowledge has tried to state it. We all seem to know it when we meet it, and, as yet, have had no dispute about it. It may be said in a general way, however, as a matter of observation, that we are believers in liberty, in justice, in equality, in fraternity, in peace, progress, and in a state of happiness here on earth for one and all. What we mean by all this defines itself as we go along. It is a practical, working belief, we have. When we find an idea won’t work, we don’t decide against it; we let it rest; perhaps, later on, it will work all right. I don’t know as there is much more to say.” […]

equitable commerce

A Documentary History of the Movement for Equitable Commerce

Equitable Commerce was the name given to Josiah Warren’s social system, which combined the principles of individual autonomy and “cost the limit of price.” Warren’s approach attracted a fairly substantial following at various times and was influential among anarchists. The works collected here are either writings by Warren and his associates, elaborating the system, or outside accounts of the movement. […]

equitable commerce

Josiah Warren, “Social Reform in America” (1862)

When, in 1827, I first conceived the principles of equity, and designed to illustrate them by the working of a family store, I talked incessantly for six weeks to my most sympathising friends in order to get them to appreciate the subject, and to assist me in working it out; but the whole of that labour was entirely thrown away; but as soon as I commenced the store single-handed—individually—it explained itself, and more than itself. The working of it—the facts of it—explained the principle of Equity as no words could; and I saw that it was the incompetency of language that had neutralised all my efforts at theorising. […]