William Batchelder Greene (April 4, 1819–May 30, 1878) was a 19th century individualist anarchist, Unitarian minister, soldier and currency reformer in the United States. He was the son of Democratic journalist and Boston post-master Nathaniel Greene.
Greene graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1845. He was a pastor at a Unitarian church in Brookfield, Massachusetts before leaving to Europe. Greene later returned to serve in the American Civil War, but later resigned to continue his travels and writings.
Greene is best known for the works Mutual Banking, which proposed an interest-free banking system, and Transcendentalism, a critique of the New England philosophical school. In 1850 and 1851, he organized citizens of Brookfield, Warren and Ware, Massachusetts to petition the state's General Court for a charter to establish a mutual bank. "Upon all the petitions, the Committee on Banks and Banking, after hearing the arguments of the petitioners, reported simply, "Leave to withdraw!" (The Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium 1857). Similar attempts by the New England Labor Reform League in the 1870s met with similar results. Greene's mutualist banking ideas resembled those of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, as well as the "land banks" of the colonial period. He had an important influence on Benjamin Tucker, the editor of the anarchist journal Liberty.
According to James J. Martin, in Men Against the State, Greene did not become a "full-fledged anarchist" until the last decade of his life, but his writings show that he had by 1850 articulated a Christian mutualism, drawing heavily on the writings of Proudhon's sometimes-antagonist Pierre Leroux. (see Equality 1849, Mutual Banking 1850)
The existing organization of credit is the daughter of hard money, begotten upon it incestuously by that insufficiency of circulating medium which results from laws making specie the sole legal tender.The immediate consequences of confused credit are want of confidence, loss of time, commercial frauds, fruitless and repeated applications for payment, complicated with irregular and ruinous expanses. The ultimate consequences are compositions, bad debts, expensive accommodation-loans, law-suits, insolvency, bankruptcy, separation of classes, hostility, hunger, extravagance, distress, riots, civil war, and, finally, revolution. The natural consequences of mutual banking are, first of all, the creation of order, and the definitive establishment of due organization in the social body, and, ultimately, the cure of all the evils. which flow from the present incoherence and disruption in the relations of production and commerce. (The Radical Deficiency of the Existing Circulating Medium 1857).
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