Kevin Carson replied with this interesting comment:
My reply was as follows:
Re the mutuals of the nineteenth century, it might be more accurate to say workers were generous *within their means*.
Under a genuine (i.e. non-capitalist) free market, in which the state did not intervene on behalf of capitalists and landlords to enforce artificial scarcity of land, and consequently labor received its full product as a wage, polarities of wealth would likely be far less. In such an environment, the working class would have the resources to fully fund mutual aid arrangements, cooperative insurance, and the like.
To paraphrase some Georgist-leaning libertarian on this side of the pond, the policy should not be welfare or charity, but justice. When workers receive their full product as a wage, they won’t need charity. And you won’t see society pages clogged with Rotary club yahoos wearing color-coded ribbons, breaking ground, handing over giant checks, kissing pigs for diabetes, etc., who in any just world would have their heads in a guillotine.
My attitude toward upper class philanthropy was expressed by a 19th century mill-worker, quoted by E.P. Thompson, whose attention was drawn to a chapel built by the “generous” mill-owner for his workers. The worker pointed out that the chapel was paid for by his own sweat, and added “I wish it might drop into Hell, and Mr ____ with it."
Though I saw some dancing around the edge after that, no replies have yet been able to challenge the above. Stunned into silence or singing "lalala" with their fingers in their ears? I have no idea, but I do think those at LC should really look at this, their attitudes to the past and then look at the State. Really look hard, I mean.