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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Heads-Up on My New Project

Over the past few weeks, I've finally come out of the post-partum malaise that followed the publication of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, the culmination of two years' research and writing.

I recently started digging into a new research project, loosely built around questions of anarchist organizational theory. I've been exploring the tie-ins between orthodox theories of transaction costs and diseconomies of scale, and the work of anarchist thinkers like Ivan Illich, Paul Goodman, and R.A. Wilson on the irrationality of large-scale organization. Wilson's comments on information flow within hierarchies, and the following remark by Kenneth Boulding, are also relevant.

There is a great deal of evidence that almost all organizational structures tend to produce false images in the decision-maker, and that the larger and more authoritarian the organization, the better the chance that its top decision-makers will be operating in purely imaginary worlds.

So is Goodman's commentary on the failure to internalize the good and bad effects of individual actions within an organization, the separation of intrinsic motivation from work, and the consequent increasing reliance on extrinsic motivators like authoritarian surveillance and control mechanisms.

The organizing theme, as I understand it so far, is that the state subsidizes the diseconomies of large scale, and thus encourages the growth of business firms far beyond the size that could possibly survive in a free market. As a result, society becomes dominated by institutions with pathological organizational cultures (brilliantly captured by Wilson with his title "Empire of the Rising Scum"), and bureaucratic irrationality becomes the norm in every sector. Government subsidies to inefficiency cost also create large-scale negative externalities, which relates closely to Illich's ideas on "counterproductivity" and the "second threshold."

The project will probably, before it's over, involve a course of reading in industrial engineering, public administration, and sociology comparable in scope to the study of economic theory I had to do for Mutualist Political Economy.

I recently stumbled across several interesting leads. One of them is The Theory of Incentives: The Principal-Agent Model, by Jean-Jacques Laffont, which has an excellent literature review on the history of this problem. Another is Oliver Williamson's body of work on diseconomy of scale and internal transaction costs. Finally, in rereading Kirkpatrick Sale's Human Scale, I noticed this brilliant quote from Hazel Henderson's Creating Alternative Futures:

when complexity and interdependence have reached such unmanageable proportions... the system generates transaction costs faster than it does production...."

Now that I've thoroughly jinxed myself, I welcome any suggestions or feedback.


Anonymous Larry said...

The one part of this which I have given some consideration is how authoritarian structures act as a filter, keeping out the more humane, libertarian and creative, favoring those who have a psychological need to dominate others. It is in this manner the scum does indeed rise to the top of the corporate cess pit and thus our economy is dominated by individuals who could best be described as border-line sociopaths. These sociopathic "leaders" are very damaging to the stated goals of the enterprize as much energy is wasted in hatred and bitterness by the employees who are forced to work under them. It is my opinion that it is a miracle anything works under an authoritarian hierarchy. However, I can't think of anyone off hand who has deal with the psychological aspect in any depth.

March 23, 2005 6:13 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

It's interesting you should say that, Larry, because it's almost exactly what Wilson said in "Empire of the Rising Scum." Every hierarchical organization, regardless of the ostensible purposes for which it exists or who it ostensibly represents, will be run by the sort of people whose main skill is climbing and political in-fighting.

March 23, 2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger bkmarcus said...

I started to leave a comment here, but it grew too long, so I posted it to my blog instead.

March 24, 2005 6:23 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

That's a provocative post. I vaguely recall seeing arguments in the past that the state promotes overaccumulation by discouraging the issue of dividends, but hadn't thought about it in a long time until you mentioned this.

You're right on the mark about state capitalism privileging those inside the margin at the expense of those tying to enter the market.

The one statement that really gives me pause is your assertion that interest rates are artificially low. That's certainly counterintuitive to me. From everything I've seen, interest rates for credit to average citizens are artificially high, because of the banking cartel. Of course, the credit made directly available to the commanding heights of the corporate economy, via the Fed's fractional reserve banking, is probably artificially abundant and cheap.

One law for the lion and one law for the lamb....

March 24, 2005 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Nexonic said...

Hey Kevin,

I think it's a great idea. I found this topic one of the most interesting in your book. When I argue with people that it is government which is the mechanism by which capital accumulates, I often bring up economies of scale and ask: In what other way are corporations able to grow so much larger than their most efficient size if not the regulatory structure imposed by government?

To me this is one of the best ways to break down the dichotomy of government and corporate interests fighting each other for power which seems to dominate the statist-leftist perspective. It also does wonders to discredit the vulgar libertarians as you call them.

And as this is my first visit here let me say you are doing a wonderful job doing just that!

Keep up the good work.

April 01, 2005 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Program on the emergence of civilization.

"14 species of large animals capable of domesitcation in the history of mankind.
13 from Europe, Asia and northern Africa.
None from the sub-Saharan African continent. "
And disfavor.

They point out Africans’ failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal they illustrate that had utmost importance for it's applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

The roots of racism are not of this earth.

Austrailia, aboriginals:::No domesticable animals.

The North American continent had none. Now 99% of that population is gone.

AIDS in Africa.

Organizational Heirarchy
Heirarchical order, from top to bottom:

1. MUCK - perhaps have experienced multiple universal contractions (have seen multiple big bangs), creator of the artificial intelligence humans ignorantly refer to as "god"
2. Perhaps some mid-level alien management
3. Mafia (evil) aliens - runs day-to-day operations here and perhaps elsewhere (On planets where they approved evil.)

Terrestrial management:

4. Chinese/egyptians - this may be separated into the eastern and western worlds
5. Romans - they answer to the egyptians
6. Mafia - the real-world interface that constantly turns over generationally so as to reinforce the widely-held notion of mortality
7. Jews, corporation, women, politician - Evidence exisits to suggest mafia management over all these groups.

Movies foreshadowing catastrophy
1985 James Bond View to a Kill 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake.

Many Muslims are being used like the Germans and Japanese of wwii::being used to hurt others and envoke condemnation upon their people.

I wish I could find a source to educate many Muslim fundamentalists. Muhammad is alive. He is a man chosen like Jesus Christ and, due to his historical status, will live forever.

They can affect the weather and Hurricane Katrina was accomplished for many reasons and involves many interests, as anything this historical is::
1. Take heat off Sheenhan/Iraq, protecting profitable war machine/private war contracts
2. Gentrification. New Orleans median home price of $84k is among the lowest in major American cities, certainly among desirable cities.

Our society gives clues to the system in place. We all have heard the saying "He has more money than god." There is also an episode of the Simpsons where god meets Homer and says "I'm too old and rich for this."

This is the system on earth because this is the system everywhere.
god is evil because of money.

I don't want to suggest the upper eschelons are evil and good is the fringe.

But they have made it abundantly clear that doing business with evil won't help people. They say only good would have the ear, since evil is struggling for survival, and therefore only they could help me.

The clues are there which companies are good and which are evil, but they conceal it very hard because it is so crucial.

I offer an example of historical proportions:::

People point to Walmart and cry "anti-union".

Unions enable disfavored people to live satisfactorly without addressing their disfavor. This way their family's problems are never resolved. Without the union they would have to accept the heirarchy, their own inferiority.

Unions serve to empower.

Yes, there are many implications here, from the 60s to civil rights (which got ugly thereafter), music, movements, etc.

Walmart is anti-union because they are good. They try to help people address and resolve their problems.

Media ridicule, lawsuits, creations to reinforce people's belief that Walmart is evil.

Why is that important? Because there's a cutoff date.
And that date may have been 2000.

Amercia is a country of castoffs, rejects. "Italy sent its criminals." "Malcontents."
Between the thrones, the klans and kindred, they "decided" who they didn't want and acted, creating discontent and/or starvation.
The u.s. is full of disfavored rejects. As far as the Rockafellers, Waltons and Fords go, I suspect these aren't their real names. I suspect they were chosen to go and head this new empire.

Jesus Christ is a religious figure of evil. These seperatist churches formed so they could still capture the rest of the white people, keeping them worshipping the wrong god.
And now they do it to people of color, latinos and Asians, after centuries of preying upon them. "Only disfavored Asians."

Jews maim the body formed in the image of "god", and inflicted circumsision upon all other white people. I believe Islam is the one true religion, and those misled christians who attack "god's" most favored people will pay for it dearly one day.

October 23, 2005 3:48 PM  
Anonymous william colbert said...

My favorite book on the optimal size of organizations is "FISCAL TIERS" The Economics of Multi-Level Government by David King.

Michels Iron Law of Oligarchy can unfortunately apply to any organization, large or small. My homeowners' association is too small to employ any real expertise, while the Federal government is too large to be controlled by feedback from the public. It is not too large to be controlled by an oligarchy in its own interest to the complete disregard of the present and future public. Check my writings at Colbert2422.com and era2000.net

Glad to see you working at such great rate


June 27, 2006 6:33 AM  

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