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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

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sciabarra et al. on Anarchism and Dualism

A long and fascinating series of exchanges on Chris Sciabarra's argument in Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism that Murray Rothbard's anarchism assumed a dualism between state and market. Geoffrey Allan Plauche, in response, attempted a non-dualistic basis for anarchism at Libertas, based on 1) Alfred Cuzan's argument that we're still in anarchy; and 2) Nock's distinction between government and the State ("Is Anarchism Inherently Dualistic?"). Sciabarra rejoined with "Anarchism and Dualism," in which he pointed out that he had as many problems with minarchy as with anarchy, and held out some hope for a non-dualistic anarchism. Then William J. Beck jumped into the fracas with "Dualing." Beck took issue with Plauche's statement that "[a] government that must rely solely on voluntary contributions... would be one very unlike anything with which we are familiar," and responded that it would be very like something we're currently familiar with: business. In "Anarchy and Dualism Revisited," Plauche took Beck to task for making the capitalist business enterprise a paradigm for all forms of voluntary association:

I think the assumption that in a libertarian-anarchist society all previously "governmental" functions would be run like businesses is too hasty and most probably mistaken. It is conceivable that there might be many services that might be better provided or only provided by non-business institutions, perhaps in some cases instead of but also quite possibly alongside businesses. Take, for instance, unemployment "insurance." Now, strictly speaking unemployment is not insurable.... However, institutions like the family, the extended family, fraternal societies (like America had in the 19th century; see here), clubs, churches, neighborhood communities, and so forth, could provide support for the temporarily and unexpectedly unemployed while having the close proximity and knowledge of time and place necessary to prevent or minimize abuse of the service. Similarly for other services. Even security production need not be exclusively provided by businesses. In no way, however, do we need the State to provide all of these services and, indeed, it invariably does a poor job of providing them (not to speak of the other accompanying negatives).

Finally, Sciabarra brings the discussion full circle with a couple more posts: "Anarchy and Dualism, Revisited," in which he reiterates his earlier acknowledgement that from the Rothbardian perspective it is the state whose coercion creates a dualism vis-a-vis the rest of society; and "Dualism: a Difference with Distinction," in which he defends his use of the term "dualism" against Beck's critique that it was a mere "difference."

Whew! Just writing this half-assed summary of the whole thing wore me out. But it's all well worth reading for yourself. If you like abstruse, involved philosophical debate, then (as Lincoln said) this is the sort of thing you'll like.


Anonymous Sam L said...

I hope you're not suggesting that community organizations like churches don't use coercion. They institute strick regulations on social behavior to make sure members who may ask for services are truly dedicated, and they furthermore discriminate and create a social prejudice against those who do not conform. Which is not to suggest that having businesses fulfilling that function is perferable, it certainly isn't, but there is no perfect solution. Community organizations demand conformity for their services in the same way that businesses demand money and government demands taxes, etc..

September 02, 2005 8:02 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Witholding what's rightfully yours, or setting conditions on gifts that are rightfully yours to give or withhold, as you see fit, is not coercion. Nobody is born with a right to be fed by somebody else's labor (excepting a parent's obligation to support their child).

Anyway, "community organizations" in a free market are likely to include the kinds of mutual aid institutions described by Kropotkin and E.P. Thompson, not just the "civil society" charities that the neocons like to talk about today. When labor keeps its full product without it being bled off to support landlords and usurers, not only will the threshold of subsistence be a lot lower, but working people will have a lot more resources to devote to sick benefit and unemployment societies and other mutuals.

September 02, 2005 10:31 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

I can give a couple of historical examples here. In ordinary circumstances, those community organisations don't fence people in, although they can deteriorate to that through human fallibility. Benjamin Disraeli's father found the demands of the local Jewish community too great - so he converted. The true constraint came from the internalised value system of Judaism (also called law), but of course the Disraelis kept much of that. Also, the Papal States around Avignon couldn't be statist and in fact offered a way out of France for people nearby. On the other hand, in Italy the Papal States could and did function as a (comparatively benign, for what that's worth) state, after fencing people in. And Israel is Jewish yet oppressive...

September 02, 2005 10:20 PM  
Blogger Josf said...


Thanks for those information sources. Before I dive in; my inclination is to open this channel in the hope of finding some dynamic dialogue. Should I be looking elsewhere?

My latest epiphany (thick heads have these too) concerns the convergence of few significant observations. A: Honest workers naturally perceive the world in one way. B: Criminals perceive the world in another way. C: The two viewpoints collide and form a dualistic common popular perspective. D: The synthesized perspective is particularly nonfunctional because people distort the conception of time.

I am eager to read the links posted above because the word DUALISTIC suggests to me a reinforcement of my latest observation. Distorted perspectives of time lead to confusion, falsehood, and a disarmed citizenry. People perceive the future as a choice between two possible uncertain paths. The synthesized perspective is grey rather than black and white. Instead of a right and a wrong the popularized notion becomes a choice between left and right. On the left the choice favors social combinations based upon irresponsible collective authority. On the right the choice favors social combinations based upon irresponsible individual authority. The left and the right perspectives pretend to legitimize irresponsibility because these perspectives fail to account for the nature of time.

Social relationships are not static. People constantly adjust and readjust their viewpoints, value judgments, and relationships despite all attempts to seize this dynamic process into a legal, documented, rigid, and frozen form. The effort pretending to change a cooperative dynamic human relationship, or structure, into a static enforceable state, is perhaps, both willfully destructive and deceptively functional.

Remember Hegel; thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis. Control of future events rejects an adherence to the past, to possessions, to institutions, contracts, constitutions, and all forms of bindings to the past. Cooperative control must rely upon honor, honesty, accountability, adaptability, and a clear understanding of the nature of time.

Those who have control, those who seize it, enforce it, and demand it rely upon the popular misconception of time. A confused popular perception creates a fearful populace. A fearful populace is a time bomb, a potentially destructive dynamic energy seeking leadership, begging for knowledge, venting frustration, and looking for blame, vengeance, restitution, and punishment.

The human construction of Crisis is a failure to accurately process information, in time, and the bread and butter, the means to the end, of the despot, the criminal. The criminal willfully confuses the dynamic of time. Such distortions arm the criminal. Simply and effectively the criminal uses a clear advantage in perception to fill the void of confusion with specific half truths and thereby the criminal gains a decisive advantage, a power; a synthesis of confusion.

A confused perception of the dynamic nature of time, a synthesized duality, perverts the maintenance of equity, justice, into punishment, an aggressive violent irresponsible accountability. Right and wrong are made into a necessary choice between the lesser of two evils. The concept of Liberty is confounded by the concept of government. People reject voluntary cooperation and embrace involuntary enforcement because the distorted perception of time appears to dictate the necessity. People reject negotiation in favor of aggressive violent compulsion. The enemy within is projected onto an otherwise neutral or even cooperative friend. The human social relationship is made into a combative one because no other option is realized in time.

My dissertation here intends to open a channel from a specific and basic foundation i.e. the perception of time. This angle of view continues to make more sense to me in my personal search and research of the available information. My guess is that the sources linked in this topic will further support the hypothesis concerning errors in perceiving the concept of time. My experience is such that dynamic dialogue on this topic, this angle of view, is as rare as a clear understanding of time and as rare as a common appreciation for the efforts required to maintain Liberty, equity, and simple justice.

Dynamic dialogue is necessary work required by honest people working cooperatively toward a more prosperous future. Knowledge is a process. Falsehood is a possession.

Thanks, again, Kevin. Your site is a source of light and a good reliable path, in my opinion, toward greater liberty. I’ll start reading when time permits.

September 03, 2005 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Roderick T. Long said...

My friend Phil Jacobson had a nice piece about a decade ago titled Three Voluntary Economies about the various forms enterprise might take in a libertarian anarchist society.

September 03, 2005 1:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


I think the organizations Sam L. was referring to were private charities. Surely Israel wouldn't qualify in that regard--especially since it's getting several billion $$ a year from U.S. taxpayers. Maybe that's what Bush means by distributing welfare money through "faith-based organizations."


Thanks for the kind comments. I'm having trouble getting a concrete understanding of how you see the role of time in the various issues you describe. You seem to be saying that both sides attempt to impose a rigid structure on what is a fluid process, and achieve a level of certainty that's not possible--is that it? I think the uncertainty of the time element is exacerbated by organizational size in both the public and private sectors, since those at the top are almost completely detached from day-to-day reality. The current cluster-fuck in New Orleans is some indication of that.


That's a good link. I haven't read Braudel yet (going to have to), but that reminds me of a discussion of a similar "three economies" classification he makes: the informal, subsistence/barter economy; the "market" (i.e. cash nexus) economy, as a bottom-up institution; and the "capitalist" economy (the network of state and protected/subsidized corporate organizations that came to dominate the world economy in the modern era).

September 04, 2005 9:40 AM  
Blogger Josf said...


Time is an irresistible process. Our conception of time is not. We can pretend or imagine that time is this or that; we can falsify reality. Where this misjudgment is most obvious, from my growing awareness of this fact, concerns the concept of possession. We imagine that ownership is a static concept free from any future liabilities.

Did you see the movie “Schindler’s List”? The people being forcibly exiled from German State Society held up pieces of paper demanding justice saying, in effect, “I own, and the proof is written down right here on this paper”.

The license, or documented evidence, pretends to freeze time. People embrace this deception because a frozen moment in time offers security and relief from fear, relief from the demand for vigilance. “Ahhh… I can rest now, my duty is done, my safety is secured, the document says so…”

It serves the ideal of defeating falsehood and improving clarity to perceive from different perspectives, to embrace new perceptions, to test them for validity, in the effort to dispel and confirm, to process and not possess; to hypothesis and not legalize.

The nature of error in perceiving time (a dynamic free flowing occurrence rather than a series of static events) is clearly, at least to me, obvious from many angles.

Take the evolution of language generally and more specifically consider the age old dialectical political division. Can it be noted that all political divisions have been founded upon two separate viewpoints i.e. Conservative and Liberal?

On which side of these founding perspectives does science favor? Which side clearly recognizes the nature of time? What is to be conserved from the conservative perspective? What is being liberated? It appears to me as being as simple as the difference between a noun and a verb.

What advantage is a conservative perspective for people having little or no power, little or no inclination to exert power, and a life dependent upon production, exchange, friendship, cooperation etc.? Do such people wish to conserve liberty and their ability to remain free to produce? Is it not a lie to embrace the notion that liberty can somehow be found, or conserved, on a piece of paper?

What advantage is a liberal perspective for people wanting no more from power than that which enables them to prosper?

Criminals understand the nature of time. Prosperity requires action. How much better is it to deceive prosperous people into a state of inaction (defenseless) when prosperity is being stolen?

Criminals understand the need for conflict. What better method of ensuring conflict than by the willful confusion of time? If the future can be propagandized as being a fearful unknown then people will tend to embrace the present, conserve it in their minds, posses it, spend it perhaps, and avoid seeing reality.

On the other hand; if people can see time as it is, inevitable, irresistible, then, they may adopt a strategy based upon hope. People may learn to embrace an ever changing present and seek the paths toward a more prosperous future. They may open their eyes and see liberty on the horizon. They may reject any falsehood impeding the process of taking the better path. They may reject possession in favor of equitable process.

September 04, 2005 12:54 PM  
Blogger Josf said...


I realize how important it is to understand how the process works. Ideas are not static possessions like these visible posts (words written and recorded on hard drives), instead, ideas are dynamic evolutions of thought, ever changing, a searching for validity, making sense, rejecting nonsense, finding agreement in fact, discarding contradiction, a becoming of truer perspective, a natural scientific development in human awareness striving for accurate discernment.

So, then, how is one, anyone, going to adjust an idea, steer the process, if not with a greater power of accurate discernment? Or more illustrative, to this angle of view, how can ignorant, false, stupid idiots manage to manipulate the process of gaining understanding?

I submit to you, if you have the time to read these words, that falsehood is the diet of the fearful, the bread and butter of the despot, and the capital of cowards. Falsehood sells because people refuse to face an unpleasantly perceived future reality while no such reality exists. Yet. People, including me, you, and almost every other person on the planet will decide to avoid the truth and in so doing - we choose falsehood. This chosen path is false. How can it be otherwise? The future is inevitable. Path A, path B, path C, or total uncertainty toward path D will be; it will be. If path A looks bad and path B, C, and D look worse, then, how attractive is a false path? Falsehood can become so attractive, that, it becomes, the idea evolves generally, into a belief embraced, not only by those buying the confidence scheme, but also, the process engulfs those selling it; selling a false rejection of the absolute necessity to process, and continue to process, accurately, all possible future possibilities, and to meet those probabilities with courage, determination, wisdom, clarity, and diligence. The attractive idea, the false perspective, purports to free us from time. The belief pretends to stop time, make the present real, too real, and reject the uncertain fearful future.

I am going to ramble on because, in my view, this process is needed in me, and the value of this process of adjusting ideas, communicated for evaluation, appears to be shared by you and your readers. This particular viewpoint concerning the concept of time and how a false concept of time builds a popular false concept of possession, in my view, supports clarity. The puzzle pieces appear to become a picture, a more accurate world view, and a more common sense. Each new piece I pick up, a written post here and there, a new book, a current event reported in the media, can now, from this time/possession viewpoint, fit better, look better, and become clearer. The new information makes sense within the whole perspective because the whole perspective is no longer a frozen picture like the complete puzzle pictured on the box, rather, the whole perspective is a process in time. Each new puzzle piece fits better into a dynamic process, when, the fitting is a becoming, better than when the fitting is a capturing, a freezing of a moment.

This post fits or not based upon the readers ability to use the words and process the ideas for validity in preparation for future events. Albert J. Nock’s book titled: The Disadvantages of Being Educated, another puzzle piece, fits or not into the readers process of being; Being Educated.
Length, a static measure, a physical property, 12 feet, one mile, 15 minutes worth of reading, a length of time required to process a given amount of words, in reading, may or may not offer a person insight in becoming educated. The process is not static; at the end of the length of time spent reading; the reader does not possess knowledge, rather, the reader is becoming educated, or not, subject to too many variables, and too much uncertainty worthy of earning the claim, the possession, of knowledge.

Can it be generally understood, as opposed to being generally realized, in time, that human action is not so much a dialectic conflict between conservative and liberal, left and right, socialist and capitalist, north and south, east and west, but instead, can people process, in time, an understanding, a becoming of life, as a negotiation, a cooperation, an accurate discernment, a verb, a conflict between righter and less right, true useful judging favoring less accurate falsehood?

September 05, 2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger Josf said...


I’ve been working my writing skills, or lack of skill, sharpening my blade so to speak, with a leather strap. My blade is dull, like a block of iron, it could use a whole lot of hammering, a lot of heating up, a course measure of manipulation to gain shape.

The leather strap I’ve been using is found at the Austrian Von Mises Forum. That site now rejects my submissions without comment. I receive no response to my letters asking for an explanation for the censure.

I hope you don’t mind my intrusion here as I try to sharpen my dull blade.

Thanks again.

September 05, 2005 12:55 PM  

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