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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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chapter Eight Draft

Another chapter draft for the Anarchist Organization Theory manuscript:

Chapter Eight: Managerialism, Irrationality and Authoritarianism in the Large Organization
Appendix 8A: Blaming Workers for the Results of Mismanagement

Although I've got two more chapters to finish in Part Three, and as fond as I am of some other chapters in it (especially Ch. 7 on the calculation problem and the forthcoming Ch. 9 on the agency problems of labor), I have to confess that this is probably my favorite. It's sort of the fulcrum of Part Three.

It's full of the sort of material that, seeing it confirmed in my daily life, first caused me develop an interest in organization theory and the idea that there were actual principles to explain the ass-brained behavior of my bosses at work and the academic bureaucrats at the university, back when I was going to school and working my first jobs. Then writing Mutualist Political Economy, I included a section in the "Crisis Tendencies" chapter on the systemic effects of state capitalism and the pathological organizational style it promoted, with a lot of stuff thrown in from R.A. Wilson, Ivan Illich and Paul Goodman. Sometime afterward, it all started to gel together and I decided to write another book.

If you're the sort of person who reads my org theory material (assuming you're reading it at all) in hopes of seeing some mockery directed at the pointy-haired bosses, this chapter's for you.

This chapter also incorporates most of the major blog material on contract feudalism, professionalism, and Fish! and Who Moved My Cheese?, by the way.


Anonymous Anon said...

I hope your book generates lots of sales. Since you're becoming the American Proudhon I think employers (masters?) will be a little reluctant to hire you in the future. :)

November 19, 2007 11:53 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, anon--although "American Proudhon" is surely stretching it by several orders of magnitude.

I don't think the HR Nazis have Googled me yet, or I would probably have got some hint of it. But it's probably only a matter of time until a web search becomes, unofficially, S.O.P. for job applicants.

Even if the HR Nazis are aware of my writing, the fact that I have so far refrained from the use of my employer's real name, and from actively promoting and publicizing their mismanagement in the local community, for the sake of keeping my job, may be sufficient deterrent. If loss of my job weren't a consideration, a very long and detailed circular email to the physicians with admitting privileges, the Chamber of Commerce and City Council, local press (including alternative press), advocacy groups of different kinds, etc. (not to mention drawing corporate HQ's attention to the embarrassment their mismanagement had caused the company), would be a very easy thing to carry off. And the phone calls, emails, and faxes would begin hitting them like a blitzkrieg within hours of my clicking the "send" button.

November 19, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger FSK said...

If loss of job is a concern, why don't you blog under a screen name instead of your real name?

After all, isn't an anonymous online identity as "legitimate" as your state-given slave name?

November 19, 2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


My name was fairly widely circulated online in connection with my book before I ever started blogging, and the blog is pretty closely tied in with my published writing. It might have been better to publish the book under a pseudonym in the first place, but by the time I realized that, I already had enough damning material online that I figured I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

If I ever do get Dooced, you can be sure I won't be one of those people who just quietly and meekly disappear in hopes of "just making it all go away." I'll raise lots of noise and lots of stink, and I guarantee that by the time I get done my former employers will have a higher (albeit more negative) profile in the community than they ever imagined possible.

November 19, 2007 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking of contract feudalism, I see that there is much discussion against "libertarians" on the current writers strike.

Seems that they have raised their usual voices in support of the bosses and against unions, causing the left and many liberals to (quite rightly) expose the stupidity of activity.

I'm sadly coming to the conclusion that "libertarian" is a lost word now in America. The right have dragged it through the mud so much now that it seems linked with pro-boss/anti-union diatribes. At least in the UK, it has not reached that stage yet.

I suppose that is what you get when corporations fund think-tanks...

An Anarchist FAQ

November 20, 2007 4:08 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


That's certainly the Rockwell-Mises party line. I have noticed, though, that such puff pieces get challenged pretty sharply in the comment threads by libertarians who *don't* see libertarianism as the ghost dance of the poor, put-upon employer, landlord, or CEO. And they have some dissidents in-house like Roderick Long (although they're on very precarious footing with at-will employment; they're about as quick to generate un-persons as the old Ayn Rand cult).

November 20, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger Scruggs said...

I recall an excellent post by Long on freedom of association as regards labor. He's a bit mischievous in it too.

November 20, 2007 3:25 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

Here's another recent example of those usual suspects missing the point of a criticism. People might want to add their own comments.

November 20, 2007 9:39 PM  
Blogger NiccoloA said...

Excellent chapter!

Its unfortunate how many people in business school really neglect to treat the issue of workers' compensation. They merely believe they serve the purpose to make their money at any cost to the worker. The problem is that this does not - usually - pan out.

Labour is like any other in put, it must be treated well to get the most efficient results. It must be treated with respect to uphold longevity in the production field.

Its something managers routinely overlook.

November 21, 2007 4:47 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


That's a good one. I also like the recent one where he quoted Spencer on the cultural atmosphere of wage labor so closely resembling the older atmosphere of the master-servant relationship: even though wage labor isn't a rights violation, at least in itself, it's highly undesirable from a thick libertarian standpoint.


Thanks for the heads up. I have no problem in principle with organ sales. But it's funny how every time the folks at Mises go for a populist tone of sympathy for the working man, it turns out to be something about how po' folks are being exploited by the state because it limits the terms on which they can sell themselves into slavery to David Rockefeller.


Thanks! Of course, I think management is aware on some level that the high turnover and apathy resulting from poor working conditions are more harmful to long-term profitability than high wages would be. But they're also aware that, while better pay and working conditions might actually be a net benefit to stockholders, they would have a zero-sum effect on management. Better to have an unproductive enterprise where it's easier to line your own pockets, especially when all the competing firms are equally bad and there's no danger of being driven out of business.

November 21, 2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read the Mises defence of selling organs -- I feel like I need a bath.

I know that I should be getting used to this after reading right-"libertarians" defending slave contracts, competitive monarchies, natural aristocracies, and other (worse!) horrors but it still gets to me that human beings can be so indifferent to the fate of others that they can spectulate about this sort of thing.

I'm guessing most people reading such things will rush straight back to the state -- the vision of a society where the poor are literally a resource for the rich, selling their organs and limbs to the wealthy, really is not appealling.

I suppose it shows the power of ideology.

I remember when Katrina happened and people talked about "letting the market" deal with it. Most of them meant (I hope) "voluntary action" (a few meant selling dear, of course) but to most people it would mean only saving people who can afford to pay the price. I know that is what I would conclude if I saw someone using that terminology. Sadly, the usual suspects reinforced that conclusion...

I'm not sure how presenting a vision of society where the poor are free to sell their organs, children and lifetime labour to the rich really benefits the cause of liberty. Equally, the attacks on unions does suggest a vision of the world where the workers really are servants of the few -- with the added bonus if you get fired you can sell your kidney to tide you over...

I do not understand the mentality at all. And I'm proud of that.

As for Long's Baisat/Tucker article, well, in theory even Rothbard accepted the abstrast strike to form unions and strike. It was just that his proposed legal and policing system would make such actions impossible, i.e. de facto illegal. Recognising the abstrast right to do something but advocating a regime which makes it impossible, or nearly so, to do it is not convincing. Particularly when you spend considerable time "proving" using said right is counterproductive...

Similarly, Tucker supported unions and argued that the root cause of trusts lay in capitalism -- get rid of capitalism, you get rid of trusts.

And I should note I guessed who said what quote...

An Anarchist FAQ

November 23, 2007 1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Brilliant work! I wish I had someting more constructive to say, and later, when I have more time, I might, but for now all I can say is...Brilliant!


I don't understand. Are you against organ sales on principle, or just in the context of a capitalist society? If the former, I don't see you can possibly defend your position in any reasonable manner without implying that people should not be able to control their own bodies, which brings up all sorts of epistomlogical and moral problems. If it is the latter, I am more sympathetic to your position, even though I still don't agree--pretty much for the same epistomlogical and ethical problems that a principled stand against organ sales faces, albeit to a lesser degree.

So, Ian, which is it?

Also, please explain what you mean about Rothbards legal and policing system making unions and strikes defacto illegal. That is not my understanding of Rothbard's legal system at all, hence your comment seems cranky and just outright strawmanish.


November 24, 2007 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, I'm sorry, I meant "Iain" not "Ian".

Iain, please accept my apologies!

November 24, 2007 2:32 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, David.


I share your general repugnance to the idea of selling organs as it would likely be done in the present society--IOW as Jeffrey Tucker and most others at Mises would probably envision it done in their ideal anarcho-capitalist society. But then I take the same view of of "marketizing" *most* activities, as they would be carried out in an idealized right-wing anarcho-capitalist society. The mainline anarcho-capitalist argument concerning the shape of a hypothetical "free market" society tends to stress that things are presently grossly distorted by state intervention, and that an anarcho-capitalist economy would be characterized by even *more* concentration and polarization of wealth, and *more* corporatization of almost everything. It's a lot like saying "This man is grossly deformed by his acromegaly; if we could only correct his hormonal imbalances, his forehead and jaw would be far bigger."

But as I said, I have no objection to market exchange of organs in principle. If it were done in a society with fairly evenly distributed wealth, in which differences in wealth reflected mainly differences in effort, it wouldn't have the same connotations of Stephen King's *The Running Man*, or that dystopian chapter in Piercy's *Woman on the Edge of Time*. And the presence of market incentives to provide organs would probably result in at least an order of magnitude increase in their supply, which would make them much more affordable for, say, a health cooperative of average means.

Just about every kind of "market reform" imaginable, as the Misoids envision it, carres about it a sort of Pacific Rim air of people renting stacked cages for sleeping space, and the like. But those kinds of market transactions, in themselves, would be as different as night from day if it were a "free market" in the sense you mention as voluntary interaction between equal producers.

On slavery contracts, in fairness, I should say that Block is an outlier at Mises. On this issue, at least, I believe the majority at Mises.Org follow Rothbard's line that slavery contracts are morally impermissible because moral agency is inalienable.

Re Rothbard on the potential illegality of strikes, I think his focus was almost entirely on the question of whether picketers had a right to occupy a public right of way, or whether the primary consideration in questions of access rights to a public right of way should go to those actually located along it (i.e., the employing enterprise). I agree that his quibbles on this come across as pretty authoritarian, much too reminiscent of Giuliani's practices of sweeping the public streets and sidewalks free of "vagrants." But he was quite explicit on the right to withhold labor, individually or in concert, as an absolute part of the right of free contract. And IMO mass picketing is a questionably useful tactic, so long as effective means exist of publicizing the strike. A couple of people with signs stationed beside the entry point of an employer announcing its workers were on strike would be sufficient to notify any customers or teamsters of its status, and that would involve absolutely no obstruction or inconvenience to anybody in any meaningful sense. As a matter of fact, I believe picketing is currently required under NLRB rules as a criterion for being considered on strike, which doesn't make much sense.

November 26, 2007 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Hi Kevin

I just wanted to leave a note of appreciation for your great blog. Youve really got me thinking about some assumptions I've made in the past (like unions are always bad, business always the victim). Thanks for this huge amount of information and thought.


November 27, 2007 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't understand. Are you against organ sales on principle, or just in the context of a capitalist society?"

I'm aiming for a world where such a possibility would not cross people's minds, i.e. a society where people are not driven by poverty to sell themselves (in part or in total) for any period of time.

"If the former, I don't see you can possibly defend your position in any reasonable manner without implying that people should not be able to control their own bodies, which brings up all sorts of epistomlogical and moral problems."

If people are able to control their own bodies, then capitalism is automatically immoral as its based on the majority selling that control to the property owner.

Personally, I have better things to do than ponder the whys and hows of people selling their organs. It is like considering slave contracts -- it shows a deeply worrying inhumanity which I try to avoid.

"Also, please explain what you mean about Rothbards legal and policing system making unions and strikes defacto illegal."

He made it clear that with total privatisation it would be impossible to organise pickets as the capitalist would own the streets and it would be unlikely for them to give their consent. As such, workers would find it impossible to convince strike breakers to respect the picket line and so the actual ability to strike would be pretty weakened, if not impossible. Also, the boss could simply fire any union member at will.

Yes, as I noted, workers could go on strike -- then get fired and stay at home looking for a new job. To be fair, though, he did suggest that strikers could put at advert in the paper instead of picketing...

"That is not my understanding of Rothbard's legal system at all, hence your comment seems cranky and just outright strawmanish."

As I noted, there would be an abstrast legal right to strike but no real means to make it effective. The capitalist would use their private cops to ensure that this was the case. As Rothbard himself noted, no boss would tolerate pickets on their property and the key problem was that the state did not enforce the wishes of the capitalist on this matter.

I would suggest looking at, say, the Homestead strike on such matters. There the union was broken by means of a private army which enforced the will of the bosses behind a wall especially constructed as part of the campaign against the workers having some say in their working live.

Needless to say, Rothbard showed his firm grasp of labour history by arguing that it was the 1930s pro-labour legislation which caused strikes!

An Anarchist FAQ

November 27, 2007 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On slavery contracts, in fairness, I should say that Block is an outlier at Mises. On this issue, at least, I believe the majority at Mises.Org follow Rothbard's line that slavery contracts are morally impermissible because moral agency is inalienable."

I would suggest that Block is the one being consistent while Rothbard could not handle the implications of his own ideology. After all, Rothbard was in favour of contracts which had non-performance clauses in them and required the return of monies and goods paid up-front.

That Rothbard was against such a contract being for 80 years than, say, 80 hours is just inconsistency on his part, as Block argues.

If you own yourself, you can sell yourself. And as organ selling is considered consistent with right-"libertarian" principles then why not sell the whole lot at once? Or is selling a whole body wrong but selling it bit by bit okay? Just like with labour services?

An Anarchist FAQ

November 27, 2007 7:43 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks very much, Ellen. That's the kind of reaction that keeps me doing this, whether it's market libertarians like you who rethink which parties are the victims and aggressors under statism, or libertarian socialists who begin to consider that it might be the statist elements rather than the market elements of the present system that result in the evils of corporate capitalism.


But Rothbard did consider it impermissible to compel specific performance, because that would be a form of slavery. And I'm pretty sure his standard of damages for non-performance would cover only the funds actually fronted by the employer for a period in which no work was performed. For it to cover 80 years would require an extremely hypothetical--and unlikely--case, in which a capitalist would willingly advance payment for many years of services, and thus assume all the risks involved in an unpredictable future. I don't think I've ever held a job in which any pay was advanced at all; my checks have always come after a processing period following the end of the period for which I was paid.

On the ownership of rights of way, that's one reason I prefer treating them as public or common property rather than "privatizing" them on the Rockwell-Mises model. And some Rothbardians like Roderick Long and Carlton Hobbs make a case for doing just that.

I think the examples of private armies under existing capitalism would be irrelevant under market anarchy (even the anarcho-cap variant), because in the long run it's only possible to hire such private forces out of the proceeds of prior exploitation. And without control of an extensive territorial state with taxing and regulatory power, and the ability to subsidize operating costs and enforce unequal exchange, the source of funds would dry up.

For that matter, I believe that one of the crisis tendencies under *existing* capitalism is the increased transaction costs of supervising labor and the relative cheapness and lack of risk involved in assymetric warfare *on the job*. (That's the central theme of my forthcoming draft chapter on the agency problems of labor.) So a fortiori, it would be even more costly to extract surplus value from labor under a regime without a state to underwrite the cost of doing so.

November 27, 2007 11:47 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

KC, it's actually very easy to run private armies without needing (much) proceeds from the past. We know, because it has been done. One way: use fiat currency, maybe with forward sales of future revenue. Another way: what the Celtic clan system used, whereby the household and young men who didn't yet have land were kept in line by patronage for getting land later, while those who already held land owed "rent" as military service and couldn't get out of it as any who tried would become targets for the rest.

Putting it together in the first place is a bit like the Hollywood producer trick of telling each star that all the others have already signed up. For instance, you start your private army not by starting with an enterprise and adding strength, but by starting in the private army business and going into a working partnership with someone who needs it. Pretty soon the asymmetry of strength leads to an imbalance and one side becomes dominant, which is what happened to the (real) feudal system. And, of course, the first private armies work in an environment like seedlings after a forest fire; they have to race to stay top, but they don't need much absolute strength to get started.

November 27, 2007 5:53 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

That's a dismaying possibility, PML. But wouldn't the exertion of control over a significant territory require some critical mass--especially if private firearm ownership and association between weapon owners was widespread, and especially if it required the degree of control to systematically impose the fiat money you mentioned? Unlike Blackwater, any such would-be private army would not be operating in a statist framework protecting it from competition from the armed populace, or exercising powers delegated by a territorial state. It would depend entirely on superior force of arms, and have absolutely no protection beyond that afforded beyond naked force of arms, against being cut to pieces by a universally armed population: which means, I would guess, that it would at best exercise temporary and uneasy control over concentrated populations, at considerable cost, and find more dispersed population areas ungovernable from the outset.

November 28, 2007 7:44 AM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

"But wouldn't the exertion of control over a significant territory require some critical mass--especially if private firearm ownership and association between weapon owners was widespread, and especially if it required the degree of control to systematically impose the fiat money you mentioned?"

That's why these things do not - historically - start with control of territory and/or resources. You start by raiding, hit and run, then slow down as you enter into a working arrangement whereby you don't take 100% of what you can on each hit - you become the regular controller of a territorial base after a process of growth.

"Unlike Blackwater, any such would-be private army would not be operating in a statist framework protecting it from competition from the armed populace... It would depend entirely on superior force of arms, and have absolutely no protection beyond that afforded beyond naked force of arms, against being cut to pieces by a universally armed population..."

Oh yes, it would; precisely the sort of protection the Turks had against the Byzantines, for instance. Hit and run; you only stick around after there isn't any basis for that sort of retaliation.

And, of course, it works the other way around, if you can get it established; what you are describing is pretty much the clan system, or how fencibles worked (see how the USA was fought to a standstill in Canada to give time for the regulars to deploy, the last time the fiery cross went through the land to raise the militia insurgency). The thing is, with that - while the people remain a basis of strength, i.e. do not get displaced by professionals - the private armies and the ad hoc arrangements of the people are one and the same. They may have leadership, as the squirearchy-led resistance of the Val d'Aoste did when the rest of Italy had communist partisans, or as the Russian reaction to a Tartar incursion showed in the lightly fictionalised account in Simplicius Simplicissimus, but that's how it works.

The thing is, you do not try for a control of any sort over any population; you make a shatterbelt, i.e. deny any control of it to anybody else, until the facts on the ground change, and meanwhile you have a structure for your few strongpoints from which you launch incursions. According to Colonel Lamouche's "Une Histoire de la Turquie", two Turkish brothers in the late middle ages sat down to plot and nut it out, to great effect; the older became Grand Vizier to the younger who became the first powerful Ottoman Sultan - the Ottomans being essentially one Turkish clan among others, but now turbocharged by the Ghazi ethos, essentially a way of bringing on board additional volunteers motivated by loot and religion.

Thinking in terms of invasions and forgetting infiltrations and incursions, of occupations and forgetting the making of shatterbelts - this is a post 18th century norm of military thinking that assumes that losers will accept the conventional result. When they don't and the winners aren't prepared for the long haul and resorting to the slow change methods - as now in Iraq or as the British in 18th century America - then you can't win. But that's a failure of thinking or a realisation that if you adopt those methods (a) someone else might slam you while you are busy and (b) you will become barbarous yourself. Today's USA has the failure of military thinking, but the 18th century British knew that they didn't want to pay the price of victory after Yorktown in 1781. However, they knew perfectly well that they could still achieve a victory, the same way they had in Ireland and in Scotland; it is a mistake to think that after 1781 there was no way Britain could win.

November 28, 2007 9:57 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

On that general theme, here is something showing the interplay between the civil power and the military power in the middle ages. The Italians tried to play off one lot of overlords against another to get what they wanted, only the overlords sorted it out among themselves.

November 29, 2007 4:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For it to cover 80 years would require an extremely hypothetical--and unlikely--case, in which a capitalist would willingly advance payment for many years of services, and thus assume all the risks involved in an unpredictable future."

Saying that it is probably going to be unlikely does not get to the heart of the issue, namely that the assumptions of right-wing "libertarianism" justifies the elimination of liberty. That is, it is utterly unconcerned about freedom within association.

The slave contract only brings the contradiction to the fore -- which is precisely why most right-"libertarians" illogically oppose it.

Look at these two examples. First, David Ellerman's wonderful satire on right-"libertarian" ideology:

The Libertarian Case for Slavery

and Walter Block's serious case for slavery:

Towards a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability

Where is the logical flaw in the argument? And why is Ellerman wrong, why is selling your freedom for 8 hours a day fundamentally any different than selling it for 80 years? Is freedom simply the right to pick masters or is it about the ability to govern yourself?

Which also gets at the heart of Rothbard's hatred of unions, which he complained forced the bosses to listen to their workers. Obviously the only right workers have is to obey or leave. Hardly libertarian...

Equally, most slaves today are debt slaves -- so it is an issue to be addressed. Crying "What do we want? Liberty! Why do we want it? So that the poor can sell themselves into slavery!" inspires slightly less than "So that the poor can sell parts of themselves to the rich"

"On the ownership of rights of way, that's one reason I prefer treating them as public or common property rather than 'privatizing' them on the Rockwell-Mises model. And some Rothbardians like Roderick Long and Carlton Hobbs make a case for doing just that."

Yes, I know your sensible position on this and am grateful for it. But you are coming from a different political tradition. Long and Hobbs comments are welcome, particularly as it gets to another contradiction at the heart of right-"libertarianism" -- namely, your liberty is dependent on how much property you have. No property, no liberty -- how libertarian is that?

"I think the examples of private armies under existing capitalism would be irrelevant under market anarchy (even the anarcho-cap variant), because in the long run it's only possible to hire such private forces out of the proceeds of prior exploitation."

Except, of course, in 19th century capitalism (which Rothbard considered as being close to his ideal), they were such bodies -- the Pinkerton association was bigger than the US Army!

And given that the existing distribution of property is generally assumed as the starting point of most "anarcho"-capitalist schemes, private armies are a possibility.

Particularly, as Rothbard's Marxist political strategy of seizing political office and repealling laws would, undoubtedly, start with labour laws:

"Unions will never meet on a 'fair playing field' and we will
never have a free economy until the Wagner and Norris-LaGuardia Acts are scrapped as a crucial part of the statism that began to grip this country in the New Deal, and has never been removed."


"The union problem in the United States boils down to two conditions in crying need of reform. One is the systematic violence used by striking unions. That can be remedied, on the local level, by instructing the cops to defend private property, including that of employers; and, on the federal level by repealing the infamous Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, which prohibits the federal courts from issuing injunctions against the
use of violence in labor disputes."


As in the 19th century, the state will be at hand to help the employers during the "transition" period of rule by the Libertarian Party...

Obviously, in time, the corporations will have to provide their own private cops -- just as Ford did (he even had his own secret police!).

Overall, given Rothbard's obvious hatred of unions I would say that his ideology was geared to ensuring that they would be unlikely to exist in his system -- not made illegal, of course, just simply extremely hard to exist or struggle.

An Anarchist FAQ

November 30, 2007 2:58 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Saying that it is probably going to be unlikely does not get to the heart of the issue, namely that the assumptions of right-wing "libertarianism" justifies the elimination of liberty. That is, it is utterly unconcerned about freedom within association.

Then you'd have a hard time explaining your rejection of "right-libertarians" like Spencer, Konkin, Friedman, Molinari and Dorinsthorpe, who all favored the replacement of the wage system, while inconsistently accepting "left-libertarians" like Lysander Spooner, who favored absentee landlordism.

Individualist anarchists aren't opposed to labor contracts either, so your criticism would apply equally to them. They may predict that under a regime of free credit and land, that wage labor would be the exception to the rule, but doesn't that just avoid your central issue; that any labor contract is analogous to a slave contract?

Where is the logical flaw in the argument? And why is Ellerman wrong, why is selling your freedom for 8 hours a day fundamentally any different than selling it for 80 years?

Because what you're selling is not yourself, it's the product of your labor on condition that the other party meet certain conditions. To the extent that one person walks off with someone else's property without fulfilling the previously agreed obligation, that person is required to restore it. This applies to employers as much as it does workers. Slavery requires a irrevocable renunciation of self-ownership. The difference between the two is qualitative, not simply quantitative and based on contract duration.

Block's argument proceeds from a different understanding of the basis of contract in general. That's why he can consistently make the argument for slavery and Rothbard can't.

Let's do a little thought experiment, shall we? Suppose my co-op/commune assigned me a certain project, and I just walked off with payment without fulfilling any contractual obligations. Wouldn't you say the co-op/commune is entitled to get it back? How is this any different?

Is freedom simply the right to pick masters or is it about the ability to govern yourself?

Wouldn't this criticism apply just as much to a democratic commune? After all, majority rule is still a form of rule. You may have the right to leave, but not to influence anything except by following a majority voting bloc. And unlike in a market economy, in that case there's only one monolithic boss (the commune) with total monopoly on all the means of production. Living in the area without belonging to the organization would be totally impractical, forcing any secession to also require a change of location.

While correcting criticizing aspects of the existing system, you fail to recognize that your own has just as much "soft" coercion and option constraint built into it. This is no less coercive than capitalism.

Yes, I know your sensible position on this and am grateful for it. But you are coming from a different political tradition. Long and Hobbs comments are welcome, particularly as it gets to another contradiction at the heart of right-"libertarianism"

This is a pretty weaselly way of dodging the issue. How does coming from a "different political tradition" matter here? Kevin was saying what he prefers, not what he's willing to allow. Same with Long and Hobbs.

Individualist anarchists don't prohibit privately owned roads anyway, so this little comment is a non sequitur.

Now what was that about avoiding the heart of the issue by focusing on probability instead?

For the record, and to blunt any possible ad hominems you might have cooking, I am an individualist anarchist. I'm also opposed to dishonesty on principle, which is why I get a little tired of this spiel. Here, as in your Anarcho-Communist FAQ, you present a picture of individualist anarchism that has been substantially distorted for polemical purposes, and a "discussion" of anarcho-capitalism that basically amounts to a useless rant stitched together with superficial selective quotation.

November 30, 2007 11:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


I don't think your reference to private armies in the 19th century contradicts my own observation quoted directly above it. Such private security forces were, obviously, funded from the proceeds of an exploitative economic system in which the state played a major role. The example is only relevant to what would happen in a market anarchy if you accept at face value the right-libertarian characterization of the 19th century as "largely laissez-faire," along with the Received Version of American history in which the Robber Barons emerged from a free market.

As Matthew says, whether any particular form of contractual arrangement is exploitative, or just another method of carrying on relations between equal producers, cannot be deduced from the form itself; it depends on the nature of the broader system into which it is incorporated.

I do believe that PML's historical examples have raised serious issues about how the transition to anarchy should be managed. The example of the Turkish incursion into the Byzantine Empire sounds an awful lot like Oppenheimer's historical speculations on how pastoral nomads imposed their rule on settled agricultural communities. The implication is that there must be an ordered devolution of power to local communities, resulting in a successor society with organized federal relations and mutual support between communities in order to prevent such "Mad Max" scenarios. In any case, those questions are enough to make me rethink whether a collapse of central power resulting from state capitalism's crisis tendencies, in itself, is enough to result in a stable panarchy in which no player can subsequently put Humpty Dumpty back together. The successor society, apparently, must be organized against Humpty Dumpty.

December 02, 2007 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You - or google - are no longer allowing an outside named posting.

I should have clarified just how a fiat currency does not require a great degree of control to systematically impose it. Fundamentally, it only requires some bases somewhere where fiat currency can be exchanged for goods and services, even if those are obtained non-constructively, e.g. as the proceeds of loot. Then it will be able to circulate in a wider area, even if that area isn't controlled. Think of US$ circulating in Liberia during its recent instability.


December 02, 2007 4:56 PM  
Anonymous quasibill said...

"Where is the logical flaw in the argument?"

The flaw is in the unexamined assumptions Rothbard built into contract enforcement. If you take Rothbard, as later developed by Hoppe (and apparently endorsed by an older Rothbard) and apply their starting points consistently, you arrive at the conclusion that coercion is not justified in the case of mere contract breaches.

If you acknowledge that you have no right to coerce another merely because he failed to keep his promise, all of the questions about inalienability and slavery contracts just fall away. At best, your only remedy against the person who reneges on his contract to be your slave is to get an economic boycott of him (if you can convince your peers that such is the moral outcome of the dispute).

Under such circumstances, I doubt such contracts would be very attractive to anyone in the first place.

December 04, 2007 7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin, what's your take on some of the historical market anarchist or quasi-market anarchist societies that people like Long and Friedman have put forth? I'm referring specifically to the Icelandic Commonwealth, Gaelic Ireland, the Northern California indians and, to a lesser extent, early Anglo-Saxon England.

I've also heard some conjecture from the Mises gang with regard to Somalia during the 90's, but . . . that's just embarrassing as hell, and does much to discredit their ideas. If the Somali example didn’t exist, anarcho-communists would have to invent it.

December 04, 2007 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you one thing about most of those societies that is fairly typical: they were artificially created, often at others' expense, and maintained a quasi-stability related to their interactions with outsiders, interactions that were far more the predatory stereotype of anarchism.

For instance the Icelandic "commonwealth" was built on the backs of a small Irish community it extirpated and with Irish slaves, then - like cold war Yugoslavia - held together in the face of the risk they faced from similar types back in Scandinavia. They had mostly fled from Scandinavia for various breaches of a similar code. So, it wasn't "a" society but a component of a larger Scandinavian whole, with a freight of original sin at earlier inhabitants' expense thrown in much like Plymouth Rock. At various times it pushed back the outside pressures, and ot others it succumbed. There was even a brief early 19th century resurgence under yet another adventurer from Scandinavia. The pattern is even clearer from studies in the Faeroes; DNA shows that the population is descended from male Norse and female Gaels, while both history and archaeology show what happened to the earlier settlers and why the new ones had to go there in the first place.

Ireland was much the same, with different players, only it didn't form one single defensive bloc to keep others out. Each single clan area worked in an anarchist way, held together by the threat of outside predation - "outside" here meaning, either from outside Ireland or from other groups within Ireland. There was the same pirate republic tendency, only the Vikings have more of a reputation for that sort of thing since they dominated during most of the historical record (but don't forget that Irish pirates were active in the early Dark Ages - see the story of how St. Patrick wound up in Ireland).

Early Anglo-Saxon England, as Iceland but with many groups the way Ireland had and leaving their part of Europe not so much from fear of reprisal as from economic necessity.

I cannot comment specifically on the Northern California Indians, but they may well have followed the usual clan pattern for sophisticated groups, which the others did, and which goes like this: there is an inner core aristocratic and privileged family, which elects a leader for life from among itself, in a stylised but not formal way; there is an outer group, which gets protection and patronage for clan resources from the inner group, mediated by the chief; and there is everyone else, who don't count as human but as equivalently a threat and fair game. Less sophisticated groups generally have a similar separation, only on generational lines - there are the elders, the rest of the tribe, and enemy/prey. (Pirenne found a weird interdependence and cycling as between settled oasis Arabs and nomads, but within tribes the pattern wasn't altered much until Islam.)

Clan systems are in fact highly structured, but not rigidly so. The flexibility is in the fact that people act "freely" but according to highly internalised value sets which are reinforced by self interest and a ground cover plant effect that happens when everyone else is doing it too (so people who don't have a group perish, by and large, although special exceptions like bards and tinkers lived in the cracks). If you break the rules, you have to flee - to Iceland, say.

You might be interested to see what the Scottish "Declaration of Independence", the Declaration of Arbroath, reveals about insiders attitudes to outsiders in the form of what the Scots had to say about the Picts. It's much like what happened to the Gaels of the Faeroes...

December 04, 2007 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drat this new system. That last comment was mine of course, P.M.Lawrence.

I should perhaps have added that control did not start as control over people via land, but over land via people. Think back to the idea that when it was meaningful to separate land, labour and capital (which they don't do now since there isn't any "land" left in the economic sense, all having been allocated and subsumed under "capital"), slavery made sense and landlordism didn't because free labour could always set up on its own. Well, early clan systems didn't give land ownership primacy, but instead you wound up with Mary, Queen of Scots (as opposed to her contemporary Elizabeth, Queen of England), Ius regni apud Scotos, or the King of the Goths who ruled in early dark ages Italy. Irish clans tended to control strong points with forts at the mouths of river systems, because of the way geography worked, and so extract resources from the river systems either because they came to them or by raiding an area nobody else conveniently could - but not by directly controlling their territory. Malays (i.e. muslim converts, as in "mesok melayu") in Sarawak did the same, only by converting they detached themselves from the previous tribal basis; however the tribes were still there, and if a tribesman wandered over to another river system he kept his loyalty to his group, not to the local territory; more specifically, his former masters pursued their claim to tax him according to who he was rather than where he was (see "Rajahs and Rebels" - which also describes how the European Rajahs managed their tax collecting expeditions against "rebels" and how they winkled out Malay control river system by river system. Perrin's "Giving up the Gun" describes how a clan raiding party called out by their landlord switched to a completely unrelated campaign when they heard that their clan chief was at war too - kinship and affinity took priority over territory. That book describes Scottish practices to compare and contrast with the subject of the book, contemporary parallel developments in Japan.

Feudalism, like Islam in the East Indies, provided a new structure, and though it may not seem so from a later perspective, all such things allow a new deal and are thereby liberating. See L. Sprague De Camp's study of "Conan the Barbarian" to see how the eponymous Conan was not actually a barbarian any more than the Goths were by the time they moved into the Roman Empire; by that time Conan may have thought he was a barbarian but he no longer lived and brethed tribal mores, instead being detribalised and somewhat cosmpolitan. In a tribal world he would have been a "broken man", cast out, sooner or later to die and trouble that world no more.

December 05, 2007 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding was that the first wave of settlers were were Norwegian vikings fleeing Harold Fairhair's attempt to impose the monarchy over the traditional clan structures still active in northern parts of the country. These people were not outcasts or rulebreakers from their own tribes, they were normal tribesmen fleeing the imposition of new rules.

You are correct about the presence of slavery, but not its extent. The number of slaves was always too small to fully account for the Gaelic mitochondrial DNA of Icelandic women. After the initial wave of Norwegians, subsequent settlers came from Norse settlements in Ireland, Scotland, and Mann, descending from an already mixed ancestry of Norse fathers and Gaelic mothers. This is further reinforced by the fact that the DNA more closely resembles that of Scottish Gaels from the Hebrides and Western Isles, whereas almost all the slaves were Irish.

The original Irish "community" on the island consisted of a small number of monks who left because they didn't want to live with heathens.

December 05, 2007 4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see I will need to flesh out some more detail.

Both sorts of outcasts had to leave Scandinavia. Yes, new attempts to co-opt the structure led to more casualties - but they were outlawed because of the breaches of the old but now co-opted structure, not because of any new structure.

I made no comment about the extent of slavery. For what it is worth, I have seen estimates that 1/4 were Irish slaves (according to the oral histories) and 1/2 according to DNA; one explanation offered for the discrepancy was that Irish DNA was favoured for survival in conditions of epidemic diseases rather than endemic diseases, and that was what they got in isolated conditions. The Irish slaves were drawn from a group that hadn't finished moving yet; if DNA resembles that of "Scottish Gaels from the Hebrides and Western Isles", well, those had to have been represented in Ireland because that was where that group had come from.

The added mixed ancestry from elsewhere is true, but of course it got mixed in the same way.

The Scandinavian norm had no problem with raiding outsiders; Vikings did the raid-or-trade thing according to which was more convenient.

The original Irish community consisted of a small group of monks and some others (did you think they followed the continental pattern and had celibacy, or that there were no lay brothers at all? although the conditions forbade many others). They "left because they didn't want to live with heathens", huh? That is completely inconsistent with mission activity - though not with persecution by people fleeing forcible conversion to the White Christ. I imagine some did flee into the interior, and some had both warning and boats and enough time to prepare for a voyage and a good sailing season to "leave" by sea... and I imagine some Palestinians did flee Israeli independence just to make trouble. But I strongly suspect the Scandinavian norm applied.

Now we have muddied the waters with quantitative stuff, I want to get back to the qualitative point: Norse settlers of Iceland had violated Scandinavian customary structures (no big deal for the tricked ones, but the leadership included the worst of the worst too), had destroyed earlier occupation forcibly and with little chance of survival for the displaced (big deal), and grew on the back of structures that did not provide for equity for all, i.e. slavery (big deal).

The thing is, on these points we are bringing out the inadequacy of the idea that a pure equitable anarchist structure prevailed. It needed its feet of clay and had them, and what is more that left a permanent precedent for later - a risk area.

By the way, I am P.M.Lawrence. Who are you?

December 05, 2007 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing is, on these points we are bringing out the inadequacy of the idea that a pure equitable anarchist structure prevailed.

No one making the case for Iceland has claimed that. Rather, they claim it provides an example of some of the political mechanisms of an equitable anarchy, that those mechanisms can work in stability, some of the arguments against them are wrong.

what is more that left a permanent precedent for later- a risk area.

I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying that early slavery influenced the later collapse during the Sturlung period?

By the way, I am P.M.Lawrence. Who are you?

Why does it matter?

December 05, 2007 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that the blog has stopped offering outsiders named access, there is much scope for confusion sorting out continuity (plus, it gives trolls safety in mumbers). I can't tell if the anonymous I just clarified things for is the same as the one who asked the question that started it all off. Am I clarifying things further or feeding a troll? It could go either way.

December 06, 2007 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drat this new system. That last comment was mine of course, P.M.Lawrence.

December 06, 2007 2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, addressing the other part of the comment.

General observations appeared to be what the original question was after. This isn't an argument between opposing sides; Iceland may or may not offer "an example of some of the political mechanisms of an equitable anarchy", but we can't tell precisely because - even though it was fairly isolated - it doesn't offer enough of a natural experiment. That's why it matters that it wasn't a pure equitable anarchist structure; it means we can't be sure that things were working on their own or that they were being carried by the other stuff - the feet of clay. Like Athenian freedom, if you like. We do have some grounds for thinking it gained internal cohesion precisely because it wasn't a society but a component - because it reacted to other components of Scandinavia. That is, we know Yugoslavia held together like that, and many other similar arrangements did, so we can't rule out a priori that Iceland didn't.

I'm not saying that early slavery influenced later collapse, just that Iceland didn't start as a just anarchist arrangement, and that with no internalised commitment to it on the part of individuals there would have been no more "natural" defenders for it than the Weimar Republic had when other kinds of threat arose. PML.

December 06, 2007 2:56 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


You made some excellent comments along the same lines, in much greater detail, on the LL2 list. If what you say is correct, Rothbard's distinction between compelling future performance, and compelling the payment of damages for fraud, is to a large extent artificial. It hinges on the unverifiable subjective state of mind of the borrower. If so, then Spooner's idea that a creditor is entitled only to assets in possession at the time of bankruptcy, and has no right to compel further compensation, seems to follow on the same grounds as Rothbard's rejection of specific performance.

And under such a regime, I think you're right that the main practical penalty for reneging on debts or other contracts would be the inability to get credit and the necessity for paying large security deposits for almost everything, as a result of poor reputation. As the story of "the boy who skipped out on his obs" in Russell's story demonstrates, the consequences of being a habitual deadbeat in such a society are not pretty.

I don't think you ever integrated all your discussions of these issues into a single blog post or article, but it would be a major contribution if you did.


PML already answered with a lot more material than I was ever aware of as to how Icelandic "anarchy" preyed on the outside world. Whether its governance structures, in and of themselves, could have functioned on a stable basis without outside predation or slavery, I don't know.

Even from my much smaller store of historical erudition, that seems to be a fairly common aspect of clan societies. The "borderer" clans that Joe Bageant writes about, of northern England and the Scottish Lowlands, were chosen to colonize Ireland in large part because they were so hungry and mean, and had a lifestyle based on the theft of anything that wasn't nailed down. As Bageant points out, these same clans settled a major part of the American hinterland, and their poor white Scotch-Irish descendants today are as hungry and mean as ever. A few prototypical Scotch-Irish clan here in NW Arkansas (the McGarrahs, Mounces and Shepherdsons) are notorious for the same kind of behavior stereotypically associated with Gypsies and Tinkers elsewhere.

For a wonderful fictional depiction of a clan society based on a lot of antropological reading, I recommend the Plains Nomads in Walter M. Miller's works, and their contemtuous attitude toward the "grass eaters" of settled communities.

Another aspect of Iceland (and Somalia) that PML didn't mention, but that Iain McKay has discussed in the past, is the fact that their clan structures involved various forms of communal land ownership that probably isn't exactly kosher among mainstream anarcho-caps. I believe in the rural areas of Somalia, for example, that the clain retains some sort of residual claim to land along the same lines as Israel under the Judges (reflected in the 7- and 50-year jubilees): what was being "bought" and "sold" was really just long-term leases, whose price took into account the fact that they would expire with the jubilee year.

Sorry about the change in the Blogger setup, BTW. I never received any notification that they changed the rules for commenting. I see there's an option for posting under a "nickname," though. Did that not work out?

December 06, 2007 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang on - it wasn't so much that 'Icelandic "anarchy" preyed on the outside world' - it was too remote - as that it preyed (to some degree) on Iceland just to get started and that it brought the continuation of past predation with it in the form of a thrall (slave) underclass or more precisely outside class, and in the form of true outlaw wolves among the driven out sheep. After that, it interacted with the rest of Scandinavia, in ways that gave society an outside threat to react against. You can take the wikipedia material on Eric the Red as a case history - manslayings, the insignificance of thralls, the lot.

I did some refreshing on the Age of the Sturlungs, which led me via the Icelandic Commonwealth to Roderick T. Long's The Decline and Fall of Private Law in Iceland. The story he outlines shows a fall through co-option and alteration, not overthrow, and - importantly - a continuing Scandinavian connection without a cultural norm to prioritise internal cohesion over outside help. There just isn't enough to decide between his theory of the fall and the idea that there was "too much" anarchism, allowing in outsiders. In fact there is no contradiction, and it raises the question of how to internalise defensive norms without either coercion or a system of exclusion that causes personal harm through marginalisation even if it isn't technically punitive.

BTW, although the borderers did include Scottish lowlanders, a lot of the lowlands weren't border country and didn't have that tradition. Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles were actually a largely depopulated shatterbelt created by the mechanisms I described before. After uniting the crowns the border reivers stopped being useful to James I and VI, so shipping them out was constructive for him. I find it odd that you didn't mention that "Carson" is also one of those families...

I have mentioned the land ownership customs thing before elsewhere, and although I obviously didn't spell it out enough here I did actually allude to it in "control did not start as control over people via land, but over land via people... early clan systems didn't give land ownership primacy... Irish clans tended to control strong points with forts... but not by directly controlling their territory".

The nickname thing doesn't give you anything you can't achieve just by signing a post anyway. The earlier system allowed a link to a web page. P.M.Lawrence

December 07, 2007 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the original anonymous poster who asked about historical examples. I'll sign my posts as "Bill," if that helps.


I'm aware that the Icelanders practiced slavery early on, and continued to raid the British Isles. I also know that any consistent anarchist society would have to reject such aggression, both internal and external. That said, I don't think any of the anarcho-capitalists making the case for these societies see them as perfect examples. Rather, they claim these illustrate some of the political mechanisms that could form components of an equitable anarchy, and thus disprove some of the arguments against them (assuming that those mechanics could function independently of the un-libertarian ones). I'm referring specifically to Icelandic court-subscription and private arbitration, the Irish jurisprudential system of legal development and arbitration (which at least appears to have operated independently of the clan polity), and the surety associations common to all of them.

The real question then, is whether or not these are genuinely anarchist institutions operating in an incomplete context. Going by the analysis that Roderick Long makes in "The Decline and Fall of Private Law in Iceland" and "Privatization, Viking Style: Model or Misfortune?," Iceland's failure was caused by its statist characteristics, while its more anarchistic aspects delayed that downfall for three centuries.

I don't see how the existence of some jointly-owned grazing land invalidates an example of market anarchy, whatever the stereotypical an-cap might say. As you've noted, Long and Hobbs have defended similar property arrangements. The hreppars Iain mentions were not communal: they were insurance agreements between individual households for the management of risk (fire, sickness etc). Both Rod Long and David Friedman were aware of the hreppars when they made these arguments. I think you'd agree that between people of relatively equal wealth, "insurance companies" would be virtually indistinguishable from mutual aid associations.

It's interesting to note that Iain McKay's research cites Jesse Byock's "Viking Age Iceland" to make its points, as Byock knows David Friedman and confirms that his thesis has foundation (while not actually agreeing with it himself). Earlier versions of the Anarchist FAQ didn't cite any sources pertaining to Iceland at all, and proceeded to invent facts that aren't found anywhere in the literature. It also omits the practice of slavery while simultaneously claiming early Iceland was an egalitarian communal society. You'd think someone looking to discredit the example would mention that, if he had actually done the research.

My question regarding Somalia was broader than just the clan system articulated by Michael van Notten. I'm talking about levels of violence, the warlords, the Islamic Courts, Mogadishu and the de facto states of Somaliland and Puntland. Most of the stuff by an-caps seems to glance over these contradictions, presenting Somalia as a stateless region operating under "voluntary" clan associations, followed by some glib statements about how great the phone service is. As if all the stuff on organ selling wasn't obtuse enough.


Iceland was not so isolated, and its young men participated in raids on Ireland.

During the yearly assembly at the Althing, The law speakers would recite a mythologized history of the founding of Iceland that emphasized their independence from the Norwegian monarchy. This suggests that the specter of Norway did play a role in shaping the Icelanders' national identity. It wasn't their lack of collective concern so much as their dependence on Norway as an export market for wool that allowed it to influence their institutions.

--- Bill

December 08, 2007 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, here's some more clarification of how I read things.

As I understood it, Viking raids were carried out from nearer bases than all the way from Iceland. I wasn't trying to suggest that Icelanders weren't like that, but that their contact with the outside world was in fact almost all via mediation by the Scandinavian world, and that that connection was the main pace setter.

I myself pointed out that recognition of threats from this "other" was likely to have played a large part in driving Icelandic internal cohesion. The point I was making was that there wasn't a, or wasn't a sufficient, barrier to the processes of infiltration and co-option; that the Icelanders didn't have any effective way of stopping alliances at the individual level with outsiders. So, in discussing statist aspects as a cause of the fall of the old ways, something is missing. Those statist aspects were the spark; the fuel was the fact that Iceland was vulnerable. It's like saying that Rome was destroyed by barbarian invasions; but there were always barbarian invasions, so what had changed to make Rome vulnerable? To me Roderick T. Long's account goes a long way to explain that for Iceland, but only in a positive way - the things that grew that were harmful. But it doesn't go into the negatives, the things that were missing that would have worked to offset and remove the positives. For after all, there would always have been something being thrown at them from outside. The $64,000 question is, what "un-Icelandic activities" sort of institution can there ever be that is not itself statist or otherwise harmful? That's actually what made most states, contra to the Misoid party line; it wasn't usually bandits imposing rule but successful defence consolidating and becoming what was feared ("fear of worse" or "lesser evil" aren't actually justifications). If there isn't an answer, if forming one's own state is the only way of preserving independence (at the price of freedom), why, the old ways fell because they were "too" anarchist in at least some respects (I write "old ways" rather than freedom to avoid self-contradiction).

It's a misreading to talk of "dependence on Norway as an export market for wool", no doubt caused by an atmosphere of today's economic thinking. They didn't need to export anything at all, as such; what they really needed was certain key imports, most particularly wood. Any "need" to export is a restatement of this that actually conceals the underlying physical necessity, and it is double counting if the need for imports has already been brought out. P.M.Lawrence.

December 09, 2007 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


On an unrelated note, do you have a blog by chance? On the basis of the this insightful writing, I'd have to add it to my list of daily-views.

--- Bill

December 11, 2007 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No blog, although I do have some old articles and letters at my publications page, mostly on the narrow area of Negative Payroll Tax without connecting it to deeper underlying stuff so as not to frighten the horses. I have a slowly recovering condition that leaves me low on energy, so I can only generate stuff in short bursts, usually in response to prodding. However, about a month back I offered to do a guest post or two for KC; you have reminded me to get onto that work. PML.

December 11, 2007 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More blog problems, KC. Now one of the advertisements is overwriting and obstructing the access links at the foot of this post on your main blog page. PML.

December 12, 2007 11:52 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, PML. What browser are you using? I tried it in both Firefox and IE, and didn't see any problem.

December 13, 2007 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mozilla, under Linux, both a few years old. The problem went away, so I suspect it was an interaction with the particular advertisement running right then, positioned immediately to the left, which decided to hog all the real estate on its right. The biggest problem I usually get is that I don't see how to disable the automatic loading of today's vide links, which hog bandwidth even for their thumbnail display.

December 13, 2007 7:22 PM  

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