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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, July 20, 2005

Upaya on a Left-Libertarian Synthesis

Upaya has a good post up, partly in response to my earlier one on the potential for green "tax shifting" and cuts in corporate welfare as the basis for a Libertarian-Green coalition.
He proposes a more general left-libertarian coalition of agorists/left Rothbardians, geolibs, and mutualists like me, centered on the following agenda:

Civil liberties
Opposition to state-capitalist institutions (WTO, IMF, etc.)....
Support land trusts
Ending corporate welfare
Ending barriers to mutual aid
Building mutual aid institutions
Political decentralism
Independent unionism
Citizen’s dividend (as alternative to welfare state)
Reclaim the commons
Human scale institutions
Alternative media

Like freeman, who left a message in the comment section, I am extremely leery of the idea of a citizen's dividend, although it would certainly be an improvement over the existing welfare state bureaucracy. But I guess if you start with the socialization of land-rent on Georgist principles, it's better to return it to the public as a dividend than spend it on stuff that should be funded with user-fees.

Freeman supports, as an alternative,

the dismantling of the state from the top-down, which is what you seemed to describe by saying that government help for the poor should be the last to go. Corporate welfare and other forms of privledge for the wealthy need to be axed first.

Disparities in wealth would also be greatly reduced by an individualist anarchist system of land tenure, based on occupancy and use. Millions of renters would become owners of their homes, and cease paying hundreds of bucks a month in what amounts to a tax to the absentee landlord. A left-Rothbardian program of worker control of state capitalist industry would have a similar effect. Had labor not been dispossessed of the means of production, there would have been little need for a welfare state in the first place.


Blogger Logan Ferree said...

I'm someone who follows politics too much for my own good, so a lot of what I think about 'left-libertarianism' in general and the associated subsets (agorists, left-Rothbardians, georgists, and mutualists) is influenced by what I think Americans would come to accept. At the same time I believe strongly in encouraging 'left-libertarian' movements that will change the opinions of Americans. Your hold outs on Georgism tend to revolve around objections to the LVT and a citizen's dividend. You think that user-fees should fund what few government programs are allowed to exist, and so there'd be no need for a LVT. What is the proper sphere for government in your mind?

July 20, 2005 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have my own fundamental objections to Georgism, both transitional and enduring. But a citizen's dividend isn't necessarily the best use of a public patrimony - it depends on whether there are needs that can't be better handled individually (classical Greece bears this out). But stipulating LVT/basic income for a moment, that can be made transitional. the trick works by converting the dividend to something handled by municipal trusts, then devolving taxes to revenues from pools of assets (letting taxpayers buy out their liabilities, or grandfathering them out). In the end, you have family resources filling the need, and social institutions (dowries?) preventing have-nots from re-emerging. Basic income only works if it provid

July 20, 2005 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See how little your blog lets me post? Basic income schemes have transitional difficulties, and even in the long run they can only work if they provide an INadequate income, allowing a market clearing top up wage level less than a living wage, and even then only if you haven't hit Malthusian limits (a badly designed scheme would tend towards those limits - see the introduction to Nassau Senior's work on wages, where he analyses how that happens to slavery in the long run).

July 20, 2005 10:22 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


The ideal sphere of government, for me, would be the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole. But I understand that's a long way off.

In any case, though, I don't see LVT and CD as inevitably tied to government. Depending on the rules for property in land, it could be done in a stateless society with the community as common owner of land.

In practice, I imagine that the successor to the present centralized state will be a panarchy, with local land rules following local consensus: some Geoist areas, some Lockean, some Tuckerite, some anarcho-commie, etc., with rural areas being occupancy-and-use by default just because of the high costs of enforcing absentee ownership and the lack of a state to do so at taxpayer expense.

I suppose there probably are some non-excludable public goods that could be appropriately funded by land-rent, in a community set up on those lines. I just don't like the idea of using it to fund anything that is subject to market pricing.


I don't know why you're having these problems with Blogger; it must have something against you personally. There have been several very long comments by people besides you that posted without being cut off.

I seriously doubt that there's enough land-rent, equally divided, to provide a subsistence income to any but those of the most minimalist tastes. It would probably just be enough to take off some of the pressure of threatened job loss, and increase the bargaining power of labor.

July 21, 2005 8:11 AM  
Blogger Logan Ferree said...

Kevin, could you give me a good definition of panarchy? There's so many running around, I'm not sure which one you're using.

July 21, 2005 9:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Personally, I think one of the main things we should all agree on is to oppose central banking. I happen to think it is the economic elephant in the middle of the room.
Unfortunately a lot of left-libertarians don't dwell on it that much or think that it's a triviality. But I can't imagine many (any) of them tolerating it if they were more aware of the insidious effects it has on the entire economy.

July 21, 2005 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worker control of state capitalist institutions (whatever that is) won't help much. What good is worker control going to do for SAIC or Northup Grumann? In the absence of a state, they're going to die.

Moreover libertarians will not support the robbery of landlords and capitalists to give to the workers. That kind of massive theft will require a massive state and massive atrocities. I'm sure your intentions would be noble and good, but the kulak's children will have to be held in the fire sooner or later.

- Josh

July 21, 2005 3:18 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Robbery of landlords and capitalists???? I think the word is "restitution".

July 21, 2005 7:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


Panarchy was used by De Puydt to describe the coexistence of numerous voluntary governments on the same territory. I was just using it in the sense of a number of local social and economic systems coexisting, with separate property rules applied on a territorial basis, without a central territorial state.


That's not made any easier by people like Milton Friedman.


I'm referring not just to military industry, but to any corporation that gets most of its profits--directly or indirectly--through state action. A good proxy, IMO, is any corporation in an oligopoly market that controls more than 20% of the production in a given industry. And the idea is not for the state to seize the industry and hand it over, but for industrial unions to do it.


You beat me to it.

July 22, 2005 4:05 AM  

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