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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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Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Dialectical View of Chavismo

Via Jesse Walker on LeftLibertarian. An interesting article on anarchist impressions--both Venezuelan and American--of the "Bolivarian Revolution": "Of Chavistas and Anarquistas: Brief Sketch of a Visit to Venezuela," by Michael Staudenmaier with Anne Carlson. Here's the key observation, IMO:

From our perspective, the entire process [community organizing] encapsulated the grand contradiction of the Chavista project: on the one hand, it was designed from the top down, the result of a constitutional directive rather than a grassroots demand, while at the same time the process was being used by a variety of working class communities to further a range of demands and build a network of solidarity that in principle at least could develop well outside the control of the Chavez government. Much of Venezuela’s future depends upon whether experiments like this one become safety valves that limit social unrest or breeding grounds that expand demands for community self-management.

Chavism (or is that Chavezism? wouldn't want to be called an "intellectual hermit" for leaving out a couple of letters) clearly involves a large element of statism, including intervention in the economy; but the targets of the intervention, by and large, are themselves not only beneficiaries of the previous constellation of state-corporate power, but former key members of that constellation. And much of his new cooperative sector has been funded so far by revenue from the oil boom. The questions remain to be answered whether Chavez's statism and the previous statism of the latifunistas and oil interests will cancel each other out, and whether the cooperative sector and the new system of rural land tenure can continue to sustain themselves when Chavez has come and gone and is no longer around to prop them up.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wouldn't want to be called an "intellectual hermit" for leaving out a couple of letters

Obviously this shows you haven't thought seriously about the matter nor debated anybody rigorously about it.

June 05, 2006 12:12 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...


In my book, being called an "intellectual hermit" - especially by an economist - means you're doing something right.

So, Kevin, have you read Sciabarra's Dialectical Libertarianism, since you've mentioned dialectics? I've always wondered what your thoughts were on that book. I'm working my way through it presently.

June 05, 2006 7:23 AM  
Blogger Joel Schlosberg said...

Here's what the "intellectual hermit" remark is referring to: Walter Block's critique in the Journal of Libertarian Studies of Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, from pp. 39-40, where there's a rant in which he puts forth Kevin's use of the term "Miseans" instead of "Misesians" as evidence of his not understanding Austrian economics enough to agree with Block's interpretation of it:

"How are we to account for this Carson phenomenon? By this I mean, how can it be that a scholar, who is intimately familiar with the works of Mises, Böhm-Bawerk, Rothbard and many others in the Austro-libertarian tradition, and yet rejects them utterly? This is entirely speculative, but my guess is that although Carson shows great familiarity with this literature, it is possible that he has never personally engaged over it with any of its proponents. That is, he is sort of an intellectual hermit; he only read this material, but never fully wrestled with it, as most people can only do in dialogue with adherents of it. In other words, reading is only part of the practice of scholarship. Personal interaction, debate, dialogue, too, are necessary. My scant evidence for this contention is that Carson (p. 134) characterizes his intellectual opponents as 'Miseans,' not the correct 'Misesians.' No one who has ever had any personal contact with advocates of this perspective would make this mistake; yet I have heard it, often, from those whose knowledge of the subject comes only from reading books."

June 06, 2006 10:02 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


Bwahahahaha! You got me dead to rights.


Sciabarra's book had a big influence on the last chapter of Mutualist Political Economy, especially the parts where I dealt with the order in which to dismantle the state. Brilliant book; I recommend reading it along with Roderick Long's article on libertarian class theory.


Thanks for filling in the info for anyone who missed the inside joke. Oddly enough, I'd discussed and argued the value theory section quite extensively in assorted Austrian forums. There are a number of people on Konkin's LeftLibertarian list who are knowledgeable on the history of Austrian thought, including George Smith (who specializes in the history of economic thought); and the austrian school yahoogroup is positively swarming with Austrian academics (I had many exchanges with Prof. Pat Gunning). To the best of my recollection, none of them ever mentioned the two missing letters.

June 07, 2006 9:44 PM  

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