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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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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Draft Chapter--Decentralized Production Technology

Here is a considerably revised version of my earlier manuscript: Chapter--Decentralized Production Technology. As I mentioned before, it includes responses to Eric Husman's critique of Kirk Sale's Human Scale, among other new material.


Blogger Eric H said...

Wow, I'm flattered.

At a superficial glance, I'm not sure I entirely disagree with your rejoinders to me. I only wish I could sustain the level of writing output that you have been for the past couple of weeks.

May 06, 2007 6:54 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, Eric. Actually, all this material is stuff that's been in the pipeline for a long time and just now come together, so when I get the last of it up (which will be draft Ch. 3), there will be a long dry spell.

May 06, 2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger Alva Goldbook said...

Hi, I just stumbled across your blog and thought it was pretty interesting. Have you ever heard anything about Parecon (Participatory Economics), and if so, what do you think of it?

May 06, 2007 1:29 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Welcome, Alva.

I read the Albert and Hahnel book several years ago. It was a goldmine of references for further reading, and all sorts of useful information I'd never heard of before. But I didn't like the Parecon model itself. Even if it worked as intended, it would involve a nightmare of committee meetings to work out quesions like whether to produce more or less toothpicks than last year--the kinds of Hayekian informational problems that market price signals are ideal for solving.

More likely, though, it would lead to gradual bureaucratization and centralization of planning authority.

I prefer an economy of self-managed cooperatives and small businesses, with relations between them organized by the market.

May 07, 2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger David Houser said...


Any idea when this will be ready in book form? More than a couple of pages on a computer really screws with my decrepit eyes, and I've got a really crappy printer.

May 11, 2007 1:17 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I'm afraid it's going to be a while, David. My guess would be at least a year.

May 11, 2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger Syn Diesel said...

Kevin, how much have you been influenced by modern revisions of decentralist technology rather than the original ideas; and how much of this do you consider technically feasible rather than just wish-demanding?

Have you considered Buckminster Fuller's ideas? His Design Science embodies perhaps one of the most elegant elaborations of liberation technology:

"Number one consideration on the part of the design scientist is the question: What can I do for other human beings that will not trespass on any humans nor frustrate any of the regenerative integrity of the environment?

What do I have the right to do that is going to affect other people? As an example, let's say that you don't know it, but I can see that something is going to fall on your head. I don't have time to warn you verbally so I just jump in and pull you out of the way as this thing comes crashing down. I don't think I am trespassing on you to arrange for you not to be killed. But what if you were to say, well, supposing I wanted to be killed? I would say that has to be your option. You didn't know that there was an option­p;I did, and so I have the responsibility to turn that option over to you. If you then want to jump out of the window, you can do that yourself.

The design scientist has the responsibility to increase the options of humanity, not to decrease them. I must always be sure that I am increasing your degrees of freedom. What I mean by degrees of freedom is directly related to the question, what is your life? And how many hours do you have of it? And how many of those hours are really free?

You will find that a great many of your hours are tied up because you and I are a process. There are a great many involvements and relatively few of them that you can actually direct­ that are freely investible­ towards getting information or doing something about the information you already have. So whatever the design scientist does, it must increase the proportion of your total life that's at your disposal; it must reduce the restraints.

There are, then, many things which you could be unconscious of that could destroy and/or preoccupy you. And there are many things that you are conscious of that are going to take a lot of your time. The design scientist will then develop artifacts that make it possible for you to do what you want to do, while trying to continually increase the magnitude of your effectiveness, reducing the restraints, and saving you time.

Design science is very broad, but it starts right here with what you and I have the right to do."


Bucky Fuller doesn't seem to get much respect in the LL community; I suspect due to his unabashed support for large-scale global "world-around" technology and social organizations. Too sad.

May 22, 2007 3:18 AM  
Blogger Syn Diesel said...

Almost forgot... here's an idea to test your technical bones.

Palaces for the People, a concept by Lion Kuntz (pronounced like his famous author distant relative Koontz - think hard and you can see a joke in that name).


I've never acted on my natural impulse to contact Kirkpatrick Sale and ask him what he thinks. First time I saw the human-scale arcology pyramids I thought to myself "artificial hill dwelling for 500 humans... artificial hill dwelling for 500 humans... artificial hill dwelling for 500 humans." ;-)

May 22, 2007 3:35 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Syn Diesel,

I apologize for the delay in answering. I often lose track of which comments I've addressed and those I haven't.

I was introduced to Mumford, Borsodi and Bookchin by way of Sale, but having read their work I'm probably more influenced by the original than by Sale's interpretation of it. And I have little doubt as to the technical feasibility; the main question IMO is how far Peak Oil and other input crises would have to go to neutralize the state-conferred advantages of centralist technology and make the decentralist stuff economically competitive. Also, about the learning curve involved in putting together all the building blocks of decentralist technology and building an alternative economy fast enough to adapt to a catastropic combination of Peak Oil and other crises.

I don't know much about Fuller. Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.

June 11, 2007 10:23 PM  

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