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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, March 05, 2009

Sean Gabb Remarks on My Org Theory Book

These gracious remarks on my Organization Theory book by Sean Gabb, director of the UK's Libertarian Alliance, appeared on the Libertarian Alliance Forum yahoogroup:

Your book is a masterpiece. It is a great, heavy slab of text. Until you look closely at the cover, it could easily be another of the corporatist manuals written to brainwash students that you find on the shelves in any large bookshop. What it contains is the most radical and complete exposition of true libertarianism that I have ever seen.

I am glad that you have rejected the sectarian approach to these matters. I am not happy with the supposed argument between mutualists and libertarians, or between "left" and "right" libertarians. What you have written is a call to belief for all libertarians. It is a flat challenge to certain kinds of libertarianism. But I think what you have achieved in this book will reshape the libertarian movement into something more in keeping with human spiritual needs than the often arid calls to worship of big business in a world without drug laws.

I do not agree with everything you say. However, I need more time to consider this. There are some things in your book where I think you are wrong. There are many other things where I am not yet in agreement. Since I am not sure what goes under these headings, I cannot write a full review.

Where I do agree with you, however, is your central message that a free society is something utterly different from what we have. The enemy of human contentment is not merely big government, but also big business. Freedom is not Tesco/Wallmart minus the state. It is a world of small, often self-sufficient, communities, in which certain technologies will progress at slower speeds than they do, and in which certain technologies will not exist.

I know that you are a controversial figure within the American movement. Over here, where the libertarian movement is smaller and more homogeneous, and which is often touched by a romantic toryism, I think you have had a tremendous impact.

For me, in particular, your work has remade me as a libertarian. I thought 20 years ago I was a libertarian. I then found myself branching out into all manner of heresies. When Nigel Meek began publishing your works as LA pamphlets, I found all those heresies fully developed. I find that only now am I really able to describe myself as a libertarian.


Blogger Jeremy said...

I concur wholeheartedly with Gabb.

In this country, libertarians usually fall into two main interest groups: capitalist fundamentalists and civil libertarians. I came to the latter almost immediately, and always accepted the former unwillingly, as if it were an unpleasant and uncomfortable truth I had to acknowledge in order to have my freedom. Gabb is right - there is some spiritual deficit that libertarianism has always had with me. I think that's why old time religions like objectivism capture so many - they turn the emptiness at the core into a rallying cry.

Your work and the work of left libertarians in general has opened my eyes to the fact that human freedom is central. Libertarianism is not about a political system, but rather about what is possible with free human beings. Everything else flows from that, not the other way around - economics, politics, organization, ethics, law, etc. And the key takeaway from your works is a twist on the old adage: other worlds are possible when you are free (and we are definitely, definitely not free).

For many libertarians, economics, organizational policy, politics, ethics - all of these things are a given because they subscribe to their libertarian ideology. I feel like your contribution has been to say that we're free to explore the human condition of freedom without preconceptions. To many this is threatening, but many of us accept the challenge.

March 06, 2009 5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am not happy with the supposed argument between mutualists and libertarians"

WTF? Are mutualists not libertarians? Or is the word "libertarian" being used to mean "propertarian" exclusively? I guess so...

"The enemy of human contentment is not merely big government, but also big business."

Remove the word "big" from that and there would be significant progress! But, still, progress there is -- although I wonder how long it will be before the orthodox propertarians will be denouncing him as a "commie" or "socialist"?

An Anarchist FAQ

March 06, 2009 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 06, 2009 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremy wrote "In this country, libertarians usually fall into two main interest groups...".

Please clarify, just which country is that? (I myself am in Australia.)

March 06, 2009 6:03 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks, Jeremy. As I said in a response to Gabb's remarks, even worse than the pot-smoking Republicans are the ones who warn us to "ease up on the drug legalization business--it'll scare off the mainstream supporters." So in an even lower circle of hell, we've got pot-smoking Republicans without the pot.

Iain: I don't think there was any agenda in his language beyond "mutualists and what are conventionally called libertarians." He's made it pretty clear he regards me as a libertarian. As for business--the exchange of goods and services for money--it's just another word for the market economy. As an individuaist anarchist, I can't find much to object to in that.

March 09, 2009 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Freedom is not Tesco/Wallmart minus the state. It is a world of small, often self-sufficient, communities, in which certain technologies will progress at slower speeds than they do, and in which certain technologies will not exist."

Oh yesss!

March 10, 2009 12:22 PM  
Blogger Carlos Méndez said...

I too want to thanks Kevin Carson.

He really has been a magnificent influence in my thinking.

I have become a better libertarian because of his writings.

I think you are one of the most important thinkers right now in the libertarian movement and you are producing a huge impact.

Best regards,

March 14, 2009 7:14 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thank you kindly, Carlos.

March 15, 2009 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought your book from amazon, found myself saying yes (agreeing) to many things you write about and describe, though some of it is too complex for me to understand what you are talking about.

Its only when I repeated what you write to others at work that I realized it is too radical and many workers who have a misplaced sense of loyalty to their boss would object. I have very few in fact no one I can share my politics with in my life, it can be very frustrating and lonely trying to find like minded people who are interested.

March 18, 2009 2:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for your interest in the book and for making an effort, Anon.

Unfortunately, every system--whatever its nature--includes an enculturation apparatus for reproducing the kind of people it needs to survive. That means creating a "matrix reality" that defines what is "mainstream" and what is "radical." And by definition, "radical" means any "reform" that can't be carried out by the people and institutions currently in control of things.

The corporate economy was created by a top-down revolution, with little prior public debate. And in roughly the same time frame, the educational system and journalism were taken over by people from the same managerial/"professional" classes that ran big business and the government agencies, and shared all their assumptions. So now we've got a bunch of sheeps who bleat "radical" and "conspiracy theory" when anyone talks about the slaughterhouse, or argues that "the rules" made by the shepherd aren't really "for all our benefit."

March 18, 2009 6:55 PM  

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