Still working to recover. Please don't edit quite yet.

Kevin Carson

From Anarchopedia
(Redirected from Kevin Carson?)
Jump to: navigation, search

Kevin Carson is an author and contemporary self-described mutualist and individualist anarchist. He has written a book called Studies in Mutualist Political Economy as well as several published articles and maintains a blog on the topic.

In addition to individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker's "big four" monopolies (land, money, tariffs, and patents), Carson argues that the state has also transferred wealth to the wealthy by subsidizing organizational centralization, in the form of transportation and communication subsidies. He believes that Tucker overlooked this issue due to Tucker's focus on individual market transactions, whereas Carson also focuses on organizational issues.

The theoretical sections in Studies in Mutualist Political Economy are presented as an attempt to integrate marginalist critiques into the labor theory of value.[unverified]


On free markets[edit]

Kevin Carson defines his economic perspective as a form of free market anti-capitalism and socialism. He devotes much of his blog to the critique of other writers who identify themselves as pro-market. Carson credits himself with coining the pejorative term "vulgar libertarianism," a phrase that describes the use of a free market ideology in defense of economic inequality. According to Carson, the term is derived from the phrase "vulgar political economy", which Karl Marx described as an economic order that "deliberately becomes increasingly apologetic and makes strenuous attempts to talk out of existence the ideas which contain the contradictions [existing in economic life]." [1]

In Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Carson asserts that,

The ideal 'free market' society of such people, it seems, is simply actually existing capitalism, minus the regulatory and welfare state: a hyper-thyroidal version of nineteenth century robber baron capitalism, perhaps; or better yet, a society 'reformed' by the likes of Pinochet, the Dionysius to whom Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys played Plato.

Economists and organizations accused of vulgar libertarianism include Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Madsen Pirie, Radley Balko and the Adam Smith Institute. The term is most frequently employed by libertarians and anarchists who favour a free market focus on popular equality, but reject corporate capitalism.[unverified]

On capitalism[edit]

See also: Capitalism

Unlike some other market anarchists, Carson defines capitalism in historical terms, emphasizing the history of state intervention in market economies. He says "[i]t is state intervention that distinguishes capitalism from the free market."[2] He does not define capitalism in the idealized sense, but says that when he talks about "capitalism" he is referring to what he calls "actually existing capitalism." He believes that "laissez-faire capitalism, historically speaking, is an oxymoron" but has no quarrel with anarcho-capitalists who use the term and distinguish it from "actually existing capitalism." This, according to Carson, is deliberately chosen to resurrect an old definition of the term.[3] Carson holds that capitalism is founded on "an act of robbery as massive as feudalism." Carson argues that in a truly laissez-faire system, the ability to extract a profit from labor and capital would be negligible.[4] Carson argues the centralization of wealth into a class hierarchy is due to state intervention to protect the ruling class, by using a money monopoly, granting patents and subsidies to corporations, imposing discriminatory taxation, and intervening militarily to gain access to international markets. Carson’s thesis is that under an authentic free market economy, the separation of labour from ownership and the subordination of labor to capital would be impossible, bringing a class-less society where people could easily choose between working as a freelancer, working for a fair wage, taking part of a cooperative, or being an entrepreneur (see The Iron Fist Behind The Invisible Hand).

Carson has written sympathetically about several anarcho-capitalists, arguing that they use the word "capitalism" in a different sense than he does and that they represent a legitimate strain of anarchism. He says "most people who call themselves individualist anarchists today are followers of Murray Rothbard's Austrian economics, and have abandoned the labor theory of value." However, with the release of his book, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, he hopes to revive "mutualism." In his book he attempts to synthesize Austrian economics with the labour theory of value.[unverified]


Austrian economist Walter Block, a notable critic of Carson's views. Economist and anarcho-capitalist Walter Block characterizes Carson as a "Marxist". He says Carson's philosophy is full of errors, which are mostly due to his acceptance of the labor theory of value. "For someone in this day and age to even take this doctrine seriously, let alone actually try to defend it, is equivalent to making a similarly widely and properly rejected position vis à vis the flat earth, or the phlogiston theory. It is, in a word, medieval."[5]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

This article contains content from Wikipedia. Current versions of the GNU FDL article Kevin_Carson on WP may contain information useful to the improvement of this article WP
  2. Carson, Kevin. Mutualist Political Economy, Preface
  3. Carson, Kevin A. Carson's Rejoinders. Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 20, No. 1 (Winter 2006): 97-136, p. 116, 117
  5. Block, Walter. Kevin Carson as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 20, No. 1 (Winger 2006), pp. 35-36