The Desktop Regulatory State

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Defenders of the modern state often claim that it’s needed to protect us — from terrorists, invaders, bullies, and rapacious corporations. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, for instance, famously argued that the state was a source of “countervailing power” that kept other social institutions in check. But what if those “countervailing” institution — corporations, government agencies and domesticated labor unions — in practice collude more than they “countervail” each other? And what if network communications technology and digital platforms now enable us to take on all those dinosaur hierarchies as equals — and more than equals. In The Desktop Regulatory State, Kevin Carson shows how the power of self-regulation, which people engaged in social cooperation have always possessed, has been amplified and intensifed by changes in consciousness — as people have become aware of their own power and of their ability to care for themselves without the state — and in technology — especially information technology. Drawing as usual on a wide array of insights from diverse disciplines, Carson paints an inspiring, challenging, and optimistic portrait of a humane future without the state, and points provocatively toward the steps we need to take in order to achieve it.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE–THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION

  • Reduced Capital Outlays
  • Distributed Infrastructure
  • Network Culture
  • Stigmergy

CHAPTER TWO–NETWORKS VS. HIERARCHIES

  • The Systematic Stupidity of Hierarchies
  • Hierarchies vs. Networks
  • Networks vs. Hierarchies
  • Systems Disruption

CHAPTER THREE–NETWORKS VS. HIERARCHIES: END GAME

  • Transition from Hierarchies to Networks
  • The Question of Repression
  • The Question of Collapse
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER FOUR–THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION

  • The Regulatory State: Myth and Reality
  • Individual Super-empowerment
  • The “Long Tail” in Regulation
  • Networked Resistance as an Example of Distributed Infrastructure
  • Informational Warfare (or Open-Mouth Sabotage)
  • A Narrowcast Model of Open Mouth Sabotage
  • Attempts to Suppress or Counter Open Mouth Sabotage
  • Who Regulates the Regulators?
  • Networked, Distributed Successors to the State: Saint-Simon, Proudhon and “the Administration of Things”
  • Monitory Democracy
  • “Open Everything”
  • Panarchy
  • Collective Contracts
  • Heather Marsh’s “Proposal for Governance
  • Michel Bauwens’ Partner State

CHAPTER FIVE–FUNDAMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED SUPPORT PLATFORMS

  • Bruce Sterling: Islands in the Net
  • Phyles: Neal Stephenson
  • Phyles: Las Indias and David de Ugarte
  • Bruce Sterling: The Caryatids
  • Daniel Suarez
  • John Robb: Economies as a Social Software Service
  • File Aesir
  • Venture Communism
  • Medieval Guilds as Predecessors of the Phyle
  • Transition Towns and Global Villages
  • Modern Networked Labor Unions and Guilds as Examples of Phyles
  • Virtual States as Phyles: Hamas, Etc.
  • Eugene Holland: Nomad Citizenship
  • Producism/Producia
  • Emergent Cities
  • The Incubator Function
  • Mix & Match

CHAPTER SIX–FUNDAMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY

  • What Money’s For and What it Isn’t
  • The Adoption of Networked Money Systems
  • Examples of Networked Money Systems

CHAPTER SEVEN–FUNDAMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING

  • Introduction: Whom Do Present-Day Schools Really Serve
  • Alternative Models
  • Potential Building Blocks for an Open Alternative
  • Open Course Materials
  • Open Textbooks
  • Open Learning Platforms
  • Credentialing

CHAPTER EIGHT–THE ASSURANCE COMMONS

  • Introduction
  • Legibility: Vertical and Horizontal. Graeber, Scott, etc.
  • Networked Certification, Reputational and Verification Mechanisms
  • Ostrom, Commons Governance and Vernacular Law

CHAPTER NINE–THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD

  • Historic Models
  • Networked Labor Struggle
  • Open-Mouth Sabotage

CHAPTER TEN–OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT

  • Protection Against Non-State Civil Rights Violations
  • When the State is the Civil Liberties Violator
  • Circumventing the Law
  • Circumvention: Privacy vs. Surveillance
  • Seeing Like a State, and the Art of Not Being Governed
  • Exposure and Embarrassment
  • Networked Activism and the Growth of Civil Society

CHAPTER ELEVEN–THE OPEN SOURCE FOURTH ESTATE

  • The Industrial Model
  • Open Source Journalism

CHAPTER TWELVE–OPEN SOURCE NATIONAL SECURITY

  • The State as Cause of the Problem: Blowback
  • Meta-Organization
  • Active Defense, Counter-Terrorism, and Other Security Measures
  • Passive Defense
  • The Stateless Society as the Ultimate in Passive Defense
  • Disaster Relief

Kevin A. Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and a prolific writer on subjects including free-market anti-cap­it­al­ism, the in­div­idualist anarchist tradition, grassroots technology and radical unionism. He is the author of ”The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand”, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution, and The Desktop Regulatory State. He keeps a blog at mutualist.blogspot.com and frequently publishes short columns and longer research reports for the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Introduced April 2016.

One thought on “The Desktop Regulatory State: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks

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