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The Desktop Regulatory State (2016)

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 … Continue reading

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Toward Natural Society (1858)

This “Appendix” was printed with “The Inherent Evils of All State Govern­ments Demonstrated,” a special reprint of the “Vindication of Natural Society” (ACS # 6) cir­cul­at­ed by early English mutualists in 1858. The editors, while defending the philo­soph­ic­al Anarchism of the Vindication, viewed it as incomplete, con­demn­ing “Arti­fic­ial Society” without offering guidance on how it might be ended, or “Nat­ur­al Society” brought into practical being. They added this “Appendix,” to “briefly [enunciate] the principles through which ‘Natural Society’ may be gradually realized,” draw­ing on the work of the American individualists Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. The result was a fascinating commentary and document of early English mutualism.

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Socialism Without Statism (1887)

This booklet contains three provocative letters on socialism, government and property by the French mutualist journalist and historian Ernest Lesigne; three letters which constitute theses on freed-market anti-capitalism, and three defenses of a smallholder, co-operative economy as the only liberating … Continue reading

Support C4SS with Clarence Lee Swartz’s “The Practicability of Mutualism”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Clarence Lee Swartz‘s “The Practicability of Mutualism“ that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Clarence Lee Swartz‘s “The Practicability of Mutualism“.

$1.50 for the first copy. $0.75 for every additional copy.

“The Practicability of Mutualism,” a classic statement of Mutualist theory and practice by Clarence Lee Swartz, first appeared as a two-part serialized essay in one of Edward H. Fulton’s many anarchist newspapers, The Mutualist, published from Clinton, Iowa, in December 1926 and January 1927. This is, to our best knowledge, the first time that the entire essay has ever appeared in print since its original publication.

“MUTUALISM IS A SOCIAL SYSTEM BASED ON RECIPROCAL and non-invasive relations among free individuals. The Mutualist standards are:

  • INDIVIDUAL: Equal freedom for each — without invasion of others.
  • ECONOMIC: Untrammeled reciprocity, implying freedom of exchange and contract — without monopoly or privilege.
  • SOCIAL: Complete freedom of voluntary association — without coercive organization. . . .

“THE LIBERTARIAN IDEAL IS THE ONLY CONCEPT THAT PAVES the way for the operation of Mutualism. Perfect Mutualism could not exist under any form of authority. It would be thwarted and emasculated at every turn. Just as today every social and economic evil that serves to enslave humanity is the result of some form of governmental interference with freedom and with natural processes, so would the same or similar forces tend to nullify and counteract, to all extent, the advantages to be derived from the application of the principles of Mutualism. It is a plant that requires the fertile soil of liberty in which to make its unimpeded growth. . . .”

Clarence L. Swartz (1868–1936) was a California mutualist activist, writer and publisher. He was a close friend of the individualist Benjamin Tucker, and contributed frequently Tucker’s paper Liberty, as well as publishing his own anarchist journal, I (1899–1900). After Tucker was forced to retire from publishing by a disastrous fire in his New York book shop, Swartz became a leading figure in preserving, reviving, and carrying forward the tradition of individualist Anarchism and mutualism in America. During the 1920s, he edited an anti-prohibition magazine, The Libertarian, contributed frequently to Edward H. Fulton’s The Mutualist, prepared and published a collection of Tucker’s short articles, entitled Individual Liberty, and published his best-known work, What Is Mutualism? (1927), a new synthesis of individualist and mutualist thought on anarchist economics and strategy.

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Support C4SS with Kevin Carson’s “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Kevin Carson‘s “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy“ that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Kevin Carson‘s “Studies in Mutualist Political Economy“.

$15.00 for the first copy. $13.00 for every additional copy.

First published in 2005 by the author. Second edition published in 2007.

When describing his book, Kevin says: This book is an attempt to revive individualist anarchist political economy, to incorporate the useful developments of the last hundred years, and to make it relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century. We hope this work will go at least part of the way to providing a new theoretical and practical foundation for free market socialist economics. Speaking for the Distro, I think Kevin is much too modest. This is Kevin Carson’s first big book, an immensely important document in the contemporary revival of left-libertarianism and anti-capitalist individualist anarchism, and one of the most significant developments in the last century for both libertarian politics and radical economic thinking.

Anarchists tend to look embarrassed when the subject of economics comes up. Or we mumble something about Proudhon and then sheepishly borrow ideas from Karl Marx… A specifically anarchistic approach to economic analysis has lain dormant for the last 130 years. However, with the publication of Kevin A. Carson’s STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY this period of dormancy has finally come to an end. –Larry Gambone, Red Lion Press.

I highly recommend Carson’s book… That doesn’t mean I agree with everything in the book… But where I agree with it I think it is an excellent defense of the sort of anti-corporatist, pro-labour, left-libertarianism I embrace; and where I disagree with it I think it makes intelligent arguments that deserve consideration. –Roderick Long, editor, JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES

Overall it is a valuable contribution to political economy and a timely reminder… to libertarians of how radical their creed actually is. In my view, one cannot overstate the importance of Carson’s asking libertarians: what are you defending, the free market or the political-economic system we currently live in? –Sheldon Richman, editor, THE FREEMAN

… his remarkable STUDIES IN MUTUALIST POLITICAL ECONOMY… displays an admirable range of reading and the style invests the driest economic questions with a certain peculiar charm. –Ken MacLeod, author, FALL REVOLUTIONtrilogy

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 EconomyOrganization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution. 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).

CONTENTS

  • Preface

Part One–Theoretical Foundations: Value Theory

  • Chapter One–The Marginalist Assault on Classical Political Economy: An Assessment and Counter-Attack.
    • A. Statement of the Classical Labor Theory of Value
    • B. Vulgar Political Economy, Marginalism, and the Issue of Ideological Motivation
    • C. The Marginalists versus Ricardo
    • D. Exceptions to the Cost-Principle: The Classicals in Their Own Defense
    • E. The Marshallian Synthesis
    • F. Rothbard versus the Marshallian Synthesis
  • Chapter Two–A Subjective Recasting of the Labor Theory of Value
  • Chapter Three–Time-Preference and the Labor Theory of Value

Part Two–Capitalism and the State: Past, Present and Future

  • Chapter Four–Primitive Accumulation and the Rise of Capitalism
    • Introduction
    • A. The Expropriation of Land in the Old World
    • B. Political Preemption of Land in Settler Societies
    • C. Political Repression and Social Control in the Industrial Revolution
    • D. Mercantilism, Colonialism, and the Creation of the World Market
    • Conclusion: The World We Have Lost–And Will Regain
    • Appendix: On the Necessity of Primitive Accumulation
  • Chapter Five–The State and Capitalism in the Laissez-Faire Era
    • A. Tucker’s Big Four: The Land Monopoly
    • B. Tucker’s Big Four: The Money Monopoly
    • C. Tucker’s Big Four: Patents
    • D. Tucker’s Big Four: Tariffs
    • E. Infrastructure
  • Chapter Six–The Rise of Monopoly Capitalism
    • Introduction
    • A. Liberal Corporatism, Regulatory Cartelization, and the Permanent Warfare State
    • B. Power Elite Theory
    • C. Monopoly Capital and Super-Profits
    • D. Socialization of Costs as a Form of Cartelization
  • Chapter Seven–Monopoly Capitalism and Imperialism
    • Introduction: Elite Reaction to Crisis (With Digression on Maldristribution of Income)
    • A. Open Door Imperialism Through the 1930s.
    • B. The Bretton Woods System: Culmination of Open Door Empire
    • C. Export-Dependent Monopoly Capitalism (with Digression on Economy of Scale)
  • Chapter Eight–Crisis Tendencies
    • Introduction
    • A. Accumulation Crisis
    • B. Fiscal and Input Crises
    • C. Legitimation Crisis
    • D. Neoliberal Reaction and Political Repression
    • E. Built-In Limits to Effectiveness of Neoliberal Reaction
    • F. Neoconservatism as Attempted Defense Against Legitimation Crisis
    • G. The Frankfurt School: Fascism and the Abandonment of the Law of Value
    • H. Global Political Crisis of Imperialism

    Part Three–Praxis

    • Chapter Nine–Ends and Means
      • A. Organizing Principles
      • B. Getting There

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The Homebrew Industrial Revolution (2010)

Published in 2010, by the author. This book explores the impact of dramatic technological and social changes on work and manufacturing. Kevin Carson uses real-world examples and theoretical insights to illuminate the conflict between two economies: one a highly-capitalized, high-overhead, … Continue reading

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Organization Theory (2008)

Published in 2008 by the author. This book applies the economic principles of individualist anarchism, as developed in Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, to the study of the large organization. It integrates the insights of mainstream organization theory into that … Continue reading

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Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (2005, 2007)

This book is an attempt to revive individualist anarchist political economy, to incorporate the useful developments of the last hundred years, and to make it relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century. We hope this work will go at least part of the way to providing a new theoretical and practical foundation for free market socialist economics.

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The Practicability of Mutualism (1926–1927)

“The Practicability of Mutualism,” a classic statement of Mutualist theory and practice by Clarence Lee Swartz, first appeared as a two-part serialized essay in one of Edward H. Fulton’s many anarchist newspapers, The Mutualist, published from Clinton, Iowa, in December … Continue reading

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The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand (2001)

The ground-breaking essay on contemporary mutualist economics by Kevin A. Carson. The current structure of capital ownership and org­an­iz­ation of production in our so-called ‘market’ eco­n­omy re­flects coercive state intervention prior to and ex­tra­n­e­ous to the market. From the outset of the industrial re­vol­ut­ion, what is nostalgically called ‘laissez-faire’ was in fact a sys­t­em of continuing state intervention to sub­sid­ize ac­cum­ulation, guar­ant­ee privilege, and maintain work discipline. . . A world in which peas­ants had held onto their land and property was widely distributed, capital was freely available to laborers through mutual banks, productive tech­nology was freely avail­able in every country without pat­ents, and every people was free to develop locally without col­on­ial robbery, is beyond our imagination. But it would have been a world of decentralized, small-scale production for local use, own­ed and controlled by those who did the work — as dif­fer­ent from our world as day from night, or freedom from slav­ery. . . .