Economics/Class Relations

Kevin Carson and the Freed Market: Is His Left-Libertarian Vision Plausible?

Orthodox libertarianism vs. the “freed market.” I generally like the “freed market” idea even if I don’t like many of its proponents. I generally take the same position on anarchist economics that I do with different schools of anarchism generally. Let a thousand flowers bloom and let the best team win.

By Tate Negley

How accurate is Kevin Carson’s characterization of “freed” markets? Carson, a left-libertarian “free market anti-capitalist,” portrays true free markets as so radically different from actually existing markets as to be almost unrecognizable. In his The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low Overhead Manifesto, he provides an alternative history of industrialization, arguing that large-scale industrial organization and production are largely creatures of state intervention and that truly free markets would be characterized mainly by small-scale production for local markets. This paper evaluates Carson’s narrative in order to determine whether his vision of the freed market is credible. It finds that Carson fails to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that, but for government intervention, national markets would only exist for a few goods, and that many of the features he believes freed markets would have are based on fallacious views regarding competition, knowledge, capital, and entrepreneurship.

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