Global Warming and Corporate Welfare Reply

An interesting take on the climate change issue from Kevin Carson.

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

It’s been a pretty bad couple of weeks on the climate front. Two separate teams of climate scientists warn that the collapse of the western Antarctic ice sheet has already begun and is now too late to stop. The six glaciers already in retreat are enough, by themselves to add four feet to global sea levels. Although total collapse will probably take 200 years or more, the loss of the whole sheet could bring the total sea rise to between 14 and 17 feet — over and above previous predictions, which assumed the western sheet would remain intact. In California alone, this would put LAX, the San Francisco airport and the San Onofre nuclear plant underwater, according to governor Jerry Brown. North America is entering its third summer in a row of extreme drought — the worst in centuries in the southwest US.

Meanwhile, Harvard Ph.D. student Vanessa Williamson suggests Tea Partiers are skeptical of anthropogenic climate change because of two beliefs: “First, the coastal elite looks down on people in Middle America; second, the government wants to exert ever-more control, and will use any pretext to do it.” The goal of the “global warming hoax,” Tea Partiers believe, is “to undo the American way of life — big cars, big homes, suburban sprawl — and make the heartland look more like the coasts” (Christopher Flavelle, “Climate Change is Stuck in the Culture War,” BloombergView, May 9). More…

U.S. Capitalism Isn’t a ‘Free Market’ Reply

By Sheldon Richman


In 1970 country singer Lynn Anderson had a hit recording of a Joe South song that opened with the line: “I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden.” I often think of that song in connection with the libertarian philosophy.

You may be asking: for heaven’s sake, why? Because it’s what I want to say to people who seem annoyed that freedom would neither cure all existing social ills immediately nor prevent new ones from arising. It’s a strange demand to make on a political philosophy—that it instantly fix everything that the opposing philosophy has broken. Moreover, I’m concerned that some libertarians, in their justifiable enthusiasm for “the market,” inadvertently lead non-libertarians to think that this unrealistic expectation is part of their philosophy. Of course, that is not good because non-libertarians won’t believe that the market would make all things right overnight, and so they’ll write off all libertarians as dogmatists.


Libertarians of all people should understand that decades—indeed, centuries—of government intervention have distorted society and the economy considerably. It’s safe to say that both would look different had that intervention not occurred. To pick one American example, the creation of an integrated continent-wide national market in the United States was in large part consciously planned by government officials (most prominently Abraham Lincoln, who embraced Henry Clay’s corporatist American System) and their corporate cronies, especially but hardly exclusively through transportation subsidies. [This is not to say they were able to dictate developments in detail; moreover, zones of entrepreneurial freedom existed, constrained though they were.] This system is American capitalism, which is to be distinguished from the spontaneous, decentralized free market.


Why Political Libertarianism Doesn’t Stand A Chance In the UK 12


By Dan Greene

I don’t vote anymore. I did for many years with a sincere belief that democracy was the best way for human civilisations to organize themselves. I even looked down on – and argued with – non-voters with derivations of the old “People fought for your right to vote” drivel that people now say to me. I now describe myself as a libertarian and a market anarchist.

So you can imagine how uninterested I was when the UK government called a general election on May 7th of this year. However, while talking to a minarchist friend of mine in the US he asked me the question “If you had to vote in this election then who would it be for?” I was kind of struck dumb for a second because while the Libertarian Party in the US may be a big party (although it seems to make absolutely no real impact as far as I understand it) there is nothing comparable to said party in this country.

So instead of picking a party I found myself beginning to explain how a libertarian political option just simply cannot exist right now in the UK. Yes, there is a libertarian party here but they are small, stand no candidates and many libertarians I know in the UK have more of an anarchist leaning and simply aren’t interested in them. So why can’t a strong libertarian party exist in the UK right now?

One of the first problems in the UK is that while the Labour Party pretend to be ‘centre-left’ and the Conservative Party pretend to be ‘centre-right’ the fact is that neither party has a strong ideology anymore and in reality there isn’t one on the left and one on the right, they’re bang in the middle practically embracing each other in this mixed economic mess where we have a sort of freeish market where business is taxed and regulated by government on one hand and massive state programs like our socialised health care system (the NHS) exist on the other (that would be the left hand presumably).


The Fulcrum of the Present Crisis: Some Thoughts on Revolutionary Strategy Reply

An interesting new work by Carson.

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

Center for a Stateless Society Paper No. 19 (Winter 2015) [PDF]

The Cult of Mass, Lionization of Protest Culture & Other Industrial Age Holdovers

Protest Culture. The so-called “cargo cults” of New Guinea, Micronesia and Melanesia evolved in response to the influx of American manufactured goods during World War II. Native islanders identified the goods – at least in the received version of the story – not with any material process of production in the countries it came from, but with the proliferation of air bases and air fields in their own countries. The cargo cults, accordingly, operated on the principle of sympathetic magic to stimulate the further delivery of Western manufactured goods by building airplanes and air control centers out of woven bamboo.

Richard Feynman later applied this phenomenon, by analogy, to what he called “cargo cult science.” Cargo cult science equates “science” to incidental features of science like test tubes and lab coats, with no understanding of what constitutes real science: the experimental method.

More generally, a “cargo cult” in any field of human endeavor is an attempt to generate a social phenomenon by replicating all the incidents and stage props commonly identified with it in the public mind.

There’s a danger, in a period of upheavals like the Arab Spring, Occupy, M15, Syntagma, and subsequent networked movements, of our being led astray by a revolutionary cargo cult. The danger is that we will identify “revolution” with incidental things like demonstrations, barricades, slogans and posters.


The 147 Companies That Control Everything Reply

In other words, the largest corporations basically have the same amount of power as the world’s 200 or so individual nation-states. So saith that great commie magazine, Forbes.

Bruce Upbin


Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power.

They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.


Do Good Businesses Drive Out Bad Ones or Is It the Other Way Around? Reply

Realistically speaking, is this not a more apt description of “actually existing capitalism” than the idyllic Randian kind pushed by the “vulgar libertarians”?

“A “choice” between:
> Scumbags R’ Us
> Criminals Incorporated
> The Devil Himself Ltd.
> Worldwide Sociopathic Enterprises, LLC.
> Evil Scum Industries
> Ted Bundy’s Spawn Corporation”

“Libertarians argue that if you are a consumer and some business is screwing you via their product, you can simply vote with your wallet and take your business to a more consumer-friendly business. If enough consumers are angry at consumer-hostile businesses in some industry, consumer-friendly businesses will spring up to lasso all of that demand. Consumers will flock to the consumer-friendly businesses and abandon the consumer-hostile ones.”

“Problem is it doesn’t happen. Instead you get whole industries where all of the businesses, or maybe 95% of them, are fraudulent ripoffs run by the scum of the Earth. Where are you supposed to go? In many industries, it seems that the worst, most consumer-hostile businesses drive out the better, more consumer-friendly ones, presumably because the more you rip off and screw the consumer, the more money you make. And this doesn’t work in industries where every business is run by a crook.”

By Robert Lindsay

I am not saying that all corporations are evil. Personally I think there are many good businesses in the US and elsewhere. But you end up with the diabolical list above when you refuse to regulate an industry. Look at the Internet. Totally unregulated. A very large % of for-pay Internet sites are apparently run by criminals. I have never seen so many criminal businesses as I have seen on the Internet. Obviously there is nothing inherent about the Net that causes criminals to flock to it to run their ugly enterprises. So many Net businesses are evil because the Net is totally unregulated. The % of raw, naked fraudulent businesses on the Net would blow you away.


Do Big Corporations Control America? Reply

Contrary to the claims of this vulgar libertarian piece, yes, they do.

This article is a reminder of why libertarians need a better to economics than Ayn Rand’s recycling of Social Darwinism.

“A key claim of the partisans of this view–who originally called themselves Progressives–is that large corporations not only dominate capitalist society economically, essentially abolishing market competition, but also dominate the political system. So most, if not all legislation, serves the wealthy corporate interests. Karl Marx may have originated this argument, but to this day, shorn of its Marxist metaphysics, it is the majority perspective among the intellectual and political classes in America. Even many conservatives, and a few libertarians, adhere to this perspective.”

In other words, corporate dominance of the state is recognized by all serious political scientists and economists, except those who are Randian lunatics.

“Since about 1980, however, the ideological and political grip of statism has begun to loosen. Statist policies of regulation and income redistribution have visibly failed. Slowly, some of the statist fetters have been lifted from the economy, allowing entrepreneurship and economic growth to continue.”

The author of that piece fails to point out that “since about 1980” has been precisely the time that the US had degenerated into a Third World plutocracy and semi-fascist police state.

By James Rolph Edwards

Foundation for Economic Education

Since the mid-eighteenth century the development of market-based societies in America and elsewhere, with constitutional protections of property and freedom, has had startling effects. Well over 90 percent of the improvement in the material living standards of ordinary persons that has occurred in the 6,000 years of recorded human history has occurred in that last 250 years and in those nations. Mean life expectancy in the United States rose from 35 years in 1800 to 50 in 1900, and around 76 in 2000. Famine in such nations disappeared and many diseases were conquered. All this resulted from replacing the caste and status relationships of medieval society with contract relationships between mutually consenting adults, while restricting the power of government to enforcing contracts, providing national defense, preventing crime, and a few other basic functions.


Greening Out #31 – The Authoritarian SNP Are Not The Answer Reply


Caity and Dan shift their gaze towards the Scottish National Party (SNP) and their scary authoritarian policies. We chat about the Named Person legislation and the dangers of the state getting involved in family life, the rise in armed police and stop-and-search powers in Scotland.

We move on to the mainstream media scaring the shit out of people, all the ‘free’ shit that politicians try to peddle, how podcasting is not therapy, the infuriating the vagueness of manifesto pledges and the complete nonsense of having nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Don’t worry, we also mention the sinking ship that is the Scottish Labour party and their negative campaigning tactics (which have left them in the state they now find themselves) plus a look at their ten pledges, cheap boob jobs in Prague and zero hour contracts.

We figure out the best and most artistic way to spoil a ballot paper, how social media desensitises people to government surveillance, getting finger printed at Disney Land, why nothing is free and we finish on the liberating feeling when you realise that all political parties are the same and voting is bullshit.

Download (right click save as)

Yes, Libertarians Really Are Lazy Marxists Reply

An interesting critique of orthodox libertarianism from a Marxist perspective by a U.K. economics student.

Unlearning Economics

I have only really just started studying Marxism in depth (though I am stopping short of Capital for now). Subsequently, while reading Bertell Ollman‘s Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in a Capitalist Society, it once again struck me that (right-)libertarianism is really just lazy Marxism. In many ways libertarianism reads like the first third of Marxism: the area which explores methodological questions and the nature of man. Both libertarianism and Marxism are generally fairly agreeable – and in agreement – in this area, but the former never really fleshes out its arguments satisfactorily. Often I find libertarians, after describing some basic principles (non coercion etc.), make the jump to property rights and capitalism being the bestest thing ever, without fully explaining it.*

I will focus primarily on Robert Nozick and Ludwig von Mises here, as they are the only two libertarians who really explored libertarianism from basic principles of man and his relationship to both nature and economic activity (Murray Rothbard was really an interpretation of Mises in this respect). Overall, I think Nozick and Mises combine to form a fair reflection of minarchist libertarianism.


Where Are the Specifics of Libertarianism?: A Karl Hess Classic from 1969 Reply

By Karl Hess



Karl Hess expresses, in the clearest and most powerful way, the fact that (a) libertarianism is a revolutionary idea and a revolutionary movement, and (b) libertarians are not there to defend private property, per se, but to uphold the life and freedom of all human beings. And it is this property (individual life and liberty) that is “most brutally and constantly abused by state systems whether they are of the right or left.”

This article originally appeared in The Libertarian Forum Vol. 1, No. 6, June 15, 1969

Libertarianism is clearly the most, perhaps the only truly radical movement in America. It grasps the problems of society by the roots. It is not reformist in any sense. It is revolutionary in every sense.

Because so many of its people, however, have come from the right, there remains about it at least an aura or, perhaps, miasma of defensiveness, as though its interests really center in, for instance, defending private property. The truth, of course, is that libertarianism wants to advance principles of property but that it in no way wishes to defend, willy nilly, all property which now is called private.


Is Salon Right? Is Honduras a Libertarian Nightmare? Reply

Tom Woods interviews Michael Strong. Listen here.

Salon’s latest attack on libertarianism involves blaming it for poor conditions in Honduras, of all places. We respond in this episode. Show notes below!

About the Guest

Michael Strong is an author, a co-founder of Radical Social Entrepreneurs, and the founder of numerous Socratic, Montessori, and Paideia schools.

Article Discussed

My Libertarian Vacation Nightmare: How Ayn Rand, Ron Paul and Their Groupies Were All Debunked,” by Edwin Lyngar

Articles in Favor of Free Zones

The Blank Slate State,” by Brian Doherty
The Legal Autonomy of the Dubai International Financial Centre: A Scalable Strategy for Global Free-Market Reforms,” by Michael John Strong and Robert Himber

Guest’s Book

Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems

Guest’s Website

Radical Social Entrepreneurs

Guest’s Blog

The Purpose of Education

Guest’s Twitter


Related Episode

Ep. 61: The Poverty Cure (Michael Matheson Miller)

Where Are the “Markets Suck” Libertarians? Reply

This post certainly raises some interesting theoretical questions

By Jason Brennan

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Some libertarians claim that the good consequences of markets and private property form part of the moral justification of these institutions. However, others endorse absolutist or near absolutist deontological political philosophies. They hold that by following certain procedures we can come to acquire stringent and robust libertarian property rights, rights that cannot be overridden or outweighed by almost any competing moral concern. They think that the consequences of private property markets–in terms of promoting welfare, positive liberty, cultural progress, etc.–form no part of the moral justification of markets.

Where are the “markets suck!” libertarians? For instance, are there libertarians out there who accept Murray Rothbard’s theory of natural law, but who also accept something like Naomi Klein’s view of markets? Are there libertarians who think that justice requires strict libertarian property rights, but who accept Brian Barry’s contention that libertarianism will starve 10% of the population? Are there at least some libertarians who think that libertarianism is required by justice, but who think that almost all people would be better off in a highly regulated, tax-and-transfer social democracy?

Note, I’m not asking if there are libertarians who say that justice requires libertarianism even if markets suck. I’m asking if there are any libertarians who actually think something like, “Let’s have markets, even though Marx was right about markets.”

This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’d genuinely like to know if there are such people, especially prominent activists, writers, or published academics.

If there aren’t such libertarians, it’s a bit puzzling, isn’t it? After all, if you sincerely believed, say, Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics argument for libertarian self-ownership (with all that Hoppe thinks this leads to), you would be a libertarian even if you rejected Austrian economics, even if you thought that libertarian economic systems led to massive market failure, even if you thought that the economy works the way Corey Robin thinks it does.

Consider, in contrast: David Estlund thinks that epistocracy would probably lead to better consequences than democracy, but he thinks epistocracy is ruled out on deontological grounds. G. A. Cohen at one point said that mainstream econonomics is basically sound, but still said that capitalism was unjust on deontological grounds.

Note: I have not criticized and am not insinuating any criticism of Rothbard or Hoppe here.

Did the Early Factory Workers Welcome Their Fate? Reply

The issues raised in this piece from 2012 by Sheldon Richmond are extremely important. Like it or not, libertarians are widely regarded by critics from the Left and Right alike as mere apologists for the nineteenth century model of capitalism. As long as libertarians are regarded as a movement that wants to abolish minimum wages, dismantle the social safety net, and deregulate capitalism while offering no alternatives other than “Let the free market take care of it!” (which sounds an awful lot like “Let them eat cake!” to outsiders), then libertarians will never have more than a minor audience.

By Sheldon Richman

Center for Stateless Society

Kevin Carson has an interesting post in his occasional “Vulgar Libertarianism Watch” series. This time he critiques Thomas Woods’s comments on distributism, the Catholic-related idea, associated with Belloc and Chesterton, that the means of production should be widely dispersed, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few bureaucrats or capitalists. A distributist economy would presumably be filled with single proprietorships and worker co-ops. Carson quotes from Woods’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Distributism,’ in which he states that for family reasons, “it is by no means obvious that it is always preferable for a man to operate his own business rather than to work for another.” To which Carson responds,

This makes the unwarranted assumption that working for someone else is the only way of reducing risk, as opposed to cooperative ownership, federation, etc. It assumes, as a basic premise, the very thing that distributism objects to: that capital is concentrated in the hands of a few owners who hire wage labor, instead of widely distributed among the general population who pool it through cooperative mechanisms.


The War on Drugs is Over and Drugs Have Won Reply

Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker’s article from the Wall Street Journal from two years ago.

Right now, the War on Drugs appears to where the Vietnam War was in the period between 1971-1973. The war was still going on, but it was obvious it was a doomed effort. Public opinion was starting to turn away from it, and more and more public officials and mainstream figures were speaking against it. Reforms like phasing out the draft were starting to take place.

Likewise, the War on Drugs is still going on, but it is obvious it is a doomed effort. Public opinion is starting to turn away from it, and more and more public officials and mainstream figures are speaking against it. Reforms like decriminalizing marijuana are starting to take place.

By Gary Becker and Kevin M. Murphy

Wall Street Journal

The American "war on drugs" began in 1971. ENLARGE
The American “war on drugs” began in 1971. Stephen Webster

President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in 1971. The expectation then was that drug trafficking in the United States could be greatly reduced in a short time through federal policing—and yet the war on drugs continues to this day. The cost has been large in terms of lives, money and the well-being of many Americans, especially the poor and less educated. By most accounts, the gains from the war have been modest at best.

The direct monetary cost to American taxpayers of the war on drugs includes spending on police, the court personnel used to try drug users and traffickers, and the guards and other resources spent on imprisoning and punishing those convicted of drug offenses. Total current spending is estimated at over $40 billion a year.


The Utopia of Rules Reply

Kevin Carson reviews David Graeber.

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

David Graeber. The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (Brooklyn and London: Melville House, 2015).

This book is, properly speaking, not a book at all, but a collection of essays loosely clustered around the common theme of bureaucracy. Of the material in the book, only the long introductory essay “The Iron Law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization,” and the third essay (from which the book gets its title) appear in print for the first time. After his general outline of the problem in the Introduction, the collected essays serve as a series of alternative possibilities for (or different facets of) an anti-bureaucratic Left.

Introduction: The Iron Law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization

Graeber begins in the Introduction by arguing that bureaucracy is a lacuna in the liberal theory of history. In the classical form of that theory, stated in the nineteenth century, society was in transition from the feudal (or militant) stage, based on status, to a new liberal (or industrial) order based on contract and markets. Why, then, was bureaucracy so sharply on the rise in the nineteenth century and afterwards?

Graeber’s answer is that the dichotomy between “states” and “markets” (at least in the common identification of the latter with a society based predominantly on the cash nexus and commodity exchange) is a false one. Rather, societies in which money exchange is the primary form of economic organization have historically been creatures of the state (an argument he developed at length in Debt). And given the artificiality of the cash nexus economy, and its nature as an artifact of state power, it follows that maintaining a capitalist society on a stable basis requires an enormous ongoing exercise of state power.


Radical Potential: Our Blatant Opposition to the Status Quo Reply

James C. Wilson

Center for a Stateless Society

This election cycle’s crop of uninspiring presidential hopefuls, now including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, must be a relief to those favoring mass disillusionment with electoral politics. No candidate, Rand Paul included, represents a convincing alternative to the status quo. Contrast this with the current president, whose appeals to “hope” and “change” convinced many Americans of his sincerity in 2008 – appeals that largely proved to be a rhetorical device.

While Obama did little to end the unpopular Bush era policies that he campaigned against, and actually expanded some, important lessons can still be learned from his successful manipulation of popular frustrations.

Obama ran against an establishment Republican at a time of soaring deficits, prolonged expensive wars, an increasingly intrusive national security state and a recently failed economy. While the US economy may have slowly improved, many of the frustrations that Obama exploited to get elected are still present.

The threat of warfare in the Middle East still looms over the horizon; the security state has been caught spying on innocent civilians; the administration’s drone program is killing large numbers of people, mostly civilians; the militarized police still harass and kill unarmed minorities; an entire generation is burdened with debt; and Americans are still overworked and underpaid. Unsurprisingly, the notion of “business as usual” has taken on an extremely negative connotation for many Americans.


Listen, Mutualist! 1

A libertarian municipalist response to Kevin Carson.

By Hagbard Celine33

Post Scarcity Economics


This is a response essay to Kevin Carson’s essay in response to libertarian municipalism. Here is a link to Kevin Carson’s essay so you can see what I am responding to. I wrote this essay within a day and will probably continue to revise it as I usually do with my writings. Hope this creates dialogue.

A link to Kevin Carson’s essay:


Paul Marks in Defense of the Merchant and Trader Class Reply

By Paul Marks

Libertarian Alliance

Well there is only one form of economics – as Ludwig Von Mises makes plain in “Human Action” and other works. Economics shows that different policies, different “social systems” if you like, have different results – but they do not have different economics, any more than different “races” or “historical periods” do. In the end there is no “right and left”, just right and wrong – truth and error.

There is no libertarian reason why various forms of communes (religious or atheist) should not be allowed to exist – indeed even if they collapse the people in them can still perform useful tasks. For example the people from the failed Owenite community near where Dallas now stands helped create the city in its early days.

As for specific economic fallacies – well the only interesting thing about them is that no matter how many times the are refuted they keep coming back. I do not believe that bring back long refuted economic fallacies deserve any thinks (rather the contrary), but such people exist – and one must, therefore, oppose them (again and again and again), such is life. The only true peace is death – and even that may not be peaceful (we do not know).

For example the Labour Theory of Value (the basis for the “exploitation” theory) was refuted many times even whilst David Ricardo and James Mill were still alive (and not just by foreign writers – Richard Whately and Samuel Bailey were British). But it had to be refuted all over again by Carl Menger and so on. More…

Listen Libertarian Municipalist! Reply

By Kevin Carson

Center for a Stateless Society

Murray Bookchin. The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies & the Promise of Direct Democracy. Foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin (New York and London: Verso, 2015).

This book is a collection of Bookchin’s essays on libertarian municipalism and communalism, extending from the period when he still considered himself an anarchist until his final post-anarchist phase.

In the first, “The Communalist Project,” he depicts the near future as a choice among “several intersecting roads of human development” that “may well determine the future of our species for centuries to come.”

Whether the twenty-first century will be the most radical of times or the most reactionary… will depend overwhelmingly upon the kind of social movement and program that social radicals create out of the theoretical, organizational, and political wealth that has accumulated during the past two centuries of the revolutionary area.


Anarchist Economics Compared and Contrasted: Anarcho-Capitalism vs Anarcho-Syndicalism/Communism 3

The Market for Liberty” by Morris and Linda Tannehill was published in 1969, and was one of the first books to really provide a fine-tuned description of how an anarcho-capitalist economy might work. It continues to be perhaps the most detailed of any work describing anarcho-capitalism in practice. Excerpts from the book are available online from the Mises Institute.

The book was also recently translated into Spanish by Jorge Trucco. This is a video of Trucco giving a talk about “The Market for Liberty”:

It’s interesting to compare the anarcho-capitalism of “The Market for Liberty” with the anarcho-communism/anarcho-syndicalism of Diego Abad de Santillan. “After the Revolution” by Santillan is one of the most comprehensive descriptions of anarcho-syndicalism in practice that has ever been written, and Santillan was the leading economic theorist of the Spanish Revolution in 1936. The entire text of “After the Revolution” is available online from the Anarchist Library website. More…