Kevin Carson in Forbes Magazine


As Kevin Carson has noted in the past, the IMF’s “actual purpose was to subsidize the disposal of surplus American goods and capital in foreign markets. The World Bank and IMF were created as an adjunct of William Appleman Williams’ “Open Door Imperialism,” a safety valve for the chronic overproduction and overaccumulation under state capitalism.”

Should We Abolish the IMF? – E.D. Kain – American Times – Forbes


  1. I’m sorry, but anyone who believes in “overproduction” has thrown away their Credibility Certificate. It would be really nice if Carson would try to gain at least a basic grasp of economics before sounding off.

  2. If you read his works, you’ll see that KC isn’t claiming the sort of general overproduction that Say’s Law denies. Instead, he says that ruling class distortions to the pattern of investment lead to the overproduction of certain manufactures. This then requires the forced opening and stabilisation of foreign markets.

    A free market would raise none of these problems. Indeed, there might be lower volumes of international trade. The system we have, however, is corporatism. It may involve a great deal of market efficiency and even enterprise in the full sense. But its overall stability also requires aggressive foreign policies and a certain amount of inflation at home.

  3. He’s simply retreading/rebranding the Marxian doctrine laid out in the Communist Manifesto, Das Kap et al, which is that the bourgoisie have to keep running their production lines for some incomprehensible reason or other so they dump the resultant goods onto (a) foreign markets (b) “consumers” suffering a delusion that they want a new chair when they don’t really. He is very much claiming a general overproduction.

    Carson is typical of the anglospheric post-calvinist romanticism, which postulates some kind of return to the simple life, a plot of land and a cow, the artisan in his workshop, whatever, and despises industrialisation. Faced with the harsh reality that such a regimen would lead to a catastrophic collapse in production, he comes out with the tired piety that we all have too much anyway and we’d be better off with much less of it.

    I mean, come on Sean. He believes in the Labour Theory Of Value. How can you take this crank seriously for even a second?

  4. If you want to sneer at the labour theory of value, I’ll join in. However, KC really is not claiming a general overproduction. He simply describes what is happening as a set of political responses to economic distortions brought about by earlier interventions. You’ll find a very similar analysis in Rothbard and even von Mises.

  5. “Carson is typical of the anglospheric post-calvinist romanticism, which postulates some kind of return to the simple life, a plot of land and a cow, the artisan in his workshop, whatever, and despises industrialisation.”

    Also, the Pope is a Zoroastrian and pigs really do fly.

    Christ on a crutch, man — quit embarrassing yourself with public displays of topical ignorance. Not only is Carson not some kind of Luddite, he’s visibly in love with technology and its decentralizing potential to such an extent that that’s one of the central themes of his work.

  6. Sean- Carson’s analysis is profoundly different to that of Rothbard let alone Von Mises- both of the latter correctly criticised the State/Business circle jerk but did not fall into the trap Carson has of presuming therefore that everything is rotten. You mentioned that he (supposedly) thinks there is only overproduction in certain industries. However, looking into his work, or even just asking him, you find there is no sector immune from his criticism; just as he purports to only disapprove of land “unfairly” gained- but then you find that his criteria are such that all land is so defined. It’s like saying a racist man doesn’t dislike all black people, just the dark skinned ones.

    This is a man after all who thinks roads are a conspiracy by the State to aid business, and thus discards any business that benefits from the existence of the roads as a capitalist running dog.

    Not only is Carson not some kind of Luddite, he’s visibly in love with technology and its decentralizing potential to such an extent that that’s one of the central themes of his work.

    Indeed, and in that he is simply typical of the modern “liberal” progressivist (that anglosphere post-calvinist romantic) who thinks they can put everybody back on the land, close all the factories, abolish global trade, force everyone to use only local produce, and still somehow have their iPads and broadband connections.

  7. KC doesn’t say anything as crude as that roads are a conspiracy by the state to aid business. He says that well-connected corporations are able to externalise many of their costs by getting the taxpayers to fund things like roads. That is somewhat different.

  8. Ian,

    “he is simply typical of the modern ‘liberal’ progressivist (that anglosphere post-calvinist romantic) who thinks they can put everybody back on the land, close all the factories, abolish global trade, force everyone to use only local produce, and still somehow have their iPads and broadband connections.”

    Bullshit. He neither says, nor apparently thinks, any such things.

    That coercive state redistribution of land in favor of the political class (e.g. the Enclosures) produced economic distortions that advantaged that political class at the expense of the productive class is well-documented fact.

    He doesn’t favor “closing all the factories.” He favors ending the state subsidies that keep a particular kind of factory in business even though a free market would likely produce a very different kind of factory.

    He doesn’t oppose “global trade.” He opposes state “managed trade” treaties designed to advantage politically connected players in global trade at the expense of customers and of real market competitors.

    He observes that local produce would likely be the norm if the state didn’t force its subjects to subsidize the transportation costs of politically connected agribusiness and its associated retailers. That’s not rocket science.

    And yes, he thinks that a free market would deliver iPads and broadband connections more efficiently than a state-distorted market.

    I’m open to the possibility that you just haven’t read Carson and therefore don’t know anything about him and are making this bilge up on the fly. But I don’t see that that’s really much better than the possibility that you have read Carson and are intentionally lying about him for some reason. It’s one or the other.

  9. Well, I’m “open to the possibility” that you’re some kind of Carson fanboy who is deliberately misrepresenting him in an attempt to protect him from criticism as the moonbat that he is. Or are you a member of some kind of Carson cult? A sort of goatees and all black thing?

    Take this-

    That coercive state redistribution of land in favor of the political class (e.g. the Enclosures) produced economic distortions that advantaged that political class at the expense of the productive class is well-documented fact.

    That isn’t “well-documented fact” at all. It is well-documented fact that where Enclosure took place, which is far from everywhere, there was quite clearly an advantage to the landowners. No disagreement there. But, typical of your ilk, you deliberately wrongly analyse the market by ignoring any other economic benefits. This is typical of marxists, for instance. You ignore reciprocity, instead dividing every situation into winners and losers.

    The majority of the people had to leave the land one way or another. The same would have happened, more slowly but just as cruelly, under the free market. There is nothing kind about losing your farm to superior competition. Enclosure was State force, yes. We are agreed on that. But the effect it produced- a mass transfer of workers from the land to the cities- would have happened anyway. It often did happen by pure market forces. It still does. And then poor people complain about the Free Market, not the State.

    To have an advanced economy, you need to shift most of the people out of agrarian production. If you don’t do that, you will not get an an advanced industrial economy. You have to choose. It is usually an unkind process. The State may do it by Enclosure-type acts. If it doesn’t, the market will do it, creatively destroying small inefficient farming businesses. You can’t have an advanced mass agrarian economy, for the simple reason that if all you produce is food, all you will ever have is food. There is nobody to make tractors, motor cars, washing machines and iPads. They’re all too busy growing food.

    Feel free to complain about the injustice of the method. I share that sympathy. But pretending that that invalidates every subsequent economic development is ridiculous, and pretending that Carson could have his iPad and his broadband in a land of subsistence farmers with no large industry is pure lying.

  10. Ian,

    “Enclosure was State force, yes. We are agreed on that. But the effect it produced- a mass transfer of workers from the land to the cities- would have happened anyway.”

    Ah, well — I apologize. I didn’t know that you possess an advanced “time lapse replay” machine that tells you what would Y would have occurred based on what ahistorical X got mapped across millions or billions of variables. I’m surprised you haven’t started selling that. You’d make a killing, especially if it works on the prospective future as well as on the actual past.

    Someone‘s adopted a Marxist methodology — the mechanical clank of history down the straight and narrow path of theory toward inevitable outcome — here, but it’s not Carson, nor is it me.

    In my opinion, an absence of state distortion might have produced similar results — centralized industrialization and the existing version of an “advanced” economy.

    Or it might have produced a completely different kind of economy, “advanced” in different ways and different directions.

    Or we might all still be staring at the ass end of a plowhorse instead of pecking away at our keyboards about this stuff.

    Lacking your advanced historical replay machinery, I can only guess at what might have happened instead of knowing for sure. That’s why I focus on what did happen as a starting point, and why I accept that correcting the evils of that history might, for better or worse, not produce the outcomes I happen to imagine.

  11. Well Thomas. I don’t have that magic machine of course. I have something similar though. It’s an analytical discipline called “economics”. It is quite well known, you can probably find some stuff about it on Google. I recommend that you do.

    It was perhaps a bit previous of me to say, “what would have happened”. But economics does tell us what could have happened and, in this discussion it comes to two broad scenarios; either everyone stays as subsistence farmers and stays dirt poor (see, for instance the “Third World” for this scenario) or agriculture industrialises and everybody gets to live in a level of luxury beyond that the riches could achieve for most of history. Which is what did happen. It is simply then a question of State involvement, as already discussed. The Free Market clearing the labourers off the land would have been historically different, but no less cruel.

    And. One common trick we see here again is to not present all the information, in order to support a political ideology. Your scenario implies an absence of State involvement prior to Enclosure. In fact, the farmers and landowners were already enmeshed in a system of State-backed rights and responsibilities. That is why Enclosure Acts were used to enclose; because the farmers’ small plots were already part of an artificial, state system. There has never been a stateless society. Suggesting that the State suddenly arrived to intervene at the time of Enclosure is simply wrong; the Enclosure Acts are better seen as an alteration to the landholding system which was, and always had been, and always inevitably is, a State system. It required implicit State force to keep those tenant farmers on the land.

    Anyway, back to that “economics” thing. We know for a fact, that subsistence farming is less efficient (food output per man) than industrial farming. So, you have your choice. Poverty, or industrial farming. It really is that simple, regardless of Carson’s deluded raving about State irrigation and those evil, evil roads.

  12. I can’t see what the fuss is about. The left libertarians may be wrong in some respects. On the other hand, they do provide certain insights and analyses that fit very nicely into mainstream libertarianism. I’m a conservative, who thinks the destruction of the old landed interest was a bad thing. At the same time, the KC analysis of modern corporate capitalism is a very fine thing. If he believes in the labour theory of value, and doesn’t regard IP rights as legitimate, that doesn’t cancel the fact that he is one of the most important libertarian thinkers of our age.

  13. Anyone attempting to analyse modern capitalism from a labour theory of value is going to get the wrong answers. Adam Smith did, Ricardo did, then Marx did. Now Carson has. It is like trying to understand biology from a Creationist perspective. You simply have no hope of getting anything right.

    An LTV inevitably leads to a belief in capitalist exploitation; that profits are theft. From there, Carson’s errors multiply exponentially.

  14. That is silly. The theory of value is beside the point to his analysis of transport and infrastructure subsidies, of limited liability, of managerialism, of how regulations and state welfare hurt the poor, etc, etc. So far as I am concerned, the mutualists and left-libertarians are our brethren in the libertarian oikoumene.

  15. It isn’t “silly” at all Sean. It’s central. A person who does not understand the subjectivism of value cannot understand the world. It is as simple as that. It is why he makes so many economic errors. An LTVer believes that if a man makes shoes in a factory, and is paid $8, and they sell for $10, the $10 “should” have been his- because the shoes are literally solidified labour value- and so the “missing” $2 must have been stolen from him. This is Marx’s surplus value, and Carson is free and open about talking about surplus value. They are the same philosophy; the inevitable philosophy derived from LTV.

    He thus cannot begin to analyse economics, because his fundamental understanding is wrong. From there, he has a skewed understanding of subsidies, of profits, of corporations and so on. His analysis is worse than useless; even when he is criticising corporate welfare (correct) he does it for the wrong reasons.

    Let’s look at roads. Carson’s limited analysis sees them as a one-sided “subsidy”. He hates industry and corporations, so he is only interested in seeing their “subsidy”. He says, “without the roads, the corporations could not transport their cheap goods, ergo, those cheap goods are only cheap because of the subsidy”. He does not further explore the situation, and say, “because of the roads, customers have access to cheaper goods that would not be available to them from local sources”. He does not recognise the reciprocity of the situation. He does not even understand that cheap goods are good for customers. He is only interested in maintaing the high value of local labourers by protecting them from cheaper distant competitors.

    The goods are not cheap because of roads. This is in the “not even wrong” category of ideas. They are cheap because they are more efficeintly produced. The roads provide access to the cheap goods.

    Even when he criticises the right thing, he is doing it for the wrong reasons. This is completetly useless to libertarians, and to anybody else. Left, right, or whatever.

  16. “The goods are not cheap because of roads.”

    That’s correct. Too bad to you don’t actually mean it.

    The goods are not cheap. They just LOOK cheap — because the apparent price is a fiction. The producer of the good has been able, through lobbying for state privilege, to hide a considerable portion of the good’s price in the customer’s tax bill instead.

  17. I think we’ve reached the point where you need to supply references to his works before your critique of KC can be taken seriously.
    Generally, though, I repeat my assertion that he and his colleagues are part of our movement.

  18. References?

    Well, a good place to start would be the comment by one “Thomas L Knapp” directly above.

    The goods are not cheap. They just LOOK cheap — because the apparent price is a fiction. The producer of the good has been able, through lobbying for state privilege, to hide a considerable portion of the good’s price in the customer’s tax bill instead.

    See? These people really do believe that advances in manufacturing are simply a smokescreen; that mass production has no economic benefits, and is simply some kind of cover for an expropriation of labour value. They aren’t criticisng corporate welfare. They just hate industry. That’s the difference between a Rothbard and a Carson.

  19. Ian,

    Hmmm … it may be possible to get away with lying about Carson seeing as he doesn’t seem inclined to come around and defend himself.

    Lying about me, on the other hand, isn’t quite as easy, since I’m here to call you out on it.

    To wit:

    “These people really do believe that advances in manufacturing are simply a smokescreen; that mass production has no economic benefits, and is simply some kind of cover for an expropriation of labour value.”

    I neither believe, nor have I ever stated, any of the three beliefs you falsely attribute to me.

    I am VERY appreciative of “advances” in manufacturing. Unlike you, I do not believe that those advances were either inevitable (due to some cockamamie “theory of history” like you and Marx apparently share) regardless of the distortions of state intervention, nor that they were necessarily the “best” possible advances. Absent state intervention, what happened might have still happened, or something different might have happened. Unlike you, I don’t claim to know which.

    Mass production obviously does have, or at least has had, economic benefits. It has also had costs, and many of those costs have been shifted from point of sale disclosure in price, to hidden line items on tax bills.

    Like that hoary old Marxist Ludwig von Mises, I believe that price is an important informational tool. If I see something with a $1 price tag on it, and don’t know that I’m actually paying $2 for it because Uncle Sugar subsidizes it to the tune of another dollar that I pay in tax, that price disinformation skews my economic choices.

    If the current model of mass production can survive when customers know what they’re ACTUALLY paying for the goods, I’m fine with that. Apparently you’re upset with the notion that the market should decide on the basis of true information, instead of marching in lockstep with your theory to your decreed final result.

    As far as “expropriation of labor value” is concerned, I part ways somewhat with Carson on the subject (he preaches a variant of Labor Theory of Value, while I’m completely an Austrian value subjectivist).

    In any production transaction between capital (which is, for the most part, a product of past labor) and labor (which is itself actually a form of capital … get the idea that I don’t find the distinction as meaningful as some do?), both sides are going to drive the best bargain they can.

    In your $10 shoe example, where the capital provider ponies up $8 in materials and tools, while the laborer works on them and the thing is sold for $10, I don’t agree that the $2 is “expropriated labor value.” If the laborer can get the capital provider to agree to $2 per shoe in wages, that’s fine. If the capital provider can get the laborer to agree to $1 per shoe, that’s fine, too.

    Where I agree with Carson is that state intervention tends to be undertaken for the purpose of, and with the effect of, advantaging one side of that bargaining process.

  20. Thanks for all the good words, Tom.

    I haven’t bothered to defend myself here mainly because I’ve got a limited time budget, and spending it debating in a comment thread with someone who obviously has no understanding of what he’s commenting on is a pretty low priority compared to putting out new work.

    I could go through my body of work citing chapter and verse to show that Ian B. raises (as if they were original and telling) points that I have already addressed in detail, that he attacks strawmen, and that his understanding of my work is second-hand. But what’s the point of engaging someone who’s engaged in a passive-aggressive strategy of gainsaying something he shows no evidence of having bothered to read or understand, and thereby flush minutes or hours of my life down the crapper that I’ll never get back?

    All of Ian B.’s “arguments,” if you can call them that, amount to something like “Based on my second-hand readings of those who’ve actually read Carson, I understand that he argues for x. Since I know based on my seonc-hand readings of daily commentary at that everyone who argues for x also holds position y, and that x has been disproved by others whom I’ve never actually read, I can dismiss Carson’s arguments without any direct knowledge of what he actually said.”

    It comes down to one of several possibilities:

    Either Ian B. is commenting on arguments he hasn’t actually attempted to follow or even read, in which case he’s intellectually lazy. He’s read the arguments without understanding them, in which case he’s defective in reading comprehension. Or he’s read them and is misrepresenting them, in which case he’s a liar. Either way, it’s a time sink.

    I’ve encountered more than one person who started out with a decidedly skeptical view of my positions, and was by no means ever wholly convinced of them, but who came to hold me in greater respect than some of my critics simply from comparing what they wrote about me to what I actually said. For example:

    So I challenge anyone to compare Ian B.’s dumbed-down critique to what I actually said, and draw their own conclusions.

  21. The diversionary defence being deployed here is a fairly common one- to give an illustrative example-

    “Your criticisms of Christianity are wrong. You have not read the Bible, and Aquinas, and Augustine. Without doing that you cannot understand Christianity”.

    “I have read them, and I have read commentaries on them.”

    “Then you did not understand them.”

    “I understood them.”

    “Then you must be a liar.”

    When deployed honestly, it is an argument derived from personal certainty. The Christian cannot believe that he might be wrong, and that somebody else might have a valid criticism. Ergo, they are either ignorant, stupid, or lying.

    Kevin, or Thomas: is my assertion that Carson supports a labour theory of value correct or incorrect?

    Is my assertion that you are promoting the view that industrial production is no more inherently efficient than personal, small scale production (if each were being undertaken in a perfect free market) correct or incorrect?

  22. Akso, Sean-

    You asked earlier for specific references. I am ashamed to admit that I have spent some of today’s opportunity cost immersed in Mr Carson’s execrescences in order to more fully answer various points. I had read various of them before, but not in this attempt to analyse and criticise. It is hard to immerse oneslef in a work which from the outset is clearly wrong to oneself.

    A major problem is Carson’s writing style. It is hard to find anywhere that he clearly states succinctly what he believes or means. In that sense it is a little like trying to find Andrea Dworkin explicitly state “all sex is rape”; she does not, even though it is clear from the totality of her writing that that is what she intends. For instance, rather than explicity state his LTV in Mutualist Political Economy, he instead spends chapter after chapter criticising previous critics of the LTV such as Bohm-Bawerk. Thus to criticise Carson, one must in fact criticise Carson criticisng Bohm-Bawerk’s criticism of Ricardo (or whoever). It is a frustrating and opaque style to wrestle with; perhaps delibreately so.

    So this is the problem. He doesn’t write economics, or history. He indulges in a form of literary criticism, dropping quotes hither and yon as if to prove how many books he has read. Rather than declare the positive space of his reasoning (if there is one) we are left with the negative space; Carson thinks the opposite of what these other persons think. I suspect he writes this way as a sort of emulation of scholarship. It does however make debating his position difficult; so maybe that is the simple purpose.

    Nonetheless, occasionally he partially allows a direct statement through. Here is an example I found which I think supports my view that he is declaring a general overproduction–

    A genuine free market economy would be vastly less centralized, with production primarily for local markets.

    Besides the problem of surplus output, the state capitalist economy produces a second problem: that of surplus capital.

    (The first sentence shows his autarkic instincts). I will be interested to see if he returns to this thread and can clarify for us whether he is asserting that there is simply overproduction in some industries, and thus underproduction in others, to counterbalance it or, as it seems to me from his work in general, he is asserting that there is a general overproduction of the “Say’s Law type”.

  23. Ian,

    You write:

    “Kevin, or Thomas: is my assertion that Carson supports a labour theory of value correct or incorrect?”

    It is correct (I happen to disagree with him on theory of value, as I’ve previously mentioned).

    “Is my assertion that you are promoting the view that industrial production is no more inherently efficient than personal, small scale production (if each were being undertaken in a perfect free market) correct or incorrect?”

    On that, I won’t attempt to speak for Carson.

    For myself, the assertion is incorrect, but in an orthogonal rather than 180 degree opposite manner.

    My assertion is that in the absence of a perfect free market we can’t tell what production methods are most efficient.

    State intervention distorts price information to the advantage of those who are able to hide parts of price in that intervention because the intervention is undertaken at their behest and/or on their behalf.

    We know that the state has intervened, and continues to intervene. We know, to some degree of certainty, whom the state has intervened on behalf of, and what their methods are. So we know that the real price of the goods and services sold by those producers is higher than the apparent price.

    How much higher is hard to tell, given the expansive web of intervention and the second order effects (it’s not just a straight Price A to Price B comparison, because in many cases there is no Price B — the competition has been priced completely out of the market by intervention and we have know way of knowing what their price WOULD have been had that not been the case).

    I also see a problem with the word “inherently.” It’s odd how people with a theory of history — like Marx or yourself — can so joyfully trace the evolution of production/exchange, and then come to a full stop at what THEY have determined is the end point.

    It may be that you’re correct and that industrial production “had” to take the path it took, and would have taken that path with or without the assistance of state intervention.

    But even if you are correct, it does not follow from that conclusion that the path ends at the place you’ve decided represents some ultimate outcome, be it “modern industrial capitalism” or “communism following the dictatorship of the proletariat and the withering away of the state.”

    It may be that centralized industrial production has run its course and in so doing has birthed the tools and methods that will replace it, just like Watt’s steam engine replaced many of the tools and methods that went into building its prototype.

    Carson believes that to be the case. I’m not as sure, but I’d like to find out. What we agree on is that the way to find out is to get the state out of the equation so that the market can function in an undistorted way.

  24. Thomas, you’ve asserted twice now that i have a “theory of history” in the Marxian deterministic sense, and I do not. There are however certain tendencies in human society which economics, and historians, attempt to discern. I cannot prove that a society which develops a theory of energy will certainly then invent a steam engine. It may be a slave society that does not realise the utility of one, for instance.

    But I can say that it is quite likely, and that if they do invent one, it is likely to lead to industrial production, and so on. That is not the same as a Marxian determinist socio-political theory. I have no idea what the future holds though, like a lot of people, I enjoy guessing.

    The problem you and Carson seem to have is in artificially objectifying “industrial capitalism” as a “system” as if it were designed that way. Indeed Carson’s theory seems to be basically that; we only have factories because somebody designed the “industrial capitalism system” to feature them. I on the other hand am simply asserting that for producing many goods, a factory is a better solution than scattered workshop production, so it was the method that was settled on by the market. In other words, I am saying simply that more efficient[1] methods beat less efficient methods in the marketplace.

    [1] efficiency defined as quantity of goods produced per person.

  25. Ian,

    OK, so you don’t have a theory of history. Nevertheless, you seem to function on something resembling one. Back to our Enclosure discussion, as your last comment makes it relevant again:

    You assert that subsistence farmers would have moved off the land and into the cities to work in the factories whether the state had intervened with the Enclosures or not. That smacks of “theory of history” to me, but I’ll take you at your word that it’s not.

    You write that: “Carson’s theory seems to be basically that; we only have factories because somebody designed the ‘industrial capitalism system’ to feature them.”

    It may not be that we only have factories for that reason … but it’s a documented fact that we do have factories for that reason.

    When England began to industrialize, the market spoke: Subsistence farmers had little interest in moving to the city to work in those factories, and without labor, the factories were dead in the water.

    Maybe those farmers would have changed their minds sooner or later, but early on they just weren’t budging in large enough numbers to fill the demand for their labor at the wages offered. They valued what they had more than they valued what the factors were offering them.

    So, at the behest of the factors — made in public written argument on exactly the grounds described above — the British government instituted the Inclosure Acts of 1750-1860 to force those farmers off their homesteads and into the factories.

    So when you write “for producing many goods, a factory is a better solution than scattered workshop production, so it was the method that was settled on by the market,” I have to point out that:

    – Value is subjective, and apparently much of the prospective labor force didn’t value “producing many goods” as it valued other things; and that

    – It wasn’t “the market” which settled on factories as the solution. Maybe the market WOULD have eventually done so, but it was the state that DID do so.

  26. Wrong Thomas.

    People could still buy handmade stuff after factories were built – indeed they still can. But it was more expensive (because making stuff in factories is cheaper) – so most people bought the factory made stuff, because it was cheaper. “Market forces” are just human choices – and people choose to buy stuff (for example) made in factories in American (as well as British) towns (rather than in people’s houses) because that was a cheaper way of making stuff. Once the new bits of kit (the technology) had been invented – and none of that was invented by the state.

    Economies of scale really do exist – even Karl Marx understood that (if nothing else).

    By the way – plenty of people went to work in factories, from counties that had no enclosure Acts such as Kent or LANCASHIRE (the arch industrial revolution county). So the idea that the Enclosure Acts were needed to produce a workforce is wrong as well.

    Indeed the peak census year for people working on the land was 1851 – after the industrial revolution.

    Of course Northamptonshire was the county where most land was enclosed by Act of Parliament – so perhaps I should be a Kevin Carson supporter (being a Northamptonshire man), quoting the poems of John Clare (not exactly reliable evidence considering he was barking mad).

    However, I do not believe that the Enclosure Acts were a statist scheme to get people into into Northamptonshire boot and shoe factories (indeed such a belief is just flat wrong).

    For a start – the dates do not match up (dates – always a problem for historical theories with no real link to history).

    People had lots of children in those days – that is why the number of people working on the land could go UP (as it did in England and Wales – right till the mid 19th century) yet there be lots of people to go into factories as well.

    Of course there was a non industrial alternative (seen in many parts of the world – then and now), but starvation is not considered a good alternative to an agricultual revolution (what the Enclosure Acts were really about – boosting the production on farms) and industrial revolution.

    Still (I repeat) Lancashire did not have Enclosure Acts – and that did not stop people going into factories, any more than New Hampshire and Mass not haveing Enclosure Acts stopped people going into factories there.

  27. Still this is beside the point.

    The point being – what is Comrade Kevin doing being cited in Forbes Magazine? Does not Steve Forbes know that Kevin would steal his magazine company (sorry “take it back from unjust so called ownership”) and have him killed if he resisted this “mutalist justice”?

    The IMF and the World Bank should be abolished.

    But the idea that they are a plot by American capitalists is crap.

    Dexter White (the American half of the double act that created the IMF and World Bank) was a Soviet agent (not a lover of American capitalists) and the Britsh half of the double act was J. M. Keynes (again – not known for being a lover of businessmen unless, perhaps, they were prepared to bend over….).

  28. Paul,

    I find it curious that you begin with “Wrong Thomas” and then immediately go into refuting several claims that I never made (that handmade stuff became unavailable, or that factory goods weren’t cheaper than handmade, or that economies of scale don’t exist).

    “I do not believe that the Enclosure Acts were a statist scheme to get people into into Northamptonshire boot and shoe factories”

    Maybe you don’t believe that, but the people lobbying for said Acts (generally, although I guess Northamptonshire could have been an exception) believed it. Or at least they said that was what they were after when they were asking for it.

  29. I am sorry Thomas – when I typed “wrong Thomas” I was really thinking of the Carson (and co) claims, my bad.

    By the way – what Northamptonshire shoe manufacturies pressed for Enclosure Acts?

    Northamptonshire was “the exception” in that it was the only county in England or Wales where most land was enclosed by Act of Parliament (although a few other counties in the East Midlands came close – although the East Midlands was NOT a great industrial area). By the way there is still a little area of Leciestershire that still has the open field system.

    In Lancashire (the classic example of an Industrial Revolution county) what Enclosure Acts were there?

    Or are you saying lots of people went up to Lancashire from Northamptonshire?

    The Agricultural Revolution is what the Enclosure Acts were about – although only in those counties where the Open Field system still existed in a big way.

    Of course in some places it had never existed at all.

    As for the United States – only a small area ever had the system.

    An area of Massachusetts.

    I seem to remember it was part of their early communal experiment (a lot more radical than anything that it existed in England, [by some brief Digger communities one eight miles from where I am typing this], – where there was an Open Field system in some areas, but not communalism).

    The communal experiment being the real reason why the colony almost starved to death.

    It was getting rid of the communal experiment that saved Mass – not noble indians.

    Still – I expect you know that.

  30. Thomas-

    Paul has said some of what I would have said. In my original post about Enclosure, I said that market forces would have cleared the workers off the land, and I stick to that. You’re ignoring my earlier point that there was not a “pre-State period”. It would have taken the State to keep them on the land, e.g. by guranteeing their tenancies. REmember, these were not “homesteaders” (your word). They never owned their land. They were tenant farmers. Different thing.

    Now there is no certainty to history. There are scenarios in which England could have remained a subsistence agrarian economy. But they would have required the stifling of market forces by the State, as in socialist third world countries whose governments actively promote subsistence farming (at the demand, yes, of the farmers) e.g. Nasser’s Egypt and thus protect them from the market- to everybody’s detriment. Those countries stay poor.

    If you pull away the entire State, and leave market forces to run unfettered, the more efficient industrial farmers will push the small subsistence guys out of the market and off their land. That’s just how economics works.

    If that’s a “Theory Of History”, so be it. I think it’s just an analysis of how markets work, but that’s just me.

  31. The fundamental argument appears to be whether KC and the other left-libertarians are “real” libertarians. Some people have an odd emotional objection to accepting these people, and seem to be looking for points of difference – as if libertarianism were similar to Roman Catholicism or Orthodox Marxism-Leninism. The only point that defines libertarianism is a dislike of the State. How we choose to dislike it, and what we think would follow its dissolution, are matters on which we are at liberty to disagree without anathematising each other. It may be that a libertarian society will be a place where joint stock limitied liability corporations could still survive and flourish. It might not. There might be a large and growing volume of international trade. There might not. There might be intellectual property laws. There might not. These possibilities are worth discussing. But I will only say that, regardless of his belief in the labour theory of value, KC believes in a stateless society. He even believes that we can get there by peaceful means. I also believe that his analysis of corporate capitalism is a valuable contribution to our body of general arguments. Irrespective of this, he is a libertarian, and I am incredulous of the denunciation of him and those like him by other libertarians.
    This Blog is a projection of the Libertarian Alliance, and it operates on the longstanding LA principle of wanting to present all strands of libertarian argument. When Chris Tame was in charge, we made an ostentatious point of publishing writers who did not share his own blend of sexual liberation and Objectivism. Now I am Director in his place, we make a point of publishing writers who do not define utopia as a British Empire that does little beside laying on Royal weddings and filling the sea with Dreadnoughts all called HMS Nelson and the like.
    Kevin Carson and David D’Amato are libertarians. Robert Henderson has libertarian inclinations – at least, when he keeps himself off denouncing free trade etc. Even Peter Tatchell is worth looking at from time to time. We publish them. In the past, we have published Enoch Powell and Tony Benn and David Marsland and Robin Ramsay, and any number of other people who may not be libertarians – not, at any rate, in the mainstream sense – but who have what we consider a potentially valuable contribution to the libertarian debate.
    Anyone who disagrees with our basic principle is welcome to use this Blog to express his disagreement. But this is how we operate, and will continue to operate.

  32. The fundamental argument appears to be whether KC and the other left-libertarians are “real” libertarians.

    No no no Sean, it’s not about that at all. It’s not about the LA’s inclusiveness. It’s all about whether Carson is talking a load of pants. That’s all it’s about. If you’d got Tony Benn on here arguing for collective farms, I’d have a go at that too. Purely because it’s a load of pants.

    Look at it this way. David Icke is against the State too. He’s against it because he thinks the world is ruled by 12 foot alien lizards. We can’t just say, “well, we have a common cause with David Icke, because he hates the government too”, because he hates the government because they are twelve foot alien lizards. So if you get him to write an article for the LA blog, you’re going to probably have some libertarians (such as myself) having a go at him. Not because he isn’t a “proper libertarian”. But because he believes the world is ruled by twelve foot alien lizards.

  33. “The only point that defines a libertarian is dislike of the state”.

    Simply not true.

    In philosophy what defines a libertarian is belief in the “I” the agent, the mind, free will (whatever you what to call something that chooses – that is not entirely predetermined by prior events).

    In politics what defines a libertarian is the ” non aggression principle” (not the same thing as just dislikeing the state). This holds that it is wrong to violate the body or goods of someone else – not just for the state to do so, but for private criminals to do so also. A reasoning will (a mind – an agent) has a body and goods – to deliberatly (not accidentially – to CHOOSE to violate) violate this body and/or goods is a crime (from the libertarian point of view) a violation of the principle of justice – to each his own (not to each whatever he can forceably take from others). It is true that people sometimes organize themselves into associations (clubs, churches, trading companies – whatever), but there must still be human beings (beings – agents, reasoning wills) involved for these associations to have any moral force – for example a company that has no share holders has no real ownership of anything. It would be like a church (or an athiest club) that had no members. It would not be an “ex … ceased to be….” (do not fear I will not do the whole Monty Python thing).

    For example, if I cut down a tree that belongs to nobody (say I have landed on an island – which no one has ever found before) I have committed no crime (the tree is not an agent – it does not have agency “free will”). Also if I knock down a tree (that does belong to someone) accidentially I have not comitted a crime – although I may be liable for the damage I have, accidentally, caused.

    To pretend that there can be political libertarianism without the nonaggression principle is like pretending there can be Hamlet without the Prince – it simply will not do.

    Now one can argue over the nonaggression principle (minarchists and anarchocapitalists do argue – endlessly) but one can not do without it, and still truthfully claim to be a libertarian. And, I repeat, there is no dispute that it applies to private criminals (private violators or bodies and goods) as much as it does to governments.

    Kevin Carson is a supporter of crime – on a vast scale. He may not have actually committed any crimes yet – but he has made it clear (many times) that he would if he could (there is no large scale business that he does not want to take, by force, not “just” farm and ranches – but manufacturing and service enterprises also). He has even used the language of crime (and without irony) “plunder” – “let the looting begin” and so on.

    For example in relation to the savage crowd in Egypt – who not “only” attacked property (and please do not give me the “justly acquried” argument – that crowd could not have cared less about how title was arrived at, all such scum want is “plunder” and “loot” as Kevin knows well – and SUPPORTS). But also gang raped Laura Logan – claiming that she was Jewish (she is not – not that it should matter if she was).

    Therefore to claim that Kevin Carson is a libertarian is absurd. One might as well claim that the fanatical socialist “Tony” Benn is a libertarian.

    I repeat one does not need a state to violate persons (bodies) and goods of agents – i.e. to be a criminal.

    And if one supports that, then one is not a libertarian.

    That is the point of the nonaggression principle.

    The supporter of theft, rape and murder is NOT a libertarian.

    The anarchocapitalist would not disagree with me – they want anarchy, not chaos. No state – but the persons and possessions of agents respected (not violated).

    Nor what is what I have written the consequence of my “reactionary” Christian faith.

    On the contrary, Randian Objectivists (strong and proud athiests) would agree with every word I have just typed – and some fellow Christians would not.

  34. I’ve given up on throwing away precious moments of my life in rational argument with Mr. Marks, because no matter how many times I rub his nose in what I actually said, and my evidence for it, he continues to make the same insane accusations.

    But to accuse me of putting out a call — “without irony” — to “let the looting to begin” is a new low.

    He’s the only person I’ve ever encountered who actually took that title as a call for looting on my part — as opposed to a characterization the practical import of U.S. policy in Egypt. I came very close to making the title “Let the Corporate Looting Begin.” I suppose Mr. Marks would have interpreted that as my support for the looting of Egypt by large corporations. I challenge anyone to click on the link and compare the content and title to Mr. Marks’ interpretation. I’ll let this speak for itself regarding his reading comprehension and the value of the rest of his large body of “commentary” on my work.

    Paul Marks is the Emily Latella of the libertarian blogosphere.

  35. I find it curious that Paul believes “only a small area” of the United States ever had an open field system. I don’t consider the 160 million acres — nearly half the area of England in its entirety — in the western US that are “managed” under an open grazing rights system for livestock ranchers to this very day to be “only a small area.”

    I agree with Paul that libertarianism is more than just opposition to the state … but opposition to the state is certainly libertarianism’s primary political expression, at which it is possible to arrive from any number of premises, including any of various interpretations of the non-aggression principle.

    The thing about Carson is that he DOES operate from the non-aggression principle, apparently more consistently than IanB or Paul, who see some feature of modern society they like, then argue:

    a) That because they like it, it must have arisen through means consistent with the non-aggression principle; and/or

    b) That even if it didn’t arise through means consistent with the non-aggression principle, it would have arisen no matter what, so no biggie; and/or

    c) Hey, don’t you get that they like it? STFU with the inconvenient historical facts already.

    Paul, you may not consider “justly acquired” to be important. I do.

    If you walk into my house and take a television that I justly acquired from its producers or someone they had in turn sold it to, you’re a burglar and I’ll shoot you down where you stand.

    If you walk into my house and take your television that I stole, or bought from someone who stole it, you’re just reclaiming your property and have every right to gun me down if I attempt to stop you.

    While it’s probably impossible to undo every injustice ever committed — such as the theft of land from those “tenant farmers” who were its rightful owners because they mixed their labor with it, regardless of what some “divine right” asshole claimed — that doesn’t mean we can’t ponder past injustices and their effects, and suggest current and future remedies to and safeguards against such injustices.

    That Carson is a libertarian, even — especially! — on the definitions handed out by Paul, is quite simply beyond reasonable doubt.

    Obviously that doesn’t mean he’ll agree with every other libertarian on every topic (lock two libertarians in a room with one question and they’ll come out an hour later with three equally irrefutable but mutually exclusive answers, all based on the non-aggression principle).

    Hell, he even disagrees with me on some significant issues, which is unusual since as we all know I am always right about everything.

  36. A “new low” sunbeam?

    You made it perfectly clear that you supported the smashing up of shops, and the stealing of farms and other enterprises (whether they were owned by companies or by single individuals). Your excuse was improper title – i.e. that a virgin trail of title could not be established going back for all time (an excuse which, as we both know, applies to virtually all property on the planet Earth – with the possible exception of some farms in Iceland).

    And you also made specifially clear that you supported the mobs in the street – and some of your words of support of said mob, were written AFTER the mass attack on Laura Logan. The words of these people (for example there is extreme hatred of Jews) are easy to find out – it is impossible to believe that you did not know what sort of people you were supporting.

    As for Egypt itself.

    Did you denounce the revolution of 1952 in your artricles?

    Did you denoucne the mass nationalization under N?

    Did you denounce the destruction of large scale farms and their replacement with penny packet plots that could not possibly feed the people of Egypt?

    No – you denounced the (very minor) move AWAY from this statism – the moderate move away from statism under Sadat and Mubarak.

    You did not denounce them for not going far enough (for example for not getting rid of the restrictions on farms and for not getting rid of the restictions on the distribution trade – which prevented large scale private companies really getting involved).

    No, you denounced them for doing what little good they did do.

    Because this was selling out to “big business”.

    In short your position was the exact opposite of a libertarian one – but dressed up in libertarian LANGUAGE (which is what you do).

    You are bad Kevin – all bad. And it is my duty to point it out (because you falsely claim to be a libertarian – as a bit of “entryism”) – so I do.

    Whether you are pretending that the IMF and World Bank (in reality set up by the dynamic duo of Soviet Agent Dexter White, and Cambridge leftist J.M. Kenyes) were for the benefit of rich “capitalists” in America, or in anything else you do.

    There is a smeamless web of vileness about you – which is actually quite impressive.

    Impressive because most people (including me) are really a smudge – a mixture of good and bad (a bit of a mess). It is actually interesting to encounter someone who is all bad – someone has no good about them at all.

    Sort of like a photographic negative – at least the reference to it in the Norwegian play.

  37. Thomas – if (and I mean IF) you are going to define “justly acquried” as a virgin land title going back to all time, then we are just going to have agree to disagree.

    After all (for example) even giving the Black Hills back to the Sioux would not achieve this – because they took the area from the Crow (and they took it from someone else). And “take” did not mean pay for with a voluntarily agreed price – it meant smashing lots of people on the head.

    South Dakota is possibly the least statist State in the United States (in some ways) – but no, it is not good enough, give the land “back” to the indians (which indians?). And of course, it is not even really to indians.

    Indians (sorry “native Americans” or “first nations”) are not different from other people. Give the land to Indians and some will prosper and some will not – some will end up big farmers and ranchers, and some will end up with nothing.

    That is always the way of it – even if someone takes land unjustly, it does not stay in the family (if they are no good), because they go bankrupt (how many of the aristocratic “Norman” families of England really are Norman – very few, most are Anglo Saxons, who bought up bankrupt estates or married heiress of useless families, and changed their names to seem aristocratic, Mr Smith buys the …… estate and suddenly he is Fitzwhatever, or the Paxtons go from being Anglo Saxon peasants to an “aristocratic family” because they bought land and wanted to change their family history).

    Race does not matter – not in the end.

    That is why the left (including the “mutalists”) do not want indians to own the land – not as INDIVIDUALS.

    No it must be as a tribe – with lots of noble people (them) on top, doing good.

    You can see how much “good” they do – have a good hard look at the reservations, with their tribal councils and so on.

    I repeat private land owned by Indians does as well as land owned by individuals of any other race – but communal land is a bust.

    You can even see it in photographs taken from the air.

    Side by side – with the same access to roads and water (and so on), the private indian land will be well looked after, the communal land will be a desert – inhabited by drunks and drug addicts, waiting for their next welfare cheque.

    That is the difference – not race, but ownership (real ownership – not communal “ownership”).

    And just title defined as vigin title going back to the start of all time (i.e. an impossible definition to live up to) has not got a freaking thing to do with it.

    I remember (years ago) checking whether it was just the Normans that Kevin hated – the Norman Conquest was a thousand years ago, but let us say a thousand years does not give “just title”.

    So I tried some Anglo Saxon titles on him (there are still a few) – but no support for them either.

    No doubt that was because of the evil Anglo Saxon invasions in the 5th century AD – and if you believe that is really the reason, then you will believe anything.

    Take the example of Iceland – supposedly that actually does fit the virgin title going back to first farmers bit (at least in some areas of the land).

    Do you really think that Kevin would not find some excuse to hit these farmers (and manufacturers and so on – because some of the land is used for other things now) if he had the chance?

    If you really think that Kevin would not (that he is a libertarian – just a “left libertarian”) then I have a nice bridge to sell you.

  38. Sorry to break in here, but we seem to be going over old ground[1].

    Since Kevin is back, could we get a definitive statement on an important issue? Do you believe that there is a general overproduction under state capitalism? I’d like Kevin to answer this please, rather than somebody answer for him.

    [1] That’s a joke there, that is.

  39. At the risk of engaging myself in a tar-baby of a debate that will only be read by the three people who keep obsessively coming back to this thread, I believe there is a general glut of investment capital and of mass-production industrial capacity under state capitalism. The state, by enforcing artificial scarcity rents and artificial property rights, shifts income from classes with a relatively higher propensity to consume to classes with a relatively higher propensity to save and invest, leading to an artificially created problem of overaccumulation and underconsumption.

    Make of that what you will.

    BTW, your very phrasing of the issues of contention between us, and the tacit assumptions behind that phrasing, is my main reason for believing you misapprehend my argument. You equate, without justification, “industry” and “modern production methods” with “mass production,” when it is precisely technological developments like cheap general-purpose CNC machine tools that is driving the shift toward industrial decentralization. You equate the greater efficiency of industrial agriculture per man-hour with greater efficiency per se, when in fact it is output per acre that is the bottleneck for land-poor Third World subsistence producers — and it is demonstrably true, as backed up by much evidence quoted in my work, that intensive raised-bed horticulture is by far the most efficient form of production in terms of output per unit of area. Time and again, your “refutation” of my arguments reflects an unstated — and unjustified — background assumption about what those arguments are, based on your own preconceptions.

    BTW, I’d like to thank Mr. Marks for my next book’s cover blurb:

    “You are bad Kevin – all bad. And it is my duty to point it out (because you falsely claim to be a libertarian – as a bit of “entryism”) – so I do….
    “There is a smeamless web of vileness about you – which is actually quite impressive.
    “Impressive because most people (including me) are really a smudge – a mixture of good and bad (a bit of a mess). It is actually interesting to encounter someone who is all bad – someone has no good about them at all.”

    Bingo. The best I can do from the standpoint of playing to the galleries — if there are actually any lurkers here — is simply to poke this guy a bit and then let him do his stuff. You can almost hear the throats clearing and the chairs scooting away from this poor wretch, to escape the palpable waves of insanity that bake off him like radioactivity.

  40. Paul,

    You seem to be intent upon creating disagreements where none exist:

    “f (and I mean IF) you are going to define ‘justly acquried’ as a virgin land title going back to all time, then we are just going to have agree to disagree.”

    Yes, I do in fact define “justly acquired” as “justly acquired.” But we don’t have to disagree, since I’ve already stipulated that I don’t believe it’s feasible to magically “correct” all past injustices.

    I don’t think for a minute, for example, that we’re going to connect, and restore, the Enclosed plots of land, each to a direct descendant of its tenant, let alone restore pre-Norman property relations in England. I doubt we’re even going to sort out the correct title to property that … changed hands … in 1948 Palestine. (the Black Hills might get returned to the Sioux, though — that’s actually a somewhat simpler case in certain respects, with much of the land being “communal” at one end and “public” at the other between identifiable continuing entities with an extant treaty ).

    That does not mean that we can’t look back at particular happenings andsay “well, that was bullshit, let’s not do that again.”

  41. Thomas – I apologize if I have implied that you are in disagreement with me.

    Clearly it is unjust to turn up at someone’s home or place of business and say “well the person your great grandfather bought this place from acquried it unjustly – so it is not yours”.

    Again I apologize if I in any way implied that your position was that it was just to do this.

    My point was that people who say it is just to take by force someone’s property (because the property was taken by some other person many years ago) do not really want to hand the property back to any original owner (or someone whose forefather was an owner), it is all a political scam.

    A cover for the true agenda – which is communalism (or whatever word they want to use).

    Of course we are all waiting for Kevin’s specific response to the specific questions he was asked (and not by me). The questions about the Marxist doctrine he came out with – whether he really believes in this Marxist doctrine or not.

    My guess is that there will be no clear specific response to the questions.

  42. Paul,

    In my view, specific injustices require specific redress, which tends to become impossible over long periods of time as heirs/assignees/purchasers, etc. replace the original owners/thieves. I don’t have any specific formula for calculating the point at which it becomes silly to regard an allegedly corrective process as so disconnected from reality as to be silly, but I believe there is such a point.

    On the other hand, just because the capitalist Enclosure lobbyists got away with it and got their factory labor conscripts, I don’t see why that means I should still be subsidizing roads and “intellectual property” monopoly enforcement for their great-great-great-grandchildren.


    You and IanB keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  43. Well, that’s pretty obvious Thomas. For someone who called Von Mises a Marxist, you seem to be speaking word salad.

    History is full of injustices. We are all the product of those injustices. But also of justice. We are the result of evil plundering wars and just defensive wars. It is intrinsically impossible to unpick history such that who is a winner and who is a loser from all that can be ascertained. You can’t change history. We are all the result of it, that is all. Should I pay reparations because my ancestors conquered Africans, or be paid reparations because my ancestors suffered under capitalists, barons, monarch, the Saxon invasion?

    They are all dead and gone.

    We don’t know what transport systems would have developed in a free market, because it didn’t exist and could not have possibly existed. But this idea that only the bourgeoisie benefit from roads is assinine. Do you really believe that? Do you really believe you would be better off sealed in a village with no transport to the outside world?

    Come on Thomas. Even you must see the absurdity of this one-sided review of history when faced with that prospect.

  44. Ian,

    “For someone who called Von Mises a Marxist”

    Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick. If aren’t capable of detecting sarcasm when it’s that plain, you should stop debating in public until you’ve completed an “English as a second language” course.

    “But this idea that only the bourgeoisie benefit from roads is assinine. Do you really believe that?”

    Of course not. If I believed anything like that, I’d say so … and I haven’t. Everyone benefits from the roads.

    But everyone does not pay a pro rata share of the expense of the roads based on how much they benefit from those roads. You and I pay much more in tax than is required to cover the wear and tear our Volvos and Buicks put on those roads, so that Wal-Mart can pay much less tax than is required to cover the costs of its trucks’ road use. Then Wal-Mart pretends it’s doing us a favor because the marked price on that apple it trucked in from 2000 miles is away on our dime is a nickel less than marked price on the locally grown one .

  45. “Marxist” – I was not talking about you Thomas.

    I was pointing at that “overproduction” (etc) stuff that Kevin came out with.

    As for Marxism – the doctrines of Karl Marx and his followers.

    Of course these are not entirely fxed. Karl (like those who came after him) basically came out with anything he thought would serve the collectivist cause at a given moment – even if it contradicted something he had already said. The aim (collectivism) was (and is) what is important, the tactics (the theories of history and economics and .,…) were just means to the end. And the man was quite prepared to misquote people – to reverse the meaning of what they actually said (if, by doing so, he could serve his objective).

    This was noted as far back as the 188os (that Cambridge study that Paul Johnson is so fond of) and did not just involve Gladstone (the most famous of the Karl Marx reverse-the-meaning tricks), but lots of other people also.

    After all even Kevin Carson can quote Ludwig Von Mises – just take something out of context, and/or play some other games, and you can claim that someone believed something very different (indeed opposite) to what he did believe.

    It is not (with Karl and his followers) just misquoting Gladstone to make it appear that he held that industrialization forced down wages – it is just about everything.

    A bit like this “E.D. Kane” guy.

    With his “free market unionionism” and so on. He manages to slip in the name “Kevin Carson” into a quite a few of his articles .

    Fred and Karl used to boast how they wrote favourable reviews (and slipped in references into articles) under various fake names.

    Even pretending to be pro free market – but managing to say that this or that (Marxist) doctrine was important, valuable……

    I wonder if there really is a man called “E.D. Kane”.

    There may be – but it would be interesting to find out.

    It is like old times.

  46. “Of course we are all waiting for Kevin’s specific response to the specific questions he was asked (and not by me).”

    But of course! I’d like nothing better than to be catechized to the satisfaction of a barking mad lunatic who pushes his belongings around in a shopping cart and obsessively stalks the comments under every blog post in which my name is mentioned, because he thinks I’m Dracula and he’s Van Helsing! And in a comment thread in which a grand total of six people have participated, no less! How many hours would you like me to set aside?

  47. Stop being a tit, Thomas. The von Mises quote as sarcasm makes no sense. It just comes out of the blue. It came across as some kind of bizarre projection, not uncommon among Carsonites. Maybe you need to take a course in making yourself understood.

    And then, oh lawks, back to the conspiracy theory and, of course, that old bete noire of the progressives; “Wal Mart”. Wouldn’t be complete without Wal Mart would we? Don’t forget Big Tobacco and Big Oil, while you’re at it.

    You’re still missing the reciprocity of the cheap apple, Thomas. The consumer gets a cheaper apple. The consumer benefits. Where does that fit in your equation? Are you really of the view that the cheapest apple grower lives next door to you; and that that is true for everybody else in the world?

  48. They were NOT my questions Kevin (if it is me that your insults are aimed at). They were Ian’s questions.

    You are clearly still thinking up a way to write a “reply” that dodges the issue.

  49. Okay, now I’m confused. Is Freemarketanticapitalist Kevin, or is it somebody else? I though the reply from Freemarketanticapitalist in which he declared a general glut was Kevin Carson.


  50. On the roads point:

    Well Warren Harding held that whilst Federal government road building was constitutional (“post roads”) that did not mean it was a good idea.

    I am not a great fan of using tax money for this either (even in Britain).

    Indeed I would be happy to see a return to a turnpikes (with modern technology of course) – toll roads, competing (on equal terms) witth railways and canals. Of course – no double charging, if you have to pay tolls it is unjust for government to also have road tax, car tax, petrol tax…..

    However, roads are hardly a Walmart plot.

    Companies adapt to the conditions they find – if there were no out of town free roads then they would operate in town (most likely near the railway station – for ease of transporting goods in bulk, if the roads out of town were not good enough for big trucks).

    By the way – three of the four major supermarkets in Kettering (including Asda-Walmart) are in town anyway. Only one, Tesco’s (there are two small Tesco stores in town – but the big one is what used to be just outside of town before the A14 was built), could be described as being even mildly “out of town”.

    And, no, the A14 (the big road near where the Tesco supermarket is) was not a Tesco plot forced on the taxpayers (just in case anyone thinks that is how things worked).

    By the way there are two small general stores within a short walk of the out of town Tesco supermarket.

    Some people just prefer shopping in a small shop – even if the prices are higher.

    So these stores survive.

    Most of the coop stores have closed.

    But the Coop used to be big.

    In a little town just north of Kettering (still within the border of the borough) the Coop dominated – till East Midlands Coop closed the store and refused to let anyone else open up on the land (they chose for it to be wasteland instead).

    “Careing, sharing Coop” – my backside. Of course they have the right to run their property any way they see fit (a coopertive is just as voluntary as a corporation is – both are made up of the voluntary cooperation of individual people), but I do not like the way they boast of being more “caring” than other people (which they do – in endless ad campaigns) whilst (in real life) treating the community like dirt (which they did – there was no money in what they did in Desborough, it was done out of SPITE, if we can not make money here we are going to keep the site empty….. so that no one can make money here, they actually cost themselves money by not selling).

    As for in the town (Kettering) proper.

    First the Coop moved location.

    Their new location was still in town – but down a side road, and alth0ugh the store was large (just as big a site as the other supermarkets) it was hard to see – partly because it had a high fence and trees almost totally surrounding it.

    Only one way in to the site – and that was mostly steps.

    The place always seemed to have more staff than customers (at least the few times I went in there).

    It was as if they did not want customers – that they actively resented them.

    But perhaps it was just incompetence.

    Anyway they are gone now – they sold the store to Asda-Walmart (at least they did not do to Kettering proper what they did to Desborough – close down but leave a waste land). And Asda-Walmart has changed things a bit – got rid of some of stuff that the Coop put up to (de fact0 – if not by intenti0n) hide the store, and so on.

  51. “A bit like this ‘E.D. Kane’ guy.
    “With his ‘free market unionionism’ and so on. He manages to slip in the name “Kevin Carson” into a quite a few of his articles .
    “Fred and Karl used to boast how they wrote favourable reviews (and slipped in references into articles) under various fake names.
    “Even pretending to be pro free market – but managing to say that this or that (Marxist) doctrine was important, valuable……
    “I wonder if there really is a man called ‘E.D. Kane’.
    “There may be – but it would be interesting to find out.”

    Actually I write batshit insane accusations in the comment threads of blog posts under the fake name Paul Marks. It’s part of my strategy of tarring all my critics as raving paranoids about two steps away from being carried off by the men in white coats.

  52. We are not going to get a (rational) reply from Kevin – so I will write one.

    “I did not get the idea of over production (and so on) from Karl Marx – I got it from Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who wrote about it long before Karl Marx”.

    Of course I would not actually believe you if you wrote that, and it does not deal with the problem that the doctrines themselves (regardless of who invented them) are false…..

    But it is a better reply than anything you will come up with – so do not say I never give you any presents Kevin.

  53. Ian B.: No, that comment in which I specifically responded to your specific question was actually someone else posting under the fake name “Kevin Carson.” He was doing it to make Paul Marks look crazy, and cause you more confusion.

    To quote George Costanza: Don’t you see? He’s just doing it to confuse Lloyd Braun!

  54. Is that the best reply to Ian’s questions (about your support for, false, Marxist economic doctrines) you can come up with Kevin?

    I think you had better pretend that my reply (that you really got the false ideas from Edward Gibbon Wakefield) was yours.

    Of course, I repeat, it does not deal with the problem that the doctrines themselves (overproduction and so on) are false – but truth is of no importance to you. Or rather you define the word “truth” as whatever is for the good of the cause (the “fundemental truth”).

  55. I agree with Kevin that arguing with Paul Marks is a waste of time. It is a waste of time for any number of reasons. But here are some:

    1) He has all the time in the world, and we have not.

    2) He is generally incapable of coherent argument. On the occasions when he does argue coherently, I have no evidence, but cannot avoid wondering if someone else has been posting under his name, or at least editing his posts.

    3) Despite his general incoherency, and his frequent illiteracy, he seems to be locked into some delusion that he is a modern Edmund Burke, denouncing the rationalism of those he dislikes. He will never accept that his opponents may be wrong, or, more likely, that he may have misunderstood them. So far as he is concerned, they are – and must always be – the embodiment of evil.

    4) It is impossible to argue with him for any length of time without giving in to the temptation to mock him; and it is wrong to mock people like Paul Marks. I have often written very cuttingly about him. This has given me a few minutes of giggled pleasure, always followed by shame when I think of him in the flesh.

    For these reasons, and others, I have stopped answering his posts. I do not normally even acknowledge them.

    Now, I am currently 150,000 words into a new book. I have another 10,000 to go. I must then write another book by December of about 80,000 words, and then start work on another of about 160,000. Like Kevin, I will say that arguing with Paul Marks is a waste of time that is in short supply.

  56. Ian,

    You write:

    “Stop being a tit, Thomas. The von Mises quote as sarcasm makes no sense.”

    Right. Because Marx is so well-known for emphasizing the role of prices as information, and von Mises isn’t known for that at all.

    That was sarcasm again, in case you missed it.

    “You’re still missing the reciprocity of the cheap apple, Thomas. The consumer gets a cheaper apple.”

    Maybe, maybe not.

    That’s the problem — when a considerable part of the price is not disclosed, but instead hidden in the consumer’s tax bill, he doesn’t know if that “cheaper” subsidized apple is as cheap as the competing non-subsidized apple or not.

    If he’s thinking about it, he knows that the subsidized apple is more expensive than the price tag says it is, but it’s usually difficult to tell how much more expensive.n And of course the welfare queens telling him the apple is “cheap” because they were able to hide part of the price from him are counting on him not thinking about it.

  57. “It is impossible to argue with him for any length of time without giving in to the temptation to mock him; and it is wrong to mock people like Paul Marks. I have often written very cuttingly about him. This has given me a few minutes of giggled pleasure, always followed by shame when I think of him in the flesh.”

    Point well taken, Sean.

  58. Added notes:

    1) Anyone who doesn’t understand that there’s no inherent contradiction in the phrase “free market unionism” obviously doesn’t understand any of the three words making up the phrase very well, either.

    2) I’ve never thought of myself as a “Carsonite.” How would one define the term? I disagree with Carson on significant issues including but not limited to theory of value (I’m 100% Austrian subjectivist, he argues for a modified labor theory of value), money (he’s a mutualist; I find that intriguing, but I’m still something resembling a gold bug myself), etc.

    On the other hand, Carson has done very solid work on numerous topics, including but not limited to intellectual property, actually existing capitalism as a repudiation of a free market, etc. I’ve learned a great deal from him, I’m proud to call him a colleague, and whether or not I’m a “Carsonite,” I consider anyone who thinks that’s an insult to be an abject idiot. So fuck off.

  59. Far be it from me to say so, but it seems that some people in this thread are using the issue of “Paul Marx” to avoid discussing the issue of “Kevin Carson”.

    For instance, Sean declared that Kevin is not promoting a belief in a “general glut”. Kevin has now openly stated that he is promoting a belief in a general glut. Perhaps Sean would like to address that issue, rather than Paul Marx.

    Now there are important issues here. Fundamental issues. Sean seems earlier on to have been trying to claim that Kevin doesn’t believe this, that and the other, despite Sean having himself enumerated those divers beliefs in this, that and the other in his now legendary review of “Organisation Theory” on this very blog.

    Kevin Carson is quite plainly- I was going to say, “anti-industry”, but it might be better to say, “anti-everything”. Thomas L Knapp is attempting also to file the corners off Carson’s theories with his, “i’m not saying this, I’m not saying that” approach. As I said before, this gets to be like trying to prove that Andrea Dworkin believed that all sex is rape.

    Carson knows what he believes, but he knows that outside his echo chamber of followers, his ideas will sound lunatic. So he is coy in presenting them. Nonetheless, we can say with confidence that his general thesis is that all the apparent advantages and methods of industrial capitalism are illusions created by State intervention; factories are not more efficient than artisan shops, the division of labour is not more efficient, non-local trade does not bring cheaper and better goods to the consumer, industrial farming is not more efficient than subsistence farming and on and on it goes. Thomas is presenting this as “we don’t know because of the subsidies” but that is not Carson’s position at all, and we all bloody well know it.

    Carson believes that the subsidies etc are entirely responsible for any apparent advantages in industrial capitalism, methodology, organisation and so on and, he believes with all his heart, that in his imaginary stateless society, the free market would prefer that we all live on locally grown turnips, hand craft iPads in a local workshop, and would still have time for blogging in the afternoon.

    Now I do wish that you people would be honest about this instead of all this hee-hawing and “prove this” and “prove that” and “I never said this” and “I never said that”.

    Let’s have a bit of honesty, here. And less about Paul bloody Marx.

  60. IanB,

    I’m not going to defend Carson where I don’t agree with him. I’ve tried to make it clear where that’s the case. If you consider that to be trying to “round edges off” of whatever Carson believes, then I think you’re having a (n understandable, given the nature of threaded comments) problem distinguishing between Carson and myself.

    My argument with you goes back to your initial characterization of Carson’s views:

    Carson is typical of the anglospheric post-calvinist romanticism, which postulates some kind of return to the simple life, a plot of land and a cow, the artisan in his workshop, whatever, and despises industrialisation.

    Nobody who’s spent any significant amount of time studying what Carson has actually written could rationally conclude any of the above.

    A second area of argument is whether or not Carson is a “Marxist.” That’s not quite as ridiculous as the first claim, because people do tend to forget that Marx was neither the originator nor the only popularizer of a Labor Theory of Value — but it’s still a claim that ceases to hold water on even the most cursory examination of Carson’s cited sources and openly practiced methodology.

  61. It is true that Karl Marx did not invent the Labour Theory of Value – taking some ill judged words of Adam Smith (words in the latter part of his life – when Smith had forgotten his own previous understanding that there is no “paradox of value” and so on) David Ricardo did that.

    It is often forgotten that most economists rejected Ricardo’s ideas in this area (the standard story is that they carried all before them till the 1870s – which is just not true).

    Many of the French economists did not accept the Labour Theory of Value and neither did Ferrara (the leading Italian economist of the time), in the German speaking world neither Rau (the main economist) or Gossen (lesser know – but rather more important) did.

    Even in the English speaking world most likely more economists opposed the ideas than supported them. Richard Whately shows them to be absurd (in only a couple of pages of his lectures) and Samual Bailey wrote a full scale (and overwhelming) refutation.

    However, with the publication of J.S. Mill’s “Principles of Political Economy” the wheel turns in favour of the Labour Theory of Value in the English speaking world.

    Mill writes in defence of David Ricardo and his own father (James Mill), but he does NOT do so in the way one might expect – i.e. refute the attacks made upon the theory.

    On the contrary J.S. Mill adopts the Sean Gabb tactic of ignoring the specific attacks (not attempting to refute them) and just writes that “the theory of value is settled” (etc), pretending that everyone (at least everyone who mattered) agreed with the the theory.

    This tactic is effective (that sort of tactic often is effective – which is why Sean is wise to use it). If one has a weak case – do not attempt to defend it, just declare that everyone (who matters) agrees with the case, and simply sneer at anyone who does not agree.

    Sadly I have rather LESS (not more) time on my hands for writing that Sean does – but then lying is not something that seems to bother him. Indeed (in his essay on the history of the Libertarian Alliance) he declares its mission is “agitprop”.

    “Agitprop” is a Marxist term meaning “agitation/propaganda” i.e. LYING for the sake of some (supposedly) higher or fundemental truth.

    I am NOT saying that Sean Gabb is a Marxist – I do not have a clue what the man believes in (if anything). But he clearly finds it amusing to tell lies and indeed (once one looks at the use of certain words such as “agitprop”) is actually boasting that he does.

    However, back to Kevin Carson……

    David Ricado did not draw anti property concluisions from the Labour Theory of Value (although when he and James Mill started to talk about “free trade in land” they came very close to it – although that was not just about the Labour Theory of Value, there was a lot of other stuff mixed in there as well).

    The so called “Ricardian Socialists” did draw such conclusions and about manufacturing enterprises as well as landed estates. They understood that the same arguments that could be used against the so called “Landed Interest” could also be used against manufacturers (indeed against just about anyone).

    Karl Marx understood this also – which is why he adopted the theory and never discarded it (even after its destruction by Carl Menger and others after 1870).

    Karl Marx had certain philosophical opinions – and he used arguments drawn from history or economics as WEAPONS.

    It did not matter to him if the historical or economic theories were true or false – what mattered to him was that they were useful (in this he was rather like the American Pragmatists of some years later, with their contempt for objective truth).

    Karl Marx also was quite prepared to “cite” sources as holding wildly different opinions from those they actually held – as I pointed out his basic dishonesty in this area was not confined to the misquotation of Gladstone (the pretence that Gladstone said that wages were falling – when in fact Gladstone had said wages were rising) it covers very many other people also.

    Karl Marx cites people in the way that Kevin Carson does – he twists them so that they agree with him (on this or that matter). After all Kevin Carson even cites Ludwig Von Mises. A person who, in real life, held opinions about as far from Kevin Carson (on just about everything) as it is possible to be.

    Why is Kevin Carson much closer to Karl Marx than he is to David Ricardo?

    Two reasons.

    Firstly because he uses the theory as a WEAPON.

    David Ricardo was interested in the science (in the old sense of science as a “body of knowledge”) of economics. Kevin sees it as a means to an end – he is not concerned with whether this or that theory is actually true, what he wants is for the theory to be useful in his political campaign (that is obvious from the way he writes).

    Now Daivd Ricardo was also a political person (and so am I), but Ricardo really cared about being right (even though he was mistaken in this particular theory), he wanted to help build up the science (the subject) of econ0mics FOR ITS OWN SAKE (as well as for political reasons).

    Kevin could not care less about that stuff – no more than Karl did.

    But there is also a second reason.

    It is not just that both Kevin and Karl use the labour theory of value – they use it as a weapon in the same cause.

    The cause is the cause of undermining the moral legitimacy of property.

    All of Kevin’s work (not just the Labour Theory of Value stuff) is for this purpose – to lead people to the opinion that the property of others (their land, their factories, their shops – whatever) is not “justly” owned.

    Karl had exactly the same objective.

    As for Kevin being an anarchist rather than a socialist…..

    Karl also taught that the state would go (although the actual words “wither away” are from Fred – Karl agreed with them). The end state would be happy people…..

    Hunting in the morning, and fishing in the afternoon, and being critical after dinner – without ever being a hunter, a fisherman or a critic ……..

    Rather like “mutalism”.

    No doubt there are differences – but the tactic (make property owners the subject of hostilty – make people think property is not justly owned) and the objective (destroy the property owners and overthrow civil society – or at least the “existing basis of society”) is the same.

    The result will also be the same – a mixture of blood soaked tyranny and chaos. With, of course, a collapse in the material standards of life – mass starvation and so on.

    I hold all this to be a bad thing – something to be opposed.

    Particularly as it is a “false flag” operation.

    The enemies of the market (Kevin Carson and his allies) are passing themselves off as friends of the market, indeed even calling themselves “libertarians”.

    In the terrible times that are at hand it will be hard (very hard) for civil society to survive – it will certainly not surive unless its enemies are understood for what they are.

    Having enemies pass themselves off as friends (cited in Forbes magazine and so on) is, thererfore, a bad thing – a very bad thing indeed.

  62. Still let us be specific.

    Kevin Carson makes the historical claim that the IMF and World Bank were designed to benefit American capitalists.

    This historical claim is false – in reality they were designed (mainly) by the Soviet agent Dexter-White and the Cambridge leftist J.M. Keynes.

    Kevin Carson also makes the economics claim that these institutions were needed to deal with “over production” and “over accumulation” – these economic theories are false (indeed absurd). The basic ideas they are based are false – refuted over and over again (indeed sometimes by the very people that Kevin Carson cites in his own writings).

    I am accused of being nasty (a fair charge – I am not a nice person), and of assuming the worst about Kevin – assuming wickedness when he is just honestly mistaken.

    The problem with the “honestly mistaken” theory is that it does not hold water.

    How could a man who cites Ludwig Von Mises (and others) possibly HONESTLY come out with stuff like “overproduction” and “overaccumilation” in the way that Kevin does?

    But let say the economics is honest (although how can it be?) but mistaken.

    How about the history – for that is clearly false as well.

    “But Kevin did not know it was false….”

    Then he would have reacted quite differently.

    He would have said “well I hate your guts, but thanks for putting me right on this point about the IMF and so on, I just got it wrong this time….”.

    And he would write corrections to Forbes magazine (and so on).

    But Kevin did NOT respond in this way.

    He has not rejected the Labour Theory of Value stuff (or the rest of the false economcs) and he has not rejected the false history either.

    There is no honest intellectual error at work here – Kevin Carson is clearly a liar. He is, clearly, engaged in “agitprop” – i.e. lying in order to whip up hatred of property owners.

    So the next (obvious question) is “why is he lying – what are these lies supposed to achieve”. That has been my question ever since I first read “Contract Feudalism” (put into my conference pack at the Libertarian Alliance conference some years ago). I wanted to find out why someone would write things that were not only untrue, but also (because of the very authors he cited) he must know were untrue. The objective did not take much working out, it was rather plain – to undermine the moral position of property owners (the basic objective of all Cong – or whatever name they choose to wear).

    The wonderful new society will be…. well “wonderful”. So it is worth telling a few lies (or even lots and lots of lies) in order to achive this new society – for this new society is the “higher” or “fundemental” truth. No matter than the wonderful new society has always failed in the path (regardless of the specific form it took – whether Indian Tibal Councils whose control of Indian land is so bad it can be spotted from thousands of feet in the air, or Robert Owen style communities, or the various Marxist regimes – whether socialist or, like Pol Pot’s Cambodia, straight into the “Advanced Egalitarian Stage”, or whatever), no “mutualism” will be quite different from these other efforts to build a wonderful new society – and it will work.

    We just have to sweep away the big corporations, and the big owner manged enterprises as well – and…….

    I repeat that I accept that I am nasty person – but surely even a nice person would think along the lines I have described. The evidence demands it.

    The problem for a libertarian is that we also have radical ends – if of a very “reactionary” sort.

    In that as statism has grown so much that even to roll back the statism of the last few decades would be a vast change (even in Britain the situation in 1961 was vastly more free, in economic terms, than in 2011 – and to change, for example, the legal system back to the way it was only a few decades ago would mean vast change).

    And (of course) we would not stop there. For example even if the state was the size and scope it was a century ago I would still be saying…..

    “Too big….” and pointing at such things as the state domination of education……

    So the radicalism of the change is not the point (with civil society this overgrown by the state – all libertarians are committed to radical change, to radically reduce the size and scope of govenrment), it is the nature of the change that is the problem.

    And the fact that a very unlibertarian objective (not the return to something closer to civil society – but a move to destroy the foundations of civil society) is at the heart of the Kevin Carson project.

    It reminds me of the French Revolution – it is traditional to attack the French Revolution as “taking liverty too far”, but that was NOT the real problem

    The real problem is that French Revolution was not really about liberty being taken too far at all – it was about many things (the desire for plunder, the lust for power, a sincere desire, by some people, to create a more equal order…..) under the mask of using the LANGUAGE of liberty.

    Accept that the Carson project is actually more radical (in the bad sense of the word – for “radical” also has a good sense) than most of the groups involved in the French Revolution (although not all – the Society of Equals group was at least as bad).

  63. Many thanks.

    Of course Kevin and Sean do not care what I think.

    However, Kevin at least makes a point of citeing Mises and so on. He makes a point of mentioning the name of Mises (and other classical liberals and libertarians) and at least implying that he is on the same side as they were.

    This raises the question of whether he really believes what they believed – or not.

    So what did they believe?

    The central point of what Ludwig Von Mises understood to be classical liberalism (whether his historical understanding was correct is another matter – this is just on what he believed it was) was as follows….

    That there was no basic contradiction between the rightly understood economic interests of “the rich” and “the poor” – that the same policies would benefit both, and there was no basic conflict of principle between “captial” and “labour”, between employers and employees.

    By the way even the radical anarchist Murry Rothbard went along with his teacher (Mises) on this.

    They all accepted such things as economies of scale (although, yes, there are also diseconomies of scale – each situation is different) and that large farms and big factories were a good thing (not a bad thing).

    And they held that the long run interests of the farmer or rancher or manufacturer (or service industry person), were not in basic contradiction to those of his employees (or his customers).

    None of the above denies for a moment that lots of businessmen will be happy to take any government subsidies that are going (or that they will not be happy to use government regulations to bash competitors over the head). But it does deny that large scale economic activity would not exist without government subsidy – and it denies that that the great wealth of one person must be the result of the poverty of some other person or persons.

    In the end even the radical Rothbard was a defender of the foundations of civil society – not an enemy of those foundations.

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