On Dissolving the State, and What to Replace It With

by Kevin Carson
On Dissolving the State, and What to Replace It With

The following article was written by Kevin Carson and published on the Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism, March 8th, 2008.

You may have noticed the neat little quote I put at the head of this blog:

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. –P. J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the XIX Century.

That’s a theme I’ve been writing on since I started blogging, starting with this post: “Building the Structure of the New Society Within the Shell of the Old.”

I found some great items on the same general theme in the past week or so:

1. Jim Henley:

To a libertarian, much of what the state does looks like providing crutches or shackles. To an anarchist, I suppose everything the state does looks like that. Crutches are actually important for the injured. If you’re to completely heal, though, you have to give them up at the right time. And some badly injured people are never going to be able to do without them – e.g. my mother with her walker….

So we want to remove most or all crutches and shed most or all shackles, depending on how, for lack of a better term, anarchistic we are. But which shackles and which crutches when? The “liberal” “libertarian” answer is: first take the crutches from those best able to bear their own weight, and remove the shackles from the weak before the strong. So: corporate welfare before Social Security before Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Drug prohibition before marginal income tax rates.

As Jim says, it’s a messed-up state that systematically creates poverty through the enforcement of special privilege, and then uses welfare programs to ameliorate a small part of the poverty and inequality caused by its own policies. “But it’s a messed-up libertarianism that looks at that situation and says, ‘Man, first thing we gotta do is get rid of that welfare!‘” Or as I once put it,

If the privilege remains, statist “corrective” action will be the inevitable result. That’s why I don’t get too bent out of shape about the statism of the minimum wage or overtime laws–in my list of statist evils, the guys who are breaking legs rank considerably higher than the ones handing out government crutches. All too many libertarians could care less about the statism that causes the problems of income disparity, but go ballistic over the statism intended to alleviate it. It’s another example of the general rule that statism that helps the rich is kinda sorta bad, maybe, I guess, but statism that helps the poor is flaming red ruin on wheels.

2. Howard Zinn:

Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice….

In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including a general strike in Minneapolis, a general strike in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils formed all over the country. Desperate people were taking action on their own, defying the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.

3. The Solidarity Economy Network (the subject of this post) now has its own website: The U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN): Supporting & connecting the emerging U.S. solidarity economy movement.

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6 responses to “On Dissolving the State, and What to Replace It With

  1. Stop, with the class bullshit, either we are individuals or we aren’t. If we are, there no list of priorities, there is no lesser evil to be dealt with last, they are all equally deserving of contempt, and should all be abolished whenever possible, regardless of whether this or that is still in place, any destruction of coercion is a good thing.

  2. JFen is correct.

    By “the enforcement of special privilege” Kevin means large scale private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    It is his standard war against landowners, factory owners, and owners of large retail outlets.

    Nor does the Welfare State reduce long term poverty (as Kevin implies – although he does not formally state it) – on the contrary the whole point of the Cloward and Piven project in the 1960s (manipuating the government of the time – and still today) is to increase poverty (or more exactly – dependance on government support) over the years and decades in order to produce long term economic collapse (and thus open the door to the “fundemental transformation” to collectivism).

    The thinking behind the Fabian “Minority Report” a century ago was much the same – although civil society (“capitalism”) has proved far harder to destroy than the Fabians hoped (the rivers of human blood that G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells, Mr and Mrs Webb, and so on, so lusted after, occured in Societ Russia – but not, yet, in Britain).

    There is no natural increase in poverty under “capitalism” (that was a lie of Karl Marx – and it was a lie as he deliberatly misquoted the numbers, and so repeatedly).

    Without government interventionism the levels of poverty seen in 1950s America would steadly have dropped.

    This is not what the Kevins (whether of the Black Flag “anarchist” sort or the Red Flag Marxist sort) wanted at all – hence the desperate efforts to create a ever growing dependent class (via the “Losing Ground” Welfare State – but blaming it on “the capitalists”).

    Otherwise the collectivist desires of the Kevins would have no chance of being achieved.

    Should anyone doubt the above…..;..

    Please note how the Black Flag “Anarchists” happily cooperate with the Red Flag Marxisrts in the “Occupy” movement and in the government unions (especially the teacher unions).

    If they are really “opposites” should they not be fighting?

    Of course in reality they have the same objective – the destruction of large scale private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    The spreading of the old lie that poverty is caused by “grasping landlords” and “greedy capitalists”.

    In truth whether the people who are smashing things and throwing human excrement about, are waving a Black Flag or a Red Flag …………;

    They are all Kevins.

  3. By the way….

    The Crash of 1929 was caused by the credit bubble (i.e. the Federal Reserve low interest policy) of the late 1920s.

    I know of other people (other than Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve – or Alan Greenspan or Ben B, or….) who also believe in a policy to make interest rates lower than REAL SAVERS would lend at.

    And Kevin Carson is one of these “low interest rate” people – so for him to complain about the crash is a bit much.

    As for what turned the crash of 1929 into the Great Depression…..

    Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover did – with his desperate efforts to PREVENT the market clearing (as it had after the 1921 bust).

    To prevent (yes prevent) wages falling – beause Hoover (just as much as any “Strike Threat System” persoh) was victim of the “effective demand” fallacy.

    As for Franklin Roosevelt.

    Had he kept the promises he made in 1932 – i.e. to cut taxes and government spending (as Harding had after the 1921 crash) and to get the government out of the market…… then the economy would have recovered.

    But “FDR” broke his word – and the most intense radio propaganda campaign in history (indeed the first American radio propaganda campaign – as the Woodrow Wilson one of the First World War had been pre radio) convinced 60% of Americans that “moderate” statism was the way to go.

    However, “taking the means of production” (Class War – Kevinism) that was supported by about 2% of Amercans (to judge by the elections of 1932 and 1936).

    Most likely more Americans are in the socialist and “anarchist” camp now.

    So Kevin feels that the hour when he gets to drink human blood (and so on) is close.

    It may be so my dear, it may be so.

    But even if you win (and a lot of people will be shooting back at you) you lose.

    You lose, because your society will not work.

    Economic law is a lot less flexivle than you think it is.

  4. flexivle for flexible (and so on) – oh well, it wil do.

  5. As a viewer of EWTN I suppose I am more favourable to them although, I have not crossed over and joined their ranks (I suppose I am waiting to till the next Archbiship of Canterbury says that God exists “in a very real sense” and declares Pol Pot a role model).

    And even if we are talking about the position on property – the Catholic thought of someone like Thomas Woods seems to be rising in strengh. Somewhere Pope John XXII (for once that is not a typing mistake – I do mean the 22nd not the 23rd) is smileing.

    As are, of course, the School of Salamanca – who Rothbard so admired.