Why I Don’t Much Like Liberals

by Kevin Carson

Why I Don’t Much Like Liberals

Although people like Bill O’Reilly habitually refer to establishment liberals as the “far Left,” they are two very different things.

What we identify as mid-20th century, New Deal liberalism is rooted in the Progressivism of the turn of the 20th century. The Progressives came largely from the white collar managerial-professional classes that controlled large bureaucratic organizations — giant corporations, government agencies, universities, foundations and think tanks — that dominated American society after the Civil War. Many Progressives in the corporate world came from industrial engineering backgrounds. The kinds of people who made up the demographic base of Progressivism saw American society as an extension of the large, hierarchical institutions they managed, and thought society could be managed the same way way an engineer managed industrial processes.

I have a great fondness for the Left, and consider myself part of it. For liberalism I have nothing but contempt. To illustrate the distinction, Woodrow Wilson — a good liberal — virtually liquidated the genuine American Left during and after WWI.

Karl Hess, in Mostly on the Edge, prided himself that while he had occupied positions on the political spectrum ranging from Old Right isolationist to New Left Wobbly, he could truthfully say he’d never in his life been a liberal.

Speaking of the kinds of people who read The Nation and Mother Jones — people whom I consider liberals — Alexander Cockburn (the kind of Leftist who supported gun rights and hated Food Nazis like Michael Bloomberg and Meme Roth) said trying to get the mainstream Left to accept new ideas was “a bit like arriving at a town in the year 1348 with spots on your face saying, ‘Let me in.’”

People like Rachel Maddow, standing in front of the Hoover Dam and calling on America to again do “great things,” and Michael Moore, calling for Detroit to mass produce electric cars and buses, essentially hearken back to mid-20th century liberalism’s mass-production heart of darkness. Even the Green Party was essentially hijacked by liberalism this year, with Jill Stein’s “smart grid” and “Green New Deal” — betraying an almost religious Galbraithian faith in unlimited economies of scale and the virtues of bureaucratic centralism.

But worst of all are professional liberal thought police who instinctively target any form of horizontalism or decentralism as “right wing.” Thomas Frank has been in this business for years, of course. In a recent Twitter exchange with me Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Review, essentially channeled Frank by dismissing the P2P and Free Culture movements as a return to the 1990s Web 1.0 era’s Dotcom enthusiasm. That’s right: Henwood, in a display of intellectual sloppiness that would make Robert Welch proud, conflated Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds with Bill Gates because of a superficial similarity in their rhetoric.

Lately there’s a cottage industry of liberals lumping in any decentralist or horizontalist tendency they don’t like as a Trojan horse for the Right. Mark Ames and Yasha Levine have repeatedly written articles for The Nation dismissing the organized backlash against TSA’s invasive grope-or-peep airport “security” regime as some sort of right-wing astroturf effort by the Koch Brothers.

And the Southern Poverty Law Center has taken to including anarcho-capitalists and voluntaryists in its large, amorphous list of “extremists” (aka “things we don’t like”). My friend Katherine Gallagher (Twitter: @zhinxy) compares them to the circuit riders who used to regale breathless Protestant audiences with prurient tidbits about the Papists like secret tunnels between monasteries and convents, and secret graves full of infant skeletons.

Now, as a left-wing market anarchist — or market libertarian socialist — in the tradition of Benjamin Tucker, I find most anarcho-capitalists disagreeably right-wing and given to pro-corporate apologetics. But the suggestion that David Friedman’s or Murray Rothbard’s ideology is even in the same zip code as that of the Hutaree Militia is essentially an affidavit that one is a damfool.

And get this: The SPLC’s circuit riders identify, as a sign of some anarcho-capitalists’ “extremism,” the fact that they regard the Federalist victory as a coup. Now, I’ve read a whole crop of revisionist historians, from Charles Beard to Merrill Jensen to Howard Zinn, who frame the politics of the 1780s as a class struggle in which the plutocratic interests triumphed with the ratification of the Constitution. I never realized those people were “right-wingers.”

I get the feeling people like Ames, Levine and Mark Potok would dismiss Ivan Illich and Paul Goodman as “right-wingers” for hatin’ on “public education.” They’d put Huey Newton and Robert Williams in the same category as Wayne LaPierre for viewing private firearms as a weapon against oppression.

This is a concentration of pure stoopid so dense as to create its own event horizon.

That’s why I — a far Leftist if there ever was one — don’t like liberals.

33 responses to “Why I Don’t Much Like Liberals

  1. I don’t follow all the twists and turns on this. However, I think the essay illustrates the folly of believing that political discourse does – or at least should – line up neatly on a right – to – left axis.


  2. Stephen Clarke

    I don’t understand a single word of this. What’s a ‘Food Nazi’? Even familiar terms such as ‘libertarian’ seem to prefixed by ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘anarcho’, etc.

    On this side of the pond, ‘liberalism’ is something that germinated in France and England, grew in England and Scotland (and the USA), and continues to run deep in the blood. Liberalism is concepts such as The Rights of Man and The Social Contract; it is the distrust of all power and authority tempered by the admission that there needs to be some power and authority. It also admits fellow feeling.

    As far as I understand it (imagine a figurative example for children), libertarianism gives every human the right to bear arms, whilst liberalism gives the educated populace the right to vote on the matter. There may be a big difference between these positions (personally, I don’t see much difference here, because I am a pragmatist), but nothing compared to the difference between these two positions and those of ‘left’ and ‘right’, both of which contemplate the idea of shooting, or re-educating, those who disagree with them. Or the position of anarchists, who would ‘stangle the nuns in the guts of the priests’.

    I’m going to look up Hutaree.

  3. Anyone with a logical mind will have trouble following Carson unless you understand his core ideology, which boils down to a pathological hatred of any and all modern social organisation, whether left-wing or right-wing. His ideal is a kind of primitivist, local communism. Basically he sees oppression in mass production, hence he opposes factories, efficient farming, and so on. He thus opposes anything that increases human productivity, and has constructed a kind of fantasy economics in which factories are no more efficient than individual production, by denying the benefits of (a) division of labour (b) specialisation and (c) economy of scale.

    As such, you can’t really get any sense out of him, and it’s really a waste of time trying to make any sense of what he writes.

    One interesting example of Carsonism that I was pondering just now due to a previous thread is this; most libertarians oppose State organisation, at least partially, on the basis that it is inefficient. Uneconomic railroads, bridges to nowhere, etc. By contrast, Carson opposes it because (he believes) it actually works. So, he opposes bridges to somewhere. A sane libertarian will recognise that a road from Kettering to Northampton will often be economically benificial, because now producers in Northampton and Kettering can compete and trade, and consumers can benefit from the increased supply of goods and services. Carson ideologically opposes the road, for the same reason; because it works! In his philosophy, the increased economic output is interpreted as a “subsidy to the capitalists”. Hence-

    “essentially hearken back to mid-20th century liberalism’s mass-production heart of darkness.”

    As I said in the other thread, Carson’s ideal, when he talks of “decentralisation” is most close to a return to the mediaeval manorial system, but on a communist rather than aristocratic model. Internalised, non-competitive product by a collective for their own consumption. That may in a sense be seen as some form of “libertarian”- though how people being trapped in their birth communities living a subsistence existence with little choice is liberty is debatable- but it’s not “libertarian” in the sense that the word is currently generally understood to mean. Libertarians are a diverse bunch, but we at least usually share a preference for the free market. Carson uses the term too, but slyly- his “free” market is a “no market”, since he interprets all normal free market activities- private property, private production, trading of production, the purchasing of labour, etc- as unjust and artificial constructions of the State, which would wither away to be replaced by “mutualist manorialism”. Which, by the way, is one reason he can’t stop banging on about the Enclosure Acts, which were the first step on the road from poverty stricken agrarian manorialism to industrialism and economic growth. And Benjamin bleeding Tucker. Can’t do an article without at least one mention of Tucker, our Kevin.

  4. All seems perfectly logical to me.
    True, if you are not familiar with the usage of liberal in the US (and live in the 19th Century in the UK) then it may make little sense, but the vast majority of people refer to liberalism as that which is espoused by the likes of the Democratic Party in the US.

    ‘Food Nazi’ – a few milli-seconds of thought suggests that it means those who wish to control what people eat, ranging from banning large portions to unpasteurised milk.

    Prefixing libertarian with adjectives is an attempt to help clarify a position contained within what is understood as libertarianism (a term which seems to mean anything from Kropotkin to the Koch family depending on who you ask).

    As for IanB – he has consistently shown an inability to comprehend any argument which doesn’t conform to his prior beliefs and to completely misrepresent the arguments of Kevin.
    At least he’s not as bad as Paul Marks, who ascribes even more bizarre motives to those he disagrees with.

  5. I wasted a considerable time I’ll never get back reading Carson’s corpus of work. I am not misrepresenting it.

    What is dispiriting is the number of apologists who try to obfuscate Carson’s lunatic ideas, apparently to make them more palatable to those who haven’t read them first hand. This is not in fact uncommon- people wth extreme ideas often maintain just such a facade of moderation for PR purposes. Extremists on the Left do that all the time.

    The bottom line is, Carson himself has been repeatedly so explcitly and fundamentally opposed to (for instance) mass production that anyone denying it is either ignorant of his writing, or a liar.

    And ultimately, if Kevin really wants to grow his own turnips and weave his own clothes, he is perfectly entitled to do that. His continued promotion of the idea that having everyone do this would not lead to mass impoverishment is grotesque, and deserves to be criticised at every opportunity.

    • Ian – denunciation is all very well, but citation and analysis would be more useful. This blog is followed by many of the intellectual stars of the libertarian movement, and you have an open opportunity to expose Kevin Carson as a Comintern agent.

      Playing second fiddle to an embittered fool like Paul Marks does you less credit than you deserve.

  6. Denouncing Paul as an embittered fool doesn’t do you much credit either Sean, especially as you have, apparently, enthusiastically absorbed Carson’s written works and thus are well aware that Paul and I are representing his views properly.

    “Citation and analysis”? Well, I remember some time ago explaining the problem with this. Carson’s books are written in a style of literary criticism and thus one has to absorb large sections to understand what he’s getting at. The example then IIRC was on his theory of value. He doesn’t, like Mises, Marx or Keynes, actually sit down and write the theory out. Instead he works by refuting, in a sort of Fisking manner, other economists (generally Austrian School capitalist running dogs) often by citing yet more other economists. He doesn’t state clearly from first principles, as Marx attempts to do, why a Labour Theory Of Value is correct. Rather he tries to fisk Menger or Von Mises to show that their criticism of Marx was wrong. So you’re trying to work back through a chain of two or three layers of Carson’s citations, and would end up criticising a citation of Carson criticising a citation of Von Mises criticising a citation of Marx.

    Which would be opaque to a further reader of my criticism of Carson, especially in a comment thread, when that reader can just go and read Carson himself.

    Or, better still, not waste their time doing that, because everybody outside Marxism has known that the LTV is wrong and has for 150 years.

    You see, in the end there is no point actually debunking Kevin. He assert certain things about economics to be true. But we know they are false. It is like wasting time arguing with Creationists. We know Creationism is wrong, and that Evolution is the correct theory. So it’s better to just tell people to go read a book on Evolution instead of typing thousands of words in a pointless citation battle.

    I don’t think he’s a “comintern agent”. I do think he’s woefully ignorant of economics and is peddling a Utopianism which is not only impossible but also enormously undesirable even if it were possible. And I will add that, you are being rather dishonest in describing my above (and in general comments) as mere “denunciation”. In this thread alone I have clearly stated for instance-

    “The bottom line is, Carson himself has been repeatedly so explcitly and fundamentally opposed to (for instance) mass production that anyone denying it is either ignorant of his writing, or a liar.”

    That is (at least the first half) a clear analysis of one specific thing that is wrong with his theories. See this—

    “calling for Detroit to mass produce electric cars and buses, essentially hearken back to mid-20th century liberalism’s mass-production heart of darkness.”

    That’s Carson for you. Mass production is a “heart of darkness”.

    I don’t really need to cite anything more than that, do I?

    • Yes, you do need to cite and to quote, if you want your critique to be taken seriously. Why not start with the first part of Organization Culture? This contains a clear explanation of KC’s views of mass production – use of pervasive political influence to externalise costs and raise the maximum scale of output, etc, etc.

      As for Paul Marks, his voluminous comments on this blog speak for themselves. His failure to read and understand whatever text is before him, let alone his inability to write coherent prose, deprives him of all right to be taken seriously. No wonder KC encourages other people to read his attacks.

  7. Yes, you do need to cite and to quote,

    No I don’t Sean. I only need to describe Carson’s general theoretical stance, and then explain why it is wrong. Citation arguments are usually counter-productive and tail-chasing, since they invite responses such as “you have quoted that out of context” and “you have not understood the general argument” and then one goes off on a tangential meta-argument about whether the citation is representative, and so on.

    To use an example from a different field, you sometimes find feminists and anti-feminists arguing about whether Andrea Dworkin ever said, “All men are rapists”. The answer is no[1]. But her theory as a whole clearly draws the conclusion that they are.

    Ultimately, a person reading a discussion has to be familiar with the whole theory being discussed (criticised/attacked/supported) in order to understand whether the criticisms are valid or not. If Kevin has spent, say, 20,000 words presenting a theory, it is unlikely that it can be accurately described to a naive reader by the citation of a few tens or hundreds of those words.

    I would thus recommend that any reader of one of these threads who is interested should read Carson’s works on the internet, and then read the criticisms presented by the Norhants Popular Libertarian Front (both of us) and then draw their own conclusions as to who has got it right. Of course, one might add, they will also need to, themself, understand proper economic theory as the bare minimum of background knowledge to make a judgement on that matter. If they are so ignorant as to believe that mass production offers no efficiency benefits over individual production- as Carson has made a career of asserting- then they are unlikely to be swayed by any critical argument.

    [1] It was actually a tee-shirt slogan at Berkeley in the early 70s.

    • “To use an example from a different field, you sometimes find feminists and anti-feminists arguing about whether Andrea Dworkin ever said, “All men are rapists”. The answer is no[1]. But her theory as a whole clearly draws the conclusion that they are.”

      Well, if she didn’t say that, and didn’t endorse it, you can’t accuse her of having said it. People can only be blamed for having said what they are known to have said. Even feminazis deserve the usual courtesies.

      Back to Kevin Carson. Your denunciations are worthless unless they are accompanied by a provable awareness of what he has said. Paul Marks is touched, and cannot be expected to argue in any manner approaching the rational. Indeed, I notice he’s just been forced to apologise for one of the grosser manifestations of his obsession with Kevin Carson. You are not labouring under any defect of reason, and so must be held to the normal rules of debate.

      It may be that I have misread Kevin, and that you are right about him. But, until you start arguing against what he is known to have said, rather than constructing a straw man that bears no resemblance to what I have read, I cannot take your case seriously.

      This is now one of the main blogs in the libertarian movement. People of known intellectual weight in our movement follow it, and sometimes post comments to it. I have said repeatedly that we don’t censor comments unless they are likely to get us into trouble with the authorities. You have a wonderful opportunity to put your case. I only ask that you should put it with the ability of which you are capable.

  8. Well, I disagree. Anything but a chapter and verse critique is worthless. Your attacks sound very like the hysterical denunciations of Epicurus you find among the ancient stoics. Even that lefty whose attack we published yesterday made some effort at the scholarly niceties.

  9. nything but a chapter and verse critique is worthless.

    In my experience, demands for such tend to be a tactic to dismiss valid criticisms. Basically, by shifting a heavy workload onto the critic. The critic who dutifully responds to such a demand will then, having presented their lengthy, cross referenced, critique, find their opponent immediately shift onto the general ground again.

    There is nothing “hysterical” about my criticisms of Carson’s theories. I have already presented plenty of meat that you could address. But you do not, and neither does Kevin. Because it is easier to shoot at my feet and make me dance than to answer the points I have made.

    As I’ve said above, Kevin himself in his writings enjoys this form of literary onanism. The result to the reader is not clarity but obfuscation, and also a curious lack of ownership of his theories, since one finds that, in fact, Kevin makes a point by quoting (say) Benjamin bloody Tucker instead of stating it himself. Honest debaters will take ownership of their own points of view and present them as clearly and concisely as possible. But that is the honest way, and Leftists are frequently not comfortable with it.

    We all know what Kevin believes. You’ve read his stuff, I’ve read his stuff, Paul has read his stuff. If you want to debate it Sean, I’d be glad to. But don’t waste all our time with this diversionary fucking about.

  10. Insisting on the proprieties of debate is not a diversionary tactic.

  11. Oh, it is when “the proprieties of debate” is just a strategy for shifting the burden of proof onto one’s opponent.

    Ultimately: discussion is a truth seeking exercise. Debate is a game of points scoring in which truth is but one tactic and rarely the best one. Thus, the wise player attempts to avoid “debate” as much as possible in favour of discussion, not least by watching out for familiar strategems.

    It’s worth observing that “debate” as we know it is descended from Greek philosophical methods, which themselves grew out of a market for skilled deployers of bullshit in their legal system. Hence I can understand why you as a classicist would admire it; I prefer more functional Western European epistemologies. For instance, if the argument isnt’ settled in half an hour, we hit each other with clubs until one of us cries, that kind of thing.

    Okay, seriously, Sean. Citation and refutation is not the only approach, and often not the best one. Discussing the issues is generally better. I have no need to cite Kevin, because we all know what he claims. The question is whather what he claims is true, not whether he said it at all. They really are two different things.

  12. Since you are attacking, the whole burden of proof is on you.

  13. Oh dear, er, guys, try not to break any of the crockery, there’s good chaps.

  14. What Kevin Carson is has been obvious since at least “Contract Feudalism”. He is someone who opposes the central insight of classical liberalism and libertarianism (the harmony of the long term economic interests of “the rich” and “the poor”) and opposes large scale (Ian would say “any” – if it involves paid labour and so on) private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    However, Sean Gabb pretends he does not know all this. He does know and pretends he does not know. Sean Gabb undermined the Libertarian Alliance (and destroyed any real chance that it could be a force in the defence of the West against people like Kevin Carson – and the Marxist allies of Kevin and the rest of the Black Flag crowd) because of his obsession with promoting Kevin Carson – motivated, I believe, simply out of a desire to be naughty (like a bad child who drops their pants and defecate in front of people – simply out of a desire to shock them, of course the “Occupy” movement has many such people, indeed they throw human excrement at people and so on, not because it is a good weapon – but out of a desire to shock).

    Which is why Sean calls me an “embittered fool” and I think he is a weirdo (someone who spends his life pushing people, such as Kevin Carson, who would destroy everything that he, Sean Gabb, should care about).

    But shall we turn to the actual post?

    I have watched Bill O’Relly’s show for many years – and shaken my fist at his absurdities (war on drugs, wanting all firearms offences to be Federal, wanting the Feds to “look after the folks” on X, Y, Z), as well as smiled at a lot his other stuff (he is actually a good performer – otherwise I would not have watched his show all these years).

    Bill O’Reilly does not call the liberal establishment “far left” – he calls the far left the far left.

    Indeed his often gives people the benefit of the doubt to people who do not actually deserve it.

    For example, the Bill O’Reilly theory of Barack Obama is that he is not a Marxist – he just USED them (in various universities and in Chicago) to get ahead.

    Indeed Bill O’Reilly does not even go that far on his show (he normally does not mention the Marxist connections at all). This is as far as he will go when even someone who worked with him for years (going round the freaking country with him) produced vast amounts of documentary evidence and said “PLEASE Bill – will you just please read this”. Everything was explained away as Barack being a “smart guy” who “used” the Marxists to get ahead – although O’Reilly did admit that Barack is a “social justice guy” (but in his mind that means a European Welfare Starte style person).

    As it should be needless to say – this theory does not exactly please me.

    The trouble with the “liberal establishment” (Joe Klein of Time Magazine and the rest of them) is that they play footsie with the far left.

    They have been doing this since the 1920s – when, for example, the owner “The Nation” journal did not (as far as I know) convert to socialism – but he allowed the pages of his publication to the socialists – indeed even to pro Soviet types.

    Fast forward to modern times – and the entire “liberal” (i.e. social democratic) establishment supported Barack Obama against John McCain in 2008 and against Mitt Romney in 2012.

    Neither McCain or Romney were radical free market people (far from it) – yet the liberal establishment would rather support even Barack Obama than either McCain or Romney.

    They spend their lives covering up for the far left – and they always have.

    Joe McCarthy (and I am no fan of his general politics – I hate Federal houseing subsidies and so on) exposes Communists – supporters of Stalin and Mao (some of the worst mass murderers in history) and it is Senator McCarthy who is the bad guy – the accused (who were guilty – see M. Stanton Evans “Blacklisted by History”) were “honorable men and women”.

    “They did not know Paul” – well I think they did know.

    Anyway – they certainly know now (the electronic stuff, and so on, has been in the public domain for years now) and McCarthy is still the bad guy – and the traitors (who supported the murder of tens of millions of human beings – and wanted to do that in the United States also) are still “honourable men and women”

    Van Jones – founder of the Marxist group0 STORM, then made Barack Obama’s “Green Jobs” man (with V.J. saying he had been appointed because “we loved your work in Oakland” – what, apart from STORM, did Van Jones do in California?)

    Jeff Jones (no relation) – “ex” Weatherman Marxist terrorist, now at the Apollo Alliance (the writers of the “Stimulus” Bill of 2009).

    And on and on……

    You would not know any of this from reading Time magazine – or watching NBC news.

    That does not mean that Joe Klein and Brian Williams are Marxists – of course they are not.

    But they spend their lives COVERING UP for them. Like the NBC camera people who refuse to report Chicago teacher union leaders going to Marxist conferences – or their thugs waving Communist (and “anarchist”) banners.

    That is why I “do not like liberals”.

    Not because they are Communists – they are not Communists (any more than Sean Gabb is a Communist).

    But because they spend their lives covering up for Communists – indeed promoting Communists. If there is Communist dominated union – they will not expose it, they will support its strike and riots (carefully hiding its violence as much as they can). If there is a Marxist politician – they (the liberals) may privately express some doubts, but they will still support the person at election time. After all the alternative is a Republican and one must NEVER suppprt a Republican.

    I do not like “neocons” either.

    Their “wars for democracy” are absurd.

    And, in domestic policy, with their wild Welfare State spending (sorry their “compassionate conservatism”) there is little to choose between them and the “liberals” (who are really social democrats of course).

    But at least they do not go around supporting the Red Flag Marxists – or the Black Flag (anti private property – anti wage payer) “anarchists” either.

    Although neocons in office – inevitably leads to the left (and far left) in office.

    Because the neocons make such a mess of everything.

  15. By the way if Sean Gabb had actually bothered to read Kevin Carson’s post….

    He would see that Kevin calls himself a “socialist” (this is not some sort of charge that Ian B. has “made up”).

    Kevin Carson is not some follower of A.L. Perry or Frank Fetter who happens to use different language from other people. Kevin is a socialist – he SAYS SO.

    Also (in the same post) Kevin shows support for Howard Zinn.

    This is the Howard Zinn who wrote the “People’s History of the United States” – Howard Zinn was a PAID SOVIET AGENT.

    Of course he would say that the United States Consitution was a document of the “Plutocrats” – unlike the noble Soviet Consitution of course……

    And we have the “liberal” Alexander Cockburn

    This would not be a relative of the Soviet agent-of-influence Claud Cockburn now would it?

    I do not want to be “paranoid”.

    You know like those people who said that just because the father was a socailist and a traitor the son (Kim Philby) would also turn out to be a traitor.

    But even I have got to give Karl Hess a pass.

    Any man who will say that he should not be held responsible for the things he said in the late 1960s because “I was on drugs at the time” – just as has to be given a pass.

    Rothbard was no socialist (never was) – yet he came out with the same Radio Moscow “NLF are fighting for freedom against Western Imperialism” bullcrap.

    Karl Hess had drugs as an excuse – Murray Rothbard did not.

    What he did was bad – very bad.

    And no amount of good scholarship really makes up for that sort of bad conduct.

  16. “I find most anarcho-capitalists disagreeably right-wing and given to pro-corporate apologetics”

    Now, I understand that the word ‘capitalist’, was born and raised, and originally defined by leftists, so far as I have seen.

    The problem I have is when leftists attack ‘capitalism’ in the mainstream, and when the ‘right’ (supposedly representing free-markets, we all know how good they are at that), does not offer any alternative to more state control, Anarcho-capitalists and other free market libertarians feel obliged to offer some argument, and are thus called ‘pro-corporate apologetics’. Of course, I don’t deny there will be some members of our movements, newly integrated Paleoconservatism for instance who may still hold views that could be classed as pro-state corporate and anti-capitalism – such as intellectual property and limited liability etc. Which I think Kevin KNOWS an-caps do not support. Of course he is much more happy attacking other libertarians than really attacking statism.

  17. Jordan Fenlon.

    Well the word “captialism” was first coined as an attack term, so if someone says “I do not like the WORD capitalism” I am O.K. with that.

    What I not O.K. with is someone who attacks the large scale (very well Ian – and small scale) private ownership of production, distribution and exchange exchange – paid labour and so on.

    And that is what Kevin does.

    It is not the word “capitalism” he hates – it is civil society itself (private business, paid labour and so on) whatever name is used.

  18. Julie near Chicago

    Well now. In his closing sentence Mr. Carson states in so many words that he is “a Far Leftist if there ever was one.”

    Mr. Carson–if you’re still following this discussion, would you mind explicitly defining for me *exactly* what *you personally* mean by a “Far Leftist” in that statement?


  19. I think this would be a good moment for us all to pause and await Kevin’s answer to Julie. i am sure that, in the pursuit of enlightenment, Sean will encourage him to respond.

  20. Mr Ecks,

    I might be wrong but I don’t believe that Hitler every actually stated anywhere his intention to kill millions of Jews. (Bollocks to Godwin’s Law). Large numbers of more mundane crimes are committed daily by people who have never expressed an intent to do so. It may be that IanB can’t say that Dworkin said “All men are rapists” because she didn’t and he accepts that–indeed he mentioned the point first. It is certainly possible to derive an understanding that that was her belief from a constallation of what she did say,her behaviours, the events of her sad life, what others “inspired” (God help us) by her have said and the consequences of her existence and the (bowel) movement she was involved with.

    As for the intellectual “heavyweights” involved on this site well, nothing personal, but what arms of the state have they brought low Sean?.

  21. Sean Gabb – so I am “not rational”.

    All I have done is state what Kevin Carson has said about himself and his beliefs – if that is “not rational” then so be it.

    Kevin says he is a socialist – I believe him.

    Kevin says he is a social justice person – I believe him.

    Kevin says he prefers the Socialist Chevez in Venezuala to the Social Democrat opposition- I take him at his word.

    Kevin supports the demands for Social Justice from the mobs in Egypt – i.e a reversal of the (rather modest) economic reforms of Sadat and co, and a return to the “anit corporation” and “anti landlord” social justice policies of Nasser.

    I note this.

    Kevin claims (and has done since at least “Contract Feudalism”) that volunary paid employment is a form serfdom.

    I note this.

    Kevin makes it clear that he not only opposes corporations – he also opposes rich indidivuals. Even going to the extreme of saying the Norman Conquest (of 1066) somehow made the landed estates of 19th century improper.

    For example, if Sam Walton was still alive and Walmart was individually owned – Kevin would hate it just as much. It is not Walmart being “a corporation” (like a college, or a union, or a church, or a club, or…) that Kevin really hates – it is the size of the enterprise and the fact that employs people for money wages.

    It may be “not rational” – but I note it. And I believe Kevin when he says this is his opinion.

    The only time I do NOT believe Kevin is when he says he is a “libertarian”.

    But this may simply beause we define the term “libertarian” in fundementally opposed ways.

    I see nothing “not rational” in noteing Kevin Carson’s opinions.

    Surely the person who is “not rational” is YOU Sean.

    After all you endlessly deny that Kevin’s opinions are what he, repeatedly, indicates they are.

  22. By the way I note that Julie’s question has not been answered.

    Sean you are using Saul Alinsky tactics – you are blowing smoke in the hope that it will obsure the truth.

    My dear – it is has not worked, and it is not going to work.

    For example….

    The way to make a country like India less poor is not to make it more difficult for individuals and companies to employ people. It is to make it less difficult. For example by getting rid of the post independence Labour Code. And also such things as the restrictions on the retail trade – and the whole “Permit Raj”. Modest reform (a modest roll back of the Permit Raj) produced good results, and more reform would produe better results in improving living standards (if they gains are not thrown away by the govenrment’s welfare spending).

    Millions of people working by selling stuff in the streets may SEEM closer to Kevin’s ideal (after they are not being employed by a big enterprises) – but the results of the Permit Raj from 1947 onwards (indeed, in some ways, long before 1947) have not been good (and you know this Sean – even if Kevin does not know).

    More than a third of food in India never even gets to retail – because “capitalist exploiters” (i.e. large enterprises) are kept out of the distribution system (as they are in Egypt, thanks to Nasser, with the same results).

    And, by the way, in spite of all this – the streets of India are still NOT a K.C. ideal. As keeping big enterprises out does not mean “Mutualism” – it just means that people work for small enterprises (shop keepers, back ally “sweatshop” workshops, and so on) at LOWER wages and WORSE conditions than they would get from the big “capitalists”.


    Merry Christmas.

    To you and to your family.

  23. Sean-

    Well, if she didn’t say that, and didn’t endorse it, you can’t accuse her of having said it.

    I’m not letting you away with this, because I know that you are a clever man who, furhtermore, is well read in the Greeks and their philosophy, and thus you know damned well what a sorites is. For instance, if we assert that-

    All Englishmen wear scarves


    Sean Gabb is an Englishman

    -then the conclusion of such a polysyllogism is that Sean Gabb wears a scarf, even though the statement “Sean Gabb wears a scarf” is not made; it is the inevitable logical conclusion of this (rather minor) theory. Thus, if Andrea Dworkin’s various assertions, taken polysyllogistically, assert in a similar manner than all sex is rape and thus all men are rapists- which they do- it is dishonest and diversionary to demand that one show a specific statement by Dworkin that “all men are rapists”, because she never made that specific statement. But her theory of gender *taken as a whole* does.

    Which I know you are a clever enough man to have understood to be the point I was making.

    Likewise, Carson has written many many words which draw certain inevitable logical conclusions to which we critics refer.

    • Ian B – You are, of course, correct. You still cannot accuse Andrea Dworkin of having said something she didn’t say. But, having taken a large number of her writings into account, you will be able to draw reasonable inferences about what she meant.

      However, until you can show the necessary acquaintance with his works, you cannot perform this operation on Kevin Carson.

  24. I repeat – Julie’s question has still not be answered.


    It is not just the logical conclusions of what Kevin Carson implies – it is also open statements.

    He has openly stated that he is socialist.

    He has openly stated that he is a supporter of the principle of Social Justice.

    He has opnely stated that he prefers the Socialist Chevez to the Social Democrat opposition.

    And on and on……..

    As for his “Mutualism” – as you have often pointed out……

    “Mutualism” is based upon fundementally false economics – for example the labour theory of value, and the view that trade should be based on the principle that goods and services should be exchanged on the basis that they take equal amounts of labour to produce.

    It is impossible to believe that Sean Gabb does not know that “Mutualism” is based on fundementally false economics, or that he does not know that Kevin Cason has said (repeatedly) that he is a supporter of Mutualism.

    Still – Merry Christmas everyone.

  25. In the absence of Kevin, perhaps you could answer Julie’s question, Sean.

    While you’re at it, you could also have a go at this one-

    If you had to choose between the two following economic metrics to maximise, which one is preferable?

    (a) Output per unit land area.

    (b) Output per producer.

    Not a trick question Sean. Which one?

  26. Addendum: the question refers to agricultural production.

  27. According Sean Gabb citeing what Kevin Carson has written does not show “necessary acquaintance with his works” – therefore the word “works” (in this context) does not mean “writings”, it must mean something else.

    Perhaps, in some alternative universe, Kevin has established “Mutualist” communes (or some such) at it is these practical “works” that Sean is pointing to.

  28. Julie near Chicago


    I’d like to suggest to you that if you wish to be properly understood, you really ought to clarify your positions–in this case, I am truly seriously interested to know what, to you, are the defining characteristics of one who is “Far Left” and in what ways you consider that you exemplify those characteristics.

    “Leftism” is a term that’s really not at all well-defined…different people use it to mean different things; that’s why it’s important to be completely clear, to the point of being willing to explain things several times and from varying angles, if you wish your ideas to be considered seriously.

    I won’t bring it up here again…but if you choose not to answer my question, I will draw my conclusions as to your work and what you mean in various passages within it, and as to whether I find your arguments persuasive or perverse, based solely on the material I happen to see.

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