now carries Carson!

Studies in Mutualist Political Economy by Kevin A. Carson is back in print on (of all places to sell a book arguing against artificially consolidated capital). This is the book that started it all... for me. Though not for the weak of heart, it comes with my highest recommendation if you are serious about confronting the mechanism by which the modern world still lingers in oppression and injustice. I have yet to give the book the attention and credit it deserves from me personally, let alone from the rest of the world.

Carson begins with a historical and theoretical analysis of many of the key arguments and controversies in the fledgling world of 19th century economics. He demonstrates that on many questions, the debate was never truly resolved, leaving much of (state monopoly) capitalism's self-proclaimed victory in serious question. The foundation of his argument is a new twist on the Labor Theory of Value that integrates the economic insights of the last century. Though this first part is quite challenging for the amateur economist, it is wonderful to see a radical, individualist tradition explored and reexamined - especially for this libertarian who didn't know he had ideological family back then.

If you skip the first part, I think you miss out on the payoff after all that somewhat dry and arcane argumentation. The second part is a historical look at the state capitalism and the monpolies and schemes by which it has consolidated control and wealth while claiming the opposite. A solid grounding in mutualist labor theory provides the reader with the theoretical context for the historical thesis. Events like the enclosures movement become more than just sad episodes - they take on signficance by fitting directly into the logical progression of the state from feudalism to capitalism.

By tying together the abstractions of economic theory and the way history unfolded, Carson lends considerable credibility to a vein of thought that hasn't received proper treatment in a century. There's even a short third section on practical approaches to realizing a world more in line with the decentralized, individualist vision he has. Books like this give me hope that man can still solve the overarching problems of the world without needing to create a planned utopia or give up in cynical despair.

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Written on Friday, March 09, 2007