New Molinari/C4SS Books

Two of my Molinari/C4SS comrades have new books out.


One is Kevin Carson’s The Desktop Regulatory State: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks. The blurb says:

Defenders of the modern state often claim that it’s needed to protect us – from terrorists, invaders, bullies, and rapacious corporations. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, for instance, famously argued that the state was a source of “countervailing power” that kept other social institutions in check. But what if those “countervailing” institution – corporations, government agencies and domesticated labor unions – in practice collude more than they “countervail” each other? And what if network communications technology and digital platforms now enable us to take on all those dinosaur hierarchies as equals – and more than equals? In The Desktop Regulatory State, Kevin Carson shows how the power of self-regulation, which people engaged in social cooperation have always possessed, has been amplified and intensified by changes in consciousness – as people have become aware of their own power and of their ability to care for themselves without the state – and in technology – especially information technology. Drawing as usual on a wide array of insights from diverse disciplines, Carson paints an inspiring, challenging, and optimistic portrait of a humane future without the state, and points provocatively toward the steps we need to take in order to achieve it.

The other is Sheldon Richman’s America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited. The blurb says:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by AmericaƠs break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Wisdom from the right-libertarian corgi

Wisdom from the right-libertarian corgi

Another of my Molinari/C4SS comrades, Nick Ford, has a forthcoming anthology on anti-work anarchism, titled Instead of a Book, By a Man Too Lazy to Write One; check out the description.

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  • Hollis Butts

    The blurb on Richman’s book reminded of this quote from another critic of the Constitution, Patric Henry: ” If we admit this Consolidated Government it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, and a navy, and a number of things: When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, Sir, was then the primary object. We are descended from a people whose Government was founded on liberty: Our glorious forefathers of Great-Britain, made liberty the foundation of every thing…
    who knows the dangers that this new system may produce; they are out of the sight of the common people: They cannot foresee latent consequences: I dread the operation of it on the middling and lower class of people: It is for them I fear the adoption of this system.

  • Sean II

    Gleefully singing back-up for Sheldon’s argument is the actual history of the Constitution.

    If one controls for “climate of opinion”, or whatever you want to call it, it’s not clear that the Constitution ever did much of anything for liberty. Here’s how it seems to work in the best case scenarios:

    Government does Bad Thing X. This is immediately seen to contradict some part of the Constitution, but since there’s a moral panic/ardent pressure group behind it, who cares? While the panic lasts/pressure group remains strong, the Supremes do their usual trick of avoiding controversy to “protect the power of the Court”, which after all is more important than whatever X happens to be. Twelve years later, when it’s quite safe because most people already turned against X or just stopped paying attention, a “landmark decision” strikes down X. Soon after, school teachers and Chesapeake Bay area think-tankers start telling a pleasant little story about how the Constitution saved our democracy from Bad Thing X, even as Horrible Thing Y and Preposterous Outrage Z are working their way through Congress on a fast track…

    And that’s how it goes, when it goes well! The most common outcome is simply that the Court joins everyone else in ignoring the blatant contradiction presented by X. Most issues are never even heard. The next most common outcome after that is getting Kelo’d – i.e. having the Court explicitly ratify, and thus clear the path for a massive expansion of, Bad Thing X.

    Thought experiment: let’s say tomorrow some faction of moral panickers decides to go after the Amish. And why not? The Amish are patriarchal white supremacist science-deniers who oppose gay marriage, have no interest in purchasing health insurance, and won’t boil milk when you tell them to. If Uncle Same lets people cross them him in so many ways “and get away with it, then the next joker…and pretty soon I’m just another fella down here!”

    Now simply ask yourself, if and when that impulse gets moving, what would do more to protect the Amish: a) the Constitution, or b) the Internet?

    Yeah, it’s definitely not a). And that’s a neat trick because, you know, we’re talking about the Amish.

    • Hollis Butts

      Having given a Patric Henry quote and noting your comment on the impotent Supremes, I’ll follow it up with Henry’s opinion of the checks and balances of the Constitution: “Such a Government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism: There will be no checks, no real balances, in this Government: What can avail your specious imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances?”

  • Adam Minsky

    I particularly look forward to the book on anti-work. I’ve long enjoyed reading Bob Black, the author of the Abolition of Work (even if he can be a merciless bastard when dealing with political opponents).
    In my humble opinion, one of the great weaknesses of libertarianism has been its refusal to deal with workplace authoritarianism. Many LP types seem to have the attitude that since work involves a “voluntary exchange” no more need be said on the subject. For those of us not erudite or fortunate enough to work for an employee friendly high-tech company, this can serve as a real obstacle to embracing anti-statist politics.
    Hopefully, Nick Ford’s book can serve as a much needed corrective. At the very least, it could spark some much needed debate.

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