Kevin Carson

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Carson in 2020.

Kevin Carson is an American [blogger] who has identified at various times as a mutualist, individualist anarchist, left-wing market anarchist and anarchist without adjectives.[1][2][3]:28 He works as a Senior Fellow and Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory at the Center for a Stateless Society.[4] Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy aims to revive interest in mutualism in an effort to synthesize Austrian School economics with the labor theory of value by attempting to incorporate both subjectivism and time preference.[5]


"Vulgar libertarianism"[edit]

Carson coined the pejorative term "vulgar libertarianism" to describe the use of free market rhetoric in defense of corporate capitalism and economic inequality.[6] According to Carson, the term is derived from the phrase "vulgar political economy", which Karl Marx described as an economic order that "deliberately becomes increasingly apologetic and makes strenuous attempts to talk out of existence the ideas which contain the contradictions [existing in economic life]".[7] Carson writes:

Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term "free market" in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they're defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles. So we get the standard boilerplate article in The Freeman arguing that the rich can't get rich at the expense of the poor, because "that's not how the free market works"—implicitly assuming that this is a free market. When prodded, they'll grudgingly admit that the present system is not a free market, and that it includes a lot of state intervention on behalf of the rich. But as soon as they think they can get away with it, they go right back to defending the wealth of existing corporations on the basis of "free market principles."[8]


Carson's work has never been published in a peer-reviewed academic outlet, but nevertheless, his blogposts and self-published pieces have been addressed by anarcho-capitalists Walter Block[9] and Tate Fegley[10] as well as fellow Center for a Stateless Society member Roderick T. Long.[11]

The anarcho-syndicalist group Workers' Solidarity Alliance has criticized Carson for neglecting the role of class struggle in anti-capitalist activities.[12] Carson responded by claiming that anarcho-syndicalism is outdated and unrealistic.[13][14][15]

Selected works[edit]

  • Studies in Mutualist Political Economy (2007)[5][4]
  • Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective (2008)[4]
  • The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto (2010)[4]
  • The Desktop Regulatory State: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks (2016)[16]
  • Capitalist Nursery Fables (2020)[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Introductions - Kevin Carson". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Kevin Carson". Kevin Carson. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  3. ^ Shannon, Deric; Nocella II, Anthony; Asimakopoulos, John (2012). The Accumulation of Freedom. Oakland, Edinburgh, Baltimore: AK Press. ISBN 978-1849350945.
  4. ^ a b c d Nathan J. Jun, ed. (2017). Brill's Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy. BRILL. p. 20. ISBN 978-90-04-35689-4.
  5. ^ a b Long, Roderick T. (2006). "Editorial to Symposium Issue on Studies in Mutualist Political Economy". Journal of Libertarian Studies. 20 (1): 34.
  6. ^ Long, Roderick (2012). "Left-Libertarianism, Market Anarchism, Class Conflict and Historical Theories of Distributive Justice". Griffith Law Review. 21 (2): 422. doi:10.1080/10383441.2012.10854747. S2CID 143550988.
  7. ^ Marx, Theories of Surplus Value, III, p. 501.
  8. ^ Carson, Kevin. Studies in Mutualist Political Economy Archived December 21, 2010, at WebCite, p. 142
  9. ^ Block, Walter. Kevin Carson as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 20, No. 1 (Winter 2006), pp. 35–36
  10. ^ Fegley, Tate. Kevin Carson and the Freed Market: Is His Left-Libertarian Vision Plausible?
  11. ^ Long, Roderick. "Land-locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights". Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 20, No. 1 (Winter 2006): 87–95
  12. ^ "A Free Market Fantasy". Workers Solidarity Alliance. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  13. ^ "In Which the Anarcho-Syndicalists Discover C4SS". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  14. ^ "A Response to 'In Which the Anarcho-Syndicalists Discover C4SS'". Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Left-Market Rambling: A reply to Kevin Carson". Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  16. ^ "The Desktop Regulatory State". Retrieved 2020-09-02.
  17. ^ Carson, Kevin. "Capitalist Nursery Fables: The Tragedy of Private Property, and the Farce of Its Defense". Center for a Stateless Society. Retrieved 2020-09-02.

External links[edit]