ChapterPDF Available

Formal vs. Substantive Statism: A Matter of Context



The prevailing tendency in mainstream libertarianism is to look at particular proposals for "free market reform" atomistically, based on whether they reduce formal statism, and without regard to their role in the statism of the overall system. But to ascertain whether they constitute a net reduction or increase in statism, we must first examine their function within the greater whole. This means looking at the class nature of the larger system, the identity of the forces controlling it, and whether particular measures-regardless of formal statism-increase or reduce the state-conferred privilege of the ruling class in real terms.
Formal vs. Substantive Statism: A Matter of Context
Kevin A. Carson
Abstract. The prevailing tendency in mainstream libertarianism is to look at particular
proposals for “free market reform” atomistically, based on whether they reduce formal statism,
and without regard to their role in the statism of the overall system. But to ascertain whether they
constitute a net reduction or increase in statism, we must first examine their function within the
greater whole. This means looking at the class nature of the larger system, the identity of the
forces controlling it, and whether particular measures -- regardless of formal statism -- increase
or reduce the state-conferred privilege of the ruling class in real terms.
Introduction: Dialectics and Context
In Total Freedom, Objectivist scholar Chris Sciabarra calls for what he calls a “dialectical
libertarianism.” By dialectical analysis, he means to “grasp the nature of a part by viewing it
systemically—that is, as an extension of the system within which it is embedded” (Sciabarra
2000, 88). Individual parts receive their character from the whole of which they are a part, and
from their function within that whole. This means it is a mistake to consider any particular form
of state intervention in isolation, without regard to the role it plays in the overall system
(Sciabarra 2005, 35).
Libertarian blogger Arthur Silber, taking Sciabarra’s argument as his own starting point,
contrasts dialectical libertarianism with “atomistic libertarianism,” whose approach is to “focus
on the basic principles involved, but with scant (or no) attention paid to the overall context in
which the principles are being analyzed. In this manner, this approach treats principles like
Plato’s Forms. . . .” Atomistic libertarians argue “as if the society in which one lives is
completely irrelevant to an analysis of any problem at all” (Silber).
To determine the function a particular form of state intervention serves in the structure of
state power, we must first ask what has been the historical objective of the state. This is where
libertarian class analysis comes in.
The single greatest work I’m aware of on free market libertarian class theory is Roderick
Long’s article, “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Class.” Long categorizes ruling-class theories as
either “statocratic” or “plutocratic,” based on the respective emphasis they place on the state
apparatus and the plutocracy (the wealthy “private-sector” beneficiaries of government
intervention) in determining the character of the ruling class.
The default mainstream libertarian paradigm is highly statocratic, not only emphasizing the
necessary role of state coercion in enabling “legal plunder” (Frédéric Bastiat’s term) by the
plutocracy, but of downplaying the significance of the plutocracy even as beneficiaries of
statism. This means treating the constellation of class interests associated with the state as ad hoc
and fortuitous. Although statocratic theory treats the state (in Franz Oppenheimer’s phrase) as
the organized political means to wealth, it still tends to view government as merely serving the
exploitative interests of whatever fortuitous assortment of political factions happens to control it
at any given time. This picture of how the state works does not require any organic relation
between the various interest groups controlling it at any time, or between them and the state. It
might be controlled by a disparate array of interest groups, including licensed professionals, rent-
seeking corporations, farmers, regulated utilities, and big labor; the only thing they have in
common is that they happen to be currently the best at latching onto the state. And even then,
they are more likely to be framed as relatively innocent parties passively cooperating with the
state as a means of survival, rather than actively using the state as an instrumentality for
extracting rents.
Murray Rothbard’s position was far different, at least in his left-leaning phase at the turn of
the 1970s when he collaborated with New Left theorists and co-edited Libertarian Forum with
Karl Hess. Rothbard, Sciabarra argues, saw the state as controlled by “a primary group that has
achieved a position of structural hegemony, a group central to class consolidation and crisis in
contemporary political economy. Rothbard’s approach to this problem is, in fact, highly
dialectical in its comprehension of the historical, political, economic, and social dynamics of
class” (Sciabarra 2000, 287).
Taking it further, I would argue that the corporate economy is so closely bound up with the
power of the state that it makes more sense to think of the corporate ruling class as a component
of the state, in the same way that landlords were the primary component of the state under the
Old Regime. The state is a class state (or to put it in Marxist terms, the “executive committee of
the economic ruling class”). It is the armed enforcer of the subsidies, entry barriers, privileges
and artificial scarcities, and socialized costs and risks which, as sources of rent, constitute the
overwhelming majority of profit on capital. Hence a large part of our ostensibly “voluntary
transactions” with capital amount to armed robbery, with the state as active accomplice and
Given this perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to consider particular proposals for
deregulating or cutting taxes without regard to the role the taxes and regulations play in the
overall structure of the state capitalist system, whose central purpose is to serve the economic
ruling class’s interest in extracting rents from the rest of society. That’s especially true
considering that most mainstream proposals for “free market reform” are generated by the very
class interests that benefit from the corporate state.
No politico-economic system has ever approximated total statism, in the sense that
“everything not forbidden is compulsory.” In every system there is a mixture of compulsory and
discretionary behavior. The economic ruling class allows some amount of voluntary market
exchange within the interstices of a system whose overall structure is defined by coercive state
intervention. The choice of what areas to leave to voluntary exchange, at least as much as of
what to subject to compulsory regulation, reflects the overall strategic picture of the ruling class.
The total mixture of statism and market activity will be chosen as most likely, in the estimation
of the ruling class, to maximize net exploitation by the political means.
Primary and Secondary Interventions
Some forms of state intervention are primary. They involve the privileges, subsidies, and
other structural bases of economic exploitation through the political system. This is the primary
purpose of the state: the organized political means to wealth, exercised by and for the coalition of
dominant economic classes that controls the state.
The great bulk of the propertied classes’ income derives from what Thorstein Veblen called
“capitalized disserviceability”: that is, the collection of tribute for the “service” of not
obstructing production (quoted in Commons 1934, 664). Henry George, Jr. described the same
concept in terms of collecting rents by impeding access to natural opportunities (George 1905,
Ch. 26). In either case the “productive contribution” of the propertied classes comes, not from
producing things themselves, but from controlling the circumstances under which others are
allowed to produce. Indeed their failure to obstruct production is explicitly treated as a
“productive” activity for which compensation is received, in the conceptual framework of
marginal productivity theory; whatever the tribute they charge for refraining from obstruction
adds to the price of a finished good is the marginal productivity of their “contribution.”
Some forms of intervention, on the other hand, are secondary. Their purpose is stabilizing, or
ameliorative. They include welfare-state measures, Keynesian demand management, and the
like, whose purpose is to limit the most destabilizing side-effects of privilege and to secure the
long-term survival of the system.
Unfortunately, the typical “free market reform” advocated on the libertarian Right involves
eliminating only the ameliorative or regulatory forms of intervention, while leaving intact the
primary structure of privilege and exploitation. The latter is, by ideological sleight-of-hand,
rendered invisible as parts of the general background conditions of “private property” and “free
The strategic priorities of principled libertarians should be just the opposite: first to dismantle
the fundamental, structural forms of state intervention, whose primary effect is to enable
exploitation, and only then to dismantle the secondary, ameliorative forms of intervention that
serve to make life bearable for the average person living under a system of state-enabled
exploitation. As blogger Jim Henley put it, remove the shackles before the crutches (Henley
2008). William Gillis, Director of the Center for a Stateless Society, argues likewise that taxes
should be cut from the bottom up by expanding the standard deduction and personal exemption
(Gillis 2018).
To welcome the typical “free market” proposals as “steps in the right direction,” without
regard to their effect on the overall functioning of the system, is comparable to the Romans
welcoming the withdrawal of the Punic center at Cannae as “a step in the right direction.”
Hannibal’s battle formation was not the first step in a general Carthaginian withdrawal from
Italy, and you can be sure the piecemeal “privatizations,” “deregulations,” and “tax cuts”
proposed are not intended to reduce the amount of wealth extracted by the political means.
Regulations and Increasing Statism
Regulations that limit and constrain the exercise of privilege arguably do not involve,
properly speaking, a net increase in statism at all. They are simply the corporate state’s
stabilizing restrictions on its own more fundamental forms of intervention.
Silber illustrated the dialectical nature of such restrictions with reference to the question of
whether pharmacists ought to be able to refuse to sell items (such as “morning after” pills) that
violate their conscience. The atomistic-libertarian response is, “Of course. The right to sell, or
not sell, is a fundamental free-market liberty.” The implicit assumption here, as Silber pointed
out, is “that this dispute arises in a society which is essentially free.” But pharmacists are in fact
direct beneficiaries of compulsory occupational licensing, a statist racket whose central purpose
is to restrict competition and enable them to charge a monopoly price for their services. Silber
The major point is a very simple one: the pharmacy profession is a state-enforced
monopoly. In other words: the consumer and the pharmacist are not equal competitors on
the playing field. The state has placed its thumb firmly on the scales—and on one side
only. That is the crucial point, from which all further analysis must flow. . . .
. . . [T]he state has created a government-enforced monopoly for licensed
pharmacists. Given that central fact, the least the state can do is ensure that everyone has
access to the drugs they require—and whether a particular pill is of life and death
importance is for the individual who wants it to decide, not the pharmacist and most
certainly not the government.
When the state confers a special privilege on an occupation, a business firm, or an industry,
and then sets regulatory limits on the use of that privilege, the regulation is not a new intrusion of
statism into a free market. It is, rather, the state’s limitation and qualification of its own
underlying statism. The secondary regulation is not a net increase, but a net reduction in statism.
On the other hand, repeal of the secondary regulation, without an accompanying repeal of the
primary privilege, would be a net increase in statism. Since the beneficiaries of privilege are a de
facto branch of the state, the elimination of regulatory constraints on their abuse of privilege has
the same practical effect as repealing a constitutional restriction on the state’s exercise of its own
Treating each individual state intervention in isolation on the basis of its formal statism,
without regard to the role it plays in the overall level of statism, is a classic example of what
Bastiat called “the unseen.”
State health, safety and environmental regulations, restraints on abuse of monopoly power,
limits to the abuse of workers, and welfare state measures fall under a small number of headings.
An intervention may be a case of the leading capitalists interests themselves directly and
consciously acting through their state and using it to regulate their affairs in common or to clean
up their messes. It may be a case of the capitalist state acting as an “executive committee” in the
long-term interest of the capital system’s general stability, even though some capitalists oppose it
or it hurts the short-term interests of a majority of capitalists. At best, to the extent that the
capitalist state is contested terrain, or that it responds unwillingly to genuine working class
pressure from the outside, it is simply redressing legitimate grievances by giving workers back a
fraction of what was stolen from them.
Of the welfare state, for example, anarchist scholar Larry Gambone once commented that it’s
the price capitalists pay for their privilege. Economic privilege, like returns on intellectual
property and rents on enclosed vacant and unimproved land, shifts income in large amounts from
laboring classes with the highest propensity to spend to propertied rentier classes with the highest
propensity to save, thus leading to chronic problems of overaccumulation and underconsumption
that will lead to depression, large-scale unemployment and politically destabilizing levels of
homelessness and starvation if not corrected by secondary interventions from the capitalist state.
Welfare is nothing but the capitalists acting, through their state, to redistribute downward a small
portion of the income which that same state previously distributed upwards in the form of rents,
in order to address part of the deficit in aggregate demand and prevent destitution from reaching
levels that will bring down the system. The only way to get rid of the welfare state without
depression and collapse is to eliminate the privileges the propertied classes derive their rents
from in the first place (Gambone 2006).
Karl Marx, in his chapter on the working day in the first volume of Capital, described the
Ten-Hour Day law as an attempt by capitalists to regulate, through the capitalist state, their own
"greed for surplus labour." They implemented this regulation in the interest of the capitalist class
as a whole in a way that could only be accomplished by acting through the state, because
otherwise competition would turn the issue of working conditions into a prisoner's dilemma for
individual capitalists; it was in the interest of the capitalist class as a whole that the exploitation
of labor be kept to sustainable levels, but in the interest of each capitalist individually to gain an
immediate advantage over the the others by working their own labor force to the breaking point.
The practical effect of the law was to coordinate labor practices through a state-enforced cartel,
so that they ceased to be an issue of competition between firms.
These acts curb the passion of capital for a limitless draining of labour-power, by forcibly
limiting the working-day by state regulations, made by a state that is ruled by capitalist-and
landlord. Apart from the working-class movement that daily grew more threatening, the limiting
of factory labour was dictated by the same necessity which spread guano over the English fields
(Marx 1887)
Marx referred, later in the same chapter, to a couple dozen Staffordshire pottery firms,
including that of Josiah Wedgwood, petitioning Parliament in 1863 for "some legislative
enactment"; the reason was that competition prevented individual capitalists from voluntarily
limiting the work time of children, etc., as beneficial as it would be to them collectively: "Much
as we deplore the evils before mentioned, it would not be possible to prevent them by any
scheme of agreement between the manufacturers.... Taking all these points into consideration, we
have come to the conviction that some legislative enactment is wanted." Attempts by employers
to limit the workday voluntarily to nine or ten hours, in their collective interest, always came to
nought because the individual employer found it in his interest to violate the agreement (Marx
1887, fn 82).
When the state is controlled by “legal plunderers” and every decision for or against state
intervention in a particular circumstance reflects their strategic assessment of the ideal mixture of
intervention and non-intervention, it’s a mistake for a genuine anti-state movement to allow the
priorities for “free market reform” to be set by the plunderers’ estimation of what forms of
intervention no longer serve their purpose. If the corporate representatives in government are
proposing a particular “free market reform,” you can bet your bottom dollar it’s because they
believe it will increase the net political extraction of wealth.
The corporate ruling class’s approach to “free market reform” is a sort of mirror-image of
“lemon socialism.” Under lemon socialism, the political capitalists (acting through the state)
choose to nationalize those industries that corporate capital will most benefit from having taken
off its hands, and to socialize those functions the cost of which capital would most prefer the
state to bear. They shift functions from the private to the state sector when they are perceived as
necessary for the functioning of the system, but not sufficiently profitable to justify the bother of
running them under “private sector” auspices.
Under “lemon market reform,” on the other hand, the political capitalists liquidate
interventionist policies after they have squeezed all the benefit out of state action. A good
example: British industrialists felt it was safe to adopt “free trade” in the mid-nineteenth century,
after mercantilism had served its purpose. Half the world had been hammered into a unified
market by British force of arms and was held together by a British merchant fleet. Britain had
stamped out competing industry in the colonial world. It had reenacted the Enclosures on a
global scale, stealing enormous amounts of land from native populations and converting it to
cash crops for the imperial market. The commanding position of British capital was the direct
result of past mercantilism; having established this commanding position, it could afford “free
The so-called “free trade” movement in the contemporary United States follows the same
pattern. A century ago, high tariff barriers served the interests of American capital. Today, when
the dominant corporate interests are transnational, tariffs are no longer useful to them. They
actually impede the transfer of goods and partially finished products between the national
subdivisions of a single global corporation, or the importation of goods produced offshore by
nominally independent sweatshops producing on contract for American corporations.
On the other hand, so-called “intellectual property” today serves exactly the same
protectionist function for transnational corporations that tariffs used to serve for the old national
corporations a century ago. Patents and trademarks enable corporations that no longer actually
produce anything to outsource all actual production to factories in other countries, but to
maintain a legal monopoly on the right to dispose of the product. Patents and trademarks serve
the same basic function of enabling a corporation to monopolize the right to sell a given product
in a given market area -- the only difference is that the protective barriers operate along corporate
boundaries instead of national boundaries. So the political capitalists promote a version of “free
trade” that involves doing away with outmoded tariff barriers while promoting “Free Trade
Agreements” whose main purpose is expanding the new protectionism of “intellectual property”
We must remember that the measure of statism inheres in the functioning of the overall
system, not in the formal statism of its separate parts. A reduction in the formal statism of some
separate parts, chosen in accordance with the strategic priorities of the statists, may actually
result in a net increase in the overall level of statism. Our strategic agenda, in dismantling the
state, must reflect our understanding of the overall nature of the system.
Implications for the Libertarian Movement
Over the years, as a left-libertarian whose work has increasingly run afoul of mainstream
libertarians to the extent they have become aware of it, I have interacted with a large number of
libertarian critics whose defenses of the wealthy, of big business and of employers are almost
uniformly atomistic. Right-leaning libertarians -- which is to say the great bulk of libertarians
and the modal tendency within the overall movement -- focus entirely on the presence or absence
of formal “violence” or “aggression” in an immediate transaction, and declare it to be
“voluntary” if none is to be found.
Any criticism on social media of (say) Microsoft’s treatment of consumers, or of working
conditions in Amazon warehouses, immediately meets with swarms of replies from self-
proclaimed libertarians and “voluntaryists” that “No one is making them buy Microsoft
products,” or “If they don’t like it they should look for a job elsewhere.”
What is the likelihood that a libertarian would respond to criticism of the U.S. Postal Service
with a dismissive “No one is forcing you to buy stamps there.” This is, of course, entirely true if
one disregards any context beyond the immediate transaction of buying stamps. Nobody who
buys a book of stamps at the post office does so with a gun pointed at her head. But virtually any
libertarian would point out that the purchase of stamps takes place against coercive background
conditions -- namely the state’s forcible intervention, in direct collusion with the Postal Service,
to limit the availability of competing alternatives. Since it’s extremely difficult to dispense
altogether with use of the U.S. mails, the individual is in fact forced to deal with the Postal
Service under conditions where the latter has a very large bargaining advantage.
The same is true -- despite the usual boilerplate about “consumer sovereignty” and “dollar
democracy” -- of situations in which a private sector corporation is able to charge a monopoly
price because the state restricts the number of competitors offering a similar good or service in
the market. In the case of Microsoft, it is copyrights and patents on software that enable the
company to charge more for Windows than the bare cost of a CD plus labor and shipping that a
Linux distro charges. And the structural effects of such state-enforced artificial scarcities are
much more widespread than that, considering the share of total corporate profits that results from
intellectual property in one way or another.
And it is equally true of the background conditions of the labor market. The availability of
employment opportunities reflects a distribution of capital ownership that is the legacy of
centuries of large-scale robbery and enclosure of most of the world’s land and natural resources,
expropriating peasants and forcing them into wage labor for their survival, slavery and large-
scale social controls over labor’s freedom of association and movement, and state enforcement --
right up to the present day -- of assorted monopoly rents that enable large concentrations of
property to collect compounded returns and keep growing in a small number of hands.
The creation of a capitalist labor market depended, historically, on the violent separation of
the laboring classes from the means of direct subsistence.
The primary effect of all these interventions is, as Franz Oppenheimer put it in The State, to
protect employers against competition from the possibility of self-employment. As a result the
number of opportunities for employment is artificially constrained compared to the number of
people competing, so that the job market is a buyer’s market for labor rather than a seller’s
market. Because labor’s ability to walk away from the bargaining table is artificially constrained
relative to that of employers, workers must either accept employment largely on employers’
terms or starve. In short, the labor market is not a neutral arena of voluntary contract between
equals, as per capitalist apologetics, but rather one in which bargaining power is systematically
shifted to one party at the other’s expense.
To approach individual interactions without reference to the larger background of power
relations against which they act is a clear case of what Bastiat called “the unseen.” The same is
true of approaching individual “free market reforms” piecemeal, from the perspective of an
agenda set by corporate interests, and without regard to the context of history in assessing the
nature of the state and its policies. Only in this case, the “unseen” is comparable to an elephant in
the living room: large-scale concentrations of wealth and economic power in the present day are
the result of centuries of systematic robbery, conquest and enslavement by which the propertied
classes of the West first expropriated the arable land of their own countries and forcibly drove
the laboring classes into wage employment, and then did the same to the land and natural
resources of the entire planet on an even larger and more violent scale.
What passes for a “free market” agenda in public discourse these days is, by and large, an
agenda set by the very heirs and assigns of these centuries of robbery and murder. Meanwhile,
the bulk of the mainstream libertarian movement in the United States is funded by the
beneficiaries of this robbery, and its agenda consists primarily of securing their permanent title to
their stolen loot and removing all restrictions on their use of it. If these facts remain “unseen” to
mainstream libertarians, it can only be a matter -- to paraphrase the Upton Sinclair -- of the
difficulty of persuading someone of a thing when their salary depends on their not seeing it.
This is not hyperbole. The classical liberalism of Smith and Ricardo was a genuinely radical
project that challenged the power of the dominant economic interests of its day -- the Whig
landed oligarchy of agrarian capitalists and the mercantile capitalists. Indeed, even before
industrial capital achieved ascendancy over these interests Smith pointed out the danger of their
alliance with the state and their use of political power to extract profit from workers and
consumers. Once industrial capital replaced the mercantile and agrarian interests as the dominant
political force in Britain, classical liberalism shifted to apologetic mode -- contemptuously
dismissed by Marx as “vulgar political economists” or “hired prize-fighters for capital.”
Marginalism, in turn, was also a political project to abandon those aspects of classical
political economy which had become political liabilities (e.g. Ricardo’s finding that profit, rent
and interest were deductions from value created by labor, which was a major spur to the
development of socialist thought in the early and mid-19th century) and to formulate a new
paradigm that could avoid those vulnerabilities.
This is not to say that marginalism was of no theoretical value -- far from it. Marginalism, if
integrated into the paradigm of classical political economy, would have provided an excellent
explanatory mechanism for how the laws of value worked. The decision, instead, to frame it as a
refutation of those laws of value was a political one, and the strategic goal was fending off
socialism’s threat to the power interests of capital. The framing of subjective utility as the source
of value, was as Lionel Hutz would put it, “the best kind of true -- technically true.” But framing
it as a refutation of cost theories of value was fundamentally dishonest. What this framing left
unsaid was that marginal utility determines value in the spot conditions of the market in a given
snapshot of time, in a totally static framework. But once the element of time is admitted and we
view it in a dynamic framework, even Jevons et al admitted that (in the case of reproducible
goods) the supply fluctuates over time in response to price levels until an equilibrium point is
reached at which the marginal utility of the last unit produced is equal to production cost.
As James Buchanan pointed out, classical political economy had two paradigms for the
source of value: one, based on cost of production, for goods in elastic supply; and one, based on
subjective utility, for goods in fixed supply like works of art or food in a besieged city.
Marginalism chose to apply the paradigm for goods in fixed supply to all goods. In so doing, it
achieved an increase in simplicity and theoretical elegance; but it did so at the cost of obscuring
basic phenomena like the relation between production cost and price. And I would argue that it
did so deliberately, in order to make the dominant economic model less useful to those
challenging the existing structure of power. Similarly, the choice to subsume land under capital
served the function of obscuring the nature of differential rent, whether the result of fertility or
location, as analyzed by Ricardo and George. The goal, as with Ingsoc, was to render certain
dangerous questions unaskable.
This politicization of “free market libertarianism” as an apologetic doctrine continued in the
twentieth century, with libertarians’ strategic anti-communist alliance with the Right, and the
primary orientation of movement libertarianism towards the use of “free enterprise” rhetoric to
defend capitalism and corporate power against challenges from the Left.
This is not to say that there have been no dissenting voices within the classical liberal and
free market traditions. There has always been a saving remnant of anti-capitalist free market
currents, thinkers like Thomas Hodgskin, Benjamin Tucker and the Boston individualists, Henry
George and twentieth century disciples like Borsodi, Franz Oppenheimer, and others who have
not bowed their knee to Baal. If what passes for “libertarianism” in public consciousness is ever
to be redeemed, it is the recovery of these marginalized voices which will bring it about.
If mainstream libertarianism is to have any relevance outside an echo chamber of white
middle class males who see big business as an oppressed minority and the oppressor class as a
coalition of black mothers on welfare, or libertarians are to be seen as anything but “pot-smoking
Republicans,” its adherents will have to cease being apologists for a system of power and start
acknowledging the context of existing power relations.
Commons, John R. 1934. Institutional Economics. New York: Macmillan.
Gambone, Larry. 2006. Blog comment under Kevin Carson, “Smarter Environmentalists,
Please” Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism (26 July).
George, Henry Jr. 1905. The Menace of Privilege. Hosted at
Gillis, William. 2018. A Simple Reform. Center for a Stateless Society (6 September)
Henley, Jim. 2008. Ask Me What the Secret of ‘L – TIMING! – ibalertarianism’ Is.
Unqualified Offerings (now defunct) (21 February). Reprinted at December 15, 2012
Long, Roderick. 1998. Toward a Libertarian Theory of Class. Social Philosophy & Policy,
Marx, Karl. 1887. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, volume 1. Edited by Friedrich
Engels. Translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. Chapter Ten: The working day.
Online version hosted at Marxists Internet Archive
Sciabarra, Chris M. 2000. Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. Penn State
Sciabarra. 2005. Dialectics and Liberty: A Defense of Dialectical Method in the Service of a
Libertarian Social Theory. The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty (September).
Silber, Arthur. 2003. In Praise of Contextual Libertarianism. Once Upon a Time.. (2
November) <
Kevin Carson is a senior fellow at Center for a Stateless Society and a freelance writer whose
work has appeared, in addition to C4SS, at P2P Foundation Blog, The Freeman and Future of
Freedom Foundation. He has four books in print -- Studies in Mutualist Political Economy,
Organization Theory, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution and The Desktop Regulatory State --
and is working on a fourth (draft manuscripts to-date can be found at Carson is an anarchist without adjectives who is heavily
influenced by the Boston individualists, Elinor Ostrom, commons-based peer production,
autonomism and municipalist movements in cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Barcelona, and
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Libertarianism needs a theory of class. This claim may meet with resistance among some libertarians. A few will say: “The analysis of society in terms of classes and class struggles is a specifically Marxist approach, resting on assumptions that libertarians reject. Why should we care about class?” A greater number will say: “We recognize that class theory is important, but libertarianism doesn't need such a theory, because it already has a perfectly good one.”
Blog comment under Kevin Carson
  • Larry Gambone
Gambone, Larry. 2006. Blog comment under Kevin Carson, "Smarter Environmentalists, Please" Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism (26 July).
The Menace of Privilege
  • Henry George
George, Henry Jr. 1905. The Menace of Privilege. Hosted at <>.
Ask Me What the Secret of 'L -TIMING! -ibalertarianism' Is
  • Jim Henley
Henley, Jim. 2008. Ask Me What the Secret of 'L -TIMING! -ibalertarianism' Is.
Chapter Ten: The working day. Online version hosted at Marxists Internet Archive <https
  • Karl Marx
Marx, Karl. 1887. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, volume 1. Edited by Friedrich Engels. Translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. Chapter Ten: The working day. Online version hosted at Marxists Internet Archive <>.
Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism
  • Chris M Sciabarra
Sciabarra, Chris M. 2000. Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. Penn State Press.
Dialectics and Liberty: A Defense of Dialectical Method in the Service of a Libertarian Social Theory
  • Sciabarra
Sciabarra. 2005. Dialectics and Liberty: A Defense of Dialectical Method in the Service of a Libertarian Social Theory. The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty (September).