kevin on anarchism w/o adj


Ep. 6: Roderick Long interviews KEVIN CARSON – YouTube

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90 min video – april 2020 – Ep. 6: Roderick Long interviews Kevin Carson

Roderick Long chats with anarchist theorist Kevin Carson about anarchism without adjectives, commons-based property forms, capitalist history, French colonialism, the uses and limitations of electoral politics, contemporary prospects for radical change, and the science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson and Ken MacLeod.

3 min – mid 30s read human scale by kirkpatrick sale.. had a lot of info that got me started on further investigation into political/econ decentralization.. subsidies.. econs.. dis econs of scale.. thinking about how state shifts econ upward and how capitalism depends on state.. state intervention.. started thinking of myself as an anarchist.. read on artificial property rights and scarcity via state.. i considered myself an individualist anarchist or mutualist for quite a long time..

on hold – thanks library.. only had human scale revisited

8 min – and then more recently started shifting again towards identifying more as an anarchist w/o adjectives rather than specifically being a market anarchist..t

9 min – part of it is how i see post capitalist transition.. as not some consensus to some ism..t i think transition is going to be driven by critical crisis tendencies of capitalism.. tendency of old hierarchies of state/big-business to disintegrate.. tendency of monopolies and artificial of property rights to become unenforceable.. tendency towards fiscal *exhaustion.. in which case various commons based institutions and local/social econs.. direct production for use et al.. will be things that people turn to out of necessity.. where survival is the killer app.. as unemployment increases.. et al.. mutualist mechs for pooling income/risks/costs.. providing social safety net outside of state or employee based systems..

*fuller too much law et al

11 min – i think the actual model it takes will be based on all the little seeds growing w/in the interstices of the current system that people turn to out of necessity.. driven by practice and needs rather than by ideology.. and the range of institutions people turn to will be pretty broad and vary widely..

12 min – so.. i’m extremely skeptical of any monolithic model of hyphenated anarchism.. whether based on markets or syndicates or whatever

13 min – commons are primarily a property model and markets are primarily a distribution model and generally property models are prior to markets.. the way i see it.. commons will be the dominate property model across the board.. individual property ownership.. small group co housing.. micro villages.. to wider commons based ownership models of natural resources.. land trusts.. given that initial property system.. markets are likely to be one of the expedience people resort to in distributing the outputs of these various social orgs

yeah.. i hope it’s semantics.. i see commoning as anti property.. and then ‘distribution/allocation’ as more of a natural dance.. than some system of distribution (which i think perpetuates – is same song as – that too much ness from above)

15 min – i guess my primary objection to the market anarchist label.. getting back to the whole problem of monolithic orgs is that the word market itself carries strong connotations of the cash nexus.. when i called myself a market anarchist i would put in the asterisk that believing in free markets doesn’t mean you want the cash nexus or market exchange to be hegemonic (ruling/dominant) social model.. it can coexist w the society where a plurality/majority of production takes place outside the money econ in direct social production.. but that just seemed to fall increasingly flat .. even with me because the very word market itself.. mercatu, mercatus, in its very roots means marketplace.. place where people engage in money exchange.. so referring to it as market anarchism had a lot of the same problems as referring to a market econ as capitalism.. privileging one factor of production.. i just finally decided there were more drawbacks to the term than there were benefits..

The word ‘market‘ has been derived from the Latin word “Mercatus” which means to trade, merchandise or a place where business is transacted. When used in general sense, market means a place where goods and services are purchased and sold. Thus buyers and sellers meet in the market for buying and selling the goods

market ness

marsh exchange law

16 min – i don’t reject horizontal planning outside the cash nexus at hand.. i’m pretty agnostic on the feasibility of that vs markets.. but getting back to what set me off on this.. the people who totally reject markets vs the people who lionize them..

17 min – i guess i take graeber’s position.. in that i’m open to anything that face to face groups of people decide to work out between themselves from a position of equality when there’s no state and no armed enforcers at anyone’s back *imposing their will on anyone else

mutual exchange symposium – kevin on 100 flowers

*telling people what to do

i really can’t see *markets not being part of the mix

but what if *that idea/calculation of exchange is the very thing that keeps us from *not imposing..(meaning it keeps us imposing)

what we need is an ue: in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

what i really can’t imagine is pretty much what graeber himself said he couldn’t imagine and that’s the majority of people in society recognizing someone else’s decision to just draw a line around on a map and fence off an area they claim for themselves and demand that anyone who works that piece of ground.. give them a portion of the product of their labor in return for their right to work it.. i just don’t see a robinson crusoe scenario working like that in any case where robinson is not the only person on the island w a gun.. i think people will just ignore the absentee property titles.. knock the fences down.. start planting turnips..

i agree.. but i don’t think that’s legit commoning

if we were legit commoning.. we wouldn’t be drawing lines et al.. and we wouldn’t be calculating who worked enough to get products et al

20 min – on people thinking state protecting private property as natural..(?) when predominate model throughout history individual property has always relied on states.. seemed to arise w agri..

23 min – on exodus – theme is on shift from postcapitalist transition models.. based on centralized/hierarchical.. coordinating overthrow of capitalism.. transition dependent on seizure of higher institutions.. arguing that an increasing transition .. w new techs that make commons based more feasible and efficient.. (think i got title – exodus from hardt/negri ) make new societies in the interstices of the present one outside the dominant state/corp institutions and to gradually .. uh..


michael hardt/antonio negri

26 min – john hollaway (change the world w/o taking power) called it ‘making cracks in system.. and then linking cracks up w each other’ and i think that’s a model that’s been promoted by a lot of anarchists..

yeah.. i think (depending on how you look at it).. we could hasten that process of reverse it.. ie: imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

john holloway

colin ward (anarchy in action) is a leading figure that comes to mind.. linking up all these counter institutions

yeah.. see i think that drags/keeps the cancer with us.. linking counter institutions (defense).. rather than listening to 8b daily curiosities

colin ward

27 min – and it was erik olin wright (envisioning real utopias).. he elaborated a lot on interstitial transition models.. but wright was an open marxist which among a lot of other things.. differed from orthodox marxism and not seeing a definite/strongly/likely crises tendencies in capitalism that could be counted on to bring it to and end.. so his approach was almost entirely volunteeristic in terms of saying.. let’s build these interstitial things and try to replace the current system.. he said we shouldn’t count of capitalism having any pre ordained end.. or being a system w an end as well as a beginning.. we should be promoting interstitial development of post capitalism on the assumption that the system could survive forever if we don’t do anything to change that

erik olin wright

karl marx

28 min – so.. i think what i’m adding is some of the more traditional leftist assumptions about crisis tendencies of capitalism and how those will intersect w interstitial development .. to promote it.. and to create room for it

31 min – on some saying.. there can be no meaningful changes/shifts in post capitalist direct under ‘capitalism’.. (ie: reform vs revolution) with the assumption capitalism is some form of all of nothing essence.. either under it or outside it.. with no transitional point in between.. the idea that engels himself.. and the vulgar marxists.. discussed of the transformation of quantity into quality where there’s a long series of incremental changes w/in an existing system.. that shifts its character in certain direction until finally reaches a critical mass and a systemic tipping point.. that’s something that they themselves seem to be ruling out

32 min – seem to be taking realist position on the significance of word capitalism.. as some aristotelion idea.. that system either displays or does not display

33 min – to me the very distinction between reform and revolution is meaningless.. would you say feudalism transitioned into capitalism thru reform of thru revolution.. and what does it even mean to ask a thing like that

35 min – r: on no transitions in history being on the spot.. all gradual.. and just subsets of people making change

36 min – to take a less vulgar marxist framework.. is to take any system as a number of coexisting formations..

37 min – william gibson – future already here just not distributed evenly

but today.. we do have the means to leap (aka: distribute evenly from the get go)

on saying capitalist institutions can’t take on socialist character.. when its partial role of system it’s embedded in ie: guild having same names et al in future centuries.. but fundamentally diff institutions..

39 min – andrew robinson described long term transition process between hierarchy and network based systems.. continuity yet fundamental change.. ie: co’s able to make transitions becoming more network like et al

43 min – i guess my overall point is that the really vulgar marxists who say there can’t be any kind of post capitalism transition under capitalism are mistaking words for things and mistaking the map for the territory

44 min – (on exodus) – the first 6 chapters.. are mainly concerned w contrasting the new exodus based model w old left model.. ie: interstitial development, gradual transition, shift away from worker/labor ism.. from mass & hierarchy to horizontal org.. pretty much finished w those..

45 min – main thing i’m working on now is ch 7 – broken into 3 parts.. pretty much describing in detail various building blocks of post capitalist society that i see us bringing up in the interstices of current capitalist society.. its’ heavy on commons based.. local counter institutions like land trusts, alt currencies, municipal broadband, participatory govt on partner state model and on larger political movements like the new municipalist projects in barcelona or cooperation jackson or the cleveland evergreen model and so on.. and i hope to have it done by the end of this year

46 min – manuscripts today found at:


47 min – my main source of hope.. besides all the unprecedented levels of resistance i never thought i would see in the near term.. ie: people burning police precinct to ground in minneapolis and majority of public supporting them; or just levels of resistance in the streets; people blocking courts to stop evictions;..

48 min – so that’s one source of hope.. but i think more than anything it’s just how incredibly fluid things are.. how many diff black swan events are intersecting at same time.. as much of a threat of authoritarianism there is from trump w things like delaying elections; sending fed troops into democratic cities; sabotaging mail;.. it’s such an incredibly fluid situation.. i really just can’t imagine anything he did like that.. even if he went all out.. having any sting power.. because i think the situation would continue to be as fluid afterwards as it is now

50 min – and in the mean time we’ve got all these interstitial developments growing like wild flower that i think do have some sting power

51 min – i’m thinking that if there’s some serious disruption.. i think we’d see an order of magnitude increase of people out in the streets.. absolutely shutting down.. possible spur nationwide rent/debt/general strike.. it would be a more than once in a century level of radicalization/disruption.. and i don’t think anything resembling the old system could survive it

53 min – i think there’s a good chance figures like trump, johnson, bolsonaro are the ghost dance of the old system.. the last hurrah

56 min – i don’t see electoral politics as achieving revolution or transition in the first place.. i see it as a way of desperately throwing forces into reach in order to buy time/space for all the important things.. basically all i can hope for .. creating benign background to staving off actual fascism.. the real work to be done is outside the state.. but it will be a lot easier w/o a fascist/bureaucratist in the white house

58 min – i reread kim stanley robinsons’ mars trilogy and new york 2140.. i think his post revolutionary margin society is probably closet fictional scenario i’ve see to a partner state model.. planetary govt.. more a support platform for self governing local communities.. that a west state in the classical sense

59 min – handful of rules for org of society.. more of a property rules os.. ie: land is social commons; firm in hands of labor force; et al.. planetary govt.. just a standing judiciary to enforce theses laws by legal claims.. and rights of planet against pollution/extraction.. a horizontal network of horizontal communes.. w small standing govt body to keep things running

1:01 – who was it that came up w phrase.. admin of things rather than legislation over human beings.. sasemo (?).. and oppenheimer for that matter

140 more of a burning crash book.. climax lower manhattan submerged.. people living in sky scrapers.. floating platforms.. homeless by hurricane forced to move to refugee camps in central park.. after couple weeks of that fed up.. marched into upper manhattan.. luxury towers almost entirely empty and owned by billionaires around world as real estate investment.. and they attempted to move into these big towers and the mercenary security firms hired by billionaires.. fired onto people trying to move into towers.. captured on video by host of popular program in the cloud.. watched by billions of people.. showed tower standing empty while people lived out in weather.. and showed firing to crowds.. and she said.. that’s enough.. rent/debt/loan strike now.. we bring this system down.. turn banks into coops under popular control.. cancel debt.. all the graeber stuff.. and that’s why i said.. hell yeah.. really like that

1:07 – 2312 not quite same universe but similar

1:08 – r: kim’s (3 californias trilogy) – his strained utopia version.. constant struggle..

1:09 – sounds like ken macleod’s fall revolutionary..

1:14 – kim’s years of rise and salt – one of better alt’s – what might world look like if western culture hadn’t dominated

1:23 – study i just finished for cs4s.. the notion of private property.. her argument was that primitive accumulation .. enclosure not dominate reason for rise in wealth.. it’s very much the reason for imbalance and who wealth was distributed to.. may be true that stealing form poor not good in short terms.. but for accumulated smaller groups of wealth/dominance..very helpful..

1:26 – a lot more valuable to workers they displaced that capitalist’s that took it over.. one of best ie’s of how marginalized populations have econ incentive to make much more efficient use of minimal resources they have and extract max value form them.. whereas dominate classes take over them and treat land et al as almost unlimited resource.. and wind up w farmers w 1000s acres w govt paying them out to keep it out of use.. that’s the growth model capitalism has pursued from beginning.. wind up w counter econ..

1:29 – vinay gupta’s unplugged – short story set in future.. working class opting out and w advantage of open source.. buying out at top.. modern pre fab et al.. alt energy.. micro manufacture.. could buy into a counter econ to obtain share.. 10s of millions of people unplugged from mainstream society modeling that.. classic ie of tech innovations that marginalized pops come up with.. because don’t have unlimited land to throw at capital..

1:31 – growing up as a junk yard dog econ.. running circles around old corp dinosaurs


tweet from earlier (found on kevin’s page as i am cleaning things a bit there) – links to kevin’s post on anarchism w/o adjectives

MUST READ: ‘Anarchism Without Adjectives’ by @KevinCarson1

Original Tweet:

we need to spend less time like Thomas More drafting out all the details of a future libertarian utopia, right down to the food and architecture, and spend more time talking to our neighbors and figuring out ways of cooperating and getting along without the state telling us what to do.

article written 2015 (adding more notes/quotes from it now – 2020):

The “anarchism without adjectives” position was a reaction to this kind of doctrinaire model-building, and the resulting conflicts between the proponents of various totalizing blueprints for society .. The basic idea was that anarchists should stop feuding over the specific economic model of a future anarchist society, and leave that for people to work out for themselves as they saw fit. Economic ideas like Proudhon’s mutualism, Tucker’s individualist free enterprise and Kropotkin’s communism were complementary, and in a post-state society a hundred flowers would bloom from one locality, one social grouping, to the next.

kevin on 100 flowers

David Graeber has argued for something like this. He expresses skepticism that anything like anarcho-capitalism could exist for very long on a significant scale, with a large number of people willingly working as wage laborers for a minority, so long as access to the means of production is relatively easy and there are no cops to exclude people from vacant land. After all, Robinson Crusoe’s “master” relationship over Friday depended on him having already “appropriated” the entire island and having a gun. But so long as economic arrangements are a matter of negotiation between equals, and nobody’s in a position to call in men with guns to enforce their will on others, he’s happy to just wait and see what happens.

david graeber

So what can we say about the general outlines of a stateless society? First, it will emerge as a result of the ongoing exhaustion, hollowing out and retreat of large hierarchical institutions like state, corporation, large bureaucratic university, etc. It will generally be based on some kind of horizontalism (prefigured by movements like the Arab Spring, M15 and Occupy) combined with self-managed local institutions. Second, its building blocks will be the counter-institutions cropping up everywhere even now to fill the void left as state and corporation erode: Community gardens, permaculture, squats, hackerspaces, alternative currency systems, commons-based peer production, the sharing economy, and in general all forms of social organization based on voluntary cooperation and new ultra-efficient technologies of small-scale production. And third, to the extent that it reflects any common ideology at all, it will be an attachment to values like personal autonomy, freedom, cooperation and social solidarity. But the specifics will be worked out in a thousand particular ways, far too diverse to be encompassed by any verbal model like “communism” or “markets” (in the sense of the cash nexus).

Even if we stipulate starting from basic assumptions like the broadest understanding of self-ownership and the nonaggression principle (not that even a majority of the anarchist movement actually comes from the philosophical tradition which regards these as words to conjure with), that means very little in terms of the practical rules that can be deduced from them.

why we need to go deeper – and just have infra based on what is the essence of human being (ie: talking in terms of selfproperty and nonaggression is too restricting/limiting/non-resonating to 8b people.. need to get deeper)

There is simply no way, starting from basic axioms like self-ownership and nonaggression, to deduce any particular rules that are both obvious and necessary on issues like (for example) whether I have the right to intervene to stop an animal being tortured by its “owner,” or what the specific rules should be for squatters’ rights and constructive abandonment of a property long left idle

again.. yeah.. too restricting/limiting/non-resonating to 8b people.. need to get deeper

Even the definition of physical aggression against an individual is, to a large extent, culturally defined.

to the aggression.. i think having the infra deep enough would take care of that .. make it irrelevant s.. bikeshedding ness..

via meeting deeper needs first.. gershenfeld something else law et al

The same is true for varying cultural definitions of the boundary between person and environment, and how much of the surrounding physical environment not actually part of the human body can be regarded as an extension of the self or an envelope of “personal space.” Bear in mind that common law definitions of assault assume such a spatial envelope, and include actions short of physically touching another person’s body with one’s own.

this is the beginnings of inspectors of inspectors.. no matter how nice/vital we make it sound

irrelevant if our econ is like oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space

Any post-state society will include both individuals and communities adhering to many conflicting ideas of just what “freedom,” “autonomy” and “rights” entail. Whatever “law code” communities operate by will be worked out, not as obvious logical deductions from axioms, but through constant interaction between individuals and groups asserting their different understandings of what rights and freedom entail.

or maybe we’ll find ‘law code’ as irrelevant.. ie: too busy doing the thing(s) we can’t not do to need them

And it will be worked out after the fact of such conflicts, through the practical negotiations of the mediating and adjudicating bodies within communities.

again.. i’m thinking this part won’t even be an issue.. ie: gershenfeld something else law; your own song ness; et al

In other words, we need to spend less time like Thomas More drafting out all the details of a future libertarian utopia, right down to the food and architecture, and spend more time talking to our neighbors and figuring out ways of cooperating and getting along without the state telling us what to do.

rather.. w/o anyone telling us/anyone what to do

ie: 2 convers as infra

we need to let go that much.. or the dance won’t dance – and we’ll just keep perpetuating the tragedy of the non common


from kevin on 100 flowers:

I am not only an agnostic on the question of which particular forms of coordination are more efficient. I also refrain, as a matter of principle, from prescribing any particular form of coordination or privileging it over alternative forms. I consider myself an anarchist without adjectives, and I think it’s a near certainty that post-state, post-capitalist society will be an anarchy without adjectives. Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, as the saying goes. Like David Graeber, I am open to whatever expedients that groups of people come up with and agree to, *dealing with one another as equals. .t

yeah.. i think we’ve been trying that.. (to me that’s part\ial ness.. and that incremental ness of the partial.. is keeping us out of sync.. so the dance will never fully dance.. we’ll just end up with 100 flowers.. instead of all of us).. and now that we have the means to facil/listen-to 8b people .. everyday.. we can’t keep doing part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake

i think the key (that we keep missing) is that there is a means to have one org/infra for all of us.. that doesn’t adjectivize any of us.. that doesn’t keep any of us from our fittingness.. that allows all of us to *deal w one another as equals..

and i think the key/means is to org around what is essential to human being.. to human scale perhaps.. ie: maté basic needs 2018.. (rock or flower ness)



to me..

and i think what got me to the conclusion is our biggest hinderance is our our hierarchical listening (you/i can’t hear me now)

our findings:

1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people


from david‘s fragments of an anarchist anthropology:


pierre bourdieu once noted that if the academic field is a game in which scholars strive for dominance, then you know you have won when other scholars start wondering how to make an adjective out of your name..




graeber anarchism law

fragments of an anarchist anthropology

kevin on 100 flowers