Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
On Dissolving the State, and What to Replace It With

The following article was written by Kevin Carson and published on the Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-CapitalismMarch 8th, 2008.

You may have noticed the neat little quote I put at the head of this blog:

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. –P. J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the XIX Century.

That’s a theme I’ve been writing on since I started blogging, starting with this post: “Building the Structure of the New Society Within the Shell of the Old.”

I found some great items on the same general theme in the past week or so:

1. Jim Henley:

To a libertarian, much of what the state does looks like providing crutches or shackles. To an anarchist, I suppose everything the state does looks like that. Crutches are actually important for the injured. If you’re to completely heal, though, you have to give them up at the right time. And some badly injured people are never going to be able to do without them – e.g. my mother with her walker….

So we want to remove most or all crutches and shed most or all shackles, depending on how, for lack of a better term, anarchistic we are. But which shackles and which crutches when? The “liberal” “libertarian” answer is: first take the crutches from those best able to bear their own weight, and remove the shackles from the weak before the strong. So: corporate welfare before Social Security before Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Drug prohibition before marginal income tax rates.

As Jim says, it’s a messed-up state that systematically creates poverty through the enforcement of special privilege, and then uses welfare programs to ameliorate a small part of the poverty and inequality caused by its own policies. “But it’s a messed-up libertarianism that looks at that situation and says, ‘Man, first thing we gotta do is get rid of that welfare!‘” Or as I once put it,

If the privilege remains, statist “corrective” action will be the inevitable result. That’s why I don’t get too bent out of shape about the statism of the minimum wage or overtime laws–in my list of statist evils, the guys who are breaking legs rank considerably higher than the ones handing out government crutches. All too many libertarians could care less about the statism that causes the problems of income disparity, but go ballistic over the statism intended to alleviate it. It’s another example of the general rule that statism that helps the rich is kinda sorta bad, maybe, I guess, but statism that helps the poor is flaming red ruin on wheels.

2. Howard Zinn:

Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice….

In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including a general strike in Minneapolis, a general strike in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils formed all over the country. Desperate people were taking action on their own, defying the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.

3. The Solidarity Economy Network (the subject of this post) now has its own website: The U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN): Supporting & connecting the emerging U.S. solidarity economy movement.