Support C4SS with Kevin Carson’s “The Subsidy of History”

C4SS has teamed up with the Distro of the Libertarian Left. The Distro produces and distribute zines and booklets on anarchism, market anarchist theory, counter-economics, and other movements for liberation. For every copy of Kevin Carson‘s “The Subsidy of History” that you purchase through the Distro, C4SS will receive a percentage. Support C4SS with Kevin Carson‘s “The Subsidy of History“.

$1.00 for the first copy. $0.75 for every additional copy.

This article – excerpted from Kevin Carson’s groundbreaking essay “The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand” (2001) – examines capitalist eco­nom­ic privilege through the lens of the historical dispossession of workers and peasants, and the radically deformed markets dynamics struct­ur­ed by these systematic, consolidating transfers of wealth – opening up discussions on the role of the state in forging and shaping corporate power and in driving workers into sweat­shop labor; as well as the trans­formative possibilities of decentral­iz­ed, liberated markets freed from state-capitalist exploit­ation.

“Manorialism, commonly, is recognized to have been founded by robbery and usurpation; a rul­ing class established itself by force, and then com­pel­led the peasantry to work for the profit of their lords. But no system of exploitation, in­clud­ing cap­it­al­ism, has ever been created by the action of a free market. Capitalism was founded on an act of rob­bery as mass­ive as feudalism. It has been sus­tain­ed to the present by contin­u­al state inter­ven­tion to protect its system of privilege, without which its survival is unimaginable. The current structure of capital own­er­ship and org­an­iz­ation of production in our so-called ‘market’ eco­n­omy, re­flects coercive state intervention prior to and ex­trane­ous to the market. From the outset of the industrial re­vol­ut­ion, what is nostalgically called “laissez-faire” was in fact a system of continuing state intervention to sub­sid­ize ac­cum­ulation, guarantee privilege, and maintain work disci­pline. . . .”

“A world in which peas­ants had held onto their land and property was widely distributed, capital was free­ly available to laborers through mutual banks, productive tech­n­ology was freely avail­able in every country without pat­ents, and every people was free to develop locally without col­on­ial robbery, is beyond our imagination. But it would have been a world of decentralized, small-scale production for local use, own­ed and controlled by those who did the work – as dif­fer­ent from our world as day from night, or freedom from slavery. . . .”

Kevin A. Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and a prolific writer on subjects including free-market anti-capitalism, the in­div­idualist anarchist tradition, grassroots technology and radical unionism. He keeps a blog at and frequently publishes short columns and longer research reports for the Center for a Stateless Society (

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory