Director’s Report: October 2014

October marks another productive month for C4SS. Maybe not as productive in quantity, but certainly in quality. C4SS is a media center and think tank: we focus on crafting editorials for mass media reproduction (over 2000 reprints, and counting, documented) and academic level studies.

Each month we invest more and more into book reviews and studies. We are honored by the opportunity to publish Dr. Mark Hyde’s study critiquing Chile’s “privatized” pension system and we have four more studies on the way covering such topics as: Property and Power, Famous Anarchists, Libertarian Environmentalism, and Bitcoin Crypto-equity.

October is the month we began publishing the reviews of David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years that we have collected. If you haven’t yet, check out William GillisDebt: The Possibilities Ignored.

We also found time for another volley against Paul Krugman‘s mythology regarding economic history, state power and presidential beneficence. And we have successfully funded our Tor node just in time to begin raising funds to send C4SS Fellows to Libertopia and ISFLC.

Building viable and disruptive institutional alternatives, with their attendant and supportive ecosystems, require, among other things, enthusiasm, participation and resources. Each factor contains important information required to make course, budget and growth decisions. C4SS is an organization that operates predominately on your support. Our growth and influence, since 2006, has been slow and steady, but we would love to do more. We want to do more, but we need your help.

If C4SS, as an organization and an idea, is something you like having around or would like to see do more things (like funding more studies, publishing more books, helping with travel expenses for writers to speak at events, updating the youtube graphics, etc), then, please, donate $5 today.

What will $5 a month get you from C4SS? Well let’s see,

For the month of October, C4SS published:

20 Commentaries,
Weekly Abolitionists,
Weekly Libertarian Leftist Reviews,
2 Blog posts,
Reviews, and
20 C4SS Media uploads to the C4SS youtube channel.

And, thanks to the dedication of our Media Coordinators and translators, C4SS translated and published:

1 Dutch Translation,
Italian translations,
Spanish translations (1 more than September),
Portuguese translations

We Need Your Help to Meet You in Person

The libertarian world is full of meet and greet opportunities from book fairs to conferences. At the moment there are two events that we are currently raising money for in order to secure a C4SS presence: Libertopia and ISFLC 2015.


Libertopia is a prominent annual conference/festival exploring radical libertarian theory and practice.  This year’s meeting will be in San Diego, Nov. 13-16.

$400 will get us a booth at the upcoming Libertopia meeting to promote our literature and to engage conference attendees in conversation about left-libertarian ideas.

Please help the fund the Revolution!

The International Students For Liberty Conference is the year’s premier gathering of libertarian minds from all over the world – and C4SS is a mere $500 away from getting a table at this event. This is a wonderful oppertunity to further imbue radical left anarchist ideas into the mainstream libertarian project.

Every penny counts and the Center appreciates any and all help you are willing to give. Let’s get C4SS to ISFLC 2015!

Please help out both fundraisers today with a $5 donation!

C4SS and Tor

We are happy to inform everyone, especially the Tor community, that we have secured the donations needed to maintain our Tor node for another quarter. We want to thank everyone that contributed towards making this happen.

Debt: The Possibilities Ignored

We have decided against waiting and will begin publishing what articles we have reviewing David Graeber’s Debt:The First 5000 Years. Our first article is by William Gillis: Debt: The Possibilities Ignored.

It’s no secret that economists and libertarians have developed a bad habit of assuming things about history and other societies on first principle without actually checking archaeological or anthropological findings. On occasion the divide can be quite stark. David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years gets a lot of momentum by attacking a widely circulated economic fable purporting to explain the origin of currency wherein coinage precedes credit. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the “I need a blanket and all I have to barter with are five chickens but everyone in my village likes cowry shells” dilemma at the start of elementary economics textbooks has no clear historical basis; there’s little evidence small tribes or villages needed to invent physical currency to facilitate market exchange internally because reputation and credit are far more natural and flexible.

To say this is sympathetic territory for me would be an understatement. In my longest essay in Markets Not Capitalism I emphasized the role reputation and goodwill play in relationships as more fundamental and foundational than property titles and critiqued the recurring assumption that property titles are inherent to all societies. Even though my conclusion was a full-throated defense of property titles, albeit repositioned as a looser, less absolute, second order derivation from goodwill and reputation, you might be forgiven for expecting a strictly positive review of Graeber’s breakout book. Certainly many of my colleagues did. And there is a lot to be found of value in Debt for libertarians and anarchists of all stripes. It is a refreshingly audacious work hearkening towards the kind of grand theory building radicals used to do and I’ve found myself handing it out to young activists hungry for something of more audacity and scope than Gelderloos or Bonanno. It’s been far too long since a work of anarchist theory topped bestseller lists. And anything that so flusters and discombobulates liberals, marxists, and vulgar libertarians alike is surely of value.

However Debt is not without its flaws, some of them quite vexing. …

In early November we will publish Kevin Carson’s contribution to our understanding of Graeber’s Debt.

New Wine in Old Bottles

Daniel Pryor, C4SS’s second intern, has published a review, New Wine in Old Bottles, of Kevin Carson’s first study written for C4SS: Industrial Policy: New Wine In Old Bottles.

… There is a world of possibility in disruptive technology, with ideas for decentralisation waiting in the minds of an increasingly anti-state, tech-savvy generation.

This modularization is not confined to the digital realm. In fact, physical manufacturing is the main focus of Carson’s work. Citing the unsustainability of the Sloanist industrial model – which fetishizes “enormous market areas and costly, product-specific machinery” – he demonstrates the superiority of localised production. Emilia-Romanga (a prosperous region of Italy) is used as a case-study for community-based supply chains, small-scale general purpose machinery and a style of manufacturing that is far more responsive to local demand. The advantages of local production, especially in an anarchist society, are made clear. Less intermediary steps in the chain of production give regions more resilience to economic downturns, whilst workers’ bargaining power is improved as wage labour becomes an optional supplement to the income of self-sufficient households. …

The Anarchist as Lover

The most popular feature published in September is Ryan Calhoun‘s The Anarchist as Lover.

… Love is not solidarity. Solidarity is nothing more than loyalty to the cause of a group. It isn’t love. I am told often why I should have solidarity with this group or that despite any personal connection with those involved, despite my judgment on the rightness of their actions. It is not love because love isn’t loyal. Love is infatuated, it is dedicated, it will not merely speak a word of agreement and obedience with The Cause. Lovers do not require obedience. What would you not do for those you love? Do you have to be put in line and told what to love? No, we do not need that kind of dedication to our fellows. We need angered, impassioned, unstoppable individuals guided by their connection with those around them, with those who have shown us they are worth us fighting for and along side. …

Wildness as Praxis

Grant Mincy is C4SS’s resident expert on ecology and environmental activism. He has a fantastic new study on how property rights, political power, the anthropocene and ecology relate to each other within an left market anarchist context. His feature article, Wildness as Praxis gives us a hint of what to expect in this upcoming study.

… The question then becomes, what will follow? The answer is something both beautiful and complex, while liberating and dynamic. Perhaps it is time to revisit our classical naturalists — of which there are plenty. However, one thing that John Muir (or your favorite historical eco-advocate) and his ilk had was a connection to the natural world and a desire for conservation. They did not much care to talk about what governments ought to do, but rather what they ought not do. Environmental achievement was obtained by pronouncing the splendid beauty of natural ecosystems, the challenges facing nature, and the innate need to protect wild spaces — even for our own well-being. Muir and other environmental advocates also practiced their ideals as they labored for the great outdoors.

In order to meet the demands of a changing Earth we will have to adapt. We will be required to constantly change, just like our mountains and rivers. Anarchist and Deep-Ecologist Gary Snyder, in his essay, The Etiquette of Freedom, describes, in great detail, the need to reclaim the words nature, wilderness and wildness — and it is in wildness that we will discover anarchism. …

Classical Liberalism and Conservatism

Speaking of studies, C4SS is honored to publish a detailed critique of Chile’s “private” pension system written by Dr. Mark Hyde. In Dr. Hyde’s Classical Liberalism and Conservatism: How is Chile’s Pension System Best Conceptualised?, yet another privatization scheme is exposed as a conservative defense of a corporate status quo,

… In view of this evidence of policy design and outcomes then, the assertion that the architects of Chile’s multi-pillar retirement system created a “private” pension arrangement that was compatible with the core principles of classical liberalism is looking highly questionable. In reality, there are many stark points of contrast between its design and these tenets, particularly the classical liberal emphasis on the primacy of liberty. But if Chile’s “private” pension arrangement during our period of analysis cannot be regarded as a particular instantiation of classical liberal principles, how is it best described?

According to one authoritative historian of economic affairs, the deployment of state power to augment the wealth, power, and authority of corporate elites is not characteristic of laissez faire, neither did it emerge during the “neoliberal” era of the late 20 th century. Rather, the growing prominence of conservative economic policy and regulation on behalf of corporate elites can be traced back to the very early 20th century when large business enterprises were confronted by smaller and more efficient firms in intensely competitive markets. Characteristically, corporate elites responded to this challenge not by rationalising productive effort in order become more competitive, but by seeking preferential treatment from the state in the form of market privileges and subsidies. These early statutory measures laid the foundations for the institutionalisation of a very distinctive but prevalent form of capitalism, as acknowledged by scholars at different points across the ideological spectrum. …

The conservative commitment to the market is also very distinctive, endorsing individualism and competition to the extent that both can be a source of the wealth, power and authority of corporate elites; and thus subordinating the market to the goal of sustaining a hierarchical social order. This means ultimately that conservatism adopts a “pragmatic attitude towards the economy, realising that compromise and concession may have to be made to maintain social order” …

Poor Paul Krugman

September was our month against vulgar libertarians with Reason Magazine; October is our month against the vulgar liberalism of Paul Krugman.

Paul Krugman: “Leave Obama Alone”
Paul Krugman Stops Worrying About Income Inequality
To Paul Krugman: Thou Art the Man

First Trevor Hultner, in his Paul Krugman: “Leave Obama Alone”, goes after his Rolling Stone love letter to Obama’s presidency:

In his recent Rolling Stone cover story (“In Defense of Obama,” October 8), Nobel Prize-winning economist, peak liberal and New York Times commentator Paul Krugman lays out what he believes is a qualified defense of Barack Obama’s presidency: A sycophantic love letter from a man who surely must know better, but either has chosen to ignore six years of war, economic pain and social tension, or simply doesn’t care. …

Then Joel Schlosberg and Thomas Knapp go after his powers of threat assessment and solution recommendation:

… Contra Krugman’s beloved historical myth that “the robber baron era ended when we as a nation decided that some business tactics were out of line,” any potential robber-baron power Amazon wields depends on the very same uniform, artificially large-scale federal transportation and postal shipping infrastructure that locked in the profits of the Gilded Age business cartels. Dismantling those subsidies, not propping up publishing’s Hachettes, would be the real way to keep Amazon honest.

And Kevin Carson, with his To Paul Krugman: Thou Art the Man, had the honor of the coup de grâce, taking aim at his mythology regarding a defeated and state antagonistic era of the Robber Baron,

… To repeat, the Robber Baron Era never ended. And far from being the Robber Barons’ enemy, the US government has been their chief tool for survival to this day. And perhaps the single most important function of the US government in upholding corporate power is enforcing “intellectual property,” so central to the business models of the proprietary content industries in the Democratic coalition. The most profitable industries in the global economy — entertainment, software, biotech, pharma, electronics — all depend on “intellectual property.” “Intellectual property” is central to the dominant industrial model by which Western corporations outsource all actual production to independent shops working on contract, but use patents or trademarks to retain monopoly rights over disposal of the product. …

The Robber Barons are with us just as much as ever, their power depends entirely on the capitalist state, and “progressives” like Paul Krugman — wittingly or unwittingly — are their shills.

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ALL the best!

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