Feature Articles
Seriously, What Is Mark Thornton Talking About?
Someone dear to me (who I’ll leave unnamed) has a rule that before you say anything, you should consider these three questions: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? And if two of the three criteria are met then you can go ahead and speak your mind. I’m afraid what I have to…
Response to Aurora Apolito
In “The Problem of Scale in Anarchism and the Case for Cybernetic Communism,” Aurora Apolito writes: I don’t believe that markets can be “liberated” from capitalism, nor that they can do anything good anyway, regardless of their liberated status. In essence, this is because I view the market mechanism as running on a steepest descent…
Relitigating Decentralization: Response to M Black
I must confess no small horror on reading M Black’s contribution to this Mutual Exchange. A self-professed anarchist, defending centralization? I would normally let such arguments fall on their face alone, but if we are to platform them in this exchange I feel a moral obligation to reiterate basic reality. My response will be divided…
Modern Money Theory: Using Authoritarians’ Tools Against Them
For a few years now, Modern Money Theory, or MMT, has been the hottest buzzword in economics. The insights of MMT regarding our nation’s spending debate have been simultaneously misunderstood, disregarded, and celebrated. In this essay I will explain the central argument of MMT. I will explore why its conclusions are dangerous in the wrong…
In Memoriam: David Graeber, 1961-2020
It’s conventional to start an obituary article with a brief biographical summary, so here it is. One of David’s pet peeves was being referred to as an anarchist anthropologist, so I’ll say that David Graeber, an anarchist and an anthropologist, died at age 59 Wednesday, September 3rd in Venice of as yet unreported causes.  He…
Biden and the Demonization of Anarchism
This year, in response to nationwide protests against police brutality, President Donald Trump has repeatedly attempted to associate Black Lives Matter with anarchists and anarchism. He has tweeted such threatening posts as just the phrase “Anarchists, we see you!” with a video of a man dressed in black at one protest, and he has referred…
When Facebook Bans Peaceful Anarchists But Not The Violent State
“The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime.” – Max Stirner On August 19th, 2020, Facebook finally buckled under immense social and political pressure and announced new content moderation rules focusing on “violent organizations and individuals,” specifically “offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations [which…
Defaults and Choice Architecture: Lessons From Nudge
Many have written here at C4SS about how our choices are artificially limited under the current system, as have many anti-capitalists throughout history. This often leads our critics to brand us as political malcontents, full of complaints about the ills of capitalism but ultimately unable to offer a satisfactory alternative that fixes our current problems….
Complexity As a Fundamental Diseconomy of Scale
I want to begin by praising Apolito’s piece. It both tackles the strongest argument against anarchism, the problem of achieving coordination at scale, and models the problem using insights from the cluster of fields that lie at the base of complex systems. Whatever my disagreements with them over markets, this is a welcome addition to…
Pandemics and the Threat From Adults
Self-defense is one of those terms that is revered. In a political context, it is regarded as a hard-won revolution with its sacredness and instruments enshrined in amendments and on t-shirts.  You have the right to defend yourself. This month (August 2020), politicians must decide if schools are going to reopen during an active pandemic….
Bad People: Irredeemable Individuals & Structural Incentives
Contrary to the assertions of some leftists there are in fact thoroughly monstrous people who are not just victims of their social conditions. Humans vary. We each follow somewhat random paths in the development of our values and instincts, buffeted by a million tiny butterfly wings of context that can never be managed or predicted….
Riot Journalism
How to ethically cover social unrest is a complex debate, it is also an increasingly necessary one “A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, 1966 Bogota, Colombia – Civil unrest is often the only available tool for people without voices. From the United States, to Berlin, to India, to Moscow,…
Revealed Preferences and Deliberation: A Defense
Emmi Bevensee’s article “Social-Anarchism and Parallel Economic Computation” is an excellent and important introduction to the challenges that complexity poses for economic planning. I think Emmi’s conclusion—that we need to sketch what the limits of planning are and pursue alternative mechanisms beyond this point—is a good one, as is pointing out that problems arise when…
Centrifugal Tendencies in Information & Wealth
I’m a big fan of Aurora and hope that her contribution to this symposium helps encourage more anarchists to engage fearlessly with the mathematical dynamics of an anarchist society. But I must admit my disappointment, I was hoping her contribution would seriously engage with the arguments for markets and either present a novel alternative or…
Maximum Viable Economic Planning: The Basis of New Economies
A tweet jokingly showing James C. Scott centrally planning his small chicken farm.  Even in his devastating critiques of high-modernist central planning, James C Scott acknowledges the benefits to planning and the levels at which it can occur with relative safety. The author M Black also challenges us not to fetishize decentralization in such a…
Blaming the Dead, and What Isn’t Surprising About the Murder of Garrett Foster
No, it’s not surprising that the Austin Police Department let the person who killed Garrett Foster go after less than a day. It’s not surprising that they didn’t charge them. It’s not even surprising that the president of the Austin police officer’s union, Kenneth Cassaday, would publicly denounce Garrett Foster on the same day.  Truth…
An Anti-Statist Beginner’s Guide to (Taxation, Public Budgets, and) Participatory Budgeting
The most blunt and obvious anti-statist position regarding taxation and consequently public budgets (although the former is not the sole source of the latter) is their reduction or complete abolition, and this is often how it is treated amongst centrist and right-wing libertarians. For example, Murray Rothbard writes that the principled approach should be “to…
De/centralization, Discretion, and the Anarchist Movement
Anarchists have long made decentralization a core demand for the structure of our organizations and have placed tremendous faith in the decentralization of our organizations as a means by which to prevent the generation of hierarchies and abuses of power, among other issues. However, this faith is based on very little, and anarchists can stand…
The Implications of Institutional Limits in a Complex World
Let me begin by stating how happy I am that this exchange is happening. As information technology has come to saturate our lives over the last two decades we’ve seen the debate over non-market economies remerge. A recent essay published in The Economist1 both summarizes the discourse and speaks to its increasing prominence. In the…
Does Anarchism Skirt the Calculation Problem?
Now it may surprise some, but unlike many fellow freed market anarchists at C4SS, I am not a market anarchist because of the economic calculation problem. While I do think the economic calculation problem rightly points out that top-down command economies cannot adequately produce and distribute goods to meet the needs of society, anarchist economic…
Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory