Interview with Kevin Carson
By Antonis Petropoulos at Nov 06, 2010
Kevin Carson is the author of Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low Overhead Manifesto. He writes quarterly research papers and weekly news commentary as research associate at the Center for a Stateless Society. He has written for such print publications as The Freeman and Journal of Libertarian Studies, and for online sites like the P2P Foundation Blog and the UK Libertarian Alliance. His blog is at http://mutualist.blogspot.com (Related Reading: Wikipedia entry on Kevin Carson)
ECOCLUB.com: What are the key tenets of Mutualism, as you have redefined and revived it through your seminal work "Studies in Mutualist Political Economy" and in what way could Mutualism be relevant to a specific economic sector such as Tourism?
Kevin Carson: The basic tenets of mutualism are (first) removing artificial property rights and artificial scarcity rents, and allowing a free market to reduce prices to cost and give labor the full value of its product; and (second) dissolving the functions of the state into society, and replacing the state with voluntary self-organized bodies like cooperatives, mutuals and p2p networks.
Regarding tourism in particular I'm afraid I can't give you much in the way of a satisfactory answer, since I know little to nothing about tourism-related issues or tourism exchanges (typical or not).
ECOCLUB.com: How can the cost principle work in your view, in particular in grassroots, community tourism? Can a poor local force a fair rate on a wealthy foreigner with many alternative options, or, to achieve reciprocity and equal exchange do we perhaps need more voluntary host cooperatives? Or mixed host-guest cooperatives, perhaps?
Kevin Carson: So long as there are wealthy people, they can't be ethically forced to deal with ventures they prefer not to, and no one can be forcibly constrained from offering them options more to their liking. Ultimately, I think it will come down to the question of how much less the disparities of wealth are in a society without privilege and artificial scarcity rents. When it's impossible to derive income from artificial property rights and artificial scarcity, high-end luxury goods for the super rich will be a lot less lucrative as a market niche. The main value of all forms of mutuals, rather, is to provide options for those who don't currently have them -- to enable people to live comfortably by exchanging their skills and efforts with equal producers, without being dependent on wage employment to buy capitalistically-provided services on the cash nexus.
ECOCLUB.com: Would international travel (and even domestic travel) be easy, at least at the current mass, industrial scale, in a future hypothetical mutualist, multi-fragmented, decentralised, localised world, possibly with infinite local currencies, local agreements (laws), visa agreements, and without large private or state transport companies (airlines, rail, etc)?
Kevin Carson: I would say not. In general, if subsidies to centralized, high-capacity, long-distance transportation networks are removed, I would expect the overall cost of transportation to rise, and the amount consumed to fall.
But it could be that the most significant reduction in overall use of transportation would be in the shipping of goods that could be produced locally, and in the rapid shipping of perishable or "just-in-time" goods. In that case, the remaining transportation capacity might be disproportionately used for individual travel (with, for example, longer and more leisurely trips on economical airships replacing the airline industry). Even with less individual travel, the reduction might be primarily in frequent business travel, with the average person still having several memorable long-distance trips in a lifetime (like an American taking a tour of Europe, etc.), and occasionally using passenger trains and airships for visiting relatives.
Read the rest of the Interview at ECOCLUB.com