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The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto by Kevin A. Carson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Introductory Material (pdf)
Part One–Babylon: The Rise and Fall of Sloanist Mass Production
A. Preface: Mumford’s Periodization of Technological History
B. The Neotechnic Phase
C. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Neotechnic Revolution
A. Institutional Forms to Provide Stability
B. Mass Consumption and Push Distribution to Absorb Surplus
C. State Action to Absorb Surplus: Imperialism
D. State Action to Absorb Surplus: State Capitalism
E. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (A Critique of Sloanism’s Defenders)
F. The Pathologies of Sloanism
G. Mandatory High Overhead
A. Resumption of the Crisis of Overaccumulation
B. Resource Crises (Peak Oil)
C. Fiscal Crisis of the State
D. Decay of the Cultural Pseudomorph
E. Failure to Counteract Limits to Capture of Value by Enclosure of the Digital Commons
F. Networked Resistance, Netwar and Asymmetric Warfare Against Corporate Management
Part Two–Zion: The Renaissance of Decentralized Production\
A. Home Manufacture
B. Relocalized Manufacturing
C. New Possibilities for Flexible Manufacturing
Sidebar on Marxist Objections to Non-Capitalist Markets: The Relevance of the Decentralized Industrial Model
A. Neighborhood and Backyard Industry
B. The Desktop Revolution and Peer Production in the Immaterial Sphere
C. The Expansion of the Desktop Revolution and Peer Production into the Physical Realm
C1. Open-Source Design: Removal of Proprietary Rents from the Design Stage, and Modular Design.
C2. Reduced Transaction Costs of Aggregating Capital.
C3. Reduced Capital Outlays for Physical Production.
D. The Microenterprise
Appendix. Case Studies in the Coordination of Networked Fabrication and Open Design
#1. Open Source Ecology/Factor e Farm.
#2. 100k Garages
A. Local Economes of Bases of Independence and Buffers Against Economic Turbulence
B. Historical Models of the Resilient Community
C. Resilience, Primary Social Units, and Libertarian Values
D. LETS Systems, Barter Networks, and Community Currencies
E. Community Bootstrapping
F. Contemporary Ideas and Projects
*Jeff Vail’s Hamlet Economy
*Global Ecovillage Networking
*The Transition Town Movement
*Decentralized Economic and Social Organization (DESO)
*The Triple Alliance
A. Networked Production and the Bypassing of Corporate Nodes
B. The Advantages of Value Creation Outside the Cash Nexus
C. More Efficient Extraction of Value from Inputs
D. The Implications of Reduced Physical Capital Costs
E. Strong Incentives and Reduced Agency Costs
F. Reduced Costs from Supporting Rentiers and Other Useless Eaters
G. The Stigmergic Non-Revolution
H. The Singularity
Appendix. The Singularity in the Third World
A major part of the material in The Homebrew Industrial Revolution is drawn from Organization Theory, but was imperfectly tied together and developed there. I attempted to draw these themes together into my first C4SS monograph, and then found myself developing them in a series of followup papers. Those papers gradually took shape in my head as a book.
One theme is the rise and fall of Sloanist mass-production in light of Mumford’s paleotechnic/neotechnic periodization and his theory of the cultural pseudomorph, and the rise of networked manufacturing as (in the words of Michael Piore and Charles Sabel) the rediscovery after more than a century of how to integrate electrical power into industry.
Another is the contrast of Sloanism to the leanness, agility and resilience of the alternative economy, with low overhead as the central conceptual principle around which my study of the latter is organized. Large inventories, high capital oulays, and high overhead have the same effect on mass-production industry that shit has on a human body bloated by constipation. The higher the fixed costs required to undertake an activity, the larger the income stream required for a household or firm to service that overhead; the enterprise must either get big or get out, and the household must have multiple sources of full-time wage income to survive. The alternative economy, on the other hand, operates with almost no fixed costs, so that almost all its revenue is free and clear and it can survive prolonged periods of slow business. Because it’s organized stigmergically, with modular open-source designs, innovation costs are spread over the widest possible product ecologies with a minimum of transaction costs. The alternative economy is breeding the rats in the nests of corporate dinosaurs.