June 7, 2011

The Eminently Real Free Market (V): The Kevin Carson (Side-)Show (1)

Mr. Ferrara makes something like a charge we can sink our teeth into on page 13. Oddly, he does so by invoking someone else’s authority, which invocation he qualifies, because that person is no authority in the area of Catholic controversy. But he provides a stick that looks useful for beating up on some Austro-libertarians, and that is too good an opportunity for Mr. Ferrara to pass up.
His mode of attack continues along the lines suggested in the first dozen pages of TCATL, that is, to insinuate, to create an “atmosphere,” to assert promiscuously and gratuitously, and occasionally to mimic the art of providing warrant for one’s assertions by citing anyone who anywhere has published an opinion concordant with his. That is, he continues to provide evidence of our impression of TCATL which was summarized in this blog’s very first post:
Even while rummaging through memories of my Marxist days, a period ranging from thirty-five to forty years ago, I cannot recall ever having encountered between two covers such a barrage of uncharitable construction, sarcasm, gratuitous assertion, name-calling, motive-questioning, playing to the gallery, assumption of facts not in evidence, digressive appeal to unqualified expert opinion, citing overvalued credentials, stereotyping, redefining key terms, abuse of scare-quotes, innuendo, misleading references, and theatrical laughter. 
The forensic antic of the hour is: digressive appeal to unqualified expert opinion. The unqualified expert whose opinion is adduced: Kevin A. Carson, self-described “free market anti-capitalist” libertarian theoretician, antagonist in an intramural libertarian squabble that has arisen over the last half-decade (and which has pretty much settled down).
Mr. Carson’s expertise in the historical, political, and economic areas on which he has written is at least debatable, and Mr. Ferrara cites that debate (of which more in due course). His expertise touching the Catholic reception of Austro-libertarianism, however, is not debatable: it is non-existent.
The charge of “convenient inconsistency,” applied with a broad brush to an undefined population of Austro-libertarian writers, gratuitously leveled on page 12 (see previous post), is treated as proven by page 13. On such a platform Mr. Ferrara will proceed to build. He now seeks to amplify its rhetorical force by appeal to another writer, whose side he will take in the aforementioned dialectic (wherein Mr. Ferrara is the unqualified non-expert witness). He begins by employing another epithet for the “inconsistency”:
No one has been more adept at exposing this Austro-libertarian tap dance than Kevin A. Carson, a left-libertarian “anarcho-distributist”* whose brilliant written commentaries have attracted a great deal of hostile attention in “right-libertarian” circles. Citing Thomas Woods and others as examples of what he calls “vulgar libertarianism,” Carson encapsulates the vulgar libertarian polemic in a single scathing paragraph. (13)
Since Dr. Woods is a person and not an ideology, no doubt Mr. Ferrara meant that Dr. Woods is an example of what Mr. Carson calls a vulgar libertarian. We’ll review the scathing paragraph presently, but we observe that all we have so far is Mr. Ferrara’s opinion of Mr. Carson’s “written commentaries” (“brilliant”) and of the kind of attention they have attracted (not critical but “hostile”).
We also note that Mr. Ferrara used quotation marks correctly when indicating that he’s citing Mr. Carson’s description of the ideas of certain libertarian writers. But thereafter Mr. Ferrara never uses his favorite punctuation device for that term again. He’ll never refer to so-called “vulgar libertarians,” but simply to vulgar libertarians. As we shall see, Mr. Carson’s polemical style has unfortunate traits that attract Mr. Ferrara.
To Be Continued
Mr. Ferrara, a Distributist, provides no warrant from Mr. Carson’s (or anyone else’s) writings for suggesting some sort of distributist commonality between their two positions, and I could find none. Perhaps some reader will inform me of the source. It doesn’t really matter, however, for after all, the descriptor appears between scare quotes. “I never said Kevin Carson was an anarcho-distributist! I said he was an ‘anarcho-distributist’”!