Critique of One-Sided Capitalist Contracts

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* Article: Carson, Kevin. One-sided contracts. Center for a Stateless Society. 2012 Jun 20.

Available from: Accessed 2012 Jul 18. Archived by WebCite at


"Left-libertarians commonly reject claims that citizens are bound by a social contract, arguing that the imbalance of power between the state and an individual precludes meaningful consent. Using the legal concept of a contract of adhesion, Carson extends this argument to a critique of the private contracts with powerful business entities that dominate today’s economy. He thus subverts the right-libertarian view that freedom of contract requires routine acceptance of capitalist contract terms as legitimate, and even challenges the fundamental importance attached by right-libertarians to the distinction between public and private enterprises in a capitalist economy:

The whole point of libertarianism, at least a libertarianism that appeals to actual human beings who want more liberty in their lives, is to increase the autonomy of individuals against arbitrary rules made by institutions of all kinds. As anarchist artist Shane Thayer says, “I don’t want a society that ‘liberates’ itself by replacing the flag on the police uniform with a company logo.”

We left-wing market anarchists want to level out these unequal power relationships, dissolving concentrations of power both public and nominally “private,” so that freedom of contract becomes reality rather than mockery and smokescreen. We see the state, in alliance with privileged classes and plutocratic interests, as the root cause of these asymmetries. The state’s subsidies, artificial property rights and regulatory cartels midwifed the corporate economy in the first place. It has since grown into an entire interlocking eco-system in which even nominally “private” and “voluntary” parts are fundamentally coercive."