Agorism

De Organic Design
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Samuel Edward Konkin III (July 8, 1947 - February 23, 2004) a.k.a "SEK3" was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, and was a high-profile leader in the “modern” libertarian movement’s second generation. He was a disciple of Murray N. Rothbard, arguably the most vital member of the movement’s first generation. In fact, Konkin was a consistent, radical Rothbardian, who often out Rothbarded the great Murray himself. SEK3 called his extreme Rothbardianism — which advocated a stateless society of peaceful black markets — agorism.

For Konkin, Agorism meant the consistent application of libertarian principles to strategy and tactics. Aside from other contributions to economic theory, the formal theory of Agorism remains SEK3's greatest accomplishment as a philosopher. The following introduction is from his book, An Agorist Primer.

The study of human action (praxeology) produced some repeatable observations deserving the title of scientific law. The area of human action dealing with exchanges between acting humans (catallactics) covers the same area of thought that economics is supposed to cover, but often with very different conclusions.

This kind of economics (sometimes called Austrian economics) was used by speculators such as Harry Browne and Doug Casey for investing in hard-money instruments, beating taxes, and surviving when society around them is operating on unreason and folly. It is that potent, a tool for survival amidst gloom and doom.

However, it can be more. By applying this economic understanding to all human action regardless of the wishes, whims, fears, and spite of the most powerful agency in society — the State (coercive government) — a new field of theory dealing only with practical action emerges: Counter-Economics.

Finally, when libertarian theory meets Counter-Economics, what comes out — in strict consistency, both external and internal — is Agorism. This is still another definition. And this is the definition with which I feel most comfortable, the one that the thieves of the intellect find hardest to pervert or steal:

Agorism is the consistent integration of libertarian theory with counter-economic practice; an agorist is one who acts consistently for freedom and in freedom.

The recognition of the Libertarian incompatibility of statist means to anti-statist ends (partyarchy) was the first agorist insight.

The Goal of Agorism

The goal of Agorism is living in the agora (free market - originally the open marketplace) and the path is expanding Counter-Economics.

The society of the open marketplace as near to untainted by theft, assault, and fraud as can be humanly attained is as close to a free society as can be achieved. And a free society is the only one in which each and every one of us can satisfy his or her subjective values without crushing others’ values by violence and coercion.

The Axioms of Agorism

  1. The closest approach to a free society is an uncorrupted agora (open marketplace).
  2. The agora self-corrects for small perturbations of corruption.
  3. The moral system of any agora is compatible with pure libertarianism.
  4. Agora in part is agora in whole; to a workable approximation, the corruption of an agora raises protection costs and risks.

Agorism is the natural order of society

All of these [other non-statist models] examples of self-sustaining sub-societies failed for one overriding reason: ignorance of economics. No social binding, no mater how beautiful, can overcome the basic glue of society - division of labor. The anti-market commune defies the only enforceable law - the law of nature. The basic organizational structure of society (above the family) is not the commune (or tribe or extended tribe or State) but the agora. No matter how many wish communism to work and devote themselves to it, it will fail. They can hold back agorism indefinitely by great effort, but when they let go, the "flow" or "Invisible Hand" or "tides of history" or "profit incentive" or "doing what comes naturally" or "spontaneity" will carry society inexorably closer to the pure agora.

Regulation

There is nothing positive to say about regulation. Regulation is coercion. It prevents subjective values from being satisfied, “protecting” only those who do not wish to be protected and penalizing only the law-abiding. Regulation destroys initiative and stifles innovation. Regulation stagnates markets. Regulation can and does kill people when the regulators deny victims the right to take a chance with so-called risky medication.

Regulation is motivated by fear, envy, and colossal ignorance. There is nothing that can protect innocent people more than a thorough education and a vigorous pursuit of fraud; yet regulation of advertising and experimentation destroys information transfer and regulation of quality merely certifies incompetent “professionals” and protects them from fraud charges.

Revolution

Oligarchical tyrants throughout history have never relinquished control of their empires simply because of "elections" or because a sufficient number of people publicly disagreed with their grip on power. It has always been force of one kind or another.

Immediately the use of the term "force" conjures up images of revolutions, particularly bloody, armed revolutions, but taking up arms is neither necessary nor optimal. It was once said that, "to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." These were not the words of a pacifist, but rather the words of an accomplished Chinese warlord, Sun Tzu, the author of the immortal tactical treatise "The Art of War."

Indeed, today, the corporate-financiers that dominate the Western world from Wall Street and London will not submit to a 1% Tobin tax and the quick cessation of their growing collection of global wars simply because the people vote for change. To believe that the corporate-financiers that reign over the West would subject their agenda and fate to the whims of the voting masses is naive at best. They have painstakingly ensured that no matter who gets into office, in whatever country, the guns, the oil, the wealth and the power keep flowing perpetually into their own hands.

The real revolution will commence when we identify the true brokers of power and when we begin systematically removing our dependence on them, and replacing their systems and institutions with ones of our own.

The economic bottom-line problem

One perceived problem with agorism is that the idea of basing a society on the foundation of nothing but a totally free market coupled with the non-aggression principle is that all the organisations providing services for the people are still operating with an economic bottom-line. The problem is reduced since enterprises must put the people's satisfaction first, but only due to the positive effect that people's satisfaction has on their success as a profitable private entity.

But in a free society such concerns will be resolved by natural evolution of the market, because many people sharing a concern will automatically form into a group that uses its shared expertise and resource to become a cooperative that provides a solution to their problem, as long as there is not artificially imposed obstacle to this happening (such as state regulation on the industry). We at Organic Design call this kind of group that automatically forms from a shared need an organic group and would ideally be built upon a trust group.

For example, if the enterprises that supply a particular service to the people, say telecommunications, are all focussed on profit, then there will become a significant portion of the population who would prefer to spend their money on something that they all own and benefit from and direct themselves.

If we look at Noam Chomsky's definition of anarcho-syndicalism, we see that this is actually what agorism would naturally evolve towards. Where agorism differs is not in the result, but in that it supplies some methodologies for how to implement this system in practice, whereas anarcho-syndicalism is purely theoretical.

Quote.pngNow a federated, decentralized system of free associations, incorporating economic as well as other social institutions, would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism; and it seems to me that this is the appropriate form of social organization for an advanced technological society in which human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, of cogs in the machine. There is no longer any social necessity for human beings to be treated as mechanical elements in the productive process; that can be overcome and we must overcome it to be a society of freedom and free association, in which the creative urge that I consider intrinsic to human nature will in fact be able to realize itself in whatever way it will.
Noam Chomsky

Of course a society that operates in accord with the non-aggression principle cannot force organisations to operate as cooperatives, but since monopolies reduce overall performance (measured from the people's perspective), there will always be a tendency for large organisations to tend towards the cooperative structure. This is I think what is meant when agorists and new-libertarians say that monopolies naturally break up due to market forces.

Successful examples

Ancient Ireland worked successfully as a stateless society for over a thousand years.

Books

See also

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