By Kyle Rearden
“It is the policy of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre to deal with foreigners. Assuming they also wish to deal with us. Your other questions assume we are – or intend to become – a government. But we are agorists: propertarian anarchists. Our prosperity to date has come from following agoric principles we generally adopted. Why would we abandon market principles we have found efficacious in favor of hegemonic ones that have led society after society into ruin?”
– Dr. Merce Rampart
As beautiful as a proposed libertarian strategy as it is, agorism is not without its faults. Seldom is there any genuine criticism of agorist theory or practice that is not just some regurgitation of political crusading by controlled schizophrenics who are emotionally invested in some sort of collective-movementism. Unfortunately, it would be a disservice to agorists not to offer a critique in good faith regarding their chosen approach to the problem of statism.
The baseline for agorism is intrinsically anti-political, yet it’s goal of abolishing the State through black markets might just be too idealistic. SEK3 said:
“The anti-party libertarians were forced to choose between yet another paradigm shift to respond…or give up. Those who remained in the fight with their new analysis and corresponding strategy took the name of the market to oppose themselves to political parties and statism – agorism. The new paradigm of the agorist was called (in tribute to the then-fading Counter-Culture) Counter-Economics.”
So far, so good; yet, this by itself is insufficient for basing one’s liberation upon. Konkin continues:
“Just as Quantum Mechanics arose by theoretical chemists and physicists refusing to ignore the paradigm-breaking experiments, and Relativity arose from Einstein’s acceptance of the Michelson-Morley results, Counter-Economics arose as a theory by taking into account what all standard economics either ignored or downplayed. Just as light tunneled out of Hawking’s black holes, human action tunneled under the control of the state. And this underground economy, black market, nalevo Russia turned out to be far, far too vast to ignore as a minor correction.”
In other words, Konkin’s idea of counter-economics is the marriage between the Austrian School of economics with grey & black market trading; if so, then where’s the fire? SEK3 elaborates:
“Surprisingly little systematic research has been done in counter-economics since the agorist discovery a decade after the immersion of the agorist cadre. They surfaced to find a changed political landscape. It had been expected that their more-timid allies would stay aboveground to conduct officially-sanctioned research, but that failed to happen for now obvious institutional reasons. Hence, determined to report their findings, take advantage of freedom of the press and academic freedom to do so, and, incidentally, raise families, the publishing cadre formed the Agorist Institute in the libertarian-rich American Southwest at the end (symbolically) of 1984. The rest of the history of agorism is the history of The Agorist Institute’s trials and tribulations…”
This is actually quite revealing, for it reveals a crucial flaw in both studying and promoting black market activities. One, those think-tankers apparently still believe in the legitimacy of the State’s laws, and two, any revealed methods of black market trade that would be made public might get someone in trouble or, at least, render such methods useless since they would become knowable through being made available via the public domain. This is implied by what Konkin also wrote:
“Unlike the Counter-Economy itself, agorists had a problem with market feedback operating aboveground, especially in the almost-market devoid realm of tax-deductible, educational foundations – a fund devouring unreality forbidding enough to consume a fat chunk of the Koch family fortune and spit out Charles and David. Although receiving some financial support from mid-range successful entrepreneurs, AI attempted to do it all: research support, classes, seminars, academic conferences and publication of journals and newsletters (internal and external). (All the staff had additional jobs or businesses to support themselves).”
Hence, the later coinage of the term Kochtopus by SEK3 to describe the insidious nature of the Koch brothers buying influence within libertarian organizations. It’s a tad difficult to promote ends-means consistency if your investors don’t even try to exploit legal interstices as an end-run around the State, but rather, are nothing more that reformist charlatans, much less crazy-brave black marketeers.
More importantly, I think there is a crucial flaw (or two) that Konkin didn’t account for in transitioning from a low-density agorist society to a mid-density, small condensation agorist society. Generally speaking, the State is no longer funded primarily through tax revenues, but rather, through a combination of central banking inflation and perpetually growing indebtedness as well as investment dividends (the latter of which are revealed in the numerous CAFRs of these many American governments). Therefore, SEK3’s assumption that encouragement and incentivizing of people to transition from the white market to the grey and black markets will, through deprivation of tax revenues, starve the State into abolition, is laughably absurd.
Letting the black market choke the State is also highly problematic for another crucial reason; namely, black markets are, in fact, created and ended by the State. The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution created a black market in alcohol, and this was ended not by black marketeers, but rather by the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition. Former president Nixon’s declaration of narcotics prohibition in 1971 still continues to this day thanks to the Controlled Substances Act, which is used by the American police state as a form of lawfare in order to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate non-violent “drug offenders” on the bogus excuse of having committed a victimless crime. Prostitution, and even possession of half a dozen or more sex toys, is illegal according to the Texas Penal Code; I sincerely doubt that hookers and masturbators are going to do their part in bringing about the end of the State.
As a further historical note, did Russian black marketeers starve the Soviet government into collapse? Last time I checked, both the neocons and their (former?) Islamist allies both took credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union, when in fact the Soviets crumbled in on itself due to internal rot and corruption. Historical revisionism is one thing, because that’s just reinterpreting facts to mean something else, yet you can’t just invent or ignore the historical record itself just because it might be inconvenient to your own agendas.
Conversely, black markets could be used, given their artificially high profit margins (due to their very illegality), to fund privatized infrastructure projects. Whether it be private roads or private cities, the fact of the matter is that legality is less important than the availability of sufficient capital investment. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely to occur simply because most black marketeers aren’t interested in becoming the next Wilson Fisk.
Sam Konkin’s The Last, Whole Introduction to Agorism is a regurgitation of agorist theory that uniquely points out flaws in studying the practice of it. As SEK3 elucidated:
“But, finally, and overall, the issue needing the most attention is that of agorism itself. To the extent that it is ‘agorology’ and not just ideology, what is and should be its methodology? We most urgently invite our newly awakened and empowered students of agorism and multi-disciplinarians of counter-economics to contribute their first – and second – thoughts on the subject. Are some methods out of bounds in agorism that are academically acceptable, for example? Or are some methods acceptable in counter-economic study that are unacceptable to academic researchers? Can we wertfrei when we are obviously attracted to the Black as Departments of Marxist Studies are to the Red?”
I think Konkin here is avoiding the issue of how security culture can help lower the risk for agorists who are engaging in black market trade. For a more concise, yet expansive, description of agorism, be sure to check out Kyle Bennett’s An Agorist Manifesto, which I truly believe to be superior to Konkin’s agorology because there is no attempt to pander to what may or may not be “academically acceptable.”
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