Friday, February 25, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Most of the post I'm responding to deals with extraneous personal drama issues, but the issue I take on here begins in the paragraph, "Dr. Block, with his book Defending the Undefendable, points out that the societal miscreants..." Shortly thereafter, it is claimed that the free market is what agorism is about. Mike Gogulski is discussed, Mike claiming that to practice agorism is with the intention of weakening the state through market interactions. At this point, the the author, Harry Felker, disagrees and begins the elucidation of his perception of agorism. This is done via a hypothetical discussing the illegitimacy of property trespassing despite the complication of a non-understood language being used to warn one away from the property. I believe most propertarians would agree that such an action, as Harry correctly claims, would be illegitimate, even while lamenting the unfortunate nature of the miscommunication. And finally, Harry asserts his thesis that, even without knowing who Samuel Edward Konkin III is or what agorism and counter-economics are, one still undermines the state by their inability to be tracked or taxed.
To this, I agree. This is one reason agorism is so beautiful: the use of counter-economic tactics to destroy the state. This has been demonstrated through history, the most well-known example being the collapse of the Soviet Union due to the nalevo growing to such a size that there was far too little economic plunder to sustain the imperial statists. I do fail to see the logical connection between the thesis and the preceding statements intended to support it. It seems more a stating of "this is how it is", yet lacking support. The hypothetical dealt with lack of knowledge yes, but it was a vague, general example with no applicability to agorist theory. Instead of drawing a specific lesson from the hypothetical, another general lesson was attempted to be extracted.
Yet, there is more! To the crux of my objection, "These people are still removing funds from the regulated marketplace and taking it for a time out of government hands, if these people are free market heroes without any knowledge of the fact, how are they not agorists without knowledge of such?" This is then followed throughout the post by other rephrasings labeling agorism as merely counter-economic activity. As this is the point I object to most, I'll deal with it now and let these following references and arguments stand in rebuttal to any further writings conflating agorism with the counter-economy. I do not deny that they are free market/counter-economic heroes, but an agorist is more than a practicing free marketeer, more than a counter-economist. Allow us to examine the writings of the creator of agorism, Samuel Konkin III, hereafter known as SEK3:
- "Agorists: counter-economists with libertarian consciousness" - Page 3, New Libertarian Manifesto
- "While Counter-Economics is part of agorism (until the State is gone), agorism includes both Counter-Economics in practice and libertarianism in theory." - Footnote 1 to the above quote, New Libertarian Manifesto
- "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." - Pages 12-13, An Agorist Primer
- "Remember always that agorism integrates theory and practice." - Page 13, An Agorist Primer
- "All (non-coercive) human action committed in defiance of the State constitutes the Counter-Economy." - Page 40, An Agorist Primer
- "Counter-Economics is application. People have discovered and acted in a Counter-Economic way without understanding what they are doing, why they are doing it, and even denying that they are doing it at all." - Page 46, An Agorist Primer
- "The basic premise of agorist thinking is that Counter-Economics has failed to free society because Counter-Economics lacks a moral structure that only a full-blown philosophical system can provide....Where Counter-Economics is application without theory, Libertarianism is theory without application." - Page 53, An Agorist Primer
- "It would appear that there is a natural affinity between the philosophers of freedom and the practitioners of Counter-Economics." - Page 56, An Agorist Primer
- "The Third Axiom of Agorism: the moral system of any agora is compatible with pure libertarianism." - Page 73, An Agorist Primer
- "Counter-Economics is the study and practice of the human action in the Counter-Economy. The Counter-Economy is all human action not sanctioned by the State." - Page 7, The Last Whole Introduction to Agorism
Now, considering that SEK3 founded agorism, how can one argue with his clear, repeated definition of agorism by merely stating that it is something else?
But can't counter-economists end the state on their own? Why do we need a libertarian consciousness? Even I admit that counter-economists can end the state on their own. But look at the Soviet Union. What exists now? Statism, run by different people. Why? There was no education spreading anarchist schelling points among the counter-economists to prevent the desire for a new state. There were no wealthy, influential agorist businessmen, particularly in industries such as justice, protection, education, media, or communication and transportation infrastructure, to use their influence and business to prevent the rise of a new state. Furthermore, it is not unimaginable for counter-economists, destroying the state unintentionally out of trying to survive under the tyranny, to use the new state to their advantage against others in order to grow their business(es) stronger, therefore becoming the new corporatists.
Agorism seeks to destroy this cycle through both educating directly and indirectly through the demonstration of providing voluntaryist solutions to social problems historically, and constantly failingly, left to the state's aggressively violent means. Agorism also fosters the growth of the counter-economy and agorist businessmen in having their influence and businesses compete against any emergent state and squash it in the marketplace due to the efficiency of the freed market over the violently, bureaucratically wasteful state.
Why does this matter? Why is this misconception so dangerous to the revolutionary nature of agorism? If one redefines agorism as purely counter-economic tactics, one has removed the ethical libertarian consciousness behind the agorist counter-economics and made them like any other counter-economist. It is no longer action intended to end the state, as Gogulski pointed out. The lack of libertarian consciousness undermines the state without the necessary anarchist education or creation of influential agorists in key industries in order to prevent the rise of a new state.
Now that I've dealt with the major point that I find so objectionable, allow me to move on through the article, skipping repeated sections I've already rebutted where agorism is redefined as merely counter-economic activity, "To claim one is required to think like an agorist to practice agorism makes the claim that a market outside of regulation and taxation requires much book study and planning, I find this preposterous." One must think of freedom in a consistent manner, combining theory and practice, yes, but that doesn't make the claim that the counter-economy requires much study and planning. If anything, it means the opposite because there is less regulation and taxation to study! But being an agorist does mean having and following libertarian ethic as part of a cohesive system to end the state.
The following two paragraphs deal with the issue of drug prohibition and red market actors, falsely labeled as black market actors, desiring the state's continued prohibition for business, such as the drug cartels. I would like to quickly deal with this smaller point through some clarification. Black market actions are those which are entirely banned by the state, but still ethical. Red market actions are those actions forbidden by the state, whether completely banned or only partially, which involved unethical actions, such as aggressive violence. Therefore, the issue of drug cartels seeking to retain the state's existence is not, as implied, counter-economic for, if you reread the Konkin quotes above, you will note that the counter-economy is voluntary action prohibited by the state. Red market actors are not part of the counter-economy due to their non-voluntaryist aggressive violence.
So, to recap, let us acknowledge that, based upon SEK3's own writings, the writing that founded the strategy, agorism is a cohesive system combining counter-economic tactic with libertarian non-aggression ethics. To redefine agorism as counter-economic tactic is to make it devoid of its revolutionary nature to end the state and risks repeating the constant cycle of states dying and arising. And to redefine agorism as only libertarian non-aggression ethic is to avoid the tactics that can end the state. Agorism is about both tactic and theory, to act and think consistently for libertarianism, for the revolutionary goal of a market anarchist stateless society.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I created this on November 8, 2010 in regard to Dr. Woods' asking a question and very rude response to getting an answer, it originally appeared in my notes on Facebook on the same date and as it were it seems it needs to be spread further than just my Facebook page.
I would like to take a moment to address something in a conversation Tom and I had, in the hopes that this makes his attention better than the mail we had before he decided I was a “humorless automaton”, I suppose time will tell.
Before I get to the meat and potatoes of my discussion on Agorism and why people do not end up locked in prison en masse for entering a counter economic market of free exchange, I would like everyone to examine what I initially told Tom, “Liberty had already taken my wife”. I am in a peculiar position, my wife is not an American citizen, and she was barred access for visiting me and I am a felon, for possession of an unregistered firearm in New York so I am also barred access to visit her. One may claim I am paranoid, but to me it seems all too convenient that I began to rally publicly for limited government, and I did demand my wife follow the rules and renew her visa, and in doing such the DHS agent at the border decided she was attempting to become an illegal immigrant. They threatened her with imprisonment and permanent barring from the United States and claimed that “even if she were to attain a
My wife and I have an ersatz relationship, it remains on the phone and over the internet, I do not have the pleasure of kissing her when I come home from work, feeling her in my arms at night, nor am I able to comfort her and tell her everything will be alright. She is the reason I had come to the conclusion of anarchism, she is the reason I explored agorism, without her I may still be one of those deaf-mutes and without her I would not be the man I am today. I love her; she is the other half of me that makes me whole, she is my pillar of strength and she is the Achilles’ heel the federal goons are using to make me pay for not licking boot. I am haunted by my memories whenever I see some artifact she had touched, I hear her voice in the wind, I smell her hair when I lay on my pillow, it is all bittersweet, because reality crashes down in a moment’s notice. My love of her, like my love for liberty is inexorably linked to my love for life, without either, I would die.
I am explaining this because it is my opportunity cost for spreading the word of freedom; it was a cost I did not anticipate seriously, as I assumed I was nobody on the radar of the government and that the government could not be so petty as to use this kind of tactic on someone so insignificant. But, here we are and here I am, left with no option. Why is the pertinent question, why would I do this? I do not shift the blame off myself, it was MY actions which have caused MY misery, but MY actions were led also by MY miscalculation that people say what they mean and mean what they say. I had acted as a man spreading the good news, that the empire is falling and we can be free, the shackles failed and soon they would crash to the ground. This is what I saw, people who spoke as if they desired freedom, desired to live their own lives, desired to be their own sovereign but what I saw was the deception, it had been revealed in the past three or so days.
Jim and Tom had an argument, and that is the last you will hear about the substance of Tom and Jim’s interaction, they are adults and I believe they can handle their issues on their own, or just ignore each other, either case solves the issue. What makes this important is the after effect, it was not what they did or how they did it, it is what the rest of you did and how you did it, the rest of you is a generalization and I apologize if your actions are not described as such. People poked fun, went out of their way to be malicious and petty, verily, people lined up behind their “man” and threw slings and arrows at the giant across the way. Most of these people claimed to be anarchists, though I am unsure that designation is proper in any respect, how exactly can one claim to support a leaderless society and hold up idol at the same time? Some had gotten in front of their golden calf and taken hits for it, but this is an issue of the same vein, it would seem to me that a leader figure is evident in a “movement” which is supposedly about anarchism. What I had saw was worse than the childish reactionary fighting found in schoolyards of every level of education, I saw a religious war, I saw what I see when people defend Ron Paul against anarchists, I saw the foundation of the mentality of Statism. I had seen people who claimed to be anarchists hold up two men as God, I saw them argue my God is better than your God, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why these people consider themselves anarchists. I know Jim does not want you to worship at his feet, follow him to the ends of the Earth and jump off like good lemmings, I also doubt Dr. Woods is looking for this, so why are you doing this? I am not telling people to do or not do anything, I am just highlighting an absurdity, and declaring, my wife was right, you were not worth it, I paid too high for no result, the “movement” in and of itself is a net loss on my part. It matters not, what is done is done, I should have been wiser, I should have listened to my wife, you are not ready for freedom and that is what is obvious to me now, there is no refund on this transaction so I suppose that I might as well unload my stock and recoup as much as I can from this venture.
Now to the “Meat and Potatoes”
Tom Woods Asked:
“I have a question for agorists, one I ask not as a wise guy but respectfully, as someone who genuinely wants to understand it. How does something so elaborate go on without everyone winding up in jail?”The first point I would like to make is it is not elaborate, it is simple, it is free market interactions going on outside a regulated and taxed market while running concurrent with it, and it is why it is dubbed counter-economics. Rothbard, in Man, Economy and State noted the beauty of how the market works by itself, that is requires no planners, this is also illustrated in I, Pencil and other great works. I think you are making the assumption that there will be secret handshakes and various intrigues, and I am telling you this is not only unnecessary but by and far not prevalent in the market I know. In truth, it is a free market, or the accumulation of many individual plans which may or may not coincide with one another, when there is a coincidence, a transaction takes place and when there is not, no transaction happens. There is no elaboration, I know people talk like there should be some agorist market meeting to set it all up, like Jones will grow tomatoes and Smith will be the repairman, but this is doomed to failure, this elaborate planning monopolizes skills, it sets a precedent that a newcomer should find a line of business not already in existence in the agorist market. Like is it some sort of department store and there can only be one brand per department, you are an Austrian, you surely understand this fallacy. What I propose is the agorism is precisely like the black market, it IS the black market as I know it to be in communist countries. Americans may find it silly that plastic bags and toilet paper are black market items in some countries, but when importation is illegal and domestic production of these items is near non-existent, that is where the Black Market goes. I recall your talk where you’re demolishing a late Keynesian economist who wrote a text book and revised it several times, I cannot find the talk right now to give the title, forgive me please. In this talk, you talked about the Soviet Union (a topic the subject of your talk used in his text) and their failures at command economy, how they had tons of produced concrete compared to the hundreds of thousands of computers produced in America, I hope this refreshed your memory on which talk I am referring to. Well, you had put a one liner in the discussion and I am paraphrasing, “Sure, too many asses not enough toilet paper is a problem every economy has to deal with,” as the market does without any planning this need was filled. My wife Diana, who grew up in Romania, remembers traveling to the Soviet Union and bringing plastic bags and other in our perspective nonsense amenities to family living there. Another allegory is the production, sale and use of Tuica, a traditional Romanian spirit made from plums. This spirit was made illegal to produce, sell or use outside of official channels (like spirits in America) by the government, odd how this beverage is not only widely available but is made in many homes out on the balcony in plain sight. Does the majority of the population of Romania reside in prison? The Black Market, counter economics and free market interactions pervade every economy everywhere, when you pay your neighbor to mow your lawn, you do not get working papers, file taxes for paying him, get insurance to cover him as a temporary worker, pay him minimum wage nor grant him obligatory paid breaks. When you go to a flea market and pay cash the retailer often does not charge taxes. When one purchases illicit goods, one uses an unregulated and untaxed market.
Dr. Block, with his book Defending the Undefendable, points out that the societal miscreants such as drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, slumlords and blackmailers are indeed free market heroes, and as such, since the free market is what agorism is all about, are they not practicing agorism? Mike Gogulski made mention that if they are not acting with the philosophy of agorism in mind, if they are not looking to weaken the state with their market interactions, then they are not practicing agorism. I respectfully disagree, if I walk over your property line and you have a sign in Chinese that says “KEEP OUT” does this mean I am not trespassing? I think it does, it may be argued that it would be more reasonable to explain that it means KEEP OUT and that I am required to vacate your property immediately, but it does not imply that I am not violating your property, even if it is without my prior knowledge. As such, I submit that even if one does not know who the hell Samuel Edward Konkin III is, agorism or counter economics may be completely alien terms, they are still undermining the state by withholding funds that are unable to be tracked or taxed. These people are still removing funds from the regulated marketplace and taking it for a time out of government hands, if these people are free market heroes without any knowledge of the fact, how are they not agorists without knowledge of such? We can take for example the barbers who were arrested in Orlando this past week, they were charged with practicing barbering without a license, these people did not see the merit of paying the state for a license in order to work in a barber shop. Do you think they are the only ones? Do you think the cosmetology schools will now be flooded with men looking for the state mandated courses required to get the license, I don’t, and I am happy for it. Furthermore, I am sure that all the men arrested will be working again real soon, still without licenses and just as if not more successful for it. As Jeff Riggenbach suggests in his Libertarian Tradition segment on SEKIII, he liked creating words, agorism is a word that describes a concept that has existed since the first law was written by man; it is trade without consent of the ruling class. To claim one is required to think like an agorist to practice agorism makes the claim that a market outside of regulation and taxation requires much book study and planning, I find this preposterous.
Furthermore on Mr. Gogulski’s point, the idea that black market participants benefit from the state making their market illegal is true only in degree of the business in total. Your Pablo Escobar types definitively benefit from the state prohibition of drugs, not so much the street corner dealer, what Mike is not attending to is the Corporatist issue as I call it. The Corporatist issue is the larger corporations desire to use government control to decimate competition and grant virtual monopoly status in their business. This is also true for the large drug cartels, they benefit from state intervention in their field of business, it is why they are often found funding governments where they reside, it is why they support candidates and it is why they pay off judges, this is not to ensure their liberty to commit crime, it is to ensure their monopoly on the business. The small time drug dealer, even the moderate sized one understands that decriminalization would drop the price he could sell his product for, but unless he is manufacturing it himself; it will also drop the price he pays for it. Mind you I did not say legalization; I do not think there is a single retailer who supports legalization because those efforts are taxed and regulated, again this would be the cartels that really support it. You may find consumer support for legalization as they envision it as the only way the state will lift prohibition, if the state has something to gain, but I think we all know by now, prohibition warrants much more money than the taxes could provide.
Ultimately one would have to assume since the agorist market looks like the black market, functions like the black market and offers a cornucopia of goods like the black market, let’s not dismiss the black market as an agorist market. And ultimately unless you are willing to assume that all black market participants are imprisoned for their dastardly deeds of violating legal statute, your question is absurd, I would even go out on a limb to claim unless you are positing all people who violate the law are caught and brought to “justice” you cannot escape the absurdity of your question. I admit some people will go to jail, but as the state has realized once you imprison one black market force more spring up the number is in direct correlation with the level of market dominance of their particular field. The key to success of agorism is not to have an elaborate plan and inflexible roots; rather it is to have one’s own plan and ultimate flexibility. I think it was you who enlightened me about the door to door salesmen and the legislation against them because of the market flexibility of not having a retail store front, the same with mail order catalogs, department stores and more recently wholesale centers and Wal-Mart. I assure you those who do not adhere to the known principles of black market business will fail in agorism, but this does not lend that all agorists will end up in prison. I submit that the more agorists end up in prison for selling food, fuel, textiles and other white market goods on a gray market (the legal goods without state permission) the more will spring up in their place. Verily, the largest thriving black markets are always found in the most tyrannical oppressive regimes.
If you have any questions Dr. Woods, comments or criticism as well, I would appreciate it, since you removed me from your network, if you wish to reestablish such a connection to comment I leave that at your discretion, my door is open to anyone. If you do not wish to reestablish said connection but must say something I accept mail from everyone in Facebook, you can send a message privately.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
- The old despotic regime will be replaced with a new despotic regime, either civilian or military. The people, having paid such a heavy price in this revolution and getting only more of the same, will lose hope in changing it. We won't see another uprising like it again for a generation or more.
- The old despotic regime will be replaced with a democracy. Whether or not it is merely another vehicle for Western political theater is irrelevant. The protestors will be placated for a time. Eventually, as with all democracies, they will turn to political-infighting. They will identify with collective interests they believe are at odds with the collective interests of others. In short, they will fight each other, rather than the system. Again, we won't see another uprising against the State for quite some time.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
• As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.
• We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today's dollars.)
For the past couple of weeks there has been talk of political revolution in Eygpt, but little mention of real evolution. The market evolution in Egypt is thriving and will still continue when the pro democracy demonstrations stop. Although I applaud their efforts, the real revolution in the streets. The individuals selling produce at their food stands, the individuals who provide security from the looters for families and businesses. The individuals transgressing without the consent of the state. With as many transactions that are done in the Eygptian black market their is no need for the institution of government.