Good must surely triumph over evil
Sam and Neil and Agorism
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
"The Market is the sum of all voluntary human action. If one acts non-coercively, one is part of the Market." — New Libertarian Manifesto Samuel Edward Konkin III, 1980
Way back in the late 1990s and the first few years of this century, I corresponded by email with Sam Konkin. He was courteous and direct. That's also roughly the time when I began to correspond with J. Neil Schulman. Both authors have passed away, but their works live on.
One way to describe Sam Konkin's book New Libertarian Manifesto is to say it is the primary source of the agorism movement. Right there on page 11 of the pdf of the book it says "Agorism: Our Goal" in big bold letters. Many of the concepts of the book first appeared in the pages of New Libertarian magazine. Sam proudly states that he and his associates have been practising agorism since 1975. Given that agorism, which derives from the Greek word "agora" or marketplace, is about the sum of all voluntary human action, it has clearly been going on since the dawn of mankind, when some untroubled soul had an item and wanted to exchange it with another willing soul for another item or set of items.
Similarly, one way to describe J. Neil Schulman's novel Alongside Night is to say it is the novelisation of New Libertarian Manifesto. It is sort of interesting, to me, that the novel is published in 1979 while the first printed version of the manifesto appears in 1980. Earlier this millennium, starting in 2009, I had the pleasure and honour of working with Neil on the development of his book into a film, which he was able to produce for release in 2014. I am prepared to go out on a limb here and say that the book is a lot better than the film. Some also like the graphic novel.
Samuel Edward Konkin III, or SEK3 as he was affectionately known (and often signed his e-mails), was born 8 July 1947. As the father of agorism, his work in creating new understanding should be more widely known.
In reviewing our condition, SEK3 wrote, "We are coerced by our fellow human beings. Since they have the ability to choose to do otherwise, our condition need not be thus. Coercion is immoral, inefficient and unnecessary for human life and fulfilment. Those who wish to be supine as their neighbours prey on them are free to so choose; this manifesto is for those who choose otherwise: to fight back."
The strategy of agorism seems, to me, to contrast with the failed strategy of political reform and the dubious strategy of violent revolution. We have seen that counter economics was a significant factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. I think that collapse played a significant role in the essentially open economy of China today—the PRC won't be failing because its official economy can't keep up. (China seems to be following the Soviet approach in repressing samizdat, which was another major factor in the end of the Soviet empire, I believe. Samizdat, a word meaning "self-published" is exemplified by the world wide web of many, many publications by individuals, families, small and large businesses, and all kinds of organisations where you can literally find any sort of information about anyone or anything. In the context of the Soviet Union it was the distribution by individuals of a few copies, often hand written copies, to others they knew. So that information not approved by the state was always in circulation, often with a single copy of a set of ideas passed from hand to hand until the paper began to fall apart, whereupon another copy would be made.)
Political reform has obviously failed utterly. Why? Well, the people who get to divvy up $9 trillion in stolen and borrowed money, this year (or whatever number it becomes - money printer goes brrrrrrrrrr) as well as hundreds of billions at the state and local level do not think the system is broken. They like it the way it is, and are going to fight, often using dirty means, to keep it the way it is.
Violent revolution seems to be tempting to many, including some pushing the nullification/secession rituals without any concern for the vast effusion of blood we may anticipate from these strategies. Unfortunately, as the Athenians and many others learned, a league strong enough to overthrow a tyrant may become dangerous itself to liberty. Certainly the American revolution was betrayed within about a decade by the oligarchs who owned plantations and built the constitution to serve their desires. So one has to wonder what sort of thing would be powerful enough to replace the USA government without being even more dangerous to our freedoms.
Agorism avoids these options by rejecting political action and avoiding the state. It also fulfils the admonitions of Laozi and Etienne de la Boetie, among others, to withdraw support from tyranny rather than trying to confront it directly.
Laozi pointed out, about 2500 years ago, that people do not need rulers. "Therefore the Sage says: I take no action yet the people transform themselves, I favour quiescence and the people right themselves, I take no action and the people enrich themselves...."
Murray Rothbard, a key influence on SEK3's views on politics and economics, wrote of Laozi, "If it was hopeless to try to disentangle society from the oppressive coils of the State, then he perhaps assumed that the proper course was to counsel withdrawal from society and the world as the only way to escape State tyranny."
One of the key followers of Laozi was Zhuangzi who epitomised the idea of withdrawing from the state with his response to an offer of office and money from the emperor, "Don't sully me, I would rather roam and idle about in a muddy ditch, at my own amusement, than to be put under the restraints that the ruler would impose. I will never take any official service, and thereby I will satisfy my own purposes." Rothbard quotes Zhuangzi saying " There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind [with success]." In fact, the world simply "does not need governing; in fact it should not be governed."
But it is. Why? Well, there are those trillions of dollars to divvy up. Consider the average congress critter. He lives well, gets lots of goodies from lobbyists, has lots of nice meals, dines high on the hog. The average congress critter has a net worth in excess of two million dollars. The "rank and file" member makes a few hundred thousand dollars, and the speaker of the house somewhat more. Apparently they can get paid lots and lots of money for books nobody reads, speeches no one hears, and contributions to their "foundations" for selling American policy changes, and because they make the laws, they have made it completely legal.
Meanwhile the average American, if he's employed, makes quite a lot less and has a negative net worth because his home is worth less than the mortgage on it, his car is worth less than the note on it, and he has credit cards and student loans more than he can manage. The average American is a slave to debt, a peon to the congress critters who feast on his blood like leeches. Of course, there are about 50 million Americans who are neither in the work force nor receiving federal benefits; 115 million or more who never file income tax papers; and roughly the same number who won't vote and don't reply to the census. Withdrawal is a real strategy.
Another great author who recommended withdrawal from the state was Etienne de La Boétie. Writing about 500 years ago, he said, in part:
Poor, wretched, and stupid peoples, nations
determined on your own misfortune and blind to your own good!
Dictators work havoc. You let yourselves be deprived before your own
eyes of the best part of your revenues; your fields are plundered,
your homes robbed, your family heirlooms taken away. You live in such
a way that you cannot claim a single thing as your own; and it would
seem that you consider yourselves lucky to be loaned your property,
your families, and your very lives. All this havoc, this misfortune,
this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one
enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go
bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your
own bodies unto death.
He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own?
How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves?
You sow your crops in order that he may ravage them, you install and furnish your homes to give him goods to pillage; you rear your daughters that he may gratify his lust; you bring up your children in order that he may confer upon them the greatest privilege he knows— to be led into his battles, to be delivered to butchery, to be made the servants of his greed and the instruments of his vengeance; you yield your bodies unto hard labor in order that he may indulge in his delights and wallow in his filthy pleasures; you weaken yourselves in order to make him the stronger and the mightier to hold you in check.
From all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the field would not endure, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.
But is it all about withdrawing, hiding, making do with less? It is not. Going underground is a temporary expedient as the state generates its own destruction.
Moreover, the free market money economy is one of the key tools in bringing down the institutions which oppress us. For free market money has gone cryptographic. It is now increasingly easy to use. You can now make an economic transaction, complete with discussion, negotiation, and exchange of value, with another individual that cannot be detected. What the state cannot detect, it cannot prohibit, it cannot regulate, and it cannot tax.
Or as SEK3 wrote, in his conclusion to New Libertarian Manifesto "We witness to the efficacy of freedom and exult in the intricate beauty of complex voluntary exchange. We demand the right of every ego to maximize its value without limit save that of another ego. We proclaim the age of the Market unbound, the natural and proper condition for humanity, wealth in abundance, goals without end or limit, and self-determined meaning for all: Agora.
"We challenge all who would bind us to show us cause; failing proof of our aggression we shatter our fetters. We bring to justice all who have aggressed against any, ever. We restore all who have suffered oppression to their rightful condition. And we destroy forever the Monster of the Ages, the pseudo-legitimized monopoly of coercion, from our minds and from our society, the protector of aggressors and thwarter of justice. That is, we smash the State: Anarchy.
"We exert our wills to our personal limits restrained only by consistent morality. We struggle against anti-principles which would sap our wills and combat all who physically challenge us. We rest not nor waste resource until the State is smashed and humanity has reached its agorist home. Burning with unflagging desire for Justice now and Liberty forever, we win: Action!"
Agora, Anarchy, Action!
Free the slaves. Stop the wars. End the state. You'll be glad you did.
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim. Email your humble author for more info. This week Jim learned that SubscribeStar.com/planetaryjim is working, so he'll be adding new things there soon. Visit IglooLuau.com for more information. Those seeking a multi-jurisdiction multi-hop VPN for communications privacy please visit https://secure.cryptohippie.com/houstonspacesociety.php For those seeking colloidal silver try ppmSilver.com/Jim Ask Jim about CryptoWealth. Land projects at FreedomLandDAO.com Sofware projects FreedomDeFiSoftware.com
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