The ALS is a very broad and diverse organisation, representing many strands of pro-freedom thought. While I know many of our more committed members would be aware of it, one movement I noticed we haven’t heard much about in Australia is agorism, which at its simplest is the use of black markets to promote free market ideals. A friend of mine here agreed to write up a brief post for us outlining the agorist case, which I think those of you unaware of the movement would find interesting. (As always , I must preface this by saying that I do not necessarily endorse or agree with this post).
Agorism – Peter J. Neiger
While idea of anarchy is far from a new one there are revolutionary developments and strategies being debated and theorized constantly. One of the newer strategies is the use of counter-economics or Agorism to bring about the desired change.
To ensure we are on the same page I feel like one quick definition is necessary. When I refer to Anarchy this is does not mean chaos, I am referring to the original Greek translation of anarchia meaning “without a ruler”. While there are some variations of anarchists most believe that change cannot happen through the current system, this is what separates them in method from libertarians, min-archists, etc.
Now the term Agorism comes from the Greek word agora meaning “market” and agorists call for revolutionary change by utilizing the black market. By operating in this counter-economy an individual can help deteriorate the power of the state and builds relationships based on trust and mutual gain instead of coercion.
Most people participate in counter-economics without ever realizing it. Every time you pay a neighborhood kid under the table to baby sit or receive a tip from a customer that you don’t report to the government you have participated.
Agorist’s view entrepreneurs, innovators and risk-takers as the strength of the free market and are invaluable. On the same note though, a pro-state businessman who attempts to use the government for his own personal profit is the center of evil.
Most conscious agorists follow the motto of A3: agora, anarchy, action. Agora representing the market, anarchy the philosophy and action for the intentional counter-economic activity. There is, of course, a risk to operating intentionally in the black. The current statists have the strength to send men with guns to your house to stop your trade, even though it is between two consenting members.
Obviously some activities bear greater risks such as narcotics, but most agorists don’t focus on that. Most current agorists, at least those I have dealt with, deal in much less dangerous products, thought they are not morally opposed to drugs, the costs and benefits just make it less common.
In order for a real agorist revolution to take place market-based security agencies need to rise up to protect the market. Not only must they be willing and able to protect property and enforce contracts but they must be willing and able to do these things against the current organized crime in power (government).
The internet and constantly improving technology is making communication among agorists much easier and safer. I believe this trend will continue to the point where physically meeting for exchange is less necessary and when it is it can be arranged quietly and effectively.
I am not optimistic enough to believe that a counter-economic revolution is inevitable but I don’t see any downside to participating and working towards this goal. Once a person has decided they no longer care about the stigma of being a “law breaker” they are much more willing to pursue their own personal happiness.
That is why I do it. I feel empowered and it gives me a growing sense of freedom. Being able to operate under the radar successfully is great feeling and I feel like I am making a difference in pursuing liberty in my life. A wonderful secondary benefit is the tight and powerful relationships forged with those I do business with. You learn to trust people and respect them instead of fearing all the time.
Luckily for us, the government continues to crackdown and prosecutes people for an ever growing number of victimless “crimes”. Every time a new product or service is outlawed the black market will swoop in to provide. The FDA has recently outlawed flavored cigarettes and agorist entrepreneurs are already coming up with ways to provide this product. The same will happen if unhealthy foods, narcotics or anything else is outlawed. The market will provide and more non-revolutionaries will begin to interact in the counter-economy. I does not matter how tyrannical the government becomes, the market always finds a way to survive.
For more information on Agorism check out http://agorism.info or if you prefer a novel a free version of “Alongside Night” J. Neil Schulman by is available on PDF. For people near DC a moderately active agorist who goes by the name Patrick Amagi maintains a blog called DC Agora at http://dcagora.blogspot.com.
Update: The correct link for the last line is http://agoradc.blogspot.com.