Agorism is a libertarian social philosophy that advocates creating a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges by means of counter-economics, thus engaging with aspects of peaceful revolution. Think of a flea market. Now imagine that said flea market doesn’t need to depend on a fixed location. Now imagine that it’s spread out as far as your physical and communicable reach can take you. Also throw in that you’re avoiding government intervention, regulation, tax, and contact to whatever degree possible. Congrats, friend. You’re now an Agorist.
The term “Agorism” was coined by Samuel Edward Konkin III. It comes from the Greek word “Agora”. The Agora is the “gathering place”. This is understood to be a center of free exchange in art, ideas, and pretty much anything else; an unregulated free and open marketplace.
“The goal of agorism is the agora. 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.”
First of all we have to understand that the Agorist is ideologically motivated. He is guided by a simple, but strict principle. The Agorist is striving to provide a much needed service without using violence, coercion, or force. He is limited to using only means that are peaceful and voluntary, all while avoiding the gaze of would be snitches and regulatory agents.
The Agorist believes that the use of force, such as the forceful aggression that is inherent in cronyism, regulatory capture, licensure, and taxation, is illegitimate and therefore should not be practiced in his preferable society. This belief poses a great challenge for the success of a gray market entrepreneur. Being such a brave and principled market actor is frowned upon in a Mafia Monopoly Market such as the ones that are regulated by any modern state agencies.
It’s not very hard to see a need for the skills of the Agorist in a world where life saving medicine is made unobtainable by the politically connected. Let’s take the EpiPen for example. There’s nothing all that special about epinephrine. However, due to government intervention into the market and regulatory capture (usually done in the favor of a specific oligarchical corporation) the price of an EpiPen on the white market is around $600, when it takes far less than that to manufacture and bring to market. The government has granted a defacto monopoly to the corporation that manufactures it. In doing so, there’s no real, economical reason for this corporation to have to compete in the market. The Agorist sees a few things here; corruption, violence, a specific need in the market, and an opportunity.
Gray Marketeers, as you may have imagined by now, have a few enemies. The enemies of the Subversive Superman are usually people that have a vested interest in keeping the machine of market corruption running smoothly. However, your goody two shoed, unagancied statist could easily pose just as much of a threat to the free and productive activities of the Agorist. We’ll take a look at a few examples.
Using the example of the EpiPen, we’ve touched on a concept known as regulatory capture. This is when a state body, such as the American FDA, ATF, or USDA, makes a product or service extremely expensive and inaccessible.
Would you like to make a little side money cutting hair? Sorry, you need a license for that. How about selling herbal medicine to help your neighbors who are currently under the weather. Sorry again, “herbal” and “dietary” supplements are about the best you can do. Do you ever get a hankering for some delicious and nutrient packed raw milk? No dice, Amigo. That’s outright banned in most places in the US. Collecting the rainwater that just happens to fall on your roof should be a thing you would be able to do on your own property though…right? Wong again, Homie! There are laws on the books against collecting rainwater in states such as Illinois, Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Virginia. It’s completely “acceptable” in some places to even harass and shut down children that are running a lemonade stand without the proper permit.
Whether or not these regulations were passed and codified with actual good intentions or to relieve the market force of competition for some lucky corporate monopoly winner doesn’t really matter for our purposes here. The fact is that interfering with the free and peaceful business of voluntary parties is an evil practice that goes against everything that our friend the Agorist stands for.
Now that we understand that the laws, rules, and regulations that interfere with the free exchange of peaceful people, let’s take a look at the goons that keep this racket going. Afterall, what is a law without a means to enforce it? A suggestion? Best practices? Cultural norms? Business etiquette? All these are existing, built in market forces that we already encounter in our day to day activities. Why would we need to go so far as to have a law enforcement officer shut down a little girl’s lemonade stand?
We don’t. There, that’s the answer. It’s unnecessary. The title “Law Enforcement Officer” should be a dead give away to anyone who’s paying attention. Your friendly neighborhood cop has one job, and only one job. That job is to enforce the laws that are on the books. You’ve heard it before, “Just doing my job.”, “Hey man, I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them.”, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”, or my personal favorite, “I’m just following orders.” That last one didn’t fly so well in Nuremberg, did it?
Knowing that the state goons, who happen to enjoy a monopoly on force and aggression, are there to simply and solely enforce immoral laws, the Agorist understands full well what he’s up against. This is the front line of the enemy’s entire operation.
The police often have help enforcing their immoral laws. This help comes from the very people who, most times, mean the Agorist no harm. These people have bought the narrative that state agents are here to help. They mostly lack critical thinking skills, lend their moral agency to authority figures, and are very submissive to these figures. These people are you neighbors and coworkers. These people are cowards and snitches. These people are self righteous statists, and they can unnecessarily get the Agorist into some hot water.
I think most of us have had that one nosey neighbor. That person that had to know everyone’s business, for whatever reason. How about the overly curious neighborhood watch guy? What about all this “See Something, Say Something” nonsense we’re hearing more and more of? In these cases these people are driven by fear to report any activity they don’t like to the state goons by matter of training and habit. This is yet another obstacle for our friend the Agorist.
There are those who build their very business model to leverage the state’s monopoly on force to their competitive advantage. Believe it or not, there are large corporations out there that don’t have your well being and safety in mind. Shocker, right? Sometimes is can be entire industries that bring this aggressive force to bear on a whole market. That’s where Unions and Lobbies come into the picture.
I know, these are huge entities that can’t really compare in size and scope to our gray market hero, the Agorist. We must understand this enemy though. It is at this level where the laws (to be enforced by previously defined goons) are laid down as holy writ. For these laws and regulations to be brought into existence there needs to be an incentive. Their incentive is to crush all competition at all cost. They sell this tyranny as “safety” and “fairness”. Afterall, who would argue with “a living wage”, “common sense safety measures”, “proper testing methods”, and “much needed government oversight”? I sure as Hell do. It’s lies and marketing.
Did you know the unions for police and prison guards have a union? Did you know that union has a lobby in Washington DC? You may be thinking to yourself, “what could these public servants be incentivized to lobby for?”. I’ll tell you. Stricter drug laws, mandatory minimum sentences, and tons of privileges and special permissions to carry out their “duties” in a way that average civilians aren’t permitted to.
There are similar circumstances for all kinds of lobbies in Washington. The over regulated industries in medicine, for example, are largely controlled by oligarchs. It’s the same for chemical production, farming, logistics, utilities, phone companies, banks, and the military industrial complex. These entities are responsible for the writing and passing of legislation that erect onerous barriers to entry and all but guarantee that they’ll have no competitors to deal with, ever. This isn’t just an enemy for the Gray Marketeer. This is the final boss. This is the source of all the evil that is Corporatism.
The Agorist has always been with us. From the open markets in Greece, to black markets that pop up in wartime and over regulation. The necessary function of the market that the Agorist provides is an invaluable one. No matter what aggressive obstacles are placed on society, the Agorist is always there to meet the demand of the market.
In meeting these naturally occurring demands, the Agorist is seen as a hero in the face of state intervention. We’ve seen this in America during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. We’ve seen this in Soviet Russia. We’re seeing it now in Venezuela. The Agorist, moving between white, black, and gray markets, is the one force that keeps food on the table of poor families and arms in the hands of the poorest of oppressed people.
With the advent of today’s technology we see a double edged sword that has made it easier for both sides of this ever evolving conflict to improvise, adapt, and overcome. This is a struggle that will continue to be with us for a very long time to come. The next time you have dealings with your Friendly Neighborhood Agorist… thank him for his service.
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