Thursday, August 18, 2005

Agorism Contra Marxism, part 3

[This continues a multi-part summary of known existing portions of Samuel Edward Konkin III’s unfinished book Agorism Contra Marxism, which began, and ended, its serialization in Strategy of the New Libertarian Alliance #2, 1982-83.]

“Agorism and Marxism,” wrote SEK3, “agree on the following premise: human society can be divided into at least two classes; one class is characterized by its control of the State and its extraction of unearned wealth from the other class. Furthermore, agorists and Marxists will often point to the same people as members of the overclass and underclass, especially agreeing on what each considers the most blatant cases. The differences arise as one moves to the middle of the social pyramid.

“Agorists and Marxists perceive a class struggle which must continue until a climactic event which will resolve the conflict. Both sides perceive select groups which will lead the victims against their oppressors. The Marxists call these groups of high class consciousness ‘vanguards’ and then extract even more aware elements designated ‘elites of the vanguard.’ Agorists perceive a spectrum of consciousness amongst the victims as well, and also perceive the most aware elements as the first recruits for the revolutionary cadre. With the exception of ‘intellectuals,’ the Marxists and agorists sharply disagree on who these most progressive elements are.”

Precursors to Marxist Class Theory

Although today’s academics largely credit the doctrine of class conflict to Marx and Engels, historian Ralph Raico has for many years advanced the 19th Century classical liberal exploitation theory of Comte and Dunoyer as a much superior, more correct precursor to the Marxist class model. However, Konkin begins his examination of class theories much earlier than Comte-Dunoyer or Marx.

Rome,” he wrote, “had three citizen classes and a fourth alien class written into its legal codes. Medieval Europe continued the concepts and much of the rest of the world had its versions. The upper class was the nobility, that is, the royalty and aristocracy, who controlled the land and directed its resources. The lower class were those who worked that land, peasants, serfs, villeins, etc. Most people fit in the lower class but those that fit in neither were, at least in numbers, at least as numerous as the upper class. Many were merchants, and as they turned villages into towns and then large, powerful cities, they were given the term Middle Class or terms meaning city-dweller: burger, bourgeois, etc.”

Enter Comte, Dunoyer, and the rest of the “French school.” But we will get to libertarian (and agorist) class theory later.

First...Karl Marx.

To be continued...
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