Thursday, January 05, 2006

Agorism Contra Marxism, part 8

[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. To catch up, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.]

Two formidable blocks have prevented even the radical libertarians from offering a comprehensive class model to compete with essentially dead Marxist alternatives. The first block is a “culture lag,” most notably in the U.S., where talking about classes is perceived as “offensive” and “impolite.” As SEK3 remarked, “Only rightist kooks and commies talk about ruling classes and class structures.”

The second roadblock is simply the limitation of libertarian theory. With the exception of agorists, even most radical libertarians see a political solution to statism. Wrote Konkin:

“In building political coalitions to seize the apex of State control, it pays not to look too closely at the class interests of your backers and temporary allies. ...

“This limitation can be understood in another way. When libertarian ideologues attack alleged libertarians for not freeing themselves of State institutions, State subsidies, or actual State jobs, they reply ‘tu quoque.’ That is, how can the ‘purist’ libertarians enjoy the supposed benefits of State roads, monopolized postal delivery and even municipal sidewalks and then accuse those wearing a Libertarian label of selling out by getting elected to office, accepting tax-collected salaries and wielding actual political power — on the way to ‘withering away’ the State, no doubt.

“Agorists have had no such problem with a distinction, nor do they find any disjunction between means and ends. Furthermore, the simple premises of agorist class theory lead quickly to sharp judgments about the moral nature (in libertarian theory) and practical nature of any individual’s human action. That is, agorists have a comprehensive class theory ready to supplant the Marxist paradigm which also avoids the flaws in semi-libertarian half-hearted theory and its attendant compromises. As to be expected, it begins with Counter-Economics.”

Agorist Class Theory

Murray Rothbard took Franz Oppenheimer’s distinction between the political means of gaining wealth (State theft) and the economic means (production) and then portrayed them as Power vs. Market (in his book Power and Market). Unfortunately, most libertarians haven’t applied Rothbard’s concept completely and thoroughly. Explained Konkin:

“Since many libertarians arrived at anarchy from the limited-government, classical liberal position, they retain a sort of three-cornered concept of struggle: the State at one apex, ‘real’ criminals at a second, and innocent society at a third. Those who commit victimless crimes, in the minarchist view, may often be put in the criminal class not for their non-crime victimless act but for avoiding trial by the State and remaining at large. Again, some anarchists have yet to entirely free themselves from this liberal statist hangover.

“Remember, the liberal statists want to restrain the State to increase the production of the host to maximize eventual parasitism. They ‘control their appetites’ but continue the system of plunder. The recent political example of supply-side economics starkly illustrates the basic statist nature of such ideas: the tax rate is lowered in order to encourage greater economic production and thus a greater total tax collection in the long run.”

Likewise, “free-enterprise” conservatives, and “libertarian” minarchists call for retention of the State, however restricted or restrained. They are the enemy of the agorists, the free market, and complete liberty. They fall on the statist side of the class line. “The libertarian rhetoric they offer,” Konkin wrote, “may be ‘turned’ or continued to consistency in winning over confused and marginal potential converts — but they offer no material substance for freedom. That is, they are objectively statists.”

To be continued...

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