Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gain and Loss 5: Agorism vs Anarchocapitalism

Anarchocapitalists often look at agorism and say "But that is anarchocapitalism. Why do they call themselves something different?" Why indeed? It's difficult to explain to an anarchocapitalist why agorism is different and better in the sense that an agorist can percieve the difference. I've had a hard time putting my finger on it until now: Agorism is a more gain-oriented perspective.

For an example of this, it helps to understand the agorist's view of the post-revolution economy.

The ancap's typical view of a post-state economy is that not a great amount of change will take place. Some price changes will obviousy occur where the state had been favoritist and discriminatory, of course, but otherwise, people will carry on as they do now.

The agorist's typical view of a post-state economy is different. Agorists see a post-state economy of entrepreneurs replacing what Marx called the proletariat - an entrepreneurait, in agorist terms - comprising most of the economy, just as was the class of counter-economists which brought about the revolution in the first place. Contrast the entrepreneur with the employee. The idea of a job as we know it is a loss-oriented concept, it trades away both higher wages and more freedom for a kind of "safety", hiding behind the veil of the entrepreneur, not holding the employee responsible in case of loss. Society would largely do away with jobs as we know them.

Consider insights gained from Gain and Loss 4, a post about thought and action.

C-ancaps are loss-oriented thinkers. They're probably just interested in the theory of it. They love the intellectual discourse and comfort of sitting at home talking and reading about market anarchism. Or they may be so afraid of the state that they fear doing something about it may get their name on a secret government list. In any case, they are doing little more than thinking and talking.

B-ancaps are loss-oriented actors, often activists. In this category you'll find most Free State Project members. Obviously anyone willing to move, to act, for liberty is not going to be in the C-class. They enjoy talking about it every bit as much as the C-ancaps, but they go out and protest the actions of the state, they protest laws, they spead libertarian literature, they are out there acting to prevent the state from taking away more of their freedom.

A-ancaps are gain-oriented thinkers and actors. This is where you find the agorists. They are not just saying it, they are LIVING it. They're not just talking about how the War on Drugs is keeping drug prices high, they're out there getting in on the profits. They're not just talking about how taxation is theft, they're researching or practicing the ways to stop paying taxes. They're not just protesting a new law, they're professionally subverting the state, and making money doing it. They're not just thinking about how alternative institutions would work, they are pouring the foundations. They're the ones out smashing the state for fun and profit.

Many anarchocapitalists are political, in that they advocate "working within the system", generally pay their taxes, apply for the necessary permits and licensing, vote, and so forth. This is a loss-oriented position of course, giving in to your fears of potential loss.

Agorists don't participate in the existing political system. To the maximum extent possible, no voting, no taxpaying, no obedience. Contrary to the ancap view of disobedience as a loss, agorists see it as a gain, as profit. It's more gain-oriented.

For another good example of agorism's gain-orientation, consider the treatment of socialists by ancaps as contrasted with agorists.

The ancap says to a socialist, "You are my enemy. You stand for theft and oppression. You stand for illegitemate authority, and support the good of one class at the expense of another. You are the antithesis of everything I believe." (On a related note, most socialists react the same way to capitalists.)

The agorist says to a socialist, "You are my friend, to the degree you agree with the non-initiation of force. You stand with me, in opposition to systematic theft and oppression. You stand with me, on the side of liberty and equality. You are my ally."

The ancap position is negative; the agorist position is positive. The ancap is often quite happy, and even ready to deliberately cause the misconstrual of words in an attack upon the socialist in order to feel victorious. The agorist, who is seen as almost socialist by anarchocapitalists, attempts to understand and think about what the socialist is actually trying to say. And the agorist, using this understanding thereby gained, seeks the help of the socialist in fulfilling the shared goals. The ancap seeks to deepen the ravine between the left and the libertarian political movements. The agorist seeks to bridge it. The ancap is a loss-oriented thinker. The agorist is a gain-oriented thinker.

Frederick Mann, whose works I see on BuildFreedom and BigBooster when I visit those sites, is very much a gain oriented individual. He speaks of the economic means to freedom, not the political means to less slavery. He talks about "the strange 'job' concept" dismissively, as he rightfully ought to dismiss such an idea as a job, which is rooted in the pursual of security, stability, the prevention of loss, not the achievement of gain, which he discusses in the same articles under the name "real free-enterprise" business, which you do not need a "job" for. I don't think a word I've read that was written by him has been loss-oriented. The lack of loss-orientation probably alienates a lot of readers from him, but draws in the right ones anyways.

Frederick Mann also advocates, interestingly enough, agorism in practice. While I have never seen him use the word, or agorist vocabulary like "counter-economy" or "entrepreneuriat", he advocates the same thing for the same purpose. I'm adding a link to BuildFreedom to my blog.

This is essentially why I think agorism is superior to anarchocapitalism. Those attracted to the agorist ideas tend to naturally be more gain-oriented, thus the agorists will be the more effective group, even if they are fewer in number.


Blogger Alex Ramos said...

d interesting things to think about in this latest post. I've definitely enjoyed the 'gain and loss' series. I particularly like the talk about the view toward socialists as loss thinking - I think in many ways, socialist, particularly the an-soc, want a lot of the same things we do, but there's some confusion in definitions and thus some disagreement based on misunderstanding. It's in our best interest to fight the common battles together and encourage dialogue.

The definitions of A, B, and C Ancaps is also great. I'm currently a B, but definitely want very badly to be an A. Have you got any specific suggestions as far as tax evasion goes?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Not only did you explain Agorism rather well, but you framed it in the gain vs loss orientation, which is very helpful in comparing/contrasting the motivations and perspectives behind each.

Good work!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Zhwazi said...

Alex: I'm working on that. Once I get something figured out that I know works, I'll tell everybody. At present I'm just not paying and not filing. I've read some stuff about using pure contract trustsw offshore accounts, et cetera to hold property where bueaucrats can't touch it. e-Gold can get you past the hidden tax of inflation.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Hayen Mill said...

interesting post zwhazi

9:11 AM  
Blogger Gabriel said...

But what if there is nothing to gain from alleging with socialists? I think that finding common goals with socialists is almost impossible. If you are gain oriented, why bother with people who are not whatsoever? Socialist are pro-state. Even anarcho-socialists seem pretty damn pro-state sometimes, as mob rule isn't much different.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I myself have no problem with socialist ends, and sympathize with them in general, but every bridge I've seen agorists try to build with them has been burnt down by the socialists, who talk about "wage slavery" and despite all their talk about anarchism want to basically use force and laws to restrict the free market just without calling it "force" or "laws."

The socialists seem to generally subscribe to a duty-based ethic (enforced by "society) and thus appear to be fundamentally incompatible with adherents to laissez-faire. There are exceptions, and I'd love to ally with them, but unfortunately I know of almost no admirable socialists. Mutualists that do not buy into LTV I can usually tolerate (and agree with), but further than that you get duty-based ethics and LTV economics.

The vast majority of socialists are state socialists that utterly loathe laissez-faire. Take, for example, Noam Chomsky, a prime example.

8:54 AM  

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