The Failure of Marxism
The Marxist Appeal
Precursors to Marxist Class Theory
The Agorist Critique of Marxist Class Theory
Libertarian Class Analysis
Radical Libertarian Class Analysis
Agorist Class Theory
Agorist Solutions for Marxist Problems
Appendix: Cui Bono? Introduction to Libertarian Class Theory (1973)
In the U.S., “only rightist kooks and commies talk about ruling classes and class structures,” the late Samuel Edward Konkin III remarked back in the 1980s.
Konkin was neither a rightist kook nor a commie. But his theory of ruling classes and class structures remains today a brilliant libertarian alternative to tired Marxist theories of class struggle. And that theory may serve as the foundation upon which to build a strong, revitalized libertarian movement.
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, on July 8, 1947, Sam Konkin (known also to intimates and others as “SEK3”) was a high-profile leader in the “modern” libertarian movement’s second generation. He was a disciple of Murray N. Rothbard, arguably the most vital member of the movement’s first generation. In fact, Konkin was a consistent, radical Rothbardian, who often outRothbarded the great Murray himself. SEK3 called his extreme Rothbardianism — which advocated a stateless society of peaceful black markets — agorism.
For more than two decades, Konkin promised to produce a book titled Counter-Economics — a mammoth, scholarly work that, he swore, would be to agorism what Das Kapital was to Marxism. But the volume never appeared. Konkin did, however, author a major strategic guide to achieving his agorist dream — New Libertarian Manifesto — which became for his newborn Movement of the Libertarian Left what The Communist Manifesto was to communism, or what The Port Huron Statement had been to the early New Left movement in the 1960s. In addition to this manifesto, SEK3 published, over a 30-year period, such “underground” libertarian publications as New Libertarian, New Libertarian Notes, New Libertarian Weekly, Strategy of the New Libertarian Alliance, The Agorist Quarterly, and New Isolationist. It was through these periodicals that Konkin elaborated on his philosophy in disorganized detail.
A primary tenet of agorism was its unique theory of classes. In an article titled “Cui Bono? Introduction to Libertarian Class Theory” (see Appendix), published in New Libertarian Notes #28 in 1973, Konkin concluded:
1. The State is the main means by which people live by plunder; the Market, in contradistinction, is the sum of human action of the productive.
2. The State, by its existence, divides society into a plundered class and a plundering class.
3. The State has historically been directed by those who gain most by its existence — the “upper class,” Ruling Class, Higher Circles, or “Conspiracy.”
4. The Higher Circles will fight to keep their privileged status, and have done so, against libertarians seeking their overthrow and the restitution of their plunder to those from whom it was taken.
5. Politicians operate as “gladiators” in the aptly named Political Arena to settle disputes among the Higher Circles (which are not monolithic).
Ten years later, Konkin began work on a book to distinguish Agorist Class Theory from Marxist Class Theory called Agorism Contra Marxism. Only an introduction and first chapter were ever published (in Strategy of the New Libertarian Alliance #2), and the book — like most other SEK3 projects — was left unfinished at the time of his death in 2004.
This brief volume represents my attempt to summarize (and somewhat update) that material. — Wally Conger