AGORIST CLASS THEORY [PDF]: A Left Libertarian Approach to Class Conflict Analysis By Wally Conger
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)
Murray Rothbard himself continued to expand upon Libertarian Class Theory. His roots in the Old Right had introduced him to populist “bankers conspiracy” theories and the like. Added class viewpoints came from Left-statists and earlier anarchists. What he discovered was that the proponents of ruling classes, power elites, politico-economic conspiracies, and Higher Circles pointed to roughly the same gang at the top of the sociological pyramid.
Rothbard introduced the work of three Left Revisionist analysts to Libertarian Class Theory: Gabriel Kolko, Carl Oglesby, and G. William Domhoff.
Historian Kolko’s Triumph of Conservatism detailed how “capitalists” thwarted the relatively free marketplace of the late 19th century and conspired with the State to become “robber barons” and monopolists. Rothbard’s adoption of the Kolko viewpoint severed the alliance between radical libertarians and free-market apologists for conservatism.
Oglesby, a former president of Students for a Democratic Society, co-authored Containment and Change in 1967, which argued for an alliance between the New Left and the libertarian, non-interventionist Old Right in opposing imperialistic U.S. foreign policy. In The Yankee and Cowboy War (1976), Oglesby tied in current assassination-conspiracy theories to present a division in the ruling class. Important for both Rothbard and Oglesby was the division within the Higher Circles; the internal conflict between those controlling the State manifests itself in political electioneering, corruption and entrapment (Watergate), assassination and, finally, outright warfare. Wrote SEK3: “The class consciousness of the superstatists, while high, does not include class solidarity.”
What were the “Higher Circles”? The term came from Domhoff, a research professor of psychology, who described them as a subtle aristocracy with similar mating habits and association characteristics previously seen in other holders of State power and privilege. Rothbard’s discovery and dissemination of Domhoff’s work provided a solid base for his Power Elite analysis.
In nearly every ruling-class theory, the top of the statist pyramid was occupied by David Rockefeller’s interlocking-directorate corporate control of U.S. and international finance and the band of Court Intellectuals and corporate allies found in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and lesser-known groups. Once a ruling group was identified, its nature could be examined further and its actions observed and eventually predicted.
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.