Agorist Class Theory

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
Marxist Classes
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 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.”

What is meant when a person or group or people are called objectively statist? To agorists, the term is used for those who emulate the State by murdering, stealing, defrauding, raping, and assaulting. “These ‘red marketeers’ (dealing in blood, not gold or trade goods),” SEK3 explained, “are best looked upon as degenerate factions of the ruling class, in contention with the State’s police as the Cowboys fight the Yankees, the Morgans fight the Rothchilds or the Rockefellers, and the Soviet statists fight the American statists.” These “red marketeers,” say agorists, are criminals.

At the same time, all so-called (by the State) “criminals” (or criminal acts) that do not involve initiation of violence or the threat of it (coercion) are counter-economic. Since they run counter to the interests (real or perceived) of the State, and are usually productive, they are forbidden by the State. They are, therefore, objectively agorist and thus objectively revolutionary.

Wrote Konkin:

Agorist class theory has the best of both positions: a sharp class line and a graduated spectrum. Individuals are complex and confused. An individual may commit some Counter-Economic acts and some statist ones; nonetheless, each act is either Counter-Economic or statist. People (and groups of people) can be classified along a spectrum as to the predominance of agorism over statism. Yet at each given moment, one can view an action, judge it immediately, and take concrete counter-action or supportive action, if desired.

What about motivation, awareness, consciousness of actions and their consequences, and professions of agreement? They are irrelevant; agorists judge one solely by one’s acts. And one is responsible for fully restoring one’s victims to the pre-aggression state of being for each and every act (see New Libertarian Manifesto, chapter 2). Konkin explains:

Regular, repeated patterns of aggression make one a habitual criminal — a statist (or ‘pure statist’). These people earn no wealth and have no property. Their loot is forfeit to revolutionary agorists as agents of the victims. The pure statist subclass includes all political officeholders, police, military, civil service, grantholders and subsidy receivers. There is a special subclass of the pure statists who not only accept plunder and enforce or maintain the machinery of the State but actually direct and control it. In ‘socialist’ countries, these are the top officeholders of the governing political party who usually (though not always) have top government offices. In the ‘capitalist’ countries, these super-statists seldom appear in government positions, preferring to control directly the wealth of their state-interfaced corporations, usually banks, energy monopolists and army suppliers. Here we find the Power Elite, Higher Circles, Invisible Government, Ruling Class and Insider Conspiracy that other ideological groupings have detected and identified.

Towards the other end of the spectrum [from statists] are full-time counter-economists,” SEK3 explained. “They reject government offerings and disregard State regulations. If they report an income, it is a tiny proportion of what they actually earn; if they file a report, it’s highly misleading but plausible. Their occupations are fulfilling demand that the State strives to suppress or exterminate. They not only act freely, but often heroically.

Just as the superstatists understand the State’s workings and use it consciously, there exist those at the counter-economic end of the spectrum who understand the pure libertarian consistency and morality of their acts; these are the agorists. “Against the Power Elite is the anti-power elite — the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre (or New Libertarian Alliance),” Konkin wrote.

But what of the “middle class” on the spectrum? What of those who mix commission of some counter-economic acts (black spots) with some statist acts (white spots), their lives summed up by grayness? Konkin described the middle-class this way:

To the statists, they are the victims, the herds of cattle to be slaughtered and sheep to be sheared. To the Agorists, they are the external marketplace, to receive nearly everything in trade — but trust.

And some day they shall either take control of their lives and polarize one way or the other, or fail to do so and shall stagnate in the statist swamp or be borne away on the winds of revolutionary change.

Konkin offered a scenario, using agorist class theory, to illustrate the difference between a limited-government libertarian and an agorist:

Consider the individual standing at the corner of the street. He can see two sides of the building behind him as he prepares to cross the street. He is hailed and turns around to see an acquaintance from the local libertarian club approaching in one direction. The latter advocates ‘working through the system’ and is an armed government agent. Walking along the other side of the building is another acquaintance, same age, gender, degree of closeness and so on, who is a practicing counter-economist. She also may be armed and is undoubtedly carrying the very kind of contraband the State’s agent is empowered to act on. Seeing you, the first individual waves and confirms she indeed has the illegal product — and is about to run into the ‘libertarian statist’ at the corner. Both are slightly distracted, looking at you.

The situation is not likely to happen too often but it’s quite possible. Only the removal of ‘complicating factors’ is contrived. If you fail to act, the counter-economist will be taken by surprise and arrested or killed. If she is warned, she may — at this last-minute — elect to defend herself before flight and thus injure the agent. You are aware of this and must act now — or fail to act.

The agorist may take some pains to cover his warning so that he will not get involved in a crossfire, but he will act. The socialist has a problem if the State agent works for a socialist state. Even the ‘libertarian’ has a problem. Let’s make it really rough: the State agent contributes heavily to the local ‘libertarian’ club or party (for whatever reasons; many such people are known to this author). The counter-economist refuses to participate except socially to the group. For whose benefit would the ‘political libertarian’ act?

Such choices will increase in frequency when the State increases repression or the agorists increase their resistance. Both are likely in the near future.

Agorist class theory is quite practical.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory