“A libertarian is someone who believes in the non-aggression principle. An anarchist is someone who understands it. An agorist is someone who practices it.”
Considering Sam Konkin’s previous work in the New Libertarian Manifesto, An Agorist Primer, and The Last, Whole Introduction to Agorism, you’d think that there’d be plenty enough literature establishing the basics of agorism, and for the most part, you’d be correct. However, further revisions and expansions upon agorism, such as Kyle Bennett’s An Agorist Manifesto in 95 Theses, greatly simplified many of the nuances and minutiae Konkin tried to communicate yet which Bennett actually succeeded in doing. Whether it be the Agorist Theory of the 5 Markets, or “black is beautiful,” the fact of the matter is that SEK3 didn’t have everything figured out, and what he was objectively correct about, he wasn’t always the best individual to convey those original ideas, hence the contributions of others who came later who were able to more effectively promote agorism.
One of Konkin’s acolytes, Wally Conger (among others), took up the mantle and further developed agorism as best as he knew how. This led to the further theoretical development of a unique class theory, for as he said:
“Marx’s Class Theory failed to see that those workers classically considered proletariat would become growingly obsolescent. In North America, unionized skilled workers are in decline, being absorbed by new entrepreneurship (franchising, independent contracting and consulting), the service industry, scientific research and development, increased managerial function without human labor underneath for exploitation, and bureaucracy.”
Right there, syndicalism is on the downhill slope thanks to market forces, as illustrated by Conger. He continues:
“Almost all libertarians accept that the State divides society into two classes: those who gain by the existence of the State and those who lose. Most libertarians also agree that society would be better off if the State were eliminated or at least shrunk significantly. But despite efforts of the late Rothbard and others to raise libertarians’ class consciousness, most American libertarians seem to find discussions of class theory offensive, ‘impolite,’ and ‘not respectable.’ They appear to believe that only right-wing kooks and commies talk about ruling classes and class structures. Nevertheless, efforts to expand Libertarian Class Theory into a comprehensive model have continued.”
As Frédéric Bastiat put it, there are those who advocate for universal plunder (socialism), partial plunder (fascism), and the absence of plunder (anarchism). So, right there, the advocates both for and against legal plunder, generally speaking, are forming “classes” of one kind or another (as a side note for those you of a legal bent, constitutions merely authorize partial plunder in some “limited” conditions, yet these conditionalities, when transgressed into being unconstitutional, nearly always veer off towards universal plunder; I’ve never seen a government operating under a constitution that endorsed the absence of plunder by restraining its appetite for tax revenues or war-mongering). Conger further says that:
“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.”
Shocker, right? In any case, Dr. Rothbard associating with conspiracists does not surprise me in the least, because they at least could give him some demonstrable facts he could then expound upon and sink his teeth into. Conger elaborates:
“In nearly every ruling-class theory, the top of the statist pyramid was occupied by David Rockefeller’s interlocking-directorate corporate control of the 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 gangs. Once a ruling group was identified, its nature could be examined further and its actions observed and eventually predicted.”
Edward Griffin, much? While it is true that “Roundtable” organizations like the Bilderburg Group have been proven to exist, at the end of the day it does beg the question of, so what? Although it is preferable to know the truth rather than live in ignorance of the reality of the situation we are all suffering under, the more important question is whether can normal people do anything about these elitists, which is exactly the type of question most conspiracists would do anything to avoid even trying to answer (the closest they’ve come to is, “Tell everyone you know!,” as if this alone would somehow stop the power elite, but I digress).
What exactly is the relevance of a class theory to libertarians, though? Conger explains that:
“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…[l]ikewise, ‘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.”
Here, Conger is “taking a hard stand,” as it were, against the advocates of a hypothetically limited government (like constitutionalist American patriots, just to name one type of minarchist). According to Conger, minimal statism is still statism, even if it’s relabeled as being minarchism, a constitutional republican form of government, or even classical liberalism. He continues:
“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…[t]hese ‘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.”
Here, Conger is describing the black and grey markets, distinguishing them from the red market. Again, understanding the Agorist Theory of the 5 Markets simplifies this rather quickly with its chart. Rounding out this class theory to libertarianism, Conger declared that:
“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…[j]ust as superstatists understand the State’s workings and use it consciously, there exist at the counter-economic end of the spectrum who understand the pure libertarian consistency and morality of their acts; these are the agorists…[b]ut what of the ‘middle class’ of 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?”
Attempting to classify people is always easier said than done, and I surely appreciate Conger’s effort at doing so. He is correct in saying that libertarian morality dictates that only individuals are solely responsible for their actions, which is why fact-finding, so as to determine responsibility, is essential for accountability. Unfortunately, the servile society eschews personal responsibility for much of anything, which is why the time-honored tradition of “passing the buck” is still as popular as it has ever been.
Wally Conger’s Agorist Class Theory: A Left Libertarian Approach to Class Conflict Analysis is a unique, if only theoretical, contribution to Konkin’s notion of “agorology.” As SEK3 himself contributed to his own class theory by saying:
“First and foremost, agorists stress the Entrepreneur, [as opposed to] non-statist Capitalists (in the sense of holders of capital, not necessary ideologically aware) [who are] relatively neutral drone-like innovators, and pro-statist Capitalists as the main Evil in the political realm… [t]he ‘Anarcho-capitalists’ tend to conflate the Innovator (Entrepreneur) and Capitalist, much as Marxoids and cruder collectivists do…[a]gorists are strict Rothbardians, and, I would argue the case, even more Rothbardian than Rothbard, who still had some of the older confusion in his thinking. But he was Misesian, and Mises made the original distinction between Innovators/Arbitrageurs and Capital-holders (i.e., mortgage-holders, coupon-clippers, financiers, worthless heirs, landlords, etc.). With the Market largely moving to the ‘net, it is becoming ever-more pure entrepreneurial, leaving the brick ‘n’ mortal ‘capitalist’ behind.”
In other words, pro-statist capitalists are worse than non-statist capitalists, yet both of them are not entrepreneurs, despite the fact that many entrepreneurs often rely on the capital investments supplied by both of them to get their own start-ups operational. What Konkin’s statement here reveals is that the Austrian school of economics, if only implicitly, outlined a class theory based upon human action. Regardless, what is clear here is that the only real detriment to any class theory is the fact that it is still a theory and not the practice of something potentially efficacious in the real world, given that, at best, a theory is only a description of the real world, but not a users’ manual in how to effect it for the better.