The Problem of Agorism
Updated: May 22
Agorism, better known as the counter economy, is a truly wonderful thing. At its most reductive point, Agorism is a pure free-market economy based on voluntary exchange: its driving force being the direct action of creating an economy outside of the state apparatus. Based on non-violent action, Agorism immediately removes state intervention. Agorists operate marketplaces independent of the state by employing alternate currency, under-the-table work, or other black-market activities that deprive the state of its control and tax revenues.
Agorism exists outside of the political sphere and while its direct actions have political and economic implications, Agorism holds no political ambition outside of its refusal to allow state interference within the Agora (marketplace). Agorism follows that participation in the political arena enables state interference into people’s lives and the marketplace, and illuminates an essential contradiction Libertarians ought not to ignore. How does one work towards a stateless society while simultaneously participating in the state apparatus?
In defense of Libertarianism, it’s hard to imagine waking up to discover a stateless society, granted to us by the powers that be; It isn’t realistic. There exists but a handful of options, the predominant two being social and violent revolutions. Agorism is most definitely a method of social revolution in which we should all be participants. Still, it is not the end all be all action. Agorism is but one tool working towards accomplishing our great building project: a free society.
Agorism is beautiful, as any free market is. However, a problem lies in its limited scope. While it may deprive the state of some tax revenues, it does nothing to curb other issues, namely the state’s ability to print money to make up for shortfalls. A robust black market already exists within the US. According to the RAND Corporation,
“Spending on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine fluctuated between $120 billion and $145 billion each year from 2006 to 2016, rivaling what Americans spend each year on alcohol, according to a new study.”
Representing merely one segment of the US’ black market, those numbers are substantial and worth noting; however, the black market hasn’t slowed the parasitic nature of the state in the least. Agorism alone is not robust enough to deprive the state of its revenues.
Libertarianism requires action: one being regular participation in the Agora whenever possible. But that can’t be our only route to divorcing ourselves from the state. Frequent participation to achieve the unhampered marketplace is the end goal. Still, layer by layer, we must lift the state’s mandate. We must peacefully eliminate the state’s ability to tax, make demands on labor, manipulate currency, and so forth. No singular action will complete the project. It will take the concerted effort of every Libertarian device if we intend to reach a free society. Our ideas will only take shape when the whole of society can wrap their heads around them. As it stands, and not neglecting Agorism, we must spread the message of and fight for liberty by political means.