Rad Geek Speaks: Motorhome Diaries interviews me on agorism and counter-economics

It’s been a couple days since I was hepped to the fact that this video has gone online; but I’ve been delayed by travel and other considerations. Anyway, here is a video of Jason Talley’s interview with me in Las Vegas back in April, focusing on anarchism, agorism, and counter-economics. Judging from the closing title card, it looks like the MD3 have decided to break out the material from the interview on anarchism into a separate video, presumably forthcoming. But, in the meantime, this video has the segments of the interview where our discussion focuses on building the counter-economy as an alternative to electoral politics. Enjoy!

The one thing which I regret not having the time to discuss during the interview — which I would have done my best to break down, were I not already taxing Jason’s very generous allowance of time in what are typically very concise interview segments — is how my sympathies for mutualism and wildcat unionism influence my understanding of the agora, and of the sort of counter-economy that we should work to build: why, in short, I think that libertarians should be especially interested in building, so to speak, Black-and-Red markets. (Red as in workers-of-the-world-unite. Not, of course, as in Konkin’s notion of red market mafiosi.) Of course, Konkin’s original-flavor agorism is already very much in favor of the informal sector, and opposed to the state-collaborationist, state-supported corporate economy; but I think that agorists would do well to look at the kinds of counter-institutions that have historically been associated with the anti-statist and anti-authoritarian Left: fighting unions, direct action on the shopfloor, grassroots mutual aid networks, worker and consumer co-ops, neighborhood permaculture projects, community free clinics, participatory indymedia, CopWatch as a means of community self-defense, LETS trading networks, small-scale gift economies based on gleaning and homesteading (Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, free stores, etc.). And so on, and so forth. To the degree that State privilege and State subsidy have artificially roided-up the rentier-centric, cash-lubricated, centralized, formalized bidniz economy, we can expect the counter-economy (which is the embryonic new society, being built within the shell of the old) to form up in opposite tendencies: egalitarian and decentalized exchange (which Konkin rightly predicted and emphasized), and also significantly more emphasis on informal connections, often based not on contracts or cash-on-the-barrelhead exchanges but rather on practicing solidarity, mutual aid, gleaning, homesteading, and other cashless forms of value-creation and social exchange (which I think Konkin underemphasized and overlooked in various ways). (I hardly expect cash, let alone simple quid-pro-quo exchange, to disappear; I’m certainly not interested in any dogmatic campaign to rub them out. But I do expect the counter-economy, and future fully-freed markets, to emphasize them much less intensely, and much less monomaniacally, than the current state-approved official economy does.) All of which underlines why I think it’s important for radical libertarians to see ourselves as part of the Left; and for that understanding to cash out in serious efforts to work together on countereconomic projects with the folks who ought to be our primary allies — that is, other anarchists — rather than working on the familiar set of conventional-delusional electoral projects together with conservatives and conventionally pro-capitalist minimal-statists, which all too many good radical libertarians have, due to a combination of cultural comfort zones, and statocentric models of political change, wasted their time and resources on in the past.

Anyway, like I said, there may be another interview segment forthcoming focusing on anarchism; if so, I’ll let you know when it drops.

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17 replies to Rad Geek Speaks: Motorhome Diaries interviews me on agorism and counter-economics Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. smally

    Ah, now I understand: the Rad’s in the facial hair, the Geek’s in the glasses :)

    For such a short interview you managed to say a lot. I look forward to the one on anarchism.

  2. Aster

    Rad Geek-

    ‘Tis nice to see you ‘in person’.

    I’m curious and want to look up what this Motorhome Diarists project is all about. It sounds like wonderfully deliberate living.

    ()

    In other news, I want to officially announce my heartfelt conversion to agorism.

    New Zealand has a strong culture of working class mutual aid, partially as a conscious attempt by British working class colonists to set up a society which worked for them, with an aim to prevent the old British class sytem from replicating itself here. Evidence says that this has been partially but significantly successful, but in the last generation the influence of American culture has encouraged another kind of elite-class-wannabes busily trying to restructure economic life on the lines of American corporate class system. I’m continually torn betwe love for Lambton Quay’s splended little steel and glass skyline and a strong sense that the suits who work there are going their best to put the rest of us in their servants’ quarters.

    At the same time, there are strains of both American and Continental counterculturalism which have by all account loosened the place up considerably in the last two generations. And there’s ome appreciated cultural memory; Mata Hari gets listed in textbooks as a significant historical figure, and the active kaffeekultur blatantly lifts imagery from 19th century Bohemian symbols in ways which wouldn’t be PG-13 in the States, with the expectation that the average person will grasp the context.

    Anyway, its wonderful to see mutual aid work- and really as a matter of mutual self-interest, not as a method of keeping knowledge and capital within the old boy’s club (which is how agrarian anti-commercialism works in South) or as some miserably moralistic ‘Noble Social Experiment’ (sorry, communal dishwashing is not a Sacraments). And it operates with a similarly informal cash economy- people trade skills and secondhand goods all the time with a respectful and friendly business ethos with the hardly incidental consequence that the government can’t see it happening. The state doesn’t have a lot of the strong individual rights safeguards built into the American system, but with certain exceptions (immigration and customs, blatantly, and Maori and Islanders seem to get second class treatment), state officials tone down much of the high-and-mighty attitude because they’re consciously aware that they need the public’s cooperation to maintain their power. Unfortunately, from an anarchist pint of view, this means that most people treat most of the existing state as an unproblematic and fairly benevolent part of life. But it works out better by far than the typical American situation- middle class people known their MPs as neighbours, and the state never looks quite as grand when the high-ups have to ask over the fence if they can borrow your hedge clippers. And everyone makes a point of comparing august parliamentary debates to school cafeteria food fights, and the MPs by their part cooperate helpfully by maintaining standards of rhetorical decorum not much better than ‘I know you are, but what am I?’

    I used to think that agorism was a nice idea but a quirky eccentricity with more style and substance. Wrong. 180 wrong. Heel-face wrong. Where was!? my brain at the time wrong. Agorism is a politics which is principled, radical, enjoyable, glamourous, and potentially practical. That would be a win.

    And it does pretty well on the world-historical, Dead White Guys stage if you think about it. The Greeks were a bunch of pirates. Thales was a merchant- Aristotle mildly snubbed him for taking advantage of natural philosophical knowledge to corner the market on wine presses. Skip ahead, when things finally start recovering from the Christian disaster, and you get ‘town air makes men free’. Vocational census data from those Renaissance Italian cities where they made all those purty paintings and stuff can be amusing reading. Agorism is just another name for precisely the effective stick with which the original rising bourgeoisie kicked Medieval hiney- y’know, back when the bourgeoisie were fun, and merchants could make kewl Shakespearen characters. The agorists of history and legend can certainly be painted as both heroes and villians (some of them cheerfully carried out colonalists massacres), but at least they give the liberal arts departments something more interesting to do than complain about the aesthetic impermeability of late capitalism (#). Sweet Jesus, agorism could make the via activa worth writing about again.

    And this is where all the romantic aspects of the young American experiment got their start- some Canadians and British still sniff at Declaration of Independence for being an ideological pose by ungrateful smugglers and tax evaders- which, okay, it was (let’s not even get into the Atlantic slave trade). But, excuse me, it’s this kind of attitude which makes me want to recite the Constitution while slurping down a Big Mac and Coke. L. Neil Smith’s Probability Broach and with his successful Whiskey Rebellion timeline got it dead right. This is was libertarianism- American individualist libertarianism- was supposed to be ten years ago before actual experience with Libertarians taught me to hate the word. I mean, this is all the guiltless Randian enjoyment of material life with total escape from the ‘no I in the word team’ corporate culture which Objectivists are somehow incapable of identifying as conformist collectivism, even if its structures are a linear descent from the frickin’ military.

    Plus, some of us would really appreciate a society in which practically everyone with money wasn’t a soulless corporate douchebag. I believe that the Bay Area’s 90s rave culture was funded by the benevolent philanthropy of one the earlier and still individualist Silicon Valley moguls. Do this with agorist principles less amenable to cooptation, and it could stick. This is how real cultures get started, not to mention all the fighting injustice and building a better world stuff. “If I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her.”

    And, yes, link up with the Left on this. Here be potential. Much more of the left is already like this than it wants to admit. Yes, yes, gift economies can work wonderfully when the stars are right. But in the mundane rest of the world, things just do not get done without incentives and price mechanisms. And my sneaking sense is more of the Left has to know and know-how this than it admits, because without some sense of economic reality and respect for individualist self interest it’s impossible to organise one’s way out of a soggy paper bag. Lots of radical leftist events sure smell to me as if they’re funded by counter-economics. I mean, come on, I deeply support the rights of people to use marijuana for health reasons, and it really is good medicine in some cases. I’ve known medical marijuana people who are genuine saints. But A=A, no matter how many green crosses you stick everywhere and how much sappy atruism you put in the literature. I bet a there are a lot of the people who would love to get involved with an agorist left-libertarianism which welcomed them on their terms.

    Robyn Few of the Sex Workers Outreach Prohect was able to do the good organising she did precisely because she’s a sharp businesswoman at heart… and I’m told it was a libertarian lawyer who was responsible for drafting the proposition she got put on the Berkeley ballot for non-enforcement of prostitution laws. Many of the best people on the existing Left get looked down upon by the rest of the ‘alternative’ scene because they touch teh filthy lucre instead of living off parents or on the dole like respectable citizens, or (for maximum cred) can qualify for a flat in some drippy socialist utopia where you have to say ecological prayers before each dreary dinner table conversation over tasteless vegan mush. Build agorism enough, convince them this really is different from vulgar linertarians, and the converts will come knocking.

    Plus: the Left de facto counter-economists I’ve personally known can be really good on race and cultural respect issues, not because of PC moralism but because there’s a profit motive in learning to work with different kinds of people and walk a bit in the other guy’s shoes so that you can keep good business relations. Meanwhile, the much of the left’s leisure class morality leaves them as white… er, I meant as pure as snow. Counter-economics, done right, is good for the anti-racism department.

    A few problems:

    1) It seems really hard to pull off anything remotely resembling collective action in the U.S., where the instincts are so atomistic, and cultural hostilites get deeply in the way of collective action. Plus, the middle classes of the Empire have been taught to feel distrustful and even morally uncomfortable with anything which isn’t packaged, branded, and accompanies by procedures and paperpwork. If the vulgar libertarians ignore agorism today, they’ll start getting really class-nasty if agorism starts succeeding. This is already starting to happen, for instance, over IP issues. Expect to see open libertarian vs. libertarian warfare, with direct conflicts of interest and principle. Agorism isn’t going to help win respectable allies, either, but I’m kinda starting to agree with Rad Geek that they aren’t as trustworthy allies in the first place as I’ve previously believed (thanks, Gus). Oh, and the paleos will hate it too, but anything which encourages the paleos to move themselves to another planet is a plus in my book, especially if that planet lacks an atmosphere with more than trace amounts of oxygen.

    2) Eventually, if we get anywhere, even something as stupid as the state will start figuring out that this approach to libertariansm is a potentially much more dangerous threat to their power and will go after agorism the way they quietly clamped down on the remnants of the counterculture in the 80s and less quietly clamped down on the anti-globalisation movement in the 00’s. A friend of mine once pretty much yelled at me to never call myself an ‘anarchist’ because it waves a red flag in the eyes of the state. ‘Agorism’ will do the same. Um, you do you that you can go to jail for breaking laws, right? Maybe we should start some some kind of agorist mutual fund covering political accidents and learn to do prisoner support networks.

    3) There is already coercive mercantilist establishment in the nonrespectable market just as there is in the respectable market. By that I mean gangs, organised crime, and the Godfather movies to the contrary, these people are the worst collection of abusive, crudely racist, sexism-with-gloves off monsters ever to be incarnated in human form. These, incidentally, are the objective class group Preston has suggested we invite to swell the officer ranks of his vanguard army. This is a really, really, really, BAD idea. I don’t object to gangsters breaking laws and don’t even really care all that much about petty personal property crimes against corporations, but there are people in this world who really consider rape and murder within their daily list of acceptable options.

    Agorism implies an attempt to reform the illegal wealth-violence instead of attempting to reform the legal wealth-violence complex. That’s obviously dangerous. But there is the advantage that with less centralisation, there’s more change for honesty to win over dishonesty, precisely because it is honest. And that is an encouraging thought.

    Respectable corporate capitalism manipulates public perceptions through the media and spend millions on marketing. The result is to conceal a system in which all of our stuff is made by more-or-less slave labour. But most people- even inquisitive and serious scholars- can go through their entire lives and honestly never grasp the reality of the bloody empire upon which all rests. The red marketeers, by contrast, are more honest. They don’t bother with the formality of zoning laws and just get straight to slashing your face with a knife for standing on the wrong street corner.

    Of course, in the U.S the distinction between the crooks and the cops is a little blurry, to say the least. In S.F. one near-monopoly by the name of Deja Vu enterprises owns all the strip clubs, runs them the standard exploiative way, and then lobbies the police department to crack down on independent sex workers so thet they’ve no alternative but to work for them. In Vegas, a transgender sex worker simply dissapereared after she tried to unionise a strip club… and the police somehow fogot to investiate. And a sister from Chicago, who worked at a mob house, says that the their policy wasn’t to bother sending out goons to break legs. They just has their friends working in the IRS make their lives miserable with tax harrassment.

    Which leads me to…

    3) If left-libertarians succeed in being accepted into the left, and if agorist practice starts to work effectively, it will start attracting the kind of potential attention which will make romantic recollections of the Paris Commune or Russian nihilism stop being funny. Rad Geek’s exposes of police brutality already make me really, really worry sometimes. Preston may suffer the unfortunate curse of being himself, but he’s one step ahead of many people in his realisation that the 21st century is promising to look like a bloody, worldwide, low-level, and multipolar insurgery (and the U.S. state seems to think the same).

    I’ve seen just enough of this myself that half of me wants to go run and hide under a bourgeois office desk. That isn’t a very good answer, at least if you want to live with a degree of autonomy, integrity, or passion which makes it worth the effort to keep eating and breathing. But we need answers in case conditions get as bad as I fear they may.

    I know that a lot of brothers and sisters in the left-libertarian community are already quietly (or not-so-quietly) paying serious personal prices for their ideals, simply because the bosses tend to pass over People With Brains when they pick and choose who among the reserve army of labour gets to work and eat. I know three people who have been tortured by poice, one for being transgendered at the wrong place and time, the other two for politics.

    I’m not trying to glamourise here, to be fully honest I’m starting to like peace and quiet enough to wonder how hard it is to get a nice house in suburbia (I turned 30 in October). I’m just citing facts. Earlier today I had a talk with another tgirl going through surgical treatments. She’s a former lawyer from Texas, and after ten minutes of conservation it was obvious that we just simply could not communicate, that no degree of citing public statistics about the prison population or personal or documented stories of police brutality would ever get her out of the system-is-good-at-heart it’s-only-a-few-bad-apples those-people-you-read-on-the-internet-are-just-making-stuff-up class mindcage. The point is that the class system is solidified to the point where the nice liberals (and libertarians) are counting on a civilised liberal-democratic that isn’t there.

    Recognition that the imperial center is a near-police state is becoming reasonably common among politically informed people. When Paul Craig Roberts and Wendy McElroy come to the same conclusions, it’s past the time to stop laughing at ‘hysterical exaggerations of radicals’, the way people sniggered at Arthur Silber for telling it like it is. If we did an honest version of Freedom House’s annual lists of ‘free’, ‘semi-free’, and ‘not-free’ countries, then the places where most of us live would get painted in fairly unpalatable colours.

    (Fin.) The civilised orders of the old world are failing both as civilisations and as orders. And, contra the primitivists and national anarchists, no one with a shred of humanity left in them wants to wander back into that black barbarous night. This is why Iraqis can look fondly back to Saddam and some Afghani women can prefer the Taliban to open-season warlord-rapists. I fear Octavia Buter’s Parable of the Sower may prove too prophetic. In the world to come, humanism may find itself in a precarious position, unsteadily navigating in a world split between the Alliance and a thousand gangs of reavers.

    So what do radicals do in this sutation?- humanistic radicals, radicals who refuse to give up a love of life or something at least vaguely resembling civilised standards of conduct. I’ve been doing a lot of personal thinking about this issue recently. And everything comes to the same startlingly unoriginal answer: creating a community where people can rely on and trust one another, and a sense of kindness. Not for ‘morality’. Not from altruism. And not from some moralisitic vaguardian bromide kind of ‘solidarity’. But just as a practical way to find peace in a peaceless world.

    (#) Translation: I’m too out of touch with my society to competently write to it and have a degree with too many syllables to allow myself stoop to the shame of writing imaginative fiction. Now cease your worldly sins and increase my department’s budget! And when can I recite the solemn vows and get tenure, blessed mother superior?.

  3. Gabriel

    Many of the best people on the existing Left get looked down upon by the rest of the ‘alternative’ scene because they touch teh filthy lucre instead of living off parents or on the dole like respectable citizens, or (for maximum cred) can qualify for a flat in some drippy socialist utopia where you have to say ecological prayers before each dreary dinner table conversation over tasteless vegan mush.

    Somehow this passage made me laugh at its grey dreariness. They should do a movie where a color agorist comes to liven up a black-and-white dreary vegan commune.

    that no degree of citing public statistics about the prison population or personal or documented stories of police brutality would ever get her out of the system-is-good-at-heart it’s-only-a-few-bad-apples those-people-you-read-on-the-internet-are-just-making-stuff-up class mindcage. The point is that the class system is solidified to the point where the nice liberals (and libertarians) are counting on a civilised liberal-democratic that isn’t there.

    Yeah it’s probably pointless having a discussion with someone like that, in my view the prison statistics speak for themselves.

    Anyways Agorism sounds like a great idea if it actually works, the main problems are as you say whether the State will just crush it and also the fact that mafiosos are also practicing counter-economics. :(

  4. Crosbie Fitch

    I’m currently working on http://contingencymarket.com which is intended to enable large numbers of people to make monetary exchanges contingent upon publicly visible/verifiable events, e.g. the publication of an article, or other public action (political change if you fancy). Thus 100 of your readers could pledge to pay you a penny if you publish another article (1p2U.com is such a demo of the Contingency Market).

    I know it’s only ‘work in progress’, so not really noteworthy in itself, but I thought you might be interested to know of someone at least working along the lines you allude to in your post - even if it’s not up and running yet. There are also others working along similar lines, so the real necessity you outline is certainly mothering invention…

  5. Soviet Onion

    Aster, you’re a woman after my own heart.

    As I’ve said before time and time again, “libertarian” should be an outlaw culture, properly synonymous with “Browncoat”.

  6. Soviet Onion

    Gabriel,

    Somehow this passage made me laugh at its grey dreariness. They should do a movie where a color agorist comes to liven up a black-and-white dreary vegan commune.

    Wasn’t Robert De Niro’s character in Brazil kind of like that?

    Aster,

    I wrote a little something about “bust insurance” and prison breaks a year ago that I think you might find relevant:

    Aside from providing safety in numbers, agorist networks could form the initial basis of insurance pools for those involved in non-violent illegality, much like the fraternal lodge societies that provided healthcare at the turn of the last century.

    Since the chance of getting caught is relatively low, but the risks may be very high, such services would serve to allay fears and encourage broader participation in counter-economic activity. In the event of capture, support could take the form of full or partial payment for fines, legal fees, bribes to judges/juries for favorable verdicts, or at least buy things to make prison life more tolerable. There’s already an insurance company in Sweden offering to insure people against fines from the RIAA for filesharing, called Tankafritt.nu. I don’t know how serious this initiative truly is, but in light of the recent Pirate Bay convictions its concept is definitely worthy of exploration. Companies of this sort would do well by insuring the activities in other countries, possibly using their own country’s foreign policy as a shield (imagine a U.S. company insuring counter-entrepreneurs in Iran, or a Chinese company in the U.S.)

    Initially, these firms wouldn’t be able to do much beyond covering the costs of any fines, court expenses (and potentially bribes) and, as you mentioned, making a contribution to various forms of prisoner support. As participation grows, insurance policies could include could go beyond simple harm reduction to include provisions for breaking individuals out of prison. History shows that the most successful escapes are not solitary ventures, but have help from inside and outside the prison. Insurance pools could finance bribes for guards, and place bounties for prison break teams that will organize safe houses, escape vehicles, forged documents: all the tools needed for a successful escape.

    In the later stages, these could be done en masse: Your insurance mutual would simply offer a bounty to whomever facilitates your safe escape. Prison-break teams would seek to free entire incarcerated populations from state prisons, collecting numerous bounties at once. At that level, they might as well set all the prisoners lose just to tie up more police resources by creating more targets (most of them are there for victim less crimes anyway). Gotta love those positive externalities.

    Regarding organized crime …

    The truly black market stuff like drugs, some gambling and, yes, prostitution(+) is a bad example if you’re using it as a general stand-in for what counter-economics would be for most people. Part of that is just a matter of risk. For the really high-risk stuff, red-marketeers have a comparative advantage. They’re already involved in racketeering, theft, and murder, so the added risk of getting into drug trafficking is a drop in the bucket for them. The FARC, for example, started out as a paramilitary force, then got into drug trafficking after a period of simply extorting independent producers. Ditto for the IRA, or the Afghani warlords. Most street gangs begin as simple thugs or bands of lost and wounded boys,

    I don’t want to give the impression that the drug trade is all violence-tainted. I mean, who hasn’t known someone who’s grown pot, even if it was just a couple of plants? Non-violent producers are a large segment of that market, as well as for hallucinogens. But because of the obscene risks associated with heroin and coke, the black market won’t really displace the red market in those areas until it grows past a certain point (at the expense of the white market) and the risk (and thus profit) drops a bit, and when it becomes absorbed into the surrounding culture in a way that enables rather than stigmatizes it, isolates it and prevents the forces of social censure from preemptive aberrant forms. In other words, when the people identify with the counter-economy (outlaw culture) more than they do the corporate State. Just compare the Bolivian cocaine trade to that of Columbia or Peru and I think you’ll see hints of what I mean.

    Grey market activities (normally mundane action just done in a counter-economic fashion) like gypsy cabs, off-the-books plumbing or repair for cash, illegal street-food, online sales from businesses based in lower tax zones, homebrewing, any kind of alternative food production, community gardening, any kind of service for cash… anything that the evades controls of zoning, taxation, licensing, wages is objectively counter-economic. These all make better and purer examples of agorist activity than a lot of existing “organized crime”, and for the additional reason that they’re a lot more accessible to a broader range of people who are likely too risk averse to start trafficking coke.

    (+) I’m not at all saying we should leave these people out in the cold or treat their existence as “too distant for agorism”; my own activism denies that. I’m just saying that there are an objectively different set of conditions at play. Patriarchy doesn’t help too much, either.

  7. Geoffrey Allan Plauche

    Charles,

    Where/how, if at all, do you see something like Gil Guillory’s proposed white-market subscription-based patrol and restitution service (SPR) fitting into agorism and counter-economics?

  8. Aster

    Aster, you’re a woman after my own heart.

    And I also dig your ideals and your aesthetic. You’ve been, in the last two weeks, a friend and comrade who I’ve needed for two years (same on that to William Gillis). I look forward to getting “Barbarians for Civilisation” up and writing. Er… likely make that ‘civilization’, since you yanks will probably have the dialectical majority. Well, unless, y’all like the ‘Briddish’-has-more-syllables-than-‘American’ thing.

    And as a friend, please avoid misfortune.

    As I’ve said before time and time again, ‘libertarian’ should be an outlaw culture, properly synonymous with ‘Browncoat’.

    I’d be in the Browncoat Pride Movement if and when I could pull it off well enough to show up at a convention. Calamity Jane’s one of my personal heroes, except for that part about shooting indigineous Americans for money. I still have a Westernish top with sequins which was probably thrift shopped from a strip club- and it is brown.

    But I get the weird sense that one necessary if insufficient condition for Browncoat enlistment is going to involve losing the ethics argument with Roderick Long. My neo-Mom showed up today in Thailand today. Who knows? With reason and freedom many things are possible. Is there an announcement list for Firefly fan conventions?

    That said Gabriel’s right. Sexual and narcotic producers don’t have a right to star status over people who make food, buildings, books, medicine, screenplays, computer programs, paintings, furniture, or plumbing pipes. Nor is someone’s whose calling is oppressed by the local state better than someone whose calling is subsidised by the state. Certainly, specialisation and the production of luxury and intellectual goods are characteristic of a high state of civilisation, but they are impossible without the more practical and basic kinds of human labour. Everyone knows that you can’t build an arcane sanctum until around the time you have around 8 or 10 farms.

    We have an ethical right to demand equal respect with all the others, all else being the same, and it some support now and then would be well-appreciated when the state goes out its way to put practitioners of certain professions in cages. And thousands of years of getting snubbed, excluded, oppressed, and killed by straight white morons does make one a little touchy and defensive. It’s amazing how much more kindness one feels towards the world when people take a minute of their time to show that they understand this.

    But if we act like we’re better because we do the fun stuff, then we shoot ourselves in the foot, look like spoiled brats, and do half the work of the Prestons and Hoppes of the world for them.

    Whores should ask for respect from wives, but not act like they are better than those who found different paths through the sex-classs system. Noth options involve some compromises and some advantages in the context of patriarchy. Queer people have every moral right to demand a right to publicly be their individual selves, but sneering as straights as unfashionable breeders is both wrong and really, really, really stoopid. Ditto proletarian workers and entrepeneurial workers. Ditto ruralists and urbanites. Ditto Libertaria and the Left.

    This alliance is what left-libertarianism might be and ought to be. It requires that individualism keeps the courage of its conviction and includes the oppressed and marginalised, and that lines in marble be drawn against the inherently evil aspects of such things as paleolibertarianism and national anarchism. But it also requires that those with the inclination and the privilege to be ‘wild and free’ give our equal respect to those who are, after all, the majority of our fellow men and women. I loathe altruism and would love to commit some propaganda by the deed against that “It’s a small world after all” Christian love boat ride in Disneyland. But showing each other a reasonable effort at mutual kindness and solidarity, provided that we are substantively treated as social citizens due humanity and human respect, is even more overwhelmingly in the interests of the marginalised than it is for those who are not. As Kevin Carson and Charles Johnson have been saying over and over again (and Roderick Long too, despite his very good manners): fellow workers.

    (And I’m not dissing the unemployed. Before looking down at someone down on the dole, understand what it does to the soul to be told by the entirely of society, via the rigged marketplace, that you’re literally not worth enough to merit living on Earth. I was briefly there. I’ve known people who have lived on charity with minds as deep as Adam Reed’s or as sharp as Doug Casey’s. Besides, under capitalism unempolyment is structural)

  9. Nick "Natasha" Manley

    I am currently assessing my economic options. If any friends of liberty would like to do some trade, then I am all ears.

    If enough of you would donate money for Arthur Silber style essays, then I’d be mightily pleased.

  10. Gabriel

    I hear peasants sometimes say “YOU’RE the King? Well I didn’t vote for you!”.

  11. Soviet Onion

    NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY

    In a country whose economy is experiencing the worst crisis since the Great Depression, San Antonio’s got the dubious luck of being a poor city already: Our average median family income scrapes along at about two-thirds the national benchmark. Roughly a quarter of Bexar County’s children live under the poverty line, yet we consider ourselves lucky. The Economy, that great godlike abstraction, has less capital to mess with down here, or so says conventional wisdom; the effects of the great tanker run aground are felt last by those who had nothing on the ship-coming-in to begin with.

    San Antonio, though, in addition to (and sometimes because of) our poverty, is engaged in a vast and diverse “shadow economy,” a bajillion financial transactions by countless folks whose necessities are paid for through means not accounted for by the GNP, not measured in the Dow Jones, and usually not registered with the IRS. Statistics for this shadow economy are, well, shadowy, involving as it does barely understood labor performed by sometimes-undocumented people with no written record of it ever happening.

    But it’s happening. Chances are, you know one of the shadow economy’s participants, whether or not you number among the working poor. Your neighbor’s cleaning lady, for instance, may not get a W-2. Maybe you’ve purchased a roll of samizdat Hannah Montana stickers at a flea market, or a handmade Sponge Bob piñata at a (likely not-City-licensed) yard sale. Or consider the Wild West(+) marketplace of Internet commerce, whose convoluted backways are signposted by Nigerian scam emails addressing you as Beloved. Or perhaps you’ve paid cash for sex, or drugs, or have been, yourself, paid with one or the other.

    And maybe you wonder how the financial practices of the poor and/or creative are affected by Great Depression 2.0. Are there economic sectors which, to paraphrase Tony Soprano, are so clandestine, or so compulsive to the flawed human animal, as to be recession-proof?

    So with all that in mind, I took to the streets and to the world wide web and to Westside bungalows and Northside apartments to do some highly unscientific, highly anecdotal investigation. People are making ends meet somehow in a city where 25 percent of the population qualifies for food stamps, but only half of those actually participate in the program, according to a 2005 San Antonio Food Bank/USDA survey.

    (+) That would be the point at which I fell in love with this article. And how great is that the reporter actually humanizes the people involved, talks to them like you would any other person in any “normal” job, and does it in a witty and interesting way?

    Strategic implications? Well, it reminds me of something I remember reading a couple years ago:

    Libertarians, in my opinion, should shed their cultural neutrality and learn to identify with the liberation of those affected by unjust (coercive) laws. Libertarians could make a major blow for drug-users’ rights by staging well-publicised stone-ins in front of city halls and police departments. Libertarians could host sex workers as public speakers to demystify their lives and increase mainstream awareness of sex workers as human beings. Libertarians could, when discussing immigration, bring out the heroism of those who leave everything behind to seek a better life in a new country. Libertarians could tour gun shows with video cameras to introduce demonised gun-owners to liberals and leftists.

    This is the way most 20th century libertarian battles were won (usually not by libertarians). This is what knocked down Jim Crow, contraception and abortion laws (until recently), the sodomy laws, etc. People don’t become convinced on principle to tolerate the rights of those they despise. People learn to stop despising or fearing others and subsequently loosen their grip on the formerly despised’ rights.

    This is article is practically indistinguishable from (A)gorist agitprop.

· July 2009 ·

  1. Discussed at darianworden.com

    DarianWorden.com» Blog Archive » Agorist Class Theory:

    […] Charles Johnson on Black-and-Red markets […]

· October 2009 ·

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2009-10-07 – Welcome, FreeTalkers:

    […] positive aspects, above and beyond its critique of electoral politics, you may want to check out this interview I recorded with Jason Talley of the Motorhome Diaries back in […]

  2. Discussed at darianworden.com

    DarianWorden.com» Blog Archive » Crisis And Opportunity:

    […] and goods can help gain influence (see A Quick Look At Insurgent Political Influence). Think counter-institutions – economic and social […]

· December 2009 ·

  1. Discussed at darianworden.com

    DarianWorden.com» Blog Archive » What Is To Be Opposed:

    […] powers and then replace authority. The social power of solidarity, and the economic power of the counter-economy can provide political power that undermines authority, instead of having a symbiotic relationship […]

— 2010 —

  1. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-05-17 – The Clean Water Act Vs. Clean Water:

    […] GT 2009-05-19: Rad Geek Speaks: Motorhome Diaries interviews me on agorism and counter-economics […]

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