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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.

Southern Nevada ALLy Kelly Patterson speaks TOMORROW (Wed. 2/4) at Las Vegas Anarchist Cafe: “We Need The Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World.”

The Vegas Anarchist Cafe is a meet-up for networking, building community, and doing some outreach for anarchists in Las Vegas, which Southern Nevada ALL has been organizing together with unaffiliated local anarchists for the past several months. The main idea is just to give anarchists, anti-statists, and anarchy-curious fellow travelers a place to meet up and talk in an informal setting at a local coffee-house. There isn’t a fixed business agenda; the idea is to give people a place to find each other. Once they’ve found each other, A-Cafe can serve as a springboard for the independent projects that they may want to start.

After some discussions with regular A-Cafers, we’ve decided to start putting on a series of talks, presentations, skill-shares and open mics — tentatively titled the Free Speech Soapbox Series. Last week I gave the first Soapbox talk — an introductory talk on Anarchistic ideas, called What Is Anarchism?. Turn-out was good, and the discussion was lively. (For those of you wondering about the audio recording — I haven’t yet had the chance to check whether it came out audibly or not. News on that soon.)

This week — specifically, TOMORROW, Wednesday 4 February 2009, fellow Southern Nevada ALLy Kelly Patterson will be giving a talk on labor radicalism, wildcat unionism, and the Industrial Workers of the World, called We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World!

This week at the Anarchist Cafe:

We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World.Kelly Patterson — Wed., January 28 6:30pm — 7:30pm — Local artist, activist, and fellow worker Kelly Patterson will will give a presentation entitled We Need the Wobblies Now More Than Ever! A Brief History of the Industrial Workers of the World. The I.W.W. is a radical, anti-statist industrial labor union, which organized hundreds of thousands of workers and became one of the most powerful unions in America early in the 20th century — until the United States government targeted it for destruction. In this age of bail-outs, the government and the bosses have proven themselves incapable of delivering the prosperity that they promised; workers need a fighting union now more than ever. Kelly’s talk will look at both the I.W.W.’s storied history, and at signs of hope for a Wobbly resurgence in the early 21st century.

This week’s presentation is the second in the Free Speech Soapbox Series, a series of presentations, speeches, programming, and free speech open mics for the middle 60 minutes of the weekly A-Cafe (6:30–7:30pm). When we have a Soapbox, the first 30 minutes and the final 30 minutes are devoted to the usual informal meet-up format; the 60 minutes in between offer information, entertainment, programming, or a chance for A-Cafers to talk about issues that they care about or projects they are working on. The schedule of Soapboxes is available online. If there is something you’d be interested in talking about at the A-Cafe, contact us to set up for an available time slot.

–from the Vegas Anarchist Cafe website

The Anarchist Cafe meeting will begin at 6:00 PM. Kelly’s talk will begin at 6:30 PM (and should run about an hour or so, including time at the end for Q&A). During the time before and after the talk, A-Cafers are encouraged to check out material from local organizations on our table space, to meet each other, and to chat.

Here are the details on the event:

  • WHAT: Talk by Kelly Patterson of Southern Nevada ALL on the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, and why we need a radical, anti-state industrial union now more than ever
  • WHEN: Wednesday, 4 February 2009, 6:30 PM.
  • WHERE: Weekly Anarchist Cafe @ The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Running Rebel Plaza (across the street from UNLV). 4550 S. Maryland Parkway; we’ll be in the meeting room off to the left of the entrance.

If you’re in the Vegas area (or even if you’re not), it’d be great to see you there. If you know anyone around abouts who might be interested in a talk about Anarchism or radical labor organizing, then please do forward the announcement on to them.

More to come soon; watch this space.

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