Saturday, May 9, 2015

Promoting Libertarianism While on Acid (And growing a garden)

Derrick Broze is out with a fascinating youtube video discussing his selling and using LSD, crystal meth etc.

 His discussion is framed in an attempt to promote agorism and includes the promotion of growing ones own food in private gardens. Private gardens, as a way to get away from taxable wage labor, are not the way to promote or move towards a libertarian society. And of most concern, though Broze does not tell us how he stands on the idea, but Samuel Konkin, the founder of the agorist movement, was against all wage labor.

There is, of course, a serious problem with this. As Murray Rothbard put it:
First, there is a fatal flaw which not only vitiates Konkin’s agoric strategy but also permits him to evade the whole problem of organization (see below). This is Konkin’s astonishing view that working for wages is somehow non-market or anti-libertarian, and would disappear in a free society.  Konkin claims to be an Austrian free-market economist, and how he can say that a voluntary sale of one’s labor for money is somehow illegitimate or unlibertarian passeth understanding. Furthermore, it is simply absurd for him to think that in the free market of the future, wage-labor will disappear.  Independent contracting, as lovable as some might see it, is simply grossly uneconomic for manufacturing activity. The transactions costs would be far too high.  It is absurd, for example, to think of automobile manufacturing conducted by self-employed independent contractors.  Furthermore, Konkin is clearly unfamiliar with the fact that the emergence of wage-labor was an enormous boon for many thousands of poor workers and saved them from starvation.  If there is no wage labor, as there was not in most production before the Industrial Revolution, then each worker must have enough money to purchase his own capital and tools.  One of the great things about the emergence of the factory system and wage labor is that poor workers did not have to purchase their own capital equipment; this could be left to the capitalists.  (Thus, see F.A. Hayek’s brilliant “Introduction” in his Capitalism and the Historians.)

Konkin’s fallacious and unlibertarian rejection of wage-labor, however, allows him to do several things. It allows him to present a wildly optimistic view of the potential scope of the black-market.  It also accounts for his curious neglect of the “white market,” and his dismissal of it as unimportant. In point of fact, even though the black market is indeed important in Russia, Italy, etc., it is enormously dwarfed in importance by the legal, white market. So the Konkinian vision of black-market institutions growing, defending themselves and thus becoming the free-market anarchist society of the future collapses on this ground alone. Note that black markets are concentrated either in service industries or in commodities which are both valuable and easily concealed: jewels, gold, drugs, candy bars, stockings, etc. This is all well and good, but it still does not solve the problem: who will make automobiles, steel, cement, etc.  How would they fare in the black market?  The answer is  that they don’t fare at all, just as they don’t fare in the independent contracting agora.
Also of note in the Broze video: He tells us that he no longer sells drugs becasue he is too high profile. He says the mayor knows who he is, as do the police, BUT, he was arrested and served jail for selling drugs time before he became high profile.

There is nothing wrong with being a drug dealer, from a libertarian moral perspective,, but it is a very, very dangerous business. It has nothing to do with promoting a libertarian society.

As Rothbard wrote:
If the black market should develop, then the successful entrepreneurs are not going to be agoric theoreticians...but successful entrepreneurs period. What do they need with Konkin and his group?  I suggest, nothing at all.  There is a hint in the NLM that libertarians would a priori make better entrepreneurs than anyone else because they are more trustworthy and more rational, but this piece of nonsense was exploded by hard experience a long time ago.   Neither do the budding black marketeers need Mr. Konkin and his colleagues to cheer them on and free them of guilt.  Again, experience has shown that they do fine on their own, and that urging them on to black market activities is like exhorting ducks to swim...

As much as I love the market, I refuse to believe that when I engage in a regular market transaction (e.g., buying a sandwich) or a black market activity (e.g., driving at 60 miles per hour) I advance one iota nearer the libertarian revolution.  The black market is not going to be the path to liberty, and libertarian theoreticians and activists have no function in that market...

Historically, classical liberal political parties have accomplished far more for human liberty than any black markets. 

In short, the battle of ideas is where the libertarian battle will be won, and it appears that, while promoting agorism, Broze has left the drug Black Market and has himself moved to the promotion of ideas. I



1 comment:

  1. Depends on the black market activity. Agreed, selling drugs does little to advance liberty apart from a slight boost to comfort levels with defying the state's authority.

    But promoting unsanctioned uses of cryptocurrency (which not currently but in the future will be safe) is promoting government-thwarting technology. The black market in _this_ good is unquestionably libertarian.

    Libertarians are wise to recognize some goods can have ideological value beyond their material utility. If enough people can be turned into lawbreakers using cryptocurrency, the tail can wag the dog. Government monetary policy abuse can have a competitor that de facto curtails the government's behavior. The same way enough people were made into lawbreakers using gray market products like AirBnB and Uber that governments were the ones who had to back off enforcement and even legalize the activity.