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Agorism is a radical left-libertarian political philosophy founded and popularized by Samuel Edward Konkin III, who defined an Agorist as a conscious practitioner of counter economics (peaceful black markets and grey markets). The term comes from the Greek word "agora" meaning public square or marketplace.

Some may consider Agorism to be an attempt to reconcile anarcho-capitalism with individualist anarchism/mutualism and even libertarian socialism. [1] Their ideas are usually portrayed as an evolution and superation of those of Murray Rothbard.

Views on Property[edit]

By preferring the term "free market" Agorists are not bound by the implications of the term capitalism. While some Anarcho-Capitalists may believe in replacing all public property with private property, Agorists argue that non-state common property can be legitimate and should be respected. Like Anarcho-Capitalists, and unlike Libertarian Socialists, they believe that private property should, in certain cases, extend beyond current possession.[1] Private property, particularly in land would not continue infinitely, but must actually be used in some regular capacity to avoid being considered abandoned. Whereas some more extreme Anarcho-Capitalists believe that all property should be private (neo-Lockean) property (hard propertarianism), Agorists are soft propertarian and believe that collective property is permissible.

Views on Corporations[edit]

Government favored corporations are viewed by Agorists to link the illegitimacy of the state to many such businesses. State restrictions that limit liability on corporations are believed to corrupt those businesses such that the upper management acts irresponsibly with corporate assets. For example, if such businesses excessively pay executives and are then unable to meet contractual debts, many state laws protect the wages of those responsible for the bankruptcy. Agorists argue that liability cannot simply disappear by act of government and so legitimate business will always have managers or owners who will be held responsible for any actions taken.

Corporations are considered to be allied to the "political class", as they cultivate, support and benefit from the existence of the state. Corporations are regarded as being in possession of illegitimate property accumulated through coercion over a period of time. For this reason, Agorists support the takeover of corporate property by the workers as an act of homesteading, an idea initially proposed by Murray Rothbard, who only retreated from the position after being unable to propose an effective system for the redistribution of property that didn't rely on the state or mindless violence. However, though Rothbard backed down from the position, the idea has been carried on into Agorism.


Agorists tend to oppose copyrights and patents as an illegitimate monopoly as argued by Benjamin Tucker, supporting filesharing and other forms of piracy as aspects of the counter economy.


Often Agorists promote and argue for reconciliation between writings by authors as different as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and David Friedman in part by acknowledging terminological differences, most evident by the word "property" itself. Other words such as "free market", "Socialism" and "Capitalism" are acknowledged by Agorists as major causes in rifts among Anarchists merely because of their connotations, uses and definitions among various factions.

Agorists are accepting of most forms of Anarchism, proposing that any Anarchist society is free and therefore people will organise in a way that they see fit. However, Agorists, despite their Anarcho-Capitalist influences have been known to criticism Anarcho-Capitalism for its title, arguing that it is an oxymoron and not a real representation of what the philosophy proposes[2], and it's proponents' rejection of the term "Socialism"[3].

Agorist Class Theory[edit]

Agorists, like Marxists, have their own class theory. Konkin asserts that Agorists make a 3-part distinction between those living under capitalism. Group one contains the workers, entrepreneurs are producers in society, while group two contains neutral capitalists and group three contains the political class. The distinction is based on each classes contribution to society, with group one producing the most while suffering at the hands of group three, group two generally being a-political and group three existing parasitically, contributing nothing to society.

entrepreneur (although an entrepreneur is not necessarily a capitalist) or venture capitalist non-statist capitalist pro-statist capitalist
(good) (neutral) (bad)
innovator, risk-taker, producer — the strength of a free market holders of capital, not necessarily ideologically aware — "relatively drone-like non-innovators" "the main Evil in the political realm"

Konkin claimed that anarcho-capitalists tend to conflate the first and second types, and implies that "Marxoids and cruder collectivists" conflate all three. [2]


Agorists tend to oppose voting and political participation, and at least do not believe that such could ever be an effective means to bring about a free society. They are argue that political movements quickly become corrupt and bogged down by the political system eliminating any chance for actual reform, while also any voluntary state participation is a breach of core ethics. Additionally Agorists are entirely against using violence to destroy the state, arguing that means must be consistent with ends. The moment an innocent is killed as a result of revolutionary action, the movement can no longer be justified after having breached its code of ethics. Furthermore, they argue that violent revolution destroys the infrastructure that already exists within society, making it more expensive to rebuild and subsequently increasing the chances of abuse by movement leaders and counter-revolutionary activity.

Instead Agorists propose the use of counter economics to starve the state from within. This is done by expanding and encouraging participation in an underground economy (also referred to as "freed market"), often harnessing the forces within black and grey markets for productive purposes. However, that is not always the case as mutual aid projects that seek to establish farming coops are also considered counter economic. Counter Economics works by keeping wealth out of the state run capitalist economy, as participants on the freed market gradually begin to trade more amongst themselves, diminishing the income of the state. "Revolution", then takes place in the collapse of the state which destroys itself by the various economic problems it will create as a result of trying to compete with the counter economy. At this point the state is weakened to a point where it can no longer suppress the existence of the counter economy, allowing for those operating on the counter economy to openly resist the state.

The key theme to Counter Economics is that it involves building a new society within the shell of the old. There is no unethical and wasteful participation within the political system required. Similarly, violent revolution is avoided, existing infrastructure is maintained, new infrastructure is created and there are no specific 'leaders', reducing the chances for a dictatorship to arise.

See also[edit]

In fiction[edit]

Science Fiction writer J. Neil Schulman promoted the ideas in his novel Alongside Night.


  1. ^  See Klafta and left libertarian reconciliation by Brad Spangler and Libertarian Forum: A Resource for UnCapitalists? by Kevin Carson.

External links[edit]

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