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An Agorist Roadmap

July 1, 2010

This Guest Post by Kyle Bennett is part of Secession Week 2010: Economic Secession.

So, you want to secede? Your differences with some government or other are irreconcilable, and you want a divorce, but you don’t know how? The usual methods are messy, and involve lawyers. You’ll spend a lot of money and time, years of draining effort, endure painful negotiations, and hope that at the end of it all, you’ve convinced enough of the right people to sign off on your wishes. You’ll have no idea if, when, and at what cost the final victory will come. You may even have to fight a war before it is all over.

Would you like an easier way? A way that puts you in control, that allows you to secede entirely on your own initiative? Do you want to start right now, from where you currently live, without the hassle of figuring out how to divide the house? Do you want to spend your time and money building a new life and a prosperous future instead of buying your ex’s lawyer’s next BMW? Do you want to separate in a way that deprives your ex, the state, of the resources it needs to keep hounding you?

Agorism may just be the answer you are looking for. Think of it as a DIY divorce, free from political and legal wrangling and compromises among competing factions, and without the risk of a power vacuum into which the next up and coming wannabe tyrantcan step. The resources you use remain yours, and build over time. They are not spent on flyers and events and donations, they are invested. They are invested in you.

What is a state, really? It’s a bunch of people, operating under a certain set of rules, perhaps with a shared culture and set of norms. It is a set of mechanisms for enforcing laws, regulating economic activity and money, maintaining geographical integrity, and collecting resources to do all of this via taxation. Some of these things are necessary to any kind of society, others are nothing more than means arbitrarily chosen by a state to try to create the first set of things. They are the wrong means.

The great insights of market anarchism are that rules can be enforced by individuals without centralized law, that markets can self-regulate economic activity and money, that taxes are just theft that allow the non-productive to live off the work of the productive, and that geographical integrity is only necessary to the flawed means chosen by states.

Agorism has a simple answer to freeing one’s self from those flawed means: Just stop. Don’t participate in top down legal enforcement, start enforcing the rules you need for your life from the bottom up, with your own resources. Don’t allow economic regulators to rule your life and your trade and your money, regulate them yourself via markets, relationships, and real money such as silver. Start paying for the things you need yourself, while refusing to pay for those things that others want. Free yourself from the bonds of geographical monopolies and declare that wherever you are, right here and right now, is your own country of one. Let a billion nations bloom.

OK, you didn’t really expect a free lunch, did you? It’s never that simple, except in principle. It takes work, sweat and toil, risk, and planning ahead to achieve the things you want, even those things you have a right to. It’s a process, not a single event. There are basically two processes, done in tandem, and that build upon each other. One is reducing those areas of your life that fall under the control of the state, and removing the remainder from state control. The other is moving those things into another realm, one in which you are in control, you make the decisions, and you reap the rewards. The first reduces the power the state has over you, and over others, by draining resources away from the state that would use them against you. The second builds a new life, the kind we were told as kids was possible in a “free” country where you could be anything you wanted to be. And it creates a society, and a culture, that will already be in place and moving forward on that happy day when states begin collapsing all around us.

Reducing your “lifestyle footprint” in the state controlled sphere frees up your time to act in the free domain. It makes you more agile, more flexible, better able to respond to both opportunities and threats. Are you in debt? Eliminate it, as soon as humanly possible. Debt is the greatest enslaver of mankind. Do you maintain a rich lifestyle dependent on a high income? Cut back as far as you can stand. You won’t have to give those things up for long, you are only reducing them on one side so you can build them up on the other. Is your job tying you down to a fixed schedule, W-4 or 1099 forms, bosses or clients who will never go along with your agorist goals? Re-orient your career to a freelance, or purely entrepreneurial form, or even a different field entirely.

At the same time, begin building yourself up on the free side of life. Learn to handle silver. Just buy a little every so often at first. Learn the pricing structure of bullion and “junk” US Silver coins. Learn how silver feels in your hand, and that satisfying llittle “tink” sound it makes when struck. This is the beginning of your agorist nest egg. Start learning new tradable skills, different than the ones you currently make your living with, to allow a greater range of options. Seek out like-minded people and opportunities to trade. Learn to explicitly assess your trust in them, and to communicate that trust to others in an objective way free of malice or gossip. The most basic infrastructure of agorism is relationships and trust. It is never too early to begin laying those foundations.

Consider your earliest interactions as practice, as opportunities to share in the learning of skills that will be needed as you move to a more and more agorist lifestyle. Make free, unhindered trades for the fun of it, and to learn the details and techniques that make such trade move more smoothly. Use this to build up a network of trusted associates, and maybe some not so trusted. Look for fellow travelers in your community, who may not care about agorism per se, but are willing to work outside the system. Learn to keep your data, communications, and plans secure through encryption, and to selectively reveal them to others based on trust. Learn to think of the pricing of goods and services in terms of silver or gold, rather than dollars.

Most agorists are currently operating in this stage zero of agorism. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and there is a constant itching to get out there and do something. However, If you have debt, if you maintain a rich lifestyle, the demands these place on you will thwart your efforts to free yourself at every turn. If you don’t have a network of friends and trading partners, you’ll find your opportunities for agorist expansion limited. This is the stage for preparing the ground, laying foundations for future building. It’s a time of learning skills and techniques, of meeting new people who share the agorist vision. It is a time for learning to think and act in a new way, for getting used to ignoring the state and becoming comfortable with the risks and the opportunities that entails. It is a time for learning to think of creative, bottom-up market solutions instead of top-down coercive solutions.

As your abilities and options grow, you will begin to use these networks and skills to get real work done, to build income and capital. You will begin to need some kind of physical and/or formal abstract infrastructure to facilitate your activities. The main categories of infrastructure are in the areas of security, currency, trade, transportation, communication, dispute resolution, and land. Build what you need, as you need it, but don’t build any one area out fully in anticipation of future needs. Let them grow organically, holistically, and in sync with each other, to serve the needs you have at any given stage of your own agorist development. Co-opt existing infrastructure when you can, or when you need to until you can build your own. Also, remember that others will need this infrastructure as well, so there is entrepreneurial opportunity there.

Success will breed more success. Those on the political fence will begin to see greener pastures on our side, misery, fear, and want on the other. The slow trickle of resources being withdrawn from state control will become a stream, then a torrent, then an exodus. Government will become weak, then crippled, then entirely impotent. One day you’ll wake up and realize that the state has withered on the vine, that you have built a new society and a new culture free from its incessant interference in your economic and social life.

We are now approaching six centuries after the printing press freed information and inquiry from the control of the elites in state and church. The world has built societies that those elites could never have imagined. What could we build within a mere six decades of the dawn of the internet and its freeing of information and relationships from the bonds of mass and distance? Would we recognize it if we could see it today?

It won’t take six decades to start to see real results in an agorist life, if we start today. We can begin to see them almost immediately. We can do it, but we can’t do it for you. Each of us has to build that world for ourselves. We can cooperate in the effort, we can mutually benefit from voluntary trade, we can build on each other’s successes and innovations. But we have to build it, we cannot wait for others to build it for us. Those who do wait will find themselves excluded from it, until such a day as it is all around them and they are dragged kicking and screaming into it. It is inevitable, and necessary if the human race is to survive and to continue advancing, to continue prospering. But inevitable does not mean imminent. It won’t happen until somebody picks up the tools and starts the work. It can happen in our lifetimes if we make it happen, but it won’t happen until we do.

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