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Monday, July 7, 2008

Both Theory and Implementation are Important

When searching for freedom, it is necessary to have both theory and implementation. Let's consider other areas.

Would you trust a computer science professor who could not write a simple program? A computer science professor who can't write software is useless and a hypocrite.

Would you trust a Math professor who couldn't calculate derivatives?

I knew a girl who was trying to get a job as a music composer. However, she could not play a musical instrument herself. That seemed pretty ridiculous to me. If you're working as a composer, you should be able to play a few instruments yourself.

Similarly, when seeking freedom, you must both have theory and implementation.

Regrettably, I currently only study theoretical freedom. I do not implement practical agorism yet. However, that does not mean that agorism isn't workable in practice.

For most ideas, there was a time when they were available theoretically, but not in practice. For example, Leonardo da Vinci designed a flying machine. It was impossible to build with the technology available at that time. If he actually were able to construct a flying machine, he would have noticed flaws in his design and made better ones.

Similarly, when I make the transition from theoretical agorism to practical agorism, I will notice mistakes in the theory. That doesn't mean that agorism itself is unworkable.

Many people made designs for calculating machines before computers were actually built. They weren't feasible to build until the transistor was discovered.

Many people wrote about the theory of nuclear power before a working nuclear reactor was built.

The theoretical basis for agorism is still relatively new. I don't know of any groups of practical agorists. That doesn't mean that such groups won't form in the future. For agorism, we're nearly at the transition between "theoretical agorism" and "practical agorism".

I predict that the next "killer app" or "killer technology" will be agorism. It will be a bigger shift than the industrial revolution or the computer/Internet/information revolution.

There is a valid reason to believe that the future will be different from the past. The Internet is allowing freedom seekers to share information in ways that was previously impossible. I would not have discovered agorism at all without the Internet. It would have been difficult for me to research the injustice of the income tax and Federal Reserve if I were forced to rely on mainstream sources. The Internet allowed me to read other people's criticisms of the income tax and Federal Reserve. Hopefully, I've presented the explanations more simply than other people. For example, "Taxation is theft!" and "Inflation is theft!" summarize most of the anti-tax and anti-Federal Reserve arguments.

Joey from the Freedom Symposium is disagreeing with me. He says that we should focus on theoretical freedom and interpersonal freedom. He says that practical economic freedom is too risky/dangerous/pointless.

I disagree. *BOTH* theoretical agorism and practical agorism are needed. You need both interpersonal freedom and economic freedom. Right now, I am only a theoretical agorist. I plan to expand to practical agorism in the future.

Hyperinflation is an excellent opportunity for agorists. If you use sound money, your purchasing power is preserved during hyperinflation. Germany before WWII is a bad example. There was no agorist economy in place at that time. When one State fell, it was merely replaced by another State. If your goal is to defeat the State, then there *MUST* be a free market economy in place as the State collapses. Then, it can prevent a new State from forming.

State employees typically fare the worst during hyperinflation. Their pay increases don't keep pace with hyperinflation. Suppose you're a unionized State employee and your union negotiates salary raises of 5% per year for 5 years. That's an awful deal when inflation is 20%-30% per year! Hyperinflation means that the State has a problem retaining good employees.

Hyperinflation is an opportunity for freedom. It is not an absolute guarantee.

In fact, agorist economic activity encourages hyperinflation! The more people that use sound money and the more people that avoid taxes, the sooner hyperinflation sets in.

Now you're talking about participating in the agorist economy while there is a State, correct? If so then I doubt you're going to get that tactic to work. Keep in mind that the Fed reserve does control the money supply. I don't see how a few agorists dropping out of the main economy and using their methods will rock the State's currency too badly. Again, collapse will happen on it's own and by the polticians' own doing.

Initial agorists will be working in the context of State opposition. That's the whole point of agorism!

You're missing the whole point of exponential growth. Suppose you get 5 people and start an agorist trading group. Your productivity will be raised 2x-10x. With this surplus wealth, you may then hire other people to join you. The growth occurs exponentially.

If you use sound money, then the Federal Reserve does not have a claim on your labor. Your savings can't be stolen by inflation if you use sound money. If you avoid income taxes, then the State does not have a claim on your labor.

It's one thing to say "The State is evil!" It's another to say "How will we get from here to there"? The only viable strategy for defeating the State is agorism.

Suppose agorists are 10x as productive as non-agorists. If 1% of the people are participating in agorism, then they now control 10% of the wealth! If 10% of the people are practicing agorists, then they now control 50% of the wealth! I don't know what the productivity gain is for agorists. It's at least 2x when you consider direct taxes, and probably a lot higher when you account for all the costs.

If you do get any statistical evidence about agorism actually working, I would be more than happy to look at it. In the meantime we're not going to get very far arguing about methodologies.

I haven't tried practical agorism yet. My lack of interpersonal freedom is restricting my economic freedom. I don't have any friends who would join me in an agorist experiment. Just because I don't know such people now, doesn't mean I won't meet such people in the future.

My discussion of the Strawman Corporation was intended to be an analysis of the pro-State arguments favoring the income tax. The income tax is really a bastardization of the US Constitution. There are a lot of hoops that Congress and judges have gone through, to make the income tax "legal". I agree that the bottom line is "Taxation is theft!" and "Income taxes are immoral!" The legal arguments are interesting, but not the main point.

In fact, some other websites overly focus on the legal arguments against the income tax. Focusing on the legality of the income tax is missing the point. The morality of the income tax is what's really important.

Also, I'm not disagreeing with the things Joey says are true. I'm just adding an extra viewpoint. Joey says "Interpersonal freedom is most important. It isn't worth fighting for economic freedom." I say "You need both interpersonal freedom and economic freedom." You need trustworthy trading partners before you can experiment with practical agorism.

Joey says "These posts are very popular". What are the precise readership statistics? According to Google Analytics, you're only sending a few visitors to my blog. These articles don't rate in my "Best of FSK" list. They aren't very popular. How much traffic am I sending to your blog? According to Google Reader, I have 29 RSS subscribers and you have 1. However, that only counts people who subscribe via a Google-supported reader. (I really should start using FeedBurner.)

I'm not disputing the positive points that Joey is making. Interpersonal freedom is important. However, I say that *BOTH* interpersonal freedom and economic freedom are important. You can't have one without the other. Once you get started, it's a virtuous feedback cycle. Greater interpersonal freedom leads to greater economic freedom, and greater economic freedom leads to more opportunities for interpersonal freedom.

I believe Joey is making the "argument from authority" fallacy with respect to Freedomain. I read bits of freedomain's latest book on "Practical Anarchy". It is a reasonable description of how free market justice works. However, freedomain has a *HUGE* error. He does not answer "How do you arrive at a true free market, starting from the current corrupt State system?"

David Gross from the Picket Line left a comment (also posted on his own blog).

David Gross says that he has not been the victim of State violence for advocating tax resistance. David Gross draws the false conclusion that tax resistance doesn't really hurt the bad guys.

Actually, the IRS has seized money from David Gross' bank account. However, he hasn't been arrested or tried for tax evasion.

First, David Gross is following a pathetic version of tax resistance, rather than true agorism. David Gross is intentionally keeping his income below the income tax threshold. David Gross hinted that he might be performing some off-the-books work. If he is, then he's making the transition to practical agorism.

I don't know how large the off-the-books economy in the USA is. It may be larger than I suspect. However, if the off-the-books economy is using Federal Reserve Points instead of sound money, then they're still letting the State rip them off via inflation.

Second, there are several possible explanations for why David Gross hasn't been arrested for advocating tax resistance.
  1. The bad guys don't want to face a well-informed defendant in a taxation criminal trial. It would be embarrassing for the IRS to lose a trial against a tax resister.
  2. The Supreme Leader of Humanity really wants an agorist revolution.
  3. The bad guys are too stupid to recognize tax resistance as a threat. For example, mainstream media corporations didn't realize the effect of P2P filesharing on copyright. They didn't crack down on it until after the average person become accustomed to freely downloading on the Internet. In many cases, an "illegal" download is more convenient for the user than actually purchasing it!
That is something that actually puzzles me sometimes. Why haven't I been the victim of State violence based on my blog? There are plenty of ways to kill someone and make it look like an accident. There are plenty of frivolous criminal charges that can be filed against practically anyone.

My philosophy is that I won't reduce my lifestyle to fight the State. If I can find a way to earn a decent living and boycott income taxes, then I will. I'm not going to intentionally live in poverty to avoid paying income taxes.

David Gross seems to agree with what I said. I'm not contradicting the emphasis on seeking interpersonal freedom. I don't say that advocating for freedom is a waste of time. I'm advocating for freedom myself! However, you have to attempt practical economic freedom. If you're concerned about the risk of agorism, my advice is to start small. Do something like making and selling T-shirts or clothes, and expand from there.

There’s a subplot to the debate that has to do with whether paying taxes is “voluntary” (and if so, in what sense), and whether it’s ethical, and whether tax resistance is appropriate or a waste of time.

If you ask the IRS, income taxes are involuntary. If you do a careful legal analysis, my conclusion is "not proven either way". If you do a moral analysis, "Taxation is theft!" is obvious. If I were the victim of State violence in a tax resistance trial, I would focus on the moral argument, presenting a "jury nullification" defense.

Is it moral to pay income taxes? If you don't have alternative arrangements, resistance is futile. I currently work in a slave W-2 job. All my income is automatically reported to the IRS. I have no choice but to pay tax on my labor.

If you pay income taxes, you're directly contributing to the murder/kidnapping/oppression of other people.

If there was a viable free market economy, I would work there. If I got paid as much as in my slave job, after deducting taxes, then I would prefer to work as an agorist. I'd even accept a partial pay cut to work as an agorist, because it would probably be better working conditions.

Is it worthwhile to resist income taxes? I pay over 50% directly in taxes. If you include the hidden cost of regulation compliance, my actual taxation rate is higher. By avoiding income taxes, it's like I get paid twice as much.

Will agorism lead to the collapse of the State? No, not initially. However, the agorists will be dramatically improving their own lifestyle. Once started, a free market economy should spread exponentially and the State will collapse.

If you do a careful analysis, the US government will probably collapse in 20 years anyway. If you count future promises for Social Security and Medicare, there's no way those benefits can be paid. Either there will be massive inflation, tax hikes, or a combination of both. If there's a viable agorist economy in place when the US government collapses, then that will prevent a new State from arising.

Joey published another reply to David Gross.

FSK's solution is this agorist/economic solution where by simply making the agorist economy available will free people of the state, while mine is the philosophical one where helping people will be free in their personal lives is necessary before people can be free in a stateless society.

No. I advise *BOTH* freedom in your personal life and economic freedom. Joey is only advocating for personal freedom while ignoring economic freedom.

It is hard to have personal freedom when the State is LITERALLY stealing half your life via taxes!

The original American revolution only was supported by a minority of the people. The vast majority didn't care. Similarly, an agorist revolution only needs a minority participating to succeed.

You're making another false assumption. You assume that all workers have equal productivity. The *MOST* productive workers have the most to gain by practicing agorism. When they stop the State from leeching off them, the power of the State is dramatically reduced. If the 1% best workers stop working for the State and start working in the free market, that could cut the State's power by 10%-50% or more! From there, the fall of the State occurs exponentially and the growth of the free market occurs exponentially.

There aren't yet any examples of a functioning agorist free market. That doesn't mean it won't occur in the future.

3 comments:

David Gross said...

You seem to be waiting for some threshhold moment where enough like-minded people have gotten together and come up with a well-organized conspiracy to create an agorist underground that will enable you to live more or less the same life you're living now but without the state getting in the way.

I think that, properly understood, the agorist countereconomy doesn't require any such critical-mass threshhold, but does require making lifestyle changes.

The key is noticing that there are often multiple paths to the goals you're seeking -- some of these (often the most well-lit, well-paved, greased chutes) travel through government checkpoints at which you're taxed and regulated; but other paths don't. They may require going a little out of your way or learning skills the state schools don't teach, but did you think fighting the state was going to be a cakewalk?

There is a vast "solidarity economy" that doesn't involve taxed, regulated transactions (including, but not limited to the "underground economy"). The key to agorism is to take advantage of this economy, contribute to its health and thriving, and to expand its sphere of influence.

For instance, if I drive to Safeway and pick up a six-pack, or if I walk down to the brew supply place and buy supplies to brew my own beer, the end result is the same: I've got beer to drink. But the variety of checkpoints I've gone through on the path to that result is different, as are their consequences in terms of the shape of the society they encourage.

propertarian said...

"Suppose agorists are 10x as productive as non-agorists. If 1% of the people are participating in agorism, then they now control 10% of the wealth! "

Acutally, it's 10/(99+10) = 9.17%.

"If 10% of the people are practicing agorists, then they now control 50% of the wealth!"

Actually, it's (10 * 10)/(50+(10 * 10)) = 66.67%

"There aren't yet any examples of a functioning agorist free market."

The black market and illegal immigration are functioning agorist markets.

"You seem to be waiting for some threshhold moment where enough like-minded people have gotten together"

There are already many agorists. The Internet would make enough people band together. Methods called "crypto-anarchism" and "electronic money" can be used to hide transactions.

So specifically, what's the threshhold? So all agorists would wait hundreds of years in hope that other people would start it. I don't think that getting even 1% of the population to become agorists is possible unless there is some example.

Joey said...

I've posted my response to this, which may be my final word on the topic for a while. Thanks as always for the lively discussion!

http://thefreedomsymposium.blogspot.com/2008/07/to-kent-fsk-david-my-final-thoughts-on.html

This Blog Has Moved!

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