Interview questions asked by Wayne Sturgeon, February 3rd, 2015 Responses by Joe Kopsick, April 4th to 9th, and mid-September to September 21st, 2015
The Road to Panarchy: An Interview with Joe Kopsick Sovereignty Without Territory
Government Without Monopoly Emigration Without Movement
Please could you introduce yourself and how you came to promote and understand Panarchism?
I was born in 1987 in Lake Forest, Illinois to an attorney and a homemaker. I grew up in Lake
Bluff, Illinois, attended Lake Forest High School, and from 2005 to 2009 I attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science. After moving around for a few years, I settled on Portland, Oregon for a year and a half, in February 2015 I moved back to Lake Bluff, and in September 2015 I moved to Orlando, Florida.
While in college, my areas of study included American government, Israeli government, classical and radical political theory cartography, and shamanism. My hobbies include playing guitar and piano; recording music and making mash-ups; writing songs, poetry, and rap; and visual art (including graphic design, acrylic painting, and glass and Lego mosaics).
A Democrat until the age of 13, I became interested in Ralph Nader and the Green Party during the 2000 presidential race. It was at this time that I became very interested in political statistics, the electoral college, and various political issues; and during that election I constructed my first political ideological survey. I supported John Kerry in 2004 but remained a Green at heart. In 2007, while still in college, I watched the presidential debates and discovered Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Ron Paul.
Following Ron Paul’s suggestions, I studied the work of Lysander Spooner, expanded my research into libertarianism and constitutional law, both at college and in my spare time. In 2010 I settled on Agorism, studying the works of Agorists Samuel E. Konkin, J. Neil Schulman, and Wally Conger, and other free-market theorists such as C. Frederic Bastiat, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Robert P. Murphy.
Having studied some Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Gustave de Molinari, and Max Stirner in a radical political theory class in college, my attraction to Panarchism (and Polyarchism) developed out of a desire to reconcile free markets with fair markets, find a truly voluntary socialism or communism, and reconcile non-territorial expressions of market-based political theories (namely, Agorism and voluntaryism) with non-territorial expressions of Marxism (namely, the National Personal Sovereignty of Austromarxist Otto Bauer) and non-Statist expressions of collectivism (such as consensus-based and unanimous democracy).
But this was as far as I could get by myself. The work of John Zube and Will Schnack have been very helpful. I don’t know where I would be without John Zube’s astute cataloguing of anarchist thought and his consistent voluntaryist approach to political and social problems. Neither would I – not a student of economics, mind you – know where I would be, without Texas anarchist Will Schnack’s application of economics to anarchist theory, most notably in his formulation of “Geo-Mutualist
Panarchism”, which is a union of the theories of geoist Henry George, mutualist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and panarchist Paul Emile de Puydt. I believe that Will Schnack’s ideas are a “great leap forward” for anarchist political and economic thought, as they make possible the application of real mathematics and science to what is otherwise a disorganized, biased, and maligned stream of thought; that of anarchist and radical political theory.
Could you please define Panarchism?
Panarchism refers to a state of being in which all people are leaders, or at least potentially so.
Panarchism does not mean that all people are leaders, nor does it mean that everyone must follow some leader (even one they choose), nor does it mean that rules or rulers are supreme or sovereign.
In a Panarchist society, each person would be free to follow the path which their own free will and desires have laid down as the course for the rest of their life, provided of course that their attempts to achieve their wishes do not infringe on the life, liberty, and personal (i.e., bodily) autonomy of others.
Panarchism is not exactly a system – especially not a specific nor defined political one – but rather it provides a framework for a voluntary yet mutual association; a free-floating, spontaneous, tentative yet tenuous, basis for society and association. Panarchism lets people make their own rules; puts checks and balances in place to ensure that people make good on their promises, follow their own rules, and do not become hypocrites; puts individuals on equal footing with other individuals and voluntary communities for the sake of making contracts and arranging credit; and ensures that there is judicial recourse for those who believed themselves to have entered into voluntary, mutually-beneficial transactions and agreements, but were defrauded or did not receive compensation or rewards which they found sufficiently equitable and reciprocal.
Most importantly, Panarchism avoids the problem of “rulers who must be obeyed” and “rules which must be obeyed”, by ensuring that the Non-Dictatorship condition of voting theory is obeyed, lest one person be unhindered to dictate the will of all, and dictate the allocation and distribution of all possessions and property. And no man on Earth can or should have the power to do that.
Although it may seem that the definitions of anarchism and panarchism are at odds with one another – panarchism being the “rule by all” and anarchism being the absence of rule – they are compatible in their desire to abolish rulership, at least in the sense of dictatorship, whether by the one or by the few.
Panarchism and anarchism are one and the same when we profess that what we desire is that “everyone rules, yet no one rules”. No one person rules, yet everyone is his own ruler (or at least can be if he chooses), and everyone who wants to help make the rules can do so, provided that people submit to those rules voluntarily, except in cases in which not submitting to those rules violates someone’s liberty. As Mikhail Bakunin said, “Where all govern, no one is governed, and the State as such does not exist.”
As an aside, polyarchism means that many people would rule. Societies in which not all people choose to protect and defend themselves, and/or in which not all people choose to participate in the rule or organization of the companies and associations with which they interact – and also so-called panarchism which excludes self-described anarchist schools which they believe are not truly anarchist
– would qualify as polyarchist societies, not primarily panarchist ones, although they may describe themselves as panarchist, or pursue panarchism as an ideal.
In my opinion, the Non-Aggression Principle (or Axiom), Max Stirner’s concept of “A Union of Egoists”, and the American constitutional principle “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, help enlighten the path to Panarchy. To those finding fault with the Non-Aggression Principle, I admit that I have found fault with it myself, most notably in the arena of precisely what, if anything, constitutes legitimate property and possessions (although in some cases, and for some schools, this problem is merely a question of semantic distinctions).
To anyone finding oneself questioning the N.A.P., I would suggest exploring four things: 1) Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s distinctions between possessions and property, 2) the legal concept of Attractive Nuisance, 3) the “principle of fair regard” (especially as explained by Texas anarchist Will Schnack), and 4) the Eastern religious concept of Ahimsa.
On the matter of Attractive Nuisance, I plan to expand on the ideas of Linda and Morris Tannehill, to explain that the possession or proprietorship of vast amounts of property, poses a danger to both propertyless neighbors and those who would seek to re-appropriate or redistribute this property.
As a supporter of the Natural Law (as opposed to legal positivism), I believe that in order to diminish the apparent need of government (and of justice, which Plato asked whether it is a necessary or unnecessary evil), we must exercise personal responsibility and self-control, such that we become our own masters.
As James Madison explained, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” I believe we need to form a new society in which people are able to exercise the freedom of religion in the private, personal, and social spheres (although not necessarily in the public sphere), a society based on trust and faith in one another, and a society that eschews hypocrisy.
I believe in theosis – that deity, or divinity, or godliness, are virtues which we can and should pursue – as a religious and moral, but also political, goal. This is because – to elaborate on the ramifications of what Madison said – were men to become fully divine, such that they find themselves governed by their own angels, then no government would be necessary.
We must never pretend that our vote or the popularity of our opinions, gives us authority to overthrow the laws of “Nature and Nature’s God” – those of man’s inalienable liberty, autonomy, and property – for “the common good”, unless unanimity of decision-making is achieved, and/or individuals volunteer to act and willingly surrender their legitimately acquired property. Only in this respect do I believe that individuality and egalitarianism can be maximized and achieved in concert with one another.
How do you think a Panarchistic world would come about?
There are several ways in which a Panarchistic world would come about. Above all, they
involve respecting (legitimately acquired) property and possessions, and resorting to physical conflict only after all attempts to pursue friendly and amicable difference, debate, and argument have been exhausted.
Among the more concretely political solutions to transitioning from Statism to Panarchy, we have (1) resettlement of borders and dealing with tax havens; (2 & 3) easing and radically reforming the way we think about and deal with emigration, immigration, and citizenship; (4) perfecting market systems and providing for fairness within them; and (5) fixing the courts.
- Taxation, Borders, and Environment
In my article “The United States in a Transition to Panarchy”, I explain in easily conceivable terms how America could become panarchist. One path uses localism and subsidiarity to advantage; that a state could begin to offer governmental services to people living just over the border in neighboring states. As a state becomes increasingly able to offer services to people living farther and farther away, more people become free to apply for citizenship in that distant state or municipality.
Take the “problem” of tax havens for example. While living in Portland, Oregon, I discovered that the State of Oregon has high individual income taxes but no sales taxes whatsoever. Across the river in Vancouver, citizens of Washington State pay high sales taxes but almost no individual income taxes.
This arrangement provides that a person dwelling in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area may avoid a hefty tax burden by working in Vancouver (thus avoiding income taxes) and doing all of their shopping in Portland (thus avoiding sales taxes). But a person who works in Portland and spends their money at shops in Vancouver will soon find himself poor and overtaxed.
However, scarcely will a busy, hard-working twenty-something have the time to even take note of what kind of taxes are being levied in this state or that, nor how to plan and save in order to maximize their earnings and minimize their tax losses, nor even to bother voting in elections besides the contentious and well-publicized national ones (i.e., local and state elections).
Perhaps if major metropolitan areas could be consolidated into one political jurisdiction – and/or if political borders (if they need to exist at all) could be arranged on mountains and hillsides rather than cutting rivers and other water features in twain – then some kind of economic negotiation and mediation could be had, and tax havens and tax avoidance would become things of the past.
Bioregionalism and the burgeoning Cascadia movement in the Northwest United States would provide for precisely such an arrangement, with watersheds becoming the primary political jurisdiction. Of course, this would not end Statism as we know it; it would merely re-settle borders. But it would undoubtedly improve the way we look at and look after the environment, and allow man’s legal systems to harmonize with the order of nature as we found it.
- Emigration With Movement
Another path to Panarchism is perhaps best illustrated in an episode of the Canadian comedy show “Trailer Park Boys”. The character Ricky and his friends devise a plan to traffic drugs back and forth from Canada to America by rigging up a system of electric toy trains, which travel on a train track that goes through plastic pipes, under a river separating the two countries.
When Ricky’s plan is foiled, he finds himself in the middle of the river, with American police on one side, and Mounties on the other. Ricky says “So I get to choose who busts me?”, each nation’s police force makes him an offer, and Ricky swims to the shore of the country threatening to impose the less harsh penalty.
We can only let our imaginations run wild given the implications of the very existence of Ricky’s choice in such a dire situation. However, this arrangement does not do away with our inevitable punishment by some legal system we found ourselves surrounded by through pure accident of birth; it would merely afford us some (perhaps illusory) choice. For the most part, choosing which country oppresses us provides us no better set of conditions than we have now, choosing which political party oppresses us.
- Emigration Without Movement
Yet another path to Panarchism is to follow the example of the nation of Estonia, which in October 2014 devised a system of “e-citizenship” and “e-residency” which allow people living in any part of the world to become citizens of Estonia for financial, business, and banking purposes (although
not for tax purposes).
In my opinion, this is the best and only real-world, modern-day example of a “panarchist nation-state”, if such a thing is not a contradiction in terms. I would contrast the bourgeois Westphalian nation-state with proletarian “states” (or “socialist nations”), best conceived of not as countries, but rather as “states-of-being” or “natural states” based on voluntary association and consociation.
Another path to Panarchism involves the utilization of markets, for the purposes of completing the interconnectedness of market systems (and, therefore, the free movement of goods and services, and of capital and labor). This would provide for a free, sufficiently fair, mutual framework for buying and selling (and gift, trade, barter, share), and of perfecting competition, such that anyone is free to potentially become a buyer or seller of anything, including of goods and services which normally fall under the purview of distribution by national and local sovereign governments.
The freeing of markets, in this manner, would provide for neither total freedom nor equality of outcome, but for a sort of hybrid of the two; equality of opportunity. Anyone and everyone would have at least the potential to challenge the monopoly or near-monopoly held by the biggest or most successful seller, and the monopsony of the most successful buyer (which, in times of high taxation, is, inevitably, the government), and as a consequence, the people would not be plagued with high prices which arise sheerly due to their extraordinary need of the goods that their government purchases on their behalf.
This is to say that a fair and free market system would entail the rejection of dictatorship (political, economic, and social), as well as the rejection of disproportionately weighted electoral systems like the American Electoral College, or – failing that – the rejection of representative government itself.
The final path to Panarchism which I will mention has nothing to do with subsidiarity and localism, nor with borders and geography, although it does have something to do with improving the openness and interconnectedness of market systems.
What people need to do in order for Panarchism to come about, is to stop calling the police with their problems (that is, as much as is reasonably possible given the circumstances), and to stop suing people and companies in American governmental courts.
Instead, the people should appeal their disputes to be settled by their trusted mutual friends, or by neutral, non-governmental parties with no vested interest in the outcome of the disputes. This stands in contrast to the current situation, in which every lawsuit potentially has vast, far-reaching, politicizable implications (this is the outcome of an unlimited government rather than a limited one).
This proposal comes with a consequence in the marketplace: that almost anybody may become a decision-maker, and hold sway over the outcome of civil suits that civilians pursue against one another. Naturally, the free and mutual choice, and availability (i.e., supply) of these decision-making entities would follow the demand for them. Before this set of conditions can come to be, the people must demand this sort of government, and insist that the current system – wherein judges are honored practically as royalty, their back-room cronies the prosecutors are employees of the state, and public defenders are licensed and unionized under state-controlled auspices and protocols – is insufficiently deferent to individual choice regarding legal self-defense.
While a Panarchist or anarchist political framework will most likely not involve any sort of highly ordered representative government, there would still be lawsuits and courts; and so, a Panarchist society would still need a mechanism for the resolution of disputes arising between individuals and other individuals, as well as with companies and voluntary associations.
Agorists believe that the division of labor is beneficial because it allows for specialization and
expertise to be refined in each particular field of labor. This is why Agorists and other proponents of markets recommend that government services undergo further division; for example, Agorists would like to see the police fractured into several divisions.
As Samuel E. Konkin explains, in an Agorist society, dispute resolution and arbitration, criminal apprehension, investigation, retribution/restitution, punishment (if any be necessary), and rehabilitation, would all be performed by different agencies, all of which are required to compete in the marketplace to stay afloat financially, without relying on bailouts authorized by government force to extract taxes from the people.
Of course, one can scarcely mention transitioning the provision, distribution, and allocation of goods and services typically performed by government, into the market, without mentioning the dreaded terms outsourcing, privatization, the for-profit model, and selling to the lowest bidder.
However, I have said nothing about requiring that jobs go overseas, nor about requiring for- profit business models, nor about public investment in companies, nor about bidding wars. All I have recommended is that government bureaucracies undergo a division of labor, and that anything which can be handled by non-governmental firms, should be.
Services which the government has shown itself to be incompetent or irresponsible at handling, should not be performed by the government, but by someone else; that much is a given. Whether that “someone else” is a company, or a church, or a charity organization, or your friend or neighbor or family member down the street, is a decision which is to be made by and amongst free-willed individuals voluntarily associating according to their commonly held beliefs and principles and cultures.
Inasmuch as what are now government services should be performed by companies, they may as well be termed “private” companies, but only in the sense that their affairs are kept “private” from invasive armies and parasitic bureaucracies claiming sovereignty and pyramidal authority over a firm structure of command. Not all anarchist schools place a stigma on the word “private”; if pushed, left- libertarians will often condemn private ownership of the means of production and a capitalist system of distribution, favoring instead a more personal definition of private property that includes all forms of possession, ownership, use, and access, that does not operate under systems of legitimacy as defined by the State.
In my opinion, such “companies” should be little more than companies of trusted friends and family who share common interests. If and whenever possible, companies (or firms) should not be run on the principle of extracting the greatest possible profit, but on the principle of (as former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson says) “aligning people with profits”. We must not assume that all uses of the word “private” connote operation for-profit. Nothing would nor should prohibit Dispute-Resolution Organizations (DROs) from operating on volunteer, non-profit, not-for-profit, or reward-on-contingency bases.
This is to say that they should be run on mutual, cooperative, and non-profit models, with the potential to gift-trade-barter-share (and access, use/utility, and rent) as available, free, and legal as possible. The desire to reap a modest and reasonable profit should always supercede the desire to reap surplus profit and impose price controls in a strategic and pernicious manner.
To illustrate, assume that you had a dispute with your neighbor over some stolen property. In an Agorist system that leans heavily towards the Mutualist models for economy and firms, you would hire a lawyer or arbitrator that you trust, and your neighbor would do the same. Your lawyers would work in firms that ensure that their employees are treated fairly and equitably, and that the firm earns modest profits rather than excessive ones.
There is already a framework for such a legal structure in the international court system today, but the panarchists’ goal is for a similar structure to become applicable to the level of interpersonal conflicts rather than cases in which nation-states are at suit.
There would be no sovereign state government appointing your lawyer; nor any government to
construct secretive induction processes for judges that increases the likelihood of collusion and corruption between judges, prosecutors, and court-appointed public defenders; nor any government to hand down to the jury some thirty pages of instructions as to how they should make their decision.
In order to resolve the dispute and appeal the decision, you and your neighbor (or your lawyers, if you so choose) would choose a judge or “final arbiter” whom they both trust (and who has no vested interest in the outcome) to make the decision regarding the stolen property. If both the litigant (i.e., plaintiff) and the defense (which might also be a counter-litigant or counter-claimant) do not decide that some stage of the appeals process is to be the final stage, then the appeals process remains potentially infinite.
In my opinion, this system would help ensure that most of the power remains primarily in the hands of the people, and secondarily in the hands of the courts or Dispute-Resolution Agencies, rather than in the hands of politicians, who serve little function other than to pass laws which limit the set of contracts which can be made between – and administered and enforced among – free people.
To re-state, there are many paths to Panarchism.
We can 1) increase the localization of government, allow governments to provide services over their jurisdictional borders, and resettle currently existing nation-state borders in manners which make more sense according to natural environmental and geographical limitations; 2) provide for a more permissive and liberating set of policies on immigration, emigration, and citizenship; 3) allow people to apply for residency overseas without relocating; 4) work to complete and perfect market systems; and
5) encourage and enable people to resolve their disputes without resorting to settlement in government (read: Westphalian bourgeois nation-state) courts.
Better yet, we can do our best to work on all five solutions at once, in realms ripe for political experimentation afforded to us, such as sea-steading, experimentation with voluntarily pooling and sharing personal and private property in areas devoid of government and/or public oversight, and the ongoing Liberland experiment (in which settlers claimed a small, oft-disputed border territory in Eastern Europe, and are allowing anyone to move in, provided they have no past Communist or Nazi party affiliations).
You have attempted to merge both Geoist and Mutualist paradigms with Panarchism- but how
would one promote a Geoist or Georgist “land tax” on other communities who may not want it in a panarchic world order?
Geo-mutualism cannot be implemented overnight; rather, it is to be achieved, gradually and
methodically, as (meaning “while”, and in the sense of “in the process during which”) all grievances are resolved, by a series of mutually chosen and independent neutral arbiters.
In my opinion, we cannot and should not set out to create some program or “five-year plan” that dictates that grievances must be redressed in a chronological or supposedly morally-correct order. To say that some large-scale historical wrong must be righted, and the people given their due reparations for it, before Mr. Johnson and Miss Smith resolve their dispute over where between their properties to place their fence, is to commit to continuing planning in the midst of an uncertain future; planning which is usually expensive in terms of both money and liberty.
To get straight to the point, people who are not geo-mutualists would have to be convinced through rhetoric, and persuasive discourse and argumentation. We should not accept any system calling
itself “geo-mutualist” being imposed upon us, because, as Hannah Arendt says, “the use of violence is pre-political”. This is to say that no solutions which involve the initiation of force can truly be said to be civil (or civilized, or “political”). Support for geo-mutualism must first occur on an interpersonal level through peaceful discussion and convincing, and only after the members of a community become unanimously and fully supportive of this system, may it spread to other communities for implementation.
Most importantly, for geo-mutualism to be achieved, most anarchists will need to open their minds regarding what kinds of behavior constitute aggression and fraud. For this to occur, self- described anarchists of the right must become ready to admit that neglect and abuse of the environment is tantamount to aggression against people who have to live in that environment, and anarchists of the left must become ready to admit that most taxes only serve to discourage production, which makes it difficult for productive people to thrive.
I believe that voluntaryists and the like will find geo-mutualism to jibe well with the principle that taxes should be reduced if not eliminated altogether, while socialists and Marxists will find geo- mutualism to be sufficiently at odds with capitalist ideas such that unsustainable concentrations of wealth and property, and pernicious and predatory takings of surplus value, could be punished and righted without even resorting to Marxist arguments.
I believe that geo-mutualism will and should become a balancing force within the rubric of Anarchy Without Adjectives, allowing for mutually beneficial trade within markets, but guarding against the impoverishing effects of monopoly power and the restriction of the free flow of capital and labor.
I also believe that geoanarchism and mutualist anarchism are the least biased in terms of economic – and “left-vs.-right” or “communist-vs.-capitalist” – swayings within anarchist and radical political thought, and so I believe that Geo-Mutualism has the potential to become and remain the least alienating and divisive school of anarchist thought. That is why it is instrumental to promote the ideas of Henry George and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon among anarchists.
An important first step towards experimenting with Georgism involves a transition out of the current tax structure. As I understand Georgism, it would abolish taxes on transactions and earnings which do not result from the taking of surplus profit, so only those who pollute, abuse and neglect land, hoard property and space, and/or reap excess and pernicious rewards, would suffer in such a regime.
That said, a transition to Georgism would involve the transformation of property taxes as we know them, from a system based on taxing away property values (i.e., the rewards of well-maintained and productive landed property ownership), to a system wherein only property destruction is penalized, and “taxes” levied against those who make property unlivable and unproductive.
While property taxes would be reformed, other taxes – namely, income taxes and sales taxes – would have to be abolished; at least, insofar as they are involuntary. The Democratic Party would have to be weaned from its reliance on taxing our productive income (through personal income taxes and employee taxes, which have the effect of discouraging workplace productivity and the earning of money), and the Republican Party would need to be weaned from its reliance on the taxation of sales (which discourages sale, trade, and transactions). Additionally, of course, artificial monetary inflation would also have to be curbed and eliminated, because inflation discourages and diminishes savings.
A community built on the principles of mutuality, reciprocity, freedom, and brotherhood should desire that all “taxes” be paid-for through voluntary giving. Failing that (which is practically a certainty, especially in early stages of transition), implementing a unanimous or nearly-unanimous decision-making process could supplant and suffice for such voluntary giving.
Nothing about Georgism should prohibit the collection of government revenues through voluntary and unanimous enactment of sales and/or income taxes, although this situation would be
undesirable and would not be advised by Georgists, given that earning money and selling goods and services are productive activities.
If a community is considering a slow and gradual transition to a Georgist model, it should experiment with the abolition of income taxes, not by abolishing income taxes of all sorts, but by merely abolishing individual income taxes, but leaving in place corporate income taxes, and, if necessary, leaving in place individual income taxes over a certain (and preferably very high) income threshold, say in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year (assuming the dollar survives).
Communities (or the same community) wishing to experiment with the abolition of sales taxes would do well to abolish general sales taxes (i.e., duties, imposts, excises; taxes on every day items, the burden of which fall on the poor) but replace them with luxury taxes, such that only the very wealthy who can afford to buy things like homes, yachts, helicopters, stadiums, etc., shoulder the burden of the remaining sales taxes.
Once individual income taxes and general sales taxes have been eliminated (or drastically reduced) and replaced by taxes that allow the burden to fall on those people spending and earning obscene amounts of money, the last step towards Georgism (“tax land, not man” is to reform the system of taxes on land and property.
Communities wishing to take this step should know that most current land and property taxes actually tend to penalize the possession of landed property based on the value of the property, rather than the lost value of allowing the land and buildings upon it to fall into disrepair.
Such abuse and misuse affects the surrounding community adversely by damaging property values (although we could scarcely say that there is even such a thing as “private landed property” left in America at this point, as practically no land in the country can be truly said to be owned outright by its possessor, given the ubiquity of rent and property taxes).
I do not claim to be an expert on either Georgism or its economics, so I will defer to my Georgist and Geo-Mutualist colleagues on the matter of how to encourage communities to experiment with geoism.
As one last note, I feel that I should offer a brief description of how Geoism and Mutualism would come together under Panarchism to provide a buffer between more boldly leftist and rightist economic formulations of anarchist thought. As Will Schnack explains his “Geo-Mutualist Panarchism”, any form of a central government would operate as a firm combining three functions; the first political, the second economic or financial, the third pertaining to the distribution of land and space.
- the Panarchist aspect, derived from the work of Paul Emile de Puydt, providing a framework for individuals and communities to declare their political affiliation (a “civil registry” or “Bureau of Political Membership”),
- the Mutualist aspect, derived from the work of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and others, providing a fair and balanced forum for taxation, investment, and finance, and ensuring equal shares of labor to go to laborers and their authorized managers and representatives, and ensuring investment only in firms with sufficiently humane treatment of, and fair regard for, the labor-force, and
- the Geoist aspect, derived from the work of Henry George, providing for communally- conditioned access to – and possession and use of – land, water, minerals, and other natural resources. Examples of firms fostering forums for such access include community land trusts and community water
I would recommend that anyone interested in finding out more details about Geo-Mutualist Panarchism and geo-mutualist economics, read Will Schnack’s blog, entitled “The Evolution of Consent”.
What modern technologies and cultural paradigms do you feel are opening up opportunities for
panarchistic trends to emerge?
One thing is for certain: you know that when they’re talking positively on Fox’s “The Five”
about the prospect of prostitutes unionizing, the liberty movement has made some headway. But leaving aside the increasing social permissiveness of drugs and prostitution, the internet is probably the most important relatively new technology when it comes to freeing people, minds, and markets.
The expansion of e-commerce (trade over the internet) is important for increasing the freedom and interconnectedness of the markets; however, the freedom of e-commerce is threatened by internet sales taxes. Additionally, protecting the freedom of peer-to-peer file-sharing is an important battle in the people’s war against out-of-control intellectual property laws, which unfairly penalizes the sharing of personal property, and which all to often rewards the use of scientific laws rather than the creation of unique and original innovations.
But I must admit my bias; as I do have a pony in this cock-fight. Being that not every community library has, readily available, copies of radical and anarchist political and economic texts, easily catalogued and ready to be cited in endnotes and bibliographies, my own writing would be impossible without free access to – and sharing of – such writing. Just the same, my music mash-ups would be much more difficult without file-sharing and the concept of fair use.
I dare suggest that new ideas would be impossible to formulate and share without the freedom to use and blend helpful ideas originating in past works; I shudder to think of what anarchism might be if Proudhon and the like had attempted to copyright their ideas, or make them their own to such an extent that those who borrow their ideas in order to improve upon them, were unable to do so because of intellectual property laws, or if their discoveries had been appropriated, licensed, and co-opted by the governments under which they lived.
Aside from the black market and the internet, 3-D printers hold a key to the future, with respect to increasing innovation in the medical and architectural fields, and they carry with them the potential to reduce the need for heavy labor in architecture, as well as the need for large-scale cooperation in production.
Also, the Free Detroit Project holds a key to the property and personal protection paradigms of the future, by increasing the freedom to choose which person or company defends and protects people and their justly acquired property.
Additionally, Bitcoin and other electronic currencies; local currencies; and innovative systems of credit, rewards, and savings; hold the potential to augment the financial power of consumers and investors, diminishing the impoverishing effects of price-fixing, and of the devaluing of savings and earnings through monetary inflation.
I hope that anarchists – and those who still have some hope in Occupy – will take heed of my call to revive the International Brotherhood Welfare Association of the early 20th century, so that the homeless and traveling population can get educated and trained to operate machinery, work in unionized shops, and learn how to start unions.
But technology aside altogether, most of all, the cultural trend that has to emerge in order for Panarchism to be successful, is peace. Peaceful interdependence and respect; respect for other human beings’ free will, respect for their reasonable requests for the conditions that make independence and self-reliance possible, and respect for their justly-acquired personal property.
Additionally – although I am hesitant to employ the cliché – trust in the kindness of strangers. I do not wish to see the age-old practice of trial by jury abolished, but rather made commonplace. It is only through the trust of strangers – insofar as they can be presumed to be uninterested and neutral – that we can keep the right to trial by a jury of one’s peers, and aid in removing the bias from the manner in which this custom is currently practiced, so that civil suits may be settled out-of-court, without seeming to necessitate the often biased and contentious selection of jurors for the resolution of disputes.
Also, I would note that Mark Hilgenberg of Utah is an excellent resource on emerging technologies that are likely to have positive impacts on human freedom.
Lastly, a cultural paradigm which must emerge in order to potentiate the flourishing and thriving of panarchism, is the acceptance of discord, and the embrace of what Discordians call “the Erisian principle”; that of apparent disorder.
Students of classical liberal and libertarian thought should place more value on the principle behind the idea that – as Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson said – “the Constitution is not a suicide pact”, than on the idea that – as Benjamin Franklin said – “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately”. This is to say that if and when unanimity is impossible, we should find solutions in differénce rather than in majority rule.
In other words, for a panarchist society to emerge, mankind must embrace the idea of “live and let live”, but also “live and let die”. Personal responsibility is only possible when people who make bad decisions are unfettered from ties to those who had no role in making those decisions. Those who engage in personal or financial self-harm ought not be automatically bailed-out at the expense of those who thought those decisions unwise, or else had no opinion on the wisdom of such decisions. One bad apple only spoils the bunch if it is kept in the barrel.
This is to say that a panarchist society would be a culturally pluralistic one, rather than a necessarily multicultural one, and especially not an assimilationist one. All too often, multiculturalists lump pluralists in with assimilationists, believing that pluralists’ rejection of multiculturalism always stems from a desire to homogenize society and its relations, and to retain political and economic power for the traditional dominators.
On the contrary, pluralism is motivated by a desire to reject assimilation (at least, insofar as it is involuntary), but also to reject imposed multiculturalism and multiculturalism by force (an example of which would be compulsory civic, ethnic, racial, and/or religious integration in what would otherwise be private social and economic settings).
Pluralists embrace liberty as the freedom of – and from – association. Pluralists desire and encourage multiculturalism, and mixing of people with diverse and differing viewpoints and customs, but only to the extent that it is voluntary.
Likewise, if people of the same views and traditions want to structure their own society in accordance with their own principles, in order to strengthen and increase the integrity and consistency of their tradition, that too is permissible, so long as they do not conscript, kidnap, and indoctrinate people into accepting their views and traditions, nor secure for themselves such a large “share” of the world’s space and property, that the impoverished others have little choice but to profess that they hold to the transitions of the dominating culture or cultures.
To put this in a more allegorical manner of speaking, it may help to use music as an illustrating device. As students of classical Greek political thought might be aware, Plato’s “The Republic” has twelve chapters, each chapter standing for a different note in the chromatic scale (containing twelve half-steps), from the root note to its corresponding Major-Seventh note. The white keys (or chapters) represent harmony, and the black keys represent discord.
Imagine multiculturalist and collectivist streams of thought as the pleasant-sounding, harmonizing white keys of the piano, while pluralist and separatist ideologies constitute the discordant
black keys. The melodies given to us by the white notes may be pleasant and free-flowing, and a sense of resolution may seem easily achievable in these keys.
But without the black notes to provide us a contrast with, and context for, the pleasant white notes, we would be unable to feel and appreciate the sense of uneasy, yet vigilant, yet periodically reassuring, open-endedness of the freedom we hear in Arnold Schoenberg’s use of musical resolution that toys with the very idea of resolution itself.
Nor would we be able to appreciate Freddie Mercury’s frequent use of the F# key, which is 180 degrees removed from the traditional setting of songs in the key of C, nor the frequent key-shifts in “Mack the Knife”, popularized by Bobby Darin. Nor could we appreciate the jarring exasperation we feel upon hearing Connie Talbot’s “Inner Beauty”.
This is to say that to commit to tradition, agreement, order, and harmony, makes it impossible to cope with new and changing political and social arrangements; impossible to solo and improvise when a revolution causes the tune of society to be played in a new and non-traditional key; impossible to consider that there is an interplay between harmony and discord, wherein discord comes to harmonize with harmony itself.
Could Polycentric Law work alongside religious fundamentalist law codes like Shariah? What if
clerical fascistic groups emerge who attempt to impose hegemonic laws on other “states” within a panarchy?
First off – and this is not to nit-pick our choice of words – the primary political unit of a
Panarchist society would be the political community, not the state; especially not the nation-state as we now know it.
The community would not necessarily be a geographical, territorially-bound one, unless the entire anarchist community (in addition to the Cascadia Movement) comes to embrace bioregionalism. Communities would be organized locally, and on the basis of already-existing common principles, traditions, and values.
Hegemony cannot coexist with panarchy, unless unanimity on every issue exists across all spectrums. Short of that, religious fundamentalism, clerical fascism, and domination by the majority culture, are all threats to peaceful coexistence, harmony, and discord between different schools and traditions. Communities must not take it for granted that communities and families have some right or duty to force individuals to adopt some supposedly already-common religion, values-system, culture, or tradition. Suffer the people come unto the ideologies.
Moreover, it is the duty of any person with free will to resist his family’s and community’s attempts to force alien and alienating values upon them, with force if necessary (but only when all peaceful conflict avoidance mechanisms such as argumentation, debate, and even voting, have been exhausted and have failed).
To answer the original question, yes, polycentric law could work alongside fundamentalist political and religious law codes, as long as any “central government” is truly limited, and its constitution consistently and frequently subject to revision by a congress of communities.
Will Schnack proposed “henocentric law”, which he describes as a “participatory and consensual system” which is a combination of monocentric and polycentric law. As I understand it, henocentric law is a system in which a central government is permitted to exist by (and at the mercy of) the communities, but only under the condition that it set equitable and justifiable rules for the
communities to co-exist fairly in a state of equal opportunity, providing only a political and economic framework, rather than constituting a mechanism by which some set of laws or practices may be enforced upon the communities that created it, and by right ought to control it.
I will also note that the option of exile must always remain a viable alternative to submission to the law. I do not support the death penalty; exile and the risks of starvation, poverty, and death which accompany it, are sufficient threats to deter any crime. Killing in self-defense and negligent homicide are inevitable in practically all just and free societies. But premeditated murder is, in most cases, a different story.
You have applied your panarchistic paradigm consistently in allowing for “National Anarchist”
communities to emerge (who tend to promote non-violent non-hegemonic racial separatism) despite the back lash and misplaced “fash-bashing” one sometimes experiences from the authoritarian left.
You have further developed a Social Networking group for people who have personally suffered from being mistakenly called “fascists”.
Please could you explain how this came about, as I understand that libertarians and panarchists sometimes receive the same treatment from organized leftists?
I created and administer the Facebook group “Victims of Misdirected Fash-Bashing (Now
That’s What I Call Racism!)”, which has over 100 members. The description of the group includes “a group for anti-fascists who tend to get mistaken for their fascist enemies … [and] for people interested in reading stories on racism in the media and popular culture.” The tags for the group are “politics”, “anti-racism”, and “anti-fascism”.
The group came about in response to my discussions with mutualist Derek Wittorff and far-left anarchists and communists. In my support of panarchism and cultural pluralism, and my toleration of voluntary racial separatism, I have had to field accusations that panarchists are too tolerant of fascism and racism to the point of accepting forced – and/ or state-sponsored – racial separatism and racial segregation.
The group only jokingly exists for the purpose of counseling accused fascists; I have never had anyone come to the group and tell me that they were worried that they were fascist or racist. The group is for people who know that they are not so, but who are dissatisfied with what conservatives like to call “the authoritarian left”; i.e., liberals and Democrats who posture as true socialists or true leftists, but have a disdain for property, markets, and civil liberties.
In the past I have been a progressive Democrat, a Green Party supporter, and even a libertarian socialist. Although I support many libertarian and free-market ideas, at the moment I am more mutualist than anything else. I support “freeing markets” in that to do so means to make it easier for ordinary people and small firms to engage in trade and begin to offer goods and services typically provided through government and public-sector avenues.
There is little that frustrates me more than seeing supposed “liberals” and “progressives” pretend to champion social justice and financial reform, while doing little to nothing to make it easier for unions to be independent or to engage in strikes without bureaucratic permission. Former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is just one example, others of which include any politician who is unwilling to take an honest look at our rapidly-aging federal labor legislation, which organized labor wrongly assumes to work in its favor.
I started Victims of Misdirected Fash-Bashing to create a safe space for off-color humor to be enjoyed – as well as serious civil rights issues to be discussed – amongst “1) panarchists who object to
being pejoratively described as tribalists; 2) market-anarchists and agorists who object to being pejoratively described as corporatists, and privatizationists; and 3) national-anarchists who object to being pejoratively described as fascists, racists, corporatists, and protectionists.”
In my discussions with mutualist Derek Wittorff, I discovered that some leftists regard panarchists as “tribalists”, incorrectly believing that all panarchists hate modern technology and civilization, and want to return to a primitive state of civilization and of being. While this may be true of some anarcho-primitivists, it would be incorrect to assume that everyone who believes that people should associate with others and form communities based on cultural, political, economic, and other values they already share, would like to retreat into the woods, build a shed, become hermits, build bombs, and mail them to college professors. To me this seems like a knee-jerk response to fear- mongering by the establishment liberal media (I use “liberal” in the broadest sense possible, this is explained in the next paragraph), which in my opinion, all too often, function as little more than a mouthpiece for the Department of State.
In my discussion with many of those on the far-left, such as communist Matt Denzin, I have discovered that many socialists categorize fascists, corporatists, oligarchs, and fat-cat banksters, as “capitalists”, a category which in their minds overlaps with those advocating “liberal”, “free-market”, and “laissez-faire” policies and reforms. But some of those on the “right” can be blamed equally for lumping libertarian socialists and Stalinists, for example, into a single category of “socialism”; and this too is not accurate. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I have been guilty of doing just that in the past.
My point is that any attempt to lump all political and economic theories into a left-right dichotomy of “socialism vs. capitalism” or “communism vs. capitalism” tends to neglect the distinction between the authoritarian/war-hawk and libertarian/peace-loving divisions that characterize the distinctions between the meek and mild forms of capitalism and socialism/communism.
Although I have not found any convincing evidence that communism and markets cannot exist side-by-side or in cooperation with one another; the dichotomous distinction between Agorism (an all- market system) and Anagorism (a market-free, distributory-planning system) still exists; perhaps best personified by the conflict between Noam Chomsky and the brick wall that he creates between his secret admiration of Adam Smith, and his progressive and libertarian-socialist audience.
Naturally, national-anarchism is the most difficult political position to attempt to describe as “not racist” or “not fascist”. Most, if not all, on the left, regard national-anarchists as overtly fascist, and even as Nazis or national socialists in disguise as anarchists, anarchism being something which leftists typically view as a label exclusively reserved for libertarian socialists and anarcho-communists. There is little more that infuriates them – in the world of political labeling – than the phrase “anarcho- capitalism”, which they strongly feel is an oxymoron and a contradiction in terms.
But anarcho-capitalism aside, I will state that I am prepared to support and defend national- anarchists – and welcome them into the panarchist and Anarchy Without Adjectives spectrum – to the extent that they oppose all attempts by nation-states, and especially through the use of violence, to enforce any unwanted racial separatism or segregation, and to the extent that they are willing to stick to their guns and their claims that they support worldwide indigenous people’s movements.
If supporting attempts by native peoples to exercise influence and authority over their homelands is “tribalist”, then call me a tribalist. But if requiring indigenous people to “cooperate” with the sons of those who conquered their lands, by reducing their heritage, their domain, their liberty, to “one man, one vote” under whatever regime happens to be legitimized by a majority of the world’s countries; if this is “multiculturalism”, then please, by all means, call me a racist, or an assimilationist. Your words mean nothing.
In my opinion, the most important distinction between national-anarchists and racists is that racists support ethnic segregationism (through force and state power if and when necessary), while national-anarchists support – as you said – voluntary racial separatism, and pluralism and separation that depends on civic distinctions rather than racial or ethnic distinctions. To some extent I agree with conservatives who cast the “authoritarian left” as racist, because they support ethnic assimilation, through the use of state power and violence if necessary.
The authoritarian left is so dedicated to the “melting pot” idea of America that they are willing to call in state troops to desegregate private property and private establishments. I find this objectionable because in my view a free society should permit separation in private and personal spheres, although it should never tolerate segregation performed by the government and in the public sphere.
The principles of the public sphere are (or at least should be) universality, unanimity, and inclusion; while the principles of the private sphere are privacy, liberty, and freedom from – and to, or of – association.
To put it simply, if I had my way, no government could deny a gay couple a marriage license, and every government building would have transgender restrooms in good and equal repair, but no person or company (such as the now-famous Christian-owned bakery in Oregon) could be fined, nor sued, nor legislated, against for refusing to serve patrons, for any reason.
These are patrons who come onto their property only if they have permission to enter, and associate and transact with them only if their interests align. I suppose this makes me a Goldwaterite; I make no bones about this, although I prefer the label “hopeless optimist on civic-cultural matters”.
We must not confuse separation with “separatism”; as of the moment of this writing, I am alone in a room, with two other white people in different rooms in the residence. The mere fact that I have chosen to be apart from them at the moment, does not imply that I am “segregating” myself from them, nor practicing any kind of ideological, systematic “separatism”. A business whose owner and sole employee is a white man is not automatically practicing racial discrimination in hiring, and operating a “whites-only business”.
Where we go, and with whom we associate, are parts of our freedom; they are not to be analyzed and questioned, nor are our social or personal lives to be subject to review by some distant board of bureaucrats, nor integrated according to some Affirmative Action program, nor “Equal Social Opportunity Commission”. Our preferences are our preferences, and we tend to associate with people who share our ideas and values, more than we associate with those who do not.
Furthermore, some political, economic, and cultural values align and correlate with race and ethnicity, while some do not, and the degree of that correlation changes in a way that is not predictable and does not fit neatly in a 50.1%, us-vs.-them, first-past-the-post, majority-rules paradigm. Not all minorities like each other, and not all minorities work together!
There is nothing wrong with the “salad bowl” idea of America; I believe that people who come to America should be free to speak their native language, practice their religion, and live in closely-knit communities where they can, if they wish, be surrounded mostly by people with whom they share a common cultural bond.
Those who are too staunchly committed to the idea of multiculturalism all too often fail to consider the strengthening effect that pluralism would bring to minority communities (and the empowering effect to less culturally affiliated individuals, i.e., egoists), out of a sense of fear that allowing white separatism (or, hypothetically, male separatism, or heterosexual separatism) might somehow empower such dominating groups, whether more overall, or more in proportion to non- dominating and/or oppressed demographics.
I believe – and statements by Muhammad Ali seem to support this idea – that there is nothing
wrong with racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious pride, as long as that pride is not so hubristic that people do not feel welcome to make statements or perform actions that incite people to cause immediate, direct harm or clear and present danger to others just because they come from different backgrounds. And this goes whether the people inciting such violence are private civilians or government employees. Where individual liberties and pluralism exist, assimilationism cannot thrive, and cultural minorities only stand to develop more of an integrated and definitive identity. This is how diverse traditions continue alongside one-another; we cannot expect to put circumcision and pork legality up to
a democratic vote and expect everybody to be happy about the black-and-white decision that results.
Anyone interested in discovering more about shades of so-called “racist” and “fascist” political ideologies (which often carry ridiculous labels like “anarcho-fascism”) – which cannot be discussed in public or in the media because of the sensitive civic, racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious topics which typically accompany their mention – should learn about the philosophy of Ernst Junger, proto-fascists Georges Sorel and Charles Maurras, independent communists like Nestor Makhno, and “social- nationalists” such as Lukashenko of Belarus and the social-nationalists of Syria.
How has the libertarian movement responded to Panarchism? Does it perceive it as a legitimate
development of libertarian principles?
Although I do not claim to speak for all libertarians, nor can I say that I am part of the
“libertarian movement” – or even that there is such a movement – I can say that most, if not all, libertarians I have encountered, and engaged on the subject, have responded favorably and positively to panarchism.
Being that there are so few libertarians, self-described anarcho-capitalists, and even libertarian conservatives and classical liberals, there is a lot of overlap among these (what you could scarcely call) “factions”. It is a difficult enough task trying to get intelligent, freedom-loving people in the same room together, much less agreeing on definitions and labels and pragmatism.
Libertarians range from social-anarchists who are determined not to have the “libertarian” term hijacked from them by capitalists, to people like unabashed capitalist and self-described “anarcho- capitalist” Eric Bolling of Fox News.
Libertarians range from government employees like former congressman Ron Paul and former judge Andrew Napolitano – who do not present themselves as anarchists but also do not shy away from embracing that label when asked if they are anarchists – to followers of Murray Rothbard (Paul and Napolitano included), even though the profoundly anti-Statist Rothbard stated that he was not an anarchist.
Libertarians range from enthusiastic Gary Johnson supporters who want a flat sales-tax system, to readers of Lysander Spooner – who abhor voting due to its secretive methods, and would never think of voting because it seems to authorize the existence of this government and its uses of force – and Geo-libertarians who want to abolish all sales taxes.
Many libertarians may not even be able to say that they are definitely one or the other of the dichotomies I have just presented. Many would undoubtedly say that they have found themselves on all sides of these issues. From minarchists to anarchists, from “liberal-tarians” to “conservatarians”, we love to debate and bicker, refining our ideas all throughout.
But the one current that connects us all – the one idea that presents itself over and over again in each one of our discussions – is whether, and when, one person’s idea of freedom and liberty, begins to
limit the ability of the other people in the discussion, to express their ideas and views of freedom, and to act in accordance with those views. That is, when their ideas of freedom begin to impose and confer upon others some positive responsibility and obligation to act, or to engage in a certain behavior, such that they are required to serve others, or aggress against others, or aggress against some people in order to serve other people.
Any thinking libertarian, when confronted or challenged about the real-life consequences implied by redefining freedom and liberty as necessitating their idea of what freedom is, on a particular issue or question, will ensure that his or her answer really fits in with the “laissez-faire” and “live and let live” principles. If they do not, then they resign themselves to labeling and straw-manning the opposition, usually resorting to a flimsy majoritarian or “common good” argument, to conjecture about the “State of Nature”, or to an argument that rests heavily on a preposterous, typically unspoken assumption that all currently enforced and protected property claims are just, simply based on the fact that they have been legitimized by the political or economic status quo.
For the most part, any libertarian you can ensnare into a discussion about semantics, definitions, and Latin and Greek root words, is willing to admit that panarchism is a libertarian idea; that freedom for all, and decision-making by all, is both a libertarian and an egalitarian idea.
It is only when pan-leftist ideologues – such as Marxists, union-sympathetic workers won over by Barack Obama, and socialists ambivalent about how much force is necessary to carry out their objectives – challenge libertarians to attempt to fully “own” the libertarian and anarchist labels, that libertarians begin to balk, take sides in the left-vs.-right false dichotomy, cast aspersions, and forget to push back and insist upon the distinction between authoritarian socialism and libertarian or anarchist socialism.
Between politicians, judges, economists, activists, talking heads on television, radical political theorists, science-fiction writers, conspiracy theorists, and chaos gurus, there are plenty of libertarians to be inspired and influenced by, and it is anybody’s guess how or whether two or more libertarians will differ, depending on how a question is phrased, or in what context an issue is posed.
For the most part, we all respect, and are willing to listen to, one another, because we’re fairly certain that the other person is not about to leap out of his chair and stick a gun in our face, to make us vote, or to make us give a homeless person a dollar, or to collect land rents or natural resource extraction fees. While we are certain that “I think we can come to some sort of agreement”, none of us wishes to have to utter that phrase with a quiver in our voice.
From philosophically anarchist people like me, to people as right-wing as the Tea Party Patriots, we can all agree that, as Ron Paul explained, a free society can remain free even when people use their freedom to practice socialism and communism, and to pool and distribute, and re-distribute, their property collectively. Understanding that the State is innately prone towards initiating aggression against free people who cannot escape it, we align ourselves with all people who want to be free from tyranny and use their property as they see fit.
As anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist-without-adjectives Rudolf Rocker put it, the various schools of anarchist thought are “only different methods of economy”. Whatever their differences of opinion regarding what is property, what is the difference between personal and private property, how wealth should be distributed and redistributed, and what kinds of customs should govern how we conduct trade, Rocker, Ron Paul, Benjamin Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre, Lysander Spooner, and hosts of others, would not think twice if presented with an opportunity to choose between freedom and tyranny.
I can say with confidence that no libertarian I have encountered has ever attempted to characterize panarchism as “un-libertarian”, or as an illegitimate development of libertarian principles.
Through the Facebook discussion group “Market Anarchy ‘Without Adjectives’”, which I administer (and which has over 600 members; my group Panarchist Party U.S.A. has over 100), I
promote the idea that “Anarchy Without Adjectives” is compatible with what classical liberal Gustave de Molinari described as a free market for the production of defense and security.
This is to say that, although “Anarchy Without Adjectives” was originally used to describe anarchists of the left who were influenced by communist, socialist, mutualist, and individualist schools of anarchist thought, no anarchist should hastily commit to a revolution that does away with all markets. This is, in part, because most mutualists and many individualists support markets.
But it is also because, as market-anarchists – and as what Gary Chartier described as “market- oriented social-anarchists” – we know that if we could all have our disputes resolved, and our property and ourselves protected, by the non-aggressive agency of our choice, it would be ridiculous to suggest that prices, costs, availability, accessibility, efficiency, and efficacy of the goods and services necessary to foster such security and accord, would not follow the laws of supply and demand.
As a note to end on, I should clarify that within panarchism, as within liberarianism, there are several overlapping tendencies.
The enthusiastically pro-market or “right-anarchist” panarchist tendencies include the following:
- my own, which includes both the anarchist tendency “Market Anarchism Without Adjectives” and an economic system that I call “Nonapartism” or “Unincorporatism”, which is an unofficial, non-legitimized government, and a proposed type of social market economy;
- market-anarchism more generally, exemplified by theorists such as Gustave de Molinari, Robert Murphy, and Linda and Morris Tannehill;
- Anarchism without Adjectives that coexists with individual anarchism, promoted by Voline (or Volin, or M. Eikhenbaum), Sebastien de Faure, and Voltairine de Cleyre;
- left-libertarian-leaning expressions of Agorism supporting the existence of “Agorist syndicates”, articulated by the likes of J. Neil Schulman and Wally Conger;
- Brad Spangler’s idea of Synthesis-Anarchism, in which individual people are expected to practice behaviors – and interact with organizations – commonly associated with any or all anarchist currents within the course of their day; and
- John Zube’s staunchly voluntaryist modern expression of
The panarchist tendencies which are more democratic or left-leaning, as well as not as enthusiastically pro-market as the others enumerated above, include the following:
- The Anarchism without Adjectives of anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker;
- Anarchism without Adjectives that focuses on economic experimentation within anarchist communes, promoted by Errico Malatesta;
- the original panarchism of Paul Emile de Puydt, who proposed a civil registry office
called a “Bureau of Political Membership”;
- the National Personal Autonomy or National Personal Sovereignty of Austromarxists Otto Bauer and Vladimir Medem;
- “Functional Overlapping and Competing Jurisdictions”, a form of direct democracy proposed by Bruno Frey and Reiner Eichenberger; and
- Will Schnack’s henocentric “Geo-Mutualist Panarchism”.
The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the tendencies of panarchism, as it only mainly includes expressly economic formulations of anarchism. Any set of anarchist schools could begin to work together and/or synthesize their philosophies, including Anarcha-Feminism, Anarcho- Pacifism, Christian Anarchism, Anarcho-Primitivism, Anarcho-Transhumanism, and even so-called “Anarcho-Fascism”, “Anarcho-Monarchism”, and radically autonomous but not-quite-anarchist tendencies of Communism and Socialism. It will be up to the self-described panarchists of today, and of the future, to decide which set of schools together make up “real” or “true” panarchism.
You have done a lot of work developing a form of “Synthesis Anarchism”. Do you think the
modern anarchist movement is ready for this, and if not, why not?
That is correct, my idea of “Market Anarchism ‘Without Adjectives’” (M.A.W.A.) is a hybrid of
Synthesis Anarchism, Market Anarchism, and Panarchism. I feel it necessary to emphasize market- anarchism in this synthesis because I believe that it would not violate anyone’s liberty if we were all free to choose whether and how to pay for – or buy, sell, or trade – defense and protection services from amongst various competing anarchist providers, in markets.
I also emphasize market-anarchism because the origins of market-anarchism trace back to the immediate aftermath of the Revolutions of 1848, and therefore have common origins in, and sympathies with, anarcho-communism. Additionally, I believe that, since market-anarchism has been described by its own proponents as both a current of individualist anarchism and one of social- anarchism, it rightfully belongs in “the Synthesis”, which unites anarcho-collectivism, anarcho- communism, anarcho-syndicalism, and individualist anarchism.
I do think that the modern anarchist movement is ready for Synthesis Anarchism. Thanks to the internet, it has become easier for people to research anarchist philosophies online, and share and debate their ideas with people across the globe, and rapidly at that.
There are many examples of groups and pages on Facebook where that is already happening; the first group I created was the political group the “Progressive-Libertarian Alliance”. Later I created the “Agorist-Mutualist Alliance”; discovered groups on Mutualism, Georgism, Geo-Mutualism, and various socialist and communist groups, including groups for debate between communists and capitalists. I created “Market Anarchism ‘Without Adjectives’” once I realized that I would support any radical political philosophy which opposes both the State and aggression.
The modern anarchist movement is ready for Synthesis Anarchism because it is sick of bickering, tired of repetitive arguments that go nowhere and produce no new knowledge. I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to Synthesis Anarchism becoming popular among social-anarchists and
voluntaryists, is a difference in rhetoric, especially regarding what qualifies as property, and what it means for an action or transaction to be truly voluntary.
Another obstacle is the assertion that one’s own brand of anarchism is “true anarchism”, or the only true anarchism, and that the other person’s is not, furthermore that the other anarchist school is plagiarizing and co-opting some original form of anarchism.
There has been quite enough strawmanning of the opponents’ views by what I like to call “left- conflationists” and “right-conflationists”; ideologues who believe either that all capitalism or market proponency is authoritarian and fascist, or that all socialism or cooperation proponency is totalitarian communism.
However, I believe that there will be no philosophical or ideological consistency to this “New Synthesis”, unless and until the economically-centrist “Geo-Mutualist” tendency becomes the prominent and leading force within Synthesis Anarchism, and its economics fully learned and internalized by the bulk of anarchists. That is why I look forward to collaborating with Geo-Mutualist Panarchist Will Schnack regarding what role markets play in his vision of the future, and create a list of all the goals that Mutualists have in common with those who desire markets to be complete, and competition within them to be perfected.
Another thing that has to happen for the “New Synthesis” to spread, is that many radical people need to understand that they are already anarchists or libertarians. This is to be accomplished through rhetoric; I admire Larken Rose, and the “Argumentation Ethics” of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, for their straight-forward approach to debating people who desire change or action: “What will you do to me if I do not comply? Will you become violent towards me? Will you try to authorize someone to use violence against me on your behalf?”
Once people realize that they are anarchists, they will understand that nobody deserves to be arrested, imprisoned, or tortured for attempting to construct a different or non-traditional economic system, or practice a foreign financial custom.
Do you think Panarchy being in part a form of “Synthesis Anarchism Without Adjectives” could
be a useful paradigm to link up with First Peoples’ struggles and Pan-Indigenism, not to mention the whole concept of Micro-Nations, Seasteading, and Agorist Counter-Economics?
I do think that it would be useful for Panarchists and Synthesis-Anarchists to cooperate with First Peoples’ struggles. I support what Keith Preston calls “Pan-Anarchism Against the State, Pan- Secessionism Against the Empire” – as well as “anarcho-pluralism” – so I support the rights of regional, communal, and individual secession from all compulsory governmental programs and systems.
As Ron Paul has reminded us, when Southern states filed petitions for independence, and during the Russian acquisition of the Crimea, it is hypocritical to support American national sovereignty and independence while criticizing secessionism either at home or abroad, since the United States of America was born out of an act of secession from Great Britain.
Therefore, naturally, I look forward to the eventual liberation of Scotland, the Basque country, and Catalonia, and the re-drawing of borders in Eastern Europe and the Middle East – among other places – in order to better accommodate the integrity of various ethnic, cultural, and religious factions.
However, ensuring the territorial autonomy and integrity of indigenous peoples, does not
automatically solve the problem of border disputes and other conflicts, given the existence of enclaves, exclaves, and underrepresented immigrants living in diaspora. We cannot trust that, simply because a majority has control of a territory and a government, that such a majority will be sufficiently tolerant of minority communities and mindful of individual liberties. This is why I side with Otto Bauer and Paul Emile de Puydt on the issue of allocating political power on the basis of individuals’ choice rather than on the basis of their location.
It is for these reasons that, in my opinion, anarchists of the left and the right should unite with people of all nations in pursuit of individual liberty and communal and national self-determination, within a culturally pluralist paradigm, in which minority communities tolerate one another in peaceful coexistence, rather than attempting to unite in order to consolidate government power, often compromising away their deeply held cultural and religious values in the process.
As I explained earlier, when I say “nations”, I do not mean “nation-States”, but voluntary associations of persons, uniting in pursuit of some common ethnic, cultural, religious, economic, customary, and/or moral interest. Being founded on monopoly, territorial domination, and legalized aggression, the State is far from an ideal form of government, and cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the people, rather than in the interests of the representatives which a minority of the people elect secretly.
The same applies with regards to micro-nations and seasteading, such as the experiments in Liberland and Sealand. We cannot predict how fledgling nations with such small populations will lean politically nor economically, nor how those positions will shift over time, nor how quickly those dispositions may change or sway.
But it would not be unreasonable to expect that micronations and nations at sea will eschew the currently dominant mode of governance, i.e., Statism. That is why it is likely that many or most of the people who would choose to be governed by such nations may be anarchists, and so, Panarchism and Anarchism Without Adjectives seem appropriate paradigms for fostering cooperation between various peoples and communities working to form new nations.
So too should we expect Panarchism and Anarchism Without Adjectives to co-exist alongside, and work for the pursuit of, counter-economics. This is because there are anarchist schools aside from Agorism which support counter-economics, including Mutualism, communism, and libertarian socialism.
Agorists support counter-economics (meaning the practice of actions forbidden by the State) because they desire to promulgate the conduction of unofficial economic transactions which do not violate individual liberty, which serves to undermine and de-legitimize the moral authority of the State. Mutualists, on the other hand, support counter-economics primarily in that they promote the development of “alternative social institutions”. Mutualists also desire that workers’ councils compete for legitimacy against the State, while co-existing alongside it.
Agorists and Mutualists both support voluntary cooperation, mutual aid, and exchanges which are free from coercion. Also, they share the notions that the State should not necessarily be trusted as a moral authority on social matters, and that State-granted privileges should be abolished.
Although the various anarchist schools may differ with respect to their solutions as to how the State and its official (usually controlled) economy, should best be undermined, and with respect to how quickly and to what degree it should be de-legitimized, it is important to note that there exist both pro- market and anti-market streams of anarchism that support dual power.
Therefore, the cooperation of various anarchist schools of thought under a Panarchist paradigm would be helpful toward beginning to abolish State-granted economic privilege, whether that work would primarily benefit local workers’ councils, cooperatives and other non-State-approved workplaces and firms, or individuals in general.
Where can one find out more about your work?
I publish all my writing on my Blogspot blog, which is at www.aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com.
The blog was started in 2010, and features writing from 2009 to present. On it, I discuss radical political and economic ideas, political and moral philosophy, election and other statistics, and religion.
There is some writing, sorted by topic, on my congressional election site, which can be found at http://dontvoteforjoe.wix.com/2012. I am also active on Facebook as Joe Kopsick, you can find my groups Panarchist Party U.S.A., Panarchist International, and Market Anarchism “Without Adjectives” by searching for them on Facebook. I am also active on Twitter as SocialMarketPDX; I can be found at http:///twitter.com/socialmarketpdx?lang=en.
What are your current projects?
Currently I am working on several pieces on spirituality and psychology, including a
commentary on the Gnostic religious text known as the Nag Hammadi Library. Those have been the primary topics of my focus since the beginning of this year; I became somewhat tired of politics and anarchism, and needed to take a break in order to, as Carl Jung would say, “surrender my mind to the realm of the pure unconscious”.
After those pieces are finished, I am planning on editing and re-publishing an article on Panarchy as the antithesis of Statism, with a focus on Max Weber’s definition of the State. I am also going to edit and re-publish several pieces on abortion and negligent infanticide, with a focus on Murray Rothbard’s ideas about where to draw the line between personal freedom and parental responsibility.
The next pieces I’m planning on publishing are a market-based criticism of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”, a commentary on how to achieve socioeconomic equality through market- oriented systems of private law and security, a piece on the conditions necessary to create complete markets and perfect competition, a piece about the effects of the current American tax structure on the disparity of income and economic opportunity, a piece on libertarian ideas about the standard of living, a piece about attorneys’ unions and the rights of the accused, synopses of mutualism and Georgism, and a piece on the qualities of an ideal currency. I also need to finish expanding my 62-sided three- dimensional political spectrum “The Politosphere” into a 162-sided one.
Additionally, being that I have run for the U.S. House of Representatives twice in the past, I plan to weigh in on a broader variety of political topics, so some time soon I will publish a concise overview of my positions on some 80 to 100 political issues. I also look forward to eventually publishing my collected essays – as well as my upcoming books A Jewish and Democratic State and The Obama Murders – in printed book form.