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The Epistemological Foundation of Economic Science

The Epistemological Foundation of Economic Science

“A fool believes that the society of the future will transcend the laws of economics. A person of reason hopes that it will finally learn to respect them.” – Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski

The author is a second year law undergraduate and enthusiast of the Austrian School of economics. You can follow him on Twitter @Hazlitt_3.

This article was originally published on austrianpoliticaleconomy.blogspot.com. Read the original article.


One of, if not the most fundamental difference between the Austrian school and the mainstream neoclassical school is the difference of opinion with regard to the essential epistemological character of economic propositions. The Austrian position is that economic propositions constitute a priori knowledge; that is, knowledge derived, not from observational experience, but from a true axiom. Mises has poignantly articulated the Austrian position:

“Its [economics] statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are, like those of logic and mathematics, a priori. They are not subject to verification and falsification on the ground of experience and facts. They are both logically and temporally antecedent to any comprehension of historical facts. They are a necessary requirement of any intellectual grasp of historical events.”

Contrariwise, the neoclassical school conceives of economic propositions as a posteriori (empirical) statements, which are derived from observational experience. Whereas the Austrians understand economics to be a purely deductive science, the neoclassicals believe economics to be a historical science, akin to physics or chemistry. For the neoclassicals, knowledge of economic theory stems entirely from the experimental method. The Austrians, conversely, hold that economic knowledge arises from theoretical reasoning. Economic phenomena are simply too variable to allow for the fruitful employment of the methods of the natural sciences.

The fundamental reason for this is that economic phenomena such as market prices, interest rates, and the business cycle are the product of the actions of individuals and, unlike the subject matter of the natural sciences, human beings are not perfectly predictable. How people acted yesterday is no absolute assurance of how they will act today or tomorrow or a year from now. There is in the realm of human action no empirical constants. This fact forever precludes the use of the methods of the empirical sciences.

The neoclassicals are unable and unwilling to comprehend this immutable fact. Since the 1940s, the doctrine of empiricism-positivism has dominated the economics discipline. The positivist view is that physics is the preeminent science and that all other sciences must emulate its method, despite fundamental epistemological differences between the various fields. Accordingly, positivism is an ideology marked by a commitment to methodological monism, in contrast to the methodological dualism of the Austrian school.

If empiricism is not appropriate for economics, then what method can be employed to investigate economic phenomena? The answer is logical deduction. However, logic alone is not sufficient. A self-evident and eternally true axiom is also required. The logical deductions that can be made from that axiom are, provided the axiom is legitimate, true knowledge about reality, as opposed to merely analytic knowledge. They are what Kant has called synthetic a priori statements. How are such axioms discovered, if not by observational experience? They emanate from internal, introspectively produced experience. What’s more, these axioms are self-evident because one cannot deny their validity without self-contradiction; that is, in attempting to refute them, one would actually – implicitly – assent to their truth.

The validity of all true economic theorems and statements, then, derives not from empirical experience, but from the axiom of purposeful human action. This axiom fulfils the requirements of a Kantian synthetic a priori proposition. It cannot be rejected that this proposition is true, since the rejection would have to be regarded as a purposive action. Moreover, the axiom is also not derived from observation; it is derived from reflective experience. The various elements of action – means, ends, psychic profit, value, and so forth – exist only in the minds of acting men. It is impossible to observe, for instance, subjective value; this impossibility is inherent in the nature and meaning of subjectivity.

All these various categories of action are implied in the axiom of action. As Hoppe has said, the fact that one is able to interpret observations in terms of these categories means that one already knows what it means to act. In other words, the categories of action are logically antecedent to purposeful action.

In sum, Mises and the Austrians correctly understand that the epistemological foundation of economic science is rooted in the Kantian concept of the synthetic a priori. Economics – or to use the Misesian term: Praxeology – says that’s all true economic propositions must be demonstrated to be logically deducible from the incontrovertible axiom of purposeful human action. Those that are, are true a priori; that is, they cannot be falsified by observational experience. Therein lies the fundamental epistemological difference between the Austrian school and the neoclassical school.

H


The Twenty-Four Year Hangover

The Twenty-Four Year Hangover

“Where all is but dream, reasoning and arguments are of no use, truth and knowledge nothing.” – John Locke

Daniel Lahoud is an economist, PhD in history, researcher and professor of Finance and History of Economic Thought at Universidad Catolica Andrés Bello (Caracas) and Universidad Central de Venezuela (Caracas). Visit his blog here.
 


Twenty-four years have passed since Paul Krugman wrote “The Hangover Theory,” ample time for him to have read Friedrich Hayek’s “Prices and Production” or even J. M. Keynes’ “Treatise on Money.” The former provides an understanding of the Austrian School’s Cycle Theory while the latter, a discovery rather than denial of the 1930s diatribe in relation to Keynes’ ineffable Treatise. Suppose there is one thing to be learned in the History of Economic Thought. In that case, it is this: you must first familiarize yourself with an author before presenting a thesis based on imagination. Aligning Hayek and Schumpeter is a terrible starting point.

Mises initiated the Austrian Theory of the Economic Cycle research. Hayek expanded it during his lectures at the London School of Economics in 1930, and in addition, Schumpeter also elaborated on the cycle. But Schumpeter’s position misses that of Mises and Hayek’s; in “Theory of Economic Development,” his only book with an Austrian influence, his explanation of the cycle is associated with the idea of innovation. For Schumpeter, the cycle becomes expansive with the rupture of equilibrium resulting from innovation, and the recession begins with the massification of innovation and the restitution of equilibrium. It has nothing to do with the Austrian Theory of the Economic Cycle.

Astonishingly, Krugman flippantly asserts that the Austrian Cycle Theory speaks of either a shift of workers from investment to consumption during a crisis or the recession is the consequence of expansion. Nowhere is this found in the Austrian tradition. Krugman criticizes without knowing the arguments and his disingenuous assertions represent terrible tactics for a meaningful debate. Mr. Krugman would do himself and his admirers a great service by reading:

In them, Krugman would learn that his summary of the cycle theory is oversimplified and incorrect and that Keynes misunderstood Hayek’s criticisms of Keynes’ “A Treatise on Money.” Through the use of a dense epistolary bibliography, Keynes did manage to improve and raise his arguments again, saying to Hayek, “I no longer think like that, I am writing a book in which I show the way in which I understand the problem” (1935). Had Krugman enquired, he may have abandoned his view: 

“[a] theory that I regard as being about as worthy of serious study as the phlogiston theory of fire.” 

The Keynesian (not Keynes) system is similar to the Ptolemaic system in its belief that it sits squarely in the centre of the universe. Fortunately, the Austrians effectively point out that the Keynesian approach better likens a small satellite circling a planet, believing cycles are products of the businessman’s mood swings. But how would they explain the absence of deflation when businessmen simultaneously raise their demand for money at the onset of a recession? They would likely tell me to revisit the monetary theory.

DL


The Impossibility of Socialism

The Impossibility of Socialism

“Socialism is not in the least what it pretends to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created. It does not build, it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it. It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means of production has created.” – Ludwig von Mises

The author is a second year law undergraduate and enthusiast of the Austrian School of economics. You can follow him on Twitter @Hazlitt_3.

This article was originally published on austrianpoliticaleconomy.blogspot.com. Read the original article.


Over a century ago, in 1920, Ludwig von Mises wrote what is undoubtedly the most important essay in the history of the field of economic science, namely: Economic Calculation in The Socialist Commonwealth. In that essay, Mises utterly destroyed the intellectual foundation of the theory of socialism. Mises definitively demonstrated that socialism is impossible in an advanced economy because of the fundamental deficiencies of calculations in kind.

Until the calculation debate of the 1920s, socialist theorists of the Marxian school had failed to pay any attention to the economic problem of resource allocation in an advanced economic society. According to Marx, it was a fact of the inexorable laws of history that socialism would one day usurp capitalism. Socialism was inevitable and therefore it must be workable they thought. In short, the socialist theorists had assumed away the economic problem in their fervent belief in spurious laws of history. 

Before we can see why socialism is doomed to fail, we must first ascertain what functions an economic system must fulfil and how the market economy fulfils them. The task of an economy is to direct scarce resources to the satisfaction of the more urgently felt wants of society’s members. This is true in the case of an isolated individual, such as Robinson Crusoe, and the case of millions of individuals interacting under the division of labour. 

There are, however, two major differences. First, the resources with which Robinson Crusoe deals are minimal. The most versatile resource in his possession is his labour. He also has access to the original nature-given factors of production—land and whatever natural resources he acquires. Because the resources in his inventory would lack a significant degree of versatility, the choices facing Crusoe regarding their use would not be so complicated as to necessitate quantitative calculations about the results of different employments. Secondly, Crusoe is the only intelligent mind appraising the various producer and consumer goods for their utility in satisfying his preferences. For his purposes, calculations in terms of physical output (often called calculations in kind) would be sufficient. Crusoe’s scale of values would operate to determine his actions; objective profit and loss calculations would not be necessary. Contrariwise, these decisions are not as easy to make in a modern economy characterised by an extensive division of labour and intricate exchange transactions.

The greater difficulty of resource allocation can be attributed to the immense array of consumer goods and intermediate capital goods that are capable of being generated by the higher productivity resulting from specialisation and the division of labour. Decisions arise concerning what articles are to be made and in what quantities and qualities they are to be made. In an advanced economy, there is an inconceivable number of alternatives, rendering the task of resource allocation profoundly difficult. For example, steel can be used to make automobiles, but it can also be used to make skyscrapers, refrigerators, washing machines, cargo ships, and surgical scalpels—not to mention the possibility of substitutes. Moreover, in such an advanced economy, there are millions, if not billions, of individuals each acting purposively according to his value scale. It is clear, then, that resources will not be guided to their most fruitful uses if calculations in kind are the only calculations. The allocation of scarce resources would be chaotic and irrational. 

Thus the need emerges for economic calculation. That is, for a means of comparing the results of different resource employments. In this way, resources can be directed to their more important usages. The question arises how are these important usages to be decided. Economic calculation is enabled by the very factor that makes widespread exchange possible: the medium of exchange, viz. money and its concomitant money prices. Money allows for economic calculations precisely because it serves as a common denominator that converts all goods in the market into common terms in the form of market prices. 

It is through the market price system that relative importance is attributed to the multitude of commodities in the market. The money prices that are generated by the market represent exchange ratios between commodities and the medium of exchange. One point that needs stressing is that this does not entail measuring the value of goods. Value is inherently subjective and not capable of being measured. Valuation is manifested in the act of exchange and can therefore only reveal an ordinal ranking of goods; it is never cardinal. Money prices are not measurements of value, they are expressions of valuations. 

Economic calculation permits the determination of money costs and money revenues. Entrepreneurs estimate the total amount of money they must spend on their expenses (hiring workers, buying raw materials, and so forth) and forecast the revenue they expect to receive from consumers when they offer their goods for sale in the market. In brief, entrepreneurs estimate whether their proposed course of production will yield a profit or a loss.

The profit and loss system serves a vital social function. It is the relentless search of entrepreneurs for profit potentials to exploit that results in the shifting of resources from less important employments into employments that better satisfy the more urgent wants of consumers. This is the essence of what Hutt and Mises called “consumer sovereignty.” It is ultimately not the captains of industry who decide how resources will be used to produce goods and services in the market economy—it is the consumers. As Hazlitt states:

“In a free economy, in which wages, costs, and prices are left to the free play of the competitive market, the prospect of profits decides what articles will be made, and in what quantities—and what articles will not be made at all. If there is no profit in making an article, it is a sign that the labour and capital devoted to its production are misdirected: the value of the resources that must be used up in making the article is greater than the value of the article itself.” 

The Impossibility of Socialism 

In the socialist commonwealth, the only possible calculations are calculations in kind. Monetary and economic calculation is only possible in the market economy where there is private property in the factors of production—without private property, the determination of market prices is not possible. As Mises states:

“The paradox of ‘planning’ is that it cannot plan, because of the absence of economic calculation. What is called a planned economy is no economy at all. It is just a system of groping about in the dark. There is no question of a rational choice of means for the best possible attainment of the ultimate ends sought. What is called conscious planning is precisely the elimination of conscious purposive action.”

In the absence of market prices and profits, the socialist planning board has no means by which to rationally allocate scarce resources to the satisfaction of urgent wants. It has no idea what to produce and in what quantities and qualities. The result is utter chaos and invariably human tragedy and disaster. 

While economics is a theoretical science, and the criticism developed by Mises is valid a priori, it is helpful to analyse the historical record and see what happened when the socialist programme was implemented. From 1918-21 the Bolsheviks implemented pure socialism in Russia. The means of production were collectivised and the market and money were abolished. What followed was one of the darkest chapters in human history. Trotsky said they stared into the “abyss.” Russia was plunged into deep privation. It was so disastrous that it was abandoned after a few years to prevent total annihilation. Never again did the Soviets attempt to abolish the market. As Austrian economist Peter Boettke points out, from 1921 onwards, the soviet economy was essentially a controlled or hampered market economy. 

One hundred years have passed since Mises proved the impossibility of socialism and yet fervour for socialism, fuelled by economic illiteracy, never dies. It is incontrovertible that the institution of private property—and its corollaries market prices and profits—are the foundations of civilisation. The attempt to abolish them always results in the tragic demise of civilisation. 

H


Bibliography 

Mises. 1949. Human Action

Mises. 1920. Economic Calculation in The Socialist Commonwealth

Boettke. 2000. Calculation and Coordination. 

The CDC’s Housing Takeover

The CDC’s Housing Takeover

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” – Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson.

Eric Martin and his wife reside in Houston, Texas, with their two children. He is a follower of the Austrian school of economics, defends individual liberty, and promotes a foreign policy of peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.

You can find more of Eric’s political and economic commentaries on his substack, actionaxiom.substack.com. Follow him on Twitter @ericmartintx.


Continuing its attack on private property and the constitution, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its eviction moratorium. A move even the editors at the Washington Post said was illegal. 

The eviction moratorium imposes stiff fines on property owners who evict tenants: Landlords in violation of the moratorium may be subject to a fine of up to $100,000, one year in jail, or both; the fine increases to $250,000 if the violation results in the death of a tenant.

If you think the CDC’s canceling rent for millions of tenants is a slippery slope, you are not alone. In September, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) asked,

“If the CDC has the authority to force landlords to effectively give away their product for free, I don’t know where that ends. Can General Motors be forced to give people cars unless they otherwise crowd into subways?”

If they could, the auto industry would suffer the same fate as the housing industry. The eviction moratorium, which applies to 90% of renters, further centralizes the housing market and serves as a national rent control measure—setting the effective price at zero.

Rent control leads to scarcity

The price system in the market economy efficiently allocates scarce resources. It is far easier for politicians and bureaucrats to devise “free lunch” solutions than to get out of the way and allow the market to solve economic problems. If the market were allowed to function, higher rental prices would signal to builders an increased demand for housing. Building more units pushes the prices back down. This is simple supply and demand economics. 

The eviction moratorium, which acts as a form of rent control, ruins the housing market. There will be no new housing construction because there is no incentive to do so. Instead, entrepreneurs who see property owners struggle for months without a rent check will refuse to enter the housing market and invest their money elsewhere. Current owners, who have either significantly reduced profits or no profits at all, will be hesitant to provide more housing units.

The growth in housing inventory has slowed over the last decade, resulting in an “underbuilding gap” of 5.5 million to 6.8 million housing units. Last month, Taylor Morrison CEO Sheryl Palmer told CNBC, “the lack of supply and the overwhelming demand is something that will be with us for years to come.” Morrison added that the new and resale markets are at multi-year lows,” and it will be “very difficult to make up the shortage.” Discouraging potential builders will continue to add to the underbuilding gap, resulting in further housing scarcity and higher prices. 

Neglected buildings

Because property owners cannot evict tenants, renters are incentivized not to pay. Rental property owners pay for the draconian government measures. Without profits, it should come as no surprise then that rental units will start to deteriorate. Repairs are neglected for two reasons: the owner does not have the money to make repairs and get people to move out. Many would rather have no tenant than one that is not paying.

In a properly functioning economy, rental owners reinvest profits into their buildings and property. However, by the time they reach this stage of neglect, it is too late. Instead, these measures often lead to condemned buildings, further decreasing the supply of quality housing. Empty condemned buildings, the result of rent control, and other government regulations are something that we can easily see. 

Property owners will be more selective 

Rent control is intended to help those who are less fortunate. However, single mothers, immigrants, and welfare check recipients often pay the price. Many people are unable to make rent on time–the average renter is behind $3,700. With further uncertainty in the rental market, landlords will be more selective about whom they take on as tenants. 

Not wanting to be left holding the bag the next time, landlords will shift their focus to renting to young people with well-paying jobs, where they know the rent will continue to be paid on time, even during economic slow downs. In the past, property owners have resorted to other methods to avoid low-income renters, such as charging key money (a large deposit for the use of the apartment key), creating waiting lists, and in some cases, outright discrimination.

Not satisfied with the CDC moratorium, Rep. Ilhan Omar wants to forgive the unpaid rent, and fellow squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib goes even further, introducing a bill to cancel household water, electric, broadband debt. These are short-sighted remedies that begin the cycle of seeking government solutions to problems caused by the government.

The evictions process could take years 

The eviction ban is an assault on private property that will take years to undo. Even if the Supreme Court were to strike down the eviction ban, the process could take years. Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, writes,

“Courts will have a massive, 18-month backlog. The clerk will take forever to file the cases, process them, issue summons, provide notice, schedule hearings, etc. Plus, states offer additional ways to challenging evictions based on hardships.”

We need a truly free market in housing that encourages entrepreneurs to build more housing, invest in their property, and allows the profit and loss system to allocate scarce resources properly. The problem in housing and most of the other areas of the economy is not the fault of a market economy. Instead, it is the failure of shortsighted government officials who cater to the needs of one group at the expense of everyone else.

EM


Economics: What It Is and Is Not

Economics: What It Is and Is Not

“Economics is not about things and tangible material objects; it is about men, their meanings, and actions. Goods, commodities, and wealth and all other notions of conduct are not elements of nature; they are elements of human meaning and conduct. He who wants to deal with them must not look at the external world; he must search for them in the meaning of acting men.”
– Ludwig von Mises
 

The author is a first year law undergraduate and enthusiast of the Austrian School of economics. You can follow him on Twitter @Hazlitt_3.

This article was originally published on austrianschooleconomics.blogspot.com. Read the original article.


In his seminal treatise, Human Action, Ludwig von Mises put forward a definition of economics as the scientific study of human action. Mises conceived of economics as a branch of what he called praxeology, his term for the general, formal science of human action. For Mises, it was of paramount importance that economic reasoning and analysis be predicated on human action and not material commodities and their physical properties. While this may seem trite, I hope this essay will convince you otherwise.

Human Action 

When we observe phenomena in the world and try to make sense of their underlying causation, we invariably discern between purposeful action and unmotivated behaviour. We can either explain phenomena in terms of the purposive actions of human beings, or we can attribute them to natural laws. In the economic realm, we explain phenomena by reference to purposeful actions on the part of human beings. Mises’ student and intellectual successor, Murray Rothbard, explained purposeful human action as,

“purposeful behaviour toward the attainment of ends in some future period which will involve the fulfilment of wants otherwise remaining unsatisfied.”

When a human acts, he employs means in an endeavour to achieve an end or a goal that he subjectively values. Moreover, since action is intentional we can say it is teleological. It is clear, then, that not all human behaviour constitutes action in the praxeological sense of the word: unconscious or reflexive behaviour — for example, coughing when exposed to tear gas — are evidently not forms of purposeful action. 

The A Priori Nature of Economic Theory

Mises’ definition of economics as the science of human action may not appear very controversial. In fact, it might seem like he is simply stating the obvious. But Mises says of economic theory,

“Its statements and propositions are not derived from experience. They are, like those of logic and mathematics, a priori. They are not subject to verification and falsification on the ground of experience and facts. They are both logically and temporally antecedent to any comprehension of historical facts. They are a necessary requirement of any intellectual grasp of historical events.”

The assertion that economics is an a priori science distinguishes Misesian-Austrians from all other modern schools of thought. Besides the Austrians, all other schools regard economics as an empirical (a posteriori) science and its theorems as a collection of testable hypotheses. 

Mises did not see praxeology as a novel invention. Rather, he saw himself as merely recapitulating and systematizing economics as it had been conceived of by virtually every economist since the genesis of the discipline in the 18th century. While they did not use the term a priori, the view that economics constitutes a deductive science was held by the classical economists. This was also the view of Mises’ predecessors in the Austrian school (Menger, Bohm-Bawerk, and von Weisser).  However, at the same time Mises was formulating his theory of praxeology, a new trend was emerging in the economics profession.

Since the 1930s, an idea has prevailed that physics is the preeminent science and that all other sciences, including the social sciences, and economics in particular, must emulate its methods in order to be truly scientific. In the 1940s, the same decade Mises’ Human Action was published, Paul Samuelson’s highly successful textbook Principles of Economics was adopted by the mainstream pedagogy, and since then the neo-classical mainstream, the Chicago school, and all other non-Austrian schools have all strictly adhered to empiricist-positivism and conceived of economics as a quantitative and mathematical discipline. Only the Austrians remain true to the original and legitimate vision of economics as a deductive science. 

According to Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, all true economic theorems can be “deduced by means of formal logic from this incontestably true material knowledge regarding the meaning of action.”  Hoppe rests his defence of Misesian praxeology on Kantian epistemology. The main characteristic of Kantian epistemology is the submission that synthetic a priori propositions exist. These are propositions whose truth is not derived from observational experience but by means of formal logic from a self-evident material axiom. Such axioms are self-evident because it is impossible to reject their validity without self-contradiction; the mere attempt to deny the axiom would result in implicitly assenting to its truth. What is the source of synthetic a priori axioms? They derive not from observational experience, but from internal, reflective introspection and experience.

Thus, the so-called action axiom satisfies the requirements of a synthetic a priori statement. First, any attempt at denial would by logical necessity have to be interpreted as a purposeful action. Secondly, the axiom is not derived from observation, but purely from reflective consideration. Therefore, all the implications that can be logically deduced from the action axiom must contain as much truth as the original axiom itself. It is these implications that constitute the grand edifice of economic theory. 

Conclusion 

So, what is economics? The answer should now be clear: it is the a priori science of human action. And, contrary to the empiricist-positivist trend of the last eighty years, it is emphatically not an empirical science. The damage inflicted by empiricism upon economics cannot be understated. As Hoppe points out, even if there is agreement on a particular theory, this agreement is superficial. For the positivist-empiricists believe such theories to be empirically tested propositions when they are actually true synthetic a priori propositions. Only the Austrians understand the true epistemological nature of economic science.

H


Bibliography 

Mises. 1949. Human Action 
Rothbard. 1962. Man, Economy, and State.
Hoppe. 1995. Economic Science and the Austrian Method.


The Problem With Agorism

The Problem With Agorism

“Much as I love the market, I refuse to believe that when I engage in a regular market transaction… or a black-market activity… I advance one iota nearer the libertarian revolution.” – Murray Rothbard

Michael Clem is an artist, and Program Manager in the construction management field. He and his wife Lauren reside in San Juan Capistrano California with their daughter Leona. You can find more of Michael’s political and economic commentaries on his personal site, handofglory.net

This article was originally published on handofglory.net. Read the original article.


Agorism, better known as the counter economy, is a truly wonderful thing. At its most reductive point, Agorism is a pure free-market economy based on voluntary exchange: its driving force being the direct action of creating an economy outside of the state apparatus. Based on non-violent action, Agorism immediately removes state intervention. Agorists operate marketplaces independent of the state by employing alternate currency, under-the-table work, or other black-market activities that deprive the state of its control and tax revenues. 

Agorism exists outside of the political sphere and while its direct actions have political and economic implications, Agorism holds no political ambition outside of its refusal to allow state interference within the Agora (marketplace). Agorism follows that participation in the political arena enables state interference into people’s lives and the marketplace, and illuminates an essential contradiction Libertarians ought not to ignore. How does one work towards a stateless society while simultaneously participating in the state apparatus? 

In defense of Libertarianism, it’s hard to imagine waking up to discover a stateless society, granted to us by the powers that be; It isn’t realistic. There exists but a handful of options, the predominant two being social and violent revolutions. Agorism is most definitely a method of social revolution in which we should all be participants. Still, it is not the end all be all action. Agorism is but one tool working towards accomplishing our great building project: a free society.

Agorism is beautiful, as any free market is. However, a problem lies in its limited scope. While it may deprive the state of some tax revenues, it does nothing to curb other issues, namely the state’s ability to print money to make up for shortfalls. A robust black market already exists within the US. According to the RAND Corporation,

“Spending on cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine fluctuated between $120 billion and $145 billion each year from 2006 to 2016, rivaling what Americans spend each year on alcohol, according to a new study.”

Representing merely one segment of the US’ black market, those numbers are substantial and worth noting; however, the black market hasn’t slowed the parasitic nature of the state in the least. Agorism alone is not robust enough to deprive the state of its revenues.

Libertarianism requires action: one being regular participation in the Agora whenever possible. But that can’t be our only route to divorcing ourselves from the state. Frequent participation to achieve the unhampered marketplace is the end goal. Still, layer by layer, we must lift the state’s mandate. We must peacefully eliminate the state’s ability to tax, make demands on labor, manipulate currency, and so forth. No singular action will complete the project. It will take the concerted effort of every Libertarian device if we intend to reach a free society. Our ideas will only take shape when the whole of society can wrap their heads around them. As it stands, and not neglecting Agorism, we must spread the message of and fight for liberty by political means. 

MC