Monday, February 20, 2012

Agorism, Country Style, in Hardyville

"If we as individuals can't find freedom in our own lives, our own work, our own communities, we're never going to find it. And that's what Hardyvillians do."

Claire Wolfe, interview with Brian Wilson, 8/12/2011

Although I've written on a number of topics over the last month, I've always felt remiss for not explaining the name of my blog. While "Tireless" is explained by the masthead quote, I've never defined the term agorist, although most of my posts reflect the agorist philosophy in one way or another. 1

So here it is, briefly stated.

Agorism is a libertarian philosophy that holds as its ultimate goal a society in which all relations between people are voluntary exchanges and rejects the view that the solution to human aggression is to institute aggressive governments. It proposes that such a society can only be brought about by circumventing or ignoring the state.

Agorism embraces the libertarian philosophy of individual choice and responsibility and expands it to include a method for instituting that philosophy.

Claire Wolfe, libertarian author and columnist at Backwoods Home Magazine, wrote extensively of the rural community of Hardyville between October 2003 and September 2007. Hardyville, as a profoundly libertarian community with strong agorist tendencies, is a perfect example to illustrate the meanings of both libertarianism and agorism.

The whole Hardyville series is well worth reading, but two early columns serve to illustrate the case. In The Law in Hardyville we're introduced to the entire law code of Hardyville.
A. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
     (1.) When in doubt, leave them the heck alone.
B. Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.
That's it. The whole thing, and in essence as libertarian a law code as could possibly exist, since libertarian philosophy at its core boils down to the non-aggression principle, and can be simply stated as the Biblical golden rule, the second-oldest statement of the principle.

Another popular restatement is "No human being has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to advocate or delegate its initiation." [Thanks to Bill St. Clair for reminding me the source of this version is L. Neil Smith and consequently generating a few more ideas for future columns.]

Now the Hardyville law code is pretty puny compared to the 165,494 pages in the United States Code of Federal Regulations, but if ignorance of the law is no excuse, that means there's roughly 165,493 and 9/10ths less pages for the conscientious citizen to memorize.

Some people say the Hardyville law code is vague and open to interpretation, so the good people of Hardyville hand out an explanation sheet to newcomers that includes, among others, the following points.

  • Anyone advocating the notion that all people have "rights" to housing, welfare, food, a job, medical care or anything else that has to be provided by hardworking people will be expected to provide any or all of the above, on demand, personally, to anyone making the claim for it.
  • Those advocating bans on any non-coercive recreation practiced by others (e.g. drugs, sex, gambling) will be expected to give up one of their own pleasures for each item or activity of which they wish to deprive other people.
  • Persons proposing or supporting projects "for the good of others" or "the good of society" will be expected to participate cheerfully in any projects their fellow Hardyvillians propose for their own good.

The handout contains other examples, but those three illustrate the basic concept. Note how they each reinforce the Hardyville law code, the golden rule, and the non-aggression principle, which are essentially restatements of each other.

As I said, that's about as libertarian a legal code as is likely to exist anywhere.

Since I claim that Hardyville is not only a libertarian community, but that it has strong agorist tendencies, allow me to illustrate the agorist attitude of the citizens of Hardyville by briefly recapping the story of Red Lights Big Trouble.

One day, a county sheriff's deputy convinced some of the townspeople that Hardyville needed a red light camera for their one traffic light. As Claire explains it, "Next thing that happened, once we found out what was going on, was that, somehow, every morning, that camera just wasn't working. It was malfunctioning due to perfectly natural environmental factors, like spray paint. Or .22 LR bullets."

Not surprisingly, this caused some friction between the good folks of Hardyville and the county. After a few cycles of repair were followed by more environmental malfunctions, a couple of loyal Hardyvillians made a few adjustments to the camera. That Friday morning the townspeople who had promoted the idea of the red-light camera found that as soon as they entered the intersection, the light turned red.

Fortunately for the upholding of justice, other townspeople were on-hand to make citizen's arrests of the scofflaws and cart them off to the jail. Darned if even the sheriff's deputy who had come up with the idea didn't get caught. That had to be a big surprise.

Well, it turned out that a weekend in a jail cell with one pissed-off county sheriff's deputy convinced the townspeople they didn't really need a red-light camera after all.

Once more, let me turn to Claire for her version of the ensuing events. "The next Monday, as all Hardyville cheered in the street below, Bob-the-Nerd was lifted back to the top of the pole. He detached the camera, brought it down, and handed it over to Mrs. Nat. She runs the annual Tots and Pets with Santa photo fundraiser. The camera is now actually making money the old fashioned way. By earning it."

Now that's agorism in action, folks.

...and that's all I have to say about that.

Claire's 2010 book, Hardyville Tales, based on the Hardyville columns, is available direct from the publisher for $6.95, or autographed, directly from Claire, for $12. Of course, you can also use the overpriced link below if you've got more money than sense, but I just included it to show you a picture of the cover.

From the introduction: “Hardyville managed to scrape its way into the twenty-first century almost entirely without politicians, bureaucrats, or any of their Evil Spawn. It is, in other words, what America once had a chance to become — and didn’t.”

I have a few of Claire's other titles available in the Tireless Agorist Store.

My thanks to Claire Wolfe for allowing me to use Hardyville as an example of somewhere this Tireless Agorist would love to live.

1 The Apolitical Economic Superpower is an examination of how the philosophy of agorism is practiced by half the world's workforce, although they've never heard the term.

Other posts, such as The Largest Libertarian Society in History and The Lesson of Athens, Tennessee examine the power of groups of self-interested individuals uniting to protect their rights from encroachment, the concept that separates agorism from basic libertarian philosophy.

Still others, including Politics vs. the Productive, Defining the One Percent , On Law and Sausages - SOPA, PIPA and Cronyism, Libertarians - The True Pragmatists, The Perils of Paper Money, and The Great Depression of 1920 are pointed examinations of the impact that political power can have on the functioning of a free society.

1 comment:

  1. That other popular restatement of the non-aggression principle is from L. Neil Smith. He has since slightly reworded it, but I like the original, which you quoted, better.