Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Accidental Agorists Rebuild A Road

Here's the story of a community getting together to repair a road, bridge and all, because the government couldn't or wouldn't get the job done and they weren't willing to set around and watch their livelihoods destroyed. What this Tireless Agorist finds most interesting is that they don't even realize they're agorists, or that they're involved in a voluntaryist, entrepreneurial, counter-economic political demonstration of direct action, as surely as Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters on the Salt March. This is how the world will change.
Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii's Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park -- for free.

Polihale State Park has been closed since severe flooding destroyed an access road to the park and damaged facilities in December.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources had estimated that the damage would cost $4 million to fix, money the agency doesn't have, according to a news release from department Chairwoman Laura Thielen.
The state couldn't get it done for at least two years, so Ivan Slack, owner of one of many businesses reliant on the park, went looking for volunteers.
So Slack, other business owners and residents made the decision not to sit on their hands and wait for state money that many expected would never come. Instead, they pulled together machinery and manpower and hit the ground running March 23.

And after only eight days, all of the repairs were done, Pleas said. It was a shockingly quick fix to a problem that may have taken much longer if they waited for state money to funnel in.
"We shouldn't have to do this, but when it gets to a state level, it just gets so bureaucratic, something that took us eight days would have taken them years," said Troy Martin of Martin Steel, who donated machinery and steel for the repairs. "So we got together -- the community -- and we got it done."
Now they're just waiting for the state to certify the repairs and reopen the park. The story does not report the actual cost to make the repairs. Some businesses donated the machinery and materials necessary to repair the access road and a bridge that was a major part of the project. Around 30 volunteers worked on the 8-day project. Other local businesses chipped in and provided meals for all the workers who volunteered their time.

But look at the things that didn't happen. No groveling before the bureaucracy for a permit. No endless televised hearings with pontificating politicians, no protests, no long involved process getting the plans approved. Just concerned citizens getting together and solving a problem that was important to all of them.

All in all, an excellent textbook example of agorism as I defined it in the Hardyville column mentioned below.
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.
If you've read Agorism, Country Style, in Hardyville you know how the folks in Claire Wolfe's fictional rural community handled the appearance of a red light camera on the only red light in town. It brings to mind what happened in Hawaii. No pleading for a permit, no hearings, no protests, no long involved process. The people got together and solved the problem, permanently, on their own. End of story.

There should be a plaque placed at this bridge, reminiscent of the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA. "Here the first battle of the Second American Revolution was won." (Strictly speaking, it's not the first battle, but allow me some poetic license.)

Alexis DeTocqueville was not only a cogent observer and historian, but also a prophet of the Second American Revolution, as he illustrated in Democracy in America, Ch. 4: Of Political Association in the United States, written in 1835.
The inhabitant of the United States learns from birth that he must depend on himself in the struggle against the ills and difficulties of life; he looks upon social authority [the state] only with a defiant and uneasy eye, and calls upon its power only when he cannot do without it. ...The same spirit is found in all the actions of social life. An obstruction occurs on the public road; the way is interrupted; traffic stops; the neighbors soon get together as a deliberative body; out of this improvised assembly will come an executive power that will remedy the difficulty, before the idea of an authority pre-dating that of those interested has occurred to anyone’s imagination...
In closing, I'd like to borrow Claire Wolfe's words once again, while raising a toast to the Hardyvillians of Polihale State Park, Hawaii. "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."

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


  1. Now it sounds like the next step is for the residents to take ownership of the park instead of waiting for the state to "certify" the repairs and reopen the park. Otherwise they may not have gained anything.

    1. Baby steps, Kent. They don't even realize the importance of what they've done yet... but give them a little time. I'm a bit hopeful that the state will drag its feet on the "certification" and they'll do exactly that.

  2. Indeed, Don... especially if the "state" decides that they must deconstruct it since they didn't get "permits." I would imagine that the state road crew unions will have their panties in a bunch as well.

    Please keep us posted if you will. This could get interesting. :)