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Sunday, September 20, 2015
The Road to Panarchy: An Interview with Joe Kopsick
The Road to Panarchy:
An Interview with Joe Kopsick
could you introduce yourself and how you came to promote and understand
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.
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, glass and Lego mosaics, and pipe cleaner art).
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.
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.
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).
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”
(in a manner of speaking) 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.
you please define 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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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 Non-Aggression 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).
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.
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.
supporter of the Natural Law (as opposed to legal positivism), I believe that
in order to diminish the apparent need of government – and the need for 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
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.
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.
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.
do you think a Panarchistic world would come about?
are several ways in which a Panarchistic world would come about. Above all,
they involve respecting property and possessions (legitimately acquired),
and resorting to physical conflict only after all attempts to pursue friendly
and amicable difference, debate, and argument have been exhausted.
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.
1) 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.
2) 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, although 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
3) 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 for the gift / trade / barter / share
economy – and also 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., the 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
deferential 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
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
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
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
“aligning people with profits” (as former Libertarian Party presidential
candidate Gary Johnson says). We must not assume that all uses of the word
“private” connote operation for-profit. Nothing would nor should prohibit
Dispute Resolution Organizations (D.R.O.s) 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, and rent) as available, free, and
legal as possible. The desire to reap a modest and reasonable profit should
always supersede 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.
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.
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).
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?
cannot be implemented overnight; rather, it is to be achieved, gradually and
methodically, as (by which I mean “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.
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 (that is, civilized, or “political”). Support for
Geo-Mutualism must first occur on an interpersonal level through peaceful
discussion and convincing rhetoric, 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.
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
A community built on the principles of mutuality,
reciprocity, freedom, and brotherhood should desire that all “tax” revenue be
obtained through voluntary giving. Failing that (failure being practically a
certainty, especially in early stages of transition), implementing a unanimous
or nearly-unanimous decision-making process could supplant and suffice for such
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 everyday 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.
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.
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.
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.
1) 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”);
2) 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
3) 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 trusts.
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.
modern technologies and cultural paradigms do you feel are opening up
opportunities for panarchistic trends to emerge?
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.
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 too often rewards the use of
scientific laws rather than the creation of unique and original innovations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
that anarchists, and those who still have some hope in the Occupy movement,
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.
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
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
would note that Mark Hilgenberg of Utah is an excellent resource on emerging
technologies that are likely to have positive impacts on human freedom.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
we be able to appreciate Schoenberg's use of all twelve tones of the chromatic scale to create dizzying, unsettling, and jarring effects in the listener. Nor could we appreciate Freddie Mercury's frequent use of the F# key, which utilizes mostly black keys, and is
180 degrees (that is, six half-steps, or three full-steps) removed from the traditional setting of songs in the key of C. Nor could we appreciate the frequent key-shifts in “Mack the Knife”, popularized by Bobby Darin, nor other uses of key-shifting and pitch-shifting by other musicians.
All of 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.
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.
community would not necessarily be a geographical, territorially-bound one,
unless the entire anarchist community (in addition to the bioregionalist Cascadia
Movement) comes to embrace bioregionalism. Communities would be organized
locally, and on the basis of already-existing common principles, traditions,
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
further developed a Social Networking group for people who have personally
suffered from being mistakenly called “fascists”.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
discussions with mutualist Derek Wittorff, I discovered that some leftists (particularly
Wittorff himself) 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.
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.
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.
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
system of distributory planning) still exists; perhaps best personified by the
conflict between Noam Chomsky and the brick wall that he creates between his almost
secret admiration of Adam Smith, and his progressive and libertarian-socialist
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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!
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.
It is civic
values – such as support for the Bill of Rights, and the civil liberties
enumerated within – which should bond a geographically-linked society; rather
than ethnic, racial, or religious cultural values. When I see that the liberal
embrace of racial integration has given so much headway to the notion that
immigrants to this country should be expected to assimilate, I cannot help but
feel outraged, nor can I help but ask what it is that they should be
assimilating to, given the history of liberal failure to support the freedoms
that are supposed to unite us.
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
(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.
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
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 Jünger, 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
I do not claim to speak for all libertarians, nor can I say that I am part of
the “libertarian movement”, nor 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.
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
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.
range from government employees like former congressman Ron Paul and former
judge Andrew Napolitano, whom 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.
range from enthusiastic Gary Johnson supporters who want a flat sales-tax
system, to geo-libertarians who want to abolish all sales taxes, 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.
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.
enthusiastically pro-market or “right-anarchist” Panarchist tendencies include
1) 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;
2) market-anarchism more generally,
exemplified by theorists such as Gustave de Molinari, Robert P. Murphy, and
Linda and Morris Tannehill;
3) Anarchism Without Adjectives that coexists
with individual anarchism, promoted by Voline (or Volin, or V. M. Eikhenbaum),
Sebastien de Faure, and Voltairine de Cleyre;
4) left-libertarian-leaning expressions of
Agorism supporting the existence of “Agorist syndicates”, articulated by the
likes of J. Neil Schulman and Wally Conger;
5) 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
6) John Zube's staunchly voluntaryist modern
expression of Panarchism.
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:
1) The Anarchism Without Adjectives of
anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker;
2) Anarchism without Adjectives that focuses
on economic experimentation within anarchist communes, promoted by Errico
3) the original Panarchism of Paul Emile de
Puydt, who proposed a civil registry office called a “Bureau of Political
4) the National Personal Autonomy or National
Personal Sovereignty of Austromarxists Otto Bauer and Vladimir Medem;
5) “Functional Overlapping and Competing
Jurisdictions”, a form of direct democracy proposed by Bruno Frey and Reiner P.
6) Will Schnack's henocentric “Geo-Mutualist
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
one find out more about your work?
all my writing on my Blogspot blog, which is at www.aquarianagrarian.blogspot.com. The blog was started in 2010, and features writing from 2004 to
present, most of which was written since 2009. On it, I discuss radical
political and economic ideas, political and moral philosophy, election and
other statistics, and religion.
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. http:///twitter.com/socialmarketpdx?lang=en
your current projects?
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”.
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
The next pieces I'm planning on publishing are a
market-based criticism of Karl Marx's The 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 242-sided one.
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 books of my collected
essays – as well as my upcoming books A Jewish and Democratic State and The
Obama Murders – in printed book form.
Interview Questions Asked by Wayne Sturgeon on February 3rd, 2015
Responses Written between April 4th and 9th,
and Between Mid-September to September 21st, 2015
Edited on January 9th, 2016, March 19th, 2017, and January 24th and February 12th, 2019