A sketch of SEK3: Founder of Agorism

There's been some great discussion on the blog lately about Agorism. I thought I'd share this exerpt about Samuel Edward Konkin III, founder of Agorism, from the book Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green by Ulrike Heider. Her sardonic tone (she is arguing that market anarchy represents a dangerous departure from her true eco-anarchist values) and infamiliarity, as a German social radical, with American libertarianism, combines with the apparent eccentricity of SEK3 and his lifestyle, to make this an entertaining read.

The main figure of the MLL (Movement of the Libertarian Left) is Samuel Edward Konkin III. A "leftist" anarcho-capitalist who lives in Long Beach, California, a city where miles of white sand beaches provide the backdrop for an eerie skyline of innumerable oil rigs and towers--which perhaps explains in part why Konkin III, who is an avid sicence-fiction fan, chose this city as the site for his so-called anarcho-village and his Agorist Institute (from the Greek agora marketplace). I had pictured the anarcho-village as a kind of free-trader colony of young aspiring businessmen. I found Konkin's street in a neigborhood of shabby, flat-roofed houses and rang the bell; the door was opened by a young Latino who showed me into a tiny apartment consiting of a single room. I thought I must be in wrong place-aren't libertarians supposed to be comfortable, if not affluent? A quick phone call revealed that Konkin III lived in a similar hosue next door which was part of the anarcho-village comprising five aprtments in the neigborhood. Konkin III's appearnce was as unconvetional as his dwelling was makeshift. He is a Canadian in his early forties, of stately stature, hair combed back close to his head. Dressed entirely in black, wiht a turtleneck sweater, a metal belt, cowboy boots, and a silver medallion around his neck, he looks like a cross between a leather guy, a catholic priest , and a romantic fascist. He announced proudly that he was preparing "real German coffee" and introduced me to two other inhabitants of the anarcho-village, who tried to speak German with me. A poster of Trotsky adorned a wall. Konkin III explained to me that Murray Rothabard, who likes to think of himself as the Lenin of the libertarians, once comapred him to Trotsky. Despite what I expected from their individualism, as typified, for instance by Ayn Rand's characters, the inhabitants of the anarcho-village apppeared to be as poor as church mice, and as sociable as bohemian collectivists.

Konkin III belives that the black market is the key to abolition of the state and the creation of a pure laissez-faire society. He considers himself a "theoretician and practician of countereconomics" and cultivates the image of a rebel. Any illegal act is sacred to him, evein if it is merely jaywalking. "We break the lawn," he then declared passionately. The Agorist Institute, the headquarters of the MLL, is located in an office buliding in downtown Long Beach, a city whose numerous palm trees lend it a tropical flair. The office consists of two cramped rooms equippped with two computers. Science-fiction posters cover the walls. The institute, I learned, is "technically legal," a non-profit, tax-deductible project "supproted by libertarian business people who feel guilty for being too honest and legal." But the movement publication, the New Libertarian Magazine, is "completely countereconomic," he says. It unequivocally breaks the law, simply by printing the stock market index without being registered wit the state. At the end of the interview, Konkin III presented me with the organization's official brassard: a white cicle on a red background, with a black flag above the letters MLL, encircled by the words "agora," "anarchy," and "action". To me, both the color combination and the design were somewhat reminiscent of fascist emblems, and the movement's acronym could have had a Stalinist model. Konkin III, who hinted that his political beginnings had been in the "far right," studied during the late 1960s in Wisconsin, a state with a strong German heritage. Converted to laissez-faire anarchism by Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and by the expulsion of the YAF's libertarian fraction [sic], he and three yippies founded a libertarian group at the university. He told the yippies thaty they could throw as many rocks as they wanted, as long as they threw them only at government buildings, not at privatete corporations or businesses.

Share this

Thanks for transcribing

Thanks for transcribing this, Ben. Hopefully I've post some thoughts on Konkin's Manifesto in the next few days.

Principles of Agorism

Whacky former Trotskyites live like hobos under the tolerant protection of the mighty Eagle who guards their freedom. They accuse her of being a predator but consume her leavings. She rolls her eyes as they try and sneak up behind her to pull on her feathers.

The mighty Eagle who guards

The mighty Eagle who guards their freedom? What are you, John Ashcroft's voice coach?