[with apologies to Benjamin Tucker]
PART II. Karl Hess on the Left / Right spectrum:
The overall characteristic of a right-wing regime, no matter the details of difference between this one and that one, is that it reflects the concentration of power in the fewest practical hands.
Power, concentrated in few hands, is the dominant historic characteristic of what most people, in most times, have considered the political and economic right wing.
The far left, as far as you can get away from the right, would logically represent the opposite tendency and, in fact, has done just that throughout history. The left has been the side of politics and economics that opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.
PART III. Norm Pattis, reviewing a novel, The Oregon Experiment, about a “not-so-young college professor with a professional interest in anarchism [who] puts his theory into practice in Oregon”:
My heart belongs with anarchists everywhere. I can’t quite shake the sense that government is a hoax, especially now, when I see right and left posture about the debt ceiling. While these fools bob and weave and avoid any pragmatic sense of compromise, the rest of us sit helplessly by, watching, paying taxes and, at least for the believers among us, praying that the it all doesn’t come crashing down around our ears. Some part of me says bring the crash on. I’ve an active apocalyptic gene.
But I am also late-middle-aged, a man with mortgages, children now out of college, employees, a vast network of commitments in a social web that seems forever out of control, but just serviceable enough to provide an anchor. Like the politicians I abhor, I have become vested in a world that doesn’t work. I behold anarchy with something like a pleasing sense of horror: I want to see what happens when the walls come tumbling down; I just don’t want one of those walls to fall on me or my family.
The late Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3), in the New Libertarian Manifesto, coined the term “counter-economics” to describe the building of an economy outside the corporate-state nexus, and operating below its radar. The counter-economy would evade both state regulations and state taxation, starve the state of the revenues it needed to operate, and eventually supplant the corporate-state economy.
Unfortunately, SEK3 took too narrow a view of the counter-economy: rather than viewing illegality as a means to an end, he viewed it as an end in itself, and as the defining characteric of counter-economics. That approach is unsatisfactory, since it means we define our efforts in terms of the state rather than in terms of our own self-derived goals.
Indeed, the state’s own statism is a means to an end, and defined largely in relation to our own self-determined goals: to prevent us from supporting ourselves in comfort, independently of the corporate-state nexus and wage employment, and from receiving the full product of our labor.
If counter-economics is the means, we should also remember that the means is the end in progress. Evading the state is not an end in itself; it is, rather, a means of accomplishing what we would want to accomplish for its own sake, even if the state never existed. Counter-economics is the building of the kind of society and economy we want right now. And if we define it that way, it dovetails nicely with many similar concepts prevalent on the libertarian, decentralist Left: counter-institutions, dual power, and (that wonderful Wobbly slogan) “building the foundation of the new society within the shell of the old.”