Op Ed: Bitcoin’s Konkin Effect
I have long been a voracious reader, a habit that I picked up from my father at a very early age. Over the years I’ve developed an appetite for libertarian-themed books as a means of further exploring my interests in sovereign living.
Recently, I began reading an autobiographical book entitled Mostly On The Edge by the libertarian anarchist Karl Hess. This led me to the work of libertarian theorist Samuel Edward Konkin III who was best known for his personal slant on anarcho-capitalism called Agorism. In my opinion, Konklin’s views offer an interesting set of perspectives relative to the genesis and evolution of Bitcoin.
The New Libertarian Manifesto, a book he published in 1980 helped popularize Agorism, espouses the advancement of voluntary exchange on the black market in order to create social change. Agorism, by the way, ensues from the Greek term agora, meaning “open marketplace.”
“Counter-economics” is the name Konkin gave to this type of activity, espousing the use of libertarian economic institutions and enterprises to upend the prevailing model of state intervention and control.
Agorists view this model as a form of nonviolent direct action, simultaneously circumventing state power, in the process of building a non-authoritarian world based on untethered voluntary exchange and personal sovereignty. Here counter-economics acknowledges a significant barrier to freedom that many of us already unwittingly fall prey to, namely, the endless set of rules, regulations, and licenses that strangle free markets and voluntaristic exchange.
With the growing popularity of Bitcoin, Konkin’s views have in more recent times experienced a revival. Many cryptocurrency advocates view today’s emerging digital ecosystem as sort of a counter-economy, one that holds great potential for altering and potentially supplanting the prevailing models of money.
In short, The New Libertarian Manifesto seems to suggest that the growth of an underground economy outside of government control will eventually fuel statist attempts to initiate force against black markets to squash them. What’s interesting here is that black market economies have grown to the point to where governments are in an all-out war to harness their unrelenting growth and momentum.
By way of example, dark web sales have witnessed an explosion of interest since the conviction of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, whose platform was best known for the sale of illegal drugs. This underscores the amazing capacity of the social order to manage itself amid attempts at authoritarian control.
While I do believe that online activities like identity theft and sex trafficking should be criminalized, victimless trade within grey and black markets of goods, services, and even ideas in my view should be given free reign as a means of creating wealth and opportunity.
The beauty of Bitcoin is that its decentralized nature allows freedom and voluntary exchange to prosper in an underground marketplace. As an alternative, digital, pseudonymous, and transferable store of value I believe it has the potential to eventually dismantle authoritarian power and centralized government systems throughout the world.