Article originally featured on the Freedom’s Phoenix E-Zine.
End the Fed: A Strategic Analysis – Politics vs. Agorism
By: John Bush
Thanks largely to the work of Dr. Ron Paul, the issue of whether or not we ought to audit or end the fed has broken through to the mainstream. Led by a coalition of die hard liberty activists, Austrian economists, and sound money enthusiasts, more and more people are convinced that the Fed should be abolished as it is not only unnecessary and unconstitutional, it is also detrimental to prosperity and economic freedom. The question naturally arises amongst those crazy enough to want to work towards achieving the goal of ending the Fed, how do we do it?
A Tale of Two Tactics
While there is more than one way to skin a cat, for our purposes we will only be focusing on two strategies for ending the Fed, the political strategy and the agorist strategy. The political strategy is reactive and seeks to compete within the system in order to end the fed from the inside. The agorist strategy is proactive and seeks to create alternative institutions which will end the fed by competing with it. As we shall see, while both strategies compliment one another, only one method will bring about the change necessary to truly end the Fed and ensure it is not merely replaced by something worse.
Competing Within the System
The political approach to ending the Fed involves politicians and activists working within the system to pass legislation and enact policies in order to bring about an audit of the Fed, potentially ending it indirectly. Politicians and activists are also working to directly end the Fed by repealing the Federal Reserve Act or by other similar means. While this approach has much educational value as many Americans are actively watching and learning from the political process, it seems to be doomed to failure from the onset. As G. Edward Griffin points out in his book, the Creature from Jekyll Island, the Federal Reserve System is a mutually beneficial partnership between the banking cartel and the U.S. Congress. The Federal Reserve Act was passed not only for the benefit of the banks, but for the benefit of Congress and the rest of the Federal Government as well. Thanks to the Fed, USA Inc. has access to the printing press and with it the ability to fund their pet projects and bailout their buddies without having to raise taxes (except for the inflation tax, but nobody knows about that one anyways). Why would the political powers that be want to take away their access to the magic money machine? Whether they sign on to an Audit the Fed Bill only to bail on the effort later, in the end, those in power never voluntarily give up their own power, especially if that power helps them stay in office.
Also worth mentioning are political efforts at the state level with the goal of establishing state banks and currencies. It is certainly preferable to have multiple competing state-run banks issuing currency to the people, however, as often occurs when governments operate banks, the few benefit at the expense of the many. This strategy also fails to strike at the root of the matter (the issuance of a single currency by a coercive monopoly run institution) as it advocates for the creation of the same thing it is fighting against, only on a smaller scale. While the political approach at both the state and federal level does well to educate the public about the ills of the Federal Reserve and multiple competing government run banks are preferable to one government run bank, ultimately this strategy to end the Fed leaves much to be desired.
Competing With the System
The second and more viable strategy to end the Fed is through agorism (AKA revolutionary market anarchism). Agorism is a libertarian strategy that focuses not on competing within the state to change it, but competing with the state to ultimately replace it’s coercive hierarchical systems with a system based on mutually beneficial voluntary associations. In order to accomplish this goal, Samuel Edward Konkin, the father of agorism and author of the New Libertarian Manifesto, encourages activists to participate in and grow what he called the counter-economy. The counter economy consists of those market transactions, goods, or services prohibited by law (the black market) and those market transactions, goods, or services that are only deemed legal if you first ask government for permission (the gray market). The idea is to grow the wholly voluntary counter-economy, including competing institutions of defense meant to protect agorists from state intervention, to the point where one day the freed market of the counter-economy rises in favor in the minds of the masses and competes the state out of existence.
Rather than waiting for the Congress to end their own access to the magic money machine, an agorist approach to ending the fed would have activists immediately taking steps to end the fed themselves by limiting their use of Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) and by creating and participating in competing currencies and parallel institutions. Take note that the strategy of agorism does not require activists to wait for legal tender laws to be repealed before they begin competing with the Fed, it only recommends that they take necessary precautions to shield themselves from state abuse should the iron fist of government come crashing down upon them. While the prospect of state retaliation may be a major factor in preventing activists from taking the agorist path, remember, if you have to ask permission or wait for legislation to be passed before you can exercise your natural right to voluntary exchange, you are only cementing the state’s authority over you and ultimately proving how unfree you truly are.
Consistency is Key!
In the New Libertarian Manifesto, Samuel Edward Konkin wrote, “the consistent application of the theory of libertarianism to every action the individual libertarian takes creates the libertarian society.” This maxim could not be more true when it comes to ending the Fed here in America.
It is often said in libertarian circles that Federal Reserve Notes have no value as the FRN is a fiat currency. While this notion may hold some water, I would argue that FRNs carry with them the value ascribed to them by those using the FRN as a medium of exchange. However manipulated or inflated the FRNs may be, they are nonetheless worth something to the individual receiving the FRNs. If FRNs were totally worthless, no rational actor would trade goods or services for them unless they believed their goods or services to be worth less than nothing.
If the only value as a medium of exchange FRNs have is the value attributed to them by those using FRNs in market transactions and as a means of storing value, then why do those seeking to end the fed continue to empower the Fed by saving and exchanging the currency of the Fed? Those seeking to end the Fed often fail to take in to account the fact that every time they use FRNs they are in fact empowering the Fed by continuing to give value to it’s currency. In a way, those using FRNs are indirectly responsible for perpetuating the existence of the Fed and allowing it to be further used to fund wars of aggression abroad and the creation of a police state at home. It is difficult, but if we are to reach our goal of ending the Fed, we must live our lives in a manner more consistent with our stated ends.
The development of alternative mediums of exchange becomes all the more crucial when one is aware that those in power perpetually use of the Problem-Reaction-Solution tactic. This tactic occurs when individuals or groups create a problem, expecting a negative reaction from the public, with the intention of offering a pre-determined solution that serves the ends of the manipulators rather than the ends of the people.
It is entirely possible that many banking elites would be perfectly content to witness the end of the Fed. They are well aware that without a viable alternative already in place, America would be in a state of total chaos should a currency crisis ensue. A dramatic decline in the value of the medium of exchange used by the people would be quite the problem to which the reaction would not be pretty. And to whom do you think most will look to for the solution? None other than the same crooks who caused the problem in the first place. The global banking elite are already spreading the use of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and floating the idea of a North American currency. It is not out of the realm of possibilities for them to be sitting and waiting for the right crises to ensue in order to make their push for the further centralization of power. As Rahm Emmanuel, ex-Chief of Staff to President Obama said, “you can never let a good crisis go to waste.”
The banking elite are like the mafia. They come in, occupy a restaurant, in this case USA Cafe, run up the credit on the place knowing they won’t be able to cover the bill, and when the chickens come home to roost, they burn the mother fucker down. We are at that stage with the FRN. The banking cartel took root in this country, ran up the credit while fattening their pockets and building a police state at home and a military and economic empire abroad, and now they are lighting the match. Rather than wait for the establishment to offer another centralized statist solution like an IMF SDR or a currency backed by the U.S. Treasury Department, why not begin creating competing currencies and alternative institutions now? That way, when bottom drops out, people will have multiple fully functional free market currencies to turn to, instead being forced to rely on the next big statist monopoly boondoggle.
Applying the Philosophy
It is understandably difficult to fathom the possibility of living without the use of FRNs. Afterall, most of us are paid with FRNs, we buy groceries with FRNs, we buy gas with FRNs, how can we possibly avoid the use FRNs!?! While it takes a dramatic change in one’s lifestyle in order to fully wean oneself off the FRN, it can be done. For those not interested in making that large change over night, in the short term, do what you can to limit your dependency on the use of FRNs. Contribute less and less to the evil that is the Federal Reserve System and not only will you make the possibility of ending it more feasible, you also won’t be contributing to it’s existence!
Five things you can do to limit your use of FRNs in 2012
1. Barter – One of the easiest things you can do to limit your use of FRNs is to engage in barter. If you have a good or service to offer, find someone willing to trade what you have for what you need. This method allows you to skip the need for a medium of exchange all together and assists you in reducing your cost of living and need for more income (FRNs), which also helps when the IRS comes a knockin. For example, I have a barter relationship with a local farmers market where I exchange marketing and promotional services for frozen meals and vegetables. My lady and I also have participated in labor share programs at local farms where you put in a days worth of labor and get out a big box of fresh veggies. In order to find people looking to barter in your area, perform an internet search with your city’s name and “barter network” in the search bar. You will find that in most cities there are already thriving barter networks. If your area does not have a barter network, be the first to start one!
2. Silver coins as a medium of exchange – While barter is an excellent way to reduce your dependence on FRNs, in some instances it is difficult to find a match of wants and needs within a barter network. People often need a sound medium of exchange in order to engage in some market transactions. Most will instinctively turn to the good ol’ FRN to fulfill this purpose. Others however are using a more dependable medium of exchange – enter the silver coin! Liberty communities across the country are actively exchanging goods and services using silver as a medium of exchange. Down in Austin we launched the Black and Yellow Pages (http://blackandyellowpages.biz) which is a business listing of like minded businesses and services that accept silver and/or barter. In New Hampshire they have the Shire Exchange (http://www.shireexchange.com/) which is fulfilling the needs of activists and other New Hampshire residents without the use of the FRN.
To help facilitate the trade of silver, liberty entrepreneurs are even creating their own silver currencies. The folks at Shire Silver (http://shiresilver.com/) up in New Hampshire are producing laminated cards with strips of silver and gold in them that are useable at outlets across the country. The guys out at Freedom’s Phoenix (http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/) in Phoenix, AZ are taking pre-1964 dimes (which are comprised of 90% silver) and other “junk” silver and putting them in laminated cards with catchy and flashy logos. On the backside of the card you will find a chart explaining the real value of the older silver American minted coins. They are currently being spread and used all across the country. Visit DontTreadOnMeme.com to get a hold of some of the dime cards to share and trade with your community (http://donttreadonmeme.com/).
3. Competing currencies – Already in existence thanks to many lefty and anarcho-socialist efforts are thousands of local competing currencies. Some are based on labor hours, others on commodities like vegetables or land, and some are even based on promises to redeem certain goods or services in the future. In order to find such a currency in your area, hit the Internet and enter your city along with key words such as “competing currency”, “labor dollar”, or “local currency”. If you cannot find one in your area, get to researching and start one of your own!
4. Reduce your cost of living – Still another way to reduce your dependency on FRNs is to lower your cost of living. One way to accomplish this task is to engage in barter whereby no money or income is needed, only your labor or goods you already have. One may also consider getting rid of their smart phone with its $100 monthly bill and picking up a pay as you go phone, starting a garden and reduce your monthly grocery bill while benefiting your family’s health, buying a mint condition used car instead of getting on another bank note, and/or no longer buying coffee at Starbucks everyday and instead making it at home. There are a countless number of things you can do to reduce your cost of living so as to limit your future use of FRNs. I believe most of the reductions can be chosen so as to actually increase your standard of living by allowing you to enjoy a more simple and easy life. For more on this strategy as it pertains to avoiding the income tax, check out the DON (Don’t Owe Nothing ) Method: (http://sniggle.net/Experiment/index5.php?entry=howto)
5. Build Community – Most important of all is the need to build community. Not only should we be looking to like minded liberty lovers first when we have a job that needs to be done or a service that needs to be performed, but we must also commit to aiding each other should one of us fall victim to the evil hand of the state. While peacefully trading amongst one another may seem as natural as the sky, in some cases it poses a threat to the authority and power of those pulling the strings of the monopoly institutions. We must exercise caution when engaging in agorism and participating in the counter-economy. However, we cannot allow the specter of state abuse to prevent us from ceasing the empowerment of the very system that seeks to enslave us and our posterity. Find comfort in the fact that there is strength in numbers, there is strength in unity, and there is strength in truth. We have all three of these things and as long as we act in a manner consistent with our inherent freedom, we will find liberty in our lifetime.
Living the Dream in 2012
As we enter 2012, it is all the more evident that the veil of legitimacy has been lifted from the ugly face of the Federal Reserve System. As you go forward this year, every time you are about to hand over a crumply and green value losing Federal Reserve Note, ask yourself – is it absolutely necessary that I use FRNs as a medium of exchange in this particular instance? Is the convenience worth my participation in perpetuating a system that has done more harm to humankind than most known to man? Is there a way to obtain this good or service without using FRNs? Take the time to reconsider your purchase and research the alternatives. You just may find another person like you who is ready to take that next step towards agorism and willing to fix your leaky toilet for you in exchange for piano lessons. You may just find the counter economy is already alive and well in your community.
If you really want to end the Fed, rather than asking your Congressman to sponsor a bill, ask a local farmer if he needs a hand on the farm and can spare some extra veggies or ask the local hardware store manager if he’s willing to accept silver coins in exchange for the goods he has for sale. Take proactive steps to limit your use of the Federal Reserve Note while building and participating in competing currencies and alternative institutions and soon you will find that the Federal Reserve has ended itself!