“There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
This statement has become the rallying cry of both the radical and the complacent. To the complacent, it is a statement to shield them from all concern of wrongdoing. It is the system that is wrong, and not the individual who operates within it, and thus they are not to concern themselves with attempting to fix their behaviors. Capitalism causes smokestacks. Capitalism causes oil mining. Capitalism causes animals to be maliciously slaughtered and exploited for profit, they say. The complacent claims themselves incapable of helpful change – capitalism’s greed is the best we’ve got. To the radical, it is a recognition that simple “green” capitalism cannot do, that no ethics can be consistent while hierarchy and greed persists, that our behaviors and our organization must be changed, and until this happens, the world is falling asunder as we speak.
But to support the alternative seems near impossible without further damaging the ecosystem. To participate in trades that exist outside the fringe of the state’s approval could potentially put one in the same market as those who murder or capture endangered animals and poach plants and enslave others to sell on illegally for their own profit. The radical and the complacent seem caught in a pickle. They are stuck between environmental, social, and moral demolition in the underground and environmental, social, and moral destruction in the light. There seems no clear way to avoid it outside using the state.
Yet the capitalist and the state are such bedfellows that it is impossible to tear them apart, and in the end, the capitalist always wins. There remain little alternatives but to craft a new, clean, and anti-capitalist counter-economy, outside of the reach of the politician or the corporate powers that be.
How can such a market be reached?
The counter-economy is much more susceptible to the whims of competition than is corporate capitalism. As such, to reach a clean and anti-capitalist counter-economy, almost all it will need is an influx of environmentally minded anti-capitalist actors.
This new counter-economy will need buyers who ask about ethical trading and sourcing. As someone who is familiar with the counter-economy, there is almost always an ethically sourced alternative, and more are popping up. The only issue? Many who operate in these markets currently just don’t care. So for the new counter-economist, it is best to always ask.
These buyers will also need to care about how they pay, if they do. As referenced in prior articles, while crypto currencies like Bitcoin are fairly popular for underground trading, they are wildly energy-inefficient. Meanwhile, there are other new currencies, such as NANO, XRH, ADA, and the upcoming Duniter, which are low-energy due to their usage of a system called proof-of-stake. An eco-conscious buyer will have to search for sellers with the lowest carbon footprint, or those willing to trade without crypto.
Just as much as this new system will need a green-minded, anti-capitalist set of buyers, it will need an eco-conscious set of sellers. While there are new cooperatives operating underground due to regulation on the creation of these businesses, there will need to be more operating in industries with high amounts of demand. Former business based on violence and exploitation will need consensual, non-violent alternatives. Former businesses run in underground sweatshops will need cheaper, cooperatively run models to compete with them (and if possible, people capable of recruiting former sweatshop workers). Former environment-saving projects will have to be done with equal vigor in the dark as they were in the light.
All of this seems radical – impossible even – but it is already happening. Some young entrepreneurs have been in talks to sell 3-d printed ivory tusks at competitive rates, and beat the poachers at their own game, while community militias have sprung up to protect the elephants. Meanwhile, I can confirm that many sellers, although they may not mention names, will tell you where and how their product came to be if people ask. If permaculture also stays a mostly underground movement, it may be that plant poaching will be meeting its match soon as well. Through ethical alternatives almost alone, massive unethical trade groups are meeting their match.
In terms of cryptocurrency, as demand for eco-conscious trading becomes mainstream, the low-energy NANO is being looked at by popular sites as a new way of doing business, and democratically operated versions are soon to follow suit. Although this is only a rumor, it’s stated that Coinbase may even be adding it to their list, as new as it is.
And as for buyers, gray market beekeeping, gardening, and most surprisingly to me, raw-milk selling cooperatives, are popping up in local villages and towns. Where the state-wielding capitalists have tried to keep these cooperatives and individuals regulated, they have not disappeared, nor lost heart, but have only moved where the government’s flashlight doesn’t shine very brightly. The push for local buying has only strengthened these. These days, rarely do we even consider getting our honey and vegetables from our neighbors to be radical, whether we do it through a gift economy, a direct trade, or cash-only. Yet this alone could be the undoing of the entire state structure.
As pollution becomes mainstream, even government-sanctioned, saving the environment has become the radical’s position. As more radicals come to be, they will seek more radical means. The more radicals seek these radical means, the more likely it is that a clean counter-economy could become an unstoppable force in the battle against a changing climate, one untaxed alternative at a time.
Personally, I’m just as big on mesh networks and environmental sustainability as I am on p2p trade networks. The green energy advocate and the cryptocurrency user seem worlds apart. Yet both communities need to be talking about NANO.
But why should a green-energy advocate care about a cryptocurrency, and how energy efficient is it, really?
To answer that, we need to first look at where Bitcoin failed, and where NANO is fixing the problem.
Bitcoin had potential. With its original lack of centralization, low transaction fees, and fast transaction speed combined with relative anonymity in purchasing, Bitcoin could have been the cryptocurrency to demolish the central banking system once and for all, and transform currency and our entire market structure into a free market system.
But it didn’t.
In fact, where fees were originally less than a cent, even a $40 transaction can now have the equivalent of a $4 fee attached. Where there was a lack of central authority and general equality, there are now bitcoin whales and banks. Where there were near-instant transaction speeds, there are now sometimes days of waiting for trade confirmation.
And while all this is happening, Bitcoin is so energy-inefficient that it 950 KWH (kilowatt-hours) per transaction. To most people, that’s just a number. So for comparison, the average American household consumes 867 KWH per month.
NANO does not have the same problem of centralization as Bitcoin does, or even a regular blockchain-based cryptocurrency, because NANO uses a system called the block-lattice. With the block-lattice, every person has their own blockchain.
It’s very similar, in that respect, to mutual credit - a term the left-libertarians may recognize. In fact, it’s extremely similar, because it practically only exists between the sender and the receiver.
(There is an actual mutual credit cryptocurrency, which I will do a post about later.)
So how do they avoid someone lying about how much NANO they have? Like regular blockchain money, NANO does have a puzzle that the computer has to solve in order to validate. However, it’s been set up to be both energy-efficient for your computer and made extremely hard and time-consuming for someone to try to spam or hack the network. Here’s a video explaining it a little better, also with closed captions.
So how energy-efficient is NANO, and why do I call it a green crypto? NANO, unlike bitcoin, only consumes 0.000032 KWH per transaction. An LED light-bulb, comparitively takes an hour to consume 0.005 KWH. Essentially, you would need to be making about 150 NANO transactions an hour to consume the same energy.
And because all the coins that are in NANO are still there, and will not be added to, it will never get less energy-efficient.
And right now, that makes NANO over 8,467,023 times more efficient than Bitcoin, which surprisingly is still more energy efficient than the Federal Reserve.
The whole network is so energy-efficient that it can work off one wind turbine, and the NANO community is working to buy a small 14 square kilometer forest so that they have a negative carbon footprint rather than just a neutral one.
It’s not perfect, sure, but it’s great news in working towards a sustainable future.
Agorism is, as according to its founder, Samuel Edward Konkin III, a left-market anarchist philosophy, the pursuit of a stateless society in which "[a]ll relations between people are voluntary exchanges - a free market. No one will injure another or trespass in any way." It does not matter to the agorist what the government thinks of their voluntary exchanges, or their mutual aid, or their gift economy. If they wish for a free society, they must make it now, in the bones of the old.
Yet, agorism is certainly different from other concepts of a "free market". Many claims to such a market society envision something that looks not too different from what we currently live in. Konkin, on the other hand, envisioned something revolutionary.
One of the major differences that Konkin wrote about early on to clearly differentiate his revolutionary left-market anarchism and Murray Rothbard’s anarcho-capitalism was the agorist belief in a decentralized, non-hierarchical society led by self-employed worker-entrepreneurs – a freed market devoid of theft, of coercion, and thus by association, the phantasm of wage labor.
To justify this claim, I must clarify what I am meaning by wage labor. Agorist theory proposes that our current marketplace’s hierarchy isn’t the result of freedom at all, but of the state-capitalists’ stronghold and monopoly on property through private property titles granted by the state. These titles often have absolutely no relation to labor added, voluntary trade, occupancy, or use of the claimed property. Only the state’s existence holds them up.
Due to their manipulation of the state for their own benefit, they have stifled the worker’s ability to provide for themselves in a state-approved manner. To make up for this, the capitalist gives the workers back only a small portion of their labor – a wage. They take the rest, minus cost, as profit.
But this need not be the case. As stated by Benjamin Tucker in State Socialism and Anarchism, “labor should be put in possession of its own.” Though I am not one to claim agorism as a form of socialism, I do not think it would be incorrect to say that agorists have always recognized the laborer’s natural claim to the product of their own labor, just the same as Benjamin Tucker has recognized.
How am I to claim the natural ownership of ones product of their own labor? My meaning of natural ownership, here, is that a claim that requires an original act of force to challenge it. For example, the maker of a shovel, a cup of coffee, or a shoe, can keep it without any act of force. This same maker could potentially sell it voluntarily and keep the return without any force required. Only until the state forces a tax be paid on it or a so-called boss removes it from their possession, sells it, and gives them only a portion of the return back, is any force added. Even if they were to voluntarily enter into an employer-employee contract without a state, the employer could not make them to give up the product of their labor without force. As such, the laborer naturally owns both their labor and its product.
If you do not believe me, try selling something you make at work on the street for two dollars in cash as soon as you’re finished making it. Afterwards, do not give that revenue up to your boss or register it in taxes.
The results may shock you.
What the producer would do with the product afterwards, whether to trade it, to keep it, or to gift it to another, is entirely up to them. As agorists believe in a natural, spontaneously-operating society, one could easily, and correctly, conclude that agorists believe in a market society that does not operate on profit but on each individual having complete ownership the product of their labor. Whatever their return from their labor and the resulting product happens to be is simply considered a return, or revenue.
This is not to say that agorists are necessarily against one getting a return larger than they had originally produced. I have yet to see a market anarchist get upset at a farmer for taking a fully-grown plant from the ground when they had only put a seed into the dirt. It would be strange to be upset at nature for being natural.
Whatever returns the producer acquires from their labor and its product must be natural – that is to say, acquired without theft or coercion, and agreed upon by all parties involved. I personally find it unlikely that someone would trade a car for a seed packet, but so long as both parties actually understood the labor value of both items, it might happen. It would still not be considered profit.
So, is agorism against wage labor? Wages rely on coercion, and agorism seeks a marketplace without it. Wages cannot exist without theft, and agorism is against theft in the current and future free market. It is the pursuit of a voluntary marketplace that defines agorism even more than its praxis in counter-economics. As such, I can come to no other conclusion that the consistent agorist must be against the wage system at least as it exists.