The Cancer of Absolutism

by | Apr 28, 2019

At its heart, Agorism is a pragmatic philosophy. It is about doing what is best for you and your family. It doesn’t waste time worrying about the silly people who try and hold us back. But, even though we try and live outside of the system, it is possible for even an agorist to get stuck. One cancer that pops up in agorism is the cancer of absolutism.

Agorists say that we are all about freedom and doing what we want, but then too many turn around and begin making absolute statements about what we can and cannot do. For example, they might say that agorists DON’T vote. Or, agorists ONLY buy locally sourced food. Some go so far as to say that agorists DON’T join religions or take part in anything that involves vertical hierarchies and power structures. You might agree with some or all of these, but the problem comes when we insist that these apply to ALL agorists. That just isn’t how agorism works. You don’t tell me what I can and cannot do, or what I must and must not do. Those are my decisions to make for me, and your decisions to make for you.

Unlike many other agorists, I sometimes vote. Does this make me a bad agorist? Some would say that this is anti-agorist, but to me, it is an expression of the pragmatic nature of agorism. I own my home, but unfortunately, my city insists that I pay a property tax which is essential feudal land rent. If I don’t pay, then the city will seize my home. As much as I hate paying it, I still do it because I don’t want to lose my home. I make a pragmatic value judgment. Is it worth more to me not to pay the tax and lose my home? Or, is it worth more to me to keep my home by paying taxes? As I said earlier, I do the latter. Despite hating taxation, I pay because the consequences are even more undesirable.

Now, if I see that there is a measure on the ballot to raise property taxes, I have a couple of options. First, I could thumb my nose at voting, sit on my moral high horse, and then feel good about myself as I pay higher property taxes. Or, I could make a pragmatic value judgment, hold my nose, and vote not to raise property taxes and then enjoy potentially not having to pay more property taxes… at least for that year.

If I were an absolutist on not voting, then I would be creating an artificial barrier between myself and potential benefits for my life. I don’t want to pay my city any more than I have to, and if I have to pull a lever to lessen the load, it is ultimately a small price to pay.

When we become absolutists, we put artificial limits on our lives. We essentially do the government’s job for them. Agorism has a lot more gray area than other ideologies, and I like that. Life is not black and white, and when we force life into those categories, we ultimately make life worse for ourselves.

So, embrace the gray. Don’t be afraid of pragmatism. Do what is best for you and your family. We can agree that you shouldn’t hurt people or take their stuff. Outside of that, anything goes. It’s your choice to make.

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About Ryan Burgett

Husband, father, software developer, Mennonite pastor, and host of TechnoAgorist.

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