We of the Chattanooga Voluntary Society view much of the modern “system” as being corrupt, immoral, inefficient, and not in the best interest of us as individuals or as communities. This applies to both the state and the corporate realm, often extending to the culture, media, and other facets of the system. We draw from many strategies that have been laid out by others in order to form our own strategy. While we do not completely follow any specific example, we do draw from them all and believe you will find great insight and aid from them too.
The first to cover is agorism. The term was coined by Samuel Edward Konkin III, otherwise known as SEK3 or just Konink. The word comes from the Greek “agora” which was the place where the community met to buy, sell, trade, learn, teach, catch up, and discuss ideas. Konkin was a firm believer that interaction between individuals should be voluntary and so the concept of agorism is to participate in all the activities of the agora in a voluntary manner. Since the state by its very nature does not operate on a voluntary basis, this activity will typically not be a part of the mainstream economy but rather the “counter-economy”.
While he viewed all agorist activity as going against state regulation and dictates, many agorists today include activity that is not always illegal or highly regulated but is outside of and counter the mainstream system, such as homesteading, homeschooling, and 3-d printing.
Konkin stresses that agorism is “grey market” or “black market” activity and does not include any “red market” activity. The red market is anytime that violence or force is used. Often this force and violence is state sanctioned and this Konkin refers to as the “pink market” and also off limits for agorists. Not only does agorism allow for greater individual freedom but it also lowers income for the state and mega corporations, thus if employed at mass scale would begin to “starve the out” the system and even at small scale lowers the amount of support an individual gives to the system.
First Realm / Second Realm
Another perspective is the First Realm / Second Realm viewpoint. This breaks down society into these two categories and pairs well with agorist theory. The First Realm is said to not respect self-ownership or liberty. It values the collective over the individual. It is the realm where government authority reigns supreme. Actions and activity are regulated, taxed, restricted, and many participate in immoral, involuntary markets and actions. The Second Realm by contrast is everything outside of the First Realm. It is a realm of anarchy in the purest sense, that simply of “no rulers”. All interaction here is voluntary and is not connected directly with the First Realm. Much agorist activity would be considered as occurring in the Second Realm. It is a realm of privacy, security culture, individual freedom, cryptography, cryptocurrency, temporary autonomous zones, and unregulated markets. This is realm of the pure anarcho-capitalist. Since there are these two realms and one must often interact with both, there are “proxy merchants” who will take things from the First Realm and bring them into the Second Realm and vice-versa.
There are some people who practice the Vonu strategy which somehow comes from the phrase “VOluntary Not vUlnerable”. This is a strategy focused on becoming resilient to the coercion of the state. They do this mainly through lifestyle changes. Self sufficiency and a mobile lifestyle are often applied. Lowering consumption of mainstream items is also helpful. There is often a push in the movement for small scale community. Often endeavors of this nature are not very possible without the help of others. This could be a community as small as a family unit or scale up to an intentional community of larger size. Either way, when the individual, and the community, employ these strategies, they are much more resilient to any coercion of the state or reliance on their offerings.
Another relevant example comes from the history of Charter 77. Under the Communist regime of the Soviet Union, there were many who were not supporters of the system and looked for ways out. Charter 77 was a public proclamation stating the dissenting views of many well respected citizens. Since organized opposition to the state was illegal, the group described themselves as a “loose, informal, and open association of people”. Their stated claim was that they were united by the will to strive individually and collectively for respect for human and civil rights. One of the founding members was Vaclav Benda. He wrote of a concept he called the Parallel Polis. The idea was to create an independent society not oppressed by laws and decisions of representatives of public authorities. This parallel society would be based on its own values and morals, not based on anything forced from above by centralized authorities. A summary of his “pillars of the parallel polis” show his strategy in more detail: constantly monitor rights and freedoms and be willing to act in their defense; build out alternative culture and arts; have parallel systems and methods of education and science; create a parallel information system for free dissemination of information; build a parallel economy based on reciprocity and trust where resources are not dependent on the state and are outside the control of a centralized monetary system and monetary policy; have parallel political structures in preparation for what fills the void if the current system falls; have parallel foreign policy that allows the acquisition of financial and mental resources. Some credit the black market (parallel economy) and other dissenting movements like Charter 77 as one of the crucial pieces that brought down the regime.
For another historical example, the original Christian Church could be referenced. They were opposed to the mainstream culture, the dominant religious institutions, and the state. They believed these aspects of their society, “the system” so to say, were corrupt, immoral, and should not be supported or largely participated in. They didn’t rebel, viewing direct rebellion or revolution as also immoral, but instead used direct action and alternative systems to avoid operating in the system as much as possible. They handled disputes internally without appealing to the courts. They had their own welfare system and charity programs based on voluntary giving, not forced taxation. They educated their own children, built tight knit communities, and helped each other with any needs that arose. They also reached out to the public to share their beliefs and world view and helped the secular public in addition to their own community members. There is not however any record of the first generation of Christians using political means to meet any of these goals. They did live in Rome but were not a part of Rome.
There are other strategies and examples that could be cited such as mutual aid societies, militias, charities, secret societies, and more but the examples covered are likely the most relevant for a macro view of concepts used to formulate the strategy for the Chattanooga Voluntary Society.
The Benedict Option
by Rod Dreher
Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher Chaos Theory
by Robert Murphy
New Libertarian Manifesto with Agorist Class Theory
by Samuel Edward Konkin III
An Agorist Primer by Samuel Edward Konkin III Anti-Politics
by Sal Mayweather