On the podcast I’ve mentioned my fantasy for a physical location where people could engage in true free trade sans the state. A true Agora. There are already steps in this direction in specific markets. Gun shows provide a meeting place for private sales, farmers markets can allow shoppers to bypass various food-Nazi restrictions as well as the food industrial complex, and various forms of activism like raw milk and lemonade freedom day have called the state out on it’s draconian trade restrictions.
This is a strategy that can help win hearts and minds while creating autonomous zones where people can be free. Maybe it’s time to knock it up a notch. What about a permanent physical market combining all of the current ways people trade sans the state and offering more?
I envisioned this place last night and I’d like to share my ideal, half-baked though it is. Let’s call it “The Agora: A Modern Free Market”. “The Agora” is open to the public in a sense but it’s also a private club. Shoppers would pay for a membership and would submit to a background check to prove they are not police or other state functionaries. Once management trusted them they could shop anonymously, although maybe with some sort of “username” or number so we could record unethical transactions. The Agora is private property so violators of the non-aggression principle or fraudulent actors could be banned or placed on probation.
Once inside , shoppers would see something akin to a flea market or tables at a gun show. Booths with vendors selling anything you could want but wouldn’t find at your local box store or suburban mall. Vendors would pay management to rent selling space and would also have to submit to an approval process to make sure they aren’t feds or snitches.
No state law enforcement or regulatory agents would be allowed access. Private security and dispute resolution personnel would be provided by the owners of “The Agora”. Private engineering firms would also inspect the premises to make sure it’s safe in lieu of state building and fire permits. Basically all the things the nannies would throw a fit about would be provided voluntarily.
Legally speaking all “The Agora” itself would be providing is space for private actors to transact. All legal risk of those transactions would be carried by the buyers and sellers themselves.
I think with some brave investors this could happen. Even if the state shut it down they would have to do so very publicly. At it’s worst it would provide a wonderful way to show the masses that the state doesn’t allow freedom or a free market, instead anarchy hold the opportunity for true free trade. At best, it could be the stateless market we all dream about.
I also don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion that the state would immediately shut it down. State actors might not want to engage in the battle publicly and they might think this one arena of freedom would pacify the public sufficiently. Just as in “The Hunger Games” there is the Hub, a central market where the Capitol’s “peacekeepers” turn a blind eye to banned liquor and food trading in the hopes that people won’t be too hungry to work, or too downtrodden to obey.
Sure it’s risky and will require much more creative thinking, but where there is a will there is a way, or rather where there is a market there is a way, and it’s become apparent that there is a large and growing market in this world for true free trade.