A user on /r/Agorism posted a question asking whether scamming welfare was, according to agorist theory, acceptable. I thought this was an interesting question, one that could be expanded to include scamming any government program.
Let’s consider agorism for a moment. The foundation of agorism is brining an end to the state through counter-economics. States exist through expropriation in the forms of taxation, confiscation of property, fines, fees, etc. Agorists believe that the most effective way to stop the state’s reign is to keep it from expropriating resources. Without those resources a state cannot continue. Simply ending the state isn’t likely enough to prevent another state from growing out of the previous state’s ashes so there is another aspect I believe agorists need to address, educating people on the fact that the state isn’t necessary. Most people have spent their entire lives living under the state and have a hard time imagining how society could function without one. In order to prevent another state from filling the power vacuum left by the previous one agorists must show how society can function without one.
Scamming government programs, in my opinion, can fulfill one of the above goals but would likely be detrimental to the other. From a counter-economics standpoint scamming government programs is a good idea. Every dollar you’re able to collect from the state through welfare, unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. programs is a dollar less in the hands of the state. Those who can avoid paying taxes and fines but collect money from various government programs will take more resources from the state than they will give. Furthermore if you’ve been forced to pay into this programs previously one cannot make a good argument against using those benefits (you paid for them after all).
What about the other goal? Scamming government programs, in my opinion, can be detrimental to demonstrating the unnecessary nature of the state. One of the most common criticisms of Ayn Rand by non-libertarians is the fact that she collected welfare. They argue that Rand was inconsistent because she relied on welfare while claiming welfare was immoral. Libertarians will point out that Rand was forced to pay into welfare so she was merely taking back what was rightfully hers but non-libertarians still see Rand’s actions as hypocritical. The same argument could easily be applied to agorists who scam government programs. Statists can point to such scams as proof that the scammer is dependent on the state and from there argue that the state is necessary. People tend to give consistent individuals more weight in debates. What could an agorist do to demonstrate the state is unneeded? Separate themselves from the state as much as possible. It’s difficult for a statist to argue the necessity of the state if you’re not using state provided goods and services. If an agorist with medical issues, instead of relying on state services like Medicare and Medicaid, relied on mutual aid from fellow agorists it would send a powerful message.
It’s not my place to rule on whether scamming government programs is the right or wrong thing for an agorist to do. I personally avoid scamming government programs because I believe the most powerful way to promote a philosophy is to live that philosophy. On the other hand I acknowledge the damage taking money from the state causes and thus believe scamming government programs is entirely acceptable. There are many paths to liberty and we much each choose the one we want to travel. Some will choose to fight the state by demonstrating it’s unnecessary. Others will choose to fight the state directly by actively taking resources from it. Neither camp is wrong.