Stephan Kinsella, an excellent libertarian thinker to whom I cannot even hold a candle to, made a quick post where he declared Hans-Herman Hoppe the first significant thinker to get libertarianism totally right. In the post Samuel Edward Konkin III received an honorable mention:
One of the people I’m learning a bit more about is Sam Konkin III. From everything I know about him he was pretty solid on everything—the state, IP, everything. He was in fact one of the pioneers of the modern anti-IP movement. However, he was more of a minor figure and did not have a fully fleshed out political theory that I am aware of. He is known for “agorism” and his fairly brief (but profound and correct and perspicacious) comments on IP, but ….
But he didn’t quite top Hoppe in Kinsella’s opinion. Personally I rank Konkin at the top of my list of libertarian thinkers. There are several reasons for this. He was decidedly anti-state. If I remember correctly he lived in the United States illegally and avoided having any legal source of income so he didn’t have to pay income taxes. That’s the type of consistency that is rare to come by. More importantly though Konkin managed something that few well-known libertarians have managed: he described an entire philosophy in a few short essays.
Many people mistakenly believe that Konkin didn’t have a fully fleshed out political theory but I believe he did a better job of fleshing out a libertarian philosophy than almost anybody else. Libertarianism, when you really boil it down, tends to advocate the principle of non-aggression. Where people go from there differs wildly but the foundation is simple. Konkin, by not writing lengthy books explaining a view of the One True Libertarian Theory, demonstrated he understood something about libertarianism that few others did: libertarianism shouldn’t try to describe the single proper society.
Liberty implies individuals having the freedom to form whatever group they desire with the understanding that members are allowed to come and go as they please. Non-aggression ultimately means one person cannot coerce another person into participation. If a group of individuals want to form a collective where all goods are commonly owned they should be free to do so. Any individual in that group should be free to leave if they so desire as well. While collective ownership is almost always scoffed at by libertarians it isn’t incompatible with non-aggression so long as the people participating in the collective are doing so voluntarily.
Konkin identified the opponent of libertarianism and, through his advocacy of agorism, proposed a means of destroying it using a libertarian strategy: voluntary association. By participating in “black” markets individuals can associate with one another on their terms and keep resources out of the hands of the state. It’s a simple strategy that doesn’t need volumes of material to explain. Furthermore Konkin didn’t waste time telling everybody how to do agorism in minute detail because that really is up to the individuals participating in the “black” market.
Mises wasn’t an anarchist and Rothbard and Hoppe both invested a lot of time telling people what the One Truth Libertarian Theory was. Konkin briefly described libertarianism and left people to explore the potential societies that can arise when people are allowed to associate voluntarily. In other words Konkin basically took market anarchism to its logical extent by letting markets determine what kind of associations will succeed and what kinds will fail.