A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Agora! Anarchy! Action!’ tag

The Dark Web’s Fight Against Gun Control

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The Dark Web, which is a sinister sounding label given to hidden services usually available through Tor or I2P, has become a major thorn in the side of the State. By combining technologies that allow users to interact anonymously with cryptocurrencies that allow transactions to be complete anonymously, the Dark Web has established a peaceful marketplace for goods and services declared illegal by the State. For example, a recent study, which is likely bullshit but I digress, found that the Dark Web has allowed people in repressive countries to acquire firearms:

Another revelation is that the weapons available are far newer, and are of a far higher quality, than would have been available on the analog black market. As New Scientist points out, “lax gun laws in the US are undermining stricter rules elsewhere,” especially in Europe. In addition to guns and ammunition, people can buy tutorials explaining how to make bombs or convert or reactivate replica and deactivated firearms.

What they really should have said is that lax gun laws in the US are undermining efforts to more thoroughly disarm serfs elsewhere. And, of course, the article should point out that those tutorials explaining how to make bombs can be found in even basic chemistry books (fun fact, making bombs is little more than combining chemistry with a small amount of mechanical or electronic engineering).

Of course, the article tries to drum up fear of the Dark Web by saying that, queue the sinister music, terrorists are using it to acquire weapons. They can only point to a single incident of this happening but facts are unimportant when writing propaganda. The point is that you’re supposed to be scared of the Dark Web and be thankful to your government for defending you against it even though, at least if you live in the United States, your government is one of the biggest arms dealers to terrorist organizations in the world. Moreover, the effectiveness of terrorist attacks is reduced if the population they’re targeted at is able to defend itself. Since the Dark Web enables people living in repressive regimes, such as many of the countries in Europe, to arm themselves in spite of the law it is actually offers to increase the cost of perpetrating terrorist attacks against civilian populations.

We should all take a moment to thank the Dark Web for its effectiveness against gun control and for offering a mechanism to make it costlier for terrorists to perpetrate attacks against civilian populations.

Bypassing Taxes

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One of the most heroic things any company can do is find exploits in the State’s tax code that allow it to provide a product to consumers for less. This both benefits the consumers and is detrimental to the government. I recently came across an article discussing how Converse, the maker of sneakers, bypasses an idiotic tax (a redundant term, I know) to bring its customers a more affordable product:

Have you ever noticed that thin layer of felt on the bottom of a pair of Converse sneakers? It gets torn up almost immediately, of course, as you walk on the shoes. So, why is it there in the first place? It turns out that that felt is there not for functional reasons, but for economic ones—shoes with fuzzy soles are taxed less when imported than those with rubber ones.

Jeff Steck writes on Gazetc that the difference between importing a fuzzy shoe—like a house slipper—and a rubber one—like a sneaker—can be huge. Changing the shoe material can decrease the tariff from 37.5 percent down to just 3 percent. Steck writes:

To benefit from a lower tariff, it isn’t necessary to cover the entire sole with fabric. According to the inventors, “a classification may be based on the type of material that is present on 50% or more of the bottom surface.” (6,471,491) This explains why the “fabric” fuzz extends mostly around the edges of my shoes, where it can take up a lot of area without interfering too much with the traction of the bare-rubber centers.

Why would the United States government put a 37.5 percent tariff on sneakers? Because doing so both enriches it and provides protection to local producers by artificially increasing the price of foreign sneakers. Of course, the tax code is ridiculously complex so any company willing to fund a decent accountant is usually able to find creative ways to either avoid tariffs completely or at least reduce the amount of tariff they have to pay.

While I’ve never had an interest in Converse sneakers, or sneakers in general, I almost want to buy a pair just to support this company’s actions. It’s always nice when a producer is willing to go to bat for consumers living in cesspools of socialist economic policy.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Saving the Internet

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I guess today is the annual Save the Internet celebration. What I mean by that is that a bunch of websites have gotten together in a bid to once again circlejerk about saving net neutrality. I call it a circlejerk because, like the last several years, this year the websites participating in this “action” are urging people to contract various government officials and beg them to enforce net neutrality. Of course, since this “action” has taken place so many times I have my doubts about the effectiveness of pleading with government officials.

Instead of urging you to waste your time by contacting people who don’t give a shit about you I’m going to offer an alternate idea. Unfortunately, I already know that this proposal will be unpopular because it requires people to take actual action. TANSTAAFL. If you want a neutral Internet you’re going to have to work for it.

Longtime readers probably already know what I’m going to propose because I’ve proposed it before. The only way to enjoy a neutral Internet is to own the infrastructure and enjoy the ability to run it however you goddamn please. So my proposal is to build out small interconnected mesh networks. Why mesh networks? First, they’re relatively cheap to build. You don’t have to bury a bunch of fiber optic cable or build expensive cellular towers. All you need is off-the-shelf hardware loaded with freely available firmware. Second, mesh nodes are controlled by the individuals who own them, not a single entity. This makes it difficult to enforce undesirable rules on the mesh network because there isn’t a single entity to buy off or coerce. Third, large scale mesh networks are a proven technology. Catalonia has one called Guifi.net, which has been operating and expanding since 2009.

Obviously this proposal will initially rely on the currently established Internet to interconnect geographically separated mesh networks. If this proposal took off though this condition would be temporary because eventually the meshes would grow numerous enough and large enough where they could be directly interconnected. Once that happens the need for the currently centralized Internet would cease along with the centralized control that is the root of the net neutrality problem.

If you really want to “save the Internet” don’t wasted your time by pleading with government officials, take some direct action and start learning about building your own infrastructure.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2017 at 11:00 am

AgoraFest 2017

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The date and location have been set for the Midwest’s celebration of counter-economics. AgoraFest 2017 will take place at the Buffalo Ridge Resort in Gary, South Dakota on September 7th through the 10th. We still have to finish some backend work before we can take registration live but you can set the days aside on your calendar now.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Future is Bright

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A writer at The Guardian, which seems to be primarily known for propagating left-wing statist propaganda, has shown a slight glimmer of understanding. While neoconservatives and neoliberals fight for power over other people, crypto-anarchists have been busy working in the shadows to develop technology that allows individuals to defend themselves from the State:

The rise of crypto-anarchism might be good news for individual users – and there are plenty working on ways of using this technology for decent social purposes – but it’s also bad news for governments. It’s not a direct path, but digital technology tends to empower the individual at the expense of the state. Police forces complain they can’t keep up with new forms of online crime, partly because of the spread of freely available encryption tools. Information of all types – secrets, copyright, creative content, illegal images – is becoming increasingly difficult to contain and control. The rash of ransomware is certainly going to get worse, exposing the fragility of our always connected systems. (It’s easily available to buy on the dark net, a network of hidden websites that are difficult to censor and accessed with an anonymous web browser.) Who knows where this might end. A representative from something called “Bitnation” explained to Parallel Polis how an entire nation could one day be provided online via an uncontrollable, uncensorable digital network, where groups of citizens could club together to privately commission public services. Bitnation’s founder, Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, hopes Bitnation could one day replace the nation state and rid us of bureaucrats, creating “a world of a million competing digital nations”, as she later told me.

The biggest threat to statism is individual empowerment. While technology is a two-edged sword, serving both the State and individuals without concern for either’s morality, it is difficult to argue that it hasn’t greatly helped empower individuals.

A combination of Tor hidden services and cryptocurrencies have done a great deal to weaken the State’s drug war by establishing black markets where both buyers and sellers remain anonymous. Weakening the drug war is a significant blow to the State because it deprives it of slave labor (prisoners) and wealth (since the State can’t use civil forfeiture on property it can’t identify).

Tor, Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), Signal, and many other practical implementations of encryption have marvelously disrupted the State’s surveillance apparatus. This also cuts into the State’s revenue since it cannot issue fines, taxes, or other charges on activities it is unaware of.

3D printers, although still in their infancy, are poised to weaken the State’s ability to restrict objects. For example, the State can’t prohibit the possession of firearms if people are able print them without the State’s knowledge.

But if the State disables the Internet all of these technologies fall apart, right? That would be the case if the Internet was a centralized thing that the State could disable. But the Internet is simply the largest network of interconnected networks. Even if the State shutdown every Internet Service Provide (ISP) in the world and cut all of undersea cables, the separated networks will merely have to be reconnected. That is where a technology like mesh networking could come into play. Guifi.net, for example, is a massive mesh network that spans Catalonia. According to the website, there are currently 33,191 operating nodes in the Guifi.net mesh. Shutting down that many nodes isn’t feasible, especially when they can be quickly replaced since individual nodes are usually cheap off-the-shelf Wi-Fi access points. Without the centralized Internet a span of interconnected mesh networks could reestablish global communications and there isn’t much the State could do about it.

Statism has waxed and waned throughout human history. I believe we’re at a tipping point where statism is beginning to wane and I believe advances in individual empowering technologies are what’s diminishing it. Voting won’t hinder the State. The Libertarian Party won’t hinder the State. Crypto-anarchists, on the other hand, have a proven track record of hindering the State and all signs point to them continuing to do so.

Borders

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Should the United States government open its border wider, close them tighter, or continue its current policies? You might be surprised that many anarchists have very strong opinions on the matter. This argument is especially decisive amongst libertarian anarchists. And that is the problem.

Anarchists debating what border policy a government should pursue is akin to Christians debating which of Satan’s proposals are better. In the end it doesn’t matter because Satan wins. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what border policies a government pursues because the State will win.

Instead of debating what the government should do, anarchists should be pointing out why the government shouldn’t be involved in borders or anything else.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 6th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Choosing the Easy Battles

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As an outside observer, when both the alt-right and antifa tout their magnificent triumphs on the battlefield of Berkeley you realize something. Both groups have pursued easy fights instead of hard fights. In this article an individual who considers themselves a leftist performs a bit of introspection and notes that his team has a tendency of choosing battles that can be easily won over the hard battles that need to be won:

Incidents like the black bloc protests at Berkeley or the punching of Richard Spencer grant people license to overestimate the current potential of violent resistance. Hey, Spencer got punched; never mind that the Trump administration reinstituted the global gag rule on abortion the next day. Hey, Milo’s talk got canceled; never mind that the relentless effort to deport thousands, a bipartisan effort for which the Obama administration deserves considerable blame, went on without a hitch. Better to make yet another meme out of Spencer getting hit than to attempt to confront the full horror of our current predicament.

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But consider the claim that he was going to out an undocumented student during his visit to campus. Who really threatened that student? Yiannopoulos, or the uniformed authorities who would have actually carried out the actual violent application of state force? (It is entirely unclear to me why Yiannopoulos would not have simply shared that information with ICE after his appearance was shut down anyway. Does Milo not own a cellphone?) Again, the same dynamic: Yiannopoulos’s followers seem punchable, subject to the application of a level of force that we imagine we can bring to bear. ICE doesn’t. The forces of state violence, I assure you, are perfectly capable of rolling right over the most passionate antifas. It turns out you can’t punch an MRAP or a Predator drone.

[…]

It’s become a cliché, at this point, but it’s still a powerful image: the man who searches for his keys at night not where he lost them but next to a lamp post, because that’s where he has light to look. That’s what I think about when I see the left fixating on these things, a political movement that is so desperate for good news that it’s willing to lie to itself to find it.

The author’s criticism is equally applicable to libertarians as it is to his fellow leftists. Wars have been fought over lesser tyrannies than we suffer today but most libertarians can’t even bring themselves to perform a little unlawful commerce to withhold their resources from the parasite known as government. And I understand why. Talking to people about ending the Federal Reserve is easy. There are few consequences for doing so. Likewise, voting for politicians who promise to audit the federal reserve has few consequences. Performing a little unlawful commerce for the express purpose of avoiding taxes? That can have real consequences. And when those consequences befall a libertarian they’re unlikely to win their court case. Talking about evil is an easy battle, taking action against evil is a difficult battle.

Much like the leftists though, if libertarians continue favoring the easy fights over the hard fights they will have an abundance of pats on the back but nothing real to show for their efforts.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 2nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Without Government Who Will Provide Services to Those in Need

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Without government who will provide services to those in need? Anarchists:

ATHENS — It may seem paradoxical, but Greece’s anarchists are organizing like never before.

Seven years of austerity policies and a more recent refugee crisis have left the government with fewer and fewer resources, offering citizens less and less. Many have lost faith. Some who never had faith in the first place are taking matters into their own hands, to the chagrin of the authorities.

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Whatever the means, since 2008 scores of “self-managing social centers” have mushroomed across Greece, financed by private donations and the proceeds from regularly scheduled concerts, exhibitions and on-site bars, most of which are open to the public. There are now around 250 nationwide.

Some activists have focused on food and medicine handouts as poverty has deepened and public services have collapsed.

In recent months, anarchists and leftist groups have trained special energy on housing refugees who flooded into Greece in 2015 and who have been bottled up in the country since the European Union and Balkan nations tightened their borders. Some 3,000 of these refugees now live in 15 abandoned buildings that have been taken over by anarchists in the capital.

Without government who will build the roads? Who will care for the homeless? Who will care for the elderly? These are questions statists ask because they believe they shut down the conversation. They think that providing those goods and services is so complex that only a government can do them and therefore any arguments against government can be dismissed with a wave of the hand. However, every good and service that is provided by government was previously provided by nongovernmental entities. When governments collapse those goods and services are again handled by nongovernmental entities. Why? Because people see a need for those goods and services and therefore find a way to provide them.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 24th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Fighting Fascism

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A lot of people have expressed an interest in fighting fascism here in the United States. Most of the people expressing such interest like to start off a lot of their sentences with, “We must…” “We must stand together!” “We must shutdown fascist speakers!” “We must run fascists out of town!”

Fascism is only made possible through collectivism. Using words like “we must” is where the disease begins. By using the collective term “we” it establishes a group identity, which is the beginning of developing an “us” vs. “them” mentality. By using the word “must” it establishes a requirement one must meet in order to be a member of the speaker’s collective.

Fascists love starting sentences with “We must…” “We must secure the fatherland.” “We must eliminate the immigrants who are the source of our strife.” “We must give our loyalty to our nation first.” In the case of fascism, the “we” is generally citizens of a nation and the “them” is everybody else. The use of the word “must” indicates that being a member of the nation requires securing it from “them,” removing “them” from “us,” and ensuring people’s loyalty is with the nation before anybody else including family members.

By identifying themselves first and foremost with a group, individuals can begin to justify any action, no matter how atrocious, so long as it benefits the group. This is the most dangerous aspect of fascism and the people who claim to want to fight fascism seem determined to rely on it.

I have a proposal for fighting fascism. Instead of relying on the very collectivism that makes fascism possible, why not rely on radical individualism? Perhaps people would be less susceptible to collectivism philosophies like fascism if they recognized themselves first and foremost as individuals instead of members of a group.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 9th, 2017 at 11:00 am

A Business Opportunity

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Us Americans love instant gratification, which is part of the reason so many of us are on several different medications. It’s far easier to pop a pill for our heart conditions than to lose the weight that is causing our heart conditions. Of course, this means that we expel a lot of medications and those expelled medications end up in our sewage and by extension in our ecosystem:

The United States of America is a highly medicated country: almost seven in 10 Americans take prescription drugs. That translates to 4.4 billion prescriptions and nearly $310 billion spent on medication in 2015. Painkillers, cholesterol-lowering medications, and antidepressants top the list of drugs most commonly prescribed by doctors.

Needless to say, the work of biologists like Lee may prove to be crucial.

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Americans aren’t just putting these drugs into their bodies; they’re also putting more drugs into the environment. A growing body of research suggests all types of drugs, from illegal drugs to antibiotics to hormones, enter the environment through sewage and cesspool systems across the country. And while pharmaceutical drugs—when used as prescribed—are capable of curing disease and alleviating symptoms in people, they can wreak havoc on nature.

Here’s the difference between an agorist and pretty much everybody else. Most people look at this situation and see a pollution problem and likely want the government to step in and fix it. I, on the other hand, see a lucrative business opportunity. Many of the drugs expelled discussed in this article are difficult to acquire due to regulations. If somebody was able to develop a method of extracting these drugs from the water system and recycle them into consumable drugs again, they would have the perfect black market business. It would be difficult for the State to identify and shutdown and it would remove these valuable chemicals from the ecosystem.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 4th, 2017 at 10:00 am