A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

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

Being an Agorist is Easier than Ever

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Samuel Edward Konkin III introduced me to the idea that the State can be starved of resources if more economic activity moved into the unregulated black market. However, I always figured entering the black market would require dealing drugs, guns, or some other highly controversial good or service. I never imagined that I could enter the black market by selling household pets:

California could become the first state to outlaw so-called puppy mills with legislation that bans pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits that do not come from rescue organizations or shelters.

Animal rights activists believe that this bill will eliminate “puppy mills” and other breeding operations that often raise animals in inhumane conditions. However, that won’t be the outcome of this bill. What this bill will do is create a black market for household pets. On the upside, this will deprive California of any licensing and tax revenues associated with breeding pets.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2017 at 10:00 am

I’m Back

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I’ve returned from AgoraFest. I consider this year to be successful. Although we changed venues for the third time this year’s venue; the Buffalo Ridge Resort in Gary, South Dakota; was probably my favorite. It had more modern facilities than our original location, Villa Maria, and wasn’t as rustic as Turtle Creek Glen, which we used last year.

There were fewer overall presentations and workshops, which was actually a good thing since we didn’t have to deal with schedule conflicts. Obviously my presentations were of the highest quality but the other presentations I attended were also very high quality. Part of the reason the quality of the presentations has increased is because us presenters are finally get somewhat competent at presenting.

I’m glad I prepared for the worst weather since I was tent camping and the first two nights got damned cold and it rained during the last night. If you’re going to camping, be prepared to deal with any type of weather because the weatherman doesn’t know what he’s talking about (it wasn’t supposed to rain at all according to the forecast), especially here in the Upper Midwest.

Even though it’s a lot of work, I’m looking forward to beginning plans for next year. Fortunately, we shouldn’t have to be as rushed since this venue worked out well enough that I expect we’ll just use it again (part of this year’s delay was finding a venue that was more palatable to some of our city dwellers who aren’t used to the “hardships” of camping).

Written by Christopher Burg

September 12th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Events

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Going to AgoraFest

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I’ll be celebrating Agorism at AgoraFest for the rest of the week. Blogging will resume next week.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Agorism

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Want to Say Whatever You Want? Pursue Entrepreneurship!

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I’m not a fan of bitching for bitching’s sake. When problems arise I like to propose solutions. Since a lot of libertarians have suddenly become aware of the power an employer has over an employee I feel as though the time is right to reiterate something. If an employer can fire and employee for what they’ve said, how can an individual speak their mind? The answer, as agorists known, is entrepreneurship.

Samuel Edward Konkin III periodically discussed wage labor. He gave wage labor credit but also pointed out that there was something even better: entrepreneurship. In his rebuttal to Rothbard’s criticism of agorism, Konkin touched on that very subject. As a wage laborer one is subject to the person paying their wage. As an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, one is subject to themselves. While an independent contractor may gain and lose contracts based on what they’ve said, they don’t find themselves tossed to the street with nothing in hand because they own their own means of production. If they lose one contract, they can seek another and may already have other ongoing contracts that keep them going.

The more aspects of your life you personally control, the more freedom you can enjoy. If you want to enjoy more freedom to say controversial things, pursue entrepreneurship. If you’re your own boss, you don’t have to worry about being terminated over what you’ve said.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 11th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Lead by Example

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My earlier post about the bakers that refused to bake a Trump theme cake lead me to another thought. I oppose discrimination. Personally, I find disassociating with somebody because of their race, religion, gender, age, etc. to be a form of collectivism and you know how much I hate collectivism. Even though I oppose discrimination I also oppose forcing people to associate with people they don’t want to associate with. This puts me at odds with a lot of people who oppose discrimination. In their eyes, because of my unwillingness to use force to solve what I see as a problem, I don’t actually oppose discrimination but merely pay lip service to doing so. This is a common argument between people who use force to get what they want and people who try to convince people that what they want is a good thing.

Most of the people I know who identify themselves as alt-right really dislike me because I don’t believe pushing national socialists out of helicopters is an effective way to bring about an individualist society. How can I claim to be a serious anti-collectivist if I’m not willing to kill collectivists? As I’ve said before, the ends reflect the means. If you use force to make people bend to your will, you’re not moving individual freedom forward. In the end you’ll simply replace one tyranny with another form of tyranny.

Discrimination is similar in that regard. If you force, say, a white man who is racist against blacks to associate with blacks, you have furthered discrimination. Of course, some will say that discrimination against white racists is acceptable just as many alt-righters will say that violence against collectivists is acceptable. However, the problem of discrimination hasn’t actually been solved, it has just been amplified. Instead of there being a white man who discriminates against blacks we now have him and a government that discriminates against white racists. Simply forcing somebody to act against their will doesn’t solve the problem. At best it will conceal the problem, at worst it will motivate the target to increase the severity of their actions in an act of rebellion.

How can discrimination be reduced without coercion? First, if you want to protect a discriminated group from violence, help makes of that group harder targets. Teach them how to defend themselves, help them organization mutual defense groups, walk them through the process of obtaining a carry permit and firearm, etc. That increases the cost of violently discriminating against them. Second, lead by example. Choose your friends by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Do business with people who are being discriminated against. Stand by them when somebody is discriminating against them. Show everybody who watches you that your life has benefited from not discriminating.

This applies to anything. If you want to advance individual freedom, lead by example. Live a life as free as you can, discuss the benefits of individual freedom with statists, and continue to educate yourself about individual freedom so that you can answer questions put forth by both sympathizers and critics. Make yourself what you want to see in the world. If people see that your benefiting from your way of life, they may decide that your way of life isn’t as terrible as they expected it to be and come around to your way of thinking. Then the problem you perceive will actually be solved instead of covered up or amplified.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 10th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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.