Archive for the ‘Agora! Anarchy! Action!’ tag
“Muh roads!” is a libertarian meme started because anytime you discuss eliminating government with a statists they eventually break down and say, “But who will build the roads?” As it turns out, the people who need the roads will build them:
Gangs smuggling goods into Russia have secretly repaired a road on the Belarussian border in order to boost business, the TASS news agency reported Monday.
Smugglers have transformed the gravel track in the Smolensk region in order to help their heavy goods vehicles traveling on the route, said Alexander Laznenko from the Smolensk region border agency. The criminal groups have widened and raised the road and added additional turning points, he said.
The market in action. Having a great product doesn’t do any good if you can’t get it to buyers. That means producers will either build the infrastructure necessary to get their products to consumers or will partner with another producer who is willing to build the infrastructure.
Transportation infrastructure isn’t some magical good that can only be brought into being by the wave of a government wand. Individuals and non-governmental organizations have been building and maintaining roads for a very long time. And they’re still doing it whenever they need a road that isn’t expressly approved of by the State.
It’s getting close the annual weekend of celebrating markets and voluntary interactions. I’m talking of course about AgoraFest.
This year was a bit hectic since our old venue, the Villa Maria, shutdown at the beginning of this year. We had already reserved the site and made our downpayment when we received the news. Fortunately, the Villa staff refunded our downpayment quickly but that still left scrambling to find another site. After a great deal of searching we went with Turtle Creek Glen in Wisconsin. The upside is that the venue is a bit cheaper so we were able to bring the price of admission down. You can enjoy four days, September 22nd through the 25th, of AgoraFest for $95.
What is AgoraFest? As the name implies, it’s a festival of counter-economics. There are talks, workshops, drinking, musicians, and most importantly exchanges. Agorists are encouraged to bring wares and services for sale (your business is your business, not the State’s), skills to teach, and camaraderie. Political types are encouraged to setup their booths and signs in the designated violence speech zone located about 20 miles from the site. Think of AgoraFest as a reprieve from the nonstop politics where real work at creating real change can be done.
This year I’ll be hosting a seminar on build an AR-15 and another one on assembling a bug-out bag. I may do a cryptography talk as well but our networking infrastructure is limited since we’re out in the middle of nowhere. Anybody who wishes to attend and give a talk, host a workshop, or do business (that you want advertised to AgoraFest attendees) should shoot an e-mail to support[at]agorafest[dot]com.
In all regions of the planet having sex is legal. But in many regions being paid to have sex is illegal. Some of those areas to have a caveat where you can legally be paid for sex but you have to be filmed doing it. Either way, governmental restrictions on sex work have made the trade more dangerous. Many sex workers have been relegated to operating under the authority of abusive pimps. However, technology is changing that:
Soon after Kate ran into trouble at the nightclub—like many other fresh-faced high school girls in Hong Kong today—she discovered online forums to run her own business as a sex worker. On HK Big Man and HK Mensa, where ads are proliferating everyday, so-called “compensated daters” offer their services without the help of a middleman.
Bowie Lam Po-yee, who runs an organization called Teen’s Key that provides outreach for these girls, says that it’s common for one girl to find an ad she likes, and then copy it—with just minor adjustments. Then, girls leave their contact information and negotiate where they’ll meet and how much they’ll charge. It’s easier to evade the cops that way: they’re less likely to be caught for solicitation if they’ve checked a client out to see if he’s legitimate. Police can be obvious as to their identity when it comes to brokering a deal over a chat app.
The job of a pimp has been to market out sex workers and they often use their position abusively. Ubiquitous communication technology allows sex workers to market themselves. Forums, smartphones, and chat applications allow sex workers to cut out the middle man, which allows them to keep all of the profits as well as not be reliant on an abusive individuals.
This isn’t just true for sex workers. Online communication technology has also made the drug trade safer. Technology often acts as a balance to the State. When the State makes a market more dangerous by declaring it illegal technology helps make it safe again.
The federal government put a lot of resources into shutting down the Silk Road. Was it worth it? Has the online drug trade stopped or at least been reduced? Of course not! People want access to recreational drugs and the market always provides. Since the death of Silk Road the online drug trade has actually flourished:
The successors to Silk Road, the darknet drug market shut down by the FBI in 2013, are raking in tens of millions of pounds in total revenue every month, according to a new report.
British dealers apparently have a serious finger in the pie, taking home roughly 16 percent of the global revenues, or around £1.75 million, between an estimated 338 vendors.
The State, however, can never admit failure. Through the magic of statistics it has declared itself victorious over the online drug trade:
The report, commissioned by the Dutch government to gauge the growth of darknet markets in the years following the demise of Silk Road, found some good news for beleaguered law enforcement: “cryptomarkets have grown substantially in the past few years, but not explosively,” though the numbers of vendors and hosting sites have grown. In fact, researchers found around 50 of these markets in total, however, the total volume of listings is now only six times larger than in 2013.
The volume of listings has only grown six times larger! It would have obviously grown even more if it wasn’t for the State’s efforts! This reminds me of the national debt, specifically when a politician claims that they have shrunk the debt because their efforts ensured it only grew twice as fast as it would have otherwise. If you’re very careful with your statistical definitions you can make any defeat appear to be a victory.
What’s the lesson here? Easy, the State is powerless against the forces of the market. While the State does win temporary victories it is always defeated in the long run. After all, how can a handful of people ever hope to defeat the entirety of humanity? When seven billion people are thinking of new and interesting ways to get their fellows the goods and services they want there’s nothing a handful of people wearing suits and sitting in marble buildings can do.
Are you a Minnesotan looking to buy a gun but don’t have a lot of money? I have good news for you! On August 27th Pillsbury United Communities and the City of Minneapolis will be operating a gun buyback. Here are the prices you’ll need to beat:
People turning in firearms can do so anonymously, and will receive $25 to $300 Visa gift cards, depending on the type of firearm. Authorities from Minneapolis Fire Department and the Minneapolis African American Professional Firefighter Association will be on hand to accept the surrendered weapons at two local fire stations.
If you’re looking for some cheap guns bring cash to either of the two fire stations and beat the government’s offer. You might not even have to beat the government’s offer since cash is more valuable than gift cards. Minnesota still allows private transfers so you won’t even have to drag the person you’re buying from to a federally licensed dealer.
Another thing you might consider doing is heading over to your local hardware store and buying up supplies to build cheap zip guns. For $7 you can build a little 12 gauge shotgun:
That’s a potential $18 of profit in your pocket. Since the buyback is anonymous you and your friends can keep coming back with more zip guns to trade up for gift cards. Then you can use your profits to buy yourself a decent gun.
Gun rights activists are riled up since it looks like we’ll be under a Hillary regime for the next four years (strangely enough, they don’t seem to be worried about Trump even though he has historically been a friend of gun control). As a service I like to provide practical solutions to problems. The Conscious Resistance is putting together a three part guide on buying weapons on the black and grey markets:
Buying firearms is a potentially risky endeavor. If you are reading this article at the original source, you probably already understand that there is a defacto registration system in place on the federal level. This is not supposed to be the case, but most people wouldn’t doubt the inability of the federal government to let go of a voluntary data collection system that by law requires a purge after 24 hours, especially regarding something as potentially dangerous to their power structure as firearms in the hands of ordinary citizens.
The first part, which is the only part posted so far, just explains some of the things to avoid when privately purchasing a firearm. But guides like this will likely become more valuable as the State continues to tighten its grip on society. While the laws may shift more against gun owners at some point that doesn’t mean gun owners will actually be restricted. Laws are only shackles insomuch as you allow them to be. A prohibition against buying a firearms is meaningless on the black market.
Politically there is no way for gun owners to win this election. Both presidential nominees have a history of opposing gun rights. But there are still things gun owners can do to protect their right to self-defense. Focusing on those efforts will offer far greater returns in the long run than getting the slightly less anti-gun president elected.
Socialists often criticize the market for allowing people to starve. They often say it’s unfair that somebody with surplus food is allowed to keep it while others starve to death. They also lambast the idea of property rights because the concept allows a person with a surplus of food to defend it against a starving thief. These are valid criticisms, mind you. But they also ignore an important fact. Markets and private property rights may allow some people to starve but you really need a centrally planned economy if you want to starve everybody:
The fight for food has begun in Venezuela. On any day, in cities across this increasingly desperate nation, crowds form to sack supermarkets. Protesters take to the streets to decry the skyrocketing prices and dwindling supplies of basic goods. The wealthy improvise, some shopping online for food that arrives from Miami. Middle-class families make do with less: coffee without milk, sardines instead of beef, two daily meals instead of three. The poor are stripping mangoes off the trees and struggling to survive.
Venezuela is an epitome of centrally planned economics. Much of the market has been “nationalized” (a fancy word for stolen by the State) and the Venezuelan government dictates a great deal regarding production and prices. Like the Soviet Union, Venezuela’s economy has collapsed and now people are starving.
In what must seem a twist of irony to proponents of central planning, there is hope for salvation. When the economy of the Soviet Union collapsed the thing that saved countless lives was the black market:
Everyday survival here requires of everyone – from childhood to old age – a street savvy that makes life in the inner cities of the West seem innocent by comparison. Many older Soviet people say the situation is much like it was after World War II. Survival is a degraded art form requiring such skills as knowing under which bridge the black-market gasoline dealers operate on Tuesdays and what sort of Western chocolates to give a schoolteacher on a state holiday so that a child can get decent treatment in the coming semester.
Anatoli Golovkov, the resident expert on economics at Ogonyok magazine, said, “There is nothing to buy through ordinary channels, but you can get anything you need if you are willing to play the game and pay big money. The whole process makes all of us cynical about the law and ourselves. It degrades us. But what’s the choice?
“For example, say I have guests coming, and I need a cut of meat, a couple of bottles of booze and a carton of good cigarettes. There’s really just one option. With a fistful of money, you go to one of the city markets. The state-run stalls are nearly empty. But you explain what you need to someone. He nods, and never saying a word, he writes down a price on a slip of paper and says, `Come back in an hour.’ When you come back, the package is all wrapped up in a copy of Pravda and off you go.”
When central planning begins starving everybody the market is there to save lives. It happened in the Soviet Union and it’s happening in Venezuela:
But in Maracaibo, the black market is an actual place. The contrabando, as sellers call it, sits on tables out in the open.
The odd part, to an American, is that this contrabando is available every day at Aisle 3 in my local Safeway: flour, rice, coffee, Tylenol. I went in with fixer/translator Yesman Utrera and photographer Jorge Galindo, on a specific mission: to find infant formula for our driver’s baby. By the time we found two cans to compare prices, both were sold.
The very thing that socialists accuse of starving people is the only thing that keeps people fed when socialism starts to starve them.
There are no perfect solutions. Every solution has pros and cons. The cons of the market and private property rights is that some people do indeed starve. But that is far less of a con in my book than the con socialism, which means everybody starves when the State can no longer keep the centrally planned economy propped up. When a centrally planned economy begins the collapse a major pro of the market comes into play: the incentive of personal gain spurs market actors to provide the goods people desperately need. Many will point out the high prices of dealing with these black market actors as a con of the market but they fail to understand that the high prices exist because the risks are so high. When a centrally planned economy begins to collapse it’s not unusual for the State to blame the very thing keeping people alive: the black market. In the hopes of keeping the economy propped up just a little bit longer the State sends agents to hunt, assault, kidnap, and/or kill black market actors. So the high prices aren’t the fault of the black market actors but the State that is trying to maintain its control over the ashes of the civilization it burned.
When people think black markets the image of drug deals shooting it out over gang wars often comes to mind. But the black market is far more than that. Like the white market, the black market is composed of both savory and unsavory sorts. How many people have paid somebody in cash so both parties could avoid the additional burden of taxes? Don’t answer that because such activity is illegal. But anybody who has done that has also participated in the black market.
As the burdens of operating in the white market continue to grow so does the black market. For example, a recent article points out that Canada’s black market is thriving:
Canada’s underground economy is still thriving, according to a new report from Statistics Canada, in spite of efforts to cut down on the number of transactions that “escape measurement because of their hidden, illegal or informal nature.”
The value of Canada’s underground economy in 2013 totalled $45.6 billion, or about 2.4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
That’s pretty much exactly where the numbers were in 2012, give or take a few billion dollars, and where they’ve been hovering since 2002.
Agorism, unlike political action, works as a strategy for weakening the State because it relies on activities people do already. While the State can increase its efforts to stop unapproved transactions it is still an organization of a few people trying to outwit the entirety of humanity. Needless to say, the odds of the State effectively thwarting the black market are approximately zero. And as the State increases the burden of operating in the white market, those people it is attempting to extort will use their creativity to find ways of avoiding those burdens by moving their activities into the black market.
The winners of the second Agorist Writer’s Workshop competition were announced yesterday:
Bridge at Adelphia by Lela Markham
Einstein & FDR by Peregrinus
Janus Doctrine by Calvin Mickel
Letters from Home by Cara Schulz
Marilyn Reimagined by Bokerah Brumley
Redfeather by Lyssa Chiavari
Runnymede Rebellion by Tim Walker
Teppichfresser by Mark Johnson
That Holy Anarchist Experiment by Justin Fowler
The Guard and the Crane by Heather Biedermann
The Invading Storm by Matthew Tanous
The Liberi by Christopher Burg
The Six-Sided Cabin of Calhoun County by Joseph Knowles
The Sixth Republic by Richard Walsh
The Vacant Chair by Diane L. Anderson
Warsaw by Eric Nies
Don’t let the fact that they accepted my short story worry you. The other authors are actually good. But my short story will deliver pirates, which should count for something. You’ll be able to pick up a copy of the collection when it’s released at AgoraFest in September.
Setting aside my general hatred of intellectual property, I want to discuss an especially heinous abuse of intellectual property laws. A lot of research done in the United States is funded by tax dollars. We’re told this is necessary because the research wouldn’t be done if it was left to the market and that we shouldn’t complain because the research benefits all of us. But the research fueled by tax funding seldom benefits all of us because the findings are locked away being the iron curtain of publisher paywalls. We may have been forced to fund it but we don’t get to read it unless we’re willing to pay even more to get a copy of the research papers.
Aaron Swartz fought against this and was ruthlessly pursued by the State for his actions. Now that he has left us a new hero has risen to the call. Alexandra Elbakyan is the creator and operator of Sci-Hub, a website created to distribute research papers currently secured behind paywalls:
But suddenly in 2016, the tale has new life. The Washington Post decries it as academic research’s Napster moment, and it all stems from a 27-year-old bioengineer turned Web programmer from Kazakhstan (who’s living in Russia). Just as Swartz did, this hacker is freeing tens of millions of research articles from paywalls, metaphorically hoisting a middle finger to the academic publishing industry, which, by the way, has again reacted with labels like “hacker” and “criminal.”
Meet Alexandra Elbakyan, the developer of Sci-Hub, a Pirate Bay-like site for the science nerd. It’s a portal that offers free and searchable access “to most publishers, especially well-known ones.” Search for it, download, and you’re done. It’s that easy.
“The more known the publisher is, the more likely Sci-Hub will work,” she told Ars via e-mail. A message to her site’s users says it all: “SCI-HUB…to remove all barriers in the way of science.”
I fear many libertarians will be quick to dismiss Alexandra because she espouses anti-capitalist ideals. But it’s important to focus her actions, which are very libertarian indeed. She is basically playing the role of Robin Hood by liberating stolen wealth from the State and returning it to the people. The money has already been spent so it cannot be retrieved but what it bought, research, is still there and should be returned to the people as compensation for the original theft. That is all freely releasing tax funded research is and for her part Alexandra should be treated as the hero she is.