Skip to main content

When "Liberty" is Terrifying

The NYT profiled Dread Pirate Roberts, the alleged founder of the infamous "Silk Road" website:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/business/eagle-scout-idealist-drug-trafficker.html

The most interesting part about people like Dread Pirate Roberts (aka Robert Ulbricht) is their bizarre view of liberty. Aside from his alleged willingness to murder people (one would think murdering someone would be an attack on their liberty on a much grander scale than forcing them to pay income tax), he seems genuinely disgusted by the idea of some level of democratic oversight of basic societal functions:
For centuries, consumers have been taxed by governments or overlords of one type or another, rendering unto Caesar for as long as there have been Caesars. But if Silk Road were scalable, that era was over. Or at least imperiled. Anyone would have the option to sell goods undisturbed by regulations and without sharing a percentage of revenue with the state. And why stop at drugs? The system would work for legal products, too. The tools are there for a kind of subterranean Amazon.com.
That sounds great, right? But if we look at how the website actually operated, we see that Ulbricht didn't have any problem with an "overlord" taxing transactions, so long as it was someone clever and liberty minded- someone like, umm, himself:
The site acted as an intermediary, hosting the online market and holding money in escrow until buyers confirmed that products had arrived. D.P.R. would then release the payment to the seller, keeping 8 to 15 percent of the transaction.
While the ruling class of old recognized they could make a ton of cash through a societal structure maintained and perpetuated by governments long in control of people like themselves, this new breed of would-be titans are purists. They would have society run by Platonic philosopher kings in the mold of John Galt and completely abolish even the pretense of any democracy. To me, that's the direct opposite of liberty. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Putting North Dakota's Economy in Context...

"Revenge of the Squares"?

Brandishing the values of "yesteryears," some Mayberryish place that exists only in conservatives' minds, North Dakota is the nation's economic hot spot. Although it ironically has become hip to write little fluff pieces on how refreshing it is North Dakota, being so neglected by America's elite, has managed to stave off Capitalism's latest crisis, a few contextual points are in order.

First off, the oil. North Dakota has oil. Now this point is almost certainly mentioned by the glorymongerers, as it is in the above piece, but this key fact has little to do with culture and lots to do with luck and new technology that allows access to oil that was once unprofitable to be refined. A quick look through history tells us oil is, at most, a finite mixed blessing. Oil, unlike the infamous North Dakota weather, tends to keep the "riff-raff" in.

Next, we have the State bank. North Dakota is the only state in the…

Against Empire

It seems like no one outside of the “American Conservative” is thinking about the US as a declining empire. Contrary to what some thought, Trump has no interest in scaling back the US to a “normal” country. That wasn’t what MAGA meant. Quite the opposite, Trump and his goons think the post war international order isn’t US-centric enough. This is where Trump and the neoconservatives find common ground. 

What’s more interesting to me is the Democratic Party, and the liberal/left in general. The Dems are historically the war party, and they have renewed that patriotic passion in the Trump era. The shameful treatment of Ilhan Omar is a good example. This charge of her being “anti-Semitic” for questioning Israel’s influence in US foreign policy is disingenuous and disgraceful. (People are acting like we didn’t already go through this silly “debate” when Walt and Mearsheimer’s book came out over a decade ago. It’s infuriating. These are also the same people who can’t go a half an hour witho…

The Best a Man Can Get

Paralleling the socially conscious corporation is the conservative critique of capitalism. Tucker Carlson, an odious character to be sure, has gone as far as saying family values are being “crushed” by market forces. How is the left going to explain this, let alone fight it, when to your average person the left is indiscernible from a massive corporation like Gillette? The right has already taken a chunk of what it means to be transgressive, particularly in England as they pretty well own the counter-culture, now they are set to become the new anti-capitalists while we cheer on advertisements. This is going to be a rough year.