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

Hanging from a cliff

The day after Obama won his second term the markets took a bit of a tumble. The Dow dipped below 13,000 for the first time in a few months. US Congressional gridlock and the ongoing crisis in Europe are mostly to blame. What is more interesting, even if it's unsurprising, is the rush to bonds- US government bonds to be exact. Indeed, the yield on ten-year treasury notes dipped as low as it has since May. Even with our ratings downgrade (which no one now cares about in the slightest) and huge debt, it is cheaper than ever for us to borrow money. We are still the safest piggy bank out there. 

With the "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts looming, the spirit of compromise is being sprayed into the air like a bottle of Glade mountain berry. Democrats are fond of saying we need a "balanced" approach to reducing the deficit. Nominally this means some tax increases along with spending cuts. Republicans are now, apparently, open to some sort…

Austerity Ecology and The Collapse-Porn Addicts

I just finished Leigh Phillip’s left defense of humanity, “Austerity Ecology And The Collapse-Porn Addicts.” I think it’s important to frame it that way, as one of the main point he makes (and I fully agree) is that the earth doesn’t need us to survive. What we should focus on is our species. And not just surviving, but prospering, even conquering (I know people don’t like that word, but we ought not be scared of power). Phillips goes through every argument that I grew up with, from green austerity to that overpopulation nonsense, and convincingly does away with them. (I read Derrick Jensen was I was younger and had completely spaced out how truly terrible his arguments are. Embarrassingly bad. When I tried John Bellamy Foster I luckily found him too dense to get through. Just like George Ciccariello-Maher is a caricature of your “edgy” left wing professor, Foster is a caricature of what a Marxist is, tough to understand but you should know what he’s saying is super important!) 

Phill…

The Earth is not Fragile

I found myself cringing the other day listening to a well intentioned, yet completely ridiculous, city slicking environmentalist tell a room full of us how fragile the earth is. I wanted to scream "it is not!" but decorum got the better of me and I stayed quiet. It isn't fragile, not in any real sense of the word. The earth would just as soon wash us all away in a flood than conjure up a gorgeous sunset.
One of the most punk rock things you can do these days, particularly at dinner parties in liberal enclaves like where I live, is say you're skeptic when it comes to what people view as scientific consensus. Usually people think climate change, and are immediately offended by the idea that someone may disagree with what they've been told is humanity's most desperate and urgent threat. This is not to say I don't believe the earth is getting warmer, I surely do, or that I believe humans haven't had an effect on the environment, we certainly have. It'…