|15A014 Bypassing the Censor by Jim Davies, 2/22/2015
Fred Reed is one of my favorite authors; astringent, à point, often very funny, irreverent... always a pleasure to read, except when he takes an occasional ride on his theist hobby horse. One of his latest is serious, but hard to gainsay: he reckons the government will soon choke off the freedom we've enjoyed for the last two decades on the Internet - holding, correctly, that The Internet Is Our Only Free Press.
For several years past the Net has been vigorously censored in China, so it can be done. The government can require any web-site publisher to obtain a license, and then it can control everything that is published - just as it does for television; and it can require the nodes of the Net, the ISPs, not to grant anyone access to specified sites hosted outside US borders. So it's a shoe, waiting to drop. Fred expects the wait to be short.
What then? - will the present bright flame of free speech be extinguished for ever? Fred says yes: "It will put paid forever to America’s flirtation with freedom." There, I disagree.
It will be a serious loss to freedom-lovers, no question. These days, thanks to the Net, one can start every day with unfiltered news and views, instead of having to rely on what is released by media with a government license. With a bit of luck, one can also challenge the conventional view by posting comments to those media. There's a huge amount of nonsense on the Net, but the beauty of it is that the reader himself can sort out the rubbish from the reliable. When censored, all that pleasure will end.
But will that stop (or even delay) the massive movement towards liberty? - no. Here's why and how.
1. Make your own freedom library from what is already up on the Net! There is an abundance of excellent material, hundreds of times more than was in books a century ago! Take a day, maybe two, reviewing the best articles you've encountered and download them - and then copy them to offline storage as a backup for when your PC dies and keep them in a snoop-proof place. Happily offline storage devices are dirt cheap; CDs are about 50¢ for 700 MB and thumb drives, about $20 for 32 GB.
Downloads can be done one at a time, or use SurfOffline to download a whole web site at high speed in the background while you do other useful work. That costs $40. There is also HTTrack Website Copier for free, though I've not tried that. For example if you wanted to make your own copy of TheAnarchistAlternative.info - which includes all Zero Government Blogs since 2010 as well as its core introduction to anarchism - just pop that URL into the software, sit back und vatch der blinkinlights. Similarly for any other site you like such as Strike-the-Root.com, LewRockwell.com, AntiWar.com, PoliceStateUSA.com, Mises.org, etc etc. And don't forget the classics, most of them free downloads, such as works by Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, etc. And yes, Fred Reed!
No freedom library would be complete without hard-copy, printed books as well, and some suggestions are made in the ZG Book Store, right here on the ZG Blog.
This preparation is comparable to what Ray Bradbury visualized in his Fahrenheit 451, in which government banned all books. His heroes memorized whole books, one or more per person, so that someone wishing to "read" Oliver Twist would seek out a man of that name and ask him to recall it out loud. Fred Reed and we anticipate the banning not of all books - just of those promoting freedom - but the idea is similar. And thanks to what the Net already has, we don't need to memorize anything. Thumb drives will do the job nicely - and can be copied for our friends, on request. So cheer up, Fred: our genie is already out of the bottle!
2. Download TOLFA in particular, and use it as recommended, making a CD copy for each friend you introduce to the Academy. As originally intended and designed, this crucial resource was never meant to depend on the web site tolfa.us - which can be taken down at any time - but upon students making their own copies on their own, local PCs. It is therefore already independent of any government censorship, and impossible to suppress; though I visualize some attempts the government may make, in my Transition to Liberty.
The beauty of this is that the few years between when government cancels Net freedom and when government evaporates after all its re-educated employees walk off the job, we will be well sustained by the vast array of good stuff that's already out there; and after that period is over (a) the Net will become fully free again but (b) no government will exist for news articles to criticize! In other words Fred Reed's brief "flirtation with freedom" will actually blossom into a fully-fledged marriage.
That all depends, though, dear Reader, on you. Fred is correct to anticipate the loss of a free Internet; for a few years we'll be without it. Whether or not the world emerges on the far side of that dark age depends on you and me, doing what is suggested above.