|15A037 Government Bares Fangs by Jim Davies, 6/6/2015
Pols and their media friends go to a lot of trouble every day to convince us, their victims, that they are really nice people with the best of intentions; fallible sometimes maybe, and sadly misunderstood - but basically good hearted. This whitewashing is needed because of the raw fact that (as one of them once admitted, perhaps unwisely) government is actually not reason, or eloquence, it is force. So a pretty mask has to be worn, to disguise reality.
But last week there was no way to disguise its repulsive facial features when Judge Katherine Forrest condemned Ross Ulbricht to prison for life, without parole. Ross had not been found guilty of serial murder, or of any murder at all; his prosecutors did take some of his words out of context and poison the jury pool before trial, saying he had threatened to kill someone, but that was never even included in the list of charges brought against him.
No, rather: his profound offense was to have operated a free market. Oh, the horror!
By "free" is meant, of course, without constraints. Nobody interferes in voluntary exchanges, transactions. A and B make an agreement, do a deal, end of story. No regulator tells them how to phrase that agreement, no taxgatherer steals part of the price paid, no censor forbids it and nobody knows it took place, if the two taking part so wish. It's free. It what all exchanges will be like, in the coming zero government society. And Ross Ulbricht tried to do that, by founding a kind of eBay marketplace on the Net, using encryption to hide his identity and Bitcoin to conceal payments from government snoops, because government outlaws free markets. As Judge Forrest savagely complained: "You made your own law. It was your opus, and you wanted it to be your legacy."
So he did, and so it is: the first, brave and almost successful free market in a very, very long time. She agreed: "What you did was unprecedented." Maybe it was. If so, Ross has set a precedent, which will shortly be followed all over the world.
In so doing, he had of course to flout government's laws, defy its authority. And that is why this barbaric judge handed down her barbaric sentence. Ultimately, governments don't care a whole lot what damage we peons may do to each other - by way of theft, assault, murder - but they care a very great deal when one of us undermines their supposed authority.
So when Walter Scott ran away from Officer Slager two months ago, contrary to Slager's command, Slager calmly aimed his handgun and shot him dead, in the back; his authority had been defied. But for the happenstance that he did it on camera, he would have got clean away with it. When the followers of David Koresh defended themselves in Waco in 1993 against a violent BATF invasion, the survivors were sentenced to 40 years for their impertinence in defying government's authority. (Fortunately an appeals court later cut that to 6 or 7; still, 6 or 7 too many.) And now Ross, a brilliant entrepreneur, has been caged for the rest of his life; that is our loss, as well as his. He defied authority.
During the transition to liberty there will be other Silk Roads, and some of their founders may also suffer Ross's fate if they start up too soon, as he did. Government is presently so powerful that it can devote huge resources to breaking the confidentiality needed; when, a few years hence, its employees leave their jobs in increasing numbers that ability will shrivel fast, so more free markets will spring up - with rapidly decreasing danger of destruction.
An account of the Silk Road setback is given by Jeff Dienst in mises.org, and while most of it is very well worth reading I can't agree with Jeff's crack at "Agorism." He portrays Ross as an agorist, an entrepreneur promoting drugs, which Jeff thinks is unlikely to appeal to the public. Possibly so, but Silk Road never set out to terminate government; public approval was not relevant. It had customers, they were satisfied, end of story.
Now, to the extent that agorists champion small independent enterprises to the extent of suggesting that a free society will have nobody at all working for wages, I'd agree that they are mistaken. I'd also agree that (as far as I know) they have no systematic plan for bringing about a free society, which was a criticism by Murray Rothbard, who is quoted by Dienst; though in that, they are hardly alone. Come to that, Murray's own plan (political activism) was also mistaken; worth trying, brilliantly led by him, but as time has proven, not feasible.
Americans will embrace a free-market, zero government society when, and only when, all have learned in some depth that all government is a curse and blight upon the face of human society and therefore leave its service; each passing on what he has learned to a friend, at rate of about one a year.
That explosive process is doubling the number of freedom-seekers and government job-quitters annually, and when the numbers become significant (early in the next decade, I believe) the implosion will begin. If Ross Ulbricht has not been set free on appeal before then, his prison guards too will walk off the job before that decade ends and so his lifetime sentence will end before he turns 45. Government will have stolen his best years, but not all.