By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial
The entrepreneurs among us tend to really like Uber. Those that want to revolutionize an aspect of the everyday lives of Americans want to “Uberize” one thing or another. Airbnb became the Uber for hotels. Some have created “Ubers” for anything from dog walking to alcohol delivery (even police, but that’s another future article). All we want to do is make the on-demand version of an aspect of daily life. And it is improving the quality of life in developed countries.
The more “Ubers of things” there are, there more time we can save and allocate towards either leisure or more effective endeavors. But when it comes to politics, Uber did not mark a shift. Sure, there has been political controversy over the legality of Uber in different cities, but that is not altering the political landscape.
But there was an Uber of the political space. There was an organization that truly changed the game and set a new standard for strong political change. That organization was Wikileaks. Julian Assange’s whistleblower outlet was guarded behind layers of code and digital securitizations, ensuring that the political sovereign could not take down the site. Wikileaks was responsible for publishing the Bradley Manning leak – a contemporary iteration of the Pentagon Papers. Its guarantee as a way for whistleblowers to get out their information has proven to be extremely helpful to those who wish to watch the watchers.
So politically, instead of wishing to create an “Uber for X” in the political space, what we should aim to do is create a “Wikileaks for X.” The two organizations parallel one another. They both took the tools of the evolving digital world and applied them to issues that they saw. They shortened the distance between an end and a means to a very high degree. Uber took us from “you will wait around to get a cab and you will get frustrated” to “you will wait for your Uber driver that the community has approved to pick you up.” Wikileaks took us from “the Whistleblower will leak if they think they can avoid the powers” to “the Whistleblower will leak because they can now avoid the powers.” Politics was permanently changed.
So that is the political change we must work to see in the world. Instead of hoping, praying, and cold calling so that Gary Johnson might get 5% of the presidential poll, we need to twist the arm of the political and make them hurt. The fact of the matter is that if real radical change – a transition to a world where status-quo biopolitical control – was possible through conventional political means, it would be illegal. Democracy itself to uphold itself. And under the guise of “equality” and mantras such as “we are the government” it ensures that its rule continues.
The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard tells us:
The liberating practices respond to one of the aspects of the system, to the constant ultimatum we are given to constitute ourselves as pure objects, but they do not respond at all to the other demand, that of constituting ourselves as subjects, of liberating ourselves, expressing ourselves at whatever cost, of voting, producing, deciding, speaking, participating, playing the game-a form of blackmail and ultimatum just as serious as the other, even more serious today. To a system whose argument is oppression and repression, the strategic resistance is the liberating claim of subjecthood. But this strategy is more reflective of the earlier phase of the system, and even if we are still confronted with it, it is no longer the strategic terrain: the current argument of the system is to maximize speech, the maximum production of meaning. (Simulacra and Simulation p.84)
Baudrillard tells us that the political system is designed to absorb the blows of radical change. It will absorb the type of libertarian philosophy wants to throw at it. This leaves the party politics of libertarianism two options – they can go the route of Sharpe and Petersen, staying true to their ideas but falling victim to low polling numbers. This guarantees a loss for the self-declared libertarians (party or not). Or it could leave the core of the philosophy behind, nominating people like Johnson, Weld, and even Romney. Either way, the libertarian ideas lose. Even if the party wins.
Party politics will not work because those who wish to change a system from within will ultimately be co-opted by the system itself. Many think that this is not as much of a problem with the system or electoral politics, but rather a problem of the people. Ludwig von Mises told us that a state cannot exist without public opinion generally supporting it. Libertarians such as Larry Sharpe see this as a reason to go after the “hearts and minds” as a means to gain political support.
This supposes, though, that we can change everyone’s political disposition toward strong libertarianism. The American consciousness has made up its mind. The proverbial American We has made up its mind. It is in favor of the democracy that gradually whittles away at our freedoms. This attitude spawned the recent NPC meme; Americans will go along with whatever the greater consensus is. The NPC’s are essentially Nietzsche’s herd, and many may despair at this thought. But it may instead be a good sign.
It means that we do not need to reach a political “critical mass” as libertarians to take down the state. We only need a few that are able to proliferate in a post-political manner. But more on that later.
The system (both social and political) is capable of absorbing criticism. Direct attacks will not harm the state – rather, they will strengthen it. Baudrillard continues later (technically earlier):
All the powers, all the institutions speak of themselves through denial, in order to attempt, by simulating death, to escape their real death throes. Power can stage its own murder to rediscover a glimmer of existence and legitimacy Such was the case with some American presidents: the Kennedys were murdered because they still had a political dimension. (Simulacra and Simulation p.18)
If libertarians were to do the most explicitly and normatively radical thing, they would get guns and attack the state. They would take up rifles and invade local IRS offices. This would create a catalyst, though, for the state to further its biopolitical control. Unless a critical mass of bodies are thrown at the state apparatus (as Lenin did in 1917) this will prove inneffective and only result in more state control. And if we do look to Lenin’s example, the result of that revolution was not freedom, either.
So how does this tie back into Wikileaks? Neither a radical direct opposition nor a politics of speech and elections will bring forth a libertarian future. But Wikileaks couldn’t be stopped. Even though Julian Assange lives cooped up in the Ecuadorian embassy the site lives on, and just as effectively. Wikileaks still gives whistleblowers a safe haven.
Wikileaks manages to not be a hopeless method of political change as I have described. This is because rather than choosing to look at authority as it commits the act, it commits the act regardless of the authority. The whistleblower chooses to speak the truth in spite of the social authority. They move forward with the act because they can. They do it not in direct opposition of the state – not as an attack per se. Instead, they expose the state, ignoring the authority it has. This attitude of “I will move forward with the act regardless of the state’s existence and what they say about the act.”
This is the Wikileaks attitude that will bring forth political change. Creation of more “Wikileaks of X” is what is going to lay out the blueprints for anarchy that the state cannot take down. Wikileaks is not the only example of this attitude. Two of the other shining examples of anarchism in action are the 3D-printable gun and Bitcoin.
The ghost gun and the liberator are weapons that exist not physically but digitally. Sure, there is the gun itself that can shoot and kill living things, but the more dangerous weapon is the digital file. Because of the nature of information on the internet, these blueprints for 3D-printable weapons will exist for a very very long time. If there is still a need for them, they may outlive anyone reading this article. That is real political change – the politics of guns will never be the same. The idea of “gun control” is now analogous to the idea of “gravity control.” You can regulate and legislate all that you would like, but it will still exist. It is an irreversible fact of political life.
Bitcoin may be even more revolutionary. Although the coin itself is facing a tough time right now, they are far from dead. This is because Bitcoin provides a function that we need desperately – a system of trustable payment outside of the state. Bitcoin meets every standard of a “good money.” The blockchain that Bitcoin is built around guarantees that we can trust any bitcoins we have. Even though the price of bitcoin is slowly declining and will end the year lower than it started (which has happened before, no worries), its ideological value is still strong. To exist, there needs to be demand for it. And as long as there is skepticism over state-produced money and that state’s ability to fund itself period, there will be demand for Bitcoin.
These are the “Wikileaks of X” that are changing the world. I said that I would get back to NPCs, so here I am. The majority of the population will just sit there and live in the world that they choose to live in. Not everyone is going to be a Hoppe or a Rothbard or a Satoshi Nakamoto. Very very few will be. Almost nobody. But we don’t need everyone to be a diehard libertarian radical. Less than 5% of the population carried forth the United States’s incepting revolutionary war.
To end the political world as we know it and create a freer future, we need to build more “Wikileaks for X.” These are going to permanently alter political reality in ways that the status quo deems impossible. But we shall not fear the impossible, because Bastiat told us of that which is unseen.
It is far easier said than done, obviously. It requires a very serious visionary to create the politically impossible, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up. Engaging in what seems hopeless may be the only way to a better future. We as radical libertarians must put our full-fledged support behind these visionaries whenever we find one. In addition, none of us should take up the attitude of “someone else may do it.” We should all become Satoshi Nakamoto’s in our own way because the political transformation does not come forth until each of us takes responsibility.
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