|chicago.indymedia - 12845 Violence vs. Nonviolence by Matt Dineen 12:21pm Thu Aug 15 '02 email@example.com The issue of violence has become rather divisive within our growing movement. In our struggle to bring about fundamental social change is nonviolence a more viable and effective option than violence, and vice versa? The arguments of anti-pacifist Ward Churchill and nonviolent activist George Lakey are presented and critiqued... Strategy for Social Change: “Violence vs. Nonviolence” By Matt Dineen “It is the obligation of every person who claims to oppose oppression to resist the oppressor by every means at his or her disposal. Not to engage in physical resistance, armed resistance to oppression, is to serve the interests of the oppressor; no more, no less. There are no exceptions to the rule, no easy out…” -Assata Shakur “You cannot successfully fight them [the Big Powers] with their own weapons. After all, you cannot go beyond the atom bomb. Unless we have a new way of fighting imperialism of all brands in place of the outworn one of violent rising, there is no hope for the oppressed races of the earth.” -Mahatma Gandhi The 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle gave birth to a new social movement in the industrialized West against capitalist globalization. Since Seattle there have been several similar, historic actions against global financial institutions including the Washington DC meetings of the IMF and World Bank in April 2000 and the G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy during the summer of 2001, among others. These recent demonstrations have drawn thousands of participants from all over the world, and unlike movements of the past century they have addressed a wide range of issues while focusing on the fundamental concern of global inequality and injustice. The demonstrations have also generated an important dialogue in regard to the strategy and tactics employed by the movement. While the vast majority has remained nonviolent there have been some elements, such as those prevalent in Genoa, that have opted for more violent tactics including property destruction and combat with armed forces. This issue of violence has become rather divisive within this growing movement and this is the issue that I seek to explore. In our struggle to bring about fundamental social change is nonviolence a more viable and effective option than violence, and vice versa? The most prominent contemporary spokesmen on both sides of this question are Ward Churchill, outspoken critic of pacifism and advocate of armed struggle, and George Lakey, firm believer in the transformative potential of nonviolent action. Both seek a new global order free of exploitation and oppression, but have different approaches to achieving such revolutionary change. To illustrate their positions I will draw from Churchill’s controversial book Pacifism as Pathology (Arbeiter Ring, 1997) which includes an engaging afterward by Mike Ryan, and Lakey’s online response to the book: To begin this examination it is essential to have a common understanding of the terms ‘pacifism’ and ‘nonviolence’ and the ability to make the distinction between the two. Churchill defines pacifism as, “the ideology of nonviolent political action” (Churchill, p.29) and, as Ryan later reiterates, “a belief that precludes infliction of violence upon others, but which does not bar the absorption of violence by adherents.” (Churchill, p.132) Churchill sees nonviolence as a synonym for pacifism. Lakey is critical of this interchangeable use of these terms since, as he argues, they differ in practice. Lakey explains: "Nonviolence or nonviolent action, is used mostly on a grassroots level … Demonstrations, sit-ins, occupations, strikes, boycotts: there are many methods of nonviolent action…and people use them because they often work better than more conventional means such as lobbying and petitioning. Pacifism on the other hand, is an ideology, a belief system that holds that it is immoral to injure or kill people to achieve your goals. Pacifists believe that good ends can’t justify killing. Also, their understanding of cause and effect is that good ends come out of good means…They believe that both morality and good sense require that we ‘live the change we want to see.’ A huge majority of those who engage in nonviolent action in the U.S. are not pacifists. And there are many pacifists who rarely if ever engage in nonviolent action. So mixing up ‘pacifism’ and ‘nonviolence,’ as Ward does, confuses more than it clarifies." (Lakey) The term pacifism is inadequate for this analysis and cannot be used as a synonym for nonviolence because of these points that Lakey has articulated. Within this context of revolutionary strategy and tactics it is more complex than a matter of ‘violence vs. nonviolence.’ A closer look reveals a plethora of issues that arise, that Churchill and Lakey attempt to address, including armed self-defense and armed struggle, the division between Third World struggles and those in the industrialized world in terms of violence, and the importance of historical context. Before these issues are further examined and the arguments of Churchill and Lakey are presented, the question ‘violence vs. nonviolence’ must be modified. The side represented by Churchill (“violence”) is rather an approach to social change that advocates the utilization of a ‘diversity of tactics,’ which may include armed self-defense and armed struggle, not ruling out the option of violence. The other side, represented by Lakey (“nonviolence”) believes that nonviolent action, for various reasons is the most effective means of creating fundamental social change, excluding the use of violence pragmatically rather than morally. The debate is now reframed as ‘diversity of tactics vs. nonviolent action.’ In Pacifism as Pathology Churchill maintains that nonviolent action is not a viable revolutionary strategy and that ‘nonviolent revolution’ is a contradiction in terms. He claims that nonviolence “promises that the harsh realities of state power can be transcended via good feelings and purity of purpose rather than by self defense and resort to combat.” (Churchill, p. 30) According to Churchill, the successes of historical nonviolent movements (i.e., the American civil rights movement and India’s struggle for national independence) that have been presented by contemporary ‘pacifists’ as evidence of the power of nonviolence is inaccurate and must be reevaluated: “There has never been a revolution, or even a substantial social reorganization, brought into being on the basis of the principles of pacifism. In every instance, violence has been an integral requirement of the process of transforming the state.” (Churchill, p.45) This assertion will be further addressed, and contradicted, by Lakey who relies heavily on historic examples to argue in favor of nonviolent action. From these points revealing the ineffective nature of nonviolence Churchill goes on to further illustrate the “two possible outcomes” of a strictly nonviolent force: 1. To render themselves perpetually ineffectual in the face of state power, in which case they will likely be largely ignored by the status quo and self-eliminating in terms of revolutionary potential. 2. To make themselves a clear and apparent danger to the state, in which case they are subject to physical liquidation by the status quo and are self-eliminating in terms of revolutionary potential. (Churchill, p.45) The next topic that Churchill addresses is the politics of “the comfort zone” associated with nonviolence. Here he criticizes the conventional nonviolent demonstration as being more of a ritual than an agent for change and that its participants are above all concerned for their own safety. Churchill believes that they opt for a nonviolent approach primarily to avoid the violent state repression that is applied to those who employ tactics of armed struggle or self-defense. He explains: "The preoccupation with avoiding actions which might ‘provoke’ violence is thus not based on a sincere belief that violence will, or even can, truly be avoided. Pacifists…are quite aware that violence already exists as an integral component in the execution of state policies and requires no provocation…What is at issue then cannot be a valid attempt to stave off or even minimize violence per se. Instead, it can only be a conscious effort not to refocus state violence in such a way that it would directly impact American pacifists themselves. This is true even when it can be shown that the tactics which could trigger such a refocusing might in themselves alleviate a real measure of the much more massive state-inflicted violence occurring elsewhere…" (Churchill, p.61) Finally, in his assault on pacifism Churchill illustrates the paradox of North American activists that are committed to nonviolence in their actions but support Third World liberation struggles that are violent in nature. He attributes this phenomenon to the aforementioned American comfort zone and “white skin privilege” (Churchill, p.74), as he believes the vast majority of pacifists are white. This point is further elaborated when he declares that, “pacifism is racist” as it displaces “massive state violence onto people of color both outside and inside the mother country, rather than absorbing any real measure of it themselves.” (Churchill, p.79) Churchill’s declaration that “pacifism is racist” is one element of his analysis of it as pathology. The other two descriptions of this pathology he provides are as follows: “pacifism is delusional” and “pacifism is suicidal,” which have already been explained. Although he spends the rest of the essay describing the need for the development of a “liberatory praxis” Churchill’s central focus is to debunk nonviolence as a revolutionary practice. He does, however, briefly discuss a strategy that would be an alternative to the dominant one of nonviolence: "What is at issue is not…the replacement of hegemonic pacifism with some ‘cult of terror.’ Instead, it is the realization that, in order to be effective and ultimately successful, any revolutionary movement within advanced capitalist nations must develop the broadest possible range of thinking/action by which to confront the state. This should be conceived not as an array of component forms of struggle but as a continuum of activity stretching from petitions/letter writing and so forth through mass mobilization/ demonstrations, onward into the arena of armed self defense, and still onward into the realm of ‘offensive’ military operations (e.g., elimination of critical state facilities, targeting of key individuals within the governmental/corporate apparatus, etc.). All of this must be apprehended as a holism, as an internally consistent liberatory process applicable at this generally-formulated level to the late capitalist context no less to the Third World. From the basis of this fundamental understanding-and, it may be asserted, only from this basis-can a viable liberatory praxis for North America emerge." (Churchill, p.92) In his afterward to Pacifism as Pathology Mike Ryan provides a more condensed and arguably more coherent critique of nonviolence. He outlines the two basic arguments for nonviolence: “ideological” and “strategic.” (Churchill, p.132) The ideological argument, Ryan believes, claims a moral superiority in abstaining from violence. He warns of the danger of being “morally bound” to nonviolence under the pretense that it is inherently ‘good’ and violence is inherently ‘bad.’ Ryan is also critical of the practical arguments for nonviolence or, more accurately, arguments against violence. He has identified four basic arguments: 1. There is the ever-popular assertion that the time is not right. 2. It is contended that violence alienates people. 3. It is suggested that violence brings down repression (a kind of practical reworking of the old moral argument that violence begets violence). 4. Lastly, we are told that violence will get us bad press. (Churchill, p.133) In response to the first argument Ryan presents a quote describing the frightening immediacy of our current global situation is. He follows, “Given this reality, I am prompted to ask how bad conditions must become before we recognize that the time is right for any and all forms of resistance that can be effectual in putting an end to this madness, before it puts an end to us.” (Churchill, p.134) Ryan is very critical of the second contention that “violence alienates people.” He feels that this mentality has caused our movements to go unnoticed by the government and the people that we seek to organize. This approach has reduced the potential for “revolutionary consciousness and activity.” (Churchill, p.135) The suggestion that “violence brings down repression” is answered by pointing out that if a nonviolent method of overturning the ruling power structure was attempted it would also be met with repression. Finally, Ryan illustrates the faulty logical of the fourth argument that “violence will get us bad press.” He replies, “One wonders how it could be believed that any kind of consistent good press can be expected from media owned by the same corporate interests we are attacking.” Ryan then examines the role that social privilege contributes, namely racial privilege, in the formation of the arguments for nonviolence in North America. “When nonviolence is proposed as the only acceptable form of resistance by white militants, it is not, for me, a statement of moral depth, but a statement regarding the depth of their white skin privilege.” (Churchill, p.137) Here he also connects two concepts raised by Churchill: the comfort zone and the issue of the Third World. Ryan brings attention to the fact that “nonviolence is often a white movement response to forms of repression which do not directly affect them.” (Churchill, p.141) He concludes with his revolutionary vision and critique: "We must recognize that [this] movement can win because it has the capacity to meet the violence of the state with a counter-violence of sufficient strength to dismember the heartland of empire, liberating the oppressed nations within it. In sum, we must recognize the validity of violence as a necessary step in self-defense and toward liberation when the violence of the system leaves the victim(s) with no other viable option. And it is here the logical inconsistency lies. We recognize the right of oppressed peoples to respond to their oppression with violence, but we abstain from engaging in violence ourselves. Thus we recognize our own participation in the oppression of other peoples while we also attempt to deny the critical situation in which we ourselves are found today…" (Churchill, p.161) In his response to Pacifism as Pathology entitled Nonviolent Action As ‘The Sword That Heals’ (url) George Lakey presents his argument for nonviolence and critique of Churchill’s analyses. Lakey begins by outlining the agreements that he and Churchill share, namely a worldview that seeks to eliminate the roots of oppression. He agrees with Churchill’s criticism of pacifists in terms of the “moral smugness” that prevents them from engaging in a “genuine pragmatic debate” about courses of action. Lakey also agrees with the charge that many nonviolent protests “have contented themselves with polite witness and ritualized arrests, minimizing risk and minimizing impact.” (Lakey) He is also critical of what Ryan labeled ideological nonviolence, or “excluding armed struggle from consideration dogmatically.” Finally he states, “I agree with Ward that a great way to think about struggle is pragmatically: what are the means that have the best chance of reducing suffering, increasing justice, and creating a new society?” (Lakey) The essay illustrates how although they agree on this point, they disagree on the question of which “means” to utilize. Lakey then argues that a “persuasive strategy” for armed revolution is necessary before one can argue against nonviolence. That strategy, he points out, does not yet exist. Lakey spends a great deal of time questioning Churchill’s interpretations of history and offers his own to support his argument. This begins by reassessing the role of nonviolent action in the American civil right’s movement and India’s struggle for independence from the British Empire. However, Lakey proceeds to give historical examples of movements from around the world throughout various phases of history that have successfully used nonviolence. “The underlying assumption in Ward’s book is that violence is the most powerful political force in the world.” (Lakey) Lakey challenges this assumption, asserting that the power of organized masses, or what he calls “people power,” is the strongest political force that exists. He puts it this way: “the foundation of political rule is the compliance of the people, not violence.” Lakey provides historical examples of “people power” that have succeeded in defeating authoritarian governments, etc. Lakey opposes the use of armed self-defense. He feels that it is pragmatically not an effective measure because it will be met with increased state repression. He gives the Black Panther Party as an example to illustrate this point: “Their effort to create the capacity for armed self-defense gave the racist federal government the opening it needed to destroy at least one of its enemies…The government often needs movements to be violent in order to be able to repress them effectively.” (Lakey) Churchill makes the assumption throughout his book that most nonviolent activists today are white and middle-class. This is a point that Lakey disputes. “A far, far higher proportion of people of color have engaged in nonviolent action in the U.S. than have white people, and continue to do so year in and year out.” He continues, “Not to mention the role of nonviolence in the anti-colonial struggles in Africa and Asia.” (Lakey) In regard to the assertion that nonviolent action is inherently a middle-class phenomenon, a claim Lakey finds even more outrageous, he responds: “A far higher proportion of working class people have engaged in nonviolent action than middle class people.” This is evidenced, he says, in the labor history of the U.S. as unions have repeatedly utilized nonviolent action. In response to Churchill’s emphasis on employing a diversity of tactics, namely violent ones, Lakey provides historical examples in which the tactics used by the movements undermined each other in the end. He argues that the strategy must be “internally consistent” and that the tactics must “support each other instead of subtracting from each other.” Finally, Lakey challenges Churchill’s claim that ‘nonviolent revolution’ is a contradiction in terms. Here he reemphasizes the power of non-cooperation and provides more historical examples to prove that nonviolence, more so than violence, has revolutionary potential. Churchill and Lakey both present thought provoking ideas about effective strategies for social change. Their arguments for and against nonviolence are equally persuasive. However, the basis for both of their sides is flawed in many ways. I will attempt to address some of these problematic points, although there are undoubtedly many others. Churchill offers some useful criticisms of nonviolence, namely challenging the actual effectiveness of nonviolent action and the issues of privilege associated with taking a pacifist position. However, as Lakey points out, in order to seriously consider a ‘diversity of tactics’ there must be a comprehensive strategy presented for revolutionary violence within a North American context. Perhaps if Churchill were to attempt to formulate such a detailed strategy he might question some of his assumptions about the virtues of “offensive military operations” such as the “elimination of critical state facilities.” This has become particularly clear since the recent attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. These "offensive military operations" that targeted the nuclei of American militaristic and economic hegemony on September 11th, 2001 succeeded only in illuminating the most reactionary elements of the state: increased domestic repression, racial and ethnic hatred, and brutal war abroad, along with disastrous effects on working people. Churchill’s response to the 9/11 attacks, entitled “Some People Push Back”: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens, counters the idea that the terrorists who hijacked the 3 planes that day targeted “innocent civilians.” He states: "There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center…Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break." (Churchill, <http://www.escribe.com/culture/ native_news/m17327.html>) Churchill concludes: “If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.” (Churchill) There is much to be said about these strong words. Joel Kovel, radical author and professor, summed up Churchill’s response as, “twisted out of shape by hatred engendered in moral outrage” (e-mail correspondence, 11/15/01) Another problem with Churchill’s critique of nonviolence, and this will be applied to Lakey as well, is the way in which he presents social history to back up his arguments against pacifism. There is truth to his assertion that other factors, often violent, contributed in creating the changes that nonviolent movements are credited for bringing about. However, it is problematic that he uses this as a basis for discrediting nonviolent movements. Besides the obvious reasons, this discounts any potential for a new revolutionary nonviolent movement to emerge with different aims than its predecessors. Lakey’s interpretation of history is arguably even more problematic. He provides example after example from history as evidence of “people power” defeating the violence of the state. The problem lies in the simplistic nature of his interpretations of history. For example, when replying to the contention that ‘revolutionary nonviolence’ is a contradiction in terms Lakey presents the 1968 uprisings in France. He contends that the workers and students were close to making revolution but when they turned violent and began to destroy property they alienated their “middle-class allies” and the result was defeat. He states, “If the French students had known that their real chance to win was based on the power of non-cooperation, they would not have needed barricades and property destruction.” (Lakey) Again, there may be some truth to this assessment, but in general its simplicity denies other essential historical factors that helped shape the events. When one side is exclaiming the nonviolent victory of Gandhi’s struggles in India to prove that it can happen anywhere and the other highlights the decline of the British Empire, due to global violence, in accounting for India’s independence (Churchill, p.42) who can we believe? In both cases, the use of historical examples is rather inadequate in arguing the pragmatic virtue of either approach to social change. In this overview of nonviolent action versus a revolutionary diversity of tactics merely providing the views of Churchill/Ryan and Lakey has its limitations. In order to comprehensively survey this subject it would be necessary to provide the wealth of ideas on both sides from Gandhi to Mao Tse-Tung, from Leo Tolstoy to Che Guevera, etc. However it is quite a vast subject and I chose to focus on the prospects for contemporary revolutionary change, primarily within the context of the U.S. In this respect, Churchill and Lakey have succeeded in at least starting a dialogue about these pressing issues. Another contemporary activist and radical theorist that has offered useful contributions to this debate over violence is Michael Albert, founder of Z Magazine. Even as a ruthless critic of ‘fundamentalist pacifism’ Albert favors a non-violent approach to social change, like Lakey, on pragmatic grounds. In his latest book The Trajectory of Change (South End Press, 2002) he states: "It’s really quite simple. The state has a monopoly of violence. What that means is that there is no way for the public, particularly in developed First World societies, to compete on the field of violence with their governments. That ought to be obvious. Our strong suit is information, facts, justice, disobedience and especially numbers. Their strong suit is lying and especially exerting military power. A contest of escalating violence is a contest we are doomed to lose. A contest in which numbers, commitment, and increasingly militant nonviolent activism confronts state power is a contest we can win." (Albert, p.26) Albert continues with his vision of an appropriate revolutionary strategy: "Our tactical sense must be combined with strategic plans carefully aimed at winning. We can have teach-ins. We can have rallies. We can have marches. We can have strikes. We can build our own blockades. We can utilize all manner of creativity and playfulness in our dissent. We can go out and talk to people. We can obstruct. We can destroy property when doing so sends a clear and coherent message. We can hurl back tear gas canisters in self-defense, and tear down walls and other obstacles to remain mobile. But to attack the police with the intent of doing bodily harm, whether with stones or with Molotov cocktails, simply invites further escalation of their violence. It does nothing to hinder elite agendas. Instead, it propels and legitimates them. Anger-fed violence is hard to avoid in some situations. But avoid it we must." (Albert, p.27) Hopefully, this has provided a challenging overview of the subject. Many activists today tend to fall on the side of nonviolence but have failed to critically address the foundation of this position. This is where Churchill’s writings, however flawed, can be useful as it at least forces us to be more conscious of our beliefs and strategies for change. Is nonviolent action truly the most effective means at our disposal or are we simply taking advantage of the comfort zone that it provides us? What are the implications of supporting the violent struggles of Third World liberation movements, but denying the option of violence in our own struggle? These questions are very uncomfortable to face, but this necessary if we do commit ourselves to nonviolent action. In conclusion I present a quote from Barbara Deming. It could be applied to either side of this debate and it reminds us that we must keep our focus, in solidarity, on the common goal of fundamentally changing the world: "There is a sense in which we do share the same faith. When we define the kind of world we want to bring into being, our vision and theirs too is of a world in which no person exploits another, abuses, dominates another-in short, a nonviolent world. We differ about how to bring this world into being: and that’s a very real difference. But we are in the same struggle and we need each other. We need to take strength from each other…I think it is very important that we not be too sure that they have all the learning to do, and we have all the teaching. It seems obvious to us right now that the methods they are sometimes willing to use are inconsistent with the vision we both hold of the new world. It is just possible-as we pursue that vision-that we are in some way inconsistent, too, for we have been in the past." (Churchill, p.164) --------------------------------------- From: Bruce Sterling [firstname.lastname@example.org ] Sent: Saturday, August 03, 2002 5:46 PM Subject: Viridian Note 00325: Open Source Speech Key concepts: O'Reilly Open Source convention, computation, free software, Linux, spam, viruses, means of software production, social organization, Disney, Microsoft, Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, information economics Attention Conservation Notice: Over 5,400 words of diffuse Papal-Imperial ranting to a restive audience of Linux freaks. Links: I was there. Greenpeace contest to come up with a new logo for Esso aka Exxon-Mobil. Entries in the Global Civil Society Design Contest. From: Steven W. Schuldt From: Till Westermayer <westermayer.de/till/projekte/ 02gcsdl.htm>From: Duncan Stewart Subject: The GCS briefcase computer "I respectfully submit:" <http://www.stewarts.org/viridian/GCS> From: R. Charles Flickinger > "My entry for this contest is displayed at: "Thanks for a real neat contest idea. I would like to add my design is entirely achievable." R. Charles Flickinger Aurora, Oregon This contest expires in two weeks: August 15, 2002. "A Contrarian View of Open Source" San Diego July 26, 2002 Thanks for showing up to see the obligatory novelist at this gig. It's very touching of you to take the trouble to watch me get some emotional issues off my chest. You know, I don't write code. I don't think I'm ever going to write any code. It just amazes me how often people who know absolutely nothing about code want to tell software people their business. "Why don't they just," that's the standard phraseology. "Why don't they just" code-up something-or-other. Whenever I hear that, frankly, I just want to slap the living shit out of those people. That's like people whose fingers are covered with diamonds complaining about the easy lives of diamond miners. You're, like, seven miles down in this diamond mine, and these cats are laboring, laboring with these pickaxes and blasting caps and giant grinding machines. And it's like: "Why don't you people just put in a tomato garden down here? Don't you like fresh air in this diamond mine? How about some zinnias and daisies? You over there, with the carpal tunnel wristbands – you sure look pale, fella! Don't you like the sunshine?" They don't like to confront the sweat, and the labor, the human suffering.... Even people who are in the industry don't like to talk about what a massive drag it is, to sit there, grinding code, at 3 AM, as your eyes, and your wrists, and your spine, all slowly give out. Everybody has to come up with these farfetched, elegant, literary metaphors to describe this process. Stuff like "the Cathedral and the Bazaar." Now, I get it about being the bazaar. I'm a science fiction writer, I got no problem at all with bizarre stuff. But commercial software? Microsoft? As a cathedral? Have you ever seen a cathedral? Cathedrals are medieval religious centers where people do penance and take vows of poverty. They worship relics of the holy dead in there. Microsoft is a commercial software company. It's the commercial software company. It's got to be about the least cathedral-like structure known to humankind. When you go into a cathedral, you don't read shrinkwrap licenses. There are no developers' documents in there. You've gotta read stuff like the Bible in a cathedral. And it's an interesting book, the Bible. Not one word about software in it. It's got all these obscure parables and weird war stories and such. Like the story of Jesus Christ chasing the moneylenders out of the temple. I know this is kinda hard for contemporary people to get their heads around, but Jesus Christ used to beat people up with a whip for being capitalists. He chased the moneylenders out of the sacred precincts. They were extremely alarmed by this. They were screaming stuff, like "Hey wow! The Prince of Peace is beating the living crap out of us!" He didn't even claim that they were crooked moneylenders in the temple, it's not like they were Enron or anything. It's just – the very idea that there should be any commercial activity whatsoever in a cathedral – this was enough to make the world's best known prophet and pacifist philosopher completely blow his top. This interesting divine perspective is kinda overlooked in Eric Raymond's metaphorical treatments, I'm noticing. When you look at the way Open Source plays out in our society, you get a rather traditional industrial dynamic, very early-20th-century. It's this classic artisans-versus-factory model. It's not about a bazaar. Because bazaars are pre-industrial, they're swarming with crooked rug merchants, and pickpockets, and lepers straight out of the Arabian Nights. Open Source isn't about being some kind of canny rug merchant with an eye out to make some fast dough. Open Source, basically, is about hanging out with the cool guys. It's very tribal, and it's very fraternal. It's all about Eric, and Linus, and RMS, and Tim and Bruce and Tom and Larry. These are guru charisma guys. They're like artists, like guys running an art movement. Guys who dress up with halos and wear wizard hats. That form of organization is not a bazaar. It's not a cathedral. But it nevertheless has some distinct advantages. Because if you're in a cathedral then you have to wear this holy uniform all the time. If you're in a bazaar you have to stake out this patch of ground and keep it, and defend it, or just get overwhelmed by other guys greedier than you. The coolest thing about doing this artsy noncommercial creative work is that you get to stop. You get to throw up your hands and quit, if you want. It's like a charity. The widows and orphans are telling you "Thank you for not letting us starve, kind sir!" They're all grateful to you, they're touching the hem of your garment. You get to feel pretty good about what you're doing, and if you're tired, you just stop. It's like: "Okay, I'm tired! I've got compassion burnout now. No more free software. Lady, you and your damn kids can starve." Nobody can do anything about that sudden refusal on your part. "Well, he gave us a really cool algorithm.... What more can we possibly ask?" If you abandon your rug in the bazaar, people just steal it immediately. They steal everything in a hot second. But if you abandon your open source code, the code just sort of sits there. Other people pitch in, and it gets bigger and fatter. There are big festering piles of code, huge piles of code. This has been playing out for seventeen, eighteen years now. A classic struggle in other ways. You've got the Stallman free-as-in-freedom model... This guy sees code as some kind of handmade luxury vehicle. Maybe it's a tank. And you've got Gates, who is the commercial industrialist robber baron. The Ford Model T... any color you like as long as darkness is the standard. If you're prettier then Gates underprices you, and if you're cheaper then he uses Fear Uncertainty and Doubt. This guy... William Gates? He's my age. He's a gentleman of my generation. We're a few months apart in age. I've never met him. I hate to pick on him. Really. He's obviously a very smart man. And he's a nicer guy, as a human being, than a lot of his competitors. But I have to pick on Bill, instead of Bill's competitors. Because Bill physically killed and ate all his competitors. The older Bill gets, the uglier he gets. He's a guy riding a white horse, that turned into a runaway bronco bull, that turned into a scaly crocodile, and now, it is turning into some kind of diseased revenant. It's like the Steed of the Nazgul, those black, flying zombie horses that explode when exposed to fresh water. That's what Microsoft is like now. These guys, these Nazgul... They used to be kings. They were originally human beings, they had wives and children and futures, they had their own little nations to govern and manage. But then there was the One Ring – One Ring to Rule Them All. One. And they couldn't resist. And they gave in. It's not even about "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt" any more. The flavor of it has changed. If you look at it, it's all about Fear Uncertainty and Hate. "Where do you want to go today – to give us some money, OR ELSE?" And the answer – the popular American answer, really a kind of consumer uprising here – is: "I wanna go steal some MP3s!" That's the answer. "I wanna go pirate some Hollywood movies and keep 'em for myself, please!" And the reaction is: "Gee, our customers are criminals! They must be spied upon, lest they hurt us, and one another!" The result is 95% market domination by Microsoft. But that's not a market economy. That's not even capitalism. That is a state-capitalist, state-sanctioned monopoly that Mussolini would have smiled on. Mussolini used to give the people of Italy free radios. But they would only tune in to the fascist station. This was supposed to be the only kind of radio that people in Italy understood. This was the entirety of Italian radio as a medium. Mussolini's radio had just one big dial on the front that said "Radio Zone." The devices we're looking at now have that vibe to me. The contemporary PC, this is like hostility and paranoia made into a plastic consumer device. By Intel, and Dell. And Bill – I don't sense that he's happy about this. The man seems troubled. He has a guilty conscience. He's vaccinating kids in Africa who don't have telephones, while kids in the USA who have Pentium 4s are spewing his viruses. What the hell kind of industrial policy is that? Teddy Roosevelt would jump down off Mount Rushmore and kick our ass from hell to breakfast for tolerating such a situation. It's the Palladium Security State. It's an operating system that hates and fears you. Microsoft Windows is slowly but surely becoming an armed terrorspace. It's like an airport. You go into an airport nowadays, it's really kind of amazing that the people who run them still expect you to spend money in there. They still pretend to you that you are this pampered jet-set consumer, instead of a captive under armed guard, which is what you are. People in airports do horribly oppressive things to you. They go through your shoes, they empty your pockets. They confiscate various small but valuable items. "Where Do You Want to Go Today?" That's what they say in the airport, but there's this skeleton grin behind that question. There are men in camou with automatic weapons. There are surveillance cameras all over the place. You can't bring in your wife, your girlfriend or your grandmother without a ticket. You can't sob as you kiss your mother goodbye for the last time at the airport, because it's all on security tape. Then you wander into this rigid, bloated terrorspace, where, during every move and every action you undertake, it's presumed that you have swallowed dynamite and will cheerfully kill anyone you see. And yes, that's also the contemporary computer system. The computer industry is really screwed-up now. There are razor-thin returns on investment, because you are no longer allowed to invent anything or genuinely surprise anybody. And if you do, that will be immediately swept up into Microsoft's operating system, or even Apple's dinky little operating system. The computer industry is losing tons of money now. All that boasting about the largest legal creation of wealth in history... It's the largest semi-legal destruction of wealth in history. It blows my mind that these VC guys, who spent 20 years blathering about Ayn Rand capitalism, don't just admit that they live and work in a stagnant monopoly. What a bunch of limp-wristed sissies these captains of industry turned out to be, all these swaggering mercenaries so eager to punch out the bureaucrats in the free market. They're a race of slaves! They're like deer in the market's headlights, they creep around like mice. It reminds me a lot of METROPOLIS. That old silent movie, with the robot that turns into a pretty girl? In that film, METROPOLIS, they've got this sweet-tempered liberal girl, who's trying to educate the workers' children. But she gets kidnapped by the corrupt oppressors from the top of the givernment. Then in comes this deranged operating system that moves like a woman.... The difference between the denizens of METROPOLIS and the movers and shakers in the computer industry is that the degraded proletarians are willing to rebel, while the Americans just moan and writhe in their sleep as their stock options go underwater. It amazes me that the grocery boys in Silicon Valley don't just kick them unconscious and take their sports cars. The stark moral choices that underlie all this... they just keep getting starker. There's nothing newly created. Even free software guys, who like to spend a lot of time talking about grand community-building schemes, spend most of their working time aping commercial products. That's what they do. "We've built something that can interoperate with Microsoft!" That's like sticking banderillas in a bull, when the world really needs at this point is something like... a piping-hot catfish dinner. OPEN SOURCE CONFERENCE ORGANIZER: I'm sorry, sir -- we have to move your room. Bruce Sterling: You have to move my room? ORGANIZER: Yeah. Sorry. Bruce Sterling: Can't you just throw out half the audience? AUDIENCE: (laughs ominously) ORGANIZER 2 (soothingly): It's just right next door, though. Bruce Sterling: It's "just right next door?" ORGANIZER 2: Just right next door. Bruce Sterling (to audience): Are you guys gonna rebel at this? Guy in Audience: Open up the walls! ORGANIZER 2 (hastily): No, they can't open up the walls. They're gonna move that one in here. That room next door is bigger. More people will be able to sit down. It'll be more comfortable for everybody. Bruce Sterling: Maybe I should just wind this up. AUDIENCE: NOOOOO!! Bruce Sterling: You're really going to get up? Like the waters of the Red Sea? Okay, let's see you do it. I'm the last man out of the room. (tape break) Bruce Sterling: I know lunch is coming, we've got to eat... But I'm still venting my ever-growing fury! There's a noticeable lack of basic creativity in the free software world, that is alarming and not very flattering. People in free software still have a basically piratical state of mind. They want goods without working for them. They still have a cracker state of mind. "How can I look through that closed bedroom window?" "GNU's Not Unix." Okay, you're "not Unix" – but what are you really? Why do you have to live in that shadow? The shadow of this other enterprise. There's something basically juvenile about that. Something that is unworthy, creatively feeble, childish. But it's not as bad as the scene in commercial software. There's no reason to buy Microsoft dot-Net stuff that spies on you and installs digital rights management gizmos against your will. Why buy into that? Do you want to get sucker-punched? Do you want to make Jack Valenti the king of your box and Mickey Mouse his commissar? Plus there's those virus horrors. And why people are willing to do this to the people they love and trust best in the world is beyond my understanding. If you had some kind of sexually transmitted virus, and you woke up in the morning dripping pus, I would hope that you would understand that there was some kind of moral need for immediate action. Even if it was kind of inconvenient and humiliating and personally degrading. But if you're running Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, it somehow seems kind of okay to spew Klez-H, Sircam, Klez-E, Magistr-B, Hydris-B, Magistr-A, BadTrans- B, Vavidad.E1, Yaha-A and MyLife-J. And you're not just infecting your girlfriend, boys. You can hit your mom, your grandmother, your maiden aunt, your ten-year-old daughter! "Gee, why didn't you teach your ten year-old not to click on the attachments?" Because she's ten years old, you moron! I had a long argument about this with Cory Doctorow. He and I were really going at this hammer-and-tongs, over the growing spam and virus crisis. And I thought that there needed to be some kind of political and legal solution. Like building a galvanized steel cage in Cuba and throwing all the spammers and virus writers in there as unlawful combatants who are clear and present deadly enemies of humanity. AUDIENCE: YAAAY!!! (Applause) Whereas Cory is a techie, and he wants a techie solution. So he's a fan of stuff like Vipul's Razor, and he doesn't mind if the traffic on the Internet is 96% fraud, malware and evil garbage as long as none of it gets on his feet. So, I let Cory convince me and I installed Mozilla on my Mac. And its bug-track completely wrecked System 9. So I stopped fighting with Cory Doctorow. Not because he was winning the argument, but because his fucking Open Source solution cost me three days of desperate effort to restore my files! So I took the further trouble to install System X, and I backed up everything of course, but I still don't get it about System X quite frankly, and neither does System X. It never knows what it's running. There are chunks of Microsoft code in there like giant lumps of black putty just lying to you about what they are doing on the Internet. It's like trying to wade through drilling mud running this thing. It steers itself by committee. And Microsoft Internet Explorer and AOL, they desperately hide the realities of the Internet from you, so that they can profit from your growing and ever more permanent confusion. As opposed to the sparkling lucidities of the free software developers! Free software, basically congealed by people who have some vague idea what they are doing, and are loathe to spend any time writing down specs, when they could be writing new features. Another Guy in Audience: Preach it, brother! "Don't like it? Hey, just reconfigure it yourself, don't bother me!" It's the Hippie Squat Model of software architecture. "If I want to paint the doors and floors bright blue and put the toilet right into the kitchen, why not?" It's very offensive to user sensibilities and it is as ugly as a sack full of penguin guts. But, you know, that is a vital systemic advantage. Because that catches the eye of the committed crusader. It actually brings people in who will stay and work hard for no money. It's like life in a refugee camp. If you want Doctors Without Borders to show up, you don't want to have yourself any kind of really nice refugee camp. With some flowers, and a safe place for old ladies to knit. You want that inferno of starvation and disease that looks really good on CNN. Because if you actually organized a refugee camp, then you'd have stuff like taxes and gas and electricity and police protection, as opposed to what one gets in squatters' camps, which is, incessant internal quarrels. Because there's never just one gang trying to run the anarchy. You get bitter quarrels, between Free Software and Open Source, between the Stallman hero-model and alternative business. And, that's an interesting discussion. But, nevertheless, it's an industrial model which is in practically every sense much less attractive than the one of the early 1980s, when there was a genuinely functional computer industry with some actual competition in it and room for real innovation. But at least open source is clearly better than the Microsoft stranglehold. Man, US Steel, General Motors and Standard Oil at their worst and cruellest were better than that. What's the real price you pay for free software? The real price you pay is having to bow the knee to the weird organizational model and the freaky, geeky social values that prop that up. If you're the user, you have to hang out with Linux freaks. Yet Another Guy in Audience: And buy us beer! That is the price. You pay a price in attention and respect, and hours and hours and hours of selfless devotion. You keep feebly hoping that something will actually work right out of the box, and maybe even look nice. But then you get stuff like Gnome, KDE and Eazel... They just don't like to do the boring stuff for the stupid people! That's just not in the job description! It's not even a job. That's the secret. You know, information doesn't get to be free. But that's got very little to do with the bits, or the atoms, or the bandwidth, or the speed of the copying, or any of these things that techies lick their chops over. Information stays expensive because of the social processes in which information is embedded. Let me see if I can make this clear to you with a whole series of nice little literary metaphors. We need to personalize this problem, as a series of human stories about human relationships. First of all, let's just forget about stuff like cyberspace and the speed of light and the weightless bits. Given that there is a ferocious triple dominance of Microsoft on operating systems, Intel in chips and Dell in hardware, the computer industry is finally getting boring. Almost as boring as my own business, the book business. It's still pretending to innovate, but its glamour routine has gotten all ritualized. The machines are slow, the programs are bloated, the changes are cosmetic, just like the heyday of Detroit's Big Three carmakers, so many years ago. The computer business wants to be really hot and sexy. It's like eavesdropping on a rich kid's affair with a supermodel. He's the user, he's the customer. He's eager, he's gullible. But she'd better be taut, hot, and totally glittering, or he'll pitch her right off the edge of the loading dock. She's the vendor. She's this lean, mean, beanpole- tall jet-setter who's always heaving iron in her gym or preening before the cameras, screaming hysterically for next season's fashions. And as long as both of them don't know what's coming next -- as long as they can't outguess that, as long as they just plain don't know -- then they'll be as glamorous as all get-out. Just as long as their bubble of mutual infatuation has yet to burst. Because in the information economy, everything important that happens is about the relationship. The information economy is about who promises what to whom. Behind the scenes, it's all about commitment. The point is to make it harder to break up with me, the vendor, than it is to put up with my continual exploitation. There are basically six ways to do this. They get used in the information business all the time. Number One. A contract. We'll put it on paper. We'll make it a legal, binding relationship. We somehow agreed that we really need each other in order to go on living. We stood in front of witnesses and we agreed to stick it out no matter what. That's normal, it's honest, it works. Unless it doesn't work, in which case it gets really nasty and leaves permanent scars. Number Two. Brand-Specific Training. I'm really complicated and hard to figure out, but I give you something you just can't seem to get elsewhere. We spent endless days and nights talking over all my painful personal quirks and kinks, and getting all wrapped up in me and my needs. Now that you finally understand me, it just seems exhausting to throw me over and try to date somebody new. Number Three. Search Costs. There's probably somebody else who would suit you as well as I do, but you're never going to find them – not in a sorry little town like this, anyway. Number Four. Information Formats. Nobody else can even speak our language around here. We've got a private argot of voodoo keyboard rituals. It's like a private lovers' baby-talk. If you try to ditch me and pick up somebody else talking that way, she'll look at you as if you came from Mars. Number Five. Durable Purchases. You bought a huge mainframe and special scanners and printers, and a car and a fridge and a house. You can't just walk away from all that. Boy, can I ever make that cost you. Number Six. Loyalty programs. I seem to like you better every time we go out together. I come up with all kinds of sweet little favors based on how well we're getting to know each other. Your Mom and Dad will love me. So will your friends and family. Look how thoughtful and generous I am with the people who can commit. Let's all get real, real cozy. There are some other interesting aspects of this informational romance. They may not seem real technical – you may not find them built into the hardware – but these gambits all get people to pay big, expensive wads of money for information that wants to be free. A. Branding and Reputation. Listen, baby: you can trust me. I've got breeding: my famous family of products has been around for generations. I'm just not that kind of guy! Why would I risk all that just to take advantage of you in this one little situation? Stick with the gold standard – me and mine – and save yourself a lot of heartbreak. B. Standards-Setting. Everybody depends on me. I shoulder the grave responsibility of being reliable and predictable. I am the authoritative source through which all good things flow. The government smiles on me. So do international committees.|| If it doesn't work
with my stuff, it just plain doesn't work. C. Expectations Management.
Also known as "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt." I know you're thinking of buying
from that other vendor. But his stuff is hazardous and will injure you.
Besides, I'm making one of those myself, just next quarter. Mine will be
much better than his, and more people will use it, so you'll just have
to buy it from me anyway, and plus, everybody will laugh at you. You'll
lose your job. Look at the way I stepped on my competitors. I could step
on you, too. D. Creeping Featuritis. I'll add more and more "attractive"
features to keep my jaded user intrigued. You like eye shadow? Lip gloss?
Tattoos? Piercings? How about some latex and black rubber? Would a clown
wig help? E. Sell the Organization, Not the Information. Let's be very
clear about this. I'm not selling you ones and zeros. You are hiring me
as your grand vizier, because I have a deep cybernetic insight that is
denied to lesser beings. I'm an indispensable part of your management team.
Just give me your wallet, I'll look after all that. F. Dubbed Local Versions.
It's too hard to get a date in the English-language market, because they're
all so cynical and sophisticated! But I'll be wonderfully glamorous if
I take everything I learned and translate it into Hindi, Chinese and Malay.
Quite a spread, isn't it? You wouldn't think relationships could be so
full of pitfalls! And then – there's the Open Source Model. That Linux
Girl. That little slip of a hippie girl. She's barely noticed at first.
She lives in a little trailer shack, and her address at MIT is 666 Infinite
Corridor. She's got this mad geek stare in her eyes. She's got open arms,
and a threadbare tank top, and unbuttoned jeans. Free Love, that's what
it's all about for our Linux Girl. Free like freedom, free like beer, free
like, whatever. She's playing old, sentimental, Linda Ronstadt albums...
"You and I travel to the beat of a different drum"... Love, Peace, and
Linux... "I love geeky guys," says the Linux Girl. "All geeky guys, I love
ALL geeky guys. And I'm not ready to settle down. EVER!! I don't do that
AT ALL!! Washing your socks, ironing your shirts, HA HA HA, let me offer
a light little hippie-girl laugh here! Just cruise on by the trailer, handsome!
I'll take my clothes off. No, it's better than that. I'll take my RIBS
off! You can see RIGHT THROUGH ME! I've got nothing whatever to hide! I
am open all the way through!" The A&R guys from the industry are dropping
by... "We may have a star here boys, I'm liking this Janis Joplin thing...
But wait a minute, Janis here doesn't do anything but free concerts! And
I guess her code looks pretty tight and shapely, but her body is completely
transparent! You can't get anybody to pay to see a woman sing when her
body is clearer than glass! It kinda defeats the whole purpose, really!
It's like some kind of totally academic thing she's got going on here!
She's like the Visible Woman! There's something creepy and medical about
her..." Free Love as a policy is sort of okay. I mean, people will kinda
overlook it when you're young... Because they expect you to die, of VD
or AIDS or something! But the Linux Girl just laughs at viruses. "HA HA
HA! Only debutantes from Redmond get viruses!" And then she starts having
children. Any guy's children. She'll have your child, as long as you're
not particular about giving it your name. She's got a whole brood of kids,
like Sendmail, and Postfix, and Apache, and Perl. And some of 'em die young,
and some are mentally retarded. But the hippie earth mother is just hitting
her stride here. She's a one-woman demographic boom! She's having litters
of kids, kids by the dozens. Cops are coming around, and stuff... "Is this
your trailer park, ma'am?" "Not really, officer!" "Could we see some ID,
please?" "I never bother much with any official papers!" "Are you from
around here, ma'am? You don't look very American." "Actually, I'm Finnish,
officer! Look at this old birth certificate!" "We'd better run her in for
questioning.... Whoa! I can't even get a grip on her! It's like pitchforking
mercury! It's like she's made outta mirror sites!" And the guys from Redmond
come by and roll down the smoked glass in the back of the limo... "She's
DISGUSTING! She's a cancer on our community!" Now the very earth is starting
to crack where this woman walks... She's as big around as a bus! She's
got children in places other business models can't go, places they've never
even heard of! She's got children like... Red Flag Linux. This Chinese
kid, in a little Mao suit. "Thank you for the free software, Mother! We
will destroy the running dogs of Wall Street now!" "No problem, Red Flag,
they're doin' it to themselves! He's such a polite and disciplined little
boy, my Red Flag Linux!" And then there's the Simputer. He speaks Telugu
and Hindi and Urdu, and he costs only two hundred bucks! "I love you Mom!
I am the future, Mom! Demographics and birth rates are on my side, Mom!
My new President is an atomic rocket scientist Mom! Someday you will die,
Mom, and I take you to the Tower of Silence for a Parsi funeral where the
vultures will eat your flesh, and then the future of computing will be
mine as far as the human eye can see!" "HA HA HA, oh my Simputer boy, he's
so imaginative!" In conclusion: these are some pretty hard times. In times
of adversity, you learn who your friends are. You guys need a lot of friends.
You need friends in all walks of life. Pretty soon, you are going to graduate
from the status of techie geeks to official dissidents. This is your fate.
People are wasting time on dissident relics like Noam Chomsky. Professor
Chomsky is a pretty good dissident: he's persistent, he means what he says,
and he's certainly very courageous, but this is the 21st century, and Stallman
is a bigger deal. Lawrence Lessig is a bigger deal. Y'know, Lawrence, he
likes to talk as if all is lost. He thinks we ought to rise up against
Disney like the Serbians attacking Milosevic. He expects the population
to take to the streets. Fuck the streets. Take to the routers. Take to
the warchalk. Lawrence needs to talk to real dissidents more. He needs
to talk to some East European people. When a crackdown comes, that isn't
the end of the story. That's the start of a dissident's story. And this
isn't about fat-cat crooks in our Congress who are on the take from the
Mouse. This is about global civil society. It's Globalution. I like to
think I'm one of your friends. That's easy enough to say. But one of the
true delights of the world of free software is that it's about deeds, not
words. It's about words that become deeds when they're in the box. And
boy, what kind of deeds are we seeing this season! Cybersecurity, the terrorspace,
information warfare, pirate panic... and Mickey Mouse as an armed enforcer
with a Congressional license to stalk and whack P2P networks, mafia-style?
As Worldcom has lost more money that the gross national product of Hungary?
You're gonna see who your friends are before this is over. You have a lot
more friends than you think. Thanks! -----------------
198247 A screaming meme shear from trog anarchists at anti-state.Can anyone define Utilitarianism? "Who wants to participate to help form what will be the LAST revolution on earth, the one that'll take down ALL the governments? James Dalton Bell." <http://www.anti-state.com/vroman/vroman9.html The Jim Bell System Revisited by Robert Vroman Ed. note: This article reflects the views of the author ONLY, not the editors. We have no official opinion whatsoever on the Jim Bell System, aka Assassination Politics. Please see Robert Vroman's original AP article, as well as both Bob Murphy's and Adam Young's response. Let me re-emphasize that I have neither the knowledge nor the will to implement this system. I certainly donâ??t like the State, but I would rather concentrate my energies on constructive rather than destructive solutions. That said, I still think governments everywhere are going to be staring down the barrel of an encrypted gun in the near future, and this article attempts to explain why, in response to numerous objections received since my last article. I also want to point out some areas where I think Jim Bell is completely off base. First of all, his insistence that AP is somehow residing in a loophole of the American legal system that only he is aware of, is absurd, as rightly pointed out by many of his critics. I have no delusions that AP would somehow survive its "day in court" or that even if, due to some arcane technicality, AP is a legal enterprise that that would stop the State from pursuing it relentlessly. Furthermore, I am mystified by Bellâ??s fascination with confrontation and martyrdom (as exemplified by his personal life) and do not think AP will be started by the self sacrificing, or that itâ??s even necessarily a good idea to have that mindset when designing the system. Bell also overestimates the enthusiasm that ordinary people will have for AP by a long shot. I still have reasons to believe there will sufficient customers, but they are not going to be primarily heartland regular Joes, who Bell envisions watching APâ??s deadly progress with amusement. Bell also gives some slightly cockeyed responses to a number of the objections to his invention. In fact really the main thing I take away from his writing is the system itself, not necessarily any of his justifications. My friend and business partner, Bob Murphy presented some powerhouse arguments against my pet theory in our recent columnist debate over the infamous Assassination Politics concept. I contend that under closer examination, his insightful questions can be answered satisfactorily. Additionally, Adam Young has presented a thoroughly researched historical analysis against AP, which I will address first. Young has three main points. First, that assassination has been ineffectual in the past for destroying states. Second, assassinations will instead create a backlash against anarchism by government and citizens alike. Third he does not like the moral implications of the very likely possibility of collateral damage from sloppy AP prize-hunters, given the relatively poor caliber of historical attempts. The first point, despite all its exhaustive research, is Iâ??m afraid to say, totally erroneous, because the mechanism by which AP kills its victims is fundamentally different then assassination campaigns of the past. I am not at all surprised to read that a handful of suicidal ideologues gunning down a few unlucky aristocrats failed to exorcise the nation state. Assume for the moment that APâ??s basic functions materialize (I will get to Murphyâ??s objections later). The pool of assassins has instantaneously expanded from only insane political extremists, to every single violent opportunist in the world who can access a computer. AP represents a veritable full scale war against the State, fought by the scum of society and funded by every partisan malcontent across the political spectrum. A dozen assassinations per century is certainly not going to give any politicians second thoughts about their career choice, any more than the dozen or so plane hijackings in the past 50 years makes me nervous seeing a turban in business class. However, logically speaking there must be some tipping point at which the body count is the most pressing statistic a politician has in mind. AP will surpass this tipping point, where historyâ??s basket case revolutionaries were doomed to fail. The State will of course respond in nasty ways, but inevitably these will prove ineffective in the face of an impenetrable network supporting a sustained and wide spread offensive. Secondly, Young fears that AP will re-enforce the stereotype of anarchists as the 19th century mad bomber and 20th century Starbucks arsonist. This will then erase any chance of our winning hearts and minds via soul stirring online essays, and worst of all, get the lot of us gulagged. What he fails to realize is the absolute lack of a reason for there to be any connection between anarchists and AP. If AP were actually launched, I for one would certainly not be publicly cheering it on (I probably wouldnâ??t even risk staying in the country, having written this article). The people who will be donating will not be doing so for anarchist reasons, they will not assume they are furthering anarchism, they will not make the connection. The targets also, will not probably be prioritized as an anarchist would. Ancaps are too small a group for our bets (if any) to be a major impact, thus if occasional bettors are caught, they are statistically unlikely to be one of us. The assassins will also not be Ancaps, unless any of you have a mercenary streak youâ??re not revealing. If all goes well the admins will either not exist or remain anonymous, and thus their political angle is irrelevant. With no anarchists predominantly involved in any of the core functions of AP, or visibly supporting it, I donâ??t see why Young thinks that the State will blame anarchists for the rise of AP. In fact, if my predictions are correct, the assassins will primarily be the existing criminal class. If the State picks any scapegoats, it will be black militancy, or drug users, or the militia movement, etc, i.e. the people who are actually attacking them. The Government did not condemn anarchists for WTC, they blamed Islamic fundamentalists. Ancaps arenâ??t being rounded up in detention camps, Arabs are. Despite the fact that anarchists have often said things in the aftermath that amount to "they had it coming to them." Which is more or less what Iâ??m saying here. Anarchists will have just as much to do with AP as they did with WTC. The people who are going to suffer the brunt of the Stateâ??s reaction are the actual instigators of violence, and if I read my audience correctly, that will not be any of you. Do you particularly care (aside from general aversion to Statist crusades) if the State launches a crusade against crack heads and professional killers? If the non-betting population experiences revulsion from AP at work, its outrage will be directed at a disparate collection of political interests and unrelated thugs. The State will undoubtedly ramp up its enforcement regime in response to AP, however there is no reason that anarchists would be singled out, when there are more direct threats available. If the State does pick Anarcho-Capitalists as the source of all evil, instead of some other arbitrary group like, say the Republic of Ganjastan, then I advise us all to leave or prepare to be martyrs. At some point things are going to get uncomfortable for non-statists whether its Ashcroft Incâ??s regular scheduled programming, or an AP frenzy whipped totalitarian drive. I plan to be an ex-pat at that time in either case. We can always come back in the aftermath, and start the equivalent of Awdal Roads Company in the former US of A. Third is the issue of collateral damage, which can be creatively ameliorated within the AP protocol. Its conceivable AP players might get in the habit of waiting for a number of high priced targets to get in the same building, and then truck bombing the whole structure to claim multiple big prizes, without concern for the dozens of non-targets cut down along the way. The moral failure here, I believe, lies solely with the assassin. However, my opinion is irrelevant, because if the bettors themselves feel they are responsible and they have a conscience, they will not bet for fear that the target they put money on will take a hundred un-targeted coworkers down with him. Thus AP needs to alleviate the moral obstacles bettors will face in order to have the maximum revenue flow possible. The answer is to allow for pools to be started with any number of stipulations. For example, the prize for politician Z might include the following rule: "If any bystanders are killed in the death of the target, 90% of the prize money will be donated to a fund for their next of kin. The remaining 10% will be distributed evenly to correct guessers via the normal method." Or some such wording that would serve to greatly motivate the assassin to be careful in planning his attack. By this scheme, there could be multiple prize pools for the same target, each with different disclaimers. For example, in addition to the 90% victim payout pool for Mr. Z, there might be a no questions asked pool for the same guy. Presumably, the fewer rules there are attached to the prize, the more likely an assassin will be to take a chance at winning it. Thus bettors have to balance their moral qualms about collateral damage versus their desire to see results. If they care more about bystanders, they should bet into the rules heavy pool, if they care more about eliminating the target, bet into the open ended pool. Unless there is overwhelmingly more money in the "kill by any means" pool, the mere existence of the "kill carefully" pool, should convince the assassin to be as discrete as possible so as to win both prizes. So even if AP bettors are on the whole more bloodthirsty than socially conscious, the few with some scruples will be able to have a large impact on how AP players go about their operations. In fact if AP players really did tend toward wanton destruction in order to hit their marks, it might be in the best interest of people, who either exist in close proximity to a top target, or have a general compassion for bystanders, to bet into the constrained pool, even if they have no desire to see the target dead, but for no other reason than to be sure that when he does die, the assassin will hopefully be motivated by the money in the conditional pool and avoid civilian casualties. Young denounces AP on the grounds that it uses a tactic of the State, i.e. "terror", against the State itself, and this is a reprehensible flaw. Saying that AP is terror because it kills tyrants, is like saying shooting a mugger is terror. Well, yes. If you were unfortunate enough to live in a neighborhood inhabited by gangs, and got a reputation for shooting harassers without hesitation, this would effectively "terrorize" the gangsters into leaving you in peace, or so goes the "armed society is a polite society" school of thought. However, AP does not even qualify as terror in the political sense. The precise political science definition of terrorism is "a group that uses force against an intermediate target in order to bring about a desired decision from an ultimate target". In other words, a terrorist is ill equipped to directly attack the hated government, so instead he blows up a school bus, and issues a public ultimatum that unless the government meets some of his petty demands he will strike again. The logic being that the government is incapable of protecting every school bus all the time, and the terrorist has nothing else to do but plan his next bombing, so he can essentially strike at will. He hopes that eventually the State will tire of this harassment and acquiesce, usually because the population becomes exasperated at the governmentâ??s ineffectual attempts to stop the attacks, and it is in danger of losing its power, not due to any compassion for the school kids. AP does not follow this model, primarily because, unlike the terrorist, it can indeed strike the ultimate targets directly and does not need to play deadly games with intermediate symbols. If anything, AP should be described as guerrilla warfare. Even if the effects of AP end up being terrorist in the popular sense, this is wholly different from say Al Quaeda plotting together in some dusty bunker. AP is a decentralized system unlike anything ever before. Without a central decision making body like a terrorist cell, the targets selected by the AP patronizing public will reflect its userâ??s ideologies. AP will only use explicitly terrorist tactics, if its users overwhelmingly have terrorist inclinations themselves, which given the superior abilities provided by AP, is an unproductive course of action and a waste of money. I hope that is a decent response to Youngâ??s excellent article. On to Mr. Murphyâ??s piece. First Murphy doubts the feasibility of AP with the very legitimate concern that if the system were truly an impenetrable secret to all investigators, there is nothing stopping the AP operators from pocketing all the donations, yet claiming winners had been paid, resting on the impossibility of discovery, and the robbed winnerâ??s desire to remain anonymous (since heâ??s probably got blood on his hands). A better scam might involve creating artificially high bounties, and then only paying out whatâ??s actually in the pot. Since if there are multiple bets on the same day, the prize is split evenly between them, the assassin will not know if he has been cheated or if there are actually were enough other random guessers to dilute his prize down to the share he actually gets. The administrators could also skim off a healthy chunk too, and no one would be the wiser. This would probably be the best way to for the admins to dishonestly game the system, so that they enrich themselves; the assassins are disappointed but not given proof of treachery; and the bounties are higher than normal, thus enticing more gullible thugs. So is this really a problem? Seems to me the system still works exactly as planned whether the admins are honest or not. The only problem is getting people to trust the system in the first place, which Iâ??ll cover in a minute. If we assume that the adminsâ?? purpose in creating AP is to make as fat a profit as possible, then they will not want to blatantly rip off hit men, for fear that word will inevitably get out among the criminal population that AP isnâ??t on the level. However, even in an extreme case where the admins do embezzle every penny, it doesnâ??t matter. Since very few people involved with AP will be actually killing anyone, only a tiny minority of users will feel they have been cheated, while the greater number will be convinced they got their moneyâ??s worth. Thus they will continue to use the system. Future assassins not in communication with their gypped colleagues will also be led to believe others have been paid. Thus everything still works, money goes in, prizes are accumulated, and targets are eliminated. I have never claimed there needs to be If the admins really are capable of hiding all evidence and expertly conning the system, then the system will indeed be conned, and so well conned, that it will continue to run despite being conned over and over. The only problem is if this possibility prevents people from ever starting to bet and becoming convinced they are being dealt with fairly. There are two answers to this: the AP business can slowly build trust with less extreme versions of itself, and also the overlooked fact that people have surprisingly high tolerance for potentially fraudulent online services. To establish itself as an authentic operation, AP might be introduced not as a full fledged death machine but instead as a low key betting pool system whereby users could put money on sporting events or guess the day certain celebrities will get divorced, and other trivial wagers. The selling point is the hardcore anonyminity feature for users in harsher nanny states. In this relatively low risk phase, winners could have the option of being publicly announced for egoâ??s sake, and this would prove the system operated as intended. Then gradually more and more sinister bets would be allowed until it becomes completely un-moderated and AP is born. Such a system would not be nipped in the bud, as Murphy predicts, as there are countless underground betting organizations currently in operation, and proto-AP would arguably be even more secure from law enforcement, by benefit of its exclusive existence on the internet with solid encryption and no face to face contact among users. Even at the intermediate semi-morbid phases its possible proto-AP would not garner significant government attention. Look at this stiffs.com Clearly harmless, but the fact it has garnered no legal complaints is a good indicator that real-AP would be able to go on the offensive for some time before the Feds figured out where the threat is coming from. I also still think the best idea is to design an autonomous system with no publicly identified administrators even in the proto phase, whether this will become feasible with future developments in cryptography remains to be seen. Even if AP did not go to the trouble of gradually building a customer base, does not necessarily mean it will fail. Examine the case of online gambling. Here we have people putting there money on games where the "house" can completely manipulate the odds in its own favor simply by changing a few lines of code, and the user will never know unless he takes detailed notes on winning percentages. They do not even have a reputation at stake like a traditional Las Vegas casino, which could do the same with its electronic slot machines. If a Vegas outfit says its slots pay out 99% or something, people who have no good reason to trust that, still play by the thousands. Many people are unaware that the Nevada Gaming Commission even exists, and virtually none have any idea how good a job they do at enforcing gambling regulations. And inexplicably they play online versions of these same dubious games too, where they have far less control, and nowhere near the trust of a "reputable" brick and mortar casino. Online gambling rakes in millions, despite obvious security holes and opportunities for abuse. An indicator that even if AP is not fool proof as far as protecting bettorâ??s money from the admins, people will still donate and predict. Maybe theyâ??re just stupid, and maybe the online casinos are actually honest. Murphy also points out that if politicians resort to holding Congress inside a NORAD bunker, then any information about deaths inside the mountain can be easily manipulated by the government, thus disrupting the rewarding of correct guessers. I doubt this will be an effective countermeasure against AP. If the outside world never knows that the Feds are lying about death dates, then potential assassins would not be aware their successful hits might be in vain. They would then still have motivation to mount their attacks, and only afterwards realize the governmentâ??s press corps has cheated them out of their prize. However, the people donating money have still gotten what they want: a dead politician, and thus will continue donating. Since the assassin will presumably either be dead, captured or in hiding, he will not be able to warn anyone that the government is using information warfare against AP. Thus the system continues as planned. On the other hand, if it becomes common knowledge that the government is not a reliable source of information, then it will be up to the assassin to make the real death date known. Perhaps acquiring a tissue sample from the victim and anonymously forwarding to independent media, or videotaping the kill shot with some kind of provable date stamp. This means the assassin has to take extra risk in getting close enough to the body to grab some proof, or accidentally providing incriminating evidence on tape, and also risk further exposure in contacting the media. If the AP server is run autonomously, it will have to be programmed to take into account the relative trustworthiness of misinforming government sources versus potentially nutcase indy media, and then make a decision as to the actual date of death. If the information is too ambiguous, then it might extend prize percentages to predictions on neighboring days, based on the probability of being correct. In light of this possibility the assassin would be smart to take out high interest loans and dump his entire net worth into bets on days all around the planned kill date. In light of this development the assassin will have to take more risks and thus insist on a higher prize before taking his chances. Thus this government strategy will only serve to increase the equilibrium price of assassinations, just like their moving into the bunker itself. Matt Apple, brought up a similar potential scam on the forum: "Another problem is the targets could fake their deaths. Suppose I'm a powerful person you've targeted. I just buy a day and then fake my death on that day. I put out a phony death certificate, maybe I even provide some gruesome staged photos of me lying dead. The media reports me dead and the operator releases the dough to the "guesser" ie me. As soon as the anonymous transaction is completed I appear on camera at a live press conference and announce that the plans of the evil electronic terrorists have been foiled and that in an ironic twist I'm donating the bounty they had on my head to the FBI. If this happened just once then all the people pumping up those bounties will lose their faith in the system." If the media is so blatantly lied to, then more so than the AP bettors, the media itself will not believe future death reports. They will want to take pictures at the autopsy or do whatever it takes to have ironclad proof that this guy really is dead. If the media becomes an overt tool of the state, there will still be people who demand an objective news source, whether they are AP sympathizers or not. This demand will support the Matt Drudges of the world who will find a way around mainstream hegemony, and AP can be programmed to ignore statist media. Murphy doubts that my army of gutter trash will be able to make a dent in the ruling class. Perhaps heâ??s right that the average street hoodlum will only be successful in killing mid level bureaucrats that the State canâ??t afford to lavish security on. However if that were true, is it really such a crucial flaw? If AP bettors come to realize that the tiptop of the pyramid can find impenetrable missile silos to hide in, then itâ??s no longer cost effective to chase them with ever higher donations. Like any institution, the State clearly needs support personnel, and even if they do choose to hide in Mt. Cheyenne, they still need people on the ground at the very least to crack heads and collect taxes to keep the lights on down in their hole. If AP bettors become frustrated that the juicy targets are out of range, the next level down is going to take the brunt of it in the face. It might be fun to be a storm trooper, but if suddenly you, due to lack of options, become the priority target for the assassination market, maybe its time to turn in your badge and go back to vocational school. Additionally if you are an ordinary citizen who has up to this time not been involved with AP at all, but suddenly you notice that the tax collectors who stay above ground are getting executed with alarming frequency, you might be more inclined to gamble on fudging your returns or not paying at all, and hoping that the constant harassment provided by AP will prevent the revenue harvesters from noticing you. If the State is denuded of its agents and means of interaction, then it is just as harmless as if it had been chopped up directly. However, it would naturally be more efficient to strike the root. AP would reach its end goal quickest, with the least collateral damage, if assassins were able to hit the politicians even in their super-bunkers. Thereâ??s an argument that there is some upper bound beyond which additional funds will no longer influence the odds of an assassination taking place. Meaning that if $500M is not enough to convince anyone to take a chance on the target, $5B probably wonâ??t either. That may be the case for individuals, but not for groups of AP players. If a mercenary or terrorist group became interested in mounting a multi-person operation like the WTC attack, then the higher the bounty gets, the more equipment they can buy and more personnel they can recruit for the plan. If say, there were multi-million dollar bounties on Saddam Hussein (a safe example) and all his top generals and lieutenants, making their bunker a concentrated mega bounty, it could become worthwhile for some para-military unit to risk a raid. The highest paid professional mercenaries in the world are employed by Sandline International and, according to the UN (who wants to ban their line of work), they make no more than $300,000/yr. Thatâ??s not chump change, but for someone who rides shotgun in a chopper chasing down African guerrillas for a living, the extra risk driving into Baghdad might be worth the hazard pay offered by AP. Taken to its logical conclusion, if there were enough extremely high bounties on a countryâ??s leaders, who were all clustered into one spot, no matter how well defended, it could be cost effective for army sized forces to be mobilized to seize the prize. So even if the top brass did hole up in the ultra bunkers, entire legions of militiamen or other adventurous chaps might come a knocking to snag all those billions. Murphy goes on to say that the average Americans will be horrified by the idea of AP. True, the 50% of the population who donâ??t bother to vote probably will not feel their time is well spent influencing the political system by AP or any other method. Of the other half, probably the majority has no deep interest in the issues or understands anything beyond doing oneâ??s civic duty. Of that slim percentage that actually have strong to passionate views, whatever they may be, therein lies APâ??s demographic. What Bob fails to realize is that AP bettors will not know what they are doing, long term. Very few people are going to consciously decide they want to get rid of government and put money on it. Instead they will donate money against specific politicians in the hope it will help advance whatever pet cause they clutch so dearly. Think if AP were in place back in the 2000 election. Are you a greenie who canâ??t stand the thought of oilman GW raping poor Gaia? Give AP some of your weed money and see what happens. Are you a good olâ?? boy who thinks eco-feminist Al Gore will send the beloved US of A the way of the Roman Empire? Put off buying that new truck and see what AP can do. Even the most authoritarian bastard who ever cast a ballot can list some Statists of a slightly different breed that rub him the wrong way. Do you doubt the gun culture would pass up on an opportunity to bury some liberals, or for the religious right hypocrites to take out some of the godless queers in Washington, or radical feminists putting their 79 cents on the dollar against Deep South carpetbaggers? And more importantly than private citizens, donâ??t forger corporate-statists, like Big Ass Subsidies Inc whoâ??s pocket politician might lose to the candidate whoâ??s platform calls to spend the loot on some other boondoggle. Surely they can afford a million dollar write off if their spot in line at the trough is at risk. The point is that maybe Mrs. Soccer Mom has no strong opinions and would never think of placing a bet, but there are many, many people with strong political views, regardless of what they are. Surely the more diehard or less moral will see that they increase the chances of their guy winning, if the enemy is scared off by a rising AP tab. And the boiling frog effect comes into play as AP makes its mark on the world. When the state predictably increases its enforcement measures, more people will see it in their best interest to bet against encroaching fascists. If you doubt Americans will buy into this system in relevant numbers, I will repeat the point from my first article that Murphy did not address. I can concede that Americans will refuse to play, or that the Feds will manage to protect themselves (I donâ??t) but that does not mean AP cannot be effective. Ignore the NATO countries for a minute. Imagine AP taking root in some exotic locale like Nigeria for example. I bet a lot of those relatively well to do white farmers might take the opportunity to go online and put some money against Mugabe. I also think that one of his sadistic henchmen might be able to do the math to see that the AP prize is greater than his entire combined future earnings. The downside of the Third World is the lack of communications infrastructure, but in the coming years, ever cheaper electronics will make that less and less of an obstacle. The upside of course, is that the leaders are rather absurdly unashamed of their predations, and very frequently there are large contingents of people who adamantly hate them. Furthermore add that these States have less sophisticated means of combating online activity it disproves of, and the fact that the population is used to politicians forcefully attempting to grab the throne. Conclusion is that many of the potential objections that apply to America and the "civilized" world are not to be found at all south of the equator. This could be an interesting test bed for the protocol. If it works, we get another blossoming Somalia. If it fails, well, the country was a hellhole before anyway. Murphy says that if AP works well enough to destroy the state, it wonâ??t stop there and will completely shred civilization. He claims for example that just as disgruntled citizens can axe politicians at will, laid off workers can axe their cost cutting former employers, and that any defenses the private individuals can use, will be even easier for the state to use. This is wrong on both counts. Not only is it harder for capitalists to be killed, they can defend themselves from AP easier. First of all, there are vastly more high ranking business owners than there are high ranking bureaucrats. If the AP betting population suddenly gained an all consuming irrational desire to destroy capitalism, it would take a far greater monetary investment against businessmen than politicians, to reach that tipping point where targets are scared away from their positions. Furthermore, each individual businessman has a much smaller pool of people affected by his decisions. Whereas everyone in the country has to deal with the onerous decrees of the gang in Washington, there are many orders of magnitude fewer people dependent on any given board of directors. Presumably, people who donâ??t work for that company will not be very inclined to donate money, just as not many Americans would bet against Italian party chiefs. Therefore if the boss does manage to royally piss off the workers, he has much fewer potential bettors against him. These are people who have just lost their source of income (with no welfare to look forward to), and have fewer co-conspirators; they will not be able to produce nearly as enticing bounties as those that public officials will accrue. Keep in mind that people who bet against politicians will be expecting their incomes to rise in the absence of taxes, and thus be more likely to bet higher. More importantly, the boss knows who they are. If murder is being considered its likely due to them being whipped into a fury by some mafia goon union boss. The CEO has much more money at his disposal than an unemployed working class gang. If the union leader agitates his followers to wreak AP based revenge against the CEO, he canâ??t expect to survive either. Anyone who attempts to rally workers to donate their already dwindling cash reserves into pointless vengeance will see his own name rising on the list faster than the CEOâ??s. The population of an entire state will be large enough that the number of independent people willing to put money against their powerful enemies will not require there be anyone egging them on. In order for smaller interest groups to get their petty revenge, a more coordinated effort is required. Harder still is that the potential victims have a much more conveniently sized body of suspects to watch, compared to politicians who are being targeted by anonymous bettors hiding among millions or billions. And better still, if the CEO knows whom he fired and who is threatening him, then everyone else knows as well. Would you hire workers who had paid for the assassination of their last employer? If a group of people are fired and their ex-boss is subsequently the target of a fat AP prize, then the entire group will immediately be blacklisted by every other employer. This will provide a huge incentive for individual workers not to toe the union line. Their own reputation and future employability rests on breaking their professional relations civilly or at least without bloodshed. This situation might instead just serve to impress upon corporations the need to be more careful in their hiring and firing. Only take on workers you really need, and only let them go after careful consideration, and in that event, possibly firing them in smaller batches, rather than mass lay offs. Nevertheless this may indeed grant more power to workers. We must remember that not all corporations are nobly building wealth in spite of government machinations. Occasionally there really are scumbags who abuse employees, is it such a disaster if such people fear lethal retaliation for their misdeeds? Another dystopian fear is that AP will support murders between non-famous people over petty frustrations. A scumbag husband wants to get out of a divorce without losing half his wealth, so if he thinks an AP bet worth a quarter of his wealth will get the job done, and does so. An unrelated party kills the wife, scumbag cuts his losses nicely, and the wife is horrendously aggressed against with no chance of justice for her family. Yes this is a problem that AP would exacerbate. Choosing your spouse carefully has always been good advice. However, if the wifeâ??s lawyers checked the AP records and found there had been a substantial prize, despite her being a generally well liked individual, they would decide that the "unrelated" killer might not be such a random tragedy after all. And proceed to hire detectives to investigate the ex-husbandâ??s financial records to find a similarly sized hole. Even if he expertly hid all his transactions with encryption and such, the sheer lack of other suspects may lead an arbitration committee to demand the husband prove his innocence. I assume hiring an assassin to initiate aggression will be a crime in Ancapland, but I will let others debate that. Like the threatened businessman who knows who his potential threats are, in the case of an innocuous unknown being the victim of AP, it will be easy to discover the few or single person that has motivation to invest the significant money involved. AP in fact hurts the chances of the anonymous petty murderer, because the record of oneâ??s prize is public. Anyone who cares to investigate the death of an AP victim can see exactly how much it cost. If the victim had few enemies, it is a simple matter to make the connection between the specific sum and the likely suspects. Compare this to the case of a low level bureaucrat that Murphy complains is just as vulnerable as the rest of us. He is right in saying that it doesnâ??t require one big bet, only lots of little bets. However, unless the bureaucrat has managed to piss off all those people placing the little bets, they wonâ??t happen, and he is safe. If the bureaucrat has managed to do so then thereâ??s probably a reason he deserves it. People in the phone book though, probably do not have multitudes of enemies, and thus are safe from all but an exceptionally wealthy psychopath, which I imagine are few and far between. As for the extortion scheme that Jim Bell rather awkwardly argued against and Bob accurately deflated. The problem there is that the extortionist needs to have enough money of his own to actually place the bet that will attract assassins to his victim. Fortunately, extortionists usually ply their trade because they donâ??t have any money. The thug could bluff, but if called on it, he has no bargaining chips in this case, like an old fashioned significant other duct taped in the basement. If he actually does have the money and the victim calls his bluff, if he goes through with his threat, he has just spent a shit load of money to kill someone for no reason, and with no return benefit to the extortionist. Not a very profitable scam. If he does convinces the target to play along, he still has to communicate his threat. Such exchanges usually involve some amount of negotiation, or complicated instructions that require communication. The extortionist has to sacrifice a lot of anonyminity to pull his crime off. This weakness gives the presumably deep pocketed target plenty of opportunity to spend some of that ransom on private detectives to locate the extortionist. The criminal in this case has no human shields to prevent a raid. The benefit of AP is to allow anonymous assassination contracts, in both the case of the vengeful labor leader, and the crafty extortionist, both lose that shield and leave themselves wide open to retaliation from the greater resources of their chosen enemies. Another concern mentioned on the forum, is that the State, with its trillions of revenue will actually invest money into AP to off its political opponents. This is a pretty ridiculous proposal. First of all, the enemies of your enemies are not necessarily your friends. If the State pays an AP assassin to shoot some, say, ultra-lefty criticizing them, are we really that much worse off? In fact, Iâ??d be overjoyed to see politicians taking out AP bets against their opponents for the most part. Why should a democrat spend valuable campaign money on advertising when he could just pay to have his republican opponent drop out of the race permanently? Libertarians are rare enough that I doubt we present a serious enough threat to the State compared to their fellow parasites scrambling for the best suck spot, that theyâ??d spend money to attack Harry Browne instead of their opponent in the primary who has a real chance of ousting them. Another problem with this supposed counter strategy is that itâ??s entirely unnecessary. If the State really wants to kill someone, they already have all the tools; they donâ??t need to spend money on AP. They could just give Lon Horiuchi his normal paycheck and have him snipe whomever they donâ??t like. Itâ??s not as if they ever get in trouble for it, even when they arenâ??t exactly subtle. It doesnâ??t make sense for them to pay for secrecy they donâ??t need. Finally, this plan would backfire, because if the admins are anarchists, and they take a commission, then the State, by playing AP, is directly enriching someone who will re-invest his profit against State targets. Also, the assassins donâ??t care who they kill if the moneyâ??s right. The State is also enriching people who will be just as happy to come back and shoot Statists, now with more resources to plan hits too. Bob concluded by essentially saying that the only way to anarchy is an enormous campaign of rational evangelism. He disapproves of the whirlwind anarchy in Somalia and similar power vacuums. I disagree. I see much more hope for building Ancapland out of the lawless ashes of a Somalia, than of gradually subliming the promised land out of the monolithic State in an America. If AP does prove the alarmists right, and crashes society into an apocalyptic period, (I do not think this is the case) still, such a turn of events will be in the long run an easier path to Ancapism than the intellectual erosion strategy. Murphy points out the example of the bloodless revolutions in Eastern Europe. To which I respond derisively, what revolution? They traded hard line Russki-communism for soft line Euro-socialism. Thatâ??s even more of a joke than American style Republicrat lesser-evilism. Stasi agents all retired on embezzled millions, and now the Great Terror War is inviting domestic espionage back in force all across the Continent. The only revolution that arguably has ever made recognizable progress is the American experiment, which is notable for killing employees of the previous regime by the thousand. If Thomas Jefferson could have emailed digicash to pub brawlers in London, or scheming heirs in Buckingham palace, mad King Georgeâ??s confused reign would have come to a deserved end before he could futilely attempt to reclaim his rebellious colonies. The point being, in order to get anarchism, I donâ??t think itâ??s a question of getting the balls to start sledge hammering the Berlin Wall and hope the Kalishnikov toting border guard respects the numbers presented by all your fellow civil disobeyers. If the only fall out is a different set of thugs being in charge tomorrow, there will of course be less State resistance than if the entire thug industry is being called into question. If you want real change as in no more thugs, ever, then the top thugs arenâ??t going to budge until they have no other choice. The ultimate conclusion then is that if anarchism takes a revolution of the non-bloodless variety, thereâ??s no reason why the fighters shouldnâ??t be backed up by a means to get at the higher ups. Or better yet, replace the fighters entirely with anonymous assassins and strike exclusively at the heights of power. I know I donâ??t want to spend much time huddling in trenches. It undoubtedly sounds arrogant, but I would say that less than 1% of global population has any concept of how the world (i.e. economics) really works, and of those that do, most have got it horribly wrong. However, when they are forced to suddenly make do for themselves in the absence of authority, as is the case of Somalia, Ancapism spontaneously appears without the presence of wise graduate student mentors preaching Mises. It sure would be nice, naturally, if Bob could go over and warn them off from accepting UN overtures of providing "stable governance", but the point is they were able to find profitable anarchism on their own, with little to no knowledge of economics and certainly no deep respect for pacifism. All it took was the total destruction of their state, the means notwithstanding. On the other hand if Murphy expects to get some percentage of the population to side with him before picking up a hammer, he will definitely be taking the long uphill route. Murphy says that a generation growing up surrounded by headlines full of dead famous people will be disastrous. I fail to see how this could be more damaging than the scores of generations stretching back into history that grew up with headlines of how great the State is. The Somalians lived through generations of war, where life was made quite cheap, yet now they are Africaâ??s best chance. If AP worked perfectly and stripped the state away by force in a relatively short time frame, people will be thrust into unfamiliar territory. No doubt in their confusion they will attempt to recreate State functions. These will be torn down again and again. Like a child getting its hand slapped every time it reaches for the hot stove, AP will discipline the world that concentrations of power are bad. In the mean time, if Murphy is able to patiently explain to the bewildered why this is the case, so much the better, but either way, there will be no more State, and they will not have a choice in the matter. Murphy is essentially advocating a Taking Children Seriously approach to enlightening the collectively childlike population. I would rather just smack them until they stop and maybe explain briefly afterwards why. Lastly, it seems clear to me that AP is superior because it is a market process. People exchange value for perceived value. They invest their money for the benefit of removing aggressive people from society. On the other hand, Murphy is advocating a "educate the masses" routine that depends solely on he and his colleagueâ??s dedication to the cause. Not to disparage his efforts, honestly, if anyone can do it, the current crop of anarchist intellectuals has got my fullest confidence. However, I really donâ??t think anyone is going to listen until they are already living in it. I see the economic wizards role as after the fact guides in the new wonderful world of anarchism wrought by AP and other market strategies. Once everyone is stuck in their regional equivalents of Somalia, and wondering what the hell just happened, Bob and co, will step in and say, "Hey, isnâ??t this great, look how much more we can get done now!" And people, who have been forced to find alternatives to formerly government offered services, and no longer obey regulations or sacrifice taxable income, will sit up and finally notice Bob, and say, "What the fuck? Why havenâ??t we always done this? Thanks, Bob!" Bob will then smile knowingly and go on a worldwide lecture tour. Then from time to time, a few clueless bastards will try to "get all the guns and take over". AP will mercilessly smite them. Life goes on. In the meantime, I await the next round of objections. August 15, 2002 discuss this article in the forum! RR. -------