Nov 212010
 
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Zen

The Zen master said, “Who binds you?”
The seeker of liberty said, “No one binds me.”
The Zen Master said, “Then why seek liberation?”

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Jan 052009
 
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As you probably already know, anarchists, libertarians, and freedom lovers are really big on books. In fact, the written word is still, by far, the greatest influence on the vast majority of converts. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) many of the books are dry and boring, and 2) the books aren’t exactly easy to “stumble across” if you’re not looking for them.  Freedom Book Club aims to solve both of these problems and you can help.

Each month four selections are posted at the Freedom Book Club home page.  All you need to do is swing by and vote for your favorite.   Then, during the first week of the next month, everyone interested will buy the selected book.  Voting for a selection does not obligate you to buy the book that is ultimately selected.

So, how does this help further the message of freedom?  It’s simple really.  Bestseller lists (New York Times, Amazon, etc) aren’t actually based on how many copies of a book get purchased.  rather, they’re based on how many books are purchased within a given time frame.  In other words, it’s velocity not volume.  By having hundreds (thousands?) of liberty lovers all purchase a specific book within the same week we can rocket these books up onto the best seller lists and get them much more attention from the general public.

Additionally, since each month’s book is selected by popular vote we can concentrate our efforts on works that are much more palatable to a general audience. For example…

Last month’s selection, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, PhD sold out at Amazon.com not once, but twice. Of course, the Freedom Book Club has no way of knowing if they were the direct cause of such a rush on a 5 year old book, but their efforts certainly didn’t hurt! Healing Our World is, quite possibly, the ultimate primer on freedom. Written in an easygoing, friendly style it still manages to tear apart just about every possible reason one could have for remaining a statist despite government’s repeated failures. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you not only put it on your reading list, but that you put it at the very top.

But I’m getting sidetracked again. Just take a few minutes to check out Freedom Book Club.  Not only will you help spread the message of liberty to the masses, but you just might find a few books to enjoy and enlighten at the same time.

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Dec 222008
 
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For some time now, I’ve been considering starting a series of posts answering questions that I’m often asked as an anarchist.  Kind of an Applied Anarchy FAQ, or a “How To Guide” for living free.  Tonight I got a phone call that lead directly into this series…

Q) Would you lie or cheat to get out of a parking ticket?

A) No.  Of course not because lieing and cheating are wrong, plain and simple.

The Situation-

My ex got a parking ticket at San Jose’s Christmas In The Park because her bumper was “several inches” into a loading zone.  A friend told her to back the car up so that it was legally parked, take a photo, and submit that as proof that she was, in fact, legally parked.  When she balked the friend suggested that I would do so (assuming the kids were not around to winess the poor life lesson) because as an anarchist I don’t respect the laws anyway.

He’s right that I think the laws are ridiculous, but I don’t believe any principled person should lie or cheat regardless of the situation.  As an anarchist I would have two choices: ignore the ticket completely or go to court and fight it on the basis that the law is unjust oppression of my rights as a sovereign human being.  I, most likely, would follow the former course, but I have promised Zaira that I would stay out of jail until she’s an adult, and, ultimately, ignoring the ticket would end with me in jail because violent kidnapping is the only option the government has to enforce its will on the populace.  Given my promise, I would pay the ticket.  However, in the past, prior to having a child to care for on a regular basis I not only would, but have merely refused to pay tickets and, when violently dragged into court, argued that the law was unjust.  Of course, that always ended in jail time.

Which is why I’m moving to New Hampshire where I will have fellow freedom lovers to stand alongside me when I refuse the tyrannical government’s edicts.  But that’s too much to go into in this post.

As an anarchist I believe that people are capable of governing themselves.  But with this freedom comes responsibility.  The only way a truly free society will ever prosper is if the people that populate it follow a moral/ethical code and take personal responsibility for their actions.  Lying, cheating, and faking evidence is not taking personal responsibility.  It is, as the friend readily acknowledged, weaseling out of ones responsibilities in order to save a few bucks.  That is not at all what anarchy is about.

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Nov 102008
 
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Although I was aware of Napster, Kazaa, LimeWire and other second-generation file sharing systems I was never much of a fan.  It’s not that I had a problem “giving back” to the “community”, but rather I really didn’t like the security holes that ran rampant with them all.  The idea of opening my computer to anyone with a modicum of knowledge just didn’t sit right with me.  if you want in, you should have to fight your way in.  Then came BitTorrent.  Not only was it faster, but it was much more secure as well.  Media flowed onto my system as easily as water flowed from the taps (but I didn’t have to pay for any of this media).

It’s been about seven years now that I’ve been using BitTorrent to download large files from the internet. In that time I’ve seen dozens of trackers come and go. Many due to staffing or technical problems, some due to government interference of various types. I was even a member of a couple of “private” trackers that turned out to be run by the FBI the whole time. Thanks for all the great free movies and programs, Uncle Sam!

However, (until last week)  it had been more than three months since I made any illegal downloads.  My BitTorrent client (Azureus/Vuze) had been delegated to the useful, but fully legal, status of helping spreadthe message of freedom by seeding the monthly archives of Free Talk Live.  It wasn’t the FBI or fear of prosecution that spared the media moguls the (supposedly) millions of dollars in losses that I and my fellow pirates supposedly inflicted upon them.  Nor was it some form of guilty conscience or newfound moral belief.  No, it was matter of convenience.

You see, it was about four months ago that the television in my room died of old age. At the time I was broke, so couldn’t replace it. A friend then told me about the Netflix “Watch Instantly” program that offers hundreds of movies and television shows for immediate download (in addition to their great thru-the-mail DVD rental). Within hours I was hooked and had a queue of several hundred “discs” in my queue for instant watching. Finally, the market had come up with a solution to sate my media hunger!

Sure, via Netflix I wasn’t seeing the movies currently in theaters, but any that actually had me excited I was paying to go see rather than downloading anyway. I downloaded video so I’d have something to watch, not to watch a particular show.  Television had, largely, filled that need, but with the minimum cost of a cable or satellite package approaching $100/month and the ease of free downloads the math kept me online.  Of course, if the cable and satellite companies had been free to offer true a la carte programming, instead of being locked into the obscenely bloated packages the government required them to offer things may have been different.  But as anyone who pays attention knows, America hasn’t been a free market for a very, very long time.

Netflix gave me exactly what I wanted – a broad selection of entertainment, ready when ever I wanted to consume it, at a reasonable price (less than $10/month).  Once I got hooked into Netflix it took me almost six weeks to even realize that I was no longer pirating media.  There was simply no longer a need.  This ‘new’ system was easier and more convenient.  The fact that it was ‘legal’ and actually helped support the creators of the entertainment that I valued were mere icing on the cake.  The search for profit led the market to fulfill my needs without my even having to ask.  That is the true beauty of freedom.

Oh, for those of wondering why I want back to my ‘evil’ ways in the last week, it’s because my bank screwed up my debit card a few days before Netflix tried to charge my monthly fee.  So my account’s suspended while things get worked out with the beauracy.  Meanwhile I’m cringing for the variety that Netflix offers and making due with sub-par pirated releases.

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Sep 262008
 
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…to be politicians.
While checking out the new Salvation Army Store in Gilroy (one of the few ways to avoid sales tax) last weekend I came across a mint condition copy of Dr. Fred Schwarz’ You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists, originally published in 1960).  The paperback copy I picked up was printed in 1972, but looks like it just came off the press this morning.  But, my love of ‘new’ old books isn’t the point here.  Instead, I’d like to share a section of the first chapter with y’all. Oh, but I am going to make one minor change-

The statement is frequently heard “you cannot trust the Politicians.” This is incorrect; you can trust the Politicians.

They are extremely trustworthy. You can trust a cancer cell to obey the laws of its lawless growth. You can trust an armed bank robber to take the money and try to escape. Similarly you can trust the Politicians to act in accordance with the laws of their being.

When people operate according to clearly defined principles they are both trustworthy and predictable. While we continue to believe that the Politicians think, feel and believe as we do the Political movement is, as Winston Churchill described [the Communists] “a riddle wrapped in an enigma.” The movements of the heavenly bodies appeared mysterious and unpredictable til Copernicus discovered the governing laws. When we understand the philosophy of Politicians the unified purpose concealed in their frequently chaotic and contradictory conduct is revealed.

Schwarz’ purpose (and mine) in these few paragraphs is to help those interested in defeating Communists (Politicans) to better understand their enemy.  As long as you remind yourself that Politicians are trustworthy – in the sense that they will always act in their own self-interest – their actions are vastly more understandable.

If you already consider yourself an anarchist, Libertarian, or freedom lover than this is probably obvious to you.  You’ve also probably encountered many a person who simply can’t understand your views.  This, may well be the reason why.  They have not yet come to realize that politicians always act i ntheir own self-interest. Bring them to that understanding and the rest will most likely fall in place.

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