Category: Articles

How does it feel to be free?

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How does it feel to be free?

When you know that nobody can make demands of you. When you know that you are the greatest authority in your life. When you know you get to choose what you can do, and others can choose what is right for them. How does it feel to be free?

When you can travel the world without asking permission, without having to pay to pass an imaginary line. When the skies and the world are open like a great big adventure. When you can cross a continent, without having to prove to anybody who you are. When your face is your passport. How does it feel to be free?

When you can work for whom you like, and whoever likes can work for you, in the way you both choose. When you know your life is your own responsibility, and you know it’s your responsibility to take care of those around you. When you never say “Someone (else) should do something about it.” How does it feel to be free?

When your projects grow like spearmint on a wild and open plain. When you don’t need a licence to innovate. When you know you can make it, because the evidence is all around you. How does it feel to be free?

When everyone you love, you do so not because you’ve been trained to do so, not because you’ve been forced to do so, but because you choose it. When everything you hold dear sits in that purest place of your heart. When your beliefs are aligned with your spirit. How does it feel to be free?

How does it feel? That’s how you should feel.

Cover image modified and used under Creative Commons – https://moyanbrenn.com/

Would you prefer to live in a just world?

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There is a principle of law that is acknowledged and often enforced all around the world, that if someone interferes with another’s person or property, they will be punished. For example, if you break down someone’s door without a damned good reason, such as the prevention of harm to an innocent, if you are caught and proven guilty, you will be punished. Likewise, if I approach someone and threaten them into giving me money, if I am caught, I will be punished. Of course, if it is found that I was in a very desperate situation such as having to feed my family, this will be treated as mitigating circumstances and the sentence will be reduced. However, I will still be punished.

Given the choice, would you prefer to live in a society where everyone who broke down doors without a very good reason were punished, and everyone who threatened others into giving them money were punished? Or would you prefer to live in a society where certain classes of people had an exemption, where they could break down doors indiscriminately, without good reason, and threaten people into giving them money without being punished at all?

If a person doesn’t give the question its full consideration, most people will say, of course they would prefer to live in a society where the law is applied evenly. But what is the full extent of this proposition?

Police, having no right to arrest anybody whom they didn’t reasonably suspect of harming someone or their property, will decide to keep mostly to themselves, or find productive ways of maintaining the peace, by establishing ties with the community and gaining its trust. Instead of demanding someone pull over for driving too fast, they would calmly and politely ask, and attempt to persuade them that their actions exposed themselves and others to undue risk.

Judges, knowing that they will be liable for any command they make, will be unwilling to enact any punishment against peaceful people, for example, for buying or selling drugs.

Politicians would be scared to pass any legislation punishing anyone who hadn’t harmed another – making the job of politician almost completely unnecessary. And they certainly wouldn’t call for acts of war which endangered the lives of innocent civilians, because every innocent killed could be a charge of manslaughter. Likewise, soldiers would refuse to attack unless they could be certain they were only attacking a legitimate threat.

Tax collectors would decide to change tactics, knowing they couldn’t threaten anybody into getting their money, and so they would instead canvas for donations, or turn to charging for individual services.
If you agree with the premise that those who injure, threaten or steal from others should be punished, you might have to rethink what the problems with the world are, and what your idea of an ideal world might be. If you disagree, and believe that certain classes of people should be free to attack, threaten and steal from others, and even commit mass murder, then again I would suggest you reconsider where your ideas might lead, what kind of ideal world they imply, and whether that is really the kind of thing you want to support, in your heart or in your actions. Do you really want to be a detractor of civilisation, welcoming violence as necessary, along with all of the abuses of power that come with it?

Making a more peaceful world isn’t easy. There will be challenges along the way, inventing new ways of solving problems with less and less violence, or no violence, when previously we believed they were only solvable with violence. And maybe we’ll never achieve such a thing in our lifetimes, or in any lifetime. But when you look back on your life, with your dying breath, will you be content in knowing that your entire life you supported the status quo, that violence is a requirement? Or would you be more content knowing that you dared to dream, to imagine a world without war, without police brutality and abuses of power, where the word “civilisation” is not a euphemism for a society dominated by the threat of violence, but, through an entire population becoming civil, is a literal fact.

I’m not asking much. I’m not asking you to do or say anything, or even exert any effort. I’m just asking you to let go of one idea, the idea that “violence is necessary” – the conviction that even an ideal world must include threats of violence – because whatever happens, the thought of dominating your fellow man out of necessity can never make you happy. To liberate yourself from this idea is to open up new possibilities, to open yourself to compassion for your fellow man, and to embrace the innocent as worthy of your protection.

Episode 101 – Choose Liberty, or Choose Domination

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What do you value? What’s important to you in life? I can name a few things that are important to me: liberty, peace, respect, human rights. Some people don’t value those things, or at least, they’re lower down on their list of values. Instead they value things like certainty, convenience, and even feeling good, and their own ignorance.

Now a lot of people will say that they value liberty, but once you get into it a little more closely, you can see it’s not quite so true. So let me as k you: did you ever value liberty enough to say “Free Irwin Schiff”, a man who was in prison because of his belief in property rights – his belief that his money and other people’s money, shouldn’t be taken from them by force, and used as collateral to fund central banks, and fund expansive, endless wars.

Did you ever value liberty enough to say – at least just say the words – “Free Ross Ulbricht” – a man who provided a service for hundreds of thousands of people, a man who provided a service that was very much in demand, the service of allowing people to buy and sell drugs on the Internet.

The thing is, if you value certainty over liberty, then you must either value your ignorance, pretending that humans rights abuses don’t happen, because of institutions such as taxation – or, you must value the certainty that human rights abuses are going to happen, because that’s exactly what does happen, when you give people the power to rule over others.

Liberty is dirty; you don’t get any guarantees in liberty. Sometimes liberty is even violent. But you know, liberty also gives you personal responsibility – that’s the thing. That’s the great lie; that’s the great trick. Because what they’ve told you is, by giving up some of your liberty, you’re actually going to limit your personal responsibility, which is something that can never, ever be true. Nobody can ever take that power from you – nobody can ever take the fact that you are captain of your own soul, that you are architect of your own destiny. And any responsibility that you have, for the rest of humanity, can never be delegated to someone else. It cannot.

Whether you choose the certainty of domination, the certainty of people abusing their power, or you choose liberty – that beautiful chaos, that beautiful space that allows the human race to transform, to transcend, to create something new and different – whatever you choose, I advise you to choose. Because people may call you many things. They may call you delusional, a pinko, an idealist, a fool, a warmonger, a violent sociopath. They might even call you a freedom fighter. But, as long as you choose, they will never call you the worst of all insults. They will never call you wishy-washy, they will never call you vague, and they will never call you indecisive.

The System Works

You tell me that the system works, that things are going well, that the government feeds the poor, that their regulations prevent people taking advantage of us, that we are safe, and presumably, that we can put our trust in them. You tell me that phasing out governments (and the central banks that back them) might cause chaos, and why should we take a risk when everything is fine right now? You tell me that the system works. I’m inclined to disagree.

Yesterday, I sent my friend in Venezuela a few dollars’ worth of bitcoin. Far away from your mind, people are suffering because of a more-corrupt-than-usual central bank, and a more-corrupt-than-usual government. Many lives have been ruined, and many people are confused, because their fiat currency is collapsing. The official rate for the Bolívar, for bankers and government officials in denial, is 6.35 Bs to the dollar. The real rate of Bolívares to the dollar, is 841.67, and as the value of the currency slips away into the night and into Madero’s buddies’ pockets, laying the foundations of Chavez’s daughter’s three-storey mansion, the remainder of the country dives into poverty.

It’s easy not to think about that, and justify social programs for the poor, that are funded with money from central banks, and believe that these programs do good – without thinking about the real consequences. These programs may have continued for your lifetime, and so, in your mind, you expect them to always be there – these programs which, at best, provide help in a difficult time, and at worst, incentivise people to become trapped in a cycle of poverty or dependency. These things are fine, for now. The poor don’t scream in the streets, for now, because they are well-fed, though every year the old-aged pension of $200 a fortnight is worth less and less, and you don’t hear the cries of the old because they’re too old to cry out. The system feeds those whom it has disenfranchised, and so, you assume that everything is fine. The system works, you say.

The system works, until one day when it doesn’t. The system works until one day when you wake up to find out that it’s a bank holiday, and the government has authorised the bank to take everything over $1,000 in your account, and limit your withdrawals to $50 a day, leaving you unknowing if there will still be money there tomorrow to withdraw. The system works until one day the Deutschmark slips over the fiscal cliff, leaving you wondering how you’re going to find that last billion marks to buy a loaf of bread to feed your family, while central bankers in their country villas sleep on beds of gold ingots. What becomes of the poor then?

The system works if you pretend that there aren’t millions of young men in prison for victimless crimes, a ridiculously high murder rate in Ciudad Juárez, kids killed by stray bullets in Medellín, farmers in Antioquia extorted into growing coca by paramilitaries, made profitable by the War on Drugs, funded by the Federal Reserve.

Tell me that the system works, and all we need to do is take more money from the rich, and everything will be fine, apparently without realising that there has never existed yet a tax system which isn’t built to favour the rich and powerful, and without realising that any tax system will invariably be used to provide collateral for a central bank, which will invariably be used to kill.

The system works as long as the media don’t publish pictures of those wars which central banks have funded. They don’t show you the dead bodies, and they don’t show you the radicalised veterans who have cast the scales from their eyes with anger, who repeat those words “War is a racket.” They don’t show you the millions of dead civilians, the children who only ever wanted to play in peace, suffering from white phosphorous fume inhalation, the images of a father holding his dead babies in his arms and asking God why? Oh no, they don’t show you that.

And as long as they don’t show you that, and as long as you don’t look for yourself and put the pieces together, you can come here and tell me without irony: the system works.

No, the system doesn’t work. And what you don’t realise is, the system is already finished. We already have the technology to solve all of these problems. The system is a dead man walking, and for those of us that see it, when we observe the extreme force that it uses over the coming years in an attempt to maintain dominance, we can take solace in the fact that what we are watching, are the death throes of a millenia-old beast.

 

Kurt reposted this article on his Steemit account here.

Currency Collapse Normalcy Bias

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If you’re not looking for alternatives to government, modern democracy and economies dominated by centralised control of currency, then you’re just not aware how bad things are. To go about your daily life, you might not have to confront these issues. Though you complain to the cashier about prices rising and blame the person or company that’s right in front of you, though you never stop to think about the deeper causes. You complain to your insurance agent that his prices have risen 10%, while the CPI is at 2.6%, but you never question why such a thing as a CPI exists in the first place.

It’s something like living in what you think is a happy marriage – a “satisfied” marriage . You’re more or less nice to your partner and your partner is more or less nice to you. You live together; you’re both financially comfortable; perhaps you even share intimacy from time to time. Yet, one day you wake up and can’t ignore the signs that your partner is cheating on you, or has no passion, or is completely indifferent to your presence. You drive to work and yell at the guy who cuts you off, and that sudden outburst gives you the chance to bury your overwhelming suspicions. You distract yourself with your work, forget about your paranoid, careful, and accurate analysis, and push yourself in denial for another few months. That is something like how a first-world central bank-dominated economy is. You can ignore it, and deny it, until one ominous day, in which you cannot.

Many people in the world don’t have that privilege – the privilege of ignorance of how badly they are being fucked. They have that personal knowledge because they have lived through several economic crises, currency collapses and devaluations. They’ve had to walk in the rain to trade Deutschmarks for pounds with shady characters in a dark alley. They’ve had to walk into a supermarket with the dread that a ruble is no longer worth five “standard units”, and they may not have the money to cover their groceries.

Normalcy bias affects everyone who has some semblance of normalcy in their life, and the more normalcy they have, and the longer it is sustained, the greater the bias.

The question is, what is going to happen in those countries where people have never really gone through an economic collapse or a currency crash, when it finally happens? What happens if the US dollar collapses, reducing central banks’ reserves to worthlessness? How far do the dominoes fall? Are people going to panic? Will there be a state of anomie, with people looting and killing for food and water? Will people be reduced to shock when they realise things that were once commonplace are, at least for today, impossible? What happens if there’s nothing in the supermarket? What happens if there is something in the supermarket, but the hundreds of dollars in your bank account are not worth anything by the time you get there?

The Age of Automation

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We are about to enter an age of unseen prosperity. For years we have been seeing the prices of high technology decrease incredibly rapidly – with an item reducing to a third of its price within a few short years – even to the extent that smartphones and tablets are available to many people, even in developing nations. We’ve already seen computers replace many jobs. Naturally, mechanical thinking tasks such as human computers were the first to go. Yet with the age of automation – the age of artificially intelligent robots – the same gains that have been realised in the technology sector are going to be realised in every other sector – either directly or indirectly.

We are at a stage where machines cannot just aid manual labour, but replace it entirely. Let’s imagine a case study. You might pay $30 for a new pair of jeans, or if you live in Australia you might pay $100. How did those jeans get on your legs? Which steps can be automated, and which steps can be removed entirely?

Those jeans were probably made in a sweatshop in a cheaper country, by hand. They were driven by van to a shipping yard to be packaged and sent across the seas. They’re unloaded at the dock, and transported by truck to a wholesale centre, then on to retail stores. At the mall, the labourers unload the jeans and carry them up to the store, where the shop attendant puts them on the shelves. You take a bus to the mall, and you’re served by a fitter who gives you some tips on sizes and styles. That’s how it happens today. Let’s have a look at how it will happen in The World of Next Tuesday.

The jeans are made in a factory by stitching robots. This factory is located within your own country, as the price of labour (i.e. robot maintenance and electricity) has dropped down so low that it is cheaper to produce the goods in your country than produce and ship them from another. A robot truck delivers them, perhaps interstate, to a local distribution centre. You could go to the mall and look at some jeans, but that’s somewhat excessive when you can just order a solar-powered drone to fly to your house with a selection of jeans in your size, let it land itself on the table and give you a couple of different camera angles as you try them on. Or maybe you forgo remote production and delivery entirely by ordering the patterns online and entering them into your own stitching machine.

Using automation, scores of human positions have been replaced, and scores more have been eliminated. It wouldn’t be unusual to see the price drop to a quarter of what it was previously.

You might say “But those greedy capitalists will just install their robots and keep the profits for themselves! Those savings won’t reach the consumers!” Some of the business owners will behave in this way, no doubt. But it only takes one very efficient and economical company to use a new production and cost model to put pressure on an entire industry. One single company selling clothes this way can disrupt the existing models enough to change everything, bidding down the price like a Dutch auction.

You might say “So what Kurt? Now we’ll be getting cheap jeans, whoopedydediiddly-doo!” The point is this: these savings will be passed on to just about everything you buy. Every table made from wood chopped by robots, every television delivered to your door by a drone, every tomato shipped from Sonora to Jalisco, every piece of fertiliser delivered by auto-truck to grow that tomato, and every irrigation pipe laid by machine. Every, every, everything.

You won’t need a corner store any more. You’ll have access to a convenience distribution centre. Look through the merchandise online, and the drone will deliver your goods in less time than it takes you to walk around the corner and back. The store doesn’t even have to be large enough for customers to walk into, potentially saving money on real estate, or allowing a larger selection of goods.

Many people, when eating cheaply, will opt to eat from fast food machines rather than fast food stalls or restaurants. In apartment buildings, you won’t necessarily have a kitchen within the apartment any more. You will simply look through a list of thousands of recipes, order an omelette from the building’s central kitchen, and the robots will prepare it and deliver it for you, using eggs sent directly from a farm that morning by drone.

I tell a lot of people about these technologies becoming accessible, and they tend to dismiss it as something in the distant future, perhaps something that governments will try to stop, something potentially dangerous, or something which we might not even have to think about in our lifetime. But this is not science fiction or something distant. This is already happening. Google’s autonomous vehicle is already on the roads, along with autonomous trucks; Baxter the robot is already in factories. This is real change that’s already occurring. In five years, these technologies could have a dominant role in many economies.

This could provide many people a problem which they never thought they would have – the problem of having too much money. Of course, many people will squander their newfound wealth. But many more will save it, and take a risk on creating a new technological breakthrough, propelling us exponentially into a future where grand luxuries aren’t just available for the few, but for the many. What would you do if you were living at a 50% discount?

Cover image used and modified under Creative Commons.
Original image by Jiuguang Wang.

The War on Drugs is a War on People

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Direct Connection – The Implications of Intimate Interface Technologies

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