“Why don’t you just move to Somalia?” he said. And I sighed. But this time, the accidental wisdom of this hackneyed question struck me. What, after all, am I doing to ensure that, state or no state, I and my community remain free? Or would we, at last stateless, begin listing toward a violent Somalia-esque chaos? And what kind of transition to anarchy do I want anyway? The “smash the state” crowd seems a little sophomoric to me. And dangerous. Not all anarchy is created equal, in my view.
I prefer the war of attrition against statism. The slow starving of the state of that which it needs to survive–my compliance and that of my neighbors. The struggle begins now. And the most essential work is that of making ourselves and our communities ungovernable. When we make ourselves ungovernable, the state will smash itself, whoever is in charge at that moment. And no warlord will take it’s place. This is the first in a series of posts on how to make ourselves and our voluntary communities ungovernable. The first step is blurring the lines that make state violence convenient.
Blur the lines
Government requires the creation of an other. It seeks to draw a sharp line between criminals and non-criminals, between our land and their land, and between citizens and non-citizens. When we resist these distinctions we hack at the root of statism and oppression. Here are some ways to go about it.
- Install Signal. Signal is an end-to-end encrypted messaging app with the capability to send photos, videos and other files. Unlike Whatsapp, it doesn’t have any capability, let alone a default setting, to send your data to Google or any other organization. Of course, the NSA can still hack you. Whether you do anything illegal over your messaging app is up to you. For my part, I’m relishing the day some NSA analyst hacks my SMS and says, “What is this!? There’s nothing but grocery lists and dad jokes here!” My use of Signal (and protonmail and TOR browser) to do perfectly legal and innocuous things provides cover to those who do need to stay out sight of the prying eye of the state. I’m a scientist. Most of the things we don’t know or can’t measure isn’t because we have no way to look at them. Usually the problem is that the noise in the measurement is so much stronger than the signal. Be the noise.
Stand with rabble-rousers. My wife was talking to one of her friends, a woman of color, about an upcoming protest march and asking why few people of color were attending (in fairness, it was in Portland, the nation’s whitest city). Her friends comment was, “Whenever the police break these things up, they always arrest the black people first. Black people should not be human shields for white protesters.” This sealed the deal. My wife called all her white rabble-rouser friends and invited them to march with her. It’s important for the movement for anarchy to cross racial, religious and socio-economic lines both to recruit from a wider pool and so that the police cannot easily identify offenders. That’s one reason the LDS anarchist movement is so important. Mormons are not the set commonly associated with “burning that mother down.” But we used to be. So why not spend your hard-earned Mormon respectability to bolster a movement that matters? Be a little rowdy, a little obnoxious. Be a thorn in the side of the powerful. WWHHD? (Helmut Hübener)
- Clip the barbed wire. There are many people in our world for whom borders and boundaries are a serious problem. My beloved Hillsboro is full of immigrants, legal and illegal, who send money back to their home countries at great cost. Western Union is getting rich off of my neighbors and the existence of national borders. So, teach an international friend to use currencies which know no borders like bitcoin (more later).
Learn Spanish. If you live near a border, offer to use your passport to transport goods (again, the legality of your actions is your own business). Be prepared to stand up to social forces which bolster the state by emphasizing national differences. Citizens of Zion don’t recognize any passport. Where ever you are, that’s where you belong.
- Make information free. Aaron Swartz is dead. But the movement for free information is not. The electronic frontier foundation is doing good work toward weakening legal protections on proprietary information and toward many other worthy causes. A student membership can be had for just $25. (Yes, they accept bitcoin). You can also get involved in file-sharing yourself. A number of decentralized, anonymous file-sharing platforms have appeared recently. You can host a hub or just join and upload content. You can also make yourself part of the effort to digitize the world’s information, which has the added benefit of making it more convenient to steal. (Oops. Did I say that out loud?) So, make a recording for librivox. Or scan or proofread books for bookshare. At worst, you’ll expand opportunities for readers with disabilities. At best, you’ll help clear a path toward a free information utopia.
The LDS community can play a unique role in creating an ungovernable society. We are a highly moral people. We are generous and build strong communities that cross socio-economic lines. We value freedom and individual agency. We have a vision of a stateless society, and we know how to mobilize!
My next post will discuss how to increase the cost of enforcement.