The Singularity of Civil Disobedience
by Chris Campbell
The driving force behind this trend, Moises Naim, author of The End of Power explains, are three distinct revolutions: the “more, mobility and mentality revolutions.” There are three things driving the flattening of institutional power.
ONE. THE MORE REVOLUTION: The “more revolution” is simple. The world has more people. These people live longer because they have more health. And they have more education. They are more informed. Thus, making them harder to control.
TWO. THE MOBILITY REVOLUTION: Information and communications technology has brought forth an unprecedented shift in the mobility of information. I can send this missive -- one that’s essentially calling for the breakdown of everything the ruling class holds dear -- to you at the speed of light. In earlier generations, in contrast, I might be burnt at the stake for simply suggesting that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Today, though, I don’t really have much to fear when committing these acts of blasphemy.
THREE. THE MENTALITY REVOLUTION: The former two revolutions have also resulted in a shift in our perceptions of power. We are a world that’s much more aware of “dangerous” ideas such as liberty, prosperity, and freedom. We are more conscious of the status quo’s flaws and less afraid to voice our opinions about them.
You might recall an earlier discussion we presented about Arnold Toynbee’s theory of civilizations…
A healthy civilization, according to Toynbee, is in expansion, is creative, and it encourages social mobility. As you can see, all three of Naim’s revolutions above fit neatly within Toynbee’s mold. But here’s the incredible part: for the first time in history, all of the advancement is happening outside the control of the status quo. No matter where you look in the world, this is basically true. (Save for a few unsavory places, of course.) From Astana, Kazakhstan to San Diego, California -- people feel as if they have more power over their lives than ever before. And this feeling is translating into something big.
Instead of the individual seeing him or herself as helpless and reactionary, we are beginning to see ourselves as active participants in shaping reality. We didn’t always think this way. Why, when you could get burnt to a crisp for your opinions, you couldn’t afford to!
As I said before, you are an inseparable part of this movement. And now that you are aware of this, there’s no turning back. Once you learn of the vast power you hold, you can never unlearn it. With all that said, it’s time to see what people are doing every single day to subvert the “powers that be.”
We’ll show you how to sharpen your actions and become a fierce weapon against the State.
“State management of society,” Jeffrey Tucker writes, “is not only contrary to human liberty; it is also unworkable and it cannot achieve what it seeks to achieve, which is often all-round control of some sector of economic and social life.
“The attempt provokes a social backlash. “People find loopholes and workarounds or just invent new ways to make progress possible. This is because people will not be caged. They struggle to be free and sometimes they succeed.
“Over the last century-plus, the Leviathan State has gained the upper hand, sometimes through big periods of upheaval but mostly through a million daily nicks and cuts. What if this process is being reversed in our time? “What if the apparatus of control is being undermined with a million acts of entrepreneurship that evade the State’s attempt to plan and command? There is a fundamental asymmetry between the structure of government and the structure of a networked people.
“In our times, innovation has provided people with more tools. And often they use these tools to get around the barriers that politicians and bureaucrats have erected. Some of us take note of them every day. “And while we may revel in their cleverness, we don’t take time to look at the big picture. Here is where this phenomenon of small ways to break out from and break down the system -- which pop culture often labels “breaking bad” -- gets really interesting.
“Consider,” Max Borders chimes in, “the post office.
“It has not been privatized. It’s just fallen gradually into disuse thanks to the advent of email, texting, and thousands of other ways of communicating. It may stick around for another decade or so, but as a kind of zombie. Surely its days are numbered. “This is the archetype. Government was supposed to provide, but didn't.
“Now markets are picking up the pieces and making new products and services that facilitate better living, which reduces the role and significance of public policy. Every time the State shuts a door or closes a loophole, people find and exploit two more doors, two more loopholes. “If this model of disruption and defiance is part of a larger trend, it provides a very revealing look at a strategy that liberty-minded people ought to intellectually codify, encourage, and practice.
“Compared with politics or the slow road of mass education, the work of hacking Leviathan through innovation is a promising road forward. “Something’s happening. “It’s like the Singularity for civil disobedience. Pandora’s box. Perhaps a series of innovation tidal waves. “A whole lot of people are participating in a great unfolding. And if you’re drawing up grand social engineering plans, throw them out. The world is about to get a lot more dynamic.”
Here are the first 25 ways people are working around the obstacles of the “Established Order”:
ONE: Airbnb: This service allows people to rent out their homes for a couple of days. It offers competitive prices compared to hotels and gets around the whole of the regulatory apparatus, zoning control, union monopolies, and other barriers to entry. Of course, in some states, hotel cartels aren’t happy.
TWO: Uber: Taxis have their licenses, which drive up fares. It’s a cozy and well-protected cartel. Uber lets you get around this system, finding great rides in clean cars for better fares—all while checking (gasp! unlicensed) chauffeurs with reputation ratings.
THREE: Bitcoin: Government ruined money long ago. The market has made an end-to-end crypto currency. It could mean death for the euro, the dollar, and other fiat currencies. The implications are awesome and inspiring.
FOUR: Private power generation: Big companies like Google are tired of dealing with regulated utilities. They fear outages and need more reliable power. They’re generating their own power. There are only a few, but then again there used to be only a few rich guys using cell phones. That’s where innovation happens. Then, the price goes down and the quality goes up. Moore’s Law kicks in. Someday this trend could challenge the grid.
FIVE: Concierge healthcare: Doctors are opting out of Obamacare and the third-party payer system. Pay them upfront and pay them out of pocket. Get the care you need and go buy a catastrophic plan if you can (instead of taking whatever’s on the Obamacare exchanges).
SIX: Bitmessage: Want to evade the surveillance state? Bitmessage is the latest in crypto communications, poised to replace email. A few more tweaks on the user interface, and we are good to go.
SEVEN: Email: The process of destroying the USPS as a monopolistic provider of mail is pretty much a done deal. It took 20 years, but now email is the new first-class mail. Meanwhile, the government’s service loses billions each year. Such a moribund provider could go for decades as a tax-subsidized monopoly. But the market moves on.
EIGHT: Silk Road: This anonymous website lets you use crypto currency to buy illicit substances, including not-yet-FDA-approved drugs and food. You might find this alarming but consider: the site brings a beautiful peace to an unstoppable market that government has otherwise caused to become violent and deadly. (Shut down on Oct. 2. Remember Napster. The hydra lives.)
NINE: YouTube copyright rules: They were once simple, but as remixing, parody, and covers evolve, the exceptions to strict copyrighting are growing. Now a Miley Cyrus video released at sunup is covered 1,000 times before sundown. In effect, the initially imagined scenario of copyright -- government confers monopoly status on every piece of art -- is dying before our eyes.
TEN: 3D printing: Not only will people circumvent unconstitutional gun restrictions (like Cody Wilson has), but people will be able easily to get around patents and regulations by printing their own high-flow showerheads. When everyone is a maker, no one is regulated.
ELEVEN: P2P lending: Prosper and Lending Club let people bypass big incumbent banks and crowdfund as borrowers and lenders. Where there is communication, there are deals being made.
TWELVE: Health coverage cooperatives: It doesn’t have to be just Christian organizations that set up health coverage coops. These groups cover catastrophic healthcare costs for members, bypassing—for now—Big Insurance and the government regulatory apparatus. (See also this group.)
THIRTEEN: The raw milk movement: The government has tried for decades to suppress this unpasteurized brew, but fans won’t be stopped. Buyers’ clubs are everywhere. The more the feds crack down, the more the demand for the product grows.
FOURTEEN: Private arbitration: If you have a dispute with someone, the last place you want to end up is in the thicket of the government’s court system. People are opting for private arbitration. Private arbitration may be nothing new, but the extent of reliance on it is. There are a zillion bricks-and-mortar arbiters. Online, Judge.me is now defunct, but Net-Arb is still working. Stay tuned.
FIFTEEN: Escrow: How do you guarantee that you will get what you pay for online? Escrow.com is glad to hold the payment and verify the transaction before rewarding both sides with the results. It is security for property that lives in the cloud—and no government courts (or even laws) are involved.
SIXTEEN: Space tourism/exploration: XCor, SpaceX, and lots of other groups are getting into the private space race. They’re doing NASA—only better, faster, and cheaper.
SEVENTEEN: YouTube stars: People like Lindsey Stirling, Rebecca Black, and a thousand others are bypassing the old centralized system of getting an agent and begging a monopolistic record label to take control of your life. Lindsey has made sharp YouTube videos that have launched her into stardom, complete with lucrative tour dates. Such decentralization is happening in movies, music, and more.
EIGHTEEN: TOR/Deep Web: This browser for the crypto web bounces your originating IP address all over the planet. That way you can surf anonymously—i.e., away from the eyes of the NSA panopticon. (What is acypherpunk?)
NINETEEN: Universal publishing: At one point, a few people maintained the primary conduits of information. Blogging and Web publishing make it easier to express yourself. Censorship has become nearly impossible. The newspapers are finally staking out their territories online. But they are losing control of the primary conduits of information. Tumblr alone has 50 million unique publishers. (Liberty.me offers a new, distributed platform.)
TWENTY: Death of prescriptions: You can order your inexpensive drugs from many countries now—safely, cheaply, and securely (and with no prescription). No need to give your overpriced Obamacare doctor or Big Pharma a cut.
TWENTY-ONE: Medical marijuana/decriminalization: States are relaxing their prohibitions on marijuana. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the drug war is lost and that some drugs, like cannabis, have real therapeutic value. Regardless, prohibition is a fool’s errand and punitive measures are increasingly viewed as cruel and unnecessary. Even as the crackdowns continue, these are the first signs of the Drug War’s obsolescence and popular dissent.
TWENTY-TWO: Expatriation: Sometimes if you don’t like it somewhere, you just have to leave. It’s easier and easier to find better climes, whether for weather, taxation, or culture. Expatriation from the United States is reaching record levels in 2013. While this number is still only in the thousands, the option to leave is there and more people are availing themselves of it than ever.
TWENTY-THREE: Startup cities: People in developing countries are starting to understand that rich countries are rich for a reason. So poor countries are starting to import good institutions, or are “rezoning” for prosperity (all while the rich countries are going in the wrong direction). Outside of China’s special economic zones (SEZs), Honduran startup cities are a new experiment worth watching.
TWENTY-FOUR: Seasteading: Blueseed is one of the earliest examples of entrepreneurial ventures that will take people to the sea in search of opportunity and superior rule sets. The Seasteading Institute has also successfully worked with a Dutch firm to design the first seasteading modules. The harder the tax and regulatory State pushes, the more viable the sea becomes as a place to live and do business.
TWENTY-FIVE: Radicalization of media arts: Goodbye network television from the Cold War era and hello subscription-based content. The shows that are running (Breaking Bad, Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) sport themes of defiance, disruption, and the persistence of freedom in the face of regimentation. Not only is the a la carte model disruptive, the content is subversive.
© 2015 Laissez Faire Books, LLC. This article originally appeared at Fee.org right here.