Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
Paranoia is the Name of the Game
The Takedown of the Silk Road Drug Market
Today we can celebrate the recent relaunch of the Silk Road drug market, named for a predecessortaken down over a month ago by federal agents for its connection with an alleged assassination conspiracy involving alleged founder Ross Ulbricht. The FBI is attempting to tie Ulbricht to the online identity of the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), an entrepreneur in the drug trade radically motivated by the Austrian school of economics and the left-wing ideal of Agorism.
The identity of the new DPR is unknown and will likely remain that way. It’s rumored that various old administrators from the Silk Road forum planned to take over, but those who have answered deny that they are the new DPR. The market has been left relatively untouched in style except for a new encryption key system which promises greater anonymity protection for transactions. Of course, the primary concern is whether or not the feds are involved — or, more accurately, just how involved are they?
The takedown of Silk Road and various smaller markets proved that the feds have done a spectacular job infiltrating these online communities as vendors, or by having vendors cooperate with them. There is no doubt that paranoia is warranted. Indeed, paranoia is the name of the game in the underground economy. When dealing in “crimes” that could get you locked away in a cage for years with no expectation of being treated as a human, it’s not only your neurotic duty, but your intellectual duty as well, to be paranoid. Through paranoia, that’s how he win. And that is what makes this the revolution that it is.
If you play this game right, if you cover your ass and take the necessary (but not too difficult) precautions, it doesn’t matter from who you are buying. The feds hate consistent cryptography, because it puts the FBI and the DEA out of work. It ends their way of doing things. The feds think that they can pull one over on drug consumers and producers, but consistent cryptography will end them. It just has to be applied, well, consistently.
The old Silk Road was not busted because the feds figured out away around PGP or found a mysterious backdoor into the Silk Road‘s server. They subpoenaed WordPress and Google (Gmail, Google+ and Youtube). Then, once the had a target, they used intimidation, harassment and psychologically manipulation to get what they needed. The feds aren’t dummies, not all the time. You better assume you aren’t safe. When a person tells me they are constantly watching me and waiting for me to slip up, I believe them.
The feds aren’t relying on consistency, but we will give it to them. We will put up a wall between their guns and our market. Through this we will turn them into nothing more than another neutral market participant. “Yes, Mr. Federal Agent, please do sell me that kilo of cocaine at half price.” The online community is turning the FBI and the DEA into nothing more than drug dealers; which is of course all they’ve ever really been. But now they’re our dealers and they just offered you an ounce of shrooms for 0.4 bitcoins.
This revolution is not just important for those in the drug market. It is the most potent force for resistance since the Smith and Wesson. Anonymous online markets offer unlimited possibilities for entrepreneurs of all trades. They encourage investment in alternative currencies. They encourage people to take their money out of an economy based entirely in violence and transition it to one which stresses cooperation and individuality. Imagine a world free from government and you’ve imagined what the darknet and Bitcoin markets can bring us.
If the feds are truly as entrenched as some in the community fear, then cryptology will only progress faster. The feds invite paranoia — paranoia demands innovation — innovation ends the feds. So, drug users and black marketeers: Unite, encrypt, invest in Bitcoin, fund Dark Wallet, stay paranoid and stay high on the feds’ supply.
Ryan Calhoun is a Philosophy student and activist at the University at Buffalo. He is a contributing writer at C4SS.org.