Latest Entries »

The recent tragedy in Japan has triggered some unexpected reactions—from an inane Facebook meme declaring that the earthquake is “payback” for the now six-decade old attack on Pearl Harbor, to some who question whether it is Karma for Japan’s permittence of whaling, to others who postulate that it is the result of a U.S. techtonic-weapon being deployed. These surprising notions have highlighted, in the clearest terms, a way of thinking which forms a barrier to our escape from the bondage of statism.

Firstly, they are all narratives. We humans are story-tellers. We are curious and we want to understand things, especially in times of tragedy when fear and sorrow overwhelm our reason. However, we are often at a loss to immediately see the cause of some event—or, because of some preconcieved notions (often mystical), we refuse to accept the rational and empirical and go reaching “beyond”. Put these traits together and what you get is a susceptibility to the Narrative Fallacy (“illusory correlation”)—the tendency to construct stories around facts which, while emotionally satisfying, lead one to err.

This is understandable and something we have likely all experienced at one time or another. However, within this human quirk lies a more insidious flaw: what some call a “yearning for meaning” is really a desire to ascribe a top-down order to events in our lives—which is to say, “A greater power than XYZ has put this in motion.” It is an appeal to archy, to the overseer mentality—whether it be from a leader, messanger, god, demon, mother nature, karmic force, etc. It is a backward, self-effacing, subservient way of thinking that humans extend to many other facets of their lives. If you don’t believe me, just substitute “Government” for “God”—as many people do. Whenever something goes wrong in our lives, we look to government—either to lay blame or plead for a solution. How can we hope to build a voluntary society, one in which order emerges spontaneously through the self-interested non-coercive actions of individuals (bottom-up organization), when irrational top-down thinking pervades our every waking thought?

I do not wish to debate the merits of holding spiritual or supernatural beliefs. Nor do I wish to weigh the likelihood of various conspiracy-theories. Instead, my concern here is with a destructive habit of thinking: the constant and consistent attempt to attribute events and phenomena to top-down hierarchical organization, despite the fact that all the evidence points to a universe in which order emerges spontaneously from lower levels of organization. The nasty implications of which are that people are all too ready to embrace command-and-control structures and expect order to emerge from chaos by some leader’s fiat.

Secondly, as someone who embraces the libertarian ethos of self-responsibility, I fully reject the notion of collective guilt and punishment for individual actions. It is wholly repugnant for me to accept, as so many do, that some transcendant force of “justice” would punish an innocent for the purported transgressions of another. This turns the whole notion of Justice on its head. To assert, for instance, that some Japanese child who died in the quake or subsequent Tsunami “had it coming” because someone (who died before he was even born) bombed Pearl Harbor is absurd. Similarly, the notion that the child’s death was “Karma playing out” because some special-interest group (and their corresponding greased-palms in government) maintain the practice of whaling is idiotic, not to mention heartless.

“The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.”
— Murray N. Rothbard

How does this relate to statism and statist thinking, you ask? Well, how many people accept the statist notion of “collateral damage”? We are told again and again that the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children who die every year in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., due to U.S. military strikes are collateral damage—that their deaths are a “neccessary evil” in the government’s retributive War on Terror. ‘We have to catch the bad-guys and, unfortunately, because these people happen to live in the same geographical region…they must die too‘. This immoral act of aggression against non-aggressors is simply shrugged off by most people. Why? Because to them, even God (the universe, karma, etc.) kills innocents to get at transgressors. So how could lowly humans be expected to be any better? And further, the repugnant notion of collective guilt is employed as a balm to sooth our own guilty feelings. We tell ourselves, because these children belong to the same race, culture, imaginary line in the sand called a ‘national border’, etc., they somehow must bear some responsibility for the attacks on the Twin Towers. Ridiculous! And yet the evil intellectual fraud that is collectivism allows us to turn a blind eye to murder.

These are the lies people tell themselves—to comfort themselves with uncertainty, to distance themselves from unpleasantness, and to avoid difficult moral choices.

But the truth is far more simple, powerful, and liberating! The universe is built from the bottom up, from fundamental forces and principles, to higher and higher levels of organization and order spontaneously emerging from their interaction—and is all the more beautiful, mysterious and powerful for it. And Justice demands that we, each individually, bear the burden and consequences of our actions—not someone else for ours, or ourselves for someone else’s.

“Anarchism, to me, means not only the denial of authority, not only a new economy, but a revision of the principles of morality. It means the development of the individual as well as the assertion of the individual. It means self-responsibility, and not leader worship.”
— Voltairine de Cleyre

When we finally learn to accept these truths we will be ready to apply them to every aspect of our lives. We will finally be ready to throw off the shackles of statism. We will be ready to accept the consequences of our own actions and not spread them to others. We will rise and fall of our own accord, neither limited from above nor seeking to limit those around us. We will, at last, embrace the powerful creativity and freedom that comes from the spontaneous organization inherent in voluntary markets.

But none of this will come to pass so long as we remain prisoners in our own minds to governments and gods.

Plant IP?

My fiancée and I were shopping for flowers to plant on our property when I noticed these medallions on several of the roses. One wonders how enormous the transaction costs would be to prevent vegetative-reproduction of roses if the patent holders didn’t externalize them to society at large, via the theft and violence of the state. This little medallion is a threat that, should its warning not be heeded, the full force of the state (funded itself by forcibly appropriated goods) will be turned against the errant gardener—all to prevent the duplication of a non-scarce resource.

In the summer of 2008 I was studying mathematics and computer science at the University of Arizona. I was also, briefly, learning to Tango. It was in one of my Tango classes that I met Kristine Goodwin, a senior manager at Raytheon Missle Systems. She offered to procure me an internship (and thus a foot in the door of this and other industries). I declined; but for a time, I wrestled with this decision.

“Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.”
— Mohandas Gandhi

This was long before I had even heard of agorism, anarcho-capitalism, libertarian anarchism, and the like. And while I had an implicit libertarian ethos (a respect for private property, the Non-Aggression Principle, etc.), I had not yet made my convictions explicit. I couldn’t even satisfactorily articulate my beliefs to the woman who is now my fiancée.

In retrospect, I’m pleased that I made the right choice. I cannot personally abide the thought that I could have had a hand in the design of some weapon which, at the whim of a distant bureaucrat under orders from his corporate cronies, could be lethally deployed against innocent men, women and children in some foreign land or even here at home.

It baffles me how anyone calling himself a libertarian could. I know a certain Raytheon employee who recently ran for office in Arizona’s Congressional District 8 under the banner of the Libertarian Party. It’s enough of a contraction that a person who damns the “political means” of living, as Oppenheimer put it, should run for public office. Even more so when the same person claims to abide by the Non-Aggression Principle and believes that the State is a murderous den of thieves, then chooses to serve one of the largest suppliers of the State’s terror machine.

One might argue that he is serving a private company and not the government—that it is the end-user which is violating the NAP and that he has no control over that. He could be likened to someone working for a gun manufacturer. However, this is not the case. The guns produced by the typical gun manufacturer have many non-governmental clients who use the weapons exclusively for morally justifiable reasons, such as hunting and self-defense. But Joe Blow isn’t going to be buying a Laser Area Defense System, Microwave weapon, or Joint Standoff Weapon from Raytheon. This company is a supplier for governments—predominantly the US. Thus, serving Raytheon serves the State. I hope that this man comes to realize that his efforts are empowering the same murderous, thieving empire he hopes to restrain — and resolves to serve no more .

“Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
— Étienne de La Boétie, Discourse on Voluntary Servitude

At any rate, what inspired this post was the following clip from the movie Good Will Hunting, which was recently posted by a liberty-loving friend on FaceBook.

classic anarcho-punk song by Crass, which needs to be heard by any of the non-libertarian anarchists who would impose their will on others by force (making them no different than the governments they replace).

Violent revolutions have unintended consequences—in statist terms: “collateral damage”. They have also been historically unsuccessful at eliminating statism, since they present no non-coercive, non-violent alternative. Angrily (and blindly) stripping away the old coercive regime with violence will only result in replacing it with another coercive, violent regime.

Agorism is about peaceful evolution away from statism through attrition and replacement of government services with voluntary free-market alternatives. If and when the final death-throes of the state lead to the use of force, agorists will act in kind only in self-defense. At that point, the state will have already withered to such an extent that it will go out “not with a bang, but a whimper”. The state will die and life will go on. It’s services will have been replaced with non-coercive free-market alternatives developed in the (formerly) grey and black markets. Only by being fully consistent with the Non-Aggression Principle can we hope to create a stateless society that is not based on aggression.

CrassBloody Revolution

You talk about your revolution, well, that’s fine
But what are you going to be doing come the time?
Are you going to be the big man with the tommy-gun?
Will you talk of freedom when the blood begins to run?
Well, freedom has no value if violence is the price
Don’t want your revolution, I want anarchy and peace

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain’t it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

But what about those people who don’t want your new restrictions?
Those that disagree with you and have their own convictions?
You say they’ve got it wrong because they don’t agree with you
So when the revolution comes you’ll have to run them through
You say that revolution will bring freedom for us all
Well freedom just ain’t freedom when your back’s against the wall

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain’t it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

Will you indoctrinate the masses to serve your new regime?
And simply do away with those whose views are too extreme?
Transportation details could be left to British rail
Where Zyklon B succeeded, North Sea Gas will fail
It’s just the same old story of man destroying man
We’ve got to look for other answers to the problems of this land

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain’t it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

Vive la revolution, people of the world unite
Stand up men of courage, it’s your job to fight

It all seems very easy, this revolution game
But when you start to really play things won’t be quite the same
Your intellectual theories on how it’s going to be
Don’t seem to take into account the true reality
Cos the truth of what you’re saying, as you sit there sipping beer
Is pain and death and suffering, but of course you wouldn’t care

You’re far too much of a man for that, if Mao did it so can you
What’s the freedom of us all against the suffering of the few?
That’s the kind of self-deception that killed ten million jews
Just the same false logic that all power-mongers use
So don’t think you can fool me with your political tricks
Political right, political left, you can keep your politics
Government is government and all government is force
Left or right, right or left, it takes the same old course
Oppression and restriction, regulation, rule and law
The seizure of that power is all your revolution’s for
You romanticise your heroes, quote from Marx and Mao
Well their ideas of freedom are just oppression now

Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created
It’s just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren’t clearly stated
Nothing’s really different cos all government’s the same
They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game

Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created
It’s just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren’t clearly stated
Nothing’s really different cos all government’s the same
They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game
There’s nothing that you offer but a dream of last years hero
The truth of revolution, brother………………. is year zero.

All the world over, from Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria, to Nigeria, Bahrain, and Libya  (and possibly soon Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Iraq), massive protests are sweeping away old oppressive regimes. The question arises, “But what do the victors expect to gain, except to replace their old brutal masters with yet more brutal masters?” Sadly, most of the people in the streets cry not for individual autonomy, but for democracy—the enslavement of all to all, and ultimately, to an oligarchy that claims to represent “the people”.

How is that going to work out? Well, let’s just take a look at Iraq. In 2003, American President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq to, ostensibly, bring peace and freedom to the Iraqi people, liberate them from a brutal dictator, and instill democracy—or some such hokum.

So, is the new democratic Iraqi regime any more permissive of protestors rights to air their grievences? How do supposedly peace-loving, freedom-loving democracies treat dissenters?

Indistinguishably from non-democratic regimes:

Props to the guy with the black flag! At least someone has the right idea.

Agora Caliente

Originally posted here
 
Agora Caliente
by Robbie Revenant
 
Most people come to agorism through some form of libertarian or voluntaryist background. Awakened to the corporatocracy that oppresses them, they begin to search for a better way to organize society. Eventually, they realize that the only just way to organize society is to let it organize itself. The “right” kind of society, a free and just society, is one in which all human interactions are voluntary. Having found this truth, they naturally want to know how to achieve such a society. Agorism, the practice of counter-economics guided by the principles of radical libertarianism, provides that answer.
 
But what if you are already practicing counter-economics without libertarian principles as a guide? That is to say, without the ethics of liberty? No doubt, the vast majority of people participating in the grey, black, pink and red markets do so without explicit ethical guidance.
 
Now let us suppose for a moment that there are tens of millions of such people in the United States alone. And let us further posit that many of them have reason to hate the State. Imagine that a whole host of people with a similar cultural background are being relegated to second-class status by the laws of this nation. Afraid to step too far out of line lest they be apprehended, abused, or deported, they tend to band together to protect one another’s anonymity from the State. This isolates them somewhat culturally, but also creates a close-knit community. They tend to prefer not to call on the police, the State’s thuggish enforcers, so they often find ways of handling disputes themselves. They typically work at far lower than average wages due to their precarious status—which automatically puts them in the grey market, but also gives them incentive to operate in other markets to make ends meet.
 
Of course, I am talking about “undocumented workers”, 81% of which come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. With the rising anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, even greater pressure will be put to bear on them to engage in counter-economic activity just to survive. But such communities also have an opportunity: to band together to form the largest agorist network ever! All they lack is a libertarian ethos to guide their market activities away from the pink and red markets, and toward a voluntary freed market which will strangle and replace the State.
 
We must, therefore, reach out to this subset of the population and educate them about agorism. They have the least to risk by embracing libertarian counter-economics over the counter-economics they are already practicing, and can have a huge impact on the demise of the State and the rise of a free-market stateless society.

Robin Hood and the Minarchists

Robin HoodIt’s a cold and rainy Saturday. My fiancée and I are cuddled up in bed watching Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and this time around I find that I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Why I hated it the first time is not entirely clear to me. It may have simply been the lack of good company. Or perhaps it was that initially I was focused too closely on the typically lifeless acting of Mr. Crowe, and less on the other characters or Ridley Scott’s creative take on the Robin Hood story.

Either way, I’m certain that I enjoyed it more because I was watching it through the lens of a blog article I’d recently read: George Donnely’s Are Minarchists Worse than Socialists?

*SPOILER ALERT* Do not read further if you haven’t watched the movie yet.

What struck me this time was how Thomas Longstride, a radical who died for his notion of political equality, was both supported and betrayed by those who lauded his ideals. It would be a stretch to claim he was an anarchist. But his recognition that a king needed his subjects as much as the subjects needed their king was a step in the right direction.

The Barons and Longstride’s son, Robin, on the other hand, are clearly minarchists. They want to reduce the power of the Crown, not eliminate it. Near the end of the film, Robin explains to King John that all men are entitled to certain things. He’s quite verbose at this point, but what they amount to are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What they do not do is demand an end to the Crown. Instead, they make the same mistake all minarchists do—they demand that Power limit itself. Robin declares to the King that they want “Liberty by law!” Ridley Scott no doubt envisioned this to be a crowning moment of the film, but for me, this was its near ruin.

What transpires at the end of the film would never have happened had the Barons not kept Thomas Longstride’s dream alive. There would have been no confrontation with the King with demands for “liberty”. His notions would simply have been forgotten. However, the Baron’s failure to live up to that dream’s potential with consistency, or even comprehend the logical contradiction of their minarchist position, is what led to their little revolution’s abrupt end. The minarchists both saved and sabotaged the struggle for liberty.

Of course, there is still hope, for this is where Robin Longstride becomes the infamous Robin Hood—living off the grid, so to speak, and causing havoc for King John’s tax-men. All in all, a decent film and a good lesson about the disastrous consequences of compromising one’s moral ideals.

Originally posted here
 
Beginning at the End
(or, How Not to Change the World)
by Robbie Revenant
 
Many of us have been watching the events in the Middle East and North Africa with great enthusiasm and hope. Some have even asked, “When will this happen here? When will revolution come to America/Canada/etc.?” Others responded, “Why are you asking and not doing? If you want it now, take it now!
 
But is that what we want now? Let’s take a look at Egypt. What has all this sound and fury wrought? The 30 year-long reign of American puppet and despot Hosni Mubarak is now over. He has allegedly fled the country. The decades of anger from the abuses suffered under this man’s regime finally spilled over into an insurmountable wave that has cleansed that nation of … exactly one tyrant.
 
The nation is now in the hands of the military. Political pundits the world over are innundating the media with demands for “new leadership” and a move towards “Egyptian democracy.”
In all probablility, this situation will tend to one of two outcomes:
  1. The old despotic regime will be replaced with a new despotic regime, either civilian or military. The people, having paid such a heavy price in this revolution and getting only more of the same, will lose hope in changing it. We won’t see another uprising like it again for a generation or more.
  2. The old despotic regime will be replaced with a democracy. Whether or not it is merely another vehicle for Western political theater is irrelevant. The protestors will be placated for a time. Eventually, as with all democracies, they will turn to political-infighting. They will identify with collective interests they believe are at odds with the collective interests of others. In short, they will fight each other, rather than the system. Again, we won’t see another uprising against the State for quite some time.
Either way, the Egyptian people will still be trapped in the statist paradigm. They will endure another 30 years as tax-slaves and cannon-fodder. After thousands of years of statism, little will have changed but the name of the system which oppresses them.
 
We, as agorists, see much to admire in the revolutions sweeping Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and numerous other Middle Eastern and North African states. The people there became acutely aware of the injustice of the Egyptian regime; and, despite fear and oppression, they resisted the police-state and demanded something better. We saw a largely leaderless, spontaneous, bottom-up organization to the protests. As government services shut down in an attempt to stymie the protestors, vendors sprang into action to provide food, water, and communications. People banded together to provide impromptu protection forces for neighborhoods as police all but disappeared—no doubt deployed entirely to guard “State property”, protect bureaucrats, and attack protestors. These impromptu forces could, in time, have formed the seed kernal for private protection forces—a free market alternative to State police.
 
But, alas, this will all die in its infancy.
 
And we know this, because we also see the weakness of revolution before its time. We all long for a state-less society; but when revolutions come they inevitably replace one state with another. Why? Because the vast majority of people do not see an alternative. They still cling to the lie that democracy, “the God that failed” as Hoppe puts it, is the ideal form of social order. It is a kind of cultural idée fixe that has gone global. Until that delusion is shattered, through education or through sufficient example, then revolutions will only be a revolving door to yet more statism.
 
So, to those anarchists who demand “Revolution Now!” and chide those of us who advocate education in state-less alternatives to police, courts, and all the other functions that governments have usurped in order to make us dependent on the State, I say, “Do you understand now?
 
Agorism is about living as state-free a life as possible now; starving the State of the products of our labor, both mental and physical, now; and also laying the foundation for an alternative to statism when the State does finally collapse in the future—through both education and implementation of free-market alternatives.
 
Through counter-economics and libertarian principles, we live as freely and richly as we can in the present statist society. And while we long to rid ourselves of the State completely, we know that to be the last step in the devolution of statism—not the first.
 
To the agorist, protesting in the streets en masse, driving out the bureaucrats and their enforcers, is the final stage of the collapse of the State. We seek to lay the foundation for a successful end of the State; which is to say, the end of this State in such a manner that it is not replaced with another. Impatient agorists and non-agorist anarchists who would like to see an Egyptian-style revolt here and now may actually do more harm than good if there isn’t a likelihood that a state-less alternative will replace the current system.
 
True anarchists seek not revolution, but dissolution—dissolution of the State in its entirety. We cannot settle for less.
Originally posted here
 
The World Wide Agora: a proposal
by Robbie Revenant
 
I had originally considered entitling this article “iAgora”, in parody of Apple’s endless stream of “i”-products, but after saying it aloud, judiciously decided against it.
 
Thus, “The World Wide Agora”: a more descriptive—though certainly less humorous—title. This is the topic of my article; however, before I get to the meat of it I would like to justify it. So let me start with the bones.
 
There seems to be some debate going on—a schism of sorts—between those who propose that our practice of radical free-market left-libertarian anarchism (agorism) be done in the open, and those who counsel that it be done in secret. Unquestionably, both arguments have merit.
 
The open-door-agorists (if I may call them that) argue that by self-identifying they encourage others to learn about agorism and join the underground free-market, to their benefit and the state’s detriment. The closed-door-agorists argue that antagonizing the system and operating out in the open will only lead to fines, incarceration, and the eventual death of the movement. Furthermore, it may discourage practitioners from participating fully out of fear of reprisal from the state. 
 
As I see it, this is a conflict between the two main problems agorists face when attempting to practice what they preach. How do buyers and sellers find each other? And how do they trade black- or grey-market commodities without being caught? The first requires that agorists be open and public about what they do and what they are offering. The second requires that they be clandestine and secretive. How do we resolve this seemly unresolvable dilemma?
 
Let’s first consider the case of a small, rather homogeneous, agorist community. Suppose I make widgets. These widgets could be anything. They could be something the government deems impermissible for us to own or sell (drugs, weapons, happy meal toys, etc.). Or it could be something heavily regulated. Or it could be that neither party wants to pay taxes on these items. Maybe we just value our privacy and don’t want the government snooping on our purchases—what right do they have to know you buy widgets! Maybe they are a white-market item, but because I buy the component parts on the black-market and then sell there, I am able to keep costs down and provide a perfectly legal product at a price that is superbly lower than the same item under government-scrutiny (due to the fact that I’m avoiding sales tax, income-tax, tariffs, and a host of licensing fees, oversight, and other regulation in the production of my wonderful widgets).
 
In short, it doesn’t matter if it’s a hand-grenade or a hat-rack. I’ve got it; you want it; and we both agree on a price. Now, in our little local agorist community such a transaction is quite feasible. We can assume that every agorist knows every agorist (or that someone knows someone who knows someone, etc.). The information problem is no problem at all. Buyers can easily find sellers. Sellers can easily find buyers.
 
So too, the problem of making the transaction without being apprehended by the police is of little concern. Yes, some Nosy Nancy could observe and report us (and this is becoming a growing threat given the recent drive to deputize the public into a national Snitch-Corps). However, this can easily be circumvented by making the transaction discreetly in a secure location. If Nancy doesn’t “see something”, Nancy won’t “say something”. (Thank you, Janet Nazi-tano!)
 
Now, this idyllic community of agorists has several shortcomings. The first is that all our buying and selling options are restricted to what is local, thus limiting our options. The second, of course, is that such communities are still very rare. So let us move on to the real world, the one in which agorists are scattered across the country—nay, the world.
 
Now suppose I live in Tucson. And you live in Keene. We suddenly have some major problems arise. You really want a widget, but how do you know I sell widgets? One simply can’t put up a website that says, “Buy Bob’s Bazookas, Basement Bargain Prices!!“. That will no doubt attract significant unwanted attention, not to mention a lengthy jail sentence. You couldn’t even sell home-made jam without the FDA shutting you down, or the IRS seizing your bank accounts and threatening imprisonment.
 
What’s an agorist to do? Well, here is my vision (and it’s not at all revolutionary, merely the next logical step). You log onto the WWA. Your account has a profile. It may be anonymous, containing no pertinent data about the real-life you; or it may contain enough information to identify you as, well, you. It’s your choice.
 
Others would also have profiles on the WWA and be able to interact on a minimal level (no stalkerish Facebook-like feeds here). You would have a credential-rating based on an algorithm that takes into account who has verified that they know you and to what degree. Having 2 people certify that they know you in person would result in a higher credential-rating than 20 people who just know you from some other virtual meeting-place. The algorithm could also take into account the “connectedness/distance” from a “trusted” or known agorist (the agorist version of an Erdös-number). The idea is to give others a sense of how well they can trust this person, who may very well be anonymous, and to weed out law-enforcement. Anyone would be able to see your credential-rating.
 
The WWA, in its complete form, would have 3 sections: the Market, the Forums, and the Lyceum. (Although it’s the Market that is the heart of the matter, since the Forums and Lyceum already exist in some form or another elsewhere on the web.)
 
Entering the Market, you see something very akin to Amazon.com or other online stores. There would be a searchable database of items for sale by third-parties. Any user can set up a shop if they have a good or service to sell. Much like Amazon’s third-party sellers, they would each have a seller-rating, letting potential buyers gauge whether or not to trust a particular seller. Likewise, each user would have a buyer-rating, although only potential sellers when contacted by a buyer would be able to see his rating. This is to protect the buyer’s privacy. (No one need know how many times you’ve made purchases or trades in the marketplace, or at all!)
 
Communication in the WWA is done via PGP-like encrypted messages between buyer and seller, passed via secure http (and perhaps even a third layer of encryption) from seller to server to buyer and back again. The servers and mirrors for the WWA would only keep such messages long enough to pass them to the client (buyer or seller). In this way, it acts like a mail-server in which email is deleted off the server when read. The buyer and seller would, of course, have a record of these messages on their local machines, which could be purged also for security purposes if necessary. Notice that even the server hosts cannot read these encrypted messages, nor do they persist on them. These are private conversations between buyer and seller alone!
 
Such messages would allow buyers to place orders, work out the details of custom orders, make inquiries, and arrange payment (trade, cash, credit, gold, silver, BitCoin, money held in escrow by a trusted third party until the transaction was completed, etc.)—all beyond the scrutiny of prying eyes.
 
Digital-signatures would be used to verify that an agreement had been reached. This would provide some measure of accountability in the event of a dispute. Both buyers and sellers could be removed for fraud or multiple failures to live up to their contracts. The rating system would have to suffice at first. Later, trusted arbitration groups may pop up to which both sides would voluntarily present their unencrypted agreement, and any other evidence that one lived up to the agreement and the other did not. The WWA would then abide by the ruling of the arbiter and act accordingly on the buyer’s or seller’s account.
 
Sellers would be permitted to sell anything that did not violate the NAP. Anything that does (stolen goods, slaves, etc.) would be removed and the seller banned.
 
The Forums would allow users to communicate at length on various topics in the usual threaded conversation format. Various discussions could be completely open, or restricted to certain users, or restricted to users that meet a certain credential threshold. In this way, you could start a conversation on a topic and have anyone join in, just a few associates, or anyone who is likely to be an actual practicing agorist and not a cop.
 
The Forums would work differently than most you may have encountered. Nothing would reside on the server for very long in restricted rooms. They would only persist long enough to pass to the other users in the conversation. In fact, it may be possible to design it in a strict peer-to-peer fashion, with the server functioning only to let others in the conversation know who has what pieces of the thread available for download. As with all messages in the WWA, the thread would be encrypted with a PGP-like session key—in this case, unique to the participants and the thread. Only participants in the thread would be able to read it. Even the server hosts and mirrors would not have access to this information.
 
The Lyceum would be an open area where more theoretical discussions about the history of economic and political thought, as well as the development and current state of agorism could be taught. Unlike the forums, this area would be directed by lecturers familiar with agorism and the particular topic at hand.
 
The World Wide Agora would then be a kind of super-discreet hybridization of Amazon.com, Facebook, and an online university. It would have fewer bells-and-whistles to be sure; but it would, in turn, make protecting your privacy it’s highest concern. This is the reason for all of the encryption and non-persistence of data—to secure the privacy of participants in the agora should the servers be compromised by law-enforcement.
 
Note that some agorists could choose to remain completely anonymous. Others could self-identify, tying their profiles to their real-world persona. They could thus proclaim to be agorists, promote freedom of the individual and the starvation of the state, help educate others, and at the same time, their actual transactions would be secure from scrutiny. We would have achieved openness without sacrificing privacy.
 
There would also be other less tangible benefits to having a secure-but-open electronic marketplace. We could get an instant summary of the size and scope of the underground market. If people begin to realize that hundreds, then thousands, then millions of their fellow citizens are participating in counter-economics, they may be more inclined to follow suit. The social-stigma of the counter-economy will wash away and the agora will thrive!
 
*Technical Note: This is merely a call to action. I confess that I do not personally possess the requisite knowledge to make such a system work. My programming knowledge is in C, C++, Java, and high-level packages like MATLAB. I know nothing about secure PHP or MySQL programming. There is certainly incentive to create the WWA, though. Aside from helping out the movement (promoting a genuinely free market), one could make a nice profit by either charging a small fee for each transaction (which might not be desirable due to privacy concerns), or by charging sellers a fee for setting up shop (much like charging a fee for a booth at a swap meet). Either way, much work would need to be done on a design level first. What I have outlined is merely a rough sketch. Great care would need to be taken to design the protocols necessary to ensure that the three top priorities of such a system would be met: Privacy, Privacy, Privacy!
 
So, to any enterprising agorist computer-geeks out there: Go to it!
 
Agora! Anarchy! Action!