Free-market Parasites


The crypto economy can’t get here fast enough.

In addition to writing, I manage businesses. And as I review the financial records of these businesses every year, I see corporate parasitism biting them worse and worse. But if pushed, the bosses of these outfits would claim free market justification. After all, they didn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head!

But they do hold the proverbial gun. More precisely, they arrange for government guns to do their bidding. For example, one of my companies made monthly payments to an internet faxing company for years. We tried to cancel the service over and over. We changed the debit card it was being charged to. And yet the charges came through every month. And I can guarantee you that it was all very legal and that they were “compliant with all banking regulations.”

Such companies are simply parasites, and they know exactly what they’re doing. In fact, they’re just like my first serious boss.

Jack was an old man when I went to work for him in the early 1980s, and his model of commerce was to take advantage of everyone he could, any time he could. And if those people were stupid enough or weak enough to get ripped off, that was just the natural order of things.

Needless to say, Jack and I had a lot of arguments. He ripped off his customers, his workers, his suppliers, and anyone else he could. That was just the way he did things… for more than 50 years.

And that’s the same model that many companies are using these days. It’s very clearly true of the healthcare sector of the US economy, where paid-off politicians prepare incomprehensible legislation that bleeds the US public dry. It’s all done legally of course and is dedicated to “helping the middle class” or whatever BS they’re spewing this year. But in honest terms, it’s simply a mass fleecing.

It’s also done by the banks and financial companies. After all, they can comply with all the thousands of government regulations, which keeps them free of competitors and leaves you and me with no practical alternatives. How many types of bank charges are you paying every month? And if your business takes credit cards, how much are you paying them every month? Is what they do really worth all that money, or are you simply stuck with them?

And this list could go on at length, reaching down to small companies like the one I began with.

Crypto doesn’t directly protect us from criminals of course, but since it hasn’t yet been regulated (read strangled) by the state, crypto gives the parasites no good way to point government guns at us.

Those who steal via crypto are straight-up thieves, and as vile as they may be, I’d rather deal with them than parasites who hide behind “free market” and rip people off by manipulating government force.

The whole situation reminds me of a quote from the great historian, C. Delisle Burns, explaining why Rome crashed:

Great numbers of men and women were unwilling to make the effort required for the maintenance of the old order, not because they were not good enough to fulfill their civic duties, but because they were too good to be satisfied with a system from which so few derived benefit.

In like manner, great numbers of us will make no effort to save the existing financial system. Not because we don’t care about commerce, but because a system that services parasites isn’t worth saving.

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An Update on Ross Ulbricht, Allegedly the Dread Pirate Roberts

Ross Ulbricht

In 1998, Virginia Postrel wrote a book called The Future and Its Enemies. I’d be hard-pressed to find a better description for the current legal battle between the young man pictured above and the US government. That young man is Ross Ulbricht, and he seems to have been the agent of the future who created the Silk Road free market.

I say “seems to,” because the people who are saying so are the US government, which has a checkered record as regards truth-telling. (And that’s being kind.) But circumstances seem to agree that Ross was the famed Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) of Silk Road. So, while I have no special knowledge on this subject, I’ll presume for the moment that the allegation is true, and that Ross really was DPR.

The Flamboyant Accusation that Vanished

When Ross was arrested last fall, the FBI immediately publicized accusations that Ross was hiring hit men and had paid them to kill people. Millions of people heard this, and, understandably, thought it was a bad thing.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to court: Those charges vanished. In the final New York indictment, no such charges were included. The murder-for-hire allegation is now an “uncharged crime.” It is mentioned in the indictment, but it is not a formal charge and (conveniently) requires no proof.

So, did Ross really do all the very, very bad things the FBI reported through its ever-friendly news corps? I don’t know, but according to their initial story, they should have had clear and unmitigated evidence. Something doesn’t fit here, and I’ve learned not to give “law enforcement” the benefit of the doubt.

And if you haven’t heard about those charges being dropped, I suggest that you withdraw any trust you’ve had in the news corps.

The Pioneering Silk Road

Silk Road was a true free market. And since free markets are illegal these days (no matter how much political types pretend otherwise), it is no surprise that the first people to use it were selling illegal goods, in this case, drugs. If you’re already on the bad side of the law, you have nothing more to lose by using an “illegal” market.

Interestingly enough, what appears to have been the most popular product on Silk Road was marijuana, which is now being legalized in state after state.

And even in the cases of harder drugs, such as cocaine and Ecstasy (products that I personally wouldn’t recommend), are the drugs the biggest problem here? Or is it kids being forced to buy them from violent drug dealers on ghetto street corners? Silk Road gave people the opportunity to buy through rated vendors, safely. Was that so terrible? People on every continent used Silk Road and received excellent service.

What people don’t understand – and what I’ve picked up from several DPR quotes that people passed to me – is that this was never about drugs; it was about free minds and free markets. THAT is the future I’m talking about. Drugs are merely a side issue. If governments stopped their “war” on drugs, prices would fall and violent thugs would no longer be getting rich on them… and Silk Road would have been selling other things.

Evidently the lessons of Prohibition don’t matter nearly as much as state propaganda.

What Now?

Today, Ross sits in a jail cell in New York. (There are different charges pending against him in Maryland.) And a criminal defense is not cheap, especially when the prosecution can simply dip their hand into a stream of tax dollars and finance their legal games.

This case may matter as a legal precedent, and some people are donating to the Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense Fund for that reason. But I don’t think that’s the primary reason we should be giving.

Those of us who really care about justice and truth and liberty stand on a mutual frontier. The sad fact is that the more you care about morality, life, and goodness, the more of a threat you become to those in power. I won’t take time to explain that today, but you’ve probably had some experience with it already.

Out here on the frontier, we have to look after each other. As Saul of Tarsus once said in a similar situation,

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

That’s what it’s like to stand on a frontier, proclaiming a new truth that threatens immoral powers. And that’s why we must help each other.

If you believe that Ross was DPR, or if you believe he created a truly free market, or if you believe that he put himself at risk to further truth and liberty, you must help him now.

If you can’t do something big, then do something small. But don’t sit on your hands, make excuses, and do nothing. There’s no one out here on the frontier but us. We have to look out for each other.


Here’s the Free Ross website that (I believe) is run by his parents:

Here’s the Bitcoin address for donations:


If you want to send a check, make it to the Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense Fund and mail it to:

The Ulbricht Family
P.O. Box 163602
Austin, TX 78716

If you want to send Ross a letter, his address is:

P.O. BOX 329002

Paul Rosenberg

The Enforcers Just Watered the Seeds of Their Destruction

internet freedomThe Silk Road marketplace was closed by the Feds on October 2nd. Its operator sits in a jail cell in New York. The users were scattered and victory was declared.

But a funny thing happened while all the politicians, FBI agents, and assorted naysayers were congratulating themselves…

The movement didn’t lay down and die.

The people who comprise it did not run away like scared little sheep… like Fed victims had a hundred times before. Instead, they re-formed and got back to business.

Today, there are at least six new, Silk Road-type marketplaces, including a Silk Road 2.0, with a new Dread Pirate Roberts.

Six is probably a very conservative number, by the way.

These new markets are improvements to the original Silk Road:

  • One includes two-factor PGP encryption.
  • Another uses both Bitcoin and Litecoin and caters to customers in Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc.
  • One new market claims to invite only top vendors and has promised a p2p-based escrow to prevent the possibility of administrators stealing user funds. They handle Litecoin and Bitcoin and provide good customer service.
  • Another operates on the I2P network rather than Tor and supports p2p escrow rather than centralized escrow.
  • One innovative market lets the users build it with modules, like WordPress, and with open source code.

(If you’re not the most technically minded, all that jargon might not mean much. In essence, these are just examples of how the market is fighting back and getting more sophisticated and more secure with each new generation.)

One more thing: If you think these markets are just about drugs, you’re missing the primary point. The discussion board at Silk Road was full of Rothbardian economics and the philosophies of freedom.

What This Means

What this means is that the Silk Road people – the Internet freedom people – refused to lay down and die. Rather than cringing in terror, they got back up and started rebuilding. So, instead of one Silk Road, there are now at least six. And there will probably be many more, soon.

These people are pressing on. They are not running away. They believe that their way is the better way, and they are holding to it, regardless of slanders and threats and scams and attacks.

And this means that the control freaks have lost a big battle. They attacked, they spread their terror, and they cranked the propaganda machine that for decades made the masses confess the enforcers as almighty.

But this time the targets didn’t flee in terror, didn’t cower in fear, and no longer believed that the enforcers were gods.

Instead, they acted according to their own judgment, and in their own interests.

Circle autumn 2013 on your calendar, because the terror of the enforcers just failed, for the first time in a long time.

Are There Lessons Here?

Yes, and the big one is this: In the end, a better philosophy (if it is understood) wins.

The free Internet and its free commerce philosophy offers men and women truth, understanding, and strong, direct relationships. The statist alternative offers fear, theft, punishment, an occasional promise of plunder, and intrusion into every relationship in your life.

And even though statism had a massive initial advantage, the freedom philosophy is now asserting itself. Our ways are better and our people are better. And our free Internet, free commerce philosophy is producing people who aren’t quitting, even when they are bruised and bloodied.

When you stop to think about it, a life of automatic obedience to the enforcer is based upon the wildest of claims:

  • That cops are more noble and trustworthy than we are, that their bosses are definitely nobler than we are, and that power does not, in fact, corrupt.
  • That government workers are somehow a better class of beings, but perhaps only while they are working for the state.
  • That intimidation, lies, threats, and violence are transformed into goodness when inflicted by men wearing blue shirts with brass pins.
  • That politicians, whom we all know to be liars and money-whores, somehow produce pristinely moral results in their offices.

Stated this way – and I think this is a fair way to state them – these ideas are ridiculous.

Almost everyone knows that enforcers are more predatory and more threatening than average working guys. People certainly know it when they drive down a highway and pass one of them with a radar gun; they’ve just been conditioned to not connect certain dots.

The great change of this moment is that the Internet people have started to act on what they know.

A corner has been turned. It may be some time until the reality of it sinks in and spreads, but this is an important moment: This time, the victims refused to lay down and die.

And the enforcers just watered the seeds of their own destruction.

Paul Rosenberg

Silk Road Died, Bitcoin Crashed. So why am I so happy?

silk roadYou may have heard that Silk Road – the truly free online market – was taken down today, by the FBI. In response, the price of Bitcoin crashed 24%.

Yet here I am – just a few hours later, feeling very optimistic. Why? Because the philosophy of freedom just showed itself to be massively stronger than statism and its “don’t think, just obey” philosophy.

Here’s What Happened

As I was finishing my lunch, I saw a story posted on the takedown/crash. I did a bit of checking and conversed with a friend, and then hustled over to a place I know where crypto-anarchists hang out online.

These guys were already talking about replacing Silk Road, and doing a better job of it.

Forget about the drugs aspect of this – I don’t care for drugs and neither do the people I listened in on – they just want to build free markets.

Contrast that to a financial site, where I found a couple of Bitcoin haters, a Fed trying to supercharge as much fear as he/she could, and several people trying to buy Bitcoin at its lows, or lamenting that they were out of extra cash to buy right away.

But here’s the interesting part: In the face of an orchestrated attack (and you can be sure that the Feds arranged the day’s events for maximum fear – that’s what they do), even these people, within minutes, were walking forward, not backward.

A Better Philosophy Wins Out

Arguably, the greatest triumph of a new philosophy has to be that of the early Christians (of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries AD), they simply would not be stopped, no matter what was thrown at them.

And why wouldn’t they turn back? Because the Roman way was ridiculous and barbaric. Their gods were vile, vain, sometimes stupid and often cruel. Who wants to worship that? These Christians – whatever their faults or virtues – had found a God who loved them, who wished to help and enlighten them, who said they were meant to be free and prosperous.

Which way would you choose?

The Romans persecuted them and sometimes killed them, but they would not be turned around. These people chose the better philosophy, and in the end, they won.

Today, I saw the same thing, wrapped in modern circumstances.

Freedom-minded people are not stopping, are not abandoning their views. And why should they? Shall we go back to the idiocy and self-contradictory life of worshiping the state? Of pretending that robbery is somehow – magically – not robbery when the government does it?

Our minds have been removed from the state’s intimidation and conditioning. Shall we go back to believing lies and repeating vapid slogans for the rest of our lives?

There are real reasons why individuals move from bondage to liberty, but very seldom the reverse.

The Bottom Line Facts

At the end of all the discussions, all the fears, all the questions, all of the explaining to newbs and concerned friends, stand these facts:

Our philosophy is better than theirs. We offer men and women truth, understanding, compassion (the real kind), and strong, direct relationships. The state offers punishment, fear, an occasional promise of plunder, and intrusion into every relationship in your life.

Our people are better than theirs. Not because we were born better, but because finding and living according to truth produces better people than blind obedience and fear of the lash.

We are not quitting. We can’t. We won’t.

Yes, there may be bruises and even blood along the way, but like the first Christians, our people do not turn back – they continue regardless.

We’ve come out of the state’s cultivated darkness, and we are moving into more and more light. Why would we want to go back to where we were? Even if we tried to do it, could we really stick with it? Could our minds really fit back into their old restraints?

This is why freedom will win, my friends: The genie is out of the bottle, and the Internet has spread the message to the four corners of the Earth. It’s a better message. It produces better people.

And in the end, we will win.

Paul Rosenberg

How to Fix Detroit in 6 Easy Steps

Abandoned automobile factory in Detroit.

The news is full of stories of Detroit, and understandably so. It’s an unmitigated disaster. But I know how to fix it.

Seriously, I do!

I have a plan that would cost the state of Michigan nothing – not a cent. It wouldn’t cost DC anything either, and it would turn Detroit into the most thriving city in North America. As a bonus, it would give the remaining property owners in Detroit a financial windfall.

Here’s the plan:

  • The federal government (in writing) forbears taxes, regulations, laws, and impositions for a hundred years to the area of the current municipality of Detroit and to all persons and commercial entities resident there.
  • The government of the state of Michigan forbears taxes, regulations, laws, and impositions for a hundred years to the area of the current municipality of Detroit and to all persons and commercial entities resident there.
  • All municipal government agencies within Detroit are disbanded.
  • All state and federal offices within the city of Detroit are disbanded.
  • The federal government guarantees that entry and exit to/from Detroit will remain unchanged from the current conditions, and that no obligations will be placed upon residents of Detroit in any other place.
  • Federal and state governments immediately cease all payments to residents of Detroit. (They may resume payment to those persons if and when they are no longer resident in Detroit.)

The final legal document would be more complex than this, but those are all  the main points necessary.

What this plan does is to return Detroit to its natural state – to the way it was managed when the first settlers arrived. (In other words, not managed at all.)

And think of the money that will be saved by Michigan and the feds. Billions per year.

And Then…

And then we have a free for all… and a good one. Think of Hong Kong, but easy to get to.

Businesses would begin to relocate the next morning. Hundreds of them, thousands of them. The people who still owned and lived in their homes would be offered lots of money for their properties.

Libertarians and conservatives, disgusted by the gang in DC, would load up and drive to Detroit. Productive former residents would return. Thousands of opportunity-seekers, anarcho-capitalists, and pot-smoking hippies would be gathering their money and buying property.

Detroit would, within only a few years, become the coolest city on the planet – by FAR.

But, But…

“But there won’t be any police!”

“There won’t be any courts!”

“It will be non-stop murder, death, and mayhem!”

You wanna bet? Do ya? (And you don’t think Detroit has non-stop mayhem already?)

The people who come to Detroit would be coming to escape from their chains and to be productive. These are precisely the kinds of people who clean up a town. And with no taxes to pay for a hundred years, they’d have plenty of extra money to spend on whatever services (security or otherwise) that they wanted.

The Truth

The truth, of course, is that the state and fed guvs will never agree to a plan like this one, for a single reason:

Because they fear it would succeed.

They’ll let every last person in Detroit rot before they’ll let a group of producers live free of their chains.

Detroit returned to its natural state would expose the great lie of the government game – that we can’t survive without them.

Paul Rosenberg

Featured image courtesy of Albert duce,

Commerce: The Permanent Rebellion

commerceCommerce, by its very nature, is born free. And more than this, it forever fights to remain free. At almost every time and place, commerce evades regulations and controls; it serves its own will, not the wills of rulers. Markets spontaneously emerge at every opportunity, even when they are outlawed and punished. Commerce seems to have an existence of its own, like an independent organism.

Even under the worst oppressions recorded in history, commerce continued. This was true in the USSR and it was true in Nazi Germany, and it remains true now, even as the Western world runs headlong into a surveillance-state abyss.

All that said, please don’t imagine that in referring to commerce, I am including the mega-corps that seek to dominate the Earth in partnership with states. That is not at all what I mean, as I will explain below.

I’m going to start this issue by explaining the depth of this rebellion, which is permanent; it continues in our time as in all others.

Opposing Models

Commerce does not rebel against regulation because of excesses. Rather, it is contrary to regulation by its very nature.

Commerce is a productive strategy. Strategies that exert control over commerce are oppositional – they restrain production. The two are inherently opposed: on one side are people struggling to produce, and on the other are people struggling to either slow production or to skim it away.

In 1908, Franz Oppenheimer, a German physician and sociologist, published a book entitled The State. In it, he made the very important observation that there are only two primary modes of survival upon planet Earth: The Political means and the Economic means. Oppenheimer says this:

There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others.

This stark statement is crucial for understanding how men live in this world – and how they have always lived in it: Men survive by either producing or by taking the goods of others. However many layers of publicity and complication there may be, every act by which men feed themselves can be broken down into one or the other of these two.

The great problem with the above statement has never been a question of its truthfulness but that so many people are uncomfortable facing such a truth directly.

The statement that commerce and regulation are eternally at odds is merely a restatement of Oppenheimer.

Acts of Will

Both commerce and control involve acts of will.

  • Commerce involves individuals choosing to perform productive actions, such as growing food, making shoes, and so on.
  • Control involves individuals choosing to allow or disallow the willful acts of the productive, or to remove the fruits of production from the producers.

Commerce is an effect of active will. Commercial controls are the implementations of contrary wills, seeking to restrain the commercial will. The two are eternally at odds.

It is worth explaining here that the controllers of the Earth (that is, the various state rulers) are always forced to undermine independent will. They do this, not because they are all inherently cruel, but because their enterprises become nearly impossible if they don’t suppress individual will.

Ruling men by force alone is expensive; far too expensive to support rulership over a significant area. People who are ruled in that way quickly learn to hide their produce before it can be taken, or simply to run away. You cannot cage intelligent beings like you can beasts – it doesn’t work; they adapt.

To rule humans effectively, you must subvert their wills. You must make them believe that their wills are flawed and that using them is wrong. This is, of course, precisely what has been done since several millennia BC.

The will behind commerce, however, is born of the desire to survive, and that is not something that can be trained away. The survival instinct is permanent, and commerce endures as its great tool. Even though people have been deeply conditioned to surrender their wills to the state, they remain able to use their wills for survival, and that leads directly to commerce.

And since survival is hard-wired into us, commerce always pops back up, no matter how hard it is put down. However much it may be punished or repressed, it will forever rebel and return. Commerce is a permanent rebellion.

Because of this, nearly all arguments against it – certainly from the ruler’s side – are based on the need to restrain freedom. As economist Milton Friedman once wrote:

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our flagship newsletter Freeman’s Perspective – Issue #29: Commerce: The Permanent Rebellion. If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue (which shares fascinating examples on how commerce thrives in some surprising places), but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]

Paul Rosenberg