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

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,