I think I'm becoming an anarchist

.. but I wouldn’t know since I’ve no idea what anarchism is.

Let me backtrack a bit here.

Yesterday, Aaron Swartz committed suicide [1]. I did not know the man (though I think I’d stumbled upon his writing once or twice) and did not immediately recognize the name. However, I spent the better part of yesterday reading about him.

I read. Then I read some more. I don’t need to have known him to know that the world lost a great mind.

Much, if not all of the blame, seemed to be placed upon MIT and the prosecutors’ office. Through overreach and ridiculous charges, they managed to push this bright soul into oblivion [2] [3]. And that’s a tragedy.

The world lost a hacker. A kind soul.

But, as tragic as it is, it is not all I’m here to talk about.

Simply put, Aaron’s case led me to once again attempt to untangle my belief system. I was never one to rage against the machine, but I am someone who sticks to his principles. And now I’m conflicted.

I sat down and thought about what I feared the most.

And, apart from diseases, it was that omnipotent and largely malevolent force, the Government.

And that’s a problem.

While I don’t live in the United States, I do live in the UK and things are only marginally better here. This is still the country that almost extradited someone my age (who never committed a crime in the UK) because he once had a website with links to copyrighted content. Instead, they just extorted money from him. [4]

I mean, come ON!

History shows a predominant use of oppression and coercion to control societies. The most outrageous ones got torn apart. But now, it seems to my entirely uneducated and naive eyes, that same coercion still prevails, only at a much sleeker, dangerous level.

I wish to refuse to live in a society where my biggest fear is the government. I refuse your social contract.

Now what?

Remember when I said I don’t know what anarchism is? I never really bothered to sit down, extract all my beliefs into a cohesive system and compare against the academic definitions. I just have things I believe. If I like you, I might even share them with you. Don’t label me as a whatever-ist, if I refuse to label myself.

That said, from what I remember, free association is one of the tenants of anarchist movements. If you don’t like our society, go to another one.

Yes, but which one?

The choice becomes even harder considering how much of the tech world is focused around the US. Should I voluntarily give up a significant part of my freedom to enjoy the work opportunities in Silicon Valley, while at the same time exposing myself to a whole new pile of trouble in the face of the US government?

I don’t have that answer yet. All I can say is that I hate the fact it’s an either-or proposition.

However, excluding that little dilemma, I’m still unclear which other social order to accept. Most of Western Europe seems okay(-ish), yet there are overreaches everywhere (The Pirate Bay, anyone? Julian Assange? Either one of those two is enough for me to write off Sweden)

My life is just now starting out. I want it to start in a society I can freely and without fear call my own.

Perhaps the solution is to travel the world, and in the terminology of Daniel Quinn, become a Leaver. Another part of me almost wishes to live in Rand’s Atlantis, a hidden haven of great minds and freedom from terror. The realist in me likes to point out that few, if any, attempts at closed societies have succeeded.

This was a post of frustration. Frustration that this is the world we’ve chosen (or have allowed to be chosen for us). That I am not the first to face this choice and better men than me have failed to find The Answer. There probably is an answer, but that’s for me to find myself. Regardless, we, as a society, need The Answer.

But most of all - beyond this mountain of thoughts I’ve chosen to explore - most of all, I’m angry that someone had to die because of this lunacy.

Rest in peace, Aaron. I hope your legacy is never forgotten.


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