Saturday, June 13, 2015

Silk Road and Socrates

Ross is Our Socrates - Jeffrey Tucker -

May 30, 2015 - "There is not an informed lover of liberty and progress who was not shaken by the life sentence handed down to Ross Ulbricht, visionary web developer and now martyr. The judge’s words were chilling in the extreme.

"'The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn’t exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts,' said Judge Katherine Forrest.... 'Silk Road’s birth and presence asserted that its … creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous.'

"Why so dangerous? Most people on the Silk Road bought pot, before it became legal in many big cities. Others got medications that are legal in Canada and Mexico but not yet approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], that decrepit bureaucracy controlled by big pharma. Others bought IDs to get around preposterous drinking laws that are tighter than any nation outside Saudi Arabia. For so many people, the service Ross created as a source for personal liberation from a deeply oppressive regime. Testimonials to this effect have been appearing all over the Internet.

"But, no, said the judge, what Ross made possible was 'terribly destructive to our social fabric.' Therefore, he must stand as an example to others. The state rules. Never doubt it. Never question it. The law of the land reigns supreme. If you think otherwise, you are the enemy to be destroyed.

"We think we are enlightened. No we are not. We read about the trial of Socrates. Every school kid does. What were they thinking, killing such a great mind? And why? For corrupting the youth with dangerous ideas, and daring to question the state religion. Those ancients were so despotic, so disregarding of essential human rights....

"But here we are, with a peaceful, brilliant, fascinating young man condemned to die in prison for being ahead of his time. We never learn. Or rather: the state never learns. In some ways, this institution is the same in all times and all places. It is not the light. It is the darkness, the unteachable, the inflexible, the ignorant, the past....

"There is no longer a hot war on philosophers, Christians, usurers, witches, abolitionists, homosexuals, liquor manufacturers, and race mixers. The war on pot, still raging when Ross opened his marketplace, is pretty well spent just a few years later. But we still have a war on underage drinkers, hackers, prostitutes, medicine distributors, narcotics manufacturers, and so on....

"Ross Ulbricht did not follow a conventional route to martyrdom, but in his role as the chosen target of a regime that wants to maintain control, he follows in a long line. He is our Socrates, our Oscar Wilde, our Rosa Parks. Think of the bigger picture. Think of the long term. Despite every appearance, the state does not rule. Progress has only been possible by rending its 'social fabric' asunder, again and again in every age.

"In our times, the paradigm is shifting. We have tools that leap beyond borders and beyond the physical realm itself, technology that fundamentally challenges the structure and character of how we are ruled or if we are ruled at all. This defines our times. Freedom will be ours. Let us never forget our rebels, our heroes, the men and women of courage and vision who made it possible."

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