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Dark activism

There's been much attention, in the alternative media at least, around Amir Taaki and the Dark Wallet project which aims to make using bitcoin more anonymous. Taaki argues, quite properly, that regulating Bitcoin is squandering the founder's legacy and neutering the opportunity that technology gives us to create a really free market. What the world really needs is the ability to conduct business in private, free from regulation, government and corporate spying, and by implication, free from mandatory taxation collected by psychopaths in suits and bullies with badges. The ruling classes cannot permit the plebs to have privacy because it would be used against them. Taaki acknowledges that privacy is a boon for criminals but he believes the possibility of crime is a price worth paying for freedom. And I would add that we are subject to supermassive crimes already, but committed by the ruling class, and obscured by their media.

So the dark technologies will create a free space for free expression, dissent and disruption, and help to take power back from the elites. However while agree with all of that, here's why I'm still working in the light.

  1. The dark approach, the cloak and dagger, the risky business will never appeal to the majority of people, who would rather be responsible to their families and stay out of jail. If privacy is illegal, then operating in dark spaces will always constitute a risk. Cultures of ignoring law do exist, but this is not desirable as it means anyone can be arrested on the slightest pretext.
  2. Working in the dark will never be as easy as flicking a switch. Keeping up with the technology arms race requires continuous training and constant vigilance and more professionalism than Julian Assange or Pirate Dred Roberts.
  3. The spies can very often see who is working in the dark, even if they can't see what they are doing. So the darker you seek to be, the more attention you might draw to yourself. Furthermore, if everything is broken then working in the dark becomes extremely difficult because any of your tools could inadvertently betray you.
  4. Working in the dark protects against surveillance but the enemy can always venturing into the dark themselves. It is extremely difficult to trade with people without knowing who they are, and perhaps not very useful. In the dark anybody could be a mole and a healthy paranoia is needed.
  5. People who are genuinely up to no good will always be more motivated to work in the dark. These are therefore the most direct beneficiaries of dark work. How successful must such work be before the criminal activity is overtaken by the kind of activity we hope to encourage?
  6. The dark side has a particular romantic appeal which attracts a lot of young people and flaky people.
  7. What is the battle plan once we have our dark spaces? Do we inhabit them but never with any sense of security? Or do we leave it to the hardcore activists to blow up banks with no support or recognition? Its not a story I want to tell.

However sinister things appear, we are not living in Stalin's Russia or a tin-pot South American dictatorship. Very few activists in the west are being murdered. The vast majority of people are actually opting IN to the system albeit because the alternatives are not readily apparent. Surveillance is a problem yes, and it significantly helps the plutocrats maintain their grip on power. But I think evading surveillance is not the answer for the present situation. We need to be telling, and demonstrating powerful new stories. We need to be winning over the guardians, celebrating whistle-blowers above the brain-dead-beautiful, calling out the lies, building trust and thriving in communities.

Plus there are some compelling reasons for working in full view of everybody. We can set an example, be supported, and not can't disappear without people noticing. Crucially, in the light there is no dilemma about the ends justifying the means; we can't perform atrocious deeds and false flag attacks in order to make a better world. And for me there's something even more important about working in the light - I can be honest straightforward and truthful about what I am doing, I can trust my associates, I can look in the mirror and I can sleep at night.


"And for me there's something even more important about working in the light - I can be honest straightforward and truthful about what I am doing, I can trust my associates, I can look in the mirror and I can sleep at night."

And the energy throughput to your works, productivity, positive results &c is better, because solving issues about dark function requires time, effort, thought, resources... There is more drag, inefficiency, friction, what have you, when solving dark function issues. Intrigue is costly. Putting the energy where it does the most good in your view (i'm guessing social welfare, ecosystems welfare are important to you) is worthwhile. Working on dark issues compromises the light. Solve them by working in the light.

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