We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Picking battles

I found this comment from a business owner (correction, “Chief Architect of BitcoinStore“) poignant. The context is that it is a response to people moaning about Reddit moderators removing links to a hacked database file, but it is widely applicable. Now I am middle class with children I find myself going along with a lot of things that I would really prefer to fight against.

I haven’t been able to look through the leak fully myself (still setting up the VM) but the fact still remains that this is stolen property containing other peoples’ data. If you fear what the people in fancy costumes with guns will do to you, you comply with their demands. That’s not censorship, that’s self-preservation. [ …] Sadly it doesn’t change the fact that there are people with guns who will take your money, lock you in a cage or just plain beat/kill you for not complying with their version of the rules.

For example, at BitcoinStore we state true value on exports and that results in citizens of some countries being charged absurdly high import tariffs (VAT). Our customers don’t like this and neither do we. We’re repeatedly asked to state false value, but we never do. We don’t do this because we agree with the concept of VAT or the idea of being forced to reveal the value or contents of a shipment, but because the people with guns can and will take away our money, freedom and lives.

Does the threat of having our awesome stuff taken away reduce the amount of awesome stuff we could have? Yep. Is it horrible terrible bullshit? Yep. Will they still put us in a cage no matter how much we are against them having the power to do so? Yep.

As a group of freedom-loving people it is indeed our responsibility to change all of these things, remake the world in a more favorable image, but we also must recognize that we are NOT the side that has all the guns, tanks and political power. We’re the side throwing rocks at the people with M16s and we need to behave accordingly. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight, it means we need to be smart about it.

This is guerilla warfare, we fight only the battles we know we can win and we take all the weapons we can off our fallen enemies we can carry. A series of small wins makes us stronger and we can go after bigger wins with time. Charging headlong into the enemy is suicide.

Smart tactics, not loud voices will win this fight. Choose your battles.

11 comments to Picking battles

  • stef

    I frequently have to explain to customers and those we contract with that I am not willing to cheat on *their* taxes.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    It’s easy to forget that the police, by and large, are not the “hard-working public servants” of propaganda. These days I’d be inclined to say they are one of the very worst arms of government. Certainly the worst emergency service. They are the “men with guns” referenced above.

    I must confess a weakness for those shows where they follow the emergency services around. Lately I’ve been watching Countryside 999 on the Iplayer. Some of the stories include:

    Rescue Helicopter:
    – Picked up a baby who had stopped breathing on a beach and took them to hospital
    – Picked up a man who had a heart attack
    – Picked up a man who had broken his ankle on top of Ben Nevis

    – Took a motorcyclist who had been in a multiple car pileup to hospital
    – Took a woman with a dislocated knee off a rocky beach in corwall

    Mountain Rescue team:
    – Manually transported a man with a shattered knee out of a deep gorge in the lake district, using ropes to transport him back up the waterfall he had fallen down
    – Assist the rescue helicopter in recovering a causualty from a cliff face

    – Issued a £100 fine & penalty points to a grandmother for mispelling her car reg on her insurance, felt smug for “doing her a favour” by not having her car impounded
    – Issued a fine and penalty points to a nurse for using her phone while driving
    – Issued a fine to a group of teenagers for possession of cannabis
    – Issued a fine and penalty points to a man for speeding
    – Threatened to issue a fine to a man in an old banger for a cracked windshield, ordered him to have it fixed that week despite his protests that he had no money till the end of the month, and then waxed lyrical to the camera about how much of a favour they were doing him by not issuing him a fine…..

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the Police, by and large, are scum. Bad laws need someone willing to enforce them. Without such people, the state could not implement totalitarianism.

  • Sage advice – we all have to live in this world. Although I see little harm in “loud voices”.

  • Laird

    Well said.

  • Billy Brice

    Blimey, never were truer words wrote

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The problem with ‘picking battles’ is when – as with the Republican party – the battle you pick is always ‘the next one’.

  • John K


    Almost every interface the police have with the public these days seems to be either minor drug possession by urban youths, or minor motoring offenses. The only time the average member of society will speak to a copper is over some motoring infraction. The fact that politicians have given the police tinpot dictator powers to issue on the spot fines does not help much either. I can only hope that when drugs are legalised and we are all driven around in Googlecars things might start to get a bit better, but I don’t live in hope.

  • Tono-Bungay

    I can only hope that when drugs are legalised and we are all driven around in Googlecars things might start to get a bit better, but I don’t live in hope.

    Sadly, I think you’ve got the right idea; I wish I could say otherwise.

    Modern law enforcement seems to have a great deal less to do with enforcing meaningful laws (i.e. laws that protect both people and property) and a great deal more to do with being the ‘muscle’ for rent-seeking behaviour by the State.

    If drugs are ever legalised, I’ve no doubt whatever the police will start to issue fines for ‘excessive consumption of fatty foods’ or other violations of ‘healthy lifestyle measures’ to make up for the lost revenue from drug busts.

    (“Care to explain these crisp packets, sir?”) 🙂

    As for Googlecars, I expect they’ll be a positive boon for the Modern Surveillance State (you’ll then have a camera in your car, as opposed to cameras on street corners merely trying to peer into it). Of course, that will be in addition to the police coming up with all kinds of ‘necessary’ reasons why they ought to be able to commandeer your Googlecar at will and direct it to the nearest police station if you dare fall behind in, say, your child support payments (or, worse, the built-in camera shows the floor of your car awash in crisp packets!).

    As awkward as doing your own driving is at present (e.g. having to dodge other motorists who aren’t paying the slightest bit of attention), I’ve a feeling the current state of affairs is paradise compared to how it’ll be if auto-piloted cars ever become a reality. The tempatation to turn such cars into further revenue-enhancement tools strikes me as being too great for any State to ignore.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist is right. I just watched part of the same program, Countryside 999.

    Police man in the middle of nowhere in Wales stops a van, seemingly at random. Asks the driver to prove he has insurance. Driver says his boss would know, but spends some time failing to get in touch with his boss. Lots of big talk about the seriousness of driving without insurance. The policeman won’t let the driver move until he proves he has insurance, and makes out he is being generous by “giving you the opportunity to prove you have insurance.”

    After some time, the van is impounded and the driver taken away in the police car, with threats of points on his license and a big fine.

    At the end of the program, the voiceover guy nonchalantly says: “The case was withdrawn from court. So it looks like he did have insurance after all.”

    Punished for not being organised with the paperwork, then.