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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Morality of Spying, Surveillance and Reconnaissance in a Voluntaryist Stateless Society

Over the years, libertarian philosophers have invested a lot of thought into the practical functionality of a Voluntaryist Stateless Society. Using the core tenents of Libertarianism, these thinkers have postulated mechanisms that may arise out of the spontaneous order of the free market. Systems of justice and peacekeeping, such as Dispute Resolution Organizations, have been suggested. Also, a network of contracts and strong adherence to private property rights is widely considered to be a major mechanism by which a Voluntaryist society would organize.

In the spirit of hypothesizing on how different mechanisms would arise, I began to wonder about the moral restrictions of spying, surveillance and reconnaissance and how it would practically function. There are great lengths of literature by many libertarian philosophers on invasion defense forces and privatized police, but nothing specifically on this subject. So, I decided to analyze it myself. I am by no means a so-called “professional” libertarian philosopher and am giving these thoughts from an “average guy” perspective. Also, if there have been such works by notable figures, specifically on this subject, I will be more than happy to add citations from their work into this article. 

Within this article, I will attempt to frame the morality, as it pertains to core tenents of Libertarianism, of spying, surveillance and reconnaissance within an established Voluntaryist Stateless Society. I will discuss the practical applications of those systems as utilized by citizens within the society on each other and the application of those systems from outside societal influences, stateless or otherwise.

The Voluntaryist Stateless Society in discussion will have an assumed economic model of capitalism and will be referred to as “Ancapistan”. Furthermore, I will use the terms “boundaries” and “borders” pragmatically as it pertains to the topics of this discussion. I realize that the residents of Ancapistan would only recognize where an individual’s property ends and another begins as any “boundary” or “border” that truly exists.

Adherence to the Non-Aggression Principle and Property Rights

The first and number one question that comes to mind when speaking of spying, surveillance and reconnaissance is whether or not those actions violate the Non-Aggression Principle. The NAP simply states that aggression is immoral and that force is only acceptable in the defense of one’s self and property. Is gathering intelligence an act of aggression? I would say in most cases, no, especially when private property rights are being maintained and there is no coercion involved.  However, I would argue that the deliberate defeat of a mechanism specifically in place to protect privacy is not automatically an act of aggression, but could be a violation of property rights after a deeper analysis, which would then be considered a violation of the NAP.

For a clear cut example, let’s say I am your neighbor and I am working in my yard. If you come to your window naked with the curtains opened, the blinds up and I see you through the window, I did not violate the NAP and I now know what you look like naked. However, if you did have your curtains drawn, your blinds down and I then threw a brick through your window and drew the blinds and curtains myself, that would obviously be an aggressive, albeit not so subtle, act of spying.

Consider a not so clear cut case, the same neighbors have a privacy fence separating their back yards and Mrs. Libertarian is sunbathing topless. If the neighbor gets on his roof to do repairs and happens to see over the fence at Mrs. Libertarian, I would not say that he violated the NAP. If the neighbor got on a ladder with the expressed purpose of defeating the privacy fence, looking over and seeing Mrs. Libertarian, that is a little more of a grey area. However, would say he still did not violate the NAP. Mrs. Libertarian’s fence was not damaged in the process and the neighbor did not trespass, thus her private property rights have been maintained.

All in all, I believe it is the responsibility of the individual, in clear adherence with self-ownership, to construct safeguards that are not easily defeated. In the instance of Mrs. Libertarian sunbathing topless, if she wants to have 100% complete privacy, maybe she should invest in a tanning bed. In that case, the neighbor would almost certainly have to violate private property to get a peek.

Questions such as these also inevitably lead to the digital world as well. Cyber warfare is quickly becoming a mechanism to which states sabre rattle and escalate conflicts with one another. Considering the broad definition of “hacking”; is breaking into a computer system, for the sole purpose of spying, surveillance and/or reconnaissance, a violation of the NAP?  Gaining access to a system, especially while defeating deliberate mechanisms to thwart such infringements, would be considered a form of trespassing, therefore violating the NAP. In contrast, if a person has an unsecured Wi-Fi connection and someone gains access to your systems, then I would not consider that a violation of the NAP.

A great discussion on this topic can be found on A poll was taken asking if hacking was a violation of the NAP and a discussion ensued in the comment section. 67% believed it was, while another 21.5% believed it was a violation only when money is stolen or data was damaged.

Ancapistan’s Defense and the Crucial Role
Spying, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Would Play

                Spying, surveillance and reconnaissance would play an immensely crucial role in Ancapistan’s private defense forces, especially if state actors still exist beyond its “borders”. Reconnaissance and intelligence gathering on the activities of violent and coercive power structures perched outside of the boundaries is what I would consider a “no-brainer” when it comes to establishing Ancapistan. Before taking a deeper analysis on the morality of specific instances, an issue must be addressed.

                That issue is of “airspace”. Rothbard states in Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution, that under common law, “every landowner owns all the airspace above him upward indefinitely” but that “a literal application of the rule would in effect outlaw all aviation, as well as rockets and satellites.” He goes on to state “The best judicial theory is the “zone,” which asserts that only the lower part of the airspace above one's land is owned; this zone is the limit of the owner's “effective possession.””

                Based off Rothbard’s interpretation of “airspace”, I would find no moral conflict with any modern applications of high altitude reconnaissance flights or satellite surveillance systems over outside state actors’ territory. In fact, I would consider these programs to be essential to the safety and security of Ancapistan. Surely, if Ancapistan were established tomorrow and surrounded by outside state actors, it would be threatened with the initiation of force. Knowing exactly what the coercive power monopolies plan to do will provide the greatest defensive preparation and highest chances of defending the lives and property of Ancapistan’s residents.

                Espionage is another tactic that would most likely be utilized as well. Several moral questions are raised when considering sending personnel into other territories outside Ancapistan. Is sending someone to that territory considered trespassing? Also, does the NAP apply to these outside state actors, as territorially monopolistic entity? To answer those questions, one must establish whether private property exists within that territory. If that answer is no, then the automatic answer to those two questions is no as well. Residents of Ancapistan would not recognize the use of coercion and force to organize society into a “state”; therefore I would highly doubt Ancapistan’s residents would recognize crossing an imaginary line, into what the state claims is its territory, would constitute any moral violation, much less the NAP.

                However, if the outside territories were held privately, partially as a percentage of the territory or not, I would say it is very important to be careful not violate those rights. Ancapistan would be the example for the rest of the world. Just because these privately held lands happen to reside within the boundaries of “the state” does not mean Ancapistan could violate those private property rights. Spies should use the “public” lands and infrastructure to achieve the objective, they should not use privately held lands and infrastructure unless given consent.


                Now that it has been argued that, in most cases, intelligence gathering techniques are moral, we must discuss that fact that these same tactics would be used against the residents of Ancapistan by outside state actors as well. However, as stated above, it is the responsibility of the individual to safeguard against these measures. Just as Mrs. Libertarian should use a tanning bed, instead of her back yard, if she never wants to be seen sunbathing naked; the same logic must be applied elsewhere.

                In the specific case of high altitude reconnaissance flights and satellite surveillance systems, countermeasures such as signal jamming, signal encryption, cloaking and concealment must be utilized. These measures would not damage property and would make it increasingly difficult to gather the data sought after. The same goes for the digital world with firewalls, code and data encryption and other software to thwart such actions. With the creative and competitive nature of a truly free market, Ancapistan’s resident would have access to protection technology far beyond those developed by the outside world.

All in All, It’s a Good Thing

                Looking at spying, surveillance and reconnaissance as a whole, I believe it should be a tool used often. If Ancapistan were to be established tomorrow, litigation and dispute resolutions would play a vital role in the society. A large part of that system would be intelligence, gathered morally, to prove, disprove or resolve a dispute. For example, in the Russian Federation, dash cams have become a staple of society due to high rates of insurance fraud. As a result, people have installed dash cams in their cars and less and less fraud is being perpetrated. As an added bonus, the world gets some very interesting YouTube videos in the process (car crashes, meteor strikes and all the other wild things that happen in Russia)!

Road Rage

                With this article, I want to initiation a discussion, answer any existing questions, and/or raise new questions about the practical and moral use of spying, surveillance and reconnaissance in a Voluntaryist Stateless Society. Also, I hope that this article will serve as a tool to counter and rebut arguments against Libertarian philosophy when it comes to its pragmatism.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

North Korea's Report on US Human Rights Violations Surprisingly Accurate

"It takes one to know one!" was a common rebuttal to play ground name calling when I was a child. In the recent back and fourth between the US and North Korea, that same logic can be applied. In response to a UN human rights report, the North Korean officials release their own report, calling out abuses by the US government on its own citizens.

Of course, this is the pot calling the kettle black, as North Korea imprisons tens of thousands of their own citizens in work camps. However, I would like to go over the points raised in their report and analyze the validity of the claims:
Under the citizenship act, racialism is getting more severe in the U.S. The gaps between the minorities and the whites are very wide in the exercise of such rights to work and elect. The U.S. true colors as a kingdom of racial discrimination was fully revealed by last year's case that the Florida Court gave a verdict of not guilty to a white policeman who shot to death an innocent black boy. 
It is true that there is a gap widening in America, but it is not based on color. At least, that is not where the true line is drawn, only where the media would like it to be focused. The gap is between average Americans, regardless of race, creed or color, and oligarchic, corporatists that have literally bought this country through the political system. According to a Princeton University Study: "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."
That's why 52 percent of the Americans have said that racism still exists in the country while 46 percent contended that all sorts of discrimination would be everlasting.
Again, I would attribute this to Media bias, which North Korea is well aware of using. At least North Korea doesn't hide behind the illusion of unbiased media and news. A perfect example, since we are on the subject of Trayvon Martin, was the shooting death of Marley Lion. He was also an unarmed teenager shot dead. However, he was white and his attackers were black. Both were tragic events that should have never happened, but the point is that the Media pushes the narrative of caring about one, but not the other.

The U.S. is a living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated.
I think "living hell" is a bit of a hyperbole, but nevertheless I don't think I need to explain or cite the hundreds, if not thousands, of examples. NSA, police brutality and murder and so on...
At present, an average of 300,000 people a week are registered as unemployed, but any proper measure has not been taken.
Ding ding ding, tell them what they've won, Johny! According to the Department of Labor's own report: "In the week ending April 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 344,000"

Also, they are absolutely correct about "proper measure has not been taken". As Forbes reports "the “official” unemployment rate doesn’t count...discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs or have given up looking altogether. Tracking those individuals, under what’s called the “U-6″ rate, gives a very different measure of the nation’s unemployment rate."
The housing price soared 11.5 percent last year than 2012 and 13.2 percent in January this year than 2013, leaving many people homeless.
It seems like our North Korean friends are using the exclusive internet access wisely, considering the second half of this statement came directly out of a Reuter's article: "The monthly price increase mirrored the one in January, while prices were up 12.9 percent from a year ago, compared with a year-on-year gain of 13.2 percent in January."

They are slightly off on 2013, according to The Economic Populist "For all of 2013, existing home sales increased 9.1% from 2012"

All in all they are correct, home prices are sharply rising, as seen by The Economist's graph, showing a 16.8% increase in the last two years in a 10 city index.

However, they are inaccurate on their implication that the increase home prices adversely affects the homelessness factor. According to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, "Since 2012, homelessness declined by 4%."
The number of impoverished people increased to 46.5 millions last year, and one sixth of the citizens and 20-odd percent of the children are in the grip of famine in New York City.   
CNN and Reuters confirmed numbers of 46.5 million people living in poverty.

22% of New York City children are living in "food insecure" homes, according to New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

All sorts of crimes rampant in the U.S. pose a serious threat to the people's rights to existence and their inviolable rights.
Again, completely true. Politicians and the corporate elite are above the law. For just one example, US banks caught laundering billions in drug cartel money and no one goes to jail.
The U.S. government has monitored every movement of its citizens and foreigners, with many cameras and tapping devices and even drones involved, under the pretext of "national security".
 No dispute there.
Meanwhile, bills on easing arms control were adopted in various states of the country, boosting murderous crimes. As a result, the U.S. has witnessed an increasing number of gun-related crimes in all parts of the country and even its military bases this year. In this regard, the United Nations on April 10 put the U.S. on the top of the world list of homicide rates. 
Inaccurate. We've already had this debate after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. The FBI's own numbers show violent crime rates reduced as private ownership of firearms increased. The Washington Post remarked accurately on the UN report "while the April 10 U.N. report did note that the United States has a high murder rate, the top spot went to Honduras."

The U.S. also has 2.2 millions of prisoners at present, the highest number in the world. For lack of prisons on the part of the government, individuals are providing detention facilities to make money. A Russian TV said that in the U.S. the wealthy classes are now keen on the investment in providing private prisons for their high profit and so more people will be imprisoned.
True again. Wikipedia page states: "According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end the highest in the world" and "In a 2011 report by the ACLU, it is claimed that the rise of the for-profit prison industry is a "major contributor" to mass incarceration"
Such poor human right records in the U.S. are an inevitable product of the ruling quarters' policy against humanity.
More of an opinion than a fact, but one I don't necessarily disagree with it. I agree mainly because North Korea themselves are a perfect example. They would know, right?

Its chief executive, Obama, indulges himself in luxury almost every day, squandering hundred millions of dollars on his foreign trip in disregard of his people's wretched life.
According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Obama's 2009 trip to London "All told, the plans for the event were estimated to cost between $60-100 million,"
It is also the president who called for respect to the verdict of not guilty given to a white policeman's racialism and backed the unlawful monitoring and tapping activities.
I am not sure what they are talking about here. Apparently, they think the President can arbitrarily overturn a court decision.
The U.S. is the world's worst human right abuser and tundra of a human being's rights to existence.
I would not say the worst, but it is definitely getting worse. However compared to, let's say, North Korea, America is still a dream land. This is not an excuse to not fight back against government overreach and encroachment of freedoms.

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