Note from the Editor: This letter is the latest in an ongoing series of open letters to Ross Ulbricht hosted by Bitcoin.com. In this piece, the author gives a heartfelt exposition of Ross’ impact on libertarian circles and the market economy at large. I believe that this piece is truly powerful and sincere, and urge readers to submit their own letters to Ross; details for writing and sending a letter can be found at the end of this letter.
Also read: Open Letters to Ross Ulbricht: Reflections
The gift you left the world is immense. The vision of freed markets, protected by the power of encryption, has never been so forcefully demonstrated as it has with the Silk Road. Here was a marketplace, operating in the darkness of the Deep Web, shielding buyers and sellers from tracking, surveillance, and identification, that gave the world the first, real taste of liberty. The Silk Road allowed people to log-in discreetly, peruse and order goods States had banned all over the world, communicate and exchange privately, and engage in mutually-beneficial exchange.
The liberatory powers of the Silk Road are seen particularly strongly when one considers the peace such a medium brought to international drug markets, often fueled by gang violence, terrorism, extortion, and fear. The Silk Road gave buyers a reprieve from shady street sellers, police officers, dangerous products, and reduced social reputation. With the Silk Road, true consumer privacy and autonomy ruled. Products were overwhelmingly pure, sellers were professional, buyers were informed, and, best of all, the whole system never touched fiat. It was like a dream world, floating translucently above the physical world, where only those who knew of Silk Road could access it. Like a hidden pirate’s cove, it existed side-by-side both the official, white markets and the dangerous black markets. Feeding from both of these, it grew enormously. The precedent set with the establishment of the Silk Road has blown the whole game wide open. As I’m sure you know by now, dozens of Deep Web marketplaces have emerged to absorb the traffic cultivated by the Silk Road after its fall. You took the genie out of the bottle and, in so doing, became a hero for civil libertarians, crypto-anarchists, and liberty-lovers all over the globe.
You truly are a Son of Liberty. Your actions in creating the Silk Road place you forever in the pantheon of libertarian heroes. The unbelievable success of the Silk Road catapulted Bitcoin into popular interest, culminating in price surges, media discussions, investor confidence, and more. It transformed Bitcoin from a niche cryptographic object into a real economic good. Second to Satoshi Nakamoto, you are the most important Bitcoiner of all time.
I say you are a Son of Liberty for primarily two reasons: According to Forbes interviews, your mother’s accounts, and more, you are an incredibly polished libertarian of the Rothbardian tradition. Your perspective is not of a politically-neutral software developer, or – God forbid – a proponent of “limited government.” You came out with a flaming sword, slashing and burning both the attempts by the undeserved to rule us and the social fabric supporting the disaster called the War on Drugs. Striking at the root, your mission was completely anathema to the activities of the State. Explicit in your writings and actions was a consistent attitude that reflected the realities that the State is nothing more than a gang of thieves writ large, and you made no apologies for bitterly opposing it. Steadfast in this philosophy, you galvanized and emboldened the libertarian crowd within Bitcoin, which has never been a small subset.
Your project also struck in a way no political activism ever could. The Silk Road was agorism, pure and simple, enhanced one-hundredfold by the magic of cryptography. Agorism cannot succeed in ending the State until the tools are available for widespread, global use. Crypto-anarchist strategy is the strategy of global agorism, and by piecing together and intelligently combining disparate technologies like blockchains and onion routing, you have done more for billions of people, present and future, than any philanthropist ever could.
You have shown us the way out of bondage, out of the geographic, violence-backed monopolies that litter this beautiful planet. While your writings and interviews expressed a desire to teach and spread ideas, more successful than that were your actions. Every day the Silk Road operated was another day to invite more curious minds into discovering that they, too, could have the freedom to purchase Columbian blow and black tar heroin, fake IDs and passports, and much, much more. Although your attitude reflected a laissez-faire philosophy, it was clear that Silk Road was not a land of license. That you and others prohibited items, such as stolen property and child pornography, reflected the nuanced view that the Silk Road was a place to discover victimless joy — not a medium by which people could profit from truly criminal activities. We are conditioned to believe that any activity prohibited by the State constitutes a crime, but you showed millions the falsity of this delusion and led to the continued undermining of State support. Every ounce of OG Kush, every hit of Adderall, and every tab of acid purchased whittled away at the social anxiety surrounding drugs and the Police State. Now, many hands have picked up where the Silk Road left off, and the whittling continues at an accelerating pace; it is chopping.
You are admired, Ross. You have followers. Thousands of libertarians and anarchists count you as a hero, and they donate to the FREE ROSS fund, they spread Lyn’s message, and they do their best to continue desensitizing the world to the “outrageous” idea of freedom of exchange. Your contributions to the project of liberation will resonate through the ages, as have the actions of men and women of similar stature, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Aaron Swartz, Satoshi Nakamoto, Ron Paul, Phil Zimmerman, Irwin Schiff, and countless more. I believe one day I will meet you. I believe one day you will be a free man, and you will attend your first Porcfest. I believe that rose petals will litter the walkways of Agora Valley as you descend into the concentrated agorist campground hosted by the Free State Project. I believe you will be rescued from the clutches of your sinister captors, and be delivered back into the world where your intelligence, humanity, and deep concern for human liberation will flourish yet again. I applaud your unbelievable bravery in the face of an enormous war machine, and I believe your heroism will earn you high rank when you return to civil society. Thank you for providing incredible inspiration – in matters both of technology and liberation. Today, I honor you.
Mattheus von Guttenberg
Readers of Bitcoin.com are encouraged to write to Ross and research the non aggression principle. We believe there are millions of people who are incarcerated in this world who don’t deserve to be. Email submissions for letters to be published to the “Open Letters To Ross” series can be sent to ~> email@example.com
The address where you can send a letter to Ross directly is here. Ross especially likes discussions on economics, politics and science.
Ross Ulbricht, #18870-111
MCC, New York Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007-1780
Those who choose to donate Bitcoin can do so by visiting Freeross.org to help fund his appeal process directly.