Private Property and “Fair Game”

Apparently, there are some libertarians who labor under the impression that private property confers the owner the right to declare others to be fair game within the property boundaries. To deny this is to be guilty of libertarian hypocrisy regarding the meaning of private property. “If you don’t like my rules, don’t enter my property, hypocrite!”

Well, there is actually a pretty easy rejoinder to this position, one that it is fairly obvious if we assume some minimal degree of literacy on the part of the reader. Certainly, as a schoolboy, “The Most Dangerous Game” was a favorite story of mine, a work of fiction that also typically made it in into the english curriculums taught in the US public school system. If it is no longer being taught, then perhaps it should be added to the unofficial libertarian anthology.

While there are several themes regarding humanity and civilization interwoven into that short story masterpiece, for our purposes there is a simple moral: if you declare others to be fair game within your sphere of authority, then by your own rules, so are you. The author,Richard Connell, never informs us as to how well the Russian Cossack general slept at the night, assuming that anyone of certain intelligence would probably expect the fate that eventually met him, but the last line of the classic story ends with the protagonist thoroughly enjoying his sleep in the dead general’s bed(of course, after having fed the general to his own dogs).

“Fair game” is not a hypothetical in libertarian justice unless you are interested in underwriting your own fate as dog food.

1Next question…

To exempt yourself from the rules you expect others to abide by is the bromide of the statist. But there is no state in libertopia to enforce hypocrisy.

Transactional Consent

Some brief commentary on the recent passage of “affirmative consent” legislation in California that will no doubt be replicated across the country. I have two primary objections to it:

(1) If we assume the premise of a crisis of rape culture on university campuses, then the only just conclusion is the immediate termination of any state subsidy of this odious institutional setting. There are no if, and or buts on the matter, otherwise its mere toleration of culturally subsidized mass rape. There is no argument for tinkering at the margins for such a thing.

(2) Those that insist that a standard of “affirmative consent” be employed as a mitigating offset are typically the same ones that in any other context scoff at the human agency of transactional consent. So, in California, for example, you will have the left hand implement a legal standard of affirmative consent to address a crisis of mass rape while the right hand vigorously steps up a war on transactionally consensual sex, operating on the premise that transactional consent indicates a condition of human servitude. You are left wondering what exactly does “affirmative consent” entail? Who knows. According to Think Progress, the implied subtext is a legal standard of sufficient mutual titillation. But that nebulous standard implies not only the criminalization of bad sex, but pretty much the banning of marital sex(familiarity breeds routine, not excitement, and romantic love is a very temporary thing indeed).

Interestingly, this issue seems to split left-libertarians. On this one I break the apparent orthodoxy, and I break it hard. Mind you, I would pooh-pooh any suggestion this a consequence of some cultural defect on my part. And I have no interest in defending the sexual practice mores of university life. Frankly, my college years were pretty tame relative to the rest of my youth(gen x’er, so I’m old now). The better part of my experiences came on the streets, the strips and the clubs that proceeded all that. In those thereabouts, there was no “rape culture.”

What this doublethink on “transactional consent” does entail is a rather somber confirmation of the de Jasay model of the State. Even though the classic libertarian method revolves around the plunder of economic rent as the organizing principle of the State, the rational pattern suggests a firm that maximizes discretionary power, not economic rents. It is this descriptive fact that suggests not to rely on your fingers and toes to countdown the expiration date of this thing, the State.

The Rule of Law

Of course, anyone with a modicum of computer science/IT skill knew the the FBI hacked the Silk Road Box at the application layer to obtain its IP layer address. And anyone with a modicum of political science knowledge would have easily been able to predict that these methods–which are in stark violation of the heuristic operability of the internet–would be gerrymandered into permissible legal status. The science of the rule of law is its rational pattern…

Markets & Distributive Justice

As a reminder, markets are an instrument of human agency, not justice. The latter is the raison d’etre of “the law.” If there is no law or if the law is corrupt(i.e, an instrument of plunder), then the only thing markets will assuredly deliver is “social control.”

If the libertarian axiom is correct, that is to say, if the insight “the State is but the organization of plunder” is indeed accurate, then it is probably an easy conclusion to figure out that intellectual endeavors like “market social justice” are a bad idea. Of course, there are many libertarians who deny the axiom. But it is a bit more difficult to deny the result. That you can only whitewash….


The same reason why property rights generally do not apply in the digital realm is the same reason why any discussion of “social justice” within the same is ludicrous. Where there is no scarcity, there is no injustice…

The FBI Pwns You

A few hours ago Wired published details of the FBI’s rebuttal to the previously filed Ross Ulbricht defense motion that proffered the State’s case necessarily rested on evidence obtained from illegal searches(read: NSA dragnetting). The gist:

In the latest filing, however, former FBI agent Christopher Tarbell counters Ulbricht’s defense by describing just how he and another FBI agent located the Silk Road server in June of last year without any sophisticated intrusion: Instead, he says, they found a misconfiguration in an element of the Silk Road login page, which revealed its internet protocol (IP) address and thus its physical location.

As they typed “miscellaneous” strings of characters into the login page’s entry fields, Tarbell writes that they noticed an IP address associated with some data returned by the site didn’t match any known Tor “nodes,” the computers that bounce information through Tor’s anonymity network to obscure its true source. And when they entered that IP address directly into a browser, the Silk Road’s CAPTCHA prompt appeared, the garbled-letter image designed to prevent spam bots from entering the site.

The actual technical claim: Arbitrary HTTP Posts to the login form action leaked the Server’s Internet Protocol Address in the Response Headers and/or data payload.

Probability of said claim: Assuming Ulbricht(and the chain of ownership that preceded him) not to be idiots of the first order, ~0. The only likely “misconfiguration” would be the typical default configuration, which is to “leak” the web server and OS type/version in the response headers.

If we assume the FBI letter to be a half-truth, which frankly is not necessarily a reasonable presumption to make(as opposed to, say, the outright lie), we can ascertain a more accurate technical translation:

We sent a malicious string in the request body of a login submission to inject an executable code payload, $ curl, which essentially allowed to us to perform a remote drive-by phone home on the target.

Now, if we assume the half-truthiness of the FBI in this matter, we can thusly deduce a methodology of counter-attack by US intel organs against network obfuscation techniques–namely directly attacking the target at the application layer. In other words, the use of buffer overflow exploits(maybe zero-day or not) on the target itself to perform drive-by phone homes, or in a more sophisticated attack, to install a wiretap implementation.

Going forward, one has to assume that the use of “cyber-hacking” as means to facilitate a court-approved wiretap will be deemed legal in much the same way breaking into your property to install the old-fashioned wiretaps was deemed legally proper. Of course, I would be remiss not to point out that the legal sanctification of State hacking by organs of the justice department provides a very convenient laundromat for laundering the legality of any data collected by the 3-hop graphical dragnet(read: NSA).

Finally, it should be noted that it’s not surprising the State would eventually seize on this vector of attack. Since 1988(the infamous morris worm), it is been well-known that the weakness of the internet was not in the layered protocol design itself but in the client-server software implementation of the protocol standards. In particular, the c and c++ languages are susceptible to memory violations in string operations against arbitrary data length, resulting in access violations that can produce malicious results if the violating data is carefully formatted to do exactly that. In a sense, it is enough a problem that it could have killed the internet from the start if not for a sort of spontaneous, heuristic security best practices regime that arose that limited the problem of rogue actors to a tolerable one.

But if the heuristic law saved the internet, it is the “rule of law” that will surely kill it(in terms of being a utopian instrument). For it is the latter which turns software vulnerabilities into a primary means of both wiretapping targets and laundering graphical dragnets, reminding us, once again, that the State is indeed its own agency and its preservation best executed by a type of competitive agency of invasion of the body snatchers.