Ross Ulbricht has been sentenced to die inside a cage. We call this a “life sentence”, but it is a death sentence. His fate is quite literally to die in a cage in order to punish him for operating the online drug market known as the Silk Road. But truly, that is not his crime. His crime is defiance, or really, his crime is truth telling. The truth is, there is life beyond the law. When sentencing him, that is what the judge justified her sentence with — he lived without regard to what she wished he would believe. We are told none of us are “beyond the law”, but this is merely a catch phrase. People like Judge Katherine Forrest depend on this fable of dependence to the law, but in what remains of this article I wish to propose a different story to you.
There is no necessity to our social order. That is enough to keep me giving a shit. I wear my cynicism on my sleeve, but I know deep down there’s such a thing as living beyond this current imposed system. So often the reformists and moderates of the world treat social dynamics as if they were physics. They argue for the continuation of oppression as if they were arguing for the continuation of gravity. “It’s just the way it is.” This is a meaningless statement. They’ve proposed no laws of physical necessity. Every iota of the power they claim to be absolute grows out of guns, cages and obedience. If you’ve ever disobeyed, if you’ve ever been trapped and set free, if you’ve ever been able to defend yourself, then you know this talk of necessity is a lie we tell ourselves.
Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life not because he dealt contraband. He didn’t. He wasn’t sentenced for attempting to assassinate anyone. He didn’t. He was sentenced because of what he represented. He was willing to live “beyond the law”. He not only doubted the authoritarian choir’s reverberations of necessity, he caught a glimpse of what was beyond the reality they thought they could create for him. Every day people are following his lead. They are trampling this narrative under foot. When you act without regard to the law, when you act toward your own cause, your own dreams, your own reality you are too. You are beyond it, above it. You are worthy of a life without guns, without cages, without subservience. You’re living it now, only with a rifle to your back and a story in your head, a story that the rifle must be there, has always been there, and will always be. But it’s a lie. It’s a lie Ross showed us how to negate.
When they write down the history of our era, the judge and the bureaucrats, the jury and the prosecutor, they will fade away. They will disappear into the same narrative, a wholly boring and typical, indiscernible amalgamation of individuals all humming the same old song to themselves. They are dreaming, perhaps sometimes it’s more of a nightmare, but it’s one that they are never incapable of being awoken from. Ross woke up, he stopped believing, and the State could never forgive him. They cannot tolerate people who so effectively threaten the illusions they’ve cast.
Perhaps if Ross had just been quiet and continued to live his life with the mere knowledge that he had realized the fiction behind it all, perhaps then they would have let him be. But he was not content to remain ignorant of what his own story could be. He pursued his own projects beyond the tale of the Law. Ross showed us what life truly could be if we were willing to greet life on our own terms, with our own creativity and goals. They locked him in a cage. They poured endless hours of their own time and resources to ensure that Ross could only fantasize about what his life could be within their walls.
Oh but you foolish, nameless bureaucrats, you dreamers you, all too many have heard this new story of the Dread Pirate Roberts. So many have followed in his foot steps. As he sits behind your walls, we trade outside them. Your steel and your concrete and all the armed goons you can sucker into working for you cannot contain the truth. You would have to kill it out of all of us, and you are neither so bold nor so daring.
By placing him in your torture chamber known colloquially as the U.S Prison System you have broadcast your hatred and your fear of what he represents to the world once more. “Here remains The Dread Pirate Roberts, Defiler of the Narrative of Necessity”. He may remain there for a time, but his story cannot. The truth cannot. There are no cages that can hold the truth and I will do whatever I can to spread it. Ross was not the first nor is he the last. The people have been striking out against this bogus fiction since it was first taught to them. You called them criminals. You called their actions violent and you call your own violence necessity.
Those of you who care at all for your own existence, heed well the Tale of Dread Pirate Roberts. There is no authority but yourself and there is nothing stopping you from living your own life beyond the law but those willing to coerce you into living for them. Relinquish your belief in these narratives that structure your life in favor of a more interesting one, one to remember, to love for yourself and to be a sign to those who are just as much beyond you as you are beyond them. Beyond the law there is hope for a different kind of life. Stand with the Dread Pirate Roberts and look out beyond the shadows cast upon your cell walls. See it for yourself. It is beautiful and terrifying, triumphant and tragic, but it is your own. If they sink their hooks back into you, know that you tried. Feel their hooks penetrate your skin and drag you back into their world. Let it be the only thing you believe about their system from then on, that it is cold and tearing. See it for yourself or continue with the comfort of being told what to see. Your life is only one of many, but it is your own, no matter what you’re told. Live it for yourself or be prepared to have it lived for you. Ross has only one life as well, and the story tellers and gun wielders were so astonished by it that they tried to hide it, but they will never be able to.