Just Read: “Alongside Night” by J. Neil Schulman

Different.  Agorism is something that really has a specific meaning, and it takes some rounds to understand. A lot of ξ ideas fall neatly into it and away from gold, which of course is the classic idea [but flawed] of what makes, money, money.  For those of you who’ve never heard of this book, the blurb would be:

The American economy is in freefall. Markets are crashing. Inflation is soaring. Bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment are up, and even defense contracts are going overseas. Foreigners are buying up everything in America at firesale prices while gloating over the fall of a once great nation. Homeless people and gangs own the streets. Smugglers use the latest technology to operate bold enterprises that the government is powerless to stop, even with totalitarian spying on private communications. Anyone declared a terrorist by the administration is being sent to a secret federal prison where constitutional rights don’t exist.

And caught in the middle of it all are the brilliant 17-year-old son of a missing Nobel-prizewinning economist, his best friend from prep school whose uncle was once a guerrilla fighter, and the beautiful but mysterious 17-year-old girl he meets in a secret underground … a girl who carries a pistol with a silencer.

The setting could be next week. But this novel was written three decades ago by a 23-year-old college drop-out who crafted his particular brand of prophecy from combining the techniques of science fiction with projections based on an obscure economic theory.

Building on the prophetic novels of Orwell, Rand, and Heinlein, J. Neil Schulman created in Alongside Night the first of a new generation of libertarian novels, telling the story of the last two weeks of the world’s greatest superpower through the perceptive eyes of a young man caught up in the maelstrom of the final American revolution.

Now of course, this was published in 1979, but written six year prior to that, and before the widespread knowledge of encryption and certainly before the idea that people would even own a computer or have computers do things for them, securely. Today we have Tor networks and Silk Road agoras  selling anything you can imagine and newer, modern hypernets like CJDNS being built as fast as possible, while a government and financial system are working hard to prove they can try for a geometric expansion of the money supply without pissing everyone off [pro tip: Nope.] while concurrently the corporations of mass-culture try to create new laws to entitle themselves to perpetual copyright and invasive destruction of fair-use or communications infrastructures. These are indeed interesting times. So find Alongside Night, read it for its entertainment value, and ponder how a book written over 30 years ago could have gotten so much write (and wrong) about the future.

Predicting futures as always, a fool’s errand. Making futures, that’s a different story.

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