I’ve finally read the book that everyone’s been recommending – Little Brother, Cory Doctorow’s tale of teenage computer hackers fighting back against a Homeland Security takeover of San Francisco in the wake of a 9/11-style terrorist bombing. (Buy it or get it free online. How can the author make money when he gives the book away for free? Doctorow explains.)
This is a great book for anyone who likes liberty, or computers, or geek culture, or San Francisco (and if you don’t like those things, hey, you’re the enemy anyway); the book is in part a love letter to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for which Doctorow once served as European Affairs Coordinator. Perhaps the best recommendation for the book is this pair of reviews on Amazon – one by some state-worshipping bozo:
I should not be surprised that a book dripping with liberal bias and spin is being marketed to children but I find that I am. … The fact that an author would write a book about undermining the United States government and in sense acting like terrorists because you’re being tracked or photographed is disturbing to say the least. One character in Little Brother refers to America as “Gulag America” and this did nothing more than to enforce that the author has no shame. To compare the U.S to a Gulag is despicable.
And one not:
[G]et copies of this book into the hands of your younger siblings, your children, your young friends, and anyone else you know who has yet to be crushed into conformity by the pressures of corporate life, family, and years of kneeling before The Man. You might just save them, and the world.
My only real quarrel with Little Brother is its ending: after spending a whole book celebrating insurrection and encouraging the reader to view all authority as damage to be routed around, Doctorow ends by urging us to, wait for it, get our nonvoting friends to vote. For a book that starts off with a bang (literally), this seems like a cop-out. And despite engaging in counter-economics and occasionally hanging out in an anarchist bookstore, the book’s protagonists never entertain any ideology more radical than “Constitutional rights are absolute.” Someone really needs to write a novel like this, only with an explicitly agorist/anarchist message – a kind of cross between Little Brother and Alongside Night.
And despite engaging in counter-economics and occasionally hanging out in an anarchist bookstore, the book’s protagonists never entertain any ideology more radical than “Constitutional rights are absolute.”
Sounds like the Agorists have succeeded in winning over the Ron Paul folk, but haven’t completely purged them of all their baggage.
Though Doctorow (and by extension his protagonists) isn’t exactly a Ron Paul type — more of an ACLU type.
Gotcha. I still think that would be an interesting theme to include in your proposed fusion story; have some moderate libertarian converts who, although having gone underground and embraced direct action, still fawn over the “Old Republic” and look toward resurrecting it.
That, and the anarchists’ tension in dealing with these allies, would make a nice allegory.
@S.O. — I think those were called “Brownies” in Alongside Night. In the book, it was hinted they were sort of “what if” the populist right turned more toward survivalism and the underground economy. I may be incorrect, but I believe that was an indirect reference to Harry Browne’s doctrine back in his anti-voting days, before he became (in the words of SEK3) “the renegade Browne” and became the LP presidential nominee.
“This is a great book for anyone who likes liberty, or computers, or geek culture, or San Francisco (and if you don’t like those things, hey, you’re the enemy anyway).”
I am so reading this book.
I guess I really need to get around to reading “Alongside Night” one of these days.
My wife made me read this book, and yeah, I felt a shorted by the ending where “good government” generally won out over “bad government.” I’m with you and would have preferred a more Market Anarchist friendly conclusion.
If you get the chance, check out my podcast interview I did with Cory about Little Brother, it’s part of the Bureaucrash Podcrash series I record. http://bureaucrash.com/node/podcrash-015-cory-doctorow-little-brother
Near the end of Alongside Night, the hope of a resurrection of the “Old Republic”, i.e. a minarchist government, gold as money, an end to interventionism foreign and domestic, is offered to the protagonist’s father by the ailing ruling class who are on the verge of collapse. It’s a lot like how near the end of Atlas Shrugged where John Galt and his allies are offered the “keys to the kingdom” so to speak, by President Thompson. Galt rightly rejects it. The father in does not (at least not like Galt does). But in both novels, all of the old things fall apart in the end, and a way is paved for a resurrection of freedom.
I didn’t know what the “Brownie” pejorative was a reference to, and I kept hoping that it would be explained somewhere along the line, but alas, it never was. I guess I could just ask “He who shall not be named” (a.k.a. Hey-Real-Cool man).
So Roderick, how much do I have to pay you to write that novel you’ve hinted about at the end of this blog post? Or really just to write a libertarian novel that’ll be worth reading for the general audience? You come up with a figure, and I think we can get a ChipIn started.
“[G]et copies of this book into the hands of your younger siblings, your children, your young friends, and anyone else you know who has yet to be crushed into conformity by the pressures of corporate life, family, and years of kneeling before The Man. You might just save them, and the world.”
“Crushed into conformity by the pressures of CORPORATE life…”??? What kind of anti-capitalist jag-off wrote THAT drivel???
Since when are corporations practitioners of free-market capitalism? Corporations end up proposing and writing most of the laws Congress passes.