This year at PorcFest X I took first place in the Agorist Pitch contest. In short, I want to conduct Milgram style renegade psychological experiments on obedience to authority, specifically into police brutality. The video is behind the “read more” link, but what you can’t tell from the video is that I felt like I was going to throw up the whole time.
The contest was organized by author, Tarrin Lupo. The gold first prize and silver third prize were donated by Tim Frey from Roberts & Roberts
, and the Bitcoin second prize was donated by Erik Voorhees from Coinapult
. When I heard about it I joked that if I won first place I would ask to take second place and take the Bitcoin instead of the gold, but then I found out the gold was not simply a gold ounce, it was 2006 NORFED Liberty Dollar, which is an heirloom of the liberty movement that is priceless as far as I’m concerned.
The idea for the pitch struck me the moment I heard about the contest, and I spent the next day practicing the pitch on friends like Drew Phillips and Derrick J, so when I went to the event the concept was only about 48 hours old. As I watched the other contestants I was so nervous I was shaking. My guts were all tied in knots. Will Coley brought me a bowl of beef stew, but I honestly felt like I would be sick if I ate anything of substance. Instead, I drank all the broth, thinking it would settle my stomach.
When I took the stage my heart was pounding, but once it was time to speak a sense of calm washed over me. Given my state, I’m amazed my delivery was as good as it was. I felt more like a spectator myself while it was happening. It felt more like I was a medium for the idea as it manifested itself.
That kind of peak tranquility is something I’ve experienced only a handful of times in my life, and always when I’m doing something more important than I realize at the time. In hind sight, this experience certainly fits the bill.
When I finished I couldn’t stay for the rest of the pitches. I had to walk off all the nervous energy. My heart didn’t stop pounding until I walked all the way back to my site and I could sit and compose myself. Then I was ravaged with hunger. So, I ate and went back to the pavilion to hear the winners. I was not surprised to have won. I was confident this idea would win from the first moment it came to me because it felt bigger than me. It needs to happen.
After the contest I was struck with terror, because I saw the size and importance of the project, but I had no idea how to actually do it. I felt accountable to the audience, and the judges to actually do it, even though there was no contract or agreement that I would, but I also knew I could not do this alone.
Unfortunately, I am more of a writer than a scientist, psychologist or ethicist. So, I am soliciting the aid of the experts we have in the liberty movement. If you, dear reader, are a scientist, psychologist, ethicist, or even an activist who’s interested in supporting this important work, please get in contact with me. Or if you know someone who is, pass their contact info along to me.
I want to make clear from the outset that this is an Agorist enterprise, rejecting the State’s ethical guidelines for experimentation and devising our own. Here’s a rough draft of how I see this playing out.
Step One: Assemble the team
This is not something that’s going to be completed in a weekend. Ensuring that it is both ethical and scientifically rigorous is going to require a lot of work from a committed team. I’m currently in the process of assembling a series of working groups including, scientists, ethicists, production, media, finance and perhaps an encryption/anonymizing working group depending on how criminal the plan becomes.
Step Two: Ethical Guidelines
Perhaps more important than the Experiment itself, I’d like to work with the science and ethics work groups to draft our own voluntaryist/anarchist ethical guidelines for scientific experimentation. This is unprecedented as far as I know, and I hope it can have far reaching influence on civil disobedience, demonstrations, and future experiments after this project is finished. But having these guidelines is crucial before we begin crafting the experiment.
Step Three: Design the Experiment
With ethical guidelines established, the science and production work groups can devise the experiment itself. The original pitch was to discover the degree of police brutality that average citizens would witness before intervening, but I’ll fully submit to a better idea. I’d like the entire team to brainstorm what areas of study might best advance the voluntaryist/anarchist mission, and once an experiment is devised I’d like the production and finance work groups to outline a budget.
Step Four: Funding
Because of the numismatic value I intend to keep the Liberty Dollar as a prize, but I will contribute one of my own gold Krugerrands as start-up capital. I’ve been a full time Agorist for almost a year, which means I spend a lot of time hustling for food and rent. I can’t personally afford to do a lot of work pro bono, and I’d like for those most committed to the project to be compensated. So, we’re going to be calling on the media and finance work groups to devise fundraising drives, secure sponsors, maybe even pitch it as a documentary or reality TV show to a major production company. But profitability is the key to sustainability, so if we aim to demonstrate that the free market can handle scientific research without the State, and we aim to conduct future experiments, funding is key.
Step Five: Conducting the Experiment
This is the work of the science and production work groups, and if all the prep work has been done properly by this point we should be in our stride.
Step Six: Publicity
This is the work of the science and media work groups. With all the data collected, and analyzed it’s time to reveal our findings in as public and credible a venue as we can manage. Maybe it’s a research paper. Maybe it’s a book. I’d like to follow the model for success demonstrated by Morgan Spurlock who began with the documentary “Super Size Me” and leveraged that success into the similarly themed Reality TV show “30 Days.” If the first experiment could produce a documentary that evolved into a TV show with a dozen or a hundred different experiments on obedience and authority that would be amazing.
The next step for me is to get myself to Libertopia in San Diego at the end of August to present the idea to a larger audience, and perhaps court some other experts and investors to get the project to the next phase. I’ll be selling the Krugerrand to Roberts & Roberts to fund this trip. Tim and I have been in contact and we’ll work out the details next week. I’m already scheduled in the Libertopia program.
This could be truly game changing for liberty and anarchy. If done correctly the right cluster of renegade psychological experiments, with the right publicity, could remove all doubt, and make people look the State in the face and see it for what it is. Davi Barker is a Bay Area artist whose work deconstructs media images, creating colorful kaleidoscopic images designed to show that all discord is an opportunity for the emergence of spontaneous order. Visit Facebook.com/EccentricCircle for his artwork, SilverUnderground.com and DailyAnarchist.com for his writing. Also, member of BitcoinNotBombs.Com.