Technology for liberty – distributed (mesh) communications

As society continues to deteriorate and liberty is seemingly more on the defensive right now, we need to remember that technology is virtually always neutral. A tool can be used for good or for evil, and there are few exceptions to that.

The same things that a tyrant can use (and have his or her goons use) to take away liberty, punish those who resist them, and enslave people? Can usually be used by free people to protect or regain their liberty, and defend against the tyrants. Whatever flavor they are, and whatever they call themselves and claim to be.

Wireless mesh network - Wikipedia

Consider firearms. Like swords and bows and polearms and slings before them, they were (and firearms still are!) a favorite tool of the dictators, the totalitarians, and other enemies of liberty. Of course, they recognize that history shows that the firearms (and even those other weapons) are ALSO commonly used to fight against the Man and those who are our betters and wish to rule over us.

Or the printing press, which in its modern incarnation (home and office printers and copiers) continues to spread not just government propaganda and fake news, but messages of truth and hope and liberty.

Yes, technology can help us preserve and restore our liberty, in every way that it can be used to steal it from us. And more.

This is especially the case with electronic “high-tech” devices and ideas. A couple have recently crossed my desk and are worth taking a look at.

I’ve run across the idea of distributed networks for many years. Recently, Newsbreak copied a report from Vice (not always a good source, I admit) about how “activists” are testing and fielding Do-It-Yourself “mesh” networks to allow cell phones (and other means of electronic communications) to function during “periods of civil unrest” when traditional cellular networks and internet systems are not available. Not available? Either because the systems have stopped working OR because someone (the implication in the article is “right wing fascist/evil monsters” (like government?) are doing this) has shut down the system or access to it for anyone but their favored users.

What would make cellular towers and HiFi and other systems shut down? Well, they can be destroyed (physically or by hacking) or be cut off from their central servers or just power. Or just plain shut down. It has happened, of course, in natural disasters. And perhaps even MORE commonly, the systems are just plain overloaded beyond their capacity.

Consider what happens after a hurricane or major flood – everyone is calling everyone else to either tell them they are okay or find out if they are okay. And even in normal times, in big urban areas, the “circuits are busy” message is heard all too often.

Short-wave radio hams have had such a distributed network, called Packet Radio, for many years, for emergency use and just for fun (as much of ham radio has always been). In recent years, mesh networks have been developed and deployed in various urban areas: many by so-called activists. These nodes and supernodes that let people (not just activists or terrorists or cops) bypass the commercial and institutional systems that dominate our airwaves and landlines.

Introduction to Packet Radio | Bug Out Bag Builder

It is pointed out that during a civil unrest situation, “government operatives” could disconnect established “commercial” mesh networks by raiding activists’ homes and destroying their nodes or super nodes. 

But this newstyle mesh network seems to be something that can bypass such nefarious actions. (And I think that the so-called activists and “independent” criminals are JUST as likely as “government operatives” to do such a thing: whether it is AntiFa, Black Lives Matter, Occupy, so-called anarchists or whatever next year’s flavor of anti-liberty, pro-fear goons call themselves.)

And it is true that government agencies have been using distributed, mesh, networks for years. FEMA and local emergency management, police, and fire service groups have such neat things as portable – trailer or truck-mounted – cellular “towers” that can move into an area in minutes, and backup systems for direct-link communications to support or substitute for their centrally-provided telecommunications systems. Many of which are already spin-offs of military technology.

Again, both shutting down systems AND bypassing the shut-down, or spied-upon systems, seem ready made for the government goons AND the nihilists (and their ilk) to use to take away the liberty of everyone else. It has happened before!

But these tools, like the firearm, and like the printing press, CAN be useful and achievable ways for lovers and defenders of liberty – true rebels against government and oppression – to carry out our activities.

It is definitely worth looking into – as are older technologies like ham Packet Radio. Especially as matters continue to unravel, and government joins forces with more and more groups and people who hate liberty.

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About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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