(Note: This article was originally published as an exclusive piece for the Counter Markets monthly newsletter. Counter Markets is a “newsletter and community to help you live free, make a living without a traditional job, and grow your wealth off-grid.”)
Part of the goal of publishing Counter Markets is to know how to thrive without being dependent on the current rigged and unsustainable system. Our focus is on providing tools for living free while learning to be an entrepreneur and, when possible, live off-grid. To accomplish these goals it is highly likely that you will have to work with other individuals. It is possible for one to attempt to go about their off-grid lifestyle in solitude, but working with other free humans in the interest of mutual aid and growth will be of great benefit. You may end up working with current friends and acquaintances, or you might meet new allies in the push for independence. Either way, these relationships have the potential to help us achieve our goals at a quicker pace than we would alone.
I would like to highlight several apps and websites which are helpful for connecting to your neighbors or other members of your city or town with similar interests. I would like to note that I have not in any way been paid or compensated to promote the use of these tools. I am promoting them as a user who believes they truly have value. These tools can be leveraged to spread the counter-economic message and build real-world examples of such activity.
For those unfamiliar, counter-economics or informal economics is simply all economic exchanges that take place outside the hands (and records) of the government. This means there is no middle man taking a piece of exchanges.
We are going to look at the websites and apps Freedom Cells, Nextdoor, Cell 411, Celly, and Matrix . Finally, we will look at a few ideas on non-digital organizing and networking.
Let’s start with the Freedom Cell Network. Using the website FreedomCells.org one can locate other freedom-minded individuals within their city, state, or country with the specific goal of organizing in the real world and bypassing the need for government.
I launched the site in 2016 as an online platform for building mutual aid groups known as Freedom Cells. Freedom Cells are peer-to-peer groups made up of 8 people organizing themselves in a decentralized manner with the collective goal of asserting the sovereignty of group members through peaceful resistance and the creation of alternative institutions. Freedom Cells could be seen as a very specific type of mutual aid group, where agorism and counter-economics play a key role.
The name comes as a response to State propaganda around “Terror Cells.” We are consciously choosing to reclaim the language and build cells that spread freedom. Also, FCs act like cells in a body that are performing important tasks individually while also serving the goal of the larger organism. In our vision, every FC is playing a vital role of spreading counter-economic activity and agorist philosophy while also forming a part of the larger network that will foster exchange of ideas and products between cells.
In the beginning, individuals can work together to accomplish goals such as every group member having 3 months worth of storable food, encrypted communication, a bug-out plan, and ensuring participants have access to firearms (or some form of self-defense) and know how to use them safely and proficiently. All the while, cell members make themselves readily available to render mutual aid to their cell, in whatever form that may come.
Once you have established 7-9 people within a FC, each individual should be encouraged to then go on their own and start another FC, especially if the original members are not living in close proximity to one another. Living reasonably close to each other will allow for a quick response time in emergency situations. Once again, every member of the FCs should be encouraged to start additional cells. Eventually, the original would be connected to 7 to 9 additional cells through each individual member for a total of 70-90 people. Imagine the strength and influence these cells could exert once they are connected in the digital world via FreedomCells.org and in the physical world where possible.
The creation of the Freedom Cell Network could also serve as social network for traveling agorists looking to do business in the counter-economy with other like-minds. Through building and supporting alternatives such as local food networks, health services, mutual defense groups, and peer-to-peer economies and communication networks, FCs will be better able to disconnect and decouple themselves from state institutions they deem unworthy of their support. Once groups become large enough in numbers, it becomes quite possible for participants to opt-out en masse and secure their liberty.
Another vital tool for networking within your specific neighborhood is Nextdoor, a private social network for your neighborhood. Using the Nextdoor app (or Nextdoor.com) users connect with the local community, both digitally and in the real world.
Just like with your typical social network, users can create events, post on a bulletin board, and make new friends. However, Nextdoor has the added benefit of being focused on your specific neighborhood. This allows individuals to post important safety information, lost-and-found items, or counter-economic business opportunities, directly to those who live near them.
For example, in Houston I live in The Free Thinker House activist community space. We have successfully used Nextdoor to connect to those closest to us and spread our philosophy, as well as our products. We began by building backyard and frontyard gardens at our house and selling the crops via Nextdoor. We also sell juice and kombucha tea using fruits harvested from trees of neighbors who are letting them go to waste. Beyond the great functionality of Nextdoor, it is also vital for helping us connect with those closest to us, which seems like one of the most important tasks at the moment.
Cell 411 is another great tool that fits perfectly with the concept of Freedom Cells. At GetCell411.com users can download the app which describes itself as a “real-time, free emergency management platform.” This means it allows you to create “cells” or groups to which you can send out direct alerts in the case of a flat tire, car accident, violence from a State agent, or some other emergency. Users can also livestream directly from the app to “cop watch” or film an emergency. The app also allows for truly agorist ridesharing where a third party does not dictate the price of the trip or the currency that must be used.
If one were to use Cell 411 with an already existing Freedom Cell this would make the process of communication even easier. All you need is to have each member active on Cell 411 by creating a local cell that people can see and join. You might use Nextdoor to organize a local neighborhood watch and have all watch members using Cell 411 to communicate. Perhaps one decides to use Cell 411 during weather emergencies to communicate and respond to dangerous situations. The possibilities are endless for combining the concept of Freedom Cells with Nextdoor and Cell 411.
Celly is another great tool for activists looking to organize, and works perfectly with our goals for Freedom Cells. Celly says their mission is “to build a culture of sharing, trust, and authenticity so people can learn together.”
The Celly network is set up so that users can receive updates via text, their laptop, or by using the app directly. This allows users to join whether they have a smartphone or a computer. The app was originally designed for use in classrooms to help teachers connect with their students. However, the app has expanded beyond the classroom and has become an essential tool for organizing at the office, in the street, for emergency services, or simply as a tool for communication.
Once again, individuals create cells and can easily add people to the cells for ease of communication between cell members. By creating a cell for your community, you can easily communicate with everyone, regardless of the variety of platforms being used. Whether it’s warning of a danger, sending out a call to action, spreading knowledge, or simply chatting, this tool is a great choice.
The final digital tool I will mention is one that has only recently come into my world. Matrix is an opensource project building an open network for secure, decentralized communication. What does that mean? It means that Matrix allows for decentralized messaging and video calling across platforms with the added benefit of end-to-end encryption.
This tool would also fit nicely into the goal of Freedom Cells and could work with Cell 411 and Celly. Potentially, Matrix could replace all of them, or we might be able combine all these tools and communicate across individual platforms. The possibilities seem endless with this new and exciting tool. Check out Matrix for more details.
Sounds Great, But What If The Power Goes Out?
Of course, all the tools I just mentioned are dependent on two things: 1. The Internet working 2. The electricity being on. Obviously, these are two weak points that we might not always have the luxury of enjoying. Does this mean that we should abandon all digital tools and only organize in the real world? I would say most certainly not. We should make use of all available tools. However, we should indeed make plans and have discussions with our Freedom Cells about what to do if and when the Internet is restricted or subject to even more surveillance. We should roleplay how our cells and neighborhoods will respond if we lose access to electricity – whether it’s due to a weather emergency, malfunction, terror attack or any other calamity that may befall our communities.
Even if you opt not to use FreedomCells.org or Nextdoor.com, you should seek out neighborhood organizational meetings, town halls, homeowners association meetings, etc. Perhaps organize a neighborhood block party, potluck lunch, or barbecue where everyone gets to know each other a little better. We must consider what the future might look like if we have no connection to our neighbors and if they are completely propagandized and dependent upon the State. Whether you start with digital tools or simply knock on your neighbors’ doors, it is to our benefit to make an effort to get to know and connect with them as soon as possible.