We construct our lives by making choices based off of our own moral balances.
We place our options on a scale and decide what’s important and what’s less important—that which we consider an afterthought to more pressing needs. Director Adam Bhala Lough places his film on a different scale– with Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki’s new breed of radicalism for the sake of freedom on one end, and the status-quo conceptualization of global security on the other. The New Radical is filled to the brim with intense, thought-provoking refutations to all your preconceived notions of American liberty and a transparent government.
The film is split into several chapters. In the first, we meet Cody Wilson: an ambitious Southern intellectual whose claim to fame was his innovation of the “WikiLeaks for guns”– consisting of instructions for a 3D printable gun which was also completely anonymous, undetectable, and available from the comfort of your own home. The product’s capabilities landed him a spot on Wired Magazine’s “15 Most Dangerous People In The World” and the United State government’s watch list by the time he was twenty-four. Wilson sees the internet as the most powerful medium for government resistance.
By Chapter 5, we meet Amir Taaki, a British-Iranian software developer who was once on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list. Taaki’s pursuit of financial free speech also rests in the hands of the internet, specifically, through the digital currency, Bitcoin. Bitcoin can be used to buy anything and is able to bypass central banks and government agencies. With both men seeking liberation from central government and regulation, they make a partnership and the byproduct of their relationship becomes Dark Wallet– bitcoin software that enables the undetectable purchase of products on a global scale.
Wilson compares the right to print instructions to build a 3D plastic gun to the right to print out instructions to bake chocolate chip cookies. Sure. It’s not about having guns for the sake of having guns (or cookies). It’s about our right to do what we want…
Dark Wallet allows for millions of dollars to be transferred from one place to another without a trace. Opponents of Dark Wallet fear this will force the government to ‘go dark,’ in a time when the state’s ability to track criminals could be the key to stopping the next mass shooting or terror attack. Like the distribution of instructions to 3D printed guns, the Dark Wallet gives everyone, even domestic criminals and terror groups, easy access to mass weaponry. When asked if he would stop groups like ISIS from using Dark Wallet, Taaki replied, “No. You can’t stop people [from] using technology because of your personal bias.”
The New Radical leads us to question the line between criminality and technological and social advancement. Just when you think you’ve got an answer, Wilson turns the tables on you once again using political philosophy and sophisticated syllogisms. Wilson compares the right to print instructions to build a 3D plastic gun to the right to print out instructions to bake chocolate chip cookies. Sure. It’s not about having guns for the sake of having guns (or cookies). It’s about our right to do what we want, without government officials policing our every move. Why shouldn’t you have the freedom to print out a recipe for whatever you choose? Anything can be used as a weapon in the hands of the wrong person. But if one item is significantly more likely to put humanity on the brink of self-destruction, should our right to freedom of speech be strictly circumstantial?
The New Radical is a refreshing, philosophically fueled conversation—something we need in a world of hyper-partisan politics, fake news, and PC culture. Director Adam Bhala Lough hovers over the noise controversy and argument, offering only objectivity: never sympathizing with the film’s subjects, nor aiming to discredit their ideology. He tells one side of a multi-faceted story of our political landscape but never seeks to force feed the advocacy of a stateless society. The New Radical features journalists, a former FBI agent, and Julian Assange, among others and raises unsettling, but timely questions. It is telling of the capabilities and repercussions of an increasingly digitized realm that transcends the grasps of Big Brother. Whether you think this is an issue of second amendment rights, freedom of speech, or just sticking it to ‘the man,’ The New Radical puts discussion at the center of the table, and we all need to take a seat.
‘The New Radical’ is not rated. 117 minutes. Opening in select theaters December 1st and on VOD December 5th.