How to Save the World

As the internet goes, so goes the world.  For freedom of speech to exist, there must be freedom of speech on the internet, and if there is freedom of speech on the internet, there is freedom of speech, for governments will find it very hard to stop it. If freedom of information, file sharing and open source code on the internet, then there is freedom of information, if there is freedom of association on the internet, then there is freedom of association - and, the big one, the one we have least, the one under most severe threat, if there is freedom of commerce on the internet. …

We can establish these freedoms by technological and business means instead of political means. These means turned out to be more difficult than expected in the heady days of the cypherpunk movement.

To secure all these, we need the right software, software that successfully applies the cryptographic tools that have been developed.

Governments are getting worse, governments always get worse, yet what is outside the government's power is getting stronger.

It is the nature of governments to always get worse over time, resulting in them either collapsing or being bypassed by new forms of government.

The cypherpunk program was that governments would be bypassed, as organization moved to the internet, hidden behind cryptography. The cypherpunk program died, yet lives - for China's industrialization is being organized through the VPNs of firms whose servers are located in the cayman islands. These firms do transactions largely by trading each other's IOUs in private conversations, often made over Skype video, rather than through regular bank accounts.  Cypherpunks imagined that they would be living in tropical paradises running businesses nominally located in tax havens.  It has not come true for them, but an increasing proportion of the world's business does work that way.

In the cypherpunk vision, people of moderate wealth would escape the power of government - unfortunately what is happening is merely billionaires escaping the power of government. To revive and accomplish the cypherpunk vision, we need to make these capabilities and methods more widely available – available not just to the super rich but to the better off middle class – not necessarily the ordinary middle class, but rather the sort of middle class person who has a passport in more than one country and does not need to show up at the office at 9AM every morning.  From thence it will eventually trickle down to the regular middle class.

At the same time as we see a billion people industrializing in an industrialization run from islands on the internet, we also see a variety of private use of force organizations also organized over the internet popping up – thus for example the extortion operation against oil companies in Nigeria was in part run over the internet from South Africa. Somali pirates were largely eradicated by private security firms whose home nation is far from clear.

We are seeing entirely legal and government approved mercenaries, not quite legal and sort of government approved mercenaries, illegal but government tolerated militias and armed mosques, illegal distributors of recreational chemicals very successfully resisting government power, and assorted extortionists and terrorists. Yes, extortionists and terrorists are bad things, but that people are ever less inclined to rely on government provision of protection against them is a good thing.

The power of states is increasing, in the sense that taxes and regulation is increasing, that government ownership is increasing, that large firms function by special privilege granted by the government to those firms to the detriment of those less privileged - but at the same time, that which is outside the power of the state is growing stronger.  It is a pattern that recurs every few hundred years, leading to the renewal, or the collapse, of civilization.

Major concepts

This web page is intended to keep track of the various technologies needed to implement liberty on the internet. There are lots of them, and they are all fairly complex and many of them subtle and very difficult to understand, so this web page will always be severely incomplete. Right now it is almost totally incomplete, I have just got started listing stuff:


This list severely incomplete, when finished will be at least a screen's worth, probably several screens.

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