Chapter 1

The Stigmergic Revolution

Several parallel developments are driving a trend toward the growing obsolescence of large, highly capitalized, hierarchical organizations, and the ability of networked individuals with comparatively cheap capital equipment to perform the functions formerly performed by such organizations. They include the drastically reduced cost of capital goods required for informational and material production, as well as drastically reduced transaction costs of coordinating efforts between individuals. [Rework organization around larger number of modular concepts]


Reduced Capital Outlays

For most of the past two hundred years, the trend has been toward increasing capital outlays for most forms of production. The cost of the basic capital equipment required for production—the mass-production factory, the large printing press, the radio or TV station—was the primary justification for the large organization. The economy was dominated by large, hierarchical organizations administering enormous masses of capital. And the astronomical cost of production machinery was also the main justification for the wage system: production machinery was so expensive that only the rich could afford it, and hire others to work it. In recent decades we’ve seen a reversal of this trend: a shift back from expensive, specialized machinery to inexpensive, general-purpose tools. Although this is true of both material and immaterial production—as attested by the recent revolution in garage-scale CNC machine tools1 —it was true first and most dramatically in the immaterial sphere. The desktop computer is the primary item of capital equipment required for entering a growing number of industries, like music, desktop publishing and software design. The desktop computer, supplemented by assorted packages
1 See Kevin Carson, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto (CreateSpace, 2010).




of increasingly cheap printing or sound editing equipment, is capable of doing what previously required a minimum investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the words of Yochai Benkler: “The declining price of computation, communication, and storage have, as a practical matter, placed the material means of information and cultural production in the hands of a significant fraction of the world’s population—on the order of a billion people around the globe.”2 (Of course since that passage was written the proliferation of cheapening smartphones has probably more than doubled the latter figure.) The growing importance of human capital, and the implosion of capital outlay costs required to enter the market, have had revolutionary implications for production in the immaterial sphere. In the old days, the immense outlay for physical assets was the primary basis for the corporate hierarchy’s power, and in particular for its control over human capital and other intangible assets. In many information and culture industries, according to Benkler, the initial outlay for entering the market in the days of “broadcast culture” was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Since the introduction of the mechanical press and the telegraph, followed by the phonograph, film, the high-powered radio transmitter, and through to the cable plant or satellite, the capital costs of fixing information and cultural goods in a transmission medium—a high-circulation newspaper, a record or movie, a radio or television program—have been high and increasing.3

The media of the broadcast era, for instance, were “typified by high-cost hubs and cheap, ubiquitous, reception-only systems at the end. This led to a limited range of organizational models for production: production in the information and entertainment industries was restricted to those who could collect sufficient funds to set up a hub.”4 In the case of print periodicals, the increasing cost of printing equipment from the mid-nineteenth century on served as the main entry barrier for organizing the hubs. Between 1835 and 1850, the typical startup cost of a newspaper increased from $500 to $100,000—or from roughly $10,000 to $2.38 million in 2005 dollars.5 In other words, as the saying went, freedom of the press was great so long as you could afford to own a press. The networked information economy, in contrast, is distinguished by “network architecture and the [low] cost of becoming a speaker.”
The first element is the shift from a hub-and-spoke architecture with unidirectional links to the end points in the mass media, to distributed architecture with multidirectional connections among all nodes in the networked information environment. The second is the practical elimination of communications costs as a barrier to speaking across associational boundaries. Together, these characteristics have fundamentally altered the capacity of individuals, acting alone or with others, to be active participants in the public sphere as opposed to its
2 Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 3. 3 Ibid., p. 51. 4 Ibid., p. 179. 5 Ibid., p. 188.

passive readers, listeners, or viewers.6


Today most people, at least in the developed world, can afford to own a press. And thanks to smart phones, the same is becoming true for a large portion of the developing world’s population. In the old days, the owners of the hubs—CBS News, the Associated Press, etc.—decided what you could hear. Today you can set up a blog, or record a podcast, and anybody in the world who cares enough to go to your URL can look at it free of charge (and anyone who agrees with it—or wants to tear it apart—can provide a hyperlink to her readers). The cultural authoritarianism that resulted from this state of affairs, as Clay Shirky points out, is unimaginable to someone who grew up with access to the Internet.
Despite half a century of hand-wringing about media concentration, my students have never known a media landscape of anything less than increasing abundance. They have never known a world with only three television channels, a world where the only choice a viewer had in the early evening was which white man was going to read them the news in English. They can understand the shift from scarcity to abundance, since the process is still going on today. A much harder thing to explain to them is this: if you were a citizen of that world, and you had something you needed to say in public, you couldn’t. Period. Media content wasn’t produced by consumers; if you had the wherewithal to say something in public, you weren’t a consumer anymore, by definition. Movie reviews came from movie reviewers. Public opinions came from opinion columnists. Reporting came from reporters. The conversational space available to mere mortals consisted of the kitchen table, the water cooler, and occasionally letter writing....7

The central change that makes these things possible, according to Benkler, is that “the basic physical capital necessary to express and communicate human meaning is the connected personal computer."
The core functionalities of processing, storage, and communications are widely owned throughout the population of users.... The high capital costs that were a prerequisite to gathering, working, and communicating information, knowledge, and culture, have now been widely distributed in the society. The entry barrier they posed no longer offers a condensation point for the large organizations that once dominated the information environment.8

The desktop revolution and the Internet mean that the minimum capital outlay for entering most of the entertainment and information industry has fallen to a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, and the marginal cost of reproduction is zero. The networked environment, combined with endless varieties of cheap software for creating and editing content, makes it possible for the amateur to produce output of a quality once associated with giant publishing houses and
6 Ibid., 7 Clay

pp. 212-13. Shirky, Cognitive Surplus (New York: Penguin Press, 2010), pp. 60-61. 8 Ibid., pp. 32-33.



recording companies.9 That is true of the software industry, desktop publishing, and to a large extent even indie film (as witnessed by affordable editing technology and the success of Sky Captain). In the case of the music industry, thanks to cheap equipment and software for high quality recording and sound editing, the costs of independently producing and distributing a high-quality album have fallen through the floor. Bassist Steve Lawson writes:
...[T]he recording process—studio time and expertise used to be hugely expensive. But the cost of recording equipment has plummeted, just as the quality of the same has soared. Sure, expertise is still chargeable, but it’s no longer a non-negotiable part of the deal. A smart band with a fast computer can now realistically make a release quality album-length body of songs for less than a grand.... What does this actually mean? Well, it means that for me—and the hundreds of thousands of others like me—the process of making and releasing music has never been easier. The task of finding an audience, of seeding the discovery process, has never cost less or been more fun. It’s now possible for me to update my audience and friends (the crossover between the two is happening on a daily basis thanks to social media tools) about what I’m doing—musically or otherwise—and to hear from them, to get involved in their lives, and for my music to be inspired by them.... So, if things are so great for the indies, does that mean loads of people are making loads of money? Not at all. But the false notion there is that any musicians were before! We haven’t moved from an age of riches in music to an age of poverty in music. We’ve moved from an age of massive debt and no creative control in music to an age of solvency and creative autonomy. It really is win/win.10

As the last statement suggests, it may well be that most of the revenue loss to the music industry has fallen, not on actual performers, but on the rentiers and middlemen in the record companies themselves. Networked distribution models have already gone a long way toward challenging and supplanting older models. For example the alternative rock group Radiohead marketed an album (Rainbows) directly over the Web, making it available for free and accepting whatever contributions downloaders saw fit to give. This would seem to be an ideal approach for independent artists, compared to the difficulty of making it through the record company gatekeepers and then settling for the royalties paid out after all the middlemen take their cut. It only requires, for all intents and purposes, a cheap website with a PayPal button. I have personal experience with a similar approach to publishing books, making them available for free online and selling hard copies through an on-demand publisher.And outside the blockbuster market, most writers and musical artists probably know more than the house marketing experts at the big content companies about their own niche markets. So they can do a better job
p. 54. Lawson, “The Future of Music is... <>.
10 Steve 9 Ibid.,

Indie!” Agit8,

September 10,




marketing their own material virally to their target audiences through blogs, email lists and social networks than they would relying on the by-the-numbers efforts of the publishers’ in-house promoters. This approach undermines the business model of the old record and publishing companies, and probably does cut into the revenues of their old stables of blockbuster artists. It’s probably becoming a lot harder for another Stephen King or Mick Jagger to make megabucks because of competition from the networked distribution model, and surely a lot harder for the old gatekeeper corporations to make the giant piles of money they used to. But if it’s harder for the big boys to make gigantic piles of money, it’s easier for a lot more little ones to make modest piles. Endless possibilities result from all the things they can now do for themselves, at virtually zero cost, that formerly only a highly capitalized record or publishing company could do for them. As an independent scholar and author, I share Steve Lawson’s view of things. From my perspective, the proper basis for comparison is the money I can make that I never could have made at all in the “good old days.” In the good old days, I’d have—and have done—painstakingly put together a manuscript of hundreds of pages, and then put it away to gather cobwebs when I couldn’t persuade the gatekeepers at a conventional publisher that it was worth marketing. Never mind whether the facsimile pdf’s of my books available at torrent sites are costing me money (I don’t think it is—I believe the free e-books are more like viral advertising). More importantly, if it weren’t for digital publishing technologies and free publishing venues on the Internet, I would probably have lived and died doing menial labor with nobody anywhere ever hearing of my ideas. Thanks to digital culture, I’m able to make my work directly available to anyone in the world who has an Internet connection. If only a tiny fraction of the people who can read it for free decide to buy it, giving me a few thousand dollars a year in royalties, I’m richer by exactly that amount than I would have been in the “good old days” when my manuscripts would have yellowed in an attic. That extra money may not be enough to support me by itself, but it’s enabled me to pay off my debts and accumulate an F.U. fund equivalent to several months’ wages. That probably puts me in a much better bargaining position vis-a-vis my employer than most people enjoy. For every small full-time musician who has a harder time scraping by, and may have to supplement her performing revenues with a day job, I suspect there are ten people like me who would have spent their entire lives as (if you’ll pardon the expression) mute inglorious Miltons, without ever making a goddamned cent from their music or writing, but who can now be heard. And for every blockbuster writer or musician who has a few million shaved off her multi-million dollar revenues as a result of online “piracy,” I suspect there are probably a hundred people like me. No doubt people like Andrew Keen think the world is going to hell in a handbasket because so many riff-raff like me made it past the gatekeepers—but as far as I’m concerned that’s another item to add to their T.S. lists. As for the old broadcast media, podcasting makes it possible to distribute



“radio” and “television” programming, at virtually no cost, to anyone with a broadband connection. As radio historian Jesse Walker notes, satellite radio’s lackadaisical economic performance doesn’t mean people prefer to stick with AM and FM radio; it means, rather, that the iPod has replaced the transistor radio as the primary portable listening medium, and that downloaded files have replaced the live broadcast as the primary form of content.11 A network of amateur contributors has peer-produced an encyclopedia, Wikipedia, which Britannica sees as a rival. There are enormous online libraries like Google Books and Project Gutenberg, as well as more specialized efforts like (which archives the collected works of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and of writers ranging from Kautsky to Luxemburg to Trotsky to C.L.R. James), the Anarchy Archives (extensive archives of most of the works of classical anarchism), and (including, among many other things, St. George Tucker’s edition of Blackstone). In effect they give any kid with a smart phone, whether in the Third World or in an American ghetto, access to the equivalent of a university library. If one is willing and able to pay an annual subscription fee, there are enormous online collections of scholarly journals like JSTOR. And rebellious scholars are in process of tearing down the paywalls and the textbook racket; scholars with JSTOR memberships are providing articles for free to their peer networks. There are also services which strip DRM from college textbook pdfs which publishers make available for rental, so that they can be used indefinitely and distributed through torrent download sites. The network revolution has drastically lowered the transaction costs of organizing education outside the conventional institutional framework. In most cases, the industrial model of education, based on transporting human raw material to a centrally located “learning factory” for processing, is obsolete. Forty years ago Ivan Illich, in Deschooling Society, proposed decentralized community learning nets that would put people in contact with the teachers they wanted to learn from, and provide an indexed repository of learning materials. The Internet has made this a reality beyond Illich’s wildest dreams. MIT’s OpenCourseware project was one early step in this direction. But most universities, even if they don’t have a full database of lectures, at least have some sort of online course catalog with bare-bones syllabi and assigned readings for many individual courses. Niall Cook, in Enterprise 2.0, describes the comparative efficiencies of software available outside the enterprise to the “enterprise software” in common use by employers. Self-managed peer networks, and individuals meeting their own needs in the outside economy, organize their efforts through social software and platforms chosen by the users themselves based on their superior usability for their purposes. And they are free to do so without corporate bureaucracies and their officially defined procedural rules acting as a ball and chain. Enterprise software, in contrast, is chosen by non-users for use by other
11 Jesse Walker, “The Satellite Radio Blues: Why is XM Sirius on the verge of bankruptcy?,” Reason, February 27, 2009 <>.



people of whose needs they know little (at best). Hence enterprise software is frequently a gold-plated turd. The IT departments I’ve encountered at all the places I’ve worked seemed to be run by people who’d read about “The Feds” in Snow Crash (or the Ministry of Information in Brazil), and decided to base a real-life human society on it, like that planet on Star Trek that stumbled across a book on 1930s gangland Chicago. And the corporate intranets looked like something designed by Rube Goldberg. Blogs and wikis, and the free, browser-based platforms offered by Google and Mozilla, are a quantum improvement on the proprietary enterprise software that management typically forces on its employees. My OpenOffice CD cost me all of ten bucks, as opposed to $200 for Microsoft Office. The kinds of productivity software and social software freely available to individuals in their private lives is far better than the enterprise software that corporate bureaucrats buy for a captive clientele of wage slaves—consumer software capabilities amount to “a fully functioning, alternative IT department.”12 Corporate IT departments, in contrast, “prefer to invest in a suite of tools ’offered by a major incumbent vendor like Microsoft or IBM’.” System specs are driven by management’s top-down requirements rather than by user needs.
...a small group of people at the top of the organization identify a problem, spend 12 months identifying and implementing a solution, and a huge amount of resources launching it, only then to find that employees don’t or won’t use it because they don’t buy in to the original problem.13

Management is inclined “to conduct a detailed requirements analysis with the gestation period of an elephant simply in order to choose a $1,000 social software application.”14 Employees often wind up using their company credit cards to purchase needed tools online rather than “wait for [the] IT department to build a business case and secure funding.”15 This is the direct opposite of agility. It’s just one particular example of the gold-plated turd phenomenon, in which stovepiped corporate design bureaucracies develop products for sale to other stovepiped corporate procurement bureaucracies, without the intervention of user feedback at any point in the process. As a result of all this, people are more productive away from work than they are at work. And management wonders why people would rather work at home using their own software tools than go through Checkpoint Charlie to use a bunch of klunky proprietary “productivity software” from the Whore of Redmond. As Tom Coates put it, all these developments in the field of immaterial production mean that “the gap between what can be accomplished at home and what can be accomplished in a work environment has narrowed dramatically over the last ten to fifteen years."16
12 Niall Cook, Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work (Burlington, Vt.: Gower, 2008), p. 91. 13 Ibid., p. 93. 14 Ibid., p. 95. 15 Ibid., p. 96. 16 Tom Coates, “(Weblogs and) The Mass Amateurisation of (Nearly) Everything...”,




Distributed Infrastructure

The larger and more hierarchical institutions become, and the more centralized the economic system, the larger the total share of production that will go to overhead, administration, waste, and the cost of doing business. The reasons are structural and geometrical. At its most basic, it’s an application of the old cube-square rule. When you double the dimensions of a solid object, you increase its surface area fourfold (two squared), but its volume eightfold (two cubed). Similarly, the number of internal relationships in an organization increases as the square of the number of individuals making it up. Leopold Kohr gave the example, in The Overdeveloped Nations, of a skyscraper. The more stories you add, the larger the share of floor space on each story is taken up by ventilation ducts, wiring and pipes, elevator shafts, stairwells, etc. Eventually you reach a point at which the increased space produced by adding stories is entirely eaten up by the increased support infrastructure. The larger the scale of production, the more it must be divorced from demand, which means that the ostensible “economies” of large batch production are offset, and then more than offset, by the increasing costs of finding new ways of making people buy stuff that was produced without regard to preexisting orders. The society becomes more and more like something out of Brazil or The Feds in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and the distribution of occupations increasingly resembles the demographic profile of the promoters and middlemen in that crashed spaceship in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who founded the human race on Earth. The only way out is a new standard of progress that doesn’t equate “growth” with larger institutional size and more centralization: scalable, distributed infrastructure, stigmergic organization, module-and-platform design configurations, and production capacity sited close to the point of consumption and scaled to demand. Paul Hawken and the Lovinses, in Natural Capitalism, stated the general principle that when load-bearing infrastructures are built to handle the load at peak demand, about 80% of the unit cost comes from the added infrastructure that comes from the 20% increased usage during the tiny fraction of time when infrastructure experiences peak load. They gave the specific example of home heating, where enormous savings could be achieved by scaling capacity to handle only average usage, with additional demand handled through spot heating. More generally, centralized infrastructures must be scaled to handle peak loads even when such loads only occur a small fraction of the time. And then they must amortize the extra cost, by breaking user behavior to the needs of the infrastructure. At the opposite pole is distributed infrastructure, in which most of the inSeptember 3, 2003 < amateurisation_of_nearly_everything>.



frastructural goods are distributed among the endpoints, relations are directly between endpoints without passing through a central hub, and volume is driven entirely by user demand at the endpoints. Since the capital goods possessed by the endpoints is a miniscule fraction of the cost of a centralized infrastructure, there is no incentive to subordinate end-users to the needs of the infrastructure. The classic example is Bucky Fuller’s own: the replacement of the untold millions of tons of metal in transoceanic cables with a few dozen one-ton satellites. The entire infrastructure consists of satellite dishes at the endpoints commuinicating — via free, immaterial ether! — to the satellites. Likewise projected systems which replace the fiber optic backbone with satellite connections and last-mile meshworks. Also the enormous infrastructure tied up in the civil aviation system’s central hubs and batch-and-queue processing, as opposed to small jets flying directly between endpoints. Another example is mass-production industry, which minimizes unit costs by running its enormously costly capital-intensive machinery at full capacity 24/7, and then requires organizing a society to guarantee consumption of the full output whether consumers want the shit or not — what’s called “supplypush distribution.” If consumers won’t take it all, you soak up surplus output by destroying it through a permanent war economy, sinking it into an Interstate Highway System, etc. — or maybe just making stuff to fall apart. The opposite of mass-production is distributed production on the EmiliaRomagna model described by Charles Sabel and Michel Piore in The Second Industrial Divide, with the capital infrastructure distributed to the point of consumption and output geared to local demand. The transnational corporate model of outsourcing is an attempt to put this new wine in old bottles. It distributes the production facilities, but does so on the basis of local labor cost rather than the location of market demand. So it still relies on the centralized wholesale infrastructure of warehouses on wheels/containerships, scaled to peak load, to transfer goods from the distributed production sites to the point of final consumption. The pure and unadulterated distributed manufacturing model, on the other hand, does away with this infrastructure by siting production at the last-mile network of consumption. As we will see in later in this chapter, the model of stigmergic organization in Wikipedia and open-source design—the central theme of this book—is an example of distributed infrastructure. Individual contributions are managed entirely by endpoint users, coordinating their efforts with the finished body of work, without the intermediary of a centralized institutional framework as in old-line activist organizations.


Network Organization

As Johan Soderburg argues, “[t]he universally applicable computer run on free software and connected to an open network... has in some respects leveled the

as a “web” of “hypertext documents” to be viewed by “browsers” using a client–server architecture. hackers are matching the coordinating and logistic capabilities of state and capital. accessible authorship of web content took longer to mature. [so that] authorship becomes universal” as well as “the automatic notification of a reader when new material of interest to him/her has become available. digitized books and periodicals. Their vision of the Internet was simply as a foundation for the Information Superhighway. 18 “World Wide Web. which created the draconian system of copyright 17 Johan Soderberg. etc.10 CHAPTER 1. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. 2011. vastly expanded in capacity by a fusion of the telephone and cable TV industries in a single high-bandwidth fiber-optic network. the Web as we know it might never have existed. The Internet envisioned by figures like Al Gore and Bill Gates was. What makes the Internet the “Internet” we know is really the World Wide Web: all the billions of web pages linked together by hyperlinks. . blogs. with the wiki concept. [Tim Berners-Lee] published a more formal proposal (on November 12. and government agencies.” While the read-only goal was met. 1990) to build a “ Hypertext project” called “WorldWideWeb”.” back in the 1970s and 1980s. and its communications as largely one-way. which eliminated barriers to telephone/cable mergers. The key actors providing this whiz-bang content would be libraries. imagined it as populated largely by institutional actors of one kind or another. 2008). music. despite the decentralized nature of the physical packet-switching process.wikipedia. conscious vision of any institution. With help from Robert Cailliau. speculating on the science fictiony wonders that would soon be possible. very centralized in terms of the actors providing content. Web 2. It’s interesting that most visions of the “Information Superhighway. cable of accessing streaming content—television programs. when I was just a junior high school kid. Through the global communication network. Everyone would have a combination digital telephonecomputer-radio-cable TV terminal as the main entertainment center in their home. It would be built on the backbone of the Internet’s packet-switching infrastructure.” Wikipedia <http://en. there were many possible Internets.. And depending on the institutional context in which hyperlinks had been introduced. The legal infrastructure for the Superhighway consisted of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. movies. 2.0 and RSS/Atom.. Hacking Capitalism: The Free and Open Source Software Movement (New York and London: Routledge.”17 Until the early 1990s. media conglomerates. I recall seeing a speculative article in TV Guide in the late ’70s.—presumably on a paid basis. THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION playing field. This proposal estimated that a read-only web would be developed within three months and that it would take six months to achieve “the creation of new links and new material by> Accessed September 27. p.18 The Web as we know it is something that could never have been built as the unified.

com/nt/vapor/bginterview.3. The potential impact is pretty phenomenal in the terms of being able to watch a TV show whenever you want to. like AOL. Prodigy and Delphi. When you turn on DirectTV and you step through every channel—well. • The innovation level in terms of the web would have been drastically limited. • Most people’s use of online services would be more about “consumption” than “communication. Search would be dismal. Note—I corrected numerous errors.” It’s already getting a little unwieldy.. You’ve got to imagine that a software agent will help you find things that you might be interested in. but 19 “The Emperior Strikes Back—Bill Gates Interview. the World Wide Web took over the Internet. and limited to only the proprietary system you were on. Mike Masnick speculates on what the World Wide Web—if it could even be called that—would have looked like. .” There would still be chat rooms and such. The only companies “innovating” on these issues would be those few large players.The “TV guide” will almost be like a search portal where you’ll customize and say. 2000 <http://www. those would have been the few willing to pay the licensing fee. Gore and Gates. walled gardens. cable. And his hypothetical description reads very close to the vision of TV Guide. you’ll be able to just say what you’re interested in. There will be so many choices out there. simply fizzled out.1. would not be present or would be in their infancy.angelfire. presumably the result of transcription or scanning error. since they were large companies or backed by large companies. Here’s what Bill Gates had to say. and have the screen help you pick out a video that you care about. Instead.” It’s going to be something that has pretty incredible graphics and it’s got an Internet connection to it. “I’m never interested in this. • No Google. It’s not going to be “Let’s look at channels 4. . Compuserve. radio. and they wouldn’t even think of the value of such things..html>.19 But the Information Superhighway—in the sense of a fusion of telephone. but I am particularly interested in that. When you walk into your living room six years from now. etc. and on-demand music and movies. there’s three minutes of your life. NETWORK ORGANIZATION 11 law needed for digital content providers to turn the Superhighway into a turnpike. Where do you think the world would be today if the World Wide Web had been patented? Here are a few guesses: • Rather than an open World Wide Web. most people would have remained on proprietary. had Tim Berners-Lee obtained a patent on the hyperlinked architecture of the Web. from the online version. accessed through a single digital home entertainment center. While those might have eventually run afoul of the patents.” Entertainment Weekly. real time info. January 7. 5. and 7. Concepts like AJAX. as late as early 2000: This new generation of set-top boxes that connects up to the Internet is very much part of that..

but through portals like AOL or Yahoo!. I doubt there’s the necessary ecosystem to go as far as the iPhone. Once it’s published.12 CHAPTER 1. if gopher tried to expand to be more web like. The Web ditches that model. but limited the arenas in which we innovated. August 11.20 The Internet would have been a wasteland of walled-garden ISPs like AOL. The old model is about control: a team works on a document. There would still be an open internet. in fact. And. While some might see this as separate from the web. you had no way to publish your page with our system and no way to link it to the appropriate page in the official manual. most important. and releases it to the public when it’s been certified as done. with Usenet and BBSs grafted on.shtml>. Would we see limited proprietary “AOL phones?” Possibly. and had better capabilities. But deep down. The Web. so that clicking on one brings up the page to which it’s referring. we would have seen a legal fight that not only delayed innovation. the software company for which he was vice president of strategic marketing at the time was in process of developing a proprietary document format with embedded links. than As the developers attempted to reassure themselves. If you were an aircraft mechanic who had discovered some better ways to clean a fuel line. a publisher could embed a link from one document to another. on the other hand. but they would be very rudimentary within the walled garden. but the publisher had to own both documents. 20 Mike Masnick.techdirt. It was happening. That’s fine if you’re putting together a set of aircraft maintenance manuals and you want to make all the cross-references active. I disagree. With our software. I don’t think we’d see quite the same interest or rise in smartphones without the web. 2011 <http://www. the only people who could add new links were those working for the publisher. What Web there was would have been accessed. but with a fragmented market and not as much value. no one can change it except the original publisher. their software was far more polished and professional-looking. As recounted by David Weinberger. is responsible for its content and format.”What If Tim Berners-Lee Had Patented The Web?” Techdirt. Once the document was published. • Open internet limited by lawsuit. not by browsers or open search engines. There might be some social networking elements. • No iPhone. However. they knew that Mosaic’s lack of “bells and whistles” was more than compensated for by its openness. THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION there wouldn’t be massive public communication developments like blogs and Twitter. when it was caught off-guard by the Mosaic browser. breaks the traditional publishing model. But those links had to be compiled into the system. It’s not necessary to speculate that something like that would surely had happened had Berners-Lee not been first to the draw. and things like gopher and Usenet would have grown and been able to do a little innovation. no more links could be added except by recompiling the document. .

and says instead.As Foundation for P2P Alternatives founder Michel Bauwens described it: All the pundits where predicting. the Web 2. in the Schumpeterian world. the Web enabled a self-organizing. But the internet is not just for creative individual souls. 23 Michel Bauwens. 52-53.0 could be fully realized. the most important software for exchanging multimedia content over the internet. In the post-schumpeterian world. and with it most of the hopes of the “visionaries” of the 1990s for enclosing the Web as a source of revenues. 2002).21 13 Although some idiots like Rupert Murdoch still attempt to gainsay it.1. Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web (Cambridge. the basic organizing principle of the Web as envisioned by Berners-Lee is that you can link to another person’s website without having to ask permission or secure her cooperation. but enables large communities to cooperate over platforms.0. then as now.. create new software.22 It was actually the collapse of Web 1. and that the era of high internet growth was over for a foreseeable time.0 in the dot-com bubble. and paradoxically..3. create collaboration platforms on the cheap. vii-ix. with zero funding. think about Bittorrent. This showed the following new tendency at work: capitalism is increasingly being divorced from entrepreneurship. In fact.23 21 David Weinberger. creative souls congregate through the internet. and further funds create the necessary factories. 22 Ibid. Mass. “Asia Needs a Social Innovation Stimulus Plan. or any kind of knowledge. And you never have to ask anyone’s permission. that created the space in which the decentralized vision of Web 2. that research is then protected through copyright and patents. As an example. it is not limited to knowledge and software. NETWORK ORGANIZATION with all its advantages as well as its drawbacks.” . Anything that needs to be physically produced.. and something apparently very strange happened. Very importantly. The reason is that internet technology fundamentally changes the relationship between innovation and capital. needs to be ‘virtually designed’ in the first place.By removing the central control points. Before the internet.” P2P Foundation . In actual fact. You want to respond to something that’s been said? Say it and link to it. and entrepreneurship becomes a networked activity taking place through open platforms of collaboration. which was created by a single programmer. but actually increased during the downturn in investment. You think something is interesting? Link to it from your home page. was born in the crucible of that downturn. “You have something to say? Say it. the reality was the very opposite. surviving through a creative use of some credit cards. In other words. and the servers risk crashing from overload. only need capital when they are successful. almost everything we know. the emergence of social and participatory media. innovation would stop. which includes manufacturing. self-stimulated growth of contents and links on a scale the world has literally never before experienced.: Perseus Publishing. pp. innovators need capital for their research. but to everything that knowledge and software enables. that without capital. innovation did not slow down.

. Email. and interdependent cooperative enterprises in the form of peer-production processes. March 23. That means that. [The Blog. This allows many diversely motivated people to act for a wide variety of reasons that. and we may need more incantations and holy water against Apple’s attempts to call up its ghost like the witch of Endor. both individual and in discussion lists. . 105-106. are much lower. (Of course no less a figure than Jaron Lanier is still weeping for Tammuz.. combined with the near-universal distribution of capital goods for information and cultural production: . still clanking the chains of Al Gore’s>. But the rise of Web 2.0 of the 1990s. organizational models.) The Web’s many-to-many communications capabilities have enabled networks to coordinate the actions of self-directed individuals without the transaction costs of traditional hierarchies. it’s stigmergic organization (about which more below)—what Weinberger calls “small pieces loosely joined. Benkler explained the implications of networked communications. THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION The ghost of Web 1.0. The forms of culture jamming described by Naomi Klein in No Logo. were an outgrowth of the possibilities of the Web 1. These architectures and organizational models allow both independent creation that coexists and coheres into usable patterns. in addition to circumstances like information and cultural production where physical capital outlays are minimal because the desktop computer is the main item of capital equipment—even when the costs of the physical capital required for production are non-trivial—the transaction costs of aggregating the required investment capital from a number of small contributors. had to be laid to rest before the World Wide Web could reach its full potential... was a powerful tool for networked organization.0. increased the possibilities exponentially. The Wealth of Networks. pp. or of putting a user community in touch with the owners of spare capacity of capital goods. themselves unprecedented and revolutionary in her day. 24 Benkler.14 CHAPTER 1. when the Internet was dominated by static institutional websites.p2pfoundation. in combination. and the free platforms it made available. But whether capital outlay requirements are large or small.the technical architectures. and cultural goods.24 In other words.” Networked crowdsourcing venues like Kickstarter have radically lowered the costs of aggregating capital even when total outlays are still beyond the means of the average individual. network technology has had a revolutionary effect on the transaction costs of traditional organization. and social dynamics of information production and exchange on the Internet have developed so that they allow us to structure the solution to problems—in particular to information production problems—in ways that are highly modular.. 2009 <http://blog.To quote Benkler again: What we are seeing now is the emergence of more effective collective action practices that are decentralized but do not rely on either the price system or a managerial structure for coordination. cohere into new useful information. That was true even back in the 1990s. knowledge.

with common interests or concerns of any kind—into affinity groups or movements for the sharing of information and taking concerted action. The cumulative effect is that a rapidly increasing share of the functions previously carried out by corporations and by the state can now be effectively carried out by what Marx and Engels. 26 Shirky. would you still be in the mood? None of these barriers to action is insurmountable. or ask a friend with a JSTOR or SSRN membership to email me a pdf as an attachment.. p. I just Google the title of the journal. going from a couple dozen people in a basement to a large and global organization in six months is inconceivable without social tools like websites for membership and e-mail for communication.26 Because of the delays and costs involved. NETWORK ORGANIZATION networked environment] provides a platform for new mechanisms for widely dispersed agents to adopt radically decentralized cooperation strategies other than by using proprietary and contractual claims to elicit prices or impose managerial commands. and most likely it’s got a website with an index of past issues.. and order some likely-sounding ones through Interlibrary Loan to see if a subscription would be worth it. p. The Wealth of Networks. but together they subject the desire to act to the death of a thousand cuts. Today. send a query letter soliciting information about the price of sample issues. What we see in the networked information economy is a dramatic increase in the importance and the centrality of information produced in this way. in The Communist Manifesto. the only way to find out more about it was to dig through the latest installment of Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory.25 15 Consider the drastically lowered costs of aggregating people—in large or small numbers. If I heard of some periodical in my area of interest that the university library didn’t carry. Clay Shirky cites the example of Voice of the Faithful. Soon. Better yet. dedicated sharing sites with indexed academic articles available free for scholars will probably be as common as mp3-sharing sites—much to the chagrin of the Copyright Nazis in the academic publishing industry. I can instantly get a pdf of any article of interest through an online indexing service like SSRN (albeit at a hefty price). how long would it take to arrive. As Matthew Yglesias put it: 25 Benkler. I can shop for a free torrent download of the same article from a file-sharing site. the gap between hearing about it and deciding to join would have presented a series of small hurdles: How would you locate the organization? How would you contact it? If you requested literature. 63. Here Comes Everybody. and by the time it got there. called the “associated producers”—without any bureaucratic intermediation. 151. . a Catholic lay organization formed to fight priestly sexual abuse: Had VOTF been founded in 1992. experiencing that “series of small hurdles” in dealing with a completely different—but analogous—situation. as a grad student in the 1980s. and wait several more weeks for my sample. wait several weeks for a response. Or I could go through one of the scholarly reference sources like Social Sciences Index to look for the kinds of articles that appeared in that journal. send in the money..3.1. I can remember.

org/2010/11/actually-existing-internet-communism/>.blogspot. 28 Mark Elliott. through agreements and compromise mediated by discussions between individuals. 30 Mark Elliott. “via the stigmergic medium.” M/C Journal. May 21.”30 The distinction between social negotiation and stigmergic coordination parallels Elliott’s distinction. the German Social Democratic Party “demand[ed] the establishment of socialistic productive associations with the support of the state and under the democratic control of the working people. before coordination must be achieved by hierarchy and top-down authority. contrasts stigmergic coordination with social negotiation. The exponential growth in the number of communications with the size of the group. without any need for a central coordinating authority. obviously. on the other hand.thinkprogress. Stigmergy. .” It turns out that finding a feasible way to do that for industrial age enterprises was fairly November 9. THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION In its 1875 Gotha Program. 2010 <http://yglesias. “Actually Existing Internet Communism.” “Additionally. in particular. elsewhere. stigmergy refers primarily to the kinds of networked organization associated with wikis.4 Stigmergy Networked organization is based on a principle known as stigmergy. “Stigmergic Collaboration: The Evolution of Group Work. whose doctoral dissertation is probably the most thorough and comprehensive treatment of stigmergy to when stigmergic col27 Matthew Yglesias. And yet their arguments that such associations would be beneficial remain compelling. permits collaboration on an unlimited scale by individuals acting independently. Social negotiation is the traditional method of organizing collaborative group efforts.28 Applied by way of analogy to human society. and “leaderless” organizations configured along the lines of networked cells.” Stigmergic Collaboration. May 2006 <http://journal.” The “discursive elaboration of shared representations (ideas)” is replaced by “the annotation of material and digital artefacts as embodiments of these representations. “Some General Off-the-Cuff Reflections on Stigmergy.29 Individuals communicate indirectly.16 CHAPTER 1. “Stigmergy” is a term coined by biologist Pierre-Paul Grasse in the 1950s to describe the process by which termites coordinate their activity. between “discursive collaboration” and “stigmergic collaboration. the Internet makes it much easier for individuals to form socialistic productive associations without a ton of explicit support of the state. Social insects like termites and ants coordinate their efforts through the independent responses of individuals to environmental triggers like chemical markers. This distinction between social negotiation and stigmergy is illustrated. group blogs. by the contrast between traditional models of co-authoring and collaboration in a wiki. imposes constraints on the feasible size of a collaborative group. Mark Elliott.27 1. Meanwhile.php>. 2006 <http://stigmergiccollaboration. 29 Ibid.” Yglesias.html>.

pdf>. as it was understood in the days when a common effort on any significant scale required a large organization to represent the collective. without any need for permission from the collective. and represents each of them in its most completely actualized form. Every individual or voluntary association of individuals is free to adopt the innovation. University of Melbourne (October 2007) . a considerable augmentation of processing capacity takes place which allows for the bridging of the spatial and temporal limitations of discursive collaboration. STIGMERGY 17 laboration is extended by computing and digital networks. The extent to which any innovation is adopted results entirely from the unanimous consent of every voluntary grouping that adopts it. while subtly shifting points of negotiation and interaction away from the social and towards the cultural. through action. is a privateers’ war in which many small units “already know what they must do”. that can be independently produced before they are assembled into a whole”33 ). Any grouping where there is disagreement over adoption may fork and replicate their project with or without the innovation. Translated by Asunción Álvarez (n. above all. and the closer it was to the individual. pp. The Power of Networks : An Illustrated Manual for People. and the administrative coordination of individual efforts through a hierarchy.” “[N]etwar. and Companies Driven to Cyberactivism.1. as they see fit. and may be adopted into any number of larger projects where it is found useful.d. Stigmergic Collaboration: A Theoretical Framework for Mass Collaboration.. 9-10 32 David de Ugarte.4.”31 David de Ugarte quotes the Rand theorists John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt. Every individual is free to formulate any innovation she sees fit. Stigmergy synthesizes the highest realizations of both individualism and collectivism. Collectives. who condemn network culture for submerging “individual authorial voice” in the “collective. and are aware that “they must communicate with each other not in order to prepare for action.. 100. and the “collective” is simply the sum total of individual actions. The smaller the unit of governance. p.” they say. without qualifying or impairing either in any way. Consent—the extent of the individual’s partcipation in the decisions that affected her—was the central value of Jeffersonian democracy. But it is the ultimate realization of collectivism. Victorian College of the Arts. Centre for Ideas. The Wealth of Networks. 33 Benkler. p. Doctoral Dissertation. and. in that it removes the transaction cost of concerted action by many individuals. Stigmergy is not “collectivist” in the traditional 62 <http://deugarte. It is the ultimate in individualism because all actions are the free actions of individuals. . In this regard it attains the radical democratic ideal of unanimous consent of the governed. which is never completely possible under any representative or majoritarian system.” couldn’t be more clueless if they tried. Each innovation is modular (meaning the project “can be broken down into smaller components. in “Swarming and the Future of Conflict. or not. but only as a consequence of action.).”32 Critics of “digital communism” like Jaron Lanier and Mark Helprin. the 31 Mark Elliott.

When others begin to use it. It could be a text editor. the person makes the program freely available to others. Group action is facilitated with greater ease and lower transaction costs than ever before. wants a utility. At this point. When all group actions reflect the unanimous will of the participants. and almost unimaginably empowered individuals and small groups against large organizations. or a small group of friends. they may find bugs. as illustrated in a hypothetical case by Benkler: Imagine that one person. though it might have much room for improvement. all communications between members or between local nodes 34 Ibid. and one of its users wants it to allow changing colors as well). This collaboration is not managed by anyone who organizes the three. THE STIGMERGIC REVOLUTION closer it approached the ideal of unanimous consent to all acts of government. who wrote the initial software. and the third person. license. The result is a collaboration between three people—the first author. the second person. but all “group actions” are the unanimous actions of the participating individuals.18 CHAPTER 1. the photo-retouching software only increases size and sharpness. whose chief virtue was the increased role of each individual in influencing the outcome of policy. which is released under an open. or someone else. and release a new version of the software with the fix or the added utility. is functional. Nevertheless. up to a point where the whole utility—if it is simple enough—or some important part of it.g. with its source code—instructions in a human-readable language that explains how the software does whatever it does when compiled into a machine-readable language. a way to approximate as closely as possible to the spirit of unanimous consent when an entire group of people had to be bound by a single decision. So majority rule was the lesser evil. This enables some of its users to identify problems without asking anyone’s permission and without engaging in any transactions. . 66-67. who fixed it. or related utilities that they want to add (e. The person who has found the bug or is interested in how to add functions to the software may or may not be the best person in the world to actually write the software fix. he reports the bug or the new need in an Internet forum of users of the software. or an operating system. But this ideal can only be fully attained when the unit of governance is the individual. the ideal of unanimous consent is finally achieved in its fullness. then thinks that they have a way of tweaking the software to fix the bug or add the new utility. pp. A good example is Raymond’s “Bazaar” model of open-source development.. photo-retouching software. just as the first person did.34 This has had revolutionary implications for the balance of power between networks and hierarchies. Stigmergy removes the need for any individual to be bound by the group will. rather than proprietary.. but is instead the outcome of them all reading the same Internet-based forum and using the same software. The person or small group starts by developing a part of this project. as permitted by stigmergic organization. In a hierarchy. Hence Jefferson’s ward republics. They then do so. That person. who identified a problem or shortcoming.

The only communications which are allowed to pass from one member or local node to another are those which meet the standards for distribution of those who control the central nodes.1. The Power of Networks.. “[s]omeone makes a proposal and everyone who wishes to join in can do so. 38. and an impoverishment for all.d. pp. on the other hand. a space where the social cost of an extra post is zero. Instead of the individual members simply selecting who controls the central nodes.” In a distributed network. 39-40. The version of local news that appears in the local newspaper under the byline of a local journalist may be far superior in relevant detail and analysis. but also acted against it. [Draft last modified March 22.4. In such a universe. decision-making power is non-rivalrous.”36 “[I]n the blogosphere. pp. Only a few nodes within a hierarchy have the power to transmit. This system is called a pluriarchy. a decrease in diversity. every node has the power to transmit. 37 De Ugarte. The range of the action in question will depend on the degree to which the proposal is accepted. A network is “plurarchical. The need to collectively decide what is published and what is not simply disappears. between one representative and another. of the advantages of networks over hierarchies. between one filter and another. and any two nodes can communicate directly with each other without passing through a central node or obtaining the approval of whoever controls that node. which generates the need for democratic decision. The marginal cost is zero...). STIGMERGY 19 must pass through a limited number of central nodes. hence the use of the phrase “one-to-many” to describe its topology. in the third section of Chapter Two. 36 Ibid. It is only the communications approved by the Party Secretariat that are heard by all local cells of a party.” de Ugarte writes elsewhere.” in de Ugarte’s terminology. p. can be read as a direct continuation of this section. it wouldn’t be able to prevent the proposal from being carried out.” Democracy is a “scarcity system” in which decision-making power is rivalrous: “the collective must face an either/or choice.37 Our discussion. rather than democratic.pdf>.35 In a distributed network. and does not impede the ability of others to do likewise. every collective or hierarchical decision on what to publish or not can only be conceived as an artificial generation of scarcity. 2012] Ugarte. but it is the wire service version—even if far inferior in quality—which appears in local newspapers all around the world. Each individual’s decision affects only herself. <http://deugarte. 35 De 18-19 . Phyles: Economic Democracy in the Network Century ( phyles. on the other hand. “Even if the majority not only disagreed with a proposal. abundant logic opens the door to pluriarchy. As opposed to scarcity logic.. any blogger’s publishing his or her information does not decrease anyone else’s publication possibilities.


" The epitome of authority-and-submission is the Army. In less extreme. but equally nosologic.Chapter 2 Networks vs. Wilson. Since all authority and government are based on force. “Thirteen Choruses for the Divine Marquis. Any cyberneticist knows that such a one-way communication channel lacks feedback and cannot behave “intelligently. Its typical patterns of behavior are immortalized in folklore as SNAFU (situation normal—all fucked-up). Hierarchies 2. As Robert Anton Wilson argued in “Thirteen Choruses for the Divine Marquis. faces the servile class. with its burden of omniscience.1 The Systematic Stupidity of Hierarchies The intrusion of power into human relationships creates irrationality and systematic stupidity. and the control-and-communication network of the Army has every defect a cyberneticist’s nightmare could conjure.[I]n a rigid hierarchy.. nobody questions orders that seem to come from above. which Wilson coauthored with Robert Shea. FUBAR (fucked-up beyond all redemption) and TARFU (things are really fucked-up). with its burden of nescience.”2 A man with a gun is told only that which people assume will not provoke him to pull the trigger. a nation. 388. or a whole civilization. “. p. a family..deepleafproductions. 21 .. the master class. A. Communication is possible only between equals. precisely as a highwayman faces his victim.html>.” from Coincidance – A Head Test (1988) <http://www. be it a corporation. 2 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. form these are the typical conditions of any authoritarian group. The Illuminatus! Trilogy (New York: Dell Publishing.1 That same theme featured prominently in The Illuminatus! Trilogy. 1975).com/wilsonlibrary/texts/raw-marquis. The master class never abstracts enough information from the 1 R.” A civilization based on authority-and-submission is a civilization without the means of self-correction. and those at the very top are so isolated from the actual work situation that they never see what is going on below. Effective communication flows only one way: from master-group to servile-group.

mutual agreement — that is. or rationality.. p. Putnam’s Sons.4 Or in the pithy phrasing of Robert Theobald: “A person with great power gets no valid information at all. R. Radical organization theorist Kenneth Boulding. . The power differential.. situational and job-related knowle edge). 8. pp. and that the larger and more authoritarian the organization. hierarchical coordination”—and acknowledges his debt to anarchist thinkers like Kropotkin and Proudhon for the insight. Wilson had previously noted the same connection between mutuality—bilateral communication between equals—and accurate information—in “Thirteen Choruses. and this perception of management by workers as “a highwayman. as he also saw.”5 In his discussion of m¯tis (i. 4 Kenneth 3 Ibid. born 100 years too soon to be understood.” hence affects the information input into the decision-maker. The essence of authority. the better the chance that its top decisionmakers will be operating in purely imaginary worlds. “Coping With Organizational Future Shock.” American Economic Review 56:1/2 (March 1966).6 M¯tis flourishes e only in an environment of two-way communication between equals. no less: Proudhon was a great communication analyst. There is a great deal of evidence that almost all organizational structures tend to produce false images in the decision-maker.” And he included his own allusion to Proudhon. or making effective use of the p. Boulding. His system of voluntary association (anarchy) is based on the simple communication principles that an authoritarian system means one-way communication. p. and a libertarian system means two-way communication.A..e. effective communication running both ways..) To say that a hierarchical organization is systematically stupid is just to say that it is incapable of knowing what it knows. was Contract — that is. where the person in contact with the situation—the person actually doing the work—is in a position of equality. James C.. 6-7. 225. Scott draws a connection between it and mutuality—“as opposed to imperative. in similar vein.22 CHAPTER 2. 5 Quoted in Hazel Henderson. was Law — that is. 6 Scott. by creating a zero-sum relationship.. fiat — that is. renders the pyramid opaque to those at its top. 498. 1978). The result can only be progressive deterioration among the rulers. “The Economics of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Economics. HIERARCHIES servile class to know what is actually going on in the world where the actual productivity of society occurs.” Creating Alternative Futures: The End of Economics (New York: G. or stupidity. P.3 This inability of those in authority to abstract sufficient information from below. distributed. ("Redundance of control” is the technical cybernetic phrase. wrote of the value of “analysis of the way in which organizational structure affects the flow of information. hence affects his image of the future and his decisions. NETWORKS VS. as he saw.” result in the hoarding of information by those below and their use of it as a source of rents. Interestingly. effective communication running one way only.. Seeing Like a State. The essence of a libertarian system.

Because the CEO and his chums in the C-Suite don’t live under the effects of their ass-brained policy. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Penguin Books. and subordinates are afraid to tell them what a clusterfuck they created. even though it was allowed to direct the efforts of those employees. The nursing staff is to wear gowns and gloves at all times in the rooms of patients with contact precautions for MRSA. 100. Jackbooted thugs from the Ministry of Information’s Information Retrieval Department (i. because it is unable to aggregate the intelligence of its members and bring it to bear effectively on the policy-making process.. So policies have a myriad of unintended consequences.7 There’s a great scene in the 1985 movie Brazil.2. To just take one example.. Clay Shirky quotes John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid: “What if HP knew what HP knows?” They had observed that the sum of the individual minds at HP had much more information than the company had access to. But no worries. . But we’re not to gown up the patient when we transport her from one part of the hospital to 7 Clay Shirky. it is less than the sum of its parts.. Brown and Duguid documented ways in which employees do better at sharing information with one another directly than when they go through official channels. over the hole in the floor.1. A hierarchy is a device for telling naked emperors how great their clothes look. [So saying. and share the same pathological institutional cultures. BILL: We don’t make mistakes.e.. To his surprise it drops neatly through the floor into the flat below. the CEO will happily inform the CEOs at other organizations of how wonderfully his new “best practice” worked out. Mr Buttle’s harmless.. In the aftermath. the transaction costs of getting information to management about the real-world consequences of its policies are prohibitive for the same reason that the transaction costs of aggregating the information required for effective policy-making in the first place were prohibitive. And because these “competing” organizations actually exist in an oligopoly market of cost-plus markup and administered pricing. they suffer no real competitive penalty for their bureaucratic irrationality. And to top it all off. That’s the way things work in real life in a hierarchical institution. he drops the manhole cover. THE SYSTEMATIC STUPIDITY OF HIERARCHIES 23 knowledge of its members. they’ve gone back to metric without telling us. which is faced with same material as the floor. 2008).] CHARLIE: Bloody typical. the Ministry of Works shows up to plug the hole: JILL: There must be some mistake . and various policies operate at cross-purposes with each other in unanticipated ways. the secret police) have just invaded an apartment by sawing a hole through the floor above and sliding down firemen’s poles—and then arrested the wrong man based on a computer error. p. consider the sanitary precautions at the hospital where I work.

and any firm can afford. p. and it blocks negative feedback so that the locus of organizational authority is subject to the functional equivalent of a psychotic break with reality.8 8 Ibid. there is no biohazard trash can outside the patient’s door because of JCAHO fire hazard restrictions on what can be stored in the hall. HIERARCHIES another—because seeing it might make outside visitors uneasy. and hold our breath on the way out. And when you make a decision. Auschwitz probably had a “written policy” against killing Jews. . result in a high rate of “failure. rather than being defined by the ostensible customers or those engaged in directly serving customer needs. wouldn’t it? That would be stupid. not because the open source ecosystem is outsucceeding commercial efforts but because it is outfailing them. “[t]he bulk of open source projects fail. which are based on two-way feedback between equals. the work on those systems can be considerably more experimental. sane human beings—that is. rely on peer production. it’s an elaborate exercise in shining it on. the ability to say “But they knew about our written policy. we’re required to wear masks in the rooms of patients on droplet isolation. When policy isn’t the result of systematic stupidity. and by extension open social systems generally.” when the inevitable shortcuts to compensate for deliberate understaffing and irrational interference result in a public relations disaster. Authority short-circuits this process: it shifts the negative consequences of decisions downward and the benefits upward. human beings who are in contact with their environments and not insulated from them by hierarchies—are always correcting our own courses of action. you have an incentive to anticipate things that could go wrong.24 CHAPTER 2. And according to the written policies. In that light. Normal. so that decision-makers operate based on a distorted cost-benefit calculus.” As Clay Shirky puts it. Because the open source ecosystem. organizational frameworks like networks.. [and] they do not create biases in favor of predictable but substandard outcomes. at considerably less cost.” Open source is a profound threat. The primary purpose is to give management plausible deniability. Why? The most important reasons are that open systems lower the cost of failure.. it would kind of violate the whole purpose of the mask to take it off when you were still inside breathing room air. the gag from Brazil about a plug from Works not fitting a hole made by Information Retrieval really isn’t even funny. The lack of feedback means that most organizations are “successful” at achieving goals that are largely artificial—goals that are defined primarily by the interests of their governing hierarchies. you continually revise it in response to subsequent experience. 245.. Problem is. and wear them outside the room and shut the door before we drop them in the red biohazard trash can outside the door—after all. On the other hand. NETWORKS VS.. So we typically strip off the mask and gown and deposit them in the trash can six paces from the door. When you constantly operate on the assumption that you’re going to internalize the effects of your own actions.

you need a set of rules in place that prevent anyone from doing anything at all. was explained by Paul Goodman: . 19.. that these methods and persons are right?9 The result is a world which is hard to distinguish from such parodies as “The Feds” in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. nor the principal of the school can 9 Goodman.. To bureaucrats. nor the janitor.e. as when neither the child.the government Peace Corps is many times as expensive as similar less official operations largely because an errant twenty-year-old well-digger might become an International Incident.. .1. nor the parent. Given that the institution does not exist as a vehicle for the goals of its members.10 When the social means are tied up in such complicated organizations. a fatal hallmark of decentralist enterprises is their variety in procedure and persons.. p. . People or Personnel. If the punch card [i. to repeat. is a good example: . individuals simply cannot be trusted with the discretion to act on their own intelligence or common sense. computer punch card—this was the mid-1960s] approves. The need to impose constraints on freedom of action.An old-fashioned type of hardware is specified for all new buildings. it becomes extraordinarily difficult and sometimes impossible to do a simple thing directly. even though the doing is common sense and would meet with universal approval. That’s the whole idea behind standardized work-rules. that is kept in production only for the New York school system. and all the rest of the Weberian model of bureaucratic rationality: because someone... so one cannot be too careful in selecting him. and given that the information and agency problems of a hierarchy prevent consequences from being fully internalized by actors. somewhere might use her initiative in ways that produce results that are detrimental to the interests of the organization. with a percentage validity. and to impede individual initiative in directly adopting the most common-sense and lowest-cost solutions to immediate problems.. THE SYSTEMATIC STUPIDITY OF HIERARCHIES 25 Hierarchical institutions. hierarchy makes their intelligence unusable. or Brazil’s Ministry of Central Services in which one cannot replace a blown fuse without a Form 27-B. how can one know. The problem of replacing a door catch in the New York public school system.. are almost uniformly successful because everyone’s scared to tell the bosses how stupid their policies are and how shitty their products are. given that there is no intrinsic connection between their personal motivation and their roles in the organization.. which suggests “Form 27-B” was hardly even a parody. And the more “objective” the better. because it is “city property. 52. job descriptions. Failure is in fact a byproduct of the process by which success is achieved: most products in the corporate economy are only considered “good enough” because customers are powerless.2. 10 Ibid. The problem. on the other hand. no one is guilty.”. Convenience of supervision overrides performance. is that no matter how intelligent the people staffing a large institution are as individuals.To remove a door catch that hampers the use of a lavatory requires a long appeal through headquarters. p.

March. Most production jobs involve a fair amount of distributed.thinkprogress.. any more than anybody’s smart enough to run Gosplan efficiently—that’s the whole point. . November 22. HIERARCHIES remove the offending door catch. has a curious and somewhat incoherent view of capitalism and why it’s a good thing. in the face of events which are either totally unpredictable or cannot be fully anticipated.” Yglesias... 88. “Information in Organizations as Signal and Symbol. But “let’s let Vikram Pandit and Jeff Immelt centrally plan the economy—after>. Good. I think it’s noteworthy that the business class. as a set. The leaders of large firms become revered figures. And the ability of the firm to grow and be profitable is evidence of its executives’ brilliance.12 For all the same Hayekian reasons that make a planned economy unsustainable.26 CHAPTER 2. Hierarchical organizations are—to borrow a wonderful phrase from Martha Feldman and James March—systematically stupid. not John Galt—possesses the qualities to make a bureaucratic hierarchy function rationally.. it should be noted. job-specific knowledge.13 No matter how insightful and resourceful they are.” and with the collection of dispersed knowledge of circumstances. Rigid hierarchies and rigid work rules only work in a predictable environment. NETWORKS VS. no matter how prudent. hierarchical organization. Feldman and James G. the key to success lies with empowerment and autonomy for those in direct contact with the situation. growing firms are run by brilliant executives. and depend on the initiative of workers to improvise. the point of markets isn’t that executives are clever and bureaucrats are dimwitted. Not progressive taxation to finance a mildly redistributive welfare state. it’s in most respects a backwards view that strongly contrasts with the economic or political science take on why markets work. Nobody’s that smart. As Matt Yglesias put it. as human beings in dealing with actual reality.11 A corporate hierarchy interferes with the judgment of what Friedrich Hayek called “people-on-the-spot. “Two Views of Capitalism.. S. This is part of the reason that CEO salaries need to keep escalating—recruiting the best is integral to success. 13 Matthew Yglesias.” Administrative Science Quarterly 26 (April 1981). Indeed. Their success stems from overall brilliance. no individual is “smart” enough to manage a large. that Feldman and March were attempting—unsuccessfully in my opinion—to defend corporations against the charge of systematic stupidity. in fairness. they’re really brilliant!” But in the real world. The thing about this is that if this were generally true—if the CEOs of the Fortune 500 were brilliant economic seers—then it would really make a lot of sense to implement socialism. Real socialism. When the environment is unpredictable. 2008 <http://yglesias. The point is that nobody is all that brilliant.. to apply skills in new ways. The basic business outlook is very focused on the key role of the executive. 12 Martha 11 Ibid. nevertheless by their very nature p. profitable. in exactly the same way a state does. Nobody—not Einstein.

People are the strongest point in a security process. Systematic stupidity results. my ears tell me to practice it more.. People can develop on-thespot solutions. of necessity.” Stumbling and Mumbling. But if a company gets some adverse feedback—falling sales. When a security system succeeds in the face of a new or coordinated or devastating attack. 15 Bruce Schneier.15 The problem with authority relations in a hierarchy is that. anything that retards the entry process—such as a lack of finance—will retard aggregate productivity growth. No matter how intelligent managers are as individuals.1. it’s usually due to the efforts of people. People are resilient. If I play a phrase or chord badly. 133. such as performance reviews. say—no-one has an incentive or desire to say “I screwed up: I‘d better improve. 2011 <http://stumblingandmumbling. given the conflict of interest created by the presence of power. But overconfidence militates against learning. into corporate knowledge. often backfire. As security analyst Bruce Schneier writes in regard to security against attack: Good security has people in charge. or incremental knowledge. People can improvise. THE SYSTEMATIC STUPIDITY OF HIERARCHIES 27 hierarchies insulate those at the top from the reality of what’s going on below.. the feedback that’s necessary for improvement gets warped by adverse incentives or ego involvement. and force them to operate in imaginary worlds where all their intelligence becomes useless. 4. “Organizational Stupidity. As Hayek said. And herein lies the cost of the banking crisis. tacit.. 2003).2. p. Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World (New York: Copernicus Books. dispersed knowledge. 3. from a situation in which a bureaucratic hierarchy must develop some metric for assessing the skills or work quality of a labor force 14 Chris Dillow. Bosses are selected for overconfidence. a bureaucratic hierarchy makes their intelligence less” And formal efforts to generate feedback. 2. . What I’m saying is what every methodological individualist knows: companies are not individuals writ large. hierarchies are terrible at using fragmentary. Because productivity growth comes from entry and exit rather than firms’ learning on the job. there’s no mechanism for translating individuals’ learning.typepad. In companies. September 23. Chris Dillow describes it this way: But why don’t firms improve with practice in the way that individuals’ musical or sporting performance improves? Here are four possible differences: 1. The differences between them can mitigate against learning by doing. People can be creative. Job turnover means that job-specific human capital gets lost. and hence economic growth.14 The only solution is to give discretion to those in direct contact with the situation. Within firms.html>. those in authority cannot afford to allow discretion to those in direct contact with the situation.

for everything entailed in the production process to be distilled. managers are forced to see “in a glass darkly” a process which is necessarily opaque to them because they are not directly engaged in it.” they are forced to rely on arbitrary metrics. Each new form is intended to remedy the heretofore imperfect self-reporting of subordinates. Weberian work rules result of necessity when performance and quality metrics are not tied to direct feedback from the work process itself. They are forced to carry out the impossible task of developing accurate metrics for evaluating the behavior of subordinates. and does not internalize the benefits of applying her intelligence. or this or that policy isn’t being followed. The need for new paperwork is predicated on the assumption that compliance must be verified because those being monitored have a fundamental conflict of interest with those making the policy. In a hierarchy. formalized or codified into a form that is legible to management. Every new layer of paperwork is added to address the perceived problem that stuff still isn’t getting done the way management wants. the paperwork itself relies on their self-reporting as the main source of information. And they are necessary—again—because those at the top of the pyramid cannot afford to allow those at the bottom the discretion to use their own common sense. They’re a metric of work for someone who is neither a creator/provider not an end user.[T]he formal order encoded in social-engineering designs inevitably leaves out elements that are essential to their actual functioning. .. A bureaucracy cannot afford to allow its subordinates such discretion. she cannot be trusted to use her intelligence for the benefit of the organization. HIERARCHIES whose actual work they know nothing about. Every time new evidence is presented that this or that task isn’t being performed to management’s satisfaction. despite the proliferation of paperwork saying everything has being done exactly according to orders. discretion cannot be entirely removed from any organizational process. because someone with the discretion to do things more efficiently will also have the discretion to do something bad. but at the same time. When management doesn’t know (in Paul Goodman’s words) “what a good job of work is. James Scott writes that it is impossible. because they are outside of it. and hence cannot be trusted. any discretion can be abused. In such a zero-sum relationship. All of the paperwork burden that management imposes on workers reflects an attempt to render legible a set of social relationships that by its nature must be opaque and closed to them.. The problem is. NETWORKS VS. and whose material interests militate against remedying management’s ignorance. by the nature of things. Most of the constantly rising burden of paperwork exists to give an illusion of transparency and control to a bureaucracy that is out of touch with the actual production process. And because the subordinate has a fundamental conflict of interest with the superior. based on the self-reporting of people with whom they have a fundamental conflict of interest. If the [East German] factory were forced to operate only within the confines of the roles and functions specified in the simpli- . despite the existing reams of paperwork. management’s response is to design yet another—and equally useless—form.28 CHAPTER 2.

. 310. but in terms of their existence and contributions (i. is always and to some considerable degree parasitic on informal processes. Formal order. without which it could not exist. not in terms of privacy. bartering.1. a characteristic of large. In each case.. Holoptism is the implied capacity and design of peer to [peer] processes that allows participants free access to all the information about the other participants. P2P projects are characterized by holoptism. not to say parasitic..17 29 And as I keep trying to hammer home. THE SYSTEMATIC STUPIDITY OF HIERARCHIES fied design. and deals that are typically illegal. I think.2. it would quickly grind to a halt. metrics and documentation of the project as a whole (i. schematic model of social organization and production animating the planning was inadequate as a set of instructions for creating a successful social order. It is. p. the nonconforming practice is an indispensable condition for formal order. Thus. Collectivized command economies virtually everywhere have limped along thanks to the often desperate improvisation of an informal economy wholly outside its schemata. in the process of production itself.. projects are open to all comers provided they have the necessary skills to contribute to a project. thin. pp. This is apparent in open publishing projects such as citizen journalism: anyone can post and anyone can verify the veracity of the articles. all socially engineered systems of formal order are in fact subsystems of a larger system on which they are ultimately dependent.. Seeing Like a State.. the simplified rules can never generate a functioning community. city. Anti-credentialism is therefore to be contrasted to traditional peer review. or economy. which the formal scheme does not recognize. While one-way communication creates opacity from above. where credentials are an essential prerequisite to participate.e.. just the reverse is true of networks and stigmergic organization: their beauty is that they render the intelligence of all their individual members more usable. the necessarily thin. to be more explicit.e.. The subsystem relies on a variety of processes—frequently informal or antecedent—which alone it cannot create or maintain. horizontal information) and access to the aims. is contingent on petty trade.. the vertical dimen16 James 17 Ibid. Stated somewhat differently. The filtering is a posteriori. These skills are verified.In each case.” A formal come mand economy. formal systems of coordination that they are accompanied by what appear to be anomalies but on closer inspection turn out to be integral to that formal order. Scott. Much of this might be called “m¯tis to the rescue. .. the less resilient and the more vulnerable it is to disturbances outside its narrow parameters. To quote Michel Bauwens: The capacity to cooperate is verified in the process of cooperation itself. Reputation systems are used for communal validation. not a priori.. 351-352. By themselves...16 . and simplified the formal order. two-way communication creates horizontal legibility. The more schematic. and communally validated. and which it alone cannot create or maintain..

toad. “First Nation in Cyberspace. 22 Ori Brafman and Rod A. in distributed networks it is impossible to “burn bridges” and restrict the information that reaches the final nodes by controlling a few transmitters. 2.”19 The unspoken assumption is that a hierarchy exists for the purposes of the warden. However. Beckstrom. with P2P projects. a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized. p. and can adjust their actions for the greatest fit. “the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it. p. The reason is so the prisoners can’t coordinate their actions independently of the warden. 20 Philip Elmer-DeWitt. “The Political Economy of Peer Production. the movement responded by becoming more decentralized and eliminating all key vulnerable nodes which could be used to shut it down.” Time. communication is not top-down and based on strictly defined reporting rules. Networks In a distributed network. “Holopticism” (accessed January but the prisoners can’t see each other. As John Gilmore famously quipped. 2006).ctheory. 18 Michel Bauwens.18 Bauwens gets the concept of holopticism from Alan Rosenblith. NETWORKS VS. integrated in the protocol of the cooperative system. and a holoptic association exists for the purposes of its members. December 1. . 2012) <http://www. and can coordinate their actions.21 As Ori Brafman and Rod Backstrom describe it.slideshare. 21. Holopticism is the exact opposite: the members of a group are horizontally legible to one another.” By contrast with the decentralised information system which arose with the invention of the telegraph.30 CHAPTER 2. while participants only have access on a ’need to know’ basis. it is impossible to prevent communication between nodes by controlling a central node. And “everyone has a sense of the emerging whole. Its immediate successor. After Napster was shut down. This can be contrasted to the panoptism which is characteristic of hierarchical projects: processes are designed to reserve ’total’ knowledge for an elite. In a prison—governed by panopticism—the warden can see all the prisoners.”22 They use the example of the file-sharing movement. “when attacked.2 Hierarchies vs. HIERARCHIES sion). 43. but feedback is>. 1993 <http://www. The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations (Portfolio.aspx?id=499>. 21 Clay Shirky. 19 Alan Rosenblith.”20 The power of distributed networks lies in the fact that in them filters disappear: eliminating or filtering a node or node cluster will not delay access to>. December 6. The people at the top of a hierarchical pyramid can’t trust the people doing the job because their interests are diametrically opposed. Here Comes Everybody. It’s safe to trust one another because their common interest in the task can be inferred from participation. 2005 <http://www. There are too many alternative nodes through which communication can be routed if any particular node or nodes are closed off.

When the industry sued Kazaa and its user. in fact.. If Mr Assange is murdered tomorrow.. which she argues has been shaped largely by the offensivedefensive arms race between the forces of state surveillance and those of circumvention. Musiani. to the constant attempts of surveillance technologies and sharing technologies to outrun each other.. proprietary social networking services like Facebook is still vulnerable to the vagaries of their privacy policy. “Privacy as Invisibility: Pervasive Surveillance and the Privatisation of Peerto-Peer Systems. 22-25. Musiani argues. Wikileaks’ enemies have strategized against it within the paradigm of a Weberian bureaucratic institution functioning inside a Westphalian nation-state. PayPal.” tripleC 9:2 (2011). And each of the successors to Kazaa. It is argued that the ways in which P2P systems have taken shape and evolved in the last decade are closely linked to the dialectic between juridico-technical measures restricting P2P-enabled file sharing activities. a story of tensions between surveillance and counter-surveillance technologies. 24 Francesca 23 Ibid.25 More recently. Amazon. nothing fundamental is really changed. open-source social networking services like Diaspora are much more promising as avenues for darknet file-sharing. Will Wilkinson mocked the sheer idiocy of people like Joe Lieberman—and all the clucking chickenhawks in the neocon blogosphere calling for Bradley Manning or Julian Assange to be waterboarded—in his blog at The Economist: Let me start by suggesting that the politicians and pundits calling for Julian Assange’s head are playing into his hands. p. allowed users to swap files without the need for a central server. etc. 25 Ibid. and eMule—was even more decentralized and presented even less in the way of vulnerable nodes than their predecessors. pp. 132-138. With or without WikiLeaks. typified by Napster.23 That’s the subject of Francesca Musiani’s article on the history of p2p filesharing architecture.. eDonkey. 127. or forever. the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to pp. The genealogy of P2P file-sharing systems is. if WikiLeaks’ servers are cut off for a few hours.S. In this sense. likewise—Kazaa lite.) have made the same principle abundantly clear. HIERARCHIES VS. beyond the reach of the American legal system.. Although such organization through conventional.24 The first generation of file-sharing services. and sociotechnical responses that have shortly followed each of them: in other words.. the genealogy of P2P file-sharing systems is also a history of resistance towards regulation of user behaviour by means of digital surveillance. were centralized. government and its allies to suppress Wikileaks through control of strategic nodes (domain name registries. one-to-many systems. NETWORKS 31 Kazaa. is file-sharing under cover of darknets. The third stage. or a few days.2. the clumsy attempts of the U. became increasingly decentralized—although their weak point remained imperfect anonymity. its founder Niklas Zennstrom sold the Dutch parent company to owners on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu... . Subsequent services.2. with membership by invitation only on a “friend-of-a-friend” basis. as we already saw in Brafman’s and Backstrom’s analysis.

Just as technology has made it easier for governments and corporations to snoop ever more invasively into the private lives of individuals. expressed his amused contempt for calls from people like Christian Whiton and Marc Thiessen to kill Assange or declare war on Wikileaks and shut it down: . December 1... Some think that “a few arrests” of folks behind Anonymous would scare off others. the personnel.32 CHAPTER 2. I would imagine that it would just embolden the temporary gathering of folks involved even more. they’re treating it like a threat from decades ago. “Missing the Point of Wikileaks.. working alone or together. it has also made it easier for individuals. as if this is a nuisance that can be made to go away with the application of sufficient government gusto. and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public.. technical know-how. and there really isn’t any way to prevent that—whether you agree with the activity or not. The only way WikiLeaks-like exposés will stop is if those with the permissions necessary to access and copy sensitive data refuse to do so.” Democracy in America (The Economist).. in similar language.economist. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night. if the US government really 26 Will Wilkinson.. Yet the debate over WikiLeaks has proceeded as if the matter might conclude with the eradication of these kinds of data dumps—as if this is a temporary glitch in the system that can be fixed.As was pointed out at the time. and a more-or-less permanent constraint on strategies of secretkeeping. But I don’t think the matter can end this way.26 Mike Masnick. WikiLeaks is simply an early manifestation of what I predict will be a more-or-less permanent feature of contemporary life. five more would likely pop up overnight. this is a statement totally clueless about the nature of Wikileaks. NETWORKS VS.. HIERARCHIES leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. In other words.What the internet allows is for groups to form and do stuff in a totally anonymous and distributed manner. and they’d be harder to track and harder to shut>. but I doubt it. It was impossible 30 years ago to just waltz out of an office building with hundreds of thousands of sensitive files. there are millions upon millions of government and corporate employees capable of downloading massive amounts of data onto tiny devices. Today. and how distributed it is. rather than an open effort to distribute leaked information. . Consider what young Bradley Manning is alleged to have accomplished with a USB key on a military network. With or without WikiLeaks. Whiton and Thiessen are reacting to Wikileaks as if it were a threat from an individual or a government. If you shut down one node. . 2010 <http://www. Going back to the beginning of the post.. But as long as some of those people retain a sense of right and wrong—even if it is only a tiny minority—these leaks and these scandals will continue. to root through and make off with the secret files of governments and corporations.. The mountain of boxes would have weighed tons.

“Our Leaky World... He might not even recognize the name Napster.” Techdirt. it goes away.28 Despite the misconceptions of Lieberman & Co. In 2010. where cutting off one arm simply leads the organization to grow another (like a starfish). I remember when the record companies were filled with men and women who thought the key to stopping online filesharing was to shut down a company called Napster. Rod Beckstrom (now head of ICANN) wrote a book called The Starfish and The Spider which more or less predicted much of this. “The Revolution Will Be Distributed:>.techdirt. I remember when a teenaged programmer named Shawn Fanning was attracting the sort of press that Julian Assange is getting today. There’s something quite powerful about the concepts behind both Wikileaks and Anonymous (again. who continues on the tradition of Wikileaks [sic]. but to think that they either can’t impact the world to IP addresses (like 178. ad hoc power. HIERARCHIES VS. 2010 <http://reason.20. seems like a pretty serious folly of folks who don’t quite understand the nature of distributed. October 26. and How Little the Old Guard Realizes What’s Going On. NETWORKS was effective in “stopping” Julian Assange. you need to examine their DNS and BGP configurations: the mapping from domain names (like wikileaks. and I would think that things like Wikileaks and especially Anonymous would fit well into the book as even better examples than almost all that are in there. how long do you think it would take for an even more distributed group to pick up the slack? It could be Anonymous itself. It wasn’t just about the US government. but about general organization philosophies around that concept. but that it was not at all well-prepared to handle a totally decentralized organization.The key to understanding how and why that might happen is to certainly get beyond thinking of them in the purely traditional “organizational” sense of a group where if you “take out” its leaders. But he knows how to download music for free. whether or not you agree with what either is doing).. and from IP addresses to the providers who host them.. is remarkable.shtml>. .21. Anonymous. James Cowie described the whack-a-mole game from the mole’s perspective: For the long answer. 28 Jesse Walker..” Reason.8).2. there is no central plug to be pulled—short of shutting down the entire or it could be some other random group of folks who believe in the importance of enabling whistleblowing. in particular. 2010 <http://www.. December 15. or that the way to stop such impacts is to simply cut down a few key people. It pointed out that the US government and military was designed to fight opposition that was centralized (like a spider). . A few years back. The resilience of Wikileaks against attempts at suppression by the corporate state. These are the protocols that make the Internet sur27 Mike Masnick.27 33 As Reason’s Jesse Walker put it. the average 14-year-old probably doesn’t know who Fanning is. a possibility we will consider below.

hosted by domain on December 3rd.80. the WikiLeaks IP address space was still routed and their servers were still alive (though intermittently unavailable due to tremendous inbound DDoS attacks) has Swedish hosting from PRQ in Sweden and 1&1 in Germany. and Switzerland (wikileaks. Today. the Cocos Islands (wikileaks. and another in Sweden. they’ll point you to one of three differently routed IP In response. you still get back the same four EveryDNS servers . and Luxembourg (wikileaks. the Swiss site seems to have been selected for heavy reinforcement through DNS diversification.80.0/19 block over the weekend. WikiLeaks added additional hosting in Amazon’s EC2 cloud (presumably to cope with the tremendous volumes of traffic being generated in the first days of the release).ch and Tonga (wikileaks. EveryDNS (their DNS provider) shut them off. spread across eleven different autonomous systems.34 CHAPTER 2.. and after a somewhat shaky start. it’s clear that WikiLeaks is exploiting them very effectively to stay have been pointed at the existing 88. If you ask for the authoritative servers for wikileaks. when EveryDNS made their call to turn off DNS for the’s content had lived happily in just a few IP address blocks. when the cables were first released at the end of November. wikileaks.. and French provider domain stopped resolving. The country-level domain for Germany ( has hosting from French OVH and Swedish root for the authoritative DNS servers for wikileaks. Respawning globally Remember. hosted by Then. adding additional hosting in different countries to continuously reduce vulnerability to takedown. in eight different countries. additional country-level domains for Austria (wikileaks. liberal policies for the content they host). if you ask the . Finland ( hosted by Bahnhof in Sweden. held by the Swiss Pirate Party) came up on Bahnhof’s 88. (There are probably some I’m missing. HIERARCHIES vivable. In recent domain in two different IP blocks: one in France.. and the set continues to mutate daily. It was not to last — Amazon evicted them on December 1st for terms of service violations. A couple days later. let’s say .. they diversified by hosting the wikileaks. Norwegian wikileaks. on December To prevent a repeat performance of the EveryDNS experience. the Netherlands (wikileaks. the European Union (wikileaks.. from Switzerland to Canada to Malaysia. NETWORKS VS. getting hosting from local provider Root And if you ask any of those 14 servers where to find contain- .. But just to make good and sure. you’ll find no fewer than 14 different authoritative nameservers. Poland (wikileaks. but they won’t answer. refusing to supply a valid IP address to queries for wikileaks. When the wikileaks. Sweden ( marches to its own drum. WikiLeaks simply diversified into alternative ccTLDs (country code top level domains) and pointed those names towards existing IP addresses.. or added new hosting.. hosted by Bahnhof and PRQ (two Swedish ISPs with .

which ensure that cryptographically signed copies of the website and its backing data are dispersed beyond all attempts to recall or suppress the information they contain. and a few major banks. the country’s academic and research network. . even if the site were entirely shut down it would be feasible to move beyond the current website-based model and simply distribute content worldwide by torrent download. HIERARCHIES VS. As long as you can still reach any one copy of WikiLeaks.29 35 The networked movement to blog and tweet Wikileaks’ dotted-line IP addresses around the Web. 30 Klint Finley. NETWORKS ing web server IP addresses with diverse geolocation. should be a source of pride to all friends of information freedom.2. innovative Egyptians are finding ways to overcome the social media sites were reportedly still available at their IP addresses. December 7.readwriteweb. and double again..renesys. in the same vein: The blackout has proved increasingly ineffective.php>. 2011 <http://pastebin. exploiting small and unnoticed openings in the digital firewall. 2010 <http://www. now immune to takedown by any single legal authority. businesses and government institutions. It reminds me of the DeCSS uprising. their DNS service.” Pastebin. the Egyptian government’s so-called shutdown of the Internet during the early 2011 uprising was circumvented by (inter alia) using dialup connections and virtual private networks. “Egypt: Tor use Skyrocketing as Users Route Around Internet Blocks. one imagines that the geographic diversity would simply double.shtml>. even their primary domain name. and sympathizers even showed up for Eric Corley’s trial in T-shirts bearing the DeCSS code. And it just keeps going. including one independent ISP. And we’re only considering the website itself.” renesys blog.. Similarly. They are relaying information by voice. January 28.. None of those is going to be as hardened as wikileaks. A handful of networks have remained connected. That’s an Internet infrastructure subject for another day. and to mirror the site by the thousands... See also “20 Ways to Circumvent the Egyptian Government’s Internet Block. 2011 <http://www. If pressure were wikileaks-moving-target. in which the “illegal” DeCSS hack for movie DRM was distributed at thousands of blogs and websites worldwide.2. Within a couple days’ time. has had the net effect of increasing WikiLeaks’ effective use of Internet diversity to stay connected. January 29.30 Andrew Mclaughlin reported. Are you getting the picture yet? Taking away WikiLeaks’ against DNS takedown or local court order — but they don’t need to be. “Wikileaks: Moving Target. you can read their mirror page. And use of the Tor anonymizer tripled. which lists over 1. And as Cowie suggests. the WikiLeaks web content has been spread across enough independent parts of the Internet’s DNS and routing space that they are.000 additional volunteer sites (including several dozen on the alternative IPv6 Internet). As with>. Moreover. not the torrented data files..” ReadWrite. and dusting off old modems 29 James Cowie. for all intents and purposes.

there was a wide range of projects aimed at increasing the Internet’s resilience in the face of state attempts at shutdown or control.36 CHAPTER 2. and sparked assorted attempts to create an open-source alternative. PayPal. 2011 < commentisfree/2011/jan/31/egypt-internet-uncensored-cutoffdisconnect>. January 31.32 In fact the measure seems so drastic. December 16. simply serve as a catalyst to create the total internet cutoff undermines the government’s own interest in restoring calm and order. “Egypt’s big disconnect. or warn others via Twitter or a blog. . rumour and fear flourish. document responsibility.. Governments are as prone to the Boiled Frog Syndrome as we are. 32 Ibid. Again. Also unknown is how many Egyptians have been harmed in noneconomic ways—as human beings. firsthand reports and real-time images. HIERARCHIES to tap foreign dial-up services.shtml>. their goods are halted on frozen transportation networks. civil debate about the future is squashed. Attacks on Wikileaks have just increased the momentum behind such movements to reduce the vulnerability of centralized intermediaries. Even before Wikileaks emerged as a major story. but their power of exit is potentially enormous. Life-saving information is inaccessible. 2010 <http://www. that governments are likely to treat them as a last resort and put them off until it’s too late—as was the case in Egypt. a worried mother who has not heard from her son or daughter can’t send an email or check Facebook for a status update. There has already been talk about setting up an open-source domain name service by one of the founders of The Pirate Bay.” Techdirt. and their bank deposits are beyond reach. and the effects so severe.techdirt. services like PayPal had come under criticism from the open source community for their lack of accountability to the user community. A central unknown at this moment is what the economic harm to the country will be. 33 Mike web hosts. NETWORKS VS. “How Wikileaks and Operation Payback Have Exposed Infrastructure That Should Be Decentralized But Isn’t. the Net is now in the process of treating censorship as damage and routing around it. And in the absence of trustworthy news. Projects to harden the Net against shutdown. Even before the Egyptian government shut down the Internet during the “Twitter Revolution” in early 2011. etc. Egyptians are losing transactions and deals. The Egyptian government’s 31 Andrew McLaughlin. their stocks and commodities cannot be traded. another lesson of the shutdown is just how catastrophic the economic consequences are. A witness to violence or abuse can’t seek help. As things stand. Without internet and voice networks.31 What’s more.” The Guardian. In all those ways. Attempts to suppress efforts like Wikileaks by interdicting their access to centralized intermediaries like domain name services. decentralized versions of those intermediaries which are less vulnerable to interdiction.33 The users’ power of voice over PayPal is virtually nil.

de/international/world/0. are taking steps to ensure their online activities are not being logged. that the resistance movement was quite creative in circumventing the so-called Net “shutdown” while it was actually going on. 2011 <http://www.S. a group of European online freedom activists.computerworld. It has set up a dial-up phone number in Sweden and is compiling a list of other numbers Egyptians can call. To these.2. One of the dial-up numbers is run by a small ISP called the French Data Network.html>. but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world.34 Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP. The international dial-up numbers only work for people with access to a telephone modem and an international calling service. October 14. Telecomix activists first organized what are known as “modem pools” in countries with particularly large numbers of sympathizers. NETWORKS 37 shutdown. It’s worth bearing in mind.00. To do so. combined with talk in the U. the one functioning ISP. 2011 <http://www. speaking in an online chat.” said Benjamin Bayart. So although mobile networks have been suspended in some areas. of course. which is designed to let people surf the Web anonymously. The few Egyptians able to access the Internet through Noor. . Telecomix. 35 Nancy Gohring and Robert McMillan. FDN’s president. January 28. True to the Telecomix motto “We Rebuild. They then used search engines to track down the cached fax numbers of Egyptian libraries.1518. including Sweden. “Without Internet. hotels and IT>. Shortly before Internet access was cut off. which said it was the first time it had set up such a service. they faxed telephone numbers that Egyptians could use to circumvent their Internet service providers (ISPs) and still go online.” Computerworld. Egyptians find new ways to get online. allowing them to more easily communicate with the outside world and spread information from the inside. however. people have posted instructions about how others can use their mobile phones as dial-up modems. offered technical support to Egyptian protestors: [Stephan] Urbach says the situation was relatively easy when they were dealing with Egypt.2. France. It is distributing information about its activities on a Wiki page.791370. which remain 34 Ole Reissmann and Marcel Rosenbach. One popular method is to use the local phone lines. of an “Internet kill switch. Its modem has been providing a connection “every few minutes. the Netherlands and Germany.” Spiegel Online. “A Geek Role in the Arab Spring: European Group Helps Tackle Regime Censorship.” Egyptian activists were simply rerouted so that they could go online again. HIERARCHIES” added a sense of urgency to these projects. the Tor Project said it saw a big spike in Egyptian visitors looking to download its Web browsing software.35 And now many Egyptians are finding ways around the cuts and getting back on the Internet. We Rebuild is looking to expand those dial-up options.

I « pushed the button » on the 5th of September at 1:53am CEST. This is easy enough for the most computer-illiterate among us to do using basic settings and a built-in ’Help’ function. managed by 2 load balancers. a link to the Telecomix chat and more. * Try to help in letting data such as videos or personal testimonies get out of the country while preserving leakers’>. One way that many are getting around this is by linking through a mobile phone network by establishing a connection between a cell with built-in bluetooth compatibility and a laptop with similar functionality or a computer with a bluetooth dongle. Thousands of requests were scrolling on the screen. avoiding spreading personal information on Internet.many are hosted here in the United States. Then came the anxious monitoring of our respective servers. champaign!37 36 Nicholas Jackson. “Despite Severed>. HIERARCHIES intact.. on the technical content or on how the message would be welcomed on the Syrian side. At this point. 2011 <http://www. to be a popular site. all using different domain names.” The Atlantic....theatlantic. a Tor bundle. . 37 KheOps. It was working. September 11.38 CHAPTER 2. the 60MB Telecomix Safety Pack website was ready. Telecomix put together the package on a number of mirrored websites and then circulated links to them by email spam: It took about one month to design. for whatever reason. “When the Internet does not let citizens down.we were totally blind and thus wanted to reach people for two reasons: * Promote the use of security tools such as Tor. but hopefully robust enough to both reply to all requests and circumvent a potential blocking against some domain names.36 Telecomix has also provided a package for bypassing state Internet surveillance and censorship in Syria: . The trick is to bypass local Egyptian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) by connecting to remote ones hosted in outside countries -. secure instant messaging software. erase. correct and finally package the software. deep emotional involvment and decentralized technological power. Egyptians Get Back Online. The crossing point between high technical skills. It also emphasized basic guidelines such as avoid revealing personal information over the Internet. several megabytes per second were passing through the main mirrors. but Egyptians have a second hurdle as most homes in the country are unable to call internationally.. One of our Syrian contacts put his heart and guts to provide us a perfectly polished Arabic translation. Many people gave their advice either on the design. Los Angeles seems. 2011 <http://reflets. Webservers specially installed and configured for this aggressive broadcast. etc. Fucking hell yeah. All servers kept responding bravely to all these requests during the operation time. It contained security Firefox plugins. rewrite. 19 mirrors. Cheers. using HTTPS. Not that huge. discuss. NETWORKS VS. January 29.” Reflets. write.

while clearly explaining the issues involved: history of Internet control. the Chokepoint> Accessed December 13. 38 “Internet Work-Around for Egypt and Others. These actions force us to look at who owns The Internet? This is where the Choke Point Project comes in mapping the nodes of control in service of the multitude of global citizens under who authoritarian regimes can act upon without their consent. the order was given to “turn off” the Internet. Murmurs were heard of US security agencies and American politicians asking for access to a similar kill switch. 2011 <http://www. understand the issues behind who owns what and has the power to turn off connections or control aspects of internet control like domain names. in January 2011. sending shock-waves around the world. reasons for and against kill switches. when Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) asked wireless providers to cut off service at four San Francisco stations to stop the use of cell phones to coordinate a protest against a shooting by a BART police officer. August 12. software developers and data visualization experts aim to gather data from across the web and show the control points.aclu. . 40 <http://chokepointproject.2. choke points. 2011. current legal situation. 2) Ship in (this should be a global program) solar-powered Internet nodes. we get this: The situation in Egypt inspired much discussion about work-around for situations when the government (or Internet Service Providers) wants to shut down the Internet. We are in favor of exploring approaches to the decentralization of access in favor of guaranteeing connectivity as a counter-weight to the control of the Internet by nation states and corporate influence.39 One open Net project.”40 During the recent uprising in Egypt. 1) Toll-free international dial-up lines as well as free local access numbers to international dial-up. HIERARCHIES>. 39 “Cell Phone Censorship in San Francisco?” Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties>.” P2P Foundation <http://p2pfoundation. NETWORKS 39 Putting together the methods of circumvention actually used with what’s technically feasible with existing resources.2. possible strategies for decentralization. states its mission as “To identify chokepoints. creating a mesh network 3) Drop in Wi-Max hubs with satellite connections (no cost to endusers) 4) Put SMS gateways on all hubs 5) Free cell phones with SMS capability to any who need one (or an unregistered unlocked one) 6) Support the Google-Twitter voice into twitter initiative 7) Explore and test microwave and vsat options38 The urgency was intensified in August 2011. Here are some of the suggestions made in relation to Egypt. A team comprised of web researchers.

net/the-project/>.. February 17. 2011 <http://www. Once or twice a night.. 42 <http://p2pfoundation. the server would call some other servers in the network and see if any email had arrived for anyone with an account on his machine. given its dependence on web-servers and routers. in which “there is actually a physical ’many to many’ distribution of hardware itself. can you imagine how much better we could do?45 The existing Internet architecture still has a considerable hub-and-spoke physical architecture. long before the Internet even existed. 25 years of networking later.41 The object of this research is to develop an Internet architecture that is not vulnerable to shutdown. convened by Douglas Rushkoff ) and members of the P2P Foundation community. “The Next Net.40 CHAPTER 2. 2011 in New York. lessons learned. Meshworks overcome this limitation: Meshies believe that mesh networks will overthrow traditional networking and communications and create entirely new kinds of distributed software. One kid (I assume they were all kids like me. but I’m sure there were real adults doing this. Meshes do not need designated routers: instead. and battles fought. nodes serve as routers for each other.” Reality Sandwich.” Choke Point Project <http://chokepointproject.” .” This just meant his parents let him have his own phone line for the Michel_Bauwens_and_Sam_Rose_on_the_Choke_Point_Project>. many of us who wanted to network with our computers used something called FidoNet. decentralized Internet architecture involve meshworks of various kinds. Thus. The rest of us would call in from our computers (one at a time.43 Most visions of such a distributed.. NETWORKS VS.”42 The term was coined by David Rushkoff. Now FidoNet employed a genuinely distributed architecture.” P2P Foundation Wiki <http://p2pfoundation. 45 Rushkoff. 43 David Rushkoff.”44 As Rushkoff describes the advantages: Back in 1984. data packets are forwarded from node to node in a process that network technologists term “hopping. It was a super simple way of having a network—albeit an asynchronous one. or MANETs) are localarea networks whose nodes communicate directly with each other through wireless connections. HIERARCHIES We are confident to succeed with this project. “The Next Net.realitysandwich. 44 “Michel Bauwens and Sam Rose on the Choke Point Project. Super simple. too) would let his computer be used as a “server." 41 “The Project. It is the lack of a hub-and-spoke structure that distinguishes a mesh network. of course) upload the stuff we wanted to share and download any email that had arrived for us. mesh networks (sometimes called mobile ad hoc>. The umbrella term for projects to develop such an architecture is “NextNet. through the interconnected network of designers and hackers available through the communities of ContactCon (a major conference focused on an independent Internet which will be held October 20th. For the purposes of this>.

2. there’s no way to shut down local meshworks. Bring in a new mesh device and it automatically links to any other mesh devices within radio range. every device is also a router.2.48 Nevertheless an urban>. They are anonymous: nodes can come and go as they will. the more bandwidth across the network. local email. there’s one router and a relatively small number of devices using it as a gateway to the internet. “The Grid. NETWORKS Before dismissing mesh networks as being of interest only to specialists. another will take its place. the Freenet includes only material from the World Wide Web which has actually been imported into it and stored on member hard drives. For example the Las Indias cooperative. . 48 <http://freenetproject. the local meshwork can support community darknets based entirely on their members’ computers and mobile devices.technologyreview. Another meshwork/nextnet project. The>. They are pervasive: a mobile node rarely encounters dead spots. WiFi-enabled 46 Jason Pontin. even if the central fiber-optic network is shut down and there are area limits to the propagation of the network. Commotion Wireless. telecommunication and teleconferencing links. HIERARCHIES VS. Short of blanketing an entire country with an electromagnetic pulse. sites (“freesites”) and social networks visible only to members of the Freenet. It can be used as the darknet or Virtual Private Network platform for any local organization or distributed network. uses Freenet for its internal functions. “From the Editor: Mesh Networking Matters. since individual nodes’ routing functions are encrypted. can host member web pages. The Freenet project is one form of architecture for an encrypted local dark meshwork. consider their advantages over existing hub-and-spoke networks. In a mesh network. “aims to build a new type of tool for democratic organizing”: an open source “device-as-infrastructure” distributed communications platform that integrates users’ existing cell phones. It could also provide similar services for a distributed network like a phyle (about which more in a later chapter).com. assorted collaborative platforms. The downside is that it is not a proxy for the Web.” Technology Review. It is an example of what internet architect David Reed calls “cooperative gain” – the more devices. 2009 <>. as a platform. September 2005 <http://www. May 8.46 In a typical Wi-Fi network. Mesh networks are self-healing: if any node fails.” Wired. etc. sharing of music and other content files (including CAD/CAM files for micromanufacturers). It is completely anonymous. Our Cars and the Net: One Idea to Link Them All. 47 David Weingerger. with which phyle theorist David de Ugarte is affiliated. even if completely disconnected from the Web. because other nodes route around objects that hinder communication. a community encrypted currency on the model of Greco’s credit-clearing networks.wired. including: hosting resident websites and community bulleting boards.47 41 Another benefit of meshworks is that. could provide a robust range of services for a local counter-economy. rating and reputational systems for local commerce.

2011 <http://www. and organizers here propose to build a new type of tool for democratic organizing: an open source “device-as-infrastructure” distributed communications platform that integrates users’ existing cell phones. they still require the use of a wireline or wireless network that is prone to monitoring or can be completely shut down by central authorities. WiFi-enabled computers. Moreover. Egypt. and Libya have illustrated (and Myanmar demonstrated several years prior).42 CHAPTER 2. Specifically. device-as-infrastructure networks enhance communications security among activists by eliminating points for centralized monitoring. democratic activists around the globe need a secure and reliable platform to ensure their communications cannot be controlled or cut off by authoritarian regimes. Leveraging a distributed. By utilizing cell phones and best-of-breed open source projects from around the globe. To date.shareable. NETWORKS VS. technavists. Second. mesh wireless infrastructure provides two key enhancements to existing circumvention technologies and supports human rights advocates and civil society organizations working around the globe. First. OTI’s implementation strategy integrates already existing hardware (and extensions to currently available open source initiatives) to dramatically increase the security and robustness of>. and other WiFi-capable personal devices to create a metro-scale peer-to-peer (mesh) communications “10 Projects to Liberate the Web. and by aggregating and securing individual communications streams. technologies meant to circumvent blocked communications have focused predominantly on developing services that run over preexisting communication infrastructures. Although these applications are important. With support from New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative (OTI). HIERARCHIES computers. developers here have pioneered the development of “device-as-infrastructure” broadband networks. Chambana.49 The Commotion Wireless website itself describes the general outlines of the project in much greater detail: As recent events in Tunisia. and Acorn Active Media the developers. a distributed infrastructure eliminates the ability of governments to completely disrupt communications by shutting down the commercial or state-owned communications infrastructure. .” Shareable: Science & Tech. many of these technologies do not interface well with each other. October 4. this project proposes the following five-point solution: • Create a robust and reliable participatory communications medium that is 49 Venessa Miemis. What it means: Democratic activists around the globe will gain access to a secure and reliable platform to ensure their communications cannot be controlled or cut off by authoritarian regimes. For over a decade. by enabling direct peer-to-peer communication. and other WiFi-capable personal devices to create a metroscale peer-to-peer (mesh) communications network. limiting the ability of activists and the general public to adopt sophisticated circumvention technologies.

February 25. off-the-shelf devices (e. • An organizing tool for democratic activists in hostile regimes. cell phones. and. What is FreedomBox? • Email and telecommunications that protects privacy and resists eavesdropping • A publishing platform that resists oppression and censorship. • An emergency communication network in times of crisis. plus expert support teams on the ground—to enable activists to broadcast live video feeds even during internet and phone blackouts and ensure the oxygen of international attention fuels their courageous movements for change. in the event local wireless networks are shut down. • Design ad hoc device-as-infrastructure technologies that can survive major outages (e. HIERARCHIES VS. 51 Stephanie Brancaforte. consumer WiFi routers) and maximize use of open source software. pre-existing. NETWORKS 43 not reliant upon centralized infrastructure for local-to-local (peer-to-peer) and local-to-Internet communications.000 donors. and we’ve got 15 blackout-breaking satellite internet kits—some already in Libya and more headed to other countries now!”51 The FreedomBox is a small plug-in server with a built-in Tor router. modular. she reported “over 17. electricity. 2011.2. or other hostile environments where conventional telecommunications networks are easily crippled. natural disasters.chambana. • Secure participants’ communication to protect data integrity and anonymity through strong end-to-end encryption and data aggregation. and portable radio transmitters.50 More closely related to the specific problems presented by police in Cairo and San>. • Develop an open. Internet connectivity) and are resilient during emergencies. and highly extensible communications platform that is easily upgraded and adapted to the particular needs and goals of different local users.2. 50 <https://tech. 2011. which can plug into an electrical outlet in your home and provide wireless service—as well as providing point-to-point meshwork connection to others with FreedomBoxes. “Blackout-proof the protests—it’s happening!” Ahvaaz email newsletter. .g. As of February 25.g. tiny video cameras. • Implement communications technologies that integrate low-cost. Stephanie Brancaforte of Avaaz announced a project to “’blackoutproof’ the protests” —with secure satellite modems and phones. laptops.

the box will use mesh routing to talk to other boxes like it. HIERARCHIES FreedomBox will put in people’s own hands and under their own control encrypted voice and text communication. • FreedomBoxes are useful on a daily personal level too. we protect our data from government prying. Data stays in your home and can’t be mined by governments.44 CHAPTER 2. • The US government famously sought information about internal WikiLeaks communications from Twitter and other social websites. • Egyptian Democracy activists had trouble talking to demonstrators in the streets because the Mubarak regime shutdown parts of the internet as well as many cellular networks. NETWORKS VS. virtual private networks. FreedomBoxes help you encrypt your email. The hard parts is integrating that technology. thugs or even gossipy neighbors. thus protecting your privacy. Other practical examples where FreedomBox is useful: • FreedomBoxes are encrypted web proxies. even anonymous communication! Why FreedomBox? FreedomBox integrates privacy protection on a cheap plug server so everybody can have privacy. Data stays in your home and can’t be mined by governments. The harder part is to decentralize it so users have no need to rely on and trust centralized infrastructure. With the FreedomBox. They also know who your friends are and can back up your data in . That same proxy technology can scrub web sites of ads and tracking technology as you use them. Chinese users could surf the entire net free from government censorship. billionaires. anybody. If any of them can get a packet across the border. distributing it. That’s what FreedomBox is: we integrate privacy protection on a cheap plug server so everybody can have privacy. Boxes in uncensored countries can bounce signals for users stuck behind censorship walls---each one is a tiny crack in the Great Firewall. regardless of technical skill. and (micro)blogging. There are tiny. media sharing. With FreedomBoxes in their homes. Much of the software already exists: onion routing. etc. thugs or even gossipy neighbors. • Many whistleblowers and dissidents need to anonymously talk to media and the public. we can use VOIP to encrypt telephone calls and can create anonymous web servers over TOR to publish documents. social networking. they all can. By moving our communication from centralized monoliths to decentralized servers in our homes. If our internet plug is pulled. low-watt computers known as “plug servers” to run this software. Anonymous instant messaging or microblogging are also possible. can easily enjoy secure. anonymous publishing. private. encryption. billionaires. and making it easy to use without expertise.

55 In May 2011 the Mozilla Foundation fell afoul of Homeland Security by refusing to remove a new extension from its Firefox browser—MAFIAAfire—which circumvents censorship of the Web by federal law enforcement and the Copyright>. MAFIAAfire “negates ICE’s domain seizures.” Betabeat.freedomboxfoundation.betabeat. Yesterday morning (in our timezones — that evening. The list of questions is really fantastic.2. NETWORKS 45 encrypted form to their FreedomBoxes. We’re working on medium term and longer term solutions. which operates locally and leaves no permanent record of tweets for law enforcement).52 Speaking of Tor. .54 Vibe (an anonymous alternative to Twitter designed for protestors. but if you look carefully enough you can tell some differences.torproject. knowing there will be more blocking events but also knowing that we can solve them easily? Given that their last blocking attempt was in January 2011. I think it’s smartest to collect some more data points first. so our certs have more plausible expiry times. as it goes way beyond the direct request to really get 52 “Learn About the FreedomBox!” Freedom Box Foundation <http://www. the characteristic of Tor’s SSL handshake they looked at was the expiry time for our SSL session certificates: we rotate the session certificates every two hours. meaning the next time they block us it will be through some more complex mechanism that’s harder to figure out? Or should we leave things as they are. 53 “Iran blocks Tor. There are plenty of interesting discussion points from the research angle around how this arms race should be> Accessed December 14. Thanks to help from a variety of friends around the world. by automatically rerouting users to alternate domains. You can get your data back even if you don’t know your password. In this case. 54 <http://peoplesskype. but instead left it up and sent DHS a list of questions concerning the request. Even absent a crisis. 2011 <https://blog. HIERARCHIES VS. September 14. Should we fix them all>. in Iran). Tor released a same-day fix when Iran attempted to block it. How did the filter work technically? Tor tries to make its traffic look like a web browser talking to an https web server. but in the short term.” Thankfully. 2011.. Tor releases same-day fix. 55 Adrienne Jeffries. distributed voice and voting system for the #Occupy Movement”).2. September 29. Iran added a filter rule to their border routers that recognized Tor traffic and blocked it. The fix was to simply write a larger expiration time on the certificates. Mozilla didn’t just fold. whereas normal SSL certificates you get from a certificate authority typically last a year or more. we quickly discovered how they were blocking it and released a new version of Tor that isn’t blocked.” The Tor>. privacy matters.. there are other ways to filter Tor traffic like the one Iran used.53 Other innovations in local protest communications support infrastructures include The People’s Skype (“a phone-powered. 2011 <http://www. Anarchist Version of Twitter Being Used at Occupy Wall Street. “The Anonymous.

Has the Government communicated its concerns directly with MAFIAAfire. Can you please provide a copy of the relevant seizure order upon which your request to Mozilla to take down MAFIAAfire. Please identify exactly what the infringements by the owners of the domains consisted of. NETWORKS are is unlawful or illegal in any way? If add-on from Mozilla’s What protections are in place for MAFIAAfire.shtml>. . on what basis? (Please provide any relevant rulings) 2. Have any courts determined that (if so please provide us with a copy) 10. Can you please provide copies of any briefs that accompanied the affidavit considered by the court that issued the relevant seizure orders? 7. May 5. can you please specify. did or the seized domains. Have any courts determined that the seized domains related to MAFIAAfire. “Homeland Security Demands Mozilla Remove Firefox Extension That Redirects Seized is based? 8. and have there been any responses yet by owners? make?56 In response to the likely passage of SOPA in late 2011. Did any copyright owners furnish affidavits in connection with the domain seizures? Had any copyright owners served DMCA takedown notices on the seized domains or MAFIAAfire. or any copyright owners involved in this matter. what response. Is Mozilla legally obligated to disable the add-on or is this request based on other reasons? If other reasons.” Techdirt. can you please provide the following additional information: 1. Has the Government furnished the domain owners with formal notice of the seizures. Reddit formed a subgroup called darknetplan for users interested in developing an encrypted meshwork to evade surveillance by the federal government and the proprietary content 56 Mike Masnick. if any. including DMCA requests? 5. when. Has DHS. HIERARCHIES to the heart of the questionable nature of ICE’s activity with domain seizures: To help us evaluate the Department of Homeland Security’s request to take-down/remove the MAFIAAfire. 4. triggering the time period for a response by the owners? If so. with reference to the substantive standards of Section 106 and to any case law establishing that the actions of the seized domain owners constituted civil or criminal copyright infringement.46 CHAPTER 2.techdirt. 2011 <http://www. illegal or liable for infringement in any way? (please provide relevant rulings) If so. taken any legal action against or the seized domain owners if eventually a court decides they were not unlawful? 6. 9.

Mr. We used reports from the client tool developers. HIERARCHIES VS. “Wary Of SOPA. December 20.” Forbes. learn and use these tools.” lifehacker. we looked at three sets of censorship circumvention tools: complex. the desire to watch a movie without paying for it. <http://www. this represents a fairly small percentage of internet users in those countries.” In our report. Given the large number of users in China. NETWORKS 47 industries. 57 Andy Greenberg. 2011 <>. 58 Melanie Pinola. Censorship-Free Internet. December 23. in language much like that Cory Doctorow cited from those in the proprietary content industry who believed that DRM circumvention would be a marginal phenomenon limited to>. if not significantly stronger than. We actually believe that 3% figure is high. in part because many users simply lack the skills or desire to find. Castro applies our findings to the SOPA debate. it is unreasonable to assume different behaviors in closed societies. Far more users in open societies use the Internet for entertainment than for political purposes. not just to evade government censorship.reddit. and web proxies.58 Supporters of SOPA have dismissed the threat from such means of circumvention. we estimated as many as 19 million users a month of circumvention tools. even though it will have a number of harmful effects on the technical and political structure of the Internet. Counting all three classes of tools. which functioned much like the earlier MAFIAAfire to circumvent domain name takedowns. . paid VPNs.2. Saudi Arabia and other states where filtering is endemic. Yet only a small fraction of Internet users employ circumvention tools to access blocked>. Iran.forbes. and cultural information is at least equal to. as some of the tools we study are used by users in open societies to evade corporate or university firewalls. explicitly directed against SOPA. We estimated usage of those three classes of tools. “DeSopa for Firefox Bypasses SOPA DNS Blocking. We stand behind the findings in our study (with reservations that we detail in the paper). Castro cites our research as evidence that SOPA’s mandate to filter DNS will be effective. 2011 <http://lifehacker. client-based tools like Tor. will not be effective in preventing users from accessing the blocked sites. a survey to gather usage data from VPN operators and used data from Google Analytics to estimate usage of web proxy tools. Reddit Users Aim To Build A New. He quotes our finding that at most 3% of users in certain countries that substantially filter the Internet use circumvention tools and asserts that “presumably the desire for access to essential political. historical. 19 million people represents about 3% of the users in countries where internet filtering is pervasive. but we disagree with the way that Mr. His presumption that people will work as hard or harder to access political content than they do to access entertainment content deeply misunderstands how and why most people use the internet.2.57 And Firefox announced a new extension. Opponents of SOPA have argued that the DNS filtering.

com/blog/2011/12/23/sopa-and-our-2010circumvention-study/>.59 Another possible chokepoint. Second. 59 Ethan Zuckerman. this does not mean that circumvention tools are not crucial to the dissident communities in those countries. members of the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin have initiated the Hackerspace Global Grid60 project for creating a complete satellite communications system.” My heart’s in Accra. The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. “SOPA and Our 2010 Circumvention Study. but it is still a lot of people absolutely who have freer access to the Internet through the tools. 2011 <http://www. 19 million people is not large in relation to the population of the Internet. Castro would do better to consider the massive userbase of tools like bit torrent clients.but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.php?id=project:hgg:open_tasks>. Even though our research shows that relatively few people in autocratic countries use circumvention tools. 60 <http://shackspace. The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites. Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project. As if the previously mentioned projects weren’t ambitious enough. as suggested above by Avaaz’s system of autonomous satellite antennas.. Likewise.. is the communications satellites themselves. HIERARCHIES Our research offers the depressing conclusion that comparatively few users are seeking blocked political information and suggests that the governments most successful in blocking political content ensure that entertainment and social media content is widely available online precisely because users get much more upset about blocking the ability watch movies than they do about blocking specific pieces of political content.48 CHAPTER 2. which would make for a far cleaner analogy to the problem at hand. Rather than comparing usage of circumvention tools in closed societies to predict the activities of a given userbase. the long line of very popular peer-to-peer sharing tools that have been incrementally designed to circumvent the technical and political measures used to prevent sharing copyrighted materials are a stronger analogy than our study of users in authoritarian regimes seeking to access political content.. The problem is that these activities can be very dangerous in certain regimes. . Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit .ethanzuckerman. NETWORKS VS. We personally know many people in autocratic countries for whom these tools provide a crucial (though not perfect) layer of security for their activist work. The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.usually only for brief periods of time . December 23. Mr. our research has consistently shown that those who really wish to evade Internet filters can do so with relatively little effort.

2. Mr Bauer and some friends came up with the idea of a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals. but usually they don’t have to because.” Mr Farr said. "It’s kind of a reverse GPS. while also making it easier and more reliable for fast-moving satellites to send data back to earth." This problem could be avoided if the hackers managed to put their satellites into geostationary orbits above the equator. a 26-year-old enthusiast from Stuttgart who is working on the Hackerspace Global Grid.. Mr Bauer and others decided to concentrate on the communications infrastructure aspect of the scheme. "GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are..” Mr Bauer added.” Mr Bauer said. HIERARCHIES VS. Experts say the satellite project is feasible. In the open-source spirit of Hackerspace.” said Prof Alan Woodward from the computing department at the University of Surrey. According to Armin Bauer.” Mr Bauer said. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities. We would use GPS co-ordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations. Used together in a global network. This would allow them to match the earth’s movement and appear to be motionless 49 . The amateur radio satellite Arissat-1 was deployed into low earth orbit last year via a spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts from the International Space Station as part of an educational project. "Low earth orbit satellites such as have been launched by amateurs so far. and hoped to give away some working models at the next Chaos Communication Congress in a year’s time. That is the amount people tell us they would be willing to spend. However.. "That’s not to say they can’t be used for communications but obviously only for the relatively brief periods that they are in your view. do not stay in a single place but rather orbit.... these stations would be able to pinpoint satellites at any given time.. even if there were a significant number in your constellation. these devices have often proved tricky to pinpoint precisely from the ground. and this tells us where the satellites are." Mr Bauer said the team would have three prototype ground stations in place in the first half of 2012.. typically every 90 minutes. They would also sell the devices on a non-profit basis. but could be restricted by technical limitations. "Professionals can track satellites from ground stations. NETWORKS "The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. It’s difficult to see how such satellites could be used as a viable communications grid other than in bursts. if you pay a large sum [to send the satellite up on a rocket].2. Students and academics have also launched other objects by piggybacking official rocket launches. When Mr Farr called for contributions to Hackerspace.. this is largely due to lack of funding. "We’re aiming for 100 euros (£84) per ground station. they put it in an exact place.

105-6. which can interfere with certain Internet applications. 63 Samuel P. the American people.2398268. this would pose a different problem. “Proposed Hacker Satellite System Would Fight Web Censorship.3 Networks vs. In The Crisis of Democracy. January 1. 92. centralized. which constitute the private establishment. banks. A communication/control channel (read: sending data) is a future possibility but there are no fixed plans on how this could be implemented yet. and the welfare-warfare state—assumed a general public willingness to stay out of government>. were becoming ungovernable.” PCMag. For Huntington. Crozier. “Next up are building various receiver modules (ADS-B. America’s role as “hegemonic power in a system of world order” depended on a domestic system of order..2817.61 "The first step is establishing a means of accurate synchronization for the distributed network. Michael J. the federal bureaucracy." The group also has a list of open tasks for those who want to participate. p. In the early 1970s. this system of order—variously referred to as corporate liberalism. 64 Ibid. foundations."64 America’s position as defender of global capitalism required that its government have the ability “to mobilize its citizens for the achievement of social and political goals and to impose discipline and sacrifice upon its citizens in order 61 David Meyer. Huntington. 2012 <http://www. “Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship. 2012 <http://www.” HGG said. 1975). amateur satellites. Huntington’s analysis is illustrative of elite thinking behind the neoliberal policy agenda of the past thirty Samuel Huntington wrote of a “crisis of democracy”. because of an excess of 2. However. consensus capitalism.50 CHAPTER 2.00. hierarchical institutions are finding themselves all too vulnerable to networked resistance. he argued that the system was collapsing from demand and media. The Crisis of Democracy. Joji Watanuki. . January 4. pp. HIERARCHIES when viewed from the ground. "It means that they are so far from earth that there is an appreciable delay on any>. Cold War liberalism. and the more important businesses. 62 Chloe Albanesisus. he feared.” Prof Woodward said. in the aftermath of a vast upheaval in American political culture. Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission: Triangle Paper 8 (New York: New York University Press. etc) and data processing of received signals. Congress. law firms.” BBC News.63 And this was only possible because of a domestic structure of political authority in which the country “was governed by the president acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the Executive office. Hierarchies But if hierarchies don’t do so well at suppressing networked organizations. NETWORKS VS.

113-5. For years. for swarming the state. As this trend deepens and spreads. exceeding its capacity to respond. a cutting edge of this trend could be found among leftleaning activist NGOs concerned with human-rights.3.. the trend is spreading across the political spectrum.” Now.. The potential for networked resistance created by the Internet exacerbated Huntington’s crisis of governability beyond his wildest imagining.” in particular. in other words. this ability required that democracy be largely nominal. supplanted Huntington’s old “crisis of governability” with the aspect of a Rehoboam: “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. John Arquilla and other writers. Many of these rely on APC affiliates for communications and aim to construct a “global civil society” strong enough to counter the roles of state and market actors. HIERARCHIES 51 to achieve these goals. pp.” There is a wide body of literature on the emergence of networked modes of resistance in the 1990s. 68 John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt.” Arquilla and Ronfeldt wrote that technological evolution was working to the advantage of networks and the detriment of hierarchies. and an overload of demands on government. they also mentioned governability concerns in civil society much like those Huntington raised earlier. 7-8.. a delegitimation of political and other means of authority. Activists on the right—from moderately conservative religious groups. and global levels.”65 Most importantly. national."66 Unfortunately—from his standpoint—these requirements were being gravely undermined by “a breakdown of traditional means of social control. In addition.. Although their focus was on the military aspect (what has since been called “Fourth Generation Warfare”). pp. pp.2. and other social issues at local. were “developing netwar-like attributes. and connect and coordinate for collective action as never before. it will strengthen the power of civil-society actors relative to state and market actors around the globe. It required. to militant antiabortion groups—are also building national and transnational networks based in part on the use of new communications systems. In their 1996 paper “The Advent of Netwar. “some measure of apathy and non-involvement on the part of some individuals and groups. peace."67 The phenomena that caused Huntington to recoil in horror in the early 1970s must have seemed positively tame by the late 1990s.68 65 Ibid.. “Intellectual property pirates. the new information technologies and related organizational innovations increasingly enable civil-society actors to reduce their isolation. 66 Ibid. environmental. and that citizens be willing to leave major substantive decisions about the nature of American society to qualified authorities. build far-flung networks within and across national boundaries. 67 Ibid. The Internet’s potential for networked resistance.. beginning with the Rand studies on netwar by David Ronfeldt. NETWORKS VS. 7-8. CA: RAND. .. The Advent of Netwar MR-789 (Santa Monica.” “militant singleissue groups” and “transnational social activists..

52 CHAPTER 2. Philosophers such as Adam Ferguson. Over the long run. Hegel viewed civil society as an essential realm composed of all kinds of independent nongovernmental interest groups and associations that acted sometimes on their own. Institutions. The rise of these networks implies profound changes for the realm of civil society. the innovative NGO-based networks are setting in motion new dynamics that promise to reshape civil society and its relations with other realms at local through global levels.[A]ctors in the realm of civil society are likely to be the main beneficiaries. and grassroots organizations (GROs)—continue to multiply among activists and interest groups who identify with civil society. And while theorists treated the state and the market as systems. electronic mail (e-mail). Now. And while classic definitions of civil society often encompassed state. and on-line conferencing systems to consult and>. this is less the case with new and emerging definitions—the separation of “civil society” from “state” and “market” realms may be deepening.rand. At its best. liberal democracy fostered. The network form seems particularly well suited to strengthening civil-society actors whose purpose is to address social issues. F. NETWORKS VS. state. the most evolved are found among progressive political advocacy and social activist NGOs—e. While examples exist across the political spectrum.g. in relative if not also absolute terms.. Civil society appears to be the home realm for the network form. HIERARCHIES In “Tribes. Networks” (1996) Ronfeldt focused on the special significance of networks for global civil society. This nascent. when most social theorists focused on state and market systems. to mediate between state and society at large.and market-related actors (e. W. . the realm that will be strengthened more than any other—either that. yet rapidly growing phenomenon is spreading across the political spectrum into new corners and issue areas in all countries. although some twentieth century theorists gave such rank to the interest group. this was generally not the case with civil society. human-rights.. in regard to environmental. yet-to-benamed realm will emerge from it. nonprofit organizations (NPOs). private voluntary organizations (PVOs). this realm seems likely to be strengthened more than any other realm.. Alexis de Tocqueville. and market actors have 1996) <http://www. as some are called. businesses and labor unions). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. indeed required. It was not seen as having a unique form of organization equivalent to the hierarchical institution or the competitive market. political parties. civil society was also considered to be a weaker realm than the state or the market. However. The trend is increasingly significant in this realm.. the emergence of this third realm of activity. where issue–oriented multiorganizational networks of NGOs—or. this form may thus result in vast collaborative networks of NGOs geared to addressing and helping resolve social equity and accountability issues that traditional tribal. and G. . sometimes in coalitions. Markets. and other prominent issues—that depend on using new information technologies like faxes. or a new.g.

Networks P-7967 (Santa Monica: RAND. yet have agendas that are interdependent and benefit from consultation and coordination. and that encourages broad participation in the democratic process. as it allows realtime dialogue about world events as bloggers log in daily to share their insights. it is a new form of international player. or texting. What makes these numbers important is the new cyberspace enabled interconnection among the members. T ext messaging on mobile phones.69 53 Networked global civil society. what is perhaps most interesting about this global movement is that it is not really directed by visible leaders. working in concert with a variety of institutions in the field of international law. Ronfeldt. in the words of James Moore. Web connections enable a kind of near-instantaneous.. and provides an intimate sense of connection across time and space.rand. This body has a beautiful mind. but it is not a nation. Where can the world find such a second superpower? No nation or group of nations seems able to play this role. Indeed.. including the United>. . mass improvisation of activist initiatives. many people desire a superpower that speaks for the interests of planetary society. There is an emerging second superpower..2. constituted by the “will of the people” in a global social movement. NETWORKS VS. The network form offers its best advantages where the members.. Markets. for long-term well-being. Meta-blogging sites crawl across thousands of blogs. as we will see.. although the European Union sometimes seeks to. as often occurs in civil society. . emergent action of its millions of participants. but. Institutions.. is now the medium of choice for communicating with thousands of demonstrators simultaneously during mass protests.3. New forms of communication and commentary are being invented continuously. While some of the leaders have become highly visible. and provide a means for in69 David F. Instead. is becoming a “Second Superpower”: As the United States government becomes more belligerent in using its power in the world.. But even the common might of the European nations is barely a match for the current power of the United States. and providing an instantaneous summary of the global consciousness of the second superpower. 1996) <http://www. HIERARCHIES tended to ignore or are now unsuited to addressing well. The Internet and other interactive media continue to penetrate more and more deeply all world society. The current enthusiasm for blogging is changing the way that people relate to publication. Slashdot and other news sites present high quality peerreviewed commentary by involving large numbers of members of the web community in recommending and rating items.. by the collective. identifying popular links. noting emergent topics. because it requires only a bit of bandwidth. Tribes. many people are longing for a “second superpower” that can keep the US in check. Instant messaging turns out to be one of the most popular methods for staying connected in the developing world. aim to preserve their autonomy and to avoid hierarchical controls.

54 CHAPTER 2. How does the second superpower take action? Not from the top. the military-industrial complex. such as environment. what are acted upon are issues for which some group is willing to spend lavishly. HIERARCHIES stantaneous personal dialogue and communication across the globe. when ants invade my kitchen they command my attention. be expected to eventually prevail. and then spend. Where political participation in the United States is exercised mainly through rare exercises of voting. NETWORKS VS. for example. but from the bottom. By contrast. The collective power of texting. where participation in democracy in the first superpower feels remote to most citizens. In the same sense as the ants. Like a mind constituted of millions of inter-networked neurons. blogging. the emergent democracy of the second superpower is alive with touching and being touched by each other. long-term value for many citizens. and in purchases from particular companies. And while I may be awed seeing eagles in flight. in exposing corruption. And that millions of citizens worldwide would take to their streets to rally. the social movement is capable of astonishingly rapid and sometimes subtle community consciousness and action. it is difficult in the US government system to champion policy goals that have broad. That is. in picketing. Perhaps the best symbol for the second superpower would be a community of ants. and email across millions of actors cannot be overestimated. . I believe. big agriculture. as the community works to create wisdom and to take action. and deciding whether and how to join in community actions. expressed in rallying.2 billion on 1. By contrast. participation in the second superpower movement occurs continuously through participation in a variety of web-enabled initiatives. The symbol of the first superpower is the eagle—an awesome predator that rules from the skies. it is the strength of the US government that it can centrally collect taxes. Finally. $1. preying on mice and small animals. all have a profound effect on the nature of future society. deliberation in the second superpower is done by each individual—making sense of events.200 cruise missiles in the first day of the war against Iraq. adjudicating. I would argue. Thus the new superpower demonstrates a new form of “emergent democracy” that differs from the participative democracy of the US government. The realpolitik of decision making in the first superpower—as opposed to what is taught in civics class—centers around lobbying and campaign contributions by moneyed special interests—big oil. and big drugs—to mention only a few. than the devastating but unsustainable effect of bombs and other forms of coercion. instant messaging. in voting. Deliberation in the first superpower is relatively formal—dictated by the US constitution and by years of legislation. it is the strength of the second superpower that it could mobilize hundreds of small g roups of activists to shut down city centers across the United States on that same first day of the war. And where deliberation in the first superpower is done primarily by a few elected or appointed officials. Ants rule from below. Distributed mass behavior. the continual distributed action of the members of the second superpower can. communicating with others. More effect. In many cases. and precedent.

Not every idea will take hold in the big mind of the second superpower—but the one that eventually catches fire is started by an individual. This money in turn can be used to support activities consistent with an emerging mission. sense-making moves from top to bottom. In the emergent democracy of the second superpower. By contrast. when education and information were both scarce resources. And in the peeroriented world of the second superpower. HIERARCHIES poverty reduction and third world development. Deliberation in the second superpower is evolving rapidly in both cultural and technological terms. they prefer to make up their own minds. human rights.. emerging in the 21st century. But one can say certain things. The second superpower. these are precisely the issues to which the second superpower tends to address its attention. and if they are tapping into a live issue. “The President must know more than he is saying” goes the thinking of a loyal but passive member of the first superpower. fundraisers send out mass appeals. Some members of the community study these patterns. The Internet. Now. Ideas arise in the global media space. they can raise money very quickly. In the community of the second superpower each of us is responsible for our own sense-making. This has the effect of both amplifying the patterns and facilitating community reflection on the topics highlighted. It is difficult to know its present state. with mechanisms designed to turn a given social movement into specific kinds of action in the world. We seek as much data—raw facts.2. and take a shot. and write about some of them. NETWORKS VS. women’s rights. and then we make up our own minds. any one of us can launch an idea. collective mind of the second superpower is made up of many individual human minds—your mind and my mind—together we create the movement.. A new form of deliberation happens. people are well educated and informed. and impossible to see its future. each of our minds matters a lot.. health care for all. in more and more of the world. depends upon educated informed members. A variety of what we might call “action agents” sits figuratively astride the community. Any one of us can write a blog. becomes a pattern across the community. In traditional democracy. As such.3. and the minds of those that staff and lobby them. For example. with direct mail or the Internet. Top-down sense-making is out of touch with modern people. The contrast goes deeper.. in combination with traditional press and television and radio media. It is stunning how quickly the community can act—especially when compared to government systems. The same. In traditional democracy our minds don’t matter much—what matters are the minds of those with power of position. direct experience—as we can. send out an email.. many more of us have the opportunity to craft submissions. and decide ourselves “what’s the story” rather than watching actors and actresses play out a story written by someone else.. creates a kind of “media space” of global dialogue.The shared. Their dissemination.. But this form of democracy was established in the 18th century. Even the current fascination with “reality television” speaks to this desire: we prefer to watch our fellows. For example. Some of them catch hold and are disseminated widely. 55 . . create a list.

NETWORKS VS. as a technique that served the entire spectrum of networked conflict—including “civicoriented actions. Right up until Mexican troops entered Chiapas. letters. and the paralysis of communications networks by such swarms—is the direct descendant of the “overload of demands” Huntington wrote of in the>. and “swarm” the government and mainstream media with phone calls. they also gave some attention to networked global civil society—and the Zapatista support network in particular—as examples of peaceful swarming with which states were ill-equipped to deal: A recent example of swarming can be found in Mexico. we see the Zapatista movement. and emails far beyond their capacity to cope.” in Ronfeldt and Arquilla.71 Arquilla.”73 Despite the primary concern with swarming as a military according to Ronfeldt and Arquilla. 369-371. ad hoc coalitions of affinity groups.72 Swarming—in particular the swarming of public pressure through letters. at the level of what we call activist “social netwar” (see Ronfeldt et al. 37-41 <>. is true of the political stage—hence the attractiveness of participation in the second superpower to individuals. pp.rand.rand. They saw early indications of such a movement in the global political support network for the Zapatistas. and public demonstrations. Ronfeldt and Arquilla noted a parallel between such techniques and the “leaderless resistance” ideas advocated by right-wing white supremacist Louis Beam. CA: RAND. It looked that way until Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatistas made their appeal to global civil society and became the center of a networked movement that stirred activists the world over. begun in January 1994 and continuing today. and Melissa Fuller. Ronfeldt et al. Briefly.. 71 John Arquilla. and that the world outside Mexico would “little note nor long remember” it. The interesting thing about the Zapatista netwar. could throw together large demonstrations at short notice. 2000).extremedemocracy. organizing through the Internet. 1998). Swarming & the Future of Conflict DB-311 (Santa Monica. circulating in some constitutionalist/militia circles. Graham Fuller. in particular. In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in th Information Age (Santa Monica: Rand.70 In The Zapatista “Social Netwar” in Mexico. 72 David Ronfeldt and Armando Martinez.” Chapter Two of John Lebkowski and Mitch Ratcliffe. eds. 1997). The Mexican government was blindsided by the global reaction.html>. pp. 1998) <http://www. expressed some concern over the possibilities of decentralized “netwar” techniques for destabilizing the existing political and economic order.. 73 Arquilla and Ronfeldt.56 CHAPTER 2.” Ronfeldt and Arquilla focused on swarming. Extreme Democracy (Lulu. . David Ronfeldt. emails. Moore. as an effort to mobilize global civil society to exert 70 James F. “The Second Superpower Rears Its Beautiful Head. is that to all appearances it started out as a run-of-the-mill Third World army’s suppression of a run-of-the-mill local insurgency. The Zapatista “Social Netwar” in Mexico MR-994-A (Santa Monica: Rand. HIERARCHIES increasingly. In “Swarming & the Future of Conflict. Loose. 2005). iii <http://www. there was every indication the uprising would be suppressed quickly according to the standard script that had worked up to then. “A Comment on the Zapatista Netwar. phone calls.

J18 was largely organized over the Internet. 1999—a day that came to be known as J18—furious anticapitalist demonstrations took place in London. most of them Americans but many also from Canada and Europe.. several tens of thousands of activists. November 30. at least for a while. troops employed in Haiti—with similar success. and the Mexican military has engaged in the same kind of “blanketing” of force that U. autonomous but internetted maneuver units to coordinate and conduct repeated pulsing attacks. they also take advantage of their high connectivity to interact in the fluid. The growing number of cases in which activists have used swarming include. The NGOs also swarmed in force—at least initially—by sending hundreds of activists into Chiapas to provide presence and additional pressure. on July 18. the demonstrations showed that informationage networks (the NGOs) can prevail against hierarchies (the WTO and the Seattle police). small. Social swarming is especially on the rise among activists that oppose global trade and investment policies. NETWORKS VS. The persistence of this 74 Ibid. The vigor of these three movements and the effectiveness of the activists’ obstructionism came as a surprise to the authorities. HIERARCHIES pressure on the government of Mexico to accede to the demands of the Zapatista guerrilla army (EZLN) for land reform and more equitable treatment under the law. by fire or force—is best exemplified in practice by the latest generation of activist NGOs.. Internet-based protests helped to prevent approval of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in Europe in 1998. The violent street demonstrations in Seattle manifested all the conflict formations discussed earlier—the melee. and swarming.. The government was able to mount only a minimal counterswarming “fire” of its own...74 At present. our best understanding of swarming—as an optimal way for myriad. with no central direction or leadership.e.S. However. 57 p. with J18 as a partial blueprint.. dispersed. maneuver. as tens of thousands of activists converged on the city. in the security area. .2. 39.. These NGOs work comfortably within a context of autonomy from each other. The [Zapatista movement] is a seminal case of “social netwar. Moreover. The EZLN has been successful in engaging the interest of hundreds of NGOs. the Zapatista movement in Mexico. 1999—in an operation known to militant activists and anarchists as N30. sharp messages of reproach) against the government. which assemble into transnational networks and use information operations to assail government actors over policy issues.3. whose planning began right after J18. swarmed into Seattle to shut down a major meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on opening day.. Then. Most recently. while other activists mounted parallel demonstrations in other countries. who have repeatedly swarmed their media-oriented “fire” (i. massing. in terms of counterpropaganda.” in which transnationally networked NGOs helped deter the Mexican government and army from attacking the Zapatistas militarily. flexible ways called for by swarm theory. it did eventually succeed in curbing the movement of activists into Chiapas.

involves a new understanding of the strategic principle of mass. is far less vulnerable to preemptive disruption in its preparatory stages.. many of them against targets associated with efforts to suppress Wikileaks or Occupy Wall Street. transitory concentration of forces at the point of attack. More conventional mass demonstrations in the previous era. Now the planning and preparatory phase is drastically shortened and virtually invis75 Ibid. After months of planning. a series of DDOS attacks by Anonymous. suggests that it has proven effective enough to continue to be used. including as part of J18. 50-52. NETWORKS VS.58 CHAPTER 2. with a concept of collective organization that was fluid and dynamic. Swarming. military. 2000. were much more visible to authorities during their planning stages. .. pp. 75 More recently. which has been used to mount massive “ping” attacks on government and corporate web sites. in which mass is achieved by a rapid. they took to the field individually and in small groups. In these social netwars—from the Zapatistas in 1994. older example of the same phenomenon was the Wobbly practice of unannounced one-day strikes at random intervals. which can be organized on comparatively short notice by loose networks. illustrate the same phenomenon. which consisted of anarchists from various affinity groups around the United States. The new principle of mass. require far less advance planning.C. And by using spotters and staying constantly in motion.. From the standpoints of both theory and practice. Swarms of email sent to government figures are an example. like the East German uprisings in 1989.. when used for activist purposes. Another. They knew exactly what corporate offices and shops they intended to damage—they had specific target lists. as manifested in swarming protests like the Seattle anti-globalization demonstration in 1999 and the 2006 anti-Lukashenko flash mobs in Minsk.” One notable recent effort associated with a collectivity called the Electronic Disturbance Theater is actually named SWARM. through the N30 activists and anarchists in 1999—swarming appears not only in real-life actions but also through measures in cyberspace. This is clearly meant to enable swarming in cyberspace by myriad people against government. in all its manifestations. The flash mob. The aim of its proponents is to come up with new kinds of “electronic pulse systems” for supporting militant activism. dispersed but internetted by two-way radios and other communications measures. some of the most interesting swarming was conducted by black-masked anarchists who referred to themselves collectively as the N30 Black Bloc. demonstrations (known as A16) against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. D. and corporate targets. is a good example of this. HIERARCHIES “Seattle swarming” model in the April 16. But some “hacktivists” aim to be more disruptive—pursuing “electronic civil disobedience. but nonetheless tight. they largely avoided contact with the police. Swarming attacks. It seeks to move “digital Zapatismo” beyond the initial emphasis of its creators on their “FloodNet” computer system.

can achieve local superiority at will and defeat the enemy in detail. more lightly armored and with lighter guns than that of the French—into a “coordinated group weapon. “Everything New is Old Again: Historical Augmented Revolution. Ronfeldt and Arquilla wrote elsewhere. Coordination across large distances is another practical result of the increased speed of information sharing. People act and react more quickly and more fluidly in response to new information. as described by Sarah Wanenchak: Now the spread of information is nearly instantaneous. Consider the radical compression of the time factor. “Networks and Netwars: The Future of> ix. 79 Sarah Wanenchak. missile and air strikes) on the Schwerpunkt.” Cyborgology. 78 John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt. pp. Since then. overwhelming multiple governments or agencies at once so that each is too preoccupied dealing with its own swarming attacks to cooperate with the others. Crime. and Militancy” MR-1382-OSD (Santa Monica: Rand. In relation to the Arab Spring.”78 The disappearance of time and space limitations. the way I looked at this back in Shirky. 76 Clay . A protest is violently put down in an afternoon. A force with superior agility. to changing perceptions of opportunity and threat.79 And as Julian Assange argues.. such advances in speed and ubiquity make it possible for the swarming attack to take the form of a full court press. [N]ow protesters in multiple different countries call a day of protest. “Introduction. with the highly visible public demonstration seeming to appear out of nowhere with little or no warning.” in Arquilla and Ronfeldt. by the evening. doctrines like the American Airland Battle of the 1980s attempted to attain mass through concentration of fire (coordinated artillery. eds.. 2001) <http://www.76 The German Blitzkrieg doctrine. Netwar.rand. 168-169. or by achieving concentration of fire without spatial concentration.. with the physical concentration of rapidly assembled and dispersed ground forces playing a secondary role. relied on radio-equipped tanks to turn their armored force—fewer.. and over 900 cities worldwide take part..2. has strong implications for the growing capability of swarming attacks. HIERARCHIES 59 ible to the>. 77 Ibid.”77 German armored formations. by converging rapidly at the breakthrough point and then rapidly dispersing. despite smaller numbers. one can see solidarity demonstrations in multiple other nations. 172-173. 2011 <http://thesocietypages. November 29. by way of analogy. prefigured the flash mobs which—although possessing far less firepower than the state’s police—are able to form and disperse before the state can react to them. associated with networked communications operating at the speed of light. is characterized by “the networked organizational structure of its practitioners—with many groups actually being leaderless —and the suppleness in their ability to come together quickly in swarming attacks. Here Comes Everybody. NETWORKS VS.3. The heartbeat of collective action has sped up. pp.

and some money. The Cathedral and the Bazaar <˜esr/writings/homesteading>. p. HIERARCHIES October of 2010 is that the power structures in the Middle East are interdependent. skill.” . 83 Doctorow. 60. 80 Michael Hastings. I only need to know how to search Google.I don’t have to be a cracker to break your DRM.. 7-8.82 It used to be that copy-prevention companies’ strategies went like this: “We’ll make it easier to buy a copy of this data than to make an unauthorized copy of it. “Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview.. “It’s the Information Economy. a direct continuation of our discussion of stigmergy in the previous chapter. Take cable TV fraud as an example. Individual innovations immediately become part of the common pool of intelligence. Stupid.” Rolling Stone.. a third option appears: you can just download a copy from the Internet. NETWORKS VS. universally available to all.. going back to Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar. If we could release enough information fast enough about many of these powerful individuals and organizations.. in many ways. as described by Cory Doctorow.rollingstone. 81 Eric S. They’d have to fight their own local battles – they’d have to turn inward to deal with the domestic political fallout from the information. and the Future of the Future (San Francisco: Tachyon Publications. their ability to support each other would be diminished. This is a feature of the stigmergic organization that we considered earlier.” But every time a PC is connected to the Internet and its owner is taught to use search tools like Google (or The Pirate Bay).” in Content: Selected Essays on Technology. have pointed out the nature of open-source methods and network organization as force-multipliers.. February 2. That way. 82 Doctorow. The first attacker is the smart one. or any of the other generalpurpose search tools for the cleartext that someone smarter than me has extracted. Creativity. or Kazaa.80 The rest of this section is. “But DRM doesn’t have to be proof against smart attackers. This principle is at work in the file-sharing movement. with maximum economy. . they support each other. Copyright. Raise your hand if you’re thinking something like. And therefore they would not have the resources to prop up surrounding countries. only the uber-nerds and the cashpoor/time rich classes will bother to copy instead of buy. Many open-source thinkers. 2008).. “Microsoft DRM Research Talk.. Raymond. Automation also allows class breaks to propagate quickly because less expertise is>.83 Bruce Schneier describes the stigmergic Bazaar model as automation lowering the marginal cost of sharing innovations. None of the cable TV companies would care much if someone built a cable receiver in his basement and illicitly watched cable television.” in Ibid. only average individuals!. everyone else can blindly follow his instructions. Building that device requires time. 2012 <http://www. pp..60 CHAPTER 2.81 Open-source design communities pick up the innovations of individual members and quickly distribute them wherever they are needed. It might be fruitful to reread the fourth section of Chapter One and proceed directly to the material below.

activity. This is one illustration of a broader advantage of stigmergy: modular design. “Australian seniors ask Pirate Party for help in accessing right-to-die sites. It’s a pretty informative slideshow—teachers could just as readily use it for schoolkids in class in a teaching unit on getting access to legit educational materials that’s mistakenly blocked by school censorware. a hack]. I call this pattern the bazaar.” “Take a class break [i. so Exit International has turned to Australia’s Pirate Party and asked for help in producing a slideshow explaining firewall circumvention for seniors.84 61 This reduced transaction cost of aggregation or replicating small contributions is a key feature of stigmergy—what David Weinberger called “small pieced. In Schneier’s words. 2003). it wouldn’t have much impact.boingboing. NETWORKS VS. The Exit International website will likely be blocked by the Great Firewall of Australia. 84 Bruce Schneier.. loosely joined. Even if someone built a few and sold them. HIERARCHIES Few people could do it.86 Open-source insurgency follows the same model. and propagate the break for free. expertise is “[e]ncapsulated and commoditized. This pattern shows a level of learning. automate it. But what if that person figured out a class break against cable television? And what if the class break required someone to push some buttons on a cable box in a certain sequence to get free cable TV? If that person published those instructions on the Internet. and you’ve got a recipe for a security disaster.” Boing Boing. John Robb writes: The decentralized. p. April 9. with each individual contribution quickly becoming available to potentially antagonistic networks combine to conduct war? Lessons from Eric Raymond’s “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” provides a starting point for further analysis. Try new forms of attacks against different types of targets early and often. in fact.” To put it in the terms of The Matrix. 2010 <http://www. 95.3.html >. traditional hierarchies are being besieged by a self-replicating army of Agent Smiths.2. Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World (New York: Copernicus Books.”85 Australia.e. it could increase the number of nonpaying customers by millions and significantly affect the company’s profitability. Here are the factors that apply (from the perspective of the guerrillas): • Release early and often. as hackers at The Pirate Party provided technical expertise to seniors wishing to circumvent government blockage of right-to-die websites: Exit International is an assisted suicide education group in Australia. p. . and seemingly chaotic guerrilla war in Iraq demonstrates a pattern that will likely serve as a model for next generation terrorists. Don’t wait for a perfect plan. and success similar to what we see in the open source software community. whose average member is over 70 years old. 85 Ibid. was recently the location of a literal “geeks helping grandmas” story. 96. The bazaar solves the problem: how do small. 86 Cory Doctorow.

and the working environment is fraught with arguments and power struggles. if successful.62 CHAPTER 2. they do not need group permission to tell them what system to work on or what part to contribute. persuasion. in which decisions are mediated administratively or socially. Military Learns to Fight Deadliest Weapons. Eric Raymond has raised a caveat concerning Robb’s application of the Bazaar paradigm [email] 88 Adam Higginbotham.typepad. With stigmergy.. 2010 <http://www. as 87 John Robb. an initial idea is freely given. swarm on weaknesses you identify. Stigmergic. if an idea is exciting or necessary it will attract interest. Evangelizing the idea is voluntary. Sept3ember 24.wired. “U.” Global Guerrillas. Since the project is supported or rejected based on contributed effort. As Heather Marsh argues. and protect you by creating system noise. The other guerrilla networks in the bazaar are your most valuable allies. A traditional hierarchy.S. and the project is driven by the idea. input from people with more commitment to the idea will have greater weight.. Stigmergy also puts individuals in control over their own work. who will attempt to persuade a group to adopt the idea. The interest attracted will be from people actively involved in the system and willing to put effort into carrying the project further. 2004 <http://globalguerrillas. . July 28. They will innovate on your plans. incurs enormous transaction costs getting everyone on the same page before anyone can act. Eventually some participant of the bazaar will find a way to disrupt a particularly difficult target.” Wired. It is unnecessary to seek start up funding and supporters. not empty votes. they may or may not be the ones to carry it out. and personality management. • Your co-developers (beta-testers) are your most valuable resource. No individual needs permission (competitive) or consensus (collaborative) to propose an idea or initiate a project. (In practise. and solved. “THE BAZAAR’S OPEN SOURCE PLATFORM.88 Any innovation developed by a particular cell of Al Qaeda Iraq. networked organizations are far more agile than hierarchical institutions because they require no permission or administrative coordination to act.html>. an idea developed within a hierarchical framework must first be pitched by the originator. any difficult problem will be seen as obvious by>. The person with the initial idea may or may not carry the task further. if an idea is good it will receive the support required. All you need to do is copy the process they used.87 The rapid innovation in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) achieved by opensource warfare networks in Iraq and Afghanistan is a case in point. HIERARCHIES • Given a large enough pool of co-developers. that is not true yet. The group must be in agreement with the idea itself and with every stage of its by a group that is excited by the idea. is quickly adopted by the entire network. not empty votes from people with little interest or involvement. NETWORKS VS.. not by a personality or group of personalities. The majority of energy and resources are spent on communication. There is no need to discuss or vote on the idea.

few people have the free time to put into volunteer projects because most are tied to compulsory work under the existing financial system.) Secrecy and competition is unnecessary because once an idea is given, it and all new development belongs to anyone who chooses to work on it. Anyone can submit work for approval, the idea cannot die or be put on hold by personalities; acceptance or rejection is for the work contributed, not the person contributing it. All ideas are accepted or rejected based on the needs of the system. Responsibility and rights for the system rest with the entire user group, not just the creators. There is no need for people to leave the system based on personality conflicts as there is no need for communication outside of task completion and there are usually plenty of jobs with complete autonomy. As no one owns the system, there is no need for a competing group to be started to change ownership to a different group.89


The speed and agility of the network, its shortened reaction time, and the rapidity with which it shares information and new techniques, mean that networks are typically inside what strategist John Boyd called the OODA loop of hierarchies. They react more quickly to changing circumstances than do hierarchies, so they can stay a step ahead of them and keep them constantly off-balance. We quoted, earlier, Robert Anton Wilson’s observations on the tendency of hierarchy to suppress accurate feedback to those in authority, so that they were unable to formulate appropriate changes in policy in response to information from their environment. Open, networked associations, on the other hand, are agile precisely because, in an organization where individuals possess no authority over each other, there are no barriers to accurate feedback. Although Deming’s motto “Drive out fear” can never be fully realized in a hierarchy, it can be in a self-organized network. The whole ethos of the network, as illustrated by Raymond’s Bazaar, is based on sharing knowledge (“release early and release often”) and benefiting from feedback (“many eyeballs make shallow bugs”). A good example is modern science. Alchemists, Clay Shirky argues, failed to benefit from each other’s knowledge because they were, as a group,
notably reclusive; they typically worked alone, they were secretive about their methods and their results, and they rarely accompanied claims of insight or success with anything that we’d recognize today as documentation, let alone evidence. Alchemical methods were hoarded rather than shared, passed down from master to apprentice, and when the alchemists did describe their experiments, the descriptions were both incomplete and vague. This was hardly a recipe for success; even worse, no two people working with alchemical descriptions could reliably even fail in the same way. As a result, alchemical conclusions accumulated only slowly, with no steady improvement in utility. Absent transparent methods and a formal way of rooting out errors, erroneous beliefs
89 Heather Marsh, “A proposal for governance: Stigmergy, beyond competition and collaboration,” WL Central, January 9, 2012 <>.


were as likely as correct ones to be preserved over generations. In contrast, members of the Invisible College [a number of natural philosophers grouped around Robert Boyle in 1645—direct ancestor of the Royal Society] described their methods, assumptions, and results to one another, so that all might benefit from both successes and failures.... Culture—not tools or insights—animated the Invisible College and transmuted alchemy into chemistry. The members accumulated facts more quickly, and were able to combine existing facts into new experiments and new insights. By insisting on accuracy and transparency, and by sharing their assumptions and working methods with one another, the collegians had access to the group’s collective knowledge and constituted a collaborative circle.90

And the American bureaucratic national security state’s clumsy response to terrorism is typical of the way hierarchies react to networks.
The reliance on IT also enables open-source groups to identify and respond to problems much more rapidly than a more structured, topdown entity can—be it the Pentagon or a large software company such as Microsoft. According to some estimates, it now takes Iraqi insurgents less than a month to adapt their methods of attack, much faster than coalition troops can respond. “For every move we make, the enemy makes three,” U.S. Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez Jr. told attendees at a May conference on IEDs. ”The enemy changes techniques, tactics, and procedures every two to three weeks. Our biggest task is staying current and relevant.” Unfortunately, the traditional weapons acquisition process, which dictates how the United States and other Western militaries define and develop new weapons systems, is simply not designed to operate on such a fleeting timescale. It can take years and sometimes decades—not to mention many millions or billions of dollars—for a new military machine to move from concept to design to testing and out into the field. Worse, the vast majority of the battlefield technologies now wending their way through the acquisition bureaucracy were intended to fight large force-on-force battles among sovereign nations, not the guerrilla warfare that typifies the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.... This past spring and summer I interviewed dozens of current and former military officers, analysts, weapons developers, and others to try to understand why the coalition forces’ technological might has proved so ineffectual. Nearly everyone I spoke with agreed there is a serious mismatch between the West’s industrial-age approach to warfare and the insurgents’ more fluid and adaptive style.... Terrorist Web sites serve not only to spread propaganda but also to share knowledge among insurgent groups.... That helps explain why the learning cycles among Iraqi insurgents are some 20 times as fast as the Irish Republican Army’s were in Northern Ireland in the 1980s, according to military estimates.... That unconventional style of mine warfare is something coalition
90 Clay

Shirky, Cognitive Surplus (New York: The Penguin Press, 2010), pp. 138-139.

forces clearly didn’t anticipate, and response has been slow. Earlier this year, for instance, the Pentagon decided to spend $25 billion on mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) armored vehicles, whose V-shaped hulls and raised chassis make them better than armored Humvees at fending off bomb blasts. The price tag includes $750 million to airlift the 12-metric-ton vehicles to Iraq, instead of sending them by ship. In August, though, the Pentagon scaled back its schedule, saying only 1500 of the planned 3900 vehicles would be delivered by year’s end. It’s a race against time. As happened first to unarmored Humvees and then to armored Humvees, insurgents have made destroying MRAP vehicles a high priority—a ”trophy kill,” as some observers call it. MRAP designs are already reportedly being rethought to deal with emerging insurgent tactics. You might think that the lag time was due to bureaucratic screwups, but in fact, that’s just how long the bureaucracy takes to respond. Marine commanders in Iraq first requested MRAP vehicles in May 2006. Acquisition officials reviewed the request and ultimately approved it late in the year. By April, five suppliers had demonstrated they could meet survivability requirements, production numbers, and delivery timelines, and they were then awarded contracts.... Acquisition is even more cumbersome when the United States wants to send equipment to Iraqi security forces. Any request for equipment is first given a congressional review, which takes up to a month. Then the U.S. government has to draw up a letter of acceptance, which must be signed by the Iraqi government, after which a payment schedule is negotiated. Only then can the Defense Department begin to procure the requested equipment—which itself takes time.... There has been no shortage of attempts to streamline weapons acquisition. Since 1975, at least 129 studies have been conducted on how to reform the process and make it more rational and responsive. Few of the recommendations have had any lasting impact, though. A March 2006 GAO report found that for the largest acquisition programs, the average estimated development time has risen from 11 years to 14 years. Even if you could design an F-22 in a single day, it would still take years to prepare the paperwork to win funding and more years of operational tests before the plane could go into full-scale production.91


Open-source asymmetric warfare networks, by making ad hoc use of off-theshelf technology, are able to develop weapons that rival in sophistication the products of years of military R&D. As Cory Doctorow notes, cheap technologies which can be modularized and mixed-and-matched for any purpose are just lying around. “...[T]he market for facts has crashed. The Web has reduced the marginal cost of discovering a fact to $0.00.” He cites Robb’s notion that “[o]pen source insurgencies don’t run on detailed instructional manuals that describe tactics and techniques.” Rather, they just run on “plausible premises.” You just
91 Robert N. Charette, “Open-Source Warfare,” IEEE Spectrum, <>.





put out the plausible premise—i.e., the suggestion based on your gut intuition, based on current technical possibilities, that something can be done—that IEDs can kill enemy soldiers, and then anyone can find out how to do it via the networked marketplace of ideas, with virtually zero transaction costs.
But this doesn’t just work for insurgents — it works for anyone working to effect change or take control of her life. Tell someone that her car has a chip-based controller that can be hacked to improve gas mileage, and you give her the keywords to feed into Google to find out how to do this, where to find the equipment to do it — even the firms that specialize in doing it for you. In the age of cheap facts, we now inhabit a world where knowing something is possible is practically the same as knowing how to do it. This means that invention is now a lot more like collage than like discovery.

Doctorow mentions Bruce Sterling’s reaction to the innovations developed by the protagonists of his (Doctorow’s) Makers: “There’s hardly any engineering. Almost all of this is mash-up tinkering.” Or as Doctorow puts it, it “assembles rather than invents.”
It’s not that every invention has been invented, but we sure have a lot of basic parts just hanging around, waiting to be configured. Pick up a $200 FPGA chip-toaster and you can burn your own microchips. Drag and drop some code-objects around and you can generate some software to run on it. None of this will be as efficient or effective as a bespoke solution, but it’s all close enough for rock-n-roll.92

Murray Bookchin anticipated something like this back in the 1970s, writing in Post-Scarcity Anarchism:
Suppose, fifty years ago, that someone had proposed a device which would cause an automobile to follow a white line down the middle of the road, automatically and even if the driver fell asleep.... He would have been laughed at, and his idea would have been called preposterous.... But suppose someone called for such a device today, and was willing to pay for it, leaving aside the question of whether it would actually be of any genuine use whatever. Any number of concerns would stand ready to contract and build it. No real invention would be required. There are thousands of young men in the country to whom the design of such a device would be a pleasure. They would simply take off the shelf some photocells, thermionic tubes, servo-mechanisms, relays, and, if urged, they would build what they call a breadboard model, and it would work. The point is that the presence of a host of versatile, reliable, cheap gadgets, and the presence of men who understand all their cheap ways, has rendered the building of automatic devices almost straightforward and routine. It is no longer a question of whether they can be built, it is a question of whether they are worth building.93
92 Cory Doctorow, “Cheap Facts and the Plausible Premise,” Locus Online, July 5, 2009 < Perspectives/2009/07/cory-doctorow-cheap-facts-andplausible.html>. 93 Murray Bookchin, “Toward a Liberatory Technology,” in Post-Scarcity Anarchism (Berkeley, Calif.: The Ramparts Press, 1971), pp. 49-50.



Among the practical results are the so-called “Assassin’s Mace” weapons, which simply take the same off-the-shelf components used by the state and make better use of them. The term initially appeared in the press in the context of cheap black boxes broadcasting on multiple frequencies and capable of disrupting the expensive American air-to-surface missiles which knock out SAM sites by homing in on radar signals. But it refers, more broadly, to all cases of ephemeralization where a countermeasure can knock out a weapons system costing several orders of magnitude more: “asymmetric power... allow[s] cheap things to undo expensive ones.”
The Pentagon defines the Maces as technologies that might afford an inferior military an advantage in a conflict with a superior power. In this view, an Assassin’s Mace is anything which provides a cheap means of countering an expensive weapon. Other examples might include Chinese anti-satellite weapons, which might instantly knock out U.S. space assets, or a conventional ballistic missile, designed to take out a supercarrier and all its aircraft in one hit. It’s an interesting contrast to the perspective of the American arms industry, which can end up spending vast amounts countering low-tech, low-cost threats like mines and IEDs.94

As an example of the comparative agility of self-organized networks and bureaucratic hierarchies, in carrying out similar tasks, consider Yochai Benkler’s treatment of Napster:
Imagine for a moment that someone—be it a legislator defining a policy goal or a businessperson defining a desired device—had stood up in mid-1999 and set the following requirements: “We would like to develop a new music and movie distribution system. We would like it to store all the music and movies ever digitized. We would like it to be available from anywhere in the world. We would like it to be able to serve tens of millions of users at any given moment.” Any person at the time would have predicted that building such a system would cost tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars; that running it would require large standing engineering staffs; that managing it so that users could find what they wanted and not drown in the sea of content would require some substantial number of “curators”—DJs and movie buffs—and that it would take at least five to ten years to build. Instead, the system was built cheaply by a wide range of actors, starting with Shawn Fanning’s idea and implementation of Napster. Once the idea was out, others perfected the idea further, eliminating the need for even the one centralized feature that Napster included—a list of who had what files on which computer that provided the matching function in the Napster network. Since then, under the pressure of suits from the recording industry and a steady and persistent demand for peer-to-peer music software, rapid successive generations of Gnutella, and then the FastTrack clients KaZaa and Morpheus, Overnet and eDonkey, the improvements of BitTorrent, and many others
94 David Hambling, “China Looks to Undermine U.S. Power, With ’Assassin’s Mace,’”, July 2, 2009 <>.


have enhanced the reliability, coverage, and speed of the peer-to-peer music distribution—all under constant threat of litigation, fines, police searches, and even, in some countries, imprisonment of the developers or users of these networks.95

As we observed earlier in the case of the World Wide Web, this file-sharing architecture developed by the cumulative stigmergic efforts of individuals is something that could hardly have been conceived, let alone accomplished, by any unitary institution. The difference in agility is even more apparent in the respective ways the file-sharing movement and the recording industry handled their mutual conflict.
At the labels, each decision needs to be analyzed and approved by the executives. Meanwhile, the P2P networks are reacting at blazing speed, constantly mutating and staying a step ahead of the labels. Containing this series of mutations is like capturing mercury. You put down Napster, Kazaa pops up. You get rid of Kazaa, Kazaa Lite emerges, and so forth. Although the small P2P companies don’t have many resources at their disposal, they’re able to react and mutate at a frighteningly quick pace.96


Systems Disruption

The dynamics of competition between networks and hierarchies lead to what John Robb calls “systems disruption.” Networks, despite much smaller resources than those which hierarchies can field, are able to leverage those resources through focused attacks on key nodes or weak points that achieve incapacitation many times greater than the apparent damage. Because of their agility and the nature of network organization itself, they are able to route around damage much faster than hierarchies. But perhaps the most important advantage of networks is the way hierarchies respond to attack. Hierarchies typically respond to network attacks by adopting policies that hasten their own destruction. Brafman and Backstrom stated the general principle, as we saw earlier, that “when attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized.” On the other hand, “when attacked, centralized organizations tend to become even more centralized.”97 Hierarchies respond to attacks by becoming even more hierarchical: more centralized, more authoritarian, and more brittle. As a result they become even less capable of responding flexibly to future attacks, actively suppressing their own ability to respond effectively. Al Qaeda has adopted an explicit strategy of “open-source warfare,” using relatively low-cost and low-risk attacks, whose main damage will come not from the attacks but from the U.S. government’s reaction to them. In its slick English language e-zine Inspire, aimed at an American readership, it announced:
95 Benkler,

The Wealth of Networks, pp. 84-85. and Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider, p. 41. 97 Ibid., p. 139.
96 Brafman

To bring down America we do not need to strike big. ...[With the] security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch.


Robb, in the blog post from which the quote above was excerpted, cited additional material from Inspire on the thinking behind the recent parcel bomb attack:
Al Qaeda’s choice of a demonstration was to use parcel bombs (called Operation Hemorrhage—a classic name for a systems disruption attack). These low cost parcel bombs, were inserted into the international air mail system to generate a security response by western governments. It worked. The global security response to this new threat was massive.... Part of effective systems disruption is a focus on ROI (return on investment) calculations.98

And Al Qaeda, in its commentary at Inspire, made it clear that ROI calculations were very much on its mind:
Two Nokia phones, $150 each, two HP printers, $300 each, plus shipping, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses add up to a total bill of $4,200. That is all what Operation Hemorrhage cost us. . . On the other hand this supposedly ’foiled plot’, as some of our enemies would like to call [it], will without a doubt cost America and other Western countries billions of dollars in new security measures.99

So Al Qaeda’s deliberate strategy is pretty much to goad the U.S. into doing something stupid—usually a safe gamble. Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn explicitly stated in a March 2010 video statement, that the U.S. government’s response to “failed” attacks, and the resulting economic damage, was their whole point:
Even failed attacks can help the jihadists by “bring[ing] major cities to a halt, cost[ing] the enemy billions, and send[ing] his corporations into bankruptcy.” Failed attacks, simply put, can themselves be successes. This is precisely why AQAP devoted an entire issue of Inspire to celebrating terror attempts that killed nobody.

All the other supposedly “failed” attacks on air travel have been resounding successes, by this standard. From Richard Reed’s “shoe bomb” to the alleged liquid explosives in shampoo bottles, to the so-called “underwear bomber” on Christmas 2009, every single failed attack results in an enormously costly and reactive knee-jerk TSA policy—resulting in increased inefficiencies and slowdowns and ever more unpleasant conditions for travelers—to prevent that specific mode of attack from ever happening again. It doesn’t matter whether it works or not, or if the person attempting it is a complete and total dickhead. So we have to take off our shoes, leave our shampoo and bottled water at home—and most recently, choose between being ogled and groped. Every such new measure
98 John Robb, “Open Source Jihad,” Global Guerrillas, November 21, 2010 < globalguerrillas/2010/11/note-on-innovation-inwarfare.html>. 99 Quoted in Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Foreign Policy, November 23, 2010 <>.



amounts to a new tax on air travel, and results in yet another small but significant group of travelers on the margin deciding it’s the last straw. After the TSA required checked baggage to be screened, for example, air travel dropped by 6% between 4th Quarter 2002 and 1st Quarter 2003.100 Air travel on Thanksgiving 2010 was down about a tenth from the figure in 2009, which probably owes something to the public furor over the new body scanners and “enhanced patdowns.” It’s only a matter of time till some Al Qaeda cell is smart enough to allow one its agents to get “caught” with explosives in his rectum (or her vagina), and—if TSA reacts according to pattern—the whole civil aviation system dissolves into chaos. The same approach is shared by bureaucracies in the “peaceful” world of corporations, universities and government agencies, as described (in the case of an academic science department) by blogger “thoreau”:
If you make it costly to go through Official Channels, people will find ways to do things outside of Official Channels. Most of what they do will be harmless. However, some of it won’t be. By driving the activity underground you guarantee the following: 1) Harmful activities will not be spotted except through chance or when there’s An Incident. And we all know what bureaucracies do when there’s An Incident. 2) There will be no chance to work with people on making their activities safe, because they won’t come to you in advance. The only chance you’ll have to talk to them is when they get caught by chance (at which point they’ll be more focused on doing a better job of keeping secrets) or when there’s An Incident (at which point their main concern will be deflection of blame). 3) The institutional culture will develop an even greater disdain for Rules and even (in many cases) for Safety. Given the realities of how these things work out so frequently, disdain for Rules and even Safety (in most cases) is largely a healthy thing. However, to the extent that a bureaucrat actually values these things, that bureaucrat should try to make it so that doing things through Official Channels is cheaper than skipping Official Channels. That’s your only hope of getting people to actually respect these things. Well, there’s also fear, but fear isn’t respect. It’s mindless, panicked compliance, and it can fade over time, or motivate people to find even better evasive tactics. Another thought on when there’s An Incident: Besides all of the usual problems with incentives and information in large institutions, it occurs to me that size guarantees that the people responsible for Safety, Compliance, and related matters will be separated from the people on the ground doing whatever it is that the organization is allegedly there to do. Consequently, the person who enforces a ridiculous rule, or who makes you sit through a useless presentation full of statements that are at best insulting and at worst factually wrong, will
100 Nate Silver, “The Hidden Costs of Extra Security,” Nate Silver’s Political Calculus (NYT), November 18, 2010 <>

not be having lunch with you. Often the local enforcers (especially people whose primary task is something other than Safety) are more reasonable than the distant enforcers because, frankly, they need to be. Yes, their access to local information leads to smarter decisions, and they have at least some sort of incentive to see that the job gets done (whereas the distant enforcers only care about Compliance). But they also can’t afford to piss everyone else off (too much) because they will be having lunch with everyone else. If they insult everyone else with a boring and factually wrong Powerpoint, they’ll be ostracized.101


Hierarchies degrade their own effectiveness in another way, as well: by becoming less capable of preventing future attacks. 9/11, as Robb pointed out, was a Black Swan event: i.e., it was a one-off occurrence that could not have been predicted with any degree of confidence, and which is unlikely to be repeated. And most subsequent new kinds of attack, like the “shoe bomber” and “underwear bomber,” were of similar nature. The surveillance state, in increasing the scope of its data collection in order to anticipate such events, simply increases the size of the haystack relative to the needle and generates lost of false positives. Even when there is fairly high quality, actionable intelligence specifically pointing to some imminent threat, like the warning from the underwear bomber’s uncle, the system is so flooded with noise that it doesn’t notice the signal. Given the very large pool of individuals who are generally sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s cause or who fit some generic “terrorist” personality profile, and given the very small number of people who are actively and deliberately involved in planning terror attacks, it’s inevitable that genuinely dangerous suspects will be buried 99.9-to-0.1 in a flood of false positives. As Matt Yglesias argues,
Out of the six billion people on the planet only a numerically insignificant fraction are actually dangerous terrorists. Even if you want to restrict your view to one billion Muslims, the math is the same. Consequently, tips, leads and the like are overwhelmingly going to be pointing to innocent people. You end up with a system that’s overwhelmed and paralyzed. If there were hundreds of thousands of alQaeda operatives trying to board planes every year, we’d catch lots of them. But we’re essentially looking for needles in haystacks.102 ...the key point about identifying al-Qaeda operatives is that there are extremely few al-Qaeda operatives so (by Bayes’ theorem) any method you employ of identifying al-Qaeda operatives is going to mostly reveal false positives.... ...If you have a 99.9 percent accurate method of telling whether or not a given British Muslim is a dangerous terrorist, then apply it to all 1.5 million British Muslims, you’re going to find 1,500 dangerous terrorists in the UK. But nobody thinks there are anything like 1,500 dangerous terrorists in the UK. I’d be very surprised if there were as many as 15. And if there are 15, that means your 99.9 percent accurate method is going to get you a suspect pool that’s overwhelmingly
101 Thoreau, “Continuing observations on bureaucratic organizations,” Unqualified Offerings, September 16, 2011 <>. 102 Matthew Yglesias, “Too Much Information,” Think Progress, December 28, 2009 <>.

org/2009/12/very-rare-terrorists-are-very-hard-to-find/>. just to really make the lesson as dramatic as possible. I will be the first to say that the student should be severely chastised and learn a very harsh lesson. What did the student learn? The student learned that if you get caught people will do stupid things. One joker even tried to ban food from the room before I pushed back. (In fact. the refrigerator was NOT in a lab. but because the student needs to learn good habits if he is going to avoid truly dangerous situations. thoreau continued: I don’t think that safety in the lab is a joke.72 CHAPTER 2. Eli. Again. A refrigerator that was in fact in an office. Not because there was anything remotely dangerous about the situation.” Think Progress. and learning from other people’s experiences with similar apparatuses) is the one auditioning for a Darwin Award. As if that had anything to do with this.” In response. Please re-read that sentence as many times as you deem necessary. NETWORKS VS. the room was NOT a laboratory. It was a shared office area. and that anybody who relies on the safety officers to tell him how to be safe (as opposed to learning everything he can about the apparatus that he’s using. or to prevent attacks through standard103 Yglesias. the response was to take away the refrigerator. A refrigerator that was NOT in a laboratory room. The teachable moment was tainted. This refrigerator was NOT in a lab. do you know what the response was? Some idiot pointed out that a student had died in a fire in a chemistry lab at another school. and the very tiny pool of operatives it can draw from. I think that most of the safety training sessions that I’ve sat through were worthless. Jackson might get involved. I was hoping that Samuel L. I think that clowns who say “Look! Somebody almost died in some other context!” as soon as somebody criticizes a safety rule (I’ve dealt with such people) are the ones who lack the critical thinking ability to think through a situation and make good choices. recounting a serious accident caused by “a physicist who thought he knew what he was doing. apparently equating bureaucratic safety rules with safety considerations as such.103 One commenter. that many of the procedures are more focused on covering bureaucratic ass than on helping people do things safely. 2009 <http://yglesias. HIERARCHIES composed of innocent people. . A student once left a harmless chemical in a refrigerator that had food.) Instead. makes it essentially impossible to come up with viable methods for identifying those operatives. And when I said that this was stupid. “Very Rare Terrorists are Hard to Find. At this point it is customary for somebody to point out that a person once died or nearly died in some other situation.thinkprogress. December 31. Again. earnestly reminded thoreau of the importance of safety. As if that had anything to do with this. All of this together means that attempts to anticipate and prevent terror attacks through the bloated surveillance state. The weakness of al-Qaeda’s movement. and say something about the path of the righteous man.

all the major failed terror attacks in the U. December 2.4.” Techdirt. were thwarted by the vigilance and initiative of passengers directly in contact with the situation.html>.” amount to nothing more than an elaborate—but practically worthless—feel-good ritual (no pun intended).com/globalguerrillas/ 2010/08/global-guerrilla-julianassange. in a juxtaposition of articles that probably wasn’t coincidental (even the titles are almost identical).com/articles/20101130/03585512056/how-usresponse-turns-failed-terrrorist-attacks-into-successes. “How The Response To Wikileaks Is Exactly What Assange Wants. December 2. very different) distributed threat.2. open system. The underwear bomber was stopped by passengers who took the initiative to jump out of their seats and take the guy down. “security theater.techdirt. achieving defense in depth with the “last mile” becomes monumentally important: having people downstream capable of recognizing and thwarting the attempt. government’s response to Wikileaks is directly analogous to the TSA’s response to Al Qaeda attacks on civil aviation and the RIAA’s response to file-sharing.. For example Mike Masnick of Techdirt. And.techdirt.. runs smack into a decentralized. 106 Masnick.typepad.shtml>.” Global Guerrillas. Perhaps the best recent example of systems disruption is Wikileaks..It’s what happens when a centralized system. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. in both cases.S. built around “How The US Response Turns ’Failed’ Terrorist Attacks Into Successes. August 15. “Julian Assange.shtml>. 104 Robb. based on locking up information and creating artificial barriers. the expected (and almost inevitable) response seems to play directly into the plans of those behind the threat. whose founder Julian Assange Robb describes as “one of the most important innovators in warfare today. and with the freedom to use their own discretion in stopping it. 2010 <http://www. For those who are trying to understand why this whole story reminds me of what’s happened in the entertainment industry over the past decade. wrote on the same day that “the TSA’s security policies are exactly what Al Qaeda wants. 2010 <http://www.” Techdirt. SYSTEMS DISRUPTION 73 ized policies like shoe removal and “enhanced patdowns. 105 Mike Masnick. And the official response to every failed terror attack has been to further restrict the initiative and discretion of passengers in direct contact with the situation.S. when it is actually made.. It’s the placebo effect—or in Bruce Schneier’s memorable phrase.. Since 9/11. but it also includes governments. . It’s why I’ve been saying for years that the reason I’ve spent so much time discussing the music industry is because it was an early warning sign of the types of challenges that were going to face almost every centralized industry or organization out there.”104 A number of commentators have noted that the U.”105 and that both the TSA and Wikileaks stories showed how a system based on centralization responds to a (very.106 Assange’s stated goal is to destroy or degrade the effectiveness of hierarchies. note the similarities. .” When your system for anticipating attacks upstream is virtually worthless. That included all sorts of other industries.

(It would be remarkable if the people who routinely dismiss “conspiracy theories” would not admit the phenomenon Assange describes.pdf>. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax") and consequent systemwide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption. by their nature induce opponents. he reasons. his chief of secret police. mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance. Reproduced at <http://cryptome. As it tries to plug its own holes and find the leakers. failing to articulate those goals to itself deprives the organization of its ability to process and advance them. is only the catalyst for the desired counter-overreaction. .wordpress. how is it to communicate.74 CHAPTER 2. November 29. “Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy: ’To destroy this invisible government. make decisions. discipline itself. de-link from the central processing network. articulating them openly exposes them to resistance. the Antichrist-figure in charge of a post-apocalyptic regime ruled from Las Vegas. but by their own responses to attack.. Wikileaks wants to provoke the conspiracy into turning off its own brain in response to the threat. and transform itself to meet new challenges? The answer is: by controlling information flows. Somewhere in the middle. the less able it will be to “think” as a system. Hence in a world where leaking is easy. and therefore find it necessary to conceal their operations to some extent.’” zunguzungu. But at the same time. This means that “the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside gaze). 108 Aaron Bady. Robson let several of the good guys’ spies escape to report back to their compatriots in the Boulder Free 107 Julian Assange. secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open. for the authoritarian conspiracy. 2006. and in many places barely have the upper hand. He starts by describing as “conspiratorial” authoritarian institutions which encounter resistance to their>. 108 There’s a great scene in Stephen King’s The Stand. if the organization has goals that can be articulated. After all. 2010 <http://zunguzungu. “The Non-Linear Effects of Leaks on Unjust Systems of Governance. where Randall Flagg. the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.) The more secretive or unjust an organization is.107 Blogger Aaron Bady describes the double bind into which this imperative puts an authoritarian institution: The problem this creates for the government conspiracy then becomes the organizational problem it must solve: if the conspiracy must operate in just systems. to communicate with itself. is the right balance of authority and conspiracy. confronts Paul Robeson. and come undone.. its component elements will de-synchronize from and turn against each other. Since unjust systems.” December 31.” The leak. plan. NETWORKS VS. HIERARCHIES not through direct damage from attack.

is analogous to the effect of Alzheimer’s Disease on the human brain. to suppress leaks and tighten up internal control. which clearly excludes big bureaucracies. is probably impossible in the long run. Which is to say. so that the loss of any one node can’t disable the whole network.” Robeson wasn’t on the “need to know” list. with highly convoluted celllike structures. The Obama campaign more or less managed it with a staff of 500.. The first. but.2..4. The end is not embarrassment. so that people’s ties to one another and the leadership act as a powerful check against leaking. But the record of presidential campaigns (one industry where the pressure to leak has been intense for years) suggests that’s about the upper limit of what’s possible. a huge tax on internal coordination. in effect. SYSTEMS DISRUPTION 75 Zone—only because he wasn’t on the cc list for Flagg’s list of “persons of interest. he is trying to strangle the links that make the conspiracy possible. or the information they see on a regular basis. the way to get less of something is to tax it. Flagg held his cards too close to his chest because he didn’t trust his subordinates. a degrading of synaptic connections within the hierarchical organization..” In language much like Assange himself. to expose the necessary porousness of the American state’s conspiratorial network in hopes that the security state will then try to shrink its computational network in response. There are two options for dealing with this. much less what colleagues spend their days doing. it should be small enough to avoid wide-scale alienation. So public embarrassment resulting from the cable leaks is not the end. Which leaves the second option: .to shrink. as any economist will tell you.Assange is not trying to produce a journalistic scandal which will then provoke red-faced government reforms or something. but the means to the end.. he argues that as an organization grows. My gut says it’s next to impossible to accomplish this with more than a few hundred people. . thanks 109 Ibid. And. I have no idea what size organization is optimal for preventing leaks. I’d guess that most organizations a generation from now will be pretty small by contemporary standards. Instead. It may well lead to their extinction. Large numbers of people within the organization may not even know one another’s name. As a practical matter. thereby making itself dumber and slower and smaller.. precisely because no one is all that scandalized by such things any more. the pool of potential leakers grows at the very same time as their personal bonds of loyalty to each other and the organization weaken. but the authoritarian state’s reaction to such embarrassment: . you’d want to stay small enough to preserve a sense of community. Hence Wikileaks is. There will be redundant layers of security and activity.109 The effect. presumably. Noam Scheiber at The New Republic argues that Wikileaks is “about dismantling large organizations—from corporations to government bureaucracies. Ideally. that means the days of bureaucracies in the tens of thousands of employees are probably numbered.

of course.3 to 7 percent will overcome the laborpooling and transportation savings advantage of concentrating population sufficiently to compel the city to move to a lower population equilibrium. will become increasingly hollow. In James C. Robb. HIERARCHIES to Wikileaks. The power of exit will reinforce the power of voice. and too stylized to do justice to the world that they purport to describe. the organizations of the future will look a lot like .” so long as the complexity of the problems they faced was not insupportable. . a “terrorism tax” of 6. .110 Recall our discussion above of the “secrecy tax” which self-censorship and internal authoritarianism imposes on hierarchies.”112 110 Noam Scheiber. NETWORKS VS. In particular. “The categories that they employ are too coarse. simply put. Scott. December 27. as they find themselves competing with networks for the loyalty of their workers. there were significant efficiency tradeoffs in return for control. even without intentionally malicious attacks by networks on hierarchies. Seeing Like a State. in which some will be supplanted from outside by networks. the excess costs imposed on hierarchies by the imperatives of conflict with hostile networks will act as a tax on them. both state and corporate. This natural selection process is>. and policy changes needed to protect against attacks. p. Brave New War. too static. and increased transaction costs of enforcing the law. 111 Robb. Wikileaks. and capable of functioning based on Weberian rules and “best practices. faced with pressure from systems disruption. will function as a disobedience tax. and some (those which survive) will become more network-like under outside pressure. 112 James C. the advantages of hierarchy will be outweighed by the disadvantages at a lower size threshold. hierarchical institutions of the 20th century were more or less workable. “Why Wikileaks Will Kill Big Business and Big Government. Large hierarchical institutions. insurance. Hierarchies are entering a very brutal period of natural selection.111 Similarly.tnr. 262. Hierarchies will face pressure to become less authoritarian internally. in Brave New War. Scott’s terminology. Eric Raymond argues that the prevailing bureaucratic. A terrorism tax above a certain level will force the city to transition to a lower market equilibrium (read: shrink). The hierarchies which survive will be those which. rendering the areas managed by hierarchies “legible” to those at the top entailed a level of abstraction and oversimplification that severely limited the functionality of the leadership’s understanding of the world. refers to a “terrorism tax” on a city resulting from an accumulation of excess costs inflicted on a city’s stakeholders by acts of terrorism. And increased levels of disobedience and disregard of government authority.” The New Republic.76 CHAPTER 2. As a result. unable to enforce their paper claims to authority. . These include direct costs inflicted on the city by terrorists (systems sabotage) and indirect costs because of the security. 2010 <http://www. p. Even in those days. compelling them to move to a lower size equilibrium. adapt (in Eric Raymond’s phrase) by decentralizing their functions and hardening their local components. 109.

343-344. and specialized knowledge known only to those actually doing the work must be eradicated—not only to make the organization simple enough to be manageable by a finite number of standard rules. pp. . For one thing. hierarchies’ responses to network attacks are self-destructive in another way besides the “secrecy tax.. in the mid-20th century. 114 Ibid. It is also practical knowledge of the social terrain within the organization. as opposed to techne.2. January 5. Bureaucratic micromanagement. But today. between them. The proper functioning of any organization depends heavily on what Friedrich Hayek called “distributed knowledge.. from the hierarchy’s perspective they are necessary tradeoffs for the sake of acquiring and maintaining power.” They undermine their own perceived legitimacy in the eyes of the public. decimate the human capital of the organization113 —much like the eradication of social memory in elephant herds where a large enough portion of the elderly matriarchs have been destroyed to disrupt the transmission of social mores. SYSTEMS DISRUPTION 77 And the process of rendering the functioning of the managed areas legible.ibiblio. also entailed disabling or hindering a great deal of the human capital on which an organization depended for optimal functioning. 115 Eric Raymond. But if Gosplan and Bob McNamara could manage to stumble along back then.” Armed and Dangerous. practical knowledge of the work process. 334-337. “Escalating Complexity and the Collapse of Elite Authority. managerial organizations to manage. the policies of bureaucratic hierarchies have always been made by people who “ignore the radical contingency of the future” and fail to account for the possibility of incomplete knowledge. For all these efficiency losses. the level of unsupportable complexity in recent decades has outstripped the ability of hierarchical. and the network of personal relationships it’s necessary to navigate in order to get anything done.115 Meanwhile. 2010 <http://esr. 113 Ibid. was such that it could be managed—if not effectively. interference. to levels with which only a stigmergic organization can cope. through standard operating procedures and best practices. As Scott points out.114 But contingency and incompleteness have increased exponentially in recent years. and downsizing. which cannot be reduced to a verbal formula and transmitted apart from practical experience of the>. As Martin van Creveld argued. they undermine their moral legitimacy by behaving in ways that directly contradict their legitimizing rhetoric. when the strong fight the weak they become weak—in large part because the public can’t stomach the knowledge of what pp. Reality must be abstracted into a simple picture. at least more or less adequately—by the meritocratic managerial classes using Weberian-Taylorist rules to govern large bureaucratic organizations. Scott uses the Greek term metis. Eric Raymond argues that the level of complexity in American society.” It is direct. but because the information rents entailed in tacit/distributed knowledge render the lower levels less easily milked.” and what Michael Polanyi called “tacit knowledge.4. the complexity of problems faced by society has become so insupportable that hierarchies are simply incapable of even passably coping with it.

indirect rule through multinational agencies. and of course the development of new technologies such as the Internet. global cities. NETWORKS VS. with the Israelis in the role of bad guys. Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. lifelong learning. the growing importance of groups such as the G8 and G20. Every attack against a hierarchy.S. p. military has attempted to duplicate the agility of open-source organization by incorporating networked elements into its doctrine and practice. contracting-out. use of local subsidiaries. And ever since the 70s the system has been trying to find hybrids of network and hierarchy which will harness and capture the power of networks without leading to “chaos” or system-breakdown. In the medium term. the Nixon Doctrine. amplified by the media. The U. which is their “plausible premise”—their ability to deliver the goods in return for loyalty and compliance. The public support on which the long-run viability of any system of power depends is eroded by loss of morale. We see this across a range of fields: just-in-time production. . The reason is that when the strong are seen beating the weak (knocking down doors. This view...5 The Transition from Hierarchies to Networks New Wine in Old Bottles. 2. But more importantly. roughing up people of interest. It’s one thing to sell one’s soul to the Devil in return for a set of perks. full spectrum dominance..116 We saw this with the public reaction to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. And every video of an Israeli bulldozer flattening a Palestinian home with screaming mother and children outside undermines the “beleaguered Israeli David vs.. joined-up governance. business networks. Revolution in Military Affairs. the Nazis.. The “David vs. and capital and the state will either go down fighting or 116 John Robb.78 CHAPTER 2. And this is part of a larger phenomenon: an attempt by hierarchical institutions to coopt the potential of networked organization for their own benefit. 28. networked resistance undermines the main source of legitimacy for all authoritarian institutions. to which it demonstrates its inability to respond effectively. but was suffering problems from certain kinds of structural weaknesses in relation to networks—the American defeat in Vietnam being especially important. will eventually eat away at the state’s ability to maintain moral cohesion and drastically damage its global image. HIERARCHIES goes into their sausage. the loss of power to networks is probably irreversible.. 2007). they are considered to be barbarians. But when the Devil is unable to deliver the goods. he’s in trouble. Goliath” paradigm is replaced by one of the Warsaw Ghetto vs. As Andy Robinson describes it: I think part of the crisis of the 70s has to do with networks and hierarchies. outsourcing and downsizing. The “old” system was highly hierarchical. and shooting ragtag guerrillas). undermines its grounds for expecting loyalty. Arab Goliath” mystique on which so much third party support depended.

Unfortunately for them. But because the theories are put into practice by bosses. May 25. I also expect the deterritorialised areas to spread. this is not even an option if it is centrally controlled. Given the examples of pork and insider dealing in government contracts. THE TRANSITION FROM HIERARCHIES TO NETWORKS create more-or-less stable intermediary forms which allow them to persist for a time. the Pentagon has made a number of attempts to speed up the acquisitions process. for example. NWFP.. Brave New War. The way I see the crisis deepening is that large areas will drift outside state and capitalist but the former is more predominant. which offers 117 Andy Robinson. As John Robb describes it. in both military and business affairs. when hierarchies attempt to incorporate network elements. By their nature. This creates a situation of dependence and a sloughing off of responsibility. states desire complete control over security (a de facto security monopoly). the ecological effects of extraction. the Andes. the culture of a bureaucratic hierarchy is totally at odds with the needs of networked organization: Affordable.html>.S...0. the neoliberal closing of mediations which formerly There are a thousand and one management theory fads out there about flattening hierarchies. 2009 <http://listcultures. No matter how well the theorists understand the need to become more network-like. in every case they wind up looking like warmed-over Taylorism.. and the growing stratum of people excluded either because of the small number of jobs available or the growing set of requirements for conformity. p. integrated marginally or not at all (this is already happening at sites such as Afghanistan. Efficiently Allocated..5. such attempts usually fail despite the understanding of their designers because their implementation depends on traditional hierarchies that are jealous of threats to their prerogatives. while using artificial property rights to coopt the networks for their own purposes. Broad-based and participatory. and all the rest of it. has established a Rapid Fielding Initiative to try to shorten the time it takes to get requested equipment to soldiers. self-management.118 We see the same result in all areas of life. Getting back to the military case: Faced with the crisis in Iraq.” P2P Research email list. 163. etc. Army. The U. empowerment. Eventually these marginal spaces will become sites of a proliferation of new forms of living. .. and in a local way in shanty-towns and autonomous centres). the people actually running the hierarchies are simply unable to keep their hands off.117 79 Such efforts include attempts by corporate business enterprises to incorporate network elements through such fads as the Wikified Firm and Enterprise 2. commandist. “[p2p research] Berardi essay. as a result of the concentration of resources in global cities.. Somalia. That has enabled the deployment of the Advanced Combat Helmet. We are already seeing the beginnings of the latter. Government-mandated systems and services are unlikely to produce anything within reason that is affordable. 118 Robb. and a pole of attraction compared to the homogeneous. coercive core.

and an improved first-aid kit for treating bleeding and removing airway obstructions. No sustained attempt has been made to create an insurgent-resilient model of acquisition.80 CHAPTER 2. These machines are probably the closest thing to an ”insurgent-resilient” weapons system that the West has. the Pentagon’s current ”cathedral” approach will envelop robots.. What all this likely means is that when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan finally end.. ”That’s likely to kill many of the innovations now in use on the battlefield.” says Rand Corp. vice president Thomas McNaugher. The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force identifies unconventional commercial products that may be of use on the battlefield. they are still considered prototypes in the R&D phase.” That process allowed warheads for the thermobaric Hellfire missile. laser.. like the PackBot and the unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs).The danger is that as the cost and complexity of the robots grow. comfort. to be developed in just 60 days. and any other interesting technology developed in the heat of battle. The companies that design the robots tend to be small. Industrial leaf blowers. which have proved invaluable in Iraq and elsewhere. The Pentagon is also now granting certain high-priority projects ”rapid-acquisition authority.. This means taking advantage of the possibilities new communications technology offers to “enable decentralized operation due to better informed 119 Charette. a fouraircraft package of Reapers carries a price tag of nearly $70 million. UCAVs. some 3000 smaller ground robots have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. and radar targeting as well as four air-to-ground Hellfire missiles and two 500pound bombs. “Open-Source Warfare. And so. are now being strapped on to vehicles to blow away dirt and debris from hidden bombs. an expert on defense acquisition. Already. for the most part. Then there are the robots. HIERARCHIES better protection. low-altitude surveillance planes to high-altitude. . ”As the war winds down. rather than the year it might have taken. About 1000 unmanned aerial vehicles of various stripes have also been deployed—from hand-launched. they are continually being improved and refitted based on real-world experience. Many of these systems are not being developed as ”programs of record”—although they’re in wide use. entrepreneurial enterprises. such shortcuts in acquisition are mere Band-Aids. remotely piloted Reaper UCAVs equipped with infrared.. Already.. As such. and therefore quick to respond and change. for instance.” .”119 According to John Robb official military doctrines for fourth-generation warfare are aimed at copying the resilience and flexibility of networked adversaries like Al Qaeda. they will cease to be considered ”expendable” assets. and hearing. the forces of standardization will reassert themselves. It’s not hard to imagine the day when UCAVs will end up costing as much and taking as much time to develop as the manned systems they’re intended to replace. used to attack caves and tunnels. The current approach effectively decouples the needs of soldiers on the ground from the process of acquiring the equipment they’ll ultimately get. NETWORKS VS.

Careers are more important than victory. Communication with the population also undergoes thorough oversight. 2009 <http://globalguerrillas. December 8. For some units. emerging 24 to 48 hours after the event. it takes 96 hours for an Army commander to obtain necessary approvals to act. ground movement to dislodge the Taliban requires a colonel’s oversight. our messages have to inch through a press release approval pipeline. more required processes. In the first half of 2009. but maybe next week. Meanwhile. a lieutenant colonel and sometimes a major. The Taliban walk to these villages or drive pickup trucks.Our answer to Afghans seeking help was: “I can’t come today or tomorrow. Combat commanders are required to submit reports in PowerPoint with proper fonts. In my experience.”.. Risk evaluation moves upward in the hierarchy. The red tape isn’t just on the battlefield.5. as applied by the military bureaucracy they mean using the technology instead “to enable more complicated and hierarchical approval processes—more sign offs/approvals.120 Afghan War veteran Jonathan Vaccaro. particularly with the paucity of information that can be accessed at positions removed from the conflict. the Army Special Forces company I was with repeatedly tried to interdict Taliban. These vehicles are so large that they can drive to fewer than half the villages in Afghanistan. however. line widths and colors so that the filing system is not derailed. describes the bureaucratic nightmare in detail: . Small aid projects lag because of multimonth authorization procedures. the Afghan streets are abuzz with Taliban propaganda about the glories of the war against America. but its opening was delayed for more than eight months while paperwork for erecting its protective fence waited in the approval queue. .. in a NYT op-ed. A United States-financed health clinic in Khost Province was built last year. crush dry ones and require wide berth on mountain roads intended for donkeys.” But no matter how sensible (or even brilliant) the doctrines churned out by 4GW experts in the academies. a risk assessment and approval from a colonel. THE TRANSITION FROM HIERARCHIES TO NETWORKS 81 people on the ground..” Global Guerrillas. and higher level oversight. like a 120 John Robb. I have several bosses that I need to ask for permission. Evaluation of risk takes time. traveling in anything other than a 20-ton mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle requires a written justification. When a suicide bomber detonates.2. decisions move through the process of risk mitigation like molasses. I discovered. When the Taliban arrive in a village. By our informal count.” Risk mitigation trumps initiative every time. In eastern Afghanistan.html>.. we (and the Afghan commandos we worked with) were stopped on 70 percent of our attempts because we could not achieve the requisite 11 approvals in They sink into wet roads. “Fighting an Automated Bureaucracy.

82 CHAPTER 2. . insurgents now post videos and descriptions of their attacks online within hours of their occurrence. in an admirable moment of frankness.html>. 2009 <http://www. Navy and Marine Corps.” New York Times. many of which are then picked up and replayed in the global media. In particular. in Israel. . they closely watch fewer than 100—the ones they deem the most hostile. To the extent that the war on network organizations is identified with one hegemonic state or group of states in particular. individual states may aid networked insurgencies against their competitors in order to get a leg up in the interstate competition. Al Qaeda has a media affiliate that produces slick. HIERARCHIES debutante too late for the ball. December 7. the supplantation of hierarchies by networks will be hastened by conflict in the international state 2009/12/08/opinion/08vaccaro. NETWORKS VS. The videos are often encoded in multiple formats.S.” 121 Jonathan Vaccaro. Not all of those sites pose a significant threat. Even though states in general tend to rally in defense of hierarchies against networks. so you can watch them on your cellphone or play them on a big-screen television. “The Next Surge—Counterbureaucracy. we can expect the first signs of a tipping point to create a positive feedback process by which the system in decline fractures internally and hastens its own demise—the cliches “be eaten last” and “sell us the rope to hang them with” come to mind here. Last year.121 Speaking of propaganda efforts and other use of communications media. a team of Pentagon analysts told Congress that of the thousands of jihadist sites they monitor. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.” The number of Web sites run by terrorists climbed from fewer than a dozen in 1997 to nearly 5000 in mid-2006.” . a professor of communications at the University of Haifa. “Open Source Warfare. Air Force. Some insurgents are even shooting in HDTV.122 Interstate Conflict as a Catalyst. Army. Jackson says. 122 Charette. once said “For globalism to work. Tom Friedman.: Many of the insurgent groups in Iraq. who has studied terrorism and the mass media. other states may see furthering networked resistance movements as a weapon against the dominance of the hegemonic state.nytimes. . to the extent that the hegemonic state’s promotion of the hegemony of hierarchies is part of its larger policy of suppressing the emergence of viable state competitors in the international arena. branded video and audio files for online distribution. the tendency of other states to coalesce into an anti-hegemonic alliance will create divide the forces of hierarchy and create breathing room for networks.S. ”are very Internet-savvy in terms of using it as an information-dissemination medium. [Rand’s Brian Jackson] notes. Whereas the mass media used to control access to the public. During the overall transition from networks to hierarchies as the dominant form of social organization. networked insurgents are able to run rings around the U. And likewise. American can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is. according to Gabriel Weimann. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist.

THE TRANSITION FROM HIERARCHIES TO NETWORKS 83 As imposing as the present global corporate order may seem. As Cory Doctorow points out.5. The new constitution’s draft articles include some language on information freedom that offers great hope for addressing digital rights in the future. seek. Therefore states which resist the hegemony of the United States. The idea. The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). and in so doing sets itself up as a stumbling block to Washington’s attempt to impose a DRM Curtain on the world. passed unanimously last June. next time some corporation like Trafigura gets a “super-injunction” against reporting an embarrassing question from an MP in the House of Commons. And it will be a refuge for evading insane libel laws like Britain’s. Might Iceland become a haven for successors to The Pirate Bay. and he takes a decidedly negative view of copyright on principle. receive. And McCarthy knows a number of members of the Althing who favor at least a scaling back of the American maximalist version of digital copyright law. draft Article 26 (current numbering may change) reads: “Everyone can create. store and disseminate information. in close cooperation with Birgitta. etc. But I’m familiar with McCarthy’s writing and the groups he frequents. that means a safe place for people to put Internet servers and host online material that their governments might want to shut down. carrying out reprisals against Wikileaks to the full extent of its powers. It’s only as strong as its weakest link.” In particular. is to make Iceland a “haven for freedom of information. A good example is the decision by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to mandate the use of open-source software in all government agencies. to quote Althing member Birgitta Jonsdottir. or attempt to defy the Washington Consensus. maximalist understanding of “intellectual property” rights. There’s been some speculation as to whether the information freedom agenda will include repudiating the Washington Consensus’s proprietary content industrydriven. we would do well to remember how vulnerable it really is. the .” Remember. In English. freedom of expression and of speech. One of the world’s most powerful information freedom movements has prompted Iceland’s Althing (parliament) to establish Iceland as an information freedom haven. Apparently the folks behind IMMI have decided confronting IP head-on immediately will undermine the rest of their effort. Iceland is emerging as a haven for information freedom. it’s not necessary to repudiate copyright in principle in order to make digital copyright unenforceable. as well as Wikileaks? Taking on IP policy doesn’t seem to be on their immediate public agenda. He specifically mentions the goal of providing webhosting services for whistleblowers and leakers of state secrets. are at least temporarily objective allies. Among the leading activists and organizers behind the initiative. is my online acquaintance Smari McCarthy of the P2P Foundation. introduced over a year ago with widespread support in the Althing.2. The movement behind IMMI includes digital rights as well as information freedom activists. The Washington Consensus has pursued a maximalist position in enforcing digital copyright claims against file-sharing sites.

overcoming adversary states’ attempt to nullify the United States’ strategic advantage through comparatively cheap area denial weapons. treating ISPs as safe harbors. and other countries of the DRM Curtain threatened to turn her into a pariah state. and putting the burden of proof on plaintiffs. by several orders of magnitude. unprecedented since the fall of the old Soviet Empire. A growing number of nations whose forces are overmatched by the United States are fielding these weapons. anti-ship missiles like the Sunburn that can in theory take out aircraft carriers.S. And it’s doubtful whether the courts will be any more compliant with attempts to shut down ISPs in the face of legal threats without due process in cases of alleged “piracy. even without further legislation. The president and his national security team predict that the security challenges of the coming decade will be defined by this threat. That — essentially an application of print copyright law ca. as a top priority. Simply restoring traditional fair use and first sale doctrines. which can slow. Weapons that deny access to superior force or degrade the performance of advanced offensive weapons systems are frequently cheaper. 1980 to digital content — was more or less the import of Spain’s old copyright law. and any business model that depends on stopping people from copying bits is doomed to failure. Even the new Icelandic legal provisions protecting intermediares like ISPs from liability will go a long way toward undermining enforcement. just as the last one was defined by terrorism and insurgency. dis- . HIERARCHIES desktop computer’s a machine for copying bits. for which the U. and Iran’s apparently successful hacking of American surveillance drones. their geopolitical competition with the American bloc may overlap with and reinforce the networked resistance’s emphasis of agility over brute force in all kinds of interesting ways.” than in cases of libel and revealing state secrets. Iceland will be a pretty unfriendly venue for the Copyright Nazis. President Obama’s new military strategy has focused fresh attention on an increasingly important threat: the use of inexpensive weapons like mines and cyberattacks that aim not to defeat the American military in battle but to keep it at a distance. than the weapons they’re deployed against. Such means include the use of mines at maritime chokepoints. The Obama administration’s recent new Strategic Guidance document announced. would kill digital copyright deader than Judas Iscariot. The so-called “Assassin’s Mace” technologies we considered earlier are relevant here. NETWORKS VS. Simply eliminating the content industries’ ability to enlist ISPs as accomplices will be a huge blow.84 CHAPTER 2. Enforcing digital copyright is simply impossible within traditional principles of copyright law. It’s a safe bet that. To the extent that states defying Washington’s hegemony attempt to nullify its advantage in force by resorting to “weapons of the weak” like asymmetric warfare and the kinds of cheap Assassin’s Mace weapons we considered earlier in this chapter. It requires a totalitarian lockdown of the communications media. enforced by a global superpower and its hangers-on.

missiles. a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Iran is also fielding sophisticated mines. “The United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged. ballistic and cruise missiles.” For example. said. which cautioned that these relatively inexpensive measures were spreading to terrorist and guerrilla cells. mines.” the strategy document said. Iran has practiced “swarming” attacks by a number of small. midget submarines and mobile antiship cruise missiles. which the military calls “anti-access. wrote in a recent essay for Foreign Policy. “Iran’s capabilities are best suited for imposing high costs on those who might need to force their way through the Strait of Hormuz. “Iran’s navy — especially the naval arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — has invested in vessels and armaments that are well suited to asymmetric warfare. Obama said the country should invest in “the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access.” become one of the 10 primary missions of the American military.5. It is a lesson that potential enemies drew from the way American public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plummeted as armored vehicles — each costing millions of dollars — were broken and their troops killed and maimed by roadside bombs costing only a few hundred dollars apiece.2. mining and other methods to complicate our operational calculus. fast boats that could be loaded with high explosives. area-denial. managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Mr. advanced air defenses. China has a fleet of diesel-electric attack sub- 85 . rather than the sort of ship-to-ship conflict that Iran would surely lose. At his announcement at the Pentagon last week.” The new strategy specifically orders that efforts to counter the threat. if one such boat got through. electronic jamming and computer-network attacks meant to degrade American advantages in technology and hardware.” Michael Singh.” The potential challenge from China is even more significant. according to the new strategy document. THE TRANSITION FROM HIERARCHIES TO NETWORKS rupt and perhaps even halt an American offensive. in recent exercises by the naval arm of the Revolutionary Guards. China and Iran were identified as the countries that were leading the pursuit of “asymmetric means” to counter American military force. With Chinese and Russian help. Mr. and on those in the region whom the Iranians perceive as being complicit in enabling foreign access. Singh added. Modern war plans can become mired in a bog of air defenses. That will help define how the four armed services compete for shares of a shrinking Pentagon budget. to include electronic and cyberwarfare. according to analysts. “Sophisticated adversaries will use asymmetric capabilities. Nathan Freier. it might blast a hole in the hull of a major American warship.

May 19. which might blunt the accuracy of advanced American munitions guided by satellite. Raymond’s recipe of “decentralizing and hardening. NETWORKS VS. decreasing the number of attack sorties its aircraft could mount in a day and diminishing their effectiveness. hunter-killer drones. identifying and striking an American warship is a complex military operation. 124 Vinay Gupta. A good fictional portrayal of such an approach is the speech by The Major in Daniel Suarez’s Freedom(TM).html>. 2012 <http://www.” The Bucky-Gandhi Design Institution. . which can operate quietly and effectively in waters near China’s shore to threaten foreign>. kill everyone you can find.86 CHAPTER 2. Vinay Gupta coined the term “degovernancing” for the restructuring of institutions or systems to make them less dependent on governance. HIERARCHIES marines. and destroy every vehicle. Perhaps most worrisome is China’s focus on electronic warfare and computer-network attacks. .” 2.and long-range missiles that could put warships at risk. pessimistic about the likely use of hunter-killer drones and other control technologies to root out the Decentralizing and Hardening. to reduce the need for governance in a situation. the idea is a repressive onslaught of surveillance systems. “Pentagon Tries to Counter Low-Cost but Potent Weapons. To buy each child their own version of a toy to reduce fights about sharing is an example of degovernancing. frequently by intentional structural change. In its most dystopian form. . and has layers of radar and surface-to-air missiles along its coast. The cultural memory that they ever existed must be erased. January 9.”125 123 Thom Shanker. 125 Daniel Suarez.” New York Times. crowd-control technologies like microwaves/sonic blasts.124 It overlaps to a considerable extent with Eric S. burn every structure. on the whole. on the eve of an all-out counter-insurgency operation against the network of resilient local communities in Iowa. Finding.nytimes. Without exception. . when the corporate state sees itself as in a desperate enough position to throw off the pretense of democracy and resort to undisguised largescale repression. medium. 2011 <http://vinay. But the thicket of Chinese defenses could oblige an American aircraft carrier and its strike group to operate hundreds of miles farther out to sea. “New word: degovernancing. The knowledge and equipment that makes these communities work must be eradicated.howtolivewiki. . Freedom(TM) . China also fields short-. and psychopharmacological engineering of the enforcement troops to stamp out the alternative economy and enforce a system of global corporate neo-serfdom under the rule of multibillionaires living inside militarized luxury enclaves.6 The Question of Repression I’ve encountered plenty of people who are. “.

They can dominate markets as we are seeing high frequency trading. Hardware bots include everything from flying drones to crawling rats to kill. Drones.2. In short.126 . software and hardware. A perfect. The combination of the two bot systems.” Global Provide an alternative for those unwilling to become economic losers. Drones are already being used increasingly for internal surveillance functions by domestic law enforcement. as a full-blown fascist state. although the data isn’t official yet. and serving in hunter killer roles. And he suggested the possibility that. “Drones in the US of A. Driven by the ability of computational hardware to mimic globalguerrillas/2011/12/drones-in-the-us-of-a. with the actual arrests still being carried out by human boots on the ground. 127 John Robb. November 16. Software bots. bots will increasingly allow a VERY small group of people (in our case.html>. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION 87 John Robb describes the way assorted robotic technologies might be used for such purposes. as governments implode in the face of networked resistance 126 John Robb.” Global Guerrillas. These software bots can also automate interactions with human beings from the simple phone spam/customer service phone tree to interfaces like Siri.. Expect to see them operating in swarms/clouds. .[H]ow do a very. provides the means to automate control of vast populations.127 Vinay Gupta. conducting highly autonomous decision making (including the decision to kill). these bots will be able to do what their counter-parts in nature can do and more (already. I anticipate the majority of “enemy combatants” killed by the US security system in 2011 were killed by drones). Software bots automate information dominance. My good friend Daniel Suarez did a great job of demonstrating how this works in his books Daemon and Freedom. very small group of neo-feudal plutocrats control a global population (of economic losers) in the modern context? Right now? Lawfare and the bureaucracy of the nation-state.typepad.typepad.S.. Long term? Bots. OUR job is to avoid this future. Build resilient communities that can provide independence and defend themselves. privatized solution for an extremely small group of plutocrats (many of whom are pathogenic).html>. December 11. that veneer of legality and constraint will fade and become less effective. in a recent exchange with me on Twitter. a small group of plutocrats that act as the world’s economic central planners) to amplify their power/dominance in a the physical world to a degree never seen before. or incapacitate individuals and/or groups. 2011 <http://globalguerrillas. 2011 <http://globalguerrillas. As things continue to degrade. “Q: How Will Plutocrats Dominate a World? A: Bots. They can do everything from checking purchasing habits to energy use (via smart meters) to social media use o look for “terrorist” signatures. maim. recently argued that the passage of the NDAA (with its provisions for indefinite detention without trial) and the shutdown of Megaupload without due process of law signaled the emergence of the U.6.

guarded. in a variety of geographical areas. and all the users need security clearance. the development of technologies like drones seems to be governed by a sort of analogue to Moore’s Law: drone tech developed today at an R&D cost of billions will likely be available off the shelf five years later at a tiny fraction of the cost. the software to enable drones to employ swarm behavior will improve. UAVs are flown by airmen sitting at comfortable desks on U. the cost of drone technology is plummeting: The cost and size of drones will shrink. As John Robb writes. And the equipment. of varying nationalities and security clearances. cyberwar. thanks to open-source hardware hackers. But the video feed is different. black ops. while networks respond by becoming more agile and resilient. in all sorts of conditions—with everything constantly changing. According to security analyst Bruce Schneier. As for the specifically technological component of the Empire’s strategy for control. So. that networked.88 CHAPTER 2. where key management is simpler. Iraqi militants used commercial technology to eavesdrop on unencrypted video feed from American surveillance drones. NETWORKS VS. both the Predators and the ground terminals. not by an artificial intelligence. transported. It needs to be available to all sorts of people. Nearly everyone will have access to drone tech (autopilots already cost less than $30).because that’s both more important and easier to manage. The command and control channel is. Think in terms of a single . military bases. The interesting part is that the feed was actually unencrypted. as Spain was for WWII. the United States will become embroiled in a desperate World War of counterinsurgency. Key management in this environment would be a nightmare. We’ve already seen. In 2009. We’ve seen that authoritarian hierarchies respond to attack by becoming more authoritarian and hierarchical. Further. but for reasons of efficiency. and always has been.S. blockades. These keys have to be produced. free information havens emerge in places like Iceland. and able to get inside the state’s OODA loop in developing technologies of circumvention faster than the state can develop technologies of control. So are we headed for a likely future in which Skynet and the Terminator HK’s are controlled. and crowd-control technologies to suppress the emerging free order. used and then destroyed. HIERARCHIES movements in countries like Spain and Greece. hunter-killer drones. encrypting the data is the easiest part. key management is the hard part. on a variety of field terminals. and one domino after another in the global South begins to secede from the neoliberal order. not as an oversight by a stupid bureaucracy. encrypted -. Each UAV needs to share a key with the ground station. but by Dick Cheney? I don’t think so. needs to be classified and controlled. stigmergic movements are more agile than authoritarian hierarchies. using air strikes. Any consideration of the repressive use of drones must take into account the possible spread of such technology to the resistance. The street fighting between riot cops and Occupy protesters was just a dress rehearsal. don’t think in terms of a single drone. earlier in this chapter.

building. is yet another example. in response to police repression—for example the use of light infantry tactics to exploit superior mobility against the plodding riot cops. Eileen Walling’s “High Power Microwaves: Strategic and Operational Imperatives for Warfare” (PDF). The technology needed to build these weapons is generally available and inexpensive (numerous experiments. Generally speaking. Robb cites the DIY Drone community.128 89 As evidence. The US military is hard at work designing.” Global Guerrillas. “The Future of Drone Warfare. For example. • They can impact systems even when they are turned off. 129 <http://diydrones. • They leave persistant and lasting effects on the system through destruction of circuits and components. Robb wrote seven years ago that homebrew directed energy weapons might wind up being more useful to the Resistance than to the Empire. Homemade directed energy weapons will eventually become the weapon of choice for global guerrillas intent on infrastructure>. . Consider the FBI’s seizure of the MegaUpload domain name after many months of preparation—to which Anonymous responded in a matter of hours with the largest DDOS attack in history and a doxing of MPAA chief Chris Dodd. directed energy weapons are much more valuable to global guerrillas than nation-state militaries due to the target imbalance between nation-states and non-state foes. A good reference on this is Col. Consider the development of a Firefox workaround extension for SOPA before the bill even came up for a vote. It can develop means of circumvention faster than the state can deal with them. with a converted microwave oven demonstrate this). This greater speed of innovation is just one example of the broader phenomenon of an agile resistance movement staying inside its enemy’s OODA loop. including this one.6.html>. She lists four distinctive characteristics of a microwave weapon: • They don’t rely on knowledge of the system.2. globalguerrillas/2011/12/drone-bonjwas. • To counter the weapon the entire system must be hardened. The flexibility and rapid innovations in Occupy Wall Street tactics.typepad. 2011 <http://globalguerrillas. the resistance is able to stay a step ahead of the corporate state and keep it permanently off-balance. and using directed energy weapons (HERFs -. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION person controlling hundreds and thousands.129 Our earlier discussion of Assassin’s Mace weapons is relevant here.high energy radio frequency or microwave weapons) for use against micro-electronics and fuel vapor. 128 John Robb. scroll to bottom. Consider Tor developers’ creation of a same-day hack to the Iranian regime’s attempt to block its routers. The resistance’s agility in technical development mean it is able to develop mashups of existing technology faster than the corporate state was able to develop the original technologies. December 21.

html>.131 The American state’s insurgent enemies today.” Global Guerrillas. However. 2004 <http://globalguerrillas.130 This is true of other technologies of imperial control. As Robb suggested. Schneier wrote. May 18. NETWORKS VS. “HOMEMADE MICROWAVE WEAPONS. • Destruction occurs from the inside out.typepad. • Scalable size (a weapon that weighs less than 10 lbs is possible). Defending against these sorts of adversaries doesn’t require militarygrade encryption only where it counts. etc. • Area attacks are possible. Attacks will be rotated among infrastructures in a modern variant of horse archer tactics.html>. Like many historical swarming attacks. • Long reach depending on power used. • Insensitive to weather (rain. global guerrillas will have significant standoff firepower potential—the ability to attack from a distance.90 CHAPTER 2. • Repair is extremely difficult -.). 131 John Robb. • Most systems are not hardened against microwave frequencies. its the global guerrilla’s ability to use attacks on infrastructure to impact downstream systems miles (perhaps hundreds of miles) distant. 2004 <http://globalguerrillas. it requires commercial-grade encryption everywhere possible. This sort of solution would require the NSA to develop a whole new level of lightweight commercial-grade security systems for military applications — not just office-data “Sensitive but Unclassified” 130 John Robb. • Logistics are limited to battery/power source replacement. . this firepower isn’t a traditional weapon. as well—for example drones. HIERARCHIES Here are some attributes of microwave weapons: • Entry to a system can be direct or indirect (through a variety of backdoor channels). have access to technologies the Soviets could never have dreamed of. It also results from the nature of its infrastructure systems and the proliferation of key nodes that can be struck randomly and produce damage at great • Limited collateral damage. Standoff attacks.” Global Guerrillas. • Replenishment is easy (nothing except power is expended).it requires high level systems analysis.typepad. the asymmetry between the state and the Resistance results from the former’s relative target density. • Extreme lethality for electronic components (and fuel systems). rather. May 19. “GLOBAL GUERRILLA SWARMING.

What are nation-states replacing them with? Drones. January 27. “Intercepting Predator Video. However. This also means: It can make its own “kill decision. For offensive or defense reasons.typepad. You can already see it in action across the world as drone staging areas are 132 Bruce Schnerier.” Global Guerrillas. to describe the implications for the future of warfare—including domestic counterinsurgency: Gunboat diplomacy was the essence of military power projection for centuries.html>. and perhaps read over insecure phone lines and stored in people’s back globalguerrillas/2012/01/the-future-of-warfare.133 He went on. but it would be more commensurate with the actual threats. rat intelligence is next). . or in DRM systems.” making decisions for thousands of smaller swarmed (semi-autonomous) drones it lays on a battle zone (aka “city"). particularly if combined with software bots that sift/sort/monitor all of your data 24x7x365 (already going on). 2009 <http://www. 133 John Robb. It would require the NSA to allow keys to be handed to uncleared UAV operators. Say that word again: autonomous. carrier battlegroups are hideously expensive. 2012 <http://globalguerrillas. It isn’t vulnerable to a pilot in Nevada directing it to land in Iran. It will eventually (sooner than you think) be the “Queen. It wouldn’t be anywhere near perfect. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION or “For Official Use Only” classifications. That’s the breakthrough feature.500 lbs). in a subsequent post. In an article announcing a prototype drone from Northrop Grummond. I’m much more worried about their ability to automate repression. “The Future of Warfare. Oops. Granted. However.” Again and again and again. it will be possible for small groups to put together systems like this on the cheap. increasingly vulnerable to low cost attack.6. and less lethal than they appear (most of the weapons systems are used for self-defense). Want to coerce a country? Sail a aircraft carrier battle group into their national waters.2. It would require the sort of ad hoc key management systems you find in internet protocols.html>. That decision is going to get better and better and cheaper and cheaper (Moore’s law has made insect level intelligence available for pennies. December blog/archives/2009/12/intercepting_pr. he wrote: It’s an autonomous aircraft/drone that has a full weapons bay (4. given the possibility (discussed below) of demoralization and defection within the apparatus in the event of a full-scale war of terror by the American state against its domestic population. Robb has argued that the likely widespread deployment of autonomous drones in the near-term future will render the threat of outside hacking moot.132 91 In other words. In sum: It allows an unprecedented automation of conventional violence. it would require a very high and broad-based level of trust in the lowest-level functionaries of the intelligence apparatus—quite dangerous.” Schmeier on Security.schneier.

* Maneuverability + + + * Range + + + * Payload + + + 134 John Robb. All the money is on cyber intel (to generate targets based on “signatures") and drones to kill them. Ask the person on the other end to do something or to stop doing something. Cut training. and are very effective at blowing things up. What does this mean? It allows truly scalable global coercion: the automation of comply or die. Further. Cut mx. “Drone Diplomacy: Comply or Die. The final benefit of Drone Diplomacy: drones make it possible to apply coercion at the individual or small group level in a way that a blunt instrument like a carrier battle group can’t.typepad. drones. Drones are relatively cheap. like nukes. Put manned weapons systems in life support mode.92 CHAPTER 2. the reason for this is clear. Call up the target on his/her personal cell (it could even be automated as a robo-call to get real scalability—wouldn’t that suck. we could see this drop to something less than <$1000 a strike in the next half dozen years (particularly if kamikazee drones. to get killed completely through bot based automation). these systems will be ready for domestic application.” Global Guerrillas. HIERARCHIES replacing traditional military bases/entanglements. they die soon therafter due to drone strike (unless they go into deep hiding and disconnect from the global system). When domestic unrest occurs in the US due to economic decline. don’t put personnel directly at risk. can be easily outsourced. Of course.html>. 2012 <http://globalguerrillas. are used to reduce explosive payload requirements). With drone costs plummeting.. All of the technological trends in motion will only increase the offensive tilt: * Smarts + + + * Numbers + + + * Cost . don’t require many people to deploy/operate. shift the advantage almost entirely to the offensive. What can we look forward to? The mid term future of a national security apparatus in secular ($$) decline? Drones. NETWORKS VS. or to develop a counter-offensive drone capability. If they don’t do what you ask. January Drones tip the scales of conflict in favor of offense. Drones.134 Rargues that the only real defenses against drones are to harden targets and thereby raise the average cost of attacks relative to target value. Shrink the headcount. drones already account for the vast majority of people killed by US forces. like Switchblade. and more drones. . can be micromanaged from Washington.

in order to reduce the transparency of social media as a source of targeting information. Most governments can already whack pretty much any subject they care to.6a00d83451576d69e201630069ae46970d>. The development of such alternatives is already well underway. numerous..135 93 Robb’s category of hardening against attack would probably include encryption and anonymizing technologies of all kinds. The cost of an air defense system necessary to protect against cruise missiles was beyond their means. With widely available enough drones. all you can do is armor/bunker up and make the attack expensive in material as you can. * Kinetic weapons. This means one thing: drones of your own. and open-source alternatives to Twitter and Facebook.typepad. but very expensive. the range is too short. The combination of anonymous communications (TOR++). at least as far as I can tell. and smart/crafty the ability to physically defend against an attack from a distance is nearly nil. some symmetry might again be restored. This is the same problem the USSR ran into when cruise missiles (early. —Stuki136 135 John 2012 <http://globalguerrillas. at least a clandestine one.. . combined with the primacy of the offense. In reality. Some more detail: * Missile Defense? Radar.html#comment. “Is There a Defense Against Drones?” Global Guerrillas. anonymous currency (Bitcoin) and dronetech. But the reverse is not true.6. January 31. Some of Robb’s readers were quick to connect the dots: Why only nation states? What is it in dronetech that cannot be open sourced and turned against the oppression? If I was a dronemaker. Power and range problems. I’d want one of my drones on the news for whacking someone newsworthy. The cost of a missile that has the capacity to intercept a swarm of drones flying evasively is prohibitively expensive.html>. should go some ways of evening the playing field between oppressive governments and their citizens. 136 <http://globalguerrillas. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION Frankly.. Again.typepad. * EMP/HERFs/Lasers. missiles. His reference to the availability of drone technologies on the cheap. drones) were deployed in the 80’s. and the first drone kills based on social media profiles will hasten the development These point defenses would overwhelmed. etc.or Have a similar offensive capacity. is also suggestive. against a foe this maneuverable. . Drones that can do damage to a foe that is at least equivalent to the value of you as a target.2. not some noname schlub whose only crime is being too clever to be duped into believing nation states are somehow worthy of preservation.

142 <http://globalguerrillas..typepad.6a00d83451576d69e20168e66e82f5970c>. Kill the guys who send the drones. drone manufacturers and their employees? —Craig137 . When an insurgent can cheaply print a few dozen with small explosive warheads and swarm them at an enemy airfield. find their base.typepad.typepad.typepad. and kill there ground crews too.6a00d83451576d69e20167616c8f4f970b>.com/globalguerrillas/2012/01/is-there-a-defense-againstdrones. —EN140 It will also inspire asymmetric attacks we cannot handle. the playing field is a bit leveled.94 CHAPTER 2. Rule 1 in reality-based warfare is “don’t throw stones when you live in a glass have escaped conflict for far too long.. from leadership and their families to the NETWORKS VS. This has not been thought through. 139 <http://globalguerrillas. —The Black139 It seems to me that one defense would be to “grab the belt.6a00d83451576d69e20163007b375d970d>. the US has these things all over the world.6a00d83451576d69e20163007945e1970d>. but operating out in the open to a great extent. The air force. Do I 137 <http://globalguerrillas. and kill them on the could characterize drones as elements in a network and attack/subvert/co-opt critical nodes in that network just the same as you could do when attacking anything else. drones work both infrastructure. 140 <http://globalguerrillas.. —Sam 142 On the kinetic level. now gain an incentive for mobilizing random pieces of the Somali diaspora to do incalculable damage to local .6a00d83451576d69e20168e668714e970c>. .. would not take much ground work to find out where they are flying from and the operational crew. and their dependents. Paddy Moyne and the rest of the SAS were able to take out hundreds of Axis planes on their African airfields using very small charges.html#comment. 141 <http://globalguerrillas. bullets and bombs travel both equalize the kill zones. 138 < ) As ’The Black’ mentioned above find the guys with the joysticks and their chain of command..” in various ways. —Robert David STEELE Vivas141 Attacking the drones themselves is far far more difficult than neutralizing the C&C structure behind them.6a00d83451576d69e20168e66db702970c>” What is actually happening is that Somali pirates. I would go after the personnel involved. they are findable and hittable. It is typical ideological idiocy run amok. to take one example. HIERARCHIES What are the weaknesses of drone support crews. (And who knows what those may be?) —Mercutio138 You defeat drones by killing its tail.

com/globalguerrillas/2012/01/is-there-a-defense-againstdrones. Pick a company. but for example Blackwater/XE. —matt144 95 The general concept of Assassin’s Mace weapons applies much more broadly.S. The purpose is to neutralize U. “China Confirms Carrier-Killer. about 10.S.typepad. The Chinese are in process of introducing an even more lethal missile. At the estimated cost of production. Aegis destroyers and cruisers that accompany aircraft carriers could be used to foil anti-ship missiles with SM-3 interceptor rockets. 144 <http://globalguerrillas.” OpEd News. Contractors are mission critical and can quit on a moments notice. well before the U.S.typepad. Naval War College asserts that now “China can reach out and hit the U.S. But [Naval strategy consultant Paul] Giarra noted that interceptor capacity on Aegis-equipped ships isn’t enough to reliably defend 143 <http://globalguerrillas. 2010 < Contractors quit EASY. Navy no longer rules the waves as it has since the end of World War II. designed explicitly for its carrier-killing capability. .html>. “US Navy Stunned: Deadly new Chinese Missiles can Sink Every US Supercarrier.000 of them could be produced for the price of a single aircraft carrier. It underscores more broadly that the U.6.6a00d83451576d69e20168e68062f4970c>. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION need to expound? —B143 Look at the numbers of contractors that supported the war in Iraq/ are supporting the war in Afghanistan. The stark reality is that sea control cannot be taken for granted anymore. experts say.6a00d83451576d69e20168e675b6ff970c>. Considering the implications and significant threat of China’s new generation of carrier-killing missiles. which the Russians have sold to China and Iran. an associate professor at the U. carrier groups in up to 3000k from the Chinese coast.” China has maneuvered itself into a position where it can threaten and deter US action. August 7.S. 145 David Cohen.html#comment.S. The leading powers in the emerging bloc coalescing against the Sole Remaining Superpower are providing sophisticated technologies to small states that come under fire from the Empire. The missile is claimed by some to be potentially lethal to aircraft carriers.2. 146 Terrence Aym. July 15. can get close enough to the mainland to hit back.opednews.” The Diplomat.145 Toshi Yoshihara."146 In a conflict.html#comment. the Dongfeng 21-D. The US has only faced such a situation during the action in the Pacific against the Japanese during WWII and when facing down the Soviet threat during the Cold War. of State if a family a month was being murdered stateside? Fill in the blank. A good example is the Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn missile. and I’m not dog piling. How long would their contractors have worked protecting Dept.>.com/globalguerrillas/2012/01/is-there-a-defense-againstdrones. 2011 <http://thediplomat. Yoshihara foresees the possibility that they “could have an enduring psychological effect on U. the U.

.. the vulnerability of the state to the human factor extends much more broadly than the narrow question of superiority in innovation.. The strategic advantage of a moral war is the ability to think clearly about the ends required to meet a genuinely justified end. streamlined into blog post format: GUPTA: 1> No national government is capable of planning clearly for the horror of resource wars between China. . 2> Therefore.96 CHAPTER 2. increasingly puts both repressive states and their general populations in a state of cognitive dissonance. This is important. You can’t win a war who’s purpose you cannot bear to define: the Americans in Iraq defined fighting with their eyes closed: empire narrative. even though it seems simple. because it’s a moral asymmetry in warfare – it’s a reason to believe the good guys do win.) among low-level functionaries demoralized by a perpetual war of terror against their own domestic populations. sabotage.111552>. that you cannot be smart unless you’re going to be good. Now refactor that through national politics: the government is stupid because the government is evil. HIERARCHIES against a volley of well-placed anti-ship ballistic missiles. Clarity would reveal it as such. .” Stars and Stripes. The implication is that a moral side – even a smaller one – could out-compete the Great Powers because moral ground = intellectual clarity. Now. America and Europe/Russia. It extends to questions of internal dissension. July 19. NETWORKS VS. The danger. In a conflict. for the ruling class.. etc. .S. The implication is. terrorism. 147 Erik Slavin. other narratives are being created to cover these inevitable economic and standard-of-living conflicts: drug war. frankly. This is an edited version of a Twitter chat I had with him. 3> This is why so much of the war seems to be huge amounts of money and manpower for totally ineffective results: immoral == blinding self. Now. a doctrine of war that cannot easily be used to empower evil regimes. loss of morale. the side which can bear to define it’s goals clearly can then plot a strategy to attain them. . consider a whole-of-society democratic engagement in defensive war: “Why are we here? To defend ourselves from <those bastards>”. in the current technological environment. “New Chinese anti-ship missile may complicate relations with U. . Seriously. 2010 <http://www. what this represents is an opportunity to develop new fundamental doctrine based on whole-of-society offensive/defensive engagement. excepting the genuinely evil who know that they are. is something like the defection of the Winter Palace guards in the Bolshevik Revolution. and a high rate of defection (not to mention internal leaks. There is room here for a new moral philosophy. Vinay Gupta argues that fighting a networked resistance movement.147 Returning to our previous discussions of hierarchy becoming more brittle in response to attack in the war between networks and hierarchies. It can win.stripes.

fluid tactics. . they will therefore be defeated by networks. They did this based on RPGs and landmines.. right down to the bone.html In The more monitoring and intelligence gear you literally. we’d have to have moral alignment first. Poor strategic thinking. Now.6. the entire thing is a machine for producing cockups. GUPTA [in response to mention of drones by Smari McCarthy @smarimc]: Drone pilots are getting horrible problems.2. you can’t bear to look at the data. . requires people who can clearly model why they are fighting to for effective decisions. The Thinking War. and you live in a fantasy world: SNAFU and hierarchy lies. Because if you feel you’re in the wrong. Moral failure means your front lines get shit information: self-deception is a critical strategic failure which your enemies can exploit. networked. Because. Imagine if they’d had kit.Your train of thought suggests fascist regimes can’t afford to let their soldiers be fast.. .a transparent and cooperative battle space is only possible when soldiers individually understand their true purpose and objectives. What I am suggesting here is simple: TECHNOLOGY EMPOWERS MORAL WAR. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION 97 Here’s my question: can soldiers who do not understand their purpose out-compete those who do? Answer: probably not.. And this is the critical opportunity to modernize the defensive military of democratic States: put strategists on the front line. imagine the Iraqis and the Afghans had a a vast supply of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft weapons and good quality anti-tank In short: hit them in their cognitive dissonance. weapon cost less than 1% of target cost. actually. the worse it gets: the intel analysts can’t bear to think about what they’re seeing.. in response to attack — wasn’t it? GUPTA: And the side which can bear to face its actions head-on can see the battlespace clearly right down to each individual fighter. . and whip ass on it as hard as possible. Soldiers fighting for an authoritarian cause have morale trouble from cognitive dissonance. Map it as a strategic asset. Air Force’s number one staffing issue is drone pilots. which comes from political clar- . And that stuff is all baked into the military. . if we were going to radically empower individual initiative in war. and can’t be trusted with initiative. you need a general consensus on strategy. say. What I’m driving at is a moral limitation which command-andcontrol evolved to get around: wars for the goals of the ruling European classes. I think we may find that it cripples immoral war: evidence is current. CARSON: . Why? To have effective swarm response. If you look at a modern military through Deming’s eyes. But we know from Deming that Understanding & Equality = Quality. In a networked environment. brainwashing the initiative out of soldiers then trying to breed it back into special forces is Medieval. which is what all high tech war is. www. That’s the same thing Julian Assange said about hierarchies becoming more brittle and opaque to themselves. All that stuff is cheap.

UC Davis. Power shift. right there: the military was constructed to magnify the will of a Sovereign. in high flux environments. the good guys tend to . in a transparent battle space. With a moral case for war in those nations. NETWORKS VS.And that’s the core concept: transparent battlespace == local decision-making (hello RTS games) == side with lower cognitive dissonance wins. That efficient swarm coordination requires shared goals and common knowledge. a sort of Digital Swiss Model – cooperative. but a self-service collective defense system. The battlespace inevitably becomes transparent because the world is turning into one big camera. Your cadres vote on procurement. . And particularly in urban environments.. Even EMP won’t do it. CARSON [after the fact]: Same thing goes for the battlefields at Oakland. . the better trained side will lose because they’re better at doing what they’re told. Shit. networked hedgehog defense integrated to the political level wins. looking at the carnage wrought. The idea that the structural stupidity of the immoral force would be revealed to its own fighters by its own software seems to be new.. Italy is city states. . and when that breaks down. . It also suggests that. . www.. . the goal of transparent battlespace. the public is forced to confront what that “thin blue line” really does. HIERARCHIES ity. and it carries fluidly right into the urban conflict environment. and on mission. or battlespace. which makes Just Following Orders a less adaptive response than looking at the map and acting. I keep saying it in different ways: when everybody can see everything. for exactly the same reason Communism was out-competed by Capitalism. .com/watch?v=FsNLbK8_rBY multiplied by every team plugged into the battle computers. the moral clarity is what results in coordination at the macro scale. If you just dump the data into a bucket. . they could be the first testbeds for first world populations fighting for new politics. and in teams. In short. Networked societies will out-compete Capitalist ones. Greece and Spain nearly went Anarchist nr WW2. the pace of war requires decision-making to be done as far forwards as possible.. boom. .youtube. Now. . when the Army is no longer a Will-Multiplier for a Strong Center. in short. rational moral reason for war is an essential part of winning in a transparent battlespace because it enables thinking.. . In short. it works different. Tech provides coordination. It’s only the unified moral basis which allows for a networked fighting force to find effective unity: without that. Because a sufficiently transparent society. That’s actually the key. on recruitment. highlights the conflicts of interest between Sovereigns and Soldiers.transparency tears apart. NYC. For the first time. GUPTA: . Conclusion: a shared. Moral unity between the public and those sainted “first responders” is disrupted. Spain and Italy. and IMMORAL WAR has split goals in the force and secrecy..Under those circumstances. . let’s take this and look at post-economic Greece.. in 5 years.98 CHAPTER 2.

and of the people must be the inevitable consequence of transparency on the battle field. they decided instead to picture Serbian society as organized into pillars of support holding up the dictator. . They noticed that each layer of domination was in fact supported by the layer below. Rather than buy into the top-down version of power that Milosevic wanted them to believe. And in that process. .meforum. posted graffiti almost everywhere. in the streets and more thoroughly in the police stations. .2. in a world of instant communications. police. . Otpur believed that Milosevic would>. the left hand must know what the right hand is doing..6. Because what I’m saying here is very simple: the Americans are probably going to be the Bad Guys on the next outing. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION win. and generals. His spies were everywhere. #NDAA And I think it’s important to understand their failings in Iraq and Afghanistan as being optimistic signs for global Liberty. They saw their society as a pyramid. To fight on a high tech platform is going to require a fundamental political rethink. by the people. 148 Kevin Carson. . Learn & – it’s this but for our own nation state militaries. consider George Lakey’s account of the uprising (otpur) against Milosevic in Serbia: Impatient with the cautious ways of many of their pro-democracy elders. Conclusion of conclusion: there is a decent chance that Netwar will cripple American offensive capability in unjust wars due to moral loss. rebuilding command-and-control from first principles. “Vinay Gupta: The Authoritarian Cause Will Be Defeated by Its Own Cognitive Dissonance. . And now for some scholarship: the classic “Why Arabs Lose Wars” www. The direction of power was typically topdown. in alliance with business owners. . that the orders that were given were only carried out because those below were willing to carry them out. party leaders..148 99 As an example of how the suppression of networked resistance. we might discover an effective. destroys the unity of state and people and the internal morale of the state. Milosevic counter-attacked. His monopoly of the mass media meant that the Otpur was described as hoodlums and terrorists. His police routinely beat up the protesters. to win. with Milosevic and his cronies at the top. The young people who started Otpur had a clear conception of how domination works. secret police) and subtle repression like a monopoly of the media and school curricula. January 17. and used their street actions to embarass the regime. Because.. War. and the right hand is stuffing money down Dick Cheney’s pants. 2012 <http://blog. for the people. populationled decision-making process to replace our broken electoral democracies.” P2P Foundation Blog. If the pillars gave way. the youths organized in coffee bars and schools.p2pfoundation. Here’s where Otpur activists diverged from conventional wisdom about power. and included both obvious repression (the army.

100 CHAPTER 2. It was. the strategy guided the young activists to develop creative tactics that took away one of the key pillars of the dictator’s support. Otpur systematically undermined that pillar. One place to look for dilemma demonstration ideas is the community work that activists are already doing. The young activists knew that fighting the police would strengthen police loyalty to Milosevic (and also support the mass media claim that the young people were hoodlums and terrorists). Otpur needed to ask: which are the pillars of support needed by the dictatorship? Then: what are the tactics that will weaken those pillars?. 2012) < police were plainly reluctant to beat Otpur activists even when ordered to do so. and the public is educated about our message. After a year of this.149 As suggested by Lakey’s account of relations with the police. NETWORKS VS. neighbors. the idea is to undermine the morale of the enforcers. So they trained themselves to make nonviolent responses to police violence during protests. One pillar of support for Milosevic was his police. It wasn’t easy. because they didn’t want the negative reactions of their family. might be planted in places which need reclaiming.. took the signs to the schools of the police officers’ children and talked with the children about it. for example.historyisaweapon. however. In the 149 George Lakey. we accomplish something worthwhile related to our issue. even into the higher ranks. Community gardens. many police were sent out of the city by their commanders while other police simply watched the crowds take over the Parliament building. Through the assertive outreach of the activists.html>. Otpur’s strategy was to weaken the compliance and finally to break it.) Since the top power-holders depend on the compliance of those beneath them to stay on top. put them on signs. they put themselves in a bad light. One of the slogans they learned during their trainings was: “It only hurts if you’re scared. relationships were built with the police. friends. First. and carried the signs in front of the houses of the police who hurt them. The young people joked with the plainclothes police assigned to infiltrate them and reminded the cops that everyone would get their chance to act for democracy. the movement creates “dilemma demonstrations”: This form of direct action puts the power holders in a dilemma: if they allow us to go ahead and do what we intend to do.” They took photos of their wounded.. In Lakey’s words. “Strategizing for a Living Revolution. They talked to the cop’s neighbors about it.. (All new Otpur members were expected to go through the training so they could understand the winning strategy..” History is a Weapon site (accessed January 14. . They enlarged the photos. Here’s just one example of how it worked in Serbia. HIERARCHIES This alternative view of power became so central to Otpur that it was taught in all the trainings of new Otpur members. If they repress us. simple. When the movement ripened into a full-fledged insurgency in Belgrade. as one of my Otpur friends who had been beaten repeatedly told me..

as we will see in the appendix to the next chapter. support. each of which became another massacre.150 The idea. exactly what the Occupy movement has done through the “occupy our homes” campaign. President Jimmy Carter (our human rights president) publically telegraphed the Shah assuring him of U. the revolution has reached a tipping point beyond which mass repression only results in more defection. The ultimate goal is to undermine the regime’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public. who told him that the game was over. refusal of taxes and rents. each of which became another massacre. Outraged by the repression. 151 Ibid. continually asserting solidarity as the movementãand repressionãincreased. Immediately after. The secret police used torture and the army shot down nonviolent demonstrators. “bad guys” (cops and soldiers) for an audience that consists of the vast uncommitted majority. On one occasion a public square full of nonviolent demonstrators was bathed in blood as helicoptor gunships slowly circled firing into the crowd. is to create a morality play of “good guys” (demonstrators) vs. The secret police used torture and the army shot down nonviolent demonstrators. to encourage mass defection from the law (e. the movement used funerals as means of protest. that the army could not get either the economy or the political institutions moving again. All the army could do at that point was to continue to kill.S. They said that the entire country was on strike. continually asserting solidarity as 150 Ibid. Faced with police-state conditions.6.S. THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION midst of the Battle of Seattle some activists did guerrilla gardening in the median strips of downtown streets and avenues along the wharf. When Iranian students and others protested against the rule of the Shah of Iran in the late ’70s they experienced extreme repression. Immediately after. masses of people attended the funerals. On one occasion a public square full of nonviolent demonstrators was bathed in blood as helicoptor gunships slowly circled firing into the crowd. The next day the Shah left the country. support. masses of people attended the funerals. The Iranians did their work well.151 The next stage is mass non-cooperation. so the army killed funeral attenders. .2. The Iranians did their work well. and within the military there was rising noncooperation even with that. 101 That is. and in general to encourage mass non-cooperation with the regime. President Jimmy Carter (our human rights president) publically telegraphed the Shah assuring him of U. the movement used funerals as means of protest. according to Lakey. When Iranian students and others protested against the rule of the Shah of Iran in the late ’70s they experienced extreme repression. Finally the Shah faced his military chiefs. Outraged by the repression. When a large enough portion of the public sees the regime as illegitimate and feels no moral obligation to obey the law. Faced with police-state conditions. so the army killed funeral attenders.g. in this stage of a revolution. refusal to obey unjust laws when compliance isn’t verifiable).

While it’s true that this strategic model avoids the top-down controlling function so dear to the hearts of the Leninists. that the army could not get either the economy or the political institutions moving again. In contrast to the old Leninist model in which the party seizes the state and then re-organizes society from the top down. Unity requires shared information and negotiated agreements among the forces for change.” a ceramics factory worker said.neighborhood assemblies for agreement. which is easier to do when the power holders are busy discrediting themselves by responding violently to movement campaigns. the networks. these councils will 152 Ibid. The institutions will have grown from the seeds of the organizing stage: the alternative institutions. No government money is allowed.. An atmosphere of turbulence encourages mainstream as well as radical people to seek alternative ways of getting things done.” Neighborhood assemblies in Argentina have typically been meeting weekly to agree on a list of demands and proposals for change.102 CHAPTER 2. The transformational networks which have been developing their technologies all along will come into their own in this last stage. In Argentina as I write. and within the military there was rising noncooperation even with that.. The next day the Shah left the country. where people trade everything from old video games to food to skilled services.. They said that the entire country was on strike. radical caucuses. NETWORKS VS. Markets for barter have sprung up. communication must be maintained and judgements made about the best use of limited resources in a turbulent situation. then bringing the proposals to inter. and affinity groups. And of course there’s been an explosion of Indymedia to supply the need for reliable information. . “we divide the profits equally among all the people who work here. it does not throw out the need for coordination. and transnational levels. Probably the period of fastest growth for the organizations. Essential services must be provided. for example. though. “Of everything we sell. because they become part of the infra-structure of the new society. In the advanced stages of struggle. If the transformational networks do their work creatively. coordinating councils will be needed on local. During the confrontation stage these organizations need to grow. All the army could do at that point was to continue to kill. regional. supported by the radicals who all along have been innovating organizational forms that reflect a radically democratic vision. In the fifth stage these organizations come fully into their own. will be in the period of mass noncooperation. this strategic model proposes a bottom-up re-structuring. Finally the Shah faced his military chiefs. Credit slips are used as a kind of micro-currency. HIERARCHIES the movementãand repressionãincreased. workers are taking over some factories and operating them. who told him that the game was over. national.152 In the meantime. the movement needs to be engaged in its primary task of building counter-institutions on the dual power model.

THE QUESTION OF REPRESSION grow organically from the struggle.” (I put “government” in quotes because these bodies may not look at all like the governments we know.) In this fifth stage the people pay their taxes [an unfortunate choice of language from my anarchist standpoint] to the councils instead of to the governments of the oppressive order. The councils can also work with the workers’ caucuses. garbage collection. by the contaminating effects of the surrounding American society’s culture. . as to be quite unreliable in a Winter Palace guards scenario. or between the rulers and rank-and-file security functionaries who enforce their will. at the Empire’s core. When you look at the sheer numbers of grunts in uniform that are required—police or military—I suspect a majority of them would be so contaminated by the residual effects of Midwestern checkered tablecloths and apple pie. in a scenario of mass repression of the domestic population or aggressive foreign wars against peaceful secessionists from the corporate world order.” etc. And that’s not even counting the enormous number of cubicle drones required to carry out the administrative functions of the corporate state. I doubt there are a sufficient number to provide a stable and internally coherent pool of functionaries to serve the daily needs of such a system. and a much higher rate of quiet defection and internal sabotage. as global military hegemon and core state of the global corporate system. and transnational levels.S. and the like. This is all just further illustration of Assange’s general observation. in the last stage. the national council works with the other councils to dismantle the national government by distributing its legitimate functions to local. as have spokescouncils in the anti-globalization confrontations where many affinity groups come together.. The councils organize essential services such as traffic regulation. The situation is further complicated.2. At least since the ’70s movement against nuclear power. will be the center of any rear-guard effort at repression).S. noted 153 Ibid. Things are complicated for the U. and assist the newly formed councils to be able to their job on all levels. But while it’s no doubt easy to find a sufficient number of specialized functionaries in uniform who are willing to waterboard or provide “technical advice” to Pinochet. The councils are the bodies which form. activists have been experimenting with non-authoritarian forms of coordination through councils. civics book rhetoric about “democracy. the parallel “governments. it also applies to internal cohesion within the ruling elite itself.. regional. So there would probably be a considerable rate of open defiance. put attention to cultural differences in communication style. cooperatives. ruling elite (I make the assumption that the U. and affinity groups to dismantle in an orderly way those corporations which are worth decentralizing. I hate to sound like an American exceptionalist.6. The job of those who sustain transformational networks will be to retain the lessons learned from these experiments. In my personal vision. by the problem of internal divisions.153 103 Although Gupta and Lakey describe the problem of cognitive dissonance largely in terms of cohesion between the rulers and domestic population.

and they tend to be extremely dogmatic about that agenda. November 16. is the first in history in which the technical means which made the revolution possible in the first place also help to make the successor society ungovernable by any would-be “revolutionary regime. Those small groups usually have a very well-defined agenda. 2011 . so to speak. adopting more cumbersome and slow-moving decision-making procedures. revolutionary movements generate local organs of self-management and self-governance: soviets. Unfortunately.” It’s a common pattern: the Thermidorean Reaction and the Directory in France. Or the fictional example we saw above from Brazil. NETWORKS VS. and proclaim itself the only legitimate institutional representative of the revolution—now that the situation has been “normalized. <http://anarchism. of the Ministry of Works attempting to plug a hole created by the Ministry of Information: “Bloody typical—they went metric again without telling us!” Another question concerns the possible emergence of new.html>. and cutting off increasing numbers of decisionmakers from the flow of information required to make intelligent decisions. Hierarchies respond to outside attacks by becoming even more centralized.104 CHAPTER 2.7 The Question of Collapse The material in the previous section on distributed. and so forth. and currently presenting itself in the form of the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. [Joseph Tainter. neighborhood assemblies. In Murray Bookchin’s typology of revolutions.” anarchism. HIERARCHIES earlier. leaks and sabotage by becoming more opaque to themselves. the next step is usually for a new revolutionary regime to consolidate its power. and either coopt or liquidate the organs of self-governance. authoritarian and brittle. Dmitri Orlov] In an interview with Ken Rose. workers’ factory committees. in Homage to Catalonia. the Bolsheviks’ liquidation of the Workers Opposition and parties of the libertarian Left and suppression of the Kronstadt Revolt. Orwell’s description of Barcelona in the July days of 1936. about bureaucracies closing in on themselves because they cannot trust their own lower-level functionaries. they happen chiefly when small but well-organised groups are able to gain enough traction to take over the violent enforcement apparatus from the old etc. Joseph Tainter argued that the greater the 154 “Revolutions Deserved.” 2. modular architectures is relevant to traditional collapse scenarios. authoritarian institutions in the power vacuuum left by the destruction of the previous ones. is a good illustration. It’s quite likely the bureaucracy governing Skynet would end up looking a lot like that of Neal Stephenson’s fictional Feds in Snow Crash.154 But the networked revolution prefigured by the Zapatistas. And they respond to internal defection. These are not simple consequences of a revolution happening “unprepared”.

but once it happens the usual result is at least a temporary resolution of the crisis. That’s catabolic collapse. say.2. which in the case of a complex society generally amounts to amassing more stuff. the more additional complexity is required to deal with it.. The only reliable way to solve a crisis that’s caused by rising maintenance costs is to cut those costs. . As societies expand and start to depend on complex infrastructure to support the daily activities of their inhabitants. and the most effective way of cutting maintenance needs is to tip some fraction of the stuff that would otherwise have to be maintained into the nearest available dumpster. Societies that have been around a while – China comes to mind – have cycled up and down through this process dozens of times. the gap between your maintenance needs and available resources spins out of control.. and many complex societies resist it as long as they possibly can. Sooner or later you run into the limits of growth. until your society no longer has enough resources on hand even to provide for its own survival. It’s what happens next that’s crucial to the theory.155 John Michael Greer’s collapse scenario is based largely on Tainter’s analysis: The central idea of catabolic collapse is that human societies pretty consistently tend to produce more stuff than they can afford to maintain. Complexity increases as we try to solve problems. Thus the normal rhythm of history in complex societies cycles back and forth between building up. while the return on that investment begins an equally ragged and equally unstoppable decline. Now of course the normal human response to the end of a crisis is the resumption of business as usual. It’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds. and can also free up resources for other uses.” <http://p2pfoundation. A more dramatic version of the same process happens when a society is meeting its maintenance costs with nonrenewable Interview_with_Joseph_Tainter_on_the_Collapse_of_Complex_Societies>. and you’ve got the process that turned the Forum of imperial 155 “Interview with Joseph Tainter on the Collapse of Complex Societies. and breaking down. rinse and repeat. the maintenance needs of the infrastructure and the rest of the society’s stuff gradually build up until they reach a level that can’t be covered by the resources on hand... or anabolism.7. or catabolism. The usual result is the stairstep sequence of decline that’s traced by the history of so many declining civilizations—half a century of crisis and disintegration. followed by several decades of relative stability and partial recovery. and then a return to crisis. That’s rarely popular. because each burst of catabolism on the way down does lower maintenance costs significantly. at that point the costs of keeping wealth flowing in from your empire or your oil fields begin a ragged but unstoppable increase.. Rose: There is no alternative to increased complexity when we are faced with problems.. Tainter: So long as you can afford it.... and it goes under. with periods of prosperity and major infrastructure projects alternating with periods of impoverishment and infrastructure breakdown. THE QUESTION OF COLLAPSE 105 complexity.

157 John Michael Greer. and fixate on technical debates about whether and how that can be made to happen. which is that for the last three hundred years those who believed in the possibilities of progress have generally been right. HIERARCHIES Rome into an early medieval sheep pasture. Still.blogspot. One of them. This notion that technological progress is a one-way street not subject to economic limits invites satire. January 19.158 It’s not that Greer doesn’t recognize the likelihood of shifting to a more distributed. which I’ve discussed at length elsewhere. whether such a grid is as necessary as it seems to us today. that the only alternative is an Internet infrastructure based on fiber optic networks and enormous server farms—and with it an extremely 2011 <http://thearchdruidreport. or start with the unexamined assumption that such a grid is the best (or only) possible way to handle scarce energy. “The Logic of Abundance. to be sure.” and that resource constraints translate into a less advanced way of life. John Kennneth Galbraith and Alfred Chandler—what might be called the Whig Theory of Industrial History. centralized and capital-intensive power grid. He specifically refers to it in the same post. 2010 <http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot. especially but not only among those who reject every other kind of religious thinking.html>. It’s that he assumes such a system is incompatible with the Internet. there’s another side to it. whether the benefits of having it will cover the costs of maintaining and operating it. But what happens when the primary unit of the Internet is locally powered community meshworks in which each node is a router and servers are replaced with 156 John Michael Greer.156 Greer tacitly assumes that “progress” equates to “increased complexity and capitalintensiveness.106 CHAPTER 2.html>. in particular. less resource-intensive power system—perhaps a mix of centralized grids in concentrated urban areas and local generating facilities at the point of consumption in rural areas. with its centralized power plants and its vast network of wires bringing power to sockets on every wall.157 So Greer shares certain unexamined assumptions with thinkers like Joseph Schumpeter. remain a feature of life throughout the industrial world in an energy-constrained future? If attempts to make sense of that future assume that this will happen as a matter of course. Could an electrical grid of the sort we have today.” The Archdruid Report. Still. the core issues that need to be examined slip out of sight. “The Onset of Catabolic Collapse. and that a scalable Internet using such a power infrastructure is outside the realm of the possible. . 158 Ibid. March 24. and whether the scarce resources it uses could produce a better return if put to work in some other way. is the way that progress has taken on an essentially religious value in the modern world. and I’ve tried to fill that need more than once in the NETWORKS VS. The question that has to be asked instead is whether a power grid of the sort we take for granted will be economically viable in such a future – that is. He assumes. there are deep issues at work that also need to be addressed.” The Archdruid Report.

and the primary link between these local meshworks is via communications satellites that cost a small fraction of the overland fiber optic infrastructure? Greer’s scenario ignores a central reality: the rapid implosion. however.2. When you break the linear relationship between the cost of “stuff” in an infrastructure and the functions it performs. at crisis points. using dugout canoes made from the once-plentiful trees of the island. in their projections of catabolic collapse of the Internet. governed by something analogous to Moore’s law. It neglects the possiblity that the present level of capital-intensiveness in our basic infrastructures results not from some inherent technological imperative. This neglects a number of considerations.7. but from the state tipping the balance towards one of the least efficient among a number of competing models. distributed infrastructure of local wireless meshworks and satellite uplinks—a potential ephemeralization on the same scale as Fuller’s famous example of the replacement of the transatlantic cable system with the communication satellite system. the native culture built a thriving society that got most of its food from deepwater fishing. And it underestimates the extent to which much lower cost. Eventually the result was deforestation so extreme that all the tree species once found on the island went extinct. along with many other things made of wood. THE QUESTION OF COLLAPSE 107 distributed hosting on the members’ own hard drives. It’s easy to see that nothing would have offered as great an economic advantage to the people of Easter Island as a permanent source . in the amount of “stuff” required to organize basic communication functions. It neglects the extent to which the open-source community is already actively developing the technologies of transition to a cheap. As the population expanded. capital-intensive infrastructures undergoing catabolic collapse. and cannibalism. So their collapse scenarios are only meaningful on the assumption that the Internet’s physical infrastructure is organized. thirty or forty years from now. low-hanging fruit alternative to the imperial highways and aqueducts. on the same centralized. all bets are off. expensive and capital-intensive model as at present. and Easter Island’s society imploded in a terrible spiral of war. as I think most people know by now. Without wood for canoes. underutilized infrastructures like railroads and the Internet offer an alternative to the older. the demand for food expanded as well. deepwater food sources were out of reach. On Easter Island. Greer’s catabolic collapse scenario—as illustrated by the example of the Easter Islanders—also assumes a relatively small amount of slack. It neglects the possibility that the physical infrastructures of the Internet will plummet faster than the resources for maintaining it. starvation. Even their pessimistic scenarios assume the basic infrastructure won’t start to collapse on a significant scale until the mid-21st century. Greer and Pollard assume a remarkably static view of technology. in terms of available uncommitted resources that can be used to convert to less resource-intensive ways of doing things. One major difference between the present situation and the fall of Rome: Rome had no cheaper infrastructures as an obvious. requiring more canoes.

” The Archdruid Report. hierarchical institutions in a way that once required the countervailing power of other large. It’s just as easy to see that once deforestation had gone far enough. hierarchical institutions. and degovernancing. or cut them down to make canoes and starve later on. e. 2012] 159 John Michael Greer.html>. indeed. have (as Tom Coates said above) eliminated the gap between what can be produced in large hierarchical organizations and what can be produced at home in a wide range of industries: software. HIERARCHIES of trees for deepwater fishing canoes. and the virtual disappearance of transaction costs of coordinating action associated with the network The old system.blogspot. which we shall develop in the following chapters..” The difference is that. And what amounts to a new. and journalism among them. dying society. nothing on Earth could have provided them with that advantage. The practical significance of this.8 Conclusion The implosion of capital outlays associated with the desktop revolution. “The Economics of Decline. the people of Easter Island – even if they had grasped the nature of the trap that had closed around them – would have faced a terrible choice: leave the last few big trees standing and starve today. publishing. . May 20. but by adopting more less capital-intensive and more resilient modular architectures. [Draft last modified March 22. unlike previous collapses (the classic example is the catabolic collapse of the Western Roman Empire) the old infrastructure this time isn’t all there is. NETWORKS VS. Well before the final crisis arrived. distributed infrastructure is emerging within the old. The central theme of this book is the potential for networked organization to constrain the exercise of power by large. not only through a regressive decrease in connectedness. has responded to stresses with increased complexity (i. Eric Raymond suggests decentralization and hardening as an explicit response to “unsustainable complexity. adding more and more parts which require more and more organization). For example. All the less horrific options had already been foreclosed. education. modularization. But new network technologies have created unprecedented possibilities for responding to complexity through decentralizing and hardening. For the first time there is an alternative.” 2.159 The old centralized corporate-state infrastructure is indeed undergoing a catabolic collapse scenario described quite well by Tainter’s framework of “catabolic collapse.108 CHAPTER 2. is that many of the functions of government can be included in that list. music. 2009 <http://thearchdruidreport. Tainter’s equilibrium at a lower level of simplification can be achieved.

And monitoring these massive bureaucracies was another function that could only be performed by other large bureaucratic organizations. and its traffic with the others increases.”2 So although the upper-middle class suits in the alphabet soup regulatory agencies act as ostensible “watchdogs” over the upper-middle class suits in the 1 John Kenneth Galbraith. American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power (Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. and Big Labor check each other’s power. That’s the standard “interest group pluralism” model taught by most mainstream political scientists. so that only large organizations could afford the capital assets. William Domhoff: a fairly small and interlocking directorate of government and corporate elites.1 The Regulatory State: Myth and Reality Under the old industrial age paradigm. while the economy has become centralized under a few hundred giant corporations. and the big foundations. 109 . “As each of these domains becomes enlarged and centralized. universities and think tanks. the reality is generally better described by the “Power Elite” model of C. corporate boards and c-suites. most forms of economic activity required enormous outlays of physical capital. 1962). Wright Mills. 2000). 1956. New Edition (Oxford University Press.1 Unfortunately. massive. The Power Elite. centralized bureaucracies were needed to govern those physical assets and direct the labor hired to work them. Big Government. Wright Mills and G. 2 C. 7. The state has become centralized under a concentrated executive regulatory apparatus. with the same few thousand people shuffling around between government agencies and Cabinet departments.Chapter 3 The Desktop Revolution in Regulation 3. and the model of “countervailing power” John Kenneth Galbraith described in American Capitalism: Big Business. the consequences of its activities become greater.

and who preferred the black market profits they could obtain in dry counties. for example. Power Elite. the alliance between the Copyright Nazis of the RIAA/MPAA/Microsoft and the Justice Department. and John Dingell’s similar alliance with the UAW and Detroit auto industry.3 As Paul Goodman described it. 291. for if business and labor or business and government. But as we have seen. corporations. Power Elite. are not independent of one another.. come together under the umbrella of government. will most likely be a Deputy Assistant Secretary at Department of the Other Thing—and vice versa. that interests of competing groups are “balanced” in a neutral venue.” and particularly the role of GE chief Gerald Swope in formulating the New Deal economic agenda. the alliance of universities. the composition of FDR’s “brain trust. 4 Goodman. 115. to form a mutually accrediting establishment of decisionmakers. 6 Mills. 5 Goodman. 357. Consider. . five years from now. for example. among many others. pp. And. p. It was originally named for the tendency of teetotaling Baptist politicians to serve as useful idiots for bootleggers who didn’t want to have to compete with legal liquor sales. with common interests and a common style that nullify the diversity of pluralism. 3 Mills. p. the regulatory bureaucracies and regulated bureaucracies more often than not cluster together in complexes of related institutions: “the industrial-military complex. also assumes that the units in balance are independent of one another. The units of economic and political power not only become larger and more centralized. in reality they constitute an interlocking directorate. This is the great domain of cost-plus. 266-267. People or Personnel.6 A good example is “liberal” West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd’s alliance with the coal industry and United Mine Workers against environmental regulations.5 Such clusters—or complexes—also include the USDA-agribusiness complex. the Drug War/border control/prison complex. and the post-9/11 security-industrial complex. p. the corporate and state hierarchies are also united by a common culture through the services of an army of corporation lawyers and investment bankers in staff positions. they cannot be seen as elements of a free and open balance. and government in research and development. Mills added. indeed. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION regulated industries."4 . These coalitions between regulated and regulators sometimes enlist wellmeaning liberal idealists: the so-called “Baptists and Bootleggers” phenomenon.110 CHAPTER 3.. Like a Conquered Province. contractors. the major vested interests often compete less with one another in their effort to promote their several interests than they coincide on many points of interest and. they come to coincide in interest and to make explicit as well as tacit alliances. The Vice President for This and That at Evil Global Megacorp LLC. the automobile/trucking/highway complex. and government in Urban Renewal. the theory of interest group pluralism.[T]he genius of our centralized bureaucracies has been. To quote Mills again. as they interlock. rather than checking each other. the public education/human resources complex. the alliance of promoters.

Stability is the elimination of internecine competition and erratic fluctuations in the economy. I mean by the term. As new competitors sprang up. in The Triumph of Conservatism. 19001916 (New York: The Free Press.. Although specific conditions varied from industry to industry. the U.1. and as economic power was diffused throughout an expanding nation. 1963). the dominant tendency in the American economy at the beginning of this century was toward growing competition. His thesis.7 Economic rationalization—i. By security I mean protection from the political attacks latent in any formally democratic political structure. Kolko argued. . or internal organization of a company. pp. the main political impetus behind Progressive Era regulations like the Meat Inspection Act was lobbying by the regulated industries—the large meat-packers in the latter case.8 For example. Although profit was always a consideration.e. on the basis of politically stabilized and secured means. it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy. contrary to the consensus of historians. or activists for more regulation.3. rationalization of the market was frequently a necessary prerequisite for maintaining long-term profits. and security—to attain rationalization—in the economy. p. and the growth in the absolute size of many corporations. I do not give to rationalization its frequent definition as the improvement of efficiency. Predictability is the ability. and the merger movement was to a large extent a reflection of voluntary.S. the large meat-packers had actually been under an inspection regime since the late 19th century. cartelization of the economy—was to be achieved through what Kolko called “political capitalism”: Political capitalism is the utilization of political outlets to attain conditions of stability. internal problems that could be solved only by political means were the common denominator in those industries whose leaders advocated greater federal regulation. to plan future economic action on the basis of fairly calculable expectations. output. rather. Gabriel Kolko presents considerable evidence that the regulated industries were a primary influence on the Progressive Era regulatory state. predictability. 3. the organization of the economy and the larger political and social spheres in a manner that will allow corporations to function in a predictable and secure environment permitting reasonable profits over the long run. it became apparent to many important businessmen that only the national government could rationalize the economy. have unwittingly served the interests of the regulated. 4-5. Contrary to the high school American history version. 7 Gabriel Kolko. unsuccessful business efforts to bring irresistible competitive trends under control. Competition was unacceptable to many key business and financial interests. The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History. Ironically. 8 Ibid. THE REGULATORY STATE: MYTH AND REALITY 111 The general phenomenon includes all cases where “progressive” regulators. but the lack of it.. was this: Despite the large numbers of mergers. After a public relations disaster involving tainted canned meat imported into Europe from Armour.

9 Ibid. The Meat Inspection Act was actually passed to close this loophole. where the regulars like to rub libertarians’ noses in the alleged fact that the Gilded Age conditions against which the Progressive Era state reacted were “laissez-faire”: “If you want to see a laissez-faire free market. and March 1971. “Of course.”10 But despite the facts of the matter the Meat Inspection Act has endured in liberal mythology as the premier example of “Great Trust-buster” TR’s knighterrantry against “malefactors of great wealth.”11 The liberal panacea for remedying such problems is structural reform: campaign finance regulations. As Roy Childs put it.112 CHAPTER 3. restrictions on contact with lobbyists. for the same reason as the recent extension—at the behest of the big brewers—of Wisconsin brewing regulations to cover microbreweries. Much or pp. since the regime was of essentially the same sort that would have been established by an industry cartel. It served as a sort of official seal of approval that was useful for marketing purposes. February 1971. and restriction on corporate employment of former regulators or legislators.” The idealistic novelist Upton Sinclair served as a useful idiot.” Reason. in other words. by clothing this cynical government-industry collusion in the goo-goo raiment of “general welfare. was that it exempted the small meat-packing firms that produced solely for the domestic market.. Its main shortcoming. we find that there’s a similar story behind most “public interest” <http://praxeology.htm>. 12-18. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION government had established an inspection system for all meat-packers producing for the export trade. 9-12. in any movement it is impossible to avoid having some people go with you temporarily whose reasons are different from yours and may be very bad indeed. from the perspective of the regulated meat-packers. far from being spurred to action by Upton Sinclair’s account of the meat-packing industry. pp. to avoid giving a competitive advantage to the small 10 Ibid. I have an utter contempt for him. but because it was imposed across the board on all the meat export firms—which included all the large packers—it wasn’t an issue of cost competition between them. Thus in the beef packing business I found that Sinclair was of real use.” and as the paradigmatic example of public-spirited regulation to restrain the excesses of Gilded Age “laissezfaire.” And when we look at the man behind the curtain. And because it was a government-enforced cartel.” That’s a standard talking point on the comment threads at Daily Kos. the great Progressive Teddy Roosevelt. pp. 11 Roy Childs. 112. it avoided the destabilizing threat of defection. just read The Jungle. This was actually done in the interest of the regulated industry. “Big Business and the Rise of American Statism. 98-112. p. . Interestingly. regarded him as a useful idiot in the service of an agenda that Roosevelt adopted for his own purposes. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t a problem just because of political collusion or deliberate attempts to manipulate regulations. Reproduced by Roderick Long at Praxeology. public financing of campaigns. historically “liberal intellectuals” have been “the ’running dogs’ of big businessmen.9 It was passed.

” New Left Review 58. It does so because the very structure of the corporate economy and the situations it creates confront the state leadership with what is perceived as an objective reality. It doesn’t solve the problem of the revolving door. It doesn’t solve the problem that politicians need the “legislative subsidy” of lobbyists to do policy analysis. Presumably the people who make the F-22 will still be allowed to advertise about how high levels of defense spending are awesome.1. quoted in G. “But now. can they [the state] allow key units of the private corporate economy to break down in slump?”13 In essence. this doesn’t solve the problem that when Washington regulates the financial system.12 The state doesn’t just serve corporate interests because it’s controlled by them in a crudely instrumental sense—although it may well be. William Domhoff. Nor does it solve the problem of monied interests exercising disproportionate influence over think tanks.3. Power Elite. and moreover a chance and contingent one. 73. As Matthew Yglesias wrote of “getting money out of politics”: To me. just as ExxonMobile will still 12 Nicos Poulantzas. To quote Nicos Poulantzas: The direct participation of members of the capitalist class in the state apparatus and in the government. of this objective coincidence. given its functional role in the larger system. p. 13 Mills. “The Problem of the Capitalist State. in response to what it perceived as its objective imperatives. the policy-making apparatus would act based on the logic of the overall system within which it was embedded. the crudely instrumentalist stuff is an epiphenomenon of the structural stuff. it’s dependent for expertise on people with ties to the financial industry. 8. 1990). . or even (through speaking fees and the like) journalists and pundits. p. mass unemployment or large-scale capital flight. THE REGULATORY STATE: MYTH AND REALITY 113 most of the problem would remain even if all election campaigns were publicly financed. given political expectations and military commitments. advocacy groups. The relation between the bourgeois class and the State is an objective relation. The leadership of the state. inevitably finds itself confronted with the need to stabilize and reproduce the corporate capitalist system as it finds it. 19. it is by reason of the system itself: the direct participation of members of a ruling class in the State apparatus is not the cause. and there were real restrictions on the rotation of personnel between state and corporate hierarchies. is not the important side of the matter. even where it exists. but the effect. This means that if the function of the State in a determinate social formation and the interests of the dominant class in this formation coincide. The Power Elite and the State: How Policy is Made in America (New York: Aldine de Gruyter. p. The perspective of the so-called “structural Marxists” is relevant here: The state does not have to serve as an instrument of capitalist interests in the crude sense of being influenced by subjective motivations like personal interconnections and bribery—the so-called “instrumentalist” theory of the state. Even with public financing and other procedural reforms. Such imperatives include avoiding a stock market crash that cleans out 401k accounts.

.. 14 Matthew Yglesias. The interesting point is how impossible it is for such men to divest themselves of their engagement with the corporate world in general and with their own corporations in>.. “What Problem is ’Getting Money Out of Politics’ Supposed to Solve?” Think Progress. 2011<http://thinkprogress. 285. And it’s too difficult for elected officials to get expert technical opinion on issues without relying on interested parties. see one another socially and at business.15 Charlie Wilson really did believe what was good for GM was good for America. p. their interests. But by an invisible hand mechanism. as a set of groups whose members know one another... .” It’s too difficult for non-incumbent candidates to get any money. I’d say that in general. the problems we have with money and politics aren’t really that there’s too much money “in” the politics and we need to get it “out. 15 Mills. a functionally instrumental view of the state does not require the assumption that all political actors are cynical operators out for the main chance. such idealists get their ideas put into practice only when they coincide with the interests of the regulated industries. To ask a man suddenly to divest himself of these interests and sensibilities is almost like asking a man to become a woman. addressing any concrete issues. Not only their money. 11. but similar assumptions about the only “normal” way of organizing the functions they oversee. 16 Mills.. In so far as the power elite is composed of men of similar origin and education. take one another into account. Regulators and regulated share not only similar educational and career backgrounds.. The members of the higher circles may also be conceived as members of a top social stratum. As we’ve already seen in regard to the “Baptists and Bootleggers” phenomenon. You’ll have created some big new logistical hassles for political campaigns without. The disposal of stock is. Many politicians—particularly the marginal ones on the fringes of their own party establishments—are sincere idealists.. and so.. there are psychological and social bases for their unity.16 I. Power Elite. Power Elite. I think. in so far as their careers and their styles of life are similar. of course. Even those whose personal integrity and idealism are beyond reproach operate based on a largely implicit set of views of what is possible and what is the obvious or natural response to a given problem. but their friends. in making decisions.14 Consider also what Mills had to say about divestiture of investments by corporate leaders appointed to political posts. merely a purification ritual. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION be allowed to advertise about how fossil fuel extraction is the road to prosperity. The point is not so much financial or personal interest in a given corporation. but identification with the corporate world. p.114 CHAPTER 3. resting upon the fact that they are of similar social type and leading to the fact of their easy intermingling. September 27. The above-mentioned Sinclair is a good example. their training—their lives in short—are deeply involved in this world.

THE REGULATORY STATE: MYTH AND REALITY II. .” and their mindset is characterized by what C. Freedom(TM) 18 Mills. are the structure and the mechanics of those institutional hierarchies over which the political directorate. . and the high military now preside. Dye. Such people are to be distinguished from the glad-handing.” The “very serious people” used to be called “the best and the brightest”—or in Ward Churchill’s terminology. They need to be told what to think. Slavery was just control.3.”19 Libertarian Robert Higgs brilliantly summarized the crackpot realist mindset in his appreciation of Mills: For Mills. this signified a frame of mind characteristic of what another elite theorist. a government agency. . . This miracle of modern civilization doesn’t just happen. Crackpot realists.. *** “’Bastards like me’ serve a purpose. back-slapping buffoons who seek and gain election to public office. 17 Ibid. The electoral office seekers are specialists: they know how to get votes. what to do. People need order. At its worst. Thomas R. after the election. what to believe. Slavery existed everywhere—even in the United States. or any other sort of large operating organization. but as a rule they know nothing about how to “run a railroad. Wright Mills. the elected office holders always turn to the serious people to run the show—the Dick Cheneys and the Donald Rumsfelds.” whether that railroad be a business. The Causes of World War Three 19 Daniel Suarez.” and quietly does it behind the scenes. So. Behind such psychological and social unity as we may find. We were all slaves in one way or another. called “crackpot realism. while the idealists and sloganizers occupy the public stage. or everything will fall apart. p.” Crackpot realism amounts to the approach described by Einstein: attempting to solve a problem by the same level of thinking that created it. according to Mills. crackpot realism is personified in the character of The Major in Daemon and Freedom(TM) by Daniel Suarez. to pick not so randomly from the current corps. in The Causes of World War Three. 19.1. And that [the murder of the Central American trade unionist] began his awakening—his realization that the Western World was a bedtime story of comforting humanistic bullshit. “do not set forth alternative policies. . Dye called the “very serious people. These are men who are so rigidly focused on the next step that they become creatures of whatever the main drift the opportunist actions of innumerable men brings. has called “the serious people” of the governing circles. and control kept things running in an orderly fashion. It was what made progress possible.17 115 The ruling elites of the corporate-state nexus are what Thomas R.”18 The crackpot realist’s self-image is of the grownup who understands what needs to be done to keep things functioning smoothly in “the real world. . . they do not politically oppose and politically debate the thrust toward war. “Little Eichmanns. It requires careful management by professionals willing to do whatever is necessary to keep things running smoothly. the corporate rich.

Mills explained. Visibly pained by the necessity of spelling out the facts of life. Sometimes. that they understand nothing beyond their noses and outside the circle of their own constricted understanding and experience.20 Crackpot realism is a failure of imagination: an inability to imagine alternatives outside of a limited institutional framework. ’Lack of imagination. these serious people are fools. visited a supermarket and encountered for the first time the mind-boggling technology of a bar-code reader at the checkout counter. The problem is that his principles conform to Cornford’s famous definition: “A principle is a rule of inaction giving valid general reasons for not doing in a specific instance what to unprincipled instinct would seem to be right. Strange to say.116 CHAPTER 3. an unimaginative man is often a man of the highest principles.’ Gerald W. the public must recognize that as a no-nonsense response to the harsh situation we face. simply won’t get the job done. 285. D. constantly squandering opportunities to maintain the peace. The serious people are frequently to be found “stabilizing” something or other. and its basic operating assumptions are self-evident. however. Power Elite. and how to right what’s wrong with the world. Searle & Co. a former Director of Central Any reform coming out of the system will be designed to optimize the functioning of the existing system. Reform within the system is usually carried out by the people running the system.” The Independent Institute. The reason is easy to understand. So “practical” are these serious people. These are the sorts of executives who are tempted to. they explain that childish things. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION The serious people always pretend to be the grownups. 21 Mills. the power elite does not get out much—remember the first President Bush’s amazement when he. Johnson has noted. February 18. only if one accepts their own view of how the world works. roll their eyes at the silly questions journalists ask them at press conferences.”’21 Reform within the system is usually governed by the Crackpot Realist approach. They seem to know what’s going on. ’is not to be confused with lack of principle. p. any reform must obviously be limited to tinkering around the edges.asp?id=798>. they continue to make the same sorts of disastrous decisions over and over. and sometimes actually do. Since the fundamental purpose of the system is good. “On Crackpot Realism: An Homage to C. 2003 <http://www. based on their institutional mindsets and basic assumptions about how the world works. as opposed to the starry-eyed rest of us. such as keeping the country at peace. Trouble is. the serious people have to drop some bombs here and there in order to reestablish a proper arrangement of the world’s currently disordered affairs.independent. almost invariably painting themselves into corners of their own making. and amenable to being carried out only by the managerial caste 20 Robert Higgs. Especially when these movers and shakers deal with matters of war and peace. On the contrary. . Wright Mills. if our lives depended on it. and all too often deciding that the only option that makes sense in their predicament is to bomb their way out. who couldn’t run Halliburton or G.

but because regulated industries are of necessity the primary source of data for the regulatory state.” That label is a way of evaluating ideas. but in terms of how far they deviate from the median view of the world. and can be implemented by the same classes of people who are running the present system. will be labeled “extremist.” “Objectively collusive” relationships are inevitable—even without deliberate collusion—not only because of the shared culture of regulators and regulated. recounted her experience trying to clarify statistics: . would just take us back to the original problem. Take. parallel hierarchy of numbers-crunchers inside the corporate bureaucracies. since the unstated purpose of the present system is to serve the interests of those running it (or rather. the regulatory state cannot avoid relying on largely unverifiable self-reporting by industry as the source of most of its statistics. not in terms of their truth or falsity. and whose main purpose is to secure a cultural environment which is favorable to the continued existence and power of those centralized.” Any proposal that involves changing the fundamental structure of power and disempowering the groups that run it will be called “radical. since the stated purpose is tacitly interpreted so as to be identical with those interests). a reporter with Mother Jones. otherwise known as the “moderate” position. presumably. In other words. Any political ideology that challenges the power of large. hierarchical institutions. for example. And even if the state did create its own massive.1. What’s more. hierarchical institutions.” By definition. centralized institutions. in order to function effectively and understand the businesses they were regulating they’d have to have degrees in business administration and absorb a great deal of the culture of the regulated industries—which. Hence the related concept of “extremism. or the legitimate authority of those running them. any attempt at “optimizing” the present system will translate in practice into further consolidating the power of the little Albert Speers and Bob McNamaras running things. and proposes “altering or abolishing” them rather than tinkering around the edges. Short of creating a state-appointed shadow management of regulators who’ve been sent to b-school and constitute a parallel chain of command within the corporate bureaucracy (like the parallel shadow bureaucracy of Party officials serving as deputies to the state manager at every rung in the Soviet industrial bureaucracy). is largely determined by a cultural apparatus that consists of centralized. THE REGULATORY STATE: MYTH AND REALITY 117 currently in charge of the system.3. whatever is classified as “mainstream” or “centrist” in any system of power falls within the range of positions that are compatible with preserving that system of power. Any “reform” that involves tinkering around the edges of a power structure without fundamentally changing it. the cultural reproduction apparatus–the media and schools–is designed to produce a public which accepts the organization of society around such institutions as the only possible way of doing things. will be classified as “moderate. the relationship between British Petroleum and the Naval command in charge of BP cleanup efforts in the Gulf last Spring. Mac McClelland. And the median view of the world.

23 Alex Carey. not as a way of putting the will of the majority into story. short of the Navy’s oversight operation maintaining an entire management bureaucracy parallel to BP’s own for large-scale gathering and processing of raw data? The only way to have an effective regulatory state that doesn’t rely on the Fortune 500 as its main source of data input is to create a regulatory parallel. So not only is the government releasing BP numbers as official stats. you know. And I was just—I mean.22 Again. roughly simultaneous. 2010 <http://www. though. June 14. there’s this guy from the Navy who sends out these official emails from the response center that says. According to Alex Carey. does that include. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION I wrote another piece last week when I got an email—you know.php?storyId=127836130>. where the party oversight officers were notorious for being on the take and normally entered into collusive relationships with factory managers against their own superiors. you know. Whatever the reasons and motivation. I was just curious.npr. the functional relationship between big business and big government will always be more cooperative than adversarial. this guy didn’t have a spreadsheet that could explain what the breakdown was. we don’t have to rely on Tweedledum to monitor Tweedledee. they’re not even fact-checking them. For all the reasons we considered in the previous chapter. cleaning up birds? Does that only mean people [who] are on the BP payroll? And so I called this guy from the Navy and asked him. And it took several days for BP to get it back to him. Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty . for example. has been to prevent the formal 22 “Op-Ed: Reporters Covering Oil Spill Stymied” (transcript) NPR.23 The central problem for “actually existing representative democracy. do you have the breakdown for these numbers? And he said.118 CHAPTER 3. but as a way of protecting ruling elites from the public. Those are BP’s numbers and so I’m going to have to get back to you on that. here’s what we’ve been doing. the entry barrier to being a watchdog has fallen to virtually zero. Audubon volunteers who are. here’s how the cleanup effort is going.” in other words. emerged around the turn of the twentieth century: the rise of formal democracy with universal suffrage. the rise of big business.000 responders working on the spill right now. I don’t have them and they’re not actually our numbers. I mean. here are. And I called this lieutenant commander to ask him to check up on one of the stats which said that there are 24. though. Three broad trends. Thanks to desktop computers and the Internet. they would operate about as independently of each other as the managerial and Party bureaucracies in the Soviet industrial ministries. all the stats that you need. where would this lieutenant commander have obtained his own spreadsheet for fact-checking BP’s numbers. the 20th century model of representative “democracy” emerged. embedded bureaucracy on the same scale as Fortune 500 management—and in practice. and the need to protect big business from democracy.

3. “Julian Assange. INDIVIDUAL SUPEREMPOWERMENT 119 democracy from becoming actual—to preserve the rules of formal democracy while preventing the exercise of any real power by a popular majority.. was only accessible to very large organisations. 27 Felix Stalder. democracy says. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. 28 John Robb.2 Individual Superempowerment According to Tom Coates.. as quoted in the previous chapter. “Leaks. and government by influential people. delegation of sovereignty. 3. The General Idea of the Revolution in the XIX Century.”28 Open-source warfare “enables individuals and groups to take on much larger foes. August 15.n.”24 The model of democracy promoted by ruling elites is a system “with regular elections but no serious challenge to business rule”—as opposed to “a system in which citizens may play some meaningful part in the management of public affairs.2. November 6. not through the representative state. production—openly available that. 26 Pierre-Joseph .27 The result is what John Robb calls “individual superempowerment”: “the ability of one individual to do what it took a large company or government agency to do a couple of decades ago.. Ch. Proudhon.. The individual has access to a wide array of infrastructures formerly available only through large /2010/08/global-guerrilla-julianassange.typepad.. knowledgeable people—to connect these pieces into a powerful platform from which to act. the People reigns and does not govern.” as the power of individuals and small groups is amplified via access to open networks (that grow in value according to Metcalfe’s law = Internet growth + social networks running in parallel) and off the 24 25 Noam Chomsky. It now takes relatively little—a few dedicated. 11.”25 Proudhon compared representative democracy to constitutional monarchy: The illusion of democracy springs from that of constitutional Monarchy’s example--claiming to organize Government by representative means. but through voluntary>.” n. financing. What they always want is inequality of fortunes.. the King reigns and does not govern. As Walter Lippmann put it.. communication.. the desktop revolution has had an enormous effect in blurring the distinction in quality between work done within large organizations and that done by individuals at home.html>. 2010 <http://remix. As Felix Stalder writes: There is a vast amount of infrastructure—transportation. Instead of saying. Whistle-Blowers and the Networked News Ecology.” Global Guerrillas. Deterring Democracy.26 The network revolution may mean the final realization of the very thing that Bernaise et al tried to thwart: the achievement of genuine democratic self-rule..openflows.. the public must remain “spectators of action” rather than “participants. until recently.

” It doesn’t elicit the same levels of personal 31 Malcolm Gladwell. a corporate consultant who writes on these issues from the standpoint (and that’s an understatement) of the corporation. But he’s assuming that the amount of effort needed to combat hierarchies is itself fairly constant. Gladwell sounds a bit like an aging geek boasting that “in my day. a cheap substitute for commitment. as exemplified by the “Leo Szlyck” character in Jeremy Leven’s Satan. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas.. of the kind organized through social media. as did (say) the sit-ins of the Civil Rights era. Inc. we had to 29 John Robb.’” He illustrates the basic principle with a saying of Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice. Malcolm Gladwell dismisses networked activism. The whole point of networked organization is that it shifts the balance of power. are a plus. “Open Warfare and Replication. October 4. The amount of damage that one pissed-off individual can do to a hierarchy with little or no danger to herself is increasing exponentially. 44-45. The beauty of individual super-empowerment is that it lowers the levels of cost or sacrifice required to inflict major defeats on hierarchical targets.” or “who is mad enough and persistent enough to make your life ’hell. The reduced levels of risk made possible by new technologies of encryption. “Twitter.29 Richard Telofski. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION shelf technology (that grows rapidly in power due to the onslaught of Moore’s law and the market’s relentless productization).” New Yorker. describes something that sounds quite similar to Robb’s individual superempowerment. which he ignores. Insidious Competition: The Battle for Meaning and the Corporate Image (New York and Bloomington: iUniverse. in terms of destroying his target’s life. who threatened to “clear my desk of all my other cases and make your life a living hell. But the new possibilities offered by network organization make Szlyck’s efforts look positively tame by comparison. pp. or require the same levels of sacrifice from those buying into it.newyorker. on the grounds that it’s “built on weak ties. versus hierarchies: the rapidly declining amount of effort it takes for a motivated individual to put a serious hurt on a large institution. when he got a serious hard-on against eporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell>. After quoting Mark Twain on the folly of picking a fight with “a man who buys his ink by the barrel. Facebook and Social Activism. September 20.typepad. His reference to the level of commitment needed to “persevere in the face of danger” is begging the question. is the shift in the relative balance of power between individuals and small groups.” Global Guerrillas. enabling networked movements to operate under the cover of darknets. . he says. 2010).”30 Of course it was possible for determined individuals even before the digital/network revolution.120 CHAPTER 3.” Telofski updates the principle for the 21st century: “never get in a dispute with someone with access to a computer. to inflict serious punishment through nothing but letters and phone calls. 30 Richard Telofski. The real change. 2010 <http://www.html>. Gladwell argues that the levels of effort and commitment involved in most networked participation are quite casual compared to the dedicated effort required for real change. Szlyck’s method was quite effecitve.31 I think this misses the point. It is.

this is totally missing the point. make it possible for even a few individuals to organize a movement with cosmic effectiveness in cases where their resources would have limited them to chaotic attacks just a few years earlier. But. “The Revolution Will Be Distributed: Wikileaks. and stigmergic organization. The increased ease of draw32 Mike Masnick. as Mike Masnick pointed out. October 26.32 A good example is the minimal effort required to spark the Occupy Wall Street action. Malcolm Gladwell recently got some attention for a [sic] writing a New Yorker piece dumping on Twitter. rather than the “weak” ties found on Twitter. He ignores the extent to which individual and small group superempowerment. suggests something a bit more powerful than just a bunch of folks talking about eating lunch on the internet. to ignore the rising power (for good or bad) of groups of people who can connect (often anonymously) in a distributed fashion to do things that shake foundations and lead government officials to demand they be killed. or about whether a group of folks online were able to change the course of history yet. whose proximate cause—as we shall see in the appendix—was just a tweet from the Adbusters editorial Anonymous And How Little The Old Guard Realizes What’s Going On. Richard Telofski uses the terms “chaotic” and “cosmic” to distinguish the uncoordinated individual posting of negative information by consumers and workers on the Internet from coordinated efforts by organizations.” But he neglects the possibility that the level of risk itself is not a constant—that warfare against state and corporate hierarchies is becoming a progressively lower-risk situation because of advances in network technology. They haven’t. saying that “real” revolutions come from the strong ties that bind people together. As David de Ugarte has argued. But the distinction is overblown. But.2. 2010 <http://www. . as many people have already responded. INDIVIDUAL SUPEREMPOWERMENT 121 use a slide rule!” Gladwell himself admits that an advantage of network structures is that they are “enormously resilient and adaptable in low-risk situations. But networked organization drastically lowers the transaction costs entailed in a single node of committed activists leveraging support through the network.shtml>. and drastically increases the size of the larger coalition which the committed activists can leverage from the less committed.” either. Of course none of this means that networked movements will lack a core of activists with the same level of commitment as the civil rights activists of fifty years ago. even in networked activism a single node will generally be the source of new initiatives. And whether or not they require the same levels of effort and risk as your grandfather’s activism back in the day. This isn’t just about “Twitter. achieving significant real-world results. The whole point of superempowerment is that the risk and cost entailed in organizing against the state are becoming lower and lower. the examples of Wikileaks and Anonymous make it clear that in our day networks are.” Techdirt.techdirt.

January 4. whether the contributor is strongly or weakly motivated. it comes out to mere pennies on the dollar per community member. They just wouldn’t have given the money. Would Gladwell prefer the strongly committed act alone without the additional help? As Adam Thierer wrote in response to a similar argument from Evgeny Morozov: . the sheer increase in efficiency network organization via the Internet makes possible in performing the routine administrative tasks of traditional activist organizations: 33 Adam Thierer. Movements are better off by the amount of each additional contribution. even if Gladwell wants to dismiss the significance of “activism” that consists of clicking a PayPal widget to contribute a few bucks. . and I conclude that the net is helping millions of people wake up to the fact that they can do something about the causes they care about and that some fraction of those people will go on to do>. and reflect on the fact that every committed. but does Morozov really want to us to believe that more of that sort of thing would happen in the absence of the Net and digital technology?33 Cory Doctorow suggests that Morozov’s snide approach—and the same critique applies to Gladwell—reflects a serious ignorance of real-world>. it’s not like that person would have attended meetings and participated in marches absent such alternatives. I look at the same phenomenon and compare it to the activist world I knew before the internet. “We need a serious critique of net activism... Morozov observes the hundreds of thousands— such as changing their Twitter avatar or signing an online petition and concludes that the ease of minimal participation has diffused their activist energy. “Book Review: The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov. either. as he points out. lifelong activist I know started out as someone who took some small casual step and went on to greater and deeper involvement. But so what? Do we know if those communities or causes would have come together at all or spent more money without digital communications and networking technologies? It is certainly true that merely setting up a new cyber-cause and giving a few bucks to it isn’t the same as going on a mission to Africa to build homes and water systems. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION ing additional support from the less committed does not reduce the preexisting number of the more committed who would have participated anyway.” The Guardian.122 CHAPTER 3. 2011 <http://www. It just increases the bang for the buck from that preexisting level of commitment. January 25. in which the people who could be coaxed into participating in political causes were more apt to number in the hundreds or thousands.34 Not to mention. and more. and more.. even—of people who are motivated to take some small step in support of a cause.” The Technology Liberation Front. And on the other hand. 34 Cory Doctorow.Morozov belittles some of the online communities that have formed to support various charitable or civic causes by arguing that if you divide the number of members of such online groups by the aggregate amount of money they raise. 2011 <http://techliberation.

Each independent contribution comprises as large or small an investment as its owner-operator cares to make. Although the nodes vary widely in granularity. I’m confident that for every task that is automated by the internet. the Web is performing the task of media watchdog. if at all. INDIVIDUAL SUPEREMPOWERMENT As to the question of privation as being key to hardening activists’ commitment. where they were immediately available for anyone to see. Yochai Benkler expresses the same concept in terms of the “granularity” of the Web. not having to rely on “getting the scoop” to earn his dinner. about demonstrations. petition or public meeting (Morozov minimises the difficulty of this. and 35 Ibid. he could upload them onto his Web site. Kick spent some number of hours preparing and filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Defense Department. stigmergic organization and modularity mean that the transaction costs of cooperation between large and small nodes—and hence of leveraging a much larger scale of action than a single large node could achieve by itself—are radically lowered. Together. He was able to do so over some period. trivia trove. I remember the thousands of personhours we used to devote to putting up flyposters.S. they form a vast almanac. Imagine that you were trying to evaluate how. difficult-to-simplify tasks will well up to take their place. I’m sure that if we’d been able to get the word out to thousands of people with the click of a mouse. that drudge work absorbed the lion’s share of our time and our capacity to think up new and exciting ways to make change.3. new.. by word of mouth. that Iranians would just find out. we wouldn’t have hung up our placards and called it a day. for example. seeking photographs of coffins of U. because no single permission point or failure point is present in the architecture of the Web—it is merely a way of conveniently labeling documents stored independently by many people who are connected to the Internet. When Kick eventually got the photographs. Consider one example. or the size of the nodes. and running telephone trees simply to mobilise people for a protest. At the same time.” it is highly modular and diversely granular.. Because each contribution like Kick’s can be independently created and stored.—as an “information service. stuffing envelopes. military personnel killed in Iraq.35 123 Seriously: do people like Gladwell and Morozov really believe the Seattle protests or Occupy Wall Street would ever have happened without the spontaneous swarming potential enabled by the Web? I’m surprised these good industrial age liberals haven’t tried to prohibit unlicensed activism without the supervision of properly qualified professionals. regardless of their tools – which leads me to suspect that he never tried to organise a demonstration in the pre-internet era). or that they happened to stumble across in their own daily lives. tens of thousands of other individual Web publishers and bloggers were similarly spending their time hunting down stories that moved them.: The Memory Hole. As a lifelong political activist. a freelance author and editor.2. asserting. . a Web site created and maintained by Russ Kick...

was being qualified to write an entire article. 2008). The additional leverage of weaker ties does not negate or subtract from the preexisting strong ties. Even someone who knows only a bit about a subject can use what she knows to improve the article. about whatever they want.” In the years since then. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Penguin Books. . coordinating their own small efforts with the larger project through the common platform without any central coordinating authority. added external links. pp. the contributor need only be qualified to add the specific material. 102-103. Until some scholar was recognized as qualified to write an entire article and was also prepared to contribute the full effort of doing so. nothing would be written at all.. to name but a few. failed because it was hard to get any one expert to write an entire article for free. So stigmergic organization can leverage many. Wikipedia’s predecessor Nupedia. According to Clay Shirky. can achieve more on the Netwar or “corporate campaign” model—by leveraging weaker ties to a large number of other organizations. pp. if it was. and weaker ties to sympathetic individuals—than it could in the old days when it would have had to rely entirely on the strong ties of its own members. Of his own experiences in contributing to an article on The Wealth of Networks.124 CHAPTER 3. produced by millions of people at their leisure—whenever they can or want to. Individuals can make small contributions to a larger project. an attempt at creating a “professional” online encyclopedia with entire articles solicited from experts. a traditional activist organization like a union or civil rights organization. 118-119. 37 Clay 36 Benkler.36 To put it in Gladwell’s terms. and the editors representing an organization with the capital to underwrite an encyclopedia could be persuaded to substitute one for the other.37 In the old days. Strong ties and weak ties together are stronger than strong ties alone. improved the wording of previous contributions. etc. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION news and commentary facility. the threshold for making a contribution to an encyclopedia article. whatever errors were in it would remain until someone else was qualified and willing to write an entire new article. And once the article was written. That’s the beauty of the stigmergic form of organization we examined in the previous chapter: the barriers to small contributions from independent actors are lowered. many small contributions that wouldn’t have been worth the transaction costs of coordinating them in the old days. the original Wikipedia stub on asphalt in March 2001 simply read “Asphalt is a material used for road coverings. composed of a membership with strong ties and high levels of commitment. like that for writing the entire article. But millions of people who wouldn’t feel competent to write an entire article independently do feel competent to add a bit of information to one that already exists. But under the rules of stigmergic association that prevail at Wikipedia. The lowered threshold for contributing makes individual thresholds less granular. thousands of individual contributors added bits of text. Shirky. with their incremental contributions adding up to an article comparable in quality to those in “professional” encyclopedias.

much smaller. p. the number of potential readers who could fix my mistake was larger still. there are many more people like me than there are mathematicians who understand the Snowflake in all its complexity.3. Either way.. p. What Hanni and Streeting did instead was to lower the hurdles to doing something in the first place. so that people who cared a little could participate a little. shortly after I posted my change.. Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves. “The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller.2.. 175-183. The old model for coordinating group action required convincing people who care a little to care more. modular projects like the Linux community. so that they would be roused to act. pp. fixing my typo required no knowledge of the subject at al. The same is true of stigmergic. immediately available at no cost to the entire network. INDIVIDUAL SUPEREMPOWERMENT the Koch snowflake (an example of a fractal). To propose my edit.. thanks to stigmergic organization. Shirky gives the examples of the Flyers Rights movement sparked by the eight-hour diversion of several American Airlines flights to Austin in 2006. but not many care enough to do anything about it on their own.. 40 Ibid. . than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something. large contributions can be leveraged by a large number of small movements.. 39 Ibid.. and student protests against HSBC’s 2007 announcement—with no advance warning—that it was canceling its free overdraft protection policy. Similarly. I only had to know a bit about the Koch snowflake. Having a handful of highly motivated people and a mass of barely motivated ones used to be a recipe for frustration.40 By the same token—as we saw earlier—new tactics developed at enormous cost by one node are now. Many people care a little about the treatment they get from airlines or banks. but the other users didn’t. while being effective in aggregate. 132. someone went in and fixed the spelling. So not only can small contributions be leveraged by large movements. both because that kind of effort is hard and because individual actions have so little effect on big corporations. the contributions of each become a common-pool resource of all.. as a result.”39 In the case of social activism. Social networking technology made it possible to leverage support from those with only limited motivation. Shirky writes: You may have noticed that I accidentally introduced a mistake in my edit. writing “ad infitum” when I should have written “ad infinitum.” I missed this at the time I wrote the entry. and the transaction costs of aggregating all con38 Ibid.38 125 In Wikipedia as in the networked activism dismissed by Gladwell. 239. the larger project can incorporate efforts that would previously have been too small to bother with. My mistake had been fixed.. my improvement improved.

Back in 2002. or to the dominant groups in the ruling political coalition.” Because of transaction costs a long list of possible goods and services never became actual goods and services. Those who once expected dot-coms to revolutionize democracy now feel embarrassed at their hyperbole. 2002). the answer was “Those things don’t happen.C. But hierarchies carried their own institutional costs. and the obstacles that prevented sharing on a global scale are now gone. Before the network revolution. that has materialized. given the time he was writing in.” in Leslie David Simon. things like aggregating amateur documentation of the London transit bombings were simply outside the realm of possibility. 30. That collection now exists because people have always desired to share. But if the old regulatory bureaucracy could do only a few big things—with apologies to Isaiah Berlin—the desktop regulatory state can do many things. Few major transformations in politics seem to be occurring. in fact.. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION tributions—large and small—disappear. which meant that a regulatory bureaucracy could focus on only a few issues at a time—generally those most important to the people at the top of the hierarchy.0 technologies like social media. But a lot of it was natural. organized through Web 2. associated with stigmergic organization.126 CHAPTER 3. Sure.41 Looking back from my vantage point nine years later—I write the first draft of this passage in October 2011. (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press. To quote Clay Shirky again: What happens to tasks that aren’t worth the cost of managerial oversight? Until recently. Javier Corrales noted that the hopes of “cyber-enthusiasts”—that “[t]he Internet would empower the political Davids. which we saw in the previous chapter. Democracy and the Internet: Allies or Adversaries? Woodrow Wilson Center Press.0 that made possible the revolution. nine months after the beginning of the Arab Spring and on the eve of Bloomberg’s threat to clear out Occupy Wall Street—it’s easy to laugh at Corrales’ dismissal. p. His identification of the dotcoms with the hope for democracy is very telling.. 3. D..3 The “Long Tail” in Regulation The very same “long tail” phenomenon of incorporating small efforts at minimal transaction cost also applies to networked regulatory state functions. the collapse of the dotcom bubble and with it the dead hand of Web 1. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2002 further dampened the mood of cyber-enthusiasts. Washington. “Lessons from Latin America. and restrain the Goliaths by making their actions easier to scrutinize”—never materialized. ed. he really was to blame for missing the significance of stuff like Seattle and the campaigns against Nike and Shell. Think of these activities as 41 Javier Corrales. That’s a result of the lowered transaction costs of leveraging and aggregating small efforts. large-scale efforts were organized through hierarchies in order to reduce the transaction costs involved in coordinating actions between individuals. . It was.

used to focus on a few. p. p. in particular. 77. 44 Ibid. As we saw the authors of Natural Capitalism argue. formerly a trustee of the Internet Society.4. a lot of stuff just didn’t get done at all. they are valuable to someone but too expensive to be taken on in any institutional way. and addressing the other 20% through spot heating/cooling. likewise. p. one can reduce costs to an enormous degree. long-tail regulatory state. It was an illustration of the 20/80 rule. It was just another example of centralized infrastructure that had to be scaled to peak load. NETWORKED RESISTANCE AS AN EXAMPLE OF DISTRIBUTED INFRASTRUCTURE127 lying under a Coasean floor. old-style activist movement had to maintain an ongoing organizational apparatus with at least a minimal permanent infrastructure and staff. with 80% of costs coming from the infrastructure required to handle the last 20% of the load.. can expose any behavior they find objectionable. . even though peak loads occurred only a tiny fraction of the time. because the basic and unsheddable costs of being an institution in the first place make those activities not worth pursuing. 47.42 Back when the only choices were doing stuff through institutions and not doing it at all. In the words of Scott Bradner. Now it is the regulated industries that use the old-line regulatory state to suppress the fine-tuned. 45. The classic 42 Shirky. That’s changed.”43 This long tail is a natural outgrowth of the stigmergic principle we examined in the previous chapter. Now let’s consider networked resistance in light of the principles we discussed there. regardless of the actual level of activity. is much more ephemeral and can operate on a much leaner basis. by designing a central heating or cooling system to handle only the first 80% of the load. A conventional. Stuff that once was important to someone but not important enough to justify the cost just to satisfy the limited demand can now be done at little or no cost by small groups or individuals. A distributed infrastructure that’s mainly mainly at end-points. Information warriors and open-mouth saboteurs (see below). 43 Ibid. or whistle-blowing sites.4 Networked Resistance as an Example of Distributed Infrastructure Think back to our discussion in Chapter One of distributed infrastructure.”44 The regulatory state. “Loosely coordinated groups” not only perform functions once performed by large institutions. but “can now achieve things that were out of reach for any other organizational structure.. Networked reputational and rating systems can provide information on any aspect of corporate and other institutional performance that someone finds of interest. 3.. minimal standards. Now the desktop regulatory state can tailor “regulations” to those who consume them. “The internet means you don’t have to convince anyone else that something is a good idea before trying it. basic..3.. Here Comes Everybody.

. pp....... e-tactic organizing is easy to shut off and restart later. could produce quick rushes of participation when a call for participation is made.. flash activism.. We expect that the ease of participation„ then. it is possible to have both flash-style activism and varying levels of activity by any given potential participant.. rapid. [S]tarting a second petition is no harder years after a first one than it would be the next day.... but short-lived contention..[S]ince the central tools needed to create e-tactics are usually software routines and databases. distributed/networked activism can scale particular actions to the needs of the moment without the need to maintain permanent. rather than the slow and costly physical massing of forces in a single spatial formation (the basis of military theories from Airland Battle to Fourth Generation Warfare). there has never before been an opportunity to be a five-minute activist who navigates between participating in an e-tactic. is not about a steady and long stream of contention. [W]hy not just shut off a movement and turn it back on later? Why not organize around something that is short term? Why not organize whenever the time seems right and not organize when it doesn’t seem so? Without social movement activists to support. it is about the effectiveness of overwhelming. by Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport: As we have shown.. and doing job-related work on a computer. . . In military terms. 184-186. Further. mobilizations can go forward as long as some people have some time each day.. unlike traditional organizing.128 CHAPTER 3. high-overhead infrastructure between actions. there can be real on and off switches that perhaps have fewer repercussions to a campaign’s ability to mobilize. not the knowledge inside long-term activists’ minds.. a local wireless meshwork (in which the endpoints themselves are routers) replacing a last-mile fiber-optic infrastructure..... 45 Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport. the principle of mass can be achieved through coordination of fire from widely dispersed forces. Now read this passage from Digitally Enabled Social Change. Instead. 2011). checking Facebook. distributed manufacturing system on the Emilia-Romagna model makes it possible to scale production to spot demand without the imperative to full capacity utilization and push distribution to amortize the high ongoing overhead from expensive mass production machinery.. flash drives might hold the organizing blueprints (through archived Web pages and software) that allow online protest actions to be remounted in the future. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION example of ephemeralization was Bucky Fuller’s: a few tons of communications satellites replacing thousands of tons of transoceanic cable.45 So just as a lean. If potential participants have time one day and not the next. these rushes of participation don’t require high relative participation rates. Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age (Cambridge and London: MIT Press. There have only been opportunities to spend hours or more coming together with people and put oneself in harm’s way. Instead of SMOs [Social Movement Organizations]. Or in more recent times.. On the participant’s side. Given that this is true..

can the stakes be lower. pp. hence the greater the ability of an enterprise to weather slow periods without going in the hole. does a few big things—results from the high cost of doing anything. But when the stakes are much lower. John Robb described in Open Source Insurgency. 187-188. . As Earl and Kimport argue. I argued (or rather quoted Eric Hunting’s argument) that open source. A common.. 187.4. too?47 This last—the lessening of stakes as overhead costs become lower—is the same principle I described for the economic and industrial realm in Homebrew Industrial Revolution: the lower the capital outlays and other sources of overhead or fixed costs. social movements have traditionally been about “weighty issues” because they have been expensive to create and grow. and the larger the portion of the revenue stream that’s free and clear in good periods. open-source library of techniques based on the past collective experiences of a wide body of local movements and nodes of movements enables the experience of any one node to become the common property of all—the same way an mp3 stripped of DRM by one geek and hosted on a torrent site becomes the freely-available property of every non-tech-savvy grandma who wants to hear the song.”46 The “short tail” in conventional activism. and Cory Doctorow described in the file-sharing movement. In The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto. The basic toolkit of techniques. for individual nodes to use when and how they see fit. “In the modern repertoire. NETWORKED RESISTANCE AS AN EXAMPLE OF DISTRIBUTED INFRASTRUCTURE129 The reference to “organizing blueprints” being held on hard drives to “allow online protest actions to be remounted in the future” is relevant to our discussion in Chapter Two of the module—platform basis of network organization. with apologies to Berlin’s hedgehog. It’s the same basic principle—as we saw in Chapter One—that Eric Raymond described in the free software movement. 47 Ibid. leading people to only attempt to create (and likely only succeed in creating) a movement when the stakes are high enough to justify the costs. or even to a meta-movement (like the complex of Arab Spring/M15/Syntagma/Occupy movements). p. the lower the revenue stream required to service them. 46 Ibid. software and templates of a networked movement—many of them developed through the experience of many local nodes—is available as a platform to the entire movement. tactics are in fact thought to be modular so that multiple movements could benefit from the same tactical form.. as we saw in the previous section of this chapter—which. it becomes possible to create new movements suited to “niche markets” at virtually zero marginal cost. module/platform designs are a way of minimizing R&D unit costs by spreading them out over an entire product ecology. When the basic infrastructure of activism is distributed and available for any movement or node to piggyback off of free of charge.3.

2000. has been accessed approximately sixty-five million times.S. and offers a debating room where McDonald’s workers can exchange horror stories about McWork under the Golden Arches. Even back in the 1990s. the Mexican government was caught completely off guard by the amount of scrutiny its campaign against the Zapatistas received. allowing them to broadcast their sit-in on the Web.. and by the extent of global support for them.. the site will still be available around the world from the other mirrors. one of the most popular destinations on the Web. every time Shell sneezes.[This medium is] less vulnerable to libel suits than more traditional media.. And the scrutiny to which government and corporate hierarchies are now liable to be subjected is far beyond their previous imagining. New Zealand and Australia.. but it would remain contained. The site not only has the controversial pamphlet online. “We had so much information about McDonald’s. The Internet played a similar role during the McLibel Trial. a group of Internet activists launched the McSpotlight Web site. and with this in mind. reported only by the local media and known only to people in the area. from Nigerian leaders living in exile to student activists around the world.48 48 Naomi Klein. . 2002). The site. The subsequent appearance of networked activism as a standard feature of political life has meant that government and corporate actors have been caught similarly off guard on a recurring basis. even after Shell officials turned off the electricity and phones.5 Informational Warfare (or Open-Mouth Sabotage) Perhaps the single most important way consumer and worker networks act as countervailing powers against corporate institutions is by exposing them to scrutiny. And when a group of activists occupied part of Shell’s U. pp. [McSpotlight programmer] Ben explains that while McSpotlight’s server is located in the Netherlands. catapulting London’s grassroots anti-McDonald’s movement into an arena as global as the one in which its multinational opponent operates. in the darkest days of Web 1.130 CHAPTER 3. 393-395. they made sure to bring a digital camera with a cellular linkup. we thought we should start a library. . That means that if a server in one country is targeted by McDonald’s lawyers. the U.0. Headquarters in January 1999. it has “mirror sites” in Finland. No Logo (New York: Picador. But today.” Dave Morris explains. Like the Mexican government. it contains the complete 20. bouncing into the in-boxes of all the far-flung organizers involved in the campaign.000-page transcript of the trial. Naomi Klein wrote: Natural-resource companies had grown accustomed to dealing with activists who could not escape the confines of their nationhood: a pipeline or mine could spark a peasants’ revolt in the Philippines or the Congo. a report goes out on the hyperactive “shell-nigeriaaction” listserve. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION 3.. As we saw in the previous chapter.K. global corporations have been caught off guard when what once would have been isolated and easily managed local conflicts become global political causes..

uses an attacker’s own force against her.5. p. ...0. both by consumers and by workers. 51 Ibid.. 50 Ibid.. like most martial arts.52 Interestingly. The more savvy corporate bosses understand that “legal battles.. informational warfare was limited largely to static websites. Digital design and photo editing technology made it possible to make incredibly sophisticated parodies of corporate logos and advertisements.. these companies are sitting ducks. at the same time as they hurl that energy right back at the brands that have so successfully 49 Ibid. Facebook and Twitter have exploded the capabilities of informational warfare by at least an order of magnitude.. p. . back in the Mesozoic Era of Web 1.Like a good ad bust. 53 Ibid. from the brands themselves. pig—you’re on candid camera.. ..”53 And bear in mind that.are bathed in a glow... Web 2. Logos that have been burned into our brains by the finest image campaigns money can buy. create head-on collisions between image and reality. technological developments were creating unprecedented potential for culture jamming. 281. headed by Charles Kernaghan. p. “No one wants to be in the limelight because they are the target of community protests or boycotts. The last section of Naomi Klein’s No Logo discusses in depth the vulnerability of large corporations and brand name images to netwar campaigns. Corporations are immensely vulnerable to informational warfare. Next. 279-437..3. anticorporate campaigns draw energy from the power and mass appeal of marketing.. select America’s most cartoonish icons. Culture jamming is a form of political jujitsu that uses the power of corporate symbols—symbols deliberately developed to tap into subconscious drives and channel them in directions desired by the corporation—against their corporate owners.0 innovations like blogs. 288.49 She devoted special attention to “culture jamming. 351. wikis.” which involves riffing off of corporate logos and thereby “tapping into the vast resources spent to make [a] logo meaningful. p. 281.. Kernaghan’s formula is simple enough.. a lot of corporate targets shied away from taking culture jammers to court for fear the public might side with the jammers against the corporate plaintiffs—as they did against McDonald’s in the McLibel case. from literal ones like Mickey Mouse to virtual ones like Kathie Lee Gifford.54 Anticorporate activism enjoys the priceless benefits of borrowed hipness and celebrity—borrowed. First.” Kernaghan says of his corporate adversaries. p.” In the words of one advertising executive. Usenet and email. Klein borrowed Saul Alinsky’s term “political jujitsu” to describe “using one part of the power structure against another part.” Jujitsu. 52 Ibid. will clearly be fought less on legal than on political grounds.”50 A good example is the anti-sweatshop campaign by the National Labor Committee. 54 Ibid."51 At the time Klein wrote. Since then. “That gives you a certain power over them. INFORMATIONAL WARFARE (OR OPEN-MOUTH SABOTAGE) 131 Smile. pp. ironically enough. 285. “They live by their image..

the culture jammers have grown up in an age where audiences can talk back to the advertisement or mock it to one another. The content of advertising becomes just another bit of raw material for mashups.. They’re still watching the same old crap. Kathie Lee Gifford pants and other logo gear. the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto argue. Kernaghan played on the appeal of the dogs in 101 Dalmatians by comparing the living conditions of the animals on the set to those of the human sweatshop workers who produce the tie-in products. hooking all these poor bastards up. Now imagine another magic wire strung from house to house. 353. . p. In El Salvador. one-directional communications flow. Whoa! What was that?..” along with pay slips and price tags used as props to illustrate the discrepancy between worker pay and retail price.57 Culture jamming is also an illustration of the effects of network culture. 349-350. But now. Although corporate imagery is still created by people thinking in terms of one-way broadcast communication. 294.56 is much like that of “Piss Christ. primarily television. yeah. but more than that: they’re isolated from each other... Imagine for a moment: millions of people sitting in their shuttered homes at night. You can see this jujitsu strategy in action in what has become a staple of many anticorporate campaigns: inviting a worker from a Third World country to come visit a First World superstore—with plenty of cameras rolling. 57 Ibid. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION colonized our everyday lives. 351. They’re passive. pp.. still views the Web as “just an extension of preceding mass media. 56 Ibid.132 CHAPTER 3. anger. and a mixture of pain and sadness. disbelief. he pulled items out of the bag with price tags attached to show workers what their products fetch in the U.58 Corporate America. “workers screamed with shock. After a similar demonstration of Disney products in Haiti. as their eyes fixed on the Pocahontas shirt”—a reaction captured in the film Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti.” It relies on the power of the very symbol being sullied. as products once transmitted on a one-way conveyor belt from giant factory to giant retailer to consumer have now become raw material for hacking and reverse-engineering. He showed up for public appearances with “his signature shopping bag brimming with Disney clothes. during the touching love scene. bathed in that ghostly blue television aura.. the beauty of the Web is that the audience can talk back. some joker lobs an off-color aside — and everybody hears it. Few newscasts can resist the made-for-TV moment when an Indonesian Nike worker gasps as she learns that the sneakers she churned out for $2 a day sell for $120 at San Francisco Nike Town. 58 Ibid. 55 Ibid.” as Klein characterized Kernaghan’s efforts.55 The effect of “sully[ing] some of the most polished logos on the brandscape.” Corporate websites are designed on the same model as the old broadcast media: a one-to-many. p. Then. p.S. in which the audience couldn’t talk back.

” in Rick Levine.Look at how this already works in today’s Web conversation.5.html>..Marketing has been training its practitioners for decades in the art of impersonating sincerity and warmth.. remember].. and impassions and empowers through those connections. he’s not Joe Six-Pack anymore. INFORMATIONAL WARFARE (OR OPEN-MOUTH SABOTAGE) The audience is suddenly connected to itself. You hastily click through the brochureware the vendors paid thousands to have designed. and they’re not all as dumb as they look. King of the Monsters..59 . Internet Apocalypso. class.. BigDisk Hard Drives—Lifetime Guarantee!” says the ad. the media dream of the Web as another acquiescent mass-consumer market is a figment and a fantasy..... He’s no longer part of some passive couch-potato target demographic. You see what questions are being asked and you’re impressed with how well other buyers—strangers from around the world—have answered them. how long before Joe is laughing as hard as everyone else? The correct answer of course: not long at all. 2001) <http://www. You go to the sites of the three camera makers you’re considering. You want to buy a new camera. Now you go to a Usenet discussion group. Because the Net connects people to each other.” in Ibid. But marketing can no 133 59 “Chapter One. or you find an e-mail list on the topic. the hypnotic focus and tee-vee advertising carrier wave. What these little voices used to say to a single friend is now accessible to the world.3.. The point is not to watch the film. “As long as you can prove you oiled it three times a week. “Unless you flick it sideways—as I found out with the handle of my favorite cup. some bloated corporate Web site can serve as a target every bit as well as Godzilla.. 60 “Chapter Four. .” says a little voice in the market. Christopher Locke. If the Internet has 50 million people on it [this was 2001. and you finally find a page that actually gives straightforward factual information. And for such radically realigned purposes. but to outdo each other making fun of it. Doc Searls and David Weinberger. No number of ads will undo the words of the market. Compare that to the feeble sputtering of an ad. an excuse to get together.60 . So here’s a little story problem for ya. And as soon as he starts laughing. whether that “authority” is the neatly homogenized voice of broadcast advertising or the smarmy rhetoric of the corporate annual report.... becomes. What was once The Show. It undermines unthinking respect for centralized authority... The Internet is inherently seditious. “SuperDooper Glue—Holds Anything!” says your ad..” says another little voice in the market.cluetrain. but the corporations trying to make a fast buck off their asses are as dumb as they look.. You read what real customers have to say.. Markets Are Conversations. How long does it take until the market conversation punctures the exaggerations made in an ad? An hour? A day? The speed of word of mouth is now limited only by how fast people can type. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual (Perseus Books Think of Joel and the ’bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

” I find that when I do this. the people who have not yet drunk the kool-aid smile. Comments about employers spread very quickly. but I will say “OK. I will say “Let’s decide on the important stuff first and save all the bureaucratic nonsense for the end. As we already noted.” Unqualified Offerings. A good example. Painfully public. The vinegar was limited to a departmental conference room.php/archives/2011/01/18/12377>. which were so discomfiting to McDonald’s. or does it lead to us twisting ourselves into pretzels to do even simple and important things?” A touch of vinegar is the best defense against kool-aid. Now. the corporate consultant mentioned earlier who advises companies on protecting their public image against open-mouth saboteurs. and one thing we have to do is comply with a bunch of absurd rules. we’ve seen a quantum leap in the possibilities of networked organization.61 This has always been true in meatspace to some extent. when we do something absurd. the kool-aid was distributed campus-wide by a university administration transmission belt. January 18. those rules and procedures were put in place for a reason. Globally public. Nike.62 But in the meatspace model thoreau described. 62 Thoreau.. “The road to kool-aid is eroded by vinegar. If we have to make several on the inside.134 CHAPTER 3. But there’s a difference now: Previously your trash talk was kept.. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION longer keep up appearances. That trash talk has gone public. for the most part. but is it a good reason? Does it lead to a good result. writes at a time when anticorporate activists have the full resources of social media for propagating so-called “cybersmear. Network culture takes the possibilities of countering kool-aid with vinegar to an entirely new level. the inside of the company about which you were complaining.0. I make a point of saying that it is absurd. People talk. all took place within the confines of Web 1.. is the mockery of bureaucratic rules by members of a committee: One way that people start to drink kool-aid is by assimilating into absurd tasks. meritorious thing to fit into somebody’s stupid procedure. and then we’ll put this in there because somebody is insisting that we comply with this stupid rule” when we segue into the stupid part of the task. now. I don’t belabor it or turn the meeting into an hour-long gripe session. and some of them involving how we will contort this if only just by readers passing it along to their 61 Ibid. They spread from sites like JobVent. as described by blogger thoreau at Unqualified Offerings. even when doing worthwhile tasks. Shell and Kathie Lee Gifford. I was told to chair the curriculum committee. the informational warfare campaigns Naomi Klein recounted. 2011 <http://highclearing. welcome to the 21st century. Richard Telofski. Since then. .” Telofski points out that employees have been bitching about the company as long as there have been employees and companies.” My response is always “Yes. So. Very public. some of them involving the actual substance of what we’re doing. and the people who have drunk the kool-aid say “Now.

or MySpace accounts. unions. The political and media culture we live in today seems almost deliberately designed for generating glitches in the Matrix. Digg. Tony Blair was the undisputed master in this discipline .” Is it a coincidence that so far the vast majority of WikiLeaks’ material has originated from within institutions in democratic systems? I think not. Digg. Imagine if every large institution had the same control over its image that Telofski seems to think companies are entitled to: governments.. .3. the job bitching site.. churches. the JobVent. In terms of insidious competition. and MySpace. my friend. In its rhetoric. is probably greater than ever before in history. particularly in western democracies. we’re experiencing a “crisis of institutions. where moralistic rhetoric and the ugliness of daily practice are diverging ever more at the very moment when institutional personnel are being encouraged to think more for themselves. 225-227. Throughout history.. in their search results.. that’s what you’ve got a TS List for.. because that trash talk gets indexed by search engines. Western politics is becoming ever more moralising. Well. there have probably been many such people who saw the fnords: whose perception of the conflict between practice and preaching brought on a failure of ideological conditioning. for comments about that company. this means that any web surfer seeking information about a particular company may also pick up. INFORMATIONAL WARFARE (OR OPEN-MOUTH SABOTAGE) Facebook. undermining elite morale. Insidious Competition. pp. and inculcating cognitive dissonance both between rulers and ruled and among the ruled themselves. and the brutal and authoritarian reality of their actual behavior. following decades of neglect and 63 Richard Telofski. They spread even further outside the primary venue. But the Internet era for the first time reduces to almost nothing the transaction costs of bringing such people together and forming a critical mass. birthing people who see the fnords. And directly observing the latter—seeing how one’s sausage is made—is also easier than ever before. Remember Vinay Gupta’s remarks in on cognitive dissonance in the previous chapter?According to Felix Stalder. Your Employees compete with your company’s efforts to improve and maintain its image.5. The disjuncture between the democratic and humanitarian legitimizing rhetoric used by hierarchical institutions. by its nature. and the secondary venues.. such as Facebook.. generates a fairly high number of factory rejects. He could speak passionately about ’humanitarian wars’ which were supposed to advance human rights. activist groups? Should the Nazi German government’s image have been fully within the control of Josef Goebbels? Part of the reason for the effectiveness of informational warfare is cultural.63 135 Telofski is morally outraged by the idea that a company’s image is not determined primarily by the company itself.. There have always been glitches in the Matrix. The cultural reproduction apparatus. Afghanistan was to prosper under the warm attention of allied forces.

The same principle applies to the divorce between the rhetoric in the corporation’s mission statement and other Official Happy Talk. This. “Leaks. and the “privatization” of state industry to Halliburton. politics can no longer be said to pursue a historical project creating a void which has been papered over by empty moralising.openflows. give children hope and whatnot. as evidenced in the leaks from Swiss banks. November 6. To take a case in my own experience. has been at some point a well-acculturated member (this is the difference to the spy). The Iraq war—once the weapons of mass destruction turned out to be imaginary—was about liberating the Iraqi people from despotism.. all the talk about “free markets and democracy” didn’t go down well when presented alongside the reality of ratification of international “intellectual property” accords. bringing democracy to the Middle East and ushering in a new era of peace.n.136 CHAPTER 3. Whistle-Blowers and the Networked News Ecology.. It can no longer generate any lasting and positive identification from its protagonists. Since the end of the Cold War. that their job is continually in danger and that if they do not perform according to targets they can be replaced at a moment’s notice. This dissonance creates the motivational energy to move from the potential to the actual. However. the invasion was going to develop the country. or she. Western political systems seem to have lost their ability to construct overarching historical narratives that would justify and give meaning to their actions and make sense of the ugliness that is part of any war.” n. the leaker to violate procedure and actively damage the organisation of which he. rule of law and commercial opportunities. all rubber stamped by the American puppet regime in Baghdad. wars we wanted to fight. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION civil war.People are asked to identify personally with organisations who can either no longer carry historical projects worthy of major sacrifices or expressly regard their employees as nothing but expendable. With neoliberal ideology dominant. particularly in times of war. employees are told over and over not to expect anything from the company. 2010 <http://remix. if a superficial morality is all that is left. There is no greater narrative than the next quarter and generalised insecurity.. and its actual treatment of workers and consumers. there is always a gap between political rhetoric and>. The moral rationale for going to war quickly dissolves under the actual experience of war and what’s left is a cynical machinery run amok. liberate women. shortterm resources. suppression of independent unions. This time. then the encounter with the brutal day-to-day operations of the battle field is unmediated and corrosive. perhaps even demands. I think.64 In the specific case of Iraq. creates the cognitive dissonance that justifies. listening to the management of the hospital where I work talk about “extraordinary pa64 Felix Stalder. wars soldiers could be proud of fighting. there is a qualitative difference now. . . rebuild infrastructures. these were just wars. All in all.. a similar lack of identification can be seen within corporations. To some degree. Yet. In some way.

An inability to be certain about future outcomes.. Use the same voice-text messaging systems and call centers that can blanket target lists with perpetual calls.” “enriching the lives in the communities we serve. Pennies a call. is like listening to a priest talk about how much he loves Jesus while he’s buggering an altar boy. As we move forward in this epochal many to many global conflict.: • Uncertainty. Network leverage comes in three forms: • Highly accurate lists of targets from hacking “black” marketplaces.” and “going above and beyond. can be used to bring the conflict directly to the employees of a target corporation or its partner companies (in the supply chain). and physically. I might add—the truth).. • Low cost phone spam. Messages can be range from informational to phishing attacks. mentally. National Lampoon once printed a parody of the IBM “Charlie Chaplin” ad. If they can do this. • Menace.” while relentlessly downsizing patient care staff and skimming off the savings for themselves. contrasting the public facade represented by Chaplin with its real internal culture (represented. and in the process demoralizing management. In short. ... of course. These information offensives will use network leverage to isolate corporations morally.. A mistrust of the corporations moral and legal status. the same mechanisms that make spamming/direct marketing so easy and inexpensive to accomplish. Executives and employees that are typically divorced/removed from the full range of their corporation’s activities would find themselves immediately enmeshed in the conflict.. The very act of connecting to directly to employees generates menace. particularly if they are morally egregious or criminal in nature.. ˜<$0. by Hitler). INFORMATIONAL WARFARE (OR OPEN-MOUTH SABOTAGE) 137 tient care. The objective of this infowar would be to increase.25 a dossier (for accurate lists). we are likely to see global guerrillas come to routinely use information warfare against corporations. An increased personal/familial risk. through a NGO charity fund raising drive.3.5. and management with propaganda and disinformation (or the most potent weapon of all.1 a message. • Low cost e-mail spam. For example: The dissemination of information on a corporation’s actions. The questions it should evoke: should I stay employed here given the potential threat? • Mistrust.. John Robb describes the technical potential for information warfare against a corporation. These lists include all corporate employee e-mail addresses and phone numbers—both at work and at home. what’s next? For example: a false/troll e-mail or phone campaign from the CEO that informs employees at work and at home that it will divest from the target area or admits to heinous crimes. and given many early examples from wide variety [sic] of hacking attacks and conflicts. swarming customers. employees. <$0.

or slowly go bankrupt and the one that’s cutting its milk powder will take you over. For this. October 1. Your employees are much less likely to screw you over if they’re not screwing other people over. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations. “it could bring down a bank or two. and becomes more profitable. and mental) is likely to suffer a precipitous fall. unethical practices that will be revealed. but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that comes out. Then one company starts cutting their milk powder with melamine. there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails.typepad..138 CHAPTER 3. the priorities of executives.. I presume. Assange clearly sees the function of online whistleblowing as analogous to that of a regulatory state: Let’s say you want to run a good company. physical. thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal. The other possibility is that the first one to cut its milk powder 65 John Robb. and mistrust within the target corporation’s ranks and across the supply chain partner companies. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed. there will be some flagrant violations. It’s nice to have an ethical workplace.” It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms. 2009 <http://globalguerrillas. That’s the worst of all possible outcomes. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION With an increase in uncertainty. it’s about one particular case or one particular violation. Yes.65 Obviously. In his words.html>. the target’s connectivity (moral. menace. Although it figured in the press in 2010 primarily insofar as it exposed the secrets of the American national security state. how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. You can follow suit. The way they talk about it. . and that’s tremendously valuable. This will be like that.” Global Guerrillas. Usually when you get leaks at this level. And according to a late 2010 interview with Forbes magazine. CORPORATIONS. You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. Wikileaks started out as a whistleblowing site oriented at least as much toward corporate leaks. This reduction in connectivity has the potential to create non-cooperative centers of gravity within the targets as cohesion fails.. Some of these centers of gravity would opt to leave the problem (quit or annul contractual relationships) and some would fight internally to divest themselves of this problem. through court processes. “INFOWAR vs. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange stated that “about fifty percent” of all documents uploaded to the site came from private sector institutions. He further announced that the site in early 2011 would publish a major cache of documents related to the malfeasance of a major bank. and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. we can’t conclude this discussion without a mention of But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done.

S. new form of corporate data breach: It offers the conscience-stricken and vindictive alike a chance to publish documents largely unfiltered. WikiLeaks “is high profile. That means there’s a better market for good companies.. But aside from the market as a whole.. “That adds up to a reputational risk that companies didn’t have to think about a year ago. Then you don’t have to cut your milk powder. November 29. people have to know who they’re dealing with. if the dishonest businesses are more effected [sic] negatively by leaks than honest businesses. spirit them out through personal e-mail accounts or online drop sites—or simply submit them directly to WikiLeaks. they’re not saying.66 139 As interviewer Andy Greenberg put it. “An Interview with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. . By making it easier to see where the problems are inside of companies. INFORMATIONAL WARFARE (OR OPEN-MOUTH SABOTAGE) is exposed. But across any given industry. There’s a threat of regulation that produces andygreenberg/2010/11/29/an-interview-with-wikileaks-julianassange/>.5. What do large companies think of the threat? If they’re terrified. who follows cybersecurity for the Center for Strategic & International Studies.” and “the business community can expect plenty of sequels. or employees with a grudge. Be as open and honest as possible. thanks to privacy and encryption technologies that make anonymity easier than ever before. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies.. legally insulated and transnational. I think it’s extremely positive.” Forbes. we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies. WikiLeaks’ technical and ideological example has inspired copycats from Africa to China and rallied 66 Andy Greenberg.3. Wikileaks is just the beginning of a growing trend: Modern whistleblowers.” says former Commerce Department official James Lewis. None would talk to us.” What’s more.. And companies that treat their employees well do better than those that treat them badly. Treat your employees well. after exposing the misdeeds of the American military Assange “is gunning for corporate America. That’s the whole idea.. can zip up their troves of incriminating documents on a laptop. we identify the lemons. You end up with a situation where honest companies producing quality products are more competitive than dishonest companies producing bad products.” . For a market to be free. it is both good for the whole industry to have those leaks and it’s especially good for the good players.WikiLeaks adds another. It pains us when we have internal leaks. No one wants to have their own things leaked. 2010 <http://blogs.forbes. Nor would the U. Chamber of Commerce. without censors or personal repercussions. how should companies change their behavior understanding that leaks will increase? Do things to encourage leaks from dishonest competitors. It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business. USB stick or portable hard drive.

It’s possible to “narrow-cast” each message of open mouth sabotage to the specific audience who will be most interested in it: the major stakeholders of a corporation. We already saw Telofski’s account of how bitching about an employer might 67 Greenberg.” In particular. the more it will become just another source of general ’white-noise’ to be filtered and ignored not only by the media.” Truthout. next time some corporation like Trafigura gets a “super-injunction” against reporting an embarrassing question from an MP in the House of Commons.truthout. the community where it’s a major institution. but by consumers as well—i. 69 Kevin Carson. “Open-Mouth Sabotage. passed unanimously in June 2010.p2pfoundation. 2008 <http://blog. 68 Sam>.net/open-mouthsabotage-networked-resistance-and-asymmetric-warfare-on-the-job/2008/03/15>. to turn Iceland into a free information haven. legal promised land in the unlikely haven of Iceland. is my online acquaintance Smari McCarthy of the P2P Foundation.140 CHAPTER 3.e. November 29. though. freedom of expression and of speech.68 And it will be a refuge for evading insane libel laws like Britain’s. at what point does ’open mouth sabotage’ become a ’fully saturated market’?”69 This point would be a valid criticism in regard to the general broadcast media and traditional newspapers. Networked Resistance. thereby submerging the particular messages that are relevant to each person in a sea of white noise. and all the other recipients that would cause maximum embarrassment to the target. He specifically mentioned the goal of providing webhosting services for whistleblowers and leakers of state secrets. The good thing about network>. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION transparency advocates to push for a new. “Icelandic Parliament Strengthens Protections for Journalists and Whistleblowers. 2010 <http://archive. to quote Althing member Birgitta Jonsdottir. one commenter raised this question: “perhaps as the more prevalent this practice (hopefully) becomes. The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI). was to make Iceland a “haven for freedom of information. in cooperation with Wikileaks. . The idea. March 15..” Forbes.67 An especially promising recent development has been efforts of some figures in the Icelandic government. introduced over a year ago with widespread support in the Althing (the Icelandic parliament). 3. and Asymmetric Warfare on the Job. July 10. its vendors and outlets.forbes.” P2P Foundation Blog. that means a safe place for people to put Internet servers and host online material that their governments might want to shut down. is that we’re not forced to work through broadcast media. So each message that’s relevant to some people doesn’t have to be directed to everyone.6 A Narrowcast Model of Open Mouth Sabotage Under a blog post of mine on open-mouth sabotage. 2010 <http://blogs. in close cooperation with Birgitta. Among the leading activists and organizers behind the initiative. “Wikileaks’ Assange Wants to Spill Your Corporate Secrets.

injustices by local actors can be countered by local information campaigns hitting them where they live. Indeed. etc. Keen. And in yet another illustration of the Streisand Effect (about which more below). 230. “Litigation between T&J Towing. “When Companies Respond to Online Criticism with Lawsuits. Toronto. 72 Dan Frosch. 2020 <http://www.html>. already had a failing grade with the local Better Business Bureau because of similar complaints that it had towed validly parked cars. and the use of social media to target criticism of firms toward their Insidious Competition. Auckland: Doubleday/Currency. Months later. indexing and tagging—proliferate as fast under network culture as the volume of information itself. Sydney. In particular.” attack—the more or less spontaneous side-effect of people bitching to each other rather than a deliberate campaign to hurt the employer.6. But this is merely what Telofski calls a “chaotic. A NARROWCAST MODEL OF OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 141 get circulated via social networking or bookmarking sites. December 22. He subsequently started a Facebook page called “Kalamazoo Residents Against T&J Towing” to protest its predatory towing practices. in Kalamazoo. It seems the Facebook group had attracted thousands of members. and systematically posts links to it at blog comment threads. 71 Andrew 70 Telofski. 73 Gabrielle to a large extent. The company sued him for $750. Justin Kurtz over Facebook group to end with no payments.000 in lost profits and drove him into bankruptcy. message boards. Bird’s lawsuit attracted many times more negative media attention than did Kurtz’s Facebook group itself. p. London.71 But the defining feature of the Library of Babel. (T&J Towing. and then show up in Google searches for the employer’s Joseph Bird (owner of T&J) dropped his suit.” Kalamazoo Gazette. Kurtz alleged one of the company’s wreckers towed his car from a space at his apartment complex for which he had a valid sticker.html>. 2007). Michigan. and Facebook groups dedicated to customers or employees of the industry it serves? The “white noise” objection is. publishing (and relentlessly mocking and fisking) company Official Happy Talk memos.70 What happens when one disgruntled employee sets up an anonymous blog dedicated to exposing the dirt on her employer’s greed and mismanagement. which Keen et al miss.)72 Kurtz backed down and filed a counter-suit.ssf/2010/12/ litigation_between_t_j_towing. Bird claimed the negative publicity cost him business amounting to $174. requiring him to pay $118 to get it out of hock. .” New York Times..mlive. email lists. p. claiming his “defamatory” comments had cost them business. incidentally. For example.nytimes.” rather than a “cosmic.3. 2010 <http://www. is that it doesn’t have a card catalog. many of whom complained about their own experiences with T&J. The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture (New York.73 Other examples include “search engine pessimization” and the creative use of tags at bookmarking sites to direct web searches on a company toward critical commentary. Mechanisms for ordering information—filtering.000. June 1. a particular application of the “Library of Babel” critique of network culture skeptics like Andrew Keen. consider Justin Kurtz’s campaign against T&J Towing.

160-162. in honor of Barbra Streisand (whose role in its discovery—about which more below—was analogous to Sir Isaac Newton’s getting hit on the head by an apple).7 Attempts to Suppress or Counter Open Mouth Sabotage Informational warfare against the corporate image is just starting to come to the attention of those who manage that image. But widespread coverage of the case on the Web. pp. They effectively “level the ground” between marketers and consumer activists. the Church of Scientology. One of the earliest examples of the phenomenon in the Internet age was the above-mentioned McLibel case in Britain. and repeatedly lost appeals in the British court system throughout the nineties (eventually they won an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights). are learning to their dismay that.” p. In the past few years there’s been an upsurge of interest in “cybersmear. coupled with the defendants’ deliberate use of the courtroom as a bully pulpit to examine the Insidious Competition. But attempts at suppression are generally ineffectual.. . THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION primary niche markets.” and a proliferation of services aimed at tracking down disgruntled employees allegedly “libeling” their former or current employers. Stupid. as a direct result. Good luck with that. p. who can now run worldwide campaigns virtually free of charge with the help of SNSs [social networking sites]. In the end. 60.”76 It’s sometimes called the Streisand effect. 76 Doctorow. “It’s the Information Economy. The pamphleteers were indigent and represented themselves in court much of the time. bringing them worse publicity than they could have imagined.” Information Security Technical Report xxx (2010). but they remain largely out of control. Governments and corporations. hierarchies of all kinds. Social networks as a viral marketing tool are thus a double-edged sword: they allow for an unprecedented dissemination of marketing messages at minimal cost.142 CHAPTER 3. [that] taking a piece of information off the Internet is like getting food coloring out of a swimming pool. 75 Marc 74 Telofski.75 3.74 The use of social media as a marketing tool is now virtually obligatory—which leaves corporations quite vulnerable to the use of their own social media tools against them. that only drew further attention to the controversy. they caved. Although Nestle initially responded by deleting critical comments. and can quickly turn into negative publicity.. in a networked age. and the King of Thailand have discovered. in which McDonald’s attempt to suppress a couple of embarrassing pamphleteers with a SLAPP lawsuit wound up. As Cory Doctorow put it. Langheinrich and Gunter Karjoth. social justice activists joined the Facebook “Kit Kat” group to demand that Nestle stop sourcing its palm oil from a company that clearcut large tracts of rain forest. “Social networking and the risk to companies and institutions. “Paris Hilton. For example. 2. it’s impossible to suppress negative publicity.

com. Journalist Eric Corley—better known as Emmanuel Goldstein. caused McDonald’s one of the worst embarrassments in its history. An attempt to suppress information on the Wikileaks hosting site. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claims that Corley defied anticircumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by posting the offending code.3. just like the bank documents.S. Those photos are now easily accessible. Johansen testified on Thursday that he announced the successful reverse engineering of a DVD on the mailing list of the Linux Video and DVD Project 77 “McDonald’s Restaurants v Morris & Steele.” Techdirt Inc.” Wikipedia <http://en.. 78 Klein. 330. though Wikileaks was still virtually unknown to the general public. in 2007—an encounter which.”)78 Two important examples in 2004. brought it under the radar of the national security community—resulted in a similar> (accessed December 26. 2009). instead of the information disappearing. 79 “PR disaster. the Sinclair Media boycott and the Diebold corporate emails—detailed in Appendix II—both decisively demonstrated the impossibility of suppressing online information when information could be replicated and websites mirrored with a few mouse-clicks. is one of the most inspiring episodes in the history of the free culture movement. The whole affair began when teenager Jon Johansen wrote DeCSS in order to view DVDs on a Linux machine..77 (Naomi Klein called it “the corporate equivalent of a colonoscopy... No Logo. While Bank Julius Baer claimed it just wanted stolen and forged documents removed from the site (rather than close it down).com/pr-disaster-via-wikileaks-and-the-streisand-effect/>.. chief executive Mike Masnick coined the term on his popular technology blog after the actress Barbra Streisand’s 2003 lawsuit seeking to remove satellite photos of her Malibu house. landing on other Web sites and Wikileaks’ own “mirror” sites outside the U. “This was a really small thing that no one heard about and now it’s everywhere and everyone’s talking about it. Wikileaks and the Streisand Effect” PRdisasters.7. The MPAA has since brought suit against him in his native Norway as well.” Masnick said.”79 The DeCSS uprising. in which corporate attempts to suppress publication of a code for cracking the DRM on DVDs failed in the face of widespread defiance. Associated Press (via the first amendment center) reports that “an effort at (online) damage control has snowballed into a public relations disaster for a Swiss bank seeking to crack down on Wikileaks for posting classified information about some of its wealthy clients. “It’s a perfect example of the Streisand effect. 2007 <http://prdisasters.wikipedia. a nom de plume borrowed from Orwell’s 1984—posted the code for DeCSS (so called because it decrypts the Content Scrambling System that encrypts DVDs) as a part of a story he wrote in November for the well-known hacker journal 2600.. . The digerati call the online phenomenon of a censorship attempt backfiring into more unwanted publicity the “Streisand effect. p. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS OR COUNTER OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 143 factual issues. March 3. it rocketed through cyberspace.

... 2000 <http://archives. 2007 <http://www.idg/>. The judge in the case. 80 Deborah Durham-Vichr.80 In the Usmanov case of the same year.and DVD-related work for Linux. There are also over 300 Websites that still link to the decryption code. Chicken Yoghurt provided the IP addresses of Usmanov’s lawyers as a heads-up to all bloggers who might have been visited by those august personages.. ” Chicken>.html>. UK: Political websites have lined up in defence of a former diplomat whose blog was deleted by hosting firm Fasthosts after threats from lawyers acting for billionaire Arsenal investor Alisher Usmanov. The complaints against Murray’s site arose after a series of allegations he made against Usmanov.. 81 Chris Williams. Lauren sent the site legal notices of DMCA infringement. recovered from Google’s caches of the sites or from the Internet Archive. In addition. in fact. True to their hacker beliefs.” by the way. July 27.cnn. so it can be easily cut and pasted into a blog post..81 That reference to “[s]everal other political and freedom of speech blogs.144 CHAPTER 3. which made the model appear not just emaciated but deformed.p1. On his behalf. Bob Piper and Alisher Usmanov...theregister. A badly edited photo of a waif in a Ralph Lauren ad. Usmanov became one of a small group of oligarchs to make hay in the former USSR’s post-communist asset carve-up. 2007 <http://www.” CNN. a user resource center for video. September 24. many beyond the reach of the MPAA.. and reposted the article that originally drew the takedown demand. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION (LiViD). Boris Johnson.” An article at Chicken Yoghurt blog provides a list of all the venues that have republished Murray’s original allegations. very long list82 —so long.” The Register. . 82 “Public Service Announcement—Craig Murray. .com/2000/TECH/computing/07/27/decss. It is a very. is like saying the ocean is “a bit wet. . issued a preliminary injunction against posting DeCSS.. Tim Ireland.. Corley supporters came to the trial wearing the DeCSS code on t-shirts. The Register.. the honorable Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court in southern New York.chickyog. Four days after Fasthosts pulled the plug on the website run by former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray it remains offline.. After being released from prison. and pardoned.trial. was highlighted on the Photoshop Disasters website. Corley duly took down the “Focus on the DeCSS trial. September 20. attempts to suppress embarrassing information led to similar Internet-wide resistance. libel law firm Schillings has moved against a number of Arsenal fan sites and political bloggers repeating the allegations. but did not help his defense by defiantly linking to myriad sites which post DeCSS.Com. Several other political and freedom of speech blogs in the UK and abroad have picked up the gauntlet however. “Blogosphere shouts ’I’m Spartacus’ in Usmanov-Murray case: Uzbek billionaire prompts Blog solidarity. that Chicken Yoghurt helpfully provides the html code with URLs already embedded in the text.

S.. with its million plus documents is now available on multiple servers. According to K. “Trafigura” was already the most-searched-for term on Twitter. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS OR COUNTER OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 145 and got the site’s ISP to take it down. People sympathetic to presents another case study in the Streisand Effect. the ‘Streisand effect’ made sure that the outcome was exactly the opposite. 2009 <http://www. In the process. Doctorow. the photo—and story—got circulated all over the Internet. and c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models. . People all over the world. we will: a) Reproduce the original criticism. and.php>. in the face of a threat of retaliation for reproducing the photo. the action of the US government was intended to suppress the leaks. with different domain names and its fan-base has increased exponentially. The entire content. U. so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart. b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery.84 The re-emergence of Wikileaks as a focus of attention in 2010. The upshot —not only has the source multiplied itself but its fan base has grown radically. Without specifically naming either Trafigura or the MP. Vaidya Nathan.And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this. 84 Alan Rusbridge.83 The Trafigura case probably represents a new speed record. the State Department 83 Doctorow. making damned sure that all our readers get a good.. had voluntarily mirrored the website in order to keep it online.. October 6. The State Department tried to suppress one source. in terms of the duration between initial thuggish attempts to silence criticism and the company lawyers’ final decision to cave. By the time he finished work that day.3. instead of responding to their legal threat by suppressing our criticism of their marketing images.S. who hadn’t even heard of the Website. Hence this post. government concerns in 2007. issued his defiance at BoingBoing: So. were typing WikiLeaks.” Columbia Journalism Review. 2009 <http://www.. though. October 19. “First Read: The Mutualized Future is on their keyboards only to find a site-unavailable message. government attempts to suppress the site illustrated the Streisand Effect in spades: Though. reporter Alan Rusbridger was able to comply with the terms of the injunction and still include enough hints in his cryptic story for readers to scour the Parliamentary reports and figure it out for themselves. we’re gonna mock them. after earlier U. prohibiting it from reporting a question by an MP on the floor of Parliament about the company’s alleged dumping of toxic waste in and by noon the lawyers had thrown in the towel. The Trafigura corporation actually secured a court “super-injunction” against The Guardian.cjr.7. “The criticism that Ralph Lauren doesn’t want you to see!” BoingBoing. which increased their curiosity. . Even though WikiLeaks doesn’t advertise. long look at it. in the meantime. by the next morning Trafigura’s criminal acts—plus their attempt at suppressing the story—had become front-page news.boingboing.html>.

“has the power to compete with you for the meaning of your corporate image. These new competitors don’t want to sell your customers. An image of your company that is not as flattering 85 K. January 15. even your corporate image. 89 Ibid. 86 Robin Bloor. “. activists. clients. An increasingly common response is to set up an informal student newspaper online. marketers are experimenting with. he says. pp.”89 As I write.” The Virtual Circle. 15..[S]ocial media. with a view toward fighting back in the marketplace of ideas. And that power is going to be used both in unexpected ways and by unexpected persons or December 6. 88 Telofski.. Insidious Competition. or consumers a competing image of your product. in the fact of attempts at suppression. and becoming a Nasty? Besides attempts at suppression. Take something as simple as suppressing a school newspaper whose content violates the administrators’ sensibilities. torrent downloads and darknets which have been used to circumvent censorship of Wikileaks and its documents as a form of “Super Streisand Effect...... there is a growing interest in waging information warfare from the other side.146 CHAPTER 3. and if necessary to tweak the hosting arrangements to thwart attempts at further suppression.. clients. then alternatively it can be used to demote or damage the image of products and services—and yes. The reason is that the attacker is anonymous and their attack is covert. labor news/beware-the-streisand-effect/725720/0>... “The Internet. December 17.88 But he ignores a central question: What stops an individual.shtml>. service.” Financial Express. and discovering. “Yet Another High School Newspaper Goes Online to Avoid District Censorship. Wikileaks and the Super Streisand Effect. this is impossible. 200 <http://www. etc. . “Beware the Streisand effect.. Telofski’s Insidious Competition is perhaps the most notable example of Corporate America’s increased focus on networked informational warfare.. But in the case of what he calls “the Nasties. or your very company.” Techdirt. 2010 <http://www.. p. and how to fight for control of the corporate image. hierarchical institutions are finding that the traditional means of suppressing communication. Vaidya Nathan. are useless. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION has become its biggest advertiser.” which are mostly either foreign governments or foreign companies.87 The above-mentioned Richard Telofski.” he writes.85 Robin Bloor describes the combination of mirror sites. going underground. 317-318. from taking advantage of the tools of individual super-empowerment. how social media can be used successfully within their marketing promotions mix. that worked as recently as twenty years ago..thevirtualcircle. devotes most of his book Insidious Competition to advice on how to counter NGOs. But what business people are not considering nearly as much is that if social media can be used to promote products and services. 2010 <http://financialexpress. It’s impossible to suppress them because they can’t be identified.”86 More generally. 87 Mike Masnick. These new competitors want to sell your customers.. in the public battle for>. or consumers a comparable product or service. as we shall see in greater detail below.

92 Regarding the first four tactics listed above. Present information within social media discussions encountering image-damaging claims. Through social graphing software.. Tactic: Run public service announcements (PSAs) stating that the “facts” shared in social media are not always true and are usually unvetted... Tactic: Anticipate negative memes that attackers might create..90 Telofski advises his clients to develop their own largely autonomous social media squads. is to call attention to the truth while discrediting reporting that is not grounded in the facts. The one strategy Telofski recommends that actually seems plausible is one that “reputation management” firms already engage in: search engine optimization. Tactic: Make alliances with other organizations to have them help present your case. By framing their assertions as 90 Ibid. 92 Ibid.... objective sites providing information which counters the claims being made. look for connections to the attacker which will weaken their case or associate them with questionable sourcing. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS OR COUNTER OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 147 as that which you work hard to maintain every business day.. etc. 275. Tactic: Have company social media staff enter into problematic discussions with links back to the third-party sources [of information]. Telofski later elaborates that the company should appeal to independent authority by linking to “third-party.3. 16. 274-277. p.. pp.. 93 Ibid. economics.91 That means.. 289. Tactic: Radicalize the attacker. Tactic: Identify the attacker as mistaken.. Don’t let the falsehoods of NGOs and Activists stand “uncorrected.. and regain control of that image. as a reputable company. Frame your argument in “the truth” stating that the attacker is disseminating misleading information.. p. Tactic: Hold the attacker to liability laws.” information which is “sound” and based on “good science.. essentially. to get out there and engage the corporation’s opponents in the “battle for meaning”—to contest attempts by insidious competitors like workers and consumer activists to subvert the company’s carefully constructed image. and that the false and misleading information in social media is a disservice to the public. Address the “issue” before it becomes an issue. 91 Ibid.”93 Your job.. Link back to the third-party sources created in the proactive strategies.7. and negative stuff is buried several pages in. p... which center on contesting the facts of corporate critics and providing alternative information to the public.” particularly if their false assertions have already broadly mutated. .. Provide information nullifying the claims made by the attackers. The rest of it amounts to polishing a turd. gaming search engines to make sure positive results about your company come up on the first page of search results. Challenge their assertions in the social web.

Anyone who’s ever talked to an automated customer service line or sought information from a blue-smocked Wal-mart “associate” will know just how much of a flying fuck they give about “solving the problems of individuals.” and a company’s actual practice of gutting customer service staff.[C]ounter-attacking or preempting NGOs and Activists in social media is about the truth. . THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION being misleading and by declaring the importance of responsible reporting. The great majority of large corporations are “honest and law-abiding. . p. In Telofski’s Bizarro world.. But he takes the corporate image pretty much uncritically and at face value. will know that corporations act like classic monopolists—seeing how much rent they can extract by rationing out and spoonfeeding a minimum of “solving the problems of individuals” in return for maximum returns.. 305.94 In this regard. 295. In his references to anti-corporate activists’ claims to serve the “public interest” and promote “benefits for society”—as opposed to his straight-faced reiteration of such claims in corporate happy-talk—Telofski’s sarcasm fairly drips off the page. on 94 Ibid.. 10. by extension. 95 Ibid. Seriously. I suspect that Telofski’s standards of “sound information” and “good science” are somewhat lower than mine.. throughout his book. Attacks on corporations are attacks on the job security and prosperity of their employees. anyone who’s ever made a first-hand comparison between the Official Happy Talk in the mission statement about “customer service.. For Telofski.”95 and all about “solving the problems of individuals. and the only rational way to organize the world. readers will. He criticizes NGOs for their lack of democratic accountability and for harming the interests of consumers allegedly served by corporations. a world dominated by large corporations is entirely natural and normal. p.”96 You know. 96 Ibid. The truth sets everyone free. that he regards such “bad apples” as a small minority in the corporate world. who follow the “downsize everybody. while large corporations are overwhelmingly a bunch of Dudley Dorights. question the responsibility of the NGO/Activist reporting. NGOs and activist organizations are a different story altogether. Rick Scott and “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap. p. give yourself a bonus. But he makes it clear. or those who want to mislead the public. cash in your stock options and split before the chickens come home to roost” school of management.” The main “individuals” whose “problems” they’re interested in “solving” are CEOs trying to afford a third vacation home or a private jet. as opposed to the corporations in the Bearded Spock universe where they have cowboy CEOs like Bob Nardelli. he repeatedly counters activist critiques of corporate environmental policy with the withering rejoinder that they “obey all environmental laws and regulations.148 CHAPTER 3.” Telofski issues repeated caveats that his strategic advice isn’t meant for corporate malefactors. Those people should clean up their act before worrying about image management. For example. It’s about operating on a higher level than the opponent.

If you ever saw the film shown by that meat industry guy to Lisa Simpson’s third grade science class to “counter disinformation” from vegetarians. that they are designed to provide a “safe harbor” or fig leaf against liability for all firms that meet this minimal standard. “causes inefficiencies. . or a disingenuous interpretation of them—mainly on the corporate side. And outside interference with “best business practices. p. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS OR COUNTER OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 149 wages and job benefits. Telofski himself warns his clients not to “give these NGOs and Activists more ammunition to use against you” by linking to “third-party” sites for which the client company represents “too high a proportion of the total inbound linking sites. ranks right up there in terms of sheer tinfoil hattery with Ickes’ lizard people and the Bavarian Illuminati. and on the development of the new forms of technology the corporations might otherwise have produced. the lack of context. as an apologist for the feudal economic regime seven hundred years ago. The corporation must be safeguarded as a bulwark protecting everything we hold dear. and all the “objective third-party” organizations whose primary clients are trade associations..3. except it totally ignores the centrally important question 97 Ibid. might have asked in almost identical terms. That’s just fine. Management’s agenda. least-common-denominator standards that preempt stricter standards of common law liability. No other form of organization is conceivable as an acceptable basis for (“Log on to learn more”).org.7.” by definition. you get the idea. in which the blonde actress (“fact is. In practice. Telofski repeatedly recommends the use of “fact checking software. For Telofski.” But most of the “factual” issues between the two sides in any public relations dispute between corporations and consumer activists are not things that can be resolved by a simple visit to Snopes. who does he think he’s kidding? When you take away all the industry-funded “independent” junk science research.” So the interests of the corporation are the interests of society. Most of them involve the partial presentation of there’s not much left. by definition.”97 But really. the assorted safety and environmental regulatory standards which most corporations meet represent the latest. 308. who would provide the land to cultivate—thus “solving the problems of individuals”—if not the lords of manors. most of the sites which I see defending corporate virtue with their allegedly “sound science” turn out to be efforts like CornSugar. Telofski. The very idea that a revolving door of personnel between the senior management of the regulated industries and political appointees at regulatory agencies might have rigged a set of dumbed-down. The real is rational. or that an awful lot of the “sound science” they’re based on bears the imprint of the industry-funded research that produced it. A good example is the television PSA from EnergyTomorrow.” and in the social interest. best and soundest science. a growing world will demand more”) states how many years of automobile use American fossil fuel reserves are sufficient to and EnergyTomorrow. is “best business practices.

org and EnergyTomorrow. to optimal functioning. with links to “supportive. I’ll put my money on the latter. the symbiotic interaction between root hairs and soil bacteria.150 CHAPTER 3.” independent. the disingenuous oversimplifications and half-truths turn out to be on the corporate side. Borlaug also argued that organic farming would require deforestation for more pasturage to provide manure for fertilizer.—affects the absorption of nitrogen. Another example is the registered dietitians who argue against nutritional supplements on the grounds that “anything above the U. Borlaug blithely asserted that organic farming would result in massive deforestation—despite the fact that intensive horticulture actually requires less land than conventional mechanized/chemical agriculture for a given unit of output. has disproved both of the Borlaug canards by growing enough food to feed a single human being on only 4. in the way of “objective third-party sources.” This ignores. not output per acre. Second. To do so. for example all the ascorbic acid molecules over and above the RDA going into your toilet bowl have free radicals attached to them. who developed the Biointensive method of raised-bed cultivation. most of what’s out there. In most contests of “scientific fact” between the corporate world and consumer and environmental activists.e. In any contest of facts and logic between Borlaug and such thinkers on the other side as Frances Moore Lappé or John Jeavons. We’ve already seen the laughable picture fossil fuel industry PSAs present of the usability of energy reserves. And despite Telofski’s assumption of the factual high ground. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION of EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Investment): how many years’ demand the reserves amount to doesn’t matter nearly so much as the maximum feasible rate of extracting it. agribusiness must actually use the land in a less intensive information-based” responses. first of all. i.” is stuff like the abovementioned CornSugar.S.. John Jeavons. . etc. which form the basis of so many appeals to authority by assorted agribusiness industry shills. it neglects the possibility that amounts above the RDA might contribute. Telofski advises prospective social media squads not only to provide “high quality. a plant can’t tell the nitrogen in organic fertilizer from that in synthetic.000 square feet—using no fertilizer besides green manuring and closed-loop recycling of waste. albeit with diminishing returns. but output per labor-hour. Another good example is the ex cathedra pronouncements of the late Norman Borlaug on organic farming. it ignores the nature of anti-oxidants. apparently he never heard of composting or green manuring with leguminous cover crops. or the cost—in both money and energy terms—of extraction per unit of usable energy. the fact that the RDA is simply the bare minimum of a nutrient required to prevent deficiency-related diseases. That ignores the ways in which the soil ecosystem—soil friability. Conventional commercial farming techniques maximize. The anti-organic party line also claims that “an atom of nitrogen is an atom of nitrogen”. Recommended Daily Allowance just means more expensive urine going into your toilet bowl.

or highly politically-motivated. p. who would bulldoze Guatemalan peasants into mass graves just to lower the price of sugar a penny a pound.” All I can say is. outside the mainstream of society. and how dependent they are on IP laws and other forms of protectionism. Telofski also elaborates on his suggestion to “radicalize the attacker. A great deal of corporate propaganda is superficially attractive appeals to “free enterprise” and “free markets” that can be cut off at the knees by showing just what a bunch of corporate welfare queens and hypocritical protectionists those piggies at the trough really are.” obtained from “objective.” with connections that “can be considered ’radical. The corporation finds itself fighting an ongoing public battle in which it is forced to engage its critics on the grounds of truth—and the critics can keep talking back. We can show that the boys in the C-Suite are so many Little Eichmanns.” to confront the opponent with “facts. For American NGOs. . bring it on! Corporate “debunking” can be countered with still more unflattering facts and critical analysis of the “debunking” itself.’ extremist. please do. rely on Official Happy Talk and superficial half-truths that are designed to deflect scrutiny. of necessity. but we can show that most of your “factual” propaganda and most of the messages coming from your “allied organizations” are Industry-Funded Junk Science. ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS OR COUNTER OPEN MOUTH SABOTAGE 151 backing information. (Take. it’s that “high-quality information” of the sort provided by Norman Borlaug’s regurgitators and EnergyTommorow.7. the company should check the organization’s Form 990 which identifies where they get their funding. There’s a reason PR flacks and politicians don’t like follow-up questions.”98 Oh.) A battle based on facts and truth? Don’t even go there. Because if there’s one thing we’ve seen repeatedly demonstrated.3. Take attempts to suppress competition from those with more stringent quality standards. in other words.” The corporate counter-attack should use social graphing software to uncover the groups and individuals that link to the NGO. You may show that anti-corporate activists are friends with some Dirty Fucking Hippies. yes. Ever hear the saying about glass houses? Telofski’s sword cuts both ways. third party sources. Their worst nightmare. The only hope for corporate power is that people stay ignorant—in a “hegemonically constructed reality” created by big business—as long as possible. like meat-packers that test for mad cow disease more frequently than required by law.. Giant corporations.” but to stay in the debate venues “for the long haul. What’s more. even if some of us may look like Tommy Chong.” That means to expose the NGO’s agenda as “leaning heavily left. and the associations of its members. Telofski wants corporate information warriors to “identify the attacker as mistaken. 311. we can get our facts—facts which overwhelmingly disprove the corporate pretend real98 Ibid. on the grounds that it constitutes “disparagement” of those who meet only the minimal regulatory can’t stand up to much in the way of follow-up questions. for example Monsanto’s use of food libel laws to suppress commercial free speech.

It’s a good way to wind up being systematically taken apart in front of a much. much larger audience. How did the state prevent it?” But less facetiously. this guy never heard of the McLibel case? The Streisand Effect? He really. and the title “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan.” Um. appeal to image and market their products mainly to stupid people with brand loyalties. . networked advocacy organizations can frequently take more active and effective measures against private wrong-doers than the regulators are willing to. That reminds me of the August 9. much. it gives new meaning to the phrase “don’t go there. where local law enforcement acted as private security for British Petroleum. really doesn’t want to open that can of worms. they can expose the regulatory state’s collusive behavior in ways that were once impossible without first sending a query letter to Ralph Nader or Barry Commoner. apparently it also happens if “we” don’t leave Afghanistan. If they have to wage a contest of facts and reason against those who can talk back. But he’s still not good enough. by saying “I don’t know. with a grin. What it comes down to in the end is facts—can your glossy bullet points and “Did you knows. like the criminal negligence that resulted in the Deepwater Horizons oil spill in the Spring of 2010. we’ll just kill them faster. Anarchists can respond to such questions. considering the photo wasn’t transmitted from the future. As for his recommendation that companies “hold the attacker to liability laws. the state’s supposed oversight agencies are quite prone to developing common interests with the industries they are ostensibly regulating.” well. Given the average level of performance of regulatory and oversight agencies in the real world. they might just spin out the process of being nibbled to death by networked piranha for a few more decades. they’re already beaten. So what are you supposed to do when the CEO calls the regulator “Uncle Billy Bob”? Again. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION ity—from genuinely independent scholarly and respected public interest sources so straight they make Wally Cox look like Jerry Garcia. To repeat: Telofski is probably the best that their side can ever hope to come up with. If they try to fight a pitched battle against us on his model.” Seriously. supposedly. 3. who regulates the regulators? Answer: We do. 2010 Time magazine cover with the picture of a mutilated Afghan woman on the cover. And what’s more. A case in point is an incident in Louisiana. . to sanction abuses by private business. Corporate power depends on one-way control of discourse. During much of the oil spill . If they slow down and try to avoid decisive engagements. The regulatory state is there.152 CHAPTER 3.8 Who Regulates the Regulators? It’s sometimes asked how a stateless society would prevent private malfeasors from doing this or that bad thing. ” stand up to relentless cross-examination in a world where we can finally talk back? I repeat: Bring it on! The very fact that Telofski finds it necessary to pursue such an agenda of contesting with activists for the factual sphere means the war is lost. as we have already noted. Telofski is about the best they’ve got — but he’s still not good enough.

When we inform the TimesPic reporters otherwise." "But BP’s liable if anything happens.” So I call the Grand Isle police requesting a press liason. BP was notorious for—illegally—blocking press access to the cleanup efforts.3. We tell her that deputies were just yelling at us. “ Why did the police give me a number for BP?” I ask. Irvin Lipp.” Mother Jones. they blame the fire chief. May <http://motherjones. “Good. he says. I call the police back and ask why they gave me a number for BP.." "But there are tourists and residents walking around in it across the street. only to get routed to voicemail for Melanie with BP. a very strong relationship. As we pull up. just stay out of the water. where a “BP Information Center” sign now hangs out front. she stalks off and says she’s not talking to me. who tells them that if they want passage to Elmer they have to get it from another BP flack.8. she asks Dr. “No. . 23." "How much?" "A lot." "But it’s not BP’s land. deputies start bawling us out.” we say." "But it wasn’t BP that was yelling at us. The blockade to Elmer’s [Island] is now four cop cars strong. And according to the same Mac McClelland mentioned at the outset of this chapter.. all media need to go to the Grand Isle community center. the line between the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s department and BP in enforcing such blockage was—to put it mildly—rather blurry: The next day. WHO REGULATES THE REGULATORS? 153 aftermath. it was the sheriff’s office. Grand Isle residents are not amused by the beach closing. then comes back and hugs me and says she was just playing.” She says. a couple of Times-Picayune reporters circle BP representative Barbara Martin. Grand Isle beach is closed too." "Who?" "BP. she’s married to a Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputy." "The mayor decides which beaches are closed. .com/environment/2010/05/oil-spill-bp-grand-isle-beach>. Hazlett if he’s a reporter. she adds. but we have.” She doesn’t ask me. She tells me BP’s in charge because “it’s BP’s oil." "What do you mean? You have a lot of sway over the sheriff’s office?" "Oh yeah. Inside. I know. I tell her I don’t understand why I can’t see Elmer’s Island unless I’m escorted by BP."99 99 Mac McClelland. “We don’t need more of a black eye than we already have.. cops drive up and down Grand Isle beach explicitly telling tourists it is still open. 2010 . “It’s BP’s Oil. "That’s the number they gave us. and she seems truly upset. For another. I reach the fire chief." "Yeah! Y ou don’t want that oil gettin’ into your pores. For one." "So you’re saying it’s a safety precaution." When I tell Barbara I am a reporter. "Yeah.

Eventually.100 Not to mention.. who he answered to. which sounds like something only a bully in a bad movie would do.] Not really! Shortly thereafter. considering not only that tourists were let through to areas from which the press was barred. If that makes any sense. In a follow-up. BP doesn’t want people filming. If that makes any sense.” [Mr. why he was down here in Louisiana. Wheelan got in his car and drove away but was soon pulled over. As he explained to me.. Drew Wheelan. Though the deputy failed to include the traffic stop in his incident report.. was filming himself across the street from the BP building/Deepwater Horizon response command in Houma. Corleone don’t like it when people don’t pay their protection money.. Here’s the key exchange: Wheelan: “Am I violating any laws or anything like that?" Officer: “Um.. 100 “Op-Ed: Reporters Covering Oil Spill Stymied.” . asking him who he worked with. .. Thomas let Wheelan go. Last week. whose badge. So all I can really do is strongly suggest that you not film anything right now. It was the same cop. it was widely reported that BP specifically forbade cleanup crews to wear protective gear in order to avoid any—ahem—unfortunate images on the evening news. but that she observed BP cleanup workers in jeans and T-shirts. He phoned Wheelan’s information in to someone.." Wheelan: “Well. McClelland described an encounter in which local law enforcement officials—in uniform and using official vehicles—were actually using their flashers to pull over reporters while on BP’s payroll: But a Louisiana sheriff’s deputy pulling over a video camera-wielding private citizen because the head of BP security wanted to ask him some questions is a whole other level of alarming. and working in the private employ of BP. what he was doing. Wheelan told me..154 CHAPTER 3... THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION The “liability” and “safety” concerns struck McClelland as rather flimsy. he was standing in a field that did not belong to the oil company when a police officer approached him and asked him for ID and “strongly suggest[ed]” that he get lost since “BP doesn’t want people filming".” The cop stood by as Thomas interrogated Wheelan for 20 minutes. read “Chief BP Security.not particularly. So all Knuckles and I can do is strongly suggest you pay up right now. Louisiana." Officer: “Let me explain: BP doesn’t want any filming. Wheelan says Thomas confiscated his Audubon volunteer badge (he’d recently attended an official Audubon/BP birdhelper volunteer training) and then wouldn’t give it back. but this time he had company: Kenneth Thomas. Major Malcolm Wolfe of the sheriff’s office says the deputy’s pulling someone over in his official vehicle while working for a private company is standard and acceptable practice. the conservation coordinator for the American Birding Association.The deputy was off official duty at the time.. I’m not on their property so BP doesn’t have anything to say about what I do right now.

because they’re in bed with intelligence agencies.102 3. political parties and parliaments on citizens’ lives is weakening. parties and elected governments permanently on their toes. In 101 McClelland. June 22.101 155 So apparently BP’s security personnel were exercising law enforcement functions on land not occupied by>.9. Except it may increase the diplomatic cost a little. Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior. “An Interview with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Not for military contractors. free speech laws could make things easier. question their authority and force them to change their agendas—and sometimes smother them in disgrace. When the state itself is lawless. Sounds like something straight out of a Billy Jack movie. independent monitors of power begin to have tangible effects. and law enforcement officials were acting as hired help. yes.3. a variety of ’post-parliamentary’ politics defined by the rapid growth of many different kinds of extra-parliamentary. IMMI won’t help you. albeit imperfectly.” 2010 . although nothing less. doesn’t it? Julian Assange.Those with a taste for Latin would say that it is the tertium quid. That’s why our primary defense isn’t law. power-scrutinising mechanisms. with the things we’ve been discussing here: Monitory democracy is a new historical form of democracy. as well as in ’cross-border’ settings once controlled by empires. 102 Greenberg.9 Monitory Democracy John Keane’s idea of “monitory democracy” overlaps to a large extent. . These monitory bodies take root within the ’domestic’ fields of government and civil society. or in bed with those it ostensibly regulates. <http://motherjones. So laws don’t matter. By putting politicians. The central grip of elections.” Mother Jones. they complicate their lives. “La Police Doing BP’s Dirty Work. if they’re caught. legal protections are meaningless. Democracy is coming to mean more than elections... In consequence. W e deal with organizations that do not obey the rule of law. Within and outside states. What about corporate leaks? For corporate leaks. in his Forbes interview.. MONITORY DEMOCRACY because Wheelan was acting suspicious and could have been a terrorist. If a spy agency’s involved.. states and business organisations. the not fully formed successor of the earlier historical experiments with assembly-based and representative forms of democracy. specifically addressed this issue. Do you think that the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative [a series of bills to make Iceland the most free-speech and whistleblowerprotective country in the world] would make it easier to do this right if it passes? Not at the highest level. the whole architecture of self-government is changing. but technology..

pervasive media atmosphere means that “the realms of ’private life’ and ’privacy’ and wheeling and dealing of power ’in private’ have been put on the defensive...104 Keane associates the rise of monitory democracy with the new media. more adversarial styles of “gotcha” journalism in place of the old model of so-called “objective” journalism. political parties and legislatures neither disappear. The bullheaded belief that democracy is nothing more than the periodic election of governments by majority rule is crumbling.. . ’the public’. If assembly-based democracy used the spoken word as a medium.W. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION the name of ’people’.103 Monitory democracy is a restraint not only on the power of government. new frequency allocation. pp. Norton & Co. Whether in the field of local. “monitory democracy is tied closely to the growth of multi-mediasaturated societies—societies whose structures of power are continuously ’bitten’ by monitory institutions operating within a new galaxy of media defined by the ethos of communicative abundance.156 CHAPTER 3.. Democracy is no longer simply a way of handling the power of elected governments by electoral. 688-690. Elections. 740. nor necessarily decline in importance. their energy 103 John Keane.. digital tuning and advanced compression techniques. ’the people’ or ’citizens’—the terms are normally used interchangeably in the age of monitory democracy—power-scrutinizing institutions spring up all over the place. pp. 105 Ibid. The Life and Death of Democracy (New York and London: W. and the ascendancy of representative democracy coincided with print and the early mass electronic media. 104 Ibid. national or supranational government. 2009)... monitory democracy threatens to expose the quiet discriminations and injustices that happen behind closed doors and in the world of everyday life. and new technical capabilities like “electronic memory. extending from their human rights records. 737-739... pp. 106 Ibid. p. people and organisations that exercise power are now routinely subject to public monitoring and public contestation by an assortment of extraparliamentary bodies.. and no longer a matter confined to territorial states.”106 Assorted monitory democracy bodies specialise in directing questions at governments on a wide range of matters. parliamentary and constitutional means. Every nook and cranny of power becomes the potential target of ’publicity’ and ’public exposure’.” The new media include new... 708-710. as ’government by the unrestricted will of the majority’. direct satellite broadcasting.” along with the fundamentally new possibilities of “computer-linked communications networks” and a wide variety of real-time communications media operating on a 24-hour news cycle. but on that of institutions once considered to be outside the political realm like the workplace and family. Gone are the days when democracy could be described. tighter channel spacing. but they most definitely lose their pivotal position in politics. or in the powerridden world of non-governmental organisations and networks.105 The new. ’public accountability’.

. ’in private’. 744-745.. Keane sees monitory democracy.” 107 Ibid. 108 Ibid. pp. Questions are raised about which SUVs are most likely to roll over. which companies retail the worst fast food. Private companies are grilled about their services or products. pp. and to constrain abuses of both state power and private power in ways that once required the state. to tell others—publics of various sizes—about matters that had been previously hidden away.3. the monitory democracy project blends in with Panarchy and what the P2P Foundation calls “Open Everything. bossy power can no longer hide comfortably behind private masks. and pressuring the state to become to take on more of transparent. and which are the biggest polluters. In one sense the institutions of monitory democracy can be interpreted. Keane treats monitory democracy as something that presupposes representative democracy and makes it work better. Regardless of Keene’s view of the state as a viable component of monitory democracy.9.. omsbudsmen and the like attached to the state apparatus. If monitory democracy reins in abuses of state power. Not only do institutions of monitory democracy in the private realm constrain the state and make it less statelike.108 But they can also be interpreted as ways to shift the balance of power from the state to civil society. and the rise of NGOs and civil society. In the age of monitory democracy. and the size of their impact upon the biosphere. how they treat their employees. 698-699. but also internal bodies like citizen review boards. networked and p2p character where it continues to exist and retain its statelike character. with the help of media.107 157 The ways in which Keane’s monitory democracy differs from our desktop regulatory state are suggested by his quip that democracy is coming to mean more than elections. . in an actual atmosphere of collusion—by government regulatory and civil rights agencies. Pushed to this ultimate conclusion. but also piecemeal supplanting of the state by voluntary selforganization wherever possible. power relations everywhere are subjected to organised efforts by some. but nothing less. but insofar as they undermine the power of private entities like large corporations or constrain the acts of racial and other majorities against minorities. Bodies associated with monitory democracy in Keane’s schema include not only non-governmental public interest organizations and movements.. the latter is a useful tool for those of us whose goal is not only to rein in the state’s discretionary power and level the playing ground between state and citizens. as perfecting state democracy rather than supplanting it.. they supersede functions once performed—or nominally performed. as by Keane. as a way of making the political apparatus more democratic and accountable to the citizenry. MONITORY DEMOCRACY production plans to the quality of the drinking water of their cities. it also performs—better than the state—many surveillance and protective functions traditionally associated with the regulatory state. their investment plans.

111 Main Page. or predatory non-government organizations. 2011 <http://wiki.” This people power will also require other autonomous platforms and infrastructure: “the establishment of ’true cost’ information for every product and service. and culminates in all humans connected to all information—especially “true cost” information—so as to achieve Panarchy—informed self-governance at all levels on all issues.”109 As stated in Robert Steele’s phasing schema.php?title=Main_Page>. and the coincident establishment of local water. . True Cost Wiki.” Foundation for P2P Altertnatives Wiki.10 “Open Everything” The “Open Everything” agenda “starts with connectivity. it entails the creation of an open. 2011 < 2011 <>. “true cost” is an attempt to achieve.” Foundation for P2P Alternatives Wiki. Accessed October 2. “cannot be shut down by governments.” and to “create the aggregate people power to overcome secular corruption that is the source of all scarcity and conflict. 110 “Strategic Phasing.. Accessed October 2. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION 3.”110 By way of Strategic_Phasing>. autonomous Internet which.158 CHAPTER 3.reconfigure. Accessed October 2. through assorted meshwork and other alternative architectures. Someday we may be able to access the following through a mobile handset about any product while pointing to superior alternatives: • Water-use • Energy-use • Known toxins • Chemicals corporations use without disclosing research about the chemicals (secrecy) • Use of child and ’slave’ labor throughout production • Tax avoidance & amount of tax subsidies • Travel/migration of product’s life cycle111 109 “Autonomous Internet Road Map. productby-product and service-by-service database of information on the real component costs (including costs externalized on the taxpayer) of all the things we consume.” in order to “harness the distributed intelligence of all humans. and currency options that begin to dismantle the dysfunctional grid that wastes half of what it moves in the movement.” This autonomous Internet will be the basis of “universal connectivity. moves toward virtual networks and regional decision-support centres. through the distributed collection and indexing of information. corporations. an easily accessible. power..

and rooted firmly in the concepts of public sovereignty. we will discuss it in detail below.. the growing number of people in the Third World—hundreds of millions and growing exponentially—who have affordable Internet access via mobile>.” Public Intelligence Blog. Business.. will be over-turned by public consensus. 114 Miemis. The explosion of social media as a network tool also furthers the “Open Everything” goal of ubiquitous aggregation of “people power” to challenge state and corporation. April 29.. Spectrum115 Consider how the Open Everything movement’s legal strategy. Intelligence. Software. When the tools are in place to allow individuals or groups within a local area to easily exchange value without using traditional/centralized currency.blogs. despite a significant difference in emphasis. Money. Hardware. added to near-universal connectivity in the developed world. pretty much everything: Open.” Global Public Square. Search.phibetaiota. then nationally. 113 Venessa Miemis.cnn. first at local and state levels. collaborate. Space. with nullification of federal or inter112 “Review: Revolutionary Wealth (Hardcover).” . and especially legal “rights” affording secrecy and monopoly privileges as well as “personality” protections to corporations. 2006 <http://www. it’s reasonable to expect a serious challenge to the ingrained public perception of money.113 And the emerging possibility of “bankless” Third World people participating in long-change via encrypted e-currencies means the “Open Everything” project of distributed currency options is also within reach. dovetails with the positive side of Keane’s Monitory Democracy: The emergence of the Autonomous Internet will transform the global to local legal system.” 115 “Autonomous Internet Road Map. Carry. “4 trends shaping the emerging ’superfluid’ economy. Schools. well. 2011 <http://globalpublicsquare. “OPEN EVERYTHING” 159 In other words. Communications. and see if this product will kill you or if someone else was killed or abused as part of the product’s development. In the interim. quantify.”112 As for Panarchy. Library. All of these tools offering ways for people to connect. Government. means that the goal of universal connectivity is near. localities and states or provinces will combine both local implementation of the Autonomous Internet. Culture. Skies.114 The list of Open Everything on P2P Foundation’s “Autonomous Internet Road Map” page includes.. and take action add up to new infrastructures for building trust and exchanging value at every level. “4 trends. On the fringes of society exists the complementary currency market—a range of mechanisms that allow for peer-to-peer value exchange through mutual credit systems like LETS or via decentralized currencies like Bitcoin.3.10. Legal “rights” rooted in corruption and privilege. According to Venessa Miemis. “point the phone and read the bar code. Borders.. April 28. and finally 2006/04/revolutionary-wealth-hardcover/>. Society. Networks.

. Panarchy (1860) <http://www. with citizens voluntarily declaring allegiance to them wherever they lived. This office would send every responsible citizen a declaration form to fill in. You would pay neither more nor less. republicans. it is designed to empower all humans everywhere to be free with dignity and empowered to live in a prosperous world at peace. And monarchists. . Thereafter you would in no way be involved with anyone else’s government . without moving. and if numerous enough to bear the costs. to take one example. monarchy. In extreme cases.117 Each citizen would register with a “Bureau of Political Membership. These governments would not cover an entire contiguous geographical area.” were to compete with one another. . but morally it would be a completely different situation. This Road Map does not favor secession or any other political course of action. whatever your reply. and once registered. or democracy. draw up your budget.panarchy. or any other.160 CHAPTER 3. Whereabouts? In the Pampas? No. You would obey your own leaders. where you are. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION national attempts to impose restrictions on spectrum use.assemble. unless you withdrew your declaration.eng. I suppose.. if here. Question: If monarchy. and your own regulations. however they choose to define their own more than a Prussian subject is with Belgian authorities.116 3. observing due legal form and process.” Emile de Puydt.. that are from a more corrupt and less technically evolved Industrial Era. declare your program.” and fill in a form: In each community a new office is opened. etc. just as for income tax or dog registration. as an extension of the general principle of “laissezfaire. Different forms of government. take stock of yourself. were to choose a government to their liking in the same way they would shop among competing providers of goods. a “Bureau of Political Membership". how?" You would answer constitutional. your own laws. Anyway.11 Panarchy The concept of panarchy was originally put forward by Paul Emile de Puydt. certainly not. 116 “Autonomous 117 Paul Internet Road Map. establish your republic. but would be distributed. your answer would be entered in a register arranged for this purpose. secession will be the solution chosen by a sovereign public group...html>. open membership lists. would you have it absolute or moderate . you would thereby become either a royal subject or citizen of the republic.. with Vermont and Hawaii being the two most obvious candidates for full independence from the United STATES of America. Question: What form of government would you desire? Quite freely you would answer.

. There might and should be also common interests affecting all inhabitants of a certain district. You take your leave. for one to move from republic to monarchy. the States of the American Union.. Anything else would be the business of ordinary courts of justice. military and special. for ever. mutinies. from representative government to autocracy. On the other hand. What is most admirable about this innovation is that it does away. Everyone has the right to look after his own welfare as he sees it and to obtain security under his own conditions. it would simply be a matter of observing the principles hitherto observed between neighbouring peaceful States. and the revolution is accomplished without spilling any more than a drop of ink. Thus.. and ask politely for your name to be transferred to any list you please.. nay. jurisdiction is established over most issues and would present no difficulties whatsoever. It is simply a matter of declaration before one’s local political commission.without even the necessity of removing one’s dressing gown or slippers. these four words become innocent. enter your decision. down to the last tensions in the political tissue. no need at all to cross rivers or seas. it could be filled without difficulties by human rights and all other possible rights. carrying the bones of one’s ancestors. PANARCHY Ultimately. with revolutions. and as harmless as the medicine so wrongly mistrusted by Mr. The Commissioner will put on his glasses. or between one government and a subject of another.. To bring about such a liberty. cap in hand. from oligarchy to democracy. 161 . no need to learn to think in a new language. political communities nearby. words which all courts. in this case. and if a gap were found.. My panacea. and give you a receipt. all these fundamental and seemingly frightening questions are met with ready-made solutions. as if in the mouths of seminarists. "Change over to another” means: Go to the Bureau for Political Membership. quite as if there were not another. is simply free competition in the business of government. high and low. without exception. Are you dissatisfied with your government? Change over to another! These four words. no matter what their political allegiance is.. or better... Proudhon’s anarchy .. each having its own contributors too.. If a disagreement came about between subjects of different governments. True worldwide liberty is that which is not forced upon anyone. everyone would live in his own individual political community. always associated with horror and bloodshed. stand in relation to their federal government. this means progress through contest between governments forced to compete for followers. Each government. unanimously find guilty of inciting to rebellion.3. and street fighting. would stand in relation to the whole nation roughly as each of the Swiss cantons.. or even to Mr. there would be no need to give up either national traditions or family ties.11. de Pourceaugnac. open the register. it neither suppresses nor deceives. and is always subject to a right of appeal. if you will allow this term. ten other. being to each just what he wants of it.

. free to select from among the possible offered governments the one which conforms to his will and satisfies his personal needs. is to aggregate individual purchasing power into associations for the coordinated imposition of “terms of service” on corporations as a condition of doing business with the members. or a credit card corporation. and remains. and coercion never leads to right or truth. and one party can rule only after smashing its opponents. free to select. 119 “Part I: Democracy’s Missing Link. It can break out of the corporation’s unilateral contract by withholding custom. but always.162 CHAPTER 3. everywhere.12 Collective Contract The Direct Action Network’s “Collective Contract” proposes taking advantage of the low transaction costs of aggregating collective action outside of traditional hierarchies. Ronfeldt and which stops the misuse of political power derived from the money given to corporations. The Direct Action Network is a platform designed to allow such a union to form. Under the present conditions a government exists only by the exclusion of all the others. and that governments put down by force any aspiration to a different political form which would be similarly exclusive? So society ends up composed of ambitious resentful men. Then imagine that all compulsion ceases. and ambitious power-sated men. Erroneous principles never bring about just consequences. if not at war. free competition in the business of government as in all other cases. sitting complacently on the edge of a precipice. It could be your electricity company.. Who is surprised to see that minorities intrigue and agitate. It provides a means by which we can all fulfill that duty we owe. that every adult citizen is. as a source of leverage against powerful institutions. Individuals are thereby enabled to deal with corporations as equals. but not to force his choice on others. it is democracy’s missing link. . Under such conditions it is quite inevitable that the parties hate each other and live. at least in a state of armed peace. a majority is always harassed by a minority which is impatient to govern. 118 [Paul Herzog. free not only on the day following some bloody revolution. it could be Paypal.. Panarchy: Governance in a Networked Age.pen. specifically.” The Direct Action Network <http://wikiterms7. it could be Walmart. As such. your cell phone company or your mortgage com118 Ibid. Today we can evolve another new mechanism of democratic accountability. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION So.119 The first thing that you to do is to register on the Network as an end-user of a corporation (or many corporations). The development of the internet means that we can form a different kind of union . waiting for>. The idea. In Athena’s Camp] 3. This is a union of the end-users of corporations.

12. The first goes by the name “uTOU Interface".. This effectiveness comes from four other new factors.. the Network makes the traditional boycott a much more effective tool than it has been previously..” The Direct Action Network.. 4.[2028?]. 120 “Part 163 II: The Architecture of the Network... If you are not an activist or a corporation. It can be a union of any kind. Broadly speaking the first is for catching corporations.. For our purposes. so is Magna Carta. What you are doing by sending terms of use to a corporation is asserting a right to control how the corporation uses the money that it receives from you for its goods or services. But having caught this wild rhino..3.The Network allows a total boycott by all the end-users of the corporation. Coherence (Not trading with a corporation which does not abide by the terms of use ) 5.. This is what the second interface is for. By allowing a union of the whole user-base.. . Due Process. you have two interfaces on the Network. So are wage settlement agreements of a trade union. The 1689 and the 1791 Bill off Rights are examples of collective contracts. TOU stands for terms of use. They are legally binding on the corporation." The first interface enables you to serve terms of use on a corporation. It could even be a corporation that you do not receive goods or services from.. uTou enables you to do something more amazing than lassoing a stampeding rhino with a thread of spider’s silk.. COLLECTIVE CONTRACT pany. a collective contract is one given by the 99% to the corporations... A collective contract is an agreement given by a union of individuals..[2028?]. and this is called rather enticingly the “Campaign Interface. These TOU are part of the contract between you and the corporation. the Network makes the traditional boycott a much more effective tool than it has been previously.120 A primary function of the Network is to enable the user-base of a corporation to organise themselves effectively and quickly so that the target corporation cannot generate profits from it products.. The Network makes it possible for end-user’s to employ a variety of tactics to achieve a ’corporate arrest’. U stands for union. The second is for taming them. Transparency to the User-base 2. you are going to need some help in taming it. Privacy of the data of the User-base. 3. [2028?] You are now part of the User-Base of that corporation on the Network. Consultation with the User-base in decisions affecting the Userbase. The terms of use do this by imposing on the corporation five duties 1.. By allowing a union of the whole user-base. ..

a corporate criminal record which remains forever attached to its products. The user-base of a corporation has two ways to make sure that a corporation abides by the terms of the Collective Contract. the Network enables the user-base to attack the corporation’s economic activity both directly through its products and indirectly.164 CHAPTER 3. The network allows pin-point strikes against particular assets or functions of the corporation. to borrow a phrase from Anonymous “does not forgive and does not forget". Lastly. The Network. A corporation signed to the collective contract cannot engage in any kind of commercial relationship with a corporation which is not signed or is in breach of its obligations under the TOU.. Boycotts were traditionally ineffective because they were temporary or one off actions. End-users can always see this whenever they go to buy a product from a corporation with such a history. It allows the user-base. The collective contract makes the gains a permanent feature.. Overall the Network provides a lightning rod which connects the entire user-base of the whole global corporate network. as means of leveraging compliance from the target corporation. The level of those damages might reach is an untested area of . This prevents the corporation from getting the raw materials and finance needed to function within its profit margins. It provides end-users with a way of remembering . through the supply chain of the corporation. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION Firstly.. for example the enduser’s of a non-compliant corporation could threaten to switch to a rival corporation or in fact switch. These are “smart boycotts". The Network is designed as a platform for the mobilisation of endusers. that he or she holds in another corporation. There was nothing to stop a corporation returning to its harmful activities once the boycott was over. The possibility of this move creates a competitive advantage for corporations that sign to the Collective Contract. The second new factor is enforcing the boycott through other corporations in the target corporation’s supply chain. The main one simply arises from the fact that a corporation cannot afford to be in conflict with its main source of finance. for example to attack the private shareholdings of the chief executives of the target corporation. the motivation of end-user’s to act against harmful corporations has always been lessened by image make-overs and the allpervasive corporate propaganda. But breach of the Collective Contract is also legally enforceable against the corporation. There was no effective way of consolidating the gains made by the boycott. This would result in the corporation having to pay damages to the endusers. The third factor is that non-cooperation of the user-base becomes a constant factor for the corporations. The combination of these factors makes it possible to totally arrest the economic activity of a rogue corporation. It provides a connection between all the end-users who are affected by the actions of a corporation and all the end users of that corporation’s supply chain network. Tactics would not be limited to a boycott. This enables the entire user-base to coordinate itself.

HEATHER MARSH’S “PROPOSAL FOR GOVERNANCE” law.13. by systematically attacking key nodes in the chain. members: have acquired expertise and been accepted as full contributing members by the user group.. 121 “Part III: Campaigns. porous. If these systems were organized as autonomous. even a minority of consumers participating in a boycott campaign pursuant to a Collective Contract. What these authorities govern is a series of systems. and run as dictatorships where workers’ individual rights are exchanged for the basic necessities of life. These systems have profit for the top of the hierarchy as their objective. and a core group: recognized by the group as having the necessary level of expertise to provide direction for the system. they would be far better governed by themselves. The current political structure does not recognize that every system is not of concern or interest to everyone in the region.3.13 Heather Marsh’s “Proposal for Governance” There are numerous proposals that fall loosely within Comte’s conception of replacing domination over men with the administration of things. Campaigns are conducted by end-users through the Campaign Interface of the Network. Porous: contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all users with acceptance by peer review.. which act as the final authority on all topics for an entire region for an arbitrarily specified length of time or until they are overthrown by another group. So let us have a look at how this operates. or that some users have far greater knowledge and expertise in specific areas than others.121 3. . peer to peer user groups. Transparent: all information related to the system must be fully transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing. Autonomous: each user group should consist of all people affected by the system and no people not affected by the system. transparent. contributors: interested users who periodically present work for acceptance by the members. In any event. controlled by the state or corporations. We need a system where responsibility and control rests with the entire user group and expertise is acknowledged and put to best use. Heather Marsh’s “Proposal for Governance”: Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups. could impose significant costs from attrition on the target firm. For example.” The Direct Action Network. Peer to peer: each user group should consist of users: audit and provide feedback. they are not set up to provide an efficient or superior service or product to the users.. a corporation would be very reluctant to defend a breach of the TOU in court because it would a create an embarrassing publicity nightmare for it to be seen fighting the very people it needs to woo to sell its product. 165 Because the Campaign interface provides users with a comprehensive list of firms in a corporate supply chain.

autonomy. . or approval from an individual authority. telecommunications and knowledge. they are not required to submit resumes. People can work on anything they like.” WL Central. International systems would include things such as the internet. “A proposal for governance in the post 2011 world. autonomous but networked. seniority. disaster relief. shared knowledge. Everyone can work on the system that interests them. December<>. not by nations or treaties. etc. the responsibility would lie with only them. with as much or as little involvement as they choose.122 [Last modified March 15. 2012] 122 Heather Marsh. 2011 http://wlcentral. mastery and purpose. THE DESKTOP REVOLUTION IN REGULATION Meritocracy: A side effect of these user groups is that they provide workers with the three motivators which provide the greatest job satisfaction. Each local user group or individual would have access to outside user groups for trade. If their work is good enough it will be accepted by the user group. and in any situation where only one family or an individual is affected. doing the jobs at the level they are capable of. acquire accreditation.166 CHAPTER 3. food production and social services. Systems should be organized by user groups. local systems would include things such as transit..

1 At the root of all the networked platform models examined below is what Timothy May. transcend national borders. That is. drug cartels. and create a sense of allegiance. As for the perceived need. Mormons. and a sense of community. Likewise.. Sendero Luminoso. xvii. 167 . Islam. thus allowing us to take on substantially more individual responsibility.” in Ludlow. To quote Peter Ludlow: The reason that anarchy becomes a topic of interest in cyberspace is simply that with the widespread availability of various technologies (such as public key cryptography) it now appears that certain anarchist ideals may be possible. Interpol. cryptography and related technologies like anonymous remailers and electronic cash may undermine the concentrations of power that we are currently familiar with (nation states. the Mafia is a virtual community (with its enforcement mechanisms. and Pirate Utopias (Cambridge and London: MIT Press. terrorist groups. the IRA. for example).Chapter 4 Basic Infrastructures: Networked Economies and Platforms When it comes to networked economies. The building blocks were the digital revolution and the open Web of the 1990s. Crypto Anarchy. called the “virtual community”: The Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are both examples of virtual communities that span the globe. if not inevitable. it seems to be “steam engine time. Judaism. etc. it should be obvious to anyone who’s read James Scott on not being governed or Hakim Bey on pirate utopias that the perceived need is as old as the state and class society. “Preface. its own extralegal rules. writing in 2001. the Red Cross. 2001). Triads. Cyberstates. 1 Peter Ludlow.) Lots of other examples: Masons. ed. of belonging.” Of course it shouldn’t be surprising that a wide range of thinkers came up with similar ideas for social organization—as is the case with any other innovation—as soon as the building blocks became available and there was a perceived need for it.

. Greenpeace. having scattered sites. These virtual communities typically are “opaque” to outsiders. these communities have been early adopters of encryption technology. The advent of full-featured communications systems for computermediated virtual communities will have even more profound implications. including their authorities).) In an academic setting. and the ties that bind them are for the most part much stronger than are chauvinist nationalist emotions. (Note especially that any laws designed to limit use of crypto cause immediate and profound problems for corporations and that countries like France and the Philippines. the Animal Liberation Front. MUDs and MOOs (multi-user domains. be it a shared ideology or a particular interest is enough to create a cohesive community. I think. which have attempted to limit the use of crypto.” In fact corporations are just one example of many such virtual communities that will be effectively on a par with nation states. There are undoubtedly many more such virtual communities than there are nation-states.) and 3D virtual realities are one avenue [as also multi-player online role-playing games—see below under Suarez]. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS Aryan Nations. and their own goals and methods. Any group in which the common interests of the group. ranging from scrambled cellphones to full-blown PGP encryption. serving resilient communities. and text-centric Net communications are another. Not surprisingly. “invisible colleges” are the communities of researchers. might piggyback on this infrastructure.” thus gaining for the new corporate members the aegis of corporate privacy. may infiltrate such groups and use electronic surveillance (ELINT) to monitor these virtual communities. Attempts to gain access to the internals of these communities are rarely successful. Law-enforcement and intelligence agencies. But it also offers the potential of increasing the scope and power of networked platforms far beyond their present state. on one level it sounds like a renewed attempt at a high-bandwidth “Information Superhighway” with paid streaming content. etc. Any attempts to outlaw crypto will produce a surge of sudden “incorporations. Of course. All sorts of collaborative software platforms. Corporations are another prime example of a virtual community. [cite Gordon Cook] A common theme in the networked platform models discussed below is that they are scalable and modular..168CHAPTER 4. and so on.... The so-called Internet2 is projected to link tens of thousands of “community anchor institutions” throughout the United States and the world with a much higher capacity fiber optic backbone. .. private communication channels (generally inaccessible to the outside world.. with any number of local communities or organizations being able to connect to them on a stigmergic basis. in assuming the future world will be dominated by transnational megacorporate “states. In fact many “cyberpunk” (not cypherpunk) fiction authors make a mistake. have mostly been ignored by corporations..

capable of carrying information from one TAZ to another. Poetic Terrorism” (Autonomedia 1985.2 Bruce Sterling: Islands in the Net “The Net” in Islands is much closer to an extrapolation from older visions of the “Information Superhighway” than to the post-Tim Berners-Lee World Wide Web. as ends in themselves—but theoretically they can also be viewed as forms of struggle toward a different reality. apparently.2 Bey anticipated a Web that might provide “logistical support” for the TAZ and “help bring it into being. to some extent foreshadow the kinds of platforms later envisioned by David de Ugarte (phyles). capabilities provided by the Web would compensate for its limited duration and fixity of locale. written as his story was before the emergence of the Web. The platforms. was rather pessimistic about the potential of Temporary Autonomous Zones to become the building blocks of a successor society.htm>. and John Robb (Economies as a Software Service)—see below. It is of a type with most pre-Tim Berners-Lee visions of the Net.1. 1991) <http://www. One gets some idea of the flavor from a statement by an elderly character who says she doesn’t like the Net—she never even liked Cable TV. zines and BBS systems parasitizing on the official government/university Internet of the mid-1980s.” The counter-Net and the TAZ can be considered. A. rendering it ’invisible’ or giving it teeth. is “a support system. however.” and it has “replaced ’labour.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone. in this vision. . . practically speaking.3 4. as the situation might demand. Sterling’s Net. of defending the TAZ. as we saw in an earlier chapter. Sterling’s transnationals did. in order to produce situations conducive to the TAZ. 3 Ibid.sacred-texts. HAKIM BEY 169 4. whether they be William Gibson’s “cyberspace” or the “metaverse” in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash: monolithic. for instance—Rhizome—is a worker cooperative with an official philosophy of self-management. The Web. institutional. The protagonists’ transnational. Z.4. was largely divided between a Superhighway of Cable TV and proprietary streaming content. Ontological Anarchy. “ which will serve as the basis for a “new society emerging from the shell of the old. closed. he still had a vision of the Web as a support platform for TAZs that’s relevant to our interests. But the transnationals include a wide variety of enterprise forms. almost all belong to transnationals of one sort or another. Thus the Web. Its “bottom line is ludic joy rather than profit. Daniel Suarez (the Darknet/D-space). “free” and no longer parasitic. and he imagined the “Web” as a mere shadow counter-net of hackers.’ the humiliating specter of 2 Hakim Bey.1 Hakim Bey Although Bey. The TAZ would exist “in information-space as well as in the ’real world’”. and corporate intranets. will parasitize the Net—but we can also conceive of this strategy as an attempt to build toward the construction to an alternative and autonomous Net.

. in the novel. as described by de Ugarte. was a non-territorial global network. 4. The larger phyles commonly maintained territorial enclaves in major cities around the world (much as the Venetians. Although the novel is vague on the nature of the support platforms provided by the phyles. 1995). Sendero (Shining Path. 4. but participate in the internal non-money economy of Rhizome or are taken care of as dependents. and Nipponese enclaves tended to cluster in areas of former Japanese economic influence on the Pacific Rim. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS ’forced production. And replaced the greed motive with a web of social ties. financial transactions could no longer be monitored by governments.4 And it’s a worldwide distributed network of local facilities using the Net—or rather the corporate platform hosted by it—as a base of support. David de Ugarte developed the phyle concept as a model for real-world organization. 247. Boers. Most phyles were national or ethnic—the neo-Victorians and Nipponese were the two most important. Islands in the Net. p. A phyle.3 Phyles: Neal Stephenson The term “phyles. itself comes from Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age.’ with a series of varied. but there were many dozens more including Zulu. playlike pastimes. rented enclaves for the habitation of their merchants in major cities on the Mediterranean coast). [Full cite] Stephenson. in an era of declining 4 Bruce 5 Neal Sterling. Ashanti. But there were Vicky and Nipponese “quarters” in most of the major cities of the world.5 most states became hollowed out or collapsed altogether and the world shifted instead (after a chaotic Interregnum) to organization based on localized city-states. a hacker phyle that created and maintained nodes for the global CryptNet). Mormons.” A “large number” of its associates do no paid work at all. The Diamond Age: or. and on transnational distributed networks (the phyles). Israelis. reinforced by an elective power structure.” as far as I know. a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (Bantam. p. and the tax collection systems got fubared”).170CHAPTER 4. 195. a Colombian MaoistGonzaloist phyle)—and others were “synthetic” (of which the largest and most important was the First Distributed Republic. the Nipponese demographic base for recruitment was the territory of the former state of Japan.4 Phyles: David de Ugarte In his series of books culminating in Phyles. The Diamond Age is set in a fictional world where encrypted Internet commerce destroyed most of the tax base of conventional territorial states (“as soon as the media grid was up and running. The neo-Victorian (“Vickies”) enclaves tended to predominate in former countries of the Anglosphere. it’s clear from the specific case of the neo-Victorian phyle that it supports an ecosystem of Vicky member enterprises.

aware of sharing a common economic metabolism. who reached the region in the 10th century. But. As he describes the process of their development. in the Christian Mediterranean. including an effective reputational system. These merchants would set up shop in Al-Andalus and the Maghreb as well as in the emergent Italian republics. and fluently shared the information. pp. and in general. then the turbulent capital of the Abbasid caliphate. This internal operation raised costs for any possible new member who wanted to cheat another member or abuse his trust. first the network replaces centralized systems and then communities arise on the backbone of the network. among them. He also devoted an extensive portion of the book to realworld historical precedents for such organizations.. some communities evolve into phyles. fleeing the conflict and political persecution in Baghdad. discouraged treason even if commercial relationships were not expected to last. A distinct. When both principles are linked by the economic democracy principle (usually through cooperativist forms) we are talking about neovenetianism. Maghribi Jews constituted an identitarian community.4. They established a dense social network. originally based on the experience of mutual support and exile. non hierarchical environment. 128-129. increasingly dense group culture contributed. The phyle is a real community (then transnational and virtually born) who collectively have firms or [a] group of firms with the declared objective of feeding economically the autonomy of the community. neovenetianism its not 6 David de Ugarte. embody all these features—while incorporating the benefits of digital technology and network organization as force multipliers. is “Jewish merchants in the Maghreb” (that is. capitalising on a significant part of interregional trade. What [Avner] Greif points out is that the identity shared by this group. and forever?6 De Ugarte’s phyles. as a model of organization. so economic decision making processes never can impose its results over the scope of community plurarchy.4. with the entire network. including a number of networked merchant organizations and guilds in the Middle Ages (he characterizes his phyle movement as “neo-Venetian”). They preferably hired other members of the network. as agents. to reduce transaction costs and the need for extended and complex regulations. Finally. Who would want to lose the chance of working and trading with his own people.. Phyles. in Western Islam). that is. One of his historical examples of the neo-Venetian model. For phyle members there are two “simple truths“: the preeminence of the transnational community[’s] needs and freedoms over its own economy and the necessity of producing and trading in a plain. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE 171 states and corporations and rising networks. in which some members worked as agents for other members in dozens of European ports. for after all they constituted a distributed and dense network. and markets. fairs. . previously tested. His primary model for the concept is the Las Indias Cooperative Group to which he belongs (about which much more below). Community precedes and has always priority over business.

move them to the Internet. hacker ethic empowered. When conversations take place in languages such as>. transnational non-hierarchical tribes.7 Las Indias. to having a standard that is gradually reunifying the local dialects: Al Jazeera Arabic. Las Indias. Algerian. The result: conversational>. Firefox. as described by the members of that phyle. Take the ethics of the lonesome Ivy League hackers of the 80[2032?]s and set them loose on the web: in 15 years you will get Linux. Arabic in the Western Islamic world has gone. “Syntectics: Las Indias Cooperative Group.. and you will get the greatest conversational community boom since the Babel Tower. narratives and tools. . De Ugarte. they become transnational with great ease. emerged from the European cyberpunk movement of the late eighties as a distributed virtual group of civil rights activists more or less centered on Berlin.myninjaplease.>. the Public Domain movement and the end of the old culture industry. distributed. “Neovenetianism in a nutshell: from networks to phyles.). November 15. Take the old BBS.. and the emergence of transnational linguistic cultures built on the Internet: The Internet is the great steroid jar of this century. Because I fused so many bits and pieces from these different documents into a single narrative.” myninjaplease. etc. 2011 <http://deugarte. Maria Rodriguez Munos’ personal email of November 13. etc. 2011. open communities vs integration procedures. 8 The following account of the origins of Las Indias is based on statements of several members of the phyle.” El Arte de las Cosas. They include . the rise of phyles was a natural outgrowth of the Internet and World Wide Web. in ten according to the accounts of several of its members. or Arabic. According to de Ugarte. Over all of them [the] phyle itself could be consensually defined as a networked. The main players in these communities belong to two generations that have grown up with Himanen’s hacker ethic: the network logic of abundance and the work ethic of free software are the glue that binds the blogosphere. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS an organized movement nor a structured ideology but an environment related to the conversation on phyle and phyle building. Accessed October 19. 2010 <http://www. Spanish. free music. Virtual communities arise in new spaces. .” El Correo de las Indias. virtual markets vs monetary and trade ecosystems. almost mutually unintelligible varieties (Moroccan. based on the powerful in7 David de Ugarte. September 18. communitarism vs universalism. Internet born organism with high productivity and great resilience [which] has its own universe of myths. fanzines and fan conventions. small sized. “Phyles.172CHAPTER 4. my only attributions to individual sources are for material in quotes. Indeed we could say that neovenetianism is a multitude of forever-opened phyle-related discussions: cooperatives vs familiar firm networks.. More than half the readers of any Madrid website with more than 1000 visitors per day are in Latin America. the spaces of the various globalisations associated with the great transnational languages. Only 2 out of every 5 people who write in French on the Internet live in France. from being a religious language superimposed onto regional. is a case in point. 2010 <http://elarte.

legal regimes and passports caused—to say the least—serious inconvenience for a virtual community that transcended national boundaries. he backs up de Ugarte’s and Rodriguez’s assessment of the need for economic autonomy based on a legally recognized organizational structure: At some point. A s we had seen at this moment. problems like different nationalities. Many of these communities will wish to have their own economy. Spanish cyberpunks went from cyberactivism and literature to constituting a group of cooperative enterprises straddling South America and Madrid. It meant a lot more of discussions. My Ninja Please interview). wars. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE centive that is recognition. “Phyles”). in the My Ninja Please interview. and more particularly Spanish circles affiliated with it: A time ago. in the far. and transnationality. They changed names: now they are known as “Indianos”. concurred that it was an online Spanish cyberpunk group behind Las Indias: it “was mainly centered on supporting/launching activism campaigns on both the Internet and the “physical” world. resilience. we thought from the very first moment in non national terms. “Phyles”). 173 The Las Indias cooperative arose from the cyberpunk milieu in Europe. some cyberpunk young people started in Berlin a kind of small virtual community trying to understand what was happening in the world. the group discovered that its survival was dependent on some economic autonomy and soon some of the members . and their business has spread from consultancy to sustainable production or local development (de Ugarte. With the years it developed into an ezine and a civil rights’ cyberactivist group (de Ugarte. email. Unfortunately. The only possible security—we thought—is to have a distributed environment and distributed income sources in the same way Internet’s safety is based in it’s distributed architecture. the Spanish word for the emigrant who would return to his home village after making his fortune in the Americas. centered in Berlin. some states to fall and some democratic revolutions to fail. Nov.4. Only that the Indianos’ America has been the Internet. Their new banners: economic democracy.” Likewise. Some members of the Spanish cyberpunk movement participating in this loose virtual community “realized that a virtual community couldn’t remain strong and independent without an economic structure” (Maria Rodriguez. Jose Alcantara. but finally we arrived to the idea of building our own economical structure in order to give safety to our way of living and to the liberty we always loved but we only lived in the Internet. 13). Let us place these communities in the midst of the whirlwind that is a world where national states are sinking and the globalisation of the economy is eroding all the good old institutions that used to make people feel secure. community companies and common funds (de Ugarte. ideas and study. far days of the falling of communism.4. from My Ninja Please interview). and both inside and outside the territories controlled by the Spanish State. Las Indias Cooperative Group is the materialization of this project (de Ugarte.

BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS of this Spanish Cyberpunk group found themselves forming an small enterprise and.174CHAPTER 4. So we make business mainly in Madrid. So based on their realization of the need for a common economic structure. more phyle we will be :D Maria Rodriguez: There is not much relation between the two cities. but “two comfortable ’bases’ (Madrid and Montevideo) and.” Las Indias is a phyle based largely in the Spanish-speaking world.” Born with a capital of only 3000 euros. but there is a strong emotional relation between las Indias and Montevideo.. According to Natalia Fernandez.” (Maria Rodriguez. . the Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias got to 2010 with a healthy. 2011) The Group started out with “a small community of only three persons” in 2002. business and social infrastructures we are dedicated to build. more social action in our everyday’s social environment. the Las Indias Cooperative Group as a transnational cooperative. after transferring all the democratic principles and all the hacker ethics to the way Las Indias organizes itself. with its two primary physical bases in Madrid and Montevideo. Madrid is the easiest place for making business in the Spanish-Portuguese-speaking-world (what we call the “latoc” world). As the members of the phyle explained in the My Ninja Please interview: David de Ugarte: They are the first two dots of a distributed network of places. “the embryo of the economic democracy in the Indiana phyle. we developed. 13. More dots: more security for our way of living. Nov. . The Las Indias phyle is “a transnational community of people that guarantee their autonomy and freedom through companies organized by the principle of the economic democracy around Las Indias Cooperative Group. he said. Probably the third one will be in Africa. offices. . and have developed projects in the past. and has since grown to include not only two cooperative firms. founded in 2002. they first built a Las Indias electronics cooperative and then set up over it. “and has also been our engine over the years. A few years later. full-of-goals mindset. email. that the electronics cooperative was “the head of the Cooperative Group.” It was also. is seeding our environment. promoting new business—four only during the past year” (Rodriguez. My Ninja Please interview). more welfare for us. wanting to extend to their daily life the environment they have been enjoying for years on the net. and also after giving birth to a new cooperative. It centralizes the commercialization of our products and services. with a number of companies in the IBEX35 (Madrid Stock Exchange) and public institutions such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Spain. and on their ideological affinity for the principle of economic democracy. Manuel Ortega added. the electronics cooperative. . This is how the Sociedad de las Indias Electronicas was born. was the first cooperative of the Las Indias group. in the same interview. as an umbrella structure. but we enjoy mainly Mon- . or maybe in other part of America. The activity of La Sociedad Cooperativa de las Indias Electronicas covers a wide geographical area that includes Spain and Latin America (My Ninja Please interview).. later.

” And de Ugarte adds that the community. [I]t’s also important to understand that the community goes before. But the interesting thing its that when you read lasindias. 175 This community is central to understanding the phyle. de Ugarte mentioned Sterling’s Islands in the Net as prefiguring the phyle organization. Montevideo symbolizes our will of living transnationally. From Montevideo we can easily get everywhere through the Southern Cone. personal blogs. We call it a “phyle” (My Ninja Please interview). . The internal cultural milieu of the phyle is propagated by a variety of online platforms.. as it represents the staging of our commitment to a transnational way of life. Manuel Ortega: The special relationship between Madrid and Montevideo for us resides in that both are a part of the latoc world and they are now two places where we find the minimum freedom to live ours lives. is “the owner of our coops. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE tevideo.. “[I]n a time where national states are day by day more clearly the problem.. so that it enables us to really operate in the whole Ibero-american region from a single city) and personal ones (Uruguay is a quiet country with a profound democratic culture. Therefore.” he said. What we like the most is to enjoy the country and their conversations. to the best of our abilities. and subsequently “decides to give birth to some enterprises. Buenos Aires or many others. Add the nice restaurants and the fact that Montevideo is placed near the sea and you’ll have it made). We try to contribute to these and we certainly do it. Natalia Fernandez: Montevideo is where we decided to locate our headquarters out of Spain. Posts are written in individual. In the same interview. Our community owns the (as well in ezine or blog format or through the RSS) you will find that the result its far away from the mere addition of individual sources. We chose that for many reasons including practical ones (Montevideo is really well connected with every important city in the region as Sao Paulo. and will always go before. Jose F.4. allowing as to effectively work in the region. we hope to open new “bases” in other latoc cities soon. It’s not just an aggretator. Alcantara: Madrid is where it all began. our commitment to achieve that and the very first touchable fact that we are on the right way. not the other way. Montevideo is where we decided to set our first stable location. virtual communities “empowered by coops as economic democracies” are a possible alternative. Alcantara says the phyle is a community of people who know each other.” If you add to it transnationalization you will have an egalitarian community which organizes its own economy as a democracy and which is defined over state and national borders. like aggregated member blogs: David de Ugarte: I think it is a good representation of what we are. Anyway. even though most of us are not from Madrid. the companies. it is a very special place for us. If one day you decide to go.4. . you take what you gave with you (as it happens with cooperatives capital). though. even [though] technically it is . the Las Indias phyle.

There in El Correo you may find blog posts coming from our corporative blogs (elarte. El Correo provides you a fast repository of fresh to peek at. the one we put on specific. new economic frameworks. El Correo de las Indias is one of our sites we love the most. etc. In El Correo we share our interests. from personal and latoc. geostrategy from a latoc point of view (Latin occidental. vertical thematic-narrowed blogs as ecoperiodico. . Natalia Fernandez: El Correo de las Indias is a small sample of we are and we do. then you have our personal blogs headlines and finally our most “cultural” community organizations. Manuel Ortega: El Correo de las Indias is the collective journal where appears all we publicate in ours personal blogs. but also you will find all the content we put on our personal blogs. under this not-sopolished and relaxed liquid blue-on-white appearance. social network analysis and development. Alcantara: El Correo de las Indias is designed. the other on economic democracy and cooperativism. . When you put all of these together. . for providing a fast shot on what’s going on in Las Indias. environment and business intelligence. the world of las Indias. along with the latest concepts added to the Indianopedia. or occidental Latin. risk and privacy managing. personal blog posts and even the recipes develop and/or adapt in our daily cooking here in Las and it is also its very purpose. That is El Correo’s magic. maybe the one we love the most. Maria Rodriguez: El Correo de las Indias is the newspaper of our world. it is the public representation of our community: it is not over the personal and lasindias. personal and business dimension. one is focused on social effects of Internet. where you can find stuff on business intelligence. theoretical reflections and deliberations. . the second line of news is made by the two cooperative’s blogs.) and environmental news make the headers. marging the Spanish and Portuguese language areas). and because we have many different backgrounds. it is just that if you order what we write and you aggregate all in a single place you will get a map of las Indias common thoughts and deliberations. Jose F. globalization. reflecting the permanent discussion. A new user will find articles on sociotechnology. and even some blog posts coming for the members of our council of advisors. But that new user will also get to read a theoretical framework.176CHAPTER 4. Because of it. . As a result of how it is built and what it shows. economy. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS just an aggregator of our blogs and wikis. As any newspaper it has its own hierarchy: latoc world strategic news (energy. personal and collective experience. environmental news. But probably the most surprising thing about El Correo de las Indias is that it is really a puzzle. There is interaction. We write everything in our personal blogs and according the way a post will be tagged it will appear in a section or another. El Correo represents our dimensions and we have all a community. the blogs of . the social digestion of information. truly interaction of everyone.

we never had a unique location or a national identity.” (Maria Rodriguez. The phyle is both a safety net and a safe haven. the hacker ethic and devolutionismo (devolutionism). and internally making decisions democratically as to the most efficient way to allocate limited resources. people are above companies. Because the phyle collectively confronts genuine shortage situations. the basic ideological principles. That’s why the members in our community have different passports but the same rights and responsibilities. of the Las Indias phyle’s culture: the Group’s principles of identity and action. In El Correo de las Indias appears what publicate our councilors and our dogo. by the way. as described by Rodriguez. Manuel Ortega: The Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias is the materialization of the economic structure of the indiana phyle. And a need that take us to Economic Democracy [My Ninja Please interview] The hacker ethic. some internal feedback there). The internal governance of the economic structure is based on economic democracy. That way is the way in which they contribute to our deliberation [My Ninja Please interview]. externally.. blogs that synthesize our deliberation (who.4. email. The best way to deal with such scarcity is. economic democracy. our work and our deliberation run at the same time in several cities in different parts of the world. this means we organize ourselves according to our needs. For the same reason. We don’t feel as part of any nation or any imagined community. 177 As for the specifics.. and people that make up our environment and the environment of our environment). often began in personal blogs. 2011) The distributed network architecture is intended to achieve maximum freedom and autonomy for the participating communities. in an open market (“without dependence on donors or subsidies”). transnationality. by avoiding dependence on some single node (which would generate “control and dependence”). sounds much like the ludic ethos . our center is our real community (the people we know and we love. Maria Rodriguez wrote me by private email. and that’s because we move between them. In our organization. a need which appear when we want to put our lives like a Digital Zionism into reality. participate in the same deliberation and work in the same network. members must decide between options. Abundance logic reflects a desire to overcome the “artificial creation of shortage” which is central to the business models of so many conventional capitalist ventures. . . It’s comes from years of constructing and it looks a way to administrate scarcity. The happiness and welfare of each of us is above the economic benefit. The principle of transnationality derives from the phyle’s origins. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE the two cooperative which now are part of the cooperative group. are “distributed networks and abundance logic.. As a result of the evolution from a virtual community (cyberpunk movement). This allows us to decline those well-paid jobs that do not satisfy us and this also allows us to build together a free and full life. giving members a base—a “Digital Zion”—from which to operate: Natalia Fernandez: The Cooperative Group is the legal form that orders our economic activity. 13. Nov.4.

BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS attributed to Bruce Sterling’s fictional Rizome network in Islands in the Net. Las Indias proves it is possible “to develop knowledge. 2) There is no division between joy time and work time in the social production of knowledge. Maria Rodriguez: None of them. Ants or bees use to be associated with collective intelligence. synergies emerge. We try to build from these consensus a guide for decisions on scarcity (economy) but we also know that our most precious treasure is diversity. which involve the vindication and practice of multi-specialization. David de Ugarte: I believe in deliberation as the way to develop a common open source intelligence by a community. 2011). cultural goods and free skills liberating all our works” through open licenses. when you let people work and coordinate their efforts freely. we do it by ourselves and if there is a claim. I believe in distributed intelligence. it would be to eliminate the obstacles of any kind that stop us from building the necessary skills to develop freedom and well-being in our environment. Alcantara: If there’s a way of improving the intelligence we all own as single persons. in time. to consensus.178CHAPTER 4. it is not to aggregate them as they used to tell us on «the wisdom of crowds». Las Indias advocates a progressive reduction in patent and copyright laws to the point of “their complete extinction. blogs and newsgroups—leads. “probably one of the most important is the existence of artificial monopolies established by law.” In the meantime. 3) The freedom of doing as fundamental value: against the existing institutions we don’t demand things to be done. The wider our diversity is. Deliberation means long term discussion without the urgency of taking a decision. Natalia Fernandez: The key word would be “distributed” instead . The hacker ethic represents the values of a distributed network world and forms our way to understand cooperativism. Jose F. using the repressive power of the State. Whether it is or not something higher. November 13. (Rodriguez email. but also to a great diversity of personal positions and points of view. more freedom will be enjoyed by any of us. the only think I’ll admit is that its success is not based on collective efforts. The internal democracy of the phyle is based on principles of distributed intelligence and deliberation. but we are non hierarchical. We would sum it up as: 1) The affirmation of a new work ethic with the knowledge as driving force and main motive in the productive activity and in the community life. more fertile will be our ideas and intellectual creations and more valuable will be our proposals to the market. we are plurispecialists. we are multifunctionals. if there’s something that really makes a difference is the intelligence you give birth when different people put their efforts on a distributed way. like intellectual property and copyrights. A permanent and opened deliberation—what you can see in our chat rooms. but on the way you let them interact: the distributed architecture is the key. Of the obstacles Rodriguez mentions. It’s another way to create artificial shortage that benefits a few. No.” Accordingly. Under this architecture.

as in the case of the Indianos. But they share two key elements: they possess a transnational identity. 179 Las Indias was not the only virtual tribe to emerge in the same period. Winning a bet in the cyberpunk and postmodern world we live in nowadays amounts to nothing but resisting and thriving. Connect all nodes. into urban communes that are also business cells. one must truly belong in this world. but transnational communities that have acquired enterprises in order to gain continuity in time and robustness. the old pacifist Sufis from Senegal. In order to do so. But the parallelism is significant: they are not companies linked to a community. Phyles are the children of its explorers: of free software. as in the case of the Murides. More Chinese people live outside mainland China than French people live in France. cyberactivism. “In these very same years. with some to be found in almost every country. given the growing economic importance of ethnic diasporas around the world coupled with the increasing availability of network communications technology: Consider the difference between China and the Chinese people. and they subordinate their companies to personal and community needs. eliminate the hierarchy and you’ll be allowing that all knowledge to flow through the members of the network (My Ninja Please interview). Their bet is based on two ideas. virtual communities. A phyle’s investment portfolio may range from renewable energies to PMCs. Its transformation isn’t over yet.4. they are indubitably winning their bet (de Ugarte. “Phyles”). and having their own NGOs. or else they may have a small-business structure and even a religiously inspired ideology. but the young Murides have turned the daïras.4. truly love its frontiers. The other is a nation that spans the planet. Maybe because of this. They are phyles. Second: in a global market the community is more resilient than the “classic” capitalist company. from free software initiatives to credit cooperatives. First: transnational is more powerful than international. In fact the phenomenon seems to be the wave of the future.” the Murides. nothing could be farther apart than cyberpunks and the Murides. Transnational thinking allows them to access the new globalised business before anyone else. Phyles are “order attractors” in a domain which states cannot reach conceptually and in areas that states increasingly leave in the dark: phyles invest in social cohesion. as de Ugarte points out. At first blush. One is an enormous country in Asia. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE of collective. the old Koranic schools. and the globalisation of the small. sometimes even creating infrastructures. Then there are some 22m ethnic Indians scattered across every continent (the third Indian base in Antarctica will open next year). went from having a nationalist discourse and growing peanuts to constituting a community trade network with two million members that spreads from South Africa to Italy. Hundreds of smaller diasporas knit together far-flung lands: . providing grants and training. Phyles may function democratically and be cooperative-based.

he texts his mother while still waiting to clear customs. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS the Lebanese in west Africa and Latin America.. diasporas create connections that help people with good ideas collaborate with each other. a bit more numerous than Brazilians. No other social networks offer the same global reach—or commercial opportunity... both within and across ethnicities. A century ago. Today. they would be the world’s fifth-largest. they allow this technology to come into its own. perhaps sealing a deal worth millions with a single conversation on Skype. people prefer to deal with those they have confidence in. First. three Indian- . He can fly home regularly to visit relatives or invest his earnings in a new business..180CHAPTER 4. A Chinese paper co-written with a scientist in America is cited three times as often as one produced solely in China. thanks to cheap flights and communications. Personal ties make this easier. the Japanese in Brazil and Peru. Diasporas have been a part of the world for millennia. Second. that it disproportionately involves scientists with diaspora ties and that it appears to lead to better science (using the frequency with which research is cited as a rough measure). they are far bigger than they were. A study in 2011 by the Royal Society found that cross-border scientific collaboration is growing more common. The creativity of migrants is enhanced by their ability to enroll collaborators both far-off and nearby. Second. 40% more than in 1990. What may be the world’s cheapest fridge was conceived from a marriage of ideas generated by Indians in India and Indians overseas. more than half of Chinese and Indian scientists and engineers share tips about technology or business opportunities with people in their home countries. Uttam Ghoshal. a little less so than Indonesians. Diaspora ties help businesses as well as scientists to collaborate. The world has some 215m first-generation migrants. This is because the diaspora networks have three lucrative virtues. sail to America and never see his friends or family again. the smiling Mormons who knock on your door wherever you live. a migrant might board a ship. Today two changes are making them matter much more. Himanshu Pokharna and Ayan Guha. they speed the flow of information across borders: a Chinese businessman in South Africa who sees a demand for plastic vuvuzelas will quickly inform his cousin who runs a factory in China. and most important.. He can wire her money in minutes. In Silicon Valley. When courts cannot be trusted to enforce contracts. Third. Such migrants do not merely benefit from all the new channels for communication that technology provides. That Chinese factory-owner will believe what his cousin tells him. fulfilling its potential to link the world together in a way that it never could if everyone stayed put behind the lines on maps. First.. people can now stay in touch with the places they came from. and act on it fast. they foster trust. If migrants were a nation. He can follow news from his hometown on his laptop. In countries where the rule of law is uncertain—which includes most emerging markets—it is hard to do business with strangers.

“Migrants are now connected instantaneously.This is a fundamental and profound break from the past eras of migration..4. always marginalised in the flat-map world of national territories. dynamically and intimately to their communities of origin. The “new type of hyperconnectivity” that enables such projects is fundamental to today’s networked diasporas.” That break explains why diasporas. the Internet has consequences as it removes the barrier to entry for many markets. November 19. are key to 9 “Migration and business: Weaving the world together. The emergency of real communities—as the phyles—and the lost of the hegemonic power the States used to have are both effects due to the same cause: our communications are mainly based on a network that. so that continuously we have some new development or some brand new innovative strategy. One of the consequences of these changes is that many non-State actors (they may be corporations. From an economic point of view. Diplomacy is the necessary key to avoid getting it wrong and many of them are starting to realize. or real communities as the Muridies). find themselves in the thick of things as the world becomes networked. In India visiting relatives they decided to show their idea to Godrej & Boyce. you may find yourself having access to new markets originated around the Internet. of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas.. PHYLES: DAVID DE UGARTE American engineers. Consequently and unexpectedly. or huge cooperative groups as Mondragon. The consequences it will have on the way the world is organized can already be felt.. 2011 <http://www. continuously. This is an important. may realize that they have a role to play in the new transnational arena. for the first time in all history. based on technology used to cool laptop computers. One of the consequences of having our world organized through a distributed network comes from the economy. that they thought might work in a fridge. oligopolies that were restricting the free competence). Under this circumstances.. . They need an internal diplomacy division but usually they don’t have a clear understanding on how to form. according to Carlo Dade. But as they provide extra benefits only for a short period of time. not negligible aspect that’s already transforming.9 181 In similar language.” The Economist.economist. had an idea for a cooling engine. a think-tank. has a distributed architecture. the need of internalization of these processes.4. But the emergency of markets with a virtual infinite competition also removes the rents: the benefits that came from having a control over a market with a restricted competence. Alcantara in the My Ninja Please interview describes the Las Indias and Murides as logical outgrowths of the technological and organizational changes of our time: The Internet is the revolution of our times. but also to some old markets whose access were forbidden in the past due to many reasons (need of intensive capitalization. innovation and development are the only way of improving benefits. our world. organize and use this diplomatics. and doing it from the very>.. an Indian manufacturing firm.

the Las Indias cooperative uses the Freenet as an internal communications and webhosting platform. alongside Stephenson’s—and perhaps more relevant to de Ugarte’s neo-Venetian model—is the starfaring human subspecies in Poul Anderson’s “Kith” series. “Las Indias Montevideo Declaration.11 Although de Ugarte mentions Freenet in the 10 Sociedad de las Indias Electrónicas .182CHAPTER 4. Another useful fictional illustration.” Sociedad de las Indias Electronicas. and with an individual returning to any one planet only at intervals of decades or centuries. above all. December 7. 2010 <http://lasindias. With lifetimes of thousands of years by the local time of planet-bound populations. regardless of the state that provides them with a passport.” much like the Greek or Jewish quarters in the cities of the Western Roman Empire) in spaceport cities on planets throughout the area of human settlement to house merchants on-planet at any given time. by Spanish cyberpunks—de Ugarte writes: A person is only free if [he] owns the foundations [of] his own livelihood. 11 David de Ugarte. Kith families maintained houses in the clave that were occupied by any members currently doing business there. distributed throughout the world. We name this simple truth as Neovenetianism. In the Montevideo Declaration of Las Indias. The original was a foundational document of the las Indias phyle. which must serve to free our trade and our discussion of the vicissitudes of any state or market and. De Ugarte has referred directly to John Robb and to Suarez’s Darknet (see below) as fellow travelers with his phyle . to provide equal opportunities for all members. published in June 2008 <http://p2pfoundation. made without coercion or any state or group and dedicated to the development of a transnational and deterritorialized space in which to deepen the freedoms and rights that enable a full life in overlapping and non-coercive pluriarchic communities. Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias. For this purpose we constitute ourselves as a freely distributed network of people. The indiano’s phyle is a network of free merchants and entrepreneurs dedicated to the purpose of building and testing a space of economic democracy. Interestingly. when he has no obligation to pay homage to anyone and can leave his network effectively if he understands that no longer serves the needs of their own>.” translated by de Ugarte. Effective access by each one to property and general commercial development. and de Ugarte recommends it as a primitive version of the Darknet envisioned in Suarez’s work. the starfarers (much like de Ugarte’s Venetians) rented Kith enclaves (the “Kith quarter. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS the survival of any community. as we saw above. “Darknets: más allá de la frontera del control. happiness that only himself can judge. genetically and culturally isolated by time dilation from the rest of the human race. the founding document of the Las Indias phyle—founded. acting politically by themselves and economically through coordinated and voluntarily allied firms to create a common infrastructure of bases.10 So the phyle platform supports a modular ecosystem of enterprises. are therefore the economic foundations of any citizenship that does not consist in a mere representation.

” a neural network. Its cultural and geographical heartland is southern California and the Greater Los Angeles region. he admits it is still nowhere near the level of technical advancement they envision. it is a forerunner to what Robb and Suarez envisioned. in which most nation-states have collapsed from the ecological catastrophes—desertification. and there are large Acquis claves in Seattle. is more purely networked. opensource and p2p in orientation. with its claves widely distributed around the world and no one geographical base. crop failures. Nevertheless.5. Freenet “is still far from the darknet described in FreedomTM. Austin. 4. The major urban centers of Europe appear to be Acquis. with a virtual overlay superimposed on it. The two civil societies coexist uneasily. The Acquis. and blogs (or flogs—Freenet blogs) had to be written without ready-made software like Wordpress and Blogger. The neural net enables anyone connected to it to view the physical world.4. San Francisco and Boston. control/>. The Acquis is largely green.12 The world is dominated by two networked global civil societies. with the help of uplink spex. rising sea levels. the Dispensation and the Acquis. and there are vague references to a surviving legislature and governor in Sacramento. The two networked societies are articulated into local enclaves much like Stephenson’s. Both have ideologies strongly centered on sustainable technology. droughts. of “entire virtual economies” built on local darknet platforms. BRUCE STERLING: THE CARYATIDS 183 context of John Robb’s writing and Daniel Suarez’s novels. oriented toward what we would call the Progressive/Green/Cognitive Capitalism of Bill Gates. December 15. 12 Bruce Sterling.5 Bruce Sterling: The Caryatids The Caryatids is set in the world of the 2060s. 2010 <http://deugarte. The Dispensation is commercial and proprietary. or surf the Net by cerebral cortex. Both are engaged in the reclamation of devastated areas and oversee networks of refugee camps housing millions of displaced persons. and multi-million refugee Volkswanderungs as entire countries became uninhabitable—of the previous decades.” Local Freenets are a lot like the Web of the¿por-que-me-gusta-tanto-freenet>. The Caryatids (New York: Ballantine Books. 2009). and in particular its experimental reclamation project on the Adriatic island of Mljet. “¿Por qué me gusta tanto Freenet?” El Correo de las Indias. Bono and Warren Buffett. . with brain-computer interfaces. is most relevant to our consideration here of networked platforms. engaging in constant worldwide competition and sending teams to monitor each other’s activities under the terms of a negotiated accord (something like the system of meta-law that regulates relations between the phyles in The Diamond Age). accessible through augmented reality goggles. Madison. when updating a website took time. searches were slow. The Acquis. on the other hand. although the Dispensation is more geographically centered than the Acquis. The Acquis team there is linked by the “sensorweb. Individuals can maintain constant realtime communications with the rest of the team. monster storms.

one that has its own monetary currency. etc. 4. local holons are built on common Darknet platforms much as Stephenson’s claves are built on the platforms of the phyles. high-tech global economy is thriving. Alternate currencies and new management tools allow for the emergence of a new social order that syphons resources away from the old economy. distributed computing. and the Linux Operating System are all global platforms for collaboration with their own social order. rules and agendas... In other words. Buckminster Fuller. we’ve transitioned to a configuration of sustainability and relative stability on a planetary scale. This makes it possible for large numbers of people to operate in a virtual world that encompasses the real one. GPS. How did we get here? It took a revolution. So what if the revolution takes place in a parallel universe?. We’ve already got SEVERAL parallel universes of global collaboration.184CHAPTER 4. Facebook. . MMORPG. And we’re just scratching the surface of what these social technologies are capable of. the whole visual world is like a graffitoed wall. RFID. To change something. systems of governance. at Chaotic Ripple. But how did a movement comprised of rogue thinkers displace the existing powers that be? I’d like to suggest that the great 20th Century futurist. and online gaming.] Joe Brewer. We made the transition away from fossil fuels. Could such a system be built on a planetary scale to syphon economic productivity away from the existing model? I want to suggest that this sci-fi future may be closer than we think.” What if we were to take him literally and envision a parallel universe of global collaboration. [His Darknet platform is a lot like Sterling’s sensorweb. Online games like World of Warcraft and the Gears of War series invite people to explore an alternate reality with hundreds of thousands of other people in real time. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS Members of the team are able to semantically tag real-world objects with information. Wikipedia. wrote a brilliant article on virtual reality and gaming architectures as platforms for the alternative economy—“a virtual world that encompasses the real one”: Imagine it’s the year 2050 and a vibrant.6 Daniel Suarez In Suarez’s fictional world. Prosperity is widespread and capitalism has taken a new form that promotes human well-being as its modus operandi. linked to relevant sources online. and indexed to each other. Systems of virtual reality have been built on new capabilities from mobile technologies. Twitter. Our cities are designed around regional security and multi-layered resilience. build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. with its individual parts labeled for significance. captured it in his assertion that “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.

. were shaped in a world where those connected to the Internet were a tiny minority of the total population and hence unlikely to know each other in “meatspace. local sources of order will emerge 13 Joe Brewer..” Back then. 14 Clay Shirky. .15 Not only are nearly all governments financially insolvent.typepad. 4. it was not until 1999 that any country had a majority of its citizens online. then it reinforces physical community and becomes a tool for facilitating it... Here Comes Everybody. Such a platform promotes relocalization. They offer a new way forward as technology outpaces the authoritarian systems of control that held democracies in check throughout history.” “a world separate and apart from the real>.” whether that of William Gibson or that of John Perry Barlow. pp. August 18..14 If d-space is overlaid on the physical world. As services and security begin to fade. our electronic networks are becoming deeply embedded in real life.7 John Robb: Economies as a Social Software Service For some time. rather than constituting a separate “cyberspace” dissociated from the physical world.” But that separation was an accident of partial adoption. and these worlds would rarely overlap.13 185 According to Clay Shirky. JOHN ROBB: ECONOMIES AS A SOCIAL SOFTWARE SERVICE Writers like Cory Doctorow and Daniel Suarez have written several books that explore how weaknesses in cyber security enable entirely new forms of guerilla warfare and economic production. offers a vision for deploying alternate reality games to solve real-world problems. 15 <http://globalguerrillas.” Cyberspace was “a kind of alternate reality mediated by the world’s communications networks.. We are entering a new era of possibilities. they can’t protect citizens from a global system that is running amok. Though the internet began to function in its earliest form in 1969. “Global Revolution in Alternate Reality?” Chaotic Ripple. because there was little overlap between one’s social relations online and offline: “the people you would meet online were different from the people you would meet offline. early conceptions of “cyberspace. and builds social capital. The futurist. the concept of cyberspace made sense. Jane McGonigal. In the developed world. 194-196. the experience of the average twenty-five-yearold is one of substantial overlap between online and offline friends and colleagues.chaoticripple.. John Robb has written about Resilient Communities—generally along the same conceptual lines as Transition Towns or Global Villages—as an emergent form of social organization to fill the void left by the collapse of the centralized state and large corporation..4. The internet augments real-world social life rather than providing an alternative to>. 2011 <http://www.7. Shirky argues. Instead of becoming a separate cyberspace..

most people will opt to take control of this process by joining together with others to build resilient communities that can offer the independence. security. and encrypted darknets. digital currencies of various sorts. he discussed the importance of platforms as a vehicle for decentralization. Brave New War. he mentioned Skype. Nearly any social construct imaginable can be automated (at least on a small scale).17 As an example of a platform. They can include platforms for teleconferencing. allocates. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS to fill the void. .16 Parallel with his thought. he has also been exploring the idea of networked platforms as a support base for his resilient communities. the free VOIP service. Whether it works efficiently or is appealing to recruits is another story entirely. 17 John Robb. Hopefully. June 15. apparently under the influence primarily of Suarez. • The networks hardware and software infrastructure ensures that all members of the network are provided access to the system and the tools necessary to use it effectively. but probable. In his 2006 book Brave New War. Platforms can also include a wide range of software. a constellation of resilient communities. a gang. etc. 172. Platforms can include peer rating services. but in language that also sounded very much like de Ugarte’s. p. organizes. Early experience in MMO games and social software development indicate that this is not only possible.” BoingBoing. and other vehicles for collaboration. A platform is merely a collection of services and capabilities that are common to a wide variety of activities aggregated in a way that makes them exceedingly easy to access. The benefit of this approach is that it becomes easier for end users of this platform to build solutions because they don’t need to re-create the wheel in order to build a new service. he developed this theme. 2010 <>. and prosperity that isn’t offered by the nation-state anymore. A Darknet is the system that runs an autonomous social network (a tribe. It is composed of a software layer and hardware infrastructure that connects. wikis. and it is easier for participants to coordinate and interconnect their activities. capital aggregating services like Kickstarter.186CHAPTER 4. like CAD software for creating open-source industrial designs that can be shared between widely separated designers and micromanufacturers around the world. It is also constructed in a way that makes it opaque to outside observation and impervious to non-members or intrusion. “Robb Interview: Open Source Warfare and Resilience. which can serve as a vehicle for communication between local communities around the world. and automates the functions of the synthetic social system it is built for. 16 Chris Arkenberg.). Some details: • Software can be built that automates the rules by which any social and economic system operate. In a couple of blog posts in December 2009-January 2010.

runs both in parallel and in conjunction with the global economy (the environment). and the consequent need for networked organization as a base of support. It is competitive with other entities that operate within the global environment. Robb put increasing stress on the inadequacy of isolated efforts at building Resilient Communities. rather than as supplicants.18 Which social. decentralized. Here’s an option: DIY your solution.7. leave it and roll another one.4. Attract members to your new tribe. If it becomes unfair. JOHN ROBB: ECONOMIES AS A SOCIAL SOFTWARE SERVICE 187 • This system. 2009 <http://globalguerrillas. 2010 < 12/a-darknet. nobody is going to help us build them. often). 19 Robb. economics.” Global Guerrillas. political and economic system can BOTH protect you from the excesses of an uncontrollable/turbulent global system AND advance your quality of life? One thing is increasingly clear: hollow nation-states aren’t the answer. fair. If you are so inclined. Organizationally. borders. and Robb expressed interest in Phyles in the second exchange. use 18 Robb. individually. Build it from the ground up to be resilient. socially. January 4. autonomous. in his books Daemon and Freedom (TM). cut the rules into software so you can be both local and global at the same time... both economic and social. "Darknet” is a term used by Daniel Suarez.. Interestingly. and spiritually.” Global Guerrillas.. December 17. the nationstate has lost control of its finances. Shortly thereafter. and willing to defend its own interests. . Resilient communities will: • Shield us from increasingly frequent shocks and breakdowns of an out of control global system. It can be parasitic or additive to the global environment (or more effectively: both).19 David de Ugarte left comments under both posts. Use this bootstrapped system to negotiate and connect with the global economic system on equal terms. Change those rules by popular consent when the environment changes (and it will.typepad. It is self-referencing.typepad. Unfortunately. from nation-states to corporations.html>. • Provide us with a path that will allow us to thrive—economically. Compete for members. Roll your own tribe or community.. The nation-state can’t and won’t.. “Central Question of 21st Century Governance. and meritocratic. “A ’Darknet’.html>. It is losing power across the board as the global system strengthens. media. de Ugarte—in “Phyles”—cited Robb’s post as a major source on phyles. • Protect us from predatory and parasitical non-state actors—from globe spanning banks/corporations to local/transnational militias/gangs.

into a process that spreads virally and generates immediate improvements for its participants. the best way to build platforms in software that make the growth of tribal networks fast and easy. we can turn the transition to resilient communities from a process prone to high rates of failure. While its possible to build a virtual tribe via a completely ad hoc process. is only being done to drive forward profitability in parasitical firms or sap our resources (making us more vulnerable to predation by local threats). what can we do? Attempts to bootstrap resilient communities are definitely possible. • Rapid rates of innovation/improvement. they can evolve very quickly. Create a virtual tribe that helps communities become resilient—by financing. A vibrant future awaits.20 What emerged from Robb’s rumination on network organization. 15/john-robb-interview. moral and ideological moorings that served the nation-state well for hundreds of years have rotted away. The nationstate is now adrift. I fear these efforts will either result in a reduction in the quality of life for its participants or quickly fall prey to parasites/predators (as in. 2010 <http://boingboing. However. new forms of status. new incentive structures. The dominant solution to all of these pitfalls.188CHAPTER 4. etc. later in the year. you won’t get far if bankruptcy. all we need to do is build it. protecting. As a result. Nothing can get done at the nation-state level anymore and what does get done (as the recent health and finance legislation in the US proves). nation-state bureaucracies are becoming more insulated and focused on self-preservation by the day from the institutional level down the individual government employee contractor.). The ability to build and experiment with new rules that both fix the increasingly dire problems with the current dominant economic system while providing new capabilities and avenues for success (new currencies. “Why a Resilient Community Network?” Global Guerrillas. isolated and small. and gangs-disorder guts your community). was the concept of “complete economies and social structures delivered as software service”—or “Economies as a Software Service. and accelerating them. unable to orient its decision making cycles. Worse. January 12. some of these new structures have the potential to generate rates of improve20 Robb. and threats is to team up. the nation-state has been largely co-opted by increasingly powerful non-state entities—from parasitical banks that sit astride core functions of the global system (they profit from the ability to distort core financial and economic functions to manufacture virtual “wealth") to transnational gangs that puncture borders with drugs and other smuggled goods—and that corruption is spreading. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS of force. So. Worse. etc. privatization.” These software based economies and social structures could allow: • A plethora of new economic systems within which you can make a living (all you need to do is opt-in to the one that makes sense to you). Since the rules of these systems are software based. If we can build these software platforms.html>. . Further.

com/globalguerrillas/2010/11/completelynew-economies-as-a-software-service. I still had some trouble fully grasping the concept. • Nearly costless scalability. or something)? Robb: There’s a trick here Kevin.) only yield small amounts and continued association is very beneficial. exchange systems. Robb explained that the networked platform need not be completely deterritorialized. as opposed to geographically based systems.e.) only yield small amounts and continued association is very beneficial. If N-1 strategies (theft. . etc.html>. so long as it continues to function within the framework of a still at least somewhat viable nation-state. and pay nominal allegiance to it—won’t its ability to enforce its rules against defaulters or opportunists also be somewhat virtual? If it attempts to enforce them by endogenous means.typepad. His Resilient Communities (local communities with relocalized industry and agriculture. Later elaborating on the same concept under a slightly different name (Economies as a Service). local communication meshworks. cheating.. If N-1 strategies (theft. etc. <http://globalguerrillas. won’t the state interpret it as a challenge to its monopoly on the legitimate use of force? And might not the state refuse to enforce certain contractual agreements of membership in the virtual economy (especially if its enterprises run afoul of the more irrational and inefficiencyinducing zoning and licensing laws. which occupy a central role in his work) “will often be the local instantiation of the values/rules” 21 Robb. or its currency violates legal tender and banking laws. “Completely New Economies as a Software Service. At the time. even if the state was unwilling to enforce members’ contractual obligations to obey bylaws. JOHN ROBB: ECONOMIES AS A SOCIAL SOFTWARE SERVICE 189 ment/innovation/wealth creation at rates an order of magnitude greater than the current system.4. November resilient local power and water systems. In response to my question in the comment thread of how such networked platforms were to enforce their rules without recourse to outside enforcement mechanisms.. he explained that their opt-in basis was itself an enforcement mechanism. the sanctions used to ensure people don’t act badly are variations of expulsion. fraud. Robb explained how such networked economies could enforce their rules entirely by endogenous means. as opposed to geographically based systems. there’s no requirement for membership by accident (and no need for coercion to join).21 In an added comment under that post. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. With opt-in systems. The infrastructure of these systems scales at a nearly costless level and the platforms envisioned can support a huge amount ecosystem diversity without much strain. there’s no requirement for membership by accident (and no need for coercion to join). Carson: So long as the economy remains virtual—i.html>.” Global Guerrillas.7. cheating. With opt-in systems. etc.typepad. fraud. the sanctions used to ensure people don’t act badly are variations of expulsion.

html>. So a networked platform will confront the simultaneous problems of providing internal sanctions against fraud and misfeasance by its members. Sue could ask to see a prospective new customer’s profile on moflow. (1) how many volitional exchanges of value this stranger has completed before and (2) were some of these exchanges carried out with someone that they already know and trust? Now let’s say that Sue runs a hairdressing shop out of her house. Jake sends Sue an email that contains his public pgp key and a link to his profile on moflow. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. local city-states or enclaves may be affiliated with one another through deterritorialized. high (4 or more) free-market transactions VFC #1 and #2 may prove to be irrelevant and I am open to dropping them from the service in order to keep it simple.22 As in Stephenson’s phyles. Jake’s profile includes minimal identifying! Sue has created an ad on craig’s list to solicit new customers who desire $8 haircuts. . .” Global Guerrillas. and evading state surveillance. But recently Sue has read in the news about the crack down on ‘illegal home based black-market businesses’ such as hers. virtual networked Jake.190CHAPTER 4. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS of the Economy as a Service. who is looking for the 8$ free-market priced haircut that Sue can provide instead of the 25$ haircut that he can get in the government regulated main street market is incentivized to prove to her his good repute with other traders. One of the complications of building networked economy platforms in the period of the state’s decline is that the state will attempt. meat space interaction 3. November 11. at least sporadically and haphazardly. What do you think? 22 Robb. She has a limited clientele but she wants to expand. How does Sue continue to make an honest living in this hostile environment? How does Sue accept a stranger as a new customer with absolute confidence that this stranger is not a snitch and is not a local code enforcer? Well. . * a name or nym * his public pgp key (optional) * his value flow connections these value flow connections (vfc) are categorized into 4 types. 1. internet interaction 2. to suppress such globalguerrillas/2010/11/eaas-economy-as-aservice. low (1 to 3) free-market transactions 4. “EaaS (Economy as a Service). The Freedom Engineering blog posted a detailed article on how to police an internal marketplace while maintaining secrecy: What people want to know about a stranger before they engage in a volitional exchange of value is. Hence the value of Robb’s opt-in structure.

” Freedom Engineering. Jake in fact says “Fabulous!” Sue will ask Jake to drop by her profile on moflow. 2011 . respectively. All that Jake has to do is click on Sue’s profile and check any of 4 boxes.23 191 Robb’s schema is much like Suarez’s and Stephenson’s. and make a bond with her. Signing up for this service should be drop dead easy! Simply pick a user name and a password and then you’ll have a profile. Also at any moment a user can chose to break a value flow connection with another for instance when looking at a person’s profile is the numbers of transactions that they have conducted. Have you had internet interactions with Sue? profile or not. A graphical interface of this profile would show your node on the network connected to other nodes by different colors of beams to indicate the different bonds. Now how does the network get populated? Let’s say that Sue cuts Jake’s hair and she does a fabulous>. and Suarez credited Robb with some influence 23 “value flow connections. with the Resilient Communities building upon the common platforms offered by EaSS. December <http://freedomengineering.4. But what if after a few transactions between two individuals that a problem arises? This is where the arbitration service providers come in. 1. Users will be able to create a real world identity profile or one for a pseudonym. Have you conducted 4 or more free-market transactions with Sue? And that is all the feedback that one needs to do! We could create a database that keeps comments – or measures of trust – or opinions (sometimes not objective ones) on specific attributes – but we want to keep this simple. this site will not provide arbitration services – it will just link to them – perhaps an affiliation program with an arbitration service will provide some revenue. Users can chose to link social networking profiles to their moflow. Users of this service would be able to see if they are connected to a stranger by others in the network – so if Sue and Jake have no connection yet – but they have both done trades with Billy and they both trust Billy – then they may just decide to make a connection and engage in a mutual exchange of value with eachother. Have you had real life interactions with Sue? 3. Considering that Daniel Suarez’s Daemon and Freedom(TM) were published in 2009 and 2010. 15. Have you conducted 1 to 3 free-market transactions with Sue? 4. Users can chose to link a pgp key to their account or not. Although the beta version of this website will show a simple table showing this information. JOHN ROBB: ECONOMIES AS A SOCIAL SOFTWARE SERVICE The most valuable data on ebay. In the graphical user interface this may look like a red X across the bond.

8 MiiU and Openworld To promote real-world development of his ideas on Resilient Communities and Economies as a Software Service.24 4. ..miiu. 2011 <http://www.” MiiU.miiu. which both part of the MiiU Wiki community and a standalone outside venture under the leadership of Mark Frazier. Robb notes that “the lag between discovery and deployment is dropping over>. new digital systems that make the transition to local production within networked resilient communities easier and faster since they can help generate the wealth required to do it without starving/freezing and the vision of the future that motivates people to persist despite setbacks. One of the more important projects on the MiiU Wiki.Org.25 Its purpose is to provide a central clearinghouse and repository of information for projects engaged in building resilient communities.” MiiU. it’s not hard to imagine that a new economic system (better design).org/wiki/Openworld_Game>.." Now that nearly everyone has a computer (either on a desk or in a smart phone).27 24 John Robb. trading. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS on his ideas. December 22. is Openworld. Robb is optimistic about the rate of adoption of networked platforms in the transition period. and applications that represent major innovations can roll out to globally significant levels in months. it seems likely there was also some cross-pollination between the two of them.openworld. decentralized financial wire service. 2011 <http://globalguerrillas. resilient farms. Based on a survey of the rates of adoption of new technologies over the past century. “The Digital Roll-Out of Resilient Communities..Given how fast things move now. <http://www. or P2P manufacturing system could sweep the world in>. 27 “Openworld Game. There’s almost no lag between development and deployment. the rate of adoption for new tech has dropped from years to quarters. [and] the rate of adoption has accelerated over time.Org.html 25 <http://www.” Global Guerrillas. Accessed October 22.26 The Openworld Game uses game architecture with built-in design and collaboration tools as a platform for creating and sharing “visual designs for residential developments. retirement communities—and asset-awakening enterprise zones” for real-world neighborhoods and communities. 2011 <http://www. health centers. 26 “Openworld>. apparently a direct outgrowth of Robb’s EaSS. Robb created the MiiU project.miiu. In short. It also provides for the design of institutional mechanisms for transparency and accountability. and sharing wealth. like open-source eGovernment platforms. Accessed October 22.192CHAPTER 4.typepad. . The Openworld content on the MiiU Wiki is the creation of the Openworld Team. centered on the MiiU Wiki. drawing in tens of millions of people into a ways of creating. although I’m unable to discern the direction of it.

2011. 33 Kropotkin.-adv. p. and marketed their> Accessed December 14.30 The guilds. 183-184. there are additional social benefits that keep the participants in a seasonal. 31 Kropotkin.10 Vinay Gupta: Government in a Box Meshkit Bonfire The concept of the Meshkit Bonfire project. 192-193. Mutual Aid. its website says.” a fact which helped account for the high status and historically high standard of living of manual labor at the apex of the High Middle Ages. to a neighborhood.) for aiding in the organic growth and sustainability of proximity-based wireless mesh networks.33 28 “Meshwork 29 Kropotkin. trust and interdependence while extending the community’s need for a mesh beyond the decentralized value.M. pp.9 4. likewise. Mutual Aid. paying the compensation for members convicted of a crime to prevent the financial ruin of them and their families.4. 172-173.A. Mutual Aid. For example: while a community garden may provide extrinsic benefits such as inexpensive food. bought raw materials in bulk for their members. social gaming/networking mechanics and a p2p exchange economy to create a community of reciprocity.11 Medieval Guilds as Predecessors of the Phyle Among the services which the guilds performed for their members—who named each other as “brothers and sisters” under the terms of their charters—were relief of the destitute.T. assuming responsibility for the quality of goods marketed and seeking to prevent the sale of adulterated or defective goods for the sake of the membership’s reputations. 191.29 The town communes frequently acted as bulk buyers of commodities like grain and salt.jrbaldwin.N.28 4. etc. OLSR. while providing localized community services to engage users not inherently interested in decentralized networking to ensure quality of service and livelihood of the mesh. Meshkit proposes a HTML5/Javascript universal application built on top of open source mesh protocols (B. and arbitration of disputes between practitioners of a craft.9.A. VINAY GUPTA: GOVERNMENT IN A BOX 193 4. . SMesh. 185. pp.32 “The craft guild was then a common seller of its produce and a common buyer of the raw materials. 30 Kropotkin. Mutual Aid. is “Focusing on the social layer in wireless mesh communities”: Augmenting and interconnecting localized communities in the real world through mesh networking. 32 Kropotkin. Babel. using their bargaining power to negotiate prices near cost from the foreign merchants and then distribute them among the households. Bonfire” <http://www. perpetual cycle of participation.31 They acted as quality certifying bodies on behalf of the members. pp. Mutual Aid. p.

“going on strike".” The Brotherhood of Firemen originated in 1873 when eleven men met 34 Hoyt Wheeler. The handful of conductors of the Illinois Central who formed a union later known as the Order of Railway Conductors in 1868 proclaimed as their object “material aid. And when friendly societies offered relief to unemployed members.34 The line between labor unions and such in the nineteenth century. where the article is hosted. is so blurry as to be almost nonexistent... . Thompson and Pyotr Kropotkin. The industry was so injury-prone that the early rail unions were much less concerned with collective bargaining than with insurance against mishap.” Hoyt Wheeler described it as “a step back toward a preindustrial concept of unions as fraternal and benefit organizations..[I]t makes much more historical sense to see the core of Labour History as a range of benefit societies. Strike pay was just another benefit covered by contributions. and to see what are called “trade unions” as just one culturally-determined response within a group and along a time-line. called “post-mortem security” their main problem... and their widows.194CHAPTER 4. the text is based on James’ notes for a lecture given in several different venues. and members of the so-called “precariat..htm>... 77. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS 4. . and heirs. What we now call “trade unions” were and are benefit societies. The Future of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge University Press. and the kinds of friendly societies and mutuals described by writers like E. <http://www. The twelve locomotive engineers who met secretly in Detroit in 1863 to form the Brotherhood of the Footboard (later changed to the Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers). argues Bob James. labor unions often started out as benevolent associations providing for the wives and children of deceased or incapacitated members. the practical difference from a strike fund could be rather hard to discern. just like the Grand United Oddfellow and Freemason Lodges... of the early railroad unions. advocates and historians have advocated a return to the guild model of the labor union in situations where membership through a workplace-based local is impractical: freelance workers.. 35 Bob James. professionals and tradesmen in occupations with project. “The Tragedy of Labour History in Australia.12 Modern Networked Labor Organizations and Guilds as Examples of Phyles A number of labor organizers.takver.P. 2002). This was true. children. developed naturally out of the lodge habit of insuring against all sorts of other future dangers. The very distinction between the trade unions and other friendly or benefit societies is an artificial one. which was hostile to mutuals in many countries for just this reason. to disabled members. in particular.or task-based employment rather than jobs with a single employer..35 In the United States. from a fund attained upon the assessment plan.. It certainly was from the standpoint of the state. Concern about working conditions and the strategy of withdrawing labour..” According to Takver’s Radical Tradition: An Australian History Page..

html> 37 Sam 36 Lens.. p. long before the labor movement was corrupted by “business” unionism. organized by Working Partnerships USA and the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System. 39 “WPUSA launches Healthy Workers medical plan” (March 5.. before the rise of the welfare bureaucracy. credit associations. long before the government monopolized social services wasting untold billions on a top-heavy bureaucratic parasitical apparatus. Long and Tibor R.iww. and many other essential services were provided by the people themselves. from the standpoint of worker independence and bargaining strength.. .: Ashgate Publishing Limited. housing. The mutualaid functions of the unions expanded to keep abreast of the growing needs of the members. Vt. summer camps for children and adults.37 Charles Johnson stresses the importance. A good example is the Healthy Workers medical plan. health and cultural centers. They created a network of cooperative institutions of all kinds: schools.” in Roderick T.” in The American Labor Movement: A New Beginning. Some writers on labor issues have argued that unions should shift their focus to attracting memberships on an individual basis. Originally published in 1980 in Resurgence <http://www. “Liberty. Solidarity: Toward a Dialectical Anarchism. UK. of such self-organized mutual aid: It’s likely also that networks of voluntary aid organizations would be strategically important to individual flourishing in a free society.. 2010). in which there would be no expropriative welfare bureaucracy for people living with poverty or precarity to fall back on. Machan. may be essential for a flourishing free society. All About-Us/recentwinarchive. “Revolutionary Tendencies in American Labor--Part 1.. And this early movement did not confine itself solely to immediate economic issues.39 The Labor Wars.. homes for the aged. technical education..4. et cetera.36 More generally. Equality. without depending on either bosses or bureaucrats. Projects reviving the bottom-up. they would do so by offering insurance and other services. Dolgoff. Recent Win Archive <http://www. and One possibility is the resurrection of the guild as a basis for organizing mutual aid. Quoted from textfile provided by author. which provides health insurance with no deductible at half the price of competing commercial plans.shtml>. solidaritarian spirit of the independent unions and mutual aid societies that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. MODERN NETWORKED LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND GUILDS AS EXAMPLES OF PHYLES195 to take a collection for an associate killed in a boiler explosion on the Erie the day before. insurance plans. whether it be in bargaining units with no certified union or among the unemployed. Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? (Hampshire. Sam Dolgoff observed: The labor movement grew naturally into a vast interwoven network of local communities throughout the country. 2008).wpusa. 38 Charles Johnson. exercising a growing influence in their respective areas.12. 45. and one of the primary means by which workers could take control of their own lives. eds.

in exploring the implications of a free-agency economy of independent contractors.. They trained apprentices and helped them find work. Existing organizations already perform some of these functions today. for emergencies and for scholarships for children of dead or sick workers. In return. A guild would also have the means and the motivation to help its members gain new skills to remain economically productive as times change. UK. provided an information service for potential entrants to the profession. a term that conjures up images of the craft associations of the Middle Ages.. But unlike Peters. provided through a distant. in which members pay a fraction of their income to a guild in good times in return for a guaranteed minimum income in bad times. who set up social protection funds. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS Somewhat more outside the mainstream is Guy Standing’s example of sex workers in Vancouver. they provided an income for members’ families. other guild members would have an incentive—and often the opportunity—to help fellow members find work. p.: Edward Elgar. a new set of organizations might emerge to provide stable “homes” for mobile workers and to look after their needs as they move from job to job and project to project.40 Thomas Malone discusses such possibilities at considerable length in The Future of Work. the unemployment benefits provided by a guild could go well beyond temporary cash payments. fraternities. and developed courses to teach ’life skills’. Work After Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship (Cheltenham. and professional development programs. These organizations might be called societies.. . he acknowledges the real problems faced by workers in such an economy: the lack of job security and job-based benefits chief among them.196CHAPTER 4.. But the word I like best is guilds.. Malone can come across as a bit glib in celebrating the new era of freedom. impersonal bureaucracy. Like many popularizing writers on networked enterprise in the new economy (Tom Peters most notorious among them). or clubs.. members get full health benefits (even in years when they have no work). Growing out of tradesmen’s fraternities and mutual assistance clubs. generous pensions. For instance. As much as 30 percent of the base pay of Screen Actors Guild members goes to the guild’s benefits fund. 2009). they developed a group medical plan. Unlike conventional unemployment insurance.. drew up occupational safety guidelines. Finally. They offered loans and schooling. associations. And if misfortune struck. 315. Companies have also traditionally helped their employees learn 40 Guy Standing.. the members would likely exert social pressure on unemployed colleagues who they felt weren’t really trying to find work. And his proposals are intriguing: Rather than relying on employers and governments to provide the benefits traditionally associated with a job. BC.. Take the Screen Actors Guild. medieval guilds served a number of functions. Mass. Imagine an extended version of this arrangement. Northampton.

labor unions. payroll software. MODERN NETWORKED LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND GUILDS AS EXAMPLES OF PHYLES197 skills and. P. Malone. These kinds of services could also be provided by guilds. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. 44 Ibid.” Nonunion contractor associations have tried to overcome the prisoner’s dilemma problem caused by training costs in a fluid labor market.41 Malone sees the modern-day guilds arising from professional societies. pp. and in some other fields as well. Thompson. are finding that they have no good alternative source of labor. The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization. 42 Ibid. 2004). Unions have also had similar functions for years. but couldn’t get enough contractors to participate. Your Management Style. “having weakened the unions. Union training.4. Hoyt Wheeler writes: A further advantage of the craft form of organization is its ability to provide a stream of trained. and cooperative purchasing and marketing. There are venerable precedents for this. onetime Administrative Assistant to the President of UBCJ. crowdsourced finance. pp.42 Although the educational and certifying functions of craft unions or guilds are a service to the members from one perspective. A good solution to this dilemma is a union of workers who train one another and spread the costs of training across the industry. temp agencies. . p. offering such services as insurance. In the building trades. for instance. creating common training funds. According to E. among other existing organizations. Luddy said. individual employers have no incentive to train workers who may soon move on to work for someone else. legal services. for 41 Thomas W. recognizes this rationale.. have professional societies that establish and monitor the credentials of practitioners and provide continuing educational opportunities. The Future of the American Labor Movement.43 Bill Luddy. argued that the construction industry was suffering from a critical shortage of skilled trades workers.and risk-pooling functions that Malone proposes for guilds are likely to take on growing importance in a time of increasing unemployment and underemployment. and alumni associations. pp. Yet the interests of individual employers militate against this coming about. helping craft workers progress from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman.. The long-term interests of employers as a group require a trained workforce. networked unions might serve as platforms for member enterprises. by assigning job titles and other kinds of credentials. competent workers to employers. and Your Life (Boston: Harvard Business School Press.44 The kinds of income. signify to the world the capabilities of their workers. 50. Lawyers and doctors.. 87-88.. 80-81. 43 Wheeler. In addition. 84-87.12. The contractors. and is utilizing it in an attempt to encourage employers to move away from their traditional aversion to the union. they are also of interest to employers in ways that dovetail with our discussion later on of the hiring hall or temp agency model of unionism. was the only practical solution.

.50 The first major wave of worker cooperatives in the United States. Cole writes: As the Trade Unions grew after 1825.. D. aiming at co-operative production of goods and looking to the Stores to provide them with a market. p. 46 G. .. H.. pp.49 The Co-operative Congress. Owenism began to appeal to them. 48 Ibid. organized in 1832-33 in Birmingham and London. The most significant feature of the years we are discussing was the rapid rise of this.” Exchange was based on labor time.. Most of these Societies were based directly upon or at least very closely connected with the Unions of their trades. Groups of workers belonging to a particular craft began to set up Co-operative Societies of a different type—societies of producers which offered their products for sale through the Co-operative Stores. 50 Thompson. included a long list of trades among its participants (the b’s alone had eleven).. p. using labor-notes as a medium of exchange... a number of instances of pre-Owenite trade unions when on strike. p.198CHAPTER 4. These naturally arose first in trades requiring comparatively little capital or plant. 1948).D. 791. “Owen’s Labour Notes for a time not only passed current among members of the movement. and especially to the skilled handicraftsmen. was a venue for the direct exchange of products between craftsmen.47 Cooperative producers’ need for an outlet led to Labour Exchanges. They appealed especially to craftsmen whose independence was being threatened by the rise of factory production or sub-contracting through capitalist middlemen. or who saw a way of escape from the exactions of the middlemen. Making of the English Working Class. the London Society opened an Exchange Bazaar for exchange of products between cooperative societies and individuals."45 And G.. 45 Thompson."46 ."48 The principle of labor-based exchange was employed on a large-scale. In 1830. where workmen and cooperatives could directly exchange their product so as “to dispense altogether with either capitalist employers or capitalist merchants. but were widely accepted by private shopkeepers in payment for goods.. 790.. 76. 78. Individual Craftsmen. 47 Ibid. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS example... . p. 49 Ibid. The National Equitable Labour Exchange...H.. 76. “there are. p.which took up production as a part of their Union activity—especially for giving employment to their members who were out of work or involved in trade disputes. type of Co-operative Society and the direct entry of the Trades Unions into Co-operative production. who were Socialists. A Short History of the British Working Class Movement (1789-1947) (London: George Allen & Unwin. employing their own members and marketing the product.[This pattern of organization was characterized by] societies of producers. also brought their products to the stores to sell. Cole. according to John Curl. was under the auspices of the National Trades’ Union in the Making of the English Working Class. held at Liverpool in 1832. 78-79.

55 The Knights of Labor. 54 Ibid. a wheat head reaper. the first striking wage-workers in American history. and Communalism in America (Oakland. 33. started with “little capital and obsolescent machinery. (How’s that for a parallel to modern P2P ideas?) Its first attempt. For example. 35. The same was done by shoemakers in Baltimore. resulting from the high capitalization requirements for production. From the beginning. but to the potential for small-scale production today.. Journeyman carpenters striking for a ten-hour day in Philadelphia. p. set up their own cooperative shop. CA: PM Press. after the rise of the factory system. Subjected to economic warfare by organized capital. the majority of the population was relegated to wage labor with machinery owned by someone else. worker cooperatives were a frequent resort of striking workers. sold at half the price of comparable models and drove down prices on farm machinery in Nebraska. By the 1840s.51 Like the Owenite trade union cooperatives in Britain. In 1768 twenty striking journeyman tailors in New York. of L.. p. 34. when manufacturers refused to sell farm machinery to the Grangers at wholesale prices. 1794. The economy today is experiencing a revolution as profound 51 John Curl. cooperatives were on shaky ground in the best of times. 1806. but most Grange manufacturing enterprises failed to raise the large sums of capital needed. in 1761. 77. 2009). they disbanded the cooperative when they went back to work. .. failed on account of the capital outlays required.. and Philadelphia..56 The defeat of the Knights of Labor cooperatives. The National Grange planned a complete line of farm machinery. 4 52 Ibid. the rise of factory production with expensive machinery had largely put an end to this possibility. is a useful contrast not only to the artisan production of earlier worker co-ops. 107. Many of them were founded during strikes. they were mostly undertaken in craft employments for which the basic tools of the trade were relatively inexpensive. the network of cooperatives disintegrated during the post-Haymarket repression. the Nebraska Grange undertook its own design and manufacturing of machinery. undertook a large-scale effort at organizing worker cooperatives. 55 Ibid. Cooperative Movements. The K. pp. and the organization of cooperatives moved from being purely a strike tactic to providing an alternative to wage labor. p. p. in the 1880s.” and lacked the capital to invest in modern machinery.53 It was feasible because most forms of production were done by groups of artisan laborers using hand tools. For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation. Their fate is an illustration of the central role of capital outlay requirements in determining the feasibility of self-employment and cooperative employment.52 This was a common pattern in early labor history. As the prerequisites of production became increasingly unaffordable. MODERN NETWORKED LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND GUILDS AS EXAMPLES OF PHYLES199 1830s. 56 Ibid. p. 47.12. 53 Ibid.4.54 Most attempts at worker-organized manufacturing. formed a cooperative (with the ten-hour day they sought) and undercut their master’s price by 25%.

BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS as the corporate transformation of the late 19th century. Since its founding in 1987. is sweeping society on the same scale as did the corporate revolution of 150 years ago. most of the physical capital required for production was owned by the work force. Etc. etc. 4.200CHAPTER 4. And the monopolies on which corporate rule depends. In the artisan manufactories that prevailed into the early 19th century. artisan laborers could walk out and essentially take the firm with them in all but name. These terrorist social networks thrive in the vacuum created by a failed state. consequently. are becoming less and less enforceable. The worker cooperatives organized in the era of artisan labor paralleled. Networked organization. Likewise. Hamas runs the following services (a more detailed outline of the Hamas structure is available here): 1) An extensive education network 2) Distribution of food to the poor 3) Youth camps and sports 4) Ederly care . futile rearguard action.” leaving their former employers as little more than hollow shells. are recreating the same conditions that made artisan cooperatives feasible in the days before the factory system. the forms of work organization that are arising today. in many ways is the Palestinian state). desktop publishing. music. This time around the original shift which brought about large-scale factory production and the wage system—the shift from individually affordable artisan tools to expensive machinery that only the rich could afford to buy and hire others to work—is being reversed. Another revolution. the collapse of capital outlay requirements for production in the cultural and information fields (software. general-purpose artisan tools. based on P2P and micromanufacturing. but in the opposite direction. But the large corporations today are in the same position that the Grange and Knights of Labor were in the Great Upheaval back then: fighting a desperate. today. crowdsourced credit and the implosion of capital outlays required for physical production. Hamas has proven to be a well run counterweight to Yassar Arafat’s corrupt Palestinian National Authority (which. workers are able to walk out with their human capital and form “breakaway firms. We are experiencing a shift from expensive specialized machinery back to inexpensive. [Robb on virtual states like Hamas outcompeting hollowed-out conventional states in providing services to subject populations] Many terrorist networks have developed complex and sophisticated systems that provide important social services to their supporters. like so-called “intellectual property” law. A good example of this is Hamas (who may be serving as a model for al-Sadr in Iraq).) has created a situation in which human capital is the source of most book value for many firms. in many ways.13 Virtual States as Phyles: Hamas. and doomed to be swept under by the tidal wave of history. taken together.

The fighting was over in six hours. This leads me to think that there is a generalized ("business") model that can be derived for fully developed terrorist organizations operating in failed states. . May’s dispute between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah is an interesting example of the contest between hollow states and virtual states over legitimacy and sovereignty. As a challenger to the nationstate system. VIRTUAL STATES AS PHYLES: HAMAS. which provides secure/robust communications and surveillance (via automated cameras) to the group. no doubt applied this “generalized business model” to the purely civilian realm. In The rise of terrorist social services indicates that the loose networks that power terrorist military organizations can also replicate the social responsibilities of nation-states. Hezbollah responded by defining the network as a core part of its organization and that they were willing to defend it with violence if necessary. What’s more interesting than the actual fighting is what the conflict was about. According to Robb. ETC. in developing his ideas of Economies as a Software Service. the government made an attempt to slow the expansion Hezbollah’s fiber optics network.57 201 Robb. It also implies we may see interesting virtual variants of this via the parasitic piggybacking of open source insurgencies (the 57 John Robb.4. 2) A plentiful supply of recruits for its terrorist mission. this capability speaks volumes. 3) Sources of external funding through charity organizations that support their social mission (much of which can be redirected to the terrorist mission) and funding through a small number of profitable businesses. These include: 1) Popular support that shelters the organization. So. a parallel communications/surveillance network is a core feature set of virtual states. That was one of the actual issues behind the Israeli invasion in 2008. we can now conclude that in addition to a 4GW militia and social services. “THE TERRORIST SOCIAL NETWORK. This tracks with our emerging experience in Sadr City.html>. Hamas built a fiber optic backbone to serve the areas under its control in Lebanon. the government tried to shut down surveillance nodes of the network overlooking Beirut International Airport. Hezbollah’s organic legitimacy trumped the state’s in the contest (an interesting contrast between voluntary affiliation and default affiliation by geography).13. As in most conflicts between gutted nation-states and aggressive virtual states. April 7. Specifically.typepad.” Global Guerrillas. 5) Funding of scholarships and business development 6) Religious services 7) Public safety 8) Health care This network of social services provides Hamas with multiple benefits. 2004 <http://globalguerrillas.

typepad. how they want to participate) and can connect with everyone or a group of people. material productivity. etc. It is ever changing and people participate there where they want and can do their best. • Dynamic .com/globalguerrillas/2008/05/hollow-states-l. developer documentation and other tools? – Is the Roadmap publicly available? – Is the decision-making transparent? Is the whole process described publicly and are the meeting minutes open to everyone? • How do we implement Open Collaborative Development? 58 John Robb. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS PCC.” Global Guerrillas.html>. As we grow we will describe how exactly we govern this open and live process. “HOLLOW STATES: LEBANON. 2008 . dynamic. and just governance systems . Everyone shares valuable information to the others. what they do. for all people.14 A Proposed Phyle Organization for OSE Europe [Background on OSE/Factor e Farm] Nikolay Georgiev of OSE-E drafted a summary of the project’s Open Governance model at the OSE wiki: Here we describe the Governance of OSE Europe. where everybody’s needs are met. al Qaeda. We will answer the questions: • How do we implement Open Access? – Is the source code available to all developers.such that human creativity is unleashed.202CHAPTER 4. • Self-organizing . and where everybody has access to information.everyone is free to join and leave. OSE Europe is an open.OSE Europe is not a fixed group of people. bug-tracking.everyone share about themselves (who they are. at the same time? – What open source licenses we use? – How do we support the developers? Do they have open access to the mailing list. self-organizing group of people implementing the OSE Europe Mission: The creation of an open society. • Open . <http://globalguerrillas. what they want to do.) on cell phone networks and the Internet. May 17.58 4.



– Are the requirements and the process to become a contributor transparent? – Is the contributions and acceptance process transparent? – Is it transparent who made the contribution? – Is it transparent who are the contributors to a project? • Derivatives – Is there any control how derivatives can be used, shared etc? • More ...

On the P2P Research email list, Michel Bauwens of the Foundation for Peerto-Peer Alternatives quoted a private email from Georgiev in which he sought advice on the open governance model:
OSE Europe is growing! What we are doing is something very similar and very different than Factor E Farm. We want to create an open, dynamic, self-organizing network of people, communities, organizations, and open enterprises working towards an open society. Last week we saved Solar Fire, the solar concentrator, which Marcin couldn’t open source [a] few months ago, and showed that We Together can achieve more than one leader.

Bauwens, in response, outlined a model of open organization that sounded very much like de Ugarte’s phyle model:
1) the community is the core and allowed [sic] permissionless contributions ; selection for excellence is done by accepted maintainers who have gained the confidence of the community and of each other 2) OSE-E is the formal entity responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of cooperation, but is not in command and control of the production process; it should be democratically managed 3) Use the peer production license to allow free usage by other commons-friendly market entities, but make other for-profits pay (define set of minimum conditions) 4) try to create your own cooperative entity for such activities, and create some kind of alliance of entities using the commons, which integrates various stakeholders 5) develop an ethical funding strategy, based on crowdfunding; look into the open hardware central bank, Goteo60
59 “OSE Europe/Open Governance,” Open Source Ecology wiki < Open_Governance>. Accessed November 6, 2011. 60 Michel Bauwens, “Re: [P2P-F] OSE Europe—Open Process,” November 5, 2011 <>.

204CHAPTER 4. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS In January 2012 Nikolai Georgiev announced plans to recruit staff for an OSE demo site in Germany.
We start with the technology needed for the creation of a small scale civilization with modern comforts – the Global Village Construction Set and other relevant tools. From tractors, wind turbines to cars. Every technology will be developed with values like modularity, simplicity, lifetime design, low-cost, closed loop manufacturing, Do-ItYourself, flexible fabrication and high performance. We want to open source the whole lifecycle of each technology – from its parts sourcing, fabrication, use, maintain and repair to its reuse and recycle. We will open source also our ecological food production, housing, workshop constructions and business models – our complete economy. All this economically signicant information will be saved digitally on the Internet as text, manufacturing files, pictures and videos so that we distribute it not only to our current generation, but to all other future generations on Earth – who can use it and build upon it! We are looking for the pioneers to join us in this endeavor! Our first main goal is to establish the initial Development Team dedicated to create the community in 2012. The Development Team is open to everyone who works on the creation of the community and has a specific group of people, the Core Team, who will start up and develop the community no matter where or how. We would need help with all areas of community creation and development: organization, communication, land search, ecological housing and workshop architecture and construction, fabrication, engineering, mechatronics, permaculture and organic farming, business, law, social, financial etc. We have laid out an initial Roadmap. In January we will connect with a lot of people and learn about each other and the possibilities to start the community. Visits are planned in Frankfurt and Berlin. The Roadmap will be expanded and become more concrete as we grow.61


P2P Foundation Phyle

At one point Michel Bauwens, Director of the Foundation for P2P Alternatives, announced plans to create a phyle based on the P2P Foundation.
we officially created our coop, as a phyle through our constitution and principles but legally as a dutch legal cooperative, mid-year 2011; franco can provide you with text links if you want we have signed our first big commercial contract and gone through initial teething problems of getting real contractual cooperation off the ground with people who are not physically co-located, we will be able to make a first assessment mid 2012 however, keep in mind it’s a very small outfit of 3-4 people62
61 Nikolai Georgiev, “Creating OSE Community in Germany,” OSE Europe, January 2, 2012 < 01/ creating-ose-community-in-germany/>. 62 Michel Bauwens, “Re: [P2P-F] How do I get support to start a new Phyle / Cooperative?” P2P Foundation mailing list, December 20, 2011.



Grow Venture: The Networked Platform as Incubator for Enterprises

The Grow Venture Community is a global distributed network for organizing crowdfunding of startups, as an alternative to banks and venture capitalists. The people creating the companies of the future will be the 99%, not the rich.
There is a significant body of evidence that shows us that participatory, open, socially orientated connected platforms—can be built cheaply, operate differently to conventional models of organisation—which can outperform these large siloed incumbents.... GrowVC believes an important part of that mission is to make the platform and ecosystem open to all parties to develop services and businesses on top of the technical and legal framework which has been created. GrowVC’s vision is that they want to see 3rd parties able to run successful business by utilizing the GrowVC platform and tools. To date the Grow Venture Community and micro funding network has grown to over 11,000 entrepreneurs, investors and experts from 200 different countries. Its platforms exist in Chinese, German and Portuguese. Funds of up to $2/3m have been raised. Grow is running a partner programme in 70 US American campuses which I suggest we will see evolve rapidly over time.63


Venessa Miemis: Collaboratory

Venessa Miemis of Emergent by Design blog has set up a Collaboratory project that seems to fall within the general category of phyles.
The Collaboratory is essentially an engine of co-creation combined with a Commons. You bring in your community of practice, set up shop in your own ‘global space’ area, and set permissions for what is visible, shareable, or private. The metaphor we’ve been using to conceptualize it is Storefront / Cafe / Backroom. Storefront: This is like the Macy’s window from the street. It’s your showcase of the “best of” what’s inside. Public-facing view of your projects and ventures. Cafe: This is your shop. Just like stores have rules to enter (“no shirt, no shoes, no service), there are permissions to be granted to enter the shop. (ie – referral via trust network, sign NDA, whatever terms you set. it’s your space.) Backroom: This is the creator’s workshop. Deepest level of access permissions. Maybe it’s just your core team and your workflow management. Maybe it’s where you invite potential collaborators or investors
63 “The NEXT Silicon Valley is not a place it’s a platform,” NSL Blog, December 17, 2011 <>.

to check out your big picture vision. It might be a bit chaotic, but it’s where the magic happens. ***intentcast: participants who want to play. we have 25 so far. ***intentcast: someone who can install SQL and Confluence when we go self-hosted ***intentcast: WikiGardeners & Curators for the GetShiftDoneipedia ***intentcast: Sherpas and Guides to be welcoming party give orientation for n00bs in the Collaboratory. Also looking for co-creators for white papers & research about organizational transition that we can offer to companies to help them ride the edge. We have one community member, Bernd Nurnberger, who is currently paying monthly for our hosted license for 25 user accounts. If we each just pitch in $5/month, the cost is distributed, and we essentially “co-own” our collaboration infrastructure. with scale, the price drops. ***intentcast: free Atlassian license. Much of what we’re doing qualifies as an open source project Another thing we’re experimenting with is dynamic team formation and developing methods to evaluate and strengthen human infrastructure. This emerged from my thoughts about a strengths-based society.64 To that end, we’ve created a partnership with The Gabriel Institute65 and they are providing us with role-based assessments, which provide measures of Coherent Human Infrastructure66 indicators. Learn more about the roles in an innovation team.67 Taking the assessment and sharing your role is a prerequisite to participating in the Collaboratory. If you’d like to join the ‘tory, you can request access here :)6869

The Hub.

Assorted Hub Networks


The Value of the Phyle as Opposed to Other Models of Cooperation

Venessa Miemis, a scholar who specializes in questions of networked collaboration, in early 2010 experienced a personal epiphany (in her words a “snowcrash”)
64 <>. 65 <>. 66 <>. 67 <>. 68 <>. 69 Venessa Miemis, “Intentcasting an Epic Vison: How to Bootstrap Creative Economy 3.0,” emergent by design, January 16, 2012 <>.

4.19. THE VALUE OF THE PHYLE AS OPPOSED TO OTHER MODELS OF COOPERATION207 on the significance of networks as the wave of the future.
All this time, I was thinking way too big, trying to understand how to change the world. I kept asking myself, “but how do we leverage networks?” We don’t. We ARE the network. Networks self-organize. We only have to leverage ourselves, and the infrastructure gets built. Each one of us has to create our own ecosystem of relationships that will be beneficial to us personally. We’ll all have some relationships that overlap, but none of us will have the exact same set. The point is that we want to build trust so that when we need help we know who we can access to help us. Now imagine, if you’re a entrepreneur, or an organization, or a non-profit, or a corporation, and you understand this message and spread it to each and every one of your employees. What happens when your entire organization of people, as a unit, is a network in itself, but each person also has their personal networks of relationships to draw on, which extend beyond the organization? You then have an INCREDIBLE competitive advantage. (Yeah, there can still be ‘competition’ in a collaborative society, it’s just different, because it’s based on trust.) Your organization becomes agile. It becomes a learning network, where every person has access to information that can be shared, interpreted, and implemented. You’ll be able to identify weak signals faster, come up with solutions faster, and adapt to change faster. The world will keep moving. It’s accelerating at an accelerating rate. The ONLY WAY to deal with it is not to cling to the old hierarchies and silos and pride and egos. We have to understand that we can only deal with this as a fully connected system. And the really crazy part is: we already have everything we need to make this happen. It’s already in place. All that needs to change is the mindset. Let me repeat: All that needs to change is the mindset. So how are we going to fix everything? I have absolutely no idea. That’s kind of the point. None of us do, individually, or even as groups. The system needs to be interwoven first, and then we’ll collectively know how to figure it out. We’ll be flexible, adaptive, and intelligent, because we’ll be able to quickly and freely allocate resources where they’re needed in order to make change. The first step is to build our networks. This all hit me like a bolt of lightening, a pattern that emerged out of all the complex information. It’s an option that seems not only possible, but preferable, and comes with a plan that’s implementable immediately. I thought that made this an idea worth spreading.70
70 Venessa Miemis, “An Idea Worth Spreading: The Future is Networks,” emergent by design, March 16, 2010 <

208CHAPTER 4. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: NETWORKED ECONOMIES AND PLATFORMS Two years later, she complained of the slow pace at which networks were actually taking off. The transaction costs entailed in setting up stable trust networks are a lot higher than those for establishing connections.
Fast forward 18 months or so, and I find myself embedded within overlapping networks of networks. . . . and yet I still don’t see the magic happening that had appeared so clearly in my mind. What’s the deal? I chuckle now looking back at my own starry-eyed naivete, as if it were enough to just be connected. I’m reminded of something Stowe Boyd said when I interviewed him for the Future of Facebook Project: There’s no natural reason that we’re all gonna come together and sing kumbaya just because we’re using the same social tools. So, yeah. It’s not the technology, it’s about us. We’ve been through the binding phase over the past few years, which was all about getting linked. We delighted in relatively low risk interaction and sharing, finding our tribes, forming communities of mutual interest and learning. And it’s been wonderful. The connection phase was great. It has transformed me. But now we’re moving into the collaboration phase, and there are some different requirements. The next few years are going to be defined by a culture of learning and interactivity that involves more trust, and so naturally, more risk. If we’re going to go beyond just sharing links with each other to actually *helping* each other, working together, experimenting, prototyping, and adapting to changing circumstances, *we* have to first change in order to make that possible.... Each of us is a free agent, delicately riding the edge of chaos and uncertainty as we try to pave our own path. Each of us likes the sound of a peer-to-peer culture, a transition from scarcity to abundance, a move from a transactional economy to a relational economy (ht jerry michalski), and a redefinition of value and wealth. Each of us sees the promise of a new way of working, living, and Being. And yet there is still fear. Are you gonna steal my idea? Are you gonna follow through with your commitments? Are you gonna take the credit? Am I gonna get screwed — yet again? My question to you is: How do we transcend this, surrender, and take the next leap of faith?... For me, it all comes down to trust. Not just blind trust in everyone else, but trust in myself and a commitment to move past fear and into action. Lead by example and see who wants to come with me. Become aware of who I’m connected to and choosing carefully with whom I want to build things. Take small risks together so we can gain momentum. Start having some Collective Epic Wins. It’s not a process I think can be done “safely.” Meaning, you can’t really half-ass it with one foot outside the door. Like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I’ve been doing it. It’s scary. I’ve been let down and disappointed several times. I know I’ve let down and disappointed others as well. But I’m learning, I’m growing and unfolding as a human being, and I’m building a depth in my relationships that is simply not possible when in a fear-based mentality. Without going too “woo” on you, I can say that there is a heart-opening that happens, a vulnerability that paradoxically unlocks tremendous power, and an energetic field that expands, calibrates, amplifies, and makes seemingly impossible things manifest.71

Stowe Boyd, in response, suggested that establishing that level of trust was too high a hurdle without some intermediate steps. Instead of trying to establish stable, ongoing collaborative networks, he argued, we should be engaging in ad hoc, project-based cooperation:
I think Venessa is trying to do something that’s very hard: she’s trying to get a group to form a collective, with a shared set of principles and shared goals. And she’s right. To get there you have to build deep trust: a polite way to say that the folks in the collective have to sort out the politics involved. In general that can take months, even when the participants share a great deal in common in education, background, and temperament. But why form a collective? As she points out, it’s risky. If you want to build things, you can define a small project to test some ideas, and form a Hollywood-style project team to accomplish it. Instead of trying to collaborate on a big, wholly integrated vision of the future — where everything has to be discussed and agreed on before the first thing gets done — just cooperate on something fast, small, and low risk. The way of the future is cooperation, not collaboration. Among other reasons cooperation merely requires swift trust, a well-researched human universal. People are capable in some circumstances of relaxing their general desire to establish deep trust — that time-consuming, political practice —and will simply adopt a role in a project, and suspend their disbelief about other’s motives, etc. This is a way to get folks to suspend their innate concerns about trust and control. In these contexts, people start with the presumption that the others in the project are professionals and that everyone will focus on doing their jobs as best as the can. A lot of communication is needed to keep it all working, but much less than in deep trust organizations, like the conventional enterprise. This is how freelancers generally work, and it’s the way that cities work. But Venessa and her friends are involved in forming a collective, and there is no short cut for them. They will need to build deep trust, and establish processes and practices, and politics to manage them. My recommendation to Venessa was and still is to take the short cut, though. Define some constrained projects, with more modest
71 Venessa Miemis, “How Will We Collaborate If We Can’t Trust Each Other?” emergent by design, January 8, 2012 <>.

goals and defined time frames, and work on them with a few others. It might lead to deep trust, but even if it doesn’t you can still be working, making headway, and maybe some money, too. Me, I’m trying to work on a few interesting projects with some smart people, but I am not pushing them into one group and trying to create a way that all of us can be involved in everything. I’m going to work with Teresa DiCairano of Intervista on ‘ambient innovation’, which is our term for social, bottom-up innovation. I’m going to work with Claude Théoret of Nexalogy exploring the science underlying social networks, and trying to make that more accessible to the average person. And I am going to push ahead with my analysis in work media — the use of streaming social media tools in the enterprise — and I will be pulling a few others into that project with me, too. But these will be three discrete projects, with non-overlapping groups of participants. I am not making everything, everything. I am trying to remain liquid, loosely connected to others, heading the same general direction. I am specifically not trying to solidify relationships — build deep trust — before getting something done with others. So, my general recommendation is that people should favor loose connectives — social networks with less tight ties — that rely only on swift trust. If and when you establish deep trust with individuals, perhaps during short-term, swift trust-based projects, then perhaps your can form a collective, where the principles shared common, longterm purpose. But such collectives are not a higher form of human solidarity that we should aspire to, and are not what we have to build in order to get big things done. On the contrary. An increasing proportion of professional work is being performed by freelancers, who live in a short-term project based economy. Why should I have to agree on a long term strategic vision about the future of work media just to work with other researchers on the state of that industry, for example? Or to take the example of the city, all the stores on Main Street do not have to agree to not compete with each other, or to pool their profits, or even to paint their storefronts the same color. The costs of deep trust are too high, in general, for what they return. This is one reason that work is changing so quickly. Companies are loosening their hold on employees, providing them more autonomy, relaxing the requirements for deep trust: becoming more like cities and less like traditional armies, with everyone is made to march in step, and pointed in the same direction, all the time.72

The problem with the kind of ad hoc, project-based, one-off free agent relationships Boyd described is that they leave the individual isolated without a safety net, and thus leave the project-based model of p2p collaboration open to cooptation (as free agents become a precariat) by capitalist business firms. Miemis argued, in response to her perception that Boyd “misinterpreted [networks based on deep trust] as attempting to form some kind of unified hive72 Stowe Boyd, “Getting to Trust: Better Swift Than Deep,” Stowe Boyd, January 9, 2012 < post/15566266958/getting-to-trust-better-swift-than-deep>.

4.19. THE VALUE OF THE PHYLE AS OPPOSED TO OTHER MODELS OF COOPERATION211 mind,” that they were not a “cult,” “sacrifice of self-interest,” or “borg.” Rather, they served the purposes of genuine self-interest, constituting (in the words of Brian Eno) a “scenius”:
Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius. Individuals immersed in a productive scenes will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenes, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you. The geography of a scenes is nurtured by several factors: * Mutual appreciation — Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. Scenius can be thought of as the best of peer pressure. * Rapid exchange of tools and techniques — As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a common language and sensibility. * Network effects of success — When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. This empowers the scene to further success. (Collective Epic Wins!) * Local tolerance for the novelties — The local “outside” does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone.

The purpose of deep trust networks is
To provide creative entrepreneurs and business owners the tools and ongoing support to bootstrap their ventures from inception to maturity, so they can have a continuous positive impact on systems and culture.73

It strikes me that the phyle is a middle case between these two extremes. It overcomes the transaction costs of achieving deep trust by providing a basic infrastructure of transparency and reputational tracking—not to mention adjudication mechanisms—to recreate the functional equivalent of “deep trust” where it has not been developed by purely interpersonal relations. And having done so, it creates a larger framework—a platform—within which ongoing collaborative relationships can take place. At the same time, it provides the risk and cost pooling mechanisms that prevent an unprotected society of atomized free agents from being reduced to a precariat. Whether p2p is coopted into a corporate capitalist framework or becomes a separate model of self-organized production in its own right, depends on who has the most leverage from owning the means of production and being able to walk away from the bargaining table. Ongoing relationships facilitated by common platforms reduce precarity and individual vulnerability, and potentially gives p2p communities the leverage to pull down the pillars of the capitalist temple. [Last modified February 23, 2012]
73 Venessa Miemis, “Core Principles for the New Economy: Human Agency & Enlightened Self-Interest,” emergent by design, January 10, 2012 <>.


.. 2 Joseph 1 Lietaer. 717. on the other hand. p.. History of Economic Analysis. 112. which Schumpeter dismissed as entirely fallacious. Edited from manuscript by Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter (New York: Oxford University Press.Chapter 5 Basic Infrastructures: Money 5.. 3 Ibid. aptly summarized by Joseph Schumpeter’s contrast between the “money theory of credit” and the “credit theory of money. treats finances “as a clearing system that cancels claims and debts and carries forward the difference.”3 Thomas Hodgskin.” The former.”1 One barrier to local barter currencies and crowdsourced mutual credit is a misunderstanding of the nature of money. barter networks and mutual credit-clearing systems are a solution to a basic problem: “a world in which there is a lot of work to be done. The distinction is a very old one.1 What Money’s For and What It Isn’t Local currencies. criticizing the Ricardian “wage fund” theory from a perspective something like Schumpeter’s credit theory of money.’ than to say that they lend the deposits that have been entrusted to them.” and instead made the advancement of subsistence funds from existing production a function that workers could just as easily perform for one another through mutual credit. assumes that banks “lend” money (in the sense of giving up use of it) which has been “withdrawn from previous uses by an entirely imaginary act of saving and then lent out by its owners. Its function is not to store accumulated value from past production. It is much more realistic to say that the banks ’create credit. 1954). money is not primarily a store of value. but there is simply no money around to bring the people and the work together. utterly demolished any moral basis for the creative role of the capitalist in creating a wage fund through “abstention. 213 .. For the alternative economy. but to provide liquidity to facilitate the exchange of present and future services between producers.. had the avenues of doing so not been p. p. 1114. but a unit of account for facilitating exchange. [full cite] Schumpeter.”2 The credit theory of money.

. pays all wages. the real maker of any commodity. drink and clothing are concerned. derives this assurance from a knowledge he has that the person who set him to work will pay him.. not capital. and labour. and at all times. while the journeymen bakers buy porter with their money wages. which is afterwards paid to the owner of the brew-house... The labourer.When a capitalist therefore. it is quite plain. while the work is in progress. and he can labour in this manner. Has the person who employs and pays him such a stock? Clearly not.. he picks up what nature spontaneously offers. as he must do. Much of it is not calculated for consumption. A great cotton manufacturer. Kelley.. but every species of labourer does constantly. depend for his supplies on the coexisting labour of some other labourers. and he resolves to make it.. or are other labourers busily employed in preparing food and clothing while his labourers are making cotton yarn? Do all the capitalists of Europe possess at this moment one week’s food and clothing for all the labourers they employ?. 4 Thomas Hodgskin. pp. and that with the money he will be able to buy what he requires.. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY The only advantage of circulating capital is that by it the labourer is enabled. Being assured of immediate subsistence. After a time he discovers that a bow or a sling will enable him to kill wild animals at a distance. He has time to learn an art. and they buy bread. is the best method of labouring.. and with reference to the wants of society. 1969 [1825]). or that the bread made by the journeyman baker pays for the porter made by the journeyman brewer? But the same is the case with all other commodities. CHAPTER 5. he being assured of his present subsistence.. In fact it is a miserable delusion to call capital something saved. pays the actual brewers with the coin he has received for his beer. for in fact no such stock exists. and no knowledge but that which would be necessary for the supply of our immediate animal wants. with his peculiar knowledge and acquirements. to direct his power to the greatest advantage.. is it not plain that the real wages of both these parties consist of the produce of the other...As far as food. 36-40. employs a thousand persons. . He saves nothing.214 preempted. then. for the instrument never was made to be consumed.. and never is made to be enjoyed. he can ascertain which. whom he pays weekly: does he possess the food and clothing ready prepared which these persons purchase and consume daily? Does he even know whether the food and clothing they receive are prepared and created? In fact.. an invention. Unless there were this assurance there could be no continuous thought. subsisting himself. are the food and clothing which his labourers will consume prepared beforehand. When a savage wants food. He is not in possession of any stock of commodities. . and his labour is rendered more productive when directed by skill.. Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital (New York: Augustus M.. that no species of labourer depends on any previously prepared stock.4 . who owns a brew-house and all the instruments and materials requisite for making porter.

p. Labour Defended. and thus appropriates the productivity gains from the social division of labor. 1966 [1827]). for the most part. resulted rather from the present division of labor and the cooperative distribution of its product.1. can only be done by more labour. through mutual credit. the capitalist monopolizes these cooperative functions. Under the present system. The savings. but are manufactured in the same period in which they are employed. The same basic cooperative functions could be carried out just as easily by the workers themselves. which may be called for present purposes “money capital. expanding in bulk as he has been nourished by their increasingly productive labours. To store up or save commodities.” and attributed to past abstention and accumulation. to provide subsistence for the makers of instruments and machines. In short. except that the different labours are performed by different persons—one making the bow. “Capital” is a term for a right of property in organizing and disposing of this present labor. the material instruments. to repeat. p. are not saved in a former period. While he despoils both. are consumed by the labourer. and another killing the animal or tilling the ground. This proof. and appropriates to himself the produce of both. about a century ago. of the capitalist. and in general their utility is lessened by being kept. proved beyond doubt that almost all the “capital goods” required in production are created in the same period. like the fabrication of his canoe. With as niggard a hand as possible he transfers to each a part of the produce of the other. is achieved by a chain of equivocations. This example represents what occurs at every stage of society. it has been asserted. would 5 Hodgskin. 71.6 Franz Oppenheimer made a similar argument against the wage-fund doctrine in “A Post Mortem on Cambridge Economics": THE JUSTIFICATION OF PROFIT. Even Robinson Crusoe needed but one single set of simple tools to begin works which. rests on the claim that the entire stock of instruments of production must be “saved” during one period by private individuals in order to serve during a later period. as they are called. in steps the capitalist. so completely does he exclude one from the view of the other that both believe they are indebted him for subsistence. except for short periods. 247.5. .5 215 What political economy conventionally referred to as the “labor fund. who neither makes nor uses them.” But this capital is not necessary for developed production. 6 Hodgskin. and in some particular cases. betwixt him who makes instruments and him who uses them. Rodbertus. and separating them so widely from each other that neither can see whence that supply is drawn which each receives through the capitalist. and there is no such thing as an actual hoarding up of commodities. Betwixt him who produces food and him who produces clothing. WHAT MONEY’S FOR AND WHAT IT ISN’T though in its own nature it is more durable than deer’s flesh. What is saved is capital in the other sense. or the plough. Popular Political Economy: Four Lectures Delivered at the London Mechanics’ Institution (New York: Augustus M. keeping to himself the large share. Gradually and successively has he insinuated himself betwixt them. Kelley.

Chapter Four < California: The Heather Foundation.8 Money is simply an accounting system for tracking the balance between buyers and sellers over time. Edited by Spencer Heath MacCallum (San Pedro. Any buyer who is also a seller is qualified to be a money issuer. but certainly it is never needed to the full amount the work will cost. it turns the irregular inflow of capital goods into a regular outflow. no. even paying something themselves for the accommodation for security’s sake. 10 Riegel.html>. “A Post Mortem on Cambridge Economics (Part Three). 122-123. 1976). “E. Money can be issued only in the act of buying. <”12 Or as Riegel’s 7 Franz Oppenheimer. 9 Ibid.newapproachtofreedom. money capital must be saved. since money springs only from a debit balance on the books of the authorizing bank or central bookkeeper. merely the rôle of the air chamber in the fire He even conceives of a development in which savers would be glad to tend their savings to reliable persons without demanding interest. The New Approach to Freedom: together with Essays on the Separation of Money and State.7 E. because it is not and should not be a seller.newapproachtofreedom. He has made the mistake of leaving that to government monopoly. To issue as has been aptly pointed out. Currency is issued by the buyer by the very act of buying.html>. a side-effect of her normal economic activities. it comes into existence as a debit.11 Money is “simply number accountancy among private traders. under capitalist conditions.newapproachtofreedom. The whole point of money is to create purchasing power where it did not exist before: “.html>. 3. Usually. occasionally. C.newapproachtofreedom. Introduction <http://www. and can be backed only in the act of selling. it is true. Chapter Seven <http://www.9 And because money is issued by the buyer. . On the other hand. but it is not absolutely necessary for developed technique.newapproachtofreedom. and has no intrinsic value. as Marshall correctly states. Riegel on Money” (January 2008) <http://www. 11 Riegel. vol. The initial money capital of a private entrepreneur plays. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY occupy him for several months. Riegel argues that issuing money is a function of the individual within the market.216 CHAPTER 5. and it’s backed by the goods and services of the seller. that a certain personally-owned money capital is needed for undertakings in “The Money Pact.[N]eed of money is a condition precedent to the issue thereof. It can be supplanted by co-operation and credit. Riegel.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. pp.. C.pdf>. [115-124] 8 E. just as Crusoe was able to discard an outworn tool. MacCallum. Government. in Ibid.. one must be without it. A modern producer provides himself with capital goods which other producers manufacture simultaneously. 12 Spencer H.html>. Private Enterprise Money: A Non-Political Money System (1944). why has there ever been a scarcity of it? The answer is that the producer of wealth has not been also the producer of money. is not qualified to be a money issuer. 1 (1944). C. by making a new one while he was building the boat.”10 IF MONEY is but an accounting instrument between buyers and sellers.

The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (White River Junction. 14 Greco. Money and Debt: A Solution to the Global Crisis (1990). Greco argues. rather than cashing in official state currency for alternative currency notes (as is the case in too many local currency systems). as Greco says. and then earning credits to offset the debits by selling their own services within the system.13 In fact. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. When you sell. It’s essentially what a checking account There’s no reason businesses cannot maintain a mutual credit-clearing system between themselves. p. so long as negative balances are limited to some reasonable amount. and put fairly low limits on the negative balances that can be run. WHAT MONEY’S FOR AND WHAT IT ISN’T 217 disciple Thomas Greco argues. The currency functions as a sort of IOU by which a participant monetizes the value of his future production. unless they pay a high price for it. Standard Unit of Account <http://circ2. It is possible that some account balances may always be negative. the system should ideally move toward a state of affairs where accounts are never settled. everyone is both a buyer and a seller.home. As such a system starts out. The businesses agree to accept each other’s IOUs in return for their own goods and services. except a conventional bank does not automatically provide overdraft protection for those running negative balances. An account balance increases when a sale is made and decreases when a purchase is made. 2009). They are means of payment denominated in value units. your account balance increases.. p. “barter” systems are more accurately conceived as “credit clearing” systems.14 It’s simply an accounting system for keeping track of each member’s balance: Your purchases have been indirectly paid for with your sales. pp. and positive balances cashed out. Just as banks use your income as a measure of your ability to repay a loan. What is a reasonable basis for deciding that limit?. it is reasonable to set maximum debit balances based on the 13 Thomas Greco. Part III: Segregated Monetary Functions and an Objective. the services or labor you provided to your employer.. as a confidence building measure.. 106-107 . every month or so. In a mutual credit clearing system.1.PDF>. it decreases. participating businesses spend the money into existence by incurring debits for the purchase of goods within the system. without the intermediary of a bank or any other third party currency or accounting institution. 15 Ibid. In actuality.5. That is not a problem so long as the account is actively trading and the negative balance does not exceed some appropriate limit. But as confidence increases. when you buy. Global. since some of the participants run negative balances for a time. and periodically use the clearing process to settle their accounts. Negative balances might be paid up. currencies are not “value units” (in the sense of being stores of value). members are likely to resort to fairly frequent settlements of account. 102.16 And again. the system offers what amounts to interest-free overdraft protection. 16 Ibid. 82.

. “Sorry. even when there’s “no money. Karl Hess and David Morris cite Alan Watts’ illustration of the absurdity of saying it’s impossible for willing producers. 116. and even more so in the structural decline of the money and wage economy that is coming. We even got tape measures. faced with willing consumers. baby. unemployment and breadlines. a so-called financial slump. We been using too many inches. and raw materials—were in no way depleted. pp. 18 Karl 17 Ibid. No inches.” “Whaddya mean. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY amount of revenue flowing through an account. Complex reasons for this kind of disaster can be elaborated at lengths by experts in banking and high finance who cannot see the forest for the trees. That means it must have a large variety of participating goods and services. [One possible rule of thumb is] that a negative account balance should not exceed an amount equivalent to three months’ average sales. 20 Ibid. the scale of adoption will follow as a matter of course..”20 The widespread proliferation of local currencies in the Depression suggests that when this condition holds. 158. to produce for exchange because “there’s not enough money going around”: Remember the Great Depression of the Thirties? One day there was a flourishing consumer economy. 19 Greco. Neighborhood Power: The New Localism (Boston: Beacon Press. it must offer a valued alternative to those who lack sources of money in the conventional economy. on the morning of the Depression. and the next: poverty. p. . Hess and David Morris.218 CHAPTER 5. The End of Money.” Based on case studies in the WIR system and the Argentine social money movement. p. with everyone on the up-andup. 1975). long-term period of stagnation in the conventional economy. “complementary currencies will take hold most easily when they are introduced into markets that are starved for exchange media.. 154-155. it seems likely that local currency systems will play a growing role in the average person’s strategy for economic survival. no inches? We got wood. We got metal. 134.”18 The point of the mutual credit clearing system. Greco says. And as we enter a new. but we can’t build today. What happened? The physical resources of the country—the brain. participating businesses must find it a valuable source of business that would not otherwise exist in the conventional economy. p.. is that two people who have goods and services to offer—but no money—are able to use their goods and services to buy other goods and services. and unemployed and underemployed members must find it a valuable alternative for turning their skills into purchasing power they would not otherwise have. But it was just as if someone had come to work on building a house and.. as Greco describes it.” “Yeah. but you don’t understand business.”19 So we can expect alternative currency systems to come into play precisely at those times when people feel the lack of “inches. brawn. that boss had to say. and there’s just no more to go around. So we can expect LETS or credit clearing systems to increase in significance in periods of economic downturn.17 For a credit clearing system to thrive. but there was a sudden absence of money.

lending and interest are meaningless in the CES. Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS). The CES takes this a step further by providing the means for inter-community trading. ‘Money’ in these systems is a retrospective ‘score-keeping’ that keeps a record of who did what for whom and who sold what to whom. commonly known as Community Exchange Ripple. For this reason the concepts of borrowing.ces.. and Cyclos. as information does not have to be created and limited by a third party (banks or government) in order to give it value. Argentina.2.22 The Community Exchange System (CES) is a community-based exchange system that provides the means for its users to exchange their goods and services. There can never be a shortage of information as there can be of money. Information can replace currencies and at the same time eliminate most of the problems associated with regular money. [The Depression.2 The Adoption of Networked Money Systems Alternative money systems tend to be adopted in situations in which the existing currency system is wanting. The idea that such a currency is required before any trading can take place is an ancient one and increasingly irrelevant in this day and age of computers and the Internet. Mutual Credit trading systems or Time Banks. Unlike the conventional money-based exchange system. How does it work? 21 <http://www.. There are a number of competing digital complementary currency>. 22 “Compare with CES and Community <http://communityforge. There are many similar trading systems around the world. Apart from using information instead of currencies to effect exchange. Greece] 5. these exchange systems are community-focussed [sic] in order to build community and keep wealth where it is created. right up to the global level. and none is required to start trading. It could also be described as a global complementary trading network that operates without money as it is commonly understood. Tools” Accessed November>. Community Tools. Community Forge. both locally and remotely. 2011 . THE ADOPTION OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS 219 5. As the ’currency’ in the above types of exchange systems is information it does not have to be ‘created’ like conventional money so there is no need for an issuing authority or for a supply of it. CES21 was developed in 2002 and has three hundred participating communities. most of them providing networked currency platforms on something resembling Greco’s principles: among them Community Exchange Systems.5.3 Examples of Networked Money Systems. the CES has no physical currency.

ces. CES money “is abundant and can never be in short supply”.org. hence “It bridges the ’money gap’ between the skills/offers/talents/gifts of sellers on the one hand and the wants/needs/requirements of buyers on the other.23 As with Greco’s system. Conventional money usually can’t bridge this gap because its supply is limited or non-existent. 24 “Advantages of the CES” Accessed <http://www. Sales are recorded as credits for sellers and as debits for buyers. November 15. 2011 . Traders receive a regular statement of account that lists their trades and gives their balance at the end of the period. Newsletters assist in building links and enhancing the sense of community. as well as a list of their ‘wants’ or requirements. Complementary exchange systems are as versatile as conventional ones. or the information is entered directly by the seller. There is no bargaining in the CES as the recipient is in no way obligated to the provider. you ’pay’ for what you have received by delivering/selling something to another trader in the community at a later time. 2011 <http://www.ces.htm>. Information about the trading position of others prevents unscrupulous buyers from exploiting the system. the open-source content management Is this a form of Barter? No! Barter almost always involves bargaining between two individuals to establish the relative worth of the goods or services they wish to exchange. One’s account simply tracks the net balance of exchanges to date.”24 Drupal. The central book-keeping system records the relative trading positions of the can serve as the architecture for a wide range of alternative currency The slip is either handed by the seller to a group administrator who will enter the amount into the computerised system.220 CHAPTER 5. When a user requires something advertised in the directory the seller is contacted and the trade takes place. Those in credit can claim from the community goods and services to the value of their credit and those in debit owe the community goods and services to the value of their debit.htm>. there is no need to accumulate a store of value from past exchange before one can participate in the system. The buyer ’pays’ the seller by signing a trading sheet provided by the seller or by handing over a cheque-like trading slip that records how much the buyer is agreeing to be debited by the seller for the goods/service delivered. • Community Accounting • Complementary Currencies • Virtual Currencies • Community Exchange • Time Banking 23 “What is the CES?” Accessed November 15. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY CES exchanges compile and distribute a directory of goods and services offered by the users registered with them.

“Community Accounting. 25 matslats. it will seek to devolve power and skills while providing more and better tools to more local communities seeking to strengthen and build resilience. This is not a shop. With a membership base.25 To take one example.5. It can be used as a digital back-end for paper money projects. • Community Currencies • Credit Unions An all-embracing and flexible package which includes a mutual credit ledger. Drupal. Autopayments can be done with a little glue code. though it will meet more business-like objectives in time. including several views and blocks. super-configurable transaction forms and displays. or an ecommerce system. CommunityForge aims to deliver its web solution as many LETS communities with transaction-enabled social networking web sites. barter Community currency projects should find that this module works almost out of the box. Timebank. you should think carefully about whether you have the resources to nurture a new economy. With a little tweaking. or several in parallel. 2009 . September 7. Starting with a LETS architecture coded into the Drupal platform. it can manage currencies conforming to a wide range of>. Features 221 • Multiple currencies • 1stparty. or to run an entire LETS. Community Forge is a local currency system based on the Drupal architecture. 3rdparty & mass payments • Pending transactions (parties must ’sign’) • email notification • customisable transaction forms • pluggable global/personal min/max balance limits • Complete views integration • visualisation & stats • API for other modules to create exchanges • Time Banks. but if you have no resources to commit to properly customising such a web site. but a mutual credit system which tracks credit extended between users. a cart. there is an experimental ubercart payment method. LETS. <http://drupal. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS.3. for example.

to enable communities to use mutual credit currencies as part of a larger localisation movement 2. 2011 <http://communityforge. CF is of special value because it’s designed to be scalable and modular: Our software. and to trade in them using open source software. is the only community currency trading software built on a social networking platform. 26 “Our Story. in the form of bank account balances. Money as we know it is made from promises. Even if the owner trusts you. Accessed November 15. thus building a more sustainable economy for the 21st century. many others don’t. let’s look at what happens if you tried to use your own promise as money. specifically bank promises. you’re giving a merchant an IOU backed by the merchant’s faith in the bank’s ability to make it good.28 As the Ripple website points out. 2011 <http://communityforge. based on 27 “What’s so special about CommunityForge’s service?” Accessed November 15. to enable real-world and virtual communities to declare their own localised currencies. except for two things: 1. and many of them could easily modify the software. 2011 <http://communityforge. the code is very high quality and continually improving. and has some fifty communities participating. to campaign and educate for interest free money 3. as described in the Community Forge Mission Statement. As a popular open source>. The store owner may not know you are trustworthy.” CommunityForge. so she can’t use your IOU to buy things. . Suppose you went to the store and tried to pay with an IOU. That means thousands of software developers can set up similar sites. is “to Make Community Currencies Ubiquitous. 2. And we take a more holistic view in terms of building up a community of users who can support each other. Ripple’s goal is to make your promises as useful for paying people as bank promises are. This might work.222 CHAPTER 5. To start with.” 1. Its purpose. to concentrate expertise and foster experimentation in CC design26 As described by the Community Forge project.27 CF is two years old. 28 “Compare with CES and Community Tools” Accessed November 233>. Every time you write a check. a trust-based local currency performs exactly the same function your checking account>. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY By offering economic tools.

3. you might be able to get a book you want from Bob. who doesn’t know Alice at all? Your $10 IOU from Alice isn’t useful because Carol being owed money by Alice doesn’t mean anything to Carol. if your friend Alice owed you $] At the very least. if the store owner trusts your friend Alice. You could talk to Bob and arrange for him to take Alice’s IOU in exchange for giving his own IOU for $10 to Carol. This can all happen instantly over the internet. http://project. Ripple solves the first problem by finding one or more people who can exchange your IOU for one issued by someone the store owner trusts. and Alice can give her IOU to the owner. Ripple does the same thing. Instead of money. [Describe backing]. from a community currency standpoint. in exchange for something you wanted. only it takes the idea one step>. You create a profile on the system and indicate who you know and how much you trust them by connecting to people by email address and giving them credit limits.29 223 Ripplepay. Normally. That solves the second problem. 30 <http://ripplepay. also knows Carol. Alice acts as an intermediary between you and Bob. Then whenever you want to make a payment to another Ripple user using only friendly obligations. What happens if you want to get a haircut from Carol. you might be able to pass the debt on to someone else who knew and trusted Alice. the system finds a chain of intermediaries connecting you to the person you want to pay.” Ripple is a monetary system that makes simple obligations between friends as useful for making payments as regular money. and Alice trusts you.cyclos. in exchange for letting Alice know that she now owes Bob $10. Since Alice owes him exactly what he owes Carol. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. which 29 “RippleWiki/Main” Accessed November 15. Both Alice and Bob act as intermediaries between you and Carol. who also knows Alice. and the payment recipient ends up being owed by one of her neighbours. you used Alice’s IOU to pay Bob. If you were creative. And that’s how Ripple works. because Ripple can convert it into IOUs that are useful for paying other people. But suppose you had a way to find out that Bob. 2011 <>. she would have to pay you back before you could make any use of that debt. You end up owing one of your “neighbours” on the system.30 [Cyclos. and records the payment in each intermediary’s account all the way down the chain. however. it’s questionable whether Bitcoin’s technical features are preferable to the other major digital currency systems we consider in this section. Its quantity is fixed beyond a certain point. who knows Alice. The biggest shortcoming of Bitcoin. For example. . is that it serves more as a store of value than as a simple denominator of exchange. For example. The cool thing now is that the store owner can actually use Alice’s IOU to buy things. Bob is even on the deal.5. you can give your IOU to is “a part of the Ripple project to develop a peer-to-peer network protocol for making decentralized Ripple payments between users on different computers.

2011 <http://www.” Despite its technical shortcomings. it lost value over time—as an incentive to spend it rather than hoard it. Bitcoin created by far the biggest splash with its appearance in the mainstream media in 2011. . . It would be rude to not mention Napster in this context. Despite its arguable technical shortcomings.quora. I frequently cite YouTube as an example here. I started swapping files over FidoNet using a 2400-bps modem in 1989. . does it catch on. described Bitcoin as “the Napster of Banking.31 Most LETS systems have a tendency toward hoarding because the range of good and service providers participating in them means the average member can only meet an unsatisfactory portion of her total needs through the system. porn had done that for five years when YouTube came around. One general rule of technical advancement is that it’s not necessarily the most feature rich variant of a new technology that reaches the tipping point and critical mass. A new protocol called TCP/IP hit the shelves. It was not the first site to offer video over the net. And because the money is created by a third party rather than by the very act of spending it. In 1999. Text. “Scrofina’s answer to Bitcoin: If one were to make a competitor to Bitcoin. music. the gray eminence of The Pirate Bay. DC++ and other follow-suits made sure that we would share anything we wanted. It was crude. until somebody hits the magic recipe in how to make that technology easy enough to use that it catches on.. it’s deflationary.224 CHAPTER 5. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY means that individual units will appreciate in value as people come into the system. That is. its innovations in peer-to-peer architecture and its sheer impact on public awareness made it the forerunner of whatever encrypted currency system winds up taking over the ecosystem. and overcome the deflation and idle capacity of the larger economy. and has leftover notes with nothing to spend them on. and suddenly everybody was exchanging music files.e. but we were doing it. Heck. The moral panic surrounding Silk Road made it front page news for people who’d never heard of encrypted currencies. 31 Sebastiano Scrofina. boy. Big deal. Deflation makes it subject to Gresham’s law: that is. images. Napster hit. June 15. and 1995-ish we all switched to that. or an application of technology. people will hold onto it as an investment rather than keep it in circulation. From the perspective of most currency designers. it tends to be the easiest to use. And when it does. it doesn’t solve the problem of liquidity for those who lack conventional money. or even the cheapest or most available: rather. what features would be desirable?” Quora. There were at least a dozen common ways to share digitized audio and video online with one another. Rick Falkvinge. that’s a serious bug. and techies for ten years. History so far tells us that it takes about ten years from conception of a>. Silvio Gesell built demurrage into his currency system—i. it was still packet switching.

and destroying a computer with any amount of police firepower will accomplish zilch. Just as BitTorrent made the copyright industry obsolete in the blink of an eye. the use case is there—there’s certainly no shortage of annoyance with big banking. Bring Out Your Popcorn. then. something that has a very clear and attractive use case once it becomes easy enough. these stand to make banks obsolete. The technology is there. from the perspective of governments. courtesy of Napster. will this make governments dump a ton of bricks on the Internet? Up until now. but that is obscure and hasn’t caught on. 2011 <http://falkvinge. These. or their successor. The decentralized. There’s at least a dozen different variants of decentralized cryptographic currencies and transaction systems out>. If you thought the wars over knowledge and culture were intense. they stand to lose the ability to collect debts. so governments have given them some legislative breadcrumbs to shut up. it’s only been some friends complaining about a sales slump of CDs.” Falkvinge & Co. sees Bitcoin as a harbinger of future developments at a time when existing governance mechanisms—states and corporations—are crumbling from within. The governments of the world are on the brink of losing the ability to look into the economy of their citizens. I believe we’ll see much more interesting events unfold in the coming decade.32 225 Chris Pinchen. All the world’s weapons in all the world’s police hands are useless against the public’s ability to keep their cryptographic economy to themselves. look at what many techies are doing right now. likewise. It took ten years for music sharing to become easy enough to wildfire. May 11. once again. uncontrollable economy where one lifetime employment is no longer central to every human being is something I’ve called the swarm economy. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. The crypto-currency movement 32 Rick Falkvinge. When this tipping point happens. will hit a tipping point as soon as somebody makes it easy enough to use. It will be like everybody traded in cash.5. It took video sharing ten years to become easy enough to wildfire. very sophisticated and totally incomprehensible. and I predict it will redefine society to an immensely larger extent than the ability to get rap music for free. on Infopolicy. It’s just a matter of usability now. BitCoin. there won’t be any central point of control over economies.3. Here’s what’s on my radar: banking. There’s Ripple. How do you think governments across the world are going to react when they realize they’ve lost the ability to tax the public? Imagine the ramifications of that for a moment. “With the Napster of Banking Round the Corner. No application of force in the world is going to help: everything is encrypted. So if you want a crystal ball of the next battle. ecash and others. They stand to lose the ability to seize assets. Why. traditional anonymous cash. . Won’t make a scratch.

June 8. Gox.” Moral scolds like Sen. Mt. their outraged squawking about the goings-on in the Intertubes far exceeded their actual power to do anything about it. physical democratic institutions because of their inherent efficiencies. .. “Why Bitcoin is a Foundational Change That Won’t Go Away—and Could Change Everything. But as usual. As with the suppression of Napster.33 Bitcoin’s encryption. Charles Schumer went ballistic at news that Bitcoin was being used as a medium of exchange in black market venues like Silk Road for purchasing illegal drugs.” VentureBeat. Since no bank is involved. it could have the power to undermine that government’s authority far beyond regulating drugs—something China realized and outlawed in 2009. 33 Chris Pinchen.” the senators wrote. purchases don’t leave a paper trail for law enforcement agencies to track criminal activity.p2pfoundation. The only lead investigators have is tracking transaction patterns that may suggest the exchange of real money for Bitcoin. After purchasing Bitcoins through an exchange. grounded in rigid hierarchies. However. as shown by the hacking of the largest Bitcoin currency exchange. according to the report. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY is significant because it is a vanguard phenomenon. .Bitcoin is very likely the first in a series of real world experiments in new forms of trustworthy digital institutions that will challenge the sovereignty and governance power of states. “The only method of payment for these illegal purchases is an untraceable peer-to-peer currency known as Bitcoins. November 26. Bitcoin users responded with Dark Exchange. 2011 <http://venturebeat. finding black markets like Silk Road that promote the use of Bitcoin won’t be easy.S. versatility. to a new order that more resembles an ecosystem whose governance institutions are based on peer to peer social relations that co-evolve within a global socio-technological framework.34 Bitcoin is vulnerable at its real-world interface with the official currency. government is going after Bitcoin. Bitcoin uses a peer-to-peer technology to manage transactions and validate payments.. U. 2011 <http://blog. rule-sets and territorial control. 34 Tom Cheredar.” P2P Foundation. stability and safeguards against corruption. a user can create an account on Silk Road and start purchasing illegal drugs from individuals around the world and have them delivered to their homes within days. If the currency became popular enough to compete with a national currency. “Forget piracy. combined with a p2p architecture which frees it from dependence on a central server network. It is a crossover species that is pioneering a transition from the current socioeconomic order of bureaucratic>. The senators neglected to mention the much larger negative implications of Bitcoin usage in the>. These new institutions may even come to supplant traditional. makes it extremely opaque to “the authorities.226 CHAPTER 5. Unlike other currencies.

deposit some bitcoins. oppression. and start buying drugs. create an account on Silk Road.. but created and regulated by a network of other bitcoin holders’ computers. “Stop funding the state with your tax dollars and direct your productive energies into the black market.. The only money good here is Bitcoins. 227 “a distributed p2p exchange for bitcoin. Right now you can buy an 1/8th of pot on Silk Road for 7.. Silk Road and Bitcoins could herald a black market eCommerce revolution. To purchase something on Silk>. That’s probably more than you would pay on the street. or any other form of payment that can be traced or blocked. (The name “Bitcoin” is derived from the pioneering file-sharing technology Bittorrent. Many of its users come from Bitcoin’s utopian geek community and see Silk Road as more than just a place to buy drugs. But anonymity cuts both ways. Sellers feel comfortable openly trading hardcore drugs because the real identities of those involved in Silk Road transactions are utterly obscured. but most Silk Road users seem happy to pay a premium for convenience. Gox Bitcoin Exchange.". Bitcoins have been called a “crypto-currency. you need first to buy some Bitcoins using a service like Mt.” the online equivalent of a brown paper bag of cash.” Silk Road wrote to us. Silk Road doesn’t accept credit cards.5. Since it launched this February. Then. How long until a DEA agent sets up a fake Silk Road account and starts sending SWAT teams instead of LSD to the addresses she gets? As Silk Road inevitably spills out of the bitcoin bubble. Update: Jeff Garzik. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. As for transactions. If the authorities wanted to ID Silk Road’s users with computer forensics. though the exchange rate fluctuates wildly every day. . Silk Road’s administrator cites the anarcho-libertarian philosophy of Agorism. they’d have nowhere to look. one where money flows across borders as free as bits. theft and all forms of coercion. The site urges sellers to “creatively disguise” their shipments and vacuum seal any drugs that could be detected through smell. One bitcoin is worth about $8. Bitcoins are a peer-to-peer currency. Silk Road has represented the most complete implementation of the Bitcoin vision.”35 As reported by the Gawker article which Cheredar cites. not issued by banks or governments. TOR masks a user’s tracks on the site. libertarians and anarchists who dream of a distributed digital economy outside the law. law enforcement actually does have some tools despite the end-to-end encryption of the Bitcoin architecture itself. its drug-swapping utopians will meet a harsh reality no anonymizing network can blur. though the identities of all 35 <https://github. PayPal . says in an email that bitcoin is not as anonymous as the denizens of Silk Road would like to believe.63 Bitcoins. a member of the Bitcoin core development team.67. He explains that because all Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public log. “The state is the primary source of violence.) They are purportedly untraceable and have been championed by cyberpunks.3.

people want money so they can buy stuff. . “The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable. that address. An American who wants to deal primarily in Bitcoins will. "Attempting major illicit transactions with bitcoin. you can conduct transactions in cash. that can be delivered entirely over the Internet. which is inherently re36 Adrien Chen. There could even be Bitcoin “money laundering” services that accept money from you and pay you back in another account. given existing statistical analysis techniques deployed in the field by law enforcement. He could avoid working for traditional US employers and buying things from mainstream US businesses. 2011 <http://gawker. But people mostly buy products that need to be physically delivered. Remember. like pornography or consulting work. etc) that could help identify the address’s owner. people willing to go to that much trouble can obtain roughly the same degree of financial privacy using dollars. the full pattern of transactions is a matter of public record.228 CHAPTER 5. Lee explains. If any of them are within the United States. He could create a large number of decoy accounts and have different people pay different accounts. is pretty damned dumb. But the US government could easily require any business accepting Bitcoin payments (or converting Bitcoins to dollars) to collect identification information from their customers in the same way that “know your customer” regulations require financial institutions to collect information about their customers. law enforcement could use sophisticated network analysis techniques to parse the transaction flow and track down individual Bitcoin users. But it would either require a high level of technical savvy or significant lifestyle changes. And once the government has de-anonymized a significant fraction of the addresses on the network. the vulnerability of Bitcoin where its encrypted architecture intersects with the non-encrypted world: Remember.” Gawker. shipping addresses. Another approach would be to use technical means to obfuscate the flow of funds to and from his accounts. But few people have the patience or technical know-how to do this effectively.36 Timothy B. in greater detail. at some>. or received money from. Officials trying to identify a particular address will have a complete record of every address that’s ever sent money to.” he says. need to either buy food and shelter in Bitcoins or convert some of their Bitcoins to dollars. they’ll be able to infer many of the others using basic detective work. they can be compelled to disclose details (IP addresses. Now this isn’t to say that a determined individual couldn’t use Bitcoin in a way that preserves his privacy. And that means making Bitcoin payments to people in the US. But most users just don’t care about privacy enough to make those kinds of major lifestyle changes to get it. Moreover. June 1. There are a few goods and services. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY the parties are anonymous. contact email address. He could route all Bitcoin traffic through an anonymization service like Tor. Most obviously.

wordpress. “How Private Are Bitcoin Transactions?” Forbes.betabeat.3. while it’s good for black marketeers who need an anonymous medium of exchange—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!—it’s useless for the primary purpose of an alternative currency: to provide liquidity for exchange between people. whose members have been vetted for trustworthiness. the Cayman Islands. the Local Alternative Unit alternative currency (the Greek acronym is TEM) in Volos operates on principles much like 37 Timothy B. 2011 <http://www. in an economic downturn.”39 In other words. For remote transactions.” BetaBeat. people have increasingly turned to alternative currency networks as a source of liquidity for exchange between people who have nothing to exchange but their skills. people turn to alternative currencies in large numbers under precisely such conditions.” a Redditor writers. there are any number of offshore intermediaries in Switzerland. “Price of Bitcoin Still Dropping. over and above conventional currency. perhaps the best conclusion we can come up with is that an encrypted currency like Bitcoin would work best when coupled with another trust network like a phyle. So if neither party to a transaction has Bitcoins from past transactions.37 229 But Thomas Lowenthal. 39 Adrienne Jeffries. who need a way to transform their services into purchasing power in an environment where there’s “no money. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. people with skills and needs who lack money are stuck with the old “mutual coincidence of wants” system of barter.” Historically. “Love it or hate it. “Bitcoin: More Covert than it Looks. For example. The only thing Bitcoin is good for. Silkroad is the one example of Bitcoin actually being used as it was designed. or that they’ve bought with official currency. as anything that can be bought for BTC can be bought for ‘real money’ elsewhere. there is no source of liquidity for an exchange of services between them. at Active Rhetoric. Falls Below the Price of Mining. Lee. July 14. [Argentina] In Greece. July 14. sistant to government>.5.” Active Rhetoric. And all of these transactions have an important advantage over Bitcoin: they don’t produce public entries in a global distributed database. . argues that automated user interfaces in future upgrades of Bitcoin will enable average users to take the obfuscation and laundering countermeasures described by Lee without it being “that much trouble. October>.com/sites/ timothylee/2011/07/14/how-private-are-bitcoin-transactions/>. 38 Thomas Lowenthal.”38 After all this back-and-forth. The problem with Bitcoin is that it’s a store of value. 2011 <http://activerhetoric. and elsewhere that have been helping privacy-conscious Americans stay beyond the long arm of the law for decades. 2011 <http://www. But far more important than questions of security and opacity to the state is the question of Bitcoin’s functional role. is payments where confidentiality is at a premium: “At the moment there is no need to use Bitcoin. Because Bitcoin isn’t generated by the act of exchange itself.

“I instinctively reached into my pocket. a professor of political economy and vice chancellor of the University of Crete. cyclos. Members start their accounts with zero. which employs one in five workers. “Ever since the crisis there’s been a boom in such networks all over Greece.” Mr..” said George Stathakis.. CHAPTER 5. or TEM in Greek. A recent glimpse of the database revealed people offering guitar and English lessons. TEM operates on the same basic principle as most of the other alternative currency systems described in this section: The group’s concept is simple. tax increases and growing fears about whether they will continue to use the euro have looked for creative ways to cope with a radically changing economic landscape... as Greeks squeezed by large wage cuts.) The group also holds a monthly open-air market that is like a cross . part open-air market... and they accrue credit by offering goods and services. There is a system of ratings so that people can describe their experiences.. In spite of the large public sector in Greece. bookkeeping services.. Those vouchers can be used like checks. accept the alternative currency in exchange for a discount on the price in euros. Mavridis said in a recent interview at a cafe in this port city in central Greece. to exchange goods and services — language classes. They can borrow up to 300 TEMs.. I felt free for the first time. People sign up online and get access to a database that is kind of like a members-only Craigslist. discounts at hairdressers and the use of their yards for parties. computer technical support. “There are so many huge gaps that have to be filled by new kinds of networks. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY The first time he bought eggs.. from 50 to 400 members. Mavridis is a co-founder of a growing network here in Volos that uses a so-called Local Alternative Unit. computer support. Several businesspeople in Volos. part barter system. the country’s social services often are not up to the task of helping people in he added.. Theodoros Mavridis. including a veterinarian. but they are expected to repay the loan within a fixed period of time. Part alternative currency. (The network uses open-source software and is hosted on a Dutch server. home-cooked meals — and to receive discounts at some local businesses. an optician and a seamstress.” Mr. Members also receive books of vouchers of the alternative currency itself. which look like gift certificates and are printed with a special seal that makes it difficult to counterfeit. milk and jam at an outdoor market using not euros but an informal barter currency. One unit of TEM is equal in value to one euro. baby-sitting. an unemployed electrician.” he said. It is one of several such groups cropping up around the country. the Volos network has grown exponentially in the past year.230 Greco’s. in order to keep transparent quality control. but there was no need to. and it can be used to exchange good and services. “I felt liberated. was thrilled. which offers low hosting fees.

net is a tool for having tabs open with your peers.indiegogo.” she said. “The most exciting thing you feel when you start is this sense of contribution.” The Next Net. and it is not a bank.. hours of work. but if it was any noteworthy sum. we can decide to forget about it (gift economy). Houpis [Maria Houpis. Just like when you tell the waiter in a bar to put a round of drinks “on your tab".com/home] [http://socialapp. For Ms. one of the network’s founders].com/myLocalCoop] 40 Rachel . a train ticket that I bought for web app does not make actual] [http://www. October 1. You have your mind and your hands. This has to stop.nytimes. The Opentabs. and abusive banking fees play too big a role in our day-today life.”40 231 Similar networks are springing up in towns and cities all over Greece The Open Tabs system. eggs and jam. People use banking between friends. is a sort of digitized version of Greco’s credit-clearing networks. “Battered by Economic Crisis. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. Those goods came from local farmers who are also involved in the project. and settle the tab. Just like tabs in a] [Common Good Finance. With Opentabs. launched in private alpha on Guy Fawkes Day 2011. Greeks Turn to Barter Networks. and strike it off against other transactions. bitcoins. http://www..” New York Times.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1>. 2011 <http://groups. November there will be a third option: just tab it! You can tab amounts of money. and even between family members. until it cancels out against something else. then we would probably end up using the Plain Old Banking System to settle this little peer-to-peer transaction. the network has a psychological dimension.ingenesist. This way we can both forget about that train ticket you owe> 42 Melvin Carvalho. books. We then have two options: if it was a small>.mylocal.Private alpha launch is this Saturday! Imagine you owe me money from. It just helps you to cryptographically sign open tabs ("IOUs") between is a free software tool to help the 99% of us be less dependent on abusive banking fees. Mavridis used his TEM credit to buy the milk.artbrock. It is not a currency. between house mates.5.41 As described by Melvin Carvalho. Opentabs. where Mr. say. 2011 <http://www. beers. “You have much more than your bank account [http://www. 41 <http://opentabs. between a garage sale and a farmers’ market. until maybe at the end of the year we clear the balance once. http://commongoodfinance. Opentabs. as an alternative to actually executing a bank transfer. whatever you want to leave unpaid. “Open Tabs—Decentralized Money Coming This

232 CHAPTER 5. with a thousand flowers simultaneously in bloom and undergoing the natural selection process to determine which one becomes the standard encrypted currency platform. on an opt-in basis. Gogulski. if the social graph is organized along the lines of de Ugarte’s phyles or Robb’s Economy as a Software Service. The elements already exist. which are more for denominating simultaneous exchanges of services or future transactions than for storing value. into a tiered system.g. Then there will be some encrypted store of accumulated value like bitcoin for exchanging surpluses between different systems. more-anonymous-at-length manner. the nonanonymous trust webs ramify. e. As Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) Media Coordinator Tom Knapp told me. and for one-off dealings like illegal transactions in which anonymity is at a premium. etc. to make this kind of thing happen. the “loom” (for secure/redundant databasing?). out to several degrees of separation. just waiting to be put together. To the extent that this restricted use of the currency to a trust network 43 Thomas 44 Mike Knapp. LETS. along Tom Greco’s lines. 2011. There will be a variety of local credit-clearing operations. I trust you and know who you are. and give you some trust for mutual credit purposes on that basis. [Encrypted barter network as possible utility piggybacked on Freenet platform. My guess is that all the tech pieces are already there. WITHOUT knowing who you are. distributed computing. May 22. The final piece is probably to make the whole thing somewhat accessible not only by smart phone. encrypted and increasingly anonymized. private email.g.”44 In any case. It might be some kid who reads the Morung Express in Dimapur or the New Age or New Nation in Dhaka who puts it all together because you brought it up. it could include a pretty substantial number of people who are only casually acquainted if at all and who rely on their reputation within the system for their livelihood (as well as access to support platforms that are tied to membership). e. all that remains is for them to be combined in a single platform which reaches the takeoff point. someone else who trusts me can know that I trust you. by private email: What’s needed is a killer P2P mutual credit app—RipplePay. We’ve got public key encryption. private I suspect the ecology will work out. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: MONEY Right now we’re in a period of flux. in the face of trial and error. an agricultural village where only one person has a computer and Internet access via a phone tether) and need to be able to carry “physical cash” linked to the system. but loadable onto mag-strip “debit card” type devices and/or QR codes for those who don’t have nearly 100%-reliable and redundant tech access themselves (or for their area.43 https://github. C4SS Sysadmin Mike Gogulski added the caveat that “local” might be less a function of geography than of “social graph proximity. . and P2P networking tech. 2011. only with no central server and set up so that mutual trust networks can be created in an encrypted.. mag-strip/QR readers for smartphones. May 30.

2012] . or to exchanges between such trust networks with a history of dealing with each other and mutual confidence in their mechanisms for verifying member trustworthiness.3.5. 233 of members in a phyle.] [Last modified January 18. EXAMPLES OF NETWORKED MONEY SYSTEMS. it would largely overcome Adrien Chen’s caveats about Bitcoin quoted above.


at state expense. [Adam Smith on effect of education] Because corporate HR departments are provided. and then ask ourselves: how much of that function do we even want served? Despite the propaganda of the institutional schooling system’s hangers-on. as an adjunct of the rest of the institutionalized power structure of the corporate state. the primary function of institutionalized schooling has not been to serve the interests of students in pursuing their own. Trained human resources are one of the most important subsidized inputs the state supplies to big business. with an abundant supply of technically trained and credentialed cogs to fit in their machines. Friedenberg on captive clienteles—coalitions of educational and HR bureaucracies. the state has already shifted the terms of the bargaining relationship such that employers simply state their requirements and would-be employees meet them as best they can. etc. The conditions of employment and workplace culture are hardly even an issue for negotiation—or 235 .] It’s impossible to overestimate the institutional effects of “public” education in shaping human raw material to fit into corporate round holes.Chapter 6 Basic Infrastructures: Education and Credentialing 6. It has been. Lasch. encultured to show up on time and to view taking orders from an authority figure behind a desk as normal. to process human resources into the form that is most usable by corporate and state employers. [C4SS material on cultural reproduction apparatus] [Material by Goodman. Bowles and Gintis. autonomous life-choices as effectively as possible.1 Introduction: Whom Do Present-Day Schools Really Serve? Before we ask what would take the place of the existing model of institutionalized schooling. we should examine what function it really serves.. Illich. on real history of educationist ideology. Gatto.

and at the same time driven its costs through the roof. good work if you can get it. The barrier-to-entry (time lost at work. sweat and tears. something my generation will probably never be permitted to do. Have no doubt about it. Administration.. he had to pay administration the best money possible to get the best talent possible.. facilitated in part by internal educational programs. is entirely a creation of the corporate state.. The student demands arise in the context of a system in which.. a friend’s dad moved up to the higher ranks of the VA despite having no college degree. How did the UC Administration cope? They got fat raises.. In a public forum. President Hogan of the University of Illinois stated without remorse that while it was difficult to keep staff wages down. By the way. Culturally right-wing libertarians often react with visceral outrage when college students demonstrate for free higher education or student loan amnesty. Just try to get a copy of your local university’s vendor contract and watch their reaction as they attempt to keep you from what is by all measures public information.. Professional workplaces that used to hire from within have cut these education programs.. Part of the reason universities were so reluctant to enter into fair trade certified buying programs for university apparel is the reluctance to open the books to the general public. and cost for tuition) for even low-skilled. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING at least are far less of an issue than they would be if the educational system weren’t geared to processing human raw material to corporate specs. in which credentialing is necessary for decent entry-level jobs and also costs $100. These workplaces then require university credentials/degrees in order to land simple entry level jobs or move up one rung of the professional ladder. Anecdotally. In other words professional workplaces have externalized their costs onto society. The same folks who bailed them out are the same folks who are under the weight of crushing student loan debt. These same lenders were the recipients of the $7 TRILLION + no-strings-attached bailout package from the Federal Reserve at the tail end of the Bush Jr. Their desire to milk the system means more overhead for others to pay in the form of blood. low-paying jobs has increased. the state has made higher education a necessity rather than a luxury. This state of affairs. I guess that logic doesn’t carry over to support staff and professors. But their outrage is misplaced. Universities are playing this game too. the student loan venders are making bank off of this downward spiral. Administrators also give out sweetheart contracts to their universitybusiness inner circles. time spent hitting the books.. As Keith Taylor writes: A great deal of research has shown that people used to be able to move upward in corporations and government. in collusion with employers..000 or more. . President Hogan makes over $620k a year for living in central Illinois. The statewide board of trustees has drastically cut educational programs in the humanities and raised tuition.236CHAPTER 6. Have a glance at the University of California system’s administrator pay packages. Universities are paying their administrators loads of money while holding campus wages down.

Governments and businesses collude to further emphasize the necessity of a college education at these corrupted universities. December 9. It’s an example of what Ivan Illich called “radical monopoly”—the state subsidizes a certain high-overhead. instead of cutting administrative benefit packages. and you severely hit the capacity of endowments to provide a bloated return on investment. non-credentialed and non-accredited forms of instruction—is one example. anyone with a college degree should be given the opportunity to teach if they are able to find someone to hire them. You take away the student loan cash cow.. respectively. INTRODUCTION: WHOM DO PRESENT-DAY SCHOOLS REALLY SERVE? 237 One would think that with all the rhetoric used by university administrators extolling their service orientation toward the student populace that they would come out swinging on behalf of students with crippling debt. [Paul Goodman on preempting other avenues] The students may be wrong about the solution—free universal higher education. students are barred from even Chapter 13 bankruptcy regardless of what catastrophic event befalls them.. The system is riddled with all sorts of other artificial scarcities. Teacher credentialing—which makes teaching services artificially scarce and expensive. and then turns that high-cost input into a necessity for everyone by crowding out the alternatives. would just further inflate the credentialing requirements for basic employment and increase the tyranny of professionalism. . then they turn around and gut their funding. It is no 1 Keith Taylor.1 I would also point out the gross inequity in the incentives for student loan lenders and borrowers.6. The fact is that many of us who went through teacher preparation and certification programs know they were not very helpful when it comes to the realities of the classroom. Repayment of principal and interest to lenders is guaranteed by the federal government. But they’re not the spoiled ingrates those on the Right make them out to be.. More overhead for other to pay. administrators increase tuition costs and pat themselves on the backs for these new revenue sources by giving themselves even more generous compensation.1. and costly way of doing content/9115>.” Center for a Stateless Society. many of the same people who also divvy out student loans. More student loan debt. Winters went on to propose the idea of removing the barriers to becoming a teacher. Marcus Winters pointed out the absence of any correlation between teacher credentialing and effectiveness. 2011 <http://c4ss. by itself. capital-intensive. Guess who manages the endowment funds? That’s right. and questioned the need for it. “The Student Loan Debt System. That is until one realizes that universities are now heavily reliant on their endowments. suggesting that since there is no correlation between certification and teacher effectiveness. meanwhile. and crowds out self-organized. These bloated universities then externalize their costs. like the barriers—which Ivan Illich discusses—against the low-cost transfer of knowledge and skill.

If you are an expert in your field. Perhaps to demonstrate mastery students earned badges that could be earned in a number of meaningful ways. educators. .. students could meet challenges aligned to the real-world needs of their potential future careers. 2011 <http://theinnovativeeducator. programming.blogspot. and schools. scientists. Instead of grades. instead of our present unholy alliance between the bloated educational bureaucracies and bloated HR bureaucracies. Imagine a bottom-up. etc. and supporting them in acquiring apprenticeship and/or internship opportunities. we’d need to do something that Winters didn’t give much attention. art. business. Jenear article] Imagine. Students. and students and align it to evaluation metrics used in the field the student was interested in studying. For this vision to be effective. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING surprise then that such certification has little impact on student success. Such challenges might be what lands a student an internship or apprenticeship opportunity. if we consider experts who may be interested in taking up teaching upon retirement from their career. What if instead of requiring individuals to jump through certification hoops.e. could be assessed on how successfully they acquired such badges. [Track down I. Historically the majority of careers i.>. chosen by the students. an educational system that treated pupils as customers rather than a product.238CHAPTER 6. Instead. educators. they may perhaps teach a class or two each semester. and others. 2 “Could the Key to Teacher Effectiveness Mean Dropping Certification Requirements?” The Innovative Educator. but also those interested in pursuing a vocational track as they do in countries like Finland. particularly in the case of secondary studies. December 14. user-driven curriculum. did not require such certification for success. They may take on the important charge of connecting students with mentors in their field. assessment could be further tied to schools if they supported students in reaching their personal success plans that honored not only students interested in an academic track. helping them grow their personal learning networks. we filled our secondary schools with real-world photographers.N. Under such a system. depending on student learning goals. These people also might not necessarily be employed full-time at the school. writing. Additionally. journalists.. Academic inflation is only a recent phenomena. without employer access to a supply of readymade human capital produced to order. photography. the prerequisites for employment and conditions of work might actually be a contested issue. I think Winter’s idea deserves some attention. We’d need to seriously change traditional evaluation of secondary schools. entertainment casting or directing.2 Richard Mitchell certainly has plenty to say about the value of the pedagogical courses taught in education BA programs. businesswomen. and was geared to serving their perceived interests and learning needs. Especially. but I wonder why he believes that a college degree should be required. chances are you may have reached this success without such a degree..

the interaction of the training and credentialing requirements of business enterprises with the educational interests of would-be employees will be a matter for negotiation. and then figure out how to “reform” education so as better to serve the needs of the other institutions. Instead.” we are not starting from an assumption of the corporate economy and its personnel needs as a given. in the “Church of Reason” passage of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. of the educational system.’”3 Well.blogspot. on a case-by-case basis. The destruction of large-scale bureaucratic enterprises and their monopsony power in the labor market. mutuals. and informal and household enterprises. In such a society. that makes it all the more imperative that we pay attention ourselves to what we feel and think. truck farms and permaculture operations. .6. he at least gets points for honesty. But if nobody in our working environment gives a shit what we feel or think. by David Coleman—apostle of the “common core standards” cooked up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in cahoots with the Department of Education: “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think. not the customers. Unlike most analyses. describes the functioning of an education system when 3 Sam Smith. commons-based peer producers. we will assume a society which has come into being as the culmination of all the trends underway at this minute: the replacement of large. mean that bargaining power will become more equal and credentialing standards will be negotiated rather than declared by fiat.” Undernews. and the rise of networked learning alternatives. we will not hold everything steady except education. neighborhood micromanufacturing enterprises. It amounts to an explicit admission that students are the product.” and better train pupils for “success in their working lives. then explicitly defining the mission of the state school system as shaping human personalities and characters to suit the needs of employers that view them as disposable production inputs is morally equivalent to loading people on boxcars to Auschwitz. centralized. I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood. and then trying to figure out how the schools could better meet corporate employers’ needs to “be more competitive in the global corporate November 4. ALTERNATIVE MODELS 239 So unlike most analyses of the educational system and proposals for educational “reform. ’Johnson. 6.or cooperatively owned. “The war on education (and reading): David Coleman’s common core of nonsense. largely family..2.2 Alternative Models Robert Pirsig. And if—as Coleman admits—those in charge of the workplace don’t give a shit about us.” This approach is typified. 2011 <http://prorevnews..html>. hierarchical employers as the dominant economic form by small. It is rare in a working environment that someone says.. at its most extreme.

” is pulled by mules. was just going to have to creak along a little slower without him. Such a student.. with no hard feelings on anybody’s part.. and facing the continual pressure of outside obligations. résumé-padding student who was exposed for the first time to an educational system in which grades and degrees had been eliminated. He didn’t work.” Instead of wasting money and time as a high-status mule. “If you don’t whip me. would have flunked himself out. a mule mentality which said. Eventually he would see he wasn’t learning much. maybe as a mechanic. The purpose of abolishing grades and degrees is not to punish mules or to get rid of them but to provide an environment in which that mule can turn into a free man. which he supposedly was being trained to pull. Subsequent lectures which presumed he’d completed the assignment might be a little more difficult to understand. is best served not by mules but by free men. get his first assignment and probably do it out of habit. which he would find quite hard. He would get another kind of education quite as valuable as the one he’d abandoned. In time his weaker and weaker understanding of what the lectures were about would make it more and more difficult for him to pay attention in class. A large amount of money and effort had been saved and there would be no stigma of failure and ruin to haunt him the rest of his life. The Church attitude is that civilization. because his academic life was not his only life. in what used to be called the “school of hard knocks. Maybe that’s what he would do for the . Actually his real status would go up. or “the system” or “society” or whatever you want to call it. and this difficulty. feel guilty about this and stop attending class. No bridges had been burned. rather than processing human resources for institutional consumers. only if you presume that the cart of civilization. would drift around for a while. would also be dropped. This is a tragedy. vocational. Again no penalty. This is a common.240CHAPTER 6. but it’s not the Church attitude. “location” point of view. would go to his first class. Good! This is what should have happened. might weaken his interest to a point where the next assignment. “the system. I won’t work. no penalty would be attached. however.” He didn’t get whipped. He wasn’t there for a real education in the first place and had no real business there at all. And the cart of civilization. But eventually the novelty of the course would wear off and. he would now have to get a job as a low-status mule. he would stop studying. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING it becomes a tool for self-directed learning. Phaedrus speculated on the likely career of a good cramming. Again. the pressure of other obligations or desires would create circumstances where he just would not be able to get an assignment in. still a mule. Since there was no degree or grading system he would incur no penalty for this. The hypothetical student. The student’s biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and-whip grading. But what had happened? The student. He would be making a contribution for a change. however. in turn. He might go to his second and third as well.

mechanical engineering.. It would be the real thing. but with a difference. glossed over and concealed by grades and degrees that give the appearance of something happening when.4 241 Networked learning writer Will Richardson. He would need no external pushing to learn. ALTERNATIVE MODELS rest of his life. Pirsig. He’d be a free man. . Thousands of hours of frustrating mechanical problems would have made him more interested in machine design. Maybe he’d found his level. Motivation of this sort. He’d think he could do a better job. And. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (New York: William Morrow Publishing Company. in the process of intellectual maturing that these abstract studies gave him. but feel blocked because he didn’t have the theoretical information. once it catches hold. This larger goal wouldn’t be the imitation of education in Universities today. I’ll do everything I can to help you find what your passions are and pursue them in whatever ways you decide will allow you to learn as much as you can about them. meet with success. is a ferocious force. in an open letter to his kids. if the instructors assigned him were slacking on the job he would be likely to shape them up by asking rude questions. he wouldn’t stop with rote engineering information. His push would come from inside. So he would come back to our degreeless and gradeless school.html>. namely. almost nothing is going on.2. He’d be a knowledge-motivated person. in fact. In fact. Metallurgy and electrical engineering would come up for attention. But don’t count on it. day-to-day shopwork. Physics and mathematics were going to come within his sphere of interest because he’d see he needed them. and that plan may include many different activities and environments that look nothing like (and in all likeli4 Robert M.a change could easily begin to take place. perhaps. stifled by too much theory and too many grades in college. 1979). would be paying to learn something and they’d better come up with it.six months.. would now become reawakened by the boredom of the shop.6. He would discover that when before he felt stupid because of his lack of interest in theoretical information. Virtual School Distributed Learning Community <http://www. He’d no longer be a grade-motivated person. He would like to design machinery himself. He’d be there to learn something. In time. he would he likely to branch out into other theoretical areas that weren’t directly related to machines but had become a part of a newer larger goal.. degreeless institution where our student would find himself. He wouldn’t need a lot of discipline to shape him up.. Online version courtesy of Quality page. five years. he’d now find a brand of theoretical information which he’d have a lot of respect for.virtualschool. He would try modifying a few engines. His creative intelligence. I’ll help you put together your own plan to achieve expertise in that passion. look for more success. takes a similar “life as classroom” approach: I promise to support you for as long as I can in your quest to learn after high school. whatever that might look like. and in the He would become less and less satisfied with a kind of dumb.

242CHAPTER 6. classroom space—rather than being concentrated in some centrally located specimen of Stalinist architecture and serviced by a bus system—is decentralized throughout the community. you will have an array of products and experiences. as well as functional. p. which have for so long and so foolishly been kept apart. all moving you further along toward expertise. show what you know. you will probably find these people as a part of this>. the artifact which when the time comes. pp.] [Illich on learning nets. reflections and conversations that show your expertise. 6 On the Political Capacity of the Working Classes (1865). that will evolve as you evolve. Some of your plan may include classrooms. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING hood will cost much less than) a traditional college experience. Proudhon. 1969). Translated by Elizabeth Fraser (Garden City. November 7. some may include training or certification programs.) And throughout this process. It will be comprised of a body of work and a network of learners that you will continually turn to over time.Y. (Remind me at some point to tell you what a guy named George Siemens says about this. the possibilities for linking individual learners to sources of knowledge are almost infinite. professionals willing to take on the young as helpers.. merging of schooling apparatus with agro-industrial federations. You Don’t Have to Go to College. 274.) Instead of the piece of paper on the wall that says you are an expert. in Selected Writings of Proudhon.” Weblogg-ed. Edited by Stewart Edwards.” and of learning as an activity that takes place at a designated location under the supervision of such professionals. and informal networks that you will build around your interests. 18 (from A Pattern Language): Instead of the lock-step of compulsory schooling in a fixed place. etc. relied heavily on linking the public education system with the workers’ associations. make it transparent. 86-87. Labor and study.5 Once we abandon the idea of schools as institutions run by “educational professionals. (In all likelihood. But some may also include learning through online video games. 1969 [1851]). . virtual communities. I will support you in the creation of your learning portfolio.. In Claude Lewenz’s Villages. His provisions for technical training. for example.: Anchor. in fact. 1923.. work in piecemeal ways to decentralise the process of learning and enrich it through contact with many places and people all over the city: workshops. and will capture your most important learning. N. the latter serving as both centers of production and centers for education. older children teaching 5 Will Richardson. Ltd.6 lProudhonian ideas of apprenticeship. writing in the mid-19th century. “Dear Kids. you will share to prospective employers or collaborators to begin your life’s work. 2006 <http://weblogg-ed. General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century. He quotes Christopher Alexander’s Pattern No. teachers at home or walking through the city. Translated by John Beverly Robinson (New York: Haskell House Publishers. will finally emerge side-by-side in their natural state of union..] The integration of education into the community can be physical. wrote of breaking down barriers between the rest of society in ways that anticipated Ivan Illich.

POTENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS FOR AN OPEN ALTERNATIVE younger children. located in the public part of the community.typepad. to my mind seems obvious. The old educational system was a classic example of the kinds of authoritarian institutions described by Paul Goodman in People or Personnel and Ivan Illich in Tools for Conviviality: characterized by a bureaucratic. old people and so on. p. “with a shopfront and three or four rooms. “The Education Bubble.html>. at a time when information can be transported anywhere more cheaply than tap water. 119. Dig through Maria Droujkova’s sites. April 13."7 The parallel to the platforms and the local economies plugged into them. Robb.” Lewenz writes. He recommends building small schools. industrial workshops.” By decentralizing control of education to the primary community of a few thousand people.3. via streaming video?9 If there’s any justification for it. 2011 <http://globalguerrillas. it certainly doesn’t lie—as any college student can tell you—in the greater one-on-one interaction or tailoring of material to individual needs provided in the auditorium globalguerrillas/2009/01/industrial-education. enormous overhead. and markups of 300% or more over and above the costs required by the purely technical considerations involved in doing anything. How to Build a Village.html>. Venessa Miemis] The industrial model of transporting human resources to a central processing site is just plain stupid.6. cost-plus accounting. and the use of the savings to reduce student-teacher ratios down to ten or so. As John Robb has pointed out. a system of higher education that fully exploited all the possibilities of new forms of organization—networked platforms and open-source materials—could make the equivalent of a college education available for $20 a month.typepad. “Industrial Education?” Global Guerrillas. “serves as a life-long classroom. centrally located buildings and administrative salaries. . Why pay the salary of the teaching assistant who teaches a first. 9 Robb. Ryan Lanham’s material on higher ed. 8 John 7 Lewenz. 243 "The Village. from the previous section. hierarchical culture. Lewenz again quotes Alexander on the elimination of expenses from overpriced.or secondyear class in an enormous lecture hall—and the overhead costs of the physical plant and utilities that host the class—when lectures by the greatest minds in a field can be replicated at zero marginal cost for millions of students. 2009 <http://globalguerrillas. scholarly seminars. youth groups travelling. museums.” Global Guerrillas.8 6. one at a time. the Village can greatly reduce globalguerrillas/2011/04/journal-the-educationbubble. January 13.3 Potential Building Blocks for an Open Alternative [networked virtual classrooms.

So the really big idea isn’t figuring out how to USE online gamers for real world purposes. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. March 18. Online games provide an environment that connects what you do (work.) through an intuitive just-in-time training system. Instead.smashwords. effort. Economic games with transparent rules that tangibly improve the lives of all of the players in the REAL WORLD. Robb suggests the potential for gaming architectures—as we saw already in this chapter. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING And of course networked collaborative platforms—think of blogs and wikis as the grandfather and Google’s abortive Wave as the father—make it eminently feasible for students to interact with their instructors and with each other.—already are governed by what amounts to a virtual architecture piggybacked on physical reality. It’s reality. etc. as a platform for coordinating their real-world interactions in virtual space. And as Robb pointed out in the passage above. 11 Anya Kamenetz. persons and objects. and a Better World. Various free online versions of the actual text can be found at <http://www. 10 Robb.] Her how-to resource. [Sterling on educational system of Acquis attention camps on Mljet in The Caryatids] In surveying open course materials and open learning platforms. enormously promising platforms for a networked economy—as an educational tool.typepad. and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. merit) in the game to rewards (status. the basic mapping architecture of MMORPGs can be tied to real-world geography. [DIY U: Edupunks. The global electronic marketplace and the political system that currently dominates our lives is at root a game but with hidden rule sets.smashwords. you probably can’t do better than to start out with Anya Kamenetz’s work.11 It was designed to be a comprehensive guide to learning online and charting a personalized path to an affordable credential using the latest innovative tools “Online Games. it’s a game that being run for the benefit of the game designers to the detriment of the players.). The reason we keep playing is that we don’t have any choice. motivation level. turn games into economic darknets that work in parallel and better than the broken status quo systems. Let’s invent something better and compete with it.244CHAPTER 6. skill up. This isn’t tech utopian.html>. capabilities. The Edupunk’s Guide to a DIY Superempowerment. As in: economic games that connect effort with reward. In short. These games also make it simple to get better (learn. The Edupunk’s Guide to a DIY Credential (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.. problem solving.. As a result. The problem is that this is virtual fantasy. etc. Edupreneurs.. it’s about finding a way to use online games to make real life better for the gamers. much of our real lives—the way we pay our bills. Let’s provide people with a choice. 2011) <http://www. provides reference material for a would-be DIY scholar. etc. .10 As we already saw earlier in this>.com/books/view/77938>.” Global Guerrillas.

.org/about>.smashwords. POTENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS FOR AN OPEN ALTERNATIVE and organizations. It means that the resources are in your hands and you’re driving the process. open learning institutions. 15 Ibid. alternative or irregular major programs. Over the course of your learning plan. and demonstrate value to a network. in the long run. is the group of people who feed your learning>. 14 Ibid. You need people to bounce ideas off. 16 <http://edupunksguide. This guide is full of people. and reputation networks. The third. Your “Personal Learning Network”. the most important for someone engaged in self-directed learning outside the formal university system. Nearly all of them are cheaper than your average state university. This guide focuses on how education IS changing. build your personal learning network.3. “In that book I say more about why higher education needs to change. but the second half is a catalog of resources—reproduced in more easily accessible form on the Resources page of the book’s website—that are of potentially immense value to an independent scholar. and ideas that are part of the future of learning.14 The Personal Learning Network—a network of people to bounce ideas off of and provide suggestions for further research—may well evolve into the peer network from which one seeks credentialing and work opportunities. new platforms for socialization.12 245 The Guide was written as a follow-up to DIY U. combining in-person and online experiences.. your PLN will begin to overlap with the professional network of practitioners in your field. with enough guidance so you don’t get>.”13 The Guide includes chapters on how to do research online. and help you when you get stuck. write a personal learning plan. html text <http://www. In a true PLN. find a mentor. or hybrid programs. you’re a contributor. and the like. and new forms of accreditation. and how you can be a part of it. Most of them take advantage of the technology now at our disposal— they’re either all-online programs that complement the experiences you’re already having. no one learns alone. open ed startups.16 the Guide. and to give you ideas about where to go next in your learning. open social learning. programs.6.. and to create them for yourself. but without unnecessary restrictions. not just a consumer. get a credential. 13 Online 12 “About . teach yourself online.” DIY education “means getting the knowledge you need at the time you need it.. Many are even free! And I’ve given you the tools to go out and find even more options. I’ve spoken to over 100 learners from programs and sites around the country and around the world that offer new methods of content delivery. where you’ll need to demonstrate value in order to connect with opportunities. is “Open World”—a guide that includes sections on open content.. answer questions. DIY doesn’t mean that you do it all alone.15 The chapters in the first half of the 96-page guide are mostly general rules. The first two categories consist mainly of means for obtaining class credit for extracurricular learning.” The Edupunk’s Guide <http://edupunksguide...

but has the serious shortcoming—in my view—of neglecting field-dedicated scholarly email http://www.uci. lectures and textbooks—among them MIT’s Open Coursework. Hour School http://hourschool.ocwconsortium.academia.coursehero. Free Skool http://freeskool.ed Zero Tuition College: A Community of Self-Directed Learners and other educational materials for 81 of the state’s most 17 <http://p2pu. the MIT Open Courseware program introduced MITx: an interactive learning program which certifies completion for students who demonstrate master of course Academia.5 Open Course Materials [Open Courseware Consortium] The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has (as of November 2011) undertaken an Open Course Library project to make a college education more affordable. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING The open content includes a wide array of open course materials like syllabi. 2011 .org/ Wikiversity http://en. open platform which anyone can use to set up courses. Open learning institutions and open ed startups are unconventional learning networks and open universities. The online library will house a collection of iversity Course Hero http://www.18 [University of California at Irvine Open Courseware] Udemy http://www. 6. In many Open Study Connexions http://cnx. December 19. [UnCollege http://www. The open social learning section includes various online networks. organize lesson plans. <>. it’s a revival of the medieval model of the university: those with something to teach can set up a\ Sophia http://www.4 Open Learning Platforms P2PU17 is a free. select the course materials. 18 “MIT launches online learning initiative.udemy. structuring courses around such open syllabi and reading lists. like P2PU and Uncollege. and solicit The Open University http://www. groups of learners interested in learning about a subject can perform the same functions for themselves and learn 2011/ School of Everything Open Yale Courses and Open] [MIT Open Courseware] In December University of the People http://www.” MIT News Office.html> The Public School http://all.246CHAPTER 6.wikiversity. Of course it’s possible to create synergies between the open learning platform and open course materials available elsewhere like MIT Open Courseware (see below).thepublicschool.

popular general education and pre-college courses. Dave. The solution is to process workers in batch lots with bureaucratic certification of their skills. People pay more and more to get that piece of paper.19 247 6. The average community college student in Washington spends about $1. and passed the certification exam with the NE Ohio Machinists’ Guild. when the hiring unit is a giant bureaucracy and the hiring functionaries are bureaucrats who need a standard procedure for evaluating large numbers of people on an impersonal basis. <http://www. It’s an unjustifiable.7 Credentialing The signaling function of post-secondary education is a way of overcoming the transaction costs of evaluating individual qualifications for specific functions on an ad hoc basis. 19 Liz Dwyer. But when most production and training units are distributed. the cost can’t exceed $30 per student. the End of $200 Textbooks is Here. in fact a lot of why nerds built the net in the first place) • credentialing – this is still the hard one Credentialing is the force behind the higher education bubble. The effort has the potential to save students millions of dollars.6 Open Textbooks.flatworldknowledge. OPEN TEXTBOOKS.opencourselibrary.textbookrevolution.php/Main_Page]] [TextbookRevolution http://www. small and local.good. . let’s try you out on this router. All other materials will be free. and Dave is applying for a job as a machinist. which are in the process of being de-linked from one another: • learning (largely replaceable with free online content / study guides) • networking (replaceable online. but for Open Course Library classes. [Flat world Knowledge http://www.200 per year on textbooks—about a quarter of the total cost of attending school full-time.” Good Education.6. November 3.6. The texts are available under an open license to other higher education institutions.” Emlyn O’Regan writes that universities provide three major sources of value. “In Washington State. When the entity doing the hiring is a neighborhood garage factory. Some classes will still require students to purchase a textbook. the transaction costs for horizontal certification systems become much lower. 2011 <>.org/index. his credentials might be something like this: I took these classes at the town learning center. as well as anyone else who wants to access them. “OK. apprenticed in Bob’s machine>.

Now one way to split credentialing off from the rest of the concerns of “education” is to provide something like “recognition for prior learning”. would be along the lines of: “I was trained as a master plumber under Joe the Plumber. But. Then. But I’m wondering. dabble in this already. a sort of Slashdot rating system built into LinkedIn. and you can easily make crowdsourced-credentialling/>. crucially. software designers. To make this work. so there’s some minimal learning assumable even if everything else fails.248CHAPTER 6. because we know the person had to more or less sit through X many years of study. modified by how much their ratings match other people’s ratings in the context.” 20 Emlyn O’Regan. BASIC INFRASTRUCTURES: EDUCATION AND CREDENTIALING unproductive.” “I took the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ coursework and passed their certifying exam. lower for ratings outside area of expertise. and also person specific: • if the rater is an expert in field X. with certain course providers becoming the “gold standard” based on their reputation. you need some kind of credibility rating for the raters. or like lots of little accreditation bodies. whatever. or are they bullshitters? Maybe higher for more ratings. All kinds of institutions. it’s tough. or even better a professional network like LinkedIn. they have higher credibility with respect to rating person Y But also.” • Voluntary courses in various skills. That’s why we prefer the Unis.20 In other words. 2010 . Credibility should be domain specific. like TAFE in Australia. get others to rate them. maybe lowered for complaints registered about them. and providing continuing education. you’d blow this industry to pieces. 20. Let people just add “qualifications” they have (“skills”? Is there a more appropriate word?). a rater should have a general credibility factor—do their ratings match reality. But what about voluntary certification through somewhat more formal arrangements? For example: • Professional associations or guilds certifying the ability of members. If you could route around that. can we crowdsource credentialing? Take a social network. with the incentive to avoid “grade inflation” being the need to maintain the credibility of their “brand.wordpress.” “My customer satisfaction rating on the Podunk. Iowa Darknet local economy platform is five stars. you have to test people rigorously to figure out if they deserve a credential or not. they have higher credibility in field X • if the rater has worked closely with person Y. August <http://point7. exploitative money pump. machinists. Possible credentials for plumbers.” point7. “Crowdsourced Credentialling. • Apprenticeship programs conducted through guilds or professional associations.

[Last modified January 26. In a world where course materials are freely available to anyone interested in them. CONCLUSION 249 It’s much like a kosher butcher or organic farmer posting a sticker of approval from some accrediting agency on their front window.8 Conclusion Let’s go back now and take another look at the self-driven model of education Pirsig described in his Church of Reason piece. networked manufacturing tools—resulting in a two-pronged attack on the institutional alliance between the HR departments of large corporate employers and large educational institutions. 6. you have to buy the whole thing) as a condition for certifying you to potential employers. and students (whether officially recognized as such or not) can interact with each other and contact an entire world of scholars from their own homes.6. the environment will be far more conducive to informal credentialing arrangements between employers or work teams and workers. 2012] .8. networked educational technology coincides with the widespread availability of cheap. the work team at the local garage factory or permaculture truck farm can negotiate with would-be members as to what particular course certifications are most useful. Even without state-mandated licensing or college accreditation. Instead of a small number of accredited institutions acting as credentialing gatekeepers and providing an entire educational package (if you want any of it. We’re approaching a state of affairs in which the widespread availability of cheap. one’s credentials would still carry weight based on the degree of public confidence in the reputation of the accrediting agency.


1 The latter kind of architecture. [Material from C4SS paper on James Scott] With the rise of the absolute state. and the overcoming of centuries worth of ingrained habits of thought. of course. Seeing Like a State (New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Scott. in network technology and the tools of individual superempowerment. This is a “perfect storm” of mutually reinforcing trends. that the regulatory state really does perform its ostensible functions).. already exists for supplanting regulatory state functions (on the assumption. the state wants to keep track of where its stuff is—and guess what we 1 James Scott. as described by Pyotr Kropotkin. 1998). etc. the primary focus became making society transparent (in Scott’s terminology “legible”) from above. And they’re becoming available at a time when the regulatory state is becoming hollowed out by fiscal crisis. calls social organizations that are primarily “legible” to the state. To the state. The primary pattern of social organization was horizontal (guilds. with quality certification and reputational functions aimed mainly at making individuals’ reliability transparent to one another. all making for a phase transition in the way society organizes most of its functions. But getting from here to there will involve a fundamental paradigm shift in how most people think. etc. 251 . such local formations were opaque. were all for the purpose of making society legible to the state.Chapter 7 The Desktop Licensing Board 7. was what prevailed in the networked free towns of late medieval Europe. and by the technological obsolescence of many of its enforcement mechanisms. the systematic mapping of urban addresses for postal or 911 service.1 Legibility: Vertical and Horizontal The technical basis. Things like the systematic adoption of family surnames that persisted from one generation to the next (and the 20th century follow-up of Social Security Numbers and other citizen ID numbers).). in Seeing Like a State. This involves a shift from what James C. Like us. to social organizations that are primary legible or transparent to the people of local communities organized horizontally and opaque to the state.

agreed in asserting that no separate unions between citizens must exist within the State.3 Likewise... that the State alone could represent the bonds of union between its subjects. 226-227. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD are? Before this transformation. narrow-minded individualism. in Scott’s terminology.. they might be distinguished at any particular time by trade ("John the Miller"). 64-73. In proportion as the obligations towards the state grew in numbers the citizens were evidently relieved from their obligations towards each other. If there were multiple Johns in a village. for example. Page & Company. they have been imposed by centralized states as a way of cataloguing and tracking the population—making it legible to the state. and the bribery of the State’s official.. By the end of the last century. The village communities were bereft of their folkmotes.. and placed under the control.. although they were at war with each other. connected by no particular bonds. Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (New York: Doubleday. the preemption and absorption—or suppression—of all regulatory functions by the state favored the development of a mindset by which providers of goods and services were relieved of their obligations to provide reliable certifications of the quality of their wares to consumers. etc. and consumers were relieved of their obligations to scrutinize their quality and the reputations of the pp. By contrast.. when there was some danger of confusion.. systematically weeded out all institutions in which the mutual-aid tendency had formerly found its expression. The absorption of all social functions by the State necessarily favoured the development of an unbridled.. the kings on the Continent. while the subjects must represent loose aggregations of individuals. The guilds were spoliated of their possessions and liberties. the fancy. patronymic ("John Richard’s Son"). 3 Pyotr 2 Ibid.2 During the ascendancy of the modern state. 1909)... the Parliament in these isles. location ("John on the Hill").252 CHAPTER 7. that federalism and “particularism” were the enemies of progress. the horizontal institutions of the free towns were at best barely tolerated—and usually not even that. everywhere there have been family surnames with cross-generational continuity.. Kropotkin wrote: For the next three centuries the States. so they could tell each other apart. Kropotkin. “No state within the State!” The State alone. and rarely continued from one generation to the next. Surnames were adopted on an ad hoc basis for clarification. and the State was the only proper initiator of further development. must take care of matters of general interest. . pp. their lands were confiscated. bound to appeal to the Government each time that they feel a common need. both on the Continent and in these islands. surnames existed mainly for the convenience of people in local communities. and the revolutionary Convention in France. It was taught in the Universities and from the pulpit that the institutions in which men formerly used to embody their needs of mutual support could not be tolerated in a properly organized State. their courts and independent administration.

For example. It was the state’s job to take care of that business for us.”).g.e. we must think instead of ourselves creating mechanisms on a networked basis. the average citizen consumes endless amounts of things like genetically modified organisms. to treat such advertising as “product disparagement” on the grounds that it suggests products which merely meet the ordinary standard (which of course is based on “sound science”) are inferior. if “we” didn’t have some way of verifying compliance with this regulation or that. in which the state is the all-seeing guardian of society protecting us from the possibility that someone. to prevent each other from selling defective merchandise. encryption. But it’s usually a false confidence that relies on the imprimatur of the state for the quality of goods and services. of thinking of such things through the mind’s eye of the state: i.) for protection against attempts to suppress such local economic self-organization against the interests of corporate actors. has relieved the citizen of the burden of thinking for herself—and the corporation has rushed in to take advantage of the fact. Monsanto frequently goes after grocers who label their milk rBGH free. in practice. etc. to prevent businesses from getting away with poor behavior by informing each other.1. by supplanting self-organized reputational and certifying mechanisms. But in fact.g. and some federal district courts have argued that it’s an “unfair competitive practice” to test one’s beef cattle for Mad Cow Disease more frequently than the mandated industry standard. somewhere might do something wrong if “the authorities” don’t prevent it. In place of this habit of thought. when their competitors advertise a product quality or safety standard higher than the regulatory state requires. pesticide and herbicide residues.4 In short the regulatory state. a ceiling as much as a floor. among the general public. We need to lose the centuries-long habit of thinking of “society” as a hub4 . and parabens. some business somewhere might be able to get away with something or other. “We are the government. And whatever minimal genuine quality and safety standards exist in the regulatory code become. darknets. LEGIBILITY: VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL 253 vendors. on Roman law] To accomplish a shift back to horizontal transparency.7. [Chartier on “safe harbors”] [Kropotkin. on the assumption that “they couldn’t sell it if it was dangerous”—when the so-called regulatory standards are largely written by the regulated industries. the creation of such mechanisms—far from making us transparent to the regulatory state—may well require active measures to render us opaque to the state (e. We must overcome six hundred years or so of almost inbred habits of thought. to make us as transparent as possible to each other as providers of goods and services. and we needn’t bother our heads about it. The state has attempted to coopt the rhetoric of horizontality (e. often corporations have successfully pressured the courts. to protect ourselves from fraud. it will be necessary to overcome a powerful residual cultural habit. from The State. etc.

and whether the means of ordering are going to be consensual or coercive.fee.. S if the question is. . there are two different kinds of peaceful “spontaneous orders” in a self-regulating society. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD and-spoke mechanism and viewing the world vicariously from the imagined perspective of the hub.” Foundation for Economic Education. There is the sort of spontaneity that Sheldon focuses on — the unplanned but orderly coordination that emerges as a byproduct of ordinary people’s interactions.” but you need to remember that remember that those “market forces” are not supernatural entities that act on people from the outside. (This is spontaneity in the sense of achieving a goal without a prior blueprint for the goal. The one thing that I would want to add to Sheldon’s excellent point6 is that there are two ways in which we will do the regulating of our own economic affairs in a free society — because. We need to lose the habit of thought by which transparency from above even became perceived as an issue in the first place. as I have discussed here before. who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else? A. who will stop markets from running riot. When we argue about whether or not government should intervene in the economy in order to regiment markets. “Regulation Red Herring: Why There’s No Such Thing as an Unregulated Market. “the market” is nothing more than a series of choices made by human beings as to how to interact with one another5 : Q. June 5. (This is spontaneity in the sense of achieving a goal through means freely chosen. who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else?” Rad Geek People’s Daily. achieving harmony and order through a conscious process of voluntary organizing and activism. Because the people who are seeing things “from above. 2009 <http://radgeek. the question is not whether markets should be made orderly and regular.It’s convenient to talk about “market forces.. 5 “In . rather than through constraints imposed. We>. where to work and where not to work.. what to accept and what not to 2009/06/12/freed-market-regulation/>. As Charles Johnson—aka “Rad Geek”—argued.) But a self-regulating people can also engage in another kind of spontaneity — that is. do not represent us or have anything in common with us. The point Johnson referenced was that an “unregulated” market was actually regulated by market forces. but rather whether the process of ordering is in the hands of the people making the trade. In a freed market. 6 This post was a commentary on Sheldon Richman’s article. “Market forces” are a conveniently abstracted way of talking about the systematic patterns that emerge from people’s economic choices..” in reality..) In a freed market. by peacefully choosing what to buy and what not to buy. June 12. we inevitably shape and order the market that surrounds us. 2009 <http://www. or by unaccountable third parties.254 CHAPTER 7. the answer is: We will. and instead think of it as a horizontal network and visualize things from the perspective of the individual nodes which we occupy.

and it’s not because I’m revising the meaning of the term “Left” to suit my own predilections or some obsolete French seating chart. based on free association and dissociation. of boycotts. their answer is — a politically-appointed. we are market forces. but also our shared projects. if you want regulations that check destructive corporate power. on the belief that social order only comes from social control. And so a freed market includes not only individual buyers and sellers. indeed as a part of. When I say that the libertarian Left is the real Left. don’t lobby—organize! Where government regulators would take economic power out of the hands of the people. of divestiture. and to solve the problems of social and economic regulation not by appealing to any external authority or privileged managerial planner. but rather by taking matters into their own hands and working together through grassroots community organizing to build the kind of world that we 255 . The libertarian answer is — the power of the people. organized boycotts. or worker and consumer co-ops. even less accountable bureaucracy. grassroots mutual aid associations. alongside. the right to quit. promoted by means of Fair Trade certifications. free clinics. and the right to put your money where your mouth is.1. by means of conscious entrepreneurial action — and one thing that libertarian principles clearly imply.7. when people choose to work together. working to achieve non-monetary social goals. the right to organize. When liberals or “Progressives” wonder who will check the power of the capitalists and the bureaucratic corporations. and of competition — competition from humane and sustainable alternatives. if she produces things that are degrading or dangerous or uses methods that are environmentally destructive.” and the regulating in a self-regulating market is done not only by us equilibrating our prices and bids. no less than apple-carts or corporations. looking to increase a bottom line. it’s vital to remember that you do not have to just “let the market take its course” — because the market is not something outside of us. by the threat or the practice of strikes. is that entrepreneurship includes social entrepreneurship. strikes and slow-downs. I mean that. that put a stop to abuse or exploitation or the trashing of the environment. abusive or exploitative or irresponsible bosses can be checked or plain run out of the market. and they call on us to build a self-regulating order by means of free choice and grassroots organization. these are all part of a freed market. organized with our fellow workers into fighting unions. It’s because libertarianism. social investing. calls on the workers of the world to unite. even though actually-existing libertarians may not stress it often enough. LEGIBILITY: VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL a freed market. rightly understood. by means of conscious but noncoercive activism. if someone in the market exploits workers or chisels costumers. freed markets put economic power into the hands of the people. or other positive “pro-cott” measures. and working to develop alternative institutions like union hiring halls. So when self-regulating workers rely on themselves and not on the state. In other words. the undesigned forms of spontaneous self-organization that emerge. but also by deliberately working to shift the equilibrium point. We are “market forces. As long as the means are voluntary.

” 8 Paul Fussell. In Olbermann’s world. government agencies. overcoming the hostility of conventional liberals who are in the habit of reacting viscerally and negatively. But that people are forced to resort to such 7 For more on the ideological inclinations of the managerial-professional classes.D. and Chris Hedges. In Olbermann’s world. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD This will require. with blue collar schmoes busily uglifying their homes by taking upon themselves projects that should be left to—all together now—the Properly Qualified Professionals. reaching for shitkicking imagery of the nineteenth century barn-raiser for want of any other comparision sufficient to get across just how backward and ridiculous that kind of thing really was. in Bad. ridicules the whole Do-it-Yourself ethos as an endless Sahara of the Squalid. They share a nostalgia for the “consensus capitalism” of the early postwar period. in which the gatekeepers of the Big Three networks controlled what we were allowed to see and it was just fine for GM to own the whole damned economy—just so long as everyone had a lifetime employment guarantee and a UAW contract. see Carson. and their hostility to decentralist ideas. or organize voluntarily to pool risks and costs." Arguably conventional liberals. Andrew Keen.8 [quote] On his old MSNBC program. of course—if nothing else is available. and other giant organizations of the late 19th and early 20th century. but of the provincial and the picayune—very much like the stigmatization of homemade bread and home-grown veggies in corporate advertising in the early twentieth century. are to be praised—with just the slightest hint of condescension—for heroically doing the best they can in an era of relentlessly downscaled social services. “The Thermidor of the Progressives. This is reflected in a common thread running through writers like Thomas Frank. and Colin Ward—the recessive Left that emerges when the dominant strain of Lenin and Harold Wilson is occupied elsewhere. is all right in its own way. as one of the editors of Radical Technology put it—doesn’t even exist. People who help each other out. and on principle. not only of the quaint. Jaron Lanier. with their thought system originating as it did as the ideology of the managers and engineers who ran the corporations. have played the same role for the corporate-state nexus that the politiques did for the absolute states of the early modern period. The only ideological choice is between plain.A. But it carries the inescapable taint.7 Paul Fussell. B. come to think of it. CHAPTER 7. or participating in a local self-organized friendly society or mutual. the decentralist Left of Ivan Illich. to anything not being done by “qualified professionals” or “the proper authorities. . [cite] Helping your neighbor out directly. vanilla flavored managerialist liberalism and the Right. more specifically. Keith Olbermann routinely mocked exhortations to charity and self-help. Paul Goodman. such ideas come only from conservatives. as well as documentary producers like Michael Moore.256 want to live in. of course.

snark aside. in continuation of the village tradition. and scoff at the idea of a society that relies primarily on networked rating systems. and are in the habit of unconsciously assuming the government will protect them. contentedly milling about like ants in the shadows of miles-high buildings that look like they were designed by Albert Speer. competently managed by properly credentialed authorities. as the new towns filled up with runaway serfs who. Because people are not currently in the habit of automatically consulting such reputational networks to check up on people they’re considering doing business with. God love him. And that kind of H. as recounted by Kropotkin—that this society of horizontally legible regulatory bodies was stamped out by the state. LEGIBILITY: VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL 257 expedients. where such functions were performed by local.7. These local institutions had their origins in necessity. rather than meeting all their social safety net needs through onestop shopping at the Ministry of Central Services office in a giant monumental building with a statue of winged victory in the lobby. And it’s also a simple fact—again. conventional liberals assume that people will not shift from one to the other in the face of changing incentives. The progressive society is one of comfortable and well-fed citizens. In a society where people are aware that most licensing and safety/quality codes are no longer enforceable. But liberal criticism based on this state of affairs reflects a remarkably static view of society. such reputational systems really are underused. and “caveat emptor” is no longer just a cliche. self-managed institutions like the guilds.G. But Joe Sixpack. for educated people like themselves who have the sense and know-how to check around. Things like Consumer Reports. united in guilds for mutual protection and support—and as merchants of necessity worked out mechanisms for tracking their reliability as trading partners. as recounted by Kropotkin). a la Brazil. But the simple fact of the matter—as we saw described by Kropotkin above—is that there was a society in which the certification of quality and enforcement of commercial standards was achieved by horizontal legibility: the society of the free towns in the late middle ages. Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau are all well and good. as well as the possibility that even the Great Unwashed may be capable of changing their habits quite rapidly in the face of necessity—and that given enough time they might even figure out how to wipe their own bottoms without supervision by state-licensed shit-removal professionals.1. such critics are no doubt motivated to some extent by genuine concern that networked reputational and certifying mechanisms just won’t take up the slack left by the disappearance of the regulatory state. . Seriously. Aesthetic sensibilities aside. is a damning indictment of any civilized society. It ignores the whole idea of crowding out (consider the extent to which the state actively suppressed self-organized mechanisms for horizontal legibility. Wells utopia simply has no room for atavisms like the barn-raiser or the sick benefit society. will just go out and buy magic beans from the first disreputable salesman he encounters—and then likely put them right up his nose. and most people really do take inadequate precautions in the marketplace on the assumption that the regulatory state guarantees some minimum acceptable level of quality.

it’s applied to amateur restaurant critics and books published without the benefit of a publishing house gatekeeper. 9 Clay Shirky. In the more extreme cases. this all-seeing central authority we count on to protect us is like a shepherd that puts the wolves in charge of the flock. because that would be illegal” leaves people especially vulnerable. Keen. at one time the sort of thing people did rely on before the rise of the absolute state. like the aforementioned Mr. reputational certification by local guilds. when virtually any kind of licensing or professional regime comes up for debate. Cognitive Surplus (New York: The Penguin Press. and brain surgery is just one illustrative example. it also has the tendency to create a closed priesthood with limited accountability to the customer. If a licensing regime is intended to exert some quality control over professionals. the rise of network technology is having a revolutionary effect on that balance of power. the hoary amateur brain surgeon is dragged out and dusted off. when even the most basic survey of a research topic began with an obligatory painful crawl through the card catalog. because it creates an unjustified confidence and complacency regarding what they buy. 152-153.”9 More importantly. and to hold them accountable. and as ingrained a part of ordinary economic behavior as reliance on the regulatory state is today. if anything the assumption that “they couldn’t sell it if it wasn’t OK. pp. after all. we should prefer the professionals.258 CHAPTER 7. They were. etc. People’s habits change rapidly. Fifteen years ago. didn’t rapidly grow in importance for most people. customer word of mouth. . professional) and the layperson. 2010). no one—not even free market anarchists—would choose someone to perform a high-risk procedure of any kind without some form of licensing or other certification to attest to their capability. Reader’s Guide and Social Science Index—and when the average person’s investigations were limited to the contents of her $1000 set of Britannica—who could have foreseen how quickly Google and SSRN searches would become second nature? In fact. The desktop regulatory state serves to control the authority granted to licensed professionals. As Clay Shirky argues: “The stock figure of the amateur brain surgeon comes up only in conversations that aren’t about brain surgery. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD it would be remarkable if things like Angie’s list. The real assertion is that every time amateurs and professionals differ. Oddly enough. The real question at issue is whether a licensing or certification regime need be provided by the state.. In many cases. in contexts ranging from homeschooling to unlicensed cab services. though. [Yglesias on practical issues] Even when state licensing regimes exist as a barrier to entry—as they do almost everywhere—and traditionally served to limit the number of competing providers that shifted the balance of power between the priest (ahem. the analogy never seems to come up in a discussion of actual brain surgery. Rather. Self-styled enemies of what Andrew Keen calls “the cult of the amateur” are fond of throwing the example of the amateur brain surgeon in our faces.

In a world where our attention is increasingly scarce and expensive to acquire. there are websites—ranging from the most mainstream like WebMD to a variety of alternative medicine sites and even information-sharing sites like Erowid for recreational drug users—providing an embarrassment of information riches to the patient. The same is not true for individuals. 2011 <http://onthespiral. There are large online communities of people suffering from an almost infinite variety of ailments (Shirky gives the example of PatientsLikeMe)10 . therefore monetization is a necessity. Peers are free to value attention for its own intrinsic benefits.” On the Spiral. Thanks to the Internet. fungible enough to facilitate more efficient reciprocation but not so fungible that it becomes awkwardly thoughtless. the more effective networked. pp. The layperson is empowered to question and evaluate the judgment of the professional from a more equal position. p2p reputational systems become at providing the information we desire.1. and to take terse answers as final rather than asking follow-up. 10 Shirky. . 11 Greg. April 28. A corporation is owned by and exists for the benefit shareholders. Shareholders generally expect a financial return. the culture of professionalism resulted in an asymmetric power relationship in which many perceived a doctor’s advice as “doctor’s orders. An effective attention currency would have to be designed very subtly. the doctor was the main chokepoint controlling information available to the patient—and wittingly or not. not to question the purpose or possible side-effects of medications. The reason is that. And networked. 155-158. and compare the doctor’s advice to a universe of independently accessible information. . the balance of power between physician and patient is far less asymmetric than fifteen years ago. .7. in which it’s possible to ask questions and exchange information. they can reciprocate our attention. Even when state-mandated licensing regimes are still in effect. Individuals can engage in a true attention economy without any pressure to ultimately convert that attention into a monetary form. our peers are much better at getting our attention than are corporate advertisers. Not Brands. even with a doctor willing to answer questions.” Of necessity. Brands face a huge obstacle in the attention economy because corporations cannot reciprocate. “Understanding Attention Scarcity—Why the Attention Economy Belongs to Peers. the harder our attention will be for corporate advertisers to get hold of: Cognitive Surplus. The patient can arm herself with better questions for the doctor.11 And as William Gillis argues. LEGIBILITY: VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL 259 Previously—to take medicine as an example—a patient usually felt pressured by time constraints not to ask a doctor all the things she really wanted to>. p2p reputational systems are rapidly becoming more effective than corporate branding or mass advertising campaigns at securing consumer attention. her professional culture and tacit background assumptions filtered the kinds of information she provided. unlike corporations. however. Even when the doctor encouraged questions and the seeking of second opinions. our peers can interact with us.

Relatively simple advances in consumer analysis of sellers would drastically turn the tables against advertisers and corporate bargaining advantage in general. Who are you trying to fool? Why aren’t you content to let your product speak for itself? In this sense much of the fertile territory being seized by Google is detrimental in the long run to one of its core income sources. Algorithms trawling for greater targeting power on the part of advertisers are jumping at comparatively trivial increases in efficiency with serious diminishing returns. but there’s no end to what can be made immediately transparent.” “How would I go about navigating the experience of changing checking accounts?” Et cetera. And if the app providing our results is tampered with then we can swap to another app. Those manipulations are only possible when people have any reason to pay attention.e. But openness is antithetical to a core presupposition of advertising: people are susceptible to suggestion and anecdote because they don’t have enough information–or time to process that information–when it comes to purchasing choices. streamlined and efficient our product comparison the less need there is to pay any attention to anything else.. Forget everything you’ve learned about madison avenue manipulations. In no way do I mean to underplay the threat posed by governments themselves. As search improves and our instincts adapt to it there’s simply no reason to click on the ‘featured product’ getting in the way of our actual results.. Every conceivable variable. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD . Build a box that delivers all the relevant information and perfectly sorts through it in an easily manageable way and any form of advertising starts to look like laughable shucksterism. “How cool is this product with a certain subculture or circle of my friends?” “Give me a weighted aggregate of consumer reports highlighting the ups and downs. The government simply doesn’t have the kind of money that . The NSA isn’t going to cut Facebook a check to keep it afloat. of corporations like Google and Facebook that attempt to monetize attention through advertising revenue] is predicated on the assumption that advertising dollars are even a thing. taken in a broad view. Of course advertising covers more than just price comparisons between laundry detergents. With ease of interface and sufficient algorithmic rigor one can easily recognize a tipping point. the issues of complexity to such datatrawling and analysis leans to the favor of consumers because there’s simply far more of us than there are sellers.” “List common unforeseen complexities and consequences. But the context they’re operating in makes a big difference.Their whole empire [i. In such light their current golden age of analysis is but one last rich gasp. (And insofar as new understandings might inform actual development/policy wouldn’t that a good thing?) Further. At the end of the day they will remain a threat and continue working on these kinds of projects. who surely have a huge investment in the establishment of institutions like Facebook and or projects like that of Palantir. Walk into any given store with its inventory already listed and analyzed on our phone. The more intuitive.260 CHAPTER 7.

2. trust has to be earned. They’ve done the thinking for us and pre-limited our options. what is called “goodwill. in the anonymous transactions that occur in large markets: . because no particular group will be able to sustain large-scale production. and people will rely on their local social networks to provide them with accurate information..12 7.. and thus no one will be denied the opportunity for small scale production.2 Networked Certification. Without the current role of the state and other centralized institutions in overcoming the transaction costs of certifying quality and credit-worthiness. unless it is backed up by a great deal of legitimate evidence. Reputational and Verification Mechanisms. In fact. “Authority” as such will be scorned. NETWORKED CERTIFICATION.” Human Iterations. . This. “The Security State vs. December 31.The Security State makes it too easy for people to stop thinking. In the skeptical society. underwriting risk. and we don’t have enough options to weigh. Sure. They just won’t be able to do it effectively..13 12 William Gillis.” A Pox on All Their Houses. The sooner we take it upon ourselves to kill the advertising industry the less time it’ll have to build weapons for the state. The idea of managing anything larger than a local area will become preposterous. and not bullshit.. etc.wordpress. with the patterns of exchange coalescing around social ties. No more vast towers of concentrated power. wealth will localize. because that will be the only way to deal with risk. In the>. would likely take on much greater importance.. “Let’s Just Kill The Advertising Industry. which will put pressure on societies to shift away from guaranteeing security. The current growing ratio of noise to signal is putting pressure on the world to become more skeptical. REPUTATIONAL AND VERIFICATION MECHANISMS. But at core it’ll be a downhill battle for us.” or reputational effects.. July 12. the Skeptical Society. and decentralized. Production will become more interdependent. would be a beneficial social effect of economic decentralization. 13 Adem Kupi. We just don’t have time to think too much about anything. will become the most valuable commodity. 2011 <http://humaniterations. Those are slippery cultural / user-interface issues that are far too complex for the state to navigate with requisite nuance. Easier to spread information–both technologically and culturally–than to contain it.. on the other hand. like our current struggle to kill the IP Industry. it’ll be a fight that’ll last a while and involve complex cultural/political campaigns alongside purely technical ones. 261 the private sector is putting in to distort the development of norms in social networking / communications in the first place.. Honesty.7. it penalizes “over-thinking” by shortening time horizons. People will think more and do less. Adem Kupi remarks on the role of the state in artificially lowering the transaction costs involved in establishing trust.. too.

He was only a kid. June 10. Land ownership is based on occupancy and use—no landlords—and the economy is based on a sort of labor exchange system ("obligations” or “obs").com/2005/07/security-state-vs-skeptical-society. no clothes.14 The same was true. They are just small enough for everybody to know everybody—and everyone does plenty of gabbing. Meals. a “scratcher” (‘One who lives by accepting obs but does nothing about wiping them out or planting any of his own. There are no big ones on this planet.. Even in the present economy. no company.. see? All kids tend to scratch to a certain extent. ‘Up to age sixteen Jack got away with it all along the line. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD This applies to networked platforms as well as local economies—see below for more on “communities” based on networked platforms. But after sixteen he was soon in the soup. etc.. he noted that while a vendor might be willing to “work to rule” with many customers. Wherever Jack went people gave him the. Eric Frank Russell’s story of Idle Jack.html>. 2005 <http://poxyhouses. landscaping. organization theory blogger quasibill writes of the benefits of fraternal organizations in facilitating exchange between their members. in “And Then There Were None"—set in the universe of Russell’s “Great Explosion” series—is relevant here. “I won’t. It wasn’t a big town. You could win your case in court on a legal technicality. . ‘Everything dried up. but if the members of the organization determined that you weren’t acting fairly. or Vice Versa (except if either one contradicts your pre-determined outcomes). We expect it and allow for it.” The Bell Tower.blogspot.blogspot. Soon be became terribly hungry.’). clothes and all sorts for the mere asking. the social peer pressure that could be exerted through the organization made dealings within the organization more fair and certain.)” Quasibill asked a friend in a fraternal organization whether such ads paid off. you were going to be ostracized from the organization before you could turn your head. “Function Follows Form. nothing. when local merchants and tradesmen depended on repeat business from people they knew. Within a few months the entire town knew that Jack was a determined and incorrigible scratcher.262 CHAPTER printing. in the old Main Street business culture. no entertainment. A visitor wondered what the penalties were for running up obligations and then refusing to meet them.. The world in which the story takes place was founded by Gandhian refuges from the Terran Empire centuries before.. Newsletters contain ads “from members who market their small businesses to each other (contracting. The answer took the form of a traditional morality lesson.” He got no meals. ‘He loafed around the town gathering obs by the armful.html>.. the tale of Idle Jack. He was avoided like a leper. Specifically. or even be willing to file bankruptcy against general creditors. and is organized more or less along the lines of market anarchy suggested by Josiah Warren. The answer was “yes": He noted that most members preferred doing business within the organization because there was a social peer enforcement mechanism at work. 14 Quasibill... 2008 <http://the-belltower. to a large extent.

. Or. they may extend credit to people..7. that turn out to be bad credit risks. Next day his belly was empty again. And the next.’ ‘Oh. that doesn’t have the market they anticipated. following them throughout their lives. that do not continue. businesses know that investment decisions don’t always work out as expected. Nor do we expect the government to intervene to make sure investors’ expectations about rising oil prices are realized. a twentieth.. As he went on it became a whole lot worse.. as I said.’ Seth threw back at him.abelard. the nature of strict bankruptcy laws as a form of welfare for the rich: In a free market economy. The nanny state conservatives think that it is the role of the government to act as a strong-arm debt collector for businesses that did not accurately assess the risks associated with their loans. locked up their stuff and kept watch on it.’ ‘That must have encouraged him some. And people do plenty of visiting from one to another. treated himself to the first square meal in a week... No one expects that the government will step in and sustain the demand for a bad product. In the second town Jack had to risk being seen and talked about by visitors from the first town. ‘It did him no good..” Astounding Science Fiction. no. in rather colorful language.’15 Social guarantees of trust become especially important if we reject the role of the state in enforcing debts on borrowers. 15 Eric Frank Russell.. no he wasn’t. such as rising oil prices. Our towns are small. . “And Then There Were None.’ ‘But he was getting by. They may invest based on trends.. Circumstances grew harder and harder. He never reached town number twenty-eight... They want the government to chase after individual debtors.’ Harrison insisted.’ ‘What did they do about that?’ ‘Nothing. People then became leery. REPUTATIONAL AND VERIFICATION MECHANISMS. They grew so unbearably hard that soon it was a lot easier to leave the town and try another one.. to wring out every possible cent of debt repayment. for example. 263 busted into someone’s larder one night. ‘Taking all for nothing at the cost of moving around. Dean Baker points out. ‘With the same results for the same reasons. leaving them with large losses. He was forced to repeat the performance. not a thing. the nanny state conservatives do expect the government to step in and bail them out. In the twentieth he had to chance being condemned by anyone coming from any of the previous nineteen. mustn’t it?’ ‘How could it?’ asked Seth with a thin smile.’ ‘To do the same again. In the third town he had to cope with talkers from both the first and second ones. by buying up massive amounts of ‘On he went to a third town. XLVII.4 (June 1951) <http://www. And the next day. He was stubborn enough to be witless.’ Harrison prompted. under bankruptcy law.. But when it comes to making bad credit decisions. NETWORKED CERTIFICATION. Sometimes businesses invest in developing a product.... a fourth. vol. a fifth.2.php>.

or a car.[I]nstead of having the incompetent lenders go out of business. . in effect.htm>. Poverty: Its Illegal Causes and Legal Cure (Boston: Bela Marsh. most loans required little involvement from the government because they were attached to physical property such as land. 1846) <http://www.. the conservative nanny state stepped in to bail them out with the 2005 bankruptcy law. it remains the creditor’s property... Contract must be considered as an agreed-upon exchange between two persons of two goods... the owner of the property involved. Ala. however. the borrower’s subjective intent to defraud is a question on which the lender has the burden of proof. Lysander Spooner argued that unsecured debt carried no legal obligation beyond the debtor’s ability to pay at the time of bankruptcy.C. starts with an insight that he quickly backtracks on: “while it may well be the moral thing to keep one’s promises. because the possessor of this claim is. .. and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles (Auburn. 59-61. After providing this insight. D.Historically. present or future. based on the inalienability of moral agency. However.. its business is to enforce against theft of property.. If a debtor had fallen behind on his payments.: Center for Economic and Policy Research. the contract is valid only for so much as is possible. 1962..16 16 Dean Baker. his acceptance of funds or goods on false pretenses amounted to theft.264 CHAPTER 7... treating default on a debt as a fraud on the assumption that the borrower at the outset undertook an obligation to repay with a deliberate intent to default. Evidence of a promise to pay property is an enforceable claim. that promises were legally unenforceable. the government will monitor debtors for many years after they have declared bankruptcy. If a man contract to perform what proves to be an impossibility. It is not the business of the enforcing agency or agencies in the free market to enforce promises merely because they are promises... . in a libertarian system to enforce morality. and contracts are enforced because of the implicit theft involved. 2000). thereby taking the other’s property without his consent... Rothbard resorts to the metaphysical concept of title to transform an unenforceable promise into an enforceable condition of ownership transfer.. and the case would be over.. Man.] Murray Rothbard later held the similar position..lysanderspooner. because one individual receives the other’s property but does not fulfill his part of the exchange bargain.. Until then. 1993). the good cannot be considered his property until the agreed contract has been fulfilled and payment made. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD .] But as blogger quasibill argued. pp. “The law requires no impossibilities from any man.. 152-153.: The Ludwig von Mises Institute. seizing assets or garnishing wages for debts that may have been incurred 20 or 30 years in the past. . mostly credit card debt. Thus. and failure to redeem the claim is equivalent to theft of the property. We shall see that fraud may be considered as theft. The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer (Washington.Professor Rothbard.” It was the creditor’s responsibility to judge the debtor’s ability to repay before loaning money. [Lysander Spooner. in the last two decades there has been an explosion of debt. when a debtor purchases a good in exchange for a promise of future payment. 1970.. that is not secured by a physical asset.. An important consideration here is that contract not be enforced because a promise has been made that is not kept.... Economy. pp. a house.. using the force of the government to squeeze every last cent from is not and cannot be the function of law.. and nonpayment would be equivalent to theft of the creditor’s property.... Under the new bankruptcy laws.. In that case.. But he made an exception for debts.. then the role of the court in the debt collection process was essentially a one-time proposition: the court would simply require the debtor to turn over ownership of the relevant asset to the [Rothbard. and he is liable for restitution. Failure to fulfill contracts must be considered as theft of the other’s property..

. turns the breacher into a thief! This. lost all recourse through no act of aggression or deceit on the part of the transferee.. So the answer appears to be that the best conflict avoiding contract law system is one where possession is. Generally speaking.. such risk allotment occurs regardless of any language in a contract governing the transfer. whereby the failure of keeping the promise. does not meet the legal definition of fraud. 9/10 of the law. IMHO. intentional deceit. by itself... This insight is so basic that most jurisdictions have rules that require more than a mere failure to perform in order to establish an intentional misrepresentation. whether he knew it or not. The original property owner. Boycott and shunning. Blog defunct.. While it may be moral to keep such promises. 265 Rothbard does not make clear just what is the fundamental distinction between a promise and a condition... or bonds. REPUTATIONAL AND VERIFICATION MECHANISMS. The lender is in complete control of this. If he didn’t accept the risk. an intentional misrepresentation of material fact.. fraud requires an intentional misrepresentation of material fact. even under current contract law. as the failure to keep a promise. the commercial consequences of failing to keep your word. The question of whether you can coercively enforce performance of a promise is one answered by Rothbard in an eminently reasonable fashion.2. recovered via Internet Archive.. as most contract drafters do.7.. Mere failure to perform a future condition is not. The only exception is where possession was obtained through aggression. and those that would would demand onerous conditions like large insurance contracts or deep-pocket co-signers who can be trusted. Those parties who engage in voluntary transactions are free to write contracts detailing the terms of their agreement. . And if. As such. even this fails. “Property rights and contract enforcement. as I think likely.. if.” The Bell Tower.. it will not be a concern of the legal system.. would likely be tremendously severe in a society that adopted my model. there is some sort of moral court that helps organize these things (think credit agencies that have some sort of adversarial hearing).. the transferee dies in a crash that wrecks the car. Along the same lines. including what you have mentioned. a loan agreement involves a transaction whereby lender gives property in exchange for a promise of future performance. even if not fraudulent. or condition.. the legal system will not employ legalized violence to enforce such promises. He merely states that a condition creates an incomplete transfer of title to another person.. it is clear that Rothbard’s argument fails from a deontological viewpoint as well.In actuality. it can’t be said that his statement was an intentional misrepresentation. Possession of the item was transferred voluntarily. after the transfer of a car contingent upon the future payment of a set sum. However. especially organized forms. Rothbard attempts to shoe-horn the circumstances into the concept of legal fraud.blogspot. The promisor may full well intend to fulfill his promise at the time he makes it. Leaving aside legal formalities. The key is that coercive remedies wouldn’t be available until you proved that intentional misrepresentation.. NETWORKED CERTIFICATION. Some possibilities. even Rothbard would admit that no violence has occurred in the transaction. I would guess that even fewer people would default in . stretches the definition of thief beyond anything any normal person would ever recognize. This concept of risk allocation is well detailed in the history of the legal concept of impossibility. are insurance. and reputation for keeping promises may become a social good that is much sought after. Given these conditions. 2007 <http://the-bell-tower. The contract is “complete” at that moment. in effect. are absolutely justified actions that you can pursue rather than “grin and bear it". upon which a victim relies to their detriment. we can understand the ethical standing of the parties involved. First. March 22. For example. BTW—he can refuse to transfer the property until he is subjectively assured of the value of the promise. or theft (of the pickpocket variety). possession was given with the full knowledge of the original possessor. so it cannot be analogized to a pick-pocket or other non-violent theft. [Quasibill. unless you made a really foolish decision to trust someone that had nothing to lose with respect to commercial reputation....] . who transfers possession to another in return for a promise. the transferor has. is implicitly accepting the risk that the promise won’t be performed.html>. you will rarely have to “grin and bear it". even if the consequences were not coercive. It is clear However. However.Don’t forget that only coercion is forbidden. or co-signers. If we view contract negotiation as the art of risk allotment.. he would retain possession until the promise was performed.. He took this risk. Very few people would do business with you under any circumstance. in all likelihood.. or even Rothbard’s proposed law. by itself.

etc. “A Challenge to Anti-Corporate Libertarians and Anarchists. <http://groups. and nearly impossible to bribe. because they couldn’t hide been [sic—behind?] legalistic decisions or sharp practices to defeat the plain understanding of what they promised to for example. screwing over your customers amounts to shitting where you eat. is the consideration that one’s livelihood—as illustrated by Russell’s story of Idle Jack—depends on a good reputation. insufficient research and preparation. drug stores would strive for a reputation of stocking only products which were high quality. Of course. In a world where consumers turn to networked reputational mechanisms to avoid the risks of one-off transactions. The good reputation of a manufacturer’s brand name would be its most precious asset.blogspot. scrupulously honest in their reports.. Insurance companies might well charge lower rates on life and health insurance to policyholders who contracted to use only those medicines and to patronize only those doctors sanctioned by a reputable medical assosuch a society. or inadequate warnings on the labels they would lose customers by the thousands. in addition to competition. from the perspective of any potential malfeasant. and harassing weight of government regulations with which the bureaucrats claim to protect us today. would know that if their products caused any illness or death through poor quality. 2008.. Morris and Linda Tannehill write: Of course. safe when properly used... A good reputation would also be important to doctors in the absence of government-required licensing. But. effectiveness. confusing. would provide another safeguard in the field of drugs and medical care. thereby providing consumers with a guide. Besides. the market would evolve means of safeguarding the consumer which would be vastly superior to the contradictory. <http://the-belltower. Insurance companies. Businesses whose products were potentially dangerous to consumers would be especially dependent on a good reputation. Besides this. Drug manufacturers. One such market protection would be consumer rating services which would test and rate various products according to safety. they would be extremely thorough in their tests. December 20.. and adequately labeled. 2007.. Since the whole existence of these rating services would depend on their being right in their product evaluations. [Quasibill. January 4.] . stiff competition between businesses is the consumer’s best guarantee of getting a good product at a reasonable price—dishonest competitors are swiftly “voted” out of business by consumers.” The Bell Tower. cost. all the licensing and certification regimes presently in place would be replaced by voluntary alternatives.. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD More importantly. who have a vested interest in keeping their policyholders alive and healthy. In a genuinely free market...” LeftLibertarian2.266 CHAPTER 7. and repeat business depends on one’s reputation in the network.html>.com/group/LeftLibertarian2/message/16883> See also “Contract enforcement consolidation. reputable physicians would probably form medical organizations which would only sanction competent doctors. any man would be free to hang out a shingle and call himself a doctor. but a man whose “treatments” harmed his patients couldn’t stay in business long.

. this is exactly what has happened for kosher 1984). those consumers are fully capable of distinguishing between them (or of choosing retailers who do the job for them). private organic-certifying agencies have arisen. In fact.fee. they will just use another word to market their produce.” The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty 48:11 (November 1998) <http://www. Producers of organic foods that were not genetically modified could still communicate that fact to interested consumers—through labeling. in a 1998 article written fairly early in the move toward federal standards for organic labeling. The large organic-foodstore chains already have established connections with suppliers and certifying agencies. Some have stricter standards than others. Consumers who care about such issues don’t need the force of law in order to obtain the information they want about food products. 17 Morris and Linda Tannehill. Kazman goes on to describe the free market certification regime for kosher foods: In a sense. described the success of voluntary certification in the past: As demand for organic food has grown.”. Robert Axelrod] Potential Building Blocks. 18 Sam Kazman. the same is true of conventional supermarket chains that carry organic products. NETWORKED CERTIFICATION.2. USDA has already announced that its eventual definition will not allow genetically modified foods. With the possible exception of guarding against outright fraud..7. 267 ciation. 49-50. REPUTATIONAL AND VERIFICATION MECHANISMS.asp?aid=3699>.. importance of ongoing rather than one-off relationships. but suppose it had ruled otherwise.. The Market for Liberty (New York: Laissez Faire Books.. each with a different logo.. in the interest of those whose products include bioengineered food. there is little need for government involvement.17 Sam Kazman.. “The Mother of All Food Fights. But to the extent that differences between them really mean something to consumers. Consumers seem capable of sorting things out peacefully. Organic growers themselves are also capable of doing without a cumbersome federal definition. legal compulsion is used more often to suppress free commercial speech... through advertising.18 Game Theory Considerations... or meaningless. “many growers say that if certified organic becomes too difficult. Information that groups of consumers want will make its way to them without legal compulsion. and some may have standards and enforcement practices so lenient that they are practically meaningless.. by prohibiting the labeling of GMO-free products. According to one organic-farming newsletter... and even through private organic-certification systems that make a point of prohibiting bioengineered products. pp. The lack of any pressing necessity for [government] involvement is clear. [Cooperative versus defecting strategies for Prisoner’s Dilemma.. tit-for-tat. For [those concerned about the strictness of the standard met by the product] there are competing rabbinical inspection boards.

between buyers and sellers. fairs. and forever?19 [Reread de Ugarte – networked reputational mechanisms] Pierre Omidyar originally founded eBay on the assumption that “people are basically good”. etc. promptness. with consumers checking products against the database by simply scanning a product bar code with a smart phone application. pp. and Kate Lockwood.] [Personal reputation rating tags in Suarez’s Darknet. 19 David de Ugarte. Here Comes Everybody. originally based on the experience of mutual support and exile. THE DESKTOP LICENSING BOARD [Material from C4SS Communal Property on services rendered by guilds] As we saw in the previous chapter. in Western Islam)” as anticipating the reputational mechanisms in a phyle: These merchants would set up shop in Al-Andalus and the Maghreb as well as in the emergent Italian republics. so many transactions had involved cheating that he introduced a reputation system based on mutual reviews for honesty.ratedpeople. in the Christian Mediterranean.. discouraged treason even if commercial relationships were not expected to last. 177. Phyles. capitalising on a significant part of interregional trade.. Down and Out in the Magical Kingdom] There’s break potential for activist organizations to compile databases of corporate misbehavior. with the entire network. David de Ugarte cites tenth century “Jewish merchants in the Maghreb (that is.2 (2006): 79-101. p. and in general. John Swanson. within weeks. Maghribi Jews constituted an identitarian community.. 284. One step in this direction is Boycott SOPA. Richard Zeckhauser. p. that is. This internal operation raised costs for any possible new member who wanted to cheat another member or abuse his trust.” Experimental Economics 9.. in which some members worked as agents for other members in dozens of European ports. They established a dense social network. “The Value of Representation on eBay: A Controlled Experiment. A distinct. 20 Shirky. Who would want to lose the chance of working and trading with his own people. “to cast the shadow of the future over both parties.. to reduce transaction costs and the need for extended and complex regulations.268 CHAPTER 7. giving each an incentive to maintain or improve their standing on the site. 21 Shirky.”21 [Paul Resnick. and fluently shared the information. 128-129. Cognitive Surplus. among them. What [Avner] Greif points out is that the identity shared by this etc.. as agents. increasingly dense group culture contributed. in Clay Shirky’s words. http://www. . [Amazon] [Angie’s list. and markets. They preferably hired other members of the network. an Android app that scans barcodes and tells you whether an object’s manufacturer/publisher is a supporter of the much maligned Stop Online Piracy Act. previously tested.20 It was designed. for after all they constituted a distributed and dense network. aware of sharing a common economic metabolism.

.extremetech. 2012 <http://www. . 2012] 22 Sebastian Anthony. though: Really. we could do this right now with the tech we have.The idea is that you should scan everything that you buy at the supermarket. Imagine if you could scan a cereal box and find out that the company’s CEO likes to hunt rhinos. It’s a very grandiose idea. movies. the developers of Boycott SOPA have given us a tantalizing hint of how technology empowers>. if you want to stick it to publishers or artists that refuse to make their songs available on Spotify. REPUTATIONAL AND VERIFICATION MECHANISMS. .” Much to my chagrin. and games — products that are protected by massively militant groups like the MPAA. so that you can point your phone at a Senator’s face on the TV and quickly find out whether what he’s saying actually jibes with his real world behavior and voting record. it’s all about scanning books. You could even take it one step further and make Boycott the onestop-shop for all of your political needs. on the other hand.22 [Last modified January 20. Boycott SOPA fits right in. and BSA who are spending millions on buying off Representatives to shoehorn SOPA through Congress. NETWORKED CERTIFICATION. ride elephants. Imagine if you could scan a video game box and immediately see all of the active legislation. does not.. “Boycott SOPA: An Android app that terrifies publishers and politicians.2. If you ever needed a sign from Above that you ought to drink more. or a green tick if it’s “clean. and how much money they’ve received from industry lobbying. Boycott SOPA works in exactly the same way: First you have to install the ZXing Barcode Scanner app. 269 If you’ve ever scanned a barcode on your Android phone to look up a book or CD on Amazon. and in a day and age where shoppers regularly eschew a selection of products on principle (“damn babykilling multinationals!”). Inadvertently.. and refuse to put any SOPA-backed products into your basket. there it is. If you had a personal beef with Coca-Cola — which has very long tendrils indeed — you could program the app to pick up anything produced by Coca-Cola and its manifold subsidiaries. CDs.” ExtremeTech. but then you simply go around pointing your phone’s camera at product barcodes. you could tell Boycott to block them. January 9. and eat shark fin soup — at the same time. Scanning food isn’t really where Boycott SOPA is at. the Representative sponsors and supporters. RIAA.” Imagine if there was an Android app that let you boycott whatever you wanted. This isn’t a futuristic concept.. Imagine for a second if you chopped “SOPA” from the name of the app and simply called it “Boycott. or buy entirely local produce. You could even go as far as equipping the app with facial recognition. Likewise. though.7. Coca-Cola supports SOPA — but Smirnoff. Boycott SOPA gives you a big red cross if the product is distributed by a SOPA supporter.


lie in corporate management’s need for stable control of the production process.) to regulate other large. under Wagner. to a large extent continued the same functions performed by company unions under the American Plan. hierarchical institutions (bureaucratic unions run by the labor establishment. as in all the other examples of “countervailing power” examined in this book. and required concessions from management they’d have preferred to do without in an ideal world. in the Wagner Act. slowdowns. And given the long planning horizons of the “technostructure” (as described by John Kenneth Galbraith)1 and the vulnerability to output disruptions in industries where idle capacity was an enormous source of cost. was that the relationship between institutions was at least as much collusive as it was countervailing. the protection of worker rights has centered on the use of large. capital-intensive. Corporate management enlisted the labor bureaucracy as a junior member of the ruling class. But the single most important function of the New Deal labor accord. etc. in order to provide social stability in the workplace. was to enlist the union leadership into enforcing contracts against wildcat strikes and other disruptions by its own rank-and-file. labor costs were a comparatively modest part of total unit costs. 271 . a grievance process and seniority-based job security in return for an end to wildcat strikes. The central principle of the labor pact was “let management manage. hierarchical institutions (corporations) and limit their power.” 1 John Kenneth Galbraith.Chapter 8 The Open Source Labor Board For some eighty years. The New Deal business coalition centered on large. from the standpoint of American capitalism. it was in the interest of such companies to trade productivity-based wage increases. OSHA. The Wagner regime was no doubt undertaken in response to pressure from such labor action. massproduction industry. Indeed the origins of the New Deal labor pact. The domesticated industrial unions of the CIO. walkouts and sitdowns. For such industries. And labor definitely got something in return. The problem. since the New Deal labor accord. labor boards. The New Industrial State (New York: Signet Books. 1967).

Here “sabotage” is used in the broad sense of “deliberate withdrawal of efficiency. It should be noted that the I. coined the apt phrase “Staying in on Strike” as an alternative to going out on strike to be starved... Management did have to trade something for stability and a free hand. Direct action. Passmore. without giving the boss a chance to hire scabs. no longer endorses this pamphlet in its original form. and reproduces only a heavily toned down version at its website.0. the “work to rule” strike."3 A radical British workers’ daily. union bureaucrats. unannounced strikes at random intervals).J. It has disavowed portions of the pamphlet—particularly.” As that pamphlet argues. when. 4 Ibid. by definition. by a little intelligent use of sabotage. or high-priced lawyers. the Daily Herald. “How to Fire Your Boss” recommends such forms of direct action as the slowdown. with their large financial reserves. because corporate America has decided these past thirty years or so that the New Deal labor accord no longer suits its needs. on the job.4 2 “How to Fire Your Boss: A Worker’s Guide to Direct Action” <http://home. England: Spokesman Books. p. addressed a branch meeting of the Amalgamated Society of Railroad Servants: “How foolish it is to go on strike. who can starve us into subjection. These are all ways of raising costs on the job. centered on the kinds of activity mentioned in the old Wobbly pamphlet “How to Fire Your Boss.htm>. thus placing ourselves in the power of the companies. And worst of all.. and unionized industries are extorting harsh concessions from surviving unions lest they close the remaining plants and shift production overseas. the section on industrial sabotage—in recent years. perhaps understandably given the potential use of “counter-terrorism” powers against radical unions." . London organizer for the Industrial Syndicalist Education League. 36. p. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD As I said. 1977).. selective strikes (brief. a long walk-out only gives the boss a chance to replace striking workers with a scab (replacement) workforce. The bosses. Union-busting is the order of the day. you can cripple the boss without giving some scab the opportunity to take your job. 8. which could be characterized as a form of asymmetric warfare within the workplace. we could obtain our ends. are better able to withstand a long drawn-out strike than the workers.W. and sick-ins. means those tactics workers can undertake themselves. This suggests we need a new model for labor relations. &c.2 Instead of conventional strikes. private sector union membership has shrunk to record lows. Workers are far more effective when they take direct action while still on the job. the advantages of job security and middle class wages for workers were real. But that’s beside the point.. Sabotage: A Study of Industrial Conflict (Nottingham.272 CHAPTER 8.interlog. By deliberately reducing the boss’ profits while continuing to collect˜gilgames/boss. 3 Quoted in Geoff Brown. whistleblowing. without the help of government agencies. the “good work” strike. the conventional strike in its current form is about the least effective form of action available to organized labor.1 Historic Models The model of labor struggle before Wagner.W. P. 28.

though sometimes long afterward. not the union. <http://www. The tactic was particularly prevalent during peak periods of union organization. for example. declared the new organization open to the membership of any “seven wage workers of good character. but a complement to these earlier forms of direct action. 6 Buss. typically migrating to one or another international union. adopted at its founding in 1886.” .6 Joel Rogers and Richard Freeman argue for minority unionism under the term “Open Source Unionism": The first constitution of the American Federation of AlexisBuss102002. and of early industrial unions like the mineworkers and steelworkers. The tactics used by workers before Wagner included what former I. such as the turn of the twentieth century and again in the AlexisBuss122002.. General Secretary-Treasurer Alexis Buss called “minority unionism. 5 Alexis Buss.273 Networked resistance isn’t a replacement.iww.W.. The networked asymmetric warfare model can incorporate such earlier forms of direct action into a higher synthesis. We need to create situations where bosses will offer us concessions to get our cooperation.” Tens of thousands of such groups applied for and received direct affiliation with the national federation--afterward. Such nonmajority unions were critical to organizing new sectors of American industry. Make them beg for It. During these periods another union formation was also widespread: “minority” or “members only” unions.W..[W]e need to break out of the current model.. Minority unionism happens on our own terms.iww... one that has come to rely on a recipe increasingly difficult to prepare: a majority of workers vote a union in..5 How are we going to get off of this road? We must stop making gaining legal recognition and a contract the point of our organizing. Minority Unionism. <http://www. “Minority Report. a contract is bargained. which offered representation to workers without a demonstrated pro-union majority at their worksite..shtml>. was achieved through such minority unions.” Industrial Worker. providing a union presence in the workplace well before an employer recognized a collective-bargaining unit.shtml>. want the contract. and not members of any body affiliated with this Federation. and favorable to Trade Unions. The labor movement was not built through majority unionism—it couldn’t have been. We have to bring about a situation where the bosses.. Most of the early organizing of the industrial trades. October December 2002 2002 . regardless of legal recognition..” Industrial Worker. when workers who did not fit well into their established forms sought to join unions. We need to return to the sort of rank-and-file on-the-job agitating that won the 8-hour day and built unions as a vital force. “Minority Report.

Over the past half-century. unions can communicate with an ever-expanding number of new members. What is needed is a larger transformation in strategy that would change the broader balance of forces in the organizing equation by getting a lot more workers into the labor movement. unions effectively abandoned both “direct affiliation” and “minority unionism” as common practices. by contrast. union membership has come to mean membership in an organization that has demonstrated majority support among workers at a particular worksite.. but would otherwise be normal union members. while complementing the traditional powers that labor still retains. and the success of the union drive is typically determined by the level of employer resistance. Under the current model.274 CHAPTER 8. and they can deliver all manner of services to them through the Internet. and they are uninterested in workers who have no plausible near-term chance of such success. Opening up to these new members would entail some administrative challenges. union membership has come to mean membership in an organization that has demonstrated majority support among workers at a particular worksite. workers typically become union members only when unions gain majority support at a particular workplace.. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD After World War II. These “premajority” workers would presumably pay reduced dues in the absence of the benefits of collective bargaining.. This makes the union the exclusive representative of those workers for purposes of collective bargaining. Many unionists will worry about the cost of servicing workers outside union security clauses and regular dues collection by employers. But the economics of the Internet have changed this cost equation in fundamental ways. Getting to majority status—in the trade. At essentially zero marginal cost. To clarify the direction we believe labor should go. however. “50 percent + 1”—is a struggle.. Over the past half-century. unions would welcome members even before they achieved majority status.. unions effectively abandoned both “direct affiliation” and “minority unionism” as common practices. and spreading labor’s influence more widely in society. Labor needs to open itself up. OSU would accomplish that. recognized by an employer as the exclusive representative of workers for purposes of collective bargaining. Unions usually abandon workers who are unsuccessful in their fight to achieve majority status. and stick with them as they fought for it--maybe for a very long time.. recognized by an employer as the exclusive representative of workers for purposes of collective bargaining. let’s contrast the proposed open-source union model more explicitly with the existing one. The law barely punishes employers who violate it. however.. A labor movement that embraced this vision—taking its own historical lessons with diversified membership seriously and relying more heavily on the Internet in membership communication and servicing—would be practicing what we call “open-source unionism” (OSU). They would gain some of the bread-and-butter ben- . After World War II. Under open-source unionism...

There would be traditional employer-specific unions. informal minority locals in the workplace. Joining the labor movement would be something you did for a long time. Freeman. they might gain a collective contract for union members. constituencies organized around interests not best expressed through work or even class (here think environmental. political representation. labor as a whole would likely have a more pronounced “social” face. Within any of these boundaries. The networked organization can provide platforms. But under OSU. or grow to the point of being able to force a wall-to-wall agreement for all workers in the unit. and offers to realize its full potential when mated to network organization. access to training and so on. Another idea. but there would likely be more cross-employer professional sorts of union formations and more geographically defined ones. The Wal-Mart Workers’ Association and the Coalition of Imolakee Workers—is a perfect complement to non-certified. . “Associate membership” is a mechanism for delivering some services to workers who are not in a bargaining unit represented by a union. which is traditionally the singular goal of organizing. the goal of OSU would not be collective bargaining per se but broader worker influence over the terms and conditions of work and working life. protection of pension holdings. to expire when that job expired or changed. toolkits and support for the locals. And even in minority positions. “A Proposal to American Labor. June 6. As a result. diversity or work/family concerns)-that might support them in this work. “associate membership. would not be the defining criterion for achieving or losing membership.” is closely related to minority unionism. Because OSU unions would typically have less clout inside firms or with particular employers. The kinds of networked labor organization made possible by the Internet and following the “Netwar” model described by Arquilla and Ronfeldt—>. The Social Services Model. bargaining over wages and working conditions if feasible. such an agreement.thenation.7 Unions existed before the NLRB was even a gleam in FDR’s eye. It has been made available to prounion workers in a failed election. and can function in the workplace as bargaining agents exactly the same way they did then without NLRB certification.275 efits of traditional unionism--advice and support on their legal rights. 2002 <http://www. and workers in antiunion settings who want some “personal affiliation with or7 Joel Rogers and Richard B. feminist. not just an organizational relationship you entered into with a third party upon taking some particular job. OSU would engage a range of workers in different states of organization rather than discrete majorities of workers in collectivebargaining agreements. career guidance. They would be more open to alliance with nonlabor forces--community forces of various kinds. former union members who want to continue their affiliation with the union. they would probably be more concerned than traditional unionism with the political and policy environment surrounding their employers and employment settings.” The Nation.

to including the so-called “precariat” in its membership and offering services that are valuable to workers whether they are currently employed or unemployed.10 The social services model might include offering cheap mutual health insurance not only to job-based union members. The Future of the American Labor Movement (Cambridge University Press. pp. 76-77. Vt.: Ashgate Publishing Limited. and one of the primary means by which workers could take control of their own lives. Under the present conventional model. 11 Charles Johnson. they would do so by offering insurance and other services. before the rise of the welfare bureaucracy.. Some writers on labor issues have argued that unions should shift their focus to attracting memberships on an individual basis. Machan. 10 Wheeler.. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD Organized labor. defending an ever-shrinking portion of the workforce in the face of continued downsizings and plant closings. without depending on either bosses or bureaucrats. whether it be in bargaining units with no certified union or among the unemployed.” in Roderick T.” New Unionism Blog. Charles Johnson stresses the importance... Solidarity: Toward a Dialectical Anarchism. 8 Hoyt Wheeler.9 When combined with the networked or socially-based organization model discussed below. of such self-organized mutual aid: It’s likely also that networks of voluntary aid organizations would be strategically important to individual flourishing in a free society. p. in which there would be no expropriative welfare bureaucracy for people living with poverty or precarity to fall back on. “Liberty.”8 CHAPTER 8. full-time paid employment) as its primary constituency.wordpress. UK. but to individual. The Future of the American Labor Movement. under this model. may be essential for a flourishing free society. unionism pursues a model of retreat and encirclement.>. 9 Peter Hall-Jones. 77. “Precariat meet’n’greet. 2008). solidaritarian spirit of the independent unions and mutual aid societies that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” It is also “a step back toward a preindustrial concept of unions as fraternal and benefit organizations. might credibly threaten employers with encirclement. would shift from seeing the dwindling and increasingly marginalized industrial workforce (those in formal. .276 ganized labor. 2009<http://newunionism. associate membership encourages workers “to think of labor as a social support movement or a citizens’ movement. A model of unionism that served the much larger constituency of unemployed and members in non-unionized workplaces. as well as using direct-marketing techniques to appeal directly to workers outside of existing certified locals.11 One possibility is the resurrection of the guild as a basis for organizing mutual aid. 2002). Quoted from textfile provided by author. Long and Tibor R. eds. Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? (Hampshire.. Projects reviving the bottom-up. from the standpoint of worker independence and bargaining strength. and Burlington. socially-based members in workplaces without certified union locals. Some novel approaches in this direction might include organizing unions of freelance workers and the self-employed. November 22. on the other hand.

labor unions. Imagine an extended version of this arrangement.. 13 Ibid. which offered loans and training to their members and as well as arrangements for pooling risk and income as a hedge against contingencies like unemployment. His proposals involve providing a stable organizational home for workers. Dishwashers might want a minimumwage increase and paid sick leave.. pp. signify to the world the capabilities of their workers. but in an age of declining union membership. banding together to improve their working conditions. professional training. underemployment. 87-88. In other ways. sickness and death. The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization.. 12 Thomas W. in exchange for a benefits fund premium amounting to 30 percent of base pay. pp. improved conditions might mean higher reimbursements from health insurers. temp agencies. helping craft workers progress from apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman. among other existing organizations. . it is an old idea: Workers in the same field. etc. as we shall see in the section below on worker cooperatives. In some ways. it is a new twist on worker advocacy. Your Management Style. Restaurant Opportunities Centers as example of guild organization for precariat.12 Malone sees the modern-day guilds arising from professional societies. For doctors. in exploring the implications of a free-agency economy of independent contractors. with continuity in meeting their needs as they “move from job to job and project to project.. As a contemporary example he takes the Screen Actors Guild. by assigning job titles and other kinds of credentials. 84-87.. which offers full health benefits even to unemployed members. related to the mission of labor unions. generous pensions. Companies have also traditionally helped their employees learn skills and.277 Thomas Malone discusses such possibilities at considerable length in The Future of Work. 2004). in which members pay a fraction of their income to a guild in good times in return for a guaranteed minimum income in bad times.13 The kinds of income-pooling and risk-pooling functions that Malone proposes for guilds are likely to take on growing importance in a time of increasing unemployment and underemployment. for instance. and alumni associations. and Your Life (Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Malone. Lawyers and doctors. Unions have also had similar functions for years. have professional societies that establish and monitor the credentials of practitioners and provide continuing educational opportunities. whether they be doctors in the American Medical Association or Windows on the World dishwashers joining something called the Restaurant Opportunities Center.” He bases his proposal for fraternal organizations or associations on the medieval guild. These kinds of services could also be provided by guilds.

Classes will be free to Philly ROC members. The group immediately joined the effort to pass a paid sickleave law in Philadelphia. pay $5 monthly membership dues. when Hurricane Katrina blew away New Orleans’ tourist industry. the organization that now runs Colors as a worker-owned restaurant. after about six months. "The alternative is to negotiate a floor for the whole occupation. suddenly jobless. Unions tend to represent restaurant workers in larger entities. that assistance ended. from government workforce training grants.” he said. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD "I think it is the future of the labor movement. After the news media picked up the story. in 2005. which began in March and now has about 30 members. among other cities. and in New York. hope to also line up discounted medical and legal services for members. the way a union might be through a collective-bargaining contract.278 CHAPTER 8. "It’s really tough for unions to organize these workplaces that are really small and where there’s a lot of turnover. the Restaurant Opportunities Center. workers from there contacted New York’s ROC to help them build a similar organization in the Big Easy. such as Windows. the Philadelphia Restaurant Opportunities Center. Rodriguez could be described as a labor entrepreneur. That became the goal of Windows workers who survived the terrorist attacks. helped them organize their own group. Philly ROC will begin classes to teach members the skills they need to move from low-paying kitchen work to higher-paid front-of-the-house jobs such as serving or bartending. the 350 surviving Windows employees. Initially. who. But many restaurants have just a handful of employees.” said Lonnie Golden. co-coordinator of Philly ROC. Instead Unite Here Local 100. a former sous chef in various Stephen Starr restaurants. In the lexicon of labor studies. were helped by their union. But. Rodriguez and co-coordinator Andrea Lemoins. After all. if they are employed in the restaurant business. the fledgling organization was flooded with calls from restaurant employees who wanted help with their work issues. Now there are ROCs in Washington and Detroit. Next month. which employed hundreds. They are not tied to a specific employer. The national organiza- .” said Fabricio Rodriguez. Then. Funding comes from dues. from foundations. a professor of economic and labor studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Abington campus. The group protested when the former Windows owner tried to open a nonunion restaurant. these workers were no longer employed in a union restaurant. organizations such as Philly ROC are known as worker centers. He founded the union that now represents security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

philly. • The families of current union members.14 The guild model is ideal for the exercise of bargaining rights by the precariat..” In order to do this. • Contractors and workers in remote areas and small towns who don’t currently have access to a union. employment agreements and sexual harassment”. . which is a Maori word a suggesting something more like “extended family”.” New Unionism Blog. sectoral and strategic lines. In particular. with the establishment unions and the progressive state together guaranteeing universal employment. von Bergen. help with issues like workplace bullying. it aims to bring together: • People on casual contracts. was focused on “jobs” as the normal means of support. 2011. underemployment and a two-tier labor force cast doubt on the continuing relevance of this model. Membership costs just $NZ 1 per week. productivity-based wage increases. The mainstream organized labor model. (One kiwi dollar is equivalent to about $US0. which emerged from the Wagner regime and the Consensus Capitalism of the mid-20th century. • Those in industries like>. Together is a national service that is being developed for the “precariat” — that rapidly growing cohort of workers who do not fit into the standard labourist model of industrial capitalism. “Workers find a new way to organize. cousins. for instance.. In the NZ Council of Trade Union’s own words: “Together aims to connect workers in un-unionised work places with the union movement and the union experience. Family membership is also on offer. uncles and aunts. nephews and nieces and grandchildren. But increasing trends toward permanent structural>. 2011 <http://articles. sick leave. . holiday>. 15 <http://www. “Together at Last.. the word they use here is “wh¯nau”.15 Worker Cooperatives.together. with affiliates’ buy-in. or driving taxis. it provides “. <http://newunionism.wordpress.87 or £UK0. July 24. The labor movement needs to broaden its focus beyond jobs to encompass all means of strengthening labor’s bargaining power against 14 Jane M. So. which is roughly 20% of typical union fees in New Zealand. In New Zealand. if mum or dad is a union member. the Together movement enlists workers from the precariat who are not represented in conventionally organized workplaces. bringing a still larger audience back into unionism’s traditional orbit.53 or ¥68). . it cuts across regional. they can also arrange union support for their children.279 tion is bankrolling the Philadelphia operation for a few years. In fact.” Philadelphia Inquirer. July tourism or in small shops. and an employer-based welfare state. Because it is being developed at the national level.

artisan laborers could walk out and essentially take the firm with them in all but name. and Philadelphia. formed a cooperative (with the ten-hour day they sought) and undercut their master’s price by 25%.18 This was a common pattern in early labor history. 1806. The use of the social economy as a base for independence from wage employment has a venerable history. Cooperative Movements. In 1768 twenty striking journeyman tailors in New York. the majority of the population was relegated to wage labor with machinery owned by someone else. 20 Ibid. In the artisan manufactories that prevailed into the early 19th century. p. crowdsourced credit and the implosion of capital outlays required for physical production. P. From the beginning. “[n]ot only did the benefit societies on occasion extend their activities to the building of social clubs or alms-houses. 47. Curl. in many ways. the first striking wage-workers in American history. 4 18 Ibid. 1794. there are also a number of instances of pre-Owenite trade unions when on strike. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD capital—especially increasing the share of subsistence needs labor can meet independently of wage employment. they disbanded the cooperative when they went back to work.17 Like the Owenite trade union cooperatives in Britain.. Thompson. Journeyman carpenters striking for a ten-hour day in Philadelphia. set up their own cooperative shop. 790. and Communalism in America (Oakland. CA: PM Press. in 1761. p. worker cooperatives were a frequent resort of striking workers. The same was done by shoemakers in Baltimore. For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation. pp. 34. taken together."16 The first major wave of worker cooperatives in the United States. are recreating the same conditions that made artisan cooperatives feasible in the days before the factory system. the rise of factory production with expensive machinery had largely put an end to this possibility. Likewise. 35. today. employing their own members and marketing the product. most of the physical capital required for production was owned by the work force. was under the auspices of the National Trades’ Union in the 1830s. According to E. . the collapse of capital outlay requirements for producMaking of the English Working Class. 2009).20 The worker cooperatives organized in the era of artisan labor paralleled.. p. As the prerequisites of production became increasingly unaffordable.. and the organization of cooperatives moved from being purely a strike tactic to providing an alternative to wage labor. p. and to encourage production for barter networks among unemployed workers. 17 John 16 Thompson. 19 Ibid. they were mostly undertaken in craft employments for which the basic tools of the trade were relatively inexpensive. the forms of work organization that are arising today. 33. By the 1840s. One possible means of doing this is for radical networked unions to organize worker cooperatives. Networked organization.280 CHAPTER 8.19 It was feasible because most forms of production were done by groups of artisan laborers using hand tools. according to John Curl.

garage power tools. Networked organization of the sort described by Arquilla and Ronfeldt. Current technological changes amount to a singularity in which it is becoming impossible for capital to prevent a shift in the supply of an increasing proportion of the necessities of life from mass produced goods purchased with wages.” leaving their former employers as little more than hollow shells. Unions might sponsor small.) has created a situation in which human capital is the source of most book value for many firms. Saul Alinsky’s community organizing model is a good example. So the network effects of association for barter would increase the total value of household production capability. independent workshops. 8. babysitting. open possibilities for reviving worker cooperatives as a tool of labor resistance that existed before the triumph of the factory system. to small-scale production in the informal and household sector and in low-overhead microenterprises of all kinds. sewing machines. in which laid-off or unemployed workers could reduce their dependence on wage labor by producing directly for consumption or barter. perhaps within union-sponsored networks. woodworking or metal shop skills. a major part of what we consume could be produced using the spare capacity of producer goods and skills already possessed in the households of the unemployed and underemployed. desktop publishing. sewing. They might also put household producers in touch with one another to match up skills with consumption needs within barter networks. and cars which might provide transportation to neighbors.0. If the spare capacity of such machinery and skills were used for production for barter with other households. consequently.281 tion in the cultural and information fields (software. Most households possess producer goods like kitchen appliances. is simply the same phenomenon on steroids. Organization of production for barter by the unemployed or underemployed. as well as members with cooking. When .2 Networked Labor Struggle Broad-based coalitions have been employed by various social justice movements for decades. rototillers and gardening implements. and the shift from expensive machinery back to affordable general-purpose tools as the primary form of physical capital. And the productive capacity of such machinery and skills is typically far beyond the consumption needs of the individual household. hairdressing. is another idea that falls under the headings of both social services and worker cooperatives. Workers who barter babysitting time with the neighbor need a lot less work time than those who spend half their paychecks on daycare. The growing importance of human capital relative to physical capital as a source of equity and revenue streams. equipped with affordable tools. music. And labor unions are a promising platform for organizing such network effects. The effect on the bargaining power of workers vis-a-vis wage employers should be obvious. workers are able to walk out with their human capital and form “breakaway firms. etc. made possible by the Internet.

In 1997. Networked organizations can offer support services to a variety of minority locals and cooperatives on a modular basis. the union uses the community as a whole as its power base. The networks can serve as the vehicle for offering standard packages of low-cost insurance to affiliated locals and cooperatives and small workshops. in The Future of the American Labor Movement.21 Parallel to the social services model of serving members who are not part of a certified union in their workplace. labor must transform itself into a voice speaking mainly for these expansive constituencies who are not already American union members. But they were also more. providing specialized help to startup cooperatives. unions can organize outside the workplace and network with other organizations in society at large in order to bring pressure to bear on employers. over a decade ago: The real constituency of the new labor movement [AFL-CIO chief John] Sweeney envisions is the American public as a whole.23 Their motto. p. Charles Derber wrote.. 1998). 22 Ibid. As the old social contract unravels. 291. Their Local Assemblies served as umbrella organizations for social justice and reform movements in each community. Corporation Nation: How Corporations are Taking Over Our Lives and What We Can Do About It (New York: St. The Future of the American Labor Movement. for example. “An injury to one is the concern of all. the social services model. worker cooperatives—can all achieve a higher synergy by coordinating their mutual support through networked organizations and using platforms based on such organizations. it offers to increase their impact enormously. which is at least as much socially-based as workplace-based. In France. One partial suggestion for the form a networked labor movement might take is the French model of unionism. p.. treats the Knights of Labor as the paradigmatic case of this form of organization. 21 Charlers Derber. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD integrated into earlier models of direct action. p. and having as their main purpose collective bargaining with their employers. Ironically. 59. a majority of the French population virtually closed down the country in support of transportation workers’ efforts to protect retirement and vacation benefits. this will be the most effective way to service its own dues-paying members. 23 Hoyt Wheeler.282 CHAPTER 8. Beyond organizing new members. Martin’s Griffin. The other models mentioned above—minority unionism. as well as coordinating media swarming in support of local struggles. negotiating with suppliers and providing marketing outlets. etc. but the French people as a whole support union work stoppages to protect wages or benefits. as well as workers in the third world. . the great majority of those in jeopardy are not American union members but unrepresented American workers. as well as workers throughout the world. In this model. 22 Hoyt Wheeler. less than 10 percent of the workforce is in unions. then the Knights were less than a union. 101. organizing barter networks and currency systems for trade between members.” is especially meaningful in this light. If a union is a collection of local bodies comprising the majority of workers in their workplaces.

It was used by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in their 1976 campaign against J. We will see below. they also began as an umbrella organization of labor and social justice groups. for instance. 78-79. the Western Federation of Miners. 26 Ibid. founding convention to order in 1905. in any bargaining unit in the United States.W. Workers’ main bargaining agent may not be a certified union in their own 24 Ibid.283 Although the Wobblies.24 At a time when only a small fraction of private sector workers still belong to certified workplace unions. but specifically in support of labor disputes. p.27 This was at a time when campaigns like Kernaghan’s were in their early ascendancy.. put more emphasis on workplace organizing.” Directors. in support of a strike. 25 Ibid. the mutual moral support of a number of highprofile community organizations may be of inestimable value. of L. unions might augment their power within the workplace—or exert power which they altogether lack within workplaces with no certified bargaining agent—by putting together a coalition of civil rights and social justice organizations. when organizing a conventional union is more difficult than it’s been in decades. Like the isolated individual worker or group of workers within the workplace planning a campaign of open-mouth sabotage against their employer. clergy. 79. the radical priest Fr. the Socialist Party USA. who borrowed the K. the “associates” have been quite successful at organized open-mouth sabotage through Wake Up Wal-Mart and similar activist organizations. the larger labor movement. or in place of a strike.. Stevens. how effective the public information campaign was against Wal-Mart’s “open availability” policy.. For example. Wheeler wrote in 2002 that the corporate campaign had declined in importance.P.. and before the Coalition of Imolakee Workers conducted one of the most effective corporate campaigns in history.25 The third item is of special relevance to us today. before the Wal-Mart Workers’ Association. Thomas Haggerty. etc. pp. Corporate campaigns can be used in conjunction with an organizing campaign. although Wal-Mart workers are not represented by NLRB-certified unions. . lenders. pp. Today. and other business associates are targeted with a view to inflicting maximum public embarrassment. and the all-around moral authority Mary “Mother” Jones.26 Ironically. the corporate campaign is “based upon extensive research on a company to identify fruitful pressure points. motto. the Socialist Labor Party. p. This is sometimes referred to as the “corporate campaign.. in the employer’s community.W. 60-61. When Big Bill Haywood gaveled the I. 79.” It’s essentially the “culture jamming” used by activists like Charles Kernaghan.” It included representatives of the American Railway Union. 27 Ibid. The kinds of open mouth sabotage we consider later on in this chapter are especially well suited to networked organization. he referred to it with some justification as “the Continental Congress of the working class.

are for all intents and purposes unions if one defines a union as an organization of wage-earners who seek to improve their working lives. Central America. entirely a function of the pressure unions have exerted on Wal-Mart—pressure exerted despite the unions having almost no hope of actually unionizing Wal-Mart. and contributed to the company’s focus on greening their stores (they needed good press to counteract all the bad). and they are extremely poor (most tomato pickers live on about $7. they do not do what we usually think of unions as doing—engage in collective bargaining.. However. 31 Ezra Klein.S. they work at many different sites spread out anywhere from 10–100 miles from their homes. This is. Reproduced at Infoshop. the C. Organized Labor has expended tens of millions of dollars over the past few years on this campaign. drove [sic] them into the “Divided We Fail” health reform coalition. Their weapons are much more likely to be political pressure. 63.000 per year. Wheeler might as well have had them specifically in mind. and while it hasn’t increased union density one iota. “Why Labor Matters. it has given a hundred thousand Wal-Mart workers health insurance. 29 Ibid. January 3. The Wal-Mart Workers’ Association acts as an unofficial union. “Even Without a Union. Florida Wal-Mart Workers Use Collective Action to Enforce Rights. they are pretty near all mestizo.”28 Such labor advocacy groups.” Labor Notes. they often have to move to follow work over the course of the year.infoshop. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD workplace at all. they have to speak at least four different languages amongst themselves. but what Wheeler calls a “workers’ rights group..I.” The American Prospect.29 Although the Wal-Mart Workers’ Association was not in existence at the time he wrote. 2007 <http://www. and publicity.500–$10. November 14. p. nationality.284 CHAPTER 8. of course. many of them have no legal immigration papers. 64.30 As Ezra Klein noted. relying heavily on the open mouth: They are mostly immigrants from Mexico.. or Black. and they have done it as a wildcat union with no recognition from the federal labor bureaup. and has repeatedly obtained concessions from store management teams in several publicity campaigns designed to embarrass and pressure the company.31 Charles Johnson points to the Coalition of Imolakee Workers as an example of an organizing campaign outside the Wagner framework. January 2006. Neither do they ordinarily strike. and language. while they may not meet the standards for an NLRB-certified union. and spend months with little or no work when the harvesting season ends). culture. . through efforts that are nothing short of heroic. spurred Wal-Mart to launch an effort to drive down prescription drug prices. social protest. and across lines of race. and the Caribbean. they have no fixed place of employment and get work from day to day only at the pleasure of the they get no benefits and no overtime. have organized themselves anyway. 28 Ibid.prospect. But in the face of all that. they are often heavily in debt to coyotes or labor sharks for the cost of their travel to the csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=11&year=2007&base_name=why_labor_matters>. Indian. 30 Nick Robinson.W. 2006 <http://www.php?story=20060103065054461>.

. By using creative nonviolent tactics that would be completely illegal if they were subject to the bureaucratic discipline of the Taft-Hartley Act. the dirty tricks were of no>.33 Hoyt Wheeler’s “associative” model of unionism among white collar workers Johnson.I.W. 32 Charles .html>.” May 23. “Coalition of Imolakee Workers marches in Miami. Each individual agreement makes a significant but relatively small increase in the worker’s effective wages. because they realized that they can exercise a lot more leverage against highly visible corporations with brands to protect than they can in dealing with a cartel of government-subsidized vegetable growers that most people outside of southern Florida wouldn’t know from Adam.I. 2008 <http://www. when Burger King caved in. exposing abuses and driving socially responsible purchasing and work practices in the Florida tomato fields. November 30. The C.W. Burger King held out for a while after this.] but each victory won means a concrete increase in wages. the>. and C.285 cracy and little outside help from the organized labor establishment. “Burger King Corp. May 23. which an independent accountant distributed to the pickers at the farm that the restaurant bought from. slick PR. and an easier road to getting the passthrough system adopted industry-wide. Charles Johnson. working conditions and lives.32 As Johnson predicted. 33 Coalition of Immokalee Workers. “¡Sí. and gone up the supply chain to pressure the tomato buyers. which almost doubled the effective piece rate for tomatoes picked for these restaurants.[.” consumer boycotts as extortion. under which participating restaurants agreed to pay a bonus of an additional penny per pound of tomatoes bought. stonewalling. He followed up on this story in May 2008. after the smear campaign and other dirty tricks carried out by the Burger King management team. Se Puede! Victory for the Coalition of Imolakee Workers in the Burger King penny-per-pound campaign. and Coalition of Immokalee Workers to Work Together.. 2007 <http://radgeek.W.” Rad Geek People’s Daily. We apologize for any negative statements about the CIW or its motives previously attributed to BKC or its employees and now realize that those statements were wrong.” Rad Geek People’s Daily. Especially entertaining. and finally even an attempt at federal prosecution for racketeering. has won major victories on wages and conditions over the past two years. was this public statement by BK CEO John Chidsey: We are pleased to now be working together with the CIW to further the common goal of improving Florida tomato farmworkers’ wages.ciw-online. slander (denouncing farm workers as “richer than most minimum-wage workers.’s creative use of moral suasion and secondary boycott tactics have already won them agreements with Taco Bell (in 2005) and then McDonald’s (this past spring). which would in the end nearly double tomato-pickers’ annual income. The CIW has been at the forefront of efforts to improve farm labor conditions. as scam artists). 2008 < They have bypassed the approved channels of collective bargaining between select union reps and the boss. following Taco Bell’s earlier successive strategies of ignoring.I. They established a system for pass-through payments.

grievance procedures and productivity-based wage increases. But those benefits held good only at the height of the Consensus Capitalism labor accord—through the 1970s or so—and have eroded since the corporate ruling class decided it was no longer in its interest to reach an accommodation with the labor establishment. establishment unions have faced one assault after another. it focuses on providing benefits to members as much as a collective voice against the employer. And at a time when the Wagner rules no longer work. This isn’t an abstract or theoretical problem. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD links the network model with the social services model we discussed earlier.34 To the extent that the institutional labor movement is locked into path dependencies in following the Wagner model. networked resistance movements operating outside the established labor movement can be seen as taking up the slack for an increasingly ineffective labor movement. and other forms of non-violent civil disobedience that must inevitably overcome court injunctions and political pressures. and then sold to workers by appealing to benefits like job security. p.286 CHAPTER 8. The Future of the American Labor Movement. The Wagner model was originally created by the state in the primary interest of employers. What’s more. in order to procure social control of the production process. a project labor agreement—or a collective bargaining agreement covering a small percentage of a corporation’s total workforce—can make a union want to veto any demonstrations and actions that might upset its relationship with a particular employer. avoiding any radical action like alliance with foreclosed homeowners and downsized workers that might cut off their supply of crumbs from the table. occupations. when fighting by Wagner rules. 57. and tends to negotiate minimum standards with the employer while leaving members free to negotiate better terms individually. As much a professional association as a conventional union. When it is necessary to promote the members’ collective interests against the employer. being locked into the Wagner system means labor is foreclosed from the most effective means of struggle. we are already living it every day: • In city after city. it is becoming increasingly powerless. the hybrid white collar union/association does so more through negative publicity to pressure the employer than through conventional strikes. the conventional union leadership takes an “eat me last” approach to seeking accommodation with employers. . Unions with hundreds of millions in assets and collective bargaining agreements covering millions of workers won’t risk their treasuries and contracts by engaging in large-scale sit-ins. finds itself at best fighting an organized retreat. • A recent demonstration in the Northeast—against corporations that damage the economy by not paying taxes—ended up taking place in an iso34 Wheeler. As a bargaining unit it is loose and relatively non-bureaucratic. For that reason. That’s what Steven Lerner of the SEIU argues. from Reagan’s breaking of the PATCO strike on. The labor establishment. Since then.

The last thirty years prove that this strategy doesn’t make sense for the remaining unionized workers or the overwhelming majority of workers who aren’t in unions. We need to develop a movement-based organizational model that taps into and builds on union resources—both financial and organizational—but denies unions’ “veto power” over campaign activities. launch. finance. Instead. hopeful. And what was so anti-corporate? In the case of the Ohio demonstrations it was the demand that JP Morgan and other big banks stop foreclosures. if unions have contributed . If our goal is to offend no one. It is understandable that unions don’t want to risk their own relationships with certain employers or politicians. • In Ohio. If our strategy is to turn the tables so workers and regular people feel more secure. because a number of unions feared that a more visible site would offend an employer. where nobody could see it. As the stakes are raised and the intensity of campaigns increases. and renegotiate toxic loans that are bankrupting cities and states. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to connect efforts to destroy public employee unions with the broader economic problems caused by the Big Banks (and the resulting loss of jobs and revenue in Ohio). The unions said the planned demonstrations seemed “too anti-corporate. Taking it a step further. Unions should support. we need a different model. we’re in danger of doing next to nothing. they are able to resist political and employer pressure. if unions cede control and are not able to exercise veto rights. and ultimately engage directly in campaigns based on their comfort level—but they shouldn’t have the ability to control or shut down activity because of legal risk or pressure from an employer or politician. and powerful—and so the elite feels less sure of its control over the country’s politics and the economy—we can’t tamp down momentum when someone wins a victory or gets pressured to back off. As a practical matter. pay their fair share in taxes. But that shouldn’t restrain a broader effort to hold those corporations and politicians accountable. These issues are critical to building a broader movement that engages tens of millions of people from across the political spectrum. the unions unnecessarily chose a narrow path that weakens them in the short and long term. They feared all of this would undercut the passage of a ballot initiative to regain bargaining rights for public employees.” with the potential to turn off independents and buoy conservative fundraising efforts. Unions continue to act as though they represent 30 percent of the private sector workforce and that bargaining for those workers drives wages for the whole economy.287 lated area. a set of unions actively worked against a recent multi-state mobilization at a JP Morgan Chase shareholder meeting. Decisions are made based on how to protect the 7 percent of private sector workers who are unionized (instead of the 93 percent of private sector workers who aren’t in unions). these problems will be magnified. help set up. The solution isn’t to try to defy institutional gravity by convincing people to do something they aren’t willing to do.

” in Ibid. marketing brochure. .35 8.shtml> (originally a Wobbly Pamphlet. “A New Insurgency Can Only Arise Outside the Progressive and Labor Establishment. Consumer industries like restaurants and packing plants are the most vulnerable.36 A central theme of The Cluetrain Manifesto was the potential for frank. or it can be as dramatic as the P. it is reproduced in all its essentials at the I. they lose the ability to shut down activity later. and yourcall-is-important-to-us busy signal. . network technology creates previously unimaginable possibilities for the Wobbly tactic of “open-mouth sabotage. many from the authors’ experience. 36 “How to Fire Your Boss: A Worker’s Guide to Direct Action” <http://www.cluetrain. 37 "Markets are Conversations." “the soothing. 2001) <http://www.&E.W..” in Rick Levine. Whistle Blowing can be as simple as a face-to-face conversation with a customer. 38 "95 theses.aspx?id=1>.288 CHAPTER 8. Far from being a threat to winning smaller fights and victories.html>. Just as Work to Rule puts an end to the usual relaxation of This doesn’t mean individual unions or organizations shouldn’t make settlements that arise in the context of bigger battles.” New Labor Forum. Cluetrain is full of anecdotes. open-ended escalating activity that can’t be shut down is exactly what will force powerful corporate interests to make real concessions.” As described in “How to Fire Your Boss": Sometimes simply telling people the truth about what goes on at work can put a lot of pressure on the boss.37 It characterized the typical corporate voice as “sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence. Christopher Locke.0.. you’ll be gaining the support of the Open-Mouth Sabotage In particular. whose patronage can make or break a business. engineer who revealed that the blueprints to the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor had been reversed. humorless monotone of the mission statement. of employees acting as customer advocates and thereby defusing 35 Stephen Lerner. Whistle Blowing reveals it for all to know. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual (Perseus Books Group. unmediated conversations between employees and customers as a way of building customer relationships and circumventing the consumer’s ingrained habit of blocking out canned corporate messages. they just can’t shut down the broader fight. Waiters can tell their restaurant clients about the various shortcuts and substitutions that go into creating the faux-haute cuisine being served to them. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD money in advance to community organizations. Fall 2011 <http://newlaborforum. as in the case of the Good Work Strike. customers usually respond positively. And Website under the heading of “Effective Strikes and Economic Actions”—although the Wobblies no longer endorse it in its entirety). and offer useful information. Doc Searls and David Weinberger.iww."38 When employees engage customers frankly about the problems they experience with the company’s product.

271. But under the Web 2. employees talk.. For example. It’s just as feasible for the corporation’s workers to talk directly to its customers. We can talk back. well. the possibility of anonymous saturation emailing of the company’s major suppliers and customers and advocacy groups concerned with that industry.. when disgruntled workers see the customer as a potential ally against a common enemy. and for workers and customers together to engage in joint mockery of the company. and the ability to engage in “search engine pessimization” through creative use of semantic tagging. What the Cluetrain authors don’t mention is the potential for and logrolling with directors? As the Cluetrain authors said. not that they wanted to help their company by rescuing it from the tyranny of PR and the official line and winning over customers with a little straight talk—but that they hated the company and that its management was evil? What if. self-dealing on the job. the Internet is a platform in which users are the active party. Given the ease of setting up anonymous blogs and websites (just think of any company and then look up the URL EmployerNameSucks.. “customers talk. and downsizings and speedups have become a normal expectation of working life. from the company’s perspective.. and Internet users as a passive audience. pay-per-use content” in which “publishers. If they go after that image relentlessly and systematically. Web 2. rather than simply responding to a specific problem with what the customer had needed to know. they’d aired all the dirty laundry about management’s asset stripping. as it is for customers alone to do so. In an age when unions have virtually disappeared from the private sector workforce. hollowing out of long-term productive capability. the potential for using comment threads and message boards. gutting of human capital. the vulnerability of employer’s public image may be the one bit of real leverage the worker has over him—and it’s a doozy. they’ve got the boss by the short hairs.. . 39 Tapscott and Williams. of course).” is fundamentally different from the 1990s vision of an “information superhighway” (one-way.”39 Most large corporations still see their websites as sales brochures. The latter was just a more complex version of the old unidirectional hub-and-spoke architecture of the broadcast era—or as Tapscott and Williams put it. “one big content-delivery mechanism—a conveyor belt for prepackaged.0 model. let’s just say the potential for “swarming” and “netwar” is corporate management’s worst nightmare. the “writeable web. p.” But even more important for our purposes. gaming of its own bonuses and stock options. exert control through various digital rights management systems that prevent users from repurposing or redistributing content. Luigi Zingales writes. What would happen if employees decided. It’s already become apparent that corporations are quite vulnerable to bad publicity from dissident shareholders and consumers.289 situations in which customers were frustrated to the point of going ballistic by official arglebargle and runaround.

in the face of organized public criticism.blr.. the phenomenon of “Doocing” (the firing of bloggers for negative commentary on their>. Employers. in any bargaining unit in the United . far worse–that resulted from news of the firing (the term “Doocing” itself comes from Dooce. the name of a blog whose owner was fired).” or “Employer X gets away with treating its customers like shit.” it became a case of tens of millions 40 Luigi Zingales. 1627-1628. lv. pp. notifying the Co-op Board of a co-op apartment he was seeking to buy into of his union-busting activities.40 There’s no reason to doubt that management would be equally vulnerable to embarrassment by such tactics from disgruntled production workers. who fired disgruntled workers out of fear for the bad publicity their blogs might attract.” Starbucks Union <http://www. He paid for a full-page announcement in the Wall Street Journal where he exposed the identities of Sears’ directors.” Business & Labor Reports (Human Resources section). “We do not have any policy that mandates termination.” Dan Fogleman tells the Gazette. in today’s networked world. "It is unfortunate that our store manager incorrectly communicated a message that was not only inaccurate but also disruptive to our associates at the store. For example. It organized a mass email campaign. Corporate headquarters in Bentonville quickly moved.. the Gazette reports. were blindsided by the far worse publicity–far. which publicly embarrassed Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. and exemplified a specialized case of the Streisand Effect. not by means of the norms of the corporate code (his proxy fight failed miserably) but through the pressure of public opinion. 41 "Wal-Mart Nixes ’Open Availability’ Policy. Rather than an insular blog audience of a few hundred reading that “it sucks to work at Employer X. vol. labeling them the “non-performing assets” of Sears. The embarrassment for the directors was so great that they implemented all the changes proposed by Monks. Consider the public relations battle over Wal-Mart “open availability” policy. June 16. no.290 CHAPTER 8. 2005 <http://hr. 42 "Say No to Schultz Mansion Purchase. although Wal-Mart workers are not represented by NLRBcertified unions. to overturn the harsher local policy announced by management in Nitro. “In Search of New Foundations..aspx?id=15666>.42 In late 2004 and 2005."41 Another example is the IWW-affiliated Starbucks union. A corporate spokesperson says the company reversed the store’s decision because Wal-Mart has no policy that calls for the termination of employees who are unable to work certain shifts. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD shareholders’ activist Robert Monks succeeded [in 1995] in initiating some major changes at Sears. 4 (August 2000). West Virginia. or for the expression of other nonapproved opinions on their blogs) began to attract mainstream media attention. the “associates” have been quite successful at organized open-mouth sabotage through Wake Up Wal-Mart and similar activist organizations.” The Journal of Finance.starbucksunion.

44 Jon Husband.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/01/24/BIGCEAT1l01.43 There’s a direct analogy between the Zapatista netwar and asymmetric warfare by labor and other anti-corporate activists. but we actually just keep making more and more noise the more they try to do so. writes of the potential threat network culture and the free flow of information pose to traditional hierarchies. colleagues) not know. Jon Husband.. of Wirearchy blog.. January 25. We have already seen some of that ... For example.DTL>.. clients. “How Hard is This to Understand?” Wirearchy.291 of readers of the major newspapers of record and wire services reading that “Employer X fires blogger for revealing how bad it sucks to work at Employer X. the lasting retrievability of the information posted to the Web. isolating corporate management and exposing it to swarming from an unlimited number of directions. 2007 < _archives/2007/6/22/3040833.sfgate. for the first time since the rise of the giant corporation and the broadcast culture. the digital infrastructure of the Web. Netwarriors choose their own battlefield.” San Francisco Chronicle. distribute and transport information combine to suggest that there are large shifts in power ahead of us. using hyperlinks and web services. interested. The Zapatistas turned an obscure and low-level military confrontation within an isolated province into a global political struggle. ..html>. networked labor activists turn labor disputes within a corporation into society-wide economic. or irresponsible in ways that are not appropriate. disgruntled workers. . June 22.. constituents. They waged their netwar with the Mexican government mostly outside Chiapas... Similarly. “Beware if your blog is related to work. as well. one Pinkerton thug almost directly equates sabotage to the open 43 Todd Wallack. The exchanged-via-hyperlinks-and-web-services information is retrievable.article.wirearchy. Whether it be disgruntled consumers. engaged and articulate people exchange information with each other via the Web. workers and consumers can talk back—and not only is there absolutely no way to shut us up... the basic principles are the same. and the pervasive use of the Web to publish. The corporate world is beginning to perceive the danger of open-mouth sabotage. 2005 <http://www. Often this information.. Smart. the bosses are learning that.. or networked public advocacy organizations. This is the basic notion of transparency (which describes a key facet of the growing awareness of the power of the Web)..[T]he hoarding and protection of sensitive information by hierarchical institutions and powerful people in those institutions is under siege. isolating the authorities and pitting them against the force of world opinion. is about something that someone in a position of power would prefer that other people (citizens.” Again. political and media struggle.44 Of course corporations are not entirely oblivious to these threats. re-usable and when combined with other information (let’s play connect-the-dots here) often shows the person in a position of power to be a liar or a spinner. we will see much more unless the powers that be manage to find ways to control the toings-and-froings on the Web.

. email addresses and other key account holder information.workforce. [w]ith sabotage. “We have had a number of problematic cases where people have chosen to put things online or have shared information on their company email access. there’s definitely an attempt to undermine or disrupt the operation in some way or slander the company. 2009 <http://www.. and on the criminalization of free speech to combat negative publicity. partly because of redundancies or general troubles. Adam Fisher said: “Organisations are suffering quite a lot from rogue employees at the moment.. October 28. According to Darren Donovan. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD mouth. The Cyber Tracing team at Wragge & Co was set up to deal with what the law firm said was a rising problem with people making anonymous statements that defamed companies... there’s a market for corporations that seek to do a Big Brother on anonymous detractors. And Wragge boasted the new team would ensure there was “nowhere to hide in cyberspace”.46 45 Jennifer Kock... and people sharing confidential information online. Birmingham’s largest law firm has launched a new team to track down people who make anonymous comments about companies online.” there is a major focus in the corporate world on identifying whistleblowers and leakers through surveillance technology. “Birmingham Wragge team to focus on online comment defamation. One of the members of the team said redundancies and other reorganisations caused by the recession meant the numbers of disgruntled employees looking to get their own back on employers or former employers was also on the rise.birminghampost. The four-strong team at the Colmore Row firm is a combination of IT litigation and employment law specialists. And if Birmingham Wragge is any indication.. There’s a special nature to sabotage because of the overtness of it—and it can be violent. but it’s harder to replace their .com/archive/features/22/20/88/mdex-printer.45 As suggested by both the interest of a Pinkerton thug and his references to “crime. but it can be different from stealing or fraud. to the near exclusion of all other forms of direct action. A spokeswoman for Wragge said: “Courts can compel Internet Service Providers or telephone service providers to make information available regarding registered names.” Birmingham Post. 46 Tom Scotney..292 CHAPTER 8.. Companies can replace windows and equipment.php>.” He said much of the job involved trying to get Internet Service Providers to give out details of customers who had made comments online... I think that’s what HR execs need to be aware of because it is a crime. “Employee Sabotage: Don’t Be a Target!” <http://www. a vice president of Pinkerton’s eastern consulting and investigations division.

the fist indication of a problem is likely to be splashed across the pages of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. If compliance officers find the Securities and Exchange Commission’s plans to pay a bounty to corporate whistleblowers disconcerting. says that the next target is Corporate America. . an age of>. And he says they could be released to the public en masse this spring or summer. WikiLeaks underscores the ease at which employees can expose massive amounts of internal documents to the public anonymously. containing embarrassing and sensitive details on dealings with world leaders and governments. Instead of stealing boxes of paper documents. in an article tellingly called “Wikileaks: The Other Whistleblower Problem. in fact. If a whistleblower turns to WikiLeaks. they can upload several gigabytes of sensitive data to online comment-defamation-65233-25030203/>. August 11. It’s also starting to dawn on employers that the Wikileaks model. bank. the threat from WikiLeaks is downright terrifying. In numerous interviews Assange has hinted that the site has reams of documents that could be devastating to BP. with a simple click of the mouse. “There is no stopping what is becoming an increasingly transparent world.” eBossWatch.ebosswatch. embassies are still reeling from the massive leak of confidential documents revealed by WikiLeaks last November. Jaclyn Jaeger. 47 “Boss’s Tip of the Week #28: The Internet: How to Keep an Asset from Becoming a Liability (or a Lawsuit).” wrote: WikiLeaks pose a new threat for employers that worry about employees taking their private information public U. the man at the center of the controversial Website. Worse still. If a whistleblower goes to the SEC. So why should corporate compliance officers be concerned? Because Julian Assange.S. and hundreds of other companies. which they can easily slip in their pocket and walk out the door.” says Keith Darcy. 2010 <http://blog.S. "We need to recognize that this is.47 But a much more serious threat to employers is when disgruntled employees vent their anger by making true statements about their employers and disseminate them using the Internet. can be used against them just as easily as against the national security state. A former CFO was accused of posting messages that his employer’s future was “uncertain and unstable” on an investment message board. executive director of the Ethics Compliance and Officer Association.293 The eBossWatch “Boss’s Tip of the Day” for August 11. An Internet post falsely claimed that electronic greeting cards made by Blue Mountain Arts contain a virus that destroys the recipient’s computer system when they’re opened. an unnamed large U." More than anything. 2010 warned against the possibility of employees using the Internet for “cyberlibel": • Cyberlibel: Disgruntled employees vent their anger by making false and harmful statements about their employers and disseminate them using the Internet. specifically. the first notice of a problem will be when a government investigator comes knocking. employees today only need a thumb drive.

is that before you can waterboard open-mouth saboteurs at Gitmo you’ve got to catch them first. “One hopes that companies can operate without the paranoia of how it may appear on WikiLeaks.” says Even more interestingly. “The burden is on us to make sure when people speak to us internally that we act as quickly as possible to resolve and settle those investigations. Whistleblowers will often report a problem internally before they go to authorities if they feel like the company won’t retaliate against them. 2011 <http://www.” Darcy says.294 CHAPTER 8.” In other words."49 As we already noted. Even in the early days of the Internet. Or that they’ll change the way they operate. And as we saw earlier in reference to the Streisand Effect.change the way it operates—to reduce the threat of having its public image destroyed by disgruntled workers. April 1.. Bill Prachar. he says. says he worries that sites like WikiLeaks will start to dictate the way companies operate for fear that the public may perceive certain decisions the wrong way. and the ability to replicate. except for those cases where the offender is considerate enough to volunteer his home address to the target. Interestingly. transfer. out of fear the public may perceive their decisions entirely correctly. the “writeable web” in its various forms. 1996 <http://www. the feasibility of mirroring shut-down websites. from the standpoint of the bosses and their state. and store huge 48 Jaclyn Jaeger. described earlier. by which competition with networks either destroys hierarchies or forces them to become less hierarchical and authoritarian.. If the litigation over Diebold’s corporate files and emails teaches anything. The era of the SLAPP lawsuit is over. Keith Darcy suggests that one way for organizations to immunize themselves against the Wikileaks threat is to “create a culture of trust. the easy availability of web anonymity. .html>. Darcy mentions responding quickly and fairly to internal whistleblower complaints as part of that culture of trust: Companies should also communicate that whistleblowers will be protected and treated with respect.” Daily Telegraph.. one in which employees feel a sense of shared ownership in the reputation and the brand of the organization. “Wikileaks: The Other Whistleblower Problem. the McLibel case turned into “the most expensive and most disastrous public-relations exercise ever mounted by a multinational company.. a partner with the law firm Compliance Systems Legal Group. attempts to suppress negative speech are the best way to guarantee a much wider audience for it. THE OPEN SOURCE LABOR BOARD storage sites or remote computer servers without ever leaving their desks. the corporation needs to behave in a less authoritarian manner -. June 28. it’s that court injunctions and similar expedients are virtually useless against guerrilla netwar. The problem with authoritarianism like that of the Pinkertons and Birmingham Wragge.48 This is another example of the general phenomenon. But there’s always the risk that something will be taken out of context.html>...allbusiness. 49 “270-day libel case goes on and on.

including disgruntled employees. Folks in the corporate C-suites who think using Birmingham Wragge or the Pinkertons as Gestapo is an effective tactic should take a look at the effectiveness of the RIAA’s strategy against file-sharers. will only drive critical speech into vectors beyond their control. They will be exhausted and destroyed in exactly the same way that the most technically advanced army in the world was defeated by a guerrilla force in black pajamas. means that it is simply impossible to shut people up. [Draft last updated January 18. And corporate harassment of critics. 2012] . The would-be corporate information police will just wear themselves out playing whack-a-mole. Such practices have only resulted in the rapid mainstreaming of proxy servers and encryption.295 volumes of digital information at zero marginal cost.


1 But Sheldon Richman challenges these assumptions: Why assume that legislation was the only way to stop segregation and today is the only thing preventing resegregation? We can easily imagine scenarios in which private nonviolent action could pressure bigots into changing their racial policies. a just social order can only form through social control. It’s revealing of Maddow’s premises about law and social progress. . . We can consult history.thefreemanonline. .Chapter 9 Open Source Civil Liberties Enforcement Protection Against Non-State Civil Rights Violations. But while mistaken. Maddow’s response was revealing: Maddow was baffled: “But isn’t being in favor of civil rights. As she insisted later. there’s nothing to stop that—nothing under your worldview to stop the country from resegregating. In May 2010 Republican Senatorial candidate Rand Paul managed to get his tit in the wringer during an appearance on the Rachel Maddow show. when he confessed he’d have voted against the private discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act. Title II. but against the Civil Rights Act like saying you’re against high cholesterol but in favor of fried cheese?” She’s begging the question. You may think that’s abhorrent and you may think that’s bad business. Private segregation should stop and only government can stop it. But unless it’s illegal. . . hence. 297 .’ .” Unless it’s illegal anything could happen. “Opposing the Civil Rights Act Means Opposing Civil Rights?” The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. “Let’s say there’s a town right now. [T]he owner of the bowling alley says. the question isn’t cheap rhetoric. nobody can stop it. ‘we’re not going to allow black patrons. September 2010 <http://www. you may as well ask how someone could be for patriotism but against the PATRIOT>. Lunch counters throughout the South were integrating years—years!—before 1 Charles Johnson. But we don’t need to imagine it.

Recall Hillary Clinton’s belittling of the grassroots civil rights movement when she ran against Barack Obama: “Dr. So-called progressives at heart are elitists who believe—and want you to believe—that nothing good happens without>. Starting in Greensboro. 3 Sheldon Richman. what will stop bigoted business owners from resegregating America? A. but they won the day. “Context Keeping and Community Organizing.csmonitor. lunch counters in downtown Nashville were integrated within four months of the launch of the Nashville Student Movement’s sit-in campaign. 2010 <http://www. Four years before the Civil Rights Act passed. To acknowledge that young people courageously stood down the bigots long before the patronizing white political elite in Washington scurried to the front of the march would be to confess that government is not the source of all things wonderful. ] John Keane traces the beginnings of the civil rights movement. June 18. “In a freed market. Gandhistyle. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. . It happened not out of the goodness of the racists’ hearts—they had to be dragged. in large part. Or as he writes elsewhere: “The libertarian answer to bigotry is community organizing.” Cato Unbound. “Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act: Was He Right?” Christian Science Monitor. by shaming the bigots with their simple request to be served like anyone else. The campaign wasn’t easy. It took a president to get it done.298 CHAPTER 9. kicking and screaming. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT the civil rights bill was passed. North Carolina. but people seized control of their own lives. posed the rhetorical question and answer: “In a freed market. similarly. The sit-ins then sparked sympathy boycotts of department stores nationwide. May 26. with no government anti-discrimination laws.”2 History says she is wrong. . what will stop bigoted business owners from resegregating America?” Rad Geek People’s Daily. . Students were beaten and>. lunch counters throughout the South began to be desegregated through direct but peaceful confrontation—sit-ins—staged by courageous students and others who refused to accept humiliating second-class citizenship.cato-unbound. in 1960.”4 [Kirkpatrick Sale on Civil Rights Act ratifying achievements of self-organized protesters. Why is this inspirational history ignored in the current controversy? I can think of only one reason. People were realizing the dream directly. and sent shockwaves through the>. 2010 <http://www. June 18. We will. State and city governments were far slower to respond. shook their communities. It was the result of an effective nongovernment social movement. . 2010 <http://radgeek. 4 Charles Johnson.”3 Charles Johnson. with no government anti-discrimination laws. 2 Sheldon Richman. to two actions by private individuals and associations of private individuals. metaphorically.

He asked them to call the march off.W. and subsequent outrage over the acquittal of his murderers by an all-white jury blossomed into a protest movement. King. which led to the famous Montgomery bus boycott. segregationists in Birmingham. It was June 22 1963. I have never engaged in a direct-action movement that did not seem ill-timed.5 Historically. “I may lose the next election because of this. He declared his support for the march. “I don’t care. Around fifty thousand mourners attended. Just one month before. hailing it as a “peaceful assembly for the redress of grievances".299 The first was the decision by the mother of Emmett Till. 2009).” he told them. were already under way. 722-725. August 21. who deferred in age and experience to Randolph did not speak until the end of the meeting. Some direct action tactics. So much for the question of how to defend people’s civil rights without the state. “I have a dream: Forty years on.” said 2003/aug/21/usa. But the very way the question is 5 John Keane.” The Guardian. “Not just a big show at the Capitol. Norton & Company. The coordinating committee became an important organizational model for the civil rights movement in subsequent boycott and civil disobedience campaigns like the sit-ins. “The negroes are already in the streets. in particular the use of “jail no bail” pledges as a swarming technique to overwhelm the capabilities of local police and jails. The state of America’s racial politics had reached the stage of domestic crisis and international>. . Only a few days later the president went to Germany where he slammed Soviet repression at the Berlin Wall. 2003 <http://www. calling for freedom abroad that he could not secure for black people at home. The Life and Death of Democracy (New York and London: W. Plans for a march on Washington for jobs and freedom on August 28 organised by the black union leader A Philip Randolph. “It may seem ill-timed. pp." The truth is that he cared very deeply. The second was Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to vacate her seat to a white person on a bus. activists have successfully fought for liberties in cases where even “progressives” in the state hesitated to act. were reminiscent of earlier free speech campaigns by the Wobblies. 6 Gary Younge. By the time Kennedy came back from Europe he had decided that he would try to co-opt what he could not cancel. a teenage boy who was abducted and tortured to death for whistling at a white woman during a visit to Mississippi. Kennedy was preparing a civil-rights bill that would antagonise white southerners in his own party who were opposed to integration. Alabama had turned hoses and dogs on black teenagers.” he told Kennedy. “Frankly. when Kennedy met with the nation’s civil rights leaders. to display his badly mutilated body in an open casket at his funeral in Chicago.” he said. “We want success in Congress. The boycott was organized by a loose coordinating committee of likeminded citizens.” The march went ahead. the Student Nonviolent Coordinating committee was itself an application of that model on a national When the State is the Civil Liberties Violator. which inspired similar coordinating committees in cities across the United States.” Randolph refused.

such legal restrictions are not self-enforcing. January 24. freedom of information laws. under the present system. confidently told us we weren’t allowed to do this or that because “it’s just policy. local police commissions.” Rad Geek People’s Daily. then who do you go to?7 We are ostensibly protected from the state’s abuses of its own power (stipulating for the sake of argument that the initiation of force can ever be non-abusive) by all sorts of formal legal restraints: federal and state bills of rights. . you could in principle go to the police about it and try to get the robbers arrested.. etc. basic common law protections like the presumption of innocence don’t even apply. it seems appropriate to raise the rather awkward counter-question of what to do when the state itself is the danger to be protected against. In their rabbit warren of administrative law tribunals. .. and are happy to arrest you if you complain about the robbery. is itself an active violator of rights? Considering that so much of this book is addressed to concerns about the effectiveness of voluntary organizations in providing protections that are now supposedly provided by the state. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT phrased is misleading.” or that we had to get this or that additional form and then get back in line in another office in another building—only to be told by the petty functionary in the other office that the first bureaucrat was wrong? It’s clearly legal in most jurisdictions to record alleged “public servants” in a public place. The problem is.. if there is a significant possibility that a citizen “customer” may become a squeaky wheel. in appalling detail. 2011 <http://radgeek. . in the performance of their official tax-funded>. But how many of us have dealt with a petty bureaucratic functionary who. [cite] 7 Charles Johnson.[W]hen gangsters without badges rob you.aside from the gang colors. and the stereotypical armed robbery carried out by freelancers.. it implicitly limits the issue of the state’s current role to one of whether or not the state prevents civil rights violations by private actors.between an official armed robbery like this one [a raid on a med pot dispensary. followed by civil forfeiture. whistleblower protection laws.300 CHAPTER 9. despite the most superficial knowledge of her agency’s actual policy. Restrictions on government abuses of power depend on government functionaries for their enforcement. but actually doing it (as regularly recounted by Radley Balko in appalling detail) is usually a good way to get your camera broken and yourself behind bars if the cops see you. as described in a Radley Balko column].. But what if the state. the experiences of many people who have been unfortunate enough to fall afoul of petty functionaries in the enforcement apparatuses of the IRS and assorted regulatory agencies. .. And James Bovard recounts. But when the gangsters who robbed you are the police.. “Dr. Anarchy Answers Your Rhetorical Questions. Charles Johnson points out the difference. The first line of defense is self-restraint by apparatchiks in the agency ostensibly subject to a given legal protection—the “cover-your-ass” instinct may be sufficient to deter the most egregious abuses by bureaucratic drones..

so that the political cost of enforcement becomes more than it’s worth. SLAPP lawsuits. ideally. [Rocker quote] There are two viable ways of forcing the state to recognize our liberties. is how to stop the United States government from supporting the dictators and death squads that violate their rights.301 The second line of defense is review by bureaucratic superiors who. Or that the plain words of the Fourth Amendment don’t really mean what they say because there’s no “reasonable expectation of privacy. You know—the same courts that have found.” Or that an assumption of dictatorial power by the President is a “political question” on which they refuse to rule. The first is by circumventing its enforcement capabilities. The second is to subject it to public scrutiny and pressure from outside.. they have caused so much destruction and ha- .” if there happens to be a “compelling state interest” in making such a law. [C4SS: public official on Wikileaks undermining U. For those who can’t afford to pay for justice.” and restored the cop (on paid administrative leave) to duty? The third. The same is true in the case of civil liberties violations. and the “loser pays” provisions included in most so-called tort “reforms. made some interesting comments (through the mouth of one of his characters) on the drawbacks of traditional models of revolution: “. if you have the enormous sums of time and money required to fight a case through the legal system. in the second volume of his Mars trilogy. Circumventing the Law. and last. official line of defense is the courts. You’ll notice I didn’t list “change the law” or “change the government” among my viable alternatives..” As we saw in Chapter Two in regard to regulatory state functions. One of the services for which Wikileaks deserves the most credit is exposing collusion between the United States government and some of the worst oppressors worldwide. so that its claims of authority and threatened sanctions for disobedience become a paper tiger. the question “what will we do when the United States government no longer protects us from violations of our rights?” would evoke nothing but bitter laughter. attempts to promote “open government”] According to Rudolf Rocker. for those people. but rather have been forced to recognize them by pressure—often violent—from below. that “Congress shall make no law” doesn’t really mean “Congress shall make no law. time and time again. found that “all policies were followed” and “there is no evidence of wrongdoing. after reviewing the most egregious violations.S. Kim Stanley Robinson.[R]evolution has to be rethought. states have never granted or recognized civil liberties out of their own generosity. are afraid of public embarrassment. The question. there are alternatives like the plea bargain (to escape the enormous stack of frivolous charges thrown at the defendant to make sure she accepts the deal). But how often has (say) a police commission. it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the state from the “bad guys” it’s ostensibly regulating. For hundreds of millions of people in the world. even when revolutions have been successful. or outside review agencies like police commissions. Look.

At best. If violence is used at all. for example. a revolution at least offers the virtue of simplicity. To the extent that it does focus on influencing the state. so that when the war is over they’re in power. Next year in Amsterdam! And then there’s the fruitless effort to liberalize in some small way the draconian new copyright legislation being railroaded through by the Copyright Nazis of the proprietary content industries. the advocates of sanity can argue whether a change in wording of one line in a paragraph of Subsection D of Chapter III of the law had a positive effect that was infinitesimal. mostly closed to the public and announced as a fait accompli. only to see a bill or treaty which was actually drafted by RIAA/MPAA lobbyists get passed essentially unchanged—in many cases rubber-stamped by national parliaments with nobody outside a few committee leaders even allowed to read it. making it through the challenges.”9 But for all its drawbacks. then you create enemies who will resist you forever.blogspot. Auckland: Bantam Books. after the enormously tedious effort of once again collecting signatures and organizing a press campaign. Each time such an initiative almost passes. And ruthless men become your revolutionary leaders. getting on the ballot Toronto. wrote that “with no exception in history that I can think of. Representatives of public advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation show up for hundreds of hours of meetings. 2010 <http://powerofnarrative. the endless series of mostly unsuccessful pot decriminalization initiatives over the past three decades. April 20. defending safe spaces in which we can build the real revolution—the one that matters. 1994). and likely to be as bad as what they replaced. requires navigating a series of procedural hurdles rigged in favor of the interests with the most money and lobbyists. Thus. or just tiny. than actually trying to participate in the policy process from inside. If you choose violence.”8 Arthur Silber. by cutting the Gordian knot and removing all obstacles at once. Green Mars (New York. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT tred that there is always some kind of horrible backlash. 9 Arthur Silber. in similar vein. If the goal is to influence the state so as to create breathing room for counter-institutions.302 CHAPTER 9. in contrast. The Republican coat tails were too long this election. p. 309. and losing again is repeated. And once again Sisyphus resumes rolling the rock uphill: the painstaking process of collecting signatures. it should not be perceived by the public at large as a way of conquering anything.html>. Endless hearings. violent revolutions on any scale lead to a state of affairs which is no better and frequently worse than that which the rebels seek to replace.” Once Upon a Time. London. Sydney. It’s inherent in the method. the postmortems ensue: It didn’t pass this time because it was an off-year election and the young voters didn’t show up. a political movement is useful mainly for running interference. there’s a lot more bang for the buck in mobilizing popular pressure from outside through deft propaganda and framing. but as defensive force that raises the cost of government attacks on the counter-economy in a situation where the 8 Kim Stanley Robinson. “An Evil Monstrosity: Thoughts on the Death State. Reformist politics. .

instead. the state’s functionaries should be cast in the role of Bull Connor.. went to school! . It doesn’t matter that local zoning regulations prohibit people doing business out of their homes. “It’s the people who worked out the labor-and-land intensive farming we do. One benefit of the implosion of capital requirements for manufacturing is that the number of producers increases and the average market size shrinks to the point that they are operating below the regulatory state’s radar. It doesn’t matter how industrial patents enforce planned obsolescence. or to shift the correlation of forces between the state’s capabilities for violence and ours. was not uniformed parties. . before anyone can put one foot in front of the other—embodies all the worst faults of 20th century organizational culture. as the aggressors or “bad guys. she said. slogans. 1976).Who made new unions. is to capitalize on the capabilities of network culture. It doesn’t matter what tax laws are on the books. States claim all sorts of powers that they are utterly unable to enforce. any form of public effort can benefit from the example of Martin Luther King’s masterful framing in the Birmingham demonstrations. non-cooperation and civil disobedience—while taking advantage of the possibilities of exposure that networked culture provide—are likely to be more effective than violent defense. wrote and educated and made speeches. What we need. The state should be framed. and mass-meetings.” To the greatest extent possible.. or the policies those people make. A character in Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. is to make them irrelevant and unenforceable through counter-institution building and through counter-economic activity outside the state’s control. The focus on securing liberty primarily through political organization—organizing “one big movement” to make sure everybody is on the same page. describing the revolution that led to her future decentralist utopia.” in practical terms. 190. if most commerce is in encrypted currency of some kind and invisible to the state. Whether violent or nonviolent. We undermine the old corporate order. withheld rent.”10 The individual superempowerment resulting from networked forms of organization is key to this process. but by how we do things where we live. And even in such cases. not by the people we elect to Washington.303 government is clearly the aggressor. raised children. Revolution. The movement should strive to be seen as a fight to enable everyone to live their own lives the way they want. when a garage factory produces generic replacements and modular accessories for proprietary corporate platforms. The best way to change “the laws. when their clientele is so small they can’t be effectively monitored. Rather than focusing on ways to seize control of the state. refused to go to wars. as incontrovertibly as possible.. and sells to such a small market that the costs of detecting and punishing infringement are prohibitive. patent law (and other regulatory) enforcement depended on the low transaction costs resulting from a small number of large producers marketing a 10 Marge Piercy. Woman on the Edge of Time (New York: Fawcett Columbine. summed it up perfectly. it makes far better sense to focus on ways to increase our capabilities of living how we want below the state’s radar. p. Traditionally. It’s all the people who changed how people bought food.

. . do the usual stuff. who can help illegal immigrants get into the country without being caught out by the Border Guard. If the government has a tyrannical immigration law in place. since we have basically no restrictions on immigration any more. to evade or bypass government enforcement and government taxation. The other way is the reverse strategy: to get rid of the tyranny by first aiming at the enforcement. progressively whittling the provisions of the immigration law down until finally you have whittled it down to nothing. if options other than electoral politics are allowed onto the table. or as close to nothing as you might realistically hope for. you’ve made immigration enforcement irrelevant. and so on. start talking about the almost-asbad aspects of the law.304 CHAPTER 9. “In which I fail to be reassured. You could start with the worst aspects of the law. In point of fact.” And then you’re done. who provide safe houses for them to stay on during their journey. the state can bluster on as much as it wants about the Evil Alien Invasion. etc. What you would do. the claimed powers themselves are about as relevant as the edicts of the Emperor Norton. then that might very well provide a much more effective route to getting rid of particular bad policies than getting rid of particular bad policies provides to getting rid of the government enforcement and government taxation. then it might very well be the case that exactly the opposite course would be more effective: if you can establish effective means for individual people. etc. if you have gotten it down to nothing. by making the border control and internal immigration cops as irrelevant as you can make them. then. get the worst aspects removed or perhaps ameliorated. and so forth. That’s why Charles Johnson argues that it’s far more cost-effective to go directly after the state’s enforcement capabilities than to try to change the law.. build another coalition. the immigration law will become a dead letter. To the extent that you can succeed in doing this. consider immigration. who can help them get the papers that they need to skirt surveillance by La Migra. fight some more. or better yet large groups of people. who can hook them up with work and places to live under the table. build a coalition. “Well. why keep paying for a border control or internal immigration cops? Let’s go ahead and get rid of that stuff. fight off the backlash.11 11 Charles Johnson. 2008 < 2008/01/26/in_which/>.” Rad Geek People’s Daily.. And without effective immigration enforcement. Then. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT relatively small number of goods through a small number of nationwide retailers. then there are two ways you could go about trying to get rid the tyranny. etc. you can now turn around and say. To take one example. as a matter of real-world policy. a couple election cycles later. Without the ability of governments to enforce their claimed powers. January 26. then. rather than aiming at the law. is to work on building up more or less loose networks of black-market and grey-market operators.

12 This coincides to a large extent with what Dave Pollard calls “incapacitation”: “rendering the old order unable to function by sapping what it needs to survive. 13 David Pollard. February 18. There exist ways to make yourself free. November 1987) <www. the next time you look at the political scene and despair."13 But suppose if. by making information free. Open Source. for a fraction of the investment in time. if 51% of the nation and 51% of this State. using the Power of Many. and 51% of this city have to turn Libertarian before I’ll be free. you can quite readily produce a hundred Xerox copies of fishing instructions. The failure to properly analyze political˜ranga/papers/crossbows2crypto/crossbows2crypto.. nor even necessarily the most costeffective path toward increasing freedom in our time.. I don’t believe that it is the only. plunder or constrain us.. And if you can 12 Chuck Hammill. So.csua. nobody understands political power.However. And that’s where I’m trying to take The LiberTech Project....html> 2005/02/ 14 Pollard. “Well.. by making local communities energy self-sufficient. instead of waiting for the collapse of the market economy and the crumbling of the power elite.pdf>..” How to Save the It’s a principle anticipated over twenty years ago by Chuck Hammill. in an early celebration of the liberatory potential of network technology: While I certainly do not disparage the concept of political action. patents and ’shareholder expectations’?14 Incapacitation.” February 21..berkeley. I say “literally..” How to Save the World.. and put me out of my misery”—recognize that such is not the case. 2005 <http://blogs. includes undermining the public’s willingness to obey the corporate state: what Gene Sharp calls “cutting off sources of political power”: Is there a single mistake you see over and over again? Yes. 2005 <http://blogs. guerrilla-style. we brought about that collapse.html>.. it is here that technology—and in particular information technology—can multiply your efficacy literally a hundredfold. “From Crossbows to Cryptography: Techno-Thwarting the State” (Given at the Future of Freedom Conference. . I propose a libertarian network spreading the technologies by which we may seize freedom for ourselves. in All power has its sources. . money and effort I might expend in trying to convince the state to abolish wiretapping and all forms of censorship—I can teach every libertarian who’s interested how to use cryptography to abolish them unilaterally. “All About Power—Part Two. unconstrained by corporate allegiance. . thinking. Rather than beseeching the state to please not enslave. Consider that.Suppose this hungry Eskimo never learned to fish because the ruler of his nation-state had decreed fishing illegal.” because for a fraction of the effort (and virtually none of the risk) attendant to smuggling in a hundred fish. and by taking the lead in biotech away from government and corporatists (the power elite) by working collaboratively.. “All About Power and the Three Ways to Topple It (Part 1). then somebody might as well cut my goddamn throat now.

That’s a totally different trip. Once the line is pierced.. People often think that if they can just show the world how terrible an opponent is. That’s not success. where the enemy front lines may be pierced by an explosive combination of multiple weapons systems (tanks. artillery. and weaknesses as well as possible—and then make a plan.306 CHAPTER 9. It’s a fundamental distinction that leads to a totally different approach to waging political struggle. What do these sources of power look like? There is moral authority: Do the people giving the orders have the right to give them? There is economic power. That’s nonsense.” Utne Reader. the state’s enforcement capability is its Systempunkt—its weak point—in a systems disruption strategy. and logistical systems. and specifically to serve the material interests of the average person. and so forth). the 15 Jeff Severns Guntzel. but not everybody who uses nonviolent action knows a thing about strategy. When these systems are disrupted.. July-August 2010 <http://www. It’s important to feel that you’ve done something worthwhile. Well. [Sharp on Egypt from interview—lack of fear] In Robb’s terminology. This seems like an approach that demands strategy. control. they’ll be able to get rid of the opponent. but it isn’t good enough. you can cut off the sources of their power—and this is rarely understood. And the opposite of identifying the sources of power. armored forces can drive deep into enemy territory to disrupt command.utne. but also strengthen your people and give them the capacity to carry on the struggle—to achieve the next objective. There’s also a big issue [in nonviolent movements] of how people define success and failure. “Lessons from the Godfather: Interview with Gene Sharp. You shouldn’t have an objective like total justice or complete peace. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT identify the sources you can cut them Rather than protest the actions of those with political power. The Schwerpunkt was the point of greatest emphasis.aspx>. You have to learn as much about nonviolent struggle as possible. you know. It’s based on the term Schwerpunkt from the theory of Blitzkrieg warfare. . Hitler didn’t have three brains. Work out a plan that will weaken your opponent. and know your opponent’s objectives. he got other people convinced that what he was doing was important and that they should help. airpower.15 What Sharp describes as moral authority is closely related to what John Robb calls the state’s “plausible promise”: the credibility of its claims to offer benefits in return for allegiance as well as punishment. There is control of the masses. You have to think in smaller bites. I remember cases where people didn’t succeed at all in achieving their objectives but say they felt better afterward. needs. know your own situation as well as possible. it should..

at the cost of destroying only a tiny fraction of its actual physical assets.17 According to Robb. attacks on two percent of the high-load nodes can shut down 60% of an infrastructure’s capacity. p. p.000 in lost oil exports and another $50 million from the shutdown of an adjacent oil field.. 17 Ibid. actually taking control of the state’s policy-making apparatus. usually identified by one of the many autonomous groups operating in the field. 105. p. Remember our earlier examples of immigration.. 20 Ibid. and attacks on one percent can shut down 40% of capacity. through conventional politics. at a cost of $2000. Likewise. achieves enormous force multipliers by disabling entire networks at the cost of attacking a few key nodes. in contrast. 21 Ibid. Al Qaeda Iraq.21 Small attacks on the Systempunkt of any complex system can generate ROIs of several million percent. The key is to find the key nodes whose destruction will disable the entire system. 18 Ibid. But by attacking the state at its Systempunkt—enforcement—we can render it ineffective against us at a tiny fraction of the cost: 16 John Robb. Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. the result is a destabilization of the psychology of the marketplace that will introduce severe inefficiencies and chaos.22 A system can be put out of operation. is extremely costly. 15. as if its entire physical infrastructure were destroyed. traditional strategic bombing of the kind used in WWII measured success by a metric based on the total percentage of an infrastructure’s capacity which was destroyed. p. in which the forces of reform are outgunned many times over by lobbyists in terms of money and access. But by that standard—destroying a majority of the actual miles of transmission lines or rails within a network—success was extremely costly. p. copyright law and pot decriminalization? Every single step in that process involves an uphill battle. 7. 13.307 top-heavy military units they support collapse in confusion.16 Just as important. with endless legislative hearings and ballot initiatives. the majority of the enemy’s combat forces can be bypassed and rendered ineffective by systems disruption. .20 In the case of an electrical power grid.19 An attack on Shell Oil’s Forcados loading dock platform in Nigeria. this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in financial loss or supply shortages. 19 Ibid. 96. 22 Ibid. p. 96. that will collapse the target system if it is destroyed. Within a market. Within an infrastructure system. A small attack on a single critical oil pipeline out of an entire network. And the Systempunkt is the point in a system (either an infrastructure system or a marketplace).. which cost roughly $2000 to execute. cost the Iraqi government $500 million in lost oil revenue. 99. the $8/barrel “terror premium” it added to the price of oil cost the global economy $640 million.. 2007). cost Shell $400.. without the attrition cost of defeating them piecemeal.18 In addition.. p.

..308 CHAPTER 9. then to be sure you will find yourself outmaneuvered at every turn by those who have the deepest pockets and the best media access and the tightest connections. that that would make “piracy” economically irrelevant. But if you put your faith for social change in methods that ignore or ridicule their parliamentary rules. of the kind mentioned by Pollard and Piercy. Reformist political campaigns inevitably turn out to suck a lot of time and money into the politics—with just about none of the reform coming out on the other end. as the music and movie industries had hoped. to everyone who can benefit from them. “Counter-economic optimism. encryption and Web anonymizers. after all. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT A law that cannot be enforced is as good as a a law that has been repealed.23 One of the benefits of stigmergic organization. and can just as easily be fulfilled by widespread success at bypassing those laws and making them irrelevant to your life — then there is every reason to hope that you will see more freedom and less coercion in your own lifetime.. and push forward through grassroots direct action — if your hopes for social change don’t depend on reforming tyrannical laws. as we saw in earlier discussions of it. and if you put all your faith for legal reform in maneuvering within the political system. 2009 <http://radgeek. There is every reason to expect that you will see more freedom and less coercion tomorrow than you did today. or run a microbakery or unlicensed hair salon out of their home with virtually zero overhead in defiance of local zoning and licensing regulations written by incumbent brick-and-mortar businesses. . There is no hope for turning this system against them.” Rad Geek People’s Daily. and adding it to the shared culture 23 Johnson. grandmas will be downloading DRMfree “pirated” music and movies at torrent sites next week. via the network. or build a cheap and livable house in defiance of the contractor-written building code. the system was made for them and the system was made by them. When a handful of geeks figure out how to crack DRM today. creates a demonstration effect: You can do this too! Every time someone figures out a way to produce “pirated” knockoff goods in a microfactory in defiance of a massproduction corporation’s patents. DRM may be so hard to crack that only a handful of geeks can do it. no matter what the law-books may say. is that individual problems are tackled by the self-selected individuals and groups best suited to deal with them—and that their solutions are then passed on. February 7. What is the cost of systems like bittorrent. thanks to stigmergic organization. they’re creating another hack to the system. compared to the cost of fighting the RIAA’s lobbyists in Washington? What is the cost of publicizing ideas of jury nullification—until the risk of a hung jury from a single rogue juror becomes so common that prosecutors decide that prosecuting simple pot possession is not worth it—compared to the cost of fighting decriminalization and medpot battles on the ballots year after year after year? Each individual innovation in ways of living outside the control of the corporatestate nexus. but that doesn’t mean. If you put all your hope for social change in legal 2009/02/07/countereconomic_optimism/>. because.

Pittsburgh Two 2. Now they stand accused of “hindering apprehension. And the more they’re able to do business with each other through encrypted currencies and organize the kind of darknet economy described by John Robb and Daniel Suarez. They weren’t even parading around brandishing giant puppets and chanting anti-capitalist slogans. are all things best done on a stigmergic basis. with institutions of our own making. and efforts to develop and circulate means of circumventing state control. Government as we know it is engaged in a battle for its very survival. Educational efforts to undermine the state’s moral legitimacy. The Pittsburgh Two are wonderfully analogous to the P2P folks. The recording industry as we know it will change its business model. or it will go under. using Twitter. listening to the radio and availing themselves of the hotel’s Wi-Fi connection. These particular activists weren’t breaking windows. under the radar of the state’s enforcement apparatus: local currency systems. In light of all this. home-based microenterprises quietly trading with friends and neighbors in defiance of zoning and licensing laws. Their arrest boils down. police arrested two activists. and so on. free clinics. Thomas Knapp provides a good practical example of Eric Raymond’s Bazaar in operation when it comes to techniques of resistance—the G-20 protests in Philadelphia: During the G-20 summit in the Pittsburgh area last week. in every way it can think of. . micromanufacturers producing knockoffs on such a small scale that patent enforcement costs more than it’s worth. . They weren’t setting cars on fire. Pennsylvania. they were in a hotel room in Kennedy. Start telling them right now that the law is unenforceable. the more the counter-economy becomes a coherent whole opaque to the corporate state. and disseminating knowledge as widely as possible on the most effective ways of evading it. educational campaigns to demonstrate the unenforceability of the law. to a public debugging session. . Publicize examples of ways we can live our lives the way we want.0 will set their monitoring stations further from the action (across jurisdictional lines). The RIAA can — and is — cracking down as hard as it can. as I’ve mentioned before. ways to protect squatter communities from harassment. the most cost-effective “political” effort is simply making people understand that they don’t need anyone’s permission to be free.” The radio they were listening to was (allegedly) a police scanner.. and that battle. for all intents and purposes.309 of freedom. use a relay system to get the information to those stations in a timely manner. They were (allegedly) using their Internet access to broadcast bulletins about police movements in Lawrenceville to activists at the protests. looks in key respects a lot like the Recording Industry Association of America’s fight with peer-to-peer “file-sharing” networks. then retransmit that information using offshore and anonymizing proxies.. In fact. miles away from “unsanctioned” protests in Lawrenceville .. criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime. but it is losing the fight and there’s simply no plausible scenario under which it can expect to emerge victorious.

or Web destinations. For all their cleverness. “In the beginning. 24 Thomas L. Freegate was unique because it not only disguised the ISP addresses. .com/html/nationworld/ 2010618380_twitterdui29. they had their Freegate>. “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. have created programs called Freegate and Ultrasurf that allow users to fake out Internet censors. and to alert drivers to sobriety checkpoints.25 One especially encouraging development is the stigmergic sharing of innovations in the technologies of resistance between movements around the world. who almost all have day jobs. but also cloaked the traffic signatures. or the ways in which the Chinese filters determined whether a Web user was sending an e-mail. we started hiding the traffic signature. January 6. It distributes its programs for free through an organization called the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC). though. a painstaking process. “Police: Twitter used to avoid DUI checkpoints. December 28. 25 Katherine Mangu-Ward... aiding each other across national lines and bringing combined force to bear against common targets. “They have not been able to stop it since.310 CHAPTER 9. The Falun Gong has played a central role in this effort: When these dissident Iranians chatted with each other and the outside world. They would devise a strategy that would break past China’s filtering tools. But>. “The Sheriff is Coming! The Sheriff is Coming!” Reason Hit & Run... 2010 <http://reason.” says Mr.nwsource. October 5. they tried to figure out how we beat them. In July 2008. they likely had no idea that many of their missives were being guided and guarded by 50 Falun Gong programmers spread out across the United States.html>. then the communists analyzed the software. it introduced a Farsi version of its circumvention tool. only to find their new sites quickly hacked or stymied. navigating a website. To prevent the Iranian authorities from cracking their system. According to David Tian. They started to block Freegate. Knapp. 2009 <http://c4ss.”. [Falun Gong] members found themselves constantly outmaneuvered. sending a downloadable version of the software in millions of e-mails and instant messages.24 Two more recent examples are the use of Twitter in Maricopa County to alert the Latino community to raids by Sherrif Joe Arpaio..0. Tian.” Center for a Stateless Society. and anything they do to counter its efficacy will be countered in subsequent versions. 2009 <http://seattletimes. While it is hardly the only group to offer such devices. or using Skype. Freegate disguises the browsing of its users.. the Falun Gong’s program is particularly popular thanks to its simplicity and relative speed.” Seattle Times. In 2002. rerouting traffic using proxy servers. These programmers. a programmer with the GIFC and a research scientist at nasa. sending an instant message. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT The cops won’t get within 50 miles of finding Pittsburgh Two 2. Freegate was rudimentary. Brad Branan. The Falun Gong has proselytized its software with more fervor than its spiritual practices. the programmers must constantly switch the servers.

the Falun Gong has also been urging the U. and Mark Palmer. “An effort to use U. the money was redirected to a program for training journalists. a point of envy for the GIFC.” Still. September 3. three bills to fund anti-censorship software are rocketing through Congress. global 26 Eli Lake. Although TOR was developed by the U. to press Congress. this danger sometimes sparks a sense of honor among thieves in which competing hegemons refrain from supporting each other’s resistance.tnr. The Chinese government views the Falun Gong almost the way the United States views Al Qaeda. except it reaches millions more people. (Neither was paid for his work. going so far as to enlist activists such as Michael Horowitz. the Washington director for Human Rights Watch. with wide support. But overall.”26 The last three paragraphs are suggestive concerning the internal contradictions of state capitalism and its IP regime. Navy—to protect Internet communication among its vessels—it has become a darling of the libertarian left.S. Both Palmer and Horowitz concluded that the State Department despised the idea of funding the Falun Gong. As Richard Bush. when the two finally persuaded Congress to spend $15 million on anti-censorship software last year.S. on the other hand. in part. government to back Freegate financially. The desire of would-be hegemons to aid each other’s internal resistance often leads to the creation of virally replicable technologies of benefit to their own internal resistance. The TOR project was originally bankrolled. by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).” The New Republic. government for warrantless wiretapping. there’s a Coke-Pepsi rivalry between Freegate and the other main program for skirting the censors: The Onion Router. since the project also receives significant funding from the government. a China expert at the Brookings Institution. In fact. 2009 .S. There’s an irony in the EFF’s embrace of TOR. TOR uses an algorithm to route traffic randomly across three different proxy servers. For the past four years. <http://www. a Reagan administration veteran. a former ambassador to Hungary. argues that such software “is to human rights work today what smuggling mimeograph machines was back in the 1970s. The Voice of America has contributed money so that its broadcasts can be heard via the Internet in countries that have blocked their site.311 The Falun Gong was hardly alone in developing this kind of software. the TOR programmers have a fetish for making their code available to anyone. This makes it slow but extremely secure—so secure that both the FBI and international criminal gangs have been known to use it. In the wake of the Iran demonstrations. “Hacking the Regime. government resources in support of a Falun Gong project would be read in the worst possible way by the Chinese government. there will no doubt be renewed pressure to direct money to the likes of the GIFC and TOR. or>. That’s a reasonable conclusion. the group that first sued the U. Many libertarians are drawn to TOR because they see it as a way for citizens to shield themselves from the prying eyes of government. puts it.S. Unlike the Falun Gong.) But. Tom Malinowski.

the software gummed up computers. In the world of product development—and freedom fighting—you innovate or die.] 27 Ibid. he spoke about it with a mix of pride and horror.27 Statism will ultimately end. about Green Dam. “One of the reasons they started this Green Dam business and moved the filter to the computer is because they cannot stop our products with the current filters. and of dissuading a large enough majority of people from disobeying when they’re pretty sure they’re not being watched. Surveillance. This notorious project is called the Green Dam. Of course the conflict continues—but the resistance seems to be capable of developing counter-countermeasures before the state’s counter-measures are even implemented. but as the cumulative effect of a long series of little things. Without a real chance to test it. The pride comes from the fact that the GIFC’s successes have placed the Chinese on the defensive. Circumvention: Privacy vs. while the Falun Gong has managed to win the upper hand in its battle with the Chinese government. If anything. It is called Green Tsunami.” he said. And. the Green Dam is too comprehensive. Under the Green Dam. defeat nearly every Web-circumvention tool. it has reason to be less sanguine about the future. it relies on a government database to block sites. or. The Chinese have returned to the cybernanny model that U. more precisely. crashing browsers and prohibiting virtually every Web search. from the perspective of those running things. More and more of the state’s activities. not as the result of any sudden and dramatic failure. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT interstate conflict is a source of technologies that can be exploited by non-state actors for internal resistance against the state. The decay of ideological hegemony and the decreased feasibility of enforcement will do the same thing to the state that file-sharing is now doing to the RIAA. therefore. It has released a beta version of a new piece of software to overcome the Green Dam.312 CHAPTER 9. China had revealed a model that could. But he conceded that Green Dam will render Freegate useless.S. nearly impossible to remove. the GIFC programmer. libraries have deployed. Beijing announced that it would delay the project indefinitely. . the Green Dam Youth Escort. in theory. The costs of enculturing individuals to the state’s view of the world. [Encryption. will just cost more (in terms not only of money but of just plain mental aggravation) than they’re worth. The Falun Gong is determined not to go the way of the Commodore 64 into technological irrelevance. anonymization. It has marketed its product with a name that captures the swagger of the enterprise. it’s hard to tell whether it will work. every new Chinese computer is required to come with a stringent filter pre-installed and. Still. will result in a death of a thousand cuts. In its initial run. When I asked David Tian. In August. The offensive-defensive technological arms race between the surveillance state and individual privacy is a special case under the general heading of circumvention. As the filter collects data on users. But it has overcome the first hurdle of product development.

or only some kinds of communications. low-latency lines.” Technology Review.technologyreview. Generally. by configuring the Tor software to act as a “bridge. It is possible to block Tor by checking the same directory and preventing connections to the servers listed—a tactic apparently used by the Chinese authorities. Tor routers could also make the entire Tor system better able to resist government attempts to block its use. “When you are connected to a router with Tor inside. December 22. which offers open source code for networking equipment. that can only be discovered by word of mouth. all your traffic goes through Tor without you changing your system at all. “Home Internet with Anonymity Built In.. “The primary way to address that problem is to have more Tor relays in more places.” or a private relay. all the time.” Appelbaum explains. . The finished routers can be configured to pass all traffic through Tor. which deters some people from using Tor. An individual installation of Tor software hooks into the network by referring to a list of relays in a directory maintained by the Tor project. It is possible to get around such a block. says Chris Palmer. and Appelbaum is considering making that a default setting..” Although consumer-grade routers are necessarily relatively low-powered. a Tor project developer..” he explains.>. It makes it simple to use.” says Jacob Appelbaum." Appelbaum says volunteers are already testing a small number of modified routers with Tor installed. their capabilities have grown markedly in recent years.” The software will also be made available for people to install on routers they have bought themselves.” he says.But using Tor has typically meant installing the software on a computer and then tweaking its operating system to ensure that all traffic is routed correctly through the program. Palmer notes. They will also be capable of simultaneously offering Tor-protected and conventional wireless networks.. connected to high-bandwidth. “You might want to run your VOIP device through Tor but not your other traffic. “We want to make anonymity something that can happen everywhere. Appelbaum says. A Tor router can also act as a bridge.313 The nonprofit that distributes the Tor encryption system is testing a home router with the Tor software—which “masks Web traffic by encrypting network messages and passing them through a series of relays”—built in. The software was developed by Appelbaum and colleagues at Tor and is based on the work of the OpenWrt project.. 2010 <http://www. The prototypes were made by installing new software onto a popular low-cost wireless router made by Buffalo Technology.. technology director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. the process results in lag and restricts bandwidth. . “Wireless routers may fit the bill well.28 28 Tom Simonite. if they can be built with the computational resources necessary to run a Tor relay of decent capacity. “we could partner with OpenWrt and Buffalo to offer a version for sale that helps support the Tor and OpenWrt projects. “If we find that these routers are useful [in the trials].

his technical analysis is badly flawed. Practically speaking. activist organisations and technical projects around the world. this means that poorly resourced individuals and groups with cheap. Morozov fails to identify one crucial characteristic of cryptographic systems: that it is vastly easier to scramble a message than it is to break the scrambling system and gain access to the message without the key.. This failure to engage with the best thinking and writing on the subject of the internet’s special power to connect and liberate is Net Delusion’s most serious demerit. In arguing. that no technology is neutral. Knowledge Ecology International. Indeed. in The Net Delusion. And like many mainstream liberal critiques of the Web for its absence of fact-checking functions. nobody uses that word any more). there is hardly any mention at all of history’s most prominent internet freedom fighters.314 CHAPTER 9. Activists who use Facebook and Twitter to coordinate their subversion. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT Evgeny Morozov. disseminating and promoting the use of cryptographic tools that are purpose-built to evade the kind of snooping and network analysis he (rightly) identifies as being implicit in the use of Facebook. he implicitly adopts the industrial age assumption that fact-checking can only be a function of institutional gatekeepers—as opposed to the adversarial process of hyperlinking and Fisking (I know. NetzPolitik. old computers are able to encipher their messages to an extent that they cannot be deciphered by all the secret . almost exclusively emphasizes the Internet’s potential for ubiquitous surveillance by authoritarian states. When Morozov talks about the security risks arising from dissidents’ use of Facebook—which neatly packages up lists of dissidents to be targeted by oppressive nations’ secret police—he does so without ever mentioning the protracted. all of which are more frightening than Morozov’s efforts. Bits of Freedom.” And these people have spent the same 20-plus years developing countermeasures.. as though people were unable to respond to information gluts with new and better ways of indexing information (in fact Morozov’s book includes similar complaints in almost identical language). and dozens of other pressure groups. Though Morozov is correct in identifying inherent security risks in the use of the internet by dissidents. private tools to organise political movements. Google and other centralised. Public Knowledge. who have spent decades building. But Morozov writes as though it were a static situation in which only the state is capable of reacting to ongoing events. I know. As Cory Doctorow writes: “Some of the world’s most ingeniously paranoid experts have spent 20-plus years thinking up plausible technological nightmare scenarios. he ignores one of the most important benefits of network organization: the way it facilitates rapid response to and circumvention of state attempts at surveillance and repression. are just lumping themselves into a single target for easy identification and arrest. such as the venerable cypherpunks movement. In this regard he closely resembles people like Andrew Keen who complain of the “Library of Babel” problem. he argues. dire warnings of exactly this problem that have come from the “cyber-utopian” vanguard as embodied by groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. in so doing. for example.

Instead. And yet.. at least. a trendy. putatively secure communications tool backed by the US state department that was later found to be completely insecure. he worries that the Chinese government proposed to install a mandatory censorware program on every PC called Green Dam.. Here. It is a truism among cryptographers that anyone can design a system so secure that he himself can’t think of a way of breaking it. release often” approach to free and open source software. and mocks the aphorism “with enough eyeballs. all bugs are shallow. he accepts at face value the Haystack creator’s statement that his tool was kept secret because he didn’t want to let Iranian authorities reverse-engineer its workings (real security tools work even if they have been reverseengineered). Lamentably. you must widely publish the workings of these tools and revise them frequently as your peers identify new vulnerabilities in them. even if they employ every computer ever built in a gigantic. This is why serious information security always involves widespread publication and peer-review of security systems. Morozov focuses his criticism on the “release early. even though this move was ridiculed by security experts around the world. Noting that the web has allowed an alarming amount of surveillance by commercial actors such as ad-networks. but to assume that dissidents in oppressive regimes will have the same sanguine trust of their governments that punters have towards Google’s tracking cookies is a rather titanic leap. Morozov’s treatment of security suffers from further flaws. the technological deck is stacked in favour of dissidents—who have never before enjoyed the power to hide their communiques beyond the reach of secret police—over the state. Morozov concludes that this kind of tracking will come to the world’s censorious..315 police in the world.” though if these had been applied to Haystack. when Morozov recounts the tale of Haystack. But internet users who perceive a threat from advertisers face few difficulties in limiting this spying with ad blockers and the like. your vulnerability on the web remains the same whether you’re in a friendly or adversarial relationship to the site you’re visiting or the snoop you’re worrying about. spying governments.. In Morozov’s analysis. In this sense. most effective means of identifying and shoring up defects in security technology. who have always enjoyed the power to keep secrets from the people.. who correctly predicted that it would be a dismal failure (if censorware can’t prevent your 12-year- . it would have been revealed as a failure long before it got into the hands of Iranian activists. Morozov is as wrong as he could possibly be: if you want to develop secure tools to allow dissidents to communicate beneath the noses of oppressive regimes. Morozov is also willing to assume an improbable mien of credulity when it suits his argument – for example. The picture Morozov paints of information security is misleadingly static. decades-long project to force the locks off the intercepted message. relatively few people take advantage of these countermeasures. This approach is widely accepted to be the best..

Social media lower barriers to collective action by providing channels of organization that are intermeshed with mundane social interaction and thus are harder to censor. 2. .316 CHAPTER 9.29 Elsewhere. It seems that Morozov wants to see the chaos of popular. Morozov’s unconscious agenda seems to have a lot in common with Malcolm Gladwell’s. Everyone I know in this movement – from donors to toolsmiths to translators to front-line activists to UN wonks – knows that the internet presents a risk as well as an opportunity. 4. these people have a program for minimising the risks arising from internet use (which is why there is so much campaign activity around the privacy and censorship problems arising from proprietary software. January 25. Burma. Yes. But unlike Morozov. social networking services.” The Guardian. it won’t stop educated Chinese internet users from finding out about Falun Gong). the ability to disseminate information is not a sufficient cause for success. thereby lowering the problem of society-level prisoner’s dilemma in which everyone knows that many people are unhappy but the extent to which this is the case remains hidden as official media is completely censored. As we saw in the case of Iran. 2011 <http://www. and yes. as Doctorow observes. Zeynep Tufekci has attempted to list some of the concrete ways in which social media facilitate activism: 1.Social media can help create a public(ish) sphere in authoritarian regimes. 3. Whether or not Morozov sees himself as one of those intellectuals is never explicitly stated. better communications “We need a serious critique of net activism.Social media can be a key tool for disseminating information during a>. but it is surely a necessary 29 Cory Doctorow. such reports are inevitably chaotic. the world had a strong sense of what was happening not because there were many reporters on the ground covering the events but because thousands of citizens armed with basic cell phones could record and transmit in real-time the situation on the ground. through the development of software and training that provides better grassroots movements replaced with a kind of orderly.Social media seems to have been key allowing the expatriate and exiled community to mobilize and act as key links between rest of the Arab sphere as well as Francophone parts of Europe and ultimately the rest of the world 5. Moldova. top-down style of regimented activism led by intellectuals whose thoughts can’t be pithily expressed in 140-character tweets.Social media helps strengthen communities as it is the antidote to isolating technologies (like suburbs and like televison) and community strength is key to political action. and even abstract tools like zero-knowledge networking system that allow for the broad dissemination of information among large groups of people without revealing their identities. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT old from looking at porn. Tunisia and others. and centralised data-collection systems such as Google) and maximising its efficacy as a tool for liberation.

their very identity. the design of cities. Resistance came not only from the general population but also from local power-holders. Each required a large. a metric.30 Seeing Like a State. their wealth. and the Art of Not Being Governed. processes as disparate as the creation of permanent last names. Twitter. the volume of commerce. their landholdings and yields. to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation. How did the state gradually get a handle on its subjects and their environment? Suddenly.Social Media and Final and Efficient Causes. I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. “Tunisia. It is at this point that the detour began. its interventions were often crude and self-defeating. their location. Seeing Like a State. a measure. 31 James Scott. They exhibited a 30 Zeynep Tufekci. their landholdings. he develops the concept of “legibility”: i. As a result. Each undertaking also exemplified a pattern of relations between local knowledge and practices on one hand and state administrative routines on the other. and local social practices.. 2011 <http://technosociology. conscription.31 How were the agents of the state to begin measuring and codifying. In each case. .e. and so on? The obstacles in the path of even the most rudimentary knowledge of these matters were enormous. The struggle to establish uniform weights and measures and to carry out a cadastral mapping of landholdings can serve as diagnostic examples. In Seeing Like a State. But in spite of the ebbs and flows of the various campaigns and their national peculiarities.. The work of James Scott is relevant here. Having begun to think in these terms. the invention of freehold tenure. illegible. and created a standard grid whereby it could be centrally recorded and monitored. in many crucial respects. the establishment of cadastral surveys and population registers. costly. The premodern state was. that would allow it to “translate” what it knew into a common standard necessary for a synoptic view. the standardization of weights and measures. for the most part. officials took exceptionally complex. it knew precious little about its subjects. In each case.” technosociology. a pattern that will find echoes throughout this book. their wealth..317 one. and the organization of transportation seemed comprehensible as attempts at legibility and simplification.. a state’s attempt to make society legible. and prevention of rebellion. the standardization of language and legal discourse. they were frequently able to take advantage of the administrative incoherence produced by differing interests and missions within the ranks of officialdom. its population. It lacked. It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people. January 15. local practices of measurement and landholding were “illegible” to the state in their raw form. p. such as land tenure customs or naming customs. long-term campaign against determined resistance. partially blind. their harvests. throughout each region of an entire kingdom. a pattern of adopting uniform measurements and charting cadastral maps ultimately prevailed.>. 2.

. prevented. often purposefully so. not to mention a natural environment. it may not need to know much about the society. interests. that have evolved largely independent of state plans. aggregated. one might say that the greater the manipulation envisaged... if partly fictional.32 Scott’s concept of legibility is closely related to—and appears to have been influenced by—what Michel Foucault called “panopticism.. enforce sanitation standards. start universal schooling—requires the invention of units that are visible. How hard-won and tenuous this achievement was is worth emphasizing. to speak broadly. States therefore confront patterns of settlement. they could not be assimilated into an administrative grid without being either transformed or reduced to a convenient. these state fictions transformed the reality they presumed to observe. and monitored.318 CHAPTER 9. In other words. It was precisely this phenomenon. not state. which had reached full tide by the middle of the nineteenth century. complexity. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT diversity and intricacy that reflected a great variety of purely local. listed and checked off. observed. ordered about. appraised. indoctrinated. spied on. and state security. skilled. the greater the legibility required to effect it. courts. “To be ruled is to be kept an eye on. to be noted. The result is typically a diversity.. priced. In turn.. . short of provoking a famine or a rebellion. If..” Consider how he describes legibility in operational terms: Legibility is a condition of manipulation. sermonized. as not just a description. the state is ambitious—if it wants to extract as much grain and manpower as it can. If the state’s goals are minimal.. The logic behind the required shorthand was provided.. reformed. corrected. Backed by state power through records. censured. regulated. The degree of knowledge required would have to be roughly commensurate with the depth of the intervention. To be ruled is at every operation.” From another perspective. if it wants everyone to speak the same language or worship the same god—then it will have to become both far more 32 Ibid. military manpower. although never so thoroughly as to precisely fit the grid. conduct literacy campaigns. mobilize labor... and unrepeatability of social forms that are relatively opaque to the state. are “younger” than the societies that they purport to administer.. Any substantial state intervention in society—to vaccinate a population. That is to say. shorthand.. however inadequate... this shorthand functioned. recorded. admonished. movement. Most states. estimated. produce goods. tax people and their property. 24. if it wants to create a literate. social relations.. p. redressed. that Proudhon had in mind when he declared. transaction. counted. Whatever the units being manipulated. by the pressing material requirements of rulers: fiscal receipts. inspected. what Proudhon was deploring was in fact the great achievement of modern statecraft. however. and healthy population. counted. and ultimately coercion. they must be organized in a manner that permits them to be identified. catch criminals. registered.. and production. conscript soldiers.

34 Ibid.. ideologies... The Art of Not Being Governed..38 In order to avoid taxes. p. 40-41. which are largely outside the reach of the governments there. 33 Ibid. 38 Ibid. draft labor and conscription. p..37 In Zomia. 39 Ibid. 183-184. . The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven & London: Yale University Press.. in order to minimize the cost of governing the area as well as the transaction costs of appropriating labor and produce.”39 pp. designing state space so as “to guarantee the ruler a substantial and reliable surplus of manpower and grain at least cost. “was designed to aid dispersal and autonomy and to ward off political subordination. likewise. “producing a surplus of grain. their pliable ethnic identities.. high-value forms of cultivation. “thereby severely limiting the possibilities for reliable state appropriation. upland and frontier people like the Cossacks.35 State spaces tend to encompass large “core areas” of highly concentrated grain production “within a few days’ march from the court center. their mobility.” as well as runaway slave communities in inaccessible marsh regions of the American South..” not necessarily contiguous with the center but at least “relatively accessible to officials and soldiers from the center via trade routes or navigable waterways.”34 This might have served as the topic sentence for his next book. they practiced “escape agriculture: forms of cultivation designed to thwart state appropriation. as Scott describes it: Virtually everything about these people’s livelihoods. 186.” the highland areas spanning all the countries of Southeast Asia. p.” The conditions of nonstate spaces were just the reverse. 35 James C.33 In the same book he mentioned the concepts of “state spaces and nonstate spaces”. p. and their devotion to prophetic. state spaces are geographical regions with high-density population and high-density grain agriculture. x. millenarian leaders effectively serve to avoid incorporation into states and to prevent states from springing up among them. Their physical dispersion in rugged terrain. Scott. 2009). pp. social organization. their cropping practices.. Scott surveys the populations of “Zomia.can be read as strategic positionings designed to keep the state at arm’s length. 58.. He suggests areas of commonality between the Zomians and people in nonstate areas around the world. Highlanders and “hillbillies.” Their social structure. .” This is achieved by geographical concentration of the population and the use of concentrated.319 knowledgeable and far more intrusive. 36 Ibid... In that book. States attempt to maximize the appropriability of crops and labor.”36 Governable areas are mainly areas of high-density agricultural production linked either by flat terrain or watercourses. 37 Ibid. their kinship structure. 23. and labor which was relatively easily appropriated by the state. 53.

States “will hesitate to incorporate such areas. 178.” i. 42 Ibid.. is likely to be less than the administrative and military costs of appropriating it.. 61. and synoptic legibility to the center could be applied to many. p. when “the Minister of Education could pride himself.. Based on the state’s preferences for “legibility. 51. appropriation. when supply lines broke down (or were easier to cut) and the garrison was faced with starvation or retreat. p. to put it in John Robb’s terms). p. the friction of terrain or altitude. 219. to that degree will they prove fiscally sterile to states and raiders and be deemed “not worth the trouble” or. p.. To the degree that such crops are part of the swiddener’s portfolio. just by looking at his watch. p..g. central control. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT The nonstate space is a direct inversion of the state space: it is “state repelling.”44 I suggest that the concepts of “state space” and “nonstate space.41 Nonstate spaces benefit from various forms of “friction” that increase the transaction costs of appropriating labor and output. 45 Ibid. for example.” if removed from Scott’s immediate spatial context and applied by way of analogy to spheres of social and economic life that are more or less amenable to state control. me on one end of a log and Mark Hopkins on the other]. nonstandardized instruction determined entirely by local mutuality [e. and the friction of seasonal weather.. the most illegible education system would be completely informal. 44 Ibid. 196.”40 The greater the dispersal of the crops.and grain-amassing strategies of states. 63.” it will tend to promote “institutional arrangements [that] can be readily monitored and directed from the center and can be easily taxed. in the same way that a dispersed population is more difficult to grab. fields. . and of extending the reach of the state’s enforcement arm into such regions. and centralization of control.. The most legible educational system would resemble Hippolyte Taine’s description of French education in the nineteenth century. State spaces in our economy are sectors which are closely allied to and legible to the state. If we were to apply them to education. a nonstate space. which page of Virgil all schoolboys of the Empire were annotating at that exact moment. p. Nonstate spaces are those which are hard to monitor and where regulations are hard to enforce.. in manpower and grain.. it might be possible to “wait for the rains. in other words. These forms of friction include the friction of distance42 (which amounts to a distance tax on centralized control. for example.e.. can be useful for us in the kinds of developed Western societies where to all appearances there are no geographical spaces beyond the control of the state. 43 Ibid. inasmuch as the return..320 CHAPTER 9..43 In regard to the latter. “it represents an agro-ecological setting singularly unfavorable to manpower. the more difficult they are to collect.” The principles of standarization. 41 Ibid.”45 40 Ibid.

People can remove themselves from state space by adopting technologies and methods of organization that make them illegible to the state.. the size of the surplus which the state is 46 Ibid. p.” anything that reduces the net “EROEI” of the system. therefore. petty bourgeois property.47 The same effects achieved through spatial distance and isolation and the high costs of physical transportation in Scott’s Zomia can be achieved in our economy. the “governance tax” reduces the amount of surplus which is extracted per input of enforcement effort.” citing Jeffrey Sachs’ observation that “Central planners had no desire to coordinate the activities of hundreds or thousands of small firms in a sector if one large firm could do the job. without any actual movement in space.48 It’s somewhat analogous to the concept of EROEI in the field of energy. But the relationship is two-way. the relevant metric is not GDP but “State-Accessible Product” (SAP).. sectors or areas of life) more costly to govern than they’re worth. which is dominated by the leaders of the corporate economy and finance capital. Recent technological developments have drastically expanded the potential for non-spatial. 402n. I have described the state—rightfully. Scott argues that for a ruler. 48 Ibid. without all the inconvenience. has a preference for large-scale units of economic organization because they are most amenable to being used as extensions of the state’s taxing and enforcement functions. I think—as the executive committee of the ruling class. and formalized economic activity in the cash nexus to informal exchange.321 State spaces. 220 table. function as a tax in a manner analogous to John Robb’s “terrorism tax” which we discussed in an earlier chapter. A standard strategy. in the narrow sense of the apparatus of functionaries who are actually on the public payroll. was to create one giant firm wherever possible. among other things. the state prefers largescale property to small. barter or gifting. . non-territorially based versions of the nonstate spaces that Scott describes. The transaction costs of overcoming opacity and illegibility. are associated with legible forms of production. p. the higher the concentration of value or value-to-weight ratio a unit of output must have to be worth appropriating and carrying off to the capital. The state itself. It makes some “spaces” (i. 74. As we saw in our earlier discussion of Robb’s “terrorism tax. and enforcing obedience in an atmosphere of non-compliance. 73.. The further from the center an area is. large commercial establishments to small family shops. p. The large corporation and the state exist in a symbiotic relationship. the larger the share of its economy will cost more than it’s worth to exploit.”46 [cite Darrington material from Scott paper] More broadly. an economy dominated by large business units like oligopoly corporations and large-scale agribusiness.e. Scott points to the tendency by which “large units are favored over small factories or artisanal production. The greater an area’s distance from the center. Borrowing an idea from Marx. if the purpose of the state is to extract a surplus on behalf of a privileged class. large farms to small peasant farms. through expedients such as encryption and the use of darknets. 47 Ibid. That means. especially.

Scott’s nonstate spaces overlap considerably with Hakim Bey’s concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). for people in state spaces the labor they have sunk into their fields over generations.322 CHAPTER 9. ..49 In Zomia. forms of physical production which are so small-scale and dispersed as to present serious surveillance and enforcement costs. “the ability to change location. this is mirrored by the agility and flexibility of networks. 184. the more reluctant they are to leave in order to escape the state’s taxation. when not being governed required spatial distance and inaccessibility. the less the differential in standard of living between state and nonstate areas. Our strategy. In Scott’s work. p. In many cases this translated into “abandoning fixed cultivation to take up shifting agriculture and foraging. The more costly enforcement is and the smaller the revenues the state (and its corporate allies. p. without the inconvenience of living in the mountains and swamps or living mostly on root crops. a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land. the categories of food that were unavailable.” This could involve a real sacrifice in quality of life. 65. in terms of the categories of goods which could not be produced. liberatory technologies now offer the potential to eliminate the necessity for this tradeoff between autonomy and standard of living.51 To put this in Western economic terms. A TAZ is a space in which we can live the way we want outside the state’s control.” Mobility. of time. as in the case of enforcing digital copyright law) can obtain per unit of enforcement effort.. 50 Ibid.. 51 Ibid..” From our standpoint. Scott names mobility as his “second principle of evasion. etc. 188... 52 Ibid. The more areas of economic life that are rendered illegible to the state through liberatory technology. 49 Ibid. creating a nonstate space meant a choice of technologies of living based on the need to be less legible. will cause it to shrink to a smaller equilibrium scale of activity..” renders a society inaccessible through the ability to “shift to a more remote and advantageous site.. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT able to extract. p. should be to create metaphoric nonstate spaces like darknets.”52 In terms of our analogous nonspatial “nonstate spaces” in Western societies. 181.” It is “a relatively frictionless ability to shift location.50 Historically. and the conscious choice of less productive methods of cultivation and a smaller surplus. We want to render ourselves as ungovernable as the people of Zomia. and to shift the correlation of forces between nonstate and state “spaces. in attacking the state’s enforcement capabilities as the weak link of state capitalism. “not being governed” frequently entailed adopting “subsistence strategies aimed to escape detection and maximize their physical mobility should they be forced to flee again at a moment’s notice. taking advantage of temporary areas of opacity: “The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the state. technologies of liberation reduce the cost and inconvenience of evasion. etc.” the deliberate choice of a more “primitive” lifestyle for the sake of autonomy. p. the more hollow it becomes and the more areas of life it retreats from as not worth the cost of governing.

TAZ will become progressively less “temporary. first. Absolutely nothing but a futile martyrdom could possibly result now from a head-on collision with the terminal State.” The particular. 54 Ibid. I’d make two rejoinders nevertheless. a free culture? Are we to abandon that hope in return for some existentialist acte gratuit? The point is not to change consciousness but to change the world. the structure of the counter-society can persist and gradually achieve dominance over the older state-capitalist structure even as its local components are created and destroyed. Bey frames the TAZ in terms of a false dichotomy. revolution has never yet resulted in achieving this dream. the autonomous zone with duration. our own particular historical situation is not propitious for such a vast undertaking.”53 Bey misses the transformation of quantity into quality: that as change in technological possibilities makes the proliferation of TAZ more feasible and shifts the offensive-defensive arms race between them and the state. the dream and the ideal are already betrayed. local features of state capitalism—the rise and fall of individual corporations. hyperlinks and an open browser-based Web weren’t even a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change--but I distrust the word Revolution. considering that he wrote at a time when no one imagined the liberatory potential of the Worldwide Web and network culture. even if we replace the revolutionary approach with a concept of insurrection blossoming spontaneously into anarchist culture. for instance—are temporary. while our meager weaponry finds nothing to aim at but a hysteresis. the empire of Spectacle and Simulation.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone. . A. Bey’s pessimism is understandable. The most far-sighted mainstream Internet enthusiasts anticipated something like the “Information Superhighway” vision of Al Gore. treating it in contrast to revolutionary or insurrectionary strategies of directly confronting the state—and equating all totalizing visions of freedom to the latter.” It need be “temporary” only in the sense that state capitalism is “temporary. You will argue that this is a counsel of despair. university or corporate employees with access to institutional mainframes. the Stateless state. At the time he wrote. Poetic Terrorism” (Autonomedia 1985. What of the anarchist dream. Likewise. But the structure persists. before the State can crush it. the Commune. Second. The vision comes to life in the moment of uprising--but as soon as “the Revolution” triumphs and the State returns. there will be a shift in their structural significance. Bill Gates and 53 Hakim Bey. I accept this as a fair criticism. “Internet” was synonymous with the official military/university network of the 1980s. a rigid vacuity. 1991) <http://www. the megacorporate information State.323 of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen.htm>. Its guns are all pointed at us. a free society. a Spook capable of smothering every spark in an ectoplasm of information. “T. Ontological Anarchy. a society of capitulation ruled by the image of the Cop and the absorbant eye of the TV screen. Z. populated mostly by government.sacred-texts.

OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT Newt Gingrich: basically a walled-garden system for delivering paid.” consisting not only of time-share access to mainframes but of telephone trees and dead-tree notices on community bulletin boards. secondary shadow-structure operating within the interstices of the official Internet. Exposure of abuses by the state and its functionaries is a longstanding practice. Even though organized. streaming proprietary content on demand or viewing static institutional websites (or as Paul Verhoeven might say. pirated software. as he imagined it.56 Exposure and Embarrassment.but theoretically they can also be viewed as forms of struggle toward a different reality. consisted of “the marginal zine network. 787. the political pressure itself will be organized by many different individuals and groups operating independently. 2009). “Would you like to know more?”). an old Spanish term meaning “to break” or “to destroy. The Life and Death of Democracy (New York and London: W.324 CHAPTER 9. One especially important variant of the stigmergic principle is educational and propaganda effort. “free” and no longer parasitic. That being done. in pressuring the state to cease or reduce suppression of the alternative economy. For example.” The counter-Net and the TAZ can be considered. will parasitize the Net—but we can also conceive of this strategy as an attempt to build toward the construction to an alternative and autonomous Net. p.W.” which was invested with the new meaning “to strike out publicly at someone’s reputation for the purpose of shaming them and revealing to others they terrible things they have done in private. and red paint. without their necessarily even sharing any common antistatist ideology. in order to produce situations conducive to the TAZ. The outing tactic was known as escrachar. giving the government lots and lots of negative publicity.55 It was quite similar to Ivan Illich’s earlier vision of “learning webs. and then “letting a thousand flowers bloom” when it comes to efforts to leverage it into political action. 56 Ibid. as ends in themselves .”57 55 Ibid. 57 John Kean. John Keane describes the practice. phone-phreaking”—no fiber-optics. put maximum effort into just getting the information out there. Norton & Company. And to be fair. hacking. the BBS networks. . of outing suspected murderers or torturers with the use of graffiti. issue-oriented advocacy groups arguably can have a significant effect on the state. The unofficial Web at the time he wrote. no cable. which will serve as the basis for a “new society emerging from the shell of the old. barbed wire. Bey envisioned the Web as an alternate. practically speaking. in oppressive Latin American regimes. the best way to maximize bang for the buck in such efforts is simply to capitalize on the potential of network culture: that is. spurred by their own outrage. Thus the Web. at times he seems open to the possibility that the Web and TAZs might coalesce into a successor society—he just downplays the possibility in favor of emphasizing the temporary and lifestylist nature of the TAZ.

59 John Robb. they didn’t start trying to organize a political movement to capitalize on it. . in the field of civil liberties. This is an example of what Robb calls “self-replication”: “create socially engineered copies of your organization through the use of social media.”58 The state and the large corporations are a bunch of cows floundering around in the Amazon. it will be leveraged into action by people in numbers many times larger than those of the particular alternative economic movement we are involved in. and a whole range of advocacy groups made their own use of it. acting independently.”59 It’s because of increased levels of general education and the diffusion of more advanced moral standards that countries around the world have had to rename their ministries of war “ministries of defense.typepad. what Radley Balko does every day. knowledge. They just published the info and a firestorm resulted. and the individual toothy little critters in the school of piranha. When Woodward and Bernstein uncovered June 3. just through his own efforts at exposing the cockroaches of law enforcement to the kitchen light. Even people who do not particularly sympathize with the aims of a counter-economic movement may be moved to outrage if the state’s enforcers can be put in a position of looking like Bull Connor. there are likely to be countless subgroups of people who oppose it for any number of idiosyncratic reasons of their own.html>. Basically.. and not from any single dogmatic principle.. The demonstration effect of the “Twitter Revolution” in Tunisia started a chain of dominoes throughout the Arab world—most notably in Egypt. 2010 <http://globalguerrillas. in sparking the Tunisian revolt. In the case of any particular state abuse of power or intervention into the economy. If we simply expose the nature of the state action and all its unjust particular effects. or consider the CNN series about gross civil forfeiture abuses in that town in Texas. will take care of the skeletonizing on their own. Bev Harris simply published the information. April 2. in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A good example in the networked information era is the Diebold case which we discussed in Chapter Two. “STANDING ORDER 8: Self-replicate.. As John Robb says: “The use of the media to communicate intent and to share innovation with other insurgent groups is a staple of open source insurgency.” It’s for the same reason that. 2009 <http://globalguerrillas.typepad. Consider. Wikileaks made the American ambassador’s private assessment of the regime’s corruption publicly available. and local dissident groups leveraged the information into a revolution. governments could no longer launch wars for reasons of naked Realpolitik on the model of the dynastic wars 58 John Robb.” Global Guerrillas.” Global Guerrillas.325 A good recent example is the role of Wikileaks. this means providing the motivation. “Links: 2 APR and focus necessary for an unknown person (external and totally unconnected to your group) to conduct operations that advance your group’s specific goals (or the general goals of the open source insurgency).html>. which we discuss in detail later in this chapter. Just get the information out there.

” Hence pretexts like the mistreatment of ethnic Germans in Danzig to justify Hitler’s invasion of Poland. The possibilities for recording police and other official misbehavior. and the Tonkin Gulf incident and Kuwaiti incubator babies as pretexts for American aggressions. Political leaders. as often as not. As you might expect. in such operations as Copwatch. as witnessed by the respective levels of anti-war mobilization in the first and second Gulf wars. rather. please” law—are an increasing source of embarrassment and pressure. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT of two centuries earlier.60 Global activism and condemnation of violations of human rights in countries like China and Iran—like American nationwide exposure and boycotts of measures like Arizona’s “papers. generally don’t take kindly to being recorded. NGOs and global civil society are emerging as a powerful countervailing force against both national governments and global frequently winds up going viral. governments and corporations frequently can find themselves isolated and exposed in the face of an intensely hostile global public opinion quite suddenly. thanks to networked global actors. That’s not to say that the pretexts had to be very good to fool the general public. which provides a national database of citizen complaints against individual local cops and whose local patrols regularly record police activity. This manifests itself. Video footage of police riots at antiglobalization demonstrations.htm#_ftn>. Network Age.panarchy. as well as beatings and other malfeasance by individual cops. last year’s protests in Iran. Innovation in technology and techniques is rapidly increasing the difficulty of police interference with citizen surveillance. As we saw in our earlier treatment of networked resistance. naturally.” . People recording the police. The police. can expect to be arrested for “interfering with police business” or have their cameras seized and footage deleted—despite the fact that it’s expressly legal in 47 states to record police in the performance of their public duties so long as you don’t physically interfere with them. More than one thinker on network culture has argued that network technology and the global justice movements piggybacked on it are diffusing more advanced global moral norms and putting increasing pressure on governments that violate those norms. this has simply led to police censorship being treated as damage and routed around. police and security officials around the world now crack down on protests with the knowledge that their actions could and 60 Paul Hartzog. Radley Balko writes: Twenty years after George Holiday’s grainy video of Los Angeles police officers beating motorist Rodney King spawned worldwide outrage and later incited riots across the city. in recent years. this year’s protests all across the Arab world and now the Occupy movements have all demonstrated just how far personal technology has come to empower citizens to combat government abuse. for example. they had to manufacture pretexts based on “selfdefense.326 CHAPTER 9. but network culture is changing that as well. “Panarchy: Governance in the <http://www. have exploded thanks to smart phones with video capability.

courts.html?1319905917>. And as examples of police reports contradicted by video become increasingly common. Carlos Miller. Now. October 29. and bad cops will be deterred by the knowledge that their misconduct is apt to be recorded.huffingtonpost... even in cases where there is no video..62 [Emphasis added] Another project. In the past. and delete an incriminating video. September 20. whose apps “secretly record media and then anonymously upload it. in both criminal proceedings of protesters charged with crimes and in civil suits brought by protesters alleging police abuse.” Reason. That means a copy of every user’s video is preserved off-site. . a couple of things are likely to happen: Prosecutors and courts will be less inclined to uncritically accept police testimony. Prior to this prosecutors and juries have mostly accepted police accounts of altercations with protesters as the official narrative. it may even be altering how police and governments react to dissent.61 Balko. there’s still a copy of the video elsewhere. “The amazing thing about these videos is that as soon as the police start to use force. 2010 <http://reason. 2011 <http://www." Smartphone apps like “Qik” and “UStream” now not only allow users to stream video in real time. by that time dozens of people may have already downloaded it. writing elsewhere. OpenWatch.. prosecutors and the courts nearly always deferred to the police narrative.327 quite likely will be beamed around the globe.” OpenWatch. who runs the Photography Is Not a Crime blog and has himself been wrongly arrested for recording or photographing police on a number occasions. If police or other government officials destroy a phone or confiscate a memory card. has been documenting the way technology is moving power to people (and the government’s push back) for several years..” Miller says. Which means that even if police are later able to get into a protester’s phone. 62 Radley Balko. is “a global participatory counter-surveillance project which uses cellular phones as a way of monitoring authority figures. It’s not only altering the balance of power and bringing new transparency and accountability to police and public officials. you see 15 cellphone cameras go up in the>. “It’s pretty’s hard to overstate the power of streaming and off-site archiving.” Huffington Post. The power-shifting nature of cellphone video may be most prominent in the court proceedings that take place after the protests are over. but they also then archive the video.” 61 Radley Balko. Users can also set up accounts to notify email lists or post updates to their Twitter or Facebook accounts the moment they stream a new video. it’s likely that any significant protest will have independent video shot from multiple angles to ferret out what actually happened. access a “Qik” or “UStream” account. “Tech-Savvy Occupy Protestors Use Cellphone Video. reinforces his earlier point about the moral effects of citizen video: . “How to Record the Cops. now that narrative has to be consistent with independently recorded evidence. Social Networking To Publicize Police Abuse.

we will be able to appeal to documentary evidence. lobbyists. This created an immediate power imbalance. . which means it cannot be used to combat the largest problem facing modern society: abuse of power. as the reader had no way to verify what they were being told. As we are unbound by technological restrictions. Ideally. The problem is the lopsided distribution of who is in control of that technology. we can aim to record every single time power is applied so that we may analyze global trends and provide a record for future historians. The surveillance state has arrived and it is here to stay. but also to highlight appropriate use. [New York ACLU Director Donna] Lieberman noted that video evidence had led to the dismissal of charges against 227 protesters from one location alone during the tumultuous week of demonstrations. journalists were limited by the number of words they could print on a page. bankers. this will mean less corruption. Now. OpenWatch aims to democratize this theory of ’scientific journalism’ championed by Julian Assange and apply it to citizen media. OpenWatch is not only intended to display abuse of> 64 “OpenWatch philosophy” <http://openwatch. and the problem is not the technology. Once upon a time. The recent ubiquity of mobile telephones with media recording capabilities and the ability to run any software the users chooses gives the public a very powerful tool. more open government and a more transparent society.openwatch. both on public perceptions of the police and on police self-perception. So the question remains: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"--roughly.328 CHAPTER 9.63 BLOCKOpenWatch is a participatory citizen media project aiming to provide documentary evidence of uses and abuses of power. In this age of terabyte storage and fibre-optic broadband. There is a>. The benefit to society in terms of security and justice is too great for it to ever go away. judges. private security agents. principals and politicians: be mindful! We are watching!64 Citizen video has had a revolutionary effect. “We’ve already seen that the videos of what happened on the Brooklyn 63 <http://www. not just our word against theirs. They would have to highlight the facts that they felt were most important to a story and ignore the facts they felt were less important. however. we can capture it and make it become part of the public record. Whenever any of us come in contact with power being used or abused. Surveillance technology is currently only in the hands of those who are already in power. we are all equipped to become opportunistic journalists. Police. there is no reason that every single story can’t be accompanied with verifiable source material. corporate executives. OPEN SOURCE CIVIL LIBERTIES ENFORCEMENT is “the web counterpart to the Cop Recorder and OpenWatch Recorder applications for Android and iPhone. lawyers. Who watches the watchers? This is where OpenWatch comes in. If we seek truth and justice.

” a veteran Bronx cop told the paper. let them slap you. won’t make the same difference as putting that stuff on YouTube and the evening news will do. Protesters’ cameras have created many of the iconic images of this movement: NYPD supervisor Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying several women at point-blank range. a legal observer being run over by a police scooter and then hit with a baton by another cop.” says Ratner. “You can’t be a police officer no more. You’re under the microscope. president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “And I think we’ll see this as more and more videos emerge of people being beaten. told AlterNet that the video of the women writhing on the ground in agony might end up having an effect similar to that of the infamous civil rights-era footage of Bull Connor setting dogs on black protesters in the South.329 Bridge are being used to urge dismissal of those hundreds of arrests there. “The morale in the whole department is in the crapper. “I think it was among the many factors that galvanized the public to stop cheering from their computer screens and go down to Wall Street to be part of this protest movement. Thanks to the worldwide exposure enabled by the Internet.” he said. a marine – and Iraq vet -yelling at befuddled cops that ’these are American citizens and they have no guns. Because all the lawsuits we can bring. “That just changed how Northerners viewed the Southern struggles. Videos of police abuse at traffic stops.” Alternet.’ These images helped propel a small movement into a global phenomenon.” Cameras aren’t just shining a light on aggressive crowd control. Lieberman said of the pepper-spraying incident. the downpressors found themselves experiencing one deer-in-headlights moment after another. We feel like the perpetrators now.”.alternet.” she added. Internet surveillance has begun to act as at least a partial 65 Joshua Holland. Until the rise of networked communications and easy publishing on the Internet. “We just encourage everyone to get out there with their cameras.” he said."65 Let’s review. October 24.. “stop-and-frisk” incidents and just about everywhere else litter YouTube. was just a matter of course.. the way we’re being displayed. but it’s absolutely crucial to get your cameras out there. the constant scrutiny is having an effect on rank-andfile officers. “You’re a robot. 2011 <http://www. sprayed and unlawfully caged during these protests. let them arrest you. which we should resolve five years from>. from Chapter Two. You’re under video surveillance. our discussion of how networked support movements challenged the balance of power between authoritarian governments and social justice movements. . or the campaign against Shell in Nigeria. the quiet military suppression of a movement like the Zapatistas. “How Video of Police Behaving Badly Made Occupy Wall Street a Global Phenomenon. Cameras have become an integral part of activists’ legal strategy. As a result. a protester – later identified as activist Felix Rivera-Pitre – being spun around and punched in the face by a cop. “Let the cops push you around.” Michael Ratner. and according to the New York Daily News.

” in which transnationally networked NGOs helped deter the Mexican government and army from attacking the Zapatistas militarily.. in December>.” The Next Web. 50-52. Mona needed a huge campaign which made it costlier to keep her than to release her.. At best..” The Next Web. 2011 <http://thenextweb.” Given the situation. Most recently. Swarming & the Future of Conflict DB-311 (Santa Monica.330 CHAPTER>. 67 Drew Olanoff.66 The same is not doubt true of the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and video recorders. December 22. 2011 <http://thenextweb. Internet freedom activists launched an allout social media assault on the domain name service GoDaddy for its support of the SOPA Internet censorship bill. pro forma announcement to the effect that “we still support IP protections. The funniest part was that GoDaddy customer service reps were calling up customers and begging them not to move their domain names. What Zeynep Tufekci calls the “networked public sphere” almost certainly played a large role in the release of Egyptian activist Mona Al Tahawy. “Cheezburger CEO Threatens to Move GoDaddy Domains.67 Such public exposure puts the state on the defensive." As Tufekci commented. at the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together demonstrations. 2000). in Fall 2011. GoDaddy lost some very prominent accounts--most importantly Ben Huh’s Cheezburger. “Go Daddy Now Making Calls Begging You to Stay. such questions would have been meaningless in the pre-Internet days. Tufekci judged that the best course of action was to “kick up a big>.” It didn’t