The profiteers of division

As nations progressed into the third age of supranational power, merchants who were formerly privileged servants to the aristocracy began to marry and socialize with aristocrats, giving new political power to the merchant class. Merchants had been holding the purse strings for the nobility for some time, but suddenly there was a path of social mobility from a ruthless commoner to the nobility, an idea which has intrigued social climbers and romance novelists ever since.

Banks and factories were established for trade speculation, not to feed the populations which had never needed either. Instead of just selling an artisan’s goods, the merchants used their new wealth to lock artisans in factories and extract ever more goods from them. Monumental architecture was now built not for trappings of civilization, royal palaces or edifices of state or religion, but as symbols of merchant power. Lawyers became more prosperous than ever, writing the new laws to transfer all imperial authority to trade and commerce. The new merchant politicians convinced the public that the new laws were freedom from imperial control and a path to equality with the aristocracy, which, for the merchants, they were. Stratification of society and all the intellectual prose required to justify it allowed slaves, indentured servants and waged labour to be owned by the merchant class, even as political rhetoric preached equality and human rights. Any law benefiting trade was said to benefit society and any law restricting trade was said to harm society. Discussion of society was restricted to only one strata of men as trade economy became synonymous with governance and merchants became synonymous with the people.

The abstract power of the trade economy, not military might, allowed Europe to finally conquer the Ottoman Empire. The Crimean War placed the Ottoman State in debt to European banks. When it declared bankruptcy in 1875, its economy was placed under control of a European council headed by France and Britain who ensured their trade ambitions finally prevailed[cite]. During World War I, Britain, France, and Russia planned the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire with the Sykes–Picot Agreement[cite]. Under the initial agreement and subsequent treaties and agreements, France and the UK established trade dominance in the Middle East for themselves and their allies. Part of the propaganda from the self-described Islamic State today is that they will remove the effects of these agreements and reestablish an Islamic caliphate throughout the region, fulfilling the prophesy in a hadith in Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal which predicted a caliphate would fall and be succeeded by corrupt tyrants which would eventually be succeeded again by return to a caliphate.

It takes no imagination to understand how unpopular it would be to the still very much in existence trade empires established after World War I if a caliphate were to rise in this region again and engage in preferential trade within the caliphate. The reaction of the world to the human rights horrors committed by cartels and militias everywhere else is almost non-existent, but ISIS is a constant fixture in western media. Besides the Islamic State group, Boko Haram have threatened to reestablish the Sokoto Caliphate in West Africa which would include Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and largest economy. The fact that the leaders of neither Boko Haram nor the Islamic State seem to have even rudimentary knowledge of Islam shows how religion is still being used on both sides to motivate support for a very irreligious trade war. China and Russia have no claims to a religious goal but are as engaged as ever in conflicts over the old silk road and all the other trade routes. Secularism has done nothing to promote peace on trade routes where the real religion is the trade economy.

In the 16th century, banks funded trading companies regardless of nationality and those trading companies brought their goods to every part of the world, not just their own. In 1600, the British East India Company was formed and rapidly rose to control half the world’s trade[cite]. The Company’s board of directors ruled India for one century, supervising both government and military according to the wishes of its shareholders, until it was replaced by the British colonial government in 1858. The merchant class of the 16th century had become the first supranational class, above government and not bound by any laws created by governments.

From 1773 until 1860, the British East India Company smuggled opium illegally into China. Despite two wars fought over the trade, China was unsuccessful in stopping the smuggling until they legalized production at home in 1860[cite]. The trade economy’s claims to enrich the societies it engaged were no more real at its beginning than they are now that fentanyl dealers in China are returning the favour with unstoppable postal shipments to the outside[cite]. International traders not bound by the laws of those they trade with has always been a staple of the trade economy and a primary source of its wealth.

In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was established and became the world’s largest company during the 17th century[cite]. It was given near governmental powers, including the ability to establish its own colonies and armies, wage war and negotiate treaties. It printed its own currency and had its own judiciary, prisons and executions which the Dutch government recognized as legal. Under the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch empire was run with profitability for shareholders as its sole goal. Subsistence crops were replaced by crops with maximum profitability to the point that repeated famines devastated the local populations under Company control. The indigenous populations were replaced by slave populations from India, Southeast Asia and East Africa. The trade goods and the majority of profits were removed to enrich the Netherlands. In 1800, the company went bankrupt and the area it controlled was nationalized under the Dutch government as the Dutch East Indies until the people there gained independence after World War II.

With independence, Indonesians had control of their own government but the dependence on trade and the merchant pillage remained. Indonesia is a member of the G-20 forum and it now has the world’s eighth largest economy by gross domestic product at purchasing power parity[cite] but its income disparity is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The Indonesian government reported 28.2 million people living in “absolute poverty”[cite] in 2016, on an income around US$25 a month. Food price stability is still a major problem. The tyrants went home but the tyranny remained.

In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company was formed in England and given a similar governing role. It claimed 15% of all land in North America, one and a half million square miles[cite], making it the world’s largest land owner at least in their own minds. The HBC also minted its own currency, the MB (Made Beaver), with a value based on a standard beaver pelt and paper money based on UK currency. The courts and legal system, operated by HBC managers, enforced the HBC trade monopoly. In 1867, the HBC chose to sell the land they claimed to the new Dominion of Canada.

There is very little difference between the former Hudson’s Bay Company and Canada. Both were primarily resource corporations. The stripes of the blankets the Hudson’s Bay traded to indigenous people are still as iconic a Canadian emblem as the maple leaf flag. The government of Canada and indigenous nations still negotiate at opposite sides of bargaining tables and court rooms.The beaver, the animal whose pelts the company was initially established to trade for, still appears on Canadian currency. The court systems under both were established primarily to enforce ownership and monopolies by the merchant and banking strata. Canada today has a structure of laws that is unequaled in the world at protecting resource corporations in their global pillage. It has been rewarded by 78%[cite] of the world’s resource corporations choosing to incorporate in Canada to take advantage of this protection. These resource corporations employ militias to force their pillage and destruction on people’s homes in 108 countries[cite]. Instead of appearing in court for their human rights and environmental violations, they conduct their own remedy frameworks[cite] and pay fines instead of receiving jail time.

As a state, Canada has the ability to lobby for resource corporations at international state organizations such as the UN and refuse to sign laws supporting free prior informed consent[cite]. As a state, Canada has embassies all over the world which it uses to strong arm weaker governments into intimidating and assassinating those who protest its resource corporations[cite]. The state has a pretty flag and nationalist sentiment and credibility the company could never have acquired. The people call themselves citizens, not employees, but there is no question that the government’s primary function is as an employer. The government is there to provide jobs, trade product internationally and protect industry. The Prime Minister in 2016 ignored the free prior informed consent of Canada’s own people and approved two oil pipelines widely opposed by the people who will be affected by the environmental damage from them. Canada’s interests are resource corporations interests. Within Canada, the government’s benefit to the public is to provide jobs by increasing corporate activity, not to protect the environment where everyone lives. The three major political parties traditionally represent nationalist corporations, free trade corporations and unions although it is impossible now to tell them apart.

The United Fruit Co (now Chiquita) chose a less direct path of corporate control. In the late 1800’s, a US business man built a railroad connecting Costa Rica’s capital to its Caribbean coast in exchange for a 99 year lease on the railroad and 800,000 acres of tax-free land.[cite] The company’s monopoly on land use rights and transportation by both rail and sea allowed him near complete control over the country’s economy and a near monopoly on employment in Central America that allowed him to treat employees almost as slaves. Their economy depended on producing one product for one corporation, leaving them no option to demand better terms from their one employer.

As United Fruit expanded, it did not bother governing the countries it occupied. It was enough to control them with bribes, lobbying and the threat of war. Puppet governments were put in place that would sign crippling trade agreements and destroy any autonomy which may have given them the ability to resist. The countries in Central America and the Caribbean under United Fruit were left with no autonomy and no control over their supposedly democratic governance since to vote in their best interests meant war with the United States. The might of the United States military supporting business owners from the US meant that any government which supported any benefit to its people was labeled communist and threatened or crushed. In 1954, United Fruit convinced the US governments under Truman and Eisenhower to oust the democratically elected Guatamala president with a coup for proposing agrarian reform and labour laws[cite]. Obedient politicians served the corporation that paid them, not the people.

Since multinational companies were created in the 1600’s, the people of the world have been living under state governments and the state governments have been controlled by a supranational merchant empire. It is a popular notion that the British empire died over the course of the last century, with almost all of its overseas holdings gaining independence, including the United States which is popularly considered to be the new power. The British empire did not die and the United States is not a new power. No one received independence from the supranational trade empire and anyone who attempts it will still be crushed today. North Korea’s Juche is seen as an affront to the world and they are regularly called a pariah state by United States media in apparent reference to their attempt at autonomy (since human rights abuses in trade partners do not provoke the same reaction). Most of the world, including North Korea, lives under the shadow of the supranational trade empire in the form of trade agreements, world banking and international law.

After World War II, the five main seats of the British empire became the five eyes and they are in every way one empire, even one state or nation. This is the special relationship the United States and the United Kingdom always referred to between themselves. The United States was never an empire because it appeared when the world had passed the second age of empire states. The five eyes states all answer to the same supranational power, they obey the same international trade laws and they have the same goals of maximum profit for their investors, as do the supposedly independent state satellites who are more numerous and more interdependent every year.

Every other European trade empire is also still intact. They have all just evolved past direct government control. Areva still plunders Françafrique to power France[cite]. West African dictators plunder their own states and launder the money through France[cite] just as dictators around the world plunder their own states and hide the profit in United States[cite] shell corporations or real estate in New York, London and Vancouver[cite]. The states which make up the so-called anti-imperialist alliance, the Non-Aligned Movement, are not in any way anti-imperialist either. The same corporate names are on the skyscrapers and in the government offices of Shanghai, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai. The same ugly corporate architecture, the same ugly corporate suits and the same bland, mass-produced products are on the streets of every city in the world.

State power has now been almost completely undermined by international corporate power. From international trade deals which override sovereignty and state judiciary to militaries owned by corporate mercenaries, the most important functions of states have been taken over by corporations. Corporations own nearly all of the world’s resources, including knowledge, and people work for the corporations, not the community or state. People are dependent on corporations for all of their societal needs which are now seldom provided by the community or state.

The wealthy are now wealthy for being wealthy. The former merchant classes have followed the old nobility of the second age in convincing the public to continue serving them for no reason except habit and the laws they wrote themselves. The third age supranational empire no longer belongs solely to the merchants but is attainable to any with the right connections. The imperial power is above states, which means power is just as attainable by stateless organizations such as militias, cartels or state intelligence as it is by merchants or states. As mercenary kingpin Erik Prince has said[cite], the US was founded by militias and as he proved, the militias do not owe allegiance to states but the other way around.

The third stage supranational empires are most often associated with Europe, but it is far too simplistic to depict Europe as the oppressor of the world or the creator of the trade economy based on one moment in history. Europe had the upper hand on their old rivals in the Middle East, China, Africa, and India briefly, but the others caught up again quickly and they were all joined by the merchant classes who had risen to the top of their regions in every part of the world. Those outside Europe were behind in, but no less part of, the oppression of indigenous resistance worldwide. The contemporary habit of ignoring both the present and the past to depict old empires like China, Russia, or Egypt as anti-imperialist is obfuscating propaganda. The recent faux communism practiced in China and Russia did not daunt the imperial ambitions of either state, even when they called it communist internationalism. At this point, all the old players are openly back in the same battle over the same trade routes they have been fighting over for two millennia as well as all the other resources on earth. Pretending otherwise has derailed resistance efforts since the beginning of the third age, as all efforts were spent attempting to replace bad guys (Europeans) with good guys (non-Europeans) while leaving the supranational trade empire intact. Puppet states which pledged allegiance to the trade empire were hailed as self-determination while any attempts to opt out of the trade empire were brutally crushed.

History as told by Europeans would like us to believe that Europeans were fully responsible for the conquest which established them in the seats of power but indigenous people worldwide were far more involved in choosing the trade empire than they are ever given credit for and the trade empire remained in power even where the Europeans did not. The so-called Spanish, English, French and Portuguese conquest of the Americas could never have happened without what their history euphemistically called Indian allies, alliances of nations who vastly outnumbered the Europeans in every case and overthrew the existing empires or rival nations with the help of a few Europeans and their guns.

The indigenous women history deplores as sex slaves who had no autonomy or initiative were sometimes powerful to the point that it would be more accurate to call the Europeans their concubines, or even more accurate to call it a partnership. Hernán Cortés and his little band of 1300 men[cite] would not have survived, much less conquered the Aztec alliance, without the connections and actions of La Malinche[cite] throughout their campaign and her ability to negotiate alliances with all of the indigenous nations which provided the hundreds of thousands of warriors who overthrew the Aztecs[cite]. The Incas failed to retake Cuzco during the siege of 1536, not because of the 190 Spanish soldiers[cite] present but because of the army of tens of thousands1 sent by the Inca kuraka, Contarhucho[cite] in response to a message from her daughter, the Inca princess, Quispe Sisa who was living with the Spanish ‘conquistador’ Francisco Pizarro. The combination of European bragging and photoshopping of all indigenous and female people out of history has given a very unrealistic view of the conquest of every nation on earth by the trade economy. It was not a few European men who conquered the world, it was an idea.

While no indigenous people, including those of Europe, chose the genocide and social ills that befell them after the trade empires moved in, and few chose oppressive foreign governance, the structure of the trade empire was both chosen and continued in use by enough of the population that it was impossible to overcome. Many first age tribes still resist, and within each tribe there were always individuals who never stopped resisting, but the appeal of the trade economy to certain members of each society is universal. Would all areas of earth have developed into third age dissociated empires without Europe? It is impossible to tell, but all areas on earth had trade empires and fully dissociated societies where everything is for sale are a logical conclusion of trade empires. It is not necessarily true that these trade empires would have emerged as the dominant second age form of society in all places, but once the third age merchant ponzi scheme was established it was an unstoppable vortex, destined to spread as ponzi schemes do until they collapse, upheld by the desperate and the greedy worldwide.

While the first age tribal nations were all contained under the domain of the current states, many still exist today living very much as they have for thousands of years, completely autonomously and without even any contact with those outside their nations. Of the second age trade empires, none survived. Within a few centuries, every region on earth was under the domain of one system of states under a supranational empire and the second age of nations no longer existed anywhere. Once the process of dissociation and acceptance of a trade economy began, the supranational empire won, in every case and against empires far more evolved and beneficial to the people. Without understanding how the supranational empire won, we can never evolve past it.

Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.

There are no nation states

Nation has always been a fuzzy term. Even in times when distance, mountains and rivers posed insurmountable barriers to assimilation, when nations were divided by language, dress, laws and beliefs, both the customs and the populations of these nations were constantly evolving.

States have no resemblance to nations. States are created by the highly militarized partitioning of societies into economic markets and property ownership completely regardless of who the people in those states are or how the creation of the state divides and restricts our nations.

While nations are living and fluid and variable depending on context and perspective, states are an attempt to freeze one official historical viewpoint for all time. States preserve culture to prevent it from living, keep it steeped in formaldehyde unable to breathe and grow. Nations as defined by states are inviolable, to suggest change is sacrilegious, to question perspective or boundaries is deemed intolerable.

The reality of layered and overlapping nations, of intersections, of cooperation and flexibility is denied by the rigid borders and uniformity of states. Traditions of fluid property custodianship, sharing and merging are rejected for one tradition of rigid ownership clamped down and made law for every region on earth. Ethnic and societal realities of no fixed lines between groupings are ignored for false categorizing. While nations are gathered for community, cooperation and sharing, states are imposed for segregating, competing and allocating.

Nations create Us, states create the Other.

While nations reveled in their diversity, states decree a homogenized sameness, a world where everyone wears the same grey suits, international law assures uniform belief systems worldwide, the trade economy is the one god all must serve to survive. Like agricultural crops, people are raised in the manner most efficient for industry, the same worldwide. Nations are people, states are corporations.

States insist partitions between identical blocks of people are necessary for safety. States seek to divide and categorize. Diverse nations already do live together and overlap peacefully everywhere. Nations have fought over resources many times in the past. The problems associated with trade economy are applicable whether ownership is international, national, regional or private and will only be addressed by addressing trade economy. It is no less awful for people to be killed by a foreign corporation pillaging resources than by competing local nations. States did not bring peace to these problems, they brought totalitarian rule by global resource mafia. People in different nations sometimes oppose each others values to the point they wish to shun each other. International boycotts such as the BDS campaign against Israel prove this solution does not require states and indeed, states only boycott for economic interest, not human rights.

Nations are ideas and traditions which exist across borders and generations and they cannot be killed. States are tied to the property they control and they die without militaries and coercive laws to keep them in power. States attempt to present themselves as prefab nations, as if control of property and written laws and constitutions can be applied to populations and everyone in a geographical region will suddenly become bonded with national identity. Everywhere in the world nations such as the Kurds, Kachin, Catalan and many others refuse assimilation and states such as the five eyes prove they will never be anything but corporations.

Kill the states. Let the nations breathe.

Governance by user groups

This article is part of a series: ‘Stigmergy: Systems of Mass Collaboration’.

Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups, 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. What these authorities govern is a series of systems, controlled by the state or corporations, and run as dictatorships where workers’ individual rights are exchanged for the basic necessities of life. These systems have profit and control for the top of the hierarchy as their objective; they are not set up to provide an efficient or superior service or product to the users.

If these systems were organized as autonomous, permeable, transparent user groups, 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 or that many systems are of far wider concern than one state. We need responsibility and control to rest with the entire user group and functionality for the entire user group, not profit or power, should be the objective.


Each user group should consist of all people affected by the system and no people not affected by the system.

The debate around who the user group is would be the most challenging aspect of this type of governance. When the United States passes laws that allow them to indefinitely detain people around the world, or builds up a massive military, the user group allowed input ought obviously to include everyone with the potential to have their individual rights violated. The potential for hot debate occurs in situations such as abortion where some will argue that only the person pregnant is entitled to an opinion and others that the unborn child also has rights. Still others will argue the loss of a potential child in the future gives the father a vote as well. There are very convincing arguments for each of these positions, which will have to rely in large part on what the underlying principles of individual rights are accepted to be, but it would be impossible to argue that a state could require women to have an internal ultrasound prior to an abortion the state has already agreed the woman is entitled to.

In environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic, the few who live in the area must have their rights considered along with the rights of the planet. The global commons deserve an overriding bill of rights similar to the basic individual rights, which are always consulted before the rights of any other user group. Then a balance needs to be struck between the needs of the population, who may, for instance, require (or choose) a seal hunt to ensure the fish population or seal products they need to survive, and the rights of the planet which is not particularly affected by it. The opinion of the people in the rest of the world who may be revolted by the seal hunt must not be allowed to override the needs or wishes of those who live there unless they can prove actual longterm negative impact to the environment. The solution for those revolted will be discussed in Farmgate Importing.

Gun control laws in Arctic Canada dictated through democracy by people in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, would be illogical and unfair. The concerns of people in those cities would need to be considered regarding any weapons that were brought within range of causing harm to the people there, but communities should decide local matters for themselves. Drilling for oil in the Arctic is at the other end of the spectrum, and for one or a group of nations or corporations to assert a ‘right’ to drill for oil in the Arctic, dump iron fertilizer and radioactive material into the Pacific or oil and dispersants into the Atlantic is a violation of the rights of the global commons. Oceans do not even belong to one generation much less one species, one nation or one corporation.

The above examples are not presented as subjects for debate here, just to illustrate the obvious difficulties that will arise in defining user groups. These examples dramatically increase in complexity in the more densely populated and diverse parts of the world.

User groups are seldom simply entire nations and there are users of differing levels of involvement in each system. International systems would include things such as the internet, telecommunications and knowledge, local systems would include things such as transit, food production and social services, and in any situation where only one family or an individual is affected, the responsibility would lie with only them. Each local user group or individual should have access to outside user groups for trade, shared knowledge, disaster relief, etc., autonomous but networked into a larger society for mutual support.

Individual rights

While individual rights applied equally for all works in some cases, sometimes there are conflicting priorities and needs. Censorship on the internet interferes with freedom of speech, but hate speech primarily attacks only vulnerable groups. Invasion of privacy has been conveniently defined by groups such as reddit administrators and moderators to include the names of men posting creepshots but not the naked bodies of women and children posted to the site. The rights of paparazzi to freedom of speech have been allowed to completely overwhelm the rights of women with public jobs to privacy or security which then infringes on their freedom of speech. The right to information about actions which affect the public has been transformed to the right to invade the privacy of any person the media deems newsworthy. The right to produce and broadcast violence has been allowed to overwhelm the right of vulnerable populations to feel secure.

Individual rights need to ensure consideration and respect for all; those that are decrepit or ill, those that are not fully matured, those that can give birth, those that are raising children or are in other ways directly responsible for the wellbeing of others, as well as the general population, without special interest groups having to form and lobby for their voices to be amplified. In defining all rights, special care must be taken that those rights will not infringe on the rights of others. In this way systems which respect individual rights can operate autonomously knowing they are infringing on no others.

Global commons

Anything which is not only of global interest but also does not belong to any one generation cannot be destroyed and cannot be claimed as the property of any individual, group, corporation or government. Global commons would include space, the atmosphere and electromagnetic field, deep sea ocean, land and water masses of sufficient size to have global impact, areas of the biosphere which are rare or important enough to be of global concern, and knowledge. Knowledge includes discoveries, history, creative works, and the information people require in order to govern themselves and excludes personal information regarding individuals. If society is to progress, there should be no restriction on the use of ideas, although creativity needs to be compensated and credited.

Anything belonging to the global commons must be held under stewardship of a porous and transparent organization set up for the purpose, and the mandate for all global commons must include the protection and preservation of the commons. Like individual rights, the needs of the global commons must take precedence over all user groups.


Contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all users. Expertise can be assessed and acquired in concentric user groups, and work can be contributed and accepted or rejected by stigmergy. Having all German federal law and regulations on github is a great idea, but only if pull requests are allowed from the people affected by the laws of Germany. An open meritocratic working group provides workers with autonomy, mastery and purpose. People can work on anything they like, they are not required to submit resumes, acquire accreditation, seniority, or approval from an individual authority. If their work is good enough it will be accepted by the user group. Everyone can work on the system that interests them, doing the jobs at the level they are capable of, with as much or as little involvement as they choose. If the worker is also part of the user group, the benefits to themselves are immediate and obvious. The most effective way to prevent producer and consumer conflict of interests is to eliminate separation between the two. The farmer who eats their own food has an interest in producing healthy food.


All information related to the system must be fully transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing and to learn how to contribute to the system. Transparency allows every user of the system to explain to anyone interested what is being developed and why, why the structure is the way it is and any other information new users require. Transparency allows users to act as the knowledge bridges to train new users.

If individual rights and the rights of global commons are accepted as being paramount, every user group should, subject only to these conditions, be entitled to govern themselves.

Individuals in society

This article is part of a series: ‘Stigmergy: Systems of Mass Collaboration’.

“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” John Stuart Mill, ‘On Liberty’

“Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights.” ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’

Throughout these writings on collaboration it is assumed that individual rights are inherent in every system. As unhealthy cells can never create a healthy whole, a weakened people stripped of their basic rights will never create a healthy society.

In any system where groups have power, individual rights are always at risk. Both pure democracy and communism have brought human rights horrors every bit as reprehensible as fascist states; in order to guard against genocide, torture, and other persecution of individuals in the name of the greater good, a society must safeguard individual rights above all other authority.

In order for any society to ensure its survival without the use of tyrannical force, the members must be convinced that it is better than the alternative. If an alternative or no society at all appears more attractive than the current state, people will naturally be motivated to dismantle the current system. In order for a society to appear more attractive than no society at all, we need to consider the basic rights of individuals in no society. There are certain basic rights that we can see enjoyed by most mammals in their natural state; to ensure people do not need to resort to fighting for these basic rights, we can enshrine them in our social contract. If people can see their basic rights more attainable within the system than without, it will be in their best interests to protect the system.

Every undomesticated mammal will seek and sometimes fight for their basic needs: food, shelter, safety, the right to reproduce and to provide for and educate their young, the right to cohabit, at least with offspring, some measure of privacy, the right to associate or refuse to associate, the right to communicate, the right to explore and the right to learn. To some extent, all mammals have also the right to choose the time, place and method of their work within the bounds of nature and survival. Any interference with these basic rights is seen as an attack and will be greeted with whatever defence the mammal is capable of.

If an individual agrees to abide by the laws of a society and not attack it, it is reasonable that the society provides means for all members to attain the same advantages they would fight for in a state of nature. When a society refuses to allow its members to attain basic needs such as food, shelter and safety, and the deprivation is not caused by unavailability, only the most extreme repressive force and mass imprisonment will protect the society from revolution.

Given access to basic needs, the commonly recognized advantage undomesticated mammals have which their domesticated counterparts do not is freedom. Domesticated mammals are widely recognized as being in some sort of slavery, though it is popular lately to equate their status to a permanently infantilized ‘member of the family’ instead, unless they are destined to be eaten. In either case, they do not have the free will they would have in a state of nature. They will never attain an adult, autonomous status or the dignity of self actualization.

When speaking of both domesticated animals and humans, many people question why they would even want free will. They are, after all, completely taken care of, subject of course to the whims of their masters. Given proper laws to ensure benevolent masters, what is so bad about slavery or perpetual childhood? The idea that we are all entitled to our human dignity is perhaps more easily understood. We do not have human dignity when we lose not just our basic rights to survival but also our free will and our right to reach our full potential. We do not have human dignity when we are not treated as responsible, intelligent, participating members of society. We do not have human dignity when we are kept in a state below what we are capable of achieving or in a system which fails to recognize where we naturally excel. And we do not have human dignity in a system where our basic needs are treated not as a right but as a privilege which we must earn and be grateful for and which a higher parental authority can remove from us.

It has become a common and accepted part of society that when people reach an age where they ought to have attained adulthood, they frequently express ‘unreasonable’ dissatisfaction, in the form of riots or other violence against their society. Where a socioeconomic excuse for this behaviour can be found, this will be commonly used by sociologists to justify the incidents but when the perpetrators come from the most advantaged segments of society, puzzlement and frustration are typical. Rebellion is completely expected by childhood development experts when caregivers refuse to allow a child the independence required for them to attain adulthood; it is curious that the same expectation is not attached to a society that refuses to allow people to attain adult status and responsibility.

Current political systems around the world typically discuss individual rights from the role of either a ‘good’ parent or ‘bad’ parent. The harsh parent will argue that individuals must bear full responsibility for all that happens to them, in the form of severe punishment for infractions of rules and no aid in times of need, and the benevolent parent will argue for all encompassing care for each member of society. Neither argues for individual rights that would give not just responsibility but also authority to the people, as this would eliminate the political systems as they exist today.

The rights all individuals in a society are entitled to are typically enshrined in a constitutional or human rights document at a national or international level. Because these documents are frequently produced at times following revolution, newly won independence, or other periods of great awareness, they tend to reflect the ideals of the people in the society. They frequently include life, liberty, security of person, access to the basic essentials of life including knowledge, privacy and personal autonomy in matters not affecting the rest of society, free development of personality and potential, and an unbiased and accessible legal system which does not promote the wishes of the group over the rights of the individual. The rights in these documents form the social contract between individuals and society. Each individual agrees that they will work for the greater good of the society and protect the individual rights of others in exchange for having their own rights protected. This contract is essential in a system of governance that is not simply mob rule, or despotic rule.

If a governing authority were to pass laws in contradiction to the social contract, the government would be in breach of contract. The people in the society can then remove the authority given to the government or consider the contract null and void and declare a state of no governance from which a new social contact may or may not be formed. The governing body loses authority when it acts in contradiction to the social contract. A ruling such as that in the Supreme Court of Canada, which found that the government of Canada had violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the case of Omar Khadr and yet left the government with the authority to decide the remedy, while legally justifiable under current Canadian law, is a logically incorrect action in a society of free people.

If mob rule is allowed to change the social contract to remove rights from individuals in the name of the greater good, the social contract with each member of society is also null and void. If the point of a social contract is that each individual agrees that they will work for the greater good of the society and protect the individual rights of others in exchange for having their own rights protected, every violation of anyone’s rights needs to be of grave concern to the whole of society. The greater good has never and will never be served by laws which violate individual rights for the benefit of overall society.

Almost every law which violates a social contract is brought in as a one time exception that will only violate the rights of a certain minority group and will only apply in one or very few scenarios. It is usually presented as a protection of the rights of a highly sympathetic group with majority approval and accompanied by demonization of the target minority group. Sweeping surveillance of the internet is marketed as protecting children from pedosadists and to allow law enforcement to prevent child pornography, despite all evidence that it does nothing of the kind and is not actually intended to. Internet users are depicted as potential pedosadists and pirates of copyrighted material, particularly if they have privacy concerns or fight against censorship. Internment of all Japanese citizens in Canada during World War II, the USA Patriot Act which criminalized providing expert advice or assistance (including legal) to designated terrorists, the massive worldwide loss of rights and liberty, not to mention life, in the name of ‘counter terrorism’, the ‘state of emergency’ invoked around the world at various times which, once invoked, frequently becomes a permanent state, it is very easy to find countless examples of rights violations in law at this time. In every instance, these societies have broken their social contract; they have become coercive societies which now must rule by force.

These sweeping changes are usually preceded by creeping changes felt only by the marginalized in society and frequently billed as ‘for their own good’, such as various laws and regulations in both Canada and Holland which restrict legal prostitution in ways that would not be tolerated in other legal careers. In practice, the marginalized members of any society seldom enjoy the rights that form society’s contract with them. Until every member of society makes it their business to defend the rights of every member of society, no society will be safe from these encroachments.

If the marginalized group can be given a group name, anything from ‘Palestinians’ to ‘terrorists’ to’Anonymous’, the success of the violation of their rights is far more likely. If the majority of the population does not identify as part of the victimized group they are easily able to accept the loss of rights, especially if it is accompanied by propaganda to villainize the group. In this case, the entire society has broken their social contract and the society has lost legitimacy.

In the United States this concept of ‘other’ was carried to the entire rest of the world, and it was not until the government passed legislation in the form of the 2012 NDAA which attempted to treat US citizens in the same manner that illegal immigrants and the entire rest of the world were treated that the law was challenged. Such an extreme case suggests a strong need for a worldwide social contract which tolerates no ‘others’, particularly as states put defence of their citizens as their first priority. It is easy from there to justify defending citizens not by supporting them but instead by persecuting others. Individual rights must apply to every individual, and every law, including those of borders and nationality, which differentiate between groups will undermine individual rights.

Human Rights Law

Currently, the world has not fought for individual human rights in large numbers since the end of World War II which left us with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those rights have been subject to a guardian coup d’état, largely unnoticed by most of the world. Historically, a lack of awareness of violations to social contracts was both real and excusable, and the ability to organize in protest was severely hampered. That is no longer the case.

Since the UDHR was written in 1948 it has been under relentless attack as has every other documentation of rights before or since. Although the preamble clearly states the intent to “strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction” the text, widely distributed in early years, is now rarely seen. The Covenants adopted in 1966, law since 1976, billed as ‘clarifying the UDHR’ and written in far more convoluted terms, are one of the first significant examples of legal undermining which, if the principles of the UDHR had been followed, would never have passed.

For example:

UDHR Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

was completely negated by the Covenants, which start by adding the word ‘arbitrarily’, and then proceed to remove the right to life from everyone not under 18 or pregnant. (Even this was disregarded by the law in several countries, most notably the United States.):

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 6
1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.

3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.

5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.

6. Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.

UDHR Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

was modified to separate “forced or compulsory labour” as somehow separate from “slavery or servitude” and allow prison labour, which has since become a thriving slave industry. It also includes enough vague generality to be very flexible in allowing any form of state slavery.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 8:
1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
2. No one shall be held in servitude.
3. (a) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;
(b) Paragraph 3 (a) shall not be held to preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court;
(c) For the purpose of this paragraph the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
(i) Any work or service, not referred to in subparagraph (b), normally required of a person who is under detention in consequence of a lawful order of a court, or of a person during conditional release from such detention;
(ii) Any service of a military character and, in countries where conscientious objection is recognized, any national service required by law of conscientious objectors;
(iii) Any service exacted in cases of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
(iv) Any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations.

In case there was anything left of the UDHR that may hinder a state from doing exactly as they please, it is made clear that the state may limit any of these rights “solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society” which instantly renders the entire body of human rights law as, in the words of George W Bush describing the US constitution, “just a g-d piece of paper”.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Article 4:

The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, in the enjoyment of those rights provided by the State in conformity with the present Covenant, the State may subject such rights only to such limitations as are determined by law only in so far as this may be compatible with the nature of these rights and solely for the purpose of promoting the general welfare in a democratic society.

Building a New Society

I highly recommend clicking the link and reading the thirty UDHR articles. Most people today are suspicious, and rightly so, of any document from the UN, but this was the first document and, as a product of its time, it is shockingly complete and beautiful in its simplicity. That is not to argue that it does not need an update, but most of the updates suggested in the past detract by addition. The UDHR, while very improvable, is a model of how principles ought to be written, in simple, pure and universal terms upon which law can be based, with no vague Hallmark sounding generalities that require interpretation.

The idea that only a lawyer can understand the law was created to disguise the undermining of the basic principles of society. In order for a social contract to be binding, the principles must be easily taught to anyone, including children. No law must ever deviate from the principles of the social contract, therefore law ought to be largely intuitive. It is evident from the above that a vigilant society must audit, and indeed write, all new laws to prevent the undermining of principles.

Along with accessibility of the law, the inviolability of principles has also been under attack. A very short time ago (when the UDHR was written), principles were considered the foundations upon which everything must be built, as they are in every science and discipline. If someone said they were against your idea in principle, your task of convincing them became far harder as you must now first convince them that either your argument fit their principle, or their principle was wrong. If you succeeded at the latter, that person would have to rethink their values on everything, because morals and values were to be built upon core principles, as was the law. Today, if a politician says they are against something in principle, it means they have already agreed; principles have been designated as niceties that we all appreciate in theory but are impractical. This is an Orwellian attack on the structure of a society which clears the path for every oxymoronic law which has followed.

In order to stop the incessant flow of laws against the will of the people, core principles of society must be defined. When these principles are defined, it must be recognized that no law can ever be passed which contradicts these principles. In order for society to be stable, and allow a new and better system of collaboration, principles must apply equally to everyone, without exception.

The law must be accessible for all, not only the wealthy. Currently, NGO’s are required to fight for the rights of people and nature, but corporate rights are protected by their access to the expensive legal system. Legal remedies must be as immediate as possible as powerful interests can destroy lives just as surely be protracting a court case as they can by winning one. And the law must be intuitive, not up to the subjective judgement of an archaic legal system. Members of a society need to know before committing an act what the repercussions of that act will be, and the law must be applied equally to all. This requires a far more automated and accessible system than is currently available in any country. The fact that the legal system has remained so archaic strongly suggests that it is meant to remain inaccessible and subjective as that is best serving the interests of those in power.

The discouragement people once faced for obtaining online medical advice, particularly from their peers, is greatly compounded for legal advice. This must change. People must recreate the legal systems to work for them, and that requires direct involvement at every level in the creation and implementation of the laws. The law, more than any other part of society, must be transparent, accessible, equal, and created by and for the people.


This article is part of a series: ‘Stigmergy: Systems of Mass Collaboration’.

The world is long overdue for a completely new system of governance. If there was ever a need for political representation or a paternalistic and opaque authority it has been removed by technology. Governance by nation states is now as arbitrary and illogical as city states were earlier found to be. Corporations have the freedom to live in a world without borders or social responsibility, to own property no individual can claim and to control a one world government and legal system, with insupportable consequences for the world’s resources and individual rights. Every political system we have tried has proved incapable of protecting human rights and dignity. To effect the change we require immediately, to give individuals control and responsibility, to bring regional systems under regional governance, allow global collaboration and protect the heritage of future generations, we need a new political model.

This text is in no way meant to be a definitive answer to any of the questions before us. This is just a documentation of what seems apparent at this moment, what ideas have not worked and why, and what ideas seem to be working in isolated instances and may be able to scale to help us on a much wider basis in the future.

Many ideas in this text are far more easily understood by the free software and hacker community than the world offline. The internet created an environment where it was possible to collaborate in ways that had never been tried before, to experiment with global participation, anonymity, a money free society, idea driven projects and many other ideas that are impossible or difficult in physical life. While the internet has many current structural problems that are hindering collaboration, the internet community is yet a generation ahead in experimenting with many of these concepts.

There has been a deliberate attempt in most of this writing to not refer to ideological concepts or political models by name as there is such widespread disagreement as to what the names mean. For readability, each topic is presented in simplest terms in one section. An in depth discussion of the history of each topic, reference to all that has been written before, rebuttals and supporting quotes, would turn each section into a book, so further research and discussion is left to the comments.

World War III: A picture

     Member and observer countries of Non-Aligned Movement plus Russia are in blue.

Exactly two years ago, I started this blog with a post about A Stateless War which discussed an upcoming conflict of “The military industrial complex against the anonymous cloud, with an ignorant populace as the prize.” That conflict is largely behind us: few in the world are as ignorant as they were two years ago, and we are beyond the point where information alone can correct the social and political disasters we see around us.

Based on our current still entirely alterable trajectory, by the end of 2012 it will be apparent that we are in a new war, this time involving states. World War III will do as a name, or we can call it the Military States against the Resource States. Of course that sounds like something we’ve been in for decades; the difference is it is starting to look a lot more two sided.

Since the Cold War, the world has been socially controlled by methods which may have been lifted from Hollywood high school movies. The US state cables showed us a world in which the United States largely controls all international forums and debates with a mixture of threats and bribes and a circle of allies who do not dare risk expulsion from the inner circle by disagreement. The inner circle has largely echoed the previous imperial world, with IMF loans replacing direct occupation, but potential membership is held out as an incentive to others as well. Countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are invited to the bigger parties, and given trade deals, military sales and social protection in exchange for their support of the inner circle. The BRICS countries then wield their own social power in similar fashion in their own regions.

As in all Hollywood movies, stability for the inner circle ends when the bullying gets out of hand. When social ostracization becomes so extreme it threatens actual survival, as it does for Cuba, Palestine, Iran, Somalia, North Korea and others, when no negotiation short of complete obliteration of self is acceptable, the entire social structure is threatened, more so as more members are outcast. The world has watched as Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and many others have been inhumanely tormented with no possibility of reprieve or negotiation and no defence from any stronger nation. If extreme bullying such as that detailed in the Palestine Papers is combined with any sudden unexpected weakness in the bully or strength in the bullied, the result is predictable and instant.

And so it has been.

The weaknesses in the US and other NATO countries have been very well researched and documented in recent years, but except for the obvious economic collapse they have not received widespread discussion. Here are some other points that may become key very soon.

1. The US does not actually control their own military or intelligence and the private corporations that do, do not operate from patriotic loyalty and are available to the highest bidder. They do not work if they are not paid. Many are not even citizens of the US. Not just the people, at the highest ranks, but even the military hard assets are frequently privately owned.

2. US trade relies heavily on intellectual property and increasingly draconian laws to protect and increase the value of that property. Intellectual property is a concept, not a good, and it does not exist if trade partners do not acknowledge it. Even loan interest typically comes with a contract and some trust which will be lost if the contract is broken; there is nothing to be lost by people who refuse to pay for intellectual property. For years the industry has tried to make the case that if intellectual property were not copyrighted and patented, creative activity would halt, but the open source and pirate movements have proven the opposite to be true. Since it is very rarely the creators who control the intellectual property rights to their own work, or have the resources to fight infringement, the moral argument that creativity ought to be compensated by IP laws is also very weak. This leaves the G20 countries, US particularly, with no protection other than force and increasingly controversial extraditions to claim income from intellectual property. In a time of war, this would be a very precarious basis for trade, particularly since the US is the sole beneficiary of the extreme laws today and the rest of the G20 would benefit from a relaxation of IP law.

All of the statistics on this site are very interesting. Here are a few:

74% of exports– or $1 trillion– are driven by American IP-intensive industries. (Global Intellectual Property Center: “IP Creates Jobs for America,” NDP Consulting, May 2012.)

Among the 27 tradable industries, only six industries reported trade surpluses—five of which were IP-intensive industries, generating an average $14.6 billion in trade surplus each year. (“The Impact of Innovation and the Role of Intellectual Property Rights on U.S. Productivity, Competitiveness, Jobs, Wages and Exports,” NDP Consulting, 2010)

G20 economies have lost 2.5 million jobs to counterfeiting and piracy. (Frontier Economics, Estimating the Global Economic and Social Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy, February 2011.)

India and Pakistan both made the “Top Ten Source Countries” this year due to seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical seizures accounted for 86% of the value of IPR seizures from India and 85% of the value of IPR seizures from Pakistan. (Customs and Border Protection, Intellectual Property Rights – Seizure Statistics: Fiscal Year 2011)

3. As the world’s most capitalist economy, the US has arguably the least societal support in the event of a collapse. Years of competitive and unhealthy consumerism, in which consumers are divorced from production, in the world’s most addicted and most incarcerated population create a societal helplessness not seen in most places. All of the G20 countries have favoured corporations over people to the extent that surviving in a collapsed economy is difficult to impossible without rewriting many property ownership and usage laws.


NATO countries are in green.

The Acronyms and Isolation

As in the prelude to the past world wars, many economic and defence treaties have been negotiated over the years to protect US dominance in each region. A favoured bullying tactic has been to exclude countries from these international clubs to cripple their economies and ability to defend themselves. There has been increasing activity to combat this practise.

The United Nations and all of its arms have served to protect the inner circle on a global level. In 1961 the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was formed to represent countries not aligned with either the US or the USSR. In the Havana Declaration of 1979, Fidel Castro identified the purpose of the organization to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”.

The 120 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement represent nearly two-thirds of the United Nations’s members and contain 55% of the world population before adding the 21 other observer countries. The Summit last week in Tehran included representatives from 130-150 countries, shown in the map at the top of this article. (There are only approximately 192 countries in the world.) Attendance at the highest level included 27 presidents, 2 kings and emirs, 7 prime ministers, 9 vice presidents, 2 parliament spokesmen and 5 special envoys as well as the Secretary-General of the UN. Resolutions included condemnation of the blockade of Cuba and the Paraguay coup, support to Argentina regarding the Malvinas, known in the UK as the Falklands, support to Ecuador over the UK’s threats to its embassy, calls for transformation of the United Nations, calls for the US to stop its illegal drone attacks in Pakistan, calls for disarmament and much more. The reaction in the NATO countries was to ignore the Summit except when deriding its relevance, but it is hardly possible to seriously deny the relevance of a gathering of over 7000 people from the top levels of approximately 150 countries creating a final resolution which included over 700 clauses on world policy. If these countries were all to leave the UN, or begin to vote as a bloc at the UN, there would be a split between NAM countries and NATO countries.

There are many lesser alliances that have worked to enable US and NATO domination in past decades. One of the oldest alliances, created in 1948 out of previous pan-American alliances formed since 1826, is the Organization of American States. This is the organization the US used to create an embargo on Cuba in 1962, an embargo refused only by Canada (who was not a member till 1990) and Mexico. In 2013 there will be 41 member states in the OAS. In 2004 the Cuba-Venezuela Agreement was signed and it proposed an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The alternative coming out of the Cuba-Venezuela Agreement is known as ALBA and now includes eight (soon to be eleven) countries. In 2008, the 12 member Unasur agreement, which includes a defence treaty, was signed, and in 2011 CELAC was created. CELAC members include all members of the OAS except the US and Canada.

In 1947 the Rio Treaty (TIAR) was signed for ‘hemispheric defense’ and was later invoked by the US against Cuba. During the Malvinas (Falklands) war, the US sided with the UK, and during the Iraq war only four countries joined the US. Mexico and Canada are not members, all members of ALBA withdrew in June of 2012, and the treaty is now largely ignored in favour of the Unasur defence agreement.

These new organizations come amid objections to the US and Canada preventing any resolutions from going through at the OAS. These two countries have repeatedly blocked resolutions agreed to by all of the rest of the 35, such as inclusion of Cuba, new solutions to the drug war and solidarity with Argentina over the Malvinas/Falklands. The OAS is a consensus based organization, so it can and has been run, in the words of Venezuela’s Chavez, as a ‘dictatorship’ by those who refuse to negotiate, the two NATO countries.

In August of 2012, an emergency meeting of the OAS was called to decide whether to hold a second meeting to discuss a resolution on the embassy dispute between Ecuador and the UK. The US and Canada (and Trinidad & Tobago) argued against a subsequent meeting and were overruled this time by a vote. After a weekend of hurried meetings of ALBA, Unasur, and others, the OAS meeting in Washington DC was held and also put to a vote. The US delivered a sullen agreement and Canada a more petulant refusal, but in a population of 33 the one consensus breaking vote was irrelevant. While media in NATO countries concentrated on the resolution itself, calling it largely ineffective, the resolution was not the point. The two countries which had ruled the 35 country bloc with their vetos were this time made irrelevant. The message in both the vote and the rhetoric was clear; if the OAS is to survive in any form and not be replaced by CELAC, the NATO countries will no longer be permitted to simply block resolutions.

The two countries which excluded Cuba from the OAS have become, as a direct result of an organization started by Fidel Castro, the two that are now themselves excluded. The countries that have lobbied for sanctions against Iran have been ignored by the 120 members and 21 observers of the NAM which have selected Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the current chairperson. In 2015 the chair will be handed over to Venezuela, another arch-enemy of the US as the organization continues to define itself along lines set out by Fidel Castro in 1979. Ecuador, a member of ALBA, Unasur, CELAC and NAM as well as many other alliances, has already threatened sanctions against the UK over the Malvinas/Falklands.

The NATO countries are suddenly in very real peril of having sanctions imposed against themselves. How real is the threat of solidarity among NAM members? Within days of the summit, Canada had closed the Iranian embassy in Canada and Netanyahu was berating Obama over not delivering stronger ultimatums to Iran. Iran does not think that is a coincidence.


NATO Partnerships

Does the 1% need the 99%?

It is very evident that in terms of population and resources the side I will call the NAM countries are in a superior position. It is equally evident that in terms of military, the NATO countries are vastly superior; NATO countries control over 70% of the world’s military spending. So while resource trade embargos could quickly plummet NATO countries into what they would probably consider dystopia, or a state resembling that of the global south, NATO countries could also use their military to wipe out populations in the NAM countries, using unmanned and even autonomous drones, and they could create embargos by blocking trade between NAM countries.

What is the loyalty between the NATO countries? How many will stand together in the face of embargos? In the case of the intelligence, defense science and technology sharing countries, particularly the countries known as the five eyes, their governments’ loyalty to each other has been shown to be similar to that of a gang or a cult. What they know of each other is probably enough to ensure allegiance unless their governments are completely taken over by new people and trials started for crimes against humanity and war crimes. More importantly, their corporate ties are far too strong to break. At the moment they are too invested in protecting each other for a split.

Japan’s spat with China coming at this time may put them firmly on the five eyes’ side. Or not. Japan rejected bilateral or regional agreements for many years and has far less explicit ties than most countries. As the third or fourth largest economy, they may also be able to afford independence. And their biggest trading partner is still China. Trade relationships are handy to help us make predictions, although they are by no means the whole story, potential trade relationships may be an even bigger influencer at this point as many countries try to back away from troubled economies.

The key then becomes whether individual NATO countries feel it is easier to back a new BRICS led empire, or back the existing US empire, since none of the core NATO countries is strong enough to build a new empire on its own and their corporate powers will not back a real democracy. At this moment, none have shown any inclination to prefer a BRICS led NAM alliance, but the EU members may be far too preoccupied with matters at home to involve themselves in global issues, on either side. Many NATO partners will choose individually as they have conflicting agreements, while some like Israel are easy to predict.

The corporations control the money and therefore the military and the NATO countries. The people provide labour for the corporations, including the military. There are far more people than the corporations and the few who control them actually need for labour, but the world in general is facing an imminent shortage of young people to care for their aging populations. Whether care for aging populations will be a priority remains to be seen. Automated warfare has made it much harder for people to regain control of their own military. The general populaton would have to track the few people who control the corporations, the governments and the military and regain control by removing control from those who hold it currently.

What is the power of the people over the corporations? On the NATO side, very little to none. On the NAM side, that is possibly the most interesting place to watch, which countries, if any, will attempt co-operative governance which benefits people ahead of corporations, and whether that will break the NAM alliance in two or even completely disintegrate it into many civil wars. Or even possibly work in some countries, and if some countries do implement governance by the people, will it look again like communism, with a corrupt central core and a corrupt military required to stop the capitalist imperialists from invading, or will there be a new model? If there is a new model, how will it stop the corporate invasion?

The NAM countries are hardly a unified bloc either. While they are largely all against NATO dominance, most of them (particularly BRICS countries) want a ‘multi-polar’ world, or a world with multiple tyrants including themselves. Outside of BRICS, the smaller countries want a place for the elite of every country. There is no real political representation of control by the people which has any power at this moment. How can governance by the people gain control in this conflict?

Who will win? At this point, it hardly matters. If NATO wins it is status quo, if some form of NAM wins it will quickly become the new NATO, using the threat of the old NATO to justify its own imperialism. This is the pattern we have seen in every revolution since the beginning of society, sometimes appearing instantly, sometimes edging forward in a few decades.

How can we create real governance by the people out of this conflict?

The word crisis is derived from a word meaning ‘turning point’. For all the crises we think the world has been through, there is very rarely a turn. Indeed, history can appear more like an inexorably straight path with predictable periodic bumps. The tools to effect a real change are available now, but real change would require a real direction and goals. Without these, this revolution will end as all the others eventually have, with new tyrants.

The latest crisis will disrupt every corner of the world. By the end of 2015 we will have either a new system or new tyrants. For us to create real change from this, there needs to be a working venue, an uncensorable place to communicate both locally in person and globally online. There needs to be a new system of collaboration that will be stronger than the systems of governance we have had so far. We need a system that can react quickly and powerfully enough, with enough knowledge and expertise, to allow collaboration on a massive scale and still provide enough autonomy for local governance.

I will be writing a lot about both the communication and the collaboration soon, starting here.

2011-12-24 A proposal for governance in the post 2011 world

Optimism is a political act. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience. – Alex Steffen
The world is long overdue for a completely new system of governance. The need for political representation or a paternalistic and opaque authority has been removed by technology. Governance by nation states is now as arbitrary and illogical as city states were earlier found to be. Corporations have the freedom to live in a world without borders or social responsibility, to own property no individual can claim and to control a one world government and legal system, with insupportable consequences for the world’s resources and individual rights. To effect the change we require in 2012, to give individuals control and responsibility, to bring regional systems under regional governance and protect the heritage of future generations, we need a new political model.

Individual Rights

In any system where groups have power, individual rights are always at risk. Both pure democracy and communism have brought human rights horrors every bit as reprehensible as fascist states; in order to guard against genocide, torture, and other persecution of individuals in the name of the greater good, a system must safeguard individual rights above all other authority.

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that individual rights are to be applied equally without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. With the addition of age, this would prevent discrimination against any group. Groups are not individuals and no group is entitled to special and further rights or protections under individual rights.

A recognition of individual rights will include life, liberty, security of person, access to the basic essentials of life including knowledge, privacy and personal autonomy in matters not affecting the rest of society, free development of personality and potential, and a fair legal system which does not promote wishes of the group over rights of the individual.

Autonomous peer to peer user groups for systems

Governments up till now have been run by hierarchical groups, 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. What these authorities govern is a series of systems, controlled by the state or corporations, 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; they are not set up to provide an efficient or superior service or product to the users.

If these systems were organized as autonomous, transparent, porous, peer to peer user groups, 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, or that some users have far greater knowledge and expertise in specific areas than others. We need a system where responsibility and control rests with the entire user group and expertise is acknowledged and put to best use.

Autonomous: each user group should consist of all people affected by the system and no people not affected by the system.

Transparent: all information related to the system must be fully transparent in order for users to participate in tasks or auditing.

Porous: contribution at all levels of each user group must be open to all users with acceptance by peer review.

Peer to peer: each user group should consist of users: audit and provide feedback,contributors: interested users who periodically present work for acceptance by the members,members: have acquired expertise and been accepted as full contributing members by the user group, and a core group: recognized by the group as having the necessary level of expertise to provide direction for the system.

Meritocracy: A side effect of these user groups is that they provide workers with the three motivators which provide the greatest job satisfaction, autonomy, mastery and purpose. People can work on anything they like, they are not required to submit resumes, acquire accreditation, seniority, or approval from an individual authority. If their work is good enough it will be accepted by the user group. Everyone can work on the system that interests them, doing the jobs at the level they are capable of, with as much or as little involvement as they choose.

Systems should be organized by user groups, not by nations or treaties. International systems would include things such as the internet, telecommunications and knowledge, local systems would include things such as transit, food production and social services, and in any situation where only one family or an individual is affected, the responsibility would lie with only them. Each local user group or individual would have access to outside user groups for trade, shared knowledge, disaster relief, etc., autonomous but networked.

Global commons

Anything which is not only of global interest but also does not belong to any one generation cannot be destroyed and cannot be claimed as the property of any individual, group, corporation or government. Global commons would include space, the atmosphere and electromagnetic field, deep sea ocean, land and water masses of sufficient size to have global impact, areas of the biosphere which are rare or important enough to be of global concern, and knowledge. Knowledge includes discoveries, history, creative works, and the information people require in order to govern themselves and excludes personal information regarding individuals. There should be no restriction on the use of ideas, although creativity needs to be compensated and credited.

Anything belonging to the global commons must be held under stewardship of a porous and transparent peer to peer organization set up for the purpose, and the mandate for all global commons must include the protection and preservation of the commons. All systems which affect the commons must work with the commons in their design and implementation.


2010 we woke up. 2011 we stood up. 2012 we take over.



Continuing articles:

The Financial System


Needed now: A News Commons

Privacy and Transparency

Groups and Individuals

Concentric User Groups and Epistemic Communities



Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation – TED Talk

Bettermeans: How does an open enterprise work?

P2P Foundation

Cooperative Economy in the Great Depression


Image credit MauroB

2011-11-05 The Global Square: an online platform for our movement

Submitted by FuturePress on Sat, 11/05/2011 – 22:57


A proposal on how to perpetuate the creative and cooperative spirit of the occupations and transform them into lasting forms of social organization.

This is a proposal made by a group of concerned global citizens who also act as volunteers for Take the Square, United for Global Change,, European Revolution, WL Central and Reflections on a Revolution (ROAR). We do not pretend to represent or speak on behalf of anyone but ourselves.

The Global Square: Towards an Online Platform for the Occupy Movement

In its most recent tactical briefing for the Occupy movement, Adbusters correctly pointed out that, “of the many questions swirling around #OCCUPY, the most challenging is how to gel into a global movement without sacrificing the decentralized, leaderless model.” In the wake of the global day of action on October 15, the question now arises how our movement can evolve new organizational structures that will allow the assemblies — and their highly innovative participatory model of decision-making — to survive beyond the occupations and become a permanent fixture of our emerging global society.

How, in other words, can we perpetuate the creative and cooperative spirit of the occupations and transform them into lasting forms of social organization — at the global as well as the local level?

Currently, the organization of the occupations and the collaboration between them rests in part upon the innovative use of social media. However, as a group of volunteers who were directly involved in the coordination of the worldwide protests of October 15, we have found the existing social media to be increasingly restrictive in their functionality. While Facebook and Twitter have been very helpful for disseminating basic information and aiding mass mobilization, they do not provide us with the tools for extending our participatory model of decision-making beyond the direct reach of the assemblies and up to the global level.

What we need, at this point, is a platform that allows us to radically democratize our global organizational efforts. In addition to the local squares, we now need a global square where people of all nations can come together as equals to participate in the coordination of collective actions and the formulation of common goals and aspirations. For this reason, we call upon the revolutionary wizkids of the world to unite and assist in the development of a new online platform – The Global Square – that combines the communicative functions of the existing social networks with the political functions of the assemblies to provide crucial new tools for the development of our global movement.

The aim of the platform, in this respect, should not be to replace the physical assemblies but rather to empower them by providing the online tools for (trans)national organization and collaboration. The ideal would be both to foster individual participation and to structure collective action. The Global Square could be our own virtual Zuccotti Park, serving as a public space where different groups can come together to organize their local assemblies — and where different assemblies can join hands to coordinate their collective projects. In a way, The Global Square could be a groundbreaking experiment in building a global participatory decision-making system from the grassroots up.

To be more precise, the specific tools provided by this online platform could include the following (note that this list is far from exhaustive and will grow organically to include many other functionalities):

An interactive map that lists all ongoing assemblies around the world;
A search option allowing users to find squares, events, working-groups, etc.;
An aggregated news feed that lists the most relevant ‘status updates’ shared by the various assemblies (à la Facebook);
Individual ‘pages’ for each local square/assembly where participants can organize collectively, including the following functionalities:
– A calendar with upcoming events/actions;
– A forum for public debate, with the ability to open different threads;
– A list of all relevant documents/minutes uploaded by the assembly;
– The ability to create and edit new documents collaboratively;
– The ability to vote on specific decisions;
– The ability to submit new proposals.
A public and private messaging system that allows all individual users and assemblies to communicate and exchange information, reinforcing solidarity and mutual collaboration;
The ability to ‘scale-up’ local decisions, actions, and initiatives to the global level through a ‘sharing’ system that allows local assemblies to pose ideas, votes, and proposals to other assemblies in a horizontal, non-hierarchical fashion (i.e., straight from the local to the global level).

Furthermore, The Global Square should be 100% multilingual and open-source, so a community of developers can continue to add languages as well as functions.

Facebook and the other social networks have until now only offered the possibility to share and promote content. The Global Square, by contrast, should encourage the active participation of citizens, the consolidation of online working groups, the collaborative scheduling of events, the establishment of consensus, the process of participatory budgeting, and the exchange of needs, proposals and ideas – in a local and a global context – between individuals and assemblies. Furthermore, to promote the widespread uptake of the platform, the creation of a minimalist, user-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing design is of the utmost importance.

We are aware of the existence of social platforms like, used by the Spanish movement, yet we feel that these have a number of shortcomings. They are not very user-friendly and not universally accessible for citizens from different national backgrounds. Also, resulting from a lack of funds and time, these platforms have not been able to develop the level of complexity required to provide all the functionalities listed above. We realize that the project we are proposing is a very ambitious one. But we hope that our movement can seize this opportunity to prove once and for all that creativity, innovation and dynamism can flourish in a collaborative, non-profit framework — and that it is possible to ensure a form of participatory democracy beyond the nation state.

We believe The Global Square could make a significant contribution to the consolidation of the assemblies and the development of our global movement. It is important to note, however, that the project will require significant funding, as well as a team of full-time professional developers. As we know that Occupy Wall Street plays an exemplary role within the movement, we are turning specifically to you for help in further refining this idea and initiating the search for funds and developers for a beta-version of the platform. We would be very interested to hear your ideas, suggestions and criticisms of this proposal. We can be reached

Finally, we have registered a domain ( — not active yet) that we would happily share with the movement (other suggestions are, of course, very welcome too). We are looking forward to a public conversation with all of you on how to make this idea work in a way that involves and benefits all. From the local village square to the global village square — it is time for us to unite!

In solidarity,

The volunteers at:

Take the Square
United for Global Change
European Revolution
Reflections on a Revolution


Look At What Just Happened

I just had to watch Fox News talking about how Wikileaks was promoting anarchy. It’s not my fault, I was looking for ghouls. Anyway, when I went back to twitter everyone I follow had linked the first video below. We had been talking a lot about how the behaviour of the MIC in the last year will radicalize a generation that has been widely regarded as being completely self absorbed, spoiled, etc., etc., all the things old people usually call young people who haven’t done anything yet. But look at this.

Nothing like this ever happened to me when I was growing up. Not even close. As I’m sure most of you can imagine, I was an idealistic child and not one that had a whole lot of innate respect for authority. There are a lot of people born like that. This generation has the added fuel of knowing their health has been destroyed by the pharmaceutical and food industries, their economy by the military-industry-government mafias, and their living environments by everyone. Their entertainment has been co-opted by industry to the point that youtube videos made by children are more popular and resonate more with their audiences than the professional entertainers. This is a generation that has watched everything get worse in their lifetimes. What happens when a generation like this sees a glimmer of light? When they see one person standing up to the people linked below? Who is promoting anarchy again?

I don’t think the great experiment has worked. No matter how you destroy the health of a population, no matter how you remove safety, dignity and self respect, no matter how much propaganda you produce and how many ways you feed it to them, people have never been permanently crushed by a dictatorship. They have never lost hope. And the more desperate they are, the more of them will follow the glimmer of light.

Another link I was sent today included this wonderful quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery via Assange: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the seas.” That is what Wikileaks has done. That is all. To a people this oppressed, it is enough.

From Wikileaks to Wikileaks World

Now that most of the mainstream media have finally figured out who Anonymous is and that Wikileaks is not “one lone hacker”, some seem to think it is an organization populated by 16 year old boys shouting “Pew! Pew! Pewpewpew!” at their computer screens. And by “Wikileaks” they mean this whole movement we are watching.

We had a look at the origins of Wikileaks. It is possible to follow a shadowy tale from there to last summer, and watch journalists, IT people of all sorts, activists and politicians get involved. But the last three weeks have seen an absolute explosion in the numbers of people in this movement, and solidly in the movement, not just watching.

All of the support from people like EFF, Anonymous, the Pirate Party, etc., was pretty predictable, there is a lot of idealistic crossover and most people were already quiet supporters. But this is so much bigger. Last summer, there were really only a scant handful of people who were vocal supporters of Wikileaks. So scant that media could talk about a “microcosmic organization” and commenters could say “It’s always the same three names.” or “They’re like a cult”. It was truly scary on November 28th when Peter King decided he wanted the organization declared a terrorist organization like Al Qaeda and all of its supporters hunted down. Just 11 days later, that seems a laughable idea. Since the release of the cables, the Wikileaks twitter went from less than 200,000 followers to almost 500,000 and Wikileaks facebook went from 147,015 on November 23 to almost 1.2 million right now.

Who are all these people? Besides the usual internet suspects, all of the best journalists in the world have figured out which side they want to be standing on. Idealistic young people who want a job so righteous that it deserves to be protected by constitutions and laws. Also, journalists who want to work for Wikileaks, the new coolest media outlet in the world. And journalists who are just afraid of being shown up for the hypocrites they have been so far. But these were also the people we expected to join, sooner or later. It is still so much bigger.

One of the most wonderful additions I have seen is the amount of people from the legal profession getting on board. Possibly the world’s most hated profession is actually populated by a lot of very intelligent people of deep integrity and high ideals. People who believe in the law and everything it stands for, and people who have been horrified by the attitudes of politicians who think if something they don’t like isn’t against the law, then they’ll just change the law. The law is supposed to be above politics, it is not a political tool. When Assange said “It’s very important to remember the law is not what … powerful people would want others to believe it is. The law is not what a general says it is. The law is not what Hillary Clinton says it is.” it seems to have struck a chord with many people in the legal profession who have been feeling that way for some time.

The other professionals that I have seen in overwhelming numbers are professors and others associated with academia. Again, this is probably something born of frustration, people who love knowledge and the transmission of knowledge who have had their profession, like the legal profession, curtailed and under attack. To suddenly be of use again, to find a movement that values truth and intelligence, is like finally coming home for a great many people who have been so frustrated with the anti-intellectual feeling of the last several decades. Academia has also been on the front lines of the attack from the US government, with students at Columbia University told by the US State Dept that discussing Wikileaks on Facebook or Twitter would hurt their chances of a job in the future. Joe McCarthy could not have said it better.

With the arrest of Assange, we are seeing human rights activists around the world, sympathetic and hopeful before, but genuinely concerned now. Today the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said “I am concerned about reports of pressure exerted on private companies including banks, credit card companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to Wikileaks, as well as to stop hosting the website,” pointing out that this could be interpreted as an attempt to prevent Wikileaks from publishing, in violation of its right to freedom of expression.

We are at the point now where any petition in support of Wikileaks looks like a Who’s Who of intelligent thoughtful professionals the world over, while people of all ages around the world are engaged in any way they can. As the battle lines are being drawn, look around at who is standing where. It is a very interesting and telling thing to observe.