At this point we find ourselves confronted by a very disquieting question: Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worthwhile to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything? If the United States of America is the prophetic image of the rest of the urban-industrial world as it will be a few years from now — recent public opinion polls have revealed that an actual majority of young people in their teens, the voters of tomorrow, have no faith in democratic institutions, see no objection to the censorship of unpopular ideas, do not believe that government of the people by the people is possible and would be perfectly content, if they can continue to live in the style to which the boom has accustomed them, to be ruled, from above, by an oligarchy of assorted experts. That so many of the well-fed young television-watchers in the world’s most powerful democracy should be so completely indifferent to the idea of self-government, so blankly uninterested in freedom of thought and the right to dissent, is distressing, but not too surprising. “Free as a bird,” we say, and envy the winged creatures for their power of unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But, alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. Something analogous is true of human beings. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone — or at least by bread and circuses alone.
Take the right to vote. In principle it is a great privilege. In practice as recent history has repeatedly shown the right to vote by itself is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing voluntarily cooperating groups capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.
– Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, 1958
This isn’t how I intended to return to writing. There was supposed to be a new website and a new focus, but circumstances emerged and laid waste to my plans. So here I am, back again. I’m a bit rusty so bear with me.
There’s no reason to rehash what happened over the last several days, but the gist of it is that significant components of internet infrastructure were weaponized for ideological and political purposes. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t want to admit it or confront it, because it’s not a comforting or easy thing to admit or confront. But the day has arrived and we’re no longer in a position to ignore it. The most concerning aspect isn’t that it happened, but that it could happen at all. The internet is clearly broken, possibly dying, and if we want to digitally associate freely again at some point in the future, we have no choice but to fix it.
Although I have no team in the parochial political fight, I’ve chosen one in the broader ideological battle. The wielding of such concentrated and unaccountable power over human communication has crossed a very serious line and sets us up for a future world I’m uninterested in participating in. As such, we have no choice but to confront the issue head on.
People who think this is about Trump for me are the most ridiculous people. I never voted for him, supported him or took him seriously. While I recognize the role he played in the greater scheme of this massive historical cycle, the best thing that can happen is for him to disappear as a political force and be understood as the spectacle and distraction he was. I’m not here to lecture anyone about who they voted for, but I’m here to connect with people of all political persuasions ready to become serious and admit that a real strategy is needed to address the unaccountable power of the national security state oligarchy. Conventional political avenues are a dead end at this point.
I recognize that tens of millions of frustrated, angry and concerned minds are trying to make sense of it all and reorient themselves. This presents a giant opportunity, but also very real danger. All the emotion being felt currently can be channeled into negative avenues such as violence, aimless spectacles, Trump martyrdom or a futile search for the next political savior guaranteed to disappoint, or it can be channeled in productive ways. That’s why I’m here writing this post at this moment. Enough people are finally motivated to respond, but what really matters is the nature of this response. The dominant aggregate reaction is what will determine the future.
Most of us eagerly, or more likely lazily, embraced the current insipid and dull paradigm in the name of convenience, low prices, and free shipping, but we never stopped to consider the sacrifices made along the way. We swallowed it whole, became comfortable fat and happy, and now the facade’s about to be slowly stripped away unless we bend the knee to an ever narrowing Overton Window of speech and behavior parameters. It begins with social media purges, but it won’t end there. All the special things we sacrificed from the prior era are gone, yet the consequences are here to stay. We can’t run and hide hoping to be the last one hauled off to the abattoir. It’s time to step up.
In this regard, I have a simple suggestion. Cancel Yourself. Unshackle yourself mentally from our suffocating and bland corporate culture while you still have a chance to do it voluntarily. Cancel yourself before they have a chance to cancel you. In this there is power. You’re taking charge and acting proactively as opposed to reacting. We need to play the game on our own terms, because the game’s coming for us either way. If you were a Trump supporter, forget about him. If you held your nose and voted for Biden, don’t expect anything good. If you’re a Sanders supporter, forget it, he’s done. Most importantly, don’t waste time and energy thinking about 2024 and who might run. A lot of really bad stuff can happen between now and then and there may not be much of a country left at that point. Focus on today and focus on what you’re willing to do personally in the near-term.
Once you’ve made the decision to preemptively cancel yourself, start thinking about specific steps you’re willing or able to take from there. Personally, this has been a 10 year+ journey that began when I quit my lucrative Wall Street job and left New York City permanently. It then expanded to public writing, cultivating a social media presence, and developing a passion for gardening. While all these actions brought me to where I am, the biggest realization I had along the way was that I need to focus most of my energy on the things I can control and my own state of consciousness.
The future won’t be determined by whether or not there’s a response, because there’s always some sort of response. What matters most is the specific nature of humanity’s dominant response. Will it be a frothing, violence soaked reptilian reaction, or will it be intelligent, wise, conscious and asymmetric. If we confront the national security state oligarchy by conventional means, we’ll end up with another conventional world, and one that’s potentially worse than this one. If we want something fundamentally distinct and better, we had better respond thoughtfully. Rejecting a tepid paradigm is an important first step, but it does not in itself guarantee a better one. The ends don’t justify the means, the means are everything.
This post has been mostly theoretical and philosophical thus far, so let’s shift gears and get practical. The world we’ve become so dependent on is quickly being turned against anyone who refuses to conform to what amounts to some mangled form of corporate sanctioned, woke imperialism. If you don’t acquiesce fully you’ll be removed eventually. The primary form of leverage being used to bend us into submission are the corporate tools and services we’ve become so dependent on, most explicitly big tech, but increasingly internet infrastructure more broadly. They think they’ve got us trapped via our dependence on these conveniences and addictions, but do they really? What can we do in response?
When thinking about this, it makes sense to look at Bitcoin for some guidance. What first got me involved nearly a decade ago was a keen understanding of how a digital world dominated by centralized digital currencies could be easily weaponized against the entire planet. As such, I and countless others around the world have embraced this revolutionary protocol governed by rules, not rulers. A means of sending value across the planet digitally that’s permissionless, peer-to-peer, decentralized and censorship resistant. There’s no CEO, no one individual human to coerce or pressure in order to change the rules. It’s a politically neutral global money in a world becoming overwhelmed with a willingness to use centralized technological services and hardware for political ends. An oasis in a desert of topdown control. So what can we learn from Bitcoin?
For starters, no one can stop you from sending bitcoin to whoever you want, which is the same sort of principle needed for online communication. Unpopular or even tasteless opinions are not a crime, but we’ve allowed tech oligarchs to act as judge and jury based on their own whims or political calculations. Even worse, they do this after having corralled everyone into their platforms by falsely claiming they served as public squares for free human expression. It’s been a gigantic bait and switch, and the lesson here is to never again rely on individuals to determine something as important as the acceptable parameters of human communication.
Which brings us to the crux of this post. The internet in its current form is dying — it has been for some time, — yet it is far from dead. We all continue to use our Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon products even though we know we shouldn’t. We’ve all become hostages to convenience and now an omnipresent sword of cancel culture hangs over our collective heads. As such, we have some important decisions to make. We can choose to constantly alter our minds and speech to conform to a growing mob of ridiculousness, or we can fix the internet itself.
As someone who’s in the process of preemptively canceling himself, I have little choice in the matter. We’re either going to transition to a decentralized, peer-to-peer internet, aka web 3.0, or the entire thing’s gonna become a sterile Potemkin Village of woke corporate imperialism and national security state talking points. I’m optimistic when it comes to the emergence of web 3.0 for several reasons, but mainly because I don’t think it’s plausible to give humanity freedom of expression via the web for a couple of decades and then just remove it for good and turn it into television. This doesn’t mean the transition will be quick or easy, but I do believe it’s probably inevitable.
If you’re on board with most of what’s been laid out here and are comfortable with canceling yourself, at least symbolically, the next choice you need to make is to determine what you can do to help usher in a different kind of paradigm. Each individual has different skills, temperaments, circumstances and commitments, so what degree of action one takes is a deeply personal decision. All I ask is that you think about how you can contribute to the goal of a more voluntary, decentralized, peaceful, conscious, cooperative, community-centered and networked world and how much time and energy you’re realistically willing to give the effort. Voting isn’t going to do it, we need direct action from millions upon millions of humans around the world.
In addition to the steps I’ve already taken in the past decade, there are several additional actions I’m committing myself to. First, given my determination that web 3.0 is critical to the future of human progress, I’ve committed myself in 2021 to getting up to speed on some of the most promising privacy and peer-to-peer technologies currently in existence, software and hardware alike. Although I don’t have the skillset to add to such projects, I do have the capacity to experiment with them and assess how far along we are and what needs to be done.
From what I know so far, there’s a lot of brainpower working on a multitude of different projects, but it’s unclear how far along and how user friendly they are. The reason this particular avenue is interesting to me is not just because it’s become increasingly necessary, but because we now have a critical mass of people ready to leave the centralized big tech products and services, but this won’t happen until web 3.0 is ready to onboard the average human relatively seamlessly. My objective is to determine how far along we are in this regard.
Beyond that, the recent decisions made by Twitter and big tech generally have once again driven the point home that it’s not wise for me to post all of my thoughts via such platforms, which was a motivating factor for spontaneously writing today’s post. I’ll continue to use Twitter because that’s how I’m able to reach the largest audience for now, but I have one foot out the door.
The next thing on my agenda is to step up efforts to launch a new website that more accurately reflects a new focus, which is not to convince, but to offer inspiration and suggestions about how we move forward as individuals and as a human race. That said, I won’t make any promises about how often I’ll be writing, because I have no idea. It’ll depend on a lot of things, including how well this post is received and how inspired I am to publish at any given moment. When I have something I really want to say I’ll write, and when I don’t, I won’t.
The big final request here for readers wanting to stay abreast of my work is to sign up for the email list (signup box found near the top right of the desktop version, and at the bottom of the mobile site). If I get canceled from Twitter, it’ll be much harder to reach out unless I have your email. Email lists have become very important once again.