The Aristocracy of Action

Our situation
It’s now been several decades since the idea of cyber-libertarianism and
cryptoanarchy first entered the minds of more than a few people. Today,
we see almost nothing. There are a dozen reasons for it, and they do not
include that the vision was unsound or undoable. The main reason, as I
see it, lies in the nature of today’s man and the size of the project ahead.

There are a few very active players in the cryptoanarchic and agoristic
scene. People that work hard to make things happen. That spend countless
hours of their time, and thousands of dollars worth of equipment and
services to create a new reality. And I applaud them, because they are
not the problem by the only reason why these thoughts still exist.

Today we look at a world that appears to more and more people as being
dysfunctional. We begin to learn that a world that is built on hierarchy
after hierarchy of management, centralization of control and a constant
spiral of intervention does not work in the long run. All our so called
public services are broke or at the verge of breakdown. Certainly the
explanation the mainstream media and the intelligentsia espouses is that
all that is due to “lack of regulation”, “lack of oversight” or “greedy
capitalism”. I disagree. The fundamental reason in my view is that you
cannot change the world by wishful thinking, not by visions that ignore
the reality of nature, economics and human behavior. The masses thought
that fixing the problems caused by the latest fix of a problem would
sooner or later lead to a perfect world. I got news for you: It does
not. There is no man-made paradise to ever exist on this planet – quite
the contrary: The only thing we created so far is a man-made hell for so
many.

Yes, mankind has acheived many things. Not the smallest among them is
that hunger and plagues have been largely overcome for hundreds of
millions of people in the west – and they are beginning to become a much
lesser problem day by day in the developing countries. If you do not
believe that, please look at the living conditions before the industrial
revolution began. But instead of embracing this great achievement the
fat and satisfied masses of the west, those that have forgotten hunger
and poverty, are spitting on the things that made this possible – like
the rule of law, functional markets, relative economic freedom and
things like that (read Hernando de Soto, The Other Path or The Mystery
of Capitalism by the same author for some not-too-radical insight into
this). Instead of embracing individualism, liberty and economic freedom
the world is turning to the next fix of self-induced problems. Instead
of doing away with harmful Corporatism the call is out to create a more
“social” world, a world were the blessing of democratic control enters
into even more areas of life. Where government is seen again as the
blesser of the many and the protector of the weak. As if history has
never taught us any lesson. Like the fundamental lesson that only a
productive lifestyle – and not a parasitic one – can advance the lot of
humanity. It is no accident that economists, complexity theorists and
other scientists are developing an understanding for how fragile our
systems have become. Systems that are not built on individual
achievement, productivity or decision-making, but systems that are built
on redistribution, fraud and top-down control. Our way of living – of
ruling others – is only steps away from global disaster, indeed it
probably passed the climax several years ago and is accelerating on its
path to oblivion. I am not saying that the world ends tomorrow, but
truly we currently face only two options: Delay the decay or break down
today.

Today the task ahead is the same it was decades ago for those looking
for a sound alternative. And still the answer is the same. We need a
more detangled world, a more free world, more decisions made by
individuals, more diversity. The lessons that are shouted from the
roof-tops by those that want to save the planet are not applied to
humans. Instead, we are living in a forced mono-culture that is just
another bug away from ecologic collapse. And grass-roots action is most
of the time just an illusion – in the end it is all about telling the
rulers from below to adapt new rules for all. The problem is the “for
all”, the monoculture of activity, rules, thoughts. We need diversity.
We need competition for the best ideas while tolerating those that are
inferior. The alternative, the “fix”, is not more of the same. It is a
radical change of thought. It is true tolerance, true liberty,
individualism not collectivism. It is a world that operates on two
simple rules: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto
yourself”, and “Leave each other alone unless you are asked to the
contrary”. Yes, it is about “leaving each other alone”, not intruding on
their every thought, action and word as if the pure existence of another
gives you permission to mess with it.

But, you are most likely aware of that all already. The question that
matters most is “where to go from here”?

Three fundamental steps of thought
First, everyone wishing to live in another world has to realize that
this world does not simply come about by wishful thinking. Nor does it
come around by applying the same “fixes” that broke our world. It does
not even come about through talking, influencing the media or politics.
There is only one path to that new world, and that path is gruesome.

The first step on that path is that we honestly have to deprogram
ourselves from the learned methods of collectivist thought,
mono-cultural thinking, top-down directing and hoping for the masses. I
repeat: Do not waste your time in trying to fix politics, win over the
masses or receive approval. You are on your own for now. While this
might sound cruel it is still true. Every achiever is alone at first –
and possibly for a long time.
Societies break down collectively, but they are only rebuilt individually.

The second step thus is to realize that you have to be a builder. That
it is you, as a person, as an individual, that really needs to take
action. There is no one you can or should wait for. Nor is there a
blueprint that you just have to give to the architects of the future.
Read carefully – if you do not act, nothing will be. If you do not
implement your dreams, if you do not work for your goals, they will
never come true. And even if they would – you would have no say in them,
you would not own them. You would just be a free rider – and we despise
free riders.

The third step is cooperation and competition. One of the biggest
inventions of mankind was the division of labor, and the competitive
market. I will not bore you with details since others have written about
these things more eloquently, but let me make something very clear here:
Neither cooperation nor competition works by sitting around idly. To
compete, you have to create first. To cooperate, you have to have
something to offer as a bargain. There is neither cooperation nor
competition for those that do not produce first. You cannot sit around
waiting for the market to fulfill your dreams and come up with the
solutions for your problems. The market does not create. The market is
solely the method that punishes your failures and rewards your
achievements. That is why many people today hate free markets – because
it will punish you.

The market brings nothing into existence – entrepreneurs do. People that
take action and face reality. Individuals that invest, think, act, build
– and then compete and cooperate. The market only amplifies the actions
of those that do comparatively well while taking out those that only
create waste. And everyone who does not produce calls for the latter.
Makes you wonder why a society that always talks about how evolution did
this or does that still does not get this simple concept.

Before continuing, be aware that the three steps mentioned above build
on each other – and that they are only complete together. They do not
stand alone.

Our opposition
It is crucial to realize that all we can do is about cultural
entrepreneurship – we have to create cultural systems. However, these
changes are not welcome. The current culture does not welcome our input,
our ideas, our work. It opposes everything we stand for. The current
culture is that of the masses, of redistribution, of control, of
majority-approval. It gives security through numbers, of being the same
within limits. All we do is perceived as a fatal threat to it’s structure.
Maybe you think that I grossly exaggerate here, if you do, simply
present the ideas of cryptoanarchy or even radical individualism to your
peer-group.

Opposition to contemporary culture comes with several consequences.
First, it means that developing the current state of affairs into a new
society would be a very energy-consuming and unlikely thing to
accomplish. It makes much more sense to develop our society
independently from what exists.
Second, we have no chance for mass approval before we have already
outcompeted the current systems of the world. And even then mass
approval is not a goal that is worth achieving in itself.
Third, the competition with the dominant culture comes with great risks.
We will be, and are already, met with every resistance available. We are
not welcome. We are enemies, and treated accordingly. This includes that
those that defend the current systems of the world will take any action
they see necessary, or even useful, to destroy us.

>From this come two lessons I personally have learned the very hard way
and taken to heart since then: Being active as a cultural entrepreneur
that seeks to build a competing way of life comes with personal risks.
It is smart to take reasonable security measures. We should not be naive
and trust in the goodness of the hearts of our competition, nor should
we lock ourselves into little castles and become ineffective. One can
win a battle in two ways: Overpower the enemy in battle or scare him
into submission and burn all his resources. We can defend ourselves
against being overpowered with good security on our end. But we should
never take it so far that we are scared away, our resources burnt or our
troops immobilized.

Cultural conflict comes with risks, even with the risk of personal harm.
If you are not aware of that, or not willing to take these risks, please
– just leave us alone, you are not an ally then but just another risk
for us to take and another sink for our energies better spent on
productive action. And, by the way, stop telling us what to do if you
are unwilling to do it yourself.

Notes about another society
I have no idea how another world will look in detail. But this does not
keep me from working on creating it best as I can. We all learn by
doing, and we identify what is relatively best by competition. There are
several lessons we have learned in this process, errors we have made and
identified – lessons I would like you to think about and reap profit from:

* Do not wait for perfection – anything is better than nothing.
Especially when smart people meet, the theory often overcomes the
practical. We spend years in developing perfect systems, perfect
business-plans, perfect products – and fail. The perfect is something
that develops by creating the imperfect and finding out later what is
relatively best. And while you are at it you have something to build on
and use. So please, do as good as you can – as long as you do.
Release early – release often – improve in the open, visibly.
This is especially important in the context of people we are
active, people have floating ideas of what could be done, but it never
gets done because of it. Consumer share is built by starting with the
simple and extending to the complex. Also be aware that some people will
complain about your product not being perfect – do not lose heart:
Always keep in mind that something done is always better than something
only envisioned – and people that just complain but do not have the guts
to compete are bad advisors.
One telling example of this is the creation of “perfect money”:
While we do not have it, embrace cash, embrace gold and silver coin,
embrace barter. Just do not stand still waiting. Make the best of what
exists today.
* Be aware that the future will not consist of money-movers and
coders only. Actually, coders and bankers just create platforms, tools.
But the life comes from those that produce diversity. From the thousands
of trades, products and services that people value. Do not expect all
your customers to be computer-cracks or economists but instead target
the mom-and-pop shops, the farmer, the carpenter. It is them to whom you
have to prove valuable, it is them that you need to empower. A society
of bankers and coders will starve in a day. This does not mean that they
will not have to face a learning-curve, but keep it as flat as possible.
Actually, if you are reading this and you are neither a coder nor a
banker – you are most welcome to participate in this struggle. It is you
that is most required, it is you that can do the most. Just do it.
* Do not build your actions on the approval of the masses nor depend
on masses to be educated or convinced. It is as hopeless as to stand in
front of an approaching herd of buffalo – either you run from them or
you are overrun. It is much better to stand far away from their path
that leads to destruction and invite those that split from the herd over.
* The world really does not need another social network for freedom
lovers. While talk is fun, it changes little. Focus on trade, focus on
getting people fed in liberty – not fed up with talk.
* We live in exciting times. Never before would a project like ours
have any hope of succeeding. And the reason for this is the broad
availability of international shipping and international instant digital
communication (also known as the Internets). Because we are few and far
apart, embrace the digital, embrace the Internets. This tool can bring
us together from all places. It is what opens our market, enables us to
trade with the few that we are simply because we do not have to be all
in one place. We can grow slowly and wide apart – and still grow
successfully.
* Embrace the physical. This is probably the biggest error we have
made so far. Not everything is digital, life does not happen on the
Internets. And because we are not welcome by contemporary society, we
cannot delegate the physical to them. Mixing our actions with their
institutions – be it banking, justice systems, police, law, identity
assurance – does not work, it harms. It makes us vulnerable. Be physical
yourself, create physical places to meet and trade. Protect your
personal perimeter but do not stay in hiding – there is not much life
and no progress in staying dug into your fortress. Be bold but
reasonable. Be physical. Work on replacements for the instruments that
are provided by our competition, create new physical currency, create
trade networks, create warehouses, market-places, clubs, bars,
hospitals, factories! Be, and be physical.
* The mixture of both the physical and the digital enables us to
experiment a lot more than just having the physical. Digital
communications allows us to experiment with panarchy, it means that we
do not have to agree with each other because we can use digital shields
to only interact when we want it, and under the terms we agree on. If
someone does not subscribe to your notion of private property then you
have a problem in the physical – but not so in the digital. And, it
get’s better: Because of these digital shields we can even cooperate if
we do not agree, we do not have to answer all philosophical questions
before we act. Quite the contrary: Our actions will solve the
philosophical questions – and where they do not get solved they do not
matter! Again, one less excuse for not acting. Act!
* You are not the only one acting, nor should you be. Division of
labor does require others apart from you. And frankly speaking: We
humans need human interaction. We need peers that give us new insights,
new inspiration, or just someone who understands what we are going
through and listens. But there is more: Trade and economy are about
people more than they are about goods and money. It is the business
relationships that are the fundament for many friendships, for new
products, for new ideas. Furthermore we are talking about a new society
to be created. This requires social interaction. Take time to invest in
your relationships, invest in joining an existing or building your own
tribe.

Being a builder
There is one thing that sets a builder, an entrepreneur, apart from all
others. It is not his success or failure nor the numbers of his bank
account or the marketing talk. It is the productive actions he takes.
The entrepreneur does not wait for someone to ask him to join an
established company, or someone who sits around waiting until some piece
falls into place to enable him to finally stand up and act. The builder
is always awake and searching for opportunity, for something he can do
for profit – or even just do it for fun. He never waits for others to
fix his problems and satisfy his needs.
It is also a misleading notion to think that everything an entrepreneur
does is to invent new things, do things that have not been done before.
But that is not always the case, actually it is rarely the case. The
entrepreneur looks for things he can do better, things he can improve,
things he can do differently. An entrepreneur needs to embrace diversity
– just because someone else has done something does not mean that it
could not be done better, cheaper, nicer, more beautiful – or even the
same way again! Never shy away from competing, never shy away from
improving, not even shy away from copying! Diversity is what makes the
world beautiful, and resilient.

In doing the builder takes risks, and it is these risks that are what
create his profit. Without risk-taking, nothing is done because nothing
valuable is risk-free. It is reasonable to reduce risk – but not by all
means possible. Do not freeze into inaction because you could lose. One
of these risks is competition, or actually being overcome by
competition. Embrace this risk, do not try to kill or control
competition. Maybe you can cooperate, maybe you will lose, maybe you
win. Never give up or cooperate just because you shirk away from
conflict and risk. It is about creating the better things, competition
helps us to find out what really is best.

The society we work for comes with a learning curve, most precisely in
the tools of defense we have to use and in unlearning some of the
harmful ways of doing business that we are used to from the current
society we live in. There are things you have to learn, like how to use
encrypted communication, how to use anonymous networks, how to
communicate via instant-messaging or chat networks like IRC. It will
also require you to learn things like making a deal without being able
to call the police or how to enforce a contract without violence at your
disposal. Self-reliance and resilience demands skills, you need to learn
them. There is no way around it. Learn secure communication, encryption
software and tradecraft. It will most likely keep you out of harm’s way.

Also, you will need to relearn things that our forefathers knew. I am
not talking about building your own barrels or to plough with a horse. I
am talking more about business processes and being an honorable
merchant. Many things that made trade and business effective in the past
have been buried and replaced with methods that primarily serve as means
of control – not improvements like that have been advertised as. Did I
mention that many of these methods are less costly and time-consuming
than what we have to use today?

You need to invest time in learning and building in and for the new
society. It will not come easy or fast. It is a process and you start
from the bottom. Take your time to build relationships with others in
the underground economy, take time to talk with people on the various
chat networks and forums around. Just make sure you look for the
practical stuff, the useful stuff. Do not get held up in philosophical
discussions.
Also, invest in people. Talk can never replace action. To learn and to
build business relationships you need to do business. This is especially
important in our world. Start with small deals, listen in for reputation
and warning but weight them carefully – even we have crooks amongst us.
Invest in your reputation by making good deals and keeping your word –
for this you have to act – you have to deal – you have to take risks.

All this said, you will probably still have this nagging feeling
somewhere around the area where your heart and stomach are located. It’s
called fear. And it is a good thing. Fear will keep you awake and aware,
it will make sure that you follow security procedures. It will serve as
a protection against letting your guards down because of shame. Just
make sure that you embrace your fear and not vice-versa. Rule your fear,
use it, do not let it rule and use you. Seriously, your future will
likely depend on if you can embrace your fear without your fear keeping
you inactive.

The Aristocracy of Action
The title of this article is “Aristocracy of Action” and you might have
asked yourself what it is all about.
Many people have asked me where those networks are, those bandwagons
they could jump on, the perfect place for them to sit down, rest and
reap the fruits of liberty. How often I have heard the words “there must
be someone who has done this and that can show us”. There is none of
that (well, there is, but….). To become part of this, our, world you
need to enter into the Aristocracy of Action.

What we do is risky, and we are people that are aware of it. What we do
has value, but we also know that we might not have the best
implementation. And we have learned that being picky on whom to
associate and work with saves a lot of energy (and we need that for
building).
In short, we are not offering you a free lunch. Maybe we do not even
want to offer you our lunch at all. We are not even willing to be your
leaders and marshals.

If you wait for us to solve your problems, to implement the tools that
you want, to enable you and lift you up – then you are seriously
mistaken. It is not our focus in life to do the work you will have to do
for yourself. We are not the makers at your disposal. Do not wait for us
– do it yourself. If you do we will ponder if and how we can partake.
Being passive will not get you anywhere. We want doers, not talkers. We
are on the outlook for those that walk the walk – not those that only
talk the talk.

And we take little at face-value. You have no right to be taken serious
by us, nor do we owe you anything. If you want to be included, honored
even, you have to prove yourself. Prove yourself by acting, doing, building.

Neither is our world a place of free stuff. If you want something, you
will have to pay for it. What we do has cost us dearly and continues to
do so. Be thankful if you receive a gift, but never demand it. We will
never demand anything without compensation from you either.

We are merchants, capitalists, builders, entrepreneurs, tradesmen. But
contrary to contemporary belief we are civilized – actually we have to
be because of what we do. We demand the same from you. Show that you are
honorable and virtuous. Watch your words, keep your contracts, behave
like a grown-up, serious person. If you think that this demand is
old-fashioned and out-dated, leave us alone.

Be patient. Rome did not fall in a day, nor was it built in a year. Good
things take time. If you are impatient you will jump from one flower to
another – you will be unreliable and a bigger hassle to work with than
worth it. Be quick, but be patient. However, for those that act instead
of waiting for others, patience is probably the least of all problems.

Now, you might not agree with what I said above, or with what we ask
for. You might think that there is a place for you in our midst where
people drag you along and feed you. That you have a right to get without
giving, or to demand that we take what is of no interest for you. Maybe
you think that with enough education we would change our mind. Maybe so.
However, if you do not produce value we are not even interested in
trying. If you do not produce, go away. We do what we do precisely
because we want to escape plunderers, parasites, talking-heads and
free-riders. Leave us alone.

Maybe however you think that all this is too much for you. That all the
problems are not worth it. That there must be an easier way or that we
can make it a lighter burden for you. If you do, leave us alone. If you
cannot take it, do not waste our time. We need it to somewhen have a
society that is reachable even for those that cannot take it today.

But what if you agree? Then prove yourself to be of the Aristocracy of
Action.

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