DECENTRALIZE OR DIE!

A Stinkpiece describing a vision of Post-civ anarchy

Preface

To make one thing clear, this will never be posted on the anarchist library, that place is for the good stuff. Secondly, this stinkpice is written from a heavily anti-authoritarian and post-civilization perspective. Two pieces I feel reflect my take on things well are Desert by Anonymous and Invitation to Desertion by Bellamy Fitzpatrick, I highly reccomend the reader takes a look at both if they wish to have better understanding of where I am coming from. Lastly, this text involves technology alot, but I am assuming if you're not anti-tech enough to avoid this paper, you could still find something out of this.

A Specific Problem

People of a radical persuasion are having an extraordinarily difficult time connecting with each other in order to work on shit together. Someone who sinks their teeth into a thick slab of situationist theory and finds themselves hating theworld around them(perhaps desiring to see everything crumble) might be left in their respective area with those thoughts till they die. Anyone experienced in resitance or any radical action will likely tell you that turning thoughts into actions is one of the biggest and most difficult jumps to make. For today, that is true for a dozen reasons. Economic struggles tie up both time and capital, geographic constraints prevent the face to face kismet most require and for some just the hopelessness of the entire situation stops them from any action. For the willing, the largest of these problems is geography. With the exception of major cities, most areas occupied by humans are anti-authoritarian deserts. In addition to this, the coming and current challenges of both collapse and electoral politics render centralized structures what most would call a "flaming trash heap". It is clear distributed structures have a much larger chance of not only surviving but flourishing despite the challenges of our times. Should folx want to find each other and do what we do best, this needs to be addressed.

A Problem Addressed

The internet is a digital hellscape that is more comparable to an elaborate torture device rather than a tool for human connection. It is easily one of the worst inventions in history, in terms of increasing the power capitalism and subjugating the human race even further than what was previously thought possible. Admittedly, the same could be said of most high technology. That being said, it is the same shit that lets you read these words, so thats pretty telling of the situation we are in. I bring it up to tell you the main component of what going to build a decentralized anti-authoritarian network. In the early days of the internet, the system was sometimes used as a way to facilliate human interaction. Websites were like the meticulously decorated foyer of a warm home instead of what seems to be an aggressive artificial intelligence asking for cookies. Services with chat functions were used to get people to meet in real life, sometimes for pedophilia and other times for loser meetups. Though an html document or a few angry lines in an IRC server seem like an incredibly dehumanizing summation of a human interaction, it did(and arguably today does still do this) get the job done. The personal nature of sites and other web based services(mainly referring to non-commercial ones of course) actually got people in touch with others even over the most niche interests[1]. This beautiful thing is still present, albeit geriatic, in radical spaces. In some places it seems to work decently[2] and in others it makes me want to be erased from the planet[3]. The problem is, the potential of a such a concept was not fully fleshed out. As the web became more commerical, people became familiar with the internet as content provider. In its current state, its a television on steroids, forcing its users to embrace a spectator position that has become ingrained in our collective minds. Today, personal websites consist mostly portfolios to get shitty Bay Area jobs and if not that, curious oddities maintained by the nostalgic. But the structure of the internet tolerates concurrent trends and while I do not think I'm dumb enough to believe or want an internet revolution, I do insist that its feasible that a decentralized future that works for anarchists could be built on its back. Perhaps even lead into some decentralized hardware infrastructure and innovations in social interactions.

Picking at my Assertions

For those who find disgust with any aspect of what I wrote due to the technology, read the intro then get the fuck of my neocities page. Anyway, what does it mean to switch to decentralized social interactions or internet? Is it really a sloppy compilation of buzzwords(yes)? Its better to do this part one by one.

A Decentralized Internet

First off, in the literal sense it is impossible. Tubes moderated by massive states are anything but decentralized. However, the software we build upon the foundation of tyranny can be somewhat decentralized. Self-hosting is one good way to break up the reliance radicals have on shitty websites like facebook or twitter. Not only do such sites spy on you and rape the pysches of millions(to put it mildly of course) their content oriented software design, 'skinnerbox' radicals into making a collection of empty calls to action and flashy images. To put it in a more academic way, most popular social media and other pieces of software is essentially engineered to commodify(and as a *totally* unintended consequence neuter) everything. So that shit obviously need to be shown the fucking door. Back to self-hosting, having a dictator-like grip on your own server is a suprisingly great way to make the web more personal. You can craft a space where people can meet and connect in ways that a flashier more commerical web deny. This also cuts down on getting cracked down by authority as it is your server. In addition to the freedom, owning a server also helps demystify technology, cancer where its obscurity is a actually a sly method of social control. Essentially, a refusal to understand it, leads people to being manipulated by it. Most free software alternatives[4] mimic the structure of popular services, sometimes to a fault, but often despite the capitalism-oriented manage to create a cohesive subculture that could facillitate in-person interactions or simply sustain over the net anarchy. But for me the real magic lies in some older blocks of code that predate the commerical web, most notably IRC. While the complete opposite of IRC(Discord), is an electron-based[5] garbage pile used by video game players, IRC's design actually seems to encourage more substantial online human interaction. Its non-flashy barebones nature compels the user to fill the void with their own words and its non-persistent messaging style resembles a stream of consciousness, in a way that is surprisingly charming. The protocol has long been used by small internet communities, due to its simple no nonsense nature. Its gems like these that have the potential to help build a tough mycelium of anarchists and connect people in ways thought previously impossible in our civilized world. Though IRC is centralized, it can be self-hosted of course and isn't heavy on servers. Some services other than it, however, actually have decentralization built in mind. Shit like retroshare[6],tox[7] and zeronet are all built to be distributed from the get go.

Decentralized Social Models

While its important that the technology we use matches our intentions, one might be wondering how the jump from using bittorrent to using molotovs can be made. As mentioned earlier, alot of people who want to start building and maintaining an "anarchist infrastructure" are scattered. Connecting and building relationships over the internet, like was once often done, can help do that. A group of anarchists using PGP encrypted email to coordinate a visit to a bookfair can happen. Using IRC as chatserver for a commune or collective is possible. Finding affinity with someone via mailing list, sharing government leaks via ipfs[8] and compiling anti-authoritarian media via torrent are all things that have happened and could continue to happen if we repurpose the web to serve us. We can build new networks with privacy from authority and the resiliance to keep our connections alive. Leveraging these tools, we could build a tough network that allows small groups and individual anarchists from everywhere to know where to go to help. To know where their friends are. Hopefully, even know how to build the connections and groups that we find so difficult to make and let them interact with others who have done the same. Perhaps one day, an anarchist could trek across their country and find it dotted with vibrant waystations, each nestled and con brio despite the collapse that has weakened the bloated dinosaurs of the past. We could make that happen. History has favored the small and adaptable, rather than than lumbering titans who are punished with periodic catastrophic failures.

Decentralized Hardware

Though this realm is less explored, even by decentralization advocates, it still serves as an area of great potential. Mesh networks essentially give you your own local version of the internet, ruled by no one but the people who set it up. Ham radio could be used to use as low power way to talk to folx. Suprisingly, even in the the shithole I reside in, people still can be found sharing media through hard drives and usb sticks. A nice airgapped way to share data person to person, should be of obvious merit to any anarchist.

Final Thoughts

This is not a prescription for every anarchist. This is a detailed vision, for how post-civ, tech-usin' using anarchists could build something useful for us. I could give the anarcho-pluralist diatribe but thats best left to the "pros"[9]. My efforts are put towards this idea and I only hope to convince the reader that it may be something worth theirs.

Citations

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]