People think governance is hard. Which is correct - it's the most complex topic in Web 3. This is because, by virtue of complementary opposites, it is also the most simple. It is so obvious that everyone misses it. Lao Tzu explains best:
To give no trust
is to get no trust.
When the work’s done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
Oh, we did it.
The Cypherpunks were almost all anarchists. They believed that, if you build tools which give people the means to govern themselves, then good governance at higher levels is the inevitable result. Individual sovereignty allows for emergent forms of organization which are more responsive to the needs of groups and more productive at the level of societies.
Again, for emphasis, the aim is not to build better tools for governing; it is to build tools that let people govern themselves. This is both practical and psychological, for in order to have healthy communities, we first need healthy individuals. We have the technological means to eradicate most social ills; what we need now is a few, dedicated human beings capable of programming robust incentive structures at scale with no thought for personal gain. That is, to continue this part of the work until it is economically optimal for everyone to agree, "We are all Satoshi."
Q: The aim is not to build better tools for governing, but to build tools that let people do what?
A: Govern themselves.
Importantly, this is not about pulling down fences - something anarchists are often accused of wanting to do. Don't fight the system. Just abandon it is a more apt slogan. This has been occurring on increasingly larger scales across the mainstream since at least the 1960's; it's just that we now have the technological means of making it economically sustainable.Rough consensus¶
Anarchy does not mean the tyranny of structurelessness. To us, it means individuals collaborating of their own volition on projects they choose to undertake. It means emergent forms of organization that need not be permanent, because they're not premised on personal power, but rather arise as a response to the needs of a group in a particular moment. Being able to program incentives and the flow of value through society means we don't need to hold static popularity contests every four years, premised on partisan debates: we can govern dynamically by constantly modelling, assessing and updating our understanding of legitimacy.
The best example of this kind of internet age governance is, unsurprisingly, the IETF:
We reject: kings, presidents and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code.
Q: Don't fight the system. Just ...?
A: Abandon it.
Alegal systems are those that "can't care" about the human context of the information they process. They cannot be regulated after-the-fact. You can sue neither a storm nor a blockchain. They lack human agents to haul before a jury. Think back to what is valuable - the legal fiction of the firm (i.e. that it has a kind of personhood) allowed for orders of magnitude improvement in our organizational efficiency as a species. Alegal fictions are the next evolution. For the first time in history, we need not revolt against a system of violent legal enforcement. We can abandon it for openly verifiable mathematics, which we subscribe to by acts of our own volition.
💡 This is because, in the world wide web, running code is more powerful than holding elections.
In exactly the same way that we obviate the need to trust protocols by defining and encoding what it means to cheat; we can build systems that obviate the need to govern communities by encoding collaborative contexts for individual expression. This is what it really means to explore new kinds of interpersonal trust enabled by trustless protocols: if we give everyone the ability to govern themselves, do we trust ourselves to be responsible? Lao Tzu did, and so do we.
To follow the way yourself is real power.
To follow it in the family is abundant power.
To follow it in the community is steady power.
To follow it in the whole country is lasting power.
To follow it in the world is universal power.
So in myself I see what self is,
in my household I see what family is,
in my town I see what community is
in my nation I see what a country is,
in the world I see what is under heaven.
How do I know the world is so?
-- Lao Tzu