A Cyberspace Independence Declaration

DeRobertis derobert at EROLS.COM
Sat Feb 10 21:32:51 MST 1996

This came over MAC-L, and I thaught I would pass it on. I haven't read that
bill so don't ask me...

>X-POP3-Rcpt: derobert at mail
>Mime-Version: 1.0
>Date:         Sat, 10 Feb 1996 14:25:06 +0100
>Reply-To: Macintosh News and Information <MAC-L at yalevm.ycc.yale.edu>
>Sender: Macintosh News and Information <MAC-L at yalevm.ycc.yale.edu>
>From: Kirk McElhearn <kirk at LENET.FR>
>Subject:      A Cyberspace Independence Declaration
>To: Multiple recipients of list MAC-L <MAC-L at yalevm.ycc.yale.edu>
>***I thought this should be passed on.***
> From: John Perry Barlow <barlow at eff.org>
> Subject: A Cyberspace Independence Declaration
> Yesterday, that great invertebrate in the White House signed into the
> law the Telecom "Reform" Act of 1996, while Tipper Gore took digital
> photographs of the proceedings to be included in a book called "24
> Hours in Cyberspace."
> I had also been asked to participate in the creation of this book by
> writing something appropriate to the moment. Given the atrocity that
> this legislation would seek to inflict on the Net, I decided it was as
> good a time as any to dump some tea in the virtual harbor.
> After all, the Telecom "Reform" Act, passed in the Senate with only 5
> dissenting votes, makes it unlawful, and punishable by a $250,000 to
> say "shit" online. Or, for that matter, to say any of the other 7 dirty
> words prohibited in broadcast media. Or to discuss abortion openly. Or
> to talk about any bodily function in any but the most clinical terms.
> It attempts to place more restrictive constraints on the conversation
> in Cyberspace than presently exist in the Senate cafeteria, where I
> have dined and heard colorful indecencies spoken by United States
> senators on every occasion I did.
> This bill was enacted upon us by people who haven't the slightest idea
> who we are or where our conversation is being conducted. It is, as my
> good friend and Wired Editor Louis Rossetto put it, as though "the
> illiterate could tell you what to read."
> Well, fuck them.
> Or, more to the point, let us now take our leave of them. They have
> declared war on Cyberspace. Let us show them how cunning, baffling, and
> powerful we can be in our own defense.
> I have written something (with characteristic grandiosity) that I hope
> will become one of many means to this end. If you find it useful, I
> hope you will pass it on as widely as possible. You can leave my name
> off it if you like, because I don't care about the credit. I really
> don't.
> But I do hope this cry will echo across Cyberspace, changing and
> growing and self-replicating, until it becomes a great shout equal to
> the idiocy they have just inflicted upon us.
> I give you...
> A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
> Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and
> steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the
> future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome
> among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
> We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I
> address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty
> itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building
> to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.
> You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of
> enforcement we have true reason to fear.
> Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
> You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you.
> You do not know us, nor do  you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie
> within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it
> were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature
> and it grows itself through our collective actions.
> You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did
> you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture,
> our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society
> more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
> You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use
> this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems
> don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we
> will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our
> own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the
> conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.
> Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
> arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.  Ours is
> a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies
> live.
> We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or
> prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station
> of birth.
> We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
> beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into
> silence or conformity.
> Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
> context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no
> matter here.
> Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order
> by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened
> self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our
> identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The
> only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is
> the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular
> solutions on that basis.  But we cannot accept the solutions you are
> attempting to impose.
> In the United States, you have today created a law, the
> Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution
> and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison,
> DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.
> You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a
> world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you
> entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are
> too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments
> and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are
> parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot
> separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.
> In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United
> States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting
> guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the
> contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will
> soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.
> Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
> themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to
> own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas
> to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our
> world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and
> distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no
> longer requires your factories to accomplish.
> These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
> position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who
> had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must
> declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we
> continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread
> ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
> We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
> humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.
> Davos, Switzerland
> February 8, 1996
> ****************************************************************
> John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident
> Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
> Home(stead) Page: http://www.eff.org/~barlow
>Kirk McElhearn
>Translations from French to English, English to French
>kirk at lenet.fr
>91 rue de la Mesangerie
>37540 St Cyr sur Loire

-Anthony        And Remember: Don't vote Butrous Butrous Golli (spelling?) to
                the office of Supreme Dictator of the World... Oops! My
                mistake -- we don't get to vote for that!

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