Or are you not yet free?
Are you an insider, an outsider, or a freesider?
Do you know what a 'freesider' is?
1. ARE YOU FREE TO JUST BE, wherever you abide in the universe? Do you believe it? But how can you be? You do exist inside a border, don't you? And aren't you governed by the laws applicable inside that border? And while a show may be made of your right to disapprove of those laws, if people didn't have enough juice to put pressure on each other to approve those laws, they probably wouldn't have succeeded in getting them passed in the first place, would they have? So are you really free to be, inside that border? Or do you actually feel a lot of pressure not only to obey but also to express approval for the legislative efforts of people with the power to make it uncomfortable for you to 'just be' if you do not?
2. ARE YOU FREE TO BELIEVE, whatever you wish about the universe? Do you think so? Do you think it would be enough for everyone inside your family for you to live in the world without coming to their preferred conclusions about it? Aren't there people in your life who demand that you have a particular belief about what is behind the entire universe, or why it must or must not have been created? And in fact, weren't you pressed from a young age to believe or disbelieve something specific about these apparently unknowable subjects? And wasn't it treated as out of bounds for you to just shrug those 'lessons' off?
3. ARE YOU FREE TO HEAR / SPEAK, whichever opinions, on whichever subject strikes your fancy? Is there anyone left (or right) who still thinks so? Don't you feel threatened with 'consequences' both for breaking ranks openly with, and for falling in line with, whichever political party your identity can be lumped with most? Isn't your perceived identity thus highly determinative of what is thought to be inside your acceptable range of action? Isn't that the very definition of intolerance? And haven't some of those who've spent the most time arguing for tolerance of your own political identity turned into some of the biggest preachers of this intolerance of the political identities of others?
4. ARE YOU FREE TO COMPUTE, whichever info, on whichever operating system you prefer? Do you subscribe to that antique notion? Haven't you frequently been locked inside using only one type of software in order also to make use of a specific type of hardware, and vice versa? Haven't you been prevented from easily switching between operating systems by a conspicuous failure to provide full file system and format compatibility? Do you feel free to install whichever app you've heard of on the latest mobile devices, or is there some entity that can now stand in your way, removing things here and there and narrowing those choices? Haven't the systems that originally promised to compete to empower your free will been progressively hardening into competing axes of control?
5. ARE YOU FREE TO TRANSMIT / RECEIVE, whichever info you wish, over the standard lines and protocols, to or from whomever is game? Do you still believe 'the Internet is a great leveller'? Aren't you beginning to see some strings attached? Haven't you been noticing domain names being seized for engaging in popular victimless 'crimes' or widely blocked inside certain borders for no crimes at all? Are you still able to easily access the same websites you once could, or is there some organisation that has now placed its judgement above yours to move sections of 'the great leveller' outside your reach? And can you ever feel truly free to communicate, when the entity that claims the right to prevent you from communicating with certain people is also the same set of orgs known to have been snooping on all your communications, the better to expand its capability to lump you in with these untouchables at its convenience?
6. ARE YOU FREE TO PUBLISH, whichever info you like, over the now-ubiquitous big social media platforms, to whomever wishes to 'subscribe to your newsletter'? And are you free to subscribe to others as well, or has your own 'platform' been manipulating your feed, or ejecting people who interested you merely for violating some tribal point of order? Don't you feel locked inside a community on some platform with ever more complicated rules that always add up to not being permitted to contradict the most popular users of that platform, or they will find a clause in these increasingly baroque rules to turf you with, or else just go ahead and do it without a clause, to prove they can? And don't they then abuse the power of those platforms to try to get those people who interest you 'cancelled' from whichever other publishing platforms or payment processors where they might find refuge in the world?
Going further, aren't we all now less free in our social, political, religious, and national lives than we were ten years ago, or more, before these bespoke social networks ascended to rule our communications as a result of their apparent but now clearly meretricious commitment to free speech? Do you feel freer posting online now than you did in 2011, or less so? And what happened in between?
7. ARE YOU FREE TO TRANSACT, in whichever currency you favour, over the available exchange and payment networks, with whomever wishes to trade it with you? Do you think one cryptocurrency can be the answer? Do you really think any one cryptocurrency can make everyone that free? Hasn't your favourite crypto community's commitment to fighting censorship been slipping, though? Haven't people been hounded out of your crypto community or outright barred for openly supporting some other coin? And yet, haven't the once-bedrock principles of your coin's development process been compromised, nonetheless, sometimes to the point of being turned on their heads, such as when a putatively 'helpful' side chain rapidly becomes a development-stifling face-hugger whose proponents start arguing for 'ossification of the underlayer', i.e. your original coin?
Going even further, aren't the platforms being built around your crypto more resembling of a loyalty rewards program with about as much apparent commitment to freedom from censorship as you would find in an ad flyer, rather than any genuine attempt to compete with the full range of expression available in platforms built on fiat? That doesn't feel much like the answer to the problems of transacting in USD, does it? And haven't you then seen all the same tribal tactics deployed in crypto as against the first six essential freedoms, numbered above—creating insiders and outsiders, the better to exploit the attention of a 'side', thereby obliterating the truth, and thus, often, the point of the whole exercise?
But hold on, you say? You have good reasons for restricting your choice of cryptocurrency, you say? You would rather support only the ideal, perfect cryptocurrency, and no other? But wasn't that ideal supposed to be perfect at supporting you? At what point did we miss that bait-and-switch?
Can you not agree then that you will inevitably need to be free of this, too—like us—free from your once-favoured cryptocurrency, free from that captured community's obsessions and blind spots, just as you ended up needing to be free from your social platform, free from your telecom provider, from your operating system, from your party, religion, state, all the way up the line? And isn't each of these freedoms about protecting individual choices from being crushed and controlled by a runaway collective? In a world with at least seven different levels of runaway collectives, what can sacrificing our choices on even one of these essential levels—like currency, or speech—to gain a few choices in another, win us at all, in the long run?
Trading away limited freedom here for limited freedom over there, with freedoms being curtailed all around us from above, is a form of what's known as 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic'. And yet, we see the leading lights in crypto busying themselves building insider / outsider cults within each of their communities—cults whose de facto members often smear the developers of every other coin as either opportunistic (outsiders) or corrupt (insiders), instead of making much common cause. And everywhere we look, we see those acolytes, in their zeal, casually tossing aside blockchain technology's main value proposition—freedom from insider control. Losing that in the shuffle is not a great outcome, because, more obvious reasons aside, it makes a sham of the entire sector's marketing. It sets us up for another huge public fall, and that is undeniably not in any of our best interests, but there are some things we can do to lessen the impact on our crypto-futures of all this cultish activity.
For one thing, we can declare crypto-independence. Why not? We declare that we will never again accept or favour fewer than multiple cryptocurrencies. Further, we will never again approve of a single-currency publishing platform, nor the ad-mill groupthink that tends to go along with it. By declaring independence from any one cryptocurrency, we also declare ourselves independent of all of the older insider / outsider forces, numbered above, that are amassing to control various cryptocurrencies.
We can position our holdings, not to virtue-signal, but to survive—which is rather the point—ongoing attempts by cults of both insiders and outsiders to subvert the original, freewheeling, open source cultures of various coins. We will detect these attempts by their twosidedness, treat them as damage, route around them, and never again become reliant on a single currency nor any platform based narrowly thereupon, so that we can never be interdicted by any means, whether technical or social, from publishing and transacting in our intended markets.
And you? Do you feel you have all seven essential freedoms numbered above, in your communities? Honestly—do you feel you truly, publically have any of them anymore, if you ever did? And do you think you could ever find freedom in any single available key to one of those seven collective locks on our free will, even if cryptographic? Or can you see, as we do, that we will always need all our rights to carry multiple keys for each of those seven locks, the better to steer clear of the tribalists who will continue to try their best to hold us up at every ford, whether it is undergirded by something 'decentralised' or not? In other words, isn't genuine freedom multiplexed?
If you've ever made a serious study of communication networks, particularly their history, you learned about various forms of bandwidth multiplexing, the classic ones being: space-division multiplexing, time-division multiplexing, frequency-division multiplexing, and code-division multiplexing. The last three forms are necessary when multiple streams of communication wish to share a single channel. The first form, spatial multiplexing, is the most interesting, here, in that can be applied to any fully three-dimensional world, such as the complexity of free will preserved in the human race.
When free will is denied to a human population, that entire population is often forced to act as a single broadcast channel—to echo the words and prescribed actions of a dictator, who tries to commit the entire 'medium' of that population to propagating that one signal. That is singleplexing. It's the least efficient form of human bandwidth utilisation.
When free will is permitted to flourish in the human race, it is a form of space-division multiplexing—while each of us cannot add much to a mere echo of an oppressive cult, as individuals doing entirely our own things, we could generate more ideational bandwidth than the human race has literally ever known. That extraordinary difference is the wonder of multiplexing. It is the most efficient form of human bandwidth utilisation.
The ability to achieve optimal utilisation of free will—freedom—should thus be understood as the ability to accept the existence of a multiplex of separate streams of effective choices, both in the population and as an individual. When I ask, "Are you free?" I am asking whether you have that ability, or whether you are still singleplexing.
Consuming the same information constantly from a cult of insiders about the perfidy of outsiders is singleplexing. Consuming the same info constantly about the corruption of insiders from a cult of outsiders is also singleplexing. Singleplexing is a primitive, inferior communication technology, and tribalism is shackled to it. Tribalism doesn't like to share a channel, and the channel it wants all to itself is you.
Consuming information from many viewpoints, developed in parallel, and then deciding to avail yourself at any moment of whichever ones you think will preserve free will the best—that is multiplexing. Otherwise known as 'freedom'. Why accept pale substitutes?
Do tribal social instincts need to be 'hacked'? I think the real question is, who hasn't been 'hacking' on them? At this stage of the game, is there anyone left in public life, even among wannabes, who isn't primarily trying to get ahead by exploiting tribal instincts, and how do we reverse this near-universal regression? Let's look at the main types individually, to make sure we aren't missing any angles...
Insider cults are defined by those they have rejected, without whom an 'inside' could never have been established. Dependent on what they despise, 'insiders' are ready-made hypocrites, and when they run out of outsiders to define themselves against, they will simply manufacture more by branding each other as covert outsiders, until there are too few unbranded insiders left to resist some competing cult of insiders—then it's game over, but not before they've left a cultural wasteland in their wake alien to truth and beauty, having clearcut great tracts of both in their zeal to accuse every tree and bush of not being on the inside.
Outsider cults, on the other hand, are defined by what they've been rejected from, without which an 'outside' perspective could never have been established. This works fine as long as 'outsiders' are a small minority, but as soon as enough outsiders join forces, their preoccupation with keeping out those who originally rejected them will tend to turn them into a cult of insiders of their own, and such complementary cults of insiders and outsiders can trade dominant cultural positions, cutting destructive swaths through both truth and beauty on every tip of the see-saw.
Freesiders, on the gripping hand, are defined by a freedom to move between inside and outside. It's the only viewpoint that is actually independent of the existence of that boundary. Freesiders are always on the side where traversing sides is the most tolerated, because that's where genuine freedom waits. If that side changes, so do the freesiders. Freesiders will use whatever tools necessary, including pseudonyms and anonyms, to go wherever they wish among both insiders and outsiders, because to refrain from doing so would be to accept that there is a genuine difference between 'insiders' and 'outsiders', and a skeptical immunity to such thinking is what makes a freesider a freesider.
The key insight of freesiding is that all tribes and cults, whether putatively of insiders or outsiders, are inherently sharply limiting of free will, and will eventually turn every 'space' into a cult of its own unless countered by people willing to openly freeside in those spaces. That awareness is what makes freesiders unusually resistant to groupthink, even to the point of falling on their swords and accepting a ban to make a 'point', if necessary. If that sounds like a useful type of person to have around, you are not the first to think so. Freesiders are among the most useful indicators in any socially post-digitised community. Their presence can be considered a form of immunotherapy.
A cult of insiders will always, by definition, try to cast its critics out. Everything else is fluidly determinable by the cult's leaders, but it cannot dispense with this one method and remain a cult. The most effective way to counter this kind of cult, therefore, is to surgically disrupt its one indispensible method, by creating a countercult the only proof of membership for which is the freedom to side for or against any cult. It's a direct inversion of the cult's basic mechanism for arrogating power. Any additional rules for membership in a freesider's countercult would be therefore contradictory and unproductive, turning it into no longer a countercult of freesiders, but a straight-up cult of self-siders (A.K.A. 'consensus formers'), and that would quickly devolve into just another cult of insiders trying to kick each other out to achieve that ever-elusive consensus. 'Occupying' protesters made this mistake. So did gamers. And now cryptocoin communities are blindly careening down the same paths; in fact, they tend to operate in 'rabidly self-siding cult of outsiders' territory, 24/7. Not a good sign, given that this form of target devolution is well known to be a movement killer. Which brings me to...
Whereas a cult of insiders will cast people 'out' based on accusations of criminality or sin, a cult of outsiders will always try to cast its critics 'in' to the same opposing cult it pretends to counter, smearing with accusations of conspiracy or greed, like 'plant', 'shill', and classically, 'working for The Man'. That's how you know the 'outsiders' have become a cult proper, rather than merely the countercult they claim to be: they are now recruiting for their alleged enemy, hoping to increase the number of people they can label 'fair game' to justify righteousness and harsh tactics, as cultists are known to do. The way to deal with this kind of cult is to realise that since it has already metastasised into a competing cult of insiders—it wouldn't be trying to run people off its turf otherwise—one can simply 'hack' it the same way one would any cult of insiders, by creating a genuine countercult of freesiders in or around cult 'spaces'.
You join it. The phrase 'cult of freesiders' can only truthfully describe a countercult in which the only rule of membership is the freedom to side or not side for or against any cult at any time. That one rule renders any further rules inoperative, making it the perfect countercult. It's self-hacking, so the best way to 'hack' a 'cult' of freesiders is to join it, and use as intended. A genuine countercult of freesiders would pretty much say, "You are free to side, or not to side, or not to care about this issue and make something truly interesting instead, like art, or how about a genuinely rational argument? Make sure you post any and all on the freeside!" How do you 'hack' what is fundamentally already a hackerspace? If a community is truly 'on the freeside', won't any attempt to 'hack' it just be celebrated for its cleverness and the 'hacker' probably welcomed and absorbed onto the freeside? [Essentially, this is what happened during the periods of European history we now call "The Renaissance" (of art) followed by "The Enlightenment" (of science), and the effects were fairly profound on what had previously been a literal "get Medieval on yo' ass" society.]
The way to 'hack' tribalism is by turning its own instincts against it. This can be viewed as hypocritical, but exploiting the same predictable psychological responses as the cultists do is the only way to make sure we are reaching the same people a cult can reach, to whom rational arguments often fail to penetrate. We can avoid going down the same exclusionary road as the cultists do, however, by 'only the act itselfing' (see the four examples below), meaning only to call out tribal actions, rather than giving in to the dark side by trying to cancel and discard people as if they will be tribalists for life. They likely won't be. They'll grow older and wiser. We all will, as we continue to see the consequences of the world social media has created. And one day, we'll have a degree of herd immunity to this new digital strain of cultish fervour more resembling of what we had in the past, and the resurgence of tribalism will recede into a distant memory.
So to oppose an entire person and all that they might do in the future, because of a few disagreeable words or actions in the past or present, would be to abuse free will for the purpose of clearcutting a destructive path through its own future exercise, based on the flimsiest of evidence—an activity a freesider would naturally abhor. The only thing that freesiders are willing to oppose tribally is the act itself of opposing people tribally. As applied throughout the ages...
The only thing a freesider will seek to outcast is the act itself of outcasting free will.
The only thing a freesider will seek to blacklist is the act itself of blacklisting free will.
The only thing a freesider will seek to deplatform is the act itself of deplatforming free will.
The only thing a freesider will seek to 'cancel' is the act itself of 'cancelling' free will.
These four are all saying the same thing in the jargon of different eras, because freesiding works and has worked in all those eras. Note that by 'freesiding' I am not referring to any kind of organisation that has ever or will ever exist. It is merely the most apt description I can find for the largely lost and forgotten point of view that outcasting, blacklisting, deplatforming, cancelling, whatever you want to call this age-old compulsion, is one of the unhippest things you can be caught doing. All of those old tribal anxieties are just, like, your personal hang-ups, man—this was an extremely valuable notion for the human race that was sorely needed, in its time, by a world which had previously become ruled by paranoia and suspicion, and haven't those times now returned?
Are you free?
Is your mind free?
Still twosiding? Still hung up between insiders and outsiders, thinking everyone who disagrees with one 'sider must be one of the opposite 'siders?
A freesider is no insider. We relate with whom we wish.
A freesider is no outsider. We will travel where we wish.
A freesider tends to go where the freedom's better, so wherever that is, it's where you'll find us.
The inside's where you'll find the corrupt and powerful. They are not yet free.
The outside's where you'll find the powerless and disaffected. They are not yet free.
The freeside's where have been found the independents, free thinkers: the artists; the visionaries; the scientists. They make good company.
Because their wills are free.
So we ask you again.
Are you free?
We are not going to tell you how to freeside. Just go wherever you wish, believe whatever you wish, under whatever anonym or pseudonym you wish, openly using however many cryptocurrencies you wish—and you'll be on the freeside, the whole entire time. Bring your freedom with you! You'll have to, because there is no single community that will take ownership of making sure there will always be room for your freedom in their cultifying rules and codes of conduct, is there? Your future is in your hands.
If you wish to echo or excerpt this page on your own website, you don't need to ask permission. Please attribute the original version of the Declaration of Crypto-Independence to its original authors: the pseudonymous and anonymous group of crypto-futurist writers at Listnoir.org/freeside. Here is a rippable short excerpt of this page, with attribution and source link. Here is a longer excerpt. We recommend making either version available at the URL https://[your site domain]/freeside as that is where other freesiders may look for it. Here are some reusable assets in a downloadable .zip file containing HTML source code and associated images for the above two excerpts, as well as a code snippet you can use to place a '/freeside' logo on your website that links to the /freeside on either this site or your own.
All the text on this page at Listnoir.org/freeside is hereby released under a CC-BY 4.0 licence.
Personally, I've expanded the number of currencies I accept directly on my previously launched crypto-futurist science fiction site, BitcoinMars.org, from three to now eight and counting. I had narrowed down the choices in response to negative insinuations from a few twosiders, but now that I've declared crypto-independence, I don't see a reason not to turn my coin support back up to former levels, and then some.
Further, some friends and I—call us, a group of pseudonymous and anonymous crypto-futurist writers—have turned against the very idea of supporting single-currency communities and platforms, and will be launching some new cross-crypto sites together very soon, including Listnoir itself. You can read the details on the latter at Listnoir.org/whatisit.
Thanks for reading, and we invite you to continue to follow the story of the fomenting of a new crypto-indie scene, which will involve highlights from Listnoir's coming gallery of underground crypto-art, peppered with classic film noir / sci-fi reviews, and the occasional 'state of crypto' inbox rant, at the Listnoir Substack. See you on the freeside!