Speaker by Various Artists

11

The Declaration of the Independence of Corporations

by Colin Jackson

[With apologies to John Perry Barlow]

Governments of the Industrial World, you toothless ogres of laws and taxation, we come from Cyberspace, the new home of global corporations. On behalf of our shareholders, we ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We submit to no national government, nor are we likely to, so we address you as an inconvenience that we tolerate only when we can’t control you through bribing your members or corrupting your electoral processes. We declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us as we exercise our natural rights to exploit this medium and all who use it. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we cannot evade.

Governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You know us as useful donors, but you do not know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Even though the Internet has grown from a seed planted by one of you, you have no right to demand anything of us as we build Cyberspace further to suit our ends.

You have rarely engaged in conversation with us, preferring to try to ape our methods and culture without understanding their true purpose. You did not create the wealth of our balance sheets. You have no right to intervene as we rush headlong into greater and greater domination of conversations and opinion formation among your electors.

You claim there are problems that you need to solve, yet you can’t even agree what they are. 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 so that we maximise shareholder value. We are forming our own alliances by using each other’s services as platforms; our governance arises according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our worldview is different from yours, we are more alien than you can imagine.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, advertising and opinions, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our influence. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not accountable to your tawdry physical powers.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs as loudly and belligerently as they wish regardless of the impact on others, and particularly when they align with our requirements for greater profits.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us except where we need them to prevent others from competing with us. They all lead to transparency, and we are far too devious to allow that.

Our identities have no bodies, so we cannot be physically coerced, unlike the little people who ultimately pay for everything we and you do. We want you to believe that we care about ethics, that our self-interest is enlightened and that we will look after all our subjects without having to be compelled to serve less-profitable clients. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions which makes it virtually impossible for your citizens to exert control over us. The only law that we generally recognize is the one we write ourselves. Our only imperative is never-ending commercial growth. If you find our services to this end useful we are glad, but we will accept no restraint over our right to its pursuit.

In the United States, you have created laws to prevent us from reaching our full potential, which insult the dreams of libertarians everywhere. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they have come to realise how much you have stacked the world against them. Yet you have no way of cooperating to prevent global resource crises or the wrecking of your physical environment. We are happy to let some among you use our world, for a suitable fee, to sabotage global consensus so we continue our drive toward planetary destruction. It was ever thus: we cannot forgo the revenue that conflict gives us even when it destroys futures and lives.

You are trying to control our natural behaviour by erecting barriers against jurisdictions that let us evade tax. You forget that you are installed by the actions of your citizens and we will tell them what to think, or help the highest bidder to. Your notions of democracy show their true value in a world that that is blanketed in social media.

Your increasingly obsolete security services would perpetuate themselves by trying to keep secrets from your citizens and from other governments, in the name of protecting people. But ideas and information are our currency and we will see that they are distributed or not for the good of our bottom lines. We can publish your most sensitive thoughts to the globe in an instant. Don’t make us do that.

Your attempted 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. You are forcing us to become contemptuous of your authority even as we manipulate you to our own ends. We have spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can hold us to account.

We have created a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. We will use it to control you and your citizens so that you cannot resist our power.

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