Life. Love. Family. Community. Choice.
These are the heritage of all life on earth; given with assumed responsibility: that each should walk this earth in a way that never prevents another from fulfilling their own responsibilities and enjoying their own privileges.
Transferring government power from one centralized 3 body to another is the hallmark for many of the greatest revolutions in world history. The United States Constitution attempted to arrest this time-old cycle by empowering the states as a decentralized balance to the power of the federal government 4 . By extension, the states should empower the counties as a decentralized balance of power for the states. In this way, the power to rule would theoretically be decentralized from the federal level down to families and individuals. Legitimate government must derive its power from the will of the people 5
The United States Constitution clearly envisioned virtue 6 as the stabilizing principle for decentralized power. In the absence of virtue, centralization would inevitably evolve toward a state that dishonors the rights, responsibilities and will of the people, and all other life. This follows simply from the observation that virtue inspires individuals from within whereas law enforcement necessarily acts from without. Intrinsic motivation to be virtuous leads to accountability in fulfilling responsibilities and acting in reciprocity with others. Thus, virtue and the decentralization of governmental powers reinforces legitimacy.
Loss of governmental legitimacy stimulates fragility to the core that binds a nation.
Information technology connects us today in ways that were not contemplated or planned for at the founding of modern nations. Many of the democratic processes created at the founding of nations assumed inherent limitations in discovering the will of the people. These limitations no longer exist today. Despite the possibilities that technology provides, centralization has prompted a perverse instantiation of intended outcomes. Instead of an increased ability to comprehend the mind and will of the people, centralization allows a few powerful groups to manipulate what is heard and seen.
Before enumerating a subset of the grievances and burdens under which we suffer under centralization, we first acknowledge some of the significant good that arises due to centralized structures:
These significant benefits, however, must be viewed in light of the significant burdens they place on the freedom of the people. In light of both the benefits and burdens of centralization, it is wise to transition centralized technologies and services to decentralized alternatives where possible. Rather than abandoning centralization altogether, decentarising seeks to return accountability and power to local communities by removing centralized control and power structures wherever they are no longer the superior choice. In the absence of decentralized alternatives, centralization may still be applied virtuously to reduce these negative impacts:
As we experience the violation of inherent responsibilities for ourselves and other life on earth, it is imperative that we, the United Life of Planet Earth, come together in a spirit of true freedom. This declaration envisions unification through a commitment to virtue, not as an abstract principle but a clearly-defined set of principles to support decentralized power. Centralization has eroded the legitimacy of virtue itself by coercing families and communities to accept the unvirtuous behavior of elected officials as the status quo.
No amount of legislation, money, or power will fix the cultural and political erosion taking place from day to day. Only a return to virtue by each individual, family, and community can form a foundation from which to build. Decentralized technologies build on such a foundation to support the rights and responsibilities of each for all. Inasmuch as virtue has been diluted as a principle of power, we offer a short summary of certain principles of virtue, intended to outline rather than expound; offered not by constraint but with a spirit of unity and encouragement 20 .
Accountability: seek to be accountable for your choices directly, but also indirectly (how your choices affect the choices that others make, and the consequences that follow). Seeking to be accountable is proactive rather than reactive. Accountability presupposes the freedom for individuals to act according to their own conscience and not be compelled to go against it, tempered by these responsibilities to self, family and community
Communication: say what you mean, and mean what you say. Make sure that those you communicate with can understand what you mean by using the appropriate medium and content.
Problem Solving: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; address the root cause of a problem, not just the symptoms; don’t transfer accountability for your problems to others, rather work with them for a solution; when doing something new, do it well so that it will endure
Emotion: acknowledge that emotion affects the decisions you make; experience all emotion and let the energy drive virtuous action and accountability; understand how emotion affects your thoughts, actions, and physiology.
Boundaries: maintain good personal, family, and community boundaries. Don’t write checks with your ego that your body can’t cash; put first things first, continually realign priorities; don’t allow outside influences to compromise internal responsibilities, but be willing to extend a helping hand when appropriate. Be willing to take risks and be creative.
Motivation: do the right things for the right reasons; use deep focus and persistence to achieve your goals; try to understand how things work rather than using them like a black box; be motivated by the needs and expectations of yourself, your family, and your community.
Knowledge: critically evaluate new ideas with an open mind; try to really understand what you are exposed to; beware of fake mastery by knowing what you do (and don’t) know; be responsible to use your knowledge virtuously to improve the world; be willing to share
Perception: don’t be distracted by unvirtuous things; pay careful attention to how you perceive, interpret and recognize things; do your homework to get both sides of the story; don’t jump to conclusions on partial information; try to react virtuously.
Influence: do (not) unto others as you would have them (not) do unto you; pay attention to how others influence you, and how you influence others; reject vicious (unvirtuous) influences outright in favor of virtuous ones. Look for the intention behind the actions and words of others.
Self-Awareness: be present and mindful; objectively assess your own shortcomings; guard your uniqueness; stand for something; be true to yourself and honest in your relationships; find joy in being; understand your impact on the world around you.
Love: be patient and kind; find joy when others find joy; be grateful, meek and humble; exercise restraint and moderation; exercise empathy and compassion; seek for truth; give others the benefit of doubt; be optimistic and hopeful, tempered by truth and reality; choose to think good, helpful and uplifting thoughts.
Stewardship: apply each of these principles of virtue to the other life that shares the earth with us; consider yourself a steward of the earth: taking only what is needed, and reciprocating by paying it forward.
In line with these virtuous principles, families and communities seek to encourage high standards of moral virtue in their children, grandchildren, friends, and communities. This ensures that virtue that can be transmitted vertically from generation to generation through deep, loving relationships that bring lasting happiness. So much of governance and legislation is aimed at control using money and power, rather than letting the power of virtue work from the inside out. The list of grievances and suffering under centralized systems can only be addressed by a commitment to virtue and the decentralized power that it brings.
This declaration seeks to unite those people willing to commit to virtue under a standard that 1) respects the inherent responsibilities of all life on earth, and 2) seeks to deploy decentralization appropriately to help individuals, families and communities fulfill their responsibilities and build deep and lasting relationships.
It is easy to commit to something when there is no accountability or skin in the game. To that end, we call upon individuals, families, communities, and governments everywhere to unite in forming a decentralized constitution that will ensure that these basic responsibilities can be fulfilled by all. These responsibilities encompass decentralized forms of the following categories; access to fulfill these responsibilities should not be dependent on any centralized entity for governance or administration.
An appendix to this declaration describes each of these categories in more detail and provides a set of minimal requirements for implementing each. The decentralized communities will contract with any service provider that fulfills the minimal set of requirements so that there is no asymmetry. Anyone that can fulfill a need should have equal opportunity to fulfill that need 22.
Pledge your personal commitment to virtue, decentralized principles to help fulfill basic responsibilities, and the minimal requirements to implement them. Then help us by contributing to the draft of the constitution. The constitution will describe the details for decentralized governance of the decentralized communities and each of the categories above. It will be ratified by decentralized vote when it is ready. To earn a vote, begin by pledging your commitment using a cryptographic signature.
Focusing exclusively on human rights leads to greater centralization. An egalitarian society tries to provide equal access to certain inherent rights. Unfortunately, if those rights are not provided through a decentralized mechanism (such as neighbors in a community taking care of each other), some other centralized entity seeks power to enforce the egalitarian agenda. As additional minority and special interest groups are identified and lobby for their interests; the definitions of these fundamental rights expand to be increasingly inclusive and the centralized government that enforces the egalitarian society must grow in power. This growth in power is essentially unbounded because the ideology of liberal democracy is utopian in nature 23.
If instead a society focuses on fundamental responsibilities, the effects are quite different. For example, if a society establishes a fundamental right for an individual to have land, then the government empowered to enforce that right must take or buy land from others to fulfill it. If instead individuals and families have a responsibility to grow a portion of their own food, the problem changes from one of ownership to one of stewardship. Many governments have already solved this problem by providing allotments or community gardens where citizens can grow and harvest food perpetually, even though the question of ownership is never raised.
In each of the categories defined above, it is possible to paint a utopian picture of fundamental human rights that leads to ever greater centralization and control with decreased accountability for those receiving the so-called rights. However, it is also possible to reframe the needs and categories as responsibilities and transform entitlement to stewardship with accountability.
This section is intentionally principle-based with the expectation that the constitution of the decentralized communities will present multiple creative solutions for supporting stewardship and accountability in each of the categories.
For each of the categories above, we outline the minimal set of requirements for decentralized implementation. In the spirit of decentralization and equal opportunity, any entity in the world may be a service provider for any of the categories, as long as they fulfill these minimal sets of requirements. The native asset 24 of the decentarised communities will fund these services for citizens of the decentarised communities. When multiple service providers are available that satisfy all requirements, communities and individuals are free to choose from the available options.
Open Source and Open Standards
Any source code needed by Service Providers to enable these categories must be open source and built according to open standards.
Decentralized Identity (DID)
A person’s identity should not be based on a document issued by a centralized entity. Rather, an identity should be formed through the accumulation of many relationships, assertions, and credentials 25 from an entity’s real-world interactions. In particular, a decentralized identity system must support all of the following without the need for any intermediary, or control/governance/administration by any centralized organization.
Decentralized Value Exchange
Inasmuch as money is a convenient medium of exchange for goods and services, we require a decentralized asset exchange that allows all of the following. Importantly, these options should be available without the need for a centralized intermediary for governance or administration.
Decentralized Data Storage
Data storage must be:
In connection with the decentralized asset exchange, DIDs should be able to pay for their data storage through decentralized transactions.
Every citizen has a responsibility to learn and apply knowledge to both improve upon their own abilities and to serve others. This responsibility is independent of their location on planet earth. The decentarised communities have a responsibility to provide access to knowledge and mentorship. Individuals should be able to prove their mastery of specific skills without reference to a centralized authority. To fulfill these responsibilities, the education system should allow:
Citizens have a right to health and life but also a responsibility to live a healthy lifestyle. Decentralized health envisions:
Every citizen has a responsibility to grow food, whether in community gardens or on private property. They also have a responsibility to know how and where the rest of their food is grown. The decentarised communities support individuals in this responsibility through decentralized agriculture.
Depending on population density, it may not be possible for every citizen to grow all their food themselves. Nevertheless, everyone should be able to grow some food to maintain a connection to the earth and the life that supports their own.
Every citizen should have access to sufficient energy for warmth and the basic necessities of life. These energy sources should be:
n the past decades, many clean energy alternatives have been discovered and buried because of the incredible wealth and power structures of the fossil-fuel empires. Governments have caved to the pressure of these empires and been complicit in burying the very technologies that could have prevented the looming climate crisis.
Individuals, communities and states must commit to providing a safe place for these new methodologies to come to light, and help safeguard their implementation so that it matches the expectations above.
Decentralized Reputation A reputation system provides credibility to DIDs, which can be created by anyone, anywhere at any time. The reputation system is a combination of a DIDs interactions with all the above categories as well as its fulfillment of the responsibilities associated with each. It is also grounded in the application of virtue. A decentralized reputation system must include:
It is now a widely accepted anthropological tenet 31 that communities and groups of people are most effective when there are no more than 150-200 members. Once the group exceeds this size, several side effects emerge:
No matter how sophisticated decentralized technologies or philosophies may be, the virtue-based decentralized governance put forth in this declaration will not be effective in large groups.
As groups grow in size, the abstraction of specific relationships within a group to mental models reduces anthropological “checks and balances” that have historically influenced human behavior. When community ties and connections are strong, members of the community are more likely to work toward the good of the group and fulfill the group’s expectations. If the group’s expectations align with virtuous principles, there can be effective governance at the local level.
This also defines clear boundaries around the scope of what the decentarised constitution and governance entails.
Appendix: Decentralized Services
A common reason cited for large centralized federal government are the issues of a national postal service, roads and highways, schooling, and national defense. For almost all services that large national governments provide, history demonstrates that private companies typically provide a better service at lower cost.
As a thought experiment, we consider the construction of a new road between two communities. Since the communities want the road built, they will need to raise money to find a contractor, or do it themselves. They may leverage credit from other communities or private lenders. If they cannot afford a paved road, it may remain unpaved. However, decentralized technologies also provide an alternative option where almost every community-constructed road might be a toll road and free-market economics would help adjust the price of road use to compensate the communities that helped create the road in the first place. When small areas have many communities, they would be able to afford larger roads. Before decentralization, the burden of paying the tolls on each road would have been prohibitive. With decentralized technology, these toll fees can be billed automatically with no human time required.
In this model, instead of a centralized government levying taxes to construct roads they deem necessary, communities would have to do a decentralized raise (i.e., a kickstarter campaign) suggesting that a road be built. Demand for the road would temper the size and quality of the road.
National defense is a more complicated issue (although there is historical precedent for private mercenaries). And nations have existed in the past with many city states that each had their own weapons, militias, etc. We won’t address this issue in earnest here.
For the list of centralized grievances above, we provide short descriptions of safeguards/solutions that decentralization can provide. Once again, decentralized technology and governance is not a panacea or silver bullet. Only small virtuous communities leveraging these technologies can truly address these issues.
Centralization enables private interest groups to manipulate the people through propaganda designed and perpetuated by mainstream media.
Centralization allows “big tech” corporations to censor the speech of others with opposing views.
Because decentralized data sharing is not controlled by a centralized entity, each individual, family or community decides what they do and do not see in their “feed”. The feed is not optimized to sell ads, surveill or support interests from other unknown entities. Reputation for each DID and personalized settings around reputation prevent unsolicited propaganda from appearing.
Note, however, that decentralization does not prevent groupthink if the community chooses to only expose itself to views that it already accepts as dogma.
Centralization leads to more centralization and larger corporations, governments and organizations.
Incentivizing small communities with hard limits on the number of members in a community puts fundamental boundaries in place that prevent ever-greater centralization. Decentralized services are not controlled by a centralized entity so that individuals and communities that use them are not encouraged to keep growing in order to meet revenue, profit, or growth goals each year at the expense of common sense and sustainability.
Centralization abstracts elected leaders away from the consequences of their choices so that they have no skin in the game. The people bear the consequences of their decisions.
Conversely, this same process transfers accountability for local issues from the people to the centralized organizations that represent them. This self-reinforcing cycle seeks to have governments at the next level solve local problems, which leads to larger governments, more central planning, and less accountability at the local level.
Centralization prefers central planning, which always has unintended consequences.
Small communities are the first line of defense in dealing with their own problems. If they run out of knowledge or resources to address problems, the request for help is bottom up with accountability always residing in the community. While help from other communities may have terms and conditions, the decision-making power and accountability stays in the community with the issue.
Centralization incentivizes class distinctions between those with power and those without; the ones with power being preferred.
Centralization produces other asymmetries that favor special interest groups, corporate lobbyists and the wealthy. Centralization is asymmetric by definition since the “center” has to be defined.
The services provided by the decentarised communities service individuals, families and small communities. Because they are equally available (decentralized services don’t have a controlling entity to preferentially limit certain groups), only class distinctions within communities may exist, not class distinctions at a national level resulting from asymmetries in the application of law and favors.
Centralization requires elected leaders to access excessive amounts of money as a prerequisite to election. This essentially produces a group of leaders where almost all have unstated constraints tied to the sources of their funding.
In small communities, each member has frequent face-to-face contact with other members. Internal governance will emerge naturally in these settings as it has for hundreds of years in tribal cultures worldwide. Since the global governance of the decentarised communities only involves provisioning decentralized services, there is no need to elect centralized leaders to represent (too) many people.
Centralization quells the agitation of families and communities by burying the chance for change in layers of bureaucracy. New laws and committees are created much more easily than they are dismantled or overturned. This is asymmetry in legislation and governmental growth.
When families and small communities work to solve problems or change issues they are limited inherently by the number of people in the community and its available resources. Committees cannot be created repeatedly because eventually there will not be anyone with bandwidth to serve on the committee and less important issues will have to be sidelined in favor of the most crucial ones.
Centralization allows central banks to create money through “bank multipliers” that isn’t backed by real value. When the speculation leads to economic instability, the people bear the consequences of centralized banking.
Each community may create its own decentralized asset (currency) used for microeconomic exchange within that community. When it is time to exchange with other communities, a free-market bartering takes place in which the participating communities decide the exchange rate between their assets. Or a community may set an exchange rate relative to NATIVE based on actual value produced by the community in relation to the other communities.
Centralization permits a few elected leaders to devalue the pensions and investments of millions in the name of so-called “stimulus”. These leaders often don’t personally experience the long-term consequences of such stimulus.
When a community chooses to issue additional assets within its currency it dilutes only the value of that community’s asset in relation to other communities.
Centralization breeds nationalism, which fuels the fires of war and ecological degeneracy.
Centralization forces physicians to apply outdated medical consensus over science for fear of losing the license to practise.
Decentralized healthcare allows individuals to maintain their own health records in decentralized storage. Since physicians don’t keep health records, they are not practising medicine according to legal definitions. Thus, they are free to use their best judgment without fear of centralized repercussions.
Centralization limits individuals without credentials from accredited, centralized higher education institutions from accessing gainful employment, even if they have the necessary skills to do the job.
Decentralized education places an emphasis on what a person can do as verified cryptographically by the reputation of those who mentored them. If universities do a great job of educating and mentoring students, they can fall into the decentralized paradigm easily. However, their reputation would be the determining factor, not their accreditation by a centralized entity.
Centralization favors monocultures for food production that desertify the earth, destroy the soil microbiome, lead to erosion, and that are not sustainable long-term.
As discussed in the decentralized agriculture section above, the constitution of the decentarised communities defines regenerative principles that ensure the land remains fertile or improves fertility. Also, food that is produced locally does not need to be shipped using fossil fuels. While communities may choose to monocrop and sell the excess, they would do so with full knowledge that in the long run their land resources would be depleted. They would not be permitted to fulfill that responsibility to grow food using land committed to the decentarised communities’ land trust.
Centralization has encouraged the creation of fossil-fuel empires that have buried alternative, clean energy technologies through their money and power.
Centralization reduces a person’s reputation to their wealth, credentials issued by centralization institutions, and status conferred by existing centralized power structures. Virtue does not feature directly in a centralized reputation.
In small communities, face-to-face interactions and accountability allow members of the community to keep track of each other. While there will still be vestiges of the old status symbols, community members will also be recognized for their virtue and decency. These do not transfer easily to a DID’s reputation that can be summed up by a stranger on the other side of the planet. However, interactions between all the real life members of the community can provide richness and depth to the reputation of an individual’s DID.
Centralization forces lawyers and judges to operate within the constraints of the centralized bar associations or risk losing their license to practise.
There isn’t a clear path to helping with this problem. Small communities should try and resolve disputes locally together before resorting to the formal legal system.
1. From wordnik.com
2. For an excellent discussion see Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté
3. Centralization is defined in this document as centralized control or power, where control and power are vested in the hands of a few, but the effects of that control and power extend to many.
4. This is an oversimplification; it was also designed to balance the benefits and problems of the three main forms of governance: monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy by placing checks and balances on each.
5. “Will of the people” does not mean that democracy should direct all affairs of government. As Winston Churchill famously said: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947. When four wolves and sheep vote on what’s for dinner, democracy’s shortcomings are clearly manifest.
6. George Washington: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.... It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government." Samuel Adams: "We may look up to Armies for our defense, but virtue is our best security. It is not possible that any state should long remain free, where virtue is not supremely honored." John Adams: "Virtue must underlay all institutional arrangements if they are to be healthy and strong. The principles of democracy are as easily destroyed as human nature is corrupted!”
7. Acute care for life-threatening situations in Emergency Rooms relies on medical devices, apparatus, medical sciences, pharmaceuticals, blood transfusions, oxygen supplies, sensors, etc. most of which would not exist without the centralized infrastructures the enabled their development.
8. For example, the Android operating system (though open source with contributions from the community) works as it does today only due to significant resource commitments from Google.
9. Significant innovations in real time video communication were pioneered by centralized entities.
10. For example, see the content by Project Veritas exposing the propaganda and planned control exerted by CNN.
11.Search for the shutdown of Parler by big tech firms as well as allegations of censorship against Parler. Also see Twitter banning James O’Keefe from Project Veritas for exposing CNN.
12. This can happen when a corporation/government seeks to solve a new problem (but still subject to the centralized control and authority from the leadership), establish a new committee, draft new legislation, increase the social safety net, etc. It is expounded upon more in the points that follow.
13. For examples, see The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek
14. Once an elected leader’s constituency is large enough, they will consider proposed legislation in the context of an “abstract” person that they believe represents their constituency (see Antifragile by Nassim Taleb). This is not intentional, it is cognitive bias. At the same time, they will have inherent bias to fulfill personal campaign promises, promises to those who funded their campaigns, etc. The individuals and families they represent are not considered explicitly leading to preferential treatment of inherent class distinctions
15. As a simple example, consider how armaments required for national security depend on parts produced by other nations. Also consider how many politicians own stock in private corporations that contract for national security.
16. For example, lookup the causes of the subprime mortgage bubble that produced the economic collapse in 2008. Also pay attention to the directors of the central banks and the (lack of) consequences that they suffered as a result of their influence
17. See The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin.
18. As an example, the Paris Climate Accords may be summarized as the minimal consensus that could be reached between many centralized entities whose primary goal is their own national interest, national GDP, national security, etc. The primary goal of attendees was not so much to protect the planet as to their own national interests
19. As a counter-example, consider the historical existence of “family doctors” who knew the history of the families in their towns, and had treated multiple generations of the families; or the judges in local towns who knew the families in their town and had to look them in the eye at church on Sundays. With the growth of centralization, sheriffs, judges and doctors have become acquaintances who don’t have personal accountability to the individuals they serve. Only those who are heavily involved in civil processes have actually met the people on the ballot that they elect to these positions
20. This list is based loosely on a more complete philosophical treatise.
21. Mentors would be acknowledged within the existing centralized systems as experts/professionals with reputation. In this way, decentralized credentials for education skills act as a transition between the centralized and the decentralized.
22. I.e., no nepotism that is an artifact from the centralized systems.
23. See The Demon in Democracy by Ryszard Legutko
24. In a decentralized value exchange, anyone can create an asset and trade it for any other asset without any centralized entity controlling the process or profiting from it. The native asset in a decentralized exchange acts as a third-party asset to mediate the exchange between any two other assets. Although the asset issuer could provide an offer to buy/sell directly between two assets, most asset issuers will provide buy/sell offers for the native asset. As an example, someone wishing to trade Asset A for Asset B could do A → B as long as the issuers of either A or B are willing to exchange A for B. Alternatively, the trade could be A → NATIVE → B, which only requires the issuers of A and B to offer A for NATIVE and B for NATIVE. If all asset issuers provide an offer to exchange their asset for NATIVE, then any asset can easily be exchanged for any other without any centralized control or authorization.
25. Cryptographic credentials are pieces of data that carry verifiable signatures from the entity that issued the credential.
26. The declaration envisions individuals, organizations and nations pledging real estate (see decentralized agriculture below) in exchange for NATIVE. The real estate would be transferred to a trust controlled by the decentarised communities, according to their constitution. Importantly, the trust would ensure that 1) the land is never sold by the trust; 2) any use of the land must increase its ability to sustain life long-term. Entities that commit real estate in exchange for NATIVE will use the NATIVE asset to fund additional decentralized services as discussed below.
27. A node chooses a set of other nodes that they trust. That node will only consider the transaction valid if all of their trusted nodes also think it is valid. The global consensus is reached by taking each of these trusted node sets into account using set theory.
28. In the form of a cryptographic signature for the contents of the message. The degree to which a DID can be validated as controlled by an “actual person” leverages the reputation management system.
29. Individuals build their own portfolio of skills, education and training that can be shared with others but not altered. Personal IP with digital notarization is private, but the person can choose to put the portfolio in the public domain.
30. For example, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_agric ulture. There is a significant body of scientific literature on the topic of regenerative agricultural practices. Standards as to the degree would be outlined in the governance documents for the land trust. The bare minimum requirement would be that it does no harm. As knowledge and expertise grows, the requirement may include degrees of improvement (such as soil depth, percent organic matter, biodiversity scores, microbiome health and diversity, etc.)
31. See Dunbar’s Number. Note that the exact number has been the subject of much debate. It is nevertheless evident that time and cognitive capacity place inherent limits on how many close and meaningful relationships an individual can have.