A Brief Self-Sovereign Manifesto

We have all come to rely on a variety of systems central to modern life that are provided exclusively by either governments or large corporations. These include communication services, social networks, a currency to transact with, and public education, to name just a few.

Self-sovereignism is a movement of individuals retaking personal control over these crucial aspects of human life.

Why would individuals want to do this?

Unfortunately, many of these monopolized services are actually dis-services. [See my short piece The Pillars that Once Held Us Up Now Hold Us Back.] They might be overly homogenized or bureaucratized. They may lack privacy. They may be outdated. They may be of poor quality. Worst of all, they may serve interests that conflict with those of the individual.

When monopolized services remove individual self-determination, they eliminate both our ability and our desire to live up to our potential and fully enjoy our lives.

As a good example, consider the system of money, monopolized by the government, that ensures that the wealthy and powerful stay that way even if they take actions that destroy their wealth. Such a system greatly discourages honest effort and self-actualization by everyone, rich or poor, powerful or weak. Nobody applies themselves fully under such a system.

And thus, it is the goal of self-sovereignism to provide an alternative to such disservice.

How do we bring this about?

Self-sovereignism is both a technological and a social movement. It can finally exist because we have advanced so far that we can create and provide these services using powerful, cheap and easy technologies that we can operate independent of government or big business. And it can now flourish because so many of us crave its benefits and are prepared to act to realize them. The movement, thus, is individuals asserting and exercising our rights to create and choose un-monopolizable services through digital technologies. [See my short essay The New, Sustainable Individualism for an explanation of why technology is essential to the success of any self-sovereign project.]

Built into any self-sovereignist alternative is decentralization — a structure that lacks hierarchy, gatekeepers or enforced patents, and thus prevents any individuals or groups from seizing control that could lead to it becoming a monopoly itself.

Consider the example of self-sovereign money — which is the project known as Bitcoin. Bitcoin is open source, it has no centre, no CEO, no employees, no marketing budget, no laws that force it upon anyone. And yet tens of millions of individuals all over the world run its software, hold its units, and contribute to its success by writing code, essays, or telling their friends about it, and so much more.

Bitcoin is a crucial entity in self-sovereignism, but it is hardly the only solution that can and will be de-monopolized and decentralized. Self-sovereignists already are running technological apparatuses that go beyond bitcoin. We run our own private communication services from instant-messaging to email and social media. Some are generating and storing our own electricity. Some are building and sharing common communication bandwidth. Some design and print more things each day using 3D printing technology. We are deciding what our children are taught, by whom, and how; and what and how we learn too. Each of these pursuits free us from the top-down dictates by big corporations or governments that serve us poorly.

We believe that every human being should be free to live their life according to their choices so long as they do not initiate the use of force nor commit fraud upon others. We recognize that achieving that freedom relies on people individually embracing technological solutions that support each freedom in a manner that prevents anyone from being able to take those freedoms away. We can not depend on others to give us freedom. We must create and maintain it ourselves. That is our movement’s purpose.