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1 ---
2 published: true
3 title: You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants.
4 layout: post
5 ---
6
7 I just saw this today. It kind of goes along with my "Move to the Internet"
8 post from a few days ago.
9
10 Enjoy.
11
12 > Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 17:16:35 +0100
13 >
14 > To: [barlow@eff.org][1]
15 >
16 > From: John Perry Barlow <[barlow@eff.org][1]>
17 >
18 > Subject: A Cyberspace Independence Declaration
19 >
20 > Yesterday, that great invertebrate in the White House signed into the law
21 the Telecom "Reform" Act of 1996, while Tipper Gore took digital photographs
22 of the proceedings to be included in a book called "24 Hours in
23 >
24 > Cyberspace."
25 >
26 > I had also been asked to participate in the creation of this book by writing
27 something appropriate to the moment. Given the atrocity that this legislation
28 would seek to inflict on the Net, I decided it was as good a
29 >
30 > time as any to dump some tea in the virtual harbor.
31 >
32 > After all, the Telecom "Reform" Act, passed in the Senate with only 5
33 dissenting votes, makes it unlawful, and punishable by a $250,000 to say
34 "shit" online. Or, for that matter, to say any of the other 7 dirty words
35 >
36 > prohibited in broadcast media. Or to discuss abortion openly. Or to talk
37 about any bodily function in any but the most clinical terms.
38 >
39 > It attempts to place more restrictive constraints on the conversation in
40 Cyberspace than presently exist in the Senate cafeteria, where I have dined
41 and heard colorful indecencies spoken by United States senators on every
42 >
43 > occasion I did.
44 >
45 > This bill was enacted upon us by people who haven't the slightest idea who
46 we are or where our conversation is being conducted. It is, as my good friend
47 and Wired Editor Louis Rossetto put it, as though "the illiterate could tell
48 you what to read."
49 >
50 > Well, fuck them.
51 >
52 > Or, more to the point, let us now take our leave of them. They have declared
53 war on Cyberspace. Let us show them how cunning, baffling, and powerful we can
54 be in our own defense.
55 >
56 > I have written something (with characteristic grandiosity) that I hope will
57 become one of many means to this end. If you find it useful, I hope you
58 >
59 > will pass it on as widely as possible. You can leave my name off it if you
60 like, because I don't care about the credit. I really don't.
61 >
62 > But I do hope this cry will echo across Cyberspace, changing and growing and
63 self-replicating, until it becomes a great shout equal to the idiocy
64 >
65 > they have just inflicted upon us.
66 >
67 > I give you...
68 >
69 > A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
70 >
71 > Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I
72 come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you
73 of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have
74 no sovereignty where we gather.
75 >
76 > We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address
77 you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always
78 speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally
79 independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral
80 right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true
81 reason to fear.
82 >
83 > Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You
84 have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not
85 know us, nor do  you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your
86 borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public
87 construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself
88 through our collective actions.
89 >
90 > You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you
91 create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our
92 ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order
93 than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
94 >
95 > You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this
96 claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't
97 exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will
98 identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social
99 Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our
100 world, not yours. Our world is different.
101 >
102 > Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
103 arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.  Ours is a
104 world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.
105 >
106 > We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice
107 accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
108 >
109 > We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
110 beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
111 or conformity.
112 >
113 > Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context
114 do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter here.
115 >
116 > Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
117 physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and
118 the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be
119 distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our
120 constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we
121 will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis.  But we
122 cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.
123 >
124 > In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications
125 Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of
126 Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams
127 must now be born anew in us.
128 >
129 > You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world
130 where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your
131 bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly
132 to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of
133 humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the
134 global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the
135 air upon which wings beat.
136 >
137 > In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States,
138 you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the
139 frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small
140 time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-
141 bearing media.
142 >
143 > Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
144 themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own
145 speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be
146 another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world,
147 whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed
148 infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires
149 your factories to accomplish.
150 >
151 > These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
152 position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to
153 reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our
154 virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to
155 your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that
156 no one can arrest our thoughts.
157 >
158 > We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
159 humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.
160 >
161 > Davos, Switzerland
162 >
163 > February 8, 1996
164 >
165 > ****************************************************************
166 >
167 > John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident
168 >
169 > Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
170 >
171 > Home(stead) Page: [http://www.eff.org/~barlow][2]
172 >
173 > Message Service: 800/634-3542
174 >
175 > Barlow in Meatspace Today (until Feb 12): Cannes, France
176 >
177 > Hotel Martinez: (33) 92 98 73 00, Fax: (33) 93 39 67 82
178 >
179 > Coming soon to: Amsterdam 2/13-14, Winston-Salem 2/15, San Francisco
180 >
181 > 2/16-20, San Jose 2/21, San Francisco 2/21-23, Pinedale, Wyoming
182 >
183 > In Memoriam, Dr. Cynthia Horner and Jerry Garcia
184 >
185 > *****************************************************************
186 >
187 > It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can
188 >
189 > stand by itself.
190 >
191 >                          --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia
192
193 [1]: mailto:barlow@eff.org
194 [2]: http://www.eff.org/~barlow
195
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