title: You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants.
I just saw this today. It kind of goes along with my "Move to the Internet"
post from a few days ago.
> Date: Fri, 9 Feb 1996 17:16:35 +0100
> To: [firstname.lastname@example.org]
> From: John Perry Barlow <[email@example.com]>
> Subject: A Cyberspace Independence Declaration
> Yesterday, that great invertebrate in the White House signed into the law
the Telecom "Reform" Act of 1996, while Tipper Gore took digital photographs
of the proceedings to be included in a book called "24 Hours in
> I had also been asked to participate in the creation of this book by writing
something appropriate to the moment. Given the atrocity that this legislation
would seek to inflict on the Net, I decided it was as good a
> time as any to dump some tea in the virtual harbor.
> After all, the Telecom "Reform" Act, passed in the Senate with only 5
dissenting votes, makes it unlawful, and punishable by a $250,000 to say
"shit" online. Or, for that matter, to say any of the other 7 dirty words
> prohibited in broadcast media. Or to discuss abortion openly. Or to talk
about any bodily function in any but the most clinical terms.
> It attempts to place more restrictive constraints on the conversation in
Cyberspace than presently exist in the Senate cafeteria, where I have dined
and heard colorful indecencies spoken by United States senators on every
> This bill was enacted upon us by people who haven't the slightest idea who
we are or where our conversation is being conducted. It is, as my good friend
and Wired Editor Louis Rossetto put it, as though "the illiterate could tell
> Or, more to the point, let us now take our leave of them. They have declared
war on Cyberspace. Let us show them how cunning, baffling, and powerful we can
be in our own defense.
> I have written something (with characteristic grandiosity) that I hope will
become one of many means to this end. If you find it useful, I hope you
> will pass it on as widely as possible. You can leave my name off it if you
like, because I don't care about the credit. I really don't.
> But I do hope this cry will echo across Cyberspace, changing and growing and
self-replicating, until it becomes a great shout equal to the idiocy
> they have just inflicted upon us.
> A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
> Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I
come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you
of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have
no sovereignty where we gather.
> We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address
you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always
speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally
independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral
right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true
> Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You
have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not
know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your
borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public
construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself
through our collective actions.
> You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you
create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our
ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order
than could be obtained by any of your impositions.
> You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this
claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. 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. We are forming our own Social
Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our
world, not yours. Our world is different.
> Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.
> We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice
accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
> We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
> Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context
do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter here.
> Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and
the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be
distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our
constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we
will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we
cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.
> In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications
Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of
Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams
must now be born anew in us.
> You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world
where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your
bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly
to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of
humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the
global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the
air upon which wings beat.
> In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States,
you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the
frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small
time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-
> Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own
speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be
another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world,
whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed
infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires
your factories to accomplish.
> These increasingly 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. We must declare our
virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to
your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that
no one can arrest our thoughts.
> We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.
> John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident
> Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
> Home(stead) Page: [http://www.eff.org/~barlow]
> Message Service: 800/634-3542
> Barlow in Meatspace Today (until Feb 12): Cannes, France
> Hotel Martinez: (33) 92 98 73 00, Fax: (33) 93 39 67 82
> Coming soon to: Amsterdam 2/13-14, Winston-Salem 2/15, San Francisco
> 2/16-20, San Jose 2/21, San Francisco 2/21-23, Pinedale, Wyoming
> In Memoriam, Dr. Cynthia Horner and Jerry Garcia
> It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can
> --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia