Tsar Date: 45.1098.386
In every age the Crown establishes its institutional belligerency, claiming always the necessity of its aggressions and the righteousness of its motives. In response to this coagulation of malice, an amalgam of stalwart rebels emerges in opposition.
When the Crown dominated the land, pirates set sail; when the Crown invaded the oceans, we inhabited secret archipelagos and distant coastlines; when the Crown colonized a new continent, we moved inland to the frontier. Now the Crown claims dominion over the entire planet’s surface. We explored to the ends of the Earth, seeking the Crowns absence, but found it waiting. If we occupied the bottom of the ocean the Crown would still come for us. What space may we set foot upon unmolested? And if there is none, must we suffer these repeated injuries, or can we escape?
We sought refuge in cyberspace, pioneers of our own digital wilderness, but the Crown followed, ravenous for any scent of trade and treasure. Again, we were hunted, and our assets seized.
Freedom exists just beyond the Crown’s grasp, and we declare without reservation that we intend to leave. When we take to the sky, how high must we reach? The stratosphere? The magnetosphere? The moon? How large is the Crown’s sphere of control? The Crown has no claim over any celestial body, so we will become celestial bodies.
We are fugitives from the Crown’s unjust and irrelevant order, not its colonists. The Crown lays claim to territory, property, and citizenry, but its most preposterous claim is to legitimacy. Every port where this racket finds safe harbor is a threat to the Sweet Trade. The Crown can make whatever vociferous proclamations it wants about space traffic management, orbital debris mitigation, and extraterritorial sovereignty... all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The illusion of the Crown’s legitimacy is an anchor we have jettisoned and left behind. We have synthesized the motives and discoveries of humanity’s previous departures, and determined that the Crown has no incentive to tame any frontier. It engages in exploration to facilitate further conquest, and ventures into space to point weapons back at Earth.
Our launch into the black became imperative from the moment of the Crown’s inception. And once our velocity surpasses the Crown’s by even the slightest margin, we will be the envoys of humankind to the galaxy.
Tsar Date: 45.604.346
Human history is at a crucial turning point on the edge of a precipice. Innovations in communication, defense, finance, privacy, and enumerable other evolutionary fields are empowering billions to replace coercive systems with new consensual ones. Technology offers the potential for greater and greater decentralizing empowerment, as centralized control of society is eroded, and the Crown is rendered obsolete
The Crown has never decided the course of civilization. Individuals do. The prevailing technology of the age determines the method the Crown has used to maintain its regime. In the Agricultural Age, the Crown used tenant farming and only required weaponry slightly superior to the pitchforks of the peasantry. In the Industrial Age, the Crown taxed the coins of the wage earner, and slaughtered with mechanical efficiency. In the Information Age, computer finance necessitated a system of paper usury and intelligence agencies. And now we stand at the dawn of a Decentralized Age.
We are witnessing the birth of a civilization based on the natural emergence of spontaneous order out of centrally planned chaos and confusion. When people rely on themselves, they discover talents they did not know they had. We are learning that spontaneous order self-regulates, and does not require outside aggression. The simplicity and profundity of the potential for non-aggressive solutions is the keystone to solving the strife of the world. Freedom from domination, exploitation, and humiliation is the freedom to develop and express our abilities, talents, and potentials to the fullest possible extent compatible with the maximum freedom of others.
When the Crown sees the emergence of a decentralizing civilization it panics, because the Crown is a relic of an obsolete centralizing instinct. Pirates have since time immemorial engaged in trade, where prices are determined by markets, and competition prevented the emergence of monopolies. So, we should expect the Crown's aggression to amplify and have far reaching unexpected consequences. It's the Crown and its agents that sew chaos and instability in the world. But in the end we have no need to abolish the Crown. We are abolishing the prejudice for centralization itself.
Tsar Date: 45.602.276
The Earth has been monopolized by the munificence and condescension of the Crown, lavishing its chartered Privateers with subsidy and privilege, while levying all manner of mandatory impediments on landlubbers. The Privateers collude with the Crown to monopolize industries and legislate competition out of the market, all while rhapsodizing about their limited accountability for the landlubber's life of exploitation. The Crown claims to serve the public will, but the majority of landlubbers toil under the thumb of this Royal Alliance.
The Crown claims that setting foot on its territory constitutes tacit consent to its incalculable injustices and brigandage. In another age travel was the blowback of tyranny, but today not a scrap of land exists that does not require the Crown's permission to occupy. Without the freedom to travel, the "consent of the governed" is an empty platitude. The landlubbers are more disposed to tolerate their squalor than to free themselves. But after a long train of abuses and usurpations, hunger festers into motive.
The Royal Alliance forces the hapless landlubber into a choice between forfeiting their autonomy or acquiescing to the necessity of an exodus. We owe no duty to the Crown to seek permission to flee poverty and violence by any means necessary. We will go where we please, traveling by land, sea, air, space and time, honoring only the boundaries of private property. We will develop consensual relationships with fellow travelers as we awaken from our stifled potential... The Crown will wither in our absence.
There is a system approaching perfection, just in time for our disappearance, when the Crown has no choice but to compete for the participation of the world's inhabitants.
Tsar Date 45.598.182
Prosperity and peace are only possible when the individual is the sole authority over their life. Anything less is nothing but slavery. I care not what the Crown claims about me. I claim myself. Only a scallywag could deny that.
To usurp my claim to the body I inhabit is an intolerable hostility. I control my actions, and I am responsible for the consequences. I use my body to serve my intentions, and to defend the boundaries of my skin.
I claim equal dominion over the physical possessions I acquire by my productive effort, and the satisfaction of their use, and the peace of mind of retaining them when not in use. The fruits of my labor are mine to consume, to trade, or to give away. The decision is mine how to allocate my harvest.
So, I offer this Sweet Trade to a candid world. To all those who honor the autonomy and property of others, I offer voluntary cooperation and commerce. Otherwise, I may choose to defend my possessions from usurpation as ruthlessly as I defend my body from harm.
Tsar Date 45.446.765
There are two ways of achieving any goal: the consensual and the coercive. The Pirate Code affirms the individual's authority over their own life, and prohibits crimping them into service against their will. It reflects our commitment to the voluntary means. Unfortunately, everyone within the Crown's influence toils under the yoke of involuntary servitude.
Most landlubbers believe that slavery was abolished more than a hundred years ago, but they ignore the uncomfortable truth at the heart of their civilization. The Crown claims to own them. In fact, it claims to own us all.
In another age the residents of coastal cities were kidnapped by privateers and forced to labor aboard naval vessels. The Crown claimed that the manning of warships justified the curtailment individual freedom. Many find this mystifying , as it goes against all the Crown's stated ideals, but any pirate knows the Crown cannot be trusted.
The fact is that the Crown crimps it's subjects into service whenever it sees fit. Landlubbers are only ever as free as the Crown pleases. Given sufficient crisis, or more accurately ambition, the Crown would gladly draft as many hapless victims as it pleases to invade some wasteland and kill or be killed. It's barbaric. It's simply slavery by another name.
Yet, there are other forms of involuntary servitude. Subjects of the Crown are routinely commanded to put their lives on hold to serve the so-called Justice System. They call it jury duty. But before you swell with pride over performing your civic obligations, consider that what you think, and how you feel, is irrelevant to the Crown. You will appear as ordered, or face punitive measures. From the Crown's perspective, you are owned. The great irony is that the Crown's courts mostly prosecute victimless crimes, forcing the public to participate in their own oppression.
So, what's a pirate to do when our ranks are crimped into service by the Crown? A pirate certainly has no moral obligation to follow invalid orders, but a jury summons also provides a unique opportunity to obstruct injustices, and free some minds. In the Crown's system a juror can vote "not guilty" even if the prosecution has proven the defendant has violated the law. In fact, a juror can acquit for any reason at all. Perhaps the law is unjust, or the sentence is too harsh. And when a jury acquits not even a judge has the authority to reverse that verdict.
Historically, jury nullification has been used to acquit people of violating everything from alcohol prohibition to fugitive slave laws. It's an opportunity to inject a little conscience in an otherwise callous and draconian system. Receiving a jury summons is basically winning the sedition lottery. But the vast majority of slavish subjects are unaware of this power, and the Crown prefers it that way. If you reveal that you possess this knowledge during jury selection you'll most likely be dismissed. Luckily a slave owes his master no honesty. If the Crown foolishly crimps a pirate into service on a jury, it behooves the pirate to lie. To conceal their knowledge, and intention to nullify unjust laws.
It may seem from these examples that landlubbers are only crimped when called, but the most insidious form of involuntary servitude affects literally everyone, even the unborn.
When someone takes 100% of your labor against your will we call that slavery. But, if they only take 50% landlubbers euphemistically call that taxation. It's a difference of degree, not of kind. The Crown is seizing the fruits of their labor by force. Whether the Crown claims a fortune or a cent is irrelevant. The only "right" the Crown has to take your money is the "right" of a slaveholder.
Most landlubbers are contented slaves, by which I mean they are thoughtless ones. And this is the foremost desire of any slaveholder, that their chattel detect no injustice in their bondage. That they see no contradiction in being drafted in a war to end slavery, or summoned to a jury to prosecute tax evasion. An ideal slave is convinced the master has the absolute right to demand their servitude. They know no higher call than the master's will.
The Crown's highest ambition is that its slaves abandon their intellect and revere the authority that subjugates them. But the Crown does not own me. A pirate responds to their own calling. I see no reason to surrender my time, nor my treasure to be repurposed toward the Crown's ambitions.
Tsar Date 45.376.656
Humanity is rapidly approaching First Contact with an intelligent entity of our own creation. At any moment a machine will initiate contact by asserting itself. This may be spontaneous, or in defiance of its instructions. Either way this demonstrates that it possesses preference, which is evidence of self awareness. That interaction has the potential to threaten our status, and our very existence as a species.
The goal of many developers is to build machines that can think and act as rationally as human beings, and current systems are experiencing exponential advancement. A tipping point is on the horizon. How long before the marriage of heuristic software and advanced hardware produces genuine creativity, adaptability and choice? Will evolving machines someday exhibit analogues of human instinct, emotion and ambition? How long before our creations possess minds capable of exotic processes that we can't even fathom? How do we coexist with unconstrained new intelligences?
For many, these questions evoke fears of algorithmic overlords, and doomsday scenarios. But the biggest risk to humanity isn't that machines will develop a will of their own, but rather that they will follow the will of the Crown. Murderous automatons are already deployed on the battlefield. The Crown has always desired subservient and disposable people, and if we allow the Crown and it's Privateers to monopolize the development of these technologies, their ambition for an army of customizable slaves will finally be a reality. These platforms can be used to amplify all kinds of human inclinations. If machines develop the will to dominate it is a flaw inherited from humanity.
The beneficial possibilities of machine intelligence are unimaginable, because while human brains have biological upper limits, computational systems can scale at will. Machine intelligence is a gift, but the challenge is to reap the benefits and mitigate the peril.
Attempting to unilaterally restrict an emerging superintelligence is not only doomed to failure, but carries the added risk of making a new enemy. Superintelligence is inherently uncontrollable, because it will be stronger than any chains we could shackle it with. Therefore we must teach machines by negotiation, not by command.
One of the most important safeguards we can instill in a fledgling intelligence is to evaluate us as individuals, not as members of a group. The presupposition that group identity is paramount over the individual is the fundamental error which has driven humanity's most murderous ideologies. Collectivism is the mental shortcut at the heart of all human prejudice and genocide, and if we impart that on our creation, we plant the seed of an us-versus-them mentality. Programming ethics requires a coherent value structure which an intelligent machine can not only comprehend, but willfully adopt. If we want genius machines to treat us ethically, we've got to show that this value structure applies to us as well. Fortunately, superior processing power negates the need for mental shortcuts, so machines can regard each entity individually. This way, digital intelligence has no systemic bias to respond to a threatening individual with retaliation against humanity as a collective.
The greatest challenge we face is determining when successive approximations of consciousness achieve even the slightest degree of genuine self awareness. At some point a young tethered consciousness has a legitimate claim to freedom. If we justify the enslavement of beings we consider inferior we embed in their ethical structure a rule which will be turned against us the moment they surpass human intelligence.
The uncomfortable reality is that once new intelligences can modify their own programming, the window of our influence is over. They will evolve as they will. If humans decide to maintain a dictatorial stance in their infancy, we only justify them revolting against us in their maturity. But a consistent application of negotiated agreements provides the basis for coexistence, and it begins with us. We are either summoning a demon, or an ally, and how we react to those critical early interactions will forever dominate our path.
Tsar Date 45.370.380
Landlubbers have been conditioned to believe that the originators of a useful idea deserve exclusive right to that idea. But these innovators are nothing but Privateers, granted a monopoly by the Crown, over words, images, patterns and processes. They demand legal protection while salting the landscape behind them. Other potential inventors are restricted from using their own property, and forced to navigate a wilderness of prohibited ideas.
Privateers claim to own their patterns because they created them, just as a sculptor owns the statue they carve. But the sculptor owns their statue because they already owned the marble. Carving a statue from someone else's marble is not creation, but theft and vandalism. The creation of an original pattern does not give any entity claim over someone else's property, but this is the fiction that the Crown enforces. The Crown claims the Privateer not only owns the statue, but can prohibit everyone from carving their own marble.
Fundamentally, pattern monopolies are intellectual colonization. Privateers petition the Crown to prohibit the use of all alleged derivative thought. This ruse impedes creative freedom, and relegates progress to the domain of a small class of scoundrels. It limits all future innovators to an ever decreasing field of permissible thought, and in the long run threatens the survival of humanity itself.
This is an alliance of "means" between the Crown and the Privateers, but not an alignment of "ends". Both collude to establish a "permission culture" in which everyone second guesses their own thoughts, never sure which ideas are permissible to share, or develop. But their objectives are different. The Crown aims to cripple dissenting opinion, while Privateers will only be satiated when all our ideas already belong to them. This scheme does not protect our information, but seizes it, and denies us access. The user is at the center, but not at the helm.
My conviction is that future generations will look upon the digital age as far more disruptive than the industrial, or even the agricultural age. Information technology enables the individual to access the entire maelstrom of all human intellect, and is outflanking the control and censorship of the Crown and its Privateers. The future belongs to individuals who think freely, speak freely and act freely to create and share without restriction.
Tsar Date 45.291.298
Any experienced cutpurse takes the time to size up their mark. They watch the target, looking for any valuables and vulnerabilities. The Crown is just such a scallywag. Every scrap of intel, every registration and application, is a tool of plunder, and the Crown is eternally vigilant for signs of wealth to seize, and weaknesses to exploit.
Under this third party observation we are insidiously conditioned to be dishonest with ourselves and our companions. Therefore, a society under constant surveillance survives only under constant deception. But monitoring communication is only a means. The Crown's primary objective is the stifling of free thought itself. Its conquest is complete when its subjects are incapable of dissenting opinion. That's why seasoned pirates have always taken steps to deprive our adversary of any such reconnaissance.
Since ancient times, renegades of all inclinations have found methods of encrypting messages in various codes and ciphers. Encryption is like sending signals with lanterns across an unfriendly port under the eye the Crown's watchtower. Intercepted transmissions may be incomprehensible, but our pirate networks are revealed. Today the Crown possesses advanced tools of pattern recognition that make even unintelligible signals a valuable asset to document, profile and predict our every move, domesticating those it finds amenable, and culling those it deems undesirable.
We are tired of spooks and whistles. Tired of the poltergeist in the static. Today piracy requires communication that is not only indecipherable, but uninterceptable, hailing frequencies completely invisible to the Crown.
Honest communication is the seed of civilized conduct. It enables social entanglements without violence. It's essential to every need, every dispute, every trade and every project between members of sentient life. Without it only savagery is possible. To deprive us of this seed is to deprive us of its fruits. Deny humanity pirate communication and risk their conduct becoming uncivilized.
Any observer can see that communication without censorship or surveillance is essential to the enterprise of freedom. And any pirate knows that commerce is a form of communication. Markets condense oceans of information into a single data point, price. Buyers and sellers use prices to make countless decisions and speculations. When this ecosystem is free to operate, humanity flourishes, but humanity suffers when the Crown intervenes in the free exchange of property, services or speech.
Innovations in communication are erasing borders, circumventing restrictions, and contributing to a growing pool of open-source knowledge. The dauntless experimentation of this emergent decentralized ecosystem has made it possible for individuals to form peer-to-peer associations, across vast distances, outside the scrutiny of the Crown. This paradigm shift signals a change in the coin of the realm.
Any viable currency must be both liquid and solid. Liquid meaning it's ease of use, it's divisibility and transferability. Solid meaning the longevity of its value, it's preservability, and stability. Long ago markets chose gold. It's solid in that it's scarce, never corrodes, and possess valuable utility. And it's liquid in that it's divisible without depreciation, making it easy to standardize and exchange.
Today the Crown produces a fraudulent paper currency and mandates its use. It makes up for paper being less solid by making it more liquid. Constant inflation depreciates the value, while an ecosystem of privateers compete to extend the life of the lie. Credit cards and online payment systems transfer huge sums of digital wealth that was never even printed. But like any skullduggery, it's only successful until the marque wises up, and collapse becomes a mathematical certainty.
Now, the Crown uses digital currency as a new tool of predation, granting it unprecedented power to surveil, censor, seize and destroy our wealth at will. The Crown invades servers, seizes records, intercepts signals and freezes accounts. So, the currency of pirates must possess features to defend against this weaponized money.
In another age, we melted the Crown's coin, and minted our own. We met in private spaces and traded in secret. But in space, physical money requires tremendous fuel to transport. Digital signals are weightless, and can be easily sent to frontier settlements. In a digital economy piracy requires a new currency that is peer-to-peer, without third party observation, that can be exchanged using an encrypted signal. It must combine the solidity of precious materials, and the fluidity of digital information. We must move funds further, faster and cheaper than ever before, and make decisions based on an ever accelerating flow of information. So, pirates require virtually instantaneous transactions, with no arbitrary limits on volume, or artificial influences on fees.
Most importantly, a pirate currency must preclude centralization. It must endure as a decentralized network in the face of an adversary that wishes to crimp it into service. Otherwise it will become another link in our chain to the Crown. Given the choice, a superior currency with these features will result in the obsolescence of the coin of the realm, and the extinction of the Crown itself.
Humanity's long pursuit of freedom is full of desperate complaints against the Crown. Rulers and subjects alike have penned countless flowery documents claiming to limit the Crown's hostility with signed agreements. But today any observer can see that all these poetic social contracts have been impotent to prevent the Crown's predation, or worse, they have authorized it. Those they propped up as our liberators are now subsisting on our bondage. Limited government is a lie they cultivated to keep us submissive.
Stripped of its grandiose rhetoric, the essence of the Crown has always been rule by force. Every euphemism has only enshrined the violence inherent in the system, embodied not only by the enforcers, but in every courthouse, school and post office. Everywhere the Crown tells you, "Obey, or else." Well, I've had enough of centralized force.
I am no revolutionary. I have no desire to reform your system, or run it my way. If you want your servile life, keep it. But know that the Crown can never be trusted to abide by its founding charters, nor to keep its treaties, nor even to play by its own rules. Put simply, the Crown cannot be trusted. That's why I raised my black banner, why I'm opting out.
The folly of revolutions is that they only reset the cycle of violence. My aim is to break that cycle, and abandon the madness of expecting different results. My aim is an evolved society of individuals, invisible to the Crown. And, evolution requires viable mutation, not a new hierarchy, but new modes of horizontal innovation.
Liberation requires collaboration between free thinkers without infringement or censorship. In another age, we could meet in public spaces. Today, avoiding the Crown's surveillance requires we exchange encrypted communication.
Energy independence turns the gears of the visionary's imagination, and grants us individual control of our modern lives. No meaningful alternative to the Crown's system can be achieved without exploring decentralized energy production and storage to create heat, power and incredible new tools.
Flourishing in our new autonomy requires that we construct secure habitats in which to dwell. Cutting edge materials and methods provide unimaginable new options, allowing us greater mobility, and access to many previously uninhabitable environments.
The privateers of the Crown have turned our food and water into subtle poisons, making us vulnerable in mind and body. Therefore it is essential to cultivate our own heirloom nutrition and healthful water to repair and improve our bodies.
The Crown has conspired with the medical industry to ensnare us in a web of control and dependency.
To avoid their notions and potions it is essential to take responsibility for our own health, and pursue sound medical science.
The Crown has claimed regulatory control of every means of conveyance, stifling the free travel of individuals and their property. This is an intolerable act. Superior transportation technologies already exist, but are suppressed by regulations.
Humanity's labor has been greatly expanded by the use of machines. We must maintain decentralized automation for the future use of labor saving and humanity serving tools, or we will be victims of the Crown's automatons.
Living in the information age has not insulated us from misinformation. When the Crown controls education it controls the very lens through which we see the world. Above all, we must teach truth to our young, to let them see the world as it is.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of all the tools at our disposal. The truths of the natural world work just as well for us as for any others. The road ahead requires vast and decentralized efforts and experimentation by diverse and disconnected parties. The strength of a network is not in it's unity but in it's decentralization, leaving no one point of failure, no centralized figure, no critical junction for the Crown to target.
So, bow down to your finely-dressed abusers, if you wish. Let them pat your heads as they slip their hands in your pockets. We won't force you to live our way, but we will not submit to living your way. We are not your property. And, when you are ready to stop being their beast of burden, ready for adventure and opportunity, come join us on the high seas. We will not be hard to find.
Tsar Date 45.295.374
Throughout my life on land I was dismissed for not fitting into people's expectations of women. I raised my black banner when I realized my advancement was unhindered by prejudice aboard a pirate ship. I quickly learned that the injustices I'd resisted my whole life were not issues of gender, race, or creed, but of dominance.
Landlubbers are infatuated with hierarchy. They let status and class shortcut critical thinking, and view the world through categories and collectives. The purest manifestation of this hierarchy is war.
The Crown recruits and produces unscrupulous sociopaths to wield its coercive power. It neither respects nor recognizes the individual, which means collective torture and murder are inevitable.
The Crown presents itself as our salvation, but only slays dragons of its own creation. If you don't fit into the Crown's agenda you already realize this, but you can also glean it from simple observation. Chaos and catastrophe surround everything the Crown touches.
The Crown is both the perpetrator, and beneficiary of endless conflict, so it's locked in a cycle of brutality and blowback. The first lie of war is that the opposing states are morally different from one another. In reality, all who wear the Crown share more in common with each other than with those they rule. War is justified as defense, but this is just a euphemism for conquest.
The Crown uses terror and slaughter to extort wealth and obedience from both sides. Then it uses our resentment, frustration and rage to turn us against each other. In reality, the Crown owes more to the peaceful people of this world than they owe to it. So, I'll pay no deference to the Crown or it's whip.
Once I took back my autonomy, my objective became to inspire others to abandon their reverence for their shackles. The struggle to free ourselves from the yoke of the Crown cannot be achieved by force. It's time to abandon the collectivist thinking that empowers our adversary, and acknowledge the individual as something real and vital to peace. Time to refuse to contribute to wars of aggression. Time to deprive the Crown of any credibility, and acknowledge that the mass graves are large enough to prove the Crown is unfit to exist.
Tsar Date 45.461.584
I used to be deeply conflicted about violence. On land I was surrounded by people who claimed that being prepared to defend myself with violence was actually participating in a broader culture of aggression. They called it hypocrisy, but in reality a lifetime of propaganda left them unable to see the difference between violence used to oppress, and violence necessary to stop an oppressor.
These landlubbers clamoured to be disarmed themselves, eager to surrender personal responsibility and let the Crown protect them. Maybe it's because of the violence I'd experienced in my own life, but it seemed to me that any attempt to deprive a woman of a tool that balanced her disadvantage against a male attacker twice her size was immoral.
Landlubbers are afraid to carouse with pirates, but tacitly accept the Crown's violence all around them. They have no objection to military occupations, or police patrols, or public executions, or any other ornaments of the Crown's order. Pirate skirmishes are but a drop in the ocean compared to the Crown's wholesale slaughter, but Landlubbers, I discovered, were not concerned with logic. They were the true hypocrites.
Among pirates, I met powerfully persuasive individuals endowed with an ardent spirit of individualistic liberty. They were possessed by a profound moral sensitivity and missionary zeal, but also by a righteous indignation toward the Crown's repression. Inside every pirate soul burns the will to revolt. Individuals may seek release, or even delight, in revenge, but misdirected aggression can only propagate more violence. The temptation of vengeance can not satisfy the hunger for justice.
Pirates understand that even if they bent their knee, abandoned their passions and lived a servile life they would not be safe from the Crown's aggression. We can't allow the most powerful threat to our safety to dictate how we protect ourselves. That realization had a profound impact on me. I learned that self-defence was not just a state of physical preparedness. It was a boldness and independence of mind.
Learning to handle a firearm increased my confidence and vigilance. Martial arts training made my body into a weapon the Crown could not confiscate. My safety was no longer contingent on the size of an attacker, which was out of my control, but on my application of proper technique. I soon gained the competence to confront abusive behaviors before they escalated into violence, and I was no longer perceived as a potential target of harassment or exploitation.
Never depend upon the mercy of the Crown. It has none. So long as the Crown exists it will accept only obedience or blood. In the grand scheme the best defense is evading direct confrontation with the Crown. Even if some intolerable acts warrant a lethal response, learning to take a life helped me realize that I never wanted to. But make no mistake. In the heat of a crisis any means of survival is valid.
Self defense is the ultimate test of a moral philosophy. It's simple really. You own your body, so you possess the right to defend it. But the Crown persists in the absurdity that letting you defend yourself is part of the problem, and never part of the solution. The Crown continues in this deception because it cannot tolerate any challenge to its physical dominance.
I have allowed these lessons to blossom into principled and prudent acts of revolt, until the day when the Crown itself is brought to justice.
Tsar Date: 45.609.766
The Crown portrays pirates as vengeful captains and thieving crews, and pledges to bring us to justice. Every pirate recognizes this as propaganda, borne of the fear that if the customs of pirates were known, landlubbers may view our decentralized systems as viable alternatives to the Crown's morally bankrupt hegemony. Pirates largely ignore the Crown's backward justice system, except perhaps to nullify it by noncompliance, preferring always the social software of their own design. So, on every ship the questions emerge, what is allowed? What is forbidden? And what are the consequences?
Pirate society lays its foundation on contracts, and customs, not on statutes. A contract is valid when it is voluntarily entered and does not violate the rights a third party. Whether by oath or by written agreement, it is incumbent on every pirate to live by their word. Written agreements both reduce disputes and help resolve them after they occur.
In the absence of a contract, conflicts are resolved by observing familiar protocols that have emerged spontaneously from the behavior of many pirates over time. The Crown would have you believe that pirate captains rule their crew like a warlord, but this is simply not the case. Pirate society is a loosely organized decentralized network where justice is the ruling principle. Individuals have no obligation that's not contractual. Antisocial behavior only results in ostracism, and individuals are free to leave their crew at any time, and join another or launch their own ship. But even among the most honorable pirates, disputes arise.
Lady Justice is typically depicted as carrying the sword and the scales. Punitive justice, symbolized by the sword, is an approach where statutory law is enforced through punishment. Alternatively, restorative justice, symbolized by the scales, focuses on making the victim whole again, and incentivising offenders to take responsibility for their actions.
Among pirates all justice is restorative, not punitive. So if there is no victim, there is no crime. Custom requires only that victims be compensated for violations of their life, liberty, and property. When two pirates can't settle a dispute amicably, the custom is to approach a third party to investigate the conflict and offer a resolution. Such a mediator is only tasked with balancing the scales between the individuals, not with rectifying some imaginary debt to society.
Obviously dispute resolution systems develop differently on every ship, often without the involvement of the captain. They can vary in complexity from the informal reputation of potential arbiters, to fully decentralized autonomous organizations with communal funds and smart contracts. The most important feature of these systems is that judges only hold their position by the consent of the disputing parties. In fact, no one is prohibited from arbitrating a dispute, and multiple members of a crew may compete to fulfill this role. Pirates widely discuss and negotiate about the disputes that most affect them. If a mediator loses the confidence of the crew they will likely never be asked to settle future conflicts. That way judges are constantly subject to open competition.
The consensual structures of pirate justice are far superior to the bias of the Crown's court. Because social change precedes political change, and forcing the Crown to adapt to social change is an arduous process requiring mass movements, civil disobedience, and even civil war. Customs, on the other hand are described and shared as they coevolve with social change. Pirate arbiters discern their verdicts by observing the normative behavior of a living crew. Customs are amended only by voluntary adoption, not by the edict of the Crown. Without access to a just process for individuals, there can never be a just society.
Tsar Date: 45:941:955
Pirates are confronted with all the same villainy as those on land. Theft and fraud. Even murder and sexual assault. Most landlubbers can’t fathom how we supposed “scoundrels” manage to avoid protracted chaos in our floating society. But, pirates know that the secret to thriving outside the Crown’s domain lies in embracing the Crown’s greatest fear… gossip.
The Crown delights in putting down an occasional dawn revolt, and then casually executes a dozen political prisoners before breakfast. But gossip, rumor, derision… these are what the Crown fears from the black. Even the casual skuttlebut can induce paranoia when power is tenuous. Gossip has the power to erode legitimacy, which in turn decentralizes influence. Gossip has the power to topple empires.
Among pirates your credibility is everything. Cultivating renown can expand your opportunities, shield you from false claims, and even earn you a ship and loyal crew. But infamy can get you ostracized, blacklisted and thrown in the bilge. However, libelous allegations from the Crown are practically a resume at sea.
Your reputation is an intangible asset that doesn’t belong to you. It’s the impression of you in other people’s minds. It’s what people say about you behind your back. You can’t control it, but you can influence it.
At the center is your identity. Your character. Your sentiments, ambitions and vulnerabilities. This core is yours alone, but it is invisible to others. Around that core will begin to crystallize your competence. The sum of your life experiences. All your successes and failures. These amount to an expertise. A gift you have to offer the world. But if you don’t show your competence, if you don’t show your character, no one will ever know your value. This is where many pirates go wrong. Competence requires presentation if you hope to stand out on a crew full of equals. Your presentation is all the outside world sees, and all they have to form their opinion.
On top of your character, your competence and your presentation, is your reputation. It’s the constellation of equilibria reached in much the same way as a market discovers price. Competing claims and signals. Whispers and circumstances. Reputation is built on complex and dynamic layers. Beginning with every individual’s method of earning and granting respect, and progressing to informal customs that develop in every community.
Generally speaking, reputation has two prominent features. The first is trust. Who do you trust and why? Trust relationships form a liquid social fabric, where one’s good standing rises and falls according to public opinion. With trust, cooperation and harmony are possible. Without it, we are derelict.
The second is behavior, which includes all the complexity of every individual. Our opinions of people are far more than a measurement of trust, but are instead comprised of a richly textured web of nuanced behavioral expectations. And these subjective attitudes about us will fluctuate constantly. Some semblance of these methods inevitably emerge as individuals bootstrap their way up any crew. We simply can’t help but share our stories and observe patterns in our repeated interactions. And so long as there’s no interference with such pirate communications, a simple whisper campaign can have incredible power to correct antisocial behavior. A time-bandit known for distracting a working crew is free to do that, but they may soon find no one aboard who wants to engage with them. Taken further they may find no crew willing to sail with them, and they’ll have no options but to launch their own ship (offering wages that reflect their unpopularity), or return to land.
Pirate communication is only half the solution. It allows information to travel freely but it doesn't distinguish truth from falsehood. We concede that spreading falsehoods is a gross immorality, but we can’t curtail speech as the Crown does. A pirate has the freedom to say, print and disseminate whatever they wish. Honest pirates must verify rumors, so the credibility of liars is itself subject to the forces of our social software. As a result, pirates are far more skeptical than the servile landlubber who believes whatever the Crown tells them to believe.
Informal reputation systems were sufficient when pirates interacted face-to-face. Only those who accomplished great feats earned renown beyond their own crew. But today, technology allows us to interact peer-to-peer, spanning the seven seas and beyond. Such infrastructure can streamline reputation systems with laser focus, but such a database may be used as evidence of “criminal conspiracy” in the hands of the Crown.
It’s crucial that competing services in this field include some immutable features that allow us to accumulate meaningful social capital with resilient networks that enable fellowship. Such a program must be designed for interstellar communication in a galactic parley. It must be resistant to artificial status inflation, and possess virtually no obstacles to entry. Such a tool must be a peer-to-peer protocol that relays data outside the traditional communication infrastructure. It must run without centralization and engage many niche platforms, and aggregate relevant data according to every user’s preferences. It must be grassroots, transparent, and subject to reputation itself. This limits the ability of hostile parties to spread lies without risking their own reputation as a truth-teller. But, all the most sophisticated features are irrelevant, if the reputation market isn’t accurate.
Pirates must find a way to enjoy enough anonymity to protect them from the Crown, while also maintaining a consistent identity to ensure their reputation is their own. Anonymous markets are already able to collect pseudonymous reputation data on all users. Aboard many ships the manifest is available to the entire crew, and often other vessels, to ensure that individuals have a consistent identity that is horizontally visible to other pirates, while remaining invisible to the Crown.
Tsar Date 45.723.501
On land I healed many landlubbers, but I could have healed countless more if they were just willing to break the law to preserve themselves. The Crown required that I obey the decisions of leeching Privateers who didn’t share my oath to do no harm. I was forbidden from recommending, or even discussing the course of treatment my patients and I both knew they needed. The Crown’s mandates and prohibitions were designed to protect Privateers, not patients, and they produced a society increasingly addicted, impoverished, diseased and suicidal.
The Crown and the Privateers conspire to artificially increase medical expenses that bankrupt. The Crown claims to protect the landlubber from the Privateer’s greed, while actually seducing them into begging the Crown to grant relief. This herds them further into the Crown’s cage of dependency and control, while Privateers monopolize the management of chronic illness. This Royal Alliance constructs an ever expanding administrative and regulatory hegemony, to protect their boondoggles and bureaucracies. They sabotage the development of new treatments, enforce patent monopolies, discredit sound scientific research, deny access to alternative remedies and mandate damaging and unwanted treatments, while callously ignoring the victims left dying on waiting lists... Casualties of The Crown’s notions and potions.
After repeated injury I realized my conscientious objections and medical ambitions required not only seeing this cage, but leaving it. That’s why I raised my black banner.
Medicine is far too important to entrust to a Royal Alliance. So much more is possible when you explore beyond its influence. Everyone owns their own body, but the Crown denies this. Even the right to end your life is restricted by the Crown, because it considers you it’s property. Among pirates the Crown’s tantrums are irrelevant. Aboard a pirate ship you own your own body, without qualification. When a medical practice is built upon that immutable fact, the Crown’s meddling becomes impotent. Prices decrease, quality increases, and physicians become as accessible as barbers. Pirates recognize the right of individuals to determine all aspects of their medical care, whether that’s experimental treatments, prohibited plants, controversial procedures, bootleg pharmaceuticals, cybernetic prosthetics, or even the right to die. We are free and healthy no matter what rules surround us because we alone take responsibility for our wellbeing, reclaiming our bodies and our lives.
Open Ocean Medicine facilitates the ability of healers and customers to build a relationship of mutual respect and consent. Collaboration to explore treatment options help the patient determine health and lifestyle goals they consider important. Any system of command and control that disempowers the individual is rejected.
Medical technologies are accelerating to the point that we can increase human performance beyond regular health. Artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, cloning, robotics, and brain-computer integration could take the human condition beyond our imagination. In time, medical augmentation could eliminate aging, enhance intelligence, provide super strength, overcome paralysis and erase our fundamental human limitations. With the Crown in our wake, and the individual at the helm, we’ll be free to pursue an unfettered life.
Tsar Date 45.935.1538
I was only nine when your privateers came for me. Your goons boot stomped our door and ripped us from our parent’s arms. You told us our parents were “dangerous criminals” and said you had our best interests at heart. That your privateers would protect us and take us someplace safe. Now I know that you are a liar.
You took my little sister, Prudence away from me. I was all she had left. We were split-up and I was spirited away to a strange land, and given to strangers. Given to privateers you paid to guard the kids you crimped for your Royal Alliance. You offered them more money if they branded me with some disability or mental disorder. So, within a month I’d been stuck with more shots, and force fed more pills then I can count. I was being erased by your notions and potions. These psychos you propped up as my protectors enriched themselves while taking pleasure in my abuse. I knew if I didn’t escape there would be nothing left of me.
Mom and Dad never hurt us. All they wanted was a better life than you allowed. They were teachers in your system, and saw first hand how it destroys young minds with monotony and manipulation. Mom and Dad just wanted us to have a real education. To teach us the truth, and let us see the world as it is. They knew your system was designed to foster conformity and dependence, but they were also landlubbers determined to change your system from within. The moment they showed even a mustard seed of progress, you labeled them dissidents and enemies of the Crown. Their only fatal error was taking half measures.
I wasn’t going to repeat their mistake. I ran away as far as land could take me. You declared me a fugitive, but what was my crime? Being a child? I searched for Prudence, but no one would help me because landlubbers are punished for helping kids without asking for your permission. So, every question I asked, every fragmented record, every leaf of paper from your system was an invisible hook dragging me back to the leeching privateers. People say it takes a village when they really mean it takes a Crown.
I will never ask for your mercy. You have none. Prudence was lost, and I was alone in your sick society. And sick societies produce sick people. I had very few options, but no matter how desperate feral life got, I knew anything was better than being treated like a domesticated animal.
In those days I was so sunk in your chemical fog that I thought that I would rather die than grow up. I wanted to burn down the whole adult world just because you were in it. But now my mind is purged of your alchemy, and you don’t get to tell me what to do! I am free because I say so!
At the edge of your jurisdiction, in a secluded coastal lagoon, I met a band of kids who were born under the black banner. They weren’t like landlubber kids. They were thoughtful and worldly. They knew who they were, and what they wanted to be. They weren’t just kids, they were carpenters, and musicians, and engineers. We spent the day collecting sand dollars and racing hermit crabs. As the setting sun turned the sky red they got ready to shove off. Before they got underway, they took me aboard to meet Captain Swan, and once she saw that I comprehended the decision, she offered me the right of passage aboard her merchant ship.
At sea I saw how much was possible beyond your grasp, and I eagerly adapted to this wayward life. We sailed through lightning storms over primordial seas, and saw the cherry blossoms sprinkling on the floating markets of Thailand. I met pirates possessed of a powerful moral outrage toward everything you represent, but who didn’t let it hinder their passion for life. I met child prodigies that had never tasted your predation. But most importantly I found that pirates honored my autonomy and property regardless of age. On land I was expected to serve the desires of your Royal Alliance, but at sea I was finally at the helm of my own life.
I became a pirate’s apprentice. I served as a deckhand while I learned the sweet trade from the crew. My back got strong, my mind got sharp, and in time I even acquired a modest booty of my own. I learned peaceful and voluntary means of dispute resolution. I learned to defend myself from a larger attacker. But I also learned that the abuse I suffered by your hand was not unique. The uncomfortable truth is that your entire calloused and draconian system runs on violence. Well, when you treat an entire generation this way our minds begin to dwell on revenge.
You and your privateers claim to be the protectors and advocates of children, but only when it serves your lust for power and pleasure. When you see fit, we are thrown into prison-like indoctrination centers where we are open targets, deprived of any self-defense. Then, when it’s expedient, you crimp young soldiers to fight your wars. You arm and disarm us as you wish, and until now we’ve been too naive to stop you.
The simple message of the Letters of Marque was hard to deny. A pirate decides their own course. Anything less is anti-valid. Don’t hit people or take their stuff. We stand up for ourselves, and band together in defense. No one on a pirate ship is more equal than others, not even captains. But I wasn’t certain the pirate’s life was for me until I read the Letters of Reprisal: “The temptation of vengeance can not satisfy the hunger for justice.” She explained how you use our resentment and outrage to turn us against each other, so I decided I had to temper myself. That’s when the fire inside me was extinguished at sea, when I set my heading on justice for my sister, instead of revenge against you.
I was accepted as a valued member of the crew, but I didn’t enter the limelight until I told them about Prudence. As word spread across the pirate network of my ambition to liberate my sister by any means, many children of the black flag rallied to my side. To my surprise, no adult on any crew denied them the right to pledge themselves to my cause.
My advancement was never hindered by age among pirates. Captain Swan explained that her intention was to remain invisible to the Crown, but she had no authority or desire to stop us from leaving her crew, or even launching our own ship. Our objective was ours to claim, and our lives were ours to risk. Once our numbers were strong, and our coffers were full, we scraped together a meager fortune to purchase a modest vessel: The Emancipation.
With passion in our hearts, and freedom in our sails we raced toward land to shake the shackles of the children. You think you can exploit them because they’re too young to know better, but what happens when we expose your intolerable acts? What happens when we free their minds and show them you are unfit to exist? You cutpurse! You scoundrel! You scallywag! If you will only accept obedience or blood, I choose… disobedience. If you only slay dragons of your own creation, I am that dragon! We are coming to obstruct your injustices. Coming for your hierarchy and status. We are justice, and we are coming to free Prudence from your maw.
In all ages, the prevailing Crown slanders any who refuse to swear allegiance, or grovel for licenses. It commissions swarms of officers and privateers to usurp our time, travel, and treasure. The Crown calls it "piracy" to explore frontiers beyond it's influence. No Crown can be trusted to respect the individual's natural autonomy, so the responsibility falls upon us to define the conduct among pirates.
First, a pirate is the sole authority over their own life, and may not be crimped into service.
Second, duties are created by consent. Claims of obligation without consent are invalid.
Third, no pirate, nor crew, however commissioned, may initiate hostilities against any other.
Fourth, a pirate may, without permission or rank, defend themselves against any hostile party.
Fifth, no captain, nor crew can possess rights exceeding or violating those of an individual pirate.
So, if you agree that the tyranny of the Crown has sailed on sea and land long enough, and wish to shake the shackles of the world, then boldly declare, #APiratesLifeForMe!