Spring 2020 Updates

It has been a hideously long time since the last update regarding CCL. This was for various reasons that cannot all be explained here. But here is a series of updates and reflections.

On Rojava

We all continue to grieve over the loss of hundreds of lives, and 300,000 who lost their homes in Rojava this October 2019 because of careless cronyism between Trump and Erdogan. Rojava is perhaps the most successful stateless society project the world has seen. While it isn’t as futuristic as blockchain nations or shiny as Estonia’s governance system, thousands have literally sacrificed their lives to create a peaceful society in the most violent region on earth. (If you have not read Ocalan’s Democratic Confederalismit is worth reading.) It isn’t perfect, and there is huge variety in the anarchism community (from libertarians to socialists to Marxists to feminists), but it should be an inspiration for everyone who desires a better world – a world without the centralized power of the state.

On the Private Governance Space: A Plea for Realism

The private governance space is evolving extremely fast in terms of both theory of platforms. But it is evolving extremely slow in terms of implementation. The same is true, you might notice, for cryptocurrency.

Let’s face the music: Bitcoin was released in 2007. It’s 2020 and no one I know uses bitcoin – or any cryptocurrency – for day to day transactions. (Yes I realize some people do use it for just that elsewhere. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.) The technology is promising and opens many doors. But a revolution in both economics, finance, and governance systems will take more than a public release, hype, and even legality (as we’re quickly learning). 13 years after the Satoshi paper, the Federal Reserve is back to 0% interest, unfazed and with as much power as ever. Nationalism and trust in the state in America, UK, and elsewhere is surging and not subsiding.

How much more this is true for innovative legal systems and stateless social organization: it’s going to take more. More time, more people, more energy – and the rewards cannot simply be viewed as short-term gain. If we can expect as many stateless society projects to be as corrupt and greed-ridden as crypto, then 90% of them will fail and be “uninvestable.” (Do we need to be reminded that EOS’s constitution failed as fast as it was implemented? Of the endless scams and fraud, grab-and-runs, fake Satoshis, internal lawsuits, etc.?) CCL has nothing to do with short-term profits, and everything to do with long-term peace, prosperity, and liberty. That’s why it exists.

A contrast in implementation and vision is vividly captured between Chad Elwartowski and Tom Bell. This story is interesting because it takes place within the same project: sea-steading. Chad flew by the seat of pants and built a seastead off the shore of Thailand. He had freedom for a while. But, it wasn’t a good plan, and the government put a bounty on his head. Bell, on the other hand, is a law professor who facilitates special economic zones and jurisdictions around the world with a monograph out by Cambridge University Press on the subject. The SeaSteading Institute turned their focus from Chad to Bell (for obvious reasons).

But it makes me a little nervous, because while Bell is uniquely qualified for developing special jurisdictions and is specialized in creating special economic zones (SEZs) with approval of nation-states, this is much different than creating an actual alternative to the state. The entire vision of the SeaSteading project was autonomy for all, not special favor bestowed by the local crown. I don’t want to be too judgmental. But something that the Seasteaders need to come to grips with is the same as any group with power and capital: what’s in it for the common person? Is it for everyone, or is it just for the ultra-wealthy? As far as I can tell, SeaSteading as it is currently shaping up appears to be an innovative extension of the private Yacht industry. I hope I’m wrong. But, it continue to amazes me how crypto and private governance projects driven entirely by personal gain and not any sense of public good consistently terminate into powerplays,  efforts to monopolize, and fail – that is, they consistently invoke the spirit of the state once again. We often forget that decentralized power means at some point, some people will have to voluntarily give up power.

Anyway, this website contrasts Ulex – a consolidation of extant legal systems generally used for SEZs (as summarized in Bell) – in many ways to draw some of these distinctions for how CCL (amidst others) is different. I won’t copy and paste that material here; just browse around the site and see for yourself.

In the meantime, be sure to check out Algorithmic Governance: Politics and Law in the Post-Human Era if you’re interested in any of these subject. The book has been added to some of our recommended reading.


Current development on CCL has slowed largely because we’re looking at how to publish a book form of v 1.0 and what content to include. It seems that a significant amount of background material and history would be helpful to historically situate the many real possibilities of bigger and better private governance. However, that means extra time for research, writing, etc.

In the meantime, version .97 will soon be released with lots of little changes. We continue to welcome public input through comments, with hopefully more periodic responses in the future.

The project also has not received many voluntary contributions to make everything come together, which is partly expected for something so new and unique, and also for a time where everyone has already put away their cash into crypto or other investments for longer returns. (Everyone is over-leveraged right now!) Nevertheless, this kind of work works better with funds. If you feel led to donate, it would certainly help development; we aren’t promising a 100x return on…anything; we only promise that donations won’t be wasted and are directed directly into the Project’s biggest needs.

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