Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re- routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.

From The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, 1992 – Timothy C. May

The Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto predicted the rise of underground crypto-commerce markets like Silkroad, 19 years before it launched. These markets saw enormous success, building catalogs of tens of thousands of products, and brought in an average of 15M transactions a year. Just like with digital piracy, once people got a taste of freedom they could not go back to living under laws & regulations, their hunger always lead them back.

But why did we stop there?

Crypto-Anarchy should not only be reserved for things that are strictly taboo like drugs and weapons.

The rest of the world needs a counter-economy too! Albeit one more wholesome and peaceful than our darknet brothers. And we need it now more than ever.

Our Society Under Siege

The American ideals that the new world was founded on: liberty, equality, natural and civil rights have been swept away from us by this ‘new normal’. No longer are we allowed to travel freely, interact with friends and family (much less strangers), or go outside at night. We are being conditioned to stay in our homes until we die.

Although the official institutions insist that these new changes are made with our health in mind, the resulting impact cuts everyone deep, especially the common people.

We all have enterpreneurial friends and neighbors that are at risk of losing their livelihoods. If we look at economic studies for the United States, we see a whopping half of all businesses have lost significant sales. After mass layoffs and closures in the first few weeks of the lockdowns, your average business only had 2 weeks of expenses on hand. We are getting to the point where these businesses will surely go under, with 17% of businesses unable to pay rent, (magnified up to 80% in places like New York City).

Still, this is not a problem for small business owners alone – the economic situation is dire for all. We have reached unemployment rates reaching the first recorded years, just after the Great Depression, and these are still likely underestimated as they do not account for people who have given up looking for a job. 

Now almost a full year into the lockdowns, people are reaching the end of their ropes, with 60% of Americans now completely out of savings and are turning to debt to keep themselves afloat. With 62% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, its not a stretch to say we all might become homeless soon.

And even if you are still working, or making money – you aren’t in a greener pasture. The societal effects will be unescapable. Mass poverty, crime, and famine are all in store.

The situation has never been more severe, and yet the only things we are told to do is to  ‘stay at home’, ‘wear a mask’, and ‘avoid others’.

Are there any actions we can take to escape these siege that we have seemingly put ourselves into?

Agorism & Entrepreneurship

In a free market, one entrepreneur can change the world.

We live in a world where every action is regulated, taxed, prohibited, or subsidized. These laws seem to apply to everyone equally, except in the cases of highly centralized power & wealth. When large corporations break the law, they are able to utilize our legal framework to make things easier on themselves. Look at the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, which killed 11 people and released 4.9M barrells of crude oil. They were fined 4B, which is a drop in the bucket of yearly revenues of 278.4B. 

When small businesses break the law, they go under. These laws that we abide to are not the highest examples of right or wrong, or good and evil. They have been corrupted by centralized power and have been bent and broken to serve the rich.

Why do we listen to these laws? For most people, its the fear of being sent to jail.

If we wanted to operate our businesses outside of the law, every man and woman could make a living for themselves. Although there is a larger framework that tries to swallow the products of our labor, we can take back control.

If we wanted to sell a orange tree to our friend, and they paid in cash – and no one knew. Who would report you to the law?

This is called the grey market, or counter-economy, or agorism, and although grey should signify something dark or evil, I think you and I can agree that there’s nothing evil about frienship & those sweet, sweet oranges.

But how can we as individuals keep our privacy while attempting to create these grey market businesses for ourselves. We have to avoid giving our identity away, we have to communicate privately, and we have to establish a separate form of currency.

How do we manage this communication? And is there a place we can do all of these things?

Its Our Little Secret

Crypto-Anarchy provides us with a framework to become Agorists without needing external protection.

We can communicate privately, avoid sharing real identities, and have a separate form of currency (crpto-currency).

The basis of Crypto-Anarchy comes from Cryptography.

Crytography is free, it is powerful, and it is unique to you.

Public-key cryptography allows us to communicate with anyone on earth, publishing our messages on the internet for everyone to see, while still having a private conversation.

How is this accomplished?

It uses two algorithms (a simple procedure that operates on some data) that are opposites of each other. One scrambles data, and the other un-scrambles it.

You can share the algorithm (encryption key) with anyone – then they can scramble messages to using the key, that only you can unscramble.

This is immensely powerful.

You could use this to send secret messages.

You could use this to verify someone’s identity by asking them what the message you sent them said.

You could use this to verify yourself to another person by encrypting your message with your own public algorithm, and then encrypting it with another person’s private algorithm.

Although this is only one of the components needed to establish a Crypto-Anarchist platform, it is one we will have first-class support for on aboveground.market

Welcome aboveground

Everything we’ve discussed has lead to a need for a greater agora. We must take responsibilities for our futures and operate outside of established rules. We must treat each other with respect and interact fairly. We should open ourselves to the spirit of collaboration and free trade.

Why? Because we are inherently free to trade with whomever we please.

aboveground.market is one answer of many to the problems we’ve covered.

We’re building this project because we’re tired of seeing big companies come in and monopolize trade, using their power & influence to avoid regulation while the smaller businesses suffer.

We’re tired of paying sales taxes to societal systems that seem solely focused on stripping our
individual liberties and embezzling our collective resources.

We’re tired of technology companies tracking our every movement (physically and digitally), building
our buyer profiles, and taking every opportunity to try and convince us to purchase things we don’t
need.

aboveground.market will be the first market of its kind to disallow personal identification. We will allow for many forms of exchange, the most modern and well-adopted cryptocurrencies. And we will support completely private communication from PGP encryption.

These features were a mainstay on famous underground markets like Silkroad and others – but now there’s a greater need for the rest of us. We need to go aboveground.

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