Original text published on DarkFi
It’s 2013. The director of the FBI gives a speech titled «The Going Dark Problem». Solemnly he warns of an emerging crisis within law enforcement. Since the Snowden disclosures, increasing public awareness of surveillance has encouraged the wide ranging use of encryption technologies – what he calls the tech tool of choice for criminals.
Unfortunately, the law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public safety problem. We call it «Going Dark»
James Comey, FBI director
The speech highlighted a risk emerging online: mass popularization of encryption threatens to create a permanent online zone that is impenetrable to law enforcement. We maintain these dark zones remove the barriers for a truly democratic society to realize itself. Recent developments in DAOs and DeFi represent an exciting step towards this future.
Additional breakthroughs in cryptography such as zero-knowledge proofs are awakening a new era of challenge and upheaval. This document gives an overview of these advances and introduces our project: DarkFi.
DarkFi is not a corporate startup. It’s a democratic economic experiment, an operating system for society.
Societycide & the Megamachine
The situation has escalated since Comey first documented the «Going Dark Problem» in 2013. The logic of state expansion together with infinite money printing and industrialism have submerged society into a constant state of war. Power and the state apparatus control, oppress and surveil society while big tech wraps us in a digital prison.
This state of war has been called a «societycide». Society is increasingly deprived of its moral and political nature. People have been transformed into the fascist’s herd-like masses.
Internet technology is centred around extracting profit from users for low value work (clicking ads). This leads to huge data harvesting operations and the construction of a surveillance mega-machine. This encourages docility and consumption rather than active individuated usership. It is an architecture of oppression structured on user control.
Newer and better artificial intelligences are constantly being honed to wage war on the resistance and force the remaining people into giant megacities. With the arrival of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) and universal basic income (UBI), centralized power is rapidly seeking to close off all competing economic arenas. The corporate state seeks to monopolize economic life. China’s social credit scoring has been an instructive experiment that Western states seek to emulate.
What remains in this impoverished world is a new sinister form of fascism and a dead society that has lost its moral and political fabric. Such a dead society is unable to self-organize or act with initiative. The mega-machine constantly searches for innovative methods to extract oil from the ground, fish from the oceans and lifeblood from society, even as these resources are depleted to crisis levels.
For 20 years we worked on free software. It was a movement with incredible vitality and creativity, exploring ideas long before proprietary industry would dare touch them. But being a fulltime free software developer was a tough situation. We created tremendous value but were mostly without resources. We did not have a way to capture back some of the value we were creating. Being unable to capture value meant our expansion was limited and continually resource constrained. So these brilliant concepts that were pioneered could never be realized and society lost the full benefits of a free technology that could have been.
The free software movement possessed world class developers with a community of strong believers. But the movement simply lacked resources due to there being no economic model.
Through the power of tokenization, we now have an alternative. Programmable money enables a rich set of techniques to develop economic networks.
Token engineering and DAOs are shattering the basic structure of the old world. The old world is corporate, hierarchical, and rigid. This new world is rich, intense and creative.
In the classical corporate model, you have a consumer-producer dichotomy. This distinction does not exist in crypto. The focus is on community and squad wealth. Rather than a company exploiting users for profit and protecting their property, the owners and producers are the community themselves.
The value of a project is directly proportional to its community. Tokens capture the value generated by a community and circle that value back to the community itself. The ability of projects to foster participation, enthusiasm and engagement is therefore crucial. Communities foster autonomy through discourse, negotiation and narrative. This in turn leads to democratic transformations of the individual, fashioning them for the values of self-governance and self-development.
Nowhere is this social evolution more apparent than in DAOs. DAOs are a new governance primitive that enable latent democratic forces to assemble and organize themselves before power and capital forces can narrow them ideologically. This enables the exploration of unrealized liberation zones. The users are stakeholders that can participate directly in governance decisions. They can decide on development targets, features, salaries, capital allocation and investments.
The ideal of politics is to multiply public spaces. Crypto is therefore deeply political. Politics concerns taking decisions regarding the collective interests of society such as well-being, security and freedom. In this sense politics and direct democracy are synonymous.
The old model of technology is anti-political because it removes ownership from people and places it into the hands of monopoly. The old model encourages passivity and indifference by design, reducing people to consumers. This is essentially the orientation of modern technology. Its arc extends back 5000 years to the origin of civilization itself.
The Wikipedia entry for civilization reads:
Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over the rest of nature, including over other human beings.
History has swung back and forth in the struggle between democratic society and the state civilization system. At times this has broken out into open conflict, while in other times has led to an uneasy peace. Conflict between civilizational forms has accelerated in the modern era. Society is under siege by automated weaponry, surveillance apparatus and psychological operations which seek to undermine the moral and political freedom of people.
Autonomous Political Formations
Totalitarianism cannot be defeated through compliance. Compliance only emboldens regimes of power. Totalitarian terror is let loose when opposition has died down and the rulers are no longer afraid. Compliance feeds totalitarians and never leads to normality. Resistance is essential to counter the rise of totalitarian rule.
Parallel societies offer pockets of freedom that nurture ideologies of resistance and form the basis of a new society. They can be societies oriented around technology, economy, education or culture.
With DAOs and DeFi we can bring to life the democratic nation where multiple cultures, ethnicities and political formations coexist with a confederalist structure.
DAOs + DeFi = Autonomous Political Formations
With APFs multiple parallel nations can exist online free from external coercion. These nations are owned by their community. Decisions flow from the bottom.
There is a story of money that goes like this: it’s the dawn of history. People are trading their surplus goods. You have an apple. She has an orange. Trade necessitates a medium of exchange. Money emerges.
We’ve all heard this story. Except that it’s a myth. This never occurred in history.
In Ancient Mesopotamia there were sophisticated banking networks long before money existed. These networks offered all the modern operations associated with a bank, such as loan operations, deposits, forex, and debt settlement. Babylon, the cradle of human civilization, was home to the flourishing banking centre of the region and an active futures market. Money emerged out of this system of credit networks. Deposit slips and futures contracts were traded in the form of clay tokens that could be broken. It was only much later with the emergence of the Persian empire that the gold and silver bimetallic money was standardized.
The lesson history teaches us is this: economic networks are primary. It is the transfer of value within networks that gives money its meaning, not money itself. Money inherits different properties from the financial networks they exist within.
In 2010, the concept of universal sound money was central to Bitcoin’s emergence. As crypto has grown, we have seen the emergence of other asset classes. First, we saw the rise of blockchains with their own unique features such as Monero. Ethereum was the first to generalize this architecture, which was followed by the growth of ERC20 and the initial ICO boom. But the nature of crypto has changed fundamentally. DeFi has ushered in a new, ecosystem-based thinking that sees not just a single coin in isolation but examines networks in a holistic way.
Previously we use to think about crypto-coins and their blockchain. This is Bitcoin, this is Monero, this is Ethereum. The way people reasoned about crypto was as self-sovereign atomic entities. But DeFi is enabling a new kind of reasoning. We think in terms of ecosystems and endpoints, networks and liquidity flows.
With DeFi we are seeing the sophistication of crypto and the emergence of a parallel financial system. Blockchain-specific coins are being de-emphasized in favour of instruments and networks. Financial engineering allows these networks to interact, to lower volatility and transfer assets seamlessly. This is the emergence of a proto-banking layer for crypto. With it, crypto has gained a radical advantage. Banking is more powerful and more fundamental than money.
Currently 1% of all Bitcoin exists inside Ethereum and this number is rapidly growing. We expect this trend to further continue.
Crypto anarchy is the tactic of using cryptography to create a space of freedom which cannot be penetrated by power and capital monopolies with coercive force.
This space of freedom is the nascent seed of a democratic society. These social structures are resistant to state control and totalitarian power from the start. They are programmed with the code of resistance. They are spaces which counter social atomization and promote voluntary communal bonds by those who cherish freedom.
They are dark spaces used by an alliance of democratic forces.
Zero-knowledge (ZK) is a powerful technology, one that if used effectively opens vast frontiers of freedom.
ZK allows us to create anonymous smart contracts. Anyone can write an anonymous program which is called a proof. Even though the data on the blockchain is encrypted, the proof makes a statement about what is happening with that data. It cannot be cheated and is completely secure.
It opens up an entirely new design space of anonymous applications that previously we could not create. The technology is mature, waiting to be taken up and applied.
Now you might be thinking there is a performance penalty for ZK, but actually ZK is fast. It is faster to verify a ZK proof than it is to compute the actual non-ZK function itself. And no matter how big is the data, the proof is always a constant size.
For example, we can compress an entire blockchain into a ZK proof. Rather than downloading 300 Gb of data on initial sync with the network, you can instead download a 22 Kb proof that the current state has been correctly computed from genesis. There are already projects offering this. This property of ZK is called succinctness.
Here is a simple program: def foo(s, x, y): if s: return x * y else: return x + y
Lets say Alice calculates z = foo(True, 4, 110). To prove z is calculated correctly, Alice gives Bob the values of z, s, x, y and then Bob runs the function to see he gets the same result as Alice. That’s not anonymous, as Bob can see the values that are input to the function. Instead Alice can use a ZK proof to show she computed the function correctly without revealing the input values.
Using this technique, we can create completely dark financial markets: a global decentralized economic network operating fully anonymously.
ZK is a powerful design space opening up for developers. It is also a new computational architecture different to the Vonn Neumann model that we are all familiar with. Certain types of operations are more favourable compared to others which takes some getting used to. There is a lot of scope and exploration here for advancing the tooling around ZK such as compilers which are still very primitive.
This is the first step toward a new economic model for technology that is not based off the exploitation of users.
DarkFi is a base layer for anonymous applications and smart contracts that is multi-chain interoperable.
Find the code here:
DarkFi is an environment with a language for writing zero-knowledge smart contracts. The research is still nascent but we already have our testnet operational.
ZK unlocks an entirely unexplored design space of anonymous applications. Previously if you wanted to create an anonymous application you had to think how to combine several existing cryptographic schemes. Maybe it would be slow or impossible. But with ZK, we have a generic cryptographic schema that any programmer can use to create anonymous applications.
We can create anonymous services. Users can interact with DAOs and markets where they use credentials. You attach a proof which says that a statement is correct. Nothing else about your identity is leaked. Services are operated in this manner.
Here is an example of a smart contract minting a credential:
We have a chat server on Matrix at:
We already have a testnet bridged with Bitcoin and Solana networks. We plan to add support for Ethereum and Monero soon. You can run the application and send payments.
Our initial focus will be simple anonymous swaps and a DAO for governance. We plan to focus on building out organizational tooling and rapidly expand our ecosystem. Join us on this world-building adventure.
We are seeking political developers and offer competitive salaries. This is an opportunity to help build an ecosystem and there will be many more projects being launched and funded on DarkFi.
Every Monday 16:00 CET in #dev on our server, we have an open developer meeting over text.
We are more than tool creators. We build applications and help support teams building them. We welcome everyone on our exodus to the promised land of opportunity.
Let there be dark
Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof.
Everybody feels that there will big a huge macro political or economic event in the next 5 years. Everybody is deeply discontented with the power and capital monopolies ruling over us.
What is the next system to come along? Here is the answer:
We should not be thinking about systems. Human beings are not objects in a mathematical apparatus. That is the thinking that got us in this position.
What thinking do we need?
What is happening around you? What are people doing? What are the problems they face? What is truth, beauty and goodness? How can we empower that face of humanity and nature that we wish to grow?
Luckily we have been gifted agorist counter-economics, not just as a philosophy but as a powerful agent of change. Wield that power, make things happen.
The regulators are coming for us. They see us as children with boots too big for our feet. We need to be put back in our place. They do this from outside and within. Those crazy anarchists amongst us get shushed, given freakish looks, shunned and told off for stirring the pot. Who are these people and where did they come from? Certainly in their clean corporate cages they would never have risked betting on Bitcoin in 2010. Yet here they are attaching themselves to success, making sure things are done right.
The narrative right now is about trivial first world concerns: GameFi, ArtFi, SocialMediaFi – the entertainment and celebrity biz.
But one need only look at what power and capital monopolies seek to prevent to understand what is key to liberating the democratic nation.
They are going to regulate crypto which allows any person to send crypto to any person anywhere on the planet. Or to establish private organizations that are self-governed. This destroys all proprietary models of the power and capital monopolies.
Crypto will split into two. RegFi will be unusable and bolted down. It will be toothless. The other side will be the underground DarkFi. It will have bite.
DarkFi is not a project or a company. We are a community and a movement.
Counter-economics gives us tools to architect systems that empower free communities.
Crypto-anarchy is the tactic of using cryptography for counter-economics.
Privacy technologies are emerging stronger than ever and are completely unstoppable.
Combine all this together and we get: DarkFi.
The darkness is here and will sweep over our digital world. It cannot be stopped, since the benefits it brings are too great. All the latent potentialities of humanity that are being pushed down will be allowed to rise up to the top. This is a great power that must be used respectfully.
Remember every technological revolution in history had naysayers who wanted to put the genie back in Pandora’s box. But they were dragged kicking and screaming into the future against their will.
There are no judgments or edicts being made here. Just statements of reality.
Take it or leave it, this is what will happen. Welcome to the agorist future.
Let there be dark.