Czech Republic’s capital city hosts the only physical cryptoanarchist hub in the world. Paralelni Polis (which is Greek for “parallel city”) is a three-story building which includes a Bitcoin café, a social center and the Institute of Cryptoanarchy. Over the course of last weekend, Paralelni Polis organized its fourth annual Hacker’s Congress with the fitting theme – “Liberate”.
For three days, a buzzing community was formed: inspiring conversations in every corner, people discussing solutions to society’s problems, networking, sharing ideas and building new ones. The most prominent characters in the cryptoanarchic scene and revolutionary blockchain community were there, presenting their projects and ideas. Topics covered aligned with concepts of libertarianism, anarchism, freedom, privacy, and hacking.
A notable speaker was Berlin-based Smuggler – the pseudo-anonymous dark figure dressed in black wearing a cap, hoodie, sunglasses, handkerchief mask, and gloves to prevent fingerprint detection. Ironically, he was probably photographed the most out of everyone. He gave an overview of cryptography and its adversary regulation since the 1990s in the political realm, focusing on the personal sovereignty.
The most controversial talk was Jim Bell’s Assassination Market Politics. He reiterated his 1995 essay, where he outlined how anonymously sponsored assassinations can be voted for online, based on a gambling method. Generally, the audience weren’t very pleased, many people stood up and left the room during his talk. Critical questions were fired and not answered cohesively. The ethics and consistency of Jim’s plan did not line up with the quality of rest of the talks.
It can agreeably be said that the highlight of the conference was Amir Taaki’s lecture. He eloquently spoke about a flow of subjects, depicting the history of the hacker’s movement – how what was once a communal vision has become an individualized process. He noted the cultural shift occurring in the cryptoscene. It has become a corporate movement, as has happened with computers and internet in the recent past. Furthermore he outlined democratic confederalism, the socialist libertarian system, and his work in Rojava, Syria. He announced his plans to begin training small-scale selected groups to build back the original spirit of the movement.
Some other notable speakers include; Peter Todd, Bitcoin Core Developer, who dove into blockchain software technicalities; Vít Jedlička, president of the Liberland, presenting the latest progress of the Balkan libertarian micronation and their involvement with Somaliland. The congress does not only focus on blockchain-related topics, but alternative visions of society more broadly. Many talks were dedicated to innovations in education, by separating school from state (Zdeňka Staňková), or emancipating the system (James Tooley). Others to bio-hacking and the decentralized revolution, as passionately delivered by Amin Rafiee. There was also talk of sexual deviation and non-monogamous relationships.
The diversity of people opinions and topics was a key element to motivate people to think about all the ways our constructed reality can be different, and realize the possibilities of new system. For example, the presentation on Ethereum-based anonymous locking boxes does give the feeling that everything is possible, and the future of blockchain a shining beacon. But many of the talks had darker undertones. Frank Braun, the second masked figure from Berlin, straight up admitted he could fathom no solution to the multi-faceted problems of technological biases, addictive systems, totalitarian technology, and the resulting dehumanizing technology. A feeling of hopelessness against the monolithic society was sensed in many other cases. Luckily one of the first talks of the weekend by Juraj Bednár provided a step by step system towards positive libertarianism, for those who feel they are drowning in the atrocities of the mundane.
Paralelni Polis is an innovative place built on visions of parallel possibilities of the present and future. In fact, is the only place in the world that only accepts cryptocurrency as payment. The organization is based on the fusion of hackers and artists, who are passionate believers in libertarianism and decentralization. Together with 30 hard-working volunteers, they managed to bring together a successful sold-out event hosting around 600 people. Outside of the congress, Paralelni Polis remains an active place for discussion and a think tank to bring people together.
The congress allowed for the conglomeration of ideas, provided by pragmatic visionaries with solution-based thinking. It is an active effort to propel the cryptoanarchist movement into the physical as well as intellectual world.
Keep your eyes open for #HCPP18 on the 5th-7th of October next year.