The following questions were recently asked on the Doctrine Zero mailing list:

  • What are our practical aims?
  • What do we want the membership to do or help with?
  • Where are we going?
  • Having a structure and ideology is necessary, but not sufficient.

I agree entirely that organizational structure and ideology of the types we have been developing over the last three years are indeed necessary, but not sufficient for positive social change through technology. I have identified various goals in the past, and some of those goals have been achieved, while others have become redundant in the face of rapid change. I’ve been thinking hard about where we need to go next, and it is now time to make the call.

It should be clear to all WAVE and Zero State members that they are free and strongly encouraged to do as they see fit, as long as their actions are compatible with our Principles. Beyond that, however, I see the questions above as asking what our primary goal is, and what regular people can do now to help achieve it. It should also be clear that I’m not telling anyone what to do. Rather, I am calling for support. The following statement is about what I personally believe and intend to do, and how others can pitch in to help me if they choose to do so.

1. The Big Idea: Where Are We Going?

We are seeing a lot of turbulent change in the world now, both good and bad, and signs indicate that this is just the beginning. Whatever may come, our chances of surviving and prospering can only be increased by developing a serious sphere of influence dedicated to our ideas and values, rather than simply trusting traditional authorities to do the right thing and hoping for the best. We can’t know what may happen or whether we have any role to play in future events, but we can work to maximise the chance of having options, together, as a community.

I have recently been writing articles which call for the creation of a network of new institutions, to act as alternatives to the broken ones currently running our societies. Such a network could potentially develop enough influence to implement policies in line with our beliefs and values, and secure resources for projects which we think are important. This is the original Zero State idea – the creation of a non-traditional State – extended to include connections between many different like-minded groups, organizations, and communities around the world.

There are a thousand different pet projects we could choose to prioritise, and any successful initiative run by people who share our values could help the network’s development, beyond whatever good it may do in its own right. That does not change the fact that development of the network itself – the creation of a vehicle for helping ourselves and as many others as possible – should be our highest and most general goal.

We have laid the barest initial foundations in terms of organizational structure and ideology, and there will be much more work to come along those lines, but now we need to focus on achieving a goal which clearly announces the point at which the network has undeniably become real, viable, and worthwhile. In other words, we need to give birth to the thing in a way that helps others to see its potential, and inspires them to join the effort. Obviously we need time to develop momentum toward the creation of a truly well-resourced and influential network, but trends apparent in the world today suggest that time may not be something we have a lot of. If we’re going to do this at all, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Taking all of these things together, I believe that we should aim for the official inauguration of the Zero State and the wider activist network it will be embedded in, on 1st May 2021. That will be ten years to the day since the first publication of our Principles. By that time, meaningful membership needs to be on a scale comparable with a traditional state – i.e. at least the size of a large city – which means ten million people or more. It would be premature to decide on the nature of the launch event now, but it should act as a demonstration that the network has resources and will apply them in ways that reflect our values and principles, and which clearly benefit network members.

This is a big goal, with a lot of details to be worked out. That’s where the practical steps and your help come in.

2. Fulcrum Goal: What Are Our Practical Aims?

We have a little under seven years to make this vision a reality, which is very little time for an undertaking on this scale. It will help in terms of logistics and morale if we can break the problem roughly in two. Achieve the first stage, and then move on from there to the larger goal.

Some time ago I said that we should assess ZS/WAVE’s progress on its fifth anniversary, in May 2016. To decide whether it had achieved enough to warrant its continued existence. I would like to reiterate and re-cast that suggestion, as follows: We will aim to hold an event for the fifth anniversary which clearly identifies the details of our larger goal five years later, and which in itself demonstrates that we have made some progress in bringing together enough people and ideas to make it possible. To my mind, that means that the 2016 event has to reach at least a million people by various means (primarily online, of course), to make it clear what the first act of the network will be in 2021, and to give people the opportunity to step up and help make it happen. If we can’t achieve that much in 2016, then it’s time to call it quits on the entire thing, and let everyone find their own path toward a better future, whatever that may be.

3. Intermediate Steps: What Can You Do To Help?

So, to be clear, what we’re talking about now is how you can help make the 2016 event happen, and be successful. If that works, then we will fully turn our attention to the inauguration in 2021. I’ve had an idea for some time, that anyone who wishes to think of themselves as an active or committed member of this movement should be able to say what they are working on to help. There will always be inactive people – that’s just the way of the world – but we can at least make it a point of pride to be able to say what we are personally doing to help. I suggest that we establish a small number of official “channels” through which people can help us make these things happen and be effectively organised. These channels would almost certainly be affiliated with the four working groups of the WAVE research institute, but we can work out the details shortly. For now, just as a matter of brainstorming, here are a few ideas on ways people could choose to get active and involved. Further suggestions and self-directed volunteer efforts would be very much appreciated! Alternatively, you could just go back to reading stories on Facebook, wondering why the world isn’t conforming to your desires and expectations, and hope for the best.

NETWORKING: Help build bridges between groups and organizations to help form the foundations of the future network. This means helping like-minded groups in their work and listening to their views, as much as it does encouraging them to check out what we’re up to.

RESOURCE PLANNING: We’re going to need money and other resources in significant quantities to make this happen. Help us find those things.

2016 EVENT PLANNING: Planning of networked real-world and online events for May 2016, in ways that make the path to 2021 from there as clear as possible.

2021 EVENT PLANNING: Longer-term planning of the 2021 inauguration event, assuming that the 2016 event is successful.

NETWORK ARCHITECTURE: Planning how to maximize and safeguard the network’s operation. However this thing is going to work, it would need to be fully operational before the inauguration. This category covers a very wide range of potential activities, from developing software tools, to working with different groups interested in being part of the network, to rigorously addressing ethical, legal, and other matters which we will have to confront.

AFFILIATED PROJECTS: You might have some great idea that you’re working on, that you think might complement the network in some way, help its members, or perhaps you would just like access to the network’s membership for the sake of your project. All of these things are fine and valuable, as long as you can be self-directed and self-motivated, and your activity and aims are compatible with the WAVE Principles.

PROMOTION: Spreading the word. This really is the default mode… if you aren’t helping in any other way, then the very least you can be doing is telling other people about WAVE, Zero State, and the wider network we’re building. Start conversations, and ask questions that might get people interested. At the same time, it would be useful to make us aware of ideas, people and groups which are relevant and potentially helpful. If you can’t do that much for the community, then you’re not really a part of it.