Open Source War on Poverty

One thing that can be said about Julian Assange is that he is effective at radical transparency. Large hierarchical organizations (militaries, corporations) now fear for their secrecy. John Robb has a good article on Assange today:

Julian Assange

…what’s really interesting about Wikileak’s Julian Assange is that he is one of the most important innovators in modern conflict alive today. A true global guerrilla. In other words, he’s a person that has effectively adapted modern methods of warfare/conflict to engage and defeat the biggest nation-states in the world.

Robb uses the language of warfare a lot – which can be offputting. But if you translate “warfare” into “conflict” you are entering the world of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, where conflict is a natural part of human life, and is not good or evil. What matters is how to achieve a victory that can “take whole,” subdue conflict while doing what is right for all people involved:

Therefore, one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful.
Subduing the other’s military without battle is the most skillful.

(The Art Of War, Denma Translation, Chapter 3: Strategy of Attack)

This is very interesting when you consider major human problems as the “enemy”: poverty, warfare, disease, starvation, oppression. Robb says in another article on Open Source Warfare:

Open source warfare is an organizational method by which a large collection of small, violent, superempowered groups can work together to take on much larger foes (usually hierarchies). It is also a method of organization that can be applied to non-violent struggles. It enables:

  • High rates of innovation.
  • Increased survivability among the participant groups.
  • More frequent attacks and an ability to swarm targets.

Here I think Robb is using the word violent to mean “acting with or marked by or resulting from great force or energy or emotional intensity,” not necessarily causing physical harm to anyone.

This has application to the “war on poverty” – following Robb’s ideas, and Assange’s lead, if we actually want to eliminate poverty from the world, we’d start a movement of open-source wealth creation that had the characteristics outlined above, an open source war on poverty. It would be able to innovate quickly, be resilient, centerless, and would quickly swarm around key opportunities, key points where progress can be made quickly and on wide scale.

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