A Cyberpunk Manifesto – Revised

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The original translation of Kirtchev’s A Cyberpunk Manifesto, now 20 years old and translated from Bulgarian, is not exactly known for its perfect English. If you are a native English speaker, it can even be jarring to read at times. In a conversation with Kirtechv, himself, he told me, “

It is written by a Eastern European in a former Soviet Bloc satellite country after the fall of communism. It is even given as a study at English class in a college to examine the ‘broken english’.

Together, Kirtchev and I have slightly revised the original translation to smooth over the roughest portions while striving to leave the original intent untarnished. The below-revised version of A Cyberpunk Manifesto is published with the permission of Christian A. Kirtchev, the original author.


A Cyberpunk Manifesto

By Christian A. Kirtchev

We are the Electronic Minds, a group of free-minded rebels. Cyberpunks. We live in Cyberspace. We are everywhere. We know no boundaries. This is our manifest. The Cyberpunks’ manifest.

I. Cyberpunk

1. We are those, the Different. Outsiders. Technological rats, swimming in the ocean of information

2. We are the introverted little kid at school, sitting at the last desk in the corner of the classroom.

3. We are the teenager all his classmates consider strange.

4. We are the student hacking computer systems, exploring the depth of his reach.

5. We are the grown-up in the park sitting on a bench, laptop on his knees, programming the latest virtual reality.

6. Ours is the garage stuffed with electronics. The soldering iron on the corner of a desk and nearby, the disassembled radio – they are also ours. Ours is the cellar with computers, buzzing printers, and beeping modems.

7. We are those that see reality differently. Our point of view sees beyond what ordinary people can perceive. They see what is outside, but we see what is inside. That’s what we are, realists with the glasses of dreamers.

8. We are those strange people, almost unknown to the neighborhood. People indulged in their thoughts, sitting day after day before the computer, ransacking the net for something. We are not often away from home. We occasionally leave and only to go to the nearby radio shack, to the usual bar to meet some of our few friends, to meet a client, to the backstreet druggist, or just for a little walk.

9. We don’t have many friends, only a few with whom we go to parties. Everybody else we know, we know on the net. Our real friends are there, on the other side of the line. We know them from our favorite IRC channel, from the News-Groups, or from the systems that we hang around.

10. We are those who don’t give a shit about what people think about us. We don’t care what we look like in the eyes of others, or what people say behind our backs.

11. The majority of us like to live in hiding, unknown to all except those few with which we must inevitably have contact.

12. Others love publicity. They love fame. They are known in the underground. Their names are often heard there. But we are all united by one thing: We are Cyberpunks.

13. Society does not understand us. We are “weird” and “crazy” in the eyes of ordinary people who live far from pure information and free ideas. Society denies our way of thinking – a society, living, thinking and breathing in one and only one way – a cliché.

14. They deny us because we think like free people, and free thinking is forbidden.

15. The Cyberpunk has no single outer appearance. Cyberpunks are people, starting from the ordinary and known to no one, to the artistic technomaniac, to the electronically-inclined musician, to the open-minded scientist.

16. Cyberpunk isn’t simply a literary genre anymore; it isn’t even an ordinary subculture. Cyberpunk is a stand-alone new culture. The offspring of the new age. A culture that unites our common interests and views. We are a unit. We are Cyberpunks.

II. Society

1. The Society surrounding us is clogged with conservancy, pulling everything and everybody to itself, while it sinks slowly into the quicksand of time.

2. However doggedly some refuse to believe it, we obviously live in a sick society. The so-called “reforms” our governments so adeptly use to boast are nothing but small steps forward when leaps are possible.

3. People fear the new and unknown. They prefer the old, the familiar and checked truths. They are afraid of what new possibilities can bring. They are afraid that they will lose what they have.

4. Their fear is so intense that they have proclaimed the revolutionary a foe and the free idea its weapon. That’s their fault.

5. People must leave this fear behind and move forward. What’s the point of clinging to the little you have now when you can have more tomorrow? They must stretch out their hands and embrace the new: give freedom to thoughts, ideas, and words.

6. For centuries, each generation has been brought up is the same pattern, taught ideology that everyone follows blindly. Individuality is forgotten. People think alike, following the clichés drilled into them in as children: and when one dares to defy authority, he is punished and held up as a bad example, “Here is what happens to you when you express yourself and deny your teacher’s opinion.”

7. Our society is sick and needs healing. The cure is a change in the System…

III. The System

1. The System, centuries-old, exists on principles that no longer stand up to scrutiny, a System that has changed little since its conception.

2. The System is wrong.

3. The System must impose its truth upon us so that it can rule. The government needs us to follow it blindly. For this reason, we live in an informational eclipse. When people can only acquire information from the government, they cannot distinguish right from the wrong. So the lie becomes a truth – truth, fundamental to everything else. Thus, leaders control with lies and ordinary people have no notion of what is true and follow the government blindly, trusting it.

4. We fight for freedom of information. We fight for freedom of speech and press. We fight for the freedom to express our thoughts freely, without being persecuted by the System.

5. Even in the most developed and ‘democratic’ countries, the System imposes misinformation. Even in the countries that pretend to be the cradle of free speech, misinformation is the System’s primary weapon. A weapon they use very well.

6. It is the Net that helps us spread information freely. The Net, with no boundaries or information limit.

7. What is ours is yours, what is yours is ours.

8. Everyone can share information without restrictions.

9. Encryption of information is our weapon. Thus the words of revolution can spread uninterrupted, and the government remains in the dark.

10. The Net is our realm. In the Net, we are kings.

11. The world is changing, even if slowly, but the laws remain the same. The System isn’t changing. For centuries the laws have remained the same. Just a few details are adjusted to the modern times, but everything conceptually remains the same.

12. We need new laws. Laws fitting the times we live in, fitting the world that surrounds us. Not laws built on the basis of the past. Laws built for today, laws that will fit tomorrow.

13. These laws only limit us. These laws need revision, badly.

IV. The Vision

1. Some people don’t care about global events. They care only about what happens around them in their micro-universe.

2. These people can only see a dark future, for they can only see the life they live now in this messed up world.

3. Others show concern about global affairs. Interested in everything: in the future, in perspective, and in what’s going to happen globally.

4. They have a more optimistic view. For them the future is cleaner and beautiful – Utopia. They look into future and see a more mature man, a wiser world.

5. We are in-between. We are interested in what happens now, but also in what’s going to happen tomorrow.

6. We look into the Net, and the Net is only growing more expansive.

7. Soon everything in this world will be swallowed by the Net, from military systems to home computers.

8. But the Net is a house of anarchy.

9. The Net can’t be controlled and in this is its power.

10. Every man will be dependent on the Net.

11. The whole of mankind’s information will be there, locked in the abyss of zeros and ones.

12. Those who control the Net, control the information.

13. We live in a mixture of past and present.

14. The bad comes from man, and the good comes from technology.

15. The Net will control the little man, and we will control the Net.

16. What you don’t control, will control you.

17. Information is POWER!

V. Where are we?

1. Where are we?

2. We all live in a sick world where hatred is a weapon and freedom is a dream

3. The world develops so slowly. It is hard for a Cyberpunk to live in an underdeveloped world, watching the people around him and seeing how wrongly they develop

4. We move forward; they pull us back again. Society suppresses us. Yes, it suppresses freedom of thought. With its cruel education programs in schools and universities. They drill into children their view of things and any attempt to express a different opinion is denied and punished.

5. Our kids grow, educated in this old and still unchanged System. A System that tolerates no freedom of thought and demands strict obedience to the rules.

6. In what a different world we could we live if people were making leaps and not creeps.

7. It’s so hard to live in this world, Cyberpunk.

8. It’s as if time has stopped.

9. We live in the right spot, but not the right time.

10. Everything is so ordinary. People are all the same, their deeds too. It’s as if Society feels an imperative to live in the past.

11. Those trying to find their own world, the world of the Cyberpunk, build a new world. Built in their thoughts, it changes reality. It lays over the current world, and thus they live in a virtual world. Thought-space, built upon reality.

12. Others simply get accustomed to the world as it is. They continue to live in it, although they dislike it. They have no other choice but to bear the hope that the world will get out of its rut and will move forward.

13. We are working to change the situation. We are working to adjust the present world to our needs and views, to maximally use what is fit and to ignore the trash. Where we can’t, we just live in this world, like Cyberpunks, no matter how hard. When society fights us, we fight back.

14. We build our worlds in Cyberspace.

15. Among the zeros and ones, among the bits of information.

16. We build our community. The community of Cyberpunks.

 

Unite! Fight for your rights!

We are the Electronic Minds, a group of free-minded rebels. Cyberpunks. We live in Cyberspace. We are everywhere. We know no boundaries. This is our manifest. The Cyberpunks’ Manifest.

February 14, 1997

Christian A. Kirtchev

Edited by Isaac L. Wheeler (Veritas) and Christian A. Kirtchev

January 11, 2017

3 Responses to “A Cyberpunk Manifesto – Revised”

  1. >Some people don’t care about global events. They care only about what happens around them in their micro-universe.
    Tell me, do you known people that act differently from this?
    This *is* what a human does currently.

    Humans have this (now recently unmasked) weakness – being limited in scope to caring about the destiny of maybe 100 people.
    It is a major weakness – it simply does not scale right now
    We are largely fucked if we keep relying on current inherent human-ness:
    -our built-in thought patterns
    -our knee-jerk reactions
    -human rationalizations optimized for the past
    -human general senses optimized for the past
    -human brain paths optimized for the past
    We are in big trouble – exploring space and beyond requires more than a “locally optimized” intelligence.
    -we have to be changing/optimizing “ourselves” for any hope of survival.

  2. Isaac L. Wheeler (Veritas)

    I think that the goal is to attempt to set these biases aside, but also to accept that we, as imperfect beings, will never be able to entirely do so. We have to do the best we can.

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