“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Four Freedoms1, January 6, 1941The end of World War II marked the world's ultimate victory for freedom (so far). No longer could those who stood for freedom become complacent, as the adage "freedom is not free" was summarily cemented in the world's minds. To this day, the very same basic freedoms are under heavy attack.
Though the medium of oppression has changed to a digital landscape, the same principles of freedom remain. The freedoms outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, penned by the United Nations in 1948, are the very same ones under attack in our increasingly digitized world. The tricks of human rights violators are the same as they ever were.
Let's take a look at one precept in the declaration: Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.2
The right to privacy is important to freedom because
- Constant surveillance erodes the principle of presumption of innocence
- Constant surveillance chills freedom of expression, especially in digital forms
- Privacy helps citizens' rights to freedom of movement and association
This is where Monero shines. Privacy in your use of money forms an essential core of Article 12. How can you express your freedoms to donate to noble causes you believe in if you are concerned that these causes do not fit with an authority's narrative?
The DOJ's Abuse of Power: Barrett Brown's Example for Anonymous Money
For example, let's take a look at the case of Barret Brown, a revolutionary journalist who caught the ire of US Federal Authorities. He's the guy who had the book thrown at him in court for merely sharing a hyperlink to a leaked document, hosted online elsewhere.
When the courts sentenced him, most knew it was excessive. An organic movement, “Free Barrett Brown,” started to raise funds to pay his attorney's fees. The extensive court process and appeals, over a long stretch of time, would have left most people penniless. The organization only wanted to ease Brown's financial pain caused by a court who clearly had it out for him. Slapped with a hefty prison sentence and an $800,000 fine for Stratfor, the plaintiff, Brown states:, “I will spend the rest of my life in a strange state of post-cyberpunk indentured servitude to an amoral private intelligence firm that’s perhaps best known for having spied on Bhopal activists on behalf of Dow Chemical. That the prosecution did not quite manage to articulate how I did any damage to this particular company did not seem to dissuade U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay in this matter.”
So the fundraising was clearly justified for such an inhumane penalty. However, it came to light that the FBI and DOJ kept watch over the bank account set aside for donors. In fact, they were able to discover the real identity of every donor. For a while, no one knew that the surveillance was even occurring. With no warrant served, the FBI and DOJ uncovered who donated to a perfectly legitimate and legal cause. This abuse of power falls well within "arbitrary interference" of donors' privacy.
Privacy to YOUR Value, Currency, and Worth
Your money is for your eyes only and those whom you allow to see. Over time, as the financial system becomes monopolized and digitized, we've grown to accept that banks and governments can see our every credit card swipe, checking account balances, and cash withdrawals. This is a slippery slope. Everyone has too freely welcomed oversight as an intrusion into their day-to-day lives, when resistance would have been the more logical response.
We've already witnessed, over and over, government efforts to put the entire globe under surveillance, with the ruling over the UK's spying regime as the latest example. Even as these shocking covert operations are made public, the perpetrators continue to engage in these violations, often by switching to different methods.
Fungibility As Surveillance Resistance
Monero solves the problem of prying eyes, thanks primarily to its fungibility. The fungibility feature makes your transactions anonymous so you can express your freedoms without big brother watching. Whether big brother is financial institutions, government, or your workplace, Monero ensures that you keep your money business private, as intended.
In contrast to Monero, Bitcoin is classified as non-fungible, meaning every coin's history can be traced back to its point of creation (when it was first mined). Every wallet address that has transacted with a coin can be traced on the public ledger. When a coin was used in illegal activities in the past, that becomes part of the coin's history.
Monero, instead, removes this problem of a permanent, public ledger. One Monero (XMR) can be substituted for any other with the same value. That means there is no unique identifier which can tie a single XMR coin's transactions through time. Additionally, there is no concept of having a less “pure” XMR because a tainted history is now no longer a problem.
Private transactions and storage of wealth, for both individuals and businesses, will remain an important right for generations to come. Over and over, we've seen governments who take advantage of the powers given to them, spying on their own citizens and on the citizens in other nations who have not yet broken any laws. Governments use these privacy-killing powers in order to neutralize so-called dangerous groups, activists, and causes.
If governments have already shown a willingness to tap into these groups' lifeblood, money, there will not be much freedom of expression to protect. Either covertly or overtly, a government can drain the privacies that help groups thrive.
What We Learned from World War II: No One Should Be Excluded from Exercising Their Rights
The horrors of WWII showed the putrid depths of hatred and prejudice. Removing protections of rights from certain groups of people undermines all core freedoms described in the Declaration of Human Rights2.
As a testament to rights for all people, Monero can be used by anyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual preferences. The Monero network and the community welcome all and ask no one to submit to arbitrary rules.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”4
Martin Luther King Jr.As Article 22 states in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Letting anyone, from all parts of the globe, take advantage of inalienable freedoms is the starting point. Monero's got that covered and so much more. Monero lets people suffocated by the world's most autocratic governments gain a new right: Freedom to use value as they see fit. Sometimes, small drips of freedom can begin a huge wave of revolution.
As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. knew, everyone on earth is connected in a human fabric. Protecting the rights of marginalized groups ultimately protects our rights too. Monero reinforces the ultimate truth that we are all so similar, and our human rights defend against the division and hatred that could tear us apart.
- The Four Freedoms
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations
- Free Barrett Brown donors sue DOJ, FBI for right to give anonymously
- “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”