[Community-Discuss] Unaddressed queries by AFRINIC during AGMM

Ronald F. Guilmette rfg at tristatelogic.com
Sun Jun 27 00:05:08 UTC 2021

In message <CAEqgTWZbPbFHq3RdogZNm85ffgWjuNeWq+fcpBaWBsFgs4nuGg at mail.gmail.com>
Noah <noah at neo.co.tz> wrote:

>Folk got guts out here openly telling folks that we ought to turn intergers

>into a commodity worthy some 30USD.

Well, there are clearly two very different ways to look at this.

The "old way", which is how the Internet was operated from the beginning
says that we should have some small set of intelligent and benign dictators
sitting atop everything, and those folks should give number resources
"to each according to his need".

The exact way I phrased that is not at all accidental. It is one half of
what may father taught me was the definition of "communism"... at least
Soviet-style communism... back when I was a boy, some 50+ years ago, and
in the midst of the Cold War.

The entire Soviet communist mantra, as my dad described it to me, was "From
each according to his ability. To each according to his need."

As a guiding principal of social systems, I think we all know now that this
didn't really work out all that well in the end. Not for the Soviets,
and not even for the Chinese, who these days are agressive capitalists
even while still claiming to be communists in some limited respects.

Of course on the opposite end of the spectrum from that we have totally
unfettered laissez faire capitalism, sometimes known as "dog eat dog"
and/or "the devil take the hindmost". As a basis for a social system
it can be pretty easily argued that this doesn't work out all that well
in the long run either. (I say this even though my own countrymen are,
even as we speak, ceaselessly bickering about this, and about the proper
role of government in economic affairs.)

Being the kind of jaded iconoclastic person that I am, I have told friends
that really, in my opinion, these radically divergent views on the role
of the state in economic affairs will, for most ordinary people, come down
to just a simple choice: Would you rather be ripped off by corrupt thieves
in government or by corrupt thieves in industry?

For those on the bottom of the socio-economic totem pole who lack political
and/or economic influence, these are really the only two available options.

To return to the point however there is an argument to be made in favor of
treating IP addresess as just simple (mostly fungible) commodities. I myself
have frequently made this argument. I do so every time I see that some
spammer has squatted on a piece of unused and fallow IP address space.
I always say "Gee! If these IP address were worth more, then the real
owner would take better care of them and would not let mere spammers
spoil their long term value!" (A similar argument has been made frequently
about "legal" land ownership in the third world. It is said that because
many people in the third world have simply lived on "their" land for
generations, even though they have no legal documents they could use to
assert ownership, this is a HUGE problem, because not being "legal" owners,
the people tend to take less good care of the land than they otherwise would.)

So anyway, as far as IP addresses are concerned, we have had, in effect,
a benign (and fundemantally communist) dictatorship in the form of the
five Regional Internet Registries, and the National Science Foundation
and dr. Jon Postel even before that. They gave "to each according to
his needs". This all started to dissolve away on ore about Mar 24, 2011
when Microsoft acquired 666,624 legacy IPv4 addresses from Nortel...
*without* the specific consent of ARIN. And the rest, as they say, is

At the moment, we seem to have a mixed (capitalist/communist) system of
allocating and/or acquiring IP addresses. And at the moment this ad hoc
system seems to is succeding primarily at creating controversy and discord.

I don't know what the answer is. I just know that I become mad as hell
whenever I see what I regard as the "wrong people" getting big chunks of
IPv4 address space... somehow.

Abraham Lincoln once famously said "I do not expect the house to fall, but
I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or
all the other."

He was speaking of slavery, not capitalism versus communism when it comes
to IP addresses of course, but if history is any guide, this pronouncement
of his -will- untimately prevail, as it already has done, i.e. with the fall
of the old Soviet Union and the conversion of China into an agressively
capitalist society.

In short, I believe that in the end we will have a totally free global
market in IP addresses, and that the RIRs will either actually or effectively
cease to play the roles they now play.

That is not to say that I think we either can or should have a totally
unregulated, totally laissez faire "anything goes" approach to Internet
governance. The private sector simply does not adequately value investments,
such as schools, universities, basic research labs, art museums and so forth
that society as a whole rightfully puts significant value on. So I do
think that the RIRs ought to develop some thoughtful and well-reasoned
polices that will, in effect, subsidize these kinds of socially necessary
activities and institutions, and that will insure that they don't have to
go begging, cap in hand, in the "dog eat dog" open market in order to fill
their reasonable and well justified address space needs.

>Does AFRINIC have IPv4 brokers as resource members?

I think that the answwer to this question is not at all ambiguous.


P.S. This whole issue of "reserving" some "space" (in this case, space
in the DNS tree) for non-profit and public benefit organizations recently
came to a head when ICANN tried to sell off the entire .org TLD to a group
of venture capital funded private investors.

The outcome of that controversy is instructive, I think.

Suffice it to say that in the end, the public interest prevailed and the
buccaneer capitalists *did not* get everything they were hoping for.

Many people across the globe applauded this outcome.

I was one of them.

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