For the first time in our society’s seemingly inexorable death spiral, I have regained a significant measure of hope for the future of America, and indeed all of mankind. Once again, it seems, technology will come to our rescue.
Would a world without any rulers, where war was rendered impossible, be such a bad place to live? If there were a way to eventually nullify the power of all states, not just our own, would it be worth doing?
“Anarchy is not lack of order. Anarchy is lack of ORDERS.” -unknown
What if there were nobody left daring to even follow unpopular orders, much less issue them? Without so-called ‘leaders,’ and disciplined followers willing to execute their orders, no form of tyranny or warfare could possibly exist. Think about that undeniable fundamental truth for a moment.
I find it astonishing that I had never heard of Jim Bell, and his 20-year-old 10-part essay, “Assassination Politics,” in which he described and defended a technological method for eliminating unpopular politicians from society.
Part 1 begins:
I’ve been following the concepts of digital cash and encryption since I read the article in the August 1992 issue of Scientific American on “encrypted signatures.” While I’ve only followed the Digitaliberty area for a few weeks, I can already see a number of points that do (and should!) strongly concern the average savvy individual:
1. How can we translate the freedom afforded by the Internet to ordinary life?
2. How can we keep the government from banning encryption, digital cash, and other systems that will improve our freedom?
A few months ago, I had a truly and quite literally “revolutionary” idea, and I jokingly called it “Assassination Politics”: I speculated on the question of whether an organization could be set up to legally announce that it would be awarding a cash prize to somebody who correctly “predicted” the death of one of a list of violators of rights, usually either government employees, officeholders, or appointees. It could ask for anonymous contributions from the public, and individuals would be able send those contributions using digital cash.
I also speculated that using modern methods of public-key encryption and anonymous “digital cash,” it would be possible to make such awards in such a way so that nobody knows who is getting awarded the money, only that the award is being given. Even the organization itself would have no information that could help the authorities find the person responsible for the prediction, let alone the one who caused the death.
It was not my intention to provide such a “tough nut to crack” by arguing the general case, claiming that a person who hires a hit man is not guilty of murder under libertarian principles. Obviously, the problem with the general case is that the victim may be totally innocent under libertarian principles, which would make the killing a crime, leading to the question of whether the person offering the money was himself guilty.
On the contrary; my speculation assumed that the “victim” is a government employee, presumably one who is not merely taking a paycheck of stolen tax dollars, but also is guilty of extra violations of rights beyond this. (Government agents responsible for the Ruby Ridge incident and Waco come to mind.) In receiving such money and in his various acts, he violates the “Non-aggression Principle” (NAP) and thus, presumably, any acts against him are not the initiation of force under libertarian principles.
The organization set up to manage such a system could, presumably, make up a list of people who had seriously violated the NAP, but who would not see justice in our courts due to the fact that their actions were done at the behest of the government. Associated with each name would be a dollar figure, the total amount of money the organization has received as a contribution, which is the amount they would give for correctly “predicting” the person’s death, presumably naming the exact date. “Guessers” would formulate their “guess” into a file, encrypt it with the organization’s public key, then transmit it to the organization, possibly using methods as untraceable as putting a floppy disk in an envelope and tossing it into a mailbox, but more likely either a cascade of encrypted anonymous remailers, or possibly public-access Internet locations, such as terminals at a local library, etc.
Hopefully, that has peaked your interest enough to go read his thought-provoking essay, because I would love to discuss its potential and/or flaws. Obviously, back in ’95, the internet was in its infancy, and very few individuals had even a dial-up connection to it. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had yet to be invented, nor had the potential for anonymity like TOR. What a difference 20 years can make in technology!
Now, internet access by smartphone is ubiquitous worldwide, and the technology necessary to implement Bell’s idea, is readily available. Crowd funding and prediction markets are now commonplace. In fact, it seems that someone has already started a version of it on the TOR network, focused on banking opponents of cryptocurrency. I have read, for instance, that the reward for correctly predicting Ben Bernanke’s death is $75K. I wonder how much that has changed his lifestyle? Even if it is a false flag honeypot, designed by the authorities to try to entrap someone, that wouldn’t help Bernanke; because there would still be no way to trace his would-be assailant, or know ahead of time when and where he intended to act. He could hire armed guards to protect himself 24/7; but how could he trust them? What would happen if their names were then added to the list?
I reckon that it is only a matter of time, before a workable, automated, and unstoppable worldwide system is designed and implemented. If TOR can already circumvent the Great Firewall of China, how could it be stopped, and by whom? Moreover, while mass retirements of politicians, bureaucrats, police, and military officers would undoubtedly soon follow, I don’t see it as being limited to government functionaries. Why not Jihadist leaders and their radical imams? How about dishonest used car salesmen? There could easily be multiple prediction markets, to eliminate all manner of uncivilized behaviors. 🙂
Being an unpleasant jerk and pissing people off, could become extremely dangerous. If one did something to provoke getting one’s name on a ‘hit’ list, with a sufficient reward to tempt a friend or associate, one’s life would never be the same again. Since the reward funds are donated up front, as anonymously as the ultimate recipient of them, there would be no way to cancel a ‘contract’ once initiated.
Yikes! I predict a very polite society in the future of mankind. Those believing that gangs of thugs would naturally terrorize society in the absence of government, need to think again. They wouldn’t dare have any leaders either! Who could a gang leader possibly trust, with a sufficient price on his head? For their bloodthirsty lot, it wouldn’t even need to be a very high price, since it could be collected completely anonymously, with a few keystrokes on a smartphone.
Once this genie is out of the bottle, and anonymous cryptocurrency use becomes ubiquitous worldwide, I predict that eventually all oppressive governments will fail, and all military organizations will cease to exist. I am unsure what individuals will then do with their lust for power, when none is available. I suppose they might have to settle for becoming well-paid assassins; but even that would be destined to become a dead-end career, as the survivors did their very best to avoid provoking anyone, in any way. 😉
Now, if you have absorbed Jim’s entire essay, please show me the hidden flaw. I can’t find it! ◄Dave►