What is a cypherpunk?

Justin justin-cypherpunks at soze.net
Wed Feb 16 11:41:39 PST 2005

On 2005-02-16T13:18:16-0500, Steve Thompson wrote:
>  --- Justin <justin-cypherpunks at soze.net> wrote: 
> > On 2005-02-15T13:23:37-0500, Steve Thompson wrote:
> > >  --- "James A. Donald" <jamesd at echeque.com> wrote: [snip]
> > > > As governments were created to smash property rights, they are
> > > > always everywhere necessarily the enemy of those with property,
> > > > and the greatest enemy of those with the most property.
> > > 
> > > Uh-huh.  Perhaps you are using the term 'government' in a way that
> > > is not common to most writers of modern American English?
> > 
> > I think it's fair to say that governments initially formed to
> > protect property rights (although we have no historical record of
> > such a government because it must have been before recorded history
> > began).

As I said, I think this is wrong.  Mammals other than primates recognize
property in a sense, but it depends entirely on social status.  There is
no recognition of property rights independent of social position.  If a
lion loses a fight, he loses all his property.

Chimp and gorilla communities have the beginnings of monarchy.  Yet they
don't care about religion, and their conception of property rights still
derives from their position in the social ladder.  If not primates, do
any animals besides humans recognize property rights independent of
social position?

> I think it's fair to say that governments were initially, and still
> largely remain today, the public formalisation of religious rule
> applied to the  civil sphere of existence.  It's more complicated than
> that, but generally speaking, somewhat disparate religious populations
> (protestant, catholic, jew, etc.) accepted the fiction of secular
> civil governance when in reality religious groups have tended to
> dominate the shape and direction of civil government, while professing
> to remain at arms-length.

I think it's fair to say that religion post-dates government, at least
informal government.  Maybe the first monarchs/oligarchs came up with
religious schemes to keep the peons in line, but I would think that was
incidental, as was the notion of property rights.  Both property rights
and religion depend heavily on the ability for communication, but
monarchy can be established without it.  All the monarch needs is a big
stick and an instinctual understanding of some of the principles much
later described by our good Italian friend Niccolo M.

> 'Fiction' is the operative term here, and I contend that nowhere is this
> more evident in the closed world of clandestine affairs -- civilian OR
> military.  Religion has always been about 'powerful' and educated in-sect
> sub-populations organising civil and intellectuall affairs in such a way

I think it's fair to say that religion may be more important than
property rights for keeping people in line.  But I think they're both

> > When democratic states inevitably fold into tyranny, some of those
> > restrictions remain.  Right now most states have a strange mix of
> > property rights protections (e.g. the Berne convention and the DMCA) and
> > property rights usurpations (e.g. no right to own certain weapons; equal
> > protection).
> Agreements and accords such as the Berne convention and the DCMA, to say
> nothing of human-rights legislation, are hobbled by the toothlessness of
> enforcement, pulic apathy to others' rights, and a load of convenient
> exceptions to such rules made for the agents of state.

Okay.  So it's fair to say, then, that we have compromises between
property rights protections and other (perceived yet imaginary?)
property rights protections.  Which is really what it boils down to.
There's no property rights usurpation without some motive behind it.
And motives generally stem from wanting to redistribute property or deny
it to another individual, group, or an entire nation.  Sometimes that
property is land (the excuse for such property redistribution or denial
of ownership is called "self determination"), sometimes it is
intellectual property (the excuse is "information wants to be free")...
sometimes it's explosives (they're TOO DANGEROUS, and only terrorists
have them... are you a terrorist?).

Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who
have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for
anything else thereafter.           --Hemingway, Esquire, April 1936

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