cypherpunls and guns

juan juan.g71 at
Tue May 15 13:37:11 PDT 2018

out of the memory hole : 


At 12:51 AM -0800 1/6/98, Wei Dai wrote:

>I don't understand why there is so much talk about guns here lately.
>Unless someone comes up with a weapon that has some very unusual economic
>properties, individuals cannot hope to compete with governments in the
>domain of deadly force. If we have to resort to physical violence, we've
>already lost!

People on almost any unmoderated mailing list will talk about what
interests them. Those who mainly want to talk about crypto are of course
free to do so.

(You have, Wei, done important work in this area. But you very, very seldom
write articles on this list, at least not for the last couple of years--I
count less than one article per month from you over the past half year. I
urge you to write such articles if you dislike reading what others are

I agree that two or three or four or five years ago I was much more likely
to write about something more crypto-related. Well, much time has passed.
Most things worth saying have been said, at least for me. I can't work up
the energy to discuss "data havens" a fourth or fifth time.

(And an article from me on data havens, or information markets, or crypto
anarchy, will usually produce complaints from people who don't see what it
has to do with getting the latest version of PGP! That's only a slight

There have also been very few major new participants. A few years ago we
could count on one or two major new "talents" joining the list each year,
generating articles and new ideas. For whatever reasons, this has nearly

I would guess the reasons are related to a) no major publicity stories as
in past years, b) the disintegration of the list a year ago in the wake of
the "moderation" fiasco (which cut subscriptions by 3-5x), c) competition
from several other crypto lists, "moderated" by their owners, d) exhaustion
of the older participants in the battles, and e) those who are interested
in our topics have mostly already found us (meaning, the rich hunting
period is over). ;

>Think about it: if we can defend ourselves with guns, why would we need

This has an obvious answer. Guns are a last resort. Crypto makes it less
likely that Big Brother will know what the proles are talking about, less
likely that participants in a plan will be targetted for investigation and

Wei, your question could be paraphrased this way:

"If Pablo Escobar could defend himself with guns, why did he need crypto in
his cellphone?"

(The answer being that P. Escobar was detected by using a cellphone without
security. The NSA then told the DEA and its allies where he was and they
took him out on a rooftop.)

Final comment: If I find the motivation, I may finish an essay I've been
working on about how we, the Cypherpunks and the World, are *retrogressing*
in crypto areas. Most of the exotic applications are no longer being
discussed, and various mundane commercial products are the main focus. Yawn.

--Tim May

The Feds have shown their hand: they want a ban on domestic cryptography
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
ComSec 3DES:   408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^2,976,221   | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."


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