Assassination Politics

grarpamp grarpamp at
Thu Aug 5 03:21:18 PDT 2021

The Jim Bell System Revisited
by Robert Vroman

Ed. note: This article reflects the views of the author ONLY, not the
editors. We have no official opinion whatsoever on the Jim Bell
System, aka Assassination Politics.

Please see Robert Vroman's original AP article, as well as both Bob
Murphy's and Adam Young's response.

Let me re-emphasize that I have neither the knowledge nor the will to
implement this system. I certainly don�t like the State, but I would
rather concentrate my energies on constructive rather than destructive
solutions. That said, I still think governments everywhere are going
to be staring down the barrel of an encrypted gun in the near future,
and this article attempts to explain why, in response to numerous
objections received since my last article.

I also want to point out some areas where I think Jim Bell is
completely off base. First of all, his insistence that AP is somehow
residing in a loophole of the American legal system that only he is
aware of, is absurd, as rightly pointed out by many of his critics. I
have no delusions that AP would somehow survive its "day in court" or
that even if, due to some arcane technicality, AP is a legal
enterprise that that would stop the State from pursuing it
relentlessly. Furthermore, I am mystified by Bell�s fascination with
confrontation and martyrdom (as exemplified by his personal life) and
do not think AP will be started by the self sacrificing, or that it�s
even necessarily a good idea to have that mindset when designing the
system. Bell also overestimates the enthusiasm that ordinary people
will have for AP by a long shot. I still have reasons to believe there
will sufficient customers, but they are not going to be primarily
heartland regular Joes, who Bell envisions watching AP�s deadly
progress with amusement. Bell also gives some slightly cockeyed
responses to a number of the objections to his invention. In fact
really the main thing I take away from his writing is the system
itself, not necessarily any of his justifications.

My friend and business partner, Bob Murphy presented some powerhouse
arguments against my pet theory in our recent columnist debate over
the infamous Assassination Politics concept. I contend that under
closer examination, his insightful questions can be answered

Additionally, Adam Young has presented a thoroughly researched
historical analysis against AP, which I will address first.

Young has three main points. First, that assassination has been
ineffectual in the past for destroying states. Second, assassinations
will instead create a backlash against anarchism by government and
citizens alike. Third he does not like the moral implications of the
very likely possibility of collateral damage from sloppy AP
prize-hunters, given the relatively poor caliber of historical

The first point, despite all its exhaustive research, is I�m afraid to
say, totally erroneous, because the mechanism by which AP kills its
victims is fundamentally different then assassination campaigns of the
past. I am not at all surprised to read that a handful of suicidal
ideologues gunning down a few unlucky aristocrats failed to exorcise
the nation state. Assume for the moment that AP�s basic functions
materialize (I will get to Murphy�s objections later). The pool of
assassins has instantaneously expanded from only insane political
extremists, to every single violent opportunist in the world who can
access a computer. AP represents a veritable full scale war against
the State, fought by the scum of society and funded by every partisan
malcontent across the political spectrum. A dozen assassinations per
century is certainly not going to give any politicians second thoughts
about their career choice, any more than the dozen or so plane
hijackings in the past 50 years makes me nervous seeing a turban in
business class. However, logically speaking there must be some tipping
point at which the body count is the most pressing statistic a
politician has in mind. AP will surpass this tipping point, where
history�s basket case revolutionaries were doomed to fail. The State
will of course respond in nasty ways, but inevitably these will prove
ineffective in the face of an impenetrable network supporting a
sustained and wide spread offensive.

Secondly, Young fears that AP will re-enforce the stereotype of
anarchists as the 19th century mad bomber and 20th century Starbucks
arsonist. This will then erase any chance of our winning hearts and
minds via soul stirring online essays, and worst of all, get the lot
of us gulagged.

What he fails to realize is the absolute lack of a reason for there to
be any connection between anarchists and AP. If AP were actually
launched, I for one would certainly not be publicly cheering it on (I
probably wouldn�t even risk staying in the country, having written
this article). The people who will be donating will not be doing so
for anarchist reasons, they will not assume they are furthering
anarchism, they will not make the connection. The targets also, will
not probably be prioritized as an anarchist would. Ancaps are too
small a group for our bets (if any) to be a major impact, thus if
occasional bettors are caught, they are statistically unlikely to be
one of us. The assassins will also not be Ancaps, unless any of you
have a mercenary streak you�re not revealing. If all goes well the
admins will either not exist or remain anonymous, and thus their
political angle is irrelevant.

With no anarchists predominantly involved in any of the core functions
of AP, or visibly supporting it, I don�t see why Young thinks that the
State will blame anarchists for the rise of AP. In fact, if my
predictions are correct, the assassins will primarily be the existing
criminal class. If the State picks any scapegoats, it will be black
militancy, or drug users, or the militia movement, etc, i.e. the
people who are actually attacking them. The Government did not condemn
anarchists for WTC, they blamed Islamic fundamentalists. Ancaps aren�t
being rounded up in detention camps, Arabs are. Despite the fact that
anarchists have often said things in the aftermath that amount to
"they had it coming to them." Which is more or less what I�m saying
here. Anarchists will have just as much to do with AP as they did with
WTC. The people who are going to suffer the brunt of the State�s
reaction are the actual instigators of violence, and if I read my
audience correctly, that will not be any of you. Do you particularly
care (aside from general aversion to Statist crusades) if the State
launches a crusade against crack heads and professional killers?

If the non-betting population experiences revulsion from AP at work,
its outrage will be directed at a disparate collection of political
interests and unrelated thugs. The State will undoubtedly ramp up its
enforcement regime in response to AP, however there is no reason that
anarchists would be singled out, when there are more direct threats

If the State does pick Anarcho-Capitalists as the source of all evil,
instead of some other arbitrary group like, say the Republic of
Ganjastan, then I advise us all to leave or prepare to be martyrs. At
some point things are going to get uncomfortable for non-statists
whether its Ashcroft Inc�s regular scheduled programming, or an AP
frenzy whipped totalitarian drive. I plan to be an ex-pat at that time
in either case. We can always come back in the aftermath, and start
the equivalent of Awdal Roads Company in the former US of A.

Third is the issue of collateral damage, which can be creatively
ameliorated within the AP protocol. Its conceivable AP players might
get in the habit of waiting for a number of high priced targets to get
in the same building, and then truck bombing the whole structure to
claim multiple big prizes, without concern for the dozens of
non-targets cut down along the way. The moral failure here, I believe,
lies solely with the assassin. However, my opinion is irrelevant,
because if the bettors themselves feel they are responsible and they
have a conscience, they will not bet for fear that the target they put
money on will take a hundred un-targeted coworkers down with him. Thus
AP needs to alleviate the moral obstacles bettors will face in order
to have the maximum revenue flow possible. The answer is to allow for
pools to be started with any number of stipulations. For example, the
prize for politician Z might include the following rule:

"If any bystanders are killed in the death of the target, 90% of the
prize money will be donated to a fund for their next of kin. The
remaining 10% will be distributed evenly to correct guessers via the
normal method."

Or some such wording that would serve to greatly motivate the assassin
to be careful in planning his attack.

By this scheme, there could be multiple prize pools for the same
target, each with different disclaimers. For example, in addition to
the 90% victim payout pool for Mr. Z, there might be a no questions
asked pool for the same guy. Presumably, the fewer rules there are
attached to the prize, the more likely an assassin will be to take a
chance at winning it. Thus bettors have to balance their moral qualms
about collateral damage versus their desire to see results. If they
care more about bystanders, they should bet into the rules heavy pool,
if they care more about eliminating the target, bet into the open
ended pool.

Unless there is overwhelmingly more money in the "kill by any means"
pool, the mere existence of the "kill carefully" pool, should convince
the assassin to be as discrete as possible so as to win both prizes.
So even if AP bettors are on the whole more bloodthirsty than socially
conscious, the few with some scruples will be able to have a large
impact on how AP players go about their operations. In fact if AP
players really did tend toward wanton destruction in order to hit
their marks, it might be in the best interest of people, who either
exist in close proximity to a top target, or have a general compassion
for bystanders, to bet into the constrained pool, even if they have no
desire to see the target dead, but for no other reason than to be sure
that when he does die, the assassin will hopefully be motivated by the
money in the conditional pool and avoid civilian casualties.

Young denounces AP on the grounds that it uses a tactic of the State,
i.e. "terror", against the State itself, and this is a reprehensible
flaw. Saying that AP is terror because it kills tyrants, is like
saying shooting a mugger is terror. Well, yes. If you were unfortunate
enough to live in a neighborhood inhabited by gangs, and got a
reputation for shooting harassers without hesitation, this would
effectively "terrorize" the gangsters into leaving you in peace, or so
goes the "armed society is a polite society" school of thought.

However, AP does not even qualify as terror in the political sense.

The precise political science definition of terrorism is "a group that
uses force against an intermediate target in order to bring about a
desired decision from an ultimate target". In other words, a terrorist
is ill equipped to directly attack the hated government, so instead he
blows up a school bus, and issues a public ultimatum that unless the
government meets some of his petty demands he will strike again. The
logic being that the government is incapable of protecting every
school bus all the time, and the terrorist has nothing else to do but
plan his next bombing, so he can essentially strike at will. He hopes
that eventually the State will tire of this harassment and acquiesce,
usually because the population becomes exasperated at the government�s
ineffectual attempts to stop the attacks, and it is in danger of
losing its power, not due to any compassion for the school kids.

AP does not follow this model, primarily because, unlike the
terrorist, it can indeed strike the ultimate targets directly and does
not need to play deadly games with intermediate symbols. If anything,
AP should be described as guerrilla warfare.

Even if the effects of AP end up being terrorist in the popular sense,
this is wholly different from say Al Quaeda plotting together in some
dusty bunker. AP is a decentralized system unlike anything ever
before. Without a central decision making body like a terrorist cell,
the targets selected by the AP patronizing public will reflect its
user�s ideologies. AP will only use explicitly terrorist tactics, if
its users overwhelmingly have terrorist inclinations themselves, which
given the superior abilities provided by AP, is an unproductive course
of action and a waste of money.

I hope that is a decent response to Young�s excellent article. On to
Mr. Murphy�s piece.

First Murphy doubts the feasibility of AP with the very legitimate
concern that if the system were truly an impenetrable secret to all
investigators, there is nothing stopping the AP operators from
pocketing all the donations, yet claiming winners had been paid,
resting on the impossibility of discovery, and the robbed winner�s
desire to remain anonymous (since he�s probably got blood on his
hands). A better scam might involve creating artificially high
bounties, and then only paying out what�s actually in the pot. Since
if there are multiple bets on the same day, the prize is split evenly
between them, the assassin will not know if he has been cheated or if
there are actually were enough other random guessers to dilute his
prize down to the share he actually gets. The administrators could
also skim off a healthy chunk too, and no one would be the wiser. This
would probably be the best way to for the admins to dishonestly game
the system, so that they enrich themselves; the assassins are
disappointed but not given proof of treachery; and the bounties are
higher than normal, thus enticing more gullible thugs.

So is this really a problem? Seems to me the system still works
exactly as planned whether the admins are honest or not. The only
problem is getting people to trust the system in the first place,
which I�ll cover in a minute.

If we assume that the admins� purpose in creating AP is to make as fat
a profit as possible, then they will not want to blatantly rip off hit
men, for fear that word will inevitably get out among the criminal
population that AP isn�t on the level. However, even in an extreme
case where the admins do embezzle every penny, it doesn�t matter.
Since very few people involved with AP will be actually killing
anyone, only a tiny minority of users will feel they have been
cheated, while the greater number will be convinced they got their
money�s worth. Thus they will continue to use the system. Future
assassins not in communication with their gypped colleagues will also
be led to believe others have been paid. Thus everything still works,
money goes in, prizes are accumulated, and targets are eliminated.

If the admins really are capable of hiding all evidence and expertly
conning the system, then the system will indeed be conned, and so well
conned, that it will continue to run despite being conned over and
over. The only problem is if this possibility prevents people from
ever starting to bet and becoming convinced they are being dealt with

There are two answers to this: the AP business can slowly build trust
with less extreme versions of itself, and also the overlooked fact
that people have surprisingly high tolerance for potentially
fraudulent online services.

To establish itself as an authentic operation, AP might be introduced
not as a full fledged death machine but instead as a low key betting
pool system whereby users could put money on sporting events or guess
the day certain celebrities will get divorced, and other trivial
wagers. The selling point is the hardcore anonyminity feature for
users in harsher nanny states. In this relatively low risk phase,
winners could have the option of being publicly announced for ego�s
sake, and this would prove the system operated as intended. Then
gradually more and more sinister bets would be allowed until it
becomes completely un-moderated and AP is born.

Such a system would not be nipped in the bud, as Murphy predicts, as
there are countless underground betting organizations currently in
operation, and proto-AP would arguably be even more secure from law
enforcement, by benefit of its exclusive existence on the internet
with solid encryption and no face to face contact among users. Even at
the intermediate semi-morbid phases its possible proto-AP would not
garner significant government attention. Look at this

Clearly harmless, but the fact it has garnered no legal complaints is
a good indicator that real-AP would be able to go on the offensive for
some time before the Feds figured out where the threat is coming from.

I also still think the best idea is to design an autonomous system
with no publicly identified administrators even in the proto phase,
whether this will become feasible with future developments in
cryptography remains to be seen.

Even if AP did not go to the trouble of gradually building a customer
base, does not necessarily mean it will fail. Examine the case of
online gambling. Here we have people putting there money on games
where the "house" can completely manipulate the odds in its own favor
simply by changing a few lines of code, and the user will never know
unless he takes detailed notes on winning percentages. They do not
even have a reputation at stake like a traditional Las Vegas casino,
which could do the same with its electronic slot machines. If a Vegas
outfit says its slots pay out 99% or something, people who have no
good reason to trust that, still play by the thousands. Many people
are unaware that the Nevada Gaming Commission even exists, and
virtually none have any idea how good a job they do at enforcing
gambling regulations. And inexplicably they play online versions of
these same dubious games too, where they have far less control, and
nowhere near the trust of a "reputable" brick and mortar casino.
Online gambling rakes in millions, despite obvious security holes and
opportunities for abuse. An indicator that even if AP is not fool
proof as far as protecting bettor�s money from the admins, people will
still donate and predict. Maybe they�re just stupid, and maybe the
online casinos are actually honest.

Murphy also points out that if politicians resort to holding Congress
inside a NORAD bunker, then any information about deaths inside the
mountain can be easily manipulated by the government, thus disrupting
the rewarding of correct guessers. I doubt this will be an effective
countermeasure against AP. If the outside world never knows that the
Feds are lying about death dates, then potential assassins would not
be aware their successful hits might be in vain. They would then still
have motivation to mount their attacks, and only afterwards realize
the government�s press corps has cheated them out of their prize.
However, the people donating money have still gotten what they want: a
dead politician, and thus will continue donating. Since the assassin
will presumably either be dead, captured or in hiding, he will not be
able to warn anyone that the government is using information warfare
against AP. Thus the system continues as planned.

On the other hand, if it becomes common knowledge that the government
is not a reliable source of information, then it will be up to the
assassin to make the real death date known. Perhaps acquiring a tissue
sample from the victim and anonymously forwarding to independent
media, or videotaping the kill shot with some kind of provable date
stamp. This means the assassin has to take extra risk in getting close
enough to the body to grab some proof, or accidentally providing
incriminating evidence on tape, and also risk further exposure in
contacting the media. If the AP server is run autonomously, it will
have to be programmed to take into account the relative
trustworthiness of misinforming government sources versus potentially
nutcase indy media, and then make a decision as to the actual date of
death. If the information is too ambiguous, then it might extend prize
percentages to predictions on neighboring days, based on the
probability of being correct. In light of this possibility the
assassin would be smart to take out high interest loans and dump his
entire net worth into bets on days all around the planned kill date.

In light of this development the assassin will have to take more risks
and thus insist on a higher prize before taking his chances. Thus this
government strategy will only serve to increase the equilibrium price
of assassinations, just like their moving into the bunker itself.

Matt Apple, brought up a similar potential scam on the forum:

"Another problem is the targets could fake their deaths. Suppose I'm a
powerful person you've targeted. I just buy a day and then fake my
death on that day. I put out a phony death certificate, maybe I even
provide some gruesome staged photos of me lying dead. The media
reports me dead and the operator releases the dough to the "guesser"
ie me. As soon as the anonymous transaction is completed I appear on
camera at a live press conference and announce that the plans of the
evil electronic terrorists have been foiled and that in an ironic
twist I'm donating the bounty they had on my head to the FBI. If this
happened just once then all the people pumping up those bounties will
lose their faith in the system."

If the media is so blatantly lied to, then more so than the AP
bettors, the media itself will not believe future death reports. They
will want to take pictures at the autopsy or do whatever it takes to
have ironclad proof that this guy really is dead. If the media becomes
an overt tool of the state, there will still be people who demand an
objective news source, whether they are AP sympathizers or not. This
demand will support the Matt Drudges of the world who will find a way
around mainstream hegemony, and AP can be programmed to ignore statist

Murphy doubts that my army of gutter trash will be able to make a dent
in the ruling class. Perhaps he�s right that the average street
hoodlum will only be successful in killing mid level bureaucrats that
the State can�t afford to lavish security on. However if that were
true, is it really such a crucial flaw? If AP bettors come to realize
that the tiptop of the pyramid can find impenetrable missile silos to
hide in, then it�s no longer cost effective to chase them with ever
higher donations. Like any institution, the State clearly needs
support personnel, and even if they do choose to hide in Mt. Cheyenne,
they still need people on the ground at the very least to crack heads
and collect taxes to keep the lights on down in their hole. If AP
bettors become frustrated that the juicy targets are out of range, the
next level down is going to take the brunt of it in the face. It might
be fun to be a storm trooper, but if suddenly you, due to lack of
options, become the priority target for the assassination market,
maybe its time to turn in your badge and go back to vocational school.
Additionally if you are an ordinary citizen who has up to this time
not been involved with AP at all, but suddenly you notice that the tax
collectors who stay above ground are getting executed with alarming
frequency, you might be more inclined to gamble on fudging your
returns or not paying at all, and hoping that the constant harassment
provided by AP will prevent the revenue harvesters from noticing you.

If the State is denuded of its agents and means of interaction, then
it is just as harmless as if it had been chopped up directly.

However, it would naturally be more efficient to strike the root. AP
would reach its end goal quickest, with the least collateral damage,
if assassins were able to hit the politicians even in their
super-bunkers. There�s an argument that there is some upper bound
beyond which additional funds will no longer influence the odds of an
assassination taking place. Meaning that if $500M is not enough to
convince anyone to take a chance on the target, $5B probably won�t
either. That may be the case for individuals, but not for groups of AP
players. If a mercenary or terrorist group became interested in
mounting a multi-person operation like the WTC attack, then the higher
the bounty gets, the more equipment they can buy and more personnel
they can recruit for the plan. If say, there were multi-million dollar
bounties on Saddam Hussein (a safe example) and all his top generals
and lieutenants, making their bunker a concentrated mega bounty, it
could become worthwhile for some para-military unit to risk a raid.
The highest paid professional mercenaries in the world are employed by
Sandline International and, according to the UN (who wants to ban
their line of work), they make no more than $300,000/yr. That�s not
chump change, but for someone who rides shotgun in a chopper chasing
down African guerrillas for a living, the extra risk driving into
Baghdad might be worth the hazard pay offered by AP.

Taken to its logical conclusion, if there were enough extremely high
bounties on a country�s leaders, who were all clustered into one spot,
no matter how well defended, it could be cost effective for army sized
forces to be mobilized to seize the prize. So even if the top brass
did hole up in the ultra bunkers, entire legions of militiamen or
other adventurous chaps might come a knocking to snag all those

Murphy goes on to say that the average Americans will be horrified by
the idea of AP. True, the 50% of the population who don�t bother to
vote probably will not feel their time is well spent influencing the
political system by AP or any other method. Of the other half,
probably the majority has no deep interest in the issues or
understands anything beyond doing one�s civic duty. Of that slim
percentage that actually have strong to passionate views, whatever
they may be, therein lies AP�s demographic. What Bob fails to realize
is that AP bettors will not know what they are doing, long term. Very
few people are going to consciously decide they want to get rid of
government and put money on it. Instead they will donate money against
specific politicians in the hope it will help advance whatever pet
cause they clutch so dearly. Think if AP were in place back in the
2000 election. Are you a greenie who can�t stand the thought of oilman
GW raping poor Gaia? Give AP some of your weed money and see what
happens. Are you a good ol� boy who thinks eco-feminist Al Gore will
send the beloved US of A the way of the Roman Empire? Put off buying
that new truck and see what AP can do. Even the most authoritarian
bastard who ever cast a ballot can list some Statists of a slightly
different breed that rub him the wrong way. Do you doubt the gun
culture would pass up on an opportunity to bury some liberals, or for
the religious right hypocrites to take out some of the godless queers
in Washington, or radical feminists putting their 79 cents on the
dollar against Deep South carpetbaggers? And more importantly than
private citizens, don�t forger corporate-statists, like Big Ass
Subsidies Inc who�s pocket politician might lose to the candidate
who�s platform calls to spend the loot on some other boondoggle.
Surely they can afford a million dollar write off if their spot in
line at the trough is at risk.

The point is that maybe Mrs. Soccer Mom has no strong opinions and
would never think of placing a bet, but there are many, many people
with strong political views, regardless of what they are. Surely the
more diehard or less moral will see that they increase the chances of
their guy winning, if the enemy is scared off by a rising AP tab.

And the boiling frog effect comes into play as AP makes its mark on
the world. When the state predictably increases its enforcement
measures, more people will see it in their best interest to bet
against encroaching fascists.

If you doubt Americans will buy into this system in relevant numbers,
I will repeat the point from my first article that Murphy did not
address. I can concede that Americans will refuse to play, or that the
Feds will manage to protect themselves (I don�t) but that does not
mean AP cannot be effective. Ignore the NATO countries for a minute.
Imagine AP taking root in some exotic locale like Nigeria for example.
I bet a lot of those relatively well to do white farmers might take
the opportunity to go online and put some money against Mugabe. I also
think that one of his sadistic henchmen might be able to do the math
to see that the AP prize is greater than his entire combined future
earnings. The downside of the Third World is the lack of
communications infrastructure, but in the coming years, ever cheaper
electronics will make that less and less of an obstacle. The upside of
course, is that the leaders are rather absurdly unashamed of their
predations, and very frequently there are large contingents of people
who adamantly hate them. Furthermore add that these States have less
sophisticated means of combating online activity it disproves of, and
the fact that the population is used to politicians forcefully
attempting to grab the throne. Conclusion is that many of the
potential objections that apply to America and the "civilized" world
are not to be found at all south of the equator. This could be an
interesting test bed for the protocol. If it works, we get another
blossoming Somalia. If it fails, well, the country was a hellhole
before anyway.

Murphy says that if AP works well enough to destroy the state, it
won�t stop there and will completely shred civilization.

He claims for example that just as disgruntled citizens can axe
politicians at will, laid off workers can axe their cost cutting
former employers, and that any defenses the private individuals can
use, will be even easier for the state to use.

This is wrong on both counts. Not only is it harder for capitalists to
be killed, they can defend themselves from AP easier.

First of all, there are vastly more high ranking business owners than
there are high ranking bureaucrats. If the AP betting population
suddenly gained an all consuming irrational desire to destroy
capitalism, it would take a far greater monetary investment against
businessmen than politicians, to reach that tipping point where
targets are scared away from their positions.

Furthermore, each individual businessman has a much smaller pool of
people affected by his decisions. Whereas everyone in the country has
to deal with the onerous decrees of the gang in Washington, there are
many orders of magnitude fewer people dependent on any given board of
directors. Presumably, people who don�t work for that company will not
be very inclined to donate money, just as not many Americans would bet
against Italian party chiefs. Therefore if the boss does manage to
royally piss off the workers, he has much fewer potential bettors
against him. These are people who have just lost their source of
income (with no welfare to look forward to), and have fewer
co-conspirators; they will not be able to produce nearly as enticing
bounties as those that public officials will accrue. Keep in mind that
people who bet against politicians will be expecting their incomes to
rise in the absence of taxes, and thus be more likely to bet higher.

More importantly, the boss knows who they are. If murder is being
considered its likely due to them being whipped into a fury by some
mafia goon union boss. The CEO has much more money at his disposal
than an unemployed working class gang. If the union leader agitates
his followers to wreak AP based revenge against the CEO, he can�t
expect to survive either. Anyone who attempts to rally workers to
donate their already dwindling cash reserves into pointless vengeance
will see his own name rising on the list faster than the CEO�s. The
population of an entire state will be large enough that the number of
independent people willing to put money against their powerful enemies
will not require there be anyone egging them on. In order for smaller
interest groups to get their petty revenge, a more coordinated effort
is required. Harder still is that the potential victims have a much
more conveniently sized body of suspects to watch, compared to
politicians who are being targeted by anonymous bettors hiding among
millions or billions.

And better still, if the CEO knows whom he fired and who is
threatening him, then everyone else knows as well. Would you hire
workers who had paid for the assassination of their last employer? If
a group of people are fired and their ex-boss is subsequently the
target of a fat AP prize, then the entire group will immediately be
blacklisted by every other employer. This will provide a huge
incentive for individual workers not to toe the union line. Their own
reputation and future employability rests on breaking their
professional relations civilly or at least without bloodshed.

This situation might instead just serve to impress upon corporations
the need to be more careful in their hiring and firing. Only take on
workers you really need, and only let them go after careful
consideration, and in that event, possibly firing them in smaller
batches, rather than mass lay offs. Nevertheless this may indeed grant
more power to workers. We must remember that not all corporations are
nobly building wealth in spite of government machinations.
Occasionally there really are scumbags who abuse employees, is it such
a disaster if such people fear lethal retaliation for their misdeeds?

Another dystopian fear is that AP will support murders between
non-famous people over petty frustrations. A scumbag husband wants to
get out of a divorce without losing half his wealth, so if he thinks
an AP bet worth a quarter of his wealth will get the job done, and
does so. An unrelated party kills the wife, scumbag cuts his losses
nicely, and the wife is horrendously aggressed against with no chance
of justice for her family.

Yes this is a problem that AP would exacerbate. Choosing your spouse
carefully has always been good advice. However, if the wife�s lawyers
checked the AP records and found there had been a substantial prize,
despite her being a generally well liked individual, they would decide
that the "unrelated" killer might not be such a random tragedy after
all. And proceed to hire detectives to investigate the ex-husband�s
financial records to find a similarly sized hole. Even if he expertly
hid all his transactions with encryption and such, the sheer lack of
other suspects may lead an arbitration committee to demand the husband
prove his innocence. I assume hiring an assassin to initiate
aggression will be a crime in Ancapland, but I will let others debate

Like the threatened businessman who knows who his potential threats
are, in the case of an innocuous unknown being the victim of AP, it
will be easy to discover the few or single person that has motivation
to invest the significant money involved. AP in fact hurts the chances
of the anonymous petty murderer, because the record of one�s prize is
public. Anyone who cares to investigate the death of an AP victim can
see exactly how much it cost. If the victim had few enemies, it is a
simple matter to make the connection between the specific sum and the
likely suspects.

Compare this to the case of a low level bureaucrat that Murphy
complains is just as vulnerable as the rest of us. He is right in
saying that it doesn�t require one big bet, only lots of little bets.
However, unless the bureaucrat has managed to piss off all those
people placing the little bets, they won�t happen, and he is safe. If
the bureaucrat has managed to do so then there�s probably a reason he
deserves it. People in the phone book though, probably do not have
multitudes of enemies, and thus are safe from all but an exceptionally
wealthy psychopath, which I imagine are few and far between.

As for the extortion scheme that Jim Bell rather awkwardly argued
against and Bob accurately deflated. The problem there is that the
extortionist needs to have enough money of his own to actually place
the bet that will attract assassins to his victim.

Fortunately, extortionists usually ply their trade because they don�t
have any money. The thug could bluff, but if called on it, he has no
bargaining chips in this case, like an old fashioned significant other
duct taped in the basement.

If he actually does have the money and the victim calls his bluff, if
he goes through with his threat, he has just spent a shit load of
money to kill someone for no reason, and with no return benefit to the
extortionist. Not a very profitable scam.

If he does convinces the target to play along, he still has to
communicate his threat. Such exchanges usually involve some amount of
negotiation, or complicated instructions that require communication.
The extortionist has to sacrifice a lot of anonyminity to pull his
crime off. This weakness gives the presumably deep pocketed target
plenty of opportunity to spend some of that ransom on private
detectives to locate the extortionist. The criminal in this case has
no human shields to prevent a raid.

The benefit of AP is to allow anonymous assassination contracts, in
both the case of the vengeful labor leader, and the crafty
extortionist, both lose that shield and leave themselves wide open to
retaliation from the greater resources of their chosen enemies.

Another concern mentioned on the forum, is that the State, with its
trillions of revenue will actually invest money into AP to off its
political opponents. This is a pretty ridiculous proposal.

First of all, the enemies of your enemies are not necessarily your
friends. If the State pays an AP assassin to shoot some, say,
ultra-lefty criticizing them, are we really that much worse off? In
fact, I�d be overjoyed to see politicians taking out AP bets against
their opponents for the most part. Why should a democrat spend
valuable campaign money on advertising when he could just pay to have
his republican opponent drop out of the race permanently? Libertarians
are rare enough that I doubt we present a serious enough threat to the
State compared to their fellow parasites scrambling for the best suck
spot, that they�d spend money to attack Harry Browne instead of their
opponent in the primary who has a real chance of ousting them.

Another problem with this supposed counter strategy is that it�s
entirely unnecessary. If the State really wants to kill someone, they
already have all the tools; they don�t need to spend money on AP. They
could just give Lon Horiuchi his normal paycheck and have him snipe
whomever they don�t like. It�s not as if they ever get in trouble for
it, even when they aren�t exactly subtle. It doesn�t make sense for
them to pay for secrecy they don�t need.

Finally, this plan would backfire, because if the admins are
anarchists, and they take a commission, then the State, by playing AP,
is directly enriching someone who will re-invest his profit against
State targets. Also, the assassins don�t care who they kill if the
money�s right. The State is also enriching people who will be just as
happy to come back and shoot Statists, now with more resources to plan
hits too.

Bob concluded by essentially saying that the only way to anarchy is an
enormous campaign of rational evangelism. He disapproves of the
whirlwind anarchy in Somalia and similar power vacuums. I disagree. I
see much more hope for building Ancapland out of the lawless ashes of
a Somalia, than of gradually subliming the promised land out of the
monolithic State in an America. If AP does prove the alarmists right,
and crashes society into an apocalyptic period, (I do not think this
is the case) still, such a turn of events will be in the long run an
easier path to Ancapism than the intellectual erosion strategy. Murphy
points out the example of the bloodless revolutions in Eastern Europe.
To which I respond derisively, what revolution? They traded hard line
Russki-communism for soft line Euro-socialism. That�s even more of a
joke than American style Republicrat lesser-evilism. Stasi agents all
retired on embezzled millions, and now the Great Terror War is
inviting domestic espionage back in force all across the Continent.
The only revolution that arguably has ever made recognizable progress
is the American experiment, which is notable for killing employees of
the previous regime by the thousand. If Thomas Jefferson could have
emailed digicash to pub brawlers in London, or scheming heirs in
Buckingham palace, mad King George�s confused reign would have come to
a deserved end before he could futilely attempt to reclaim his
rebellious colonies. The point being, in order to get anarchism, I
don�t think it�s a question of getting the balls to start sledge
hammering the Berlin Wall and hope the Kalishnikov toting border guard
respects the numbers presented by all your fellow civil disobeyers. If
the only fall out is a different set of thugs being in charge
tomorrow, there will of course be less State resistance than if the
entire thug industry is being called into question. If you want real
change as in no more thugs, ever, then the top thugs aren�t going to
budge until they have no other choice. The ultimate conclusion then is
that if anarchism takes a revolution of the non-bloodless variety,
there�s no reason why the fighters shouldn�t be backed up by a means
to get at the higher ups. Or better yet, replace the fighters entirely
with anonymous assassins and strike exclusively at the heights of
power. I know I don�t want to spend much time huddling in trenches.

It undoubtedly sounds arrogant, but I would say that less than 1% of
global population has any concept of how the world (i.e. economics)
really works, and of those that do, most have got it horribly wrong.
However, when they are forced to suddenly make do for themselves in
the absence of authority, as is the case of Somalia, Ancapism
spontaneously appears without the presence of wise graduate student
mentors preaching Mises. It sure would be nice, naturally, if Bob
could go over and warn them off from accepting UN overtures of
providing "stable governance", but the point is they were able to find
profitable anarchism on their own, with little to no knowledge of
economics and certainly no deep respect for pacifism. All it took was
the total destruction of their state, the means notwithstanding. On
the other hand if Murphy expects to get some percentage of the
population to side with him before picking up a hammer, he will
definitely be taking the long uphill route.

Murphy says that a generation growing up surrounded by headlines full
of dead famous people will be disastrous. I fail to see how this could
be more damaging than the scores of generations stretching back into
history that grew up with headlines of how great the State is. The
Somalians lived through generations of war, where life was made quite
cheap, yet now they are Africa�s best chance.

If AP worked perfectly and stripped the state away by force in a
relatively short time frame, people will be thrust into unfamiliar
territory. No doubt in their confusion they will attempt to recreate
State functions. These will be torn down again and again. Like a child
getting its hand slapped every time it reaches for the hot stove, AP
will discipline the world that concentrations of power are bad. In the
mean time, if Murphy is able to patiently explain to the bewildered
why this is the case, so much the better, but either way, there will
be no more State, and they will not have a choice in the matter.
Murphy is essentially advocating a Taking Children Seriously approach
to enlightening the collectively childlike population. I would rather
just smack them until they stop and maybe explain briefly afterwards

Lastly, it seems clear to me that AP is superior because it is a
market process. People exchange value for perceived value. They invest
their money for the benefit of removing aggressive people from
society. On the other hand, Murphy is advocating a "educate the
masses" routine that depends solely on he and his colleague�s
dedication to the cause. Not to disparage his efforts, honestly, if
anyone can do it, the current crop of anarchist intellectuals has got
my fullest confidence. However, I really don�t think anyone is going
to listen until they are already living in it. I see the economic
wizards role as after the fact guides in the new wonderful world of
anarchism wrought by AP and other market strategies. Once everyone is
stuck in their regional equivalents of Somalia, and wondering what the
hell just happened, Bob and co, will step in and say, "Hey, isn�t this
great, look how much more we can get done now!"

And people, who have been forced to find alternatives to formerly
government offered services, and no longer obey regulations or
sacrifice taxable income, will sit up and finally notice Bob, and say,
"What the fuck? Why haven�t we always done this? Thanks, Bob!"

Bob will then smile knowingly and go on a worldwide lecture tour.

Then from time to time, a few clueless bastards will try to "get all
the guns and take over". AP will mercilessly smite them. Life goes on.
In the meantime, I await the next round of objections.

August 15, 2002

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Robert Vroman is a non-violent person.

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