grarpamp at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 15:22:53 PDT 2022
August 14th, 2016 | Author: â—„Daveâ–º
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.Â 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
1. How can we translate the freedom afforded by the Internet to
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
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
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
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! â—„Daveâ–º
Posted in Anarchy, Debate, Liberty, Politics, Technical
« Importing War
Information vs Wisdom »
12 Responses to “Eliminating Authority”
August 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm
As long as the states are in cyber-competition with each other,
the nimble hackers will continue to win, and frustrate all attempts to
control the internet. As long as there is greed for power and wealth,
there will always be competition and a lack of real interstate
cooperation. Therefore, ultimately, Bell’s brilliant idea is
unstoppable! 😈 â—„Daveâ–º
August 15, 2016 at 8:24 pm
At what point does one believe the government or each state
for that matter does not have equally nimble hackers who will
ultimately find out who gets paid what?
It appears Bell relies heavily on honesty and integrity of
those in charge of “the system”. Honesty and integrity appear to be in
short supply these days.
My favorite part was about Howard Hughes and his ball
bearings. Leave it to a genius who is a little daffed. 🙂
August 15, 2016 at 9:45 pm
You have to understand the nature of public key
encryption, digital cash, and TOR to realize that the information is
simply not hackable, CT. Those operating “the system” don’t know, and
cannot possibly learn, the identities of the contributors or
recipients of the digital cash either.
The only question about their honesty and integrity, could
be whether they were actually paying off the winners, with all the
donated proceeds (less the agreed overhead percentage – probably 1% or
less). There are several factors, which would ensure they performed as
expected. One, would be competition. There could easily be dozens of
“systems” to choose from, and likely would be. Another, would be the
likelihood that a dishonest operator would soon end up on a list
himself. Then, it could easily become an completely automated process
operating on a distributed computing system, where no corruptible
human was even involved, much less in charge.
This understanding is part of why I predict that the idea
will be implemented, it will work, and there is nothing the
powers-that-(currently)-be will be able to do to prevent it. The
potential for the peaceful future of mankind is truly mind-boggling.
Too bad we won’t be here to enjoy it, CT; but at least we can stop
worrying ourselves, over the future for our posterity.
I enjoyed the Howard Hughes vignette also. 😀 â—„Daveâ–º
August 17, 2016 at 2:13 am
Since this earth plane has been in existence for eons
and has yet to achieve a state without war … my guess would be you are
correct we (you and I) will not be around to see it.
Frankly I doubt this playground will EVER ADVANCE to
that elevated state in our next 50 life times if there is such a
Perhaps it would be better to choose a more advanced
playground next time around … oh wait that would not be as much fun 😉
August 17, 2016 at 11:03 pm
…earth plane… …playground… …next time around…
Sorry, CT. This is more New Age word salad, which
is beyond my ken. 😉 â—„Daveâ–º
August 16, 2016 at 7:11 am
There is no HIDDEN flaw per se. But taking Bell’s paper(s) to its
logical conclusion would necessitate EVENTUALLY a total wipe-out. This
is Mad-Max syndrome but on steroids! In the end,(assuming
you/me/him/her) lived that long, what’s the point? Which is why when
Bell let loose “Assassination Politics” I rejected his
methodology/ideology outright, as being just too…………sci-fi! You may
disagree, as is your right, but I’ll take some very serious
August 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm
Iâ€™ll take some very serious convincing!
Great! I love a challenge… especially when the implication is
that a serviceable mind, is actually open to being changed!
Allow me to initiate the process, which I will take in chunks
with multiple replies. For fun, I will start with:
I rejected his methodology/ideology outright, as being
As a kid growing up in the ’50s, I devoured nearly every
sci-fi book in the library. I still think Robert Heinlein’s
libertarian-like philosophy had a subtle, yet profound, influence on
my own burgeoning contumacy, as I went through puberty, and beyond. I
was in the middle of reading his series of space travel and planet
colonization classics, when Russia launched Sputnik, so I wasn’t
surprised at all… only thrilled. Not having any idea that he would one
day become a rather disagreeable politician, John Glenn became a
personal hero, after his three orbit space flight only five years
later. To me at the time, sci-fi wasn’t just fanciful fiction, it was
thought-provoking predictions about the exciting future of mankind.
Electronics became my hobby, and I remember when I excitedly
got my hands on my first transistor. I built a simple AM radio
receiver with it, which was small enough that I was able to use it, to
surreptitiously listen to the World Series during class in the 9th
grade. Two years later, after mastering Morse Code, I got my Ham Radio
license and built my first transmitter. A mere 25 years later, I was
regularly communicating digitally via Ham Radio, with the
International Space Station as it passed over Hawaii, from my yacht
with a laptop computer, a 1200 baud Packet Radio modem, and a VHF
From my experience, it seems that all it takes is time, for
sci-fi to evolve into reality. Another example… do you remember the
Dick Tracy comic strip, with his fanciful wristwatch? Knowing what was
involved in building a 2-way radio, the notion that it could be
miniaturized into a wristwatch, was simply beyond the realm of
possibility to my young mind. By the time it evolved into a TV watch
in the ’60s, I had already had a part-time job in a TV repair shop,
while in high school, and was a technician in the US Army Signal
Corps. I knew how CRTs worked, so that idea was patently ridiculous. I
think about that often, when I answer my iPhone with my Apple Watch!
Dick Tracy’s lame watch didn’t even have text messaging, with the
ability to speak to Siri, which does an absolutely amazing job, of
converting my nominal voice into text for a reply. All, without ever
taking my phone out of my pocket!
How about the internet itself? I had my first internet
connection through a wormhole at the University of Hawaii, using that
same Packet Radio station from my yacht, back in the late ’80s. This
was before the WWW protocol was invented, and basically all that was
available to civilians, was university databases and libraries.
Everything was text based, because the 300 or 1200 baud modems
available at the time were so slow. Downloading a research paper could
take hours; but that it was coming into my yacht in Hawaii, from a
university in New York, was just mind-boggling marvelous. Now, just 30
years later, I have a cable modem that consistently delivers 60mb
broadband internet, simultaneously with a couple hundred HDTV
The technological changes that have occurred in my lifetime,
are truly amazing. I suspect that youngsters today have no idea, how
much we old farts have done to develop technology, for their welfare
and amusement. I submit that at this point, if the mind of man can
conceive it, technology can be designed to achieve it. This is
particularly true in the interconnected digital world. Any potential
obstacles to implementing Bell’s thesis on technology grounds, could
be rather quickly rectified.
…more to follow… â—„Daveâ–º
August 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm
Just to throw out a bit of a muse that I can’t quite
figure out yet. In this day and age anybody can carry in their pocket
the wisdom and knowledge of all recorded human history and every
technology known. All the great philosophers, leaders, and critical
minds works are at our finger tips. Yet we remain so stupid.
August 17, 2016 at 5:19 am
Ok Dave, I never disputed the scintillating technological
advances that have been accomplished during the past 60+years, with
perhaps the most significant during the last 20. However, I’m going to
change my mind to prove I’ve got one! I was wrong in my opening line
above. There is a hidden flaw and that flaw is Bell himself. Whilst I
never meant to dispute the technological CAPABILITY of his hypothesis
being accomplished, the man clearly is a wacko and I do not and will
not subscribe to wacko-politics. Sure, we all listen to the lunatic
fringe,(we have several in the UK and with the internet, their
platform(s) expands) but a balanced, logical mind says I’ve listened
and rejected it. On that, I shall not change my mind!!
Similarly, I dispute Chris’s sweeping generalisation –
…”We remain so stupid.” I disagree. I believe that the vast majority
of the silent majority are now apathetic to the speed of change
because of the speed of change. That, per se, now impinges on every
facet of life. And even with access to the world’s knowledge base at
the touch of a button, nothing, absolutely nothing replaces
common-sense. That, I suggest, is what we (and I do
generalise here), the current planet’s inhabitants, have forgotten.
Furthermore, we spend too much time just “doing” and far too little
time just thinking. If we thought more and did less, my guess would be
that Dave and Thoughts Aloud could replace Google!
August 17, 2016 at 10:49 pm
There is a hidden flaw and that flaw is Bell
himself. â€¦the man clearly is a wacko and I do not and will not
subscribe to wacko-politics. â€¦a balanced, logical mind says Iâ€™ve
listened and rejected it. On that, I shall not change my mind!!
More’s the pity. I preferred your original challenge.
This is the epitome of argumentum ad hominem, in its original meaning.
I was not intending to promote Bell’s political viewpoint, wacko or
not; I didn’t even mention it. My interest was only in discussing the
potential of his innovative ideas, for individual Liberty and peace,
in a world without rulers. Challenging ideas themselves, is always
fair game. Trying to discredit them, by attacking the character of the
man suggesting them, is not.
Imagine the book title, “How we Created Freedom in a
Ruler-free World.” ‘Wacko-politics’ is in the eye of the beholder.
Harry Browne was not a wacko by my lights; but he undoubtedly was
considered so by the oligarchs and their sycophants, who preferred to
perpetuate the status quo. Had Harry conceived of this solution to
“Why Government Doesn’t Work,” I have to believe he would not have
hesitated to openly discuss it. I, for one, would have listened
carefully, and searched for the hidden flaw in the idea, and could not
have found it in Harry’s basic political philosophyâ€¦
I have tried to move discussion of Chris’s “sweeping
generalization” over here: Information vs Wisdom â—„Daveâ–º
August 17, 2016 at 2:05 am
Yet we remain so stupid.
I am afraid we have not hit the bottom of the pit in stupid yet.
After all the arrogance of man is astounding to me. We can send a man
to the moon but can be build a GREAT PYRAMID? Are we really as smart
and as advanced as a whale or dolphin?
Sometimes I wonder if the average man is as smart as my cat …. I
am afraid my answer would be NO! … LOL 😉
jim bell says:
February 18, 2017 at 10:44 am
A very interesting discussion!
Jim Bell, author of the Assassination Politics essay.
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