Assassination Politics

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Sep 26 15:35:54 PDT 2022

The Dead Pool: Jim Bell’s crowd-funded ‘Assassination Politics’
06.05.2013 10:20 am
Topics: Current Events , Politics
Tags: Jim Bell

Richard’s epic rant yesterday on Ernst Stavro Blofeld Peter Brabeck’s
unfortunate remarks on privatizing water reminded me of an idea
developed by crypto-anarchist Jim Bell that was controversial even in
those circles and that (according to some) is what landed him in
Federal Prison in 1997, keeping him there on and off (mostly on) until

Bell’s idea and essay were entitled “Assassination Politics,” and if
you haven’t encountered it before, well, you’re in for a bit of a
shock, particularly as the nuts and bolts necessary are rapidly coming
into place: Anonymous and untraceable digital cash (leveraging
Bitcoin), uncrackable Internet traffic mixers in the form of the TOR
network, and TOR hidden services. (According to Bell the idea is
inevitable—it’s coming—though I’m personally quite skeptical of that
claim. But no matter…)

Basically, the idea is this: What if there was a system that took bets
on which politicians, military leaders or water-privatizing CEOs would
be assassinated and when? And what if the system preserved the
anonymity of any and all bettors and could pay those who “guessed”
correctly without identifying them? Using modern cryptographic
techniques such a system is indeed technologically possible and
described (see video below). Remember The Dead Pool, Clint Eastwood’s
final “Dirty Harry” film? Kinda like a high-tech crypto-anarchist
version of that, but seen as a practical way to destroy the Shitstem.
Big fun.

Now in case you’re tempted to believe that this is merely the dream of
a Libertarian crackpot, it’s worth noting that Bell not only received
a chemistry degree from MIT, he was a relatively early employee at
Intel and even started a computer storage company. In other words,
Bell, who admittedly is a bit of a weirdo, is most certainly not an
intellectually challenged man and the AP idea makes use of a
smattering of cryptographic techniques that have largely come to exist
in the years since he first proposed it. So it probably can be done.

So now, you might ask, What’s so controversial about what is
essentially a market for predictions? So what if people are betting on
the deaths of world leaders? We all have to die sometime. Well, the
key to note here is that the bettors can bet and get paid (if they are
correct) without revealing their identity or location (read: IP
address) on the Internet. Bell believed that this combination would
prove truly irresistible to certain murder-non-averse types who a)
Like lots of money and b) Like to kill people and, oh yeah, c) Who
don’t mind knocking off hated dictators or other “enemies of mankind”
(to quote Samuel Fuller). Indeed, according to Bell’s formulation, the
system is designed precisely to encourage someone to, let’s just say,
increase their odds of winning the “dead pool” substantially.
Universal hatred of a specific figure would increase the odds of his
or her impending transience greatly, as an enormous bounty is
accumulated via all the bettors betting on (and thereby encouraging) a
rapid demise.

In his essay Bell then went on to predict the collapse of world
governments as they are understood today, because it would become just
far too dangerous for even local petty bureaucrats to remain in their
position and alive at the same time. Further claims by Bell and others
predicted fewer wars, as aggressive military leaders got knocked off
via gaining the opprobrium of the masses (thereby accumulating a huge
payoff against his name) and then attracting legions of
fortune-seeking assassins, one of whom is eventually successful and
who can then cryptographically and anonymously collect his huge

Of course, claims of the end of war or even the end of governments as
we know them sound suspiciously like early comments about the Gatling
gun: It’s such a terrible weapon that no one will start a war again
(though it wasn’t too much longer before WW I showed us exactly how
insightful that comment was). And does anyone really want a world in
which, theoretically, anyone’s name can show up on a worldwide kill
list? That’d kinda suck for American Idol contestants and pundits from
the right and left. But the point here is that if the Brabecks and
Koch Brothers of the world keep trying to put the rest of humanity
into a great big headlock by attacking our water through fracking and
privitization (an interesting combination, BTW), people with serious
cypto skillz may get pissed off enough to actually build a secure AP
system and load it up with a couple of names. You know: just for fun.

In other words, Herr Brabeck, you might want to rethink your position
a bit. Do you REALLY want to make an enemy of practically all of
humanity? Just stick to poisoning the world with your powdered baby
milk formulas and candy bars and maybe you’ll live to a ripe old age.

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