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Ideas for liberty – the Jim Bell System revisited
Posted on December 20, 2021 by TPOL Nathan
A few weeks back, someone suggested in a comment that it might be time
to set up the “Jim Bell System.”
This idea, also known as a type of “Assassination Politics” was
invented back in 1995 by an anarchocapitalist (or crypto-anarchist)
seeking a way to directly address tyranny and the
seeking-to-be-omnipotent State. For details on his original proposal,
visit this website. It provides the complete series of essays he wrote
between 1995 and 1997. (For readers’ convenience, I’m providing an
extract of his proposal at the end of this commentary.)
But in brief, people use crypto-currency, digital cash, and online
encryption to establish organizations which are clearinghouses for
people to bet on exactly when some politician or leader or bureaucrat
– at home or abroad – croaks, and put their money down. As the pot
grows, lottery style, one of those bettors bets on a specific date and
covers his/her bet by ensuring (in some manner) that the subject of
the bet does indeed die. And then anonymously claims the stake
anonymously, in one or more forms of cryptocurrency which is
For those more interested, visit this website which more recently
exposed Mr. Bell’s invention and addresses the pros and cons of the
The Price of Liberty takes no stand on the entire idea. It is beyond
our limited understanding of encryption, anonymity, and
cryptocurrencies – or gold bars, for that matter – to be able to
evaluate. It appears feasible.
Although I do not think there is a connection, the proposal is very
much reminiscent of the major plot device in H. Beam Piper’s Lone Star
Planet, also known as A Planet for Texans from 1957, in which
Assassination Politics (AP) is the key feature of government on a
distant, long-colonized planet. It has even more in common with
another novel, which I often conflate with Piper’s story. On that
planet, all of the politicians in office wear explosive collars tied
wirelessly to a system of voting booths in which citizens can express
their disapproval of the politician’s actions. If the weight of votes
is sufficient, a signal is sent to the collar, and bang! – there is
one less dastardly politician infesting the body politic.
(If a reader can identify the forgotten name of that novel, please let
us here at TPOL know!)
But the Jim Bell System goes beyond that. The explosive collar idea
requires that there BE a government. As did Piper’s system. AP claims
to require NO organized government or even a public organization –
everything is done anonymously and online, using current technology
and methods. And although “legal” could function even if made illegal
Other than a fascinating look at an idea that is very much “outside
the box” the issue here at The Price of Liberty is a simple one. Is
this (as Jim Bell labeled it) a form of “murder by hire”? Or just
plain encouraging/inciting murder? Or is it actually a legitimate (and
moral) form of self-defense against those tyrants, large and small,
that infest our society, our nations, and our world? What do you, dear
And is it truly a solution, or just another idea (a form of
technology) that can be used as much for evil as for good? Would
government begin using this against the people? Would this open
Pandora’s Box anew? For almost three decades, free-market and other
anarchists and even minarchists have been discussing this. Is it time
to seriously consider this? Let us here at TPOL know.
>From Jim Bell’s third essay (found at this website):
…it should be possible to LEGALLY set up an organization which
collects perfectly anonymous donations sent by members of the public,
donations which instruct the organization to pay the amount to any
person who correctly guesses the date of death of some named person,
for example some un-favorite government employee or officeholder. The
organization would total the amounts of the donations for each
different named person, and publish that list (presumably on the
Internet) on a daily or perhaps even an hourly basis, telling the
public exactly how much a person would get for “predicting” the death
of that particular target.
Moreover, that organization would accept perfectly anonymous,
untraceable, encrypted “predictions” by various means, such as the
Internet (probably through chains of encrypted anonymous remailers),
U.S. mail, courier, or any number of other means. Those predictions
would contain two parts: A small amount of untraceable “digital
cash,” inside the outer “digital envelope,” to ensure that the
“predictor” can’t economically just randomly choose dates and names,
and an inner encrypted data packet which is encrypted so that even the
organization itself cannot decrypt it. That data packet would contain
the name of the person whose death is predicted, and the date it is to
This encrypted packet could also be published, still encrypted, on the
Internet, so as to be able to prove to the world, later, that SOMEBODY
made that prediction before it happened, and was willing to “put money
on it” by including it outside the inner encrypted “envelope.” The
“predictor” would always lose the outer digital cash; he would only
earn the reward if his (still-secret) prediction later became true.
If, later on, that prediction came true, the “lucky” predictor would
transmit the decrypt key to the organization, untraceably, which would
apply it to the encrypted packet, and discover that it works, and read
the prediction made hours, days, weeks, or even months earlier. Only
then would the organization, or for that matter anyone else except the
predictor, know the person or the date named.
Also included in that inner encrypted digital “envelope” would be a
public key, generated by the predictor for only this particular
purpose: It would not be his “normal” public key, obviously, because
that public key would be traceable to him. Also present in this
packet the predictor has earned. (This presentation could be done
indirectly, by an intermediary, to prevent a bank from being able to
refuse to deal with the organization.)
Those “digital cash” codes will then be encrypted using the public key
included with the original prediction, and published in a number of
locations, perhaps on the Internet in a number of areas, and available
by FTP to anyone who’s interested. (It is assumed that this data will
somehow get to the original predictor. Since it will get to
“everyone” on the Internet, it will presumably be impossible to know
where the predictor is.) Note, however, that only the person who sent
the prediction (or somebody he’s given the secret key to in the
interim) can decrypt that message, and in any case only he, the person
who prepared the digital cash blanks, can fully “unbind” the digital
cash to make it spendable, yet absolutely untraceable. (For a much
more complete explanation of how so-called “digital cash” works, I
refer you to the August 1992 issue of Scientific American.)
About TPOL Nathan
Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the
Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist,
Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer,
Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
View all posts by TPOL Nathan →
This entry was posted in Nathan's Rants and tagged anarcho-capitalism,
anarchy, assassination politics, crypto-anarchist, Jim Bell, liberty.
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10 Responses to Ideas for liberty – the Jim Bell System revisited
jim nbell says:
April 7, 2022 at 1:32 am
27 years ago, when I wrote the AP essay, it may have seemed far
too radical, far too extreme, to awful to even consider. Today, April
7, 2022, we have Putin attacking Ukraine, and people are wondering how
to take him out of his position. It is time for the AP system to
Pingback: How stupid do you have to be, to be a senator? | The
Price of Liberty
December 28, 2021 at 1:58 am
One other thing that I can see needing attention to. The person
who is named must be some government toady, or politician, or other
high profile person deserving of death. Otherwise, it is possible that
a vindictive person might place a couple grand on the head of his old
high school math teacher who made his or her life a living hell, just
to see if they can get them whacked.
Now, I might not be understanding this right, and this might not
be possible, and if so, forgive me, and forget I even mentioned it.
Another thing, before I lost my other computer, and all of the data,
including my saved books, i had a book that spoke about a group of the
people in the U.S. who got pissed with the government and started to
eliminate some of the government officers, like the BATFE’s and
personal assistants to Senators, the head of planned parenthood, an
odd Senator or Represenative, and then, as they became more bold,
people who supported them in the nation started to help with the task,
killing people like the DC head cop, etc.
The main person who started it was some retired SOF guy, with a
huge stockpile of weapons, of course, and friends. If anyone has an
idea of the name of this book I would love to find it and download it
again. someone sent the link to me, it was a freebie. I think it was
like 600 pages long, but a good read.
I am not saying that I would ever be involved in a scenario like
that, but if a civil war were to break out, that is probably the only
way to win it, just like the Vietnamese and the sort of how the
Afghans did, by being smart, and hitting and running. Although from a
few friends who went to Afghanistan told me that sometimes, the
Afghans were simply stupid. They would take 2 toyota trucks, full of
men with AK 47’s and drive up to the main gate, jump out and run to
the gate, while a SAW simply mowed them down, to the last man. The one
friend was from work, and he mostly rode shotgun from Kuwait to Bagdad
every other day. But when he was in Afghanistan for a month, he said
that 3-4 times he saw the trucks come at dusk to the gate, and the
guards simply let them get out, run up to the gate, and then mowed
Our shop gave this guy, a former Marine, and a member of the
National Guard or the Reserves or something, a computer, a bunch of
phone cards, I think, some things for his wife and kids, they treated
him really good. When he came back, within less than 2 months, they
fired him. Total jackasses. Trumped up charges, but they made certain
that their expensive lawyers were involved, so you cannot win.
TPOL Nathan says:
December 28, 2021 at 5:50 pm
Pigpen, that is an interesting thought. Is the Jim Bell System
“just” an anti-government method, or can it be applied to anyone who
is aggressing against people? And who limits the potential targets?
(And how?) For example, would the CEO of General Motors have been a
legitimate target (that is, violence in defense/for self-protection or
protection of your family) back in 1964 for producing the Chevy
Corvair? Or would the boards of Big Tobacco be legit targets for
selling tobacco? There are very thin lines here, aren’t there?
Many people agree with you that an unconventional, even
low-intensity urban and rural warfare is the best, if not only, way to
overthrow an entrenched tyrannical government. And that the more
violence and threatened violence against ordinary people and military
veterans and lovers of liberty is done, the more people are driven to
resistance: not just civil disobedience and passive resistance but
active guerilla warfare against the state and those they see as allied
to and supporting the state.
Situations like that you describe with the veteran can and
have led to such things in the past, even here in the Fifty States in
Yes, many Afghans were stupid – but a good many of those were
simply tools for the more cunning: religious fervor can lead to that
sort of suicidally-stupid action. But it still benefited the groups
and people resisting the occupation by the ferengi. And at the same
time, reduced the problems they faced during the US withdrawal (and
now): it “purified” the population of the most fanatical.
Slave Larry says:
December 21, 2021 at 5:28 am
“Bind them down with the chains of the constitution.” How’s that
worked out for ya. There is no justice in this life. They literally
“Believe” they are God. From POTUS to the local code enforcer. There
must be consequences or it just gets worse.
TPOL Nathan says:
December 22, 2021 at 11:54 am
Right to the point, Larry. Among others, Boston T Party and
Tom Knapp have pointed that that the Bill of Rights really doesn’t
have an enforcement provision. The impeachment process has been
demonstrated to be nothing but a political, partisan game – all image
and grandstanding. And Congress has virtually nothing – vote them out
of office? Come on! And recall elections? Depends as much on the
alternative person proposed as it does abuse of power or law-breaking
by the incumbent.
jim bell says:
December 23, 2021 at 1:32 am
Thank you for your coverage and comments. Jim Bell, author
of Assassination politics.
I occasionally do a web search for ‘ “assassination
politics” jim bell’.
I can usually be found on the Cypherpunks email list.
TPOL Nathan says:
December 24, 2021 at 6:36 pm
Jim, you honor me and all of us here at TPOL. You have
suffered much for the cause of liberty, and we salute you.
December 20, 2021 at 4:59 pm
Bell’s system needs a couple further things to be moral, in my opinion.
First, there can not be anything even resembling to a bounty.
Instead, some form of a bet needs to be in place. Maybe a betting
pool, where for a buck or a sawbuck, you get to choose a date and
That might actually be enough, though I’m also inclined to think
you need one thing more — a way to retract your “bet”. People change.
Situations change. I think that’s probably achievable with just the
outer wrapper. At the option’s expiration, either the original owner
can supply the key and redeem the coupon, or maybe you choose a
beneficiary — at expiration, your proceeds go to the orphanage or
whomever you chose.
Others buying into the pool could also see when various bets were
expiring. If the pot isn’t worth it, or won’t be worth it when a bunch
of the pot disappears next Thursday, he just doesn’t bet.
In this way, there’s always a way for someone on the list to
repent, and if enough of the pool assigned reasonable expirations, the
repentance can still have some worldly impact.
TPOL Nathan says:
December 22, 2021 at 9:58 am
Good thoughts and ideas. Remember Jim Bell first proposed his
idea quite a while ago, as far as technology and issues (and divisions
in the States) are measured.
More information about the cypherpunks