1996-12-31 - Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice

Header Data

From: “Timothy C. May” <tcmay@got.net>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 6c4f561484a2781248cdb95572bc50c1cf27531fe8a331ae23ac0e2537d70814
Message ID: <v03007801aeef0dff9afe@[]>
Reply To: <9612302254.AA00731@cow.net>
UTC Datetime: 1996-12-31 18:47:04 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 31 Dec 1996 10:47:04 -0800 (PST)

Raw message

From: "Timothy C. May" <tcmay@got.net>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 1996 10:47:04 -0800 (PST)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice
In-Reply-To: <9612302254.AA00731@cow.net>
Message-ID: <v03007801aeef0dff9afe@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 5:54 PM -0500 12/30/96, Bovine Remailer (Red Rackham, apparently) wrote:
>At 5:15 PM 12/29/1996, Timothy C. May wrote:

>>It may be time for us to go underground. It may be time to take much, much,
>>much, much more extreme steps. This fascism is unacceptable.
>While Tim May has had many many great ideas, this is not one of them.
>To paraphrase Joseph Stalin: Tim, how many divisions do you have?

I'd say remailers have been a pretty powerful weapon in our arsenal, as
have been offshore sites, the "anarchy" of the Net in general, and, of
course, PGP and other such programs. The government clearly views strong
cryptography as a weapon, as a munition. More on this later.

>The cypherpunks have virtually no force at all.  If the battle is
>moved to that arena, the cypherpunks (and everybody else) lose big
>time.  If the cypherpunks manage to pull off some sort of "extreme
>step", those who aren't shot while resisting arrest will go to prison.
>Worst of all, most people will applaud the action.  "Extreme steps"
>legitimize the radical proposals of the Clipper crowd.

I gave up on trying to "appear reasonable" long ago. Take it or leave it.

"Extreme step" doesn't mean doing anything that is traceable to a
particular person, and certainly doesn't mean doing militia-type things to
physical buildings or the criminals who work in them.

Rather, pushing for things like violating the ITARs, which we do. (Bill
Frantz noted, tongue in cheek I think, that Cypherpunks do not adovacate
breaking such laws. Well, this is of course absurd. Our whole focus on
steganography, on remailers, on carrying CD-ROMs out of the country, etc.,
is basically advocating various circumventions of USG laws.)

Gilmore's SWAN (getting machine-to-machine links widely encrypted) is
another "extreme step."

As to our "reasonableness," I make little effort to hide the fact that I
support strong cryptography because it means that the plague of democracy
and "mob rule" can be turned back...I view crypto anarchy as an elitist
development, one which the ubermensch will appreciate, but the masses will
recoil in horror from.

Fuck the herd.

>The right approach is to continually reiterate that the cypherpunks
>are mainstream and fairly conservative.  Many of us like the "bad boy"
>image, but most of what has been proposed is very solidly rooted in
>American traditions.

But most of the active voices here are simply *not* "mainstream" and
"conservative" (except in some senses).

>If the ITAR regulations can be amended to make discussions on this
>list a "conspiracy", then they are very likely unconstitutional.
>Article I, Section I, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be
>vested in a congress of the United States..."

Careful, Red! Would it make you happier with the ITARs if Congress passes a
law enacting the regs? It won't make me any happier.

>We should not underestimate the broad public support for private
>communications which exists in the United States.  Even people who are
>unfamiliar with the issue are shocked when they learn that the U.S.
>government is trying to gain access to all communications.

I agree. But there are plenty of forums (fora) for "reasonableness" (some
would say namby-pambyness). EFF is one such "reasonable" forum.

Our focus is more radical. We are effectively a cyber-militia, fulfilling
Jefferson's recommendation that a revolution happen every 20 years.

(Funny, there hasn't been one in more than 200 years. Jefferson would
likely be shocked. And the Founders who revolted over comparatively
miniscule tax rates imposed by the King, would surely be stunned by the 50%
or more in taxes paid by many or even most taxpayers. And the laws of all

>The only people who want GAK are in the government.  There is no
>constituency in the population which wants it, and quite a few that do
>not.  The more publicly the issue is discussed and the more actively
>we scrutinize the lies and deceptions of the U.S. government, the
>more successful we will be.

>Red Rackham

I'll continue to be radical in my views. Nothing wrong with extremism in
the defense of liberty, as some wise men said.

--Tim May

Just say "No" to "Big Brother Inside"
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."