1997-05-22 - Re: Cypherpunk criminalization

Header Data

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
To: cypherpunks@algebra.com
Message Hash: c342c37302713ced24e367c2bba24ac8179b2d2251fa54caada96a7e3aaead9c
Message ID: <19970521184119.00519@bywater.songbird.com>
Reply To: <97052117355649/0005514706DC6EM@mcimail.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-22 01:54:23 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 09:54:23 +0800

Raw message

From: Kent Crispin <kent@songbird.com>
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 09:54:23 +0800
To: cypherpunks@algebra.com
Subject: Re: Cypherpunk criminalization
In-Reply-To: <97052117355649/0005514706DC6EM@mcimail.com>
Message-ID: <19970521184119.00519@bywater.songbird.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Wed, May 21, 1997 at 11:41:08AM -0800, Tim May wrote:
> I almost never think government agents, even most rulers, are in any
> meaningful sense "evil."

Ah, good.  Sanity has returned for a moment.

> I've written in the past about "institutional" issues, and about
> Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil." The problems in the United States, with
> bloated welfare roles, a "policeman for the world" mentality, an overly
> litigous/litigious society, etc., come not from any personal evil on the
> part of the elected or appointed officials, but rather from an inexorable
> growth of certain institutions in predictable ways. Any enity, be it an
> organism or an institution, a living plant like a tree or a corporation
> like PGP, Inc., grows and thrives by how well it competes, how well it
> bends toward the sources of food and energy, and what genes or memes it
> received. "The purpose of any organism is to survive" is a telelogical
> truism, of course. But it is still true. All institutions--corporations,
> clubs, Cypherpunks--seek to prosper and grow, in various ways. Even if not
> directed by a central nervous system.
> In corporations, even individual departments seek to grow. This aids in
> career advancement. "Empire building" happens with countries, government
> bureaucracies, corporations, clubs, and so on.
> There are perfectlylogical game-theoretic reasons why the Washington
> bureaucracy has gotten so large, why every one of the 500+ Congresscritters
> has a staff of dozens working for him or her, why each of the dozen or so
> major Cabinet departments has dozens of buildings and thousands (even
> millions, as with DoD) of worker bees, why each entity in government seeks
> constantly to expand its scope and powers, and why the number of rules,
> regulations, laws, emergency orders, and edicts expands inexorably every
> day.
> "Evil" is not a useful way to analyze this problem. In this sense, everyone
> in government is an "innocent." But the problem still needs to be fixed.

I don't think this problem can be "fixed" in any meaningful way.  You
just argued that the problem is a consequence of "perfectly logical
game-theoretic reasons".  There is nothing in the crypto-anarchy
agenda or your revolutionary rhetoric that are going to make those
game-theoretic reasons go away.  "Meet the new boss, same as the old
boss".  The new boss may hide behind a cryptographic curtain, but he
will still scheme and plot to expand his power, and join with his
allies to attack his enemies, and after he has defeated those enemies
he will attempt to stab his allies before they stab him.  Thus it is 
with you; thus it is with me; thus it is with humanity.

Americans especially are spoiled: the European colonists, like
Darwin's finches, were able to expand freely into a whole virgin
economic ecosystem, and evolve to fit many unoccupied niches.  Now the
niches are full, and competition is hard.  Now those free-ranging
Americans have to deal with diminishing expectations.  All the free
stuff is gone; the pie gets cut into thinner and thinner pieces.  In
every field there are thousands of talented competitors.  In the
compressed time of high tech we now see patents on trivial and
picayune ideas that not too many years ago would have been considered
too obvious to bother with.  Groups of 40 scientists coauthor papers
concerned with esoteric minutia.  Musicians scrabble to get "their" 
music copyrighted.  Athletes talk about patenting their "moves".  

The frustrations of the bubba-cypherpunks with their ego-bolstering
arsenals are yet another symptom, same as the bubba-militiamen.  They 
fixate on the "gubmint" as the source of all that's wrong, hatch 
conspiracies, and keep muttering obscenities and veiled threats, until 
their imagined enemies become real.

> And in fixing these institutions it is unavoidable that "non-evil" persons
> will be affected. How could it be otherwise? Some will lose their careers,
> some their current jobs, some may even lose their lives. (No, this is not a
> threat, just a statement of the obvious, a prediction.)
> Innocents in Washington and elsewhere will, if they have any sense of their
> own future security, seek to avoid the institutions and power centers which
> will be affected by the necessary restructurings.

My friend, we are on this train together.  If it wrecks we are all at
risk.  You can hide in your abatis on your hill, but the protection it
offers is a complete and utter illusion.  There isn't going to be any
"restructuring" that doesn't affect us all.

Kent Crispin				"No reason to get excited",
kent@songbird.com			the thief he kindly spoke...
PGP fingerprint:   B1 8B 72 ED 55 21 5E 44  61 F4 58 0F 72 10 65 55