Whereas the pre-public-Internet world of the 1970s kept the masses distracted with drugs and sex and mass media, the post-World-Wide-Web world keeps the masses distracted with private surveillance media such as Facebook and related distractions.
Hedonism might serve some useful purpose, if the pursuit of pleasure causes the masses to revolt against a repressive socio-economic order, as happened in the Whiskey Rebellion.
The War on Drugs is ostensibly a War on Hedonism, but it is mostly a War on Civil Liberties. People who are initially motivated by a desire to intoxicate themselves with forbidden intoxicants might rapidly learn that their civil liberties must be protected, regardless of whether or not they can achieve intoxication.
(Further, humans who can overcome their desire for pleasure exhibit the capacity to ignore pleasure and to undertake difficult tasks for some higher purpose. This might manifest as asceticism or eudaimonism.)
Prior to Pizzagate, I tended to look forward to a world in which the NSA had been phased out and communications were private again. However, if Pizzagate is NOT exposed, the world will degenerate further, and if Pizzagate IS exposed, then there will probably be a public outcry against private communication. If the masses are aware that pizza-merchants kidnap children, the masses will probably support invasive surveillance and de-anonymization. Thus, I am not terribly hopeful regarding a future world in which I am free to use cryptography. Past visions of crypto-anarchy have depended heavily on taking root in a Western society that values privacy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.
In the past, I had often wondered whether cryptocurrency could serve as a weapon by which the masses could destroy the plutocratic power of banking oligarchies. If an untraceable cryptocurrency could be invented, it would tend to empower upstarts and anarchists, and would tend to depower existing bankers.
“The issue which has swept down the centuries, and which will have to be fought sooner or later, is the people versus the banks.”—John Acton (1834-1902)
Isegoria posted a very thought-provoking piece from Opaque.link, and I think several aspects deserve scrutiny.
I have been pessimistic about cryptocurrencies; I have feared that they are secretly controlled by bankers and plutocrats.
However, one of the posts at Opaque.link reads in part as follows:
Three main risks present themselves for Dropgangs:
Cryptocurrency tracing: Since all payments are conducted with cryptocurrency, the use of “Privacy Coins” has established itself within the Dropgangs. However, customers usually only have less private currencies available. This requires a functional exchange infrastructure between less and more private cryptocurrencies. This vector of attack is currently exploited by law enforcement.
Communication tracing: Dropgangs necessarily operate infrastructure to keep in contact with their customers. Law enforcement can potentially identify and track this infrastructure to find the operators. However, operators usually have access to sufficient anonymization technology and are well trained in using it.
Surveillance of potential dead drop locations: Potential dead drop locations can be identified and surveilled by law enforcement to find those serving them. This poses a number of problems for law enforcement. First, the number of potential dead drop locations is very high which requires a lot of resources to surveil to even catch anybody by pure luck. Second, it is hard to distinguish customer and supplier at this moment if the dead drop operator uses basic protective tradecraft.
It is likely that the black market will solve the cryptocurrency tracing risk soon. Technology in this field is developing quickly. It is likely that either new exchange methods are found, like peer-to-peer decentralized on-chain swaps, or that additional privacy layers are added to less private cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies like Beam and Grin both provide a reasonable amount of privacy while also supporting atomic on-chain swaps between them and widely accepted cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The other two risks are already handled well by professional operators in the field.
Just in case it wasn’t clear, here is the passage that I found shocking:
It is likely that the black market will solve the cryptocurrency tracing risk soon. Technology in this field is developing quickly. It is likely that either new exchange methods are found, like peer-to-peer decentralized on-chain swaps, or that additional privacy layers are added to less private cryptocurrencies.
That is big if true. If cypherpunks can make money that resists control by oligarchies of plutocratic bankers, it means that marginalized countries such as Venezuela will be free to engage in rebellious economic experiments without getting blockaded by Israel and its puppets.
I simply do not understand the technical discussion at the following link, but I am intrigued by the apparently humanistic approach to economics of the following:
That is where we are at. We went from trusted, to verifiable, to possibly trustless. The word I am missing in that enumeration is “trustworthy”. So far, we have failed to build systems that are worthy of our trust. When we have trustless however, do we really need trustworthy anymore? My view is that building trustless systems is very limiting from perspectives on complexity, economics, privacy and adaptability. Trustless systems are necessarily huge, needing many persons to cooperate according to the same protocol. This makes them vulnerable to error of specification and a changing environment. They are also inherently expensive to operate and likely will never be as fast and cheap a DBC systems. Let alone that they are likely never going to achieve the same strength of privacy – anonymity and untraceability – then blind DBC systems can reach.
I do however have an intuition that we might find ourselves evolving past trustless systems towards trustworthy systems relatively soon.
If an untraceable cryptocurrency could be invented, would the authorities simply double down on repression? I am inclined to think that Pizzagate will be at least partially revealed to the public, and thus the public will support repression of cryptocurrency in the name of fighting human trafficking. Ruthless law enforcement backed by outraged public opinion would likely make it possible to find and kill the people who use cryptocurrency, even if their data remains theoretically safe. If all the civilians who know how to use private cryptography are killed, then crypto-anarchy will only be possible as a subculture of elite thugs.
The forces of governmental violence – spooks, warfighters, and cops – are likely to retain crypto for their official use, even if crypto is denied to the public. One can envision many possible futures in which crypto-anarchy is not possible.
However, free speech existed before cryptography and does not necessarily depend on cryptography. Alternate methods of free speech can be devised that do not require effective cryptography. A simple example of a low-tech privacy measure is the private mail drop. A private company takes money from clients and receives postal mail for those clients. This does not defend against determined attackers, but it does defend against petty harassment.
Many thanks to Isegoria for making this possible with the post at: