What is Crypto Anarchy?

Wikipedia defines “Crypto-Anarchism” as follows (2018-05-26):

Crypto-anarchism (or crypto-anarchy) is a cyber-spatial realization of anarchism. Crypto-anarchists employ cryptographic software to evade persecution and harassment while sending and receiving information over computer networks, in an effort to protect their privacy, their political freedom, and their economic freedom.

The term was coined by Timothy C. May in The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto which was distributed via the Cypherpunks Mailing List on 22nd November 1992. This document is essential first reading for the total newcomer and is relatively short.

Crypto-anarchy is a form of market-anarchism where cryptography, anonymity technologies, digital pseudonyms and cryptographic digital cash are used to subvert the power of the state. The stated goal of the crypto-anarchist movement is to enable people to engage in unlimited free speech and economic transactions which are beyond the reach of the state’s ability to tax and regulate.

Some see this as a way to restore balance between the rights of the individual and the power of the state. Others see crypto-anarchy as a tool to forever render the state impossible. It would achieve this by denying the state the ability to raise funding or identify individual actors for law enforcement purposes.

The more radical still, such as Jim Bell, propose using these same technologies to set up anonymously funded and trust-minimised Assassination Markets, where political assassinations can be crowd funded. He explained his proposal in detail in Assassination Politics. He theorises that such markets would make the job of being a politician or high-level bureaucrat so dangerous that, in the end, no-one would want to do it. The state would then, in his view, wither on the vine, chronically understaffed and starved of revenue by the rapidly growing crypto-anarchist economy.


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