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Black Cryptoanarchy (KKK, monopolies, contract killing)
I would like to thank Blanc Weber, Tim May, and Duncan Frissell for their
responses to my message on the subject of employer hiring practices and
liberty in a society. Tim and Duncan seem to be concerned with the freedom
of an employer to make whatever hiring decisions he prefers. Blanc seems
to be concerned principally with the soundness and health of the business
I am trying to understand the arguments for these points of view... I
consider myself to be extremely "liberal" in my political philosophy, and I
have a lot of respect for the arguments of libertarians. But I am
continually pulled back to the "test case" issue of racist employment
practices. This is the case where the argument is most difficult for me to
buy. I am not sure whether Blanc would hold that businesses should be free
to engage in racist hiring policies if that is their decision, but it seems
clear that Tim May does hold this position, and I understand that this is
in fact the classic libertarian position. The argument seems to be that in
a free society, natural cooperative processes will provide a form of
"autoregulation" to discourage the widespread development of oppression of
specific classes of individuals.
There further seems to be an assumption that the tools of strong crypto
will facilitate this system of checks and balances through natural
cooperative processes. I am not convinced. Moreover, it seems to me that
cryptoanarchy may in fact facilitate a new type of "mob rule". For
example, imagine the development of a multitude of secret "crypto-posse"
organizations. Individuals could join any number of these secret
societies, which might require some sort of dues payment for participancy.
They might be fleeting in duration, forming spontaneously to achieve some
specific aim (thus my term "posse"). Virtually everything about these
organizations could be secret -- their size, power, and even their very
existence. Participating companies could secretly create trade monopolies.
Organizations such as the KKK could accrue the financial support of large
numbers of members to create strong social and economic pressures to
oppress segments of the population in specific areas, yet the source of
these pressures may be impossible to trace.
Even apart from this, the availability of truly secure anonymity, strong
encryption, and untraceable digital cash could allow contract killing to be
an openly conducted business. For example, an anonymous news post
announces a public key which is to be used to encode a contract kill order,
along with a digital cash payment. The person placing the contract need
only anonymously place the encrypted message in alt.test. Perhaps it is
even possible to make it impossible to tell that the message was encrypted
with the contract killer's public key (the killer would have to attempt
decryption of all similarly encoded messages on alt.test, but that might be
quite feasible). Thus it could be completely risk free for anyone to place
a contract on anyone else.
If there is a reason why these concerns are unfounded, I would very much
appreciate hearing refutations. I certainly don't want any of these
possibilities to materialize, but I don't see any way around them in a
completely "cryptoanarchic" society.
Doug Cutrell General Partner
[email protected] Open Mind, Santa Cruz