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Re: Pat Robertson Fears E-cash?

At 12:41 AM 8.2.95, Timothy C. May wrote:

>There is the "digital cash society" we fear as an Orwellian surveillance
>society, with all transactions recorded. This is perhaps the future
>Robertson fears.
>There is the "digital cash society" based on Chaumian schemes and
>untraceability, similar to a "hard cash" society without proofs of identity
>at every stage, and I suspect Robertson would find much to like about this.
>(There are also the implications which Robertson might recoil at, too. :-})
>So, hearing that "Pat Robertson is warning against a digital cash society"
>is not too worrisome to me. I suspect he means the stuff about Big Brother
>tracking us and the Number of the Beast, and so on.
>Don't forget he came out strongly against Clipper, early on.

And at 1:44 PM 8.2.95, Peter Trei wrote:

>The relevant verses are in Revelations 13, where some of the actions
>by which The Beast can be recognized are given. Among them are:
>16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and
>   bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
>17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or
>   the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
>Millenialist Christians tend to regard this as a method by which
>the faithful will be shut out of the economy, since the pious will
>refuse such a 'mark'.
>E-cash is a bit of a reach from this, but some of them (eg,
>Robertson), extend the verses to cover all forms of trackable
>transactions. I suspect that if someone could get him to realize the
>privacy aspects of true anonymous ecash, he'd like it.

        This antinumerical tradition is, relevant biblical passages aside
(see also Daniel, Ezekiel, as well as assorted HB and NT Apocrypha) a
Protestant Anglo tradition that stretches back almost a thousand years to
the census that came to be know as the Domesday Book. Pop opposition to
censuses and the like are, AFAIK (and I know pretty far on this subject),
all but unheard of among e.g. predominantly Catholic cultures (how many
govts has the Italian peninsula seen?).
        Robertson isn't approaching this question _primarily_ from a policy
or humanist-liberal standpoint--he's approaching from a religious
standpoint: his duty as a preacher is to warn fellow Christians against
falling prey to Satan's machinations. And since the assignation of numbers
to people is, he feels, such a machination and a sign of the endtimes,
"fear" perhaps isn't the best word to describe his take on the future
(which in his view is a very bounded entity): while filled with
tribulations in which many of the devout will fail, the events of this era
prefigure Jesus's imminent return. This isn't to say that, in the absence
of Jesus's return (an absence of which I'm quite confident), Robertson's
recommendations don't have a policy potential or political
ramifications--on the contrary, they very likely will. Given the fact that
there's a longish prehistory to Christian interpretations of SS #s, UPC
symbols, etc. as the Mark of the Beast, it seems more likely that
fundamentalists will tend to view _stable_ numbers assigned by impersonal
institutions as the MotB, rather than, say, interpreting public keys--which
people themselves can generate and revoke at will--as the mark.
        It's fine with me if Robertson mobilizes Christian soldiers against
the governmental fracturing of privacy (note the irony in his acceptance of
"privacy" as a legit philosophical-legal doctrine in this context,
BTW)--it's just a shame that he has to mix these issues up with idiotic
references to Chaum's religion of birth, as though that was significant on
a par with Chaum's work. Needless to say, though, I'm a secular humanist.