Re: Reichstag Fire and the October Raids (fwd)

Ron Resnick (
Sat, 13 Sep 1997 01:10:28 +0300

Some strange cypherpunk stuff Rohit FoRKposted. Using it as a springboard
to toss out a bunch of thoughts.

At 07:29 PM 9/10/97 -0400, Rohit Khare wrote:
>Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 13:40:23 -0700
>From: Tim May <>
>Subject: Reichstag Fire and the October Raids
>Precedence: bulk
>Reply-To: Tim May <>
>So, the House is moving toward drastically tightening non-escrowed crypto
>use, via the export laws and the invocation of "national security
>considerations." And the Senate is moving toward a complete ban on
>non-escrowed crypto. The civil rights groups are now cut completely out of
>the picture. The only issue now is whether the full ban on crypto makes it
>into the compromise deal. (I'm bettting it won't, as this would be too bold
>even for Congress. On First and Fourth Amendment grounds, if nothing else.)
>But Something Big is coming down. Even if domestic strong crypto is not
>fully banned, expect a series of moves to make it very unpalatable for most
>upstanding citizen units to use. And corporations will be "disincentivized"
>to use crypto, except that approved by Washington.
>(I wonder what will happen to PGP, Inc. and RSADSI? And to MS and NS?
>Probably, cynics will suggest, they are already ramping up their "trusted
>third party" and "key recovery" efforts. If so, I hope Phil Z. adheres to
>the promise he made publically at a Cypherpunks meeting, and quits PGP,
>At 11:54 AM -0700 9/10/97, Anonymous wrote:
>> Any bets that the double-secret guys nab a suitcase-nuke carrying
>>dark-skinned person a few days before they need to win a crucial vote
>>in the war against the citizens?
>Yep, they need a Reichstag fire. To nudge any recalcitrant Congresscritters.
>I'm not (yet) paranoid enough to think the spooks would pull off another
>OKC or World Trade Center bombing.

Is this person somehow suggesting that US government agencies were
responsible for OKC and/or WTC?

>But arranging some convenient arrests
>would be par for the course.
>The Congress hopes to conclude business before the end of November, I've
>heard. The full Senate and House will likely vote on the final version of
>the "Children's Safety Act," the one which will throttle crypto exports
>still further, will criminalize crypto use to the point that few
>corporations will dare use it (this is the real strategy), and will move
>toward a complete ban on domestic unescrowed crypto.
>They'll need some dire threat or significant event to get the vote they want.
>I'm thinking it may involve us. The 5-6 months they've had to "debrief"
>Bell, to convince him that squealing on anarchists and information
>terrorists, and money laundering advovactes, and felons, could mean a
>series of indictments will come in October/November.
>Whether their charges will "stick" or not is not really the point, is it?
>The trial, if one is ever held, will take place many months or even years
>after the charges are filed.
>Personally, I say everyone who has been active in discussing how to
>destabilize and overthrow the fascist governments in Washington, Paris,
>Bonn, London, and so on should prepare.

This is really going too far, no? To accuse the bumblers running most
governments of actually having an articulated ideology, let alone one as
extremist as fascism, seems insincere, at best. There's a lot to be
considered in notions that information networks are jeopardizing the
very existence of our existing governance structures, and that they may now
react to the threat much as would a cornered animal. But there's no
need to resort to
reactionary language. Besides, throwing around terms like 'fascism'
in this manner cheapens language, and lessens our ability to
denounce institutions which are indeed fascist.

>In the U.S., prepare for a series
>of pre-dawn raids. In the European People's Republics, I'm not sure what
>defensive measures are even possible.

Oh, I really doubt this. The anarchist community isn't likely to be raising
too many eyebrows, let alone inviting brazenly unconstitutional arrests
of its activists. This sounds a bit like Big Government conspiracy paranoia
to me. The anarchist vision may indeed come to pass,
or at least a form of it, but it will do so because of 'right time & right
place' considerations, not because of plots to overthrow established orders.
The technology enables new ways of social
organization & economics and revenue distribution, so what need
is there for the old style? If the change happens, it will be because
people -
in their roles as producers & consumers - simply start switching to
the 'new' economy and the 'new' society, and increasingly find the
old irrelevant. You don't have to have a revolution and overthrow the old -
it just becomes meaningless over time. Timeframe? Oh, decades
I should think. A generation or 2 for the full effects of the change to
become clear.

It's very difficult to legislate away technology (or anything) that has
become possible and which people want. For the same reason
that the War on Drugs has failed, and that the age old War on Vice
(prostitution, gambling, etc.) has always been a joke, so
too I think we'll ultimately discover that the key escrow issues are
in the same category. When governments try to impose laws unpalatable
to the vast majority of their population, they wind up with 2 choices: (i)
become a dictatorial society that ignores the will of its people and forces
such laws down their throats anyway (ii) live with a facade - laws that are
on the books but which few actually believe in or pay heed to. Escrow,
I believe will ultimately be such a case. We'll just work around it, with
freeware pgps and the like, which will become de facto. Escrow laws
& export bans will become as seriously observed or enforced
a law as is simple pot possession, or brothel visitation. I have
an innate faith in people to judge for themselves what sensible behaviour
is, in spite of bad legislation.

>Perhaps I'm being overly paranoid. But even paranoid Cypherpunks have
>enemies...and I call them Freeh, McCain, Kerrey (and Kerry), Denning,
>Clinton, Dellums, Kyl, Swinestein, and all the rest of the war criminals.

?? Again. Opinions of these folks aside (the only names I recognize are
Freeh, Denning, Clinton), I doubt the label 'war criminals' can
reasonably be applied to any of them, on any grounds.

>We're at war.
>--Tim May
>There's something wrong when I'm a felon under an increasing number of laws.
>Only one response to the key grabbers is warranted: "Death to Tyrants!"
>Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
> 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
>W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
>Higher Power: 2^1398269 | black markets, collapse of governments.
>"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."

Neat sig! His rhetoric reminds me a lot of 60s 'death to the
pigs!' Weather Underground types. It's hard to take any of it seriously,
given the extreme paranoia.
But there's an undercurrent of truth behind the phrases above,
I believe.

Of course, I personally
think crypto is only one (important, but relatively small) piece of the
puzzle. Yes, the real ramifications of a bit economy may very well lead to
either a collapse, or a slow atrophy, of our current world of nation/states
with centralized government & authority.

However, for such a bit-economy to actually replace an atom-economy (or
better stated, to swallow it up - the atom economy continues, but
becomes subject to the rules of the bit economy), there's much, much
more than crypto needed. Fundamentally, there's a need to really
grapple seriously with what bit-property is, what bit-currencies are, what
bit-transactions are, etc. eCommerce to date is a joke of the stalwarts of
the old economy trying to understand the new one, but for the most
part not having a clue.

The most important thing needed is global, interoperable standards for
bit-exchange. We need a common protocol, robust and extensible enough
to support all the various push & pull & collaborative modes of distribution
(*TP, if you like). And we need a universal way to allow bit-packages
(a friendly way of saying objects to those who would shun the O word)
to talk to each other. Most are still off believing that 'digital' is good
enough. It's not unless your 'digital cat' can talk to my 'digitial meow-mix',
for arbitrary combinations of these things.

And, universal mobility in both relevant spaces; traditional cartesian,
as well as mobility on-wire, where the metric isn't metres, but bandwidth
& latency. The mobility aspect has to be solved with a ubiquitous universal
machine; either x86 or Java bytecode. This, incidentally, is the one thing
that the Web on its own has not provided.

And, probably a million other things. Without any one of which (including
adequate privacy& encryption tools), the whole thing doesn't come together.
But to just emphasize one as the total path forward is too narrow. It's
as narrow as database-centric people pushing a belief that the Path
is better & more efficient persistency & query engines, or web-oriented
people who would foist a hypertext view that the Path is links & markup.

All these people are right, of course. Without good answers to all the hard
problems; naming, persistence, robust & consistent collaboration protocols,
and cypherpunks-style strong-crypto, we'll probably fall short of the whole
integrated thing.

So, if the True Path comes from listening to each in turn of the various
communities, how do ubiquitous standards emerge? How do we get
unity? What's the common reference frame? How do webmonkeys
and industrial IT come to agree on the common *TP and specification glue
that can unify everybody's culture? I still suggest it's objects. But not
the sterile, rigid objects of yore. The only key object property that is
I think is data+behaviour encapsulation.

What the web community is
still missing is a good unifying story for behaviour. CGIs and Javascripts
are just not going to build a bit-economy. They're too fragile.
There's too much complexity
to master and tame. Behaviour needs to be chunked out just as much
as gifs and text do. More importantly, it needs to be chunked in the context
of the data it acts on.
Throwing a sop like <OBJECT> embedding tags isn't
really getting to the point of what data+behaviour chunking is about. Sure,
the web can evolve itself over time and begin grappling with the headaches
of maintaining large-scale code written as cgis and stored procs, and
come to the conclusion that it needs to be chunked. But it will just be
discovering what the software community has already painfully learned
over decades. It will become an object web, even if it disregards CORBA
and treats Java as just another web-compatible technology, and not the
key to the object web itself. It will wind up fundamentally based upon
loosely collaborating
mobile components, even if they aren't Java beans or ActiveXs, simply
because that's the common denominator to all the rest of it.

The amazing thing is to watch all the various market pressures really coming
together to enable the total story. Sure, there's still a lot of sporadic
all over the place, but generally the 'inevitable' push to an object web is
surprisingly strong and broad based. And even more amazing is that the
instruments of this convergence are the very same businesses &
governments that are probably most vulnerable to its ultimate success!