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Crypto-Anarchism, Cyber-Security, & the New Right

1,422 words

In theory, anarchy is against hierarchy and obedience to authority while traditionalists embrace these unfashionable principles.

In theory, anarchism and traditionalism are polar opposites and naturally antagonistic. In practice, within the current social and political context, the two causes are natural allies. Both anarchists and traditionalists are opposed to this state . . . for the opposite reasons. Anarchists are against any and all sovereign regimes, whereas traditionalists are opposed to this sovereign regime. The anarchist Peter Pan is opposed to parents altogether, while the traditionalist Robin Hood is against this wicked usurper.

Crypto-Anarchism can be understood as an ideology, and it even has its own little Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto [1]. More generally, though, Crypto-Anarchism encompasses any and all efforts to liberate communication from state control and manipulation. It would be ironic for one who conflated Crypto-Anarchism and generic anarchism that the Al Qaeda network–intent on establishing a draconian theocratic global Caliphate–has pioneered the application of cryptography in its ongoing war with several dozen states. Of course, these are the same Leftist fools who rally under the likeness of Catholic traditionalist radical Guy Fawkes, so this confusion should come as no surprise.

There are state laws against cryptography, but they’re utterly inconsequential, except perhaps as additional charges to throw at the condemned. The reason is that it’s impossible to detect cryptography when it’s concealed (steganography), and it’s impractical to detect illegal variants of cryptography when it’s bundled in legal variants of cryptography. While the state may be able to pick off the unwary and ill-prepared, the only complete recourse at this point is for the state to shut off the Internet.

The state’s at least as dependent on the Internet as the citizenry, and untold billions of dollars worth of corporate capital rely on the Internet. The question is not whether this state will tolerate the Internet and secure communication, but whether the Internet and secure communication will tolerate this state. While the Internet did indeed originate in America’s military-industrial complex, and was incubated by multinational corporations, there’s reason to believe that neither the regime nor its financial backers have any real ability to control or contain it.

Jay Rockefeller: Internet should have never existed [2]

There are multiple reasons secure communication remains an afterthought on the Internet, all of which are ephemeral. Some are technical. The “deep web” (the secret Internet behind the Internet) remains flaky and slow because there are relatively few people on it, because the encryption overhead carries a significant performance cost, and because a virtual “commons” intrinsically designed to be devoid of accountability is categorically ripe for abuse. Furthermore, the technology remains a few steps beyond the reach of the digital layman, requiring one to willfully seek it out, download it, and figure out how to use it.

The primary obstacle to achieving ubiquitous secure email communication isn’t a mathematical wizard at the NSA, it’s the frustrating mess of “private keys,” “public keys,” and specific steps involved in the process. Processors and networks will continue incrementally improving, but genuine progress for the deep web will only come when accessing the technology gets easier and carrying on as usual gets harder. Currently, the deep web is largely a frontier occupied by radical dissidents, child pornographers, computer hobbyists, and the sharper organized crime networks.

Up until recently, government regulation of illicit file-sharing networks was rather mild, but that’s changing, driving an increasing amount of it into the deep web and entirely beyond the reach of government enforcement. It’s in the tactical interest of sovereign states to tolerate absolutely all speech and communication except for terrorist plots and the most heinous organized crime (inclusive of child pornography). What grabbing for the royalties of e-book thieves and classic film buffs accomplishes is accelerating the inevitable transition of the entire Internet from a relatively transparent network they can observe like a fishbowl into an inscrutable black box. Military intelligence analysts don’t make policy, they enforce policy. Policy and enforcement is at the hands of corporate lobbying groups like the MPAA and RIAA which lean on legislative, executive, and judicial institutions to rescue their imperiled business models.

There’s an argument that the more advanced intelligence agencies are actually on top of these things. Ultimately, there’s no way to prove or disprove this proposition, and I may be proven wrong, but I don’t believe it’s possible for them to insert back doors into the open source software the Internet runs on. I don’t believe they’ve cracked the more advanced encryption algorithms. There are, after all, substantial cash prizes waiting for those who can demonstrate having cracked the more popular encryption schemes . . . not to mention undying fame within hacker subcultures.

The more successful hacks on record have largely been feats of social engineering, and many of the others have been clever exploitation of simple mistakes at some improbable layer of the technology stack. If the government can control it, Al Qaeda wouldn’t have chat rooms. Banks wouldn’t entrust billions of dollars every day to SSL encrypted websites. Silk Road wouldn’t be mail-ordering cocaine and XTC with impunity. Child pornography wouldn’t be a thriving global black market with only a fraction of the consumers being caught.

What does all this mean, politically? What does it mean for us?

Could fiat currency be doomed?Within the next decade, powerful smartphones will be ubiquitous. The technology connecting them to the deep web will be readily accessible to the layman. Creeping state efforts to intrude upon communication will make the deep web a daily necessity for anybody who desires any degree of privacy. Monetary transactions will gradually shift to the tax-free, inflation-free, fee-free, digital currencies, undermining the global economic order and bringing down with it every regime which relies on military technology or economic incentives to ensure the loyalty of its subjects.

The regimes which rely primarily on financial control rather than more organic and traditional authority are existentially threatened by the rapid advances in secure communication technology. For all the concern about China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea posing a cyber-security threat to the United States government, the greatest threat is coming from BitCoin or a variant thereof. If the state monopoly on legal tender is broken in the same way the music industry’s monopoly on listening to music has been broken, a cascade failure of the prevailing global power structure without historical precedent will follow.

It may be foolhardy to make a prediction as bold and specific as that one, and it’s foolish to speculate on exactly how it will play out. I believe; however, that political progress in the future will favor those vanguards which rely on traditional and organic authority, especially the ones which take the lead in mastering and utilizing the secure communication technologies as they’re developing. As a movement, we have the first half of the equation nailed. To capitalize on the coming revival of tribal and traditional leadership, the New Right needs to know how to send encrypted emails and communicate through encrypted means whenever possible. At the very least, we should all avoid the habit of discussing anything private on services like Facebook, Skype, and Gmail Chat which likely have back doors.

We can't allow technology to overwhelm us.

We can’t allow technology to overwhelm us.

If political pressure on web hosting companies forces our major websites to be pulled, then they should reappear shortly thereafter on the deep web. Readers and supporters should know where to find it.

There’s a certain bias among conservatives and traditionalists against technology, due to its dehumanizing and alienating impact on society, and due to its having been leveraged against conservatism and tradition.

Technology is what one makes of it, and I believe it can be a veritable Excalibur against the global oligarchs and Modernity itself if leveraged intelligently and effectively.

One of the charming aspects of Farnham O’Reilly’s neo-fascist sci-fi novel Hyperborean Home [3] is the proposition that technology will be advanced and ubiquitous, yet seamlessly integrated into the natural world and traditional community. Rather than being a distracting, obnoxious, and gaudy intrusion into our daily lives, it will fade into the background and be there when necessary, as if it were magic. Rather than coming between us, it will help pull us together. Instead of posing an insidious threat to human dignity and privacy, it will enhance both. This is, in my opinion, what the New Right’s position should be on technology, not a reactionary conservative’s reflexive fear of change or the buffoonish liberal’s dehumanizing “futurist” dystopia of bionic people floating in chrome contraptions . . . but a mastery of technology in the service of tribe, tradition, and transcendence.