Political Cypherpunks Trumps Apolitical Cryptography

What is striking about discussion on the two cryptography mail lists, both set up to minimize discussing political and social issues to avoid cypherpunks acceptance of them, is the tentative reconsideration of those issues due to Snowden’s revelations, miniscule as they are.




Notable among those raising the political threat are those who disdained the issue on cypherpunks and stomped off to set up alternatives ham-handedly moderated to cease and desist the “off-topic.”

A few now say, bray more like it, NSA has betrayed us through political manipulation of officials and the public, and that is an important point which often came up on cypherpunks and still does, with somewhat less complaining about it.

For Snowden has shown the political has won out over the technical, and the technicals are fraught with what to do about it, and much fingerpointing is going on along with a few claims of having forewarned this betrayal would happen. No moderation yet has shut down this “off-topic.” But much gumming and gnawing of the futility of technical means against the vulgar political.

What has been shown in the discussion is that the technical wizards are not nearly as competent at the messy political as they are at technical sophistication. The resulting conversation is a mish-mash of fairly high level technical discourse interleaved with fairly clumsy political opinionating. So technical clubs are being swung to answer political jabs, that is petty squabblling and exchange of slurs has replaced rational discourse. Thus the convo has become politicized with as much stupidity and ignorance as sharp thinking and mutual respect.

NSA and its bosses would be happy if this became the norm in cryptography as in the real world. And some opine that this outcome is being, and has been in the past, and will be in the future, orchestrated for just that result.

That sounds like what cypherpunks was set up to combat, the withdrawal from politcial affairs into safe sanctuary of infallible mathematics coated with unending challenges to implement illusory protection from political mayhem. So it has come to pass, there is no refuge from politics, and the once reviled tin-hats of conspiracy theories are replacing  anomymous masks, especially by the best and brightest cryptographers who have been hoodwinked far more than dreamed of in earliest days of cypherpunks.

Still, there are die-hard PR-driven comsec experts rolling out advice for what to do to protect the public — meaning, cynically protecting their severely damaged reputation of “concern for the public interest (R)”. Not yet willing to admit losing the comsec and privacy war so avidly promoted with HTTPS, SSL, PGP, PFS, OTR, Tor, on and on, they continue to hustle comsec customers with promises of here’s what we have got to do, take it from us experienced veterans (read my remarks, hear my TV interviews, read my messages on cryptography, gorge on recyclings on Slashdot, Twitter, Reddit, Voice of America, EFF. Guardian, New York Times, ProPublica, ACLU, EPIC, on and on):

Lo, special prosecute NSA, take it to the courts, a tired political gambit for media semaphoring, fund raising, conceding technical defeat and begging political rescue by what’s that you say, account churning lawyers, political lobbyists and journalistic hacks.

That is so obnoxious, murmurs the cryptography mail lists, so opportunistically off-topic, moderator do your censoring, let’s get back to the good stuff. Despite the murmurrings there recurs calls for “cut the cowardly shit, let’s fight.” One guess who said that.

Wikipedia Cypherpunks:


Cypherpunks Archive 1992-1998 in raw text:

http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-92-98.zip (83MB)

By year:

http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1992.zip (790KB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1993.zip (7.4MB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1994.zip (11.8MB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1995.zip (10.1MB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1996.zip (21.6MB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1997.zip (20.7MB)
http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpunks-1998.zip (10.8MB)

Who October 26, 1996:

http://cryptome.org/cpunks/cpnkwho-102296.txt (34KB)

Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2013 22:27:30 +0200
From: Eugen Leitl <eugen[at]leitl.org>
To: jya[at]pipeline.com
Subject: Request to mailing list cryptography rejected

Perry [Metzger] rejected that message, not very surprising.

—– Forwarded message from cryptography-owner[at]metzdowd.com —–

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2013 15:24:30 -0400
From: cryptography-owner[at]metzdowd.com
To: eugen[at]leitl.org
Subject: Request to mailing list cryptography rejected

Your request to the cryptography mailing list

Posting of your message titled “Political Cypherpunks Trumps Apolitical Cryptography”

has been rejected by the list moderator. The moderator gave the following reason for rejecting your request:

“John is being nuts here. The point of the moderated list initially was to keep the noise down, not to avoid political discussion. Anyway, I’m rejecting it.


Any questions or comments should be directed to the list administrator



—– End forwarded message —–

Eugen* Leitl <a href=”http://leitl.org”>leitl</a&gt; http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://ativel.com http://postbiota.org
AC894EC5: 38A5 5F46 A4FF 59B8 336B 47EE F46E 3489 AC89 4EC5

Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2013 22:27:30 +0200
To: Eugen Leitl <eugen[at]leitl.org>
From: jya[at]pipeline.com
Subject: Request to mailing list cryptography rejected

Thanks. Metzger is primly authoritarian. Gregory Perry was just booted for disobedience too after only a few messages. Fits the mind-set of those fearful of anti-authoritarians. Share this if you like.



Discussion from one of the cypherpunks – mailing lists, started by John Young @cryptomeorg
Original post  here:09.09.2013, JD



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