[cryptography] Political Cypherpunks Trumps Apolitical Cryptography

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Sep 8 09:19:25 EDT 2013

----- Forwarded message from John Young <jya at pipeline.com> -----

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2013 09:12:25 -0400
From: John Young <jya at pipeline.com>
To: cypherpunks at cpunks.org
Subject: Political Cypherpunks Trumps Apolitical Cryptography
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version

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 challengences 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

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

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.

----- End forwarded message -----
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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