Crypto Art Of Resistance: Remember, Remember The Legacy Of The Cypherpunks
In the last months we have witnessed an upswing in the non-fungible token (NFT) art scene. More artists, collectors and curators are pushing into this promising market, which features unique and timestamped artistic creations based on blockchain technology.
Since an extended and misunderstood definition of the term “crypto art” is clearly emerging as a result of this growing interest, the series of “cryptoArt Of Resistance” articles aims to shed light on the original roots and intentions of this movement. This journey toward a more precise definition leads through the history of the cypherpunks, crypto anarchy and the invention of Bitcoin, all the way to the ART OF RESISTANCE!
This series is for all of those artists, Bitcoiners and crypto-enthusiasts for whom the underlying values are a real concern.
December 1, 2020
within eternity somewhere in the cosmos…
…on a small blue planet.
It is a vibration in the air, electric and promising; carrying with it a premonition that the coming years in particular will bring about significant changes for the global community in the most diverse areas of life. Insecurity is palpable in people’s eyes these days — a virus is going around that is portrayed in the media in such a way that it is difficult to distinguish between staged fear politics and real threats.
One is careful. The unknown and invisible frightens. Payments with cash are avoided. We see masked people on the streets. Some want to protect themselves and others… others try to fight for rights in riots; still others exploit the riots to their advantage. Stores stand empty. The number of unemployed people is rising. The scenery reminds us of the early ’30s of the last century. There is a vibration in the air…
The Total Digital Transformation Of Society?
More voices are being raised that speak of a calculated “reset”; a planned destabilization of nations in order to implement various new (technological) systems in the course of the depression that is to follow. So conspiracy theories are booming these days and it is not possible to say with certainty to what extent a conspiracy practice exists. The information necessary for an adequate assessment is beyond public perception. But most of the “most” also have quite different problems in their dependencies of everyday life.
In any case, there have always been gray eminences and agendas of certain interest groups, and some currently claim to recognize subtle traces that point to a gradual push by governments with regard to digitization, which ultimately, under the guise of supposed security, would result in improved control of people.
This digitization encompasses the entire human being; their identity, the manner of their transactions, their individual rights — everything and every area of society. The preservation of this total digital transformation would place the “transparent human being” at its most complete level, while elite interest groups with the appropriate means would operate covertly in the background and influence the political level.
Rebels With A Cause!
It was the so-called cypherpunks who recognized such a potential development quite early on, when an increasing spread of computers and the use of them via the internet became apparent. In their vision, society would increasingly move into cyberspace, which would inevitably bring censorship and surveillance.
Let us travel back in time about 30 years and take a closer look at the beginnings of the Cypherpunks. Back then, in the San Francisco area, founding members Timothy C. May, Eric Hughes and John Gilmore met regularly in real-life settings, while also communicating with many other members through a mailing list. In those days, the use of secure methods of encryption for private individuals was still prohibited in the U.S.
This movement, consisting of computer experts, scientists and cryptographers, was particularly concerned with, among other things, taking action against this ban and a planned mandatory implementation of hardware backdoors in communication devices (clipper chips) by the government. The autonomy of the individual and thus the right to privacy was considered an asset that had to be protected, which is why Eric Hughes wrote this passage in his cypherpunk’s manifesto:
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.
A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto
With various campaigns and civil lawsuits, the advocates of a free internet successfully won the “First Crypto War,” which has gone down in history, thus ensuring the possibility of secure encryption methods and an open internet for all people.
However, the cypherpunks were aware that this alone would not be enough and that there would be a need for more independent systems that would allow people to act in self-determination.
The “sheepocracies” of the modern so-called democratic era are voting away their former freedoms in favor of cradle to grave safety and security. – The latest tack is to propose limits on privacy to help catch criminals, pedophile, terrorists, and father rapers. God help us if this comes to pass. But Cypherpunks don’t wait for God, they write code!
May was convinced that politics has never brought lasting peace to anyone and that this would never happen. According to him, circumvention of government surveillance could only be achieved through new software, which is why the cypherpunks were primarily focused on programming and developing. Of course, theoretical conversations about politics, ideologies, cryptography and socially-relevant topics were an important part of the encounters and conversations, but what cypherpunks really appreciated was creativity.
This creativity very often expressed itself in extensions and improvements of existing mechanisms and systems (in addition to fostering new developments), producing a number of innovations that have become an integral part of everyday life in digital communication and the internet.
Whether it be “Pretty Good Privacy,” reusable proof of work, BitTorrent, the Tor browser or the first approaches of cryptocurrencies, like B-money, Hashcash or BitGold, many critical ideas from the early days of the cypherpunks were successfully implemented by Satoshi Nakamoto and his invention of Bitcoin.
Cypherpunks Are Not Dead!
Even though the original mailing list of the cypherpunks no longer exists and early leaders like May and Hal Finney have passed away, the legacy of the first cypherpunks is an integral part of a living subculture. The cypherpunks are far from dead!
Especially in this time of increased surveillance, more and more cypherpunks are gathering in new mailing lists and chat rooms to fight for human rights and privacy with the skills and means necessary for winning that fight at their disposal.
There is still a lot to do and a lot to accomplish, and there will be an increasing need for “mass market” independent and decentralized systems that really put the power of the people back into their hands, as long as we have a need to see the people in a “free” internet and thus, a free society.
Stay tuned for part two: “Bitcoin And The Crypto Anarchy!”
This is a guest post by PR1MAL CYPHER. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or BitcoinLinux.
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