Saturday, January 9, 2010

Crypto-Seigneurialism Revealed

My eyes hold, unblinking, eyelids repelled like two like magnetite poles. The twinge in my liver tells me I’ve gone too far and I try typing. Hands twitching in the monitor’s light in a darkness too dark to see jaundice.

On your second sleepless modafinil night you can watch each object move and melt like stained glass panes into shadows. In certain states you are compelled by addict receptors to make cocktails, nicotine mints between gums and lips as you swallow an extra deprenyl pill with dribbling lukewarm coffee.

Then sometimes the steady monitor screen starts to make the same silly scene and you find your focus fixed on a cursor trailing the tricks and soon the sun shines through the half-closed slats of your blinds.

But tonight is a night of focus and I'm steady. Everything is steady. Except that this thread suddenly splices two days of manic dreams into a single incoherent thought that’s sprouted and growing on my screen like a volcanic island from the sea; it fills my dark room with silver light and a wolf howls through the speakers of the laptop on my knees. I hear hoof beats and see a pale horse and rider approaching in 3D.

The rider nears. He’s wearing wolf furs and a wolf-head hood and his horse looks much like a mustang. He has a black beard and flowing mane and he’s now prominent on the screen, regarding me directly. His eyes take in sights with uncivilized vigilance, with a precision fine-tuned in some wilderness spread across steppes. His left hand loosely grips the handle of his war hammer; the muscles, the sinews – the skeletal frame itself – are fearfully thick, of a stock not yet domesticated. He regards me with all the contempt of nobility. He bears danger, savage and royal, like a lion ready to spring. The warrior speaks:

I am called Perkunos; I am called War-Hammer, the Berserk-Lord, the Wolf-Warrior, the Serpent-Slayer. I heard the song of your Wolf-Rite echoing across epochs, the throb of your days of hunger, the hum of your days without sleep, the flow of your days drowned in sauma. I am the greatest of your ancestors; you are the least of my descendants. Yet you have called and so I am here.

I think maybe I should ignore this, but maybe I should speak. I explain that I didn’t summon anyone and have never heard of a Wolf-Rite.

Then you discovered it on your own. The self-starvation, the resistance to sleep, the regular ingestion of sauma (yours a modern form) to generate a vision of your warrior guide.

He dismounts the horse in one motion. The horse fades from my screen. Perkunos stands silently. I close my eyes and know I haven’t died as I hear those familiar ecstatic screams, the yelling and laughter and crapulous retching of students in surrounding structures, the squealing breaks and revving motors on nearby cobblestone streets, and the tap tap tap of pointed spider toes on walls as the rasping cocksure voices of blocks of beggars beg me alms.

I open my eyes. I explain again that I did not intend to summon anything. Perkunos frowns.


I don’t know how to explain my fear of sleep, my floor marked with coffee stains half-covered by smashed plastic blister packs and cans and cardboard cartons emptied of cans of energy drinks. It’s just that each morning I awake restrained or compelled across a thousand dimensions by massed bureaucrats by means of thugs in blue hats, burgeoning biometrics and wiretaps, perhaps RFID on a national ID or in my skin, masses cheering it along to an endgame that always ends the same, their pawns emerging promoted and my mind and body not my property. Perkunos nods and I see he can read the text on the small notepad screen below him.

So I continue typing about how no one seems to feel this ever-present pressure except some people I’ve never met but read on the internet and how it intensifies in the ambit of the ugly concrete structures of the state, how everyone seems to swim through it unaware of it but marked by it and cursed by it but not by insanity though unhappy.

A man drives hours every winter to hunt in the rocky hills that jut up from the great desert plain. He takes a versatile hunting dog who lives for it, who seems to fly through foot-deep snow between sagebrush over boulders and holes or half-frozen streams in pursuit of any telling scent. And the man lives for it, trudging behind for hours uphill while slipping on iced-over roots or stumbling over thick tangles of Artemisia.

Sometimes he simply stops at a high point, sometimes next to large mounds of piled-up stones of some Indian burial, looking out over some plain of blue sage and drifts of snow climbing up over hills bleeding reddish clay at their cores while the dog pants and waits beside him.

But usually the man is working. He’d been planning to retire before his dog got too old but a cabal of neosocialists and bankers vaporized his 401k. And his son saw him this Christmas and for the first time he could remember, the man seemed unhappy.

And what would your plan be to free this man? And how will you escape that ever-present pressure?

I smile at the quaint simplicity of the savage mind. There is no plan and never will be.

Perkunos turns and somehow controls my browser with rapid movements of his war hammer. He pulls up my blog and scrolls down until he can see the mass of links I’ve compiled and begins to read. He turns back towards me.

Crypto anarchy? Counter-economics? Anonymous digital currencies? Offshore bank accounts through Guatemalan law firms? You say there is no plan, and there will be no plan, but clearly there was a plan. What was it?

No, that dream is dead; it’s documented embarrassing libertarian history. That was years ago and youthful naiveté.

Why didn’t it work? What do they say?

The technology is there – the problem is sociology. The average person is not willing to go to the extreme lengths needed to maintain his privacy so we are left with a small group of hardcore crypto-geeks who never end up having much of an effect, and the state never withers away.

I did not ask about the state withering away. I asked about escaping the state, and I asked about you, not the average person.

Well the goal was always for the state to wither away. The agorists, for example, write:

Along the way the risk of contract-violation between counter-economic traders will be lowered by arbitration. Then the protection agencies will start providing contract enforcement between agorists, although the greatest "enforcer" in the early stages will be the State to which each can turn the other cone into. Yet that act would quickly result in one's expulsion from the sub-society; so an internal enforcement mechanism will be valued.

In the final stages counter-economist transactions with statists will be enforceable by the protection agencies and the agorists protected against the criminality of the State.

At this point we have reached the final step before the achievement of a libertarian society. Society is divided between large agorist areas inviolate and statist sectors. And we stand on the brink of Revolution.

And Perkunos laughs! He’s laughing so hard the hammer falls from his hand.

Ah, the final triumph of good over evil, the fulfillment by the Chosen Ones of their Destiny, the mass conversion of the People to the True Way, the Revolution and overthrow of the Evil Ones. Semitic progressivism in an anarchic form. Why have you forgotten my culture? Why is every narrative Semitic? It is the intersection of the Indo-European with the Semitic that made your culture great.

There is another recurrent myth, once ubiquitous in the West, of a hero’s descent, into the underworld, to slay a dragon for his own undying fame. He is not divinely chosen; he does not wait for the help of others, or give up if they won’t follow – he goes by himself into battle, simply because he is a warrior and has chosen to do so.

I, Perkunos, was the original dragon-slayer; my undying fame spread across the world under various names: Fergus mac Léti, Beowulf, Heracles, Thraetaona, Thor, Trita Aptya, and many more. But the clichéd narrative of weak destined-ones overcoming the strong evil-ones has almost completely supplanted it. In comic books, for example, only Frank Castle represents traditional Indo-European mythology.

So go, now; descend into that underworld, those black markets and dens of thieves and slay whatever wyrms you come across.

But I don’t see what I can accomplish on my own sending encrypted messages to myself or making sure I’m unidentifiable browsing with Tor.

Not by yourself. An entire warrior class of those crypto-geeks who are willing to take the risks, and damn the common man.

But there was such a group, and they accomplished little.

And how where they organized?

They were anarchists.

A group of unorganized geeks gave up after failing to overthrow the most powerful government that has ever existed, and that is your excuse for having no plan to use the tools that are within your grasp? I tell you now that an organized group with a degree of intelligence and daring can use these tools to become both wealthy and free.

But I have no idea how to organize such a group.

There are innumerable possible schemes for organizing a group, but I will recommend the one I am most familiar with: my own. Your modern scholars know it as “tripartion”. It is this: society is divided into three castes, the military, the priestly, and the productive. The priestly caste is the most complex, being divided into two functions, the mystical and the legalistic, and is often represented mythologically by twins.  This is sovereignty.  Study on it.

And such a system can be used to organize a virtual community?

Look at the sheer variety of cultures, geographies, and eras in which society was thus divided. All Indo-European cultures followed this pattern, and, indeed, one of the greatest criticisms of  Dumézil was that this division may have been universal.

Then how will I know which of the various permutations of the tripartition to implement?

I have traveled from my own era across the lands and the seas of time and have witnessed every implementation of the tripartition, and the one that most fiercely resisted the shifting fancies of the gods was seigneurialism.

A sovereign grants a fief, which is property, to a seigneur, who is a lord, member of the military caste, who in turn utilizes the productive caste to yield profit from that property in exchange for protection. Iterated, this system is called feudalism, and survived in this form for millennia.

But there are few systems more hated and mocked than feudalism.

Feudalism’s failing was its emphasis on birth; its eternal damnation of serfs to lives of serfdom. In your system, the serfs will simply be those without the intelligence or daring to enter the world of the nobility.

My over-stimulated synapses fire and erratic images coalesce, a vision of an ancient system recast with cryptographic castles and onion routed moats, chained relays of remailers as coats of chain mail with PGP cloaks, anonymous runts of CS and IT rising to nobility, hordes of gold stashed overseas exchanged electronically with every purchase in a networked black market economy.

These are the warriors, and then we’ll have our priestly caste, those who plot and devise our business schemes, establishing norms and excommunicating heretics. Both castes will have their hierarchies, based on the titles of those romanticized times, rising up through knighthood to lordship and beyond, barons and bishops and counts and kings and all this taken seriously. The warrior nobility is the entrepreneurs, the information security specialists who implement anonymous crypto-seigneurialist business plans on their virtual fiefs protecting transactions of ignorant serfs looking for safe ways to purchase cheap prescription drugs or small arms or weed; with priests and cardinals offering oversight and ideas, the anonymous intellectuals of the crypto-economy, the chosen bloggers of neo-medievalism. Formalizing this hierarchy now gives it stability; as cryptography allows for the stability of formalism, the formalization of crypto-anarchy makes it robust.

My head is spinning and I spit out my mint. When I look back to my screen Perkunos is gone. I start working.

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