I think that the problem with your claims about the defense/offense asymmetry is that it is based on abstractions that only exist because of the government. All of the reputation/private arbitration systems that exist online still exist in the context of nations with laws that prevent, for example, someone killing you because you posted a bad review of them. Or simply stealing your goods in person ("X robbed me in the street and stole my clothes. I would not do business with him again").
Once you have established an upper limit on the kind of offensive actions that can be taken, it is easy to bootstrap reputation systems. But I don't consider this as evidence that there is a high defense/offense asymmetry at a fundamental level.
1. Some government-like mechanisms should definitely exist on the level of the physical world (this could be anywhere from Rothbardian private law to a concept of private cities to a more moderate vision of a Georgist government that taxes exclusively resources and perhaps even pays out a basic income). What matters is that these governmental mechanisms should/will stay out of trying to restrict human interaction.
2. We are already moving into a less materialistic society, and the trend will continue in the future. For myself personally, all of my physical possessions combined have a resale value under $1k and a replacement cost under $2k. If you mug me, you will get a moderately good cell phone, some cash in my wallet and maybe an old laptop, but not anything nearly worth the tiny risk that I or a bystander will be able to overpower you. When all wealth is stored in data or the mind, locked behind passphrases and encryption, physical crime simply becomes not all that interesting.
3. Contrary to Oleg's post, people's online identities should be cleanly separated from their physical identities, and it should be cryptographically difficult to make the mapping from the guy who wrote a bad review of you to the physical person living in a certain city.
You can feel free to choose which of these you find more and less convincing; I have my own opinions on the issue and certainly do not represent "the movement" as a whole to any significant extent. But you are correct that the high offense/defense asymmetry characterized by the (cryptoanarchists' vision of the) internet does heavily rely on existing infrastructure; if this were not true, then we would have been living in a society organized largely along cryptoanarchist lines for the past ten thousand years.
In fact this is already happening to a certain extent. Remember pirateat40's Ponzi scheme? Part of the reason it was so successful was because he got on board influential, trustworthy members of the Bitcoin community and they created an atmosphere where anyone who called out the scam was seen as a scammer themselves. Many of them got away scot-free.
Edit: also, it doesn't matter what kinds of peer-to-peer insurance or escrow schemes you come up with, sufficiently powerful participants can and will get people to carry out transactions outside of those safeguards. We've seen this on Silk Road already, where the big sellers managed to create a culture where handing the money over early and bypassing escrow was necessary for almost everyone.
I like thinking of the goal of anarchism as "smaller power structures that you can more easily swap out."
I may be reading this wrong, but it seems the author sees the scenario above as preferential to the current system. I am no libertarian, but how can 90s Russia be a good example for a society? Do people saying something like that sometimes leave their abstractions and ask people who were on the ground back then? average life expectancy fell more than 5 years between 1989 and 1994.
I think you are reading this wrong. The author describes a likely outcome under the assumption that some modern societies share characteristics with the former soviet republic.
When teachers and cops run from government, they will find jobs and prosperity in the wealthy private market where people pay and save in bitcoins.
For the time being, a carbon tax would be another option. Charge by the ton at the major sources (eg. coal mines) and it'll be fairly easy to administer. Of course that'll have the side benefit of hastening the demise of fossil fuels, removing that source of revenue, but it could ease the transition at least.
You wouldn't have to shoot very many people at all to maintain whatever amount of control you wanted over other people's lives.
Why? A government could declare Beanie Babies the dominant currency if they wanted. All they have to do is say that you have to pay your taxes in Beanie Babies, and that all of their court judgments are only settleable in Beanie Babies. You will be rushing to buy treasuries denominated in Beanie Babies and paying for them in bitcoin.
If I can figure out who someone is who is spending cryptocurrency in a way I don't like, can't I just pay someone to make them transfer their bitcoins to me, or just kill them? If I have 1000x more bitcoins than they do to pay assassins and bodyguards, how could they resist me?
Can someone who is more in tune with this sort of theory explain it to me? Am I understanding anything here?
I dislike 'boxes,' but if I had to characterize myself I would suggest that I could be described as cryptoanarchist and voluntaryist in terms of my thought processes and philosophies which I appreciate helping to put into practice.
On the subject of "crypto-anarchy does not require anonymity," I would certainly state that it does not, but systems which emanate from a crypto-anarchistic perspective should preserve the choice or ability for people to make decisions about anonymity and identity generally, regardless of how you personally perceive of or define identity.
This is part of what is discussed in the ABIS protocol.
You can read the whole proposal here:
Before you throw too many numbers back at me, realize that billions of dollars were spent on Beanie Babies, even back before the last decade of US fiat erosion.
Otherwise it would be really stupid to use it as comparison to Bitcoin.
Most Bitcoins are purchased as a speculation, expecting their value to go way up. It's possible that the gold rush is already over, but it's also possible it's only beginning.
Hopefully you will at least concede the logical possibility of a stupid or wrong or meaningless whitepaper.
Then again, I'm not a millionaire because in 2009 I thought bitcoin wasn't scalable. Maybe they'll solve it before it's a problem.
It's nice to see yet another sane person on HN, by the way.