ELI5: What is Crypto Anarchism?

Crypto Anarchism is a political ideology which advocates the use of strong cryptography as an instrument for the promotion of Anarchy, including unrestricted personal freedoms and absolutely unregulated financial freedoms.

Down With Government

Crypto Anarchists do not believe the State should play a role in an individual’s personal life, and neither in collective financial decisions, international representation and other functions typically executed by government, whether elected or not.


Anonymity is a core value in Crypto Anarchy. According to this political system, an individual’s right to be anonymous is unquestionable.

To guarantee this anonymity, strong cryptography must be used in all communications, anonymous cryptocurrency be used for financial transactions and personal information must be strictly guarded by the individuals themselves who will identify only to other citizens they know and trust.

Crypto Anarchism x Libertarianism

Some see Crypto Anarchism as a more radical form of the Libertarian views which prevail in the cryptocurrency community.

Disapproval of government interference in the financial markets, such as the 2008 bailout for banks, the belief that the traditional financial systems are unfair to the average citizen and other frequent sources of popular discontent are common points between Crypto Anarchists and Libertarians.

The latter differs from Anarchy, because Libertarians do not advocate the complete absence of the State, but only prescribe a small and efficient State power that can arbitrate disagreements, to be the sole entity allowed to possess federal military power and to uphold the rule of law.

Crypto Anarchists, on the other hand, do not believe the State is necessary at all and thus advocate its complete extinction, leaving the establishment of a social order and the establishment of an effective financial system to society itself.

Cryptocurrencies are seen by Crypto Anarchists as a fundamental tool to make this possible.

Is Anarchy a Viable System?

It is not known, to this day, whether a completely anarchic collective system would be functional in practice and thus it is considered more of a theoretical concept rather than something achievable in the short term.

So, in practice, Crypto Anarchists practice their beliefs within the current existing systems by employing strong cryptography, by engaging in cryptocurrency trade and daily use, and by maintaining strict discipline in the use of personal information online.

The Crypto Anarchists practices have influenced other communities to adopt stricter privacy policies for their own online presence.

For reference, we reproduce the full text of the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto below.

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto

Timothy C. May

A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto anarchy.Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re-routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.The technology for this revolution–and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution–has existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based upon public-key encryption, zero-knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification. The focus has until now been on academic conferences in Europe and the U.S., conferences monitored closely by the National Security Agency. But only recently have computer networks and personal computers attained sufficient speed to make the ideas practically realizable. And the next ten years will bring enough additional speed to make the ideas economically feasible and essentially unstoppable. High-speed networks, ISDN, tamper-proof boxes, smart cards, satellites, Ku-band transmitters, multi-MIPS personal computers, and encryption chips now under development will be some of the enabling technologies.The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions. Combined with emerging information markets, crypto anarchy will create a liquid market for any and all material which can be put into words and pictures. And just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property.Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!



Wikipedia entry on Crypto-anarchism

The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto

Crypto Anarchism: What it is and why it matters

About the Author
Published by Crypto Bill - Bill is a writer, geek, crypto-curious polyheurist, a dog's best friend and coffee addict. Information security expert, encryption software with interests in P2P networking, decentralized applications (dApps), smart contracts and crypto based payment solutions. Learn More About Us