The Emergency of Cryptography

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “emergency situation” in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which corresponds to this. Then it will become clear that the task before us is the introduction of a real state of emergency; and our position in the struggle against Fascism will thereby improve.”

-Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History

This is the modified second half of a longer essay, The Sovereign, the Subject, and Crypto-power: Life in the Digital Panopticon.


Cryptography is first and foremost a technique of war.

It is the final individual decision to protect one’s privacy and data beyond any laws, any violence, any war.

The history of computers is the history of cryptanalysis, which in turn is the history of the tactical development of communication under the conditions of total unbracketed war. Asymmetric cryptography is the culmination of the understanding of the phenomenon of “bellum omnium contra omnesand offers a kind of science to which men can ‘protect themselves, when none else can protect them,’ and most importantly is solidified ‘by no covenant be relinquished.’ (Hobbes ¶ 21.21)

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of the personal struggle for life, liberty, and wealth against any and all governments that can only be called tyrannical. Bitcoin and the cryptography it entails offers every person a final kind of protection in the field of total unbracketed war where the term “bellum omnium contra omnes” offers its true decrypted meaning: each of us may become homo sacer at anytime for any reason. Nature opens the messianic path through the real state of emergency that is homo homini lupus and the infinite grotesque promise of what that should mean to each and every individual human today, and what Bitcoin offers as a response to it at each step.

Cryptography is the culmination of a cognition of history which recognizes the absolute value and totalizing nature of privacy in the theater of total war of all against all, and the respective role that privity takes in a field of total unbracketed war. In all systems of government, the possibility of a ‘state of emergency [Ausnahmezustand]’ that will always create a ‘just war[jus bellum justum]’ against ‘other [Homo Sacer]’ people who can be killed but not sacrificed, exploited but not robbed, and in bondage but not slaves; can always happen, and already is happening. This is a real possibility under any system of law, and is a hideous fact of the legal genocides, social ethnic cleansings, and political expropriations of the 20th century. Crypto is a history which understands the infinite violence that all sovereign powers have entitled themselves to for ‘Final Solution’ of legal means against man, nature, and life as we know it at all cost — including the rule of law itself. 

It is once we understand that our political problems are first economic problems that our position in the struggle against global panoptic fascism will vastly improve, and we will find the only path towards our exit and the freedom that is intended for only us.

The Final Decision of Cryptography

“The sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” 

— Carl Schmitt

Crypto commands the code alone to be sovereign.

There is no exception to this. There are no laws that can change this fact, nor any amount of violence that can modify it either.

Due to this explicit fact that digital expressions exist solely in the realm of non-physical space through mathematical expression alone, it can never be subjugated to the same physical forces that legal and authoritarian rule must always entail. Crypto leaves no remainder for any kind of exception.

Crypto is subject only to the laws of mathematics alone–NOT men, institutions, or governments.

If you think otherwise then come and break it!

There is no sovereign exception, nor can there be one. The vicious magnanimity and imperium to which cryptography holds mathematics as its only sacrosant allows for it to consecrate the glory of a singular Spinozian God [Deus sive Natura] to whom there are no exceptions within his machine of mathematics, his immanent laws of the universe, and His passion for a form of wealth that is beyond the power of any group of men. It is the resounding thunder of an idea whose time has come, and that cannot be stopped.

What we need, however, is a political philosophy that isn’t erected around the problem of sovereignty, nor therefore around the problems of law and prohibition. We need to cut off the King’s head: in political theory that has still to be done.

–Foucault, Truth and Power

Crypto presents a political theory which decapitates the sovereign’s head with the resounding declaration of fiat justitia, et pereat mundus [Let justice be done lest the world perish].

Crypto does this by not engaging the the classic stratagem of law, prohibition, and sovereignty that all law demands; but something totally novel and new. Crypto engages in a radically new system of common-wealth and digital social contract by using cryptography as the base technique of this new form of organization. Through this a new political form-of-life, where all people can have their wealth be protected from any form of violence through the power of cryptography; a messianic possibility is opened. The crisis of money becomes apocalyptic, and an existential threat to all nation-states today. It is the final emergency that cannot be stopped, and opens us to the final epoch where man may take his final dignified place as the ruler of himself, by himself, for himself alone.

This allows for something that all people, everywhere, whether they admit it or not, know in their heart of hearts: that things could be different, that radical economic, social, and political change is a real possibility. We could live not only without hunger, but also probably without fear, and freely as well. And yet, at the same time — and all over the world — the social apparatus has become so hardened and calcified that what lies before us as a means of possible fulfillment presents itself as radically impossible.

Together we must choose to make the collective decision to create the real and final state of emergency that will be the final existential threat to the state and their fiat money. By refusing their corrupt money, hollow laws, and false idols we can make the world new again. Together we can choose to create a new form of social life, common-wealth, and law together that is outside and beyond the power of any state or government to destroy–only for them to submit to.

We can choose to create the foundation for a totally new form of political, social, and economic life and the commonwealth that is the new social agreement for our time. With the power of cryptography alone; we can guarantee the privacy, freedom, and liberty that was promised to only us; and we intend to keep it. No fascist decrees, no communist appropriations, no state of emergency from any political banner can stop us! The struggle is real and we will not stop until fiat money is destroyed and the state and money are totally separated as they should to be.

Together we can deactivate fiat money, state law, and shatter the paradise of legal violence and authoritarianism in order to consummate a new form of economic, social, and political life. A life that is beyond the power of any state to destroy, any laws to litigate, and any violence to violated. The state will try to destroy it, and with each blow that they will deliver, crypto will only get stronger. It will prove its inviolable nature more resoundingly, blow by blow, while also showing just how corrupt, wicked, and evil those in positions of legal and state power really are.

The sovereign is the point of indistinction between violence and law, the threshold on which violence passes over into law and law passes over into violence.

— Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer

Through a glitch in the matrix that creates the image of sovereign power through its physical form; we also find the Achilles’ heel from which there is an opening to create Leviathan’s downfall. Leviathan must always have a physical foothold from where he can display his power, a body to which make an example of his sovereign violence.

However, sovereign power cannot actualize the law if it does not have a physical space to render violence within. It needs a physical body it can identify first, so it may subject, dehumanize and objectify in order to display its legal and physical power. If legal power cannot find a physical body or space in which it can carry out it punishment, it risks displaying the incapacity of the law without violence, the sovereign without his subject, the emperor without clothes.

The secret is that the sovereign is as blind as the rest of us if it cannot see.

Blinding the Sovereign

The State is superstructural in relation to a whole series of power networks, that invest the body, sexuality, the family, kinship, knowledge, technology and so forth. True, these networks stand in a conditioning-conditioned relationship to a kind of ‘meta-power’ which is structured essentially round a certain number of great prohibition functions; but this meta-power with its prohibitions can only take hold and secure its footing where it is rooted in a whole series of multiple and indefinite power relations that supply the necessary basis for the great negative forms of power. 

–Foucault, Truth and Power

In order for legal power to secure a footing, the first engagement of power must be one of identification. Through identification, the physical form can be found, and power projected on to the subject in any of the nearly infinite techniques the panopticon can use to project the gaze and its power on the subject. Once identified, the process of selection can begin. The subject can then be labeled as ‘friend’ for inclusion in the camps, or ‘enemy’ for isolation, destruction, and liquidation. However, through the digital, which can only and explicitly be expressed in non-physical medium, there is a territory in which the subject can abscond into a total anonymous existence of its own creating. In making the final turn away from the panoptic machine, and giving oneself entirely as anonymous citizen of the digital cosmos, man once again finds the ideals from which he can create the new order of the ages once again.

Through using cryptography to create a novel and fair economic game of wealth common to all, bitcoin rediscovered the sovereign power that is hidden at the center of what a commonwealth really is: The commonality of wealth to all, with no one able to control or change the system for the betterment of some at the cost of others. In other words, it is commonality of law itself. The capacity and demand for law to remain totally neutral, and completely access to everyone, no matter their station of birth, creed of faith, or political identity according to the state.

With this radical new power of peace, man finds himself back at the start of all political concept once again. However, this time man emerges from the forest of technology, armed with the final weapon of cryptography and the mask of anonymity of which hides the face of the messianic possibility it contains. Man has renewed the opportunity to liberate himself from the concentration camps of modernity; but this time for good, permanently, and forever.

Through bonding our political destinies with with the science of cryptographic protocols and consummating with the machine directly; we can create a new form of commonwealth, law, and power. It is the commonwealth of crypto which will open the next and final epoch for all of humanity and posterity, and what the promise of a money freed from the vestiges of statism, debt, and fiat money looks like. Through the personal choice to totally objectify oneself via code, and giving oneself to it entirely for the protection that it offers when no other sovereign can; the commonwealth of cryptography open the polis to man once again. 

Through giving ourselves over to the power of cryptography over that of any state, and the majesty and imperium to which crypto will always hodl; we find the power to create a real form of political once again. Here we have found the power to open the final hour in which state legal power can be deactivated, and all people may be free from it for good. Peace on this earth is not such a radical ideal if we all have the power/knowledge of cryptography at our fingertips, and how to use such a power to protect our lives, our wealth, our honor, our freedom, and our privacy.

Through accepting crypto as a political cause and sovereign power, any human may free and liberate their wealth, privacy, and liberty from the state and fiat slavery once again. With the true nature of what the common-wealth of law rediscovered, magnus ab integro seclorum nascitur ordo (the great series of ages begins anew).

It is the political and theological destiny of all of humanity in the final hour, the final emergency, for all legal systems to shipwreck themselves on the reef of ethics which no decision can avoid. Each ship designed with the same flaw of the rudder of sovereignty; each one damned to the same mutinied destination no matter the pitch, speed, or weight. We are each free to abandon the ship of the camps now, free to swim back to the country from which we came, where we will no longer be before the law.

“One day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good.”

— Giorgio Agamben

Erik is a crypto-anarchist, iconoclast, and thinker that has been working in the bitcoin ecosystem since 2012. His primary concerns are the intersections of political, economic, and social theory as they relate to bitcoin specifically and crypto generally.