March 03, 2005
FC exile finds home as Caribbean Brit
Vince Cate (writes Ray Hirschfeld) created a stir a number of years ago by relocating to the Caribbean island nation of Anguilla, purchasing a Mozambique passport-of-convenience, and renouncing his US citizenship in the name of cryptographic and tax freedom.
Last Thursday I attended a ceremony (the first of its kind in Anguilla) at which he received his certificate of British citizenship.
But Vince's solemn affirmation of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors was done for practical rather than ideological reasons. Since giving up his citizenship, the US has refused to grant him a visa to visit his family there, or even to accompany his wife to St. Thomas for her recent kidney surgery. Now as a British citizen he expects to qualify for the US visa waiver program.
Is this the end of an era, a defining cypherpunk moment?
Posted by iang at March 3, 2005 04:42 PM
"Is this the end of an era, a defining cypherpunk moment?"
I don't know about the cypherpunk moment. We'll have to wait to see how many US cypherpunks give up their US citizenship. There is many a bright person who still does not get what's coming in the US. I suppose the data will just be anecdotal. I should think that by now there should be more than just Vince, but it does not appear so.
However, it could be the start of the end of this attitude: "What, are you crazy? Give up my valuable US passport?". I would expect a US passport to become more and more an albatross around a US person's neck. Less and less accepted without a visa, particularly after the US throws up a virtual Berlin wall to trap labor and capital.
From what I've read, it seems that only about 10% of Americans have passports. So probably about 90% are going to end up being trapped inside the US.
This "The Third Stage of American Empire" seems about right:
I never saw this kind of thing as being central to the cypherpunk concept. In fact, to me it seems like the wrong direction to go. The point of being a cypherpunk is to live in cypherspace, the mythical land where online interactions dominate and we can use information theory and mathematics to protect ourselves. Of course, cypherspace is inevitably grounded in the physical world, so we have to use anonymous remailers and proxies to achieve our goals.
But escaping overseas is granting too much to the primacy of the physical. It would be better for Vince Cate and other expats to help create anonymizing technology and other infrastructure to allow people to work and play freely in the online world.
And tying it back to this blog, the gold at the end of the cipherpunk rainbow is a payment system which can be deployed and exploited anonymously. That's hard, for many reasons, not least because most people are happy and eager to share information goods for free. Modern-day online communism (creative commons, open source, etc) actually undercuts cypherpunk goals by reducing the need and motivation for anonymous payment systems. How can you buy and sell information goods online, when everyone gives everything away freely?