Parallel Polis, or the Institute of cryptoanarchy in Prague, 2022
Parallel Polis, or the Institute of cryptoanarchy in Prague, 2022

Crypto-anarchism or cyberanarchism[1] is a political ideology focusing on protection of privacy, political freedom, and economic freedom, the adherents of which use cryptographic software for confidentiality and security while sending and receiving information over computer networks.[2][3] In his 1988 "Crypto Anarchist Manifesto", Timothy C. May introduced the basic principles of crypto-anarchism, encrypted exchanges ensuring total anonymity, total freedom of speech, and total freedom to trade. In 1992, he read the text at the founding meeting of the cypherpunk movement.[4]


"Crypto-" comes from the Ancient Greek κρυπτός kruptós, meaning "hidden" or "secret".[5] This is a different use of the prefix than that employed in words like 'crypto-fascist' or 'crypto-Jew' where it indicates that the identity itself is concealed from the world; rather, many crypto-anarchists are open about their anarchism and promotion of tools based in cryptology.


One motive of crypto-anarchists is to defend against surveillance of computer networks communication. Crypto-anarchists try to protect against government mass surveillance, such as PRISM, ECHELON, Tempora, telecommunications data retention, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, Room 641A, the FRA and so on. Crypto-anarchists consider the development and use of cryptography to be the main defense against such problems.[6]

Anonymous trading

Bitcoin is a currency generated and secured by peer-to-peer networked devices that maintain a communal record of all transactions within the system that can be used in a crypto-anarchic context. Adrian Chen, writing for The New York Times, says the idea behind bitcoin can be traced to The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto.[7] Silk Road was an example of an illegal drug market on which bitcoin was the only accepted currency.[7]

Assassination Market was a Tor-based darknet market operated by a self-described crypto-anarchist going by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro.[8]

In The Cyphernomicon, Timothy C. May suggests that crypto-anarchism qualifies as a form of anarcho-capitalism:

What emerges from this is unclear, but I think it will be a form of anarcho-capitalist market system I call "crypto-anarchy."[9]

Another quote in The Cyphernomicon defines crypto-anarchism. Under the title "What is Crypto Anarchy?", May writes:

Some of us believe various forms of strong cryptography will cause the power of the state to decline, perhaps even collapse fairly abruptly. We believe the expansion into cyberspace, with secure communications, digital money, anonymity and pseudonymity, and other crypto-mediated interactions, will profoundly change the nature of economies and social interactions. Governments will have a hard time collecting taxes, regulating the behavior of individuals and corporations (small ones at least), and generally coercing folks when it can't even tell what continent folks are on![10]

See also


  1. ^ "What does cyberanarchism mean?". Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  2. ^ May, Timothy C. (December 2014). "Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities". Archived from the original on 2021-01-29. Retrieved 2021-01-22. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Cryptoanarchism and Cryptocurrencies. Philosophy & Methodology of Economics eJournal. Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Accessed 29 March 2021.
  4. ^ "The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto". Archived from the original on 2019-11-14. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  5. ^ May 1994, section 19.4.29.
  6. ^ Albano, Alessandra (2019-09-29). "Autonomous Distributed Networks: The Unfulfilled Libertarian Dream of Breaking Free from Regulations". Rochester, NY. SSRN 3461166. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b Chen, Adrian (26 November 2013). "Much Ado About Bitcoin". International New York Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013.
  8. ^ Greenberg, Andy (18 November 2013), "Meet the 'Assassination Market' Creator Who's Crowdfunding Murder with Bitcoins", Forbes, archived from the original on 10 December 2013
  9. ^ May 1994, section 2.3.4.
  10. ^ May 1994, section 2.13.1.
Works cited

Further reading