The inside story of two crypto-anarchists and their quest to create ungovernable weapons, untouchable black markets, and untraceable money. ... Concerns about the police are justified for Wilson and Taaki, who have dedicated their careers to building some of the most controversial software ever offered to the public. Wilson gained notoriety last year as the creator of the world’s first fully 3D-printable gun, a set of CAD files known as the Liberator that anyone can download and print in the privacy of their home to create a working, lethal firearm. Taaki and his collaborators recently unveiled a prototype for a decentralized online marketplace, known as DarkMarket, that’s designed to be impervious to shutdown by the feds. ... The programming provocation they released a few hours ago is called Dark Wallet, a piece of software designed to allow untraceable, anonymous online payments using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Taaki and Wilson see in bitcoin’s stateless transactions the potential for a new economy that fulfills the crypto-anarchist dream of truly uncontrollable money. ... “I believe in the hacker ethic. Empower the small guy, privacy and anonymity, mistrust authority, promote decentralized alternatives, freedom of information,” he says. “These are good principles. The individual against power.” ... According to a study published in May by the nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance, more than 40,000 mostly illegal products are now listed for sale on the obscured corner of the Internet known as the dark web, more than twice as many as before the Silk Road bust. ... Wilson and Taaki intend Dark Wallet to be the most user-friendly method yet to spend bitcoins under the cover of anonymity’s shadow—without switching to a niche alternative coin or trusting any shady middleman.
Not long ago, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2016 Presidential candidate, put a halt to his considerable consumption of marijuana. “The last time I indulged is about two months ago, with some edibles,” Johnson told me in late June, in the lobby of a midtown hotel. Johnson, who was the Republican governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, also ran for President in 2012, as a Libertarian, and received just under one per cent of the vote, but he believes this year could be different. At the end of May, William F. Weld, the former moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, became the Libertarian Party’s Vice-Presidential nominee, giving the Party its most mainstream ticket since its founding, in 1971. ... as governor, he earned plaudits from the right for being one of the more conservative governors. National Review praised him as the “New Mexico maverick” and as a “Reaganite antitax crusader,” who cut income-tax rates, slowed the growth of government, and eliminated the jobs of hundreds of state employees. During his two terms as governor, Johnson vetoed more than seven hundred bills passed by a Democratic legislature. ... There hasn’t been a serious challenge from a third-party Presidential candidate since 1992, when Ross Perot, the eccentric Texas billionaire, ran as an independent and bought hours of TV time to educate voters about the large federal budget deficit. Perot won entry into the Presidential debates and received nineteen per cent of the vote against Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Bush blamed Perot for his loss, though the best analyses of the race concluded that Perot had drawn equal numbers of voters from Bush and Clinton. ... “Third parties are like bees,” the historian Richard Hofstadter wrote, in 1955. “Once they have stung, they die.” Third parties come buzzing to life when they seize upon an issue that the two major parties have ignored. If they gain enough popular support—the sting—one or both parties will adapt to the electorate’s demands, and co-opt the third party’s ideas.