[tor-teachers] Selling Tor outside the anglosphere

Virgil Griffith i at virgil.gr
Sat Oct 17 01:09:17 UTC 2015

> I hadn't considered this angle. It's very much a case of
> "know your audience,"

Indeed.  I hadn't considered this either before I spent more time here.  In
general I'd say the order of positive perception goes: anti-corruption >
human-rights > democracy

I'll give you this establishment vs activist perspective.

* The establishment perspective:
-- Their main goals are (1) increase GDP and (2) prevent revolt.
Corruption is a known issue in the asia-pacific that both decreases GDP as
well as increases societal dissatisfaction and with it risk of revolt.
Ergo, corruption is *super bad*.  To give an example, the benevolent
dictator of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, wore a white uniform every day to
remind himself that "a white garment, once sullied, is very difficult to
make clean again."  And this is a fellow who was adamantly against

Assuming they are against the free-press, odds are likely you'd have to
sell them something like a "government office of whistleblowing", and
documents leaked will goto both (1) the govt whistleblowing office and (2)
the press.  And then the press will be embargoed to report on any received
documents for a week or two so that the govt has time to their ducks in a
row when the media reports on it.

Emotionally speaking, the above whistle-blowing site is decidedly
unsatisfying, but it's something you could get an authoritarian regime to
actually *support* instead of hunt down.  And you know, that's a
significant step forward.

-- They will see human-rights as just a subset of anti-corruption.  E.g.,
if factory workers are mistreated, it's likely that govt inspectors are
being paid off somewhere.  And the govt would want to find those inspectors.

-- democracy: almost third-rail.  Democracy movements greatly increase risk
of (2), which they are adamantly against.

* The grassroots activist perspective:
-- they've dealt with bribes, etc.  And it is immensely demoralizing.
Saying they keep their money as well as call officials into account is
deeply satisfying.

-- human-rights plays better with this group.  It's entirely reasonable
they will know someone who has had to suffer through terrible working
conditions or unjust treatment.  This is a fine place to pitch human rights.

-- Would still stay away from democracy.  If they are not already
pro-democracy, it's unlikely you're going to convert them here.  In
general, pro-democracy movements are far more likely to cramped down on by
authorities than "relatively innocuous" causes like anti-corruption and
human rights.  Publicly being pro-democracy greatly increases their risk of
antagonizing local powers against them.

My two cents from living in the Asia Pacific and getting a sense for how
the power structures work,

On Sat, Oct 17, 2015 at 6:18 AM Kenneth Freeman <kencf0618 at riseup.net>

> On 10/16/2015 01:01 PM, Michael Zandi wrote:
> > On 10/16/2015 02:12 PM, Virgil Griffith wrote:
> >> In general when I talk with leadership outside the anglosphere, they are
> >> much more interested in increasing GDP than rights. And they are well
> >> aware that corruption damages their effectiveness at home as well as
> >> perception abroad. And in these areas I've had much more success in
> >> selling Tor as an anti-corruption tool.
> >
> > That's good to know and consider. In your experience, can bringing up
> > human rights/democracy issues alongside corruption issues hurt more than
> > it helps? If so, when?
> >
> > It's plausible that you can have people on board when you talk about
> > anti-corruption, but lose them if you mention democracy/anonymity, so it
> > would be good to know when to especially be aware of this.
> I hadn't considered this angle. It's very much a case of "know your
> audience," but Tor is a knife which can cut pork as well as beef.
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