In order to clear up some areas around my history as the creator of Bitcoin for people, I need to point out a few fallacies. Firstly, there is the fallacy that Satoshi acted in a particular way. The reality is that as Satoshi, I interacted with people who held views that differed from mine. In creating Bitcoin, I sought to create an honest and legally enforceable cash system. To be cash, that is to be money, Bitcoin needs to be neutral. It is not a system that is friendly to crime but a system that is friendly to most people. Such are people who act across the law in a variety of ways.
Bitcoin is a system that is private. It is not anonymous.
Bitcoin would be convenient for people who don’t have a credit card or don’t want to use the cards they have, either don’t want the spouse to see it on the bill or don’t trust giving their number to “porn guys”, or afraid of recurring billing.
The point made is important; anonymity breeds crime, and crime kills freedom. You will note that I did not promote drugs or any other illicit activities. I did not promote Bitcoin for such uses. Bitcoin is not a good system for illicit activity, as they involved with Silk Road discovered. Porn is legal. There are many other things that are legal, some of which may not want to be associated with people’s credit cards. Here’s the thing: Bitcoin is private allowing you to use it as cash and make purchases the same way you would going down to the corner store in the past and picking up legal but socially not acceptable items. When I was a child, certain things were allowed but not condoned. The means were not anonymous. If you paid for them with cash, people still knew, but people with knowledge were very limited.
Bitcoin does not stop debt
No cryptocurrency can. No system ever will. Debt is contractual. Unless you ban all contracts, debt exists, and to ban all contracts means to ban all trade. Even in Bitcoin, you can create debt obligations and bonds. In fact, you can create a lighthouse project that needs to be repaid over time. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can be done in the modern world that cannot also be done in Bitcoin.
There is a great falsehood about Bitcoin that has been spread by such people seeking to hijack the platform and create something else. It is the claim that Bitcoin was anti-authority. Bitcoin is an immutable log and an immutable evidence trail. Bitcoin is a form of money that is traceable allowing for the requirements of a sound and honest money dictated by Joseph Stiglitz. Unfortunately, the people who sought e-gold and DigiCash and tried to create bit gold did not want Bitcoin. Such groups sought something completely different to what Bitcoin is, and have hijacked the narrative.
There is nothing at all about Bitcoin that is anti-authoritarian. To say so would be to say that gold itself was anti-authoritarian. When I created Bitcoin, I created a monetary system that would work within the existing framework. E-gold, Liberty Reserve, and many others came about, but the reality is, they all ended as a result of legal action. Bitcoin needs to work within the law to be valid.
Cypherpunk and the fallacy of no true Scotsman
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I used the Cypherpunks mailing lists on a regular basis. I was one of the first people to use them. The fact that there were some who were, like Julian Assange, anti-everything did not mean that I or Bitcoin was anarchist. To assume that everyone on a mailing list holds a select view means a false understanding of the list and the people on it. The no true Scotsman argument that no Cypherpunks list member would ever support a regulated system is utterly false. The fallacy of composition needs to be considered. The simple argument here is made that all ‘cypherpunks’ support anarchy, yet I was on the list — which is easy to prove. I do not support anarchy in any form. I did not in the 90s, and I never will.
“The system is entirely decentralized, without any server or trusted parties,” details Nakamoto. “The network infrastructure can support a full range of escrow transactions and contracts, but for now the focus is on the basics of money and transactions.”
Note that if you read the white paper, you will discover that there are two aspects here:
1. Peer-to-peer cash is distributed when two parties exchange a transaction.
2. The node network is a distributed database.
They are separate concepts. When I released the software in 2009, everything was put onto one single simple package. It was not designed to remain so, and in fact, I always expected that in time, miners as nodes would start to aggregate into large corporations that would run out of data centres. Competing organisations make for something that is decentralised. Which is how Bitcoin works. No individual organisation, corporation that runs a Bitcoin node in order to mine and verify bitcoin can change the rules. The protocol is fixed.
With the tortious airdrop copy of Bitcoin, BTC, what we see is a false version of Bitcoin designed to hide the fact that a small group of control-freak developers seek to dictate monetary policy through Bitcoin. They seek to alter it to make it anonymous rather than pseudonymous and to act outside the law. All of it comes through the results of Silk Road. That is, Bitcoin demonstrating that it is not a good drug coin. It was designed not to be. Freedom does not include crime. Contrary to the continuous lies saying that nothing bad was sold on Silk Road, captures of Silk Road demonstrate sales of:
- plastic explosives;
- poisons; and
- hard drugs including crack, ice, and worse.
The simple reality is that many people seeking the illicit casino world and the drug-coin world have hijacked Bitcoin to make something that Bitcoin was never designed to be.
“It’s [BitCoin is] very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly.”
No matter how much of an anarchist you are, let alone libertarian (which is not anarchist at all, by the way), one thing to take note of is that fraud is never acceptable. The first thing to note here is that passing off is a form of fraud. It is a tort based on the deception in claiming something that is other than the real matter is; you lead someone to believe that he is getting what he is seeking, and give him something else. People are being led to believe they are getting Bitcoin when in fact they are getting a crippled developer-controlled mutation.
The protocol was open but not open to change. Bitcoin works and is decentralised only when the protocol is fixed. The lie that you are being told is that developers need to be able to move the goalposts and make new protocol changes whenever they feel like it. The Internet protocol does not change. New applications are built, and additional systems are constructed on top of the protocol, but the protocol itself remains stable. TCP is valid today just as it was in the past. If I plug a computer running DOS version 5.0 onto the network using a TCP stack program from the 80s, it will still connect to the Internet. If I connect a XENOS machine or a SunOS 3.0 computer using code from the 80s and 90s, it will still connect to the Internet, and it will be able to send and receive packets. That is protocol stability.
For Bitcoin to work and be stable, the protocol cannot change. If the protocol changes all the time, we end up like IPX. And when it does, business investment becomes stifled. The length of time needed to both create a new process and program and then recoup the costs is not given.
Bitcoin is only decentralised through the protocol. Here lies the nature of decentralisation. Decentralisation of power involves the inability for an individual to take control of the system. In order to ensure it, developers cannot set the rules. The lie that you are being taught by the promoters of an airdrop copy of Bitcoin which trades with a ticker symbol BTC (also known as Core coin) is that the false copy was in any way decentralised. The truth is that the promoters of such a controlled derivative seek to pass off an extremely highly manipulated system as one being decentralised.
Such is the founding spirit of Bitcoin: it’s a system that acts as a protocol of sound money that leaves a traceable evidential record. It is a system that is antithetical to crime. It is a system that is antithetical to anarchy, and it is a system that works within the law and regulations as they have been constructed in the world of common law.
When I made the following comment on the peer-to-peer mailing list, people saw it and decided to cherry-pick words:
A lot of people automatically dismiss e-currency as a lost cause because of all the companies that failed since the 1990’s. I hope it’s obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them. I think this is the first time we’re trying a decentralized, non-trust-based system.
They extract the word decentralised from the argument. But it’s not what the context says; what I wrote was “a decentralized, non-trust-based system.” As such, we end up with a:
global distributed database, with additions to the database by consent of the majority, based on a set of rules…
It is important to remember not that it is a decentralised system, but that it is a global distributed database. Additions to the database are created using a fixed protocol — which is the key here; Bitcoin is a non-trust-based system because it has a fixed protocol. As soon as you allow developers to change the protocol, you trust the developers.
Developers are not decentralised. Developers acting within an open-source project act as a system with a benevolent dictator. I left Bitcoin as a project so that I would not be the benevolent dictator. I left to be an absentee dictator. One who set rules in stone. I explained it well, I would have thought, but obviously it went over everyone’s head.
The discussion involved people asking about changing the protocol. It was argued that the number of coins and other protocol aspects of Bitcoin would need to be changed. I said categorically that Bitcoin’s rules as a protocol are predetermined.
At the start of the post I categorically said that Bitcoin was created as a system “with no central server or trusted parties.” Trusted parties are ones such as developers who hold power over the protocol. If a developer can change the rules, they set the rules.
When a dishonest system like Core coin (BTC) seeks to alter Bitcoin in creating an airdrop that poses as if it was Bitcoin, they are conducting an attack on the system. There is a common law tort for it: it is called passing off — which is where someone fraudulently pretends to be someone or something he is not. When Core forked Bitcoin in 2017, they created a new system, and yet they pretend that it was the original Bitcoin protocol. To be honest, to act within the law, Core would need to call it something else.
They could call it Core coin, developer coin, protocol-changes-weekly coin, but they cannot legally decide to name it Bitcoin. They could call it airdrop-altered-version-of-Bitcoin coin and still be honest, but they wouldn’t want to do so. They want to pass off their illegitimate copy as the original.
If you simply want to create a copy of Bitcoin, the copyright allows you to do so. You can for instance create a system such as Ethereum or even Litecoin without any risk of passing off and having people confuse your new coin with Bitcoin. It allows for fair and honest competition. But of course it is not what people in such camps want. They don’t want honest competition, they want to use lies and fraud and argue that fraud was somehow part of a libertarian ideal. It is not.
Set in stone
As soon as you allow any developer to start changing rules, Bitcoin is no longer decentralised, and if it is no longer decentralised, it is no longer Bitcoin. I will say it in another way: if the rules of Bitcoin that form the protocol change, you have altered Bitcoin and created something other than Bitcoin. Just like a SunOS machine from the 80s being able to access the Internet today, to be Bitcoin, the system needs to be stable, and a transaction signed today needs to be valid 50 years from now. If such is not the case, if developers can alter the protocol, you are not talking about Bitcoin.
The big error here is thinking that Bitcoin without government does anything. Without government, Bitcoin doesn’t stop banking fraud and doesn’t stop fraud at all. Fraud is stopped when you have requirements to act under law and Bitcoin as an evidentiary trail. The point is, Bitcoin reduces the need for certain governmental controls when government exists.
Central banks are not the issue; manipulation is.
The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve.
My profound distrust is not towards central banks. It is towards technocrats who think they know far more than everyone else. It is my motivation behind creating Bitcoin. In the quote above, I make it very clear that I do not believe in the long-term viability of currencies that are trust based — that is, the DEVELOPERS can alter them as and when they please! That is, BTC is the reason Bitcoin exists. Bitcoin exists to ensure systems like BTC fail…