Legitimizing crypto scams, the Satoshi-Szabo legacy

“A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.” [Bitcoin Whitepaper]

Anuj Das Gupta
Nov 15 · 20 min read
Philosophical blunders is all

Crypto scams be like, remember Satoshi, remember they be legitimizing us, freeing us from the need to find justice, when they be upholding Satoshi’s OG commandment:

A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.

▲⇧That is from the Bitcoin Whitepaper, § Introduction, right in the first paragraph.

I mean wtf! Is it unavoidable? Must we accept it? So we are told, asked, instructed, commanded to! Who is Satoshi to command us in matters of us getting frauded? I get frauded and I have to obey Satoshi about what I am supposed to do about it!

How big a fraud is acceptable, Satoshi? Stealing candy from a baby or millions from billions?

Has it not been enough crypto problems, from scams to genuine mistakes, in the last 10+ years, that we have crossed that “certain percentage”?

Can’t we do better?

Satoshi on the pulpit: Thou must accept fraud

Satoshi is right to be afraid, that fraud will be not be accepted as unavoidable. Satoshi is asking us to counter our natural urge to fight fraud, to deny our desire to ask for justice, to never undo a past mistake. Besides, undoing a past mistake does not amount to reversing history, that would make all justice an act of historical revisionism. SN fails to see the juridical difference between undoing a mistake and reversing the past.

  • OK take: Fraud is unavoidable: so justice can be had
  • Bad take: Fraud is acceptable: thou must accept fraud, so no justice
  • Criminal take: Fraud is acceptable, is unavoidable: no justice, AND no conversation about it.

“A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.” — is asking us that we ought to — demanding us that we better, for the sake of irreversibility — we accept the fraud as unavoidable.

Satoshi is commanding us to do something specific — as any regular norm creation of fraud-acceptance. The human hand is wholly at work here, not your default state of nature (if it was a descriptive statement of fraud-unavoidability).

  1. SN is NOT saying: fraud is unavoidable — that be saying something about the state of affairs
  2. SN is saying: we must accept fraud, and that acceptance is unavoidable — that is telling us how to think of fraud, directing us what to do with fraud, how to respond to a fraud

This is not a fact stating frame (as in #1), but a directive-giving frame (as in #2). SN hid #2 under the guise of #1, that is doctrinal fraud, the very first crypto fraud. But holding onto this fraud has been holding the crypto party line of immutability together.

The major achievement of […] all prevailing political-economic frameworks […] — is to make normative prescriptions seem like descriptive statements of the natural behavior of people, governments and organizations. We come to understand the system as given and natural; it can be tweaked but not fundamentally changed. [source]

Satoshi customer support 📞Deflection strategies

1. Brand all calls for justice as hassles.

If you complain about getting frauded, the culture will brand it as a hassles, that you ask for justice! Why can’t you give up your drive for justice and just enjoy the gains! This is a Denial of Justice attack.

For Satoshi is so pro-merchant that they consider complaints about getting frauded as 😲hassles😲. Even warning the merchant of these pesky customers who want justice. Only buyers and sellers need to be protected.

Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need.

[…] Transactions that are computationally impractical to reverse would protect sellers from fraud, and routine escrow mechanisms could easily be implemented to protect buyers.

2. Release the DoJ army

Denial of Justice attacks are morally more detrimental than denial of service attacks. Release the crypto army who can flood the market with DoJ attacks to drown out any opposition to the immutability regime.

For any criticism of Immutability, the DoJ army be turning the conversation to ‘can you offer an alternative’ for apparently no criticism is worth their salt if it is not constructive criticism. Classic DoJ technique to deflect an honest criticism. What do you suggest we do when there is a fraud, give us concrete steps, all of them, right now, and if you can’t shut the F up, and let us go on with our immutability regime. All in a day’s work of the DoJ army.

(This is like when abolitionists were told ‘do you have a solution to the freed slaves problem, if you cant be constructive, don’t you criticize slavery). To all those who play this constructive criticism game, they do so in bad faith. There is a time and a need to be constructive, but it should not lead to ignoring the actual point of the criticism.

3. Blame the victim, the one who got frauded.

With no justice available, any fraud that happens, immediately blame the victim: tell the frauded person, they should not have used a hosted wallet, that they need to have better crypto wallet hygiene, that they should not just invest in any shitcoin without verifying it all, that they are at fault being bad bad users, they don’t even know how to use this once-in-a-lifetime perfect technology. It is because of these deplorable users that scams happen everyday, they are almost asking for it.

Like when you lose your keys, all you can do is yell at the empty universe for no one is listening since no one is there behind these protocols since they are fully autonomous software. As a consolation we present to you the meme, “not your keys, not your coins”.

Living under the constant paranoia, that only you are to be blamed if you lose your life’s savings!

4. Frame all dispute mediation as meddling.

Satoshi admits that the reality of mediating disputes is a rather unfortunate need that financial institutions would rather want to avoid in a BTC ideal world of course.

Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes.

“cannot avoid” — as if in an ideal world, it can. Its not saying that the dispute is far from the ideal, but the mediation that is.

5. Make an absurd correlation between trust and (ir)reversibility.

With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads

No one trusts their friend on the criteria that they can never change their minds, that seems wholly passive aggressive stance on trust, a very human thing, not about reversing decisions or not. Imagine if you told your partner that you can no longer trust them as they just changed their mind on something that is important to you. Trust, my dear friends, is so much more complicated than such a simpleton idea of respecting linear time to death.

What transaction is more irreversible than one that can not even be spent! Thus, the genesis block was technically constructed to be unspendable. Satoshi never spent a single of their satoshi they mined (about 980,000 BTC). Then why would they call their invention “electronic cash” if they themselves never used it as one.

Why Bitcoin be Irreversible? Coz it moves like Time

Justice be like, can we talk about the past, that time you screwed up? I am Time, I can only go forward, no way to go back in the past, moving on…Let’s just say, transactions are less so sent by mistake, than they are unsent as a mistake.

If physical time travel existed, justice would amount to go back in time and fixing it. ⚡Justice is in many ways, a deeply frustrating but necessary conversation with the linear arrow of time always moving to the future.

Justice is our deeply human urge to be in a dialogue with this irreversibility of time, as when crime happens, justice gives us a way to do metaphysical time travel as near about as possible.

For justice is a slippery slope, once you open the can-o-worms of undoing past mistakes, folks will start undoing things as and when they wish. The power of metaphysical time travel — too strong, too tempting, too dangerous. Rather, « once done, remains forever » ought to be crypto’s rallying motto and not some misplaced sense of justice.

Immutability cancels metaphysical time travel. The Protocol is so irreversible that Satoshi would have us treat it us as Time manifest on the Internet. SN did call what we now refer to as the blockchain, as timechain.

Nodes collect new transactions into a block, hash them into a hash tree, and scan through nonce values to make the block’s hash satisfy proof-of-work
requirements. When they solve the proof-of-work, they broadcast the block
to everyone and the block is added to the timechain. The first transaction
in the block is a special one that creates a new coin owned by the creator of the block.

— Satoshi Nakamoto [Source]

➥ That’s a direct reference to the Christian theology (a la Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton) of The Clockwork Universe: G-d as the watchmaker and the universe as the clock, runs by itself, for reality is time manifest in infinitely varying ways of every moment of the life of the universe. (Every time we use clockwork to refer to something working oh-so-perfectly, you are toeing this line of theology)

What is the most irreversible thing we accept as completely being so? Time itself. Always the forward directionality, never any retries in the Universe of a wrong cosmic step, only and always going from present to future, the past as a frozen reality, can only be remembered, never reversed.

We desperately need to build a Crypto Fraud Meter. Shows “percentage of fraud” in terms of market cap to how much got lost so far in all these frauds. Like the US Debt Clock in NYC. Installed next to it.

But Satoshi’s posture and perspectives lean heavily on an earlier era of onto-theological work that lays the grounds for Satoshi’s way of making moral and jurisprudential sense of their tech innovation. (One thing to build/invent a tech, another question to make sense of it, what it means, could entail in the real world.) Let us present to you that…

Introducing Satoshi-Szabo, the original theologians

Imagine the ideal protocol. It would have the most trustworthy third party imaginable — a deity who is on everybody’s side. All the parties would send their inputs to God. God would reliably determine the results and return the outputs. God being the ultimate in confessional discretion, no party would learn anything more about the other parties’ inputs than they could learn from their own inputs and the output.

Alas, in the our temporal world we deal with humans rather than deities. Yet, too often we are forced to treat people in a nearly theological manner, because our infrastructure lacks the security needed to protect ourselves.

▲⇧That is Nick Szabo in his 1997 paper, “The God Protocols”, § Abstract.

(And BTC is that ideal protocol, finally after so long, we have it, as goes Satoshi’s claim)

“Alas, in the our temporal world we deal with humans rather than deities.” — “Alas” captures the sense of regret, of disappointment, of a shock, of waking up to a world of mortals as a mortal, that we are but humans, that we are not G-d. Time and time again, we have to tolerate others not being a G-d, we deserve better, we deserve to be immortal.

⛔With every fraud, every crypto scam, you ask yourself, what would G-d do?

⚡The Silence of G-d reminds me that nothing is to be done, no divine interventions in our lives coz: « only the undoable is forever ».

No Divine justice in our lives, except for the one and only divine justice, The Final Judgement, which in the case of Crypto, is crypto going to the moon, cancelling all fiat currencies. Till then, no need to entertain any justice, G-d don’t play that game of mortals with their temporal justice.

So the Satoshi-Szabo theological claim:

💡No one is trustworthy coz no one is a G-d.

So Bitcoin is the ideal protocol as it needs no one to trust anyone

for it to work with a clockwork (~10mins) precision🕰️.

Szabo’s theology has no place for humans, either you are G-d or a sinner so not worthy of any trust. Only a self-hating human would formulate this. The posture of trustlessness ultimately needs to rely on a foundational and persistent sense of misanthropy or theological antinatalism — that human evolution is a misstep in evolution, G-d’s plans.

The Secular Left VERSUS The Religious Right, two peas in a pod

Revealing Crypto’s crypto

Nakamoto comes into this theological quandary (of no-place-for-humans-in-Eden) with a technical solution: immutability with verifiability, a must for all ( ̶t̶r̶a̶n̶s̶)actions.

  1. Trust is a question of irreversibility
  2. Coz G-d never reverses His creation (since G-d never makes any mistakes), as Time only always moves forward, no retries in our universe
  3. Forcing the actions of people inside a metaphysical cage of irreversibility, makes their actions G-dly without having to make any of those humans be a G-d
  4. Born a sinner, keep proving each and every transaction, thus, only proofs, no trust is crypto 101 (this is a guilty-till-proven-innocent stance)
  5. We could not be immortal, a la G-d; at the least, our ̶ (t̶r̶a̶n̶s̶)actions will be by the dint of always staying as-is sans any chance of getting reversed

The river of life will flow down the middle of the great street of the city, and the tree of life will mean that the curse of death is lifted

— The Holy Bible, Rev. 22:1–3.

A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable” paves our way to the Promise Land, denial of justice is just the cost to pay, a holy sacrifice essentially. HODL is that promise, keep your positions, this one’s set to moon. Only the weak of faith sell. Rather BTFD to show your faith to one and all.

“A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.” — is where Satoshi is birthing this new socio-political tech norm of doing all the work to deny justice for G-d never makes no mistakes, hence, no need to do retries/fixes, as the community of the faithful then can pretend to be G-dlike via their faith in the make-belief immutability of The Protocol.

(As with any new faith based community, Satoshi was busy creating lasting norms during his tenure, such as the norms of the address-reuse with the generate-addresses-all-you-want, or the wait-for-n-confs one, or the frozen-design norm which impacted the BTC scaling debates so deeply; many of these norms depended on earlier conventions and norms, such as Szabo’s vitriolic norm against intermediation)

The crypto leap of faith

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.

▲⇧Again the Bitcoin Whitepaper, § Introduction, beginning of the second paragraph.

Trust and proof are not mutually exclusive. Satoshi is wrong!

We only verify if, at the least, we trust that there might some truth in it. We need to trust the source or the context enough to even want to enter the verification ritual: receiver generate new address, share it to receive funds → sender press button x to send funds→ receiver waits for n confs, champagne.

(Imagine a day when every step needs you to first verify, exhausting, impractical. We always pick-n-choose what to verify. Always a leap of faith to jump into the chicken-n-egg game of trust-n-proof. Paranoia is also deep faith.)

That you are “two willing parties” ready to transact does not imply you are ready to verify, ready to generate proofs, unless you trust each other enough go through the proving rigmarole. All of this social reality is hidden now, thanks to the proving process being automated, but being hidden does not mean it is absent. Satoshi fails to see this.

👽 If an Extraterrestrial sentient being on their first visit🛸 to Earth, wanted to use Bitcoin, how would they objectively verify to know which BTC is the real ₿. Trust, trust, trust, will pave his way (who they ask, what they read, where they look), a path strewn with proofs all over though (fact-checking it all). Trust and Proofs, are part of the same movement ☯️. Besides, we are assuming these people to be rational ⚖️ self-interested actors!

So for a revised edition of the above quote

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof i̵n̵s̵t̵e̵a̵d̵ ̵o̵f̵ ̵t̵r̵u̵s̵t̵ [to complete the trust cycle], allowing any two willing parties to transact d̵i̵r̵e̵c̵t̵l̵y̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵ ̵e̵a̵c̵h̵ ̵o̵t̵h̵e̵r̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵o̵u̵t̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵n̵e̵e̵d̵ ̵f̵o̵r̵ ̵a̵ ̵t̵r̵u̵s̵t̵e̵d̵ ̵t̵h̵i̵r̵d̵ ̵p̵a̵r̵t̵y̵ [as long as they can find mediation for any conflicts that may arise].

At the alter of the Scarcity Fetishism death cult…

Lost coins only make everyone else’s coins worth slightly more. Think of it as a donation to everyone.

▲⇧That is Satoshi again. Looks like an innocent quote, right? Makes sense in terms of economics! But what about its morality?

If a Bitcoiner’s death is so beneficial to others, then what stops someone to murder Bitcoiners for the sake of saving-the-world since BTC makes everything better

When Satoshi said that about “lost coins”, little did Satoshi realize that this makes a case for the elimination of Bitcoiners: to force others to lose their coins into the abyss of dead addresses💀. Coz that will raise the price per coin 📈 as going to the moon apparently makes everything better.

₿ →💀=📈 🚀

This is the dark side of the scarcity fetish that infests so much of economic thinking. On the surface, it sounds like some simple math of ratios, but money and such forms of wealth are never ever just numbers, people kill for this kind of stuff.

This the cryptic reality truth behind the crypto laser eyes, one that remains hidden from most folks who have that on their profile, they don’t mean mayhem to happen to Bitcoiners or are even aware of the consequences of their scarcity fetish.

You are at the beach, you see someone calling for help, you jump into the water to save them. Just as you glimpsed at their face, realized you know them from somewhere, oh yes, they are a Bitcoiner, you turn around, get out of the water, you say with tears in your eyes, “Believe me I so badly want to save you, but its humanity at stake, BTC must go to the moon, you gotto lose them BTCs forever”. Soon you kill yourself, not merely donating your body for science, but your Bitcoins to the empty void of dead addresses — the sacrifice of all sacrifices, makes for a great new religion.

Introducing Satoshi, the metaphysician

Commerce on the Internet […] works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.

▲⇧Satoshi again, the whitepaper.

Hold on! If the regular way, the old school way, mostly works, are we then going about this whole new way of doing online commerce, called crypto, for an edge case? Coz that’s how Satoshi frames it with the mostly-works-still-let’s-try stance.

⛔What is that edge case so damn imp to accommodate within this world of “online commerce” that “a certain percentage of fraud be acceptable” in return?

⚡Transaction Irreversibility. So as to prevent anyone from being able to overturn e-commerce transactions.

it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model. Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible

☝Satoshi’s logic: Lack of tx irreversibility → inherent weakness of the trust based model → can not avoid mediating disputes

Of course this completely denies the relevance of those 1000s of cases everyday when we do need to overturn our transaction to counter fraud (when my card got stolen in the fiat world). As a principle, it does so at that. We have only look at the BTC genesis block coinbase parameter:

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks

Bailout is nothing more than the State mediating, history being overturned as banks who deserve to go under get another chance. The bigger fraud is when we undo shit that is fraud. Satoshi throughout has been making a metaphysical claim: If we do not accept a certain percentage of fraud, nothing would be real as nothing would be permanent, as history would become reversible at will.

Satoshi makes two metaphysical claims here:

  1. Theory of real: Nothing is real, in the absolutist sense, if it is not permanent (thus, reversibility-resistant is a must if BTC transactions is to be a real thing)
  2. Theory of truth: Nothing is true unless comes with a proof that remains verifiably valid (thus, the verify it all posture, makes transaction verifiability paramount)

This is why the genesis block is so imp in establishing the metaphysics of crypto that it remains technically unspendable due to a particular technical quark. Being unspendable makes it even more irreversible as there will never be any spending transactions to reverse, and being having the PoW proof nonce verifiable, makes it true. So the BTC genesis block is real forever and is true at that for all of eternity. That is the BTC genesis metaphysical claim.

What is the Satoshi way of fraud prevention? Never even make a transaction in the first place. A frozen world is a safe world — another metaphysical claim. Hence, Satoshi never spent a single satoshi they mined under the public of the the coinbase winner behind the genesis block.

Are we too hung up on the WORDS of Satoshi-Szabo?

“It’s just words, taking it too seriously to dissect them all”. That’s all true, except for when these words have trillions in wealth hanging to each one of them. Fortunes turn around with every blog post, tweet, BitcoinTalk forum entry, Telegram gossip, when storytellers of great repute speak. These are words, but not any words, these are words worthy of directing our future.

Meme coins are not for nothing. It works, whether we like it or not. What’s in a name? So much, sometimes everything that’s worth anything.

Top Memes Tokens by Market Capitalization as of 09 Nov 2021 1300hrs CET
Prediction: There be coins backed on novels and poems, introducing Shakespeare coin.

Finance is as much LITERATURE (a la memes, buzzwords, marketing, propaganda, market trend reports) as it is Economics, and Finance is even Art with NFTs.

When it is inconvenient to take responsibility for the stories we tell, we can not just get away by trivializing our narrative output by downplaying it as ‘just words’, but when it is time to pump, these words are to be taken as the law. That’s crazy talk. That’s unlawful.

(When they say the words, “by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you…”, we can’t say afterwards, “but honey, it was only words”. Words are really ever just words, some noises we utter, language is/has life.)

Would Bitcoin have worked if it didn’t come with the Satoshi-Szabo narrative,
that it is cash, that it is gold, that it is immutable, and that no one needs to trust it, that it finally solved the intractable double-spending problem.

You might say, but wait a minute Anuj, on that last one, it does solve the double-spending problem, but what if I say, it solves the only-move-allowed problem for any piece of data so no copies are allowed. Same tech, different narratives of what that tech means in the context of the real world.

Bitcoin is as much a technical accomplishment of the rarest breed, as much it is a work of storytelling genius of the utmost degree. For each of the components of the BTC technical stack existed separately before, but no one came up with this once in a lifetime ingenuity of putting them together in that particular way that is to serve a social purpose, that of money, of gold, set in a world ravished by the 2008 financial crisis. That timing was key for the BTC story to be meaningful, for BTC tech to succeed.

(While it is commonly accepted as a key fact in the Satoshi-Szabo party line that ‘BTC is a technical solution to a social problem’, we could see here how the opposite is equally is not more so true, that ‘BTC is a social solution to a technical problem’.)

Weaponizing memes to fight the DoJ army

11 years of many more crypto stories, new memes making them spread, teams pumping them out of proportions — all of them extensions of that initial Satoshi-Szabo one for crypto is yet to find its real world significance in any proper way that is truly different/novel from the Satoshi-Szabo one. These are some of the other crypto narratives — “world computer”, “unstoppable code”, “not your keys, not your coins”, “true ownership”, “code is law”, “Vires in Numeris”, “blockchain, not Bitcoin”, “end the Fed”, “banking the unbanked”, “Web 3.0”, “the flippening”, — all of them extensions of the Satoshi-Szabo crafted narrative complex. If there is a meme that tries to escape this complex, it will render itself illegible to those within the crypto community unless it is able to craft a new story attracting a new community around it. Just think of the before-n-after effect of the BTC story, nothing since has eclipsed it.

No tool exists as only a tool. For a tool to become an utility, it needs to be constructed within the right kind of social milieu, communities of practice. Even a hammer needs narratives, be it the hammer-n-nail or the hammer-n-sickle.

This world has lost its glory
Let’s start a brand new story

[…] It’s only words, and words are all I have
To take your heart away

You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
-
- Bee Gees, Words

Reversing The Bitcoin Genesis Crime, fixing the literary crime of the BTC Whitepaper

“A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable.” — NO, IT IS NOT, we will not accept it, when you just lost your life savings, when you were told to not worry anymore as it is all math and all perfect, no one ever hacked ‘Bitcoin’ or “Ethereum’, ‘People get hacked, not The Protocol’, don’t be those people.

This is the technology that will save the world? That which blames the victim reminding us that we should not have trusted hosted solutions, that we should verify it all.

No percentage of fraud ought to be accepted,

we demand justice,

for The Protocol is a human artifact,

not G-d given, time we treated it as one.

How that will work, I do not have the faintest clue. But we have to want it to happen, we have to tap onto the feeling in our bones of injustice wrecking us. To anybody who tells you, but that would make the blockchain as a database, to them I ask, ‘have you ever used a database?’, technically, do you even make the same queries and use cases as a database as is the case with blockchain, not every data structure is a databases just by storing data for retrieval and search.

What comes after immutability, is not mutability in terms of anyone changing history at will, but new mediums of law where this needs to manifest and develop as its own new way of dealing with fraud. That will be a complicated long drawn episode in the life of crypto, we must start yesterday.

We ought to REVERSE the Bitcoin whitepaper (all additions marked in italics within these brackets « »):

Completely non-reversible transactions are not really possible, since financial institutions cannot avoid mediating disputes « but mediation is necessary as well when a grave wrong has been committed against someone who lacks the power and capacity to fight back ». [… T]here is a broader cost in the loss of ability to make non-reversible payments for non-reversible services. « while a great loss of cost as well when frauds can not be reversed back to make things right »

With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads « , remains to be an incomplete view of trust for trust can be had even when our loved ones changes their mind such as when we are given the reasons of someone reversing what they did makes us trust them even more ».

Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need. « But we must be even more wary of these customer-unfriendly merchants, they just want our money, so will brand our complains as hassles »

A certain percentage of fraud is « NEVER » accepted as unavoidable.

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof i̵n̵s̵t̵e̵a̵d̵ ̵o̵f̵ ̵t̵r̵u̵s̵t̵ « to complete the trust cycle », allowing any two willing parties to transact d̵i̵r̵e̵c̵t̵l̵y̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵ ̵e̵a̵c̵h̵ ̵o̵t̵h̵e̵r̵ ̵w̵i̵t̵h̵o̵u̵t̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵n̵e̵e̵d̵ ̵f̵o̵r̵ ̵a̵ ̵t̵r̵u̵s̵t̵e̵d̵ ̵t̵h̵i̵r̵d̵ ̵p̵a̵r̵t̵y̵ « as long as they can find mediation for any conflicts that may arise »

— The Bitcoin Whitepaper REVISED to correct its philosophical injustices

I would like offer my deepest gratitude to https://twitter.com/fasterandworse and https://twitter.com/johndhaskell for all the many wonderful criticisms (fuck being constructive) during my writing process ❤

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