Why does Bitcoin matter?
I wrote an article on Hacker Noon about a year ago now, which is entitled “Why Bitcoin Matters”.
I explored Bitcoin from first principles, starting with an examination of the societal stack, money’s role in society, how it evolved over time, it’s fundamental attributes & functions, and finally culminating into an analysis of why Bitcoin is superior both as a monetary unit & a monetary network (aka; a monetary operating system).
For this piece, I’d like to take a more, perhaps, ‘revolutionary’ approach to why Bitcoin matters.
It’s that “thing” which the protagonist (Winston Smith) of Orwell’s seminal piece, 1984, was unknowingly calling out for, and inherently describing, whilst O’Brien was torturing him.
The “force” of good that exists in all humans, and the desire for Freedom was and always will be there, but a tool via which it could manifest in spite of the oppressive power of an authoritarian state, just did not, and could not exist at the time.
But it’s no longer 1984. Times have changed.
Bitcoin matters, because Bitcoin is that tool.
It’s what we, the revolutionaries have been missing this entire time.
We had the human spirit, we had the will, we knew there was something wrong, but we lacked the tool with which to stand up to Big Brother.
Bitcoin is that tool.
Whilst getting rich because you’re in the game early is cool and all (greed drives me as much as it does the next person), it’s this revolutionary aspect of Bitcoin that should get you most excited about it’s prospects.
Not since the gunpowder revolution were ordinary men & women able to stand up to those who chose to oppress or rule them unjustly. Only this time, it can be done in a non-violent method, whereby one can peacefully opt out — as John Galt and the ‘men of the mind’ did in Atlas Shrugged.
This, above all else, is why Bitcoin matters, and why the legend of Satoshi will go down in history as the most profound story since the beginning of time (or whichever significant religious event / story you’d like to reference instead).
This fact also just reinforces why megalomaniacs like Craig Wright, and his band of deranged cool-aid drinking followers are simply the antithesis to Satoshi and Bitcoin.
Revolutionaries & Renegades
Bitcoin is the stand we take, this decade, this century, this millennium.
Bitcoin is the tool we use to separate money & state.
Bitcoin is the lightning rod that will bring together the renegades & the revolutionaries.
Bitcoin is of and for the liberators, the missionaries & the visionaries.
The men & women who won’t accept suppression, oppression, or the dictates of a world in which we’re subjugated to the whims of central planners, bureaucrats, rent seekers, attention whores, corrupt politicians, crooked bankers, backdoor dealers, creeping socialism and crony capitalism.
There has never been a tool so incorruptible yet so inherently powerful & accessible.
With it we can reimagine the “state”.
We will transform society.
We will redefine the very essence of what it means to be a modern, collaborative human.
Have I gone off the deep end?
But there’s an entirely new world over here — and at some point, I know you’ll join me.
May this essay be a start….
The separation of Money & State
Make no mistake about it, this century will be defined by the separation of money & state.
It has already started, and nothing can stop it.
It’s inevitable, assuming of course, we plan on surviving.
The alternative is a parasitic dystopian future in which society feeds on itself until it collapses.
So…if we err on the side of humanity’s continuation, we must be honest with ourselves and realise a paradigm shift is nigh.
Even Ray Dalio is coming around. He’s just missing the word Bitcoin from his most recent articles — although I would guess that’s a wise move in his shoes, for if he mentions it in a positive light, it may cause a stampede and drive the god damn price up to $1m a coin prematurely and fuck up the S2F model!
Furthermore, it will mean my shitty fiat will buy less Bitcoin — and we can’t have that (yet).
So Ray, if you’re reading this, keep buying Bitcoin privately. Please.
….Back to separating money & state.
The Paradigm is shifting.
Economically, politically, technologically, socially, ethically and in every other way imaginable.
Davidson & Rees-Mogg, in their seminal pre-2000 work, “The Sovereign Individual”, posited that this shift started in the 90s, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of communism, and the beginning of the information age.
I would tend to agree with them.
Communism was the peak of the parasitic, centralised state, at least measured in terms of brute violence & broad incompetence.
The crony-capitalism & quasi socialism we in the West live with today are very much improvements on the communism of the USSR, and to some degree so is the Communism in China (thanks to the benefits of capitalism that helped enrich their rulers), but the inherent concentration of the unit through which society is measured (ie; money) has led us to a point of diminishing returns, where peak stupidity, peak stimulus, and peak economic distortion mean the government, aka; “the state” can no longer squeeze more out of the system and has begun to feed on itself.
Note that I omitted peak ‘outright’ violence — but I guess that depends on who you ask. The people of Hong Kong, or the Falun Gong would probably disagree with me.
This shift in “feeding on itself” is evident in the comments made by megalomaniacs such as Bernie Sanders or AOC, for example:
“The billionaire class is scared, and they should be”.
Comments as such can only come from parasites who have never produced anything, and can only subsist via the expropriation of the production of another.
This is only possible in a system where the instrument through which we measure economic value is the sole privilege of the state.
But this is now changing.
The separation of money & state is being driven by the individual who now has the technological capacity AND the monetary ability to become more autonomous, independent, sustainable and yes, more sovereign, than they have ever before been.
Whilst the peak of the state may have come 20yrs ago, the shift is on-going.
It will not happen overnight.
Prior shifts have taken multiple generations, if not multiple centuries to occur, and although today, progress much faster, we still have a ways to go.
And it’s not going to be a smooth ride.
Paradigm shifts happen in a tumultuous fashion. They are by definition both constructive AND destructive, simultaneously! Change, in the real world, is a complex process.
Whilst new structures are being built, old structures are coming down, and it will not be smooth. It will not be orderly. It will not be “fair”, and it will not be “equal”, that’s for damn sure.
Your bullshit Keynesian / neo-classical economic & social theories cannot forecast shit, and can do less to make for a “smooth landing” or “elegant deleveraging” (sorry Ray, not likely).
Those who will be most rewarded will, as always, include the lucky (the world abounds with fools of Randomness, eg; Roger Ver), along with the prepared, curious and those hungry for knowledge.
It’s those who get off their asses and dig deeper than the surface who will be best positioned to be on the constructive side of this shift, whilst the lazy, incompetent, ignorant, arrogant and of course, unlucky, will likely find themselves on the destructive.
“Something is Rotten in the state of Denmark”
The Romans experienced it.
So did the Church.
Shakespeare wrote a play about it, almost 500 years ago.
There comes a point when the “state”, or the “empire”, or the “collective” simply starts to rot.
When corruption, rent seeking, politics and all form of non-organic bureaucratic meddling begin to define the function of the very structure that was initially designed for its constituents’ prosperity, you know the end is nigh.
In modern times, the beacon of prosperity has been capitalism.
In fact, ruthless, free-market capitalism is the mechanism of human collaboration that most closely resembles nature.
Power laws, recursive network effects, complex inputs & outputs that are allowed to reach equilibrium of their own accord, rewards & punishment through inherently system-based incentives and of course; luck.
One can draw parallels to these attributes in all natural systems that have evolved over thousands, millions & billions of years.
So what went wrong with capitalism?
How the hell did we wind up with a crony version of capitalism that has rot to the core?
I’ll explain below, but it can be summed up in the following quote by Michael Hopf.
“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
Over time, we humans seem to repeatedly stray from founding principles.
Our forebears, growing up in better times, forget why some decisions were initially made.
It’s worse when those forebears realise they can also run a monopoly over the core resource of the time.
The Church had a monopoly on the written word & education (information).
Capitalism & Science broke that.
The State today, has a monopoly on Money.
Bitcoin is breaking that.
So….why the rot?
Productive or Parasitic
In life, likely on planet Earth & anywhere else there may be life, there are two ways to earn a “living”.
To produce, one must trade their time & energy, in the form of effort, talent, skill and labour, and be rewarded with property, either in the form of currency (money) or in the form of another instrument you deem valuable & commensurate to your work.
To steal, you make someone else’s property your own, without their permission. You take what you want, whether through lying, cheating or most often (as evidenced throughout history), the act of violence.
German sociologist, Franz Oppenheimer calls (1) the “economic means” by which we build wealth.
Economic because there is an additive & multiplicative effect that occurs as a result of the collaborative efforts of the constituents of a society who produce, and then trade their property, and thus both prosper.
Oppenheimer call the other, mutually exclusive method, the “political means”. Political because it is not concerned with the production of new goods or property, but exists and persists through the seizure, appropriation, taxation and theft of said goods & property in the “name” of the collective.
Once again, this fundamentally parasitic nature seems to come to a head every 500yrs if you accept the analysis of Davidson & Rees-Mogg’s work in “The sovereign individual”.
So where are we now?
Understanding which system is dominant in the paradigm within which we’re currently operating is important + useful.
I recently had a conversation with a friend, who I would consider centrist, or moderately conservative in nature (if those labels even mean anything anymore).
She pointed out that centrally managed states such as the Scandinavian countries are the “happiest” in the world today, based on the latest statistics & surveys.
Now — whilst those surveys are laughable at best, let’s just assume that there is a grain of truth in there — the problem with this ‘fact’ is that the “happiness” is being measured during the largest monetary inflation in the history of humanity.
It’s a facade!
And those who are high on this fake happiness are going to feel it the worst as their world crumbles thanks to the bloated social structures that cannot subsist in a new economic reality that is fast approaching.
Furthermore, these ‘happy’ people sacrifice their liberty & personal Sovereignty for the illusion of peace via the benevolence of their leaders — who would very quickly justify behaving more like dictators should dire economic circumstances warrant such actions.
And don’t for a minute think “it will never happen”, because it is happening, NOW.
Former IMF Managing Director, and now head of the ECB, Christine Lagarde recently came out with the following gem:
“Isn’t it true that ultimately we have done the right thing to act in favour of jobs and of growth rather than the protection of savers?”
Implying that people should be grateful for their jobs, whether their savings protected or not.
“you should be grateful, for your master gives you the right to be a slave”
Are you kidding me?
The very notion of paying an institution just to store your money (well, not really ‘your’ money), or being paid to borrow money is utterly absurd — but is slowly being pushed upon us in the west as not only necessary to “stimulate” the heroin-junkie of an economy we now have, but it’s being called “normal”.
Even Dalio is waking up:
“As a result rich capitalists will increasingly move to places in which the wealth gaps and conflicts are less severe and government officials in those losing these big tax payers will increasingly try to find ways to trap them.”
And it’s not just economic madness.
Bernie Sanders, whom I mentioned earlier, is a brilliant example of an old fool espousing a nice-sounding veneer of an ideology with incredibly dangerous roots.
Maybe he was inspired…..
“It is difficult for me to imagine what “personal liberty” is enjoyed by an unemployed person, who goes about hungry, and cannot find employment.
Real liberty can exist only where exploitation has been abolished, where there is no oppression of some by others, where there is no unemployment and poverty, where a man is not haunted by the fear of being tomorrow deprived of work, of home and of bread. Only in such a society is real, and not paper, personal and every other liberty possible.”
Sounds nice right?
That same person went on to say:
“When we hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope we use”
That same person went on to rule the regime that gave us gulags, famine, deportations, massacres, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and was responsible for not only the deaths of millions of people, but the utter oppression of tens of millions more over the ensuing decades.
That person was Joseph Stalin.
(although you may for a moment have thought it was Bernie)
Stalin was, in the early days, viewed as the man who would help the lower class & poor people fight back against the so-called ‘oppressive capitalists’.
Little did those poor people (pun very much intended) realise they would be accepting a modern form of serfdom.
Little did they know how dire the ramifications of such an ideology would be.
And here we are, barely a generation since the god damn Berlin Wall came down, at it again.
This time, from the likes of Bernie Sanders, AOC and Elizabeth Warren — all who want to walk in the shoes of Chairman Mao, Lenin or Stalin himself.
This tweet came out just as I was finishing up this piece, and I had to include it:
Bernie Sanders is merely the modern day equivalent of prior socialist leaders, who embodies the political means of wealth [confiscation] via the power to rob whomever he deems as unworthy.
Welcome to the slippery slope that leads to communism & enslavement.
The only way to maintain such a system is via violence or the threat of said violence.
That’s not freedom.
And no man, woman or child should have to live in a world like that.
One of my favourite lines from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged surmises Hamlet’s quote (the headline of this section) perfectly:
Money is the barometer of a societies virtue.
When you see that in order to produce you must seek permission from those who produce nothing.
When you see money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favours,
When you see that men get richer by graft & by pull, not by work,
When your laws protect the looters more than the consumer,
You will know, that your society is doomed.
Piercing the Veil
Bitcoin’s promise to help bank the unbanked was not to do so by giving them a payments technology. It was to do so by giving them a money via which they have property rights.
Those who live in nations that don’t respect, recognise or value personal property are those who have the most freedom to gain.
Those of us in the west, who are watching the state ever so slyly repeal our property rights have a two-fold motivation to participate in this revolution.
(a) We are able to escape the grip of a modern, technologically empowered iron fist which continues to squeeze, and
(b) We ride a rocket ship to the proverbial ‘moon’ because we had the balls, foresight, insight, vision or dumb luck to get in early.
It’s (a) that I’m personally more interested in though, perhaps due to my personal libertarian bent, or because it’s something I derive a greater sense of “meaning” from (likely both).
Now, you might say that:
“Hey, you’re exaggerating. We’re pretty good here in the West. We have stable social structures, good property rights, and yeah while taxes might be high, that money goes to use. We live a pretty good life”.
By & large I would agree. But I would urge you to look beyond the veil.
The central banking cartel & crony capitalist governments of the west have reached a point in history where they can no longer sustain their structure without squeezing their subjects harder. And they know it.
The signs are evident, as described above.
Furthermore, look around!
These same “stable” governments continue to strip away our freedoms via absurdities such as the Anti-Encryption laws in Australia, anti-cash laws, draconian follow-you-everywhere tax laws, inability to travel freely, panopticon surveillance, increased ‘law enforcement’ powers, speeding ticket optimisation frameworks (you can’t drive around for 10min in Sydney without seeing a cop hiding around the corner ready to book you for blinking) and even new laws empowering their ‘agents’ to force you divulge your private information (eg; decrypting your drives coming into NZ).
Ayn Rand was so poignant, once again:
Laws are designed to be broken, not observed.
When you’re after power,
There’s no way to rule innocent men.
The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
And when there isn’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.
Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens?
There’s nothing in that for anyone.
But pass the kind of laws that cannot be observed, followed or objectively interpreted and you create a nation of criminals & law breakers.
Then you cash in on guilt.
That’s the system.
Cogitos Ergo Sum
I think, therefore I am.
Descartes said this almost 500yrs ago, during the last major transformation in human history; the fall of the dominance of the church & the rise of the merchant-and-science-enabled state.
Much has been said about this recently, particularly in the Bitcoin circles.
I’m sure all the “crapto” people are going to try hijack this soon too, but let it be known here that Bitcoin has been about this from the beginning.
The parallels drawn between the events of the gunpowder revolution, the renaissance, early banking, the rise of the merchant and the fall of the prominence of the church to today’s technological revolution, private, self-sovereign banking, the rise of the sovereign individual and the fall of the state are eerie.
Descartes’ words have never been so profound.
The words “I think” and “I am” are the genesis of the self.
Yes we are all made of the same stuff, but it’s that unique combination of stuff that makes us who we are.
The sanctity of the individual is paramount.
Tony Robbins has a profound quote:
“the most powerful force in the human spirit is the desire to stay consistent with its identity”.
To say “I am” is a claim to one’s identity & independence.
It’s a claim to one’s personal sovereignty — which we can now do so like never before, thanks in large part to Bitcoin.
How you may ask?
Our work is our labour.
Our labour is our time & and our energy.
When we boil it down, they are all we we have, and all we are truly made up of.
To live, to love, to work, to travel, to experience, to remember, to plan, to do anything requires two things: Time & Energy.
We can only effectively measure these through a unit that we can all agree best represents time & energy.
As you’ll learn in this publication, “money” is that unit, and for the first time in history we have a version that can do the job, without being compromised.
It is why Bitcoin is the ultimate tool for personal sovereignty, and the catalyst that leads us to a future more like Star Trek, and less like Terminator.
Incorruptible Property Rights
Bitcoin provides a stable system of property rights without reliance on the State
With it, individuals can be truly self sovereign
The mathematical primitive of strong, open source, modern day cryptography gives us for the first time in history, a method whereby the sanctity of personal property and the act of sacrificing for the future can be maintained WITHOUT the requirement for the protection (or oppression) of the state, the church, the monarch, the feudal lord nor the tribal leader.
In modern times, and in the future that lay before us, Human beings (and potentially machines alike) will be able to save the product of their labour and delay gratification (the very building blocks of society) on their own terms.
As this multiplies, and we are collectively empowered to take back our personal sovereignty (via what is likely the greatest gift to humanity since we became conscious), we have the rare opportunity to define a new form of local & global cooperation that is voluntarist, and non-violent in nature.
Bitcoin’s core “opt in” or “opt out” nature, its open access & its absolute nonchalance / disregard of who or what you are is the basis of this new era we now embark on.
Bitcoin has chosen to not only forego the requirement of the state, but has chosen to do this via the irrefutable conversion of time & energy into a visible, verifiable network and unit.
Through Math, it will help us reinvent the notion of what we humans define as ‘state’.
Cash is the ultimate tool of the sovereign individual.
And in an increasingly digital world, the apogee is a peer to peer electronic cash.
Cash is the ability to transact freely.
And by freely I mean “to do so in a manner uncensored, direct & final”.
That was traditionally only able to be done physically in the real world.
Now it’s able to be done digitally.
Ineptitude on display in the crypto community, for example Roger Ver and his BCash cronies, think free means no cost. They’re unable to understand that costlessness can only mean one of two things:
- It has no value. ie; the very definition of costlessness is something with no value.
- It has value, in which case cheap & free means there is a cost elsewhere. A cost that is most likely draconian in nature.
They think trending toward a centralised payment system for free internet transactions is what was meant by cash. That’s not the freedom cash gives.
Roger clearly got lucky buying bitcoin.
Dumb luck, for the ultimate fool of randomness.
Bitcoin, and banking the unbanked was never about cheap payments.
It was about giving everyone an incorruptible, uncensorable tool for economic prosperity.
Bitcoin was, is and always will be a tool for personal sovereignty.
That’s what was meant by “cash” — which of course Satoshi could not be so blatant & brazen about it back in 2008, lest Bitcoin be left in the dustbin of history alongside other crazy ideas.
He let the protocol and its inherent nature do the talking.
He then chose to walk away, and in doing so let loose something no amount of violence can destroy and no amount of tyranny can control.
The rest is history….and it’s in the making.
We live in a world where our rights are slowly being encroached upon, our privacy is slowly being repealed, and our freedom to truthfully express ourselves is being censored, whether due to deranged “political correctness” on one side or maniacal authoritarian rule on the other (eg; China).
Bernie, and those of his ilk, whether due to incompetence, stupidity, or just being a part of what Taleb calls the “intelligentsia”, believe in treating the symptoms by introducing more interventionist inputs into an already complex system that’s slowly spinning out of control.
This will never work, and will only serve to send society to a real-world hell.
The ONLY way to fix up the fuckery of the current system is to start again.
We must embrace the essence of Kali, cut out the cancer & burn it all down.
The time for negotiations has come to an end.
Libertarians have tried this to no avail, for playing within the confines of the old paradigm is no way to bring about a new one.
The battle for the future is now, and the front lines are where Bitcoin meets the fiat denominated state.
This is a war, and the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been.
Money is the lifeblood of society.
It is wealth, at the very core of what the word means.
He who controls it, controls all of society.
The introduction of free markets was the catalyst for the separation of church & state. The creation of free money is the catalyst for the separation of money & state.
And more than that, it’s also a stake in the heart of today’s state, which has decayed to the point that it’s primary function is to leech, take, suck dry and confiscate your wealth.
Today, it exists no longer to protect you & serve you, but to subdue you.
You are once again it’s subject.
You can see this just by looking at the language used for a group who are supposed to be protecting you: “Law Enforcers”.
When did I agree to pay someone to “enforce” laws upon me which I neither agreed to in the first place?
The state’s control of money is its locus of power. Through this tool, it is able to enforce its will over every facet of our lives.
We, the Bitcoiners of last resort, on the front line, are here to destroy that.
Bitcoin is our chance.
It allows us to take the most important tool of human collaboration, ie; money, aka; the ultimate resource, and make it:
and all in all, un-fuck-with-able.
By removing it from the purview of the state, we:
- Starve the state of its ability to perpetuate it’s parasitic existence
- Get a chance to design a new form of collective collaboration in which personal sovereignty comes first, where the constituents of a society are treated like customers and the “state” or “social collective” is organised by means of POLA (principle of least authority).
The cornerstone of all of this is personal sovereignty & liberty, and this is only possible with Bitcoin.
It’s only possible when the economic unit has personal, private property rights built into its very being.
To paraphrase Winston from 1984 once again, the only thing Big Brother didn’t have control over was what goes on in your head & your heart.
Bitcoin transforms money into a unit that is fundamentally information, and information is both nowhere & everywhere.
It’s both inside of us, and all around us — and when we ourselves know the combination that gives us personal access to that information (money), it’s ours, in the deepest sense of “private property”.
Libertarians, Austrian economists and the natural economists before them had it right — only it was never practical in a world in which the unit of economic measurement could be owned or managed by an organisation, government, collective or state of any kind.
Money has now become an unforgeable form of data, that nobody can control or manipulate — built on a network which nobody needs permission to build products & services on. This foundation allows us to build an entirely new world — not just a financial one, but a new form of society.
So…let us come together…
Bitcoin is now here.
Money is THE battlefront.
This is where the battle lines are drawn.
Not fucking “blockchain”.
Money. It’s THE resource.
And we’re all going to have to pick a side.
Bitcoin is now here.
This is the new counter culture.
This is what it means to be yourself.
To be who you are.
To do what you were born for.
To be truly sovereign.
It’s scary — but it’s liberation, in all its glory.
By Aleks Svetski
The Bitcoin Times Ed 2 is the collaborative work of 8 writers & 1 designer with the intent to educate, inspire and spread ideas on bitcoin.
Each section will be released on Medium as a free long form article, and the full, compiled version of the Bitcoin Times will be available for free at the link below. In 2020, we’ll release a limited edition hard cover collectible, for purchase, which you’ll be notified of by email if you download the free pdf.
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