The only battle worth fighting for today
This is part 4 of the “Hodler’s Gay Science” serie
Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard.
Revolution without violence
Bitcoin is the eventuality of the more radical revolution humanity ever witnessed. It is the story of how random people from all around the world might be able to silently rip off the most powerful elite we have ever seen without firing a single gunshot. It is not only creating an alternative to the existing monetary system, but a whole social and philosophical alternative that is slowly growing out of Bitcoin and its community.
Ask any bitcoiner, they will all tell you pretty much the same story of how Bitcoin got them interested and involved in intellectual fields that they didn’t even know the existence of before. Words like “fiat money” that were seldom used a decade before are know common and understood by more and more people, obscure cryptographic concepts like asymetric cryptography are now known to a wider non-specialist public. Austrian Economics is going through a revival and now expand beyond the hardocre libertarian circles.
It is even more staggering when you think that despite being this radical, it is at the same time the only absolutely non-violent revolution that will ever exist.
The battles ahead
Don’t get me wrong, it might pretty much fail, in fact it is truly a miracle that it already lasted for 10 years. Despite the revolution itself being non-violent, don’t expect the people in charge to go away gracefully and not fight back as soon as they will understand what’s really going on.
Some people wonder why Bitcoin is still not banned everywhere in the world. Let’s put aside “they don’t get it”, and suppose they perfectly understood the kind of threat they’re facing with Bitcoin (well, at least for the US government, because the french one is obviously clueless). Given the present situation, an actual all-out war against Bitcoin might be seen as counterproductive, as it is a relatively minor and remote threat for the moment, and a clamp-down will unnecessarily attract everyone’s attention and worry people that have been unsuspicious so far.
Let’s steelman and admit that governments have as good an understanding of Bitcoin as we have: how would we attack Bitcoin? I guess I would not attack it frontally since it has been designed with this kind of threats in mind. The Achille’s heel of Bitcoin is the commitment it demands from its users to audit transactions themselves. If you can keep away enough users from doing this and channel them to Coinbase instead, you actually weaken the whole organism, and if eventually you attempt a clamp-down it will be a lot easier to shut down or take over a few companies than physically arrest hundreds of thousands or (hopefully!) even millions of your own citizens.
Another interesting possibility would be that major powers like the US and China don’t actually want to kill Bitcoin at all. They are probably conscious that the monetary system as it is today won’t last forever, and if we see Bitcoin as a possible way out in case of catastrophic failure, why would it be different for the men of the State? It might be that we’re presently stuck in a giant prisoner’s dilemma between superpowers, and that Bitcoin is actually seen as an opportunity to take the upper hand, but only to be used at the right moment, because as soon as one major country moves, there’s no turning back.
What’s to be done?
We already heard a lot, and have been hearing even more recently that “crypto (meaning here the only one that ever matters, Bitcoin) don’t solve any real-world problem; it’s just a weird experiment for nerds and libertarians”.
On the contrary, I would argue that Bitcoin has a very serious shot at solving some real-world problems. It is an attempt to solve pretty much the only problems we should ever need to care of. It will just take some time to, because we’re not talking about the last petty technological gadget here, you don’t do this kind of (r)evolution overnight.
Of course, to get my point you have to consider that:
- State of endless wars abroad and emergency at home
- Infinite growth of the government and it taking more and more decisions on your behalf regarding your own life
- Rewarding irresponsible behaviour, pettiness, frivolity and submission while punishing hard work, saving, prudence and freedom
- People turning nihilistic and indebted, without even being able to tell how they got into this mess
…are even problems in the first place. If not, then you are probably a journalist or a politician, and you have no reason to have any interest whatsoever in Bitcoin, and I won’t blame you for that. Just keep ignoring it and you’ll be fine for some more time. If you’re old enough, you might even hope to get away with it.
On the contrary, if you know or even confusely feel that any or all of the points above are wrong, that things don’t have to be this way and if you want to make a difference, then investing your time and energy in learning, thinking, trying and finally hodling bitcoins for you and the people you care about is the best course of action you can possibly take here and now for 2019.
There’s no more beautiful battle to be fought on the beginning of this new year, and I hope it will still be for many years to come.
If you don’t get it, I hope the year that begins won’t make you understand the hard way. You still have some time to sort it out, just don’t get caught on the wrong side of history.