Wendy McElroy: Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society – The Technology is the Revolution

Wendy McElroy: Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society – The Technology is the Revolution

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The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations
Section 5: Saving the World Through Anarchism
Chapter 11, Part 3
Crypto Anarchism and Civil Society. The Technology is the Revolution.
by Wendy McElroy

Not only is democracy mystical nonsense, it is also immoral. If one man has no right to impose his wishes on another, then ten million men have no right to impose their wishes on the one, since the initiation of force is wrong (and the assent of even the most overwhelming majority can never make it morally permissible). Opinions—even majority opinions—neither create truth nor alter facts. A lynch mob is democracy in action.

–Morris Tannehill, The Market for Liberty

The simplicity of anarchism is stunning: live and let live. Do not use force against those who also pursue their own lives.

Most people are anarchists in how they conduct daily life with family, associates, and strangers. Whether or not law enforcement is present, most people behave peacefully, and being violent never occurs to them. It is not a police presence that makes people wake their children for breakfast or greet their neighbors on the sidewalk. Legislation does not persuade them not to murder strangers. Civil society does. It manifests the natural harmony of interests between human beings as they interact and separate to pursue their own self-interests.

Violence is the greatest obstacle to the functioning of civil society, especially violence in the form of a state. Just as society consists of individuals cooperating to achieve their own goals, the state consists of individuals who use force for the same purpose; they want wealth and status without earning it. That’s the key difference between the two forms of social organization. With cooperation, both sides benefit from an exchange, or else it does not occur. With violence, one side benefits at the expense of the other; it is might versus the right of people to enjoy their own bodies and property.

In order to continue the flow of unearned benefits, a state must continue to use force or the threat thereof. A successful state does two things: it institutionalizes violence; and it mimics civil society by monopolizing valuable services that would otherwise exist commercially and competitively, such as the adjudication of disputes. The monopoly itself is an act of violence against competitors and so-called customers. The two maneuvers allow the state to embed and to legitimize its power. Individual consent is gradually replaced by state coercion, and the principles of civil society are slowly eroded.

Individuals are vulnerable to the institutionalized and well-organized violence of the state. This is a paradox. The state exists only because individuals produce wealth that it confiscates and regulates. How does the impotent state retain its control over the power of individuals? Why don’t people say “no”?

Part of the answer is the centralization of state violence that intimidates people into the mockery of ongoing cooperation that is called obedience. State violence is centralized into institutions that coordinate the control of society; that is, they control individual exchanges and whatever benefits result. By contrast, individuals are decentralized; most people go about their own business and sleep in their own beds at night. They band together in larger homogeneous groups only when there is an advantage to doing so, such as producing goods or enjoying community. Banding together—centralizing–against state violence means that the violence has become egregious enough for people to disrupt their own lives and risk injury in order to oppose it.

Modern technology is more than a game changer in this dynamic; it is a game reversal. Cryptocurrency epitomizes this. The state centralizes control of wealth through institutions, such as central banking, and a monopoly on the services they provide. Crypto decentralizes the locus of power down to the level of individuals; it gives them back control over their own exchanges. Remember: civil society is the cumulative exchanges of the individuals within it; the state is the cumulative use of force to control those exchanges. Technology returns individuals to the conditions of civil society without a need to relinquish its benefits or to fear violence from the state.


Decentralizing The Revolution

Civil society is empowered and state violence is rendered impotent by three revolutionary steps, each of which occurs due to a radical decentralization of power.

Encryption returns privacy to the individual. Strong cryptography is the antithesis of the massive data collection that states rush to establish. Centralized data allows the state to regulate every activity within a society; gradually, society and the state merge into one unit called the total state. But individuals who control their own data can control their own lives.

The impact of this decentralization is much more than economic. It does more than deprive the state of taxes and other forms of revenue. The technology is a political revolution in and of itself. Consider one example. Modern technology—from encryption to the blockchain to 3-D printers—obsoletes the geographical borders that define a state; namely, a state is the organization that claims a monopoly or jurisdiction of force over a given territory. Its jurisdiction is defended through harsh border policies and tariffs, as well as through military force, if necessary or opportune. But what happens when individuals can leap continents at will to conduct the daily business of exchanging information and wealth? What happens when they do so without permission and privately, simply by pressing a button? Borders become meaningless. How long before states follow suit?

The founding crypto anarchist, Timothy May, considered the boundary-breaking feature important enough to be the opening paragraph of his pivotal 1994 work “Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities.” May wrote, “The combination of strong, unbreakable public key cryptography and virtual network communities in cyberspace will produce interesting and profound changes in the nature of economic and social systems. Crypto anarchy is the cyberspatial realization of anarcho-capitalism, transcending national boundaries and freeing individuals to make the economic arrangements they wish to make consensually.”

Technology sidesteps trusted third parties. The state exerts control through monopoly institutions with which individuals must comply if they want to participate in what remains of civil society. The central banking system is an example. In partnership, the state and the banks create money and monetary policies that are enforced by draconian laws; some nations punish counterfeiting with death. The money monopoly offers the state more than economic benefits, such as taxation and inflation. The data collected by banks is a mainstay of social control in two ways. The information and detailed records of every financial transaction are shared with the state, which uses it for social control. Those who eschew the banking system, along with those who are denied access by the system itself, are shut out of important aspects of civil society and from “services” offered by the state; they become secondary citizens. This, too, is social control.

Again, peer-to-peer technology is a game changer here. It sidesteps the trusted third party problem by providing banking services without an intermediary. Individuals become self-bankers, who exchange wealth through their own wallets and an autonomous network. If sophisticated monetary exchanges are desired, then a self-banker can hold an amount in a decentralized and reputable exchange for as long as the transaction requires. Privacy is maintained, and control of specified wealth is temporarily relinquished in exchange for a benefit. This is as close as crypto comes to needing a trusted third party. And, ideally, the decentralized exchange is worthy of trust, in the same manner as a private lawyer who facilitates a contract.

Bypassing unwanted intermediaries was the intent behind the blockchain. Satoshi Nakamoto announced this feature in the first lines of his 2008 White Paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Satoshi wrote, “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required…”

Freedom no longer requires consensus or groundswell support. This is a comparatively unacknowledged aspect of crypto’s revolutionary impact: the decentralization of revolution down to the individual level. In traditional revolutions, masses of people take to the street after being convinced of the need to rebel. A crypto revolution does not require the centralization of political awareness or resistance within crowds of people who become powerful enough to confront the state. Decentralized individuals can free themselves, one by one, even if they remain a small minority. The more individuals who choose digital exchanges and decentralizing technology, the greater the impact on society will be.

But crypto will never appeal to everyone. Nor should it. The diversity of human beings is too vital and productive to be reined in. The beauty of a radically decentralized revolution is that it succeeds on an individual level; it has no need for consensus rebellion in the streets or collective action at the ballot boxes. Just as crypto anarchy sidesteps trusted third parties, it also bypasses the traditional means by which individuals can achieve freedom.

Everyone can be a self-banker. Everyone can be a self-revolution.


A Mystery Is Solved

The vision of crypto anarchism makes sense of what must be a mystery to many observers: Why did the creators of crypto, the blockchain, and associated technology release their inventions for free? Why was highly-valuable technology thrown to the wind and dispersed like seeds? It was not because crypto anarchists didn’t realize the technology’s potential. Quite the opposite. They saw it clearly.

Crypto anarchists believe that enabling others to control their own lives is an unalloyed “good.” Each person’s peaceful freedom benefits that of everyone else. It creates the community and world in which the crypto anarchists wish to live. The crypto revolutionaries released the technology in the same manner and for the same reason that people teach others how to read. Literacy enriches both individuals and society as a whole. It is not possible for a cynic to explain why the the incredibly valuable phenom of crypto was given away for free. It is a trivial task for idealists.


The State’s Main Chance 

Violence. Violence is how the state maintains itself; it is also the main hope to defeat the threat of crypto freedom. To do so, the state needs to convince people that crypto is the violent factor. Then, the state must convince people that it is what stands between them and “anarchy,” in every bad sense of that word.

There is a grain of truth to the statist claim. All societies contain violence because it is an aspect of human nature. With crypto, the violence is overwhelmingly expressed through fraud and theft. “How can the damage of violence be reined in and rectified?” is always last question asked of peaceful anarchism. And, then, discussion is closed down. It is now time to consider how law enforcement and a court system could be provided by the free market.

[To be continued next week.]

Reprints of this article should credit bitcoin.com and include a link back to the original links to all previous chapters


Wendy McElroy has agreed to ”live-publish” her new book The Satoshi Revolution exclusively with Bitcoin.com. Every Saturday you’ll find another installment in a series of posts planned to conclude after about 18 months. Altogether they’ll make up her new book ”The Satoshi Revolution”. Read it here first.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 Listings

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 Listings

Emerging Markets

Over the last year bitcoin cash adoption has been thriving and in certain regions, BCH merchants are spreading like wildfire. Thanks to a slew of cryptocurrency payment processors and people pressing for adoption there are thousands of BCH accepting merchants these days. One application called Marco Coino helps bitcoiners find BCH brick-and-mortar retailers on a global map and the platform now hosts over 500 known merchants.

Also read: New Qart Wallet Gives Bitcoin Cash QR Codes a Personal Touch

Finding Brick-and-Mortar Bitcoin Cash Merchants With Marco Coino

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 ListingsGetting merchants to accept bitcoin cash (BCH) and spreading global adoption is a big deal to a lot of digital asset proponents. For a while now, many retailers have been turned on to BCH because of enthusiasts spreading adoption, low fees, fast settlement and there’s also been a variety of payment processors helping progress the cause. With all the BCH accepting merchants popping up, one application called Marco Coino provides people with the means to find nearby merchants that accept bitcoin cash. The platform has been around for a few months now and has been steadily gaining more listings nearly every day. At the time of publication, there are 504 BCH accepting merchants located on the Marco Coino global map.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 ListingsMarco Coino can be viewed in both ‘map’ and ‘satellite’ settings.

The Marco Coino application is available for mobile phones using Android and iOS and the platform has a desktop version as well. The desktop version explains the project is focused on “helping Bitcoin Cash become the global, instant, practically free payment network for everyday use by everyone around the world.” The Marco Coino map of the world can be viewed in ‘map’ or ‘satellite’ mode, but in order for the platform to use the user’s specific location, the owner has to approve the permissions using the operating system’s location services.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 ListingsUsers can submit a merchant to be added to the Marco Coino listings.

Bitcoin Cash Adoption Shines in Slovenia, Columbia, North Queensland, and Japan

Right now there are strong concentrations of merchants in the US, Europe, South America, Africa, and many countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Looking closer at the global map, people can see there are even more concentrated areas in places like Japan, North Queensland, Columbia, the east and west coasts of the United States, and a ton of merchants in Slovenia. In addition to the merchant map, Marco Coino users can also submit a specific retailer to be listed on the platform so users can easily find the location. The platform also has linking abilities where links can be tied to locations and places in Marco Coino.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Directory Marco Coino Surpasses 500 ListingsSome of the most concentrated areas of BCH merchants worldwide include Japan, North Queensland, Columbia, and Slovenia.

The Marco Coino bitcoin cash merchant directory is very helpful when searching for physical locations that accept BCH for goods and services. The application’s list of merchants is regularly updated and users can literally see new merchants popping up in great number. The creator of Marco Coino, Brendon Duncan, explained to news.Bitcoin.com that most of the recent growth has stemmed from Slovenia and Colombia.

What do you think about the Marco Coino bitcoin cash merchant directory? Let us know your thoughts about this subject in the comments section below.


Images via Shutterstock, Marco Coino, Jamie Redman, and Pixabay.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com

The Daily: Blockchain Surveillance vs Privacy Protocols

The Daily: Blockchain Surveillance vs Privacy Protocols

The Daily

The battle for privacy is ramping up. Every day, in the cryptocurrency space, we learn of increased blockchain surveillance, countered by the efforts of privacy protocol developers. We’ve got stories from both sides of the divide in this episode of The Daily, plus a “bitcoin mansion” that’s up for sale.

Also read: Blockchain Surveillance Firm Partners With Cryptocurrency Exchange Binance

Flagging Bitcoin Volume – But What Does It Mean?

Trading volume in the cryptocurrency markets has been low of late, with BTC, as the market leader, particularly exposed. One analyst, who’s been studying bitcoin’s trade volume all the way back to 2012, has observed that the intraday range for the past two months ranks in the bottom decile. “It’s now the fourth longest consecutive period where volume has been this low,” he noted. While low volume is generally a bearish sign, Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee has pointed out that, based on historical data, there may soon be some relief:

The Daily: Blockchain Surveillance vs Privacy Protocols

Hedge Fund Chief Offers Mansion for Bitcoin

The Daily: Blockchain Surveillance vs Privacy ProtocolsRoy Niederhoffer’s NY mansion

Roy Niederhoffer, founder of an eponymous hedge fund, has a big old mansion to sell in New York. The wealthy financier purchased the property in 2013 while renovating his Manhattan pad. Now he’s ready to put his temporary Riverside Drive mansion on the market, but there’s a twist – Niederhoffer wants BTC. The 10,720-square-foot property is on the market for $15.9 million. He will accept either cash or the equivalent in BTC.

“I’m a big believer in bitcoin. I really am so bullish on it, and I want to own more of it,” he told Bloomberg. “Whatever the obligations and brokers fees are, I would pay in cash and keep the bitcoin.”

The Battle for Privacy Heats Up

On Oct. 19, Monero upgraded its protocol to include Bulletproofs. The tech, developed by Benedict Bunz and Jonathan Bootle, reduces the size of confidential transactions, helping to minimize blockchain bloat. This is a particular problem with Monero, whose privacy tech grants anonymity at the expense of larger transaction sizes on account of Ring CT. Bulletproofs, while not technically a privacy feature, provide a more efficient means of verifying the information stored within confidential transactions. The technology is also of interest to bitcoin users, as it has the potential to be implemented on BTC and BCH in conjunction with a complementary privacy protocol.

The Daily: Blockchain Surveillance vs Privacy ProtocolsThe new Bulletproof Monero

Privacy is a key battleground in cryptocurrency, with many users resenting the trend towards blockchain surveillance. Binance is the latest exchange to have gone down this route, teaming up with Chainalysis to scrutinize the source of customer funds. A Gemini customer, meanwhile, claims to have received a probing request for information or face having his account shut down:

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter and Bloomberg.


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