For bitcoiners, it is something of a parlor game to think of ways Bitcoin could be killed.
As the author points out early in his piece, Bitcoiners “love dystopian sci-fi about 50 times more than the average person.” From my perspective, this latter seems to be the most pertinent, factual, and enlightening point.
I could never have made this observation myself (trying to keep it to the facts ma’am) when trying to get at what makes a person a crypto “believer”. But it goes a long way to explaining what brings together such a large cohort of technically educated folks and the proto-anarchists, the nearly child-like believers and/or vehement opportunists that make up the majority of folks in the space.
Before moving onto just the facts, I take a moment to make explicit why I understand this. As Mr. Lawler points out, the crypto-warriors see the world neatly split between a clear good and a clear evil. No gray, no nuance, no complexity. They associate size or apparent overt superior power as a core feature of evil, not whether the “evil” is really evil. After that, they add random other things evil-doers do that demonstrate evil characteristics… that make no sense if you really think about them. This is often a core piece of narrative that sounds sophisticated. This is one of the best examples in the piece:
“These monetary villains have inflated away over 95% of the US Dollar’s purchasing power since the inception of the Fed. (Astonishingly, the Dollar seems to have gotten off lucky compared to most other currencies.)”
Here is your check for this: Exactly in the above-mentioned period of inflation (since 1913), Americans achieved the highest standards of living in the entire history of the world. Not too mention the rate of other metrics such as longevity, health outcomes, food-safety, and a vast range of comforts that were previously only available to the extreme rich: Normal people could afford to own books. (My personal favorite after health-outcomes). All wealthy advanced democratic societies have followed the same model with similar or better outcomes. See Europe.
So if you’re a fan of facts and empirical, scientific method, etc. Mr. Lawler’s previous quote and a vast store of other such renderings common to crypto-believers is a-contextual, ahistoric, and unempirical. This also includes the vast conspiratorial-minded collection of “Gold bugs, bitcoiners, and anyone who has done even minimal research into the history of fractional-reserve banking”.
That an AIER article is referenced on the “Cantillion Effect” reflects another common feature of the community: “belief” in Libertarianism (if not post-apocalyptic anarchism). Libertarianism is a values-prescriptive ideology in search of evidence, which like Communism, its contrahent in value-prescriptive ideologies, ordains a set of principles and practices that suggest that even in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, can still be valid. I often refer to Libertarianism and Communism as the “please show me a past or currently functioning system that has succeeded similar to the empirical-only Keynesian view of economics and I’ll buy you a beer” problem. But, moving back to the main thread…
Here is a quick inventory of non-facts, half-truths and other oddities characteristic of the space:
“Decentralization is what makes the Internet impervious to nuclear attack.”
A nuclear attack probably cannot take the entire Internet down (depends on the number of countries participating), but properly targeted at Equinix’s (and others’) datacenters and/or power grid could effectively put most if not all of it in the USA out of action. But let’s point out: the internet is distributed. To call the Internet “decentralized” is strange remark coming from a crypto-believer, and a technically fluent one at that.
“Decentralization is what makes mosquitoes the world’s deadliest animal, despite the bigger, toothier competition.”
This is like saying “because they’re so many of them…and we’ve stopped using DDT” Mosquitos do not kill their prey like “the toothier competition”; their biome accidentally kills making the comparison false. And Man is the deadliest animal and man is about as non-decentralized as our internet exchange facilities and likely more vulnerable to a couple wrong mutations of a couple microorganisms.
“No one is lobbying on behalf of Bitcoin.”
If you mean Lobbying, meaning writing position papers, writing sample legislation, holding events for politicians, contributing money to them or their causes, creating media events to sway politicians, creating organizations to do all this, hiring existing pros…. Well, this one is a lot of horsedoo. Please feel free to contact me for a list of all of these “not lobbying”.
“You insure your investment by putting some Bitcoin directly into the hands of currently-neutral legislators who could influence policy in the future.” Note: I’m not saying that I know any whales are lobbying like this. I am saying it defies common sense to think none of them are.”
Two things here: 1) I’m figuring this and the following is a condoning of bribery and 2) You can’t think of any of these whales because bribery is illegal and with the “advantages of Bitcoin” you can make this transaction and… yup, no one knows.
“I’m sorry, my cypherpunk friends, but your apocalyptic future-war visions will have to wait for the killer robots.”
Quite the contrary, Mr. Lawler. It is not an accident that the Bitcoin’s first success was SilkRoad. Nor is it an accident that ISIS and other terror groups are promoting it as the best way to fund their activities. Add these to the ease with which resource and wildlife and human-trafficking, hacking extortion, arms trafficking, etc. can easily avoid not just AML/KYC regimes, but any traceability.
It’s also not a surprise that Bitcoin is probably most being pushed by every anti-government organization. However, these organizations are almost entirely operating in and against western liberal democracies. China, Russia, et al. can’t have such things. The elites and oligarchs in corrupt, non-western liberal democracies can force everyone to use the national currency while laundering their money into that of stable prosperous western democracys’ hard currencies.
In well run liberal democracies, the central banks successfully play a role in managing an economy. Now, I realize that most crypto-believers believe that vast, modern complex, economies manage themselves and the less they’re managed, the better. Of course, there is only theory (belief) and no functioning example, unless you refer to Somalia, which they don’t.
So, in sum, dear Cypherpunk friends, you’re in luck. You will get your longed for apocalyptic future societies, thanks in large part to the success of decentralized currencies.