The first time I saw a video of Amir Taaki, I was blown away by his charisma. He explained how he single-handedly crushed the online poker monopolies, until one day he found Bitcoin. Then he described the first time he read Satoshi’s white paper and how he could understand the code, reading it like an everyday language. I had never seen a person with such personality, who was just as passionate as I was. It gave me goosebumps.
A couple days ago, I watched another video of Taaki rise to the top of the Bitcoin subreddit. Many people said they missed the kind of spirit that Taaki brought to the table, along with others like him, such as Cody Wilson. Whether we like to admit it or not, we think Bitcoin is going through an identity crisis. Or maybe it is we who are suffering, and we do not understand the ghost in the machine?
Large banks and research labs are currently dedicating their resources to figuring out the virtual currency's protocol, with a total of 42 banks backing the creation of digital architecture and using concepts like Ethereum to connect a bank-to-bank system. The crypto community has applauded news of this nature and pushed it to the forefront. Many say these developments differ from the cries for freedom and privacy of cypherpunks such as Julian Assange, Eric Hughes, and early Bitcoin adopters.
As an anarchist, I came to believe in Bitcoin and I hoped it could change the paradigm of money, something we could use to "vacate Wall Street," or use as a counter economic tool against the state. As time has progressed, I've continued to study the attributes of distributed consensus and what the blockchain could really do. It could create autonomous organizations, decentralized governance, borderless identity solutions, and so much more—a Swiss Army knife of financial and ideological disruption. How could I resist?
The Bitcoin protocol to me was something that could help defeat the banks and give this world a taste of pure free markets. But I came to realize early on that the code and the primary objective is not truly for me to decide. Satoshi created and left this cryptocurrency for everyone, including people of every ideology, religion, and human quirk. As much as I love to see Taaki’s position come to life with ideas such as Dark Wallet, that doesn't mean everyone does. Or when Cody Wilson voices his opinion about the state of the cryptocurrency, it doesn't mean everyone in the community will agree.
The realization that Bitcoin is everyone's is sometimes hard for me to swallow, but I did so long ago. Bitcoin is an experiment for all people, whether anarchistic or statist. The protocol will continue to operate. But what is it meant for? Is it for the banking industry to speed up daily monetary transactions? Is it meant to save the traditional financial institutions vast amounts of revenue? It can easily be perceived this way after the 2015 blockchain revelry. Or was Bitcoin created for us, so we can “be our own bank?” We continue to hear the slogan, and we still hear stories about the digital currency ending corruption in our economy.
All this could make someone new to Bitcoin awfully confused when they enter an arena in which one side cheers for banks to buy into the technology, and the other side cheers when libertarians gather to discuss bringing an end to the damage caused by fractional banking and centrality. Nearly every blockchain story or cryptocurrency tale still provides a brief introduction to the 2008 economic crash. Yet some people still applaud the banks who used deceit and corruption in scorn of the good in society. Now these same banks suddenly value fintech over legacy. The tables are turning.
As an anarchist, even without cryptocurrency, I understand that stateless ideas cannot create change over night. I do not stand in the way of people's lives and try to get them to view my ideas as “better” by using coercive speech or force. Instead of preaching down to everyone, I hope for emulation. I work my hardest to practice what I preach and I hope one day someone copies my methods. This same method can be applied to the community who adopts Bitcoin and assigns it for particular utilities. Just as the block size must be decided by consensus, so will be the identity of cryptocurrency in the world's eyes. It will carry no ideology. It will only collect the identity our individual actions put into it over time.
Every now and then, I hear someone say the “libertarian phase” of Bitcoin is over, especially in the past two years. This is far from the truth, however, as many of us still operate behind the scenes and in the forefront of the community, creating and using applications that promote anarchism. Developers continue to build platforms that allow individuals sovereignty over their wealth, as opposed to third-party intrusion. Despite this, many people would still like someone to hold their hand and keep things centralized. Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, a great majority of society still believes in centralization, protectionism, nationalism, and what I believe to be societal failures.
These ideological behaviors, which continue to coexist within the Bitcoin community, reveal the conflict between believing in the state and not accepting it. In the middle, other people swim both ways in the stream. Swimming my own way through the current is the best possible method for me hoping others will see he value of and want to copy my direction. In time, the ways in which we identify the protocol's utilities will grow. As Mises explains in Human Action](https://mises.org/sites/default/files/Human%20Action_3.pdf), each person uses their actions to serve a purpose within the network. Bitcoin was created to be a tool neither of the supporter of central authority, nor for the exclusively anarchistic. We can guarantee there will always be people like Taaki, and others like me who want to use it to spread disruptive behavior, just as you can bet there will continue to be many who love Bitcoin while wanting the opposite of my stateless hopes.
The element of conflicting human ideologies continues, as does the growth of the technology we use. I'm here because of the disruptive potential this code brings to the world. I personally hope it will help end global monopolization and corruption.
Images courtesy of Crypto-graphics.com