Bitcoin And The Philosophy Of Free Choice
Bitcoin allows people to opt out of systems not designed to their benefit, and creates a “network state” of like minded thinking.
The profoundness of philosophy is typically measured in extremities and diversions from a central understood point. This can address the thought collective, or the individual, when discussing knowledge and experiences with the intention of developing a grandiose understanding of the subject at hand, or positing real and lasting change. The road map for such a study is as follows: First, we define the problem of a system. Second, we define a solution for the system. Third, we implement the solution that allows us into a new system. Following this path, we must first define our central understood point, or the problem.
The Problem Is Money
This isn’t your typical “digital gold” conversation, we will step outside of this box for now. No matter one’s political alignment, everyone can basically agree the system is broken. But which “system” are we referring to? A system can be anything from the order you prepare yourself in the morning, to machines used to further our understanding of quantum physics.
Do we mean the financial system? Sure, that plays into it. The nonstop inflation, the quantitative easing growing, repo rates going to never-before-seen levels, certainly finance has to do with it. Covid-19 vaccine response to less than your liking? Public education response to a global pandemic not conducive to your wants? Did the moratorium on rent only succeed in delaying interest-frozen debt? Job never called you back when you were deemed unessential? Social Security’s absence for your retirement causing existential questions of the requirements asked of your income? Maybe it’s just the fact that you can’t stand needing a license for every “freedom” you think you have. Well, who controls all of this?
The Problem Is The State
This is not a manifesto for anarchism, though I do wander closer to it each day. The problem is that the state has failed us. Financially, bureaucratically, generally, and fully, the state has failed us. The reason for this failure is the incentive. The incentive to serve the people of majority in the system has evaporated and the majority amassed far less wealth than the minority, and the minority reigns as the supreme being. Legislation is crafted under the burdensome weight of cash.
In a fiat standard, the answer is always more: more printing, more bailouts, more tax cuts, more quantitative easing, more securities, more taxes, more, more, and more. In an ecosystem of debt, we will just raise the ceiling.
If the system is the state, and fiat fuels the system by allowing the minority to ignore the majority for lack of voice in the existing system, then exit the system. This brings us to the solution.
The Solution Is Exit The State
Easier said than done, right? Not anymore. This isn’t as simple as “if you don’t like it then leave.” Exiting the state, or exiting the existing system, does not imply nor encourage complete nullification of the state. Exiting the state simply means choosing to opt-out of the system designed against you, and opting into a system that is designed for you.
In a previous article, I spoke on how “Fiat Is The State”, and “Bitcoin Is Stateless.” Without rehashing what either of those statements means, let’s just assume they are true. Fiat currencies are beholden to their states, and bitcoin is beholden to no one, it is “stateless.”
Theoretically, if our problem is the state, and the antithesis of the state is being anti-state, or “stateless,” then Bitcoin stands as the logical solution to the existing problem as it allows you to exit the current system by utilizing its global network to exit the given system of your state.
Buying bitcoin isn’t enough to fix the system, it simply allows the individual gratification of successfully exiting a system weighted against you, and this is only if one follows in the path of becoming sovereign over their own wealth, as the purchase of a coin does not constitute a full exit. How then do we accomplish this for the collective, rather than the individual? How do we implement sovereignty?
Implementing A Solution Of Sovereignty
This piece is not a technical walkthrough such as the setting up of a node or explaining how wallets work. Instead, we will focus on a solution for the collective, rather than the individual. How do we accomplish a collective exit of the current system? One person at a time.
The first premise must be understood. There is a problem, and that problem is the state. Bitcoin allows individuals to operate outside of the bounds of any surrounding state (go read that article from earlier if you still haven’t), making Bitcoin the solution, or the exit from a system. To implement exiting the system, you must first be capable of truly exiting the system. Most individuals are not yet fully capable of a complete exit of the system, and that is okay. We don’t need to all do it; we may not even need to do it all. We must simply be willing to if we need it. What does it mean to exit the system?
Bitcoin functions as a global currency, backed by the efforts put into maintaining the network by nodes and miners. Nodes are basically just people with a computer that validates transactions. Miners actually solve the encryption used by Bitcoin by expending electricity. This expenditure of tangible resources allows us to associate a value based on the resources spent. This system exists outside of the state, as the state has no power over the protocol. The state cannot decide to create more bitcoin, only a network consensus can do that. The state cannot hide transactions because Bitcoin is a public ledger that keeps everyone accountable. Any node can check any transaction that has ever happened. Owning your own coins, taking the sovereign leap, and taking control of your own coins with self-custody, and being able to function with a fungible currency anywhere in the world, that… is exiting the system.
Once enough individuals have taken their exit of the system, not completely abandoning it, or leaving, but by the possession of a new asset, they can now exist outside of the state. Now, one person, one coin, one wallet, may not be the largest concern of the state. However, were 30, or 40% of citizens or more capable of an exit, or threatening an exit, then perhaps the state becomes willing to listen. Perhaps, to get this new asset you hold in a system they cannot touch, they create more incentive for you to want to opt back in with rewards of some sort. Perhaps it’s a restructuring of the entire system, and perhaps the old way is cast to the darkened pits of human failure, written about in learned texts of the future, telling of a lost and scattered time.
To state it shortly, exit the system together, and make them work to get you back. Once this takes place, we move to the last ideal in this pursuit of sovereignty. We must now replace the system, but with what?
The Network State Versus A Network State
These are two separate ideals that represent completely different ideologies. One of them is now, and in almost everything we do, while the other is a not-too-distant future.
“A Network State” is something that has been popularized by Balaji Srinivasan. He argues that the collective bargaining power of like-minded individuals that are prepared to exit the system can control a heartily-weighted opinion that is difficult to ignore. He speaks to the possibilities of these voiced collectives earning statehood, pooling assets, buying properties, and creating their own virtual and physical communities within, or outside of specific nation-states.
“The Network State” is something else entirely. It’s the nomenclature of collective consensus:the ideas that permeate within each individual that steps out of the current system. Once a Bitcoiner becomes a Bitcoiner, they then enter into the collective consensus, or “The Nation State of Bitcoin” (if you will).
“The Network State” allows for collective thought and continued growth in ideals as well as countless other benefits. “A Network State” is the manifestation of a digital community that is recognized in an official capacity. “A Network State” is not a requirement but is most assuredly the path we are set upon. “The Network State” is imperative, nay, essential for future adoption.
“A Network State” would have to be born of those belonging to “The Network State.” But being part of “The Network State,” does not require admittance into “A Network State.” Read it again.
This choice is inherent and arguably dogmatic of Bitcoin. A requisite to enter a network state after exiting the existing system stands in opposition to the ideology of freedom deeply rooted in the protocol. To enter the system of a network state requires the absolute release of the previous system, but also requires the absence of any system.
Both the leaving of the original system and the lack of need for a new one, are what gives an individual true choice in the adoption of a new system. Without choice, you were simply forced into upgrading your analog system for a digital one.
This is a guest post by Shawn Amick. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.