Blockchain: The Ultimate Boon Or Bondage?

in cryptocurrency •  last year

In a recent blog post, author and international investor Simon Black (aka 'Sovereign Man') raised a good point, yet one that is seldom considered:

"Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology are the final nails in the coffin, making it possible to hold your savings in the cloud rather than at a bank.

And if that seems too esoteric, consider that your savings is already ‘digital currency’.

Banks don’t keep bricks of physical cash in their vaults; your bank balance is nothing more than an accounting entry in your bank’s electronic database.

It just happens to be 100% controlled by your bank.

They can gamble your savings away on some idiotic investment fad, charge you ridiculous fees without your consent, and even freeze you out of your own account (‘for your own security’) or deny you the right to withdraw funds."

Black is correct. When you hear of the trillions in government bailouts and 'quantitative easing', it isn't as though Uncle Sam is lowering the machine arm on ye' ole' printing press and printing up trillions in new paper currency. Far from it. Fiat dollars are for the most part already digitized.

Yet another recent article on cryptocurrency appeared a few days back in The Atlantic, which takes a contrary tone, entitled Cryptocurrency Might Be a Path To Authoritarianism, and asks whether blockchain technology is paving the way toward a more centralized and troubling authoritarian agenda, rather than increasing people's independence as Black argues.

The author of that piece, Ian Bogost, is right to voice a concern, arguing in part that the blockchain has the potential to unleash the kind of surveillance state apparatus few tyrants have ever dreamed of. Perhaps we coud imagine it as Ed Snowden trapped in a Nightmare On Elm Street, haunted not by Fred Kruger but by the specter of now deceased Zbigniew Brzezinski, with no chance of ever waking up.

Still, the net effect of nearly any technology is governed first and foremost by the aggregate will or intention of the those who wield it, than it is by the technology alone.

On that note, the author's blanket admonition against the average crypto advocate was entirely laughable, warning that, "if individuals alone maintained currency records, money could be used fraudulently, or fabricated from thin air."

As if bankers have not already been doing that (fabricating currency from thin air) for years upon years, almost since their inception. This goes to show how disingenuous, if not dishonest, so much journalism is today.

Journalists routinely and sanctimoniously remind us of the supposed myriad dangers of the individual bad actor, as though holding forth an image of Orwell's Goldstein for readers to collectively shriek at, arguing that it is from such lone wolves that society must be protected, and from whom we must run into the arms of some bureaucracy to be saved. Yet, conveniently they often fail to cite the facts that the same rabble of bureaucrats – a pack of wolves, as it were – are hopelessly enmeshed in the very abuses they purport to be stalwarts against. Not only that, but such well concerted, self-sanctioned abuse, is by and large a far greater threat to humanity than could ever be posed by individuals bad actors.

Bogost goes on to say, “In the extremist libertarian aspiration, smart contracts would allow anonymous actors to trade anything whatsoever in an untraceable way, via unregulatable markets.”

It may not have occurred to Bogost that the desire by some individuals to remain anonymous in their economic dealings is not without cause, but rather a healthy reaction of sane men and women seeking to buffer themselves against the gross overreach of the State in it's ever-growing demand for omniscience.

What's that!? Lo', over there, an individual who just wants to be left alone! Crucify him! Meanwhile, government spooks at the NSA who are themselves operating in an untraceable way excercise quiet dominion over the entire spectrum of human communication with complete impunity. But never mind about that. Such is typical of the air of mainstream media that acts as a mouthpiece for corporate sponsors and government goons at their readers expense.

Whether cryptocurrency will help people release themselves from the shackles of authoritarianism and the current world economic order or only tighten those shackles further remains to be seen. But make no mistake: The blockchain is here. As you read this it's already being worked with by large banking firms such as JP Morgan and Mellon Bank of NY, various Fortune 500's including Microsoft, and even the United Nations. It's going to change the face of technology, the internet, and so many other ways in which we interact with the world and with each other that it's difficult to grasp. The blockchain is going to be as least as disruptive as the internet itself, but its potential to benefit or to thwart humanity will largely depend upon how each of us individually choose to use (or misuse) it.


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Very nice writeup.

It will be fascinating to see how these two worlds mix with the increased attention by the big banks and financial world.

Will be be oil and water? Fresh water and salt water? Or, as optimistic digitial libertarians think, something else entirely?

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Thank you. Indeed it will be fascinating, and we will be living through it.

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The beauty of the free market, we know not what wonders it will weave. I have no idea how all of this works, but im sure it's going to change my life, hopefully for the better. What an incredible existence we would have without the state though. Would the block chain concept even have occurred without the existence of the state? Liked your article Michael.

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" Would the block chain concept even have occurred without the existence of the state? "

That's a really great question to ponder.