I realise that there are many anarchist-inclined bitcoin enthusiasts excited about the fact that bitcoin isn’t government-run; obviously however we’re not all anarchists so just thought I’d try and flesh out the topic of governments and bitcoin from the other angle. Yay textwall!
It’s one thing to be opposed to governments in principle, but especially for people who don’t know anyone working in government there’s a bit of a tendency to go all crazy around here about what “the government agenda” is or how “the government” will try and automatically repress any new idea. The truth is that governments are just made up of people. Forming any kind of cohesive idea amongst government members is a massive job in and of itself, as I well know from my own experience in politics–it’s simply not true that there’s one big organised conspiracy called “The Government” in any country. Even flat-out dictatorships have a wider array of differing opinions “within the ranks” than you might think.
Governments and technology have an interesting relationship. On the one hand members of governments tend to be well-connected, established people with an investment in the status quo. It also takes a lot of time to succeed in politics at any significant level, which means that many policymakers aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of technology. I won’t be so unkind as to call them flat-out dinosaur luddites (or maybe I just did Wink ) but they don’t tend to grasp the value and significance of new, disruptive technologies quickly.
On the other hand, I actually know many individuals who work at high levels of government, and a significant portion of them are genuinely trying to improve society’s function through their work. Don’t forget that, as amazing as it sounds, a government invented the internet (the american government no less!). Governments sent humans to space. Governments even created the first computers!! The american government created Tor!!!!!!! Shocked -my head just exploded.
Governments are not mindless anti-tech zombies. When something is really different they often have trouble understanding it. Like p2p filesharing–they’ve completely dropped the ball on that one! And vested interests generally tend to distort and mess things up. But if the regular actual people who work in governments see a true opportunity for something to benefit everyone, they tend to get just as excited about it as “us” (intended in the most fully ironic sense as if there is some fundamental divide between anyone-who-can-use-bitcoin and anyone-who-works-for-a-government). At the end of the day, if bitcoin can present a good case for providing real value to interests across the board in an area where other solutions have been sorely lacking, I think a lot of people-in-governments can get on board with that.
But one thing’s for certain–if we turn bitcoin (or even the community surrounding it) into a destroy-all-governments, end-of-all-fiat-money, never-pay-taxes-again conspiracy, it will end up on the terrorist watch list before the first report even hits the desk.
tl;dr:Bitcoin is what bitcoin is. Like the internet, it enables both traditional enterprises and disruptive possibilities. There’s nothing wrong with loving bitcoin because of the latter, but it’s worth it to differentiate between your reasons for loving bitcoin and bitcoin itself. Get excited about the fact that bitcoin could be the first successful non-government-initiated currency! But don’t fall into this trap of thinking that there’s some fundamental reason that governments and bitcoin are in a conflict to the death. I can tell you that any dinosaur worth his salt goes completely glazed over when any such topic comes up. It’s too psychologically complicated at that point in life to actually parry and dissect really different ideas–it’s a lot simpler to just shut them out and bitcoin with them.
For any anarchist who faults the state on its use of force, the only fair response is to out-compete it fair and square. If anarchism is truly better, bitcoin will probably be an important milestone in the path to getting there. Work hard on it! Help make it succeed! But remember that bitcoin is about all of us, not just about those who believe that. Don’t worry though, I still love you even if I think the world isn’t ready for anarchism yet Smiley .
And for anyone else out there who thinks anarchism leaves something to be desired–stick around! You’re not the only one. We need you because the way bitcoin actually succeeds is not as some fringe project of the libertarian community (no offense to the hundreds of toes I just stepped on there Smiley ) but as a truly world-changing technology that encompasses people from many different points of view. Bitcoin won’t succeed unless non-anarchists accept it and that’s pretty much that.