America is undergoing a historic transition. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has prompted protests in 145+ cities around the world. Young and old of all races, genders and nationalities have hit the streets over the last two weeks to raise their voices together against injustice, police brutality and systemic discrimination.
As peaceful protests deteriorated into riots, it became clear that people were not just upset about racism, they were fed up with the abuse of authority that has pervaded modern society. Mandatory lockdowns, lack of adequate or accessible healthcare, a financial system that has shelled out billions of dollars in commercial bailouts, the growing wealth divide – all of these recently prevalent issues were just the tip of the iceberg.
One anti-authoritarian community stood up in solidarity and tweeted: “Bitcoin is a peaceful protest.”
For the newbs: Bitcoin is a non-sovereign, hard cap supply, global, immutable, decentralized and completely digital store of value, held by many as an insurance policy against the irresponsibility of central banks globally. (Credit to Travis Kling for this concise definition).
Since the creation of Bitcoin 11 years ago, a growing number of people have been choosing to opt-out of the traditional financial system – the central source of power for our governments. They are turning to a new monetary system: one that is not controlled by any single authority, but is rather decentralized and run by a network of computers. As a child born in the Soviet Union, having witnessed the fall of a government, hyperinflation and a run on the banks, all before the age of ten, Bitcoin also piqued my interest.
Bitcoin was born as a movement by the people for the people. And so, I wanted to give the community supporting this movement an opportunity to be heard – sourcing the key ideas in this article through Twitter.
Bitcoin is a protest against corruption.
Naval Ravikant, founder of Angelist once tweeted: “Bitcoin is a tool for freeing humanity from oligarchs and tyrants, dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme.”
With this perspective in mind, it’s no surprise that Bitcoin has a much higher rate of adoption in countries that have a history of government oppression – Germany, China, Venezuela – and a lower rate of adoption in the U.S. Americans are much more likely to have faith in their U.S. Dollar than a new cryptocurrency.
One story was shared with me anonymously by a Ukranian software engineer – let’s call him Greg. In 2014, what began as a peaceful protest in Ukraine quickly grew into a civil war, riddling the country with violence and unrest. As expected, due to political instability, the local currency was devalued by 70%. Greg lost his job and was looking for a way to escape the rebellion.
“There was nothing left for me there, I was surrounded by death and destruction. I started plotting an escape.”
Airports and roads were guarded by soldiers to prevent people from fleeing – temporary visits to family, however, were permitted by car. It was well known that many of the officials charged with guarding the borders were corrupt and would confiscate money and valuables at checkpoints. And so Greg, having kept most of his savings in USD, decided to trade it all for Bitcoin. He memorized the 12 words from his seed phrase like “his life depended on it” and ran, with nothing but a small backpack on his person, managing to escape with all of his wealth intact.
[For anyone new to Bitcoin, you can access a Bitcoin wallet from anywhere on the internet as long as you know your seed phrase.]
There are countless stories like Greg’s. Tales of people fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe, South America and Africa, using Bitcoin as a means to carry value with them. For many, Bitcoin is what saved their wealth and, by extension, their life.
Skeptics often use the argument that Bitcoin “isn’t backed by anything.” But this is an inherently privileged North American view. Bitcoin is backed by a demand for financial freedom, for an asset outside the control of governments, and one that cannot be confiscated easily.
America is not immune to a financial revolution.
America is unique in that it has not experienced a major economic upheaval besides the Great Depression and the last financial crisis in 2008, creating a trust in the system. But America’s fiat currency is only about 50 years old, since Nixon abolished the gold standard in 1971, a relatively unproven experiment. Fiat has already failed in other nation states like Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Bitcoin was born out of protest against the financial system in 2008. Against monetary stimulus in particular. The very first block of Bitcoin famously gives a nod to this anti-authority sentiment by quoting a headline from the UK Times in the code:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
History has shown us that a sudden influx of ‘new’ money without any corresponding economic growth leads to inflation: a rise in prices coupled with a fall in the purchasing power of that currency. This is considered a hidden taxation on citizens – prices rise, but wages stay the same.
There is a prevailing sentiment that the elite who control the government, the financial system and the private banks and corporations, engage in the printing of funds in an effort to prop up the inefficient and inherently corrupt business practices of corporate America – all at the expense of ordinary citizens.
Bitcoin is a currency that is, by design, completely independent of any government and its established financial system. Bitcoin strips governments of their power to create more money. It has a hard cap supply of 21 million units, giving it a built in anti-inflationary mechanism and protecting Bitcoin holders from the risks of monetary policies implemented by central banks.
A global world wants a global currency.
Charles de Gaulle, one of France’s former Presidents, addressed the nation in 1965, saying: “We consider it necessary that international trade be established as it was the case before the great tragedies of the world, on an indisputable monetary base and one that does not bear the mark of any particular country.”
Not too long ago, the vast majority of global trade was tied to gold. Gold has no ideology and has maintained a stable value relative to goods and services for thousands of years.
As the world became more interconnected, governments chose to create their own currencies in order to establish relative power against other nation states in trade negotiations. Today, this is quickly becoming an outdated concept. We are part of a global empire, with a growing disregard for the nationalistic opinions and borders of individual states. It is led by a multi-ethnic elite, held together by a common cosmopolitan culture. Most importantly, the majority of this new generation do not accept the U.S. as its leader or the Dollar as its currency.
Experts have long foreseen the emergence of another revolutionary financial system.
Nobel-prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek was quoted in 1984: “I don’t believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can’t take it violently out of the hands of government: all we can do is, by some sly roundabout way, introduce something that they can’t stop.”
Meanwhile, economist Milton Friedman was quoted in an interview in 1999, saying: “I think that the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash – a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B without A knowing B or B knowing A.”
All of these predictions came true with the creation of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin allows for separation of money and state.
What is the role of government? It is there to enforce a social contract we all inherently enter into just by being born and raised under its jurisdiction. It is there to create order, and to provide basic services such as roads, schools and hospitals. If the government were a corporation we paid to provide these services, there would be no reason for them to also have control over our bank account.
Many argue that money should not be politicized. The wealth you work so hard to create should be intact regardless of the decisions of your government – whether it is to start a war, issue a bailout or make a bad trade agreement. Money backed only by the authority of governments jeopardizes its value. In fact, the entire thesis behind the traditional investment industry is to prevent the erosion of value through inflation.
Bitcoin creates accountability. A money supply tied to Bitcoin would inherently show a transparent account of which funds went to war and police, versus education, healthcare and other necessities for the ordinary citizen.
And so, Bitcoin allows us the opportunity to opt-out of the current system – all without lifting a weapon or raising our voice. A silent, but effective protest.
Think of it like playing monopoly with your friends. Once you realize that the bank is corrupt, all the players could simply agree to create a new form of money. There is no need to burn houses or hotels. We can continue to play the game and remove the power of money from the greedy banker – and thus, we take away the most authoritative weapon they have.