David Perry is a tech guy with a Bitcoin blog. Quoting from his most recent,
No doubt whatever system does take the current system's place, Bitcoin or not, will eventually need a patch, then another and so on. To that end I suggest that it is not only our duty to replace the current system, whether the bankers like it or not, but that we must also take care to never become the bankers. Bitcoin is decentralized, removing the single point of failure these banks are trying to defend. Bitcoin is small, simple and agile, removing the tremendously large attack footprint the banks have to contend with. Bitcoin is the community and the community is Bitcoin - we're small still and we have the opportunity to determine, to an extent, our own growth patterns. Let's make sure that the community always understands what we're doing here today and recognizes when it's time to repeat history. It's a day I hope is long in the future, but one we must still plan for. We are growing the roots of the monetary revolution, let's make sure they run healthy and deep.
The five hundred or so words preceding the quote are mostly naive ultrasummarisation of vast, poorly understood subject matter - the sort of pointless prose that inevitably composes highschool essays. Sure, the teachers mark it with A's and B's because that's the most one can reasonably expect of teens : dull, uninformed and uninteresting summary-of-summary-of-summary. As long as it's not jarringly incorrect it gets its A.
The same thing happens on the Internet, incidentally, because that's the most one could expect of twenty-somethings and to a large degree thirty-somethings too. So normally you shake your hand in that characteristic hand gesture and carry on, most of the time. Except... in this quote there's plenty of jarringly incorrect.
For one, the notion that "we must also take care to never become the bankers" is poppycock. To stick with the realm of the easily digestible : the old web presses of the New York Times may be replaced with the new digital methods of Trilema or Coding In My Sleep or whatever else. The job of the editor, however, doesn't go away : letters form words still and words need to be curated still. That's the editor, whether his hands are stained with ink and his lungs full of lead dust or merely his wrists ache with CTS and his eyes are pink from the monitor glare, the editor's the editor. And so is the columnist, whether he's an employee or an independent, writing for the newspaper or for his own blog, contrary to what Gregory Ferenstein would like to believe the columnist is never going away any more than people stop using words and move on to using numbers to communicate to one another.i
So, bankers we will be. In this system or that system, old, new, square or round, as long as it's to do with money we're going to be bankers. Sure, not all of us, nobody has to be a banker if he doesn't want to. Sure, we don't have to use the same methods, constructs, processes or concepts, nor are we likely to. But bankers will be forevermore, or to be precise for as long as money exists.
Which, incidentally, takes us to a practical point : all sorts of half-baked ideologues, pretty much all of the culturally-marginal scum that froths on the edges of society, all the "activists" and "anarchists" and "communists" and heck-else they call their own inability to cope, inability to achieve and inability to thrive in the world see Bitcoin as a sort of gift from above, made by their daddy directly to them.
Well... Bitcoin is absolutely nothing of the sort. Bitcoin doesn't make it easier for anti-capitalists, it makes it harder. Bitcoin doesn't make it easier for anti-corporatists, it makes it harder. Bitcoin especially does not make it easier for socialists, for those people that despise hierarchy and pretend equality : it makes it impossible. Plain impossible.
Bitcoin is the most conservative thing since at least queen Victoria, if not outright Jesus. Bitcoin makes so-called "progressive" tax schemes unworkable. Bitcoin makes any sort of public welfare untenable. Bitcoin makes anyone's pretense of equality with anyone else risible. Bitcoin isn't here to "make communes work", but quite the contrary : it will render communes both inoperable and uninteresting to pretty much everyone. Once it's done tearing away the crap these very people have tacked on to government, once we're back to something a lot more akin to what the slave states had before the Civil War (and that's exactly were we're headed, and that's exactly what that conflict was : a dispute between Big Government and individuals - unfortunately BG won) we'll obviously be in a much better position to grok all this. Retrovision is always 20/20, after all.
Getting back, "bitcoin is decentralized, removing the single point of failure these banks are trying to defend" is also poppycock. What exact single point of failure are the banks trying to defend ? How exactly is Bitcoin "small, simple and agile" given the friggin blockchain is Gigabytes already at a time nobody's practically using it yet ? What simplicity is this, when starting to use it requires fifty or one hundred hours of research ? How does that compare to banks shipping teens credit cards in the mail, sight unseen ? What on Trompi's green good Earth is a "tremendously large attack footprint" ?
All this regurgitation of soundbytes previously swallowed whole has to cease. There's no "attack footprint", and in fact the average person holding bitcoins has a significantly larger attackable cross-section than the average bank (in no small part because the average bank does not go around seedy bars and dens inhabited by dubious whores-that-are-really-artistical-snowflakes with the safe in its pocket and keys in the other pocket, for instance). In fact, total Bitcoin "hacks" this year count in the 1-10% of the total monetary mass range. The day the banking system manages to be hacked for 0.1% of the M3 give me a call. You can make it collect, I'll pay.
But the most offensive part of it all is the "Bitcoin is the worker's union and the worker's union is Bitcoin" cut-and-paste straight from Nadezhda Krupskaya or some crap. No, it is not. Bitcoin is no "community", bitcoin is simply math. It could care less about any community, nor hmm, how did the quote go...
The Bitcoin Miner writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
That's what Bitcoin is. Fate. Send one single transaction out and then hold all the vigils, glassloots activism, protests or whatever else to have it returned. See how well that works, why don't you ?
Bitcoin is fate. It operates completely outside of any human agency, even if it was (possibly) some people that created it. For all you know about who Nakamoto was... Bitcoin might as well have created itself.
The way fate works is quite simple : do the right thing and you're part of it. Do the wrong thing(s) and you're in the dark, huddling corners, wondering what went wrong and why does "the mainstream" oppress you so. And that "right thing" scarcely ever has anything to do with what "the community" thinks, wants or imagines.
It is, after all, math.———
- And no, the happenstance that all sentences could be held in strings and as such have a numeric value isn't a counter-argument in this discussion : the only way real words and real phrases become strings and numeric values is through the work of the editor. And the columnist. [↩]