The problem of enforcement

Thursday, 26 June, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Once upon a time, some group or the otheri made an irc channel.

Now making an irc channel is quite the pleasant experience : you create something out of nothing, get to name it and are now the boss of it. For a generation devoid of proper "empire building" avenues, this is about as cool as it gets. So you can do anything you wish, right ? Your channel, your rules, that's the deal!

But all is perhaps not quite right in this world. Driven by a deep seated intuition that perhaps no, perhaps this isn't the deal, perhaps the whole charade's an illusion, the kids in question move compulsivelyii to test it. So they dump child porn or stolen bank credentials or whatever it is that's taboo in the larger society they fear they might have failed to individuate from.

Which obviously is the case : Hitler may have failed to conquer England, or Russia, or the United States with the force of arms. Nevertheless, Hitler has in fact managed to conquer the entire Western world with the incredible power of his witsiii, and between the legacy of Stalin (who lived for naught but to try and copy Hitler as much as possible) and the legacy of Western bureaucrats (who lived for naught but to try and copy Eichmann as much as possible) the kids today live in very much the logical, spiritual and factual continuation of the third Reich. A thousand years ? Quite likely, actually.

And so yes, the larger society which has prevented their individuation to date is in fact all encompassing, and all-"powerful", and ready to meddle some more. Their intuition is not exactly incorrect. In practice, this takes the very reasonable avenue that their irc channel as an abstraction nevertheless rests on the concrete fundament of some servers flipping bits somewhere. So it has an administrator, who is stuck enforcing the Reich's taboos, because if he does not then he clearly must have gone to the side of the "evil", ie, become independent. And so that server must also have an owner, who is stuck enforcing the Reich's taboos, because if he does not then he clearly must have gone to the side of the "evil", ie, independent. And so that server must have some peers, which in turn have owners, which in turn and so on and back and forth.

Sure, occasionally you may get rebellion to the degree where a whole country gives the whole system a middle finger, and you might even move there to support the principle. Nevertheless, even leaving aside the obvious point that no matter how bad the Reich is in the first place, simply supporting anyone and everyone giving it the finger is not necessarily such a good strategyiv, the fact still remains that Hitler's intuitions were largely correct and doubtlessly effective. It is in fact cheaper to run a Reich than it is to run an actual world with actual people in it, much like it's cheaper to watch women do things on a screen than go forth and make women do those very things in your very own living room ; it is in fact easier, and that's really all it takes.

So how did the story end ? Why, with the Freenode admin pointing out that no, you can't ban Freenode admins from your Freenode channel. Because while it is "yours", it is nevertheless... a Freenode channel. And so the adventure came to an end, the kids weren't interested in wasting time with the rotten foundation of pretend-ownership, and pretend-control and pretend-alodial, and Freenode wasn't interested in wasting time with some users that were inclined to verify the limits of "your" and "yours". Just like you know what else ?

Just like "your" phone, that nevertheless needs to be able and willing to receive software updates from its actual owner to continue to function. Just like "your" money, which isn't really yours in that sense, even if an... "antiquated" let's say legal system may lend some tenuous support to the otherwise warrantless contrary expectation. Just like your house, which is only yours for as long as you don't cook meth in there, or for that matter listen to the music too loud. Or have objectionable people over. Or too many of them. Or be on top of something or the other. Or near it. Or if the weather's bad. Or whatever elsev.

As you can see, the problems of the rambunctious youth aren't exactly its problems. They're more like our problems. So what's to do ?

Well, here's the beauty of it. Could you not have an irc system so designed that there isn't an actual administrator ? An irc system that works integrally as intended or not at all ? Hm.

For that matter, you know this can be true of money, because Bitcoin is exactly that : a financial system that is based on a set of rules (good, bad, whatever they may be) and the explicit and mathematically provable guarantee that the whole thing either works exactly as indicated or does not work at all.

That is the important point about Bitcoin : that for the first time in human society since that accursed carnage a couple hundred years agovi, there exists a method of organising one's affairs such that the Reich no longer is the easier, the cheaper, the simpler option.

So yes, because Bitcoin now I can have, if I feel like it, an irc network that works exactly the way those kids' didn't, a decade ago. They had no choice but to go home and cry about it, about their failure, about their dashed dreams and hopes, yet guess what : I do. I do have plenty of choice, up to and including killing any one of you, or the whole lot of you. And the fact that I have this choice makes the point as to whether I exercise it or not negligible, much like the broad enforcement of taboos in the Reich is not based on actual enforcing action, but on the so called "chilling effect", on the voluntary and personal submission of those falling under the shadow of my choice - much like the butchering of millions resulted not from the direct actions of society, but from the minute inactions of each individual mousevii. You don't have servers openly listing full movies for download today for the exact same reason you had half the population of Leningrad massacred one night last century, it's the same principle at work and the same thing working. You just don't think it's your place to meddle, and neither does your neighbour, and when it comes to it that's the end of things.

I can have, and you can have, and anyone can have control of their life again, and be a human being again, and be a person again and motherfucking breathe again because we've just figured out how to make this thing : a self enforcing set composed out of some rules and the firm guarantee that either the whole thing works or no part of it works at all. This arrangement happens to be cheaper, and this is the fundamental reason for which I was never particularly concerned : the thing wins by the same very logic, through the same exact process that allows the Reich to exist in the first place : it's cheaper. It's easier. That's it, really, and the question is not whether the body politic we're destroying could somehow catch on and destroy us instead. The very substance of its own life is what propels us, and just like you can't make cancer go away by being really, really angry about it you also can't make Bitcoin go away by being really, really angry about it.

So yes, there you go, two centuries of "progress" and "humanism" and general bullshit & assorted carnage undone fundamentally and in one fell swoop by the thinking of one anonymous schmuck somewhere. If that's not Nietzschean irony I have no idea what could be.


  1. Maybe it was 4chan, or Something Awful, or Encyclopedia Dramatica or whoever else. It makes little difference and, as annoying as it may sound to any of the children involved - or it might have sounded for the adults that were once involved, back when they were still children - it couldn't really make all that much difference, no matter what. There's just not much difference to make in the first place, in this field of infantile "rebellion". It's all about as impersonal as pubic hair. Consider :

    There was also a small but significant minority of youths who held on to the values of War Communism and developed their own ideal Soviet youth. These militants were extremely upset by the NEP, seeing it as a betrayal of true Communism by the older revolutionaries. They also opposed the Komsomol, deeming it too theoretical and bureaucratic. In order to distinguish themselves from other young Soviet citizens, these militant Communists developed their own style of dress, speech, and style. They wore coarse clothing, deliberately cultivated bad manners, and had little concern for hygiene.

    That's right : the Soviets had their Punk too. It was exactly the same, except "totally different, like". So yes, while every 16 year old "falling in love" misrepresents the process as highly personal and personally relevant, they might as well say the same of their neonatal icterus or deciduous teeth loss. The only difference is that the first happened "outside of memory" and so they don't remember it, whereas the latter was not particularly flattering their vanity and assorted delusions of identity and so... they don't remember it. []

  2. It is compulsive. It's not that they want to, in the erotic, sensuous sense of pleasure and desire. It's that they perceive they have to, in the chthonic sense of compulsion : they fear their existence may be in doubt because of it, which could be stated as "without it life's not worth living". []
  3. I'm entirely with Tolkien and the rest of the gang, being appalled at the short ignoramus' ignorance. Yet the incredible success of very flat, stupid ideas put forth by a very unintelligent, acultural schmuck through the very simple means of loudly butchering a lot of people should give everyone pause. How is it that the compatriots whom you profess to love, how is it that universal humanity which you pretend is universally good (the universal good, even!) is so disinterested in all your wit and instead prefers to follow the shit coming out of any random shithead provided it's a) easier and b) killed a lot of people ? But I mean truly a lot, a whole huge pile of a lot. And painfully, too! []
  4. As Churchill - a fine representative of the same Reich ideals, for that matter - well knew all along. []
  5. You'll get a thirty day notice. Maybe. Unless it's an emergency. Or whatever. []
  6. Usually referenced by older and sorely misguided authors as "the french revolution". []
  7. Originally, this read "mice". Editor protests. I say but no, I want it plural, it's a collective. And besides, mice rhymes with lice. Editor points out mouse rhymes with louse. Editor wins.

    Never argue with the editor. []

Category: Bitcoin
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5 Responses

  1. The lazy route pretty much always wins for sure, but there is actually a blockage. For now the most lazy is do nothing and current system keeps on keeping on

  2. Nietzschean irony killing Nietzschean nihilism Nietzschean nihilism. ¬°Que bella!

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 27 June 2014

    @Chett Only for limited intervals.

    @bitcoinpete Con queso.

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