Tag Archive | American government

A Crypto Constitution

I made a joke post earlier making fun of scam ICOs, encouraging people to send Ethereum and Litecoin to me, in return for which they will receive an equivalent number of meaningless, worthless, no-shits-given Anarchist Shemale Coin, in a humanitarian effort to facilitate the divorce of money from those who lack common sense. But to be totally honest, I’ve been watching Bitcoin and Ethereum for a while (perpetually rooting for the underdog, I am), and I actually would like to launch a cryptocurrency. I quite obviously lack the technical expertise to do this–I fix computers and networks and do light programming. I don’t write communication protocols. I could have delved that deeply into the mechanics if I wanted to, but I didn’t.

The question is worth asking, though. Given that there are countless (at least five hundred) altcoins (seemingly a label that means “not Bitcoin cryptocurrency”), of what value would another be? Actually… I have a pretty good answer for that. Bitcoin is currently in the process of showing us why communism and raw equality generally fail, why flat hierarchies fail. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, many of whom refuse to compromise, all of whom have their own way of doing things. By December, Bitcoin will have hard forked and created at least three new currencies–Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and either Bitcoin Classic or B2X–or some other acronym, depending on how November plays out. Regardless, it is splitting quite a lot.

On the one hand, this is good. If you owned a Bitcoin in August, then you suddenly 1 Bitcoin and 1 Bitcoin Cash once it forked. In that sense, it mirrors stock splits in a lot of ways–it doubles the amount in existence and splits the value across that amount. Someone who owned 100 Exxon shares 70 years ago now owns probably twenty thousand. Companies do this to drive down investment costs, which brings in more investment money. Bitcoin faces similar problems, because so many people are reluctant to spend $40 on 0.01 BTC when they can spend $40 and get 0.76 LTC. Ostensibly the growths and values are the same, but, psychologically, they are not. 0.76 LTC feels psychologically like a more substantive purchase. I would bet that more than 75% of this year’s newcomers to the industry purchased LTC, ETH, DASH, or another alt-coin before they purchased any BTC. Anyway.

The hard-forking appears to be a permanent feature of Bitcoin, and there isn’t really any reason to suspect that it’s going to die down as time goes on. After S2x there will be something else, some other point of contention. Markets don’t like unpredictability and uncertainty, and this is going to hurt Bitcoin’s value, whereas the primary thing keeping it popular these days seems to be that it was the first and is simply the most well-known. I wouldn’t touch it, even with the possibility of having my coins duplicated into several alt-coins. In fact, I converted my BTC into freaking DOGE, which is forever going to be worthless.

“White papers” are well and good, but you know what is really missing from the ICOs and the altcoins?

A Constitution

That’s right. A constitution.

See, we anarchists are not anti-government. We’re anti-state. Many of us have pointed out numerous times that the state is merely one form that a government takes, just as a truck is one form an automobile takes. If I hate trucks, that doesn’t mean that I hate cars or vans. In fact, I do hate trucks, because 98% of the people driving them in Mississippi have absolutely no need for them, and are just driving them because of cultural reasons, wasting copious amounts of gasoline and doing unnecessary damage to the environment (yes, I said that).

The White Paper would serve basically as the Constitution itself. I’d love to enlist people like John McAfee and other brilliant minds for such a project. Security, anonymity, and individualism would be the core tenets of the currency. Most importantly, however, would be that it would have amendments similarly attached to it immediately upon being adopted. First among those would be the requirement that, at any time, 5% of currency holders could request a vote (the blockchain itself could be used to store these votes, too), whereupon each member on the Board would be recalled with a simple 51% majority.

It’s anarcho-capitalist in the sense that it wouldn’t be the individual’s vote that mattered, but how much of the currency they actually held–voting with their wallet, so to speak, which is a more accurate imitation of the market. Someone with 1,000 of this currency has a much higher vested interest than someone with 0.01 of the currency, and it simply stands to reason that the person with 100,000 times the stake should have a much more powerful voice. They have more to lose, which will cause them to be more conservative and considerate. People don’t risk millions of dollars regularly in a free market (and they only do so in the United States because of the socialized losses / privatized profits system that we have).

It is necessary, all evidence suggests, to have some authority that determines the direction that a ship should go. Having 3,000 passengers attempting to decide a heading is bedlam, and there is too much noise for the system to be efficient. It is necessary, for the sake of productivity and progress, for there to be a hierarchy, a group of informed, knowledgeable individuals who make the decisions on how the ship should be sailed. The problem with the state, of course, is that we have no choice but to get on the ship. This system I’m talking about would be voluntary–no one would have to take part in it (thereby consenting to “rulership” of the board and its Executive Committee). It would be entirely their choice to submit to the board’s decisions by purchasing the currency. The Second Amendment would be that measures shall always be taken to ensure that the system is voluntary. This means it must have competition, even if this means that the board must hard-fork the currency themselves. Not that it would come to that, of course. The odds of one cryptocurrency overtaking all others are so low that it can almost be discounted entirely–but not entirely, not really. The protection must be written in as one of the first few amendments.

Competition is what’s important. When people are forced to participate in a system, then that system has no competition. The result is inefficiency, fraud, corruption, and direct abuses of people’s rights. Decentralization is not the goal, nor is a flat hierarchy. These are merely ways of ensuring that no small group or single person has the power to abuse in the first place. Another, more effective, method is to ensure that people only submit to this group voluntarily, and that market forces like competition keep this small group behaving in a way that ordinary people approve. Having a centralized cryptocurrency, even one offered up by the United States Government, isn’t really a problem, because we have so many better alternatives. It would only become a problem in the event that the United States Government used its state power to eliminate its competition (which it probably would try, honestly). JP Morgan Coin isn’t necessarily a problem for the same reason. As long as their is competition, the market will sort it out, and market pressures will ensure that JP Morgan doesn’t do anything too screwed up.

The right of users to not have any personalized information stored would be a critical tenet. Nothing but a long string of hex characters could be stored. The coin would officially boycott (even though it couldn’t prevent) any exchanges that required identifying information in order to make purchases. Even the P2P exchange Airwave (which hasn’t launched yet) asked me for my freaking government ID, are you kidding? Considering that its white paper states that its goal is to make exchanges resistant to government interference, that is a bizarre move on their part, but, given that it was to be whitelisted rather than simply accepted, I’ve chosen to ignore it and pursue it anyway.

Besides, the purchasing of crypto-currencies is not nearly as important as the manner in which they are stored. HD Wallets are a necessity. By using rotating wallet addresses, a particular user can have their true wealth made completely invisible by anyone watching the network–a feature of Jaxx that caused 0.63 LTC to temporarily vanish from my wallet yesterday, in fact. Once the coins are purchased, it is easy to tell the IRS and government officials that one was hacked, and all the coins stolen, and it’s upon them to prove that this didn’t happen in the United States. Wish them the best of luck attempting to prove that you were not hacked. Golly gee, I certainly was. Yeah. Definitely. All of my crypto vanished, IRS. Some clever hacker just got my phone, and, yep… All of it went Poof. Just in case any government agencies are curious about why “constitution” and “crypto” are being discussed on an anarchists’ website, they should know that. That 0.63 LTC I mentioned? Hacked away, almost as soon as it reappeared in my wallet. Alas, alas, que sera, sera.

I’ve not given this the thought to actually put forward any serious white paper for any enterprising crypto-interested individual to consider, much less ten critically important amendments. That isn’t my point in this. I’m simply attempting to draw attention to a huge problem that crypto-currencies face, and the obvious solution to that problem. Bitcoin is proving that some sort of central leadership is necessary, and that having too many cooks in the kitchen just causes them to create too many freaking dishes, because Bob insists on using pepper, which would clash with the paprika that Janet is using, and Janet’s paprika would clash with the garlic in April’s dish.

Meanwhile, Ethereum continues on almost exactly as planned, with its hard-forks literally planned into the process for the beginning, and about to be implemented without devastating the network. But Ethereum, however well-intentioned and noble they may be, and however useful ether and the ethereum blockchain (separate from the currency) are, the fact remains that they are a standard company, and are far from incorruptible. This is the case with nearly every alt-coin. They are like people who seized government because they wanted government power, instead of seizing government because they wanted the people to be free. Obviously, because this last group requires such a high degree of principle that they are exceedingly rare, the Ron Pauls, John McAfees, and Daryl Perrys out there. They created crypto companies to make money, not to create a new currency and turn it over to the masses via democratic processes. No, the founders and creators want to keep themselves at the top.

We’ve seen the same thing with many of the new caucuses within the Libertarian Party, one of which I recently helped form before I became inactive in it because I observed exactly this phenomenon. The trick, it seemed, was that they wanted not to form a caucus that advocated and implemented a certain set of ideas independent of themselves while they were merely the ones who set it up, but wanted to form a caucus to be the heads of. It’s like the Libertarian Party county affiliates who wrote nothing into their bylaws about replacing the Chairperson. Imagine if Nolan and others had neglected to include any method of replacing them as the party leaders–it would have said quite a lot about their intentions, wouldn’t it? Props to the Audacious Caucus, however, for not doing this, and for having, from the start, bylaws that were about the principles, not the individuals who at that moment were advocating those principles.

And that’s fine that they created a crypto-currency and blockchain for the purposes of heading the company and being the ones with wealth and power. That’s fine, because Ethereum competes. But we badly need a structured crypto company to determine the direction of a currency that exists for the users, rather than for the company. What kind of person starts a new company and, before that company is even launched, writes into the very company’s constitution that the person who created it can be replaced and is not certain to lead it?

Such a currency would be successful, because it would be stable. It would remain successful because it would be competitive. It would offer people a place to store their wealth where they have a real voice to influence the direction, whether they were ignorant or wealthy, well-informed or poor, but where safeguards in the form of the “Bill of Rights” would ensure that, even if a vote did not go their way, there were constraints and limits on what could and could not be done with their wealth.

So someone do this. Be the next Satoshi. Do something not to be at the head of a powerful and wealthy company; do it to help the people of the world.

 

People Sometimes Do Bad Things

No one (least of all libertarians) wants mass shootings to happen. In fact, libertarians are among the loudest of the people who speak out and condemn violence, whether it’s orchestrated by random lunatics, police officers, or soldiers within the military. The libertarian position has decades of consistency and history that reveals itself to be loudly and explicitly pro-defense and anti-aggression. The means by which a person commits aggression, and the means by which a person exercises their right to self-defense, are not terribly important, as long as the Defender has weapons equal or greater to the weapons held by the attacker.

One day, that attacker will be the United States Government, and the more we allow them to disarm us, the sooner that day will come. When the Germans surrendered their weapons to the Nazi Regime, they did not expect that their government would ever turn so viciously against them, and this has been the case repeatedly throughout history: very shortly after a population has been disarmed, the illusion of government benevolence is wiped away, revealing a nightmarish, brutish totalitarian thug underneath.

In an era when Nazis are marching, when leftists ransack businesses, when the police murder more than a thousand people every year, it is lunacy to surrender our guns. Don’t the people who suggest this say that Trump is a fascist? Why in the name of all that is good would anyone surrender their means of defense to a fascist regime? It’s certainly true that a shotgun or 9mm pistol is not going to do a lot of good against the true might of the military, once it comes to that, but one stands a much better chance with even a 9mm than one does with a baseball bat. Just because you’re unlikely to defeat Mike Tyson if you step into a ring with him is no reason to have your hands cut off.

I wrote The Power Gap about exactly this reality–when push comes to shove, it’s true: we won’t have much chance against the military. They’ve already effectively gutted our defensive capabilities, and we let them do it in full violation of the Constitution. The Second Amendment protects your right to own claymore mines, drones, cluster bombs, and, yes, even nuclear weapons; it makes absolutely no distinction between one type of weapon and another type of weapon. Further, contrary to popular belief, there was a range of weapon power back then–if the founders had intended We the People to own guns of lesser power than those held by the government, that could have been achieved even in 1787. They didn’t ban cannons from the public, which had already existed for centuries, though, because they never intended the government to possess weapons that the people didn’t. To do so would defeat the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.

Imagine if, today, We the People were still under British rule and sought our independence. Would our shotguns, AR-15s, and revolvers do much good against the awesome power of the UK’s military? No. Our rebellion would be crushed, decimated within minutes as jets we couldn’t even see soared high overhead and dropped bombs on the location of our forces. Whisper, Signal, Wire, the Onion network, cryptocurrencies–even these are not yet enough to allow us to successfully circumvent their awesome technological might, not if push came to shove, because these technologies rely upon satellites that they could (and would) blast from the sky, or simply shut down. EMPs would wipe out our laptops and other communication equipment while we resorted to primitivism and what would be recognized as “terrorism” by most people, because those would be the only tactics left available against such a juggernaut. And we would ultimately be unable to do much damage to the behemoth, just as Al-Queda, ISIS, Boko Harram, and other terrorist groups have been unable to do much damage to American military power.

I’ll even cede, at this point, to let the American government regulate who can and can’t acquire things like fighter jets, nuclear weapons, cluster bombs, and the like–but to have them banned entirely makes us infants before Mike Tyson. But none of this is my point, not really. I’m just explaining my position, and the importance of having weapons capable of truly defending ourselves against the government. Our entire nation was founded by people who did exactly that. And now you want to throw away our ability to do so?

No One Wants Mass Shootings

The question isn’t, “What should we ban?” Anyone who thinks that is the question is being disingenuous. The question is “How can we stop mass shootings?” The answer is difficult to hear, but it’s one that people have to face:

You can’t.

Today, four people in China killed 29 people and injured 130. They didn’t use guns to do this. They used knives. Could it have been worse, if those four people have had guns? Certainly. But you know what else? This little incident wouldn’t have happened if the citizens of China had owned their own military-grade weapons:

It’s simply a part of the human condition. Sometimes, people do bad things. There’s never a way to know beforehand that an otherwise ordinary person is about to do something horrific and evil. Even though I’ve warned extensively about the dangers of data mining and putting every bit of information about ourselves out there into the open, because this can lead to terrifyingly accurate predictions, no predictive algorithm will ever be 100% accurate. We’re already at a point where algorithms can predict whether a person will turn out to be gay, or whether they are on drugs, and they do this with accuracy better than human intuition, but they’ll never be accurate enough. Chasing after the red herring of preventing some Ordinary Joe from losing his mind one day with 100% success will result in each and every single one of us being watched, monitored, probed, and explored by the government at all times. What you’re asking for is, and I hate to pull up the cliche, Orwellian.

Because that’s what it takes to identify which of the 60,000,000 Americans who own a gun is about to lose their mind and shoot someone–and to be sure that everyone who has a gun is registered with the government. Because…

Gun Control Requires Closed Borders

It’s not just people coming across our borders, and that’s a fact. Drugs and guns also come across our borders. If you want to control guns in the United States, the only way to do this is by ensuring that each and every gun in the nation is registered with the government, and this means preventing any new guns from coming across our borders. This is why the UK has been more successful with gun control than other nations–they’re reasonably isolated, with water on all sides. The only way to get in is through an airplane or a ship, and both of those will involve metal detectors at some point. This isn’t the case in the United States–we have lengthy borders to the north and south, and there are many ways into countries on the other side of those borders without passing through such screening processes. To control guns in the United States, you must both control the borders absolutely (again, a red herring) to ensure that no guns get across, and you must have a reasonably tough, watchful eyes on all countries in North and South America.

How effective is this? Not very. We can’t even keep guns and drugs out of our tightly controlled prisons, which are much smaller and much more contained than “the entire country.” But the prison system is the only one even theoretically capable of achieving this task, so we must turn the entire country into a prison to achieve gun control. Once this is done, you might be more successful at keeping guns out, but you won’t be successful enough to justify having imprisoned yourself and everyone in the country.

3D Printing

And even if you manage to do all of that, you have to carefully monitor anyone who is even capable of making a gun. My grandfather has made guns. Even if someone lacks that level of expertise, in modern times all they need is a 3D Printer, some aluminum, and the blueprints. This, while expensive, allows them to create their own totally untraceable gun. How do you aim to stop that? By banning 3D printers? In a world that has P2P networks and the Onion network, it’s not possible to round up and eliminate every copy of the plans to “print” a gun.

In purely logistic terms, the idea of gun control is ludicrous and impossible. It can’t be done. It’s not government regulations that are keeping nuclear weapons out of citizens’ hands–it’s how damned expensive they are. Even so, there are rumors that there are, in fact, nuclear weapons loose within the borders of the United States. We know that the U.S. government has lost some nuclear weapons. Yes, lost. As in, misplaced. Or, far more likely, sold to Pakistan or stolen.

Back to the Question

If gun control isn’t the answer, then what is? Well, as I said, there really isn’t one. People sometimes do bad things, and if they don’t have a gun, they’ll use a knife. The 9/11 hijackers, after all, did not have guns. They had airliners that they improvised into weapons by smashing them into buildings. Even Paddock had improvised explosives that he intended to use. Several people in recent years have used automobiles as the means of mass murder–are we going to ban automobiles because some lunatics notice that they can be used to murder people?

No. That’s insanity. That some lunatic used their vehicle to drive through a crowd and murder people doesn’t in any way suggest that vehicles are the problem. There’s a much larger problem, and one that we would be ignoring if we attempted to ban automobiles: humans sometimes do bad things.

Everyone Wants To Be Free

No one ever said, “I really enjoy having the government telling me what to do, and I don’t think I should be free.”

Or, if they do, it’s such an extremely rare occurrence that it’s not really important to the discussion.

When people challenge the ideas of liberty and freedom, it’s never the speaker who has the problem; it’s never the speaker who can’t be trusted with liberty–it’s all those other people. It’s everyone else. I’ve talked with countless people who want freedom for themselves yet immediately recoil at the idea of freedom for others, handing out responses that range in ridiculous from “What about murderers?” to “What about those who would dump poo in your water?”

It’s telling that we’ve become so conquered by fear that we’d meet the idea of freedom with intransigence and build from the assumption that not only could someone dump poo in your water, but that it’s inevitable that someone will do so. The existence of murderers, rapists, and thieves is hardly a matter of concern to the libertarian or anarchist, because such people exist today, and all available evidence (as well as logic) suggests that the state and its laws do nothing to prevent such behavior, and instead simply exist as frameworks for punishing the behavior. Since the state has not managed to eliminate crime, it isn’t necessary for anarchists and libertarians to propose an alternate social structure that would eliminate crime before anyone can take it seriously.

It would be like if I proposed a new version of American football that has slightly different rules than the current set, and people rejected my idea on the grounds that I didn’t propose any way of preventing head injuries and brain damage caused by years of physical trauma. Even if my modified rules would reduce the number of fractures and other injuries, people would gleefully reject the proposed changes because, “What are you going to do about head injuries and brain damage?” in full disregard of the fact that their rules similarly fail to do anything to prevent head injuries and brain damage.

It’s simple mathematics to realize that something that affects two sides of an equation can be reduced. If we have an equation that reads “2x + 4y = 2x + 9,” we can immediately see that “2x” doesn’t factor into things at all–we are, instead, dealing with “4y = 9”. Crimes such as murder are never going to be eliminated from society, and we have a hundred thousand years of human history and societies that range from despotic tribes to fascist police states to serve as evidence, and not only have all of these societies failed to eliminate murder, but there is a noticeable correlation between the murder rate and the power of the state–the more powerful a state is, the higher its murder rate. It wasn’t a fluke that caused Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lincoln, and Mussolini to murder millions of people; this is actually a feature of the state. It also remains true that no Charles Manson or Ted Bundy ever came close to approaching the murder rate of various states.

This is because society deals with murderers, rapists, and thieves before they can organize to the point that they can commit crimes against thousands and hundreds of thousands of people–unless those murderers, rapists, and thieves call themselves a government. Take, for example, the American Government, which murdered more than 1,000 Americans last year, as well as the year before (and are thus far on the path to surpassing last year’s record). Even the most barbaric and bloodthirsty mobster would look at those numbers and be impressed, because this works out to nearly three murders per day for the individual, if the person wanted to be more bloodthirsty than the government, and anyone who murdered three people each day would leave a trail of bodies and evidence that would take us directly to them for punishment. Without even including the 100,000 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American government since 2003, and the similar number of murdered civilians in Afghanistan, it’s readily apparent that if we want to reduce murder, there isn’t a better way of doing so than abolishing the government.

But these excuses for allowing the continued existence of the state persist.

The reality, however, is that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t murderers, rapists, and thieves. I cross paths with tens of thousands of people every single day, and none of them are murderers, rapists, and thieves. This notion that “It’s okay if I have freedom, but I can’t trust anyone else with it, because they might be a murderer!” is blatant fearmongering, and every bit as bad as suggesting that we should reject all refugees because one among two hundred thousand might be a terrorist, or that we should regulate immigration because one in millions may carry a deadly disease. In fact, the arguments are exactly the same:

  • “We need to have laws against open borders because some immigrants may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
  • “We need to have government, because some people may be drug dealers, murderers, and rapists!”
  • “We need to ban refugees from entering the country because some people out there are bad people and are terrorists!”
  • “We need to have government, because some people out there are bad people.”

It’s amazing how easily we recognize blatant fearmongering when we’re not the ones peddling it, and how blind we are to our fearmongering when we are.

Liberty is trust and faith in your fellow human beings, and an end to fearmongering. It’s time we stopped living in fear of everything and everyone.