Please click the link to listen to the 81st episode of my weekly crypto podcast ‘Five Minute Crypto.’ These are intended to be short, single-topic ramblings on some aspect of the cryptosphere. Consider dropping a like and or a review on iTunes or Podbean if you enjoy the podcast. Comments and critiques welcome.
Five Minute Crypto – The Bitcoin Hodler Rabbit Hole – The Sovereign Individual
Do as Socrates did, never replying to the question of where he was from with, ‘I am Athenian,’ or ‘I am from Corinth,’ but always, ‘I am a citizen of the world.’”
Epictetus, Discourses I, 9.1
Welcome to Five Minute Crypto -this week continues exploring the transformative experience that is hodling Bitcoin. Today we turn our attention to the sovereign individual.
Modern man is defined by his need to co-operate with others. Each and every aspect of our lives is governed by larger systems whether governmental, logistical, or financial. We are bounded at every turn – queue here, sell there, work from his time to that, vote on this day and in this way and on and go the organized motions of modern life. Much of this is necessary – a natural consequence of societal living. Little by little, however, the creep of state supervision and control has begun to intrude on ever more intimate aspects of life. From facial recognition technology to digital tracking, net surveillance, financial oversight and behaviour monitoring by state and private actors what was once personal is now open to scrutiny and exploitation. Indeed, blockchain for all its promise will likely see its first widespread use as a means of further control once the Chinese Communist Parties’ digital currency is fully rolled out.
To a greater or lesser extent we are all aware of the compromises of the interconnected systems we live in. Most of us simply accept the ‘state of play’ perhaps after a brief period of reflection in early adulthood. Only having children once again awakens an awareness of state control over our destiny.
Hodling Bitcoin, however, reawakens a sense of the sovereign individual and as long as you continue to hodl it – that awareness only continues to deepen. At its most shallow -BTC can be depicted as simply a payment channel – a service choice among other competing choices. Look a little deeper, however, and you begin to see BTC for what it actually is a permission free means of transacting anywhere with anyone for whatever amount you deem appropriate. Neither permission nor control lies with any central authority -your Bitcoin is yours to do with as you will and beyond the pale of government authority. Heady stuff, indeed.
Any reasonably reflective individual will find a compelling contrast between the decentralized, permission-less, and truly scarce hard money that is Bitcoin and the centrally-issued, permissioned, and inflationary reality of fiat. BTC awakens the sense of the sovereign individual, first in terms of control over their own financial behavior but its effects certainly doesn’t stop there.
Hodling Bitcoin is a rebellious act. It defies the state’s authority to control a critical facet of your life. Once you begin down that path – the other pillars of state authority will inevitably be questioned. Debt as the norm, conspicuous consumption, taxes, the nation-state as key to identity, its right to surveil, its reach into our private lives. As viewed through the lens of Bitcoin, each and every one of these common practices or norms finds itself under review.
Hodling BTC slowly transforms you into a global citizen and equalizes your relationship with your fellow man wherever they may be. Of course, its early days and more than half the world’s population lives under authoritarian regimes. Personal autonomy is a far-off dream for much of humanity – with financial freedom a distant consideration where the right to a fair trial or indeed any trial at all is an impossibility. Nonetheless, each day Bitcoin continues to function stands as a repudiation of a critical aspect of state control – the money.
Hodling BTC doesn’t necessitate a uniform process of contemplation and transition but it does almost certainly promote a degree of reflection on the nature of money -who controls it, how it is created, accessed, and transacted. This alone is a powerful secondary effect of simply investing in a new asset class.
Hodling Bitcoin not only elevates the individual but it potentially offers a path to long-term healthy economic growth. Debt, debt, and more debt can only end badly and may perhaps herald the end or hollowing-out of many liberal democracies. BTC perhaps, just perhaps fixes this while empowering the individual along the way. An internet money – of the people and for the digital age.
A parting thought:
The chains of a slave are broken the moment he considers himself a free man.
Thanks for listening.