In the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA mass surveillance, global outrage ensued, degrading the credibility of the US before the rest of the world. Subsequent reports revealed how the intelligence agency intercepted German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone conversations. Trust was shaken even among US allies when a report emerged that the US had threatened Germany over Snowden’s possible asylum.
Britain, France, Germany and Italy recently announced that they would be joining the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), just as the BRICS nations are shifting away from US dollar world reserve hegemony. This is another blow to the US led financial order, deepening a loss of confidence in its leadership among its European allies. In a recent interview on the Keiser report, former Goldman Sachs director and author of All the President’s Bankers, Nomi Prins pointed out how the recent US conflict with Russia is a manufactured aggression all about trying to maintain its financial supremacy in the face of inevitable decline. Prins described this as a crisis of the world order established after World War II and pointed to how a new cold war is brewing.
This increasing pressure against Anglo-American financial hegemony is becoming hard to deny. As the debt-based world economy further destabilizes, governments are tightening their capital controls. France has taken the first step by banning the use of cash above 1,000 euros and restricting the personal privacy of their own citizens. At the same time, the US has been intensifying the militarization of local police. As these assaults on civil liberties deepen and global central banks’ devaluation of the major currencies ramps up, Bitcoin, the world’s first transnational decentralized money is becoming one of the new fronts of resistance.
Currency of Resistance
This stateless currency is offering ordinary people a way out of the tyranny of the parasitic rent-seeking petrodollar and rising state oppression. In places like Argentina where currency is subject to rampant hyperinflation and Cyprus where the government confiscated its own citizen’s bank deposits, people are finding a safe haven in Bitcoin. While attacks on journalists and whistleblowers continue in many countries, Bitcoin is becoming a refuge also for those dissidents in the West. Cryptocurrencies have been used to circumvent private payment companies’ banking blockades against WikiLeaks as well as for donating funds to Snowden.
Draconian measures are well underway. On April 1, President Obama signed an executive order that allows the White House to issue sanctions on those “engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities”. WikiLeaks recently released the Investment Chapter, perhaps the most controversial part of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and asked their followers if they would be considered an “evil cyberhacker” in the eyes of administration for their publishing. They tweeted, “The US continues its mad quest to “sanction everyone”. Good for us. The world will dump risky dollars + SWIFT and move to #Bitcoin and RMB”.
This defiance struck a chord with bitcoiners. Less than 20 hours after media reported potential ramifications of the president’s executive power to confiscate cryptocurrencies, Snowden’s official defense fund experienced a significant surge in bitcoin donations. One of the donors, Kristopher Ives, posted a message on Reddit, leaving his address and phone number and openly challenged Obama to arrest him. He then tweeted to the President, saying “your executive order is unconstitutional. Here is my donation to #Snowden … #BitcoinIsSpeech”.
Another case is that of Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, who has been branded a fugitive by US DOJ. Dotcom, who resides in New Zealand was subjected to a civil asset forfeiture process by the US government, which allowed the state to keep his possessions and money, despite the fact he hasn’t been tried by this country that he never visited. When the most powerful government in the world can extend its extra-judicial authority across the globe, perhaps it’s only a reasonable step for Dotcom to turn to crypto for self-defense. He shared his strategy on Twitter noting “It’s time for Plan B. #Bitcoin”. So, what is it about this new decentralized currency that enables such unprecedented resilience against state coercion?
Right after the 2008 financial meltdown revealed how fragile the global economy is, the open source protocol for the blockchain as a public asset ledger was put forward and in early 2009, currency as its first application became operational. With its essence of digital scarcity and distributed computing, this innovative technology performs the production of money and clearing of transactions that traditionally have been handled by central banks. The core invention of the blockchain is distributed trust. It addresses an inherent weakness of the trust model of existing financial system that has been a major backbone of the military industrial complex and the surveillance state. This new technology challenges centralized trust altogether and its peonage network by making corruptible human nature accountable through cryptographic proof.
All men are inherently corruptible and instead of trusting a handful of elected officials and CEOs of multinational corporations, Bitcoin’s trust by computation places accountability within the rule of consensus and guarantees the integrity of the system by removing the need for trusting any one group or individual.
In his article, Reciprocal Altruism in the Theory of Money, Satoshi Nakamoto Institute researcher Daniel Krawisz describes how with Bitcoin, money becomes a “distributed system”. He explains how, unlike fiat currency that is dictated and manipulated by the state and banks, money that moves through a distributed ledger system is nearly impossible to control. He points out how Bitcoin is one big ledger that is duplicated in millions of locations and that it would be extremely difficult for someone to interfere with the synchronization process and go unnoticed.
The New Insurgency
Trust in Western liberal democracy is faltering as the carnage of financial tyranny rolls through whole countries. All the while, a piece of mathematics enshrined in computer code stands tall. ‘Give me your poor, your rent-seeked, your huddled masses yearning to transact freely. The wretched refuse of your teeming borders. Send me those whose money is confiscated, devalued and debt enslaved.’ Like the Statue of Liberty’s flaming lamp, Bitcoin shows the way toward economic sovereignty.
As the American Century appears to be nearing the end game, Bitcoin is a nail in the coffin of an empire that is already digging its own grave. The tsunami of innovation from Silicon Valley is creating new jobs and lifting people right into a new peer-to-peer global economy, beside the dying robber baron fiat world with negative interest rates and artificial debt and stock bubbles on the verge of collapse.
Around cryptocurrencies, creative-non-violent action is emerging. Max Keiser, host of a popular financial program broadcast on Russia Today recently launched #QEforthepeople, as a way to resist government austerity and quantitative easing. Keiser noted how “the greatest cause of poverty in the UK is the British Pound itself. The more it’s spent, the more debt and poverty it creates.” He said when you give money directly to people and not banks, you get real growth. He advocated the use of a new style of crowd funding platform called StartJOIN, empowered by its own crypto; StartCoin. He then gave away hundreds of scratch cards worth thousands of dollars, inviting people to join the currency of revolution.
This blockchain technology beyond borders can empower individuals by placing the source of legitimacy with the common people. With Bitcoin as a new First Amendment app, people all over the world can freely exchange, transact and financially associate with one another without asking permission from anyone.
Bitcoin flows, splitting into ever more divisible bits across borders wherever there is a thirst for freedom, becoming the electric cord that links all liberty-loving men and women around the world. This global network of distributed trust can usher in a true insurgency of the people, creating sanctuary for individual liberty against state oppression and other oligarchic third party intrusions. We now have the power in our hands to redeem universal ideals of freedom, equality, and fraternity that are the bedrock of any true democracy.
Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is a writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movements. Her work is featured in many publications. Find her on twitter @nozomimagine