It was quite a shock to see the BBC, the state funded news agency of the United Kingdom come out saying that pursuing freedom is a hapless pursuit doomed to failure. Especially since, just a decade ago, Winston Churchill had poised the UK as the bulwark of freedom against Nazi Germany in WWII. What an amazing shift in just 60 years!
In this article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22292708), the writer, John Gray provides back ground information detailing the weaknesses of the current financial system (Cyprus, inflation etc). He then explains how the traditional safe haven from those abuses (i.e. gold) has failed to keep them at bay and may have even been manipulated itself just as in the LIBOR scandal.
But when John Gray gets to describing Bitcoin he presents arguments that are more the remarks of amateur economist forum posters rather than professionals that he claims to be among ( his bio has him listed as a “political philosopher”). For example, he writes
The currency has been criticized as a tool of speculators and money-laundering and its value has oscillated wildly as a result of hacking. Some have condemned it as a Ponzi scheme or a speculative bubble, like the mania for tulip bulbs that raged for a few years in 17th Century Holland.
Point by point, let me counter with
- stock markets, derivatives and Forex are tools of speculators and money launderers too
- Banks, military, industrial and every other type of site with anything of value have been attacked by hackers INCLUDING the BBC, the Assosociated Press, and the Washington Post. Just Googling “BBC hacked” produced over 6 million results.
- He doesn’t say who these people “some” are but “some” will say just about any unsubstantiated claim they can imagine too … and he is hear “quoting” them?
- The fundamental requirement of a Ponzi scheme is the promise to investors of substantial large returns when, in fact, “profits” don’t exist. There is absolutely no such representations made by anyone within the Bitcoin community, marketplace or development community. There is no such central figure as “Mr Ponzi” in Bitcoin. Bitcoin, right now, is going through something very much like an IPO as the market tries to find its value.
- If there were, indeed, a central Bitcoin authority then John Gray and the BBC would certainly be sued in court for their unsubstantiated slander that Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme as the charge is totally without merit. The only ones with any legal standing to pursue such a case would be us, the Bitcoin users, and we would have to undertake a class-action suit against them. Such is not likely to happen so we expect the slander to continue.
- The author is obviously an ignoramus when it comes to such things as Open Source software, intellectual property etc if he compares Bitcoin to the Tulip Mania. The software is as ingenious as Facebook, Google, Ebay, PayPal etc except it was released as an Open Source software rather than a privately held corporation. To attempt to write about it without first getting a firm grasp of that fact shows the writer lazily resting on his credential laurels rather than doing the work to get his facts straight.
After a couple more baseless digs against Bitcoin the author goes on the say
The true flaw of this and any other virtual currency is that it cannot deliver its users from the hazards and conflicts of the real human world.
I would agree, but man, it does everything else dude! So I fully expect that people like he and I and the BBC will be forever engaging in this real conflict over freedom (so I’ll grant he is correct on that point). I hope this little article nails him between the eyes with the truth, that it goes viral, and forces him to print a retraction. Who the hell does he think he is to declare that Bitcoin users think Bitcoin will “deliver its users from the hazards and conflicts of the real human world.”? Not me.
He also goes on with
A virtual currency such as Bitcoin attracts users because it’s not subject to any government. At the same time, it needs a margin of freedom in which to operate, and this freedom will be at risk if the financial crisis worsens.
Is he trying to imply that Bitcoin will be the cause of the financial crises worsening rather than the widespread fraud and corruption in banking, government and stock trading that has been going on for the last 60 years? He must be nuts! or worse!
Bitcoin’s users believe it can give them protection against such incursions. But governments today have formidable tools of electronic surveillance at their disposal, and it would be unwise to assume that virtual currencies are beyond their reach.
So then he joins the ranks of “the Boogie man will get you” crowd or “the earth is flat and you’ll sail off the edge, Columbus” crowd.
But John Gray’s remark “Bitcoin embodies a kind of cyber-anarchism” demonstrates his total ignorance or deceptive intent. Bitcoin is not anarchism but quite the opposite – it is an open, truthful, honest social contract between the participants because all the terms of the agreement are right there in the source code and they cannot be changed (that is what the term “Open Source” means). Perhaps it is this flagrant honesty that makes dishonest writers such as John Gray so nervous or makes it so hard for them to see. They have lived a lie and repeated it so long they can no longer recognize truth even it it smacks them on the head.
Believers in Bitcoin are confident that it can protect them not just from governments but also against humankind as a whole. Instead of relying on politicians and bankers, or the vagaries of democracy, Bitcoin’s users put their faith in the laws of mathematics.
Rather than believing lying politicians, lying bankers and their fraudulent representations that they have used to indenture the entire Western World Bitcoiners are, I guess, thus naive enough to believe that honest contracts (i.e the open source code) can make honest people out of otherwise honest people.
Whatever happens, this will surely not be the last attempt to find freedom in cyberspace. While the freedom Bitcoin promises is an illusion, it’s one that will always have a grip on the human mind – the dream of finding some kind of talisman, a benevolent tyrant or a magical new technology, that can shelter us from power and crime and protect us from each other.
The only illusion is John Gray’s attempt at coming across as someone who has a grasp of Bitcoin. Every generation has to fight and protect their freedom from scoundrels and this generation’s fight is against corruption and fraud (and their cronies that do their writing for them like John Gray).