Amir Taaki: Darknet Markets Made Bitcoin Popular, Not Coffee Purchases

Amir Taaki: Darknet Markets Made Bitcoin Popular, Not Coffee Purchases

In a recent appearance on The Tatiana Show, early Bitcoin developer and Dark Wallet co-organizer Amir Taaki shared some of his thoughts on the current state of the world’s first major cryptocurrency. During the interview, Taaki discussed how darknet market Silk Road made Bitcoin popular and how the community needs to return to its ideological roots.

Bitcoin’s Origins with Silk Road

When discussing Bitcoin with host Tatiana Moroz, Taaki often spoke of it as a political tool, pointing to Silk Road as the main illustration of this point. At one point, Taaki referred to Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), who was the administrator of Silk Road and very well could have been multiple people, as a hero.

“DPR was very ideological,” said Taaki. “It wasn’t a guy who was running Silk Road because they were a profiteer. They realized the amount of risk they were taking. You could tell by their attitude . . . you had a sense that they were on a divine mission.”

Taaki spoke of Silk Road as an important moment in a struggle against the state and for individual freedom. In his view, it was more about what the market symbolized rather than the fact that people could use it to buy and sell drugs online.

“The way DPR ran the Silk Road was – he ran it ethically – he believed in the principles,” said Taaki. “When someone has a belief, they think about things a lot, and a lot of thought and energy goes into something before it actually appears in a product. The creator of Silk Road obviously had a lot of thought process behind what they’re doing and the effects of what they were doing and the ethics. I don’t think it was this kind of black market gangster profiteer.”

Bitcoin is Not About Buying Coffee

From Taaki’s perspective, Silk Road was a major factor in the rise of Bitcoin.

“I would argue that a big reason why Bitcoin became so cool and became so interesting was because of drug markets,” said Taaki. “Bitcoin did not get where it is because people could buy coffee or buy socks off the Internet. It got to where it is because it was seen as a potent weapon that people could actually use to thrust forward their politics and their ideology.”

Taaki went on to refer to the combination of Tor, Bitcoin, and other technologies as a sociological experiment where trade could be conducted between anonymous actors without the knowledge of the state.

“[Bitcoin and Silk Road] are a landmark in history because technological is a driver of the civilizational process,” Taaki added.

Returning to the Development of Bitcoin as a Political Technology

Due to Taaki’s views on the symbolic nature of Sik Road, the early Bitcoin developer referred to DPR as a martyr. In Taaki’s eyes, DPR should be the symbol of a movement for the creation of new technologies for political ends.

“In the name of our hero, we should construct political technology because we like to fight to advance our ideals,” said Taaki. “If people want justice for Ross Ulbricht, I would say the biggest thing that you could be doing is building more technology to support the struggle for freedom – political technology in the same vain as Bitcoin and Silk Road.”

Taaki claimed that those who wish to use technologies like Bitcoin to liberate themselves from the state need to work on these sorts of systems on a continual basis.

“[People believe] this technology does X, Y, Z, and therefore, we’re going to be liberated, but technology is never finished,” said Taaki. “Technology is something you work on continuously for your whole life.”

From Taaki’s perspective, many of the people who are working on Bitcoin businesses and projects today are making it nicer for normal people to use and not necessarily paying attention to any of the social values held by many of the technology’s early adopters. Having said that, he did have high praise for the various contributors to the base Bitcoin Core software project.

In Taaki’s view, the Bitcoin community needs to create a new roadmap with a social vision regarding the end goals of further technological improvements.

“This is a call for people in Bitcoin to start to realize that the power of Bitcoin is not simply in the product of Bitcoin but also in its symbolic and ideological level,” said Taaki. “Bitcoin is as much shaped by analytical forces as it is by social forces, by sociological forces.”

“We really need to infuse Bitcoin with its early spirit,” Taaki added. “We need to keep that going.”

Picture from freegreatpicture.com.

About The Author

Kyle Torpey

Kyle Torpey is a freelance writer and researcher who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured in VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, NASDAQ, New York Post, The Next Web, American Banker, and other media outlets. You can follow Kyle on Twitter, send him an email, sign up for his daily Bitcoin newsletter, or visit his personal website.


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