Anarcho-capitalist and libertarian activist Jeff Berwick has an unshakeable vision of the future. From his debate during the Bitcoin Summit in Tel Aviv and in an interview to Crypto Insider, Berwick shares his ideas on where crypto is heading and how it may shape the course of humanity.
The coming years are decisive for the direction in which we progress. In our conversation, we talk about crypto and anarchy, regulation and mass adoption, tyranny and freedom. What role does this technology play in our fast-unfolding future?
When you look up anarchy, you see images of violence, chaos, and people wearing freaky masks. But in reality, anarchism is a peaceful political belief that a society can be based on voluntary interaction without control or coercion.
One may ask, how would a society based on anarchy function? Jeff answers with the question: “How are we functioning now? In this moment right now, we are in the state of anarchy. There is no one pointing a gun at our head, there is no one telling us exactly what to do. People, in general, get along just fine. “
Jeff asserts that the government is a social conviction held by the masses as a result of brainwashing. The evidence is even in the etymology – “government” means “mind control”. The word made up of the Latin roots gubernare – to control, lead, govern – and mente – mind.
“It is a propaganda scheme to make people believe they don’t own themselves. If people can fully understand that they own themselves, we will have a world of peace and prosperity that we’ve never known… Crypto is a big part of that.”
Cryptoanarchy takes these ideas with the intention to employ them using the tools of cryptographic technology. Stemming for the cyberpunk movement of the 1980s which emerged in wake of the internet’s invention, a new wave of cryptoanarchy was kindled with the invention of cryptocurrency in 2009. It is this philosophy which lies at the core of the technology.
“Currency transfers energy between people, and is the most important energy we have in day to day life. Every transaction has energy involved. If it is controlled by a central bank or a government, they are actually controlling what you do. And now for the first time, other than gold and silver, we have the opportunity to actually control our own currency.”
A battle between crypto and governments
While cryptocurrencies offer unprecedented freedom to individuals, governments are increasingly striving to stretch out their control over the digital market. In the last year, we’ve seen countless countries taking steps towards regulation, or the development of national cryptocurrency. Most of the time, the justification is to prevent money-laundering and terrorism funding.
“Cryptoanarchy is the foundation all cryptocurrencies that exist today,” Jeff explains. “Even though it’s being attempted to be controlled, especially with Blockstream on Bitcoin, they can’t stop us.”
However, it can be said that the presence of cryptoanarchy has been diluted in recent years. A new wave of users and investors have entered the scene – especially in the build-up to the December 2017 peak – that couldn’t give a damn about taking down the state. In their purest form, cryptocurrencies have an outstanding potential for liberty. But amidst the masses whose drive is for profit and control, the shape of the market takes on new forms and moves in many different and sometimes opposing, directions.
“It’s a battle,” Jeff agrees, “but it doesn’t matter. Because of the code, the math, the technology. The true essence of what cryptocurrencies are is anarchy. The whole point is that no one can control it, and no government can regulate it. It’s funny when people say we need to regulate cryptocurrencies. This is why they exist – they regulate themselves. That’s the beauty and the power of cryptocurrencies.”
As governments will continue to impose regulation, there are some cryptocurrencies that are truly anonymous, like Monero or Zcash, “that no one can track or stop. The only way they could stop it is turning off the internet or turn off the power. And they will try.”
Mass adoption through regulation?
“Is the goal mass-adoption?” I asked him.
“Yes, but it will take time. The goal is that all people on Earth will use cryptocurrencies in one way or another. If people actually understood how crypto works, they would use it every day. I would never use the banking system today. It’s too expensive, it’s too slow, it invades privacy. When I send bitcoin, you just click and that’s it. You can’t stop a good idea.”
Just like the internet, which was also “a good idea”, the ubiquitous use of cryptocurrencies seems inevitable. “It actually took the internet 20 years before everybody used it. The internet really started in 1993. By 2003, around half of the people you knew were really using it. Now it’s 2019, and pretty much everyone uses it. It’s going to be the same with cryptocurrencies, only faster.”
Given the unparalleled benefits of cryptocurrencies – like immutability, sovereignty, transparency, decentralization, security to name a few – we will certainly see their use continue to rise quickly. But, according to Jeff, mass adoption does not necessarily mean regulation. Once crypto is widely used, governments and banks won’t actually need to exist. In fact, the governmental moves towards regulation of crypto may have a role to play in facilitating mass adoption. This, in turn, can backfire into the state’s demise.
“It’s not bad that the regulators get involved right now, they’re going to do it anyway. We can’t stop them. But if what they’re doing by regulating them is making people realize and start using non-governmental currencies we’ll actually get rid of them very quickly…”
“It would be so beautiful if it is through government regulation that cryptocurrencies become used by people across the world so we can get rid of governments and regulators… I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing.”
A tipping point between freedom and tyranny
We have reached a point where the existing technology can yield a great power in any political direction it is pointed. Also, blockchain technology can be empowering as much as it can be oppressive. What on one hand promotes self-sovereignty and decentralization, on the other hand, can facilitate mass monitoring and control. There is a fine line between dictatorship and freedom, the difference is a matter of data-processing systems. Total control and centralization endorse dictatorship, while decentralization leads to freedom.
“In the next few years, we will decide the fate of humanity – it will either be unbelievable tyranny or complete freedom,” Jeff prophesied.
“Once governments get involved and invade individuals’ privacy in these developing technologies, we can see things turn into extremes. With the tools available, we can see the uprising of tyranny as we’ve never seen before. In terms of privacy, when governments get involved and they’re tracking everything you’re doing we can enter into a time much like Orwell wrote about in 1984. Actually worse – I don’t think he could imagine bad this can get.”
With technological tools of mass-surveillance and data collection, governments have tools at their fingertips to implement controlling regimes. With digital currencies, the state will be able to track every transaction and infiltrate personal data. This is already beginning to happen.
“However if we get rid of governments, which cryptocurrencies have the potential to do, it will all be voluntary. I know freedom scares a lot of people – but that’s because you’ve been brainwashed… This process will take place over five to ten years. I’m not certain of anything. But the next five years will decide humanity.”
But things are not so black and white. The world will not collectively fall under tyrannical control overnight. And if such things do happen, there will be people who can live outside of it. The same technological advances easily facilitates encryption, security, decentralization, and anonymity. Whatever you need for off-the-grid living.
Jeff’s vision may sound morbid, but it is now that we must make conscious actions in our daily lives. You can do our research before throwing your money into different crypto projects, see if they reflect your hopes for the future. You can think about where you want to keep your finance, and consider the choices you have in terms of sovereignty.
And Jeff gives us a friendly reminder:
“Human liberty and freedom will never die, until the last person dies.”
Photo: Bitcoin Summit Tel Aviv