It is in decentralization that nature dwells. In centralization, we have seen only masks; we have seen only rogues who deceive fools; charlatans who come to governments to get some money, who send men to war while they go in to plunder their refrigerators with impunity, who plunge them into poverty through taxes, credits and debts, and who force them to pay their bills in exchange for allowing them to continue walking the Earth. That is, after all, centralization: A lot of smoke and lies mixed in the same stove, whose flame is kept burning by the politician who thinks that men are not worthy to govern themselves. In his opinion, that happiness is reserved for small tribes that hide among jungles and mountains, like animals that hide from civilized societies, but that in the long run are discovered, colonized and exterminated by them.
If it is unusual for a politician to exercise power without corruption, it is even more unusual to exercise power without centralization, especially if there is a type of decentralization such as Bitcoin, which bases its transparent and immutable government on mathematics and which, as such, is already mature and strong enough to be ashamed of depending on a government that is not interested in the progress of mankind. Let us remember, of course, that good inventions were never made with the prior authorization of any government, starting with the alphabet, which had to be the first tacit agreement — or the first social contract — between peoples, just before merchants invented money to represent the value of food, housing or sex. The great inventions were always decentralized, and in order to function they never needed the permission of any human committee, as did the most nefarious ones, such as religion, politics and armed armies, which were born precisely to satisfy the desire for domination of centralized powers. It is hard to understand, for this very reason, how it is that the people today believe they have any kind of voice, when it is clear that they have long since fallen into the hands of the tyranny of centralization, and allow a government from which they are completely excluded to do whatever it wants with their work and their money, to watch over them as it wants, where it wants and as it prefers, and to tell them without any shame whatsoever:
“He who is a skillful guardian of a thing is also skillful in stealing it.” — Plato, “Republic I,” 334b
The only Heracles against the economic and governmental monsters of this world is Bitcoin, with all its “decentralized” weapons, which do not benefit any bee without first benefiting the swarm, and which value human privacy to such an extent that anyone can put on the helmet of Hades. The blockchain, as a science related to privacy, does not have, naturally, total transparency; if so, not only its security would be threatened but also its immutability, because it would allow exactly the same thing that gave rise to its birth: excessive government surveillance, an abusive interference in individual freedoms justified in the defense of collective freedoms, more inequality, much more corruption, and everything that is in direct contradiction with the philosophy of Bitcoin.
Secrecy, at least in the Bitcoin blockchain, is not a manifest duty, but one of its main rights, since in it the word “privacy” means the same as “freedom,” and the collective benefit is not achieved at the expense of sacrificing any individual inclination. The primary purpose of Bitcoin, like that of any innovation, is to leave beings in the world freer than we were in it, so that whoever wants to reach a certain goal also has the means to obtain it, depending as little as possible on others, spending his days devoted to the art of which he believes himself capable and, above all, without being forced to surrender his freedom in exchange for a simple illusion of legality.
“Truly, nature leaves us free and liberated, but we ourselves bind ourselves, we constrict ourselves, we enclose ourselves within walls, we reduce ourselves in the small and petty.” — Plutarch, “Moralia,” 601c
Freedom, unfortunately, is hated in excessively centralized epochs to such an extent that its entire psychology seems oriented to belittle and slander it, causing man to be so bad as free today, that even free he feels and acts in the world as a slave. Free, in all cases, means not moved or forced, without any feeling of constraint: the mere fact of being able to make one’s own life an experiment, without any authorization from any man, institution or government. Perhaps all men would be free and equal if they had no needs, but as long as misery subordinates some human beings to others, as long as they act out of strict necessity rather than by virtue of their freedom, as long as few of them belong to themselves, and others must be counted among their belongings, so long, we say, will dependence and inequality exist, and slavery will be a very real misfortune.
And yes, it is true, we know that, in comparison with other ages, the man of today enjoys much more freedom, and that the slave who at night kissed the same hand that in the daytime whipped his back is now a thing of the past; but still we are far from believing, as those addicted to the idea of progress believe, that the man of these times is entirely free by birth, an impartial child of the universe, who goes out to sea without a single wave pushing him back to the harbor. A man who centers his financial freedom in having more and more debts — and does not realize that the worst state of affairs is that of one who has nothing that really belongs to him — cannot be free at all, for he contemplates the ideal of freedom in its simplest and most caricatured form. Such a man judges freedom not by what he is able to do, but by what he is able to endure, even in the midst of the worst need, and believes that the fact that he has no master is enough to affirm that he does not live as a slave. Such a man makes it his destiny to serve all his life, provided he is allowed to say that he loves his freedom with idolatry: For he can say that because he is free he would serve God, if the devil himself commanded him to do so; but, though he dislikes the yoke, and though he says he hates it, he knows very well that he must bear it.
“However much your name may weigh you down, you are a slave, and not to one man; rather, to many you will be inexorably enslaved, and, bowing your head like a labourer, you will toil from sunrise to sunset for insulting wages.” — Lucian, “On Salaried Posts in Great Houses” (“The Dependent Scholar”), 23
It is surprising, on the other hand, the prodigious number of emphatic speeches that have been made in all ages against slavery among the ancient Greeks and Romans, but it is still more surprising to find that those peoples did not have even one-third of the slaves that Europeans and North Americans still have today. The present lords of the Earth are quite content to think that, had it not been for the Babel adventure, the whole world would speak English today. They are our great democrats, but they cannot tolerate the idea that there is anything beyond the control of their regulatory policies, much less that people invent and use things that make the earthly existence of their bureaucrats unnecessary. Freedom is only freedom when they want it to be, not when others want it to be, and what they have achieved with much effort and sacrifice, with much less effort and at great difficulty they always have to prohibit it. Everything that they have not done to authorize is a moral evil, a criminal action product of the freedom that man has allowed himself to abuse, and, therefore, it must be harmful to the rest of society, which must thank them by obeying and thinking as it has been taught to obey and think.
“Freedom recruits apostles; / But I follow none of them; the coarse game / I know all too well; all want / Freedom for their own gain. / Do you really want to free your neighbour? / Start by serving him… that is the way.” — Goethe, “Epigrams,” 50.
Be that as it may, the truth is that those of us who trust in the Bitcoin idea have heard a lot about the freedom of others, but we do not believe that there is anyone on the face of this Earth who has forged one like ours. We know that whatever price is paid for freedom is a good price, that the freest man is the one who has the greatest relative independence of his forces, that he is the one who lives best and desires best and feeds best, the one who is most detached from himself and renews himself. It is because we have learned in time to desire what we must that today we live as we wish, discovering every day that we have barely two seconds in life, and that it is not worth spending them crawling under the feet of any government. If we are to be condemned, we think, let it be for having sought freedom without rest; for having sought from life only what is just and beautiful, pursuing it to the best of our knowledge. What future life could we have achieved for ourselves, had we continued to live the present one for others? Is there a more dishonorable slavery than voluntary slavery? Can anything be attained without first untying the spirit and freeing it; without doing all that is necessary to unleash it?
“The spirit is free by nature, not a slave: it does well only what it does for itself and at pleasure.” — Schopenhauer, “The World as Will and Representation,” Supplements, I, 7.
This is a guest post by Anderson Benavides Prado. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.