Part One of Bitcoin Sovereignty
So you took the orange pill and are now falling down the Bitcoin rabbit hole. You’re probably wondering what’s at the bottom. What is Bitcoin’s central innovation, from which all of Wonderland is derived? The answer may surprise you.
You’ll meet a lot of interesting people on your Bitcoin journey. They will tell you that Bitcoin is many things, including digital gold, a store of value, digital scarcity, peer-to-peer cash, and proof of work. But at the bottom of the rabbit hole, we discover something even more profound: an entirely new type of property rights — an entirely new type of ownership.
What we can own and how we protect our property rights are central to the type of society we live in and the freedom we have to live the lives we want. If we can’t own what’s important to us, we can’t own our own destiny, our options are limited, and we’re impoverished. Freedom is a very abstract concept, but it becomes more concrete when you realize it refers to ownership. Ownership of oneself, one’s choices, and one’s property is what freedom entails.
Property rights are how we operationalize freedom. Every single human right is essentially a type of property right. Ownership of your body is your ability to ensure that no one attacks you. The ability to choose whether or not to receive a vaccination is an example of health ownership. Traveling, speaking your mind, and creating things are all forms of ownership of your body and mind.
At the bottom of the Bitcoin rabbit hole is a new type of ownership, more subtle and powerful than any we’ve previously had. A new type of property with stronger rights protection than any we’ve ever had, providing us all with an unprecedented path to self-sovereignty and freedom.
Bitcoin Is a Type of Digital Property Rights
There was no such thing as digital ownership prior to the advent of Bitcoin.
You could be connected to the internet, but you couldn’t own anything on it. Music? Copied. What about your search history? Google owns it. What are your friendships like? Facebook owns it. What are your thoughts? Twitter owns it, and Twitter censors it. Even PayPal, which was supposed to provide you with a free market in which you could buy, sell, and own things, reserved the right to kick you off their platform, confiscate all your funds, or censor your transactions.
A world without ownership is like a public restroom.
Nobody cares about public restrooms, which are frequently filthy. They are used by everyone, and no one wants to keep them clean. On the micro level, a lack of property rights results in the use of a public toilet.
The Berlin Wall is the result of a societal lack of property rights.
Berlin was divided in two, almost as a natural experiment in what happens when one group of people is given secure ownership while another group is denied it. What happened in Germany was the same as what happened everywhere else this experiment was tried: People in places with property rights became more prosperous, whereas those in places without such rights had to build a wall to keep people out because the people didn’t own property, so they became property.
The Mysterious Case of Missed Productivity Growth
This aids us in unraveling a mystery. We’ve had the internet for over 25 years, and people predicted that by connecting the world, the internet would create phenomenal prosperity and greatly increase economic growth, but instead we’ve seen economic stagnation. Wages have stagnated, economic growth has slowed, and the country has become entirely dependent on money printing to stay above zero. The question is, how is this possible?
Well, part of the answer is that we married 21st-century technology, the internet, to a bronze-age economic sophistication system. As a result, internet owners such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are the only sovereigns — modern-day pharaohs — who control the servers and data streams rather than the Nile and water streams. As a result, you, we, and we are the serfs. While we have stagnated, the pharaohs have thrived.
But then there’s Bitcoin, a digital democratic revolution in the same way that Athens and Rome were ancient democratic revolutions. Demos means the common political unit of the people in the original sense. Bitcoin is an invention that allows individuals to protect their rights. Bitcoin is a new kind of global jurisdiction, providing borderless, permissionless property rights to all of its censorship-resistant citizens. It is permissionless because it does not rely on a pharaoh. Censorship is ineffective because no pharaoh can stop it.
Bitcoin is a new thriving currency.
Societies thrive when people have such secure property rights and know that what they create and freely exchange with others will remain theirs.
Until Bitcoin, the ability to protect and secure ownership rights was based on the logic of violence: you either had to protect yourself from violence or rely on governments or other powerful groups to do so for you.
Bitcoin established a concept of rights that was based not on the power of violence, but on a different kind of power: the logic of cryptography, math, and shared truth. Cooperation took the place of violence.
That is why it is critical to follow the Bitcoin rabbit hole all the way to the end in order to understand what is at stake here. Digital rights that can be enforced globally, across borders, and without violence for all people. Bitcoin, this new power, finally puts us — the individual — in charge, giving us control over our own lives.
Bitcoin has also given rise to a new and powerful Demos, a wealthy community of Bitcoiners who control a global jurisdiction. This provides us with the opportunity and responsibility to build a new civilization based on the voluntary cooperation of sovereign people.
Now that we have that power, the only question at the bottom of the rabbit hole is, “How will we use it?”