The U.K. hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s U.S. extradition on the week of February 24, 2020, presented a test of Western liberal democracy. The indictment of Assange under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents which exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan is recognized by free speech groups as an unprecedented attack on the First Amendment.
With the government’s criminalization of journalism, we are seeing a deepening crisis of legitimacy that had begun to unravel a decade ago. Bitcoin emerged during the 2008 financial meltdown as a response to bank bailouts and a cycle of austerity. Over its 10 years of existence, the technology has steadily maintained its fundamentals of censorship resistance and permissionless usage. Now, more than ever, Bitcoin shows these defining features as its value proposition.
As the government becomes more authoritarian, those who speak truth to power are being punished more harshly. Bitcoin as a technology of dissent provides alternative forms of resistance that are much more peaceful and joyous. It offers an avenue for people around the world to express their opposition against their government without directly confronting with power; instead it is simply creating a new world that makes the old system obsolete.
Premise of Unalienable Rights
The invention of Bitcoin didn’t happen overnight. It was built on cumulative efforts of the past. The development of this technology of dissent can be traced back in the history of people’s liberation from the arbitrary power of the king and despotic government. In the United States, after the victory of the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers rejected the rule of British monarchy. In the Declaration of Independence, the premise was given for unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” expressed in the words of Thomas Jefferson that is to be applied equally to all people.
In establishing the U.S. constitutional republic, these premises remained no more than ideals and they were constantly threatened. The original Constitution ratified in 1787 lacked the guarantee to secure individual liberties that inherently belong to all people.
The proponents of the Bill of Rights demanded a safeguard against the government. They articulated the protection of essential parts of unalienable rights in the First Amendment to the Constitution as a freedom of expression; freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Security Hole in the Constitution
Erosion of civil rights took place through a loophole in the security within the Constitution. While a wall of separation between church and state is placed in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, separation of money and state was not. Under the First Amendment, individuals’ right to create, choose their own money and transact freely was not recognized as a part of freedom of expression that needs to be protected.
The central control over money production faced a major security breach. Attorney Ellen Brown explains how most people think money is issued by fiat, declared to be legal tender by the government, but the creation of money has been taken over by private corporations like the Federal Reserve.
Privatized national and corporate currencies, created out of thin air around the world, came to function as a medium of control, allowing big business to create market monopolies. This began to debase the intrinsic value of the natural rights of a person evidenced in the nation’s founding document. By transforming those inalienable rights into a permissioned form of legal rights that can be infringed upon by the government, corporations and private banks began to steal individual liberties. Freedom of expression became further stifled through economic censorship and financial blockage enacted by payment processing companies like Visa and MasterCard.
Cypherpunks: An Internet Revolt
As the state’s assault on civil liberty has increased, rebellion came from the internet. On February 8, 1996, when Congress enacted the Telecommunications Reform Act that enabled media consolidation and monopoly of flow of information, John Perry Barlow, internet pioneer, wrote a Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. Addressing it to “governments of the Industrial World,” he called for a creation of a “world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”
Those who revolted against the arbitrary power of the national government became dissidents in the new frontier of cyberspace. They found each other and formed an association that came to be known as cypherpunks: loosely tied online activists who advocate social change by the use of strong cryptography.
Tim May, one of the influential cypherpunks and the author of The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto recognized money as speech. At the Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference in 1997, he described how “Digital Cash = Speech.” He then noted how untraceable digital cash is “indistinguishable from speech” and explained how “any laws intended to control it will almost certainly impinge on speech in general.” Cypherpunks began envisioning a stateless digital form of money that is uncensorable and their collaborative pursuit created a movement for a new Enlightenment.
Philosophers in the Enlightenment era advocated for conceptions of democratic rights based on natural law. In his seminal work The Spirit of Laws published in 1748, Montesquieu wrote,
“Laws in their broadest sense, are the necessary relations which are derived from the nature of things: Once free from the yoke of religion, we should still be subject to the rule of Justice … Law, like mathematics has its objective structure, which no arbitrary whim can alter, before there were any enacted laws, just relations were possible.”
Cypherpunks understood that while alienable rights that are bestowed by law can be taken away by legislation, inalienable rights are not to be created but can be discoverable by reason. Thus, laws that secure inalienable rights cannot be created by man but can be found in nature.
Open-Source Process of Scientific Discovery
Like Enlightenment thinkers who tried to explain the laws of society and human nature through scientific methods, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin instigated a scientific process of discovering a way to restore money in its original form as an enshrinement of an unalienable right.
Bitcoin is free software that gives the user full control of the program. Anyone can observe, share knowledge and contribute to the development of protocol through participating in reviewing, testing and experimentation.
Here, principles of nature that were discovered were applied to create a decentralized digital currency and a market that is free from the control of the government. They included breakthroughs in computer science that led to the invention of a consensus algorithm, the laws of thermodynamics (study of science concerning heat, temperature and their relation to energy), and three natural laws of economics (self interest, competition, and supply and demand) that were identified by Adam Smith, a father of modern economics.
In Bitcoin, based on the principle of game theory to create fairness, miners engage in a broadcast math competition. Aligning self-interests of all in a network, with a careful balance of risk and rewards, rules are enforced without applying any external pressure. Bitcoin regulates itself through the spontaneous force of nature, flourishing healthy price discovery and competition in the best interest of everyone.
Intrinsic Value of Liberty
As the British court wrapped up its fake judicial process in the deliberation of the U.S. extradition request for the persecuted and tortured journalist, Julian Assange, Western democracy shows its final decline. This irreparable system continues to suck people into an electoral arena trying to keep them under its control. While many engage in protest or petitioning, busying themselves with cheering on their favorite candidates in political contests, Bitcoin provides a formidable tool for dissent, allowing people to simply opt out altogether from this corrupted system.
The bureaucratic system of the modern nation-state, administered by central banks, magistrates, presidents and prime ministers, has alienated us from the harmonious state of the world we belong to, depriving us of our innate rights and liberties. Now, imagination from computer science inspires us to rediscover intrinsic value within ourselves — the wisdom of nature that governs our behavior and our rights to express ourselves freely and create our own life.
We, Bitcoiners, are all dissidents in the Old World of trusted third parties. We defy the rules of empire states in order to trust our ability to become our own authority. Laws of nature that are higher than man-made laws, being enforced by mathematics, have begun to reorganize a society. The frictionless flow of bitcoin allows us to diverge from the mainstream of national currency that keeps us in a debt spiral; it allows us to transcend borders and bypass checkpoints. Voluntary association formed through this free speech money is creating a new economy, fueling innovations and opportunities for jobs.
Every 10 minutes, the heart of Bitcoin beats, setting computers around the world in motion. From developers to miners and users running full nodes that relay and validate transactions, together, all engage in computing as an act of civil disobedience, keeping the network decentralized. As we collectively dissent, the wealth of the network rises, securing equality and liberty as unalienable universal rights for all people.
This is an op ed contribution by Nozomi Hayase. Views expressed are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Inc.
The post Bitcoin Is the Technology of Dissent That Secures Individual Liberties appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Is Babel, China-based crypto-lending giant, in deep trouble?
China-based Babel Finance has been a prominent crypto-lending company for a while now. However, it has been in troubled waters recently. The trouble, in fact, came in full force after the Black Thursday crash in March.
According to an investigative report by Colin Wu, Babel Finance was badly affected by the crypto-market crash that took place on 12 March. In fact, the company allegedly lost almost all its funds and customers due to an acute shortfall.
Days before the crash, the crypto-lending company had claimed to have $380 million in outstanding loans, as of February, according to reports. The Co-founder of the company, Felix Yang, had then noted the growing demand in the market for crypto-lending businesses, with outstanding loans growing from USDT worth $52 million in Q1 2019 to $289 million by end of December 2019.
However, as per Wu, Babel had advertised a $300 million loan out of which $20 million was a borrowed sum. Wu explained the business fundamentals of Babel by stating,
“The core of Babel’s business is to absorb funds at a low cost, including the users’ collateral to borrow in series, to obtain more BTC and then to bet on rising BTC prices to obtain profits.”
At the time of the crash, the active trading of Bitcoin had led to huge liquidations on the platform. There was evidence of customers liquidating their positions, equaling over 3000 to 4000 Bitcoins, although there was speculation that the company was trying to protect customers from liquidations. Wu added that “Babel defaulted on the funder and suffered pressure from the funder.”
BlockFi, Genesis, Gemini, Coinbase-backed Babel
Prominent names in the crypto-business – BlockFi, Coinbase, Gemini, and Genesis have been among those that have reportedly backed the Babel Finance Group. However, after the crash on 12 March, its overseas funding was put to the sword as BlockFi and OSL interrupted their cooperation, along with Tether.
The report added,
“Recently, it has resumed. The partner that continues to support Babel is Genesis. Previously, BlockFi gave a pledge ratio of 1:1.”
In fact, Twitter user @btcking555 highlighted this baffling incident as a “scam,” suggesting that BlockFi had “cancelled partnership.” However, BlockFi has not confirmed this, as of yet.
At the time, Tether had extended its replenishment period from 48 hours to 1 month to help Babel, Wu claimed, with the latter owing Tether 5000 BTC at the time, despite having only 200 BTC.
“Babel has blocked its fate on Tether. It believed that Tether will give it time, and Tether can print money indefinitely. Tether did not respond to Wu’s consultation, suspected to be worried about its behavior will bring legal risks and other borrowers will also request extension”
About Babel investors
Crunchbase data suggests that there are three major investors in the company – Dragonfly Capital Partners, Parallel Ventures, and Next Generation Capital. However, its core customers and partners included f2pool, NGC, KuCoin, BigOne, and others.
Apart from a partnership with F2Pool, Poolin was another mining pool that had partnered with the company during its inception. However, according to Wu, that partnership was suspended in time too.
Cardano, Waves, Enjin Price Analysis: 26 September
Cardano registered a bearish pattern on the charts, one that validated the previous pattern to some extent, before the markets shifted dramatically to spur ADA upwards. Waves was in the oversold territory and might be forced to drop further in the coming hours. Enjin, however, appeared directionless in the market as buyers and sellers each negated the other’s effect on price movement.
ADA broke out to the downside of a bearish flag pattern, one that projected ADA would drop to $0.073. However, ADA had support around the $0.077 region and also displayed a bullish divergence, highlighted in pink.
The RSI went into the oversold region as ADA reached a resistance level around the $0.1 zone. If the RSI stays above 50 in ADA’s coming pullback, and the support at $0.91 holds, it would be quite bullish for the crypto-asset.
WAVES dipped beneath its support level at $2.31 and looked to be headed lower, but went into the oversold territory on the Stochastic RSI. WAVES mounted a weak fightback to rise above the $2.31 level twice, and at the time of writing, was trading at $2.50.
However, the Stochastic RSI showed consistently overbought conditions. If this plays out as expected, the latest hike in WAVES’ price will be just a bounce on a wider downtrend, which can be expected to resume in the next few trading sessions.
After $2.3, the next level of support for the crypto-asset lay at $2.
Enjin showed a lack of direction in the market. The Aroon indicator showed that neither an uptrend nor a downtrend was dominant, with one replacing the other every few days. At the time of writing, it was trading just above a level of support, and ENJ held a value of $0.156.
The trend appeared to be bullish as the Aroon Up (orange) crossed above the Aroon Down (blue). However, it remains to be seen if this would continue or if the price would be forced back down once more.
The Chaikin Money Flow also backed this conclusion as it was within the discretionary 0.05-neutral zone, indicating that buying and selling pressure were in balance.
NYC Auction House Features Bitcoin-Themed Art Containing Original Code
Christie’s New York auction house is featuring a piece of bitcoin-themed artwork that represents a portion of the protocol’s original launch code.
A massive piece of artwork containing a portion of bitcoin’s code is being auctioned at Christie’s New York.
According to the official website, Christie’s auction house in New York is hosting a massive piece of bitcoin-themed artwork. The project, dubbed “Block 21,” is one of forty pieces of art in a series depicting the entire 12.3 million digits of bitcoin’s original code.
Block 21 contains 322,048 digits of hexadecimal code, some inscribed in gold. The art collection, which currently spans the globe, is more than 50 meters long in total, with the entirety of bitcoin’s historic v0.1.0 code hand-inscribed on its surface.
Ben Gentilli, the artist behind the project, calls the collective series “Portraits of a Mind.” He described each piece as a digital fingerprint carved out of paint and attributed the artwork as a portrait of bitcoin’s anonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
Gentilli told Decrypt,
Bitcoin’s original codebase is like a historical document, and I wanted to celebrate it and preserve it in the same way as a document like the Magna Carta. But I also wanted to try and answer the question of how one might make a portrait of Satoshi Nakamoto, when there is no image of him.
He continued, calling Portraits of a Mind a decentralized piece of art reflecting the underlying nature of bitcoin.
Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com
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