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On Civil Disobedience

By Craig Wright | 08 Jan 2020 | Bitcoin & Blockchain Tech

I believe in law. To me, it holds the convictions of all that is valuable. Having said so, all systems of law require bounds. As societies develop, such bounds are tested and change. Here lies one of the reasons why the concepts of “Code is law” or even “Code as law” are each fundamentally flawed. It is only with law that we can challenge society and the boundaries that are set. It is because of law that civil disobedience allows people to see the flaws in society and for people to rectify them. It is not just the common law but equity, too, working together, that create the balance in the scales that measure life and ensure justice to the greatest extent possible. For it is never possible to achieve perfection. For what is perfect now would not be perfect a generation, three generations, or further down the track.

As with all things, the reason behind something, the why is important. With lawbreaking in the form of civil disobedience, there are reasons why it is important. It matters not so that some individuals benefit at the expense of others, but so that we can challenge the laws and seek to redress the inequitable aspects of society.

It is not crimes against property, it is crimes against the unjust, the unfair, and the inequitable that we must challenge.

What is important to remember here is that the challenge only matters when it is done with courage. It is not anonymity that changes the system. It is the ability to stand up for what we believe in.

Henry D Thoreau wrote a letter to RW Emerson on 23rd February, 1848, and extended the concepts presented the next year into an essay titled On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.

Many people say that they are opposed to government when in reality they are opposed to an overreaching interventionist government. We need to start setting definitions, before we make arguments. Individuals are important to society; without individuals and without the ability to be treated separately, we become just a number. It is through removing individualism that corrupt and totalitarian governments take away our rights. Whether we’re talking about Stalinist Russia or the mistreatment and persecution and then genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany, when people removed individualism from the equation, they removed our humanity. Thoreau was correct when he argued individuals should never allow government to overrule or atrophy individual conscience. Republics work when they are based on the virtue of individuals. If we wish to be a just society, we have to stand for what is right.

It is not important that we believe what others stand for, but we stand for their right to oppose what they see as being immoral and unjust. Doing so does not mean that we allow them to interfere with the property rights or rights to life and liberty of other people. It does not mean we allow them to be anonymous. For us not to be an agent of injustice, we cannot be anonymous and we must be in the light. It is in the dark dank places, places created through anonymous activity where corruption breeds.

It is when through silence or inaction we create a state of acquiescence and fail to raise objections, knowing that what is occurring in front of us offends us, that we are in the wrong and fail to meet the standards of virtue and justice.

Government is a machine or tool. When the machine is not working, it starts to produce injustice. The people act to regulate the machine. Such resistance changes the machine to create a more just society. Such is the nature of courageous and open civil disobedience. It is the promotion of just rules through democratic and republican societies. We the people are the state. Civil disobedience is not revolution, it is polite and orderly disobedient. It works within the accepted social forms. It does not destroy, but it educates.

To be effective, civil disobedience requires that we are open and honest and do not hide behind the mask of anonymity, which is the shield of cowards and the corrupt.

All government is man-made. It is created through the people that promote the policies and laws enacted by the government, and can be changed by the people within society. In the Tao Te Ching,Laozi sums it up eloquently, reminding us: “The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects.”

Martin Luther King Jr. sums up a modern version of interacting to oppose injustice in his eloquent autobiography:

Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau’s insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.

Modern-day slavery comes from the corrupting influence of those who say, we can have everything now. That we can create without work, we don’t need to save, and we can live on the income of tomorrow. Whether it is 5% or under equity-based loans in housing, hire purchases designed to have people buy more than they need, or the concept that it’s other people’s problem because we haven’t educated ourselves, we haven’t updated our skills, and the government is there with its safety net to catch us when we fall, no matter how little we do and how much risk we take, the modern-day slave trade is bringing people into a debt spiral that they need never fall into in the first place.

Encouraging degrees that are unlikely to lead to jobs yet cost immense amounts of money, ones involving populist and post-modernist anti-human ideas rather than mathematics, engineering, the ability to write in a format that attracts the interest of other people, science, and more that would lead to productive work, forms an entry to modern-day slavery.

Encouraging people to buy houses they cannot afford using loans that cost them more than they can ever earn, based on a promise of speculative gain, is the manifestation of modern-day slavery.

Promoting a myriad of cryptocurrencies that have all been copied from ideas spawned 20 years ago, without true value, without use, without scale, without the ability to dynamically and radically alter society, based simply on a promise of riches that will happen quickly, without work and without effort, so too is modern-day slavery.

Bitcoin needs to be regulated, and it is already covered by law; it has been from before the inception of the white paper and the code. Before I wrote the first line of code, laws existed throughout the Western world covering Bitcoin in every aspect of its existence to be.

Laws cover money to protect the individual. They stop the unscrupulous promoter selling lies and advocating anarchy, corruption, and fraudulent schemes designed to tell you how rich you will get by buying bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency — without working. But even government, as slow and lumbering as a system based on the minds of many people that are loosely connected through slow bureaucratic systems can be, is starting to awaken. In 2020, we will start to see what happens when Leviathan moves.

With Bitcoin, the world becomes more transparent. As the people start to see what has been hidden from them, when they start to see the Internet that is not free but works on selling our souls, they will start to awaken, and as they do, change is about to occur. Bitcoin is not designed to allow anonymous drug markets, it is designed to utterly destroy them. If people want to fight to change laws, they need to do so with courage and face the consequences of what will occur. Bitcoin doesn’t merely stop drug markets, it will stop corruption. In increasing the cost, the economic cost of crime, in making corruption more difficult to hide, in making cybercrime, political bribes, and all forms of large-scale monetary payments more difficult to hide, Bitcoin makes a more honest world.

I shall conclude my epistle with the words of the esteemed Cambridge University history lecturer Dr John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, who is more commonly known as 1st Lord Acton:

[T]he time has come for the extinction of servitude. The same problem has sooner or later been forced on many governments, and all have bestowed on it their greatest legislative skill, lest in healing the evils of forced but certain labour, they should produce incurable evils of another kind. They attempted at least to moderate the effects of sudden unconditional change, to save those whom they despoiled from ruin, and those whom they liberated from destitution. But in the United States no such design seems to have presided over the work of emancipation. It has been an act of war, not of statesmanship or humanity. They have treated the slave-owner as an enemy, and have used the slave as an instrument for his destruction.

Banks are not an evil, and Bitcoin does not replace banking. The US government promoted policies that led to the collapse in 2008. In allowing people to take out loans that exceeded the value of equity in their property, government did not help people to get a foot on the property ladder, it helped corrupt bankers to take the little that the same people had. There is value in saving. Having to save 20% before you have a home loan granted is a chore and an effort, but it is a necessary one. It was not banking that was at fault, it was the policies designed to appease a small class of people in a vain attempt at delivering short-term political wins. It can be difficult for people to save, but it is also essential. Wishing away the problems in society does not solve the problems in society. Saving a deposit for a home is no different than having to cut down the calories you consume and exercise more; it is a necessary chore, a hygiene factor, and for people to successfully build a future, they must learn that virtue and vigilance are not always easy. The false promises of easy riches generally end in pain and tears.

We are corrupted through power, and ultimate power lies in anonymity and the ability to hide. The most insidious and devious of such powers is to move money and funds without a means for them to be traced. Whether it is corrupt government, corrupt officials, mercenary soldiers, warlords, tyrants, or even dishonest corporate CEOs and others within companies committing fraud, the ability to hide money and pay people surreptitiously has been the most corrupting influence in our society for as long as money has existed.

With Bitcoin, we have a means to enable privacy and utterly destroy anonymity. Bitcoin does not stop government seizing criminal funds, it makes it easier to separate that which is easily determined and to be associated with crime and to capture the perpetrators and seize their money. At the same time, when implemented correctly, Bitcoin is the most private monetary system available. It is not being implemented as such right now, but it will be implemented as such again. I designed Bitcoin to be private and not anonymous. The distinction is important. A pseudonym allows an individual to hide from the gaze of many in the public, but it does not remove the individual completely. With Bitcoin, we do not remove the ability to capture criminals, we remove the ability for the corrupt to hide their money.