Social Attacks On Bitcoin

It’s no secret that Bitcoin has enemies. There are those who’d like to kill it outright and there are those who’d like to subvert it. And, of course, Bitcoin has its fair share of the usual human problems.

The more overt attacks have pretty well failed thus far. Bitcoin, after all, is just a computer program, meaning that there’s no head that can be cut off, killing it with a single blow. On top of that, Bitcoin is protected with encryption end to end, and it’s more or less impossible to swing a sword, or a court order, against math. (Encryption being applied math.)

The usual types of subversion have likewise also failed to do a great deal of damage to Bitcoin and the younger cryptos. Fear of the regulator and especially the seduction of the regulator (“acceptance”) have been tried at length, and while they’ve left a few dents here and there, nothing fundamental has been destroyed.

As for human frailties, we’ve had those too, mostly notably young people finding themselves suddenly rich. That comes with more difficulties than those who haven’t been through it might expect. It’s what we used to call “a crazy-maker.”

Social Attacks

Put yourself in the position of needing to kill cryptocurrencies (for whatever reason), and not having a great deal of success. You can’t cut off its head and regulating it to death isn’t working very well. What choices do you have left?

Well, the next choice is to subvert via social manipulation. If you can’t get at the tech directly, and if there aren’t one or two humans who can sway the whole thing, you’re left to run social attacks. After all, with no one to run miners, develop new applications and so on, the computer programs would sit idle. And so, the intelligent attacker must go after a large number of people at the same time. It’s far from an ideal solution, but they really have no choice.

And so have come, as it seems to me, social attacks on Bitcoin and its younger siblings. I see (or think I see) two particular types that have arisen. These could have come from the negative psychology that floods the world these days – that is, without any particular intent – but I’ve seen this kind of thing before and underestimated it((I saw the beginnings of political correctness back in the 1980s and passed it off as so ridiculous that it would never last. I wasn’t in a position to do much about it then, but mea culpa all the same.)). I don’t want to do that again. 

Social Attack #1

Social attack #1 is something I’ve heard rumors about but can’t verify. The story goes that three or four years ago someone tried to get some bad code into BTC by either manipulating or attacking Bitcoin Core, the primary developers. The attacks weren’t physical, but they were serious.

In such a case, you survive the attack by saying, “I don’t care, call me an asshole.” That’s a necessary stand to take from time to time, and if the rumors are true, it was a good thing for the developers to do.

Social Attack #2

So, if you can’t kill it or subvert it very well… and if your first social attack fails as well, what are you to do?

Sadly, the answer is to take whatever opposite inertia was generated by Social Attack #1, and push it to its extreme.

And that’s what appears to have happened. I think we’ve all seen “I’m a Bitcoin hard-ass” posts on Twitter. It’s turning into a divide and conquer situation, pitting one part of the community against the other. And if it grows, it may slowly poison the whole.

This is a generational problem as well. The younger generation have been shoved into polarities by political types: Either they go Social Justice Warrior on the feeling side, self-righteously attacking anyone who doesn’t carry their feelings, or they go caveman on the other, thinking that kindness is weakness and that insults are the path to strength and truth.

This also plays into divide and conquer.

Is some person or group fanning these flames purposely? I don’t know, but it’s what an intelligent villain would do.

In The End…

In the end, it doesn’t much matter whether these attacks come from agents provocateurs or from human frailty. What does matter is that they are recognized and stopped.

The crypto community needs to become the adults of the financial world, not the squabbling teenagers. And we’re quite capable of doing that, even if prodded toward lesser paths.

Both sides of the polarity are bad choices. We need to be hard when it’s required and cooperative at all other times.

We’re not going to get to the goal by being squishy or by playing hard-ass. It behooves us to find balance and to keep our focus on the goal.

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9/11: The Greatest Gift the Status Quo Ever Got


I’m not saying that 9/11 was anything but a sick, evil disaster. Nor am I placing blame for it on any person or group; I’m not interested in wasting time in that quagmire.

What I am saying is that the status quo in America – compliance without question, shutting our eyes to abuse, and forever finding reasons to believe – was aided by the 9/11 event more than anything else in our lifetimes.

This has had consequences and will continue to have consequences, and not good ones. A compliant populace is an open doorway to abuse, and the American populace has set an all-time record for compliance since the event.

Who Benefited?

Whatever the reasons behind it, we have to admit that the ruling classes in the US played 9/11 to the hilt. Consider:

  • The warfare industries have seen their greatest and most prolonged boom times ever. The war in Afghanistan (not to mention Iraq, the War on Drugs, and all the small ones) has gone on for 17 years – as long as US involvement in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined – and has kept an ocean of money flowing through the war industry’s coffers. Young Americans are still being killed and dismembered for no clear reason, but the money keeps flowing. And every significant sporting event begins with a worship service to the military. These are the times of legend.

  • A huge number of aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are drinking deep from the streams of war funding. I’ll forgo details, but those with experience know.

  • The myriad bureaus and agencies of government are funded like never before, have more exorbitant pensions and benefits than ever before, and are questioned less than ever before. Concerns about “big government” are far behind us; this is the era of mega-government. And it reigns inviolate.

  • The Fed and big banks have more power and protection than ever before. Bailouts are made first and laws changed afterward. Banks borrow at nearly 0% and buy Treasuries at about 3%. The Fed purchases trillions of dollars’ worth of houses and stocks.

  • The investing class, as a result of Fed purchases, has been provided with massive gains in both stocks and bonds. The tax man has taken in record amounts as a result.

  • The PATRIOT Act – literally pulled out of a drawer and passed in record time after the 9/11 event – has continued unabated for 16½ years. Spy agencies are funded beyond all previously imaginable limits. The number of spy units has exploded, and the number of consultant firms has exploded even more.

  • Major corporations have been strip-mining the American populace. In the face of mute compliance, they simply pay for laws and regulations to be written as they like. Easy-peasy. Are we to believe it’s accidental that our health insurance rates are skyrocketing while the quality of care tumbles? Are the doctors suddenly worse? Did all the nurses suddenly go crazy? Of course not; the mega-corps – from insurance to pharmaceuticals – paid politicians to write laws their way, leaving a helpless populace to cover the bills. Like taking candy from a baby.

  • The news channels became cultural influences like never before. These outfits (and I mean this very literally) addicted millions of Americans to fear and politics. And they have profited thereby.

  • The enforcer class (police departments, etc.) has been worshiped as perma-heroes, has had rivers of money and military toys thrown at them, and has been authorized to force Americans to prostrate themselves. That’s a lot of ego-cocaine.

Trend Without End?

The beneficiaries of the 9/11 event will most certainly try to keep their good times going, but in the end it all rests upon the unquestioning compliance of the populace. And so we ask:

  • Can the military-industrial complex rely upon ever-more terrors? And if not, won’t the necessary fear fade? Will their partnership with evangelical Christianity hold forever?

  • Will government officials reverse the course of history, with more power producing less corruption? And if not, won’t corruption matter again someday?

  • Can the mega-corps strip-mine the populace even worse?

  • Can cops (or their bosses) get the populace to enjoy being intimidated, searched, and raided?

  • Can Hollywood and government schools produce yet another generation in the baby boom model?

We’ve been at peak compliance for nearly 17 years, and it’s hard to see the trend continuing forever. “Trend without end” is one of the worst bets in history after all.

It’s time to move on.

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The Hidden Payoff in the Brussels and Paris Attacks


I don’t have any more secret information than you do. I don’t have access to any of the backrooms that matter, and I don’t get leaks from “informed sources.” I do, however, have experience with protecting data and with a variety of things “crypto.”

So, what I’m telling you now isn’t verifiable… but it’s very close to accurate.

The Missing Piece

When looking at the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, we are impelled to look for explanations. And to do this, we generally rely on stories we get from mass-media corporations. We all know the news is worked over before it reaches us, but it’s really almost all we have, and the live video they show is probably actual live video. From these minimal facts, we fill in the gaps as best we can.

Some of us are quick to attribute these evils to our favorite secret cabal. Others blame government policies, clashes of cultures, and so on. None of these are necessarily wrong, but neither are they automatically right. To be believed, a theory needs evidence.

And in this particular puzzle, there is a missing piece. It doesn’t explain why the attacks happened (Muslim crazies, false flags, two more intel failures, whatever), but it explains a good deal of what’s happened from the moment of the attacks onward.

This missing piece happens to be something that Jonathan Logan, my associate at Cryptohippie, dubbed “Descartes’s Demon,” an automated manipulation system based on the combination of universal surveillance and big data. I explained the current state of this technology in issue #59 of my subscription newsletter and examined its implications in The Breaking Dawn. But I don’t have space to recap all of that here. So, at the risk of self-promotion, I really do suggest you read those publications.

As I’ve been warning for almost a decade now, this system is taking shape and will have massive effects. But more than that, Descartes’s Demon – this surveillance-and-big data-empowered manipulation system – is an intelligence agency’s grandest dream. With it, they can not only find their adversaries’ secrets, but they can misguide their opponents.

These systems of automated manipulation are true power in an intelligence environment. Therefore, we can be certain that all the big intel agencies want them and will use all their tricks to get them.

Furthermore, the difference between winning and losing in a competition between such systems is probably in the range of a few percent. And that injects a serious level of desperation into these agencies.

Put together, these facts lead to just one place: an arms race. And yes, by that I mean intel agencies scrambling to get the best system and the best data.

That’s why, in the aftermath of the recent attacks, we find the friends of intel agencies pushing for the things that support these systems. In France, we saw instant martial law, which involves a remarshaling of government assets. Again, I don’t have any backroom info, but I’d bet that a whole lot of French assets are moving toward mass surveillance and big data just now.

We see it again in the aftermath of Brussels. Here’s a comment (and there were many others like it) from a British journalist named Max Hastings, just two days after:

Our tolerance of electronic surveillance, subject to legal and parliamentary oversight, seems a small price to pay for some measure of security against threats that nobody  – today of all days – can doubt are real.

As any manipulator of humans knows, you get what you want by striking when the fear is hot, because when people are frightened, their brains skip right past reason. Fear works.

Why It Will Happen Again

The tactic of throwing oceans of money at intelligence agencies is never publicly questioned, no matter how many “freedoms” it shreds. Most people pre-endorsed anything the security state wants years ago, and many would defend that choice to any length, no matter how blind and stupid. The alternative would be to admit they were wrong… and they don’t have that kind of courage.

So, since “give up your rights for a promise of protection” is facing no pressure, things will continue more or less as they are. The mad bombers won’t have to give up their strategies, and the oceans of money pouring into the intel agencies will only get deeper.

Here’s who wins from this:

  • The intel agencies, who will receive yet more funding to build bigger and better manipulation systems.

  • The mad bombers, who can continue to strike fear in their enemies’ hearts.

  • The news corps., who get a huge ratings boost every time a bomb goes off.

  • The politicians, who can pose before cameras as agents of righteousness and salvation.

  • The police, who will get still bigger and nastier toys.

  • Hollywood, who can keep recycling the same old cop shows.

In the end, the intel agencies win, the bombers win, the politicians win, and the corporations win. Aside from a few direct victims (like 0.003% of the Belgian populace), the primary losers are the millions of people being molded into permanently-distracted zombies: living and dying inside of an iMatrix. And they don’t care.

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Paul Rosenberg