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 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.


Paul Rosenberg

Fighting Evil Is a Failed Strategy

Sure, there are rare situations where fighting evil humans is thrust upon us, but such situations are just that, rare. So, feel free to do what you must in that unlikely event, and let’s set the subject aside, as seductively theatric as it may be.

This setting aside is important, because “fighting evil” in any kind of societal application is a demonstrably failed strategy.

Failures Left and Right

Today we’ll pick on the left to begin with, then switch to the right.

The “fighting evil” strategy of the political left is socialism. It has gained a foothold among the young for three primary reasons:

  1. They are too young to remember socialism in practice.

  2. They are so poorly schooled that they don’t see any problem with it.

  3. The people promoting socialism complain very well.

I’m not trying to be trite or insulting with these three points; they’re the actual reasons.

Complaints about the way things are have a great deal of legitimacy, of course. Student loans are one of the more abusive schemes ever thrust upon a generation… deeply manipulative and deeply abusive. (I explain in some depth here.)

On top of that abuse, the truth is that the rich are becoming richer and the poor, poorer((This is not the fault of capitalism (actual capitalism, that is) and it’s not the fault of money per se. It’s the fault of national economic systems that call themselves capitalist and which run the economies of the world.)).

Bear in mind that these problem exist on the heels of a century of “fighting the rich.” Very clearly, the left’s “fighting evil” strategy didn’t work.

And it’s worth adding that while the complaints above are legitimate, invoking socialism to fight them has to be one of the most boneheaded strategies in human history. Not only has it not worked despite a century of massive efforts, but socialism has proven itself to be death incarnate((For what it’s worth, socialism was supposed to be a transition phase from capitalism to communism. A proper communist society would have no state per se. But please bear in mind that avowed communists can argue about these things for days on end.)). The Soviet socialists killed tens of millions. The Chinese socialists killed many tens of millions. Cambodian socialists killed roughly a third of their populace in only a few years.

Socialism is a way for a few to live like kings, while the masses praising them die in huge numbers. Period.

Now, let’s pick on the right.

I got an email recently, in which a friend shared a passage he’d read. It said, roughly, this:

Through the late ’50s and early ’60s the US was essentially a live-and-let-live place, with Christian proclivities. This began to change when the Marxists began infiltrating our universities, reaching critical mass in the ’70s and ’80s. No reformation movement can succeed until we treat cultural Marxism like we treated the war on smallpox.

I responded that while there is some truth in the passage (I’ve addressed it previously), the prescription of treating it as “a war on…” is useless. While most people no longer remember, groups like the John Birch Society have been doing precisely this since the 1950s and even earlier. And despite all their “fighting evil” efforts… and even with its incredible crash and burn of the late 1980s… socialism still seduces.

And so, again, “fighting evil” got us more or less nowhere.

The Answer

If you want progress in the world – if you want people to live happier, freer, more satisfying lives – there is a very simple and effective answer: Start building it yourself.

Not only does this work, but it’s more or less the only thing that works. A lot of people don’t like the idea, because it requires effort and because they’ve been seduced by the big lie of democratic politics, which is this:

If you can complain well enough, the machinery of the state will create what you want.

And so, people who believe that complaining makes it so (a near-relative of wishing makes it so) are hesitant to build. After all, building is harder than complaining, and they might get into trouble.

And so the politician who best pretends to care gets elected, and there’s no reason for anything to change. The politicians promise and the people believe, as the generations come and go. Ho hum.

So, if you want things to improve, roll up your sleeves and get busy. Cryptocurrencies, biohacking, 3D-printed housing, flying cars (scaled-up drones), automated agriculture, and many other improvements stand waiting for your efforts. In fact, we publish a monthly newsletter that teaches you how to get involved.

So, make a choice… and make it a good one.

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Paul Rosenberg

How to Defend Yourself from Ugly Stereotypes

This bit of advice applies to absolutely anyone who is being judged for variables outside their control. It was inspired by the kerfuffle surrounding the Gillette commercial. Whatever your take on that video, it’s clear that the debate around it is far more encompassing than the video itself.

In the States at least, there has developed a culture where it is socially acceptable to bash men and white people, and particularly, white men. This is especially frustrating when it comes from those who claim to fight against discrimination. They are paying lip service to the principals of racial equality and yet prescribing precisely the opposite… sometimes to shocking levels.

And so, we’ve put together some tools to help you with the uncomfortable situations that are arising.

These suggestions are not designed to help you “win” an argument. No one is going to stop in the middle of a heated debate and say, “You know what… you’re right!” That’s just not how humans work… 99% of them anyhow.

The goal here is to help you defend yourself, which is important for your psychological wellbeing and the psychological health of those around you. It also helps to set good standards in your community and to promote principals such as individuality, kindness, understanding, and fairness.

And so, here is a process for defending yourself honorably.

Step One: Acknowledgment

To have a clear view of the situation and to maintain any kind of moral standing, you need to look reality in the face. You need to acknowledge the situation as it actually exists and acknowledge the battles and scars of others. This in no way degrades the principals you are trying to uphold; in fact this requires the principals of kindness and fairness.

The social narrative that exists, no matter how distorted, didn’t come out of the blue. The world is often a good place, and quite clearly it is getting better. But the history and even the present still have far too much ugly in them. Jim Crow laws existed for a long time, police brutality still exists in spades, and lots of women are still revolted by the shockingly degrading images of them that have appeared in media.

You can also look up the breakdown of traffic stops based on race or the statistics on domestic violence or the prevalence of sexual assault. However much statistics are used badly, the raw data is worth a look, and the story it tells is not pretty. More than that, lots of us have friends who’ve been harassed for “driving while black,” “driving while Mexican,” and so on.

This stuff doesn’t meet your principals. So, say so, quickly and clearly.

The second part of this is acknowledging the scars of others, and that’s exceptionally hard to do when someone is calling you names.

Sometimes people will insult you because they’re vindictive, trying to gain social clout, or enjoying a power trip. Or maybe they’re just sociopaths. But it’s also possible that this person has lived through a lot of ugliness and bears the scars, and their anger is coming from deep fears. Unless you know the person and situation well, it is best to default to the assumption that this anger is caused by damage. Hurt people hurt people.

When you see something such as #MenAreTrash, you may be in the habit of seeing unprincipled and wildly vindictive people. But don’t miss the possibility that the other person has experienced an unacknowledged and unpunished sexual assault and has yet to heal. There are more people like that than you may suspect.

This doesn’t give them a pass, but it makes you honor bound to deal with them without further anger.

Step Two: Reject collectivism

You are not guilty for the actions of people who look like you, who have the same amount of money as you, who are educated like you, who dress like you, who talk like you, or anything else. You’re guilty of rotten things you’ve done and for nothing else. Statistics can’t change that.

There’s a reason we have trials to decide on someone’s guilt. Crimes must be proven with evidence, not with statistics. Unequal results are not evidence that you did something wrong.

So, don’t accept “social justice” or anything like it. But at the same time, stay positive and say something like, “You’re not guilty for the crimes of people who look like you, Jenny, and neither am I. If we start applying punishments to people on the basis of skin color or statistics, we’re headed straight into a bloodbath.”

Step Three: Seek the positive

If the conversation is still at a reasonable volume, turn it toward the positive. Find things the other person is likely to agree with, then build from there. Is that easy? No, it’s often not. But the less upset you are, the easier it is. And the alternative is to run straight into a full-bore fight, where no one learns anything and everyone ends up hating everyone else.

Step Four: Support and live up to your own standards

You lose all moral authority when you commit the crimes you are rallying against. Yes, other people often do precisely that, but sticking with your principals will help you, will help anyone who hears the conversation, and may even help the person arguing against you… after a cooling-off period.

It is easy to see the issues affecting you quite clearly and yet be blind to the issues affecting others. Don’t forget that. This person on the other side – unless they’re a full-blown power-monger – has reasons for believing what they believe. So, try first to understand them. Something like this often works:

“James, when you say ______, I find that I’m missing some connection. What was it in your life that makes this sensible and important to you?”

If the conversation is worth having at all, put in the patience and empathy to get something out of it. Plain old arguments aren’t worth your time.

A Few More

Even if you’ve got the principals down, it can be quite a challenge to come up with the right words to say. And so, here is a list of phrases that you may find helpful:

“Hey now, talking crap about an entire race/sex of people is not cool.”

“Yes, the world is really messed up sometimes. I’ve been lucky to escape the worst of it. But I am not an abuser, and I don’t appreciate the implication that I am.”

“Yes, I have been relatively lucky. How does that make me evil?”

“I will not accept guilt for things I haven’t done. Now, if there’s something else I can do to help the situation, tell me.”

“I find it important to communicate respectfully. I intend to communicate with you that way, and I would appreciate the same in return.”

And if things start going wild in a conversation, don’t neglect the power of simply walking away. If you need to, you can add something like, “This isn’t a conversation, it’s a fight, and I don’t want to play.” Then keep walking.

This article was written with the gracious help of Hannah Rosenberg.

* * * * *

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Paul Rosenberg