Why Bitcoiners Are Doing What Libertarians Never Could

I am not trying to insult libertarians; they’ve been right, or reasonably close to right, on most everything, and for decades on end; that’s not a trivial thing. Nonetheless, they could never get much moving in the world, while Bitcoiners, to use an old but fitting phrase, are turning the world upside-down.

I think it’s important to understand why.

To Say And To Do

Can you name a Libertarian martyr? I’m not sure I can, and I’ve been involved with libertarian things for a long time. There’ve been a few anti-tax protesters, but they weren’t actually libertarian martyrs, largely because libertarianism excluded them.

Now, shall we name martyrs for the causes of Bitcoin and cypherpunk ideals? The list, as most of us know, is long. We can begin with Julian Assange and Ross Ulbricht, and from there we can go on to Charlie Shrem, near misses like Phil Zimmerman and at least a dozen lesser-known names.

Martyrdom doesn’t prove too much, of course – thugs will destroy for many reasons – but there is a clue here, and it’s this: Libertarians didn’t threaten very much. The powers that be never loved them, of course, but publishing policy papers didn’t overturn very many apple carts.

Now, to be very frank about this, and with apologies for doing so, libertarianism is a philosophy of intellectuals who wish to change the world without risk or suffering. That is, they imagined they were smart enough to do it by intellect alone.

Again I apologize, but the truth is what it is, and libertarians have never wanted to suffer. In my experience, they see suffering as a failure, and sometimes as evidence of inferior intellect. Bitcoiners, on the other hand, see suffering as bad luck, and as clear proof that the status quo is a beast: that it must be overridden for the sake of posterity.

Ultimately this difference comes down the difference between talking and doing. Talking may have its place, but it can never replace doing. Acting changes you in a way that talking simply cannot… and it very clearly changes the world in a way that talking cannot.

Bitcoiners are doers, and they are overturning the world.

It is active will that changes the world. Those who persist in active will drive the future, and no one else does. Consider, please, a passage from historian Francious Guizot, as he was examining the collapse of Rome and the rise of Christian Europe:

The clergy alone were strong and animated; they became everywhere powerful. Such is the law of the universe.

And so it is. That which is persistently strong and animated gets its way. That which is apathetic floats along in currents created by others… or sometimes just sinks.

Bitcoin Is A Gateway Drug

They used to warn teenagers that cannabis was a gateway drug; that once you smoked it, you’d begin a dark slide into heroin addiction. That was false, of course, but Bitcoin really is a kind of gateway drug. People tend to come for the exchange rate increases, but if they stay long enough to really grasp what Bitcoin does, they become radicals.

Once people understand that Bitcoin creates trust in a decentralized way, with no trusted party (read overlord), they begin to see that decentralization is valid, and then that it’s superior… vastly superior.

After that, Bitcoiners slip into rhapsodizing. In fact, find almost any Bitcoiner and ask a question or two; they’ll light up, buy you a meal and talk to you for an hour. Bitcoiners persist in this, even as every power in the world tries to scare people away from them.

When Bitcoiners get kicked in the gut by the aforementioned world powers (as they do from time to time), they get back up and continue raving about the Bitcoin miracle… and there are now literally millions of such people.

To those who have grokked Bitcoin, it’s far more than money; it is a new and better model of human life. They don’t want to suffer, of course, but the thought of suffering doesn’t stop them in their tracks. This is their miraculous opportunity and they are determined to rise to it, the possibility of suffering be damned.

That’s why Bitcoiners are turning the world upside-down, and why others, as smart and right as they’ve been, could not.


Paul Rosenberg