“I mean the cypherpunk vision of cryptcurrency is nearly dead. As I’ve said, it’s kind of like it turned out to be the opposite. It was extremely regulatable, traceable, transparent, just not at all the cryptoanarchic world of finance that a lot of people hoped it was going to be… I think that this idea that cryptocurrencies could offer that world of untraceability, or cryptoanarchy, as some people wanted to see it, is just a pipe dream.”Andy Greenberg
Is crypto a pipe dream? When I watched Laura Shin’s interview of Andy Greenberg a couple of weeks ago, I knew I wanted to write a rebuttal. But something funny happened along the way. I had a crisis in confidence. Not in crypto, but in myself. I began asking myself if I was just wasting my time. If I should just stop writing and give up on this site altogether. I say it’s funny because now is when I should be more excited than ever as the past week has probably done more to legitimize crypto than anything since Satoshi first introduced Bitcoin over fourteen years ago.
Up until now, we had no choice but to rely on these archaic institutions and the people in charge of them to run our financial systems. There was no other alternative. Most people probably still believe there’s no alternative, but I don’t fault anyone for thinking that way. I think that’s an understandable and reasonable position. But as someone who’s been wandering in the crypto wilderness for the past five and a half years, I can say without a doubt that crypto is far from dead, and it’s definitely not a pipe dream (unlike maybe my dream of becoming a writer).
I think the reason so many people think crypto can’t succeed is because they don’t understand crypto. They only see it as a way to buy drugs, or a ponzi scheme. Instead of seeing what’s already been accomplished, they only see crypto’s failures.
Some like Mr. Greenberg may think crypto is all about being untraceable, or unregulatable. Then they see all the KYC hoops people have to jump through, or the work of companies like Chainalysis, and they can’t help but think crypto is doomed. But the reality is that anyone who wants to participate in the crypto economy can. As long as you have an internet connection, no one can stop you, and as more people actually start using crypto the more untraceable and unregulatable it’s going to be. Even now, if the US government made cryptocurrencies illegal tomorrow and ordered all their citizens to turn in their coins or be subject to arrest, I guarantee they can’t arrest everyone.
I believe crypto is here to stay. It’s not a pipe dream. It’s already won. The only question is how long is it going to take before everyone realizes it?
Crypto is not about untraceability. It’s about economic freedom. Untraceability is just one of its many features. Because when you’re truly free, you can choose to be untraceable, or you can choose convenience, or you can choose whatever else you want so long as you’re following the rules. Consensus rules like how there can only ever be 21 million Bitcoins, or that only 6.25 Bitcoins are minted with each block, and every block must be mined through proof of work.
I mention rules because crypto is so often connected to this idea of anarchy. Anarchocapitalism. Cryptoanarchy. To be honest, I didn’t know a thing about anarchy before I got into crypto. I just thought of it as some fringe thing I didn’t need to take seriously. But I had it all wrong.
When most people think of anarchy, they think of a world that has no rules. They think of chaos. Pandemonium. But that’s not what anarchy really means. Anarchy doesn’t mean no rules, it means no rulers, and to me cryptoanarchy is about having the freedom to choose our own rules. A world where we are free to govern ourselves, not be governed by tyrants. A world where we’re no longer forced to rely on central banks, or trusted third parties, because we have code, and consensus, and networks that allow us to leave or rejoin at will, and not against our will.