Silk Road’s alleged “Dread Pirate Roberts,” 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht, took one for the gipper on October 1, a week ago as of this writing. The federal investigation claims to have been tailing the dark net’s eBay of drugs and black market services since its 2011 inception, if everything you read is true these days. With billions accredited to the short-term dream-world for those who believe in a seriously free market society, SR’s demise broke the hearts and pocketbooks of many erroneously confident suppliers and demanders who had made the TOR-accessible website the raging success it was.
The naysayers and half-informed critics of bitcoin, the only currency SR accepted for payment, waited for the bottom to fall out and the bubble they’d insisted it was to finally burst. Prices dunked below $100 – then boomeranged back in place. Initial fear caused the timid to dump, and the in-the-know bitcoin users gobbled up what they could, while they could – which drove the price back to where it is today, $137.
Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere. But why? And how? What the hell is this lil engine that could?
Even if you’ve heard of bitcoin and think it’s “cool,” have a Mt Gox mobile app installed on your cell and refer constantly to the price variances, there’s a fair chance you don’t really know enough about it to make educated decisions about its acquisition and usage – or more importantly, what bitcoin is really about and stands for. For most, this is a moot point anyway – something irrelevant to daily lives.
Not everyone is a crusader for all things right and just, after all (even those who purport the opposite). Daily grinds, immediate people, places and things, generally hem in tightly your average clock-punching, easy-going individual. Discomfort of any kind in our material world will dispose of the better angels of almost everyone’s nature. Average people want to flow through their lives easily and no matter how interesting something might be, if it isn’t something they can “get” in the first 60 seconds of information exchange (word-of-mouth, tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.) they’ll usually go cross-eyed and move on to the next baited hook.
That’s where bitcoin has been both enabled and hindered – a paradoxical irony which defines bitcoin’s character.
For those who are more in-the-know about bitcoin than the casual enthusiast – moving in tech circles and mainlined into their news feeds – might not bother with the core principles, either.
Why would, or should, they?
In spite of its supporters brushing it off and straightening its shirt collar in hopes of improving its reputation, Bitcoin is a fundamentalist’s baby, the apple of the agorist’s eye – the twinkle and spring in the step for the Libertarian freedom-seekers who believe the U.S. has dropped the ball being the world’s number one choice for all things “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The banking cabal which took down not only the U.S. economy, but others, like Iceland and Cypress ( not to mention the Third World countries where any currency’s accessibility has been more of a pipe-dream than reality), destroyed the remaining vestiges of innocence within the average flag-waving patriot who ultimately believed good would always overpower and smite evil. The Great American Depression became a collective nervous breakdown that created a ripple-effect throughout the world.
The United States of America is the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world. When it begins to show signs of weakness after being both the world’s biggest hero, and bully, what chance did the rest of the world have? A web of gloom had been woven tightly around the entire planet, it seemed. Some people were upset when the Mayan calendar’s endgame date of December 21, 2012 came and went without a hint of mass annihilation.
Hope died each time a bank was bailed out. The milemarker of 2008 will forever be the burning bush within the bitcoin’s parabolic struggle to survive its birth in a world which had proven mortality rates for underdogs and revolutionaries were nearly nil. Military “heroes” were turned into zombies after 9-11 and throughout the 11-year war waging indefatigably by remote control-equipped cockpits in Washington, and from the front lines where troops were recycled resources tour after tour, redistributed to the most hostile Islamic strongholds in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wall Street’s diabolical pageant through the U.S. created an enormous Diasapora for the former “pet” of Western democratic capitalism’s favor – the Middle Class. Millions lost their homes through a grand theft which continues to rape and pillage the neighborhoods of not only minorities, but majorities. Servicemembers returning from the war, shell-shocked, concussive, missing limbs and civility, realized once they were stateside they’d been punk’d. Scores faced impending (or the aftermaths of) property foreclosures – many of which had been purposefully orchestrated by predatory lending schemes devised to target unsuspecting military spouses left to raise children and maintain homes while they were off fighting for their country’s freedom, being “heroes.”
Trust became the crime in a world suffering from a total reversal of fortune and roles. Right and wrong was obscured in a shell game with no end or reveal in sight.
Something evil had crept into the good halls and insitutions which for generations had been depended upon – and taken for granted – to take care of its own and pay its debt for services rendered. The government became the boogeyman, with banking giants lording over the serfdom which had become status quo – while everybody was looking. The greatest sleight-of-hand in the history of mankind had mind-freaked the world, in plain sight.
In the midst of this global reckoning, humanity flailed – not only in the unsung hollows of Third World outposts. Throbbing centers of civilzation – nations, cities, towns, and homes – were in the grip of a coup executed from the inside out. Cannibalistic mutiny of the world’s 1% left the rest of the world feeling like cattle headed for the abbatoir.
And yet, when all hope was being devoured, bitcoin took its first wobbly steps into the crumbling world.
Bitcoin took on a messianic role to those closest to it, and there was a gospel which needed to be spread.
Under the radar, the domain bitcoin.org was registered in 2008 in Helsinki, and the first block of 50 bitcoins was launched in January 2009, along with the ephemeral Satoshi Nakamoto as its creator attached. Buried in the code of that first block was a telling message, planted presumably by this phantom of the cypherpunk opera within the data: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Bitcoin shines in a dimming world’s sky, whether it is understood or appreciated for what it was created to accomplish or not. A game-changer in the money game, it is by its nature a dogged anti-star, unfazed by the pretentions of celebrity or wealth – yet it has managed in spite of itself to become a star.
Superpower, meet Superstar. Make a wish, it’s shooting.