In my article We Need To Shut Bitcoin And All Other Cryptocurrencies Down. Here’s Why from last week, I made the argument that cryptomining (the transaction processing behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies) is so fraught with criminal enterprise that any crypto transaction unethically supports such crime.
I pointed out in particular that illicit cryptomining, or ‘cryptojacking,’ where hackers install mining software on unsuspecting corporate networks, is set to explode, as organized crime becomes an increasingly pervasive force behind Bitcoin and other altcoins.
I further argued that permissionless blockchain was at the heart of the problem, concluding that Bitcoin and its brethren would have to forego this flawed technology if they had any hopes of surviving.
In response, I received hundreds of responses, many in agreement but an even greater number angrily opposed, particularly among the ‘crypto-anarchists’ at the heart of the Bitcoin/crypto movement.
To my dismay, every single counterargument was fallacious – and many were downright hateful.
First, the Anti-Semitic Dog Whistles
Purveyors of hate speech often speak in ‘dog whistles,’ a kind of code in attempts to disguise their evil intent. For many of the most extreme crypto fans, cryptocurrency is anti-bank, with ‘bank’ being a dog whistle for ‘global Jewish conspiracy.’
All it took was my Jewish-sounding name to set them off. “We Need To Shut Jews And All Their Currencies Down. Here’s Why,” says anonymous 4chan contributor ‘3auiS//y,’ who calls himself ‘Adolf Hitler.’
He then proceeds to mock my article. “Last week I wrote an article on illicit usury – how Jews are sneaking fiat-currency debt-slavery in to nation states. I attempted to raise the alarm, calling this Jewish threat the most dangerous in the history of the world.”
Other anonymous 4chan contributors aren’t as eloquent. “Disgusting f**king kike, one day I hope this planet rids itself of this f**king plague known as the jew,” says ‘DBohsgDQ’ (asterisks added).
And then there’s this: “((((((((((bloomberg))))))))) I hate them so much,” says ‘47tTRH3r,’ using the popular repeated parentheses alt-right dog whistle. Such parentheses usually appear in threes, so using ten on each side of my name must indicate an extreme level of anti-Semitic hatred on the part of this crypto fan.
Not all crypto hate speech hides behind the anonymity of 4chan. “Forbes article by (((Jason Bloomberg))) says to ‘Shut Down’ all crypto?” asks Zachary W. Williams, who bills himself as a ‘Blockchain Enthusiast at decentralized intelligence agency.’
Williams continues: “This guy knows enough about Crypto to know what he is doing here is wrong, he is knowingly decieving people!” Williams says. “He probably owns a lot of crypto and makes money off of it, and he is trying to get the price down for himself to buy cheap by making you a fantasy that any country could stop Bitcoin when NO country can and he knows that!”
For the record: I do not, nor do I ever intend to own any cryptocurrency.
One anti-Semitic commenter actually presented a counterargument of sorts. “You can productively do CPU mining on certain coins, especially if you had enough garbage computers chugging away at it,” says Douglas Bowser, blogger on Digital Currency Grid. “It’s just probably the absolute most benign thing a botnet could be doing, and it’s totally insane that the guy is suggesting this is the biggest cyber-threat in 2018 or whatever. We need to shut Jewish bankers down. And Jewish media.”
Analyzing the Counterarguments
At the core of the cryptocurrency movement is the belief that the fact that governments and banks are in charge of money impedes personal freedom and power, and thus a fully decentralized approach to money is a revolutionary technique for regaining this freedom and power for the people.
Any suggestion of shutting down crypto, therefore, goes against this core philosophy, regardless of any rational argument. As a result, the clickbait title of my previous article predictably drew these people in, in spite of the fact that I wasn’t actually arguing for shutting down all cryptocurrencies.
For many people, their counterargument simply takes this idea of cryptocurrency as a necessary revolution as given, and thus I’m either working on the side of evil or simply misinformed or clueless. “We basically have two communities with opposite views, one defending the past and their traditional platforms,” says Fit50, blogger at Investors’ Hub. “Bloomberg is one of them, the other trying to develop a future and unleash its promises.”
In reality, my argument was that cryptos will either have to stop running on top of permissionless blockchain or face the prospect of being shut down, because of the unavoidable criminal benefits of permissionlessness. To avoid shutting down crypto altogether, then, the entire crypto world will have to move to permissioned blockchain.
But the crypto-anarchists don’t want to take such an action, of course, because for them either (a) no activity should be defined as criminal, (b) supporting crime is a small price to pay for freedom from centralized banking, or (c) they’re simply criminals themselves and they don’t want to jeopardize all the easy money they’re stealing.
Bowser’s quote in the section above aligns with option (b). By considering the botnets behind cryptojacking as ‘benign,’ he’s essentially an apologist for cryptojacking. Yes, we all know crime is out there, but it’s benign – a small price to pay for the benefits of cryptocurrency.
One other common counterargument: the fallacy of false equivalence. “The commercial banking industry is full of fraud too, should we shut it down as well?” asks Daniel Imbellino, Co-Founder of Strategic Social Networking and www.pctechauthority.com.
This argument is fallacious because the commercial banking industry is too different from cryptocurrency to draw such an equivalence, even though they have superficial similarities. In the commercial banking industry, after all, transaction processors are heavily regulated.
The ‘Proof of Stake’ Red Herring
One of the technical reasons why permissionless blockchain is inherently flawed is because it leverages ‘proof of work’ mining. Essentially, miners must conduct extra processing to solve a puzzle, where the first to solve it gets the reward for recording a particular transaction.
Proof of work is why Bitcoin transaction processing takes inordinate amounts of electricity, which is one of the reasons why the crypto community has been considering alternatives, many of them in the ‘proof of stake’ category.
Some counterarguments to my argument to shut down cryptos basically stated that there are alternatives to proof of work-based permissionless blockchain. However, proof-of-stake is still largely on the drawing board, and in any case, a lot of it is permissioned – and thus those approaches may very well be better than permissionless.
But that point is neither here nor there. The fact still remains, however, that permissionless blockchain-based crypto is driving enormous criminal activity, and thus we will either have to switch it to permissioned or retire such approaches altogether.
Whether such permissioned approaches will be proof of stake or some other mining mechanism – or will require mining at all – remains to be seen.
Conclusions for the Rest of Us
While I’m addressing the arguments of the radical core of the crypto movement, I didn’t write this article for them. After all, there are clearly people involved in crypto who aren’t rabidly anti-Semitic, alt-right, misogynist, extreme libertarian crypto-anarchists – and let’s hope that such cooler heads are in the majority.
I wrote this article, in fact, for those cooler heads – those of you who are interested in cryptocurrency but would only support the movement in ethical ways.
The question for you is whether we let the rotten core of hatred set the direction for the movement – especially as they either condone criminal activity or are criminals themselves.
Given the fact that a growing percentage of cryptocurrency miners are criminals, do you want to support such criminals by executing cryptocurrency transactions? Or does that make you as evil as the criminals themselves?
Ask yourself: is there a moral difference between donating to the Nazi party and being a Nazi yourself?
This isn’t a battle between ‘the establishment’ and ‘the people.’ That’s what the alt-right crypto-anarchists want you to believe. This is a battle between people who believe in the rule of law vs. organized crime, pure and simple.
The ‘freedom’ that cryptocurrencies promise sounds good initially, until you realize it really means ‘let the criminals run rampant.’ Unless you’re a criminal yourself, the rule of law is a better option – we just have to make sure our governments are meeting the needs of the people.
Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: public domain.
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