Bitcoin is extremely hard to change – and this is clearly not something that we can also say about dishonest altcoins and governments that compromise constitutional traditions to submit to the will of vocal minorities. And when it all comes down to protecting private property and immutability of public records, you definitely don’t want to bargain with vulnerable and ultimately fallible systems.
Today, even the most democratic countries engage in practices that infringe fundamental human rights. The protests that we’ve witnessed in the United States clearly prove a disregard for private property and a lack of willingness to protect owners from the attacks of an angry minority. Some may disagree with this view, but civil rights protests can also be conducted peacefully and with greater consideration for private property (as proven by a long history of peaceful protests).
One can also argue that this confusion between public and private is due to legal and economic illiteracy on behalf of the protestors. But the main argument here is that no protestor, dictator, or governmental authority can damage the money that you store on the Bitcoin blockchain. With Bitcoin, you simply choose to not expose yourself to such risks – but deal with a level of individual sovereignty that requires proper education for self-custodianship.
While your government chooses to not protect your private property (and even blames you when you try to apply the Castle Doctrine), you can opt out of this system with Bitcoin. Sure, you can’t protect physical property, but you can definitely store your wealth in a way that guarantees your property rights.
This article will explain why Bitcoin’s immutability and censorship resistance are unique, and argue that the network is better at protecting your property rights than your government. Ultimately, the choice about managing wealth is entirely yours to make.
The Bad News For Your Private Property: Man-Made Law Is Interpreted and Applied by Flawed Humans
Every modern constitution promises to protect private property and respect their citizen’s rights to own it. But in times of crisis, exceptions always emerge. Under certain conditions, the same government that vows to protect you from thieves and abusers will “temporarily” confiscate your possessions and issue a certificate that promises to compensate you for it.
And if elected officials are concerned about their popularity in polls, they will also be reluctant to apply the law when the decision appears to be unpopular or politically incorrect.
Law is a man-made concept and is due to human subjectivity. The 1936 constitution of the USSR (adopted under Stalin) “guaranteed” unprecedented rights and freedoms for citizens, including freedom of religion (article 124) and freedom of speech (article 125). Yet these provisions did not stop Christians from getting killed or being sent to forced labor camps under the atheist ideology, churches from being demolished, and journalists from being censored.
If the example of the USSR is a little extreme due to the great focus on propaganda and public image to cover up murderous deeds, then you probably won’t be surprised to discover that today’s common law countries aren’t doing so well either.
The USA might have derived its civil laws from Magna Carta, Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan”, and other works from the classical liberal tradition, but some decades of cultural Marxism have greatly diluted the value of freedom and property.
Take for example the case of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who were filmed defending their property from their doorstep: they did not harm anybody, they merely stood their ground, they legally owned guns in St. Louis, Missouri, but the angry mob and the media have tried to portray them as the villains.
To some, the McCloskeys’ case of owning a historical house has turned them into “racists” who live a lavish lifestyle just like the slave owners of the 18th century. They were depicted as villains of the Black Lives Matters cause, had to take clueless attacks on social media, and were subjected to international scrutiny while acting within the boundaries of the law and on the doorsteps of their property.
In spite of the American tradition and the Magna Carta principle of “a man’s home is his castle”, the largest majority of the media has treated the story as if it came from a European country where owning guns is rare and illegal. Journalists have also used the McCloskeys’ wealth and race as arguments to suggest that the law is rigged in their favor.
The counter-argument here would be that mob rule and journalists’ judgment does not account for a judiciary ruling. But law is made by people and is doomed to receive new interpretations from every generation – especially in a common law system, where a role of disproportional importance is played by the jury and certain precedents can get twisted by a creative lawyer to strengthen the case.
While the constitution and the tradition suggest that an action of defending property is justified, the rule of a new and ideological mob suggests otherwise. There is only a small step that needs to be taken in order to redefine private property and fundamentally destroy its protections.
Under article 17 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, more than 100 countries vow to protect private property. Yet this commitment did not stop the USSR, Romania, and dozens of other communist countries from confiscating private property. And just because a country has had a good record, it doesn’t mean that it will remain safe while a large majority of the youth has been indoctrinated by Marxism and has a “class struggle” and materialistic type of worldview. Thankfully, Bitcoin partially fixes this.
Why Bitcoin’s Immutability and Censorship Resistance Protect Your Private Property
Since its deployment in January 2009, Bitcoin has constantly been under scrutiny and attackers never ceased to attempt to bring it down. Yet in spite of these attempts, Bitcoin has only been down for 15 hours due to early programming issues – this means that the network has an uptime of 99.98%.
And thanks to careful development, January 2009 holders can access their funds without any issues. If Satoshi Nakamoto wants to return and sell his coins, he can do it without anyone’s permission and without worrying that the new state of the blockchain has denied his access.
The biggest of Bitcoin incidents happened in August 2010, when somebody exploited an inflation bug. Consequently, the entire network moved to a new blockchain whose state preceded the issuing of counterfeit coins. This happened in a time when 1 BTC was worth roughly 6 cents, the development was still amateurish and reckless, and there was no industry built around Bitcoin.
Yet even this early resolution took into consideration property rights and the incentives of the Bitcoin network: financial scarcity was preserved, the total cap of 21 million units was considered, and the subsequent hard fork made sure that miners would only receive the fair amounts according to the rules. This lesson would improve the review process of Bitcoin code and put greater pressure on developers worldwide to do a better job.
Now the Bitcoin network has become so strong and global, that anyone attempting to send counterfeit bitcoins or cause double spends would get rejected by the honest nodes. Overtaking the hash power to cause double spends has become economically-irrational and very difficult to coordinate, while individual single points of failure have been eliminated.
Most governments can’t afford to individually or even collaboratively launch an attack (which would only affect the most recent few blocks), and pointing a gun to a developer’s head won’t help you insert a line of malicious code into the software client. In other words, Bitcoin as a network has matured to the point that its success is inevitable.
For reference, check out the voting for SegWit adoption and notice how many developers and businesses needed to agree with it before deploying the soft fork. And this was only a minor change that did not seek to change important rules or revert to a previous state of the blockchain. If you want to see records of opposition to change, take a look at the history of the XT, Classic, Unlimited, and SegWit2X hard fork proposals.
You might also want to read the reactions that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has received from community members when he suggested a rollback to recover the bitcoins his exchange lost in a hack. A day later after implying a selfish change, he had to correct his statement and try to do damage control.
Immutability and censorship resistance are Bitcoin’s strongest points, and the reason why it’s one of the safest ways to store value. As a network that’s governed by simple, clear, and publicly-auditable computer code, Bitcoin does what you government simply cannot: resist external pressures and apply the rules objectively, irrespective of who makes a request and what kind of wealth or influence they may possess.
Bitcoin doesn’t care about your nationality, race, gender, wealth, social status, or influence – and nor does it include any such provisions. As long as you respect the same objective rules as everybody else, you benefit from the exact same experience as everybody else. Where even the internet has failed, Bitcoin succeeds in creating a global, state-agnostic, and censorship-resistant network which relies on provable truth and enables a secure way of transferring value.
After 12 years of existence, Bitcoin is already better at protecting your property rights than your government.
Your government can and most likely will look the other way when protecting your private property involves making an unpopular decision. Constitutional law may be written in your favor, but the people in charge of applying the law may seek re-election and decide that you being the loser is the preferable case in their cost-benefits equation.
Bitcoin simply doesn’t care, as it’s operated by mathematic rules. The only bribe that you can offer is to a miner who may include your transaction in the next block. But you can’t pay another network participant to have someone’s funds frozen or stolen – and if you want to brute force SHA 256 cryptography to derive the private key from the public key, then good luck. It takes the Sun’s entire energy just to count to 2^256, let alone try all possible matches.
After 6 network confirmations, it’s safe to say that a transaction (and the block storing it) has become irreversible and permanent. And if this claim leaves any room for skepticism, feel free to refer to the research of mathematicians Ricardo Pérez-Marco and Cyril Grunspan, who demonstrated that rolling back one confirmation costs at least 50 coinbases (312.5 BTC in the current era, and $2.9 million at today’s rate of $9287 per BTC).
In the past, the US government excelled at protecting private property rights because it was also hard and costly to make any infringement (just like it’s increasingly costly to attack Bitcoin). If politicians were to be in favor of violating the sanctity of private property, they would be subjected to high levels of risk (falling out of grace, getting voted out of office).
Today, due to the intrusive technological surveillance which destroys privacy (the first requirement of security) and the abundance of cultural Marxism in education, the norms and incentives are changing. It’s safer and cheaper to violate somebody’s private property, and the signs don’t really point towards a favorable future for the Castle Doctrine.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, will never have arbitrary interventions with ownership under the premise of self-custody. Custodians are able to freeze your funds or censor transactions but they don’t like. But if you own your keys and take individual sovereignty seriously, you are the master of your own fate.
There is a great sense of power and responsibility that Bitcoin ownership brings. But the fact that no government, trans-national corporation, mining cartel, or user can tell you what to do with your money or prevent you from accessing it is truly unprecedented. And thanks to privacy improvements such as CoinJoins, ownership comes with a great plausible deniability.
In these times of civil unrest, owning real estate or any other types of physical assets may be risker than dealing with Bitcoin. It’s not even about the price volatility (which is irrelevant to long-term planners), but about the protection of your property and your rights to keep on owning it. If an angry mob decides that you should pay for the assumed crimes of your grand-grand-grandfather while the government shrugs off the fundamental and publicly-subsidized responsibility to provide protection, there really isn’t much that you can do.
You can play this game of class struggle, historic justice, and justifications for violence, or you can simply opt out by using Bitcoin. At this point in time, the Bitcoin network protects your private property a lot better than your government.
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