Bitcoin Is Pure Anarchy

Anarchy is a very dividing word to many people, inherently drawing the idea into peoples’ heads of complete and unbridled chaos. This is not on any level what Anarchy means. It is simply a system lacking rulers or a central authority, where all cooperation and coordination is done on a purely voluntary basis between peers in the system. The etymology of the original Greek word, anarhkia, itself literally just means “without rulers.” An, meaning without, arkhia, meaning rulers.

This concept is the foundational reality of why Bitcoin functions as a distributed network and protocol. There is literally no one in charge of the network. If there were, then it would not be a distributed system composed of sovereign individuals voluntarily choosing to interact with each other.

People tend to look at Bitcoin as some objective truth that functions as a frame of reference for human beings, that it exists in the same sense as the laws of physics. That is not true. This notion confuses the borders between objectivity, intersubjectivity, and subjectivity.

An objective truth is one that exists regardless of peoples’ subjective belief in it. I.e. The laws of gravity mean that an object with enough mass will exert its gravitational influence over all other objects around it. No amount of refusal to believe in this fact of the universe will change it. You can convince the entire human race to the last man, woman, and child, that the laws of gravity in fact do not exist. This will not stop gravity from exerting its influence on all of them.

Now take for instance the value of the dollar. Is the dollar inherently valuable? Is that an objective statement of truth? It is not. The only reason the dollar has value to any individual is because they subjectively value it. Why does an individual subjectively value the dollar? Because other individuals also subjectively value the dollar. This is intersubjectivity.

It is simply a subjective viewpoint shared amongst a large number of individuals. That is what Bitcoin is, a distributed intersubjective system. So what is the difference between Bitcoin and the dollar? The lack of rulers and coercion. The dollar system has people in charge of it, the Federal Reserve, the commercial banks that actually issue new dollars by offering credit, the government agencies that regulate its use and who can interact with it. It has tax authorities mandating its use in the payment of your tax obligations.

Bitcoin has no such equivalent rulers. It has no Federal Reserve board, it has no commercial banks that dictate when and in what quantities dollars are brought into circulation. It has no taxes that you are coerced into paying by anyone. It is simply a distributed set of economic actors voluntarily running a piece of code in order to interact with each other.

“But Bitcoin has rules.” Yes, it does. That people voluntarily opt into. There is no power structure or governance structure involved in creating those rules. They were put out into the world by Satoshi Nakamoto, and every single person who has joined the network since that moment in time freely chose to adopt those rules. There is no structure saying “these are the rules.” There is simply the set of rules that everyone has voluntarily chosen to follow completely of their own accord.

Even changes to those rules that have occurred over the years, and there are quite a few of them, are purely voluntary in their nature. There was no governance structure or authority that imposed them on anyone. There are no “rules to change the rules.” Anyone at any time can step up into the social square and propose a new rule to add to the Bitcoin protocol and network. At any time people can choose to adopt that new rule, and if a critical mass of people do so, then it is now a rule of the network.

People often think that because the protocol and the network itself has rules, that there is some kind of framework of “meta rules” surrounding that. That these meta rules must be followed in order to change the rules of the system itself, or are some kind of binding requirement to fulfill some purpose or nature of the system that cannot be changed or evolve over time. This completely fails to internalize the reality of what an anarchic system actually is. There are no rules except what people choose to voluntarily follow of their own accord.

Within the confines of those rules, it is anarchy. Anything anyone can voluntarily do in interaction with another person in the confines of those rules, is allowed. Even those rules themselves are simply the result of a consensus arrived at through a process of pure anarchy, i.e. people interacting voluntarily within the framework that they chose to. That is what it is, no matter how much you might want to twist and contort definitions in your head to fit some other framework.

There is no authority to appeal to here. There are no rules to demand people follow other than the consensus rules themselves, and even that cannot be demanded or enforced. All you can do is hope that people choose to continue following them out of their own self interest. At any time a persuasive individual or group can convince others to change even those. If that occurs, there is nothing whatsoever you can do about it except attempt to be more persuasive.

That is what anarchy is. Free association devoid of any type of authority, or coercion, or control over who other people associate with, or under what terms they choose to associate. Bitcoin is anarchy, and if that fact disturbs you or instinctually makes you want to argue against it, then the reality is you never understood Bitcoin in the first place.