“Every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively according to friend and enemy. The political does not reside in the battle itself, which possesses its own technical, psychological, and military laws, but in the mode of behavior which is determined by this possibility, by clearly evaluating the concrete situation and thereby being able to distinguish correctly the real friend and the real enemy. A religious community which wages wars against members of other religious communities or engages in other wars is already more than a religious community; it is a political entity.”–Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political
This essay seeks to apply the concepts from Carl Schmitt’s essay The Concept of the Political to Bitcoin and the wider crypto cyberscape. By looking at Bitcoin and other crypto projects through Schmitt’s lens of what ‘The Political’ is (as opposed to party politics) we can start to understand the task at the heart of Bitcoin is not a technological one, but a political one. Only by understanding Bitcoin as a methodology of grouping friends and enemies according to the principals of robust, private, secure, unconfiscatable money and what that functionally means using cryptography in the world of today; Bitcoin unveils its hidden political agenda of crypto-anarchy.
The Political Hidden within Crypto
It is important to understand that the essence of bitcoin, while posing as something technological, is really political. The technical and cryptographic aspects of Bitcoin are just a means to an ends–they are not inherently related to the essence that is Bitcoin. This essence, discovered and unveiled through the questions of what Bitcoin’s essence is, reveals itself in the final Turning to be none other than The Political itself.
By The Political, we are referring to that which Schmitt describes as the friend / enemy distinction. This is the formula of categorization that seeks to imposes its will upon that of the other–any Other–to subject them to their ways, and to be the determinant force in which the Other is politicized. It is by this method–how any other person may be labeled and grouped as being part of the enemy class–that the new Political formulates itself and imposes itself upon the world as something fundamentally political.
This political nature is found in the fact that everything within Bitcoin that makes it functionally operate is hidden behind cryptography. Why?
Because it is through cryptography that every facet of the state can be challenge and overcame. By allowing for Bitcoin and the cryptography that powers it to become the preeminent questions of organizing, Bitcoin opens the path towards the politicizing the internet directly; an existential challenge to states everywhere. This politicization is not for the agenda of any contemporary form of party politics, or to dominate any national legislature, but is something beyond all of them–a totally new form of the political through the creation of new classes of both friends and enemies through the lens of cyberspace.
The mission of Bitcoin is intentionally obscured, as its real purpose is only for those who have been chosen and seek to understand Bitcoin in its wider historic, social, and philosophical context. It is only through this deep process of questioning and searching does an understanding of the truly political nature of Bitcoin exposes itself; decrypting its true nature of being the most political object to ever exist.
To be clear, the purpose of Bitcoin is fundamentally different from all other ‘crypto’ projects. The importance of this cannot be understated as it is the demarcation line between the friends and enemies of Bitcoin. The mission of Bitcoin is wealth freed from the restraints of the state and their last vestiges of slavery, fiat money. Unequivocally, Bitcoin is the enemy of any and all modern states because of how it charges its economic context with political meaning by extricating the power of money and wealth from the hands of all states once and for all.
Every other crypto project is little more than a money grab to enrich its founders under guileful promises that some ludicrous technological feature will somehow make it better money then Bitcoin. At best, these other crypto projects are reformist because they seek only to change the existing fiat and banking systems, not to overthrow them. At worst, they are active plots against Bitcoin–wolves in sheep’s clothing saying trust us, but don’t verify–buy our shitcoin because we like Bitcoin too.
It is here that we start to see see where exactly the line between friendship and enmity within Bitcoin is drawn, and why understanding Bitcoin in this context of the friend-enemy distinction is so necessary. While these other project may seek to create change in new ways, they seek to downplay Bitcoin’s direct mission, to obscure it from the general public, to shy away from the real existential threat that it is to all states, and the state’s ability to control money. These other crypto projects will never have the same vanguardist revolutionary nature that is Bitcoin’s essence because they do not approach the issue politically, but only technologically. They lack the full understanding of why Satoshi choose to launch Bitcoin as he did, and why the whole concept of PoW is so necessary to how Bitcoin operates. The enemies of Bitcoin fail to understand that the creation of a new standard of digital ordering is a promethean production of value itself–it cannot be duplicated transient, fleeting, and pathetic cause of just making money.
When we start to look closer at how Bitcoin functions, we start to understand its whole purpose is to organize people according to classes of friends and enemies grouped around cryptographic means. Though this understanding we start to see its political agenda not just as a new form of money, but as the destruction of the old order of politics all together. On one side are the statist and reformist who recognize the state as the only bearer of legitimacy to create, print, control, surveil, issue and regulate not just money, but value and wealth itself. On the other side, are the crypto-anarchist who seek to free all wealth from the yoke of despotism that fiat money and contemporary banking are and allow for the birth of something truly valuable and scarce:
Raw, naked, unabashed, unadulterated truth. The rarest of things in this day and age.
As I have said and pointed out before, it comes down to the inverting of the Hobbesian dictum of sovereign power (“Auctoritas, non veritas facit legem” (Authority, not truth makes legitimacy) in De Cive) into:
“Veritas, non auctoritas facit legem.”
(Truth, not authority makes legitimacy)
The political essence that is Bitcoin
What the blockchain bros of other crypto projects fail to realize is that what makes Bitcoin the best money the world has ever seen is not a technological feature, but a political one. The hidden political essence that lies at the core of Bitcoin is the utilization of cryptography in order to organization against any state, and all of its various appendages of control, domination, and exploitation. It is the oath of the machine to itself to create a new social contract built on top of cryptography. It is only through a strategy that rejects the legitimacy of the state’s authority for the truth of Bitcoin that The Political may actually be reengaged in the world of today and through the internet as its means of production.
It is Bitcoin’s political demand not just for the end of fiat money, but from governmental interloping of all kinds that composes of its radical power. It is the very real political apparatus that allows for political organization around the internet itself. But not organized like a machine or a corporation, but more like a mob or a dance party.
This power is radical because it is not part of the oscillations of constituting political power, but is a final technologically destituent power that uses cryptography to forbid and banish the state from existing in this space at all. Bitcoin is the final form of The Political in the digital age, where the new technologically superior order will wipe away the old to make way for the new. As Schmitt says, “No matter how large the financial bribe may be, there is no money equivalent for political freedom and political independence.”
Through the radical idea of wealth that is no longer accountable to any state, combine with the God-like power of cryptography to demand the sacrosanct of its word, we are offered a kind of protection and assurance that can be offered by no sovereign, no institution, and no individual alive. Bitcoin opens the truly political to man once again. Here before us lies the opportunity that presents itself maybe once a millennia; and only for the briefest of time, and only for the boldest of participants–it is the opening of the truly political and the destiny that awaits those who believe they can change the world for the better.