Crypto, Truth and Power

Understanding crypto through Foucault’s bio-power and the paradigm of total war

Michel Foucault

I want to start from the hypothesis that bitcoin and crypto assets are explicit military assets of war. The military value of crypto assets and their non-physical nature of comes a priori to their economic value. By focusing on the military value of crypto assets from a topology of total war, the true economic value of crypto assets presents themselves.

I believe that Satoshi Nakamoto, Whoever he/she/it/them is/was, was first and foremost a strategist of the cypherpunk traditions. This is extremely important because we need to understand the motivational ideology was not one of any sort of state capitalist nature, or idiotic wealth fantasies of lambos and other childish bullshit, but an explicit crypto-anarchist one.

If we follow the historic trajectory of the development of cryptography we come to find that its development was for both economic and military purposes, but it was only in the 20th century that it became a preeminent and singular objective of total war. It is important to point out that only the development of the atomic bomb could be said to be more important than the development of computers for cryptanalysis during WWII. Crypto is a technology of war first and foremost, which compelled the development of computers, we must always keep in mind.

By understanding crypto as a munition of war and as bulkward for the tactical organization of all-things under the banner of assured privacy, we start to see the real power of crypto is not that of economics, but of war. When we start to investigate the very power/knowledge relationship which cryptography engages within, we understand the kind of Athenian form of power crypto is to counter the brutishness of a statist Ares violence. It is this very relationship that also allows for us to uncover what the codification of law is in our society as pointed out by Foucault:

“The State consists in the codification of a whole number of power relations which render its functioning possible, and that Revolution is a different type of codification of the same relations.”

-Micheal Foucault, Truth and Power

Through deconstructing the relationships between power, law, and cryptography through the lens of Foucault’s biopower we can come to understand how cryptosystems create a total new form of social, economic, and ultimately political power through the literal codification of these same relations of power into cryptosystems. Through this, cryptosystems accomplish a two-fold political task of both creating a mode of counter-power to whatever state apparatus is may be countering (state money, state identity, commercial activity, education, etc.), while at the same time is creating a new crypto solution to these modes of subjugation and ultimately the law itself.

This whole superstructure has been called the Cyphernet.

What the Cyphernet does is replace the authority that guarantees law (which always constitutes with violence), with a system of truth that cannot profane itself, nor use violence to enforce its actions. Through exploring the relationship of the supremacy of blockchain truth-bearing capacity over state authoritarianism, and the majesty of mutual agreement to build power consensually through crypto alliances, over the subjugating violence of sovereign state law, we can start to understand the novel new form of power that the Cyphernet is constituting.

Let us postulated the question of power as Foucault did in order to have a more succinct understanding of what is at stake in power:

“Isn’t power simply a form of warlike domination? Shouldn’t one therefore conceive all problems of power in terms of relations of war? Isn’t power a sort of generalised war which assumes at particular moments the forms of peace and the State? Peace would then be a form of war, and the State a means of waging it.”

Perhaps Satoshi, in understanding the statement above, understood that in order for him to create a new form of money (which is a form of social contract), he first had to be entirely outside of the grasp of any state power. Satoshi knew that if he were to commit the greatest crime that ever been committed — the Final Crime which both abolishes old money and society, while constituting the new as well — there is no doubt that he would be branded an eternal enemy of any and all states. Thus Satoshi knew he must have perfect forward secrecy as Homo Sacer to ensure that the violence which can always find a particular person through nationalistic identification of the flesh would never be able to unveil him. Thus, as the Final Criminal, he is also the First Citizen of the new agreement of money that constituted the bloom of the Cyphernet, and the hope of a liberated technological future.

By first absconding beyond the physical realm into homogenized bits, Satoshi purified himself from the capacity of being branded in the flesh, and compromised through physical identification. By transmogrifying into the Nameless, Formless, Other; Levinas’ Stranger “which I, nor anyone else can have no power over”; Satoshi was the first to colonize this new territory of freedom with a new kind of social contract.

This contract which is the Bitcoin Blockchain is the first contract which constitutes the Cyphernet. This contract not only created a new form of money, but a new kind of political and social structure as well. This form of political and social is based upon the irrevocable power of Truth that must be bared in order for the blockchain to operate.

The greatest and deepest of ironies is that crypto was never suppose to be an offensive weapon of war — that only became possible in a world completely capture by totalitarian state capitalism. Only in a world in which all governments rule from the mantra of auctoritas, non veritas facit legem (authority, not truth makes legitimacydoes the power of Truth become revolutionary.

Only in a world where states regards themselves as Gods who are not accountable to truth would they be able to create fiat money. And only in a world where they regard themselves as Gods with the sole right to violence and excuse themselves from Truth of their own monstrous injustices could we understand how they create their monopoly money. It is not majesty, nor grandeur, nor even law that allows for them to rule; but raw, barbaric violence that grows from the barrel of a gun and the edge of a knife.

This is why the blockchain is so revolutionary; not because it’s a new kind of money, but because it is a new form of social contract that is found only in the Cyphernet. It is only from the power of truth-bearing that is demanded of the blockchain that allows for it to issue a new kind of money. The power of the blockchain is found within this new social contract that is guarantee and consummates through the Cyphernet, which totally coincides with the code and the real economic value that creates.

The blockchain has revealed itself to be the Columbus’ Egg of Truth, the Manifest Destiny of the information age, and quite possibly even the true face of capitalism in its final form. Perhaps only in this final state of capitalism was it even possible for a form of capital so radically liberated from any state power that it cannot even find a “real identity” to which find foothold to exert power from. This allows for the Game of Total War that is State Capitalism to play itself out within the full theater offered to it, which not only captures the life of all people, but all economic and political institutions as well. It is this later fact that is exploited to create an economic machine of truth so powerful that it acts as a weapon of war against state capitalism.

As these fact becomes known to all, just as the wealth of the New World presented a solution to the misery of European Monarchism, crypto too will reveal its provencal nature in the course of time to be the answer to state capitalism, and all of its hideous appendages of death, enslavement, and emptiness.

Now that we understand what is at stake in the Cyphernet and the kind of power it affords us, we can use Foucault’s presentation of the cracks in the state’s power via law in the following passage to guide our strategy against the State:

“To pose the problem in terms of the State means to continue posing it in terms of sovereign and sovereignty, that is to say in terms of law. If one describes all these phenomena of power as dependant on the State apparatus, this means grasping them as essentially repressive: the Army as a power of death, police and justice as punitive instances, etc. I don’t want to say that the State isn’t important; what I want to say is that relations of power, and hence the analysis that must be made of them, necessarily extend beyond the limits of the State. In two senses: first of all because the State, for all the omnipotence of its apparatuses, is far from being able to occupy the whole field of actual power relations, and further because the State can only operate on the basis of other, already existing power relations. The State is superstructural in relation to a whole series of power networks, that invest the body, sexuality, the family, kinship, knowledge, technology and so forth. True, these networks stand in a conditioning-conditioned relationship to a kind of ‘meta-power’ which is structured essentially round a certain number of great prohibition functions; but this meta-power with its prohibitions can only take hold and secure its footing where it is rooted in a whole series of multiple and indefinite power relations that supply the necessary basis for the great negative forms of power.”

Crypto absconds from these great negative forms of power by blinding power from the start. Power cannot be created in the Cyphernet through violence or subjection, but only through consensual agreement with the Other. By removing ones physical body from the economic space first by blinding in the Cyphernet, the possibility of violence is banished. By removing ones identity from the agreement, none of the current relations of legal power can find their footing, nor the violence that would ultimately enforce such legal power can exist.

At each instance that a form of subjugation can find its footing, it is first done through identification. Crypto blinds that form of power, while at the same time constituting an alternative through the Cyphernet. This is the Revolution Foucault spoke of which is a different type of codification of the same relations of power which the state has monopolized under the guise of law through violence. Statism is the codification of law through authority which finds its power in violence. The Cyphernet is the codification of law is based upon mutual agreement about Truth verified through crypto, rather authority based upon law.

This was my point in The New Social Contract of Crypto.

Crypto inverts Hobbes dictum of sovereign power (“Auctoritas, non veritas facit legem” (Authority, not truth makes legitimacy) in De Cive)


“Veritas, non auctoritas facit legem.” (Truth, not authority makes legitimacy)

Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its régime of truth, its ‘general polities’ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true.

By using crypto as sophisticated memetic tool to act as strategic bulkwards against all statist imperialist apparatuses and all of their obtuse truths from which they create power; the Cyphernet is the citadel of freedom from which new forms of Truth can be produced and circulated. It is through this production that we are building the future means from which our form of politics will be born.

One day humanity will play with law just as children play with disused objects, not in order to restore them to their canonical use but to free them from it for good

— Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception

The possibility to free ourselves from the insanity that we call statism and law has arrived. However, it will vanish as quickly as it came if we do not make a concerted effort to continue the political development our cause needs. This power found in crypto not only has the possibility of throw off the yoke of state imperialism and the growing shadow of technological fascism, but that of creating a totally new form of political activity that is free from the ensnarements and traps of past political systems that are long overdue for death.

The political question, to sum up, is not error, illusion, alienated consciousness or ideology; but is truth itself. Hence the importance of Nietzsche and to kill your Gods of State, and abandon your Masters of Capital.

Erik is a crypto-anarchist, iconoclast, and thinker that has been working in the bitcoin ecosystem since 2012. His primary concerns are the intersections of political, economic, and social theory as they relate to bitcoin specifically and crypto generally.