A record-setting year is coming to a close. Bitcoin is stronger than it was a year ago by many multiples. Dipping a toe into mainstream news again, the network has been reminded again of how much the establishment does not want to lose their grip on the finances of this world. Elon Musk’s environmental and social governance tweeting, the China miner ban, the International Monetary Fund’s threats to El Salvador, the U.S. infrastructure bill’s hidden tax, China’s cryptocurrency trading ban, and fiat inflation woes have all had their shots at the antifragile behemoth. Looking back on this year we can gain much wisdom and courage as we face 2022. We can look further back at the legacy of individuals, explicitly one per century of United States history, whose lives were defined and imperiled by their conviction to defend the natural rights of humans. Bitcoin is property rights and freedom preserved in encrypted code. This technology is the evolution of security that the likes of George Mason, Fredrick Douglass, and Malcom X would have loved to experience.
George Mason, 18th Century
My understanding of Mason before a trip to Washington, D.C. in November 2021 was little more than a namesake of an east coast university. Walking to my favorite monument in all of D.C., the Jefferson Memorial, my vision was drawn to the south at a relatively unkempt fountain. There was written the following,
“All men are born equally free and independent. And have certain inherent natural rights…among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was one of three to refuse to sign the Constitution on the grounds of no declaration of individual rights, the executive and legislative branch being too close through the vice-president, no freedom of press, and no trial by jury.
It was his writing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, where his affinity for individual rights resonates. This document proclaims all power is derived from the people who have the right to “reform, alter, or abolish” an inadequate government. No subset of people are entitled to “exclusive privileges” from the community. “Frequent, certain, and regular elections” should protect from an over-abundance of positional power. Law execution should be powerless without “the consent of the representatives of the people.” Freedom of religion, press, trial by jury, and many other details make up Mason’s 16 articles.
Notice the quote from his monument and its resemblance to the statement from the Declaration of Independence written several weeks later,
“that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Is it not odd that “the means of acquiring and possessing property” was excluded from all founding documents? The one exception is in the Bill of Rights where property cannot be seized except through “due process of law” and “just” compensation. It is almost as though the founding fathers did not feel that the individual was capable of his own sovereignty. Judging by his fervency in protecting the individual’s freedom, it is not far-fetched that Mason would indeed revel in a protocol that disarms the violent and constant encroachment of the “benevolent” rulers upon private property and person. George Mason is a Bitcoiner and should be remembered as such.
Frederick Douglass, 19th Century
The denial of the most obvious and intimate property rights of one’s self (slavery) was a failure of Mason and his generation. Bravery by individuals like Frederick Douglass took up that mantle. His life was marred with risks to his safety and life as he pushed the threshold of possibilities for a person born in slavery. As a youth, he was forbidden to learn to read and write because literacy was known by slavers as a catalyst to freedom. He was taught through various means including slavemaster children, poor local white children, and tracing letters in books in secret. As a young man, he failed an attempt to escape and was leased to a “slave breaker” farmer that abused him to no end that culminated in a physical confontation that could have ended in his execution.
Douglass was industrious even in his bondage. As a teenager, he started a school that taught slaves to read and write using the New Testament. Working at a shipyard he earned income that was split with his slave master. He began to sell his hours at the shipyard to others so he could become more involved in local Black civics.
Upon his escape to the north as a 20-year-old, rather than hide in full anonymity, he continued to work out his convictions for the abolition of the slavery practice in America. In the midst of bounty hunters and even freed black informants working to return escapees to the south, Frederick continued to network with abolitionist groups. His skills as an orator was exalted by those in his presence and was continually given opportunity to share his own experience as a slave and his belief that slavery is a violation of the natural laws of humanity and should be opposed through non-violent means. “What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July” is one of his most famous speeches and exhibits his fervent rationale for the abolishment of slavery as there is no independence for millions that look like him.
Doubters of his legitimacy as a slave because of his eloquence instead of the expected broken english of a slave were put to rest upon the release of his autobiography. His story exposed him to even greater risk for kidnap for bounty as he named real people and places along with using his real given name in his youth. More than once in his adult life he needed to leave the country or risk danger to his life. All of this risk was because of his desire to see all slaves free from bondage.
Douglass felt the Constitution was a tool to promote freedom for all rather than claim its invalidity because it was not being observed for all people in the nation. Because of his moral rationale, his boldness in the face of perilous opposition, and his love for the country, he became a very sought after person in many different positions of leadership, becoming a very little celebrated barrier breaker for Black people in American politics and leadership.
If Douglass was alive today, would he not also see millions of people enslaved by a debt system designed to make escape as hard as it was for a slave to escape the south in the 1800s? In comparison to the certain physical danger he faced in his day, he would not bat an eye at the soft-bellied fiat guardians of the modern era and denounce their tactics to oppress the masses. The nature of fiat steals time from us as we continually work harder for the same value over time. If that path doesnt change, it will only lead to virtual slavery of the working and even professional class. It is hard to imagine the greatest abolitionist of all time would not recognize the liberty found in a money that does not inflate. Fredrick Douglass is a Bitcoiner and should be remembered as such.
Malcolm X, 20th Century
Malcolm X, aka el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, never lived the life of a slave, but he was quite aware of the social and economic bondage that constrained 20th-century Black Americans. Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam during his six-year stint in prison for robbery. He had an exceptional capacity for language, memorizing an entire dictionary. Additionally his debate skills were second to none. These skills caused him to rise rapidly in the ranks of this social/religious/political group that ostensibly encouraged independence from government reliance, recognition of the inherent value of Black heritage, and maintaining an ethical standard above reproach.
Malcolm had no barometer when it came to mainstream reaction. He was the epitome of a toxic maximalist! Making the most of his platform, he would establish a narrative that would continuously remind Black Americans that the government is not looking out for their best interest.
In October 1963, Malcolm spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, declaring that racial separation is the best solution for the black problem in America. He did not ask for government handouts, or reparations. He opined that a massive exodus of blacks from America to another sovereign nation (in Africa) could enable enterprise and free market to take place instead of government-mandated integration and affirmative action that led to racial civil war that was hurting blacks much more than whites; all of which he suggested was according to the government’s plan.
In December 1963, Malcolm gave a speech at a rally in Detroit, Michigan, outlining much of his perspective of Black nationalism and civil rights. He suggested that the defense of domestic rights are equally as important as any war that Blacks were drafted into to fight. He mocked the “turn the other cheek” pacifist approach to mainstream civil rights movements of the day and compared it to “trying to crawl back on the plantation.” Malcolm believed that the government enabled such civil rights efforts like propaganda in order to suppress a potentially more effective overhaul of the social atrocities of the time.
In April 1964, Malcolm delivered the “Ballot Or The Bullet” speech which was ranked the 7th most important speech in the 20th Century in one academic study. As a more amicable Malcolm, he declared that all blacks, regardless of faith or creed, were in the same hell of economic exploitation and social degradation by the government. He called our democracy “disguised hypocrisy” and the people he was addressing were victims of the American system. He expressed the latent power that was found in the Black vote especially in the south that if used could eliminate “Dixiecrats” or racist democrats that held power for years. He warned that ignoring the ballot would be a sure sign for the necessity of bullets as the country would continue down a path of irreparable internal strife.
Reviewing and discovering what Malcom X spoke about and stood for in his life, it is fairly easy to imagine that a technology such as Bitcoin would be a marvel to him. A tool for exercising independence, opting out of the American financial trap, communicating value safely and securely to his organizations and colleagues. The fact that Malcolm considered socialism to be a viable option for Black Americans is a clear sign that the fiat cronyism in America decades ago was a significant problem and has grown even more formidable. For the sake of empowering the people he sought to protect so dearly, he would surely not rest until every single Black American was a Bitcoiner. Malcom X is a Bitcoiner and should be remembered as such.
You, 21st Century
These brave men were three that decided against the road most traveled. For Mason, it cost him scorn from his contemporaries and his good friend, George Washington. For Douglass, he would face the atrocities of a failed escape from slavery and a “slave-breaker.” Malcom X faced death threats his whole career until that threat was violently realized. They stood in the face of the multitudes, the majority, and the mainstream because they knew they were right.
As Bitcoiners, you will be faced with trials that the general population does not face. As liberty is constricted, you will feel disappointment when others are numb. As inflation robs the common man’s time, you will feel anger when others cheer for Universal Basic Income and monetary stimuli. As nations drift more toward authoritarian socialism, you will feel fear as others become willing participants. It will take energy to stand against conformity. Loved ones will turn away from you and your circle of friends will shrink. More stories will be propagated by the mainstream to distract and divide. People will look for hopeless solace in fighting over these transient topics that resemble a pop-up vendor more than a significant characteristic of society.
I urge you to continue on the path to being the archetype of societal actors going forward. The network, the protocol, and the aligned incentives of participants make this a reliable asset despite the fiat world losing its stability in all facets. It is up to Bitcoiners to inject principled participation back into society for the sake of not only those within the network, but those outside as well. If adoption curves of the internet and mobile devices are any indicator, nearly all people will become participants in this digital monetary network. Your perspective and your courage against the theft-laden establishment is the primary catalyst for Bitcoin adoption. Your evangelism will educate newcomers to show that Bitcoin is not about making a slick trade; it is about sealing your time-earned value with a steel coat. Your lifestyle will be attractive to others as Bitcoin continues to prove doubters wrong. Whether you like it or not, you are a role model for someone because of your decision to adopt Bitcoin as your unit of account. That someone needs you to share the how, why, and what about this digital life-preserver.
In closing, while people around you are obsessed with the mainstream, consumerist fluff of the holiday season, take moments to reset your perspective on Bitcoin and your active contribution to its maturation. In light of Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for those brave pre-coiners as they fought against tyranny and violence for the sake of liberty. This Christmas, we should seek to give selflessly and graciously our time to others as we help them see the system failing around them, with Bitcoin as the ready-made solution. Finally, to bring in the new year, we should resolve to remain vigilant defenders of the network and allow the characteristics of Bitcoin to impact other parts of our being; that is, truth-seeking, knowledge-growing, health-preserving, and loving patience abounding. HODL.
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This is a guest post by Ulric Pattillo. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.