Bitcoin has come a long way from its Silk Road roots, and it seems that participants in the industry are now interested in mainstream adoption rather than crypto-anarchy. Some people in the space have gone as far as to say bitcoin was not created for political reasons, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. At this point, it seems clear that Satoshi is an anarchist, and he, she, or they created bitcoin for mostly political reasons.
Hints of anarchism in public comments
In the past, the debate over Satoshi’s political beliefs has been rather split. While there have been hints of the mysterious bitcoin creator’s libertarian-esque beliefs in his public messages, Satoshi usually tried to remain apolitical in emails and forum posts.
Many individuals point to the news headline placed in Bitcoin’s transactional database by Satoshi as evidence of his disapproval of the current central banking system. The headline read, “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” However, opponents of the anarchist view claim that this does not prove anything in regards to Satoshi’s beliefs.
Satoshi also wrote about overcoming political issues with bitcoin on the Cryptography Mailing List:
“Yes, [we will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography,] but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years. Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled network like Napster, but pure P2P networks like Gnutella and Tor seem to be holding their own.”
Satoshi’s bitcoin white paper also cites Wei Dai’s B-money, which starts off by stating, “I am fascinated by Tim May’s crypto-anarchy.”
More evidence in Digital Gold
More concrete evidence of Satoshi’s beliefs has been revealed in Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold. The excerpt shedding light on Satoshi’s political views was recently published in The Verge. In this particular section of the book, Satoshi’s early relationship with Martti Malmi is described, and Malmi clearly viewed bitcoin as a valuable tool for crypto-anarchists.
Malmi wrote about bitcoin on anti-state.org and stated, “I’m really excited about the thought of something practical that could truly bring us close to freedom in our lifetime :-)”
After making that post on the forum dedicated to building an anarchist society in the real world, Martti emailed Satoshi. He included a link to the forum post in the email. Satoshi responded, “Your understanding of Bitcoin is spot on.”
Does this mean bitcoin is about anarchy?
Of course, the fact that Satoshi is an anarchist does not mean that every user of the new technology is also a self-described anarchist or libertarian. In fact, many users of bitcoin today have no interest in the concept of crypto-anarchy.
Having said that, any user of bitcoin is essentially supporting anarchy as a political belief by default. As the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute’s Daniel Krawisz described in a 2014 presentation on bitcoin and crypto-anarchy:
“Someone who promotes bitcoin who is not an anarchist is a crypto-anarchist because bitcoin is inherently anarchistic.”
Although many venture capitalists like to talk about how bitcoin can lead to faster, cheaper payments for everyone, the reality is that this technology also makes it easier for agorists to build new organizations and communities outside the current system. It’s possible that the original Silk Road was simply a preview of what’s to come.