Greece: A preview of things to come?
What would you do if the US government suddenly announced a bank holiday, limits or bans on ATM withdrawals or other types of cash and capital controls? Or implemented a “bail-in” where part of your bank deposits were used to further pyramid debt and save an oligarchical financial system?
Is there any doubt that a huge majority of Americans, especially those who aren’t rich and powerful, would be completely unprepared and forced to bite the bullet?
Things are undoubtedly scary in this police state we call America, but these types of totalitarian controls could never happen here. Americans, unfortunately unlike many around the world, have at least some dedication to liberty and aversion to outright, naked statism. Right?
Perhaps. But forgive me if my optimism is a bit tempered with some facts on the ground off the norther coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the past week, Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that all banks and the stock market would be closed as the Greek Financial Stability Council (you gotta love these Orwellian names) recommended that these closures should last a week before a bail-out referendum is finalized. The Greek government then imposed 60 Euro limits on ATM withdrawals and capital controls in an economy with 25% unemployment. Greeks have also been restricted or banned from using their credit or debit cards on online payment networks.
And all of this was done by simple edict.
It should be no surprise, however, that the government’s response to a debt and financial crisis would be so swift and sudden. Political systems are built on coercion and control; crises and panics can only be met with a tighter grip of the iron fist. Any significant reduction of this spider-web-of-statism would be to admit fault and instead concede that society flourishes not based on the type of coercive controls that are imposed, but due to a lack of them.
It would be futile and pointless to be frustrated at governments when they act like, well, governments. It is in their nature to escalate. But it is dangerous and reckless to be unprepared and surprised when the hammers start looking for nails.
Which is why anyone interested in their financial freedom, privacy and control should, if they haven’t already, download a Bitcoin wallet on their smart phone and begin holding some cryptocurrency immediately (for “hot” wallets, I personally like Mycelium and Airbitz. For “cold storage,” nothing beats the Trezor, though even a simple paper wallet is better than a savings account in a bank).
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer, decentralized currency, regulated by an unhackable public ledger, that isn’t issued by any government, bank or corporation. It’s real democracy. It’s the ordered anarchy of the free market in action. But it is more than just a political anarchist-middle-finger-to-the-Federal-Reserve situation now. It’s a matter of practicality and necessity too.
We live under a financial system that relies on us trusting large, top-heavy and bureaucratic institutions to exchange goods and make payments. We give up everything short of our DNA (SSN, location, ID, etc.) to third-parties and cross our fingers that this institutional framework is anything but unsustainable and dangerous to both liberty and privacy.
Because of the nature of this system, third-parties must “pull” information from us in order to process transactions. This brings incredible convenience, but it also allows those centralized institutions to regulate us, control and monitor the types of spending we do, and if they so please, freeze all economic activity.
After all, what are you going to do if ATMs aren’t spitting out paper money and VISA won’t process any payments?
Then there’s Bitcoin. If you’re not a radical libertarian anarchist like myself, then forget about the politics of cryptocurrencies for a second. Focus instead on Bitcoin’s “push” method of exchanging value and information, something which never before has been available to anyone with a smart phone or Internet connection.
Rather than trusting a faceless corporation or coercive government, the trust is built into the network through cryptography and a public ledger. You, and only you, can send money (to anyone in the world for virtually no fee, by the way) and there is no way that transactions can be halted or frozen. You are your own bank. Freedom, responsibility and sound money in the palm of your hand that can not be manipulated or controlled by governments no matter how many laws they pass or guns they have.
Now that’s power. Decentralized and distributed, of course.
How much better off would Greeks be if they had been using even a small amount of their spending and saving in Bitcoin, building voluntary networks that functioned independent of coercive authority?
What ruling classes and political elites have always feared is the ability of the common man to undercut their power, privileges and violence. Political power, as Mao and Lenin understood, flows out of the barrel of a gun and on down the pyramid. But for the first time in history, we now have access to a network that can cut Goliath’s shins with a millions paper cuts as he swings and misses at thousands and thousands of Davids.
With Bitcoin, we can not only have financial freedom and sovereignty but we can disrupt the war machine, avoid the tyranny of civil forfeiture, and fundamentally transform how we view authority, society, law and contracts. We can underthrow Leviathan – and its bailouts and bombs – one Bitcoin wallet a time.
If you ask me, what’s happening in Greece is a sign of things to come. Virtually every government are hostages to an unsustainable debt-ridden financial structure. And you – your freedom, your property, your money, your labor – are the collateral. If it’s not bailouts and capital controls, it will be the slow theft of inflation or further debt monetization. As tax slaves, we have no choice.
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