What I Think Tank

Archive for the ‘Libertarian Thought’ Category

A Lonesome Man’s Life on Display: The Manhunt for Satoshi Nakamoto

leave a comment »

Newsweek recently released an article describing the life and background of the one they claim invented Bitcoin. It’s important to note that the proofs provided are mostly indirect and the story relies heavily on the man’s very eccentric personality and years of classified work for the government. I’m not gonna lie: This is still some impressive digging and a fascinating read. The person fits the bill. He’s portrayed as mysterious and brilliant as you could possibly imagine. The author said she aimed at writing an inspiring piece. She certainly did just that.

But in hindsight, I must agree with the strong sentiment of the large amount of feedback in the comment section: This is a pretty destructive piece on a person who clearly has his problems with publicity and has shown great intent at not wanting to have his private life and professional endeavors spread on the Internet. Knowing how public attention and the scare of being “man hunted” can drive some people to hopelessness and suicide, the author here runs the risk of being left with an EXTREME amount of guilt if that happens in this case, and she should arguably feel horrible about what she’s done, along with the forensic analysts who contributed to the public shaming of a living man who simply values his peace and solitude, while having recently suffered from both cancer and a stroke.

I would have liked to discuss the article with the author herself. Leah. Let me ask you, before I pass judgment on your deeds, is this a tale to engulf the person in a greater mystery, or an attempt to find the Bitcoin inventor named Satoshi Nakamoto? If not intended as fiction, are the names of the people at least changed and their identities kept anonymous? Or is this a real tale with real names of wives, siblings and children? It certainly doesn’t say anywhere that the names are alter egos to preserve their and his anonymity, and the article goes a long way to proclaim itself as truth. The revelations and aftermath certainly points to the details of his life being true and unedited, as confirmed by Satoshi himself in an interview with Associated Press. I am therefore to assume that Satoshi Nakamoto’s whole life is on full display in this article for the public to see. Please tell me, when doing this journalistic piece, how could you not “anonymize” names?; How could you not leave out certain crucial aspects of his job career in order to protect his privacy?; How could you post a picture of his face, let alone his home?; How could you reveal his name change?; How could you reveal his personal loves and passions against his will? Anyone involved in investigating the mind or researching the social aspects of life learns the importance of this from day 1: Respect individual rights, autonomy and privacy.

Leah. You gained his trust and then you viciously broke it, just as you told the tale for the whole world to read and devour, like a twisted mistress playing games with someone’s heart and soul, before cynically gloating about it. That’s pretty evil.

But in the end, all of that doesn’t matter as much as this simple fact: Regardless of whether he actually invented Bitcoin or not, you probably just destroyed his life. I hope, for his sake, that you didn’t also contribute to its end. I sincerely hope not. He never hurt or violated anyone. All he asked of you was to leave him be. I guess your fetishistic dreams of journalistic fame and glory was more important to you than his life and intellectual autonomy. Less important, although noteworthy and deserving of some sympathy, is that you may now unwittingly become a victim of the same. The comments here foreshadow it, and knowing the Internet, by violating his intellectual autonomy and privacy, you essentially gave up yours. For your sake, I hope you’re ready to risk having your whole life and all your darkest secrets blown up before the vengeful world of the Internet. The damage is already done.

While the story may have intended to be inspiring and fascinating, which it in some sense absolutely was, I hate to think that the results will only be sad and potentially tragic, no matter who actually invented Bitcoin. Absolutely nothing has been gained from this article. There has only been loss, and especially for poor Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto who is now plagued with reporters against his will.

I only have one ending remark: I’d love to eat sushi with Satoshi and learn about model trains, and then tell absolutely no one about our meeting.

Other articles on the topic:

Bitcoin Community Responds… – An article about the public response to the Newsweek article.

Man Denies He Created Bitcoin… – An article showing the aftermath of the Newsweek piece, which only goes to show that my worries are substantiated and worth taking into consideration. Even though he denies creating Bitcoin, which is just as likely to be the case, this article may still have destroyed his life as he preferred it, as he now is a victim of a manhunt.

…Doubts Satoshi Nakamoto’s Identity – A funny and counter-investigative piece, undermining the Newsweek article’s credibility. I echo its conclusion: “While it is seductive to imagine that the secretive genius is a humble old man playing with trains, the consequences of Goodman being wrong outweigh any potential insight gained by the revelation if it is true. While it wouldn’t be the first life the media has ruined with accusations, the standard response of “they deserve it for seeking such fame” will not apply to this case.”

AP Exclusive Interview… – Article of the AP interview with Satoshi, where he denies creating Bitcoin and points out the inaccuracies of Newsweek article.

Written by Morten Rolland

March 7, 2014 at 6:01 am

The Dangers of Exclusion and the Evils of Collectivism: Why Individualism Is the Remedy Against Terrorism

with 3 comments

On July 22nd, 2011, Norway was struck by an act of terrorism and witnessed an unfathomable slaughter of innocent children and young adults on an island in East Norway. We have all read the news and we have all heard the tales of the evil that was brought upon innocent people that day.

Most people in Norway are still mourning the loss of their dear ones, and the wounded are still fighting to make it through. All our thoughts are with them in these tough times, and the sorrow they endure is something we hope no one will have to endure ever again. That is why we need to learn from what has happened and become stronger because of it. We need to fathom the unfathomable. As we are able to get some sort of distance to it all, and been able to reflect over the tragedy, we do see a glimpse of what the truth is in all of this. A manifesto (basically a cut-and-paste collection of many intellectual and meaningful works and pieces of literature – some of them even very good, others very bad) has been released. The manifesto is a collection of many incoherent ideas and opposing schools of thought, put together in a collectivist and conspiratorial way by one man and his world view.

In this scrap book of thoughts and influences, among the many over-lining topics that he focuses on, there are some parts that show the biggest inconsistencies, and that I feel needs to be brought up. He sees himself as an anti-collectivist, and he also do make some references to very good libertarian, classical liberal and objectivist literature (although it should be noted that he also references a lot of neo-conservative and even some communist and socialist literature, but that’s not the topic now). Does this mean he was a terrorist actually working in the name of individualism, or is he mixing up his terminology, just as he’s mixing up his influences in his creation of his own world view?

I think it’s a distinct quality of collectivism and a collectivist world view that enables a man to fully identify himself with some greater force, and to then feel justified to wage a war between the one force and another. In Anders Behring Breivik’s case, he thinks of himself as part of a pan-European mono-ethnic force that is under attack by Islamic colonists and their Marxist collaborators. He theorizes about a possible civil war between these two forces, and he thinks of himself as a pioneer in this war, and is certain he will be remembered as a hero in the future. Knowing this, you’d have a hard time arguing for him being a true individualist. He is 100% a collectivist by any measure of the word. It makes a lot more sense to me that when he speaks of anti-collectivism, he puts that in context of anti-globalism and anti-multiculturalism – he does not want his own collective sharing anything with other “enemy” collectives under a broader regulatory welfare collective. As such, he does not seem to understand the true meaning of the word, and he most certainly is not an individualist.

An individualist could turn to self-defense and could in such a situation take the life of someone, sure, but an individualist would be completely unable to launch an attack against an imagined class or group of people, in the name of his own imagined class or group of people, because that’s not the way individualists see the world. You can probably find killers in any society (and some more so than in others), and I’m certain there can still be deadly crime in an individualist world. We’re all still human. But only collectivists can be mass-murderers and terrorists, because a collectivist world view is a very distinct quality of a mass-murderer and a terrorist.

Now we can make an attempt on a remedy (which I wasn’t able to see in the middle of this tragedy, but after reading an article by Norwegian blogger Onar “Onarki” Åm it all became very clear and obvious to me, and I was able to structure my own thoughts in this article because of it): Having an open society that is able to include all sorts of opposing, alternative and even extreme opinions. That does NOT mean agreeing with them all, but simply to let them be heard in the public sphere, bring them into the conversation and always meet them with rational and logical arguments. I know us libertarians and classical liberals have a really hard time being heard in the modern socialist power house that is the world today, and some of us have felt how it is to be squeezed out, vilified and stigmatized. This was the content for my Bachelor Thesis in Sociology, Spring 2011 (I focused on people identifying themselves as classical liberals and objectivists), and stigmatization of political minorities is very much a reality, especially in Social Democratic Norway. People who are not among the general majority of political opinions will always experience a stigma that is to some unbearable. If you push them far enough and hate them enough, there will come a time where they will “snap”. This have happened with Islamist terrorists, and this have now happened with a guy in Norway, who have long tried to speak about his distaste for Muslim immigration to Norway and Europe, but has never been heard – not even been talked to. A crusader-fixation was his desperate and twisted way of being heard. It’s like a stigmatized nation getting hold of Nuclear Weapons in order to be taken seriously.

Now, as I mentioned, there is a very good reason why true individualists (like libertarians, classical liberals and objectivists) cannot become terrorists in such a situation of stigmatization that we find ourselves in. Our own opinions and world view inhibit us from thinking in such directions. Individualism makes us morally unable to, and it’s also completely against our own self-interests. We will always continue the long and hard road ahead of us by trying to spread the word of liberty and freedom in peaceful terms, and hope to turn a few over to our side as we go along. We are wired that way, and we would not be individualists if we weren’t wired that way. A collectivist, however (and perhaps also altruistic as such), can see it as both justified and in his own self-interests to take a bunch of lives (and maybe also his own) for his own warped imagery of the greater good. To him, one life does not matter. To him, the unalienable rights of fellow men and women does not exist. All he see is the greater good and people as pawns in a game much greater than themselves. All individualists must reject any such notion, and as such becomes the greatest opposite to acts of terrorism.

It’s certainly a pity that Breivik brings a bad name to good literature on his way into the history books, and it’s just another way for the majority to put a stigma on more minorities through guilt by association, and let me just make it clear that it’s a completely natural answer to such atrocities, but it’s also the wrong answer. More openness, inclusion and debate is the real answer! If we were to believe our Prime Minister here in Norway, this is actually what we’re gonna work for, but if we were to believe all newspapers and many individuals in Norway, we will see a stigma put on the backs of many innocent people in the years to come. I can see that the work for libertarians and classical liberals in Norway will become much harder, as we’re far outside the political majority, but hopefully we will be able to show that we are right in the end. I know I will fight even harder for individualism, liberty and freedom, because I know it’s the real remedy against such atrocities that we have endured, and I do not ever want to see them happen again to anyone.

The Synergy of Libertarianism and Sociology

with 5 comments

Modern Type & Sociology Books

On a libertarian group on Facebook, someone asked if the teachings of sociology were in opposition to the ideals of libertarianism and free will, where sociology teaches us we base our actions on the input from those around us, and that all our choices are influenced by social interactions and social contexts, and went to ask how libertarians felt about this sociological knowledge.

I felt compelled to answer, and I thought I could supply the same answer here.

Whether or not social interaction and society around us influences us and ultimately limits or shifts our values and effectively guides our choices is pretty much a given. People are social animals.

However, that does not contradict the libertarian ethos of individual rights and personal freedom, and a belief in free will. I hold the non-aggression-principle high, because it’s moral and just. I hold private property rights high, because it’s moral and just. I hold the respect for my fellow Men high, because it’s moral and just. I expect people to respect me, my choices, my personal freedoms and property, because it’s moral and just.

My values and choices beyond this can easily be affected by others, because that’s part of what I am. But that does not belittle my own free will. If anything it underlines its strength. If we defined by our humanity would not have complete authority of our selves as individuals, then we would not have the option of breaking free of evil influences if that was all that surrounded us. We must have the opportunity to choose our influences and social contexts, or else we most certainly would perish. Because of this, the fact that we are influenced by those around us and those who brought us up proves to me the strength of our own free will.

What of the poor souls who were surrounded by nothing but lies, but still could see the deceptions that had been fed to them? They are numerous throughout history, and we have much to thank them for. They gave us the Age of Enlightenment, they gave us liberty and capitalism, and once and for all proved that we can choose a free life. Somewhere along the way we may have lost it, but the words of liberty spread across the world like never before and will never be forgotten. If people had no individual preferences or ability to choose for themselves, then such ideas could not spread.

So to sum it up: We are influenced by others, because we’re social animals – and that’s the study of sociology, but we have reason and free will which enable us to choose among those influences, because we’re human – and that’s the study of philosophy.

I know all too well that the field of sociology is made up by collectivist thinkers; marxists, socialists, social democrat-leaning liberals and statists. There is a religious belief in the good of authoritarian rule – as long as it is the rule for good. The way I see it, all the social injustice and problems of society that sociologists do well in identifying and try to fight against are attributed to state authority and a lack of respect for freedom and private property. They wish to use the same authority to do good, and blatantly ignore the fact that you cannot do good with evil. A belief in the system of government authority over economic and social questions will doom us into never finding the right answer, and that is the bane of sociologists today.

There does exist a call for a field of sociology that develops a different understanding of the State, that can be based in the libertarian and objectivist philosophies. The problems of society are the symptoms of the disease of government, and the best sociologists are the ones who make the proper diagnosis.

Written by Morten Rolland

April 14, 2011 at 11:55 am