October 31st is an important day for Bitcoin, marking the day that Satoshi Nakamoto released the Whitepaper.
The day itself is an interesting study for Bitcoin. October 31st marks other historical events — one Halloween and the other when Martin Luther (as a 33 yr old monk) nailed parchment to a church door and kick-started the reformation of the Catholic Church. There is every reason to believe that the shared date is no coincidence.
In the case of the reformation, Martin Luther identified a corruption in the system of the Catholic Church. The Church had been selling indulgences — taking money to absolve for sins. As a scholar of Morality, Luther believed that this was a right of God and God alone, with the Pope taking liberties in his earthly office in representing that he was able to make these types of judgements for coinage.
What Luther had identified was a corruption in the religious organisation that relied on a set of beliefs empowered by an all-powerful, all-knowing entity — God. This entity was supposed to be the moral authority behind an entire range of ritualistic activities from births, deaths, marriages, events in the afterlife, the relief from guilt and pain through confession and repentance — an entity whose power set the moral foundations of society.
It might not have seemed like a big deal to the Pope and Church hierarchy to accept a bit of cash so believers could live without guilt but to Luther this systematic corruption threatened the authority upon which society was built. Luther was intent on restoring the symbolic value of church metaphysics to their rightful place, leaving God’s things to God.
In presenting his parchment, Martin Luther had kickstarted a set of events that led to the separation of the Church and State. His identification of a corruption of Christian metaphysics had concerned him enough to risk his life in a single-minded attempt to correct this ideological aberration.
Satoshi Nakamoto was of a similar mind.
The Global Financial Crisis was the result of a corruption of Western society, culture, politics and the financial system. A great place to start looking at these events are the lower-than-market interest rates favoured by Alan Greenspan in the 90’s, a decision empowered by the neo-liberal belief that economic growth is a self-validating event – a matter of morality. This ideology was tag-teaming with a political and cultural belief that saw banks ‘restrictive’ lending practices as oppressive to minorities — another use of morality to justify a corruption of the financial system. The result was that in a cultural and political environment that promoted weak lending practices there was an oversupply of capital. The market did what it does and funded a bubble in housing prices in the United States.
As we all know, this unstable debt built on corrupt foundations was securitised into Mortgage Backed Securities, Asset Backed Securities and Credit Default Swaps with many financial instrument dollar values represented multiple times over through derivatives that collapsed the global financial system.
Satoshi had taken notice of the corruption of the financial system, especially with respect to currency and saw a need to develop a source of monetary truth in an uncorruptible financial system. This financial system would not rely on individuals, politics, culture or society to perform its role.
So just as Martin Luther undertook endeavours to preserve God as an ideal, in the world but not of the world, asserting that the Pope was not a sole authority of God; so Satoshi Nakamoto said that monetary value should be preserved as an ideal, in the world but not of the world and that the Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank was not a sole authority of monetary value.
One of the most interesting parts of the comparison is the role that technology played in both revolutions. For Martin Luther the Gutenberg printing press made his theses one of the most reproduced pieces of writing at the time and the anti-corruption Reformation movement of Luther was responsible for 20% of all pamphlets published between 1500 and 1530. One biographer of Luther said that ‘This vast blossoming of what was essentially a new industry was entirely due to Martin Luther.’ Of course, we can say the same thing about Satoshi Nakamoto and the $250 Billion USD Digital Asset market.
Satoshi Nakamoto depended on computers, networks, the internet and cypher-punk community as technology developed that made Bitcoin successful. This representation of a very old concept — money — required many new technologies to be faithfully reproduced.
And throwing Halloween into the mix is also interesting for the way it is celebrated today. Halloween began life as a pagan celebration of the end of Summer, was retrofitted to suit Christianity and now exists as a kind of corporate frankenstein creation driven by the self-interest of children and superficial cultural abyss of suburbia.
In contrast to religious power and the global financial system, the corruption of Halloween is not an event that has driven significant self-reflection and any corrective mechanism. Nobody really knows what it means — is it morbid? Is it scary? Is roaming the neighbourhood demanding bounty from neighbours with a vague/weak threat of toilet papering their car a kind of expression of juvenile freedom?
But Halloween as a corruption of cultural activities — of the uncritical pursuit of culture where we are led by corporatism and profit driven pop culture – is intertwined with these other events. Culture is not as easily imagined and systematised as a religious or financial system. Its purpose is supposed to be provide a depth of psyche through which societal members are capable of operating in ways that lead to fulfilment.
However it is mundane and trite to say culture has become money-driven, corporate directed and superficial. So although Halloween will not have a Martin Luther moment, Western culture has already had a Satoshi moment. We are now questioning official doctrine regarding the relationship between money and state and for the diagnosis of a slow degeneration of cultural events towards superficial corporatisation; – Bitcoin fixes this.
Mine Digital, 2019 ©