Friday, December 9, 2022

Anarchist Developer Amir Taaki Returns From Syria, Decries State of Bitcoin

Anarchist Developer Amir Taaki Returns From Syria, Decries State of Bitcoin

Renowned anarchist, hacker and early Bitcoin pioneer Amir Taaki has spoken out about the current state of Bitcoin, whilst announcing plans to start a coding academy in Barcelona with a view to overthrowing the state-run system.

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From DarkMarket to Rojava and Back

The fiercely anarchist Taaki, who created Bitcoin toolset Libbitcoin and originally developed the DarkMarket software that later became OpenBazaar, believes the era of spreading the Bitcoin word is over, and it’s time for the next step.

Amir Taaki in Syria - image via WIRED
Amir Taaki in Syria – image via WIRED

Taaki formulated his plans while fighting for the YPG Military alongside the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against ISIS, in the disputed lands surrounding Syria and Kurdistan.

While his immediate plans for Bitcoin to be “the currency of a revolutionary project, of a revolutionary nation” (in what was to be a newly founded territory called Rojava) were thwarted on a technical level by the drawn-out scaling debate, he believes his experiences in the war zone showed him that Bitcoin could be a “perfect fit” for that exact kind of implementation.

“I still support those group of guys,” he said of the Bitcoin Core developers, regarding the fight over scaling.

“I wanted to deploy bitcoin in Rojava, I thought that it’s impossible to do bitcoin in a scalable way for a population of five million people”. But he understands “their motivation behind [the delays]. And their reasoning” but “[t]hey’ve become really obsessed with process, and sometimes you have just got to take risks.”

Those risks now seem to have been minimized following the Bitcoin Cash fork and SegWit activation on Bitcoin, and Taaki is excited about the launch of the Lightning Network. “I’ve been waiting a long time for Lightning… [it is] something that is absolutely necessary.”

In order for Bitcoin to do the job he envisions, there would need to be a lot of infrastructure work done: wallets in the local dialect, exchanges, informational resources, transaction infrastructure and devices — to name just a few.

Bitcoin Is Lost, Thanks to Hodling

As an idea, this is a step beyond what most are focusing in the industry, and it is for this reason that Taaki believes Bitcoin is lost, despite the speculative boom of the past year. People, he says, keep repeating that “Bitcoin is the unstoppable honey badger—it’s not grounded in any rational analysis.” HODLing isn’t the way to defeat the system but taking away the power of the state by using technology may be.

Taaki believes the lack of direction stems from the decline of the Bitcoin Foundation, where after the “idealists” thwarted the threat posed by what he calls the “opportunist” Bitcoin Foundation, those who triumphed now haven’t “really got a clear perception of what it’s really about and there is nothing really giving that drive for struggle except people amusing themselves, creating different technologies, and they don’t really know what they are doing it for, they don’t know what problem they are trying to solve.”

Returned From Syria to Counter Craig Wright

Taaki believes in using Bitcoin as a political empowerment tool and sees that the current bull run has led to a predictable rise of opportunists, something that sparked his return from Syria.

“One of the triggers [to leave Rojava] was Craig Wright—the Craig Wright scandal. When I saw that, I thought, wow, this is the entire—Bitcoin’s foundation has just come down completely. It was just very ripe for me to come into that space and to start to talk about things. Satoshi is a genius. He might not be a young person, he might be an older person, but Craig Wright is definitely not a genius. The way he carries himself, the way he acts—not the mannerism of a genius. The guy is an opportunist, it’s blatantly obvious if you have an iota of social understanding.”

To that end, he is now focusing on launching the Polytechnics Institute in Barcelona; a regimented coding academy with a focus on creating a group of politicised, ideological hackers aiming for “complete overthrow of the state system”.

Returning to the coding space, and by extension cryptocurrency, from the battlefield, Taaki has noticed the rapid change from anarchist led Bitcoin into an industry fueled by millions in venture capital dollars, and he doesn’t see the value in the proliferation of companies, speculation and publicity surrounding cryptocurrency over the past 12 months.

“There’s a lot of capital in cryptocurrency; that capital is not matched to the utility of these technologies that are being developed. Especially utility in advancing society”. This is something his Institute aims to address by will making “cryptography an active force that influences society and politics.”

Price Speculation Could Spell the End for Bitcoin

Taaki believes this speculation could spell the end for Bitcoin, noting that in the run up to the all time high near $20,000 USD — “[where] is that price increase coming from? It’s coming from a lot of speculation that the future price is going to keep going up, but it’s not any real value underlying it, that is not going to be able to realize itself.”

This would echo the school of thought that says that speculation often arrives prior to utility or the fruition of potential. General examples would be the Japanese economy of the late 80s or tech stocks of the “dotcom bubble” era, where investors splurged money on a myriad of projects in the hope that they would fulfill their potential in the future.

Whether Bitcoin lives or dies, it will surely not dissuade Taaki from pursuing his goal of revolution using technology to affect social change. As he commented during his speech at the latest Barcelona Bitcoin meetup — “Our work is not only a technical work but a social work”.

Do you agree with any, or all, of Taaki’s points? Let us know in the comments.

Images via Wikimedia Commons, WIRED

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