At the post, The Anarcho-Capitalist Case for Supporting the Government Smashing of Bitcoin and Other E-Currencies, the always welcome commenter,The NAPster, writes:
Robert, what you seem to be saying is that anytime there is a new product that can have a dual use, one to take on the state and one to be used by the state, we should hope for its destruction. Shouldn't we celebrate attempts to get around the state and make its life harder (see my related comment at your Australia story post)? I also think you're short-changing those in power; if they're sufficiently aware of the power of Bitcoin to want to stamp it out, why wouldn't they also be sufficiently aware of the power of using it (just as they were sufficiently aware of the possibilities with the Internet to develop electronic surveillance)?
Using your logic, we should have cheered for the state to stamp out firearm ownership when firearms were first being accumulated by private citizens, before those at the state came to realize that they themselves could use firearms to enforce their edicts. I for one am glad that there are 200-300 million privately held firearms in the US.It appears there is a misunderstanding here about
the nature of realpolitik. As Wikipedia puts it (my highlight):
[It] is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions..In other words, it is not about setting down absolute rules that apply for every case but rather a consideration with regard to a given situation, to determine what various policy advocacies would mean under the given specific situation.
For libertarians realpolitik is not about absolute principle but rather about analyzing a current situation and determining whether the advocacy of a particular policy gets us closer to or father away from liberty.
So it is illegitimate to take from a specific realpolitik strategy and make the broad-based absolute principle: "anytime there is a new product that can have a dual use, one to take on the state and one to be used by the state, we should hope for its destruction."
In the case of Bitcoin and other e-currencies, I see the potential for government to capture the space and make it pure evil with no good coming from it. It has nothing to do with all "dual use" products. It is a specific realpolitik case where the taking down of Bitcoin and e-currencies by government now may prevent a more horrific use of e-currencies in the future by government.
That said, The NAPster closing argument sets up a discussion that is more interesting than he seems to recognize.
If guns could have been stamped out globally early on, an admittedly impossible task but it is The NAPster's theoretical, why wouldn't we be in favor of such a stamping out? The government is much more well armed than individuals. The only reason the Second Amendment was introduced in the Constitution is so we would have a fighting chance against government but if guns were stamped out that threat by government is gone.
To be sure, hunters wouldn't be happy, but from a realpolitik perspective that might be a trade many would be willing to take to prevent the government from having guns.
This gun theoretical ended, I do not expect the governments of the world to disarm anytime soon and I think it is wise that the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution.