One consistent idle daydream on the American right is somehow living outside of government. From Ayn Rand’s “Galt’s Gulch,” where a bunch of plutocrats secede from America to gleefully watch society collapse without its job creators, to nutty Silicon Valley plans for “seasteading,” somebody is always working on a government-free society.
Over the last few years, many technology-minded thinkers and programmers have made such ideas a reality. Perhaps most notable is Bitcoin, the first fully decentralized currency and payment system. With big government interference all but impossible, surely this virtual money would be the dawn of a new age of freedom.
Nope! The Bitcoin system has all but seized up, and people are abandoning it in droves. The reason is simple: poor governance. It turns out one cannot engineer one’s way past politics.
The actual mechanics of Bitcoin are extremely complex, but its major innovation was the block chain. This is a ledger of all Bitcoin transactions, distributed across the internet to remove the need for a central authority, such as the Federal Reserve. It’s totally anonymous, and protected with cryptography such that it’s