Why have so many bought into the global cryptocurrency cult?

I can’t prove it, but I’m sure the people who stood in line all night to buy an expensive phone were also among the first to buy Bitcoin. As cryptocurrencies crash today, I want to provide a brief history of how cryptocurrencies became mainstream and how it reminds us of human nature.

I will not start from the beginning, but from the convenient one. In 2008, the Western financial system collapsed and gave greed a bad name. After the crisis, someone calling himself Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper showing how a financial transaction does not require the worry of trusting an intermediary such as a bank or government. Nakamoto proposed a currency called Bitcoin, which would be created from nothing by a network of computers doing the calculations to create it. Its value is not justified by anything of value other than the fact that people want it and that it is finite. It was a peer-to-peer currency that challenged central banks and governments.

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This is not the origin of cryptocurrency. Crypto is born out of government paranoia. Years before the creation of Bitcoin, the United States’ National Security Agency pondered the idea of ​​cryptocurrency in academic papers. Although these newspapers anticipated that such a currency would pose a threat to the government, they seemed to speak of it with some respect and reverence. Rather, some speculated that Nakamoto, who has not yet been identified, was from the US government.

At first, Bitcoin was only known to a few software engineers, especially egalitarian coders who talked like artists, suffered from the same things that bother artists, and were always complaining about money, corporations, and the government. But slowly, Bitcoin attracted the Beautiful Losers, to borrow a term from the title of an unread novel by the musician Leonard Cohen. These were America’s underdogs living in hope of convenient anarchy. Many of them were not technical experts or people who could fully understand what Nakamoto’s white paper was trying to say. What they saw was a revolution against the evil banks, paper trails and the end of paying protection money to the government.

People think that the idea is conveyed most powerfully by domain experts. This is not true. Domain experts are good at talking about ideas they fully understand, but it’s the people who don’t know much — dilettantes, hobbyists, fanatics — who eagerly flood the world with ideas that are new to them. They were the first evangelists of Bitcoin.

When Nakamoto began to explain his point, the conditions were favorable for his conversion. The financial crisis of 2008 left many people poor, frustrated, pessimistic, and angry at the establishment, adding to the anxiety of Beautiful Victims, who already have poor mental health. Then some heard about this mysterious man who created money out of thin air. The anonymity of its founder and its disappearance contributed greatly to the cult of Bitcoin. This gave Bitcoin a degree of crime, anarchy and sacrifice. It was all bohemian, the exact opposite of global banking. People who were inclined to believe began to believe.

The first real transaction using Bitcoin is believed to have occurred on May 22, 2010, when one Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins. This would be the case even at today’s fallen token price 1,300 million.

As the Bitcoin cult became very strong, the price of Bitcoin rose. The early adopters got very rich and because they were new to success, they couldn’t talk about it. They also talked about the many ways Bitcoin will change the world. They were not charlatans. Cons are usually very poor transmitters of ideas. This is an infectious dreamer. And they infected millions of people. Many cryptocurrencies have emerged. A fake token with the face of a dog has been created to fuel the cryptocurrency craze. This fake cryptocurrency has also become valuable.

Cryptos promised anonymity of financial transactions and reduced the power of legal tender. Cryptocurrencies thus promised a form of hyper-democracy that reduced government interference in people’s lives. It’s amazing how governments around the world have allowed cryptocurrencies to grow so much.

It is in the very evangelical DNA of American technology that it transmits the idea of ​​a moral imperative to unite the world into some version of the West. This happened with the internet, mobile phones and social media. But governments have no reason to give up power so easily, and everything that should set us free is regulated.

A government-approved cryptocurrency is not a cryptocurrency, but simply a fancy form of fiat money. We are at a stage today where governments are slowly turning cryptocurrency into something more familiar and old.

Very soon, the entire cryptocurrency system will begin to resemble the financial system it is designed to overthrow. Because the world’s way of life has a good reason to exist. The world we have is the result of what people actually do, not what they say.

Manu Joseph is a journalist, novelist and creator of the Netflix series Decoupled.

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