Problems in Layer 0—Social Attacks on Bitcoin

Problems in Layer 0—Social Attacks on Bitcoin
The worst case scenario: Bitcoin available to everyone yet nobody wants to use it.

Layer 0 is people

As a cryptographic system, Bitcoin is strong. Socially, it's an easy target. We're all familiar with the standard attacks against Bitcoin: bad for the environment, risky, volatile, criminal, ponzi, doesn't scale, centralized, and so on. Unlike the numerous crypto frauds riding off Bitcoin's innovation and success, Bitcoin has no PR team to defend itself against such allegations.

There's a relatively common sentiment within the Bitcoin community: “Bitcoin doesn't need you; it will keep functioning regardless of how you feel about it."

This mentality disregards one of the easiest and most powerful ways financial adversaries can diminish Bitcoin's potential to fulfill the cypherpunk dream of a free financial future: by undermining and subverting the perception of its would-be users. Adversaries simply convince the people that Bitcoin is worthless, and then adoption is curtailed!

Attacks against Bitcoin are but one facet of a calculated narrative that seeks to misinform and misdirect the masses towards their own self-destruction by way of rejecting Bitcoin and accepting CBDCs. Either consciously or unconsciously, the proponents of a narrative that direct the public away from Bitcoin are acting as catalysts for CBDC adoption. The will of the elite banking class channels and manifests itself through these critics. They're working for the bankers regardless of whether they know it or not. These calculated attacks fall under the umbrella of psychological warfare, or psychological operations.

PSYOP: Psychological Operations

Psychological Operations: Any form of communication in support of objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.
—Department of Defense, US Army Field Manual 33-l

Psychological operations, psychological warfare, public relations, and propaganda all refer to the same thing—influencing the perception of the target audience to benefit the sponsor.

Bitcoin PSYOPs come in many forms: climate FUD from organizations like Greenpeace, FUD from influencers bought by elite-interests and crypto capital, and any amount of crypto FUD that seek to take market share away from Bitcoin and into regulatory-friendly privately controlled ledgers. These talking points originate from elites and their interests, they’re disseminated through corporate media, influencers, and other paid spokespeople, and the people that consume their media unknowingly regurgitate those talking points without understanding their origin or purpose. For us to gain a better understanding of how these psyops could impact Bitcoin adoption towards the future, it would be wise to investigate their impact in the past up till today.

PSYOPs from Antiquity to Modernity

PSYOPs have been used as tools for social, political, and military change for thousands of years. Sun Tzu famously stated that “All warfare is based on deception.” They’ve been used in direct military encounters by the likes of Gengis Khan and Alexander the Great.

PSYOP campaigns have found their way into more than just the battlefield. They've been used to justify war to a population that despises violence. Wartime propaganda is immensely useful in that regard; Edward Bernays, a pioneer of wartime propaganda in the United States and "the father of public relations," has some choice words on the issue. He worked for the Committee on Public Information (CPI)—the United States propaganda arm in WWI which helped rally the nation towards war:

There was one basic lesson I learned in the CPI—that efforts comparable to those applied by the CPI to affect the attitudes of the enemy, of neutrals, and people of this country could be applied with equal facility to peacetime pursuits. In other words, what could be done for a nation at war could be done for organizations and people in a nation at peace.

Edward Bernays helped to convince the public, among other things, that bacon and eggs was the true all-American breakfast. He helped advertise Lucky Strike cigarettes which involved endorsements from opera singers touting that Luckies were, "kind to your voice." He was hired by the United Fruit Company to promote bananas in the United States, and put a positive spin on US controlled banana republics. He gave birth to public relations, which has grown into a $200 billion industry today. Everything from cigarettes, milk, fruit, WWI and WWII, the Iraq War, and the war in Ukraine have been a result of that synergistic collaboration between the state, multinational corporations, corporate media, and PR firms that Bernays helped pioneer. Engineering consent is indeed a very powerful tool for calculated and directed change.

We Bitcoiners would be wise to take note of how we can recognise the power of such psychological attacks, and defend against them. Psychological attacks on Bitcoin are a real threat to a free financial future—they actively inch the world closer to the nightmare the cypherpunks foresaw. This is a world that the banking elite have been working towards for over 100 years—let's take a detour and investigate the CBDC dream from the bankers’ perspective.

The Century Old CBDC Dream

Carroll Quigley, an American historian and writer, was best known for his work as a professor at Georgetown University and as a consultant to the U.S. government. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1910 and died in 1977. Quigley was prolific in his writing, and his most well-known work is a book called, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, which was published in 1966.

Tragedy and Hope covers the history of the world from the late 19th to the mid-20th century and offers a detailed analysis of the major political, economic, and social developments of that period. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying dynamics of historical events and critiques reductionist approaches that focus solely on individual leaders or specific ideologies. It also discusses the role of international organizations in shaping world events and argues that these groups have played a significant, though often hidden, role in shaping the course of history. This book has been widely influential and is considered an important work of historical analysis.

Having gained access to classified archival files within elite organizations such as the Council of Foreign Relations, with the explicit purpose to write a history documenting such organizations and their impact, Quigely was able to understand their true motive:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world. (Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope)

Sounds familiar doesn't it? The dream of a centralized global financial system under the control of a financial elite has been in the works for a while. CBDCs are the pinnacle of that quest, the capstone to the pyramidal system of social control, which the banking elite have been working towards for over a century. Bitcoin is the antithesis. It's not the end of that system in totality—Bitcoin alone will not break it. The elite of financial capitalism will still be able to use Bitcoin to project their power just like anyone else (Blackrock has already partnered with Coinbase to offer Bitcoin to Aladdin clients). However, they won't have total control over monetary policy or have total control over all the accounts like they would with a CBDC. That's the key difference: they'd be fellow players in the Bitcoin system, not the controllers of a CBDC society.

Bitcoin Psywar and CBDCs

Social attacks against Bitcoin are not simply the result of ignorance—they're the result of a calculated psyop campaign to curtail Bitcoin adoption. Calculated and well-executed psyop campaigns have real and direct consequences, and can oftentimes be far more effective than a direct attack (such as a physical violent attack or a cyberattack). An independent decentralized monetary system like Bitcoin is a threat to the United States petrodollar hegemony, and elites recognize this. Any misdirected individual spouting Bitcoin FUD internalized those ideas from somewhere, most likely from a mainstream psyop whose purpose was to curtail Bitcoin adoption.

The banking elite are very aware of what it could mean for an non manipulable digital currency to become successful. That's why they shut down every successful independent digital currency project in the west:

  • E-Gold — Shut down in 2008 after settling to a plea agreement with the feds
  • Liberty Dollar — Raided in 2007, indicted in 2009, founders convicted in 2011
  • The Gold Age — Raided in 2001
  • E-bullion — Shut down in 2008

If you succeeded in your digital currency project before Bitcoin, you got raided by the FBI and sent to jail. Since Bitcoin is decentralized, the FBI couldn't shut it down. What else is there to do? Fund Bitcoin FUD, convince the population that it's worthless or a scam, and invest an egregious amount of capital into blockchain/crypto—Bitcoin "alternatives" that are fully under the control of the authorities, and can potentially act as the trojan horse to usher in the CBDC. (Even without the CBDC, crypto coins and their ledgers are centrally controlled by the same elite interests that are ushering in the CBDC—they’re effectively one and the same. If they’re not already directly captured by regulatory interests and they grow enough to become significant, they’ll easily be captured.)

For a world to be free under a Bitcoin standard, Bitcoin must be widely accepted. For the sake of our own interests in enabling a free financial future, we need to be the forces catalyzing Bitcoin adoption through social change. This starts on Layer 0.

How can we, as Bitcoiners, mitigate the effectiveness of such attacks in our own communities? How can we mobilize our efforts for social change and repolarize widespread Bitcoin perception from negative to positive, from falsehood to truth?

I have a few ideas on how we can solve this as a community, and I'll be sharing those next week. Until then, I'd love to hear some thoughts and get a discussion going. As Bitcoiners on the forefront, we need to bring awareness to pressing issues surrounding Bitcoin, and make sure freedom has the best chances of winning moving forward.

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Jamie Larson