Collectivism vs. Individualism with Robert Breedlove – What Bitcoin Has Done
Robert Breedlove is a philosopher in the bitcoin space. In this interview, we discuss fictions useful for collective organization, slavery as a violation of property rights, Bitcoin changing the logic of violence, and the reality of an anarcho-capitalist world.
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Cooperation between large groups is the basis of the rise and evolution of human civilization. As historian Yuval Noah Harari argues, such cooperation has been made possible by the exploitation of useful fictions (i.e. religion, national identities) by elites over time. The rights of the individual have been crushed under the weight of claims and group cohesion.
A rebalancing of powers between the collective and the individual took place during the Age of Enlightenment. It began with the development of a theory of natural rights, where individuals were determined to deserve access to “life, liberty, and inheritance (property).” The French and American revolutions of the 18th century were based on this belief.
A modern theory of universal human rights has developed since World War II. And yet, many feel that we still have a long way to go before real freedom for the individual is achieved. Even the most open democratic societies operate under an implicit social contract, where certain rights are given up in exchange for political order. Coercion and control are less explicit, but still apparent.
So what is the scope of the libertarian ideal? Is it an anarcho (i.e. leaderless) capitalist state? Or, is a hierarchy of power a necessary evil to counteract the chaos of natural law, which, according to Hobbes, would result in human life being “lonely, poor, mean, brutal, and short”? The problem is that states throughout history have tended to expand their control.
Perhaps the question is not a binary choice between an inevitable slide of state control over anarchy, but a balance that seeks to achieve the benefits of both approaches. In such a situation, individuals would need the power to “dethrone” the ruler(s) without resorting to violence. Does Bitcoin allow such a balance?