By: Laissez Faire Today

With apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of bitcoin’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Bitcoin’s doing just fine and its career as a currency is still alive.

Bitcoin blog 99Bitcoins has counted 106 deaths by mainstream news reports since bitcoin was birthed into the cryptosphere.

Rasputin would be proud.

Despite bitcoin’s weekly obliteration, it rose from the dead once again last weekend and busted through $600…

bitc

… and then, less than a day later, it burst through $700, too. Then it dropped down and “settled” at around $680. (Price discovery is still a game bitcoin enthusiasts must play and will continue to play in the years to come.)

To claim, as some mainstream outlets do, that bitcoin has lost its luster around the world (except, of course, in China) is more an admission of ignorance than a story worthy of coverage.

Although it’s still somewhat “fringey,” it hasn’t lost any steam. If anything, more people are throwing wood in the stove than ever before.

Bitcoin, as one small (but noteworthy) example, is becoming the subject of trendy art shows around the U.S.

dollar

And the business world keeps on embracing the bit.

As of this week, in fact, you can invest in bitcoin through your 401(k) or IRA. You can also, with the Coinbase SHIFT card, use bitcoin just like USD anywhere VISA cards are accepted.

bitcoin

And, fun fact, bitcoin’s market cap has officially exceeded Western Union’s.

westernu

But, like any great technological advancement, bitcoin won’t continue to rise without resistance. And not just from bankers and regulators who circle above like buzzards, trying desperately to figure out how to tear off their pound of flesh.

There are many in the conspiracy-sphere who believe bitcoin is either a creation of the CIA or is the “devil’s faucet.” Or both. In their eyes, bitcoin is the ‘Mark of the Beast’ foretold in the scriptures.

And soon, we will all have crypto-wallets in our foreheads to hold our bits, without which we will be ostracized from the market completely and left to starve.

Of course, as mentioned, every past innovation worth its salt has been met with skepticism, and bitcoin is no exception. But the idea that bitcoin is a CIA implant designed to herd the masses into a monolithic government-controlled currency is very likely to be false. (But, hey, we live in a strange world. Anything’s possible.)

Simply put, centralized control is contrary to how bitcoin — and the crypto-space in general — operates. Bitcoin is a tool for liberation, not more centralized control.

Yet, most people don’t understand this quite yet. As you’ll see, though, their fears are somewhat justified. And, in order for bitcoin to reach its true potential, the community must learn how to properly address and dispel common fears and aversions.

Otherwise, it’s just going to freak everyone out and remain on the fringe.

Which is why, today, we invite Amanda Johnson of CoinTelegraph to ask the all-important quandary:

Is Bitcoin the ‘Mark of the Beast’?

Read on…

Is Bitcoin the Mark of the Beast?

Amanda B. Johnson via CoinTelegraph

Many people are extremely wary of a one-world currency. I didn’t know until recently that this fear among Christians is due to a passage in the Bible itself. The Book of Revelation, chapter 13:16-17 says:

“And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

The topic came up during a drive through the country. Some friends and I utilized Craigslist to pay for a 1000-mile rideshare, and during the drive I had ample time to proselytize to our new driver friend about digital currency. After hearing my synopsis, he said, “So … is Bitcoin kind of like the mark of the beast?”

“What’s that?” I asked. He explained his take on the Book of Revelation passage — that his prophets of old were warned that the highest tyranny would come to the earth in a form of biometrically-enforced and perfectly traceable money.

What with Elliptic’s privacy-smashing “blockchain map” and the fact that a man has already had a Bitcoin wallet implanted in his hand, one can see that my driver friend made an excellent point: if the Bitcoin maximalists get their way, and the whole world uses Bitcoin in its current form, the “compliant” masses could seriously usher in the “mark of the beast.” Here’s how:

  1. Bitcoin would be the perfect currency to be declared the only “legal tender.”

States have failed miserably at producing and maintaining stable currencies. They just can’t resist dipping their hands into the piggy bank. Look no further than Greece for a perfect example.

But digital currency provides a way for states to save themselves from themselves. A currency with a non-manipulatable inflation rate is a brilliant way for monopolists to present a viable, long-term monopoly currency.

“Legal tender” laws have been used for 100 years to successfully corral people into using a monopoly currency. If the masses who’ve been obedient continue to be obedient, who’s to say “legal tender” wouldn’t be enforced with one digital currency as well? Just look at what’s happening in Ecuador — the state says all banks must accept a new state-run cryptocurrency… or else.

  1. Each person’s Bitcoin addresses would be tied to identity.

If Bitcoin were to be declared the new “legal tender” — which may become a more popular idea as more fiat currencies begin to fail around the world — the politically obedient would be all too easy to convince that identities must be tied to payments. The usual “terrorism-financial-stability-national-security-the-children” would be used as selling points. Coinbase would probably be the biggest cheerleader.

In an ironic twist of fate, Bitcoin would become the new fiat.

Then every person’s expenditures could be checked for “compliance” right from the blockchain. Addresses of “criminals” could be blacklisted and mandatory offerings (taxes) could be verified for all transactions. Your entire economic life could be tracked, verified, measured and controlled, all via the blockchain.

  1. Because the blockchain is transparent, it would be extremely easy to condemn those who don’t comply.

Failing to include your tax payment on every transaction, or doing any business with “economically sanctioned” individuals, would land you directly on the “Trade Sanction” list.

Anyone found by the Bitcoin blockchain to trade with you henceforth would be imprisoned or worse. You may eventually starve, not for lack of food, but for lack of people willing to sell some to you. Or as Revelations would say, “No man might buy or sell.”

The relative IP address of where transactions are made is broadcast by the blockchain, so this makes for an excellent geo-tracking scheme when everyone’s identites are tied to their Bitcoin address. Or as Revelations would say, “The number of his name.”

When Bitcoin becomes the new fiat, you can run, but you can’t hide.

Bitcoin-related projects like DarkWallet have known these risks for a while. Mixing services like BitMixer have served to mitigate the problem, too. Even the Sidechains Elements project proposes a half-measure solution that would mask exact amounts transferred on the Bitcoin blockchain, but not the sending and receiving addresses. Such solutions are a step in the right direction, but don’t really solve the inherent problem.

If “mark of the beast” fears are to be avoided in the future, it will be thanks to a market in currency — you know, the thing that Bitcoin maximalists hate. In the new film Ulterior States, Andreas Antonopoulos states that he predicts there will be tens of thousands — potentially even millions — of digital currencies created and used in the future. Bitcoin offshoots like Dash have already taken the privacy issue into their own hands, building anonymity — not just pseudonymity — right into their protocol and masternode network.

The proposals in this article may sound far-fetched, but 200 years ago, today’s monopoly currencies sounded pretty far-fetched, too. Many new things sound far-fetched before they materialize.

Only by envisioning potential futures can one actively work to prevent them.

Regards,

Amanda B. Johnson
Contributor, CoinTelegraph