Suffering from paranoia doesn’t make you inherently wrong about threats; it simply immobilizes your good actions.
Basic distrust is just good sense. The best and most effective systems are those which limit trust by default. The myth of complete openness and full intimacy on the human plane is a dangerous cancer. It infects all sorts of things, and results in massive breakage and human misery. Even in religion it’s a huge mistake. Being open is not something we can require by holy demands. Thinking we can and should force openness is a fundamental heresy which afflicts Western Civilization, a major element in why Western Christianity is such a complete failure. The failure shows up in a lot of other places, too. Systems which seek to grab whole sectors of humanity and force them to open up, force them to participate involuntarily in a single system, are an abomination to God.
A Christian Mystic doesn’t trust himself, nor any other human, in the sense he lets his heart rest on what is said, promised, intended or even done. Only what you find in Spirit Realm itself is real, and everything else is junk, lies, and bondage. It requires specialized perception to operate in, and cooperate with, the Spirit Realm.
Perhaps you understand this to some degree if you also understand how the Internet works. The parallels are very amusing, with the virtual world taking on a significant match with the Spirit Realm. Both are intangible, accessible only with certain equipment, and require a minimal level of esoteric knowledge to make much use of them. Churches have tried to develop a system requiring you use their connections, just as ISPs monopolize your uplink to the Net, but there are ways around such things. The one difference is the Spirit Realm comes to you and gives you a permanent computer and your own connection, and no one on this level can take any part of it away from you.
So it is with a lot of other things on this earth where persons communicate. Economics itself is a form of communion between persons who exchange things which require a certain parity of value. But the value is entirely a matter of internal reckoning between the persons involved. I can decide to sell you my laptop for something far less than market value if, in that situation, the value of what you give me is greater in my mind than that of the laptop. The larger market value of things is merely a point of reference, one that fluctuates and depends entirely on the general agreement of those who participate.
Not so long ago, I traded something for this laptop I use. I used the Internet to search the common price of both items: How cheaply could I get either item from vendors willing to show a price online? The prices were close enough, and I surely wanted the laptop more than the other item. The other fellow wanted the item more than the laptop. No money changed hands; it was a direct barter. Not very efficient in the wider community over the long run, but it worked that day. It still works for me, as I am using that laptop several months later.
Lots of folks who do understand economics don’t understand the Internet. Corporations and governments, who do have a certain type of economic wisdom, do understand the money they can obtain and the efficiency of labor by taking advantage of certain features of the Internet, but they don’t really understand the thing itself. To really get a handle on it requires a certain geek/hacker frame of mind. It requires understanding on some level how computers and software get things done. Then it requires knowing how they communicate with each other, and immediately we encounter a host of protocols which serve to accept or deny such communication, and it quickly gets complicated. Some folks do have a fair amount of understanding across both economics and the Internet. They try to explain one to the those who know the other. Lots of serious business and economics students don’t get the Internet. They stumble over such concepts as bitcoin.
You should see the comments to the article linked there. Some not only don’t get it, but are rather militant in their rejection. Their loss. Making a profit in the collapsing global market is not impossible, but it does require a nimble mind, a willingness and ability to grasp things quickly so as to take advantage of a fluid situation. They have a certain faith in the human connections for economics, but don’t grasp the human connections of software and the Net. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunities of bitcoin, they’ll miss out on a growing market sector. No one should compel them to use it; that would be missing the point entirely, not to mention being immoral. It would be immoral in the cosmic sense as well as the Internet sense. The Internet is entirely voluntary (see World of Ends). They don’t get the Net; those cranky comments reflect a distrust of the unknown.
While I have little reason to trade in bitcoin, I have no trouble with the concept. It’s a matter of trust on the same level as economic trust which makes “money” as a concept work. Two people exchange things of value. If neither of them have goods matching exactly the needs of the other, we have to come up with something we both can accept as a mediation, something which transmits a value stored in a bearable form. Precious metals have worked well for that — gold, silver, etc. It’s funny how these guys are so sharp about currencies and floating values, and they understand all too well the idiocy of fiat currency under control of capricious governments, but they don’t trust a small amount of value exchanged via a means which is actually more trustworthy. Of course, it can only be exchanged electronically, but how is that different from using any banking account? The vast majority of all US currency is merely ones and zeros on some banker’s computers. How is that any less secure than a physical object someone else can take by force?
Bitcoin will live and die by the same means as any fiat currency. Any day now the US dollar will become just about worthless among nations of men. It will be painful for a lot of folks. It already is, because the dollar is sliding in value even as I type this. But to make things worse, lots of folks are getting access to a lot fewer of those dollars in the first place. There is a hideous inequity in the economic system which empowers a certain narrow group taking too great a share of dollars while offering nothing in return. It’s not about communism versus capitalism, but the cosmic morality of rigging the system to oppress those who are less powerful. It is these folks who tell the lie about all boats rising after they run around punching holes in everyone else’s boats. It’s not enough they get rich, but it has to be at the expense of others. That’s “doing God’s work” they say. So far as my experience shows, the Internet is immensely more fair and honest than any human political system.
That’s particularly true in the Open Source sector. Yes, my laptop would work better with Windows 7, but I prefer Scientific Linux. Among the hundreds of Linux distributions, it’s the one which offers the shortest path to drivers matching the hardware, while offering a stable work environment which is not subject to the whims of geek fashion. Geeks are notoriously hostile to the needs of others. As long as you understand that, and accept it as the common ground — all Open Source software is nothing more than developers making stuff to suit themselves — you are in a position to navigate your way to some level of freedom. By the time GNOME 3 is well established and aging, I’ll still be using a well supported GNOME 2. The former actively hinders my work flow, while the latter is moderately useful to me. I don’t trust the developers for GNOME, but the self-interest of those who package it on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and those who repackage them for Scientific Linux, are probably the closest to how I think and operate. I know whom I can trust and for how much, and for the rest, I have taken the time to learn my way around the system so I can build what I like. It’s not a great system, but it’s a darn sight more fair and open and trustworthy than using Windows 7, where my choices recede to near zero.
Why would I want to pirate something so expensive when it’s useless to me? Pirating includes extra risk of getting something with a rootkit, backdoors, getting caught, and still having to run all that protective software which requires constant updates. And I can never get for Windows the same level of expertise I get for Linux and BSD, because you have to pay big bucks for that sort of information for Windows. It’s all closely guarded secret stuff; Open Source is open. In exchange, I get something which doesn’t work quite as well, and never will, but at least I can trust it as much as any OS can be trusted. (Mac? Put it in my price range, let me choose the hardware, and protect me from the fanbois; then we’ll talk. It’s not bad using it like BSD.)
It’s all just an extension of my religion. At some fundamental level, I have to be free to take my own risks, and I have to be free to demand the same choices for you. Want my pitiful small amount of money? Offer what I need and want at a price I can meet. Want to run your software on my computer? Make a reasonable effort to meet my needs, and don’t tell me what I have to like. You want to fellowship spiritually with me? Come find me in the Spirit Realm.
The system which works best is the one which presumes a lack of trust. That’s the foundation of bitcoin, of Open Source software, of barter and real money economics — they all presume you and I should not trust each other because we cannot. They presume we should not pretend and build a fake trust. It’s also the foundation of my religion — a system of human behavior which aims to satisfy higher demands. Each of the individual participants gets to decide how wide the door should be opened, if at all. It’s 100% voluntary, and remains so throughout the exchange.
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