Throughout the whole of history many means of exchange have disappeared. Supposing that money as we know it today, were to also disappear? The world would not miss it for a single day, for its disappearance alone would reveal that it had been replaced by something perhaps much better. We can no longer bear the sight of it; consequently, we have begun to abolish cash, just as we once abolished slaves without completely abolishing their trades.
Denying, destroying and inventing have almost always gone hand in hand. It seems as if from the very moment we are born a portion of nonconformism is mixed with us in all things. It’s as if we come into the world with the duty to honor the old foundations, but without renouncing the right to tear them down in order to build them up again; as if the first thing that life teaches us is that it is necessary for many things to collapse in order to be able to build many others. Perhaps there is not a single creator who is not also a destroyer, or at least who does not have a highly non-conformist and sceptical spirit, a brain addicted to great progress, which above all also wants the means to obtain it. Nonconformism, for the creator, is characteristic of the upward march of the spirit’s development, which is why he always wishes to find a new form of maturity on earth and is not satisfied with having eyes to see without a mouth to say that it can also be seen in another way. In his case, it is natural for him to live thinking: I learn it because it can be taught, I seek it because it can be found, and I change it because it can be improved. He understands better than anyone else that in all ages, in all places and in all fields the bad always dominates, and that the good is generally the rare; that we owe the slowness of progress to the unconsidered respect for old customs, old laws and old human prejudices.
“The most hated are the creators: for they are the most radical destroyers,” Nietzsche, Posthumous Fragments III, 3, 1, 30.
Unfortunately, man almost always succumbs to inventions that he does not deserve, so that it is not enough for the creator to bring a novelty: he must also know how to transform men so that they understand it and accept it seriously. The people, at least in this respect, are very much like children, who resent receiving the same benefits over and over again. Moreover, if it were up to the masses, all revolutionary ideas would be banned, we would still live under thatched roofs, we would plow with oxen, with donkeys and with cows, and the invention of the water-powered machine would be reproached for being able to flood our houses.
That, of course, is why good inventions always fail at first, because of those who are not capable of turning them to their advantage, who do not even feel the impulse to study them in order to understand them, and who, if they marvel at their discovery, do not tolerate the idea of their occupying any place in their brains. It is a very vulgar habit to find the devil’s hand behind the excellence of what human beings create. Everything old tends naturally, by every means, to destroy and to efface from life everything new, the sight of which causes it a deep abhorrence, because it hates it in the same way that eunuchs hate those who enjoy. Hence the execution of every novel idea is generally so laborious, its growth so slow, and its excellence being so distant, that its parents almost always die before they see it. It is exactly the same with this as with good books, which need a long time to be understood, while those that have been written for fairs speak loudly for a day, only to fall into oblivion the next. The best thought, indeed, is that which takes the slowest and the latest to produce its effect, so much so that it seems to be an indisputable law of the universe that great things must be given late credit. Thus, if there is anything more costly to the creator than to have to begin, it is to have to begin in the knowledge that he must convince others, who are generally opposed to all thinking and all creating: two occupations that have never done mankind any harm.
Although, in any case, if there is anything that time confesses to us it would be that it is easier to slow down the universe than to stop something useful and novel once it has been set in motion: That nature is not the enemy of change, but enjoys it to such a degree that it itself is an alternation of indeterminate cycles; that those who oppose the new and extraordinary are as far behind those who invented it as those who tell the story are farther away from those who were the protagonists of it; that someday he will have to be just as posterity who could not be just as a contemporary; and that the creator, in general, is pleased to think that his creation enjoys the sympathy of a handful of intelligent people who, in an age of mental servility, have dared to have a way of thinking of their own.
“Frightened by the novelty itself, do not go to reject the explanation from your mind, but rather through penetrating judgment weigh it and, if it seems true to you, surrender, or if false, arm yourself against it”, Lucretius, De rerum natura II, 1039.
Bitcoin is essentially just that, a great invention, too hard even for the teeth of time and that, like all great inventions, is based entirely on a new thought: that of secure, fair, free and transparent access to property and money. To achieve this, he has put all his efforts where everything is too corrupt and centralized, trying to apply his arts where up to now man has found nothing but despicable things. He wants a lofty goal, and with that alone he already has more than half the means to reach it. For it is not enough for him to take steps that may one day lead him to it, but every step is for him a goal, a test that serves as a stimulus to his science, a promise that sees a sunrise where a candle is lit. Bitcoin is the work of Daedalus, as the ancient Greeks said of everything that was just, useful and beautiful. Its only paradise is wherever the serpent of knowledge is or goes, where true democracy and consensus reign, and where the participants of its idea are exercised in respecting the convictions of others rather than imposing them. He has the courage to demand the extraordinary from the world, which is usually as rare in him as the courage to do it, since he feels a greater esteem for high demands, even if they are not fulfilled, than for those that are fully fulfilled. And he knows, moreover, that when all individuals are allowed to progress, then and only then will mankind progress. How many inventions like Bitcoin, nature does not yet owe to time!
“That, my friends, is true life, / When amid the nightly darkness that still lingers, / That roses bloom the wonder is given,” Goethe, Art, Wilhelm Tischbein’s Idylls, XII.
Who would have thought a few years ago that man could make his way through space? That from what began with Prometheus, in his quest for human freedom at any cost, inventions have come to multiply to such an extent that more and more men are needed to perfect and maintain them? It is innovation, and with it decision and opportunity, that govern all the progress of mankind, so that, if the world insists on censuring any present institution or creation, we have but to persevere, otherwise our existence would be that of mere spectators of life, who sit where the sun does not burn, and believe that man’s sight is softened by going after the sun — but through the shadow. It will always, it is true, be more comfortable to believe than to examine, and more flattering to think that one knows the truth than to see nothing but darkness around one, for few men think that every invention has something new to say to every age, and that in the mere birth of an idea life tells us a host of new truths. Only the intellectually limited man believes that it is possible to make any discovery by contenting himself with those that have already been made, and that a science which does not begin by distrusting what is popularly accepted has anything to envy to what is offered by a bad show. We never go so far as when we deny, even if we do not know for sure where the hell we are going, especially if we do not give ourselves to research and knowledge to achieve a particular goal, but rather for the frequent and admirable enjoyment of seeking and finding.
“The gods love the incomprehensible and abhor the evident”, Upanishad of the great Aranyaka, Fourth Lesson, II, 2.
Just as a body cannot be set in motion without a cause, it is not possible for a new concept to burst into the world without causing a great effect. Such is the case of Bitcoin, which, being such a recent invention, makes it difficult, if not impossible, to judge it from a perspective other than that of the greatest mistrust and opposition. It is extremely rare that we are equally persuaded by habit and novelty. All innovation, all growth, all that is a guarantee of the future, generally brings with it some kind of opposition, of caution, and even of fear. Man, however civilized, was never an animal advanced enough to want to live enlightened by the virtues of a world that had not yet been invented, and if it is true that he always wished that things would change so that his situation would improve, he never did anything other than leave them exactly as they were and resign himself to seeing them get worse. It’s extremely difficult to convince him that the only way to improve what is provably obsolete is to change it completely, and that if there is anything improbable in the universe, it’s that the improbable won’t eventually prevail. History is littered with inventions considered today as brilliant and extraordinary, but rarely did their contemporaries rejoice at the conditions under which they were engendered. Of course, this is also the case now, to such an extent that we would say that we are closer to machines learning to feel than to men learning to live, because for the republic of the human race it is preferable to keep everything intact, even if it is bad, than to change it for a mathematical invention whose transparency not only constitutes its greatest charm, but proves beyond words that no action that is possible is illogical in the sense of mathematics, physics or mechanics, and that the most complicated of machines can always be built by appealing only to the common sense of human intelligence.
“Time and reason well opened my eyes, / And only the years will make me open them better,” Corneille, Nicomedes II, 3, 637.
This is a guest post by Anderson Benavides Prado. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
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