This is the one question that Bitcoin detractors still need to answer before claiming it will go to zero.
Because as well as being a tradable currency and a network of value, Bitcoin is first and foremost an idea.
Every revolution throughout history has been the result of new, and often heretical ideas.
The French Revolution stemmed from the ideas of equality, liberalism and democracy, and it drastically changed the social and governing structure of Europe for good.
Gutenberg’s printing press was a great technological improvement, but it was the idea that information could be mass-produced and mass-distributed that was truly revolutionary.
Similarly, the idea of separation of church and state was quietly circulated in Europe before it was instantiated into the US Constitution and radically transformed the practice of government.
And now, the idea of the separation of money and state is being spread by Bitcoin, right at the time of unprecedented government spending of taxpayer money.
Once ideas such as these are released to the world, there is no stopping them.
The most influential ideas take on lives of their own, and the results of these ideas change the world.
It seems that – to paraphrase Carl Jung – people don’t have ideas, ideas have people.
It’s as if an idea behaves like a virus: it’s not a living being that needs to spread between individuals to stay alive. And once it inhabits somebody, it is very difficult to get rid of, and that person can very easily spread it to many others.
And the mind virus that is Bitcoin has infected enough people around the world that it has become almost impossible to stop.
So what do I mean when I talk about the idea of Bitcoin?
I’m talking about the social consensus that participants buy into when using the Bitcoin network.
Since there’s no CEO, no marketing department and no board of directors, there’s no single group who can determine the direction of the network.
‘Bitcoin’ as a concept is purely what its users make it.
It’s an idea first, and the embodiment of that idea in code second.
When Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin’s open-source code to the world in 2009, it easily could have been co-opted, changed or manipulated by anybody.
But the idea that lay behind the technology was so powerful that – rather than being somehow destroyed – Bitcoin has attracted more and more people ready to strengthen and defend it.
And this idea that underlies Bitcoin – the replacement of central banking and the restoration of hard money around the world – is one that is only becoming more popular.
If you think of Bitcoin as an asset, it has beaten all other forms of investment over its 11+ year history.
It has been the best performing asset of the last decade, which means that society is placing enormous value on hard money.
“The fact that Bitcoin beats other investments says that there are no better investments to be making for the human race right now than getting rid of central banks”– Saifedean Ammous
Now that’s a truly infectious idea.
This idea that we can disrupt central banking with a few lines of code is revolutionary.
It has infected enough minds that the Overton window has permanently shifted.
In years gone by, it was really only gold bugs who were calling for the end of the Federal Reserve and central banking.
But their solution – going back to gold – is still susceptible to the same issues that got us here in the first place.
But now, the merits of the separation of money and state, just like the separation of church and state in revolutionary America, has spread to a large segment of the population and is fast becoming more of a part of our collective conversation about how to organise society.
So as Nassim Taleb has said, the technology that makes up Bitcoin may fail.
Despite its decade of history, there may be some fatal flaw lying in the code, or it could be taken out by a nation state-level attack.
But even if the tech fails, the ideas that make up Bitcoin will never die.
Behind every revolution is a revolutionary idea, and no monarch, dictator or democratic government can do a thing to stop an idea whose time has come.
And now is the time for Bitcoin.