Satoshi Nakamoto is Tyler Durden. Quit Talking About It.
Mar 20, 2018 Emily Lewis, Thinker, Drinker, and Finance Tinkerer
WARNING: If you haven’t seen or read Fight Club, this won’t make any sense, and you should spend your time in a more meaningful way, like maybe watching Fight Club. I’ll be here for you when you’re ready.
Investigative journalism used to expose workplace human rights abuse in such compelling ways that we got labor standards. Watergate grabbed the spotlight because of badass reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
“Who Created Bitcoin?” The available answer is well known, and it’s still an exposé. Satoshi Nakamoto created the first and most prominent cryptocurrency system.
“Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?” “Breaking News: A Guy in California Seems A Good Fit For Satoshi Nakamoto.” Professionally trained journalists make money and win acclaim for “uncovering” the inventor of online Monopoly money and founder of its online militia.
First off, let’s be clear that, in all probability, Satoshi Nakamoto exists about as concretely as Tyler Durden. Nakamoto is a legend, made up by some hyper-driven idealists to usurp a system that screwed them.
The mantle of Satoshi Nakamoto convinced people to buy into an inherently worthless system the exact same way everyone’s favorite anarchist, Tyler Durden, enlisted a guerilla to level multiple skyscrapers. And it was easy. Not convinced?
What’s the first rule of Cryptocurrency?
Don’t spend Cryptocurrency.
Even in boom-time, wealthy Bitcoin holders are wealthy solely in a number on their screen. As soon as a few of them start to trade their coin for cold, hard cash, the system will lose value. If just a smattering of wary investors follows suit (which always happens), cryptocurrency falls on its ass. Hard, irreparably. Like a stock market crash, but worse, because so little real money was put into it at the outset.
There’s a fissure between digital wealth pursuits and the fact that we are organisms made of cells, not pixels, with organic needs, just like Tyler Durden sometimes thinks maybe he shouldn’t destroy the whole system because he likes when people don’t get hurt.
So sit back, crack open a bottle of the good stuff (I did), and watch the world burn.
Satoshi Nakamoto is Tyler Durden
Start small, with the persona. Any cult leader needs just a simple recipe for success: empathy, godship, enigma. Bake at 7.6 billion degrees, BOOM.
Both figures told a group of people what they wanted to hear. Tyler Durden says his followers can be men and escape their phony lifestyle. He promises that they’ll rebuild the world in their enlightened image.
Satoshi had a straightforward job. He just told everyone he made a way to get rich with minimal effort. Empathy.
To keep their keen groups in the game, they needed to create a magnetic deity feeling to hold their following of self-interested individuals ever more under their sway. Tyler Durden fed everyone’s manliness by demanding asceticism and puffed chests, and Satoshi Nakomoto started a damn forum to embolden his system’s users. We have gods.
With their players securely on the board, the two then ensured that the game got played. The mystery fuels that. Tyler Durden ran his group on a no-questions-allowed, need-to-know basis so that no puzzle was complete, and therefore nobody would lose focus. Again, Satoshi Nakamoto didn’t feel the need for nuance to create his cryptic nature - he just didn’t identify himself to the world. Add in the fact that neither of these “men” actually exists as such in their world, and the enigma swirls.
Really, the only difference is that Tyler has a headquarters.
We all know about Tyler Durden’s domestic terrorism cell. So here’s a question: besides the tools of destruction, what’s the difference between Mayhem thugs and the crypto “revolutionaries”?
In Fight Club, we see physical explosives lined up to destroy debt (credit card companies). In the real world, cryptocurrency slowly attempts to dismantle financial institutions, including money itself. Those are digital explosives, dear reader.
Followers assume some of the traits of their founding imagination figments. And this is cool because it’s where we get exigent overlap.
You start off with wildly eccentric leaders and mystery-fueled ventures, which grant their underlings notions of exclusivity. Tyler Durden forbids talking about his club and Project Mayhem. Satoshi Nakamoto mandated anonymity for miners and the peers in a blockchain. It’s beautiful really. He’s so blunt when he says “don’t ask questions about cryptocurrency.”
To maintain these groups’ drive, each member has to have a robust and well-fed idealism about the way they can change the world because the world is working against them.
And here we have the undoing.
If the members of Fight Club had talked about Fight Club, it would no longer be necessary. Normalizing their evening bouts of manliness would validate that there was a trait missing from society. If that happened, the rebels and misfits would be out of a job and a hobby.
Cryptocurrency offers that same allure of sticking it to the man and a long-term promise of changing money as we know it. It promises that it’s trustworthy based on the fact that nobody in the system trusts each other. And it would totally work, if only literally everyone would buy into it all at once. We’ve already examined how it dies if a few people stop believing, but what about if everyone switched?
If everyone could convince their grandmother to start trading in cryptocurrency, the system would, of course, make massive gains. However, Satoshi Nakamoto and friends failed to account for the pitfall here- as soon as the system is mainstream, it loses all of its initial attraction (exclusive club, sticking it to the man, the way of the future) and its operators make their exit. In the exodus, they remove their massive shares and hard-won expertise, leaving just the bandwagoners. These newcomers, of course, are not the idealists of the early days, and try to remove their assets as soon as the system falls apart just a little.
So, either way, the system fails. A sociopath couldn’t have set up an anarchic long-con better if they tried… oh, wait.
Pièce de Résistance
Arguably, one ingredient was missing from the cult leader recipe above: an endgame. And here lies the psychotic beauty of Project Mayhem and Cryptocurrency.
They’re fucked from the start! Moreover, their most zealous apostles will be hurt most by the inevitable failure.
Project Mayhem wanted to set up a better tomorrow, disentangled from corrupt institutions. Maybe some symbolism happened, but no actual corruption was destroyed in the execution of the scheme. And people got hauled in for it. Perhaps some split personalities fought so hard that they designed failure, and maybe they were just too naïve. Either way, Project Mayhem’s flop was unsurprising.
Satoshi Nakamoto inspired people to join the revolution and rely on digital assets to defeat the imbalanced status quo. As soon as it starts working on game-changing levels, he will have removed the motivation for those maintaining the system, and they will be the first to learn the extent to which that giant number on the screen is devoid of actual value.
So now it should be evident that Tyler Durden and Satoshi Nakomoto are one and the same, conglomerates of ideals with a face slapped on for better digestion.
And you should be worried. Cryptocurrency isn’t some worthless, harmless venture. It’s anarchy stew on simmer.