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The United States of Anarcho-Tyranny

Chris Campbell

Posted January 10, 2022

Chris Campbell

The Civil War began optimistically.

It was birthed in an atmosphere of patriotic fervor on both sides.

Both sides also believed that a few short battles would end in a swift victory.

Few could have predicted the war would drag on as it did (4 years and 27 days), ending with the death of 750,000 Americans and a nation shaking in its boots.

But that’s what happened.

Despite the horror wrought by the war, there was a silver lining. The aftermath of the Civil War helped destroy old, ossified assumptions and rewarded radically new thinking.

“The 1860s,” says Ben Tarnoff’s book The Bohemians, “was bloody, bewildering — and if you managed to survive, a magnificent time to be a young American.”

America’s future belonged to the young, courageous, and enterprising. And it was being built from the ground up in the youngest place in the lands: the Far West.

The pioneers there built a new society, without the often-suffocating counsel of the Old World.

Mark Twain, born in 1835, was one of those who reached young adulthood at the best possible time. And in 1848, he found himself in the best possible place, too, when settling for a stretch into the gateway to the gold rush; San Francisco.

In a twinkling of an eye, the gold rushers built gambling dens… saloons… brothels… banks.

“They lived among the cultures of five continents,” said Tarnoff, “often condensed into the space of a single street: Cantonese stir-fry competing with German wurst, Chilean whores with Australian. On the far margin of the continent, they created a complex urban society virtually overnight.”

The West was the new frontier.

And San Francisco was at the center of it. Wild. Free. Intoxicating. Inventive. Energizing.

San Francisco would hold some of that energy over the years, waning as it went, for over a century…

Until of course, more recently, it collapsed spectacularly.

The Old Frontier Has Fallen

Far from a breath of fresh air, San Francisco is now a shell of its old self. This story, like many of American decay, begins in 2008… but the seeds were planted years earlier. When San Francisco’s politicians turned the once wild and free city into a mountain of business-hostile red tape, rules, and restrictions.

After the Great Financial Crisis, 18,000 companies — Toyota, Charles Schwab, Hewlett Packard, and more — fled the area due to a series of growing problems often summed up as a “poor business climate.”

In 2020, it only got worse…

With COVID-19 as the pretense, California’s prisons, jails, and homeless shelters were under orders to dramatically reduce their occupancy. Fewer and fewer people were getting arrested for public intoxication and aggressive behavior, emboldening the ne'er do wells.

For some, like AntiFa, it was an invitation for vigiliantism under the guise of hunting for “Nazis.” (Mind you, such pursuits took place in some of the most liberal zip codes in America.)

Resident of San Francisco, Michael Shellenberger, author of San-Fransicko, reported that, while the entire country was in lockdown, “a growing number of people in floridly psychotic states were screaming obscenities at invisible enemies, or at my colleagues and me, on the sidewalks or in the street, as we went to and from our retail office in downtown Berkeley, near the University of California.”

Shellenberger describes a typical encounter with one such rogue: “One morning a young man came up to me as I was unlocking our front door and coughed in my unmasked face. Another man threatened to assault a colleague. In both cases our mistake appears to have been that, rather than averting our eyes, we had looked at the men.”

The uptick in violence and erratic behavior wasn’t the only problem.

Someone had long ago created an app to track the sidewalks with the most human feces. It began as a joke, but as the problem grew, many pedestrians found it useful and began using it.

In his book, Shellenberger posits that the underlying problem isn’t, as is commonly stated, lack of funding for social programs or housing.

Rather, the fundamental problem is a specific ideology that’s currently flourishing in the Bay Area and spreading around the country. It’s an ideology that says some people — either through their identity or experience — are victims entitled to destructive behaviors.

“The result,” says Shellenberger, “is an undermining of the values that make cities, and civilization itself, possible.”

The Rise of Anarcho-Tyranny

Balaji Srinivasan, angel investor and former CTO of Coinbase, says San Francisco currently exists under the worst of all worlds — what he calls anarcho-tyranny.

Anarcho-tyranny, he says, is what happens when an “anarchy of unpunished public stabbings is combined with the tyranny of unlimited parking tickets.”

Anarcho-tyranny is when creators of value are punished while value-destroyers are allowed to run free. (Not entirely unlike how central banks use low interest rates to reward debt and punish savers.)

“That model,” says Srinivasan of anarcho-tyranny, “may well be exported to much of the West before it reaches its end-of-life.”

But, he says, “fundamentally the state capacity of modern America is just too low to maintain said tyranny for long.”

Nor will outright anarchy last for long, either… creating a dangerous political situation for Americans.

“If America falls into a period of prolonged anarchy,” Srinivasan writes, “the [China Community Party] model will prove attractive to many countries as a bastion of stability in a time of uncertainty.”

Citizens will beg for order, says Srinivasan, and politicians will gladly give it, opening up the opportunity for an all-seeing, all-powerful surveillance state.

Of course, that’s only one potential scenario.

The future isn’t set in stone.

Beyond anarchy and tyranny — and the Left-Right dichotomy — there’s also a tertium quid… a third thing…

The New Far West

Crypto, some have said, is the New Far West.

The new frontier. A new opportunity to supplant the old at the same time that conflict and chaos clears the way… much as they did during and after the Civil War.

We’ll explore this idea deeper tomorrow.

For a taste, here are three premises:

1.] Neither tyranny or anarchy are desirable or sustainable.

2.] Our future will be one integrated with technology. Some of it, to invoke Arthur C. Clarke, “indistinguishable from magic.”

3.] We can build a technocentric future (as opposed to a technocratic one) that preserves, rather than violates, free speech, free markets, equality of opportunity, privacy, voting rights, shared prosperity, and provably equal treatment.

The Civil War was a devastating time for Americans. But it also allowed many others to flourish and build a new America.

America — and the world — finds itself again in chaos.

Beyond the left-right tension — and the false third option of technocracy — a positive future is possible.

More to come on what it might look like.

[Ed. note: We laid out the foundation of this story in our Big Book of Crypto. With that book, you’ll understand why crypto exists… what problems it solves… and where the puck is headed. It’s essential reading for understanding why crypto is an essential aspect of a positive future. If you haven’t already, click here to learn how to claim your copy.]

Chris Campbell
For Altucher Confidential

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