Political language is systematically confusing, in a distinctive way. Its significant terms are only secondarily theoretical, as demonstrated by radical shifts in sense that express informal policies of meaning. Descriptions of political position are moves in a game, before they are neutral accounts of the rules, or even of the factions.
It would be excessively digressive to embark on yet another expedition into the history of such political terms as ‘liberal’, ‘progress’, ‘fascism’, or ‘conservative’. Everyone knows that these words are profoundly uninformative without extensive historical qualification, or rough-and-ready adaptation to the dictates of guided fashion. If consistent theoretical use of any political label conflicts with its maximally effective political use, the former will be sacrificed without hesitation — and always has been. That is why neologisms are typically required for even the most fleeting approximation to theoretical precision, whenever political affiliation is at stake.
A point in favor of the ‘crypto-‘ prefix is that it plays directly into such confusion. As a politically-significant marker, it bears two strongly differentiated, yet intersecting senses. It indicates (a) that a political phenomenon has been re-assembled in disguise, and (b) that cryptographic techniques are essential to its identity. Hence, respectively, ‘crypto-communism’ and ‘crypto-currencies’. Any attempt to engage in an initial clarification cuts across the intrinsically occulted character of both.
‘Crypto-capitalism’ — therefore — might be one thing, or two, if it is anything at all. If clarity is to be brought to the topic, it will certainly not be self-promoted. Whatever crypto-capitalism might be, structural misunderstanding has to be the most prominent part of it. Hiding is essential to whatever it is.
What crypto-capitalism is not, first practically, and subsequently theoretically, is pseudo-capitalism, or ‘capitalism’ as it is publicly recognized. Rather than engaging in futile struggle over the ‘true meaning’ of capitalism, crypto-capitalism proceeds with a surreptitious appropriation of terminological confusion, functionalized as camouflage. It does capitalism, all the more effectively, because the grinding mill of political language works predictably, providing it with cover. The loss of terminological integrity is invested, from a position of intense cynicism, as an opportunity to develop off stage.
Pseudo-capitalism is (by now) the host of the Cathedral. It feeds a mega-parasite, which — employing unprecedented powers of narrative construction — claims to be the source of its vitality. Evolving far beyond an initial stage of conspicuous resource extraction, the Cathedralized — or culture-potent — state now more-or-less directly controls the ‘capitalist’ brain, in more ways than can be readily enumerated. ‘Capitalists’ are Cathedralized through educational and media indoctrination, social selection, regulatory discipline, seductive alliance, and ‘transcendental’ subordination to a financial system that has been subverted to its foundations by the magic of power. The mere denomination of ‘capitalism’ in fiat currency expresses the domain of pseudo-capitalism with remarkable exactitude. The meaning of the host is (articulated through) the virus it sustains. Any suggestion of opposition in this relationship is entirely fake, because it belongs to the same magical performance.
Prohibition exemplifies this stage show. Publicly pitting cops against gangsters, what it represents is the spectacular definition of the ‘white economy’ (pseudo-capitalism) over against the ‘black economy’ or ‘organized crime’ (crypto-capitalism). The same story can be told in the decadent USSR, without any need for substantial revision. Whatever refuses denomination in the signs of power is a pathological aberration, to be renormalized as a productive
parasited host social body.
As ZH reports:
… one of the most popular websites that use and promote the use of BitCoin, Silk Road, was shut down by the US government. As Reuters reports, U.S. law enforcement authorities raided an Internet site that served as a marketplace for illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and arrested its owner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday. The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht, known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” in San Francisco on Tuesday, according to court filings. Federal prosecutors charged Ulbricht with one count each of narcotics trafficking conspiracy, computer hacking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, according to a court filing.
It’s worth revisiting this (noted here) to recall some realistic context, and plausible historical analogy. The Prohibition of the 1920s was an endless source of cop-on-gangster drama, none of which had any realistically persuasive meaning as the successful pursuit of policy. Instead, gangsters used the cops, as a tactical resource for black-economy dispute ‘resolution’. (In the Shanghai of the same epoch, the Opium-trafficking ‘Green Gang’ managed to get their agent ‘Pock-marked Huang’ installed as chief of the French Concession police — an admittedly extreme example of a typical tendency.) From the perspective of the outer economy, cops are a cheap way to smash your competition.
Extrapolate speculatively just a little from the Forbes discussion:
IT’S A RULE AS TIMELESS as black markets: Where illegal money goes, violence follows. In a digital market that violence is virtual, but it’s as financially real as torching your competitor’s warehouse.
In late April Silk Road went offline for nearly a week, straining under a sustained cyberattack that left its sensitive data untouched but overwhelmed its servers. The attack, according to Roberts, was the most sophisticated in Silk Road’s history, taking advantage of previously unknown vulnerabilities in Tor and repeatedly shifting tactics to avoid the site’s defenses.
The sabotage occurred within weeks of rival site Atlantis’ launch. Commenters on the Reddit forum devoted to Silk Road suggested that Roberts’ customers and vendors switch to Atlantis during the downtime, leading to gossip that the newcomer had engineered the attack.
Who was the real beneficiary of the FBI operation? All too many neoractionaries, beginning with Moldbug, and now including Handle, seem to think the only possible answer is: Prohibition. Here at Outside in it appears incontrovertible that ‘Roberts’ had already predicted this ‘sting’ — in far greater detail than anybody else has done — and that the antagonist he pre-emptively, if subtly, fingered was a shadowy crypto-capitalist competitor, rather than the forces of pseudo-capitalist suppression. If this was a cryptic event, it would be inexcusably negligent not to ask: Who (or what) is the FBI really — even if unwittingly — working for? “For the ultimate glory of the white (pseudo-capitalist) economy” is certainly one possible answer, but it is by no means the only one.
ADDED: What does the FBI do with its new Bitcoin stash?