Quote note (#211)

At Nathan Cook‘s new blog:

Bitcoin is not a Marxist reification. Bitcoin reifies in the rare sense of ‘ex nihilo, actually create a physical object’. Bitcoin reifies property. Property before bitcoin is an abstraction, a social relation treated provisionally as an object, but never attaining that status (Property is Impossible). Bitcoin quite literally makes property into something physical. Anything that can store a private key and keep it secret, and can use it to create and emit transactions, can own Bitcoin. The relation ‘X owns Bitcoin’ is spatially local and temporally persistent; in other words, it more closely resembles relations like ‘X is made of wood’ or ‘X weighs 20 kilograms’ than it does relations like ‘X is a dollar billionaire’. Property is possible — when property is Bitcoin.

Prior to functional, distributed crypto, ‘property’ was nothing but confused political pleading. Now it’s something else.

ADDED: Still a rocky road ahead. “What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse.”

January 14, 2016admin 21 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy


21 Responses to this entry

  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    Yes, but ‘property’ that is contingent on numeric secrecy only, is vitiated if that secrecy is vitiated.
    Property is thus no longer in the realm of any ‘social’ propriety, but rather in that of hidden access.
    The construction of such inacessibility, of this “Private Language” key, as it were, is given by a system.
    In this algebra of secure obscurity, has the Self disappeared, along with its considerations of propriety?


    SVErshov Reply:

    in bitcoin concept, property as an onject is not encrypted and not secret. it is publicly awailable for any one to see in blockchain. secret, suppose to be identity of the owner of secret key related to this property, which correspond to public key in blockchain.

    main strengh of bitcoin in blockchain. bitcoin vallet program is weakest point. of course any one can use any program or make his own but most people use Bitcoin Core. by updating Bitcoin Core develpers developers can introduce some futures which will jeopardises ideantity of owner of secret key. and they already done just that by changing way BC discovering other bitcoin nodes. Now it has a list of node stored. this update was introduced on pretend of protection againsg DDos attacks. It is know volnurabily and they dont care to fix it.

    initially node discovery was done by reporting on IRC channel, know method used by hackers to manage large botnets.


    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 5:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • Marxist toady Says:

    Author uses “reification” in a rather sloppy way, which hurts the piece.

    E.g., I don’t see how “what we have described is a reification of a trade” would not be improved by instead being “a formalization of a trade.” Most of what he is describing is formalization in (at least) Moldbug’s sense, which is important, and interesting, but “reification” it is not.


    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    I often use ‘reify’ to refer to any specifiable entity, ‘thing’, or ‘form’.
    The original sense is ‘to make material’, or, more narrowly, as NL says, “‘ex nihilo, actually create a physical object’”. My use considers ‘materiality’ as whatever contextual system of effects is under consideration; a reification is that which is operative in some way in such a system – it ‘matters’ in that system. As it so ‘matters’, & so operates, it can be so specified, together with whatever potentia it might be said to have.

    No doubt, Marxism, with its highly developed vocabulary, exercises a stringent, technical use of “reification”. But such a use, correct me if I’m wrong, I would surmise to be internal to its own discourse, & not obligatory within Philosophy. So, no, NL is not being sloppy, he’s being a philosopher.

    Here’s Derrida on ‘matter’:

    “If I have not very often used the word “matter,” it is not,
    as you know, because of some idealist or spiritualist kind
    of reservation. It is that in the logic of the phase of overturning
    this concept has been too often reinvested with “logocentric”
    values, values associated with those of thing, reality,
    presence in general, sensible presence, for example, substantial
    plenitude, content, referent, etc. Realism or sensualism
    -“empiricism”-are modifications of logocentrism.
    (I have often insisted on the fact that “writing” or the “text”
    are not reducible either to the sensible or visible presence
    of the graphic or the “literal. ‘ In short, the signifier “matter”
    appears to me problematical only at the moment when its
    reinscription cannot avoid making of it a new fundamental
    principle which, by means of theoretical regression, would
    be reconstituted into a “transcendental signified.”
    It is not only idealism in the narrow sense that falls back
    upon the transcendental signified. It can always come to
    reassure a metaphysical materialism. It then becomes an
    ultimate referent according to the classical logic implied by the
    value of referent, or it becomes an “objective reality” absolutely
    “anterior” to any work of the mark, the semantic content of a
    form of presence which guarantees the movement of the text
    in general from the outside.”


    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 5:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    Bitcoins can’t be stolen?


    Kwisatz Haderach Reply:

    That’s exactly his point. Bitcoins can be stolen, but they can’t be redefined. Ownership of them is not modulated by political context, but rather control over a physical thing that exists in time and space – namely, the secret bits of a private key.


    vimothy Reply:

    Control over a physical thing that exists in time and space can easily be modulated by political context.


    Kwisatz Haderach Reply:

    There’s a big difference between “The atms are closed today; go home and wait for instructions”, and somebody physically taking over each key repository. If you don’t see that now, don’t worry, you will soon enough.

    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 8:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Okay, so you have a bitcoin smartcard. The card owns bitcoins. Fine.

    The card is a normal atomic physical object. You must own in the normal way. Bitcoin ownership is hierarchically dependent.


    Mark Citadel Reply:

    That was my first thought as well. I’m not sure how optimistic I am for the long-term future of bitcoin, just from articles I’ve read online. I’ve never personally owned it as a currency.


    SVErshov Reply:

    and why not, bitcoin was best performed currency of 2015 . it went from usd216 to usd450. where esle it is possible to get such returns.


    frank Reply:

    A currency is not supposed to get you returns though. An asset that gets you sizable returns is just that: an asset rather than a currency. I think if it doesn’t completely collapse, bitcoin will function as a low velocity, high power credit transfer/store device in the future. So big time venture capitalists/creditors/businessmen will use it to transfer/store large sums of money. For small time/high velocity/everyday transactions, I expect to see a different thing. Maybe something more similar to traditional third party trusting currencies.

    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 9:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#211) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 9:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • grey enlightenment Says:

    I own bitcoin, having bought in 2013 when everyone thought I was ‘insane’ after it had already run-up so much. BItcoin is booming because because of China. Wealthy Chinese using the coins to circumvent capital controls. As their economy slows and in anticipation of a falling yuan,, they are looking for anywhere to park their money.


    Posted on January 14th, 2016 at 11:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • et.cetera Says:

    Gobbledygook: Nothing this man says supports his point, which is a mess of confused post-facto rationalisations anyway. A ledger is a ledger.


    SVErshov Reply:

    not just, but distributed, synchronous, with ID capabilty, self generating blocks, endless(not bitcoin)


    Posted on January 15th, 2016 at 9:38 am Reply | Quote
  • freihals Says:

    Now with sufficient technological axes and hammers, we have property that more closely resembles communication. What if our technology allows us to create property that is also speech?

    *see Nielsen´s footnote.

    Are we beginning to see new cognitive models that qualitatively challenge our relationship to the other?


    Posted on January 15th, 2016 at 11:18 am Reply | Quote
  • futuremurder Says:

    “a system completely controlled by just a handful of people.”

    How could anyone not see this coming? If this is a shock to someone, then there were strong ideological (i.e. naive) sentiments interfering the exercise of reason.


    Posted on January 15th, 2016 at 2:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    All matter is data; all data is written in matter. We’re just a few steps from an AI owning a small country.


    Posted on January 15th, 2016 at 4:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:


    Wall Street already working hard on blockchain money.

    Blythe Masters of CDS fame is working on it at a startup.

    This means it will scale.

    It will scale like CDS’s scaled.

    Theft on a grand and not trifling scale.



    Posted on January 16th, 2016 at 12:14 am Reply | Quote
  • Different T Says:

    “Property before bitcoin is an abstraction, a social relation treated provisionally as an object, but never attaining that status (Property is Impossible).”

    As others have pointed out, Bitcoin is equating hidden access with property. What is the difference between burying treasure and Bitcoin?

    Bitcoin is worthless unless traded for something else, something that is only “a social relation treated provisionally as an object,” correct?


    Posted on January 17th, 2016 at 8:26 pm Reply | Quote

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