Strong law is stronger than strong code

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

I have been following with interest the conversations regarding crypto-currencies. These seem to have a strong appeal to people of beliefs that might be described as “libertarian”. These people believe there is some way to escape the need to engage in political struggle with their fellow humans, some way to avoid all the mess of life and instead go away somewhere else, and build an alternative system with an alternative currency. But these people are always a part of this world, and effected by the laws of this world.

Here is someone expressing saddness at the most recent defeat:

I’m really disappointed in how the DAO heist was handled. The promise of cryptocurrencies was that they are harder to manipulate than fiat currency. If the fork succeeds (or even if it fails), I think the very notion of rolling back transactions is a step backwards.

The next time there is something like the DAO, people can invest without fear since rollbacks are the modus operandi. Isn’t this why people are upset with the financial system? When people invest in stuff, they need to be responsible for the results. As someone who didn’t buy a house in the crazy mid-2000s, I am paying the price for everyone else’s stupidity in the form of crazy low interest rates (which have fueled record home prices). But who is standing up for me? No one. I thought cryptocurrencies were leading to a better world (or at least one where the system couldn’t be rigged as easily). I guess not in this instance :(

This person wants a system “where the system couldn’t be rigged as easily” but they seem unwilling to engage in the long, hard political struggle that might temporarily bring about such a system.

This is a good reply:

There are basically two types of cryptocurrency enthusiasts as far as I can tell. The first one believes that decentralized cryptocurrency and smart contracts will lead to a better world, free from the authoritarian rule of central banking and legal systems. And the second type, which is far more numerous, is hoping to to make a quick buck off of price fluctuations in the underlying digital assets.

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