Adam Kokesh on Bitcoin and Free Market Money
The rising career of Adam Kokesh maintains a steady and distinct focus on liberty and individual empowerment. Since serving in the United States Marine Corps in Iraq, he has built a reputation as an anti-war, pro-freedom activist and outspoken independent journalist. His peaceful civil-disobedience and direct actions range from mega-phone powered outbursts to debatably awesome dance moves with clear and undeniable reactions from the institutions that he speaks-out against. In the last two years Kokesh has been developing a presence with his show, Adam vs. The Man, which previously aired as a radio program in New Mexico then on the television network Russia Today and is currently “Anchoring the Internet, 7 days a week” via podcasts and his popular YouTube channel.
Internet communities are evolving at an incredible rate, creating phenomenal innovations, adjusting to the rapidly changing market and reshaping what it means to be free while war and civil unrest rage in the streets around the world as a result of government policies, global banks and corporate greed. This is where Adam vs. The Man and Bitcoin collide. Kokesh is driven to deliver the loud, brutally honest truth about systemic hypocrisy and the advantages of individual liberty and decentralized power where other media outlets present a less confrontational, more mainstream, almost always corporate/state-sponsored message. Since the show currently exists without official sponsorship and, according to the website, “Adam hates selling advertising”, its success depends on community investment to continue broadcasting and it was suggestions from that community which led to his decision to accept Bitcoin to help fund his message of liberty. Bitcoin is sprouting from the same notions of decentralized freedom and personal responsibility, fighting against impossibly gargantuan government and corporate sponsored fiat currency, so the opinion of an activist for that movement could help illuminate the advantages and potential of what might be the fastest growing alternative currency in the free market.
Do you see a lot of strength and advantage to Bitcoin being a free market currency?
Absolutely. It’s huge that it has that advantage.
A lot of people who look at the problem of free market money versus government fiat currency turn to the obvious answer of having the commodity-backed currency that was actually the predecessor to fiat currency of some kind and we like to condemn the current government system with the Federal Reserve and the U.S. dollar because of its backless nature because there’s nothing backing it except for the promise of the government that they will basically steal from future generations to pay for the debts that we are accumulating with it currently. Whereas Bitcoin kind of throws a lot of people like us for a loop and we go “Wait, wait, wait a second! It’s just another fiat currency, right?” because there’s nothing backing it. And while that’s true, the fact that it’s not backed by the promise of theft gives it a huge, huge, huge advantage over government fiat currency.
So, if you’re going to have a currency that’s not backed by something because it’s more effective or more efficient, what Bitcoin has done is found a way to make a viable currency that’s also not backed by a commodity but also, unlike the Federal Reserve system, not backed by the threat of force and the threat of violence. So that’s very exciting and that’s a huge thing that sets it apart. Whether or not that’s the future, I don’t know.
I’m just excited to be a part of something that allows people to exchange value without paying the inflation tax. That’s really the most important thing is that whatever we choose to use for currency, for a medium of exchange, that we’re not doing something or we haven’t chosen something that feeds into the system, that promotes violence, that promotes taxation, that promotes exploitation. You could say that, based on the distribution system that launched Bitcoin, it was similarly unfair and even though there wasn’t a central authority there was a point of origin but it still has a vastly superior function in the market, compared to the dollar, because it’s an honest, open currency.
So, whether or not it’s going to replace the dollar, whether or not it’s going to be the future of trade, I don’t know. But there are all sorts of alternative currencies springing up all over the world, as the government fiat currency systems collapse and it’s very exciting to see that Bitcoin is providing one possible alternative. Personally, my hunch is that it will be an interim currency and that we will see something instituted or perhaps Bitcoin will evolve. Who knows, maybe the formula for Bitcoin is the one where we got it right and when the dollar collapses, in the true free market that will result, when we have a free market for media of exchange, then Bitcoin will be the winner and Bitcoin will be the superior medium. Who’s to say.
What’s really exciting is that this innovation is occurring despite the government’s quasi-monopoly on currency. While a lot of people will have tried things like silver-backed currencies or the Liberty Dollar and ended up in jail, they haven’t been able to have nearly the success, in terms of actually becoming a medium of exchange, for a significant segment of commerce as Bitcoin has. So Bitcoin is proving itself, at least in this controlled market, as an alternative, to be extremely effective to provide people with a way to opt-out from the US dollar.
Do you think that poses an inherent threat to the establish system?
Absolutely. In fact, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a serious government crackdown attempt on Bitcoin because it is a huge threat to the government fiat currency scam. It is a huge threat to the Federal Reserve.
We’re seeing the same thing in Greece. Just today there was a story from The Guardian, Greece develops cashless, Euro-free currency in tight economy, they are developing barter networks so people can get away from the Euro system. I think it’s going to be a bottom-up transition, what you’re going to see is people at the community level or at the Internet level, global community with Bitcoin, they are going to develop these economies that are going to at some point start competing with the main sort of corporatist economy and you’re going to have big enough companies developing based on these alternate currencies and big enough systems that first the system is going to try to incorporate them but eventually it’s going to supplant them because an economy where people have an honest currency is always going to be more productive to one which the currency is a mechanism of exploitation and hidden taxation.
Would Bitcoin being a decentralized currency play into that as well?
That might be the only thing that is keeping the government from cracking down. If it wasn’t for the government quasi-monopoly in the first place then it might even be more effective, it might be able to develop more freely without some of those constraints. Not that there necessarily should be a central authority, I think that’s part of what’s so exciting about it is that there isn’t a central authority. Who knows, perhaps with some kind of bureau or central management thing or central market or website, Bitcoin might even be more effective but, at least for now, I think that’s one of the things that is protecting the Bitcoin system from government intervention.
Do you think fractional-reserve banking could happen once Bitcoin stabilizes and gets enough usage?
The difference is, in the fiat currency system that we have with the dollar, fractional-reserve banking allows banks to actually issue dollars that don’t exist. Having one dollar in the bank allows you to loan out ten. The difference is that, with Bitcoin, me having one Bitcoin in my wallet doesn’t allow me to loan ten of my friends one Bitcoin each, on the promise that they’ll bring it back, because I can’t actually print another Bitcoin. I can’t just put the money in their account and say “Well, I just created it based on fractional-reserve banking”. I have to tell them what’s happening.
It’s true that fractional-reserve banking, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. Fractional-reserve banking is a product of free market banking. It’s just that when it’s given the authority by government to actually create new dollars then it becomes a problem and another source of inflation but it can happen in a way that’s natural and accountable to the free market, in the way that money saved is able to be leveraged in the form of loans and development.
If I have one Bitcoin and I want to loan out ten and actually give people something effective to use, I can’t just create more Bitcoins and hand them more Bitcoins in the way that a bank doing fractional-reserve can effectively just create an account and create some money in it because they say that they have the reserves to back it up at a fraction or whatever is approved by the government. I can only issue certificates and promissory notes and say “Here’s a promissory note for one Bitcoin and if you bring this back, I will redeem it for a Bitcoin”. Then it’s based on the credibility of my institution and me as an individual, not on special privileges granted by government.
So, yeah, fractional-reserve banking, in one form or another, will exist with Bitcoin eventually and will be a product of the free market, in that sense, but the parameters will be different. It won’t be in a destructive way that banks are able to create value out of nothing but a way that banks handling Bitcoin are actually properly leveraging their savings to maximize its effectiveness in development of the economy.
There’s a bit of a stigma surrounding Bitcoin, as is common with new innovations and ways of thought. What do you think is the best approach to address that and help people rise above it, or is it best ignored?
Well, if the attack on good ideas is a resistance by people who are acting out of insecurity, which is usually fueled by some form of emotional insecurity, then the best revenge, as always, is living well. The best approach to those nay-sayers is to simply engage and be more prosperous as a result of using alternative currencies. And I can’t say that I’m there yet. I can’t say that I’m living up to my own advice there, yet, in terms of Bitcoin because I just started accepting it. I haven’t taken in anything significant and I’m not really using it in a systematic way, although I’d love to find better ways of incorporating Bitcoin into my general business operations. Really that’s the only answer.
Humans are creatures of pragmatism and the thing that’s ultimately going to win people over is the demonstrated effectiveness of what we’re doing. Already, for someone as arrogant as me to suggest that I would have any considerable effect considering that the Bitcoin market is exploding, in and of itself, and that’s the best argument for it.
You already mentioned that you’re surprised that the government isn’t trying to crackdown on Bitcoin, surely legislation is possible to outlaw it. Do you foresee that happening?
The government will start to crackdown on Bitcoin when it sees that the Federal Reserve system’s monopoly is challenged significantly by it or one of their client corporations sees it as a threat. When that happens, yeah, you’re going to see an attempt to take-out Bitcoin but it’s been so cleverly instituted in such a decentralized way that there won’t really be anything they can do about it. It will be too late.
How would you like to see the future of Bitcoin play out?
That’s kind of an anti-libertarian question. To say “How is it going to work in a free market?” because the premise of libertarianism is “I don’t know” and being willing to say that “I don’t know” is okay and being willing to understand that human nature is good and freedom will lead to human-beings doing good things and that by forcing some vision that you have on people through government is to deny the “I don’t know” of what the market will produce from flowering to its true potential. So I don’t want to say what I want Bitcoin to be because it would be a meaningless stance when, really, what Bitcoin will become will be determined by the market.
However, with that caveat, I will say that I would like to see the Bitcoin system become a political force, become a threat to the Federal Reserve, become a common talking point and become part of the vernacular when people talk about government economic policy and especially monetary policy and say “Well, there’s the Federal Reserve and then there’s Bitcoin.”
Personally, beyond killing the Fed, I don’t really care what happens to Bitcoin. I care that there is freedom, I care that the market is able to be the determinant of how goods and services are distributed in an economy, not the force of government, and I think Bitcoin is going to play a major role in that. I think Bitcoin is going to be one of the major factors challenging the Fed as the dollar collapses, as the Euro collapses, as we see the banksters try to institute a new global fiat currency and we come to this showdown between those who believe in free market money and those who believe in central, government-controlled money. I have high hopes for Bitcoin being not just a talking point but as a community of people who use Bitcoin as a major factor and a major player in that conversation and in bringing down the Fed.
Adam vs. The Man broadcasts five days a week at www.AdamVsTheMan.com with a two-hour special on Sundays. Kokesh’s first book, Hot Dirty and Dangerous, details his experience fighting in Fallujah and will be available soon for free. He’s also currently available for speaking events and can be contacted directly via email at [email protected].