“For there is reason to think that if a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid power would be as much an object of contention as to obtain power is at present; then we should have plain proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to regard his own interest, but that of his peers; and every one who knew this would choose rather to receive a benefit from another than to have the trouble of conferring one.”

Privacy is a function of liberty - and in the digital age, privacy is more important than ever. As technology has advanced, so too has the ability of governments and corporations to collect and use our personal data. Billions of people share their most intimate thoughts and feelings online every day, and our behavior is tracked and analyzed in ways that were never thought possible before. This erosion of our privacy is a direct threat to our liberty, as it gives governments and corporations unprecedented control over our lives.

Privacy and freedom go hand in hand; that is the great promise of crypto, and the common thread of all that truly followed in Satoshi Nakamoto’s footsteps, and the initial promises of Bitcoin.

Satoshi Nakamoto's creation of the Genesis block in 2009 was, after all, a direct rejection of the centralized finance system epitomized by the current fiat financial system. As a reminder of the great financial crash in 2007, he included an 'Easter egg' of information in Block 0’s creation, allegedly on the same day the news of Britain's bank bailout was released: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks."

Here it is clear that Satoshi’s creation was designed to be a substitute for the too-big-to-fail financial institutions, with no middleman, third party, or any entity that would come between a buyer and a seller.

It’s easy today to look around and see how much the landscape has changed; centralized exchanges are thriving, chain analysis is ubiquitous, and venture capital is heavily embedded into most spheres of crypto - creating an uncharacteristic overlap between blockchain and traditional financial institutions. In times like these it’s important to remember crypto’s roots and most fundamental mission: not profit-seeking at all costs, but instead freedom, decentralization, and privacy.

Power, Centralization, and Cannibalism

It can be said that the crypto space is increasingly splitting into two distinct camps or factions. The first camp is “regulation friendly” and seeks to transform crypto into a highly regulated network and just another financial asset. A great example of this is Saudi Arabia’s recent ban on privacy coins, as well as similar bans from other countries. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are also moving in this direction, turning the concept of cryptocurrencies on its head completely, using the technology to rather increase their level of control, power, and dominance over our own personal liberties.

The second camp is more cypherpunk in nature - wishing to use crypto as a tool to empower and elevate, instead of as a tool of power and control. Monero and Particl are great examples of projects and communities that are true to this vision.

Unfortunately, as it stands today, one faction is actively trying to cannibalize the other, introducing more and more aggressive regulations, and even creating narratives about the “dangers” of a free cryptocurrency world. This tweet by CoinMarketCap, and its corresponding article, is a good example of the kind of encroachment that privacy-centric projects already face, even from inside the crypto sphere:

To state the obvious, framing crypto in that way is akin to framing the Tor network as being a “safe haven for crime”; it is naïve at best, disingenuous at worst, and always plays into the hands of existing structures of financial and political control. But although it can be disheartening and extremely disappointing to see major players in the crypto sphere adopt and help propagate such narratives, it’s important to understand that they are fighting a losing battle: “encryption works”, as Edward Snowden once aptly put it, and it is only a matter of time until these control-hungry institutions face the music of concrete, hyper private and highly resilient applications of private blockchain and other distributed, end-to-end encrypted data dissemination technologies.

The Fight Ahead

It’s clear that the fight for privacy in the digital world is becoming more and more important each day. With constant developments in surveillance technology and the ever-increasing presence of centralized authorities, it is today more important than ever to create systems that are not only unapologetically private, but also open-source and pro-liberty. In the face of anti-privacy narratives and regulation, open-source technology is the only way to ensure privacy and preserve resilience against attacks.

As the privacy fighters of the crypto-world are gaining more attention, it is becoming increasingly evident that the only way to move forward is to unite. By combining different privacy projects, a resilient ecosystem can be created that is safe from attacks of all sorts. Particl’s Marketplace, along with its upcoming BSX integration, is a great example of this: while the Marketplace already lets users buy and sell anything anonymously and entirely on-chain using the $PART privacy coin, its upcoming BSX integration will allow the seamless integration of nearly a dozen other privacy coins into any and all Marketplace interactions.

This would allow different projects, protocols, and currencies to live together and benefit from the best of what each has to offer. Particl’s flexibility and RingCT privacy, as well as other technologies like Zcash and PIVX’s zk-SNARKs, Firo’s Lelantus, and adaptor signatures, are just a few examples of advanced privacy technologies that can be tapped from and even compounded to that end - each “backing up” the other in case of a theoretical breach.

Collaboration, in that view, is key for the cypherpunk, privacy-first faction of crypto to reach its full potential. Opposing forces are strong and well-equipped, and so it is vital that we stand together in order to have any chance of success. However it is important, of course, for projects to continue to work on their own individual ideas, and follow their own creative paths. That is why Particl's architecture is evolving into a modular one, to enable different projects, protocols, and currencies to develop in unison and benefit from one another more pragmatically. This will create true resilience and help widen use cases for each individual project, in line with this open-source, cypherpunk vision. With that in mind, the privacy sector of the crypto-world stands a chance in its fight against the formidable power of centralized authorities.

If you want to learn more about the disruptive decentralized ecosystem we're building at Particl, and if you want to contribute to the growth of online privacy and liberties, then come join our awesome global community on Discord, Telegram, or Element — or just give one of our decentralized and privacy-first apps a try here.

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