This is an assessment publication by Captain Sidd, a money essayist and pioneer of Bitcoin culture.

I’ve burned through a large portion of the most recent three years living in the sloping locale of Northern Thailand. Settled in the slopes generally around the valleys live “hill tribes” with names like the Akha, Hmong and Lahu. Each has their own customary dress, interesting language and nearby food sources. To a significant number of us residing in the valley urban communities — particularly outsiders such as myself from remote — these slope clans appear to be abandoned by the sluggish walk of civilizational progress. They are frequently portrayed as “our living ancestors.” Euphemistically alluded to as impeded, many live in bamboo hovels and need admittance to schooling, power and numerous features of present day life most of us depend on each day.

Caption: Kids in the slopes. Source

At a distance, these impressions check out. When I had a couple of considerable discussions with these individuals, nonetheless, my comprehension moved. I perceived my verifiable relationship among “civilized” and the shining urban communities of present day country states may be totally off-base. I saw staggering affection, local area and abundance in the slopes, in sums I never envisioned prior.

I considered what I, and numerous others, may be absent about these individuals: their narratives, social orders and social practices. What could another comprehension of the slope clans reflect about present day society?

A investigation of the slope clans of Southeast Asia named “The Art Of Not Being Governed” gave a new take. The creator, James C. Scott, sets that the slope clans were not “left behind” by the valley states yet rather made out of exiles from the adverse results of state-production down in the valleys: subjugation, recognition, subjection, war pestilences and that’s just the beginning. The harsh territory in the slopes filled in as a characteristic obstacle to retention by the state.

“[States] have encouraged, whenever possible, cash, monocropping, plantation-style agriculture in place of the more biodiverse forms of cultivation that prevailed earlier.” — James C. Scott, “The Art Of Not Being Governed

The writer carefully describes the situation on how the variables important for states to emerge fundamentally brought adverse results — for that investigation you should peruse the book!

The Interplay Of Hills And States

When states emerged now and again in the valleys, they gave benefits like security in return for disadvantages: periodic starvation, scourges, subjugation, wars and that’s just the beginning. These restricting powers persuaded a willful development of individuals all through the slopes throughout history. This development put a mind the development and force of states.

Thailand Hills Landscape And Background

Caption: Individuals, families and networks cycled all through the slopes as per the harmony among advantages and downsides of the state. Source

History as shown in state-supported study halls from one side of the planet to the other clouds this recurring pattern among states and hinterlands, advancing a one-way walk of civilizational progress. In this set of experiences, administrators bit by bit envelope the world in the warm hug of the country state, carrying harmony and security to all. This instructing neglects to feature that “for much of history, living within or outside the state — or in an intermediate zone — was a choice, one that might be revised as the circumstances warranted,” as Scott composes. The capacity of individuals to quit course changed now and again across scenes. As indicated by the creator’s exploration, the Southeast Asian massif gave rich ground to quitting valley states right up to the twentieth century.

Forced Assimilation In The Hills

The constrained digestion of local, free individuals into states was not restricted to Southeast Asia. Source

“The attempt to fully incorporate [hill peoples] has been culturally styled as development, economic progress, literacy, and social integration. In practice, it has meant something else. The objective has been less to make them productive than to ensure that their economic activity was legible, taxable, assessable, and confiscatable or, failing that, to replace it with forms of production that were.” — James C. Scott, “The Art Of Not Being Governed”

The different and temporary cultivating and social acts of numerous cutting edge slope individuals shifts focus over to us brought up in country states because of absence of admittance to training and opportunity. Nonetheless, they might address a way to “evade both state capture and state formation” Scott writes. This resonates with my (albeit very limited) experiences with the people of the hills. They are aware of the outside world and sometimes travel to work in the city centers. Yet few leave the hills for good, choosing instead to come back to their communities even after learning about the world and immersing themselves in city life.

Modern Technology Eliminates The Hills

The ability of the hills to check state power depends on a difficulty in projecting power — physically, politically and culturally — across far distances and rough terrain. The advent of distance-crushing technologies such as durable asphalt roads, railways, fossil fuels, radio, television and the internet changed this calculus drastically, eliminating the hills as a viable refuge from state power.

Road In The Middle Of A Bridge

Roads and vehicles make previously impassable areas a matter of a few hours driving. Source

Physically, technologies such as roads and vehicles make it easier for state surveyors and tax collectors to reach far-flung villages to collect tax on land and production. Culturally, technologies such as radio and television allow the state to project messages over the air to distant pockets of people, repeating the glory and ideals of the state to anyone who will hear them. Financial tools can also contribute to a type of state control: by extending copious credit and encouraging individuals to overextend themselves into agricultural equipment, upgraded cars or big homes, debt adds up creating new classes of indentured servants liable to banks and the state.

“Physical flight, the bedrock of popular freedom, was the principal check on state power.” — James C. Scott, “The Art Of Not Being Governed”

These changes together outcome in a disposal of the slopes as a shelter from state power, and subsequently as a mind it. Moving to far off actual spaces no longer fills in as a suitable departure from tax collection or subjugation, as state power reaches out over pretty much every actual corner of the present Earth — and predominantly the regions which support human existence.

However, the slopes as a keep an eye on state power likewise depends on states requiring bodies to perform work and battle in wars. Current country states have less requirement for additional people than those of classical times: something different now assumes a significant part in state power.

The Source Of Nation-State Power

Ancient nation-states derived much of their power from their control of humans and arable land. Therefore, the hills as physical refuge provided an escape valve and check on the power of nation states — one less farmer and tended piece of land directly impacted the power and influence of the court.

Today, capital plays a much larger role than humans and arable land in the accumulation and maintenance of state power. One diesel engine can do the work of hundreds of humans or work animals and a drone can strike more targets at further distances than a squad of soldiers. In my interpretation here, capital means anything from money to machinery to creativity, all of which multiply the effectiveness of humans and land in producing the riches that sustain a state.

Machines Do The Heft Of The Work On Vehicles And Factories

Machines do the bulk of the work these days. Source

Some might object that in many cases, the state does not own any of this capital — so how does this capital play a role in state power? Who owns a piece of capital matters less than the ability of the state to seize or tax that capital in times of need. Many modern states allow their subjects to own their lands and productive capital, with the threat of jail time should subjects fail to pay any taxes levied. When state subjects lack mechanisms to effectively resist the state or opt out with their capital intact, the state has them over a barrel.

So while the hills and physical spaces no longer present a check on state power, the land and humans that once escaped to the hills have little to do with the power of modern states. What would present a significant check on modern state power is a hill or hinterland for capital.

The Hills For Capital

A check on the power of modern nation-states would need to allow individuals to move their capital out of the reaches of the state, just as people once fled to the hills to escape the negative consequences of ancient nation-states. What would a hinterland for capital look like?

A hinterland for capital would need to satisfy a few criteria:

Portable: The form your capital takes must be easy to take with you.Divisible: If you intend to live off your capital, you need to be able to part with pieces of it at a time to live off.Tax- and Seizure-Resistant: The form your capital takes must resist taxation and potentially seizure by states.Value Storing: The form your capital takes must store its value over long periods of time — it must be reliably scarce yet widely desirable. Without this, you risk losing your capital even if the state cannot reach it.

Let’s make this example a bit more personal and say you have a large sum of savings in your local currency. However, you disagree deeply with the government you live under, and do not feel as if your voice matters in the halls of your state. Maybe you disagree with funding a police force that wantonly kills people who look like you or you believe well-connected corporations get the better end of the deal, or you simply do not want to keep sweating away in an economic system where prices grow faster than wages.

You want to send your capital to the hills, opting out of state control. Where do you put your capital to keep it out of the state’s hands?

Cash Cash Dollars

Is cash truly ruler? Source

Currency is your first option. Currency is highly portable as well as divisible, making it easy to travel with and spend down incrementally. However, currency suffers from its physicality: a motivated state can seize it from you in person or more easily through your bank should you choose to store your savings with one. Even worse, currencies the world over are not scarce commodities in any sense: central banks have the ability to increase their supply with the stroke of a key, and they do this with reckless abandon. Each new unit of currency printed debases the value of the currency you hold. Even if you manage to hide your savings from the state, they can debase its value to zero.

Peppers Get By Planning For The Apocalypse

Preppers may survive the apocalypse, but can they resist the state? Source

Natural resources and foodstuffs seem like a practical option for storing capital. You could stockpile fuels like coal and oil, invest in solar panels and stash prepped food in an RV or bunker — prepper style. While you may be able to live off-grid in the event of a societal collapse, you are hardly opting out of state control. The prepper example here differs little from the traditional “run to the hills” escape from the oppressive state, which modern technology rendered ineffective.

Portfolio Can Save You From The State Coming For Your Capital

Will your portfolio save you from a state coming for your capital? Source

Real estate, financial instruments and capital investments in a business are another option. These each store value fairly well, at least historically, and can even generate you a positive cash flow should you pick the right investments. However, they suffer from a lack of portability, divisibility and resistance to tax and seizure. Real estate is a sitting duck, registered with state authorities and impossible to move. Financial instruments today almost always live within the databases of third parties liable and loyal to state orders far more than you, the investor. Businesses usually have a physical footprint and deep roots in the established legal and financial systems surveyed by states, so capital investments there will hardly resist tax and seizure.

Fine Gold Bars Sound Money

Free societies for generations treasured it, so why shouldn’t you? Source

Gold may look like the obvious candidate; for centuries, humans have valued this shiny rock and used it in global trade. Where gold shines in portability and value storage, it dulls against the tools of the modern state for identification and appropriation of physical goods. You may be able to hide gold on your person, but any border guard with half an eye open will surely fleece it.

What if you could store your capital in a commodity that moved at the speed of light, divided into infinitesimally small quantities with ease, stored in your brain and displayed its scarcity with mathematical certainty? This would absolutely smash our alternative stores for capital on the dimensions of portability, divisibility, tax- and seizure-resistance, and ability to store value over time. This would provide a revolutionary check on the growth of state power and a strong refuge for free people and their capital.

Discovering The Hills For Capital

No physical form of capital gives us strong assurances against punitive taxation or state seizure, given the power of modern states over the physical domain. The hills for capital will need to be digital. However, anyone can copy and paste a digital “good” and take it for themselves — which is not what we desire when storing capital for any amount of time.

Digital systems which enforce scarcity — like modern bank accounts — suffer from a different problem: control. Scarcity requires administrators with special permissions to update and edit the system. Participants in that system must trust administrators not to change the rules or affect the scarcity within the system. What we need is a scarce digital good with assurances that no person or state will ever control the system.

What digital systems do give us is portability, divisibility and the ability to move without connection to our physical bodies and state-registered identities? What systems grant those benefits along with provable scarcity?

There is only one digital good we know of that satisfies all the criteria to be the hills for capital: Bitcoin. Bitcoin provides benefits unique to a digital commodity: instant transfer anywhere in the world, deep divisibility, incredible privacy and provable scarcity. A memorized seed phrase is out of reach from even the most prying strip search, and a well-handled bitcoin UTXO following best privacy practices bears no relationship to any entities registered with or surveilled by a state. The Bitcoin protocol ensures scarcity, giving us simple rules for a finite commodity with strong assurances against any state or ruler co-opting the system for their own benefit.

Total Supply Of Cash Expanding Vertically

On the left we find the dollar – hardly scarce. On the right we have Bitcoin – with near-perfect predictable scarcity every day until the end of time. Source

Bitcoin provides any individual the influence to take their funding to the hinterlands, out of state control, in when states have not many keeps an eye on their influence and many apparatuses for observation, tax collection, abundance allotment and battle readily available. Giving a hinterland to capital means Bitcoin addresses another keep an eye on the overabundances of state power, in when previous choices for exit are rapidly disappearing.

Whether you decide to remain inside a state or hurry to the slopes, Bitcoin is a consistently present mind state power.

This is a visitor post by Captain Sidd. Sentiments communicated are altogether their own and don’t be guaranteed to mirror those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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