Coffee House

Bitcoin vs Big Brother: why cryptocurrencies make sense

3 January 2014

5:29 PM

3 January 2014

5:29 PM

You don’t need to be a particularly virulent pessimist to notice something phoney about this glorious economic recovery we’re supposedly experiencing. All you need to understand is that since the 2008 crash, nothing has been done to address the terrifying underlying problem that got us there: governments — our government especially, since we are one of the most indebted in the western world — are spending far too much money we haven’t got on crap (from overgenerous welfare to HS2) we can’t afford. This can only end very, very nastily.

So what possible recourse do we free (ish) individuals have against the bullying might of this vast, increasingly confiscatory system stacked against us? Well this is where bitcoins, Litecoins and Quarks et al come in. They’re the monetary equivalent of that scene in Atlas Shrugged where the productive, hardworking creators revolt against the corrupt, hyper-regulated, sclerotic, wasteful, doomed system and retreat beyond the mountains to Colorado.


Cryptocurrencies were created by and for people who have simply had enough. They’ve seen the way the world is going and rather than grumble or pretend it’s not happening, they’ve decided instead to make a new one, in their own liberty-loving image. It’s a world where, by and large, Big Brother has no place — which is why, for example, it’s so popular on the black market.

But you don’t need to be a crim to see why cryptocurrencies make sense. Have you noticed how increasingly difficult it is, for example, to conduct the most basic transactions from your bank account? You want to pay for some item, perhaps by bank transfer, and the security’s so tight (thanks to onion layers of EU regulation, probably) you sometimes find yourself being shut out of your own account. Well, with bitcoin you’re your own bank: you transfer your money electronically from your wallet to the payee’s wallet, and that’s it.

This is an extract from James Delingpole’s column in this week’s Spectator. Click here to read the full piece.

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Show comments
  • James@

    …and what will capitalists do when people realise that technology
    enables them to combine and produce what they need without the
    intervention of capitalists? It will come soon. There’s no reason why
    one couldn’t now have a supercard that discounted you for using
    exclusively non-profit outlets like building societies, John Lewis, the

    • john_robinson

      Sure… and then those people will become capitalists themselves. The irony.

      The funny thing about all those communes form the 60s – they all failed. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of cities and towns organized around capitalism continue to flourish and provide for their citizens. You’d have to be an idiot not to notice.

  • Ron Todd

    Currencies are like Wile E Coyote he is suspended in mid air but only falls when he relies there is nothing supporting him,

  • Kenneth

    The future is the past: coins made from precious metals

  • gladiolys

    So are you diving into Bitcoin now James? Last year I believe you were advising we pile into gold?

    As for overgenerous welfare… try living on it, mate. You wouldn’t last.

  • Treebrain

    “…are spending far too much money we haven’t got on crap (from overgenerous welfare to HS2) we can’t afford.”

    You forgot to mention the cost of replacing Trident?

    • HookesLaw

      Yes, we can only ‘never afford’ things we do not want or like.

      • Treebrain

        Does anyone want or like Trident to be replaced?

  • Daniel Maris

    Colorado? Why is Colorado on your mind I wonder?

  • the viceroy’s gin

    I see the socialist nutters are terrified their little socialist world might just be bypassed some day, by the use of bitcoin and other such methods. What would the authoritarian nutters do if people could just live without socialist mandate, and their zeal to destroy freedom and liberty?

    • Daniel Maris

      …and what will capitalists do when people realise that technology enables them to combine and produce what they need without the intervention of capitalists? It will come soon. There’s no reason why one couldn’t now have a supercard that discounted you for using exclusively non-profit outlets like building societies, John Lewis, the Co-op.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No reason for you socialist nutters to tag your socialist claptrap after my posts, lad.

        • Daniel Maris

          Don’t worry. I wasn’t expecting a reasoned and cogent answer. And I didn’t get one.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …again, no reason for you socialist nutters to tag your socialist claptrap after my posts, lad.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Who are these capitalists? Are the mighty trade unions with their assets and lucrative top jobs capitalists? What about the quango bosses? Or the taxpayer funded or subsidised fake charities? What about the public sector councils that ship their profits (profits!) to Icelandic banks? Are they not capitalists? Do you mean to tell me that no high earning socialist in Britain, from Jon Snow through Toynbee to Julia Middleton, holds shares or an investment portfolio? That instead of dynastic capitalism they give it all away to good causes and live in bedsits?

        Get real.

  • Holly

    Where did my comment to Mr D go?

  • dalai guevara

    “…for people who have simply had enough”

    Pay your taxes, mate. The only economies failing are those in which the main participants do not pay their fair share w h i l s t socialising the losses of their supposed respective elites, often the very same set of amigos.

    No one needs a new ‘currency’, especially and in particular when it’s just the next bubble of gigantic gambling proportions and a crude tool for moving large sums of money from one place to another without the knowledge of authorities. You really believe that? You really believe the authorities can’t see what is going on?

    James, we are all amazed to note that you have been promoted to advertiser-in-chief for products as diverse as TV productions, Italian leatherware and now gambling chips with a half-life of full fat milk. I am really happy for you. Thumbs up, keep up the good work. What next? The rise and rise of Aussie faux-leather footwear for girls in a desperate attempt to avoid a Debenham-style decline?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Which economies are failing and why (please God not your silly map again)? Who are these ‘main participants’? What is their ‘fair share’? How are the losses being ‘socialised’? What are the ‘losses’? Who are the ‘respective elites’ and why are they ‘supposed’. What ‘same set of amigos’?

      You might just write “It’s the bankers wot done it” like that ridiculous Labour-loving BBC lefty John Sergeant last night. Save a lot of time and spare us your windbaggery.

      • dalai guevara

        All these questions when you already know the answer.
        When stuff goes well, you make a profit. Fair deuce. Who would oppose that? Me? When did I ever do that?

        when stuff fails, you nationalise. When stuff fails really badly, you nationalise and print. When all goes belly up, what you’ll need is an enemy in waiting, so that after all that nationalising and printing going on (who is printing, matey? Me?), you can trash someone’s place with big guns – – – – boom.

        Are you not bored with that game? Have you not had enough of that yet? Just pay your taxes, matey.

        Profits ≠ profiteering
        Socialism ≠ socialising losses
        Taxes pay for things. Tax havens don’t.
        But, big state + big quangocracy = super-duper waste.
        Britain is super-duper at that. World leader in wasting stuff.

        • Colonel Mustard

          I don’t have a problem but clearly you do. And England does. The questions were rhetoric (even though they remain unanswered).

          The condition you whine about has come about because of the marriage of socialism and corporate power – precisely. Just as it has in China. But there, with a totalitarian government that firewall chump in No.10 can only dream about, the many cracks (and there are many) are papered over for now. Still it seems to be his preferred model. Perhaps you missed what happened in Hong Kong on New Year’s Day?

          And by corporate power I don’t just mean the big blue chips, domestic or foreign, licensed to monopolise fishing here, but also that very quangocracy of which you write, the public and third sectors, rooted in and driven by the Fabians, socialism and Common Purpose. No other country seems to have had that cancer eating away at its heart for so long. A cancer so malignant that it mesmerises even those supposedly opposing it.

          So it is no good you whining about the condition but completely misdiagnosing the disease. You think socialism is the answer. Er, from 1997 to 2010 that made things worse.

          • dalai guevara

            In case no one informed you yet, it’s still 2010. Yes, you heard me and understand what I am saying. 2010 is not over, in fact it has been accelerated, the sell out continues, customers now paying the fines. ‘It’s socialists wots done that’ my backside.
            The rule of law is NOT observed in this country. That’s what we both oppose.

            • Colonel Mustard

              I don’t “hear” your comments I read them. Whether I understand them or not is another issue given their often impenetrable tenuousness and innuendo.

              And the reason 2010 is not over – arguable though that might be – is precisely because the government, instead of purging socialism, allowed it to continue to dictate the narrative and to govern public space in the same strange hybrid way of Blair. Cameron promised to “sweep it all away” and should have done so, because the biggest victim of not having the courage to do that is now himself.

              Take as an example Starmer. Labour appointed DPP with an overtly and unashamed leftist political agenda. Unbelievably Grieve lets him stay on to continue his work of politicising the CPS, thereby the police and pandering to minority pressure groups to subvert the rule of law to “protect” them. Now he has finally gone (good riddance) but straight back to the Labour party. A supposedly impartial civil servant serving the rule of law? Not on your Nellie and Grieve, the useless twit, should have hoiked him out on his ear on day one, citing precisely the need for strict impartiality and to “send a clear message” (as they like to) to all the other ‘Labour’ civil servants.

              So, ‘socialists wot done it’? Yes indeed and sadly, in four years of a supposedly Conservative-led coalition still doing it.

              • dalai guevara

                Yes, so the answer is not the socialising of yet more losses (which isn’t socialism as I explained at great length) or cronyism even, heaven forbid, this must stop (yet never will) – what we need is a game changer.
                This game changer could be subscribing to *social marketeering* and Prussian virtues as advocated by our future King.

                He knows what the British people need to hear now. ‘Ich dien’ is not an empty phrase, it means something.

      • dalai guevara

        Oh, and with regards to “the banksters wot done it”.
        Well, all we see there (apart from the socialising of losses) is the fining of customers, yes not the banksters are fined, the c u s t o m e r s pay the fines – for PPI, swap, Libor *fraud* and so on and on. One new revelation a month.

        Is that what you call RIGHT? Have you lost it completely? It’s the banksters wot done most of it indeed, matey. And you are fully complicit, given the self-righteous chatterbox tripe you chose to dish out tonight.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Oh really, I have never called that ‘right’. But it is hyperbole to create such scapegoats and let the government of the day off the hook when it is socialist but then to blame the government of the day when it isn’t.

          And the questions remain unanswered. You are floundering now, your punches going wide in your own frustration at being a socialist but having to recognise its ills, having to disguise your plaintive whining in a complex web of innuendo to avoid the simple truth.

          New Labour and the Bankers. Complicit. It was the Financial Times wot done it and a million or more champagne socialists determined to make the taxpayers fund their cultural revolution. And only real revolution will stop it now. And it won’t be revolution from the left.

  • Wilhelm

    The Bankers want our nations to be continually in debt ( enslaved ) great for them, not so great for us. Look at the U.S Federal Reserve, it’s neither American or has any reserves ( gold, silver ) in it’s vaults, it’s a printing press to make worthless monopoly money. Look up the great con of Fractional Lending.

  • Hello

    “governments — our government especially, since we are one of the most indebted in the western world — are spending far too much money we haven’t got ”

    Oh, right. And Bitcoin will stop this, right? Because, without control of the money supply, governments won’t be able to tax? And, of course, they won’t be able to borrow either, will they? No, governments will be able to tax. And if they aren’t able to tax then the currency won’t be allowed to survive. And if they’re able to tax, in a recession they’re still the most reliable borrower, so they will be able to borrow.

    Why do people keep suggesting that Bitcoin can solve problems that it can’t? I suppose we’re back to bubble territory, back to group think, where reasonably sensible people start asserting trendy inanities, right James?

    • HookesLaw

      As I have said elsewhere (but a censorious Mr Delingpole seems not to like criticism) this article is unadulterated rubbish. Written to massage the author’s prejudice. It is absurdly easy to buy with 1-click with real money from real bank accounts on the web.
      Mr Delingpole makes an idiot of himself.

      • Makroon

        Delingpole has not the faintest idea what he’s talking about.

  • stop the cyborgs


    (1) As the prosecution of people who were stupid enough to use bit-coin to buy drugs shows – it isn’t actually anonymous.

    (2) The market is very thinly traded and exchanges easy to manipulate so the “price” is probably driven by mainly a pump and dump scheme.

    (3) Bitcoin exchanges don’t normally comply with financial regulations except anti-money-laundering rules. So they could easily manipulate trading themselves.

    (4) Ownership is highly concentrated with about a quarter of all bit-coins being owned by 47 individuals.

    (5) Bitcoin is hoarded and traded rather than spent and so because of it’s volatility and lack of merchants accepting it is pretty useless as a means of exchange.

    (6) Other crypto-currencies are proliferating.

    If you want to invest in a pyramid scheme – knock yourself out – but while you at it you might want to take a look at my tulip collection…

    • the viceroy’s gin

      No, bitcoin is used for basic purchases. My son-in-law bought a drone of all things, a while ago, using bitcoin. Nice little quadrocopter, with GPS and outstanding video capability. He swears by bitcoin, as a part of a diverse financial position.

      • dalai guevara

        You are Max Keiser and I claim my $5.

      • Holly

        Please enlighten this thicko..

        So your son-in-law bought a drone. I understand that bit.
        With bitcoin. I even understand that bit.
        What does the seller of this drone now do with his bitcoin?
        Somewhere, someone has been hoodwinked surely. Unless the drone seller nicked it, or wanted to go to Tuscany/some rather nice place near a lake, it sounds like your son-in -law got his drone for sod all….
        Bound to catch on.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          The seller exchanges it for whatever he wants to hold, either merchandise, services or some other currency.

          The drone seller is a company in the US, and they clearly have a storefront and business presence, and there are many others like it taking bitcoin. You may be missing what’s going on out in the world.

          • Fergus Pickering

            You mean all those drones being bought and sold. Do they come with weapons fitted?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …what are you ranting about now, lad?

      • Darnell Jackson

        What a great story.

    • The Red Bladder

      Ah tulips now there’s a good ‘un. Got any black ones? Price no problem!

  • Span Ows

    Are you 1FfmbHfnpaZjKFvyi1okTjJJusN455paPH?

    Don’t you get the feeling that most Bitcoin owners are just speculating ON the currency and not actually using it AS a currency. That spells “bubble”.

    • Hello

      It can’t be used AS a currency. There’s nothing to buy that isn’t just a reflection of some output priced in another real currency.

      • Holly

        That’s what I thought.
        Somewhere along the line REAL money will have to come into the equation.
        Otherwise it will just be a ‘bitcoin’ used by a few, or a currency used by everyone, so will end up the same as the present currencies….
        screwed up by humans.

        • dalai guevara

          It’s the next Ponzi scheme designed to look like ‘capitalism’. When it fails it’s the socialists fault.

          • Colonel Mustard

            It is never the socialists fault you silly man. Since they arrived on the scene their tyrants have been overthrown and their various regimes (all established on the same promise) bid good riddance around the globe but the orthodoxy has never been seriously challenged and they still run everything. You think China is run by capitalists? You think the current cultural revolution is capitalist inspired?

            New Labour ran an over powerful regime from 1997 to 2010 but it is still all the Coalition’s fault, not yet through a single term.

            • dalai guevara

              We can do this all day.
              The day those appointed by a higher deity to their position of power lost it all, that was the day someone took over. Who was that? Socialists?
              You have one guess left, Colonel, give it another try.

              • Colonel Mustard

                I don’t need to guess since what you propose is impoverished in fact and logic. It is rooted in the socialist creed never to accept responsibility, never to be accountable, always to blame others. Otherwise it would be impossible to keep pretending, for over 100 years, against all the evidence of socialist regimes, that ‘struggle’ will bring Utopia.

                Yes, we can do this all day and socialists do. But I am not the one pursuing the same failed experiment, with the same tedious war cry, testing society to destruction in successive waves of humbug. You see greedy bankers with socialism as their cure, the purge. I see greedy bankers and socialists as two sides of the same bitter pill.

                • dalai guevara

                  The only ones not accepting responsibility are the Fred Shreds of this world, coupled with the Yates’s and that CNN chat show host in exile. NO ONE is accepting responsibility. NO ONE ever has, unless the guillotine came out. Britain is full of people NOT accepting responsibility, that is how this society works.

                  It is fatuous to suggest that *any* elected leader of a nation who was put in power democratically, virtually unopposed (who opposed the ones in question, Hague? IDS?) and with full support of the people, acting in full accordance of the law and given the power to act, would somehow be MADE responsible.

                  Yet those who have clearly and evidently BROKEN the law are let off. In bankstering, law enforcement, in the media. They have moved ABROAD. They have been let go.

                  But then the Pinochet’s, Shinawatra’s or varios African crooks move here. They moved here to escape the rule of law in their own countries.

                  Now, it’s highly amusing to watch you dish out your moral tales of how ‘it’s socialism wots done that’. All you can now do is put socialism and banksters on the same side of a bitcoin? Fatuous stuff, Colonel, really weak stuff.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Not weak at all. Putting socialism and bankers on the same side of the coin is not “all” I can do but only the specific elements you raised and we discussed. The whole edifice is rotten, through the government, parliament, the public sector and the third sector. It has failed to serve the people let alone represent them. For every “bankster” let off there is a Nicholson let off too. The only common thread to all this crap is Common Purpose an undoubtedly socialist NWO construct.

                  It is pointless blaming a coalition that is populated by Lib Dems, a mutant socialist party and a Conservative party now riddled with quasi-socialists determined to de-toxify themselves but out-Redding the Reds. It is precisely because Conservatism failed to correct the weird and damaging Socialist-Corporate marriage of 1997 that we are where we are.

                  And my “tales” are not moral but merely observed comments and opinions that I have every right to make without your unnecessary judgemental “tags”. It is you socialists that confound politics and morality so ineptly as Roger Scruton convincingly illuminates in this week’s Spectator. He also makes a good fist of defining conservatism. Here’s a clue – Cameron ain’t one. As long as British government believe in controlling society top down rather than letting it evolve bottom up and seek to engineer it rather than represent it they are all socialists. All of them.

                • dalai guevara

                  Judgemental tags. Is this a trade off, a new form of equation game? “For every bankster there’s a Nicholson”.
                  Ah, so that is what the scales of justice represent. One for you, one for me! That never occured to me.
                  The reason why I could not care less about trade offs like this is simply due to the fact that the left/right game is a tediously dull and juvenile game to play. I am not interested, sorry. I am not David L. or the teleman.

                  If it is as you say that Conservatives have encountered fundamental issues with regards to their outlook in a *post-capitalist* world and have found new scapegoats in Common Purpose and Fabians, Bilderbergers even, then that will satisfy most. It is far more satisfying to oppose whatever with *better ideas*, though.

                  But let’s not forget, your issues go deeper. The fate of Communism has now turned full circle. Capitalism/ the free market was also never more than pure fiction. Some discovered that a long time ago, when Manchester Capitalists failed in fact – in modern times the banksters themselves delivered the last nail to that coffin in 2008.

                  Now you lot are soul-searching as the scale of the mess is undeniable – an ashes whitewash equivalent for the City.

                  Thatcher might have been the very person who gave your generation a good twenty years of fun in the City – you did not question it, now it is time to fundamentally sort your head out.
                  The right is split, so be it.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Brown & Balls have not accepted responsibility. Greenspan has.

        • Daniel Maris

          Nope. You can use your bitcoins to buy real stuff. It’s just another currency, like Papuan Dollars or airmiles or WH Smith Gift Cards or gold or silver or any number of things used for exchange.

          The good thing about bitcoin is that it seems to have some built in safeguards against runaway inflation (a bit like gold).

          However, it is never going to replace a national currency which is used to pay mortgages, salaries, taxes, etc. A wild guesstimate – only 5% of GDP could ever go through bitcoins.

          • Hello

            No, they’re different. If someone wants to upgrade to first class on a BA flight, and there are first class seats available, the cost for BA is negligible. The same is true if someone is purchasing a ticket using AirMiles for a flight that isn’t fully booked. The reward scheme keeps short term demand higher by incentivising brand loyalty, and justifies an increase in the ticket price, whilst smoothing out long term demand.

            The point is that AirMiles and Gift Cards are redeemed against overproduction, where the costs are already sunk.

            Papuan dollars are the currency of a real economy that produces real things.

        • Holly

          Why the mark down?
          Not everyone knows how bitcoins ‘work’ and Mr D’s ‘explanation’ is as clear as mud, and something that clear needs steering clear of.

          I am simply curious to know how this will work on a much bigger scale than it is at the moment.
          I am not against it, I just reckon that IF this ‘takes off’, it will simply replace current currencies, with all the same problems.

          • Ron Todd

            Not everybody knows how it works , just like a ‘real’ currency then.

      • Span Ows

        OK, rephrase: “and not actually using it to buy stuff”…

        • James@

          R u mad?

      • roger

        Cryptocurrencies are divisible, i could offer a coffee at 0.0001 bitcoin etc.
        The ‘powers that be’ are scared stiff of losing there monopoly of fiat currencies, just like governments hate secure personal communication or any forms of ‘free’ (activist written) software.

        • Hello

          “Cryptocurrencies are divisible, i could offer a coffee at 0.0001 bitcoin etc.”

          You can do that with real currencies too, just not with paper money, and it is done with Sterling and Euros and other currencies in the marketplace. It’s just that there isn’t an awful lot of use in having highly precise prices like that unless you’re moving large quantities of something. It really doesn’t bother me if you up the price of a coffee by 1 pence instead of 0.0002 pence, because I’m only going to be buying one at a time and so the loss is negligible.

          But if you really wanted to price it like that then we’d just need to remove coins and paper money, and it could be enabled.

  • Edward Harkins

    Surely a major and growing driver in favour of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the attempted return to a post-WW2 style regime of Financial Repression? This attempt has been evident among the Governments/Central Banks in those economies most afflicted by 2007/08 and its aftermath (all brought about in great part, of course, by those self same authorities). Bitcoin etc. offers an escape route from the impending growth of financial constraints, restrictions and sequestration-by-domestic-economies-inflation.