Building a CryptoLaw Strategy – Hacker Noon

Your Bona Fides & Alliances

While some of the themes thus far may seem theoretical and abstract, we must be clear that CryptoLaw is war — with real-life consequences for billions of people.

We’re all combatants in a major fight for control over the conceptual architecture of the 21st century. Control over CryptoLaw = control over the 21st century economy.

We’ll illustrate this with concrete examples and illustrations. But bigger picture, here’s our position in this war:

(1) Crypto never should have positioned Law as its enemy.

(2) By now, the “CryptoLaw Bar” should be should be smart enough to realize the futility and real costs of that approach.

(3) It’s not too late to adopt different CryptoLaw strategies with much higher probabilities of better outcomes than the current adversarial model of engagement with Law.

Phrased differently: If you cling to the Crypto v. Law framework like you cling to your Ledger Nano, then you don’t understand law and you don’t appreciate crypto’s potential. You may think you’re winning big battles, but you’re actually losing the war.

If these sound like fighting words, please remember, we are in the midst of a war. If you need proof, search for “crypto” and “law” in your favorite news engine. Scan the results. Exactly.

You, Esquire

By “CryptoLaw Bar” and “CryptoLawyers,” we don’t just mean “lawyers” in the traditional sense of the word.

Instead, the growing CryptoLaw Bar includes CryptoCats like Gavin Wood, Vitalik Buterin & everyone who has ever used Legalese (such as the term “smart contract”) — including YOU — irrespective of educational or professional background.

If you’re a crypto dev, you might never have seen yourself as a CryptoLawyer. You might mistrust or even despise lawyers.

You might have thought that Law and Lawyers were part of “the problem” for which Crypto was “the solution.”

If you thought that, you were wrong. Not trying to be mean; just stating the truth.

Don’t Take Our Word For It, Read

Please understand that it’s not little ol’ CleanApp that’s calling you out, saying you’re wrong to fight quixotic legal windmills, and tagging you into the CryptoLaw Bar.

It’s the law firm of

Nakamoto, Wood, Szabo, Buterin, Hoskinson & Associates, PLLC (founders of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic & CryptoLaw) who opened the CryptoLaw Bar, threw you in it, and then locked the door on their way out.

Here’s Gavin Wood at the end of 2015, telling us we were all crypto-lawyers who were now finally free to play with our magical crypto-legal “building blocks” to construct whatever shady legal things we wanted to construct:

While contracts that provide pure services concerning each one of these pillars [(1) Identity; (2) Assets; (3) Data] will be extremely useful, these should be considered merely

building blocks from which a crypto-lawyer (or crypto-lawmaker?) may construct appropriate shades.

It was all fun and metaphor when we were imagining what it’d be like to be “crypto-lawyers” and “crypto-lawmakers.”

But now that we’ve started being called to account, now that the “shitcoins” are ricocheting off the SEC’s long-arm fanblades, people should realize that not everyone’s a “crypto-lawmaker” in Cryptopia.

Everyone Wins v. Winners & Losers

There are winners and losers under any set of rules. Winners understand the rules better … because they write them.

CryptoLaw’s (and crypto’s?) biggest failure thus far is the self-delusion that everyone’s a winner because everyone is free to write the rules of their own game, and, crucially, everyone is free to either play a given crypto game or not.

The dominant crypto paradigm today is: everyone wins. If you HODL, you win. If you sell and profit, you win.

Heck, even if you sell and lose, you win.

How so? Even though you’ve lost big today, you’re really winning because you’re learning how to win even bigger … tomorrow.

It’s gambler “logic.” Returning from Vegas after losing everything, you brag about how much fun you had, how many buffets and show tickets you were “comped,” and how you’ll “get” the Circus Circus next time. Gamblers know better than anyone that, statistically, “the house always wins” & “the rules are rigged.”

Yet despite this knowledge, gamblers, by and large, follow the rules. Why? Because (a) everyone does it; (b) there are a lot of those damn rules, with lots of different costs for transgression; (c) there never seems to be enough time to learn “all the rules;” (d) [ “X” ].

So, better be safe than sorry. Better luck next time.

In today’s Circus Crypto, the logic is the same. Even if you lose your fortune, you’re a winner in “experience points,” “dignity points” and “Liberty tokens.” Your Liberty & Dignity are preserved because you had the crypto-legal right to “inspect the code,” to familiarize yourself with “the rules,” and so on.

This applies beyond just “trading,” to encompass virtually every aspect of today’s crypto economy: (a) investor v. ICO disputes; (b) trader v. exchange disputes (easy to put money into Gox, Coinbase, etc., not as easy to take it out); (c) CryptoDev v. CryptoDev disputes (ex: ETC v. ETH); (d) crypto mining disputes (ex: intra-pool disputes; Bitmain v. Obelisk; algo v. ASIC; etc.); (e) “smart contract” disputes; (f) and so on.

However you may be losing your coin, don’t question the rules of the game. If you do, you’re sowing FUD, which is penalized with the ultimate legal sanction — banishment.

Instead, even if you’re losing, you’re getting “rich” in experience points, which “feels” valuable because next time, you’ll know the rules better — greatly boosting your chances of winning. Never mind the fact that next time’s rules are already different (the “X” in the list of ‘Gambler Logics’ above).

Again, we’re not talking about just cryptocurrency trading markets and rules, or the governing rules of this or that crypto instrument. The lessons above apply more broadly.

Crypto-Casino-Capitalism Law

Already, everyone should see remarkable ideological and functional parallels between Capitalist, Casino, and Crypto approaches to rules:

(1) Transparency/Open Law: everyone can inspect & learn “the rules,” even though few do (due to, say, information overload from open access to so many rules);

(2) Equality of Opportunity: rules are “set” so that everyone can win, even though few do;

(3) Clarity: ambiguity is bad; clarity is good. Who decides? The “rules” — ! And if the rules are ambiguous? See #5.

(4) Immutability: rules are rules; contracts must be enforced; pacta sunt servanda;

(5) Expertise: if changes to #1 — #4 need to be made, trust the “experts” and “rule technicians” to do their thing — you just do you, stay focused on winning.

In this regime, it’s clear that you don’t become a winner by following the rules; you become a real winner by understanding the rules.

Do you want to know why next time’s crypto rules are already different, even though the “game” is being played on “immutable” code?

We thought so. Let’s go on.

Don’t Trust Us: Question Everything, Assume Nothing

We don’t know what your institutional alliances or ideological beliefs are, but we promise this: the payoff of working through this argument is a much more solid conceptual and institutional framework for crypto — not just CryptoLaw.

Don’t “trust” us. Instead, assume nothing; question everything.

The most important takeaway thus far is to start questioning the Crypto Legal Matrix.

Start with the basics: the who, what, when, where, how.

Unwillingness to work through this argument and these questions because of Law FUD, or a short attention span — tl;dr — means continuing to labor under irrational and misplaced fear of the legal atmosphere.

That means remaining stuck in a Crypto Legal Matrix that continues to refine ways to control you, without your consent.

“Law ghosts” pose as much threat to crypto as oxygen — but it’s up to crypto to understand why that’s so. We are making this as clear as we can, including literary parallels to The Matrix, which we hope serves as a common metaphorical point of reference.

You are the one who must want a better understanding of the Crypto Legal Matrix. From there, everything becomes progressively easier.

It’s Time to Decide

So, do you want to stress test your understanding of the world (and crypto’s place in it)? Do you have the intellectual courage to even ask this question — or are you so deeply bound by your “anarcho-crypto-libertarian” or “crypto-liberal” or “crypto-radical” (or whatever other ideology) beliefs that your very mind has become … immutable?

We know you’re a free thinker at heart.

So let’s enter the Crypto Legal Matrix.

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