Bitcoin and The Sword of Damocles
What does an old legend from the Roman philosopher Cicero have in common with Bitcoin? A lot more than one might think.
The Sword of Damocles
The "Sword of Damocles" narrative vividly demonstrates the perils of wielding enormous power. Cicero, the great Roman philosopher, penned it around 45 BC.
As the story goes, King Dionysius of Syracuse was a Greek tyrant who governed the province of Sicily in a Machiavellian fashion.
He gained territory throughout the Sicilian island and southern Italy under his ferocious leadership, making his province one of the most dominant and significant in the region.
Despite his accomplishments as a dictator, the tyrant was continuously concerned and could never relish his money and power because he was terrified about being killed by one of his numerous opponents. One may be familiar with the practice of fratricide used by many rulers of the era and beyond to remove bloodline competitors tempted by the throne.
According to the legend, Dionysius was so anxious about his safety that a moat surrounded his chamber to deter would-be hitmen. He only permitted his daughters to cut his beard.
Damocles, a representative of the ruler's court, lauded Dionysius a little too liberally one day. Damocles praised the dictator for his wealth and power and pondered how simple his existence must have been.
The statements surprised Dionysius, who was already worried and suspicious. So he decided to educate Damocles on the value of power.
As a result, the king asked his subordinate whether he would mind swapping positions with him for just one day. Damocles couldn't believe his good fortune and eagerly accepted Dionysius' offer.
Dionysius directed his numerous employees to attend to Damocles, sitting on the ruler's opulent golden couch. He was lavished with delicious treats and lathered in lotions and scents.
The modest courtier was enjoying the opulence of being king. Damocles was so taken with the opulent royal room, the elegance of Dionysius' attendants, and the myriad of shining artifacts that he didn't notice the razor sword hanging only inches over his head.
Dionysius had hung the sword over the courtier's head with just one horsetail hair.
Damocles was overcome with fear and worry as he spotted the sword. He fled from the chamber, pleading to be relieved of his role as ruler for the day, unable to appreciate the delights of his newfound dominion.
The story, according to Cicero, was the most remarkable illustration of the vast amount of risk, strain, and paranoia that comes with wielding enormous authority. He also stated that individuals in control were always afraid of dying and could not be genuinely happy.
The Sword of Damocles stands the test of time as a historically famous fable, representing the duality of being the leader and the enormous responsibility that comes with that authority. When addressing governance and rulers' anxieties, the expression "sword of Damocles" is commonly used and referenced in English.
Perhaps most famously, former US President John F. Kennedy cited the story to the United Nations when discussing the dangers of nuclear war, stating that "every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, miscalculation, or madness."
Mr. Burns also referenced the legend in an episode of "The Simpsons."
The Parallels to Bitcoin, Bitcoin is Cicero’s Republic
Many analogies can be drawn from Cicero's fable. One is that man is susceptible to the allure of power and seems to crave it. Those who wield it also will do anything to maintain and hold that power. Rulers can also crater to the pressure, whereas Bitcoin is immune to all this.
Satoshi never sat or cared to sit on any throne; as such, Bitcoin is not susceptible to man's weaknesses. Instead, Bitcoin is a genuinely decentralized republic, a protocol of rules equally and justly applied to all with no rulers, something Cicero touches on in his writings.
"A republic is the people's property," Cicero wrote. This philosophy connects to Bitcoin and its consensus mechanism, where the users are the sole determinant over their node, and no single entity, or entities for that matter, can plunder others as Dionysus to rig the game and system in their favor.
Shitcoins, Scammers, and Fiat Beneficiaries are Damocles
Another analogy is that, unlike Bitcoin, the shitcoins, scammers, and fiat beneficiaries are like Damocles. They all are so lustful for power and fiat gains that they would do anything to sit on the throne.
These impostors get so caught up in their hubris that they never see the sword swaying, fraying the single horse's hair suspending it above their heads. A blade falls, and down goes Do Kwon and Luna. A blade falls, and down goes Celsius and Mashinsky. A blade falls, and down goes Voyager. A blade falls, and down goes BlockFi and Pompliano. A blade falls (the merge), and down goes Vitalik (Eth moves to mirror fiat entirely).
The Dollar is Dionysius
The dollar rules with an iron fist via its military-industrial complex and 500 military bases around the globe. As a fiat currency, it is by decree that the dollar is the ruler and world reserve currency. The dollar polices the world as Dionysius policed his kingdom, extracting value and freedom from his inhabitants to benefit and secure himself.
Dionysius's reign eventually ended, as did Caesar and the past empires, with a massive correlation between societal decay and the deterioration of their inhabitants' purchasing power through monetary debasement.
The same story is being written with the dollar and with every action carried out in aggression (weaponization of SWIFT) and a new blade or threat is added to the rope, weighing down the single horse’s hair holding it all together. These blades are like blowback to the centralized decisions of the rulers (BRICS and International Settlement via Bitcoin for example). Eventually that hair ($30 Trillion-plus Debt) will fray and rip with swords falling all over the place.
It appears the only one fit for the crown, is the one that does not seek it. This is why Bitcoin and the Separation of Money and State is so powerful and pivotal to a free and prosperous future. A decentralized republic future, a free market future, a future with rules and not rulers.
Written by @SatsforLife