The philosopher sits on his jail bed. His cell mate, the local drunk, stands in the corner thumbing a phone. A bitcoin miner enters the jail and approaches the cell bars.
Miner: Are you the philosopher?
Drunk: No, I’m just here for the food and the wifi.
Philosopher: To whom do I owe the pleasure of this visit?
Miner: Well, I don’t know; I came alone.
Philosopher: I mean: who are you?
Miner: I never give out my name. Completely anonymous. I usually don’t speak aloud if there is a mobile phone nearby because I’m conscious of the mass surveillance underway in our society.
Philosopher: Ah, that explains your false nose and eyebrows, and are those extra eyes you painted on your cheeks and forehead?
Miner: Yes, I painted extra eyes on my face to confuse face-reading software.
Philosopher: You smell good, too. What is that perfume you are wearing?
Miner: I’m a man; men don’t wear perfume.
Philosopher: Well, you are wearing something.
Miner: I distilled an essential oil of helichrysum italicum, which I call immortelle.
Philosopher: Isn’t that a little arrogant of you?
Miner: That is one of the plant’s common names, so no; hey, drunk, search immortelle on your mobile surveillance device.
Philosopher: He won’t respond to anything but mealtime, wine, his bowel—and the wifi.
Miner: I have a question.
Philosopher: I’ve spent my lifetime learning the Socratic Method; ask away.
Miner: A perfect society is unattainable.
Philosopher: Is it?
Miner: Haha, I see how this will go; anyway, a perfect society is unattainable, and we cannot plan out a society in advance—anticipating our needs, technological advancement, or nature. Can’t be done. We can’t plan an ideal society.
Philosopher: What is your question?
Miner: A planned society would be a socialist society, or, with even more planning, a communistic society, which we’ve seen fail. Presumably, we are watching Socialist Democracy in the West slowly decay… to be replaced by what?
Philosopher: I don’t know; I probably won’t be alive by that time.
Miner: Bitcoin is disruptive to institutional governments; China just banned bitcoin upon discovery that there was no way around the disruption.
Philosopher: You seem well informed for one so anonymous.
Miner: Thank you.
Philosopher: And, you appear to be speaking about random things that have no connection except in your own mind.
Miner: That’s why I came here to chat with you a minute. Clarify things.
Philosopher: Well, I’m a captive audience.
Miner: Well, I like Socialism, you see, but I feel guilty because I like it. My work as a bitcoin miner pushes me to Libertarianism, but my attraction to Socialism makes me feel dishonest.
Philosopher: You should be a committed libertarian?
Miner: Yes, that’s it. I should be. Libertarianism was created as a reaction to Nixon and the fiat system. I want to be a committed Libertarian, but I like the idea of a group of workers owning the means of production. Isn’t that what a bitcoin miner does? Owns the means of production?
Philosopher: You own the means of production individually; you do not own the means of production collectively, and that is the difference between you and a socialist.
Miner: Oh, so it would be like renting a Maker Space to use the bitcoin mining rig that the whole city bought. Or, the Maker Space is free because it was created by the mining rig profits that the whole city runs collectively and I can use it when I want to get out some money for some personal expenses.
Philosopher: Yes, I think that is a good example.
Miner: Well, that wouldn’t work—the collective approach. It almost works, but it doesn’t.
Philosopher: Why not?
Miner: The tragedy of the commons; no one would own the Maker Space, so no one would care for it like an owner.
Philosopher: People could just be better and care for Nature like they belong on earth—like the earth owned them.
Miner: Haha, that’s not going to happen. People are disconnected and alone; why would they suddenly care for public spaces?
Philosopher: Like forests and oceans? Yeah, why do you think I’m in this jail in the first place?
Miner: Getting back to me and my question: Libertarians desire a free market, but a truly free market does not exist—and won’t—until bitcoin replaces fiat currency.
Philosopher: Why is that?
Miner: As long as a few elites can inflate the dollar, they will control the economy, so until there is a currency that cannot be inflated, we will never see a free market.
Philosopher: So you want to know what to do in the meantime? You can’t plan a political paradise for the future, so what would be the ideal society—how even to think about an ideal society?
Miner: Yes, in the meantime, for the next thirty years or so, the Libertarian dream is unattainable. We already all agree that no one can imagine the perfect society or create it, so why even dream about the Libertarian free market? Won’t it be better just to work today to cultivate the best society possible today for me? Or, for us?
Philosopher: Aren’t you contradicting yourself? You want to plan, but you won’t plan. Make up your mind, maybe?
Miner: I want to cultivate a healthy society: I want to help the old people and the sick. Make what is here, better.
Philosopher: What currency will you use to make it better?
Miner: I guess, I’ll use bitcoin.
Philosopher: Well, helping old and sick people is not planning an organized society.
Miner: That’s true. I guess that answers my question.
Philosopher: I must warn you of one thing.
Miner: What is that?
Philosopher: To help the widow and the orphan, this is a religious mandate.
Miner: Why do I need a warning?
Philosopher: You might fail at Socialism and Libertarianism but land yourself directly in Theocracy.
Miner: Oh, I see; yes, that would be troubling as I’m an atheist.
Philosopher: You can convert easily enough from atheism to theism; people do it often.
Miner: They do it the other way, too.
Philosopher: But never on their deathbeds.
Miner: Haha, I imagine they do; anyway, thanks for your help.
Philosopher: You are welcome.
Miner: I will leave here today with two new ideas: first, I will no longer pay any attention to politics as, truly, all politics are local, so my attention will be upon my own household. Second, I will not plan out any future society—Libertarian or Social—, but will cultivate or help the widow and the orphan.
Philosopher: And, three, you’ll do it prayerfully?
Miner: I will begin to consider the condition of the possibility of prayer.
Philosopher: The world is old; I am sure there is a society that offers you a political, social, technological, and theological model to follow.
Miner: How would there be a technological model from a past society?
Philosopher: Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you an ancient and engaging story that will curl your ear.