INTERVIEW Supporter of the cypherpunk movement, Frenchman Julien Guitton believes that only bitcoin can protect his privacy. BFM Crypto met him.
In 1988 it appeared “The Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto” by Timothy May, which aims to give individuals control over their privacy through cryptography. A few years later, in 1993, Eric Hugues published “Manifesto of a Cypherpunk”. These founding texts, which are references to individuals who call themselves “crypto-anarchists”, gave true meaning to bitcoin, which appeared in 2009.
BFM Crypto met one of them, Frenchman Julien Guitton. Today he is an ardent defender of this movement in France. He has also produced a French translation of Eric Hughes’ manifesto, which he sends out to people who ask for it, of which here is an extract.
“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not a secret. A private matter is what an individual does not want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is what an individual does not want anyone to know .Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world,” he explains “Manifesto of a Cypherpunk” by Eric Hugues, as translated by Julien Guitton.
This 42-year-old computer enthusiast explained to us the importance of bitcoin in protecting his privacy. For him, bitcoin is not a cryptocurrency: it is a currency.
BFM Crypto: When did you discover bitcoin?
Julian Guitton: I first learned about the cypherpunk movement, then I discovered bitcoin, around the end of 2011. Then, I discovered the French Bitcoin community via Slack CryptoFR. At that time I was asking a lot about the economy and finance, especially after the financial crisis of 2008. It was then that I discovered the world of finance and in particular what is currency in the sense of Aristotle. Basically, I’m not from the financial world, I wrote my first computer program at the age of 9 and I’ve been working in IT since I was 19. I like the car, sometimes it’s nicer than the person.
At that time we were not talking about blockchain, the end of which came later in 2013. We were talking about mining, “proof of work”, double spending, the fight against censorship. We were talking more about the technique that made it possible to have systems where the third party was not needed. There was a monetary aspect, but there was no blockchain ecosystem at all as it has developed today.
How did you get into bitcoin?
I’m not a dealer, I’m not a good poker player (laughter). When I got interested in bitcoin, I re-read what cypherpunks wrote, maybe with a slightly more political perspective. It was impossible to believe these manifestations before the emergence of bitcoin. These are manifestos that have been saying since the 1980s that the state has no freedom of action in cyberspace. For me, these manifestos are almost legislative documents. Code is law. Cypherpunks have explained to us the conditions of exercising privacy in the 21st century. For my part, I remain more politicized than cypherpunks and consider myself a crypto anarchist.
Somehow the state doesn’t want you to have a private life, but I have a private life thanks to bitcoin. I don’t want people to know how I manage my financial life. So of course, I won’t pay everything in bitcoin, I’ll also use fiat currency. But I will prefer cash instead of bank card, I will use my credit card for certain services, but if I want to take the train, travel or others, I prefer to be discreet and bitcoin is a solution. When I hear a certain MEP say that having private keys is a regression compared to the current banking system, I am surprised.
Bitcoin to me is a currency, not a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin takes on the principles of unit of account, store of value, and medium of exchange in the same way that Aristotle defines money. In addition, bitcoin must be pseudonymous (when I buy a magazine, the seller does not need to know who I am), bitcoin must be uncensorable (when I want to make a transaction I cannot be prevented from doing so), and bitcoin must life immutable (no one can tamper with it, change the value or increase the number of units or tamper with the protocol). Bitcoin is humanity’s spare wheel to avoid state takeover.
In the space of several years, French and European authorities have been scrutinizing bitcoin, seeking to better regulate it. What do you think?
I think bitcoin is about privacy and empowering people. In reality, France, like Europe, is not affected by bitcoin, because cryptocurrencies are not in their jurisdiction. In fact, any desire to legislate bitcoin remains futile. MiCa wants to keep the old world in place (MiCa for the market of crypto-assets, European regulation which should come into force in Europe in 2024, Ed.). MiCa wants to control a market that escapes them and that they can no longer tax, we want people not to be able to get out of it. Europe will have to lose all the MiCs before they realize it will never work.
Similarly, Europe wants to launch its own digital central bank currency (MNBC) by 2026, but what would be the point of a citizen choosing between bitcoin that allows it to be free and a digital currency that can be used only under certain conditions? MiCa will result in a mouse, everyone will ignore it and first the United States. All players in Europe will move to areas where it will be easier, it will be like the Internet. Europe is once again missing the turning point of a revolution, here monetary.
However, a country could very well decide to ban bitcoin, right?
Yes, these scenarios have already been considered by cypherpunks in computer security. They practice negative thinking that deceptively resembles paranoia. I think these people who participate in the community will always be ten steps ahead of what the States can do. The only country that can ban bitcoin is the United States, due to its reserve currency status (of the dollar, editor’s note). Wanting to stop bitcoin is like wanting to stop the dollar. Not even China.
If a country wanted to ban bitcoin they could do so and welcome it, but people could still be on the blockchain, they could even send bitcoin transactions to each other with pigeons, yes it is possible. In fact, as soon as a country chooses to ban bitcoin, cypherpunks will invent a new line of code to get around it. The truth is that thanks to bitcoin we are free.