01 Dec 2017

Understanding Bitcoin

Bitcoin 31 Comments

Not sure of the last time I pushed this… Anyway, if you want to learn about Bitcoin, here is the guide that Silas Barta and I wrote back in late 2014. It assumes you know nothing, and then takes you as deeply into the mechanics of it as you want to go.

31 Responses to “Understanding Bitcoin”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fails to mention use of crypto-currencies by Canadian slave traders.
    https://cathnews.co.nz/2017/11/06/bitcoin-slavery-vatican/

    It’s probably impossible to invent any slavery-proof currency, but still, Vatican research efforts on this are important.

  2. Tom says:

    It’s almost like a book written in 2014 couldn’t have known about something happening in 2017.

    Or that only an insane person — like the kind of person who stalks people online — would think a book designed to give a technical overview of something would also need to provide social commentary.

    “Vatican research efforts on this are important” — first and last time these words will be uttered by insane “I’m going to chase you around the Internet” lunatic.

    (Yes, I know, you’re just on fire with a passion for justice. That’s what every lunatic thinks.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Bob Murphy promotes the type of taxation system, a head tax, used by forced labor regimes in the Congo, Nigeria, Papau New Guinea, and Uganda, as if it does not distort the economy that much. He also claims that enslavers can’t be too harsh, because frequent physical punishments would reduce the health of the slaves, as if enslavers care about the the health of the slaves, never mind the tens of millions killed by enslavers in the Congo alone. He goes on and on about how wonderful the murderous fossil fuel industry is, making no acknowledgement of the effect of all the gas flaring and poisoning on the economy, as if the Nigerians are simply part of the environment and not even humans. He also ostracized a friend of mine who was raped by a Randian libertarian. Bob Murphy basically has no conscience.

      • Dan says:

        A normal person would go find another blog to frequent rather than ramble endlessly on the blog of a person with no conscience. You’d do more to help slaves by getting a job, spending all your time making money, and using it to free one these people you cry crocodile tears for. Seriously, how can you waste time commenting here when you lament the fate of so many? Do you care more about being the super creepy person commenting on this blog than actually doing something productive to help these people? Have you no conscience?

        • Anonymous says:

          My job is dull. Which is fine. Plenty of time to read . Sometimes I have time to read an entire book chapter or even two before someone walks in.

          However, someone who threatens to enslave African children by means of counterboycott really shouldn’t be lecturing others about conscience.
          https://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2017/04/in-honor-of-the-march-for-science.html#comment-1822823

          At least I don’t make those sorts of threats. I have no intention of physically harming anyone.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m dead serious about not physically harming anyone. I made a commitment before God never to deliberately cause physical harm to another human being again after a really stupid bar fight I got into when I was 20. First and last time I touched alcohol. I fully intend to keep that commitment. I will not fight back even if attacked.

            • Anonymous says:

              My friend is also very nearly a pacifist but for different reasons. Apparently when she tried to fight back one time, other people were punished for it, and the guilt ate away at her.

          • Dan says:

            I’m sure all the slaves around the world are grateful that you spend some of your free time hectoring us heathens instead of trying to find ways to increase your productivity in ways that might be used in a way to benefit them.

          • Dan says:

            I think you care more about moral grandstanding than actually making a difference, so I have a proposal for you. I’ll boycott Nestle every day that you don’t comment on here, but every day you do comment one here I’ll take it that everything is right in the world and I’ll go buy some nestle chocolate bar and wash it down with some nestle chocolate milk. My guess is hectoring us is more important to you than those slaves.

          • Anonymous says:

            And no, I’m not going to tell you which anti-slavery NGO I donate to. Based on your previous patterns of extremely violent behavior, you would probably retaliate by slandering that NGO and going around telling other people not to donate to it.

            • Dan says:

              See, you don’t care about slaves. You can’t even refrain from commenting here when I have offered to boycott Nestle if you did so, and knowing I’ll go out of my way to support Nestle if continue leaving comments. That’s how little you care about them. When offered a simple proposal that would literally cost you nothing to help further your goal of boycotting Nestle, you completely ignore it in favor of continuing to rant on here like a crazy person. You’re actions speak louder than your words. You’re all talk.

              • Anonymous says:

                I think you care more about moral grandstanding than actually making a difference, so I have a proposal for you. I’ll boycott Nestle every day that you don’t comment on here, but every day you do comment one here I’ll take it that everything is right in the world and I’ll go buy some nestle chocolate bar and wash it down with some nestle chocolate milk. My guess is hectoring us is more important to you than those slaves.

                The reason we backed off for so long was because of the threat you and Darien made.

                And here you are, doing the same thing all over again, threatening to enslave African children just to force someone else to be quiet. So much for the vaunted libertarian commitment to free speech. You people are perfectly happy to use extreme violence when it suits you.

                But you know what? Bob Murphy’s insistence that head taxes are to be preferred over other taxes is a greater threat than your Nestle-buying. So if you want it to work, up your threats.

                See, you don’t care about slaves. You can’t even refrain from commenting here when I have offered to boycott Nestle if you did so, and knowing I’ll go out of my way to support Nestle if continue leaving comments. That’s how little you care about them. When offered a simple proposal that would literally cost you nothing to help further your goal of boycotting Nestle, you completely ignore it in favor of continuing to rant on here like a crazy person. You’re actions speak louder than your words. You’re all talk.

                Well, for some reason, the appearance of your comments was delayed.

              • Anonymous says:

                I’m sure all the slaves around the world are grateful that you spend some of your free time hectoring us heathens instead of trying to find ways to increase your productivity in ways that might be used in a way to benefit them.

                Even if I had greater qualifications than I do, it seems nearly all the high-paying jobs somehow feed into war or some other violence. If anything I need to be more ascetic.

              • Dan says:

                OK, I hear you. It’s more important for you to comment here than to have another person join your boycott of Nestle. Apparently, boycotting them isn’t something you find to be all that worthwhile a cause. When push comes to shove what is really important to you is commenting on a blog with people you clearly despise, and be damned your stated convictions. Some abolitionist you are.

              • Anonymous says:

                I believe it was early to mid May when we backed off due to your threats to counterboycott us. So 6-7 months ago. Your threats bought you 6-7 months of silence from us.

                However, if any head tax were instituted, it could result in the enslavement of far more people than your personal counterboycott. The results in the Congo were truly horrific. And many countries including the United States still have draft laws, which demonstrates a will to enforce things by conscription. If there’s any chance that lawmakers might actually listen to Bob Murphy and implement a head tax, that takes precedence.

                What matters is not the boycott per se, but the desired results: the dismantling of structures which enable slavery, and, by extension, the abolition of slavery. Within the overall strategy, a boycott is just a minor component.

                However, when dealing with libertarians whom we did not trust, it did seem like a good place to start. The conclusion of that test is that we were right not to trust you. If you are unwilling to help or at least stay out of the way of the little things like boycotting, why would we proceed to discuss more serious tactics?

                Stated convictions? My convictions prohibit me from deliberately inflicting physical harm. I’m not the one threatening to buy Nestle products, even knowing Nestle’s record. That’s on your soul.

                If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way.
                – George Orwell

                Your decision to counterboycott is certainly bitter, and severely distressing to my friend, but it is not as if we have any direct control over your actions, or are willing to do anything that would give us direct control. We have nothing but your word that you would be willing to join our boycott anyway. You might simply promise to boycott Nestle to get rid of us and then go on to keep buying Nestle anyway.

                Crazy person? You are threatening to hire Nestle to enslave African children for you, because you are too thin-skinned to handle being insulted on the internet. Which, ironically, proves that the insults were merited.

              • Dan says:

                Commenting here has literally zero impact on furthering your goals. Literally zero impact. Surely spending all the time you comment here by writing politicians about your opposition to a head tax, passing out pamphlets, making more money to give to the cause, or anything else would be more impactful. The fact you keep wasting time on this blog is proof that you are all talk. You don’t care about slaves. You care about telling us how much you care about slaves. The only thing you accomplish by rambling on endlessly here is that I go and buy Nestle products. Whatever goals you have, you are certain to hurt them by spending time here. Heck, I knew you wouldn’t stop because I knew you were not sincere. Your further comments will just be further evidence that you’re all talk.

                This will be my final comment in response to you as I feel like I’ve already demonstrated what I wanted to. But just remember that every time you comment that I’ll be snacking on a Nestle product in your honor.

              • Anonymous says:

                I’m not the one deliberately enslaving African children. You are. If actions speak louder than words, then it is you that are proving that you love slavery. Libertarian depravity truly knows no limits.

                Whatever I do, at least I don’t revel in deliberately enslaving others like you do. You call yourself a “libertarian”, but the only “liberty” you seem to care for is your liberty to brutalize and enslave others. You hate liberty, and destroying liberty gives you pleasure.

                If I can’t get the attention of one PhD, my chances of getting the attention of a politician are basically nil. Joining the military to eventually make more money to donate would be counterproductive, since joining the military would be a very violent thing to do, and I’m really not sure if there are any mostly nonviolent career paths open to me. I gave up on pamphlets after a few Republican type people accused me of being unpatriotic and made a few threats of their own.

                My chances of making a significant difference are small no matter what I do. But if it’s possible to discredit Bob Murphy enough that people in power will be less likely to listen to his recommendations, or, better yet, albeit less likely, convince him to change his mind, then for the honor of humanity, I should at least try.

              • Karl Hess's Ghost says:

                It has come to our attention increasingly of late that many self-proclaimed libertarians balk at the idea of abolishing slavery. It is almost incredible to contemplate, for one would think that at least the minimal definition of a libertarian is someone who favors the immediate abolition of slavery. Surely, slavery is the polar opposite of liberty?

              • Anonymous says:

                Karl Hess is dead. Dan might not be a libertarian by the standards of 1969, but this is 2017. Given that Dan is surrounded by libertarians who are unwilling to denounce him, it seems that balking at the idea of abolishing slavery is very much in line with 2017 libertarian standards.

          • Tom says:

            So your answer to the question is: I’d rather feel better about myself than actually help anyone. That doesn’t sound like any other left-liberal I’ve ever encountered. Oh, wait….

            • Anonymous says:

              I’m not a left-liberal. Left-pacifist would be closer.

              I have a job. albeit a dull one, and I do donate to an anti-slavery NGO, which, as already explained, I have no intention of naming in the presence of Dan. According to you I am a lunatic and a low-IQ idiot. If you are right, then I am already earning (and therefore, donating) more than I should be. After all, who would want to hire a low-IQ idiot lunatic?

              And if even if you’re wrong, why would I take career advice from someone who believes I’m a low-IQ idiot lunatic? You certainly haven’t suggested a better paying job I would be qualified for, let alone offered me such a job. And even if you did, I would likely look on such an offer with great suspicion, given that the level of trust between us is below zero.

              That’s part of the problem with libertarians. Always judging people based on their income.

      • Tom says:

        Your summary of Bob’s views is completely ridiculous. Everybody here knows that. The combination of being mentally thick and filled with righteousness is pretty toxic. It produces people who completely lack self-awareness. As they continue to write things that they believe carry forward their crusade for justice, they simply look like low-IQ idiots to everyone watching..

        • Anonymous says:

          Here is where Bob Murphy promotes a head tax.
          http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/carbon-tax-opposite-tax-reform/

          Now that we’ve considered tax design in the case of the car market, suppose that the government wants to raise $2 trillion over the next ten years with a new tax. It can levy a flat “head tax” that divides the burden evenly across all American taxpayers, or it can slap the $2 trillion tax just on activities that emit a lot of carbon dioxide. Putting aside issues of climate change for the moment, which proposal makes the most sense in terms of standard economic growth?

          It should be obvious that the first proposal is much more efficient. By levying a uniform head tax that isn’t tied to behavior, the government would raise the $2 trillion without distorting activity very much. People would be poorer, and the government would be richer, but there wouldn’t be too much deadweight loss that added insult to injury. It would mostly be a pure transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the government.

          In complete contrast, the $2 trillion (over 10 years) tax levied on carbon-intensive industries would completely alter behavior. Indeed, that is the whole point of a carbon tax—to utterly transform the way our economy produces energy and provides transportation. So in addition to the taxpayers as a whole being $2 trillion poorer, they would also be doing things that weren’t as productive as the original method. Some people would be driving electric cars, for example, who would have preferred to drive gasoline-powered cars, and these people wouldn’t be contributing much in carbon tax revenue to the government. Instead, their unhappiness (at having to drive an inferior vehicle, or paying higher prices for electricity that was produced by wind power instead of coal) would be part of the deadweight loss to society from the carbon tax.

          Now it’s true, the promoters of the carbon tax could argue that it yielded environmental benefits that counted against the deadweight loss I’ve described. But it should be clear that just focusing on conventional economic output, raising $2 trillion through a lump sum head tax would impose much less drag than raising the same amount of revenue via a tax narrowly targeted to the carbon-intensive segment of the economy.

          Go click the link if you think I made it up. Now, to be precise, we could say he is promoting a head tax in the sense of making it out to be less bad than other forms of taxation, but that’s still horrible. Head taxes have, in the Congo, Angola, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and Togoland, been used as an excuse for forced labor. Conscription by another name. If you like we can go over the examples. Research relating to the Congo is particularly detailed. Slavery is far worse than theft or robbery or whatever other taxes are.

        • Anonymous says:

          And here is the exact quote where he claims that enslavers can’t be too harsh.

          https://www.mises.ca/slavery-could-not-last-in-an-otherwise-free-market

          In setting this threshold, the owners couldn’t be too unreasonable, because frequent physical punishments would reduce the health of the slaves.

          Again, click the link if you don’t believe that he wrote that.

          Slavery killed about 10 million in the Congo under King Leopold alone. There are numerous examples of people dying in slavery or while resisting capture, and if you like we can send you a bunch of said examples.

        • Anonymous says:

          As for Bob Murphy’s love of the fossil fuel industry, simply browse through his work at Institute for Energy Research.

          http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/about/people/robert-murphy/articles/

          On multiple occasions, Bob Murphy claims that making energy and transportation more expensive (which could just as easily apply to cutting subsidies to fossil fuels, not only to adding a carbon tax) would, according to him, hurt the poor the most. For example:

          Politically, the prospect of making electricity and gasoline more expensive—which hurts the poor the most—in order to fund tax cuts for corporations, seems absurd.

          http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/initial-thoughts-gop-tax-bill/

          If I recall correctly, about one billion people in the world do not even have access to electricity. And, in the case of Nigeria, many of those are also being harmed by fossil fuel extraction. Shell and other oil companies in Nigeria have been flaring as and thereby poisoning the locals, spilling oil resulting in more poisoning, bribing the military to put down protests, etc.
          https://imgur.com/a/DjuNc

          And what do these Nigerians and their land count for in Bob Murphy’s economic analysis?

          Now it’s true, the promoters of the carbon tax could argue that it yielded environmental benefits that counted against the deadweight loss I’ve described. But it should be clear that just focusing on conventional economic output …

          http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/carbon-tax-opposite-tax-reform/

          Environmental benefits? Nigerians are just part of the environment? Not part of the economy at all?

          It’s true that a carbon tax might simply be spent according to the wishes of fossil fuel companies and therefore towards funding more fossil fuel violence. But what about other methods of increasing the price of fossil fuels, like cutting subsidies? Bob Murphy is apparently unwilling to even acknowledge these subsidies.

          Internationally, governments provide at least $775 billion to $1 trillion annually in subsidies, not including other costs of fossil fuels related to climate change, environmental impacts, military conflicts and spending, and health impacts. This figure varies each year based on oil prices, but it is consistently in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

          http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

          It’s disgusting that he calls himself a pacifist.

        • Anonymous says:

          But why should I focus all my condemnation on Bob Murphy?

          Here’s something you wrote.

          Jefferson Davis was, as Livingston suggests, an “enlightened slaveholder.” He was well known as a kind master, even going as far as establishing a trial system on his plantation in Mississippi for punishment rather than resorting to the lash.

          https://www.libertyclassroom.com/slavery-and-the-civil-war-revisited/

          Wow. As any abolitionist should know, the only “enlightened slaveholder” is a former slaveholder. One who freed his slaves voluntarily. But you are clearly no abolitionist, which explains why you get along with Bob Murphy so well.

          Even putting that aside, your historical claim is dubious at best.

          This view of slavery under the Davis brothers originated with Varina in her Memoirs, published in 1890, and in her subsequent correspondence and in letters written by Joseph’s granddaughter almost two decades later. … no other contemporary documents verify this plantation Eden. That such a fascinating system of slave management run by two such prominent individuals in such an accessible location completely escaped notice is puzzling.
          – William Cooper

          https://books.google.com/books?id=9Wx2AAAAMAAJ&q=%22no+other+contemporary+documents+verify+this+plantation+Eden%22&dq=%22no+other+contemporary+documents+verify+this+plantation+Eden%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiPhvW-jO7XAhUJtxQKHaWaDgUQ6AEIJjAA

          And then there’s this.

          Starting in May 1862, Jefferson Davis watched helplessly from Richmond as his elder brother, Joseph, struggled vainly to beat back the challenge of their slaves’ bid for freedom in the maelstrom of the war his state’s secessionist action had brought on. Davis and his brother were longtime owners of a pair of plantations located in a bend of the Mississippi River—Davis Bend as it was called—twenty miles below Vicksburg. As early as February 1862, President Davis’s worries about the fate of the Confederate west was tied up with concern about his own home and property. In February, noting his special vulnerability to enemy attack, he urged his brother to remove their slaves and all their valuables (cotton included) into the interior of Mississippi, should a descent of the river be attempted by the federals. In May, after the fall of New Orleans, Joseph removed the family and so-called “family slaves” —house slaves presumably—to Vicksburg by flat boat, initiating a forced migration that eventually took him to Choctaw County, Alabama.

          Then the Davis slaves made their move, responding not to the immediate presence of the Union army (which was not yet near), but to the signal Joseph Davis had sent about the shifting balance of power. No sooner had Joseph pushed off from the dock than the remaining slaves seized control of the two plantations, sacking the big house on Hurricane, destroying the cotton, carrying off every article of value, and refusing to work. They would retain control of the plantation, indeed would refuse to be forced off even later by federal troops, seizing a rough-and-ready freedom while still on their home plantation. On Davis Bend, the slaves moved not with, but in advance of, the arrival of Union troops. By the end of May 1862, Jefferson and Varina Davis received a series of lurid accounts of events on Brierfield. “Negroes at Brierfield . . . said to be in a state of insubordination,” one telegram said. Charles Mitchell, a nephew-in-law, was even more blunt, offering Davis an account of his slaves’ refusal to work or submit to the overseers who were still resident on the plantation, or to any attempt to carry them inland. They had declared “that on no conditions would they agree to leave the places.” All of a sudden, as John Houston Bills had said, slaves were exercising their right to decide. With still no Yankees in sight, some of the Brierfield slaves ventured to the Union navy’s boats stationed below Vicksburg, undoubtedly to check out their reception by potential but, as they discovered (when they were turned away), unreliable allies. Nonetheless, Mitchell said, “I am sorry to say that I think the Yankees would be offered any facilities in the power of the negroes to grant on your place and the Hurricane.” “The negroes and their friends the Yankees,” was how Mitchell described the new alliance sought by the Brierfield slaves with the enemy of their master, the Confederate president.

          The men, women, and children held as slaves of Jefferson Davis would fight on during the war. Some left with the Union army when a raiding party arrived seeking to carry off male slaves to the army. As on so many Mississippi River plantations, men and women both left; “their departure was sudden and in the night,” Joseph told his brother. But even after Vicksburg fell they were still at risk. Joseph never quit scheming about how he could remove them to safer Confederate territory. He even tried to convince General Van Dorn to detail troops to capture Union marauders and liberate the plantations at Davis Bend. And indeed, at least fifteen Davis slaves were recaptured in a raid by a detachment of Confederate troops. The slaves did not go easily. Some were killed in the raid, to Joseph Davis’s horror. The raiders reported that the Brierfield slaves shot at them as they approached from the river.

          – Stephanie McCurry, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, pages 255-256

          Those slaves do not sound as if they had a “kind master”.

          The two of you are just pure, unadulterated evil.

        • Anonymous says:

          Or this from the book We Who Dared to Say No to War which you coauthored with Murray Polner.

          Indeed, slavery is an advance on war, since its victims, first prisoners of war, were formerly killed at once, afterwards held to service as an act of humanity.

          Even according to John Locke, who was a horrible person, but who is frequently quoted by libertarians, slavery itself is a form of warfare.

          This is the perfect condition of slavery, which is nothing else, but the state of war continued, between a lawful conqueror and a captive. – John Locke

          http://www.bartleby.com/169/204.html

          The above quote should not be interpreted as an endorsement on our part of John Locke’s views. But slavery is a state of war. By definition, violence or the threat of violence underlies the whole relationship. And like other forms of warfare, slavery can be very deadly.

          When King Leopold and his accomplices enslaved the Congolese, the population dropped by about half.

          During Leopold’s rule, by how much, from all four causes, did the Congo population shrink? Just as when historians chart population loss from the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe, they can be more confident of the percentage than they are of absolute numbers. They have, after all, no census data. Interestingly, some estimates of population loss in the Congo made by those who saw it firsthand agree with some of those made by more scientific methods today.

          An official Belgian government commission in 1919 estimated that from the time Stanley began laying the foundation of Leopold’s state, the population of the territory had “been reduced by half.” Major Charles C. Liebrechts, a top executive of the Congo state administration for most of its existence, arrived at the same estimate in 1920. The most authoritative judgment today comes from Jan Vansina, professor emeritus of history and anthropology at the University of Wisconsin and perhaps the greatest living ethnographer of Congo basin peoples. He bases his calculations on “innumerable local sources from different areas: priests noticing their flocks were shrinking, oral traditions, genealogies, and much more.” His estimate is the same: between 1880 and 1920, the population of the Congo was cut “by at least a half.”

          Half of what? Only in the 1920s were the first attempts made at a territory-wide census. In 1924 the population was reckoned at ten million, a figure confirmed by later counts. This would mean, according to the estimates, that during the Leopold period and its immediate aftermath the population of the territory dropped by approximately ten million people.
          – Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost

          For someone who believes that the phrase “enlightened slaveholder” is not a contradiction in terms to claim to be against war is ridiculous, and undermines the efforts of genuinely anti-war people who understand the links between slavery and other forms of warfare.

          For example, the United States dropped bombs made with slave labor on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          Locals were paid the equivalent of twenty cents a day to break rocks and push carts. It amounted to a version of debt slavery: taxes were kept purposefully high and workers were not permitted to select their own occupations. The men slept eight to a hut in settlements ringed with barbed wire to prevent them from leaving before their contracts were up. Typhoid and dysentery were rampant. One of these sites had been Shinkolobwe, where patches of high-grade uranium had been found by chance in 1915.

          The mine would go on to supply nearly two-thirds of the uranium used in the bomb dropped over Hiroshima, and much of the related product of plutonium that went into the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

          – Tom Zoellner, Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock That Shaped the World, pages 4-6
          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-radioactive-cut-that-will-not-stay-closed/

          And then there’s the problem of cobalt.

          Abby Martin: During Mobutu’s rule in 1982, the congressional budget office released a report entitled Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral outlining how the shortfall of cobalt was obviously a concern for US national security. Talk about what cobalt is and the significance of this report.

          Kambale Musavuli: Congo is the number one producer of cobalt in the world. Even when we have peace or no peace, we are still the number one producer of cobalt in the world. There is a high chance that your batteries of your cars or batteries of your phones, your TVs, all those electronics that you use today has cobalt from the Congo. But no one knows that.

          Kambale Musavuli: But the document you point out is very particular. Like, when people look at the cobalt policy, I see it in two-fold. The first vulnerability, the reason why they created the cobalt policy, is because there was shortage of cobalt in Congo. This was caused by a rebellion. There was a rebellion in the late ’70s, that disrupted the exportation of cobalt in the Congo. And that made people worried in the United States. Americans noticed this because in the 1980, 1981, there was shortage of color TV in the US. Consumers did not know why we had shortage of color TVs, but it was directly connected to the cobalt in Congo. So we had to figure out, we don’t produce cobalt in the United States. We don’t have a known reserve of cobalt in the United States. The country where we get cobalt, back then it was called Zaire, it’s now Congo, has a president that we have installed. What need to be our policy toward him? So this document was the justification for supporting Mobutu, knowing that he was pilfering Congo’s national coffers. He was actually, you know, killing dissidents in the country, and so on. Because he was so essential for our access to cobalt, we supported him. Not just because of our electronic device. The first vulnerability is not electronics. If there is a shortage of cobalt in the United States, it would impact the US military. And they said it in the document, right in plain sight, that without Congo’s cobalt, we will have problems waging war. We will have problem with that.”

          Abby Martin: What does the US military use cobalt for?

          Kambale Musavuli: You cannot have a drone without cobalt. You cannot have your planes without cobalt. You cannot send a space shuttle without cobalt. In your nuclear reactor you see that also. I mean, it’s virtually in most of the major military and aerospace equipments. If there is a shortage of cobalt, we can’t wage a war. That the first vulnerability of that cobalt policy. So if you want peace in the world, let’s make sure that Congo is in control of the Congolese so that they can use the resources to better their lives, have clean water, electricity, and better life in their own country, rather than seeing the minerals fleecing the country, going to Western nation, and it’s being used in military, um, in the military industry causing havoc around the world.
          – Empire Files, How the World Runs on Looting the Congo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxa4YbmMkQ0&t=2m42s

          The report referred to in Abby Martin’s interview with Kambale Musavuli can be found here.
          https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/51xx/doc5126/doc29-entire.pdf

          In chapters 2 and 3 of Blood and Earth, Kevin Bales discusses how a great deal of the mining in the Congo is conducted using slave labor. It is unlikely that cobalt for the US empire is an exception.

          If one wished to argue against the US Civil War specifically, a good starting point would be to point out that the Civil War failed to even end blatant racial slavery, with government complicity, on US soil. See Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon, a documentary based on that book, and One Dies, Get Another by Matthew J. Mancini.
          https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2319745.Slavery_by_Another_Name
          http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/watch/
          https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1342887.One_Dies_Get_Another

          But of course, that would mean admitting, contrary to your quotes from Jeffrey Hummel, that slavery was not dying off naturally. And it raises the question of what, from the perspective of those of us who actually consider slavery a great evil, should have been done to try abolish it instead of a civil war.

        • Anonymous says:

          My friend would like me to note that someone from her past used to tell her “Everyone says you are crazy” as he was forcibly holding her head underwater and other acts of cruelty. We both find it ironic how often warmongers like yourself use accusations of insanity against their critics to distract from their own violent actions (or in your case, propaganda favoring violence).

  3. Peter Surda says:

    I read it back in 2014 and remember it was very well written and explained. Even though I have my disagreements with Silas in other areas, this book is a job well done. I recommend it when I lecture or when people ask me about bitcoin. Thank you both.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dan, to paraphrase something I read elsewhere, just so you know, when you use threats of extreme violence (such as threats to enslave African children, as you have done above) to try to get your way, I don’t believe I should give in. (Although I do feel obliged to acknowledge that my friend has a different opinion.) I want you to stop thinking that extreme violence is the way to get people to do what you want, because you are morally wrong if you think that. I wish I could be surprised that someone who so claims to be against initiation of violence is so willing to to use violence as a response to verbal annoyance.

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