Famed bitcoin gadfly and early adopter, cryptoanarchist Amir Taaki, ghosted for long enough to generate theories galore. Resurfacing, it turns out he was in a tucked-away part of northern Syria. He speaks with news.Bitcoin.com about his transformation as a result.
Syria Births a New Man
An exclusive screener provided to news.Bitcoin.com of The New Radical, a documentary by Adam Bhala Lough set for wider release in December, is mostly about the trials and tribulations of Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson, and it’s well-worth the shekels to watch. It’s found media, exclusive interviews, peaks inside two interesting lives, and has some wonderful animation moving the arc along. If you get a chance, don’t miss it.
Mr. Wilson’s co-conspirator in many ways, Amir Taaki, is briefly profiled after his return from Rojava, a break-away, rogue, cobbled-together area of land northeast of Syria.
It’s painfully clear the Amir Taaki, jovial and carefree, European anarchist Peter Pan, is gone. His famed lyrical and poetic speaking style is still there, although a bit muted for seriousness’ sake.
He is weathered. He is bearded. He is ashen. He is strident.
Mr. Taaki’s earnest temperament remains, however. It is fueled these days by an ennui toward a dying West, as he sees it, shifting his focus toward tradition, duty, nation-building.
The Iranian-British boy’s impish gaiety is something more akin now to a revolutionary figure, a Che Guevara for crypto, if you will.
Opinions expressed within are Mr. Taaki’s and, where stated, my own. Mr. Taaki is presented as someone of note in the wider Bitcoin community. He is a generous interview, and he’s certainly newsworthy.
In a wide-ranging and sprawling conversation, he explains to news.Bitcoin.com what compelled him to Syria, the intellectual road he’s exploring, and what the future holds.
The News.Bitcoin.Com Interview with Amir Taaki
news.Bitcoin.com: Like most, I believe, we got to know you through early Bitcoin and cryptocurrency conversations, and, of course, your collaborations with Cody Wilson. Where is Dark Wallet and that project currently? I’ve heard loads of rumors.
Amir Taaki: Dark Wallet will happen. It’s not about creating a single product, but about a community guided by a mission. That creates sustainability long term to continue advancing an idea.
Currently I’m reviewing a lot of literature to formulate a new body of ideas. This set of teachings will question fundamental ideas and provide a new road map for this hacker movement.
I remember reading this huge news article saying I’d quit Bitcoin because I realized I couldn’t win against the inevitable push for government ownership over Bitcoin.
Many of our ideas about technology don’t sufficiently explain our situation now or are misguided. We used to believe that universal internet access would liberate society. People would have easy access to a global store of knowledge.
Instead technology is serving the opposite role of suppressing humanity rather than pushing it upwards. We seriously need to re-evaluate our work.
news.Bitcoin.com: You sort of fell off the map for a while after a rush of very mainstream media coverage. I found out you ventured to Rojava. What compelled you there?
Amir Taaki: I remember reading this huge news article saying I’d quit Bitcoin because I realized I couldn’t win against the inevitable push for government ownership over Bitcoin. Imagine reading that garbage in a war. Garbage a journalist just made up.
Here’s the truth, I discovered about the movement of Rojava and started to study it’s ideas on economics and society. I dismissed it before as a communist movement but when I read closer and studied the history, I realized it was an anarchist movement. Their aim is to challenge modernity and create a locally autonomous economy.
Then when Rojava came under heavy attack by ISIS in Kobane, I felt duty bound as someone who has committed themselves to struggling for anarchist ideology. That if I would not lend my help in whatever capacity is needed during this most crucial moment of their survival then it would make me a hypocrite forever regretful of my cowardice.
Of course I was sure I was going to die. I saw and experienced a nation undergoing a huge social transformation in the middle of a war where your friends die. It’s brought me a deeper understanding of life, and enriched me to have more power in my work.
news.Bitcoin.com: Rojava has received a lot of press, especially for its empowering of women against Daesh, but I imagine the experience is quite a bit deeper once you’re actually on the ground, there. Can you go into your first, your initial impressions, when you hit the streets?
Amir Taaki: I am strongly influenced by their ideas. People have to understand that revolutionaries in Rojava are not peasants but guerillas who have been fighting an insurgency for decades in the mountains studying philosophy. They are very ideological, and philosophically enlightened with a wide knowledge of history, philosophy, economics, religion, sociology, … many subjects. It’s a requirement for a revolutionary guerilla to undergo regular training in these subjects, not simply know how to fight.
It had a big effect to meet people explaining to me the ideas of anarchist writers, and quoting western philosophers like Nietzsche and Foucault. Of course the situation is very difficult and I had to adapt fast, becoming fluent in Kurdish, learning how things work, making friends and gaining my autonomy. In the beginning it was very difficult, but with determination I overcame my obstacles.
George Orwell’s book Homage to Catalonia is the best book people can read to get a sense of what it’s like. When I read that book on the front it greatly boosted my morale and gave me a sense of perspective. Things can be very… frustrating.
END, PART 1.
What do you think? Is Amir Taaki right about the broader Bitcoin community? What do you think of his efforts in Rojava? Tell us in the comments below!
Images courtesy of: AP Photo/Manu Brabo, Amir Taaki, LINKS, Ubuntu, Andy Greenberg.
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