42.36433° N, -71.26189° E
Brandeis University, MA
“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”
An individual rights to privacy is one of the major political pillars upon which Bitcoin was built. Moulded by libertarian rhetoric, refined in purpose by the Cypherpunks, the idea of the internet as a forum for anonymous and pseudonymous life had in the years leading up to 2008 been placed in significant jeopardy. Following on from September 11 attacks, governments globally increased their invasion of their citizen’s private lives to a scale never before seen, culmination in 2007 with the development of PRISM. It was against this invasion of privacy that Satoshi wrote, “we can win a major battle in the [political] arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years.”
Nearly a century earlier in 1928, Walter Brandeis sat across the US Supreme Court and envisaged with prophetic accuracy the future Satoshi would go on to inherit - proclaiming that the “progress of science in furnishing the Government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wiretapping”. Author of the seminal text on privacy, ‘The Right to Privacy’ in 1890, Brandeis laid the legal and conceptual groundwork for the our modern conception of privacy. Throughout his life, Brandeis railed against encroaching government, corporate monopolies and public corruption. He was in the words of Professor Steve Whitfield, “the single most import figure in the history of the concept of privacy”.
An advocate for financial decentralisation and the opposition of the financial class, he published another prescient and seminal text ‘Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It’, again forewarning the excesses of a too big to fail banking system.
In all of this, Brandeis encapsulates the spirit of Nakamoto almost a century before their birth.