A panel of five Bitcoiners took the stage at Bitcoin 2022 to discuss the topic “Becoming a Sovereign Individual.” The panel included Guy Swann of Bitcoin Audible; Pascal Gauthier, CEO of Ledger; Parker Lewis, head of business development at Unchained Capital; Robert Breedlove, founder and CEO of Parallax Digital; and Buffalo Bills’ quarterback, Matt Barkleys.


The conversation spanned topics ranging from what sovereignty means to freedoms, to rules and regulations that inhibit sovereignty and what other possibilities exist for moving beyond the state to enable sovereignty.


Swann moderated the panel while Gauthier, Lewis, Breedlove and Barkleys answered questions about sovereignty. The discussion was centered around books such as, “The Sovereign Individual: Mastering The Transition To The Information Age” by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. The book details the history and then collapse of the current governmental, economic and monetary system and the rise of the internet, digital economy and digital money.


Swann started out with the statement that, “Sovereignty is not objective; it means something different to each person and is a question of degree and not a binary.” He asked each panelist how they view sovereignty.

Gauthier views his work at Ledger as empowering people to hold their own keys and keeping part of their digital life to themselves so that their life and money is not captured by banks and other institutions. He also discussed how the standard subscription service of current digital life means you pay and then own nothing at the end of the subscription. With bitcoin and cold storage, this monetary digital part of yourself did not previously belong to you, but now does, thus making you more sovereign.


Lewis views sovereignty as difficult to define but similar to freedom in the way freedom is also by degree. “Money is a tool that allows you to be more dependent on everyone else but less dependent on one person. Money allows you to pursue the life you want. However, this tool has been corrupted by the legacy monetary system and Bitcoin brings it back to oneself.” Lewis also said, “Sovereignty and Bitcoin means an individual can produce value, and no other entity prevents that individual from taking that value and going out in the world and doing what they see fit.”


Breedlove answered, “‘Sov’ and ‘reign’ is like when a king reigns over his people and that ultimately sovereignty is the authority to act as you see fit. Sovereign is he who can make the exception. If someone can make an exception over the rules, then they are sovereign over you. People can opt out of this with Bitcoin and optimally reign over themselves. Bitcoin maximizes the sovereignty of those who use it.”

Barkley believes Bitcoin gives freedom but also power over your own freedoms. Barkley and many panelists quoted the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.”


However, Swann reframed it, “Money is the root of society.”


Gautier expanded both phrases with, “The current monetary system is the root of all evil.”


Breedlove said, “Essentially, the key to sovereignty is giving people the power to hold the fruit of their labor in something that cannot be violated. And then let the market sort it out by taking coercion out of the equation.”


Barkley spoke about the value of full authority over self and how people are coming into community to assert their full authority over themselves.


Gautier expanded to say, “Nothing has value unless we agree and say it has value and that is how more and more people agree on value; Bitcoin has become more valuable.”


Swann asked, “If sovereignty is necessarily extralegal, because you’re asking for laws to be friendly to sovereignty, aren’t you then not sovereign? Does sovereignty necessitate non-jurisdiction?”


Lewis answered, “There needs to be something beyond the state, other than fiat. Ultimately enough people need to want freedom or it won’t happen. Money is just one of the tools and freedom is far deeper than any tool.” Lewis believes anything formed to enable that freedom cannot be dictated by a legal structure; it must be beyond it.

Breedlove answered the same question by saying, “The rule of law is a nonviolent way to resolve disputes of property. However, right now there are no clear rules in money and so property is being violated. Maximize sovereignty and you maximize sanity.”


Barkley believes we long for some kind of structure but when we are constantly being told what to do and how to do it without good intentions or actions, we rebel against that authority. “Bitcoin is an answer because the rules are clear and the intent of freedom is good.”


Swann relayed a Dee Hock quote that tied back to both Breedlove and Barkley’s point, “Complex rules and regulation lead to simple and stupid behavior. Simple and clear rules lead to complex intelligent behavior.” This is known as the Hock Principle.


Right now, the rules are being manipulated and changed and the players act poorly, so the game is falling apart.


The panel culminated with Swann suggesting that you can build a new society and structure with a community of like-minded people who share your values of sovereignty and freedom. In the opinion of this author, this may be a greater option in the privileged, white West, but it less possible in countries or areas where sovereignty, freedom, private property violations and coercion are much greater concerns and of much greater magnitudes.

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