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    Bitcoin is Borderless: How Decentralization and Permissionlessness Grant Autonomy Across Political Jursidictions



    Bitcoin is an ephemeral digital currency. It doesn’t have a physical address, or a specific place you can track it down. It’s everywhere. This is what gives Bitcoin its superpowers, what makes it a truly decentralized and globally accessible monetary network. Your bitcoin isn’t stored in your wallet but at Bitcoin addresses recorded by every computer running a Bitcoin node all over the world. Your wallet simply stores the private keys that allow you to control bitcoin at those addresses.

    That means that your Bitcoin can be accessed from anywhere in the world. In this way, Bitcoin gives you superpowers as well. You can “take” your Bitcoin with you wherever you go. All you need to do is bring your private keys with you, and it is accessible and spendable from any point on the planet where you can access the internet.

    This can wind up being one of the most valuable and important abilities in a world that is becoming increasingly politically and economically unstable. Every day hundreds of thousands of people for one reason or another are picking up everything they can carry and leaving their home country for somewhere else. Somewhere that is safer, somewhere with more economic security and opportunities, somewhere they will not be persecuted for political or religious reasons.

    The problem with doing this, is inevitably you have to cross a border. Generally, that means, except in the most extreme circumstances, dealing with customs agents employed by your government. Governments worldwide place extreme restrictions on financial assets, money, and other valuables you may cross the border with. They don’t like when people try to remove monetary goods from their local economy without permission.

    Attempting to flee your country for your own safety or to attain better opportunities is greatly complicated by this reality. In many cases, it means having to leave behind savings, valuables or anything the government would not allow you to bring with you when leaving.

    Bitcoin is the answer to this problem.

    Why Bitcoin is So Effective at Crossing Borders

    Your Bitcoin is accessible from everywhere in the world, you just need to keep your private keys with you. And typically, wallets allow you to restore your private keys using a 12-24 word seed phrase. Carrying 12-24 words with you is infinitely easier than a bundle of cash, or large amounts of gold or jewelry. Traditional assets are bulky, physical, and identifiable.

    Bitcoin is Permissionless

    Bitcoin is permissionless, as the ability for network participants to join and leave the network at will is not mediated by a centralized party. The agency of individuals to participate is solely at their discretion. By virtue of existing outside of the traditional banking and financial system, Bitcoin’s supranational qualities make it uniquely fit for entering and exiting national jurisdictions.

    Pseudonymity is a key component of Bitcon’s permissionless nature. By possessing a private key to sign transactions, individuals can access and control their wealth regardless of their relationship with their country of residence. While there are caveats in that individuals incur risk in transgressing regulation, and must take responsibility to protect their privacy (for example, running a node can help protect your privacy when interacting with the Bitcoin network).

    Bitcoin is Decentralized

    Enabling Bitcoin’s permissionlessness is its decentralization. With a globally distributed network of miners and validating nodes, the Bitcoin ledger has amassed resilience to control by centralized entities including companies and governments.

    The central enabling constraint of Bitcoin as a money – its 21 million supply cap – is also a key factor in its suitability for individuals to retain wealth between national jurisdictions. While the public-private key architecture of the network is of course beneficial, it would be much less impactful (and likely obsolete) if it were not for the fact that Bitcoin’s sound monetary policy enables wealth to be stored for an indefinite period of time.

    By existing on computers around the world across political jurisdictions, and continually utilizing proof-of-work consensus to ensure the integrity of the ledger every 10 minutes, both access and fidelity of one’s wealth can be retained over time.

    The Security of Cryptography

    Access to and security of private keys are another critical aspect when it comes to transcending national borders. Bitcoin private keys are typically 256-bit numbers, meaning that the probability of guessing a private key – known as a “brute force” method – is statistically incredibly unlikely. So unlikely, in fact, that you are more likely to select a specific atom from all that currently exist in the universe than you are to randomly guess a bitcoin private key.

    It should be noted that this security relies on an unproven (and debatably unprovable) assumption that P!=NP, which is the basis for cryptographic security in general. Nuances aside, the cryptographic nature of Bitcoin private keys provides a nearly impenetrable bulwark against confiscation – another essential component that makes Bitcoin a useful tool for transcending international borders.

    Wrapping Up

    Traditional mechanisms for storing and transferring wealth – gold, fiat currency, commodities and even art – can achieve their stated outcomes, but fall short of providing an efficient, secure and reliable means of doing so. Bitcoin, as the first truly decentralized instance of digital cash, surpasses its competitors in providing permissionless access and financial freedom to its users.

    When it comes to crossing borders, and existing without the auspices of governmental authorities, the cryptographic, sound and immutable qualities of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention are a step-change in how individuals can express their agency and autonomy. While each of Bitcoin’s fundamental qualities on their own are indeed useful, in combination, they offer an increasingly unstoppable means for self-sovereignty that puts individuals back in control of their wealth.

    Hopefully now, if you didn’t already, you can understand the immense power that Bitcoin offers people in protecting and maintaining control of their money in even the worst of circumstances someone can find themselves in. It truly is a superpower. 



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