INTERVIEW Supporter of the cypherpunk movement, the French Julien Guitton considers that only bitcoin can protect his privacy. BFM Crypto met him.
In 1988 appeared the “Crypto-Anarchist Manifesto” by Timothy May, which aims to give individuals control over their privacy through cryptography. A few years later, in 1993, Eric Hugues published “A Cypherpunk Manifesto”. These founding texts, which are references for individuals who call themselves “crypto-anarchists”, gave true meaning to bitcoin, which appeared in 2009.
BFM Crypto met one of them, Frenchman Julien Guitton. Today, he is a staunch defender of this movement in France. He also produced a French translation of Eric Hughes’ manifesto, which he sends to people who request it, and here is an extract.
“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not a secret. A private matter is what an individual does not want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is what a individual does not want anyone to know. Privacy is the power to choose to reveal oneself to the world,” explained “A Cypherpunk Manifesto” by Eric Hugues, translated by Julien Guitton.
This 42-year-old computer fan explained to us the importance of bitcoin in protecting his privacy. For him, bitcoin is not a cryptocurrency: it is a currency.
BFM Crypto: When did you discover bitcoin?
Julian Guitton: I first learned about the cypherpunk movement, then discovered bitcoin, at the end of 2011. Then, I discovered the French Bitcoin community through CryptoFR slack. At that time, I was thinking a lot about economics and finance, especially after the financial crisis of 2008. That’s when I discovered the world of finance, and especially what a currency is in Aristotle’s sense. Actually, I’m not from the financial world, I wrote my first computer program at 9 years old and I worked in IT from 19 years old. I like the machine, sometimes it is more pleasant than man.
At that time, we were not talking about the blockchain, whose end came later in 2013. We were talking about mining, “proof of work”, double spending, the fight against censorship. We are talking more about the method that has made it possible to have systems where a third party is not required. There was a monetary aspect but there wasn’t really a blockchain ecosystem as it was developed today.
How do you approach bitcoin?
In a way, the state doesn’t want you to have a private life, but I have a private life thanks to bitcoin. I don’t want people to know how I manage my financial life. So of course, I won’t pay everything in bitcoin, I will also use fiat currency. But I prefer cash to bank card, I will use my credit card for some services, but if I want to take the train, travel or something else, I prefer to stay calm and bitcoin is a solution. When I hear an MEP say that having private keys is a regression compared to the current banking system, I am stunned.
Bitcoin to me is a currency, not a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin captures the principles of the unit of account, the store of value and the medium of exchange in the same way that Aristotle defined money. In addition, bitcoin must be pseudonymous (when I buy a magazine, the seller does not need to know who I am), bitcoin must be uncensorable (when I want to make a transaction I cannot stop doing it) and bitcoin must be immutable (no one can cheat on it, change the value or increase the number of units or tamper with the protocol). Bitcoin is humanity’s spare tire to avoid state capture.
For several years, French and European authorities have looked at bitcoin, seeking to better regulate it. What do you think?
I think bitcoin is about privacy and empowering people. In reality, France, like Europe, is not affected by bitcoin, because cryptos are not in their jurisdictions. Indeed, any desire to legislate bitcoin remains futile. MiCa wants to keep the old world in place (MiCa for Market in crypto assets, European regulation that should enter into force in Europe in 2024, Ed.). MiCa wants to control a market that is running away from them and that can no longer be taxed, we want to keep people out of it. Europe needs to miss all the MiCas before realizing it won’t work.
Similarly, Europe wants to launch its own digital central bank currency (MNBC) in 2026, but what would be the point for a citizen to choose between bitcoin that allows it to be free and a digital currency that can only be used in under certain conditions? MiCa will result in a mouse, it will be ignored by everyone and the United States first. All the players in Europe will move to places where it will be easier, it will be like the internet. Europe is again missing the turning point of a revolution, here in money.
However, a state can decide to ban bitcoin, right?
Yes, these scenarios are already considered by computer security cypherpunks. They engage in delusional thinking that resembles paranoia. I think these people who participate in the community are always ten steps ahead of what the State can do. The only state that can ban bitcoin is the United States, due to its reserve currency status (of the dollar, editor’s note). Wanting to ban bitcoin is like wanting to ban the dollar. Not even China.
If a State wants to ban bitcoin, it can do so and accept it, but people can still be on the blockchain, they can still send bitcoin transactions to each other through pigeons, yes it is possible. In fact, the moment a state chooses to ban bitcoin, cypherpunks will invent a new line of code to get around it. The truth is thanks to bitcoin we are free.