For all of you clutching at your chests in horror, put those racing hearts back to rest–I’m as big a crypto fan as they come. But that doesn’t change the simple fact that Bitcoin–like all tools–is neutral in nature. It can just as easily be used for tyranny as for freedom.

Look at one of most freedom-lovers’ favorite tools: the gun. The gun can be used to protect your life and the lives of those around you. It can be used to defend your property. It can even be used to hunt game for food or sport. All good, freedom-friendly things.

But the gun can also be used to threaten the innocent. To oppress the unpopular. To control and murder.

One tool. Multiple uses. Whether a tool’s use furthers freedom or tyranny depends on the ideas held by the tool-wielder.

A Bitcoiner who subscribes to the idea of freedom can work wonders with it. Can send any amount of money to family and friends, across any political boundary, almost instantly and for about five cents. Can hide his savings away from the ravages of inflation and the very real threat of government-sponsored bank “bail-ins.” Can trade seamlessly with so-called “third world” inhabitants, who lack bank access but have a trusty smartphone.

But what about an advocate of cryptocurrency who rather prefers tyranny? I wrote an article yesterday about one such development already in the works. A “nonprofit” born of MIT called ID3 is developing identity-tracking software that they hope will be used for digital commerce like the so-called “driver’s license” is used in transportation. Whereas government claims ownership of all the roads and tries to force you to get revocable permission to drive, ID3 hopes their software will become your “commerce license.” They envision a future in which businesses are forbidden from selling to customers who don’t first submit their ID3 identification pack for tracking and monitoring.

Sound like ID3 is up in the night? I wish. In fact, they developed the software side-by-side with government employees. This is another testament to the fact that the human power of governments alone is not nearly enough to control entire populations. It takes the ready and the willing–like ID3’s development team–to actively assist in their own surveillance and oppression. Bureaucrats couldn’t have developed this sophisticated software on their own. They’re literally not smart enough. They require the acquiescence and even assistance of those they hope to rule to make any progress as would-be rulers.

Though I hoped it would be true, Jeffrey Tucker was wrong–Bitcoin itself will not end the nation-state. It is just a tool, neutral like all tools, and so ripe in its potential for both freedom and tyranny. It’s only ideas–good ideas–that can end statism. Though many cryptocurrency fans are still mired in the mindset of serfdom, there are many others who aren’t. It is through working, trading and partying with those who hold good ideas that the free economy can and will continue to grow.