Financial Post | Business

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For all the regulatory crackdowns on Bitcoin in recent weeks, the cryptocurrency’s advocates remain unfailingly optimistic. Bitcoin is the future, they tell us; it heralds a future where private, stateless currencies will dethrone the dollar and other monetary dinosaurs.

Sorry, but Bitcoin isn’t the future. If anything, it’s a throwback to an earlier era, when private currencies circulated alongside government-sponsored money. In fact, if you strip away its technological trappings — the encryption, the peer-to-peer networks — and Bitcoin closely resembles these earlier private efforts.

This isn’t a comforting historical parallel. The alternative currencies of the past are long gone, thanks to a decades-long campaign by governments aimed at monopolizing the money supply. The lesson of their rise and fall is one that Bitcoin’s boosters would be foolish not to heed.

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Outside of libertarian circles, it has become conventional wisdom that it is both natural and…

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