BITCOIN, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology can be a useful tool for the left that shouldn’t be abandoned to right wing libertarians.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention – of which there are only 21 million – forced its way back into the economic news cycle in December after sharply rising in value to almost $40,000.
For some, it’s a ‘hype cycle’ that is traded like a stock; for others, it’s a safe store of value that will set them up for life.
However, the Blockchain Socialist, who used to work with the technology and who’s goal “is to present a positive vision regarding blockchain for the Left so that we can realize its full potential to further our goals and work against the institutions of capitalism”, says the left is missing a big opportunity with blockchain.
He told Redaction Politics: “Bitcoin was not the first attempt at digital cash, but all attempts at it came from a very anti-establishment point of view – and attracted a lot of gold bugs.
“I think this synthesis made it appealing for right wing libertarians. So bitcoin came to be marketed as “digital gold” as a way to sell it and this is something much more appealing to the political right then the left.
“It’s also an extremely speculative asset. These things combined with the often toxic tendencies in these communities leaves a bad impression to those on the left understandably so.
“This left it open for the right wing to dominate the space and is a reason why I felt the need to start my platform and give a space for the left to speak.”
Cryptocurrency, which is said to be a currency that takes power away from the banks and into the hands of the people, has already been harnessed by some socialist nations in South America.
“It might be interesting to look into how Venezuela is using crypto actually, if you want to look at it that way,” he said.
“Venezuela is setting up mining operations in order to have an income to get around economic sanctions and make trades with other sanctioned countries.
“This is not unlike how Wikileaks responded to losing access to funds in banks and PayPal when they were refused service.
“Instead of trying to attempt to reclaim their bank money, they opened up donations to bitcoin and have been able to survive to a certain extent.
“This is also similarly how a website like Scihub stays afloat which is actually run by an openly communist PhD student in Georgia. She accepts bitcoin from people who want to thank her for making a site that makes access to scientific research free rather than behind journal paywalls.”
It can also be linked with Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), an economic philosophy endorsed by leftist academics which calls for higher public spending – even when a nation is in a deficit.
“I’m not an expert in MMT, but I know this connection with MMT and crypto is fairly new,” he said.
“I think the two spaces are slowly starting to get a bit closer to each other but one of the issues is that the crypto space generally has a more “commodity theory” of money (think limited supply in bitcoin) while MMT is more of a mix of a state and credit theory of money.
“My view is that crypto does not need to assume this position and having one or the other is more a matter of a software design question than an inherent property of cryptocurrency using blockchain.
“There is a small but growing space of blockchain projects however that I think are starting to shed the conservative economic assumptions of bitcoin and move more toward something like MMT.”
The Blockchain Socialist claimed that Mark Alizart, the author of ‘Cryptocommunism’, said that Marx likely would not have cared for Bitcoin as he was sceptical of all the other alternative money proponents in his day – but he thinks that he would be interested in Ethereum because of it’s use of “gas” for transaction fees.
He added: “In his writing, Marx disagreed with classical economists in using the thermodynamic analogy of a system in homeostasis for the economy and instead preferred using the analogy of an engine.”
The Blockchain Socialist runs a blog and podcast of the same name to explore ways for blockchain to be used to accomplish the Left’s political goals. You can find his website here or his subreddit, r/cryptoleftists, here.
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