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Nazis Cash in With Bitcoin

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COMMENT: After encountering problems advancing more conventional fund-raising methods, Nazi groups are prospering due to successful mining of Bitcoin.

The most successful Nazi miner of Bitcoin is Andrew “Weev” Auerenheimer: ” . . . . One neo-Nazi stands above the rest in his bitcoin usage: Andrew ‘weev’ Auernheimer, who’s received over $1 million in bitcoin, according to one report. Even though Auernheimer has withdrawn roughly $118,620 from his bitcoin wallet between late August and Wednesday, his remaining bitcoin store has been replenishing his wealth throughout the recent bitcoin boom. . . .”

This is not altogether surprising, in that Bitcoin’s foundations track as far to the right as can be.

We have explored Bitcoin in a number of programs–FTR #’s 760, 764, 770 and 785.

An important recent book by David Golumbia sets forth the technocratic fascist politics underlying Bitcoin. Known to veteran listeners/readers as the author of an oft-quoted article dealing with technocratic fascism, Golumbia has published a short, important book about the right-wing extremism underlying Bitcoin. (Programs on technocratic fascism include: FTR #’s 851, 859, 866, 867.)

In the excerpt below, we see disturbing elements of resonance with the views of Stephen Bannon and some of the philosophical influences on him. Julius Evola, “Mencius Moldbug” and Bannon himself see our civilization as in decline, at a critical “turning point,” and in need of being “blown up” (as Evola put it) or needing a “shock to the system.”

1.  “Neo-Nazi wealth is rapidly growing. Why? Bitcoin.” by Jack Smith IV; Mic; 12/01/2017

In many ways, white nationalists were the big losers after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August. First, they lost web hosting for neo-Nazi hives like Stormfront. Some far-right attendees lost access to Uber or their social media accounts. Others lost meeting venues and were driven out of subsequent public spaces during follow-up rallies. And of course, some attendees, such as those who were exposed in photos taken at the infamous torch-lit march the night before the rally, lost their jobs.

In that time, they were also essentially forced to invest in bitcoin, and after the cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise throughout 2017, that financial move has broadened their wealth significantly.

After the Charlottesville protests, many white nationalists lost access to money-transfer services like Apple Pay and PayPal, and therefore turned to bitcoin, doubling down on their investment or creating wallets to experiment with the apolitical cryptocurrency.

In the past few months, the price of bitcoin soared to record heights, reaching a trading price over $11,000 per coin on Wednesday. Throughout this boom, white nationalist wealth has grown, with some of the country’s most virulent celebrity racists often raking in thousands of dollars in a single day.

Bitcoin can be used anonymously, but in order to accept donations, white nationalists had to de-anonymize themselves. So John Bambenek, a cybersecurity researcher and threat analyst, created a Twitter bot to follow and collect this information. It’s from that bot, @NeoNaziWallets, that Mic has collated and graphed this behavior. Even so, while anyone can watch the money move in and out of accounts, it’s uncertain where the money travels to, who is contributing and how many other digital wallets are involved in the network of white supremacist bitcoin users.

The cryptocurrency is also pretty attractive to those who believe in anti-Semitic conspiracies about greedy, often assumed Jewish, overlords who engineer our society through control of central banks. In March, Richard Spencer declared bitcoin “the currency of the alt-right” — though that should be taken with a grain of salt. The alt-right will lay claim to anything from New Balance shoes to Papa John’s pizza if it suits them.

Bitcoin is the currency of the alt right.— Richard ???? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) March 18, 2017

Still, since Charlottesville, white nationalists who ramped up their investment in bitcoin have seen their virtual wealth grow.

The clearest case of such growth is with Counter-Currents, a publishing house for books like Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies and Toward the White Republic. From late August until Wednesday — our observation period for the data — the wallet for the far-right publisher held at about 7.7 bitcoin, including some tiny contributions (possibly donations) along the way. Its wealth more than doubled, netting them about $41,000 between Sept. 2 and Tuesday. And then by Wednesday it made $5,859 more.

Bitcoin’s been particularly useful for Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi leader who’s been in and out of the public eye since the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a potentially debilitating lawsuit against him. Bambenek has estimated that Anglin has taken in about $250,000 in bitcoin since 2014.

On Oct. 1, the Daily Stormer withdrew $64,353, reaping the early rewards of the bitcoin boom, shortly after making about $2,202 in just one day. Since then, the balance for the Daily Stormer has been fairly level, as whoever manages the wallet skims the occasional few hundred dollars off the account, with some withdrawals as high as $1,602.

Other white nationalist experimentations in bitcoin are fairly meager. Spencer — president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank — had about $3 in bitcoin sitting in an account until Nov. 22, when roughly $1,000 in bitcoin was transferred to the wallet. As of Wednesday, he had about $1,317. Vanguard America, a militant white nationalist group with a large contingent in Charlottesville, grew a small balance from roughly $218 on Aug. 27 to about $533 on Wednesday with no new deposits.

Andrew Auerenheimer: Guest at Glenn Greenwald’s party; apparent resident of Ukraine.

One neo-Nazi stands above the rest in his bitcoin usage: Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, who’s received over $1 million in bitcoin, according to one report. Even though Auernheimer has withdrawn roughly $118,620 from his bitcoin wallet between late August and Wednesday, his remaining bitcoin store has been replenishing his wealth throughout the recent bitcoin boom.

While bitcoin is an effective, apolitical escape pod for moving money away from services that become inhospitable to hate groups, many mainstream wallet providers can still de-platform white supremacists. After the Charlottesville rally, Coinbase allegedly kicked users off of its wallet-providing service for donating to the Daily Stormer.

In the meantime, all of the transactions moving in and out of the identified wallets are still in public.

“The disadvantage [for neo-Nazis] is that I can see their transactions, I can see when they’re spending money, and given effort and investment of time, I could figure out who is donating to them also,” Bambenek told Mic.

Bambenek said his next project is to chart the web of transactions around the neo-Nazi bitcoin wallets to try to determine where the money is going and, potentially, the identity of the donors using cryptocurrency to lend thousands of dollars to the white nationalist cause

2.  The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism by David Golumbia; University of Minnesota Press [SC]; pp. 73-75.

. . . . As objects of discourse, Bitcoin and the blockchain do a remarkable job of reinforcing the view that the entire global history of political thought and action needs to be jettisoned, or, even worse, that it has already been jettisoned through the introduction of any number of technologies. Thus, in the introduction to a bizarrely earnest and destructive volume called From Bitcoin to Burning Man and Beyond (Clippinger and Bollier 2014), the editors, one of whom is a research scientist at MIT, write, “Enlightenment ideals of democratic rule seem to have run their course. A continuous flow of scientific findings are undermining many foundational claims about human rationality and perfectibility while exponential technological changes and exploding global demographics overwhelm the capacity of democratic institutions to rule effectively, and ultimately, their very legitimacy.” Such abrupt dismissals of hundreds of years of thought, work, and lives follows directly from cyberlibertarian thought and extremist reinterpretations of political institutions:” What once required the authority of a central bank or a sovereign authority can now be achieved through open, distributed crypto-algorithms. National borders, traditional legal regimes, and human intervention are increasingly moot.” Like most ideological formations, these sentiments are highly resistant to being proven false by facts. . . .

. . . . Few attitudes typify the paradoxical cyberlibertarian mind-set of Bitcoin promoters (and many others) more than do those of “Sanjuro,” the alias of the person who created a Bitcoin “assassination market” (Greenberg 2013). Sanjuro believes that by incentivizing people to kill politicians, he will destroy “all governments, everywhere.” This anarchic apocalypse “will change the world for the better,” producing “a world without wars, dragnet Panopticon-style surveillance, nuclear weapons, armies, repression, money manipulation, and limits to trade.” Only someone so blinkered by their ideological tunnel vision could look at world history and imagine that murdering the representatives of democratically elected governments and thus putting the governments themselves out of existence would do anything but make every one of these problems immeasurably worse than they already are. Yet this, in the end, is the extreme rightist–anarcho-capitalist, winner-take-all, even neo-feudalist–political vision too many of those in the Bitcoin (along with other cryptocurrency) and blockchain communities, whatever they believe their political orientation to be, are working actively to bring about. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

One comment for “Nazis Cash in With Bitcoin”

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/02/goldman-sachs-exploring-bitcoin-trading-operation-report-says.html

    Goldman Sachs exploring bitcoin trading operation
    Goldman Sachs is looking into a new operation for trading bitcoin and other digital currencies.

    “In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them in this space,” a Goldman spokeswoman said.

    Unlike JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who called bitcoin a “fraud,” Goldman’s technical strategist has published analyses on bitcoin’s price.

    Evelyn Cheng | @chengevelyn
    Published 12:59 PM ET Mon, 2 Oct 2017 Updated 3:55 PM ET Mon, 2 Oct 2017
    CNBC.com

    Goldman Sachs exploring bitcoin trading operation, report says Goldman Sachs exploring bitcoin trading operation, report says
    4:08 PM ET Mon, 2 Oct 2017 | 00:53

    Goldman Sachs is considering the launch of a new trading operation focused on bitcoin and other digital currencies, a company official said.

    The investment bank’s exploration of a digital currency trading business is still in early stages and may not amount to anything substantial.

    “In response to client interest in digital currencies, we are exploring how best to serve them in this space,” a Goldman spokeswoman said in a statement.

    Goldman Sachs has taken a more serious look at bitcoin than its peers on Wall Street.

    Sheba Jafari, vice president on the bank’s FICC Market Strats team, was the only representative from a major Wall Street firm to issue reports on bitcoin’s price as the digital currency soared earlier this year.

    Reports from Morgan Stanley and a few other major banks have tended to focus more on the potential applications of blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin that eliminates the need for third-party intermediaries to transact money. Goldman also has a lavish web page explaining blockchain.

    Top names on Wall Street are divided on whether bitcoin’s development is a good thing.

    JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon directly spoke out against bitcoin last month and called the digital currency a “fraud” that “won’t end well.” Other well-respected investors such as Howard Marks have compared bitcoin to a pyramid scheme.

    On the other hand, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said last week that digital currencies like bitcoin are “more than just a fad.”

    Bitcoin briefly multiplied five times in price this year from below $1,000 to above $5,000. Although the digital currency plunged by about $2,000 after a Chinese crackdown in September, bitcoin recovered to its highest in nearly a month Monday at around $4,410, according to CoinDesk.

    Much of the gains come as institutional investors increase their bets on the digital currency. New “crypto-funds” are also launching. The latest tally from financial research firm Autonomous Next last week estimates about 75 such funds now exist.

    In the meantime, Goldman Sachs could benefit from a new trading operation in a highly volatile asset like digital currencies. The bank reported a 40 percent drop in bond trading in the second quarter.

    “The smartest Wall Street firms have an opportunity to lead the market in offering financial services to the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry,” Matthew Goetz, managing partner and CEO at cryptocurrency investment firm BlockTower Capital and a former vice president at Goldman Sachs.

    “I think it behooves the smart and more forward-thinking firms to be involved in cryptocurrency,” he said, “given the number of new services and business lines that will stem from it as this important new industry continues to build and institutionalize.”

    Posted by Mary Benton | December 13, 2017, 9:20 pm

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