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“The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism” by David Golumbia


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

An important new 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.”

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. . . .

 

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