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

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained HERE [1]. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by the fall of of 2017. WFMU-FM is pod­cast­ing For The Record–You can sub­scribe to the pod­cast HERE [2].

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PoliticsBitcoin [5]We have explored Bit­coin in a num­ber of pro­grams–FTR #‘s 760 [6], 764 [7], 770 [8] and 785 [9].

An impor­tant new book [10] by David Golum­bia sets forth the tech­no­crat­ic fas­cist pol­i­tics under­ly­ing Bit­coin [11]. 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 [12], 859 [13], 866 [14], 867 [15].)

In the excerpt below, we see dis­turb­ing ele­ments of res­o­nance with the views of Stephen Ban­non [16] and some of the philo­soph­i­cal influ­ences [17] on him. Julius Evola [18], “Men­cius Mold­bug” [17] 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. [10]

. . . . 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. . . .