Progressivism and Bitcoin are not opposed

While people often see the two as being at different ends of the political spectrum, Bitcoin is actually non-political technology designed to help everyone.

It is time to set the record straight. Too many who write or pontificate about Bitcoin don’t know what progressivism means in the political realm of US politics – looking at you Daniel Kuhn. In reality, many ideas among progressives and the left are fully aligned with Bitcoin’s mission.

“Progressive” is in fact an umbrella term which groups together many left-wing political ideologies under a set of demands that we consider be inalienable rights of every human being. These are education, health, a living wage and housing. It is true that progressives call on the government to protect and maintain these supposedly inalienable rights. However, do not believe that progressives and the left are defenders of the state simply because they demand better of it.

In practice, progressives do their best when they are not focusing on electoral politics. At the local level, progressives focus on self-help, unions and grassroots organization. These stem from the revolutionary anarchist tradition that arose out of the horrific working conditions during the first centuries of capitalism.

The goal of the revolutionary anarchist of the 19th century was the absolute dissolution of the state by any means necessary. Anarchists despised the state with a passion that surpassed anything Murray Rothbard could have expressed. The anarchists of the day engaged in guerrilla warfare and many died trying to destroy the state (Rothbard comfortably lived his life under the state, I might add). Progressives may not be trying to blow up the state these days, but their focus is on helping communities without government help.

Many assume that since Bitcoin inherently protects the right to property and individual ownership, it must be ideologically opposed to the beliefs of progressives. In fact, progressives are not averse to owning things, in general. It is about rent, interests and democratic enterprises. What progressives really want are savings without rent.

In fact, if you go back to classic 19th century economic discussions of a free market, this is what people like Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, David Ricardo and others were trying to figure out. . Thus, owning bitcoin is not in opposition to progressivism. Progressives are not inherently opposed to money, but simply to the way it is used as a means of control and power. Progressives and Bitcoiners oppose neoliberalism because, among other problems it has created, neoliberalism is supported by state violence.

As for the sole individual ownership of Bitcoin, this is just a misunderstanding of Bitcoin. Bitcoiners are very proud of El Zonte, El Salvador’s Bitcoin Beach experience. It is hailed as a model for a successful circular economy based on Bitcoin. Here, the developers of the Bitcoin Beach wallet realized that residents would benefit from a community custody option. In this case, the wallet makes it possible to designate a trusted member of the community as the holder of the private keys of the wallets of others. Here, responsibility is now associated with community trust, not individual responsibility.

The idea of ​​individual responsibility is unique to the West and even more so to the United States. Community identity is much more important in other parts of the world. Given that Bitcoin has performed so well in many developing countries where community is valued more than individuality, it’s hard to believe that Bitcoin is really only for those concerned with strict individualism.

Another interesting community-owned idea in Bitcoin is the federated currency (FediMint). Here, a community with some confidence among its members, can effectively co-own the Mint. This leads to a whole set of new ideas on community currencies backed by Bitcoin, which remind me a little of Paul Grignon’s ideas on self-issued credit but also the concept of Prodhoun’s popular bank, both coupled with the work of John. Nash. on the ideal money. There is so much here that progressives like!

The only real part of Bitcoin that seems ideologically opposed to progressives at the moment is the 21 million bitcoin cap. The main reason is that there are economic leaders in the movement who are followers of John Maynard Keynes. This probably stems from the Keynesian critique of neoclassical economics and the argument that markets do not tend towards full employment, among others.

Part of the desire for post-Keynesian approaches may be nostalgia for this long limited era of capitalism in the postwar period. In part, this is a seemingly pragmatic approach to smoothing out boom and bust cycles, in which Keynes argued that deficit spending should occur during economic crises and be limited during surpluses. Hyman Minsky, another mainstay of economics for progressives, attempted to unite Joseph Schumpeter (Austrian school) and Keynes to figure out how to stabilize an unstable economy. By the way, this unification (written in the early 1980s) provided a prophetic prediction of the Great Recession.

Even though there seems to be a contradiction here between Keynesian ideas and Bitcoin’s monetary policy, some of the more progressive economists, like Michael Hudson and Steve Keen, appear regularly in Max Keiser’s “The Keizer Report” for their scathing critiques of the banking system, dollar hegemony, quantitative easing and neoclassical economics. Are you surprised? Progressive economists get it, they are just not convinced that the existing system can work under a capped monetary policy. It is really the problem of understanding. What Bitcoiners are really advocating is a whole new system.

Today, modern monetary theory (MMT) has taken hold of the progressive movement as it also centers the idea of ​​a full employment guarantee where the government supports private sector employment with uncompetitive jobs. Supporters of MMT also believe they can control the money supply and inflation through fiscal and monetary policy. They argue that by bringing all the productive forces online (no more, no less), inflation can be properly managed. However, it has never been tried; the Federal Reserve Board does not practice real MMT at this time. To be clear, even supporters of MMT are critical of quantitative easing.

Nor does it mean that the left wholeheartedly approves of MMT. There is no shortage of criticism of MMT from the left, you just have to look for them. Even so, Bitcoin still appeals to a progressive, even if it is a supporter of MMT, simply because of concerns about the quality of its money over time. All you really need to do is explain to progressives how inflation decoupled from living wage adjustments is a silent killer of their wages. What is the alternative? Save some of that purchasing power in the long run by “houdling” bitcoin, of course.

Progressives are well aware of the damage caused by the Federal Reserve and the government during the Great Recession. Progressives supported Occupy Wall Street because many of them lost their homes to illegal foreclosures. Progressives must, however, be reminded that the ivory towers of central banks are no more our friends than are the mega-banks. We can do better to educate our progressive colleagues about money as technology and the idea that we can have a different economic system where a $ 21 million cap works.

To stimulate this idea of ​​a different economic system, let’s pull out of the degrowth movement. Degrowth encompasses many ideas, but the main one is that our economic system must be linked to the capacity of our planet to sustain life. Considering the ease with which the banking system generates money (has anyone compared the S&P 500 chart to the graph of the hockey puck on CO2?) And the obvious trends that our gross domestic product has increased, our carbon emissions too, it just seems logical that we have a cap somewhere.

In the degrowth literature, there have been discussions about tying a currency to the amount of energy produced. Bitcoin’s network is supported by access to energy resources. Its mining protocol is based on the price of electricity. It also has the ability to bring wasted and stranded energy online. This means that the network grows with a speed limit. We can plan entire savings around this prospect.

In addition, Bitcoin disintermediates the banking system and puts banking operations not only in the hands of the individual but also of the communities (which Occupy Wall Street advocated). Communities and / or cooperatives (as in the Autonomous People’s Economy of Rojava) can issue their own community guaranteed loans using bitcoin as a medium. There is a lot to explore here and progressives (and leftists more broadly) can really lead the way.

The reality is not that Bitcoin has to be rebranded to fit a progressive narrative. It is that Bitcoiners – and non-Bitcoiners – must realize that while the network’s genesis block was a political attack on the central banking system, this sentiment is not exclusive to American libertarianism. This is why progressives are in the Bitcoin space, because we know that Bitcoin is for everyone, and we’re going to make sure everyone, not just libertarians, knows that there is a way out of the system. and that Bitcoin can help us find the exit.

This is a guest article by Margot Paez. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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