This article has been first published on Rebellion Research website: https://www.rebellionresearch.com/blog/why-does-nobody-want-crypto
The 2008 financial crisis has been without any doubt the source of a significant decrease in trust towards banks by the population. During a crisis, people tend to experience anxiety, fear, confusion, and disbelief. This was the perfect opportunity and context for the genesis of a new system that is the proud legacy of the 30 years old crypto-anarchist movement. This system is Bitcoin, and, more specifically, the blockchain. This single event created an industry valued at more than 1 trillion dollars in January 2021.
Created by the mysterious and still unknown Satoshi Nakamoto, they were presented as the saviors and as the best alternative to the supposed evil banks whose only purpose is considered to be to make more money by siphoning the wealth of the people through money supply extension, debt, and interest.
Before considering the solution itself, it seems legit to ask ourselves if this whole system wasn’t only built by opportunists who used the population’s fear to promote their ideology and try to establish their system. There is no such thing as a perfect system, the current one doesn’t make an exception, but is Bitcoin the best solution or merely the least worst? What ideology is behind it and to what end this solution has been brought to the people? Is it only suited for an anarchist world as a reflection of its creators? Do people want a new system?
With all of those elements in mind, we can analyze the solution proposed by Bitcoin and the blockchain technology. The blockchain acts as a ledger that allows people to exchange Bitcoins from a wallet to another.
The principal keyword is decentralized. This is the main goal of Bitcoin, middlemen must be suppressed and interactions have to be with the least third-party influence possible. To achieve this goal, Bitcoin leverages cryptographic technologies to allow each of its users to be part of the transaction inscription and verification process (mining). The blockchain is the transaction ledger distributed between all of its users. A system of majority rules and validates the transactions that will be added and accepted into the ledger.
Those features make the blockchain immutable, extremely safe, and transparent. In fact, at the opposite of centralized servers, having more users in a decentralized network increases its security.
On the other hand, Bitcoin is killing identity, the whole system is pseudonymous not anonymous, and its decentralized nature makes it very hard to put regulations on since there is almost no concept of ownership. In case of problems with the blockchain technology, there is no one to complain to, and no one can be held responsible for any problem. A world ruled by the blockchain suggests that this system is perfect and without any security breach. It also means that everyone should put a lot of trust in it, even more than the trust put in banks.
We can clearly see the natural and strong influence of the crypto-anarchist values in those features.
Let’s zoom out a bit, the whole crypto industry takes its roots in terms of values and vision in the crypto-anarchists movement. One of the most used sources of inspiration for Bitcoin’s mission is the (couldn’t be more explicit) crypto-anarchist manifesto published in 1988.
As their name suggests, they are indeed anarchists, and therefore share all of their values. Their mission is to protect privacy, political freedom, and economic freedom using computer technology. The manifesto advocates for encrypted exchanges, total anonymity, total freedom of speech, and total freedom of trade. It incites reactions with hostility to whatever authority that may try to act against one of those values.
Since the European Renaissance, the concept of individual liberty has been carried throughout the years, and have experienced rebirths in different forms. Its biggest threat is to have an institution with power and influence which can remove or restrain them. As Robespierre says, “Man was born for happiness and for freedom […] and everywhere society degrades and oppresses it!”. So if you consider the society itself as a liberty taker, it becomes legitimate to be willing to have a system without any middlemen or institution between human interactions. By giving the control and the power back to the people, you give them their total freedom and responsibility for their acts and avoid having the power held by only one actor.
If you consider the question with a utilitarian approach, all human interests should be considered the same way but the global interest should prevail over individual ones.
The past centuries have shown us that when a trusted third party is incompetent, corrupt, or unjust, the best alternative was to replace it with a more sophisticated one: abolition of royalty, division of power in the state.
Anarchy has never proven to be a good solution. The reason is simple: people always need regulation and rules, because if they don’t have any, innovation can endanger the market, especially when it comes to critical and vital sectors such as health and banking.
So, at first sight, almost nobody would want complete freedom; it’s easier to be ruled and to have a blueprint to follow. People have a guarantee on the quality and what to expect when using a service.
People tend to fear risk, instability, and unforeseeable future, this is why they are willing to get into debt for many years, to purchase a home, the exact opposite of the previously quoted fears.
Furthermore, asking people to drop out from a system they’ve always known and trusted is asking them to take a big risk.
The tour de force of Bitcoin resides in the fact that it appeals to the primary instincts on which capitalism is based according to anarchists, greed, and pursuit of wealth and power. People are getting into Bitcoin for profit, not for technology. By this circuitous way, Bitcoin is getting more and more users and gets stronger every day, even though its users might not be loyal and thus fragilize it. Without knowing it, people are feeding this system and the crypto-anarchist vision. Satoshi Nakamoto ended up using the very thing he was fighting against to make his vision the reality.
Written by Adam Rida
Edited by Dima Korolev & Alexander Fleiss