Why does independent liberal media dismiss Bitcoin?
It's open, it's inclusive, you'd think they'd love it.
This article is inspired by Nicole Dobrow's article on reframing Bitcoin. Here I want to add to this discussion with some of the reasons I think liberals have surface level dismissals of Bitcoin; specifically in independent media.
I watch a lot of independent liberal media and I agree with quite a lot of (though not all) progressivism. One place I strongly disagree is on Bitcoin, or "crypto" as the dismissals frequently treat this incredibly varied space as a monolith. Most recently this happened when watching The Majority Report where cryptocurrency was simply laughed off as being the ponzi scheme of the cryptobros (paraphrasing here, but that was the gist).
There are plenty of reasons for why this is, and it no doubt varies by person, but in this post I want to touch on two thoughts. One of which is the exploitative nature of present day finance, and the other is the tendency to listen to incumbents.
One of the things I appreciate about independent liberal media is how well researched, read, and reasoned its practitioners are. When it comes to cryptocurrency though it feels as if they've simply stopped at the idea that all financial systems are inherently and equally exploitative.
Listening solely to incumbents is a common critique that liberals have of systems. And it makes sense, of course an existing oppressive system is going to having negative things to say about a competitor. So why listen only to the incumbents here?
Let's get into it.
They know money is oppressive
Money has been used as a tool of oppression forever. If you can control someone's money you can stop them from fleeing. If you can stop them from getting it in the first place you slow their power and progress. Why would this new money be any different? Without at least strong government oversight wouldn't it be even worse?
Language was once exploitative and downright oppressive, in plenty of cases it still is. Access to written language in particular has been regularly restricted to keep people anywhere from obedient to enslaved. Today many of us in free, and not so free places have unprecedented access to written language that we never had before thanks to the Internet. Liberals may rightly take issue with hate speech and the violence contained within it but you'd be hard pressed to find a liberal who would be for increasing illiteracy.
Yet here we are with money, with old antiquated systems that have a long and rich legacy of oppression, of exclusion, of inequitable outcomes between people based on no basis other than their skin color or surname. And here we are with a new money, a magic Internet money that will do to money what the Internet did to written language. It will increase access, increase freedom, and increase equity. Yet many liberals simply do not want it, preferring to slap legislative fixes onto the old broken system. All finance is exploitative so they want to stick to the devils they know.
They listen to incumbents
From voting rights, to bodily autonomy, to language, to even religion — history has shown time and time again that freedom, liberty, and progress are all incompatible with the existing hegemony; with the incumbents.
And yet despite the well known issues within these systems modern day Progressive Democrats generally want to regulate away cryptocurrencies; or at least bring total surveillance to them. They genuinely believe that crypto is nothing more than a "shadow bank". Shadow bank of course being a fearmongering phrase to discredit individual financial privacy and liberty.
The arguments against “crypto” make no mention of the people who use it to escape inflation. People who use it to save the value of their money in a system outside of one designed to exploit them. And those who simply wish to gamble somewhere with better odds than state run lotteries and stock markets that we know are rigged against the common person.
You'd be hard pressed to find a liberal who laughs at a poor person stuffing dollars under their mattress to outright avoid banks or because they lack access. But when it's crypto it's simply "haven’t they ever heard of Venmo?". Independent liberal media seems to know what’s wrong with banks until it’s banks vs. crypto.
What do you think?
So these are a couple of ideas and I have many more. Ultimately every person will have their own reasons. But what do you think? Should I write more on this topic?
Progressive liberals often put their hopes for progress in the context of a government solution. Crypto is harder for government to regulate (and probably harder to tax). Therefore, it threatens government revenue, and with it, the welfare state. If you think increased government regulation and redistribution is the solution to major world challenges, I think you are right to be suspicious of crypto.