We take a look at how cryptoanarchism and blockchain can be tied to socialist ideas
Shortly towards the end of 2017, I was approached by a professor from UCLA for ghostwriting some articles, and who, for apparent reasons, preferred to remain anonymous. He told me about his friend, Vít Jedlička, President of the Free Republic of Liberland, an anti-state founded in 2015 and located between Croatia and Serbia, on the west bank of the Danube river. The country has no army, no taxes, no state debt, minimal regulations, and no passports. Its citizenship conditions are that you respect individual rights, including property rights, freedom of speech, and the right to keep and bear arms. Also, that you have no criminal record, or Nazi or Communist party background. Criminal offences include “polluting the environment” and acting as a “public nuisance”. To date, Liberland is governed by only 10 to 20 people chosen by electronic voting. Its money is Bitcoin with an official cryptocurrency called Merit in progress.
Liberland seeks to create “a society where righteous people can prosper with minimal state regulations and taxes.”
The country’s goals overlapped with those of my idealistic profesor, who was involved in some of the following schemes:
I. A blockchain for no more taxes
The government forcibly directs a certain amount of your income (called “taxes”) to channels you may oppose, such as its War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, War on Immigrants, and so forth. Crypto-anarchists see this as nothing less than theft.
To that end, crypto-anarchists, like this UCLA professor, collaborated to plan a decentralized architecture, where participants all around the world parlay funds to a central cache on its platform. Each user mentions needs that their regions may have, such as a school superintendent for Des Plaines, Illinois, a fire chief for Saint-Georges, Paris, France and so forth. Concerned blockchain members vote on qualified individuals to do the job. Smart contracts detail tasks, monitor performance, and dispatch payment at pre-negotiated milestones. Since individuals are motivated by money and since smart contracts only release funds when contracts are satisfactorily completed, you can expect perfect results.
In short: crypto-anarchists like to believe that this scheme directs your money to where you want it to go, and the job actually gets done.
II. Humanitarian aid
The professor dubbed his friends and radical libertarians, a merry band of Robin Hood gangsters out to improve the world.
One of this professor’s crypto projects was modelled on Dash, the first altcoin to develop a decentralized system to govern and fund its platform. Any user can come up with an idea to help develop the Dash ecosystem. The proposal is voted on by Dash’s special tier of governance called the Masternode. You need at least 10% of those Masternodes to approve the idea for Dash to consider implementing it.
In our real world, the governments of our countries deduct from our income to use for their own resources. For crypto-anarchists, we, humans, belong to the world rather than to particular countries. (For this reason, Liberland is borderless. Its residents proclaim they’re citizens of the world!)
Generally, money funded to a decentralized company divides between its miners for their work and between maintenance of the platform. On a special blockchain that this UCLA professor is involved with, he and his friends dribble the remaining funds into a smart contract, or depository. They use the Dash model of Masternodes to allocate these funds to humanitarian needs anywhere in the world. So, New Orleans needs an administrator for ongoing housing assistance from Hurricane Katrina, and Johannesburg, South Africa needs a program for young, vibrant and innovative leaders? Let’s send some of our money there instead of to Trump’s vaunted wall. While the previous project distributes funds to one’s country, this project knocks citizenship aside and disburses your money to the world.
In this case, too, these crypto-anarchists want all civil servant hiring decisions to be decided by meritocracy, rather than by biased decisions, such as on gender, race, ethnicity, or influence. Accordingly, the participants vote on hiring, too.
III. No More Wars
“How do wars work?” my starry-eyed professor asked me and he continued, “As everything else, it runs on money. You need money for guns, artillery, bombs. Run out of that and you have no choice but to settle for a ceasefire.”
The ceasefire, in turn, depends on the country’s prerogative, since the Federal Reserve can, of course, churn out more paper bills (i.e., “money” or legal tender) until it decides to stop.
And the blockchain solution?
In other words, the world will have to stop warring because it could no longer afford combat.
The New Utopi
Utopias have been variously described by thinkers like Thomas Moore or Karl Marx as socialist dreamlands. The blockchain can be seen as a capitalist-socialist combination, where libertarians try to dismantle government and corporate power to democratize the masses.
With the blockchain, crypto-anarchists believe you have the possibility of a Liberland on steroids and on an immeasurably larger scale. Global, in fact. You have a borderless world with no government, just protocols run by the people for the people, where the P2P network vote for their own public servants. There are no taxes – their money goes to publicly chosen needs. There’s no war because fiat is replaced by bitcoin and bitcoin is deliberately curtailed to prevent combat.
In April, 2015, Vít Jedlička told The Guardian: “The media calls us right wing but we are not: we are not here for the rich; we are not here for the poor; we are here for everybody…. What really makes a nation if not a common feeling and approach to something?”
One month later, Petr Mach, the leader of the Party of Free Citizens led his own Party of Free Citizens to petition the Czech Republic to follow Liberland’s example.
The rule of the masses – that’s what my professor and his merry Robin Hood crew of idealists pursue.
For The Atlantic, on the other hand, cryptocurrency might be a path to authoritarianism.
“Libertarians,” writer Ian Bogost reflected in 2017, “built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.”