by Ramin Mazaheri
I can easily prove the leftist utility of bitcoins by relating one question I commonly hear: “Ramin, can you please take this medicine to my family the next time you visit Iran?”
The US produces more than half of all new medicines, but there is an embargo on Iran (and Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, etc.): With bitcoins, Iranians can circumvent these criminal, terroristic restrictions and get medicines which sick people are being cruelly denied.
So I see that bitcoins can save lives. Today.
Iran needs medicine, Cuba needs concrete, Venezuela needs toilet paper – bitcoins can be used for all these things…IF the left would immediately get involved with them.
One thing is absolutely, undeniably clear about bitcoins: The market is absolutely exploding for them in a way absolutely unseen in any field since the dot-com boom.
This process began in April, and it is fascinating. The mainstream media has only just picked up on this fact.
That means the average person is totally unaware of the technological and philosophical innovation/revolution which supports bitcoins: technically, it’s the Nakamoto consensus (a distributed consensus algorithm), but the marketing phrase is “block chain technology”.
And crucially for the future success of bitcoins: Leftists have no idea what heck is going on.
I think bitcoins could be the biggest financial weapon seen in ages to contest capitalism. Therefore, if the left cedes this current formational period of cryptocurrency to the right, or to individualistic libertarianism, it will be an enormous setback for society, socialism and anti-imperialism.
But you won’t read that in Western mainstream media – you only hear about making money with bitcoins. To be fair, that has been incredibly newsworthy as well.
Bitcoin has minted billionaires since May
I’m late to the bitcoin party – I imagine that everyone except the inventor feels that way – but it is mind-blowing to see the spectacular growth rate charts this year of not just Bitcoin, but all the cryptocurrencies. Click on those links and look at the tail end of those growth charts – you will be staggered.
If you have even heard about Bitcoin, you might have only heard the word “volatility”. However, take a medium-term view, and you’ll find that Bitcoin itself (capital B, and the industry leader) has gained more some $50 billion in market capitalization since March. That is a gain bigger than the size of Ford Motor Company…in less than 7 months. Besides Bitcoin, a hundred others are booming as well.
People like to rank bank size by balance sheet – its assets. But banks generally hold $10 in assets for every $1 in capital. This means that market capitalization – the total market value of a company’s outstanding shares of stock – is a more accurate assessment of its worth. Add up the market capitalization of all the bitcoins and you get $135 billion – that would make them the 9thth-largest bank in the world.
Again…this has happened in just seven months. Are you interested yet?
Yes, there is drastic short-term volatility – I had to postpone publishing this article to write this one, which explained China’s correct ban on IPOs (which can be “pump and dump” scams to con investors), and their freeze on exchanging bitcoin for yuan to make sure there wasn’t an exodus of much-needed capital (and which is not a “ban on bitcoins”).
But the long-term pattern is clear for all bitcoins: not much beyond novelty interest for five or so years, and then WHAM – straight up since May.
The reason for this is actually the rise of the #2 bitcoin, Ethereum, which offered a technological adaptation which has created tremendous ease, flexibility and more potential uses for bitcoins.
Why the heck haven’t you heard about this?
Here’s Bloomberg getting excited about it in July; here’s less forward-thinking Fox News Business getting on board in August, complete with a financial analyst boasting how her father was a mob enforcer (an excellent soil to grow a fervent capitalist/anti-socialist).
The mainstream media is just starting to get clued in about bitcoins, but not really. That’s because they are terrible when it comes to crypto-currencies.
They are terrible because they are attached to the current neoliberal/austerity dogma; they accept the Western worldview without thinking.
And one really needs to break with that dogma to see two things clearly: 1) the current Western financial system rests upon never-arrived trickle-down Reaganomics, nothing-backed Quantitative Easing, formerly-illegal stock buybacks, and near-recession growth in the “real economy” since the 2008 Great Recession began. 2) Mainstream media cannot see that those are the reasons why bitcoin was deemed necessary to create, why it is fervently supported, and why there has been a flood of scores of billions into the safe(r) haven of bitcoins.
But those in the non-mainstream media and those who aren’t in the 1% (and I am in both categories) have every reason to question the current order. Question that order, and you will despise it, despise it and you will invest and use bitcoins…even if it all crashes.
I’m aware that’s a bold statement, but they talk of bitcoin “evangelists” because it really is a faith-based movement: They are on jihad – war against (high finance) sin. LOL, it’s too bad that many of them think they’ll be Raptured Up when not just capitalism dies but all governments as well – I’m on board with only the former….
Block chain – it’s going to change a lot of things, and I mean A LOT
What is bitcoin?
Well, that is not really the key question. Most people know it is a “crypto-currency”, an e-currency, a cyber-currency, etc.
The key question is: what makes this product special, right? The answer is: bitcoin is when “block chain” technology was unveiled.
“Bitcoin” is just the main product name out there right now, but “block chain technology” is being described as a “foundational” technology. Like…the wheel, or the internet.
This link explains block chain technology from a purely scientific perspective. But if you don’t have 10 minutes or a fast internet connection…:
In a few sentences: It’s a decentralized ledger system. To give an example: you pay Visa, and Visa records the transaction on their ledger. Visa has the only copy – it is centralized. With block chain, you have a chain of thousands of computers all verifying your transaction and making that record public – there are thousands of permanent copies.
It is open, it is communal, it relies on consensus and it takes away the power of Visa by ending their monopoly over the information. Monopolies create opportunities for corruption, especially private monopolies, which have no government oversight to protect the People. Who does not already view banks and credit cards as havens of corruption?
People predict that block chain technology will revolutionize innumerable fields like, for example, music royalties, making it actually possible to earn a living at making music: 10 million computers will be monitoring all the world’s radio stations, and Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” is played by 97.9 WLUP FM radio in Chicago. Then, 9.8 million computers will correctly register and confirm among each other that Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” was just played, and thus Lionel is owed a royalty by 97.9 WLUP. The current system is: 97.9 FM WLUP tells the royalty companies they played “Dancing on the Ceiling”…and just trust them that they only played it once that day. Or it’s something not too far from that. The point is: no SINGLE computer is responsible for holding the information in block chain, and the permanent record is perpetually public…unless the entire world decides to ban the internet/stop using electricity.
This also has great potential for the way we vote: 10,000 computers will examine an electronic ballot and agree on its validity. If some hacker tries to force in 900,000 votes for Ramin Mazaheri, 98% of the computers will correctly realize that this is not a valid vote and signal that the system has been breached. While good governance certainly loses out in this particular scenario, at least democracy will be upheld.
But what appears clear is that there have been enough technological breakthroughs in computing to give rise to a revolutionary new process (block chain). It’s like Ford creating the assembly line…for publicly-monitored high-speed computing. Block chain is the technological/philosophical breakthrough, and applying that to the financial process and ending their current monopoly is what bitcoiners are investing in.
So bitcoins are not the big deal – block chain is. I would say that if you don’t see the big deal about block chain, then you don’t see why Bitcoin is different. So learn a bit more and think about it – you’ll see that by making everything permanently public, the public wins instead of the moneyed class.
With socialism, Bitcoin can be a semi-capitalist tool against capitalism
To me and many others, the political beauty of block chain is the decentralization of power. This means, in turn, the empowerment of the individual, which, I note, is the goal of communism/socialism. Empowerment of the individual, and creating a society where individuals can reach their full potential, is perhaps the fundamental tenet of Marxism. The mainstream media certainly has misled people for decades on that….
What I wish every wayward libertarian bitcoiner would realize is this: The philosophy of block chain is already being applied politically in modern socialist countries!
This excellent article on Cuba’s 2030 Plan for social and economic policy shows how the 2030 Plan is, “the most studied, discussed and re-discussed documents in the history of the Revolution,” per Raul Castro.
In 2007 Cuba’s government created “Great Debate” forums to discuss their common future and so people could propose solutions. That produced the Guidelines, which were made public for 6 months. Nine of 11 million people participated in the ensuing debates, and 68% of the guidelines were amended. The redraft went to their (far, far more representative) National Assembly.
This is block chain – open, communal, consensus, decentralized – in democratic governance!
China is very similar – they spend prolifically on surveys and public opinion polls because their democracy is driven by data. This excellent article details their communal, responsive, finely-tuned system for formulating and slowly implementing government policies in another example of “block chain governance”.
And the results for China are undeniable: Popular support for government policies, voter participation rates, trust & satisfaction rates with the government, the belief that the government is run for the people’s benefit instead of special interests: these rates are all staggeringly higher in China than in Western nations because reams of popular data support the legislation implemented by the government.
Do we not realize that bitcoiners also have been duped by TINA -There Is No Alternative – just like the average person?
Leftists must explain to early bitcoin adopters – who are guiding the development of bitcoin, who could be filthy rich, who are open to new ideas, who could help design systems to help money flow to embargoed countries – that the problem is not “all governments”, it is “Western, capitalist governments”.
“Public opinion is our guideline for action,” was said by Mao; Macron just ignored public opinion to ram through a 2nd rollback to the labor code to change France to a part-time, high-poverty, high-inequality, high instability, artificially-low unemployment rate, US-emulating economy. Again, bitcoiners, it is YOUR government, not ALL governments.
But, in a shock to no one who reads my articles, the West’s fake-leftists have no idea what the heck is going on about most anything, including bitcoins and the block chain revolution.
Leftists must embrace bitcoins immediately and without reservation
Right now, bitcoins are continuing the rather unfortunate trend in the US of libertarians being at the crest of the political wave. Their anti-authority/pro-liberty/anti-spying stance is, after all, quite compatible with countless aspects of socialism in the digital age. True leftists have repeatedly lamented that fake-leftists dismiss libertarianism, the Tea Party, Trumpers, etc., without even examining their ideologies and giving credit when it is justified.
But this is the reality: The potential of bitcoins to empower the individual AND the collective is greatly threatened by the libertarianism/voluntarism which currently dominates the bitcoin community of early adopters. Their view is typical of the Arizona rancher who forgets that he sits on stolen Apache land, refuses to pay for air conditioning in government offices or schools and cares for nothing but ensuring his own prosperity.
In short, American libertarianism is synonymous with “radical individualism”: that’s why during the recent two hurricanes CNN could interview an economist for a segment asking, “Is price gouging during emergencies a good thing?” and actually get away with it.
No, you must be banned from selling bottled water for $99 per case in hurricane-hit areas; yes, the government should requisition your stocks for trying, you anti-social bastard. But this idea of “my rights, my rights, MY RIGHTS”, this complete abdication of collective solidarity, is widespread in America, and CNN likely added a few more converts….
During the hurricanes the US media constantly repeated: “Now THIS is where the government should step in,” as in, “Finally, we have a good use for regulation”. This is a renunciation of the idea that an individual has social responsibility, and it is morally appalling.
Again, bitcoiners, the problem is YOUR capitalist government: Cuba’s hurricane preparation is the best in the region, with officials who were tasked with post-Hurricane Katrina saying “We could be learning from them.” You are 15 times more likely to be killed by a hurricane in the US than if you are in Cuba, and that’s despite the international blockade on things like building materials leading to innumerable, dangerous old buildings. Bitcoin can circumvent this and reward good governance; too many bitcoiners think “good governance” is an oxymoron.
Well, if bitcoin is going to improve the world – and the many bitcoin evangelists swear that it will (and I believe them) – they must leaven their quest for personal empowerment/MY rights with the moral demand for collective unity that is only found in socialism.
How can bitcoin ‘stop the betrayals of high finance’ if all they do is create a bitcoin cabal?
I have proven that block chain in governance already exists in socialism. Many people have noted the way science and society have reflected each other throughout human history, so this is more confirmation that socialists like Cuba and China are firmly in the vanguard.
Block chain exists in socialism, but not in the extremist-individual ideologies of capitalism or libertarianism. It exists in anarchism, yes, but bitcoin’s anti-statist “voluntarism” is so self-centered so as to not be worthy of “anarchism”.
Therefore, if the true Left doesn’t get immediately involved in the bitcoin discussion and swing some minds towards socialism…I don’t see how bitcoins will truly be different from oligarchical capitalism?
Yes, this may be “gold rush fever”, but many talk of a market capitalization of $1-$5 trillion dollars. That’s because this is not just a corporation – a whole new industry is being created, so it’s bigger than Amazon…plus Apple, plus Facebook, plus….
So, to the early adopters poised to be filthy rich because your tech, gamer and Dungeons and Dragons friends clued you in early on bitcoins and were fortunate enough to have money to invest: You may not voluntarily want to redistribute your bitcoin wealth…but society needs you to.
And if you don’t, we deplorables in the 99% will win and take that commodity/way to store value in the end, too, because redistribution is collective justice, if not individual justice.
Bitcoin users – will you be price gouging when the 21 million bitcoins are completely mined? If so, why don’t we just stick with Visa, Western Union and the Pentagon?
Are you engaging in immoral bitcoin stock speculation, and “gaming” the market to make a quick killing? Then how are you any morally superior to all the other lazy, immoral high finance punks who make a living at “the rich man’s gambling”?
And now to the painfully few leftists, especially socialists/Marxists, who take the time to cursorily examine Bitcoin and say: “Bah, this is just pure capitalism. Therefore, it must be bad.”
Well, simply revisit my story about Iran and medicines. A Third World Socialist looks at bitcoins and says: “Yes, Bitcoin is capitalist from the perspective of ivory tower ideology, but this has enormous potential as a weapon for anti-imperialism and against rapacious capitalism. And we need and want victory – not just change – now.”
Every dollar in bitcoin is a dollar not in the hands of high finance!
It is in the hands of the rapidly-expanding bitcoin collective, which has no “Central Bank President”. Every dollar worth of bitcoin sent to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Palestine – and Poland, the Philippines, and South Korea – is a dollar which has circumvented the imperialist/fascist centers of the US, England, France, Germany and Japan. A bitcoin dollar avoids the big banks, the SWIFT system of American financial power, the gangster credit card companies and the central banks of the neo-imperial nations!
Governments are claiming that bitcoin can be used to “fund terrorism”. First of all, paper money is used to fund terrorism – should we ban that? Secondly, this is an obvious smear campaign designed to scare away the average person, and to provide justification for unjust crackdowns on bitcoins.
This is an enormous development on 3 enormous levels
Or maybe I’m wrong? Bitcoin is, of course, highly speculative. But the fact is that 150 top companies have already signed on with bitcoin #2, Ethereum, so they are going to be around a long time and will make money for investors.
But Bitcoin (capital B) is really the big deal that needs to be supported. It’s the rebel, the revolutionary, the one that governments fear they can’t control, and the one that was designed from the start to be a currency which cannot be manipulated by bankers or central bankers.
That’s why giving $100 to them is more of a leftist action then donating $100 to Amnesty or some other charity. Bitcoin already is a major tool against capitalism – if we can make it too big to stop, the results could be globe-changing.
But it needs to be supported with investments.
Heck, you might make a ton of money and become a leftist benefactor thanks to bitcoin!
And it’s useful: Can you exchange it for dollars? Of course, otherwise what’s the point?
Can you buy things in a store with it? Yes, increasingly – but some merchants would rather pay Visa’s 1-3% fees per transaction instead of around $0.25 per transaction (it fluctuates).
A lot of migrant workers don’t know that this exists, so they keep losing $30 to Western Union or $45 to their bank in order to chivalrously send their slave wages back home. We need to get them aware of this.
So, the much-ballyhooed showdown (well, I’m ballyhooing it) between “bitcoin socialism” and “bitcoin libertarianism” is actually going to be fought and won in the next few years. Socialists need to get involved now, and realize that bitcoins are a space where we can evangelize for leftist economics with enormous potential results.
People love to take bitcoin to the extreme (yes, will not be using ONLY bitcoins in our lifetime) and that obscures the very immediate, very real ways bitcoin can help RIGHT NOW, which I proved with Iran and medicines.
I currently understand bitcoins as an ethical advancement perhaps unseen since Islamic finance, so I’ll continue to be a journalist tracking a big story and continue to share the wealth and tell people about bitcoin/block chain.
And that’s the final key: unlike other capitalist ventures, where you keep your newfound knowledge a secret for exploitation, this whole bitcoin currency/method of savings/societal change only works if more people learn about it, use it, and faithfully hold their stocks long-term in order to make it “too big to fail”.
Fiat/paper money is based on faith – in government. Bitcoin is based on faith – in each other.
That is socialism.
Wake up! Bitcoins are radical, indeed, and we’ve barely begun.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.