In December 2013, Jim Edwards a founding editor of Business Insider UK, penned an article entitled Bitcoin Proves The Libertarian Idea Of Paradise Would Be Hell On Earth. In it he described how a society that has Bitcoin as its main currency will be dysfunctional. Boss-class of criminals assassinating people they don’t like with impunity (with Ross Ulbricht as the example in this case) and theft of huge sums of money being the order of day.
As a matter of fact, Jim equated a Bitcoin state, if it ever existed, as one that would be failed in the league of Somalia.
“If Bitcoin was a country — Bitcoinistan? — it would be like Somalia.”
It goes without mentioning that in the article he did make many farfetched and erroneous assertions about bitcoin, including describing it as completely anonymously. All these can be forgiven in 2016, considering that many were still struggling to wrap their heads around the idea of Bitcoin in 2013, and Jim could not be an exception.
Libertarian is political and Bitcoin apolitical
However, one misrepresentation that stands out the most, which could as well have been intentional for propaganda purposes, is that the libertarian movement owns and defines Bitcoin. Here, he bundled together a political ideology and an apolitical invention and passed them off as one and the same thing.
It could never have been so absurd if someone in the early 1990s argued that the internet was owned by the libertarian movement simply because the anarchist characteristics of the technology fitted well with its goals and ideology.
In this earlier case, it appears it was easy to make a clear distinction between a technological invention and whatever positive or negative political and social implication it could have. For far too long this seems not to apply with Bitcoin.
Unfortunately, Jim Edwards is not the only culprit to concoct a fusion of Bitcoin and the libertarian movement. As a matter of fact, it could well be argued that he got the idea from some in the Bitcoin community. `
It is irrefutable that members of the libertarian movement were among the first to be attracted to bitcoin and the whole idea of a decentralized digital currency. It is, therefore, not uncommon to come across Bitcoin enthusiasts who are indeed obsessed with the idea of the technology dismantling government and the banking industry.
It is an obstacle
While their reasons cannot be trivialized, having the Bitcoin technology adopt what their political ideology stands for as part of its identity should not have happened.
This is turning out to be one of the obstacles the cryptocurrency has to go over to achieve mass adoption. Regulators around the world are looking at it suspiciously as a technology being developed by those who can’t wait to see the end of government and traditional financial system.
Furthermore, people who would find solutions in Bitcoin that will change their lives for the better are misled to believe that they have to change their political affiliation in order to find appropriate use for the technology.
Having said all that, the libertarian movement can never be wished away within the Bitcoin community. It is a critical section of the community.
However, it is important that it is identified as just one part of the mosaic that forms the Bitcoin community. Indeed, seeing it this way is easier when we remember that Bitcoin is a decentralized technology and thus its user base should be too.
It is the responsibility of Bitcoin enthusiasts who do not subscribe to the ideology of libertarian to come out more forceful and thus make Bitcoin another disruptive technology about to improve the quality of life in society.
Indeed, the strength of the Bitcoin technology lies in it having people from all walks of life and political persuasions finding value in it.