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In 2022, there are an estimated 425 million cryptocurrency users worldwide! That is to say that around 5% of humanity already owns cryptocurrencies. The use of cryptocurrencies is effective, and sometimes common, in the lives of many people. But cryptocurrencies can also be considered in their speculative nature. It is in this context that in recent years a number of critics have emerged to denounce the allegedly “libertarians” bitcoin (BTC). Deciphering attempts to politicize bitcoin.
What is libertarianism?
Libertarianism is, in its political form, essentially present in the United States. Libertarianism is based on the maximum assurance of individual freedoms by opposing coercion and subjugation. Clearly, libertarians defend an ideal of freedom based on private property and absolute respect for individual rights and they oppose systematic state intervention. They differ from the liberals (more ” to the left “) whose original spirit would have been diluted in the 20th century.
Therefore, it is interesting to note that the emergence of libertarianism is mainly at the end of the 20th century. This is happening alongside the expansion of neoliberalism, sometimes viewed by libertarians as a « faux » liberalism through the maintenance of public deficits, opposition to “letting go” with an ever-expanding regulatory framework, etc.
In addition, libertarianism sometimes joins in certain aspects the foundations of the Austrian school. And it is on this point that the link with bitcoin (BTC) emerges.
A project of monetary competition?
The Austrian school of economics brings together famous authors such as Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Friedrich Hayek is the author of a book called « Denationalisation of money » (1976) who advocates the end of monetary monopoly, that is to say the end of the existence of a single currency. Ihe objective of monetary competition is, through the confrontation of a multitude of private currencies, to ensure great efficiency in the mechanisms of economic adjustment. This would allow, according to Friedrich Hayek, to achieve better price stability. Likewise, it would avoid arbitrary monetary judgments on the part of governments and central banks.
The idea of creating one’s own currency for economic good is therefore theoretically formulated very early on. We will never know if this theory inspired the creator of bitcoin (BTC). Despite everything, it is clear that Friedrich Hayek prophesied the emergence of cryptocurrencies. He believed that the maintenance of monetary monopoly was a threat to individual freedom. Faced with this, he predicted that we would witness the emergence of currencies in a new form.
Bitcoin is not a political project…
The genesis of bitcoin is the only one to provide concrete answers. In the original paper of the creator of bitcoin, nothing indicates a priori a political will. It is simply a desire to go beyond the traditional financial system.
“A purely peer-to-peer version of e-money would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. […] Although the system [financier] works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust-based model. Completely irreversible transactions are not really possible, because financial institutions cannot avoid the mediation of disputes. »
Satoshi Nakamoto, 2008 | White Paper du bitcoin
Nevertheless, the creation of the Bitcoin Foundation very early in 2012 shows a closeness between this first major association promoting bitcoin and libertarians. But bitcoin also joins the aspirations of a number of crypto-anarchists. In the original logic of bitcoin, opposing bitcoin is tantamount to being favorable to the traditional financial system. Those who criticize bitcoin today for being too “liberal” would therefore be favorable to the traditional financial system.
Therefore, there is no indication that bitcoin itself has a political purpose. By contrast, bitcoin has given rise to certain uses that appealed to libertarians early on. It is therefore a priori false to affirm that bitcoin is libertarian, it only takes certain forms a posteriori.
If libertarians helped spread bitcoin, it is clear that current bitcoin users are completely unaware of this. Therefore, bitcoin is not strictly political. We must also emphasize that libertarianism is based on total freedom of opinion and expression, and therefore the use of bitcoin is free for all ideological currents. By its very definition, “monetary libertarianism” opposes coercion and therefore cannot be seen as a “political project”. Critics of bitcoin are therefore essentially aimed at politicizing it.
« Cryptocommunisme »
We have therefore seen that the desire to politicize bitcoin came from a desire to divide in order to better curb the expansion of bitcoin. Of course, it is undeniable that bitcoin responds to liberal aspirations, but in the current state of things it is not so.
Some commentators have even lent themselves to saying that bitcoin was “extreme right”which does not appear to be justified in view of the elements set out.