Behind the Crypto Hype Lies an Ideology of Social Change


These crypto enthusiasts often cite examples of what they see as government corruption and corporate corruption. They recognize that society depends on governments and corporations making and enforcing rules, and they complain that people are stuck with these “corrupt” institutions. Corruption, they say, is an inevitable flaw of humanity and leads to trying to control and abuse others.

Enthusiasts see Bitcoin, blockchain, and other crypto technologies as an alternative to corruption. They argue that these new technologies are “trustless” and do not depend on institutions. You can buy and sell things using bitcoins without checking with a bank or using government-issued money.

These two beliefs – that governments are corrupt and that crypto avoids that corruption – are common among the crypto enthusiasts we studied. But enthusiasts go even further. They seek change. They want to change who has power and who doesn’t.

They argue that crypto is how this change will happen. For crypto enthusiasts, using crypto isn’t just a way to buy and sell things. By using cryptographic technologies, they argue, society will become less dependent on governments and corporations. Simply put, using crypto – and getting as many people using it as possible – is a way to change the world and take power away from governments.

Push an ideology

These beliefs about who should and should not have power in society embody an ideology. An important part of crypto ideology is that this change can only happen if people use crypto. Technology and ideology are linked.

For many of these enthusiasts, recommending crypto to others isn’t just a technology recommendation. For them, buying and selling crypto is a form of political and social activism. They argue that buying crypto will eliminate corruption and change society to trust technology over government.

Beliefs in the ability of crypto to create social change are also overstated. Cryptographic technologies do not necessarily eliminate corporations or avoid government control. There are private and enterprise blockchains and many government regulations on cryptocurrencies. In my opinion, simply using technology does not necessarily lead to the social change that these enthusiasts seek.

Rick Wash is an associate professor of information science and cybersecurity at Michigan State University.

This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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