I recently ran across this piece, “Bitcoin: utopian reflection of a capitalist nightmare” on Marxist.org. Upon reading it I felt deeply saddened that comrades in the struggle against capitalism could be so misled from the facts of what bitcoin is, and how it is the most powerful tool we have ever had to fight capitalism. Sadly, the author lacked the technical understand of bitcoin, which has allowed for him to write bitcoin off as having flaws that are not actually there. I will take this opportunity to respond to this erroneous essay with many inaccuracies, and offer an explanation for why marxist of all colors should radically embrace digital currencies, and organize around them.
Bitcoin as a Currency
First and foremost, we need to dispel the myth of what bitcoin is, and is not. Bitcoin is a commodity money. It is disingenuous to state that it is backed by nothing when there is a very real energy cost that it takes to create each new block of bitcoin’s blockchain. What makes bitcoin just like gold coins, silver bars, oil barrels, or cigarette cartons is that these are all commodities which are very uniform, have a commodity use-value, and a standard count or measure, which in-turn creates an exchange value. This exchange value is separate from the commodity value, and creates its additional value through ease of exchange. This ease of exchange and measure is what makes these commodities special: they are commodity-monies.
The commodity value of bitcoin comes from the real physical electrical energy that must be spent in order to create bitcoins. For each block of bitcoin that has been mined, there is an explicit amount of electrical energy that it took to create that new block reward of bitcoin. Bitcoin is not just a currency, but it is a commodity money, and a fully self-contained payment and storage of value system that needs no third party arbitrators because of the real commodity value that is imbued into bitcoin.
Means of Exchange
It is important to note that like other commodity monies bitcoin also has a concentration of socially necessary labour time. It does this in a two ways through having both a commodity value, and a use-value via exchange. The explicit electrical cost to ‘mine’ bitcoin creates the base commodity value of bitcoin. The use-value of bitcoin is created through the divisibility of value, ease of exchange, and advanced security of bitcoin. These features allow for bitcoin to act as a universal equivalent in which the value of all other commodities can be measured, while offer a total security that no fiat money, or other commodity can ever offer. What sets bitcoin apart from all other commodity monies is that it is impossible to seize bitcoin if they are stored properly.
All other commodity monies and forms of wealth throughout all of history have been perpetually seized by force–stealing under the banner of government is as old as society itself.
In the United States executive order 6102 was issued in 1933 to allow for the US government to seize all gold on deposit in US banks. This was the start of the global government scam to make the storage of value that money was, into an ever inflating debt bubble backed only by the force of government. This is what allow for the financing of the great wars of the 20th century, and for the great extension of transglobal imperialism under the banner of capitalism and democracy. Never has so much been taken by so few, with such a great cost to the whole of society.
Money now only exist as government issued debt tokens. The whole modern economic machine hinges on people using and exchange these ever-inflating government tokens in order for them to keep their value, as there is no commodity value–only exchange value by the decree of law. This is especially true for the United States Dollar, which due to its exorbitant economic privilege allows for it to continually expand its money supply dramatically, while having it sucked up by other nation-states which have struggled to issue their own currency, so they use the USD. Money is no longer a social agreement, but an imperialist tool that governments and corporations alike have forced on to their populous.
We must understand that state-issued currencies are the objects that allow for the perpetuation of corrupt, state-based transglobal capitalism. It is through the state’s monopoly on the issuance of money which allows for government debt financing, costly illegal wars, and the fusion of state power, and capitalist power into a single totalitarian power. This power is based upon the willingness of the general populous to use the state’s debt tokens as their form of exchange. If people simply refused to use the state’s money, their entire economy system would collapse overnight.
It is only through creating economic exchange outside of the confines of the state that we can realistic create independence and sovereignty for ourselves. Through using digital currencies as the primary mode of economic exchange, we can nullify the state’s ability to steal from us through taxation and inflation, but we also banish them from our sphere of economic activity. The internet and digital commons are sovereign; bitcoin and digital currencies are the mode of economic exchange that explicitly disallows for the participation of the state.
Money as Social Relations
Bitcoin is the money of the internet. Digital currencies can allow for all economic transactions to be self contained within the digital sphere of the internet–no governments, no banks, no Gods, no Masters can dictate what you can, or cannot buy. The real question at the end of the day, is who do YOU want to control your money?
Banks and governments who have proven time and time again, that they will inflate the money supply, steal from their own citizens to make war, and are more than happy violate any and all laws to enrich those that are part of the established order. Again, and again through history we can see that every single government that has came into existence has used the power create money as a mode to enrich themselves while impoverishing their people. The social relation of money under state governments is one of their ability to force you into their economy system–it is not a relationship of choice or economics, but one of power and corrosion.
Money is a social tool, and we cannot separate it from the societies that are part of it–yet, somehow, that is the exact world that we live in today. Money today is not some democratic project of economy agreement; it is a relationship that has been forced on to every individual with no choice whatsoever. The US dollar is freely printed at the will of those that are part of the federal reserve, and money can be freely seized by the state for pretty much any reason it wants. That is not a social relationship, but one of power. If we truly want to be free people, we must first have economic freedom, and that can only be achieved when we are not subject to poverty by the whims of government bureaucrats, and exploitation at the hands of capitalist.
Governments and Central Banks
Capitalism today is not merely an economic force that displays itself in the world of commerce, but it is a total panoptic zeitgeist. Every facet of our individual lives are decided by this total force that has made itself the predominate mindset, lifestyle, and the very bases of law and government in our society today. Capitalism has merged with the state itself to create state-capitalism–the fascist merging of state and corporate power to further the exploitation and environmental destruction all in the name of corporate profit.
Banks and financial institutions work directly with governments to steal money on-behalf of them, and to also give themselves unfair advantaged in business. The close relationship that finance has with governments allows for banksters to freely violate the law with the known expectation that very little, if anything, will be done to stop them. Banks like HSBC can work directly with terrorist and violet drug cartels to launder their blood money, and even when found guilty, our government refuses to stripped them of their assets, or their power to bank. Governments work hand-in-hand with powerful transnational corporations to allow for and facilitate crimes and human rights violations.
I cannot understand how after so much betrayal, corruption, and outright constitutional violations by the state how anyone could trust these psychopaths who claim they are here to help. It should be clear and obvious to anyone who is paying attention that these are the very people and organizations that rob us, keep us oppressed, and seek only to have power over us. The relationship between the state and oligarchic corporations is fused together with money–the capital which the state issues, and banks inflate via debt. Understand the domination of the political class by the bourgeoisie is done with fiat money. The sooner we can come to understand that this money system is their money system and not ours, the sooner we can set to work at building our own.
A Utopian Fantasy
We now have the tools to create a world-wide global revolution where there no more Gods or Masters of the economic system. We can allow for our peer-to-peer relationships via the internet to become a new paradigm for social, economic, and political organization. No longer do we have to believe in the false divisions of nationality, obey the repugnant laws of states that keep us oppressed and impoverished, nor tolerate governmental theft via law, or the exploration by capitalist allowed by their laws. Through forging a new economy that is built on top of non-state based currencies, we can create a new way forward free from the hands of both statist and capitalist, and their desire to exploit others for their own gains.
The macroeconomic money system has been built in such a way that it ensures the conditions of exploitation exist, and that governments and capitalist alike can systematic steal from the whole population. So long as governments have the power to issue currencies, and work in alliance with banking and finance to enforce their laws; economic power will continue to concentrate itself in the hands of those with that power. This economic system was designed to ensure that 85 people can own more than the bottom 3.5 billion people on the planet–its not a mistake, but by design.
If we are ever to throw off the yoke of capitalism, and to have lives that are more than working at bullshit jobs that we hate, we must first have objects of exchange that are outside of the control of the state, or their crony allies. Bitcoin, and other digital currencies present the most powerful opportunity in a century to create a new, alternative economic system that is outside the control of the state.
We now have the tools to build our exit from the awful system of exploration and purposeless consumption. Together, we can make a choice to reject the state-based system of money, and choose our own kind of money that works best for ourselves and the communities we choose to be part of. Freedom and liberty can only be created when the conditions of oppression are forbidden from existing. By pulling money into the digital realm outside of the hands of states or bankers, we can create a new system of economic exchange and money that does not need the violence of the state, or the exploitation of capitalist.