At first glance, cryptocurrency seems to be the living embodiment of everything that I hate. The gauche pursuit of wealth, limitless self-congratulation, bad art, and hypocritical insider corruption are basically a shortlist of all the things I loathe most about our contemporary culture and economy. The recent Lehman Brothers-but-dumber implosion of FTX and its Sam Bankman-Fried is just the latest debacle for an industry which, lured by the prospect of easy money and a regulatory environment even less constricted than Wall Street, seems to have attracted some of the worst people that our society has to offer. The fact that Mr. Bankman-Fried, himself a migrant from Wall Street, was reportedly running a
There's a reason The Grand Wurlitzer(tm) and it's apparatchiks are cranking out tunes to shill shitcoins to the sheeple.
It's to sour them and distract them from the value prop of BTC (and maybe 3-10 other coins).
I think it was inevitable that crypto would attract a lot of greed. May be this is an inflection point, one that bitcoin is still probably more trustworthy than any other coin and that as you said, hopefully they don't throw the baby out with bathwater.
*Very* well stated, crypto has become a wealth and power machine for abusive tech bro types that undermine the freedom-making and freedom-enabling capacities of the technology. As you articulated, becoming the power-abusers of the traditional financial sector in this new sphere that crypto was supposed to replace/undermine/be an alternative to.
Well said. In addition, it sure looks like the move is on to get rid of cash. I've noticed retailer employees having difficulty making change (because unfamiliar with coinage) and at the US post office I have run into the employee not even being able to change one dollar.
This will force transactions to smartphones and credit cards both of which involve a middle man getting a take on each transaction. You can see how retailers would love it for security reasons and the end of hassling with coins and paper currency.
I learn so much from you. Thank you for this essay.
I fully understand the desire for such a system, and I really do think everyone would be better off remembering the excesses of the post-9/11 anti-terrorism consensus. I am terrified of the levels of state surveillance technology is enabling, and I long for a way to escape it – but cryptocurrency doesn't do any of that. I wish it did, I really do. But the story about freedom and decentralisation is just as much of a scam as the apes-and-FTX story, just for people who long for liberty instead of wealth.
Precious metals are the perfect analogy, at some point in history we agreed that had value, and in some ways that underpins fiat currency too. We could do that with anything. Sure, we could do it with Bitcoin, but we could also do it with Pepsi Points or create our own Substack Bucks and make some simple app to exchange them. Crypto doesn't add anything to this, and its 'everyone sees every transaction' aspect isn't even useful. Ultimately, state-like and bank-like things creep in, but without any regulation they inevitably turn into this week's disaster. Hopefully there's something out there that can let us make day-to-day transactions in peace, away from the state, but crypto and the blockchain add nothing to this – the idea that it does is just another facet of the scam.
It's a pity you couldn't bring yourself to leave out the 'cinematic detail' which has nothing to do with anything your otherwise we'll written piece is about.
It simply gives the whole thing a bad smell – bad enough for me to feel uncomfortable sharing it with anyone in my circle of friends who is even in an open relationship, let alone poly.
And living in Berlin this excludes an estimated two in five people in my group of tech friends here.