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Can Blockchain Help the Left? with The Blockchain Socialist
Episode 15118th December 2021 • Macro N Cheese • Steve D Grumbine MS, MBA, PMP, PSM1, ITIL
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The Blockchain Socialist wants to dispel the notion that blockchain technology can only serve a right-wing libertarian agenda. In this week’s episode, he tells Steve the left loses out when new trends or innovations are introduced into the economy. Blockchain is a neutral tool on which we can build different types of organizations and institutions. He speaks of the risks taken when groups use Google Docs for organizing their information. Google’s removal of access to Palestinian activists should be seen as a threat to the left.

The Blockchain Socialist – let's call him TBS – created his blog and podcast to provide a space for learning about blockchain and digital currency free of right=wing propaganda. He talks with Steve about a wide range of uses in both the near and distant future. For countries under economic sanctions, cryptocurrency can make it possible to engage in international financial activity. For the myriad groups on the left who seem unable to unite because of, often, some pretty obscure differences, TBS sees other benefits...

...using this shared economic platform to do that -- to keep track of political goals and to move forward on them. Then in some utopian socialist future in which the workers finally own the means of production, we can collectively decide to or decide not to use blockchain as an important decentralized institution for keeping track of other things that we may want to do.

TBS lays out the difference between smart contracts and legal contracts and goes over their potential uses. He also explains the concept of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and how it could change the banking system, for better or worse. He and Steve discuss imposing expiration dates on cryptocurrency to encourage spending and disallow hoarding.

It is hard for MMTers to understand why libertarians would want to impose artificial scarcity on cryptocurrency, as if Bitcoin were digital gold.

It's really heavily based on this commodity theory of money, and especially the libertarian view that the best type of money can be abstracted away because it's backed by a commodity which has objective value -- as if gold is really objectively valuable. So I think part of the issue is that a lot of these first cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, were designed intentionally with this hard money view in mind. They encoded hard money into Bitcoin. It does not have to be hard money.

Ultimately both the right and left have objections to the way the government handles money. Whether you think it is spending too much or too little, the whole process is undemocratic. Bitcoin is not the solution, but there is a lot more to digital currency than Bitcoin, not all of it a rightwing tool. This episode provides just a taste – we recommend following the Blockchain Socialist for a real education.

The Blockchain Socialist is a blogger and podcaster whose work can be found on his website, theblockchainsocialist.com.

Support his work at patreon.com/theblockchainsocialist.

@TBSocialist on Twitter

Transcripts

Macro N Cheese – Episode 151

Can Blockchain Help the Left? with The Blockchain Socialist

[:

Part of the reason why I felt like I needed to make my blog and podcast is because of this fact that even if you try to look up the most basic technological understanding of how Bitcoin or a blockchain works, 90% of the time, it leans right wing libertarian.

[:

MMT is a very good explanation of how governments spend money and where money comes from in the nation states in most of our lives. Where I think MMTers get wrong when it comes to cryptocurrency, they're taking too seriously the spokespeople of the currency world.

[:

Now, let's see if we can avoid the apocalypse altogether. Here's another episode of Macro N Cheese with your host, Steve Grumbine.

[:

All right, everybody, it is Steve with Macro N Cheese. Today's guest, he's anonymous. He is The Blockchain Socialist. And before we dive into this interview, I want to just say a few things. First of all, I have been unapologetically, vocally, not a champion of Bitcoin. I'm also not an old man saying, "Get off my lawn".

Okay, so I've got a couple competing mindsets that I'm dealing with here, and I've had Rohan Grey come on quite a few times, Brett Scott, another genius in this space talking about it and Bob Hockett and others. But this is the first time I've spoken to someone who I did not expect to like the interview that I heard. But I heard the Blockchain Socialist on Glenn Greenwald, and in this particular case, I was so impressed.

Not so much because I was listening for Bitcoin advice because none was given. That was not the angle which our friend here presented. He came to the table talking about we don't want to give up an entire environment and organizing tool to the right wing, just because of ideological proclivities that push us away from even examining things.

And so because he's going about it from the standpoint of the Blockchain Socialist, blockchain is the underlying technology behind this. And we have long since been advocates of looking at blockchain for a number of things, including fair elections, voting. But he started breaking out some ideas about leftist organizing and, immediately, I stopped pushing back, and I started listening.

I wasn't a fan of everything Glenn Greenwald had to say. In fact, I find myself disagreeing with Glenn more than I agree with him lately, but this interview was so spectacular that I asked him to come on to the show, and we had a little bit of a prep talk in advance, so he knows my angle, where I'm coming from, I know where he's coming from, and I want you to hear it now. So without further ado, let me bring on my guest. Blockchain Socialist, welcome to the show, sir.

[:

Hi, Steve. Thanks for having me. That was very kind words. I'm really flattered by that.

[:

Well, I mean it. Full disclosure. As much as I'm for freedom and liberty and anti surveillance and pro journalism and pro democracy, pro individual rights. I'm a commie. I'm a central planning kind of guy in many ways. I have my own beliefs. They're always transforming when new information is presented. And so you presented a very interesting Rubik's Cube of a challenge, a Gordian knot of sorts. First of all, how did you get started? What are you doing in this space? Let's start off with who you are.

[:

If you want to know how I personally decided to go into it.

[:

Yes.

[:

It's not that inspiring of a story, mostly just that I was pretty broke and I was working two jobs in order to make ends meet. And this is pretty soon after graduating from University. And I thought I'm pretty smart maybe I can figure out the stock markets. And I realized very quickly I could not do that. I used this stock simulation buying game, and I was really bad at it.

Through that process, I did come across cryptocurrency. It's just like something that pops up, and I had known about Bitcoin as something that was sort of just money to buy drugs online. So I was never really interested in it for quite some time, but it was sort of more when I read into, specifically, Ethereum was very eye opening to me. When I read into it, it was like, okay, maybe I need to look into this a lot deeper.

Maybe I need to do more research on it. And I got further and further down the rabbit hole, and I was able to watch Ethereum develop and become a larger project into what it is today. But, yeah, I was never a libertarian, right wing type guy. I was really already a socialist and already really interested in trying to come up with this issue.

I felt that the left has just been losing for a really long time and has been behind on a lot of trends or new innovations that have been introduced in the economy and especially when it comes to technology. And so the idea of smart contracts and decentralized autonomous organizations, which we can go into what those are a bit later, was something that was really profound to me and I felt really interesting type of tools that could be used for organizing.

Of course, it's not for organizing only for socialists, but anybody could essentially take it and use it for organizing in the way that they want to design using these tools. And so, to me, it was interesting thinking about how can the left use these type of tools to design the type of organizations and institutions that would be built on top of a blockchain, which provides, let's say, particular functions that are otherwise not afforded to us in standard technology that we have today, like relying on Google Docs for organizing all of our information within an organization.

If it's a radical left wing one, you can expect to have some issues. There are plenty of examples of Google removing access for Palestinian activists to their Google Docs and things like that. So to me, the idea of having the left needing to use more resilient type of technologies in just this day and age, I feel was an important issue to look into. And so I just was doing a lot of research over the years and got more and more deeply embedded into it.

[:

When I think about this, aside from my passion for Modern Monetary Theory, the big thing that really got me was being anti neoliberal. How can I undo what they've done? I know I'm one person, but if I can present information and bring experts to the table that can help us destroy neoliberalism, I'm all for it. And I have just as many of those blind spots, probably, that would have prevented me from investigating further.

And I can imagine similar mindset being we've been baked into a partisan world where if somebody over there likes this and it must be just bad. And so what is the thing that helps you say, hey, I'm doing this for the right reasons for something that matters.

I'm looking into this through a different lens, as opposed to that knee jerk response, no, I don't want to be part of them. I don't want to be like them. That repulsion that occurs. You know what I mean? I don't even have to explain it.

[:

I know 100% what you're talking about. I am repulsed very often in this space. I've explained it on my podcast before. You have to see it as walking through a literal wall of shit and there's constant shit raining on you as you go into this space. Part of the reason why I felt like I needed to make my blog and podcast is because of this fact that even if you try to look up the most basic technological understanding of how Bitcoin or a blockchain works, there is always not always, let's say, 90% of the time it leans right wing libertarian.

What I was trying to do was try to look at it from a very different perspective, using my own understanding of left wing theory and trying to use a lot of Marxist concepts to understand these things behind blockchain and cryptocurrency.

[:

Paint a left wing vision of blockchain. Give me what the future might look like through your eyes.

[:

So I think when I look at the future, I try to break it up into amount of time. There's the immediate future, and then there's the far utopian future. I think in the immediate future there is the idea of using cryptocurrency as a way to get around economic sanctions. Or maybe people who are living in the global south, people who live in countries that have economic sanctions.

I know people in Iran who heavily rely on cryptocurrency. So I think if we're talking about what are left wing uses for it, I see that as an immediate thing that's already happening. I think maybe in the medium term, I think the complexity can sort of rise a little bit where we are then using smart contracts and decentralized autonomous organizations as a resilient economic and organizing platform for people who want to organize things, to basically have a shared thread, to always have a place to go forward.

So I think one of the problems with the left is that it is a very decentralized movement already, actually. There are more different strains and tendencies of leftwing thoughts than we have fingers and toes. We have had this problem for a really long time where, because of one slightly different idea of the labor theory of value or something very pedantic like that causes this huge drama in which everybody gets mad at each other.

And so I think my ideal future would be where we can sort of move past that we can instead begin to say, all right, we have slightly different ideas, but we have very big goals in mind that we want to achieve together. Let's cooperate instead so that we can move forward on achieving those political goals rather than having to get mad at each other at what the other person has tweeted.

So I think that that would be my ideal view. So using this shared economic platform to do that to keep track of political goals and to move forward on them. And then in some utopian socialist future in which the workers finally own the means of production, we can collectively decide or decide not to use blockchain as an important decentralized institution for keeping track of other things that we may want to do.

So I've written a piece a while ago where I described a way in which we could use a blockchain as a way to handle housing rights. So in the example I used, let's say we're in a mushroom Kingdom and you have Mario and Luigi. Mario is a single father. He had a child, and Luigi is a single guy, so we can encode into the rules of our system. That because Mario has a child. Then he has more right to a larger house.

So he would receive a token and that token would be worth X amount of square feet of housing. And then Luigi would receive a token with slightly less square feet of housing because he doesn't need that much space. He's a single guy. And so then you use the token. So instead of thinking about the token as a purely financial instrument or something that is calculating purely financial value, we're using the token as a way to represent housing value.

I guess you could call it that. So that's how I see it I think blockchain socialism is not a complete ideology. It's just I called myself the Blockchain Socialist because I couldn't think of a better name when I was making my platform. So it gets kind of complicated. So I tried to break it up into time to simplify that.

[:

Understood. You said a couple of things I want to tap into. Number one. I think the point of the global south and countries like Iran and others who depend a lot on cryptocurrency. Lay out why and how it's used to help them.

[:

So the why is because a lot of these people are in countries that are suffering pretty greatly because of these economic sanctions. The fault is for sure on the United States and these countries that are supporting the sanctions. But another reason why as well, is because if you're Iranian living in Iran, you're not allowed to be employed by anyone in the US, for example, because of the economic sanctions.

Say you are working with someone that you really like and they are Iranian, but you can't employ them legally. You can get around that. You can still communicate with them over the Internet, and you can pay them in cryptocurrency. That's one way it's used. Of course, because of the issues there as well, their currency isn't very stable. It's another issue.

But if you look at it at the country level as well, we already know that Iran and Venezuela have been mining Bitcoin. They are accumulating cryptocurrency and using that to trade with each other. Any of the banking rails that the US has a finger on are not allowed to accept money that is going through these countries, or they have to go a very roundabout way of doing it, or they have to do it in cash. If you're a country trading goods, are you just going to bring buckets of cash? I don't know.

[:

Right.

[:

So, I remember you said, I think you've had Brett Scott on before.

[:

Yes. Yes, I have.

[:

So the way that I think about it, Brett Scott made really good points that helped me understand this very well, which is that cryptocurrency is basically a very good tool for counter trade. So I'm totally on board. Right? Bitcoin is not money. It is basically digital assets,

[:

It's an envelope.

[:

It's sort of being imparted value due to various reasons. But if you are buying something with Bitcoin or accepting Bitcoin for something, 99% of the time, you are doing it with an actual monetary value in mind, I can buy $20 worth of something online and I'm paying $20 worth of Bitcoin for it. I'm doing like a counter trade for that thing in replacement of money.

So that's how you're able to get around economic sanctions in that respect, with the use of cryptocurrency is through counter trade. And I think that is more the truth than Bitcoiners saying, see, Bitcoin is money if we think it is money, because that's not really how it works.

[:

Right. That's really powerful. So we've got a million US dollars, but we actually need a million yuan or yen, so they would trade that out and get the currency that they want to save in. I imagine that if I'm in a country that has got USA's Imperial thumb on it, that by doing this, I'm able to hold, dare I say, an ambiguous or nebulous placeholder that is a store of whatever currency value I need to trade in.

And then once it gets to the edge where the transaction occurs, that person can take that and translate it into the currency that they want to cash out on something to that effect. Whereas the US dollar is specific. You have to pay your taxes in US dollars. There is no getting around it. I can't pay US taxes in yen or anything else. But if I had crypto and I did a bunch of transactions somewhere and then I went to pay my tax, I could cash that out, use the cash that they need in the US. Is that a fair statement?

[:

Yeah. More or less. Like I said, Bitcoin is not money, right?

[:

Sure.

[:

When you're a country that is wanting. Well, actually, let's take the example of Edward Snowden. We know that Edward Snowden used Bitcoin to pay for servers, because if you use a bank account would be like a very silly thing to do whenever you are a whistleblower.

[:

Right.

[:

It's just not an option. If you're smart enough and want to get away with what you're doing, which Edward Snowden did get away with what he was doing. And that's a good thing. But so you can pay the server providers in Bitcoin, and then they can take that Bitcoin and turn that into US dollars if they want to. And if they need to.

[:

Sure.

[:

That's where you get into the gray zone, okay. Are they going to turn it into US dollars or not? Do they care if they turn to US dollars? It's hard to say it's context dependent, I guess.

[:

Sure. Well, you said something else, too, that I think is important. And as you know, I've spoken with Rohan Grey, who's now famous in the space or infamous, depending upon which angle you're coming from. And he's a lawyer and so he comes at this from a legal perspective, a legal framework. But when you said smart contracts.

I immediately think of who's enforcing those contracts. How would you make sure that without the state, how do you enforce a smart contract outside of the realm of the government?

[:

So a smart contract is essentially an automatically executing computer program that says if these conditions are met, then do this. Except now with smart contracts, all that really means is that we're doing it on top of a blockchain. And that probably also means that we're using cryptocurrency with that agreement. Smart contracts are not the same as a legal contract, right?

Say, legal contract has the state which enforces it. It has all of these different agencies that are part of it. There are several different people involved in order to go through whatever is the national process for dealing with what is said in the contract and determining what is legal and what actually doesn't mean anything.

In a legal contract, I know that you can write a bunch of different clauses that are actually not legally enforceable, but in a smart contract, admittedly, it's more strict, right, because a computer is more strict, what conditions have to be met and what outcome comes out of that. So I can think of a very simple one. Let's say if we want to do a fundraise, so we say if we reach X amount of money or X amount of money worth in cryptocurrency, then give all of the money to what we were fundraising for.

If not, you can also do that. If we don't reach the actual goal, then return everyone's money. What is really, really important, I think to understand about smart contract is that even though it is very precise and some may see that as a negative, in my opinion, what that actually just means is that you just need to be aware of what you're getting into and what are the possibilities that could come out of that smart contract.

So what that means is that a smart contract, to me, is a very open and new design space for new forms of economic expression or not even constrain it to economic expression, but to many different types of expression. But economy is a big part of that. So right now, what we're seeing out of smart contracts by and large are essentially new financial products.

This is what people call DEFI or decentralized finance, and I think a big part and reason why that is just because all of this time has happened in the cryptocurrency space, the left has been out of it, not in it and not taking a part of it. And so a lot of more right-leaning libertarians and many other different political camps. I try to avoid painting with a very large brush the cryptocurrency space. Although I will admit there are a lot of right wing libertarians, they have been able to dictate and decide what are the first things we're going to do with this technology.

[:

Right.

[:

And so I think that's a big reason why we're seeing just a lot of very speculative and a lot of just variations of financial products that are already available to people who are investment bankers at really big banks that normal people wouldn't have access to.

[:

It's interesting, because what I find as an MMTer, as someone that focuses on fiat and large collective projects in my mind anyway, right? Is that as we're walking through this particular space in the absence of lefties, the right is dictating the terms. But so much of what is used to bring people into that space is lies, right? And some of it is misrepresentation or just not understanding.

But for example, if a government spends money on its people, that it's, quote, unquote debasing the currency? Well, which currency is pegged to the gold standard? Because the only way you're debasing a free floating fiat currency is if it's pegged. We haven't had that since '71. We have a free floating fiat currency and the way that works is the government spends it into existence, or which sadly happens more often than not, a bank lends you at interest to get money into the economy.

But when the federal government taxes it, it doesn't re-spend it. The government deletes currency when it receives it. It's the creator of it. So it has no need for your currency. It just has it there is the obligation that drives the need for said currency. And that is how a fiat system works, in general, is the obligation to use that currency is what keeps its value up.

So when people say that the US is debasing the currency and everybody repeats this mantra, it's a lie because the people that are at the top that are making these claims know it's a lie. So this disconnect has fueled so much disinformation at so many levels. The attitude, the desire for revolution and some very near level assessments, we're ready for revolution. But the fact is we're not.

They're not paying attention to this. And so if I can't create a revolution, I either have to reform or I have to do something in parallel. And that's possibly how I see the left's use of Bitcoin. But I also see it as this playing on the idea of austerity of a false scarcity based on some fake economic news that we're debasing the currency. I think that you have to attack this from both angles, right?

If you want to go out there on blockchain and you're using it for next gen type stuff, that's fine, but you still live in a fiat world regardless. How do we get the blockchain left to realize the way fiat works as well so that we have a two-headed dragon. We're never going to get a green new deal with Bitcoin. It's not how this will happen. It's going to have to come from the nation state to mobilize through the power of law. How do we get people to understand there are two battles going on?

[:

I think most people in my community understand how government spending works. The libertarian story or the liberal story about you have to tax and spend. I totally understand the frustration. I think MMT is a very good explanation of how governments spend money and where money comes from in the nation states in most of our lives.

Where I think MMTers get wrong when it comes to cryptocurrency, they're taking too seriously the spokespeople of the currency world. I totally admit 99% of Bitcoiners will talk about what you're saying, that government spending is bad and that the US is terrible because of huge debts. And we're all going to go broke eventually. It is a very silly story. And so they like Bitcoin because of its artificial scarcity.

But when I say artificial scarcity, I'm talking about a specific type of artificial scarcity in that it is their attempt to try to make something like gold, like a digital gold and that they have a cap, right? There's X amount of Bitcoin like as if there's X amount of gold in the world that you can ever create. So that's going to be the maximum.

It's really heavily based on this commodity theory of money, and especially libertarian view that the best type of money can be abstracted away because it's backed by a commodity which has objective value, as if gold is really objectively valuable. So I think part of the issue is that a lot of these first cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, were designed intentionally, with this hard money view in mind.

They encoded hard money into Bitcoin. It does not have to be hard money. You could if you wanted to copy and paste the code of the Bitcoin network and where it comes from and you can take out the line of code that there is only going to be 21 million Bitcoin, you can adjust a couple of other things and you can turn it into a non-hard currency in this sense.

[:

Very cool.

[:

You can also if you want to if there were a bunch of communists or Socialists in this space and they were really early and they wanted to make a cryptocurrency, I think what we would have probably prioritized is having a more Democratic attempt at making a cryptocurrency. So I think part of the frustration about the monetary system and the way the government spend their money.

I think everybody feels the frustration. Libertarians are also frustrated with the way that money is spent. I think we on the left are also frustrated the way that money is spent because the government uses these lies about having deficits. But I would argue that the frustration ultimately is caused because the monetary system is very non-democratic.

Yes, we have zero say in what happens to our money, where our money goes. If we make new money, basically, what money is deciding is where do we prioritize putting our resources in the economy and in society?

[:

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[:

It's funny I could take my MMT world view and ours would line up what you just said. I think that we all share in that ideology that we need to provide a more Democratic way of providing credit, deciding where money is spent, how it's spent, where our national real resources should be allocated. I think where that line goes, though, after that becomes very different. I think that that's exactly the battlefield, what you laid out, the ethos that we all share.

[:

Yeah. So I think libertarians, they're frustrated because they have no control over the monetary system. It's a somewhat similar frustration. They're just going about it pretty wrong. And the solution that they propose is pretty wrong. And so I think the only alternative that is at the moment being presented to people is the Bitcoin alternative is this hard currency alternative.

And I think that is attracting a lot of people who are anti-establishment to their side. And it's being used as a way to introduce a lot of these frustrated people to right wing libertarianism. And that is a danger.

[:

Yes. yes, it is. Why don't we talk about that for just a second? Because one of the things that I was impressed with during your interview with Glenn was that I felt like he was laying a Breadcrumb trail for you to say, yeah, libertarians are okay. Yeah. It's good. We should all be one. You were like, well, you know, I do cringe at the idea of fascists doing this stuff. I do not want them to be, but I'm here to try and make the left have a presence.

I just felt like it was really powerful that you didn't just say it's all equal ideology. Of course, you let your colors be known. You didn't hide that. And I felt like that was why I needed to have you on the show, because that's a courageous stance. I haven't given up who I am just because I'm trying to use this technology. I'm still a lefty, and I still cringe at fascism. I wanted to say that I thought that was fantastic.

[:

Yeah. Thanks. I guess Glenn calls himself a civil libertarian, so I think he sort of goes back and forth between both sides, and I think he's playing his specific role that he thinks he needs to play in. But I just needed to be true to myself. And I know that I have to be very, very careful with my words because I've been doing this for a while now, and I know it's very easy for people to misconstrue what I say and what I mean.

I think sometimes I get branded as, oh, that's the weird socialist that's telling people to buy Bitcoin. I could not care less if people go and buy Bitcoin. That's not the message that I want to give at all.

[:

Right. And I appreciate that. So let's take a step back for just a second. We have an understanding, if you will, of governments trying to take on not a cryptocurrency to be traded on the open market, but stable coins and government sponsored not necessarily crypto in the sense that the government has to mine them so much as a government style blockchain coin.

To your point, that all they would have to do is eliminate that little line of code and you've got a Fiat feel kind of thing. So what do you think is the relationship now with government trends as they're working within this space? What are your thoughts in terms of the government space? Where do you see this going?

[:

What you're referring to is what's called a central bank digital currency, CBDC. You'll hear it referred as. And this is an idea that I think governments are sort of feeling the pressure of cryptocurrencies a little bit. And there are different people within this space who have slightly different opinions. Either it's people who are really big believers in blockchain, and they are either a political or Liberal or whatever.

And so they want to introduce it into their governments because they think it will help for whatever reason, or it's people who feel like they have to respond to the cryptocurrency world, which is growing. But the idea is that usually CBDCs, they may or may not use a blockchain, but they do use usually some sort of distributed ledger technology or DLT, it's called some sort of distributed database to handle and keep track of all the transactions.

And it's difficult to comment on it completely because there aren't so many specifications out there for what governments exactly want to do with it. I think there are two main ways to think about how this could be implemented. One way, which would be, I think, somewhat interesting, actually, is for a country to create a CBDC as a replacement for retail banks.

So if you're a country who does not care about their retail banks and you want to get rid of them, you can create a CBDC, which allows for citizens to create a bank account with the central bank rather than through the retail bank. That's a possibility. (Interesting) the other way and the more likely way. I think if it is ever to be introduced in the US or in Western countries, what is much more likely I think, the retail banks would have custodianship over your CBDC, so they would be custodians of CBDCs.

What's difficult is that there are a plethora of different ways. You can imagine it being implemented, and it's not 100% clear what's going to happen, just the fact that countries feel a lot of pressure. They feel like they need to be at the cutting edge of this, and they feel like they could prevent potentially people from getting more into cryptocurrency by offering their own similar type of cryptocurrency thing.

But there's a lot of technical challenges and things like that. Within nation States, you should be limiting yourself in this digital world, probably just to people who are citizens. If it is a completely decentralized network, if it is just Bitcoin, but it's US dollars, that doesn't really work, right, because anybody can create a wallet on the Bitcoin network, and that poses a problem and high risk for the currency and for that country.

[:

Sure. Yeah.

[:

It's difficult to say, I'm more on the side of very wary and generally probably kind of bad just because I'm generally distrustful of most governments, to be honest at the moment, to do it well, but you could imagine a way in which you do it. Well, I don't know if you ever read "Another Now" by Yanis Varoufakis.

[:

I have it in my list, but I have not read it yet. I need to get on reading it.

[:

Yeah. One of the interesting things that he proposes in this fictional story of the future was that everybody has their own account directly with the central bank, and all retail banks were removed. You just remove basically a very, very parasitic aspect of the monetary system. I think of retail banks that make money off of the money that they loan out.

So the way that the monetary system is arranged right now is there is more debt than there is money and supply. Yes, it's not a healthy way to run a society.

[:

It's a disgusting laughable one at this point. Absolutely.

[:

You could imagine CBDC doing that, but I'm on the side of that's very unlikely to happen.

[:

I heard with this being digital and knowing a little bit about the way packets work, the possibility of putting timers into coin and making it so that we can eliminate some wealth accumulation by making money productive again and you either have to spend it or lose it and just vanish. Is this something you've read about or heard about?

[:

Yeah. So demurrage. Demurrage is just an idea as a way to get people to spend their money. Is that their money sort of expires over time. And so it's something that is a very difficult thing to implement. If you're just using paper cash, you could put an expiry date on the money or something like that. But there are some issues with that.

I think what you can do the added benefit because of the digital nature of cryptocurrency, is that you can encode that via software and you have a lot more space for design to try to do demurrage with paper cash is you are limited by physics, right. But within a digital space, you are not limited by the same type of physics. You create a UBI except the UBI amount expires after a couple of months so that you cannot accumulate wealth as quickly as you otherwise would. So it promotes people to spend their money.

[:

The thing is, if you're a UBI person, I'm not by the way, but if you were a UBI person and you get that $1,000 or whatever the heck it is, you're probably not the person that's doing a whole lot of saving. You're probably in that position where you're spending anyway. I guess one of the closing questions as we get near the end here is, how do you see this impacting empire in general.

Because a leftist being against Empire is pretty much part of the DNA. Does this just simply take away the weaponization of sanctions. Or is there another avenue here by which we're not seeing that blockchain and DEFI could possibly help eliminate some of the Empire aspects?

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Just to be clear, I'm not a techno determinist or techno utopian. If you hear from Bitcoiners, they will talk about how Bitcoin is going to bring down the US government or something like that. That's not an automatic result that's going to happen simply because of its existence. It really highly depends on who are the people involved in the technology and what are they using it for?

What are the social movements behind it? So I think without the Left, I don't think necessarily that cryptocurrency isn't going to single handedly bring down Empire. I think what's just more likely what we already see is that things like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are like a spigot of relief for some of these countries that are under sanctions and that undermines the US to a certain degree.

But I don't think that alone does not undermine it completely at the moment, unless there's something really incredible that I'm not really forseeing. I don't see that necessarily happening. But if there was some very concerted efforts to create specifically a type of currency that becomes very successful, specifically meant to undermine the United States, maybe that would be something like a very powerful tool, but that would probably be in conjunction with a broader social movement with that specific goal. So I think it really depends. I'm always afraid of making these big predictions. The US is going to fall.

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When I look at the Constitutional Convention in the United States thinking purely in the US centric fashion. We have libertarians, and we have right wingers that have for 50 years, been planning local and state government takeovers dominating the courts, the local schools, state houses across the country. And the left thinks we're going to have a Constitutional Convention and get money out of politics.

Well, the right wing for over 50 years has been working tirelessly to prepare to bring about a balanced budget amendment and some other things that would bring any kind of leftist ideas to their knees. And so the Left often thinks it's got this larger than it does more cohesive army, which we know as Lefties, is a joke to think that we're all on the same page.

I look at that sort of similarly, yet a space because I feel what you're saying. Some of the stuff you're saying is really speaking to things that I feel as well. However, how does the Left make a dent in that space? You see my point? I think that sometimes we just overestimate.

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So I think I mentioned this earlier. I don't like to paint the entire currency space with one brush, and I think that's something that commonly happens. And I understand the feeling in my experience, what I've seen is that the Bitcoin space is a very right wing dominated space. I would say almost all of the figure heads, except for one or two that I can think of are very overtly right wing.

The one or two guys that I'm thinking of that are figureheads that have pushed back against the right wing in the space are simply not strong enough with the entirety of the Bitcoin world behind the other side. One very funny thing that I thought about, actually, is that if the left really wanted to get rid of Bitcoin, I think the government would be much more likely to regulate it out of existence, potentially if it was a bunch of communists running Bitcoin than it is like a bunch of right wing libertarians, right.

But yeah, the government cares a lot more about that than they do these crazy libertarians. Also, Bitcoin is heavily influenced by certain right wing tendencies, especially libertarianism. I would argue that the cypherpunk and open source movements were also very influential, and these are not overtly right wing necessarily all the time, especially open source.

I would even say a lot of people who are very, very amenable to communism. But over time the right wing has come to dominate, and that was a very explicit political campaign that was led by figures on the right to do that. And so I think that's just why we see that today how it is. There are other spaces that are much more amenable, much more open in its politics and much more influential type of spaces.

So one space that I think is really interesting, but the problem is, it's very difficult to explain it in just 1 hour of time. But one space, I think, is really interesting is the DAO space of decentralized autonomous organizations. A lot of people who are interested in DAOs, I think, could very easily be influenced by leftwing politics because of the things that they are already naturally interested in.

So a decentralized autonomous organization is essentially an organization of people in which they utilize smart contracts to facilitate the governance of their organization. So it's a very fluid term and can mean very many different levels of reliance on a blockchain or on smart contracts, so it doesn't have to be everything is done by smart contracts 99% of the time that is not the case, but a lot of these people are interested in DAOs because they're interested in decentralized ownership.

And what is decentralized ownership other than the workers owning the means of production? Workers owning the means of production means we are decentralizing, the owners of capital to be everybody rather than just capitalists. And therefore we abolish capital in that way through that process.

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I like it.

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So I think that this space of DAOs, I will admit it's not an easy space to get into. The problem is that because whenever you first start learning a blockchain, you just get bombarded with right wing libertarian shit. And the DAO space is a couple of levels above the normal crypto space.

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You got to have some staying power. You got to be willing to fight through the shit storm.

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Yeah, and I'm really sorry, that is just the reality, but I made my platform to try to help people a little bit get through that shit storm. From my own perspective, I've done live streams of blockchain 101 for Socialists and things like that, but yeah, I'm just one person and I can't do it all. I know that I'm one small blip in the ocean of very heavily funded right wing libertarian figureheads.

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Yes, I appreciate that very much. So let's close this out. What are some of the things you're working on? Where can we find you? And I'm excited to talk to you in the future, because there's a lot more we could have explored today.

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Yeah, sure. So my website is theblockchainsocialist.com. I have a blog and a podcast. Every Sunday, I publish something. Usually it's something written or it's something audio. I also have a Patreon where every once in a while patrons get something just Patreon exclusive, which are usually Q and A type of things. I just answer very specific questions on my own.

Most of my podcasts are interviews with other people that are on the left that are in the blockchain space so that they can have a platform to speak or just people that may not be overtly left, but they're working on projects that I find interesting. And then if you are really interested in learning more about or looking into projects that are more overtly left wing within the blockchain space, I have a project that I'm working on called Bread Chain for the Bread Chain Cooperative.

So it's basically meant to be a left wing response to the blockchain space, basically trying to overtly explore left wing use cases for the use of the technology.

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Very good. The idea of establishing use cases, testing them, making sure that they are fit for purpose and test out. I think that's a fantastic empirical way of looking at things. Take the ideology out and simply look at the effect. Does this work? If it does move forward to the next space? I think that's a fantastic approach.

In any event, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. This has been incredibly insightful, and I've got a lot to think about. This is definitely stretching me and you're such a gentleman and such a decent guy. I just really appreciate it immensely. So thank you so much for joining me today.

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Yeah. Thank you so much for being open to speaking to me about it, because I know sometimes it can be difficult to want to speak about these type of things, and it's so politicized and people react very, very strongly when you bring these type of topics up in left wings spaces.

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I'm one of them, but this was good. I really appreciate it. I do hope we can have you back on again in the future. Sure.

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Yeah. Anytime.

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Fantastic. All right. This is Steve Grumbine with the Blockchain Socialist with Macro n Cheese, out of here.

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Macro N Cheese is produced by Andy Kennedy, descriptive writing by Virginia Cotts, and promotional artwork by Mindy Donham. Macro N Cheese is publicly funded by our Real Progressives Patreon account. If you would like to donate to Macro N Cheese, please visit patreon.com/realprogressives.

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