Many analysts have described Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology as having the potential to cause disruptions in many aspects of human life. Libertarianism which is at the heart of blockchain technology is often at odds with the established order of the state whether capitalist or otherwise.
Bitcoin came at a time when the world was recovering from a severe financial crisis that had far-reaching effects. Thus, many were immediately drawn to a system that sought to eliminate the middleman.
In less than a decade, blockchain technology has become one of the most recognized technological movements in the world. The basis behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is at the heart of the business and financial debates all over the world. Opinions are usually split with supporters claiming cryptos will rule world and critics saying cryptocurrencies will not last long. Government for their part has fallen into three categories; supportive, ambivalent, or dismissive. In the midst of the economic debates surrounding this breakout technology, one essential aspect of the Bitcoin ethos seems to go unnoticed and that is cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are a powerful tool for agorism.
Agorism is one of the most explicit expressions of libertarian thought in which the trade relationships between people are entirely voluntary in a manner that lends itself to counter-economics. It is a peaceful, yet powerful form of social and financial revolution. In countries like Venezuela and Brazil, blockchain technology is being used to lessen the degree of hardship brought about by the failure of government.
Venezuela is a case study of how far a country can fall. Go back a few years, and it was by far the wealthiest nation in Latin America. The oil boom provided record revenues for the country, but the government failed to diversify the economy. Thus, when oil prices fell, the economy crashed spectacularly. Now, Venezuela is in the midst of a recession of epic proportions with an inflation rate that is unprecedented in the modern era. Citizens have taken to Bitcoin mining to generate foreign exchange so they can buy goods from abroad. The country’s tight monetary control policy and insistence of controlling every aspect of the economy mean that there is virtually no private sector in the country.
While Bitcoin mining offers a means of surviving under harsh economic conditions for many Venezuelans, the government has tried to crackdown on the enterprise. Many Bitcoin miners have reportedly been arrested under false charges. Some might point to the country’s efforts to float its petro cryptocurrency as justification for the Bitcoin mining crackdown. According to people like Rodrigo Souza, the founder of SurBitcoin, a crypto trading platform in Venezuela, the government-led crackdown on Bitcoin mining has done little to discourage miners in the country. According to him:
“People haven’t stopped mining, they’ve just gone deeper underground.”
Decentralization is hard to kill, something many oppressive regimes are beginning to find out. With Bitcoin and blockchain technology proving itself as a viable tool for social and financial emancipation in regions with unfriendly state apparatus, it is getting more difficult for critics to say the technology is nothing more than a fad.