A U.S. author and academic has written a book on how bitcoin supports the spread of extreme right-wing political views in a deceptive manner, claiming distributed ledger technology’s resistance to centralized control is an extreme right-wing concept.
David Golumbia, an assistant professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University’s English department, denounced bitcoin in a blog post titled, “Trump, Clinton and the Electoral Politics of Bitcoin.” Golumbia also recently published a book, “The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism.”
An Insidious Force
Golumbia claims bitcoin contributes to the spread of right-wing ideas in political philosophy and economics without explicitly making those ideological associations. He said the democratization and freedom that distributed ledger technology offers can resist central interference, which he considers an extreme right-wing concept.
The book’s publisher has promoted Golumbia’s book as new scholarship.
Golumbia claims bitcoin and blockchain politics are intersecting with the current U.S. presidential election. He said there is a fair amount of support for Republican candidate Donald Trump among bitcoin enthusiasts, and that there are connections between Trump and bitcoin.
The Trump-bitcoin connections are found among Internet communities fueling the deployment of distributed ledgers, and among the emerging empowering technologies.
The Trump-Bitcoin Axis
The angry, “other targeting,” false ideologies supporting the Trump phenomenon can be found in online communities that frighten right-wing political action, Golumbia’s blog noted. He said people should be worried about Trump and about how bitcoin and other aspects of online discourse fuel the “studied ignorance” and hate that cause people to support Trump.
Golumbia discussed his book in his recent blog, noting that the book is not directly about electoral politics, but the political and economic theories that inform the development of bitcoin and blockchain. He said his view does not require direct connections between promoting bitcoin and supporting one candidate or party.
Golumbia’s book does not mention Trump. It does, however, condemn libertarian aspiration to self ownership, personal autonomy and freedom from central authority.
Extreme ideas were gaining more traction in the name of bitcoin, beyond the extremist literature they were previously confined to, Golumbia said. Such ideas are not merely contrarian or heterodox, but part of a world view developed by right-wing ideologues.
What About Left-Wing Bitcoiners?
Golumbia acknowledged that not all bitcoin enthusiasts are right-wing extremists. Asked to account for bitcoin enthusiasm among left wingers, Golumbia said it is difficult to understand how a minority of non-right-wing bitcoin enthusiasts can resist the political values that are literally coded into the bitcoin software.
Golumbia bemoaned the rising bitcoin enthusiasm in the mainstream left.
The blog noted that a session at the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative 2016 conference featured Jamie Smith, a former special assistant to President Obama and now the global chief communications officer of the Bitfury Group, and Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, discussing the blockchain’s “tantalizing future.”
Golumbia complained about de Soto’s praising U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and candidate Hillary Clinton. He denounced the Clintons as “neoliberals.”
Golumbia called de Soto a chief architect of neoliberalism. He noted the “most poisonous and influential figures and institutions” of neoliberalism are Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and the Mon Pelerin society, supporters of far-right, world-dominating economics.
Golumbia also noted how transparently and easily bitcoin fits into the right-ward shift seen in so many places today.
Images from Shutterstock and Virginia Commonwealth University.