What is the political philosophy baked into cryptocurrency? The answer depends on the cryptocurrency. This piece by an Irish professor specializing in digital society issues considers the political philosophy of ether and the Ethereum blockchain.
"Cryptocurrencies are best understood by examining the community structure and cultural values they exhibit, rather than the economic activity they create. ... Each culture embeds its values into their blockchain. ... The Ethereum blockchain is often conceptualized as a shared world computer. This computer is agnostic about what happens on it. Ethereum says we are just the infrastructure and how you organize yourselves is up to you. ... But to be the neutral infrastructure is deeply political because it expands Ethereum from an economics experiment, like Bitcoin, into an experiment in public goods provisioning. ... The Ethereum community collectively creates the infrastructural conditions for new forms of governance. These new forms are alternatives to the inherited ones and implicitly propose to replace them. These surrogates will provide functions previously provided by corrupted democratic states and neoliberalism, but in more decentralized ways. Ethereum is 'minarchist.' Minarchism is a libertarian position advocating a night-watchman state. Associated primarily with philosopher Robert Nozick, minarchism advocates an almost completely anarchist position where all government functions are eliminated except those related to security (police, army, justice). In Nozick’s hands, the night-watchman state is a right libertarian concept, but in Ethereum’s it morphs into a left libertarian one. The community mutually provides and maintains a shared public good, the Ethereum world computer, but after that it’s hands-off, i.e. libertarianism. ... What unites cryptocultures in achieving their various aims is a 'hash, bash, cash' model of decentralized organization. Users hash it out by treating the blockchain as a shared locus of cultural truth and ensuring it remains so. Bashing it out refers to the discourse and cultural values expressed socially among the community. Cashing it out refers to the centrality of money in the cryptocultural experience: investing, trading, exiting. All these experiences bind the community as a culture. We hash, bash, cash for different reasons, and the assumptions found in one cryptoculture do not carry into another. In Ethereum’s case, the community hashes, bashes and cashes in order to provide and maintain a shared world computer, a public goods infrastructure. That’s the mutualism. This infrastructure then houses experiments in hypergovernance, that’s the minarchism. Ethereum’s political philosophy is mutualist minarchism."
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