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What Bitcoin Did with Peter McCormack

Jan 21, 2022

Location: London
Date: Thursday 13th January
Project: LNbits, NOSTR
Role: Bitcoin and free open source software advocate

What are the politics of Bitcoin? Satoshi in a post in 2008 said “It's very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly.” And, it certainly has garnered a strong libertarian following, principally because of its unique utility to undermine governments’ control of money.

However, Bitcoiners are a broad church. The original cypherpunks philosophy was predicated on anarchist ideals, to work outside of government controls. This attitude is analogous to a wide variety of political philosophies, including those on the left who feel disenfranchised by the current global capitalist hegemony.

There is a strong and growing group of left-leaning Bitcoiners, who see the protocol as a radical means of achieving a fairer society where the levers of power and organisation are controlled by a community rather than elites.

This may trigger a powerful section in Bitcoin whose views are antithetical to those on the left. And yet, this broad range of communities with divergent dogmas have all enabled Bitcoin to develop its critical mass. This is because early adopters viewing Bitcoin as a philosophy, whatever that philosophy may be, has inspired ardent advocacy and robust hodling behaviour.

It surely underlines the genius of Bitcoin’s protocol if those with seemingly divergent opinions can all lay claim to the benefits of the technology. Furthermore, history has shown that robust societies are ones where ideas are debated, tested, and then synthesized. If we can do this as a community we have a real opportunity to lay the foundations for a more open and fair society.

In this interview, I talk to Ben Arc, an industrious Bitcoin and free open source software advocate. We discuss the attraction of Bitcoin to those on the left, Bitcoin as a commons for society, developing open source applications to take on big tech, and Marxism.