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The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism (Forerunners: Ideas First) Paperback – September 26, 2016
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"Golumbia, in his small but important way, is helping wake us to the falsity of our perceived neutrality."—One Flew East
"This book is a very readable and valuable monograph which combines sound historical research with insightful analysis. All concerned citizens should read this book, which is an essential resource for understanding the true stakes of current technological hyperbole."—Newsclick
"Golumbia a le mérite de s’attaquer à des idées qui ne sont pas suffisamment remises en question dans les communautés de la cryptomonnaie et des technologies de chaînes concertées. J’en recommande fortement la lecture à quiconque s’interroge sur les impacts de ces technologies sur nos sociétés."—D’un bloc à l’autre
About the Author
David Golumbia teaches in the English department and the Media, Art, and Text PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
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Top customer reviews
No matter that none of this makes actual economic sense, and that such crackpot ideologies are dismissed by actual economists. Right-wing libertarians appear primarily anguished by the thought that a) they have to pay taxes and b) that someone else might gain benefit for their tax money. That they themselves are helped by tax money others have paid never occurs to them.
So then, their goal is to hide as much money as possible from the government, and even if doing so might constitute tax evasion and money laundering, that would be a-ok because they are doing it for a noble cause and the rules don't apply to them anyway.
Bitcoin is a perfect platform for this. However bitcoin proponents end up being incoherent. They claim paper money printed by governments is unstable and bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) will replace it. Except the price of bitcoin skitters wildly all over the place, so it's not stable at all. Plus, a few can and do manipulate the price. Thefts and ripoffs are common, and it doesn't scale. There's no way bitcoin - which can do a whopping seven transactions a second now maximum - will ever replace actual currencies.
At heart, bitcoin is about eliminating governments and replacing them with a deranged unworkable fantasy of an ungoverned global marketplace with no rules and no regulations, in which everyone is somehow supposed to be free. It's rubbish. A few on the top, the miners, will control it, and it won't be decentralized at all.
David Golumbia parses all of this in great detail in "The Politics of Bitcoin," explaining how and why bitcoin emerged from John Bircher nutcase ideology and still owes much to that, and why this should make the rest of us uneasy.
This book is a very readable and valuable monograph which combines sound historical research with insightful analysis. The issues discussed go far beyond Bitcoin and are directly related to broader Internet governance issues.
It is revealing to cite a previous comment posted on the Amazon web site for the book: “This article is a statist critique of Bitcoin and its ideological (anti-statist or libertarian) background. Which would be fine, except the author does not realize that statism is also an ideology, and thus does not understand the anti-statist position either.”
The author of that comment appears to equate the two ideologies, without taking into account the fact that state institutions are very real, and pervasive, and have been so for millennia, whereas the anti-statist ideology is a utopia that has rarely been implemented on any significant scale.
In fact, the private companies that are touted by right wing libertarians as the ultimate arbiters of most everything are thoroughly hierarchical, autocratic, top-down, organizations that embody the antithesis of anarchism and individual freedom.
As the book says, proponents of the demise of the state want the state when it suits them, namely to protect private property, intellectual property, etc., but not when it does not suit them, namely to protect users, consumers, and workers . This is corporate violence, which, if it continues unchecked, will surely be worse than the state violence decried by right-wing libertarians.
Thus all concerned citizens should read this book, which is an essential resource for understanding the true stakes of current technological hyperbole.
While the book is focused on Bitcoin and the Blockchain, and Golumbia is revealing the history and ideology of this particular movement, his story is applicable to almost every Internet technology movement we are seeing playing out right now from education technology to the APIs driving Facebook and Twitter. Where ideology is being wrapped in technology, hidden behind complexity, allowing technologists to shed and ignore any historical context along the way--leaving only those in the technical know with the ability to understand what is happening, and the average user unable to separate fact from fiction, and ideology from reality.
The Politics of Bitcoin is an essential read for anyone trying to make sense of this movement, and understand why it is so appealing to many technologists.
Most recent customer reviews
Fascinating topic, but the books just fails to deliver.
This is not a technical book but one that analyses the misconceptions and ideas about...Read more