Behind the crypto hype is an ideology of social change

These crypto enthusiasts often cite examples of what they see as government corruption and corporate corruption. They recognize that society depends on governments and corporations to set and enforce rules, and they complain that people are trapped in these “corrupt” institutions. Corruption, they say, is an unavoidable flaw in humanity and leads to attempts to control and mistreat others.

The enthusiasts see Bitcoin, blockchain and other crypto technologies as an alternative to corruption. They state that these new technologies are “trustless” and do not rely on institutions. You can buy and sell things with bitcoin without checking with a bank or using government-issued cash.

These two beliefs – that governments are corrupt and crypto avoids corruption – are common among the crypto enthusiasts we studied. But enthusiasts go one step further. They seek change. They want to change who has power and who doesn’t.

They claim that crypto is the way that change will happen. For crypto enthusiasts, using crypto is not just a way to buy and sell things. Using crypto technologies, they argue, will make society less dependent on governments and businesses. That is, using crypto — and getting as many people as possible to use it as much as possible — is one way to change the world and take the power away from governments.

Pushing an ideology

These beliefs about who should and should not have power in society embody an ideology. An important part of crypto ideology is that this change cannot happen unless people use crypto. Technology and ideology are linked.

For many of these enthusiasts, recommending crypto to other people is not just a technology recommendation. For them, buying and selling crypto is a form of political and social activism. They claim that buying crypto will remove corruption and change society to trust technology over government.

Belief in crypto’s ability to create social change is also being exaggerated. Crypto technologies do not necessarily eliminate companies or avoid government control. There are private, corporate blockchains and many government regulations about cryptocurrencies. The way I see it, simply using the technology doesn’t necessarily lead to the social change these enthusiasts aspire to.

Rick Wash is an associate professor of information science and cybersecurity at Michigan State University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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