addendum: on cryptocurrency

this was originally posted on cohost and has been cross-posted here for discoverability.

software is eating the world
the slogan of the venture capital firm a16z, part-owner of facebook, twitter, linkedin, coinbase, opensea, and solana; started in 1996 by marc andreessen, former cofounder of netscape: one of many guys who expects you to believe that the past 25 years of wildly centralized, exploitative internet history, from which he personally has benefited to the tune of $2 billion, are something he was merely a passive bystander to, and that he actually loves decentralization and freedom

it is our corporate policy that cryptocurrency is a scam being perpetrated by the finance industry — in particular, but not limited to, venture capitalists — on everyone else on earth.

the supposed ideal of liberal democracy is that currency policy is controlled by the people: “one person, one vote.” (obviously, in practice, this deserves a thousand asterisks.) the stated goal of proof-of-work cryptocurrency is to place it under the control of the small cartel which owns 51% of the mining hardware; the stated goal of proof-of-stake is to place it under the control of the small cartel which possesses 51% of disposable wealth. these will, obviously, ultimately be the same cartel — but even if they weren’t, they both represent a marked retreat from an ideal which society supposedly still holds.

similarly, the end goal of non-fungible tokens is to gradually nudge their way into more and more impactful types of property recording, until the property rights they currently make hollow claims to represent are actually enforced at gunpoint. DAOs are just a reinvention of the millennium-old concept of the joint-stock company — but the people responsible for them have wormed their way out of oversight hard-won with the grief of centuries of fraud victims, and the bylaws are written to be read and enforced by machines rather than humans.

the characteristic of these systems being supposedly “autonomous” organizations is supposed to make these entities less fragile than traditional human organizations, but we have a long and growing list of evidence that it does exactly the opposite — because they’re built in ignorance of the fundamental fact that all of their forebears were created to be convenient abstractions which simplified the complex work of existing in human society, not as an ideal form we are trying to mold human behavior around.

this is all so manifestly obvious to us that we have zero interest in further explaining why we believe it, and even less interest in debating it.

we know there are sincere progressives who have decided that these systems are inevitable, and that the veneer of decentralization offered by them makes this the ideal time to invest a bunch of effort in somehow winning victories for the left, at the vanguard of a massive formal surrender of the power of the state to capital. to those people: this “decentralization” exists in currencies already (before all the really rich people show up!) owned 90% by the top 10% of addresses, and majority-mined by three pools which have strategic partnerships with a single mining hardware manufacturer. we think you’re wasting your own time and the time of everyone who listens to you, and don’t want to help you in this. they are going to lose — they have to lose, eventually, or else we’re all dead — and we think you should attempt to use your time better elsewhere, instead of working on a new implementation of a form of cooperative organization or social-impact investing that already exists.

are you providing criticism of cryptocurrency, even if you occasionally note that its backers have a point? that’s great. thank you for keeping your head screwed on straight, even as rich people spend more and more time and effort trying to unscrew it.

are you an artist who minted a work as an NFT out of curiosity, and you want to talk about the work on an equal footing with your other, “art 1.0,” works? that’s okay. we think the people who got you into this are trying to rip you off, but we’re happy to have you here on cohost.

but we’re drawing a line in the sand around actively promoting cryptocurrency and their ilk as systems, even if you think you’re on the side of the revolution. please don’t bring it here. we will be harsh and probably a little arbitrary about enforcing this.

sorry about that in advance, but also we’re not actually.