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Blockchain Radicals: How Capitalism Ruined Crypto and How to Fix It
by Joshua Dávila


"Blockchain Radicals" by Joshua Dávila offers a progressive critique of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, challenging the dominant narratives surrounding it and proposing a radical vision for their use as tools for social justice and liberation.

The book argues that the left has been too quick to dismiss cryptocurrency and blockchain as tools solely serving right-wing libertarian agendas, missing their potential to empower social movements and challenge capitalist institutions.

Key arguments:

  • Cryptocurrency is not money: Dávila debunks the myth that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "better money" and emphasizes their limitations as a store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange. However, he highlights their value as a tool for circumventing financial blockades by governments and institutions, as seen in the cases of WikiLeaks and Sci-Hub.
  • Code is not law: While smart contracts can automate certain functions of legal agreements, they cannot fully replace law and have inherent vulnerabilities to hacks and bugs. Nonetheless, Dávila acknowledges their potential in areas like decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized court systems.
  • Beyond finance, towards coordination: The book explores how blockchain technology can be used for building alternative economic and social systems beyond financial speculation. It examines the potential of mutual credit systems, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and platform cooperatives as ways to democratize ownership and decision-making.
  • Climate action and social justice: Dávila criticizes the “greenwashing” of cryptocurrency and its often-heavy environmental impact through Proof of Work consensus mechanisms. He highlights the emergence of Regenerative Finance (ReFi) as a movement seeking to align financial systems with ecological regeneration, but cautions against relying solely on carbon markets as a solution. He also emphasizes the importance of deconstructing the narrative of individual responsibility for climate change and highlighting the role of systemic power imbalances.
  • Rethinking political systems and action: The book explores how blockchain technology can be used to enhance democratic processes and facilitate direct action. It examines alternative voting mechanisms like quadratic voting and conviction voting and discusses the potential of cryptocurrency as a tool for mutual aid and labor organizing.
  • The importance of privacy and anonymity: Dávila acknowledges the dangers of blockchain technology for privacy and anonymity, but argues for its potential to create anti-fragile systems resistant to surveillance and censorship. He explores projects like DarkFi and Idena that prioritize privacy and anonymity.
  • Building a crypto economy for the commons: The book emphasizes the need for a radical vision for blockchain technology, emphasizing its potential to democratize ownership, empower communities, and advance social justice. It introduces projects like The Commons Stack and Breadchain Cooperative that are working to build a crypto economy aligned with these principles.
  • Techno-probabilism: Dávila advocates for a techno-probabilistic approach, recognizing the uncertainties surrounding blockchain technology while emphasizing the agency of social movements in shaping its development and ensuring it serves progressive goals.

Overall, "Blockchain Radicals" provides a compelling case for the left to embrace the revolutionary potential of blockchain technology while acknowledging its complexities and potential pitfalls. By understanding the technology’s potential for both empowering and reinforcing existing power structures, the left can strategically harness its tools to build a more just and equitable world.