How much ideological baggage are we seeing in the crypto community?
It is no secret that the crypto community is full of ideology. There is a very particular narrative. And they all seem to speak the same language. You could say that the community has a shared vision of life. Well, to say „life“ is perhaps going too far, but one could say that there is a shared vision of money and the economy. If we take the most well-known names in this space as a reference, they all seem to be reading from the same booklet. But do all bitcoiners think the same way?
To simplify matters, we could say that the bitcoin community is divided into three main camps. In this piece, I will take the liberty of naming each side. I must say that I have chosen these names arbitrarily, because, as far as I know, we do not yet have an official dictionary of terms in this area. The three sides: the militants, the mercenaries and the utilitarians.
Of course, more than perfectly defined groups, they are actually common. So, we could see these three currents as spaces in a circular spectrum. Each bitcoiner chooses a point within this spectrum. Some come closer to the „militant“ area. Others come closer to either of the other two areas. Some may be in the middle of two streams. Others may head a little towards the centre, which implies that their positions are a little more moderate. However, others may choose the extremes, which means that their positions are more radical.
The militants are the oldest and loudest group. But I doubt very much that they are the most numerous group. I would dare to say that the mercenaries and the utilitarians are the real majority. However, the militants are very present in the press and on the networks. In fact, the vast majority of the so-called „influencers“ belong to this side. And they practically have a monopoly on narrative. However, if we analyse Bitcoin’s fundamentals in detail, we would realise that not everything is ideology.
The militants adopted the old liberal ideology, especially the branch that promotes a return to the pattern and spirit of the Austrian school of economics. The only thing is that gold has to be replaced by Bitcoin. And the technological component of cryptography and computer science should also be added to it. Here we are talking about a kind of anarcho-techno-capitalist utopia. So, here the enemy is the , the power stations, the traditional financial system and the fiat currency. Here we have two subgroups. The „maximalists“ who defend Bitcoin’s supremacy. And the technonerds who believe that technology has other applications beyond Bitcoin.
The militants trust no one. They don’t even trust their own mother. Everything must be decentralized. And the individual must stand on his own two feet. Which means that our money must be under the mattress. Because the intermediaries are not reliable. Only we can have custody of our funds. More than wealth, fame or power, the most important thing is the freedom of the individual within an autonomous and decentralised system. The free market is wise and regulates itself. The government damages everything.
This group sees Bitcoin as a political movement. In other words, Bitcoin Revolution is a living proposal. The idea is to separate the economy from the state, abolishing the central banks and the fiat currency once and for all and using only Bitcoin. In this way, the economy will work like a charm, because the State could no longer damage everything. This is the importance of adoption. The goal is that we all start using Bitcoin as a form of payment to gradually wipe fiat money off the map. It is something like a process of evangelization.
Now, let’s talk about the mercenaries. That group sees Bitcoin as an opportunity for enrichment. At some point, they heard that there was some „magic money“ from the internet that was an excellent investment. They looked for information and decided to put money into Bitcoin to speculate on the price. The central objective here is to make money. Most of the miners, the traders, the funds, and the crypto companies belong to this side. The emphasis here is on Bitcoin as an investment. More than a form of payment it is a speculative asset. It’s as simple as that.
Then there are the utilities. This is the quietest group of all. But in my opinion it is one of the most important. This is the group that uses Bitcoin because of its usefulness. The gaming industry that can’t use credit cards in some jurisdictions uses Bitcoin. The Dark Web uses Bitcoin to hide from the authorities. The gig economy uses Bitcoin to pay off unbanked staff in other countries. The foreign exchange market uses Bitcoin to move capital. That group may not accept the ideology of the militants, or they may not have the capital or intention to invest in Bitcoin, but they use Bitcoin for their practical purposes, taking advantage of the lack of regulation and the benefits of technology.
However, the militants accuse the mercenaries of being greedy or immoral. The mercenaries accuse the militants of being unrealistic, hypocritical or fanatical. The utilitarians are ignored by the militants and the mercenaries. And the utilitarians, in turn, do not bother to participate in sterile debates because they are busy doing whatever they are doing.
All groups are important. And it is valid to belong to any of these sides. However, one caveat must be made here. The militants have hijacked the narrative. And one might be tempted to think that being a bitcoiner automatically means being a militant, when in fact they are a minority within the community. In other words, in this space, there are more crypto-investors than crypto-liberals. And this is perfectly demonstrable. The activity of exchanges is an example of this. It shows that the main activity within the crypto space is speculation. Moreover, the popularity of the phrase „Bitcoin price“ could be indicating that the balance is tilted towards investment, not ideology.
Why is it a problem that the crypto-libertarian voice predominates so disproportionately within this space? Well, because many bitcoiners are eager for financial guidance and the only thing that can be read in the specialised press is that the Federal Reserve is undermining many freedoms and that the dollar is destined to die. And I am afraid that many are not very interested in embarking on a libertarian struggle against the system. Many just want to be better investors.
It is a danger to listen to financial advice from militants, because in their passion they present reality with their very marked bias. For example, there is talk of „hyperinflation“ in the worst deflationary crisis in our recent history. They talk about Bitcoin as a safe haven when in fact it is a highly volatile asset. Knowing whether we have inflation or deflation is important, because it can affect our financial decisions when buying an asset or not. Having objective information is very relevant to the design of an intelligent investment portfolio, because a safe asset should be treated very differently from the treatment that a high-risk asset should receive.
There is room for everyone here. But to survive in this community we must understand very well the role of ideology in this space. Investing on Wall Street is easier in that respect. But crypto is the Wild West. It is possible to be victorious if we learn to live among the three great sides of the Bitcoin family (Adams).