Down with the bourgeois! ¡Viva la revolución! Steve Bannon (of all people), the former White House Chef Strategist, is said to be developing a cryptocurrency based reward platform that will be used to reward political activists and those engaged in activity that challenges political ideology. According to Wired, Bannon wants to create a cryptocurrency to power a ‘global populist movement’ one that will provide a new and alternative financial system. Whilst this might sound like an empowering project, we have some initial concerns, especially given Bannon’s alignment with far right activism. Is this going to be a token designed to finance racism and xenophobia? We certainly hope not… So, what’s actually happening? According to Wired, an investor named Jeffrey Wernick is set to work alongside Bannon on this project. Wernick once had a prolific role at the Salomon Brothers bank so therefore comes with a wealth of investment and financial experience. According to Wired, Wernick is set to meet Bannon over the next month to discuss this idea and streamline a real working model for this brand new cryptocurrency. Wernick has said, the project:
“Would provide financial services, and a reward for political activity, not necessarily for one party, but just for participating in the process: for supporting independents, not just democrats or republicans. It will be a reward for activism not necessarily in one particular party—but more for political activism outside of the establishment.”Moreover, it seems as if Wernick only wants to work with Bannon to tap into his customer base and his reach and doesn’t necessarily agree with Bannon's political alignment:
“While not a nationalist himself, Wernick believes cryptocurrency can help turn around the fortunes of the impoverished working class. And he hopes that Bannon could be the right catalyst to spread the gospel of cryptocurrency among the disenfranchised masses. ‘He has an audience of 40 million people. His ideology is not interesting to me, it's the audience that he has’ Wernick says, adding that he has tried to involve other people in the project, and made contact with some supporters of Bernie Sanders – a cohort Bannon is eager to win to the populist cause.”You can see the full article for yourself, here. We would love to know how this might work. How on earth do Bannon and Wernick intend to reward political activists? Do they set them tasks that they must complete or is this going to be more benign and instead, fund contributions of information sharing and anti-establishment storytelling for example? How will the token exist as a political tool, without aligning towards a political preference? Surely you can’t reward both sides of a political protest for example? To me, this seems to be a bit of a media train more than a real solution that aims to provide concrete funding to real, honest political activists. It also seems quite dangerous and could be used to feed wrong and damaging ideologies. It’s dystopian, a little creepy and actually, something that the world doesn’t really need, but hey, let’s see what Bannon and Wernick come up with, perhaps this could turn out to be quite the empowering tool indeed.