Over the last few days the price of Bitcoin has experienced significant volatility, with the price recently breaking $10,000 only to come tumbling down again. The price volatility has also coincided with the even more volatile ongoings in the U.S, which is currently undergoing a time of unprecedented turbulence and anarchy off the back of the murder of George Floyd. This in turn has prompted notable individuals within the crypto space to vocalise their positions, but as is common practice within the crypto space, not everyone has seen eye-to-eye.
So who has been saying what?
Crypto Twitter speaks out
As the protests and riots continue to dominate news headlines, leading crypto entrepreneurs have come out on Twitter to give their views on the current situation.
Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Michael Novogratz recently took the opportunity to voice his and Galaxy’s position by sharing a Linkedin blog post, in which the noted hedge fund investor made it perfectly clear that he believes structural racism exists in all corners of society, and that the company stands with black people in face of their struggles. Novogratz also affirmed that Galaxy Digital will do more to evaluate and address conscious and unconscious bias within their own walls and within the crypto community, and also mentioned that the very tenets of decentralization underpinning crypto’s technology (empowerment for individuals, fairer institutions, and genuine liberty) was what drew the company into the space.
Adding further weight to the need for change off the back of current events, Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Butterin also took to Twitter to support the need for change by stating that “many old ideologies and coalitions are dying, and many new ones being born”, adding that the crypto space “needs to be watching carefully and adjust to new realities.” Other noted leaders within the crypto space also have chimed in with similar outlooks, and the CTO of Casa Jameson Lopp took the opportunity to bring Bitcoin into the mix, stating that the cryptocurrency does not discriminate on the basis of “race, gender, religion, age, nationality, or disability”.
However not everyone appears to have resonated with the protests and the discontent fueling them.
It perhaps comes of no surprise to some people that the noted cryptographer and early Bitcoin contributor, Nick Szabo, took a rather different tone when commenting on the recent events. A quick scan over the cypherpunk’s Twitter is rather telling, and unlike many of his contemporaries in the space, Szabo has instead taken the opportunity to proliferate claims that George Floyd died due to a drug induced heart attack rather than forced asphyxiation, and appears to be against the notion that black people experience disproportionate inequality within the U.S, instead spending time to reaffirm that white people like himself have suffered race discrimination. The diversion away from systemic racism was also reinforced by the founder and CEO of Bull Bitcoin, Francis Poulliot, who made it clear that he thinks that the state is the issue, not race.
It therefore appears that leading actors have had their fair share to say on the matter, and whilst there have been differing views on the current situation, it does appear that the majority have been aghast by the recent killing, and are consequently showing solidarity with the anger being vented by many of the protestors.
The question that must now be asked however, is does the crypto space have a social responsibility to speak out in solidarity with their black brothers and sisters?
Now is the time for crypto to live up to its communitarian ethos.
Quite simply the U.S is currently a very divided nation, and this will undoubtedly require a closer look from state and non-state actors alike for the purpose of bringing much needed change if it is to heal the very fabric of the country. It is also the position of the author that the crypto space and its inhabitants must also speak up in solidarity with the black community, and if not for moral reasonings, then for the very decentralised ideals which underpin cryptocurrency and blockchain. One only has to look at the purpose of Bitcoin and why it was created to see the validity in this statement.
Satoshi Nakamoto first shared Bitcoin with the world in 2008 as a new peer-to-peer electronic cash system with no trusted third party, and one upheld by cryptographic proof in order to replace the trust of humans in institutions and third parties. Satoshi’s new system instead allows for power to instead be spread across a network of users on the blockchain, resulting in users controlling a distributed ledger which removes the need for a central third party authority. Decentralisation and emancipation are therefore key themes which arise within Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and looking at the latest black murder at the hands of the centralised authority that is law enforcement, it can strongly be argued that it is the duty of all those who form the crypto community to speak out against the institutional racism that many black continue to suffer from. This of course could prompt the retort that the financial emancipation that crypto brings has nothing to do with race and politics, and is more to do with immutable and transparent code, but this would then fail the crypto community acid test when one acknowledges that crypto is made up of various races and ethnicities, and failure to stand with a demographic which is part of the crypto community would really undermine the values of ‘community’.
Now is an opportune moment for the crypto community to live up to its communitarian ethos by actively calling for equality, justice and unity. Failure to do so, and the communitarian ethos underpinning cryptocurrency may lose its standing, or at the very least, have it seriously questioned.