Insights

Is El Salvador Creating A Bitcoin Dystopia?

In a recent article posted in Bitcoin Magazine journalist Anita Posch details her thoughts on visiting El Salvador for 3 weeks to see how Bitcoin becoming legal tender has affected the region and communities. Posch surprisingly writes that “Bitcoiners are being played for President Nayib Bukele’s power fantasies of a new Bitcoin City, whose original plans were downloaded from the internet.” 

Posch continues to make some solid points about the philosophy underpinning Bitcoin and how A government mandating a business accept it is fundamentally counter to this Crypto Ethos.  A government is the only business with a monopoly on the use of force. They also were (before crypto) the only viable means through which transactions could be governed. If you buy a product you must accept the currency that the government forces you to accept. So when the El Salvadoran government forces you to accept bitcoin… you must accept bitcoin.  This defies the freedom from force and voluntarism that defines many in the bitcoin community and cypher punk space. 

You shouldn’t force others to take or not take Bitcoin. It should be a choice that they are free to make for themselves. In this way a party is not under coercion and transacts based on volition. Posch and I both agree. El Salvador accepting bitcoin as legal tender is a huge victory for Bitcoin. Yet a government forcing people to accept it as payment is a huge setback for what bitcoin stands for: Separation between Government and currency. 

What El Salvador ought to have said is that Businesses are free to choose for themselves, but the government recognizes that bitcoin is legal tender. Anything other than this could inadvertently usher in a dystopian nightmare. Imagine a government using crypto currency as a way to further control and surveillance. This would be the very antithesis of what BTC represents and is also an unfortunate side effect to the Bitcoin protocol.

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