A new UN working paper argues that the bitcoin community has a tendency towards “techno-colonial solutionism” and “techno-libertarian evangelism” in proposing the digital currency as a solution to issues in the developing world.
Authored by independent researcher and consultant Brett Scott for the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, the paper provides a primer on the basics of bitcoin and discusses the technology’s potential applications for remittances, cooperative structures and micro-insurance systems.
However, it also flags potential “points of concern and conflict”, such as a tendency for the bitcoin community to promote tech-from-above “solutionism”, and to “evangelise” libertarian political ideals.
By contrast, the paper further considers blockchain 2.0 technologies with “more overtly communitarian ideals” and their potential for creating “cooperation at scale”.
Disconnected from ‘gritty social reality’
That cryptocurrency is based on collaborative open-source principles and peer-to-peer networks suggests a commitment to social solidarity and mutual aid, says Scott.
However, citing Yelowitz and Wilson’s 2015 paper “Characteristics of Bitcoin Users”, he says bitcoin’s image has become associated with “speculators, profit-driven entrepreneurs, market-fundamentalist libertarians and technology fetishists”.
While bitcoin has been touted as a solution for the unbanked of the developing world, there remain doubts as to the viability of the