Bitcoin Puts Power In The Hands Of The Workers

A former communist party member on how Bitcoin may help avoid the violence that historically accompanies economically-induced social unrest.

This is an opinion editorial by Frank Kashner, founder of

In 1971, I joined a communist party while working in the factory of the highest-paid General Electric (GE) defense plant in the country. I was repulsed by pictures of our military dropping napalm on Vietnamese children, convinced that the justifications of our government were lies, and I was drawn to the idea that “the working class” would soon take over the world and create a utopia.

The group that I joined was split off from the American Communist Party. It was supposed to be “democratic and centralist.” I quit the group after two months when it tried to give me orders without understanding what was actually happening. I saw that it was all about Centralism without any democracy. But I stayed in the GE factory for 13 years, participating in movements that reformed both the worker’s union and GE.

But what about “revolution” and who are the “workers”? I did not have a violent bone in my body, and treated the terms “revolution” and “workers” like metaphors, not taken seriously by me or anyone else (including our probable FBI monitors). But the need for dramatic social and political change stayed with me, and my notion of the “workers” grew to include almost everyone who is not a billionaire or flunky.

Over the years, I have participated in personal, union, community, school, environmental and political reform efforts, always aware that, even though we often won victories, we were shoveling shit against the incoming tide of empire, greed, militarism, autocracy and disintegration.

In 2017, I met Bitcoin and was entranced by the idea of money that was independent of corporations and governments, that was limited to 21 million, created by solving math problems, guarded by vigilant nodes, decentralized and not rigged by and for the elite. Over this past year, I have learned from the brilliant Bitcoin community, including people like Jeff Booth and Jason Lowery. Bitcoin is a tool of international, non-violent economic revolution against corruption. Bitcoin strikes at the heart of corporate and governmental theft from our families, of our labor, our property and our intellect.

Wake Up To Bitcoin

This applies to every governmental fiat, debt-based system in the world. In his magnificent book, “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” David Graeber shows us how national, debt-based systems always result in inflation, and then in war and revolution. Bitcoin does not replace the need for political organizing and resistance, but I am now convinced that political and economic reform cannot succeed peacefully without Bitcoin. For the first time in history, Bitcoin offers a non-violent path to stable and increasing value of our labor, in all of its forms, for we “workers of the world.” Progressives have been slow to do the work to understand economics and Bitcoin, and to join this movement. To them, I say, “wake up!”

Many of you reading this have tried to reach friends and relatives about Bitcoin, often without success. For some of them, I have a possibly more compelling message.

Graeber points out that our economy has depended upon military spending as great as all of the other nations of the world combined. This spending has in turn depended upon the dollar being the global reserve currency. Other nations are now moving away from the dollar. That movement, plus the billionaire wealth gap (grab), plus our current mountain of debt and the resulting inflation, is running out the clock of our economic system. This result follows:

Our crumbling infrastructure, insurance-dominated healthcare, insufficient housing, schools under attack, racism, misogyny, religious nationalism, an inability to respond to the destruction caused by global warming, and our dissolving social fabric are problems that cannot be solved under our current debt-based economic system. As our economy inevitably declines, every other just cause suffers. If you care about any of those things and the future of our children, then you need to learn about Bitcoin.

Every government in the world, capitalist and communist, is now deep in debt, the money stolen from current and future generations. They are all unsustainable, economically and environmentally. They are all Ponzi schemes. And like all Ponzi schemes, they depend upon our knowledge, belief and acceptance to keep going. Historically, systems that reached high levels of misery and inequality, ended in revolution, war or both.

Bitcoin Changes Things

For the first time in human history, we have a vehicle that goes to the heart of our financial and economic system. It is increasingly available for both savings and transactions. It steps around police and military batons, guns and tanks, and establishes unimpeachable value for our labor, for our remittances home, for our savings and our retirement. Lowery posits that Bitcoin can replace much of our over reliance on violent military (non)solutions.

The corruption of our political systems sits atop patronage and cultural hierarchies, some, centuries old, some modern. The hierarchies, dominating both U.S. political parties, are designed to shield and obscure those responsible (remember Jeffrey Epstein and his client book?) and limit participation in organizations for change, including Bitcoin. Our ability to have a say in how we are governed, at the federal, state or city levels, is decreasing as schools and towns face budget shortfalls, in step with the declining value of the money in our pocket.

Our democracy is under attack. At every level. This decline, as measured by groups that track freedom worldwide, corresponds to the U.S. dollar’s decline in purchasing power. The dollar (including the value of our labor) goes down, freedom goes down! Massive strikes, demonstrations and resistance to the disintegrating world order are occurring in other countries, but are poorly covered in our corporate media.

Teachers, medical and healthcare workers, farmers, machinists, retail workers, transportation workers, the underemployed, the unable to work, of all countries: it is time to unite. We have nothing to lose but the chains of billionaires, their flunkies, their rotten financial and political system and their often cruel or clueless managers. For the first time in history, we have a tool that values our labor and ideas, that steps around their corruption, that enables us to transfer value at the speed of light, to avoid their fees, to make use of stranded and wasted energy.

Bitcoin is a peaceful, worldwide economic revolution with profound social and political implications. No weapons other than your learning, imagination, courage and participation are required. And you will have to see through all of their propaganda, their fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) aimed to delay, devalue and defeat it.

This is a guest post by Frank Kashner. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Without Democracy, Bitcoin Will Fail

Despite its apolitical nature, Bitcoin needs our democracy to thrive just as much as our democracy needs Bitcoin to improve.

This is an opinion editorial by Frank Kashner, founder of

“Politics” are often defined as “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”

Do we wish for Bitcoin to achieve power? Yes, though power for Bitcoin is different from power for one person or an economic or political entity. But we are still talking about power, as expressed through the design and implementation of code, proof of (electrical power) work, the internet, exchanges, editorials, blogs, laws, courts, schools and politicians. The Blocksize War, which I lived through, was ultimately a political-power conflict, won by those in favor of node decentralization. This article and this magazine are themselves political actors in the contest for future monetary and political power.

Ultimately, monetary freedom, Bitcoin, is just one aspect of freedom. For those living in the U.S., another aspect of freedom is our political rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights and Constitution. As such, even our terribly-flawed democracy is worth defending and extending.

But it seems that many Bitcoiners don’t see it that way. For instance, Jimmy Song, who I respect and have learned from, has opined that, maybe, our democracy is so flawed that it deserves to be abandoned. But I suggest that Bitcoin and democracy need each other and that the alternative, autocracy, would be horrible.

Bitcoin, Forever Caught In The Currents Of Political Power

A friend recently pointed out that our current political divide can be seen as one between those focused on freedom and those focused on equality. Like two points on a line, we in the Bitcoin community can find unity around similar visions of what Bitcoin in a democracy makes possible. But we also need to look at the relationship between Bitcoin and democracy and imagine the dark alternative: living in an autocracy that is able to seize our property and violate our other rights.

In 1941, a time of great political conflict, in his work “Talking Columbia,” Woody Guthrie famously sang, “Don’t like dictators, not much, myself, But I think the whole country ought to be run… By electricity!”

Electrification, a then-revolutionary technology (not unlike Bitcoin today in some ways), was a technology opposed and supported by various business interests and their hired politicians. Even today, a quick search reveals major opposition to electrification efforts.

Like electricity, Bitcoin is now and will be forever caught in the currents of financial and political power. It is the very nature of a change of Bitcoin’s magnitude. Consider what we have already seen: China bans Bitcoin, Canadian truckers use BTC, El Salvador defies the IMF and makes bitcoin legal tender, BTC emerging in Ukraine, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) denies the application to make GBTC into an ETF, Nigerians start to use Bitcoin, and currently, “Operation Choke Point” as the SEC impedes bank access for Bitcoin companies.

These currents account for the presence of political freedom, a functioning democracy, as well as the legal status of Bitcoin. For further evidence of Bitcoin’s intrinsic ties to democracy, look to The Human Rights Foundation, which has an arm led by Alex Gladstein that uses Bitcoin to enhance political and economic freedom, specifically in some of the worst autocracies in the world.

Bitcoin Is More Fragile Than We Think

A list of Bitcoin’s fundamental properties includes decentralization, antifragility, protection against confiscation, an incorruptible development system, proof-of-work security and protection from the nodes that defend it. Yet, I think we are naive about its strength.

It is easy for us who live in the democracies of the West to assume that the rule of law, which protects our property and freedom, is a given. If we lived in China, North Korea, Afghanistan, Turkey or Russia, we might not be so sanguine.

While Bitcoin makes an attractive Trojan horse (number go up, sort of) to some of the rich and powerful, opposing interests could create legislation and policy that could eject Bitcoin from the empire’s monetary gates. Yes, we could still function “underground,” but think about what that would look like.

Today, Bitcoin is tiny, and those in power have subtle ways to delay and deny its widespread adoption, like claiming that “mining is destroying the environment” or claiming that “a bad actor like Sam Bankman-Fried is a political operative.”

Consider how authoritarian governments that use threats of prison and violence treat Bitcoin. They have no problem with confiscation, even if they seize mining machines (as happened in Venezuela).

And there are other issues with what we consider to be Bitcoin’s immutable properties: Why are there so few Core developers, and what are the implications of this for Bitcoin’s future? Why are there so few nodes (about 16,000) relative to total Bitcoin users? Why are government agencies throttling exchanges and promoting misinformation about energy value and usage?

It is our democracy that allows Bitcoin advocates to advocate, lobby, broadcast, have businesses and go to court. But our democracy, weak though it is, is under escalating threat by corporate forces who would prefer no regulation and autocratic power for themselves. I predict that they will defend the U.S.-dollar-based system. To prevail, Bitcoin and democracy advocates need each other.

Some broadcasters in the Bitcoin arena or their guests declare that it is the managerial and political classes that have all the power. This is simply not true — see, for example, “Who Rules America?” by William Domhoff, “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer, “Democracy In Chains” by Nancy MacLean or “Shadow Network” by Anne Nelson. These are well-documented looks at how those who would turn the United States into an authoritarian country have significant power and have advanced that agenda over the last 50 years.

In conclusion, Bitcoin needs democracy and democracy needs Bitcoin. Both systems are dynamic and constantly in flux, which makes our task complicated. I hope this perspective helps me and others convince Bitcoin advocates to pay more constructive attention to our political system, and helps democracy advocates to pay more attention to the economic freedom inherent in Bitcoin.

This is a guest post by Frank Kashner. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.