The Libertarian Roots of Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency)

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Bitcoin Libertarian Roots

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You might have read that Bitcoin was the creation of libertarians, the playground of hackers and anonymous people over the Internet. The short answer is: yes.

As mentioned above, the Bitcoin white paper (a document describing the technical aspects of the technology) surfaced in a mailing list. That list was subscribed to by self-titled cypherpunks, activists who advocated cryptography and privacy technologies in a bid for social and political change.

This happened in 2008, a time when the world was still reeling from the aftermath of the most recent global financial crisis. Occupy Wall Street had happened. Huge financial scandals had been exposed. Greece was free falling into bankruptcy. National debt was spiralling.

People all over the world had lost jobs, homes, life savings. And they blamed the big bankers, Wall Street, the governments; institutions that they had trusted their hard-earned money to, people they loaned money to and people who had misused their trust.

In many ways, Bitcoin was a representation of that frustration with the global banking and financial structure. If we couldn’t trust the banks, if we didn’t want to pay high fees and unfair commissions to middlemen, if we didn’t want to risk our life’s work suddenly disappearing overnight, then we had to take charge of our own money.

The libertarian desire of freeing one’s self from the yoke of the state was obvious with Bitcoin. Thanks to its underlying blockchain technology, the early founding concepts that linked Bitcoin to libertarian ideals were possible:

  • a decentralized system (no more intermediaries or authorities governing or managing it)
  • that was distributed in nature (people voluntarily helped run the network)
  • transparent (everyone could see what was going on); and
  • immutable (you couldn’t tamper or modify information stored on the network).


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