Bitcoin is a decentralized system of digital authentication that facilitates the circulation of value on the Internet without the presence of any intermediaries, a characteristic that has often gained it the definition of digital cash or crypto currency, since it can be used as money for payments.

This article consists in a technoetic inquiry into the origins of this technology and its evolution. This inquiry will take in consideration the biopolitical dynamics that govern the Bitcoin community as well specific characteristics of the technical realization, aiming to provide insights on the future of this technology as well a post-humanist interpretation of its emergence.

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The most powerful forces, those that interest us the most, are not in a specular and negative relation to modernity, to the contrary they move on transversal trajectories. On this basis we shouldn’t conclude that they oppose everything that is modern and rational, but that are engaged in creating new forms of rationality and new forms of liberation.
(Negri & Hardt, 2010, “Commonwealth”)

This article doesn’t aim to describe what Bitcoin is to the reader: there are several information sources that already accomplish that, starting from well designed video animations, vast numbers of press and academic articles listed on the wikipedia entry, and even a rather positive dramatization in an episode of the popular TV series “The Good Wife”.

Rather than divulging the functionality of Bitcoin or its vulnerabilities, or even building an interpretation of it according to economic theories, this article investigates historical and philosophical aspects related to the emergence of this technology. In order to do so, the writer has been involved for more than two years within the Bitcoin community, engaging in both cooperative and critical exchanges with its peers.

Money is a fundamental medium upon which to build constituency and consolidate sovereignty. This research investigates the need for such a constituency, its urgency and emergence as a form of subjectivation. Ultimately this article provides a picture of the cultural context in which Bitcoin was grafted and has grown up to what it is now, offering keys to interpretation of its social and political aspects.




  • Fritz123

    Well, it is like property on the moon. It is illegal but when you have possession it is impossible to stop. I would not suggest it. Everybody can try it at his own risk.

  • Fritz123

    I would not call it money, btw. It is not a currency. It represents value. Because it does work. Within a certain community. It depends on this community. I would call it speculation.

  • Fritz123

    It is also an illusion. If you think it can replace money. It is a capitalistic dream.

  • EdmundBerger

    I think that a valid discussion around things like bitcoins are something that is utterly necessary at this point, especially for members of the alter-globalization movement and other anti-capitalist strands. Can this be done, however, without the knee-jerk reaction that bitcoins and the like are simply anarchic manifestations of the neoliberal dream? I think so – perhaps we can draw on Manuel deLanda’s work on the distinction between markets and anti-markets, and his urges to abandon the term ‘capitalism’ in discourse, in analyzing bitcoins. deLanda assigns the term ‘antimarkts’ to corporations and the state (i.e., the two defining characteristics of neoliberal capitalism), monoliths that destroy the grassroots ‘meshwork’ of really existing markets. The problem arises with that fact that any fgiven market’s emphasis on growth triggers an inevitable transformation towards anti-markets, and that markets themselves, while theoretically horizontal in nature, can (but not necessarily) reinforce hidden transcripts of power and hierarchy.

    I dunno, food for thought!

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  • Heinrich Elsigan

    the price of bitcoin is based on an independet trading market like stocks, funds, assets or commodity market, but the currency in that you buy them is still set up by the value of your currency. Since end of Bretton Woods System fixed currencies also became free floating.
    So you can compare bitcoins to gold, stocks or any other virtualized medium of exchange, that exists. When you buy BMW-stocks from US and the $ devalues and later you sell the stocks, you might get more money. When you bought gold options in 1996, you would get even after the crash this month much more money, cause of inflation of all currencies. Do you know, how new bitcoins are generated? Is there a limit (e.g. like physical gold or freehold property) or is it like a currency, where a central bank (or in that case a lot of decentral users) create more of them, after certain rules? If yes, who can change these rules? Is it based on democratic votings? And if yes, does it include minority rights, like a modern democratic state?

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  • AnonyÓðinn

    abis[dot]io – check it.

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