Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

The Utopian of the Blockchain technology: hidden ideas behind the IT (r)evolution

Barbaroux Nicolas, University of St Etienne- GATE (UMR 5824)
Odile LAKOMSKI-LAGUERRE, University of Picardie

The economic history has given many examples of utopian projects from which a new economic functioning could be possible. While being both a literary genre and a mode of political reflection, the concept of 'utopia' has long designated what was imaginary, between unreality and ideality. Since the 1970s, radical techno-utopians have imagined an experimental digital currency, designed as the key tool to realize their futuristic projects: protecting privacy, obliterating governments, upsetting the established order and bringing about a society in which technology would overcome all the ills of humanity. Firstly, we wish to shed light on the equally important influence of a current of transhumanist philosophy called ‘extropianism’ which is behind the blockchain revolution. Founded by Tom M. Morrow and Max More at the end of the 80', extropianism advocates the salvation of humanity through a faith in progress and unlimited science and technology. Extropians therefore aim to obtain the exact opposite of entropy, the loss of energy from a system resulting from its operation and friction with its environment. Extropy then consists, for the human being, in overcoming the constraints of his condition, by increasing intelligence, longevity or even immortality by means of new technologies. This techno-utopia contained in Bitcoin is twofold. It is first, through a disruptive technology, to bring about a new society, decentralized and rid of intermediaries and a surveillance State. Second, bitcoin would allow the accumulation of capital that does not devalue, waiting after death to be brought back to life through technology. This helps to understand the particular design of Bitcoin and the conception of value attached to it. Digital metallism and faith in money as a store of value are thus at the heart of the Bitcoin myth. Secondly, the publication of Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 opened the door to an old utopia: the one of a bankless universe without any intermediaries. The Scottish Free Banking example, to name a few, is one example that demonstrate the contrary. Thirdly, the recent vagaries of the digital assets’ values enable us to question the relevancy of the Classical theory of Finance. A first answer to explain this wide instability could be found on the endogenous features embodied in a digital asset. However, this question is worth considering beyond the proper scope of Finance. An history of economic though approach could be enlightening In short, we will consider three main utopian projects: (i) the transhumanism ideas; (ii) the decentralized banking sector and the (iii) the theory of value.


Keywords: Extropianism; Blockchain, Theory of value

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