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(en) Canada, Collectif Emma Goldman - [Cryptocurrencies] Who benefits from bitcoin? (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]
Tue, 28 Sep 2021 10:34:25 +0300
Money is a central issue in economics, and therefore in politics. In recent
years, there has been increasing talk of digital currencies. The emergence of the
bitcoin cryptocurrency a little over ten years ago has sparked the interest of
many people and institutions, including the central banks of major economic
powers. It is therefore time to take a closer look. ---- Text from the
Libertarian Communist Union website. Link to the original, here . ---- To reflect
on the issue of digital currencies, let's start by realizing that we are in fact
talking about a digital transaction system, not to be confused with the currency
itself: a digital euro would always be a euro, would be governed by the same
rules. (creation, destruction, storage, etc.) imposed by the European Central Bank.
What transaction system would we like?
To avoid creating an additional control and monitoring tool, the only solution
would be to reproduce the cash transaction system which is completely focused
(possibility of carrying out a transaction from one party to the other directly
without depending on a third); is anonymous (no need to be identified); does not
allow just anyone to create money.
With physical money, it's easy: a transaction from A to B corresponds to the
transmission of physical objects (coins and banknotes) from A to B. When B
receives banknotes from A, the latter no longer has them ( no creation). No need
for identification or any third party to ensure the transaction: the value is
carried by objects that are moved.
Are cryptocurrencies the solution?
In the digital world, it is much more complicated to combine these three
properties. It is easy to implement a centralized system that guarantees the
third property, but not the first two. Bank transfers for example: banks act as
central authority which operates a writing game (subtract X from A and add X
to B). It does not work anonymously (banks must know A and B) or acentrally (A
cannot transmit the money to B without going through the banks).
We often hear that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin make it possible to do without
banks and other trusted third parties because they are decentralized while being
secure. But do they necessarily correspond to something desirable? To answer this
question, we must explain a minimum of how cryptocurrencies work.
A cryptocurrency is above all a blockchain , i.e. a register (the history of all
transactions in the system) which has consensus(everyone has the same
register) and which is tamper-proof ( impossible to modify an entry in the
register once it has been written), all without depending on a central authority.
Each participant has an identifier, and the amount available in their account is
calculated by looking at the history of transactions concerning this identifier.
Regarding anonymity, a blockchain can therefore only pseudonymize transactions,
since like bank transfers it is a writing game and it is therefore necessary to
identify the starting accountsand arrival of each transaction. It should also
be noted that if the system is decentralized, it is not focused: two parties
cannot carry out a transaction without depending on the rest of the network,
because the latter must validate each transaction to add it to the ledger and
return it. thus effective (writing in the register is performative, by definition).
We do not have the place here to go into the technical details, but it should be
understood that the main innovation which makes it possible to ensure the
security of blockchains requires a lot of calculation (therefore of electricity
expenditure) to validate transactions (this is referred to as proof of work )
- this is called mining . To the point that the energy part of the cost of
validating a transaction in practice concentrates this activity in the hands of a
small number of actors, which limits decentralization accordingly (to encourage
mining despite this, miners are rewarded with newly created cryptocurrency when
they validate transactions).
Cryptocurrencies are therefore quite far from offering the ideal transaction
system, and also have other concerns such as their inability to manage a number
of transactions corresponding to what we would actually need, even on a local
scale. Finally, what little they allow, they do at the cost of unacceptable
energy consumption given the current climate crisis.
The main counter-argument to this criticism (once the so-called "green energies"
have been put aside ...) is an alternative, less energy-consuming method of
validating transactions: the proof of stake, or rather than having us make
unnecessary calculations , the system encourages keeping and accumulating money
... Beyond serious technical security issues, proof of stake therefore raises the
concern of even more linking money to the technical transaction system than proof
The control of money, for example monetary creation, is a powerful tool which
should be put at the service of the social and the ecological, whereas it is
currently in the hands of finance (it is the private banks which have printing in
the euro zone). The geographic and temporal limitations of money can also be
important economic tools that must be able to be democratically controlled.
Typically, alternative local currencies can encourage short circuits and
discourage accumulation, for example by automatically devaluing money that goes
too long without being spent.
Is a reasonable digital currency possible?
Maybe, but with other technologies. For example, the free Taler project is a
transaction system (usable with any currency) that reproduces as much as possible
the properties of cash, being based on a system of exchange of value-carrying
tokens, rather than on a register.
Pablo (UCL Saint-Denis)
This "consensus" has little to do with the usual notion: the idea is just that
everyone sees the same thing, not that everyone agrees, politically for example,
with This thing.
The cryptomonnaies generally use wrongly the term "portfolio" ( wallet ) to
talk about these accounts.
The name "energy currency" would be more appropriate than "cryptomonnaie".
Estimates put bitcoin's energy consumption above that of Norway.
This has been implemented for example with the Pyrenees, in Ariège.
Posted 16 hours ago by Collectif Emma Goldman
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