“Changing the world, one Bitcoin at a time” is a mantra that fits into the picture of socialism, the greatest social experiment of the 20th century. But the question is, would Karl Marx, the father of socialism, embrace Bitcoin if he were to be alive today?
I would reply in the affirmative and to be clear let’s go back in time to 1917.
It’s the year 1917. The Bolsheviks, by their thousands, are storming the Winter Palace with guns in their hands and a socialist ideology in their heads. The bloody overthrow of the Romanov dynasty is inevitable and it is only a matter of months before Tsar Nicholas II, alongside his family, is brutally killed.
Fast forward to 17 July 1918, the Tsar and his family are dead and so is Tsar Russia. The Bolsheviks take over the country, crush the White Army and set a new order in motion.
While historians might argue over the inevitability of the Russian Revolution, it remains a historical fact that the event of 1917 led to the overthrow of one of Europe’s longest-reigning and most powerful monarchies, the Romanovs.
The social and economic conditions of Russia, an agrarian country in a technologically advanced Europe, would partly justify the revolution and the entrenchment of socialism which was the prevalent ideology in Europe at the time.
“Workers of the world, unite!” cried Karl Marx at the end of his co-authored book, the Communist Manifesto. According to Marx, ”they have a world to win and they have nothing but their chains to lose”.
These ending lines from the Communist Manifesto got me thinking about what Marx’s view would have been about Bitcoin, which, fast forward to today, has a similar appeal in both the social and economic context of the existing global order.
The Russian Revolution was the whirlwind of the seed planted by Karl Mark when the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, sixty -nine years before the Revolution.
The momentum it gathered, up to the time the last shot was fired, indicated that there was nothing that was going to stop an idea whose time had finally arrived.
In 19th-century Europe, the conditions that would have made Karl Mark embrace Bitcoin were readily present, and if it did exist in the in the 20th century, the Bolsheviks revolutionaries, who fought the Tsar’s armies tooth and nail, would have weaponized it to further their agenda.
In short, Karl Marx would have been a Bitcoiner in deed and in words because Bitcoin would have primarily been a tool that could be used to tear capitalism to shreds, and, what’s more, Marx’s entire life was unapologetically devoted to that cause.
Both Bitcoin and Socialism have their roots in the social economic conditions of their respective eras and in the disenchantment that their inventors expressed toward them in their writings.
In 2009, a solitary Satoshi was sowing the wind of what would later be known as Bitcoin, as the world was further sliding into one of history’s biggest financial crises.
Similarly, in the chaos, despair, and hopelessness that characterized 19th-century Europe, an enraged disillusioned Marx found the calmness to dissect the prevailing conditions of the world, and in response, he offered an alternative world–one full of hope and promises–and beckoned on the masses to make it happen.
Therefore, it’s safe to deduce that not only are Bitcoin and socialism compatible ideologies but also that both Marx and Satoshi Nakamoto would be on the same wavelength if they ever met.
Why Marx May Embrace Bitcoin
There are three key features of Bitcoin that may likely appeal to the 19th-century philosopher Karl Marx, namely: decentralization, transparency, and scarcity.
Bitcoin’s decentralized nature is very much similar to Marx’s belief in a classless society where the means of production are owned by the workers themselves. Bitcoin is not controlled by any central authority, and its transactions are verified by a network of computers. Socialism also advocates for a decentralized economy, where businesses are owned and controlled by the workers themselves.
The fact that all Bitcoin transactions are recorded on a public ledger, where anyone can see how much Bitcoin is being transferred and to whom, is likely to appeal to Marx’s belief in the importance of transparency in an economic system that allows everyone to know how their money is being used.
Bitcoin not only advocates the redistribution of wealth but also there is a limited amount of Bitcoin that can ever be created. This makes it very compelling to see Marx embracing Bitcoin as socialism also advocates for policies that redistribute wealth, such as progressive taxation and social welfare programs.
Bitcoin and socialism are decentralized systems. It’s safe to deduce not only are they compatible ideologies to a large extent but also that both Marx and Satoshi Nakamoto would be on the same wavelength if they ever met.
Finally, whether or not Marx would embrace Bitcoin would depend on his personal conviction of the cryptocurrency’s potential to achieve socialism’s goals of social justice and economic equality.
This article was originally published by Olayimika Oyebanji on Hackernoon.