Bitcoin is not just a new way of exchanging value, it is a way of promoting new values. It is an ideological enterprise: a decentralised currency controlled not by governments or by banks but by people.
Back in March, when I was still starry-eyed about the potential for Bitcoin as a force for social good, I ventured that virtual currencies were no longer just a jazzed-up form of Monopoly money but may well be the thing that ends the monopoly on money.
And were you right? Errr. No.
Bitcoin now appears to be simply reinforcing the status quo by producing a new 1% of Bitcoin millionaires. The Winklevii are among these. Back in April they revealed they own around 1% of all the Bitcoins in existence, worth about $11m.
As Bitcoin grows in value, an emerging elite are wielding inordinate amounts of control over the currency’s future and are essentially becoming a de facto centre. A regular Bitcoin user may not be outsourcing their trust to the government or a central bank when they use the currency, but they’re not exactly outsourcing their trust to people just like them, either.
It’s the way of the world! Trying to stop human nature is like trying to reverse the Earth’s climate!
The principle of decentralisation sits at the very heart of Bitcoin, but this is being diluted by the currency’s success. To mangle Yeats: “Things fall apart; decentre cannot hold.” Bitcoin was once a revolutionary currency on every level. However, it now looks as if the revolution has been monetised.
Embrace it! Capitalism is the least worst system. It survives when all other fail.