Radicalism of Crypto
"The radicalism of crypto will be obvious to the truly crypto-pilled, regardless of political orientation. Over the past decade crypto first invited, and more recently forced, reconsiderations of basic concepts like money, banking, investment, borders and even the nation itself (Dávila repeatedly pushes back against Balaji Srinivasan’s "Network State").
One of the broadest “radical” potentials Dávila ascribes to crypto is its ability to redefine, and maybe revivify, “the commons.” Historically, European and other feudal or tribal societies were organized around an agricultural “commons” shared by a community. New land and labor regimes led these to be cut up into hierarchical private holdings (a process later known as "enclosure") between roughly the 18th and 20th centuries.
In its later stages, this restructuring was justified with the false and racist narrative of “the tragedy of the commons.” This trope has since become a rationale for all kinds of profit-juicing privatization initiatives, including modern patent and intellectual property regimes that can restrain the advance of technology.
In this light, crypto's fundamental structural reliance on open-source software development may be one of its deepest radical tendencies. Dávila also describes crypto as enabling new kinds of digital commons that leverage new mechanisms for shared property and incentive design. That’s just one aspect of the broader potential he sees for bottom-up economic engineering via blockchains.
Dávila also proudly embraces more in-your-face crypto-radicalism: he unapologetically lauds crypto’s potential for circumventing unjust laws.
He shares my awestruck admiration, for instance, for Kazakh developer Alexandra Elbakyan, an information insurgent on par with Aaron Swarz or even Edward Snowden. Through her 100% against-the-law site Sci Hub, which I am linking here, Elbakyan has for more than a decade been liberating publicly-funded scientific research from the vampiric grasp of fundamentally corrupt, rent-seeking “publishers” like Elsevier. She’s pushing back against one of the most glaring perversions of the common good by capitalist enclosure of public property—and Bitcoin has made that effort sustainable.
Concrete proposals, projects, and tendencies are explored throughout "Blockchain Radicals." They can even seem prosaic, at least for anyone who hasn’t directly faced the challenge of building them with pre-crypto tools.
Possibly most interesting is the potential for DAO-like structures and smart contracts for building new kinds of cooperative businesses. As boring as it may seem, a huge barrier to building new economic models is simply bookkeeping, trust and coordination. For instance, I lived in collectively owned housing for many years as a student, which was great for keeping costs down. But it required a lot of commitment and mutual trust, especially when it came to managing collective funds for things like house repairs and taxes."