How I Finally Understood Crypto (Thru Animal Farm)

Money printer go brrrrr

Crypto is just the idea that 'hey, if those fuckers can make up money, so can we.' That's all it is. It's a new set of elites minting coins. Instead of being backed by guns, they're backed by computers. Does this solve any of the climate-destroying problems of capitalism? No. It's just new people getting in on the scam.

Crypto challenges the government monopoly of money in the same way that 'terrorism' challenges the government monopoly of violence. It's certainly spectacular, but you can't say it's good.

For decades the US government has just made-up money and given it to their friends at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. These bankers give it to other rich people who hoard it or launder it into stuff like art. It's all a grand scam, picking the bones of a capitalist order that should have died in 2008.

Now instead of a government, Shiba Inu Coin just makes-up money, gives a bit to Elon Musk, and he tweets it up for other people to hoard. They also launder it into digital art (as NFTs). This is pitched as some world-changing revolution in money, but it's just world-rearranging. It's deck chairs on the capitalist Titanic.

Animal Farm

If there's an allegory for crypto it's George Orwell's Animal Farm. In that book, the farm animals overthrow the tyranny of Farmer Jones, only for the pigs and dogs to become tyrants themselves.  

Here Farmer Jones is the evil Central Banks, and the pigs are crypto-bros. Crypto is pitched as a rebellion against Central Banks that inflate financial assets for rich people (which they do), but it's just become a way for different elites to inflate their own assets without a Central Bank. Hence it ends as Animal Farm ended, with the humans and pigs sitting around the table, as "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Animal Farm actually described the basic logic of crypto quite literally in 1944:

How does any of this produce value? Who knows? Who gives a fuck? As long as the 'animal spirits' of the market believe in it, it's real. Writing things on paper and burning them in a furnace is a pretty good description of crypto. Crypto just getting computers to solve ever-harder cryptographic puzzles while consuming ever-more energy. The puzzles themselves are discarded.

What are crypto-bros, founders, and hangers-on doing to produce anything? We're all too ignorant to understand. But there are increasingly 'many of them, and their appetites are always good'.

Crypto is just another rebellion within elites, not against elitism. It's not a currency that ordinary people can use, it's another asset that can be inflated without even the meagre protections of a government. It's just another way to profit as the world burns. The world is on fire and all crypto has done is decentralize gasoline.

I mean the fire bit quite literally. While ordinary capitalism incidentally causes climate change, crypto is just climate change incarnate. It's essentially an investment in collapse. It's selling the world short.

Bitcoin alone now uses more energy than the 110 million people of the Philippines, all to drive that island nation (and everyone) underwater. The 'mining' of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies uses hideous amounts of energy solving more and more absurd problems. As Orwell wrote: "Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things... These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace."

That furnace, of course, is our climate, and it's getting hot.

Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index 

Of course, the logic is that sovereign governments and big banks do worse, which is true. Sovereign wealth funds like Norway's and Saudi Arabia's profit from climate change, and big banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citi finance it. The world is burning anyways, right? Why not make money from gasoline? This attitude is built into crypto, that everything is collapsing, so might as well get yours.

Of course it's not regular people profiting, they're just the suckers to drive up the 'animal spirits' of demand. Crypto is really a commotion on the upper-decks of the Titanic, as a few people figure out that they can just print tickets to the upper class and that—if enough people demand them—it works. But the good ship capitalism is still going down. Crypto does nothing to help. It's just different elites helping themselves, kicking lifeboats away from women and children.

The inherent logic of crypto is 'these fuckers are making money out of nothing, why can't we?' That's all it is, and none of this is freedom. It's just different people minting chains.

Crypto was supposed to be freedom from rapacious financial elites, but look around the table, they're all sitting together now. Are ordinary people any better off? So this challenge to centralized capitalism ends just as Animal Farm ends. Just substitute 'doges' for pigs:

No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the doges. The creatures outside looked from doge to banker, and from banker to doge, and from doge to banker again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.