Pink Floyd’s Money, from the epically experimental 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, contains a memorable X-rated lyric:
Money/It’s a hit/
Don’t give me that do goody-good bullshit.
But it is precisely ‘do goody-good bullshit’ that the public is now being fed when it comes to the alternative to money that is Bitcoin.
In case you don’t know, Bitcoin is a math-based, decentralised, trustless, fungible, deflationary virtual currency secured through cutting-edge cryptography. So now you still don’t know. Let’s just say that it’s internet money. There are lots of varieties of internet money, collectively called cryptocurrencies, or crypto for short. Bitcoin is a sort of gold standard of crypto.
People are pretty polarised about Bitcoin, and especially about the draft ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency’ Bill now being debated. Poorva
Paksha being a column about polarisation, about the art of compassionate debate in a polarised world, I thought it fit to write an article about the current cryptocurrency debate. That I happened to be jamming out to Pink Floyd at the time was just a happy coincidence.
What’s fascinating about this particular debate is that the two opposing camps, for and against, do not overlap at all with the usual polarities of right versus left. You can imagine my own surprise when I nearly broke my neck nodding in enthusiastic agreement with a libertarian author of a piece in the right-wing Swarajya magazine. Me, a flaming anarcho-communist of the radical left!
The article, Why India Should Buy Bitcoin, argued against the proposal to ban it, suggesting that India should “champion decentralised cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to safeguard national security…and hasten India’s ascendance as a global power.” In other words, it deployed classical right-wing trope to present a case for embracing rather than criminalising crypto.
My rationale is quite different, but my conclusions are the same. In fact, I would go further: India should not merely buy Bitcoin; India should set up some serious rigs and start mining it.
Money/It’s a gas/
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
Now, whether you agree with me, Pink Floyd, and my new right-wing friends about the need for India to embrace Bitcoin, or not, you must at least admit that it’s a bit rich for a government that demonetised Indian currency overnight to claim that it needs to outright ban this new technology because of the risk it poses to citizens by not being backed by a sovereign government. It is precisely because governments cannot manipulate, demonetise, arbitrarily print and devalue crypto that it is so secure, that it is any citizen’s hedge against the risks inherent to sovereign authority and its reckless monetary policy or imprudent fiscal policy.
The anti-crypto coalition, however, is as busy as ever propagating FUD. In case you don’t know, FUD is the term crypto-nerds use to refer to the ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’ spread about…