February 19, 2021

Blockchain: A Libertarian Panacea?

Blockchain has given partisans of the libertarian movement unlooked for backing. This technology and its offshoots will soon give rise to a number of solutions, over and above cryptocurrencies.

About the Authors

François Masquelier - Expert at CFTE

François Masquelier

François has founded “SimplyTREASURY”, a company that delivers advisory in treasury, corporate finance and ERM. Before and until December 2019, he was Head of Corporate Finance, Treasury and Enterprise Risk Management at RTL Group, leading European media company. He joined RTL in 1997. Before, he worked for Eridania Béghin-Say and ABN.AMRO.

Simon Masquelier

Passionate about the data world, Simon recently obtained a master in that field. He is comfortable with various algorithms and tools for classification, regression, natural language processing and computer vision as well as big data technologies such as Spark and Kafka. He is seamlessly eager to learn more.

Summary

Blockchain, the innovative technology underpinning Bitcoin, could have the power to spark a revolution across several industries. But why aren’t we probing deeper into its capabilities? Francois and Simon, raise some important questions about this underlying technology’s applications, implications and even suggest how blockchain could be a libertarian panacea in their paper.

The start of a revolution? 

Over the last few months, a profusion of articles, reports and other presentations have come out on this fascinating new blockchain technology. Its best ambassador is none other than the bitcoin which has now reached highs that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, with one bitcoin at the time of writing equalling about 15,000 USD. It is often said that this technology could spark a complete revolution in many sectors of economic activity, just as the internet did for all business activities. What is more, it could even take the very way our modern society is structured and turn it on its head.  However, going beyond the purely technical workings of blockchain, which are difficult to explain because they are so complicated, nobody is raising questions about some of the implication of its ever-widening spread. Blockchain was developed as the result of a venture driven by libertarian ideas, with the underlying idea, initially, of side-lining intermediaries, such as central banks and even some government bodies. Might this decentralised system lead to a partial withdrawal of governments and their ancillary institutions from the role of intermediary?

Could blockchain become an instrument to serve libertarianism?

Blockchain technology is an innovation that operates in a decentralised way to make permanent records of transactions, such that they cannot be deleted. Each transaction has an encrypted block, containing one or more transactions and the data relating to them. These blocks are recorded in a digital blockchain, each of which has been approved by the group.  Before a block can be added, each node in the network must validate and approve it. What is more, the data stored in a blockchain can never be deleted.


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