Bitcoin

Bitcoin fixes broken democracies and fights government corruption by limiting its power to control its people, argues Bitcoin advocate and chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation, Alex Gladstein.

In a Feb. 20 interview, Gladstein argued that the decentralized nature of Bitcoin (BTC) can act as a barrier against corruption and tyranny.

“Where the democracies have broken down, I do think it’s very clearly related to fiat currency, and I do think that Bitcoin fixes this in a way,” he said.

Gladstein is the chief strategy officer of HRF and has served the non-profit organization since 2007.  The foundation is focused on promoting and protecting human rights globally — particularly in countries where its people live “under authoritarian rule.”

Gladstein also delivers lectures on Bitcoin and the future of money at Singularity University events, according to his bio. 

During the interview, Gladstein said Bitcoin represents free speech, property rights and open capital markets, all of which are stifling to a tyrannical government — which often needs censorship, confiscation and closed capital markets, stating:

“This is what China and Russia need to survive they need censorship, they need close capital markets and they need confiscation, Bitcoin makes it really hard for governments to impose those things on their people.”

Both Russia and China have been hostile toward crypto in the past. The Chinese government banned virtually all crypto transactions in 2021; however, the upcoming crypto licensing regime in Hong Kong has led to speculation China’s stance on crypto is softening.

Russia’s major crypto law, “On Digital Financial Assets,” officially prohibited the use of crypto for payment purposes in 2020. The law did not ban Russians from investing in crypto, but local crypto exchanges have remained unregulated.

“I don’t see these dictatorial powers doing well in a Bitcoin standard; I think it becomes really hard for them,” Gladstein added.

Gladstein’s argument about crypto has echoed similar views from others in the past. Bitcoin infrastructure provider OpenNode voiced similar opinions in a 2021 post about the benefit that BTC donations had in evading authoritative crackdowns.

“One of the benefits of Bitcoin is its censorship resistance,” OpenNode wrote at the time.

“Without any central authority to dictate who can and can’t use Bitcoin, it has proven to be the currency of choice for many individuals and organizations who have been left out of traditional payment methods.”

According to a February 2022 investigation by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, one of the biggest reasons for embracing blockchain-based fundraising was to avoid traditional accounts being closed by financial institutions.

Related: Blockchain is the only viable path to privacy and censorship resistance in the 21st century

Gladstein predicts there will be a lot more “trigger moments” in the coming years of people having “technical and liquidity trouble with traditional financial services,” which will result in more people shifting to BTC as an alternative.

“If there’s a conflict or a breakdown in trade or communications, you’re just gonna see a whole hell of a lot of problems, and every single one of those is like a moment that’s gonna mint a new Bitcoiner out of necessity,” he said.

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