Why are Critics Calling Bitcoin a Cult or a Religion?


Sometimes one can only be surprised at how close knowledge and delusion are to each other. As if there were just a tiny gap separating truth from lies, so small that you accidentally cross it if you don’t look very closely.

This mixture of wrong and right is often found among Bitcoin critics in particular. The most competent among them have an excellent technical understanding of Bitcoin but are unable to see the economic consequences; others are disgusted with the economic consequences because they do not share the economic policy goals, but do not understand the incentives that make Bitcoin unstoppable.

And then there are those who, like the Concoda Twitter account, scratch the surface of what makes Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies so immensely powerful—only to habitually slide into the negative.

Likes and retweets rained down under the tweet. Among Concoda’s followers we find the usual Bitcoin skeptics – Swiss intellectual Dorothea Baur, Tether truther Bitfinex’ed, Bitcoin critic Cas Piancey, journalist Amy Castor, perennial fudder Stephen Diehl, some frustrated supporters of Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV, which were inherently pro-crypto but are now anti-Bitcoin because the market isn’t acting the way they wanted, and many more.

It is, you could say, a cult in its own right, which with its luminaries and poles and narratives forms its own delimited bubble, in which the same arguments flow as since 2013 and in which people act as if the world and crypto have changed since then not moved on. It’s a psychologically interesting combination of an often excessive preoccupation with a cause one detests, a stubbornness to see what is happening when it contradicts one’s beliefs, and a donkey-skinned disinterest in a fascinating revolution.

But that’s not what it is all about here. There’s more at stake here: namely, the gold nugget of truth found wrapped in a lump of dirt in Concoda’s tweet. About the cult of cryptocurrencies, about ideologies, propaganda and indoctrination.

It’s true: Bitcoin is a cult. Ethereum is a cult. Monero is a cult. They are cults that revolve around technology. Dogecoin and Shiba Inu are cults around a hoax, Cardano around a 30-year-old man pretending to be a math professor, Ripple a cult around a company, and IOTA a cult around a technology that will supposedly eventually be completed. A cult is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for a cryptocurrency to emerge from the shitcoin swamp. If a coin doesn’t even have a cult following, that’s a screaming red flag.

Of course, Concada uses “cult” in a negative sense. Of course, he lies when he talks about MLM (multi-level marketing) because it never matters with serious cryptocurrencies, even small ones. And, of course, he relies on loaded terms like “indoctrination” and “propaganda” to create the reference to fraud that Concada and most crypto opponents need as much as others need air to breathe.

Because the truth is, and this is how the tweet could be phrased: Every single successful crypto coin has a crowd of convinced investors and fans who share a loosely shared world view, very much hoping that the coin will make the world a better place, and are happy to join Meet like-minded people and share their enthusiasm. A successful cryptocoin, to put it simply, isn’t a technology — it’s a movement.

The promise of cryptocurrencies is a revolution. Bitcoin is revolutionizing money, Ethereum is revolutionizing finance and organization, Monero is revolutionizing privacy, and everyone else is the children of the revolution trying to eat their parents. Concoda in particular knows this:

Afterwards, Concoda explains why the The financial revolution that is happening right now before our eyes is actually not happening at all. Or the wrong one. And so forth. There’s always an excuse why what shouldn’t be isn’t.

The fact that Concoda is not aware of the contradiction shows what many of the technically or economically competent Bitcoin skeptics have in common: a widespread lack of a feeling for network effects and sociological connections (while the other way around, sociologists and other humanities scholars often lack the technical and economic competence to interpret Bitcoin to understand). For the one elementary fact that binds all revolutions and counter-revolutions, yes, all historically significant developments and all enduring legacies, all states and religions and achievements, is this: they must be a movement.

In the tweet above, Concoda nicely describes what cryptocurrencies’ greatest strength is — why they seem to make a movement effortlessly. Perhaps because nowhere else do personal greed and personal idealism come so close together. It’s good to do something good, but it’s even better when you make a profit doing it. Faith can move mountains and big mountains if you have a lot of money.


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