The Test of Crypto’s Ideology

By Jason Nelson

In a recent case, Virgil Griffith, a researcher for the Ethereum Foundation, was arrested. Currently on trial for going to North Korea, giving a presentation on cryptocurrency.

There is a rift in crypto not being addressed as much as it should. That rift is the ideology in the crypto space.

Cryptocurrency has, for many years, championed its ability to be censorship-resistant. To allow people without access to funds to store and transfer value without the need for banks, governments, or trusted third parties.

Why wouldn’t North Korea want in on that?

Blockchain Technology is the development of the west. Satoshi Nakamoto may have been from Southern California. So the ideals of crypto have been western ideals of freedom and self-determination. 

Crypto has a very punk-rock attitude towards authority. Us against them. So the idea of “sticking it to the man” is common. Take how whenever there is a hearing on cryptocurrency. We laugh when some politician says how dangerous Bitcoin is to the dominance of the U.S. Dollar in the world.

We laugh, but others are taking that notion quite seriously. There are several countries on the U.S. list of sanctioned States. One of which is North Korea. So when Virgil Griffith went to North Korea, he was doing so against the law.

If your ethos is, these laws don’t matter. That we are free to move around as we please, you may be inclined to say Virgil did nothing wrong. The United States government would disagree. 

Whether we agree with the arrest or believe that crypto is a means to overturn government power, we must remember that the government has the force of arms. 

Should we be compelled by force of arms or threat of imprisonment to obey laws? No. But by force of arms and danger of prison, we are governed. 

The Crypto space will need to take a hard look in the mirror. Decide if that is a battle we wish to face as a community. Or should we remain divided by ideology and, one by one, end up in prison or worse?

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