A recent keynote address by American entrepreneur and early Bitcoin adopter Erik Voorhees has ignited a debate regarding the intersection of democracy and cryptocurrency adoption.
However, according to senior staff software engineer at Coinbase, Yuga Cohler, while engaging, Voorhees’ speech presents an overly simplistic and potentially damaging viewpoint that may impede rather than encourage the global integration of cryptocurrency.
Voorhees made his speech at the “Permissionless II” event, aligning with the central theme of creating a financial system devoid of centralized control through cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
His argument centered on the premise that “code is better than law,” positing that a transparent, rule-based system founded on mathematical principles could yield superior outcomes to opaque, politically-influenced processes. Voorhees stressed the imperative nature of transaction rights to human existence, a view that Cohler agrees with.
However, Cohler took issue with Voorhees’ disdain for American democracy, arguing that the notion of the “state” as a monolithic entity overlooks the diverse political systems worldwide and their varying degrees of freedom. Citing that democracy is undoubtedly better than totalitarianism, and he suggested that Voorhees’ viewpoint dismisses centuries of political progress and trivializes the plight of those living under more oppressive governments.
Cohler also highlighted the contradictions in Voorhees’ political framework, which he says,
“Voorhees’ political framework reveals a level of hypocrisy and immediately crumbles when applied to the real world.”
He questioned whether Voorhees would comply with the regulations and taxes he criticized or if he could conceive of infrastructure projects mediated by smart contracts.
Cohler further posited that while there is undoubtedly a place for decentralized finance, denying the role of a centralized state acting on behalf of its people is overly simplistic.
Voicing his critique, Patrick McCorry, an industry insider from Arbitrum, concurred with Cohler’s criticisms, saying while the goal of crypto should not be to undermine democratic countries, it should push back just enough to allow the technology to thrive and assist those who need it most.
Other industry leaders, like Ryan Selkis of Messari, also chimed in, acknowledging the inspirational elements of Voorhees’ speech while promising a more balanced perspective in his future address.
Thus, while Voorhees’ libertarian vision may resonate with many in the crypto community, the broader discussion indicates a need for a more nuanced approach that recognizes the merits of democracy and uses them to enhance the reach of crypto.
Cohler concluded it’s not about rejection but about integration and ensuring that both spheres – government and crypto – work together towards an open, global financial system.