Blockchain: Radicalising the Social Imagination
Like many technologies, the radical potential of blockchains and cryptocurrencies to revolutionise the way we work, trade, cooperate and exchange has narrowed as major banks, corporations, and other powerful interests claim this potential for themselves. What has happened to those alternative futures lost along the way? What about the paths not taken in the development of this technology? Or was it fated to be this way? Was this technology cursed from the beginning? This panel seeks to explore the ghosts and spectres of alternative possibilities, of the radical imagination, that haunt today’s landscape of blockchain experiments. In an era when blockchains are being used for the purpose of increasing corporate power, of consolidating inequality, or for new forms of surveillance and exploitation, are other blockchain futures possible?
The panellists will seek to recover the political economies of the hacker-engineers, whose stories start with an affiliation to “decentralisation” that emerged out of experiences in pre-Bitcoin cypherpunk, hacker and peer-to-peer network cultures as well as consider money’s long history of “epic failures”, in which schemers, dreamers and tricksters have tried, and failed, to steal monetary fire from the economic Gods. Together they will question the task for a truly revolutionary money that would not only bring about a redistribution of wealth, but also a reimagination of value. Among the propositions, we’ll hear about exploring how blockchain tech could be used not for “fixing” property-based value systems, but for refusing such systems entirely. Instead of financialising creative practice and further commodifying aesthetic artefacts, can “crypto” resist property as such? How might an unownable digital artefact function on the blockchain?