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The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: To “Subvert” Cryptocurrency?

Venezuela has created its own cryptocurrency and US politicians are not happy.

In the past year, cryptocurrencies have taken a significant place in the news cycle for two reasons. First, they intrigue everyone within today’s money-obsessed economy who is on qui vive about opportunities to make a quick buck with little or no effort. Second, they worry all the power mongers and money managers who have put in place the elaborate tools of the global economy to ensure control of the entire complex system. On the one side, individuals with a basic sense of greed. On the other, powerful institutions exercising their lust for power.

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, appeals to the desires of the greedy. Venezuela’s newly created Petro has drawn the attention of those whose power extends to every corner of the world, in particular, politicians in Washington such as Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Marco Rubio. Telesur describes the call to action of the powerful: “During a hearing convened by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs earlier this month, Menendez also made his intention to subvert the Petro in any way he can clear.”

Here is today’s 3D definition:


For the person engaged in an act of subversion: reestablish order by eliminating a factor that risks disturbing the current order. For the person subjected to subversion: undergo an illicit hostile attack on one’s productive resources.

Contextual note

In a world of increasing inequality and the decline of past empires capable of dictating the terms of exchange to the entire globe, short-term stability depends more than ever on the control exercised by the global elite of bankers, governments and traders, considered responsible for collectively managing the economy. To simplify the discussion, our late capitalist economy has increasingly focused on a single, simple premise concerning investment, enshrined by Warren Buffett: always seek “high returns with low risk.” ROI matters. It has replaced the older principle of productive placement, which still contained an element ethical purpose. Today, the sole criterion for “intelligent” investment is the rate and scale of return.

Bitcoin has put blockchain technology on the map as an essential but disruptive innovation. The appeal to greed has been instrumental in establishing the paradigm that can lead in a number of different directions. This has left the economy and geopolitics at a new crossroads.

Historical note

The masters of the world’s economy fear nothing more than alternative means of exchange that escape their control. The threat of terrorism cannot rival the threat of an alternative economy. The tenors of the propaganda campaign against cryptocurrency have insisted on a common sense argument that consists of questioning the economic basis of bitcoin. Despite a campaign that brings together prestigious voices such as Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon (who only slightly backtracked) and Mark Cuban (who has also slightly backtracked), they have failed to convince the market of their central message — that it’s all a technological Ponzi scheme. Bitcoin, despite recent volatility, has become an alternative means of payment. Other currencies have appeared as an alternative way of funding enterprises.

The analysts of the economy, and important actors of the economy like Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, don’t really know what to say and appear to be hedging their bets, which is of course what they’ve been trained to do. But those who are concentrated on the question of power aren’t happy with any threat to the stability of the system they believe they can control.

Evidence that came to light in Hillary Clinton’s emails shows that a contributing reason, if not the main one, for the joint attack that France and the US conducted on Libya in 2011 leading to the deposition of its leader and eventually leaving it in a state of chaos, was Muammar Qaddafi’s project to create a pan-African gold-backed currency that directly threatened the CFA franc — which of course was managed by the French who had imposed on its former colonies — and indirectly the dollar itself.

WikiLeaks apparently benefited from the fact that, when its dollar transactions were blockaded by the US government, it could work with bitcoins, which proved immensely profitable over time. So Venezuela has followed suit, creating its own cryptocurrency and, by doing so, it may accelerate the loosening of the grip that the US dollar has had on the global economy for at least 70 years.

The question is: Who is effectively subverting whom?

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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