The Real World of the Decentralized Autonomous Society
Although it is still in early stages, many commentators have been quick to note the revolutionary potential of next-generation or Bitcoin 2.0 technology. While some have expressed fear that the widespread application of these technologies may engender the rise of a Terminator-style Skynet, others believe that it represents the coming of a decentralized autonomous society (DAS) in which humans are freed from centralized forms of power through the proliferation of distributed autonomous organizations or DAOs. Influenced by neoliberal theory that stresses privatization, open markets, and deregulation, Bitcoin 2.0 technologies are implicitly working on the assumption that 'freedom' means freedom from the state. This neglects, however, that within capitalist societies, the state can also provide freedom from the vagaries of the market by protecting certain things from commodification. Through an analysis of (1) class and the role of the state; (2) the concentration and centralization of capital; and (3) the role of automation, I argue that the vision of freedom that underpins Bitcoin 2.0 tech is one that neglects the power that capital holds over us in both organizing the structure of our lives, and informing our idea of what it means to be human. In neglecting these other forms of power, I claim that the DAS might be a far more dystopian development than its supporters comprehend, making possible societies that are commodities all the way down.
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