Decentralized networks, such as Bitcoin, are not concerned with national allegiance; they are only concerned with math. And whether you’re attempting to withdraw cash from an ATM or transfer money to relatives in a war-torn region, the last thing you want is for someone else’s politics to get in the way of your and your loved ones’ well-being — regardless of the colours on the flag waving above your head.
Sanctions’ Human Cost
In battle, there are no winners. They are started by bankers and politicians, and normal people like you and me are instructed to suffer, fight, murder one another, and die.
Consider the following: You are a resident of Russia. Your money’s value — the ruble — is plummeting. What’s more worrisome are the enormous queues growing in front of ATMs and banks, as well as the confusion at public transportation hubs, when large firms such as Google and Apple block services and major banks lose access to the SWIFT payments network.
While you are adamantly opposed to war and even have family in Ukraine, numerous media reports portray you as their sworn enemy. Even institutions in which you have some faith, such as forward-thinking cryptocurrency exchanges, are under pressure from senior government officials to “destroy ordinary people.” Sanctions are by their very nature punitive.
Long lines at ATM’s in Moscow today as the ruble lost over a quarter of its value to the dollar amid new western sanctions on Russia’s banking sector. pic.twitter.com/rvfjGfMR9h
— Charles Maynes (@cwmiii3) February 28, 2022
Fortunately, real, decentralised crypto remains an option for transferring and preserving value. Consider the recent honking for peace in Ottawa, Canada. Additionally, in Ukraine, while your family seek refuge in the midst of a crisis they did not initiate, they are supported by crypto donations that are not bound by arbitrary political borders. Indeed, the government is inquiring. Cryptocurrency is a tool. It is freely usable by everyone, for better or ill.
Whatever the major news organisations cry about, or whose side is deemed right or wrong, you can maintain control over your money.
Individuals Turn to Crypto in Sanctioned Areas Throughout the World
The repercussions of the latest wave of so-called western sanctions against the Russian people are already being anticipated. As Bitcoin.com news reported earlier this week, some analysts in Venezuela are already forecasting disaster for the country’s banking system (and, by extension, the Venezuelan people), as large Russian banks have been barred from accessing SWIFT. Venezuelan economist Jose Guerra explained on Twitter:
Any country with substantial financial ties to Russia will almost certainly feel the pinch of trade restrictions.
Moving up to Cuba, a country whose citizens have endured decades of US trade embargoes, one can observe the impact of trade restrictions. And as a result, cryptocurrency has historically been a beneficial tool in this space as well.
According to a Reuters report from 2019, the “roll-out of mobile internet roughly a year ago paved the path for cryptocurrency transactions, and enthusiasts have increased as the currency assists in overcoming difficulties created by US sanctions on Cuba.”
The paper details how a small business owner was able to use cryptocurrency to purchase parts for his mobile phone repair shop that were previously inaccessible in the local market. Adrian C. Leon, a computer scientist, stressed the same point in the same article:
Cryptocurrencies may seem like another alternative to tourists, but for Cubans, they are a necessity and may provide a way around their exclusion from the global financial community.
Iran has also been a major topic in the ongoing discussion over sanctions and cryptocurrency. According to a 2021 analysis by the Iranian think group Presidential Center for Strategic Studies, newly minted bitcoins could be used for trading beyond geopolitical boundaries. The report included the following information:
“Because the newly extracted bitcoins are not easily traceable, domestic economic actors can use newly extracted cryptocurrencies on international markets, which are preferred to existing bitcoins.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, famously stated of governments:
A condition is sometimes referred to as the coldest of all frigid monsters. It also lies coldly, and this is the untruth that creeps out its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’ It is a fabrication! They who built peoples and draped a faith and a love over them were called creators; in this way, they served life. They who build snares for many and call it the state are called destroyers; they hang a sword and a hundred appetites over them.
Consider the SEC’s sword and snares. Consider the IRS. Consider the world’s central banks and the governments and money they weaponize. These are not the creators referred to by Nietzsche. These innovators, dreamers, and developers of protocols and technology that enable free global trade regardless of political allegiance or lack thereof are these makers.
If regulators’ true purpose is indeed “financial inclusion” and the promotion of innovation while safeguarding investors, why do they attempt so desperately to cut and strangle the one promising economic lifeline the world’s poor and struggling have right now? I believe we are all aware of the solution.
Cryptography is based on mathematics, not fear mongering. As such, it poses a threat. It is a neutral instrument in the same way that any other is. It can be used for both good and evil purposes. Without state legislation or other such arbitrary, violence-backed decrees, there are several non-violent alternatives for communities to select how they desire to leverage and/or govern these technologies.
According to Kraken CEO Jesse Powell’s statement last week:
Our purpose will be more effectively accomplished if we prioritise individual needs over those of any government or political movement. The People’s Money is a humane exit strategy, a tool for peace, not conflict.
Therefore, kindly donate to people in need. In Russia, and particularly in Ukraine. Anywhere. Even if someone fuelled by political stupidity urges you not to. Nobody, short of shutting down the internet or physically seizing your keys, can halt the circulation of peer-to-peer electronic cash. And at that point, we’ll need to address some of the room’s most fundamental issues.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.