Software as Right-Wing Extremism

Exactly right:

Since its introduction in 2009, Bitcoin has been widely promoted as a digital currency that will revolutionize everything from online commerce to the nation-state. Yet supporters of Bitcoin and its blockchain technology subscribe to a form of cyberlibertarianism that depends to a surprising extent on far-right political thought. The Politics of Bitcoin exposes how much of the economic and political thought on which this cryptocurrency is based emerges from ideas that travel the gamut, from Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises to Federal Reserve conspiracy theorists.

This could be taken considerably further, actually …


September 18, 2016admin 33 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

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33 Responses to this entry

  • cyborg_nomade Says:

    the Left is afraid


    Aristocles Invictvs Reply:

    Heinlein reference?


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 2:45 pm Reply | Quote
  • Michael Rothblatt Says:

    I don’t know. There certainly are libertarians who were overjoyed for non-governmental money, but many of the most prominent libertarians were—and still are—very skeptical towards it.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 3:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • Brett Stevens Says:

    The democracy racket appears to be failing, and people want OUT.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 3:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    We do not know how much money is in existence, if it even exists, and who owns it. We have an incomplete idea of who owes what to whom because bank ledgers are private. The use of derivatives means some banks have no money, but other banks agree that they have credit (money), and therefore they have money.

    Once we get into interbank derivatives, a solid chunk of the global monetary system is math. Complex algorithms value derivatives ultimately resting on the faith (credit) of the institutions. The monetary singularity is on the way.

    As for right-wing extremism, all of these tools rest on sovereignty. It’s most likely the open ledger will be controlled by the central bank as part of a nationalization of banking following a major financial collapse. Most people choose what is easiest to use and the central bank will make it very easy to use E-Bucks. You will never have to file taxes again, you will never need to carry cash again, theft of non-physical assets will be near impossible because the government will have the open ledger to trace stolen property. Your blockchain address will be your SS# or national ID#. The system will be totalitarian (in the sense of everything will be recorded) and completely open to the government and probably the public.

    By putting the entire economy under surveillance, it will be difficult to transact privately in any asset that gets recorded in the ledger. The only assets worth owning outside of the ledger will be those with no need for registration. Consider a private market for stolen artwork, there will be a strong incentive to title such goods since title will likely be global. A stolen Van Gogh will have zero value (if discovered) in perpetuity because the title can be transferred to descendants in perpetuity, and you cannot claim you didn’t know a good was stolen because any asset registered in the public ledger is known to all.

    Once all governments have linked their ledgers, then it’s not hard to imagine a global central bank/global totalitarian sovereign controlling the global economy. The Austrian insight was that knowledge is distributed. It also is based on the idea that people are rational and independent. Now we have a way to capture most information, and the vast majority of people can be told what to think and what to desire. The system will have most of the information it needs and what it cannot know, your innermost thoughts, it will manufacture with advertising and propaganda. If you are smart enough to not be controlled, you will either be helping to run the system, living like the Amish, or dead.


    Kwisatz Haderach Reply:

    How will Globania prevent productive agents from engaging in trade on an “unregistered” market or unofficial blockchain ledger?


    michael Reply:

    the same way they do now, tried even depositing a bunch of cash or even checks lately. did you see your bank has a deposit limit on your account


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 3:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • Abelard Lindsey Says:

    What the author calls “far right” is nothing more than the belief in economic and individual liberty and the right to some autonomy from intrusive entities such as governments and central banks. That this entirely reasonable sentiment is call “far” anything underlines the intention of the author.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 3:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • grey enlightenment Says:

    ‘extremism’ according to the left is any view they disagree with


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 4:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • (N) G. Eiríksson Says:

    (((#UN))) airs ad on TV trying to make #German girls veil themselves.

    These are the same guys who import invaders!

    All hail All-ah! Allahu Ackbar


    Garr Reply:

    What do triple-brackets mean on Xenosystems? (It’s important for me to know whether to hate you or not. If your triple-brackets have a superior Enarexy significance, then I will be able to continue reading your comments (about 1/2 the daily total, I believe) without an annoying red mist obscuring the text.)


    Henk Reply:

    “It’s important for me to know whether to hate you or not.”

    Is it just you, or are you part of a hate group?


    Garr Reply:

    The group in question hasn’t yet begun to hate, Henk. Full members of this group persist in offering counter-arguments. The half-Saxons, who live alone in the forest, are another matter.

    (N) G. Eiríksson Reply:

    This was just copied verbatim from twitter.

    There´s a lot of talk on the so-called right of being cold, more intelligent or otherwise superior. But often those type are the one who are the most innerly perturbed, or have hidden feelings of inferiority that come out as resentment.

    >The group in question hasn’t yet begun to hate

    Yeah, right.


    NRK Reply:

    >no link
    You’re probably refering to this , there’s a couple things you should take note of:
    1. That ad’s over two years old.
    2. The subtitles are inaccurate, it doesn’t refer to hijabs specifically but to headscarves in general, and the headscarf that the chick is wearing is rather unislamic.

    Also, yeah, what’s up with the parentheses? Is the joke that the UN is actually dominated by anti-zionists? In that case, well, ok, a little too meta for my taste, but not bad.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 5:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    The corporations-as-gods instinct extends to independent technologies.
    He has no idea the blockchain is largely as the blockchain must be. Instead, all features were fully intentional, chosen by a malevolent god who is omnipotent in their technology domain.

    Poe’s law.

    Next up: The Wheel is Cultural Appropriation.

    Progress condemned as right wing.

    Your kids may want to be programmers, which will lead to comfortable middle-class life. Stop them!

    The Left, to Our Great Surprise, is suddenly in favour of Hierarchy instead of PTP.

    Is it worse if he’s a shill or if nobody paid him to do this in advance? Soulless mercenary or gormless suckup?


    (N) G. Eiríksson Reply:

    Leftism is a force of dissolution and teardown that is a prehuman current. It used to be known as evil, but to prechristian peoples this was symbolized by titanic opposed to ouranian forces.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 7:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • devcarrier Says:

    Admin is beginning to align ever closer with its other hemisphere over at UF. We’re hoping the results of concatenation arrive in book format. Get the suits to print it, even. It would sell.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 8:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRK Says:

    Lol @ that 1 star review by one Steven S.


    Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 10:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mike Says:

    Much as I expected as far back as 2013 (check my comments here from back then), the left has finally shat itself over cryptocurrency. Wonder why it took them this long to figure out though.

    Golumbia is that “technology and the internet are bad for the left” guy (eg. see, it’s just that now he’s expanded his critique to cryptocurrency.


    Posted on September 19th, 2016 at 4:08 am Reply | Quote
  • S.C. Hickman Says:

    He’s also the author of The cultural logic of computation. From the blurb…

    Advocates of computers make sweeping claims for their inherently transformative power: new and different from previous technologies, they are sure to resolve many of our existing social problems, and perhaps even to cause a positive political revolution.

    In The Cultural Logic of Computation, David Golumbia, who worked as a software designer for more than ten years, confronts this orthodoxy, arguing instead that computers are cultural “all the way down”―that there is no part of the apparent technological transformation that is not shaped by historical and cultural processes, or that escapes existing cultural politics. From the perspective of transnational corporations and governments, computers benefit existing power much more fully than they provide means to distribute or contest it. Despite this, our thinking about computers has developed into a nearly invisible ideology Golumbia dubs “computationalism”―an ideology that informs our thinking not just about computers, but about economic and social trends as sweeping as globalization.


    krietzsche Reply:


    Computers are rhizomatic alien dissidence, David Golombia is hierarchical human conservative. He wrote a book. Fail.


    krietzsche Reply:

    It’s interesting how Golombia always ends up on the side of actually existing hierarchy and power. Successful embedding of former Wall Street product manager into feudal hierarchies of leftist academia ?

    Two examples: Google indexes free text and HTML, so it’s Demotic Good, but open semantic web standards are Hierarchical Bad. Freedom of Microsoft Word text editing and formatting against Double Plus Ungoodness of Open Source Technocratic XML.

    He doesn’t seem to realize that Google’s goal was always to create AI, Skynet of the humanities. Academic Goodlife will be terminated soon.


    Ur-mail Reply:

    > David Golumbia, who worked as a software designer for more than ten years

    This seems to be an outright false claim, looking at his CV going back to the late 80s he sounds like a career liberal arts academic (, I’m not sure where he snuck in this mysterious decade of software design experience, or how he would have skipped software development experience (a deep pre-requisite for design ability) to shoot right into design.


    krietzsche Reply:

    The lost decade 1990-2000 is at the end of CV, all product management and UIX design … no wonder he hates the damn geeks which don’t know their place 😉


    Ur-mail Reply:

    Ah, good find, thanks! As you pointed out, the “lost decade” seems to mostly be composed of management / UIX and database administration (nondescript term, typically more IT than software dev). Also seems to at least partially overlap with his academic career (TA-ships), suggesting it was in some places a part-time gig.

    Posted on September 19th, 2016 at 6:18 am Reply | Quote
  • krietzsche Says:

    The book seems rather clueless and could be summarized (to paraphrase the author)

    “I am not arguing that we need to eliminate computers from society. But… but… keep them away”

    How ? The author clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about …

    “Throughout the Microsoft Word or WordPerfect document, text is explicitly marked with PostScript and other formatting-oriented markup languages.”

    WUT ?

    Along with its insistence on exact definition, the computer insists everywhere on hierarchy. Few objects and procedures can exist in computers without being placed into hierarchies of various kinds; no doubt this emerges from the logical basis of computing theory, but it also seems to exist in a kind of interactive reflex with the computational enforcement of digital precision. It is certainly possible to create computational objects that are largely nonhierarchical; but in practice this is the exception rather than the rule. One of the most visible loci of computational hierarchy is in the contemporary software paradigm known as Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). Because the computer is so focused on “objective” reality—

    OOP derives from where any actor can talk to any actor he knows. There is no inherent hierarchy here.

    I could go on but … but …


    Ur-mail Reply:

    > “Along with its insistence on exact definition, the computer insists everywhere on hierarchy”

    The reason computation and hierarchy go together so well has nothing to do with this bizarre analysis. This person has also clearly never deeply studied computer science or written much software of any significant scale.

    When writing software, the only tool you have for managing the naked complexity of the things you’re working with is abstraction. Abstractions naturally tend to form hierarchies (Eg. in a game engine I have a vehicle model composed of renderable entities so that I can interact with it at a much lower level of complexity as a vehicle while under the hood it behaves like something composed of meshes renderable to the screen) – hell Aristotle knew this, this Bitcoin book itself is undoubtedly riddled with hierarchical abstractions. Abstraction is a tool for managing complexity.

    This process of higher and higher level abstraction is why computers work so effectively – from transistors to logic gates to circuits to processors to operating systems to the internet. You can build up and then tear down when your abstractions begin to leak (

    Refusing to acknowledge this simple cause for computational hierarchy in favor of a complicated social analysis is sophistry at its best.


    krietzsche Reply:

    Yes, hierarchy runs deep … in the universe.

    One of the most striking features of the physical world is its hierarchical structure. Spatially, it is an object hierarchy: elementary particles form atoms which in turn form molecules, cells, organisms, planets, solar systems, galaxies, etc. Causally, complex structures are frequently created through a distinct sequence of simpler steps.

    … and in humans (their replacement currently under construction in DeepMind and NNAIsense labs)

    Neural Mechanisms of Hierarchical Planning

    Still, I’d say humans impose hierarchy on computing substrate, not vice versa. Recurrent neural networks aren’t inherently hierarchical, Turing machines aren’t, actor, constraint and process models aren’t … but (as you and DeepMind article point out) human abstraction seems quite hierarchical.

    PS. Technocracy to Golombia: Good OOP eschews fragile inheritance hierarchies and prefers delegation, composition etc. So, it’s actually about avoiding hierarchy …


    Ur-mail Reply:

    I think we might be talking at cross purposes. When I use abstraction, I mean it closer to its original sense. From latin meaning “to draw away from”, or as it was defined quite aptly by Samuel Johnson in 1755 – “a smaller quantity containing the virtue or power of a greater”. This very idea, if not identical with, is nearly indistinguishable from the concept of hierarchy.

    In software – programming languages, types, functions, objects, variables are all forms of abstraction (that is, methods of reducing complexity by imbuing a smaller thing with the powers of a larger thing). Good OOP, and just good programming in general, is not about “avoiding hierarchy” but about wisely choosing decompositions and compositions of abstractions to produce a result. I’ve never read a book on OOP that chose to solely recommend inheritance hierarchies as the singular form of design. In fact, every book I have ever read on OOP has also recommend delegation, composition, aggregation, etc. So I don’t believe Golombia has any legs to stand on here, and I think he’s at best taking naive surface readings of his subject.

    From this perspective, it is unclear to me how RNNs or Turing machines are non-hierarchical, as they are incomprehensible ideas without their individual abstraction hierarchies. In the case of turing machines, sets of states, initial states, infinite tapes, symbol alphabets, with the symbols appearing on the tape and triggering changes of state, and so on. Perhaps you mean non-representational?

    Posted on September 19th, 2016 at 9:25 am Reply | Quote
  • Mariani Says:

    Am I reading it wrong or is this calling Hayek “far-right”?


    admin Reply:

    There’s a leftist tradition based on that.


    Posted on September 22nd, 2016 at 12:43 am Reply | Quote
  • Outliers (#24) Says:

    […] Software As Right-Wing Extremism (Outside In) […]

    Posted on September 25th, 2016 at 8:20 pm Reply | Quote

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