The block is hot
Blockchains are hot right now. For the most part, however, the socioeconomic consequences of blockchains have been constrained within a frame of neoliberal politics and libertarian ideology. Moreover, the history of blockchain, so far, has shown limited applications of the technology outside of financial speculation and risky investments in pursuit of spectacular returns. A central part of this dynamic has been driven by core assumptions underlying the architecture of blockchain itself, which often draw on game theoretic and orthodox economic models of the rational, utility-maximizing individual who can be expected to behave competitively and self-interestedly in predictable ways. Considering, then, the intersections between neoliberalism and the libertarian architecture of blockchain, a key question arises: to what extent is it possible to develop and deploy blockchain technologies on behalf of truly disruptive projects opposed to both neoliberal logics and libertarian politics?
The chapter considers the disruptive potential of highly reliable, versatile forms of collective action in open networks that are now possible with blockchains. The analysis comprises an evaluation of the development and deployment of blockchains along each of these three parameters.