For some in the crypto community, the blockchain tech and financial applications are completely apolitical. Others, however, strongly argue that the tech should be used to disrupt the monetary policy based on central banks. This way, it should usher in a new age of financial systems that would be more flexible and less inclined towards the rich and developed societies.
This second idea was so relevant in the early days that the first adopters were drawn to bitcoin simply because of its revolutionary potential. Thanks to this, the cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have always been tightly connected with the ideas of the libertarian political movement.
Now, CoinDesk and their research division took the opportunity to check if this association is still valid during a recent survey. In the wide range of questions, a number of these have been directed at discovering the particular political leanings in the community and how these relate to the overall tech and specific cryptocurrencies. The findings ended up being very surprising.
The General Trends
The survey was taken by more than 1,200 individuals active in the crypto community. Out of these eight percent were an anarcho-capitalist, 21 percent conservatives, 23 percent libertarians, 9 percent socialist, 27 percent liberals and 3 percent declared themselves nihilist. Clearly, the liberals are the biggest single category, but when libertarians and the anarcho-capitalist are combined, they make up a bigger group than the first one.
Of course, there is a lot of inter-group differences between these. For example, libertarians can be so statists who advocate limited government but do not oppose its existence. Anarcho-capitalist desire a system that is state-free and where all of the elements of everyday life, including security, is an open-market service that can and should be purchased. But, at the same time, it is possible to split the entire survey group into two rough categories on the left and right spectrum.
In that case, 52 percent of the polled community define themselves in the right specter, while 45 see themselves as belonging to the left. This makes the right a majority, but not as wide one as one could have expected.
This is especially relevant when the origins and the overall reputation of the cryptocurrency are taken into consideration. In spite of its clearly right-leaning tendencies – in a sense they are anti-large government – there are many in the left political specter who support it. There are two possible factors that might have a direct impact on this fact: passage of time and a tribal mentality.
Passage of Time
The first factor out of these two is time and how the years make a difference. At the beginning of the crypto community, the libertarians made up a strong majority. Their overall talking points stuck to the whole domain and this trend kept on going.
But, since then, many more individuals and even organizations stepped into the crypto field. For example, 55 percent of the survey stated that they entered the community in 2017. While some are surely motivated by politics, most came because of the money and held political views that are in line with the general population.
The idea of a tribalism mentality is that a person who enters a particular group that they like quickly bonds both with its members and their general group ideas. In the modern age, this is even more pronounced than before thanks to the ease of the information flow. For example, an early 20th century Bolshevik might need weeks of slow physical mail correspondence to just get in touch with like-minded individuals.
In the 21st century, any ideological standpoint can quickly find like-minded people online and the tribalism process propagates in a much shorter period. This is why the ideological landscape is so varied and the survey also showed that it clusters around particular coins. Bitcoin is most appealing to the general population.
Ethereum has the highest percentage of owners who are on the left and dash has the opposite. About 78 percent of its owners are on the right. XRP gravitates towards the center and monero houses the biggest percentage of both extremes, as well the biggest number of anarcho-capitalist. This shows that the biases are entrenched even in the way people use crypto and it shapes how they approach and purchase individual cryptocurrencies.
Interpretation of the Data
The interpretation that CoinDesk underwent included commentator and industry leaders from both sides of the left and right divide. Interestingly, they mostly agreed about the impact and the concepts of the political mindsets in crypto. All concur that the start of the scene was heavily influenced by the libertarian ideas and even to a point by the anarcho-capitalist mindset.
But, the same quickly changed as more and more people entered the domain. Similar to things like social media or eSports, the influx of new users drastically changed the community not in a sense that it changed the minds of early adopters, but simply made them a minority. Additionally, the coins themselves took on a different route from the start with bitcoin.
Some have a centralized leadership and a set system of governance. This is a logical choice for any of those who have left-leaning political tendencies. The very same goes for the completely decentralized ones and their appeal to the right or even to the anarcho-capitalist ideologies.
The 2016 US Election
Finally, a big moment of change was also the 2016 election. During it, the whole split between the super-unregulated cryptocurrencies and those with different setups began to emerge. This was further enriched by the political divisions in the post-election period.
What was once purely a domain of the right-wing mentality saw an influx of left-minded individuals after the 2016 US elections, which perfectly coincide with the boom of 2017. Now, the landscape is becoming less right wing and the further from the center the ideology is, the faster it is becoming a minority.
The swing will continue to occur and it will further blossom with the first killer app product that will bring in many centrist and liberals, but very few hard right individuals, who are most likely already in the crypto market.