While Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, the Free Market, and globalization Promise tremendous Value, we should be mindful of a Just society with a human face
The whole idea of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology has caused a storm and excitement as the world embraces globalization and unprecedented freedom, away from government bureaucracy and control. Many have benefitted and made fortunes by transacting with Cryptocurrencies without paying taxes and being subjected to government bureaucracy. There is even new talk about converting national currencies digitally as the next big change in technology. The new UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, a global world economic forum globalist, is pushing for a banker-controlled digital currency, calling for a new task force to explore the possibility of a national digital currency, among a series of possible reforms to boost the fintech sector. While Freedom, the Market, and globalization have been hailed for creating a lot of value for individuals, corporations, groups, Societies, and nations, we should be mindful of a socially and economically sensitive economy with a human face.
Mikhail Gorbachev is quoted as saying, “I support freedom and free economy, but it should be a socially oriented market economy. I support globalization, but it should be globalization with a human face.” Gorbachev will remain in history books as a great and courageous leader who made modest but very courageous attempts at democratizing the Soviet Union’s communist system in his efforts to resuscitate the stagnant Soviet economy. In so doing and in cooperating with Ronald Reagan, the then US president, his leadership helped to end the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US and thereby won the Nobel Peace prize in 1990. Through his “glasnost” and “Perestroika” policies of openness and restructuring, he worked towards establishing a market economy that was more socially oriented, as he worked to increase productivity and reduce waste. His efforts at democratizing his country’s political system and decentralizing its economy led to the downfall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the citation is not as authoritative, Mikhail Gorbachev is a public figure who appreciated the benefits of democratizing his communist country but is a big advocate of a socially oriented economy that is worthy of citation.
Ammous, in his book, The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, explains Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology in detail, developing the topic from traditional dynamics of economics to the digital revolution fueling globalization. Ammous starts by explaining money in theory, introduces the primitive forms of money that were used in past, and hails gold as the best form of money that man has ever known. He laments how governments have messed up with the money by removing the gold standard, subjecting people to government bureaucratic control, and enslaving us. Ammous is very repetitive in his lamentation of the government’s role in messing with the golden standard and enslavement, which frustration he seems to attribute as one of the catalysts of the current excitement about blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies for the freedom they promise to mankind. For those that care for Justice and equity in the distribution of wealth and for a just society, the kind of freedom the cryptocurrencies give, capitalist markets consumerism, and their impact on ecclesial life should be a call for concern. Capitalism has been hailed for creating value and has brought wealth and development to many nations, especially in the Western Hemisphere. Still, it has also had its share of social ills that negatively impact culture.
Christian leaders should be awake to these realities and prepare to have countermeasures to cushion the disadvantaged in society and the Christian faith and practices. The Christian leader should be conscious of the God-given missional obligation for justice and mercy ministry to the poor and the needy, who may not be afforded equal opportunity in our capitalist, competitive society. In attributing capitalism to the protestant ethic, Max Weber points out the disruption of the family and social life brought about by the resultant capitalist free market forces and advocates for countermeasures to safeguard society from the negative impact. Vincent Miller highlights the impact of consumerism on the Christian faith and practice, including the commodification of religion and religious artifacts, which Christian leaders should be keen to address. Miller analyses Capitalism in his book and shows how consumerism disarms religion, “When consumption becomes the dominant cultural practice, belief is systematically misdirected from traditional religious practices into consumption…Traditional practices of self-transformation are subordinated to consumer choice.” In his doctoral theses on evangelicalism and capitalism, Jason Clark points to the rival desires of consumerism associated with the capital markets as a problem, as they directly rival the desires of the ecclesial life. He says that the two sets of desires are not a dichotomy but problematizes capitalist markets as modes of resistance, resonance, and co-creation.
 Hilary Lamb. British Digital Currency Being Considered by Government Taskforce. Published April 19, 2021. British digital currency being considered by government taskforce | E&T Magazine (theiet.org).
 Mikhail Gorbachev was the secretary general of the communist party of The Soviet Union from 1985 to 1990 and the first president of the Soviet Union from 1990 t0 1991. He is credited with taking the first modest attempts to democratize the soviet political system and bringing an end to the cold war. He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1990. He resigned as president of The Soviet Union in 1991 and formed the Gorbachev Foundation and remained active in social and political causes for the remainder of his life.
 Biography of Mikhail Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev – Cold War, Age & Quotes – Biography.
 Ammous, Saifedean. The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking. (Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Wiley, 2018).
 Max Weber. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (Mineola, New York. Dover Publications, 2003).
 Vincent J Miller. Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture. ( Bloomsbury Academic, 2005).
 Jason Clark. Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the relationship. PhD thesis, Middlesex University/ London School of Theology. (Thesis 2018).
9 responses to “While Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, the Free Market, and globalization Promise tremendous Value, we should be mindful of a Just society with a human face”
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Fascinating post, Mary.
In many ways, Bitcoin is just another opportunity for inequity. Unfortunately, at least within many American expressions of the church, capitalism lives and reigns as the foundation of greed, unimaginable wealth, and inequality.
In your experience, what is the relationship between economics and the African church expressions?
Mary, thanks for you thoughtful post. You wrote: “For those that care for Justice and equity in the distribution of wealth and for a just society, the kind of freedom the cryptocurrencies give, capitalist markets consumerism, and their impact on ecclesial life should be a call for concern.” Can you be more specific about the concerns you have for justice and equity with the advent of cryptocurrency?
I know I am not in your cohort, and am unfamiliar with the book your wrote about, however, I was immediately intrigued by your title and opening lines. Great job hooking me in! This line in particular stood out to me: “For those that care for Justice and equity in the distribution of wealth and for a just society, the kind of freedom the cryptocurrencies give, capitalist markets consumerism, and their impact on ecclesial life should be a call for concern.” Thank you for your reflections. I have felt uneasy with the hype around cryptocurrencies. You post pointed out the harsh, yet unsurprising (“nothing new under the sun”) reality of inequality resulting from this form of currency de-regulation.
If you could summarize in a few sentences a biblical perspective on economics, what would that be?
Mary, what a beautiful post. The Gorbachev quote pertaining to “globalization with a human face” is poignant, and something I’ll be chewing on for a bit. Well done!
Mary: Nice connection to Max Weber. It will be interesting to see how different economies approach the idea of cryptocurrency. More capitalistic countries have embraced it quickly, but socialist ones have not. As the idea of cryptocurrency takes deeper root in our global economy, there will be surprises and unintended consequences that can not be predicted. Nonetheless, the Christian leader, like you pointed out, can not afford to be ignorant of helping the poor and fighting for justice. No matter what the currency is, these problems will be with us.
Mary: I love your encouragement for us to always remember the human face behind any of these issues. I too am concerned about how cryptocurrencies will exasperate the distinctions between the rich and poor. Thank you for another insightful post.
Mary, this is an excellent post… one to re-read and reflect upon my deeply. Your writing intrigued me to learn more about Mikhail Gorbachev. Is there a book or article that you have read about him that you would suggest others read? I would be very interested. I remember him when I was a young boy, though I don’t know much about him, his leadership, or policy.
Mary, thank you for your post on Ammous’ book. I really appreciated how you engaged him in conversation with Weber, Miller, and Clark. Like others here, I also appreciated you drawing from Gorbachev’s commitment to a socially oriented market economy and globalization with a human face. As you point out, this is a corrective needed in capitalistically shaped economic systems as with any other economic system and it needs to be kept front and center no matter what currency is used. In your context, do you come up against corporations or other businesses that operate without a human face, without an awareness of their social impact? And if so, what have you found as the most effective way to engage them/challenge them in their business practices so that they can become more just?
Mary, thank you for your interesting perspective. I appreciate your analysis of Gorbachev. I agree with you that we need to consider those who are less fortunate when engaging you these types of changes. When I was reading the book, I keep seeing the faces of those in South Africa who live in huts, struggling to survive. How will they navigate a cryptocurrency system? Protect themselves from hackers? Or even have the energy to deal with those things? Personally, they would overwhelm me.