the emancipatory
potential of
cultural practice

TEH Meeting 81
WUK, Vienna

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Bitcoin: Escaping money by creating your own?

Workshop with Beat Weber


Staircase 5, Turkish space

The financial crisis has given rise to numerous theories about its roots: Is it the crisis-prone nature of the economic system in general, is it the financial sector and its insufficient regulation, is it global imbalances and unsustainable debt? One view sees the way money is created as the main problem and calls for monetary reform as the solution. Prime amongst a number of alternative monetary experiments emerging after the crisis, Bitcoin answers this call by providing a decentralised system supporting an independent electronic currency designed to emulate gold in cyberspace. You can use Bitcoin to make payments amongst peers, speculate, and hide information from authorities. In the independent cultural sector interest has focused on the possible use of Bitcoin as a dissident statement, alternative source of income, and means of creating independent economic networks.

This workshop aims at introducing Bitcoin and how it works and offers a critical assessment of the project’s main claims. Can Bitcoin really rival official money, and what risks does it entail? Are libertarian beliefs in currency competition and fears of inflation compatible with worldviews and needs prevalent among cultural workers? Is alternative money the key to alternative economic interaction, or just a spectacular sideshow?