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The Human Rights Foundation (HRF)’s Alex Gladstein has heaped praise on bitcoin saying it’s an escape hatch from tyranny and that there is more to it than its price. In comments made via a short video, Gladstein, who is the chief strategy officer (CSO) at HRF, asserts that “people who buy bitcoin are strengthening a tool for protecting human rights.”
Bitcoin Preserves Freedom
Meanwhile, Gladstein uses the video to push back again bitcoin critics like Paul Krugman whom he describes as living in a “sheltered environment in a liberal democracy with constitutional protections.” The CSO adds that since Krugman’s “native currency (USD) is globally dominant and relatively stable,” it is easy for him to open a bank account.
Similarly, the HRF executive says it easy for Krugman to use a mobile app to “pay bills or to grow his wealth by investing in real estate or stocks.” In contrast, these privileges are not extended to 4.2 billion people that are living under “authoritarian regimes that use money as a tool for surveillance and state control.”
Therefore, according to Gladstein, “saving and transacting outside the government’s purview is not a shady business. It’s a way to preserve their freedoms.”
Bitcoin Funding and Donations
In the meantime, the CSO identifies several countries that use control of the monetary system to silence human rights defenders and how bitcoin can make a difference. Some of the named countries include China, Russia, Belarus, Nigeria, and Myanmar (Burma). Meanwhile, when speaking about people living under such governments, Gladstein says:
Bitcoin provides a way to preserve their money in cyberspace, locked away by encryption, safe from devaluation, in a network that has never been hacked. For them, it’s digital cash and digital gold rolled into one.
The CSO then gives examples of some pro-democracy groups or individuals that have used bitcoin to beat repressive governments. Gladstein says:
In the past few months, Belarusian activists have used bitcoin to defy the regime by sending more than 3 million dollars of unstoppable money directly to striking workers, who then convert it locally to rubles in peer-to-peer marketplaces to feed their families as they protest the country’s dictatorship.”
Nigeria’s Endsars movement and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are notable examples where human defenders turned to bitcoin. Similarly, citizens of democratic states too can use bitcoin to escape “financial controls, de-platforming, and an ever-expanding surveillance state.”
Meanwhile, Gladstein says as more people “rely increasingly on easily surveilled apps such as Apple pay and Alipay,” bitcoin provides an alternative.
Do you agree with Gladstein that bitcoin offers an escape for victims of tyranny and currency debasement? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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