Chaining Capitalism: Blockchains and Contradictions

Authors: Joe Blankenship*, University of Kentucky, M. Martin Bosman, University of South Florida
Topics: Economic Geography, Political Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: blockchain, cryptocurrency, political economy, economic geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom A, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The growth of cryptocurrencies and the evolution of their underlying technologies have elicited debate and examination on their conditions of existence within context of the numerous contradictions of neoliberal capitalism. This paper focuses on three contradictions of concern: the dual nature of capital; technology and labor; and uneven geographical development. An analysis of these foundational and constantly shifting contradictions exposes cryptocurrencies as processes, blockchains as frameworks to both assist and disrupt labor, and it highlights how these systems and processes may create new political and economic distances and borders. Focusing on these three moments contributes to greater clarity regarding current and potential future functions of blockchain-driven systems, as well as a deeper understanding about how these systems relate to the dangers of compound growth, capital’s relationship to nature, and the universal alienation of people from the products of their labor. Accordingly, this paper seeks to contribute to a growing literature on cryptocurrencies, specifically the current and intended relations of capital to blockchain technologies and their effects on contemporary political economies.

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