On Libertarian Socialism and Bitcoin: an essay series — Intro and Part 1

Tom Maxwell
5 min readSep 30, 2022

On Libertarian Socialism and Bitcoin:

an essay series

Published at Bitcoin block height 756285


Over the last few months, I’ve been studying and cataloguing articles, essays, videos, and larger works in an attempt to develop a single cohesive paper that could neatly argue for simultaneous adoption of both a libertarian socialist (what I consider to be synonymous with anarchist) administrative and economic system and Bitcoin as a worldwide monetary system. And today I’ve abandoned that strategy in favor of a series of much shorter essays that will make my case piece by piece. I have three primary reasons for pivoting in this endeavor:

  1. I would rather foster an ongoing conversation around the synergy of these two revolutionary systemic shifts (libertarian socialism and Bitcoin) than try to present what I would consider to be a polished thesis coming strictly from my point of view. One of the beautiful concepts of anarchism is self-determination, or the inherent right of the individual — and communities, more broadly — to develop their own specific systems and rule sets to suit their desires and environment. Free and voluntary communication and association between parties is the method by which novel and sustainable systems will develop and propagate. Adding information and context to a developing discourse with a string of somewhat concise thoughts that will, in turn, likely be illuminated by the discussion itself seems to me to be more in the spirit of dynamic system development than offering some kind of completed personal treatise. (Note: I love books/long works and try to consume as much information as I can in whatever form it comes in. I also love movies, but you probably won’t see me making one of those.)
  2. Life is crazy busy, and in a world where communication tools are readily available and time is not, shorter segments of content seem to me to be the order of the day.
  3. I hope that publishing this initial piece will push me to keep writing and publishing accompanying work.

The purpose of this essay series is to demonstrate how adopting Bitcoin today can help enable a libertarian socialist system tomorrow, specifically through explaining why libertarian socialism is superior to capitalism and statism in its ability to guarantee freedom, prosperity, and security to the vast majority of people and how Bitcoin is one of the most potent tools at our disposal to build dual power and networks of solidarity and mutual aid/support among individuals and organizations battling authoritarianism around the world, both in so-called “western nations” and those that may otherwise be sequestered or alienated from the dominant financial system.

Part 1: Definitions

One of the biggest roadblocks to substantive debate about the merits and faults of any particular political, administrative, and/or economic system or concept is the lack of a clear definition of what that system or concept is and what each side is actually arguing for or against. In my experience, coming to a consensus on the meaning of the term ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ has been extremely difficult to the point of many interactions devolving into multiple parties talking past each other in an effort to eke out a hollow victory over the others. That’s why part one of this series is primarily about defining terms I will use throughout these essays.

Bur first, why am I leaning toward the term ‘libertarian socialism’ when I’ve already dubbed it equivalent to ‘anarchism’? The answer: I will use both terms somewhat interchangeably, and consider them to be so. While both libertarian socialism and anarchism describe a horizontal administration of society, libertarian socialism is, in my opinion, slightly more obvious in its self-evident description of how society achieves said horizontal administration, so I personally prefer it when discussing a shift from the status quo, particularly in the context of this series. Saying ‘libertarian socialism’ also offers an opportunity to differentiate it from ‘state socialism’ (which is oxymoronic, more on this later). I could argue for the use of ‘anarchism’ in a similar way to combat the non-sensical concept of ‘anarcho-capitalism’ (also oxymoronic), but know that when I proclaim libertarian socialism as the best way to organize people, I’m hopeful that it allows us to one day achieve and maintain anarchy. Anarchy is not an end goal, per se, with a stopping point, but a state of being that must be constantly cultivated.

The following are some important definitions that will be key in properly contextualizing future releases in this series. Please visit the links at the bottom of this page for more information as to where these definitions came from (if applicable):

libertarian socialism (1): a political and economic system intended to maximize human freedom by overcoming the domination, repression, and alienation that block the free flow of human creativity, thought, and action through the administration of all by all

socialism: the administration of all by all

capitalism (2, 3): an economic system based on private property, wage labor, and the exploitation of resources — including labor — for profit

the State (4): the body that alienates the masses from control over the civil functions of society

progressive (5): advancement of the human condition through social reform based on advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization

Progressive (6): a statist political party intent on reforming the government with an emphasis on social justice, environmentalism, and anti-trust laws

(Note: please note the lowercase ‘p’ and uppercase ‘P’ of the previous two definitions and the lowercase ‘l’ and uppercase ‘L’ of the following two definitions)

libertarian (7): a political philosophy that takes individual liberty to be the primary political value

Libertarian (8): a statist political party intent on reforming the government with an emphasis on individual and property rights and “free” markets

anarchism (2, 9) : a social and political philosophy based on freedom for all in fulfillment of their common functional and economic needs, and a society free of external authority, domination, and institutional hierarchy

Bitcoin (10): a decentralized, peer-to-peer monetary system and network secured by a hash-based proof-of-work consensus mechanism

bitcoin (10): the fungible monetary instrument native to the Bitcoin network

There may be other terms I need to define for clarity in future additions this essay series, but this is a good starting point to understand where I’m coming from when I advocate for libertarian socialism to replace capitalism as the chosen economic system of humanity.

Stay tuned for Part 2 (tentatively titled ‘We Need Money Today’).

(1): https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ulli-diemer-what-is-libertarian-socialism

(2): https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/morpheus-basic-principles-of-anarchism

(3): http://afed.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Anarchist_Federation_Ecology_pamphlet_2018_Capitalism_is_Killing_the_Earth.pdf

(4): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_DtRuBimZM&t=120s

(5): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism

(6): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism_in_the_United_States

(7): https://www.britannica.com/topic/libertarianism-politics

(8): https://www.lp.org/platform/

(9): https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/george-woodcock-socialism-from-below#toc3

(10): https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf