How Blockchain Bros Gives Us Trump 2020

Identity politics in crypto thwarts women entrepreneurs and ignores real problems

Leah Zitter
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The brouhaha on an alleged “blockchain bros” culture smacks of all that is wrong with Democrats. It tells us why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald J. Trump, and why thinkers like Mark Lilla, professor of Humanities at Columbia University, reluctantly conclude liberals may lose again, unless they change their identity-focused obsessions.

Where I live in Richmond, Virginia, those who pronounce their fealty to Trump talk about real problems: the shootings in the schools, their lost jobs, their decayed teeth -- never, but ever, about “racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression.” These issues, if they exist, are just marginal.

The real problems remain.

A string of articles recently came out from respected media like Forbes, Vice, Bloomberg, the New York Times - of course, Huffington Post - on a male-only Bitcoin world that blocks women from accessing the ledger. Instances are the following: the fantasy crypto city of Puertopia that is 100% male. Blockchain startups that use male-advertising like Prodeum with its one word “penis” on its website. Cryptocurrency events that feature strip fests. Insanely youthful cryp millionaire who live in Silicon Valley “crypto castles” and drink rosé. The New York Times headline, in this case? “Everyone is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not”. Only in this case, the “everyone” is male. More to the point, Google Analytics tallied that while men make up 97 percent of the crypto community, women form the remainder. “I went to a conference last month,” a woman told me, “there was a 15-minute wait for the bathroom for men, and there was no wait for women because there were like five of us, out of maybe 200.”

Just last week, I heard a Washington D.C.- based radio show where a caller-in deplored her inability to launch an ICO. All this gender disparity, misogyny, and so forth stymied her (so she insisted). In short, she saw herself as victim with little chance of succeeding in a male-oriented world. So, she settled for the safety of some standard accounting job.

The moderator concurred with terminology like “safe space”, “unfairness” and “oppression”. I chaffed that women harp on gender politics, instead of pitting their energies on succeeding in the blockchain world. “All it takes,” says Thomas Sowell about success in general, “ is common sense, common decency, work and honesty. There are no magic solutions, at least none that I know of.”

Anyone - or almost anyone - can do it.

Dr. Sowell, Nobel prize conservative libertarian holds ideas closely related to crypto ideology. The venerated economist lauds a free market and advocates supply-side economics for lowering taxes and decreasing regulations. On the other hand, he vehemently opposes affirmative action that calls for protecting and benefiting members of “oppressed” groups.

As an African-American orphan who was born to a housemaid and who dropped out of school to support his family, Dr. Sowell published more than thirty books and won the National Humanities Medal, among other awards. Sowell became one of America’s leading social theorists, political philosophers, and world-read writers. Until 2016, his column was syndicated in at least nine major newspapers.

In a 2014 article, Sowell told the following story:

“Many years ago, in upstate New York, there was a lady who was caught in a fierce snow storm that produced conditions called a 'whiteout.' That's when the snow is falling so thick and fast that all you can see in any direction is just sheer white. This lady wandered around in the storm, struggling to try to get home, but there was no way for her to know where home was. Eventually she collapsed in the snow and died -- something like 50 feet from her home that she could not see.”

The analogy? Every day, scores of “discriminated” individuals who include blacks, women, Native Americans and so forth are persuaded by well-meaning social crusaders to swivel around in circles and to blame others for their poverty, disabilities, lack of opportunities in life. They’re so close to home. All they need to do is doggedly plough foward to their doors. Instead, they pivot, blame others - and die.

May this not be the case with writers and speakers who highlight negative aspects for women in the crypto space, but fail to encourage them? Such individuals emphasize peripheral aspects but forget about the core accomplishments and strides of women in that same space who achieve remarkable and important work.

There’s a CoinReview’s report, for instance, that describes 24 celebrated women in blockchain - all races, all ethnicities.

"No one, “ says Masha Drokova, “cares about your gender.”

The founder of Day One Ventures told Forbes, “They only care if you are able to deliver or not. The crypto space is not about gender, but more about your energy, professionalism and speed. As a female investor and professional I never felt more appreciated and supported in any industry than in blockchain.”

Jalak Jobanputra, founder of the start-up investment firm Future Perfect Ventures, told Laura Shin, “During my five years of investing in the space, I’ve come across brilliant women, and more and more as time goes on who are involved in regulatory conversations and starting new companies in the sector. I’d like to see these women highlighted.”

From my own experience, I heartily assent.

To focus on the problems and to dissuade women from succeeding, deflects them from using their potential to make a difference in the world. It deflects them from ploughing forward.

And that's the crux of the issue.

We have more earnest problems to worry about than race, gender, ethnicity, and the like. There’s hunger, terrorism, a hacked voting system, and so forth. If blockchain, with its universal and decentralized reach, can solve some of these problems - well, shouldn't that be our focus instead of, as Lilla put it, the “caves that Democrats carved themsleves in the side of what once was a great mountain.”

Democrats focused on identity politics and that’s largely why they lost, according to many political analysts.

Blockchain technology has so much to offer. By falling into the rabbit hole of gender politics, we’ll only end up as Alice in Wonderland - operating in a dreamworld instead of tackling real-life problems.

And there's Donald Trump for you.