The double edged sword of economic censorship

This got some traction on social media and I had thoughts sort of all over the place…


“You are required by western propaganda to treat these as fundamentally different. Indeed, huge numbers of people in the West denounce the former while applauding the latter.”

Glenn Greenwald

It’s an important point to contemplate for sure. The power to restrict the freedom to do economic transactions is a big deal, as that freedom underpins so many others, but to imply all such exercises of that power are fundamentally equivalent is also a mistake. The motivation matters a lot, and to sort of imply that government should never use this tool is – well, beside being unrealistic – may leave governments and society notably susceptible to the tyranny of the few, or especially the tyranny of the wealthy.

This twitter thread articulates a similar line of reasoning re the Canada situation, but I think makes a similar conclusion as Glenn that these actions in the headlines are fundamentally the same. I think the thread makes a lot of good points but I also think it gets a bit myopic

Then there is the Ukraine situation and sanctions. The whole SWIFT thing, and how Russians may be tempted to end around that with cryptocurrencies… My prediction is that when the Russians aren’t meaningfully able to avoid sanctions with crypto that may open a lot of (willfully blind) eyes. We’ll see I guess.

@Dhh had a take that was I think was similarly — not great … https://world.hey.com/dhh/i-was-wrong-we-need-crypto-587ccb03

So economic censorship is definitely a double edged sword. Maintaining the availability of cash as a means of economic transaction is an important check on that. Crypto *might* also fill that rile someday, but not in most of its current permutations that I know of mostly because most crypto currencies don’t actually meet the criteria of money

If you want to nerd out on money and a with a lot of debunking of bad modern mythology around it this blog/newsletter is really good, and has a nice intro post https://brettscott.substack.com/p/top-10-reads?s=r

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