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Erik Voorhees: Controversy trails view on cryptocurrency & democracy



Erik Voorhees, an early Bitcoin adopter and entrepreneur, sparked a discussion on the relationship between democracy and the adoption of cryptocurrency. This occurred during a recent keynote address.

Yuga Cohler, a senior staff software engineer at Coinbase, argued that Voorhees’ view oversimplifies and potentially damages the discussion. He further stated that Voorhees’ argument could hinder rather than help the global integration of cryptocurrency by presenting an unrealistic and idealistic view of the technology.


In his keynote address, Erik spoke about the power of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in creating a financial system free from centralized control. This aligned with the central theme of “Permissionless II,” an event that focused on exploring the potential of decentralization and its implications for society.

The key takeaway from Voorhees’ argument is that a financial system built on code and math can be superior to one built on the often-imprecise and subjective laws and regulations susceptible to political influence. Cohler agrees with this basic principle and also recognizes the necessity of protecting people’s right to transact.

However, Cohler disagrees with Voorhees’ dismissal of democracy and the state’s role in society. He believes that Voorhees’ viewpoint overlooks the diversity of political systems around the world and the importance of freedom and democracy in combating oppression. He suggests that Voorhees undermines the importance of  progress and the efforts of those fighting for their rights in more restrictive countries by dismissing democracy.


Cohler also argues that there are some inherent contradictions in Voorhees’ vision of a system based on code rather than law.  Hesays:  

“Voorhees’ political framework reveals a level of hypocrisy and immediately crumbles when applied to the real world.”

Cohler had questioned whether Voorhees would be willing to participate in the very system he has criticized, such as paying taxes or adhering to regulations, to function in society. He also questions whether Voorhees can imagine a world where essential public infrastructure, such as roads or bridges, is funded and built through smart contracts.

Furthermore, Cohler argues that while decentralized finance has its merits, it is not a panacea for all the world’s problems. He believes that denying the role of a centralized state in providing for the needs of its citizens denies the importance of collective action and the benefits of collective decision-making.

Patrick McCorry, a prominent figure in the crypto space, agreed with Cohler’s critique of Voorhees’ vision. McCorry suggested that rather than seeking to replace democratic governments, crypto should seek to push back against some of the restrictions and barriers that hinder its development.

Selkis and others like him have signaled a desire to find common ground between the traditional financial system and the emerging world of crypto.

However, while Voorhees’ vision of a decentralized world without the need for centralized governments may be an appealing prospect to many in the crypto space, it is clear that such an approach may not be practical or sustainable.

Cohler stressed the importance of finding a way for the government and the crypto industry to collaborate in a way that promotes an open and global financial system. He argued that outright rejection of the government’s role in the financial system would be counterproductive and that finding a way to integrate the two spheres is the key to success. 

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