In 2016, the United States saw the Dakota Access Pipeline protests unfold and resolve over the course of many months. After a drawn out event, which can only be described as a human struggle involving sacrifice, courage, and resolve, a key component to the protest’s success was the collective’s opt-out of the banking system which funded the corporations behind the project. It is in shedding light on this crucial component where the Bitcoin community would like to extend its perspective to the protestors.
The last quarter of 2016 saw the flames of conflict at Standing Rock between peaceful protesters and corporate-commissioned law enforcement grow violent. In efforts to stop the project from carrying out at the Dakota Access pipeline, protesters stirred up a social media storm with trending hashtags like #NoDAPL and #bankexit. One protester formed a call-to-action, prompting people to divest from the major banks involved in funding the proposed Bakken pipeline.
The call-to-action video follows a protester to JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, two among a list of 38 banks in question, where he states to the bankers that their respective companies are funding the Dakota Access Pipeline project after withdrawing the entirety of his savings and closing his account. Viewers then follow him to a credit union where he deposits his savings.
Public sentiment is resoundingly clear - people want to have control over their money and a say in what projects they back, directly or indirectly. Ignited by the events at Standing Rock, this sentiment is abundantly exhibited in the comments section of the video:
“Multinationals and big banks are largely responsible for the state America is in now, we must do anything we could do to take away their power.”
While well-intended in its defiance against actions of the oil and gas giants, transferring the same base currency from one bank to another is effectively the same as driving your fossil-fuel burning vehicle out of one garage and into another, without fundamentally swapping your vehicle out for a clean car.
To the average US person, Bitcoin is the devil you don’t know rather than the devil you know well, the US Dollar. Andreas Antonopoulos, a key influencer in the Bitcoin community, introduces Bitcoin in the first chapter of his book, Mastering Bitcoin. Most people who have heard about Bitcoin raise the issue of price volatility.
Despite double-digit overnight swings in price, Bitcoin’s return when adjusted for risk compared to other asset classes comes out above. As far as legality is concerned, governments can render Bitcoin illegal, just like they can ban cannabis, cigarettes, guns, and alcohol. So far, many countries have not deemed Bitcoin illegal, because governments lack the means ever to control it.
Mass capital exoduses from government-backed currencies to mathematical algorithm-backed Bitcoin have become the economic response to capital control and political uncertainty worldwide. It’s easy to use Bitcoin as a spending tool with a debit card funded or with a wallet app on your cell phone.
The US Dollar stands as the world’s prevalent, privately-owned, shareholder-backed reserve currency which is printed, issued, and controlled by the biggest central bank of them all. A move to divest from major banks is a fundamental first step for individuals to reassert control over their money, but it is a contradiction when calling for a bank exit while still holding fiat currency. Those who stood up at Standing Rock were standing for something greater - for fundamental rights.
The right to Freedom of Money is as fundamental as the right to Freedom of Speech.