How is Bitcoin money?-Theory, Culture & Society
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Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer electronic payment system that operates as an independent currency. This paper is a philosophical investigation of the ontological constitution of Bitcoin. Using Slavoj Žižek’s ontological triad of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary, the paper distinguishes between three ideal typical theories of money: commodity theory, fiat theory, and credit theory. The constitution of Bitcoin is analysed by comparing the currency to each of these ideal types. It is argued that Bitcoin is commodity money without gold, fiat money without a state, and credit money without debt. In conclusion, it is suggested that Bitcoin poses an ideological challenge to conventional forms of money in so far as it not only provokes sedimented beliefs about money but also exposes the forms of exploitation, risk and even violence inherent in the existing system of state authorized credit money.