The Bitcoin 2021 Conference in Miami in early June wasn't just a celebration of the end of the pandemic and an opportunity for cryptocurrency and blockchain true believers to gather up close and maskless with more than 10,000 fellow travelers. It was a watershed moment for a technological and cultural movement whose goal is nothing short of the separation of money and state.
Bitcoin emerged just a dozen years ago, when a pseudonymous genius shared a nine-page paper on an obscure email list, and now it's the third-largest currency on the planet, according to Deutsche Bank. In another 12 years, we may look back on Bitcoin 2021 as the Woodstock of the crypto generation.
Headline acts included former Rep. Ron Paul (R–Texas), who embraced cryptocurrency despite his long history as a gold bug; Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who said "the internet needs a native currency" and pledged billions to develop necessary infrastructure; and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who suggested the bitcoin subculture is poised to go mainstream the same way skating did in the 1990s.
In between panels and talks by major bitcoin figures such as Erik Voorhees, Nic Carter, Elizabeth Stark, and Robert Breedlove, the DJ Diplo, sex-tape entrepreneur Paris Hilton, and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather added celebrity sizzle and attendees heard the first jailhouse interview with Ross Ulbricht since he was given an effective life sentence for creating the pioneering darknet site Silk Road, which helped bootstrap bitcoin in its early years. On the final day of the conference, El Salvador announced it would become the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender.
One of the biggest—and most surprising—breakout stars of the conference was Cynthia Lummis, a 66-year-old freshman Republican senator from Wyoming. From the stage and in an interview with Reason, Lummis forcefully made the case that bitcoin not only provides a legitimate alternative store of value and medium of exchange but would act as a check on the devaluation of the U.S. dollar and other currencies through the runaway creation of fiat money. She also believes that the growth of bitcoin—mistakenly assailed for its heavy use of electricity—is acting as a spur to create renewable energy in places such as Wyoming, and she extolled its privacy features in a world of increasing surveillance by governments and corporations.
Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie; shot and edited by Noor Greene.
Photos: Caroline Brehman—Pool via CNP/picture alliance / Consolidated News
Pool/Reuters/Newscom, Seth Browarnik/startraksphoto/Cover Images/Newscom.
Music: Sax Rock and Roll by Kevin Macleod, Film Music, Future is Now by Lux Inspira, Artlist.