Bitcoin: Rube Goldberg Machine, Gigantic Distraction, Entertainment, Ripoff or Money?

28 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2018

See all articles by Niccolo Leo Caldararo

Niccolo Leo Caldararo

San Francisco State University - Department of Anthropology

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 4, 2018


A means of exchange and preservation of value is likely as old as our species. Global economic trade is often argued to be as old as trade. The question of the nature of the exchange, of who creates the value and how it is regulated is the issue. While tin from England may have reached Sumeria 4,000 years ago, or Phoenicians’ ships entered the Africa area of Cape Palmas at about the same time, the problem of exchange is a central issue. Ideas of money are as diverse as the cultures that produce them, yet today global trade is experiencing modifications of the satisfaction of exchange with new platforms of electronic money. Blockchain technology is touted as foolproof, such claims have appeared in the past with various financial innovations. Such abstractions of value may not be new, but as a product of technology and complexity they create psychological novelty and a form of mesmerizing fetishism. Manias of value are also not new, from stock (South Seas Corporation) to tulips. The form of the mania is defined and expressed culturally but is often associated with technological change and distance of exchange of partners and clients. Inequality is also a feature, embedded in economic and technological disruption of trade and exchange. The role of redistribution and taxation are essential in maintaining social credit and equality.

Keywords: Bitcoin; Blockchain technology; electronic currencies; script; money; government; trade; taxation

JEL Classification: E00, E16, E3, E21, E22, E41, E42, E51, E52

Suggested Citation

Caldararo, Niccolo Leo, Bitcoin: Rube Goldberg Machine, Gigantic Distraction, Entertainment, Ripoff or Money? (February 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Niccolo Leo Caldararo (Contact Author)

San Francisco State University - Department of Anthropology ( email )

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