At the opening of a new centre for crypto-anarchy — the Paralelni Polis (Parallel City) — in Bratislava, Slovakia in October, activist Pavol Luptak asked, “Is this really what Satoshi expected 10 years ago?”
Luptak is one of a group of crypto anarchists who are angered by ‘state’ incursions into the crypto sphere though taxation, regulation and surveillance. Luptak called for a return to the political vision that underpinned bitcoin at its inception — or what he calls a “crypto renaissance.”
Paralelni Polis, which operates in both Bratislava and Prague in the Czech Republic, has members who are dedicated to keeping crypto out of the hands of government control, and as members of the cypherpunk movement, they are focused on privacy and individual liberty.
Luptak told CoinDesk, “We perceive cryptocurrency as a liberation tool,” and at Paralelni Polis they organise education programmes, meetups and a co-working space, as well as “walking newcomers through the process of converting their fiat into cryptocurrency in order to buy a coffee,” as Coindesk reports.
The ‘freedom think tank’ as the group also calls itself, prides itself on its refusal to co-operate with governments and likes to actively antagonise state bodies. Luptak told Coindesk, “We use crypto technologies to keep our community safe and eliminate any negative impacts of political decision made by politicians and the democratic masses.” He also added, “We are a minority, and we use crypto technologies to build our own parallel society with the same or similar-minded people. That’s why we have the Paralelni Polis.”
Parallel institutions offer citizens a fairer deal
Paralelni Polis can trace its origins back to Charter 77, an activist group in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s that opposed the then socialist government. Its leader, Vaclav Benda then said that protest was not enough to create change; the creation of parallel institutions would provide fairer, more humane alternatives to government systems, hence the name of the current crypto anarchist group.
In 2014, Luptak and others founded the Paralelni Polis in Prague, which combined Benda’s ideas with newly discovered, decentralised technologies in an effort to encourage a form of parallel society, and it is noteworthy that there are more places accepting bitcoin in Prague than in most other European cities. There is also the fact that the Czech Republic has very stringent financial rules and surveillance; these have worked to encourage citizens to move over to crypto for a range of transactions. This is replicated across many countries in the eastern bloc, and Luptak believes this will eventually lead more people to look to crypto-anarchy as an alternative.