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How Bitcoin Supports Human Rights with Alex Gladstein

Apr 8, 2024

How Bitcoin Supports Human Rights with Alex Gladstein

How Bitcoin Supports Human Rights with Alex Gladstein

Key Takeaways

Alex Gladstein, a human rights activist and campaigner, has found himself convinced that Bitcoin is a critical tool for human rights after years of skepticism. His journey into Bitcoin's importance began with observing its use by WikiLeaks in 2011, when traditional financial avenues were blocked. Over time, through various events like the Ukrainian fundraiser in 2013 and donations to his organization, Gladstein began to see Bitcoin’s potential for significant impact.

Gladstein is the Chief Strategy Officer of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which was initially slow to adopt Bitcoin but now recognizes its potential as a financial freedom tool. Thanks to Bitcoin, HRF has been able to support democratic movements, at-risk journalists, opposition leaders, and more. Gladstein has utilized his network of global contacts to empower individuals in nearly every country, offering them financial freedom with Bitcoin.

The narrative that Gladstein lays out is compelling: Bitcoin is not just an investment; it's a technology that facilitates savings, commerce, freedom, and energy efficiency. It has helped bypass authoritarian controls, enabled remittances at fair exchange rates, and subsidized the development of electricity infrastructure in underpowered regions. Bitcoin has proven to be a game-changer for activists and citizens living under oppressive regimes by offering a means of transaction that cannot be easily censored, frozen, or confiscated.

Best Quotes

  1. "We first observed Bitcoin being used as a use case in 2011... It was such, basically like a science experiment. It didn't really seem like it would actually move the needle, but it just was the first little inkling."
  2. "The foundation that Alexei Navalny created runs its entire payroll on Bitcoin. It would be impossible for this foundation to run its payroll on the US dollar or the euro or the Russian ruble, because fiat currency doesn't work for them anymore."
  3. "Bitcoin is not just a savings technology, it's not just a freedom technology, it's not just a commerce technology, it's an energy savings technology."
  4. "Bitcoin is bad for dictators. If you have money that the people control, that the government cannot debase, that the government cannot censor and the government cannot confiscate, that does not work for you."


The podcast episode with Alex Gladstein serves as a profound testament to how Bitcoin has evolved from a mere digital curiosity to a powerful instrument of freedom and progress. It has emerged as a critical tool not just for investors but for those who are striving for democracy and human rights across the globe. The conversation with Gladstein not only sheds light on the utility of Bitcoin beyond financial markets but also highlights the nuanced ways in which Bitcoin is integrating into the fabric of civil society, empowering individuals and democratizing access to resources.

Bitcoin's role as a catalyst for change is undeniable, and its potential implications are vast. As we reflect on the themes discussed in the episode, it is evident that Bitcoin is now paving the way for a future where financial freedom, energy efficiency, and the empowerment of marginalized voices are not only possible but are actively being realized.


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