It may have been communist tyrant Vladimir Lenin who said: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

And, it certainly feels like the latter phase recently, as the traditional news media, coupled with neurotically confrontational commentary on social media, heave people unwillingly from panic mode to crisis, and back to panic again.

This is not to say that there aren't brutal, tragic and profoundly wasteful events taking place around the world, but rather that every event is amplified and compressed up to the exact same level and tone.

What's more, it doesn't seem to matter much where you are located, as even if you're geographically distant from the places where the latest bloody bilious atrocities have erupted, the same media cycles play out, with similarly understandable but knee-jerk responses.

Something striking about major, disruptive events recently though, is the extent to which cryptocurrencies have become a recurring thread, running through them.

This began subtly throughout the unprecedented and extreme global response to covid-19 (during which bitcoin hit new all-time highs), and then came to the fore more starkly this year, first with the truckers' protests in Canada, and then with events in Ukraine and Russia, as the military assault taking place there continues to escalate.

Last month in Canada, an enormous convoy of truckers set off across the country, making their way to the capital city, where they then set themselves up for an extended stay in the bureaucratic and political heart of the nation. Their complaint was with the government's decrees and mandates around covid-19, which appear to be a straightforward violation of well-established human rights principles.

The Canadian government's response included preventing donated funds from reaching the truckers, and freezing the bank accounts of people involved in or donating to the protests, not to mention temporarily invoking emergency powers.

To say that this reaction was outside the boundaries of liberal norms is an understatement, but also of interest is that immediately, cryptocurrency was presented as a solution to this kind of government overreach impeding on citizens' financial freedoms.

Being cut off from financial services or even the means to transact is not something anyone would ever have expected to witness in a democratic developed nation like Canada. At the same time though, a real-time lesson was given to the general populace: take nothing for granted, not even your bank account, and by the way, have you heard of this thing called Bitcoin?

As promotional campaigns go, bitcoiners who push for wider adoption couldn't have planned this one better.

And then, as the news media focus shifted from Canada to Eastern Europe, and Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, there was another remarkable development. Suddenly, from within the destructive barrage, the Ukrainian nation's official Twitter account sent out messages requesting crypto donations.

A tweet that includes two crypto addresses begins with this call to action:

“Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.”

More recently, the message has been updated with a further, additional tweet, specifying a Polkadot address to which DOT can be sent, expressing gratitude for all the donations received up to now and specifically thanking Gavin Wood, the creator of Polkadot (and a co-founder of Ethereum) for a generous donation.

Additionally, the Ukrainian account states that more cryptocurrencies will be accepted soon.

And, simultaneously, we see finance weaponized against Russia. Sanctions are being levied and agreement has been reached among leading nations that Russian banks are to be removed from SWIFT, the international payments messaging system.

There are disagreements as to the efficacy of these approaches, and as to what the knock-on effects might be, but it’s clear that finance, or perhaps we could simply say at the base layer, money, is being used as a foreign policy tool.

That shouldn’t really be surprising, money is a powerful lever, which makes it significant, if you’ve been following the development of bitcoin that cryptocurrencies again enter into the conversation.

This time, the (probably unfounded) fear is that the Russian state might use crypto to work around sanctions and any attempts at financial expulsion.

At the same time, crypto might be used by Russian civilians (who may very well oppose their government’s use of military aggression), to get around the transactional and store-of-wealth problems resulting from their country being repositioned as an international pariah.

And, so in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, crypto has entered the equation on every side, touted as being of potential assistance to the aggressors, the defensive nation, and those caught in the middle.

What’s becoming apparent here is that as cryptocurrencies operate outside of all institutions, then crypto itself, unaffiliated and beyond national borders, is an entirely neutral conduit.

And, as there is a power imbalance between tyrants and citizens, cryptocurrencies are less likely to help despotic governments evade the consequences of their wrongdoing, and more likely to help decent citizens evade despotic governments.

It may have been communist tyrant Vladimir Lenin who said: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

And, it certainly feels like the latter phase recently, as the traditional news media, coupled with neurotically confrontational commentary on social media, heave people unwillingly from panic mode to crisis, and back to panic again.

This is not to say that there aren't brutal, tragic and profoundly wasteful events taking place around the world, but rather that every event is amplified and compressed up to the exact same level and tone.

What's more, it doesn't seem to matter much where you are located, as even if you're geographically distant from the places where the latest bloody bilious atrocities have erupted, the same media cycles play out, with similarly understandable but knee-jerk responses.

Something striking about major, disruptive events recently though, is the extent to which cryptocurrencies have become a recurring thread, running through them.

This began subtly throughout the unprecedented and extreme global response to covid-19 (during which bitcoin hit new all-time highs), and then came to the fore more starkly this year, first with the truckers' protests in Canada, and then with events in Ukraine and Russia, as the military assault taking place there continues to escalate.

Last month in Canada, an enormous convoy of truckers set off across the country, making their way to the capital city, where they then set themselves up for an extended stay in the bureaucratic and political heart of the nation. Their complaint was with the government's decrees and mandates around covid-19, which appear to be a straightforward violation of well-established human rights principles.

The Canadian government's response included preventing donated funds from reaching the truckers, and freezing the bank accounts of people involved in or donating to the protests, not to mention temporarily invoking emergency powers.

To say that this reaction was outside the boundaries of liberal norms is an understatement, but also of interest is that immediately, cryptocurrency was presented as a solution to this kind of government overreach impeding on citizens' financial freedoms.

Being cut off from financial services or even the means to transact is not something anyone would ever have expected to witness in a democratic developed nation like Canada. At the same time though, a real-time lesson was given to the general populace: take nothing for granted, not even your bank account, and by the way, have you heard of this thing called Bitcoin?

As promotional campaigns go, bitcoiners who push for wider adoption couldn't have planned this one better.

And then, as the news media focus shifted from Canada to Eastern Europe, and Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, there was another remarkable development. Suddenly, from within the destructive barrage, the Ukrainian nation's official Twitter account sent out messages requesting crypto donations.

A tweet that includes two crypto addresses begins with this call to action:

“Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.”

More recently, the message has been updated with a further, additional tweet, specifying a Polkadot address to which DOT can be sent, expressing gratitude for all the donations received up to now and specifically thanking Gavin Wood, the creator of Polkadot (and a co-founder of Ethereum) for a generous donation.

Additionally, the Ukrainian account states that more cryptocurrencies will be accepted soon.

And, simultaneously, we see finance weaponized against Russia. Sanctions are being levied and agreement has been reached among leading nations that Russian banks are to be removed from SWIFT, the international payments messaging system.

There are disagreements as to the efficacy of these approaches, and as to what the knock-on effects might be, but it’s clear that finance, or perhaps we could simply say at the base layer, money, is being used as a foreign policy tool.

That shouldn’t really be surprising, money is a powerful lever, which makes it significant, if you’ve been following the development of bitcoin that cryptocurrencies again enter into the conversation.

This time, the (probably unfounded) fear is that the Russian state might use crypto to work around sanctions and any attempts at financial expulsion.

At the same time, crypto might be used by Russian civilians (who may very well oppose their government’s use of military aggression), to get around the transactional and store-of-wealth problems resulting from their country being repositioned as an international pariah.

And, so in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, crypto has entered the equation on every side, touted as being of potential assistance to the aggressors, the defensive nation, and those caught in the middle.

What’s becoming apparent here is that as cryptocurrencies operate outside of all institutions, then crypto itself, unaffiliated and beyond national borders, is an entirely neutral conduit.

And, as there is a power imbalance between tyrants and citizens, cryptocurrencies are less likely to help despotic governments evade the consequences of their wrongdoing, and more likely to help decent citizens evade despotic governments.