One man’s idea of utopia?: the bitcoin-only Czech cafe

Paralelní Polis, which in Czech means “Parallel World,” is known mostly for being perhaps the world’s first bitcoin-only cafe. (Here’s my photo essay of what it’s like to buy coffee in the shop.) All transactions — from wages to point of sale — are processed virtually, using one of the most well-recognized cryptocurrencies. More broadly though, the recently-renovated space, which includes a co-working room and hacker space, was conceived as way to demonstrate on a micro level how an entirely decentralized society might function.

There is more here, and supposedly there is no hierarchy among the employees either.  The original pointer was from Ángel Cabrera.


He published his private key in the photo! I'm sure his Bitcoin wallet was promptly drained.

LOL, so true. But the amount is small, the last few letters are obscured, and the barcode has to be enlarged etc, but I'm sure somebody might try to spend his remaining coins. BTW the price of bitcoin has been ominously dropping since the highs earlier this year.

"supposedly there is no hierarchy among the employees either": who cleans the bogs, then?

Oh Czech anarchists aren't they fun.

To the question of how does no hierarchy work, I can tell you from direct experience with them back in the early 90s. Whoever's paying the bills badgers the others until they reach "consensus". In other words, the same as the EU.

The difference is that in the EU those that "owe" are "badgered" to reduce their incomes, not their consumption.

'which in Czech means “Parallel World,”' but not according to Google translate it doesn't. And I must say that translating "polis" as 'world' seems rather unlikely to me. Why would they adopt a word from Greek and then change its meaning so much?

Yeah, that was a dumb mistake by WaPo. There is no Czech word "polis". It's a Greek word that everyone, Czech and foreigner, is supposed to recognize. Sadly, the name went over the heads of this particular American reporter.

I am not sure if this comment is entirely on point, but I am prompted to write it because of the sort of anarcho-socialist romance around BitCoin. Two weeks ago I was nailed by the CryptoWall scheme: all 32,000 files on my laptop were encrypted, and I was given a few days to pay $500 to the pirates for the decryption key. I paid up, got my files back, and promptly installed all the backup and security processes that I should have had running to start with. But to my point: this nefarious activity turned three technologies that were initially developed to defend/liberate/empower the Average Joe into tools that exploit/rob/abuse the Average Joe. To wit (I've always wanted to type "to wit"):

1. The encryption used was PGP ... originally devised to protect political activists from government snoops, i think
2. The network for communicating with the bandits was Tor...ditto I think?
3. The only currency accepted was Bitcoin...'nuff said.

I am not in this comment criticizing any of these technologies or their creators. I am only ruefully offering up the irony, that for this individual at least, my FIRST direct encounter with each of these technologies was during a robbery. Maybe I will use my leftover BitCoins to buy a coffee next time I am in Praha.

I guess any technology can be weaponized...

Ironically, bitcoins are a wet dream of both anarchosocialists and anarchocapitalists. Not the only thing they have in common.

Backups are supposed to empower the Average Joe along with everyone else who uses them. But it's AJ who usually doesn't. And I am no less guilty than others on that score.

I have more constructive point about backups.

Tools like BitCoin and Tor (and to a lesser extend PGP) are aim allow people to do various things without a veto from well-connected organisations and also to make investigations expensive enough that authorities must target them rather than just pull in every user.

The "various things" include petty crime -- although police will still invest in big crime (taking down Silk Road and copy-cats). But the "various things" also include measures for protecting yourself from petty crime. Hence the need for backups.

Speaking of targeted investigations, if I were a Czech police officer looking for a low-risk and high-profile case of possible financial crimes, however petty, this article would be a windfall.

I think it's more ironic with respect to anarcho-capitalists, since they're the ones opposed to taxes like these.

Here's what Paralelní Polis means -

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