Forking in Time

Blockchains and a Political Economy of Absolute Succession

  • Calum Bowden


This article focuses on the way blockchains construct time and the implications that has on governance, paying particular attention to the original Bitcoin network. Blockchains enforce succession through consensus, and for this reason, the philosopher Nick Land argues that “The Blockchain solves the problem of spacetime”. The article uses Land’s argument as a starting point for understanding the crucial role time plays in the governance of blockchain networks. It asks if the technology can, in fact, be understood to solve the problem of absolute succession, to investigate ways in which forking, both a byproduct of distributed consensus and the mechanism through which blockchains are upgraded, breaks the power concentrating around Land’s definite article Blockchain.