a personal blogger

1. my journey to this point

Working at a Finnish crypto startup made me realise a ton of things regarding the state of crypto since the publication of my thesis Bitcoin as a Nonviolent Tool Against State Financial Censorship. If you are worried that you might have less personal autonomy over your money, then let’s look 1) my journey to this point and 2) my perspective on where things are going.

I heard about bitcoin for the first time from my friend in 2012. They bought a bitcoin miner and actually made some profit in their home. I paid no attention and shrugged it off, enjoying video games with my friend.

I didn’t pay attention to it until early 2017 when bitcoin was a hot potato. I was, like most people, greedy. Not too long and it reached the peak and crashed and became boring, “dead”. From daily euphoria to nightly panic attacks.

Despite these difficult emotions, I plunged into the rabbit hole. I was astonished that the spotlight wasn’t bitcoin and its technological inner workings per se but the context: The economy in shambles after the financial crisis of 2008, origins and function of money, different schools of thought regarding economical models for capitalism, monetary colonialism, the taken-for-granted financial privileges of the Global North, cashless societies, and state censorship.

I have laser eyes. You could say I am one of the people who “came for the money, but stayed for the technology”. In fact I contributed to the bitcoin community by writing a thesis on censorship, telling my friends and family about bitcoin (with poor success), and now working at a crypto startup.

I have witnessed two halving events and couple market crashes. Halving is an event where the supply of bitcoin halves and there is less and less bitcoin available, making it one of the scarcest things there is. I bet some day when bitcoin is ubiquitous in our society, people will have halving parties every four years until the end of 2140.

Every year since 2017, I have become more and more confident and easy about the price and vision. It is a linear relationship: the more you know about bitcoin, the more certain you become of its potential and its eventual ubiquity. The inevitable crash will be a mere meh.

I am no longer interested in the price. However, it is important to note that increases in price drives awareness and then adoption. (That is how I dropped into the rabbit hole!) Some even say that when “price goes up, freedom goes up”. Though that is assuming that the person still hodls their bitcoin despite market crashes and in their own self-custodial wallet. Freedom here refers to freedom from harmful state monetary practices, and freedom to spend your bitcoin the way you want.

After I finished my thesis, I shared it with a human rights activist Alex Gladstein in a cold email.[1] After he posted my thesis on Twitter/X, it quickly spread, capturing the interest of a vast audience.

That was a pivotal point in my life.

Since its publication, the thesis has been downloaded hundreds of times. This does not take into account how many times the thesis was shared, accessed, seen and read without downloading. Even my university checked my social media profile. An opinion piece on Forbes (albeit with a skewed narrative) was also written.

the making of the thesis ft. Lorna Shore

Subsequently I was interviewed by two people. One gave me an opportunity to build a career at Alrecon starting as a business and operations manager. The other motivated me to keep on researching and writing articles and eventually a doctoral thesis on bitcoin and human rights. I was definitely keen to write a doctorate after my graduation but I wasn’t sure about the available data as well as the specific topics and overarching theme. After the interview I was more confident and determined that I could write a doctorate. For now I am still taking notes, reading books and theory, and thinking of simpler articles to write.

Friends often ask me what am I doing at the startup exactly?

I always give a different answer, trying to understand how my friends would understand me the best. Partly because I am curious what kind of responses they make. Bitcoin and crypto are difficult to understand by themselves, and when I say that I work at a crypto startup, that is, well, cryptic.

Sometimes I say I work in ‘finance’ just to avoid the topic. Honestly, I hate to say that because that undermines the ethos of bitcoin, mistaking me as some sleazy Wall Street investor. I’m not sure “crypto bro” is any better either. Then again, working at a crypto startup that builds a custodial wallet and an exchange does not exactly support the bitcoin ethos either.

my friend told me i look like a “an alcoholic coming from his 9-5 job trying to get the courage to go back to his family”

Every time I say I work with ‘cryptocurrencies’, I giggle inside, expecting that the person is going to shout the whole field as a scam only because they don’t or don’t want to understand the specific nuances, philosophy and origins behind crypto.

For my thesis, I researched through the humanitarian lens, taking into account the benefits for the individual and society at large. I wrote about bitcoin’s use for funding nonviolent campaigns, but also mentioned other organisations—Anti-Corruption Foundation and Wikileaks—who had their finances cut off by the state.

In contrast, in my everyday work I am researching and developing from a money laundering and terrorist financing standpoint, considering risks and costs associated with the business. Essentially, everyone is considered a threat with a risk score. (Similar to the Realist theory in international relations, states maintain a cautious approach towards each other, constantly aware of potential shifts in power and alliances.) I have had days where I have been genuinely frustrated and even angry about the current developments and where the industry is heading. More on that later.

“crypto bro” in his natural habitat

Right now I am making beautiful flowcharts and documentation on how the business ought to work within applicable national law and EU regulation.

For example, the new Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCAR) in the EU will regulate all crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) to provide detailed information on their operations in a more structured manner. Then there is the Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR) that will require CASPs to collect and share information about individuals who send and receive crypto funds through their services.

The Finnish government is now starting to implement these changes. They inquired information and interviewed me—or rather Alrecon—about MiCAR and TFR. Actually they asked all Finnish CASPs, twelve of them, for their opinions.[2]

Table 1. List of 12 CASPs in Finland in 2023

Index CASP Website Business Type Licence
1 Alrecon Oy NA Custody Custody
2 Blocktech Oy NA NA Both
3 Coinmotion Oy Exchange, Custody Both
4 Oy NFT Exchange
5 Kvarn Capital Oy Investment Both
6 Localbitcoins Oy P2P trading Both
7 Membrane Finance Oy Stablecoin; EUROe E-money institution
8 NordXE Oy NFT Both
9 Northcrypto Oy Exchange, Custody Both
10 NV Exchange Ab NA NA Both
11 QB Finland Oy Exchange Both
12 Tesseract Group Oy Borrowing/Lending Both

Note. Check licences here:

2. my perspective on where things are going

I like MiCAR in the general sense: CASPs can now advertise and provide their services across the EU; CASPs should become more transparent and better structured; and CASPs will have clear responsibilities and duties. In other words, it will be safer to buy and sell crypto and there should theoretically be safeguards against customer fund misuse.

However, I strongly disagree with their requirement for CASPs to provide information on the environmental impact of each crypto they want to list in their services. The whole environmental topic around bitcoin has gained so much negativity over the years in the media that anyone caring for the climate—at this point almost everyone—is dissuaded from even understanding bitcoin any further.

Myths often persist in society longer than the reality they are based on, which can change over time. Despite people strongly believing in these long-standing myths, reality continues to evolve. However, we don't always recognise or adapt to these changes in reality promptly or effectively.

I wrote to the European Securities and Market Authority about the requirements to disclose energy uses of crypto-assets, which may consequently stigmatise bitcoin. I don’t think they understand how bitcoin mining works. Nor do I but there are intelligent people who do.[3]

In short, prior models that calculated the environmental impact of bitcoin are now outdated. Myth still persists. However, I am glad that the bitcoin community is taking a stance. I remember from psychology studies that to persuade the majority, the minority (bitcoin community) has to patiently and regularly convey factual information to change the majority’s perception.

There are many misconceptions about bitcoin's energy use. Let me tell you one. The belief that bitcoin primarily uses fossil fuels was true until the post-May 2021 mining ban in China, but the migration of mining activities has led to a significant shift towards sustainable energy sources. Note that mining equipment do not in itself produce greenhouse emissions. Heat is not a greenhouse emission. As such, greenhouse emissions depend on where the electricity is produced: using renewable power sources or oil and coal. Focusing on electricity consumption is a distraction.

Moreover, note that this doesn't take account the multitude of ways that bitcoin mining makes contributions to the climate. For example, bitcoin mining can support renewable energy development[5] and capture landfill methane to to power its operations.

Then there is the TFR. I am wholeheartedly disgusted by the organisation behind TFR—the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Their proposal is an attempt to make barriers for the use of crypto. No more borderless transactions. The Global North wants crypto under control for the new-generation crypto corporates. Bitcoin and crypto was supposed to foster financial inclusion, and now the Global North wants to make it a controlled environment, similar to the contemporary financial institutions. This is called path dependence: the future development of an economic system is affected by the path it has traced out in the past.

Moreover, being your own bank, that is, having your crypto self-custodial wallet is deemed dangerous in the name of money laundering and terrorism. Just like cash—crypto being the digital equivalent—you might not be able to withdraw your crypto to your own wallet in large increments. Private crypto and privacy tools will be deplatformed, banned, and forgotten.

This outlook is summarised by the FATF's stance on self-hosted wallets and decentralised finance.[6,7]

In their view, the concept of people controlling their own money through “unhosted” wallets and peer-to-peer transactions represents a significant risk to the established order. The term 'unhosted' itself implies that only a hosted scenario is acceptable, subtly saying that self-hosting is a illegitimate. The FATF magnifies concerns about money laundering and terrorist financing to rationalise stringent control measures.

In this envisioned world, every individual financial transaction is subject to intense surveillance and control, as financial autonomy is synonymous with criminal intent. The idea of privacy in financial dealings is demonised, and the very notion of self-hosted wallets, which enable individuals to transact directly without intermediaries, is depicted as a gate to unlawful activities. The fact that these transactions elude the traditional scope of AML/CFT standards fuels a narrative of fear and suspicion.

The push to impose additional AML/CFT requirements on CASPs for transactions involving self-hosted wallets is seen as an essential measure to combat this perceived threat. This shift signifies a move from individual ownership to corporate control of finances, executed under the pretence of shielding society from the dangers of unregulated financial activities.

The ultimate goal of this dystopia is a society where every financial action is monitored, controlled, and regulated, leaving no room for personal freedom or privacy in financial matters.

Now, let's delve into a plausible, yet scary story:

Imagine using bitcoin or any crypto for regular transactions – with friends, local businesses, and for online purchases. For each transaction to a friend who uses a different crypto provider, you're required to disclose the identity of the recipient.

The story takes a darker turn when you learn about peaceful protests in a distant country, marred by violence and oppression. You feel a deep sense of solidarity and outrage against the injustice. The most influential groups in these protests have been labelled as high-risk for terrorism by powerful nations and sanctioned. These groups, desperate and trapped, are on the brink of genocide, facing aggression from a neighbouring state funded by the very powers that have sanctioned them.

The people in this besieged country, with limited access to global financial platforms and barely any internet connectivity, rely on mobile wallets for transactions. Moved by their plight, you decide to withdraw bitcoin to your self-hosted wallet, an act akin to an ATM cash withdrawal in the bygone world. This action, however, requires you to justify to the new-age banks why you're withdrawing your funds and their intended destination. The transaction is deemed risky by all platforms, with withdrawal limits imposed based on each platform's policy, ranging from a few hundred to a thousand euros.

To execute this withdrawal, you have to verify ownership of your bitcoin address with a digital signature, irrevocably linking your identity to the address. This allows authorities to trace your money flow. To maintain a semblance of privacy, you use mixers and other tools to obscure the transaction history of your bitcoin. Consequently, you're immediately suspected of money laundering or terrorism, and any attempt to send back those funds back to your custody provider is met with scrutiny and potential seizure.

Your intention was merely to help a friend's family facing genocide, starvation, and gross injustice.

However, the system effectively blocks your humanitarian efforts unless they go through centralised, corporate entities.

In a society where digital finances are constantly under surveillance and control, participating in a disapproved protest, supporting a controversial political cause, or transacting with certain individuals could lead to your digital funds being frozen, seized, or completely taken away. The control over money lies not with individuals but with corporations, banks, and governments, often indistinguishably intertwined in their interests and operations.

There may be no problem now, but the equilibrium from democratic governance can quickly shift to a totalitarian surveillance state. Prior to this, if we had given them the power to monitor and control our transactions, those consequences can now be detrimental under the new regime.

We are at a crossroads regarding the future of digital money. On one path, digital transactions become dominated by corporations like banks and payment platforms, where every payment, except minor ones, involves a corporate intermediary. This scenario leads to increased corporate control and surveillance over financial transactions, with corporations having the power to enforce their terms and conditions.

Alternatively, we could choose a future where individuals control their digital funds and conduct direct, private transactions without intermediaries. This decentralised approach allows for financial autonomy and privacy, free from corporate oversight.

The decision we make now is crucial. It will shape our financial future, determining whether we move towards a cashless society under corporate dominance or embrace a system where money functions as a global internet protocol, enabling free and private transactions. This choice has significant implications for our freedom, privacy, and financial independence.

All things considered, I still have a rather narrow, incomplete view of the development. I mean that in the sense that I haven’t taken part in bitcoin conferences, I am not a cypherpunk, I haven’t worked on a decentralised projects, I don't know how the lightning network works and how it is going to be adopted given its in-built privacy features, I don't understand decentralised finance, and I don’t know how the Global South is adopting and educating bitcoin and crypto. I am sure there are lots of progress being made toward self-custodial solutions and other advancements for financial sovereignty.

When we reach the most banal corporation-controlled “walled garden” then at least we have bitcoin as sound money—apologies—an asset. Because bitcoin is no longer cryptocurrency or virtual currency or money, but an asset.[8] This is yet another way by to plant the seed in the public consciousness of how bitcoin is not a medium of exchange, but an asset. Luckily, bitcoin ETFs are here but at what cost?[9]

3. further reading

[1]. I remember years ago when I learned about the concept of “cold email” from Sriram Krishnan, How to write a cold email

[2]. Finnish Government. Lausuntopyyntö luonnoksesta hallituksen esitykseksi EU:n kryptovara-asetuksen ja maksun tiedot -asetuksen täytäntöönpanosta.

[3]. Daniel Batten.,,





[8]. Even Michael Saylor does not want to call bitcoin a currency but an asset.


If your interest in crypto is “number go up,” this is good. If your interest in crypto is “this is the financial system of the future and will increasingly be adopted by big institutions and ordinary people,” this is a mixed bag: On the one hand, there is a lot of optimism about ETF approval driving retail and institutional adoption; on the other hand, “everyone owns Bitcoin through a BlackRock ETF in their Fidelity brokerage account” is not quite proof that crypto is the financial system of the future. If your interest in crypto is “crypto keeps coming up with fun new ways to do finance,” though, this is pretty boring. Crypto’s fun new way to do finance is to put Bitcoin in a box and sell you shares of the box; the goal is to transmute Bitcoin — this decentralized disintermediated trustless novel form of money that was meant to replace the banks and brokerages — into regular stocks.


In the quiet of my room, far from the tumultuous events unfolding in Gaza, I find myself reflecting on the feeling of powerlessness.

My two friends, who I met in a peace program, often share stories and updates about Gaza on social media. Initially, I was glued to these updates. And not just to what my two friends were posting; I was scrolling through a bunch of different posts from all sorts of people talking about Gaza.

Each morning, I'd wake up to the latest reels and news, watching as the death toll climbed—it was “only” 7000 then. But with each passing day, my life, already filled with spiky anxiety, became increasingly suffused with sorrow and dread. I couldn't escape the heartbreaking images of what was happening over there. It was just too much. So, to give my mind a break, I switched to watching funny cat and dog videos, scrolling through Star Wars memes, and relationship therapy content.

This led me to my first realisation: the importance of self-education and spreading awareness within our social circles, which is the first step towards fostering understanding and empathy. Many of my friends were oblivious to the crisis, not having the exposure to such content in their feeds.

Here in Turku, as in many other places around the world, one can feel insignificant in the face of such a massive crisis. You might wonder,

What can I do to make a difference?

One effective way to contribute is by participating in public protests and demonstrations.

I remember stumbling upon a street booth selling cinnamon buns for a small donation. This encounter led me to learn about a local protest. Although I missed that particular event, I made it a point to join a subsequent one. It was my first protest, and I approached it with an open, unbiased mind, as befits a peace student.

The experience was transformative. The act of protesting, of being part of a collective voice, instilled a sense of empowerment amidst feelings of helplessness. The unity and shared emotions were palpable, and even the scorn of a passerby who dismissed our efforts couldn't diminish the solidarity we felt.

Another impactful action is to boycott products that have ties with Israel, such as Coca Cola, McDonald's, and Starbucks.

Why? Consider the case of South Africa's Apartheid; boycotts played a significant role in its downfall. While the effectiveness of such actions might be debated, they certainly empower us to make a stand. It’s about making choices that align with your values. Moreover, we live in a capitalist society where alternatives are plentiful. It doesn’t hurt to switch products.

The journey of fighting against injustices, like the one in Gaza, is filled with moments of helplessness. But by educating ourselves, spreading awareness, participating in protests, and making conscious consumer choices, we can each play a part. It's about harnessing our collective power to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.

I won't paint this blog post's ending with a rosy picture. The road to change is long and often thankless. We might not see the results of our efforts today, or even tomorrow. But, it's about doing something, anything, instead of just watching. Whether it's educating others, hitting the streets, or choosing where to spend our money, each action chips away at the larger problem. So, here's to doing what we can, in our own small ways, to demand and drive change. Sometimes, that's all we've got, and often, it's enough.


This blog post is a response to ESMA's second consultation paper.

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has put forth a set of proposed regulations, referred to as the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA), targeting the environmental impacts of crypto-assets, among other targets.

The essence of ESMA's concern lies in the consensus mechanisms utilised for validating transactions in crypto-assets, which, according to their assessment, might have significant adverse impacts on climate and other environmental factors. These concerns are legitimate in the larger context of global push towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

This proposal casts a wide net, targeting all crypto-assets, regardless of their consensus mechanism. However, it's worth noting that Proof of Work (PoW) mechanisms, like that used by Bitcoin, are particularly energy-intensive.


In my view, this paints a rather myopic picture. Of the myriad of crypto-assets available, only Bitcoin consumes energy at a scale that dwarfs the rest. Making it mandatory for issuers and crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) to report on all crypto-asset’s environmental footprint is counterproductive because Bitcoin is the only one that consumes energy that is worth examining.

Then, it seems, that when we take Bitcoin out and we are left with insignificant PoW crypto-assets aiming to be the “next Bitcoin”, which are waning out (in terms of btc valuation), and other crypto-assets with different consensus mechanisms. As such, CASPs (e.g. exchanges) and issuers face excessive administrative burden that ESMA says they want to avoid.

As an environmentally-conscious individual, I find myself conflicted. On one hand, I appreciate the merits of environmental conservation. For example, I actively volunteer to promote a more sustainable lifestyle. As such, the idea of a sustainable label for a crypto-asset resonates with me.

On the other hand, the overarching theme of ESMA's proposal is going to inadvertently stigmatise Bitcoin.

It is an undeniable fact that Bitcoin's energy consumption is colossal, at times equating to the energy usage of entire countries.

While Bitcoin's PoW is energy-intensive, other crypto-assets leverage different, less power-hungry consensus mechanisms such as Proof of Stake. And PoW coins, outside of Bitcoin, aren't consuming energy at an alarming rate, and their appeal is waning.

And herein lies the crux: When Bitcoin is singled out by this proposal, its advantages are overshadowed by the “environmental cost” narrative. This makes this more than just a technical debate; it's shaping social opinions.

The stigma is already working: Many of my friends dismiss Bitcoin without delving deeper into its essence and potential. I wonder how much more damage can be done with this newly proposed regulation. I must admit: It is quite a sly strategy to let the issuers and CASPs label Bitcoin as an “environment killer”.

On a related note, perhaps the European Banking Authority should make it mandatory for banks to start reporting how much funding of military-industrial complex and environmental and socio-political oppression and destruction the current paradigm of endless money printing has created?

As someone who values environmental conservation, the intention behind ESMA's MiCA regulation resonates with me. However, the proposed approach appears to be somewhat skewed, potentially leading to stigmatisation of Bitcoin.


Here are some of my suggestions in order of importance:

1. comprehensive energy consumption analysis of crypto-assets

Before implementing any requirements for CASPs to disclose energy costs, it's crucial to conduct thorough research on the energy usage trends of different PoW crypto-assets by the CASPs, issuers and/or independent research groups.

Indeed, this is ESMA’s goal: They want the issuers and CASPs—de facto responsible parties within the field—to analyse this. Makes sense.

Then, in general, this analysis aims to determine whether the energy consumption of these assets is increasing or decreasing. Understanding these trends is essential to evaluate the overall impact of PoW mechanisms in the distributed ledger technology sector. This approach will provide a clearer picture of whether Bitcoin will be the sole significant energy consumer among crypto-assets in the future, or if other crypto-assets also might contribute substantially to energy usage.

Then, I see two scenarios.

In the first scenario, if Bitcoin is trending to be the primary energy consumer, then ESMA's strategy may need re-evaluation to avoid inadvertently stigmatising Bitcoin.

Personally, I can't see why this wouldn't be the case. For the foreseeable future, Bitcoin is going to be the largest energy consumer. Then, what is the point in casting a wide net affecting all crypto-assets if Bitcoin is the only crypto-asset that consumes energy dwarfing the rest? The only reason I can conjure is the fact that ESMA can't make CASPs to report on only Bitcoin's environmental footprint without making it seem an obvious case of discrimination.

In the second scenario, if a significant number of crypto-assets utilising non-PoW consensus mechanisms are deemed to contribute to rising energy costs, then the focus should also include assessing the relevance of disclosing energy costs for those mechanisms, while considering their generally lower environmental footprint.

But are non-PoW energy costs significant enough in the first place to warrant CASPs to display an “energy label”?

2. differential reporting requirements

ESMA should recognise the significant variation in energy consumption among crypto-assets. ESMA should set thresholds based on market cap and some type of usage metric, so that only assets that break specific adoption levels need to report in detail. This way, issuers with smaller crypto-assets aren't burdened with unnecessary reporting requirements.

3. educate the public

Launch educational campaigns explaining the complexities of energy consumption in the crypto-asset field. By doing so, ESMA can help prevent the public from developing a one-sided perspective that disproportionately criticises Bitcoin.

4. incentivize greener mining

Instead of just focusing on disclosure requirements, provide incentives for crypto mining operations that transition to greener energy sources. This could be financial incentives that are known to work under such similar contexts and conditions.

A long time ago in a neighbourhood far, far away, between playing war games with carved wooden guns and printing a 10-page manifesto for my parents explaining why airsoft is safe to play, the idea of shooting guns and the concept of 'military service' started early on. I wanted to be a high-ranking officer and “level up” as in the war games. I would be at least a second lieutenant! (The highest rank attainable during military service as land trooper.)

Perhaps you have heard the jaded mantra that “the army makes men out of boys”. About a third of boys in Finland don't go to the army, and they can't be men? This is what I thought when I was young. Army is a rite of passage to manhood.

I didn't really know much about the true nature of military service. Only that there's strict discipline and a lot of shouting. My only sources of information were movies and my own imagination.

a lego rubberband-gun I made at 14-years-old

While in high school, I received a military service notice and followed to the specified location. I sat in a large hall where army propaganda videos played in a continuous loop with fanfare music. Seated beside me was a boy who appeared to be grappling with compulsive behaviours, and I couldn't help but sympathise with him, knowing he'd miss out on what I anticipated to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

At that point, I was already convinced that military service was going to be the best time of my life, even though I remained relatively uninformed about it. I even contemplated volunteering for it if it wasn't mandatory.

Now, my family isn't militaristic. Dad had fields to harvest, and to him, military service was more of an interruption than a duty. Interestingly, despite no familial push, I was drawn to the idea of serving. My family has always been supportive of whatever choice I have made. But why didn’t I choose civil service? Was it society that shaped my sentiments then? (I thought civil service was for noobs.)

People believe that Finland, due to its location and history, has had no other strategic choices but to rely on military service. Although, to be fair, this is exactly what the rest of the world thinks about themselves, too.

Moreover, military service is what boys have always done and will always do, not only in Finland, but throughout history all around the world. We are not special even if we share a long border with Russia.

So this is the reality we accept as it is the only reality we have ever witnessed.

The thing is, even if we accept that Finland needs mandatory military service because of its small population, it doesn't make military service morally right.

You could say that morals have nothing to do when the Other attacking you does not care about morals or human rights, dignity and life. But for the very least, if we keep an army, then do it right: create a professional army who can get paid to do it. And start researching about the possibility of an unarmed civilian-based defence, employing non-violent strategies, tactics, and tools against the Other in a conflict situation.

For now, in its current state, military service fundamentally takes away the person’s right to their life. Finland, a supposedly humanitarian society, compelled me to obey the rules and perform military service.

Governments use different ways to get young men to join the military, either by forcing them and threatening consequences or, like in modern Finland, where societal norms make young men willingly join without much thought.

This was true for me too.

happy Ville

I joined the army when I was 19 and spent nine months in service. Oh, and Finland does not have an army per se as it has been euphemistically labelled as the “Finnish Defence Forces”. We are too polite to call it an army.

I shot people. (I took photographs.) I was really lucky with that position. I could “disobey much of the rules” without anyone caring too much.

For example, morning breakfast was mandatory for all and I never went there. Though, one time, around ten o’clock in the morning, my captain woke me up. I overslept. All of my roommates had already left to do their daily duty. (Bastards left me.) She gave me a two-day penalty for this.

I went to the office to sleep it off.

But on the whole I was super lucky. I had loads of time to self-reflect, plan for the future, read books and do creative things on my office computer. I didn’t have to stand under the cold and rain; to walk kilometres around the barracks or march long distances; or to do military exercises in some distant northern forest in the winter. None of my days were hard.

Yet I was blind to the problems of military service at the time.

Men are getting the short end of the stick with mandatory military duties. Why isn't everyone, regardless of gender, starting service on the same terms?

If, say, women were forced to work unpaid in nursing homes under the threat of jail, just because of their gender, surely at least one politician would raise an eyebrow. Inventing mandatory military service for men today would not last daylight.

Moreover, why is there no talk of better allowances or pension benefits for our conscripts? And don't get me started on the extreme penalties for those refusing any mandatory service altogether. Finland stands alone in Europe, locking up youngsters just because of their gender. How's that for welfare state equality?

Perhaps the best thing that happened to me during the military was befriending an amazing woman and mother, who is still one of my best friends. You could say that the otherwise hypermasculine army experience was more feminine thanks to her. From her I learned much more than from the army.

These challenges echo the deep-seated problems embedded within the military's structure. Yet, the real issue is the foundation of the organization itself! Rather than nurturing an entity devoted to mastering the art of warfare, our focus should shift toward perfecting and embracing non-violent alternatives.

My perspective started to shift only when I delved into peace studies six years after the service. The black and white clarity I had about military service began to grey. I no longer cherished my army memories the same, and my Stockholm Syndrome with the army started to fade away.

The oft-quoted “If you want peace, prepare for war” no longer resonated in me. I started to question:

Can you truly achieve conflict resolution through war, killing neighbours?

It didn’t make logical sense to study peace and stay enlisted at the same time. Therefore, I decided to de-enlist myself from the army reserve. Mind you, this was all before the Russian invasion, so I didn’t act on the fear of war.

my hair started to grow after peace studies

After the peace studies I transferred from the army reserve to civil reserve (“siviilivaranto”) by participating in a five-day supplemental training (“täydennyskoulutus”). It was a five-day resort where I listened to university-level lecturers on non-violence, human rights, and critical thinking. Essentially the same things I learned in the beginning of peace studies. They even paid me 60 euros a day.

As I walked to the civil service centre for the first time, I was asked to sign my transfer. In that moment, I felt conviction but also trepidation, an impulse in my body. I felt traitorous to my country when I signed the final signature. That well may have been the conditioning I received from the army and society on the whole.

I asked others why they were doing it. Many questioned the military-industrial complex, killing of people, and most of the people had children and families. Their values and convictions shifted.

enjoying coffee at the civil service center

My mom, who experienced childhood under Soviet Russia, questioned me afterwards, in a rhetorical manner: Who is going to defend Finland now against Russia?

Was I a wimp without “Sisu”?

Our cultural identity is tied up with stories of grit, the concept of “Sisu”. For example, the famed notion of 'ten Russians for one Finn' emerged not merely as a numerical expression, but as a symbolic testament to undeterred resolve against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now there is also an action movie named Sisu that tells story of a Finnish man against Nazis in the north. The movie was well-made and the ending was funny. I have to give them that.

But there are also less known heroes with Sisu that Finland never told about in its history books. For example, Arndt Pekurinen, who we can thank paving the way for non-violent alternatives for military service.

He refused to serve, and time and time again he was jailed for this. In the end, despite sharing the values of a Finnish man, he was executed without trial for his beliefs by the army during the Continuation War. At first, two soldiers refused to execute him, until the third obeyed the order.

Our history books, educational institutions, families, media, peers, and governing bodies have remained silent about the transformative power of non-violence. In places like China, the truth of events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests is buried, censored from the public consciousness, in a deliberate effort to conceal any indication that their authoritarian grip could be challenged, even undone, by peaceful resistance.

tank man

Stories of non-violent conflicts must be told because they empower all of us and not just men to take part in possible conflict situations.

In 1940, at the brink of World War II, Denmark anticipated that the Nazis would soon occupy their lands. To minimise casualties, the Danish King was forced to submit, despite their declared neutrality. Although the Nazis conquered Denmark, the Danish did not surrender.

The Danes rallied, and created a robust resistance movement characterised by diverse non-violent strategies—from public demonstrations of Danish culture and unity, the formation of an underground press, to a remarkable show of public defiance in the 1943 elections.

This solidarity extended to daring acts of sabotage, strikes, and the collective effort to save Jewish Danes from Nazi persecution, even under the threat of severe German reprisals. The Danish people's commitment to non-violent resistance significantly hampered German objectives and, most crucially, preserved human lives, demonstrating the power of unified, peaceful opposition in the face of violent oppression[1].

I never heard about non-violence until the peace studies. Most of the people in täydennyskoulutus were flabbergasted as well and something seemed to click their heads. Especially regarding the comparison between violence and non-violence with the former having so many strategies, tactics, and tools in disposal that make the latter seem inadequate in comparison.

At the moment, no nation has cultivated non-violent strategies and tactics in a large, systematic scale similar to armies. Reflect on the legions of soldiers that nations have trained and conditioned for war for decades and centuries. Then, it's no mystery why armies seem to “function”. Non-violence has never been employed on a national level as there have never been any research programs by any nation-state.

My friends often pose a daunting question: How do we stand against something as monstrous as a genocidal, propaganda-fueled, military-industrial behemoth, akin to the Nazis? The path remains shrouded in uncertainty. Yet, the absence of answers should not be a deterrent, but rather a call for exploration and inquiry.

Alas when there is no political will to allocate resources, skills and knowledge on non-violent action programs on a national level, then no wonder non-violent methods are seen as inadequate by our leaders.

Common misconception is that non-violence works merely under specific circumstances. But isn’t the same true for war and killing, too? It doesn’t always work. As warriors often proclaim, “We may have lost the battle, but not the war”. The same holds equally true to non-violent conflicts.

In essence, non-violence is the idea that taking action without causing harm or resorting to violence, which is not only a morally sound choice but also often more effective than violence. Non-violent action involves using strategies like peaceful protests, social movements, or economic pressure to bring about change, all without resorting to violence or the threat of violence. There are at least 198 ways one can non-violently act against oppression.

Between 1900 and 2006, this approach has been successful in various political settings, including democracies, authoritarian regimes, and totalitarian systems, countering repression more than half the time. In contrast, violent resistance tends to be way less successful.

However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of non-violent resistance has somewhat decreased in recent years due to increased state awareness and repression tactics. Still, non-violent action remains a powerful tool for challenging oppression, even though it typically triggers a strong responses from the aggressor.[2]

I blame Machiavellian literature that has given rise perspectives that emphasise force over ethics, justifying ends at any cost, and assuming that war is always behind the door. Unfortunately, these perspectives are rooted in the minds of those who decide the fate of our lives in governments and military organisations. These same notions are taught to students learning politics.

They see power as something like military strength, wealth, population, and territorial size. However, there's another view, a more feminist approach to power. Feminists concentrate on individual empowerment and non-violent resistance, especially regarding the question of obedience and cooperation.

We conform and collaborate often out of ingrained routines, dread of repercussions, the allure of financial incentives, a desire for acceptance, the weight of societal expectations, and the influence of those around us.

As Banksy said

The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It's people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages.

When we dare to defy, we strip invading forces of their illusion of control. Imagine soldiers, marching through foreign streets, met not with aggressors, but with an unyielding human spirit, a populace unafraid and unthreatening, standing firm in their dignity. These soldiers find unable to justify violence against those who pose no harm. And when these invaders seek to impose their will, they encounter a people united in fearless resistance, meeting demands with steadfast denial.

This is the profound strength of non-violence and defiance: a power so raw and human that it can penetrate the military psyche, inspiring soldiers to question, to hesitate, and perhaps to disobey. It is here, in this extraordinary moment, that the rigid hierarchy of military command, built on unflinching obedience, begins to crumble.

This defiance ignites a powerful ripple effect, a feedback loop of courage and transformation, unraveling the very fabric of oppressive control. Each act of peaceful rebellion echoes through the ranks, undermining the false authority of conquest, and reawakening the heart's allegiance to humanity.

All of this requires tremendous amount of courage, bravery, and fearlessness. In Finnish words, Sisu. It is not easy. But neither is war.

I miss the idea of it, but not the truth.

Participating in military service is more than just a uniform—it's subscribing to a doctrine that shadows one's soul, moulding individuals into emissaries of conflict, rather than ambassadors for peace. It is a silent oath taken to uphold hypermasculine ideologies, and a tacit surrender to a narrative that champions brutality over empathy, aggression over dialogue, and destruction over creation.

When you enlist, you weave your identity into a tapestry streaked with the tragedies of historical conquests and the illusion of valor in violence. You become a cog in a gargantuan machine that thrives on conflict, a pawn moved by the invisible hands of the military-industrial complex, which feeds insatiably on obedience and compliance.

And beyond that, you're endorsing a system antithetical to the very resilience and courage—true Sisu—that lives in facing adversity without resorting to violence, in embracing the arduous path of sustained peace that demands much more bravery than the quick action of war.

By becoming a soldier, you're not just sacrificing your time or your safety; you're compromising your humanity, allowing the softer aspects of your soul—compassion, kindness, and love—to wither in the desolation left by war's touch. It's not simply about who you are in the moment of service; it's about who you become in the relentless pursuit of a peace that was never meant to be achieved through the barrel of a gun.

I am a single person, and I cannot end violence and wars, but with these words, I etch into time a testament of dissent against a narrative I no longer accept: I can write a blog post about it.

[1] A Force More Powerful [2] Check Maria Stephan's and Erica Chenoweth's Why Civil Resistance Works and International Center on Nonviolent Conflict's articles.

The first of the three panels

My friend recommended to me the Baltic Sea Region Forum where they discussed the security and safety of the Baltic sea, especially in the context of escalating tensions due to Russia invading Ukraine and Finland joining the military alliance NATO[1].

What follows are my thoughts and observations, focusing more on the underlying frameworks that shape the discussions, rather than the content itself.

I followed two – ostensibly British – suits into the university building. I found myself feeling somewhat out of place, wearing casual attire amid a sea of suits. My long, curly hair swirled on my back and shoulders like a surfer. An uncomfortable sensation of impostor syndrome tugged at my consciousness.

As I collected my glossy name tag, it struck me that I was a stranger in a room full of familiar faces. Determined to change this, I made eye contact with a middle-aged man and took a leap of faith. We conversed casually about our backgrounds and goals. The German silver fox had tired eyes, though after a few litres of black tea he was buzzing.

This was my first conference that I had attended in any topic. I observed the former military officer in wolves clothes beside me follow cryptocurrency charts and another panellist scrolling through memes while answering emails. I had to suppress a smile. The click-clack of keyboards echoed across the room, reminding me of my bachelor studies.

They were all men

Entering the conference hall, I was greeted by the sight of nearly two hundred individuals, predominantly middle-aged grey men close to having pension. The striking scarcity of women and youth was clear. I believe I was the youngest person in the room, and apparently also one of the handsomest people in the room (by two accounts).

This made me think of gender questions: What are the consequences of lack of women in decision-making positions, especially as it relates to war? How does masculinity override the more feminine ways of thinking?

During the second panel discussion, Kaja Tael, the Ambassador-at-Large for Climate and Energy Policy, astutely remarked:

Happy to be the only lady on the panel … Is it mentality or is it mindset?

The room erupted in laughter. The humour of the moment belied the uncomfortable reality it addressed. I thought it was awkward.

It began with anger

The panel was introduced by Kari Liuhto, Minna Arve, and Markus Granlund, painting the onset of the event with their speeches. I forgot the two speeches, however the speech by the Mayor of Turku, Arve, was memorable. Her piercing gaze and articulate words filled the room with sadness, determination, and pride, albeit tainted by undertones of polarisation and violence, especially as she cited:

If you want peace, prepare for war.

The narrative of the conference seemed disproportionately tilted towards war, seldom touching the topic of peace. This disconcerting reality left me feeling uneasy.

Obviously she (and many others, Ukrainians and Russians alike) are justified and in their right to feel and express strong emotions such as anger, but the question is how is that emotion translated into behaviour. How do we react?

As Aristotle said:

Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.

Then, is it wise to advocate for more military action in the Baltic Sea region?

Words such as threat, risk, kill, climate change, deterrence, defence, aggressive, foe, Iran, Russian, China, U.S., democracy, dictator, Cold War, military bases, control, interference, missiles, tracking, weak, fear, escalation, mindset, territory, invade, weaponising, and war were mentioned throughout the conference.

Afterwards Mikhail Shishkin, the Russian dissident and author of On My Russia: War or Peace? gave a speech, concluded by an eerie murmur:

Slava Ukraini.

A sense of sorrow entered the room that was underpinned by a collective determination.

They shared notions of Realism

Artis Pabriks, the former Minister of Defence of Latvia, delivered an extensive and impressive keynote. His primary message was clear:

If we can’t change the Russian elite, then we need to change ourselves.

Indeed, assuming there is a relationship between Russia and ‘the Other’, then changing oneself changes the relationship, and by extension, who Russia is and what it can do in that relationship. This much is clear.

Pabriks proposed that 'the West' has failed to invest adequately in arms. As a political realist, he suggested an increased military response, asserting:

All of the West is in the War, and therefore we should act like it.

Structural realism, which is a theory in international relations, assumes that military power is all that matters in the context of an anarchical world. This situation is what we call 'anarchy', but it's not chaos; it simply means there's no overarching power to enforce rules. Because of this, each country has to act in ways to ensure their survival and increase their power.

How to increase and measure that power is what structural realism argues and what most of the attendees in the event seemed to agree upon: more military expenditure, more ammunition factories, more weapons, etc.

He raised his voice saying that

For the Kremlin, “doing nothing” is escalation.

And he continues

One does not learn from victories, but from defeats. Therefore, Russia must lose. First, Russia must be made incapable of attacking others, and secondly, Russia must lose appetite in attacking.

To illustrate this point, I remembered a 2011 study by Dayu Lin.[2] In a simple mouse experiment, Lin found that victorious mice became more aggressive, while defeated mice became passive. Translating this to real-world scenarios, if Russia consistently triumphs, it might become more aggressive and likely to win again – an escalating cycle Pabriks is keen to prevent. Given this, I agree with Pabriks.

Finally, Pabriks raised the question of whether Russia would ever acknowledge and apologise for its past war crimes, something he noted has never occurred. Having studied memory in the context of peace and transitional justice, Pabriks's speech motivated me to study more about the role of memory and war. Alas for this blog post, I do not have the time to delve deeper.

They all thought the same

The panellists shared knowledge and wisdom. However, it quickly became evident – as my new German friend pointed out to me – that there was little debate and a presence of devil’s advocates.

The danger here is groupthink. Everybody (perceivably) agreed with each other, and as such there was no critical evaluation. When people did not say their real opinions, even though they may think differently, this makes others think that perhaps everybody agrees.

In fact, I asked a question on human rights. Understandably authorities need more powers to do what they do. However, doing so, human rights may be forgotten or violated.

For example, one panellist mentioned cryptocurrencies and North Korean hackers using it to evade sanctions. While such concerns are valid, an overall balanced perspective was missing, leading me to wonder whether our rational-thinking capabilities were overshadowed by fear. It is only human that when one experiences fear, the brain shuts down the rational-thinking capabilities. As such, it would be helpful if the panellists didn't perceive and share everything through the lens of fear.

Afterwards a person reached to me and told me that it could have been detrimental to my career to throw critical, disagreeing questions if I was a decision-maker. This made me think that groupthink is a powerfully ingrained phenomenon in this field.

How can we afford to have this?

The friend who recommended me the conference told me that

Security experts see danger everywhere because their entire careers, industry and salaries are based on creating fear, and if you challenge them then you are either naive or a lefty avocado-eating wokeratti. The biggest threat to their industry is diplomacy and mediation. It’s in their interest to delegitimise diplomacy as a security method to keep their careers existing.

Notwithstanding the validity of this argument, introducing experts from peace studies into the discourse could be beneficial. Peace specialists bring a unique approach, philosophy, and interdisciplinarity. In my view, the Baltic Sea Region Forum would benefit from this broader spectrum of perspectives. Such diversity could enhance dialogues and promote more comprehensive and creative solutions. Including more women could also offer diverse insights, disrupting the typical narratives of war and security usually dominated by men.

[1] Baltic Sea Region Forum 2023 /watch?v=NNkviImXs6Q&ab_channel=CentrumBalticum

[2] Lin, D., Boyle, M., Dollar, P. et al. Functional identification of an aggression locus in the mouse hypothalamus. Nature 470, 221–226 (2011).

Click here to download thesis.


Aim: This study investigates the use of bitcoin by nonviolent resistance campaigns to counter state financial censorship, a topic underrepresented in academic literature.

Method: This study is designed as descriptive basic research with its methodological approach as case studies. The study presents a global dataset of 93 financial censorship events by government authorities from 1981 to 2023, encompassing the first global dataset of nonviolent campaigns that have employed bitcoin. Two nonviolent campaigns that utilised bitcoin are examined in detail: the Feminist Coalition’s EndSARS protest and the Freedom Convoy’s Covid-19 mandate protest. Additionally, the study explores the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice’s use of bitcoin despite not facing financial censorship.

Results: Both the Feminist Coalition and the Freedom Convoy adopted bitcoin immediately following financial censorship events, allowing them to add significant contributions to their funds. Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice experienced limited impact from using bitcoin. The results suggest that bitcoin has supported nonviolent campaigns, particularly in response to financial censorship.

Conclusion: This study shows how (1) nonviolent campaigns have used bitcoin against financial censorship, for private donations, and for alternative means for funding; (2) bitcoin is a nonviolent tool with many features and functions similar to previous nonviolent tools and tactics involving money; (3) bitcoin can be of great interest for human rights activists and NGOs, illustrating how misconceptions regarding its association with illegal activities should be reconsidered. On the contrary, this study illustrates how bitcoin enhances personal autonomy and serves as a form of resistance against financial censorship by enabling borderless, censorship-resistant, and permissionless transactions.

Key words: Bitcoin, Cryptoasset, Financial Censorship, Nonviolent Action, Nonviolence, Feminist Coalition, Freedom Convoy, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, Protest.

1. Introduction

Inspired by Anita Posch’s (2022) essay, Opposing the Corruptible Fiat System, Bitcoin Enforces Universal Human Rights, I argue that compared to the contemporary financial systems and their fiat money, with Bitcoin, one gains greater financial freedom and rights, assuming one is in control of the private keys. As such, Bitcoin, as a piece of open-source technology, promotes and enables human rights better than contemporary fiat money, euros, yens, and such.

Following the framework suggested by Mathiesen (2014), I analyse how Bitcoin and human rights relate to each other. In specific, I look at

  1. what compelling interest does Bitcoin protect for each right,
  2. how does a given right support other rights,
  3. what new opportunities does Bitcoin create for satisfying this right,
  4. what new threats does Bitcoin pose to this right, and
  5. what institutional arrangements might need to be changed or put in place to respect, protect, and fulfil this right in the context of Bitcoin.

Thus, the essay is structured as follows. First, I introduce the basics of human rights and Bitcoin. The introductions cover what human rights are, how Bitcoin works and what are its fundamentally determined characteristics, as marked italicised. Second, I analyse Bitcoin’s potential in promoting one to realise the given human right – 1, 2, 12, 13, 17, 19, and 20 – in comparison to fiat. Third, I sum the analysis section and discuss policy. Finally, I conclude the paper arguing that to the extent where sufficient and necessary conditions apply, Bitcoin currently promotes all the aforementioned human rights except the right to privacy (12).

In specific, if one possesses the private keys, Bitcoin can potentially foster freedom and equality, economic freedom in particular. However, there is a lack of statistical evidence to determine the full extent of Bitcoin's ability to promote economic freedom. Additionally, further investigation is needed to identify the necessary conditions for using Bitcoin effectively to reap its benefits (refer to the 'Bitcoin Empowerment Paradox' in section 2.1). Moreover, Bitcoin can promote freedom from discrimination by providing inclusive access to its network, freedom of expression via censorship-resistant transactions, and the right to possess property through its confiscation-resistance. Furthermore, Bitcoin facilitates people's freedom of movement and assembly, as long as transactions remain technically private.

1.1 Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), or human rights, emerged after the atrocities of the Second World War (United Nations, 1948). As a foundation for protecting human rights and dignity, UDHR has been a milestone in the history of humanity, and has inspired many national and international laws and policies. UDHR describes such human rights as the right to life, liberty, and security of person; the right to education, work, and social security; and the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. It also includes principles such as non-discrimination, equality before the law, and the prohibition of torture and slavery (United Nations, 1948). Importantly, many if not all of the Articles are dependent on one another. For example, freedom of expression cannot be exercised properly without the freedom of movement and association. Inevitably, human rights are things that every person deserves, indeed, just because they are human.

1.2 Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency where transactions occur peer-to-peer, without a bank or other intermediaries (Nakamoto, 2008). Hence Bitcoin transactions are borderless and do not interest nation-state borders and jurisdictions. Over 15 thousand computers worldwide, or nodes, operate on the network, making it decentralised, much like the Internet today (Bitnodes, 2023). Participants in the Bitcoin ecosystem include regular users, miners, Bitcoin services, exchanges, additional protocols such as the Lightning Network, and developers. Anyone can participate in the network without registration, identification, or special permission, and running one's own node can ensure accurate financial information (Rosenbaum, 2019). As such, Bitcoin is open, public, borderless, neutral and censorship-resistant (Antonopolous, 2017).

What follows is an example of what happens when Aino sends one satoshi, the smallest unit of bitcoin, to Antti. First, she initiates a transaction by providing the amount, Antti's bitcoin address (3QzYvaRFY6bakFBW4YBRrzmwzTnfZcaA6E), and a digital signature made with her private key. Private key is analogous to a password. It is a randomly generated string of numbers and letters, though the user typically generates a 12 or 24-word dictionary password that encodes the same information. Losing or forgetting the private key means losing access to bitcoin indefinitely.

Next, her wallet application then sends the transaction to one or more nodes in the Bitcoin network, which verifies its validity by checking if the bitcoin Aino spends exists and if her digital signature is valid. If the transaction passes these checks, the node relays it to its peers in the network, and the transaction travels through the network with each node verifying it.

Following this, the nodes update their local copies of the ledger, commonly known as the blockchain, with Aino's transaction, which records all past and new transactions. To coordinate the transaction order, a miner node broadcasts a message called a block that states the order in which transactions should be added to the ledger. The miner is rewarded with newly mined bitcoin and transaction fees paid by included transactions (Rosenbaum, 2019).

There are many rules that the nodes in the Bitcoin network enforce. As Andreas Antonopolous said, there are “rules without rulers”. For example, of one of the rules is that only 21 million bitcoin will ever be created. This scarcity underpins the value of bitcoin and ensures that bitcoin cannot be endlessly created like fiat money.

Finally, Aino and Antti need a Bitcoin wallet to interact with the network. The wallets manage their private keys used to create digital signatures and generate bitcoin addresses. Aino created her digital signature with one of her private keys, and Antti needs to use his private key to spend the received bitcoins at his bitcoin address. Once the nodes in the network update their ledger copies, Antti's wallet is notified when the transaction is added to the ledger and he has received the one satoshi (Rosenbaum, 2019).

2. Analysis

The analysis is structured as follows. I describe the given human rights article chiefly, and present Posch’s arguments and evidence, and rebutting them where necessary. Finally, I argue why Bitcoin does or does not promote the said human right.

2.1 The Right to Freedom and Equality

Article 1 states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

According to Posch, a) financial illiteracy, b) poverty, c) financial repression (i.e., inflation, monetary colonialism), and d) corruption cause unequal and undignified conditions for people in countries where money does not function. I agree that a) financial illiteracy and b) poverty creates conditions in which people can botch money. Then, she continues, with a laissez-faire approach to economics, that Bitcoin fixes c) inflation and d) corruption. I will now examine those arguments.

Regarding her first assertion, I agree with a linguistic caveat. That is, Bitcoin does not fix inflation that plagues existing monetary systems per se, though it presents an alternative that does not need fixing. This is but a linguistic difference that I wish to make.

Technically, Bitcoin is inflationary but it is swiftly approaching a disinflationary plateau. Whereas bitcoin is scarce, there is an infinite supply of fiat money that government officials can print arbitrarily. As such, bitcoin is free from inflation. However, bitcoin’s fluctuating prices, as determined by market supply and demand, creates a situation where inflation does not affect the price as much as speculation. Nevertheless, countries plagued by high inflation pale in comparison to bitcoin volatility. Although, that volatility can still be too much for people in the emerging economies who are increasingly starting to prefer stablecoins instead of Bitcoin for saving and transacting (Chainalysis, 2022a).

Notwithstanding the upcoming Bitcoin upgrades that make the public ledger less public, I argue that Bitcoin does not “fix” corruption, because it is a complex social and political issue rather than a problem in fiat money per se. Corruptive manifestations in finance include bribery, diversion of public funds, tax fraud, illicit financial flows, money-laundering, insider trading, ponzi schemes, and market manipulation. Most if not all of these have already happened within the Bitcoin economy as well as the broader cryptoasset economy (Chainalysis, 2020b, 2023). Instead, solving corruption requires promoting transparency, accountability, and ethical behaviour in public and private sectors, and enhancing the rule of law.

Assuming one has the ownership of private keys, I argue that Bitcoin enables absolute control of one’s money, promoting economic freedom. Economic freedom is one’s ability to engage in economic activity with minimal interference from the government or other external forces. However, there is no empirical evidence that asserts Bitcoin significantly increases economic freedom for some groups, on average, compared to other groups.

Notwithstanding, one could argue that Bitcoin can in principle promote economic freedom, under sufficient and necessary conditions. People born in low-income, economically repressed, emerging economies would benefit the most from Bitcoin. Albeit, those same people endure electricity blackouts, unreliable internet connectivity, lack of education, technological know-how and mobile devices. Thus, at the same time, they are the most vulnerable group, and the use of Bitcoin could backfire. People can forget or lose private keys, send bitcoin to a wrong address, get scammed, or leave bitcoin in custodial services that get hacked. As such, when certain conditions are sufficient and necessary, people are more likely to benefit from Bitcoin. What those conditions are in specific, I do not know.

However, where conditions are more favourable, Bitcoin may not be desperately needed, for example in Finland where financial systems function properly. This presents a paradox that I call ‘the Bitcoin Empowerment Paradox’: Those who would benefit from and desperately need Bitcoin the most, are also the most vulnerable to using Bitcoin, and thus ones who may not be able to use it; And vice versa, those who do not benefit from and desperately need Bitcoin, are ones who are not vulnerable, and thus can use it. Using an analogy inspired by an article from Bak, Sriyai and Meserve (2018), digital technology (Bitcoin) can serve as a solution to state repression (financial repression and censorship), but only in countries that are either already relatively free or highly integrated into global markets (necessary and sufficient conditions).

2.2 Freedom from Discrimination

Article 2 states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Posch claims that Venezuela setting foreign exchange controls, Zimbabwe limiting online transactions, and Indian government demonetising 500 and 1000-rupee notes constitutes financial oppression.

However, this is not financial oppression but financial repression, as per definition. Notwithstanding the incorrect terminology, these examples of financial repression are not related to Article 2, because financial repression in these examples is not discriminating in nature. Venezuela set foreign exchange controls to all; Zimbabwe imposed transaction limits to everyone; and India demonetised rupee notes, affecting the majority. Thus, it is “just” financial repression. Were it to be differential treatment of status in rights in these examples, it would be related to Article 2.

Still, together with Posch, I argue that Bitcoin’s inclusive access to the network promotes freedom from discrimination. Notwithstanding the irrelevant examples, there are relevant ones. The Anti-Corruption Foundation and Wikileaks were forced to find another method to fund their causes because of differing political opinions; People whose nationality is that of a sanctioned country may face significant barriers in opening a bank account abroad (anecdotal evidence); Undocumented people who cannot access banking; And Posch cites evidence that unequal property rights and bank ownership are biassed in sex, favouring men, especially in the global South (Development Research Group, 2021; World Bank Group 2019).

However, Bitcoin does not solve the underlying complex factors that lead to unequal treatment based on a given status, but it provides an alternative financial system where discrimination does not exist. It can be a step toward equality, especially toward inclusive access for money, but alas one step.

EDIT. 3th May, 2023. Discrimination can also occur at the protocol-level, when one transacts with another. That is, because bitcoin is not private enough, its transactions history can label future users. Then, their transaction can be discriminated based on, usually, political opinion, but also on other status. This is directly linked to the Right to Privacy.

2.3 The Right to Privacy

Article 12 states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy.

Posch argues that the anticipated central bank digital currencies may turn out draconian and Orwellian if privacy is not taken more seriously than it is taken today with the surveillance from information technology corporations – and if I may add – intelligence alliances. Posch argues that while bitcoin is not sufficiently private, bitcoin nonetheless provides more degree of privacy than banks, promoting the right to privacy.

Privacy is important because without privacy, states and corporations can monitor people. This can create homogeneous, obedient, and shallow people. This can hinder or even undo societal advancements. Surveillance creates individuals that have no room for personal discovery or to question societal conventions. Living in constant apprehension leaves no room for true freedom (see Cohen, 2013; Rogaway, 2015).

But I disagree that bitcoin promotes the right to privacy. Currently bitcoin transactions are surveilled by authorities. Indeed, Bitcoin privacy by default is atrocious, undermining bitcoin fungibility. Less fungibility implies less utility because services can deny withdrawals and deposits, and censorship (Back, 2016; Seth, 2021). As such, I argue that Bitcoin does not promote the right to privacy.

However, there are cryptoassets that are better than Bitcoin at promoting the right to privacy. These privacy-oriented cryptoassets, such as Monero and Zcash, offer an option for people to realise their right to privacy. In addition, privacy solutions to Bitcoin are coming, such as the Lightning Network and the Taproot upgrade. This is what Posch mentions as well. This means that Bitcoin's privacy can be better in the future because Bitcoin programmable.

2.4 The Right to Move Freely

Article 13 states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country.

Posch emphasises that while people may be free to move, they are not always free to move their wealth with them. She cites a case of a Ukrainian fleeing the war with bitcoin. Certainly, in such a situation bitcoin may save one’s wealth, and by extension, one’s life. Bitcoin can be a useful tool for preserving wealth when migrating, especially in situations where traditional financial institutions are not available or trustworthy.

However, one case of an individual is not enough evidence to warrant the assertion. What may be asserted without evidence, may be dismissed without evidence (Hitchens's razor). Then again, the right to move freely is interdependent with the right for peaceful assembly, for which Posch and I find evidence that bitcoin can promote (see section 2.7).

2.5 The Right to Own Property

Article 17 states that everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

Posch takes a familial approach, arguing that women can own bitcoin discreetly, reducing the risks of their funds being confiscated by family members. Be that as it may, bitcoin does not amend such gender inequal family conditions. Bitcoin would be a niche solution in such a specific situation.

To my knowledge, there is no empirical evidence that the ownership of bitcoin has protected one from confiscation and property rights violations. Governments can use preventive repression, such as financial censorship and mass surveillance, more easily than reactive repression where government officials go threatening every citizen to turn over their private keys (Dragu & Lupu, 2021). Even in countries where Bitcoin has been banned, there have been no reports of the aforementioned reactive repression.

Still, in principle, without the private key, Bitcoin is harder to confiscate compared to traditional money and assets, promoting property rights. One can remember the 12-word password (private key), write it down on a paper and easily hide it, or use a hardware wallet, which requires a PIN code that cannot be brute-forced.

2.6 Freedom of Expression

Article 19 states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Posch mentions loose examples where funding opposition groups and protests with bitcoin could have been useful. In fact, there are nonviolent campaigns, businesses, and non-profit organisations that have received bitcoin, sometimes when other means of donating have failed (Figure 1). For them, bitcoin has turned out to be useful.

Yet, the important question remains how useful Bitcoin has de facto been to opposition groups and protestors. There is no evidence that bitcoin donations have significantly affected the momentum and survival of opposition groups, such as the La Lucha, Canadian Convoy Protest, and the Hong Kong 2019-2020 protests. Nonetheless, the most prominent and pertinent case is perhaps Wikileaks whom the U.S. silenced in an attempt to block whistleblower documents from being published. As a result, Wikileaks was the first organisation to accept bitcoin in 2011, and since then holds over 4,000 bitcoin.

Together with Posch, I argue that Bitcoin enables censorship-resistant transactions, and the free flow of financial information, promoting freedom of expression financially. Money is a form of speech that expresses value. When financial transactions are censored, it hinders or blocks one’s activities and ultimately silences them. Notably, Bitcoin has been explicitly banned in 9 states and implicitly banned in 42 states (Law Library of Congress, 2021). Because of the bans, states are effectively censoring people’s ability to potentially express themselves with bitcoin.

Figure 1. Nonviolent campaigns/movements, and organisations that have received bitcoin.

Country Advocacy Creation year Nonviolent campaign
Nigeria EndSARS; Feminist Coalition 2020 Yes
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice 2010 Yes
Canada Canadian Convoy Protest 2022 Yes
Congo La Lucha 2011 Yes
Catalonia Catalonia Referendum 2017 Yes
U.S.A. Occupy Wall Street 2011 Yes
U.S.A. Wikileaks 2006 NA
Belarus Belarus Solidarity Foundation 2020 NA
Russia Meduza 2014 NA
Russia Anti-Corruption Foundation 2016 NA
Hong Kong Hong Kong Freedom Press 2015 NA

2.7 The Right to Peaceful Assembly

Article 20 states that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and no one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Posch refers to a Nigerian nonviolent protest named End SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), whose demonstrations were supported by the Feminist Coalition. In 2020, their bank accounts were suddenly closed, and as a result, they started to accept bitcoin donations. Their donations went on to provide food, drinks and other needed support to the demonstrators (Posch, 2020).

Posch argues that freedom of association is closely linked to freedom of speech. That is, if financial surveillance prevents people from expressing their political views while associating with others who share their beliefs, then they are effectively deprived of political power. In addition, to exercise the right to peaceful assembly, one may need to move freely to meet with others in a public place. This could involve travelling from home or workplace to the assembly, such as protest or demonstration. If freedom of movement is restricted by measures like curfews or roadblocks, it can limit individuals from exercising their right to peaceful assembly.

Arguably, bitcoin as a censorship-resistant money can provide basic necessities during a protest, indirectly promoting peaceful assembly. For example, Canada blocked traditional crowdfund methods from funding the Convoy Protest. Consequently, they started to accept bitcoin donations, which Canada then deemed illegal, citing terrorism and money-laundering (Government of Canada, 2022). Finally, money enables access to public transport and ensures accommodation for those who live far from the assembly location or who may have disabilities. For example, for a fear of surveillance, citizens in Hong Kong did not use their metro cards, but instead bought their tickets from cash-only ticketing machines (Hui, 2019).

Both examples also demonstrate why privacy is important as one can be flagged as “aiding terrorists” or “doing money-laundering”, and surveilled for which one spends money. For more information, why privacy is fundamental to human liberties and especially the right to privacy, see Cohen (2013) and Rogaway (2015).

3. Discussion

The internet as a tool is deeply connected to the human rights just as Bitcoin. The internet provides unprecedented opportunities for the realisation of human rights. Just as Bitcoin enables people realise their human rights through financial means.

The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC, 2014) argues that human rights should transcend to the digital realm. Reason being that the internet is becoming increasingly important in our daily lives. Therefore, it is critical that all actors, public and private, respect and protect human rights on the internet. Then, steps must be taken to ensure that the internet operates and evolves in ways that fully respect human rights (see also La Rue and Ehrenkrona 2010, as cited in Ziccardi, 2013, p. 127).

IRPC (2014) argued about the relation of the internet and human rights. Specifically, about universality and equality; rights and social justice; accessibility; expression and association; privacy; life, liberty and security; diversity; network equality; standards and regulation; and governance.

This is similar to what Posch and I have argued here. Certainly, if as nascent technology as the internet is considered a human right today, then surely Bitcoin is as well. Given that Bitcoin is built on top of the internet, then surely only by extension it is also a human right.

As far as the rights and freedoms relate to money that would affect the ability to exercise the rights and freedoms properly, the analysis shows that Bitcoin promotes equality and dignity, freedom from discrimination, property ownership, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and movement. However, Bitcoin does not promote privacy as it is depressed by fungibility concerns.

Still, there is no evidence that bitcoin has significantly increased economic freedom in emerging economies; that bitcoin donations have significantly affected opposition groups’ progress; and that governments have tried to confiscate bitcoin but failed. Thus, more research is required to properly understand exactly to what extent bitcoin can promote human rights.

In general, technology can both support human rights and facilitate repression. States and non-state actors can impede human rights through surveillance and censorship, widen the digital divide, and create new forms of discrimination. In contrast, technology can also give people access to information, protect human rights activists, and advance economic and social rights.

Many still argue that bitcoin is a tool only for illicit financiers. In fact, a terrorist organisation Yaqub Foundations and North Korean hackers have funded their activities for harmful ends using bitcoin with additional anonymity tools. Still, in 2022, the transaction volume of illicit finance was at an extremely low 0.24% of total cryptoasset volume (Chainalysis, 2022b, 2023). Frankly, there will always be those who use technology for harmful ends, undermining human rights. The question is if governments should ban a particular technology from the majority if an extremely small minority uses it for harmful ends.

Using bitcoin for illicit activities can ultimately harm innocent individuals, and undermine human rights. However, more freedom equals more responsibility. That is, the more freedom we have, the more responsibility we also have to use that freedom wisely. While freedom can be liberating, it also comes with the burden of making responsible choices and taking accountability for the consequences of those choices. Arguably, there are more people who use the internet for good than bad, and there are more people who benefited from strong encryption and privacy, than not. Let us not let fear dictate our behaviour.

Notwithstanding, this does not mean that policy and regulation should be shied away from; on the contrary, it means that the right questions and right focus should be applied. For example, policymakers in North America and Europe are currently focusing on the ‘definition of Bitcoin’. This is wrong. They should focus on ‘How to avoid illicit finance’, regardless of whether people use bitcoin or dollars. Illicit finance occurred long before Bitcoin came into picture.

Policymakers must be cautious not to build a society without crime and safe from terrorist threats at the expense of personal freedom, leading to a authoritairan, Orwellian government (Goold, 2010). Policy-wise, overemphasising the link between cryptoassets and crime does not help in the effective distribution of law enforcement resources and fails to acknowledge the vast majority of legitimate crypto transactions. Overstating risks and disregarding benefits will not result in sensible policies (Schulp et al., 2023).

3.1 Future Research Suggestions

EDIT. 3th May, 2023. The Value-Neutrality Thesis asserts that technology is not inherently morally or politically good or bad, but merely a tool (Miller, 2021). For instance, Bitcoin can be used for harmful purposes, like financing illegal activities, or for beneficial ones, such as providing financial access to the unbanked population, or for nonviolent resistance to counter financial censorship, among other beenficial uses.

Many modern philosophers of technology disagree with this thesis, and it is unclear whether discussions about values in technology are simply rhetorical or have substantial empirical support with real-world consequences.

Miller demonstrates how values can be detected empirically in technology. These value-related discussions are important because the enduring nature of technological artifacts like Bitcoin leads to long-term effects that outlast their creators. Thus, this presents an avenue for future research: what kind long-term effects and values endure as Bitcoin evolves?

4. Conclusion

Assuming one holds the private keys, Bitcoin has the potential to promote freedom and equality, namely economic freedom (See also Ajiboye et al. (2019), Brito (2019), and Rueckert (2019)). However, but statistical evidence is needed to understand exactly to what extent it can promote economic freedom. In addition, more research has to be carried out to find out what are the necessary and sufficient conditions under which one can and cannot utilise bitcoin to realise its benefits (see ‘Bitcoin Empowerment Paradox in section 2.1). Furthermore, Bitcoin promotes freedom from discrimination by having inclusive access to the network, freedom of expression through censorship-resistant transactions, and the right to own property through its confiscation-resistance, and bitcoin helps people to realise their freedom of movement and assembly, to the extent transactions are kept technically private.

5. Bibliography

Ajiboye, T., Buenaventura, L., Gladstein, A., Liu, L., Lloyd, A., Machado, A., Song, J., & Vranova, A. (2019). The little bitcoin book: why bitcoin matters for your freedom finances and future. 21 Million Books.

Antonopoulos A. M. (2017). The internet of money. volume two: a collection of talks. Merkle Bloom LLC.

Aponte-Novoa, F. A., Orozco, A. L. S., Villanueva-Polanco, R., & Wightman, P.(2021). The 51% Attack on Blockchains: A Mining Behavior Study. IEEE access, 9, 140549-140564.

Back, A. (2016). Fungibility overview.

Bak, D., Sriyai, S., & Meserve, S. A. (2018). The internet and state repression: A cross-national analysis of the limits of digital constraint. Journal of human rights, 17(5), 642-659.

Baydakova A., & Reynolds, S. (2022). 'Frozen' Bitcoin Tied to Canadian Protests Lands at Coinbase, Crypto.Com. CoinDesk.

Bitnodes. (2023). Reachable Bitcoin nodes.

Brito, J. (2019). The Case for Electronic Cash: Why Private Peer-to-Peer Payments are Essential to an Open Society

Chainalysis. (2023). The 2023 Crypto Crime Report.

Chainalysis. (2022a). The 2022 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report

Chainalysis. (2022b). The 2022 Crypto Crime Report.

Crypto51. (2023). PoW 51% Attack Cost

Cohen, J. E. (2013). WHAT PRIVACY IS FOR. Harvard law review, 126(7), 1904-1933.

Dragu, T., & Lupu, Y. (2021). Digital Authoritarianism and the Future of Human Rights. International organization, 75(4), 991-1017.

Drezner, D. W. (2022). How not to sanction. International affairs (London), 98(5), 1533-1552.

Development Research Group, F. a. P. S. D. U. (2022). Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) Database 2021.

Goold, B. (2010). ‘How much surveillance is too much? Some thought on surveillance, democracy, and the political value of privacy’, in Schartum, D.W. (ed.), Overvåkning i en rettsstat – Surveillance in a Constitutional Government, Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 38-48.

Government of Canada. (2022). Canada invokes the Emergencies Act to limit funding of illegal blockades and restore public order. Department of Finance Canada.

Grundy, T. (2019). BIG THANKS to HKFP's supporters who donated HK$14,817 in Bitcoin since 2015. Twitter.

Hui, M. (2019). Hong Kong’s protesters were afraid to use their metro cards. Twitter. twitter: maryhui/status/1138675837165641733?s=20

Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRPC). (2014). 10 Internet Rights & Principles. UN Internet Governance Forum.

Law Library of Congress. (2021). Regulation of cryptocurrency around the world.

Mathiesen, K. (2014). Human Rights for the Digital Age. Journal of mass media ethics, 29(1), 2-18.

Miller, B. (2021). Is Technology Value-Neutral? Science, technology, & human values, 46(1), 53-80.

Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.

Posch, A. (2022). Opposing the Corruptible Fiat System, Bitcoin Enforces Universal Human Rights.

Posch, A. (2020). Bitcoin is power.

Rogaway, P. (2015). The moral character of cryptographic work. Cryptology ePrint Archive, Report 2015/1162.

Rosenbaum, K. (2019). Grokking bitcoin (1st ed.). Manning Publications.

Rueckert, C. (2019). Cryptocurrencies and fundamental rights. Journal of Cybersecurity, 5(1), 1.

Schulp, J., Solowey, J., Anthony, N., & Thielman, N. (2023). Overstating Crypto Crime Won’t Lead to Sound Policy. Cato Institute.

Seth For Privacy (Seth). (2021). Bitcoin's Fungibility Graveyard.

United Nations. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

World Bank Group. (2019). Women business and the law 2019: a decade of reform. World Bank.

Ziccardi G. (2013). Resistance liberation technology and human rights in the digital age. Springer.

Why do we waste fossil fuels for shorter grass?

Why do we build large green grass in our yard and water it and then cut it?

Why do not people appreciate the wild, chaos, complexity, and diversity that is nature?

Why do people like short, plain, dull grass?

Why does cutting grass makes me think thoughts less?

Why do shitjobs make you feel stupid by the end of the summer?

Why is movement of my thoughts so slow when I work shitjobs?

Why do I start to perceive how grass is maintained elsewhere?

Why cannot the city officials appreciate the fact that roadside grass length should be variable and not constant, maintained length?

Why can we not cut only the grass that seems to matter to people?

Why would long grass create problems?

Why is it that if people do not care about the length of the grass, that it should then matter how often we cut it and how short we keep it?

Why do smokers throw their cigarette packs out of their car, which ends up in atoms after I cut it?

Why am I cutting grass when I could be smoking grass?

My childhood friend committed a suicide not so long ago. I still remember the last day when I met him and my other childhood friend. I arranged a gathering and we drank beer and reminisced the good old times. I did not see anything suicidal in his behavior or in the way he talked. He had changed for sure, but everybody changes in ten to fifteen years. And so when I heard the news, I was without words.

He inspired me to understand more about suicide. The following essay is an assignment that I wrote for the course Humanism and Peace Work.

As is the norm for scientific articles, I define suicide and describe contributing risk and protective factors.

Then I explain the positive decline in suicides evidenced by data. Suicides have most likely decreased as a result of framing suicide as a mental health problem, treating depression, limiting access to lethal means of suicide like firearms, reducing alcohol consumption, and urbanisation.

Lastly, I discuss suicide from Western and Eastern humanist perspective.

Finns met one of the deepest economic recessions of all western Europeans in the mid-1990s. Unemployment climbed up to 20%, and as a consequence the government cut down funding from health services (Lehtinen & Taipale, 2001). Despite the hardship, suicides peaked in 1990 and declined significantly thereafter, and halved in 2015 (figure 1) (OSF, 2021).

This positive trend emerged after the implementation of the National Suicide Prevention Project from 1986 to 1996 (Vorma et al., 2020). Majority of people then who committed suicide (88%) suffered from illnesses, notably depression, serious physical illness, and substance abuse.

figure 1. suicides per 100 000 inhabitants, 1971 to 2019 (OSF, 2021)


Suicidal behavior refers to suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and committed suicide─the act of intentionally causing one's own death (THL, 2021a). Thus, suicidal behavior exists on a spectrum of severity where it progresses from less severe ideation to a more severe form, committed suicide (Turecki & Brent, 2016).

Suicidal ideation is not rare among Finnish people (THL, 2021a). At least one in six people in their lives have thought about committing a suicide. Luckily suicidal ideations are momentary for many people. Suicide ideation is much more common for women, whereas committed suicide is more common for men, worldwide (Ritchie, Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2015). Still, among the people who do not seek help, suicide attempts happen to 1/100 people per year (THL, 2021a).

Notwithstanding the importance of explicating between and within different suicidal behaviors like ideation, attempts, and completions, the following data and literature in this essay concerns committed suicides (hereafter suicides).

Globally, there are 800,000 people who commit suicide every year, which is twice the amount of homicides (Ritchie, Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2015). Suicide accounts for 1.4% of the global deaths in 2017, which coincides with Finland in 2019 when 1.4% commited suicide. Indeed, suicide is among the top ten causes of death in Finland (OSF, 2019).

In Finland, the three most common suicide methods were by hanging, firearm, or by an overdose of psychotropic medicine (e.g., antidepressant), all three of which are characterized by sex differences (OSF, 2021). Men die by hanging or by firearm much more than women, whereas both women and men die by psychotropic drug overdose to an equal extent.

Risk factors to suicide include mental illness, alcohol abuse, somatic disease, alienation from society, life crises surrounded by negative emotions, male gender, firearms availability, history of suicides and mental illnesses in family, and prior suicide attempts (Baxter et al., 2011; Darvishi et al., 2015; Ferrari et al., 2010; Grinshteyn & Hemenway, 2019; Haukka et al., 2008; Suokas et al., 2001; THL, 2021a). Regarding age as a risk factor, young Finns aged 10 to 14 tend to have very low suicide rates until age 15 to 19 when suicide rate sharply increase five-fold, and then doubles after the age of 20 and beyond (OSF, 2021).

Protective factors include support and access to therapy, familial and extrafamilial supportive relationships, physical health, positive mental health, problem-solving and coping skills, cognitive flexibility, good self-esteem, and feelings of togetherness and hope (THL, 2021a). Studies also show that online-only friendships may offer protective benefits for youth, especially those who experience suicidal ideation (Massing-Schaffer et al., 2020).

Given that suicide is often associated with a mental health illness, there is then a way to treat it with therapeutic and pharmacological means. Moreover, evidence suggests that limiting access to lethal means of suicide like firearms, reducing alcohol consumption, and urbanisation may reduce suicides.

Possible causes

There are five possible causes as to why suicides may have decreased in Finland: framing suicide as a mental health problem, treating depression, limiting access to lethal means of suicide like firearms, reduction in consumption of alcohol, and urbanisation.

Framing suicide as a mental health problem and raising awareness of suicide in general has spurred improvement in access to mental health services (Abrams et al., 2020). After the constant increase in suicides from 1921 onward (figure 2), Finns became aware of the growing problem and started the National Suicide Prevention Project in 1986 (Lönnqvist, 2003, 2007).

In addition, the mental health service system was revamped from the ground up in the 1990s (Lehtinen & Taipale, 2001), which was reflected by the explosive increase in mental and behavioral illness diagnoses from 1995 onwards (figure 5). In the end, these two changes together helped ensure that people at the risk of suicide received treatment (Vorma et al., 2020).

figure 2. absolute number of suicides per year, 1921–2019. (OSF, 2021)

Given that depression and suicide go hand in hand (figure 3), treating depression with therapy and/or pharmaceuticals may prevent suicides.

Laukkala et al. (2002) and Vilhelmsson (2013) report that there was a fourfold surge in the use of antidepressants after 1990. The available data suggests that reimbursements for depression medicines between 1994 to 2020 tripled (figure 4), which is associated with an exponential amount of behavioral and mental illness diagnoses between 1995 and 2019 (figure 5). People finally received the help they needed.

Korkeila et al. (2007) and Salokangas et al. (2012) say that increased antidepressant use is associated with decline in suicides when controlling for other variables and their interactions. Thus, treating mental and behavioral illnesses, and especially depression, has most likely prevented majority of potential suicides.

figure 3. suicide rates vs. prevalence of depression, 1990–2017 (Ritchie, Roser,& Ortiz-Ospina, 2015)

figure 4. reimbursements for depression medicines, recipients aged 18-64 per 1000 persons of the same age, 1994–2020 (THL, 2021b)

figure 5. rehabilitation clients in certain main disease categories, 1995–2019 (KELA, 2021)

Limiting lethal means of suicide like firearms may reduce suicides (Abrams et al., 2020). It is easier to commit suicide if there are means to do it. In Finland, firearms (i.e., handguns, rifles, and shotguns) have over the years been the third most commonly used method in suicide (figure 6).

Privately owned licit and illicit firearms (figure 7) have decreased between the years 2005 and 2019 (Alpers, Michael & Dylan, 2021; MOI, 2021). Thus, there may be a positive association in the decline of firearms and suicides. Overdose of psychotropic drugs or hanging is harder if not impossible to counteract given there are no sensible restrictions that can be implemented.

figure 6. suicides by method, 1998–2017 (OSF, 2021)

figure 7. number of privately owned licit and illicit firearms, 2005–2019 (Alpers, Michael, & Dylan, 2021; MOI, 2021)

In Finland, documented alcohol consumption increased from 1960, peaked in 2007, and decreased thereafter (figure 8).

In their meta-analysis, Darvishi et al. (2015) found a significant positive association between alcohol use and suicide. However, suicides declined after 1990, but alcohol consumption continued to increase around until 2007, so there is no clear-cut positive association during that time period. In any case, alcohol does not cause suicide per se, but it heightens the risk of suicide.

figure 8. recorded consumption of alcoholic beverages, 100% alcohol, 1933–2019 (THL, 2020)

figure 9. sale of alcoholic beverages by type of beverage and by region, per capita aged 15 and over, 100% alcohol, 2019 (THL, 2020)

Sha, Yip and Law (2017) found that suicides declined in China between 1990 to 2010, which was strongly associated with urbanisation. More urbanisation, less suicides. Generally urban areas provide greater cultural and economical benefits compared to rural areas.

In Finland, suicides per region between 2016 to 2020 (figure 9) show that suicides crudely lie in rural regions compared to urban regions (my understanding is that East- and North-Finland are more rural compared to West- and South-Finland.

Pesonen et al. (2001) studied urban-rural differences in male suicides between 1988 to 1997 and found that male suicide mortality may be regionally diverging in Finland. However, there are no studies that focus on the effect of urbanisation in Finland, countrywide, on suicides, as of yet.

figure 10. suicides per 100 000 inhabitants per region, 2016–2020. Darker blue means to more suicides compared to lighter blue (THL, 2021c)


There is always hope for a better life in the future, a life that may be sufficiently rich and strange, creative and beautiful, peaceful and vibrant to have made the wait worthwhile. (Hecht, 2013)

Suicide’s meaning changed across historical and geographical contexts. Ancient philosophers were largely against suicide, although some suicides were considered as philosophically sound, heroic, respected, pragmatic, and justified (Hecht, 2013). Then major religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam heavily condemned suicide because God forbade it. Suicide was an offensive act toward God for life is sacred.

After the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century Europe, suicide’s meaning changed, and became medicalized, secularized, and decremininalized. Medical education flourished in the beginning of 20th century, and suicide was soon framed as a mental health problem.

But despite the positive development over the decades and centuries, Hecht states that we still have no coherent argument against suicide, apart from what God says. Somehow the Western culture tolerates suicide, namely that death is fiercely challenged in other domains but not when death is caused by oneself. An argument found from humanism may pave path against suicide.

In the Western perspective of humanism, Pinker (2018) states that its goal is maximizing human flourishing. This means that life, health, happiness, freedom, knowledge, love, and richness of experience are at the core of humanism.

In the the Eastern perspective of humanism, Patel and Prasad (2020) argue that humanism is defined as relational and virtue-based rather than absolute and authority-based; there was a flexible set of ethical standards; a notion of the ideal person (e.g., Junzi, Buddha); a concept of universal justice and a rejection of supreme authority or sovereignty; and a focus on education.

In the Western sense of humanism, there has been undeniable humanistic progress made toward understanding and preventing suicides in the world, especially in Finland (Vorma et al., 2020).

Less suicides is a win for life. But at what cost? What I will write next is controversial so heads up: I am not sure if eating depression medication to prevent suicides is “human flourishing” to the individual, especially in the long term. Maybe for the society as a whole, because then we avoid suicides that would create suffering to the people close to the person who killed him or herself.

I have never suffered from a mental illness and I am not sure what depression and its medication does to you. The people that I have had the pleasure to get to know in the past four years, I have experienced doubt regarding medication.

I do not think that people under medication live their lives to their fullest. I do not think they experience all emotions one can feel. It is as though they have numbed some emotional aspects of their lives. At the same time, they may have more control of their thoughts and in that way process their emotions without falling into emotional rollercoaster.

Then again, people who do not take their medication do not necessarily live their life to the fullest anyway given the pain the have to endure. So there is no right answer. Still, science currently states that medication alone or psychotherapy alone are not as effective compared to the combination of the two for long-term healing.

In the Eastern humanistic sense, a person who commits suicide is far from an ideal person. And while no authority can reject suicide, there is no virtue in taking one’s own life.

As Hecht (2013) argues, we not only owe it to society and especially our personal communities to stay alive, but also to our future self. Suicide rules out the future self that may not have wanted suicide.


Taken as a whole, there is a complex interplay of factors impacting suicide including psychological, sociodemographic, cultural, religious, economical, regional factors, risk and protective factors.

And while there has been a 21-year positive downward trend in suicides in Finland, it cannot be expected to continue without research and continuous preventive measures.

The strong associations of suicide may be possible causes, although correlation does not imply causation. Even if the aforementioned possible causes were not actual causes, but mere associations, they all individually contribute to human flourishing nevertheless.

Namely, framing suicide as a mental health problem, treating depression, limiting access to lethal means of suicide like firearms, reducing alcohol consumption, and urbanisation are all humanistic endeavours by themselves. If suicides decreased as a result of these strong associations, then all the better.

#essay #peace

åbo akademi university (the factory mill) in vaasa

I am enjoying the Saturday morning with a cup of dark-roasted coffee and chocolate cereal. I usually do not and I should not, but the urge was too big to handle. Coffee makes me irritated, jittery and anxious because it has more caffeine than I take. Chocolate cereal provides little nutrients and makes me hungry after a while. That is why I prefer green tea and porridge. I felt making an exception today.

I moved from Vaasa to stay and live in Turku for the summer as well as the last academic year. I lived with my parents past three summers to work and get money, and save rent and food money.

This time I decided to make a change in my life and move to the city center and share an apartment with others.

I live with four people from South Africa, France, and two from Finland. They research cancer biology, study mathematics, and architecture, and work in automotive engineering. I am extremely lucky to get to live with such super fun, intelligent, and kind people.

Ordinarily they asked me what I study. And it is always such a “pleasure” to describe my studies to new people I meet:

I study humanism, nonviolence, gender studies, nordic welfare, nonkilling, civil resistance, AGGRESSION, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS, WAR, EVIL, VIOLENCE, KILLING, and TORTURE. ... :)))

In International relations and conflicts course I jumped right into the unknown waters and learned about dozen theories that describe how nation-states interact in a world that has no rules or a ruler. How super effing interesting is that! And how peculiar that the programme did not make this course mandatory as it introduces some key ideas on how conflicts emerge in the state level. The peace programme focuses more on the individual.

Among many things, I learned that countries where men treat women unequally have more frequent and severe conflicts with other countries (McDermott, 2020). Therefore, educating children to treat all genders as equal reduces the likelihood of violence within and between nation-states, and terrorism, and many other problems.

In my final assigment, I analysed whether Finland should join NATO or not, and argued that Finland should join NATO when analysed through Realism School of Thought.

But after the Nonkilling course I realised that joining NATO does not help us realise peace. During the course, we did a group exercise where we imagined a nonkilling society by 2050.

A ‘nonkilling society’ is a human community characterised by (1) no killing of humans and no threats to kill; (2) no weapons designed to kill humans and no justifications for using them; (3) and no conditions of society dependent upon threat or use of killing force for maintenance or change (Paige, 2003).

Joining NATO is to depend upon a threat or use of killing force to maintain or change the society. After all, whatever one opines about NATO, it is in essence designed to kill people. Therefore, joining NATO does not help us to achieve a nonkilling future.

And while imagining possible futures seems like a stupid, useless thing to do, we need to do it to shift our attention and action to a world we want to live in. We often forget this, and develop reactionary, short-term thinking fueled by emotions such as fear.

In the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) our attitudes toward the behavior and perceived behavioral control affect our intentions which in turn affect our behavior. Therefore, imagining futures is fundamentally about changing our attitudes and perceived behavioral control, which would then affect our behavior. In that sense, imagining futures is an essential first step toward the desired future.

theory of planned behavior

If peace and a world without killing is too distant idea and hard future to imagine, given the war on Ukraine, and other killing and suicides that happen every day in all parts of the world, focus on your own future life and see how it works.

For example, athletes and actors often imagine their performance before they do it, and it greatly increases their chances of success. In the same manner, when we imagine a world without killing, we increase our chances of achieving it.

Unfortunately, killing is so widespread and common in the world right now that it is taken for granted. We are numbed to it. It is supposedly a natural and inescapable aspect of life and human condition. However, majority of the people have not killed and do not want to kill, those who are forced to kill avoid it at all costs, and the few who end up killing develop post-traumatic stress disorder among other psychological trauma. Therefore, killing is far from normal human behavior.

In the Violence, aggression and psychopathology course I learned that even mere exposure is enough to create more violence, so not just being the victim or aggressor. That is, previous exposure to violence is a risk factor that best predicts increased violent and antisocial behavior later in life (Dubow et al., 2019).

Violence is an epidemic in the exact same sense that coronavirus is. In that regard, the war in Ukraine is not solved by offensively attacking Russia, either by the Ukrainians themselves or Europeans. It only creates more violence.

What partially explains killing is our underlying biological predisposition for aggression. This means that humans, like other animals, can solve conflicts by being aggressive.

In Peace literature studies 1 course, I attended the seminar hosted by International Society for Research on Aggression, and learned that social experience dramatically shapes the level of aggression, namely how simple winning and losing can affect the brain structures in the chemical, synaptic, and neuronal level in mice. This can be generalised to humans to some extent.

This finding implies that the cultural and social conditions can exacerbate or curb aggression tendencies. So it is not that “we cannot do anything about it, because it is in our genes”. We can. For example, I have heard from so many people, from my family and friends to lecturers that aggression and violence is something inherently permanent in Russian population and culture.

This is incorrect. It is not the Russian people but the living conditions that give rise to such behavior—name it system-wide structures or organisations. Moreover, soldiers are conditioned to killing within the military organisation. So there are more caveats. This is to say that Finnish people can be aggressive and violent, and kill, under the right circumstances.

There were three more courses that I took part in. To put it short, Critical perspectives on migration, citizenship and inclusion course taught me that migration is a complex and highly political topic that I need to understand more. Torture and its treatment course taught me how to torture people in the most effective way. And Scientific writing taught me something useful too I think.


I have to go feed and babysit friend's Bobby the Cat now. Until next time! Adiós!

#university #finland #peace