I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
– Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Some people live their existence in a great state of dread, convinced a totalitarian, centralized world government of sorts is in our future. Not only do I not think this is going to happen, but I predict the exact opposite will occur. I believe the world has already hit “peak centralization” and decentralization will be the defining trend of human existence on this planet going forward.
Naturally, this is just one man’s opinion, but I strongly believe it and will make my case in this piece. When I look around and think about the major trends of our time, they all point in the direction of decentralization, something which invariably scares the living daylights out of authoritarians worldwide.
Irrespective of what you think of Donald Trump, the fact he was elected proves the power of decentralization in the modern communications and media realm. As was well documented throughout the campaign, the mainstream media came out in clownish and historically lopsided fashion in favor of his opponent Hillary Clinton. We all remember seeing headlines like the one below and then reading stuff like the following.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has received fewer endorsements from the editorial boards of the nation’s largest newspapers than any major-party presidential candidate in history.
Among the top 100 largest newspapers in America, just two — the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville — endorsed Trump.
Yet he won the election anyway, which is instructive of the changing dynamics of our times. Indeed, I’m not sure Trump could’ve won if not for the internet and social media, which leveled the communications playing field and allowed anyone anywhere to have an opinion and share it widely. The role of media as officialdom’s trusted gatekeepers had been declining in influence for years, but the 2016 election served as the real wakeup call for a discredited establishment. Control of mass consciousness had been lost.
This realization is at the root of all hysteria surrounding fake news and the intense drive to push the “Russia did it,” via state funded media and Facebook meme. The end goal of this narrative is to somehow get information back under control of the gatekeepers in order to keep alternative views hidden. The rabble must be silenced, lest it get too powerful.
The general public would never accept such a crackdown if assorted billionaires and other corrupt card-carrying members of the status quo were honest about their intentions, so they have to create a story to justify stealth censorship. They’ve done this by aggressively pushing this story that fake news and Russia will spell the end of civilization as we know it unless we do something. The objective of all that “doing something” is to reestablish control of narratives by whatever means necessary. The tech platform monopolies will all play a key part in this narrative readjustment process, which will ultimately speed up calls for decentralized and more transparent social media platforms.
Another area where we’ve seen the clear impact of decentralization having already established itself in everyday life relates to drug laws. Twenty years ago it would’ve been inconceivable that U.S. states would simply vote by referendum to legalize cannabis. Not only has this happened over the past five years, but it’s been a resounding success in multiple states, including my adopted home of Colorado. While much hand-wringing has taken place about what Jeff Sessions or some other government goon might do, I for one believe the debate on this issue is settled. Much of the country has decided that cannabis is a relatively benign substance that no one should go to jail for, and any politician or other bureaucrat who dares to pick this fight will lose.
Which brings me to a point about the ability of governments and institutions to do whatever they want. Many people seem to think that because governments have guns and the threat of imprisonment, they can therefore do whatever they want at any given time. I do not accept this premise, and think a lot of the most dreadful things that happen around us are allowed to happen because we collectively put up with it. In other words, our collective consciousness resides in such a low state, we allow ourselves to be bullied and coerced into a state of degraded submissiveness.
If the power structure didn’t actually care about what we thought, why would they put so much effort into propagandizing us; into making us feel so powerless and fearful? The reason is because narrative is everything, and the public must be molded and manipulated in a certain way in order to keep us submissive. Once enough of us say we’ve had enough, then the game is over. That’s how you get progress, and that’s exactly what has happened with drug laws in certain states.
Finally, let’s move on to Bitcoin, and crypto currencies in general, which represent one of the most disruptive decentralizing forces the world has ever seen. Any student of money and history understands that there really is no greater power than the power to create and distribute money at will. Our supposedly sophisticated societies entrust this awesome power to central bankers, which in turn enrich the financial sector at the expense of everyone else. The unethical theft inherent in this system was exposed for everyone to see during the 2008 crisis, as the criminals were bailed out and rewarded while everyone else was kicked to the curb. Bitcoin came about shortly after, and has captured the imagination of tens of millions around the world ever since.
The beautiful thing about Bitcoin is that it’s government censorship-proof by design thanks to its decentralized nature. There’s no CEO to threaten, no company to shut down. It’s just a free-wheeling ecosystem of hodlers, supporters, thinkers, developers, miners, exchanges and related businesses somehow co-existing and thriving with no one actually being in charge. Of course, this comes with its own set of issues as we see with the scaling debate, but the fact it’s been this successful thus far is nothing short of extraordinary. With the advent of Bitcoin, decentralization finally made its mark on one of the most historically significant control systems of human power. Currency.
Naturally, this sets up a major confrontation with the current power structure which will not want to easily relinquish a tool so powerful as the ability to create money out of thin air. China, with its well-laid plans to replace the dollar one day with its own statist, centralized currency, has unsurprisingly started to push back.
When some people see the power structure fight back, whether against Bitcoin or alternative news, they get nervous and feel that all is lost. That we can’t win. I completely disagree and see it in the complete opposite way. The powerful are fighting back because they see themselves losing. We can’t be so naive to expect them to go down without a fight, but that doesn’t mean we should shrink from the challenge. If you go into a fight with a defeatist attitude of course you will be defeated. We’re the ones on the right side of history while their dominator hierarchies must be displaced. Our way is the way of freedom, ethics and innovation. Their way is of control, authority and violence.
Which brings me to a few key excerpts on China’s war against Bitcoin from a very interesting article, Is Bitcoin Reaching Critical Mass?
In contrast to the commonly quoted “no news is good news”, I believe in the context of bitcoin and crypto overall “any news is good news”. Ranging from the China “ban” on bitcoin, to the SEC crackdown on ICOs, they all inevitably acknowledge the presence and inevitably of bitcoin without actually harming it in any tangible way.
Anything short of compromising the integrity of the bitcoin blockchain is entirely ineffective, including any government-issued “ban”. Bitcoin’s censorship resistant nature means that the cost incurred to undermine the network is significantly higher than the reward to be gained in doing so – and this only becomes more true over time with increased adoption. You can read more about this on Elaine Ou’s piece titled “A hundred years of Crypto Anarchy”.
In some ways, the news is like a badge of validity to the public, even condemning news from official sources about bitcoin is exposure and consequently positive. It’s a message saying “this is something that could potentially undermine us”. In a global climate where government-backed currencies are constantly exposed for their shortcomings, and distrust in governance is at an all time high, bitcoin is appearing as an incredibly superior alternative. It has already established itself in places like Venezeula.
Decentralization is an idea whose time has come. As I write this, conscious people across the world are creating systems of human empowerment, while powers of centralization desperately fight to preserve control. We aren’t the ones reacting to them, they are reacting to us. That’s not a fight they can easily win– the only question is how much are they willing to destroy in a futile quest to stymie human progress?
Strategically, much of the current battle is about exposing power structures for what they really are by making them reveal their true thuggish natures. We must do this by creating systems that are transparently superior and more ethical than existing systems, which will then force their hands. If governments insist on thwarting human progress merely to retain control, it’ll be clear to all that they don’t work for the people, but rather, for themselves.
Looking ahead, the next major battleground for decentralization likely will be fought in the political realm of governance, with the Catalan independence movement providing a perfect example. I explained how I see this process unfolding on twitter yesterday.
Here’s how I see things playing out.
Humans push for decentralization, the state responds with thuggishness.
Legitimacy further damaged.
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) September 20, 2017
This is precisely what is happening in Spain right now. As Reuters reports:
(Reuters) – Spanish police raided Catalan government offices and arrested officials on Wednesday to halt a banned referendum on independence, an action the regional president said meant Madrid had effectively taken over his administration.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the regional government offices in the center of Barcelona’s tourist district as well as in several Catalan cities, waving the red-and-yellow Catalan flag and chanting “Occupying forces out” and “Where is Europe?”.
“The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule,” Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address.
“We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,” he said, adding Catalans should turn out in force to vote in the Oct. 1 referendum on a split from Spain that Madrid has declared illegal.
State police arrested Catalonia’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove on Wednesday in their first raid of government offices in the region, Catalan government sources said. The raid targeted several regional government departments.
Acting under court orders, police have raided printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.
The Civil Guard, a national police force, on Wednesday seized 10 million ballot papers, polling station displays as well as documents and forms to run the vote, including a list of voters under the headline “2017 Catalonia self-determination referendum”.
Is that Riyadh or Barcelona?
Naturally, many Catalans were none too pleased and came out in the streets as you can see from the picture below.
Plenty of people previously against independence are probably in favor of it now. That’s just how these things work. As Reuters reported:
But the central government must tread a fine line in enforcing the law in the region without seeming heavy-handed. Polls show a minority of Catalans, albeit more than 40 percent, support independence although a majority want a referendum on the issue.
Denying the right to vote in such an aggressive and authoritarian manner will only galvanize support for the independence movement and increase anger towards the centralized government in Madrid. This was a major mistake by the Spanish state, but it’s precisely the sort of mistake we should expect as the world becomes increasingly decentralized.
To conclude, I recognize that I’m making a huge call here. I think the way human beings organize their affairs will experience the most significant paradigm level shift we’ve seen in the Western world since the end of the European feudal system hundreds of years ago. That’s how significant I think this shift will be. There are two key things that need to happen for this to occur. The first is technological innovation, and that’s already happening. The second is increased human consciousness. As Thoreau noted, in order for us to have greater self-determination we need to be ready for it. Are we ready? I think we’re getting there.
So get out there and innovate if you can, and if you can’t that’s ok too, go become an inspiration to others. If we spread the ethos of freedom and decentralization far and wide, we shall have it.
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