I’ve been venturing into new subreddits lately (after patronizing /r/Bitcoin almost exclusively for a year). This branching out lead me to /r/cryptocurrency, where I stumbled upon a sort of manifesto for the decentralization of all the things. It’s compelling. Here’s a breakdown of the main points of the full piece, written by redditor aliensyntax.
“When file-sharing began on the internet, a process of disruption of the economic powers was initiated. This almost unconscious act of rebellion of average people sharing together was the first experiment we conducted in the transfer of wealth between the old regime and the emerging global society of the internet.”
And it was file sharing that threw into light the question of what actually qualifies as property. Before digitization, property could only be given to another at a loss to one’s own self. If I give you my Jeff Beck vinyl record, I no longer have that record. But in making a digital copy of the music, I can send you the full album and still have it for myself also. With the Internet, suddenly we can share things with others and still keep them for ourselves, too.
“This innocuous act of piracy has since been endlessly stigmatized by the so-called productive members of society. Their campaign to control the internet (SOPA, PIPA, et al.) and consumer behaviour (arresting file-sharers, raiding the torrent scene, the burning of library.nu, along with the recent attack on the piratebay) have all met with tremendous resistance among the general community of savvy internet users.”
But rather than see file sharing as the immense wealth-creating tool it is, established parties like Hollywood financiers, lawyers and state bureaucrats instead choose to claim that actual property is being “stolen” when consumers share files. Their revenue models are “entering a kind of epileptic seizure, violently lashing out for survival. This process will only continue accelerating until they commit economic suicide.”
“If all this wasn’t enough, we also thought up the brilliant idea of cryptocoins. With this we are establishing a completely new form of economic system. Politicians, lawyers, the bankers, just about all of them are terrified about the implications of this. They put it on the front page of every major newspaper as if they can they can control the public perception with their Orwellian rhetoric.”
It’s no coincidence that Bitcoin is repeatedly smeared by “mainstream” media outlets. It’s well-known that, for example, CNN is paid and/or pressured by state bureaucrats to promote some pieces of news and suppress others.
Legacy industries failing to adapt to shifts in consumer preferences include entertainment and publishing, along with banking. Politics and its ever-attendant lawyering aren’t really industries at all. As Richard Grant said, “Government is force, and politics is the process of deciding who gets to use it on whom. This is not the best way to solve problems.”
And with the total flip-flop in publishing that’s taken place via the internet, we finally know enough to have these kinds of discussions. Legacy newspapers and news channels are being replaced by blogs that are not influenced by bureaucrats or corporations. Talking heads covered in makeup are no longer considered to be the most trusted authorities anymore. They’re being replaced by knowledgeable individuals who blog from their homes.
“They can no longer frame the debate. With this development the economy will liquefy into the public domain. It’s only a matter of time before this house of cards collapses.”
“We needed to place our trust in a benevolent master. Unfortunately, the master is himself a selfish animal.”
In defense of a state, many like to quote James Madison, who said that if men were angels, we would need no government.
But if it’s true that men are not angels, isn’t that the most compelling reason to not have a government? If people have tendencies toward evil, wouldn’t making some of them masters over others exacerbate their evil tendencies? If men are not angels, isn’t the best course of action to make nobody a master over others?
Or as CoinTelegraph’s Carlo Caraluzzo phrased it, who will regulate the regulators? In the words of aliensyntax:
“What was meant to serve the people became the instrument of its enslavement.”
“New platforms are beginning to emerge that will allow us [to] construct completely decentralized applications that will enable just about anything we can put our minds to: open governance, anonymous collaboration, voting systems, financial instruments, crowdfunding, property claims, and various other kinds of consensus-making contracts and agreements.”
Many make the mistake that anarchists wish for chaos. That they have no interest in order or rules. But this assumption is based on the falsehood that without a state, there can be no order.
Crypto protocols are proving to us every single day that order is quite capable of arising from non-governmental organizations—that, in fact, the very best kind of order arises from anarchy. States did not invent crowdfunding, while cryptocurrency is perfecting it. States did not invent property rights, while cryptocurrency is making the establishment of them seamless and irrevocable. States did not invent financial instruments, while cryptocurrency is making them available to all, both rich and poor.
“These systems are poised to give us true freedom over our lives if we just think to use them for this purpose.”
“If we collectively work together as we already do all across the web, we will see the dawn of a totally anonymous egalitarian society.”
And what is the benefit of online anonymity, anyway? If we’ve learned anything from the Silk Road and Pirate Bay attacks, it’s that there are some people who simply will not leave free people alone. These attackers need a name and a face to launch an attack. And online anonymity denies them the information they need to attack free people.
Furthermore, as cryptocurrency eliminates the need to trust a third party, identity becomes less and less necessary (and even totally undesirable) in online commerce.
“Out of the ashes of the old system we will create a new one that is infinitely more valuable. It’s time to fight for a massively decentralized stateless society founded on just principles of distribution. It’s time to make wealth-sharing the new file-sharing.”
What do you think? What are the implications of a mass decentralization of all the things? Will be begin to live more in the digital realm than the physical?
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