In a brilliant essay on Bitcoin and the promise it holds for a decentralized future (published on the Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge’s website), Nozomi Hayase explained the disruptive potential of Bitcoin. Now she further elaborates in a new essay on Falkvinge’s site, and explores how the Bitcoin ecosystem offers a different model of governance and how within it, our familiar notion of power can be redefined to mean something radically different.
“[W]hen I say Bitcoin, I am talking about the underlying technology of the blockchain (which is much more than currency), along with its decentralized network, and also blockchain-based cryptocurrencies in general. Bitcoin might not be the final currency that ends up bringing us into a decentralized future, but it has opened the door. If it fails, it will only be because there is an even better cryptocurrency to replace it.”
Hayase cleverly deconstructs the old notion – now little more than an urban legend – that governments and large corporations compete for power and control. On the contrary, what we have seen over the decades is a corporate takeover of governments, creating an interlocking power of states and corporations. For example, the cozy relationship between governments and monopolistic banks led to the forming of invisible governance structures, including a two-tiered justice system and the creation of expert opinion that facilitates camouflaged democratic processes to engineer consent. Domination through monopoly achieved with the complicity of the state, in Hayase’s view, is fundamentally incompatible with free choice.
“If Google became popular only because people genuinely like their service, then their popularity would be a result of a kind of democratic election process through the market. Yet if Google attains dominance in the market through colluding with the government and rigging competition, this presents a problem.”
Bitcoin, which evolved from the cypherpunk movement, follows and further promotes the trend toward decentralization, emerged through the internet technologies such as BitTorrent, and Internet movements such as open source software, in recent years. The essence of Bitcoin is scalable distributed trust (solving the problem of double-spending without third party reconciliation). The decentralized security of Bitcoin permits creating an open and inclusive global society.
“[W]hen more people start to govern themselves with collaborative smaller communities and engage in direct democracy at a larger level, there aren’t so many avenues for individuals or institutions to exploit others.”
For example, the Bitcoin security protocol could disrupt voting and even permit to implement direct democracy, instead of delegation, for a wide range of public policy issues.
“With transparent and secure voting processes enabled by the blockchain, the electoral arena can be transformed in a way that manifests the uncompromising power of citizens. In this we can still have representation where we wish, but it would be an option chosen by individuals freely.”
Bitcoin, the first technology that enables decentralized consensus, will permit people everywhere to associate freely with their fellows. Stateless decentralized crypto-currencies will create an environment where many different communities can co-exist and foster a society within which people create value together, based on each person’s affinity and voluntary association.
What do you think of Bitcoin’s potential to enable Open Source Governance? Comment below!
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