Bitcoin: innovation of money and evolution of governance

Nozomi Hayase in Open Democracy: “In its seven years of existence, Bitcoin has gained widespread attention with its disruptive potential in finance. Some see it as a form of digital gold, offering a safe haven against capital controls and asylum to people whose currency is debased.

The invention of cryptocurrency coincided with a global crisis of legitimacy in the 2008 financial meltdown, which was followed by bank bailouts and for the people, a cycle of austerity. In that seminal white paper, mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto described Bitcoin as a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash that would allow “online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution”. The core invention is distributed trust and Nakamoto stated that it was put forward as a solution to the “inherent weakness of the trust based model”, where financial institutions act as trusted third parties.

Bitcoin, I will argue, is not just an innovation in banking and finance, but at its core, concerns a challenge to governance systems that can lead to an evolution of humanity. For so long, social progress has stagnated, with the selfish and callous sides of man taking the upper hand. Unprecedented levels of government and corporate corruption in recent years have signaled a breakdown of systems of accountability. This deep failure of democracy has exposed the existence of individuals who exhibit a total lack of conscience and empathy for others. They embody a dark side of individuality, with aggressive and narrow selfish desires that often come in conflict with the public good. Now, the destructive actions of this minority seem to have become a threat to civilization itself. We shall explore how Bitcoin provides a new model of governance that is resilient to these adversarial forces.

Security holes within representative democracy

In the US, the launch of constitutional democracy brought a significant departure from the monarchy of olden times, where the king acted as ordained ruler. Yet, the foundation of this governance has not fundamentally changed, as it still relies on authority, requiring people to trust those who claim to represent them in the form of elected officials.

Representative democracy has increasingly become a mask used by ruthless individuals to hide and gain a grip on the populace. Behind the veil of secrecy, corporate masters behind the charade of electoral politics sponsor political candidates, who with campaign promises keep people passive and manage down their expectation levels. With future faking, which involves making plans that will never happen, and gas-lighting, a tactic known to challenge one’s memory, they deceive and gain power over others.

Money as a weapon of control

Money dependent on systems of representation requires trust to work. With the creation of the Federal Reserve and other central banks, private corporations began taking over the supplying of money. This centrally planned money production intermediates human relationship by dividing all into classes of creditors and debtors, where the former are masters, while the latter often become de-facto slaves.

The hidden captains of this managed democracy direct the flow of currency through financial engineering and have created incentive structures that are bent toward preserving their power. Stimulated by toxic asset bubbles, derivatives and quantitative easing, these incentives work like invisible hands of the market. They suppress democratic values by controlling information, which is the currency of democracy and suppressing free speech with economic censorship, as was seen in the case of the financial blockade against WikiLeaks. With radical deregulation, this system promotes fraud and depravity, exemplified in HSBC’s money laundering and top bank’s currency rigging. Through oppressive monetary policy and predatory lending that is presented as humanitarian aid, institutions such as the IMF and World Bank indebtdeveloping countries, holding whole populations in poverty.

All of this has resulted in the creation of a two-tiered justice system and derisked capitalism, where those in power are never allowed to fail and are not held accountable either by markets or the legal system….

Bitcoin as a new security model

Bitcoin brings an elegant solution to this systemic parasitic rent-seeking and exploitation. As asset-based digital cash, it offers an alternative to the promissory system of value creation by decree from above. Currency is its first application and Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain is a public asset ledger. This is a distributed database that records a history of transactions in the network without anyone in charge. Once data is verified, no one can undo it. This immutable timestamp goes beyond simple accounting of monetary transactions.

Bitcoin enables a new security model and it addresses the problem of security holes in the existing trust-based model of governance. Author and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos called this “trust by computation” that has “no central authority or trusted third party”….

Governance without central authority

Over the decades, democratic governments have become vehicles of control that have lost their fail-safe. Increasingly, people are held hostage by this corrupted political system. Satoshi’s white paper published in 2008 cleared a path for evolution. This wisdom can help humanity solve the problem of a historic failure of accountability.

Bitcoin ungoverns people as well as unbanking them around the world. Proof-of-work distributes what used to be third party trust across a massive global decentralized network, fostering a kind of self-governance in each individual. People who till now have been blindly handing over their consent to institutions can instead choose to be equal under the law of mathematics.

Governance without central authority can at first seem inefficient. But it is more secure than the current system of representation. The more the system reduces the need to trust a third party, replacing it with a borderless network, the lower the security risk becomes. With Bitcoin, governance can be innovated to function as a platform of consensus. Rather than a system to govern others, it can be used as settlement; to work out disputes and reconcile conflicts. Distributed trust as its core technology enables the capacity to set up rules agreed to by everyone, which cannot be altered by one person or group. The Bitcoin blockchain opens a door into a pluralistic society where all can participate in creating governance models and currencies that manifest their values through the principle of mutual aid and voluntary association….(More)”