Postmodernity requires post-money
If we admit that the future post-social existence of humankind starts from the present digital revolution, then some current digital trends can be recognized as the harbingers of postmodernity. But any digital product is a practical result of a conceptual solution. It means that somebody can predict the future to create products not only for the present generation but also for future post-users. Since a paradigm shift is very multifaceted, it is hard to understand what will be replaced by what. That’s why it is worth finding a key common feature of all previous paradigms first of all. The feature against which postmodernity is to take up its nihilist arms of negation.
Despite the seeming incompatibility of the late liberal modernity and the traditional society of premodernity, the former is a logical continuation of the latter. Modernity had to replace premodernity in the logic of the necessity to increase the capitalization of time of human life. The increase is needed to counteract the second law of thermodynamic — entropy. That’s why even in its final stage of consumer society, modernity is nothing but a traditional society of a specially modified sort. Truth be told, modernity has not accomplished its task to negate premodernity. It became a logical extension of the latter.
What do pre-modernity and modernity have in common? Centralized vertical hierarchies constitute the main unifying principle of all societies known to us from human history. An archaic tribe, a theocratic empire, a communist dictatorship, a democratic republic all are built upon the centralization of both power and economy in varying degrees. All those socio-political systems imply the division into elites and plebs. All of them ground their economies on a monopoly over money creation. Thus, centralization in a broad sense can be recognized as the core unifying feature of all societies belonging to both paradigms.
In contrast to them, the very pathos of postmodernity implies all possible decentralization and dissociation. Of course, postmodernity is as rooted in modernity as the latter is in premodernity. Just like modernity, it declares a negation of a previous paradigm. But in contrast to modernity, the future paradigm has a different goal-setting that is a total decentralization allowing to build a horizontal post-society. And this was not programmatically predefined in modernity.
Once postmodernity originates from the present late modernity, the first seeds of decentralization can be detected in various technical solutions we use today. All of them are focused around the main driver of the future post-social order — the internet. We have already considered freedom of creation of discourses provided by the internet-based means of communication. Let’s see how the internet can disrupt the most crucial invention in human history — money.
Money objectifies the values that we constantly exchange in our interactions. The current state of affairs in the present-day hyper-commercialized societies allows people to have nothing except money to survive. Not physical possessions, not intellectual property, not social status, not whatever else but money is the only universal key that is needed only to unlock any door in the present world order.
Money was evolving over the entire civilizational evolution of humankind. Today, thanks to the recent digital technologies we have the most flexible form of money providing us with instant payments in the highly globalized economy — virtual money. What makes digital dollars on our credit cards similar to heavy metal coins of premodernity? They both are centralized.
The main difference is in the redundancy of a physical wallet to hold and use digital money these days. The transnational payment services such as MasterCard and Visa transformed cash into something highly optional and oftentimes redundant. They provided us with a different image of money as a virtual substance residing out there somewhere.
It is hardly imaginable for a pre-digital mind that the very objectification of values — money — can be in some indefinite state, in a superposition speaking technically. This term from a quantum physics most closely defines what we keep in our wallets when we are traveling from Country to Country — money in a superposition, factually not money but just an idea of means of payment.
Can we call cashless payments a reinvention of money? No, we cannot since the very origin of money remains the same. Dollar remains a fiat currency with all inherent pros and cons. It means that banks are staying behind all transactions executed via a superposition of money. Namely, banks control that quantum process which turns an indefinite means of payment into actual dollars, hryvnias, euros, etc. And banks take profit from that quantum transformation, of course.
It seems both parties on opposite sides of the quantum process benefit from it — banks take their fees, we appreciate transactional flexibility. But what about the next stage of money evolution? Is there any space to move other than just expanding the cashless service coverage over those who still have no bank accounts?
Not too many people noticed a revolutionary event that happened in 2009. A genesis block of Bitcoin was created back then. Only a few computer geeks and probably some secret agents could recognize the true decentralization of money that emerged from that event. That was the beginning of a true anti-monarchist revolution in finance and the monarch in the person of the global banking system tightened sphincter nervously. “Revolutions begin in minds, not in streets” as one of the revolutionary leaders of the past used to say. Over a decade, the slow-moving crypto revolution has been occupying the global financial system. Today, almost nobody from the active internet users is left behind the cryptocurrency discourse.
Understanding the difference between a conventional monetary system and cryptoeconomy can help predict which of them has more chances to enter postmodernity.
Historically speaking, a public agreement was determining what would work as a means of value exchange. Millennia ago, people concluded that trading could bring more with a universal unit of price. Rare and, therefore, valuable metals such as gold and silver have been accepted as a conditional equivalent of value for other commodities. Thus, a small piece of gold became equal in price with a big camel or a bunch of pumpkins.
The agreement has revolutionized relationships between tribes and peoples. Voluntary exchange of values based on a widely acceptable equivalent — money — shifted war from a primary position in economic development. People received a chance to gain something without a need to risk their lives.
The invention of money has not eliminated conflicts, however. Nothing unexpected is in it: we know that conflict is a system-engineering process for human civilization. That’s why some nations were betting on trade (Carthaginians) while the other ones were still relying on war (Romans) in international relations. But gradually, the reasons for any war became economic in nature even if they were covered with patriotic or religious slogans.
Hegemony started counting with money. Total commercialization of all covert and overt social relations made money the major engine of progress. Early capitalism in Europe proved the superiority of a financial wealth over nobility. The very modernity is characterized by the dominance of the third estate — merchants. Human history started moving on the wheels of profit.
Both metal coins and paper banknotes were backed with gold that was held in treasuries. Namely gold was providing storage of value while cash was representing gold as some sort of derivatives. No matter which bank — private or National — was issuing money, any currency was backed with gold back then.
Pay your special attention to the fact that money has been capable of making money for centuries. Since the times when the interest rate was invented, such activities as speculation and investment have been widely accepted. However, money as a thing in itself never was independent of its backing gold. Everything changed after World War II when gold became too inconvenient and ponderous for the global financial expansion of the US dollar. Finally, in the 1970s gold has been deprived of the status of universal value storage, it became just another commodity equal to the other tradable goods. And money became derivatives of… what?
Here we need to philosophize a little bit. Whenever we are going to use the money for payment we know…, no, we believe that a mighty National Bank along with State Treasury stays behind the currency we are paying with. What makes us believe in it? Nothing but common sense that suggests trusting the authorities all the other people trust. How can those authorities persuade us that something more precious than just printed paper determines the value of money we use?
Keeping a solid public image is the only proof of respectability the authorities can represent. We have to believe a word they say since no one from common citizens can come and check what treasuries are actually deposited in a National Bank. Discourse appears greater than treasures again. Even though we are talking about the usual situation for the present late modernity, the clear smell of postmodernity is recognizable in it.
Taking into account the fact that dollars, for example, have no backing with gold today, the US currency happens to be a derivative of merely public trust. All the other national currencies are in the same position. It seems the wheel of history turns a full cycle: a pure convention that money is money finds its tangible manifestation in the contemporary national currencies.
If we keep moving along the line of reasoning, any State-issued currency is worth something unless the State appears in trouble. In April 1945, German reichsmark was in the top 10 of European currencies. After May 9, 1945, when Nazi Germany surrendered, the same reichsmark was worth zero. A similar situation happened with Soviet rubles after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991: one of the most stable and highly valued currencies in the world turned into just pieces of paper having only numismatic value.
Neither Germany nor the Soviet Union as geographic objects with all their natural and human-made resources has been annihilated those days. Why their currencies fell down then? Because namely public trust to their central banks disappeared. And this is where we can find a conceptual definition of the conventional (or fiat) currencies:
this is the objectified in both cash and cashless forms public trust to a central money-issuing authority.
Thus, the value of money in today’s world is determined by the trustworthiness of an entity that issues money. And once we all live in a modern Nation-State paradigm, just a public image of a Central Bank in each country allows every particular currency to cost as it costs.
Before approaching cryptocurrencies, we should ask one more question: is public trust a sufficient backing for money?
Despite a seemingly obvious answer (if the trust-backed dollar is a global currency what more proof do we need?), the question is hardly idle in the light of the so-called Basel-3 banking regulatory framework. In 2019, that international document brought the status of a storage of value to gold back after many decades when gold was one of the tradable commodities. Undoubtedly, that was for a reason once the Bank of International Settlements (Central Bank of Central Banks) issued such a document.
It is illustrative that the first draft of Basel-3 appeared in 2009 — the same year when a genesis block of Bitcoin was created. The very fact that National Banks need gold again hints at some tectonic movements covertly occurring in the global banking system. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, to quote Shakespeare. Probably, the word of mouth stating that dollar (euro, yuan, pound, ruble — you name it) was unshakable started losing its persuasive power for public consciousness.
It became especially apparent after the economic crisis of 2008 when many governmental entities revealed their inability to protect people from financial bubbles and bank arbitrariness. Both common people and financial institutions faced a need in something other than a primitive printing of money. Such an approach stopped providing a strong public trust any longer. Especially in the days, when an utterly different system of public consensus was gaining momentum.
Nobody knows exactly who is an actual creator of Bitcoin. We know only the name of a person (or a group of persons) who first published a document with a comprehensive description of a permission-less decentralized censorship-resistant system of cryptographically protected transactions via the internet — Satoshi Nakamoto. Various imposters who appear from time to time do not sound convincing enough for the global crypto community.
And this fact is one of the strongest arguments for conspiracy theorists when they talk about the CIA, FBI, or any other intelligence agency that might have a hand in creating the first cryptocurrency. A particular grain of truth is available in those arguments: unless the contrary is proved, even the North Korean intelligence service cannot be excluded.
Here we meet the first critical feature that makes Bitcoin absolutely different from ordinary money. If Russian ruble, for example, needs to be clearly originated from the Central Bank of Russian Federation to stay a trustworthy currency (at least for Russian citizens), Bitcoin needs no official authority to confirm its authenticity. No sanctification from any governmental entity is necessary to make Bitcoin valid.
A special purely technical method of public consensus (proof-of-work) provides Bitcoin with the trust of its users on a level of computer code. Bitcoin is not just another version of digital money. It is a special protocol of interactions on the internet. Bitcoin as a system belongs to nobody, but anybody can use it for making transactions. The longer Bitcoin stays without a legal owner, the stronger the trust of users it obtains.
A legend about the origin of Bitcoin must stay just a legend to keep Bitcoin invulnerable. If I were Satoshi Nakamoto, I would never disclose my identity whatever personal benefits it could bring. Bitcoin remains the only independent crypto just because it is alienated from any particular creator. If some State authority wants to ban Bitcoin, no certain physical entity to whom it should be applied could be found. Such a unique resilience of the first cryptocurrency is possible as long as Satoshi Nakamoto remains anonymous. But despite a mythical story of Bitcoin’s creation an utterly alternative approach to money in the form of cryptocurrencies appeared a decade ago in fact.
There are thousands of coins and tokens on today’s crypto market. However, the truly mass adoption of crypto is still expected to come. A total market capitalization of all cryptos can be likened to an annual turnover of just an average stock exchange, or to one-third of the market capitalization of Microsoft, for example. That’s why big words from many crypto optimists about an equal competition between cryptos and fiat currencies are highly exaggerated. Not volumes and turnovers but the very ideology of cryptoeconomy should be considered when we compare it with a conventional financial system.
Crypto introduces a new postmodern discourse making two basic types of modernity-inherent mindsets irrelevant. Modernity with its atavistic Nation-State order in which we have been living since the 16th century is as obsolete as the present monetary system that has no significant alterations for about 100 years. The mentality of the present consumers who follow the mindset of elites is a reliable protection for a global banking system. A very insignificant number of users are capable of making an independent reflection on decentralized money. And there is a serious reason for it.
In the 19th century, Friedrich Hegel proposed an idea that the lower classes could never possess their own thinking. They had to borrow discourse from the upper classes. In other words, slaves perceive the world through the prism of consciousness of their lords.
Another great philosopher of modernity Karl Marx took up the idea to develop comprehensive teaching about the socially conditioned discourses. He showed that two basic strata — the oppressed and the oppressors were always sharing the discourse of the oppressors. And that was the reason for the social injustice from which the oppressed had no way out unless they gave up thinking with the thesaurus of the oppressors.
Marx explained the necessity to investigate each discourse for figuring out who was the end beneficiary in each case. Both topics and opinions on them within every discourse could reveille the interests of a particular stratum. He proposed the oppressed to invent their own discourse independent from one of the oppressors. The avant-garde Marxist dialectics has provided people from the lower classes with unique hermeneutic clues to understand the mentality of both elites and plebs. The specific discourse of the oppressed was developed by the communist movements in the 20th century.
It wouldn’t be legitimate to claim that the discourse of the oppressed failed together with its primary carriers — the communists. Many postulates of the so-called civil society in the present liberal order are largely based on the idea of social justice rooted in the discourse of the oppressed. However, the discourse of lords keeps dominating in the current liberal capitalism. It continues to mislead the lower classes by drawing images of various “self-made” individuals who succeed despite their lowborn background.
The majority of common people are still holding out much hope for a better life due to the implanted false consciousness which appreciates the society of “equal opportunities” with all inherent health insurance, expensive education, career progression, pension funds, and so on. Almost a couple of centuries after the days of Marx, the so-desired social equality remains elusive, but hope dies last, as we know.
What fresh impetus does cryptoeconomy bring to the old opposition between the oppressed and the oppressors? Being a part of the emerging postmodernity, crypto denies both discourses. The postmodern discourse is hyper tolerant in general. It is even post-tolerant in terms of any kind of truth-seeking. Postmodernity equally appreciates various polar extremes denying their right for the truth of the highest instance.
A good example of a post-tolerant approach is religion. It is great if you believe in God, as postmodernists say, but if someone believes is science instead, no problem. None of you is right, but none of you is wrong as well. It is nobody’s business which truth you select as a driver of your personal life. Postmodernity does not deny the existence of God, but at the same time, it has nothing against atheists. The post-tolerance makes the problem of God irrelevant. Neither the existence of God nor His non-existence is a problem for postmodernists anymore.
Cryptoeconomy deals with the discourses of both the rich and the poor in the same manner. They both are irrelevant when monopoly over money creation does not belong to central banks any longer. If nobody can control the development of the utterly new financial system, how can we follow the outdated social stratifications? If our traditional wealth status means nothing in the decentralized environment of crypto, who cares how much fiat money we hold on our bank accounts? If cryptocurrencies are resilient to any repressive decision of any authority on both international and national levels, what ruling elite can we talk about?
Once crypto reflects a totally nihilistic approach to social hierarchies, both modest capitalization of the crypto market and relatively insignificant adoption of crypto by the world population seems explainable. The global establishment is confused and cannot decide what to do with crypto. The overwhelming mass of plebs who imitates thinking of lords follows the elites in their crypto ignorance. Despite the fact that thousands of crypto bloggers on the Internet continuously add numerous arguments in favor of crypto before fiat currencies, the centralized monetary system keeps dominating over world finances. This indicates that modernity and cryptoeconomy have no interdependent destinies.
This is about people’s trust. The present financial system is going to screw over the world population once again. It will happen in any case not because the system is managed by some horrible reptilians but because the very “bubblenomics” is destined to a self-destruction ab initio. If somebody blows a bubble, it will burst sooner or later — the very essence of “bubblenomics” is in it. But the world financial oligarchy is doing its utmost to persuade the global population otherwise. Blowing up financial bubbles is supplemented with puffing up the cheeks of bankers and bureaucrats. While the chewing majority still keeps taking it as a tranquilizer, the thinking minority cannot be mesmerized by such a primitive populism.
Besides, a booming digital revolution of the first decade of the 21st century added fuel to the process. The always-connected gadgets along with proliferating social networks hinted at some alternative approach to a public trust potentially achievable through information technologies.
Originated from a darknet, crypto-anarchy sentiments started gradually seeping into a public blogosphere. All that stuff was overlapping with the growing distrust towards a conventional banking system which clearly revealed its predatory nature during the latest economic crisis.
Hence, decentralized network-based money was destined to appear sooner or later. This was not about trivial usability. This was about people’s trust.
What is the most revolutionary feature of Bitcoin in terms of public trust? It can be defined by analogy with a famous gangsters’ cliche “the best cop is a dead cop”. So, the best way to define what kind of trust is provided by crypto would be to claim: “the strongest trust is its redundancy”. In other words, you do not need to trust anybody when you pay in Bitcoin.
It is possible because every user of the Bitcoin network can see all transactions while the very technology upon which the network runs validates them. At the same time, nobody can change anything in the records made in a distributed ledger of Bitcoin. This is technically impossible. Hence, an infamous human factor with all its requisites is powerless against crypto. The entire twisted logic of discretionary human decisions does not work on blockchain.
Once any transaction in crypto does not require verification from any bank, the mediation role of the global banking system appears meaningless. Redundancy of any middleman is what crypto enthusiasts call the permission-less peer-to-peer mode of interaction.
Just look at the inverted model of interactions on blockchain in comparison with the conventional financial system: anybody at any moment can get access to all available records in a distributed ledger (blockchain) while a revision of deposits at any State Treasury is strictly prohibited for common people. In the latter case, people have to believe a word that bankers say.
“Take no one’s word, just check yourself” is a nihilistic principle upon which the whole crypto anarchy runs. Instead of leveraging the trustworthiness of related financial institutions crypto-economy bets on peer-to-peer relationships of all users within a transparent digital technology — blockchain. Many crypto activists call blockchain the “Internet of Money”. But the more precise definition is to be the “Internet of Distrust”. The “distrust” in such a context paradoxically means maximally possible reliability based on knowledge instead of belief.
A conceptual comparison of ordinary cashless transactions with crypto ones can be expressed with a clear difference in meaning between two verbs: “to suppose” and “to know”. Crypto users know exactly what happens with their funds in each transaction while ordinary payers have to blindly trust their banks. Needless to point out the system which better fits the nuclear hyper-individualism of postmodernity.
The largest problem of crypto nowadays is its dependence on fiat currencies. Due to it, crypto cannot be considered a purely postmodernist solution. The value of Bitcoin is calculated in US dollars. It determines crypto to be dependent on the traditional financial markets. And a more or less serious storm in a global economy demonstrates the dependence clearly. The challenge is to make crypto invulnerable to the pains of a centralized financial system. The scheme should be reversed: not Bitcoin is to be evaluated with dollars but vice versa.
It can happen when goods and services are paid in Bitcoin with no regard to its exchange rate to dollars. But first, very significant paradigm changes should emerge not only in finance but in all aspects of social life. And the greatest change should happen in human thinking. As in the case of Marxist dialectics of the discourse of the oppressed and oppressors, crypto discourse should maximally distance itself from the mentality of obedient consumers. It seems to require much more time than it was needed for the purely technical implementation of crypto into the internet.
Let’s get back to the issue of values. How odd it may sound, the Internet is the most reliable storage of value nowadays. Once the Internet belongs to nobody and to everybody at the same time, nothing threats the information kept on the Internet in the form of distributed files. Since any virtual value implies a set of data, the distribution of data over a network provides almost an invulnerable decentralized storage. Here we see how an object is replaced by a process in terms of postmodernity: since the internet is a process all its constituent elements are processes as well. Thus, from a pre-digital idea about a storage-as-an-object, we turn to the present concept of a storage-as-a-process.
Different criteria of reliability are applied to a process than to an object. Any physical property can be stolen, destroyed, arrested, confiscated, seized by raiders, hijacked, etc. This is because any physical property is an object (or a number of objects) to which various processes can be applied beyond the control of its owner. There are a lot of methods both legal and illegal how to dispossess us of our physical assets. Holding money on a bank account does not guarantee its preservation. Moreover, when our money appears in a bank we can safely say goodbye to our funds — we are not the owners of our capital any longer. Banks in the form we know them today are whatever else but not our secure wallets. Even the most secure Swiss banks do not provide banking secrecy: a court decision can make them disclose how much you hold on your account. Besides, your money itself can turn into nothing in an instant as it happened with German reichsmarks and Soviet rubles.
Any offline value storage has a particular point of failure in one or another form. And if so, it always remains vulnerable in principle. Any kind of property is at risk to be forfeited unless it is virtually decentralized. There is no critical difference between holding cash under the mattress and using a cashless bank account in terms of security. In both cases, a great variety of accidents can happen to turn your savings into zero. In both cases, a materialistic vision of property inherent in modernity takes place. And this is what postmodernity disrespects.
Each postmodern individual, everyone who lives and behaves as an independent “person-as-a-project” should have an effective defensive weapon against deprivation of property rights. That’s why postmodernists bet on the internet which happens to be the environment where technology resists any organized power due to the decentralized nature of networks. Any State (and even a group of States) is weaker than the Internet. And within this marvelous virtual space, namely DLT (distributed ledger technology) protocols provide the safest solution for data storage. Since any sort of value is represented in the form of data in digital virtuality, the distribution of data across the network implies decentralized storage of value.
Bitcoin is spread out across thousands of interconnected nodes — the independent computers running on the Internet. A failure of one computer will not result in a collapse of the Bitcoin blockchain. A failure of half of all computers cannot destroy Bitcoin as well. Even if only one node remains working Bitcoin will keep running. It would be necessary to switch off the entire World Wide Web to eliminate Bitcoin. Needless to say that it can be accomplished only through Armageddon. But Armageddon is beyond the agenda of the present consumer society. Besides, in the case of Armageddon, all “real” values will appear in the same situation as Bitcoin.
Many people who are brought up in the paradigm of modernity can be confused by the very term “virtual asset”. They may perceive it as something ephemeral, something having no tangible objectification. And they are right in a certain sense since this is about an electromagnetic process that is a movement of energy, not matter. The ones who are used to feeling crisp dollar bills in hands would be suspicious of cryptocurrencies that circulate only within the internet having no banks in the background. They don’t care about the pure human belief that actually stays behind crispy banknotes. They need to understand which “real” valuables are backing crypto. A popular misconception that only lines of computer code provide Bitcoin’s existence keeps a lot of proponents of “solid values” far away from cryptoeconomy. The defiance of the fundamentals of blockchain is a typical feature of consumers mesmerized by the matrix. In contrast to them, the postmodernity-oriented people can figure out quite a simple backing of crypto on their own.
Energy and capital are the two basic real-world valuables that stay behind Bitcoin. A huge amount of electricity is consumed by validating nodes that support running Bitcoin blockchain. This is what is better known as “mining” — a process of validation of blocks of data along with building a chain of blocks — the blockchain. This pure machine process provides the “human-less” consensus between network users about the authenticity of transactions in Bitcoin. It requires very significant computing power and, therefore, a lot of electric energy has to be consumed. The total power consumption of such a country as New Zealand can be an equivalent.
Since 2009, dozens of billions of dollars have been invested in Bitcoin. Such capitalization is enough to make bitcoin holders confident in a real value inherent in Bitcoin. It is also worth remembering that all those invested billions do not belong to any organization or a person who can be recognized as an issuer of Bitcoin. Otherwise, it would be as risky to trust such a central point of failure as to trust any bank. However, Bitcoin capitalization is spread over the internet and anybody is able to neither steal nor nullify the value of Bitcoin.
In addition to valuables from a “real” world, a strong network effect with millions of users supports Bitcoin with their trust. And we know that public trust is what makes any money valuable.
Thus, we can see some diversified sources that provide Bitcoin with real value. In addition to a strong public trust, Bitcoin is backed by millions of units of hardware that cost a lot. The hardware consumes many Gigawatts of electric power that also cost a lot. Besides, billions of “real” dollars invested in Bitcoin reflect the monetized business value of the cryptocurrency. Dozens of thousands of online crypto exchanges, trading platforms, Bitcoin-specific software, mobile applications, and many other relating crypto projects should be taken into account as well. They all have their own monetized value that is impossible without Bitcoin. Millions of man-hours spent on the internet by Bitcoin users constitute another valuable resource that gives real value to crypto. It seems Bitcoin with is purely virtual origin appears “more real” in many practical aspects than the majority (if not all) of conventional currencies. It is just enough to observe its characteristics to ask: what non-virtual money can offer something similar?
Let’s specify what we have in Bitcoin at the end of the day: an invulnerable inalienable state-agnostic Internet-based virtual asset that is backed by enormous energy and huge capital. The asset that does not require believing in its legitimacy since the whole history of transactions is verifiable by any user at any moment. Besides, Bitcoin has a huge network effect as a unit of value exchange and an online system of transactions simultaneously. What other money than Bitcoin can offer similar transparency, credibility, and immutability? None of the available fiat currencies can, obviously.
Nevertheless, all the above-mentioned features of Bitcoin seem insufficient to show the way by which both a global banking system and a commercial sector are going to move. There are two aspects related to such reluctance. One of them is inherent in a usual modus operandi of the conventional entrepreneurship of modernity. Another one relates to how things go in postmodernity.
The first aspect implies a typical business approach when someone’s particular interests affect the market. We know numerous cases when advanced and feasible technologies have to wait years and years before being adopted by a worldwide audience. Just recollect the roots of a current electric-vehicle boom: more than a century had to pass since the invention of electric cars before a consumer market adopted EVs in mass. The global domination of fossil fuels over the entire 20th century kept a mass implementation of the well-known EV technology beyond a consumer market. Some may laugh at conspiracy theories that claim major petroleum fat cats conspiring against electric vehicles. But imagine Elon Musk with his Tesla cars in the early 1980s. There was no chance for his success back then. Several decades were needed to build a new paradigm logic backed by such trends as the green economy, global warming, and wise consumption to make Tesla’s initiative practically applicable.
A quite similar situation takes place with the cryptoeconomy today. And this is the second aspect that relates to the mental sloth of the majority. The existing banking system is a bottomless feeder for the bureaucratic elites of consumer society. As long as “bubblenomics” allows to milk herbs of the silent majority, the elite will do its best to convince plebs about the reliability of banks, wisdom of presidents, efficiency of the UN, strength of dollars as well as in all other attributes of the liberal world order. The silent majority in their turn won’t be against it since they see how the elite (reference citizens and carriers of a discourse of consumer society) is reluctant with a transition to a new paradigm. Once the order of relationships in postmodernity threatens to change the existing social stratification, nobody from the present powers-that-be is in a hurry to adopt any technology associated with the postmodern horizontal post-society.
However reluctant are the corporate flagships towards cryptoeconomy today, the ongoing transition to a post-economy makes large business structures follow post-liberal trends. Otherwise, they risk lagging behind in the future wealth distribution.
Some transnational techno-giants have recognized the way how to untie their businesses from national currencies. Telegram, Facebook, Amazon along with some other digital behemoths are developing their own crypto assets capable of changing the rules in global financial markets. Crypto attracts corporations with its spirit of real freedom. If you run your business in the US dollar zone, the Fed as an issuer of dollars controls your transactional activity. However strong your business model is, the very issuer of the currency with which your customers pay for your products is always a core point of failure in your business. Freedom of entrepreneurship is a pure convention is such a case. An exemplary use case is a world petroleum sector in which all players dance to the tune of petrodollars. When a company supplies a product and issue a currency to be paid for the product simultaneously the business starts circulating under the full control of the company’s owners. Do you feel the difference?
If the world techno leaders change national currencies for their own crypto, the banking sector as a middleman will appear in a tough situation. It will be necessary to adapt to new conditions urgently not to be left with nothing. By the way, some banks have already issued their own crypto products for internal use. This indicates that the banking sector is moving quietly towards the cryptoeconomy. When it is about survival, obedience to traditional values takes a back seat. Nobody knows how deeply banks dove into crypto actually. Of course, this is not about Bitcoin which cannot be taken over. But such crypto as XRP issued by a bank cartel R3 demonstrates a deep understanding of the subject. Maybe in a decade or so namely banks will become the most ardent supporters of blockchain once they feel that fiat currencies are getting less reliable than crypto. Nothing contradicts the very logic of competition in it.
Blockchain has been under public testing with enthusiastic startups for 8–9 years when some large financial institutions took this technology up. The situation was similar to what happened with EVs — not a voluntary interest, but the very impossibility to ignore blockchain any longer made such banking sharks as JP Morgan Chase (whose private blockchain has already included about 300 banks all over the world) take this train. Can’t beat them, join them, as they say.
For many crypto enthusiasts, only one thing remains unclear about the global adoption of crypto: who will gain leadership in this race: national governments or transnational corporations. What should be understood under “mass adoption”? It does not mean that cryptocurrencies must replace fiat money. At least in the nearest perspective. There are enough highly specific niches where both types of currencies can compete through a mutually beneficial balance.
But we have to cool the ardor of crypto idealists. Banks and corporations are moving toward cryptoeconomy in a specific way about which common people have no idea most probably. The thing is that all corporate crypto assets along with upcoming national cryptocurrencies (Crypto RMB is to appear any day as the Chinese central bank states) imply a simulacrum in fact. They all are to be created under the principle of a centralized economy of modernity. The only difference is in the form of a carrier — not paper, but a blockchain technology. Thus, this is just about a more flexible edition of the same centralized money. They will be deprived of the very spirit of the decentralized postmodern economy — the absence of any owner like in the model of Bitcoin. It means that neither Facebook’s Libra nor Chinese crypto-RMB will get rid of their central points of failure since they have centralized managerial authorities with all inherent vulnerabilities. In contrast to them, Bitcoin limits nobody’s freedom once there is no central master who controls Bitcoin.
This is not postmodernity, this is the same “bubblenomics” of modernity shifted into a bit-standard. The value of any centralized crypto is limited by the capabilities of its issuer. That’s why the value is conditional as in the case of any conventional money. If something wrong happens with the owner of Libra — Facebook, it will automatically affect Libra up to total zeroing its value (remember Reichsmark).
However, a more clear marker of liberal modernity in all centralized currencies (no matter fiat or crypto) is that all of them imply another form of a collective identity. And this is exactly what a fully independent individual of postmodernity cannot accept. Postmodern individuals hate the potential dependence of their own private economies from any owner of means of payment no matter whether it can be a national bank or a transnational corporation. Postmodern individuals do not need any form of a collective identity including money the destiny of which depends on the arbitrariness of those who issue the money.
Another interesting topic that still haunts many crypto enthusiasts remains to discuss. Is there some conspiracy behind crypto? Is there a hidden plan of the world elite regarding crypto?
In the usual sense, no conspiracy is available. Otherwise, something other than a current competition would take place between crypto and fiat, between centralized blockchains and decentralized ones, between blockchain-oriented financial institutions and conservative banks, between token-centric digital giants and the rest transnational corporations. Real conspiracy happens in a different way, the way all of us are familiar with. The true conspiracy stays behind the decisions made somewhere in senior offices, decisions whose authoritarian nature is so severe that hopes, opinions, and needs of common people are absolutely beyond any agenda.
Due to such decisions, enormous funds from national budgets are channeled towards warfare against ephemeral terrorists, new taxes occur under the umbrella of the global warming, national currencies lose their gold backing, trading wars are waged, and many other stupid and evil things happen due to such conspiracy decisions. Powerful propaganda from official media always follows such a discourse. Not a technology but interested personalities stay behind the development of those decisions. “So by their fruits, you will get knowledge of them” as stated in scripture.
It is much easier to imagine conspiracy against crypto, not behind it. Various elites conspire against decentralized money with the help of baseless allegations and bans arranged through inadequate regulatory frameworks. Governmental entities in many Countries would do anything to prevent common people from becoming more financially independent when they benefit from the state-agnostic cryptoeconomy. Conspiracy against crypto is expressed in numerous insane opinions of various experts and investment gurus whose fear-mongering discourse equates crypto with Ponzi schemes and financial bubbles.
Any conspiracy at its core is too human and utterly inhumane at the same time. What other than conspiracy can be further from crypto whose human-free technology is very humane towards common people?
The postmodernist discourse of cryptoeconomy does not urge all 7.8 billion individuals on this planet to give up believing in fiat money, national states, and whatever else they are used to believing. Crypto offers to address the problem of trust from another angle. Rather sooner than later humanity will face a problem of evaluation of everything that can be evaluated. What will we use as equivalents of value in the global post-financial sector? Do we really need to continue believing in the mythical power of conventional money?
Cryptocurrencies should not be taken as a “take it or leave it” proposition. Such a dogmatic approach would contradict the unlimited freedom of choice propagated by postmodernity. Crypto is just one of many possible options. This is rather a transitional model than a finished post-monetary system (not for nothing it emerged in the current paradigm shift). Who knows to what extent of healthy nihilism the future post-society can come. But it is never too early to consider every possible alternative for the present-day “bubblenomics” ready to burst at any moment.