“The state needs to be strong and autonomous enough to ensure the rule of law…to avoid being the captive of the interests of dominant group. However, the power of the state needs to be counterbalanced by the organizational strength of civil society to make democracy possible.”
– John D. Stephens, UN Project on Social Policy and Democratization –
Blockchain Applications for Democracy
The Power of The Individual
A United Nations Project on Social Policy and Democratization written 20 years ago maintains the structure of the state and its relation to society are crucial for maintaining a democracy. A state needs to be strong, but autonomous enough to ensure the rule of law without becoming overbearing. It must also avoid the stranglehold of dominant groups, corporate lobbyists, or special interest. Fundamentally, rights should belong to an individual, not the masses. All in all, the people must trust the state and its authority to make binding decisions without becoming a monopoly. A state must not be so strong and autonomous from all social forces as to overpower civil society and rule without accountability.
In the words of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess of things. They always run out of other people’s money.”
So, how have we come to believe that big government is the solution to everything? Can we right this sinking ship? The answers lie in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and blockchain technology that put power back in the hands of individuals.
Unjust Economic Power
Regardless of a country’s size or population, its constitution determines its ability to govern. In Marxist philosophy, the bourgeoisie is the ruling class of two basic classes. One consists of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and employers. The other class is the working class the first class exploits. Simply put, one person owns the business of production while the other person works for the first. The societal concerns of the business class are the value of property and the preservation of capital that ensure economic supremacy in perpetuity.
Invention and innovation are elements of human nature. Utilizing employment, time, training, and experience, the working class can break away from the bourgeoisie to compete with the ruling class in a free market. The free market is an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations. Assets are not owned exclusively by cooperatives or the state. A strong working class allows itself to fracture. Spurred by entrepreneurial spirit, a segment of the class can create a new bourgeoisie. Further, this segment may even create an entire industry for another type of working class.
New Organizational Structures
Mark Pascall is the co-founder of BlockchainLabs New Zealand (NZ) and president of the Blockchain Association NZ. He believes the blockchain space is more than just a new technology layer. Blockchain is a “fundamentally different way for organizations and societies to operate”. It is a technology that represents a historical reversal of the movement toward an evermore centralized society. In a recent interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Pascal stated, “The major problem is, that without mass decentralization, we get a bigger and bigger wealth disparity between the rich and the poor,” or the “bourgeoisie.”
Despite the warnings of the 1991 United Nations Project, government leaders and their policies have been shifting towards a more centralized society. Owing to the World Wide Web, this trend is accelerating at an alarming rate. The “powers that be” have granted other “powers to be” an unfair advantage, allowing them become global monopolies. Today, five or six companies own alarming amounts of data, wealth, and control. It is these companies that are shaping public awareness with hidden algorithms. They are managing, even manipulating, the information we consume.
Fairness and Equality
Pascall hopes blockchain technology will cause these monopolies to be undone. This way we can create “a better, fairer, more equitable society.” It is an outlook that explains why so many are passionate about the potential of the blockchain space. Blockchain carries potential to shift power away from some of the world’s most extreme monopolies. New structures are to create a more open, community-driven, spaces of decentralization. They are vital in getting all of us to a more “equitable and fair place.”