This morning, bypassing the dull routine, I had directly dived into the seething pool of unhackneyed minds’ outgivings on Medium and ran into an article that seized my attention: "Why Everyone Missed the Most Mind-Blowing Feature of Cryptocurrency." I ingested the text for breakfast and by the lunchtime had already formed my response. So, what does the author consider the most mind-blowing feature of cryptocurrency? I wish he let us know the answer somewhere at the beginning of the 16-minute long read, but alas. And I won’t be indulgent either.
The author serves us with a brief history of money: “how it was before crypto,” – I assumed. Wrong. “How it still is and will be,” – unless someone comes up with a better concept. Apparently, this is exactly what the author is trying to do, but first, let’s take into consideration the existing lie of the land.
“They [the kings of the ancient world] turned shiny metal into coins, paid their soldiers and their soldiers bought things at local stores. The king then sent their soldiers to the merchants with a simple message: “Pay your taxes in this coin or we’ll kill you.””
In other words, the rulers have always had an absolute monopoly on printing money, so basically, anyone who dared to take the initiative in their hands gets destroyed. The author, Daniel Jeffries, compares these initiators to snakes whose heads will be inevitably cut off and that’s when the end comes.
For anybody but the one who created cryptocurrency.
Meet the Hydra: the serpentine described in Greek and Roman mythology, which we are bringing up for its ability to regrow and double heads previously chopped off. Creating cryptocurrency is a tricky way to print actual money independently from literally anything, and as long as Satoshi, the anonymous essence that has created Bitcoin is 2008, wisely remains unidentified, it is safe. When someone comes out and claims to be Pseudo-Demetrius, his head gets chopped off in one or another way, but new heads keep popping in. Great metaphor, but what made me trip over is – how about other cryptocurrencies and their creators? Don’t we know Vitalik Buterin, at least? Is anyone out there hunting him down for having created alternative money? But let’s keep going and get closer to the subject matter. Daniel names resistance to censorship and violence, triple-entry accounting and decentralization as the mechanisms of the system, though the essential feature has been only hinted of, but never presented.
Now, look at this: “The true power of cryptocurrencies is the power to print and distribute money without a central power.” Right? Sure. But not everything is so obvious. The second part of the statement is what we are here for.
“That power [to distribute money] has always rested with the divine right of kings and nation-states. Until now. Now that right returns to its rightful owners: The people.”
According to the writer, what Satoshi Nakamoto missed was the power to spread that money among people. In fact, the money belongs to a group of miners. And this is the second rock that made me trip over. By this paragraph, I’ve already started catching the scent of the red Hammer and Sickle’s spirit. As a not enlightened enough reader, I started to question myself if I got this right: the author is speaking about the elimination of inequality, but this time – in the virtuality? Is it about the pursuit of the wealthy, again?
I permit myself to miss a significant piece in order to focus on what bothers me the most: “In fact, having a job or getting a loan are the primary methods that people at the bottom of the pyramid get any of the money,” Daniel states. Hold on, but what is wrong with it? “In other words, they trade their current time (with a job) or their future time (with a loan) for that money. It’s just that their time is a limited resource and they can only trade so much of it before it runs out.”
The alternative economy proposed by the author is the one in which “everyone on the network is a miner and nobody can have more than one miner.” Not being convinced I keep reading: “You might be walking along, getting coffee and your phone gets called on to secure the network for a few minutes. After that, it goes right back to sleep. As a reward, you might win new coins for doing nothing but having the application on your phone.”
Basically, you just need to live for a living, right? Sounds like a game, eh? Simple. But gamifying the model of rewarding employees seems to be an entertaining side income, while the author implies to actually replace work with the game. Wow. Fun.
“They are merit-based, tamper-proof, open, voting systems. The meritorious are those who work to advance the network. Blockchains’ open and merit-based markets can replace networks previously run by kings, corporations, aristocracies, and mobs.”, "The game will be changed forever once we find a way to distribute the money far and wide without taking it from anyone else," concludes Daniel. Replacing fiat money with crypto is essentially a concept of making money, controlled by nobody, from nothing.
Reflecting to the idea, I’m not aiming to criticise the author nor defense the classical model, nor fight cryptocurrency. I am throwing out my doubt, my confusion: are we erasing the need for employment by promising a utopian, as for me, the order of things, rebuilding the world around proud and unemployed society?