It’s ANZAC Day weekend.
One of the best days of the year.
This year is a special one for me. I’ll get to see my daughter march with my old man for the first time. She’s 12 and has always taken an interest in grandad’s time in the army.
He was conscripted as a 21-year-old and did 12 months in Vietnam, his time cut short by a bullet in the foot in a jungle battle with the Viet Cong.
He never talked to me about that experience. But the generation gap frees up the memory and loosens the tongue, if just a little. He tells her much more than I ever heard.
Of course, the date is a celebration of the coming of age of a nation. Yes, it’s strange that we commemorate our performance in battle as a coming-of-age moment. But it’s not about glorifying war. It’s about your character under extreme stress. You only learn about who you really are when there is a lot on the line. And war is the ultimate expression of that.
If there was any doubt about the national character following the failed Gallipoli landing and the evacuation eight months later, it was dispelled on ANZAC Day 1918.
That was when a fierce pre-down counterattack on the strategic village of Villers-Bretonneux, in Northern France, drove the Germans out and turned the tide of the First World War.
The war was also the end of individual freedoms, and the beginning of the role of the state. Prior to 1914, for example, you could travel without a passport. Gold was money and governments and central banks had not worked out how to destroy it yet.
The US was still only an emerging power. While there was certainly corruption, it was not rotten to the core as it is today.
And as for Australia? I shudder to think what the original diggers would think of our current crop of ‘leaders’.
In a pre-First World War world, everything was more decentralised and local. The family unit, the local community, the local church…
You looked after yourself and your family and didn’t expect help from the State. For the most part, you preferred the State to stay out of your business. And you’d never even heard of a central bank…
The good news is that we’re likely on a slow shift back to decentralisation. If you read my essay yesterday, you’ll know that blockchain technology is a big part of that. This is the technology that will be the foundation of a new monetary system. It will remove the need for ‘trusted’ (read: corrupted) middlemen, and much more.
So today I’m including an essay from Mike Krieger, who writes the Liberty Blitzkrieg blog. Mike’s written a lot on this topic. And he’s agreed to republish his essay in The Rum Rebellion. You can find the original essay here.
The Future Must Be Decentralised and Localised
By Michael Krieger
We find ourselves at a moment where the financial and political systems that have dominated for decades are failing in a spectacular and irredeemable fashion. Those who pull the levers are (as usual) attempting to take advantage of the situation by rapaciously snatching and consolidating more wealth and power, while leaving the general public to rot. When faced with such a historic moment, one should assume a certain degree of responsibility to make sure the next paradigm ends up better than the one we’re leaving. If we fail to think deeply about an improved vision and framework for the future, someone else will do it for us.
From my perspective, humanity remains stuck within antiquated paradigms that generally function via predatory and authoritarian structures. We’ve been taught — and have largely accepted — that the really important decisions must be handled in a centralised manner by small groups of technocrats and oligarchs. As a result, we basically live within feudal constructs cleverly surrounded by entrenched myths of democracy and self-government. We’d prefer to be lazy rather than take any responsibility for the state of the world.
We’re now at a point where simply recognising current structures as predatory and authoritarian isn’t good enough. We require a distinct and superior political philosophy that can appeal to others likewise extremely dissatisfied with the status quo. My belief is humanity’s next paradigm should swing heavily in the direction of decentralisation and localism.
Decentralisation and localism aren’t exactly the same but can play well together and offer a new path forward. The simplest way to describe decentralisation to Americans is to look at the political framework laid out in the US Constitution.
As discussed in the 2018 piece, ‘The Road to 2025 (Part 4) — A Very Bright Future If We Demand It’:
‘At the federal level, a separation of powers between the three branches of government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial was a key component of the Constitution. The specific purpose here was to prevent an accumulation of excessive centralised power within a specific area of government…
‘Beyond a separation of powers at the federal level, the founding founders made sure that the various states had tremendous independent governance authority in their own right in order to further their objective of decentralised political power.’
Localism takes these Constitutional ideas of political decentralisation and pushes them further, by viewing the municipality or county as the most ethical and logical seat of self-governance. The basic idea, which I tend to agree with, is that genuine self-government does not scale well. A one-size-fits-all approach to governance not only ends up making everyone unhappy, it also entrenches a self-serving political and oligarchical class at the top of a superstate which makes big decisions for tens, if not hundreds of millions, with little accountability or oversight. This is pretty much how the world functions today.
While localism implies relative political decentralisation, decentralisation is not always localism. One of the best examples of this can be found in bitcoin. Unlike traditional monetary policy, which is handled in a top-down manner by a tiny group of unelected technocrats working on behalf of Wall Street, there’s no bitcoin politburo. There’s no CEO, there’s no individual or organisation to call or pressure to dramatically change things out of desire or political expediency. The protocol is specifically designed to prevent that. It’s designed to operate in a way that makes all sorts of people uncomfortable because they’re used to someone ‘being in control’. We’ve been taught that centralisation works well, but the reality is political and economic centralisation concentrates power, makes the public lazy and ultimately winds up in a state of authoritarian feudalism.
Bitcoin also demonstrates how decentralisation and localism, though not quite the same, can complement one another well in an interconnected planet. Imagine a world where governance is largely occurring at a local level, but global trade remains desirable. You’d want a politically neutral, decentralised and permissionless money to conduct such transactions. Similarly, a free and decentralised internet allows the same sort of thing in the realm of communications. Regions that can’t grow coffee will still want coffee, and people in New York will still want to chat with people in Barcelona. Decentralised systems allow for the best of both worlds — localism combined with continued global interconnectedness.
The big question all of us should be asking ourselves right now is: When should small groups of people be making extremely important decisions for the masses? My answer would be almost never, yet that’s the world most of us live in irrespective of which nation-state we call home.
The pendulum has swung so far in the direction of centralisation, oligarchy and authoritarianism that the whole thing is breaking down under its own weight. Those in charge are doing everything possible to keep it going in that same direction, but we can’t let that happen. What we need is a new era defined by decentralisation and localism.
If you enjoyed this post and Michael Krieger’s work in general, visit his Support Page where you can donate to his efforts.
Editor, The Rum Rebellion
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