Written by Nick Ayton
As the song goes “everyone is trying to keep us down….”
Business, government, and society have a big issue: it’s called ‘The Bitcoin Generation’. Bitcoin, blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralization is more than a technology, it is a global movement! It is a structural change to not only commerce but how the resources of our planet will ultimately be shared out. It matters and it will change things, it may even save mankind.
There was an uprising similar to Bitcoin the 1960’s in London (a movement) where the average working man on the street, the young and disintermediated, pushed back. They spoke out as individuals and no longer wanted to conform or be suppressed as part of an obedient crowd. This was a break-out because the UK was stuck in a post-war grey period, a dull society where the powerful liked it that way and social norms encouraged conformist behavior as sheep. This young generation spawned the Beatles, The Who, David Bailey, Twiggy, Vidal Sassoon and Mary Quant – the mother of the mini-skirt suddenly developed a voice. They were part of a liberating movement, an emerging culture that encouraged people to express themselves and they did, and there was nothing the establishment could do about it.
In the sixties, people were tired of the stiff society of their parents who lived through the scarcity of the war years and whose own parents brought them up with draconian Victorian attitudes that forced people to suppress their feelings and encouraged the people to blindly follow the rules without question. This retentive society spawned a new generation who saw the opportunity to make their own way in the world, to break free and not have to follow the rules of the past. Rules decided by the hierarchy of a class system where the ‘establishment’ designed the politics of the time to retain control and limit democracy, just enough to extract more from the people to stockpile wealth.
A decentralized freedom awaits…
The sixties movement was driven by people who wanted to gain control over their lives, make their own decisions, however, the establishment at the time didn’t stand back, it tried to constrain and even quash it. Early adopters vocally expressing new freedoms were arrested and imprisoned, mostly musicians for living a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and maybe just a little for smashing up hotels and taking large amounts of drugs. But the shackles were off and people loved it. Soon to be conjoined in the US where people were demonstrating against injustice, voicing concerns about the Vietnam war and what emerged was a range of fringe movements, ‘flower power’ and free love made easier by the Pill that liberated women to control their sexuality. It was all going on and this is where we are are heading all over again as the people wake up to new freedoms and a future where they have a larger say in how their lives play out…
The parallels between the 1960’s revolution and Bitcoin are uncanny. Bitcoin is again encouraging the ‘permissive society’ fuelled by the underlying decentralized blockchain tech, and led by new heroes who have emerged with rock-star-like profiles led by Vitalik Buterin, Roger Ver, Andreas Antonopolous, Eric Vorhees and many others, pioneers with a voice who are pushing this community forward and cannot be silenced… The revolution is becoming louder as people from all over the globe discover that joining the Bitcoin movement offers new freedoms to control their own finances, their identities and take back control.
Nobody wants a centralized surveillance-based society that is watching your every move, telling you what to wear, how to behave and having control over you. Society is a construct. Play by rules and you will be looked after is a lie! An illusion set by the capitalist few that benefit from keeping the people off balance. And they will argue that someone has to make the decisions, take control and enforce law, as order is necessary, which few would deny. But now they fear the advent of decentralized technology delivering the opportunity to create new models of governance, of decision making and consensus without them. A system that has trust and transparency built in. We are entering a new era that will decide how society will be run and who makes the decisions as what we have today isn’t working.
The sixties set the benchmark for Bitcoin
As a sixties child, I was aware of this loud revolution, the music, the fashion and the different way of thinking, and yes, I hated the Beatles’ and Elvis’ music and still do. But they played their part. It was The Time in the 20th Century to be alive, to be involved, to make your mark as the London scene demonstrated. Even the FBI and MI5 perceived this as an infection as something they had to deal with. A new liberalism, a new permissiveness was sweeping the western world as society broke with post-war years and the young started to shape the world we have today.
“This is our time” – more empowering words from a song. And so, if you know anything about Bitcoin and you get it, like it, own it: you are already part of the Bitcoin Generation and we need you. 50 years from now this time will be seen as a historical landmark, a time when society awoke from an Orwellian dream, when the establishment was rocked, and then everything changed. And yes this time it is different!
The power of sending money to someone without going through a central banking system is profound, a transaction that cannot be tampered with by dark forces. Be under no illusion: Bitcoin has rocked the people in power to their core, and they don’t know what to do next.
Society will structurally change
I have been in technology for over 4 decades and seen mainframes, minicomputers, the PC revolution and the birth of networking (from its packet switching roots) and then the internet. Each had a profound impact on peoples’ behaviors, the nature of their work and productivity and the rules of the bigger game that is being played out.
What I have learned is the blockchain technology offers a structural transformation to society both good and bad. Previously, technology has been held back by those that feed the hierarchy of power, making the tech conform rather than unleash its potential. Where core systems were designed around draconian tax, legal and accounting structures have since strangled businesses, becoming a centralized ‘system of record’ that forces all parties to keep their own version of the truth. A system that supports the power games of those calling the shots, as this is what it was designed for. A system based on post-industrial revolution structures entering mass manufacturing where the nature of work was designed and packaged to be measured in a hierarchy that became the school of management for almost 100 years. It infected all businesses with frictional costs, a landscape for politics and imposing layers of unnecessary management. A generation of worthless and unnecessary jobs backed by regulation to make sure certain people had a role and could drink from the trough.
Insurance products designed to be sold through layers of distribution, salespeople and brokers. Then, my favorite parasites: the Independent Financial Advisor. How much profit margin is in a product designed to feed these layers, pay the commissions and allow misselling on mass? Insurance is one big ‘Ponzi Scheme’ as it is predicated on new money coming into the top to pay out at the bottom, if it pays out at all. Pensions are another example of a failed product, a scam. Then we have mortgages, another failed product that robs people and medical insurance designed to be sold and not claimed, aimed at the people with money.
Bitcoiners are unemployable
There are a couple of issues. When people realize they have been sold a lie and Bitcoin offers something different, they want to take back control. The liberation journey begins offering new tools to create your own economy, be your own bank and to trade the value you hold, without friction. This is the crypto way. The Millennials don’t want to work 9-5 sitting in an office, or commute to work. They demand the flexibility to do other things and live an entirely different lifestyle with many becoming ‘digital nomads’.
I witnessed my dad commute for 35 years every day, missing out on so much, and as a child, I only saw him only on the weekends. The labor force has changed and big companies don’t know how to deal with it, attract and retain talent because, for this generation, working for a large company represents the ‘treadmill’ that you get on, that burdens you with financial obligations, that never stops until you retire and then die.
Then we have Generation Z, they have few social skills, can’t look you in the eye and many have ‘digital dementure’ which will have a profound impact on the workforce. It is all changing before our very eyes. Technology liberates the information making everything accessible, something some states don’t like (China, North Korea) as governments that concentrate power more than the western economies (who do allow allegedly free markets to work and for some to make money) and ‘extraction economy’ preferring to keep the people dumb and in the dark as they rely on “ignorance to be strengthened” and for government, this means they embed it.
All at once
Bitcoin is part of a tech wave that I call all at once, and where the Bitcoin blockchain is one of several technologies that by themselves will have a profound impact: Deep learning, Virtual Reality, Quantum Computing, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and therefore the magnitude of change we can expect will dwarf anything we have seen so far. I have some idea of the impact of these technologies but all at once in a decentralization model is the most interesting and the most scary, for some.
Think: elitism, the establishment, the upper class, royalty – these are intertwined through history with politics that set the rules, make laws and decide how they want the people to behave. These constructs are all centralized, like managing a business where hierarchy within a capitalist system allows the resources and wealth to be owned by a handful and dictates the dissemination of power that flows from top to bottom of any organization. That is until you build a decentralized or autonomous (DAO) business where rules, consensus, and decisions are handled differently. Where responsibility and benefits are shared and behavior is set by consensus.
Where do we go from here?
I wanted people to understand the potential of this technology and why I go from country to country evangelizing about Bitcoin and the blockchain, its use, its liberating power and encouraging people to get involved.
Whether people like it or not, if you were an adult on 3rd Jan 2009 when the first 50 BTC was mined and a few were sent from Satoshi’s wallet to Hal Finney (thought by some to be Satoshi anyway) you became part of the Bitcoin Generation. Like turning 18 in the sixties, this is your ticket to the best show in the world.
When the people of the western world find out they have been sold a lie, when the unbanked find out they can build new commerce and create a life for themselves, when accountability through transparency will call out governments that lie and distort the facts, where the truth about climate change is revealed, they cannot hold back renewable energy or allow organisations to tamper with our food chain. The chain’s come off.
The politics of government has no accountability. Too many things decided behind closed doors. Too many lies by those with vested interests fed by a capitalist model that is fundamentally ‘unsafe’… It is Bitcoin’s time to shine, although in Act I Scene II we expect the Bitcoin Generation to do great things and I look forward to ACT 5 Scene IV of the story in the years to come.
“Ignorance is what they rely on, don’t feed it!”