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Whispers of Ancient Wisdom: Crypto and CBDCs

Tristram for Bitvo | Feb 24, 2023

Ancient wisdom - Whispers of Ancient Wisdom:  Crypto and CBDCs

What is civilization?  The answer, of course, is highly contextual.  Your answer will be based on what you believe. 

  • You may have been taught that civilization was a progression from hunter-gatherer to agricultural revolution to industrial revolution. And this progression is precisely the narrative behind the concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this version, the state is the ultimate form of civilization. Here, people are units in the vast enterprise of the nation. This managed economic model is the idea behind the CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currencies).
  • On the other hand, we might have another vision of civilization. This idea of civilization is that human beings have always been intelligent and sophisticated in their political and economic arrangements. In this vision, people assemble, debate, and structure their associations in a way that counteracts the various ills of central authority. Authority is tempered with various informal checks and balances.
  • These are like the core principles of crypto. And in 2023, we are seeing the start of the existential battle for the world play out. CBDCs are a visible manifestation of this battle. And the appearance of crypto represents something much deeper than merely a form of currency or payment system. It could be argued that it’s a reflection of ancient wisdom.

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  • CBDCs are a digital control grid:  A Central Bank Digital Currency is a centralized control grid controlled by the central bank of a nation. It is designed to facilitate trade and remittances. But it is also designed to express power through the ability to control how and where remittances can be used and exchanged.
    • This isn’t cash converted into electronic money.
    • This is an entire system of governance facilitated by digitizing value exchange and placing it in control of one entity. It’s a digital centralized control grid. Augustin Carstens of the BIS (Bank of International Settlements) has said so publicly.
    • While it will look like each country is developing a separate fiat like CBDC, it’s also programmable money. Which begs the question, how hard would it be to convert every national CBDC into one supranational CBDC under the control of the BIS?
  • Crypto, by design, is the antithesis of a control grid:  Crypto gives users the ability to opt out of the national payment infrastructure. You can exchange value and interact freely with whomever you please, when and wherever you please. As a result, the user is avoiding numerous toll booths in various peer-to-peer exchanges. The system can be utilized as a storage system or a payment system allowing you a certain freedom.

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  • Freedom is ancient wisdom: In the book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, David Graeber and David Wengrow take you on a journey of ancient peoples and traditions. They ask important questions about the origins of equality, freedom, and the state.  As I read this book, I thought about how crypto, in a sense, embodies some of the core principles of the ancient Americas. Although the narratives and arguments around crypto have at times muddied the core principles of the innovation by focusing on the pursuit of capital gains.
    • The book describes three specific rights that the various people of the Americas held up to the 17th century.  Wengrow and Graeber described these rights as “the freedom to relocate or move away from one’s surroundings, the freedom to disobey orders and commands given by others, and the freedom to shape entirely new social realities or to shift back and forth between different ones.”

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