Can Blockchain End War
This is a very difficult premise to start with. Can a technology solve the problem of war?
The plague of large scale violence is the manifestation of most of the world’s worst vices as a single catastrophic man-made event. Many intelligent people have opined on the causes of war over the years with few coming up with ideas and zero defining concrete solutions to those problems. The best we have come up with is “humane” ways to conduct war. We dip in and out of periods of peace, but as a collective species, we are unable to build a system that can sustain peace indefinitely and have instead just assumed that man’s natural state is that of war.
This treatise is quite verbose. Go to Blockchain - Game Changer below for a shortened summary.
Bare we with me as this is very unrefined yet.
The Social Contract
John Locke suggested that people in their natural state, (grimy brutish woodland creatures as Hobbes puts it) would willfully give up some of their rights in order to benefit from the value that a collective authority would provide. He asserted that men have ultimate authority to conditionally transfer power over the collective group into a governing executive, and would also have the right to retract this consent and dismantle that government if preservation and improvement of life are no longer the goals of that authority. This Lockian sentiment is familiar to anyone who has studied the US Declaration of Independence.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau attempted to identify and characterize certain artifacts of civil society in which citizens were capable of living above that of their state in nature. He observed that some men are coerced by other men with greater power simply because they had the power to do so. It was generally assumed that because some men can force their will on others that they were right. Force alone does not legitimize power, and that was a strong argument against traditional systems of authoritarian control. It was specifically related to those monarchical systems that oppressed the lower classes.
Rousseau asserted that for a contract system to work, the collective must unanimously agree to an enumerated set of rights, of which they all chose to participate in. In contrast, without uniform and agreed participation one man may agree to give up all rights and unknowingly buy into his slavery upon debt of life.
By changing the demographic of the societal agreement, the community can participate in a way that limits the overarching power of other participants and welcoming less appropriated persons into the group.
A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. - Thomas Jefferson
For these systems to thrive, they must be refreshed with many small local revolutions. It was a dangerous addendum that was necessary for the contract to be healthy and subsequently removed as soon as the authority is established.
The ideas presented by the enlightenment theorists assume a self-centered attitude will be common among all participants. There must be basic respect of natural laws built into the system for it to have ultimate legitimacy. It would be possible to imagine a social system where murder and rape are legal, but to do so one must imagine a collective comprised entirely of sociopaths. Such is the social systems that exist in prisons or 4chan. The idea of an authoritarian dystopia such as those portrayed in Hunger Games, The Purge, or Brave New World would not come out of an initial democratic movement because there is no way a rational collective would introduce that system.
Not everyone will develop the initial outline, but all participants must understand and agree to it based on whether or not it would benefit them, their family and their friends. If all groups seek to preserve the society and themselves, they should come to an agreement on what is best for the collective group.
A Systemic Flaw
If greed or self-seeking advantage is the centralized, self-leveling factor of the social contract, then the entire system is built with a single flaw. It was a gamble that was never appropriately addressed and will always put a shortened shelf life on any system that is based on this type of contract. There will always be opportunities, when advantageous, to change the level of adherence to the contract.
Imagine that society is like a suspension bridge built with the support lines connecting and putting tension on each other in a way that as long as they all do their task and assume that their neighbor will do their task, the weight will be equally distributed. As time passes the authority may choose to alter the bridge and give more structural responsibility to some components and take some from others. If this continues, the bridge will collapse and be replaced. The ability for the contract to change for the advantage of others will eventually displace enough responsibility to erode structural integrity.
I would assert that the flaw in the system is authority of responsibility. It is less about the usurping of power and more with the abdication of responsibility. Responsibility is transferred to a single authority who has the power to protect or change the contract. Once moved it is impossible to recover the lost power.
Assumption of Property
All wealth is the product of labor. - John Locke
Conflict in social systems is usually centered around ownership of private property and the corresponding inequality in the distribution of that ownership. Actors have two goals in the system: to gain more property and to hold existing property. This is a natural and desirable state. The right of self-preservation exists outside of society in the wild, but the significant role of society is to provide an infrastructure to identify and allocate collective properties among the participants.
Industrialization and the migration of workers from the rural landscape into the mechanized city exacerbated the condition where more powerful parties could continuously move wealth from the lesser classes into the classes of people with means to define the rules of production. These upper merchant classes profit from the excess production of the mechanized workforce. They were celebrating this new industrialization by retaining more capital and hence more authority over property.
The age of kings was ending, and the age of the merchant bureaucrat was beginning. The contract system was not designed for this and power moved too quickly into authoritarian systems. Therefore it was being abandoned in Europe for efficient authoritarian systems.
Property Distribution and Allocation
The United States gave a sharp contrast to the old systems of the western European powers. It was a loosely coupled and distributed system of small sovereign states. The states were the domain of the land. Property was liberally dispensed because it was seen to be unlimited. The intention was that the new states were going to provide it to anyone who would use it. The illusion of scarcity was distant, and the value of labor skyrocketed.
The elements required in the great land expansion were simple. An agreement of all parties in the system and the requirement for those taking over the land to produce by that land. Economic forces were to take the land back if it did not produce anything. In contrast, Europe was exiting the feudal system where all land was owned already, and lesser people were giving rights to work the land but not to own it.
Fast forward to now, where virtual property is as abundant as the US territories were in the 1800’s. We all participate in the Internet ecosystem, and we all agree to certain rules. We agree to pay for services, and we agree to keep access to all these services somewhat level. We all use the same protocols and built tools around them. The difference is no longer the property itself but the customers or users of the property. That is a byproduct of consumerism and best left in a separate topic.
Land has a concrete scarcity. There will never be more land. Mined goods have a logarithmic scarcity, and cultivated goods have a linear scarcity based on the ingenuity of the participants. Mined goods are used for money because of known and suspected quantities. We use money to value property. Money is property that can be exchanged for things of value.
Cryptocurrencies have the capability to take on any of the above forces based on the code that lies beneath it. The level of scarcity can be defined arbitrarily based on the needs of the currency. The idea that the new Eastern Blockchain nation of Cryptostan will ever run out of money lives in the minds of the people who formed that country. The same people who can dissolve that country algorithmically if it fits the contract.
The fact that new properties can be launched at any time based on the will of the people eliminates those physical limitations. The micro nation is limited, but overall ecosystem is nearly infinite. The value of the worker is tied to (artificial) scarcity levels, and therefore an arbitrarily defined system is a worker’s system.
Fear Ambition Scarcity and Conquest
Lack of money is the root of all evil. - Mark Twain
Property and the inequality of rights may not be the causality for war but certainly enable and give motivation for war. Conquest is the game of those with enough resources to force their will over that of many people. The requirement for conquering and conquered to engage is for value to be present and reward to be greater than risk of loss.
Here is where scarcity and ambition are put into play against each other. Because one thing is scarce, it will have value. Making something unlimited makes it nearly valueless. We have nearly unlimited air, but it still has value. Providing a system or currency where the resources are unlimited will only alleviate the problem in the short term. The ultimate power is not the ownership of things. Ultimate power is gained by subjugating humans. Economists have been focusing on the wrong characteristics of society. They are incapable of defining where human value lies outside of the ability to labor. It must be defined in social capital and personal value.
A civil system will only be a true proponent for peace when value basis points directly at humanity first. Elevation of human value must exist in the code of the system and should not be overshadowed by subsequent changes. The US Constitution started off trying to assert human values but caved in to pressure over time. Nearly all US laws pertain to property. Not life.
Given the ability to participate in a process that defines our value collectively, an educated citizenry should be able to collectively agree on a way to propel human value forward.
Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote. - Marvin Simkin, San Diego
A society that runs on fear is a society that has an elevated false scarcity. As false scarcity increases so does irrationality, which is required in order to sustain a false scarcity.
Open democratic systems have a flaw in their designs. Having a majority vote does not give the majority the right to destroy human rights of others.
If a contract is written to support the voices of the smallest dissenter, then true safeguards are in place. We all have a responsibility to represent our fellow participant. Maybe this can be called a distributed representation since the contract for responsibility is linked to the overall community rather than the centralized authority.
The term violence does not have to be limited to physical violence. It can be systemic change in a violent manner. Disruption of tradition or normalities is violent. The alteration of the system will cause many social systems to be upset.
When the voice of a minority goes unheard and unrepresented, they will find a way to rise up. The more repressed they are, the more violent their uprising is. It has always been a tactic of the elite to use war as a way to mute the minorities and divert attention to different causes. Again, it may not be a cause of war, but power inequality and war come holding hands.
I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies - Thomas Jefferson
What would happen if the national currency system and privately held debt went to a collective audience that has the ability to vote and control that debt? This is massively violent.
Blockchain - Game Changer
Now that you have made it through all of that let me try to apply some concepts of distributed computing to the problems that exist above.
In the past, it would have been impossible to solve some of the problems that exist inside of social contracts other than the way they did. It is not possible to expect everyone to participate in the writing of every law. That is true democracy, but it is unfeasible. It is also not desirable. Before cheap transit and instant communication, it would have been impossible to be present in all legislative activities.
Below are some social conditions that I hope to align solutions in the distributed computing world
- unequal representation
- weak and limited participation (race/gender/age)
- poorly educated voting class
- lack of faith in the voting system due to fraud or dilution
- corruption of office
- legislative overreach
- credibility loss
Given the above conditions, having been identified and cataloged, it seems logical that, given the emergence of new tools, we may be able to define new social contracts to mitigate those critical issues. The one thing that may give distributed systems a better chance of success over all previous systems is that the critical requirement for those systems to be abolished when rules are broken can now exist.
Strong Valid Representation
Blockchain has the ability to both identify and protect individual identities. That is a key for ensuring equal representation. If you can’t tell who everyone is then why would you assume they are heard. And if they want to represent an unpopular opinion they must also be protected from the mob.
Voting fraud could be a thing of the past. The public ledger should be accessible to any participant for audit.
Guaranteed Participation Ensured Voting Power
The system should require a specific amount of participants for things to change. If only half the participants vote it may not even signal a change is capable in the system. And if there are too many people voting then the vote is so diluted that it doesn’t matter and people lose faith.
Sophisticated System of Accountability
There will always be public offices of administration. We still live in the physical world. But every action can easily be logged to a public ledger via whatever device or record there is in that domain. Algorithms can confirm that the office is being administered properly.
Here is where things will really change. Right now the information goes from event, to witnesses, to media sources, through editors and then to consumers. If a country wishes to go to war, then all they need to do is to fake a risk to national security and classify anyone who does not agree as a traitor. Setting the narrative is easy when media is controlled by an authority and can be changed to suit the message.
These systems have the ability to span countries, so the notion of national security is going to break down. System security is going to start to rise above that. These are ever changing nations of systems that have no geographic boundary.
The network itself has its own credibility based on the entire population agreeing to the rules. When the rules break, then nothing going forward is valid. They all must be followed and are nonnegotiable. That is a feature of the system. It cannot lie. If it promises to do something, it must do it. If the contract is to defund nuclear weapons armament by X date, then everything else that relies on this network of trust will cease to be valid if that original promise is not met. Chains of trust cannot have any broken links.
Networks of Networks
As these networks become distributed, they will start to rely on the institution of each other. If defense companies are going to get paid only if certain triggers happen in other distributed systems, then it is in their best interest to ensure all other systems are complied with. It starts to lock out all the flexibility that exists in modern networks of control.
Once there is a critical mass of these systems being relied upon, they won’t be able to start killing networks without causing larger disruptions. This gives smaller countries the ability to participate in bigger world politics.
It is theorized that democracies do not attack each other. While the idea of democracy at scale is starting to be shaken by the last century of war, we certainly can see patterns protecting the coalition of democracies from attacking each other. It has obviously not kept democracies from attacking everyone else. Those sovereign domains do not justify attack because of differing idealogical opinion. If the distributed network relies on their participation, then it gives them something of a vote on their own future inside all participating entities. This will greatly diminish political legitimacy if those rules are broken.
Once decentralized trust-based network logic reaches critical mass, there will be an entirely new way to participate in resource allocation and decision-making processes. The difficulty in controlling these networks may limit powerful sociopathic individuals from having enough control to push through controls that rely on the agreement of people they wish to oppress. That could be another nation or a small local special interest group.
The Internet gave us the ability to communicate in a way that was never before imagined. Now we are starting to build applications on top of that infrastructure and writing a new chapter of the information era. If the citizens of the world participate, we may welcome the first indefinite period of peace.