‘The New World is coming. How can we make it loving and kind?’
You can now read this piece in Bengali here, brought to you by our first-time translator Aadrit Banerjee.
This opinion piece talks about my issue with finance dude bros, whom I refer to as the “Crypto Creeps,” creating blockchain and cryptocurrency solutions that are wrapped in ridiculous amounts of jargon that make it impossible for any person of sound mind to want to understand. The thrust of the argument is, however, that while the jargon confuses literally anyone, it’s actually hiding the fact that they’re betraying the momentous opportunity that blockchain and cryptocurrency represents to fundamentally change the system that we’re currently throttled by. The article is aimed at, who I believe these sorts of things should be aimed at, regular people who, in my opinion, need to be told that their hope of a better tomorrow is being fully fucked with.
The world is sitting on the precipice of a major change in how we value things, including ourselves. However, you wouldn’t know it because the people that are most involved in it are happy keeping it wrapped up in jargon that does a better job at hiding benefits than clarifying it.
What this does is that it stifles any new thought from entering this nascent, budding, significant shift in the landscape of human-society.
Aave, a top DeFi (Decentralized Finance) platform, describes itself thus: “Aave is a decentralized non-custodial liquidity protocol where users can participate as depositors or borrowers.”
What Aave is saying is that it’s not controlled by a single person (decentralized), it uses no ‘wallet’ of it’s own but instead you control and authorize transactions by your ‘own wallet’ of choice that no one else can control (non-custodial), that it has a backup up of money put there by other people (liquidity) and that it has rules that state how these things interact with you and help you do what you want to do (protocol). Also Aave means ghost in Finnish. But it seems like Aave doesn’t really want you to know any of that.
What does Aave let you do, you ask? It lets you take loans.
You like loans, they assume. Loans give you the ability to spend large amounts of money at one time to buy big things that it would take you a long time to earn, save and buy on your own. Loans are good for an economy that wants you to spend money. Of course, it would be too difficult to create jobs that would help you to realistically afford these things on your own because we’re making expensive things cheaper and faster than our conditions and pay can rise. Therefore, loans are, to rephrase myself, good for an economy that wants you to spend money faster than you can earn it.
The reason for this is obviously that people get the work they can, rarely on the terms that they would otherwise agree to, and that they develop tastes for expensive things through advertising. There’s a clear disconnect there that, if probed, would render advertising banned for being a human rights violation and possibly anti-state but no one wants to look into that. The consequences would be catastrophic to some.
Loans are good for the economy and not for the individual. Why? Loans assume that you’ll pay them back. Let’s say you take a big loan. To buy a car or a house. That takes a long time to pay back. The lender (loan-giver) is assuming that right now, given your job, your social situation, your past behaviour you’ll be a sure bet to pay back the loan. But then a crisis hits: famine, political scandals, stock market crashes, war, civil war. What then? You can’t pay back your loan and you lose everything.
Loans, debt, are fundamentally opposed to a worldview that accommodates the unexpected and thus, when the unexpected does happen, the world collapses. That sounds like a very fragile system in a world that’s getting more and more uneasy and unpredictable by the day.
Current Global Economic Policy does not factor in the real world or real people.
Now when we bring Cryptocurrency and ‘Money Markets’ (the pool of other people’s money that allows certain people to give loans) into the fold we realise that we’re building a similar system to finance (pay for) a world that’s too young to know what’s going to hit them when the world does hit them.
Cryptocurrency is supposed to be an opportunity to think about how we as human beings fundamentally think about the concept of value. What is value: The ability to think something is worth something. Or we could even radically rephrase it to be ‘the ability to think something is important.’
Why is ‘Important’ a more valuable word than ‘Worth’? Because ‘Worth’ implies that something is valued at something and two unique people have to agree on that. In any exchange now, let’s say you were buying something, the thing itself is worth whatever is agreed on or, more commonly, set by someone far away that made the thing. How do we do this? By inventing ‘Money’.
Important implies that the Thing I have and the Thing you have are important not to ourselves alone but instead to one another as well. The Thing I have is perhaps less important to me than it is to you and the Thing you have is perhaps more important to me than it is to you. And then we trade (give each other) those things and go home happy. No loans, no debt, no interest fees, no hidden transaction charges, no KYC, no retina scans or fingerprints required. We co-operated (worked together) simply because it was important to the both of us.
You might say now, but then I won’t be able to get what I need because I have to find someone who thinks what I have is important and not what they have- but to that I say: We need to rethink what we need.
Advertising has put needs or rather wants in our head that are out of sync with our ability to earn the money to buy them. You don’t need these things because if you did you wouldn’t have to put yourself and other people at risk to get them.
We need to rethink value, do away with money for a second and wonder if there is another way to take Cryptocurrency forward and make it mean something apart from a pure ‘money substitute’.
The blockchain is publically accessible Generator of Value. But value is nothing without Demand (people needing to buy something) and therefore if we simply substitute Cryptocurrency for Money we’d be recreating a fully digital version of the mess we’ve currently let spread too far.
NFTs are a big example of a Thing of Value created by and on the blockchain. Is there a way to see giving and getting value as a thing not motivated by the desire to have more.
Crypto Creeps, the gatekeepers who would rather all this become a meme-filled subreddit rather than an instrument for a New World, don’t care if you don’t get it. They want you, if you accidentally do get it, to play a part in the ‘get rich quick scheme’ they’re currently making the Cryptocurrency world out to be. They aren’t able to rethink money and how that could affect the world going forward. How it would affect all of us and our society at large.
What is required is bold groups of ordinary people who can create things that would be merely sold and instead give things away and get something else in return. The Blockchain can bring people out of the dark capitalistic fog of alienation and once again take part in a direct experience of life.
But then the Cryptocreeps wouldn’t be able to take their Finance Degrees and MBAs and make blockchain versions of investment banks that would eventually crash again and again. Sad.
We need to ask: What do we need, not What do we want? How can we get these things while co-operating and being productive? And kind. We have to be kind.
I dare you to imagine ‘kindness’ as a word that comes up in the Economic Policy of the New World. Because the New World is coming whether you like it or not. Big industries are falling and will eventually be replaced by decentralized (not owned by any One), open-source (the inner workings are not hidden nor are they owned by any One) solutions that can finally remove the hegemony of unjustly rich people and help us be kind.
The Cryptocreeps need to put their investment finance discord servers on mute and start thinking about the New World as opposed to the Old World freshly minted on the blockchain of their Friedman-filled dreams.
Or else the rest of us need to beat them to it. Before their ridiculous words get the better of all of us.
The New World is coming. How can we make it loving and kind?
Recommended: Read the companion piece to this article “The Human in the Blockchain” here.
Terence-Hari (he/him) is a philosophical anarchist and believes that we need to rethink the way the world works because it does not incentivize kindness and cooperation. He is one of the Founders of Lekh-Haq, a culture-impact cinema company that strives to build solutions and alternatives to existing, deep-rooted problems through art. He went to college somewhere and did other things that may or may not be, in actuality, valuable but definitely aren’t relevant and so disclaims them here.