Thoughts on the collapse of empire and where we are headed
by Crypto, Gold Seek For hundreds of years the Romans administered a far flung empire with hand written documents. Meanwhile they stamped out billions of coins. So why didn’t they stamp out documents? This should have been trivial and obvious. Apparently making many uniform copies of documents was not nearly as important as making many uniform copies of coins. The Romans had plays and poems, histories, biographies, laws, technical books. Documents were valuable possessions, laboriously transcribed by slaves. The Romans valued status above all. Access to books went with status. Those of high status did not want cheap books. That would have upset the system that maintained their status. The primary barrier to change has always been the threat that change poses to those who have power in the prevailing system. Moreover, the primary threat to humans at the top has always been and is now, loss of status. Many may be sacrificed to preserve the status of the powerful; many enslaved to serve the status of the powerful. Today status is fiat currency units, which are an abstraction. There are so many fiat currency units and obligations to pay the same floating around, that all of these currency units could buy the whole world many, many times over. With virtually unlimited currency units, the elite own the labor of as many humans as they want. The elite can’t deny access to cheap knowledge, so that is no longer the basis of their status. Land, houses, planes are NOT the primary measure of status. In fact there are not enough things to buy with all of the currency units. Status comes from access to the machine that spews forth raw currency units and this will continue to be the case as long as people work like slaves for the currency units. No matter what happens in the real world, unfettered ability to create money from nothing makes one look like a genius. With this power the elite may suppress or inflate any asset, bail out any mistake, buy politicians and remain above the law. Of course the currency units are only real so long as the people believe that they need them to survive. As such, it is vitally important for the elite to drive everyone else into debt bondage and to otherwise force people into dependency on the currency system which they control. Outsourcing, automation, healthcare and higher education extortion, regressive taxes have all served to increase the cycle of dependency of those who do not have access to the free money machine. The fact that only a few percent of economic activity is now directed toward food production and distribution means that the cycle of dependency can run longer and deeper than ever before. On the other hand, not everyone is wasting their time. Technology and increasing awareness of the reality described here provide the impetus for a variety of efforts which will lead the way forward. Roman society could not exist outside of its central organizing principle of slavery and plunder from war. In order to placate the army, taxes were raised and the elite eventually abandoned Rome for greener pastures in Constantinople. The more powerful of those who remained behind established their own feudal estates outside the reach of the tax authorities and the common people sold themselves into feudal bondage, property of the estates. This was the beginning of the dark ages. The primary features of feudal estates were their self-sufficiency and hierarchical organization without physical money. Fourteen hundred years ago the feudal estate was the ultimate solution to the abuse of centralized power of the Roman Empire, also an indication of just how far people would go and therefore how bad the abuse must have been. That abuse was made possible by Roman coins, state sanctioned money, the flow of which could be taxed. This is why coins were so important that the Romans stamped them by the billions. Coins allowed people to interact without the friction of social bonds. It made the Empire possible and ultimately allowed the Empire to bleed the productive citizens dry. The key to subverting abuse of power by the state is to take away the ability to tax productive effort. Fourteen hundred years ago, the only way to do this was to revert back to an older form of organization without coins, today we have technologies that the feudal serfs and their masters could not imagine. Centralized, state sanctioned electronic money is far more effective as a means to encourage economic activity and then tax the hell out of it than physical coins. Also, the Romans spent most of their money simply feeding themselves. Today in the USA, only two percent of people work on farms. That leaves a lot of excess economic activity to tax before people begin to starve. Our state is far more intrusive and takes a far larger bite out of productive activity than the Roman state ever did. How can we possibly subvert the awesome power of our empire? First and foremost, people must be able to interact economically without state intervention and theft. This is so important that Romans gave up their culture, identity and freedom to achieve it. Second, the web of economic interaction must be as wide and frictionless as possible. For the surfs, economic interaction was generally between those whom they knew, and they only knew people within walking distance. Today, we know people all over the world, but more importantly we have a new currency system, Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, that allow us to economically interact with people we do not know. The privacy and security of crypto currencies are limited only by our imagination. Already there are currencies, i.e. Dark Coin, where it is all but impossible to track the flow of any transaction. Security and privacy of crypto currency transactions will be as good as they need to be. As long as the internet operates, crypto currencies will be unstoppable. In fact, people are working on wireless mesh networks to keep something like the internet working under all circumstances. Romans were willing to sell themselves into feudal bondage to escape the abuse of late Imperial Rome. Our options are better. With any luck, our imperial government will realize this and restrain itself. Lacking that, we will collectively enter the crypto currency age with a raging monster forcing us through the door.