When ethereum developers chose where to set base, they chose Europe and not Silicon Valley.
That act in 2015 created a cluster in Zug as other companies and devs wanted to be close to one another with the first organic concentration since Silicon Valley so arising to propel into mainstream crypto blockchain.
Five years later, a clash between old laws and new tech is a developing story in a generational transition that will probably shape the world for the next half century.
That’s a very long time you can say, but seeing how time passes we may hopefully be fortunate to look back at it as if today like the film it went.
For hopefully anyone around 30 will statistically still be around then, 2060, a world that seems so far far away and for many of those currently ruling, not quite their concern.
To peak so far is foolish, but aim for the stars and land on the moon as they say, hopefully.
In addition, 1950s to 2020 is arguably what can be classified as the era of the internet, with its beginning there at IBM and its stagnation today.
That also coincides with the rule of Queen Elizabeth the Second, the grandma that still lives, but at a certain age where “live” has a different meaning.
Thus we can classify a new era, from the 1990s to 2060, the era of the digital revolution and the dawn of the space age.
The Revival of Europe
There can hardly be a more pressing matter, or a more difficult one politically, than a new constitution for Europe.
For the absence of Europe from the world stage has usually led to regressive forces filling the vacume.
The fall of Rome is now known as the dark ages. The fall of the Holy Roman empire did not end that well either.
The reason is probably simple. There are economies of scale and diseconomies of scale. One individual for example can not easily compete with a well organized group, but a well organized group can compete with an entity that has become so big to the point information travels at the speed of weeks, months, or even years.
The solution is probably two principles. Any decision that can be made at a local level should be made at a local level and decisions should be made by those most affected or the more local a decision the better.
What is local? The police station, the fire station, the hospital, the school, the church, the library, hopefully the museum, the neighbourhood square, the park, and then all the residents and businesses in that neighbourhood.
Customs are very local too, and therefore it isn’t clear why the law shouldn’t be. Why shouldn’t a neighbourhood for example have the freedom to ban alcohol or indeed to allow marjuana.
Logistics is the answer, the difficulty of law enforcement, how you check this allowed marjuana in one neighbourhood is prohibited from entering another one where it is banned.
How does Germany do it considering it neighbors Amsterdam and there is no border between them? Indeed how is anything enforced save for by fines or the imprisonment of those caught?
If that has downsides, then what are the downsides of the alternatives whereby decisions are made two, three, or even ten degrees detached from the local level?
How would a relatively small number of people know for example that while a hospital would be nice in a certain neighborhood, a fire station would be better? And more importantly, how long would it take them to know that, considering they have many neighborhoods to deal with and considering their grand designs for the country might be too artificial for locals and too annoying to change.
One easy example here is the tax rate on residential or commercial properties. If it is uniform across a vast area, then there is less of a supply and demand equation.
Why shouldn’t Chelsey, for example, have the ability to impose a council tax rate 10x or even 100x that of Hackney? Out of greed first, but in the process so incentivizing the market to revive Hackney.
Then there’s the other aspect of local. If we take for example the selling of tomatoes from Athens to Stuttgart, local here is not a neighborhood, not even national, but inter-national.
Let us say one wants to buy a share of the best or the biggest companies in Europe. Local here is not a national exchange. Imagine for example there was one exchange for ethereum and maybe all its tokens. One for bitcoin and maybe its alts. And imagine there is one that has all of this. Which is local?
In Europe as it stands currently we have a German stock exchange and a French one and Milan and London is now out, but it’s a mess.
Imagine for example you wanted to create Europe’s Robinhood or some app that sells European stocks, just wonder how much money it would take to go through this maze and more importantly how much time.
So local here is not the national level or the neighborhood level. It’s the continent level.
From that derive many things. That the public market needs to be regulated at the continent level. That there has to be a well funded agency to oversee it. That there has to be a distinction between small local fundraising – which can be overseen at the council level or national level – and considerable fundraising of say €100 million that go under continent level.
So the word local deceives because there isn’t a better word, but the principle is simple: any and all decisions should be made at the level of those most closely affected.
The Misunderstood Freedom
It is customary to look at freedom as some sort of luxury, as a privilege even, as a lifestyle in some cases, and as something nice to have instead of a necessity.
That’s because freedom is greatly misunderstood, in part due to complacency turning it into a mere slogan instead of an enlightened principle.
Let us take Russia and just to awaken your senses let us say it is worse than North Korea because while the latter is a fairly small local that makes its decisions at a fairly local level considering its size, Russia is a vast land that makes its decisions in glittery Moscow for goat herding Siberians.
North Korea of course has a vastly more centralized system in its own local, and suffers from quite outdated ideology, but is still in some ways more free than many parts of Russia because most probably feedback can travel there more easily.
If we offended the sensibilities of Russians that is our intention not to provoke but to point out that freedom, at least as we are using it, does not relate to the method of governance in regards to democracy or dictatorship or even authoritarianism, but to the level of decision making.
We have not checked but we would not be surprised if a North Korean is happier than a Siberian, for example.
Maybe not, maybe those shepherds are just as satisfied as teachers in Pyongyang who at least probably know there is such a thing as the internet, but why would a fairly rich country like Russia even reach the level where these in jest comments are made?
The Lost Scrolls of Agora
It is probable modern civic history begins in the 1600s when Brits rose to win the Bill of Rights, a document that to today stands at the foundations of western civilization.
It was glorious we are told despite there being a civil war and a king hanged, followed by 30 years of religious fundamentalism, but they called back the king so they get the glory.
The illuminated, a name folklore has kept for centuries and thus presumably for good reasons, rose by force to bring this Bill of Rights to France in a series of events that we are told were not glorious, presumably because they did not call back the king.
All this at a time when the world population was barely 500 million and that of Europe as a whole less than just England.
Now we count eight billion. To expect the same institutions to serve so many, as they served so few, is self evidently unrealistic.
Not least because if the same institutions could continue to serve, we would select our rulers by lot as the ancient Greeks at a time when their population was barley a London neighborhood.
And thus the current tension, between the elderly who care not about 50 years henceforth, and the young who see the obvious necessity to adapt governance to the new world.
Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, the new European president, promised such discussion on adaptation at a two years long summit of European citizens.
Alas she seems far too busy engaging in a pantomime of Brexit negotiations at a time when no one cares about Brexit.
You would think however it is necessary for Europe to have such Summit if there is to be a Europe for there either has to be a new political arrangement or there has to be no euro.
But it looks quite difficult to see any intention at half a century planning by these very old men and women who find the pantomime far more comfortable than the difficult task of laying the foundations for a prosperous and optimistic ambitious new era.
They look to the past, while we try and see the future, and that explains the apparent inability of the current governance system to respond to anything but by the crude imposition of force on their own, who of course are the force.
And if we said almost nothing about the blockchain, is because the tool is a very ancillary thing to the conditions that made it arise in the first place.
Man is man, and will always be. Tech is tech, a servant. Whether a good one or a bad one goes back to the far more ancient and far more important tech: the ability to freely coordinate in an orderly manner which is subject to and facilitated by governance.
After decades of war, America needs help. Europe must rise to the challenge. If not on the debating chambers, then on the digital squares.
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