In the last few years, the world has experienced a rash of devastating financial tragedies. From the 2008 financial meltdown to the recent Greek debt crisis, one can find the footprints of too-big-to-fail megabanks and investment firms. Corruption of the 1% global elite continues, as the super rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Public outrage toward bankers is growing and many are seeking a way to account for this systemic fraud. Some wish to follow the lead of Iceland, a small island nation that successfully put such thieves in jail. On one hand, those who have bilked the public should face severe consequences. But at the same time, this alone will not get to the root of the problem. In order to truly tackle systemic issues of widening wealth inequality, we need to look more deeply at this destructive behavior and recognize it as a symptom of a larger social illness.
What is the nature of this small sector of humanity that acts totally without concern for others? Trends Forecast editor, Gerald Celente once offered an astute assessment. Calling former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke and billionaires like Warren Buffet ‘money junkies’, he diagnosed them as addicts. Enslaved by fleeting desires, these corporate fraudsters are driven by short-lived thrills to fill their bottomless pit. From commodity trading to real estate, investors chase after emerging markets to make a killing. They suck people’s sweat of labor and create a bloodbath in the real economy.
Addiction as Spiritual Malaise
If we understand these social disorders as manifestations of disturbance within ourselves, we are more able to go beyond the symptoms and get to the root cause of the problems. What drives these addicts to engage in such pathological pursuit of power and wealth accumulation?
Canadian physician Gabor Maté describes addicts as inhabitants of the “realm of hungry ghosts”, as living in the Buddhist version of hell; “always hungry and always empty”. He notes how “at the core of all addictions there lies a spiritual void”.
“Addiction floods in where self-knowledge — and therefore divine knowledge — are missing. To fill the unendurable void, we become attached to things of the world that cannot possibly compensate us for the loss of who we are.”
Contrary to their bravado, addicts are actually empty shells who don’t know who they truly are and parasitically feed off of others to inflate their sense of self. They are cowards who rarely take risk on their own. From HSBClaundering of Mexican drug money to global banks rigging the price of foreign currencies, these parasites alter the system in ways that reward those who are the most callous and exploitative. With free money injected through central banks, they can play with and extract people’s hard earned money infinitely, to avoid looking into the dark hole of nothingness inside themselves.
Decentralization as Catharsis for Healing
Is there anything in our society that can make these money junkies take responsibility for their reckless gambling? Cure for this addiction to money and power requires radical therapy. Decentralization is one way to dismantle their global pyramid wealth scheme. Dissolving levers of control that these addicts use to extract their supply and escape accountability can help them confront their internal emptiness.
In recent years, catharsis for healing has begun to come through the Internet. From Wikipedia and Pirate Bay to WikiLeaks, insurgents backed by peer-to-peer technology and encryption began to disrupt these institutional hierarchies. Then, an imagination from computer science emerged to further these waves of decentralization. In 2008, a white paper for the protocol of a public asset ledger was published and the following year became operational with the Bitcoin currency as its first application. The invention of the blockchain was put forward as a solution to this egregious hijack of the global financial system.
On the surface, it appears as if this new form of decentralized digital currency is becoming a new supply for this addiction, as it is now gaining attraction from Wall Street money, investors and speculators alike. Yet, Bitcoin’s fixed monetary design that mimics assets like gold seems to be enticing these insatiable addicts, bringing them to therapy without them even knowing it.
The first step toward achieving balance is to admit we are powerless over our addictions and that alone we can’t defeat this demon inside. Removing choke-points requires all to acknowledge the hungry ghost as the seeds of corruption within. Maté, who advocates for kind love in treating addiction, pointed out that punishing addicts through criminalizing them is not going to truly cure them. He opened a supervised injection site in Vancouver where patients can safely use drugs and get medical and emotional help to begin to cure themselves.
Blockchain-based intervention is not punitive and instead uses a similarly compassionate approach. The Bitcoin ecosystem provides supplies for money junky addiction in an incremental manner. It is best not to go completely cold turkey, for these withdrawal symptoms can be quite destructive.
Through algorithmically regulated creation of rewards, it reintroduces risk in a safer environment. Around this new market, a spontaneous gathering is emerging. Through the broadcast mathematical competition at the heart of the blockchain, miners (globally spread computers) have begun to purify the poisoned bloodstream of debt-based currency pumped by central banks. Mining rings spawned around the globe are kind of like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In this, there are no therapists or special medicine that can perform the magic of restoring sanity, but each participant through informed consent themselves help to create the network effect of healing.
Rule of Consensus
What makes this therapeutic process authentic? Bitcoin’s mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto embodies a wisdom that enlightens the realm of hungry ghosts. The core of this innovation is a consensus algorithm known as proof of work. In his presentation Consensus Algorithms, Blockchain Technology and Bitcoin, security expert and author Andreas Antonopoulos described how proof of work is composed of specific cryptographic hash functions and sets of game theoretical equilibrium systems that dynamically adjust and create economics of scale.
It installs a new rule that applies to everyone and rewards honest players. Miners have to perform hash operations by using precious resources and showing the proof of their work. If they play by the rules, they receive value. If not, they lose value. Unlike the heroin-like fiat needle that creates a short term high of unlimited bank credit without real work, with this math-based distributed trust, ‘you reap what you sow’. No one can fake the work or go around it. This discourages old habits of rent-seeking behavior that makes profits without producing anything of value. Instead, all must engage in real work to prove they are sober, that they have not cheated others.
The transparent ledger provides a tool for people to collectively supervise the facility and watch if anyone tries to get drunk with power. Here, money junkies have a chance to learn the rule of consensus -something they failed to learn in the kindergarten sandbox; Thou shall not steal thy classmate’s toys.
The genius in this open source protocol restores the healthy balance of risk and reward. This treatment plan is set up so playing by the rules is more profitable than attacking the network for a quick fix. It calls on ones higher power of consensus to avoid that double spend overdose. Although the incentive is there to aid this therapeutic process, ultimately it depends on each person’s will and commitment to maintaining the integrity of the network.
There is always temptation. Before one enters into this cryptographically insured rehab, one has to pass the bar and resist the urge to short-circuit the whole process. At early stages of its development, the liquidity of this currency is small and the market is potentially subject to manipulation. On the off ramp of the Bitcoin decentralized network, new pubs are open with Wall Street-like derivative casinos, where one could relapse.
Since its inception, dangerous centralization has also been quietly creeping in the mining sphere with specialization of mining hardware and concentrated pools. Forces to co-opt this young technology are also arising with efforts tomake private blockchains and pressure to succumb to commercial interests at the development level. Yet, a possibility of breakthrough to recovery has opened up and this creative intervention cannot be uninvented.
Slaying Ones Own Demons
Bitcoin, the world’s most powerful computer network empowered by a group of equal peers, channels and digests this destructive addiction to money. Instead of punishing these crooks who have been enriching themselves at the expense of others, now they have an opportunity to repay those from whom they stole the common wealth. Each transaction burns these resources and transforms them into vital hashing power that secures the system. Addiction to power can be transformed into a drive to fund social services, such as free education, universal healthcare and feeding the poor.
With contributions to the network, rewards used to mitigate this rapacious exploitation can now be turned into tokens of genuine human appreciation. It is here that emotional acknowledgment becomes true credit and begins to fulfill that hollow man inside.
Only through tending to what seeks our attention can we gain strength to collectively slay our demons and dissolve this illicit power into serving the whole of humanity. Together, by claiming the power of love within, we can free ourselves from this wheel of global speculative roulette spiraling toward the abyss. Now, each can become a part of the networked heart that enlivens our global society.