“…[Georg Wilhelm Friedrich] Hegel’s dialectic process exhibits a triadic movement. Usually this triadic structure of the dialectic process is described as a movement from thesis to antithesis and finally to a synthesis, after which the synthesis becomes a new thesis and this process continues until it ends in the Absolute Idea…” — Charles T. McGruder, Ph.D.
Fiat money is monolithic. Since it is centrally orchestrated and manipulated, it always exists as an extension of the will of those in power. It matters not who is in power. It matters not what ideologies those in power adhere to, with what governmental structures they identify, etc. The money – its supply, its dissemination, its authority – answers to them and them alone. Thus fiat money is monolithic, just as the powers who pull the levers of monetary control are monoliths as well.
Generally speaking, within Hegel’s vision of a dialectical triad, two sides clash, come into conflict; the establishment (thesis) and those pushing back against the establishment (antithesis). This is a seemingly age-old dynamic. We see it in play in all countries and with regard to a myriad of social movements. As but one example of the aforementioned premise, in 1960s America a challenge to the prevailing societal norm arose that today we fondly recollect as the Woodstock or hippie generation.
This pushback (antithesis) centered on concerns over paradigmatically-particular political and social issues (the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, etc.); but in all likelihood, had not those issues existed at the fore of the American political and social economy, other concerns would have been identified and served as fodder for rejection of the status quo (thesis). This tension is not simply generational in nature, though there often exists, at its core, a generational quality to the rejection of particular norms and values.
On the surface this all seems innocuous enough. Young people question the values and belief systems of the older generations, with the inherent tension playing a central role in the evolution of new and seemingly more “progressive” (non-ideologically) societal norms and frames of reference.
And so the two sides butt heads, and in time, and with a certain amount of struggle, a new thesis emerges (synthesis); and this new way of doing things in turn becomes the object of even new challenges and rejections, and around and around we go.
This may seem like normal generational stuff: the new replacing the old, and so on. Unfortunately and in fact disastrously, fiat money perverts and poisons this apparently natural process. Indeed, fiat money prohibits the evolution and emergence of the absolute idea, of a new reality. Society remains stuck in an endless loop of exploitation and power-grabbing. The hippies become the stock brokers, ad infinitum.
Bitcoin is the absolute idea.
When a new thesis is born – when over time those struggling against the prevailing powers and norms end up succeeding in supplanting the status quo and creating a new intellectual and existential frame of reference – those blazing the trail in this emergent way of being have always been seduced and intoxicated by the power of money. Just as Isildur couldn’t end the reign of Sauron by undertaking the seemingly simple act of tossing the ring of power into the fires of Mount Doom (and thus breaking the dialectic cycle), so too have those who acceded to power within the seemingly revolutionary and emerging paradigm been seduced by the power of monetary control. In other words and once again, the hippies become the Wall Street bankers.
This is not natural, despite our efforts to explain and rationalize it as such. We have created all manner of social constructs to explain away the emerging structure’s remnant addiction to fiat money and power: “…It’s fine to be liberal and idealistic when you’re young, but once you’re older and have responsibilities and children and whatnot, being liberal is just immaturity…” and so forth.
“…In Hegel’s system the concept of the absolute idea expresses the ultimate synthesis, the fundamental principle of reality…” — B.S. Rabbot
Bitcoin decouples the dialectic from the monetary realm. In a hyperbitcoinized world, money is no longer an expression of power. The thesis is challenged by the antithesis based upon classical liberal values, but the emerging thesis is not in time co-opted by the siren of fiat. The values persist! Indeed, the first generation to live in a fully Bitcoinized world will also be the first generation to have no frame of reference vis-a-vis the weaponization and steroidization of money.
Here’s where things get dicey. Those of us who are around now for the birth of Bitcoin view satoshis, despite our best efforts to not do so, through the filter of dollar denomination. We are psychically tainted. We are the sons and daughters of a fiat-informed reality, and breaking free from such identification is perhaps not possible. Our choice to push back against the current thesis (fiat money) may over time lead to a hyperbitcoinized world, but our reality, our frame of reference, will still be of a world in which dollars (euros, renminbi, etc.) reigned supreme. In other words, our ability (actually, not MY ability … I’m a Boomer … I’ll be dead and gone long before this nexus moment arrives) to completely disentangle ourselves from the age-old thesis of fiat may be very hard to attain.
If however, as a species, we are somehow able to end not only fiat money as an institution, but as importantly fiat money as a memory, and if we are somehow able to become the Bitcoin world so many hope for, we will have reached the ultimate synthesis; we will have reached the ultimate truth, reality itself. For Bitcoin – that extraordinary protocol, that beautiful and perfectly immutable, uncensorable, borderless, permissionless unit of account and exchange – is reality and truth incarnate.
In a truly Bitcoinized world, money can no longer be leveraged as a source of power, because the network is weakened by those seeking to exploit it for riches and strengthened by those seeking mutuality and self-sovereign communitarianism. And in time, as this norm becomes ingrained in the psyches of people and communities the world over, those seeking power and gain will be viewed as a puzzling anachronism, zombies of a bygone age that no longer holds any meaning in the collective memory of the species.
This is why I believe that it will take generations, centuries, for Bitcoin to be fully realized. Not until the dialectic triad is broken with regard to fiat money will Bitcoin become the absolute idea, that internalized reality, that will save humanity from its own worst self.
This is a guest post by Dan Weintraub. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.