This article was originally published in Uncharted Territories.
It’s 2050. The U.S. government just defaulted on its debt. It’s not meeting its social security payments. Hospitals are going down: they can’t operate without Medicare and Medicaid income. Old people line up outside the hospitals, hospitals don’t service them, they can’t afford it. There’s a run on the banks that held too many dollars, they are collapsing. All of the governments around the world caught with too much U.S. debt are defaulting. Those with their savings in dollars have been wiped out. They are looking at the last few decades of their lives like an empty ravine.
What happened? The internet and blockchain technology.
Every time a new information technology is discovered, our power structures change. Speech allowed chiefdoms. Writing allowed kingdoms, empires and churches. The printing press replaced the Catholic Church and feudalism with the nation state. Broadcasting made totalitarianism viable by allowing the efficient transmission of propaganda.
This time, we have not one but two new information technologies: the internet and blockchain technology. How will they undermine the nation state?
The Nation State Becomes Inconsequential
In the 19th and 20th centuries, nation states became the ultimate powers, thanks to their control of gatekeepers. This was nowhere as true as in broadcasting.
The government established the agenda of what was going to be discussed. It controlled what broadcasters would say. Information flowed from newspapers, TV, and radio to citizens. You could hardly influence it in democracies, forget about autocracies.
Then came the internet.
The Sovereign Individual
When I wrote “Why You Must Act Now,” I couldn’t conceive that it would be read by over 40 million people. When I wrote “The Hammer And The Dance,” I couldn’t fathom that governments around the world would draw inspiration from it.
A normal guy, surrounded by children in his San Francisco apartment, reading scientific papers in sweatpants, put out a piece that took governments around the world by surprise on the most important topic of their careers.
This would have been impossible 20 years ago: Back then, information flowed from gatekeepers with a tight relationship with governments, from newspapers to TV and radio stations. That establishment decided what people would think that day, and you couldn’t influence it.
You couldn’t search for the scientific papers you needed, because they weren’t available on the internet. And even if you got your hand on the data, you couldn’t let others know because we didn’t have social media. The internet gives you the inputs and outputs to short circuit the nation state and its gatekeeping gang.
That’s how QAnon spread like wildfire, convincing 15% of Americans that its conspiracy movement is legitimate (only 40% reject it), stoked by a pseudonymous person with intimate knowledge of game design.
That’s also how another pseudonymous…