dr Riste Simnjanovski is an Associate Professor of Public Administration at California Baptist University. More recently, his published research examines digital assets in the public and private sectors.
In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner co-published The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. While the text doesn’t get the credit it should, possibly as a result of the direct attack on American politics, it’s a brilliant piece of literature that bitcoiners might find amusing. In any case, I strongly encourage readers to take a look. The correlations to what Americans face in twenty-first century politics seem overwhelming to mirror history. The correlations to Bitcoin are easy to see in my opinion.
One of my favorite Twain quotes is, “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself…”
Twain and the lesser-known Warner had a knack for satire in a way that was a bit offensive and vulgar at the time, if unconvincing and true, to a fault. If Twain had a Twitter account, he would have millions of followers and perhaps as many vocal objections.
The ingrained corruption of American politics at all levels is pervasive and systemic. All perspectives agree that there is corruption, government officials pick winners and losers in business, and business returns the favor by funding its next “elected” official. The irony is that the actual era, ie post-Civil War America, is now defined literally as “The Gilded Age,” straight out of the satirical book by Twain and Warner.
The process of gilding is fairly simple: you take something of little or no value and apply color to it to create the illusion of wealth. One could imagine a pewter coin painted with a golden hue to resemble a gold coin.
At the time, what appeared on the surface to be a booming economic and industrial era for all of America was gilded. There was massive disparity between rich and poor, as well as a strong focus on materialism in some circles.
The rich funded their empires on the backs of the poor, as did local and national politicians; One could argue that not much has changed today. With this type of funding, the wealth inequality grew and lavish lifestyles imposed on a starving working class abounded. What appeared gold on the surface was worthless underneath. How many times have we seen politicians pass legislation that eventually turns taxpayers’ money into dividend payments for their personal portfolios?
Don’t allow your economics professors to preach that this era was the boom of a lifetime in America – these moments defined greed, slavery and corruption. Ordinary Americans had little to no recourse. If Bitcoin existed during the Golden Age, the government itself may have been viewed as a shit coin. Lastly, the collapse of Luna is a reminder of that corruption and greed. As always, Bitcoin is different and the importance of this will only be highlighted more brightly as more centralized scam projects collapse in a cascade of carnage. Regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, if you aim at the opposite side, don’t pay attention; Greed is non-political.
Between 1870 and 1900, the world noticed that America was (for some) booming. As a result, a massive westward migration took place. Native Britons, Scots and others braved dreadful sea and land voyages to secure a chance at new prosperity. Unfortunately, much of this talent was wasted as immigrants worked primarily for big corporations like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Railroads, and Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Company. (In case you didn’t know, the Carnegie Steel Company eventually became JP Morgan’s US steel monopoly… and oil tycoons also have deep roots in big pharma. There’s a reason many medicinal field products are petroleum-based. I’m just saying… but cut it bitcoin come back to us.)
Perhaps Twain and Warner were prepared for something in their acknowledgment of inequalities at the time. In many ways, the Golden Age was political corruption masquerading as freedom and opportunity. Has anything changed, or have the Veils and Tactics just been updated?
There is a popular phrase in the bitcoin community that says “fix the money, fix the world”. What if Bitcoin existed at the time and any excess currency earned by workers could have been stored, immune to political corruption, confiscation, inflation, or political parties? Technologically, only gold and silver existed back then, yet many of the nation’s poorest people could not even buy fragments of coins; In bitcoin it is possible to buy fractions of coins.
I would suggest that fiat is a gold-plated currency, that centralized protocols are gold-plated projects, and that society witnesses the proverbial paint chipping in real time. The misfortunes facing society are not mutual, as the media forces us to believe; The misery is the realization that what we have sold and the currency we need to buy it are all gold plated. Many politicians themselves are gilded. If fiat personalities were a thing, they’d have followers on Twitter craving their gold color.
Yes, fiat currencies are important as a medium of exchange, but they are (and always will be) a terrible store of value. The deflationary aspects of bitcoin, particularly the fact that there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins and that the reward for mining the coins is halved every four years, only make the asset more pristine than you for people who don’t own bitcoin reflect on history and are exposed to Bitcoin. The economic crash that has been taking place throughout 2022 will only create more Bitcoiners.
Bitcoin fixes money without the need for gilding. However, can bitcoin also appeal to an unfulfilled soul by offering humanity the opportunity to seek its true purpose? My latest assumption is a society that doesn’t trust a gilded reality and may have questioned its own existence as well.
In previous articles and a book I have addressed an unfulfilled soul, but how can fixing money help the soul or address this issue of a gilded world? I would suggest that these concepts are not interdependent, but they can be related. Yes, corrupt people with more resources will spread corruption; but what about good people?
What if good people with good intentions, strong values, and a solid moral compass had access to the same resources that robber barons did in the Golden Age?
What would the world look like? What about politics? Business? Industry? Your family?
I suggest that the quiet bitcoin community (QBCs are the ones who aren’t hot on Twitter) will chart a new path for the next generation as they ditch centralized projects and embrace bitcoin.
These newly minted Bitcoiners are not gold plated, they are real and they are really discouraged from scam projects and centralized greed. Many in the “crypto community” are becoming Bitcoiners while watching the paint chip.
This is a guest post by Dr Riste Simnjanovski. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.