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Trust and Justice
The 2008 white paper introducing bitcoin, authored supposedly by one Satoshi Nakamoto, amusingly and tragically states,
"Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model."
Suffers from trust! Phew, what could be a more completely adolescent, though likely totally sociopathic statement than that?
If you had been following the development of the internet over the previous two decades, the banner waving for getting rid of third parties was all too familiar. If you had been paying any attention at all, by 2008, this idea was already completely discredited. The Net was creating some of the most powerful and intrusive third parties ever known. However, the idea of disrupting trust, that was certainly novel.
Tech attracts a lot of asocial people, more comfortable interacting with machines than other people. The idea human interaction can be coded away is certainly not uncommon. So, bitcoin determining trust should be coded away was not surprising, hell, in our increasingly trust-less society, the idea proved immensely lucrative. However, the violent destructiveness unleashed by this void of trust was quickly revealed. once again with the latest bitscam-blowup of FTX.
Read Sam Backman-Fried's, the head of FTX, pathetic post crash interview. Best thing about this particular venture in distrust, Backman-Fried's parents – father Backman and mother Fried – are both law professors, the father a tax attorney no less, at that august institution of learning in the middle of the Valley, Stanford.
Shouldn't both be out the door? After all in reading the interview, besides making you want to cry for your country, you can only conclude the parents taught him either nothing at all or everything they know. For any professor, that should certainly be grounds for dismissal.
The FT has an interview with one of the still standing cryptonauts, Brian Armstrong of Coinbase. Even after the fall of FTX, Armstrong restates the idiocy of trust as weakness stating, “Part of the whole benefit of crypto is that you shouldn’t have to trust third parties.”
Dude! You mean third parties like Coinbase?
Lord, I suppose all this is understandable, though in no way acceptable. Trust is the underlying component of any money system. But it goes much deeper than that, trust is the foundation of civilization. Two very important events coincided with the birth this present coding of trust flimflam. Both provided a massive catalyst for marketing distrust. Both entirely failed to hold power accountable. First, the lies and actions of officialdom leading to the criminal invasion of Iraq, the second was the fraud conducted by the money magistrates of Wall Street and the Big Banks causing the financial and economic collapse of 2008.
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Two and half millennia ago, the Greeks conceived trust as the root of any good society, trust insured by justice. We live in an era where these basic social components necessary for civilization are dismissed by our elites, advocating them is considered trite, naïve.
Two and half thousand years ago, Athens’ great democratic lawgiver Solon lyrically explained,
These things my spirit bids me, teach the people of Athens:
distrust (dysnomia) brings countless evils for the city,
but trust (eunomia) brings order and makes everything proper
by enfolding the unjust in fetters,
smoothing those things that are rough,
stopping greed, sentencing hubris to obscurity,
making the flowers of mischief to whither,
and straightens crooked judgments.
It calms the deeds of arrogance
and stops the bilious anger of harsh strife.
Under its control, all things are proper
and prudence reigns human affairs.
Two centuries previously, in “Works and Days,” Hesiod lyrically notes the difference between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom as a sense of justice, civilization requires justice over force:
For force is the norm that Zeus has imposed
on the fish and beasts and winged birds,
that is, to eat each other. For they have no justice
But to humans he gave justice, which is by far the best.
Without justice, there can be no trust. Aristotle tributes to Solon the citizenry's essential ability to hold power accountable. In Politics, he writes,
“Solon, himself, appears to have given the Athenians only that power of electing to offices and calling to account the magistrates which was absolutely necessary; for without it they would have been in a state of slavery.”
The greatest damage this era of bitscams has inflicted is on the idea of creating decentralized, distributed networked order. To revive and evolve self-government, most especially in regards to holding power accountable, but also to better utilize information and value technology, humanity needs to develop distributed networked order, not simply within technology, and that is essential, but by reorganizing social, political and government systems. Just as in past, trust will be the foundation of this order, without justice there will be no trust.