Global Political Awakening & Bitcoin
For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches…
The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well… Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred…
[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.
– Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor
Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission
Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies
In December 2008, the IMF warned governments about “violent unrest on the streets.” IMF head at the time stated that “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.” In January 2009, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the greathest threat to National Security was not terrorism, but instead the global economic crisis:
I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.
In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:
[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge… Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents. Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.
The world is on the cusp of a new revolutionary era. Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Cairo, Yemen, Bolivia, Chile, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Iceland, US, and so on. What do all these nations have in common? Unrest. This is the era of the “Global Political Awakening.” Although each nation’s budding revolution takes on its own character, it is largely caused by domination of western powers over the last 500 years.
The Internet and social media has played a crucial part in each revolutionary hot pocket.
Twitter, WikiLeaks, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs have played a part, transforming the news cycle and the way people get their information. Authoritarian regimes do not have the control they once had, and now must blend in with the rest.
Nearly three years ago, in July 2010, a major poll was released regarding public opinion in the Arab world, from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, Among the findings: whilst Obama was well-received upon entering the Presidency, with 51% expressing optimism about U.S. policy in the region in the Spring of 2009, by Summer 2010, 16% were expressing optimism. In 2009, 29% of those polled said a nuclear-armed Iran would be positive for the region; in 2010, that spiked to 57%.
While the US, Israel and the leaders of the Arab nations stress that Iran poses the greatest threat in the Middle East, the Arab people do not fall prey upon the propaganda. In an open question asking which two countries pose the greatest threat to the region, 88% responded with Israel, 77% with America, and 10% with Iran.
The most basic reason for the recent parabolic moves of Bitcoin has to do not merely with basic supply-and-demand economics, but also a deep distrust of government the world over. A Pew Research Center poll from Jan. 9-13 demonstrated that 53% of the US believes the US federal government threatens personal freedom. This is an increase from the 36 percent of May 1995.
Pew has also shown that, at the start of President Obama’s second term, 73% distrust the federal government. Only 12% approve of the job Congress has done.
The Pew Research Center has kept data on public trust in government since 1958. In 1958, more than 70% of those surveyed trusted the government to make good decisions. Now, that number is under 20%.
This “Global Political Awakening” is the reason that Bitcoin has gone “mainstream.” As CovergEx Group Chief Market Strategist Nick Colas wrote about in a note to clients, what makes Bitcoin so interesting is its government-less nature. Cited was CoinLab moving Bitcoin under the Federal Reserve System as a sign of Bitcoin going mainstream.
“That, combined with the currency’s limited growth (by design),” Colas told Business Insider, “is the recipe for this kind of ramp
And so it is no doubt that the Bitcoin market is on fire. As the Internet’s favorite virtual p2p file that mimics a currency, Bitcoin is up over 230 percent since the beginning of the year and up 40 percent between Monday to Wednesday alone. Colas wrote in his note that “there is much to learn from this first online success story in the world of stateless currencies.”
Aside from the Awakening taking place, “The overall supply of Bitcoin in the system…grows at a slow and pre-ordained rate,” writes Colas. “There are currently 10.8 million bitcoins in the system, and this will cap out at 21 million coins in just over 125 years (2140, to be precise).”
The political theorist Ivan Krastev posits we are seeing a “crisis of democracy.” As Krastev says in a talk given at TEDGlobal 2012, “Democracy is the only game in town. The problem is that many people have started to believe that it is not a game worth playing.”
Some recent findings Krastev cites show that merely 18% of Italian and just 15% of Greek citizens believe their vote counts. Romanian and Lithuanian citizens also feel distrustful of their electoral process, and of the 27 countries comprising the European Union, merely 52% of survey respondents believe their votes matter. Only 33% believe that their vote matters in the context of the EU. Moreover, 89% of Europeans believe there is a gap between their politicians and themselves.
In 2012, Edelman, a global public relations firm, conducted its annual “Trust Barometer.” After twelve years, 2012 saw the biggest decline in government rust. In 2011, 52% of survey respondents worldwide said they trusted thir government. In 2012, this number fell 10% to 43%.
Professor George Akerloff, a Nobel Laureate in economics, in his essay “The economic consequences of cognitive dissonance,” which is in his book An Economic Theorist’s Book of Tales (1984), writes about cognitive dissonance. It is he says people “have preferences about different states of the world, (and)…over their beliefs about the state of the world.” For instance, if fear and not to fear are two states of the world and the individual chooses fear, then he or she “will try to reject the cognition” that he is fearful. He also posits that people with information have the ability to exercise control over their personal beliefs, but they can also trick their own beliefs by seeking information that fits with their preferred worldview. Once specific beliefs are chosen, they will harden over time.
Seems as though this cognitive dissonance is turning to cognitive dissidence…