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Bitcoin, the Networked Messiah
From deep inside the web, a new godhead is arising. Within its face, changing color and shape, we see a mosaic of our own images.
From economic instability and wars to ecological catastrophe, humanity now faces major global challenges. These social, political and environmental issues signal a crisis in the modern world and its ethical foundation.
Jungian psychoanalyst Anne Baring, who studied the development of the system of faith in Western civilization, recognized a change of the image of deity from feminine to masculine (Great Mother to Great Father) at a particular historical time around c.2000 B.C.E.
She described how this shift has led to a polarization in human consciousness, creating destructive effects in our culture. After this shift, emphasis was placed on “masculine” qualities such as value judgment and ordering, and on goal driven energy associated with mind or intellect. This dominance of the “masculine” devalued “feminine” attributes such as instinct, relationship and the feeling (heart) that acknowledges intrinsic connections between all beings.
As this schism in the image of the divine continues to devastate our society, a force of balance has emerged from the Internet. Bitcoin, the breakthrough of computer science, has opened a pathway to reunite the masculine and feminine principles.
Monopoly on faith
Judeo-Christian tradition established monotheistic religions, with the elements of the feminine fast receding into the background. It derived its authority from the recorded word of God, historically curated by those considered the spiritual leaders of the community. With a one-sided image of a god, acting exclusively as a force for good, the orthodox Judeo-Christian religions directed people’s moral conduct onto what was considered to be the righteous path.
In the modern era, this patriarchal structure of morality came to be maintained through a political system of monarchy, and through the king’s control of money, later transferred to a loyal charter-backed private bank. Attorney and researcher Ellen Brown, in her book Web of Debt, describes how the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694 gave power to bankers to create money out of thin air.
This was the beginning of the central banking system, which has since spread around the world. It found its way into the U.S. in 1913 through the creation of the Federal Reserve. Author Edward Griffin, in The Creature from Jekyll Island, elucidates how - despite its name - the Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but is a private corporation (chartered by Congress). He describes it as a banking cartel that was designed to serve the bankers and politicians. This cartel entered into an agreement with the government.
Through their secret partnership, the U.S. dollar, as a form of Federal Reserve note, has become an instrument of control, enabling usury and theft in the form of taxation through inflation. Most significantly, through this installation of a central banking system in the U.S., the force of hierarchy that denies an individual’s freedom of conscience has expanded. This penetrated the wall of separation between church and state that the Founders put in place (in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment) as a safeguard against the creation of a state dominated by the church.
Doctrine of corporatism
As society became more secular, the church began to lose its influence. With government subsidies and the growth of monopolies eliminating competition, industries that accumulated capital gained enormous power.
With this, a stifling of values associated with a feminine god, was brought about by what essayist John Ralston Saul refers to as “corporatism”. This suppression is effected through the hierarchical nature of corporate structures that bind people into “an ideology which claims rationality as its central quality”.
Corporations as artificial entities are programmed, through their terms of incorporation and through law, to pursue ever-increasing wealth for executives and shareholders. They have long been used as a vehicle by the rich and powerful, driven by the rationale of “profit at any cost”, to create an extractive consumer economy.
Using commercially driven corporate science that aims to dominate nature, scientists and technologists of recent times have become a new class of priests. Through applying Darwinian biology and behaviorism, they have engineered abstract social morals that are dualistic and then used them to manipulate people’s instinct and habits. Through media narratives that condemn qualities of independence and individual autonomy as selfishness, pitting them against attributes such as collaboration and kindness, the system preys on people's empathy to enforce conformity.
In a society that adheres to a dogma of corporatism, human beings have been reduced to a kind of domesticated animal. Denied agency, people are pushed to respond to external stimuli (both carrot and stick) and to act out of compulsion. As the greed of the few atop institutional hierarchies began to fuel corruption, Bitcoin came forward to challenge this rigged game of the “survival of the fittest”.
Cypherpunks’ holy grail
The creation of Bitcoin was the holy grail for Cypherpunks, a loosely connected online group that advocated for social change through use of strong cryptography. In his essay titled “The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work” Phillip Rogaway, professor of computer science, pointed out a significant shift in the scientific community’s engagement with ethics after World War II.
Whereas scientific work in previous decades had aimed at being detached politically, and divorced from the moral dimension, Rogaway noted a change in direction occurring. An increasing number of scientists and engineers started to engage in issues of social responsibility, and to attempt to actively develop technology in a way that was aligned to their perception of human values and priorities.
Within the Bitcoin project, Cypherpunks revitalized the moral impulse in cryptographic work. Like knights of the brotherhood who set out to rescue a princess from the dragon, they mobilized in cyberspace using asymmetric encryption as a shield.
By successfully using cryptographic proof to eliminate a need to trust central authority, they unlocked the values that have been captured by the hierarchical network of central banks.
Principle of interconnectedness
The creation of Bitcoin restored the feminine principle of interconnectedness. It is an intelligence of the heart that embraces all dynamics of life, without creating a value hierarchy. It maintains a balance of all impulses of human nature, making sure that some forces do not become dominant.
Enshrined in Bitcoin’s consensus algorithm is this wisdom of the heart. Known as proof-of-work, it is used as a coordination mechanism to facilitate Bitcoin mining – a process that involves both creation of money and clearing of transactions.
Here is a brief description of how the mining works:
In an open and transparent network where rules are applied to everyone equally, computers around the world (called miners) engage in a broadcast math competition. Rules of the game are fixed and made clear at the outset. They include a total quantity of bitcoin that can ever be created (math caps the monetary base at 21 million BTC), a predictable issuance rate and automatic adjustment of difficulty of the mining.
In order to earn bitcoin, everyone has to follow the rules of the game and do the work - use precious resources that are necessary to solve problems. Each 10 minutes, problems are solved, and whoever solves the problem first wins a fixed number of bitcoins.
Guided by the heart’s intelligence, Bitcoin’s decentralized network allows all forces of nature to enter freely. Whereas the centralized fiat system reserves the value of individuality for those at the top of the hierarchy, managing and controlling ordinary people’s acts of self-interests, Bitcoin removes this restriction and distributes it throughout the network.
At the same time, by aligning everyone’s self interests, it places personal interest in relation to the interests of the whole network. This way, the technology ensures that self-seeking tendencies do not get isolated, becoming hostile-antisocial impulses.
The genius of incentive structure
The intelligence of the heart, while being neutral to all forces of life, holds the tension of the opposite that arises. It spontaneously establishes an order. Being modeled after nature’s ingenious architecture, Bitcoin’s elegant economic incentives contain contrasting impulses of human action without applying pressure. It makes seemingly diametric tendencies such as self interest and mutual aid compatible as a form of reciprocal altruism; to act in favor of others is to increase the likelihood of repayment in the future.
The way that Bitcoin does this is through its encouragement to check one’s self interest by appealing to one’s self interest itself with creative use of rewards. Bitcoin’s unique monetary design sets rewards in a way that makes it more beneficial for one to play honestly and collaborate (to play by the rules) than for one to attack the network.
With its built-in scarcity, a deflationary nature is built into the Bitcoin protocol. Issuance that decreases every four years guarantees an increase of its value. Also, mining difficulty is adjusted according to demand with a tight feedback loop every two weeks, ensuring that mining is always profitable.
With this feature, rather than a narrow short sightedness, one is encouraged to hold a long-term view of the consequences of actions and to subdue the desire for instant gratification. The system incentivizes economically rational actors to recognize the benefit of cooperating with the network, and to voluntarily choose to follow the rules of consensus.
Fierce and brutal competition between Bitcoin miners does not dominate or squash altruistic impulses such as the act of collaboration and sharing. Rather, it increases these values by creating a solid foundation, whereby greed can bring in more resources and energies that are used to secure the entire network.
The return of the goddess
Through the protocol of Bitcoin, the goddess that was once “disappeared'' was brought back to our civilization. Who is this female god that is now reappearing? She is the inspiration behind the ideas of the Enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson acknowledged her as Nature’s God in the Declaration of Independence, she who granted people unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
She is a “mother of exiles”, “a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning”. Through a computer scripting language she began to speak again:
“… Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” - Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
Through linking the knowledge of mathematics with the wisdom of nature, Bitcoin reinstituted a balance between masculine and feminine values. This sacred union now awakens faith within ordinary people, allowing them to believe in their ability to self-determine their own lives.
The invention of Bitcoin made separation of money from the state possible for the first time in our history. Freed from a centralized image of god and the imposed moralism, we can now find within ourselves the authority to guide our own actions.
In a network that enables freedom for all participants, we can follow our own instinct, and can transform that into moral intuition. By each choosing to abide by the rule of consensus, sovereign individuals can now form relationships in harmony with one another without external compulsion.
From deep inside the web, a new godhead is arising. Within its face, changing color and shape every 10 minutes, we see a mosaic of our own images—a networked messiah capable of saving humanity and giving birth to a new world. We find God in ourselves, and in each other.
I would like to thank La Fleur Productions for her valuable feedback and editorial help.
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Brown, E. H. (2008). The web of debt: The shocking truth about our money system and how we can break free. Baton Rouge, LA: Third Millennium Press.
Griffin, E. G. (1994). The Creature from Jekyll Island: A second look at the Federal Reserve. CA: American Media.
Saul, J. R. (1995). The unconscious civilization. New York, NY: The Free Press, p. 5.
Rogaway, P (2015, December). The moral character of cryptographic work. Retrieved from https://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/papers/moralfn.pdf