How Bitcoin Applies to The Sovereign Individual Thesis
ust before the internet became a massive display of human ingenuity and networking, a few individuals anticipated the emergence of tools that would help progress the end of politics and the nation states. 22 years ago, much like Nostradamus, Isaac Newton, Gerald Celente, and Carl Jung’s forecasts, a book called “The Sovereign Individual” predicted the growing autonomy of the individual but also noted the development of the world’s largest economy flourishing in cyberspace.
Cryptologic Methods Will Fundamentally Alter the Nature of Interference in Economic Transactions
Since the inception of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin, many people have come to believe that cryptographic technology is meant to progress freedom and liberty by separating money from the state. The concept is similar to when the church was separated from the state but when the power of the church dissipated, the nation states quickly took its place. Cryptocurrencies now provide the means to transact financially without a middleman and this removes the great wealth of power from the state’s arsenal. More than two decades ago, the cypherpunks started spreading the seeds of crypto-anarchy after envisioning that the internet would help remove the parasites that stem from governments.
“Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions,” cypherpunk Timothy May wrote in 1988. Humans have always tried to predict the future and forecasting trends has been popular since medieval times. People predicted the world wars decades beforehand, global economies collapsing, and monumental events that have changed society a great deal years before they happened.
Most people know about the cypherpunks from Silicon Valley and the great crypto-anarchist manifestos that were published at this time. In addition to these new philosophers, in 1997 two well-known investment advisors and authors, James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, published a book that also predicted a huge change coming to society over the next century. Within the book of forecasts, the two authors of “The Sovereign Individual” predicted the coming of cryptocurrencies and economic realignment. Rees-Mogg and Davidson’s book does not specifically mention Bitcoin, because it was published 12 years prior to the cryptocurrency’s inception. However, the predictions do note the coming existence of an uncontrollable “cybercash” and that with technology “we will see the growing autonomy of the individual and taxing capacity will plunge by 50-70 percent.”
“[Society will] develop what promises to be the world’s largest economy by the second decade of the new millennium,” The Sovereign Individual states. If we were to look at the invention of Bitcoin as being part of the Sovereign Individual’s timeline, we can see that things are just getting started. The cryptoconomy, for instance, is a $200 billion dollar economy that is not backed by a sole individual or endorsed by a corporate entity. Governments do not support the electronic borderless money, and ever since it was created the nation states have met the technology with adversity.
How the Information Age and Bitcoin Resets the Odds
The open web has allowed online economies to flourish and financial epicenters like New York and technological regions like Silicon Valley have no hierarchy over the internet’s borderless and faceless power. Governments feel threatened by these technologies and The Sovereign Individual’s predictions suggest that the nation states will push back just like the church did. At the time, during “its predominant institution, the church, saw its monopoly challenged and shattered — authority that had been unquestioned for centuries was suddenly in dispute,” Rees-Mogg and Davidson’s book highlights. The Sovereign Individual’s timeline predicts the next millennium will be very similar. With economic tools like cryptocurrencies and other forms of technological advances like autonomous software, drones, defense groups, meshnet technology, Tor, VPNs, and influencer/gig economies, society can begin to remove the bureaucracy from their everyday lives. Davidson and Rees-Mogg’s novel states:
We believe that change as dramatic as that of five hundred years ago will happen again. The Information Revolution will destroy the monopoly of power of the nation-state as surely as the Gunpowder Revolution destroyed the church’s monopoly — Like the late-medieval church, the nation state at the end of the twentieth century is a deeply indebted institution that can no longer pay its way. Its operations are ever more irrelevant and even counterproductive to the prosperity of those who not long ago might have been its staunchest supporters.
The Future Is Now
Right now, many people believe we are entering the initial phase of change that books like The Sovereign Individual predicted decades ago. On page 160 of the book, the two authors stress that as commerce takes hold on the internet “it will lead inevitably to cybermoney.” This new form of money Rees-Mogg and Davidson explain will “reset the odds, reducing the capacity of the world’s nation-states.” “Unique, anonymous, and verifiable, this money will accommodate the largest transactions. It will also be divisible into the tiniest fraction of value. It will be tradable at a keystroke in a multi-trillion-dollar wholesale market without borders.”
It is interesting to watch the forecasts written years ago come to fruition and especially ones that are changing society for the better. The advent of Bitcoin and the economy behind the thousands of digital assets out there shows that a massive transformation is indeed happening right now. Past predictions from the cypherpunks and books like The Sovereign Individual may help us understand why. Moreover, failing economies and protests worldwide clearly indicate the demand for freedom is just getting started.