Right now we are witnessing an epic battle between two competing principles – centralization and decentralization of systems that influence our culture. Let’s look at two examples and how they are creating major cross currents in the world today.
The Global Monetary System
For several hundred years, the world’s monetary system has trended toward increased centralization. So much so that today, money creation and management around the world is concentrated in the hands of national governments or privileged, monolithic entities that have central government approval. Within the last fifty years, further consolidation has occured as the Euro currency displaced the currencies of previously sovereign nation states.
The rules by which currency exchange is conducted are written by those who control the flow of funds. This exposes a little known reality – money at its core is not an item, such as a Euro, dollar, gold, or silver. Rather, it is an agreement between the people in a community (in this case, nation states) to use various items as a medium of exchange and store of value. Today, the contract is negotiated between nation states, and the system they have designed requires moving every person’s assets through a highly controlled and efficient system.
In the last decade, there has been an explosion of avenues for people all over the world to directly share their views with one another. A person in Africa has immediate access to the “feed” of people they are connected with in the Americas and vice versa. Ideas about how the world should be ordered are exchanged at the speed of light. Decentralization of how ideas and concepts are birthed lies in direct contrast to the system of money that gives resources to the world economy, which can bring those ideas and concepts into reality.
Decentralization is Winning
This tension between principles is playing out in the marketplace today. Not satisfied with the existing system of control over resources, those who are collaborating in cyberspace about how the world should be governed are turning to another source – cryptocurrencies and decentralized trade of the ownership of assets.
The marketplace of ideas is making a statement. Decentralization is favored over centralization. The decades-long domination of mainstream media is dying as social media continues to grow. Now, the centuries-long domination by the global monetary system is being challenged by cryptocurrencies and micro-loans.
The trend toward global decentralization reaches far beyond economics. It is producing a massive global culture shift with implications that have yet to be fully understood, and are not likely to be entirely manifest for another decade or more. While not in the prediction business, we can offer an observation. In the future, real, tangible items such as gold and silver will become more important to a wider group of people. Not just because of the likely volatility that will accompany the transition to a decentralized, technology-based world. But also because, like a cold drink of water on a hot day, they remind us that we are still real, physical beings in need connection to a physical world.