Dr. Riste Simnjanovski is a full professor of public administration at California Baptist University. More recently, his published research explores digital assets in the public and private sectors.
In 1873, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner co-published the novel “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”. Although the text doesn’t get the recognition it should, perhaps because of the direct attack on US politics, it’s a brilliant piece of literature that Bitcoiners may find amusing. Either way, I strongly encourage readers to check it out. The correlations to what Americans face in 21st century politics seem overwhelmingly reflective of history. In my opinion, correlations with Bitcoin are easy to spot.
One of my favorite quotes from Twain states, “Suppose you’re an idiot, and suppose you’re a congressman, but I’m repeating myself…”
Twain, and the lesser known Warner, had a knack for satirizing in a way that was somewhat offensive and vulgar at the time, if not convincingly and wrongly true. If Twain had a Twitter account, he would have millions of followers and possibly as many vocal objectors.
The deep-rooted corruption of American politics at all levels is pervasive and systemic. All views agree that corruption exists, that government officials pick winners and losers in business, and that corporations return the favor by funding their next “chosen one”. The irony is that the present day, that is, post-Civil War America, is now literally defined as the “Golden Age” taken straight from Twain and Warner’s satirical book.
The gilding process is quite simple: you take something of little or no value and apply color to it in order to create the illusion of wealth. One could imagine a piece of pewter, painted with a golden hue to look like a piece of gold.
Back then, what at first glance seemed like a booming economic and industrial era for all of America was, well, golden. There were massive disparities between rich and poor as well as a strong focus on materialism in certain circles.
The rich financed their empires on the backs of the poor, as did local and national politicians; one could say that not much has changed today. In this mode of financing, wealth gaps widened and the lavish lifestyles that were thrust into the face of a starving working class boiled over. What looked golden on the surface was worth nothing underneath. How many times have we seen politicians pass laws that end up turning taxpayers’ money into dividend payouts for their personal wallets?
Don’t let your business professors preach that this era was the economic boom of a lifetime in America – these times defined greed, slavery and corruption. Ordinary Americans had little or no recourse. If Bitcoin existed in the golden age, the government itself might have been considered shitcoin. More recently, Luna’s collapse is a reminder of this corruption and greed. As always, Bitcoin is different, and the importance of that will only become more brightly lit as more centralized scam schemes come crashing down in a cascade of carnage. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on, if you’re aiming for the opposite side, you’re not paying attention; greed is apolitical.
Between the 1870s and 1900s, the world noticed that America was booming (to some). As a result, a massive westward migration took place. The British, Scots, and other natives braved horrific sea and land voyages in an effort to secure an opportunity for new prosperity. Unfortunately, many of these talents were wasted as the immigrants mainly worked for massive corporations such as John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroads, and Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Company. (In case you didn’t know, Carnegie Steel Company eventually became JP Morgan’s US Steel monopoly…and the oil tycoons have deep roots in Big Pharma, too. There’s a reason many medical products have an oil base. I’m just saying…but back to Bitcoin.)
Perhaps Twain and Warner were onto something in their recognition of the inequalities during this period. The Golden Age was, in many ways, political corruption disguised as freedom and opportunity. Has anything changed or have the sails and tactics just been updated?
There’s a popular phrase in the bitcoin community that goes, “Fix the money, fix the world.” What if Bitcoin existed back then and any excess currency earned by workers could have been stored away, safe from political corruption, confiscation, inflation, or political parties? Technologically, all that existed at the time was gold and silver, but many of the nation’s poorest people could not even buy fractions of coins; in Bitcoin, buying fractions of coins is possible.
I would argue that fiat is golden currency, centralized protocols are golden projects, and society is witnessing, in real time, the proverbial peeling paint. The woes facing society are not with each other as the media leads us to believe; the misfortune is to realize that what we have been sold and the currency we need to buy it is all gold. Many politicians themselves are golden. If fiat personalities were a thing, they would have Twitter followers coveting their golden hue.
Yes, fiat currencies are important as a medium of exchange, but they are (and forever will continue to be) a terrible store of value. The deflationary aspects of bitcoin, especially the fact that there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins and that every four years the reward for mining coins is halved, only make the asset more blank for people who don’t own any bitcoin as they reflect on history and become exposed to bitcoin. The economic crash that has been happening throughout 2022 is only going to hit more Bitcoiners.
Bitcoin fixes money with no gilding required. However, can Bitcoin also cater to a dissatisfied soul by offering humanity an opportunity to seek out its true purpose? My recent hypothesis is a society wary of a golden reality, perhaps also questioning its own existence.
In previous articles and a book, I have addressed a dissatisfied soul, but how can silver repair help the soul or solve this problem of a golden world? I would say that these concepts are not interdependent, but they can be interconnected. Yes, corrupt people with more resources will spread corruption; but what about good people?
What if good people, with good intentions, strong values, and a strong moral compass had access to the same resources that robber barons had in the Golden Age?
What would the world look like? What about politics? Business? Industry? Your family?
I suggest that the quiet bitcoin community (QBCs aren’t trending on Twitter) will forge a new path for the next generation as they turn their backs on centralized projects and embrace bitcoin.
These newly minted Bitcoiners are not golden, they are real, and they are truly discouraged by scam projects and centralized greed. Many members of the “crypto community” become Bitcoiners by watching the paint peel off.
This is a guest post by Dr Riste Simnjanovski. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or bitcoin magazine.