If there was ever a time when the dangers of centralization were most obvious, it is surely now. We live in a time where every aspect of our society is being attempted by existing centralized powers to become even more centralized.
Everything from our governance to our money to our healthcare systems is being centralized more and more by the day. I say it’s dangerous, and here is why.
There are two ways to define ‘centralization‘. Both ultimately mean the same thing, but one is used as the sales slogan for centralization, and one is the harsh reality of it.
- ‘the action or process of bringing activities together in one place.’
- ‘the concentration of control of an activity or organization under a single authority.’
It is true that centralization can often create more efficient systems, particularly in small businesses compared to a decentralized alternative. However, this comes at a cost. Furthermore, the more we develop decentralized systems, the better we can make them. In time, I believe a decentralized system will be able to outperform any centralized system with ease.
Centralized organizations are not oblivious to the drawbacks of centralization. To enhance their efficiency, they adopt semi-decentralized systems. These systems involve breaking the organization down into departments and subsidiaries, thus allowing each area of the business to operate independently with its own procedures and systems. This means that they don’t have to rely on the central point of control, i.e., the CEOs, every time there is a decision to be made.
However, it’s essential to note that this is only semi-decentralized, and not a full decentralization.
The most alarming instance of the perils of centralization is evident in the government. World leaders are eager to reduce the number of power structures worldwide and amalgamate them into a single controlling entity- referred to by many as globalization or a new world order. Rather than supporting this, we should be horrified as it contradicts what we should be striving for.
To illustrate why centralizing society is a dangerous approach, one need only look at the issues within their own country. In the UK, most decisions for the entire country are made by a small group in Westminster, London.
While some may argue that local councils, boroughs, and districts have some degree of governance, the reality is that they don’t hold much power. This was evident during the recent pandemic when all pandemic protocols were decided by Westminster, rendering any local councils or districts irrelevant. The protocols were uniform across the country, regardless of where one lived.
The reality in the minds of some Eton-educated politicians who have never lived in the real world is very different from those brought up in high-rise flats in Liverpool, working their way through high-security schools into factory jobs, and struggling to make ends meet for their families. Similarly, what constitutes good governance for London is very different from the needs of rural communities where farming is the major industry and public transport is not an option.
Different communities have different needs, and the further policymakers are from the people they are supposed to be helping, the more disconnected they become from these communities.
The Almighty Apaches
History shows us that those societies that decentralize power, prevail most magnificently. The apaches are a prime example of this. You can read more about the history of the Apaches in the book ‘The Starfish & The Spider’, but here is a summary of one of the examples given in the book on the merits of decentralization.
In Mexico, a Spanish explorer named Cortes encountered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, a civilization with a central government and vast reserves of gold. Cortes seized the gold, killed the leader Montezuma II, and left the entire population to starve, estimated to be around 240,000 people. Within two years, the entire civilization had collapsed.
The Spanish repeated this pattern when they encountered the Incas, and by 1680, they believed they had control over the entire continent of what is now South America. However, they were mistaken, as they soon encountered the Apaches.
The Spanish failed to defeat the Apaches despite assuming these people were primitive and underestimating their strength. The Apaches’ success lay in their decentralized society, which had no central point of power or leadership structure. Unlike a typical centralized power structure that requires rules and enforcement, the Apaches didn’t need these.
Power was distributed among all the people and across all geographic regions in Apache society. There were no chiefs, only a Nant ‘an, who was a spiritual and cultural figure that led by example.
When the Spanish tried to take down traditional civilisation structures, they would target the leaders. However, in the case of the Apache, there were no leaders or central point of control. Even when they killed the Nant ‘an, another would automatically replace them.
The Spanish became aware that the more they attacked the Apache, the stronger they became due to the nature of decentralization.
The book goes on to compare the Apache’s story with that of Napster.
Napster was the first major file sharing platform, but it came under attack by the music industry, and soon the entire network was shut down. However, this led to the growth of Kazaa, an almost identical setup to Napster, but with no central server. The more a decentralized system comes under attack, the more decentralized it becomes, and thus, the stronger it becomes.
However, this decentralization comes at a cost, which is the speed at which the system can advance its infrastructure. But just as the tortoise defeated the hare, a decentralized system will always outcompete a centralized system…. eventually!
Bitcoin won’t take over the World by storm because of its efficiency or features.
It’s a straightforward peer-to-peer payment processor that has remained largely unchanged since its inception over a decade ago. However, its decentralized nature is what has and will continue to revolutionize money.
Had Bitcoin possessed a central point of control, it would not exist today. Nevertheless, since there is no single entity that can be arrested, fined, or prosecuted to bring an end to Bitcoin, it will continue to thrive and grow.
But also, just as Bitcoin itself is decentralized, so is its development infrastructure. There is no CEO or single organization responsible for its development. Anyone can be a part of the Bitcoin Core project, anyone can submit and compile changes to the code, propose new features, and changes. If consensus is met between all the distributed nodes, then Bitcoin will be changed, if not, then the new instance of code forks off into a new chain and another currency is born.
Bitcoin cannot be shut down, easily hijacked, or maliciously sabotaged. It stands as the world’s most ideal illustration of why decentralization is crucial.
Decentralized Science (DeSci)
But it isn’t just economies that can be decentralized, everything can be decentralized. An emerging trend is the uprising of what is being duped DeSci, and I welcome it with open arms. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our scientific infrastructure is severely flawed.
If we decentralize the science community and infrastructure, we can unlock access to funding that was previously unavailable, data that was never publicly disclosed, and enable complete transparency on all aspects of science. This, in turn, can ensure that accountability is always maintained where necessary.
If science were decentralized and recorded on an open distributed blockchain, the multiple conspiracies that arose from the coronavirus pandemic could have been resolved almost instantly.
The funding provided by Tony Fauci to the Wuhan Laboratories for gain-of-function research would have been confirmed or dismissed within seconds. We would have access to real-time data from studies conducted worldwide, and funding could be tracked meticulously to ensure conflicts of interest are kept to a minimum.
However, whether or not the proposed decentralization of science will truly be decentralized remains to be seen, and I have my doubts that Big Pharma and their philanthropic supporters will allow it. Nevertheless, if it were to happen, we would undoubtedly witness a more equitable and fair scientific process.
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)
A decentralized autonomous organization is an organization represented by rules embedded as code that are transparent and controlled by the participants of the network.
DAO structures can vary, and some can be more decentralized than others. However, it is possible to have a DAO that allows anyone who wants to participate to have an equal share in decision-making consensus, without exception. Such a system could be used for societal governance as well as organizations, as government is essentially just another organization.
Despite their potential, DAOs have yet to be fully utilized. But if and when they are, we could run our communities in such a way that everyone has an equal say, and their say would carry the same weight as everyone else’s. Decisions would be democratized without the need for centralized voting systems or single entities making final decisions. The people would suggest how their community is run, and they would form the consensus. Of course, there is a possible price to pay in terms of a slowdown in progress and innovation, but we must ask ourselves: what is progress?”
Societal progress is often associated with technological advancement, strength in state-issued currency, and space travel, among other things. But is this really progress for human prosperity?
I don’t believe so. I believe progress should be measured by the strength and contentment of a society. The true strength of a nation is not determined by whether it has sent people to the moon, sent robots to Mars, or become the world’s largest exporter of smartphones. None of these achievements truly contribute to progress, at least not in terms of securing the longevity of a civilization.
Progress should be about securing the future of our civilization and ensuring we don’t leave ourselves vulnerable to destruction from within. In my humble opinion, this can only be achieved if we concentrate our efforts on decentralizing every aspect of our way of life, with societal governance being the ultimate goal.
Be careful not to be swayed by statements from the WEF and other think tanks that talk about a world without leaders, where everyone is equal and our systems are autonomous. These ideas are all based on a centralized system controlled by AI that is maintained by a powerful centralized authority. If we ever reach this point, we will have arrived at dystopia, not the utopia they are trying to portray.
Look Around And Ask….
Look around yourself, your local environment and beyond, what aspects of your daily life do you think could be strengthened by decentralization?
The decentralization revolution hasn’t started yet, but we can’t afford to ignore its importance. It has the power to be the game-changer we need to solve many of the world’s problems.
So, let’s recognize the potential of decentralization, and push for its adoption to create a better and brighter future for all!
I’d love to hear your ideas on this. There is opportunity everywhere I look, join us on Element (which is decentralized) and get involved!