Elements of the Philosophy of Decentralization
The world's first attempt at globalization has failed because there was no alternative to the centralization of wealth.
In this article, I will argue that Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism were built around the centralized principles that both Capitalism and Communism share. Neither ideology has been successful at providing a true decentralization of wealth. Communism collects wealth at the top of the state system while the masses suffer. Capitalism contains wealth within the institutions of the Western world, including the institution of a middle class, while the emerging populations in foreign nations suffer. The centralization of wealth is the common theme across both. Varying centralization is dependent upon political systems and cultural orientations.
Throughout, we will explore the common denominator is the lack of a trusted alternative to the centralization of wealth. The Ripple Interledger Protocol and the developing XRP ecosystem, along with the larger crypto market and initiatives, will provide such a trusted and decentralized system for the first time in the history of the world. It will change our ideological prejudices and allow for the evolution of our systems of governance. It is not the anarchist or Bitcoin maximalist view of the world. It is a logical exploration of where we have come from and where we may be going, with honest reflections on both Capitalism and Communism, hoping that we can consciously participate in the creation of the decentralized world developing around us.
One of the greatest female intellectuals of the 20th Century was Ayn Rand. The massive novel she wrote titled Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, is one of the seminal works of the last 60 years. It serves as a logical and realist response to late Marxism. Still, it weaves within the storyline the real-life evolution of the Marxist ideal, which began with the earlier writings of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, such as Das Kapital (Capital Volume 1- 1867, Capital Volume 2 - 1885, and Capital Volume 3 - 1894).
All three volumes of Das Kapital mark the transformation of the ideas put forward in the Communist Manifesto of 1848. Even further back from 1843, the works of Marx and Engel were more focused on the construction of Socialism. The ideological framework evolved with the thoughts of both men towards the complex and frequently contradictory nature of complete state control under Communism.
Marx wrote a paper in 1843 titled A Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. An exploration into this philosophy begins with developing an understanding of the concept of free will. The philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel published Elements of the Philosophy of Right in 1820 and argued that free will could only be realized under the social context of property rights and relations. Along with contracts, moral commitments, family life, the economy, legal system, and an organic hierarchal structure of society, the complexity of free will could be attained and sustained through the historical collapses of all states and empires.
Hegel segmented the philosophy into three spheres. The first sphere was built around the abstract rights of the individual, being the idea of non-interference as a method of respecting others. The second sphere was built around the common morality of the individual, where each reflected their subjectivity onto others as a form of respect. In essence, treat others as you wish to be treated. The third sphere held the principles of the ethical life, which evolved from the subjective emotions of the individual as they applied to the universal notions of Right or rightmindedness. Rightmindedness being the act or process of moving towards what is right.
Ayn Rand developed her philosophy of Objectivism around the evolving conflict, or contradiction, between Marxism and Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Hegel's work has widely been recognized as "one of the greatest works of social and political philosophy ever written," and for full editorial transparency, I would tend to agree. These are just the broad strokes of the philosophy. Still, I would encourage interested readers to explore further the correlation between Hegel's Philosophy of Right with the American Declaration of Independence, just as one example.
Hegel attempted to reconcile the contradictory natures of Capitalism and the state, mainly being the inability to balance the moral and ethical allowance of the state towards its organically structured hierarchy. Rand openly embraced the selfish nature of Man as a virtue. Objectivism rejects altruism, or self-sacrifice as the moral ideal, and argues that the ultimate moral orientation of each individual is towards their well-being. The Communist state promotes the opposite as its preferred attempt at balancing the contradictions.
Where Hegel found a contradiction, Rand found objective truth about the nature of Man. It is critical to understand because Marxism would argue that neither Hegel nor Rand is correct. Only the state can bridge the gap between Man's nature as an individual and Man's responsibility to one another. The continuous failure of Communist utopias would suggest that despite the well-being intentions of those who see a future in Marxism, its acceptance of one aspect of Man's nature, being the selfish aspect, is superseded by Man's more potent need for an incentive towards productivity. Man as an individual has incentive. The state cannot be the source of productive encouragement because productivity begins within the sphere of the individual. Remove this incentive, and the state murders itself.
It was always peculiar that Ayn Rand, and her great works, were largely ignored by Western academia and media. The progressive orientation of the Western world and its institutions should embrace the intellectual philosophy of a female who fled the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and would later, while living in New York, develop her philosophy as an argument against the horrors of Communism. A world of rightmindedness would have built statues of Ayn Rand, and her works would have been mandatory in all of our institutions of higher learning.
As I grew older and wiser about the structure of the world and the influences upon our institutions of governance, academia, media, economics, and entertainment, I became aware of the hidden Marxist methodology and its impact upon the evolution of late Western culture and thought.
The strategic positioning within the Western institutions of those promoting the Marxist ideology since at least the end of World War Two is an objective truth correlated with cause alongside the overall cultural trends and expansion of government regulations towards more state control. Rand witnessed this progressive march towards Marxism in America and expressed her philosophy of Objectivism as her unique way of providing a counter-argument that was rooted in the instincts of man, as opposed to ignoring those instincts.
Atlas Shrugged is the story of female protagonist Dagny Taggert and her quest to answer the eternal question "Who is John Galt?" Through Taggert's eyes, we experience the expansion of socialist government regulation and the strangling of the industries built by the individual hands of those with the incentive to do so. The men and women of power in the nation begin to shut down the companies and industries they created in protest over the control of the state. The state begins to erode, and wealth evaporates alongside the incentive of each individual for productivity. It is a predictive vision of what threatens the Western world now.
Though the best ideological approach to a socioeconomic system of governance has developed, Capitalism still falls victim to the exact contradictory nature that both Hegel and Rand attempted to explain under each of their unique philosophies. It is the selfish nature of man and his natural inclination towards centralization in service to the self.
Rand was right in that selfishness is a virtue, but selfishness is scalable, and the full potential of human selfishness, in turn, is expressed in the ideological evolution of Marxism. Marxism, which begins as selflessness, becomes, at its inevitable conclusion, an expression of human selfishness as those at the top centralize the wealth around them. At the same time, those at the bottom have little.
Capitalism, which begins under the application of responsible selfishness, will invariably fall victim to the same unaccountable greed which marks the process of corruption and wealth centralization within the Marxist framework. It's argued that the Capitalist system has not been allowed to evolve organically as the Socialist and Marxist image will permanently imprint itself on the free markets through those in governance and academia who develop and impose unwarranted regulation.
Indeed, both systems are different, but neither exist in a vacuum or function without interaction. It can even be argued, which I may soon be inclined to do, that both Capitalism and Communism, and the ancient human behavioral trends represented in each, cannot exist without one another. Both have a positive and negative impact upon the other. Still, the negative characteristics of each are due to the negative influence of the other, though a modest correlation, with cause and equally without reason, can be made. We may explore this further in the future.
Putting forward the idea that both Capitalism and Communism are different roads towards the same centralization of wealth is controversial in a world where each considers the other to be the externalization of human selfishness. It needs to be recognized that the rate of corruption towards collapse is different in both. While Communism can collapse faster, a complete breakdown and failure of a Capitalist state have not been experienced. There are various reasons for this, the most apparent being that Capitalism creates a vast middle class that acts as a buffer between the corruptive nature of both.
In simple terms, a state established as Communist will experience a rate of corruption and decline, which will be measurably faster than that of a state-designated as Capitalist and provided the time to build a middle class that could balance the political tendencies both. Capitalism is considered the more efficient and effective system of economics operating under small government, and I would agree from the perspective that there has been no viable alternative that maintained incentive and provided the buffering and balancing characteristics of a middle class.
As humanity and its systems of economics and governance evolve, there is no need, or perhaps incentive, to remain locked between the diametric imbalances of ideologies developed in the 19th Century. When we consider the origins of both throughout the ancient and historical record of socioeconomic evolution, the need for a new answer to Man's natural inclination towards broad selfishness becomes even more demanding. It is not the virtuous selfishness of Objectivism, but the enhanced and corrupted selfishness embedded within both Capitalism and Communism.
Under Colonialism, the transfer of value was enacted by invading territory through war or cultural absorption and harnessing the time and labor of the people's natural resources by establishing remote systems of governance. This system could be controlled and dictated from the centralized seat of influence in whatever empire or nation was projecting its power afar. Under this methodology, the Spanish Empire, Dutch Empire, French Empire, and English Empire extended their reach worldwide to every continent.
This Colonialism is negatively viewed in the modern world, and Marxist condemnation of its tenets is not hard to find in the institutions of academia and media. Though I would suggest that the Colonialism of the past carried characteristics of both Capitalism and Marxism, Colonialism's falsified and progressive history is that it was an earlier manifestation of what would become Capitalism.
The argument can alternatively be made that Capitalism was the response of those attempting to escape Colonialism and establish a nation built on the principles which Hegel would later describe in his three spheres of the Philosophy of Right.
In turn, Communism was also a response to Colonialism, but for a whole different set of reasons. We will explore this in another article. As in brief below, I will be making an extended case that Capitalism was a product of the Protestant Reformation.
The United States, formed under the Protestant principles of freedom and liberty, would later encompass Hegel's philosophy built around free will. The British and French colonies were settled in the 17th Century by those who faced persecution in Europe. These Protestants stood against the Catholic Church and the Church of England and refused to compromise on the religious convictions they held. The settlers wanted to worship God through the direct relationship they believed to be correct and not accept the Pope or Church as the intermediary between themselves and God.
God's plan had to be realized in the New World, and the great "City on the Hill" needed to be built as a symbol of that plan. Colonies that initially were planned as commercial ventures, such as Virginia, were organized around "militant Protestant" leaders who carried the strength and vision of Martin Luther and his stand against the tyranny of the Church and Pope. The real colonial power of Pope and Throne soon followed and brought murder and mayhem with them. Both clashed across two continents and engineered the socioeconomic ideals of Capitalism and Communism as cultural tools to continue waging Reformation war upon one another.
The one common theme across the history of the world, especially the last few centuries as it pertains to our subject matter, is the inability of Man to organize civilization and wealth under anything other than a centralized model. The possibility of a trusted and decentralized model of wealth designation and value transference has never existed until now. The characteristics of the centralized methodology developed to leverage the enhanced selfishness which self-corrupts.
Value-centralization became even more prominent under Neo-Colonialism and its projection of American hegemony. This American Neo-Colonialism, built on both the Capitalist and Marxist ideals, used economic, political, cultural, and military pressures to control and influence nations worldwide. The rise of the USD to international dominance under the Bretton Woods Agreement (See The Geopolitics of XRP) utilizes various Neo-Colonial tools, such as the SWIFT system of international payments, to spread and maintain its centralized power base.
Globalization 1.0 failed because it was being built on these principles of centralization. Marxists would have us believe that globalization failed because it promoted unfettered Capitalism, but in fact, globalization utilized both ideals to further its ends. China's movement away from Communism towards Capitalism supports this conclusion. America's movement away from Capitalism towards Communism equally supports this conclusion.
Somewhere in the middle, under a decentralized Interledger using XRP as the exchange asset, the world will begin to experience something I will call Value-Fragmentism. It is the fragmentation or decentralization of value across the globe. Emerging nations which have been on the wrong end of Neo-Colonialism will now begin to experience Value-Fragmentism as the USD, and Bretton Woods are reversed. Mojaloop, and other XRP inspired projects, will further enhance and speed up the process of Value-Fragmentism.
The hoarding of value in centralized economic and governance structures stands against the ideals of the Protestant Reformers and those who dreamed America into existence. Neo-Colonialism, and the continued centralization of wealth, is not what Hegel or Rand would have wanted. Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Rand's Objectivism, or the virtue of selfishness, are not exclusive to those holding power in the Western world. It applies to those in the emerging nations and markets with equal passion and application.
Ripple's Interledger and the evolution of the XRP ecosystem encourage the world to move towards this Value-Fragmentism, or decentralization of wealth.
Two seemingly opposing ideologies, Capitalism and Communism, have leveraged the centralization of wealth towards their ends. Value-Fragmentism and the decentralization being engineering into the framework of the world's economic systems, finance and commerce will force both to evolve. Each promotes selfishness for different reasons but towards the same end. It is my position that both will merge and evolve into something new.
Objectivism, or selfishness as a virtue, could be more fully realized as a positive principle.
Each human being serves as their centralized node operating in a massive decentralized system that promotes Value-Fragmentism by applying Hegel's principles of Right. Individual rights, individual morals, and ethics can be maintained under each of our centralized nodes but held accountable across a decentralized system. It would be a stretch to consider each a Marxist node of the individual, as Marxism is about centralizing all power within the state, but consider the same principles applied to each individual as a functioning state within a decentralized system built on free markets and trust.
Somewhere in that middle, we will find the new ideology of tomorrow. How it looks will primarily be dependent upon us and the decisions we make moving forward. All people would probably like to see others do well and achieve their dreams. It will be the theme of Globalization 4.0. There will be new challenges, but the centralized natures of Capitalism and Communism, which handicapped the first attempt at globalization, from Colonialism to Neo-Colonialism, will no longer be relevant in the XRP decentralized world. - JC