Friday, November 29, 2013

Spontaneous Collusion

In the previous post, I hinted at something that needs to be spelled out more clearly. What's taught in economics classes all around the world is, for the most part, ideology (aka rhetoric) posing as science. Even in an ostensibly free society like the United States, ideas are formulated, promoted, and promulgated when they advance an "official" agenda. However, it's not really necessary for any authority to state what the "official" agenda is. The collusion to form and promote it is spontaneous.

The mainstream reaction to bitcoin is a good current example. The value of "bitcoin", today, is sort of like the value of the early world wide web. The WWW is built on a giant stack of hardware, open protocols and specifications. Near the top of that stack is the HTTP protocol. Today, millions of web servers run the HTTP protocol, millions of business transactions take place over the HTTP protocol. Today, the WWW is essential infrastructure worth countless billions of dollars. The value of bitcoin emerges from its utility as a means of exchange, the infrastructure that makes that operate, and the ideas and concepts that make that infrastructure work.

Over the past couple of weeks as the BTC price sky-rocketed, bitcoin attracted the attention of the mainstream media. The reaction is typically skeptical to negative. There's an instinctive wagon-circling; no memo from the central office is necessary to coordinate the reaction of the many apparatchiks who benefit from the current system. (Rather than provide an example here, just read Reggie Middleton's takedown of Krugman's "Anti Social Network".) This "spontaneous collusion" model is also how I view the founding of the progressive era.

Similarly, bitcoin is an example of spontaneous collusion. Many people are waking up to the inadequacies of the institutions they grew up with, really those institutions don't serve any of their needs or further their goals. Bitcoin is one of the potential alternatives. It is part of the DIY movement and a shift to removing responsibility and power from central authorities and their useless technocratic allies and distributing it.

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