Blockchain will Revolutionize Politics
Written by: Jackson Rawlings
Originally published at: https://medium.com/the-politicalists/blockchain-will-revolutionise-politics-a5a11472f71d
“Understanding block-chain makes you go mad, unless you start your own cult”
Before you think it, no, I’m not one of those Silicon Valley tech bros who believes the answer to everything is Huel and Blockchain. Honestly, I barely even understand Blockchain, not properly.
I’ve read, like, two books on it, and a couple of handfuls of articles.
But even with that basic knowledge, I can see it’s the future of politics as we know it.
1/ It will transform voting
Every four or five years we queue up in the pouring rain at some crumbly old town hall, just to put an X on a bit of paper next to a name we think might make things a bit better.
That’s basically all most of us do in terms of actively participating in politics.
Every time I do it, I’m still shocked at how archaic it is.
The problem is, the alternatives are far too susceptible to corruption and fraud.
Postal voting, e-voting, and even the sorts of machine voting that exists in the US are far easier to rig than a plain old pencil-on-paper vote.
Thankfully, Blockchain offers an alternative that is much safer than paper votes, while being just as, or even more, convenient than postal and e-votes.
I’m not going to try and explain how it would work, with my two books and a few articles worth of knowledge. Read how a different Jackson (Jackson Ng) explains it, in much greater depth than I ever could: https://medium.com/coinmonks/voting-on-a-blockchain-how-it-works-3bb41582f403
2/ It will reduce apathy
If voting was as easy as clicking a button on your phone, most people would have no problem engaging in the political process.
In fact, you could encourage people to engage FAR MORE.
How often are people sharing political posts on social media, or signing e-petitions or commenting on political blogs?
What if voting on issues was just as easy? Better yet, what if voting WAS that. What if voting incorporated all the comments and the petitions and posts.
What are the arguments against?
Basically, a. it devalues the political process. b. People are dumb. c. People will get bored.
So, let’s answer those in turn:
a. Devalues politics
Erm, have you seen what’s been going on recently? *Gestures broadly to outside*
Long gone are the days of ‘noble’ land-owning gentleman or ancient philosophers musing for days or weeks on end about an issue, writing each other letters with arguments and counterarguments.
Yes, it would be lovely if we all sat around in the agora, very seriously and very solemnly discussing the issues of the day, intellectually tossing each other off, before voting.
But real, modern life, is never gonna be like that.
It will always be messy, it will always have people taking things seriously and people taking the piss.
And politics needs to reflect that. It needs to keep up. It needs to be quick, it needs to be flexible and haphazard.
b. People are Dumb
Yep, they sure are.
But that mustn’t prevent them from being politically active.
If we refuse people the right to vote or engage based on whatever arbitrary metric of intelligence is in vogue at the time, we’ll go down a very bad path (hint: it ends with goosestepping and gas chambers).
Instead, we must ensure, alongside our new Blockchain political process, to find ways to prevent misinformation, favour truth, and encourage proper education.
These are all asides but which will be fundamental to this sort of project working, otherwise it will just exaggerate our existing issues.
c. People will get bored
Nah. People never get bored of giving their shitty two cents on every fucking issue known to man.
I mean, isn’t that why Facebook and Twitter and yes, even Medium, are multimillion or billion-dollar companies? People love to chat shit.
People will not get bored with being engaged in politics. They’re just bored of the current methods given by the state to enact their points of view.
Allow them to voice their opinion in a way that could actively change things, all the while not having to pause Tiger King, and they’ll bite your hand off.
So what does this mean?
It means that political apathy is not a problem. Voting apathy is a problem.
Make voting better, and you get better votes.
3/ It will fight back against creeping authoritarianism
The fightback against authoritarianism will take many forms. But Blockchain will be at the heart of it.
When a national currency is owned and controlled by a government, and that government is corrupt or authoritarian, it follows that anyone who wants a slice of the pie must either corrupt themselves or censor their views to toe the party line.
In other words, the CEO of an Oil Company in Venezuela is unlikely to speak out against the human rights abuses committed by the Maduro regime — because their tax breaks, and kickbacks, and fair treatment by the government, rely on them singing from the same hymn sheet.
Likewise, a journalist who wants to make a living in Venezuela probably ought not to criticise the regime. At best, they may get fired or their articles censored by the media bosses. At worst, they may disappear.
In other words, the centralised currency makes maintaining an authoritarian government a much easier exercise than the alternative.
And what is the alternative?
Well, there was a reason I used Venezuela as an example.
In Venezuela, anti-government protestors, journalists and citizens have begun to use a decentralised currency, in order to get around the censorship and coercion of the regime. And that decentralised currency relies on Blockchain technology.
This isn’t a unique scenario. In Hong Kong, protesters have been using Bitcoin to get around Chinese censorship and influence. Likewise in Chile, where Government-caused financial uncertainty has caused massive price hikes on everyday products and services, Bitcoin is establishing itself as the decentralised alternative.
This is going to be replicated around the world in the coming years. As more and more political instability leads to greater financial instability, decentralised currency will emerge as the solution.
Listen, it’s easy to wax lyrical about Blockchain when we’ve not seen it in action much, and we can impress on it all our hopes and dreams.
But the reality is, even at the lower end of the predictions, this is going to transform our world and our politics.
Improved voting processes and political engagement are the obvious and simple results of implementing the technology. Anti-authoritarianism as a result of decentralised currency usage, that’s something we can see in practice already.
That and more is to come. It’s time our governments started planning for this eventuality.
And even if they don’t, then we, the citizens, most certainly should,