State Formation in the Interest of Present Value

Regardless of the exact mechanism of modern state formation, be it differing modes of production (Hechter and Brustein, Regional Modes of Production and Patterns of State Formation, 1980), racketeering and war-making (Tilly, War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, 1985), or dynastic lordship (Sharma, Kinship, Property, and Authority, 2015), the impetus for ceding power to a trusted third party is always to serve as a hedge in the face of evolving power dynamics among competing elements of the bourgeoisie. In other words, when Marx said “the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (The Communist Manifesto), the claim wasn’t reductionist, as Mann alludes (Mann, The autonomous power of the state, 1984). It was simply correct.

To begin, no one would willingly cede authority nor sovereignty over themselves to another party. This is only ever done for fear of violence, whether that be an act of aggression or societal reprisal. Such cession occurs solely when one perceives the present value of avoiding violence is greater than the opportunity cost of ceding sovereignty. Thus arises the theory of alliances of protection, which is the crux of most arguments regarding state formation.

But the protection of what? The answer is the means of production.

It must be understood that, initially, everyone owned some means of production. This is not to say that they owned merely their own labor, as most do today. It is to say that they owned some means of production over and above their labor. They owned the arable land or the hunting grounds. They owned their labor, as all do, but in addition, they enjoyed access to the material that production requires, and they owed no tribute for it.

Moving through the stages of enclosure and capital accumulation and the alliances of protection and tribute schemes that stemmed from them, we arrive, ultimately, at a point where all the means of production, every acre of land, is in the possession of someone. Another uneasy alliance arises, between those that own the means and those that know how to merchandise and finance. Neither wants to cede power to the other, but the present value of preserving the relationship is greater than the opportunity cost of destroying it. A tenuous peace, secured in law and maintained by a bureaucratic State, is thereby created.

That this might happen necessarily, as many might claim, is not empirically evidenced. The existence of functional societies in which no State arose, in which the cession of sovereignty was minimal, wherein all participants enjoyed relatively equal standing and there was little systemic incentive toward social mobility, such as those described by Hechter and Brustein, reminds us of this fact. State formation, then, is the direct result of capital accumulation and the willingness to leverage that capital against those with less toward the acquisition of more, to the exclusion of others.    

Nowhere does there exist today a State in which every member possesses the means of production. This, by definition, makes the State an instrument of the bourgeoisie, as it is the laws and bureaucracy of the State that enforce the property rights of those who own the means of production. For should some plucky proletariat attempt to avail themselves of those means, say by killing one of the king’s deer, they would suffer the wrath, not of society at large, but of the bourgeoisie at the hands of the State.

Blockchain Eliminates the Need for Intermediaries

The reason no one can find a business model for blockchain is because blockchain eliminates most business models.

The strongest use case is the simplest, and the one most often overlooked. The beauty of the blockchain is in its decentralization and the empowerment that decentralization confers. No longer is anyone forced to defer their personal sovereignty to that of some central authority. On the blockchain, each of us can remain autonomous while still participating in the commons.

Participation is the currency of our decentralized future. Want to join a network? Then you must host the network, if only that very data you desire to contribute.

No longer will you provide your personal data to some third party, to host and serve back to you at their convenience. Each individual will maintain their virtual identity on their own “cloud”, sharing it with other networks when and how they see fit. My feed — photos, messages, interactions — will live on my device or personal server, which will serve it to those that call it through the Facebook of the Future, in only such a manner as I have enabled. My funds, my titles of ownership, my health history, will all reside with me, to be called and served however, and only, as I choose.

The validity of these assets will be assured by the distributed ledger. There will be no disputing who holds title to a piece of property. No government or title company will be required to hold or confer it. Record of its ownership will be immutably maintained on every computer in the world.

Our problem with the blockchain is not that use cases for it cannot be found. To the contrary. Its problem is that it changes everything. It makes old methods obsolete, and any attempt to create a use case within the context of our legacy systems falls apart in the face of this fact.

The problem lies not with the blockchain. It lies with us.

This Election is Proof We No Longer Need a President

I have to admit, in the days following the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States, I was depressed. Not that I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, far from it — I waffled between casting my vote for Gary Johnson or Zoltan Istvan — but because I had always maintained great reverence for the position. See, I grew up in a time when being president meant something. The cast of my politics was forged upon the momentous statesmanship of Ronald Reagan, and my formative years were spent with the disgrace Richard Nixon brought upon the presidency still fresh in everyone’s memory. To this day, I have a 1968 vintage Presidents of the United States book set from American Heritage on my shelf.

No, what troubled me most about the fact that the electorate would even consider someone like Donald Trump, a mere personality, worthy of the greatest office on earth, let alone allow them to hold it, was the insult. The sanctity of the presidency was abolished with Trump’s election. His entry into the White House can only mean that we either subscribe to his primitive ideology, collectively, or we’re living in an idiocracy.

So considering neither of these to be acceptable, I was understandably shaken. Until I realized a third option. That the United States no longer has need for a president.

Now this is not to say that we don’t need a head of state, someone to serve as our chief public representative to the United Nations and other sovereign states. We do — though in that context Donald Trump is even less fit for the job. What it means, rather, is that we have finally realized our true capacity for self-governance. We no longer have need for a central authority.

To be sure, even the staunchest supporter of Donald Trump wouldn’t dream of ceding him power over their personal finances, let alone give him control over their lives. Their message wasn’t that they confer upon him any real confidence or defer to his judgement in any way. That wasn’t what they were trying to say in voting for him. No, the message America sent on Election Day 2016 was that they have no need for Washington D.C. whatsoever.

Personally, I am heartened by this realization, because, while being far from a globalist, I do see the world as a global community. Watching a clip on YouTube about the manned mission to Mars with my two young boys, I was emboldened by the knowledge that over a dozen countries are involved with the operation and maintenance of the International Space Station. With that level of cooperation in space, the likelihood of a terrestrial global military conflagration shrinks to near impossibility.

Indeed, it is only fitting that it was Hillary Clinton who placed the final nail in the presidential coffin, as it was her husband who cemented for Millennials an undermined confidence in the presidency in the first place. Nearly since birth, they have heard it disgraced, discredited, denounced, decried. The only holder of the office for whom they maintain any respect, Barack Obama, is more of a bro than an authority figure. He shares his playlists with them, Tweets, does interviews with Marc Maron and Vice. At least he can relate.

See the thing is, the generations of today don’t need a father figure telling them who they can date, or what they can spend their money on, or that they need to go to war anymore. Each generation since the Baby Boom has become more autonomous, more independent, more confident in their own capacity for self-determination. We don’t need a bunch of old white men, condescending coastal elites, or moneyed power brokers determining the future for us. We didn’t need Donald Trump, and we sure as hell don’t need Joe Biden.

In fact, we don’t need to be governed at all.

Don’t fret friends. We got this.