Towards a Recentralized Center
Our base scenario doesn’t contemplate an extended Second Cold War between communism and capitalism.
But we do think that the choice between American Anarchy and Chinese Control can be seen as a kind of global ideological struggle of a different kind, as a choice between decentralization and centralization.
Do you go with the failed centralization of NYT and the declining US establishment? The total decentralization of Bitcoin Maximalism? Or the totalitarian centralization of the CCP?
A better answer might be: none of the above. That instead of choosing either anarchic decentralization or coercive centralization, we choose volitional recentralization.
When you mention a recentralized center, at first it seems laughable. The centralists will say “what’s the point of decentralizing then? Just stick with our existing system!” And the decentralists will say “new boss, same as the old boss, I prefer freedom!” Derisive references to Rube Goldberg Machines and Animal Farm will abound.
But the whole point is that the new boss is not the same as the old boss, anymore than Apple was the same as BlackBerry, Amazon was the same as Barnes and Noble, or America was the same as Britain. Recentralization means new leaders, fresh blood. Just as companies and technologies keep leapfrogging each other, so too can new societies with One Commandments combine moral and technological innovation to genuinely progress beyond our status quo.
Recentralization is not about going full circle and making zero progress. It’s the helical theory of history. Recentralization, done right, is a cycle back to centralization from one vantage point but a step forward from another.
I don’t agree with him on everything, but Yuval Harari has a good quote on this:
I mean we need institutions actually more, but there is this wave of distrust against them. Now, it doesn’t mean we need the old institutions. It doesn’t mean that we have to stick with the old media. Maybe we need new media institutions, which will be more diverse, which will give more people a chance to voice their opinions, but in the end we will need to build these institutions. The idea that we can just do without them, that we’ll have just this free market of ideas and anybody can say anything, and we don’t want institutions to kind of stand in the middle, and curate and decide what is reliable and what is not reliable, this doesn’t work, it’s been tried so many times in history.
You know, if you look at religious history, to take a counter example, so you have in Christianity, again and again these people coming and saying, “you know, we don’t want the Catholic Church, this institution, let’s just every person can read the Bible for himself and know the truth, what is more simple than that, why do we need an institution,” and you have the Reformation, the protestant Reformation. And within twenty years or fifty years, they realize that when you let every person read the Bible for themselves you get 100 different interpretations, [each] radically different.
So eventually someone comes and says “No, these are the correct interpretations” and you get the Lutheran church. And after 100 years, someone says “wait, but the whole idea of the Reformation was to get rid of the Church so we don’t want the Lutheran church. Let every person just read the Bible and understand by themselves.” And you have chaos. And after 50 years, you have the Baptist church, and this church, and that.. you always go back to institutions. So it’s the same with the kind of information explosion that we have right now.
Note that in this example the Protestants, and then the Lutherans, and then the Baptists had to attract people to their interpretations. Many other competing denominations did not. This process of constantly forking and innovating and having it compete in the marketplace brings in new blood.
And that’s the concept of the recentralized center. The way to demonstrate it’s a step forward is via mass exodus of people from both American Anarchy and Chinese Control to the recentralized center, to high-trust startup societies and network states.