For centuries, technological progress has poured from the First World fountainhead of innovation, eventually trickling down to the Third World. People in Shanghai, Tel Aviv, and San Jose get to play with the prototypes, then the rest of us get to be the early adopters, and it eventually finds its way to the Middle Eastern bazaar, Indian village, and African jungle.
This year’s Bitcoin Conference may have been held in the predictable locale of San Jose, and its most prominent champions may have been those parodied paragons of privilege, the Winklevoss Twins, but Bitcoin, Android, encrypted communication, and other bleeding-edge technologies are actually destined to proliferate first in the periphery, only becoming ubiquitous in Silicon Valley after they’ve long since become ubiquitous in the darkest, least literate, and most poverty-stricken corners of the globe.
The reason? We’ve reached a historical turning point where monolithic Western institutions are now threatened by technological advancement. Up until recently, technological progress has relied on centralized high-investment systems. Western corporations helped propel the network because they could profit from and thrive within the context it created. As technology is becoming cheap, wireless, and distributed, it’s becoming more difficult for them to control and it’s becoming more difficult for them to profit within its emerging contexts.The father of the Internet (FedGov) and its corporate and academic midwives will lose control of their creation.
The phase transition is coming with the plummeting cost of Android mobile phones. Within months, the retail price of fully functional smartphones will be within reach of Third World villagers. From there, a critical mass of people who are essentially outside the reach of either domestic or international law will have the most powerful tool for communication and transaction in the history of mankind. It would be impossible to predict precisely how this will play out, but longstanding institutional monopolies on communication and transaction, monopolies which are keystone elements in the consolidation and projection of the power of modern states, will be existentially threatened.
In the Middle East, Twitter is pulling revolutions in unexpected directions, operating largely outside the reach of the media moguls who formerly held a firm grip on the public discussion, defining its boundaries and nudging its progression toward their interests. In Kenya, digital crypto-currencies might already be poised to challenge sovereign monetary systems:
A project underway in Kenya is linking Bitcoin with M-Pesa, a popular mobile payments system, in an experiment designed to spur innovative payments in Africa.
Kipochi, which means wallet in Swahili, is a web service launched earlier this month by entrepreneur and programmer Pelle Braendgaard, who has followed digital currencies since the 1990s.
The service lets people buy bitcoins using M-Pesa, a widely used mobile payments service launched by Kenyan operator Safaricom with partner Vodafone in 2007. About a third of Kenya’s 44 million people use the service to transfer small amounts to other people using their phone number and to merchants.
M-Pesa runs on a SIM card on feature phones and uses an operator menu to perform transactions. A network of agents not affiliated with banks accept M-Pesa deposits to credit accounts. Small fees are charged to transfer and withdraw money.
But M-Pesa only works within Kenya. Braendgaard sees Kipochi as a way for Kenyans to use the Bitcoin system in order to receive, for example, remittances from outside the country without incurring high bank or wire transfer fees. Kenyans send an average of about $99 million per month back home, according to the country’s central bank.
“For us, Bitcoin solves most of those issues,” Braendgaard said an interview from Kenya.
The current global order, especially the Western oligarchies, is perched precariously atop a fractional reserve central banking fiat currency cartel which is not going to survive the advent of ubiquitous smartphones capable of facilitating immediate, anonymous, and secure financial transactions. In the First World, the financial system, Internal Revenue Service, and police state surveillance agencies have many more cards to play before they’re empty-handed. Furthermore, First World citizens are accustomed to relying on their currencies and trusting their stability. By contrast, the Third World governments are neither trusted with the money nor capable of precluding their pursuit of alternatives to sovereign fiat monetary frameworks.
An archaeo-futurist world is coming where tribalism, religious fanaticism, and pervasive assymetrical fourth-generation warfare combine with the most advanced technology to leapfrog the atheist, obese, infertile, and thoroughly domesticated Western populations and their derelict anarcho-tyrannical institutions. Bloodthirsty warlords will tweet about their latest conquests, post Instagram snapshots of the villagers they’ve pillaged, and orchestrate their own public relations experiences with Google Hangouts, funding their campaigns with crypto-currency transferred to them by wealthy First World oligarchies they’ve aligned with.
As bizarre as this future may seem, much of it’s already here. The very Al Qaeda militants who terrorize American citizens and cannibalize their enemy combatants are boasting about their feasts on YouTube while being funded and supplied by the First World states who now rely on them. The future’s a frightening place, one which has been earned by decades of decadence and neglect of our duties. The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter will return, and the nature red in tooth and claw we imagined to be obsolete will come roaring back to a people who are entirely unprepared. As Traditionalists and would-be stewards of our folk, our success or failure will rest upon our capacity to anticipate future events and raise up a remnant of men and women capable of surviving and thriving in the ruins of the modern world.