August 8, 2014
Depending on who you talk to, the phrase “New World Order” means different things. To plenipotentaries and politicians, the “New World Order” might refer to “global governance,” a form of cooperation among nation-states in which laws and policies are standardized. For another group of individuals, mostly independent and some academic researchers, “New World Order” refers to a post-Bretton Woods world order in which global institutions — like the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and their associated think thanks — take authoritorian precedence over nation-states, creating effectively a “global government” defined mostly by its unity in economics and politics; including money, leaders, laws, etc.
But meaning is personal, and so these are not the only meanings for the “New World Order.” For me the “New World Order” has always been the same as the old world order: a centralized, homogenized, hierarchical, singular system. Presidents and Prime Ministers, in this view, were merely evolutions of the “king-gods” past, rather than entirely new models of authority. I came to this conclusion by keeping an open-mind towards the “planned view of history” which differs from the “circumstantial (or coincidental) view of history.” In the former, plans and agendas determine the course of history, whereas in the latter reactive decisions and spontaneity define it.
In the last five years or so a new understanding of “New World Order” has presented itself, and I predict it will be the most popular path moving forward among grounded and thoughtful individuals. For many people, accepting this New World Order will be particularly stressful because it breaks most with the past than other understandings of the term. Nearly each and everyone of us were/are educated for the current way of doing things. This is the only way we’ve ever known, and, due to our lack of harmony with nature, most people do not feel confident that, if things changed (even if for the better) they would be able to handle the stresses. (all change, good or bad, brings stresses)
Nonetheless, I do not think, no matter how people defend the ways-and-means which perpetuate power-centralization on the planet — the mechanism by which bombs are dropped, banks are bailed out and taxes are collected — it can persist in the “Light Ages.” (as opposed to the “Dark Ages,” pre-Internet, as I once heard modern-content creator Jeffrey Tucker put it)
For most people, this journey truly began at the turn of the 21st century, when Shawn Fanning — the founder of Napster — faced lawsuits and possibly jail for allowing people the world over to trade music digitally. The record labels, and many of their artists like Metallica, attacked the technology. What few noticed at the time was that, despite how new MP3 file sharing seemed, it was really an old practice. Surely, at some point in his life, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich (who is most famous, perhaps, for his hate of Napster), had copied a tape. Well, this same process had been made extremely efficient by Fanning and his creation, Napster. At the time, many people did not realize there was no turning back. They litigated and litigated. The technology had penetrated the global brain. It was here to stay.
But, there was one problem: Napster had a single point of failure. It, despite that millions of people could share with each other, was centralized in Shawn Fanning and his investors (who came on after Napster had become popular on college campuses). Governments clamped down on Napster and website users. To this day there are people in debt to dinosaur record labels to the tune of millions of dollars because they downloaded music and shared it. The following documentary, Downloaded, does a great job explaining the Napster situation. Here is a teaser:
Enter BitTorrent. BitTorrent took the centralization out of file sharing. Next thing the world knew, The Pirate Bay was giving governments and keystone corporations headaches. The headaches would persist. The Pirate Bay is, to this day, still online.
In 2003, another technology that fundamentally changed the way of doing things was released. Skype revolutionized telecommunications (telcos). Usually, in order to become a telco, lots of expensive licenses are needed, meaning only very rich people could get into the field. Skype changed this. Skype moved the world away from large, government-owned telcos, with their rules and perversity, towards software, and software that ultimately could be open-sourced (though that solution has not yet exactly come to fruition). How did Skype get around the rules? By deciding not to be a telecommunications company. The Skype developers had not made a phone, in their view, they had coded software. Today the whole world can talk for free thanks to this software.
With the help of Napster, BitTorrent, The Pirate Bay and Skype, as well as other technologies, the first decade of the 21st century is defined not by September 11 nor the War In Iraq. I think if you asked most people (zombies not included), they might say the mainstreaming of the World Wide Web is what defined the 2000-2010 period. Thanks to the popularization of the internet, the abovementioned disruptive technologies were made possible for the first time.
At the end of this 2000-2010 period, yet another disruptive technology was germinating. Bitcoin was released in January of 2009. In but a few short years, bitcoin would begin breaking into the mainstream as the “internet of money.” Like the distribution of entertainment, money had historically been distributed by fragile centralized means. Never before had an autonomous, distributed network been able to prevent the problematic “doublespend” in accounting; that is, the spending of a single token (or bill or coin) twice. Now, the internet had something it could call its own currency. By 2013 the phenomenon was mainstream. It was here to stay.
Around the same time bitcoin was gaining a foothold on the internet, Kickstarter had launched. Kickstarter, in a way, made it so any company or project could be taken public. Have a good idea but not the capital to get it in front of well-funded investors? Then just show it to the internet. Hollywood films are even using Kickstarter to fund their entire productions before making it to the bluescreen, a new, disruptive model for fund-raising in Hollywood.
Then there was 3D-printing. People are printing up things as diverse as homes and guns. These industrial robots known as 3D-printers have come down in price, and will come down in price further, making it possible to decentralize a large amount of common production methods. Like all of the other technologies in this article, 3D-printing is here to stay, with the FDA even teaching its agents about the nascent technology. NASA is using the new technology to print up the world’s first 3D-printed space cameras.
The new frontier of human organization has major implications for everybody’s lives, and the changes will continue to come quickly. Today, not only could you have your entire music library (downloaded off the internet for free) in your pocket (iPod) as Steve Jobs promised, but you could have your entire life-savings there, as well as a telecommunication device (Skype), and a wide swathe of human knowledge (internet).
So What Does This All Mean?
In a poll released today CNN indicated that the public’s trust in government is at an all-time low. Only 13% of Americans say the government can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time, with merely three-quarters saying only some of the time and one in 10 saying they never trust the government, according to the poll.
“The number who trust the government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted the government,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. Only 17% of of Americans believe that big business can be trusted to do what is right always or most of the time.
What if I were to suggest, because of the abovementioned technologies, the world did not need government nor even big business?
Peer production (also known as “mass collaboration”) is a way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals who come together to produce a shared outcome (or outcomes), as opposed to the responsibility-substituting, command-and-control-esque techniques used today via traditional voting, incorporation and so on. This mode of production has brought us many of the aforementioned goods and services.
The content or goods are produced by motivated individuals rather than paid professionals and experts, who collaborate together to market themselves and their personal toolkit (selfish) and to improve the project on which they are focused (selfless). In so doing, provided they contirbute some value for other individuals, they can ultimately earn a living.
This technique of self-organization has been made much easier because of the internet. Free and open-source software are two examples of modern processes of production and organization. A civilization arbitraging these technologies might be called an “open-source civilization” of software, spontaneity and mass-experimentation by (selfishly and selflessly motivated) individuals, which differs from the current “closed-source civilization” of Intellectual Property, monopoly on force and permission slips (licensure) for experimentation, etc.
Peer production might represent an alternative to the traditional form of bureaucracy, which exists in both the public and private sectors. One key question is if such an open-source civilization can establish rational organization and the rule-oriented (read: ethical) functioning of an overall society. And, can it be sustainable?
In an open-source civilization the divide between public and private is collapsed. We already see this in today’s day-and-age via the World Wide Web (also known as the “clearnet). We are all being policed for our own douchebaggery on forums like Facebook and Twitter. Never before have our lives been so broadcast like The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey.
Maybe this realization has caused many of us to consider our ethics. Our professional lives and our private lives have never been more enmeshed. (I think this is a good thing, simplifying our lives and allowing us to exist as one individual in the now, as opposed to the the multiple personalities of a day-job/family-at-night existence.) But this is not to say that privacy would be completely dead in an open-source civilization. Those who have followed software development and disruptive technologies over the past fifteen years have probably noticed the dizzying pace at which technology is developed and changed. Metastasizing on the web, the incipient open-source civilization of today is not the same as the mature open-source civilization of tomorrow.
And for that reason, the world of today, as we know it, is not the same as the world of tomorrow: A world in which art is disseminated peer-to-peer in exchange for micropayments of autonomously managed mathematical data, we chat and text with our loved ones (wherever they are in the world) for free and on video, and in our homes, which are dwellings we designed ourselves and printed up, a 3D-printer prints medicines from cheap, readily available and peer-reviewed chemicals, delivered from the darknet, in the kitchen. While I am not sure of the outlook for death in an open-source civilization, objectives historically funded by “taxes” might be crowdsourced. So what’s it gonna be? Donating to the most recent bombing campaign “tax” or paying the people who are going to fix your neighborhood road “tax”. Neither? That’s fine, too. It’s your call.
Justin O’Connell is the Head Researcher at Dollar Vigilante and Chief Executive Officer of GoldSilverBitcoin. He is also the author of the first full-length bitcoin book, Bitcoinomics, and administrator of the Bitcoinomics website. Justin is also a co-host at Our Very Own Special Show, a lifestyle podcast about music, news, life and other topics. He lives in San Diego, California. His writings mostly deal with gold, silver, bitcoin, technology and culture.