The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau recently made a policy choice that aggressively targets anti-vax mandate protests. This decision will turn out to be a major policy blunder that accelerates the digital transformation. Through his actions, Trudeau has indirectly weakened the influence of not only Canada’s government, but other nation-states around the world.
First, Some Background Info
Trudeau’s emergency orders are designed to freeze the assets and money of anyone at the “Trucker Protest”. This includes anyone who has provided aid to the protest. The decree instructs financial institutions including banks, investment companies, fundraising platforms, and insurance companies to identify “protestors” and freeze their respective accounts. In short, the mandate deputizes businesses to identify and retroactively punish individuals and businesses without due process.
Regardless of which “side” you find yourself on politically re: the actual protest, this is precedent-setting policy. It has massive implications for money, tribalism, and power dynamics in the digital age. And it will have long-lasting consequences around the world for how individuals interact with governments, belief systems, and decentralized technologies.
In this essay, I’ll explain what the digital transformation is, how digital technology changes society by providing lifestyle alternatives, how freezing financial assets violates social norms of the late industrial age which accelerates digital trends, and ultimately why this Canadian policy impacts the entirety of the world.
The bottom line: a democratic and “free” country has adopted authoritarian policies. They restrict and punish the beliefs of an opposition movement. This action is seen around the world. And it will incentivize individuals with alternative beliefs to seek out digital technologies to “exit” the system.
Context: We’re Living Through The Digital Transformation
To understand why this policy decision is a blunder, it’s necessary to understand that we’re living through a digital transformation.
In the late industrial age, mass production incentivized society to form large communities (the nation-state). This was done in order to aggregate resources, organize protection, and coordinate mutual protection. Think of this mass formation as the bundling of society. As a consequence of mass formation, governments became very large, influential, and many developed their own monetary systems.
In many respects, a distinct monetary system was used as a signal of economic and military power.
In with internet and globalization, mass formation started to breakdown. Causing society started to fragment across a growing number of belief systems. Ie: it has begun to unbundle the value and benefits of a mass formation society. Instead of a few large influential communities and nation-states, we now have many.
In addition to nation states, there are a growing number of NGOs and communities with power, influence, and the loyalty of global citizens. As a result, there are many belief systems and “lifestyles” that compete for loyalty in our increasingly connected global society. (This is neo medievalism)
The point is that digital technologies make it easier to connect with people, design unique lifestyles, and have unique beliefs. This comes in contrast to the one size fits all lifestyle approach of the peak nation-state time period. Digital technologies provide access to new ways of living and make it easier to move to new communities with beliefs that align with these divergent lifestyles.
These trends, such as remote work, social media, decentralized digital assets, and a growing comfort with English as a global language have empowered the technology-enabled exit. Ie: When faced with bad policies, bad lifestyles, lack of work, and other reasons, people can relocate to better places with ease.
What This Has To Do With Freezing Assets?
Society is transitioning away from the mass formation of beliefs to an unbundled society with diverse beliefs and loyalties. Individuals are evaluating their government’s policies and assessing whether or not they align with their values and belief systems.
And this is evaluation is especially true with regards to monetary systems and policies. The policy choice made by Trudeau fundamentally violates the norms established by the late industrial age monetary systems. And in doing so, it accelerates the unbundling of loyalties within society.
Trudeau’s violation of monetary norms must be viewed with an understanding of the context of the digital transformation. Because before the digital age, Canadians might have just tolerated this violation. But now, they can weigh Canadian policy against other options and exit the Canadian system in favor of alternatives.
People were already choosing to relocate for a variety of lifestyle preferences. So, freezing people’s money because of their divergent beliefs when they have alternative options will push large numbers of people towards the new options faster than they otherwise would.
The Consequence Of An Unbundling Society
We’re digitally connected. The entire world is watching.
If one of the “highest rated democracies” rapidly implements totalitarian measures and attack alternative belief systems without due process, what might happen in other countries with “less freedom”? ie: the Trudeau policy increases the globally connected individual’s doubt in mass formation society. It fosters a desire to explore alternative options and to opt for hedges and alternatives offered by the digital transformation.
This policy and the reaction to it will siphon power from governments to individuals and communities. Thus, accelerating society towards the end result of the digital transformation. In the digital age, individuals have more power than ever before.
With this context in mind, it makes sense to dive deeper into the history of money as a social technology. And explore how the Trudeau policy violates the rules of the old game and why this will push people away. Because the digital transformation alone isn’t enough to pull the mainstream towards adoption. Policy blunders of the past system will drive people towards new alternatives. Here’s how and why.
Money Is A Social Technology
There have been many different monetary systems, units of account, and various forms of money throughout history. But regardless of the differences in mechanics, money is and always has been a faith-based social technology. Throughout history, money has been deemed valuable in part because of the faith of its supporting social networks.
As society has grown, monetary technologies have evolved to support the growth of society. And in many cases, new monetary technologies have actually helped society grow. But hidden behind the growth, new monetary systems have always been supported by an expansion of the underlying social network.
One rule must always be true for a society to adopt and value a form of money. Keep in mind, society is a social network. And the people in this network must have trust in the underlying rules of the monetary system. If those rules are changed or betrayed, belief in the system fades, and the value of the money will fall.
The point here is that monetary technology adapts as the network of people that relyies on it grows. As more people join the monetary network, the system of value must be able to scale to meet the needs of that growing network of people. Regardless of what is used to derive money’s underlying value, there is always a faith-based component to the system. Users must come together and have belief in the value of the underlying system. If their belief falters, the value falters. If it grows, the value grows.
Belief In The Fiat System Is Faltering As We Experience The Digital Transformation
Belief in the system is central to the market making function of economies.
The internet, and the broader digital transformation represents the peak of societal integration. The global networks of people have combined incorporating all nation state systems into one global system. This digital system is on track to incorporate all people around the world. Likely by the end of the 2020 decade.
The rapid growth of the digital network is once again necessitating a new monetary technology (or an adaptation of the old system) to meet the changing needs of a fully networked global society.
ie: we’re moving away from people only interacting with each other within their nation state.
Now, more business is conducted on a peer-to-peer basis around the world. And the consequences of government monetary policy are increasingly coming into conflict with the needs of the individual and the growing number of digital communities. We’ve seen it in the way that a financial crisis that begins in one country typically impacts all countries.
This is the truth that makes Canada’s recent emergency decree so fascinating. It fundamentally betrays the rules of the industrial era monetary system. It violates the faith that governments rule by fiat will not fundamentally harm an individual’s freedom to voice decent.
By targeting the financial assets of dissenting voices via force, the Trudeau administration has paved the way for the rapid breakdown of belief in the “fiat” monetary system. And because of the interconnected nature of this growing global social network, it will not be a contained monetary issue. It will spread throughout the world.
Social Networks Make Up The Market Economy
A social network of people is a community. And this community network must collectively believe in the underlying value proposition of the money they agree to use. This is how all money works. Regardless of whether that money is backed by a government military or a rock that has been deemed valuable by human civilization for thousands of years, or a global system of computers verifying a public transaction database.
The value of money rises and falls as the community interacts both internally and externally with others. Evaluating the value of a money system versus goods, services, and other forms of money. This market dynamic makes up “the economy”.
Value Is Derived From Faith And Belief In The Rules of The Game/Network
The point is that the community of people must have some form of belief that the system of money will work tomorrow as it works today. A government enforcing rule of law and a strict control of the units of money in circulation supports belief. Or it might be a finite amount of gold that backs the currency, or that software will continue to propagate the bitcoin network.
The belief that there is a system of control to ensure the money system is stable. The belief in future, stable value is core to the success of money. We need to know that when we place our money in a bank, or spend it tomorrow, that it won’t drop in value or be seized by some government official for a violation of some sort.
When Government Policy Violates The Rules of The Game – A Violation of the Social Contract
Without faith in the system, it would be impossible for a collective group of human beings to trust the decisions made that rely on the future of a shared monetary system. Because in a sense, modern money relies on promissory notes. IOU’s and trust that the institutions that hold your financial assets will honor their commitments to protecting your ownership of the underlying assets.
And so, with this context and background established, the recent policy decision by Justin Trudeau’s Canadian administration can be understood.
They are enacting emergy powers to restrict civil liberties and fundamentally alter the social network’s faith underlying the monetary system. A predesigned system that outlines the acceptable use of force to ensure a level playing field for the monetary system. Th Trudeau government has implied, you are with us in our beliefs, or you will be frozen out of the system. And that has massive implications for how people will assess their faith in the Canadian monetary system.
While it may be well-intentioned, it is a tactical blunder of significant proportions when taken into context with the digital transformation. Ie: neo medievalism, decentralized and censorship-resistant currencies, and the ability to work remotely that empower massive freedom to conduct a tech-enabled exit.
The government has unintentionally signaled a change of the rules of the game. Without consent of the people. And they’ve failed to understand that the individual now has unprecedented leverage. An ability to bypass traditional monetary systems, an ability to form relationships with communities outside of government reach all around the world, and an ability to easily pick up life and leave.
The Key Point: This Blunder Accelerates The Digital Transformation
We may look back at this decision as a critical turning point in societal history. A decision that further accelerates many of the trends already underway. Governments around the world (both authoritarian and democratic) will look on in wonder at the consequences of these choices. And watch a reduction in influence they ultimately create for the Trudeau administration. What might it mean for these other governments? It’s highly probable that many people around the world have watched this policy implementation.
Money is a type of information. Using money is practicing a belief. It is representative of value exchanged between people. Which is a belief system. And so, when you restrict access from one group or another, you are in effect committing a type of censorship. Selecting who can and cannot participate in a society. The beliefs that are and are not acceptable. Restricting flows of money is censorship and censorship is the antithesis of free society.
Canada’s swift move from democratic society to totalitarian emergency powers (and the resulting threat to freeze people out of the financial system) have unwittingly shed light on the thin ice that legacy financial systems exist upon in the digital age.
Where once there was no option but to adapt to government-controlled fiat, there are now an increasing number of alternatives. Bitcoin as a non-governmental and censorship resistant money or, the alternative, which is the tech enabled exit. As a direct consequence, all governments and their people with access to this Canadian decision, have a clear view of how the world has changed.
If you’re a global money manager, how might this impact your decision to invest in Canada knowing that they can retroactively change the rules of the game to punish political enemies?
If you’re an individual, why hold your savings in a country and via their monetary system when they can change the rules of the game and retroactively punish you for sedition?
The Entire World Is Watching And Adapting
If it can be done to them, it can be done anywhere.
Zoom out and focus on the other interconnected trends of the digital age. ie: remote work, neo medievalism, and the technology-enabled exit. If you can work online for employers/clients around the world, you can accept bitcoin as a form of payment. A payment that is censorship-resistant. ie: Bitcoin.
What will the government do? Shut down your internet access? In that event, you’ve got worse problems than financial censorship and will likely need to flee the country immediately. (They won’t do this in my opinion. Because as I’ve stated previously, I believe this was a well-intentioned but significant tactical blunder by the Trudeau administration).
So in a world where you can work online, you can earn bitcoin without the need for bitcoin onramps. And this will functionally start the rally of bitcoin’s mass adoption.It will accelerate the trend of bitcoins adoption.
Conclusion: It Will Seem Insignificant Until In Hindsight It Doesn’t
This policy decision matters.
It’s a significant policy precedent set in what was thought to be one of the more “free” nations in the world. This particular issue will blow over. The Trucker Protest will be broken up, assets will or wont be returned, and the average observer will return to their regular lives. But the consequences will appear as a slow burn in the back of our collective minds. Our beliefs towards decentralized technologies will continue to blossom. And in time, we can expect to look back and say, yea, that was the moment when mainstream adoption of major digital trends really started to accelerate.
Gates Law is in effect with this transformation. “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.”
*Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash