A few days ago, Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, said there is a “good probability” that countries could outlaw bitcoin. “Every country treasures its monopoly on controlling the supply and demand,” he explained, alluding to the deeply revolutionary aspect of the cryptocurrency, which is not tied to any country or territory.
Around here, Dalio’s comments might as well be confined to the financial pages, as if they refer to some dull, gray business taking place in some faraway realm, while what really matters, supposedly, are the coalition negotiations that are being stymied by the impotence of people who are unable to budge in the slightest from their personal fantasies, their profound cowardice and their superficial and automatic responses to put together a coalition even when it’s lying right there at their feet.
But the comments by Dalio, one of the most important business thinkers today, whose tremendous success derives largely from his understanding of our reality and the directions it’s heading (without going into his own interests and the side that he chooses in this battle), are the real news. They are the really big story.
The questions provoked by the technological advancements that essentially undercut all our fundamental societal concepts – sovereignty, popular rule, privacy, monetary policy, art, banking, manufacturing, etc. – are the things we should be pondering. This is what a society that desires independence must keep talking about.
This understanding (of which we have written here numerous times) – that the technology revolution essentially undermines states and their monopolies on our lives – is the basic key for those who want not only to talk about change but to understand how to make it happen. The question of where freedom is to be found at present, who has an interest in promoting it and who has an interest in undermining it is, therefore, the biggest question from which everything else follows.
The recognition that human existence changes at a dizzying pace and with it, many of the tenets of reality, obliges anyone who believes in freedom, who does not fear it – which most people do – to ask this question with open eyes. Dalio’s statement underscores the obvious: What was once the agent of freedom – the progress and development of the last century – is, with “good probability,” becoming the agent of stagnation. Humanity’s greatest struggles have always occurred when an old order sought to preserve its power at the expense of new and relevant forces that arose out of reality, out of life and life and advancements.
One can talk about a “civil war” that derives from ideology or ethnic polarization, and even craft an excellent comedy sketch out of it, but in truth it’s been quite a while since the citizenry was truly stirred to action by our current politics. No civil war or widespread violence is going to erupt in wake of the last election, from any side. Anyone who wishes to ratchet up this anxiety is making common cause with all those who draw on the old sentiment in order to stifle the new freedom. See: Joe Biden’s inauguration.
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As in the rest of the Western world, the only civil war that could erupt here would be between those who will seek to preserve the old order of monopolistic nation-states, even at the cost of severely weakening the deep democratization ushered in by the technology revolution – despite its known drawbacks – and those who will understand that the only real war worth fighting today is the war for freedom, that the alternative is China and that no one will be protected. See: the state of Chinese corporations and what happened to Jack Ma.
Freedom is a byproduct of an understanding of time, the recognition of its value and the courage to listen to it. Which is why the Passover Haggadah repeatedly highlights the importance of time. There can be no freedom without a connection to the spirit of the time. This is what the Arab public really grasped in the most recent election. It is the reason why it spat in the face of the Joint List.