Charles Hoskinson on Propaganda - 21/04/2020
(Written by @Eric_Czuleger)
On April 21st 2020 Charles Hoskinson sat down to give his thoughts on propaganda, how it is made and how it is disseminated.
The cryptocurrency space is political by nature given that it deals with wealth, voting, governance, and personal autonomy.
Global structures that no individual has ever voted on have begun to illicit control over policy.
These global structures are interested in their own stability more than the wellbeing of individuals.
The media works to promote messaging on both sides of the political spectrum.
Every attempt should be made to subvert personal biases so that informed decisions can be made. This will be crucial for participating in the Cardano ecosystem.
Propaganda in crypto
Propaganda is relevant to us as an industry because once systems are not centrally controlled they are democratically controlled. This means that everyone has to have an opinion on the state of the system. We assume that people are rational and able to take input to reason about.
If we take an isolated society that no one has ever heard of before this is a rational thing to think. Mathematics is an area without much politicization. However we live in a society where people are propagandized and we are all victims of this.
This encourages us to exhibit behavioral and thought patterns. In terms of Charles Hoskinson on Twitter, after tweeting something unrelated to blockchain, he will either receive abject praise or direct encouragement to ‘stick to blockchain.’ This is an example of the fact that in the US there are two sides of the same political machine which appear different but are in fact the same.
Campaigning for a conversation
While working in the Ron Paul campaign, Charles Hoskinson helped develop a three pillar platform, maximizing personal liberty, sound money, and a humble foreign policy. These core issues were developed because in the post 9-11 United states the national debt rose massively and so did the powers of government surveillance. Furthermore there was increasing foreign conflict based on dubious information. This was the philosophical core of the campaign.
Ultimately, Ron Paul ran in order to have the conversation about these issues. Ultimately without this conversation our constitutional rights could disappear, more blood could be spilled on American hands and our money could be rendered useless. The Tea Party then rose. Originally it was a bipartisan libertarian group. However, it was then propagandized into being a right vs. left issue and it was then disbanded.
Occupy Wall Street was a similar issue. The protestors asked a simple question. Why have the bankers financial workers who precipitated the financial collapse not been punished? The US President did not seem concerned to punish any bad financial actors in spite of his political capital. Occupy Wall Street demanded a political event to have a discussion of how markets work. This was completely ineffective. This is because it was co-opted and destroyed by propaganda.
Bitcoin then came around in 2009. This became a target for propaganda as well. Critics have claimed that it will die, it is a scam, or that it has only ever been used for drugs. This came through mass media outlets and through over focusing on bad actors in the space. People still maintain irrational opinions about cryptocurrency. The narrative was then changed in 2016. It was changed to ‘You’ll get rich!”
The media went with this narrative because there was an assumption that a collapse was coming. This led to a great souring of public sentiment due to the fact that many people lost a great deal of value. Yet, people have still hung on despite the propaganda.
Back to fundamentals
The reason for this is because we are asking fundamental questions about money, society, and governance. It is not about money, it is not about drugs, and it is not about market price. Individuals get to vote in a democracy. They have rights and they may own property. These rights are extolled in a constitution. This is apparently protected by the government and banks.
However, most of this is inherited. Citizens were born into their situation and they must accept how it works.
The crypto space states that individuals did not consent to a global economy. It is only an emergent property of better technology, travel, and the ability to understand more individuals. The World Trade Organization and many other transnational operations are establishing a framework for how money works, how people express themselves, and many other things. The problem with this is that no one has a vote in how these frameworks are developed.
Global framework response
These frameworks don’t care about liberty or human rights. Rather they care about stability for the relatively large nation states. One can look at the malaria epidemic. It is relatively cheap to treat but the world order does not come together to solve it. There are genocides the world over yet the global frameworks are absent because these individuals are financially absent from the frameworks.
The great contradiction of where we are at is this. 184 countries have COVID-19. This is a disease like influenza or malaria. This is a new disease. We do not fully understand a great deal about this illness like transmissibility, the case fatality rate and treatments. Furthermore, we do not have a vaccine. Given the fact that it is novel there is a great deal that we do not know. So, it is reasonable, in the face of a new disease to try to gain an understanding of these crucial topics. Based upon those things a risk profile can be generated.
There is nothing in life that goes without risk. Some of these risks are small and some are large. Smoking starts out as a small risk that grows to a large risk. These are decisions that we make every day. Around driving there is no political debate in spite of mortal risk. However, given the fact that there are many unknowns the United States has suspended the constitution. The government is now nationalizing large parts of the economy. Businesses have been told to close and then they are being subsidized by money which has been printed out of nothing.
Letting no tragedy go to waste
Previous to this, our highest law has been the constitution. This was suspended over night. Any opinion other than the general media narrative is shut down. Meanwhile, money is being printed out of thin air in spite of the fact that no one voted on it. While the left wanted to push their agenda along with this issue the right behaved similarly. This has been our reaction in spite of a lack of understanding.
We are finding treatments and testing rapidly. We are also looking towards a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021. We have essentially found out that it is bad but not as bad as the Spanish Flu. If anyone challenges the media narrative or political action then they are reviled. There are human consequences to this however.
Half of the 20,000 restaurants in NYC will close. This represents an enormous amount of social cost. Sweden on the other hand looked at the data and decided on a different approach instead of shutting down their entire economy. Asia similarly adopted mask wearing in order to prevent the spread. In the Netherlands mass testing has shown that 3 percent of individuals have the antibodies for COVID-19. This means that many people survived and it is far less lethal than previously thought.
Obese people who have smoked over the age of 55 are very vulnerable to this illness. However, people under the age of 40 are far more resilient. As more antibody testing goes forward we will receive more information. The WHO and the CDC meanwhile, did not lead with informing the populace to wear masks.
The problem is that we shut down the United States which is turning into an economic catastrophe. Meanwhile, there are only two narratives on the left side of the aisle. The first is that Trump is evil and the other is that society is racist. If there is any deviation from these ideas than one’s ideas do not fit with the left’s narrative. Of course, a robust narrative exists on the other side of the aisle as well.
This goes to show us that narrative is malleable. Both sides accuse one another of not taking the circumstances seriously. Then it became a moment for each side to rally their bases. A disproportionate amount of minorities have been affected by this and so it has become a talking point for the left. This has exposed inequality in society though it is the belief of Charles Hoskinson that this is not racially based.
Finding facts first
It is important to have fact based conversations about this crisis. The debate should not be if we should reopen or shut down society. We should be pushing for getting all the facts rather than scoring political points. However, every evolution of this has been heavily politicized. This includes everything from PPE to respirators. The media narrative then turned to nationalizing the production capacity.
The media is important because it is the best way to disseminate information to everyone. However it is constantly leveraged to promote partisan messaging. On the right side, there is interest in reopening the economy. However, there is little interest in mass testing. Again, we should be pushing for facts rather than promoting political messaging.
Growing political control
Post 9/11 there was a tightening in political restrictions which were never relaxed. Wars developed which never ended. COVID-19 has created a similar atmosphere where narratives can be pushed and power can be coalesced. This is not about right versus left. It is about the rights we hope to maintain. The global order does not care about the individual, only its own stability.
There is good evidence that this disease came from a lab. It is possible that it was leaked rather than a malicious act. Leaks happen. However, there was a massive coverup, but no journalists have looked deeply into it. Looking into it has nothing to do with corporate interests. This is the most damaging economic event of our lifetime and we are not allowed to ask fundamental questions about its origins.
Rewriting the rules
This is why we are in the blockchain industry. We want to rewrite the rules. The basis of Cardano is the scientific method. It is about professional skepticism. We begin with a question and we make observations. We make a hypothesis and conduct an experiment. The results are interpreted and then the world is told. This is how Cardano is being built. Everything that we do with these systems follows this basic pattern.
We design protocols for society which are intrinsically political. We are looking at voting systems and stablecoins. We are working on the curation of information and managing wealth for farms. Ultimately, the point is pushing power to the edges by creating immutable rules. While the constitution was the highest law of the land it could be suspended. This is not the case with Cardano.
However, these systems only work if individuals can think for themselves and work together. They need to be rational actors. Rationality and reason can be installed with inputs of good information. This is a case study in how public opinion can be manipulated. It is also a case study in the fact that rights can be taken away or co-opted.
Our protocols will only work if people are informed and they think for themselves. There are many biases which the human mind is subject to. Individuals can overcome propaganda through education. The systems that we are building can push power to the edges but they are only as good as the quality of thinking that goes into the voting.