Business

The fall of crony capitalism

If Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were somehow transported into the present and given them a newspaper, the apparent lack of class conflict would probably lead the revolutionaries to believe they had won. You would see a society divided on all sorts of issues – from identity politics to the right COVID-19 strategy – but virtually silent on the perennial struggle between labor and capital, the oppressor and the exploited.

How different would it have been if they had returned just 10 years ago, when the Occupy movement was in full swing as tent cities sprung up to protest crony capitalism, corporate greed and a ruthless, out-of-control financial sector protest. A decade later, the same issues linger, but they’ve become a barely perceptible background hum amid the churning, raging culture wars.

The 1% may sleep easier these days, but any complacency they feel is deeply misplaced. The anger has never really left, and as inequality has become even more pronounced, capitalism’s discontent is no longer confined to the left. Crucially, these proto-revolutionaries now have access to the most powerful economic weapon ordinary citizens have ever had.

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welfare for the rich

Why is a revolution brewing? Because people are not stupid. You see governments spending trillions of dollars to prop up the too-big corporations while the poor continue to struggle paycheck to paycheck. What most fail to realize, however, is that governments to know that welfare for the rich hits the poor hardest. In fact, they’ve known it for almost 300 years.

First described in the early 18th century, the Cantillon Effect describes how printing money makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. When significant amounts of new money are pumped into an economy, the first recipients can spend the money before prices have risen. If they are cautious – like the rich do – they invest in assets such as real estate, precious metals, art or fine wine.

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Until that money “trickles down” to the poor (if it ever does), the inflationary effects of printing will massively devalue it. When prices rise, the rich double their gains as they see the value of their wealth rise, while the poor lose twice as the cost of living rises.

You don’t have to be a socialist to rage against an economic machine that makes life harder for the poorest in society and rewards reckless corporate behavior. What is seldom understood, however, is that this is not a flaw of our supposedly capitalist economic system—it is a feature.

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Crony capitalism and “soft socialism”

It is common to blame “capitalism” for the economic and social problems facing the world today. If Marx were alive today, he would love a lot about our financial system—including concepts drawn directly from him The Communist Manifesto. For example, Marx’s fifth principle of communism advocates the “centralization of credit in the hands of the state, through a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.” Sound familiar?

The truth is that in many ways we are indeed living in a “soft socialist” utopia, where regulations, subsidies, and other government intervention are designed to protect corporate giants and those whose wealth resides in assets rather than savings accounts. It is hard to imagine how another shift to the left will solve the structural weaknesses of an economic system that already sees money printing as the solution to all problems. On the other hand, on the eve of a full blood and thunder revolution, it’s difficult to see what we’re doing can do against such powerful interest groups and their political supporters. To borrow a favorite phrase from Vladimir Lenin: What should I do?

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Whether you are left or right, the answer is to avoid fighting the rich on their own terms. There is only one way for the poorest in society to take power from the hands of the 1% and that is by denying them the ability to manipulate fiat currency.

A bloodless revolution

Can Bitcoin (BTC) really challenge (and without bloodshed) the millennia-old hegemony of the wealth-owning class? You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Just ask Salvadorans.

Before bitcoin, Salvadorans receiving remittances from abroad had to pay a sizable fee to money transfer companies like Western Union or MoneyGram — cash that would be much better spent on groceries or medicine. Now that bitcoin is accepted as legal tender, these companies are losing an estimated $400 million a year. That’s money going straight back into the pockets of the world’s poorest.

This is how the revolution will take place – not by force, but by choice. Show people how the fiat system is making them poorer, give them the opportunity to grow their wealth in non-inflatable bitcoins, and they will vote with their feet. Rather than being brought down by a lightning strike, fiat money will simply lose its relevance as more people use Bitcoin to inoculate themselves against inflation. This will accelerate as the “squashed middle” is hit harder, with history providing ample evidence that revolutions only happen when the middle class and political moderates embrace the revolution’s radical ideas.

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That same whiff of rebellion is in the air today. People long ago lost faith in their politicians, but now they are beginning to question traditional economic and monetary narratives. What’s so compelling about bitcoin is that it doesn’t need to preach its own gospel or attack the other side: the more people learn about bitcoin, the more they understand how they’re being cheated under the current system.

Bitcoin critics like to claim that it is too complex for mass adoption. But which is harder to pin down, a digital currency with a hard cap of 21 million coins, or the confounding sleight of hand used by central banks and finance ministers to disguise inflationary policies that reward the rich and hurt the poor?

While revolutionary France had the guillotine and Soviet Russia had the gulag, we don’t need to use terror to fight the tyranny of unsound money. Ours is a truly velvet revolution: our only weapon is an alternative currency that cannot be inflated, censored or otherwise manipulated, and the only “victims” are those who commit murder to a system that harms everyone else.

This article does not contain any investment advice or recommendation. Every investment and trading move involves risk and readers should do their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Nik Orayevsky is co-founder of Bitcoin Reserve. Nik has been with Bitcoin since 2012 and has worked with wallet and exchange startups in North America, helping to develop and lead their strategic vision. He also worked in international finance and fund management in Liechtenstein before embarking on the brokerage route with Bitcoin Reserve, aiming to bring smart bitcoin buying to all of Europe.