Welcome to Nuclear Yolocaust times
Gov is dead. Network is in charge. With its immortal and maximalist vibes.
It’s an understatement to say we live in dangerous times. People once truly believed in God. They trembled in fear, thinking he would punish them for their sins and missteps. Then God died, as Nietzsche said. Because the elites started to believe in Gov instead. Now the Gov is dead. Because, as Balaji Srinivasan says, people believe in Network.
You cannot do certain things, either because you don’t have access to the network (private keys) or because the network punishes and cancels you if you do them. Putin is learning this lesson the hard way.
The printing press revolution caused the bloody Thirty Years’ War and the result was The Peace of Westphalia, with nation states and efficient bureaucracies. Alexander Bard explains how a book cost the equivalent of $150,000 before the printing press revolution and 30c after. Bard also mentions how Hegel observed Napoleon’s army in Jena and he, being a philosopher, was truly excited by something very new – an army where every soldier could read and write. Prussians tried to copy this revolution and we got our current factory-like education. Then the Sputnik moment came and the West invested heavily in STEM education.
The US is no longer perceived as the world’s sole hyperpower. And once the apex predator is absent, mesopredators get all busy chasing prey and cause havoc to the whole ecosystem. Today’s war in Ukraine may seem like a conflict between visions of a unipolar world and a multipolar world. But what we witness is in fact much deeper. A battle between Gov and Network. A war between the nation state and something that John Robb calls a swarm and Balaji Srinivasan calls the network state.
John Robb explains how after the Russian invasion of Ukraine we currently witness for the first time an emergence of a truly global swarm that wages open-source warfare. A few years ago, some gamers got cancelled. Then celebrities and companies got cancelled. Last year a sitting US president got cancelled. Now a whole country got cancelled. But there is one issue with this development – a humanity might get cancelled next.
According to John Robb the problem of this swarm/network is its sense of immortality and a tendency towards maximalism.
Balaji Srinivasan says there are three major attractors today – Communist Capital, Woke Capital and Crypto Capital. CCP and NYT vs BTC. CCP wants you to submit. NYT wants you to sympathize. BTC wants you to be sovereign. But the dose makes the poison. Too much and too little of these values are both bad. Instead of maximalism we should strive towards something Srinivasan calls optimalism. But current (social) networks provide incentives towards maximalism.
So these three attractors combined with maximalism can give us three doom scenarios:
1. CCP might usher what John Robb calls The Long Night scenario of total digital surveillance, using AI, social credit system and drones.
2. NYT/Woke Capital and the global swarm that formed around the current Russian invasion of Ukraine with their innovations in cancellation and maximalist demands can push us into the Nuclear Yolocaust scenario.
3. Bitcoin maxies can push us closer towards a Mad Max world. Sovereignty and prepping is good. But Mad Max is not a happy place either.
Of course, there can be various unfortunate combinations and Hegelian syntheses between these three doom scenarios.
But life is not twitter and the pain at the gas pump might be one of a few dampening functions and negative feedback mechanisms we got left in order to moderate the twitter maximalists, who are otherwise totally enmeshed in virtualism of culture wars and virtue signaling.
Another hope in these dark times are neutral web3 protocols and the rule of code creating something like “The New Aligned Movement”.
Welcome to Nuclear Yolocaust times where the YOLO attitude and twitter maximalism might get the whole humanity cancelled.