Crypto - A Global Coping Mechanism

Crypto is the ultimate cope for modern, late-capitalism, mentally aware despondents because it promises logic's superiority prima facie, yet, like the failed logical positivists and Wittgensteinian literary critics, the deeper you search for logic to prevail the more you will find humanity and subjectivity.

Cope is good…or *a* good?

Coping with pain is necessary. We are not Gods-- time does not stop for us when we suffer. We must continue and produce goods for society at large. Coping is good in that it helps us heal (or at least pass time), however, from the societal POV, coping is an economic investment vehicle. The better one’s population can cope with any pain that’s unavoidable, the more productive it can be.

The incentive misalignment is fundamental. Those who suffer want to no longer suffer. Coping mechanisms offer a pathway forward that reduces suffering. Those that own and manage most coping mechanisms are not incentivized by your pain or lack thereof. The distributors of cope are incentivized to increase demand for coping mechanisms.

In a fetishized twist, the producers of global goods have created a positive feedback loop pushing up the need to cope, whether intentionally or not. Social media, video games, movies-- these consumer class products have extracted rent from their users such that they are ever more dependent on said consumer goods. Materialism, consumerism, and capitalism have funneled a global youth towards societally ordained means of leisure that are more abstracted from their real producers than at any point in history.

Society’s need to cope - the burden of late-stage capitalism

There are two problems at play here I’ve mentioned- maximal commodity fetishization and misaligned incentives of the production owner and consumer. The consumer has become completely isolated from the material production worker. The supply chain under Jeff Bezos has become a myth, abstracted away from daily life. Yet, despite the 3D printer in the cloud’s existence, we can leave our houses and find cities full of homeless and failing infrastructure. The harsher the reality we face becomes, the more we feel the need to isolate further- isolate away from the actual global producers. We have no mental image of the real producer and so the values of the production owner shine down in their stead. We see Amazon color the airways and netscapes, painting the image of themselves they want. Our view of ourselves, fellow real producers, is augmented through the lenses being provided to us by material overlords. Not only has the production owner separated the consumer from the producer, but the owner has also shaped the way the consumer thinks about the act of production.

We find ourselves at the peaks of another era of global inequality. While the global floor has crept up tremendously, the global mega-elite has consumed everything. The owners of production attempt to push social values and modify the worldviews of their consumers while abstracting away the values of the real producers. This is when to shout “seize the means!” if you want to fail another time at historical communism. The new slogans are “hodl” “btfd” and “code is law.”

Crypto as cope, Crypto is cope

In perhaps a reaction to the trap that is modern finance, cryptocurrency has emerged to shepherd a new wave of ideologues and revolutionaries alike. Wherein communism’s promise of equitable distribution and fair treatment found collapse in human mismanagement and logistical impasse, crypto proclaims 0s and 1s can’t lie. Code is objective, factual, and wholly devoid of corruptable intent. Bitcoin will never hit 100 million tokens. Ethereum smart contracts are immutable. The ledger doesn’t lie. Check the chain. The phrases go on and on and all harp on the same basic principle. Somehow, in the code and economic incentives, in the distributed ledgers and cryptographically secured proofs, crypto has separated human subjectivity from the financial world and perhaps saved us all.

Many people have comfort shows. Rewatching an episode where you can predict what the characters will say gives life a sense of order, predictability, and logic. There’s no variance in it and so we can forget about our turbulent lives and escape to where we think we have control. I myself watch Friends with my sister on the many occasions we have spent in the hospital together. Amidst the unknowns of a hospital, knowing Joey was about to say “how you doin” before he said it helped me feel secure. For us, Friends was a coping device. It did not give me more control over the situation at hand or ease my sister’s suffering, but it allowed me to cope for a time. I worry that in predictability, we the crypto community have thought we found freedom from suffering outright when in reality we still remain in a hospital bed watching TV. The global crises are raging and an honest financial system won’t change that because cryptobros are coping through crypto’s own existence.

The gap between the consumer and producer is not easily viewable. How many countries, workers, planes, hours were involved in the assembly of the device upon which you are reading this essay? The advent and proliferation of NFTs would have you believe that direct producers have found a way to reconnect with the consumer. Generative artists are only a step away from the consumers with every trade as royalties can be intrinsic. Massive discord servers have assembled like metaverse social centers around which the consumers and producers engage candidly. The talking points all suggest a playing field trending towards level, yet, the same owners of production are flooding back in. It is helpful to know that the Addidas brand 1/1 Lebron James x Yuga Labs NFT you own is verifiably yours. It is useful to know that if I launch an NFT collection that every act of consumption rewards me. None of this matters though as reducing commodity fetishization in the metaverse does not address the issue in the real world. Will the goods you purchased as an Amazon prime 1-day delivery of a good manufactured in a different country made from resources mined in three others split the proceeds of the sale along the entire supply chain through on-chain enforced parameters? Not yet. Ethereum going to 100k won’t change that. Humans are fuzzy, law is fuzzy, and code only seems rigid.

Code is not law. A consensus of human participants is law. Bitcoin is not truly hard-capped. Any line of code can be changed if the people are willing. In crypto, we code our values and hope that others share them. Blockchains are moral entities, like nation-states whose social contracts you actually got to read before signing. In this, we have a reasonable chance at reconnecting, if not the actual producer and consumer, the values that said individuals hold. There is no greater aspiration for the inequality gripped, jaded, angry youth than to deconstruct the monopolies enshrined within society and free ourselves to write and connect on new values. This is the power of the opt-in new financial system. But again, do not cope with global inequality through the fact that we have a fighting chance. We only have a fighting chance. The mushrooming values behind crypto assets are not in and of themselves freedom. Financial value in the modern system is proxied by web2 lenses of action. True financial freedom cannot be had in the million or billions of personal wealth, no, financial freedom will come when the values that underwrite your high-value position are harmonious with the values of others globally. To be rich now is to be the top prisoner, coping on crypto discords just as hard as the rest of us.

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