EDITOR, The Tribune.
The state has the right to exist when individuals are willing to sacrifice their own interests for the community it represents, according to Ernest Renan, a French philosopher.
All the government scandal I see in the news reinforces my hypothesis that the nation state is under threat from a new creature, the corporate state that will be a 21 century reality.
The power of money which more people believe in than in God or other deities will precipitate this transformation. When people lose faith in the nation due to corruption, crime and other inefficiencies something has to take its place because nature abhors a vacuum. The belief in the narrative of money is powerful because it solves people’s problems, it’s efficient and makes survival easier.
Around 1100 BC, the Chinese moved from using actual tools and weapons as a medium of exchange to using miniature replicas of the same tools cast in bronze.
Nobody wants to reach into their pocket and impale their hand on a sharp arrow so, over time, these tiny daggers, spades, and hoes were change to the less prickly shape of a circle, which became some of the first coins. China was the first country to use recognisable coins, but the first minted coins were in Lydia (now western Turkey) in 600 BC.
The Chinese started carrying folding paper money during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) — mostly in the form of privately issued bills of credit or exchange notes.
In 1971 when the United States’ dollar the world reserve currency was moved off the gold standard, money came back by nothing but the faith (fiat currency) in governments.
In 2009 Bitcoin, a digital currency that uses peer to peer transfer on a network without intermediaries, was invented.
Facebook will launch the Libra, a digital block chain currency similar to Bitcoin in 2020. It is the first time in history that a corporation will have its own money that can be used by so many people globally.
The US Senate Banking Committee is concerned about the Libra saying, “Monetary policy is properly the province of central Banks”. Facebook has 2.41 billion users which is 31.3% of the world population.
It has more digital citizens than any country. Alphabet (Google parent company) Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft deal in data and are the most powerful corporations in the world.
These companies are worth about US$1trillion each. Data mining, cyber security and related fields are multi- trillion (US$)dollar industries.
These data related companies will replace big oil corporations of the industrial revolution as shapers of geopolitics.
We are now living in the time of the digital revolution. Data has become more valuable than oil or gold.
Malcom X said, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”. We need to prepare for a probable future where big tech becomes more powerful than nations and renders the nation state ineffective and obsolete or an instrument for their dominance.
This seems like science fiction, but so is artificial intelligence, cloning, self driving car and other technological marvels.
BRIAN ELLIS PLUMMER
July 30, 2019.