The silent revolution
What we generally call revolutions are loud and bloody events because their main goal is to remove those in power. And power is not easily let go by anyone.
Another side effect of a revolution's focus on those in power is that once it succeeds, it leaves a power void behind. Which has to be filled immediately and it will be filled with rushed alternatives at best or simply bad actors.
Either way, this approach is not a natural one.
Good solutions to most problems in the world are never developed overnight, but rather they are a chain of countless imperfect solutions being constantly improved upon. Good solutions are never perfect, they are just good enough. So they themselves will keep evolving even after being adopted.
The problem: centralized control of money leads to centralized power
We consider central control of the money supply as natural because this is how it's been for most of our lives. And that is because we did not have a good solution to this problem yet.
This is a bad thing because with centralization comes corruption. Hence the need for a revolution. But we can not just go out on the streets and fight against central banks or Wall Street.
As an analogy, that would be like protesting against cars because they kill people and destroy the environment. Sure they do, but we also need to move around, so before we find a way to achieve teleportation, cars are a good bet. Or trains. And in the places where high quality railway networks exist, people simply choose to use the better alternative and a fight against cars is not needed anymore.
Basically a simple framework for getting rid of a broken system is:
- Have a better alternative available
- Let the market choose
The solution: Bitcoin
When did Bitcoin come into existence?
It's impossible to say. What is clear though is that there is not one date that we can point to. The genesis block was mined on January 3rd 2009, so that is when the network came to life. But the code was certainly written before that — we don't know for how long. And that is not even relevant if you think that the idea and the implementation are simply the pinnacle of 35 years of developments in the fields of networking and cryptography starting from the first version of TCP/IP in 1974 and the countless attempts to create digital currencies starting probably with DigiCash in 1989.
Then if we zoom out and look at Bitcoin not as a digital currency but simply as another form of money, its history can be traced back thousands of years, to when people used sea shells, gold or silver coins as forms of money, then gold certificates and later free-floating fiat currencies.
Is Bitcoin a better alternative to fiat?
This also is impossible to say, because of two reasons:
- Different people. Different needs. Different use cases. Can you buy coffee with it? Not really efficiently. Can you use it as a store-of-value? Definitely. Is it easy enough to use? It depends. The internet in 2000 was easy to use for me as a passionate tinkerer and software developer, but impossible for my mum.
- Again, evolution. Bitcoin in 2020 is very different from Bitcoin in 2009. From every perspective: protocol improvements, UX improvements that take advantage of the protocol improvements, new layers on top of the existing layers, different market conditions, people's better understanding.
The more time passes, the more people will use it in ways we cannot even imagine now and the closer it will be a better alternative for everyone.
20 years from now, ordinary people might not even talk about Bitcoin anymore in the same way as people stopped talking about TCP/IP and even about the Internet and they rather refer to WiFi, Facebook or Instagram.
At some point in the future we will all look back and think about how primitive we used to be for using fiat currencies. Like we think now about using sea shells. But before that point the revolution is constantly happening. Silently. And after that point it will also continue.
The world as we know it exists because of evolution. Which is a long series of silent revolutions.
The bloody events we generally call revolutions are nothing but disruptions of the long chain of revolutions that happen silently without us even noticing. Except maybe in hindsight.