Longread: Clash of generations and Cryptotechnologies
Almost everything we usually deem progressive is based on something one might call ?a battle of generations’. It takes roots in ancient, if not mythological, times, when a nice young lad killed his dad and married his mom so impressively they even had to dub a complex in his honor; and several millennia before him, a god and universal lord named Kronos was so troubled with political stability he had to eat his children one by one.
Of course, Kronos himself, which one might even see from his name, is none other but time, which provides the myth with an elegiac philosophical layer. However, history proved that the war of generations was real. It varied from literary and usually sanguinary murders of relatives in Byzantine Empire and ancient Rome, to purely symbolic examples of overthrowing influential paradigms of the past.
The whole culture is a result of a series of such overthrows. Christianity formed as a religion having rebelled from Abrahamic dogmas. Modern art emerged as a protest against academic art of preceding centuries. The general theory of relativity is a pure and demonstrative overthrowing of Newton’s mechanics.
The overthrown generation, however, gives as good as it gets. The way Jewish patriarchs responded to Jesus’s tricks is known to anyone who cared to read that educative story at least once. Academic painters were stigmatizing avant-garde as crap for decades, and rejected to consider abstract pictures art. When it comes to the way the fans of world ether looked at the STR and GTR by Einstein, we see almost similar picture; every now and then they called him a schizoid or a fraud. Certainly, Jesus had the worst reaction amongst them all, however, you know, times were hard.
One might notice the same principle of war between generations when it comes to perception of cryptotechnology in traditional finance. All features of the conflict are obvious: the new formation dubs the old ones gerontocrats and sluggish conservatives incapable of realizing their time has gone, while the old school does its best to reduce the new trend’s importance, if altogether cares to pay even slightest attention thereto in public.
Magritte had to paint a pipe with astonishing details in order to write that it wasn’t a pipe. Duchamp needed a Mona Lisa to paint her a moustache. Good old Jesus, when you come down to it, was one of many Jewish preachers, and had no intention to overthrow the tradition or establish a new religion; he only proposed a novel interpretation of the old Jewish law. Einstein, while developing his theory, was basing it on Newton’s mechanics. If someone cares to put small velocity values into his formulae, all of them will turn into classical mechanics in no time.
Similarly, cryptotechnology is unthinkable without traditional finance. If we try to trace when those ideas gained support, we will easily note an amazing correlation between those periods and one of usual disturbances of capitalist economy. Bitcoin emerged during the financial crisis of 2008 as a protest against centralization of world economy that had seemingly reached all reasonable limits.
In this relation, the technology itself, whatever it is, is secondary as related to the ideological component thereof. Decentralization of economy could hypothetically go a completely different way, but in fact, it had no options.
The thing is that the way was predetermined by earlier rebellious generations, which contemporary protesters actually rebel against now. The whole phenomenon may be described by a classical saying about midgets standing on the shoulders of giants. The saying refers to the medieval belief that ancient people were taller than their coevals were, and the idea was based on perfectly logical assumption derived from the size of ancient statues that had remained since more educated times.
Linear development of history, which we got used to, is an invention by scholiasts of early Middle Ages who had to show that the humankind was heading towards radiant future (ironically, the same milleniarist idea was later used by a well-known heathen Karl Marx). Radiant future back then meant the kingdom of god, which was expected by 1000 A.D. The second coming, however, failed to occur, but the concept of linear and consecutive development survived. Meanwhile, in fact the history of progress in human knowledge and technology is a very long string of protests the younger generations initiated against their ancestors. This is the motor of what we usually call progress.
But the progress is impossible without another thing, and that is reliance on more ancient experience. When a paradigm overthrows its predecessor, the ideological basis for the revolution is based on an older paradigm. The Enlightened referred to ancient philosophy, which was qualitatively forgotten in the Middle Ages (except, maybe, selected works by Aristotle). They would not even have known about it, hadn’t a ?new logic’ emerged in the depth of Christian philosophy several centuries earlier. The new logic was opposed to the ?old’ one represented by Aristotle. Thus, progress is actually a great tower of Babel made of midgets, and each of them considers oneself a midget, while seeing everyone below as a continuous giant, which occurs due to the linear perception of history. However, if we take a closer look, we will see there is no giant whatsoever.
Early 20th century avant-garde is considered something important yet hardly impressive. The way Christianity was treated after the Enlightenment is obvious. Finally, physics has been long ago troubled with perfectly working general theory of relativity that fundamentally contradicts perfectly working quantum mechanics.
Similarly, many years later, cryptotechnology will become a sluggish and conservative branch of fintech. Future generations will call our generation ?a bunch of worm-eaten cryptofarts’, while the worm-eaten cryptofarts will demonstratively ignore the ideas embraced by the newcomers.
By Jenny Aysgarth exclusively for ForkLog
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