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Anatha: A Crypto Master Class - 09 Structural Violence

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Structural violence is any system organization or government which prevents the self-actualization of human beings. Right, now what does that mean? That's a lot of fancy words that I strung together. If I design a system in which you fail to self-actualize - for example, you don't go to the school you would like to go to, or you don't pursue the career you thought you might pursue, or, most notably, you die of starvation before you reach puberty - those are all symptoms or expressions of structural violence.

It's easy to understand structural violence if you think of human beings as seeds. If a seed doesn't grow because it's planted in bad soil, you don't blame the seed. Instead, you ask yourself, what are the conditions that I've created around the seed, and can I improve them to make sure that it grows during next harvest? And human beings are a lot like that. We're the result of our environment more than we are the result of our own efforts very often. And structural violence is simply the inefficiencies of the marketplace, the inefficiencies of our systems design. In systems design, we have a very cute saying where, if one person makes a mistake, that's user error; if millions of people make mistake, that's design error. And we live in a world in which nine million people die of hunger and hunger-related disease on a good year. This year were estimated to go over 18 million. That's bad systems design. And that causes harm, it causes suffering, it causes inefficiencies across the market.

As we've talked about earlier, inefficiency is a form of violence. So, structural violence is the downward pressure that you feel in an economy, that treadmill going in the wrong direction, the thing that prevents you from self-actualizing from becoming the thing you were always meant to become, whether it's a result of starvation, which is a very extreme example, or even just enough friction to prevent you from starting that business, from pursuing that career, or from becoming the best version of yourself for whatever reason. That's structural violence.

So, if I create an economic system in which one group of people, say, I and my friends have unfettered access to the money supply and can produce money simply by turning a spigot, and you have to trade your entire life, 40 hours a week or more, toiling away to earn a very small portion of the same amount of money that I can make in a single moment, that's structural violence, right? Where we're harming you and preventing you from having access to the same capital, the same resource, the same opportunities that the rest of us have access to. We do this to whole regions, by the way. And structural violence through economic means is probably the most common form of structural violence. It's not the only form, we can talk about lots of others, but...

For example, if I were to ring around a nation state and, say that, you're not allowed to trade it, we're going to sanction this country and, say that, there's no money allowed in, no money allowed out. And as a result, all the people in that nation start to suffer from economic disparities, some people starve, we see increased domestic violence, increased crime, increased mental illness ... generally speaking, you're going to harm everyone in that economy when you do that. That would be a very clear example of structural violence. And we do that every day, by the way. There are nations which are sanctioned right now which don't have access to capital, they don't have access to resources, and don't have access to global trade, and subsequently, the people living in those nations suffer a great deal. That's structural violence.

But oftentimes it's much more subtle. Oftentimes it's not something that we as members of developed nations would even notice. It will show up in our lives in ways that are subtle, such as, like, more pressure in our economic lives so that we start fighting with our spouse more, or more pressure to earn enough money just to stay afloat so that we stop exploring the world around us, we stop learning, we stop growing essentially, and we become diminished versions of ourselves. Taken from the macroscale, it's perhaps even worse because every human being that we fail to self-actualize is a net loss to humanity. And that's structural violence, right? We live in a world with fewer artists, fewer engineers, fewer doctors, fewer of all the things that we want more of because of structural violence. And we can do better. It's that simple. It's just inefficient design. We could say it was a mistake, we could say it's malicious, but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that we can do better. And cryptocurrency and the systems - certainly that I'm focused on building - are designed to tackle exactly that. We need to move from structural violence into something called structural flourishing.

Now, if structural violence is any system, organization, or government which prevents the self-actualization of human beings, structural flourishing is any system, organization, or government which uplifts human beings and facilitates self-actualization. And I'm of the mind that that is where we want to head. And I'm also of the mind that any system which creates structural flourishing is also going to be more competitive in the marketplace and will therefore draw more resources and users on a long enough time scale anyway. So, it's both economically expedient and morally superior to create systems of structural flourishing. And the market will go there, I think, on a long enough timeline anyway. Now that the possibility has opened up, now that we can make systems that do that, I think they'll be inevitable, and it's only a matter of time before we start to see them really take hold of the market.

Example of structural violence, that people in New York will understand, is something called redlining, which is banking systems will often just determine that they're not going to provide capital or loans to a whole region, which means you can't refinance homes, you can't buy new homes there, the property value continues to drop, and subsequently, you see increased crime rates, reduced economic opportunity, increased domestic violence, family instabilities ... you know, basically, you ruin the society or the community there when you do that. And that's a form of structural violence, right? We simply made a choice in a boardroom somewhere to design a system that will cut off an area to capital. And that happens on the microscale, it happens to individuals sometimes simply by denying them access to capital. It happens at the community level, like I explained, like, the Bronx in New York was one classic example in which they literally just let the buildings fall down and didn't care until they were so cheap that the government was giving them away.

But we also do that to entire nation states. We did it to Jamaica using food subsidies. We were importing food that was so cheap that the local agriculture industry couldn't compete. When the local agricultural industry collapsed, the IMF came in and said, "Would you like a loan?" And that sounds like a nice thing, except the loans start to have stipulations. "We'll give you the money if you spend it on x, y and z", which, in other words, they're controlling the money supply, they're controlling the government, they're controlling the whole nation state. And that's a classic example of structural violence.

The one most people like to talk about is the one that was began by Kermit Roosevelt. Most people don't know about this guy. He was Roosevelt's nephew, and he was part of the OSS during World War II. In essence, he was the CIA before the CIA existed. And during the Cold War, they tried to figure out how can you use economic means to win a war, to wage war against the "Red Menace". And Iran was a classic example. Kermit Roosevelt went into that country and used economic means to corrupt and distort market outcomes in such a way where he caused tremendous suffering and loss of the Iranian people's independence and self-sovereignty. And that's why they hate us to this day, by the way. Most people don't understand why this conflict exists between Iran and United States. It's because we poisoned their economy, we poisoned their democracy, and subsequently left them much worse off than where we found them. And that was done by Kermit Roosevelt. So, that's another classic form of structural violence in action.

I also think structural violence could also be well-meaning sometimes. Things like philanthropy, where we try to put money into another economy, but then they become dependent upon that money, they sort of need it now, and they don't work on building their own economy up, or work on building up their own industry, and instead just keep asking for money from an external source. So, that could be a more subtle and difficult-to-unpack form of structural violence.

Lack of access to education is a classic one. If, for example, my school region is very well financed and very well-funded, and I get a grade A education which allows me to the upward mobility I need to build a business and build a network, and deploy a corporation that allows me to build even more resource and becoming more powerful, versus someone who comes from a poor neighborhood where everyone else in that school was suffering from a lack of resource and, therefore, they don't have the proper network to build a business, and they don't get the proper education, and perhaps are even suffering from malnutrition because the food they have access to at that school, or during their lifetimes, is inadequate, that would be another form of structural violence which we see pretty much every day in poor neighborhoods.

Lack of access to voting is another one I think is really poignant. If I design a system which restricts certain groups of people from voting, or makes it more difficult for them to vote, or just excludes them from voting entirely, I have disenfranchised them and removed their voice from the larger democracy, and that would be a form of structural violence because now I'm diminishing their access to one of the key principles of our civilization, is that to say is to have a voice, to have a choice in the way it's steered or governed. So, government oftentimes is the largest perpetuator of structural violence. Whether by default, or simply through inefficiencies, or maliciousness, they cause inefficiencies which harm us all.

Another pretty blatant form of structural violence is regulatory capture. If I have control over a money supply and I use that to capture the entire regulatory framework of a civilization by buying the politicians, by financing their campaigns, by steering their choices once they're in office, I've disenfranchised the rest of that civilization, and in doing so created structural violence that is very evident in our society today. The way our government votes on topics does not align with polling, where most of us want universal health care, most of us don't want more homelessness, most of us want less war and more investment in education, and yet we get exactly the opposite every market cycle, right? Every election cycle our politicians seem to be voting against our wishes and seem to be steered by some other purpose or some other intention. And that is a form of structural violence that is the result of regulatory capture.

You could also have structural violence around information. If I restrict access to information to put you in an information bubble, and only spoon feed you things that will make you come to unhealthy or inaccurate conclusions, that's another form of structural violence which we see in our social media platforms every day now.

Censorship would be another form of structural violence. If I prevent you from having a voice, if I prevent you from exercising your free right of speech or free association, that would be a form of structural violence.

So, it's all around us. These things are as common as air, and the result of a bad systems design ultimately. If someone can impose structural violence on you, and there's an economic incentive for them to do so, they will. That's simply human nature. So, we need to design systems which prevent it, which are robust against such attacks. And open permissionless cryptocurrency distributed ledger-based systems allow for that. So, that's why we have to put our voting on distributed ledgers, that's why we have to run our economy on distributed ledgers, that's how we're going to run our organizations on distributed ledgers ... we're gonna put everything of importance on an open permissionless transparent system precisely for those reasons, so that we could fight all structural violence and start to unpack what human beings are really capable of.

We don't know what we're capable of as a species, we're too busy scratching around in the dirt. We're so focused on survival and survival is said to be the lowest form of living. We could go so much higher. We have the technology, we have the wherewithal, we have the resource to touch the stars, and yet, we're stuck fighting over scraps on this little mud ball. We don't know what we're capable of yet. And the only way we're going to find out is if we eliminate structural violence altogether, and we build systems that are more efficient and designed to create better outcomes, we create systems that put human needs and human interests first, because that's how we move into the future. And anything less is unacceptable. And if you find yourself participating in a system that is perpetuating structural violence, you should stop immediately, because, not only are you harming the people around you, you're also harming yourself. The richest man in the world still suffers from structural violence because he lives in a world diminished by structural violence. He lives in a world with less artists, with less engineers, with less ideas, less innovation, and less productivity. So, we all suffer from it, either directly or indirectly.

The question is, what are we going to do about it? And until recently, we didn't have the tools to do anything about it, we were sort of stuck in the old system. But the information age, if it's taught us anything, it's that the democratization of money, the democratization of voting, the democratization of governance, which seems like a misnomer, right - we should already have that, but we don't - is going to unlock humanity's potential, it's going to move us to an entirely new civilization. What I'm proposing isn't that we fix the old civilization, it's that we abandon the old civilization and build an entirely new one. Leave the debt of the old system behind, leave the problems and inefficiencies there to rot, and let's build a new one in which we have a voice and we have a say. Let's build systems in which we unpack our potential instead of diminish it, right? Let's get off that treadmill and get on something that's moving in the right direction. That's eminently possible, and I'm also here to tell you that I'm already experiencing it. The future doesn't show up everywhere at once, it shows up in individuals and radiates outwards. I'm simply fortunate enough to live in the future already, and I'm inviting you to do the same thing.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 43 seconds
Year: 2021
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Views: 35
Posted by: anatha on Jun 26, 2021

Limiting access to assets, resources, and trade is an example of how a closed financial system is a form of structural violence. Edward discusses how open, accessible systems help people flourish and work towards self actualization.

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