Web3 Is More Political Than You Think
The Politics of Web3 - Left vs Right is Obsolete
The tech in Web3 is attractive. But the most interesting part is how it changes the world. It combines some of the most popular political ideas in history.
And it’s going to empower people in ways never before imagined. This makes Web3 inherently political. But not in the standard right versus left way you imagine.
Private property is hardly a new idea. It dates back thousands of years.
It started with the labor theory of property. This idea argues that something is your property when you’ve done work to create or get it.
The tree in the forest belongs to anyone. But if you go out of your way to chop it down. Turn it into a house. It becomes yours.
The idea of property evolved toward the end of the Middle Ages. Basically, anything and everything could become property of a human being.
2 things happened as a direct result of this new way of thinking.
Countries that embraced the idea of private property went on to colonize most of the planet in the pursuit of profit.
The ability to create wealth inspired the industrial revolution which led to the greatest technological advancement in human history.
We’re a few hundred years into this little experiment now. And we’ve gotten rid of most of the obvious flaws. Colonialism, imperialism, slavery, etc.
This leaves us with mostly upside. Technology that never stops getting better. And now, we’ve got a whole new frontier of innovation.
Private Property in Web3
The Internet already changed the world in ways no one could’ve predicted. And now, we’re seeing a new version of the Internet. One that is ownerless, decentralized, and open source.
There’s lots of differences between Web2 and Web3. But the most important difference is Web3 extends private property to users.
Web2: private property for owners
Web3: private property for users
Think about it.
Web2 is a collection of social media platforms. Owned and operated by giant corporations.
Your account doesn’t actually belong to you. You’re building a business on rented land. And they can kick your ass to the curb anytime they feel like it.
It doesn’t matter if you spent the last decade creating thousands of hours of content. It's gone in the blink of an eye.
Web2 is digital serfdom.
There’s a single entity that controls and profits from the platform's existence.
Corporations sell our data to other corporations so they can sell us crap we don’t need - like the old church selling indulgences
The corporation uses mercenaries (salaried programmers) to enforce its will upon the whole user base.
Users, the most valuable part of the system, capture the least amount of value.
In practice, the more value you provide to the system the less value you capture.
But there’s a new way of building online platforms…
Web3 > Web2
If Web2 is digital feudalism, then Web3 is digital capitalism.
Web3 is built on blockchains. It’s data that cannot be manipulated or controlled by a single entity. Think about PayPal. You might have $1,000 in your account. But, they can take your money away if they ever wanted to.
This isn’t possible with cryptocurrency.
If you hold bitcoin in your wallet, it doesn’t belong to anyone else. It’s completely yours. Satoshi Nakamoto can’t come out of the blue and steal your bitcoin.
This idea gets interesting when you apply it to everything else online. Not just your money. But your social media posts, your account, digital items, etc.
Everything can theoretically belong to you.
This will change digital platforms forever. There won’t be a single entity controlling the entire platform. Ownership will be distributed to everyone.
Democracy is a powerful idea. Oceans of blood have been spilt in the fight for political representation.
“I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”
This idea was first applied to government. After all, they make the rules we have to follow. They can make a new law you hate. And there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.
Big Tech Is the Government of the Internet
An oppressive government farms you like a sheep. Similarly, large tech platforms farm you too. But instead of taxing you, they harvest your data and make decisions without your input. Decisions that will have real consequences for your life.
Let’s face it. We live in a digital world. Imagine being a functioning member of society without a Google account. Or Internet access for that matter.
They make changes all the time. With zero input from the people who will be impacted the most. Users.
There’s a strong case to be made that big tech has more control over your life than the government to begin with.
The government is slow and inefficient. Littered with bureaucracy and incompetence.
But big tech was built by innovators. If Facebook thinks they can make more money by making a specific change to the platform, they’ll roll that change out tomorrow.
And make no mistake, they'll do it even if they know it harms its users.
You’ll never have input on Facebook, Google, YouTube, or anything else. To them, you are a number. That can be converted into money. That’s all you’ve ever been to them. And all you’ll ever be.
Web3 is Democratic
Web3 platforms are still new. In their infancy. But the promise is there.
With new tech and innovation, platforms can be completely governed by its users. This can be done in a number of ways.
Snapshot for voting
Gnosis safe for a community treasury
Discord for building community
Collab Land for token-gating a community
And many more
New tools are being built all the time. And they will empower community driven platforms.
The future of these platform will be in the hands of its most passionate users. Not shareholders looking to make money.
This alone guarantees Web3 platforms will be better than Web2 platforms in the long run. All the money in the world cannot beat a better incentive structure.
Democracy dethroned the divine right of kings. And similarly, Web3 platforms will dethrone the Web2 monopolies that dominate digital life today.
The idea of collective ownership is typically associated with communism. But this idea goes back much further than Karl Marx.
In fact, it’s part of our biology.
Humans evolved in nomadic tribes. The tools and food in the tribe were used efficiently.
Let’s think about an example.
Imagine the best hunter in a tribe killed a deer. But no one else could for a few weeks. If we applied modern capitalism then only that one hunter would get to eat. Even if he couldn’t eat it all.
That hunter would have too much food and everyone else would starve. Which wouldn’t be good for the tribe's long-term survival.
Instead, he would share the food with everyone. It’s the common sense thing to do.
But everything changed with the industrial revolution. There was a disconnect from the owner and the buyer.
A large potato farmer doesn’t particularly care if someone is starving somewhere. Not their problem. After all, they don’t have to physically see these people. And when they don’t have to look at it, compassion goes out the window.
Out of sight, out of mind.
This is the origin of communism. The idea that you can apply the same common sense of a small nomadic tribe to a nation of millions of people.
In practice, things never work out that way. Its really hard to do the common sense solution at scale.
But Web3 might fix that.
Web3 and Collective Ownership
You might think private property and collective ownership are incompatible. But they’re not in Web3.
You can own a piece of a large organization. That piece specifically belongs to you. No one else. But its only a piece of a much larger pie.
The problem with collective ownership traditionally is that its flimsy. What the heck does a collectively owned government even look like? Its a pipe dream that shatters when your country becomes the next North Korea.
There’s no way to implement collective ownership in any practical way.
Web3 fixes this.
Collective ownership comes to life with on-chain governance. Those tokens represent voting rights. Your vote is real in a way that it's never been before. It cannot be faked or manipulated. The vote counters have no power here.
And the best part? This all taps into biology in a powerful way.
Humans evolved in tribes. We love belonging to a group. From sports teams to gaming clans, families, etc.
But what makes a group a group? Shared interest.
We evolved to form groups based on our DNA. If we helped our tribe thrive, then our genes were more likely to survive.
But it's not about racial collectivism anymore. That's a thing of the past. Mostly.
The power of Web3 comes from shared economic interests. Helping the collective directly helps you. It's a powerful win-win scenario.
DAOs prove this rule with countless examples. When someone buys in, they want to see the collective succeed. They’ll:
Spread the word
Make core contributions
Help fellow members of the collective
But it's not just about making money. DAOs are increasingly ideological. It's not enough to change the world to get rich. But change the world based on a shared vision.
I'm a proud member of the Developer DAO. I didn't join to get rich or make money. I joined because I believe in the mission. Educating and helping people learn about Web3.
DAOs combine many forms of collective interest.
As the space continues to evolve, these new collectives will come to dominate old ones.
Voluntarism Over Force
One of the most appealing ideas from libertarian thinkers is the nonaggression principle. The idea that using force is inherently wrong.
They argue it should be a universal principle. Not just applying to individuals and businesses. But also the government. After all, the reason we obey the government in the first place is because they’ll lock us up or kill us if we don’t.
But businesses rely on the government to enforce property rights. This ultimately makes them dependent on state violence.
Let’s say you’re hungry. You decide to steal some food. The state will send cops to kidnap and imprison you. It protects the private property of the business.
Web2 platforms work the same way.
The government makes sure the transaction goes smoothly. You get your SpongeBob slippers. And Amazon gets their payment.
But what if there was a way to conduct digital commerce without state violence looming in the background.
The Crypto Economy
The best innovation so far is Bitcoin. It works like digital money. But the best part is that it doesn’t rely on the government.
It’s a trustless transaction.
The same technology that powers Bitcoin also powers the rest of Web3.
It’s the first large scale economy that can work without state enforcement of property rights. The property rights are built into the system.
Even transactions in the black market use government issued currency.
This idea underscores the power of Web3. We can build an entire economic system without help from the government. This is a libertarian dream come true.
The nonaggression principle is built into Web3.
Web3 is an Extension of the Creator Economy
You can sum up the philosophy of the creator economy with one sentence.
Creators should be able to earn a living on their own terms.
As we explored in the last post, it’s just not a possibility for most creators on Web2 platforms. The systems are built to benefit the shareholders. Not the creators.
Web3 is going to revolutionize the creator economy.
Platforms will favor creators more than Web2 ever could
Entirely new business models are launching (NFTs, DAOs, social tokens, etc)
There’s no limit to what is possible
This might be the best thing about Web3 as a whole.
The biggest source of misery in the modern world is the lack of control workers have over their work.
Control how they work
Own the product of their labor
Capture value beyond their hourly wage
That’s why the creator economy is popular to begin with. It promises to address these issues. But the numbers don’t lie. The traditional creator economy has failed. It’s not that it’s dead. But it was never alive to begin with.
Web3 will build a future where creative people can finally cash in on their talents. In a way that’s never been possible.
If that’s the kind of future you want to see, make sure to follow me on Twitter and subscribe :)