Wednesday, August 26, 2020

I Was Told There Would Be No Homework: "From bitcoin to QAnon: bits to qbits"

I am wildly outside my comfort zone here and feel I have to read Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, Robert Shiller's "Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events" and maybe brush up on Carl Jung's 12 personality archetypes, before I can comment without making a damn fool of myself.

See you next week.
From FT Alphaville:
QAnon is the fringe conspiracy theory linked to the far right that’s currently radicalising everyone from Midwestern moms to the teenage gaming community.

Much has been written and theorised about the phenomenon, including its unsavoury links to radical ideologies. Yet despite the stigmas, QAnon continues to spread its tentacles ever deeper into the world wide web. Social media platforms have tried to contain it by censoring accounts and groups linked to the theory but, like lopping off a head of the Hydra, the more they do so the more resilient the movement appears to become. That’s in part because the expectation of censorship is baked into its narrative. The greater the online purges of QAnon become, the greater the proof in followers’ minds that they must be right. This pushes users to parallel platforms and networks and also generates a collective respect for those who sacrificed/ martyred their online profiles for the movement.
But here’s why it’s also wrong to dismiss QAnon as simply the ravings of mad people: there is something sophisticated, sinister and familiar in its modus operandi.

If you examine QAnon closely it follows a playbook. The one established by bitcoin.
So pause with us for a moment, and consider the uncomfortable proposition that QAnon could be to “governance” what bitcoin has now asserted itself to be to money. A challenger parallel network, looking to create its own digital state.

Let’s examine the evidence.
Both bitcoin and QAnon hail from the similar anonymous message board systems. Both have also propagated thanks to a core community of known advocates who invested resources to expand and popularise the message.

Both stem from the conspiratorial realm. Bitcoin is focused on the idea that the financial system is a corrupt intermediary whose true agenda is to control of the money supply, and further its own empowerment. QAnon is predicated on the conspiracy that the government, and all other notable institutions, have been infiltrated by untrustworthy elements whose true agenda is their own empowerment at the cost of the people’s.

Both are centred on myth-making and encourage belief systems that keep their communities ever waiting for a promised “Storm” or a “Mooning” event.

Both are remarkably resilient to disappointment of their predictions failing. In bitcoin’s case there’s the ongoing failed prediction that the cryptocurrency will displace the dollar, while in QAnon’s case there’s the unrealised prophecies of mass arrests, or JFK Jr resurrecting in July. In both cases the community takes the failures on the chin, rises to the challenge and doubles down.

Both have a certain viral propagation to them designed to reward "early adopters" with promises of forward knowledge to a sure thing. When the dollar crashes, the bitcoin will be rewarded with the cryptographic keys to the fortunes of the world, and when the deep state is rumbled, the QAnons will be rewarded with the opportunity to propel their candidate of choice to the top of the power pyramid. The two factions mantras’, “Nobody can stop bitcoin” and “nothing can stop what’s coming”, are also extremely similar. (The latter is a particularly nonsense phrase).

Where Bitcoin is obsessed with the democratisation of money, QAnon is obsessed with the “redemocratisation” of the Western political system.

Both QAnon and Bitcoin are originated by anonymous founders -- Q and Satoshi respectively -- who may or may not be singular people or groups. Both also had a number of similar precursors that didn't go viral....