All we have to do is search this island until we find a book with a title like Practical Boat-Building for Beginners – From Terry Pratchett’s “The Last Continent”
Do you think I should be pleased with a 20x increase on my cryptocurrency assets? They’re still tiny, by the way. I’m not sure. I didn’t really do anything. At the start of 2021 I updated my position on trading crypto and came to the conclusion that I would have lost money over the period if I had tried to be clever and do any actual trading.
What I did do was buy a bit back in 2018, sell almost straight away, then buy in again in 2019, mainly because I didn’t know how to withdraw the money and then I did nothing. Then, as you probably are aware, crypto became news again in May 2021. Prices soared and then started coming down. I would have probably done nothing if not reminded by my other half that it’s going down, why not sell. That seemed obvious once it was pointed out so I did and now the market is continuing to do its thing. You can see this history in the chart below.
I didn’t really want to talk about trading but it’s relevant in a way to what I do want to explore. In my last post I talked about radical change and trying to understand it better. So I started watching videos from the momentum community. What I’ve learned so far is that there are lots of change models and one way to look at them is using the categories that are in the image that starts this post. So, how can things change?
One kind of change is around individuals and groups. You can change your own mind, work with those around you to change theirs. If you want to catalyse change on issues that matter to you, from the environment to equality, you can take the first step and start doing things differently.
Another kind of change is by creating or choosing alternatives. There are options and you can make a strong statement by the choices you make for how to spend your money or time.
And yet another kind of change is by changing dominant institutions, doing things that will replace them, get them to change how they do things and better represent and protect the people that live under their influence.
It’s not hard to think of how we can all make a difference, however small, in all of these ways. Eating less meat, using less packaging, going for environmentally friendly alternatives, recycling, being kind – they’re all changes that help. Using free software, where the free is free as in freedom not as in free beer.
It’s hard to be ignorant these days and it’s also very easy to be ignorant. You can wall yourself inside your personal echo chamber or you can look around and see what’s going on and do a little thinking, maybe a little reading.
Take blockchains and cryptocurrencies, for example. Their selling point is that they’re decentralised, not controlled and so give people back their freedom. I’m a fairly technical sort of person and I had to use an exchange to get involved in this game – an exchange that recently listed for over $70 billion. I’m trading an asset class that’s so volatile that it’s created its own speculative ecosystem. Today is Bitcoin Pizza day where pizzas were bought with bitcoin that now has a market value of somewhere in the region of half a trillion dollars. If you believe that you can get hold of something that will appreciate in that sort of way then why would you ever give it away? I suppose it depends if you’re the owner of the mine or someone looking to buy a pizza.
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s hard to see how this decentralized utopia is being realised. Maybe it will, one day, when you can give all those unbanked people the ability to do transactions without banks. Create an alternative. Or you could create micro loans, like Muhammad Yunus. Depressingly, if you read the Wikipedia entry, this is not without issues either.
Here’s the thing. Institutions work. But people don’t always know why they work – and that’s the problem. The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto wrote a book that I have lying around somewhere that explained this pretty well. Older democracies have institutions that have evolved over time, and work because they’ve found a way to work that works. For example there is usually a separation between politicians, judges and generals in countries that work. In countries that don’t – well, just think of whether these institutions are truly separate or not. Who controls the legislature, do judges act independently and who will the army back – the country or the person they want?
Change is complicated but it’s needed in the world. You can change yourself. You can make better choices. And you can put pressure on organisations to be better.
If you want to, that is.