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Is Cryptocurrency The Right Step Towards Real Democracy?
That's a question that pops up in my mind after looking at the current economy and political state in my country. For obvious reasons, I won't spell out the name of the country but maybe some of you can guess it after reading the whole article and do some research.
A short disclaimer before you start reading this long article:
I am not an expert in politics or cryptocurrency, so the entirety of this article is a personal view and opinion of mine, which can be right or wrong, I'll let you decide.
First of all, let's set the definition straight. What is democracy?
The word democracy comes from two Greek words, 'demos' and 'kratos'. Demos means people and kratos means power. In short, democracy can be defined as a government in which the highest power is held by the people, not a single entity or a small group.
With the passing of time, democracy has branched into several types like consensus democracy, conservative democracy, and democratic socialism, to mention a few. But in essence, all governments which call themselves democratic tend to have a few similar foundations in their system, including freedom of speech, inclusiveness and equality, voting system, consent, and rights of the people.
Theoretically, living in a democratic country sounds awesome. But in reality, for a long time, the authorities have been using the term too lightly or may even abandon the true concept of democracy, at least that is what I feel is happening in my country.
Why do I say that?
Recently, there has been a lot of rumors about the proposed amendment to the enactment of the 3 term presidency. In the original amended Constitution, the president may only rule for 2 terms, which is 10 years, to prevent any person from ruling the country for too long, which may incur the birth of a dictatorship.
The ruling party and the opposition party weirdly haven't issued any statement to refute this. Instead, there's been a lot of Parliament members who voiced their agreement towards the proposal.
You might think that this is a small issue, that won't affect peoples' lives as it's only an additional term of five years of presidency. But think for a moment. If the proposal gets passed, who can guarantee that there won't be another amendment for a 4, 5, or even unlimited term of presidency?
You've guessed it. No one can.
Where do the people stand in all this?
Most people, especially college students, are openly rejecting the proposal. There are even demonstrations in front of the Parliament building. But somehow, our voices were not heard. No, you can say that our voices were suppressed.
What do you mean?
There have been a few occurrences where college students are captured, even kidnapped because they voiced something that isn't appropriate according to the authorities, whereas they're actually only resounding the rejection from the people towards a certain proposal from the government.
I'm not talking about kidnapping as they were suddenly grabbed in the middle of the street. No, I'm talking about the authorities making false rumors and issues against these students, and then take them into custody where they'll get interrogated and beaten up.
Most of you reading this might be confused as to why it sounds like college students are the front liners in sounding the voices of the people. But that's just the reality in my country.
Let me tell you a short story which can be said to be the origins of this power granted towards the college students.
The second 'president' of my country was thrown out of power in a dark, chaotic event that was lead by the students. He has been ruling the country for over 32 years without any opposition party to balance the political scene. Nobody dared to question his decisions. Anyone who tried to criticize or oppose him would get wiped out silently. He controls the media, the military, and the economy, and things were looking grim for the country's future before finally, the college students from all across the country decided to gather up and started a revolution. The revolution was grim and bloody. Many innocent lives and bystanders were taken because of the ensuing riot. I can't give the details at it is such a painful memory for most of the non-indigenous people like myself, so let's just go back to our last discussion about the suppression of people's voices.
In recent times, there has been a lot of policies and decisions from the governments that are causing harm to the general people. A good example of this is the response from the government regarding Covid-19.
In the beginning, a lot of the politicians in my country stated that the people in my shouldn't be worried about Covid19 as we live in a tropical country and at that time, Covid was only booming in the US and Europe region. Some said that Covid won't come to our country as the weather is too hot for it to grow and multiply. This causes a lot of people to ignore Covid-19 in the beginning and many were still taking it lightly even to this date. Fast forward to September 2021, my country has one of the most active daily cases in the world and the worst handling in the region.
Do you know what's even worse than the early response? The 'countermeasures' that they have for the spike. In the 18 months that Covid has been detected in my country, there has never been a single lockdown anywhere.
Isn't that great?
No, it isn't. While it may be true that there has never been a single lockdown in my country, there has been a continuous 'Enforcement of restrictions on community activities' (ERCA) since the beginning of the year.
You may ask what is this ERCA and how does it work? In essence, it's just another term for small lockdown. They restrict your movements, impose new rules, and fine or even jail the people who break them.
So why don't they just call it a lockdown?
Well, in the Constitution, it is stated that during a lockdown, the government is obligated to provide financial support to ensure the wellbeing of the people. Some governors and regents stated that the State Budget is simply not enough to provide big financial support to everybody. So instead, they provided some social assistance in the form of groceries and cash money totaling about $42.
You still get money, so why are you complaining?
Hold your pitchforks there folks. Just a few moments after the start of the 'financial support' program from the government, the Minister of Social Affairs was caught in a corruption case. It turns out that he and a few colleagues were taking fees from every aid package delivered to the people. The case was so infuriating. Can you imagine stealing from the poor in a freaking pandemic? Where the heck is your conscience, for Pete's sake.
He was initially sentenced for a long time, but crazily enough, the judge decided to reduce his sentence due to the bullying he received from the people after they found out about his corruption.
Can you imagine that? A thief stealing from the people he swore to serve, then got verbally and socially bullied on social media because of his own actions, and the judge decided to REDUCE his sentence because of it? I can smell something's not right on this case, but I'll leave the speculation to you.
But where is the suppresion of the people's voice among all this?
After the corruption case was made public plus the nonstop ERCA in most of the cities, people begin criticizing the government in every way possible. Some begin posting their disappointment on social media, some tried protesting in the street, and others start making murals or writings on the street. Unsurprisingly, all their efforts were cut short. I don't think I'll be able to post all the examples regarding the cases as it'll be too long, so I'll just pick the ones that made national headlines.
The social media posts.
Not long ago, the president said that he welcomes any criticism towards him from the media; he even encourages it. But in reality, a lot of people and media are either silenced or thrown into jail because they broke a law from the Constitution of electronic information and transaction, or so they said.
The police even made a 'cyber police' division to uphold this law which essentially can bring someone to jail if they said something that 'hurts' other people from their social media posts. This 'law' works in the favor of the rulers, not the normal people. When one of the politicians, especially from the ruling party gets their feelings hurt, they'll start brandishing this law to silence the critics.
The street protesting.
As previously mentioned, students from all around the country disagree with many rules and decisions from the government which they found to be harmful to the people. But luckily for the government, Covid-19 restrictions have made it almost impossible to gather a large number of people. Even a slight attempt of the gathering of any kind will result in heavy fines and possible jail time.
But luckily, this rule doesn't apply to the officials and rulers, as they can just organize a party or do a political campaign with no obstruction. /s
The grafittis/writings on the street.
The latest trend among the frustrated people of my country is making writings, drawings, and grafittis on the street. Most of these writings speak about the injustice happening all around the country.
Starting from the ERCA which forbids non-essential workers to go to work. Most of the low-income households in the country are earning money based on hourly pay, which means that if they don't work, they don't get any money. The financial support of around $42 per household isn't enough by any means. Even the minimum wage for my region is around $300 per month. So yeah, they barely have enough to survive with all the restrictions and so they try to make their voice heard by making murals on the streets.
Another example is the previously mentioned corruption case of the now ex-Minister which gets reduced sentenced due to 'bullying' from the people.
How do the police deal with these writings/graffitis? They covered them in the name of 'vandalism'. But you know what outrageous from that claim? They covered only the parts that criticize the government/rulers/police or speaking about injustice and leave the rest of the doodles untouched. Why are they even talking about vandalism when they only bothered to cover the ones that don't match their agendas? You tell me.
With all that said, I'm done speaking about the pathetic sides, so let's talk about why I think crypto can be a step towards a better future for the people in my country.
It gives power to the people = real democracy.
Living in a developing country, money is one of the most important things to survive, and with money, you can almost buy anything in the country. Need to get out of trouble regarding the law? Money. Need faster access to vaccinations? Money. Need an acceptance letter to a prestigious school or university? Money.
And with cryptocurrency, you hold your own wallet and you're the only one with access to it (unless you keep your crypto in exchanges), without needing any banks or financial institutions. This means that in case something like a financial crisis or a nationwide turmoil happens, you'll still have access to your own money, whereas if the banks hold it, they might refuse withdrawals at any time to stop the liquidation.
Besides that, if you see crypto as a form of investment, it has so many advantages compared to other investments such as property, stock, or gold. A couple I can mention is the high liquidity of crypto and the massive gains during these mass adoption.
With the points I've mentioned here, I assume that crypto can give people the power to rule over their own decisions and not let the government blindly lead them around. In a way, this makes crypto a step toward real democracy as in its definition.
No more unwanted supervision from the rulers and less chance of corruption.
With cryptocurrencies, as long as you can keep your public address safe and anonymous, nobody can track the movement of your money. This may sound shady, but I find this aspect of crypto to be really useful. In a few cases that I've read, the banks will be notified when you move a lot of money, and if they find it suspicious, they might even freeze the transaction and inquire about the transaction.
Besides the financial aid corruption case I've mentioned before, there are still a lot of corruption cases related to state-owned enterprises. They always take about transparency, but in reality, the financial reports that they publicize are often modified in such a way that doesn't arouse suspicions from the public.
This may sound like a contradiction to my previous point, but I think that when the time comes when crypto is used everywhere, including in governments, the public address of the state-owned enterprise should be given to the people so that we can monitor the movement of money and intervene suspicious activities that involve our tax money. That way, the chance for the rats to commit corruption is reduced drastically.
Helps the people to keep up with the technology developments.
A lot of people in my country are 'outdated' and they don't bother keeping up with all the developments around the world. I'm not just talking about the old people here. People of working ages, college students, and even teenagers are stuck in their own small world and refuse to learn about new things.
Things like cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, which are quite complex by themselves, might sound challenging for them to learn. But as the growth of cryptocurrency adoption is accompanied by a growth in accessibilities and functionalities, people may get interested in learning more about it, and they'll get more 'tech-savvy' in one way or another. With that, the future generation may be able to keep up with the world and start developing their own technologies.
There are obviously still many flaws about crypto as the way it is now, but I think that given enough time and focus, the developers of cryptocurrencies can improve their technologies in such a way that we can use them without any worries.
I believe in the future where cryptocurrency can free us from the imbalance of power between the ones with authority and the ones who are in a sense, 'powerless'. I believe that it will be the step toward real democracy for my country.
Maybe I'm just dreaming, and maybe this is all just an impossible target that I'm putting on crypto. But if we all stop believing in a brighter future, what's the use of struggling every day?
Once again, I'd like to remind you that everything in this article is my personal opinion and views, so some of the points I stated may be biased, or even incorrect. I'll let you do your own research on the topics you find doubtful.
This is my first time ever writing about politics, and I'm quite nervous writing it. But I'm glad that I can finish this and let go of another topic that's been stuck in my mind.
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