It's A Mindset
There is a belief out there that technology will save us all.
It runs counter to the reality of what technology is ultimately used for. If there is a way to weaponize it or control millions with it, eventually, technology gets used for those purposes by someone, no matter how earnest the original intent.
Decentralization Can Help
But it's more than a blockchain or code. It's a philosophy, a way of life. It needs to be felt, yearned for, desired above all else to succeed. And it's going to take more than just one individual, or a few, or even a thousand, for it to ever take root in much of society.
Too Many Say They Want Decentralization...
...but what they're really after is a way to get ahead, even if it ends up being at the expense of others. They will say it is for the right reasons, for the good of all, but reality, again, is something different. Governance centralizes, power, stake distribution, coin mining, whatever it may be—and ultimately the promise of decentralization is lost to that particular system.
So, those seeking freedom, transparency, trustless transactions, etc., go from place to place, trying to find and live by those ideals only to eventually pack up and move again because decentralization isn't a place, or a blockchain, or a destination.
One Person's Decentralization Is Another's Centralization
We want our decentralization the way we want it—our way. We want it wide open in some ways, and impossible to navigate in others. We only want good to come from it, and we want to squash or eliminate the bad.
Except, we all have different ideas as to what constitutes good and bad and levels or limits as to when we might actually do what we've said is bad. For the good of the order, we become our own worst enemy, and the system we operate within starts to fail and when it does, we tend to blame it on others.
Is Decentralization Even Possible In Today's World?
I hope it is. I believe it can be done. It has to, if the individual is to have true freedom, or the ability to act of their own free will and volition.
That's because every system of governance on Earth is currently heading toward more centralization, not less. In nearly all cases, these systems have already reached critical mass, and there's no way within those systems to turn them around or dismantle them, because they now solely exist to perpetuate and protect their own existence.
If there is to be decentralization, it will have to be a disrupting force that comes from outside those systems, that encompasses and engulfs them all. That has been the intent of many as far as blockchains are concerned. However, as I said from the beginning, technology (in this case, the blockchain) is only a tool. Who wields it and how will ultimately determine what it is actually used for.
Therefore, for it to succeed, decentralization must first be a belief system, entrenched in the minds and hearts of those who seek after it. For decentralization to continue after conception, it must be continually propagated and instilled in the minds and hearts of those who are attracted to it for other reasons, because decentralization bears all kinds of desirable fruits beyond freedom, borderless and trustless transactions, transparency, etc.
Perfecting Code Is Not The Answer (On Its Own)
Achieving decentralization can only occur from the inside out. External forces might help that internalization take place, but somehow, someway, it must become deeply rooted within each individual participating before decentralization can get a foothold, grow, and eventually thrive.
It will mean giving up some self-interests (not all) for the good of the order. It will mean everyone being more concerned for the safety of the system and of others than they are for themselves. That's because decentralization is, at its core, a selfless system. Even though there are many gains and benefits to be had, it comes at the expense of ego and self-preservation.
We Determine Whether Or Not Decentralization Can Happen
We are flawed human beings. We don't always want what's best for the system because we're seeking what's best for us. We bring a lot of baggage with us to decentralization. We have too often been willing to abandon the principles of decentralization in order to save decentralization. It doesn't work that way. Decentralization either works or it doesn't on its own merits.
It will take time.
More than four years, or ten or maybe even twenty.
It will take a generation or two. In the meantime, it will need to be sustained and nurtured by those of us who are willing and able to put in the hard work. The code behind the blockchain is only part of it.
We must be the ones willing to avoid the concentration of power.
We must be the ones who don't abdicate our responsibilities to the few who might govern.
We must be the ones to stand up for freedom of speech, the right to an opinion, regardless of how vehemently opposed we might be to what is said or believed.
We must be the ones who stand against retribution while allowing whatever consequences there may be for said actions, words or thoughts to unfold.
If we can't do that, and more, than decentralization is only a bit of wishful thinking, it will not take hold, and some other system envisioned by someone else, will continue in its stead.
That's the world we already have, not the one we've been yearning for. It's time for introspection, self reflection, to know what we truly want. Do we really want decentralization? What are we will to give or give up for it to succeed? What are we willing to do for it?
If the answer is no and nothing, then decentralization can't succeed. If the answer is yes and then figure out what needs to change in one's self, then there's still a chance for decentralizatin to transform the world.
This post is published as part of the "What Does Decentralization Mean To Me?" initiative by @theycallmedan.