What Came Next

Ask Rome again

Yes, yes, money is power, but the intermediary between money and power is faith. People believe the Dollar (or Yuan, or Euro) has value, and so it does. When people lose faith in that value, the power slips away – and into the pool of a competitor.

For millennia, governments derived their legitimacy via the endorsement of the most prevalent religion in that area. Over the past 250 years, money has supplanted theism as the nation-state’s primary tool to organize and influence its citizens, but ultimately it is faith itself that continues to bind nations.

Just as the exploding memberships in a new church might threaten an ancient empire, modern nation-states view faith in alternative currencies as existential threats.

To follow the spread of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is to watch a religion in its infancy. Bitcoin’s converts already have a creation story. A messianic creator, whose return is eagerly awaited. An ideology that asserts the dominion of the many over the few. The powerless over the powerful.

Until recently, money, and the faith it commands, was inseparable from state power. To have money, regardless of the currency, was to endorse the dominion of a specific nation.

Today’s question is: how viciously will governments fight cryptocurrency as it gains converts, as people lose faith in the state religion and begin to worship a new order? When national currencies lose faith, what happens to nations?

There is danger in new denominations. Ask Rome. Ask Rome again.