Revolt of the public, crypto trends, and mindful meditations

Cultural trends + meditations | Vol. 3

Hello family. 🤗

Welcome to v3 of Move Fast, Think Slow. This is a newsletter that will focus on cultural trends and mindful meditations. Think of it as a cultural trends party upfront and meditations/philosophy after-party in the back. Not the greatest analogy but hopefully you get the gist of it.

Today’s briefing will unpack geopolitical analysis from a former CIA operative, surface provoking insights and assertions on the future of crypto, social, and Web3. And last but not least we’ll take a look at mindful meditations by reviewing sage wisdom shared by one of the most influential Buddhists in the world.

If you’re digging the chili I am outlining in the upfront here and you are not yet subscribed, then jot down your email to keep up with future briefings.

Revolt of the public Martin Gurri | Book Review | Cultural Trends

The other day I was in Brooklyn sitting on the stoop of a friend’s home asking him questions about the events of the day in America. A political arena that seems so disjointed and is often downright concerning. This friend told me I needed to look up a book written by a former CIA operative called the REVOLT OF THE PUBLIC. He told me that the author (Martin Gurri), analyzed and broke down how events in America were not isolated. That there was in fact a larger trend brewing internationally amongst a public that is now being fueled by new networks of information and communications. Ultimately, the author asserts:

The information technologies of the twenty-first century have enabled the public, composed of amateurs, people from nowhere, to break the power of the political hierarchies of the Industrial Age.

Industrial Age institutions and Governments are based on hierarchical structures and centralized control in how they impose their power. But today, there is a networked-public (we the digital people) who have access to the most amount of information in the history of humanity. The result of that info overload are two items:

  • First, the public continues to lose faith and trust in Governments and institutions due to a constant drip of promises made by politicians-hyped by media that are not fulfilled on as promised.

  • Second, over a period of time the networked-public has morphed into a culture of nihilism - it’s oftentimes atmospheric as are many things “digital” are but at moments a very well-coordinated nihilistic mob can and will develop.

The hyper-active coordination of the mob constantly subverts Industrial Age structures because they move at a speed and proximity beyond the Government’s grasp. Hence the public uprisings throughout the world since information technology has gotten more ubiquitous.

What is a “digital nihilist?” This is someone who would like to see it all burn down. To wash away the old and bring in the new. They have no real plans or ideas for reform; they don’t care about the results. They only want to see a rejection of the old. 

A dose of social and political nihilism - a suicide wish - becomes inevitable. If the Industrial Age hierarchies of contemporary democracy are suffering a crisis of authority, if the public is on the move and expecting impossibilities, then, all things equal, the system will continue to bleed away legitimacy - and there will be those who argue it should be put of to its misery. 

Six years after writing this book the author’s thesis holds up. At the time he wrote this analysis he was basing it on trends throughout the world such as the Tunisian (2010) and Arab Spring (2011) protests, Occupy Wall Street (2011), Spain (2011) protests, Turkey protests (2013), Venezuela crisis (2014), and more. It’s quite fascinating (while concerning at the same time) to see how those trends coincide with what we are seeing on the ground in America today in 2021.

So Martin called it in 2014 and the thesis has a very precise yet unfinished premise so now what? What does the future hold for Democracy in America. What is in store for the Governments of the future? The author had the following analogy:

If an educated person of that era (17th Century) were transported to the present, his first question would be, “Who won-Catholics or Protestants?” For us that question has no meaning. Both sides endured. Neither won. Something different evolved. Much the same, I suspect, will occur with the dispute of the hierarchy and network.

The author continues to state in the epilogue of the book, whatever the new ruling systems turn into they will likely have to be inclusive of a networked-public that moves at a speed and closer proximity than how current Governments and Elites operate today.

The present need is for a re-formation of the system and the restoration of authority. The practice of democracy must accomdate the existence of an enormous and super-opinionated public. Political action must approach the speed and proximity expected by an electorate that lives, works, and shops on digital media. 

The big question is where to find a “select minority” that embodies the best of virtues required to lead democracy into the Digital age, and can draw the public, by show of example, towards those virtues. 

I can’t recommend this book enough. Not only is Martin’s analysis precise and clear but he also supports it with relevant data points. After watching what has become of the political rodeo in D.C. (and in the media), the public/mass populace as of recent, and our aging slow-moving institutions it is striking how on the nose Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium is.

Hot Crypto links and the future of Web3/Social | Marketplace Trends

Since my first post covering some of the Crypto hype (and realities), I’ve been traveling further down the Crypto/NFTs/Web3 wormhole. As of late, there have been a few interesting Twitter threads from @CDixon and @AndrewChen and @MorningBrew. Highly recommend you go through these to consider the implications of how Web3 plays a role in the future of social and commerce.

  • Andrew Chen lays out some thoughtful perspectives on the future of digital art / NFTs and how that may play out across the next iterations of social/Web3.

And last, take a look at Morning Brew’s NFTs 101 explanatory. A great thing to send to friends if they’re trying to wrap their heads around this thing. Or read yourself if you’re wondering why people keep bringing up Non-Fungible Tokens.

^^That’s pretty wild^^

One last thing here, shout out to @silenok for the best hot-take on how NFTs are not that different from IRL NFTs. 👀👀 👇👇

How Nigeria is driving the future of Bitcoin and why this directly relates to trends described in the book Revolt of the Public

One more note on Crypto with a data point I just learned (that’s not net-new but new to me) from Morning Brew’s Crypto crash course. A big driver with the Bitcoin economy is in Nigeria (see #3 here). From the sound of it, this is textbook Revolt of the Public happening in real-time. The networked-public in Nigeria creating a third space or as Martin Gurri’s puts it “the fifth wave” that spins into it’s own system that is beyond the means of Government control.

Due to Nigeria's inconsistent Government and banks the networked-public continues to look to utilize new forms of currency to legitimately transact; potentially positively changing the economic trajectories of their lives. 

Just as Martin’s book described, a centralized government in Nigeria is trying to regulate its way towards control but instead have been and will continue to be thwarted by the networked-public who finds a way to keep the trains moving forward and therefore in true if you can’t beat them, join them mentality, the Nigerian government is now on track to create their own digital currency by October 2021.

The Miracle of Mindfulness | Meditations

An old friend and I have started a new informal thing. We get together and trade notes on Stoicism and philosophical perspectives on this journey we all call life. He’s pointed out to me how there is a overlap between Stoicism and Buddhism and made an excellent book recommendation. A great Buddhist monk named Thích Nhất Hạnh wrote The Miracles of Mindfulness as a way to teach people how to access a clearer mindset by being in the now. It’s a great book outlining simple principles to guide one to being in the moment and slowing everything down.

The more I learn how Buddhism shares a few of the same attributes as Stoicism the more intrigued I am about the overlaps. This great point of view on the matter from the Daily Stoic:

Both Buddhism and Stoicism teach that you should not spend your life seeking worldly pleasures. There is something far more meaningful to pursue: the perfection of mind and spirit. Our attachment to worldly things is the source of much of human suffering. The philosophy of Stoicism and the religion of Buddhism are excellent ways for humans to gain independence from the circumstances of their lives and become more emotionally stable.

And as Professor Massimo Pigliucci has written, showing the similarities between the two,

“The ultimate goal of the Stoic was apatheia, or peace of mind, which I think is akin to both the Epicurean ideal of ataraxia and the Buddhist goal of nirvana…”

I had no idea but the connection between the two is downright fascinating when you consider both philosophical approaches came from different times in history in different parts of the world. Makes one go 🤔🤔🤔.

Nevertheless, the book is a straight forward-yet-powerful read and worth the look. One of the big points Thích Nhất is trying to get across is pure power of mindful awareness. The power of focusing and using breathing as a tool to get to the present. A real interesting and welcomed tidbit Thích Nhất asserts is that one does not have to be doing "sitting meditation” but can be meditating no matter the place and space one is in.

If we’re really engaged in mindfulness while walking down along the path to the village then we will consider the act of each step we take as an infinite wonder, and a joy will open our hearts like a flower, enabling us to enter the world of reality. 

Joy and peace are the joy and peace possible in this very hour of sitting. Don’t chase after your thoughts as a shadow follows its object. Don’t run after your thoughts. Find joy and peace in this very moment. 

I am not yet finished but I already feel like I’ve been fed fruits of wisdom from a wiser past to find ways to live in the now. Here’s to mastering the art of mindful meditations no matter when or where we go. 

In conclusion…

Hopefully, you found this week’s briefing helpful or illuminating in some regard. I’m going to work on sharpening the edges on future briefings as well by cutting down on length to make these a bit more punchy. To that end, if you have notes, feel free to pass them along. 📝🤓

If you are so inclined, please share this newsletter with a friend, or better yet, sign up for the next drop that’s coming to an inbox near you. 📥

Until next time, please stay safe friends, and do your best to stay healthy every day and every way. Your aura will appreciate it. Praise be. 🙏🙏