Decentralization is the act of giving power to the people and it has always been evident and clearly seen in the dynamics of man’s existence as a social, political, and even economical tool. For example, ending slavery, printing copies, establishing democracies, and so on. Should we learn from history? Yes. So, decentralize more. And give people power.
This article is a case for more autonomous systems, which means it will let us know why we should always build the kind of system that empowers everyone that exists in that system. And it implies even if one is a Dad building a family, or a man building a nation, or an entrepreneur building a business, whatever it is, this text is set to open our eyes to learn, not how, but why, one should give autonomy to everyone that occur to be a partaker of what one builds.
We will simultaneously be showing the role of decentralization in a number of successful systems that exist in our world, and among them are nature, evolution, the Finnish educational system, and also the big tech companies, by the time we read through and clearly see the positive roles decentralization play in those systems, we as builders would begin to apply the “give power to the people" narrative to anything we build.
What is True Decentralization? What Does It Mean to Give Absolute Power to An Individual?
Decentralization is the act of distributing the power of a central authority, but that isn’t what true decentralization is.
True decentralization is an event we are yet to produce in our world, which means no one has ever built any truly decentralized environment, except Christ Jesus, a proposition I don’t prepare to clarify now, perhaps later.
Because if there should be any truly decentralized system in our world today, then every authority must be given to every object that exists in that system without that object having to be subjected to any other authority whatsoever.
But that isn’t what we have in decentralized systems that we have today. So, what do we see in them?
This is what we see. We see that the single function of the central authority in these existing systems is just being carried out by various autonomous bodies with respect to certain jurisdictions, locations or let’s say authority.
And that is not what true decentralization should be.
True decentralization is incomplete without autonomy, and if the power of any sort is decentralized, the gatekeepers of such power must have the independence to determine how the power will be used in and turn, and are also responsible for the consequence of any such power appropriations.
“giving power to an individual" is a concept that goes beyond just government and businesses, it is a big part of our lives and everyone must understand that when the people around them are strong enough to exist without having to submit to anyone's command then we have a better world.
But a major argument against “giving power to the people” has always been that it is not suited for building secure and trustworthy systems, because many believe that giving every singular person in this world its own autonomy, is bad for the collective.
Yes, there might be wisdom in these claims as it is intuitive to think that “making an individual powerful enough not to depend on others” means separating them from the society and separation cannot foster unity, however, this isn’t true and that is what I will show you now.
See How Making a Single Person Independently Powerful Leads to Value Creation, Not Separation
Evolution is progressive, and whatever is progressive can be used to justify a progressive claim. Obviously, the simple reason I want to use evolution to make a conclusion about "giving people power" is that even for a man to survive or succeed in life, then those traits or behaviors that were consistent and responsible for the survival of the human race must always be considered if anyone would have to be successful or not.
So what does evolution teach us about "giving power to the people"? Is there something to be learned or modeled from it? Yes, there is.
The first set of people that walked the earth were wanderers, they didn’t make homes or communities because they were stupid and powerless, but when humans started to become wiser, only then they began to settle to build homes and communities.
This clearly means only a mad man separates himself from society, not the wise/powerful one, instead he adds value to society.
This means the more you give power to the people, the more you have powerful people who empower our world.
Asides from human evolution, you can also learn decentralization from other species and organisms, and a typical example are the Vampire bats.
Vampire bats have unique social behavior, after returning from a hunt or scavenging for food, the unsuccessful bats will beg to share food from those who were successful.
The intuitive thing would have been for a successful bat to keep the food and not share it with others because that food is needed for his growth. But the bat would share the food.
So why do vampire bats share their meal?
It was a survival strategy. Studies by many researchers, especially on female vampire bats, have shown that this sharing is actually not even or equal, that is, a bat would not just share his blood meal for every asking bat with equal proportion.
The bat would share more with bats they were more likely to interact with in the future. It was a case of building trust or investing in the future.
In basic psychology, the law of reciprocity suggests that when you as a person give power to another person, the person will always most likely feel the need to reciprocate, vampire bats understood this!
They saw the long-term effect of building trust systems and connections; they saw that by building trust with maybe a few bats in their roosts they increased the odds of survival.
The bats knew that tomorrow they might not be successful after the next hunt so that it might need the help of others, but it still considered the fact that it needed to form more formidable bonds and not just lots of bonds.
Hence it built bonds with bats it had most chances of meeting with in the future.
The key thing with these illustrations of how humans evolve and other species behave is to show you that even if we empower others, there will always be the need for us to cooperate, not separate.
The reality is that, contrary to what most people think about decentralization, decentralization doesn’t lead to isolation, it leads to value creation.
Giving a person independence forces it to seek ways to survive and remain relevant to the common goal of all, which consequently means it has to seek ways to create value in the society, period!
The Finnish Educational System Is Regarded As The Best All Over the World, Because Of What We've Been Talking About
With a unique system that gives teachers and even students independence and autonomy, Finland built a very unique educational system, DECENTRALIZATION CREATES UNIQUENESS.
But the end goal was to create “decentralized systems” down to even the students, which means giving power even to the least units that exist in her educational system, so let's see what happens when this was done.
So this is what we see, we see that with a unique system that gives teachers and even students independence and autonomy, Finland built a very unique educational system.
So unique that educationists and teachers all travel from various places across the world to find out what’s really going on in Finland.
But it would be unfair for me to talk only of the present state of educational success without acknowledging the fact that the path to such success took decades of dedication from the Finnish government especially.
And it wasn’t just down to a particular one-time innovation by a single leadership tenure; the reforms were gradual and deliberate, with the entire success down to a continuous partnership between each consecutive tenures.
I think this even makes it the more amazing that the end goal and evidence will be described by giving each unit system autonomy.
Once again, as any system drives towards decentralization/autonomy, you always see a theme of strong connection or oneness.
It still remains my major case and yet the most counter-intuitive, yet time and time again its always there, communities that thrive do so due to individual autonomy.
So, between the years 1965–1970, hundreds of teachers were gathered and engaged in how to build a unified system of a new national core.
The intuitive thing is that the result will be hundreds of schools with the same teaching curriculum, teaching style, and output, but that’s not what happened, as Finland knew about autonomy being the source of building stronger systems.
Hence, while still maintaining a broader sense of oneness- for example, if you moved to a neighborhood, you didn’t have to start asking about the best school around, because the educational system was designed in a way that all schools had the same quality input/output.
This means teachers in each school were still given an enormous degree of professional discretion and autonomy, especially regular class teachers in (grades 1–6) and subject teachers in (grades 7–9).
Even though as stated before, there is a national core curriculum, it functions mostly as a template, leaving education providers and teachers latitude to decide what they will teach and how.
So much decentralized that teachers select their own textbooks and other instructional materials, with the focus on helping students learn how to assess their own learning.
This same decentralization (if we choose to call it that) is also extended to the final unit of the Finnish education system, the student.
By the time students enroll in upper secondary school (grades 10–12), they are expected to be able to take sufficient charge of their own learning to be able to design their own individual program.
Upper secondary schools are now mostly based on individual study plans. There is no longer a grade structure; each student proceeds at his or her own pace within the modular structure.
Every student constructs his or her own study plan, which consists of different courses in various subjects according to each student’s individual choices.
My favorite part of the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2004) statement is: the learning environment must guide pupils in setting their own objectives and evaluating their own actions. The pupils must be given the chance to participate in the creation and development of their own learning environment.
What a statement! I can hardly think of any statement that best promotes student’s autonomy, yet the performance of Finnish students in international tests has been uniform, it still baffling: teachers have the autonomy, students have the autonomy, yet somehow we are all doing uniformly well.
So, what should you learn from this? This is it, if you want to build a successful and robust community/system, whatever it is you want to build, the key is finding a way to give each unit of that system autonomy, then fallowing it enough to create shared value among them all, simple!
And before I complete my tongue on the Finnish school matter, let me add to it that the level of independence in the Finnish educational system doesn’t end there: students in Finnish schools have fewer hours of instruction than students in any other OECD country.
To put this directly in figures: In lower secondary schools, for example, Finnish teachers teach about 600 hours a year — 800 lessons of 45 minutes each, or four lessons per day.
By contrast, US middle school teachers teach about 1 080 hours, or six daily lessons of 50 minutes, meaning, in summary, a Finnish fifteen-year-old has approximately three fewer years of schooling compared to his/her peers in other countries, yet somehow they keep outperforming their counterparts on international tests.
It is said that students have the time to “play” and reflect on what they have been taught, they also get to personally interpret the knowledge from each day with freedom, also such little teaching hours allow teachers to come up with unique educational activities even though there exists a national template.
There are other factors that have played a major role in the success of the Finnish educational system — like exceptional teacher quality, a system involving more than education, support for children with special needs- but they all seemed to be enablers to creating a near to perfect decentralized educational system that promotes institutional, teacher and student autonomy.
The idea behind the decentralized system isn’t to build selfish or totally individualistic structures or systems, in fact, the idea behind such autonomous structures is to build strong and sustainable communities.
Just like authors Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson point out in their thought-provoking book Why Nations Fail, giving people genuine autonomy and making democracy a second nature, was key to why certain nations are prosperous and why others have collapsed.
The more people could easily access the necessary tools for them to become prosperous as individuals, the more people’s votes mattered, the more a certain elite didn’t have all the access to the sources of prosperity- the higher the chances of the prosperity of such nation.
It sounds absolutely counter-intuitive, you might ask: how does giving people autonomy make them better team players, how can creating decentralized systems make the individual systems more valuable to the general cause?
The reality is no individual or system is self-sustaining by itself, the highest any such autonomous body can do is to create enough strength or network effects that it is more positioned across the value chain, and I will make better justice to that using a typical example which is the big-tech companies like Google and Amazon, why do they prosper so much?
Why Facebook and Microsoft Prosper So Much?
Companies like Facebook and Microsoft have been subjects to public and even legislative scrutiny, with the anti-trust law a supposed mechanism put in place to regulate these companies.
What crime did they commit: they can become monopolies? But why are they monopolies? The reason they are monopolies is this:
Many people widely suggest that no individual entity should have such power. However, these companies reach and power is well beyond the USA and it’s no surprise that the USA is the most powerful country in the world, which for the United States of America to become so powerful today, the government gave each unit that exists in its community the power to count, even the power for startup companies to become monopolies.
Remember that these same companies that are being scrutinized are responsible for a large chunk of the US economy, with all the companies on the fortune 500 lists forming two-third of the entire US economy a fact that won’t surprise Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.
The reality is the level of autonomy that the US government gave these companies is the sole reason that Silicon Valley is regarded as a gold mine.
So back to the biggest case against such autonomy, let’s consider google. Why is google as powerful as it is, is it powerful because the US economy simply provided a conducive environment for tech startups?
That’s part of it like we have both fully acknowledged, but one very key reason is one that helps strengthen all that I have been trying to point out in this article, which is the fact that autonomy, in the long run, is all about building enduring communities.
So, what did Google do, that made her stand out among many other startups that the U.S gave the power to grow so much on their own enough to be monopolies? I mean, why Google succeeded, and others didn't, although they were U.S startups too?
The reason Google stand out is that Google changed the world of search, they aggregated all the information and made it easy for users, but most importantly, they allowed people and businesses to be more visible, they allowed you and your product to be easily seen, they made it possible through many tools like the Google ads for you (an individual) to reach more audience.
Hence, Google’s growth was dependent on how much value they could give people (individually), they helped other autonomous businesses build more audience while revolutionizing search and information!
Even Google’s growth was dependent on how much value they could give people (individually), why do you hate Bitcoin ooo?
There would be no google if they didn’t add value to people on a much more decentralized level, period!
And today Google has so many platforms, tools, products, and technologies that have helped businesses, students, Entrepreneurs, and the world at large, further their own respective goals.
Not only Google, but the same also applies to Amazon, the eCommerce platform has been the most criticized and scrutinized for monopolistic tendencies with its diversity into various categories, with major arguments against the tech giants centered around their online and offline capabilities and monopolies.
However, we ask the same question, would amazon be powerful without the other businesses that trust them to give them autonomy? Obviously, the answer is no.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), its eCommerce services, and other revenue channels, all operate with a platform status mechanism by helping facilitate services between other service providers and their own customers.
Once again, you've seen that all these supposed autonomous giants are only giants because they allowed other independent bodies to also achieve their own goals, decentralization, yah, it’s that simple!
The beauty of the decentralized system is the sort of meritocracy that is always at play. Each autonomous system is given the chance to create its own value system, this autonomous body must find ways to provide value for others, the more the value the more the rewards.
And that’s exactly why some companies can be regarded as monopolies or more harshly, cheats, but in reality, they have simply created more value and are being rewarded for doing just that:
1 — Uber digitized convenience and allowed you to ride like a car owner with a driver.
2 — Airbnb digitized trust and made you access cozy homes and apartments.
3 — Netflix made you access various types of movies, by helping you personalize your entertainment experience.
And the list is endless for many other big companies. So, it’s very imperative to recognize that a decentralized system could only be sustainable by creating shared value, that is the lesson here.
So, Blockchain Isn't the Only or the First Decentralized System to Be Created
Blockchain seems to be the modern-day metonym for decentralized systems, in fact, if not for the exposition and analysis with other examples in this article, an average person would only attach the idea of autonomy or decentralized systems to Blockchain and cryptocurrency.
In view of this, it makes it pertinent that this article also fully engages the idea of decentralization exclusively from the Blockchain angle.
Blockchain isn’t the only or the first decentralized system to be created
Blockchain act as a decentralized system for recording and documenting transactions that take place involving a particular digital currency, it guarantees the security of the transactions and the participants, independence of operations from a central authority.
And the constant penetration of the internet into every of man’s activities is arguably the most significant sign of man’s progress as a living being, but the major problems still involve financial and data security against internet fraudsters.
This is a big issue and its effect has slowed down a lot, the success of e-commerce in sub-Saharan Africa is one of them, as most Africans are highly skeptical of paying for things online, this is understandable with the ever-increasing number of internet fraudsters, however, blockchain technology solves this.
Because blockchain act as decentralized systems for recording and documenting transactions that take place involving a particular digital currency. Hence blockchain is a solution to arguably the biggest problem of the internet age.
To truly appreciate the impact of this trust digitization we must consider its effect as a platform or chokepoint for transactions like how to flutterwave who act as choke points for millions of transactions.
The incomparable security feature makes blockchain applicable to almost any field as digital security remains a universal concern.
There are already being suggested as the best solution for online identity management, thanks to independent verification processes that take place for individual computers on a Blockchain network, as is seen with digital currencies.
That feature can also be used for other verification procedures, including identity verification or maintenance like voter’s information or even protection of this information like real estate ownership.
It’s also being used in various business categories for keeping tabs on supply chains and ensuring absolute efficiency by reducing the possibility of errors in complex processes.
All these examples of how Blockchain is utilized keep pointing to a few things: trust and security.
It’s just exciting when you really look at it: for individuals to truly connect on a secure and trustworthy level, we need to first give each individual his/her own autonomy, he/she must be the sole decider of what happens to any data that relates to them, and that is the way forward.
But you may ask is this principle of decentralization I have been talking about for minutes now, is it applicable to all? Yes, I understand nothing in the world is absolute, which means the "nothing in the world is absolute" is not absolute too. So, to the best of my understanding, for now, the principle of decentralization works for most systems and situations I have experimented with in my life, even down to arguments like gun laws.
Can We Apply Decentralization to Gun Laws? Should We Give Guns & Weapons to Common Citizens Themselves?
If we seek a decentralized state, people must be able to define their own security. And if everyone understood and knew how a gun works, there would be less fear centred around guns.
Despite shifts in how modern wars are fought, most powerful nations are judged based on economic might and mostly nuclear capabilities.
The reality is from time past; the strength of a nation will always be judged based on its ability to defend its people against potential/real threats or her ability to respond adequately to attacks from another country.
Hence, nations have built military and warfare strength over time in order to remain powerful — Russia and the USA can be regarded as the two most powerful nations in the world.
And it’s no coincidence that both are also an economic powerhouse and globally feared, in fact, countries who are also building their economic power have also been trying to build their nuclear strength.
Studies in the field of social science also show strong correlations between high crime rates and economic stability- countries with internal security issues or instability also struggle economically.
Therefore, I ask myself what the world will look like if every individual had the autonomy to build his/her own security capabilities; a world where I am absolutely in control of my own security and my commitment to it defines my overall safety.
If you have been following this piece, you will know this is not a comic book neither is it a work of fiction, there is logic to what I’m about to discuss in this article and this is not some crazy agenda.
Gun laws have always been a subject of heated debate across the world, however, these arguments have always been centered around their effectiveness as a corrective measure.
When you look at the respective lists of the top ten USA states with the highest crime rates and that of states with the most relaxed gun laws, you will find that both lists share half of each other’s list, with five states appearing in both lists.
Therefore, the debate around gun laws are not new, the question is, have implemented policies worked?
States in the USA with relaxed gun laws like Arkansas and Alabama, still remain states with very high crime rates. The relaxed gun laws were supposed to reduce the crime rate, but nothing really changed.
In fact, a circle of causality has been discussed- did the high crime rate lead to relaxed gun laws, or did the relaxed gun laws cause a high crime rate?
Better arguments and studies have shown that it might actually be a cultural issue and it might not be a coincidence that these states with high crime rates are mostly southern American states with a predominantly similar culture like the culture of honor and the likes.
The history of New York high crime rate in the 1980s is another one that must not be overlooked, in his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell showed how the “epidemic” of crime was a socio-cultural problem and was only solved when approached as such.
Hence, maybe Gun laws are useless or maybe they are not or we are not just using them the right way which is by removing them completely.
Yes, I think Gun laws are useful but not as responsive, corrective, or strategic tools, I think a better use is for there to be no Gun laws with each individual having the autonomy to build and own his/her own firearm.
The first advantage is that owning a gun now becomes a normal thing. This is a very good cultural change as it allows more people to understand how the device works, the truth is people are scared of whatever they don’t understand.
And if everyone understood and knew how a gun works, there would be less fear centered around guns, the opposing argument can be that this can actually normalize crimes.
But this is a faulty point of view because crimes are cultural dynamics — they are not dependent on the availability or non-availability of weapons, in fact, weapons become more available because people want to carry out crimes and not the other way around.
Take for example, in poorly developed cities we see people resorting to crime to survive, this leads to young and old looking for weapons and platforms to carry out these crimes.
You are surprised and sad when a 16-year-old uses a gun to rob just to survive, the boy didn’t carry out the crime because there was freedom of gun ownership, no he overcame his fear, learned how to use a gun, then used one to rob an innocent person because he had to survive.
The understanding of this context is very key and as I have pointed out with respect to crime rates and gun laws in the USA, it is evident that Guns would always remain enablers to existing human patterns, they don’t really change a lot unless we realize that they are not to be used responsively.
So, before any form of argument or analysis is made with regards to this, you may even ask, “Ok I get you’re an advocate for decentralized systems, but why guns?’
The best answer for this question can be drawn from the introduction to this part of the article: power and security have a relationship, and mostly a linear one, except in very rare circumstances.
So why not introduce a new pattern for guns’ regulations, why can’t everyone in the world have an equal means for making and having their own guns.
And this is where decentralization comes into play, and so far decentralization has always proven to be the way forward in most systems, it works when we apply it to Guns too)?
And since guns are major functional units of any sub-security system, then they should be the best tool for decentralization of security.
Don't get me wrong, the model I suggest in this proposed world is one in which every individual has the autonomy to print their own guns through a 3D Gun printer.
The major difference to the status quo is that there are no relatively relaxed gun laws across the globe, therefore this means that everyone can have a gun, as much as you want for your own protection and security.
In such a world, since everyone can have a gun then anyone can have a gun, the realization for this means that criminals and thieves have this at the back of their mind, another thing is it reduces the “threat factor” of guns.
Because everyone now knows how it works, everyone knows the damage it can make, the general understanding of this “threat factor” of guns means that it is less glorified as a weapon of harm and more used as a tool for self-defense, a very important psychological-cultural shift.
It’s important to stress that the importance of this gun autonomy to having a successful decentralization in our world:
There will always be a feeling of independence and freedom if I know I am responsible for my own life, this is just all I have been emphasizing so far if people know that work is proportional to the standard of living, they know that they are responsible for their own life and can provide for themselves if they worked hard if people know that their votes count and can vote in or remove any government, they know they are responsible for the government and are responsible if the government succeeds or fails, societies, where people have this autonomy, power, and understanding, have been prosperous.
Therefore, as I have shown that building a robust defense profile positions a country better on the global world, it means that security/defense is very important for any individual system. Therefore, if we seek a decentralized state, people must be able to define their own security.
But, Don't Forget This
Obviously, as I have always fairly pointed out, a certain sense of hierarchy might still ensure even in a highly decentralized system, the reality is such hierarchies are usually value-based, with people competing as to who provides the best value for others in the community.
This means even if anyone can print their own guns, everyone knows that you must seek partnerships and relationships, just that this time there is no prior advantage, and any such advantage can only be built by seeking ways to create value for your neighbor. Decentralized systems are value-based systems.