On October 1st, Catalonia held a referendum to separate from Spanish rule. Stories of independence always interest me as I become convinced national identity is being challenged around the globe. The Blockchain will further fuel this trend as bottom-up and decentralized markets, currencies, and governing systems start dominating decision making and offer alternatives to traditional matters of the centralized state. Sub-national governance, specifically city governments, will benefit most from the new levels of organization the Blockchain provides. City governments are where the rubber meets the road. Local government directly touches its citizens — through police, roads, schools, etc. Cities are where policy and action have to take place in order for society to function.
At the Pentagon, I belonged to a small group of fringe thinkers. An old cantankerous bunch of defense analysts that saw the world through a lens of cause-effect and counter-effect. To this group, outcomes are always mixed and a result of forecast-able actions of living systems. One of the propionate themes of the group’s discussions was power. How organizations create power, manage power, share power, project power, and even lose power. One of the old isms my elders taught me: “regimes always bring themselves down.” Throughout my career this idea seemed to be proven over and over as national governments across the Middle East and North Africa imploded.
So, when Madrid started flexing military and police might at the Catalonian movement for independence, my first thought was, here we go, I get to witness the birth of a new European nation!! Then on the October 5th, Madrid threw a haymaker punch and pulled the banks and large corporations out Catalonia’s capital Barcelona. The wind in my revolutionary sails quickly fell calm and disappointed.
Catalonia’s ruling elite quickly changing their tune from independence to compromise and started fleeing to Brussels. Madrid’s financial move was an attack on one of the independence movement’s centers-of-gravity, finances. The difference between what Catalonia pays to the central government and what it receives is over €10 billion Euros. Madrid brandishing a knife at the purse strings of Barcelona is a powerful gesture to show centralized control.
The Blockchain has an obvious and powerful role in self-rule in Catalonia, with economic tools like cryptocurrencies that can protect against nodes of failure like centralized banks. However, beyond side-stepping traditional financial infrastructure, Catalonia could embrace Blockchain governance and prove it can out-govern Madrid.
Governments are made of people and appealing to those government functionaries to agree to allow computer-aided processes that are encoded with the laws of the land won’t be difficult. Justice, transparency and equal protection under the law become much more attainable on a Blockchain governing system.
The people within government are quick to point technologies-of-accountability at the people. The Blockchain provides an opportunity for political parties to aim the gun of transparency on themselves and ensure the people are best served by the technology and tools available.
What would Blockchain governance look like?
• Putting government budgets on a blockchain and coding that blockchain with the agreed upon budgetary plan as the guiding computer-aided rules or Smart Contracts will ensure proper handling and oversight of public funds.
• Legislation created on a blockchain can send out text messages every time the draft of that legislation is altered.
• Blockchain email systems will maintain permeate records of government functions. Shouldn’t our leaders and institutions act as if someone is watching and reading?
• Blockchain administered utility systems, like wastewater management, city busses, power grids and such will run more efficiently and with less vulnerability to pilfer.
Local is the new black
Embracing radical transparency in localized governance the Blockchain offers will dominate the market of the public affection, good administration and political legitimacy and power.
Catalonian markets should make major moves in Blockchain technology to secure the financial vulnerability Madrid just exposed. And further, political parties in Catalonia should adopt the Blockchain and start building their case to the people and outside neighbors that transparent localized rule is in everyone’s interest.