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Satellite of Love Bitcoin Blueprint Yugoslavia

In this article, I argue that the future geopolitical uses of Bitcoin technology has a roadmap on the example of the Non-Aligned Movement created by former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito during the Cold War.

Like many good ideas, this one started with a question from a child. It’s a typical morning driving my daughter to her high school in New York. She asked, “Dad, why are there 750 US bases in 80 countries around the world?” In 2021 parents don’t want to give stupid answers, she had learned that in her Global History course and I wanted to get to the bottom of the matter. Since I am not a person who subscribes to the ongoing freedom narrative, I said, “Well, we have so many bases in the world to prop up the US dollar.” We continued on this subject until we got to her school, where she finally asked, “So if the dollar is strong because of our military, is that a good thing?” That’s a good question from a teenager, and a big one for Americans. Shortly after our conversation, I read that the nation of El Salvador was buying Bitcoin and making it legal tender there. It seems that the leaders of this tiny South American country have envisioned a new kind of future with Bitcoin at its center.

Why is Bitcoin Political?

Bitcoin is the world’s first cryptocurrency, an expression of the value that the blockchain generates. It’s like any other commodity in the sense that one day someone asked, “How much would you pay for a bitcoin?” In a short period of time, the answer to that question has grown from a few pizzas to tens of thousands of dollars. It’s an explosive and volatile market that has garnered attention around the world for shaping new millionaires who were early adopters. It is the time of the introduction of Bitcoin that makes it more than just another financial vehicle. Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper and reference implementation that gave birth to Bitcoin landed during the worst economic downturn of our lifetime, between 2007 and 2009. It was a response to a massive crisis and criticism of the system that did not work for the majority of citizens. News of the fortunes made in Bitcoin has since dominated the press, but at the heart of this new development is a verdict on power brokers and policymakers that their behavior and lack of oversight led this economic disaster to hurt millions of people financially. Bitcoin promises to provide inexpensive and anonymous access to its ecosystem and, most importantly, to live outside the jurisdiction of those who may have destroyed the global economy. If this idea of ​​sovereignty through an alternative stamp applies to the individual, would it then also apply to a community or a nation-state?

The test case El Salvador

On September 7, 2021, El Salvador became the first country on earth to consider Bitcoin legal tender, which means it can be used in any way that was previously the US dollar. The stated goals of this introduction were to improve the efficiency of remittances from abroad, to reduce the number of citizens with “underbanking” and, in the end only whispered, to reduce the dependency on the US dollar. That last point is realpolitik from the perspective of a nation that abandoned its currency for the dollar in 2001. The idea of ​​autonomy through an alternative currency has many proponents from those who understand Bitcoin’s long-term promise.

However, mainstream financial organizations, think tanks and the media, who act as mouthpieces for the status quo, have doubts about the project. Even the casual observer on the subject would notice the asymmetrical reporting in the West that portrays the idea as “hair-raising” or financially unsound. The same sources also want to create a narrative that El Salvador’s leadership is unpredictable and authoritarian, a subject they largely had no comment on prior to the introduction of Bitcoin. We have yet to see if their policies offer protection from currency manipulation or global inflation, but it is likely that other countries whose sovereignty has been undermined in the past will try to do the same. Is there a blueprint for the future for countries that thrive outside the current US-China hegemony and want to finance it through Bitcoin? Yes, there is and it comes to us through Cold War history.

Yugoslavia and the non-aligned movement

Josip Broz Tito is synonymous with the political history of Yugoslavia, fought in World War I and as an anti-Nazi partisan in World War II he was initially a loyal communist until he drew the wrath of Joseph Stalin. This created a rift in the international communist apparatus of the time. Now the Yugoslav leader was forced to work with the West to stave off worries of a Soviet military invasion. The bigger problem Tito wanted to solve was the slavish political polarity of the Cold War; he envisioned a third path towards autonomy and friendships with like-minded nations. During the UN General Assembly in 1950, the representative of Yugoslavia stated the following:

“… the Yugoslav people cannot accept the postulate that humanity today has only one choice – the choice between the rule of one or the other bloc. We believe there is another way. It may be difficult, but at the same time it is inevitable. It is the way of democratic struggle for a world in which people are free and equal, for democratic relations between nations that prevent outside interference in the internal affairs of nations, and for complete peaceful cooperation among nations the basis of equality. “

This was the embryonic notion with which Yugoslavia’s movement towards so-called market socialism began; they had to rely on their ingenuity to achieve the level of international autonomy that Tito sought. The company’s own computer company Galaksija and the declassified but very nostalgic Yugo compact car in the 1980s are reminiscent of the echoes of this Yugoslav identity. Tito believed that countries with sources of self-reliance could play a role in world politics that transcended the limits of economic and military resource capacities. Although Tito knew very little about the Third World, he knew he needed international allies. He first visited the countries that had emerged from a post-colonial era. He conveyed the message to leaders like the Indian Jawaharlal Nehru that it was a mistake to rely on one or the other political bloc. He pointed out sharply that it was dangerous to join the ideological Soviet bloc, but that the Western methodology of imperialism through financial aid to a sovereign nation was perhaps even more debilitating. In 1961, Yugoslavia joined the first conference of the non-aligned countries of India, Egypt, Ghana and Indonesia; later 120 Member States belonged to this group. There were many reasons why non-alignment did not lead to a reliable third path, such as Balkanization, the death of important leaders, the internal revolution. It can be argued that the central and enduring problem has been their inability to finance mutual trade.

Satellites of Love: How Bitcoin Can Make a Difference

If there were a new set of non-aligned countries or even communities that took on the Yugoslav mantle but were equipped with Bitcoin and the blockchain, it could lead to a cultural revolution. In today’s environment, the new political blocs are China and the United States. They both demand loyalty and can support and punish their economic power. The US has shown how far it has gone with generations of sanctions against Cuba. This is an extreme example, but it is what modern alliances that disagree with American hegemony can face. Not only could Bitcoin provide a solution to international sanctions, but it would also provide a superior trading service for their goods and services. The cryptocurrency technology used could, for example, streamline the customs bureaucracy, lower the costs of processing payments between countries and improve the supply chain through a new level of transparency and traceability. These coordinated “satellites of love” could start with shared technical knowledge to build blockchain networks and robust bond initiatives based on Bitcoin to pay for infrastructure costs. The point is, unlike their Cold War ancestors, they would only be limited by their imagination and desire to thrive with mutual respect. Old institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and central banks will certainly try to undermine efforts to divert their control of the global economic system, but they look in the rearview mirror while Bitcoin is on the horizon.

This is a guest post by Scott Dennis. The opinions expressed are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

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