Sirwin
Sirwin
Own work

The Gap Between Ability and Possibility: How 'Power' Cannot be Judged.


Allow me to start with a question which might not have an answer. Who is the most powerful woman in the world? Let's narrow it down to just two contenders who would probably make it to the top 5 with little controversy. Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and Frau Chancellor Angela Merkel PhD. In terms of known influence on world affairs we would have to admit that Merkel has got more direct impact on what is happening, say, in the Eurozone, while Her Majesty's influence is and has remained hidden for many decades. Do we know what the Queen's stance had been regarding the UK joining the EU? Do we know what her stance was on Brexit? We do not, and so judging her influence is an impossible task, since we do not know whether things happened according to her will or against it. But here we run into another snag, a problem of methodology no less. What makes us certain that whatever Merkel has ordered and was carried out was her own design? Take Greece staying in the Eurozone. Can we attribute that to Merkel alone or was perhaps Mario Draghi the grey eminence behind such moves?

We might approach the question in a different way, by establishing what one or the other leader could do. The leader who is less legally constrained would be judged the more potent. Tabloids were abuzz a while ago when president Donald Trump was about to visit Her Majesty with the ludicrous suggestion that the Queen might be able to personally behead Trump with no legal consequences. While that is technically true in legal terms it remains ludicrous. You see, law does not exist in a vacuum, but applies to the world and remains in dialectic with it. The simplest explanation of this is that we tend to ban undesirable behaviour that does on occasion happen, meaning that had the Queen behead the POTUS, no doubt some constraints would be placed upon this power in the future, not to mention the diplomatic fallout and the confusion of the mainstream media over the issue, which would have been I am sure both terrifying and hilarious. 

Is Merkel then the clear winner? Would Merkel really have the hutzpah to, say, phone up the Bundeswehr stationing in Estonia and order them to conduct a series of military maneuvers that would unnerve nearby Russia? Likely not, because how Germany may or may not use its troops is severely regulated by precedent, culture and all the soft factors that analysts of hard power often are unable to adequately factor in. This is despite the fact that the Chancellor has much more prerogative to conduct foreign policy via moving troops than the Queen has leisure to conduct foreign policy by uh... putting her privileges to good(?) use and beheading foreign heads of state. We live in history and Merkel is not free from the shadow of a certain other German chancellor who had abolished the office in search for a more permanent executive position, which ended only with his suicide in 1945. Consequently, Frau Merkel would find it very hard to pursue an aggressive, militaristic form of domestic and foreign politics, let alone sidestep legal guidelines and the power of precedent to ignore the need to re-establish democratic mandate for rule every couple of years, a significant limitation when compared to Her Majesty's long reign, uninterrupted by elections.

No ruler (and in fact, likely no human) can decide in suspension of other people's opinions. Even conscience of someone's non-binding opinion is enough to modify someone's outlook, so why are we so quick to reject the notion of the Queen influencing the governance of the UK via her weekly meetings with the prime minister? Perchance those meetings are less like ritualised offerings before an old statue performed by the democratically-elected priest and more like Draghi informing Merkel about what may, might, could, should or ought to happen. We simply have no way of knowing. So, after establishing that formal and informal constraints are far from being a simple tool enabling us to establish the more 'powerful' entity, what is the lesson from all this and what does it have to do with crypto?

The opportunities that a given entity has and the constraints upon that entity are not ultimate means for determining the more potent entity. This is not to say that there is no way to distinguish between a shitcoin and Etherium , this is to say precisely that this can be done, but not by looking at a manipulated table or graph that attempts to trick you into thinking that Zcash is more privacy-focused than Monero or that Tron is faster than Bitcoin. While I do not wish to imply that Zcash and Tron are shitcoins, I would like to dispel the statements above in the crudest way possible: let one compare price, market cap, volume and number of holders (markers of use, practice, historical and modern data being perfectly comparable). In this way we see that in as far as coins are similar - they can be evaluated by the same metric. Unfortunately(?), neither Her Majesty nor Merkel have ICOs, so similar comparisons cannot be performed. Should they even have permitted such sacrilegious acts (against British Monarchy and German Democracy respectively), their different target groups (markets, subjects, nations) would render simple comparisons invalid. Whether this can be said of coins offering different solutions and catering to various tastes is another matter altogether, but it proves my point anyway, since what I have been arguing, in case you have not yet noticed, is the absurdity of some, if not all, comparisons.

But allow me to end on a less-then-conclusive call to caution. Take the example of a Litecoin fork called Dogecoin. Why is it's price not that of Litecoin? Is not the community of a coin, what is tweeted about the coin and ultimately the reputation of the coin the best reflection of its price? Or rather, do not the mentioned factors drive the price (and value!) of the instrument? It seems communities and markets behind coins give them their power, just like political communities and economies give power to rulers, whatever the architecture (coding, legislation) of a coin or a leader. This final thought is something I would like to leave you with.

 

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VVoytila
VVoytila

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