I’ve tried various ways to convince my Dad, a typical Chinese boomer, to allocate part of his hard-earned money into bitcoin, but most of my pitches have failed badly.
For thousands of years in feudal society, the Chinese have a natural inclination to believe in authoritarian power, considering political leaders as head of the family. My pitch of “self-sovereignty” is not just quirky but too wild for my Dad’s generation.
This post is part of CoinDesk's 2020 Year in Review – a collection of op-eds, essays and interviews about the year in crypto and beyond. Dory DeGeneres grew up in China and works as a VC in the cryptocurrency industry.
Thanks to the economic miracle of the last 30 years, China’s M2 (a measure of money supply) expanded massively and average household income and social wealth grew even more dramatically. Living standard doubled every seven years for the last 30 years. So the pitch to fight inflation does not work, too.
The inflection point came when my Dad saw the news on how Chinese regulators snapped their fingers and halted Ant Group’s initial public offering (IPO) at the last minute. Like many other average Chinese middle class people, he noticed that an admired self-made entrepreneur like Jack Ma is simply nobody in front of authority. If the mighty Jack Ma can fall like a leaf, it’s clearly almost impossible to preserve generational wealth in a guaranteed way. Many of the super-rich in China have been paying financial media NOT to report their wealth status because being loud can easily lead to being shut down violently.
We may argue there is merit in regulators trying to prevent a potential negative chain effect of high-leveraged lending products in the case of Ant Group, but it also reveals that you simply can’t protect your wealth against authoritarian seizure, regardless of political system. U.S. sanctions are another form of seizure, framed in a politically correct way, weaponized under U.S. diplomatic tactics. So at the end of the day, you can only pray political leaders will adhere to what they promised: The private property of citizens is inviolable. They’ve written down such promises in the law, but is the law immutable? Can the law be 100% enforceable? What if they place the rule of man above the rule of law?
With more governments around the world joining the camp of nationalism, brewing strong handed leaders and populist administration, the rise of the bitcoin class is inevitable. This class not only possesses common socioeconomic status, but also common thesis towards life and liberty. Most importantly, the wealth accumulated by this class will not be redistributed by social turmoil such as wars, revolutions and any potential authoritarian seizure. Every 50-100 years, the social structure is shuffled, social mobility cycles through.
The bitcoin class will be immune to all these and quietly pass down generational wealth. For the first time, the division of classes is not by level of income, occupation, or any peer recognition, but by a string of binaries in your cold storage that only you can sign and prove. I can foresee this class to be an unique, shadow power in decades to come, influencing all aspects of social movements and public policies. They live independently, unite whenever necessary. It’s a meta-sovereign class that’s enabled by bitcoin, the cohesion of this group transcends race, language, nationality and religious belief.
We are living in a bizarre world. Central bankers keep printing till eternity. Society is bifurcated. And consensus is impossible to reach. Privacy is traded for convenience. The coronavirus experience tells us something maybe everybody can agree on: we all deserve a better government.
But instead of hoping for a better government or a fairer system, when mostly likely we will be repeatedly disappointed, why not make a conscious decision to opt into the bitcon class?
This is my only working pitch to my Dad, and, recently, he finally opted in.