Bitcoin’s rise has been complemented by the rise of Ethereum and a number of other altcoins. Ethereum’s market capitalization is now approximately $80 billion. Bitcoin almost reached $20,000 trading levels before correcting itself while ETH has been trading at over $800 and its price has just about doubled in less than a 2-week period. Not only have bitcoin and Ethereum experienced exceptional success in terms of value, other altcoins like Litecoin, Ripple’s XRP, and Qtum have also had a good run this year. While we are all aware of these impressive numbers, careful observers and critics of the cryptosphere might question what exactly led to this crypto-revolution?
The 2008-2009 Financial crisis caused people to lose faith in the banking system and the financial institutions that they supported. People were looking for relief from their financial hardships and coincidentally this was also the time that the bitcoin whitepaper was released. The concept where the middleman (bank) is eliminated and payments can occur directly between sender and recipient were truly appealing.
There seems to be a general consensus that bitcoin was invented to serve primarily as a digital form of payment and possibly an asset. Ethereum, on the other hand, was designed as a decentralized platform for application developers. One could argue that bitcoin and Ethereum complement each other and that both were created partly in response to a pressing need: financial freedom and more flexibility.
It seems as if history repeats itself because almost every tragic event documented in modern history is followed by a brutal revolution. Many historians agree that there are hardly any historical events that can rival the French Revolution of 1789, which shook the very foundations of Europe. This was an extremely tense and turbulent time when the cost of two loaves of bread was equal to someone’s monthly income.
Louis XVI was the last King of France because his execution by guillotine effectively ended the centuries-old rule of the monarchy. Louis XVI had involved France in costly wars and his lavish lifestyle along with the rest of the nobility had depleted the nation’s resources. France was left with huge debts which resulted in the suffering of the working class and peasants (the majority). US president George W. Bush engaged the United States in a decade-long war in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Bush also went to war with Iraq based on a loose assumption that Iraq was carrying Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). President Obama continued to engage the United States in different disputes across the world, including fighting off the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011.
As most of us are aware, the United States is a country that’s heavily in debt. Recent estimates indicate that the US national debt is over $20 trillion. Part of what contributed to the 2008-2009 Financial crisis was America’s excessive and disproportionate spending on the defense budget at the expense of hard-earned taxpayers money. When the citizens of a country have to suffer the consequences of financial and economic meltdowns, their reactions are usually in the form that fits the criteria of a revolution.
Even though the stock market is booming and the US unemployment sits at 4.1% (relatively low), the overall growth rate of the US economy has been fairly low for quite some time now. People worldwide have been struggling. Just a year after the Financial crisis of 2009, a huge wave of protests broke out in the Middle East. Armed with the power of social media in 2010, the Arab Spring revolutions spread across much of the Middle East area, dramatically starting in Tunisia when Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire. These revolutions consisted of a series of violent and non-violent protests against the financial hardships, lack of job opportunities (especially for the young workforce), and crippling poverty. Ruthless dictators had ruled over these countries for decades in totalitarian fashion. They had exhausted the country’s financial resources in order to live a selfish life of unimaginable opulence.
Although the citizens of America and much of the developed world might not have suffered nearly as much as the citizens of France centuries ago; or, like many of the citizens of the Middle East who ignited the Arab Spring, they still have suffered enough. Wealth inequality exists in America and the developed world as well. Many people in America work on minimum wage which is not considered a living wage considering housing costs have risen sharply.
It seems like change is coming. John McAfee, the creator of McAfee’s old school anti-virus software, has boldly predicted that the Federal Reserve will disappear and maybe even governments. He’s even predicted that the price of a single bitcoin will be $1 million by 2020. While these predictions may seem unrealistic, there’s no denying that the landscape of the global financial world could be changing.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum along with their underlying blockchain technology could revolutionize the way most industries operate. This could potentially create many new job and career opportunities. Although the crypto-revolution is not a violent revolution, it has the potential to significantly affect and alter how governments and financial institutions operate. This is one of the main things most violent revolutions have sought to achieve.