In the Fields of Kentra and Cadency (Centralization vs Decentralization)

in philosophy •  last year

In Greek, there are a couple of words that were translated by Robert Schmidt, that have semantic similarity to the concepts of centralization and decentralization in the cryptocurrency field. The first word is “kentron” (Greek - κέντρον), which Schmidt translated as “pivotal” or “pivot” in his translations, but he explained several other related meanings.

The “pivotal” nature of the word as a verb describes an action that is possible because of one of the other meanings of the word which is “goad” or “sharp point”. For instance, a compass can pivot on this axis because of that sharp point. The other meaning of kentron changes the goad from a noun to a verb. Schmidt said that the other meaning is related to using that sharp point as a motivator similar to a cattle prod.

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Another related meaning is “hinge” that Schmidt said becomes a focal point for rotation. Beyond the rather literal idea of a physical rotation is the idea that if the world “revolves around” some individual, that they become a center of attention, famous, or are at least very busy in business. In the context of Schmidt’s translations of astrological texts, these pivot points, or hinges, represent “centering” on some aspect of this world. This is how kentron is related to the idea of centralization.

By contrast, there is another word that represents the opposite condition known as “apoklima” (αποκλιμα - Greek) which means to “hinder”, “slope away” or “fall away”. In the Project Hindsight translation series, the context was associated with the cadent houses in astrology. There is a third word in Greek that is neither associated with the cadent or angular houses (pivot points) that have to do with the succedent houses “epinaphora” that represent coming into being.

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Within the astrological context, this threefold division shows coming into being, being centered in this world and then leaving this world (or passing away). It should be noted that the cadent houses are also associated with the word “metacosmios” which also means “between the worlds”.

What does it mean to become “centered” in this world? People who hold central positions typically hold positions of trust. With the technology that underlies bitcoin, this need for trust is undermined and we might no longer need these hubs of central authority. Yet nature has a tendency to bring some sort of “authority” into the picture.

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In the above image we have an approximate visual representation between distributed networks, decentralized and centralized structures, whether they be political systems where the nodes represent politicians or people, or be they computer nodes. The figure (C) actually represents the most fair political structure in a flat network representation. It’s a graphene structure that routes similar to BitTorrent that doesn’t recognize rank or hierarchy.

The figure on the left is the most centralized and such structures are critically dependent upon that one node in the center. It if fails, then the network fails. In the middle represents where we actually are with bitcoin which is partially decentralized but with choke points when there are nodes with too many incoming connections. There are about seven centralized choke points which could cause problems, but any one of them on their own cannot control the whole network.

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One of the metaphysically troubling issues for those familiar with the ancient Hellenistic era Greek astrological texts, is the association of the lights (the Sun and Moon) with everything good in life, but also how they support centralization and trust. This might simply be an artifact of the bias of the times in which the only solution to the byzantine generals problem is authority.

But of the significations of Saturn is this idea of “dismantling” which is necessary of centralized systems to bring them into balance of power.

Saturn has a particularly nasty reputation, however. It is associated with darkness, death, despair, unwittingness (agnoia - ἄγνοια) and ignorance. The problem is that nature makes it difficult to isolate these manifestations and the world has a way to aggregating these together. How can we take the agnoia of the network and make it fair? (justice is after all blind).

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This might be just a little too abstract so let me put this into a real world situation. There has been this ongoing debate between @berniesanders and @haejin and others about what is fair compensation on the network and complaints about raping the reward pool. It seems that we have no trouble knowing what “abuse” is when we see it, but in order to try to set things straight, imposition of will is necessary which violates one of the most important principles behind voluntarism and its software architecture known as decentralization.

Symbolically the imposition of will is solar (centralized flagging of posts in this case) and is said to lead back into the direction of “life”. Yet in doing so, we are imposing our values of what we think is right on others which is a form of violence that statism practices and results in control structures and tyranny. Do we just think that all of @haejin’s followers have no right to vote in the way they do in favor of his content? In this case, the problem is likely the vote itself because it’s like tying two cats tails together and expecting a reasonable compromise.

To put it another way, though it seems unfair that haejin takes such a large slice of the rewards, what is the best way to handle the situation? Should we start bringing in regulators and government? Then they hold the central position from which they can grow into parasites again while the public drifts off to sleep in their apathy. Might not the better solution be that everyone can make the same rewards as haejin instead of slapping him and his followers down?

Maybe the mistake is making public everyone’s bank account. This isn't normal in real life. It creates jealousy and even can make one a potential victim of crime through blackmail or kidnapping, etc, if one gets rich and their address can be found. On the other hand, what if the accounts of the federal reserve were public in the same way that Steemit shows them?

So maybe we could make all this voting secret with a curtain pulled behind us before we do so, but that leads to a whole new set of issues. The agnoia supports peace but doesn't prevent abuse.

The challenge is in finding the best algorithm for technical disintermediation until replicators arrive making the whole issue of money and wealth moot. Personally, I believe that both can be done, if we have enough space. There will always be those who seek to impose their control of what should and should not exist in the world. Money is just the means by which authority gives us an "allowance".

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Great article.
Bitcoin resembles the second figure, but to be fair, everyone can become a central node. Should they start to fail there will be a big incentive to provide the necessary infrastructure, and new ones will pop up.

On haejin is basically agree with you. My main point is that we are not stuck with steem. If we realise something is wrong we can develop different protocols and use these instead. So I think what haejin is doing is not healthy, but we need exploiters so we can build better systems in the future. In that sense haejin is doing us a favour in saving more work being committed to steem.

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@berniesanders and @haejin debate is very useful for the community, it shows different perspectives for Steemit. It shows the engaging of Steemians to resolve and understand the problems around the reward pool.


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