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On collective consciousness and the potential for liberation.

“I want you to remember that most things are an invention”. 

Lola Olufemi, Black feminist writer 

Over the last few years, the collective consciousness has risen.

Some might call this the “woke agenda”, which, hilariously — is not actually that far wrong. Unlike the recent smear campaign against the word, being woke simply means being awake to the realities of the world.

<<<Stay woke. Stay alert. Stay aware>>> 

For the majority of people on Earth, an increase in collective consciousness is a good thing.

We’re coming to understand that the systems that we live in are not broken, they are operating by design to make us sick, sad, isolated and lost. Our symptoms are a feature, not a bug. My own consciousness has raised (and my personhood radicalised) over time, and with hindsight, I see 2020 as the catalyst. 

When the world came to a standstill, so many things shifted.

Some of us had more time to think and sit with our lives and ask ourselves – if this is it, are we happy? Some of us lost a lot. Places. People. And when the world started to move again, the celebrated ‘essential workers’ went back to the people who pumped your gas and packed your bags, and the pandemic was put in the rearview mirror as we had to start worrying about the really important things - the economy, of course.

For me, 2020 was a year of personal transformation and discovery. Already a few years into my ~healing journey~, I came out as gay, discovered I was neurodivergent and moved across the world to be with a girl I fell in love with after she found me on TikTok.

I changed a lot, but certain things about me remained the same. I still cared a lot about what people thought of me. I constantly searched for external markers of success to validate my existence, whether it be follower count or my job title. And I still had that working-class chip on my shoulder, the one that fuelled me to do more, be more, and never get too comfortable.

By 2022, that fuel began to run out. I had hit complete burnout, helped along by a toxic workplace and 28 years of masking my aforementioned neurodivergence. I decided to quit my marketing career, choosing to “no longer be a cog in the machine”... and then I became a full-time creator and consultant :: which meant of course I merely plugged myself into a differently shaped machine.

That same year I discovered web3. Or I should say, I was begrudgingly onboarded by my now-wife. I saw crypto and NFTs as a place where “rich dudes got richer”... And lowkey, I wasn’t wrong. However, the more I learned about the underlying ethos of decentralisation, the more I saw The Potential. Without middlemen, couldn't we, the people, build new systems? Ones that are equitable, fair and just? 

A sort of utopia began to form in my brain, one where the working class, marginalised folks of all kinds, creatives and culture-makers were centred and compensated. A few short months into the space, we hit a bear market, and I saw many of the value-aligned people leave the space to prioritise surviving. As the Care Manifesto states, “When our very sense of security and comfort is so fragile, it becomes harder to care for ourselves, let alone others”. 

A lot of the people who remained seemed content to uphold the status quo. Why rebuild the system when it’s working for them? Despite this disappointment, I felt called to stay in web3 and tinker, learn and observe. 

Then something happened that I believe shifted the world's consciousness to another level. We began to bear witness to the genocide of the Palestinian people, live-streamed in 4K onto our phones. As a millennial, this isn’t the first war, or genocide that has happened in my lifetime, so why was this one different? I believe it was the stories, told by Gazans on the ground, speaking in perfect English [that last part shouldn’t matter, but undeniably helped Westerners to relate and empathise].

Through these storytellers, we learn about Gaza. We learn about the Nakba in 1948. We see the bodies under the rubble. We take to the streets. We write to our officials. We donate money. We know, deep in our marrow, that this is wrong, and must be stopped. But no matter what we do, the official channels we take, the boycotts we participate in, we are not being heard. Or even worse – they hear us perfectly, but we are being ignored. 

The cognitive dissonance feels like whiplash.

Unknowingly, we are participating in the “Safety Valve theory” - a term coined by radical figures in India, including Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal.

”The Safety Valve Theory is an economic concept suggesting that periodic release or “venting” of social and economic pressures can prevent the eruption of widespread discontent or unrest. It posits that providing opportunities for people to release their frustrations, such as through migration or social mobility, can help maintain stability in society.”

Stability in society = maintaining the current systems. But as we now know, these systems are not built for us to thrive. They are built for the power and wealth to be amassed at the top.

While the rest of us scuttle and scurry to get to the top, like crabs in a bucket. As my friend and writer Joy Donnell would say, the problem isn’t that we’re crabs. It’s that crabs shouldn’t be in a bucket in the first place. The bucket being, late-stage capitalism fuelled by rampant individualism (amongst many other ‘isms’).

Now our collective consciousness has risen and we’re aware of the bucket we are trapped in, how do we take steps towards getting free? And what does that vision for a higher future look like? Employing radical imagination when we dream of the future is so imperative.

As historian and academic Robin D.G. Kelley says, “Without new visions, we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down.”

I began to get inspired again by the underlying ethos of web3. Beyond rich dudes getting richer. Decentralisation. Coordination. What if web3 could be an unlock for our collective liberation? And what, specifically, could this look like?

It was around this time I tweeted this ↑ into the ether. And in the last four months, I’ve organised my thoughts to better speak about the how.

So let’s dream a little. In the next section, I provide some examples and inspiration of what this higher future might include.

Bite-sized snacks for liberation. Take what you need. 

Solidarity Economies

The Boston Ujima Project is a democratic, member-run organisation with a mission to return wealth to working-class communities of colour. Through a community capital fund, they organise and invest in local businesses and agree to community standards. Each member has one vote, no matter how much they invest. The Project’s foundation is in a concept of Solidarity Economies, which can be described as “a set of cooperative economic practices that include worker, food, financial, and housing cooperatives”. 

For anyone with an understanding of web3, it wouldn’t take a stretch to see how solidarity economies could be proliferated seamlessly with the blockchain:

  • A community treasury that is transparent on an open ledger

  • NFT’s issued to each member for voting

  • smart contracts that automatically execute passed proposals

It’s giving very much DAO.

But beyond the organisational aspect, solidarity economies can also speak to creative communities and collectives, joining together under a headless brand (like $Higher or $Crash), contributing their skills, knowledge and experience to be a part of something bigger – while being rewarded for their contributions with a native token. This is the meta for memecoins this season, and as a participant myself it’s impressive to see just how tokens become a vehicle for value capture and distribution. 

Imagine if these missions and movements grew larger, more revolutionary? What if for-good, impact groups could leverage the memetic nature and the speculation that drives these mechanisms? Shifting our mindsets from competitive individualism to abundant collectivism. There is more than enough for us all. What new levels of creativity, innovation and joy could be brought forward once all of our base levels are met?

Ancient Blackfoot knowledge (Maslow’s inspiration for his Hierarchy of Needs) flipped the pyramid on its head to become a tipi. At the base: self-actualisation. Then, community actualisation. And finally, cultural perpetuity. Blackfoot believed all base needs for an individual would be inherently met by the tribe – thus not having to include it on the tipi at all.  This is solidarity economies in practice.

Mutual Aid

Another natural use case for crypto and blockchain is mutual aid. Theoretically, anyone in the world can create a crypto wallet to buy and receive funds, a major unlock for many in the Global South. The best recent example I’ve seen of blockchain-based mutual aid is ETH Evacuations, founded by Kat (katalunia.eth). 

In just 4 weeks at the time of writing, Kat has raised over $200K which has supported 5 Palestinian families GoFundMe’s – helping to evacuate them out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Donors from across the world (including myself) have chipped in, sending ETH, USDC, and even using their $DEGEN Tips (a token used for tipping quality content on Warpcast, a decentralised social media app) to contribute to the cause.

Solidarity is the backbone of mutual aid. As musician Yuri Rybak recently said in response to Vitalik Buterin’s piece on ‘Degen Communism’ – “Solidarity over charity. (We should prioritise) individuals providing mutual aid and sending resources directly to comrades doing the work’. 

Imagine mutual aid networks growing and expanding like mycelium networks across the globe. Where humans can coordinate and pool their resources to support each other, whether escaping genocide, houselessness or surviving a cost of living crisis. In a world that centres mutual aid, we need the financial rails to support and transport this care. With all our base levels met by solidarity economies above, imagine the level of care we could provide for our friends, family, community?

Archiving Onchain

The genocide in Palestine has not just been on the people themselves, but the very fabric of their culture. A few months ago, the Central Archives of Gaza (which contained 150 years of records pertaining to Gaza's history) was destroyed. Soon after, the Great Omari Mosque (which contained one of the most significant collections of rare books in Palestine), and at least 13 different libraries were badly damaged or destroyed.

Off the ground, many Palestinian content creators have had their content suppressed and removed, with some being completely banned from social media networks. Finally, with the potential TikTok ban in the US, access to journalism and community organisations will be restricted.

A few months ago I saw someone on TikTok make a plea for us all who are bearing witness, to start screen recording and archiving the stories, and news. I replied to the video, saying yes – we absolutely should, and has anyone considered archiving onchain as the perfect way to do this? Blockchains are permissionless and immutable. A sound tool to use for both documenting happenings and archiving culture. 

Storyteller Ibraheem Leone is already doing just that. Through his project The Tapestry, Ibraheem travelled back to his homeland in Sierra Leone to capture and record oral histories that might someday be lost, which are now stored forever on the blockchain.

Imagine a future where historic texts, stories, legends, and culture are stored, attributed and revered forevermore. This is especially important for Indigenous folks across the globe, whose contribution to society and oftentimes, very existence is attempted to be minimised or wiped out - like the Stolen Generation of Indigenous Australians, the longest-living civilisation on earth.

With Indigenous histories archived onchain, everyone on Earth knows who they are, and how they came to be. A sense of belonging. A sense of purpose.

Supported by the Stars?

You might be thinking, this is too much. How can we actually get there? The empire is too strong, too embedded, and too ingrained. I feel the weight of it, too. And yet, might liberation be not written, but supported by the stars?

Allow me to provide you with an astrological download. Even if you’re not woo-woo like that, at least humour me a moment.

On the 20th of January 2024, Pluto (the planet of power and transformation) went into Aquarius (the sign associated with rebellion, freedom and innovation). As Jessica Lanyadoo, a noted astrologer says, “The potential is that we will see revolutions occur at a level we've never seen it before”. And she might be onto something, because the last time Pluto was in Aquarius was back in 1778 to 1798, a time of the French Revolution and Irish Uprising. 

Lanyadoo goes on to state that “we can get free during a Pluto transition through Aquarius. Free from colonialism, white supremacy, and the oppression of trans and gender non-conforming people."

“But it is not going to happen on its own, and it will not be easy. It will take mass community efforts. We don't have to do it all on day 1.”

Carceral vs Radical Logic

I want to leave you with the words of Ismatu Gwendolyn, a budding abolitionist and writer. Ismatu talks about the difference between carceral and radical logic.

Carceral logic tells us “somewhere else, away from me.” It tells us, we’re too small to make a difference. Too insignificant. Too powerless. That our actions won't amount to anything, and that we shouldn’t even try. 

In comparison, radical logic tells us that every small aligned action – with coordination and courage –  can bring us closer to change.

Radical logic tells us that imagining a higher future is the first step to building a higher future.

The tools for collective liberation might be at our fingertips.

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