I have spent many years of my life trying to move to America so that I could benefit from the opportunities out here. It is incredibly complicated and fraught with obstacles. I can safely say that to do so on your own steam is financially excruciating and, at times, soul crushingly complicated.
However, it is nowhere near as challenging as it used to be. After all, people used to sail in boats and sleep in sodden tents to make it over here. The people who came to America for a better life would often lose it in the process. By comparison, a few dozens pages of visa administration seems relatively painless.
However, I have to acknowledge that the American Dream is not easily accessible to the vast majority of the world. As a single man with no children, I could focus on moving over here. The time I had to throw at the problem was an asset that not many are blessed with.
The American Dream is this fascinating pinnacle ideal of what capitalism could do for society: if you are willing to work hard, you should be able to have your dream life.
It does exist, but it is a lot more elusive than most people think. Most Americans feel they are living in an American Nightmare so that a vanishingly small number can live in blissful paradise.
My observation is that America is the full buffet of capitalism—from its best aspects to its worst. In the UK, you have a great safety net when you fall off the track. However, you also have an anaemic startup sector that has still failed to make a significant number of young, London-based technologists any meaningful amount of money. There are trade-offs to everything. America dials capitalism to 11—for better and for worse.
To me, an Etherean is a person who transacts with the Ethereum protocol. The cost of accessing the system is baked into every transaction in the form of gas. When you know how to use Ethereum and its virtual machine (EVM), you feel like you have superpowers.
I want to make the case that a new dream is emerging: The Etherean Dream
The dream of everyone I know in the Ethereum community who cares about humanity is something like this: build an empowering protocol for the people. We are trying to create technologies that allow people to access the kinds of property rights many of us have enjoyed since childbirth.
Here are some high-level comparisons between the two dream states:
Etherean : American
Ethereum : America
Ether : Dollar
Node : Court
Code : Law
Gas : Tax
ETH : USD
DAO : LLC
NFT : MP3
POS : MAD
.ETH : .COM
ERC20 : NYSE
Community : Country
Protocol : Constitution
Every technology, money, culture & society is competing. The Romans dominated for some time and then their culture collapsed. The vikings marauded Europe and then petered out.
Monarchies and fiefdoms controlled the people and then they were overthrown. Cultural churn is a natural part of the cycle. Humans are constantly experimenting and enforcing new ideas upon one another. These ideas cut across physical lines in the form of countries, religious lines in the form of beliefs, and political lines in the form of violence.
American Dream: The western liberal democracy with rule of law and fair capitalism as the engine of growth.
So far that is the winning system—American dollars dominate the planet. American culture permeates the world. But it could lose and die off. Cultures are just ideas among people. It is fascinating to see which ones will ascend and which will fall.
My gut tells me we are starting to align around algorithms over nations. Humans are being drawn to digital structures on the internet over physical structures in real life.
I identify as an Etherean over a Briton. I care more about my protocol than I do about my home country. Governance decisions made by the Ethereum community matter far more to me than the British ballot box.
I think this trend will continue as more people start to find financial freedom from protocols. Some day, more people could be employed by protocols, DAOs and dapps than companies, governments and international organisations. That shift will reframe how we think about the governance of everything—physical and digital.
If you want to have a shot at The American Dream, you need to get a visa, a job, and some dollars. If you want to have a shot at The Etherean Dream, you need to get a wallet, an internet connection, and some Ether.
Ethereum’s Virtual Machine (EVM) has permeated across many other systems. Protocols with different sets of trade-off’s have absorbed it as a standard which makes it easier for people to explore other areas of opportunity. Just as a US passport gives you access to many countries. An Ethereum wallet gives you access to many protocols.
We need to make it easier for anyone on the planet to navigate this bewildering set of opportunities. A lot of people have access to a mobile device and the internet now. Onboarding them into affordable and usable parts of the Ethereum ecosystem is going to be a multi-decade mission which we should all embrace.
The mission we are on is really clear to me now. A small set of us are living the Etherean Dream. We have a responsibility to help as many other people in the world do the same. We must create fantastic products that reveal the superpowers of the protocols to as many people as possible.
Like the protocols beneath them, these products must be open source and forkable by all. If anyone severely disagrees with anyone else, they must be free to express themselves peacefully in a new project. This is the way.
The Etherean Dream is real. We just need to make it more accessible for the people.