HIVE and STEEM — Freedom and Necessity

in OCD9 days ago

HIVE and STEEM — Freedom and Necessity

writing and images by @d-pend


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I recently completed Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's excellent translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, a hefty tome clocking in at 1200 pages. Called a classic novel of Russian literature, its creator disagrees—saying that it is "not a novel, still less an epic poem, still less a historical chronicle. War and Peace is what the author wanted and was able to express, in the form in which it is expressed." (That's just about the best disclaimer for a piece of writing I've ever seen.)

In the epilogue, there is a series of essays on freedom and necessity, which is a continuous thread throughout the book. Though the concept is explored from a thousand subtle angles, it boils down to this—At no point in time can human beings conceive of themselves as either wholly free, or wholly constrained by the necessity of circumstance. That is, despite one's philosophical leanings on the subject of free will, no one in all earnestness can picture themselves either a completely will-less automaton, nor an entirely free agent defying all cosmic laws.


Freedom vs. Necessity

The closer one is in time to an action taking place, the more it appears to be the consequence of free action, while the further away it regresses, the more it appears inevitable. It is clear to me that I can stop writing this article at any time. At the same time, to stop arbitrarily would be predicated on my thinking about freedom and necessity and an attempt to prove my freedom. The concept I am entertaining that encourages my actions is necessarily causing me to either write or not to write, and thus I appear to be deprived of my freedom again; I function as an instrument of fate.

In such a way he explored this paradox, with many examples, especially as it pertains to the writing of historical events. For example, if today Napoleon declares war on Russia, it will appear to most that he acts freely, and surely could have not declared war. Once two hundred years pass, the opposite appears to be the case, and everyone will say that he had no choice but to declare war. All world events occurring since that time depend on his initial declaring of war and invasion of Russia, so it is nearly impossible to conceive of its nonoccurence.

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Why not apply this to the recent splitting of HIVE from STEEM? At present, it still appears that witnesses were free to deploy or not deploy a soft fork; it appears that Justin Sun was free to interfere or not interfere in governance, and most of all (because most recent) it still appears that the community could have forked or not forked to HIVE.

The more distant we get from these events, the more they will be seen to be inevitable, and they will be expounded by historians as such (with great pomp and circumstance, no less) focusing on the consequences of the events. The artist, in contrast, focuses less on consequences and more on the events themselves and how individual characters participated in them (more specifically, how the artist imagines them to have participated.) Both dramatize and distort the events that occurred in reality.

The historian will say—it was inevitable that HIVE split from STEEM; it was caused by Justin Sun; it was caused by witnesses; it was caused by the community sentiment. It was caused by prevailing world conditions; it was caused by Steemit, Inc.'s mismanagement of funds; it was caused by the bear market; it was caused by the preceding bull market. And so on. Eventually they will arrive at the ninjamined stake and conclude it was necessary from the beginning of STEEM's birth.

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Countries vs. Blockchains

When Napoleon conquers Moscow, at no point can someone else rule Moscow simultaneously with the French. Only once the French army leaves the city to retreat can Russian rule be restored to the city. In contrast to physical war, blockchain technology gives a different option to a besieged "digital nation." At any point in time, for any reason whatsoever, anyone can run any version of any software they would like on their own computer. Participation in any blockchain is strictly voluntary and provides the maximum degree of freedom possible that we have been able to devise thus far.

So, when Justin Sun 'conquers' STEEM, anyone can make a copy of STEEM with any modifications they would like. Thus, it is not necessary to wait for the Tron Army to retreat before re-establishing community rule to the digital nation-state. To be clear, these are metaphors, and blockchains are not places or names. However, metaphors help people to begin to grasp novel concepts by comparing what is not yet understood to that which is familiar.

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Life itself is paradoxical; in order to enjoy our existence, a healthy degree of accepting the constraints of physicality is required. Simultaneously, we can affirm our freedom by being attentive to the impulses that continually course through us in the moment that lead us to act. Awareness of reality brings joy; lack of awareness obscures that joy.

All questions of this-versus-that such as "Freedom vs. Necessity" can be transcended mentally by the realization that one one level, Freedom is true and Necessity false; on another, Necessity true and Freedom false. On still another, both Freedom and Necessity are simultaneously, paradoxically true. Still again, both Freedom and Necessity are false concepts obscuring Truth. This four-step process can be applied to any dichotomous conceptualization to free oneself from the shackles of the reductionist intellect.

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I am indebted to Tolstoy's War and Peace for enabling this discussion, along with his translators Pevear and Volokhonsky so that an anglophone could enjoy it. I am endlessly grateful to all whose lives intersect and impact my own, which in the final measurement, extends to all beings everywhere throughout all time and space.

Thank you for reading!
This post is original content created by me
to be published to blockchain on March 24, 2020.

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I read War and Peace 26 years ago. After reading it, I wished that I knew Denisov in real life.

People should not be put off by the length. They should read it.

After reading it, I wished that I knew Denisov in real life.

Yeah, he's quite the character! In fact, Tolstoy was great at creating memorable characters. Pierre was one of my favorites.

People should not be put off by the length. They should read it.

I completely agree. It can get slow at times with some of the essays and details about movements of armies, and it's true there are a lot of characters to keep up with, but it's very much worth reading.

Congratulations for the clarity of the exposure and I, too, who am not an English speaker, have perfectly understood the concept of necessity and freedom, which seems to travel together even when they are in antithesis.
Like human ties between people of different ideas and behaviors but who make the same journey until they are documented by someone else.

wish i could upvote this twice; eloquent and insightful!

I'm grateful for your readership and kind comment @genluci :-)

Wow! 1200 pages. That book is a long read.

Great comparison @d-pend with the current situation. 🙂

Yep, I tend to read quickly but it still took a while to get through! As @preparedwombat opined, people shouldn't be intimidated by the length. It's a great read. :-)


Great article and great analogy.


Thanks Quill! You ever read War and Peace?

I've picked this book up several times and put it down. I don't find the same familiarity that I feel when reading Dostoevsky. It is definitely a book that is best read on the printed edition not e-book.

I believe that was the time in history my ancestors fled to America, but still I never clicked with the book. I'm glad you got a lot out of it. Patience is the key to those older books.

I think I have finished talking about the break from Steem to Hive. It makes sense. Let's move on.