The Wizard of Oz & Crypto
🔮🏴☠️ What can the crypto world learn from The Wizard of Oz? l Smesher #007
To this very day, L. Frank Baum’s 1900 children’s novel — The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – is a captivating book — a fairy tale comprising most of the necessary elements: a wondrous world, a simple heroine, magical creatures, a fearsome being, a conflict and a happy ending.
** An aside: The Wikipedia entry on fairy tales is one of the most comprehensive and fascinating entries we’ve come across. Yet, as with all Wikipedia entries, the writers’ credits are hidden away somewhere, not earning their owners much personal gain. Keep this in mind, and we will circle back to it later.
More than a fairy tale
When the film first screened, in 1939, it was quite a wonder for both kids and adults. It is still enjoyable today, though perhaps in a more nostalgic and campy way. And it remains a source of attraction and discussion in gay and queer communities, also, but not only, because of Judy Garland, whom Barry Walters once described as “an Elvis for homosexuals – an icon who transcends music to occupy realms of sheer mythology.”
Additional marginalized groups were empowered by remakes of this work. The 1978 all-black cast of The Wiz, directed by Sidney Lumet and with a soundtrack produced by Quincy Jones, was a defining moment in the lives of black kids in America, as Gerrick D. Kennedy describes. At the time, the movie was considered a failure following the golden age of blaxploitation. But it soon became a cult-classic. If you haven’t watched it, at the very least treat yourself to this funky gem: Diana Ross and Michael Jackson performing Ease on Down the Road (song starts at 01:20).
Be that as it may, Baum never meant his book to be just a naive fairy tale. It was always intended as an allegory for that period’s American politics and economics. Baum was a very political person, as was William Wallace Denslow, the book’s illustrator, who was a full-time editorial cartoonist for a major daily newspaper.
Which is why it is no surprise that the book received many political and economical interpretations. According to some, the Yellow Brick Road represented the gold standard, while silver was represented by The Tin Man, or by Dorothy’s (originally) silver slippers. The city of Oz supposedly gained its name from the abbreviation of ounces (in which gold and silver are measured). Dorothy represented regular folk; the scarecrow – the farmers, and so on.
What about the wizard?
At the time of the book and the 1902 musical (also written by Baum, among others) it was suggested that the great wizard stood for a cunning politician or the bankers.
But in our days, many writers have suggested that a specific person was the current embodiment of The Wizard of Oz. Some named the former president of the United States – Donald Trump. Those include Margaret Atwood, J Brooks Spector, Richard North Patterson, and, less explicitly, Frank Bruni. Others, like Dave Portnoy, suggested Elon Musk.
In a piece published in The New Yorker, Salman Rushdie revisited The Wizard of Oz, saying that the film (rather than the book) was his first literary influence. Rushdie compared the wizard to his father, saying: “…it was easy for me to think, as she (Dorothy) did, that my Wizard must be a very bad man indeed. It took me half a lifetime to work out that the Great Oz’s apologia pro vita sua fitted my father equally well—that he, too, was a good man but a very bad Wizard.”
What does it have to do with crypto?
As crypto folk, we can’t escape the idea of Satoshi as the man behind the curtain. But was he (or they) “a good man and a bad wizard”? Or is it the other way around? An outstanding wizard, and an ill-intentioned man/group?
We leave it to you to decide. What we do know, is this: Crypto is a magical technology. But no more than that. It is potential. The way this potential is realized, put to use, is up to us.
We can use it to accumulate more power. We can put to use protocols that encourage fierce competition and a race to great riches. But by doing so, we are no different, and certainly no better, than the people behind the economic system which inspired Baum to write The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the first place.
However, if the privileged among us are able to imagine forgoing a certain portion of our assets and power for the sake of a greater good (the same way Wikipedia writers do), then we can fulfill crypto's full magical and transformative potential.
We can do this by designing protocols that encourage collaboration and a fair distribution of wealth, rather than a winner-takes-all design. Then we as humans – and moreover as humanity – might just get our happy ending over the rainbow.
Do you agree? Disagree?
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We made this Wizard of Oz playlist for you. Don’t just listen; read the names of the tracks, they too tell a story.