**The Importance of Decentralization in Technology**
From women’s suffrage to civil rights, social movements have historically grown from the bottom up. However, there seems to be a trend among progressive allies to devalue decentralization in the technology space. This article explores the importance of decentralization in technology and its relevance to progressive goals.
**Questioning the Progressive Distaste for Decentralization**
Many progressive commentators have criticized the idea of decentralization, seeing it as a distraction from other political goals. This has led to the progressive community targeting crypto and aligning with big banks. However, decentralizing technology proves crucial in preventing the concentration of power in the hands of a few unelected technologists.
**Challenging Legacy Tech Platforms**
Legacy tech platforms pose a significant concern due to their control over user data. Decentralizing technology is essential in ensuring that the control and ownership of data are distributed among the public rather than being monopolized by a few corporations.
**The Progressive Appeal of Crypto and Decentralization**
Progressives are drawn to the crypto space because it operates on blockchain, a technology that cannot be controlled by a single entity. This aligns with the progressive vision of empowering people and promoting civil rights and civil liberties in a decentralized world.
**The Rise of Technological Inequality**
Inequality around the world has spiked in recent decades, with technological change benefiting a handful of giant firms. The internet, once a realm of opportunity, has become dominated by corporate walled gardens that are challenging to escape. Users often feel compelled to return to social media networks due to their vast user base or because their content remains the property of these digital feudal lords.
**The Synergy Between Political Action and Decentralized Technology**
Political action and decentralized technology are not oppositional, but rather complementary. Political action is necessary to regulate and rein in giant firms, while decentralized technology creates competition without reproducing the same concentration of power.
**Transparency and Control Through Blockchain**
Decentralization, at its core, offers a public, permissionless ledger that no single person or entity owns. Blockchain enables the secure tracking of information, allowing individuals to own and control their data while having the freedom to transfer it to other systems. This decentralized approach also facilitates peer-to-peer exchanges of data and money, reducing reliance on costly intermediaries.
**Use Cases for Decentralization**
Decentralization has real-world applications, such as supporting urgent causes like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Crypto provided a rapid response by delivering direct financial aid that could not be seized by Russian authorities. Additionally, blockchain is being used to document war crimes, ensuring tamper-proof evidence for future hearings. Decentralization also benefits individuals excluded from formal financial systems, providing transparent fund flows without incurring excessive intermediary fees.
Centralization may seem appealing as a means to steer actors toward the common good, but history shows that absolute power corrupts. A decentralized approach empowers diverse actors and fosters an economy where stability and fairness can be preserved for all. By creating an infrastructure that prevents the rise of new tech monopolies, decentralization paves the way for a more democratic and inclusive society.
**Supporting Systemic Change Through Empowerment**
Rather than relying on the few to bring about change, it is essential to support systems that empower the many. The Web3 movement embodies this ideal, striving to create a future where decentralized technology enables individuals to effect meaningful change. It is crucial for progressives to embrace this path forward rather than suppressing it through misunderstanding or misalignment.
_(Sheila Warren is the CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation, and Justin Slaughter is the policy director at Paradigm. The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.)_