Day 40: Different worlds.
Tuesday 11 January 2022

We are invited to a birthday party. The wife of a friend we met here in Santa Ana is being celebrated. We arrive in the early afternoon. The house of our friends is a beautiful elegant villa, with the inevitable high wall protected by barbed wire, a beautiful manicured garden and a very crowded pool that is the heart of the party.

We introduced ourselves to the other guests, were immediately offered a beer and began to wander among the various groups of people. We are the only foreigners except for an American, but he is a close friend of our host, speaks perfect Spanish and often visits El Salvador. We are clearly surrounded by what we might call the local upper middle class. There are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs. Many of them also speak English, they are people used to traveling, some of them work in the import/export of products with the United States.

The company is particularly rowdy. The party started long before we arrived, presumably in the morning, and the alcohol level is already quite high. Needless to say, we are the main attraction and many people come to try to understand what the hell are two Italians doing in Santa Ana in early January. As we begin to tell the story we witness a scene that we have already seen and documented many times on this trip of ours. Our audience becomes polarized. Immediately.

We can’t call ourselves experts on local politics, but we have tried to study it as much as possible in preparation for this adventure and all these days spent on site have given us the opportunity to observe on the ground the individual orientations of the various social classes. In the environment in which we find ourselves, Bukele is not loved, on the contrary. He is an enemy to be put down. The party he founded, Nueva Ideas, can be loosely likened to our Movimento 5 Stelle and proposed a new ruling class compared to the country’s two traditional political blocs, one Left and the other Right. They can be considered populists, with very young members and candidates and a very modern way of communicating, son of social media culture rather than traditional government science. Similar to our Grillini, they are quite popular among the middle and lower classes, but hated by the intelligentsia. 

Despite being surrounded by the most educated people we’ve probably talked to in weeks, the bias is evident and the deep misconception as well. To them Bitcoin is Bukele and Bukele is Bitcoin. Immediately, as we begin to recount what we have come to do, the jokes become sharp and the comments lash out and ironic.

We are not intimidated by this at all, quite the contrary. We have broad shoulders and are very interested in further probing this social sample. A minority in the country, with whom we have therefore had less direct experience.

The thing that is immediately apparent is total ignorance. Crass. It always strikes me. The stupidity of cheering. If the opposing team makes a proposal, it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad. Whether it might be beneficial or even salvific. It is opposed regardless because it comes from the opponents. Have I mentioned that the bug is the man?

None of the people in front of us had any idea of the basics of Bitcoin. The ABC’s. A somewhat portly man approaches quite hot tempered, for example. He claims that the president chose bitcoins because that way he can print as many as he wants, and that this is so true that there’s evidence that he’s already doing it. There is a geothermal power plant that prints bitcoin in El Salvador, he tells me, they call these places mining farms. When I tell him that I’ve been there and that no one controls bitcoin and no one can mint any bitcoin at will, but that the number is set by protocol at 21 million units he looks at me incredulous and a little ruby. He asks me to repeat several times. He just doesn’t want to believe it. When he asks me who gives me the assurance that no more can be created and I tell him “the protocol” he is almost offended.

There is a great deal of confusion among his companions, crowded around the edges of the pool. Someone says that he has heard that it will be Shiba Inu to change the world and that we should buy that. Someone shouts Ethereum, mispronouncing it. The general impression is that this social split is actually very comfortable with the dollar. When we talk about inflation and the nefarious control of central banks over the currency, we are told that in El Salvador inflation is not felt. They are all people in their fifties and they remember the Colon well, how much waste paper it was. They claim that here, at the market, with one dollar today you can buy exactly the same amount of tomatoes as twenty years ago. There is little point in my objection that this is not exactly statistical. And when I point out that the secondary economic markets, the poorer ones, generally suffer inflation with a delay compared to the main ones, but when it finally arrives they are hit much harder, given the primary needs they satisfy with currency, I receive only incredulity.

There is general dissatisfaction with the economic condition of the country and the tax burden, all on the shoulders of the wealthier classes. Here they feel they are the only part of the country continually squeezed because of their own privilege. The one that pays to support the poorer classes. Yet there is no desire to get out of this economic system by taking advantage of a new idea that can generate profits for El Salvador. Accumulating Bitcoin means being able to take advantage of the returns of such an investment in the near future, liquidity that could be used to revive a different economy and relieve the tax burden. But it doesn’t matter. Because it is an idea that comes from those who represent the opposing social class.

The more I talk to human beings, the more I realize that the only hope we have of surviving the systematic overpopulation of our planet is to rely on a new form of consensus. A decision-maker who takes into account all positions without having his own. To something simply capable of being super partes, because it has no children to protect, no professions to defend, no privileges to preserve. 

We’re ready for software. We’re ready for robots.