Brouillé (adj) is a French term referring to something that’s scrambled, blurred, or otherwise in disagreement.i The verb débrouillé, therefore, means to undo this fuzziness, to bring clarity and resolve to a situation. This activity is accomplished by the débrouillard, the noun describing the fellow, notable for his resourcefulness, who does the unblurring or untangling.
If the the top-down socialist economies of the world need anything at all right now – scrambled as they are by environmental pollution, social unrest, and completely bonkers asset prices – it’s exactly this: un-fucking-tangling.
Specifically, the role of government in the economy and in the production of money desperately needs to be teased apart. There’s nothing natural, good, or right about these relationships, regardless of the rhetoric spouted off by those from whom you’d expect nothing less given their incentives. On the contrary, such systems are historically unusual and entirely ephemeral when they do take hold if for no other reason than their patent potential for destruction. Only when the unholy union of state, money, and economy is unwound does humanity see the greatness of human potential. Only unyoked from naive and bureaucratic interventionism can people breathe, think, and create anything of value.
While governments aren’t about to go gentle into that good night,ii nor can they stem the inevitable rise of Système D any more than they can stem the inevitable rise of Bitcoin.
Système D, a slang term used in former French colonies, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean, is shorthand for L’économie de la Débrouillardise. This is the unregulated, unfettered, and entirely bottom-up economy. It’s the do-it-yourself economy, the improv economy, call it what you will, it’s the economy of the self-reliant entrepreneur. It’s also fair to say that it’s probably the largest economy on the planet, estimated to be worth some $10 TRILLION,iii and almost surely larger than that.
With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa’s most populous country. It wasn’t a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country’s electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle’s brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce. David’s deal, struck four years ago, was not massive — but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.
Notice the complete lack of foreign aid that David Obi received,v the lack of magic bullets he used, the lack of crowdfunding and the lack of World Vision rape depicting half-starved kids covered in flesh-eating flies. And still, we have a heart-warming case of incentives and skills giving way to market-driven services. Wow!
Even better than this one anecdotal example is that the OECD estimates that fully half the workers on the globe are already participating in Système D, meaning that the billions of people you thought were in “developing countries” and therefore so desperately in need of your hand-outs, aren’t “lagging behind” but are in fact the exact opposite: they’re way ahead, they’re showing the Western Worldvi how beautifully economies sans central planning braindamage work.
Seeing as how Bitcoin is here and here to stay, and seeing as how Bitcoin will débrouille the whole state-sponsored welfare scam, it’s in your interest, as the Western reader, to wrap your head around Système D. Study it, stew in it, travel to a country where it exists and see it for yourself. It’s the closest you’ll come to a crystal ball.
You see, Système D is just the local version of Bitcoin. They both require the same types of thinking,vii the same skills,viii and reward their participants in the same way.ix Bitcoin is just Système D International, or Système DI, if you will.
However, while Système DI shares many of the same characteristics as Système D, the former’s lack of physicality gives it a marked advantage. As if stopping the tide from coming in wasn’t hard enough, now large nations states are trying to defend their sandcastle against the clouds.
It’s raining, it’s pouring…
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- The noun is simply brouille, meaning “quarrel.” [↩]
- Rightly so, we’d learn absolutely fuck all if they just lay on their backs and spread their legs for La Serenissima. It’s better for everyone if they put up a bit of a fight. It’s more interesting and more memorable, at the very least. [↩]
- While there are at least two economies that claim to be larger than this, can anyone honestly say, absolutely deadpan, that China has an economy valued at $17.6 tn and that Bezzlestan is in a close second with an economy valued at $17.4 tn?? These numbers are so cooked that they’re beyond meaningless. I mean, Stalin’s command economy made a lot of shoes, right? So what if they were all size 7. [↩]
- Granted, Système D is only a “phenomenon” if you took post-secondary economics courses at one of the Soviet-Harvard-type institutions and swallowed it whole. Y’know, like Brandon Morin. [↩]
- Foreign aid, at least in Africa, is really a perverse cocktail of opening new markets to Western multinationals, purchasing one’s ticket to heaven, and, by providing optimal stock “solutions”, generally ensuring that nothing of import ever emerges from that woebegone continent. [↩]
- Including China, South Korea, and Japan. [↩]
- Thinking inclined towards entrepreneurialism, self-reliance, and skepticism. [↩]
- Skills such as improv, flexibility, and adaptability. [↩]
- Rewards such as positive reputation, profit, and legacy. [↩]