Throughout history much of the world has been ruled by empires. All Empires at their climax used their mints and currencies to impose them on their colonies and, sometimes, the rest of the world leading them to become universal, or reserve, currencies. Aside from their leadership model, the only other thing they all have in common is that each of them eventually discontinued.

The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history, as well as the longest-lived modern European colonial empire. The Portuguese empire began with the capture of Ceuta in 1415 and ended in 1999 with the handover of Macau to China. The empire’s most valuable colony, Brazil, won its independence in 1822.

The Spanish Empire covered almost 8 million square miles of land – more than 13% of the earth’s surface. The empire had 68.2 million people between 1740 and 1790 – about 12% of the world’s population. Spain’s empire began in the days of Columbus and lasted, in parts of Africa, until the latter 20th century. Spanish is now the second most spoken language in the world.

However, arguably the most progressive in terms of making remote nations more civilized and technologically advanced was the British empire. The British Empire was created in 1497 and formally existed until 1997 (exactly 500 years), until the return of its last pillar, Hong Kong, to China’s jurisdiction. In addition to England, the British Empire included 69 countries, including Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Qatar.

The British Empire was the largest power in human history. During its heyday, the British controlled 22% of the earth’s surface and united a quarter of the world’s population. Great Britain was the first to start the process of industrialization, and in the 19th-20th centuries it was a superpower and could interfere in the affairs of the whole world.

At the end of the XVI century, Britain was substantially behind Spain, France and Portugal in colonial development, and behind Holland in trade and finance. For a long time, the British could not even unite their islands under one flag, and the development of new lands was out of the question. Nevertheless, already in the XVIII century, Britain seized the initiative from the Western powers and became the world’s leader.

At the end of the XIX century, when the world was actually divided between the large metropolises, the United Kingdom had already become the main industrial monopolist: in the “workshop of the world”, as Britain was dubbed, where a good third of the world’s industrial output was produced. Such sectors of the British economy as metal mining, mechanical engineering and shipbuilding were its hallmarks in terms of global production. At high rates of economic growth, the domestic market was oversaturated and was looking for profitable ways to expand outside not only the Kingdom, but also Europe. Products and capital from the British Isles were actively flowing into the colonies. An important role in the success of England as a colonial empire was played by the high level of technology, which the British economy has always firmly adhered to. Various innovations – from the invention of spinning machines (1769) to the establishment of the transatlantic telegraph communication (1858) – put Britain one step ahead of the competition and deserved paying tribute from both its allies and its enemies.

The effectiveness of British governance was demonstrated during the construction of the Suez Canal. With a controlling stake in a canal that shortcut the route to India and East Africa by 10,000 kilometers, the British have spared no expense in investing in the Egyptian economy. In India, the majority of that country’s railway system is still enjoying its full operability the way it was under the Queen’s protectorate.

As a result, The United Kingdom’s pound sterling was the world’s dominating reserve currency in the XIX century and first half of the XX century. In the 1950s 55% of global reserves were still held in sterling; but the share was 10% lower within the following 20 years.

The XX century international economy – or at least the international economy of the second half of the century, following a turbulent and unsettled first half – was then organized around the U.S. dollar and dominated by the United States. The dollar played a crucial role in the post-World War II Bretton Woods System, under which the greenback was pegged to gold but other currencies were pegged to the dollar, either de facto or de jure.

The first U.S. dollar, as it is known today, was printed in 1914 upon the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank. During World War II, the U.S. supplied the Allies and got paid in gold propelling the U.S. to the largest holder of gold. After the war, countries pegged their weakened currencies to the dollar, which was linked to gold. The gold standard ended, but the dollar’s reserve status remained.

However, unlike the British, Americans explicitly refrained from building their own colonial empire, substituting it with helping world nations transfer their governances and political systems to portray the one, on premises of which the great American democracy and constitution was built almost two and a half centuries ago. The argument here is that the current events (or, at least, the way they unfolded) in Afghanistan take their roots from rising insurgence and elevation of general unrest in the Arab and Moslem world roughly a decade ago. The Arab Spring was a wave of protests and uprisings that took place in the Arab world in early 2011. The first prerequisites were noted back in 2010, when several emerging countries heavily reliant on the U.S. development grants didn’t receive their scheduled funds due to legislative cuts of foreign aid programs by the U.S. Congress in response to austerity caused by the mortgage and banking crisis of 2008. There have been revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen; civil wars in Libya (led to a change of government) and in Syria (ongoing); a civil uprising in Bahrain; massive protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Oman; and less significant protests in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Djibouti and Western Sahara.

No one predicted that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces would collapse so quickly. But the real lesson apart from endless fingerpointing and seeking who the one to blame is sits in the rising evidence that, perhaps, democracies don’t work in many countries the way they were supposed to. The U.S. global authority has been always backed by the premise of sufficiency of democratization for improving people’s well being.

There was a sincere and honest postulate, that democratizations alone lead to prosperity – well, at least, to the decrease of poverty. Reality suggests that it may not necessarily be true. In fact, it may appear that democratization has nothing to do with personal wealth or even literacy. One of Winston Churchill’s famous quotes was that democracy is the worst form of government except for all others. Indeed, democracy allows using human capital in the most efficient way simultaneously preserving fertile soils for innovation and progress. So, as impoverished nations evidently tend to discard democratic institutions, in order to safeguard democracy the way it was pronounced by Churchill – a separate paradigm of attainability of personal well-being and prosperity must be developed, and time for this endeavor is quickly running out.

So it’s a classic fish and rod dilemma. Since presently no-one doubts the fact that there are no more fish samplers left for the third world, there is a serious motivation question. In this dire situation so far Bitcoin and the deregulated finance are the only glimpses of hope to solve this vicious cycle of seemingly unresolvable interdependencies. Remember, in order to become modern and progressive people in ramshackles and their detrimental beliefs need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The most important thing deregulated finance gives to people irrespective of their race, origins, religions and locations is the sense of connectedness and belief that efforts to become civilized will make them better off at the end of the day. Whether they can get it or mine it or trade it is the next important question. But in the meantime it reigns over their heads saying “You too can control your life! You too can succeed, so stop being savage, clean yourself, go ahead and do it!”

Renowned Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said during a “The B Word” webinar on July 21:.”My hope is that [Bitcoin] creates world peace or helps create world peace.”. And world opportunity to save democracy through rising well-being of those who became desperate, I would like to add.

Information source credits to: Wikipedia, Investopedia, BusinessInsider, websites of a number of history faculties across world universities.