“Zero Money”: First Principles Thinking About Monetary Value
Change the Money, Change the World (9)
Part 1 (B) Economic philosophy, politics & protest
A personal proclivity — technological revolution for a paradigmatic shift
“The ‘world’ of untrammelled capitalism and the rich democracies is a false world. Recognising the unity only of monetary products and signs, it rejects the majority of humanity, pushed out into another, devalued ‘world’, from which it separates itself through walls and warfare. In this sense, there is today no world. There are but walls, drownings, hatred, wars, pillaged and abandoned areas, areas that are protected from everything else, others left in total poverty, and the criminal ideologies that prosper on the back of all this chaos.” — Alain Badiou
True Communism is the Foreignness of Tomorrow by Alain Badiou http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/1547-true-communism-is-the-foreignness-of-tomorrow-alain-badiou-talks-in-athens
I situate my perspective as that of Idealism, but insightful for me has been a unitary conception of the usual division of Idealism as either subjective idealism or objective idealism. I understand the subjective register of reality contains the objective register, and within these domains are nested multiple recursions of subsets. Macro-economics, has only been of significant interest to me in recent years as I began investing in the stock market, and subsequently in cryptocurrency. A lot of focused learning experiences have happened for me in the last 50+ years, but I will only introduce the learning experiences most significant to my economic thesis. Sequentially, in the 70s, my earliest experiences came from philosophy, particularly Vedantic non-dualism. Most significant for our topic, is more recent study of “the hard problem of consciousness”, at the heart of contemporary debate in neuroscience: the impossibility of knowing what it is like to be anybody. Distinctly connected to “the hard problem” are the implications of that issue for objectivity in quantum mechanics. Bridging the gap of science and non-duality, and appealing to my roots in Vedanta, is a modern proponent of Arthur Schopenhauer:
“In summary, Schopenhauer’s world-in-itself is essentially mental, which implies objective idealism in regard to it … what it feels like to be the universe surrounding us is rather different from what it feels like to perceive such a universe … experiential states underlying the world [are] … ordinarily inaccessible to … us as individual observers; all we can access is their representations … which constitute what we call the ‘physical world’ — exist only insofar as we perceive them as individual subjects. This implies subjective idealism in regard to the physical world.” — Bernardo Kastrup
Decoding Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics: The Key to Understanding How It Solves the Hard Problem of Consciousness and the Paradoxes of Quantum Mechanics by Bernardo Kastrup https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/178904426X
I have good reason for opening this section of the essay with the words of Alain Badiou, which reflect his position that ontology is mathematics. Far from being a complete scholar of Badiou thought, I have gained some important personal insights from this great contemporary French philosopher in his writings about set theory, the communist hypothesis and particularly his theory of the “Event” in initiating and eventually substantiating paradigmatic shifts in art, science, politics and many other fields of human endeavor. Here is a key Badiou idea: Actions undertaken in allegiance to a subjective intuition regarding an “Event” retroactively validate the objective truth of the “Event”. This essay adheres to this idea in thinking about monetary value and the solution needed for our current economic dilemma. The “Event” in this case is the advent of a decentralized technological medium for monetary value.
Badiou’s talk, linked above, was given in Athens in 2014 and was addressed to:“… all those today who are struggling against the terrible situation inflicted on the Greek people by the financial oligarchy that today holds power in Europe, in service of globalized capitalism”
The reader should be aware of the context he was addressing: the Syriza movement led by the then Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis managed to gain many parliamentary seats and then leadership of the Greek government. This was my introduction to an interest in understanding and subsequently participating in the continuing struggle exemplified by this particular political event. I have chronicled Varoufakis’ years of ultimately frustrated efforts to confront the EU financial oligarchy here:
Syriza Chronicle Brooklyn https://www.facebook.com/syrizachroniclesbrooklyn
Varoufakis was removed from office for his impertinence due to the influence of the EU financial oligarchy, but he continues today to lead a pan-European political movement. See one of his later books —
And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future by Yanis Varoufakis https://www.amazon.com/Weak-Suffer-What-They-Must/dp/1568585993
Badiou’s speech was a masterful application of his lofty ontology on the topic of political struggle at the level of resistance to economic oppression. I will only comment on the title of his talk: “True Communism is the Foreignness of Tomorrow”. True Communism is not the actual existing communism we have historically seen or which exists in present governments from China to Cuba. It is something wholly foreign to our contemporary understanding, that will become known to be true in our tomorrow. The initial intuition he points to is the event of our awakening from a world of untrammeled capitalism, that rejects the majority of humanity, and undertaking an allegiance to a novel world imbuing economic value in the lives of those left in total poverty. As the awakening manifests, what are we to do?
We can begin with evaluating the subset of observable elements in the set of circumstances that are sustaining the paradigm of economic fragmentation in society. Then we can consider for our allegiance what monetary elements, if introduced within the set of those economic circumstances, would lead to a radical transformation for an egalitarian global community. This would be “True Communism”, if we are to give new life to that unfortunate word. Socialism for the rich in the prevailing U.S. political narrative is leading to an even more unjust authoritarian regime. The trajectory is little different from that exemplified by the history of those countries that have existed, in false outcomes of oligarchy, posing in the name of “communism”, while violating the communist hypothesis for the withering away of the state. Arguably, the U.S. political regime is more akin to fascism in the present America, given its toleration of blatant lies and racist demagoguery. If we look at the evidence for the trajectory of a world dominated by untrammelled capitalism fragmenting the haves from the have-not, we easily conclude the U.S. has entered another oligarchical falseness in this historical moment: the two-party system and its central bank. Awakening is seeing what exists is what Badiou calls “no real world constituted by the men and women who live on the planet”.
I am pointing out in this essay our inability to see the major driver of inequality is the monetary policy of the United States in leading that of the rest of the world. This blindness is a matter of cultural conditioning. For a hundred years, and particularly since instituting the dollar as the world reserve currency, then following a “Keynesian” policy of currency expansion, the fragmentation of society by managed inflation is seemingly a necessary feature. Well, it is a necessary feature for expanding government in collusion with banks and corporations, and maintaining a military industrial complex for endless wars. Debasement of the currency works very well for the wealthy and powerful, who with that power control the thinking of the populace through education, government institutions and the media. Fortunately, this decent into bad governance by what is properly called oligarchic authoritarianism, may be coming to an end, collapsing in its violations of natural law.
In Part 2, I will further expand on why we are generally blind to the causes of our economic dilemma: why we need to understand the problems of and needed replacement of the “Keynesian paradigm”. Later, as to what we are to do to be real sovereign individuals in an economic community: we should see we are already in a broad natural technological revolution offering an abundant egalitarian future, and that we can adopt a monetary technology for a positive paradigm shift. First will come discussion about the “Keynesian paradigm”. Introduced will be early 19th century economic analysis by Henry Hazlitt and F.A. Hayak, both proponents of of Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School of Economics. In later parts of this essay, we move on to interim prescriptions for fostering disinflation by Ray Dalio for monetary policy, and by Yanis Varoufakis for fiscal policy and political organizing. Along the way, we will find Jeff Booth on embracing deflation for its positive possibilities: recognizing the inevitability of deflation is actually a necessity, given the coming impact of technological innovation. Finally we will come to novel monetary technologies, and adapting to and adopting these disruptive innovations.
“Change the money, change the world” is a movement of peaceful political protest, about which there is plenty to say. Years ago I was attracted to anarchism, then later to the communist hypothesis in continental philosophy. I lived 6 years in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, and seven years in China. I went to Nepal twice to cover the Maoist revolution there. Since 2015 to date in 2020 I have pursued projects in Cuba. More an adventurist than a revolutionary, I have mainly focused on people to people diplomacy. Later, towards the end of this essay I will talk about how and why I went down the digital currency rabbit hole.