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Re: <nettime> The Monetary Future: How Bitcoin Is Being Destroyed
Keith Hart on Sat, 27 Oct 2012 01:36:42 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The Monetary Future: How Bitcoin Is Being Destroyed


I wish I could write like that guy. The article exaggerates the threat
posed by Bitcoin and the will/ability of the custodians of state money to
shut it down. But the argument prompts a question that has bugged me for a
while now. How does it come about that one, but only one online exception
to the old regime is allowed to flourish in each sector: Amazon, E-bay,
Facebook, Paypal? Is it the logic of winner takes all or because a licence
is granted to one exception that can be made to toe the line? I recall once
an official of the Fed said they were in two minds whether to classify
Paypal as a bank which would of course shut it down since it couldn't
afford the overheads imposed as a result. But they didn't.I am sure there
is a big fight coming up, but I don't think it will pit the new network
economy against old bureaucratic power. We will not build a better
worldindependently of the institutions that have organized humanity's leap
in 200 years from living off the land to the threshold of global society:
states, cities, capitalist markets, corporations, organized science and
technology.

It is more likely that successful developments will build on selective
partnerships between large-scale bureaucracies and self-organized
movements.  In Latin America from the 90s the idea of "popular economy"
sustained a new kind of alliance pushing for social democracy and linking
small farmers, urban informal workers, industrial unions and branches of
the state.  Brazil's government under Lula organized a system of community
banks which combined local currencies and microfinance with devolved
decision-making.  Some governments do play an indispensable role in support
of bottom-up initiatives (think Jaures' associationisme). Just as the
shipping firms of Bordeaux and Nantes played a major role in the French
revolution and the industrialists of Milan and Turin in the Risorgimento,
some capitalist firms today may also play a progressive part in bringing
about greater economic democracy. Safaricom's sponsorship of mobile banking
in Kenya (M-Pesa) is a striking example.

So 'old radical' may not have much to offer the young after all, a
perspective that reproduces the tired polarities of twentieth century
revolutionary discourse.

Keith

On Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM, Nick <nettime {AT} njw.me.uk> wrote:

> Interesting read.
>
> States, and traditional financial authorities, seem to be a pretty
> good job of ensuring peoples use of bitcoin is outside their remit,
> by closing down the practical use of bitcoin exchanges which
> consider themselves 'legitimate,' c.f. the closure of intersango &
> mtgox's UK bank accounts.


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