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Re: <nettime> In Praise of Cash
Keith Hart on Fri, 3 Mar 2017 00:49:57 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> In Praise of Cash


   Thanks for the wake-up call, Brett. It is useful to start a war between
   cash and bank money, if we are indeed sleepwalking into an insidious
   totalitarian bureaucracy. But I have found that bureaucracies look a
   lot more monolithic from the outside from the inside and your take on
   money may confirm ignorance more than reduce it.

   Money was based on credit thousands of years before coins were
   invented. In David Graeber's terms, money as bullion predominated in
   the Axial Age of rival ancient imperialisms and in the more recent age
   of western imperialism. Credit money was more common than metal
   currency in the middle ages and may or may not be on the rise. But of
   course throughout that history and again today money was always plural
   in several forms.

   To simplify, in the last two centuries or more, bank notes and base
   metal coinage were added to gold and silver coins coins, then bank
   deposits, supervised by a Central Bank, to these two layers which were
   linked by gold backing for paper. Nixon ended this link in 1971,
   triggering the immediate invention of money derivatives, an explosion
   in FX between competing currencies (daily turnover of $5.3 trillion in
   2013) and the progressive detachment of the global money circuit from
   production, trade, politics and law.

   The addition of layers to the money system has not stopped. Mobile
   money (m-pesa) has 25 million accounts in Kenya and Tanzania. The Bank
   of England is considering letting innovators in financial technology
   bypass the bank deposit system and go straight to central bank money.
   Money is now issued by a distributed global network of corporations
   (not just governments and banks), often in special forms that lack the
   all-purpose functions (exchange, payment, account, store) of national
   monopoly currency, thereby reverting to the type of special-purpose
   money that was normal before the central bank revolution c. 1850. Much
   of the action these days is generated by the payments industry which is
   not simply an undifferentiated part of the banking conspiracy (Bill
   Maurer How Do You Want to Pay?)

   So, do you hope that your call to arms in defence of cash will help
   people understand the tidal wave of money that threatens to overwhelm
   us all?

   Keith

   On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 11:35 PM, Brett Scott ]brettscott {AT} fastmail.com> wrote:

     I just published this big essay in Aeon Magazine, looking at the dark
     sides of 'cashless society' (aka. the bank payments society):

     https://aeon.co/essays/if-plastic-replaces-cash-much-that-is-good-will-be-lost.

     This follows from an earlier essay I did called The War on Cash. The
     battle to protect cash is one full of ambiguities - it feels somewhat
     like trying to protect good ol' normal capitalism from a Minority Report
     surveillance-capitalism.
 <...>

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