The Votive Economy V – Cryptocurrency, Space-Time and Global Nationalism

“Cryptocurrency is at the intersection of game theory, cryptography, computer science, economics, venture capital, and public markets.” – Ari Paul, Understanding Cryptocurrency

Discussion of cryptocurrency generally proceeds through two approaches; the first describes its underlying technology, its protocols and how it works, saying in effect that ‘it is what it does’; the second uses that understanding to frame the cryptocurrency as a new asset class within the political and economic systems in which it operates and is valued, and is primarily focused on its price.

The balance of explanatory power placed on these two approaches gives away assumptions and contradictions about cryptocurrency’s impact on political economy. The ‘it is what it does’ approach is often accompanied by the assertion, explicitly or implicitly stated, that cryptocurrency is inherently transformative and will cause an inevitable macro effect in any political and economic context in which it successfully operates – effectively a laissez-faire attitude towards political and economic transformation, the thrust of which can be summed up in one word – decentralisation.

Cryptocurrency is decentralised through its use of cryptography and distributed ledger technology (DLT) to control the issue of currency and the verification of transactions without the need for a trusted third party such as a bank, recording this information on a publicly maintained ledger or blockchain. The theoretical removal of the need for a trusted and centralised third party in control of the ledger is seen as a key characteristic of cryptocurrency and it is this characteristic which is deemed revolutionary enough in and of itself to change the world without further elaboration.

The problem with this view is that governance of cryptocurrency ledgers requires a centralised set of rules or protocols, both technical and procedural, that enough people agree on to make it functional, and arguments over who has a say in what those rules are and how they are agreed upon is the cause of almost all public drama in the cryptocurrency space. On top of this, in the real world cryptocurrency is subject to legislative bodies who can (and do) create laws against its use. The response from cryptocurrency enthusiasts is that the passage of (their favoured) cryptocurrency from de facto natural law (decentralised agreements between individuals based on an emergent set of rules) into de jure enforced law (law enacted by regulators and legislatures and backed by state power) is inevitable, and that states and central banks can either get on board or face extinction – even though this has never been the case with regard to state and central bank power over currency. As covered in III, states and central banks will attempt to co-opt monetary innovation and legislate to bring it into their domain. If they cannot co-opt it then they will make it illegal and if necessary use force to establish and maintain this position.

The second approach to cryptocurrency that places explanatory emphasis on its role as as an asset class that can be used for speculative investment indicates that, rather than being a vehicle of inevitable revolution, cryptocurrency is valid only insofar as it it succeeds within the current political and economic paradigm. This approach is often far more cautionary about cryptocurrency, endorsing its protocols and technology only as far as they are able to integrate into and succeed within the political and economic status quo rather than change it. Despite this, when a cryptocurrency inflates in price the exuberant cries of ‘to the moon’ are invariably made by those who see a manifest destiny in their favoured cryptocurrency being a harbinger of a new political and economic reality, as if the higher the price goes, the closer we are to a new and better world instead of further entrenching the valuation mechanisms of the existing one.

Andreas Antonopoulos, an influential thinker in the cryptocurrency space, cautions against this kind of approach, questioning the idea of price as a measure of success and roundly turning against bitcoin derivatives like exchanging traded funds (ETFs) as they undermine what he sees as the fundamental principle of bitcoin, that is self-sovereign control over money and a more democratic form of currency free from centralised power.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have a complex relationship with price, with any price movement accompanied by narratives describing both good times and bad. Low prices strip opportunistic speculators and other bad actors from the market and leave only the enthusiasts who are in it for the long game of buidling out the infrastructure of a decentralised world – but low prices also make the financial situation of those heavily invested in cryptocurrency more precarious as well as create a crisis of confidence in the value of what they’re doing. Conversely, high prices prove the long view has validity but introduces more people into the market which increases the tendency towards cryptocurrency being co-opted towards the entrenchment of the buy-low-sell-high status quo. High prices increase the desire to exit cryptocurrency positions in even the most fervent evangelists in order to maximise bi-cameral profit between fiat and cryptocurrency, like blood flowing through the ventricles of the heart, thus inevitably driving down the price, although ‘back to earth’ is never the whispered cry.

This tendancy towards the entrenchment of the status quo is the fundamental challenge to cryptocurrency – whatever the nature of its mechanism design, it is always subsumed under the larger mechanism design of free-floating exchange rates in the wider foreign exchange market and the buy-low-sell-high money pump of the stock market in general. Valuing cryptocurrency primarily in state issued fiat undermines cryptocurrency’s core value proposition as a genuine alternative to state issued fiat, as the entire bedrock of fiat is free floating exchange. Put another way, when the frame and measure of valuing cryptocurrencies is the exact same frame and measure that the creation of cryptocurrencies is attempting to escape from, gaining critical escape velocity creates a simultaneous and powerful return velocity that favours innovation towards financialisation and ease of speculative trading over improvements in direct usability and grassroots assignment of value to things in the real world with the new currency. This impacts its development path, usage, adoption and ultimately its real value proposition. The credit of financial success is cancelled by the debit of visionary failure, and the onset of visionary failure in turn undermines financial success. There is nothing more disappointing than a potentially paradigm shifting idea being reduced to a novel way for people to finance a new car.

Cryptocurrency as a layer in The Stack

Despite the countervailing tensions outlined above there remains a great deal of progress in terms of both technical development and the emergence of new thinking around political economy both within and around the cryptocurrency space. A strong collective drive continues towards optimising and evolving the wide spectrum inherency of cryptocurrency as a functional layer in what Benjamin H Bratton has termed ‘The Stack‘, an ‘accidental megastructure’ of ‘planetary scale computation’ that humanity is building out, hive-like, towards some kind of purpose, or a mirroring transformative process the exact nature of which is hard to determine.

Re-framed as a layer in the Stack, cryptocurrency’s value and governance protocols can be reassessed without the contradictions of being valued within and therefore shaped by a legacy system that it’s trying to escape. Instead each cryptocurrency’s fundamentals are free to seek only excellence in the core competencies of speed, latency, scalability, usability, stability, security, privacy and, central to all the others, consensus.

Consensus, however, is not something that can be easily optimised or measured along a one dimensional scale – there is little consensus around the question of which consensus protocol is the best one in terms of producing a meaningful consensus in itself. Although other core competencies can be used to measure consensus protocols quantitatively, none of these can measure them qualitatively. A dictatorship could be the zenith of performance and scalability, but it would be hard to imagine cryptocurrency evangelists square the circle of a rule that says as efficiency and scalability increase so does centralisation and authoritarianism, although it’s a common argument that the high energy costs of the proof-of-work protocol is a bulwark against centralised control and capture, which in effect is an argument for inefficiency as a desirable quality of consensus. This is a difficult argument to maintain when trying to improve efficiency as a core competency, with efficiency often being a major concern for any point of consensus, especially with regard to the optimum use of time and materials.

Out of the ongoing maelstrom of cryptocurrency governance, the emerging distinction between the need for both centralised protocols for on-chain consensus and localised and particularised off-chain consensus signals the growing recognition that rather than just being a merely technical problem to be solved, consensus is a deeply human subject that must be constantly negotiated, both the means by which it is arrived at as well as the subjects of consensus itself. It is mystical enough to connect what may have previously been insular concerns relating to technology and law to the entirety of existence. At the same time, it is increasingly recognised that protecting and optimising consensus requires a level of local concern and sufficient enough understanding and appreciation with every particular that feeds into it – people, place, history and desired outcomes  – as well as the protocols for arriving at consensus in themselves. This requires an investment of time and space and overall skin-in-the-game signified by being affected by the outcome of the consensus after having spent time engaging with it. People who are not involved in consensus building or affected by the outcome of the consensus will find it difficult to optimise consensus at the same level as those who are. Consensus is practice, not theory, local, not global.

The Putney Debates 1647, a consensus exercise over three days that echoed for centuries.

The environment of the Stack, which is simultaneously both ahistorical and also potentially connected to history in ways which have hitherto only existed in the realms of science fiction, enables every cryptocurrency, each one a self contained algorithm mechanically designed to assign value to consensus, to in effect form the nucleus of a new nation, each complete with origin stories, founders, battles for control, the establishment of a people, their domain and borders and other re-enactments of historical nation birth. Each cryptocurrency can be defined by its own particular approach to consensus and governance in general and all cryptocurrencies emerge tangentially to the status quo, but must use the platonic forms of the status quo in order to realise themselves.

The Platonic Stack

As covered in part II, digitisation has caused the analogue unitary values of the status quo political economy, specifically votes and money, to collapse into the same medium, and through this collapse, become free agents allowing new forms of political economy to emerge. In terms of digitisation, cryptocurrency’s major innovation through DLT is that it has elevated the timestamp to a monadic unit in the establishment of a consensus account of reality recorded in a blockchain as a continuum, with integer value changes over time creating a kind of space-time tunnel of political and economic history independent of its retelling by any temporary victors. Space-time, votes and money form a triumvirate of protean values that underpin all political economy, a concept that can be thought of as the Platonic Stack.

The Platonic Stack is a human centred approach that allows for thinking about the possibilities of systems design in the digitised environment without reverting to computer science metaphors. It is a conception of political economy stripped back to an absolute minimum. It is protean, before ideology, and applying axiomatic rules based on the nature of each of its values, as this series of essays attempts to do, creates a simple basis for the flourishing of immense complexity.

Adding space-time to the exploration of the axioms between the vote and money reflects the reality that the context of our political and economic systems, existence, is a deeply complex and essentially mysterious state. Reduced to the abstract dialectic point of view, space-time can be cast as the ongoing synthesiser of votes and money – from a pragmatic point of view, although it is of course impossible to reduce space-time to an interchangeable unit of value as can be done with money and the vote, it does not need to be – we only need to be able to use instruments to measure partial aspects of its emergence, not make an account of it as a whole or know its origin. A wooden rule allows people to approach the measure of space and an hourglass allows people to approach the measure of time.

Although space-time as a concept is not reducible to an integer value as money and the vote are, relations between digitally represented space-time bound phenomena such as distance over time can be reduced to an integer. Just as we don’t need to actively process our conscious experience of space-time but only be able to measure and manipulate it, when it comes to exploring how it fits into the axiomatic relationship between money and the vote we don’t actually need to let it complicate our thinking too much. Space-time can be broken down into space and time, and from a Platonic Stack perspective, time can be more usefully used as a purely abstract value unit with a dimensional simplicity that more easily lends itself to convertibility between the value units of money and the vote.

Even though the invention of DLT marks a huge leap in how a record of time is attained via consensus, time has always necessarily formed the bedrock of any monetary system and effectively operates as a global commons of value transformation. Interest on debt is the dominant time based mechanic of global political economy. The Biblical Jubilee for the forgiveness of debt is also a time based mechanic. Demurrage, most successfully demonstrated by Silvio Gesell as described in part III allows for the decay of monetary value over time. Josiah Warren the American individualist anarchist created the Cincinatti Time Store in 1827 in which the amount of time the shopkeeper spent attending to customers, determined by a timer in the store, added to the price of the goods – it ran for three years and was the cheapest and most popular store in town.

Ithaca Hours, created in 1991, are another currency with space-time alterations to its design. It can only be used within a twenty mile radius of Ithaca, New York.

The emergence of cryptocurrency and DLT, which must somehow incorporate consensus into its design, has created an entirely new platform as commons paradigm that fully incorporates the Platonic Stack.

Votes, Money and Time as Commons in Cryptocurrency Mechanism Design

Cryptocurrencies can be seen with fresh eyes through the votes, money and time design lens of the Platonic Stack. Bitcoin’s proof of work protocol measures work done over time – timechain was commented in the original code rather than blockchain to describe its key innovation, which revolutionised the record of time through DLT. Although the minting of coins and verification of transactions is free of any democratic mechanism using votes, governance of Bitcoin relies on miner voting to determine the ongoing development of the protocol. This voting is called signalling, and you can see the live state of bitcoin voting here. Each bitcoin miner or mining pool effectively votes on the future direction of the bitcoin protocol, both the technical and procedural aspects of its definition, by lining up their computational power behind the bitcoin improvement protocol (BIP) of their choice. The amount of voting power available to each miner or pool is associated with their relative share of the computational power of the network, which means those who have the most say and derive the most benefit (in terms of the probable share of mined coins) are the ones who invest the most in running it. The investment in computational power is effectively a stake in a share of voting power, and the share of voting power is commensurate with monetary reward. Each miner is therefore incentivised to only line up behind BIPs that reward them the most money. This is both an example of the axiom of a share providing voting rights to the shareholder and a breaking of the negative axiom that votes must not be bought by money.

Cryptocurrency based initiatives such as the Commons Stack (particularly the temporal design aspects of Conviction Voting and Augmented Bonding Curves, although the latter is still very much hampered by stock market inspired legacy thinking), Democracy Earth‘s time weighted VOTE token, FOAM‘s space-time sync based proof-of-location protocol,  Seva Exchange Corporation’s plan to put mutual credit Time Banking onto the blockchain (supported by Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang), ZenVow‘s initiative to create a demurrage based currency generated through meditation(!), Holochain and Ceptr‘s biomemetic, agent driven, and fractally composed concept of space-time for self and collective sovereignty and integrity over borders or membranes, and even exotic Ponzi jokes such as PoWH 3D, which rewards people for ‘sticking round over time’, Fomo 3D which monetises people clicking a button to reset a timer, and others such as Aragon, DAOStack, Colony, and MolochDAO, are all examples of the new design space afforded by the digitisation of the Platonic Stack, and are effectively competing parameterisations of the Votive Economy, with the Platonic Stack at their base.

“My slice of eternity is not worth more than your slice of eternity.”

Dr. Edgar Cahn,  Founder of Timebanking

Many of the above initiatives are built on Ethereum, which has become the de-facto platform of choice for experimenting with organisational structures and their internal and external political economy. The programmable nature of Ethereum was used to create the first and most infamous Decentralised Autonomous Organisation – The DAO.  Ether was exchanged for DAO tokens which could then be used as votes to direct the money collectively held by The DAO towards various proposals put forwards on how to spend it. If enough money was directed toward a proposal via money weighted token holder votes, the money represented by those votes would collectively be directed from the DAO to the product and any profits distributed via dividends per token.

Dash similarly uses a DAO like structure to award votes to users who buy an initial stake of 1000 Dash to become a Masternode, which then allows the Masternode user to vote on how 10% of the Dash cryptocurrency rewarded to miners is spent. The idea is that the initial stake represents a Masternode owner having skin-in-the-game and therefore being more likely to vote in the best interests of the Dash ecosystem. Both Ethererum and Dash are examples of voting rights being bought by money and votes conducting money from a collective pool to individuals or enterprises.

Steem, a cryptocurrency based social network and progenitor to EOS, has a complex tri-part mechanism of cryptocurrency units that effectively work as a graduated transformer between the fiat ecosystem and the Steem ecosystem. Votes are incorporated into its operation from the most fundamental level of running the network up to its daily use by users of the Steemit social media website who use upvotes and downvotes to conduct money from a daily reward pool towards posts and comments. Steem uses a consensus protocol called Delegated-Proof-of-Stake in order to select the people who run the network, who are called Witnesses. Every Steemit account holder is given thirty permanent votes, which can be re-distributed at any time, in order to vote for Witnesses, who are trusted with running and securing the Steemit network and receive daily rewards of Steem Power for their service.

Steem also also contains a central corrupting feature in self-voting, in which users can upvote their own posts and receive a monetary reward for it. This is the equivalent of an author buying their own book and awarding it a five star review on Amazon, but its corrupting effect is furthered by the amount of Voting Power also being equivalent to Money Power. Although the monetary effect is that self-voters take money out of one pocket and put it in another, it has a deleterious effect on the actual nature and output of the network itself, and a tremendous amount of time is spent on the platform complaining about it and figuring out schemes to combat it – it corrupts the nature of emergence.

Nimses is another social network which mints a cryptocurrency called Nim for every minute of a user’s time from the moment they become a member. It also has a concept called Temples, which superimposes a border grid onto the globe and allows uses to become ‘master’ of whatever grid they occupy depending on how many Nims are conducted to them via votes in the form of likes. Its advertising campaign is uniquely odd and dystopic, presenting a young man called Mark initially as the digital victim of global corporate culture and then as some kind of psychopathic avenging literal ‘angel’ ranting on about what he wants – which boringly turns out to be fame, power and other people’s tax contributions, presumably gleaned by people liking his unhinged ranting. The dark egoic rivalrousness on display is quite astounding, even though some of the underlying concepts and mechanics behind the system are undoubtedly fascinating.

The common design principle of all the experiments above is that the most subjectively precious and simultaneously most abundantly liquid thing in each system is time, and it is time that is harnessed to provide both their mechanics and the root source of their value. The fact that the value units of all these systems are only valuated once they have entered the legacy system of floating currency exchange rather than with the recognition, consideration and dignity of everybody’s sovereignty over their own time creates a universal design limitation that encircles and limits their adoption as part of a new possibility space. In order to succeed, an alternative system will need to envelop and move beyond the free floating exchange mechanic.

Global Nationalism, Fractal Localism

Although we have up to now focused mostly on time, in building up to a new political economy questions of space inevitably come into play and space-time integer values become critical components, especially when it comes to the establishment and maintainance of borders.

Any even-handed proposals for a new political economy must attempt to reconcile the great political and economic schism of our time, that between Globalism and Nationalism, and not just take the position of condemning one or the other. The worldview of the Votive Economy is therefore, necessarily, Global Nationalism, by way of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s idea of Fractal Localism. Global in the sense that it is a single set of scalable, parametric political and economic protocols spanning the globe, National in the sense that it recognises that, on one hand, the upper limit for any agreements reached by the practical application of these protocols is the Nation, and on the other and as part of this, that it allows decentralisation of political and economic power down to the level of the individual within their specific bounded locality in order to avoid potentially absorptive scale effects. This specificity applies not only to the production and direction of money, but also to the establishment of borders inside which people have the freedom to establish the laws they wish to live by, including the means by which those laws are established.

The concept of Global Nationalism will sound to many firmly entrenched on both sides of the schism as either a hopeless compromise or a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Starting out by making an enemy of everyone is counterintuitively probably the only initial way forward in these strange and febrile times, but as iconoclastic as Global Nationalism may sound, for all practical intents and purposes we already live in a state of Global Nationalism, and our daily life squares the circle between these two supposed ‘sides’ in every moment. All the habitable nations of the world are provided access to sunlight, air, rain, soil, are subject to the laws of physics etc. All the political and economic systems of the world rely on the concepts of credit and debt, money lent over time, investments and savings providing losses and returns and the activities of the market providing a picture of supply and demand to producers and consumers in the economy, mitigated and adjusted by national, supranational and international policies, arrived at through votes, that rebalance and incentivise market activity. By reducing political economy back to the value units of money and the vote, tempered by space-time, the Votive Economy aims to re-work at a fundamental, protean level that can scale up in a fractal manner from the local to the global, from the individual to the nation and from the nation to the world. This is not a set of policy proposals but a complete redrawing of the concept of political economy in itself, and yet it is a redrawing in its own image, using the familiar shapes and forms that have emerged over millenia of human governance.

The Emerging Empire of the Cybercommons

The emergence of competing cryptocurrencies is akin to the emergence of competing nations within the Stack, although at the time of writing (with the possible exceptions of Liberland and e-Estonia) they are still in the cloud rather than on the land, which allows much to be made of their so-called borderless nature. However, anyone spending any time on Twitter witnessing the energetic territorial pissings of cryptocurrency maximalists (Bitcoin/Ethereum/XRP/EOS et al.) will come away with the strong impression that the state of borderlessness, rather than being one of emancipation and equality, is a global, extremely hierarchical, internecine battle for future empire.

The public battle over which cryptocurrency will become the new global standard goes on with the assumption that the so-called borderless nature of cryptocurrency will win out over every historic nation’s long incorporated legislative jurisdiction. To cryptocurrency maximalists all news contrary to this assumption is seen not as a block, but as a bump in the road on the way to future empire. This can be partly understood because for cryptocurrency the end game boss is not any particular nation, but instead the web of Central Banks and International Financial Institutions, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Bank of International Settlements – that is, the already existing borderless, supranational global financial empire inveigling itself into national legislatures through monetary power.

The astonishing thing about many of the initiatives in cryptocurrency is how hard they appear to go against founder’s privilege and how entirely generous they appear to be. What cryptocurrency appears to be trying to create and compete for is not a new proprietary platform or dominating new asset class, but a new commons emerging into physical reality, native to the open source cybernetic universe from which it springs. In this context, the battle for ultimate market dominance becomes something else – a means of expanding beyond the confines of the market to new forms of human organisation, like a map expanding to become a territory, an iris expanding to become a universe, an empire expanding to become a commons and a commons expanding to become an empire.

The transparent and abstract nature of cryptocurrency empire building is a dialectic continuation of the changing nature of economic warfare from open and physical, such as in the naval and land blockades of the Peloponnesian War and the Napoleonic Continental System, to the hidden and abstract methods of economic warfare marked by the turning point of the British Empire’s transformation from a physical presence to a system of secretive  and recursive legal structures set up as an abstraction, as documented in The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire. The establishment of the supranational bodies of the League of Nations and the UN marked the dialectical still point of empire, having all the structures of a world state, with a court and council, but no actual jurisdictional power.

The establishment of the European Union began to reverse this dynamic, moving from its inception as an abstract legal structure with an ultimate hidden objective of political union to a bordered, physical domain, disguising itself as a trading block and eventually graduating from soft to hard power via legal instruments to progressively co-opt national sovereignty. The genius of the EU was to cloak the takeover of national sovereignty in the language of individual human rights, with a key tool in its arsenal being the ability for individuals in EU nations to take their own government to court for not obeying EU law.

“Via money Europe could become political in five years… the current communities should be completed by a Finance Common Market which would lead us to European economic unity. Only then would … the mutual commitments make it fairly easy to produce the political union which is the goal.”

Jean Monnet, Founding Father of the European Union

The inevitable end game of the EU is military unification regardless of any mandate to do so, an agenda that must also go hand-in-hand with the ultimate centralisation of all power via the removal of any veto power from its constituent nations. This will entail a state power backed de jure legal system that will complete the transformation of the historic independent nations of Europe into regions of a federal superpower and the subsequent and necessary diasporisation/replacement of the old national identities through immigration quotas and EU flag waving in order to strengthen the new supranational identity over the historic cultural and ethnic national one – in David Goodhart‘s terms this would be the ultimate victory of the Anywheres over the Somewheres, or in Simone Weil‘s, the Uprooted over the Rooted.

“Uprootedness is by far the most dangerous malady to which human societies are exposed, for it is a self-propagating one. For people who are really uprooted there remain only two possible sorts of behaviour: either to fall into a spiritual lethargy resembling death,…or to hurl themselves into some form of activity necessarily designed to uproot, often by the most violent methods, those who are not yet uprooted, or only partly so… Whoever is uprooted himself uproots others. Whoever is rooted himself doesn’t uproot others.”

Simone Weil, The Need for Roots

The physical territory of the EU is not the only subject of the EU’s power however – its willingness to legislate over the internet with GDPR and the Copyright Directive Articles 11 and 13 clearly show that its empire building ambitions are now trained on the digital commons – but the EU is not alone.

In the environment of the Stack, many other empires are being envisioned in superposition, all engaged in what has been called Culture War 2.0; whether it be a Transhumanist Ascendency, Green Authoritarianism, Abrahamic Eschatology, Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Anarcho-Primitivism, Neoliberal Consolidation, Sustainable Development/UN Agenda 2030, Nationalism, Civic Nationalism, Ethnic Nationalism, Feminist Gynarchy, Patriarchal Reaction, Neoreactionary Autocracy, Socialist Technocracy, Libertarianism, Surveillance Platform Capitalism, Fascism, Radical Markets, Spontaneous Memetic Order, Accelerationist Chaos, Classical Liberalism, Plutocratic Oligarchy, Social Darwinism, Propertarianism, Game B, any combination of the above and many more besides.

We are living through a cambrian explosion of competing visions, mediative sensemaking and new association in general. Whilst it is hard to imagine a scenario in which any one of the visions in the offing will actually achieve anything that could resemble an absolute and final victory over the entire planet, it’s also hard to avoid the sense that there will indeed emerge out of all this virtual turf war and bolt-hole philosophising some kind of new global political and economic system or settlement, one that will allow all these visions to somehow co-exist, a genuinely pluralist vision that contains many visions. After all, is it not the case that this is what we already have?

The old world is dying and the new one has not yet been born. Things are falling apart into place. Streets are quietly heavy with pregnant emptiness. Locals are becoming tourists in their world before the end, strangers in the new world just beginning. Everyone is a fifth columnist. We must love one another no matter what. Concerns about civilisational decline and even self-termination rub up against genuine hopes for a better world coming alive in the crumbling power structures, nations and narratives of the old, with every narrative beset by fear uncertainty and doubt, misrepresentation, bad faith argument, manipulation and propaganda from every quarter in the battle to become the dominant narrative, the global empire, in a collective frenzy of absolutist myopia.

The greenest new shoots growing from liberal democracy’s compostable remnants acknowledge capitalism’s contribution to the lifting of billions of people out of poverty, but also point at a strong sense of iniquity in the outsized awards to shareholders, landowners, platform owners, those who have created and gain benefit from the dominant means of production, including that of creating money and charging interest over time, as well as the dangerous imbalance of externalities it can create, especially in the merciless uprooting of people in the search for profit. It is all very well acknowledging that power laws exist and that there is always some level of inequality based on the differing interests, abilities and efforts of individuals and groups, but when power laws are sliced up in a global market so riven with asymmetries, algorithmic trading and meta-value gaming that its outcomes make little human sense from an end value perspective, when iniquity becomes so great that it creates a equally powerful impetus for correction, when local sense and balance is continually overridden by distant power, distant profit and distant debt collection, a possibility space begins to open up that is impossible to ignore. This is the place we’re in now. No one group vision is in total control. No conspiracy is 100% effective. The Noosphere consists of countless reality tunnels burrowing into each other, and the outcome of this is beyond prediction – we are in a New Age of Discovery, and the distant shores are everywhere and nowhere.

The next entry in the series will sketch out the practical mechanics of the Votive Economy.


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