a few months ago i felt like there was something big i was missing. or maybe something small. no i felt like i was looking at something simple from a weird angle, and missing the obvious. i was trying to figure out what was going to happen, or what should happen, with Money and the Economy and Capitalism and all this stuff we've been doing, as we fall further down the rabbithole.
i got trapped for a few weeks, or so, following the fool's gold of the Next Money.. something overcomplicated, something extra, something extrafancy new. i was thinking something like: what could we adopt next after money? but that's a senseless way to think about it. we never adopted money as a system. particular systems of money get supported for various reasons throughout history, but we never had any choice about whether money was going to exist. money is there in value & trade & scarcity, it's the natural abstraction.
but i was feeling like we're moving past money, we're doing something new. i was trying to figure out, what are we going to do next to structure ourselves, instead of money? trying to zoom out a little, trying to see money not just as a tool for doing this one thing, but seeing it in its role in society. playing the money system has a particular emotional & identity-establishing quality to it. it employs so much of the effort and activity of humanity because of its way of drawing in so much attention, making itself so necessary. people relate to it as not just a technology but an establishing force in their lives.
so i began to look beyond trade, for instance, or beyond production & distribution. these are notions i began to feel that belong to money itself. i felt that we are going beyond not just money but the very ground assumptions on which money rests. scarcity, for instance, is essential to money as we understand it. people engage with money not just as a tool for efficiently extracting value from their around, which is basically what it is, but as an absolutely essential part of their life and identity-- they do that because there's enough ambient scarcity that they decide they need to extract value from something in their around and turn it into food...
after a few months maybe it's been of thinking very deeply, if not very productively, about this subject.. driven by an unsettledness in my own thinking, feeling that there was something just around the corner, some way to make it click.. i have come to a peace with it. i feel that i've realized something essential, even though i have nothing but air to explain to you. i'm looking at money from a slightly different angle now, and with that plus the first angle i can make out the shape of it: it's right there, it's that small.
here's what i can consciously explain so far of what i have realized. this is what i think will replace money as the economic organizing force of our society: Voluntary Collective Action. it's that simple, cuttingly simple: people just deciding to do things together. indeed i believe it will win as an organizing principle of society precisely because it is even simpler than money.
money's only virtue is its simplicity. it hides all of the complexities of value behind a singular facade. the driving character of the old life is that you have needs, survival needs, which can only be satisfied by things that are valuable in the sense of distant and expensive. to satisfy those needs within severe time and processing constraints (aka stupidity), you seek out a mother's teat, a SYSTEM into which you can put what you have-- such as a human effort-- and receive what you need-- such as a human life. money is relatively simple to use. money is relatively simple to use.
but money is actually quite complex. see, i started this letter a few days ago, theoretical listener, and then i stopped back in that paragraph last round about (Exactly) just atfer the words "(aka stupidity),". There it rested. And I am still in the same state of halfformedvision which I had explained to you. But things do seem clearer today, as I expect and hope and urge of my little mind that they ought to every day, that I ought to get just a little bit further.
Money. Is a system. A natural system. A natural system which is also created and controlled by humans-- human natures-- a human natural system. It's simple, but it's not so simple. What do you DO, if you relate to money? You must value things. It only seems like a little matter, if you're already so bothered by it. You must value just about everything, anything which you want to involve in the system. It's a digitizing system, and it only accepts things which are digitized into the proper format. It's a simple enough format: They have to have a VALUE slapped onto them. A simple system, a natural system. This costs TWO DOLLARS and TWENTY SEVEN CENTS! Exact! Precise! Simple.
What's simpler, of course, is to NOT tack a value on something. To not digitize it, to not valuate it, to not enter it into the system. Most things, of course, aren't. Most things do not participate. The airplane roaring over my head now was sold for a price, as was each seat. It's involved. The air it travels through, not as much. The revolutionary war era gravestones next door are just sitting there. Venus revolves untouched. Down here on Earth there is a process unfolding, a game where things are given labels, $2.27. Some of the things. Some of the time. Those things that are important to that game-- some of them are important, relevantly valuable, and make that game relevant to some bipeds on that planet.
Another stream of my thought has been to consider these vast untouched realms. It's like the fundamental unspoken bizarre underbelly of U.S. electoral politics that hardly anyone rarely dares to touch: That only half of the eligible voters vote. Thus their fundamental uneasiness, knowing that a total transformation is always just under their feet. Money I suggest ought to feel the same uneasiness: It does not represent all of value, only a particular kind of digitized value. Most of the actual conclusion is turnout: What people actually do.
So I had been sitting equally uneasily with imagining this great river of unlabelled value. Before I even considered it in those terms, and my skepticism of the money system was less well formed, I had an unnameable ghost shape crying in my mind: This Does Not Add Up. Everyone knows that most of the value created in our society is created outside of the money system. Parents caring for children. Lovers caring for each other. Art. Helping strangers. We understand that the illusion of completeness cast by money hides how much of our lives are outside of it.
ok i'm back again. so um what did i realize. well... that it does go together. the only missing ingredient to turn the stream of everything into a viable alternative to the particular stream of monetized things, is a certain organization. we were stuck relating to the system because it was one of our only digital information networks. it's expensive to send packets in a physical network back before it could be automated, so the only people sending reliable signals were people relating to value, because they were getting paid for doing it. but that shows the astonishing inefficiency of it.
so many levels of inefficiency. the worrying. the handling. the worrying. the fighting. obviously we're going to drop it. that's another thing that sent me down thinking aobut this. but how can we? what's it going to look like if we do? all of this drama that's happening right now with "the financial market", and here we are all just as calm and collected and together as ever, here on THIS network. here we are able to create value so much more easily. BAM! i am writing to you! this has minimal value, granted! but it has some value! and it has been created! no market needed!
the market is spinning itself into the ground. god knows i haven't been helping it much lately. i know some people who have been helping a little. but i don't know anyone who's helping it enthusiastically. the new wave, the new thinking, the new interactions, the new structures, those are being supported very enthusiastically. but they are also in their infancy. so we have yet to see :>;.;.....h tnh. thuuuuu if we can survive the crossing.
it's justt one aspect. everything's just one aspect. it's getting difficult to see. like a fog of nanites obscuring reality. well, was it ever easy to see reality? it was just easier to fake it for a lifetime. no more fake anything now i suppose. we're burning the house to stay warm.