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Author Topic: crypto-currency for left-libertarians...  (Read 2229 times)
lemonginger
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June 10, 2011, 02:49:59 PM
 #1

So, bitcoin has, by it's nature, pretty much embodied the economic theories of a great currency for right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists. Lots of those features are things that left-libertarians like myself also happen to agree with, so I know there's a lot of us on board. However, I have also been wondering what "features" a left-libertarian (all the way from mutualism ("free market socialism" to use kevin tucker's great term) to libertarian-socialism and libertarian-communism)

--
note: If you want to have a discussion about how socialism is fascism, about how left-libertarian or anarcho-socialist is an oxymoron, etc I would first advise you to get familiar with the last 200 years of anarchist theory and secondly, take it to another thread (where maybe I would be happy to discuss it, though I did that enough on all the years I spent in the politics forum at 2+2). If you troll this thread I will totally ignore you.
--

for example, time-dollar systems by their very nature, tilt towards egalitarianism by suggesting that people value their time equally (whether it is weeding your garden or fixing your computer or giving you a massage). This is heresy to capital-L libertarians I know, the complete opposite of what a currency should be doing, but in any case, that is there.

Personally, I think the single two most important features of a libertarian socialist currency would be some kind-of decay rate/demurrage that discourages hoarding/savings/capital concentration; the inability to loan at interest (all loans in a mutualist system are generally conceived of as free); and, well, I don't know what else.

Like I said, happy to have discussions or arguments about the pragmatics or the ideals of anarchism / left-libertarianism /mutualism / socialism/ and/or communism in another thread.
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lemonginger
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June 10, 2011, 03:04:51 PM
 #2

also I should say one of the weaknesses of bitcoin is that you have to already HAVE it to trade with it. This is as opposed to most mutual credit associations where you can incur a debit even without money that gives rise to future obligations. (that is also a weakness and opening for abuse I know)
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June 10, 2011, 03:09:05 PM
 #3

I lean towards left-libertarianism but:

So, bitcoin has, by it's nature, pretty much embodied the economic theories of a great currency for right-libertarians and anarcho-capitalists. Lots of those features are things that left-libertarians like myself also happen to agree with, so I know there's a lot of us on board. However, I have also been wondering what "features" a left-libertarian (all the way from mutualism ("free market socialism" to use kevin tucker's great term) to libertarian-socialism and libertarian-communism)

--
note: If you want to have a discussion about how socialism is fascism, about how left-libertarian or anarcho-socialist is an oxymoron, etc I would first advise you to get familiar with the last 200 years of anarchist theory and secondly, take it to another thread (where maybe I would be happy to discuss it, though I did that enough on all the years I spent in the politics forum at 2+2). If you troll this thread I will totally ignore you.
--

for example, time-dollar systems by their very nature, tilt towards egalitarianism by suggesting that people value their time equally (whether it is weeding your garden or fixing your computer or giving you a massage). This is heresy to capital-L libertarians I know, the complete opposite of what a currency should be doing, but in any case, that is there.

Personally, I think the single two most important features of a libertarian socialist currency would be some kind-of decay rate/demurrage that discourages hoarding/savings/capital concentration; the inability to loan at interest (all loans in a mutualist system are generally conceived of as free); and, well, I don't know what else.

This would not work. You are distorting the capital structure and producing inefficiencies.

Also, its false that this discourages hoarding/savings/capital concentration, on the contrary it promotes it. How? Its very simple, by assuming that devaluating money you are punishing the people that have more you are assuming they save in money... which is a big big mistake. Usually rich people save in other type of assets, like land, houses, stocks, etc... These assets are less liquid than money, but are a good way to preserve weatlh. Therefore by devaluating money you are just increasing the value of those assets, thus benefiting them. And at the same time you are punishing the people that earn a wage because our wages dont actualize for a while, while price inflation is eroding its value. Thus what you are doing by devaluating the currency is taking from the wage earners, usually the poor and middle class, and giving to the people who owns assets, usually the more rich.

You can see this in real life. During the last 150 years the USA has gone from a more stable money supply to a more and more inflationary one, specially since the 70's. Since then the gap between the rich and the poor has been increasing. More inflation -> bigger gap between the rich and the poor.

Actually, if you understand how the economy works, Bitcoin is a very mutualist currency. I dont see how any currency can really be communistic (apart from considering the hour system a hour standard and work hours currency, but then any other currency is not acceptable, so its the same result).

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Like I said, happy to have discussions or arguments about the pragmatics or the ideals of anarchism / left-libertarianism /mutualism / socialism/ and/or communism in another thread.
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June 10, 2011, 03:38:54 PM
 #4

But a mutualist economy or a libertarian-socialist economy would have far different property rules to get rid of the rentier class. Welath concentration exacerbates itself not because land/machines/houses/etc is such a great store of value but because the capital holder can make money off of them without any labor. In any discussion of this nature left-libs and right-libs tend to go round and round on the issue of property but BOTH of their interpretations of property rest on certain axioms that are, by the nature of being axioms, unresolvable.

I do think that the theoretical an-capistan and the theoretical anti-capistan can be harmonious neighbors.

So i am wondering, what characteristics in a currency would tend to promote equality/egalitarianism rather than the opposite? (or perhaps these questions are best left to other structural mechanisms and not the currency itself)

Ie; we ALREADY see great anxiety and frustration around the early adopter issue (even though if bitcoin is succesful, we are all early adopters at this point). I understand the right-lib view that there is absolutely nothing "wrong" here, but I also understand the very human feeling of "unfairness" (but if someone would have told me about bitcoin i would have been mining 6 months ago!) and also I believe the inequality itself leads to negative outcomes for society, no matter what it is derived from.
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June 10, 2011, 03:52:36 PM
 #5

But a mutualist economy or a libertarian-socialist economy would have far different property rules to get rid of the rentier class. Welath concentration exacerbates itself not because land/machines/houses/etc is such a great store of value but because the capital holder can make money off of them without any labor. In any discussion of this nature left-libs and right-libs tend to go round and round on the issue of property but BOTH of their interpretations of property rest on certain axioms that are, by the nature of being axioms, unresolvable.

I do think that the theoretical an-capistan and the theoretical anti-capistan can be harmonious neighbors.

So i am wondering, what characteristics in a currency would tend to promote equality/egalitarianism rather than the opposite? (or perhaps these questions are best left to other structural mechanisms and not the currency itself)

Ie; we ALREADY see great anxiety and frustration around the early adopter issue (even though if bitcoin is succesful, we are all early adopters at this point). I understand the right-lib view that there is absolutely nothing "wrong" here, but I also understand the very human feeling of "unfairness" (but if someone would have told me about bitcoin i would have been mining 6 months ago!) and also I believe the inequality itself leads to negative outcomes for society, no matter what it is derived from.

I too believe that great amounts of inequality is not a desirable option (some amount of inequality is inevitable IMO). I also agree that the property interpretations rest on axioms that can not be proven, and ultimately are argued on utilitarian grounds (which are always subjective).

But I think you are wrong when you say that the accumulation of wealth comes basically from the capital holder using the capital. Even Karl Marx explains how the financial class abuses the capitalist class regularely (to use Marx terms). The weatlh grabbing through currency manipulation is very real and important and has been one of the big factors in the last decades for the increasing inequality we are seeing. The middle class and the poor always are screwed by inflation, while the more pollitically connected benefit.

I was just pointing out that the system you propose would lead to more inequality. You have to consider also that such a currency would be difficult to promote if not by violent means. Who would preffer a currency that devaluates or has a limited time use, if he/she can choose one that does not if its not forced to? Usually the free market solution tends towards the more egalitarian outcome.
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June 10, 2011, 03:58:14 PM
 #6

Usually the free market solution tends towards the more egalitarian outcome.

Well, we have one viable experiment with BTC. Would like to see other experiments with other assumptions and rules as well Smiley

I am just starting to work through these writings. Moire thoughts later Smiley

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2006/01/michel-bauwens-material-on-p2p.html
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June 10, 2011, 04:06:03 PM
 #7

I think that some of the systems of the "left" can be built on top of the bitcoin protocol itself as services, without affecting the blockchain.
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June 10, 2011, 04:08:20 PM
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Well, we have one viable experiment with BTC. Would like to see other experiments with other assumptions and rules as well Smiley

I am just starting to work through these writings. Moire thoughts later Smiley

http://mutualist.blogspot.com/2006/01/michel-bauwens-material-on-p2p.html

One can only hope.

Btw, I have checked your community garden initiative and its very interesting. Too bad I am in Europe. Do you know of someone doing the same or interested in doing the same around South Europe? I would be willing to invest bitcoins.
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June 10, 2011, 04:35:40 PM
 #9

I don't know, but if I hear of any I will let you know. Are you hooked up with any "transition town" folks? They might be interested.
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June 10, 2011, 05:04:29 PM
 #10

I don't know, but if I hear of any I will let you know. Are you hooked up with any "transition town" folks? They might be interested.

No. But I know someone who grows his own food, so I might ask him. Its a very good idea, I really want to use my bitcoins to get food, specially if its fresh.
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June 10, 2011, 05:06:15 PM
 #11

Inflation does cause currency hoarding because the person requires to keep a higher balance in order to afford things.

I have no idea why anyone would want their currency to deprecate in value, only time when that is desirable is under a fractional reserve system when alot debt created money is circulating in the system. Bitcoins can be created in order to loan them to someone simply because they have a desire to go into debt.

A big government wants the value of currency to fall in value as it is one of their means of taxation. Inflation also causes capital gains on assets so when someone wants to sell, because of the inflation, the asset is worth more in nominal value and that % is taxed.

Someone who is a lefty will not like bitcoins as taxation would be straight forward and can not be disgusted, so if the government wanted to send aid to africa, everyone would have extra bitcoins taken from them instead of the current way where the government goes into debt to pay for the aid and everyone pays for it through inflation.

 
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June 10, 2011, 05:20:01 PM
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Quote from: lemonginger
Personally, I think the single two most important features of a libertarian socialist currency would be some kind-of decay rate/demurrage that discourages hoarding/savings/capital concentration; the inability to loan at interest (all loans in a mutualist system are generally conceived of as free); and, well, I don't know what else.

You can't stop hoarding/saving/capital-accumulation with inflation. Unless every thing is taxed, people will save. Introduce an inflation tax and people will just save some other asset. The only way to stop capital accumulation, and by extension, inequality, is to make property ownership illegal altogether.  

If that's not your goal, then your beliefs are not in line with left-libertarianism.
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June 10, 2011, 05:24:04 PM
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Someone who is a lefty will not like bitcoins as taxation would be straight forward and can not be disgusted, so if the government wanted to send aid to africa, everyone would have extra bitcoins taken from them instead of the current way where the government goes into debt to pay for the aid and everyone pays for it through inflation.

Not all the left sees taxation as necesary. The statist left does, not the anarchist left.

Quote
You can't stop hoarding/saving/capital-accumulation with inflation. Unless every thing is taxed, people will save. Introduce an inflation tax and people will just save some other asset. The only way to stop capital accumulation, and by extension, inequality, is to make property ownership illegal altogether.

The problem with not allowing property or some sort of soft-property system is that then production becomes inefficient and you just cause poverty. This is why I think some level of inequality is inevitable, while not desirable in excess.
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June 10, 2011, 05:26:31 PM
 #14

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The problem with not allowing property or some sort of soft-property system is that then production becomes inefficient and you just cause poverty. This is why I think some level of inequality is inevitable, while not desirable in excess.

Better to allow excessive inequality and reduce poverty even further. Wealth is not zero-sum. Bill Gates' success doesn't make the rest of the world poorer.
lemonginger
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June 10, 2011, 05:27:36 PM
 #15

You can't stop hoarding/saving/capital-accumulation with inflation. Unless every thing is taxed, people will save. Introduce an inflation tax and people will just save some other asset. The only way to stop capital accumulation, and by extension, inequality, is to make property ownership illegal altogether.  

Yes, of course, it just depends on what you define as property. Hence Proudhon can state that "Property is Theft" and "Property is Freedom". The definition of property in any socioeconomic system is axiomatic, you may think your definition of property is the "best" but it still rests somewhere on some assumptions you are making. There is nothing "natural" about it.

In my ideal socioeconomic system, much less can be held as private property /and/ it is recognized that private property is depriving people of their natural inheritance (ala Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice) which is okay, but people are thus due a guaranteed minimum income since they have been deprived of their natural inheritance.

But this is veering towards a discussion of left-lib/anarchism in general and not so much currency features in particular. I agree that many features could be built on top of bitcoin, what did you have in mind gigitrix?

pls ignore jprowl who clearly does not understand the libertarian or "stateless" part of anarcho-socialism/mutualism/etc
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June 10, 2011, 05:32:29 PM
 #16

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The problem with not allowing property or some sort of soft-property system is that then production becomes inefficient and you just cause poverty. This is why I think some level of inequality is inevitable, while not desirable in excess.

True, though one could, for example, think about production and consumption that occurs completely outside of a wage system for other motiviations. Just because we have built a system that rewards greed and selfishness does not mean a system can't be built that tends to discourage greed and selfishness. (Just as we have built a system that encourages externalities rather than discourages them)

Do you think that actually free markets (not the illusory free markets of today's state/corporate/capitalism) will naturally move towards more equality or do you think that other mechanisms need to be built around them hugolp?
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June 10, 2011, 05:35:41 PM
 #17

Just because we have built a system that rewards greed and selfishness does not mean a system can't be built that tends to discourage greed and selfishness.

Selfishness is a virtue.

True greed is a good thing in a capitalist system, remember in a free market there is no exchange unless both sides of the transaction benefit and agree to the transaction. This basically means you can be greedy, but you must get others to engage in trade with you on a voluntary basis.

And in order to do that, you must serve their wants and their desires.

So, by being greedy you are forced to serve others.

This isn't evil.
 
The only exception is engaging in fraud which should be dealt with harshly.
lemonginger
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June 10, 2011, 05:51:20 PM
 #18

Just because we have built a system that rewards greed and selfishness does not mean a system can't be built that tends to discourage greed and selfishness.

Selfishness is a virtue.

True greed is a good thing in a capitalist system

blah blah blah. yes which is why we are specifically talking about an anti-capitalist or non-capitalist or socialist system in this thread.


Quote
note: If you want to have a discussion about how socialism is fascism, about how left-libertarian or anarcho-socialist is an oxymoron, etc I would first advise you to get familiar with the last 200 years of anarchist theory and secondly, take it to another thread (where maybe I would be happy to discuss it, though I did that enough on all the years I spent in the politics forum at 2+2). If you troll this thread I will totally ignore you.
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June 10, 2011, 05:56:39 PM
 #19

Quote from: lemonginger
In my ideal socioeconomic system, much less can be held as private property /and/ it is recognized that private property is depriving people of their natural inheritance (ala Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice) which is okay, but people are thus due a guaranteed minimum income since they have been deprived of their natural inheritance.

If your beliefs are what you describe here, they're not left-libertarianism then. It's more like social democratic ideology, with geo-libertarian under-pinnings. Your ideal society sounds like a mixed economy.

I support absolute property ownership rights as they give a maximum incentive for creating wealth.

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If you want to have a discussion about how socialism is fascism, about how left-libertarian or anarcho-socialist is an oxymoron,

A left-libertarian currency is an oxymoron.
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June 10, 2011, 05:59:20 PM
 #20

Just because we have built a system that rewards greed and selfishness does not mean a system can't be built that tends to discourage greed and selfishness.

Selfishness is a virtue.

True greed is a good thing in a capitalist system

blah blah blah. yes which is why we are specifically talking about an anti-capitalist or non-capitalist or socialist system in this thread.


Quote
note: If you want to have a discussion about how socialism is fascism, about how left-libertarian or anarcho-socialist is an oxymoron, etc I would first advise you to get familiar with the last 200 years of anarchist theory and secondly, take it to another thread (where maybe I would be happy to discuss it, though I did that enough on all the years I spent in the politics forum at 2+2). If you troll this thread I will totally ignore you.

Except that socialism for the most part abolishes the price system, and whenever that's done, it doesn't seem to work out so great.

I don't see how you can have socialism without central planners, and if you have central planners, then you have government agents telling you what you can and can't do.

Thats not freedom.
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