[WSMDiscuss] dialectics time? Re: [REDlistserve] El Salvador looks to become first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Jun 11 06:23:30 CEST 2021

A couple of comments. First, the dilemma is put well by Sajai: the 
anti-environmental, anti-social and anti-sovereignty features of Bitcoin 
and so many other 4th Industrial Revo strategies and tactics by tech 
capital seem to overwhelm movements for justice.

     I do find some solace in the fightback, and in South Africa we are 
fortunate to have several fronts in which activists are actually winning 
against 4IR hucksters like Schwab, Musk, financial-inclusion predators, 
social-media bot PR firms, surveillance-state road privatisers, etc etc. 
Here is the huckster line <https://vimeo.com/508332538>, in a little 
teaching video for my masters students; and here 
<https://vimeo.com/508484820> are my favourite 4th Industrial Counter 

On 6/11/2021 5:25 AM, Sajai Jose via WSM-Discuss wrote:
> ... People who understand technology tend to be technophiles (as with 
> everything else, there are exceptions), and seem to always concentrate 
> on its positive side. That is to say, technology shapes their 
> attitude, as invariably happens when you engage with something much 
> bigger than you. On the other hand, those who don't understand it are 
> likely to be technophobic at some level, focusing on the negative 
> aspect [i'll admit to being one of these. that is to say, my attitude 
> to technology is shaped by my ignorance of it, just as yours is shaped 
> by your knowledge of it]. So this may be a dialogue between two people 
> with no common language, held across a chasm that possibly cannot be 
> bridged.

In such a situation, is there a dialectic possible between the thesis 
and anti-thesis? This isn't about a bridge, but a different way of 
positing the use of technology that's not rejectionist. That sort of 
solution would also attempt to end the late-capitalist distinction 
between the financialised and 'real' economies, grounding monetary 
representations - 'fictitous capital' in its paper or ether versions - 
of value properly, on the solid terrain of production. I'm not sure what 
such a socialist financial and monetary dialectic would like like. But 
with the world's stock markets still soaring - South Africa's to the 
world's highest-ever Buffett Indicator, of market capitalisation/GDP - 
while real economies like ours suffer enormously, this contradiction 
remains among the most potent.

     The same dilemma confronts anyone seeking to find ways to address 
planetary ecocide beyond the banal call for "climate action now!" - 
which leads so many ecological modernisationists into tech "false 
solutions" and zany market schemes distorted beyond recognition by 
banksters. The classical rebuttals are from the "climate justice!" camp, 
and of course are generally correct. What I'm curious, though, is 
whether a dialectical strategy can get us through this oppositional 
framing onto a new plane, by "radicalising the theses of ecological 
modernisation," as David Harvey suggested should be the strategic 
objective (in a book, /Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference 
/written 25 years ago), e.g. by internalising externalities properly, 
e.g. for the purposes of full-cost accounting to prevent extractivism, 
or for demanding environmental reparations such as climate debt 
payments. An appeal along these lines is here 

     To Frank:

> On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 3:44 AM Frank Kashner via WSM-Discuss 
> <wsm-discuss at lists.openspaceforum.net 
> <mailto:wsm-discuss at lists.openspaceforum.net>> wrote:
>     ...
>     Everyone on this list should become familiar with Bitcoin.  It
>     will be considered as important an invention as the Internet
>     itself.  While it does not change the distribution of wealth at
>     the top, it offers people at the middle and bottom ways to send
>     money home quickly and cheaply, a “banking system” that does not
>     require banks, and, for those who can save anything, a way to
>     escape hyper-inflation. When the Venezuelan military confiscates
>     mining equipment, they then re-install and operate it themselves.
>     At minimum, Bitcoin is replacing gold as a store of value, despite
>     its wild price fluctuations... While many people associated with
>     Bitcoin can be characterized as Libertarian Conservatives, there
>     is room and need for Libertarian Socialists to find ideological
>     footing.
These features are worrying. If progressives do ever get hold of a 
wretched state - Peru?! - that must immediately impose capital controls 
to prevent the unpatriotic bourgeoisie's drainage of wealth, then 
Bitcoin holders will be at the vanguard of our enemies' economic 
sabotage. The prospect of a left takeover of a state seems very remote 
in my neck of the woods, Southern Africa; only for brief moments have 
radicals had any influence on any post-colonial economic policies before 
neo-colonialism set in. But we did learn something from a recent - 
late-2017 - encounter with Bitcoin under circumstances of a coup next 
door in Zimbabwe, below.

     Maybe for "libertarian" socialists - perhaps Chomsky is the best 
known to self-describe like this - that's just no big deal, a 
"whatever." But if you want to halt an immediate destruction of an 
economy - and a society that has become dependent on a capitalist 
currency - while one engages in some form of state reform or state 
smashing or whatever you see fit in the circumstances, then Bitcoin will 
be a serious barrier to your success, not so?

     Here's how I tried to work this through on another list:

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	Re: [marxmail] Bitcoin
Date: 	Thu, 27 May 2021 19:38:27 +0200
From: 	Patrick Bond <pbond at mail.ngo.za>
To: 	marxmail at groups.io

On 5/27/2021 4:59 PM, Michael Meeropol wrote:
> ... I would guess that the reason people are "playing at" investing in 
> these things is because it LOOKS like another one of those get rich 
> quick schemes --- and as with ponzi schemes, the first ones through 
> the door make out like bandits (that was the idea behind the CHAIN 
> LETTERS that were "popular" in the 1960s!)

With you on the critique Michael. But there's more to it, including a 
dematerialized "hedge" function for this bogus money, which is 
relatively unique as far as I can tell: c/yber-currencies as vehicles 
for international capital flight/.

We got a sense of how serious this can be in November 2017 when in 
Harare, Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe was overthrown in a coup. Bitcoin 
activity soared 
as the local rich folk (very nervous as many had gotten wealthy through 
his patronage corruption) took record amounts of their local funding 
into the ether - and out of Harare.

Here in South Africa - considered in 2019 to be the world's main 
cybercurrency casino 
- we have one of the world's most corrupt 
bourgeoisies, with profound deep-racist/patriarchal sources of profit 
such as the migrant labor system, running an incredibly carbon-addicted 
economy (behind only Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic in 
emissions/GDP/person). So none of these elites give a damn about the 
terrible ecological implications of cyber-currency gambling, given how 
much energy is utilised in Bitcoin mining and blockchain computations.

There is, though, the notable recent case of Elon Musk - raised in 
Johannesburg - becoming aware of the hypocrisy of the CO2-guzzling 
Bitcoin paying for Teslas, so he canceled that offer, crashing the 
Bitcoin price by more than a third. Ah, I see that two days ago he tried 
to rescue 
his dogecoin by pretending it's ok to keep the mining going but with a 
bit more renewable power.

These damn gamblers...

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