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Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is any form of money/currency compatible with anarchism?

+6 votes
Is it possible to have without conflicting with the opposition to hierarchy? Someone with more money could use it as a means to assert domination over you or hire others to do the same. But it's also an effective means to distribute resources. Is trade & barter considered a form of currency?

Also, how do you think resources can be distributed without any form of currency, where everything is held in common? Not saying you should know, just looking for ideas.
asked Jan 22, 2012 by anonymous
sorry, there should be a "currency" somewhere in that first sentence
Cryptocurrency is compatible with anarchism due primarily to it's de-centralized nature.
I'd like to concur with simply-dot on this one, and violently reject dotnetspec's appeal to secret-currency as an anarchist tool.

The concept of 'having' is an abstraction.  It indicates some sort of timeless quality about both the possessor and the possesee, a timelessness that is absent from this time saturated existence, and even the dichotomy of possession is to my mind false.  It is only when conceiving of oneself in terms of the things one 'has' that measurement and quantification become possible.  It is in this quantification and measurement that you can see the tendency of this mindset to reduce unique entities, by mediating them through the concept of 'value', to equivalent, quantifiable 'stuff'.
This reduction and quantification, this self-destructive striving for timelessness I see as inherent in this measurement of the world, is antithetical to my anarchy.  I want less mediation, more immediacy, more real connections with people, with nature, with the totality of actual experience.

Or at least I say I do.  What I actually seem to want is more Pok√©mon, but thats just a personal daemon.
us gamers will have a hard time atr. maybe we can make pokemon by hand for you? a themed easter egg hunt seems do-able.

@shinmin: so when the IRS comes knocking on your door you tell them 'The concept of 'having' is an abstraction' and they leave you alone?

bitcoin is traded on the stock exchange (which now even has futures markets on them), and purchased and valued in dollars, completely still tied into the state and capitalism...also, the "mining" uses tons of electricity...electricity generated by businesses and states for profit in dollars....not to mention the problems created by the need for even more electricity.

on top of that, the government officially taxes barter transactions and local currency (something i once got involved with until i realized the same mindset occurs in local currencies as it does in capitalism) transactions, so something purchased or sold in bitcoins still will get taxed by the state, and the state tracks the capitals gains/losses made from sales of bitcoins which feed into the tax/monetary system.

all this says to me...no, not compatible at all with anarchy.

and you can easily find ways to not have the irs knocking at your door.
@dotnetspec You know full well that isn't what I'd say, nor that if I said it that they would leave me alone.  But that isn't relevant to whether or not 'having' is an abstraction, or that worrying about what you 'have' is self destructive. Pretty feeble stuff.
@shinmin: crypto (disclaimer: in theory) enables you to say nothing to them and for them to have nothing to 'pin' on you. That's quite important if you're serious about surviving outside the system. Talking about 'having' as an abstraction when others have risked a great deal and committed a lot of time and energy to give us an alternative to the banking system is 'pretty feeble stuff'.

@bornagain: Bitcoin (BTC) is a currency and can be bought and sold in multiple currencies including other cryptos. If I buy/sell it for Monero and use it to buy whatever I want or accept it as payment in my business am I 'tied into the state and capitalism'?

On the mining side I honestly believe the electricity costs will go down over time, especially when compared to our existing systems with offices, employees etc.

Of course the State will tax anything and everything to perpetuate and advance itself. The question is can we resist it? I would rather try without a bank account that, currently, we are largely dependent on.

Transactions can be obfuscated (disclaimer: apparently). That's even before we get into Monero etc.

It's true that if we don't listen to people like Andreas Antonopoulos this technology could well have nothing to do with anarchy. But if we take heed of the dangers, use P2P apps like Bisq and encourage the use of 'cloak coins' like Monero it could have everything to do with anarchy.

If 'you can easily find ways to not have the irs knocking at your door' most people aren't aware of them because there's a very high submission rate to the requirement to file returns. Even if you get away with it for some time it remains a lurking concern in the background. The more you make the greater the concern which is disincentivizing.

Apologies to dot for the many links. If you don't find them useful please let me know why...

dns, i don't find the links (or cryptos) useful, because i do not want a monetized life. i don't want a different money system. i don't want a business. i don't want to buy from businesses.

and while i don't avoid it (money) completely right now, i have no interest in perpetuating the ideology of life in economic terms.

yes, the more you make, the more you risk the irs knocking....which is why i make as little as i possibly can to easily avoid it....while still living as healthily and happily as i can. i don't want incentives to make more money.

@dns I don't need or want 'an alternative to the banking system' that is just another banking system; I want to move away from the idea of 'the economy' altogether.  Like @bornagainanarchist says, there is very little you need to interact with money when you start trying to systematically limit your contact with the economy (not that I currently do a very good job of it).  You don't seem to be able to comprehend the idea that someone genuinely dislikes the modern, transactional mode of interaction.  I'm not interested in anarchy because I want lower taxes and bigger pay-checks; I want to question the way I interact with others, the world, and myself in order to be more genuine, honest, and joyful.  Fucking around with computers to get weird internet money I understand even less than fiat money doesn't fill me with joy, and neither do any of the commodities I can buy with it.
I stopped worrying about making the whole world an anarchic place a while back, and to be honest I've been a lot happier since then.  Now I concentrate on creating anarchy around me whenever I can.  I'm not much good, but I've got plenty of time to practice.

nodding my head with very similar feelings and thoughts, skyline....

i don't feel all that great at it (creating anarchy) either much of the time, but i do get enjoyment out of trying.
i too agree with much of what you said there, sky. perhaps the last paragraph most of all.
an anarchist currency may be a commonly valued resource. For example, some hierarchical societies in the past used wheat as a form of currency because it's so heavily produced and useful to anyone with the technology to turn it into food.

I guess you could argue that in an internet society, bitcoins are valuable to everyone, but all people can't be on the internet all of the time, only some of them can be on the internet some of the time. Gamers await the singularity?
@all: Appreciate your comments. It's entirely a personal choice, of course, if you want to engage less with the system and the economy. For me anarchy is all about choice and freedom. I simply object to the removal of choice in the current system as we are all forced to finance the State and use it's hogtied financial system. That is an immediate, pressing, 'real world' problem we all confront on a daily basis and I believe that counter economics is a way to provide an alternative for those, like me, who still want to live a monetized life (even if that perspective has it's flaws).

I used to work in IT so it's easier, perhaps, for me to get my head around the whole crypto issue. Perceiving the advantages and attempting to help others see them is creating anarchy for me. I completely understand your suspicions and they're not unfounded. The potential for it becoming just another centralized system is real. There's no point in jumping from the frying pan into the fire. There's no reason to accept something that we don't properly understand.

I think it would be very hard to create a social system without value transfer of some kind and a flexible and autonomous option like crypto, used properly, is a good alternative in my opinion.

I agree about being happier and enjoying whatever you're doing. If you find crypto depressing then, fair enough, leave it alone. Personally I'm a lot happier knowing I have a store of value that can be transferred but can't be touched by the State and knowing there are many others in a similar position.
dns: while i disagree with your perspective, i appreciate your ability to express it. especially in the face of clear opposition.

i myself had a rather lengthy career in software development; i can wrap my head around cryptocurrencies just fine. they have no place in my desired world, but they obviously have a place in yours. i would caution your optimism about the state not being able to touch it, and about decentralization being some panacea.

as i said in one of my first comments on this topic: while i personally have no use for cryptocurrency, i think there could be some more liberatory uses for the blockchain network technology that underlies cryptocurrencies, if they can find a better solution for proof of work.

@funky: there's a struggle going on right now between the State and crypto. Here's one typical example. I'm optimistic about the possibilities but realistic about what we're up against. We're in an era in which the vast majority of people unquestioningly bow to the 'law'. Crypto won't dig us out of that mindset on it's own. It's a tool to assist people who don't depend totally on fiat to survive (great, if you can do it). Personally I need value exchange in my life and I don't want to go through the fiat system to do it.

When it comes to social systems/philosophies etc. nothing is a panacea. It's what we think will work best for most people, most the time, including our own intuitions (I'm not a utilitarian). Centralization implies authority and authority implies delegated violence. Hence my preference for de-centralization which implies personal responsibility - not a panacea.

Yes, blockchain is a significant new technology on the scene. Again just a tool. How it's used is key.

@nihilist: my mobile phone is on every waking moment. I'm not unusual. That makes 'internet money' far more accessible than fiat cash for e.g.

It's a good reason to make the Internet accessible to everyone, not to neglect the potential for crypto, especially when compared to alternatives such as wheat.

@dotnetspec  Echoing what others have said, thank you for your continued calm and -mostly- considered engagement with the topic.  Its refreshing to have what I would credit as actual conversations with people I disagree with.  On the internet, no less.

However there are some things I would like to point out.  "It's a good reason to make the Internet accessible to everyone".  This statement contains many assumptions.  First, whenever technological 'progress' is talked about, it tends to be talked about like it is some magic gift arising from nothing.  But of course there is much that must be done to bring about the 'advance' of greater, more open access to the internet.

Your proposal has already presupposed industrial scale mining, manufacturing, and all the periphery processes that go along with these enterprises.  Indeed, the increased availability of the internet presupposes an increase in the scale and scope of these projects, to account for populations rise and 'resource pool' dry up.  Aside from the drastic environmental impact of these practices, it also seems to contradict what you say about anarchy being about 'choice and freedom'; I can guarantee you that no-one works in a mine out of genuine freewill and desire, but because of coercion, immediate or systemic/economic.  Any exceptions to this would almost certainly only prove my point further.  I don't know about you, but I don't like the fact that so many toil in mines.  Besides, the fewer mines there are, the smaller the chance of me ending up working in one, which suits me just fine.

What really is the nature of the internet?  What is its impact?  Now there is a dramatic and wide reaching sociological question that I can't answer.  But I would certainly lean more to the side of the internet being a pacifying agent of control, rather than a tool of liberation.  What is the internet most commonly used for?  Porn, social media, and searching -mostly for porn or social media-.  No matter how freaky the porn you watch is, its pretty hard to portray it as liberatory, for you, or anyone else; not bad -because I reject that category- but not liberatory.  Both porn and social media are addictive by design, indeed arguably by definition; anyone with even the mildest of addiction issues with know that addiction is the exact opposite of freedom.  Additionally, how is most of the internet monetized? What is plastered on every website? Advertisements; a form of monetization that relies on non-conscious manipulation, and so encourages the exact opposite of free individuals. Even an ad-blocker is not a catch-all solution, as they have to be constantly updated, and can't deal with crypto-ads, sponsored content, or manipulative content -such as every news report, barring none-.  You should notice that the manipulative tools of the internet are for sale, and as such those currently powerful hold greater leverage to further their own agendas using the internet.  Hiding abstracted-value-tokens from the gubment doesn't address these issues.  I don't see how providing powerful interests direct access to more people's phones and pockets is particularly liberatory.

Now the problems with currency expressed by most of the people here have little to nothing to do with the fact that they are visible and accessible by the government.  An economic system is an economic system.  The fact that rich people have the best opportunity to make money is a problem not addressed by hidden-money.  The fact that money objectifies and abstracts value judgements is a problem not addressed by crypto-currency.  That almost everything within a value-exchange society becomes framed as a transaction, from relationships with people to nature, is a problem not addressed by code-dollars.  

To my mind, trying to use crypto-currency as a tool to create anarchy from and in our current situation is kind of like trying to use a bandage to treat a case of poisoning.

Trying to use crypto-currency to create anarchy would need an immense amount of energy. To create the immense amount of energy needed for it, there'll likely need to be a lot of exploitation to maintain or produce more energy to maintain it.

I'm sure the people doing the dirty work and others that have to deal with all the byproducts and filth of producing this massive amount of energy will be down so a handful of people can create and hoard internet bucks. ;)

@human I agree but... why comic sans?  I'm not angry, just disappointed.


The Internet is a powerful technology for people all over the world to communicate, share and refine their ideas about freedom. We need to leverage it to the full now because anti-freedom forces are constantly trying to think up new ways to get the general population behind censoring it.

You appear to be saying that by sending a crypto transaction (or encouraging it's use generally) I am somehow committing people to a lifetime of slavery in coal mines! I don't mind addressing the environmental impact argument but I won't be losing any sleep over those who 'toil in mines' because I want to effectively by-pass the State. I don't want to sidetrack into the environment right here but 2 nuclear power stations are running in Japan post-Fukushima instead of 50. If you're so concerned about people working in mines and power generation have a look into that. 

You appear to be saying that by looking forward to the possibility of making the Internet accessible to everyone I contradict myself on anarchy being about 'choice and freedom'. Where exactly is the contradiction?

It doesn't matter how much porn and social media rubbish is on the Internet. So long as it enables people like us to share our ideas it's a net gain. Addiction is not the exact opposite of freedom. If someone wants to be addicted to something it's their choice. Who am I to tell them what to do? Freedom includes the freedom to be foolish so long as no-one else is physically harmed in the process.

You and I have been subjected to 'non-conscious manipulation' our whole lives. Has it worked? I agree we should be aware and vigilant regarding what big corporations are up to (YouTube censorship for e.g.), but that isn't an argument for reducing our use of the Internet. Quite the opposite. We need to pursue our agenda using all the technology that's available because what we're saying has far more impact and significance than anything the suited corporate drones can come up with despite all their money and PR.

"Hiding abstracted-value-tokens from the gubment doesn't address these issues" - it's not intended to. It addresses the issue that being forced to use government issued fiat to pay tax to feed that same government is almost impossible to otherwise avoid without, in some form, withdrawing from ordinary life. When you're marginalized economically it's much easier to marginalize your ideas.

"I don't see how providing powerful interests direct access to more people's phones and pockets is particularly liberatory." I agree. That's why we use the blockchain for de-centralized control of the technology we use with these devices. Use Steemit instead of Facebook. Use DTube instead of YouTube. Use Bisq instead of Kraken etc.

Perhaps 'most people here' are not paying a lot of income tax (I'm not either). However, we're all paying consumer and corporate taxes (indirectly) and all that tax is used by the State to re-create and extend itself.

'Bash the rich' plays right into the hands of Statists. Dragging everyone down to the lowest common denominator doesn't advance freedom. Be charitable and kind if you want to be, but having the choice is key. What keeps that guy stuck down a mine shaft is not energy requirements, it's the ideas in his head handed down through carefully designed and controlled State run education and media. Does he know about Thorium reactors? Probably not. Without the Internet neither would I.

This question then could have been 'is any form of value-exchange society compatible with anarchism?' It's related but needs it's own thread because personally I can't imagine what a society outside of 'value-exchange' would look like. If we accept an alternative 'money currency' I suggest crypto presents exciting possibilities. I say this because I see it giving real world opportunity to ignore the State, which for me is what anarchy is all about. Otherwise you're talking about a world that's too remote for me (I accept not for you perhaps).

Crypto fits the bill perfectly. If we take the time to understand it and use it in a way that is compatible with anarchist ideals (if we accept value-exchange as included, I appreciate you don't).

@human: what is your data source for this idea that crypto would require an 'immense amount of energy'? 

There would be less 'exploitation' if we embraced technology instead of looking backwards and worrying about 'toiling in mines'.

They wouldn't be so 'down' if they bought some crypto of their own ... as long as they don't have to hand the proceeds over to the State if they happen to make a profit ...


Coal isn't the only thing mined... you know that right?  To manufacture the equipment to sustain the modern world metals need to be mine, plastics manufactured etc. all very labour intensive.  Working in factories; not fun.  Everyone has a choice to not work, sure, but for the vast majority of the planet that choice is work or starve; not a massively free one. The products we use to access the internet are the product of coercion, ecocide, imperialism; the items we use and engage with are formed from congealed violence.  This is not a moral judgement, its just a fact.

You talk about the government using money gained from taxes to re-create itself, and so expand. Kinda sounds like profit reinvestment  How are corporations any different from the state?  If you say that companies are 'voluntary' whilst the gubment is 'coercion', for the vast, vast majority of the world's population you are saying the 'choice' between working for companies and starvation is the extent of freedom that most people can expect.  That wouldn't satisfy me, just so you know.  And by that standard I don't have to live inside of a country and interact with the cops and a 'hogtied economic system', I can just go sit on a rock in international waters and starve to death.  Freedom!

The 'freedom' and 'choice' you talk about is such a narrow read of the idea of freedom it baffles me.  Freedom to be addicted, addiction being losing a certain capacity of self control to a substance or behaviour?  What are you talking about?  There is definitely a problem with thinking about addiction as involving no free choice or agency, but you have got to be joking.  You aren't, though.

The fact that the most radical society you can even envision is a society with lower taxes -despite the existence of many groups and societies in the past -and the present!- that have no currency shows the depths of your anarchy.  @dot answers the original question very well, and linked to the wikipedia page for 'The Gift', a book by a 20th century anthropologist about the importance of gift giving in past societies.  I've not read it, but if you want to broaden you conceptual range to include things that aren't just this society but with lower taxes, you might want to give it a go.

dns: "I used to work in IT so it's easier, perhaps, for me to get my head around the whole crypto issue. Perceiving the advantages and attempting to help others see them is creating anarchy for me."

i worked in IT (called MIS in my earliest days) for over 25 years, so a lack of computer background has nothing to do with me rejecting cryptocurrency....if anything, my experience in the computing world has made me even more antagonistic toward seeing technology as freeing.

like skyline, the only kind of "economy" i desire revolves around the idea of the gift. some of the references i gave you describe gift economy.

your tendency to say "we need to....." doesn't sound anarchic to me. like in your statement (one among many): "We need to pursue our agenda using all the technology that's available...".  who do you mean by "we"? and what "agenda"? who agreed on an agenda?

i view "we need to" statements as more in line with authoritarian thinking - where someone knows "the solution" that all of "us" need to follow. in other words, don't include me in your "we".

@bornagainanarchist Fuck I missed that normative statement thing... good point

@bornagain: I appear to have lost your references but I looked up the Wiki (perhaps you can indicate how much confidence you have in the Wiki as an overview?). It's new to me so I won't comment at this point other than to notice it states 'The event [Burning Man] forbids commerce'. How is that enforced?

I agree with you about working in IT. Getting paid by corporates etc. to advance their agendas isn't freeing at all. But when you have more time to look at IT that can be used for positive purposes, encryption for privacy for e.g., I believe there is another side to it.

You're right - I should have said 'I suggest'.

dns, i didn't mean my working in IT didn't feel freeing - of course it didn't, but if i meant that, i just as easily could have referred to my work in a warehouse or fast food joint - i meant to respond to your comment about your ease in getting your mind around cryptocurrency because of your IT experience, and that my lack of computer knowledge is not why i don't want it. 

my experience in the computer industry (as well as daily experiences in my life with other people in relation to computers/screens) has led me to view computers/screens as mostly not freeing, not creating more anarchy - not because of the work aspect of of it (that occurs in any work as i see it).

@sky: we're going from energy to mining to manufacturing in general. Whether the Internet actually derives from 'congealed violence' is surely a topic for another thread?

The State itself is clearly violently coercive. It doesn't like to present itself in that way, of course, and works hand in glove with corporations so that when we're not kowtowing to the latest State regulations directly we're indirectly kowtowing to the latest directives from bosses at work. But we [by 'we' I mean society at large] can leave the corporations (for those who really can't I regret their circumstance, but not being clear about my relation to work isn't going to help them). Seems like others on this site have done it. We can't just not co-operate with the State unless we want to invite violence into our lives. That's not (yet) the case with the corporations, although I agree they can be coercive. It's difficult enough asking people to recognize the violently coercive nature of the State, despite it being patently obvious. Once that's clearly established it's easier to move on to issues of corporate coercion (which is generally more economically based). That 'standard' doesn't satisfy me either, but the distinction between what is perceived generally as the moral authority to use violence to enforce the State's will and the powers available to a corporation is important.

What is your solution to the problem of addiction?

Where have I suggested 'lower taxes'? A straw man. I have suggested no taxes. Zero. What has that got to do with societies with no currency?

Generally there is resistance to the clear recognition of a simple reality - the violently coercive nature of the State. Whilst gifting may, one day, be a more enlightened way in which we interact I believe the more pressing concern is those elements who consider they have the moral authority to rob me, and everyone else, at gunpoint to fund whatever schemes they deem righteous, including wars and the expansion of their own extortion racket. It's a long way from 'gifting'.
dns, "gifting" happens every day....with friends, family, strangers.

the difference perhaps in how you look at anarchy and myself (and probably the others on this site where you find disagreement) comes from a perceived "future world" on your part, versus creating anarchy in life today. i don't look to a globe of gifting in the future....i want to remove economic thinking and relating from my life (as much as i can) today in my relationships with other people, the land/air/water, the creatures of this earth....

i agree with you about the reluctance of most people to acknowledge the violent and coercive nature of the state....

but i don't seek to convince or reason with people in an attempt to get them to see that by providing some alternative "society".....i seek to relate to them in non-economic, non-authoritative terms....sometimes that means i resist or attack, sometimes that means i give or receive without economic consideration.
This thread has a pleasing Sisyphean nature to it

dns, mining and extracting rare earth minerals like that shit in your link will turn the area into a wasteland. Plus, someone has got to do it. I'm sure all the people that lived in areas that had a lot of rare earth metals and minerals wouldn't be okay with turning their home into a wasteland so someone somewhere else can create and hoard internet bucks. Same point.

shinminmetroskyline, i don't understand why people dislike comic sans much other than it can be annoying to read. I was reading this funny article that claimed hating comics sans was ableism lolols

for the a101 record.....i love comic sans.... :)

skyline....sisyphean.....i hadn't heard this word before....but i like it too.....and yes, this thread feels sisyphean!

bornagain ugh!
also, last week's anews podcast (#54) editorial referenced your eprime post, bornagain. if you don't listen to that. it was about language.

dns: decentralization does not in any way imply "personal responsibility", not sure where you get that from.

"That makes 'internet money' far more accessible than fiat cash "

state-backed currency is every bit as internet accessible and usable (for most non-techies, i'd say more so) as cryptocurrencies, what are you talking about?

i doubt anyone here has disputed your claims that the state is violent and coercive, nor your claims that many/most in mainstream society don't generally see it that way. what has been disputed is that your monetized, capitalist world could possibly exist without the state. 


"There would be less 'exploitation' if we embraced technology instead of looking backwards and worrying about 'toiling in mines'."

holy shit! that statement speaks volumes. 

"state-backed currency is every bit as internet accessible and usable (for most non-techies, i'd say more so) as cryptocurrencies, what are you talking about?"

correction: fiat currency is WAY more common than internet currency, hence way more accessible and usable. Right now a single bitcoin is worth thousands of dollars, and even though you can buy fractions of bitcoins, they are useful in much fewer places.

@other folks: the point i was trying to make about work and the internet is that aside from the environmental impacts, it requires an incredible amount of TIME to maintain, and that time must be hierarchically organized...once the miners get a taste of the video game action and lulz of the internet, it's going to be harder to keep them in the mines without some threats and punishments.

thanks dot, for telling me about the anews podcast that referenced my eprime post....i didn't know about the podcast before....i'll check it out.

despite saying in the post above that i don't seek to convince people of anything, it still feels good to know someone has listened to what i said and found it thought-provoking. :)

@all: does anyone else get "Could not establish database connection. Please check the username, password and hostname in the config file, and if necessary set up the appropriate MySQL user and privileges."? It's happening intermittently without any changes at my end. I searched for a thread but there is no match. Thanks.

@bornagain: we might be gifting with strangers (in my case unknowingly), but our economic dependencies (shelter, bills etc.) require value exchange in life today. We [as in society generally] can only get what we want if we change something (unless entirely satisfied with status quo). Crypto represents an improvement in the unfair value exchange system we currently have if it's used properly.

Giving and receiving is economic consideration

@human: If you can so easily dismiss the potential of a technology like Thorium as simply 'that shit in your link' then I see why you will miss the potential for crypto. We're having this conversation because of cheap, accessible technology and energy. I suggest you don't buy into elite narratives that try to convince you that's a bad thing. Nobody has to mine if the nuclear reactors are being utilized.

If people only ever create and hoard internet bucks they will be worth nothing. There's a lot of speculation currently but it's based on a potential future use-value (which won't be there for many altcoins, but a few important ones will emerge and be exchanged for value).

Not everyone just submits to corporate pressure.

@funky: De-centralization implies greater personal responsibility for e.g. if a market is de-regulated and there is no central State oversight, as a consumer I will need to make more effort to ensure I don't get conned. Perhaps there's another thread on this or you could start one?

I meant that if I wanted to send you a donation for e.g. and I was on a bus I could do it immediately with crypto via my mobile phone. With fiat much more troublesome, expensive and crucially centralized (e.g. PayPal). What if the State orders PayPal not to allow you to receive donations because of your political beliefs? This 'gift' donation is one way in which a "monetized, capitalist world could possibly exist without the state". Why should the State be the arbiter of whether or not I 'gift' you? If I take personal responsibility for my money and cut the centralized State out of the equation you and I can decide how we want to express our value relations without having that expression censored into conformity with the banking elites. Is that a possibility worth contemplating? I think so.

Are nuclear engineers more or less 'exploited' than those 'toiling in mines'?

dns: "Giving and receiving is economic consideration"

i don't agree.  

and i have no interest in using cryptocurrencies, no matter how you promote them.

"Are nuclear engineers more or less 'exploited' than those 'toiling in mines'?"

Perhaps. To me having a cushy desk job would be worse than getting payed an okay salary to do manual labor, of course depending on other factors. I think it's a miserable trick for system to convince people that they will be happy if they can make it to that "reputable" high paying job in an office. I've already given myself a semi-permanent back injury from sitting too much.
@bornagain: what's important about anarchy, as I understand it, is that neither of us, ultimately, is going to attempt to use a coercive State apparatus to impose what we might think is 'right' on the other. That's a far more important principle than whatever expedient tools we might promote or use to improve our world. I'll use it, you won't. No problem.

@nihilist: Agreed. The idea that you've somehow 'made it' by committing yourself to 30+ years inside a cubicle is obviously programmed via social conditioning and 'education'. A mental prison cell. I'll decide who I am and am not 'exploited' by and I don't need an 'authority' to 'protect' me from it (as if that was really ever possible anyway).

dns, in an anarchist society a group will have to mine thorium, extract it and enrichit, and mine uranium, extract it, and also enrich it because without uranium a thorium reactor is useless. Then there'd need to be people to build and maintain the facility to house the reactor and the infrastructure and grid and so many more things more than a person sitting in a chair. You really believe that that is remotely possible without hierarchy, exploitation, and turning the area into a wasteland, so people elsewhere can make & hoard internet bucks. Or maybe you haven't really thought it through...

"The coconut revolution" documentary doesn't help your case. If you watched it, you'd notice the people that lived there weren't down with the capitalist at the approval of the state, turning their home into a giant wasteland from mining any further. 

Anyways, I haven't seen you write how anarchism is compatible with internet bucks and this repetitive discussion
 is giving me gas. I don't think you've convinced anyone tbh

@human: an anarchist society isn't the end of work, but it is the end of violent coercion by a monopoly. My point was that using Thorium would reduce the negatives for whoever chose to work in that environment and make power (whatever we decide to do with it) much cheaper for the rest of society. I have thought it through and my conclusion is I suggest that would be a good thing.

My 'case', with regards to the film, was just about submitting to corporate pressure and I felt, given the discussion, you and/or others might be interested in it. Not saying it's wrong, I just don't understand your statement about 'down with the capitalist at the approval of the state'(?).

If you haven't seen anything I've already written about how I believe not being forced to use the State's financial apparatus to mediate all economic activity is useful to an anarchist then you've simply not looked.

I don't particularly expect to 'convince'. Add a another perspective to the debate perhaps.

dns: "what's important about anarchy, as I understand it, is that neither of us, ultimately, is going to attempt to use a coercive State apparatus to impose what we might think is 'right' on the other. That's a far more important principle than whatever expedient tools we might promote or use to improve our world."

yes, i agree.

"neither of us, ultimately, is going to attempt to use a coercive State apparatus to impose what we might think is 'right' on the other. That's a far more important principle ..."

i agree with the first sentence. however, based on that and everything else you have said, i think there is a major difference in principles. for you, the principle is "no state apparatus". my corresponding principle might be "no authoritarian/coercive apparatus of any sort". capitalism (as well as communism and any other form of institutional economics) is another such apparatus; which happens to be co-dependent with the state. so is institutional religion. so is industrial technology. on and on.  

i would also point out that for many anarchists, means and ends are integrally related, and so using any available tools - even ones that create and promote authoritarian relations, like economics - to reach one's goals might in fact be contrary to one's principles. 

my primary issue with your perspective, once again, is your myopic view that the state is the single authoritarian, coercive institution, and it is the sole enemy of liberatory desires. i find that view limiting, naive and severely problematic from an anarchist perspective.

that is why in my view there cannot possibly be a single, "best" way for all individuals to live. yet the continued pursuit of exactly that is probably the most prevalent source of authoritarian behavior in the modern human world.

i agree with funky@ here, dns, but more to the point, i wonder why you continue this conversation? perhaps i'm impatient or missing something, but you don't seem to be listening at all. there are fundamental disagreements with your analysis, and you just want to continue talking about what could be called the symptoms of the problem...

that said, i'm not interested in a back and forth with you, as sisyphus is not my favorite role play. so, carry on, i guess...

well said, funky.

dns, while i agreed with your comment about not using coercive state apparatuses....i completely disagree with your assertion that cryptos somehow don't involve the state and the economic system, and as funky pointed out, the same authoritarian ideology.

as dot said, you don't seem to even acknowledge the major disagreements most people here (in various different ways of expression) have pointed out....you seem to just keep on selling with no buyers....

okay, now i feel done with this discussion....ready for an intriguing question.

@ funky: where have I said that "the state is ... the sole enemy of liberatory desires."? A straw man. 

@dot. That's partly why I continue the conversation. No one likes to be mis-represented. "Fundamental disagreements" are a reason to continue a discussion, not end one. Unless the only purpose for a forum is as a place to re-assure oneself of being 'right'. I have been trying to address the issue of value exchange because it appears to be fundamental to this question. I didn't raise the mining, energy or 'self-destructive striving for timelessness' issues. If I wasn't listening I wouldn't be addressing the issues that people are raising. Are you listening to what I'm saying because, so far, there's a lot of agreement about things I never said?

@bornagain: my assertion is not that "cryptos somehow don't involve the state and the economic system". Of course they do. I'm saying that for crypto to assist in enabling anarchic relations ('gifting', free economy etc.) crypto needs to be understood and used in a way that keeps it true to it's intended purpose - functioning outside the State. I believe it is possible if it's understood and used correctly (the best example I can think of currently is Monero, but there will be/are others). Of course the State will attempt to co-opt cryptos and bring out 'StateCoin' of some kind and try and sell it as 'revolutionary' and 'freeing' etc., in which case I suggest that kind of crypto should be rejected.

If you want to insist that whatever I say about crypto misses the point because I don't understand what 'value' fundamentally is then I would suggest it will remain exactly the same thing that it has been for thousands of years and I'm happy to agree to disagree on that point.

dns, okay, one more shot at this.

i don't say you miss the point because you don't understand what 'value' fundamentally is.

i say you miss the point that some people do not desire relations based on numerical value exchange.

'gifting', as i mean it, implies a lack of value exchange, not a different mechanism to facilitate or measure it.

i say gifting functions outside the economic and state systems. you say that gifting is economic consideration.

you said that cryptos do involve the state and economic systems. but you also say the original intent is to function outside the state.

so you want to work with a value exchange system that currently involves the state and its economic system, in an attempt to move it outside of the state/economic system.

i want to do something fundamentally different.....relate in a way that the state and economic systems do not recognize. already outside of it. without monetary consideration.

i think you haven't listened because i haven't heard you recognize this difference. yeah, you want to pursue other currencies, and i don't, on this we agree. but the deeper difference lies in a way of relating.  no big deal. i don't want to convince you to relate the way i do. but i don't see the point of further discussion if we can't even agree about what we don't agree about.

the "fundamental" difference, i think, comes down to our desires. i don't see it as a matter of "rightness". i can see how a disagreement about methods could act as a starting point for more exploration, if we thought we desired the same thing. but if the main difference comes down to one of differing desires and ways of relating.... then i don't see how we could discuss any methods or ways of experimenting toward those conflicting ends.

@bornagainanarchist Well said
one of the awesome things about this site is to see other people be patient and clear when i cannot. thanks ba@.

(it boggles my mind that DNS heard me say i don't think people should talk about their fundamental disagreements!)

@dot: Is 'i wonder why you continue this conversation? ... encouraging talk?

@bornagain: 'one more shot' sounds like you want to convince me of something. 
If "some people do not desire relations based on numerical value exchange" that's fine. If I want to transact for food, shelter etc. in a way that cannot be monitored and extorted by the State I need a
way to do that in this World. Is everything I need going to be 'gifted' to me? I'm not going to wait for such a state of affairs to arise and fortunately I don't need to. I'll just use crypto with other like minded people.

Cryptos involve the State insofar as the State will do everything it deems necessary to destroy an alternate financial system because it can only exist by extorting value from that system.

I recognize there can be a fundamental difference in our desires. That's ok and anyway should be reflected in whatever economic system we subscribe to. It may have appeared I wasn't listening because I believe this distinction is irrelevant to the most important and pressing issue for anarchists - the coercive, violent force of the State. Crypto is using maths to obscure the transactions (for Monero, if not Bitcoin) and thus prevents interference. It is not necessary to question/change the fundamental nature of value exchange in this process (although you can, of course, if you want). To me that's important because I don't believe most people are suddenly going to start gifting on a large scale, but some are beginning to use crypto.

Our conflicting desires are not conflicting ends when they are mediated through a value exchange system (or, I imagine, a gifting system) because neither of us is forced to interact. That's why I don't see that aspect as the problem. 

Being able to function outside of the State so that it is unable to re-create itself using value derived from our labor is the problem that I believe the original question addresses (otherwise why would we care?).

I hope that crypto becomes something more than just an experiment because it actually provides a mechanism for avoiding the State. There are many people who question how that State functions but very few who provide a mechanism for doing something about it.

I understand you don't like this particular mechanism, believe it's incompatible with anarchy and believe that gifting is a better solution. I suggest it's an improvement on what currently exists and has the potential to more effectively counter one of anarchy's biggest issues. To that extent we've already had the discussion.

this is also my last time trying to explain where our ideas differ. like every libertarian and ancap i have ever had discussions with, you seem to be convinced that there is common ground where in fact there is none. i acknowledge that we both would probably like to see a world without authoritarian relations; but there is clearly an irreconcilable difference in what we see as authoritarian.

cryptocurrencies are somewhat decentralized, but still created (mined) and controlled by a relatively small group of "privileged" specialists. sure, anyone can choose to be one of those privileged specialists (if they have the resources and skills). but anyone can also choose to run for office in the government. does that make government any less authoritarian? [preemption: that is an analogy, not a straw man. if you don't see it as a valid analogy, explain why.]

"Our conflicting desires are not conflicting ends when they are mediated through a value exchange system (or, I imagine, a gifting system) because neither of us is forced to interact. That's why I don't see that aspect as the problem. "

that demonstrates your myopic perspective. the fact that one is not forced to interact with a particular system does not mean they are not impacted by that system (in massive ways). the system you are talking about is one that requires exploitation and hoarding of resources on a global scale. the fact that someone is not forced to engage with that system does not mean they have not been dramatically impacted by it - almost always involuntarily, btw. there is ample evidence of that everywhere you look around this world.

[btw, mediation in the way you are referring to it is the antithesis of direct action, a core anarchist principle in my view.]

dot, thanks for the kind words....and your efforts toward providing this site. skyline, thanks.

dns, i don't want to convince you. i wanted to express something to you that you  seem to keep ignoring.

i don't subscribe to any economic system. "gifting", as i mean it, does not imply a "system", or "transactions".

you don't need to wait for "a state of affairs to arise"....you simply give to someone or receive something from someone without money, without adding or reducing numbers as a representation, without accumulation. you can do that at any moment, without any new technology, without monitoring by the state in any way.

you said this:

"I recognize there can be a fundamental difference in our desires." 

and your very next sentence:

"That's ok and anyway should be reflected in whatever economic system we subscribe to."

you seem to miss the point that the difference lies between desiring an economic system (you), and not desiring one (me), because you keep framing the difference as desires for different economic systems. 

without numbers, without abstract representation, without accounting, without accumulation, without constant regard for "transactions", you do not have economics.

@funky: I see the State as authoritarian. Is that common ground?

It's a non sequitur. Crypto doesn't make Government more or less authoritarian. They are two separate phenomenon. Could a group of specialists become authoritarian around particular cryptos? Yes. That would be something to look out for and avoid (by moving to another crypto for e.g.). The users of crypto have to understand how it can be transacted in a de-centralized way to avoid authoritarian centralization. Hence why I emphasize currencies like Monero and exchanges like Bisq. Using a crypto requires little skill and resources. The infrastructure/ecosystem around it may be complex. This is the same as the Internet itself. Could you or I have created Facebook? Probably not, but we know how to use it. Why aren't we having this conversation on Facebook? I've deleted my account because I consider FB to be too authoritarian and centralized. Common ground? Thanks to Dot (and others [?]) for setting up this forum we have an alternative. In the financial world we have never had an alternative to State issued fiat, until now. No matter how skilled a technologist is he/she is not going to force me at gunpoint to agree to fund his technology. Anyone who runs for office in the government is. That is the difference.

You are conflating force and impact. We're all impacted by FB's influence on the world. Friends, businesses, applications etc. use it even if we don't personally. You will have a difficult time attempting to create a world devoid of 'impact' in the broad way you define it. I limit myself, for now, to the massive task of removing violent force emanating from the entity known as the State which is so widely, deeply and unquestioningly believed in by most of the World's population. If that aspiration is too myopic and limited for you I'm sorry but I only have so much time and energy as a single, isolated individual. I will focus on the problem of being forced against my will before I turn to worrying about what other systems I may be impacted by.

Arguing about how we might voluntarily mediate our wants/needs/desires when we are faced with the actual problem of being forced to support an extortion racket is a distraction that undermines effective direct action by introducing unnecessary confusion into an issue that could otherwise be quite clear.
@bornagain: I haven't ignored what you've said about gifting. You don't see it as a 'system' at all and hence, for you, there is no place for crypto as a form of money/currency to make it compatible with anarchy because, for you, no form of money currency is compatible with anarchy (they all involve some level of transacting).

For me, money/currency is just a tool, a technology, of which crypto is just an extension. Like any other tool, how it's used is critical. Used in a de-centralized way it can help to liberate us from dependency on the State financial system. That, for me, is compatible with anarchism.

It is no different, in principle, to the gun debate. By denying yourself access to powerful tools, you're simply empowering the State because the State isn't going to relinquish those tools. There is already a massive imbalance of power against ordinary people that any notions of gifting won't even begin to address. Combating that imbalance requires every resource available to be used in a way that is compatible with anarchy (de-centralized, individually empowering). Not throwing those tools away in the hope that you can live in a world that has no economic system.
dns, your first paragraph sounds close enough to what i said for me to think you've heard me.

from the second paragraph, i understand well enough how you see it.

the last paragraph sounds like you saying how much better your perspective works compared to mine, in a condescending manner to boot, leaving me with no more interest in conversation with you on this.

 i never said "i hope to live in a world with no economic system". i said that i seek to live as much as i can (giving/receiving) outside the current economic system....something i already do on a daily basis. it has nothing to do with the chances of "the state relinquishing" anything. it has everything to do with how i want to live....now.

i don't need  the "tools" you use, because i don't desire to live the way you do....because i don't see anarchy the way you do. no problem there....but i don't need you to tell me "what is required to combat the state", what i've "empowered" or not, what i should or shouldn't throw away or "deny" myself (guns, cryptos, or anything else). thanks for providing me a clear exit point from this conversation with you.

1 Answer

+2 votes
your first sentence seems to be missing something?

first paragraph:
i think that the issue of money isn't about hierarchy - plenty of cultures have not had money and had hierarchy - the issue (i think) is more about the relationship to what we make and have. money is an abstraction. it requires a consistent quantification of stuff. if i have a loaf of bread, and you have a pile of yams, we can barter based on how important those things are to us. it might be a kind of bread that i really like a lot, but you're not so excited about. i'm arguing that money (as a concept) takes away from that, it leads to false generalizations, false equivalencies, and massificiation.

second paragraph:
what does it mean to "hold everything in common"? i don't know that i have ever heard of people working that way (depending on what you mean). but in small groups, i have heard of people distributing things based on both who provided it and who has greatest need. and gifting, of course, which entails a completely different relationship to stuff than we have (for more information look up the gift by mauss), and as stated already, trade/barter.

answered Jan 23, 2012 by dot (50,310 points)
edited Jan 23, 2012 by dot
oh im not saying that a moneyless society is guaranteed to be free of hierarchy. i guess my view is that as long as there is money or some form of currency, then someone with more of it could use it as coercion and/or establish some form of hierarchy with it.

i should have been more specific, but by "hold everything in common" i mean everyone having free access to whatever they need or possibly desire, as long as its not someones personal property (as explained by Proudhon). do you think this kind of society on a large scale is plausible, and what are some ideas on distributing resources without a form of currency? im being very presumptuous here, but it would come as no surprise if most people wanted the best quality things: the best tech devices, the best vehicles, the best exotic fruit, etc. normally, money would work to gauge how much someone wants something by how much they are willing to pay (or they just dont have the money), so what are some ideas on how this would work without a currency?

and the gift economy is a great idea, thank you!
Your assessment regarding the concept of money leads to false generalizations and equivalencies is interesting. I would say that a unit of account allows for more accurate comparison of heterogeneous goods. It certainly helps solve the problem of divisibility. For example, if all I have is a young goat, that is worth 3 hens in both of our subjective value scales, I would have to trade my whole goat to get any of your hens. If I only want 1 hen, I will have to forego the exchange with you because I cannot give you a third of a goat. Unless, I could find someone else who wants hens (2 or less) and has something else I want. Then I could trade you my goat for your 3 hens and 2 of the hens for other items from other actors. The 2 hens that I obtain for their use in indirect exchange become money. They are money because I obtained them not to use them directly, but rather to use as a medium of exchange for some other goods from a different individual.
hey, mister an-cap, you completely lost me with this sentence and I don't think it even makes any sense:

"I would say that a unit of account allows for more accurate comparison of heterogeneous goods."


dot: "plenty of cultures have not had money and had hierarchy"


which led me to think....have any cultures that had money, not had hierarchy?

none that i know of.