Beauty (Not Bitcoin) Will Save The World

by Timothy R. Sunday
File under: Fake Freedom18 Nov 2013 20:09 EST

It's been quite a past several weeks for alternative currency Bitcoin, with the shutdown of Silk Road and the arrest of its foundera hearing in front of a U.S. Senate committee, and record high values being set daily. The narrative has been set for some time now: Bitcoin is a voluntary, decentralized alternative to the corrupt banking system, with the lines being drawn between a lost generation of freedom activists and a Baby Boomer elite that seem content to leave us with zombie banks hoarding recently printed cash as a legacy. 

In truth, Bitcoin may be many things, including an opportunity to make a lot of money very quickly, but it is not an alternative to the current banking system and the social/economic class system it has spawned. In fact, the mentality that allows our banking system to continue is the same mentality that gives birth to phenomena like Bitcoin —​ the inherently materialistic belief that reality obeys the laws of finance, and not vice versa, that the financial system can be swapped out like an operating system on a computer, without any organic change in the people operating within it. 

Bankers love Bitcoin. Why wouldn't they? Who else has the money to drive this marketplace to these new highs, and win returns of absurd magnitude while the interest rate is perpetually hovering around 0%? Indeed, while the U.S. press has maintained the same faux division between the Wall Street and Bitcoin operations, Reuters has correctly reported that Bitcoin is not an opponent of, but a side scam for, the City traders.

The trader, who was not willing to be named, said he spent four hours a day on Bitcoin, describing it as his second job. He estimated 90 percent of traders have bought it, most "looking for a quick 2,000 percent".

He, however, is playing the long game, accumulating as much as possible in the belief that one day, he will own a small but significant percentage of a world currency with a fixed supply.

He and three other traders are currently seeking Bitcoin startups to invest in, he said, adding he was hoping to put in $300,000 worth.

He is not alone. Workers at Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) in London and New York have been visiting online Bitcoin exchanges as often as 30 times a day, according to documents seen by Reuters. Neither bank wanted to comment.

Employees at almost all the major international banks and numerous trading and investment firms have shown interest.

And there you have it. Bitcoin is not a cure, but a symptom of our diseased over-financialization, in which billions of dollars are lying dormant in zombie banks. Eventually, that money is going to start seeking returns. A healthy nation would take that money and invest in real economic growth, entrusting it to capable people to rebuild the myriad of ghettos that lie around us. But that would mean investing in actual people, and restoring some degree of humanity to economic judgment, discovering what a community actually needs and meeting that demand. We in Fakenation are offended by the idea of actual growth, work, vitality. Wealth is not the product of social productivity, but a mere currency. The future, it is said, lies in this currency, not the institutions and people through which it is exchanged, who are apparently secondary to the system. 

The irony of it is that this can be shown using the same exact logic by which these libertarian idealists argue against state control. It has been correctly argued that, if the state is necessary to curb the evils of human nature, how can a state composed of fallen humans ever act as a proper regulator? By the same token, if a corrupt society has produced the current financial system, how can a new financial system avoid corruption? The banking cartel welcomes opportunities to expand into new financial products, and you will be happy to sell your Bitcoins to them; so long as you still have to pay your taxes in dollars, it represents nothing more than another asset into which to export the excess of their inflationary currency.

But there is still a deeper problem with the notion of a new currency saving the world — the radical degree of alienation one must suffer to even conceive of such an idea. We all know that there are people on Wall Street that sit behind computers all day believing the digits they manipulate are actual wealth. These people are indeed envied and celebrated, they hold a large degree of power and influence in society, yet we still rightly critique them as being totally indifferent to plight of the dwindling middle class. They are small, sad people, who can only see the outer world in terms of new potential victims, and have squandered whatever legitimate gifts they may have had in a self-referential circle of monetary manipulation. They do not influence people, but operate upon them, and that is all they can do given the corruption they have accepted.

Sadly, the Bitcoiners have inherited this comfort with alienation, and even taken it to a new level. The idea that one can change the world sitting behind a computer screen can only come from somebody who has almost nobody to talk to in real life. This is not to say that they are necessarily to blame for this situation, but they should go about fixing it before they attempt to remake the currency. Secrecy, paranoia, an inveterate "us vs. them" mentality — this is the mentality of lifelong prisoners attempting to trade rations without getting caught, and not a movement for any fundamental change. In this age of lies, it is radical openness, in real life, in natural language, that is the currency least trafficked, and the only one that can restore the trust required to rebuild society. A change in economic structure will change nothing in a society of people that relate to one another like robots, nor is one even possible. 

For most users Bitcoin is the ultimate Samuel Beckett play. An expression of total dispossession and delusions of grandeur, kind of like a wonder weapon dreamt up by a dictator in the last days of war as his staff starts defecting. Like the designs of the madman who thinks that the monstrous invention of "assassination markets" is a path to a peaceful society. In this sad desperation there is at once a purely constructed vision of a new economic order and the raw pragmatism of a get rich quick scheme. To play along one must believe other dispossessed people you have never met like 'Dread Pirate Roberts' are your blood comrades in a noble struggle, while still viewing the entire endeavor as a way to finally move out of mom's basement and go out to eat at Panera Bread, or get that awkward anime girl from HS on Facebook to notice you. A stretched vision sprung from immediate deprivation. 

And like most libertarian initiatives, including 3D weapon printing and Seasteading, Bitcoin takes a science fictional plot and attempts to transcribe it literally into reality, rather than using it as inspiration for human change. This is a wider problem in American culture, but it runs particularly deep among those who have been alienated by the system, and seek a panacea in some utopian technological fix. In principle, Bitcoin is a good idea, but it is not going to change the fact that those currently with the most resources to buy it are themselves corrupt. The quality of a people ultimately determines its economic fate, contra the Marxist material determinism on which Bitcoin believers implicitly operate. 

And what of the quality? At an economic level, one can envision a new class of Bitcoin aristocracy living in the foreclosed McMansions of their oppressors, papering over the dead riches of a non-productive society by purely financial success. Money alone does not make a true aristocracy, but a pride and nobility of taste that makes life worth living. Just ask Mitt Romney, true 'Everyman'.

Yes, these are the deserts of a lifetime of financial success beyond what most of us can even dream. It is tough to get by now, so by all means invest in Bitcoin for purely financial reasons. But if you are a success, don't forget that your journey has just begun. Don't forget that you will need to find a safe neighborhood to live in, reasonable schools for any children you may plan to have, and stimulating company to keep. In sum, you will still need a society, one full of the wonder and romance appropriate to being such a grand success. Anything less is mere inflation. 

Because it is not Bitcoin, but beauty which will save the world.

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COMMENTS

Mensch says:14 Mar 2014 10:12 EDT
Bravo! What an article.
George says:08 Dec 2013 8:46 EST
The only thing that will save the world, is to remove the human beings and their passion to destroy not only
themselves but the world they live in.

We are a dangerous breed.
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