Sunday, December 5, 2010
Yet, there is one thing that stuck out for me in Fleischacker's analysis (I have to state that I have not read any of his books) is the assumption that there is a seperation between markets (economics) and politics (politicians); that somehow the market exists without the political influence of the state. I am not sure that Smith saw it this way. From my readings of Smith, he saw the need for a new type of politics that liberated and encouraged a form of market exchange based on private property. This was of course in direct opposition to the ideas of monarchy and the power of the landed class over the merchant class.
If it is not Smith that saw this separation of market/economics and politics, then I get the sense it must be Fleischacker who sees this separation. Fleishacker says, "This respect for the market, as a tool for character development, is unusual among moral philosophers: most of Smith's predecessors, peers, and successors would have favored the political realm, instead, as the best place to develop character." I disagree with this, I believe Smith saw a particular type of political-economics as being a constraint on the development of individual's character and wanted a new form of political-economy to move into one that enabled a form of market exchange based on the individual preferences of the consumer rather then the needs of the monarch or noble.
It is this continued analytical separation between economics and politics that I believe continues to confound many theorists and plays strongly into many of the dialogues and debates currently underway around questions of finance and money creation. Seeing money as something separate from politics or even economics, as something natural and epiphenomenal; as if money will exist without specific socio-political structures. The same assumption seems evident in Fleischacker, one in which the market is natural and will exist in its current form irrespective of political choices.
Perhaps I am overstating Fleischacker's argument and interpretation. However, it is a linguistic question, one that I am sure Chomsky and others would highlight. These false distinctions are something that I don't believe many moral philosophers of the Enlightenment would have supported.
I think this is a critical insight into how the African's have felt in the decades of Euro-American AID. They have not had a choice, during the Cold War the choice was between Communism and Capitalist-Democracy and either choice came with huge costs and potential conflict. Today's choices come with far fewer consequences, and most of them are in some way positive. There are concerns raised that this Chinese model offers support to corrupt governments. I am not well studied in this arena (my friend Steven Nakana is far better versed in this stuff) but I do know that many horrid dictators in Africa were supported by Western governments over the decades of development AID.
The point is that it opens up the choices and this is a good thing, it increases competition and forces governments to offer a range of choices - a set of diverse options. This is good for Africa, after all Africa is not monolithic and the situations faced by each country are both unique and similar. This is why it is great to see the UK' DFID being identified for its ability to work on small projects in collaboration with others including the Chinese.
Ending with my continued belief that Africa is going to surprise everyone in the 21st century. More on that later though. Oh here is the link to the Guardian article: US embassy cables: African countries prefer Chinese aid to US-China cooperation.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, in the 1980's and early 1990's, was a blessed experience. I was surrounded by nature, pristine and beautiful, on all sides. Since moving to the USA in 1993, I have returned regularly to Cape Town, always enjoying and relishing the return to that beautiful environment. Yet, something started bothering me over the past five years. Since the end of Apartheid the economy has been growing, the cities have been booming and more and more trash is appearing on the beaches and in the ocean. My daytime strolls along the beaches of Cape Town increasingly began to involve picking up multiple bags of trash – plastic bottles, lids, bags, and other random flotilla.
As a trained political-economist, with a deep interest in questions of sustainability and development, I couldn't help but be concerned by this destruction of value and wealth. I was puzzled by the fact that almost all of this "trash" had at one point represented valuable goods. These goods had cost many, many dollars to produce and purchase - yet the end result was that they had become worthless. This worthlessness didn't make sense to me. Why would something that had cost someone good money, like the container that holds a drink of Coca-Cola, become worthless? And, even more so, how could we prevent it destroying something else of huge and infinite value – a clean and pristine environment that is healthy and resilient?
It is the protection of this beauty and the need to find a way in which our society can operate while protecting and recognizing this infinite wealth, which we are surrounded by and dependent upon for our survival, that became the central focus of my MA research. I am deeply passionate about bringing to the fore the need to recognize this value, the value of the things that our economy and our financial system fail to recognize.
My childhood was built off the very visceral experience of nature. It is something that I deeply desire for my own children, and yet, I understand the need for economic development and an improved standard of living. The challenge of negotiating these different working elements is something that I devote my life to. I want to be part of helping to drive pro-active solutions, solutions that center on the recognition of the environment and the infinite wealth and value that it represents. For me, there is more value in abundance then in anything else. Having an abundant environment - abundant ocean life, abundant forests and abundant clean air - is all more valuable to me and I believe to us as a society, then any scarce commodity or high-priced good.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
money of account.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The first one goes, "The whole history of capitalism has been about financial innovation, which has the effect of empowering the financiers.” This is a powerful quote for me. It really gets at my inner inspiration and is what drives me to explore the side of our political-economy that deals with this question. In my research I am attempting to highlight this financial innovation by showing how very clear political decisions were taken that would make money compatible with capitalism within the confines of an American style democracy that entrenches the rights of private property.
This thinking falls heavily on Geoffrey Ingham's understanding of money as having its own forces of production. David Harvey is essentially highlighting the same fact, as I am, by trying to highlight some of the historical evidence for understanding money in this way. Money needs to be seen as something that has been built and constructed so as to make it compatible with the functioning capitalist democracies of today (here I am borrowing a term from E.M. Wood).
I believe this is a powerful intervention that is been pushed by those that are exploring Community Currencies and other forms of alternative money. This brings me to the second quote, "We have a duty to change our mode of thinking". Here Harvey is throwing down a particular challenge to academics. He is telling us we have to bring a fresh perspective to our way of analyzing our political-economy.
I know that I am doing this. I know this because most people reject my thinking and assume that there is no real relevance to a discussion of money in terms of building a viable post-capitalist ecologically minded political-economy. My sense, and I think Harvey would agree (though I have not had the chance to ask him personally) that this is a good site for exploration. As Harvey points out, since the 1950's the US and the Bank of England have been siding with the financiers over manufacturing. This highlights clearly the way in which money has its own forces of production and is a tool in and of itself that is most clearly entrenched in our political system.
We have to understand money in a new way. We need to bring a fresh perspective to it. Both in terms of understanding how it got to the position it now holds, how changing it in meaningful ways challenges the entire conception of our current political-economy, and that it is not something that is a result of the economy but is constitutive of the sort of political-economy that we chose in the 18th century to entrench into today's capitalist-democracy.
I believe that the most important direction we can move our monetary system towards is one that is not focused on accumulation of money as a form of wealth, one that has a pricing mechanism that can respond to both abandunce in terms of supply and infinite value in terms of price. These are the innovations we need to think about incorporating into our financial system. Until then we will continue to battle a system that is both controlled, focused on scarcity and has two opposing forces 1) accumulation 2) velocity (aka movement) of money.
Here is the video.
This is the animated video:
And this is the full lecture video:
Friday, June 25, 2010
The first one is on Huffington Post: South Africa Rolls out the Ubuntu Abundance
Then there is this one my father forwarded to me
Written by Peter Davies…..on the Supersport website this morning…..I think it’s brilliant, x
Dear World Cup visitors,
Now that you are safely in our country you are no doubt happily realising you are not in a war zone. This may be in stark contrast to what you have been bracing yourself for should you have listened to Uli Hoeness or are an avid reader of English tabloids, which as we all know are only good for wrapping fish ‘n chips and advancing the careers of large-chested teens on page three.
The article is really interesting as it highlights a growing trend of Central Banks coordinating and beginning to collaborate with community currency projects. Understanding the deeper political significance of this I think is very important. We are witnessing a trend of deepening of financial markets, but with a very different goal often associated with these new financial services. The question is what does this mean for the larger political-economy. Are we witnessing the emergence of a new form of political-economics or a deepening and expansion of capitalist systems?
Fundación Pachamama and the Central Bank of Ecuador jointly organized a workshop on complementary currency systems that was held on June 3 and 4 in the headquarters of the Central Bank in Quito. Ultimately the goal is to develop new economic models for rural development including new exchange networks and alternative, complementary currency systems, which will help people in Ecuador get access to credit and promote local production, consumption and trade.
The workshop, called “Systems of Alternative Pay and Means of Complementary Pay,” was held to strengthen the conceptual understanding of the diverse methods of complementary currency systems and the key elements for implementing a system on a national level. In addition, the workshop aimed to explain the workings of a successful model developed in Uruguay (called C3U), and the advantages of creating and applying this system. Finally, the workshop aspired to establish work links between administrative organizations and Uruguay project architects with the Central Bank of Ecuador and Fundación Pachamama.
The first day was a planning meeting with personnel of the Central Bank; Javier Félix, advisor from Fundación Pachamama, and the invited participants from Uruguay; Fernando Cetrulo from Foundation STRO Uruguay and Enrique Baraibar, from the Direction of Development Projects of the Uruguayan Presidency. The workshop began with various presentations from the different projects of the Central Bank, discussing alternatives to economic policies with complementary payment means and compensation systems, and the C3U model. Conceptual input was given to widen the vision of those charged with the diverse projects of the Central Bank, based on the experience of peers from Uruguay.
On the second day, the workshop was opened to the public, including members from the Ecuadorian State, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, directors of Savings and Credit Cooperatives, and other organizations related to the Solidarity Economy, and university students studying economics in Quito.
The workshop achieved the planned objectives and culminated with the signature of a cooperation agreement between the Central Bank of Ecuador, Fundación Pachamama, the STRO Foundation, and the Direction of Development Projects of the Uruguayan Presidency, recognizing the importance of the development of alternative currency methods for the participating institutions. This agreement lays the groundwork for cooperation between all the participants for implementing alternative currency methods that benefit an improved distribution of wealth, employment generation, economic stability, and social development for Latin American countries.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I believe along with these other theorists that the very separation of politics and economics is a false separation. I don't see how they can actually exist as separate spaces. In fact if you think about it, there is no way that any of our economy can exist without political decisions - the decision to protect private property is a political not an economic decision. This is just one example. The one that I find most fascinating is the question of money.
Money has been depoliticized in many parts of the world and certainly in much of the economic philosophy the goal is to frame money as depoliticized. Yet, the construction of money is political - who gets to issue it, with what characteristics, etc.. Much like the idea of private property, money is viewed as being in a natural form. A form that is a product of the economy, which is the product of natural forces. But, I think that the rise of community currency movement and increasing discussion about the way we create money and the impacts of this creation on our political lives has the potential to re-politicize money and make it part of a relevant political discussion. I think that this could lead the re-integration of politics and economics and the rise of series discussions over what our political-economy consists of and what our choices are, which are always political.
My hope is that as research and explorations into community currencies deepen we will see the growth of political-economic research and the recognition that we have far more power as a collective, over the shape of our socio-economy and that we can redefine the system in ways that give democratic citizenship deeper meaning and the ending of the separation of political and economic rights into two separate spaces.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I do wonder again about what this means in terms of scarcity and a system that only responds to things that are scarce - surely the freeing up of information and its increasing cheapness due to abundance is not a loss of value. The increased abundance of information is increasingly valuable to society. The more information, the more value this has to us. This is the same question to be explored around the environment and questions of abundant and healthy eco-systems.
I do think what these currencies raise is the question of democracy as Douglas Rushkoff points out the democratization of economics and of money is a movement we are steadily heading towards. However, we have to understand democracy in the way that it has been used to enable capitalism and the role that ideas of scarcity and representation play in limiting the power of the citizen. Perhaps, this currency movement will both highlight questions of scarcity vs abundance and representation vs participation.
However, I love seeing these discussions entering mainstream. I think at some point there is going to be a serious challenge from the state as it attempts to regulate and claim control over the currency space. This is important because our entire capitalist democracy that we live under is dependent on the control over the creation of money. The future will be interesting as is the current moment.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
maybe argument is a bit strong of a word) about the importance of
theory. It was while I was getting my undergraduate degree at
Berkeley and I found myself completely enthralled by theoretical
thinkers - everyone from Doreen Massey to Weber to Marx to Gillian
Hart and onward. I wanted to be spend my life engrossed in
contributing to our theoretical world. It was then that I realized I
really wanted to be an academic, a thinker, someone that gets paid to
think and give those ideas back to humanity.
For me it is hard to see the distinction between this world of
physicality and our theoretical interpretation of it. I see nothing
more important then theory. Everything for me is in someway grounded
in theory. Call it ideas, call it perceptions, call it your lens into
life. It is all bound up in a theoretical understanding.
For an academic the hardest part is articulating ones theoretical
ideas. I think my blog may give this away to my readers. I struggle
to articulate my ideas, my theories. I have many and often I wish I
could just sit down and vomit them out onto paper and truly express
them. Sometimes words just seem to stumble me - and I think of myself
often as an artist. I like to think of papers that I write as
paintings. I start with a blank canvas and by the time I am finished
I hope to have a story (picture) that others can relate to and that
my sense, my message, my interpretation is clearly expressed and
shared and transferred.
For me the value of theory becomes even more important in the world
of socio-political-economy. How we understand the meaning of economy,
of democracy, of money or any other social construct - these are
things not like trees or water, but things that we as humans have
theoretically constructed and actualized into a having a material
impact on us - is of critical importance.
I am in the throws of writing my Mphil dissertation. I have sat with
it for many months, unable to write anything clear and cogent. Though
I know what I want to say, I have had conversations, written many
many notes and random scribblings but have failed to put something
together that can be called an academic piece of work.
Well, now I am writing it. I sit in my office 35 hours a week in
North Berkeley attempting to write. Sometimes not getting much done
but other times it flows out.
Anyway, back to my original point. The point I wanted to make about
the importance of theory/ideas. I have been reading about democracy
and democracy as it is understood and came to be constructed in the
USA. It is quite incredible when you realize that a word as powerful
and commonly used as "democracy" has had profound shifts in
theoretical understanding that have had massive impacts on our socio-
economic lives. That the theory of democracy matters is beyond doubt.
Understanding how it has changed, why it has changed and the fact
that it can change again is something that I believe truly empowers us.
We can always change our minds. We can always change the way we think
about ourselves, about our lives and those around us. It of course
becomes much harder when that change has serious impacts on our
individual or collective material lives. This is why I believe
certain ideas become stuck and do not change. This is also why
moments of "conjunctural change" (an idea I got from Prof. Gillian
Hart) are of such importance. Those moments represent incredible
opportunities to insert and change theoretical ideas.
I believe we are in one of those conjunctural moments. I believe most
clearly this can be seen in our financial system. What happens next,
what type of money we create and what type of political-economy that
results in will be driven by theoretical understandings.
I hope that I am able to contribute something of value to that debate
and impact the way that we theoretically construct our lives and our
economies so as to actualize new material conditions, through the
creation of powerful theoretical ideas.
In the mean time I hope I can get this dissertation done!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The global capitalist economy will be saved by the creation of a
supra-national currency housed in the IMF and will in some way be
designed along the lines of the SDR.
Though, I am pretty sure it is not a novel prediction and that there
are others out there that have and will make the same prediction. The
future of money will move towards the SDR (Special Drawing Rights
which allow nations to increase their foreign exchange reserves
without money being borrowed or lent. This facility is provided
through the IMF). What this means is that new money will be created
through the fund replacing the dollar as the anchor currency and
relieving the pressure on almost all states with regards to their
sovereign debt. This will almost certainly be the only way to satisfy
the "markets" (I hate to use the term markets in this way but I do
not want to get into that discussion). Because the SDR will be backed
by the global economy, and not one particular economy, it will return
a certain amount of security and confidence to the global markets.
I can not say exactly how it will look. You can read more about the
SDR on Wikipedia and several other blogs and websites. What I can
predict is that several countries will gain a bigger say in the role
of the IMF - such as China, India, Brazil and most interestingly
South Africa. We have already seen these countries demanding a bigger
say on the IMF over the past 10 years.
This creation of a supra-national currency will change the role of
individual sovereign states and may usher in a completely different
political climate ending a certain mercantilist type of economic
thinking. This is because no one nation will control money and the
global economy. The longer term impact is of course hard to predict
and I am sure that this will raise the heckles of many of the
conspiracy theorists - those that believe in the New World Order or
other such ideas. However, I believe it is the only way we will
ultimately save our global economy from a massive and devastating
collapse that would match or exceed the Great Depression.
The importance of this is hard to over-state. As the work of Karl
Polanyi showed in his book, The Great Transformation, the last time
our global economy collapsed it lead to fascism and global war. We
all want to avoid this possibility especially in a nuclear world.
What it will raise, this shift, is a discussion of money and how we
understand its creation and purpose (by this I mean what type of
political-economy do we want). There are many discussions going on
around the world dealing with the question of the creation of money.
Some of the most interesting look at creating a range of currencies
that serve a range of purposes and a range of spatial communities.
Bernard Lietear is one of the pioneers in this thinking - raising the
importance of building a system of multiple currencies that act from
the local community to the global community. There are deeper
questions of the impact of debt, scarcity and the like. That is all
for another discussion - some of which I have already dealt with in
other blog posts.
In the end saving the global capitalist economy will rest on the
creation of this global supra-national currency.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
office (actually a friends apartment). This got me sooo excited. This
is exactly the idea that I recently proposed to a contact at Global
Business Network and am still hoping to continue the conversation.
I hope that I can get my skills into these sorts of discussions. I
hope that I can find a place for me in something like this lab or
something similar and be part of a team of people thinking,
theorizing and putting into action the resulting policy ideas that
lead to innovation and change in our financial system.
I think I can do this. It is all slowly coming together - my deep
interest in political economics, economic development, environment
and sustainability, scenario planning and most importantly financial
Please let there be an awesome job for me in this space that allows
me to utilize my creativity, my intellectual knowledge and my
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
But, this post is again, like many others, so true to both her spirit and mine. Kelly and I constantly search for this balance between play and work, making money and enjoying the other priorities. She is a perfect partner for me - we remind each other all the time of what the other sometimes forgets.
Thanks Kelly I am "stoked" to be your husband.
May 3, 2010 in Uncategorized
The other night my family & I went to a new restaurant in Muizenberg. While waiting for our food, we discovered a pile of surfer magazines. Upon reading an article or two, my husband said, “Surfers have their priorities straight. They are all about the stoke”. aka – the whole reason for living…the “pinch me I’m alive”…the “sick, dude! just rode a killer wave!” flavor of it all.
I have to say – the first time I went surfing, I did feel the same way. I was Giggling. Literally. I have to say in total honesty that it was one of the most fun days of my entire life.
I grew up water-skiing & downhill skiing a Lot. It was part of life. We ice-skated, swam, & water-skiied in our backyard. We road our bikes to school, etc. etc. We weren’t Trying to “be active”. We just were. It was just part of our lives.
Now that I look back, I am so grateful for all of this, & also recollect that the absolute best times in my life were on top of a mountain, flying on a wave, or sitting next to a campfire. The outdoors. It reminds us again of the “life!” in our lives.
And, this brings me back to “the stoke”, & the whole premise behind every piece of art it seems I’ve ever gone about creating. When drawing an apple, I am celebrating that apple. I am taking the apple out of it’s ordinary context and saying, “Look at this apple! It’s freaking gorgeous! It”s freaking delicious! The flavor! The ripeness! The plumpness! The color!”. When I take a bed into a city street & have a kid, a garbageman, & a famous politician jump on it, I’m saying, “Look at how cool this bed is! Look at this! We can jump on it!”
It’s regaining that fresh perspective and appreciation for it all. To quote myslef again, “My intent is to take something simple like a leaf, or a carrot, or a fat lady’s bum; and give it the glory it deserves.”
And I’ll end with this haiku I wrote one recent morning:
Loving the sufers
Outside my window flying
Thank you, surfers, for your “stoke” & your inspiration. cheers.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I have to admit, when I first wrote this, it made me want to cry!! ……….
Throw all caution to the wind & Jump, Cape Town!
Jump for JOY!
The Bed represents:
A common thread of Humanity.
Whether in Manhattan or the Kalahari, we were all born Humans. Babies. Kids who like to Play.
We are all now Actors, Polititians, Mothers, Fishermen, Surfers, Tourists, & Supermodels – all coming in different shapes & sizes, colors & hues, with different voices and stories for the world.
Nevertheless, we are all still Humans, &
Kids who like to Play.
So Come to the bed & Jump, Cape Town!
Jump for Joy!
Friday, April 2, 2010
This is a quick sharing of ideas on money. I have not edited this in great detail. I am trying not to get to caught up in that. I am struggling to get my writing flow back – call it writers block. I need to write an editorial for the Cape Times on money and I need to get my thesis going. So, please recognize that this is more an exercise in writing then an actually constructed paper.
I recently attended the first of hopefully many Next Economy Dialogues sponsored by both the Cape Times and the Department of Economic Development. It was an interesting conversation with some key words and ideas being expressed. Yet, I was haunted by one element to all of the ideas, especially those that actually proposed something – from increased infrastructure investment to the green economy to executive pay and dual economies. It assumes two things 1) that these elements are in one sense disconnected – that we can operate with an idea of two economies but not look at the relationship that exists between them and undoubtedly reinforces them – it is a classic dualistic framework. The second issue I have is 2) that the discussion operates from an assumption that the "laws of economics" are fixed and given – essentially natural – and that it is about finding the right combination of variables to allow the capitalist economy to manifest in all its glory, a glory hidden beneath the badly aligned variables; basically capitalist economic laws are a given and we need to find a way to enable them to operate which will result in increasing equality, rising standards of living and a form of happiness and contentment.
This doesn't surprise me; this is often how it is. We assume the system, which identifies the problems, which means we know what the solution is – to enable the assumed system to more fully operate. Where is the relationship in all of this? These problems that we identify are they independent of the system? Does the actual system have anything to do with the creation of these problems? Can the system operate without these inequalities? Can it operate in a way that will be sustainable and holistic? Can it operate in a way that it will guarantee every new entrant into this life a decent place to live to eat to pray and clothes to wear? Why do we assume this system can do this?
I ask this question not to say that this system can't – though I tend to believe that it can't, certainly not in the long term – provide what it promises. But, I think that if we are going to try and solve the problems of this country, South Africa (which is really just a microcosm of the global picture) then we need to integrate the elements (the variables) not in isolation but in relationship, but not from within the system but from a vantage point that can more objectively look at it. I guess trying to be an alien in your own reality. What happens if we drop the assumptions – that money needs to be created through private banks, that individuality is primary or that the economy is an expression of the natural unfolding of the kernel of capitalism, that the economy is separate from the politics? I am not sure that I am making my point. So, let me try and bring it into my thoughts around money.
You see for me, one of the elements that are often assumed is that of money. It is assumed that its form is in its most advanced stage, that the elements that dominate its creation and reproduction are the best and most viable forms. Money is viewed as a problem, yet is the thing we all want. It is viewed as abundant by some but its quantity is controlled by a system of elite banks (though, my belief is this power of banks is slowly eroding with the rise of virtual currencies and mobile phones). There are so many contradictions to money that we could fill a whole book with the lists. Yet, there is one fundamental question that rarely seems to get asked – it doesn't get asked by Vavi at COSATU, I don't hear Bobby Godsell talking about it when he mentions value and I don't hear Minister Patel saying anything about money when talking about green economies.
This is both strange and not surprising, yet it is important because (taking us back to our earlier discussion of what creates the problem) the question of the creation of money doesn't actually come into the discussion. The assumption might be that we need to expand financial services or create new credit laws – not much different than saying we need more infrastructure investment and more hospitals, right? I mean, this just sounds like a band-aid in all cases and it does not explore the relationships. What relationship is there between the way we create money and the types of inequalities that we struggle with. And, if we can take a step back and ask if the actual system we are living in is creating these problems that we have identified – say inequality and poverty – then what role does capitalist money play in that systems creation and reinforcement and does extending its reach make it more likely to reduce the problems we have identified? If we create money the same way with the same people controlling its creation will it truly resolve the problem? How can we keep trying the same thing and expect different solutions? Yes, I am paraphrasing an oft-associated comment with Einstein but you don't need to be a genius to agree with it and realize the logic.
I argue not for one form of money or another. I argue for the realization that it, money (and all the other "problems" we may identify) are elements in relationship with the other variables and because of money's huge power within this economy we need to understand how it is used and how it (or rather those that control its creation) reuse the economy to sustain itself – as for example a problem of scarcity, and bubbles and crashes. We have to be willing to ask the question of what an alternative form of money would look like? Could changing its characteristics have big impacts on the economy and society? Would it be complementary or in conflict with the dominant money?
There have been many histories of money written through time. No shortage of information about the evolution of money from shells to gold to banking to what it is today. Yet, many of these studies seem to ignore money as something that has not evolved as a result of the economy – it is seen as much as infrastructure, as a necessary element yet at the same time its production is assumed as an outgrowth of the economy. One of the theorist's who has explored money as something that has its own forces of production, as something that is constituted of its own social relations that are not necessarily direct outgrowth of the economy is Geoffrey Ingham in the UK. The importance here is to see money not as assumed, or as naturally capitalist (in that its characteristics underpin the dominant elements of capitalism or essentially we could say, respect or acknowledge those elements) but as something that has shifted and changed in very particular moments. Who then changes money and when has money changed and why and by whom and who has come out in control of the supply of money and has that control of money creation become crucial to the operating of today's political-economy and what would happen, as Keith Hart an anthropologist has proposed, if money became more democratic (in the sense that its production is not controlled by a few but by all or the many)?
I ask this question not because I propose it as an alternative, but because I believe that is exactly what is going on today around us. The proliferation of multiple (numbering in the thousands) community currencies (a generic term I use to cover many different kinds of monetary forms that have not been created by the state or the banks but generally by self-organized communities) is a growing trend. The rise of cheap mobile technologies and the Internet offers great opportunities for the increased production of community currencies with much lower costs and barriers to entry. It also opens up the opportunity for a reconfiguration of ideas of local vs global in this movement. Could currencies be shared with global communities with these technologies?
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
With this in mind I am part of several email lists etc. and this one came across my desk today. I think it is a very interesting email talking about agreements between the Brazilian Central Bank and community based currency projects. This could be one of the first instances in which a central bank has backed a community currency project. It will be interesting to see how this devlops
From: Miguel Yasuyuki Hirota
Subject: [cc_research] The Central Bank of Brazil works to strengthen
community currency initiatives
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed
I'd like to share the information I've just got from Brazil.
The Secretaria Nacional de Economia Solid?ria (SENAES), which
belong to the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment (MET), has
just issued its news letter
and on the page 1 you can read the following article (I translated
it into English).
Title: Coopera??o com banco central (Cooperation with the Central Bank)
The cooperation agreement between SENAES and the Central Bank aims
to realise studies on community banks and on social money, envisioning
the creation of the monitoring and evaluation mechanism and of the
development of this sector in Brazil. After a decade of many
articulation and mobilisation of the solidarity economy movement, with
the support of SENAES, the recognition by the Brazilian State was won,
by way of this terms of cooperation, that territoty-based communities
(small municipalities, neighbourhoods) can build their monetary authority.
For the first time the Central Bank of Brazil recognised the
existence of this tool called "community banks and social money" and
their important as social technology which generates financial
inclusion. With this, community banks will be less vulnerable, both
from the formal viewpoint - as definitions on their function,
methodology, characteristics, attributes, goals and concepts are
established - and SENAES closed a cooperation agreement with the Central
Bank also for the more social visibility to be achieved.
At this moment, a working committee and the work agenda it will
realise by itself are being created. With the concretisation of the
partnership there will be the elaboration of norms which should orient
actors who want to know, support and develop community banks which use
social money. SENAES is proposing the realisation of five public
hearings so that the society should join, together with the solidarity
economy movement, in the sense to warrant the more participation in the
elaboration of referred norms.
On the basis of this agreement, the community bank initiatives
under way win a new institutional framework, enabling the realisation of
new strategic partnerships for their development. On top of that, these
banks will be benefitted with the enhancement of of incentive and
promotion policies, and the institutional environment will be quite
favourable for the consolidation of such policies, which means that
public resources for training activities, technical assistance and
adequate credit lines.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In other words I always log into my web profile at say www.saulwainwright.com and through that I can go to my FB page, Twitter etc. Yet, everything that I have is in one place, at saulwainwright.com and belongs to me. Certain information I can control and limit, certain information can be accessed by certain applications such as FB and other cannot. So, I can have all my videos on my server under my profile and I can share some with say FB and some with Youtube, but the video itself remains mine forever, even if Youtube grabs a copy and places it on their server, the rights remain with me and they, Youtube, has to give me all data related to it – who saw it, when their comments etc. All this information is sent back to me in a standard open source format that allows me to store it and potentially share that data with another network – say FB. This means that what people need to ultimately design is the interface, we the people, own the back end.
Kind of like going to a coffee shop because it has a nice ambiance and good coffee and maybe some good books, in fact you may even meet some people there. But, at the end of the day you go back to your home, with the numbers, conversations and any other “data” you picked up. You may go off to another bar that night and bump into the same person or new person, a person that has never gone to that coffee shop. But, you can easily share all the information you acquired at the first coffee shop because you have it on you, it is in your cell phone your brain your notebook. That is social networking. Not today’s form, this is social control.
Monday, January 25, 2010
There has been lots going on for the project. It is going to be part of the Infecting the City public art event in Cape Town during the week of February 13th through the 20th. Then, she is hoping to have the bed part of the Design Indaba at the end of February. And, there is plenty more to come.
Here are three of the articles that have been written so far. Expect more from Elle Decor and Itch! magazine amongst others.
Kelly Wainwright in Infecting the City
Kelly in British Airway's Horizon Magazine