Crypto-Current (016-e)

§1.12 — Bitcoin is inextricable from a practical interrogation of identity, in its social and psychological sense (as ‘personal identity’), but also more fundamentally as that which makes something such that it is not something else. The specific engagement with this concern under the name of the double-spending problem need not distract from its extreme generality, and – beyond generality – its transcendental implication. Bitcoin realizes an experimental ontology and epistemology in the course of a technical re-foundation of transactions (upon the Internet), which involves an abstraction of if not necessarily beyond money. The practical problematics of money and identity, nudged together over the course of decades by cryptographic theorists, have arrived – in Bitcoin – at a stage of radical fusion. For anything ‘simply’ to be certified as that which it is cannot any longer be confidently distinguished from a monetary phenomenon. The new ‘-coin’ suffix operates amphibiously between these previously distinct registers, as the index of an economic-ontological machine. (Big-B) Bitcoin, the system, goes further still. If being able to verifiably be itself makes of anything a unit in a currency system, the system itself is the Being of such beings – the ultimate criterion of credible existence. In the end, the blockchain cannot be subordinated to any principle of reality (whatsoever) that it does not itself authorize.

§1.13 — Since money, even in its most primitive and concrete forms, is already an abstraction – of general commodity – its further mathematical virtualization tends naturally, from the perspective of common intuition, to a certain opacity. To recognize the reality of the virtual stretches human cognitive capabilities into stressed – and often distressing – territory. In addition, money occupies a thematic cross-roads of such diversity and density, that its tangents can appear overwhelming, touching upon everything of human relevance, even prior to the massive dilation of monetary generality that Bitcoin is currently driving, under the sign of the new techonomic ‘coin’.

§1.14 — Perhaps the greatest obstacle to the lucid investigation of money, however, is presented by the fact that it occupies a nexus of extreme sensitivity within evolved human psychology, lodged among our species’ most emotionally-charged perceptions of social relations. Because money is inextricably entangled with questions of reciprocity, it is tied-up intimately with such provocations to outrage as injustice, cheating, exploitation, and unbounded inequality. Such sensitive moral trigger-zones pose a formidable inhibition to dispassionate analysis. Disciplined investigation of money threatens to arouse sentiments of social alienation, and even desecration. There is no theoretical conclusion about the nature of money so cold that it does not appear burdened with concrete socio-political implication. More specifically, the mere conceptualization of money is grasped – once again, with vivid archaic intuition – as inherently consequential with respect to the social distribution of wealth. There can be no valorization or devalorization of money in theory, without an immediate adjustment of social balances, or at least the widespread perception of such. It is only natural, then, that the complement also holds. Even when constrained by a spirit of disinterested empiricism, the study of money is peculiarly vulnerable to ideological temptations. The suspicion that monetary theory is politics in disguise tends towards a self-fulfilling prophecy. Discussions of money drive social apes mad.

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