Adventures in mutual credit https://matslats.net/ en #CoFi conversion course and discourse https://matslats.net/cofi-course-discourse <span>#CoFi conversion course and discourse</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/DoomstereconomistWalkTalkThumbnail.jpg" align="right" width="50%" style="margin: 1em;"> <p>I just came back from the 3rd CryptoCommons Gathering at the Commons Hub in Austria. I was financed to create a course to introduce the notion of Collaborative Finance to the blockchain demographic. Perhaps a midsummer conference isn't the ideal setting for a daily one hour class, or mky time-slot wasnt't ideal, but around 1/4 to 1/3 of the participants attended each day. The four lessons were: </p><ol><li>Unlearning money</li> <li>Credit vs commodity monies</li> <li>Credit, Exchange and banking</li> <li>Collaborative finance</li></ol> <p>On the final day there was a motion to do sessions by the riverside, so I abbreviated the final class to reach a wider audience, and was blessed to be videoed in full flow by Zach of <a href="https://moneylesssociety.com">Moneyless Society</a> while I was expounding on the structures of credit.</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lTaeVD1EudI?si=Rmbug27-GCsvQH4z" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p>I find myself in the unusual position of being perhaps the public face of a movement with some strong supporters already (#CoFi), and attempting to craft and deliver a marketing message to counter the appeal of cryptocurrencies and conventional tokenomics. To that end I was happy to narrate that #ReFi (Regenerative Finance) is diverting capitalists' crumbs to ecological projects. But this is philanthropy more than finance, and the those capitalists are fickle. Therefore CoFi should be a parallel effort which makes better use of existing resources through closer cooperation in order to build wealth.</p> <p>I leave you with another 10 min video made by the moneyless nomad Zachery Marlow, who is making a documentary about the moneyless society. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7aRief43LV4?si=yKxvi3yHsbKok6yQ" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe> <meta property="og:url" content="/cofi-course-discourse"> <meta property="og:title" content="#CoFi conversion course and discourse"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/DoomstereconomistWalkTalkThumbnail.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="My role in the third CryptoCommons Gathering as CoFi advocate"> <meta property="twitter:card" content="app"> <meta property="twitter:site" content="@matslats"> <meta property="twitter:description" content="My role in the third CryptoCommons Gathering as CoFi advocate"></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2023-09-06T10:17:52+00:00" title="Wednesday, September 6, 2023 - 10:17">Wed, 09/06/2023 - 10:17</time> </span> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=467&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="7-yXljTAAdTPLCAKsMr1tl86fkul6MQLiZ7NBeQ8i5Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Wed, 06 Sep 2023 10:17:52 +0000 matslats 467 at https://matslats.net #CoFi is now a thing! https://matslats.net/cofi-is-now-a-thing <span>#CoFi is now a thing!</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h4>Report on the first Collaborative Finance Gathering at the <a href="https://www.crypto-commons.org/">Commons Hub</a>, Austria, May 22-28, 2023.</h4> <img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_group_photo.gif" width="100%"> <p>It was an honour to be asked by the Commons Hub to design a conference and I took the opportunity to bring together crypto-people with some working on more traditional complementary currency innovations. I arranged the mornings so that each one covered a different 'structure' of credit (a taxonomy I have yet to write about), namely mutual credit, mesh credit (i.e. ripple/trustlines systems), local voucher systems, and multilateral offset clearing, in which invoices are aggregated and cancelled out as far as possible. </p><p>I was lucky that the cornerstone project, <a href="https://informal.systems/">Informal Systems</a> was willing enough to sponsor the event, and they also sent their whole Multilateral Offset Clearing team, using the event for team-building and in-person working. Other Sponsors were <a href="https://www.ethichub.com/en">EthicHub</a>, <a href="https://currency.community/">The community Currency Alliance</a>, <a href="https://www.holochain.org">Holo</a>, and Ripple creator Ryan Fugger. </p><p>Also the <a href="https://economicspace.agency">Economic Space Agency</a> (ECSA) came en masse, with ten people and a <a href="https://frugal.systems/ecsa-book/">book to launch</a>. <img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_opening.jpg" width="100%"> </p><p>I was really helped by Julio from <a href="https://joincircles.net">Circles</a> who helped tremendously with the gender balance by bringing the whole team and by inviting people from less developed countries (Guatemala, Syria) where my knowledge is scant. </p><p>Also present were: <a href="https://resource.finance">Resource</a>, <a href="http://mutualcredit.services">Mutual Credit Services</a>, <a href="https://grassrootseconomics.org">Grassroots Economics</a>, <a href="https://sikoba.com">Sikoba</a>, <a href="http://ledgerloops.com">LedgerLoops/Federated Bookkeeping</a>, <a href="http://gotchoices.org/mychips/">MyCHIPS</a>, <a href="https://regen.foundation">Regen Foundation</a>, <a href="http://hudsonvalleycurrent.org/">Hudson Valley Current</a>, <a href="https://ceo.org">Celo</a>, the <a href="https://theblockchainsocialist.com">Blockchain Socialist</a>, also releasing a <a href="https://theblockchainsocialist.com/blockchain-radicals-book-announcement/">book</a>, <a href="https://community.gooddollar.org">Good Dollar</a>, <a href="https://grassrootseconomics.org">Grassroots Economics</a>, <a href="https://www.evewealth.com">EveWeath</a>, <a href="https://mutualcredit.services">Mutual Credit Services</a>, <a href="https://sikoba.com">Sikoba</a>, <a href="https://baergeld.ch">BAERgeld<a>, and <a href="https://www.block.science/">Block Science</a>. In total there were at least 60 people there every day of the week! <img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_fireside_opens_pace.jpg" width="100%"> </a></a></p><p>I used my <a href="https://youtube.com/live/kXLisL03nvk?feature=share">opening address</a> to stress that, having come so far, we shouldn't be making sage-on-the-stage presentations to each other as if youtube were the medium, but should instead be generating conversation and learning. I exhorted everyone to open themselves to listening and collaboration. As the week progressed I was blown away by the enthusiasm with which sessions were attended, the quality of dialogue, the willingness to understand, and the intensity of the open space discussions. People started saying to me "something is really happening here" and "I've never known anything like it". A few days after the conference ended, I want to try to capture the outcomes. <img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_GREgame.jpg" width="100%"> </p><p>The main outcome I think is that a protocol working group will be set up to look at interoperability of the projects represented. This is essential if our initiatives are to scale up rather than competing destructively with each other. I very much hope that the funded projects will feel more inclined to spread their money around, having met and built trust with projects in the same field with similar discourses. I'm hoping also to run a track in the next Crypto Commons Gathering on monetary theory, in hope of converting talent from the blockchain space to the credit theory of money. </p><p>In conclusion, the event was a pleasure to design, and Felix and Giulio from the Commons Hub provided all the support I needed, pandering to my spontaneous creative ideas and even running the open space track, because I was exhausted. I want to thank them and Jeff for annointing himself head troll in my stead, and everyone for making the event a stonking success! </p><p>Watch the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/@cryptocommonsassociation2609/streams">Live Streams</a>. <img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_riverside.jpg" width="100%"> <meta property="og:url" content="/cofi-is-now-a-thing"> <meta property="og:title" content="#CoFi is now a thing"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/cofi_GREgame.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="Report on the first Collaborative Finance Gathering at the Commons Hub, Austria, 2023"> <meta property="twitter:card" content="app"> <meta property="twitter:site" content="@matslats"> <meta property="twitter:description" content="Report on the first Collaborative Finance Gathering at the Commons Hub, Austria, 2023"></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2023-06-02T09:42:58+00:00" title="Friday, June 2, 2023 - 09:42">Fri, 06/02/2023 - 09:42</time> </span> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=466&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="tj1tQMqxqvsiQY1Rf8NRKZncxizbyy1F3HO2ZtevHoI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Fri, 02 Jun 2023 09:42:58 +0000 matslats 466 at https://matslats.net The Currency of Politics - audiobook https://matslats.net/currency-of-politics-stefan-eich-audiobook <span>The Currency of Politics - audiobook</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="https://www.stefaneich.com/currency"><img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/CurrencyOfPolitics.jpg" width="50%" align="right" style="margin:1em"></a> <p>The neoliberal approach to money is that it is apolitical, facilitating exchange without interfering in it. But with the bailouts of 2008 and then COVID, more people understand that money does not work by itself, but must be managed through the political process. </p><p>This dichotomy runs all the way through monetary history starting with Aristotle "Money exists not by nature, but by law". Different regimes leaning to different sides and the debate taking different forms in the different contexts of predominantly coin money, paper money, and later with central banks. Eich puts the case that money is <em>always</em> political, but because it doesn't work well when subjected to the whims of democratic governments, its political nature is often deliberately obscured, only to reappear at the next crisis. As Walter Bagehot quipped, "Money doesn't manage itself". </p><p>This book presumes the reader already has quite a lot of knowledge of its protagonists and their contexts, namely Aristotle, Locke, Fichte, Marx and Keynes. It covers little after the 1980s, notably excluding the global trend towards central bank independence at the turn of the century. </p><p>I got a lot out of it, including several more ideas for future audiobooks. </p><p>This is my first 'professional quality' audio book. I did offer it to the publisher, but their process would require me to <a href="https://www.acx.com/help/narrators/200484550">audition</a> with the publishers preferred audiobook subcontractor and if selected I would be receive payment/royalties. Sorry, I'm don't play those games. If you like the book, don't send me a gift, <a href="https://www.stefaneich.com/currency">buy it</a> and give it pride of place on your bookshelf. <meta property="og:url" content="/currency-of-politics-stefan-eich-audiobook"> <meta property="og:title" content="Audiobook: The Currency of Politics"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/CurrencyOfPolitics.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="The neoliberal approach to money is that it is apolitical, facilitating exchange without interfering in it. But with the bailouts of 2008 and then COVID, more people understand that money does not work by itself, but must be managed through the political process. "></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2023-03-16T09:51:36+00:00" title="Thursday, March 16, 2023 - 09:51">Thu, 03/16/2023 - 09:51</time> </span> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">File attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-zip file--package-x-generic"><a href="/sites/matslats.net/files/The%20Currency%20of%20Politics%20by%20Stefan%20Eich.zip" type="application/zip">The Currency of Politics by Stefan Eich.zip</a></span> <span>(936.88 MB)</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">audiobooks</a></div> </div> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=465&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="TcdoDVJ0476emQYmQzUXB_R29MWSTMAYoQQgXjqLh-k"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Thu, 16 Mar 2023 09:51:36 +0000 matslats 465 at https://matslats.net The difference that money makes: sovereignty, indecision and the politics of liquidity https://matslats.net/colin-drumm-the-difference-that-money-makes-audiobook <span>The difference that money makes: sovereignty, indecision and the politics of liquidity</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><img src="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/ColinDrumm.jpg" align="right" style="margin:0 0 1em 1em;" width="50%"> <p>Just a short glance indicated to me that this would be worth recording, and I was right. With a flair unexpected in a PhD thesis, Drumm draws on English and classical history, much of it presented through Shakespeare, to show how history has been defined by the politics of liquidity, and how this politics is really the management of an unresolved dilemma at the heart of the monetary theory. </p> <p>Modern Monetary Theory comes off the worst as Drumm shows it has tautological underpinnings and a selective view of history which cannot explain the Middle Ages.</p> <p>The themes of succession, nobility and baseness, tyranny, and inside/outside are wonderfully woven together, and the influence of supervisor Robert Meister, whose book <a href="https://matslats.net/audiobook-justice-is-an-option-robert-meister">Justice is an Option</a> I recorded last year, is readily apparent.</p> <p>Note that audio quality is not wholly consistent as I've been experimenting in preparation for professional production.</p> <p>1.1GB download includes a pdf of the text, or the original is <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IZy2o238Ef3zOIfI724dt95UqookVe0b/view">here</a>.</p> <meta property="og:url" content="colin-drumm-the-difference-that-money-makes-audiobook"> <meta property="og:title" content="Audiobook: The difference that money makes"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/ColinDrumm.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="With a flair unexpected in a PhD thesis, Drumm draws on English and classical history, much of it presented through Shakespeare, to show how history has been defined by the politics of liquidity, and how this politics is really the management of an unresolved dilemma at the heart of the monetary theory."></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2023-02-04T17:54:40+00:00" title="Saturday, February 4, 2023 - 17:54">Sat, 02/04/2023 - 17:54</time> </span> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">File attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-zip file--package-x-generic"><a href="/sites/matslats.net/files/Drumm%20-%20The%20difference%20that%20money%20makes.zip" type="application/zip">Drumm - The difference that money makes.zip</a></span> <span>(1018.99 MB)</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">audiobooks</a></div> </div> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=464&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="c9Sxy6UtK_6wYgEMS_jCxJZeFbB67yiK5yzmP6xW9JQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Sat, 04 Feb 2023 17:54:40 +0000 matslats 464 at https://matslats.net Resource network https://matslats.net/resource-finance-network <span>Resource network</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="https://resource.finance"><img src="https://res.cloudinary.com/resource-network/image/upload/v1640210548/resource-protocol/brand/logo_512_oedswd.png" align="right" style="margin:0 0 1en 1en; width: 50%"></a> <p>There have been a few half-hearted attempts to do mutual credit, or business barter on a blockchain, but the only one that has cut any ice at all with me so far is <a href="https://resource.finance">Resource</a>. Founder David Casey was a social entrepreneur experimenting with mutual credit long before venturing into blockchain and he has assembled a team which seems to be committed to honest finance rather than shilling shitcoins. The project is built on the Celo blockchain, which seems to have similar values, counting Charles Eisenstein's book <a href="https://sacred-economics.com/">Sacred Economics</a> as an inspiration. </p><p>The <a href="https://resource-network.gitbook.io/resource-technical">white paper</a> and their communication in general is done extremely well, expressing the unusual proposition of mutual credit in a language that investors, financial professionals and crypto-heads are likely to understand. </p><blockquote>Mutual credit–based currency derives its value from the demand exercised on it by outstanding loans. Each unit of currency in circulation is required by someone in order to pay back a loan denominated in said currency. From this we can conclude that the market value of mutual credit–generated currency depends first and foremost on the ability of the network to enforce debt obligations. Hence, the capacity of the network to assess creditworthiness, collect due loans, and absorb bad debt is what ultimately guarantees price stability.</blockquote> <p>So the first thing to understand is that Resource is not just doing accounting, like the <a href="creditcommons.net">Credit Commons</a>, but a more complete system of risk management, done of course in a decentralised way through markets. That means that behind a group of traders engaged in mutual credit is a system of underwriting which ensures that if a trader defaults their account is made good by someone who knowingly assessed and accepted the risk - not by the other traders in the network. Furthermore there are a couple of layers of debt absorption within the system before debts are passed into the legal system for recovery. </p><p>All this should be contrasted with normal barter systems, which are very widespread (but thinly spread) and which offer no collateralisation - all members carry the default risk of all other members which includes a fraud risk. i think that by tackling that default risk which those businesses bear (knowingly or otherwise), Resource wants to make barter much more common. </p><p>All this means that members of the network, in order to be assessed for credit-worthiness, have to submit various metrics including bank account details and online activities, which are then crunched by an algorithm to produce a credit store to guide underwriters. Underwriters then 'stake' tokens with network members in exchange for a share of transaction fees. Then members of the public can stake tokens with any underwriter. </p><p>The white paper stresses that all this risk management should lead to the token having a pretty stable dollar price, not because it is a stablecoin - backed by dollars - but because the token price isn't determined by whimsical markets and the state of the network is likely to change only slowly. </p><p>When the project managed to acquire a significant investment a couple of years ago I was happy for them but also trepidatious because venture capital can get impatient with these types of projects and push founders to extract money in a way that changes the intention of the project. We'll see about that in another couple of years I guess but for now I have the following questions. </p><ol><li>Of course bootstrapping commercial mutual credit is very difficult, and Resource doesn't seem to be going after the existing market of business barter systems - I'm not clear where they are aiming except that they are making some foray's into less developed countries. Leaving aside questions of colonialism I don't see much boasting about the network's numbers which suggests that despite the interest they have raised from the likes of me and crypto investors and Regenerative Finance hacks, they might be finding it, predictably, difficult to engage business networks.</li> <li>In my own attempts to define mutual credit I decided that the mutual element was the risk management. to me, that mutuality is what locates mutual credit in the solidarity economy. I wonder if, by separating the network members i.e. the traders, from the underwriters, that element of mutuality, which exists in traditional barter networks, is lost. What's happening here is that rich people are underwriting, or providing liquidity, or money, in exchange for a transaction fee. Whether the money is used in the trading network to settle accounts directly, or staked and used as a basis to issue trading tokens, is moot.</li> <li>While I applaud projects which seek to create less extractive financial instruments, I'm always looking for something much more radical considering the pitiful state of human society and the urgency imposed on us by climate change. For me radical means the collective creation of new forms of capital, whose scarcity is not managed by people with economics degrees and secret handshakes. Although resource is concerned mainly with trade liquidity, rather than investment capital, there's nothing to stop it becoming more radical if its users wanted, and if its investors allowed. I'd be interested to learn what hopes the team has in that direction, even if the information is published!</li> </ol></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-12-12T13:15:06+00:00" title="Monday, December 12, 2022 - 13:15">Mon, 12/12/2022 - 13:15</time> </span> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=463&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="eQ2Zi-Z05phJS1hQ_zwt5JWPQg1ns0vx_xUjEIlzfKk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Mon, 12 Dec 2022 13:15:06 +0000 matslats 463 at https://matslats.net Economic grammar of the multitude - Protocols for postcapitalist economic espression https://matslats.net/ecsa-economic-grammar-multitude-protocols-postcapitalist-economic-espression-audiobook <span>Economic grammar of the multitude - Protocols for postcapitalist economic espression</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><a href="https://frugal.systems/ecsa-book"><img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/ecsa_cover.jpg" width="50%"></a><br> The <a href="https://economicspace.agency">Economic Space Agency</a> has spent several years imagining a system for individuals and organisations to account for exchange, allocate risk and reward, and measure and store value without using or even referring to fiat money.</p> <p>They have finally produced a book explaining the economics of it, which is presented <a href="https://frugal.systems/ecsa-book">here</a>, along with my rendition of it.</p> <p>The proposed system is intended to work entirely independently of fiat monies, even as a measure of value. The very meaning of 'value' should emerge from each group and aggregate across the network, similarly to how it works in the credit commons protocol (though I haven't written about that so far). </p> <p>It has become apparent that the ECSA model is pretty difficult to communicate. On the basis of reading the book twice, and some additional conversations, I shall attempt my own summary...</p> <p>The model is aimed at individuals or groups called agents, who 'produce' or 'work' and spread the risks and rewards amongst themselves. A new group must put some numbers on the 'value' (the meaning of which is not yet undetermined) each of them brings, and this becomes the first type of token, called the staking token, which is a bit like the equity each one brings.</p> <p>Members can then offer acts of production or value creation called 'performances'. The offer includes the investment required, targets for quantity and quality, other social and environmental targets, and the number of commodity tokens that would be created if those targets were met. Again, this last number must be somewhat arbitrary in a new group, but a good first start might be to them of them as worth a dollar.</p> <p>Other members then 'stake' the performance, meaning they underwrite it with some of their staking tokens, to reflect the 'value' (in their opinion) that that performance will create. The amount of stake is what determines the performance's credit limit, and if there is enough, then the performance commences with the issuing of credit tokens. </p> <p>The value of each agent's stake is variable and agents can move their stake around at any time to reflect their confidence. There is an exchange rate between each agent's stake tokens and the credit tokens whose value is constant across the group, but I haven't grokked how that value is determined. If the stake value goes below the value of credit tokens issued, then the performance is 'under water' and may need to be re-evaluated. </p> <p>At the end of the period, or when the performance is done, the reality and the projections are compared and the agents decide how many commodity tokens to issue. Commodity tokens are the same, constant value as credit tokens and are used to cancel the credit tokens, hopefully with some 'profit' remaining to be shared with the stakers of the performance.</p> <p>Because the model is recursive, with any group acting acting as an agent in a container group, each group's credit/commodity tokens is somehow priced in ECSA system token, which then enables exchange rates, but I'm not clear how that works.</p> <p>It might seem a bit elaborate, but it is no more complicated than the money and financial system we have today. It is hard to describe because we have only one way to think about it, and also because the hegemonic system is well established and has plenty of experts and hidden parts. I've described the system bootstrapping, because that's how my mind works, and because those difficulties of establishing the value of tokens without a reference point are very real, but once those things are start to stabilise, things should become a bit simpler. ECSA are now starting to use this model internally using quarterly periods and we'll see how it goes!</p> </div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-10-31T07:57:54+00:00" title="Monday, October 31, 2022 - 07:57">Mon, 10/31/2022 - 07:57</time> </span> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">File attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-zip file--package-x-generic"><a href="/sites/matslats.net/files/ECSA%20-%20Protocols%20for%20Postcapitalist%20Expression.zip" type="application/zip">ECSA - Protocols for Postcapitalist Expression.zip</a></span> <span>(231.27 MB)</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">audiobooks</a></div> </div> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=462&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="_NYX8UiimKZBSRuJIzl6sqAqEfSd2_V7nYDRRqgYL48"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Mon, 31 Oct 2022 07:57:54 +0000 matslats 462 at https://matslats.net The missing social network https://matslats.net/missing-social-network-murmurations-payload-bonfire-holochain-activitypub <span>The missing social network</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><img src="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/missing%20jigsaw.jpg" width="50%" align="right" style="margin:0 0 1em 1em;"><p><strong>The assumptions of web software architecture.</strong> </p><p>The most successful organisations are mostly private corporations who jealously guard their members / customers, and seek to grow and squeeze out the competition and establish a monopoly. The software of the web reflects that, as each company has its own web platform, inside of which it seeks to retain its users by being the largest or only player in the space. </p><p>This way of organising is leads to huge duplication of effort, with users seeing only a fraction of everything at any one time, until the best funded platform emerges victorious after which all the information is in one place, but it is too expensive and their are no alternatives. Think, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram etc. </p><p>Most of the software tools and frameworks around, including my preferred, Drupal, are geared for this reality so it is even hard for organisations who want to do things differently to imagine another way. Movements from the ground up with local, regional, national and international levels of organising have a terrible time setting up systems that serve, because all the software available expects to be centrally organised according to a plan, not to emerge. </p><p><strong>How not to build movement infrastructure</strong> </p><p>Think about Transition Towns, Extinction Rebellion, the Gillets Jaunes, The Global Ecovillage Network, Time Banks, LETS and the COVID mutual aid networks, all of which have a strong bottom up impetus, and there will be many more in future. In addition to having to decide which existing platform to use, or whether to code a new one from scratch, they face a special architectural dilemma. Either each local group should set up, and maintain, its own site with the skills and money it can find and thus be unable to communicate with the others. Or resources should be concentrated on a central hub which will be unresponsive to the needs of each group. Or they should duplicate effort by doing both. And before doing anything they must decide. What happens is that users are stuck trying to coordinate across a moving kaleidoscope of platforms with different subsets of functionality, then the money runs out and everything goes into decay. </p><p>All this pain and waste is a result of all the software being designed for centralised organisations like companies (.com), charities (.org), and governments (.gov). The only good reason networked organisations have to work in this way is that there is no good software to do it more appropriately. Centralised organisations are well served by platforms-as-we-know-them decentralised movements need protocols to coordinate all the moving parts. </p><p><strong>What it would be like if a social networking platform was properly built for grass roots organisations?</strong> </p><p>The main thing is that each local chapter would look after a similar piece of software, and be responsible for hosting (or delegating hosting) of member data. This would enable groups to develop organically. Basic functionality might be a bit like Mastodon, but it would have to be extensible in a way that extensions are not limited to one chapter, but can create their own space. A movement would then consist of many chapters running a similar combination of plugins; many of the plugins would be accessing 3rd party data repositories, which means that data is outside any one platform and accessible to anyone logged in on a member web site. Plugins might be simple or complex and might be maintained by amateurs or professionals. </p><p>Many basic components would be already available, enabling movements to get started quickly. For example an events calendar module might be widely used. The events would be stored in a dedicated events repository controlled by a trusted 3rd party which means, not only members of one group, but any member of the network could see them. This would be very useful for national events or for when different groups are located close together. </p><p>So a new chapter, or a new movement for that matter would be easy to set up using a standard instance of the software, with whatever plugins the movement is using. the marginal cost of this should be near zero. </p><p>This arrangement allows sites to be loosely coupled - somewhat together, sharing technology, costs and data, and somewhat independent when groups have special needs. </p><p>Even if each (local) group had its own instance, a movement could club together to host the instances collectively to reduced costs, while retaining the freedom of each break away, or to configure their own platform differently. Or if a movement runs out of enthusiasm or resources, that's no reason for local groups to disband. </p><p>As a movement builds its resource base, it would be able to commission new plugins to perform new functions. If a movement wanted to engage in reporting wildlife sightings, they could finance the development of a plugin, and that plugin would automatically be available to all groups in the ecosystem, either to report wildlife sightings, or to alter for some other purpose. </p><p>If we think only of our own needs when we build software, or if we imagine our needs to be unique, then we will pay the full cost of developing and maintaining that software. If we break up the software however into components ranging from the general (e.g. knowing who is logged in) to the particular, (e.g. reporting on swallow migration) then it becomes possible to share the general costs with others and focus resources on the particular costs. </p><p><strong>Is there no existing software to work with</strong> </p><p>There are many ongoing attempts to build less centralised network architectures, and there are many differences in approach and emphases, and different meanings of 'decentralised' I could discuss. I strongly feel that, the various movements, their local chapters, and their future should not be defined as a new platform, but defined API first. </p><dl> <dt>ActivityPub / Bonfire</dt> <dd>is an API and has the huge advantage of being declared a web standard, but looking more closely it seems to assume that social networking is little more than making posts, referencing users and following users. the protocol is extensible to define different kinds of posts, but the approach feels inherently limiting unless I've missed something. <a href="http://bonfirenetworks.org/">Bonfire</a> is built with ActivityPub and I believe supports different kinds of posts, but the main innovation seems to be the ability to classify and tag other users so as to broadcast in a more targeted way.</dd> <dt>Holochain / Neighbourhoods</dt> <dd>is beautifully composable, and has an internal meta-API so that every app is a <em>de facto</em> network, but there's nothing special that would enable it to do that with non-holo systems. <a href="https://neighbourhoods.network/">Neighbourhoods</a> is a social network built on Holo but its starting point is reputation systems and a sort of protocol for making reputations portable between communities. I think the proposition is frankly, a paradox, and besides that, a strange starting point for thinking about interoperability.</dd> <dt>Diaspora</dt> <dd>was the first widely known and well funded attempt to make a decentralised facebook, but progress was so slow it was overtaken by many things and now is just litter in the landscape of decentralised social networks.</dd> <dt>Discord, Slack et al</dt> <dd>takes the form of a suite of chat rooms into which bots can be inserted. Chat is potentially a very versatile interface, and there's lots of room for experimentation instructing bots with natural language, but again, in that context how does that type of UI support content creation, curation, search, etc?</dd> </dl> <p>Other software I've looked at seems to focus on other issues like self custody of data, or ways to share only certain data with certain people, or sovereign identities, or they start with a blockchain, all of which feels wrong. Sometimes I strongly feel that software is not being built for the communities that need it, but to implement the good ideas of technicians who live in cyber-bubbles. </p><p>It seemed to me for one moment in 2015 that I was not alone in calling for this, when the Collaborative Technology Alliance was <a href="https://medium.com/enspiral-tales/doing-more-together-together-seeding-a-collaborative-technology-alliance-82243ea30d41">announced</a>, but the discussion which followed lacked the requisite depth, and soon petered out. </p><p><strong>What would it look like?</strong> </p><p>Since the main platform provides almost no functionality it is very small. Small components are easier and cheaper to manage. Its main function is to manage member identities and and logins and to connect them to the plugged in services. </p><p>Plugins would provide discreet functionality and might use a 3rd party server where anonymised data is stored and aggregated. This would enable individuals and small teams to look after small parts of the whole ecosystem, which they could do for money or for love. </p><p>There would be a common library of plugins so that if one group developed a plugin others would find it easily - the groups are not supposed to be competing to make the best software or to capture users. </p><p>For example if a network wants to have a discussion on a topic, each group should install the discussion plugin, then all their posts are stored on the discussion plugin server. Members login to their own platform, and the platform doesn't know what a discussion is, but it connects them to the global discussion. The discussion plugin could also manage discussions within to any one group. </p><p>One idea I've been toying with is to use the new <a href="https://murmurations.network">Murmurations protocol</a> for all content sharing between local instances. It could be a major component of a social networking ecosystem but not the core. </p><p>I've had a preliminary look for the most flexible platforms out there for building decentralised social networks which provide some core functionality while not defining too much else. I liked the look most of <a href="https://payloadcms.com">Payload CMS</a>, but think <a href="https://strapi.io/">Strapi</a> and <a href="https://ghost.org">Ghost</a> are also worth a look. </p><p>What do you think? Did I miss something out? Am I going about this the wrong way? Does something exist already? Or do we need someone to propose <em>yet another</em> social network, aimed at grass-roots communities and movements, to find money despite there probably not being a business-case, and then steward a 2 year development cycle. Sigh. P.S. I've written about this many times since I started down this road in 2008: <a href="https://matslats.net/global-local-capitalism">Capitalism can't build community web-services</a> (2011) - <a href="https://matslats.net/lets-timebanks-facebook-diaspora ">One web site per community is too simplistic</a> (2011) - <a href="https://matslats.net/solidarity-economy-software-1 ">Solidarity economy networks &amp; Software</a> (2014) - <a href="https://matslats.net/death-star-fire">Death Star platforms: Fighting fire with fire?</a> (2015) - <a href="https://matslats.net/protocol-cooperativism-platform-cooperativism">Protocol Cooperativism?</a> (2017) - <a href="https://matslats.net/groupware-requirements">Global groupware requirements</a> (2020) - <a href="https://matslats.net/decentralised-social-networks-holochain-mutual-credit ">Decentralised social networks &amp; Holochain mutual credit</a> (2020) <meta name="twitter:card" content="summary"> <meta name="twitter:site" content="@matslats"> <meta name="twitter:creator" content="@matslats"> <meta property="og:url" content="https://matslats.net/missing-social-network-murmurations-payload-bonfire-holochain-activitypub"> <meta property="og:title" content="The missing grassroots social network"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/missing%20jigsaw.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="I've been waiting years, YEARS for a social networking platform for decentralised grassroots movements, but there is still nothing I want to work with..."> <meta property="twitter:title" content="The missing grassroots social network"> <meta property="twitter:description" content="I've been waiting years, YEARS for a social networking platform for decentralised grassroots movements, but there is still nothing I want to work with..."> <meta property="twitter:url" content="https://matslats.net/missing-social-network-murmurations-payload-bonfire-holochain-activitypub"> <meta property="twitter:image:src" content="https://matslats.net/sites/matslats.net/files/missing%20jigsaw.jpg"> <meta property="twitter:domain" content="The Example"></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-09-10T16:00:30+00:00" title="Saturday, September 10, 2022 - 16:00">Sat, 09/10/2022 - 16:00</time> </span> <ul class="links inline"> <li><a href="/missing-social-network-murmurations-payload-bonfire-holochain-activitypub#comment-form" title="Share your thoughts and opinions." hreflang="en">Add new comment</a></li> </ul> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments<span class="comments__count">1</span></h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=461&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="BtUkRxehZuxm_l1gcre-uYsXjCEtpWE5NaQP8uWwJGk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> <article data-comment-user-id="1" id="comment-8647" class="comment js-comment comment--level-1 by-node-author" role="article" data-drupal-selector="comment"> <span class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1662923925"></span> <div class="comment__picture-wrapper"> <div class="comment__picture"> <div> <div class="js-form-item form-item js-form-type-item form-item- js-form-item- form-no-label"> <h4 class="label">Member for</h4> 15 years 10 months </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="comment__text-wrapper"> <footer class="comment__meta"> <p class="comment__author"><span>matslats</span></p> <p class="comment__time">1 year 4 months ago</p> </footer> <div class="comment__content"> <h3><a href="/comment/8647#comment-8647" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Thanks to Dan Finlay for…</a></h3> <div class="text-content field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field__item comment__text-content"><p>Thanks to <a href="https://twitter.com/danfinlay/">Dan Finlay</a> for pointing out a new project <a href="https://spritely.institute/">Spritely</a>, which seems to be taking ActivityPub to the next level - although such a system, like Holochain is still based on software first, rather than protocols.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=8647&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="s5ckilbZR8TaXnwDCvLanLFszhc-MJVxKz9AMI8q6oc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </article> </section> Sat, 10 Sep 2022 16:00:30 +0000 matslats 461 at https://matslats.net Inadequate Equilibria https://matslats.net/audiobook-inadequate-equilibria <span>Inadequate Equilibria</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/inadequateequilibriumcover.jpg" align="right" style="margin: 0 0 1em 1em;width:50%"> <p></p><blockquote>Inadequate Equilibria is a book about a generalised notion of efficient markets, and how we use this notion to guess where society will or won't be effective at pursuing some widely desired goal. An efficient market is one where smart individuals should generally doubt that they can spot overpriced or underpriced assets. We can ask an analogous question however about the 'efficiency' of other human endeavours.</blockquote> <p>This is a book about thinking about thinking, with a focus on anyone who would try, or presume, to be able to improve a complex system, say by starting a new business in the space. Can you know when there is a real gap or when you are being arrogant or over-optimistic? </p><p>The author Eliezer Yudkowsky is a veteran of artificial intelligence, who has spent much of his career hanging around Silicon Valley. </p><p>I found the book very thought provoking, although reading it out loud was quite tricky as the author's turn of phrase was often different to what I expected. </p><p>00 Preface and Acknowledgements <br>01 Inadequacy and modesty <br>02 An equilibrium of no free energy <br>03 Moloch's toolbox <br>04 Living in an inadequate world <br>05 Blind Empiricism <br>06 Against Modest Epistemology <br>07 Status regulation and anxious underconfidence <br>08 Conclusion <meta property="og:url" content="/audiobook-inadequate-equilibria"> <meta property="og:title" content="Audiobook: Inadequate Equilibria"> <meta property="og:image" content="/sites/matslats.net/files/inadequateequilibriumcover.jpg"> <meta property="og:description" content="A book about thinking about thinking, with a focus on anyone who would try, or presume, to be able to improve a complex system, say by starting a new business in the space. Can you know when there is a real gap or when you are being arrogant or over-optimistic?"></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-09-10T10:30:31+00:00" title="Saturday, September 10, 2022 - 10:30">Sat, 09/10/2022 - 10:30</time> </span> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">File attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-zip file--package-x-generic"><a href="/sites/matslats.net/files/Inadequate%20Equilibira.zip" type="application/zip" title="Inadequate Equilibira.zip"> Inadequate Equilibira.zip (243.47 MB) </a></span> <span>(243.47 MB)</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">audiobooks</a></div> </div> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=460&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="14C6odtvsLux2RCM9nGLLySUTTj3uXiYN1sJoUkcLQg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Sat, 10 Sep 2022 10:30:31 +0000 matslats 460 at https://matslats.net LETS and blockchains https://matslats.net/lets-blockchain-community-forge <span>LETS and blockchains</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>[Written for users of Community Forge software]</p> <p>It's thirteen years since Bitcoin launched and created an entirely new alternative currency movement. Bitcoin's original <a href="https://bitcoin.org/en/bitcoin-paper">white paper</a> called it not a money system, but a payment system. The innovative 'blockchain' technology behind it, allowed anyone to download a free wallet, connect to the network, and 'move tokens' to any other wallet in the network. Unlike a ledger in a bank, or in any one computer, those payments could not be prevented by politicians, sysadmins, or hackers. Nor could the ledger be destroyed because there were so many copies of it everywhere. It certainly does allow payment without banks and this possibly could excites many in the LETS community. It called itself 'trustless' system because it was not necessary to trust any individual or institution. In fact the ideology which most closely identified with Bitcoin was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-capitalism">anarcho-capitalism</a>, which preached that property should be absolute and inviolable, and that government should not able or allowed to regulate property or trade. In other words, it takes all the most regressive aspects of the prevailing neoliberal ideology and amplifies them.</p> <p>Before you can make a payment in Bitcoin, you must acquire tokens. The system cannot use fiat money because fiat money only exists in the form of cash and on the ledgers of banks. Bitcoin could not apply for a banking license because it has no institution and no country, and banks are required to 'know your customer' and report suspicious activity. So the new technology had to decide how to issue an accounting unit into some accounts before anyone would be able to pay. The ingenious solution was to issue the units as a reward to those who invested their processing power (basically electricity) to keep the network secure. These units have no value, because they have no use, and cannot be redeemed for anything. Their value is anchored to nothing, so the 'price' of these units in dollars is determined purely by supply and demand. Unfortunately that means the price was extremely volatile and the whole history of Bitcoin has been one of speculation.</p> <p>In this last decade some people speculating on blockchains have made a lot of money, and people proposing even the <a href="https://www.pcmag.com/news/23-weird-gimmicky-straight-up-silly-cryptocurrencies">stupidest projects</a> have been lavishly financed by new philanthropists, venture capitalists and speculators. </p> <p>There have been and continue to be, attempts to build community currencies, <a href="https://www.kolektivo.co/">even LETS</a> on blockchains, many by people who have no experience. But for several reasons, blockchains are not ideal for community currencies: </p><ul> <li>Blockchains are very very secure, but at the cost of usability. Accounts have long password and there is no way to recover the password if lost. </li> <li>The super-security is part of that trustless ethic, but in LETS we believe in building trust with other humans, rather than building machines so we don't have to trust humans. Its true that some LETS have had data disasters, but that hasn't been the end of the world because at the end of the day, LETS is not only about accounting. </li> <li>A community currency is much more than a payment system. In our Community Forge software, the accounting part of it is maybe 10% of all the site's functionality. So no effort is saved. </li> <li>Blockchain software is hard to change (almost immutable) and the languages and coding standards are evolving quickly quickly changing field. Resilient and independent communities who want their software to reflect their changing needs must not be held to ransom by super-specialist software engineers.</li> </ul> <p>The LETS movement has had a twilight atmosphere since I first encountered it in 2003, and needs and deserves a new lease of life. The practices it embodies, helping neighbours, serving each other, living locally, balancing production and consumption and ultimately building community, put to shame the prevailing economic systems which are ravaging our world. In my opinion though, blockchain tech, and its surrounding anti-human politics, money-for-nothing aspirations, and shitty economics (I didn't talk about that) have literally nothing to offer the LETS movement - not even money, because money always comes with someone else's agenda.</p> <p>I'm working on a way that LETS can become a global network which will rival Bitcoin in ways that it's most ardent supporters won't even understand! The <a href="https://creditcommons.net">Credit Commons Protocol</a> (<a href="https://creditcommons.net/assets/CC_booklet_french.pdf">French</a>)scales the principles, methods and values of LETS into a single (potentially global) system. It allows individuals and groups, (and groups of groups etc.) to record credits and debts on ledgers they own and control, using their own units of account, and their own software, while remaining independent of any outside governing authority. The question I want to pose to members of LETS is whether they want to coordinate globally and become greater than the sum of their parts.</p> </div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-06-24T17:17:52+00:00" title="Friday, June 24, 2022 - 17:17">Fri, 06/24/2022 - 17:17</time> </span> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=459&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="NjUjlNUFi6-P2fwUcg5UgdLK1Z02bafZmjaOU5fgaeE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Fri, 24 Jun 2022 17:17:52 +0000 matslats 459 at https://matslats.net Audiobook: Justice is an option https://matslats.net/audiobook-justice-is-an-option-robert-meister <span>Audiobook: Justice is an option</span> <div class="text-content clearfix field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><img src="/sites/matslats.net/files/JusticeIsAnOptionCover.png" width="40%" align="right" style="margin:0 0 1em 1em"> <p>I've been immersed in monetary theory for several years. At one point I realised that money-as-we-know-it and markets are actually just two aspects of the same idea, and that the two evolve together. So saying, I've read a lot about money, its sociology, history, philosophy etc, but very little about markets.</p> <p>This book is about modern financial markets more than money, but it does talk about monetary creation events such as quantitative easing, and the markets' need for various quantities of money. The title of the book is a pun, because the book is really about traded options, financial instruments that allow you to buy or sell assets at a known price in the future. Options provide a sort of insurance against the vicissitudes of the markets and can make doing business a bit more predictable. </p><p>The fundamental price of an option has 2 components:</p><ol> <li>the difference between the current price of the asset it is based on, and the price at which the option is set </li><li>the chance that the real price will change a lot before the option expires, which is based on the volatility of the price. This is the interesting one because the price of the option fluctuates as a square of the volatility of the underlying asset, which means</li></ol> <p>I've written at length about why and how the economy is impelled to grow, and Meister added to my knowledge. Rich people mostly don't hold money, they hold assets like shares because they intend to get richer when those prices go up (compared to money). The rich people measure their wealth using money, which means if they sold all their assets at the current price they would be $Xm rich.</p> <p>Now, despite the best efforts of the leading neolib-tard economists, markets seem to crash with increasing force and perhaps frequency. One reason for this is that more your assets are worth, the more money you can borrow to buy more assets, but the more vulnerable you are to price drops. </p> <p>Then one day all the rich people decide, as if by an invisible hand, that they don't want to hold assets any more, assets are falling, they want to hold money instead, which is safe. And everyone wants to sell. This creates 2 difficulties</p><ol> <li>everyone can't all sell all their assets all at the same time, especially not at the current price, because for every seller their must be a buyer. </li><li>there isn't enough actual money in the world, which if you think about it, is another way of saying the same thing. Money is after all supposed to be a medium of exchange, not a government-guaranteed backstop for financial speculators.</li></ol> <p>The government too, captured by the self-anointed too-big-to-fail institutions, can't allow the prices of all these assets to fail. This is the weak point of the whole system. I would have liked Meister to say a bit more about why. But the upshot is that it does a bailout and in order to keep the markets functioning, basically buys a load of these assets which the rich people have bid up and then decided the price was too high. Pretty big favour no? And of course Big Finance already knew they are going to do that, and adjusts its risk levels (upwards) accordingly. </p> <p>Meister's point is that since the government is in fact insuring private actors against market crashes, why isn't it collecting an insurance premium, which would at least cover the costs; and the obvious mechanism for that insurance premium would be the options market.</p> <p>Since the government isn't doing that, and isn't likely to do it while those actors are financing their election campaigns, what then shall we do? Meister devotes a chapter to explaining how one of the biggest risks to markets is revolution, and uppity plebs, even unsuccessful ones make the markets wobble. A bit crash like 2008 is a moment of maximum risk that the government might not bail out and the markets might actually fail and the balance of power might change. That means, using options, the more disruption the plebs can cause, the more money they can make. They might even use the money to cause even more disruption. This wouldn't even be an original strategy, plenty of hedge funds make money out of market volatility. It's not as they are more worthy citizens than disgruntled plebs. The main difference is that the plebs could be accused of insider trading if they create the volatility off which they profit.</p> <p>But the book isn't only about how to extract money by disrupting business as usual. A large part of the book is given over to why this is actually a legitimate form of restitution, and why it is morally justifiable to make rich people pay for NOT making a revolution. Meister's argument is about justice, but specifically historical justice. The financial system compounds the theft and extortion of the past by constantly increasing the gap between the enriched perpetrators and the impoverished victims. There's a lot of interesting and scholarly discussion around the current beneficiaries and victims of past injustice and the reasons for, and type and degree of restitution. Meister says that justice is very literally an option in the financial sense, And if you have that option you can you can cash it in now, or roll over in hope of the price increasing as justice (in the form of a political revolution) comes, or seems, closer.</p> <p>After reading the book I'm left with a feeling I've had before, that there is something broken in our current financial system; not the immorality, the shit economics, the corruption, but something fundamentally unworkable; as if the crashes and the bailouts which seem to catch everybody by surprise, are actually an inherent part of the system dynamics, but they are framed as accidents and emergencies so that they can say the system works most of the time. At the core of this idea is the notion of liquidity, which is very much explored in The End of Finance (<a href="/end-finance-amato-fantacci-audiobook">audiobook</a>). Liquidity is like the steel girders of the intellectual edifice of capitalism except when the earth quakes, they turn to jelly. </p> <p>Here are some <a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iI7IolsUAEGITVR9lDOdZz8rzf1fLR4iVoAFrwKhG30/edit">highlights</a> if you are still hesitant to dive in. </p> <p>I was excited to learn that there is a <a href="https://www.agency.gives">nascent startup</a> which intends to take these very theoretical ideas and put them into practice. </p><p>This book is very academic and I found it hard work, so I hope this review was a helpful distillation. Running time: 11hrs 30 mins. <a href="https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/J/bo49967326.html">Buy the book!</a> <meta property="og:url" content="/audiobook-justice-is-an-option-robert-meister"> <meta property="og:title" content="Audiobook: Justice is an Option by Robert Meister"> <meta property="og:image" content="/sites/matslats.net/files/JusticeIsAnOptionCover.png"> <meta property="og:description" content="Since the government is in fact insuring private actors against market crashes, why isn't it collecting an insurance premium, which would at least cover the costs; and the obvious mechanism for that insurance premium would be the options market."></p></div> <span><span>matslats</span></span> <span><time datetime="2022-06-02T10:03:38+00:00" title="Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 10:03">Thu, 06/02/2022 - 10:03</time> </span> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">File attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><span class="file file--mime-application-zip file--package-x-generic"><a href="/sites/matslats.net/files/Justice%20is%20an%20option.zip" type="application/zip" title="Justice is an option.zip"> Justice is an option.zip (485.94 MB) </a></span> <span>(485.94 MB)</span> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2" hreflang="en">audiobooks</a></div> </div> <section data-drupal-selector="comments" class="comments"> <h2 class="comments__title">Comments</h2> <div class="add-comment"> <div class="add-comment__form"> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=458&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="w8of27K4nPKrzxcn657X5d6biBTwGJ5NQskEp5Yar9I"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> </div> </section> Thu, 02 Jun 2022 10:03:38 +0000 matslats 458 at https://matslats.net