Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, October 05, 2015

Beware Libertechbrotarians Bearings Gifts: BIG Meets Bitcoinsanity

I've warned about the stealth neo-feudalization schemes libertechbrotarians advocate in the name of "basic income" in my short essay: A Neoliberalization of Basic Income Discourse? Here's a taste:
Right-wing forms of "basic" income advocacy reduce all too readily to visions of bare life without the rights, standards, and supports to ensure an actually legible scene of consent to the terms of everyday relations for the majority of the people. Game the minimum "sufficient" basic income into a state of near-precarity without recourse to any other pillars of equity-in-diversity and you've peddled feudalism as a universally emancipatory scheme -- in the drearily predictable right-wing manner.
Now, Behold!

A wacky survey of basic income conjoined to bitcoinsanity, digital-sharecropping, and Burning Man-style good vibes on a planetary scale, man, has been provided in what seems a sympathetic post from the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives. Some highlights (and you must forgive my occasional incredulous irrepressible eruptions):
Greg Slepak, for instance, is the sort of Bay Area software developer who reads the Yelp reviews of homeless shelters to learn about their conditions.
[And we all know what "sort" of Bay Area software developer THAT is.--d]
“We cannot say with a straight face that we provide welfare to Americans,” he has concluded. “We don’t.”
[Actually, of course, we do, and to the extent that we do we make the world a better place -- and that we don't do enough is obvious and almost entirely because of the power simplistic libertopian rhetoric like his own in the hands of Republican anti-tax anti-welfare anti-commonwealth plutocrats.--d]
His response, of course,
[Of course!--d]
is software -- in particular, Group Currency, a specification for online currency systems that provide basic income-like
[To be clear, "like" here means: not really at all.--d]
distributions of funds to all their users. He believes that the technology underlying Bitcoin -- a database called a blockchain,
[Gadzooks, here they go again with the blockchain of fools.--d]
shared among its users without need for central authority -- makes this possible in ways that it wasn’t before. When based on a blockchain, money itself can be a shared resource. “For the first time in the internet’s history, mass ownership is possible,” Slepak says. “It gives individuals back their self-determination, back their dignity, back their freedom.”
[None of this is actually true in reality, of course, unless abetting fraud and arms sales and human trafficking is what you mean by "self-determination," and for an unusually high proportion of libertechbrotarian "Thought Leaders" from the good old days of the cypherpunks list to the present, that weirdly seems to be the case when a case is actually made beyond handwaving.--d]
... In San Diego, Alex Goodwin has more than just a schematic. The initial implementation of his idea, FairShare, is already up and running -- it uses a bot on Reddit
[Sounds Very Serious to me!--d]
to pass out portions from a stash of donated bitcoins. Payouts are still small,
[We call that an understatement, kids.--d]
but they’re there for the taking.
[Especially if you're on the take.--d]
Slepak considers the FairShare specification “vague,”
[The hell you say!--d]
but Goodwin wants to develop the project through practice, not theory. He takes as his motto an utterance of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin: “We shouldn’t delay forever until every possible feature is done.” ... Perhaps the most eyecatching
digital basic income out there is the one associated with BitNation -- ”a collaborative platform for do-it-yourself governance” led by Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, a Swedish entrepreneur whose resume includes contracting stints in Afghanistan and Libya.
[Oh, "entrepreneur[ial] stints," were they?--d]
The idea is to use blockchain technology to provide opt-in, state-like
[There's that pesky "like" that doesn't mean like again.--d]
services free from the constraints of borders. Basic income is to be one of those services -- alongside pensions,
[Vaporware pensions are the BEST, y'all.--d]
marriage contracts,
[You provide the Elvis impersonator.--d]
and “contract enforcement”
[Pretend not to notice this is an endorsement of gangland warlordism and you too might be a future Thought Leader!--d]
-- though the program has fallen short of its initial $20,000 crowdfunding goal. Tempelhof is outright opposed to a basic-income scheme coming from a government.
[Of course she is. Anything from government is BAD, you know, democracy, rule of law, public goods, civil rights, all that jackboot stuff rich white sooper-businessmen can save us from like Ayn Rand sez.--d]
“At Bitnation
[Where's that, you ask? Everywhere, of course, and also nowhere.--d]
everything is done through voluntary means, rather than through forcing people through the use of -- or threat of -- violence,” she says.
[Since we all know real world "voluntary" contracts are never duressed by inequity, fraud, misinformation, blackmail, precarity! This is the classic and enabling "free enterprise" disavowal/delusion.--d]
“We believe voluntary participation is the only morally defendable way of doing things.”
[Just ask anybody who has voluntarily participated in wage slavery, not to mention human trafficking and serfdom.--d]
... For those wary of cryptocurrency,
[You know, Luddites and Statists who aren't riding the Wave of the Future.--d]
there are other ways to fund a basic income program that don’t require an act of Congress
[Being agin' the gu'ment does seem to be the main thing, after all.--d]
... the organization GiveDirectly turns donations into direct cash transfers in poor regions.
[Ah, to warlordism and serfdom we now add the selective supplemental of largesse and patronage from certain high-minded aristocrats. Another forward thinking futurological policy proposal from our cherished bleeding edge tech culture progressives!--d]
Follow the link for more in this vein. In case you are curious, my own sooper-statist-deathist-luddite "Pay-to-Peer" argument on this subject is here. Another taste:
I argue that the free creative content provision, collaborative problem-solving and editing, citizen journalism and criticism facilitated by peer-to-peer networks provides public goods the ongoing support of which more than justifies the provision of a universal basic income guarantee (BIG). I argue, further, that a long history of public subsidization of communications infrastructure (the post office, roads, telegraphy, telephony, WWW) and of public education to facilitate continental-scaled good governance among a well-informed citizenry since the founding era offers a congenial context for the comparable case for a public subsidization of "free time" for citizens in the expectation that enough of them would fill it with innovative problem solving and network maintenance that it would more than compensate the public investment.... In the absence of its public subsidization peer to peer collaboration is always accompanied by increasing precarity. Whenever and wherever peer-to-peer labor formations are celebrated (for their "open access," for their "flexibility," for their "resilience," for their "innovation"), but this celebration is not just as repeatedly and explicitly accompanied by the recognition that this provision of services and maintenance of public goods is almost certainly unpaid labor, then one must read such celebrations for what they are, as celebrations of exploitation. p2p means EITHER Paid to Peer OR it means Peers to Precarity. The politics are as stark as that, and the evidence of their urgency mounts by the minute.


April Daniels said...

The return key is our friend. Do not neglect her.

Dale Carrico said...

Bow before the Wall of Words! It sounds better in Klingon. And, yeah, you're right.

Dale Carrico said...

Edited, hope that helps.

April Daniels said...

Much better, thank you.

And uh, these guys creep me out. "Voluntary" is the buzzword, but when it really comes down to it, what they seem to mean by it is that if I'm starving to death and you've got more food than you could possibly eat, then the moment I demand you give me food so I won't fucking die then suddenly I'm the bad guy.

Of course, such situations usually arise out of longstanding systems of injustice, but let's sweep that under the rug for now, and all tremble in fear at the Dread Lord Coercion, who has risen again to murder freedom in its bed...

jimf said...

> Pretend not to notice this is an endorsement of gangland
> warlordism and you too might be a future Thought Leader!. . .

> . . .the scale and scope of gun-violence in the United States
> is exceptional. . .

> . . .violent, inequitable, unaccountable, non-representative,
> predatory. . .

I know this sort of thing grates on your ears, Dale, but
I can't help but to see one common theme here:
Festival of Dangerous Ideas: Anne Manne - The Narcissism Epidemic
Sep 1, 2014

The stories of Anders Behring Breivik and Lance Armstrong
may seem to have little in common, but each shows the
consequences of the epidemic of narcissism that marks our age.

There are some charming comments, too:

"The fat bitch is so jealous and hateful of those
Unique And Wonderful Creative Individuals because she
is just talentless, meaningless, organic mass reeking
of cheap mediocrity. . ."