It hit me last evening at a crypto meeting at BitBelgium in Gent. The room was packed. And no hipsters. At all. Jimmy Two Button MiningKingsz spoke wisely of biosmodding and overclocking to get more hash power, the small time grafters looking so smart from the Muide and all over were talking alt coin, Federal Police in the house ( I guess with the obvious photographer :), David doing a fantastic political intro with heart as he called the impressive youngster from Gent4Humanity on stage to talk about the refugees in Calais and how we should have more solidarity simply because we are able to be at home.
On my left a guy who wanted out as all his money (including his children savings) was locked on Kraken, to our left a lady who had bought 200 euro worth of bitcoin early. A talk on DAO, Settlemint and real applications on the blockchain.
The miners mine in rigs these days switching from coin to coin in pools. IoTA came up a lot. Ripple, NEO , Ether and … no hipsters!
There was an energy in the room. Somebody mentioned May 68. Really? Yes. And well, I guess, it made some sense.
Revolutions are strange creatures. There must be something in the air.
Even Lévy in History of Magic speaks of this. There is real tension between bodies and literally we feel there is something in the air. Electricity.
The most difficult achievement in any upheaval, mayhem, revolution, whatever we choose to call it is to bring a coherent core of diversity and variety together in a temporary focus.
Ideologies, religion, at least here in Europe, big visions are no longer able to bring such a core into effect.
This time, this time it is about a very mundane, the most mundane issue: money. Your pay, your paycheck that you once ( I remember) could be paid in cash (in an envelope). The fees you pay to a bank and then it still takes three days to have your own money appear in a bank account in another country. The fact that I can not go on coinbase with a MasterCard. Let’s even not mention the obscene bonus policy of banks. We forget that we bailed them out only three years ago. Our money in the bank is making us nothing and even costing us, while we still pay fees to be able to pay for transfers in infrastructures that are paid for twenty times over. Let’s just abstract from all of that.
What is becoming very obvious to everyone in that room and everyone involved in crypto is that every currency is a hack. The dollar was build with violence, blood and hardcore power as it had to wipe out all the local currencies of the states, cities and villages running their own ICO’s.
Then one day you were called a forger, a counterfeiter as the rich and powerful (and owners of the ‘state’) made their move for their own coin: the dollar.
Some tell this tale so well.
I salute Fortino.
Oh, do I hope to go like Elijah when I go.
I doubt it.
Still, we can aim for some dignity.
Fortino Sámano, “a Zapatista lieutenant and counterfeiter, which Casasola snapped as Sámano, smoking a last cigar, appeared to stare death nonchalantly in the face moments before his execution by firing squad (it was reported that he himself gave the order to fire).”
He forged a coin. These days he could set up an alt coin.
But as long as the exchanges are not fully decentralized old money can still pay hacking power to bring down exchanges. Who labels what is ‘normal’, what is ‘criminal’? Well today it is still a very tiny subset of agency that is able to take down exchanges and sites by calling them ‘criminal’, but how would we know they are not taken down because of strategic reasons and a commitment to pre-digital power structures.
You know what I think?
I think back to Odessa in the early 1920s.
It is 1919, 20, 21. Konstantin Georgiyevich Paustovsky is in Odessa. The city is in perpetual fight. On some weeks three to four factions, groups and armies are occupying the city, just for a day or three days. Machno’s anarchists, Trotsky’s communists, Symon Petliura fascists, and the Whites of Denikin (whom in a way we must salute if only for the power of his strategic thinking and his Memoirs) all held the city for a while. They all had their own currencies. They refused to accept other coins or paper.
In comes the people.
Paustovsky recites how one day – no one knows who started to – the good people of Odessa decided to accept any, any coin or paper.
Creative souls started drawing bills of billions of daisies, strawberries, ripples, news, waltons, rubles…the one even prettier then the other.
And they were all accepted.
People smiled as they took the bills and negotiated with their own common sense and ‘intelligent touch’, their sensibilities.
The people is way more clever then given credit for.
When they realize there is no more common sense, dignity, truth or decency behind any of the tools they are forced to use daily and pay fully for with their own toiling hands, well, they will simply start accepting alt coins.
There is something in the air.