Money and Politics

I’ve been watching lectures from the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Australia from this year and last year. There is some great stuff, including David Simon, creator and writer for The Wire (one of my favorite shows of all time) as well as Treme and a number of other critically acclaimed things. 

I love David Simon. He is passionate and brilliant, and understands the problems facing Western cities everywhere better than most. In this talk, he discusses how Marx warned us about what happens when Capitalism goes unchecked, and how we laughed at him, and here we are finding out he was right. He tells us that Marx was great at diagnosing the problem, but bad at coming up with solutions. Interestingly, it seems that David Simon is also a great diagnostician, and also has little in the way of ideas, least of all “dangerous” ones in the way this festival meant.

Simon was pessimistic, but articulate and sincere. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If we can only get money out of politics, everything else might fall into place.” To me Simon is one of the great realists in the world. His stories are tragically real. But when he said ‘If only’ it sounded as if he thought that maybe if we all wish it hard enough maybe it would happen. 

How do you get money out of politics? Has there ever been a separation of the two? In the U.S? Simon offered an idea for a better system of elections, but no way to get from here to there. 

Money is a tool created by man to accumulate power. So is politics. And power is a nasty business. Even if we could get money out of politics, why should we even bother? I mean, if it is not too much to ask for us to magically get money out of politics, why should it be too much to ask for a better system altogether? 

Dreams of a destination are great, but dreams of how we get there are greater still. How do we get the money AND politics out of the lives of human beings as much as possible so we can go about the business of being human? The process of how THAT happens is the dream that I am interested in. How do we empower ourselves and each other? How do we take control over our own lives AND have community too?

One thing we can do instead of futilely trying to get money out of politics is that we can get politics out of money. US dollars: fuck em. As soon as possible. When you get a check and taxes are taken out, if it’s for the common good, thats great. When it’s for wars, (and it’s mostly for wars, wars on you, wars on your neighbors, wars on farmers across the globe) than its a crime and you are a part of it. Get politics out of money. Politicians use their power to enrich themselves. We can’t win when we use the play money that they gave us, with their symbols on it. Its not for you, and its not for me, its for the billionaires. Its their game. Money, US Dollars, that IS politics. 

Digital currency is money without politics. There is no Federal Reserve, there is no IRS. That is happening now. An investment in digital currency, or deciding to accept digital currency at your business could make more difference than every vote you’ve ever cast in your life. This is how change happens. Not, as we all found out, from Barack Obama. 

David Simon, as brilliant as he is, is looking for solutions from our past instead of from the present. 

We can get money out of our way. We can get politics out of our way. Bureaucracies are falling, and as Nietzsche said, “That which is falling should also be pushed.” People I know, people who could benefit tremendously, who are benefitting tremendously from the system we live in; intelligent, educated people; the amount of them who want to see this system fall is astounding. I’m talking about college graduates with careers, not homeless kids with face tattoos. But most people, myself included, want there to be something better to take its place. Or at least, something viable. 

Right now a tremendous amount of people are learning to code so that they join a movement, and build the scaffolding upon which the new system will rest. You can be one of those people. We can replace bureaucracy with intelligent networks, we can even replace Apple and Google with intelligent networks. (Although Google is smartly getting into robotics, and hardware is much more difficult to do open source. Until we have autonomous robot-building robots, which is a ways off. But I think that would be a great place for a big company, while leaving our information to us.) 

If you look backwards for ideas, you won’t find any. Looking forward, there are so many ideas it can be overwhelming. Good. Let us be overwhelmed in possibility and let us begin connecting those dots. Let us forget the old game we used to play called Capitalism in a representative democracy, and create the world a new. This is not a nightmare we can wake up from. What we are living is an abusive relationship. A deep trauma that has stolen who we are. We must build reality back up brick by brick, until we remember that we are the earth and the stars. Until we remember that wealth is not for power, but for living life while making sure our children don’t die of something preventable. We must rebuild our reality until the GDP, the flag, petty tribalism, the nation state, and hoping for change are all seen as what they really are: outdated fantasies. You are reading this on what recently would be called a super computer, and it is connected to millions more, all over the world, all in the hands of people like you. We must reclaim our ability to house ourselves, to feed ourselves, to take care of ourselves. We can. I believe (traditional) money and politics has little to do with it, and I believe that’s a good thing. 

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