Peaks of power

The Holy Land
The Bosphorus
The Persian Gulf


Protestant Reformation in the 1500s
English Civil War in the 1640s
American Revolution in the 1780s
French Revolution in 1790s
Napoleon through the 18teens

Marx is writing in the 1840s

“Really tired of people characterizing criticism as attacks”

Really tired of people characterizing criticism as attacks. It’s not an attack to accurately describe that Musk is exploiting his workers.

Actually, I can think of a good example of an attack if Musk is wondering.

In 1916, workers in Everett, Washington were facing the worst of a serious economic depression. Sick and tired of low wages, terrible working conditions, a lack of work and manager apathy, the workers started to strike. The Industrial Workers of the world (IWW) came to Everett to support the workers in collectively bargaining for better jobs. The workers faced serious attacks in the local press, threats of retribution, threats of violence, and were “smeared” as anarchists and communists by the manager class and pro-business forced.

Upon arriving, IWW organizers were targeted by local pro-business vigilantes who beat them with axe handles in an attempt to drive them out of town.

It was on November the 5th of 1916 that several hundred local IWW members had a march for workers rights that went from downtown Seattle to the docks, singing the now famous labor song “Hold the Fort” in support of solidarity for better wages and working conditions. The pro-business forces in town had arranged for there to be armed good squads on the dock to meet with the labor demonstrators. More than 200 showed up, with the explicit support of the pro-business country sheriff. The goon squad opened fire on the peaceful union demonstrators, only a few of whom were armed for self-defense. By the time the shooting stopped, two of the goons had died (being accidentally shot in the backs by other goons) and the IWW listed 5 dead with 27 wounded. 74 IWW members were arrested and charged with the murder of the 2 goons. Thankfully, all were acquitted and released.

That. That right there is what an attack looks like. An attack comes from those with power against those without power. An attack is about control through fear, intimidation, and violence. Attacks are why those without power are forced to use the only advantage they have, sheer numbers through organization, to try and defend themselves.

Really, I’m very tired of people characterizing criticisms as attacks. We all know what attacks look like, and they usually come from people like Musk with unbelievable wealth and power who are looking to protect said wealth and power.

via this comment

Armies and Early Currency

Markets did spring up around ancient armies. See Kautilya’s Arthasastra, Sassanian “circle of sovereignty,” Chinese “Discourses on Salt and Iron”, they show “that most ancient rulers spent a great deal of their time thinking about the relation between mines, soldiers, taxes, and food. Generally they realize creating markets help not just feed soldiers but also helped them get a lot of other stuff out of their people too.

They used to need royal estates or workshops to produce things, or to “requisition” it directly from workers. But now they can just use markets to incentivize production of what they needed.

pg 50

Why did they make subjects pay taxes at all?

State Theory helps us solve one of the mysteries of the fiscal policy of early kingdoms: Why did they make subjects pay taxes at all?

If Adam Smith were right, and gold and silver naturally became money because free markets wanted them, then why wouldn’t the king just grab control of the gold and silver mines and become powerful that way?

Lots of early kings DID do that. But then what was the point of extracting the gold, stamping a picture on it, circulating it, and then demanding that people give it back again?

But if money and markets DON’T emerge naturally, it makes sense. That’s how you create a market.

If you want to support a standing army of 50,000 men, feeding them is really hard. But if you just give them coins and then demand that everyone in the whole kingdom pay you some of those coins, you turn your whole economy into a big machine to feed soldiers, because now everyone in the kingdom has to find a way to help feed soldiers so they can get the coins they need to pay you.

pg 49-50

Cryptocurrency and Credit Theory

The system of IOUs Graeber described when explaining Credit Theory, with Henry’s IOUs circulating all over the place, got me thinking.

He says something to the effect of “Of course Henry would have to be fabulously rich to have all transactions be carried out using tokens of his promise to pay a debt, which is why it’s usually the king who backs all that shit.”

Bitcoin/cryptocurrencies claim to be decentralized and thus revolutionary, but one of my big problems with them has always been that there’s no power backing them. It’s like they took the fiat idea of “all that matters is people’s faith in the currency’s value” to the extreme, totally ignoring the fact that people have faith in fiat currencies because they have faith in the entity that backs them’s power. Like, the dollar doesn’t just have value because people believe it does, the dollar has value cause the US will probably kill you if you say it doesn’t. At the very least it will be more inclined to let you live if you say it does.

What if, instead of mining and doing ledger work and all that, you earned bitcoin by putting up some property or service, some thing of value as backing for that coin? Loooots of regulating and enforcing has to go into this now, but of course the other huge problem with cryptocurrencies is their ridiculous game of make-believe about how they can run a power structure with no regulation or enforcement.

I don’t really know how this would work in practice, but the idea of a decentralized currency backed by the wealth and power of a great range of people instead of the wealth and power of a single entity is very appealing. Will have to flesh out further.

OK, so after reading the next paragraph of Debt I want to flesh this out a little further. Modern currency is backed by debt of the state, right? State sells bonds to banks which creates the debt that the banks then circulate. So what we’re talking about is the same thing, except letting people play the role that banks currently play. The Central Bank of our new system will take loans from people and give them currency in return.

State Theory of Money

So the big issue with Credit Theory is that whoever is writing all these IOUs that a money supply is based on has to be obscenely wealthy, which is why it’s usually The King or whoever who does it.

“The real impetus for the Chartalist position, in fact, came out of what came to be known as the ‘German Historical School,’ whose most famous exponent was the historian G.F. Knapp, whose State Theory of Money first appeared in 1905.”

Emperors and kings had always handled units of measure, so it makes sense they’d handle money too, under the chartalist model.

Monetary systems of measurement are remarkably stable. Under Henry II from 1154-1189, almost everyone in Europe was still using Charlemagne’s system from about 350 years earlier, even though some of the coins in his system never even existed, almost none of his coins were still around, and the ones that were were wildly variable in size/quality.

Actually Charlemagne’s system stayed in place for over 800 years, coming to be referred to as “imaginary money,” and derniers and livres were only abandoned as units of account around the time of the French Revolution.

But according to State Theory, what the money is made of (Silver or leather or fish or paper) doesn’t matter, as long as the state takes payment for taxes in it, because that becomes currency.

Actual modern banknotes are kind of the opposite though. They’re not backed by debts OF The King’s, they’re backed by debts TO the king. The Bank of England was founded in 1694 with a loan made by a consortium of bankers worth about 1.2 million Pounds. In return, they got a royal monopoly on issuing banknotes, basically that they could circulate IOUs from the king to them for that loan. (King owes bankers money for that loan, King writes a million IOUs, bankers give those IOUs to people to use as currency).

pg 47-8

Free Speech

Discussed on Twitch

The fundamental misconception of economics

“For there to even be a discipline called ‘economics,’ a discipline that concerns itself first and foremost with how individuals seek the most advantageous arrangement for the exchange of shoes for potatoes, or cloth for spears, it must assume that the exchange of such goods need have nothing to do with war, passion, adventure, mystery, sex, or death.”

“Economics assumes a division between different spheres of human behavior that, among people like the Gunwinngu and the Nambikwara, simply does not exist. These divisions in turn are made possible by very specific institutional arrangements– the existence of lawyers, prisons, and police– to ensure that even people who don’t like each other very much, who have no interest in developing any kind of ongoing relationship, but are simply intersted in getting their hands on as much of the others’ possessions as possible, will nonetheless refrain from the most obvious expedient (theft).”

pg 32-33

The King’s Language

“After all, to argue with the king, one has to use the king’s language, whether or not the initial premises make sense.”

pg 8