This edition of ‘Monkey Logic’ is Part One of a two-part series on how to fix all the problems of the world…
As an experiment, I am also reading these essays on YouTube, let me know what you think:
Or, read on…
Pre-collapse Economics — The Poison
What’s on the other side?
The other side of what?
The other side of the slide.
The other side of the burning curtain which separates expired, tired, trashy today from pre-singularity tomorrow.
I see past the smoke and teargas.
Let me tell you what I see…
But first, a recap…
We find ourselves at a significant point of inflection. We cannot fail to see a general decay in trust across the board. Belief in truth, confidence in institutions, and faith in our fellow citizens are evaporating like spilt champagne on a summer terrace. Even money, the foundation of our consumer society is looking increasingly shaky. Paraphrasing Warren Buffet: “We’ve moved from a system where debt is repaid, to a system where debt is reimbursed.” Mr Buffet goes on to point out that we don’t know if this new system of laissez-faire money printing will work better than the old system, but he’s buying goldmines and selling banks. You can draw your own conclusions; I will give you mine for free:
Money is toast. Don’t bother looking for its value, it’s gone. Evaporated.
The only reason we still use it is that up until very recently, there was nothing better …more on this later. Countries that suggest they might like to be paid in something more tangible than bits of paper, or digital bits of bytes, get a dose of sense forcibly regime-changed into them. Just ask Gaddafi about his plan for an African gold dinar. Money, a once functional tool, has been so abused and twisted by bad faith actors that it is now a ridiculous clown of its former self. We broke it. Just like we break anything to get to the value inside.
I’m not one of those people who claim our entire economic system is a lizard run conspiracy, but I suggest that even the most propaganda riddled, blue-pill, sheep-person will concede that not all motives are pure. Not all humans are upright and honourable. They scam if they can. This is a fact. In pursuit of personal gain, people will leverage loopholes they discover in systems ostensibly built to ensure the common good. This type of person naturally gravitates towards positions of power where they can enlarge their favourite loopholes and further bend the rules. Buoyed up by a lack of push back, they begin to fragrantly break the rules and soon, the abused, bent and mangled system of law and order will cease to have any power. After this, the system will collapse, chaos will ensue, and we will be forced, at least for a while, to play by the rules printed on the box that the universe came in:
Sticks and stones. Tooth and nail.
Our current economics, for the sake of argument, let’s call it neoliberal free-market capitalism, has had a good run, but it’s approaching this collapse.
This is how things go. Human systems of governance have a half-life; they decay as they are systematically pierced by loophole spelunkers and eroded by bad-faith regulators
Laws can not long survive the relentless abrasive wind of human corruption; although some artefacts of ordinance prove more resistant to this decay than others. A wealthy Roman merchant’s fortune, buried in panic and then dug up two thousand years later, will have retained its value. This is because gold is not a made-up thing. It is real in a way IOUs and paper money are not.
Gold is shiny, which makes people want it.
Gold is rare, which means not everybody can have it.
Gold’s value comes from desirability and scarcity and its scarcity is not something artificial under the control of corrupt rulers, rather it comes from the rules of the universe. Gold is heavy. When Earth was molten most of it settled into the core beyond our greedy digging.
So if we want to find a system upon which to build longterm prosperity for our species, we need to bind our laws to something resistant to fiddling.
Could we base our new economics on gold? Probably not:
- Gold’s scarcity might not survive the next couple of decades of technological advancement. Gold is rare in the universe - one atom for every hundred trillion atoms of hydrogen - but there is just so much miscellaneous stuff floating around in the vastness of space, that somebody is going to bring back a big boulder of precious metals at some point in the next couple of decades; and when I say big, I mean big like Paris. One day, SpaceX, or SpaceY or SpaceZ, will drag a Trillion tons of gold, platinum, and nickel into orbit and announce that they are ready to start parachuting pre-smelted ingots directly down to your factory’s parking lot anywhere on the planet.
- Gold is money, but money is only one ingredient of an economic system. We don’t only need a substance to store and exchange value, we need an inviolate substrate upon which to build an entire system of economics beyond meddling.
When I say a substrate, I am talking about the rules and the board where the game of commerce is played. When I say inviolate, I mean it is impossible to make illegal moves.
‘Base-reality’ has the property that some ‘moves’ are impossible:
It is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.
It is impossible to turn water into wine - at least without a shit ton of high-tech equipment.
This is why these things are considered miracles. The substrate, the game-board that is the universe, has rules which can not be broken. Some things will always be impossible for mortals, only somebody with administrative privileges on the universe can do magic: the creator, his son, or one of his handful of upper-management gods. Compare this to the edifice of money and delegated force where we play today’s games of power. Once only the king was allowed to perform bureaucratic miracles, these were called decrees, today, with a de facto global constitution assembled from hundreds of thousands of treaties, laws, and backroom deals, there are as many kings as there are billionaires. As soon as an individual has sufficient funds, they join the crowded pantheon of gods and are able to force miracles onto the system. Minor economic deities do small miracles: bending planning laws to make sure no new houses are built in front of their villas; while really powerful oligods change demographies and confiscate wealth and health.
As an aside, this is what the right to bear arms was all about. If everybody had a gun-so the American founding fathers thought-everybody would be a little god and all the little gods together would keep the Titans in check. It turned out that there were many flaws in this plan, for a start it was enacted before aircraft carriers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and computational propaganda, but at least it was an attempt to build some ‘base-reality’ real-world resilience into the system of governance.
In summary, the laws of the universe are inviolate, but they are also crude and often come down to hitting people with lumps of reality in order to take other bits of reality off them. Human laws, even when they start off well-intentioned, always become corrupted and broken as they are hollowed out by bad faith actors pissing on the commons and looting our bureaucratic edifices for personal gain.
We need something robust and tamper-proof to stand against the relentless abrasion of a billion tricky monkeys, while, at the same time, being subtle and nuanced enough to encapsulate our instinct for fairness.
We need a new playing board immune to meddling by the players; a neutral, inviolate ‘substrate’ to provide the same governance functions as our current system, i.e. it’s laws, treaties, obligations, contracts, agreements, threats, promises…
On this ‘board’, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, capitalists, industrialists, artists, teachers, scientists, mothers, and soon, synthetic intelligences too, will, by plying their trades and taking their chosen paths through life, help our species on its journey from the caves to the stars; hopefully without the inane predictability of kleptocrat predators running off with all the goodies every few centuries and needing to have their manners guillotined back into them.
Lucky for us, I have developed a truly marvellous demonstration of such a system which unfortunately this ‘margin’ is too narrow to contain…
Details on the solution to all the world’s problems in the next issue of Monkey Logic 😉
A digital doodle. I’m building the mood and characters for an upcoming book.
This is the Consensus interior of a Katarra Skiff; space would be significantly more cramped in the Real.