The Radical Pluralism of Money


The Khan’s currency united all the stories about money because the Khan wielded all the coercive power. But the reverse is also true: He wielded all the coercive power because he united all the stories about money. Today, when we try to conjure one money to rule them all, we are implicitly seeking to concentrate coercive power in whomever holds that money. Yes, this is a critique of Bitcoin, but don’t fail to notice that it’s also a critique of “universal” basic income. I fervently wish to guarantee everyone a baseline of dignity, but there’s no telling what will be lost, or where power will end up concentrated, if a monetary baseline establishes a universal unit of account whose governance is not seriously accountable. “Local” or “community” basic income seem less dangerous.


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