FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Democratizing Finance (With Bitcoin?)

On the 18th of August I attended the Robin Hood [1] pop up lab in Helsinki, Finland. I was expecting one more of those nurturing sessions of saving the world with much love and of course, post-its! No, it was a well-attended session where a real practical approach is being thought out and applied.

Many of us have heard of it: The Bitcoin [2], Ethereum, Blockchain… It promises a world where money has no ruler and it’s all transparent. It is part of the ongoing trend from polytheism, to monotheism, to atheism, from feudal systems to fascists, to no rulers (anarchy): we are slowly (maybe too slowly) getting to the real number on how many masters we need to drive us to the greener side of the hill: NONE!

Robin Hood is not just advancing on new methods based on Blockchain [3] (which Bitcoin uses too) but it has been using algorithms on the stock market to redistribute money. There are plenty other organizations who are doing alike and even so through art. For example  Goldin+Senneby [4]. I recently attended a theater play of them in Helsinki; I paid 20 euros for two tickets which turned out to be shares. Sometime after I got this email:

“Dear Pedro, you attended a magic show called ”On a Long Enough Timeline the Survival Rate for Everyone Drops to Zero”. You invested €20 in a financial shorting selling campaign against the company Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (KERX).On your behalf we took a short position in KERX (i.e. sold borrowed stocks) at $ 13.13 on March 16th 2015. And we set a target price of under $ 8 for the stock. After some successful magic we reached our target last week and bought back the stock at $ 7.88 on 29 July 2015. Discounting transaction costs and interest payments for borrowing the stock, we made a magical profit of 64.7%. In other words, your initial investment of € 20 has grown to € 32.94. In order to transfer this money to you we would need your bank details, including:1) IBAN number2) BIC/SWIFT code. Goldin+Senneby”

The promise of a free socially equalizing and democratic platform was once thought to be the internet which we now realize failed to be so. It was greatly hijacked by big business and governments so now it has been partly transformed into an ultra-exploitative platform, the sole true free capitalist platform we know about. The internet allows monopolies to arise, such as Amazon, killing local business, such as bookshops, and exploit workers for the profit of the very few ones.

“Twenty years after the dawn of the Internet era, two things are unquestionably true. First, in terms of its reach, impact, and transformative effect, the Internet has exceeded anyone’s wildest imagination. And second, we live in a less equal country than at any point since the Gilded Age.” [5] [6]

“Google has a little over 54,000 employees and generated revenues of around $50 billion in sales or about $1.0 million per employee.” [7]

The same could happen with Blockchain, and we see already corporations and governments taking over part of it. So will it work or will it be another half failed attempt as the internet is starting to be?

My doubts are also Pekko Koskinen’s, one of the speakers of the last session in Helsinki. The alluring perspective of a P2P system, where money can be traced down where it has been and what it has done or where we can rate the money, sounds all great, but such a system cannot be unregulated nor can it be regulated by any kind of government for wealth distribution (keep in mind that today’s internet giants barely pay taxes).

So a self-regulative system might be the answer (as one would expect if comparing with nature). Surely it will have flaws and it might not even endure, but we do not know until we try it, and we better do try it as we are running out of time!

Notes.

[1] Robin Hood is an activist hedge fund. They use financial technologies to democratize finance, expand financial inclusion, and generate new economic space. They analyze big data, write algorithms, deploy web-based technologies, and engineer financial instruments to create and distribute surplus profits for all.  (from http://robinhoodcoop.org/#what)

[2] Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. cf. https://bitcoin.org/en/

[3] cf. the talk with Vinay Gupta: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/blockchained-conversation-vinay-gupta/2015/08/10

[4] cf. http://www.goldinsenneby.com/gs/

[5] cf. PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS’ article on “The Collapsing US Economy” https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/11/the-collapsing-us-economy/

[6] cf. “Inequality and the Internet” by Ron Klain: http://www.democracyjournal.org/37/inequality-and-the-internet.php

[7] cf. “The Internet Is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History” by Bill Davidow, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-internet-is-the-greatest-legal-facilitator-of-inequality-in-human-history/283422/

More articles by:

Pedro Aibéo is the Senior Design Architect and Civil Engineer at AIBEO architecture in Finland. He is the Art Director of “Cidadania” theatre+games group in Germany and a Visiting Associate Professor & Researcher at UNAM (Mexico), Wuhan (China) and at Aalto (Finland) on the topic of “Architectural Democracy”. His latest book “Isto Nao É Só Matemática” was a bestseller comic novel about Mathematics, in Portugal.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 25, 2020
Michael Hudson
The Democrats’ Quandary: In a Struggle Between Oligarchy and Democracy, Something Must Give
Paul Street
The “Liberal” Media’s Propaganda War on Bernie Sanders
Sheldon Richman
The Non-Intervention Principle
Nicholas Levis
The Real Meaning of Red Scare 3.0
John Feffer
Cleaning Up Trump’s Global Mess
David Swanson
How Are We Going to Pay for Saving Trillions of Dollars?
Ralph Nader
Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed
John Eskow
What Will You Do If the Democrats Steal It from Sanders?
Dean Baker
What If Buttigieg Said That He Doesn’t Accept the “Fashionable” View That Climate Change is a Problem?
Jack Rasmus
The Nevada Caucus and the Desperation of Democrat Elites
Howard Lisnoff
The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again
Binoy Kampmark
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed
John W. Whitehead
Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn Schools into Prisons
Marshall Sahlins
David Brooks, Public Intellectual
February 24, 2020
Stephen Corry
New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind
M. K. Bhadrakumar
How India’s Modi is Playing on Trump’s Ego to His Advantage
Jennifer Matsui
Tycoon Battle-Bots Battle Bernie
Robert Fisk
There’s Little Chance for Change in Lebanon, Except for More Suffering
Rob Wallace
Connecting the Coronavirus to Agriculture
Bill Spence
Burning the Future: the Growing Anger of Young Australians
Eleanor Eagan
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
Binoy Kampmark
The Priorities of General Motors: Ditching Holden
George Wuerthner
Trojan Horse Timber Sales on the Bitterroot
Rick Meis
Public Lands “Collaboration” is Lousy Management
David Swanson
Bloomberg Has Spent Enough to Give a Nickel to Every Person Whose Life He’s Ever Damaged
Peter Cohen
What Tomorrow May Bring: Politics of the People
Peter Harrison
Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon?
Weekend Edition
February 21, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Election Con 2020: Exposing Trump’s Deception on the Opioid Epidemic
Joshua Frank
Bloomberg is a Climate Change Con Man
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Billion Dollar Babies
Paul Street
More Real-Time Reflections from Your Friendly South Loop Marxist
Jonathan Latham
Extensive Chemical Safety Fraud Uncovered at German Testing Laboratory
Ramzy Baroud
‘The Donald Trump I know’: Abbas’ UN Speech and the Breakdown of Palestinian Politics
Martha Rosenberg
A Trump Sentence Commutation Attorneys Generals Liked
Ted Rall
Bernie Should Own the Socialist Label
Louis Proyect
Encountering Malcolm X
Kathleen Wallace
The Debate Question That Really Mattered
Jonathan Cook
UN List of Firms Aiding Israel’s Settlements was Dead on Arrival
George Wuerthner
‘Extremists,’ Not Collaborators, Have Kept Wilderness Whole
Colin Todhunter
Apocalypse Now! Insects, Pesticide and a Public Health Crisis  
Stephen Reyna
A Paradoxical Colonel: He Doesn’t Know What He is Talking About, Because He Knows What He is Talking About.
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A New Solar Power Deal From California
Richard Moser
One Winning Way to Build the Peace Movement and One Losing Way
Laiken Jordahl
Trump’s Wall is Destroying the Environment We Worked to Protect
Walden Bello
Duterte Does the Right Thing for a Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail