Image by TW Collins

Recently, the Indian government took its high value bills out of circulation, in order to fight corruption. This has been bad for the economy, not just because the gray economy is large in India, but because India is a place where a ton of business is done by cash, not by credit.

In France, because of “terrorism,” cash purchases are now limited to one thousand euros.

In many countries, there is a push to move away from cash, towards electronic payments. Electronic payments are, of course, easier for governments to track.

The obvious point is about taxation; you can tax money you know about. But the less obvious point is about control and surveillance: If everything is done electronically, you can know who is doing what, because spending is doing. Nothing meaningful can be done in the modern world without money following it. People need money to live and money must be used to buy any goods involved.

Anything that can be seen can be controlled. Readers may remember when PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard all decided to cut off payments to Wikileaks. I know it’s common on the left now to hate Wikileaks, but only a fool doesn’t understand the power involved in stopping someone from getting money.

In the legal nootropics scene (substances for boosting performance, especially mental), banks have simply refused to allow nootropics firms to do business, even though what they are selling is perfectly legal. This has put people out of business. It is not a minor matter.

In previous years, banks would either not lend to Blacks or they would charge them more than whites; they judged based on criteria which was not then, nor is it now, any of their business. Who or what is discriminated against varies with the fears and mores and politics of the time.

Every time someone talks about getting rid of cash, they are talking about getting rid of your freedom. Every time they actually limit cash, they are limiting your freedom. It does not matter if the people doing it are wonderful Scandinavians or Hindu supremacist Indians, they are people who want to know and control what you do to an unprecedentedly fine-grained scale.

Meanwhile, we have blockchain technology. Blockchains have ledgers: They keep track of every single transaction performed.

Evangelists of blockchains seem to think that because they make encrypted electronic money possible, they are wonderful, but what I see is a totalitarian technology; a way of keeping minute track of every single transaction, ever.

Cash isn’t completely anonymous. There’s a reason why old fashioned crooks with huge cash flows had to money-launder: Governments are actually pretty good at saying, “Where’d you get that from?” and getting an explanation. Still, it offers freedom, and the poorer you are, the more freedom it offers. It also is very hard to track specifically, i.e., who made what purchase.

Blockchains won’t be untaxable. The ones which truly are unbreakable will be made illegal; the ones that remain, well, it’s a ledger with every transaction on it, for goodness sakes.

(Saying this will likely lead to some blockchain evangelist screaming in the comments, because fanatics can’t see the downside of what they are fanatical about, only the exaggerated upsides.)

We are moving towards a panopticon society in which everything you do can be tracked. Everything, including inside the so-called privacy of your house. As biometrics like gait tracking and infrared identification become better, as we put surveillance devices in our houses, and as we continue to carry bugs and tracking devices with us everywhere we go (and paying for the privilege of it) we are creating, as the tired line runs, a dystopian surveillance society that reaches far beyond anything imagined in 1984. (Remember, Big Brother could not record, for example.)

We are creating a society where even much of what you say, will be knowable and indeed, may eventually be tracked and stored permanently.

If you do not understand why this is not just bad, but terrible, I cannot explain it to you. You have some sort of mental impairment of imagination and ethics.

Understand, however, that getting rid of cash is part of this. Understand that blockchains, “coins” do not have to ultimately be a technology of freedom, but can easily be a totalitarian technology. Understand that virtually no one in a position of power is your friend on this: They want to know, they want to control, they want to be able to decide how you spend your money and your time, and they want to have an electronic dossier on you which is complete, and which will be usable to destroy you, because no one has never done or said something which cannot be made to look not just bad, but terrible and illegal, especially if you can pick, say, ten quotes or actions out of a lifetime.

The only way to protect yourself against the surveillance state will be to become a complete and utter drone who has never done or said anything interesting. It’s too late for the olds, but those who grow up in it will understand, and will become nothings because of it.

We are moving very steadily towards a totalitarian state which will make the Stasi look like bumbling amateurs, and we are doing so with little murmur, and often voluntarily.

The only thing likely to derail this, oddly, is catastrophic environmental change and collapse.


The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.