[OPE-L:1842] electronic money

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Sun, 21 Apr 1996 07:38:16 -0700

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More "ruminations" on the possible "vulnerabilities and weaknesses of
capitalism" (Paul B take note):

Mike Williams wrote in [OPE-L:1838]:

> - The most highly developed form of money to date, necessary for the
> reproduction of highly developed capitalism, are entries in an
> electronic ledger (or even on a smart card or electronic purse).

* Why is electronic money "necessary" for the reproduction of highly
developed capitalism?

[Suppose the computers which kept the entries crashed and the records
were deleted. Or suppose that a Robin Hood neo-Luddite hacker altered
the account balances -- interesting possibilities for sci fi films. Would
capitalism collapse (I think not) or would a new (or old) money form
emerge (or re-emerge)?].

* Why haven't nations sold off their gold reserves? Are the reserves
entirely redundant or are they still required (and, if so, for what

* Are there limitations and problems with the process of making
electronic money universal? For instance:

* If traditional forms of currency in circulation (coins and paper
currency) were eliminated, this would change the relationship between
the citizen and the state since it would mean that the state would
(rather easily) have records of all earned income. Effectively, this
would eliminate "unreported income" and the "underground economy."
While this might be seen as a worthwhile objective from the
standpoint of the state, one would imagine that there would be
rather strong (in some cases, quite literally) social forces opposed
to this process.

* Wouldn't it - ironically - lead to a partial return to the barter
system? For instance, if currency in circulation was eliminated, if
you wanted to "sell" a chair to me, how would that exchange be effected?
Wouldn't we either have to go to a bank to have the transaction recorded
(an unlikely occurrence) or wouldn't I have to exchange some object or
service for the chair? Or, relating to the above, suppose a capitalist
employs undocumented laborers. Wouldn't it mean, in practice, that the
workers would have to be paid directly with consumption goods?

* What would happen in a crisis or hyperinflation if capitalists and/or
workers demanded payment in some more tangible material object like gold
or silver or some other state token of account, e.g. the dollar?

In OPE-L Solidarity,