As an outspoken libertarian, those who know me may be surprised to know that I truly have seen bits and pieces of value in the different ideas that socialist thinkers have proposed in recent years (this does not include any of the ideas proposed by AOC… I’m just sayin’). When I say “bits and pieces”, what I mean is that I see the legitimacy of the questions they are trying to answer and the problems they are trying to fix. I completely disagree with their fundamental assumptions that centralizing power and resources in the government’s hands is the solution, but I do agree that there is a ‘problem’ that needs to be solved.
There truly is no reason for our world to have certain things fit into the definition of ‘normal’ that previous generations may have considered being as such. Poverty, poor health care, homelessness, extreme wage inequality, etc.; thanks to capitalism, the modern world has more than enough material resource and abundance to go around, yet our social organizational structure has continued to ensure that the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. This is the core problem I believe ‘socialists’ are trying to solve (if they are honest and genuine), and this is the problem I believe libertarians are also trying to solve. This begs the question: How do we create a more ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ society without creating secondary problems that will simply need to be fixed again later?
If you haven’t heard of Social Credits before, check out this video.
One way that socialist societies like China have decided to solve this problem is through the adoption of a system that tracks your social behavior and uses algorithms to maintain individual social ‘credit scores’ for its citizens. To quote one of the major creators of this tech system:
“Our goal is to ensure that if people keep their promises, they can go anywhere in the world, and if people break their promises, they won’t be able to move an inch.”– Manager of AliPay System in China
In short, this system will create a digital totalitarian state, where algorithms decide your fate, and nothing can be questioned. It will track buying habits, criminal records, financial history, political participation, online activity, social media behavior, and more. By 2020, China plans to track, rate, reward, and punish all of its citizens through this system, essentially turning every personal experience into a transaction.
As a ‘westerner’, I believe there are a few glaringly obvious problems with this type of system, not the least of which is the question of who exactly are the ones deciding what behaviors are considered socially acceptable or not? And, of course, this is ALWAYS the question whenever socialist ideas are proposed. Who’s in charge? Which behaviors and beliefs are okay, and which ones aren’t? Who watches the watchers?
History proves over and over and over again that this type of system always ends up creating an even greater disparity between the upper and lower classes, the haves and have-nots, the ruling class
Capitalism and Timebanking
After years of internal debate, I honestly don’t believe capitalism is a sustainable system in the world any longer. Like socialism and communism, it has also proven over and over again to create an unacceptable level of social disparity (albeit significantly less than socialism or communism) as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. At its core, however, I believe capitalism has the right central principle of trusting ‘the invisible hand of the market’. This invisible hand is really nothing more than the decentralization of power, which I believe to be the core idea that human society will always long for in its soul.
Modern capitalism (crony-capitalism), through the corruption of greed and the imbalance of wealth, has found ways to keep the invisible hand of the market artificially at bay, and the world is crying out for a new system once again. I believe Blockchain technology and crowdsourcing can solve this problem once and for all by placing the same information in everyone’s hands and letting the flow of resources follow the best ideas.
On a social level, I believe Timebanking is a beautiful ‘social credit’ system that has been launched as one response to this same social equality question.
In 1980, Edgar Cahn dreamed up a new kind of money. This new money would have no price: every hour would count the same. 1 hour = 1 hour.
Passionate about social justice, Edgar saw Timebanking as a way to restore community, to recognize and reward civic engagement. In the decades that followed, he became its strong, persistent champion, promoting T– Quote from TimeBanks.org
imebankingas a tool for creating a more just, more caring world.
Ironically… or unfortunately… however you look at it, Timebanking as a Social Credits System has found its way into the political discourse surrounding the 2020 presidential election in the United States. Candidate Andrew Yang has advocated the use of Timebanking on his website (now removed) and in multiple public discussions. And while I personally love the idea of Timebanking, I think it’s an absolutely TERRIBLE idea to have it centralized in the federal government’s hands (which is what he is advocating).
Why do I think it’s a terrible idea to put Timebanking in the government’s hands? Again, it would beg the overarching question: Who decides what is and what isn’t acceptable inputs of time into the system? If Democrats control the system, does volunteering for your local Republican candidate count? If Republicans are in charge, does organizing a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood count? Who watches the watchers?
In the end, I believe humanity is crying out for a more advanced social system and structure that our technology is finally allowing us to facilitate. A system that balances individual freedom with social responsibility. A system that is efficient and equal for all, not just the lucky ones.
We instinctively know this is possible, yet we continue to get trapped in the same old patterns of thinking we just need the ‘right people’ to be in charge.
For me, the answer continues to be obvious. Whatever social challenge you are trying to solve, decentralization of the power and information is the key. Blockchain and crowdsourcing allow for almost anything you can think of, and the best part is, it demands that only the BEST ideas survive.