How Can Crypto-Money Become a Money of the Commons

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Andrea Fumagalli:

Current (aka BTC, Bictoin) "crypto-money ... is part of the traditional financial system. There is no emancipation, but subsumption. There is no alternative, but compatibility.

The question becomes: how can crypto-money, once freed by institutional constraints, be able to lead the attack to the heart of oligarchy of financial big intermediaries? In other words, can crypto-money become, as instrument, the money of the common?

Some preliminary suggestions to the build of alternative financial circuits

To answer to the last question, we need to better define what is a money of the common (that has nothing to do with common goods). The discussion on this issue is quite differentiated, since there is no an unique answer. Autonomist Marxism (i.e. Carlo Vercellone, C. Marazzi and myself) on the basis of the hypothesis of cognitive bio-capitalism agree in identifying four main elements which should be guaranteed in its algorithms and its implementation as far the concept of money of the common is concerned:

· Not to be cumulative and cannot become the subject of speculation. In consequence it must lose a part of its value over time. It is therefore a melting or burning money.

· To be able to mitigate the dependence of workers from the economic constraints of the sale of their labour-force and therefore the wage relation, i.e. reducing precariousness.

· To be able to allow, on this basis, to free up time and resources to develop alternative forms of cooperation based on the pooling of knowledge, and the results of the production, however, on exchange networks that exclude the logic of profit. Participation in the network in which the circulating money of the common constitutes adherence to these principles, whether they are individuals, of companies or institutional actors.

· To be a non-property

These four parameters imply that the way in which the money of the common enters in the economic process is not through exchange or financial activity (as mean of payment or store of value), but through the financing of production activity (be material or immaterial).

More specifically, the money of the common can represent an alternative to the monetary and financial production economy if it is used firstly as monetary payment of labour-force, may be, at the beginning, in a complementary way, able to increase the wages, paid in traditional money.


The money of the common should substitute finance money. That means that the money of the common should re-create a different economic circuit, in which material and immaterial production is no more financed by financial and credit market. And the simplest way is, from this point of view, to imagine a sort of community financial institution, able to generated no property money under the community supervision in a democratic way, which is irreducible and irreconcilable to the traditional financial hierarchies.

The aim of this alternative financial circuit is to provide financing for the developing of social services, production of use values (no profit organization), remunerating the social cooperation. The production of human beings in favour of human beings, outside exchange-values, can represent, now and soon, a beginning experiment of alternative way of living, without depending on the external financial constraints.

The possible framework can be the following:

Financial Institution of the “common” –> money of the common –> social services, investment on use values, monetary wages –> Antropogentic model of human production for human beings –>[Municipality/Community/Stae balance] <–> [learning and network economies (free social cooperation)] –> [Common-fare (unconditional basic income, fre access to basic sservices, housing, education, health, sociality, firmation, transport, ,...)] <–> [Remuneration of general intellect and consumption –> Financial Institution of the "common".

It is evident that this framework poses different challenges and limits.

The first limit has to do with the definition of economic boundaries. A crypto-money with the characteristics of money of the common can be introduced in an economic system as mean of remuneration of labour and investment in favour of social cooperation only if the production cycle is constraints by space boundaries. From this point of view, a local money can play this role. It is necessary to start with experiments, which deals with economic activity that cannot be globalized. Social services, like education and training, transport, health, social security, culture and leisure, real estate, agricultural and artisan activities together with some specific manufacturing production, whose filiéres are localized, could be, for example, good examples.

The second problem lies in the managing of the financial institution of the common and of the issuing of the money of the common. Many alternatives are possible. That is a political aspect, whose solution has to do with the existing degree of bottom-up democracy and decision making apparatus.

We are aware that this alternative financial production model cannot, at the moment, substitute the traditional one. It is complementary. But it is able to open free space for a non-commodified and profit oriented production. It can be a chance for a production of the common. Since the common is just among us.

Crypto-money, like any type of money, is a tool. And, like every tool, his utility depends on the way it is used and on the social context in which it is used. As Keynes wrote, money is a bridge linking the present to the future.

It is time to think a monetary tool online with the new subjectivities of today precarious living labour." (