In this issue:
- The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock
- My Upcoming Presentation: Private and complementary currency systems
- My Latest Article
- There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit
- Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell?
- Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare
The Legacy and Vision of Dee Hock (b. March 21, 1929 – d. July 16, 2022)
I had occasion to meet Dee Hock in September of 1995 when we were both invited to participate in the first of a series of symposia titled Peace Building for the 21st Century, a semi-annual gathering that was jointly organized by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the World Business Academy, and Pathways to Peace and convened at the Fetzer Institute in Michigan. When prior to the meeting I read that Hock was CEO of VISA International, a rather lofty position in the world of conventional banking, I wondered how his beliefs and objectives about money and exchange could possibly find any agreement with my own. I soon discovered that my pre-judgments about him could not have been more wrong. During the symposium he impressed me as being a man of integrity and vision, and more a “monkish” philosopher than a banker.
That impression was strongly reinforced when in 1999 I read Hock’s newly published book, Birth of the Chaordic Age (later republished as One From Many), which told his personal story along with the story of how the VISA organization came into being and became “the largest commercial enterprise on earth.” To give you a sense of what captivated me I will share just a few quotes from the book. In the prolog, Hock said, “We are experiencing and epidemic of institutional failure that knows no bounds,” and, “The organization of the future will be the embodiment of community based on shared purpose calling to the higher aspirations of the people.” Such an observation and expectation were quite remarkable and unexpected but consistent with my own observations and aspirations. Then, on the back of the dust cover I read, “We are at that very point in time when a 400-year- old age is dying and another is struggling to be born–a shifting of culture, science, society and institutions enormously greater than the world has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of regeneration of individuality, liberty, community, and ethics such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another, and with the divine intelligence, such as the world has always dreamed.”
Such ideas could not have resonated more closely with my own, and as I delved further into the book I was delighted to find a great deal more of that sort of visionary, humane, and wise thinking and expression. I took some time to ponder all of that as I went about my own work trying to move forward toward the development and implementation of innovative systems of exchange and finance that would embody the values and aspirations that Hock and I seemed to share. Then, in January of 2001, I wrote to Hock and was pleased when he responded a couple weeks later. Rather than try to excerpt the essence of each letter, I think it appropriate to present each in its entirety (I don’t think Dee would mind).
I’ve been meaning to write you ever since I finished reading your book almost a year ago. I guess my procrastination is due to the fact that I was not, until now, clear about what I wanted to say to you, or how to say it so you would take it seriously.
Certainly, praise is due. The Birth of the Chaordic Age is a masterful story, but, of course, it is more than a story, it is a philosophical treatise – and a work of art, studded with gems of wisdom. (In that, your monkish, contemplative bent is evident). I’m most grateful to you for seeking out these gems and fetching them back for us to admire and use. I especially like your four ways of looking at things – how they were, how they are, how they might become, and how they ought to be. It serves me well in the research I’ve been doing, and serves to remind me of why I’m doing it.
I am in full agreement with the testimony of your vision which appears on the back of the dust cover. I believe that, in the present era, the thing that is “trying to happen” (as Willis used to put it) is a fundamental shift from elite rule (command and control) to a more participatory, democratic, inclusive, just, equitable, and sustainable order. This means that, in addition to our own spiritual and interpersonal work, there is a need for thoroughgoing restructuring of our institutions and the emergence of networks and communities which will supplant limited liability corporations and much of the government bureaucracy.
As I approach my 65th birthday, I have a sense that my most important work is yet to be done. Despite your great accomplishments, I have a sense that that may be the case for you as well. Of particular relevance for me is the area of money, banking, and finance. This is where I think I can make a major contribution, and this is what I want you to know.
You have the distinction of having been the leader who guided the development of the world’s first global payment system. Yet, you express dissatisfaction with the outcome. It doesn’t satisfy me either. You say (on page 193),
“I could think of no way to fully realize the concept by including merchants and cardholders as owner-members. The slightest hint in that direction raised a storm of opposition. We should have included them. Perhaps, with more time, tenacity, and ingenuity we could have.”
Well, storms of opposition should be expected when those in control are asked to share power. The bankers have been a privileged class for a long time. Why should they give up such a powerful and lucrative position? There is only ever one compelling reason – because they can see that it is in their best interests to do so, and they have the courage to let go. Are you ready to show them the economic “magna carta?”
For the good of the people and the planet, the monetary system must be changed and economic power must be more widely dispersed. The key lies in the payment system. There is plenty of ingenuity being applied to the “money problem” within the current grassroots transformational movement, within the commercial “barter” business, and within the realm of emerging internet commerce. Proper leadership can draw out sufficient tenacity. And, time? Well, “carpe diem.” “The future is not about logic or reason. It’s about imagination, hope, and belief.” (p. 152).
Can you envision a federation of credit-clearing circles which include everyone who wants to be a member? Which is democratically organized and operated? Which allows each person the power to monetize some of their own resources and productive potential without having to pay interest to anyone?
It is my hope to assist in launching such a system. I believe that it is possible to assemble, right now, sufficient talent, resources, and commitment to get the job done. This could be your prototype socio-economic chaord which would demonstrate to everyone the kind of model needed for 21st century organizing.
I have no illusions about the willingness of bankers’ to accept such systems right now, but I must do what I can to harmonize how things might become, with how they ought to be. If we can create the seed crystal, the rest will take care of itself.
What do you say?
About two weeks later I received this reply:
Thank you for your most kind, thoughtful letter. Indeed, people in position of privilege and power cannot be expected to surrender it to others, especially when no better alternative has emerged which the public trusts and demands, which captures the imagination of the powerful and privileged, ameliorates their fears, and which is allows them to make an orderly, safe transition. Power is never given, it is always taken. How to take it without destructive confrontation and brute force is the perpetual problem. In my view, that can only be done by creating new concepts which do not attack and destroy the old, but transcend and enfold them.
There is no doubt in my mind that more than enough intelligence, communication capacity and experimentation has already emerged to allow such new concepts to be devised and implemented. However, to transcend and enfold a system that is already global, ubiquitous, deeply entrenched in all societies and organizations and embedded in the consciousness of the whole world is not something that can be done by any one person, or even a narrow segment of them. Nor do I have any illusions about the desperate need for better means of exchanging value among all people. We have had much contact over the years with many people in emerging systems of barter, local currency, internet commerce and alternate currencies – Bernard Lietaer, Hazel Henderson, James Fierro and a host of others.
One of the concepts we think will take shape within the Terra Civitas movement is something we call, for want of a better term, the “resource commons,” a coming together of people with financial expertise of all kinds, new and old, to reconceive and bring into being new concepts of organizations and instruments that “result in more equitable distribution of power and wealth, improved health and greater compatibility with the human spirit and biosphere.” That is, I think, precisely what you refer to, albeit in other terms.
We are simply overwhelmed with response to chaordic concepts. Opportunities to create such organizations in various fields already exceeds our present resources and capacity. This is not something we can, at the moment, call into being. The initial interest and impetus would have to emerge elsewhere. We might act as a catalyst, a “strange attractor,” to put in terms of complexity theory and would gladly lend what legitimacy and expertise we could.
I have no doubt that with sufficient commitment from a design team of the right thirty or forty people and a hundred or two others to critique the work and reasonable resources, a “chaordic, fractaled organization” for the purposes you envision could be conceived, perhaps even implemented, before the end of 2002.
Again, many thanks for your thoughtful letter and kind comments about the book. With all best wishes,
Of course, 2002 came and went and twenty years later we are still seeking allies, supporters and resources, and wondering what else it will take to make this grand vision a reality, but surely its time will eventually come. That is not to say that progress has not been made. Promising innovations and improvements in exchange processes and moneyless payments have been made in both the grassroots and commercial “barter” realms, and I continue to work with several of those groups and individuals.
Numerous Dee Hock obituaries have been published online including the VISA website and Market Watch, and you can glean much more of his wisdom from Dee Hock’s webpage which is still accessible.
My upcoming presentation
I’ve been invited to be a keynote speaker at the 6th Biennial RAMICS International Congress in Bulgaria, October 27 to 29. RAMICS is the Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Community and Complementary Currency Systems which includes both academics and practitioners.
My illustrated presentation titled, Private and complementary currency systems: purposes, principles, practices, and performance, is slated for Thursday, October 27. It will summarize what I have learned over more than forty years of research and experimentation in this field, and describe what must be done to realize the full potential of decentralized private and community exchange mechanisms. You can see the full abstract here. For various reasons, I am planning to deliver my presentation remotely from Arizona. This congress promises to be exciting and productive, and if you wish to participate you can find program details here and register at https://ramics2022sofia.sciencesconf.org/registration.
My Latest Article
My latest article, The Money Economy Is Not the Real Economy: “The Global Banking and Financial System is Fatally Flawed,” was published last week by Global Research, and recently republished on Medium.
There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit
One of my most popular posts has been, There once was a river …an allegorical tale of money and credit. If you missed it when I first published it, you may want to check it out. I’ve used metaphor to try to show how we have all become slaves to money and those who control money. Using water to represent money, I’ve also tried to show that we the people can free ourselves and take back control by thinking outside the box to end our fixation on political fiat money, and deploy better ways of enabling the exchange of real value that our own labor and creativity produce.
Every metaphor, of course, is limited but I am hoping that readers/listeners will come to understand that there are alternatives to conventional money that we can use to reduce, and eventually eliminate our dependence upon conventional political fiat money. Credit is the foundation of an honest system of exchange and we have the power to give credit to each other in accordance with our own values and objectives, outside of conventional banks and without charging interest. You can access the story on my website (audio with transcript) or on YouTube (audio only).
Will 2023 Be the Year from Hell?
Noted economic forecaster, Martin Armstrong, says it will and makes a very convincing case in this interview on Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog podcast; and it is very instructive to see the remarkable story of Armstrong and his work in the documentary movie, “The Forecaster,” if you can get hold of it. Amazon.com says “This video is currently unavailable to watch in your location,” but you can watch the trailer on IMDb and buy the DVD here. The movie includes the story about the persecution he suffered at the hands of the US government, being imprisoned for 7 years without a trial, and eventually forced to plead guilty to regain his freedom.
Central Bank Digital Currency, a the Totalitarian Nightmare
If that isn’t enough to get your attention and stir you to action, this article, Just Say No to CBDCs, by N.S. Lyons clearly describes the nightmare world the technocratic oligarchy has prepared for us and will very shortly pressure us to accept. Some difficult choices are in prospect.
Despite the gloom and doom that these present circumstances portend, I believe humanity has never been in a better position to create a world of peace, freedom, and conviviality. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
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