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Our visual universe, in any of the facts which, in our society, take place by means of currency, is very limited, and is quite below what at present would be allowed by the technologies grouped under the joint name of telematics.
With respect to any monetary phenomenon, nobody —neither politicians, nor judges... nor businessmen, nor the persons in charge of a liberal institution... nor economists, nor sociologists... nor any modest citizen— can at present know anything exact or definite concerning the classical questions: who? when? how? why?
As far as the judge's action is concerned, it is clear that, as long as these questions cannot be answered —mainly the «who» question—, our civilization will be no more than a culture medium for irresponsible people.
As fas the daily running of the market and of the whole society is concerned, generally speaking they will not be in a position to know a real and full development until they have an effective medium to overcome the situation of complete lack of information we are immersed in.
Likewise, as far as the theoretical and practical knowledge of the market and of society is concerned, we can say that it will make no progress, nor will it be able to become experimental, as long as we lack a rational system of measurement and documentation of every elemental phenomenon.
At present, information is one of the basic elements in any human pursuit, perhaps even the most basic: starting with the layouts of some present-day biologists, who state «life is information» (the information contained in the genes), and ending with the modern data-processing technologies, for the artificial handling of rigourously codified information, without a suitable information no activity can be developed with a minimum effectiveness.
The idea of currency as circulating information, and of the monetary system as an information system is not new, but we can affirm that little attention has been given to it, and that the consequences of this layout have not been driven to the end. Keeping in mind the great importance of information in our present time, we think that this omission is very serious: we need then check this matter in-depth. This will be the aim of this essay.
In our days, monetary circulation takes on two main forms: the bank notes, bearer bonds which flow without leaving any trace, and that for this reason we may call anonymous-impersonal circulation; and scriptural money, or bank money, that is the bank current accounts and other similar forms, which are personalized, and for this reason we shall call them personal-documented circulation.
Because of the system itself, the anonymous-impersonal circulation is the cause of the present lack of information about the monetary phenomena; as far as the personal-documented circulation is concerned, even if it offers a greatest assurance of information, this assurance vanishes when this sort of circulation may become, if it so suits the interested party, a circulation of the first description —since, in fact, it is simply an auxiliary and secondary circulation derived from the first one—.
We therefore find that the present monetary system is not an information system, but on the contrary a disinformative system.
In order to overcome this situation we suggest the substitution of these two present circulations, by the circulation of a single monetary instrument, which we shall call cheque-invoice. The cheque-invoice will be fully personalized, and will be used for one single elementary monetary act; besides, it will lean on the modern telematic technology (or distance data-processing), so that it will become a very flexible and easy instrument. With these main features, the monetary system may become an information system, (through the automatic and continuous grasping of monetary magnitudes) of the actual underlying phenomena.
A geopolitical community which put into practice a monetary system as the one we suggest, would have the following threefold possibilities: On a justicial level, to have available exact antejusticial documentation, which would allow to judge quickly, effectively and objectively personal responsibilities in any crime or offence committed for money.
On a market and total society level, to reach a harmonious and full development, thanks to the interpretation and information contributed by dynamic and continous statistics and analytics of all the monetary activity —however, without letting know strictly personal information to anybody outside Justice, and keeping in mind that this would only be able to use it with justification.
On a mercologics level, to finally have available a metric-accounting system for the objective measurement of all the elemental market phenomena, which implies being able to transform the market study in a truly experimental-quantitative discipline.
Even if we shall start with the study and analysis of the monetary systems, in order to submit an important reform, finally the most interesting to us are the social realities which may accrue from this reform. Our interest then is not so much based on mercologics as on sociology, and, still more, on political art.
The monetary reform we submit is, in itself and by itself, ethically neutral, meaning that it is neither good nor bad, but, as any other technology —we should not forget that the monetary system is a technical-auxiliary instrument invented by man— its possible good or evil depends exclusively from the use to which it will be put.
Man constructs many instruments, completely inert things which help him in his tasks. But then they can be used in multiple ways, depending on very dissimilar social interests and goals; only these social uses can be defined good or evil, but not the instruments themselves.
Beyond this fundamental verification, we can make a clarifying distinction between selfpolitics and antipolitics.
Self- (auto- in Greek) means «on itself..., spontaneously and expansively»; Anti- (a Greek prefix) means «against», but here we shall give it the specific meaning of «the opposite, deliberately carried out (of the term it qualifies)». In face of the same linguistic element, as in the case of «politics», «self» and «anti» will express the two social sides of the concept expressed by such an element.
The monetary system we suggest will be a very potent information instrument. And we all know that, who has the information, the knowledge, the wisdom, has also the power, the ability to act, to direct, to prepare strategies (trade, social, political... strategies).
It is necessary to foresee very well, then, how this instrument will be used. Will it be used antipolitically by a few, in their own interest and against the interest of the majority, transforming the power over things into an illegitimate power on people? Or will it be used selfpolitically , to the advantage of all the members of the geopolitical community, with an effective power on things, dedicated exclusively to the people's service?
Will the information be reserved to a minority, or will it be open to the whole geopolitical community?
As far as we are concerned, we openly declare ourselves supporters of a self-political use of the monetary reform, which comprises the following social goals:
- to give free access to all members of the geopolitical community to all the monetary information of the analytic-statistic sort, and to entrust Justice with the protection of all the monetary information of a personal-private sort.
- to give all the members of the geopolitical community all the actual phenomenal liberties they have not yet attained, but which are possible under the present technical level.
- to give all the legal rights and, to start with, to give them full legal equality without any exception either of persons or things.
- to give a growing welfare to as many people as possible, in terms of the extent of the effectiveness of knowledge of material production and of knowledge of liberal service.
- to give effective inner peace and outer protection to all the peoples included in the geopolitical community.
- and, within the limits of the outer political action, to search without truce nor rest the slow self-pacification among all the geopolitical communities, among all the cultures and among all the civilizations.
All the aims we have just mentioned may be resumed and condensed in two, on which most of this essay will be centred.
The first one is the pacific disappearance of all sort of power on people, and its substitution through: a) legitimate, effective power on things, and b) social rule of persons, all of them born free.
To put this into practice implies an in-depth reform of the state, justicial, and ethnic-autonomic apparatus. In the first place, the respective members of these apparatus must be fully responsible of their actions and, therefore, must go through Justice at the end of their terms of office; in the second place, each body's attributions must be very well defined, and limited to the minimum, always according to the principle of subsidiarity; and, third, Justice must be fully independent with respect to the State.
The second goal is the peaceful disappearance of all sorts of material misery or social rejection for reasons of money. This implies the working out of an incomes policy suited to the possibilities offered by the present level of technologic-productive development. Nobody can any longer deny that, nowadays, it is possible to give money to everybody. Wassily Leontief says: «The history of technological progress during the last 200 years is, in essence, the history of humankind making slowly and constantly its way back to Paradise. But, what would happen if all of a sudden we were there? If all the goods and services were offered to us without toil, nobody would be busy. Without work, there is no salary. Therefore, until new income policies were worked out, suitable to be fitted to the new technological conditions, in Paradise we would die of starvation».
In fact, the processes of material production do more and more without a factor which was previously fundamental: human work. This is a fact which becomes clearly evident, and in face of which we cannot turn our eyes; but we must realize that it is not a negative fact, but a highly positive fact: what more for man to become finally free of toil, of the routine task without any inducement? One need not be very clever to understand that, if machines produce, if there is production, there must also be the necessary money to absorb it; and if the market does not bring about this money spontaneously —just because there is no work— then it is the politician's job to invent it and to distribute it equally, according to the most evident needs, both of the market and of society. And this politician's task is not difficult to organize when there is available a fully informative monetary system.
But all this must be done respecting always as much as possible, even fostering, private initiative and private property of the production means: because history teaches us that it is these bodies which are responsible for the productivity, dynamics and constant technical progress of the production market.
We would ask the reader to allow us some thoughts on the reform of the monetary system which we are about to submit: the substitution of the present bank notes and other auxiliary documents through the pro-telematic, bipersonal cheque-invoice.
This substitution can be very easily made, both from the technical point of view and from the social one.
Technically, telematics is already in a position to allow, in a not too long term, the introduction of the cheque-invoice as the only monetary instrument.
Socially, we can observe that the monetary system is an abstract and conventional structure, foreign to man, of an instrumental-auxiliary nature, which makes us understand that its reform should not cause psychologic oppositions nor social inconveniences of any kind. Proof of it is the fact that in some countries is already being introduced the electronic money —let alone the quick and general extension of current accounts—.
Therefore, the suggested reform is in the first place a matter of political decision.
The telematic revolution is, to-day, an unstoppable fact which will attain more and more all the fields of human activity —always, however, in an auxiliary dimension, this must not be forgotten—. As always with technology, telematics is, in itself, neutral, liable to be used in many ethically different ways. «While we wait for a structured ruling to be actually created, the new technology will remain synonymous with centralization, repression, intrusion, domination. Pity! Technology is just an instrument for a greatest effectiveness. Certainly, the "bad guys" may oppress, torture, spy and exploit more and better than ever before. But at the same time, technology allows man to listen, to inform, to help and to protect his neighbour more than he ever dared to think. It makes the blind see, the deaf hear, it measures with exactitude, it shares with fairness, it succeeds in incredibly delicate quirurgical operations. It gives the handicapped and old people the means to express themselves, to move, to communicate and to talk with others».
Telematics implies then, either a great hope for all the peoples on earth, on condition that it be understood as a freely accessible instrument, at the service of the freedom and of the information of everybody; or a great threat of more power on people from the same old powerful: factual powers, statisms, police systems, militarisms...
Specifically, electronic money, if we are not careful, can take us rather to the absolute despotism forewarned by Orwell and Huxley, than to the world of actual freedom which we suggest. The way it is developing now, electronic money makes up very partial and closed information systems, limited to very reduced private groups.
For this reason, it is necessary for a self-political will and decision to be set up quickly. From this platform we appeal to the intelligent and active non-violent revolution of all the peoples on earth: because that which is technically possible will become an actual reality as soon as a people be intimately convinced of it. And the sooner the better.
The crisis of present civilization, and the liberating possibilities of a new technology, make up the challenge which the citizens of this ending twentieth century must face.
1. Nowadays, the terms State or Nation are commonly used to indicate politically organized communities. We consider these names not very clear; even worse, totally unsuitable: a State is only a small part of the total community, that where the political control has been delegated; Nation means simply «birth group, a group where beings are born»; it is then a natural fact, common to men and animals, which has nothing to do with the political organization, specifically human.
We suggest to use, in alternative, the more exact expression of geopolitical community, that is «a community set in a given territory, and provided with given organs of political control».
2. Wassily Leontief «Distribución de trabajo y renta», in Investigación y Ciencia, issue No. 74, November 1982.
3. J. Morgan «Des machines et des hommes: dictature ou prolétariat» Sciences et Avenir, Nº spécial hors série No. 45 (translated and adapted by Hervé le Tellier, © Sunday Times Magazine. 23rd October 1983).