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[liberationtech] Bitcoin and The Public Function of Money

Julian Oliver julian at
Fri Nov 2 07:20:03 PDT 2012

..on Fri, Nov 02, 2012 at 04:59:15AM +0000, dan jones wrote:
> If I may elucidate this thought by cut and pasting the words of David
> Foster-Wallace, personal liberty is...
> "The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at
> the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend
> it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind
> that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the
> great outside world of wanting and achieving…
> The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness
> and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to
> sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day."

I like the fact he refers to 'kinds' of freedom. Freedom itself has evolved a
lot over the years. 

Under Luther freedom was found only when serving God, as only then was one free
from the prison of Sin. Kant saw freedom in relation to a 'Universal Will' that
would procure civility and Social Good. The French Revolution forged the
Borgeois notion of Authority - symptomatically defining a Liberty perhaps most
adopted by the American thinkers (the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France).
Here we see the emergence of Freedom as something supposedly innate yet defined
against the State. Some would say this is a poor man's Freedom. More recently we
have the theories of the Totalitarian state (Foucault arguing against liberal
democracy, Sorel) which are deeply defining how we see Freedom in the West,
still residing in the negative space of authority. Much of the rhetoric on this
list, even the list agenda itself, echoes this model of Freedom. More so, while
we pat ourselves on the back for continued defense of this thing called Freedom,
we liberally take it away from other feeling creatures and defend an innate
'right' to do so (as though granted to us by a higher power). 

In short 'Freedom' as it is popularly considered today in the West is a complex
amalgam of Judeo-Christian, Kantian, capital-libertarian and anthropocentric

I recommend Herbert Marcuse's 'A Study on Authority' for an introduction to the
many different kinds of liberty. It's an excellent text.

Relatedly, I met a young woman in Abu Dhabi who said to me in a mall "You
Westerners look around and see all these girls in full burkas and think they are
trapped, oppressed under Islam. In fact they are only wearing full burkas here
so their school mates don't recognise them when they're out on a date."


Julian Oliver

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