First off, happy new years! I know I’m a little late, but may your 2022 be filled with more class consciousness and less nihilistic scrolling on Big Tech social media platforms.
As many of you probably already know, I host most of my writing on my website which uses WordPress, a free and open-source content management system unless I’m asked to write for a specific publication. I don’t have too many complaints with it. It gets the job done every Sunday for me without fail. Occasionally I also like to republish my writing on Medium as a way to reach new audiences. However as someone who likes to experiment with new tools and is a member of the Mirror DAO, it’s about high-time that I begin to publish things for Mirror as well.
What is interesting about Mirror is that it is explicitly a decentralized writing publication platform with integrated web3 (still back and forth on whether this is a good term to use) tools. This includes crowdfunds (raise money), auctions (sell something as an auction), NFT editions (sell NFTs related to a publication), and splits (split money raised with several others). You can check out the Mirror dev team page to get a better idea on how it works. While WordPress can integrate web3 into a website as I’ve shown with Patreon-exclusive podcasts that can also be accessed through Unlock Protocol, it requires adding plugins to the standard WordPress suite of tools.
There’s recently been a significant increase in interest in the crypto space by commentators on the left. While much of it has largely been an extension of the same tired criticisms with no realistically provided alternative, some have started making the small steps to real critical engagement. I recently really enjoyed Jason Prado’s (Head of Tech at The Drivers Coop) latest Substack piece on DAOs and his legitimate fears and cautious optimism for this technology as a cooperative practitioner concerned about getting money into workers’ pockets. Even Trash Future podcast hosts are starting to come around to it to a very limited extent. This is a step forward, but it’s important to recognize that we are still behind and the next step will be in experimenting with using the available tools, like Mirror.
At the moment I’m thinking most of my publications to be released on Mirror will focus on an audience with significant knowledge about crypto / web3 but with the hope of encouraging some crypto-curious lefties to also dig a bit deeper. It will also inherently be used, if I want to, to take advantage of the features enabled by Mirror for creating NFTs, fundraising, splits, etc. although I have no immediate plans for that. There is a dearth of understanding, but growing interest in how radical left wing ideas fit into the crypto space so I hope to fill in some of that gap explicitly. It’s imperative that the left shares their ideas, critiques, and cautious support for this emergent space to begin developing a more mature understanding of how to influence it for the better by directly engaging it and breaking through the cycle of Capitalist Realist malaise and nihilism.
I really do believe that we are in a critical moment in history where salient political ideas can influence technological development in a profound way. The 2008 financial crisis was an extremely important moment in history that forced everyone to rethink what they knew about money. On one side people began to realize money as a type of social imaginary system in which we could change it if we all realized that but at the same time it would be a difficult thing to do when the current monetary regime is still helpful in that it’s needed for basic living. Although money and transactions started to be seen as a form of communication, a bastardized form of this conclusion came in the form of the ruling for Citizens United in which campaign donations from corporations fell under free speech in the United States. The Occupy Wall Street protests, while commendable in its intentions and legacy, was wholly unequipped with the tools and understanding to change the tide.
Reactionary ideas around sound or hard money were narratives people could cling on to as an easy solution to a complex problem. Uncomfortable as it may be for some, these political ideas were successful in permeating the culture and technological developments of bitcoin (and subsequently other cryptocurrencies) leading to what Lana Schwartz has termed “digital metallism”. However what Lana rightfully notes in her work is that this line of thinking does not account the full spectrum of interest in bitcoin. “Infrastructural mutualism” prioritizes the freedom of information (as opposed to markets) to not be interfered, controlled, or surveilled. Although there are contradictions with coexisting with the first tendency, it provides a cooperative vision of money technology and society. Understanding this dualism in the bitcoin network and acknowledging that the first tendency has become dominant largely pushing the infrastructural mutualists on to different projects can help us begin to formulate ways in which we can re-galvanize this tendency and reshape it with a more clear anti and post-capitalist vision.
This is not me saying that everyone needs to go all in on crypto, but a much smaller proposal of keeping an eye out and having the curiosity to dirty your hands a bit with current existing applications in as incomplete of a state as they are today. At the moment, the crypto space and the left are like two pre-teens who can’t tell if they have crushes on each other or are archenemies, but lack the emotional maturity to get to know one another, like an episode of Hey Arnold! While there’s always the possibility that it won’t work out, you’ll always regret not trying more than messing up.
For my first piece I’m going to be publishing something to synthesize some thoughts I’ve had on DAOs and anarcho-syndicalism as I promised when first applying for a $WRITE token through the $WRITE race, so stay tuned!