ARTeCHO Lecture: Max Grünberg

  • The Longue Durée of Economic Media. A prehistory of Crypto 

  • Be Sociable, Share:

    < Back to events

    According to the standard narrative, decentralised cryptocurrencies emerged with Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, which manifested at the intersection of technological developments in cryptographic protocols, countercultural codes originating in the milieu of Cypherpunks and Extropians, and a financial environment at the brink of collapse. Yet, the longing for decentralising economic media reaches further into our past.

    In this session, we want to explore the long durée of crypto by grounding it in the history of money and accounting technologies. By situating both its anarchocapitalist and mutualist current in our material past, we will obtain a better understanding of where it might lead us if the hypothesis crypto advances were ever to be delivered on a technical level. In view of this, we will interrogate the functions of money and competing explanations of its origin to demonstrate how monetary order and property relations have always been intertwined with statehood. Money might have been haunted by a central authority since its very conception. By analysing seemingly banal microtechnologies such as double-entry bookkeeping as an accounting revolution - constituting today the base layer of our capitalist present - we will then unveil the disruptive potential that has always slumbered in our economic media: technological infrastructure co-writes history.

    Finally, on both sides of the political spectrum, we encounter, in the experiments with labour money by the Ricardian socialists during the early 19th century and also in the writings of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, for whom the history of money constitutes an uninterrupted story of currency debasement, concrete outlines for the denationalisation of money. But as we will see, both the egalitarian vision of labour notes and also Hayek’s competitive vision of a new monetary order that he laid out in the 1970s fundamentally differ from Satoshi’s approach in crucial aspects. And as of now, it remains to be seen which of these proposals turn out to be correct - or if either of them will be right at all.

    Tickets are available on Eventbrite (5 euro)

    Max Grünberg is a researcher in the field of Art and Economies currently associated with the Documenta Institute. Stemming from an academic background in cultural anthropology and computer science, his research is concerned with questions of algorithmic governmentality and is located at the intersection of political economy, media philosophy, and science and technology studies. At the University of Kassel he pursues a PhD that critically interrogates the coordinative potential of algorithms in realising a post-capitalist economy. Beyond his academic research, he is co-founder of the Berlin collective and theory space Diffrakt, where he curates the event series Machine Dreams.

    This lecture is part of the ARTeCHO project. A European initiative to unleash the potential of the emerging arts ecosystem, created by five European institutions: SERN – Startup Europe Regions Network; Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation/Etopia; Meet Digital Center; Baltan Laboratories; and Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). ARTeCHO is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting can be held responsible for them.

    < Back to events