Financial commerce, the exchange of money and currency, is indistinguishable from speech. Therefore, it deserves the exact same respect and “freedom of speech” protections afforded to the utterances of the street-corner preacher, the independent journalist, the newspaper publisher, the internet blogger and so on. Financial commerce is speech, and should be free.
Despite all of the “freedom of speech” and “free speech” talk we hear, speech today is anything but free. This ranges from what you can and can’t say in public or in print or on television, to “free speech protest zones”, to speech codes on university campuses and all the way up to the towering insanity of “illegal numbers“.
Today I see the tyrant’s sword unsheathed and poised at the throats of everyone, everywhere who dares to do anything contrary to the increasingly oppressive financial status quo. Bitcoin exchanges are being forced out of business, and criminal charges are likely coming. The United States’ FinCEN is writing law — administratively! — restricting innovative, resilient, peer-to-peer virtual currencies — globally! Somebody telephoned someone at MasterCard, and the next day WikiLeaks could no longer take credit card donations. e-gold was crushed out of existence, along with the Liberty Dollar. The SWIFT payments network was strong-armed into a financial blockade of Iran. And, quite recently, the Liberty Reserve payments system was put out of business and the founders arrested on the criminal charge of money laundering, a “financial thoughtcrime” if there ever was one.
Almost everywhere, the laws and regulations governing financial businesses are so voluminous and so burdensome that only the already super-rich can hope to compete legally in the so-called “free market”. Americans with less than a million dollars’ net worth (not including primary residence) are effectively banned from investing in anything other than “safe” US dollar-denominated securities. Financial privacy has almost completely disappeared, except for the very wealthiest. Cash transactions larger than $10,000, €5,000, €2,500, €1,500, €1,000 and now even €500 are being or have been outlawed in some places. And on and on.
The suppression of financial speech is being used as a weapon of war against the people of this planet just as surely as drone strikes, pervasive surveillance and land mines are and have been.
The time has come to begin separating money and currency from state, irrevocably and irretrievably. Free people and a free world deserve currencies that they control directly.
It seems we are far from perfecting and embodying the free speech ideal. Are we going to continue working to improve ourselves and our societies toward that ideal, or shall we just abandon it altogether to avoid complete hypocrisy?
What do you think? Is financial commerce speech? If so, how? If not, why not?
[This day, 30 May 2013, in Bratislava, Slovakia, I, Michael Jude Gogulski, do hereby dedicate this text to the public domain, to the explicit and unlimited detriment of all legal rights (authorial, moral, economic and otherwise) arising or adhering to myself, my successors and my heirs, globally and without limitation, in perpetuity. I pledge that I shall never pursue violence, legal or otherwise, against anyone using this text or any part of it in any way they see fit. I encourage and welcome redistribution of this text in any form or fashion and at any time.]
Mike Gogulski is a stateless ex-American, resident in Bratislava, Slovakia. Besides his involvement with Bitcoin, he is or has been a psychonaut, a hacker, a drug legalization advocate, a Diablo 2 bot author, a corporate IT networking dude, IT coordinator for the Center for a Stateless Society, a co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network and a Dot-Communist. Mike blogs at nostate.com.