Chapter 18. The taming of the bull.
The second hypothesis is the one which seems to us as the most
suitable, namely, a guarantee of a democratic use of electronic money.
In order to work it out we suggest:
First. The suppression of all anonymous currency (to be substituted
by a single system of electronic currency for all: wealthy and poor, rulers
Second. The protection of personal data (only accessible to the interested
party and to an independent Justice, when a sentence must be documented).
Third. The socialization of accounting data in order to go beyond
the centralist planning and mercantilist chaos; to balance the monetary
mass while avoiding inflation-deflation; to re-distribute surpluses in
a solidal way and to improve/outdo present fiscal systems.
As we have seen the proposal of a new monetary instrument may include the
possibility of a consistent and democratic application of monetics: electronic
system of funds transfer activated by intelligent, personalized cards,
difficult to bias.
In order to attempt to avoid the dangers of monetics, and to take advantage
of its possibilities as an instrument of social change, we must find a
framework of social, trade, economic, judicial and political rules of the
game, to ensure an appropiate use of monetics, which must be that of an
instrument to define liberties and solidarities. In this chapter we shall
present the application conditions to avoid dangers, and in the following
some of the possibilities of social change which may take place.
To choose to establish a system of guarantees for the democratic and
consistent use of electronic currency is certainly risky, because, side
by side with great possibilities, it seems that the first option could
be legitimated (monetics as a control of the people while people cannot
control those who control it). In order to avoid this danger the conditions
of application of monetics must be very clear.
First. The substitution of all sorts of anonymous currency through
a system of personalized current accounts, activated by intelligent cards
which support the 'cheque-invoice' of every 'monetary' act, in such a way
that corrupting and unsolidary black money cannot circulate without leaving
Electronic currency should be the only one to be declared legal tender.
All previous forms of anonymous currency (notes, cheques, coins, quasi-currency...
would loose their value after this being noted in each person's (individual
or collective) current account.
The suppression of the parallel circulation of the two sorts of currency
-the present anonymous currency and the electronic personalized currency)
is essential to avoid as much as possible foul play. If, as it is being
done, bank-notes are not invalidated, most people will use electronic money
-which leaves trail- for lawful operations, and the few who have control
of anonymous currency will use it (without leaving any trail) for the same
unlawful operations as always -blackmail, robbery, arms and drugs traffic,
The electronic currency information should be handled in a different
way according to the following considerations:
- Personal data (name and current account number) would be protected under
professional secrecy by the bank, which would only need them shortly to
record the credit or debit into the account. Later they would be filed,
under professional secrecy, by Justice which, besides protecting them against
any interference, might need them for documenting its sentences. The indiscretion
of bank and justice professionals not only would be legally punished but
it would also be difficult to carry out without leaving trail (this is
explained later on).
- Book-keeping data (goods, price, place...) would be socialized, that is
put at the understandable disposal of the whole population, to avoid informative
monopolies, to generate a free trade operation, and to rationalize the
invention of money.
The present application of electronic currency does not consider these
differences or guarantees. The results are known: anybody, with influence
or money, may use the personalized information of anybody else to damage
him; Justice still does not have available the exhaustive information needed
to work properly. The results against the informative monopoly and trade
corruption are almost nil.
In short, the fundamental principle of a democratic and consistent application
of telematic currency is that in the market there cannot be a currency
movement without a corresponding movement of 'merchandise' (goods or
Justice will be able to find out if there has been a currency movement
without it being related to the sale or purchase of 'merchandise', a phenomenon
which clearly shows that an unlawful operation has taken place. In the
case of donations of money or presents of goods of some importance, it
will be necessary to document them properly to ensure the legal change
of property and to avoid them to become a cover for corruption.
Second. The protection of personal data, at present not granted
by any of today's democratic, fiscal or monetic systems, is fundamental.
This protection must be ensured as much as possible with a number of consistent
political, fiscal, judicial, social and technical steps.
If basic rules of the game must be found to allow a use of monetics
with guarantees it is not sufficient to suppress anonymous currency if
we do not define the body of institutions which are strategic to suitably
handle the information derived from the generalization of electronic currency,
institutions which not always carry out the 'formal' function with which
they have been entrusted.
The problems stated in chapter 9 on how to
obtain as far as possible independent cultural, political and judicial
institutions, so that they may be free from the servitude of 'who pays
gives the orders', assume here their capital importance. In the next
chapter we shall explain in more detail the objectives and the working
of what we might call 'communal statute'. At present we shall only
submit the essential traits to locate the bodies necessary for a good management
of monetary information.
In most present societies we may separate the trade area (made by those
who produce goods and services in the market, addressed to the obtention
of profits) and the communal area (made by those who offer society services
which are not subject to the market laws, many of them included today in
the public sector or in non-profit institutions).
It appears that the separation between communal statute (services
and professions offered freely and which would be financed by the community)
and trade statute (workers, investors, operators and inventors paid
by the market) would avoid the market money ('power of wealth') to take
in its service free professionals and communal services ('power of knowledge').
The incompatibility lists, always casuistic and easily broken, are unable
to avoid the monopolizing of public influence in the hands of some well-situated
few in the market and in public life. This factual power must be reduced
as much as possible, as it also attempts on the lawful State. The main
goal of this separation is to avoid trade money to become 'political' power
and the communal-liberal service to become business.
This separation would imply:
- the existence of an absolute incompatibility between the practice of a
communal activity and the practice of a trade activity; and also the incompatibility
of most communal activities among them.
- the real inability -through a suitable ruling of the monetary circuits
and of the sort of current accounts- to channel money privately obtained
in the market towards communal activities and viceversa (excluding consumption,
By means of these two mechanisms it would be easier to avoid the illegitimate
intrusion of factual power (which is created in the shade of anonymous
trade money) in general communal activities and, more specifically, in
institutions of political, social and judicial rule, which are of a clearly
non-mercantile vocation and tenure.
In the context of the communal statute we must create or find a body
to look after the protection of personal data, and to watch/compare the
reliability of the economic information supplied by the Government. Occasionally
we have mentioned in this work the need to improve the documentation systems
of the administration of justice, and also to increase its independence.
If we do not want to create new institutions, it appears to us that the
judicial body is the most suitable to take up the protection of the personalized
data -as it has no power to impose a dictatorship- and, at the same time,
these data are very valuable to carry out its function of investigating
crimes and documenting sentences.
The same data processing system would only allow the access -also personalized-
to the data bases of those members of the court in charge of a case requesting
it. Any unjustified query, besides being technically difficult, would be
It is clear that the most delicate point in our proposal of a general
introduction of monetics is that of the independence of Justice, an institution
which becomes the protector of the privacy and guarantee of the lawful
State. In the following chapter we shall submit
a framework to ensure its utmost independence and renovation. Here we shall
only add a note on the self-control systems of the telematic networks,
which make them virtually inviolable.
In order to avoid mishandling the information it would be necessary
to establish self-control systems to ensure the utmost inviolability. There
are several ways to do so. One of the most usual and reliable works with
three parallel computer networks which process the same data. A very high
degree of security is achieved, mainly if the hardware, the software and
the human teams are different and independent.
These three networks would also control that the three networks (also
highly inviolable) would not mishandle the processing of accounting data
without personal references, which the centre for the socialization of
information would need for economic functions.
Alltogether, it may appear very expensive and very complicated, these
systems are already in use when strategic information and controls are
In «El Pais» of 12th March 1986, the data-processing coordinator
of the provisional counting of votes for the referendum on the NATO explained
how this process was carried out: «With respect to the data-processing
mechanism which will allow to know at about 10 p.m. the provisional results,
he does not disguise his satisfaction because he considers it infallibly
reliable [...]. The data are introduced every 15 minutes into the central
computer -as a matter of fact there are three computers which work in
parallel in case any failure in the system takes place» (Antonio
For a simple recount of votes three computers are installed to avoid
the failure -error, mishandling- of the system. Couldn't the same be done
to ensure the reliability of the macroeconomic and judicial data?
The installation of three or five networks for the parallel processing
of data -to ensure that the same results are obtained- is usual in many
expensive and sophisticated «systems» (for example in space-ships
and in atomic submarines). Why should it be considered expensive to install
them in such strategic matters as the economic or the judicial system?
Third. The socialization of accounting data -not personal data-,that
is the data concerning the type of merchandise, prices, places, ecologic
qualities... must be available to all in an intelligible way at every level
Monopoly of information is power. Socialization of an exact and thorough
market information -without personal references- might bring about a very
effective free action in every area, if it were understandable and within
everybody's reach. The control of mass media by private concerns -as a
form of business- or by the State as an opinion control- is one of the
most subtle and effective weapons in the hands of factual powers, for the
purpose of perpetuating themselves.
A communal statute would permit the removal from the trading system
of all the mass media and data bases, and also to de-nationalize and decentralize
The accounting monetary information -without personal references-should
be verified with the data of the data processing network of Justice, to
avoid errors or meddling.
Socialization of economic information would allow a range of possibilities
which are now ruled out by the irrationality of the monetary system. Among
these possibilities (which we shall study in the following
chapter) we can mention:
- a protection against data hampering by all the powers;
- the people's awareness of the consequences of the actions of the several
- overcoming irresponsible control of economy by the large concerns or by
the State, with the subsequent wasting of resources;
- automatic balance between activated monetary mass and the value of sold
merchandise, and, therefore, control of monetary inflation-deflation;
- the takeover of actual, equilibrating and potential surpluses, as a step
towards their solidary distribution, by means of communal salaries, among
the population and as a system to take the 'communal' activities and functions
off the trading system and the State control;
- the improvement of the present bureaucratic and non-functional fiscal systems,
by equity and simplification.
The foreseeable conditions of application would be: the total documentation,
pointing out of liabilities and elucidation of all trade and social acts,
through their monetary component -always under an independent Justice.
Society could make use of these techniques to fight against the constitution
of illegitimate powers without, however, limiting the legitimate freedom
of every person within the smallest, established rules.
We would be naïve if we thought that this would be the final step
to attain the disappearance of factual powers, of foul play and of monetary
corruption, as the inexhaustible, human capacity and resourcefulness could
always think up new and more subtle ways of domination. This, however,
must not be an obstacle to consider that the introduction of these steps
could not be a very important progress to instrumentally hinder most of
the foul play carried out for the last 4500 years.
After these steps had been taken, most of them instrumental, we could
set the bases to build rules of social game, with the well-founded hope
that they would not be reduced, once again, to nothing; we might start
to set the bases for a more genuine lawful State.
The application of these three steps should be made very
carefully, both in the social and in the technical features. It would be
necessary to carefully consider the feasibility and the special difficulties
to apply the conditions of a democratic and consistent use of electronic
money. As an example, the following should be considered:
how, and in which delay are the present payment systems changed
to the new ones? What happens with foreign currencies, how are they converted
and who holds them?
how are sufficient software, hardware and human resources to be prepared
and who should have them available?
how should the creation of duties for lawful goods take place, and how
the lawfulness or unlawfulness of some products (arms, drugs, industrial
poisons) or services (should they become free services?) could be submitted
to a political decision?
how should companies or persons be introduced into the market or into
communal services, when they live thanks to present lawbreaking (prostitution,
how should the centres for socialization of general accounting be created
(by productive sectors, by territories, general...)?
how should the networks and the programmes for the diffusion and perusal
of accounting data be designed (private and communal televisions and computers)?
how should all the data concerning the public management be published
in a personalized way (the only exception) in the network for the socialization
how should the dynamically equipped centre of economy be organized:
finding out surpluses, collection of one single tax, invention-exvention
of money, automatic distribution according to statutes...?
how should the Ministry of Justice be suppressed and Justice be organized
in an independent and specialized way, with its own judicial police?
how should the systems for the protection of personalized data be designed
and created (three networks, independent in Justice) with respect to the
Many of these questions demand a deeper study of their actual difficulties
and of their possible solutions.
Depending on how the reading is done, these questions become serious
dangers or vast possibilities. But what we are going through, and what
future trends appear to be, strengthens many of the dangers and almost
none of the possibilities.
Really there are two options at stake: the one is risky but with some
grounds; the other is a non-option: the imposition of facts, of the determinisms
of technology and 'security', which at present are shown to us as accomplished
facts without asking for our consent, of offering alternatives to the model
which is forced on us.
put an end to this polemic subject, some striking words by Isaac Asimov:
«Reducing injustice, after all, benefits everybody. Computers
may supply the necessary techniques to control, more effectively than ever
in history, injustice even from computers themselves».
«But if computers watch computers, who watches the watchmen? the
question is not new and it has a solution. Every guardian does not lose
sight (electronic sight, of course) of the others. In a system of democratic
government, this is called 'separation of powers'».
«Which further blessings will come from automation? One of the
dreams is a world without money».
«The automatic electronic calculation of personal assets updated
after every operation?».
«Let us imagine that everybody had a device tuned to his fingerprints...
Through a pre-established operation, the device would indicate the exact
condition of our current account, the amount available for our operations».
«Any imaginable operation -deposits for wages, investments, expenses,
from the purchase of a newspaper to the benefits from shares- would only
be legalized when the devices of all the parties participating in the operation
were introduced in a computer terminal which would transfer the amounts
(the electronic impulses) from one card to the other. We would obtain an
endless procession of cheques instantly signed, for any value below the
«The Administration could automatically discount the taxes on
any operation, proportionally to its amount and to the income level of
the individual receiving the money».
«The idea of wealth would loose its importance in such a society,
where there would be no cash flowing, because money would be less visible.
And this would be more certain if the society of the 21st century found
a logic way to reduce, at least partially, inequalities in the distribution
of wealth; in a society without money it would be less painful to pay taxes,
because operations would never be visible».
«Injustice? it would be reduced, because fiscal fraud and swindle
would be more difficult. The inhumanity of computers is mainly that, when
they are programmed and work correctly, they do not admit intrusions in
Asimov, «Qui necessita diner?» Muy Interesante, 1984, No. 41.