I was very interested to see today that the distinctly left leaning website Open Democracy, has a piece by Peter Johnson, ‘Who needs a bank?’ with a sympathetic piece on Hayek’s idea of privatised money, and the bitcoin project. Johnson refers to a short book by the economist and political thinker F.A. Hayek, a well known proponent of free markets and classical liberalism, Denationalisation of Money. As Johnson points out, this can be downloaded as a pdf from the Institute of Economics Affairs which was founded under Hayak’s influence.
The bitcoin project is for the use of money which exists in electronic form through a peer to peer network, which generates a strictly limited amount of this currency. It aims to create a form of money which avoids the transaction costs and delays levied by banks when money is transferred, particularly across national borders. It also aims to create money that is free of the state’s tendency to allow money to decline in value through inflation, and to supervise bank accounts, again particularly with regard to cross border transactions. Listen to an interview with Gavin Andresen at Econtalk. Econtalk is hosted by the Hayek enthusiast Russ Roberts, but the series works round interviewing economists, and people with interests connected to economics broadly speaking across a wide range of positions.
We see an example of how left-wing urges to challenge to alliance between large financial interests and the stare, can overlap with free market classical liberal and libertarian urges to limit the power of the state in the economy. One of the best ways of seeing how this works is to read Michel Foucualt’s The Birth of Biopolitics which explains how ‘neoliberalism’ since the economic deregulation of what became Federal Germany after World War Two, shares impulses with Marx and with the neo-Marxist Frankfurt Schoo. Foucault thinks of both ‘neoliberalism’ and the Frankfurt School, as connected with Marx, through the thought of the liberal sociologist Max Weber.