Issue #027 Published: 07-11-2019 // Written by: Moneylab

MoneyLab #7: Outside of Finance On feminist economics, social payments, corporate crime and the “blokechain”

14 + 15 November - Tolhuistuin

It’s August 2019. After years of inflation, high unemployment rates, and sharply falling living standards, Argentina’s national currency, the Peso, took a nosedive that further deepened its financial despair. Today, Argentina is one of many countries on the brink of yet another recession. Is this Groundhog Day? History repeating itself? Financial asset markets are declining the world over, the US and China are engaged in a trade war and central banks have fueled record levels of corporate and government borrowing over the past ten years. The ‘solutions’ applied to the last debt crisis seem to push the global economy toward the next collapse. Are you ready to descend into yet another economic depression?

Since 2013, MoneyLab has been the stage for critical reflection on pressing financial issues. In the upcoming 7th edition, artists, researchers, activists and geeks will gather again to show what role art, activism, feminism, journalism and design are playing in re-thinking money, the critique of finance-tech and the democratization of finance. With a debt crisis looming, many feel the urgency to move away from the legacy powers and monetary institutions of the previous centuries. But what are the alternatives on offer? With workshops, performances, screenings and discussions, MoneyLab#7 will explore what is happening outside of global finance, with a special focus on social payments, value systems and the premises of crypto design.

Facebook crashed the crypto-party earlier this year by announcing their faux-chain, Libra currency. With Facebook’s Libra, the whispers of the financialization of the social reached mainstream audiences. Is this a first attempt to copycat China’s WeChat and Alipay? What are the implications of the convergence of a social media monopolist, a crypto currency and a payment system? Is there anything to be learned from the Chinese examples that we comfortably position as doom scenarios from the Other side? How do we intervene in the cycle of competition between old, established players and new financial industries on markets that are still caught in bubble and burst dynamics?

Decades into the story of crypto and there’s still a lot of speculation—both in terms of money and concepts—and not a lot of actual, useful cases of practice. Our event will ask: what is now slowly changing? What new business models make developments in fintech possible? Like it or not, the avant-garde of fintech-uptake can be found in the online sex industry, pump ‘n dump schemes, on dark markets, and in corporate cybercrime. What can be learned from the attempts to regulate and reform? What would it take to globally govern blockchains and cryptocurrencies, and is it possible and desirable?

As crypto fantasies overflow with the same old biases, the question of who will redefine money remains an urgent one. Needless to say, redesigning the architecture of money cannot be left to libertarian men that dream of autarky. At MoneyLab #7, we will be looking beyond the world of libertarian start-ups aimed at fortifying eroding notions of identity, autonomy, property and copyright. We imagine a crypto economy, fueled by feminist critique and aimed at decolonizing existing power structures, that values care work and focuses on equity and solidarity. And we look at provocative counter-narratives and design strategies that parry the corporatization of digital money, from hyperlocal cryptocurrencies at techno festivals and the SheDAO, to self-organized exchange systems in refugee communities.

“Revolution,” Audre Lorde once wrote, “is not a one-time event.” We need to harness group power, work collaboratively from the margins and against the mainstream. Chains of engagement, as Felix Guattari believed, have to be “continually reinvented, started again from scratch.” The aim of MoneyLab #7 is to explore new possibilities to prevent, as Guattari put it, “becoming trapped in a cycle of deathly repetition.”

The program closes with a party on Friday night at Mike’s Badhuistheater.

With: Micky Lee, Brett Scott, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Reijer Pieter Hendrikse, Malcolm Campbell Verduyn, Josephine Wolff, Thomas Bollen, Lana Swartz, Andrea Fumagalli, Valeria Ferrari, Rachel O’Dwyer, Andy Morales Coto, Ruth Catlow, Denise Thwaites, Ailie Rutherford, Alexandre Laumonier, Eric Barry Drasin, Antonia Hernández, Stephanie Rothenberg, Aude Launay, Gregory Tsardanidis (Synergy), Silvia Díaz Molina (P2P Models), Anne Kervers (Unmuting Money), RYBN, Blockchain and Society Policy Research Lab, Furtherfield & Martin Zeilinger, Mischo Antadze, Emily Martinez.

The next MoneyLab events are scheduled in Ljubljana (March 24-25), Helsinki (September) and Canberra (November).

For tickets and the program go to
http://networkcultures.org/MoneyLab7