MoneyLab #8: Care, Housing and Tax Havens. Up next: Blockchain

The MoneyLab #8 online streaming series features 4 themed discussions on major current social and political issues: care, housing, tax havens, and the sociopolitical implications of the blockchain. The first three are accessible online already:

1. Care: Solidarity is Disobedience

Neoliberal policies have re-organised the basic care provisions previously considered cornerstones of democratic life – healthcare, housing, access to knowledge, right to asylum, freedom of mobility, social benefits, etc. – turning them into tools for surveilling, excluding and punishing the most vulnerable, reframing the family unit as the sole bearer of responsibility for dependents. In the light of these processes, a growing wave of initiatives has been questioning the political and economic framework of care and experimenting with its collective reorganisation. On this panel, Tomislav Medak will present the research project Pirate Care that is gathering diverse self-organised care practices currently opposing the criminalisation of solidarity and prefiguring models for commoning care infrastructures. Cassie Thornton, of the Feminist Economics Department (the FED), will discuss The Hologram, a three-person health monitoring and diagnostic system practised from couches all over the world, on the phone and by many names, to produce a three-dimensional image of each participant’s physical, psychic and social health, based on one of the free, experimental care models developed by health workers at Social Solidarity Clinics in Greece during the height of the financial and refugee crisis. Maddalena Fragnito will present the experience of Soprasotto, a parent-managed kindergarten based in Milan since 2013. She will discuss the concept of “commoning care” by comparing its specificities to the market-oriented “techno-solutionist” hope on digital technologies in order to help society address the reorganisation of care needs.
Speakers: Pirate Care / Tomislav Medak (HR); Cassie Thornton (CA); Maddalena Fragnito (IT)

2. Housing: Hacking the Crisis of Home

From empty luxury condos in London to slum clearance in Istanbul, from mortgage debt crisis in Spain to unaffordable rents in Slovenia, we are witnessing different local expressions of the global housing condition. These local crises stem from the real estate-financial complex that has transformed housing into an investment opportunity for an increasingly unequal concentration of global surplus capital. The commodification of housing thus offers lucrative financial opportunities for upper classes, while at the same time contributes to the increasing residential alienation, housing insecurity and expropriation of the commons. States have contributed to these developments by not only deregulating housing markets and privatising public rental stock, but also by employing different entrepreneurial strategies that support private investment strategies while limiting the development of non-profit alternatives. Housing is thus no longer a source of individual or social stability and security, but of constant tension, conflict and exploitation. How can communities, in current conditions of financial plunder and state removal, come together to construct other scenarios? How can we develop new mechanisms of communal control that will once again embed housing markets in local social relations, that will treat housing as a communal resource and human right? Can we imagine another system that will not be based on housing as an investment, but will see it as a home?
Speakers: Lenart J. Kučić (SI); Forms of Ownership / Vienne Chan (HK/DE); DOMA.CITY / Maksym Rokmaniko (UA), Francesco Sebregondi (IT/FR)

3. Tax Havens: Normalizing Grand Theft

Tax havens are a popular topic for bar rants about The Others, those dirty scumbags who came to possess vast sums of money through means, networks, tools and methods an everyday earthling does not have access to. It is generally assumed the funds are a result of some money laundering/public corruption/criminal operation (as they often are), or of a “perfectly legal and legitimate” tax avoidance scheme. By law, only tax evasion is illegal, while the rest are legal methods of “cashing in” individual benefits, i.e., tax deductions for dependables. The public seemingly responds to revelations by authorities, journalists, and others about the millions in national currencies that have sunk into exotic offshore locations with the resigned realisation that everything will remain the same. This is true, but it also obfuscates the real consequences of tax havens: the millions of euros that never reach a country’s budget and are often a result of transnational crime. After the Panama Papers shook the global markets in 2016, some states fought back by installing registers of beneficial owners. Yet, they can hardly do anything about the flourishing offshore financial industry. To do so would go against the grain of the national economies of giants like the USA, where some states are “onshore” havens. Meanwhile the global public is complicit in this normalisation because, honestly, it is complicated to think about taxes and tax havens, right? Let this panel of investigative artists talking to an investigative journalist make it easier for you. RYBN.ORG will take you on an intimate ride aboard The Great Offshore, guiding you gently through offshore finance in infamous locations, like Malta, to help you identify with The Others. Then the Demystification Committee will show you how you can even become one of Them by receiving guidance from their Offshore Investigation Vehicle to set up your own global corporate structure.
Speakers: RYBN.ORG (FR); Demystification Committee (UK/IT)

The last themed session (and second-to-last overall MoneyLab #8 event!) will be held this Monday 22 June:

4. Blockchain: Radicalising the Social Imagination

Like many technologies, the radical potential of blockchains and cryptocurrencies to revolutionise the way we work, trade, cooperate and exchange has narrowed as major banks, corporations, and other powerful interests claim this potential for themselves. What has happened to those alternative futures lost along the way? What about the paths not taken in the development of this technology? Or was it fated to be this way? Was this technology cursed from the beginning? This panel seeks to explore the ghosts and spectres of alternative possibilities, of the radical imagination, that haunt today’s landscape of blockchain experiments. In an era when blockchains are being used for the purpose of increasing corporate power, of consolidating inequality, or for new forms of surveillance and exploitation, are other blockchain futures possible?

The panellists will seek to recover the political economies of the hacker-engineers, whose stories start with an affiliation to “decentralisation” that emerged out of experiences in pre-Bitcoin cypherpunk, hacker and peer-to-peer network cultures as well as consider money’s long history of “epic failures”, in which schemers, dreamers and tricksters have tried, and failed, to steal monetary fire from the economic Gods. Together they will question the task for a truly revolutionary money that would not only bring about a redistribution of wealth, but also a reimagination of value. Among the propositions, we’ll hear about exploring how blockchain tech could be used not for “fixing” property-based value systems, but for refusing such systems entirely. Instead of financialising creative practice and further commodifying aesthetic artefacts, can “crypto” resist property as such? How might an unownable digital artefact function on the blockchain?

Speakers: Jaya Klara Brekke (UK); Max Haiven (CA); Martin Zeilinger (GB)

Watch live, 22 June, 5pm CET: