🎁 The Gift¶
After describing Eth2 as our generation's elder game of economic penalties, it may seem like there is nothing left to say. However, there is one bonus side-mission left; one more extension pack meant to give you a unique means of reading our new interplanetary plays.
For eight weeks, we've been discussing the play of complementary opposites, extending our awareness of the spectrum of consciousness and examining more intimately the trade-offs we make in every moment. But what, really, are these opposites? What informs their opposite-ness? What is the real nature of their relationship?
The opposition is, at it were, between container and contained, between the background and the stage, between the field and the players moving on it. The good and the evil play their opposing parts on the field which remains neutral and indifferent and "open" or "empty". It is like rain that falls on the just and the unjust. -- Daisetz Suzuki
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” -- Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
Vitalik mentioned last week the importance of asymmetric defense as the basic premise required to uphold "the ideology of the cypherpunk spirit". So, let's look more carefully at those two loaded words: ideology and spirit.
To do so, we'll consider a critical and often-overlooked part of hacker and cypherpunk culture: gift-giving. Once we've traversed this most ancient and storied part of both our shared history and individual psyches, we'll turn to Marianne and Mary to help us understand the inertia of language which makes the above two words so difficult to deal with. Then we'll close the course with a consideration of what a universal language deployed on a shared, transparent, and ownerless global network means when playing increasingly principled multiplayer games.
Thank you for your kind attention. This has been an amazing exploration, and we wish you so very well as we all adventure together into new architectures of time and more numinous digital-economic spaces.
As he has played so vital a role in many of the currents which flow beneath this syllabus, we would like to dedicate this module to the intergalactic memory of David Graeber. Consider taking some time to read one of his first and most moving works, Fragments of An Anarchist Anthropology. In speaking about the imagination as a political principle, he wrote:
One obvious role for a radical intellectual is to do precisely that: to look at those who are creating viable alternatives, try to figure out what might be the larger implications of what they are (already) doing, and then offer those ideas back, not as prescriptions, but as contributions, possibilities — as gifts [...] Such a project would have to have two aspects: one ethnographic, one utopian, suspended in a constant dialogue.
Economies without markets were not based on calculation, but on a refusal to calculate; they were rooted in an ethical system which consciously rejected most of what we would consider the basic principles of economics. It was not that they had not yet learned to seek profit through the most efficient means. They would have found the very premise that the point of an economic transaction—at least, one with someone who was not your enemy—was to seek the greatest profit deeply offensive.