top of page
Search

Radical Markets Book Review: The Crypto Movement Should Be Radical



加密运动从一开始便在追求自由与平等,而现如今却成天在探讨合规不合规,既丢了独立性,最后也没合成规。《激进市场》开宗明义,要打破传统左右之争的基本范式。当然,它既不是极端派,更不是中立派,而是回归本源,引入“哈伯格税”的机制,以求创建真正竞争、开放和自由的市场,真正减少不平等,促进繁荣,并修正那些使我们的社会分崩离析的意识形态和理念分歧。

Written by Hu Yilin

Member of Crooked Neck Three Views Advisory Group, Associate Professor of Department of History of Science, Tsinghua University

Edit/ Kaka


01

Encryption original intention


I have participated in a lot of web3 activities recently, and output some opinions from time to time.

For example, I was discussing the meaning of stablecoin with someone a few days ago. I said that cryptocurrency was to subvert the old system of the central bank and fiat currency from the very beginning. So where did our revolution go? In my opinion, the point of USD stablecoin is at best to attract some vacillating wait-and-seeers who have not yet liberated their minds in the transition period, and it is unlikely to become the cornerstone of the crypto market in the long run, if the crypto market ends up in the US dollar regulated by the Fed As a cornerstone, then the entire crypto movement fails.

For another example, some time ago, I discussed with others whether the POW mechanism of Bitcoin is conducive to fairness or promotes the polarization of the rich and the poor. The peacemaker believes that the issue of fairness is not the main problem to be solved by the blockchain, and should be left to other social mechanisms to solve. And I seriously disagree: When I first paid attention to Bitcoin 10 years ago, the predecessors I followed were all discussing freedom and equality. If it is not for freedom and equality, why should we engage in decentralization? And why are we attracted to Bitcoin, and thus plunge into it when the cryptocurrency is far from showing a huge "money" scene?

Furthermore, the SEC sued Binance and Coinbase. My comment is: "Those who are compliant and non-compliant all day long have lost their independence and failed to comply with regulations in the end. Cryptocurrency will revolutionize the Fed from the very beginning. , but now begging for mercy from the U.S. regulation all day long, it is better to tear up your face as soon as possible and return to the original intention of the encryption movement.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s message in the genesis block pointed the finger at the central bank. Most of the early bitcoin evangelists were followers of the Austrian school or anarchism, and they were all committed to using cryptocurrencies to reform certain existing economies. systems and even social institutions. Vitalik, the founder of Ethereum, is no exception. In 2018, he wrote a book review for "Radical Market" published that year, clearly explaining the original intention of the encryption movement. Vitalik, like most people inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto, sees the genesis block message as a satire on the existing banking system, and believes that the consensus of the encryption movement is: "Whatever is the best way to organize society is absolutely Not the current political and financial institutional system.”


Author: Glenn Weir (/Eric Posner

Publisher: Eight Banners Culture

Subtitle: A New Market Design to Overcome Inequality, Economic Stagnation, and Political Turmoil

Original Title: Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

Translator: Zhou Yifang


Of course, Vitalik also noticed that as the influence of the blockchain circle grows, the participants become heterogeneous, and many people just join it with the motive of getting rich, but Vitalik believes: "Although the cryptocurrency Suffering from get-rich-quick theft and fraud, but its original motivation, which is to find out how things work better in the real world, remains." (Chinese translation quoted from Radical Markets Traditional Chinese translation)


02

Radical ideals


Radical Markets was written by University of Chicago law professor Eric A. Posner and Microsoft chief economist E. Glen Weyl in response to recent Decades of growing inequality and growing social and political fragmentation have put the market economy, once the pride of the Western world, in an unprecedented crisis. Its core idea is that all private property is a monopoly, and the owner can hold it but not use it effectively, preventing others who can use this property more effectively from obtaining it. However, extreme publicization will cause the "tragedy of the commons". Regardless of whether it is the left or the right, its ideological value has long been exhausted, and it is impossible to make drastic reforms. The author then proposes a revolutionary thought experiment - the introduction of the "Harberger tax", allowing all property to be sold at a price in the market, so as to avoid idle or blocked resources. At the same time, the owner of the property needs to pay a certain percentage of tax according to the price set by himself, so as to avoid indiscriminately raising the price and essentially refusing to enter the market. The authors argue that only by creating such truly competitive, open, and free markets can we truly reduce inequality, increase prosperity, and correct the ideological and social divides that tear our societies apart. (Refer to the Simplified Chinese translation and modify it slightly)



Author: [US] Eric A. Posner / [US] E. Glenn Weir

Publisher: Machinery Industry Press

Subtitle: An Economic Model to Beat Inequality and Stagnation

Original Title: Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

Translator: Hu Yuqing


This "Radical Market", I saw someone said that it should be translated as "fundamental market", because the English word Radical has the meaning of "radical" and "brand new", as well as "fundamental" and "basic". "mean. In fact, these two meanings are not contradictory. For example, in the current encryption community, especially in various domestic circles, those of us who adhere to the original and fundamental motivation of the encryption movement will appear very "radical".

Whether it is "radical" or "fundamental", the key is that what we are chasing is not just eating and making money, but chasing meaning and ideals. This idealistic attitude is different from the sloppy attitude of following the trend to make some money, the compromise attitude of thinking "reform is too difficult, let's do something small under the existing system", and it is also different from the attitude of not caring about the fate of human beings and just wanting to eat more The numb attitude of two mouthfuls of pork knuckle rice.

But aggressive attitudes don't always come across as passionate or impulsive.

Hope to make this society or the world better is actually not such a rare desire. In fact, everyone has more or less ideals to change the world. Even the various "keyboard warriors" that appear on the Internet now sincerely want to change the world. Of course, there may be some people who want to earn 50 cents or cents, but there are indeed a large number of netizens who do not seek specific self-interest in various actions. What are those people who flock to the pages of people they don't like to abuse, argue, and report? I think they are more or less hoping to eliminate cancer and make the world a better place.

When I entered the cryptocurrency circle, and recently participated more and more in various DAO activities, the fundamental motivation was always - "prove yourself and change the world". But I don't feel like I'm very special, very noble, very different. My pursuit is actually the same as those Internet trolls who chase after me and abuse me at certain times: "prove yourself and change the world". The difference is that I think I have found a better breakthrough, and my behavior is more decent. You and I don't need any special qualities to engage in the cause of changing the world and changing society. The problem is that everyone acts consciously or unconsciously in their own different ways.

Of course, "radical" does not only refer to the desire to improve society, more often it specifically refers to the idea of reform in a way that fundamentally subverts old paradigms and old ways of playing. For example, there is a group of people who advocate eating sweet rice dumplings during the Dragon Boat Festival, which is called the Sweet Party; If people in the sweet party advocate the prohibition of salty rice dumplings and only allow eating sweet rice dumplings, this is called an extreme school. None of the above are radical. Who are the Radicals? For example, another person came, and he said why do we have to eat rice dumplings during the Dragon Boat Festival? We should fast for a day. This is a radical.

In economics, there has long been a dispute between the sweet party and the salty party, oh, the battle between the left and the right. The left is more egalitarian, focusing on social welfare, and believes that reducing the gap between the rich and the poor is a top priority; the right tends to (classical) liberalism, advocates the free market, and opposes excessive government intervention.



The "Radical Market" begins with a clear statement that it wants to break the basic paradigm of the traditional left-right dispute:

The ideas of the Right and the Left, which were useful in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when they were born, are now at the end of their rope. They are no longer bold reforms, but shackles to open up the possibilities of society, we must open our minds to radical redesign. To get to the root of our problems, we must understand how our economic and political systems work, use what we know to develop countermeasures, and that is exactly what we do in this book." (refer to the traditional Chinese translation slightly modified)

The radical here is not cranky, but a return to the root. The basic paradigms of the current left-right dispute are old, but not particularly old. According to the author, they were born in the nineteenth century, and generally developed in the context of the industrial age. Progressive and indeed effective in terms of the imperial order. But after more than a hundred years, mankind has entered the new environment of the information age. I am afraid that the concept lineage of the industrial age is no longer progressive and innovative, but a shackle that binds our thoughts and hands and feet.

Of course, we hope that human society will continue to progress, instead of completely starting from scratch, or simply returning to ancient times. Therefore, we need to distinguish among the various concepts and orders that have gradually formed since the industrial age, which ones are our fundamental pursuits, and which ones are just compromises adapted to the environment of a specific era. If those methods that had to be adopted due to the constraints of the time and environment are taken as a matter of course, then they are not the achievements of progress, but become the shackles that hinder progress.

Radical Market" believes that the egalitarian ideals of the left are completely correct. Their shortcoming is that they resort to too much government bureaucracy and central regulation in order to realize the ideal of fairness. Granted, a modern bureaucracy is certainly more enlightened and progressive than the rulers of ancient feudal kingdoms, but they are still not the ultimate solution to social justice. On the other hand, the right’s advocacy of the free market is not wrong, but the disadvantage is that their advocacy is far from enough. They delude themselves that the perfect free market has already been realized, or they are unwilling to seriously consider the possibility of further reforming the market mechanism. Therefore, the right is "conservative" and often lacks "courage or imagination" for more radical changes.

A key inspiration for Radical Markets, or a minimalist model of "Radical Markets" - as Vitalik captures it - is a common case of distribution:

The problem of sharing the cake between two people. When two people both recognize the principle of fair distribution and both believe in the accuracy of their own judgment of value, the easiest way is: "Let one person be responsible for the division, and the other person chooses." Since the first person believes that his division is fair, no matter which piece the second person takes, he will not object; and the second person believes that his vision is accurate, so he can choose a piece of cake that he thinks is bigger . The result is that neither of them will dispute the result of the distribution. In fact, as a mathematical problem, this distribution method can also be extended to the situation of any N people, but the premise is that the action of cutting the cake itself will not cause loss.



This "absolutely fair" ideal distribution method is of course difficult to implement in various practical scenarios in reality, but it is indeed instructive for the distribution of properties that are not completely homogeneous - such as real estate. The principle is nothing more than to allow everyone to actively participate in the valuation, and to give everyone the opportunity to choose with some kind of fully competitive auction rules.

The "radical market" attempts to bring all property into the market, rather than being limited to circulation commodities that are actively offered by owners to mark prices. In particular, the valuation of any property is also fully market-oriented.

Radical Market" introduces the "Harberger Tax" mechanism to achieve full marketization. As mentioned above, All property (especially resources that are conducive to production such as real estate and minerals) must be put on the market for sale at a bid price to prevent resources from being idle or blocked. At the same time, the owner of the property needs to pay a certain percentage of tax according to the price set by himself, so as to avoid indiscriminately raising the price and essentially refusing to enter the market. In this way, all resources can be fully circulated and utilized, and the valuation of all properties will tend to be more accurate and fair.

Recently there was a case in China that showed in an extreme way how the valuation power of certain things was monopolized by a small group of people. It is said that a company under CYTS bought a Suzhou garden, valued the strange stones in the garden at hundreds of millions, and then colluded with a bank to obtain a huge loan. The Harberger tax is to solve the problem of "bragging and not paying taxes"-the valuation behavior does not need to resort to any specific institution (any specific institution has the possibility of collusion), but is completely decentralized. : You can estimate the value of your own stone, but the price is that you have to pay taxes on the estimated value. Of course, this may cut off many mortgage lending activities, but at least it makes the market more transparent and fair.

Of course, I do not fully agree with the specific design of "Radical Market", and I also have reservations about the "Harberger Tax" itself, but I must admit that this is a path worth exploring and experimenting.

Radical Market" may not be suitable for the traditional world dominated by industrial production, but in cyberspace, especially in the blockchain world, which itself aims at decentralization, there may be great hope. In fact, since Vitalik, explorers in the Web3 field have made some attempts. However, the existing attempts do not seem to be successful. The reason may be that the design of the "radical market" is only possible in a relatively overall environment. To explore and improve related designs, a relatively closed but relatively complete economy is required. system to test.

Maybe we can start by creating a "radical game world".

2 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page