Frederick Kaufman – an English and journalism professor – has a new book out that talks about the rise of cryptocurrencies and their disruption of the money system as we know it.
Kaufman: Crypto Has Really Changed the World of Money
Titled “The Money Plot: A History of Currency’s Power to Enchant, Control and Manipulate,” Kaufman saw his book published as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold. The pandemic proved to be a huge period of change for many people and industries, a big one being crypto. From one night to the next, bitcoin became more than just a speculative tool. It became something that could protect one’s wealth from economic strife.
Kaufman says that while cryptocurrency plays a big role in his book, the work is largely about why Americans project so much onto money and what it means to each person. Some of us look at money as a means of attaining freedom. Others see it as a symbol of status. Either way, money is important to each person for a wide array of reasons, and his book seeks to explore all these issues.
In a recent interview, Kaufman discusses some of the primary topics:
Primitive money is very material. It is a feather. It is a bead. Over time, it becomes very metaphorical – a coin, paper money. And then finally, of course, there is very little material money in the world. Only about five percent to ten percent of money in the world is in any material form, and then one might say the end game is cryptocurrency. It has all the attributes of primitive money. It is our security, except it has no material parallel.
Kaufman says that for the last 1,000 years, money has been “security” to most people. He says this idea can largely be attributed to some of the religious aspects that were introduced during the Middle Ages. He states:
In the Middle Ages, the Christians start defining the future, and that is going to be doomsday and the apocalypse. Everything is counting down to that. This transforms commercial culture into this focus on expiration dates and money. It is all about expiration dates. It is about when you get paid. It is when your quarterly report is due. It is all of retirement savings, and a mortgage, of course, is based on when it expires. We are securitizing the money and gaining control over it. That is the essence of money.
It’s No Coincidence…
Discussing crypto, he says people becoming more interested in digital assets during the pandemic is no coincidence:
If you look back at the history of apocalyptic moments, people fly towards security, and that is what money is. Some people see their security blankets as gold, some see it as crypto. Some see it as cash… All this indicates the true essence of money: security. Making sure we can continue in our status.