An Occupy plan, money and free speech.

I just read this interesting “plan” put forward by the Occupy “Working Group on the 99% Declaration.”

Notice that ten out of twenty-two of the suggested grievances are either directly or indirectly about money.  Hmmm.  Interesting indicator of where the problem is.  It’s fascinating to me how stuck we are with the idea that such grievances about money will be resolved politically.

For example: grievance 1 & 2 call for reversing the supreme court decision that spending money is an act of free speech, because this allows corporations and rich people to control government through the “protected speech” of campaign contributions.  That seems to make sense on the face of it.  But the problem is, I believe that money actually is an expressive capacity, a speech act.  So free speech does apply.  But not quite the way it might at first seems.  It’s not spending money that’s the speech act, it’s issuing it in the first place.  You see, issuing money is making a promise.  It’s make a declaration about value.  Spending money just is passing along that promise or declaration that some other party made, because it’s a token of the value you wish to transact.

If free speech really applies to issuance this has consequence for Occupy. A far better strategy, I believe, is to build on that Supreme Court decision, to take it further and make sure that we trumpet this truth. That real monetary speech comes from issuance, not spending.  But we don’t have to wait for the courts to recognize this truth before we start acting on it. Communities and individuals everywhere can start issuing thousands of new types of currencies as acts of free speech.  Currency issuance is already free because it is speech!

There may be one political fight that comes from this view.  Currently, legal tender laws force us to recognize Federal dollars for settling “all debts public and private”.  This amounts to something akin to the opposite of free speech, the forcing of speech.  I believe that you are free to speak as you please, to make any promises that you want.  But this freedom of also entails, I believe, that I not be required to believe your promises.  But this is what the legal tender laws amount to, citizens being required to believe the promises of government and the financial industry which together issue Federal currency.

So perhaps one political battle worth fighting for is the repeal of the legal tender laws (which can be done on the grounds of freedom of speech), but I think better strategy is just to make it obsolete.

1 Response to “An Occupy plan, money and free speech.”


  • I already made a banner saying “end legal tender”! It was the pithyest, most unambiguous thing I could think of. However it sounds far out compared to what everyone else is calling for.

    Seriously though I’m no longer competing with all the other demagogues to educate the occupiers. I don’t even think we should be demanding anything of anybody. National governments are obselete, if not the very nation state. I’m rebuilding from the bottom up.

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.