Truls Lie
Editor-in-chief, Modern Times Review. Also head of the Norwegian monthly newspaper NY TID. Based in Oslo/Berlin.

ABOLISHING CASH? Although most of us rarely use cash, there is something suspicious about the fact that banks and politicians want to abolish it.

Trond Bentestuen

There is a deeper, psychological trend in an increasingly technological society. This is more than just a practical way of thinking, as Trond Bentestuen of major Norwegian bank DNB obviously seems to suggest. Bentestuen also knows, although he does not say it, what level of control the bank will then be able to exert over its customers. Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s suggestion would have given the state and banks complete overview and control over the money of the citizens.

This brings us to the very core of the matter. We are talking about a mentality, some kind of bio-politics; a modern desire to control the bodies of the citizens. Historically, the State has been more disciplinary, using methods like pillory and whip. In the modern Norway of today, these means have been replaced by clever devices such as taxes and new technology. This has resulted in ruling powers gaining an advanced apparatus of control of the majority of movements – the so-called surveillance society. I am not only referring to bank accounts, GPS, Facebook, Google and surveillance cameras. Many new control devices are steadily emerging under the guise of «security».

Certain powerful people want to take our independence away – the control we have over our own lives. Being able to keep some physical savings laying around in case the banking system collapses? No. Being able to shop without being tracked by the Government or commercial interests? No. Being able to remain outside of a debt-riddled society, whose bubble will inevitably burst at some point? No.

If someone is tracking your electronic money, they could easily know everything about you. Just like how bio-banks are able to reveal your weak spots and illnesses, monetary banks and payment systems are able to map out your purchasing patterns and who you support financially. Similarly to the way certain mobile apps map you on the road, surveillance teams and the Police Security Service will be able to gather intel on all of your actions.

Abolishing cash means that some people will inevitably fall outside the system. And, being on the outside, you will be rejected. This will not just be the elderly without Vipps (the Norwegian equivalent of Venmo, a mobile app that allows you to easily transfer money to friends and businesses from your phone), or those who do not own a smart phone. Or beggars without a payment terminal. Or my friend who is always cheering up my local neighbourhood, but who has not had a bank account in the last decade. We are talking about minorities, people who are different, entire communities who do not fit into a totalitarian way of thinking whereby you have to behave average, be like the majority of people.

However, the main idea of a democracy is precisely that: To protect minorities, as well as free spirits who ask to be left alone away by the majority. Protecting both those who cannot be «reckoned with» and those who think and wish to act differently – in other words protecting the living conditions of these very human humans.

Øystein Olsen

Governor of the Bank of Norway, Øystein Olsen was recently quoted as saying in Aftenposten Insight: «It is possible to imagine a system whereby the payment goes straight from payee to recipient, without circumnavigating banks and the Bank of Norway.»

Really? Does he suggest that we, the members of a civil society will handle this, using crypto-currencies or similar? No. He is referring to digital central bank money, which are issued by the Bank of Norway.

I would prefer crypto-currency, bitcoin and other similar payment means to be handled by civic society, using modern network technologies. If this were the case, monetary value could be guaranteed by for instance 40 points in an electronic civic internet via block chain technology. This would enable us to keep a distance and healthy scepticism to the governmentality of bankers and government. Especially as we know that banks only retain five per cent of our real capital deposits, and that the private banking guarantee fund actually does not assure up to two million of our bank accounts because they only possess five per cent of these. So, who can we trust?

By abolishing cash, the Prime Minister argues, we can catch criminals and choke the black economy. Again: Really? When less than 2,5 per cent of all transactions are cash? No, it is about time to trust civic society to retain their own payment systems. Or, to suggest that you keep cash and gold outside of the reach of banks and governments and their eagerness to utilise and govern. Some people stockpile tinned food in case of a crisis. In the same way, regular, discerning citizens should be allowed the same possibilities for the next time the financial system breaks down – before sending the bill to tax payers.

The suggestion of a cash-less society exemplifies the logic among those in power –which is edging ever closer, stopping us from breathing freely, not leaving us in peace. Rather than freedom and solidarity, this is the new bio-politics, the so-called «welfare». Except, it does not resemble being able to fare well.