Paris and its Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Jacket Movement) are busy eating up headlines with tantalizing images and sounds. Lost is the very real struggle regressive taxation has on ordinary people. It’s possible the land of laissez faire, free marketism, might just feel its roots again in a turn toward crypto, and the present revolt could be the catalyst.
Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Hopelessly smug, effortlessly suave, former lead singer of 80s alternative melancholia UK band, The Smiths, Morrissey, years back, sang an homage to Paris. The chorus lamented having to throw his arms around the city of lights because no one wanted his love. I am throwing my arms around it now because it needs my love. It needs crypto.
Paris holds a giant place in my personal makeup, my world view. From afar, it has animated my life — art, fashion, political theory, economics, cuisine, philosophy, literature. In the States, even the most sensual way to kiss is considered French, not to mention some of the more creative coital partnering.
I will fight to the death anyone who claims a writer other than Victor Hugo as letters’ greatest Romantic novelist. Hugo’s pages about Parisian sewers are compelling, tingling reading, whereas other authors would be accused of padding a story. Recently deceased master chef Joël Robuchon was a mandatory stop for my eldest daughter when she toured the grand city, waiting hours to dine at l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. At my suggestion, she dropped the most money she’s ever spent on a meal, and walked away with exactly zero buyer’s remorse. I love Paris.
Not All Revolutions the Same
Forbes columnist, former Wall Street executive turned crypto badass, Caitlin Long, reflected on her time in Paris from just a few short years ago. She was prompted, of course, by relatively recent happenings in the city, riots which have spread throughout the country in one form or another.
“Almost exactly 4 years ago I hired a historian as a tour guide there to help me answer a question,” she posted. “Why did France move toward collectivism after its revolution, while the Americans went individualist after ours? Both revolutions were middle-class tax revolts against oppressive ruling classes that happened close in time, and Thomas Paine was an instigator of both (he lived above this Paris bookstore.”
The French Revolution of the late 18th century was a violent, bloody mess, as was the American a few short years earlier, but the tone was much different. Frogs threw out nearly all institutions, and the wealthy were targets — their largess thought to be due solely to political connection.
“Both revolutions happened amid an anti-Establishment wave that was global,” Long continued on her personal social media page. “The answer to my question is complex, of course, but a big reason why France & America went in different directions was the difference in how many people depended on the State for their livelihoods at the time the State was overthrown.”
And that’s really the rub, I believe too. Petty, awful disagreements are exacerbated when folks believe they’ve some Right to coffers, to a general pool of tax money collected through expropriation, backed by guns and cages.
“Today’s Paris riots are a symptom, not the cause, of major problems that have been growing under the surface for years and were bound to boil over. The more I’ve studied history, the more I’ve cherished each visit to Europe while it’s calm and peaceful. Praying for Paris,” Long concluded.
Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes
History is clearer further out, once we get a chance to pull back from events as they happen. That understood, the latest dust-up in Paris, France, isn’t so much a revolution — a wholesale overthrow of existing structures — but is similar to something like a revolt.
Gilets jaunes (yellow jacket) riots are, from my understanding, anti-tax actions, stemming from its political class imposing ever-more regressive cost on goods and services dependent upon fossil fuels. They’re pushed on working folks already withering under a massive tax farming state.
For French citizens with average salaries and wages, taxation can mean severe differences in quality of life. More than nuisance or small encumbrance, costs flow to every part of the private sector, to each aspect of supply chains. The recourse such citizenry have is to a ballot box while they suffer, suck it up and accept artificial increases, or head to the barricades.
Unimaginative Way to Organize Society
Even the doltish among us realize taxes are not voluntary. Love it or leave it types are simply being coy, as anyone who has every tried to move, much less from one country to another, will explain — that’s not a viable option.
The trope about taxation being the price of civilization is another weak statement. Those affluent few who trot out such canards are often found on tax cheat lists, in searing documentaries about how the rich avoid ominous government fees the rest of us are saddled with. No one really believes taxes are a good thing. Never listen to what they say. Watch what they do.
Taxation, the forcible taking of money and property to feed state redistribution, is a piss poor way of organizing society. It places emphasis on violence rather than cooperation, as anyone who has ever decided to be tardy with a tax bill can attest. Governments aren’t really all that great at building roads or services, but they do a hell of a job collecting your taxes. They assert the legitimacy, should you sufficiently resist tax collection, to arrest and cage you until you find the cash, or worse.
Capitalism is Peace and Cooperation, as is Crypto
There’s often a caricature of capitalists. Too much product in their hair, catchy one liners involving greed, and they’re always portrayed as involved in a variation on Darwinian struggle. That’s, again, a silly misnomer. Capitalists are people of trade and commerce, bringing peace to the world through goods and services. Taxation is an immediate violation of that ethos.
When violent collection is a hallmark of a society, it shouldn’t be too surprising those put upon act out. They’ve little other choice. Once the protests got going in Paris, even ambulance drivers joined. Everyone is mad as hell. Mind you, the vast majority of protesters are not engaging in violence.
While crypto won’t be able to immediately upend taxation, it is a hack, a work-around such systems. Making people their own bank, with control over their funds, changes their interaction with money. The value of things alters in their minds. How crypto people engage with one another is often very different — you’ll find them innovating, sharing information, generous and working toward financial autonomy. And they’re not necessarily guided by tax skepticism, but are, for their own reasons, like the French protesters, fed up. Unburdening society of tax collectors, even at the margins, could be yet another gift of cryptocurrency to the world.
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