Did Alan Watts lay the foundations for cryptocurrencies in the ‘60s?

We have already reported on the American government’s exploration of cryptocurrencies — and the supposed threats they pose — back in the mid-90s.


Well, according to r/Bitcoin redditor u/Itilvte, philosopher Alan Watts may have even pre-empted the NSA by almost three decades.


Watts, a respected thinker throughout the 20th Century who promoted Zen Buddhism and Eastern thought in the West, held an interesting talk in the late-60s called “Money, Guilt, and the Machine.”


Bitcoin users will recognize many of his arguments. Here are u/Itilvte’s excerpts from the talk (emphasis our own):


"(...) one of the reasons that our technology is impeded and prevented from feeding the world properly is the failure of one of our networks. It's an information network and it's called money, about which we have the most unbelievable superstitions and psychological blocks (...) But money and our psychological attitude to money is a major obstacle to a proper development of technology enabling it to do what it is supposed to do (...)


What this means then is that money is nothing but bookkeeping. It is figures. It is a way of measuring what you owe the community and what the community owes you. (...)


...that money is a circulation of information and in itself has no value. Gold of course has some value. It has some value for industry and some value for dentistry and some value for jewelry. But as a means of exchanging the goods and services of the world it is as primitive as post horses for carrying the mail. We must recognize then that money is a pure abstraction. (...)


But it [money] just isn't real at all because it has the same relationship to real wealth (...) that words have to meaning (...). And as words are not the physical world, money is not wealth. It only is an accounting of available energy - economic energy. (...)


So what we have to find out how to do is to change the psychological attitude to money and to wealth and further more to pleasure and further more to the nature of work. And this is a formidable problem. It requires the best brains in public relations, in propaganda, in all that kind of thing, in all the media: television, radio, newspapers, everything...to try to get across a message to the vast general public about what money is. You see the difficulty is this. When the public suspects that the money that is being issued, the dollar bills being issued by the government are only paper, and stand only for paper, they start putting up prices so you get an inflationary situation where the more paper money there is, the higher and higher and higher the prices go… which is a very stupid psychological maneuver. And people have to be persuaded.


(...) but they have to be persuaded somehow not to put up the prices, but to play fair with each other and keep some sort of standard correspondence between how much is produced and how much credit is issued."