Chapter 35: Society is debt
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Debt is an accounting structure that encodes an entire society: who owes what to whom, when. Track-and-trace accounting defines debt. Money is a depersonalised debt-form that settles particular debts. Banks depersonalise debt by socialising individual IOUs and issuing socially-legible ones. Central banks are backed by social debts, tax-backed bonds: fiscality encodes a collective, national debt. Tax debts are robust so that, through the socialisation of banking, ledger entries become social metal. Debt-credit is perspectival; the balance sheet enables the view from the particular unit. The time-bound nature of economic life makes debt foundational, not epiphenomenal. Debt is pharmakon: the ramifying complexity of interlocking balance sheets debts generates growth and/or instability. Debt forgiveness is the flip-side of credit creation, a system reboot when incoherence accumulates. The state manages inherent instability per the prevailing political settlement. A democratic state would nationalise banking in order to democratise the social engines of debt.

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