WASHINGTON D.C. – Richard Nixon’s hand-picked Fed chairman, Arthur F. Burns, was convinced that formalizing the end of the Dollar’s gold convertibility would result in the collapse of Western civilization. But, long before the President sat down in front of the television cameras on that balmy summer afternoon in Washington DC to blame “international money speculators” for his unilateral termination of the Bretton Woods agreement, Nixon’s so-called “shock” was already a fiat accompli.
Herman Khan, late founder of America’s foremost conservative think tank The Hudson Institute, would more accurately describe it as “the greatest rip-off ever achieved“. After all, despite the risks and a temporary, if serious, devaluation crisis that took place in the immediate aftermath, the calamities envisioned by Burns and other traditional-minded economists never materialized.
Instead, the Anglo-American establishment effected an outright coup by ushering in a de facto US Treasury Standard backed by nothing but the “full faith and credit” of the United States government. Countries holding surplus Dollars had a simple choice: Dump the Dollar and face national bankruptcy or remain a creditor to the biggest bully on the block.
The end of Dollar convertibility removed any remaining pretense of America as a good faith actor in the world. Free from any true currency controls and successfully retaining its world reserve currency status by way of the surreptitiously-crafted Petrodollar, the United States took the Dollar into overdrive and doubled down on its deficit-spending empire-building model, financing its war machine by borrowing from the rest of the world.
A few months before resigning in disgrace and hopping into the helicopter waiting for him on the White House lawn, Nixon inaugurated the era of global capital flows by allowing the Dollar float against other currencies and set the stage for the proliferation of so-called public-private partnerships that would fuel the growth of venture capital firms in Silicon Valley and the rise of Big Tech.
Accompanied by a ballooning money supply and stratospheric levels of debt, America’s middle class would be wiped out over the course of the next fifty years by what has been alternatively described as the productivity/wage gap or a decline of worker’s relative income. In either case, the phenomenon of skyrocketing inequality has not been limited to the United States nor is it unrelated to the ascent of firms like Google and Amazon, whose global operations now represent the tip of the spear for Anglo-American hegemony.
Introduction to The Devil’s Currency
The Devil’s Currency begins with the story of the US Dollar at the moment of its coronation and ends with the Faustian bargain on offer as we stand at the threshold of the abolition of money as we know it. Consciousness stripped of its spiritual dimension and the drama of our collective experience traded for a banal reproduction comprised of binary choices tethered to algorithmically managed outcomes.
From the pseudo-mystical leanings of a millionaire philanthropist, who set the stage for the creation of the Anglo-American military signals intelligence apparatus to the incongruous nexus between behavioral psychology, electrical engineering and nuclear physics that produced the philosophical and technical foundations of digital computer technology, the series will explore the ideas, personalities and implications of money in the 20th century and its seemingly inexorable merger with data in the 21st.
Part one focuses on the dynamics at play as World War II was winding down and Bretton Woods went into effect; the consequences that monetary policy had for the world and the soft regime change operation carried out by Anglo-American intelligence agencies against two ostensibly allied governments during the extraordinary social disruptions that shook the world in 1968 to mitigate the damage wrought by the inevitable suspension of Dollar convertibility.
The second installment looks at the interplay between America’s powerful private sector and the much weaker, but nascent federal government of the United States in relation to their growing associations with Anglo-American academic institutions and the British Crown, respectively, at the dawn of digital computer technology and artificial intelligence.
Tracing the birth of the National Security Agency (NSA) and DARPA, part two dives into the true origins of the Internet and decentralized communications networks to expose these as a long-term information control strategy by the Anglo-American establishment, that emerged along with professional cryptanalysis and laid the groundwork for the encryption technologies, which are the basis for our contemporary digital enclosures.
Finally, part three breaks down the efforts currently underway to synthesize money with data as the Dollar standard is deliberately taken offline and digital ledger systems, such as blockchain, are literally brought online to impose full-spectrum information feudalism using bridge technologies like cryptocurrencies and dismantling legacy economic systems under the guise of a dubious public health emergency.
Saddled with trillions in soon-to-be worthless US Treasury bonds, the world is facing a reckoning not unlike the one it faced when America defaulted on its gold obligations and dared its sovereign creditors to call its bluff. The Devil’s Currency concludes by identifying Universal Basic Income (UBI) programs as the canary in the coalmine for the ultimate default and the wholesale transition into the assetization of human behaviors, biological processes and labor that will drive the value of life itself in a new post-currency dystopia.
The Poisoned Money Tree
The summer of 1944 marked a significant milestone in the Anglo-American project for global hegemony. In the midst of the Allies’ pivotal invasion of Normandy, delegates of seventy-seven nations, including the USSR and China, met for several weeks at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire to hash out a post-war monetary policy, that would jumpstart a period of unparalleled economic domination by the West.
Signatories at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, or Bretton Woods, agreed in principle to stabilize exchange rates and alleviate the pressures of a war-ravaged global economy by anointing the Dollar as the world’s reserve currency and laying the cornerstone for globalization through the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) – a.k.a. The World Bank.
Brought to the brink of annihilation by repeated economic depressions and two world wars unleashed by the death throes of a waning colonial paradigm, Europe lay in ruins and only America’s productive capabilities, which had been left intact, could provide the necessary resources for the rebuilding process to take place. Crucially and for the second time in as many wars, the United States government held virtually all of the claims on Allied war-debt and, by the end of the decade, nearly 80% of the world’s gold as well.
Nevertheless, economic coercion wasn’t a prospect Europe was too keen to endure and countries spared any part in the conflict had actually grown their economies in the absence of Western interference weren’t looking for a savior. As a result, penetration by Anglo-American interests required a new global threat, which would be conjured up in Fulton, Missouri several months before negotiations were finalized in Savannah, Georgia.
In the spring of 1946, Winston Churchill declared that “from Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent” in a speech that is widely recognized as the beginning of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. But, Churchill had already been planning to backstab its wartime ally with a sneak attack in 1945, codenamed operation Unthinkable, even before Stalin saw the writing on the wall and exited the Bretton Woods talks.
Fueling and Funding Terror and Propaganda
Plans for the new system had begun as early as 1942, when William “Wild Bill” Donovan assumed the directorship of the newly renamed Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which he also led under its original iteration known as the Coordinator of Information (COI) office in FDR’s White House. The COI was the first centralized propaganda and espionage outfit in the United States, which like the rest of the budding American intelligence establishment, had been under the tutelage of the long-toothed British intelligence services since the turn of the century.
In 1943, Donovan created a foreign counterintelligence (CI) section in the OSS at the behest of Britain’s MI6, known as X-2 and with its operational headquarters in London. That fall, the royal faction of Italy’s fascist ruling classes signed an armistice with the Allies and X-2’s substation in Florence, under the direction of American “spymaster” and future CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, became a linchpin for the OSS’ clandestine anti-communist crusade, later bequeathed to its successor organization, the CIA and formalized as operation GLADIO in the newly-formed, post-war Atlanticist military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Enlisting the services of Nazi officers along with the Turkish and Sicilian mafias in partnership with the Vatican’s unique money laundering capabilities, GLADIO was the covert engine that maintained the pretense of the Cold War for the next several decades by framing leftist or populist movements in Europe for violence carried out by GLADIO’s ultra-right wing “stay-behind” units, as well as funding right wing dictatorships throughout Latin America.
Chalked up to “hybrid warfare” strategies, the “international communist threat” was simultaneously being ginned up by propaganda operations emanating out of the UK’s Foreign Office (FO). Among the most significant was the Information Research Department (IRD) – a secret “Ministry of Cold War” established in 1948, which worked with some of the era’s most distinguished journalists and artists to produce and disseminate “unattributable propaganda” of both the anti-communist and anti-capitalist varieties.
The IRD worked together with the UK’s Foreign Office Research Department (FORD), the first-ever Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) division anywhere. OSINT was the brainchild of Arnold Toynbee creator of the Council on Foreign Relation’s sister organization, the Royal Institute of International Affairs’ (Chatham House) and father of the think tank governance model. Initially called the Foreign Research and Press Service (FRPS), Toynbee’s wartime intelligence outfit preceded the IRD by nearly a decade and was highly instrumental in crafting the UK’s post-war policy for the Soviet Union.
In the spring of 1948, famed author and former communist Arthur Koestler traveled to Washington DC to meet with several “State Department officials, presidential aides, journalists and trade union officials“, following an earlier visit with Wild Bill Donovan in New York, just as the CIA was starting up operations. Koestler, who had been in the employ of the British government since 1942 working for its original propaganda organ, the Ministry of Information, became one of the leading propagandists of the IRD upon his return to England, where he would join with other intellectuals and cultural icons, like Nicolas Nabokov and Isaiah Berlin, in the effort to spread misinformation and ideological subversion throughout Europe.
Among the most consequential and long-standing propaganda initiatives funded by the CIA was the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which had its official headquarters in Paris, but had significant operations in Berlin from 1950 until its scandalous dissolution in 1967. Founded by an Estonian CIA asset, the Congress was financed through the agency’s operation QKOPERA, which was also responsible for Louis Armstrong’s famous Middle East tour and virtually the entire Abstract Impressionist movement.
For nearly twenty years, the Congress sponsored well-known artists, intellectuals and members of the media with CIA funds throughout the 35 cities where it operated, promoting a concept developed in tandem with the IRD known as the “Non-Communist Left” or NCL, intended to undermine both communist and capitalist principles, carefully avoiding the appearance of “attacking any member of the Commonwealth or the United States” in the case of the latter.
Terms & Conditions
Anti-communist rhetoric not only served to break the protectionist barriers of resource-rich nations in the Global South and break up the Soviet bloc, it also provided cover to steer the new international economic institutions in the right direction.
Claims that the IMF and World Bank themselves were actually part of a communist plot to take over the world successfully muddied the waters and made sure that ultimate control of the organizations remained in the hands of City of London and Wall Street financiers and less in the hands of the political establishment.
The allegations against the IMF’s first director and co-architect Harry Dexter White, claiming he was a Soviet mole were never proven to any degree of certainty and, in any case, neither he nor his UK counterpart, celebrated British economist John Maynard Keynes, would live to see how their design was turned on its head and made into the twin pillars of a “laissez-faire” system, which both men derided.
When it was all said and done, the IMF and World Bank were fashioned into tools of a state finance capital model operated by and for the benefit of Anglo-American financial interests. By sharing over fifty percent of the voting power and exclusive veto rights for the United States, the system allowed the UK to forestall its imminent bankruptcy and maintain the Pound Sterling’s position through the expansion of the British Commonwealth system, while Washington was able to arrest Latin America’s agricultural and industrial development to protect its own burgeoning monopolies, while subsidizing American private sector operations in Europe and relying on deficit spending to underwrite its rise to a military superpower.
Over the next two and a half decades, the tumorous growth on the banks of the Potomac would metastasize in tandem with its furtive partners along the Thames through the debt-finance scheme, flooding the world with gold-backed Dollars until paper reserves inevitably exceeded physical gold reserves by a ratio of 8 to 1 and the prospect of dumping surplus American paper became a Catch 22.
Thus cornered, most Anglo-American client states would have to brace themselves for the inevitable sequel to Bretton Woods and the implementation of a pure fiat US Treasury standard, presaged by the Federal Reserve’s move to eliminate the gold requirement for deposits made by member banks in 1965. The house of cards was on the verge of crumbling to the ground as a run on gold by France, Germany and other European nations forced it to partially suspended Dollar convertibility in 1968, limiting conversions to central banks and letting the commercial price of gold float on the open market.
Flowers, Peace Signs and Regime Change
UNESCO declared 1968 to be the “International Year for Human Rights” just as a tsunami of social unrest, rife with human rights abuses was erupting throughout the world. Two months earlier, the January issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists showed “7 minutes to midnight” on the doomsday clock, a masochistic metaphor devised by Manhattan Project scientists from the University of Chicago, which had moved five minutes closer from where it stood since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
French president Charles De Gaulle had been agitating for a reform of the international monetary system since returning to power in 1958, directly attacking the Dollar standard in public, which he described as “America’s exorbitant privilege” and going as far as sending the French navy across the Atlantic to collect the gold on his surplus Dollars. The CIA made several failed assassination attempts against the leader, who survived more than thirty throughout his controversial political career.
Pressure was mounting on the Dollar and the Pound Sterling as the debt-finance model could no longer be justified in the face of growing trade deficits. France proposed raising the price of gold, which would have resulted in a massive devaluation for both currencies and was, predictably, rejected by the US and UK. But, matters came to a head by the end of 1967 and the British government had no choice but to devalue Sterling by 14%, setting off a massive run on the Dollar, which in turn, motivated the closure of the New York Federal Reserve’s gold window in March of the following year.
Along with France, Germany was also tightening the screws on the Dollar and instability in the German government threatened to place more barriers in the way of Britain’s bid to join the European Common Market, which was also vehemently opposed by De Gaulle, who compared British participation in the EEC to the disruptive force “Mao Tse-tung was having on the Communist world”.
In late January of 1968, West German troops were called to clear a church in Hamburg that had been occupied by students linked to a leftist organization known as the Sozialistiche Deutsche Studentenbund (Socialist German Student Union, SDS), who were distributing pamphlets with a revised Lord’s Prayer, rewritten as an attack on capitalism. Only a few days later, Paris police found themselves dealing with a small group of student protestors in Nanterre University (the “enragés“) who would soon play a central role in the mass protests that would engulf France later that spring.
France and Germany would emerge as the fulcrum of the student-led revolts that shook the world, but seemed to leave the US and UK relatively unscathed. Despite Robert F. Kennedy stoking the anti-war flames in the United States and Oxford University students trying to throw the UK ‘s Home Secretary into a fish pond, it was De Gaulle who was driven from power by massive union strikes across France. Chaos also reigned in Germany as the SDS’ influence grew as a result of the assassination attempt on its leader, Rudi Dutschke.
Dutschke fled to England where he would recover from his wounds and spent a year at Cambridge University before being “expelled” and settling in Denmark, where he would play a key role in the creation of the Germany’s Green Party. The party would lay the groundwork for concepts like the sustainable development goals and social justice that pervade today’s global agenda, but its official entry into Germany’s political arena was only allowed when it dropped its pacifist plank and endorsed NATO’s invasion of Yugoslavia in 1999.
As the 1960s came to a close, however, and thousands of Germans were crossing from West Germany to East Germany and vice versa, marching through the streets of Berlin carrying portraits of Ché Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Rosa Luxemburg, the biggest threats to the continuation of Anglo-American dominance in Europe were effectively neutralized as the country slipped into an identity crisis.
Hidden in the whirlwind of unprecedented civil disturbances, were twenty years of subversive, “unattributable” propaganda created, sponsored and circulated by US and UK intelligence agencies in conjunction with entities like the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, whose ideological interventions in Germany and France preceded the formation of the CIA, itself.
The outing of the Congress for Cultural Freedom as a CIA front in ’67 was just the tip of a much larger Anglo-American propaganda iceberg that spanned the globe, which together with GLADIO operations, set the stage for equally disruptive events in Prague, Warsaw and Budapest, that fractured the Eastern bloc and severely diminished the prospects of any challengers to Dollar hegemony at its most vulnerable point since inception.
Dawn of the Digital Enclosure
Meanwhile, the American political establishment’s ability to maintain power appeared immune to the brass knuckle beatings of Columbia University students or the violent repression of activists during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, to say nothing of the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and RFK.
The riots that erupted in more than 40 American cities after MLK’s murder was a watershed moment for the militarization of America’s police forces, which the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965 had already bolstered with bigger arsenals and crowd control equipment. After the riots, police departments across the country received another boost with the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which further expanded the resources allocated to them.
America’s “exorbitant privilege” allowed Richard Nixon to ignore the social and economic polarization occurring before his very eyes and rode his “law and order” campaign slogan straight to the Republican nomination and to the White House later that fall. The first wave of “neo-conservatives” followed him into office as a noticeable shift was taking place in American politics as the balance of power shifted further in favor of corporations and the brokerage houses in London and New York.
Barely a year into Nixon’s administration, a computer scientist at UCLA keyed in the first letter of a message transmitted over leased telephone lines to another computer in Palo Alto, California as part of a confidential project coordinated through the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).
Only two alpha-numeric characters were sent before the system crashed and had to be reset. But, the seeds of a new information paradigm were planted that afternoon when ARPANET showed the first signs of promise for a commercial version of a technology the U.S. military had been developing since the early 1950s and which would transform the way information is stored, distributed and, most significantly, commodified.
A Very Special Relationship
The decision to float the Dollar and indefinitely suspend its convertibility to gold was precipitated by a warning from the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the U.S., George Rowland Stanley Baring, scion of the Baring’s banking dynasty (a.k.a. the Queen’s Bankers) and former Economic Minister for the UK in Washington.
On August 12, 1971, Baring had one of his many meetings with top White House officials and members of the Treasury. On this occasion, the former IMF and World Bank executive brought harsh news: The Bank of England intended to cash in over $3 Billion worth of their surplus Dollars into gold.
“We can’t pay it”, Treasury Secretary John Connally bluntly told the President one day before Nixon and his advisors would meet at Camp David to discuss the political ramifications of permanently closing the so-called “gold window”. The move required some finessing of public opinion, given Nixon’s focus on his upcoming re-election campaign, but the move was inevitable.
The Smithsonian agreement, temporarily fixed currency exchange rates in the wake of Nixon’s announcement and worked as a stopgap to assuage the fears of a global economic collapse, but it hardly served to protect the Dollar’s position as a reserve currency. For this, a new system had to be put in place that could preserve the coercive mechanisms built into the IMF and World Bank’s Dollar recycling system without the benefit of an underlying gold standard.
Secret negotiations were already underway with the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority to set up the Petrodollar – and oil-pricing scheme that would perpetuate the Dollar recycling dynamic through a UK-controlled Eurobond market that generated interests and debt that were funneled back to the US Federal Reserve as surplus petrodollars by way of the IMF. Chosen to lead these negotiations was none other than Lord Baring’s friend and Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.
Though Kissinger is often credited as the mastermind behind the Petrodollar, the reality is that he was merely tasked with executing the designs of the Anglo-American establishment, whose real interests are far better reflected by a character like Baring whose generational connections in the Arab world allowed a man like Kissinger to even suggest such an arrangement to the Saudi royal princes.
The Price of Rebellion
“Rowley”, as he was called, was not a typical diplomat. His nobility rank, 3rd Earl of Cromer, had been created seventeen years before his birth in honor of his grandfather, Evelyn Baring, who had served the crown as British Controller-General of Egypt in the pivotal years of 1877-78, which marked the beginning of Egypt’s incorporation into the British Empire and control of the Suez Canal. The 1st Earl of Cromer would go on to serve as the imperial consul in Egypt after direct British occupation until 1907.
The merger of the Baring’s merchant banking operations with the British Crown was virtually completed in the latter half of the 19th century, when it became the first bank in modern history to receive a government bailout. A consortium consisting of City financiers and Barings’ biggest rival, NM Rothschild, was put together to raise nearly £17.5 million in order to avoid systemic collapse after a massive speculative bet in Argentina failed, leaving the merchant bank holding over £2 million in unsellable stock of a private utility company in South America.
The bailout strengthened the bank’s relationship with the British Monarchy, signaled by King George V becoming George Rowland’s godfather. Blood ties to the Crown were cemented later in the 20th century when the daughter of his cousin, Margaret Baring, married Prince Charles and became Princess Diana.
Darker implications arise once we look into the links between the Barings, Nixon and the notorious Saudi arms dealer, Adnan Khashoggi, uncle of the man killed alongside Diana in Paris and a significant contributor to Nixon’s presidential campaign. Khashoggi funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the future president through his account in a Key Biscayne bank owned by Nixon’s confidant, Charles “Bebe” Rebozo and facilitated Lockheed Corporation’s dominance of the global arms trade, along with Northrop, a company with whom Khashoggi had developed intimate business ties.
By the time the US-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation, or the Petrodollar system, was put in place, Britain was finally admitted into the EEC and the fate of Europe would remain firmly entrenched within the Anglo-American sphere of influence through the financial control of its energy markets. Direct control over the resource itself, as the Seven Sisters cartel had maintained for the better part of the 20th century, was replaced with the imperative to keep the oil priced in dollars in order to prop up the fiat US Treasury standard.
When Saddam Hussein attempted to price Iraqi oil in Euros instead of dollars, the entire US and the UK war machine was unleashed on the Middle Eastern country, cobbling together a reluctant coalition of hostage states to back up the pretense of international approval. The “war on terror” was declared soon thereafter as the rumblings of economic independence and self-determination augured the inevitable demise of the Petrodollar.
Resettling the West
In 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis gave cover to a complete overhaul of currency-dependent fractional reserve banking schemes, which was systematically burned to the ground and transplanted to a hedge fund model that already operates in a virtually currency-free environment and will soon be applied to the general economy via so-called cryptocurrencies, which were let loose for the express purpose of “disrupting” M-1 and the payments space, in general.
With the publication of Bitcoin’s whitepaper in 2010, a veritable tsunami of digital coins and tokens running on ‘decentralized’ byzantine encryption platforms began to flood the world, reminiscent of the “wildcat bankers” on the eve of America’s westward expansion.
Much like the esoteric complexity that surrounds the acquisition and movement of cryptocurrencies, post-Jacksonian-era frontier bankers often set up their banking facilities in the most remote and inaccessible areas, surrounded by dangerous wildlife to reduce the chances that holders of their worthless dollars would show up to redeem them for the promised metal equivalent.
The inevitable string of bankruptcies, panics and economic depressions caused by “free banking” practices of the 19th century paved the way for the Federal Reserve and the central banking model in ways that closely parallel how cryptocurrencies and the decentralized communication computer networks are paving the way for the abolition of currency, altogether and the erection of a new control system managed via technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and accounted for through digital ledger systems birthed in the bowels of the Anglo-American empire.