Ethereum the neutral. And Ethereum the transcendental?
The celebrity Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek could apparently agree with the possibilities around the latter, at least according to his 2012 documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.
Near the beginning of the film, the thinker, musing on the Coca Cola brand, said:
“A commodity is never just a simple object that we buy and consume … A commodity is an object full of ideological, even metaphysical, niceties. Its presence always reflects an invisible transcendence … It’s that mysterious something more … We are talking about the illusive surplus.”
In my latest watch through, these remarks made me think of Ethereum.
Not just because CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert recently hailed ether as a commodity (wink wink), but also because Žižek’s comments remind me, even if tenuously, of all the memetic and educational work currently being done to plus (in a verbal sense) Ethereum—and ether, ERC20 tokens, DAOs, dapps, etc.— toward maturity and legitimacy.
Like the argument from my prior “neutrality” post, this transcendental logic is not revelatory or even new within the Ethereum ecosystem. It’s the threshold where all the platform’s most interesting memes are currently dancing, I think.
As Ethereum’s stakeholders continue to grapple with its many, varied implications, what the platform and its community could be and will be and should be, these memes press into “the illusive surplus” all at once. A reflexive legitimacy, you could say.
That’s where MolochDAO and MetaCartel press. Where DeFi, “ETH is money,” and related concepts press.
Indeed, such surplus building may be why community and education organizations like Eric Conner’s and Anthony Sassano’s EthHub are on the rise per the latest round of Gitcoin Grants, as highlighted by Vitalik Buterin.
It’s increasingly important work, stakeholders are recognizing. And the work is getting better. Think of Camila Russo’s The Defiant, Ryan Sean Adams’s Bankless, Matteo Leibowitz’s column at The Block, and David Hoffman’s recent articles.
These, among other things, are the surplus building, I’d say; and it’s all toward Ethereum the transcendent, the annunciation of the many things that Ethereum is and can be.
Ethereum and its parts are what we make them, what we defend and rally around. And the possibilities are wide open, to be sure.
William M. Peaster is a writer and editor tracking the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dai beats.