By Benjamin Rosenbaum and Ethan Ham – Photo by Jonathan Lewis

If Vreeder’s tenure as head of the central bank was remarkable, it is surely due more to the tenor of the times, than to his own talents, however notable; if his program was dramatic, it must be remembered that he was reacting to remarkable events beyond his control.

The ironies of history, and especially the sharp-toothed whimsies of that Hegelian animating Spirit behind epochal social and technological changes, are well attested. On the eve of World War One, the growing interdependency of nation-states was widely thought to have made war impossible—no one foresaw the unprecedented carnage ahead. After Hiroshima, in contrast, the world hysterically prepared for atomic apocalypse—few expected a subsequent century without a global armed conflict.

So, too, when Vreeder assumed office, many observers—noting the dramatic rise in nonmonetized transactions, the surge in de-alienated labor, and the growing trend for nation-states to convert themselves into informal associations (replacing architectures of control with architectures of cooptation)—considered a central bank to be an increasingly fragile and obsolete mechanism presiding over a shrinking portion of human activity, and Vreeder a dull man taking a dull job.

Few could have anticipated Vreeder’s innovations—or, more precisely, the innovations which Vreeder midwifed, acceded to, or, in some cases, failed to block: the Global Slack Index, the universally individualized tracking of human freedom, the extension of currency-control mechanisms to the realm of intrapersonal negotiation theory, and (indirectly) the growth of the nonmonetized derivatives markets in political and ontological free will—culminating, after the collapse of other forms of political authority, in the transformations leading to Vreeder’s ultimate role.

Perhaps the best that can be said of Vreeder, after scraping away the mystifications surrounding him, is that he was uninterested in abusing his position; and perhaps that alone justifies Vreeder-as-folk-hero.