However, the results of this war reveal its true purpose: tracking citizens and their taxable income.

The war on cash is actually a war on commerce, or rather, on any commerce that can’t be monitored and controlled by government. Governments survive and grow based on the productivity of the rest of society, and as a result they try to restrict wealth creation to only those areas where it can be recorded and redistributed.

This war on cash is attracting widespread attention. What people may not know, however, is that the current war is only the most recent version of government policies that have been around for a long time. Similar programs have appeared throughout history, some even dating to antiquity.

One notable example occurred in China during the “Warring States” period, roughly 475–221 BCE. This era produced some of China’s greatest contributions to philosophy and technology, but unfortunately, was also a time of unrelenting warfare and political centralization, leading eventually to the Qin unification of China in 221 BCE.

A sea of blue: share your bluebell photographs



Often found in ancient woodland, bluebells are a significant part of our springtime. These forest flowers only have a small window to bloom; between the arrival of the warmer sun and the opening of the tree canopy which casts them in shade.

This spring the Woodland Trust is mapping bluebells across the country with the launch of its Big Bluebell Watch. The idea is to determine how bluebells are being affected by climate change, and whether any action is needed to protect them.

Have you spotted any bluebells on your recent woodland hikes? We’d like to see your pictures of any you have discovered, as well as the location of where they were found. Tips on what to look out for can be found here.

We’re planning to feature the best of your bluebell photographs in the eye witness section of the paper, so please share the highest image resolution possible. The assignment will close on Monday 9 May at 10 am.

You can share your images by clicking on the blue ‘Contribute’ button on this article. You can also use the Guardian app and search for ‘Guardian Witness assignments’ – and if you add it to the homepage – you can keep up with all our assignments.



ISIS reported to have blown up ancient temple in Palmyra

The burgeoning list of appalling acts by ISIS has grown even longer: The Islamic extremist group has blown up a nearly 2,000-year-old temple in the historic ruins of Palmyra, Syria.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director-general of antiquities and museums, said Sunday that sources in Palmyra informed him that ISIS members rigged the Temple of Baalshamin with large quantities of explosives and detonated them.