Thursday, November 14, 2013

Money And The Illusion Of Objective Value

One common definition of money is: a symbolic representation of value. There is a hidden assumption contained in this idea; namely, that value is something objective. It's not. Clearly, we don't all value the same things. Most people do not value things like crack-dealing and human trafficking. But some do, obviously, or there wouldn't be so much money to be made from those things. One of the many destructive effects of using money is to render extreme value conflicts invisible.

Let's say I'm a seller of shoes. A customer enters my store and offers me money in exchange for my wares. I have no way of knowing how he acquired that money. For all I know, he may have kidnapped and sold a child for it. Let's say he did. In taking his money, I am essentially, although unwittingly, affirming that his act had value, and directly rewarding him for it.

The idea that value can be objectively represented is socially destructive and insane. It's also very convenient for psychopathic criminals, if the rest of us believe it can be.

8 comments:

  1. So, are you suggesting that we should abandon money? I agree with that, in favour of a gift economy, as promoted by Charles Eisenstein ( http://charleseisenstein.net/ ). As the global finance systems are currently in the process of self-destructing, we have an opportunity to create something better out of the impending smoking ruins...

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    1. Hi Ian.
      Yes. I am suggesting we abandon money, but not as promoted by Charles Eisenstein. I'm glad you brought him up, though, since he does appear to be dominating popular discussion of the subject. I have not read his entire book yet. I started to, but I got frustrated by his habit of contradicting his own statements every other paragraph. For example, the two quotes below appear on the same page of "Sacred Economics":
      "On the personal level as well, we all sense that our individual gifts were given to us for a reason, a purpose. Moreover, we have an irrepressible desire to develop those gifts, and from them, to give our own gifts out into the world. Everyone has experienced the joy of giving and the selfless generosity of strangers. Ask for directions in a city, and most people are pleased to take time to help. It is in no one’s rational self-interest to give directions to a stranger; this is a simple expression of our innate generosity."
      "Money becomes necessary when the range of our gifts must extend beyond the people we know personally."
      He also presents assumptions, based on no evidence, as though they were facts:
      "Within every institution of our civilization, no matter how ugly or corrupt, there is the germ of something beautiful: the same note at a higher octave. Money is no exception. Its original purpose is simply to connect human gifts with human needs, so that we might all live in greater abundance."
      "If we are to have a world with technology, with cinema and symphony orchestras, with telecommunications and great architecture, with cosmopolitan cities and world literature, we need money, or something like it, as a way to coordinate human activity on the vast scale necessary to create such things. I have therefore written this book, to describe a system that restores to money the sacredness of the gift. I say “restore” because from the earliest times, money has had sacred or magical connotations."
      The terms, "sacred" and "magical" are not synonymous; not even close. Certain kinds of magic, such as that which seeks to dominate the will of other people (and I would classify money as magic of this kind), have always been considered, not merely un-sacred, but evil. On the basis of what I've read so far, he's either a very sloppy thinker or the confusion is intentional in support of an agenda.
      All the best.

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    2. you have read more than I have - my reference to Eisenstein was simply to explain what I mean by "gift economy". Personally I would rather drop the whole concept of "economy". When we live in the moment - in the elevated consciousness of being divine and eternal - then the universe takes care of our every need. All of the rest of nature functions very well without an "economy", let alone money. We should learn from nature.

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    3. Hi Ian.
      After your last comment, I decided to finish reading "Sacred Economics". I've got most of the way through it now, and it's much worse than I thought. The book is long and tediously repetitive, but the gist his proposal (mostly minus the misleading sales fluff) can be found in the summary (chapter 17, if anyone wishes to check what I'm saying here). What Eisenstein is advocating is NOT a gift economy. He doesn't want money to be abandoned. He does want a global currency and massive new bureaucracies, Rich and poor will still exist. The current PTB can, according to him, retain their wealth and positions, and that's OK because they don't really conspire to enslave us (from chapter 5: "What, exactly, is this “money power”? It is not, as it sometimes may seem, an evil cabal of bankers controlling the world through the Bilderberg Council, the Trilateral Commission, and other instruments of the “Illuminati.”)
      ; etc.
      Yes! We should learn from nature. That's exactly why I came to advocate gift economy. A real gift economy is one that follows nature's way. It neither requires, nor tolerates, bureaucratic control. The natural world doesn't keep a running tally of who owes whom; it doesn't withhold its bounty in lieu of payment. For these reasons, gift economy is antithetical to any kind of money. I'm now practically certain that Eisenstein is a lying, disinfo scumbag, who is deliberately misrepresenting gift economy to head off that idea's re-emergence into human consciousness. Thanks again, Ian, for bringing this to my attention.
      Blessed be.

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    4. Thanks for your lucid replies. You have convinced me not to bother reading Eisenstein's book myself (I was about to, but some lingering doubt about his whole approach was holding me back). I did get the impression before, from his other writings and talks, that he was not as free from the old paradigm as one would expect from someone promoting selfless benevolence. To me the very expression "sacred economics" is an oxymoron! Keep on posting your insights. Cheers.

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  2. to me money has always been an illusion for the most part. Yes, we need money if we are to lie our life with as much ease as possible. But in the end money is only a piece of paper or an ore from the earth. The worlds economies could totally collapse any minute. But still, given a choice I would rather have some money than to be forced to a life of eternal "need". Great to see you back on here sharing your thoughts with us!

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    1. Hi Ron.
      I assume when you say, "Yes, we need money if we are to live our life with as much ease as possible," you're referring to conditions within a monetised society. In that case, I would agree; it's better to have some than none. For me though, the knowledge that millions suffer greatly because of the existence of money is a pain that never goes away. Money itself is an illusion, but it's effects are all too tragically real.
      All the best.

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  3. I do agree wholeheartedly with you on that

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