Beyond God and Money

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley

When Christianity was the West’s main system of control some of the finest minds in the world were employed to articulate brilliant, complex, philosophical arguments in defence of the various paradoxes which sprout from a belief in the bible. These “experts” were capable of ingenious and amazing[1] responses to the major stumbling blocks presented by the religious belief systems of the day.

For example:

If God is all powerful can he make a rock which nothing can move?

Answer: Yes of course.

Paradox: Can he then move that rock?

Either way his power appears to have limits. [2]

Wrangling round questions such as these gained articulate and clever people a lot of power and status back in days gone by. Don’t get me wrong, St Thomas Aquinas and his mates probably believed what they said. It’s just a lot of it, from the perspective of 2013, now seems like very clever, interesting, well-written, bo—cks.

It is often claimed similar such nonsense continues today but nowadays it is the financial sector who will pay top dollar for you to fudge the issues[3]. Paradoxes in our monetary system are just as crushing when stated bluntly:

For example:

People who need money can borrow it from a bank?

Answer: Yes of course, but they must pay it back with interest so we can reward people who keep their excess cash with us.

Paradox: So, doesn’t that mean in the long term we’re taking money off people who need it and giving it to those who don’t?

There’s a huge list of excuses as to why that’s not so but no matter how you slice it, people who have a lot of money keep it in a bank and get paid cash for doing so. The more money you have the more you will be given by this process. This “interest” comes directly from those who needed it and therefore had to borrow it.

Furthermore, there’s a whole load of “experts” who will tell you this is not the case and that people who say it is are ‘heretics’ or ‘communists’ or whatever new insult they can cook up. Rarely though can they tackle the issue, it’s easier to try and confuse it. Additionally, as with the religious paradox, this is but one of many issues connected to the belief system.

Recently I was listening to a BBC radio programme and a financial “expert” was puzzled over the UK’s rising inflation. He said it was because of “non market forces”, things like tuition (college) fees. Broadly it was seen as a complex mystery and the presenter of the segment even announced “we’re not worried about inflation”. Then, without missing a beat, they went on to discuss “Quantitative Easing” which, if you’re not an expert, effectively means printing money. You know, like they did just before the hyper-inflation that plunged Germany into the mire of the Third Reich.

This is not to suggest these two were being dishonest. I’m just implying printing money and lending it out to people who need it, then charging them interest on repayments, has approximately the same success rate as the prayers of a religious scholar.

The important point about this connection between religion and money is that it’s easy to spot the problems but trickier to advocate an alternative system. People often describe religion as a crutch but it’s a cruel character who knocks away the walking stick from one who appears to be relying on it. Many fear Nietzsche’s prophetic “death of God” is being accompanied by a visible breakdown in law and order as our society, previously controlled by supernatural threats of final judgement, comes apart. The possible, some would say inevitable, collapse of the Western financial system may leave an even more crippled community behind in its wake. Telling it to ‘take up thy bed and walk’ might be a little tricky.

In other words, I accept the fact it is easier to criticise and destroy than to create, you can knock over a hundred sandcastles in the time it takes to build just one. That said, the first step for an addict on the road to recovery is to recognise they have a problem. Perhaps this article is small part of that process. It is posted here in the hope these thoughts will benefit from the always insightful comments section.

Nick Margerrison (my twitter)

[1] I use the word “amazing” here in the sense that they could literally draw you into a maze where you could remain lost and confused for a lifetime. If you are in want of distraction it is worth looking at some of the theological works of the past, genius never loses its shine, even if its conclusions are incorrect. Once you’ve finished think about how your mind freezes or your eyes glaze over when the financial news comes on the radio. Picture the waterfall graphics of numbers and the jargon you’re expected to understand and then ask yourself this, you’re an adult now why are you still ‘unable to understand’ it?

[2] This argument is variously called “the immovable object” or “the irresistible force meets the immovable object”. It’s a classic which nowadays sits in the library of philosophy as a curious relic.

[3] If you ever listen to a Phd level or above mathematician describe what they do as being a thing of quasi-divine like beauty you can start to understand this. Mathematics is a language and a great mind, the modern equivalent of a medieval theologian, can fashion incredible arguments with it. The very best of these people do not generally get drawn into physics or chemistry but instead are attracted to the financial sector. Why? Well, you do the maths.

[4] I’ve lost count of the number of people who get sucked into left vs right politics and seem to think that the rising gap between rich and poor can be halted without addressing this structural problem. We reward people, with money, for being rich. That money comes from people with less money. Hence the ever rising gap between you and the world’s billionaires.

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  • Andrew

    It seems to me that interest should have the same effect on inflation as printing money.

  • BuzzCoastin

    the modern money paradigm is inexorably links God with Money
    causing sheeple to think God has or has not blessed them with Money
    and yet if they actually heeded the words of their Lord Jesus:
    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
    the whirled might be a better place

    unfortunately

    the followers of Jesus rarely heed His words
    except when it serves their personal interests

  • http://twitter.com/neiallswheel neiall mullery

    when i describe myself as a problem solver or an ideas man, it means i have a solution, and im criticizing ‘you’ because of it. = Creative Criticism {1}

    tuned into a TV religious debate sunday morning and it sort of boiled down into religion forgetting love (for other races, fellow man, sexual preference etc..) and strictly enforcing a non-realistic NON sex. (anti abortion, anti contraceptive) And for the most richest, largest, secretive pedophile networks this sort of equates to HAVE MORE CHILDREN.

    money and religion Nick, not art forms in themselves, but the heads that rule them master the art of deception, the weave, (1) they have the darkside of creative criticism , toying with our life blood and pitting us against each other with a social propaganda, above the Law, devoid of guilt, and basically to aptly sum it up ‘they sold their souls to the devil’ . are highly intelligent people easier to corrupt?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742104313 Adam Goodwin

    In a system where money is loaned into existence and interest is charged on top of it, it will never be possible to end the system with the same logic that pervades the system–i.e. use the smaller quantity of money to pay off the larger quantity of debt. Such a malicious system is engineered to be impossible to escape, and is, therefore, inherently immoral. Requiring an ‘alternative’ proposal to this system as a precondition of its rejection is like requiring a slave to convince his captor that he can live without his slavery. It’s a morally bankrupt proposition and logically inconsistent.

  • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

    Brilliant contribution. Thank you.

    We used to have priests, now we have “experts”. Same shit, different day. But whether we’re talking about God’s will or economics, sinners’ souls or consumers’ accounts, what we’re really discussing is power – through the veil our masters have chosen.

    Skilled abusers rarely resort to outright thuggery. It repels the native human conscience, especially of the oppressed, but even the middle-management when it’s brutal enough. Most of the civil rights advances of the last century have leveraged the latter with civil disobedience. When the truth is exposed as naked aggression in the light of day; day after day; people cannot deny its moral repugnance.

    But when the wizard’s curtain is drawn, his power is spectacular and mysterious. An inquisitor with secret knowledge can burn down whole villages with the mind of God. An economic hitman wrecks whole geographical regions with austerity. Witches burn for lack of faith. Citizens are evicted for lack of money. And none protest too much. They are simply swept up in historical times and everyone is distracted by the great and terrible illusions those in power set forth. Meanwhile, the bishops are fat and the CEOs rake in millions. The god de jour favors them, and so should we.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I think religion can be about power but I don’t think it always is. Priesthood generally is. But this whole financial structure is about power. It doesn’t create wealth though,just money. So that’s important to remember.

  • Reuben_the_Red

    Great piece Nick, thanks! Is money, or “the economy,” little more than a belief system, our belief system, backed by a series of assumptions and unfounded speculations unrelated to reality?

    I think it’s very noble and humane of you to be reluctant to kick the crutch out from under someone who needs it. A few thoughts on kicking away the crutch, a useful metaphor:

    1. Does this belief system burden people to the point that they can no longer stand under their own weight, making a crutch necessary?

    2. We might first learn/remember how to walk ourselves without these crutches and belief systems, and then start to worry about everyone else who’s hobbling around.

    3. People become so engaged with their belief systems, it’s like they are rooting for “their” team, or team captain, against the other team or team captain. They are rooting for more than victory, they are rooting for their opponents’ defeat. They have invested this with a lifetime of meaning.

    4.People don’t react well to having their belief system exposed as fraudulent, because they’ve been banking on its meaning for their entire lives, and they don’t want their entire lives exposed as frauds. They will sooner lash out violently and abusively at someone who is declaring their whole lives have been meaningless, or for naught.

    5. For this reason, most people with a belief system would sooner attack someone who is critical of their belief system, than consider the criticism or reexamine their own beliefs.

    6. Is life meaningless outside of belief systems? Can we stand straight under our own weight? Do other people’s belief systems prevent us from doing this?

  • emperorreagan

    The modern economic system is based on convenient fictions (for instance, money having some sort of inherent value apart from social exchange) and the threat of violence from the state (whether it’s the state taking your property for failing to pay taxes or the outright violence that empire uses against its client states).

    It’s hard to imagine something else because the state has interjected itself as an intermediary into all levels of social interaction. The state engages in policies that fracture communities and consolidate power & wealth (e.g. the body of farm policy that supports monoculture, a handful of big agriculture companies, imposes onerous tax & regulatory policy that discourage independent farmers but can be readily avoided by the big companies…)

  • Dingbert

    First of all, I appreciate the discerning of Western from Eastern Christianity in the attitude towards scholasticism (the latter typical rejects it in favor of mysticism).

    But, I don’t think Thomas Aquinas draws one into a confusing maze. Summa Theologica is surprisingly easy to understand. I’d also say it’s still insightful in 2013. If you study metaphysics or theology, you will be reading Aquinas. For better or worse, Neo-Thomism also played a major part in shaping 20th century European governments (in the form of Christian Democracy), so I would argue it’s still practically relevent as well.

    Also, hyperinflation certainly did not bring the Third Reich to power. In fact, it was the opposite. It was the deliberate deflation/depression under Heinrich Bruening during 1930 to 1932. Historians and economists know this well . . . with all the monetary debates going on nowadays, though, ideologues regularly attempt to rewrite history. (“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored” indeed!)

    One thing is for sure: Thomas Aquinas would not get along with modern economists:
    “If there is an urgent and clear need, so urgent and clear that it is evident that an immediate response must be made on the basis of what is available . . . then a person may legitimately supply his need from the property of someone else, whether openly or secretly. Strictly speaking, such a case is not theft or robbery.” -Aquinas

  • NotADupe

    ” This “interest” comes directly from those who needed it and therefore had to borrow it.”

    Not entirely true, look up the term ‘leverage’. Banks create money for loans and mortgages from thin air. There is no prerequisite to have that money, thus there is no “borrowing”. It’s a scam to keep people in debt, which is necessary to create serfdom/slavery for the purpose of creating a class system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

    Moneylenders rules:
    #1 All interest on the loan of money is a swindle.
    #2 Collateral that is worth more than the loan, is the banker’s greatest asset.
    #3 Loans rely on the honesty of the borrower but not the honesty of the lender.
    #4 Loans of silver repaid with goods and not with silver, forfeit the collateral.
    #5 The debtor is the slave of the lender.
    #6 High morals impede profits, so debauching the Virtuous pulls them below the depravity of the moneylender who there-by masters them and bends them to his will.
    #7 Monopoly gives wealth and power but monopoly of money gives the greatest wealth and power.
    #8 Large crime families are more successful than lone criminals or gangs; international crime
    families are the most successful of all.
    #9 Only the most ruthless and greedy moneylenders survive; only the most corrupt bankers triumph.
    #10 Time benefits the banker and betrays the borrower.
    #11 Dispossessing the People brings wealth to the dispossess, yielding the greatest profit for the bankers when the people are impoverished.
    #12 All private individuals who control the public’s money supply are swindling traitors to both people and country.
    #13 All banking is a criminal enterprise; all bankers are international criminals, so secrecy is essential.
    #14 Anyone who is allowed to lend-at-interest eventually owns the entire world.
    #15 Loans to friends are power; loans to enemies are weapons.
    #16 Labor is the source of wealth; control the source and you control the wealth, raise up labor and you
    can pull down k.
    #17 Kings are required to legitimatize a swindle but once the fraud is legalized, those very kings must be sacrificed.
    #18 When the source of goods is distant from the customers, profits are increased both by import and export.
    #19 Prestige is a glittering robe for ennobling treason and blinding fools; the more it is used, the more it
    profits he who dresses in it.
    #20 Champion the Minority in order to dispossess the Majority of their wealth and power, then swindle the Minority out of that wealth and power.
    #21 Control the choke points and master the body; strangle the choke points and kill the body.

    Chinese investors are killing the U.S.A. with Kindness – long low loans to kick the debt down the road while the principle owed grows, and controls are applied.

  • alizardx

    About your item 4 – Bi-partisan political “centrism” can be summarized as the concept that the sole legitimate purpose of government is to facilitate the upward transfer of wealth, marketed differently to “left” and right political demographics.

    This is frequently justified with the “trickle-down” concept, but the historic evidence shows that what gets trickled down is “pre-owned” water.

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