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Most people refrain from delving too deeply into history. Some, especially the young, are too busy making their own history or trying to anyway. However, our lives are built on assumptions and often these are the assumptions of others who have gone before us. Yuval Harari calls them myths, the myths that we live by. There are myths which give our lives meaning – the myths of money and of God. Many of us work the live long day in the pursuit of money. Some of us believe in a supernatural, invisible entity that lies at the centre of our universe. What if both of these things have no real tangible substance and are, rather, myths that we live by?

“In a similar vein, money is a fiction that depends on the trust that we collectively put in it. The fact that it is a ‘myth’ has not impeded its usefulness. It has become the most universal and efficient system of mutual trust ever devised, allowing the development of global trade networks and sophisticated modern capitalism.”

100 banknote lot - More Corrupt & Incompetent Government Behaviour From Morrison’s Coalition

Money’s Mythical Status In The Mind’s Of Many

Money, as some of us realise, no longer has a gold standard value. Money, today, is largely numbers on a digital screen. This belief in the value of money is based on trust in a system. An economic system, which involves governments, central banks, commercial banks, businesses, and consumers. Every now and then, things go seriously wrong with our capitalist system and we call these – economic crashes, depressions, and recessions. In those periods, there is a rude awakening for many of us who normally operate unquestioningly within the framework of our states and their structures. Suddenly, there are banks going bust and losing billions of dollars. Perhaps, billions of our money, which in turn causes governments and central banks to rush in and hopefully guarantee our deposits. During the last Global Financial Crisis (GFC) the Federal Reserve in America, their central bank, pumped in (without government approval) $29 trillion to prop up the entire capitalist system. Money, unlike resources, is not a finite thing within nations that have a sovereign currency. They can create as much as they like of the stuff. The only caveat being the inflationary nature of money creation and that is predicated on how that money supply is released into the economy. Quantitative Easing is the name of the game. Money, therefore, is a myth in that it is, in cash form, an IOU from the government that is accepted at most businesses within our nation. Our debit cards issued from commercial banks are even more widely accepted in the current era than cash. There are no pots of gold somewhere backing up this trust system, we all take digital finance on trust. We live our lives running around and working hard in pursuit of this intangible stuff, all based on trust in a story that we subscribe to.

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God’s Representative’s Love Of Money

David Graeber, the late David Graeber, wrote an entire tome on money called Debt: The First 5, 000 Years. In that excellent book, Graeber reveals the close affinity between the myths of money and God. Religions historically had a great love of money and hoarded it. This did not always end well, especially during the Dark Ages when there were Vikings about. All that gold and silver in monasteries and churches was overwhelmingly attractive to raiders intent on taking home loads of wealth. Graeber makes the salient point in his big book that human beings have happily operated under debt arrangements between themselves for millennia. He debunks the whole barter system myth so beloved by economists since Adam Smith.  Graeber, as an anthropologist, states that there is no archaeological evidence to sustain the belief that barter was the widespread economic system prior to the development of our modern financial economies.

Love Is Not A Bank Loan

I was watching a mini series drama on the ABC recently, called the House of Gods. In this series about Iraqi’s living in Australia and their cultural/religious communities there was a powerful line spoken by one of the characters, which touched me. “Love is not a bank loan; you don’t have to pay it back!” This encapsulates an essential element within Graeber’s book. We have all become so economically defined in the 21C and economics has become our new religion in many ways. Graeber gives an example of an NGO lawyer working with refugees in the UK, who he met at a party, and a snippet from their conversation. He was somewhat stunned by her moralistic attitude toward poor nations and the imperative for them to always pay back loans from the IMF. This inspired him to write the Debt book to discover the roots of our beliefs and attitudes about money, credit and debt.

euro banknote collection on wooden surface- the myths of money and God

Primordial Debt Theory & Sin

The role of religion in the emergence of money is shown. The language used within both frameworks with terms like ‘redemption’ and ‘salvation’. The fact that within the precepts of Christianity we are born into a state of sin – of owing God something straight away from birth. Then, in the Lord’s prayer, it is written “forgive us of our debts as we forgive those of our debtors.” Primordial Debt Theory infuses many religious traditions beyond just Christianity. You can see that many religious scriptures were written with an awareness of the market place and in those terms. It clearly reveals that the word of God is invariably that of human beings and their concerns. These are myths devised to motivate and manipulate certain behaviours. Money and religion have both been used over the journey to control populations of people. Think of the consumer credit rating systems in place around the world today, where scores are kept of your inclination and ability to borrow money and pay it back.

“Primordial debt theory was initially expressed through religion, particularly early Sanskrit texts such as the Vedas and Brahmanas, which suggest that humans are born with a debt to society. This debt is repaid through means such as making sacrifices for the greater good, having children, and offering hospitality to strangers. Governments then assumed guardianship of the primordial debt owed to society for creating us. Debts to society were converted into money through systems of taxes, fines, fees, and penalties for wronging others in some way. In order to finance trade, temple administrators in ancient Mesopotamia invented interest-bearing loans. This led to the practice of giving loans to peasants who would become debt-peons if unable to repay. Debt-peons were forced into perpetual service in the lender’s household. Kings periodically declared amnesties to alleviate this social breakdown caused by indebtedness.”

brown wooden cross with flag of us a on top

Forgiving Debts Not Popular With Republicans

President Joe Biden has been trying to forgive billions in student debt in the United States but the Republicans keep blocking him by whatever means they can find. SCOTUS being the latest block to this attempt to alleviate such a heavy burden placed upon the young for the rest of their working lives. Americans financialize everything – higher education, health, and the list goes on. The Republicans want to apply this ‘for profit’ mechanism to every aspect of life – with social security firmly in their sights as the next target. More Americans go bankrupt because they cannot meet their medical bills than for any other single reason. Welfare is a dirty word in the mind’s of many conservative Americans, as they have been acculturated to associate this with socialism, weakness, and the evils of communism. In Australia we have universal health insurance provided by the government called Medicare. I do not think that this has proven to be the harbinger of communism or any other evil in our experience. It is a GOP furphy designed to help business make more money and profits out of human life.

Money & Military Power Globally

Economically, the United States rules the roost within the global community of nations. A large part of this is tied to the military might of the US. It spends some $877 billion annually on its military, as of 2022 figures. The power of the US dollar in global markets is without question. The US has military bases in key locations around the world. In Germany, in Japan, in Türkiye, in the UK, Spain, Bahrain, Greenland and 750 military bases in some 80 countries. Graeber has linked this world power domination with the old idea of lesser states paying tribute to more powerful states. Right now, we are seeing the rise of China both economically and militarily. Russia too is flexing its muscles around its borders, in Syria, and in Africa. The economic sanctions against Russia has seen a strengthening of BRIC, an alternative economic bloc involving Brazil, Russia, India and China. These nations want to do business with Russia and its cheaper fossil fuels for their own economic benefit, rather than kow tow to the US and Europe on matters of national security and the integrity of a nation’s borders. Money talks louder to these developing nations and rising powers than any US defined ideas about right and wrong.

woman in brown coat hugging woman in white knit cap

A Mother’s Love Is Not A Commercial Exchange

Love is not a bank loan: The myths of money and God. Graeber writes about how we interact with our nearest and dearest in a communistic style. Most of us do not charge interest on loans to family and close friends. Indeed, many of us give freely to these intimates in the spirit of love. Our economic adherence to the rules of finance often stop at the borders of our immediate family. Likewise we expect to receive in times of need in a less commercial manner from those within our most intimate circle. Mothers give unceasingly to their children to nurture them through to adulthood. Most do not expect to be repaid materially for their investment in raising their children. Giving is the theme here. There can be expectations held by parents as to the desired direction their offspring’s lives take but these are not bankable.

Stories Determine Our Behaviours & Understanding

Human beings love stories and most of them are fictional. Ancient historians doubt the veracity of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. It is more likely that he is an invention by interested parties back in the day. There are no primary sources for what this Messiah had to say, as they are all secondary accounts written down long after he is purported to have lived and died. Filter this doubtful body of work, called the Gospels, through two millennia of interpretations, translations, and canonization – and what eventuates are works of invention and reinvention. You would not expect any thing or text to survive intact after such a lengthy and bumpy journey down through the ages. Everything gets recycled to reflect the concerns and interests of the day. It is a matter of how things work in life. Harari calls these things fictions, these myths we invent to make the wheels go around. Some harsher social observers have called them lies but this can be inflammatory.

beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime

Authorities Base Their Power On Myths & Fictions

The history of money and economics are full of lies or fictions too. Vested interests simplify things to accentuate their desires and wishes. Most folk do not delve too deeply into the past and the history of things. Even the important things like money and God. 99% of the population accept the stuff they are fed. They believe the assumptions that the systems of control are based upon. Authorities within the state base their power upon the assumptions about what has gone before. The Christian religion in America via Christian Nationalists is flexing its secular muscles at the moment by banning abortions in conservative red states. Even IVF is coming under state scrutiny from Alabama supreme court judges threatening the wrath of God in 2024. Christians are never happy just policing their own bodies they invariably want to police everybody elses too. It is the nature of this religious beast. Roe vs Wade has been overturned by a conservative religious majority on the SCOTUS bench. The world used to look to America as the leading progressive democracy but not so much anymore. The myth of a wrathful God wagging His finger at us, above in the clouds, over our sinful behaviour in the bedroom, is an old fiction. Resurrection is an indelible element within the archetypal religious myth, however. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a backlash against science, particularly in the US, where they made vaccination and mask wearing ideological points of contention. Nearly a million Americans died from the Coronavirus in the richest nation on earth. This was wildly inconsistent with what happened in other Western nations like Australia. In the same way that a gun related mass murder happens every week or more in the US and the Republicans in office still refuse to tighten gun laws – there is a stubborn refusal to adhere to facts within this expression of the American psyche. It is like they see themselves as bigger than the truth. The myth of the power of the individual over his or her community reigns supreme in America to the detriment of the vulnerable. Often it is school children who are the victims of this horrific gun violence via AR-15 military style assault weapons, which are sold to members of the public. Why would a member of the public need a weapon like this in God’s name? Making money for American big business is more important and carries more weight than public safety in the US.

Brand New Release!!!

If we do not question things, we are likely to live apathetic lives. If we do not take the time to delve into what has gone before, we are condemning ourselves to a life of unknowing. Those in charge want more folk who do what they are told. Freedoms only exist if you test them. Investigate your world, rather than complacently acquiescing to everything. Explore the fictions that underpin your life by digging down beyond the superficially accepted stuff.

Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom

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Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt & Financial Freedom

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Clio was the ancient Greek muse of history. so we all thought that she would be an appropriate entity to run this site.
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