The radical left generally plays with the thought of a society completely devoid of money and market. According to their reasoning, money is the root of all evil. This is the complete opposite to the view of objectivist philosopher and writer Ayn Rand (read or listen to an excerpt from her magnum opus), but still a view shared by, it seems, a majority of people around the world. Perhaps this is the reason Ayn Rand’s views are considered so radical, even though they are rather “mainstream” among economists.
However, I would say the radical left isn’t as far out as many claim it is. Some of the arguments and aims of this rather communist movement are definitely both ignorant and stupid as well as “evil.” But that does not make the radical left very different from most ideological movements: there are bad ideas (sometimes called dogma) prevalent and even dominant in most traditions of thought.
But the existence of such dogma should not make us throw out the baby with the bath water. No one is infallible or perfect, and thus we should be magnanimous and patient enough to assess the ideas for what they are. We shouldn’t disregard from all mail simply because the carrier in some respects is despicable, so to speak.
Actually, I claim we could learn from the radical left in how we understand and appreciate money. What I am saying here is that it really is the root of evil. But before you panic and appalled vow to never visit this blog again, allow me to explain what I mean and in what sense money is indeed evil.
The left despises wealth as they see it as the fruits of exploitation. Part of this is their insistence to believe in the labor theory of value, a value theory that, to say the least, has some shortcomings. Since wealth is expressed in money and money in turn means power it is a symbol of oppression. As such a symbol it is literally hated by many on the far left.
The power of money is evident since large amounts of money brings the power to e.g. build or shut down factories (thereby creating and destroying jobs), boss people who lack money around, as well as corrupt the minds of those desperately wanting this kind of power. Money, it would seem, is both an instrument and symbol of power, and as such it is reasonable to assume things would be for the better without it.
I tend to agree with this view, but strictly in the light of contemporary corporatist (or fascist, if you will) state society. Money doesn’t have to be evil and it certainly isn’t inherently so, but it definitely is as things are today. The reason for this? The state.
Money is an instrument of oppression simply because it has been monopolized by the state and therefore is no longer a voluntarily accepted market instrument. Wealth as we see it today is hardly ever a result of hard work, ingenuity, and respectable conduct; it is literally never a natural outcome of being at service to the masses. Rather, wealth is the result of not hesitating to use corrupt and utterly immoral measures to become market leader and bar others from offering better and cheaper products: wealth is what you get if you have enough friends in Washington, D.C., and if you manage to play the game of politics masterfully.
Wealth is not a result of masterfully producing products cheaper, faster, and at a higher quality than your competitors. It is a result of producing while using the guns of government to slay or tie the hands of the competition; to legally limit the number of suppliers and producers in the market to perpetuate the privilege of acting as a monopolist (or oligopolist); to maintain a constant flow of cheap labor to exploit; to prevent, block, hinder, and stop any kind of market mechanisms that might arise.
There are of course some exceptions to the rule, but most of them can only come so far. Sooner or later they will need to buy politicians off and call for legal support, if nothing else simply to not let competitors use government against them without a “fight.”
This is the reason we have corporate empires that seem unaffected by time – everything changes, but the corporate empires seem to prevail.
There is however another piece to the puzzle that must not be forgotten. It is definitely not the case that Capital is rotten and makes whatever immoral use of a neutral state they possibly can. The main problem is the system of force in which these corporations and business leaders act: the state.
Money as it is today is not a tool created by Capital in order to exploit labor workers and use the state to protect profits. It is a tool created and used mainly by the state and political power. The reason we see corporations and politics working so tightly together, i.e. in symbiosis, is not an effect of the state desperately trying to stay alive in corporate society. It is quite the opposite.
Controlling money is essential for government: if money is a voluntary, market-based and market-controlled commodity as a means of exchange it sets narrow limits of government influence, authority, and power. In a market with free money government is literally forced to act like any other actor in the market: it would be impossible to constantly mismanage public finances and deceive people as to what degree government controls society. Government would have to tax its subjects the exact amounts it intends to spend, since it would only be possible to borrow so much – and loans would have to be paid back.
Sound, free money would thus effectuate a strictly limited government and a government which would not be able to have a secret agenda. And most of all: such a government would not be able to wage wars unless absolutely necessary. To engage in war the state would have to get the funds like anybody else, i.e., borrow in the free market. Or it could (not like anybody else) tax citizens and make them directly finance murder abroad without being able to deceive them about the intents or real costs.
With a government-controlled money that is not based in real value (such as commodities or precious metals) all such restrictions immediately vaporize. Whenever the state wishes to engage in wars it can simply print more money and thus dilute money supply, which inevitably results in a decrease in the money’s purchasing power and thereby an indirect tax on its users.
Money printing has another effect, knowledge of which is essential to understanding the ingenuity of the money monopoly. The market doesn’t react immediately to the increase in money supply simply because there is no knowledge available on whether and how much money supply has been diluted; there is a “learning curve” to dilution, which means only when the increase in money gets publicly known through the price mechanism (increase in prices to adjust for the increase in the money available) will the full effect of it be seen.
In other words, those who learn about the increase first get to react to it before the market as a whole gains this knowledge. Increasing the money supply, government can thus reward friends and allies while indirectly punish others. With more money printed, government can purchase products from corporations it wishes to support (and even pay excess prices) and these corporations can use that money for profits or spending in a market that does not yet know all money is worth less.
Money, i.e., fiat money, is thus what grants political government its powers and offers a way to constantly let its representatives escape responsibility for their actions. It is thus the root of not only immoral and unmerited wealth – it is the root of all evils government can do (and does) when not being subjected to the laws of the market. It is the root of the system of government that chains us all and makes us slaves to its whims, quirks, and distortions. It is the root of poverty and the class system!
Fiat money and the command money system is what brings State and Capital together in a symbiosis of corruption that enriches those close to power and enslaves those further away. It thus seems money, in the sense of the fiat monetary system, is indeed the root of “all” evil. Such money is the enabler and driver of a corrupt system of power and force that thrives on the subjugation and exploitation of the people.
This kind of money must indeed be abolished, so that free men and women can establish free monies as enablers and drivers of universal prosperity through voluntary exchanges.