Stephen Zarlenga speaks at Bromsgrove Annual Conference, 2004
The War of Private Vs Public Control of Society’s Money Power
The Order of Battle: Adam Smith vs Aristotle
by Stephen Zarlenga
Bromsgrove Conference Oct. 12-14, 2004, Birmingham, UK.
A main arena of human struggle is over the monetary control of societies. It’s exercised through obscure theories where corrupt interests have misdefined the nature of money to seize control of the money power, dominating society and deforming humanity in the process.
The money system is society’s greatest dispenser of justice or injustice. A good one functions fairly, helping create values for life. A bad, unjust one obstructs the creation of values; gives special privileges to some and disadvantage to others causing unfair concentrations of wealth and power; leading to social strife and eventually warfare and a thousand unforeseen bad consequences – physical AND Spiritual.
Because great power is exercised through money, power-hungry elements from ancient times to the present pursued the political ambition to dominate through the Money Power. Their main weapon has been the manipulation of language and thought, where definitions serve as heavy artillery. Those benefiting from the corruption see that “professionals” are financed to promote their viewpoint with economic “theories.”
One reason economists have failed mankind so badly is their poor methodology – an over-reliance on theoretical reasoning. Alexander Del Mar the world’s greatest monetary historian noted:
“As a rule economists…don’t take the trouble to study the history of money; it is much easier to imagine it and to deduce the principles of this imaginary knowledge.”
This failure becomes staggering when combined with their reluctance to accurately define the terms of their theories.
This isn’t new – in 1827 Malthus wrote a book to complain about poor DEFINITIONS IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, noting:
“It is quite astonishing that Political Economists of reputation should be inclined to resort to any kind of illustration however clumsy and inapplicable, rather than refer to money.”
But when Malthus presented 60 “better” definitions; a definition of money is conspicuously absent.
ARISTOTLE’S SCIENCE OF MONEY
We can trace the money battle back to Aristotle’s time and even then it was fought through control of language and media. He outlined a science of money still valid today:
“All goods must therefore be measured by some one thing…now this unit is in truth, demand, which holds all things together…but money has become by convention a sort of representative of demand; and this is why it has the name nomisma – because it exists not by nature, but by law or binding custom (which in Greek was nomos) and it is in our power to change
it and make it useless.”
Aristotle identified money as an abstract legal power – a social invention. Its essence is not tangible wealth, but a power to obtain wealth – A crucial distinction. Plato agreed and advocated such fiat money for his Republic:
“They will need a market place, and a money-token for purposes of exchange.”
Aristotle outlines the science and Plato’s writings are in full agreement. Moreover we find these key principles actually employed in both Greek and Roman Systems.
Aristotle explained that money is not a commodity And in clear demonstration of that principle, the Spartans purposely destroyed the commodity value of their iron money, dipping it in vinegar while hot.
He explained that society can legally create the money and can also make it useless. In clear demonstration Roman law set the value of their fiat copper money and Rome decried some money as useless during the Punic Wars, demonetizing the copper money held by towns wavering in allegiance.
Plato’s Republic explained how commodity money was to be restricted to foreign trade, and a series of Rome’s coins are examples of that.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN PRIVATE MONEY and GOVERNMENT MONEY
Evidence of a fight over the money in Aristotle’s time is that his term for money –”nomisma” is seldom found in early Greek texts. It’s in Herodotus in the 400s BC, but not again until Aristotle, over a hundred years later. We think the nomisma concept was suppressed in an ongoing struggle between the oligarchy – a kind of private “old Boy Network” -
arrayed against public money, and the more democratic, public sphere of the Greek Polis, which introduced and controlled the new nomisma payment mechanism.
This private vs public struggle has continued to today! In Aristotles Greece it was the Old Oligarchy vs the Polis.
In Rome it became the plutocracy versus Rome. After the Punic wars weakened Rome’s money system, she regressed to silver then gold, and then civil war contenders privately issued coinage. Wealth concentrated and the general population
regressed into slavery. The breakdown of Law and money worked the one upon the other for centuries in a downward spiral of societal decay. Even commodity money came close to vanishing in the dark ages in the West.
In England the struggle became the goldsmiths vs the Monarchy representing society. Later it was the Bank of England vs. Society.
Until then England’s money power was in the Monarch’s hands. But from that point, bank of England credits would be substituted in place of public money. This promoted a confusion between credit, and money, to this day. But they are different things. Credit depends on the creditor remaining solvent. REAL MONEY DOES NOT PROMISE TO PAY SOMETHING ELSE.
Money is on a higher order than Credit.
Those behind the Bank of England obscured the real source of the Bank’s power – ITS LEGAL PRIVILEGE – its notes were accepted in payments to the government. Recovering the science of money, for the private profit of a small group produced harmful results: 120 years of continuous warfare spawned an unpayable national debt leading to excessive taxation leading to horrors like the Irish Potato Famine. Before then, when a nation’s money system was used for taxation, the revenue generally aided the society. But the Bank of England concentrated society’s resources in the wrong hands, crippling the possibility for government to function properly, leading to a growing contempt of government.
Today it’s still the bankers versus the society. In philosophical shorthand it can be expressed as Adam Smith, or present day Economics vs Aristotle. But at base, the battle remains Private Money vs. Public Money. The outcome determines whether the money system operates to serve the few in control, or the whole society.
WHAT DETERMINES THE OUTCOME OF THE STRUGGLE???
It’s determined by society’s concept of money – its definition of money. I’ll give a case study from American history shortly. Who controls the language will control the monetary power will control the society will influence the language, etc. This places real importance on how you Brits write, talk and think about money.
Mankind can live under various forms of government from dictatorship to republic, but the best systems are those in harmony with human nature. Likewise many things can be made into money, but the best will be the ones in harmony with the nature of money.
Remember: don’t confuse money with tangible wealth. Yes, commodities can be improperly monetized by law. The result will make the money system hostage to the commodities situation; hostage to the people, companies, countries that control the commodity. Ultimately it removes the monetary power from society and places it into the hands of the wealthy.
And don’t confuse money with credit – either private or public credit. Yes private credits can be improperly monetized by law. But that gives great privilege to those whose credits have been monetized, to the detriment of the whole society. The money system then becomes an engine of injustice – as it is now.
Accountants have confused this by calling different things by the same name. When money is placed into an account, it can be recorded as a credit there, but that does not make the nature of money a credit. Monetizing private credit removes the monetary power from society and places it into the hands of the bankers. I ask you to make an effort to separate these
concepts in your mind, and see where it leads you.
Today there is an effort to remove the concept of money from our language and replace it with a concept of credit.
ADAM SMITH VS. ARISTOTLE
Smith helped erect a Mythology of Money obscuring the science of money. History and thought shows moneys essence to be an abstract legal power, but economists still argue whether it should be a commodity like gold; or a private credit issued by banks. Economics has never properly defined money! The “father of economics” himself – Adam Smith – promoted this confusion by attacking the legal concept of money in his definition:
“By the money price of goods it is to be observed, I understand always, the quantity of pure gold or silver for which they are sold, without any regard to denomination of the coin.”
Smith’s primitive misdefinition of money as a commodity insinuated a mythology of money into economics in 1776, from which it has not recovered. He did this despite the work of Berkeley, Locke and Franklin, from 1729 to 1735, which more accurately identified money’s abstract nature.
The Bank of England had advanced to abstract money; not in theory, but in practice. Smith regressed in theory from coinage (moneta) to ponderata – metal by weight – where the concept of money had been before the Romans arrived. His theory applied to their practice caused confusion and created mystery to this day. Interestingly, Marx did no better.
A priesthood of economists was recruited, trained and rewarded to promote the myths; ignoring the evidence to the contrary; disregarding its bad effects on the people. Thus the great 19th century English reformer Thomas Michael Sadler observed:
“Economists are the Pests of Society and the persecutors of the poor.”
USURY VIOLATES THE NATURE/PURPOSE OF MONEY
Those Promoting Usury viciously Attacked Aristotle’s strong condemnations of capitalism’s brat – usury. He pointed out how usury was against the nature/purpose of money:
“The most hated sort (of wealth getting), and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange but not to increase at interest. And this term interest (tokos), which means the birth of money from money is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring
resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of getting wealth, this is the most unnatural.” (1258b, POLITICS)
Bacon harshly attacked him: “Aristotle… full of ostentation…”(Works, p.800) and
“Aristotle so confident and dogmatical” (Works, P.850)
“barren of the production of works for the benefit of the life of man.”
Jeremy Bentham’s 1787 Defense of Usury went after Aristotle with a vengeance.
“… ‘to trace an error to its fountain head is to refute it’ …. If our ancestors have been all along under a mistake… how came
the dominion of authority over our minds?”
One would naturally think he is going to cite the strong Old Testament admonitions against usury – particularly since Bentham’s father was Jewish – but no he ignores those prohibitions completely; he is after Aristotle:
“Aristotle: that celebrated heathen… with all his industry and all his penetration, notwithstanding the great number of pieces of money that had passed through his hands … and notwithstanding the uncommon pains he had bestowed on the subject of generation, had never been able to discover in any one piece of money any organs for generating any
other such piece. Emboldened by so strong a body of negative proof he ventured … an universal proposition, that all money is in nature barren…(he didn’t consider) though a Daric would not beget another Daric, … yet for a Daric which a man borrowed he might get a ram or an ewe … and that the ewes would probably not be barren.”
The same erroneous justification Calvin used. The Scholastics had shown it was the “ewes” not the coins that create more ewes. Like present day economists, these fellows couldn’t read well. Today, those supporting usury have given up on fighting Aristotle, because they are getting away with misinterpreting him in a false embrace as Ayn Rand and Knut Wicksell’s translator did. (Time limits this discussion. This does not mean AMI opposes all interest, which is distinguished from usury. Please see our Talk on Usury to Lord Sudeley’s Monday Club, at our web site.)
HOW PRIVATE CENTRAL BANKING STARTED IN AMERICA IN THREE STEPS
First Step: Our Constitutional Convention, considered two grand themes on humanity: First whether mankind could be self-governing. This American experiment is still in doubt because the Convention mishandled the other grand theme over the nature money.
They met from May to September 1787 but the money subject didn’t came up til August 16. Jefferson and Paine weren’t there. Franklin was too old to speak.
A curious book on money appeared, written anonymously by Calvinist clergyman John Witherspoon. The book attacked Government money and promoted Adam Smith’s primitive view that only gold and silver are money. It stonewalled our hard won colonial monetary experience.
The power for government to create money, long considered a necessary part of sovereignty was already in the articles of Confederation, but the Federalists fought to exclude this crucial power from the new government, arguing that it could not be trusted with it! Some of them intended to get hold of the power privately as had been done in England.
THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE of understanding the nature of money now becomes evident: For if money obtains its value from “intrinsic” qualities, it could be viewed more as a creature of merchants and bankers than of governments.
But if money’s essence is an abstract social institution obtaining value through law, then its a creature of government and the Constitution had better deal with it adequately. Describing how a uniform currency is to be provided, controlled and kept reasonably stable, in a just manner. The Constitutional Convention faltered on this crucial question.
The delegates accepted Smith’s primitive concept of money and didn’t firmly place the money power into government’s hands, leaving it ambiguous.
But the Power would still exist. What I’m suggesting is that human affairs require government to have four branches, not three; the fourth branch to administer the money power.
The Constitution left the money power up for grabs. Alexander Hamilton wasted no time in grabbing.
The Second Step was The Bond Theft:
The Constitution went into effect in late 1789. Hamilton’s first move as Secretary of the Treasury, was to assume $15 million of the state debts…an extremely unpopular act. WHY?
The worthless debt was held by the revolutionary soldiers, farmers, manufacturers and merchants who furnished its supplies. As Congress secretely passed the bill behind closed doors, the country was overrun by speculators, buying up the certificates for pennies on the dollar.
THIRD STEP: NEXT HAMILTON AND ASSOCIATES, having kept the monetary power out of government, moved to assume it themselves. Arguing that the Bank of North America was only a state bank, Hamilton suggested it come forward if it wanted to alter itself for the national purpose. It was the only bank in the U.S. being formed during the revolution on Tom
Paine’s initiative. Curiously, the Bank of North America took no steps toward this obvious increase in profit and power.
Hamilton’s Federalists quickly put through legislation chartering the First Bank of The United States, as a privately owned central bank on the Bank of England model. The Bank would be issuing paper notes not really backed by metal, but pretending to be redeemable in coinage, on the one condition that not a lot of people asked for redemption! They never had enough coinage.
Thus the real question was whether it would be private banks or the government that would issue paper money. Will the immense power and profit of issuing currency go to the benefit of the whole nation, or to the private bankers? That’s always been the real monetary question in America.
Gold and silver served as a smoke-screen. What the bankers counted on were the legal considerations of the money. They knew that all that was needed to give their paper notes value, was for the government to accept them in payment for taxes. That, and not issuing too excessive a quantity. Under those conditions, the paper notes they printed out of thin air, would be a claim on any wealth existing in the society.
And we see why the Bank of North America was not put forward for this purpose: the U.S. Government had owned 60% of it. Thomas Willing resigned the Presidency of the Bank of North America, to become President of the first Bank of The U.S. The government would only own 20% of the new bank.
Just where did the money for first bank of the U.S. came from? Remember the bond theft?
The $10 million subscription for the banks’ shares, was oversubscribed within 2 hours. Only 1/10 of it was ever paid in gold. The rest was accepted in the form of bonds – the government bonds that Hamilton had turned from pennies on the dollar to full value. The money for the private bank actually came from the American people.
Even if the bank had “faithfully” stuck to gold and silver, the nation’s monetary power would still have been alienated to the east – to the European holders of those commodities. Same people we’d just fought the revolution against!
Thanks to Jefferson’s efforts, the bank was liquidated in 1811. Three quarters of it was found to be owned by English and Dutch.
So in the trickery used to start the bank, Would you blame the “government” or Hamilton’s crowd?
COMPARING THE RESULTS OF PRIVATE VERSUS PUBLIC CONTROL
A Science of money shows that issuing money belongs in the hands of the nation to be used for the common good. A Plutocracy counters with a mythology – the slur that government – the organized expression of our society can’t handle it. Centuries of propaganda raise the fear of inflation and abuse under government money, even though the record shows much greater monetary abuse by private systems. In this campaign they still advertise the 700 year old cases of monarchs “debasing” their coinage, but NEVER give the context that this period occurred after the collapse of European monetary order with the fall of Byzantium in 1204. Not mentioned is that much of the Kingly alterations were a necessary form of taxation, or that REPUBLICS fared much better than monarchies or that private bankers caused greater problems.
As an island community your Kings did pretty well on money:
In 1346 Parliament tried to gain control over money but was refused. In 1414 Parliament tried to get veto power on money but was again refused. Breckenridge thought parliament failed because the English King’s long standing monetary prerogative had been used responsibly. Shaw’s History of Currency, written in 1896, could identify only one case of monarchical coinage irresponsibility:
“This instance of debasement (1545-46 under Henry VIII) is the only one on record in English currency history,” he wrote, and it amounted to a grand debasement of about 15%! WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? If your mental impression of that case is a lot worse, it shows how effective the propaganda is.
The distinguished conservative journalist Henry Hazlitt epitomized this modern day reigning error on money in his introduction to Andrew Dickson White’s essay, Fiat Money Inflation in France, a classic attack on government:
“(The) world has failed to learn the lesson of the Assignats. Perhaps the study of the other great inflations – of John Law’s experiments with credit in France …; of the history of our own Continental currency …; of the Greenbacks of our Civil War; of the great German inflation that culminated in 1923 – would help to underscore and impress that lesson. Must we, from this appalling and repeated record, draw once more the despairing conclusion that the only thing man learns from history is that man learns nothing from history?”
Hazlitt really believed history backed up his viewpoint, but it doesn’t, when one bothers to look.
And lets take a look – First THE CONTINENTAL CURRENCY of the American Revolution. $200 million were authorized and $200 million issued. They functioned well until General Howe made New York City the center for British counterfeiting. You Brits counterfeited billions of our Continentals. If you ever find out how many, please let us know for the
record! Newspaper ads openly offered the forgeries; yet General Clinton complained:
“The experiments suggested by your Lordships have been tried, no assistance that could be drawn from the power of gold or the arts of counterfeiting have been left untried; but still the currency…has not failed.”
The Continentals carried us over 5½ years of Revolution to within 6 months of final victory. Tom Paine wrote:
“Every stone in the Bridge, that has carried us over, seems to have a claim upon our esteem. But this was a corner stone …But to suppose as some did, that, at the end of the war, it was to grow into gold or silver… was to suppose that we were to get 200 millions of dollars by going to war, instead of paying the cost of carrying it on.”
The Continental Currency gave us a nation.
FRANCE’s MONEY SYSTEM was brought down by JOHN LAW a fugitive Scottish gambler.
But Law’s operations were structured as private companies despite his recommending governmental structures. After an initial widely hailed success in 1720, his main focus became raising the price of the private company shares. Law’s system was thus largely a failure of private money speculation. The more obvious lesson is that its not a good idea to turn your nation’s money system over to a professional gambler wanted for murder in his home country! DUH.
FRANCE’S later ASSIGNATS from 1789 were government issued, but in a society ruined by aristocratic extravagance and revolution. In the money battle White’s short book Fiat Money Inflation in France is a major propaganda weapon against government money and is direct evidence of how the battle is fought. But the book was written in 1876 during the
Greenback battles, 100 years after the Assignats, to block the Greenbacks. Stephen Dillaye writes us that White, whose inherited fortune arose from banking, neglected to mention that Britain counterfeited far more Assignats than the French ever created. This was documented in English court cases where the counterfeiters sued each other! Whites book has
somehow been continuously kept in print by conservative foundations, the latest being the Cato Institute; Dillaye’s important essay, out of print for 125 years is quite rare but we managed to find one, and will reprint it.
WELL SURELY GERMANY’S 1923 HYPERINFLATION condemns government money!!
Sorry – But in fact that occurred under a privately owned and privately controlled Reichsbank. Furthermore the hyperinflation began the very month that all German governmental influence on the bank was removed and placed in private hands at the insistence of the occupation forces. Furthermore Hjalmar Schacht tells us in his 1967 book The Magic of
Money, that this private Reichsbank actually facilitated the hyperinflation by financing the speculators short sales of the mark. He didn’t mention these things in his 1928 book on the subject.Do you see the pattern that emerges from these monetary fiascos? Can you see that the Austrian School, to say the least – is not accurately relating the facts on these episodes?
AND THE AMERICAN GREENBACKS?
Again this case doesn’t stand scrutiny. $450 million were authorized and $450 million were printed. Counterfeiters couldn’t duplicate the Greenbacks. Every Greenback was eventually exchangeable one for one with gold coin. The Greenbacks were our best money system to date.
But Greenbacks were not promises to pay money later – they were the money. Since they were not borrowed, they did not give rise to interest payments and did not add to any national debt. The U.S. Treasury printed them and spent them into circulation. Neither were they public credit! Knowledgeable reformers – Butler – apparently aware of this conceptual problem referred to them as certificates of value – MONEY is the better term!
AND WHAT IF instead of being spent on destruction, they went into building infrastructure, and canals and roads? Spending such money on infrastructure need not be inflationary. THE GREAT LESSON OF THE GREENBACKS Is That In Times Of Crisis – and other times too – our nation has Power to do what’s financially necessary. We don”t have to beg or borrow from the wealthy and create an astronomical national debt; or tax the middle class into oblivion, or cancel necessary programs. We can use the nations’ sovereign money power far more than we presently have been allowed to realize.
AMI’s PROPOSED REFORMS
First: Nationalize the Federal Reserve System. Reconstitute it in the US Treasury, to evolve into a fourth branch of government. Only the government would create money. What would such government money look like? Well you have some in your pockets right now. Coin Vs Paper Money.
SECOND: Remove the privilege which banks presently have to create money. This is done through an elegant and gentle process which automatically turns all the previously issued bank credit into real American money. 100% reserves are reached not by calling in loans but by increasing reserves. This would be neither inflationary or deflationary. It would make real, what was thought to be the money supply. UNDERSTAND This is very different from simply demanding 100% reserves,
which would wreck the economy.
THIRD: institute programs for automatic, constitutionally determined government money creation, starting with the 2 trillion $ which the Civil Engineers need to bring our infrastructure up to acceptable levels. From there we go forward carefully determining how to best run the monetary system, and thoughtfully use Aristotle’s method, we learn by doing.
What difference would reconstituting the money power in government make? Government money goes into infrastructure; better life; better jobs; education, safer roads, cleaner water; better health care; social security, etc. Society is empowered by being able to direct the money power to solve pressing problems rather than into useless speculation. We no longer have to say we can’t afford it, when so many people and resources are unemployed!
These three reforms can be closer than we think; and in a crisis situation if only 5% of the citizenry has an awareness of the societal/legal nature of money, they could be enacted.
SUMMARIZING FOUR DESTRUCTIVE THRUSTS OF ADAM SMITH/ECONOMICS:
The Money “error, the Attack on Society/Government; the Smithian Free Trade Trap; and Smith’s Selfishness Assumption.
THE ATTACK ON GOVERNMENT/SOCIETY/HUMANITY
Beneath the battle of public vs private money, there really lies an attack on government, which really cannot be separated from society. This is so important in monetary matters because we find that the modern 250 year attack on government originated largely in Adam Smith’s efforts to keep the monetary power within the Bank of England. Smith glorified the Bank and obscured its private ownership saying it functioned as “a great engine of state.” He attacked government issued money.
“A revenue of this kind has even by some people been thought not below the attention of so great an Empire as that of Great Britain…But whether such a Government as that of England – which, whatever may be its virtues, has never been famous for good economy; which, in time of peace, has generally conducted itself with the slothful and negligent profusion that is perhaps natural to monarchies; and in time of war has constantly acted with all the thoughtless extravagance that democracies are apt to fall into – could be safely trusted with the management of such a project, must at least be a good deal more doubtful.” (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations; p.358 – in the Great Books collection, vol. 39)
Smith’s insulting attacks on the English Government marks the modern beginning of a relentless attack on society – the belittling and smearing of its organizational form – government. The single organization potentially able to block plutocracy’s encroachments. Smith also inadvertently illuminates the major purpose of this attack: – to keep the money
power in private hands.
Every day in America we see examples of how this disease has reached epidemic proportions. It has spread from the Austrian economists, and Hayek and Ayn Rand to their intellectual heir Rush Limbaugh and his propaganda radio.
Furthermore we find that the fraudulent monetary attack on government is also at the base of sources of the freedom diversion as practiced by the Libertarians. An example is how Robert Nozick launches his State, Anarchy, Utopia book, one of the Libertarians bibles, on Menger’s false notion of the Origin of Money right on page 18. Thus AMI Research Paper # 1
is A Refutation of Menger’s Theory Of The Origin of Money.
THE “FREEDOM” DIVERSION
In addition to Smith’s Monetary error and his attack on government – an attack on society really – there is what’s been referred to as “the Smithian Free Trade Trap.” To understand that trickery as it relates to international trade, now Globalism, you simply must read Frederich List’s National System of Political Economy. (Its linked and freely available at the AMI Links page)
List showed that while England aggressively promoted Smith’s “free trade” ideas to other countries, she herself pursued a very different policy herself, which was to import raw materials and apply mechanical power to them in a production process. England was thus applying the principles of the industrial revolution, but tried to hide that fact from other nations.
The “Freedom Mantra” is now placed on all sorts of doubtful practices to cleanse their image and shield them from closer scrutiny. For example, the Iraq horror is officially termed operation “Enduring Freedom.” By labeling any activity, however criminal, with the word “free,” you are expected to kneel and worship it.
“Free Market” Worship shows itself to be more a religion to be obeyed, rather than an economic policy to be analyzed and critiqued. The market is held to be omnipotent, omniscient, and beneficial – the three attributes of a deity. A strange deity that abhors morality; Served by an Austrian/Libertarian priesthood that confuses Ayn Rand novels as historical evidence.
The Free Banking Movement is one example. They set aside the universal condemnation of free banking as mere “anecdotal evidence” which they think they can whitewash with theories. But in my book I point out the six major errors of this so-called “free banking” movement (Ch. 16), including their misidentifying the free banking period in America.
There’s now a danger that the Austrians will try to channel local currency advocates toward a form of free banking. We have already been down that dead end road, and it would be a shame to divert otherwise healthy people into wasting energy there.
FINALLY REGARDING THE SELFISHNESS ERROR, Henry George eloquently described Smith’s Selfishness error:
“Buckles understanding of Political Economy was that it eliminated every other feeling than selfishness.” Wherein Smith ‘generalizes the laws of wealth, not from the phenomena of wealth, nor from statistical statements, but from the phenomena of selfishness; thus making a deductive application of one set of mental principles to the whole set of economical facts. He
everywhere assumes that the great moving power of all men, all interests and all classes, in all ages and in all countries is selfishness…indeed Adam Smith will hardly admit common humanity into his theory of motives.’” (SPE, 89, 90)
Consider the negative impact on humanity of Smith’s selfishness assumption: If Man is defined in such a base manner and systems of laws with their rewards and punishments are enforced along those lines, then over time, they will tend to create a form of humanity in “harmony” with their false concept of an economic mankind.
This de-evolutionary process, encouraging a lower form of humanity has been ongoing especially in the English speaking world for well over 2 centuries. The work of great English novelists such as Charles Dickens may have slowed it, but didn’t stop it. Henry George saw exactly where it would lead:
“Nor can we abstract from man all but selfish qualities in order to make as the object of our thought…what has been called ‘economic man’, without getting what is really a monster, not a man.” (SPE, 99)
George substituted a different concept for Smith’s destructive error:
“The fundamental principle of human action … is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion.”(P&P, 203)
Then taking a giant step, he poetically described the essence of humanity-
THE “FORCE OF FORCES”:
“It is not selfishness that enriches the annals of every people with heroes and saints… that on every page of the world’s history bursts out in sudden splendor…that turned (Buddhas’ back to his royal home or bade (Joan of Arc) lift the sword from the altar; that held the Three Hundred (Spartans) in the Pass of Thermopylae, or gathered into Winkelreid’s bosom the
sheaf of spears…Call it religion, patriotism, or the love of God – give it what name you will; there is yet a force which overcomes and drives out selfishness; a force which is the electricity of the moral universe; a force beside which all others are weak…I call this force destiny toward human nature – a higher, nobler nature than we generally manifest…And this force of forces – that now goes to waste or assumes perverted forms – we may use for the strengthening, and building up, and ennobling of society, if we but will…”(P&P, 463)
Look around this room and you will see evidence that Henry George was correct. All of you could have found easier ways to achieve profit and or power; comfort and or repose, than the life tracks you have chosen. I’ll guess that the main factor in your choices has been a reaction to the need for justice, not merely utility in human relations. We need to spread that worldview and basis for human action, by giving proper respect when we see it in others; in our writings and talks and relations. And always remember that morality and greater fairness in society are ultimately highly utilitarian. People do (and should!) react to being treated honestly. The ramifications for their society means that justice, in particular basing our money systems in fairness, is a highly useful policy. In this process we can give those who presently obstruct human development for private gain, what they’ve denied to the rest of us, we can give them justice too.
EXTRA STUFF FOR QUESTION PERIOD
Sun Tzu in the Art of War discussed amateur techniques compared to the present methods used in the money battles. You know a lot of Wall Street people were drawn to Sun Tzu as part of their ethos, comparing themselves to warriors or grand strategists. He discusses how the best victory is to convince the opponent that they can’t win or even fight.
The present control takes it much further: Where the conceptualizations for the thought and action processes do not even exist – where the word concepts for possible victory are being driven out of the English language. Thus today even good reformers often use the term and idea of credit, when they want to be talking about MONEY.