Friday, October 10, 2014

The disaster of money becoming its own moral imperative

From David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years1:
All of this helps explain why the Church had been so uncompromising in its attitudes toward usury. It was not just a philosophical question; it was a matter of moral rivalry. Money always has the potential to become a moral imperative unto itself. Allow it to expand and it can quickly become a morality so imperative that all others seem frivolous in comparison.
This is it folks, this is where we are in the West and increasingly (though to a lesser degree) in the East as well. Graeber goes on to discuss that the structure of corporations are "designed to eliminate all moral imperatives but profit."

This is where we lose our humanity, when we are nothing but bean counters scrambling to have more beans than we had before, more than the next guy, more than the next corporation. This may seem like an ueber-obvious observation, but it's important to stand back a bit from society and see how this plays out in reality.

With profit being the primary imperative, it becomes acceptable to let people go a week before retirement after having worked at a company for a lifetime. This isn't "the market", nor is it anything desirable in any human sense. It's the apex of the evil nature of man so eloquently discussed by Xunzi2. It's this imperative which also has paved the way for a U.S. government which gives large sums to profit-seeking banks as a bail-out, the selfsame banks which were a major part of economic collapse and resulting house foreclosures, rather than using the same large sums to essentially pay down the mortgages. This would have had the same functional effect to the economy and the balance sheet's of the lenders, but it would have also had the human effect of keeping people in their homes.

What kind of a world do we want to live in? We have inherited this one and largely haven't made it better. The first step for us is to recognize where we are standing.


[1] From David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years
[2] Xunzi

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