Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cutting the Gordian Knot

In a comment to my post of March 15, The Rain in Spain, Maju asked a simple question, which I promised to answer in a future post:
You say abolish money... but how? It needs more than just supressing money: it needs real nationalization or collectivization of all. Today's ecnomy is not anymore a farm economy of self-sufficiency: every single productive process is interdependent with too many others. I think that more important than abolishing money is to make corporate decissions democratic and accountable to the workers and the public in general. The primary goal is to abolish any kind of organization that doesn't work by the principle: one person, one vote. Including corporations and religious sects.
Actually what I'd written was
We’ve woven a Gordian knot out of all these trillions of dollars worth of MONEY and are now desperately looking for some magic formula that will untangle it for us. So why not, simply, take up the sword of Alexander, who was not called “Great” for nothing, and cut the knot? Kill the money. Let all the leaders of the most heavily invested, and therefor most at-risk, nations meet and agree to simply do away with money. Or, at least, money as we now know it.
Cutting the Gordian Knot of our monetary system is actually even simpler than what Alexander did, because this system has already self-destructed. So in this respect what it would mean to cut the Gordian Knot would be to simply acknowledge that fact. Stop trying to revive a paper corpse and start concentrating on the real problems of real people. The alternative now being pursued by the US government in its efforts to shore things up will take longer, but will ultimately be even more effective because it will demonstrate in no uncertain terms that the old monetary system can no longer work. The more money that's printed, the less money is going to matter. This is not simply a question of generating runaway inflation, because inflation per se is not really what's most important. What's most important is meaning.

The electronic printing of trillions of dollars by the flick of a switch is in itself a demonstration that money no longer has any meaning, regardless of whether or not "inflationary forces" are at work. Because money cannot be separated from value and real value cannot be generated out of thin air. As this "money" comes increasingly into play in the world economy, its dubious meaning will undermine everyone's confidence, not only in the value of the new money, but the value of money in general -- because there will be no way to tell the difference. No one will any longer want to accept dollars, of course, but it will go much farther, because the value of all the world's currencies are tied to the dollar. This is why a UN panel recently suggested that the world should ditch the dollar. Ditching the dollar as the universal reserve currency would already be one way of cutting the Gordian Knot. But it will not solve the problem so long as the powers that be insist on reviving the old monetary system, a process that will still require the extravagant printing of currency of some kind, dollars or no.

So the first thing to be understood about the question of abolishing money is that this is already what is happening, the Gordian Knot is being cut as we speak -- by the very people hoping to gradually and carefully unwind it. But it's a slow process that has the potential to be extremely destructive. Why? Because every government is now concentrating on reviving its economic corpses and not paying enough attention to certain very serious social and human problems to be found among real, living people.

What I recommend, therefore, is to really then just cut that knot, as quickly and suddenly as possible. A meeting of the General Assembly of the UN could be called and there could then be a general agreement to abolish money as we know it. And with the money, all the accumulated debts that are at the heart of our current dilemma. In the past such agreement would have been almost impossible to achieve, because there would be certain nations that owed more debt than others, and the ones holding such debts would feel cheated if all such debts were canceled. But in the current climate every nation's economy is so closely bound up with every others that such a decision should come as a great relief to all -- once they are mentally and emotionally able to deal with the enormous paradigm shift, aka "gateless gate," that they would have to pass through. Perhaps a two week retreat in a Zen ashram would be a good idea for all the delegates before they vote on such a measure.

"Does a dog have the Buddha mind?" NO! Now rephrase the question: "Does this dog have the Buddha mind?" Again, NO. At this moment the dog (i.e., you yourself) will have attained the Buddha mind -- and there will no longer be any need to ask the question.

To be continued . . .


  1. Sorry I did not follow the discussion. It seems there's no easy way to mark each individual thread for email subscription (something common in Blogger comments, by just clicking on a box as you post). You may want to fix that.

  2. Thanks for reminding me of that problem, Maju. I just now added that feature -- see upper right. But the only subscription feature I could find pertains only to the blog as a whole, not any particular thread. I'll see if I can find a way to subscribe to each thread individually but I don't recall seeing anything like that on Blogspot.


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