Friday, 10 March 2017

Useless Money

"...someone [was] stupid enough to steal money right after the Change, of all useless things."
-SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter Ten, p. 289.

It is interesting to read about money being described as "useless." But it is inherently useless and would become totally useless after an event like the Change.

There was a time before money and there will be a time after it. I am confident of that latter statement because either there will come a time when technology produces such abundance that money is no longer necessary to control distribution or there will be a time when humanity is extinct. It is to be hoped that the former time comes first.

Money is:

a standardization of exchange;
an improvement on barter;
a means by which many survive and some, like van Rijn, become rich;
a speculative commodity, abstracted from material production and exchange.

Life will be better when it is no longer organized around money.


  1. Paul:
    Back when I was in college — that is, forty years ago — a professor had several satirical magazine cartoons posted on his door. One showed several well-dressed, obviously self-satisfied people at a posh banquet; one of the men was telling the others, "Money is life's report card."

    In other words, for people like that, it's not just about having enough to fulfill material needs. It's about having enough that you can rub in other people's faces the fact that they don't have as much. I've seen another cartoon, more recently, in which a wealthy fellow grouses, "What good is an economic upturn if it benefits everyone?"

    I believe — and I'm fairly sure from things he's posted that Sean agrees — that as long as humans are HUMAN, there will ALWAYS be people like that. And therefore there will always be a need for money, to satisfy their need to flaunt that they have more of it. If we educate that mindset out of the species, the result will be something other — maybe better, but OTHER — than humans as we know them.

    1. David,
      However, people brought up without money will have no idea of money as a status symbol. People living in republics have no idea of the divine right of kings. A British child growing up when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister was surprised to be told that a previous PM had been a man. I think that a lot of things that you see as inside people are really there because of the society that those people are living in. People have to live in some sort of society but societies differ enormously. Attitudes to homosexuality and smoking have reversed in my lifetime.

    2. Kaor, DAVID and Paul!

      You are exactly right! I see NO reason to think or expect that the urge to compete, amass wealth, or seek after power will EVER change in human beings. And that means I do NOT believe mere "education" will eliminate that kind of mindset from the human race: because it part of our very NATURE.

      Paul, regretfully, I disagree. Because I believe, even in a post scarcity economy (assuming that is even POSSIBLE) the desire for money will simply take other forms. Such as competing for higher status or power. And I strongly suspect Poul Anderson would agree with me. Even in the post scarcity society we see in GENESIS, people still competed for higher status or power via sports, the arts, or plain old intrigue. S.M. Stirling also contributed very similar remarks here lately.

      Nor do I think that all changes in "attitudes" are going to be good. For example, homosexuality per se is not a good thing. It is, rather, a sad reversal or inversion of a normal and healthy sexuality.


    3. Sean,
      Understood - if not also agreed. If I reply briefly or not at all on this issue in future, it will be because I suspect that we have thrashed it out as much as we are going to! New comments or iterations are always welcome though.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Many thanks! I appreciate your tolerance of a pessimistic reactionary like me! (Smiles)