The embryo of civilized behaviour came into existence with the introduction (by the market) of money 3,500 years ago. It was the beginnings of credit for commercial purposes. Goats and cows made for poor credit/debt instruments. The more widely Gold circulated, the more so did the need for honest dealings. Credit requires an honest debtor.
As honest dealings spread, so tribal enmities gave way to contact and commerce.
Circa 560B.C., King Croesus of Lydia is credited with minting the first Gold* coins of a set weight, thus giving a huge boost to Gold’s circulation. This was the point where Gold really moved into the realm of money. As noted by Herodotus, Lydia became home to the world’s first permanently situated retail shops. The Persian King Cyrus subsequently overran Lydia and adopted the practice of minting Gold coins – and also the practice of claiming a monopoly on the right to do so.
It was honest dealings that led to the beginnings of the formulation of morals in the Egyptians Book of the Dead.
1,500 years later that was simplified and codified with the Christian Ten Commandments.
The essence was love, tolerance and, above all, honesty. In the Christian West, this was accepted and then, eventually, feted as the very model of behaviour for those who aspired to social advancement and self-respect.
Where the demand of Gold for honesty was accepted, became civilized. Where it was not, stayed uncivilized. It was on this simple foundation that the West rose to prominence.
By the 19th century A.D., to be guilty of dishonest dealings permanently barred not only the perpetrator from financial markets, but his children.
When money was replaced by fiat debt notes in the West (in order to finance WW1), so, unwittingly, was removed the foundation of civilized behaviour. As we have moved ever further away from that point, so love, tolerance and honesty have come to appear ever-more meaningless and ‘old fashioned’.
By the 21st century, the evidence of the collapse of these attributes, known collectively as ‘decency’, is all around us.
The use of faux money by governments was convenient (for them) in the short term, but ruinous for the people – not just financially but, because of the aforementioned, morally and intellectually. Civilized behaviour has lost its value; honesty no longer accords with self-interest. Society is fragmenting back into its primitive tribal parts with an emphasis on ethnicity, climate gods, child sacrifice and weird sexual practices. Even slavery is on the rise again. Hating your neighbour because he thinks differently is again popular. In a world armed with nuclear weapons, this should cause alarm.
The less that honesty is valued and widespread, the more that business regulations are required. But more regulations, atop transactions skewed by faux money and further manipulated by one-size-fits-all interest rates, beget even more complex dishonesty.
The international trade that grew out of circulating money is slowly collapsing back to the national level.
Only the reintroduction of circulating money can and will remove the dishonesty which pervades all levels of the West’s decaying societies.
As civilized behaviour fell by the wayside, so the need for more control of the population arose. As more and more control of hoi polloi is ‘needed’ so the gap in perceptions and lifestyle between the managers and the managed becomes wider. In that manner are we returning to the days of Lords and Serfs. The new aristocracy is coming clearly into focus. The saving grace of the old aristocracy was that it had been based on the bravest and (sometimes) wisest. Today it is based on the most brazen of the charlatans and grifters who thrived under dishonest ‘money’. This was the real beginnings of the Managerial Class**. This is the group of people who indulge in the fantasy that the world is so complex that it needs a science-based managerial class to organize it and a new type of person to be organized – as in, the U.S.S.R. on steroids.
This is what lies behind today’s noticeable merging of the vectors of totalitarian despots and the West’s once proud democracies. Unmoored to the decency demanded by honest money, social standards have collapsed and the need for despotic management (control) by rulers, of all stripes, seems ever-more justified.
The irony and tragedy is that it was the removal of the use of Gold as money by governments which precipitated the crisis.
The self-created crisis of fiat money besets all governments, no matter whether they be liberal democracies or totalitarian socialists. That same underlying problem is what is driving them unerringly to the same destructive denouement.
Unless honest money again begins to circulate, there will be a revolution that will be akin to a 21st century version of the French Revolution. The foppish new aristocracy, with their attitude of ‘let them eat bugs’, will be hanged by their entrails from lampposts by an enraged populace.
And we, who believe ourselves still civilized, will cheer along with the mob, but it will be in celebration of the end of Western Civilization.
* In fact, they were electrum. This was almost certainly in order to lower the value of the coin to make it more useable. Pure Gold was, and remains, far too valuable to have much use in the everyday marketplace.
** This long article by N.S. Lyons is well worth reading in its entirety.