I was speaking with a dear but generally geographically distant friend this morning about many subjects under this 38 degree sun we have in Spain today. One of the purposes of the meeting was to see if – together – we can get a publishing project off the ground.
The other purpose was simply to manifest our friendship again.
And I wondered whilst we talked about the crises affecting our respective countries whether we weren’t in the middle of a longer-term conflict – as damaging and destructive as it has been alleged the Battle of Civilisations will prove to be for a world divided by that uncertain interaction between the determinedly secular and the fanatically religious.
Yes. It’s time to talk about money again.
As I spoke with my friend, I voiced the following idea: can we agree that on the one hand we have the stratospherically powerful who only seem to find a reason for living in the moving of money back and forth? If we can accept that is the case, we can then argue equally fairly that these people are only capable of measuring the different components of life in terms of monetary gain. They may already have failed dramatically in their own private or family circles – yet they assuredly achieve success in fields where they themselves may act as judge and jury. They determine the goalposts in pecuniary terms they already dominate: how on earth, then, could they fail at what they set out to do?
For many years of my life, I have accepted the above reality as one which – whether inevitable or not – failed to impact on my own values; which meant I really didn’t take much notice. But, one day (in the middle of multiple crises which assail us from all sides to such an extent that we now seem to walk punch drunk through our lives as if impacted by the aftershocks of an earthquake), I suddenly saw myself beginning to change my hard-won points of view on the matter; I suddenly started to notice what they were up to.
If on the one hand, as pointed out above, the stratospherically powerful have chosen a path where only money counts, and if, as pointed out above, they have to date succeeded in their objectives to a greater or lesser degree, what happens when – on the other awful hand – their slowly encroaching consumerist reductionism hits the hard rock of my, and other people’s, refusal not only to pick up the tab for the manifest consequences of them being stratospherically inept but also to allow them to force us to lie down and accept a brazen bulldozing of what they see as our incompatible ways of seeing life?
Really, what I am floundering to say is that just as the famous War on Terror said “you’re either with us or against us” – and, by so doing, damaged the socialising instincts of a generation – so this very 21st century conflict between those who believe in money as a paradigm and those who see it as simply another useful tool (in order that one might reasonably attempt to survive what life always throws at one) is setting itself up to end in a very poor way: a very poor way precisely because neither side on the killing-field in question can possible appreciate the ways of seeing and doing of the other.
Money can do many marvellous things. But the pursuit of money – and its accumulation – brings out the very worst in human nature. The only problem is that those who act in this very worst way don’t see it like that. Those who act in the very poorest manners don’t see themselves as failing to achieve any goals.
Whilst those of us who don’t want to be stratospheric in the least just wish these other money-grabbing obsessives would leave us alone – in our bumbling and humanistically secular or, alternatively, lightly religious ways of doing and seeing humanity.
The reality is – of course – that three factors have now joined in terrible consonance: firstly, the stratospheric actors of this world have re-engineered our societies so that we, the ordinary souls who’d just like to live, have acquired too many credit cards, loans and mortgages to purchase the glittering baubles that supposedly define contentment – all tools, then, the stratospherics have been supposedly using to keep us quiet and in line; secondly, to their almost certain chagrin, they have demonstrated they are beginning to become incapable of fooling this ordinary society into believing any more that there is no alternative to the stratospherics high-level ineptness; thirdly, many socialising souls – sometimes people who love others in this life because they believe there is no other, sometimes people who love others because their kindly religion has taught them it is good to do so – are beginning to communicate their simple philosophies across massive social networks using the selfsame baubles whose purchase has led us to being in hock to the banks in the first place.
The monetisation of life leads to this, does it? A capitalism which begins to swallow its own tail?
I do hope so.
But I also wonder.
If the War on Terror finished so devastatingly for so many people – and still didn’t prevent the evildoers from doing their evil – what real hope can we entertain that those who would monetise life because that’s what drives them will allow the rest of us to see money as a simple extension of that famous thumb which lifted us up from the apes?
Perhaps those who have so much money need the rest of us to hanker after it too – because somewhere in their shady and emotionally limiting souls they do, after all, realise they may be wrong.
So what can we do?
I think it’s time to shrug off the shrines we build around what banks, cards and glittering baubles can do; time to free ourselves from that which must remain a necessary system of exchange for our complex societies.
Let us see money as an enabling function of lives ruled by proportionality and balance.
Let us fight to make our own spaces outside the scope of the stratospherics.
And, above all, let us ensure we use our clever hands to keep money and its adepts under our thumbs – instead of allowing them to keep us under theirs.
Another War on a Quite Different Terror? No. A Crusade against the Monetisation of Life!